Category Archives: Nature

God’s created (mainly refers to visible) world.

Guess where this Photo was taken

I’d like to know if you can tell where this header (orange sky-scape) photo was taken.

First to guess it right gets a treat.
Good luck.

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Living in a Postcard

I live in Cressona, a dinky little town known for tractor trailers getting stuck under the 11′ 8″ train overpass.

Courtesy of Cressona Fire Dept No. 1 (click for more)

But, just a few roads away are some of the most spectacular landscapes you can imagine.

Each season has its own beauty, and spring and fall are the most colorful. Here are a few photos from my latest bike ride.

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This chapter comes to mind:

Psalm 150 (NIV)

1 Praise the LORD. [a]
Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heavens.

2 Praise him for his acts of power;
praise him for his surpassing greatness.

3 Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
praise him with the harp and lyre,

4 praise him with tambourine and dancing,
praise him with the strings and flute,

5 praise him with the clash of cymbals,
praise him with resounding cymbals.

6 Let everything that has breath praise the LORD.
Praise the LORD.

HA! 5 ways to know if you need a vacation

squirrel fights (Flikr)

To be fair, if you’ve never seen a golden-mantled ground squirrel (a.k.a. “chipmunk” by people who get confused?) with a switchblade, you really should tweet this.

1. The squirrel fights in your yard look choreographed.

2. You start going to the store for just odd things, like tapioca or beef jerky.

3. You wonder if time in a prison cell could have its upsides.

4. The garden hose has become your version of a “water park”.

5. You use a beach towel after a shower to add more adventure and pizzazz to your life.

oops forgot one: You realize “pizzazz” has the word “pizza” in it, and that causes a food fantasy for Boardwalk fare.

Let the wild rumpus start!

What tells YOU that you need a vacation?

Spiritual Challenge: Prayer of Release

Spiritual Challenge:

Find a stone, and hold it tightly.

See it, and feel it as the weight of your worries.

Say a prayer of release.

Then, drop it and walk away.

Your comments are welcome here. We hope you share them.

Blooming Rose of Sharon, evangelism, and spiritual conversions

For mother’s day my family got me a Rose of Sharon plant.

Rose of Sharon blossom (from my yard)

My Rose of Sharon shrubbery

As you can see it’s nearly in full bloom. Although a lot was happening in the life of this new floral addition to my yard, it is the blooming that get us to notice it most, and think of it as really “coming to life.”

Working this week doing the Bible lessons for Vacation Bible School has gotten me to thinking a lot about ordo salutis (“the order of salvation”). This refers to the series of conceptual steps within the Christian doctrine of salvation. Evangelical tradition is particularly focused on “the decision” to follow Christ, and “accepting him into our heart.” While a choice is involved here that can change one’s life, we might be noticing the spiritual blossoming when we concern ourselves primarily with a person’s sudden conversion experience.

Today, my former theology professor, Ken Miller (of the Methodist tradition), posted quite an insightful piece on spirituality that we in ministry and soul care are wise to read:

excerpt: -by Ken Miller
Let me put this out there up front: I grew up in a revivalist tradition, in which a signal experience is what initiates one into the faith. Further, in that tradition it is more similar events which act as catalysts for further growth in the faith. Crisis experiences, usually building on emotions and culminating in a trip to the front of the church/campmeeting/crusade venue and subsequent prayer, are what create significant growth in the Christian life. These experiences likely have to do with the confession of a known sinful act or habit or the sudden realization that one’s current pattern is displeasing to God.

I am not about to dismiss the potential value of theses events/experiences. But I will question their sufficiency. Too often we watch the same individuals having emotional releases, only to return to the same patterns of life. It’s a problem at least as old as the revivalist tradition itself, as John Wesley himself struggled with it and created the Methodist system as a corrective. One could conclude, as Wesley did, that those who reverted to the old ways never really tasted the saving power of Christ; others, wrongly in my reading of scripture and Christian doctrine, claim that the experience itself authenticates one as “saved” for eternity. Apparently, change is optional. Tell it to Paul.

That brings me to the subject of the day, and of the brief passage below. Transformation happens not by an emotional experience, but by the renewing of the mind. We may well experience—and many may well need—the jolt of the emotions provided by the revivalist approach. But change will only come when the mind is changed. We need to think differently about things if we are going to act differently. We need to unlearn some things, some of which were certainties before the word of God pointed in a different direction. We will have to take a look at the ideas we’ve adopted from the culture, along with the ones we didn’t even think were open to serious challenge.

But there’s more to it than turning the faith into an intellectual battle with “worldly” ideas. As Paul’s argument continues, we find that we are called into action immediately, requiring a different attitude and set of habits toward the people we live with and encounter on a regular basis. Is it the case that these ways of dealing with people constitute the renewing of the mind as much as the bigger worldview questions?

Miller’s full article here:

It’s interesting to note that if we think one must be “saved” from spiritual separation from God–by mainly the act of a conscious choice–the mentally handicapped and others are excluded. It also erodes some of the proper understanding of God’s sovereign work (as if Salvation is “up to us”).

If however we see both the hunger to seek the truth about life and God, and also we perceive the work and indwelling of God, (seen best in the fruit of the Holy Spirit), we may be noticing the blossoming of God’s continuous work (of which is largely a mystery).

It seems we must be careful to understand the entire process, including the disciple-making (training) and sanctification process, post-decision…if “the decision” is even the crux of it all in the first place. For us it may seem pivotal, but later a deeper experience could follow, yet for God, it’s one long Story that includes his work, and us (individually) and the rest of humanity.

In truth we have a limited and frail concept of what God, by his grace, gives us.

What are your ideas regarding salvation or conversion?

Some flowery information:

(found here)
Chavatzelet HaSharon (Hebrew חבצלת השרון) is an onion-like flower bulb. (Hebrew חבצלת ḥăḇaṣṣeleṯ) is a flower of uncertain identity translated as the Rose of Sharon in English language translations of the Bible. Etymologists have inconclusively linked the Biblical חבצלת to the words בצל beṣel, meaning ‘bulb’, and חמץ ḥāmaṣ, which is understood as meaning either ‘pungent’ or ‘splendid’ (The Analytical Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon). The name Rose of Sharon first appears in English in 1611 in the King James Version of the Bible. According to an annotation of Song of Solomon 2:1 by the translation committee of the New Revised Standard Version, “Rose of Sharon” is a mistranslation of a more general Hebrew word for “crocus”.
The most accepted interpretation for the Biblical reference is the Pancratium maritimum, which blooms in the late summer just above the high-tide mark. The Hebrew name for this flower is חבצלת or חבצלת החוף (coastal ḥăḇaṣṣeleṯ). It is commonly assumed by most people in Israel that, the Sharon plainbeing on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, the Biblical passage refers to this flower.

Likely "rose of Sharon" Mediterranean Sea flower (lily)

too Hottt to think

WARNING: A HEAT ADVISORY IS IN EFFECT FOR THIS ENTIRE POST. DEHYDRATION AND RELATED HIGH TEMPERATURE ISSUES HAVE LIKELY COMPROMISED THE QUALITY AND COMPREHENSIBILITY OF THE FOLLOWING MATERIAL.

It’s been over 90º indoors all week. It’s hard to come up with coherent sentences, let alone enough rational thought to put together a decent post. (That’s the caveat, to aid you in lowering your expectations for what I might say in this post. I admit, it may be a total waste of your time.)

Unrelated, but on my mind:
We dropped off my daughter at (overnight) camp. It’s strange to arrive at this stage. Some camps have gotten techno-savvy. With a password, you can view photos from the day taken at camp. This was the cutest one of Ellie and her friends.

Ellie chillin' at camp

What was I talking about originally, heat?
So, did I mention it was incredibly hot? When you read 107º F on the outdoor thermometer, you start feeling grateful for the 92º F it is indoors. At 7:30 a.m. it was a comparably chilly 76º …. I audibly gasped. (However I didn’t run for my jacket, despite my shock. I wanted to feel it-really feel it.)

I tried climbing into the fridge, but several jars fell out. Only one leg would fit in. I’m building up my courage to get in the chest freezer next. It’ll be much cooler, but will feel degrading to be hanging out with the meat. Especially if I end up hearing disco music. I’m thinking I’ll feel dirty and cheap about it all, like a window mannequin in a swim suit. (They feel that way, right?)

Do you think more crime happens when it’s quite hot because people get crazed? Or, maybe less crime because moving while thinking is so much harder? Or maybe, crime happens, but it’s accomplished far more stupidly, for reasons already identified?

I don’t need central air conditioning…. this torment is too character building. (Do I sound like a martyr? I’m trying to be serious.)

I’m praying for rain too. It’s starting to look like desert around here, not just feel like it.

Around these parts, the elderly order (hot) soup when the extreme heat comes. Is it senility, or are they older and wiser about diet and body temperature?

Any comments, thoughts? Without air conditioning…how you do beat the heat?

Lasagna Fire, Camping, and Church

Well, it’s the weekend that kicks of the summer season! We remember our brave veterans. Many of us have picnic, set off fireworks, eat hamburgers and hotdogs, or take a trip.

We’re going camping!

We’ll be making the famous Lasagna fire–famed to last 4 hours without tending. My brother and his family will be joining us, and I’ll be speaking at the church service on Sunday. It all happens at Camp Swatara. Saturday is a kids festival, and they have a bunch of things planned. I hope you’ll come out if you can.