Can You Imagine?

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Thursday, May 24, 1:18 p.m., Jasper National Park, Alberta Canada.

And the thought that came to mind was, “Heavenly!”

These two read chairs, sitting next to the lake just behind the Fairmont Lodge, were so inviting.  In the cool mountain air, with just a hint of breeze, I was thinking how nice it would be to just sit and talk.

This led me to folks who’ve gone on before me to heaven, and how one day maybe I’ll get to sit beside them in some idyllic setting such as this, and just catch up.  I’d like to sit with my mother again like this and just talk like I did when I came home from college.

Then, I thought of my dad, struggling with the mysterious illness we call Alzheimer’s disease.  I don’t remember many times when my dad and I just sat and talked.  We played golf, we played card games at family times like Christmas or Thanksgiving.  But there weren’t that many times when we would just sit and talk.  Now, I wish he could remember me, and we could just sit and talk.

Inevitably, these thoughts today brought me to the idea of one day just sitting and talking with Jesus.  How marvelous that will be!  But wait…

I know it seems like prayer is a more formal exercise often only emphasized in church worship or at Bible studies, but doesn’t the Bible actually teach us that prayer is simply having a conversation with God?  In fact on this day we celebrate as Father’s Day, what could please him more than if we simply pulled up two chairs together (wherever you are today), and just took the time to have a conversation with the Creator of the universe, our Heavenly Father?  The Apostle Peter said it this way… 1 Peter 5:6-7

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.  Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

No More Thirst

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Here I stood, listening to the roar of the mighty Athabasca Falls, taking in the stunning view of sunlight as it lit up the mist, while my heart inside my head repeated over and over and over, “My God, How Great Thou Art!”

The stone monument nearby read:

Since the last in a dynasty of glaciers retreated 10,000 years ago, The Athabasca River has battled a trembling earth.  Abandoned channels, potholes and deep canyons in some of the hardest rock in Jasper National Park mark the ancient battle lines.  Today, the battle continues upstream at the 25-metre falls.  This trail offers a 20-minute visit to one battleground in a land of many.  It is a dangerous please so please stay behind the guard rails.

This image taken May 25th, at 10:15 a.m., captures the spirit of this monument completely.  The power of the water running over these giant stones was intense.  It was easy to believe the story of the river in battle with a trembling earth.

It also brought instantly to my mind the eternal battle being waged around the world for the hearts and minds of those far from God.  In one crystal clear image I was drawn to the words of Jesus as He sat teaching during the Feast of Booths (see John 7).  What stunned those great teachers in the temple was His ability to speak so clearly, communicate so effectively, with authority and influence, because Jesus had received no formal training like they had.

Think of the stubbornness born out of rote ritual and legalistic thinking as the stones of the mountain, and the words of Jesus spoken in love as the river water doing battle against the walls of human thinking.  These water falls, to my mind, are these words of Jesus to the Pharisees that day, and yes to all the world, to every person alive today:

John 7:37-38
Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’”

Today as you read these words, as you view this image, trust in Jesus to quench the thirst in your heart for meaning, purpose, and life.  Only Jesus has the power to give eternal life.

 

 

One Way

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On Sunday, May 27th, at 8:34 a.m., I was remembering all that we read about the discovery of Lake Louise by the first settlers, and the small hamlet named for this nearby lake.  It was named after Princess Louise Caroline Alberta, the fourth daughter of Queen Victoria… yes “that” Queen Victoria.

This view is pretty much due west from our room, and overnight most of the ice that covered over half the lake had melted.  There was almost no breeze at all and the lake took on a perfect mirror reflection of the mountains and sky above.

While standing in awe of the view, I wondered about the pioneers who might have witnessed this view decades ago, and if they needed direction, it was easy enough to see.  Right in the middle of the photo, where the lake meets the closest mountain on the left, the snowy mirror reflection made a perfect arrow pointing west.

Here’s a closer view.

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As I reflected on these images this morning, I was reminded that God does these kinds of things on purpose.  When the way to turn is obscured by difficult circumstances, when life seems pointless or dreary, God can reveal a path to wellness, wholeness, and healing… if we just know where to look, and follow the path revealed.  That’s why Jesus came.  It is … who He is.

John 14:6, Jesus said…
“I am the way, the truth, and the life, and no one comes to the Father except through Me.”

Follow the signs, follow the arrows, and turn your eyes upon Jesus today.

Faith

People talk about faith a lot.  Especially people of faith.  True Christ-followers understand the concept of faith better than anyone else, yet find it difficult at times to exercise that faith in certain situations.  James said it would happen [James 1:2-3].

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.

Recently I had the chance to exercise my faith in a real life experience, and I gained some valuable insight into the concept of faith.  Here is a little history of the Capilano Suspension Bridge, in North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada:

In 1888, George Grant Mackay, a Scottish civil engineer and land developer, arrived in the young city of Vancouver in Canada. Mackay purchased 6,000 acres of dense forest on either side of Capilano River and built a cabin on the very edge of the canyon wall. In 1889 he suspended a footbridge made of hemp rope and cedar planks across the canyon with the help of August Jack Khahtsahlano and a team of horses who swam the ropes across the river. The ropes were then pulled up the other side and anchored to huge buried cedar logs.

for more information click here.

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This 153 yard bridge took me to the other side of the river, where we walked on other bridges up into the tops of the trees and looked down at the river flowing below.   I’m not a big fan of suspension bridges, holding at any given point more than one hundred people going back and forth.  The only bad thing about going all the way over to the other side… you have to cross the bridge again to come back.

Placing my faith in the cabling, wood, and design of this bridge was very challenging for me.

I suspect that for people far from God, who always want to believe they can handle everything on their own, they might have some difficulty believing Jesus really is the only BRIDGE worth taking.  They probably doubt His ability to be the Savior He claims to be.  They dispute His authority and claim to be the ONLY means (way, truth, life) of right relationship with God.

Nevertheless, it is true.

What it takes to act on this truth… is to take a step of faith into Jesus.

Hebrews helps us here [11:1]:

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

If I wanted to see the river from the tops of the trees… there was only one way to get there… stepping out in faith.

If you want to know the joy of eternal life with the Creator of the Universe, there is only one way to get there… taking that step of faith into Jesus.

Juxtapose

Now this is a great word.

My wife and I recently had the opportunity to do a bucket-list vacation.  We flew to Seattle to catch a train called The Rocky Mountaineer which took us north and east across the Canadian Rocky Mountains to Vancouver, Kamloops, Jasper National Park, Banff, Lake Louise, and finally ending our trip in Calgary.  Then after 10 days of exploring places we’d never seen, and likely never see again, we flew back home to Texas.

We saw lots of wildlife, including bears, elk, eagles, ospreys, big horn sheep, and rowdy Australians.  We made many new friends from all over the world, and enjoyed the scenery of God’s creative genius as we listened to story after story of how that part of the world was discovered and conquered by men and women pioneering previously uncharted territory.

One of my favorite experiences on the trip was seeing Mt. Robson, the most prominent mountain in North America’s Rocky Mountain range, and the highest point in the Canadian Rockies, at 12,972 feet.  When traveling through this area, this peak is only visible a few days of the year.  As you can see, we were one of the lucky and privileged to have this great view from our train.

Mount Robson

Juxtaposed within minutes of passing this spectacular view on the left of the train, was this incredible water falls image on the right, demonstrating where all that snow and ice end up.

Water Falls from the Train 1

What is amazing to me is not that I was able to capture these images from a moving train, but that I was given the great privilege of seeing both.  All along the way on this trip, I was constantly reminded of how small I am, and how large God’s creation is.  And it caused me to whisper, almost constantly…

For You are the LORD Most High over all the earth;
You are exalted far above all Gods.

~Psalm 97:9

 

Juxtapose