Veterans’ Day 2016

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This picture is of the Fort McPherson National Cemetery in Nebraska.  The men and women buried here served their country with honor.

Whether you gave your life to the end or not, whether you were wounded or not, whether you served in combat or not, your service to our country is appreciated.  Service is not easy, but it is good.

Thank you.

May you have a blessed Veterans’ Day.

All Saints Day 2016

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Happy All Saints Day!  Like the sunlight in that tree, it is the Word of God that makes the saints shine.

“I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.”  (Revelation 21:2, ESV).  How does the Church dress beautifully for her husband, Christ?  She adorns herself with the words and promises of God by believing them.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man.  He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.  He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

— Revelation 21:3-4, ESV.

God’s word shines in our hearts giving us light and life.

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At the entrance to High Cliff State Park this red maple stood in a sun beam between the clouds and green trees.  After parking, I walked back, waited for the sun to reappear, and shot some photos with my old Canon A550.

Recently, my Canon G12 died.  I ordered a new camera, but the new camera had to be returned because it had a dead pixel.  So my A550 has come out of retirement.  The 7.1 megapixel A550 was my first ever digital camera, and I have always had a lot of fun with it.  When it retired, the batteries were not making a good connection, but I managed to fix that issue, and now the camera seems to be working as well as ever.

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But for my old A550, this scene would have been lost.  I hope you like the pictures, and that you have a blessed All Saints Day!

Walking on High Cliff

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Crack in the Niagara Escarpment rock at High Cliff.

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The Red Bird Trail follows along the edge of the Niagara Escarpment which forms the cliff of High Cliff State Park in Wisconsin.

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The Niagara Escarpment is a large arch shaped, raised rock that runs from an area south of Lake Winnebago in Wisconsin, through Door County, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, a number of large islands in Lake Huron, Ontario, Niagara Falls, and continues on into New York.  It is most famous because Niagara Falls runs over it.

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“How magnificent are Your works, LORD,
how profound Your thoughts!”

— Psalm 92:5, HCSB.

God’s creation is magnificent, and reflects His glory.  But the greatest and most profound thought of God for us is His own incarnation in Jesus Christ.

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Christ is the only way of forgiveness and reconciliation.  He is the only way to heaven.  (John 14:6).

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Jesus is the rock of our salvation.  (Psalm 62:2).

“But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.”

— Isaiah 53:5, ESV.

Only God Can Heal

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“‘If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!’  (Matthew 7:7-11)…

“For this reason have we who are evil a good Father, so that we may not always continue evil.  No evil person can make another person good.  If no evil person can make another good, how can an evil person make himself good?  Only our Father, who is good eternally, can make of an evil person a good person.

“‘Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed;
save me, and I shall be saved.’  (Jeremiah 17:14).”

— St. Augustine,
Sermons on Selected Lessons of the New Testament, 11.2,
as quoted in A Year with the Church Fathers, CPH 2011, page 313.

A Slice of Heaven

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Hartman Creek near Waupaca, Wisconsin

There is something quite beautiful about the way the pine needles shimmer in the late afternoon summer sun (that I’ve never been able to capture with a camera).  This place seems to me like a slice of heaven.

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Mist from campfire smoke and water vapor.

Even tainted by sin, God’s creation remains wondrous.  But the greatest beauty of all is God’s mercy in Christ.  In him all things will be made new.

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Mist on the creek.

Christ is much more than just a slice of heaven.  He is life itself.  (John 14:6).

God’s blessings to you.

Epiphany: Jesus’ Baptism

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Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again.  The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”  The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water …”

— John 4:13-15, ESV.

The water that wells up to eternal life is baptism.  Baptism is living water made alive by the word of God.  And through this water Christ grants his eternal life and righteousness to all who believe.

One of the first celebrations of Epiphany is of the Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River.

In order to fulfill all righteousness, he took our place.  He submitted to John’s baptism in the Jordan river.  John’s baptism was for repentance, and in this way Jesus took our sin, and identified completely with us sinners.  He began his ministry by taking our place, and becoming our substitute.  He became the Lamb of God.  (Genesis 2:8).

When we were baptized, the water washed our sins away.  When Jesus was baptized, he accepted our sins from the water as his own.  John said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”  (John 1:29, ESV).

To Jordan’s river came our Lord,
The Christ, whom heavenly hosts adored,
The God from God, The Light from Light,
The Lord of glory, power, and might.

The Savior came to be baptized
The Son of God in flesh disguised
To stand beneath the Father’s will
And all His righteousness fulfill.

Then from God’s throne with thunderous sound
Came God’s own voice with words profound:
“This is My Son,” was His decree,
“The one I love, who pleases Me.”

The Father’s word, the Spirit’s flight
Anointed Christ in glorious sight
As God’s own choice, from Adam’s fall
To save the world and free us all.

— “To Jordan’s River Came Our Lord,” LSB 405:1-2, 4-5.

Blessed Epiphany.

Autumn Blessings

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The Lord is merciful and good.  So let us fear the Lord in every season.

We have all become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.
We all fade like a leaf,
and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.

— Isaiah 64:6, ESV.

But the Lord is merciful, and sends rain in the Spring and in the Autumn.  Because of Christ crucified and his mercies:

‘Let us fear the Lord our God,
who gives the rain in its season,
the autumn rain and the spring rain,
and keeps for us
the weeks appointed for the harvest.’

— Jeremiah 5:24, ESV.

Every day and every season brings us one ticktock closer to his final return.  For those in Christ, his return will be beautiful.

Notes:

The picture at the top was taken at Copper Falls State Park in Wisconsin.

A Marvelous Kingdom

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After a lot of rain, the sky cleared, the sun called, and still sprinkled with sparkling drops of water, the daisies answered.

These wildflowers just show up every year.  Whose wardrobe is as beautiful and wondrous as the lowly field of wildflowers?  And yet, it is a marvelous kingdom.  The King’s subjects are bees and jumping things.

Consider how the wildflowers grow:  They don’t labor or spin thread.  Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was adorned like one of these!  If that’s how God clothes the grass, which is in the field today and is thrown into the furnace tomorrow, how much more will He do for you—you of little faith?  Don’t keep striving for what you should eat and what you should drink, and don’t be anxious.  For the Gentile world eagerly seeks all these things, and your Father knows that you need them.

But seek His kingdom, and these things will be provided for you.  Don’t be afraid, little flock, because your Father delights to give you the kingdom.  Sell your possessions and give to the poor.  Make money-bags for yourselves that won’t grow old, an inexhaustible treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Be ready for service and have your lamps lit.

— Jesus of Nazareth
Luke 12:27-35, HCSB.

They sway together in a cool breeze under a warm sun.  And through them their maker imparts wisdom.

Photographic Interlude

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There hasn’t been much snow around here this Winter, so in the absence of snowy pictures, I thought I’d post a picture from last Autumn.

The above picture is of the Continental Divide in the Rocky Mountains.  The water is Mills Lake, and the mountain between the trees is probably Pagoda Mountain (13,497 ft).  I was at an estimated elevation of about 10,000 feet above sea level when I took the picture.

A Song of Ascents:

I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.

The Lord will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
The Lord will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time forth and forevermore.

— Psalm 121:1-2, 7-8, ESV.

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The above picture is of the stream leading into Mills Lake.

May God bless you.

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.