Some Clearer Vision!

Some Clearer Vision . . . or . . .Your View Depends On The Glasses You’re Looking Through

Recently I went through one of those procedures that often comes with aging eyes, cataract surgery. I’ve worn glasses for a number of years and each eye exam, with the glasses correction, came out pretty good, often 20/20. What’s to complain about?

Well, some years and a particularly active cataract on my left eye (the right eye only had a “little” activity!) finally called for the surgery. In an amazing 10 minute surgery, I went from what I thought was “some dullness” to brilliant clarity! Amazing! (They gave me a video of it all if you want to borrow it!)

Suddenly, the eye with surgery was amazing, I did say that again, and other eye I thought was pretty acute was left in the dust! Glasses didn’t cut it anymore, it was a mess (the short version of the story).

My “view” is off! Punk! Yet, it brought to my attention a potent truth — “your view depends on the glasses or eyes you’re looking through”! My glasses / eyes were distorting things!

This insight really transfers to how we see life, the things of the past, the things of the present, and the things ahead of us. I think this need for some clear vision is touched upon by the Word of God in many places for our Lord knows we can easily have a “view” that’s off, even distorted, from what he is doing.

Are there some “past acts” that are coloring your view of life? Are there some “present realities” that are coloring your view of life? Are there some “things ahead” that are coloring your view of life? If you’re like me, there are things in all these areas of my life! Some “clearer vision” would be great!

Recently I was preparing some thoughts about the Lord’s Supper, or Communion, or the Eucharist, or the Lord’s Table, or the Breaking of Bread . . . several names but all drawing us, I’d suggest, toward seeing life through some clear glasses.

Three things happen as we come to this time of Communion.

First Thing, this is a time to look to a past act, we are reminded of the Amazing Grace of God who gave Jesus as the all-sufficient sacrifice for all sin for all time. We remember the Cross of Jesus.

but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, SAT DOWN AT THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD, waiting from that time onward UNTIL HIS ENEMIES BE MADE A FOOTSTOOL FOR HIS FEET. For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified. And the Holy Spirit also testifies to us; for after saying, “THIS IS THE COVENANT THAT I WILL MAKE WITH THEM AFTER THOSE DAYS, SAYS THE LORD: I WILL PUT MY LAWS UPON THEIR HEART, AND ON THEIR MIND I WILL WRITE THEM,” He then says, “AND THEIR SINS AND THEIR LAWLESS DEEDS I WILL REMEMBER NO MORE.” Now where there is forgiveness of these things, there is no longer any offering for sin. Heb 10:12–18

We remember Jesus died for All sin, yours and mine! The Apostle Paul writes,

For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is My body, which is for you; . . . ” 1 Co 11:23–24

The First Thing we remember which clears our vision, removes the distortion of what’s really important in life, is Jesus died for sinners, and we say, “Thank you for grace”!

Second Thing, this is a time of present reality, not simply a history lesson. That past act is present here today as we remember Jesus’ death on the Cross opens for us who believe his New Life and eternal fellowship with God! We live today through faith in Jesus, as the Apostle John writes, Jn 1:12–13,

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

We remember that when our faith is in Jesus our present reality is living God’s New Life as his child, even when the “view” may seem clouded or dulled or even darkened!

As we heard from the Apostle Paul, we read again, 1 Co 11:23–24,

For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”

The Second Thing we remember is that because Jesus died for our sin we live today in fellowship with God, as his beloved children!

There is a Third Thing, this is a time of looking ahead from our foundation of forgiveness through faith in Jesus —

We, by grace, through faith in Jesus, not only remember Jesus’ death for all our sin in the past, we also remember we live today as God’s own children, — and the Third Thing is we live in a New Covenant, looking for, living for, longing for the Imminent return of Jesus, the Lord of lords, and King of kings!

The Apostle Paul writes, 1 Co 11:25–26,

In the same way { i.e., after giving thanks } He took the cup also after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.

We are reminded that we’re forgiven through faith in Jesus and every day is living and looking for the glorious coming of Jesus and his New Life in its fullness, where the Apostle John says,

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.” Then He said to me, “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost. “He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son.” Re 21:1–7

The Third Thing we remember is that Jesus is coming again and he has more for us than we’ve ever imagined, again, even when the current “view” is clouded! We “proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes”!

Three Things:

  1. Jesus died for all our sin! Thank you, Jesus!
  2. Jesus gives us New Life in fellowship with God, with Jesus as our Lord, Advocate, and High Priest! Thank you, Jesus!
  3. Jesus is coming again and our hope is eternal and glorious! Thank you, Jesus!
It’s amazing how much clearer we can now see!

“The Other Side”

Sometimes “the other side” looks so far away, so intimidating, so difficult to cross what lies in your path!

This image of a cow elk and calf looking so intently across the river brought this thought to me. I’m guessing we all identify with those places where “the other side” only produced anxiety and even fear.

Several friends are crossing that river of chemotherapy! It’s daunting for sure! My wife is crossing the “many examinations” to find out why a persistent pain holds on! And example after example are part of our lives.

I find much in the Word of God for such places in life where “the other side” seems overwhelming, where more than once we’ve thought about turning back, or denying what’s ahead, or even running away. Let me point you to some of God’s Word which has lessened the anxiety and set a perspective toward “the other side.”

To start with, these words in Philippians 4.6-7 are strength beyond measure facing what is intimidating.

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in the Messiah Jesus.”

Knowing that somewhere in this “crossing” we’re going to be standing in the midst of this river, the truth of these words in 1 Corinthians 10.13 certainly guard our crossing!

“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.”

Sometimes we’re tempted to deny, ignore, or even turn back in fear rather than press on to “the other side.” When the Apostle Paul looked back at what was behind him, things he could have turned to as strengths, he wrote this . . . Philippians 3.8-14,

“More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing the Messiah Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain the Messiah, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from Law, but that which is through faith in the Messiah, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.
Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by the Messiah Jesus.

Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in the Messiah Jesus.”

What joy is ours knowing our Lord has more for us than we’ve ever imagined as we walk with him, even when it’s intimidating as we look to “the other side.”

Rooted

While photographing in Monument Valley, located on the Utah and Arizona state line, I came across this lone tree that caught my attention. This valley is known for its red-sand, beautiful buttes, and a very desert-like climate. Here rainfall is in the neighborhood of seven inches per year. Needless to say, a tree is something quite special.

While the buttes seriously caught my attention while exploring this area, it was this little tree that kept catching my eye and filling my thoughts. It’s definitely an illustration of not just being tough with what comes against you, it’s about having a root which will hold you and sustain you is some long dry times.

The Word of God speaks to “roots” in various ways. Interestingly, this “root” is often in the truth of God, i.e., his Word declaring life.
The writer of Proverbs comments, Proverbs 12.3,

A man will not be established by wickedness, But the root of the righteous will not be moved.

The psalmist doesn’t use the word root but the implication is clearly understood for one who lives out God’s life. Psalm 1.1-3,

How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the instruction of the LORD, And in His instruction he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers.

Rooted, probably something worth thinking about for my own life. This lone tree might be a good place to reflect and ask where my life is rooted.

If you find you’re lacking a root in God’s New Life in Jesus, then that root begins by your faith in Jesus. Check out John 3.16, it’s worth a read. Here you can begin to grow, stand firm, and be sustained even if the times become long and dry. Rooted, is this where you are today?

 

Hidden

Yellow-Headed BlackbirdSometimes some of the best things are not the most obvious. A case in point is this Yellow-Headed Blackbird I encountered recently. He reminded me that not all the things you look for are right out in the open. Sometimes, maybe oftentimes, they seem “hidden.

Whether it’s photography or life, it pays to be sensitive to, alert to, open to those opportunities which come our way. One for me was this Blackbird. He was far from obvious in the sea of grass and if I’d been moving too fast he’d have been missed for certain!

It likely sounds like some cliché but the pace of life presses most of us to the point that we can seriously miss some of our best opportunities. Maybe it’s time to slow down and look a little closer, listen a little better, linger a little longer. Your husband or wife, parents or children, friends or neighbors will be richer and far less hidden to you!

D.L. Moody told a little illustration of such opportunity this way —
“A sculptor once showed a visitor his studio. It was full of statues of gods. One was very curious. The face was concealed by being covered with hair, and there were wings on each foot. ‘What is his name?’ said the visitor. ‘Opportunity,’ was the reply. ‘Why is his face hidden?’ ‘Because men seldom know him when he comes to them.’ ‘Why has he wings on his feet?’ ‘Because he is soon gone, and once gone can never be overtaken.’ It becomes us, then, to make the most of the opportunities God has given us.”

[D. L. Moody, Moody’s Stories: Being a Second Volume of Anecdotes, Incidents and Illustrations (New York; Chicago; Toronto; London; Edinburg: Fleming H. Revell, 1899), 79–80.]

This Yellow-Headed Blackbird reminded me afresh of the uniqueness of the people around me, people our Lord has brought into our paths, people often “hidden” unless we slow down, see their uniqueness, and thank the Lord for opening our eyes to what we might have thought was hidden!

The psalmist sees these hidden people this way in Psalm 139.11-18 —
If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, And the light around me will be night,” Even the darkness is not dark to You, And the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to You. For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb.

I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them.

How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand. When I awake, I am still with You.

Let me close by reminding all of us that our lives are not “hidden” from our Lord! He has more for us than we’ve ever imagined. If you’re not aware of this and would like to begin a new way of living, literally a new life, start by placing your faith in this great God who loves you. Scripture says, 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.”

And, for all of us, remember, sometimes some of the best things are not the most obvious. It might be that gracious gift of new life through faith in Jesus you’ve been driving past, and, it might be that person next to you about whom the Lord is opening your eyes to see like never before.

The Rock

There are so many ways to enjoy the outdoors! Just being there is a healing place for my heart, especially when the press of this hyper-active lifestyle of today. One of my working presuppositions is: “Everybody is Frazzled”! It is to the point of cliché to say so, it’s just that true.

Being outdoors brings me back to a time to breathe, think, reflect . . . things not found in the office, the daily schedule, the crowded calendar, the persistent connectedness. This “breathing” time, both physically, and especially spiritually and mentally, netted this photograph below.

This stream was rushing down the hillside, jumping over about everything in its path. “But,” which by the way is one of those key words in life, there was this rock, and there was this growth, and there were even some delicate little flowers beautifully blooming. Where? In the midst of this rushing stream!

Not only did I thoroughly enjoy the outdoors, the stream, and the breathing, I really enjoyed the reflection it brought to my life about that rock.

One of the wonderful truths of the Word of God is that He is our Rock! In the rushing stream of life, our gracious God is a rock upon which we can rest, grow, and flourish! The Word of God describes, Ps 18.2, how “The LORD is my rock” and how our refuge is in Him.

Psalm 19.14 declares this Rock is also our Redeemer. He will lift the one who rests, trusts, builds upon Him and He delivers them from the surrounding rush!

A comment often made is about someone who has hit “rock bottom.” Consider, if the Lord is your Rock that’s not a bad place to be! What a great truth in this rush we call life!

The Rock

The Rock

The Word of God gives some wonderful direction is this rushing stream . . . Proverbs 3:5–8
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding.
6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.
7 Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and turn away from evil.
8 It will be healing to your body And refreshment to your bones.

If today is a time for you to breathe, think, and reflect, consider where you’re standing today. It may well be the day to consider Jesus of whom the Word of God says, 2 Corinthians 5:21,
21 He (God) made Him (Jesus) who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

Jesus is that Rock that holds!

Behind The Camera!

Photographers like to talk about what happens “behind the camera,” meaning photographic skills is preparing for a photograph. That’s well and good, and definitely an area of worthy focus.

But, I’d point to another “Behind the Camera” event that’s equally important. Let me explain . . .

I was recently photographing a nice sunset in the Badlands National Park and had some things going for a good image. There were some showers and mild thunderstorms in the area. These always seem to offer drama in the sky, and, I was ready. I’ve worked to develop a discipline while photographing to turn around and look “Behind the Camera,” like the other direction! It’s easy when you’re focused on a subject to forget there are other things to consider.

When I turned around, this is what greeted me . . .

Viewpoint Ahead

Viewpoint Ahead

Lesson learned!

The next evening I thought I’d work for a sunset as there seemed to be some decent clouds forming in the west, even a small shower here and there. Focused clearly on this developing sunset, my “lesson learned” dawned on me as the few showers were beginning to find my location. Well, when I turned around this evening I was nearly overwhelmed! Admittedly, I was a little late in turning so by the time I moved my tripod and got reset, things were fading some.

Here’s what was “Behind the Camera” on this occasion . . .

Some Days Just End Well

Some Days Just End Well

Not only is it a good lesson to refrain from being so focused on what’s before you that you forget other things in your life, it’s a good lesson for photographers too. Remember what’s “Behind the Camera”!

We all get too wrapped up in the job, the game, the digital device in front of us, we can easily forget other very, possibly more important, things that seem behind what’s consuming us! Things like your husband or wife, your family, your friends easily float to the fore. And, the most important thing to keep refreshed in our thinking, our hearts, our lives, even when before us seems so great, is the Lord Jesus who loves us. He even has some words for us. If Jesus is new to you, read His Word and start with the Gospel of John . . . He has something just for you. Don’t let it get missed because you’re too focused upon what’s before!