Monthly Archives: June 2014

This Beautiful World-And The Next

???????????????????????????????Mary Helen and I often comment about the beauty spread around us. A stunning sunset. The changing array of wildflowers. The soft green of tree leaves whispering in the breeze. The birds that inhabit our world. Each species of bird has a distinct personality and dress. The friendly black-capped chickadees keep us entertained all year as they flit from feeder to forest. The robins scold us whenever we come near their nest.

But this year, more than any, we’ve been blessed by the unusual variety of ???????????????????????????????beautiful birds visiting our bird feeders. By hanging out orange slices, we’ve enticed a pair of the Baltimore orioles to nest nearby. Although very skittish, their stunning orange dress catches our eye whenever they raid the hummingbird feeder. Their chatter echoes from the woods.

The bright blaze of scarlet on the rose-breasted grosbeak and the deep blue of the tiny indigo bunting also arrest our ???????????????????????????????attention. And who does not delight in the brilliant yellow of the goldfinch. Occasionally we catch sight of a red cardinal whistling for its mate or visiting the feeder.

The astounding acrobatics of the hummingbirds entertain us from spring to fall. I’m sure evolutionists can find some reason for the iridescent patch on the male, but I just enjoy the beauty.

We’re not even in the tropics where gorgeous parrots flit through the rain forest ???????????????????????????????and orchids hang from the trees, but even here in a temperate zone, God has touched everything with His artistry. His handiwork is evident in rock crystals, sea creatures, cloud formations, birds, insects and flowers. Such astounding diversity!

If God continues to spread beauty around, in spite of our world being marred by the fall, how much more amazing will be the new heaven and the new earth? A day is coming when this old world will be destroyed. “That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness”(2 Peter 3:13). That which has marred our Blue Jayworld— sin, pollution, war, thoughtless progress— will be purged from the new universe God will create. Beauty will shine forth without being diminished.

According to Scripture, the most beautiful element of all, besides God, is the beauty of holiness. “Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness”(Psalm 29:2). And so, as we look forward to heaven, and ultimately a renewed earth, we can prepare ourselves by donning the qualities of a holy life so that we may worship God acceptably. (See Gal. 5:22,23) Without holiness we are unable to fully recognize the beauty of God reflected in His creation.

Since He is the source of all this beauty, we should not be surprised when we read in the Scriptures that His God-followers long “to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord”(Psalm 27:4). They recognized, as we should, that God Himself must be??????????????????????????????? beautiful beyond measure. Daniel, Ezekiel, and John, among others, caught glimpses of God’s splendor that left them stunned and speechless.

The beauty spread out around us should inspire us to give glory and praise to the Creator, and move us to don the robes of holiness He provides through His Son. We should also look forward to the beauties of heaven.








The Mysterious Power of Growing Things

???????????????????????????????Out for a walk recently, I noticed something startling. The path on which we trod had been recently paved. And there sticking up through the pavement were little plants; plants determined to force their way into the sunlight.

One wonders how soft plant material can possibly thrust itself through tough asphalt, but it does. The innate power of growing things is visible throughout our world. Trees growing out of temples in Cambodia. Oat grass reclaiming dunes in the Carolinas. Tree roots lifting concrete paving slabs in our cities. Living things in the natural world exhibit an incredible vigor.

Much more potent is the spiritual power of God as manifest in the transformation of sinners into followers of Jesus Christ. When I was converted by God as a 19 year old, my life began to change overnight. Swear words dropped??????????????????????????????? from my vocabulary. A concern for others began to slowly break up the hardness of my pervasive selfishness. Hope and faith began to chase away the clouds of gloom and discouragement that periodically engulfed me. As Jesus taught me his standards of right and wrong, I felt a compulsion to confess my stealing to a store manager where I’d pilfered some items. To this day, God continues to woo me to embrace change. Sometimes he has to shake me out of complacency.

The life-principle imparted by God transforms. “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come”(2 Cor. 5:17)! That life comes through Christ. “In him was life, and that life was the light of men”(John 1:34). Christ explains; “I am the way, the truth and the life”(John 14:6). The new life he imparts to a repentant sinner is potent with potential! “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full [abundantly]”(John 10:10). Nothing can resist the implanted power of new life in Christ. Drug addiction? No. Lust? No. The desire to control others, to abuse them, to steal from them? No. Fear of death? No.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThroughout history and all over the world today the power of new life in Christ continues to transform people. Licentious Augustine became a godly bishop and gifted theologian. God moved C.S. Lewis from agnosticism to faith. And in our day, Muslim jihadis become loving disciples. Drug addicts break free from their habit. Hypocrites become sensitive and humble. Tribal men and women in Ethiopia joyfully cast off their fear of death and witch doctors. A cutthroat money trader becomes honest and generous in giving. A single mother bound in poverty and despair rises up with new faith in God’s ability to provide.

Living things reflect the Creator’s power to initiate change in humans. The change begins when we embrace the gospel and ends when we pass into heaven. Meanwhile, are you and I resisting or rejoicing in the flow of life eternal in us and through us? Are we open to positive change or resistant to the alteration of our lives, as the Spirit works to conform us to the image of Jesus Christ?

[For descriptions of books such as Through A Country Window, and Eric’s newest suspense novel,Riptide, please see]