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Passing through Wausau on my way home from a business trip, I decided to stop at Rib Mountain State Park to get in a little hiking.  Since it had been cloudy most of the day, I considered whether to take my camera.  Figuring this would be just an outdoor, exercise, and fresh autumnal air hike without the possibility of any reasonably good pictures, I decided to take my camera anyway.

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While hiking on the quarry trail, the sun came out in glorious warm orange, lighting up the autumnal leaves of the trees and the forest floor.  A man and his dog jogged by, and commented on the wonderful light.  It was a nice reminder of the grace and mercy of God.

“Truly the light is sweet, and a pleasant thing it is for the eyes to behold the sun” (Ecclesiastes 11:7, KJV).

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I would have taken some pictures of the actual sunset, but I kept dithering about returning to the car.  The leaf covered trail I had taken to this spot had been hard to follow even in the daylight.  (I had considered turning back a number of times before the sun came out.  But when the sun came out, I felt compelled to keep going).  Nonetheless, the last thing I wanted to do was stumble back on that rocky, meandering, leaf covered trail in the dark.  There were a lot of leaves still on the trees, and a cloudy starless night in the forest can be very dark.  I had a flashlight, but was uncertain of the strength of its batteries.

Truly the light is sweet, and a pleasant thing it is for the eyes to behold the sun:  But if a man live many years, and rejoice in them all; yet let him remember the days of darkness; for they shall be many.”  (Ecclesiastes 11:7-8, KJV).

In all your days, may you rejoice with discerning eyes.

Notes

In case you were wondering, I did safely return just as the last usable light of the day had ended.

Also, have a blessed Reformation Day.

The Death You DeserveMy brother Jonathan is writing a fictional book called, The Death You Deserve, and recently he has been posting chapters on Wattpad.

Writers post chapters of their books on Wattpad to get exposure and also to receive feedback.  For example, as a result of feedback, my brother rewrote the main character, Theel, to be more sympathetic.

I haven’t read the entire book yet, but I can say that it has R rated violence and adult themes such as suicide.  Also, it is a medieval fantasy and magic story.

Here are the opening two paragraphs of his book:

Theel turned the knife in his hand, aimed the point back at himself, and wondered if this was the day he would die.  There would be no one to mourn him if he did it.  Not his mother, who he’d never known.  Not his father, whose funeral gathering was just beginning outside the window.  And not his brother, who remained at his side, but only from a sense of duty.

Now with his father gone, Theel no longer owed anything to anyone.  His life was now his to do with as he chose.  Perhaps this should be his life’s first and last free choice.  Perhaps this knife, which had never tasted blood, should finally find its purpose, its home, in his hurting heart.

Click here to continue reading on Wattpad.

I find the opening two paragraphs to be compelling, and look forward to seeing the full story in polished form.  Also, I am interested in following more stories written by Confessional Lutheran Christians.

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These are pictures of Bierstadt Lake high up in the Rocky Mountains (at about 9500 feet elevation).  The mountains in the background form the Continental Divide.  It is a peaceful and calm place to think.

Before the mountains were brought forth,
or ever you had formed the earth and the world,
from everlasting to everlasting you are God.

— Psalms 90:2, ESV.

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All creation declares the glory of God, but His greatest work is the new creation in Christ.

“For the mountains may depart
and the hills be removed,
but my steadfast love shall not depart from you,
and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,”
says the Lord, who has compassion on you.

— Isaiah 54:10, ESV.

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Four hundred ninety-seven years ago, Martin Luther posted ninety-five theses.  Those theses sparked a discussion in the one holy Christian and apostolic Church that is still ongoing.  The first theses said: “When our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, said ‘Repent,’ He called for the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.”

In recognition of this 497th anniversary, I would like to give away a copy of the Christian Book of Concord bonded-leather-cover Second Edition from Concordia Publishing House.  This is similar to the regular hard-cover Second Edition, except it has a bonded-leather-cover with gold trim on the page edges and it comes in a gift box.  The condition is new, never used.

If you would like to enter the drawing for a free copy, just fill out the form below.  However, you must be at least 18 years old, may enter the drawing only once, and you must be a resident of the United States.

After the winner is chosen at random, all names and e-mails will be permanently deleted.  The deadline for entries is 12 noon on All Saints’ Day (Saturday, November 1), 2014 A.D.

Wyoming Coal Trains

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These are pictures of coal trains near Guernsey, Wyoming taken inside Guernsey State Park.

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The coal trains run through this area day and night around the clock carrying coal all over the country.

In the picture above, you can see my shadow on the bridge in the middle of the train.

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Above is the front of the train looking in the other direction.

There are two sets of tracks here, I think to allow the trains to pass by each other.

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I’d like to see the mine where all this coal comes from.  I couldn’t count all these cars even in a photograph.

End of Summer Susans

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Warm summer light illumines the yellow petals of black-eyed susans.

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“Light is sweet, and it is pleasant for the eyes to see the sun.”  (Ecclesiastes 11:7, ESV).  Even the reflections of sunlight are beautiful.

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Can you see the geometric pattern in the photo above?

In the work of even the smallest creatures, one can see the hidden and glorious hand of the Creator.

Race the Lake 2014

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On Sunday, August 17, 2014, I participated in the annual Race the Lake, a 90 mile bicycle race around Lake Winnebago.  The race started and finished in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin.

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All the pictures in this post were take at Lakeside Park in Fond du Lac, where the finish line was.

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Race the Lake is open to bicyclists of all skill levels.  On the race route police and volunteers direct traffic at all intersections so that participants do not have to stop.  There is support and help for any bicycle that experiences mechanical problems.  There are also food stations and rest stops along the way.  The largest rest stop is at High Cliff State Park, the half-way point of the race.

Out of the four times I’ve done this race, I posted my worst time at 5 hours and 20 minutes.  Maybe a lot of factors played into that slower time, then again maybe I just had an off day.  Nonetheless, ninety miles in five hours and 20 minutes isn’t a bad time.  And I got the same finishers’ medal that I would have gotten with a better time.  Overall, it was a beautiful day, and a good ride.

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In the picture above, far off in the distance, you can see the large windmills that are up on the Niagara Escarpment.  It’s usually very windy up there.

To see pictures of me in the event from Paul Manke Photography click here.  (In the finish line pictures, my two fingers and thumb together were supposed to signify the Holy Trinity).

Soli Deo gloria.

Christians have been living in Iraq & Syria for about 2000 years.

Here are the links mentioned in the video:

Kyrie eleison.

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What can a picture say?

What does the above picture show?  First, the book is not sitting on a shelf.  Second, it is open, and being held open for reading.  Third, it has a bookmark showing that it is being studied.  Fourth, it is a copy of The Lutheran Confessions.  Fifth, light shines on the book from above.  The Lutheran Confessions reflect the light.  God’s word alone is the light of the world and the judge of all confessions.  “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights …”  (James 1:17, ESV).

To confess means to breathe out words of belief.  It is to say, “This is what I believe because this is true.”  It is a restatement of truth.

Unfortunately, most “Lutherans” in America do not even know what our Confessions say.  Our “unity” is not based on a common confession of truth, but rather our “unity” is based on politics or history.

However, a confession means nothing if it is not confessed, if it is not lived, or if it is not even known.  We should know our Confessions, and if we believe, then we should confess them in our practice.

Can a simple picture say that much?

Recently, someone used my photo to create an internet meme:

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True theological unity is based on a common confession of truth.  It is not based on setting aside theological differences, and promising to be united.

The meme didn’t give me any credit for the original photo, but I’m glad that the truth is being promoted.  It is a good meme, and my thumb is proud to be a part of it.

Big Sunset

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Sometimes the sunset is too big for the camera lens.

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The truth is beautiful, and when beauty and truth are more than we can grasp, we are left in awe and wonder.

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The world God created reflects His order and His infinity.  It is incomprehensibly large, and full of things that are incomprehensibly small.

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So no matter how much we learn, a full understanding of God and His logical creation will always be beyond our grasp.  It will always be beyond our ability to fully know.  We will always be left in awe and wonder.

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If the logical creation leaves us in wonder, how much more so the Infinite Creator?

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Yet, just as a camera can catch part of a sunset, so also we can understand and receive in part.

That is why God comes to us in means.  Means are ways we can understand and receive God.  Jesus Christ is the one true God.  He comes to us in words that we can understand and sacraments we can see, taste, and feel.

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May we always appreciate the gifts of God, always grow in learning, and always stand in awe of His infinite wonder (both great and small).

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