New Creation

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

—2 Corinthians 5:17

 

Who was that person I used to be?

What were my thoughts

In my old identity?

How did I reason that I’d be fine

Not trusting in God’s ways

But counting on mine?

Imprisoned with guilt, confusion and shame

My heart was filled with hurt and blame

Jesus came and filled my heart

His gift to me—a brand new start

Who was that person I used to be?

It matters not

Because today I am free!

 

new creation 2

For I Am Lonely

Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted.

—Psalm 25:16

 

 

 

Who are those that are lonely?

The ones in need so deeply inside

They’re mixed in crowds

yet still, they hide

 

Who are those that are afflicted?

The ones so burdened with pain

They blend in around us

But the hurt continues to remain

 

It is not known to their hurting hearts

That God would take them in

Who are those that could tell them?

It’s you and I, my friend

 

turn to me

 

 

 

 

Innermost Being

“He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.'”

—John 7:38

 

It seems that I have been noticing birds a lot lately.

This afternoon, my husband was watering a section of our yard that had very little grass.

Having recently planted grass seed in that area, he wanted to make sure it had enough irrigation to grow.

I watched a mocking bird fly up into a tree just past the water that was shooting up in streams from the hose on the ground.

As he sat there looking at the water, I was able to get a few photos of him.

As believers of Jesus, rivers of living water flow from us.

Our lives are different.

Other people are watching us.

At work they see us, talk to us, notice how we respond to everyday situations.

At school, at the store, at a ballgame, in church, on a train, in a grocery store line.

Our families watch us at home–at the dinner table, at the family reunion, when we are tired, when we are energetic, when we are happy, when we are sad.

Are they seeing the rivers of living water?

Through everything that happens–as believers of Jesus, we have the opportunity to show that living water is flowing from our lives.

 

 

 

innermost

Be On Guard

Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong.

—1 Corinthians 16:13

 

The Eastern Bluebird stood on the apex of my neighbor’s roof.

Looking.

Being aware.

 

Sometimes we have to get to the very top of our circumstances–above them all–and look at things from an eternal perspective.

We have to be on guard, for temptations and difficulties surround us.

No matter what, we know we can stand firm in our faith.

God is in control.

Because He is and we are not, we can be courageous.

Our strength comes from Him.

 

 

 

 

 

be on guard

 

Make Music

Make music to praise the LORD, you faithful people who belong to Him. Remember His holiness by giving thanks.

—Psalm 30:4

I saw him among the branches of the tree in my front yard.

The sun wasn’t far from setting and the blue jay was perched high.

Wanting just to be quiet and calm while enjoying a few moments outside, I listened to the various birds sing and tweet as they prepared for nighttime to fall.

When the birds sing, they make music.

They are able to do so because God gives them that ability.

With each chirp and call, they testify to the greatness of their Creator.

I want to praise God with my voice and with instruments as I make music, giving thanks.

That is possible because He gave me a voice and the ability to play instruments.

Thank You, God, for all that You have done for me. All praise belongs to You.

make music

Every Bird

I know every bird on the mountains,

and all the animals of the field are Mine. 

—Psalm 50:11
When I arrived at work, the tree by the parking lot was filled with birds. 

I could hear them speaking with their chirping and tweeting. 

As I watched, some flew away and others came to rest on the branches of the tree. 

I am sitting now in the hospital room of a family member. 

Is God still in control?

Yes, He is. 

God knows every bird in the tree I was looking at. 

He knows me and every member of my family, too. 

He has not forgotten us. 

My People Do Not Know

“Say to them, ‘This is what the Lord says:

“ ‘When people fall down, do they not get up?

When someone turns away, do they not return?

Why then have these people turned away?

Why does Jerusalem always turn away?

They cling to deceit;

they refuse to return.

I have listened attentively,

but they do not say what is right.

None of them repent of their wickedness,

saying, “What have I done?”

Each pursues their own course

like a horse charging into battle.

Even the stork in the sky

knows her appointed seasons,

and the dove, the swift and the thrush

observe the time of their migration.

But My people do not know

the requirements of the Lord.”

—Jeremiah 8:4-7

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And Yet

“Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?”

—Matthew 6:26

 

 

The bird was perched on top of the feeder, looking down as I photographed him.

I wonder what birds think about the feeders that people put out for them.

Do they understand that an actual person somehow gets all that seed and is placing it out where they can have it?

Do they wonder with amazement how an entire container of just seed happens to be near them?

Or do they just accept that it is simply there and never ponder how or why?

God provides for the birds by natural means and also by enabling humans to gather seed and generously present it in various types of feeders.

God provides for the birds.

We are worth much more than they are.

God will provide for us, too, in whatever way we need.

And when He does, do we understand and acknowledge that it is God who is providing for us?

 

 

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Hidden

For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.  Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before His eyes, and He is the one to whom we are accountable.

—Hebrew 4:12-13

 

Looking out across the water to a small island, I could see something in the wildflowers growing there.

An Anhinga bird was behind them.

Looking at my photograph later, it almost looks as if he is hiding.

He does blend in with a certain amount of camouflage, yet upon closer inspection, he’s hard to miss.

I’ll never know if he was truly intending to hide that afternoon, but I can certainly identify with him if he was.

At times in my life–even as a child–I wanted to just hide away and be alone, in what I felt was a safe place.

There are many reasons, however, to hide.

Shame.

Guilt.

Fear.

Failure.

Sadness.

Depression.

Grief.

The list is long.

We may hide from people and flee from circumstances, but we cannot hide from God.

He sees us wherever we are, in whatever condition we are in.

Our emotions may urge us to hide, yet His great love beckons us back into the open–in the light of His comfort and forgiveness.

 

 

 

 

 

hidden

Take Delight

As I was looking down past the shallow waterfall, I noticed a duck playing in the water.

There were other ducks nearby, enjoying the refreshing flow on a very hot day.

God made the ducks to be water birds.

Although they couldn’t tell me, I think these beautiful creatures were delighting in the rushing bubbles as the water made it’s way down to the lake.

Psalm 34:7 reads, “Take delight in the LORD, and He will give you the desires of your heart.”

I think God made us to take delight in Him.

If we seek Him and draw closer to Him, the desires of our hearts will be given to us as our desires become focused on Him.

 

water duck

 

I Would Fly

Oh, for wings like a dove, to fly away and rest!  I would fly to the far-off deserts and stay there.  I would flee to some refuge from all this storm.

—Psalm 55:6-8

 

God is our refuge.

He protects us from the storm of sin.

He gives us new life and a new beginning.

 

Iwould

Your Creatures

I photographed the most magnificent bird today.

The mix of colors displayed in his sleek feathers was captivating.

God has made such beauty in our world!

 

How many are Your works, LORD! In wisdom You made them all; the earth is full of Your creatures.

—Psalm 104:24

 

 

Your creatures

 

This Is The Day

This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.

—Psalm 118:24

 

I watched as the juvenile heron walked on the edge of the water.

He was so small—at least when compared to what he would someday be.

You see, he’s not just any heron.

He’s a Great Blue Heron.

There will come a day when he will be large and graceful with flowing feathers off the top of his head.

That day has not come yet, but God has made it so that it will.

We have an internal map made by God, as well.

We are babies and children for a few short years, then we become adults.

When we are “born again” as a new Christian, we begin a growth process, also.

When we accept Jesus as our Savior, we are “new” Christians.

We are young in our faith, but we are on a pathway of change as we learn to trust God more and more.

It is okay to be new.

We will be different one day.

God has made it so that we will.

 

 

rejoice and be

Every Living Thing

Psalm 145:15-16

The eyes of all look to You in hope; You give them their food as they need it. When You open Your hand, You satisfy the hunger and thirst of every living thing.

 

When I realized I was looking at a pair of pelicans as they cared for their young, I was very excited.

As one parent looks lovingly and carefully at his two little ones, his only means to feed them is to give to them what God has already provided.

every living

Do Also To Them

So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

—Matthew 7:12

 

A week or two ago, I was doing a photo session for a family of four in a nearby park.

The park borders a large lake and there are always a lot of birds near the water.

As I was photographing the family out in the open grass, a duck came walking up to us.

Since ducks are normally shy creatures that keep their distance, this was quite a delightful surprise.

He was probably hoping we had something to feed him.

He was going to make the first step in being friendly.

For whatever reason, he marched right up and melted our hearts.

I started taking photographs of the children with their new duck friend.

Why, if a duck wanted to be nice to us, we were going to be nice to him!

In the verse above, Jesus tells us to do to others what we wish they would do to us.

What would happen if we showed interest in people the way we wished they would be interested in our well being?

What if we would just take the first step and walk up to someone we do not know at work or church with a sincere smile and a cordial word?

Would their heart be open to friendship because of that first step on our part?

If a duck could be friendly to people he didn’t know, couldn’t I?

do also

 

In Every Situation

 

 

 

Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you His peace at all times and in every situation. The Lord be with you all.

—2 Thessalonians 3:16

 

What can we do when bad news arrives?

Last week, we found out that the young son of someone we know has leukemia.

About the same time, some new friends of ours had a baby very prematurely and the baby died.

What could be said at times like these?

I am not a doctor, so I would not have been able to advise either couple on medical issues, even though I really do care.

Nor am I able to heal a broken heart, even though I hope for that healing.

Jesus is the Lord of peace, however, and He can carry any of us through any and every situation—even illness and death.

How does He do that?

I don’t know.

I just know that He knows all things and He is able to do all things.

Even when it seems impossible, He can comfort and heal.

His peace

 

Wonderfully

When I saw the bird with it’s long flowing head feathers, I immediately began to photograph him.

How beautiful he was!

Ruby colored eyes and a long, sleek beak.

He was tall, with black feathers closely hugging his neck.

When I look at creatures God has made, I marvel at His works and I am blessed by the privilege of seeing them.

I was thinking today about people.

So often, we look at ourselves in a negative way.

We don’t feel as if we are worth much.

We think of ourselves as unattractive and unimportant.

What if—just for consideration—birds were the most intelligent beings on the planet with minds like people and all people had the minds of birds?

Just think of how the birds would look at us!

They might take a photograph and say,

“Look at that human! He’s beautiful! He has clear, brown eyes and sleek black hair. He has such a kind looking face.”

“Look at that human! She’s perfect! Red hair and eyes of blue. Look! I think she’s smiling at us!”

We forget that God has made us in a wonderful way.

Just look at us!

We stand tall.

We have fingers that do fine motor skills.

We run and jump.

We speak and sing.

We have hair!

And beautiful eyes!

We smile!

We love….

If another creature had a mind like ours, they would see us as wonderful creations of God.

Why don’t we see ourselves that way?

 

 

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

–Psalm 139:14

 

fearfully correct

New Strength

Yet those who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.

—Isaiah 40:31

 

Are you tired today?

Weary?

Ready to give up?

The LORD can give you new strength.

New energy.

A new vision for the future….

 

wings

Sing

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Birds sing to the Lord.

When lions roar, they are singing, too.

As the dolphin jumps for a moment from the water with elegance and grace, it is “singing” to the Lord.

The golden butterfly sings as it flutters from bloom to bloom.

All the creatures of the earth sing to the Lord, their Maker.

Shouldn’t we, as well?

 

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Sing to the Lord a new song;
    sing to the Lord, all the earth.
 Sing to the Lord, praise his name;
    proclaim his salvation day after day.
 Declare his glory among the nations,
    his marvelous deeds among all peoples.

—Psalm 96:1-3

 

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sing

 

 

 

 

 

What Lies Behind

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I could hear the screech of the hawk as I was about to get into my car.

Flying toward the tall tree, it came to rest in the branches that were already thinning as colder weather approached.

Changing my schedule for a few moments, I took the opportunity to photograph the stately bird.

In one of the photos, his body was facing forward in the direction he was headed when I first saw him.

His head, however, was turned around—looking back from where he had flown from.

As believers in Jesus, we must look ahead at our new life in Him.

We can forget the old way of life that we had, with no need to look back.

We must keep looking forward.

We must trust in Him.

All things are new.

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Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ  and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,  that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,  I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

—Philippians 3:8-14

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forgetting

Perfect Peace

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While visiting the ocean recently, I photographed two pelicans.

Often seen silently gliding in the air above in group formation, they are sometimes seen just sitting in the water, floating.

As I watched them, large waves would come up.

At times, they were completely hidden from my view because of the raging water and its foam.

Seconds later, they would appear in view again, still calmly riding the waves as though nothing had happened.

I know, of course, that at any moment they could’ve decided to just take off and fly away.

For a very long time, though, they chose not to.

They remained anchored in the water, moving as it moved, back and forth, high and low.

I can imagine them saying, “Let’s just sit here in the water for awhile and rest.”

Rest?

Rest in the constant surge of water beneath them?

Rest in the ocean’s white foam?

Evidently so.

They seemed at peace as they trusted their Maker.

The Bible tells us in Isaiah 26:3-4 that God can give perfect peace to those who trust Him:

You, Lord, give perfect peace
    to those who keep their purpose firm
    and put their trust in You.
 Trust in the Lord forever;
    He will always protect us.

The waves in our lives can we great, yet God can give us peace…

even in their midst.

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purpose