Live forever.

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The life we live in this world is short.  Like the flowers of the grass, we are here today and gone tomorrow.  But the word of the Lord endures forever.  (1 Peter 1:24-25).  And we have His promise of forgiveness and life eternal.  Hold fast to His word of promise.  Live forever.  (John 11:25-26).

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Encouragement from John Chrysostom:

“Do not be downcast, or give up your zeal, or become sluggish.  Rather, press onward with more eagerness; even the apostles, when they preached, although they were scourged, stoned, and constant inmates of the prisons, not only after deliverance from dangers but also in those very dangers did they announce with greater courage the message of truth.  Paul is to be seen in prison, yes, even in chains, instructing and initiating (Acts 16:24-25) and moreover doing the very same in a court of justice (Acts 26), in shipwreck, in tempest, and in a thousand dangers (Acts 27).”

Do not be downcast … do not cease good works … never fall back!

“Imitate these saints, and do not cease good works, so long as you are able.  Although you see the devil thwarting you ten thousand times, never fall back!  You might be shipwrecked, perhaps even with your wealth.  But Paul, carrying the Word, which is far more precious than all wealth, was going to Rome and was shipwrecked.  He sustained innumerable hardships.  He indicated this when he said, ‘Because we wanted to come to you—I, Paul, again and again—but Satan hindered us’ (1 Thessalonians 2:18).  God permitted it, thus revealing the more abundantly His power, and showing that the many things that the devil did, or prevented from being done, neither lessened nor interrupted the preaching of the Gospel”

— John Chrysostom, Homilies on the Statutes, 1.30
as quoted in A Year with the Church Fathers:
Meditations for Each Day of the Church Year,
2011 CPH, page 253.

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Hiking Near the Mississippi

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The pictures in this post are from Perrot State Park in Wisconsin on the mighty Mississippi River.

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The two pictures above were taken on the way up to the top of Brady’s Bluff.

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Trempealeau Mountain stands up in the midst of the waters.

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Brady’s Bluff stands 520 feet above the Mississippi, and provides a commanding view of the river and Minnesota.

Dreamy Hartman Creek

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These pictures are from a hike in Hartman Creek State Park near Waupaca, WI.

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Fishing is popular in this area.  Two canines helped in this photo.

Is the word “canine” related to “Canaanite”?  A Canaanite woman came to Jesus, and cried, “Lord, help me.”  And Jesus answered,

“It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.”  She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.”  Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith!  Be it done for you as you desire.”  And her daughter was healed instantly.

— Matthew 15:25-28, ESV.

Just wondering about the etymology and God’s grace.

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The sun came out after after a rain shower.  Back-light illumination is one of my favorite ways to photograph vegetation.

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Rain fell as mist floated across the water.

Hartman Creek is one of my favorite places to go mountain biking.  It has an extensive single-track and double-track trail system.  However, I generally do not take pictures while mountain biking, opting instead to enjoy the sights and scents without electronics.

God’s blessings to you.

Independence Day 2016

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The American spirit flashed bright.  Don’t let the darkness of socialism destroy that spirit.

Of all the dispositions and habits, which lead to political prosperity, Religion and morality are indispensable supports.  In vain would that man claim the tribute of Patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great Pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of Men and citizens.  The mere Politician, equally with the pious man ought to respect and to cherish them…  reason and experience both forbid us to expect, that National morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.

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As a very important source of strength and security, cherish public credit.  One method of preserving it is to use it as sparingly as possible, avoiding occasions of expense by cultivating peace, but remembering also that timely disbursements to prepare for danger frequently prevent much greater disbursements to repel it; avoiding likewise the accumulation of debt, not only by shunning occasions of expense, but by vigorous exertions in time of peace to discharge the debts which unavoidable wars may have occasioned, not ungenerously throwing upon posterity the burthen which we ourselves ought to bear.

— George Washington, farewell address, 1796 A.D.

Remember the spirit of 1776.

Happy Fourth of July.

Grace is like a passing shower of rain.

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This is a passing rain storm as seen from the peak of Rib Mountain, Wisconsin.

When it rained, it rained hard.  But when the sun shined, it shone with warmth and brilliance.  Energized by yellow sunbeams, mist rose above the splashed ground.

The Lord sends blessing and adversity.  Sometimes he curses.  (Genesis 3:17-19).  But even his curses are good.  For “all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”  (Romans 8:28, ESV).

I form light and create darkness,
I make well-being and create calamity,
I am the Lord, who does all these things.

Shower, O heavens, from above,
and let the clouds rain down righteousness;
let the earth open, that salvation and righteousness may bear fruit;
let the earth cause them both to sprout;
I the Lord have created it.

Woe to him who strives with him who formed him,
a pot among earthen pots!
Does the clay say to him who forms it, ‘What are you making?’
or ‘Your work has no handles’?

— Isaiah 45:7-9, ESV.

We are here because God gave us life.  Our very existence shows that we belong.  Do God’s clay pots have no handles?  Did he make us wrong?

Who has made man’s mouth?  Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind?  Is it not I, the Lord?  Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.

— Exodus 4:11-12, ESV.

The Lord calls to us.  Jesus is our righteousness.  (Jeremiah 23:6).  No matter what our calamity or circumstance, he has a place for us.  Because of Jesus we belong.

Happy 8th Anniversary Light from Light

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The first post on this blog appeared eight years ago in May 2008 A.D.  Happy anniversary Light from Light.

I chose the name Light from Light as a play on words between photography and the Nicene Creed.  Jesus Christ is the true Light from Light.

VDMA in the web address is a Latin acronym for, “The Word of the Lord Endures Forever.”  (VDMA).

The light of God shines out through his eternal word.  “Let there be light…”  (Genesis 1:3).

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For the eighth anniversary, I decided to post a photograph with a creature associated with the number eight.  See below.

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If one looks closely, one can see the sunbeams shimmering off its web and God’s creature at the center.  The Lord has a place for all of us.

God’s blessings to all the readers.  Thank you.

Fahrenheit 451: Burning Words

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Fahrenheit 451 is a book about burning words and ideas.  Instead of putting out fires, the Firemen in Fahrenheit 451 start fires, and burn books.

This book sizzles.  Its words crackle.  Listen:

It was a pleasure to burn.

It was a special pleasure to see things eaten, to see things blackened and changed.  With the brass nozzle in his fists, with this great python spitting its venomous kerosene upon the world, the blood pounded in his head, and his hands were the hands of some amazing conductor playing all the symphonies of blazing and burning to bring down the tatters and charcoal ruins of history.  With his symbolic helmet numbered 451 on his stolid head, and his eyes all orange flame with the thought of what came next, he flicked the igniter and the house jumped up in a gorging fire that burned the evening sky red and yellow and black.  He strode in a swarm of fireflies…  While the books went up in sparkling whirls and blew away on a wind turned dark with burning.

Montag was a Fireman.  In the beginning, his face was gripped with a fiery smile.  But through interaction with someone who contemplated life, he realized his emptiness.  In his search for meaning, he began to steal and hide the very books he was supposed to burn.

His wife told him to find distraction in something fun.  That is what everyone does.  Don’t think, just have fun.  But Montag would not this time.  He wanted to hold onto his emptiness, he wanted to find meaning.

17470674Montag held possibly the last copy of the Bible in his part of the world.  And he knew if they found it, they would burn it.

He could hear Beatty’s voice.  “Sit down, Montag.  Watch.  Delicately, like the petals of a flower.  Light the first page, light the second page.  Each becomes a black butterfly.  Beautiful, eh?  Light the third page, from the second and so on, chain-smoking, chapter by chapter, all the silly things the words mean, all the false promises, all the secondhand notions and time-worn philosophies.”  There sat Beatty, perspiring gently, the floor littered with swarms of black moths that had died in a single storm.

They would burn the Bible, one page at a time they would destroy the words and ideas.

Montag brought the last physical copy of the Bible to Faber.

Faber’s hands itched on his knees.  “May I?”

“Sorry.”  Montag gave him the book.

“It’s been a long time.  I’m not a religious man.  But it’s been a long time.”  Faber turned the pages, stopping here and there to read.  “It’s as good as I remember.  Lord, how they’ve changed it in our ‘parlors’ these days.¹  Christ is one of the ‘family’ now.²  I often wonder if God recognizes His own son the way we’ve dressed him up, or is it dressed him down?  He’s a regular peppermint stick now, all sugar-crystal and saccharine when he isn’t making veiled references to certain commercial products that every worshiper absolutely needs.”  Faber sniffed the book.  “Do you know that books smell like nutmeg or some spice from a foreign land?  I loved to smell them when I was a boy.  Lord, there were a lot of lovely books once, before we let them go.”  Faber turned the pages.  “Mr. Montag, you are looking at a coward.  I saw the way things were going, a long time back.  I said nothing.  I’m one of the innocents who could have spoken up and out when no one would listen to the ‘guilty,’ but I did not speak and thus became guilty myself.  And when finally they set the structure to burn the books, using the firemen, I grunted a few times and subsided, for there were no others grunting or yelling with me, by then.  Now, it’s too late.”  Faber closed the Bible.  “Well—suppose you tell me why you came here?”

“Nobody listens any more.  I can’t talk to the walls because they’re yelling at me.³  I can’t talk to my wife; she listens to the walls.³  I just want someone to hear what I have to say.  And maybe if I talk long enough, it’ll make sense.  And I want you to teach me to understand what I read.”

¹  Parlors are TV viewing rooms.  ²  The ‘family’ are the characters on the television programs.  ³  When Montag says “walls” he means the giant interactive TVs that are the walls of the parlor.

Montag’s experience reminds me of the so-called Church Growth Movement.  Within that movement, nobody listens, nobody pays attention.  The glowing giant television transfixes.  And nobody cares what it says, it just feels good.  It makes them feel like they are doing their part to grow the Church with their attractive sugar-crystal “Jesus.”

The world is that way too.  Everyone wants to feel good, and feel like they are important, and feel like they are making a difference.  So we play video games, watch TV, take drugs, go to church, or whatever we need to get that high feeling.  Meanwhile, we trample the truth.  We trample the real Jesus, a Jesus not of sugar but of human flesh and blood.

But every once in awhile, someone wakes up.  And they start to realize something is wrong, but because we live in an age where the truth has been almost completely obliterated, we cannot quite put our finger on it.

Fahrenheit 451 continued:

Faber examined Montag’s thin, blue-jowled face.  “How did you get shaken up?  What knocked the torch out of your hands?”

“I don’t know.  We have everything we need to be happy, but we aren’t happy.  Something’s missing.  I looked around.  The only thing I positively knew was gone was the books I’d burned in ten or twelve years.  So I thought books might help.”

“You’re a hopeless romantic,” said Faber.  “It would be funny if it were not serious.  It’s not books you need, it’s some of the things that once were in books.  The same things could be in the ‘parlor families’ today.  The same infinite detail and awareness could be projected through the radios and televisors, but are not.  No, no, it’s not books at all you’re looking for! …  Books were only one type of receptacle where we stored a lot of things we were afraid we might forget.  There is nothing magical in them, at all.  The magic is only in what books say, how they stitched the patches of the universe together into one garment for us.

Faber continued by saying that books like the Bible are important because they tell the truth and the whole truth, showing even the pores and dirt.

“So now do you see why books are hated and feared?  They show the pores in the face of life.  The comfortable people want only wax moon faces, poreless, hairless, expressionless.  We are living in a time when flowers are trying to live on flowers, instead of growing on good rain and black loam.  Even fireworks, for all their prettiness, come from the chemistry of the earth.  Yet somehow we think we can grow, feeding on flowers and fireworks, without completing the cycle back to reality.”

Finally, Faber said that not only is truth important, but just as important is the time to think and ponder.  The television and the culture tell us what to think, and they do not give us time to process what they are saying.

“If you’re not driving a hundred miles an hour, at a clip where you can’t think of anything else but the danger, then you’re playing some game or sitting in some room where you can’t argue with the four-wall televisor.  Why?  The televisor is ‘real.’  It is immediate, it has dimension.  It tells you what to think and blasts it in.  It must be right.  It seems so right.  It rushes you on so quickly to its own conclusions your mind hasn’t time to protest, ‘What nonsense!'”

The truth has time.  The truth is real.  The truth is not afraid.  The truth brings freedom.  (John 8:32).

That is why I love the liturgy.  Its words come from the Bible, and it gives us time to ponder, years even.  For a lifetime, the words sink in, and they change us because they are always with us.  Christ promised to be with us in his word, not the latest innovative creed, manipulative video, or man-centered motivational speech masquerading as a sermon.  The truth comes to us through his clear, pure word.

Through word and sacrament alone is how he comes to us.  Our fathers fought for this principle in the Reformation.  But now those who are trading God’s word of truth for mere emotionalism and pragmatism will receive a bowl of pottage for their inheritance.  (Genesis 25:29-34).

Montag asked,

“Where do we go from here?  Would books help us?”

“Only if the third necessary thing could be given us.  Number one, as I said, quality of information.  Number two: leisure to digest it.  And number three: the right to carry out actions based on what we learn from the interaction of the first two.”

Fahrenheit 451 is about burning books and ideas.  But they do not have to burn books no one reads.  Faber admitted as much.  The Firemen were just for show.  The Firemen in Fahrenheit 451 were made possible because no one knew the truth anymore anyway.

600px-Ingsoc_logo_from_1984.svgToday, we do not burn books, instead we ignore them, or “translate” them into Ingsoc.  (Coined by George Orwell, Ingsoc is English corrupted by socialism.  An example of this corruption is the attempt to erase biological gender distinctions from the English language so that we start calling men women and women men or start saying that 2+2=5).  Ingsoc makes telling the truth impossible, and hearing the truth incomprehensible.  The purpose of deconstructing our words is not just to obscure truth, but to destroy the English language, and make it incapable of communicating the truth.

Regarding the Bible, they do not have to burn a book no one reads.  And if someone does read the Bible, they try to give us gender-confused and other Ingsoc translations to obscure the truth.  Consider for example Psalm 8:4.  The NIV (2011 version) says:

what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
human beings that you care for them?

Why does God care for human beings?  Why is God mindful of us?  The true answer is Christ, the son of man.  (Daniel 7:13-14).  Here is the English Standard Version:

what is man that you are mindful of him,
and the son of man that you care for him?

Christ is the son of man.  (Daniel 7:13-14).  Christ alone is the man God cares for.  He is the righteous one.  Moses and the prophets wrote of Christ; but for him they had nothing to say.  (Luke 24:44).  But these “translators” have obscured Christ, so in the end, what they leave us with is a question without an answer:  Why does God care for human beings?

The most important question is not, Who are human beings?  Who are they?  The question God wants us to ask is, why does God care for the son of man?  Who is He?

George Orwell said, “But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.”  (Politics and the English Language).

The translators of the NIV (2011 version) did not burn the masculine and feminine gendered books, but they are burning the idea one verse and one version at a time.  As Beatty would have had Montag burn the Bible one page at time, so also the ever-changing translations would surrender the English language, and obscure Christ one idea at a time, starting with certain gender-clear passages about Jesus in the Old Testament.

Christians must wake up, and stand against the intentional destruction of our language.  Do not let them burn words, mistranslate, or obscure Christ in any part of the Bible.

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On Pentecost, the Holy Spirit gave to the Church the gift of tongues and the understanding of languages.  (Acts 2).  The purpose of language is not to control minds and prop up totalitarianism, but rather to communicate the truth.  The truth sets us free.  (John 8:32).  Let us hold fast to Jesus, the Word of God, and the Truth.

Blessed Ascension 2016

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“… you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

After He had said this, He was taken up as they were watching, and a cloud took Him out of their sight.  While He was going, they were gazing into heaven, and suddenly two men in white clothes stood by them.  They said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up into heaven?  This Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come in the same way that you have seen Him going into heaven.”

Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called the Mount of Olives, which is near Jerusalem—a Sabbath day’s journey away.

— Acts 1:8-12, HCSB.

The Festival of the Ascension is important because it emphasizes the physicality of our salvation.  Christ did not evaporate after his Easter resurrection, instead he appeared to hundreds of people over the course of 40 days.  He touched them, he ate with them, he spoke with them.  He left hundreds of witnesses.  He lived in time and space.  He stood on a real mountain, and rose from a real place.  He was one of us, and still is one of us.

Though he ascended into heaven, a higher dimension, so that he could fill the entire universe, he is still a human being.  (Ephesians 4:10).

Coming exactly 40 days after Easter, Ascension Day liturgically reminds us that Christ tarried here, and gave us many witnesses, and that his calling was not just to pay for sin, but also to bring us to be with him.  That is why he waited and stayed, to give us faith through the word of truth preached by his apostles.  It was his resurrection and the proof of his resurrection that he gave, that made the apostles bold.  They touched him, they saw him ascend.

The One who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.  And He personally gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, for the training of the saints in the work of ministry, to build up the body of Christ, until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of God’s Son, growing into a mature man with a stature measured by Christ’s fullness.  Then we will no longer be little children, tossed by the waves and blown around by every wind of teaching, by human cunning with cleverness in the techniques of deceit.  But speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into Him who is the head—Christ.  From Him the whole body, fitted and knit together by every supporting ligament, promotes the growth of the body for building up itself in love by the proper working of each individual part.

— Ephesians 4:10-16, HCSB.

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Heaven is our home.  Happy Ascension!

When the sun shines it will shine out the clearer.

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It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo.  The ones that really mattered.  Full of darkness and danger, they were.  And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end.  Because how could the end be happy?  How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened?  But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow.  Even darkness must pass.  A new day will come.  And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer.  Those were the stories that stayed with you.  That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why.  But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand.  I know now.  Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t.  They kept going.  Because they were holding on to something.

— Samwise Gamgee
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers,
(movie version).

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Our lives can only have meaning if we are a part of something larger than ourselves.  Jesus of Nazareth said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.  If you had known me, you would have known my Father also.  From now on you do know him and have seen him.”  (John 14:6-7, ESV).

The pictures are of the same scene along the Bierstadt Lake trail in the Colorado Rocky Mountains.

Be at peace.

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Let not your hearts be troubled.  Believe in God; believe also in me.  In my Father’s house are many rooms.  If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.  And you know the way to where I am going…  I am the way, and the truth, and the life.

— Jesus of Nazareth
(John 14:1-6, ESV).

By his death and resurrection, Christ proved that he is Lord of all.  He kept his promise, and will keep every promise.  He works to prepare a place for us where all that is wrong will be made right.  And he will come again.

Be at peace.  The Lord is risen!