God's Gift of Nature
Written by Allison Gardner - Heartland Church - Fort Wayne, IN
Photographer: Rhonda Logan-Bailey
At a distance I could see it. Its pure, white face popping up through the field of green. As I got closer, I stopped to admire the beauty of the solitary flower that had mustered the strength to bloom there in the middle of the weeds. God’s creation is an amazingly beautiful, complex thing. It is full of the character of God, and, if we are paying attention, it points us right back to our Creator. “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” Psalms 19:1 NIV
When I come to the end of myself, being in God’s creation draws me back to Him. Taking a walk down our country road, listening to the cicadas sing their song, and hearing our unruly rooster announce that dawn has arrived, I find a peace like no other. As I go, I am often reminded that Jesus went away into nature. He walked along the sea, climbed a mountain, or went to a garden to pray.
There is a calm that surrounds us as we take in the beauty and complexity of the Lord’s creation. Who could orchestrate such a melody composed of sounds of the wind blowing through the trees, birds singing their praises, children running and laughing, kittens purring, and the buzz of the bee besides the omnipotent, holy God? In the same way, who could paint such a masterpiece filled with the splash of colors as the sun rises and sets, the intricate design on the wings of a beautiful butterfly, or the trail of a star shooting across the midnight sky besides the Creator of the universe?
As the world strives to make the next bigger and better thing, we should step back and step out into nature. It is simple, yet at the same time, complex beyond our finite understanding. At the beginning of time, God walked in the cool of the garden (Genesis 3:8). The Creator enjoyed time spent in His creation. Let’s do the same.
Father, thank you for Your beautiful creation and all the gifts we find within. May we always turn our hearts towards You in worship as we savor the beauty. Amen.
Let This Mind Be in You
Written by Fr. Dale Minor - Reclaim Ministry - Rutland, OH
“September!” Just the sound of it raises expectation of change. Those who write memes on social media have let us know that this is the first of the “ber” months. That is, the last four months of the year end in b-e-r and signify the beginnings of the colder or “brrr” months of winter. When I was young, September meant the start of a new school year, (We usually started the day after Labor Day.) and this was met with both anticipation and dread. For farmers it meant the harvest of corn and soy beans, folks harvesting their gardens and putting away their winter stores. It was time to purchase a supply of coal to burn in the stoves which warmed our homes. Many such preparations would be made, even as it would likely be four or five weeks before the weather changed appreciatively.
Today, school has been in for a couple of weeks. Football season has started and has drawn the attention of its fans. Perhaps there are some yard plants which will need to be prepared to survive the coming cold. Evening and weekend activities will include raking leaves and securing the house for winter. Prices of natural gas and fuel oil will be tops on people’s minds, and the biggest complaints are that commercial interests have already started pushing pumpkin-spice-everything, and dropping hints about Christmas shopping.
The point is that change is coming and we know it. We also know how to prepare for that change, the change to our physical world. But how about change in our spiritual world? Even as many folks fail to assign importance to it, we are primarily spiritual beings. We are made in the image of God who is spirit. Famed 19th Century Jesuit Priest, theologian, philosopher, etc. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin wrote, “We are not physical beings having a spiritual experience, but spiritual beings having a physical experience.” And blessed are those who are fully aware of their spiritual selves.
What is the Biblical proof that this is true? This is a study within itself but here are a few verses which might get you started: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Rom 12:2) This defines a division between that which is of the world and that which is “that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Also consider these words. “For this reason we also, since the day we first heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding.” (Col. 1:9) And, “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God,…. But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one, For who has known the mind of the Lord that we may instruct Him. But we have the mind of Christ.” (1 Cor 2:14a, 15-16) If it was not possible to be spiritually minded, Paul would not have counseled the churches at Rome and Corinth to expect such communion with Christ, and would not have pledged his prayers for the church at Colossae to this same end.
There is much more in scripture calling us to return to the relationship originally established between God and man in Eden, a spiritual communion which is not broken but continues to be available to those who desire it and are willing to separate themselves from the ways of the world to embrace the kingdom of God. Hear these words from the Apostle Peter which are as valid today as when they were written.
“Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and evil speaking, as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious. Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected by men, but chosen by God and precious, You also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 2:1-5)
We were created as spiritual beings for the purpose of knowing God….. Don’t waste it!
Poet and Photographer: Rhonda Logan-Bailey - Heartland Church - Fort Wayne, IN
illuminates the path of truth
and reflects fresh direction before us,
as the scars and calluses
of our misconceptions are softened.
He then sentences chaos to be
forever consumed by the darkness.
revelation to dawn and wisdom to flourish,
nourished by His grace that never ends,
perpetuating growth and producing fruit through
every season. Realigning our expectations to
Mon, Tues, Thurs, Fri