It’s A Promise

Promises, promises . . . oh how many times have we heard these words. Our human frailty to command even the next moment makes any promise questionable, regardless of the intent of our heart at that moment.

It’s not difficult to become discouraged because, by God’s Design, we’re to live in a secure place. Creation is destined for the fulness of God’s place of blessing and glory. While this Design was thwarted by deception and turning away from God, God hasn’t relented from his Design! Praised be the Lord!

There is a good lesson regarding promises in the life of Abram (later called Abraham). God made him a promise and he turned from everything he counted as a foundation (he lived in Ur of the Chaldees, a great metropolitan city). He followed God’s Word to him, living in a land filled with opposition and enemies.

God came to Abram in a vision (Gen 15.1ff) and confirmed to him that he need not fear for God would be his shield and reward. Abram had to be thinking “Promise” which was a “land,” a “seed” (i.e., descendants, a kingdom, and a king!), and a “blessing” which would be far greater than just for Abram! WoW!

And now the great theological term, “But”! God’s Promise hasn’t happened for some time. Legitimately so, Abram has some questions. Abram is childless! Sarai (later Sarah) is unable to bear children. It’s not looking good, at least from this place where Abram stands.

God affirms his Promise, even more detail than ever before. Abram will be a father of multitudes, and God says, “look at the stars and count them”!

Genesis now records one of the most important statements for Abram, for the Promise, and for us too. Genesis 15.6,

Then he believed in the LORD; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.

Now comes even more surprises as God expands this Promise. In days to come, Abram’s dependents will strangers is a foreign land, enslaved! And, God promises Abram’s descendants will return to God’s Promised Land. We might consider this information overload!

While we’ve just skimmed this powerful account in Genesis 15, there are some observations we can make from what Abram learned and we need to also learn.

Observation #1 — God’s Promise is greater than my perspective. I.e., God is doing more than I can grasp, yet he never does less than I can grasp. His Promise is sure. His ways are majestic. The world is in his control.

The Apostle Peter knows this truth, 2Pet 3.4, 9,

. . . “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.” . . . The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.

Observation #2 — God’s Promise is met in faith. There is no other way to grasp it. We trust God to do what God Promises to do.

Faith is to agree, trust, rely with what God is doing. Now we can begin to see how “faith” is very close to “righteous” for it is in agreement with God. Abram believed in the Lord. “Faith” is the present assurance of things unseen, Heb 11.1. We live by faith because God “promised”!

Abram never came into all God promised. Was he disappointed? I don’t think so. He knew, as we’ve noted, God’s Promise is greater than our perspective and we grasp it in faith. Abram’s perspective is well stated by the writer of Hebrews in Heb 11.8-10,

By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise; for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.

We too presently live in a land that’s “alien” to God’s Design. God’s Promise is far greater than today’s perspective. And, like Abram, God’s Promise is greater than I’ve ever imagined.

We have an invitation to God’s Promise because God is gracious, “by grace you are saved” (Eph 2.8). We enter into God’s Promise by our faith (Eph 2.8). And, like Abram, we believe in the Lord!

God’s Promise brings a New Life, a life in agreement with God’s truth, i.e., “righteous.” Here, in our New Life, we trust God’s Promise and walk with him, and there is a coming Kingdom, more than our perspective has ever grasped!

Promises, promises! This is one you want to grasp in your faith in God’s Word declared to you.

The Power of Patterns

Every seamstress, every contractor, every decorator can profit from a “pattern.” Patterns guide and get us to the place we want to be, be it the dress, the baby blanket, the building, or the beautiful room. Patterns are powerful and we can use them.

One of the dangers of chapters and verses in our Bible is we tend to read a verse or maybe two. If we compared this to the pattern, it makes this stitch, drives this nail, moves this chair over there . . . nice parts, but we’re still way off from what the pattern brings!

When we read the Word of God broadly, seeing the flow, there are powerful patterns. Here’s one to catch our eyes . . .

Let’s start with the building of the ark, Gen 6.13ff. We often get all caught up on the how long, how wide, details for certain, but . . . is there any pattern here?

The Pentateuch, Genesis to Deuteronomy, brings a powerful lesson when we read it broadly. There are three major construction projects, each significant it themselves, yet the combined “pattern” is what we want to see and learn.

Project one is Creation itself. God speaks, action unfolds, the instruction is carried out. This same flow also unfolds in the building of an ark, and the building of the tabernacle. Key is that each “project” concludes with God’s blessing, Gen 1.28; 9.1; Ex 39.43. It’s worth also noting that the second and third “project” end with a covenant with God!

So, what’s the “pattern” we learn from these three “projects” in God’s Word? It can’t be better stated that God himself says, Deut 30.2-3,

When you and your children return to the LORD your God and obey Him with all your heart and soul (i.e., your thoughts and lives) according to all that I command you today, then the LORD your God will restore you from captivity, and have compassion on you, and will gather you again from all the peoples where the LORD your God has scattered you.

God hasn’t written to us just about “projects,” even great projects. He has written to us to build “patterns” for our lives so we find all his blessing!

Set God’s “pattern” for your life today! The writer of Proverbs put it this way, Prov 3:5–8,

Trust in the LORD with all your heart (Entirely!) And do not lean on your own understanding. (Extensively!)
In all your ways acknowledge Him (Extensively!), And He will make your paths straight.
Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and turn away from evil.
It will be healing to your body And refreshment to your bones.

God’s “pattern” begins when you place your faith in Jesus. Read John 3.16 for it’s as clear of a word from God as you’ll ever get. With your faith in Jesus, the Apostle Paul writes about this “pattern,” Colossians 3:1–4,

Therefore if you have been raised up with the Messiah, keep seeking the things above, where the Messiah is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with the Messiah in God. When the Messiah, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.

God and his Word are all about building his life, his life of blessing, in and through us as we bring glory to him! Set your “pattern” for your life today!

Proximity > < Presence

One of the “things” about wildlife photography is getting close enough to your subject. It’s often said for bird photographers, “You’re never too close and you never have too much glass”! I’d agree. Proximity is most important.

This “proximity and presence” thing came close to my heart as a dear friend was hospitalized in another town. My proximity was battling with my (lack of) presence! Not only were they hospitalized, and as much of this season our lives, visitation was restricted. As I fussed with this in my head, I was reminded of a great truth among the Lord’s people.

Because we’re bonded in the Holy Spirit through our faith in Jesus, as the Apostle Paul writes, we “do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” (Rom 8.4) As children of our Great God, we are one in the Spirit! Paul reminded the believers in Rome how they stood together in the Spirit . . .

Romans 15:30,
Now I urge you, brethren, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God for me,

When problems arose in the church in Corinth, Paul knew that proximity and presence were transcended because of the Spirit!

1 Corinthians 5:4,
In the name of our Lord Jesus, when you are assembled, and I with you in spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus,

All this to say, while my dear friend was hospitalized, Praised be the Lord, for we stand together in the Spirit, trusting God for what he will provide. What a blessing because of faith in the Lord Jesus that we are able to share in common (that’s the term “fellowship”) our Lord and his care. We can be most thankful that the transcendence of the Spirit of God is greater than any physical limit we face!

Again quoting the Apostle Paul,

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all.
2 Corinthians 13:14

While proximity and presence are so connected in our lives and ways of thinking, know that through faith in the Lord Jesus we share a bond that is greater than anything surrounding us, confronting us, or containing us. It’s the bond that because of the grace of God, through faith in Jesus . . .

Ephesians 4:4,
There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling;

If you’re reading and do not have this hope, this peace, this fellowship in this new life in Jesus, you can do so right now by placing your faith in Jesus. Paul wrote the church in Ephesus,

Ephesians 1:13,
In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the good news of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise,

Bending, But Not Breaking!

A recent blast of really cold air, complete with a snow, brought home to me a great principle . . . learning to “Bend” and not “Break”!
As I was photographing some Short-eared Owls, some nearby grasses caught my eye. With the cold wind humming and snow beginning to cling, these grasses were bending, but not breaking, and I thought, what a great lesson for my life.

Circumstances are often not exactly what we’d prefer yet holding to your roots and giving some with the circumstances allows us to stand firm, even in that storm.

I was reminded of a young man named Daniel. His country was overrun by a savage enemy and he ended up being taken captive and hauled off to a very different set of circumstances. Yet, Daniel held to his roots, which for Daniel was his faith in the Great God of our Bible.

If you need a good read, check out “Daniel” in your Bible and pay particular attention to this young man who “bends, but doesn’t break”! He is one of my inspirations in the Word of God. I can guess he might become one of your inspirations too.

Back to this chase to photograph some Short-eared Owls, well, they too were bending with the storm but not breaking as they kept to their roots of hunting and then finding a buffer from this wintery blast.

Let me encourage you to be firm in those roots which will sustain you in the storms which come. It’s the truth of the God’s Word which grounds our lives. Here’s the place to start . . . John 3.16,

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

Here’s some of God’s Truth to take hold of when the storms do blow . . . 1Cor 10.13,

No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.

2Cor 4.16-18,

Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

Just A Little Rest

Short-eared Owl

Short-eared Owl

The Hunt – Short-eared Owl

 

Photography For A Feeling

The Early Rays

There are probably as many reasons to take a photograph as there are photographers. Of the reasons, not the least of which is to capture a moment for memory. Sometimes when you want to do some rummaging in older photographs, whether someone else’s or yours, note that many of the great photographs are literally “snaps” in time!

Catching that “moment, or smile, or tilt of the head, or “look” says it all for the scene. This is especially true with photographs of people. All this to say, don’t ever pass capturing that special “snap” of life.

Yet, where I’ve come in photography is different than the “snap” or “record,” i.e., I was there and this is what I saw. While totally legit, photography for my pursuit has become, “I’m photographing for a feeling, not simply to record an event.”

If you’ve never tried this, give it a shot. Ask yourself, what grabs you as you look at a scene or an animal, or even a person? What stirs something inside?

This “stirring” may be why some of the most popular images are sunrises and sunsets! In one way, they’re so cliche! Yet, in another way, they capture our attention, our mood, and have lots of feeling.

While the temperatures are in the nosedive where I live, there’s some warmth when you’re watching the changing colors of an approaching sunrise. So, enjoy the “feeling” as you photograph and tell your story with the emotion that captured you!

Here are some Sandhill Cranes just getting in as the sun was fading away . . . but, what a “feeling”! Home at last!

Home At Last

 

The Missing Year!

Gate to a New Tomorrow

So what happened that a year has passed? One of the most glaring things in this “void” is a global pandemic that massively altered all our lives! To this we can all add “our stories” of life in the void. My family has confronted health issues, relocation issues, and some new directions for life issues. What a year!

Not only have photography trips fallen away, friends and family have been distanced, activities curtailed, and the list just goes on and on. There were weeks our church didn’t come together, something I’d have never expected, but . . .

This is not to say there have not been opportunities nor lessons in this “void.” The opportunity to enjoy some limited relationships with a few friends have been invaluable. Opportunities came to come alongside others who are struggling with jobs that seemingly disappeared. And many learned that you can see faces, keep up with loved ones, even do some teaching through online video.

Some lessons have certainly come from this time. One is to do a better job of staying in touch with people! Isolation is not a good direction! Along this line, I’ve begun a Monday morning ZOOM time with a couple of longtime friends where we catch up, encourage one another, and pray together for those things going on in our lives. In fact, this has been so positive I’ve added another Monday evening ZOOM time with another friend, again, premium for both of us.

Another opportunity of the “void” is to learn some new skills and do some more reading. Both of these have proved very helpful, not only for filling the void, but for preventing stagnation!

This time has also provided a stimulus to give some serious consideration to what’s really, meaning “really,” important in life. This has taken me to spend some great time reading and thinking about God’s Word. Recently I’ve been reading and rereading Psalm 121.1-2. (This post and following ones from Ps 121 can be found @ https://www.facebook.com/Research-Center-377234732358058Research Center — Help That’s More Than A Hand — Our Helper is the LORD-Maker — Ps 121.1-2)

I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; From where shall my help come?
My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth.

What a great encouragement looking at the “mountains” ahead! I’d encourage you to spend some time growing in your relationship with the Lord. And, if you’ve not begun this spiritual journey, John 3.16 gives us the doorway to begin in the love of God and a new life . . .

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”

And, this time has not prevented photography although where you go has probably been changed. Local photography has far more to offer than most have imagined. This attention to local opportunities for capturing images has become my new focus and will be the direction ahead, and hopefully, slipping in a few outings along the way.

So, with all this said, Lord willing, fresh images and insights will again be flowing on the Dasya’s Photography website . . .

The Flight Has Begun – New Things Ahead!