The Dimming Of Creation, The Dimming Of The Stars

The Dimming Of Creation, The Dimming Of The Stars

We yet have things to learn from wanderings, things to learn in nature and in the calming quiet.

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I chuckled to my friend about a silly little wren the other day. Turns out, they did not even know that a wren was a bird. I wouldn't have known either, only I was blessed to have a mom who knows that sort of thing and to live by some woods. Now we know how to play dozens of different app games... but usually we don't know the birds, don't care.

Stars! The stars have dimmed in our imaginations! We used to be guided by them; they were a part of culture and conversation, a constant source of wonder. Stars were both legends and directions. What used to be an incredible spread of imagination, a living canvas of light, is to most people just little pinpricks in the night sky. People in cities cannot even see dancing constellations. I feel lost when I look up to a starless sky.

Let me tell you, one of my favorite things in this world to do is to flip off all the lights back at my house and to take a walk down the long driveway. The stars are bright and clear in the crisp air of winter, and I can lay down spread-eagled in the grass during the summer. Often, even the Milky Way is visible. And I stare and stare, and draw it all in, and I think of all the people before me who have looked upon them, all the stories they have seen from their perches.

The Bible tells us that God named the stars, every one of the billions. Glorious. He had no need to make this universe of enormity, but He did... just like an incredible gift, a testament to His power and beauty.

What a great quote in C. S. Lewis' "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader":

"In our world," said Eustace, "a star is a huge ball of flaming gas."
Even in your world, my son, that is not what a star is, but only what it is made of."

Can we trade entertainment for imagination? Think of things not only in scientific terms, but with meaning, imbued with God-given meaning, with creativity and color and story.

A thing is not defined by laws and principles and substance alone. Humans are not defined by laws and principles and substance alone. We are much more.

No longer are we people of the land, of loam and crops and seasons passing. No longer providing for ourselves, not feeling the weight of eating crops and animals that we raised ourselves. And never, never silence. Never stillness and solitude in which to think and to worship. In which "to give glory back."

"Be still and know that I am God." [1]

Silence is crucial for worship. When we are noisy, we are often distracted with our own affairs, all about making much of ourselves. But in the silence, we can realize the sickness of self and hearken to what is outside self, to beautiful, soul-calming things, to God and His glory.

Thought and reflection are essential to praise.

It is important to pray in the quiet, to meet God in the secret place.

This is a poem about the healing nature of creation, of God's seen revelation.

The Peace of Wild Things
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free." [2]

Do not rob yourself of the gifts of Creation, know Him and wander into His natural gifts in awe. He exalts himself in all the earth.

You could spend your empty hours of today looking at a screen or scrolling through your phone, or you could meander out into knowledge and adventure, into thick woods and curving deer trails, breathing the fresh, clean air. We lose something when disconnect ourselves from the rolling land, from the earth and its revelation about God.

We yet have things to learn from wanderings, things to learn in nature and in the calming quiet.

These learnings in the fields and the woods can't be measured, can't always be boasted about or slapped onto a resume, but they are gold to the soul.

From the twinkling Orion to rustling grasses to fiery crimson sunrises to the chirp of a chickadee... The miracle of life from a lowing cow to a screaming hawk:

Marvelous.

Thank you, God.

[1] Psalm 46:10

[2] Wendell Berry

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12 Bible Verses For Faith In Hard Times

Remind yourself that God is always with you.
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Lately, I have felt lost at what God wants for my life. Ever since I've come back to UWG everything has been horrible. It seems that I can't catch a break. I'm trying my best to focus on school, work, and extracurricular activities. But it's hard when I'm having issues with my apartment/roommates and knowing my family back home is struggling and needs many prayers. All, I keep thinking is maybe Carrollton isn't where I belong anymore. I've asked God if He can guide me in the right direction. Below, I have found Bible verses that have helped get me through these rough, past couple of weeks.

1. Isaiah 43:2

"When you go through deep waters, I will be with you."

2. Psalm 37:5

"Commit your way to the Lord. Trust in Him, and He will act."

3. Romans 8:18

"The pain that you've been feeling, can't compare to the joy that's coming."

4. Proverbs 31:25

"She is clothed in strength, and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future."

5. Joshua 1:9

"Be bold. Be brave. Be courageous."

6. Ecclesiastes 3:1

"There is a time for everything and a reason for every activity under the heavens."

7. Isaiah 41:10

"Don't be afraid, for I am with you. Don't be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand."

8. Isaiah 66:9

"I will not cause pain without allowing something new to be born, says the Lord."

9. Psalm 91:4

"He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings, you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart."

10. Psalm 62:1-2

"My soul finds rest in God alone, my salvation comes from Him, He alone is my rock and my salvation."

11. Philippians 4:13

"I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength."

12. Jeremiah 29:11

"For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

Cover Image Credit: pixabay.com

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9 Things I Learned At Passion 2019

God is awesome. Even four arenas full of awesome.

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For those who may not know, Passion is a Christian conference that seeks to bring together college students for "worship, prayer, justice and spiritual awakening". This year, the conference's attendance sold out four arenas - two in Georgia, one in Texas, and one in Washington D.C.

Passion is so massive for a reason: it offers Biblical teaching, community, support and service opportunities to a mass of college students searching for God's heart in such a crazy time in history. While I did not vet to attend the conference live, I did follow the live stream. Many of the things I learned at Passion I had heard before, but had not been ready to receive with my heart. God had begun softening my heart about a month before Christmas, and Passion came just in time to solidify that new spirit. Here are just a few of the little nuggets of truth that my heart received at Passion this year.

1. If God's not in it, I don't want it 

"If you're not in it, I don't want it." This was a lyric sung by Kari Jobe, and it just resonated with me, especially after all the beautiful reminders this weekend that God has both my own best interest at heart and the interest of all his people. Why would I want anything less than that? As Louie Giglio said, "There is an enemy that also has a plan for you", and I cannot afford to follow any road map but the one that God has laid out for me. (Philipians 4:8)

2. Worship and justice are on the same side of the coin 

I've always thought of spiritual concerns as mostly separate from political or socioeconomic issues, but God wants to see wrongs made right, but through His power. Passion always picks a platform to raise money for in the name of both worship and justice. This year, attendees raised money for the Deaf Bible Society in order to share the gospel with the deaf communities of multiple countries and give them Scripture in their heart language. We raised just under $450,000! College students with no money make for a "loaves and fishes" kind of awesomeness. As Lecrae said, or rapped on Night 2, "Being broke made me rich". (Isaiah 1:17)

3. Joy does not equal happiness, because joy is better than happiness 

Seeing four arenas full of young adults who are as hungry for Jesus as you are gives you a joy I cannot explain. I have an 18 hr course load, a job, and three huge projects this semester, but I am joyful beyond belief because I serve a God who loves me even when I fail miserably and sees me seeking his heart even when I don't feel seen by anyone else. How cool is that?! (James 1: 2-3)

4. An attitude of gratitude changes EVERYTHING!

I've decided to make "gratitude" my word for the year. I've spent a lot of time looking at what others have instead of what immense blessing God has laid right in front of me. I know I'm not the only one that struggles with this, and I just want to shout from the rooftops that thanking God daily will not only delight His heart, but yours too! Thanksgiving heals wounds, y'all! (Colossians 3:15)

5. When you let God remove something destructive from your life, you have to replace it with something better 

It's great to do a clean out of your heart and get rid of things you know will hurt you, but if when let that empty space sit unfilled by God, it will just get refilled by whatever was in there before. (2 Cor. 5:17)

6. Temporary solutions don't work for your heart; it needs a permanent fix 

The only thing that can put broken hearts back together is God's love. It sounds crazy and a little like an episode of Veggie Tales, but it's true. When you bring all your brokenness to Christ and ask Him to make it something beautiful, He shows up and shows out! (Psalm 147:3)

7. You run to who you trust 

Who do you go to when you're having the worst day of your life? Who is on speed dial in your phone? Who do you need in an emergency? Those are the people that you have placed your trust in? In the same way that we are careful who we place our trust in physically and emotionally, so should we only place our spiritual trust in Christ because He has already proven Himself to be our sole means of salvation. (Matthew 6:21)

8. Hope is the architect and faith is the builder 

This one might seem cheesy, but stick with me. Jesus became our architect when he offered us His plan of salvation. His death means that if we surrender to his design, we can have new life! But, we have to put our faith in Jesus daily in order for the structure to be built. Of course, we will all fail miserably sometimes and come very short of perfection, but God's grace is big enough to override all the messes we make.

9. Humans have incredibly short attention spans, but God knows that 

The world "Behold" is a lot in Scripture because God knows that it is difficult to get our attention! Thank goodness He has an abundance of patience with our stubborn hearts.

In short, Jesus is *literally* life, it's not about us, and love wins every time.

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