Water Wednesday – Fountains of Living Water

My wife and I recorded this video while camping in West Virginia a couple of years ago. We hiked a few miles to this waterfall and camped near it, and used it to bathe in the morning. I hope this message will be an encouragement to you in your journey. Blessings!

And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them.

They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat.

For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.

-Revelation 7:14-17

It’s Going to be Okay

004_2_0002This September, we stopped at Bucee’s on our way to Mexico. Bucee’s is a very large gas station; it was also rather crowded. I took Joseph into the bathroom to change his diaper. Carrying Joseph, the diaper bag and then trying to get Joseph on the changing table was a bit challenging. A gentleman approached me and offered his help. By that time, I was handling it okay, so I declined. Then he said, “you’re doing good.” He had a real sweet, encouraging spirit.

Hearing those words, “you’re doing good,” touched my heart. Too often we tend to criticize and judge or analyze what a person is doing wrong. Sometimes we just need to stop and offer to help. It’s easy to be a Monday morning quarterback. It’s another thing to get in the game and call the signals and throw the ball.

Several years ago, I was at a church altar in Minnesota. I was going through some emotional turmoil, partially due to some poor choices I had made. A sweet man of God in the church must have seen the anguish on my face. He came up, put his hand on my shoulder and said, “you’re going to be okay.” With those few simple words, relief flooded my soul. The situation was hard, but I was okay. Eventually I was able to move on and move further into God’s purpose for my life. It was hard, but I was okay. I was okay.

When we’re in a struggle, sometimes we just need to hear, “you’re doing good” or “it’s going to be okay.”

About 7 years ago, I was frustrated and vented my complaint to the Lord. As I prayed, it seemed as if God Himself stood before me. Though not audibly, I felt Him say, “I know…I know…And it’s going to be okay.” It felt like God placed His hand upon me and was comforting me. My complaint faded as the presence of the Lord soothed me.

Maybe you need to hear these words today, “it’s going to be okay.” Whatever you’re going through, as the song below says, “Hold on, don’t let go. Just take one step closer. Put one foot in front of the other. You’ll get through this. Just follow the light in the darkness… You’re going to be okay.”

Proverbs 3:4-5 says,
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.”

The longer we live, the more we can look back and see God’s faithfulness and guidance in our lives. Things that seemed so difficult at the time don’t seem so difficult anymore. The pain fades in the light of God’s purpose and countenance. We got through it and we will get through this. Whatever you are going through now, it’s going to be okay! Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Don’t lean on your own understanding. In all your ways, know Him. He will direct your paths. You can trust Him. It’s going to be okay!

Water Wednesday – The Real Thing

P1150904The picture to the right is a painting of Niagara Falls that we took in Washington D.C. at the National Art Gallery. It is called Niagara, by Frederic Edwin Church (1857). A beautiful painting indeed it is, but it’s not actually Niagara Falls, it’s only a painting. I’ve been to Niagara Falls a handful of times and I can confirm that no painting or photograph compares to actually standing in awe of the wonder of water that is Niagara Falls. Nevertheless, the painting has value because it portrays a likeness of what Niagara Falls is actually like, from the artist’s perspective.

In Mark 4:30 Jesus said,

“To what shall we liken the kingdom of God? Or with what parable shall we picture it?”

Jesus gave us parables so we could picture in our minds what the kingdom of God looks like. Through a parable, we see a portrait of God’s eternal kingdom. The parable itself is not the kingdom, it is merely a word picture to point us to the real thing. The parable has incredible value, but the real thing is the King of the kingdom, God Himself.

Romans 8:29 says,

“For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.”

Ephesians 2:10 says,

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”

Likewise, God has called each of us to reflect His image and likeness to the world. We are His painting, His work of art, His photograph, His love poem to the world. We are not God, but we can be like Him and we can draw others to the real thing. The real thing is God Himself.

I love beautiful pictures of nature. As I scroll through Facebook, a website or flip through a magazine, sometimes I see beautiful pictures of God’s beauty from all around this earth. My heart is drawn to these places, I want to see them for myself, not just in a picture. The picture is meant to draw me to want to travel and see the real thing.

The Bible paints a picture of what God is really like. But that picture should draw us to want to really know the author, to encounter Him in all His power and glory and love. Through others, we can see His likeness. Through nature, we can see His character and His beauty. But when we come into His presence, we encounter Him, the real thing.

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Water Wednesday – Copper Harbor

Copper Harbor

The drive up to Copper Harbor, Michigan, pictured above, is my favorite scenic drive. The highway (M-26) winds and dips its way to the northernmost point in Michigan as it hugs the Lake Superior shoreline. In fact, U.S. Highway 41, which goes all the way to Miami, Florida, ends in Copper Harbor. The tree-lined road to Copper Harbor opens up to views of Lake Superior, with red freighters floating on its horizon and white-capped waves rolling onto its shore. The deep blue of the largest freshwater lake in the world (by area) has always calmed and soothed my soul.

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I’m from a small town in Michigan of about 2,500 people, but Copper Harbor’s population is only 80 according to this link. As much as I love Copper Harbor and the drive to it, more important is people for whom Jesus died. Perhaps I could live in Copper Harbor year around, but God has called us to go where people are.

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Water is wonderful and scenic drives are beautiful, but only people have eternal souls. As much as we love creation, we cannot make it our idol. People are more difficult than trees, but it is people for whom Jesus died and it is people God has called us to love.

John 4:42-44 says,

“Now when it was day, He departed and went into a deserted place. And the crowd sought Him and came to Him, and tried to keep Him from leaving them; but He said to them, ‘I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, because for this purpose I have been sent.’ And He was preaching in the synagogues of Galilee.”

Copper Harbor

my heart is here
in the woods, by the rivers, near the waterfalls
sitting by a lake
listening to the waves as they lap onto the shore
I love these northwoods
where the raspberries grow wild
my heart is here in Copper Harbor
but inside I can feel the Spirit calling
the upward cry of destiny
knowing this is all great and good
but the trees do not have souls
only people do
would I be willing to give my all for the least of them?
whether it be for a small town in Michigan
a village in Africa
or a child in Central America
would I be willing to pay the ultimate price
give my all, lay down my life?
so the world would know Jesus
I preach the gospel, not just with words
but in the way I live my life
can I be consumed with passion
filled and always moved with compassion
driven to give this love away
can my soul be filled with this longing
stirred with this holy calling
to give my life away

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