Some Interesting Clouds

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I think these might be stratocumulus clouds, but I’m not certain.  When these clouds appeared, there were a number of pictures on TV, and I think there may have been a specific name for them, but I cannot remember it.

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The entire sky reflected the amber light of the setting sun.  The show lasted for about one-half an hour.

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The light itself shown with golden shades of heaven, as God revealed Himself to be an artist.

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Even the afterglow was beautiful.

Then the light retreated back across the clouds, and faded away.

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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.

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!

The Difference Sunlight Can Make

Spotty rain clouds were sailing over the peaks while we hiked over the mountains on the Cub Lake trail in Rocky Mountain National Park.  Taking photos was a challenge because the sun would come out, then hide behind a cloud, then come out again, and on and on.  Often, I saw a shot, took my camera out, turned it on, lined it up, got focus, and whoosh another cloud.  This happened repeatedly.

Clouds have their own beauty, and spotty clouds scraping the mountain peaks can be quite breathtaking especially when they cause the sunlight to fall in beams or crepuscular rays.  Nonetheless, a cloudy diffused light often doesn’t make the best photograph.  I am posting the following two photographs taken only moments apart to demonstrate the difference sunlight can make.

In this top photo, the sun is blocked and diffused by clouds.

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In the photo below, the sun is shining through the clouds.

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These two pictures were taken almost at the same time and from almost the same spot.  As the wisdom of Scripture says, “Light is sweet, and it is pleasant for the eyes to see the sun.”  (Ecclesiastes 11:7, ESV).

As a final note, there was a big forest fire around Cub Lake the year prior to this hike.  Some careless campers let a fire get out of control, and it burned this entire area.  If the tree roots holding the rock and soil in place on the mountain slope rot away before new trees take their place, there could be landslides, and this would become a different place.  So far at least as of last Autumn, the trees were burned and dead, but the wood and roots were still solid and strong.

Let us walk in the light, and let us always enjoy God’s blessings while we have them.

God Paints with Reality

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Nobody does art better than God.  We draw with mediums like paint and photography, but God paints with reality.

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When He paints a sunset, He does it on a scale so large that even people can live in his creations.

Our art is best when it reflects the truth of reality.  The truth is beautiful.

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God’s word is truth.  With words God created the reality of the heavens and the earth.  (Genesis 1 & 2).

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I hope you enjoyed these sunset pictures.  The picture above was supposed to be redder, but I went through three successive dead batteries.  The charged battery was in the car.  So the reddest part of this sunset was lost to unrecorded history.  Still, God is good, and beauty exists even if it goes unseen.

No one does beautiful reality better than God.  Moreover, God does not create with just pretty lights and colors, He also creates with the truth of His love.

There is another reality that is ugly in every way except for the love it confesses.  That reality is Christ crucified.  His sacrifice was not a beauty of the eye, but rather a beauty of the heart.  Only in faith can we truly appreciate the deep beauty of His love and sacrifice.

We live in him.  He is for us a new reality.

Michaelmas

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Clouds always make me think of heaven.  Maybe it is because when God ascended into heaven He was hidden by a cloud.  (Acts 1:9).  Also, when God appeared to the ancient Israelites, He was often hidden by a cloud.  (e.g. Exodus 13:21).

Recently in recognition of the Archangel Michael’s service to our Lord, the Church celebrated Michaelmas.  Michael fought the dragon in heaven:

Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon.  And the dragon and his angels fought back, but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven.  And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.

— Revelation 12:7-9, ESV.

The scenes from The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring & The Two Towers where Gandalf stands against and fights the Balrog are a fun artistic symbol of this battle.  I quite enjoy this quote from Gandalf:  “From the lowest dungeon to the highest peak I fought with the Balrog of Morgoth…  Until at last I threw down my enemy and smote his ruin upon the mountain side…”

— Gandalf; The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God.  And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.  Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them!  But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!”

— Revelation 12:10-12, ESV.

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The picture above makes me think of the Last Day when Christ will return with all the armies of heaven marching in order.  The time is indeed short.

Photographic Interlude

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People walk along the shores of Lake Winnebago at sunset.

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Summer is a time to enjoy the blessings of God.

Word a Week Challenge: Cloud

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The blog A Word in Your Ear has a weekly photographic word challenge.  This week’s word challenge is: cloud.  I couldn’t resist posting something about clouds.

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Clouds often make me think of Jesus because He ascended into heaven with the clouds.

After He ascended, His disciples stood looking intently into the sky.  Suddenly “two men dressed in white stood beside them.  ‘Men of Galilee,’ they said, ‘why do you stand here looking into the sky?  This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.'”  (Acts 1:11, NIV1984).

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Cloud watching is a good activity; it is relaxing, and can be very spiritual.  They symbolize heaven and the sacred hidden nature of God.

Jesus is the Word of God made flesh.  (John 1:1, 1:14).  Someday, He will return with the clouds.  (Revelation 1:7).

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“Hail the day that sees him rise
To his throne above the skies!
Christ, the Lamb for sinners given,
Reascends his native heaven.

“See, the heaven its Lord receives,
Yet he loves the earth he leaves;
Though returning to his throne,
Still he calls mankind his own.

“Still for us he intercedes;
His prevailing death he pleads.
He, the first of all our race,
Near himself prepares a place.

“There we shall with you remain
Partners in your endless reign,
There your face unclouded view,
Find our heaven of heavens in you.”

— “Hail the Day that Sees Him Rise,”
Christian Worship 175:1, 3, 5, 6.

All the pictures in this post were taken on the same day.

Summer Clouds

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Summertime is for watching clouds.

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven

—  Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NIV-1984).

Sometimes, We Feel Like This

Sometimes, we feel like this.  The world is upside down and spinning around.

But we know that we have God’s forgiveness here and now in Word and Sacrament.  How we feel is not as important as what God says and does for us.

We also know that someday Christ will return, and make everything right.  “At that time men will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory.”  (Mark 13:26).