Jun 13 2010

Aware and Alive

yellow flowers 059
“…the joy of the Lord is your strength.”  Nehemiah 8:10

This weekend Bonita and I celebrated our 29th anniversary by going over to Cumberland Falls State Park.   As always, I took my camera with me (I have a very understanding wife!) thinking I might find something to photograph.  As we entered the park it was raining and I quickly noticed that everything was green.  This is not my favorite time of the year to photograph and I began to think that I’d probably brought my camera along for nothing.  Then I began to notice all of the flowers.

Around here we have wildflowers about nine months out of the year.  Maybe because they are almost always around I sometimes fail to pay them any attention.  This is just another example of ways we can take nature for granted.  Some of us have eyes only for the spectacular.  We fail to notice and appreciate the simple.

This reminds me of something Sigurd Olson wrote in his book, Open Horizons.  He said, “Joys come from simple and natural things, mists over meadows, sunlight on leaves, the path of the moon over water.  Even rain and wind and stormy clouds bring joy, just as knowing animals and flowers and where they live.  Such things are where you find them, and belong to the aware and alive.”

If we are not careful we will miss out on a lot of the joys God has intended for us in His Creation.  Doing so is equivalent to receiving a precious gift from someone and never noticing that it is even there.  Creation is God’s gift to us and certainly deserves to be noticed.  Recognizing that our joy is at stake, perhaps we should begin each day by praying that God would help us to be “aware and alive” and more cognizant of the “simple and natural things” around us. 


(The image above was taken yesterday near the entrance to Cumberland Falls State Park.)

Mar 10 2010

Worship and Creation Care

Cumberland-Falls-with-rainbow-2-(h)-crPresently I am teaching two small group studies on worship at my church.  The book we are studying is called Real Worship.  In one of the chapters we’ll be focusing on later today the author, Warren Wiersbe, offers some interesting insight on the correlation between worship and Creation Care. 

He writes, “If the church today were truly worshiping the Creator and not the creature, we Christians would be making better use of the precious resources God has given us.  The church would be speaking out against such sinful waste, and would also be setting the right kind of example.  If we really believed that we are stewards of God’s glorious creation, and if we praised Him sincerely for these bountiful gifts, we would never waste them, abuse them, or use them selfishly.  If God rejoices in His works (Ps. 104:31), then He must be deeply grieved by our works in destroying His creation.”

Later Wiersbe adds, “If worship transforms individuals and churches—and it does, if it is spiritual worship—then one of the evidences of this transformation will be seen in the way these individuals and churches use God’s gifts in creation.  It is not enough to sing on Sunday morning ‘This is My Father’s World’ and then live the rest of the week as though we were in charge.  This is idolatry.  This is turning God’s house into a den of thieves.”

These are strong words but they are true.  Worship and Creation Care cannot be separated.  On the back of my vehicle I have a bumper sticker that reads “If you love the Creator, take care of Creation.”  It might just as well say, “If you worship the Creator, take care of Creation.”  Worship implies that we acknowledge God’s “worth.”  As the world’s Creator and Redeemer He is worthy of our worship.  If we will recognize God’s true status we will give Him glory and praise.  We will, likewise, seek to take care of the world He has made.  It all goes together.  I just wish more people understood that.


(The image above was taken at Cumberland Falls State Park near Corbin, Kentucky.)

Sep 27 2009

Down By The Riverside

Cumberland Falls fall river view vThis past Wednesday I led a Bible study on Acts 16.  In the story of Paul’s second missionary journey he and his partners pay a visit to Philippi.  When Paul entered a new city he would typically begin his work by speaking at the local synagogue.  Philippi did not have one so we read, “On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer.”  What Paul found was a group of women praying.  From this group would emerge the church of Philippi—the recipients of the Book of Philippians.

I find it interesting that Paul and his companions “expected” to find a place of prayer down by the riverside.  Why?  What was it that led him to believe this?  Apparently it was not uncommon in that day for people to gather by a river to worship.  In the case at Philippi it may have been that the river “outside the city gate” provided some protection from local authorities who might not understand this group’s beliefs.  Still, we know that others in different locations also gathered by rivers to worship.  Why?

Rivers play a prominent role in the Scriptures.  In numerous instances it is by a river that God makes Himself known to someone.  People such as Jacob, Joshua, Ezekiel, and Daniel could testify to this, as could Jesus.  It was by the River Jordan that Jesus heard God say, “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”  

In that time, rivers came to represent the source of life for many.  This makes sense considering most of the biblical narrative unfolds in an arid region.  Rivers have also long been associated with cleansing.  Most of the world’s religions have rituals involving water and usually they imply cleansing.  Christianity is no different.  Later some came to see rivers as symbolic of God’s ever-flowing love and mercy.  For others, a place to lay down their burdens as suggested by the song, Down By the Riverside.

Perhaps people have gathered near rivers to worship simply for the beauty and peace they find there.  For the way that God seems nearby in His Creation.  I’m certainly glad we have beautiful sanctuaries to worship in today, but like those in the Scriptures, I often find myself drawn to a riverside, a forest or a mountain to worship my God and Savior.  I cannot help but believe that there is good reason to do so.


(The picture above is of the Cumberland River at Cumberland Falls State Park, Kentucky.)