In_GOD_We_TrustAs a normal course of life, we are asked to routinely trust a diverse array of situational commands delivered by people we have never met, or machines we never wanted to.  Yet we accept these often life changing commands as routine because we trust the source.  More precisely, we choose to trust the source.

  •     “In an emergency, the bags will drop from the ceiling above your head.  Simply pull on the chord to start the flow of air.  The bag may not inflate, but (TRUST ME) air will be flowing.”  We are asked in an airplane emergency to trust that lifesaving air is actually in an empty bag.  I’ve never heard anyone ask, “I don’t trust you – prove it.
  •     You are driving your car towards a busy intersection, and the green light is shining in your direction.  Other cars are approaching in a perpendicular path, but they SHOULD have a red light.  You TRUST that the other cars will stop. We TRUST that the light is working properly and the other drivers see the light, know the law, and will obey it.  We bet our lives on that scenario every day.
  •       One more from the airlines.  “In case of an unplanned water landing, use your seat cushion as a water floatation device.”  My seat cushion is barely the size of my seat, and only two inches thick.  I believe it will float in the Pacific Ocean, but I am to TRUST that the cushion will float with me holding on to it.  Really?  Yet here I sit in aisle 4 during a flight back home, TRUSTING that the aircraft, crew, and the Laws of Physics that we will land safely.

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The Trail Master

MountainForestPathThe group of thirty people, mostly men, a few women, and one lone boy standing off by himself, shuffled their feet to hold back the morning cold while they gathered at the base of the trail leading up the mountain.  From their vantage point, everything in existence appeared to be up, and in reality, they were right. The mountain ahead was not significantly steep, but the trail was narrow and held many twists and turns, so getting lost was a real danger. The air was crisp, and the beauty of the mountain was stunning; striking rock formations of red and beige surrounded by dark green trees of massive proportions, interrupted by an occasional deep blue twisting line. It should have been a painting; maybe it was.

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The Christmas Story

God created the earth with the intension of living with us, of walking with us daily in His garden paradise. In the beginning, God only had one simple rule.

 “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

“So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”

“The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die”

“Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.”

Genesis 1:1, 27; Genesis 2:15-17, 25


But God gave us the gift of free will, so that our love and adoration to Him would be real, and honest.  Unfortunately, that left people to make their own choices, and their own mistakes.  That first mistake lead to the end of paradise.

“He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”  The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”  So the Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken.”

Genesis 3:10, 13


Mankind soon discovered that a life separate from God was no picnic, yet our suborn pride kept getting in the way of good choices. (Of God’s choices)

“So they put slave masters over them to oppress them with forced labor, and they built Pithom and Rameses as store cities for Pharaoh.  But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread; so the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites and worked them ruthlessly.  They made their lives bitter with harsh labor in brick and mortar and with all kinds of work in the fields; in all their harsh labor the Egyptians worked them ruthlessly.”

Exodus 1: 11-14


The moment Adam and Eve left the garden God started planning our return to Him, our eternal righteousness.  He chose Moses, and unlikely hero to be a leader to His people.

“One day, after Moses had grown up, he went out to where his own people were and watched them at their hard labor. He saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his own people. Looking this way and that and seeing no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand.”

“God said to Moses, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’”

Exodus 2:11-12; Exodus 3:14


Pharaoh did not obey God’s demands easily, but eventually relented.

 During the night Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, “Up! Leave my people, you and the Israelites! Go, worship the Lord as you have requested. Take your flocks and herds, as you have said, and go. And also bless me.”

Exodus 12:31, 32


God’s people escaped Egypt, but their stubborn pride once again got in the way.  So, a journey that could have taken 11 days, took them 40 years to complete.  Only one person who fled from Egypt crossed the river Jordan.

“Go up to the land flowing with milk and honey. But I will not go with you, because you are a stiff-necked people and I might destroy you on the way.”

“Then the Lord said to him (Moses), “This is the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob when I said, ‘I will give it to your descendants.’ I have let you see it with your eyes, but you will not cross over into it.”

Exodus 33: 3; Deuteronomy 34:4


For thousands of years we struggled to follow in God’s way.  We fought Him, then obeyed Him, then fought Him once more.  He sent many prophets to remind us of our divine destiny, but we just would not listen.

“The Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord, and for seven years he gave them into the hands of the Midianites.”

“No sooner had Gideon died than the Israelites again prostituted themselves to the Baals. They set up Baal-Berith as their god and did not remember the Lord their God, who had rescued them from the hands of all their enemies on every side.”

Judges 6:1, 33


However, God’s plan for us was in full swing.  He was sending forth great leaders and prophets to tell of a chosen one, a Savior for all time.  Salvation was on its way.

“The LORD swore an oath to David, a sure oath that he will not revoke: “One of your own descendants I will place on your throne.”

“For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.”

“The days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will raise up to David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land. In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. This is the name by which he will be called: The LORD Our Righteousness.”

Psalms 132:11; Isaiah 9:6,Jeremiah 23:5-6

Now was the time; God’s plan to right what was wronged in the garden was now in its final stretch.  As foretold by dozens of people, the Savior of mankind would be born in Bethlehem.  King of Kings; Lord of Lords.  The Messiah.

“In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.  The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”  Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.  But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God.  You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus.  He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.”  “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”  The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.”

“So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David.  He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.  While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.”

Luke 1:26-35; Luke 2:4-7


For all of eternity God planned for Christmas day.  Everything that transpired in history, from the garden to Abraham, Moses, David, and Mary: God’s overarching plan was to rid the world of sin, and bring all of humanity back home.   To do all of that, He needed to enlist the help of His Son.

Why, after the many times people let Him down, why would God keep trying to bring us back to Him?

One word: Love

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

John 3:16 

Merry Christmas!  This is your day to celebrate.

Sharpen Your Spoon

Is it just me, or does the world want more out of us, but continues to offer less in return? Are we paying more for what was a free service only a few years ago?  Flying is a perfect example of the negative change in the cost to value relationship of so many services or products we use. Flying used to be a luxurious form of transportation: good food, free movies, and big suitcases – a pampered existence for a few exciting hours.  Now, you pay extra to bring clothes to your destination, unless you can squeeze them into a lunchbox sized carryon; if you are hungry, then bring your own food, and if you want entertainment, bring a credit card.  The cost is up and the value is down.  When I was young, ice cream was sold in a 4-quart container; we called it a gallon of ice cream.  Now, since the makers of the ice cream have grown weary of raising prices, they have decreased the amount sold to 3.5 quarts.  Since when is 3.5 quarts equal to a gallon?  Everywhere, we are asked to pay more, and offered less in return – except in our transactions with God.  His cost has stayed the same, and His value has not tarnished.  His gifts are free and the value is immeasurable.  Yet, even with a cost to value relationship so tilted in our favor, the darkness in this world wins too often, so we believers need to do more.  The amount of pain, sickness, and hurt; the abandonment of all things Christian by governments big and small, and the stress of living in uncertain economic and political times, calls us to do more.  We, who believe in God, must dig deeper to help those who do not know how, or where to dig.  We need to sharpen our spoons.

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The Rogue Wave

Sometimes, being swept off your feet is not at all that romantic.  Consider walking into the ocean.  The warm grains of sand wrap around your feet and toes, giving way just enough as you walk to build a small hole that tries to hold on with every step. The sand nearer the ocean is damp and cool from the remnants of waves that retreated only minutes past.  Gathering your courage you press onward until that first taste of ocean water touches your toe.  It is cold, and you stop walking – jerking your foot backwards, but only for a moment.  Before you realize it, the waves are slapping against your knees and an occasional drop hits your chest. 

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A Mosquito in the Back Yard

Have you ever wondered what it might feel like to be a mosquito? Probably not, and if you have perhaps you should seek immediate psychiatric help. For the moment though, we’ll pretend its okay to consider becoming a small, annoying pest. The good news about a mosquito is that they belong to a very large family. Cousins, aunts, uncles, brothers and sisters are in abundance, although they come and go rather quickly. Your family name is Culcidae, and there are 3,500 different species in your family. We all know people who can’t go anywhere without meeting a friend (and it’s annoying); mosquitoes are like that.

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In The Desert

Even though I wore denim pants, the sharp grains of sand bit through to my knees like so many small razors, so that the intense heat of the desert floor was able to freely burn my skin in a hundred tiny sparks.  I crawled with my toes lifted off the sand as best I could, because the heat was so intense in the midafternoon they burned with only a momentary touch.  My calves cramped almost hourly, forcing me to stretch and then I touched the desert – inflicting another burn atop a previous wound.  My hands were not so lucky, yet in a way they were fortunate.  One hand was always in contact with the sand, so they burned red; but it didn’t take long for my palms to callus and scar, so I couldn’t feel the destruction happening, I just knew that it was. 

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Free Fall

Imagine you are in a small plane, flying at 10,000 feet above South Placer County.  It is a clear autumn morning, the sun is up but only producing a brisk 58 degrees; there is a moment of white on the Sierra Nevada Mountains, signaling the first of many snow storms had arrived last night.  Dressed in jeans, tennis shoes and a tee shirt (if you are a girl, the outfit matches; if a guy, then you don’t care), you can feel the cold outside the plane, which is ten degrees lower than on the valley floor.  You slide open the passenger door of the four passenger Piper; the wind instantly tears through the interior creating a tornado like effect with the few papers on the dash.  The velocity of the chilled air striking your bear arms makes you believe you now know what it must feel like to be lost in a blizzard – in a bathing suit.  (You were always one for drama!).  Unbuckling your seat belt, you send a nod to the pilot, place both feet on the door threshold, and jump.  In less than a second, the plane is a distant memory.

As Newton predicted, you fall towards the earth accelerating at 32 feet per second.  Depending upon your weight, and position while dropping, you will reach terminal velocity in 7-10 seconds.  This is the point where your descent speed can no longer increase, but remains constant at about 125 miles per hour due to the friction of the surrounding air.  Kind of a good news / bad news story: you’re not falling any faster, but you are falling real fast. It will take another minute to find the ground, but a lot can happen in a minute.

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The View From My Car Window

I spent much of this week in Canada, near Toronto.  It is an absolutely beautiful area: rolling green hills, with strands of purple and yellow wildflowers winding between the small lakes and tall trees.  Autumn is gently taking stride; the trees wore bright yellow leaves, and every so often a deep red would highlight the season.  Rounded stone walls surrounded the pitched steeples of old, yet still vibrant churches at many of the four way stop signs as we drove through the countryside.  The square stone construction and arched stain glass windows of the churches reminded me of a time when days were filled with hard work on the family farm, and the nights with a fire, blanket, and a good book to end the day.  Nostalgic memories of what were, or of what I envisioned it to be, filled my mind; and I freely let it pour in, drenching my subconscious with thoughts of all that was good, and filtering out anything that wasn’t.

Our car sped down the two lane Canadian road in metric time; the signs telling me in kilometers how much further until we reached the reality of the city, where grey concrete obscured the yellow of the trees, and red was the color of the light at intersections.   The transition from the tranquility of the country, to the attempted beauty of the city was slow, like a small leak deflating a bicycle tire. Make no mistake, Toronto is an amazing city, with more to offer than most, but it cannot compare to the land that surrounds it.

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