Apr 20, 2011

all of nature declares . . .

It appears that spring has finally sprung in Seattle ... and I, for one, couldn't be more happy! For me, spring symbolizes fresh beginnings and new hope, especially after a long, dreary winter (both literally and also spiritually). I don't know of a sweeter sound than that of the glorious music of nature's symphony. Birds chirping joyfully atop blossomed branches. Rushing rivers dancing against rocks. There is just so much peace and joy in these sounds!


I spent almost an hour walking along a beautiful trail in Covington/Kent area, which is filled with rustic barns and green pastures -- my kinda place! I wondered as I wandered about the beauty of the Creator's masterpiece and verses filled my mind as I passed blooming flowers, quiet ponds, lusch grass fields, melodious sonnets of birds high in the green trees, and lazy horses basking in the sunlight. All declaring glory to the Creator by fulfilling their individual purpose.


So I thought I would share some of the lessons that I have learned about the Artist  from His masterpeice:

The Creator provides for His beloved creation.
In the book of Matthew, the flowers of the fields are regarded as being adorned more majestically than all of King Solomon's splendor. Remember Solomon? Visitors to his glorious palace could not even remark on half of all the beauty within his kindgdom. Yet, the best-dressed characters in his kingdom had to be the brilliantly colored flowers in the fields, untouched my man, but cared for by the ultimate Gardener.  Robert J. Morgan in My All in All brilliantly shares the contrast:

"The richness of [the flower's] crimson petals outshone anything in Solomon's closet. It's velvety feel smoother than Solomon's silk, and the splash of gold in its center was purer than his crown. The intricate design of the flower surpassed the abilities of the royal tailors
... the lily's fragrance sweeter than Solomon's perfume.

The same God who dresses the flowers and feeds the birds knows our needs too. He knows when we're money-short and bone-tired. He knows when we need food and rainment ...

The billions of flowers blooming around the globe are preachers with a single message: "Don't worry! God cares for our needs."

Creation may wither away, but the Creator will never fade away or fail us.

"The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the word of our God stands forever."
{Isaiah 40:8}
Those glorious flowers I just talked about? Yes, in the dead of a dry autumn, they eventually wither away. That does not mean that the Creator was unfaithful. It means that creation was not made to last forever. But one thing will remain: the Truth of God's Word; His love demonstrated on a wooden cross that would forever remind us that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. And when we accept this Truth, we will not wither or fade because of His life in us.

Creation glorifies and worships the Creator by fulfilling its individual purpose He's assigned to it.
Rick Warren wrote in A Purpose Driven Life: "The way a person can bring glory to God is to fulfill his God-ordained purpose on earth, just as nature does the same by fulfilling its purpose." Pastor Warren went on in his book to unfold five purposes that God has for us:
       1. Worshipping God
       2. Loving Believers
       3. Becoming Christ-like
       4. Serving others with your God-given gifts
       5. Sharing Christ with others


We often categorize worship as singing songs to God, but this is just a small portion of the meaning of worship. Fulfilling His purposes for your life is a means of worship; joyfully and humbly answering His call upon your life is a lifesong that is sweeter than any musical note can produce. The heart of worship is Christ.


Look at nature. The reason we find so much beauty in it is because it is all proclaiming God's goodness.




The flowers of the field adorned in beauty
teach us not to worry

The rushing waterfalls going lower and lower
teach us humility and surrender.

The birds of the air
teach us that there is always a reason to sing.

The brilliant hues of a rainbow
remind us of God's faithfulness to His promises.

The yellow daffodils
bring hope after winter that spring will surely follow.


I'll leave you with these beautiful words regarding the Divine Hand upon nature:
    God writes the gospel not in the Bible alone,
    but on trees and flowers and clouds and stars.
    {Martin Luther}

    To sit in the shade on a fine day and look upon verdure
    is the most perfect refreshment.
      {Jane Austen}

    To me a lush carpet of pine needles or spongy grass is more welcome
    than the most luxurious Persian rug. 
    {Helen Keller}

    How many stanzas in the springtime breeze?
    How plenty the raindrops? As He doth please.
    There is no meter and there is no rhyme,
    Yet God's poems always read in perfect time.
    {Astrid Alauda, "Poems on Nature"}


    As in the early morning
    The snowy mountain peaks
    look up to greet the dawning
    So my heart longs and seeks
    To see Thy face
    And glow with grace
    {"Mountain of Spices" by Hannah Hurnard}


    FYI: Here are some of my favorite books that use aspects of nature as metaphors for lessons about God. I love these books and have learned so much from them!


    • Hinds' Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard
    • Mountain of Spices by Hannah Hurnard
    • The Basket of Flowers by Christoph von Shmid
    • A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 by Phillip Keller

    [The beautiful trail I visited today, Soos Creek Trail]

    Apr 12, 2011

    chains be broken

    This is a short poem I wrote last autumn when I was remembering the wonderful work my Savior has done in me these last few years. Reading it again, almost half an year later, the words have begotten a fresh meaning due to my recent storm. May it encourage and remind others of the freedom that comes when we are set free from the chains that once bound us.
    Chains of despair and depression.
    Chains of fear and worry.
    Chains of hopelessness and faith-lessness ...
    All broken by the power of Christ.
    All no longer hold power over those who have set their eyes on the One who sets the captives free.
    All so we can be .... standing free

    Once held captive
    Now stand free
    His saving power
    Is all I see

      No longer bound
            No longer blind
                  No longer lost


    Precious to my Savior
    He cares so much for me
    That He freed me from my prison

    Free of shackles I will always be

      No longer bound
            No longer blind
                  No longer lost
    {E.A.P 10/31/2010}

     10 Those who sat in darkness and in the shadow of death,
             Bound in affliction and irons—
     11 Because they rebelled against the words of God,
             And despised the counsel of the Most High,
     12 Therefore He brought down their heart with labor;
             They fell down, and there was none to help.
     13 Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble,
             And He saved them out of their distresses.
     14 He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death,
             And
    broke their chains in pieces.
    15 Oh, that men would
    give thanks
    to the LORD for His goodness,
             And for His wonderful works to the children of men!
     16
    For He has broken the gates of bronze,
             And cut the bars of iron in two.
        
    [Psalms 107: 10-16]
       


     "The cross we carry is never so heavy as the chains from which we were freed."
    {J.A. Lacy}

    My chains are gone
    I've been set free
    My God, my Savior has ransomed me
    And like a flood His mercy reigns
    Unending love,
    Amazing grace

    {Chris Tomlin, "Amazing Grace"}

    Apr 6, 2011

    a few things that make me smile

    i am always so excited to relax with a cup of tea and read set-apart girl online mag. SO many wonderful and encouraging articles from godly young women!

    such pretty, ladylike dresses from modcloth. can't leave out this one and this one too :)

    one more month until i see this view in waikiki!

    the 4min g.o.s.p.e.l.  is a must-watch!

    another amazing video. "i will wait for you" poem

    paper art... like you've never seen it before.

    online mad-gab... most fun when played with others in fake accents :)

    bringing together classic literature and embroidery. genius!

    dreaming of summer picnics

    cami makes everything beautiful.



    Teach me, my God and King,
    In all things Thee to see,
    And what I do in anything
    To do it as for Thee.
    [George Herbert]

    a radiant face

    Exodus 34 speaks of a man whose face literally radiated warmth and light because "he had spoken to the LORD" [v29]. His encounter with his God led to a visible change in his appearance.


    I don't think it is by accident that the Word explains that Moses did not eat or drink anything for forty days while on the Mount with God. Any man, would be guant, anemic, and sickly after a mere week fasting. Yet after forty days, Moses had a "radiant" face when he came down from the high places. His unbroken gaze upon the beauty of his God led to a glow that others noticed. The NLT version actually notes that the Israelites were "afraid to come near him" [v30]. In all honesty, if I saw my leader come down the mountain looking like a glow worm, I think I'd be a little scared too!


    I've read this passage before, yet this time it felt like the passage had so much more meaning tied to it. In the midst of meditating upon these words, I asked myself some tough questions:
    • Do I hold an unbroken gaze upon my Lord, so much so that I radiate His love?
    • Can others around me notice that I glow because I trust in Christ?
    • Does my manner of speech, my compassion for the weak and poor, my forgiveness, my attitude, my regard and respect for others shine in a dark world?
    The book of Matthew drives this message home: What use is there more a light if it is but hidden under a basket? What use for a light but to shine and "give light to the whole house". We are to shine. We are to give light to our homes, schools, workplaces.


    But one word of caution for myself and maybe for others. It is not I who makes myself shine. I cannot make myself radiate what I do not possess. It is only through my daily encounter with my Creator that I can reflect His Light.  Just like a skier comes home from the mountain with a reddened face from being in the white snow in high peaks, our faces begin to glow when we go to high places in our walk with God. We come back from it changed, renewed, and shining for and through Him.

    Apr 5, 2011

    He Maketh No Mistake

    "He Maketh No Mistake"
    by A.M. Overton

    My Father's way may twist and turn,
    My heart may throb and ache,
    But in my soul I'm glad to know,
    He maketh no mistake.

    My cherished plans may go astray,
    My hopes may fade away,
    But I'll trust my Lord to lead
    For He doth know the way.

    Tho' night be dark, and it may seem
    That day will never break,
    I'll pin my faith, my all in Him,
    He maketh no mistake.

    There's so much now I cannot see,
    My eyesight's far too dim;
    But come what may, I'll simply trust
    And leave it all to Him.

    For by and by the mist will lift
    And plain it all He'll make,
    Through all the way, tho' dark to me
    He made not one mistake.

    Dearly Beloved,

    This beautiful excerpt is from the awesome book, Dearly Beloved: Words of Hope and Comfort for These Troubled Times by David Wilkerson:

    DEARLY BELOVED,

    Jesus says, "Be not therefore anxious, saying, what shall we eat? Or what shall we drink? Or how shall we be clothed? For after all these things do the Gentiles seek. Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." (Matthew 6:31-33)

    In other words, we are to move on, casting all our cares on Him. And we are to rest in His faithfulness. Our heavenly Father will see to it that we are supplied with all the essential things of life.

    I wonder if the angels are baffled by all the worry and anxiousness of those who claim to trust in the Lord. To those celestial beings, it must be insulting to God that we worry as if we had no caring Father in heaven. What perplexing questions the angels must ask among themselves:

    "Do they not believe the One who loves them? Did He not tell them He knows about all their needs? Do they not know the Father sends us to take charge of them in times of danger? Do they not believe that He who feeds the birds, the fish, the whole animal kingdom will feed and clothe them? How can they fret and worry when they know God possesses all power, all wealth, and can supply the needs of all creation? How can they accuse Him of neglect, as if He isn't true to His Word?"

    The birds sing, while we complain and speak of fear and anxiety. The lilies of the field stand tall in their glory, while we wilt and bend before the smallest wind of adversity.

    The following poem puts it succinctly:

    The very birds reprove thee with all their happy song;
    the very flowers teach thee that fretting is wrong.
    "Cheer up," the sparrow chirpeth. "Thy Father feedeth me;
    think how much He careth, oh lovely child, for thee."
    "Fear not," the flowers whisper; "since thus He hath arrayed
    the buttercup and daisy. How canst thou be afraid?"
    Then don't you trouble trouble, till trouble troubles you.
    You'll only double trouble, and trouble others too.

    You most definitely have a heavenly Father. Trust in Him!

    Thankfulness

     "You are exalted as head over all . . . Now therefore, our God, we give You  praise."
    {1 Chronicles 29:11,13}

    Christ rules over all and makes all work for good, so we can cast all our cares on Him and be thankful in all things. Thanksgiving is the most therapeutic of our attitudes. It's the best psychology for the soul and the most pleasant of our emotions. It's the opposite of grumbling, complaining, and hand-wringing.

    In his classic book A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life, William Law writes:

    Would you know who is the greatest saint in the world? It is not he who prays most or fasts most; it is not he who gives most alms, or is most eminent for temperance, chastity, or justice; but it is he who is always thankful to God, who wills everything as God willeth, who recieves everything as an instance of God's goodness, and has a heart always ready to praise God for it . . .
    If anyone would tell you the shortest, surest way to all happiness and all perfection, he must tell you to make it a rule to yourself to thank and praise God for everything that happens to you. For it is certain that whatever seeming calamity happens to you, if you thank and praise God for it, you turn it into a blessing. Could you, therefore, work miracles, you could not do more for yourself than by this thankful spirit, for it heals with a word speaking, and turns all that it touches into happiness.

    Excerpt from: My All in All: Daily Assurance of God's Grace by Robert J. Morgan