May 9 2012


“There is a time for everything…a time to be silent and a time to speak.”  Ecclesiastes 3:7

Last night as I was driving home from the airport in Louisville I played a CD by my favorite contemporary Christian artist, Steven Curtis Chapman.  In his song “Speechless” he sings these words: I’m astonished and amazed; I am silenced by your wondrous grace.  You have saved me, You have raised me from the grave.  And I am speechless in your presence now.  I’m astounded as I consider how You have shown us a love that leaves us speechless.”

As I listened to these words I certainly concurred with Steven’s sentiment; God’s love and grace often leave me speechless.  So too does the beauty of God’s Creation.  Several times on my recent trip to the desert southwest I could only stand in awe at what I was seeing.  I was “astonished and amazed” as I looked at the marvelous formations in Carlsbad Caverns.  I was “astounded” by the beauty of Big Bend National Park.  I was left “speechless” as I looked out on the pristine dunes of White Sands National Monument.  There were so many times on this trip that I was overwhelmed by what I saw, and at times heard, in God’s Creation that I simply had to stand in wonder, awe and silence.

This was not a new experience for me.  Countless times I have beheld beauty that humbled me and left me speechless.  I say “beauty” but in reality it is the Creator that leaves me overwhelmed and lacking words to express what I’m feeling.  As a pastor I make my living talking about God but there are times when words get in the way.  I can understand why the writer of Ecclesiastes wrote “God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few.” (5:2)  When we encounter God, wherever or however that might be, the best thing we can do at times is be silent.

There is no doubt a time to lift up our voices in praise to God.  Every single day we should offer Him words of thanksgiving.  But it is not a bad thing at all to “be still and know” that God is God. (Psalm 46:10)  Christina Rossetti once said, “Silence is more musical than any song.”  I cannot help but feel God is honored when we stand speechless before Him.  It is in those moments we let God be God and that is enough.


(I took the top image at Big Bend National Park, the middle one at Carlsbad Caverns National Park, and the bottom one at White Sands National Monument.)

Dec 24 2009

O Holy Night

Breaks Winter vIt’s Christmas Eve!  Tonight we celebrate the birth of our Savior, Christ the Lord.  This is truly a special time.  Late this evening folks will meet at the church I serve for a candlelight Christmas Eve service.  We will gather in a beautiful, warm and safe sanctuary to remember the events of the first Christmas but the fact that we will be in a “beautiful, warm and safe sanctuary” will stand in quite a contrast to what Mary and Joseph experienced long ago.  I doubt if the place where Jesus was born was any of these things.

The stable in Bethlehem may have been little more than a small cave.  There would likely have been more animals (domestic and wild) present for Jesus’ birth than persons.  The one who created the world would take his first breath surrounded by all that he made—the animals, the hay, the stars above.   Trees would have made possible the manger he was placed in and it would have been nature, too, that provided the material for his “swaddling clothes.”  Mary and Joseph were not the only ones to welcome the world’s Savoir, Creation embraced him as well.  That would be only fitting for as the apostle Paul later wrote, “all things were created by him and for him.”   (Colossians 1:16)

As humans, we are included in Paul’s “all things.”  We, too, were created by Christ and for Christ.  His coming into the world opened a way by which we might enter into a personal relationship with the Maker of heaven and earth.  It is for this very reason we celebrate Christmas.  This night truly is different; it is a “holy night.”

I’d like to close this Christmas blog with the words of Christina Rossetti’s carol, In the Bleak Mid-Winter“What can I give Him, poor as I am?  If I were a shepherd I would bring a lamb; if I were a wise man I would do my part; yet what can I give Him; give my heart.”

Merry Christmas!


(I used the image above on this year’s Christmas card.  It was taken at Breaks Interstate Park, about 35 miles from my home.)