Jan 18 2012

King of Creation and Us

 There are quite a few different types of psalms found in the Book of Psalms.  Interestingly, the largest number of psalms are laments.  Other types include psalms of trust, psalms of thanksgiving, and hymns.  Still yet another type is royal or enthronement psalms.  This latter type exalts God as King and emphasizes His rule over both humans and Creation.  The psalms that fall in this category are Psalms 47, 93, 96, 97, 98 and 99.  Scholars believe that this collection was used periodically to remind Israel that Yahweh was the King of kings and the Ruler of the universe.

If you take a look at these six psalms you’ll discover that there are lots of references to the earth.  In Psalm 47 the Psalmist twice refers to God as the “great king over all the earth.”  It is clear that one of the primary reasons Israel viewed God as King was their recognition that He was the Creator of earth.  They believed that it was Yahweh who “firmly established” the earth and because of this “it cannot be moved.” (Ps. 93:1; 96:10)  The One who created the world also ruled or reigned over it.

God’s reign was seen as cause for the earth to “sing to the Lord a new song” and to “praise his name.”  More than once in these psalms the earth is told to “be glad.”  In four of the royal psalms the seas are mentioned and they are said to offer God praise.  In Psalm 96 the fields and all found in them are exhorted to be “jubilant.”  This, the Psalmist says, will lead “all the trees of the forest“ to sing for joy.  In Psalm 98 the rivers are told to “clap their hands” and the mountains are urged to “sing before the Lord.” 

All of this may sound strange or fanciful to modern ears but we would be wise not to dismiss such language too easily.  By affirming that God was the Creator of the world the Israelites declared that He was greater than “all the gods of the nations.”  They saw in His Creation, and in His mighty acts of deliverance, Yahweh’s supremacy.  They could only conclude that He was the King of kings and deserved all of the praise both Creation and humankind could give Him.  Knowing that God ruled over all they understood that there was cause for joy and gladness for both Creation and humankind.

If we affirm that God is “the Maker of heaven and earth” then we, too, must understand that this truly does make Him King.  As such He deserves our worship, devotion and praise.  It would appear that those who wrote the biblical psalms saw in Creation a perpetual reminder of God’s sovereignty.  If we would condition ourselves to do the same, perhaps we would find ourselves singing and shouting and praising the eternal King of kings and Lord of lords with Creation more often.  I suspect that would, in turn, bring great delight to the King.


(I took the top image at Mt. Rainier National Park and the bottom one at Acadia National Park.)

Nov 23 2011

The Gift of Rain

As I write these words it’s raining outside.  That is quite appropriate in light of the words of the particular Psalm I’ve been thinking about here lately.  In Psalm 65 David says “You care for the land and water it; you enrich it abundantly.  The streams of God are filled with water to provide the people with grain,  for so you have ordained it.  You drench the furrows and level its ridges; you soften it with showers and bless its crops.” (vs. 9-10)  Clearly the Psalmist wanted to offer God praise and thanksgiving for the gift of rain.  Most of us take rain for granted and at times even complain when we have too many rainy days in a row.  Perhaps we should remember here that David lived in an arid region.  People who live in deserts cannot take rain for granted.  Neither should we.

The rain that interferes with our outdoor activities and causes things to be “messy” remains one of God’s wonderful and priceless gifts.  Without the gift of rain there wouldn’t be food on our tables.  Without the gift of rain our rivers and lakes would dry up.  Without the gift of rain there would be no life.  The Psalmist recognized this.  In the remainder of Psalm 65 he adds, “You crown the year with your bounty, and your carts overflow with abundance. The grasslands of the desert overflow; the hills are clothed with gladness.  The meadows are covered with flocks and the valleys are mantled with grain; they shout for joy and sing.” (vs. 11-13)

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day.  I suspect that you, like me, have much to give thanks for.  Like most everyone else I will give thanks for my family and friends, for my health and home, for food to eat and clothes to wear.  I will give thanks for my country and the freedoms we enjoy.  I will offer thanks for my salvation made possible through Jesus Christ and for my church.  Taking my cue from the Psalmist, this year I also intend to give thanks for the natural elements God has given to sustain us.  I will give thanks for the rain and water, for the air that we breathe, for the rich earth or soil, and for the sun and its light.  These basic elements are the foundation of our lives.  They are also all gifts of God.  So let us “shout for joy and sing.” And, yes, by all means, let us also give thanks!


P.S.  Rob and I would like to wish all of our readers a happy and blessed Thanksgiving.  We are very grateful that you take the time to read SeeingCreation.com!

(Both of the images above were taken in the Tremont area of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.)

Dec 19 2010

Rich In Love

elk 416Today is the fourth Sunday of Advent.  In this morning’s service we lit the “love candle” for love is the focus of this particular Sunday.   It seems only fitting to focus on love the Sunday closest to Christmas.  As the Scriptures make clear, it was out of love that God sent His Son Jesus into the world at Bethlehem.

In the first epistle of John we are told that “God is love.”  Everything that God does is based on love.  That includes both His creation of the world and His preservation of it.

One of my favorite passages from the Book of Psalms says, “The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.  The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made.” (Ps. 145:8-9)  This is not just the testimony of Scripture; it is my testimony too.  Throughout my life I have been the beneficiary of God’s amazing love and compassion.  Whether you realize it or not you have too–you along with the rest of Creation.

It is good news to know that God’s love and goodness extends “to all.”  It is likewise wonderful to realize that “He has compassion on all he has made.”  This means He loves every single individual on earth.  It also means He loves every creature, every plant, every river and sea,  every hill and mountain, every desert and plain.  Yes, the God who is love and who created in love loves and cares for everything that He has made.  As the Psalmist said, He  is “rich in love.”

ghost tree 967Three times in Psalm 145 we read that God loves “all he has made.”  It’s almost like the Psalmist didn’t want us to miss this important point.  He goes out of his way to make sure we understand that God loves everything included in His Creation. 

Fittingly, Psalm 145 begins with words of praise to God.  The Psalmist declares, “Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom.” Just as appropriately, Psalm 145 concludes with an invitation to “Let every creature praise his holy name for ever and ever.”   The God who has revealed His love to us in the creation and preservation of the world, and in the gift of His Son, certainly deserves our praise at Christmastime and “for ever and ever.”  He also deserves our love and devotion.  Perhaps one of the best ways we can show Him our love is by loving what He loves—everyone and everything.


(I took the two pictures shown here on my trip to Yellowstone National Park earlier this year.)

Dec 12 2010

Snow, Silence & Joy

snow in backyardOn this third Sunday of Advent it is snowing once again in the mountains of eastern Kentucky.  The theme for this particular Sunday in Advent is joy.  Although the joy is supposed to be for the coming of Christ at Bethlehem long ago, I have a feeling there are lots of kids feeling joy right now realizing it is unlikely they’ll have to go to school the next few days.

I know snow can be messy and dangerous but I love it.  It is so beautiful!  Things are rather dreary around here unless it snows so I look forward to times like these.  We are supposed to get several inches of snow over the next couple of days.  Like the kids I’m hoping we get lots, just for different reasons–I love photographing in the snow!

Several years ago I remember reading a sermon where the writer talked about how snow does its work silently.  You can go to bed at night and wake up the next morning with several inches of snow on the ground but it is unlikely you would have heard a thing.  You would have had no warning.  Snow works quietly.

In the spiritual life there is much need for quietness.  In fact, the prophet Isaiah said “in quietness and trust is your strength.” (30:15)  Noise and lots of action tends to characterize most of our lives.  Certainly there is a time and place for both, but there is also a great need for us to spend time in silence and being still.  God himself says to us, “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalms 46:10)  I think the reason He told us this is that it is next to impossible to get to know God unless we do take the time to practice stillness in our lives.  In times of solitude and stillness we find the strength we need to live the spiritual life.

The snow that is falling outside my window now offers me a needed reminder—even in this busy and hectic time of the year I need to find time to “be still” and quiet so that I might experience God more fully and find my strength renewed.  By doing so I suspect I will also discover joy.


(I took the picture above at my home last week.)

Dec 1 2010

Seeing Creation and Prayer

waves 033One of the devotional books I use most mornings is called Celtic Daily Prayer.  The past couple of days the daily readings have contained beautiful prayers I’d like to share with you.  The author of the first prayer is unknown. 

“If my lips could sing as many songs as there are waves in the sea: if my tongue could sing as many hymns as there are ocean billows: if my mouth filled the firmament with praise: if my face shone like the sun and moon together: if my hands were to hover in the sky like powerful eagles and my feet ran across mountains as swiftly as the deer: all that would not be enough to pay You fitting tribute, O Lord my God.”

Zion NP Watchman 248The second prayer comes from the Talmud and reads: “Blessed are You, O Lord our God, King of the universe!  At Your word night falls.  In Your wisdom You open heaven’s gates, You control the elements and rotate the seasons.  You set the stars in the vault of heaven.  You created night and day.  You cause the light to fade when darkness comes and the darkness to melt away in the light of a new day.  O ever-living and eternal God, You will always watch over us, Your creatures.  Blessed are You, O Lord, at whose word night falls.”

Both of these prayers are good examples of how paying attention to Creation can enhance our prayer life and lead us to worship and praise.  There is certainly biblical precedent for this.  Those who composed the Psalms often did the same thing.  In Psalm 103, for example, David declares “For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions.” 

I encourage you to let nature be one of your guides in prayer.  There you will find an inexhaustible resource to connect you to the Creator and Lord of life.  I truly believe that seeing Creation and prayer should go hand in hand.


(I took the top image of the Pacific Ocean earlier this year on a visit to see Rob in California.  The bottom photograph of “The Watchman” was taken at Zion National Park last December.)

Nov 3 2010

Hitched to Creation

BIP 048On Sunday I shared with you some thoughts from Leonard Sweet’s book, Out of the Question…Into the Mystery, and noted how he makes some bold claims there concerning the Christian’s relationship with Creation.  Here is another one of his bold claims: “Our relationship with God by necessity includes our relationship with all that God created.  If the creation joins in praising God and joins in the sufferings of Jesus, how can we disregard the importance of what God has created?  If we are not in right relationship with God’s creation, then we are not in right relationship with God.”  Sweet concludes this discussion by saying, “If we love God, we have to also love what God has made.”

It would indeed help us to contemplate the idea of being in relationship to Creation.  Even better would be to consider what it means to be in a good relationship with Creation.  All of us, whether we realize it or not, are in a relationship with Creation.  As John Muir pointed out long ago, “When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.”  What is important for us is to make sure our relationship with Creation is a good and healthy one.

BIP 982The Bible talks a lot about relationships and indicates that, ideally, love should be the basis of our relationships with others.  I would argue that this includes our relationship with Creation.  Just as Christians are called to love God and love others, we are also expected to love Creation.  In the Scriptures love is not some sentimental feeling; it is, in fact, more about actions than feelings.  Love is something we show, something we demonstrate.

If love is going to be the basis of our relationship with Creation it means we must respect the earth and show concern for it by doing everything we can to preserve and protect it.  Loving Creation will mean we spend time getting to know that which God has made and hopefully also spending time in its presence.  If we are to love Creation we will certainly not take it for granted or do anything that will harm it.  If we truly love Creation we will never forget “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.” (Psalms 24:1)

How would you describe your relationship with Creation?  If Sweet is correct (and I believe that he is) then the answer to this question will reveal much about your relationship with God.  I sure hope it’s a good one.


(I took the two images above last week at Breaks Interstate Park in Virginia.)