Dear Friends - This site was started in 2010. It is a place where I write about my thoughts and experiences, using my astro-photography as a way to share the Glory of God with others. Since God brings such wonderful hope to our lives, it is important to acknowledge Him in all we do. The messages and images contained within this site are simply intended to be a blessing and a spiritual encouragement to all visitors. The astro-images included with each message give witness to God’s creation in the universe. The Bible scripture referenced in these messages is God’s Truth – may it stir meaning in your life. As you go through your week, consider what God is doing in your life, and may He richly bless you along the way. Your comments on this message or this web site are welcome. -Mike Sherick
“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.”
John 3:16 (all verses NKJV)
“It’s a Beautiful Morning”
Good Morning Friends. God has blessed us with another beautiful day here in Las Cruces. Take time today to give the Lord thanks for all that He is doing in your life. Be reminded that this is the day that the Lord has made – just for you! Rejoice and be glad in it – for all that we have in life is a gift from God.
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.” (James 1:17)
Over the last week, we have had a run of stormy weather here in southern New Mexico, so I have not had the opportunity of late to image any “heavenly objects” from my remote robotic observatory. However, we don’t have to look too far for opportunities to witness God’s glory – we just have to look around. For all that we see is God’s creation. Amen! So… this morning, I decided to take some photos of the local desert environment that surrounds our neighborhood – and share with you what I witnessed. More on this in a litte while…
As it turned out, the Lord had revealed a fresh new day, with clear blue sky and crisp morning temperatures - a perfect morning for a walk in the desert. It’s amazing how God’s timing is always perfect. Isn’t it wonderful how God allows everything to come together for good. I’m reminded of what it says in Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” Yes… we have an awesome God. His wisdom has no end, and His knowledge, presence, and understanding extends into everything in our lives – our omniscient God.
Even though I know that God has everything under control, and that He works all things for good, I will sometimes become rather impatient. Isaiah 53:6 comes to mind. Does that ever happen in your life? A small example of this is my waiting for weather to improve so I can open up the remote observatory and image a galaxy or some other object out in space. There are other examples of this – some of which I’m not too proud of, but you get the idea. The point is, we all tend to lose patience with God.
Sometimes it seems that God has other plans, and His timing is quite different than ours. We want it, when we want it! Does that sound familiar? This is our sinful nature on display. In this regard, we must constantly remind ourselves that God’s plan is a better plan, and that God’s timing is better timing – sometimes we must wait upon the Lord. This requires us to know and believe by faith that God indeed has a better plan – and in obedience, we must be patient. How are you at being patient? How are you at waiting on the Lord? When you think about being patient for the Lord, give some thought to these considerations:
Trust – We must trust that God has a willingness to hear and answer our prayers. We must trust what the Bible teaches – that God is unchangeable, and the same yesterday, today, and forever. We must trust that God will never leave or forsake us. We must trust that God has a plan for our lives. Isaiah 26:3-4, “The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, Because he trusts in You. Trust in the LORD forever, For in GOD the LORD, we have an everlasting Rock.” (NASB)
Resistance – We must resist our sinful nature to give up on God. We must resist our sinful desire to go our own way, and be tempted by Satan. We must resist the intellect that says we can do everything under our own power. We must resist being defiant to the Holy Spirit. We must resist turning away from God’s word. Joshua 1:8, “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.”
Prayer – It is not God that is deaf, it is usually our impatience that makes us feel that way. We must believe that in all situations and circumstances, God hears us. We must humble ourselves before our Lord, and realize that He knows what we need even before we ask Him. We must believe that God answers all prayers, and believe that His timing is perfect for our lives. We must extend our prayers to include our praise to God. We must pray to God for patience and perserverance. James 5:7-8, “Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.”
Patience is indeed an important consideration for our life. Listen to what it says in Psalm 27:14, “Wait on the LORD; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the LORD!” Let patience be an integral part of your life, and may the Lord give you strength and guide you along each step of the way.
Back to my morning walk in the desert… I guess you could say that my patience paid off, for the Lord allowed for a beautiful day.
So, with camera in hand, my wife and I began our trek into the desert. I was surprised to discover just how many interesting desert plants were on display. I recall that during our walk, while feeling the blissful warmth of the rising sun, I found myself singing the pop tune “It’s a Beautiful Morning” by the Young Rascals. Have you heard that song? In the course of our 45 minute walk, I took quite a few photos of the different plant life, which are presented in the video below. It was wonderful to be a witness to God’s glory - on display for all to see!
When I reflect back on this morning’s walk in the desert, and the beauty that I witnessed - I am reminded of the One who created all things. In closing, reflect on what is says in John 1:1-5,
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.”
Let this understanding be with you today as you behold God’s creation on display, both in the heavens and on the earth. Remember also that the Truth is revealed in His creation, and that the Truth will set you free. “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:32)
Have a great day, and as you go through your day, take a look at God creation that is around you. I’m guessing that you too will find yourself singing… It’s a beautiful morning…
May the Lord place someone in your path that you may share the Good News of Jesus Christ.
Your brother in Christ, Mike Sherick
“Living on the Edge”
Good Morning! God has blessed us with another beautiful day here in Las Cruces! The sky this morning is a vibrant blue, extending from horizon to horizon, as the warmth of the sun begins to highlight God’s creation. It’s truly amazing how the high-desert here in southern New Mexico comes alive in the Springtime. Seemingly overnight, all kinds of desert plant life are starting to bloom - and what a few weeks earlier looked plain, now displays an abundance of color. Although you may not live in the desert, I’m sure what is on display in your “neck of the woods” is just as spectacular!
As you behold God’s glory throughout the day, realize that you are witness to His creation. God’s glory is on display for all to see! Remember that this is a day that the Lord has made, so rejoice in it, and take time to give Him thanks for what He is doing in your life. Praise the Lord for all things great and small – for our God is an everlasting God, the Creator of all things.
Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall, but those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:28-31)
Today’s brief message is titled “Living on the Edge”. What does the term “living on the edge” mean to you? For many, this imparts a sense of danger, perhaps even careless living. True enough, many people in this world are involved in some rather dangerous lines of work - and the truth be known, some of us sometimes live life carelessly without concern about the consequences for what we are doing. How about you? Are you living on the edge in your life?
For some, “living on the edge” is a daily routine as they go about their job. When I think about this, Navy fighter pilots comes to mind - as they strap on high-tech aircraft and face uncertainty each time they fly off the deck of an aircraft carrier – risking their lives with each and every mission. I’m also reminded of the recent tradegy in the West Virgina coal mine, with so much loss of life. On a daily basis, these miners go into the depths of the coal mines doing one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. In such occupations (and others), what is “routine” can in an instant turn into life and death situations. Of course, these are just a couple of contrasting examples, and we are to be thankful for all those who are willing to do the “dangerous stuff” in life – putting their lives on the line for others. For most of us however, life is perhaps a little less on the edge. That said, have you ever stopped to consider just how dynamic your life really is? How very much, that as a Christian you are – “Living on the Edge.”
Often the mundane aspects of life tend to mask the challenging role we have in this world as believers in Christ. We make our plans and live our life, but the fact is, we really don’t know what our worldly future holds. Listen to what it says in James 4:13-17, “Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.” But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.”
Fortunately, we can find comfort that our path is directed by God, for as it says in Proverbs 16:9, “A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.” In this regard, we must trust in God. With respect to living on the edge, it is the discerning manner in which you live your Christian life that is truly important – that is, your faith and obedience to God, and your willingness to listen to the Holy Spirit. It may be hard for you to relate this to putting your life on the line, but that is exactly what you do each and every day you walk in Christ. This carries a lot of responsibility for you are part of the Body of Christ, fully understanding of God’s commandments – you are without excuse now knowing the truth. This is this same Truth spoken to us in God’s word and the commandments given by Jesus before He was taken up into heaven.
This “Living on the Edge” is more than just being a good Christian, it is being an obedient Christian – putting off the old self, and putting on the new person in Christ. Speaking of “Living on the Edge”… Are you willing to die for Christ? There will come a time, and is already here in the world, where Christians are giving up their lives (some unto death) for the sake of spreading the Good News of Jesus. Let us go and do likewise, and be God’s fellow workers in Christ, that our work may be refined in the fire that will come.
“For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building. According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.” (1 Corinthians 3:9-17)
I know of someone else who put their life on the line. Does anyone’s name come to your mind? The person I’m talking about of course is - Jesus Christ. He paid the ultimate sacrifice as part of God’s perfect plan to make a way for the salvation of mankind – your salvation and mine – and all those who choose to place their faith in Jesus. Let us be good stewards of the Gospel and take every opportunity to share the Good News of Jesus with others, such that none would be lost.
It is said that life is lived forward, and understood backward. This is part of the finite nature of our worldly understanding. In this same light. it is a fact that at some point in time, we will all pass away – for we will all face a worldly fate someday (if Jesus does not return first). As Christians, we have a promise and a heavenly hope that by the grace of God, our repentance of sins, and our faith in Jesus Christ, we will have eternal life in heaven. With such a wonderful promise and heavenly hope, life now takes on a totally new meaning, for eventhough you are in the world, you are no longer of the world. In this regard, you have a higher calling in Christ. It is my prayer for you that the Lord will give you strength to pick up your cross, and lovingly accept the challenge of “Living on the Edge” for Jesus!
As part of the theme of living on the edge… Here is a galactic view of “living on the edge” that you might find interesting. God’s glory on display! How would you like to live in this neighborhood? The astro-image below is of a beautiful galaxy called ngc4565, commonly called an “Edge-On Spiral Galaxy”. This image was taken from my JMSM Observatory in southern New Mexico. This is an un-barred spiral galaxy located in the constellation of Coma Bernices, about 30 million light years distant from our earth. Notice the bright central glow as one of this galaxy’s prominent features. Click on the image or the thumbnail above and take a tour to see some of the many background galaxies in this medium view composition. If you have time, let me know what you found in this image. God’s Light is truly amazing!
“The heavens declare the glory of the Lord.” (Psalm 19:1)
In closing, may the Lord place someone in your path today to share the Good News of Jesus Christ. Have a great week, and God Bless.
Your brother in Christ,
Good Morning! It’s April 1st… No fooling… The Lord has blessed us with another beautufil day!
Wherever you are at, take a look around and witness the glory that the Lord has brought to you this day - all part of His marvelous design. Take time today to give thanks to God for the wonder of His creation, and the beauty that surrounds you. You are part of His wonderful plan and He cares about everything you do in life. Yes… This is a day that the Lord has made – a gift from God – just for you!
I thought it fitting to present to you a beautiful star in the Constellation of Lyra. This magnificient star can be found high in the northern sky this time of year. It is technically named SAO 67519, and is located near the planetary nebula M57. This prominent bluish star is 302 light years distant from our planet earth. It is one of billions of stars in God’s universe – and He calls each of them by name. I call the image compositon below “The Cross”, due to the prominent “diffraction spikes” that resulted from the image processing. Perhaps this cross-like shape is fitting as a reminder of God’s glory shown to us in the heavens, and a glorious reminder of what Jesus did for you and me on the Cross.
“The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork.” (Psalm 19:1)
As Easter Sunday approaches, let this old Gospel Hymn find a place in your heart this day: (written by Phillip Bliss in 1876)
Hallelujah, He is risen!
Jesus is gone up on high!
Burst the bars of death asunder,
Angels shout and men reply:
He is risen, He is risen,
Living now no more to die.
He is risen, He is risen,
Living now no more to die.
Let’s reflect on the significance of this day we call Easter. Not only is it a day of celebration, but is is a day of observance and remembrance:
- Jesus was sent to this earth as the Son of God and became man.
- Jesus spoke the truth, healed the sick, raised the dead, and made the blind to see.
- Jesus and His disciples celebrated the Passover Seder at what we call the Last Supper.
- Jesus prayed in anguish to His Father in the Garden of Gethsemane.
- Jesus was persecuted, betrayed and arrested, and He was placed on trial.
- Jesus was sentenced to death, and had a crown of thorns placed on His head.
- Jesus was stripped of His clothes and fastened to the cross, with spikes driven through His hands and feet.
- Jesus was Crucified, suffered and died for the sins of man.
- After Jesus’ death, He was taken down from the cross and placed in a tomb where no one had ever been laid.
- Jesus was raised from the dead on the third day.
This is the resurrection account of Jesus Christ, upon which is based the very heart of Christianity. Without the resurrection - there is no Christianity! All of this was fortold by the Hebrew prophet Isaiah hundred of years in advance (see Isaiah 53). Let’s look at what meaning the Resurrection of Jesus has for us:
In the resurrection, we see the power of God having raised Jesus from the dead. “and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power” (Ephesians 1:19)
The resurrection proves that Jesus was who He said He was. “and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.” Romans 1:4)
The resurrection affirms our salvation through our faith in Jesus Christ. “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9)
The resurrection confirms what we know to be the Truth. “And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:40)
The resurrection secures our justification. “who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.” (Romans 4:25)
The resurrection of Jesus affirms our own resurrection. “For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 4:14)
The resurrection of Jesus is part of our Christian hope. “Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” (Romans 6:4)
The resurrection speaks of the judgment day that is to come. This same Jesus, which had ascended into heaven, and is now reigning at the right Hand of the Father, will come again soon to judge the living and the dead. “because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.” (Acts 17:31)
As you grasp the significance of the Resurrection, consider the true meaning of your salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. Deeply consider that the Resurrection is not just a historical fact, but embrace it personally in your Christian life. Remember that Christ paid the full price for your salvation. Remember too that we all will stand before Him someday to give a full account for the life we have lived. So in all you do, fear God and be obedient to His commandments, and strive to live a Christ-centered life.
In closing, let me encourage you to truly celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus – not just this coming Easter Sunday, but every day of your walk in Christ. Let others know the difference that Jesus has made in your life, and proclaim the Gospel at every opportunity so that others may be saved. Lastly, take to heart what Easter really means for the Body of Christ, and all who place their faith in the One True God and His Son Jesus Christ. May the Lord place someone in your path this week that you may share the Good News of Jesus.
Have a great week, and have a wonderful Easter celebration this Sunday! He is Risen!
Your comments are welcome – feel free to post below.
Your brother in Christ,
Good Morning! The Lord has blessed us with another beautiful day! Take a look around. Have you
noticed all the signs of springtime? Even here in the desert climate of Las Cruces, New
Mexico, the trees have started to blossom, and leaves are starting to grow on once barren
branches – the colors of springtime abound — telling us that Easter is on its way.
Our loving God has given us this season for a reason. It represents the time of a new
beginning. Take the time, wherever you are this day to give thanks to God for the
beautiful creation that surrounds you – His glory on display! In fact, this is a day that the
Lord has made – just for you! Praise the Lord!
As we enter the Easter season, the “Color of Easter” comes to mind. Below is a heavenly
object that might be fitting for this Easter season with its pastel hues. Don’t you think it
looks like a “cosmic” Easter egg? This particular image was taken a few weeks ago from
our JMSM Observatory near Mayhill, NM.
The fact is… This is an object in our own Milky Way Galaxy! It is called “The Crab
Nebula”, technically named M1 – a super nova remnant. This super nova is the result of
a star that exploded thousands of years ago. Amazingly, God not only created M1, but
He created all the stars as well – and He calls them all by name. What an awesome God
“He counts the number of the stars; He calls them all by name. Great is our Lord, and
mighty in power; His understanding is infinite.” (Psalm 147:4-5)
Let’s widen our “field of view” and take a look at the beautiful collection of colorful stars
that surround this unusual object. You might say that this is God’s Easter basket!
This interesting object certainly has some unusual colors that serve to show its intricate
internal structure. It was taken with the use of three different optical filters (Ha, SII, and
OIII) to allow a very narrow slice of light (6nm) to fall on the CCD imaging detector.
The light you see in this image occurred thousands of years prior to the Resurrection of
This super nova remnant was so bright when it first formed, it could actually be seen with
the naked eye during daylight for 23 days by Chinese observers, as recorded on July 4,
1054. This object is located in the Constellation of Taurus, and is some 6,300 light years
distant from our earth.
God’s Light in the heavens is amazing! “The heavens declare the glory of the Lord.”
The Color of Easter
“We all are equal at the foot of the Cross.”
The coming of Easter always gives rise to special thoughts, and it’s not uncommon to
think of the wonderful variety of colors associated with the Easter season – a time of
More importantly however, with the coming of Easter, we commemorate and celebrate
the Resurrection of Jesus. For if Christ has not risen, there would be no Christianity! By
Christ’s Resurrection we are justified and are given power to live the Christian life
(Romans 8:33-34); we are given a living hope (1 Peter 1:21) and our lives are raised in
obedient service to Him, for He died for all and rose again (2 Corinthians 5:15).
He is Risen! He is Risen! Hallelujah, He is Risen!
So also, consider some other colors that relate to the sacrifice made by our precious Lord
and Savior, Jesus Christ. Consider that our loving God has made a way for us by sending
His one and only Son to the world to die for our sins, and not just our sins, but the sins of
the whole world. “And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours
only but also for the whole world.” (1 John 2:2)
Red was the color of the sweat that poured from the face of Jesus as He prayed in the
Garden. (Luke 22:44)
Red was the color of the blood that fell from His forehead when they beat Him and
placed the crown of thorns on His head. (John 19:2)
Red was the color of the blood that flowed from Jesus’ body when they pierced His side
on the Cross. (John 19:34)
Purple was the color of Jesus’ back, beaten and bruised for our transgressions.
Purple was the color of his garment as they scorned Him. (John 19:3)
Black is the color of the sin, the price that Jesus paid on the cross. (Mark 15:25)
Black is the color of the hour that fell over the land as He called out to His Father.
White is the color of the linens that lay over Jesus in the tomb. (Luke 23:53)
White is the color of the Light found in Jesus. (John 8:12)
Of course, these colors are quite a contrast to the beautiful pastel colors we typically see
at Easter. It is good to celebrate with both as a glorious reminder of the grace of God, the
redemptive price paid by Jesus for the sins of the world, and the blessed hope we have in
Christianity. “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins,
according to the riches of His grace… ” (Ephesians 1:7)
By this, know that as you “walk in the Light” toward the coming of Easter Sunday, that
your sins have been washed away by the blood of Jesus. “But if we walk in the light as
He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ
His Son cleanses us from all sin.” (1 John 1:7)
Realize too that Jesus’ sacrifice was “made once” for eternal redemption, that by the
grace of God, the repentance of your sins, and your faith in Jesus Christ, you have an
eternal inheritance – for as it says in Hebrews 9:12-15,
“Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most
Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of bulls
and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying
of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit
offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve
the living God? And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means
of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those
who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.”
That’s right… Jesus is a superior sacrifice! Jesus paid your sin debt when He died on the
Cross and rose again. Jesus is your Redeemer, and you have been washed clean by the
blood of Jesus!
Rejoice in your salvation and walk in obedience to God. Rejoice in the Holy Spirit that
dwells within you. Rejoice in the Body of Christ, for you are living an eternal hope in
Christ Jesus. Rejoice in the fact that Jesus will come again soon, for there will be a great
judgment, and everyone will know that Jesus Christ is Lord.
“And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, 28 so Christ was
offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will
appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.” (Hebrews 9:27-28)
In closing, let me encourage you once again to take the time in the days approaching
Easter, to deeply consider the significance of the Sacrifice and Resurrection of Jesus. Let
the “Color of Easter” take on a new meaning in your life as you reflect on what Jesus did
for you, and how He has made a difference in your life. Most of all, consider the “Color
of Easter” as an opportunity to share your faith in Jesus with others – for that is what
Jesus commanded us to do.
It is my prayer, that as you walk in the Light as the Body of Christ, that you will place
your trust and obedience in the One True God and seek His guidance. May the Lord give
you strength to be a Christ-like example to others as you carry your own cross toward the
coming Easter Sunday, and throughout your life — always lifting up the name of Jesus
and giving glory and praise to God.
Remember… Regardless your worldly situation or circumstances, “We are all equal at
the foot of the cross.” Fix your eyes on Jesus!
Have a great day, and may the Lord place someone in your path this day, that you may
share the Good News of Jesus.
Your brother in Christ,
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Have you ever wondered what it will be like in Heaven? I’m fairly confident your
answer is “YES”. The wonderment that surrounds this question is common among most
all of us. For some, this consideration is part of a daily thought process that flows
through our mind, reaching into everything we encounter throughout life – questioning
the very thought of our eternity. Such is our worldly speculation, and our heavenly hope
in this life we live here on earth. This is part of the process (for the purpose of this
message) that I’ll call — “Focus on Heaven”.
By contrast however, not all folks in this world have such thoughts, beliefs or longings.
Consider these (perhaps not so quotable) quotes that reflect and promote such worldly
viewpoints and understanding — alive and well in the world we live in today.
“I don’t like to commit myself about heaven and hell — you see, I have friends in both
places.” — Mark Twain
“I feel no need for any other faith than my faith in the kindness of human beings. I am so
absorbed in the wonder of earth and the life upon it that I cannot think of heaven and
angels.” — Pearl S. Buck
“The “kingdom of Heaven” is a condition of the heart — not something that comes “upon
the earth” or “after death.”” — Friedrich Nietzsche
What is striking in the quotes above, is that there is “acknowledgement of heaven”, but
denial of the Truth – essentially falling back into a brand of “worldly hope” devised as
intellectual understanding, and focused on that which one can feel, touch and see, etc..
Of course, worldly hope has its place, but it is absolutely finite and temporal. It is
precisely the limitations of this “worldly hope” that gives rise to thoughts of that which is
beyond this life.
At the same time, it is uncanny how the world has the ability to mask and confuse any
hope we may have beyond this world. Frankly, this is letting our spiritual nature
“follow” our sinful nature – a self-directed life. It should be the other way around – that
is, letting our spiritual nature lead us out of a sinful nature – a Christ directed life. Hence,
our focus on Heaven.
When we think about Heaven, compare the contrast of worldly hope to that of an “eternal
hope”. This begs such common questions as, “Where does one go when they die?”
“What is my purpose here on earth?” and other such curiosities that question our physical
mortality. The truth is, these are questions we typically don’t dwell on too much as we go
through our daily life – except perhaps in our trials or crises.
As Christians – we know that our promised hope is assured through our faith in Jesus
Christ. But what is this “hope” that we speak of? Try as we might to make this complex,
the answer is as profound, as it is simple. That as Christians (having accepted Jesus as
our Lord and Savior), that when we die, we will spend eternal life in Heaven — serving
God, seeing the glory of His face, and reigning with Him forever and ever.
That may seem mundane at first glance, but that is hardly the case! Especially when you
consider the alternative consequence of those who have rejected God – then finding
themselves eternally separated from God. Although in parable form, Luke 16:19-31
speaks of the hopelessness of eternal separation from God. This should scare the Hell out
of most folks, but sadly (ref. Twain, et al quotes above) much of the world continues
going along its merry way, ignoring God, and the serious nature of eternal consequence.
As for our “Focus on Heaven”… Wouldn’t it be nice if we could connect this focus into
our worldly life? I like how Rick Warren lays this out in his book “The Purpose Driven
Life”, which talks in practical terms about our purpose here on earth.
1 – We were planned for God’s pleasure (Worship)
2 – We were formed for God’s Family (Fellowship)
3 – We were created to become like Christ (Discipleship)
4 – We were shaped for serving God (Ministry)
5 – We were made for a mission (Mission)
In all this, we are to be obedient to God’s Commandments. Jesus gives us guidance to
help understand and put into practice this requirement for obedience in our life. In
Matthew 22:37, “Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your
heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ “
It’s a fact that for all of us… That this worldly track we have been on, has been quite an
adventure. Oh… The stories we could tell! You guessed it – your life experiences are
what make up your Testimony! For some, it’s been a more than an adventure, it’s been a
roller coaster — one day you’re up, the next day you’re down (as the saying goes). But in
all this, do you realize that you have been equipped by God for this journey – ups, downs,
and all? What is your testimony?
The real beginning of your adventure began the minute you repented of your sins and
asked Jesus Christ to come into your life. By this significant commitment to Christ, your
worldly journey has now been enhanced with a heavenly journey – a focus on Heaven.
Your quest now is to be obedient to God, and walk in His Light. As Paul relates to us in
Hebrews 12:1, “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of
witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let
us run with endurance the race that is set before us,” As this Scripture tells us, the race
we run is more about our Heavenly goals than our personal worldly
pursuits/accomplishments. God is asking us to raise our sights – Focus on Heaven!
This is why as part of our worldly walk, it is so important to spread the Good News of
Jesus Christ, so that those who have ears to hear might be saved. Saved from what?
Eternal damnation in Hell — eternally separated from God, where there is no longer any
Yeah… you say, “I know all this stuff!” Good… Then go out and tell people about it.
Tell them your testimony, and tell those that are in need of hearing the Good News of
Jesus! Tell them how Christ made an eternal difference in your life!
I’m reminded of John Lennon’s comment, “Life is what happens to you while you’re
busy making other plans.” In many respects, this parallels how one’s worldly vision gets
in the way of a “spiritual vision” (that is, Godly pursuit) – a mindset that culminates in
not being able to see the heavenly forest for the worldly trees!
Life at times can indeed leave any of us in some perplexing places. For all it offers, both
good and bad — none of us seem to be able to escape the grip of the world! Fortunately,
we have the Bible — God’s living, breathing Word. It has all the answers to life –
shedding Light on that which is perplexing to us, and otherwise – nothing is left
untouched. God’s Word speaks of our blessed hope, and helps each of us to focus on the
prize, to focus on the goal – to Focus on Heaven!
Back to the original question, “Have you ever wondered what it will be like in Heaven?”
Read what the Bible says about the New Jerusalem in Revelation 21 where God reveals
how all things will be made new, the coming of the New Jerusalem, and the Glory within.
Verses 3 – 4 give us a hint of what we can look forward to – “And I heard a loud voice
from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with
them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He
will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying
or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
Is Heaven worth focusing on? You bet!
In the astrophotography that I do, focusing the telescope camera’s highly sensitive CCD
sensor is a constant issue. For each of the exposures that are combined to make an
image, having the proper focus for each sub-frame exposure is critical to the outcome of
the final image. (This is analogous to the need for our having the proper daily focus on
God, which is critical to our eternal outcome.)
Just as “Focus on Heaven” is the theme for this message, try focusing on the object
centered in the image below. Can you see any detail or structure in this object? It is
actually a galaxy, along with myriad of galaxies shone in this image — adrift among a sea
of stars – whereby God knows each of them by name. Psalm 147:4, “He counts the
number of the stars; He calls them all by name.”
I imaged this object last week from my JMSM Observatory here in NM. It is called a
Spiral Galaxy, and is technically named M106. It has a unique “barb-like” structure
common to many galaxies in our universe. It is some 25 million light years distant from
our earth, which does make focusing a bit of a challenge!
Also notice the many “background galaxies” captured in this wide-field image. This
awesome display of God’s Glory is something for all to behold.
If only we could get a better “focus” to bring this object in greater clarity… Would you
care to get things in FOCUS?
Fortunately, we can zoom-in and get a better focus on this galaxy by using a “more
powerful” telescope. Shown below is the same M106 galaxy shown centered in the
image above – both imaged from JMSMO. Notice the elaborate structure in the galaxy
compared to the above image. This close-up view of M106 reveals intense star-forming
regions represented by the reddish/blue knots. You can imagine the tremendous forces
underway within this galaxy, with its twisted spiral formations being cast off into space.
When we view God’s Creation, including objects such as this beautiful and interesting
galaxy, it is just another reminder of the awesome power that God brings to our attention
– all designed to bring us closer to the one true God that makes all things possible.
This week, consider what you are focusing on. Better yet! Focus on Heaven!
“The Lord bless you and keep you;
The Lord make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you;
The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace.” Numbers 6:24-26
Have a great week!
Your Brother in Christ,
The sky is perfectly clear here in Las Cruces, and it’s clear that the Lord has blessed us
with another beautiful day! With the recent storm that passed through Las Cruces, it
really helped to clean the air and filter the sky of all its impurities. It’s almost as if God
has renewed the day. It’s amazing how such pristine skies help to give us clarity to see
things we otherwise would not even notice. You might view this as God’s way of
refreshing both our physical and Godly senses – a renewing of our Spirit!
What a glorious day it is to be alive in Christ! Praise the Lord!
When I think about God’s ability to renew things, I begin to consider that the Bible states
that God had a plan for all that has taken place, all that is, and all that ever will be.
Reflect on the well known verse in Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God created the
heavens and the earth.” and John 1:3, “All things were made through Him, and
without Him nothing was made that was made.” Clearly God is incredible, and His
plans are eternal. In fact, He even has a plan for you and me!
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plan to prosper you and not
to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
I like that… a hope and a future! We must never let the world get in the way of this
blessed hope, for God’s plan for us is truly eternal, and it is uniquely designed for each of
us. Have you ever asked, “How do I fit into God’s plan for my life?”
This is an interesting question, for just when we begin to think we know what God’s plan
is for our life, the world steps in and off we go in another direction! Ever had that
happen? I think we all can relate to that “feeling”. One way to battle this confusing
dilemma is to ground yourself in the Truth, and this truthful and significant fact: You are
currently living out God’s plan for your life. That’s right… You’re already plugged in!
And since you are already walking in Christ, follow what it says in Philippians 3:17,
“Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live
according to the pattern we gave you.”
One way to view this is that when you accepted Christ in your life, as your Lord and
Savior, you “consciously” began the process of executing God’s plan for your life – one
day at a time. God also knew that in order for you to execute His unique plan for your
life, you would need instruction (the Bible) and a counselor (the Holy Spirit) to help
along the way. Take time to read the Bible, listen to the Holy Spirit and allow God to
reveal His loving plan for your life.
Much like any plan that goes into effect, it involves a process that is filled with
milestones (to mark progress) that ultimately lead to the completion of a goal – as
Christians — a heavenly goal. If we correlate the milestones we come to in life to that of
our Christian walk, we might come to realize that God’s plan means we are under a
constant state of transformation and refinement. In reality, each milestone represents a
continual renewing of our spirit that is underway – all with consideration and focus
toward the eternal goal that God has placed in our hearts. Fix your eyes on Jesus…
Imagine a broad milestone chart of God’s plan for your life – it might look something
like this: Accept Christ — Grow in Christ — be obedient to God – eternal life in Heaven.
Short and overly simplistic… right? I agree! After all, I did leave a few things out!
Where are the cars, the boats — the condo on the beach, the joys and hardships, etc., etc.?
Places to go, things to do… I think you might get the point… That is part of what makes
it so difficult to execute God’s plan and remain on track – that is, our ongoing desire and
lust for the world, versus our desire for God! Consider the warning in Ephesians 4:22,
“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old
self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires;”
As we execute God’s plan for our life, we need to remind ourselves that our ultimate goal
(blessed hope) is to serve our God in Heaven! (Revelation 22:3) However, it’s the
“growing in Christ” and “being obedient to God” part of the plan that tends to make our
walk here on earth a bit challenging at times – sometimes beyond what we think we can
endure! After all, life is dynamic with lots of detours along the way. However, don’t
worry, for God considers everything in your life, and He never made a plan that was not
intended for good — and He will never gives you more than you are able to handle. In
this regard, having guidelines in our life will help us to fulfill God’s plan. These
guidelines come from the truth found in God’s Word and the Holy Spirit that dwells in
each of us.
We all understand that while we are in this world, we must seek to do God’s will. Listen
to what it says in Joshua 22:5, “… love the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways, to
keep His commandments, to hold fast to Him, and to serve Him with all your heart and
with all your soul.”
May I say that as we are living out God’s plan for our lives, it is helpful to reassess our
progress and understanding of “the plan” at various milestones along the way. Consider
this assessment as part of what I’ll call “Calibrating Your Life”. We do this to ensure
we are maintaining a “standard” in our life that “keeps pace” and is acceptable with
God’s plan. We do this to stay “on track” with the milestones God has set for us. But
what does this calibration metaphor imply, and how might it be useful as applied toward
Think of this “calibration process” as determining how you can get rid of the so-called
“worldly noise” in your life. These are the sinful distracters and obstacles (evil and
destructive in some cases) in life that slow or impede your progress toward
accomplishing God’s plan for your life. Such “worldly noise” only serves to clutter your
path and cloud visibility toward your recognized heavenly goal.
I might point out, that when we truly “visualize” our heavenly goal, we will tend to
execute God’s plan for our life with greater effectiveness and purpose – no matter what
circumstances we are in, or what we face in life.
Allow me use an astro-imaging “analogy” here to help you visualize this so-called
When I set about taking an astro-photograph of one of God’s heavenly creations, a galaxy
for example, I must first make a plan to correctly setup the observatory, telescope and
various systems, and then set about “executing the plan” for the night’s imaging session.
This involves going through a series of processes that ultimately yields a final astroimage.
I know from my worldly experience with telescopes and imaging equipment “what I can
and can’t do”. Under these guidelines, once the image data is acquired, I must enhance
the good data (signal), and get rid of the “noise” that resides in the raw image data. I do
this so as to yield a good final image result. Here is an example of what I mean in the
image examples shown below:
This first image below is what we call “raw data”– it’s a galaxy. This is what it looks
like coming directly out of the highly sensitive CCD camera attached to the telescope –
one of many sub-exposures taken during a typical imaging session. It may be interesting,
but it’s not all that impressive. How can we improve the image from this “raw data”?
As part of this analogy, let me make some parenthetical (connections) to the above idea
of “calibrating your life” with that of processing an astro-image.
The noise within the image above represents all the distractive elements (the world) in the
image raw data (our life) that are masking the true signal within the image (God’s Truth -
- heavenly goal). You can somewhat make out the shape of the galaxy, but to the trained
eye (God) there is a large amount of “noise” (sin) in the image raw data that obstructs our
view (sinful behavior) of what this heavenly object really looks like. We know it’s there,
but we can’t quite see it (worldly distractions). How do we get rid of the noise in the
image raw data?
In processing CCD images, we first make the decision (acknowledge sin) to eliminate the
noise in the raw data (repent of sin) by applying various filtering methodology (accept
Christ). The image below is the result of a process called “calibration” (sanctification) of
the raw image data. In effect, the noise that was once reflected in the imaging system
(sins of the world) have been imputed (by Christ) for the calibrated image data
The result of the “calibrated image” shown above is quite striking. We are beginning to
see our goal take shape (purpose in life). Our imaging session includes a series of
calibrated images that are then combined (life’s experiences) to make up a master image
(our character). Several master images are made (service to God) using different colored
filters can be further combined (worship and fellowship) to form a final color image
(Christ-like walk) as shown in the final image below. Are you beginning to clearly see
the goal now? We’re not done yet…
This final image result shown above can be further processed with more techniques, such
as contrast and sharpening (commitment to a Christ centered life) to enhance and more
accurately represent this heavenly object. Count the stars if you can! The true
representation of this galaxy can then be presented for people to see (spreading the Good
News) in all its glory (our Lord and Savior – Jesus Christ). That’s it! How does your
soul feel… You just processed your first astro-image!
By the way… The image above is a heavenly object called M31, “The Great Andromeda
Galaxy”. This wide-field image was taken from my JMSM Observatory near Mayhillm
NM. It is the nearest “neighbor galaxy” to our own Milky Way Galaxy – our home in the
universe! This spiral galaxy is located some 2.9 million light years distant from our
earth, and is part of what is called our “local group” of galaxies. Notice also the
prominent companion galaxies M32 and M110.
As you can see from the process above, there was quite a lot to consider when executing
our imaging plan (same with God’s plan) to achieve our finished astro-image, with the
“calibration process” being critical to yielding a good image result. So too, if we desire
to remain on-track with God’s plan, we need to pay attention to how we are processing
and executing everything in our life – all the while obeying the commandment given by
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your
strength and with all your mind; and, Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Luke 10:27)
In bringing this analogy to a close, let’s look at some of the “structural considerations”
associated with God’s plan for your life. Consider the following:
- Recognize that God’s plan for you is unique, and it is matched perfectly just for
- God knows your strengths and weaknesses, your fears and what is good for you.
- All of your experiences (good and bad) fit into God’s plan. He knows where you
have been and He knows where you are going.
- Abide in the Lord, and work to serve His Kingdom.
- Walk in Christ and present yourself pleasing to the Lord.
- Realize that God has a specific calling for your life – learn what it is.
- Use the gifts God has given you.
- God’s plan for your life is simple – don’t make it more complicated than it is.
- God’s plan requires obedience to His commandments – flee from sin.
- Read and apply God’s Word in your life so you may understand and seek His
- Communicate with God through prayer and meditation.
- Walk in faith.
- Live by God’s grace and mercy, not for yourself.
- Listen to the direction of the Holy Spirit.
- Stay focused on God in everything you do.
I’m sure you can think of additional considerations that may relate toward applying
God’s plan in your life. Good… Add them in! God want you to get connected with
Him! Seek God in all you do, for this will bring clarity to the plan you are executing.
Once again, we are talking about God’s plan for YOUR LIFE.
Understanding the scope of God’s plan for your life is one thing, but now we must work
to execute this plan and remain on-track. This is where the “Calibrating Your Life”
theme of this message comes into play.
I would like to encourage you that putting God’s plan for your life “into action” is as
simple (and as difficult) as this:
Daily — in EVERYTHING you do in life, weigh the consequences of your worldly
encounters against God’s Truth — then ask this question: “Does this encounter,
consideration, or action in my life bring me closer to God’s plan, or does it take me
farther away from God’s plan?” If the answer is “closer to God’s plan”, then feed your
success and do more of what brings you closer to God. If the answer is “farther away
from God’s plan”, then starve your failures, and do more of what brings you closer to
Remember, as you execute God’s wonderful plan for your life, keep in mind the
significance of your eternal journey, and the opportunities you have serving God through
your faith in Christ Jesus. Be reminded of your eternal goal, and that God’s plan
remains in you – and you in faithful obedience to God.
“See that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also
will remain in the Son and in the Father. And this is what he promised us— even
eternal life.” (1 John 2:24-25)
Keep in mind that God’s sacrifice for you was His Son Jesus (John 3:16) — so know that
the life you live is very important and has eternal consequences. Strive to stay on a
straight path (Matthew 7:13-14), and remember your calling! Keep God’s
commandments close to your heart, and do not deny the opportunity share the Good
News of Jesus Christ with those that have ears to hear…
In closing, reflect on the above. As you set about “Calibrating Your Life”, do it with
Godly intent and purpose, with the full knowledge that God is actively refining,
purifying, and transforming you in Christ Jesus – all part of His eternal plan for “your
life”. Yes… God cares about YOU!
May the Lord place someone in your path this weekend to share with them the Good
News of Jesus Christ. Amen!
Have a great day!
Your brother in Christ,
The Lord has blessed us with another beautiful day! Let me ask you, did you wake up
thinking, “This is a day that the Lord has made?” I know that sometimes (with one eye
open) it’s more like: “Where’s the coffee?” Regardless your morning routine, as part of
getting your day off to a good start, don’t forget to give thanks to the Lord! For all that
awaits you this day, is a gift to you from God.
Most of us have some form of exercise in the morning (or at least we should). We
typically identify this with getting our body in good shape, improving our circulation
system, and taking care of our heart – a way to help keep our body fit and our mind
sharp. Some folks do this by walking – a good form of exercise. However, have you
ever thought about exercising your soul? You might be thinking, “That’s a bit of a
strange question! How does one exercise one’s soul?”
Perhaps the more important question is, “What is the soul?” Typically, before we
exercise anything, we need to know a bit about what it is. Our first thoughts about the
soul might lead us to quickly conclude that our soul is our being, or spirit, or life.
I’ll tell you up front, I do not have an exact answer to this question, but I sense the
answer is complex, and worth further study by any disciple of Christ. However, I do
want to err on the side of the Truth found in the Bible, and what it teaches us, versus our
tendency as humans to speculate… So let’s continue.
If you ask any number of people this same question – What is the soul? — you will likely
get any number of answers. As a curious fact, persons replying to this question are
compelled to immediately elaborate on their initial answer, as if to qualify their first
thought. It would seem that the soul is something that needs more consideration. This
might call attention to our “need to expound” (human nature), when begin to consider
that no single, exact, simple explanation of “what the soul is” truly satisfies one’s mind –
perhaps better stated – “satisfies the understanding of one’s soul”.
We might conclude from this that the soul is something separate from our intellect – and
that our soul is different from our body.
The consequence of our intellect not being satisfied with a single answer (or set of
answers) to explain the soul, must have something to do with the very calling by our soul
for more understanding from this same intellect. Our intellect can discern with some
accuracy (assess/calculate/conclude) what can be determined through our experiences
and senses, but it has a hard time dealing with that which is unresolved by sensual
perceptions, such as faith, hope, love, trust, and so on… This can be as baffling, as trying
to “comprehend” infinity.
Some might conclude that such unresolved perceptions are the responsibility of one’s
spirit. – calling on the spirit’s ability to handle such matters. From this we might derive
that the soul is spirit and the spirit is the soul, but is this really the case? For is says in 1
Corinthians15:44, ”It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a
natural body, and there is a spiritual body.”
Does this imply that we don’t have to be concerned about our soul? This is hardly the
case, for the natural body (soul) and the spiritual body are highly related to our mind, our
heart, and our conscience – and there are eternal consequences to these relationships.
This can be perplexing… For the intellectual side of us wants to define the soul; the
spirit side of us convicts the soul; The emotional, heart side of us desires to understand
the soul; and the lustful side of us allows the use of the soul. Can these be correlated?
The answer is yes, but not exclusively in a worldly realm. How shall we view these
aspects of our so-called humanity, and the connections to our salvation and eternal life?
It’s time for us to turn our focus toward the Lord. For as Believers in Christ, we think
about Him, we are convicted by Him, we trust in Him, we love Him, we fear Him, we
praise Him, we glorify Him, and in all this — we know He has an eternal plan for our
lives that is based on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. With such an acknowledgement in our
lives (faith), we can seek the guidance of our Lord on such questions of the soul –
turning to God for the answers.
“I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your
works, And that my soul knows very well.” (Psalm 139:14)
God’s Word has hundreds of references to the meaning of the soul as a breathing body,
animal life, and the functions and qualities of we have as human beings. We might
conclude from this that there are considerations for the soul of mortality and immortality.
However, we cannot escape the fact that there are eternal ramifications for our mortal
actions here on earth, and the impact these have to our soul. Indeed, we ought to be
concerned about our soul.
“And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him
who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matthew 10:28)
From this we can infer (revealed to us) that our soul is something very precious, worth
taking care of, and although we are unworthy, our soul is worth preserving in holy
righteousness as faithful servants of Christ. As such, our “complete being” needs to
follow the example of Christ.
“So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on
immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: Death is swallowed
up in victory.” (1 Corinthians 15:54)
You might choose to conclude that exercising the soul is what we do every day as we
approach God in faith and love – understanding that His love, grace, and mercy flow
through our lives. Another way to look at this is that our soul is the object of the Holy
Spirit, where in our current state of humanity, we have chosen to accept Christ in our
lives, repent of our sins, and be obedient to God. In this regard, our soul is the recipient
of our obedience to God and the salvation that only comes through faith in Jesus Christ.
Perhaps it makes more sense to say, “It is God that exercises our soul”, for we are His –
even unto death.
“Behold, all souls are Mine; The soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is
Mine; The soul who sins shall die.” (Ezekiel 18:4)
We must realize that it is God that is in control, and we are to be good stewards of the
soul given us. We ought not to take for granted that which God has created. For God
made all living beings, including all creatures of the earth, and He chose to give us life.
“And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his
nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” (Genesis 2:7)
Regardless our understanding (or intellectual doctrinal bias) of these relationships of
spirit, body, soul, and mind — when we put our faith and trust in God, we know that
our soul is comforted – we may not be able to explain it in theological terms – we just
know it! This is the consequence of the soul superseding the mind. This is the trust we
have in God that comes from the faith we have placed in Jesus Christ, which calls us for a
purpose, and helps us to understand the things we can comprehend, and all that we cannot
comprehend. In total, this is the sanctifying process we find ourselves in – that of
growing in Christ.
This is part of the mystery of our being transformed in Christ, for it says in Romans 12:2,
“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the
renewing of your mind.”
Realize that in this life, our soul plays a significant role in carrying out the commandment
that Jesus gave in Matthew 22:37. “Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your
God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’” (Matthew
Take this commandment seriously in your Christian walk in life. Take to heart the
significance of your soul, and God’s desire for you to mindfully present yourselves in full
devotion to Him.
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies
a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.” (Romans
To reflect on the questions addressed at the start of this message… Is your soul worth
exercising? What is your soul? Perhaps the above has served to stimulate your thinking
and understanding of the soul as it relates to your being – your life – a life that God
breathed into existence.
In closing, let me show you a soulful object in the night sky that astronomers call “The
Soul Nebula”. This is an emission nebula named ic1848. This object has been optimally
placed by God next to “The Heart Nebula”, named ic1805. Below is a wide-field astroimage
of this heavenly object, which is sometimes referred to as “The Fetus Nebula”.
The “Soul” nebula is a glorious object for us to behold, as it represents the sanctity of
The astro- image above was taken last year from my Sagrada Observatory here in Las Cruces.
In fact, this particular image is a mosaic of 4 individual images seamlessly brought
together to show the scope of this rather large object.
As a point of interest, I took the liberty to show the similarities in the Soul Nebula image
above, to that of the human photo below. I think it’s a striking comparison and a
reminder that we are all witness to God’s Creation – both in the heavens, and here on
earth. This little guy pictured below is only 54 days old! God’s creation is amazing!
One question you might have… Does this little creature have a soul? This may be better
left for another discussion, or perhaps left to these questions: What does your heart tell
you? What do you feel in your soul?
Just like you, God knew you before you were in your mother’s womb. “Before I formed
you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you
a prophet to the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:5) This verse in Jeremiah affirms our
understanding of the omniscience of God. Yes… Just as God knew Jeremiah, He knows
everything about you and me – and just as God had a plan for Jeremiah — God has set
you aside for a special task.
As you get ready for the week ahead, exercising your soul, recommit to be obedient to
God, and make it your commitment that “You shall love the LORD your God with all
your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.”
May the Lord place someone in your path this week to share the Good News of Jesus
Have a great week!
Your brother in Christ,
The Lord has blessed us with another beautiful day! Take a look around – notice
anything special as you awoke this morning? Of Course! You were able to open your
eyes and SEE!!!
We take “little things” like our sight for granted – don’t we? That is, until we no longer
have our sight! What would you do if you could no longer see – if you were blind?
Unfortunately, this is a physical reality for many in this world, and a very scary prospect
for most of us to consider. By God’s grace, we are blessed with all kinds of abilities
(including our sight) which allow us to see and enjoy the intricate splendor of God’s
creation around us. Praise the LORD for His mercy and grace!
Early in the morning, I enjoy looking outside and seeing the activity at our bird feeder.
Each day brings a new flutter of feathered friends, coming and going – displaying their
in-flight antics as they approach and land at the bird feeder. There’s no Air Traffic
Controller on duty, but nonetheless a highly orchestrated event. It’s truly amazing how
these slight creatures are able to move about with such speed, precision, and perfection –
God’s miracle of flight on display – the best air show in town!
During this organized “feeding frenzy” that takes place each day, I’ll sometimes hear the
distant and mysterious “hoot” of an owl (probably up on the roof, looking at the feeder –
licking his chops). There has always been a mystique surrounding the owl… I wonder…
Is it “true” what they say about owls… Are they are full of “wisdom”?
I’m not sure about “owlish wisdom”, but I can show you a “heavenly owl” that might
“give a hoot” about your day! You see… Perched in the night sky, shedding its light
toward earth, is a heavenly body that boasts big eyes and a round face. It’s located in the
night sky near the bottom of the Big Dipper. This “cosmic fowl” is shown in the image
below, which was recently taken from our JMSM Observatory.
This object resides in our own Milky Way Galaxy, and is commonly called “The Owl
Nebula”, and technically named M97 — a Planetary Nebula. It is some 2,600 light years
distant from our earth. This glowing gaseous shell is the result of a dying sun-like star
that is now compressed to a very dense hot star condition, which now illuminates the gas
cloud that surrounds it. Note the bluish color of the central star…
Can you see the owl-like-face within this planetary nebula?
Our Cosmic Owl may be hard to make out at such great distance, as shown in the widefield
image above. Let’s move in for a “closer” look in the magnified image below.
Note the surrounding background galaxies in both field of views… Each of these “tiny”
galaxies contain upward to billions of stars!
Well… It might take the wisdom of an owl to figure out how astronomers use their
imagination to come up with all the earthly names for these heavenly objects! But then,
we are all witness to His Creation… Perhaps God is touching their hearts?
Here’s a question for you… Where did the owl get its wisdom? It’s interesting that
most of this “perceived wisdom” comes from worldly perceptions and cultural roots that
range from the owl having supernatural knowledge in some Indian cultures, to the owl
symbolizing messengers of the gods, as in some parts of Japanese culture. Such is the
worldly perception of wisdom. – at least concerning the owl.
But what is the truth about wisdom? Let’s take a brief look at these two terms – “truth”
and “wisdom”. It might be worthwhile to consider what Webster’s says: It states that
“truth” is a fact or reality that has been verified; and that “wisdom” is accumulated
knowledge or enlightenment. Sounds reasonable… But what does the Bible say about
truth and wisdom? Let’s take a brief look at how God’s Word enlightens us on the reality
of these multifaceted terms, and as Christians, how they relate and may apply to our daily
It seems good that in order to understand wisdom, that from a Godly perspective, we
must first understand the Truth.
Do you remember how in John 18:38, Pilate asked Jesus, “What is the truth?” Clearly,
Pilate was stuck on worldly truth. Isn’t it amazing that Pilate was looking directly into
the face of Truth, yet he was still perplexed! This may help us to understand that there is
a worldly truth and a Godly truth. As with Pilate, it can be difficult for we Christians to
sometimes distinguish between the two in our daily lives. To be clear however, we know
that this Truth we speak of is Jesus for as it says in John 14:6, “Jesus said to him, ‘I am
the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
As Christians, the reality of the worldly truth that we perceive, is that which is
transcended by the Godly truth we find in the Bible. It is the Godly truth that affirms the
worldly truth – not the other way around. Listen to what Paul says in 1 Thessalonians
2:13, “When you received from us the word of God’s message, you accepted it not as
the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its
work in you who believe.”
Therefore, in a Christian context, we need to follow Godly truth with discernment as
applied to what we know as worldly truth. In this regard, our priorities need to be
focused on God and the Truth that is found in His Word, as it can be applied in our daily
lives. Jesus knew the importance of focusing on the truth – for Jesus is the Truth. Recall
how many times Jesus stated, “I tell you the truth,“ Note how Jesus calls our
attention to the truth in John 8:31, “To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said,
“If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the
truth, and the truth will set you free.”
We could go on about how the Bible talks about truth. In fact, truth is referenced over
200 times in the Bible! Something you may wish to explore in your spare time…
The key point here is that understanding God’s truth helps to yield Godly wisdom. This
is more than just accumulating knowledge. For Godly wisdom is the result of trusting in
God’s truth. Not only trusting it, but applying it! When we do this, we gain in both
knowledge and in wisdom. This serves to enhance every aspect of our life.
Having a form of Godly wisdom is indeed a plus, for it allows us to avoid many of the
snares encountered in the world. With Godly wisdom comes discernment, and the
willingness to allow the Holy Spirit to work in our lives. I like what it says in Luke
12:12, “For the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.”
When we exercise our Godly wisdom, combined with other gifts we have received, we
discover that our lives are built on a solid foundation of the Truth, where the forces of
evil find it difficult to prevail against us.
Godly wisdom also encourages us to seek God’s truth, which further strengthens our
ability to persevere and endure. Listen to what it says in James 1:12, “Blessed is the man
who preserves under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the
crown of life that God has promised to those who live him.”
Godly wisdom also carries significant responsibility, for we have accepted a calling.
That calling requires us to be faithful to the One that has shown us the Truth. For we
have been baptized by one Spirit into one body (1 Corinthians 12) – the Body of Christ.
This more than implies that we should flee from our sinful nature. For having accepted
Christ, although we are in the world, we are no longer of the world.
This Godly wisdom also allows us to exhibit our eternal qualities of unity in Christ Jesus
by loving one another, fulfilling our call to service, worshiping and giving praise to the
Lord, and sharing the Good News of Jesus. In all this, we commit to be obedient to God.
If you have some time… reflect on how God’s truth has impacted your life, and how it
has helped to develop your Godly wisdom. Remember, it is not enough to simply add
these understandings of truth and wisdom to your “Christianity” — it’s important to apply
them, and continually assess how God is working in your life. In your sanctifying
process of gaining Godly wisdom, know that you are a new creation in Christ.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away;
behold, all things have become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
In all this, get connected with the fact that Jesus will come again – soon! So be active in
what He commanded for us to do — just as He commanded His disciples:
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the
Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I
have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
As you prepare for the busy week ahead, take time to “see” what God has placed before
you, and regardless the hardships, recognize the many blessings in your life. In all that
you do, be “wise as an owl” by exercising your Godly wisdom. Allow the Holy Spirit to
energize your soul as you seek God’s Truth, and always be obedient to God as He reveals
to you His perfect loving will.
May the Lord place someone in your path this week to share the Good News of Jesus
Christ – our Lord and Savior. Amen!
Have a great week!
Your brother in Christ,
The Lord has blessed us with another beautiful day here in Las Cruces! The clouds are
passing through, and over the weeks, the temperatures are slowly climbing. The “ground
hog” in me says, “Winter is over”. It’s great to wake up and sense that Springtime is on
the way! Isn’t it nice the way God gives us a “sense of hope” for what is to come.
Praise the Lord this special day!
In fact – it’s a privilege to wake up in this country where the flag of freedom flies high.
What a beautiful and glorious day it is — where freedom resides! Have you ever stopped
to consider how our country got that way? Here is a little quiz for you to ponder: Do
these quotes look familiar?
“It is impossible to righty govern a nation without God and the Bible.”
“It is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his
will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favors.”
These words were spoken by our 1st President – George Washington. In fact, as I write this, today is his
Like many of our “founding fathers”, George Washington knew that in order for our
country to survive and prosper, its people needed to consider God in all that was done in
order to build this great nation called America. Praise the Lord for the wisdom of men
such as George Washington.
As it is often said, “Freedom isn’t free”. Sometimes it is necessary to fight to keep our
freedom. This morning, take some time to give thanks to our men and women in uniform
for their sacrifice in helping to keep our nation free. Give thanks to our Lord for the
“father of our nation”, George Washington – that he had the strength and courage, vision
and Godly wisdom to help lead our country toward what it is today.
There is another kind of Father we need to thank – our Heavenly Father. How is it that
we give thanks to our Heavenly Father? The first thing that probably comes to your mind
is that we talk to God in prayer. But how should we pray? This is not a new question.
Listen to what happened in Luke 11. (somewhat different in Matthew 6)
“Now it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that
one of His disciples said to Him, ’Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his
disciples.’ So He said to them, ‘When you pray, say:
Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name.
Thy kingdom come,Thy will be done. On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us day by day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And do not lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’ “
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen!
(This last part of the prayer is the “doxology” – simply, a praise to God, included by most
Christians faiths. It is not present in either Luke or Matthew.)
We know this as “The Lord’s Prayer”, and it’s a good prayer to memorize. I find myself
expressing this prayer multiple times each day as part of my desire to “talk with God”–
making known to the one true God the petitions of my heart. If this prayer expresses
what is in your heart as well, let it be part of your daily prayers too.
The Scripture continues in Luke, and Jesus encourages his disciples in verse 9, “So I say
to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be
opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who
knocks it will be opened.” As Jesus taught his disciples, so He teaches us.
Have you noticed that many times when we memorize Scripture, we are able to “say it by
wrote”, but sometimes we lose sight of its meaning, as applicable to our prayers and
what we are actually expressing to God. In that regard, let’s take a closer look at The
Lord’s Prayer above, which Jesus is encouraging us to pray.
“Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name.” We have all had earthly fathers,
but isn’t it great that we also have a Father in Heaven! A Father that accepts us as we
are, and assures us of His love. This implies a relationship – a personal relationship with
God. Not just God, but God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit – the triune nature of
The name “Father” also tells us that we are His children. 1 John 3:1. “Behold what
manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God.”
The term “Heaven” expresses the eternal presence of God, and tells us something of His
majesty and presence, and His all-mighty power – our one true God!
The term “Hallowed” here expresses God’s Holiness. That is… We proclaim God to be
Holy, and we are to keep His name Holy. See if you can find a verse in the Bible where
it says, “Holy, holy, holy – is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of His glory.”
“Your kingdom come. Your will be done. On earth as it is in heaven.” This speaks
of our “hope” and our faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. By expressing this, we humbly
place God in the center of our life, and ask that “His will” be done in and through our
lives. This expresses our desire to be obedient to God – not just when we get to Heaven,
but on earth here as well. God’s loving desire is for us to know Him, to obey commands,
and gain knowledge of His Truths. 1 Timothy 2:3-4, “For this is good and acceptable in
the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and come to the knowledge
of the truth.” We submit ourselves in obedience, asking God to help us be holy, as He is
Holy. By this, we are asking God to restore us. Lamentations 5:21, “Turn us back to
You, O Lord, and we will be restored.”
“Give us day by day our daily bread.” When we say this, we express our deep trust in
God – that He will meet our daily needs in life – regardless the personal situations we
encounter in life. In Matthew 6:25-34, God teaches us not to worry about what tomorrow
brings — for He knows what we need. In verses 30-34 it says, “Therefore, do not worry,
saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What what we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the
pagans seek after all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you have need of
all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all thee
things will be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will
worry about itself. Sufficient for each day is its own trouble.”
“And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” Here
we are asking God to reconcile our sins, and we also commit to forgive others. This is
not a tic-for-tac request of God, but our true desire to give, as we have received. We
confess before God that we are sinners and in need of forgiveness, and we express to God
our willingness to forgive others. Romans 3:23, “For we all have sinned and fall short of
the glory of God.” Here we are asking for God’s grace and mercy – His forgiveness that
we may be cleansed. In effect, we place our faith in Him – that He may to do this for us.
1 John 1:9. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous – he forgives our sins and
purifies us from all unrighteousness.”
“And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” Here we are
asking God to give us strength to battle the evil one – Satan. We know that Satan fills
our lives with his lies and deception – tempting us at every turn in life. We are asking
God to help us rise above temptation, that we may be obedient to His Commandments
and His Word. We are asking that our free will not fall into temptation, and our desires
will be that of obedience to God – that He will provide a way out of temptation and never
gives us more than we can handle. 1 Corinthians 10:12-13, “God is faithful, who will not
permit you to be tempted more than what you are able, but with the temptation he will
also make a way of escape, so you are able to bear it.”
This does not mean we will not have hardships in our life – we must understand that
bearing under hardships is part of life. However, in all we go through in life, it’s
important to have a healthy “fear of the Lord”. Psalm 108:8-12, “The Lord is merciful
and gracious; Slow to anger and abounding in loving kindness. He will not always
contend with us; nor will he keep his anger forever. He has not dealt with us according to
our sins; Nor has he repaid us according to our perversities. For like the height of the
heavens over the earth, His loving kindness prevails over those who fear him. As far as
the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”
While we are in the body, we pray to God that He will deliver us from evil. God will
indeed deliver us from evil someday. Be confident of your deliverance through your
faith in Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:6-8, “Therefore being confident at all times, and
knowing that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord – for we walk
by faith not by sight – we are, then, of good courage, and we prefer rather to depart from
the body and be at home with the Lord.”
The very evils we ask to be delivered from are those we encounter in this world.
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.
This is the doxology of the prayer – essentially giving praise to our almighty, omniscient
God. We confirm this by saying Amen.
We say “Amen” after a lot of our prayers. We can use this in the context of our heart,
expressing: Agreement; Endorsement of Praise; Truthfulness of Scripture; Faithfulness
of God; and that which was Spoken by Christ.
Perhaps it’s fitting to show the lyrics written by Thomas Ken, 1674 – the beautiful hymn
Doxology. Do you know the tune? If so – take a minute and sing it now – it will fill
your heart throughout the day!
Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye Heavenly Host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen.
Didn’t that feel good!
As I think about the blessings that flow in our lives, and that which God has given to our
great nation, I would like to share with you a “wide-field” astro-image of an object called
“The North American Nebula”, shown here.
Can you see the outline of North America? This object is technically called ngc7000 and
is located in northern part of the night sky in the constellation of Cygnus – about 1,600
light years from our Earth.
The Bible says that God is Light; 1 John 1:5, “This is the message we have heard from
him and declared to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.”
As you reflect on the image above, and the unique shape of the beautiful nebula, consider
our Heavenly Father, and the magnificent Light that He fills our lives with each and
every day. Consider our essential belief that there is but one Father.
“There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling;
one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and
through all, and in you all.” Ephesians 4: 4-6 NKJV
How should we pray to our Heavenly Father? Take the words of Jesus to heart, and find comfort in praying
“The Lord’s Prayer” – embracing with sincerity all its meaning — expressed deeply from
within your heart. May God richly bless you this day.
Have a great week folks!
Your Brother in Christ,
For some reason, God has placed the ocean on my mind this morning… Probably
because I grew up by the ocean. As a young boy, I used to climb out on the rocky shore
and watch the ocean for hours on end. I never tired of this fascinating sight. I was
constantly intrigued by the ocean’s every changing nature, and the power it displayed as
the waves crashed against the massive rocks. The tidal pools held a special treat as they
were always teaming with some kind of sea life – the colorful sea urchins were my
favorite… Long before I accepted Christ in my life, I knew I was witnessing something
Forgive me for using some sea-going metaphors here in the middle of beautiful Las
Cruces, but let’s proceed to have some fun with the ocean, along with some serious
considerations about what God is doing in our life. Here goes…
Ahoy Mate! Your crusty ole’ shipmate here! Such might be the greeting from the deck
this morning as you roll out of the sack and prepare to hoist sails – getting your ship
ready for the day’s journey. This is no small task if you’re are a crew of one!
Fortunately, God realizes that we need help preparing for the day, as we get underway
and make ready our plans for navigating through the busy day. Where will your journey
take you today?
No matter where your travels take you, you can be sure of one thing — God will be there
with you. God is omnipresent and all knowing, and His Spirit lives within those who
have accepted His Son. Even through the most perilous times, He will help to guide you
through even the narrowest of straights in life. You can count on the fact that God’s
Word reveals the Truth about the past, present, and the glory that is to come. God’s
Creation speaks of His divine nature, and without excuse, we are all witnesses to His
glory and wonder – His laws written in our hearts. God has created all things in heaven
and on earth, and knows each star by name. As if this were not enough, He sent His Son
Jesus as a living sacrifice for you and me, that through faith in Him, we as sinners might
be saved and have eternal life. Let us all consider all what God has done for us, and give
Him praise this morning.
What does God ask in return? Listen to what it says in Deuteronomy 10:12-13, “And
now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your
God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the LORD your God with all your
heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments of the LORD and His
statutes which I command you today for your good?”
To be clear, God doesn’t force us do anything (although He could). Rather, in trust and
obedience, God desires us to do His will according to the free will He has given us. Just
as clear, if we go our own way, we must be prepared to accept the consequences. Do you
Let’s look at this in a different light. If we were to board a cruise ship, we immediately
place our blind trust in the ship’s captain – trusting in him to keep the ship on course and
to keep us safe. How is it that we so easily put our trust in the captain piloting the ship?
The truth is we exercise this worldly kind of trust every day in many of the things we do
By contrast, when we willingly give our life to Christ, we place our trust in God and
place Him at the helm of our lives – no longer carrying the burden of blind trust, for we
know the Truth and why we are saved. This represents a Christ-centered life. When we
trust in God, we are saying that we fear Him, that we desire to walk in His ways, that we
love Him, that we will observe His commands. In all this, God wants us to be a humble
servant as we wisely exercise our worldly trust, in full accordance with our Godly trust.
It’s true that sometimes we desire to do things our own way, ignoring God in our life (a
self-centered life – piloting our own ship). This may work for a “season”, but many
times it results in our being misguided into stormy weather – left with little hope except
to change our course, and turn back to God. Does this pattern sound familiar?
“Piloting your own ship” can be fun, and for a time, it can seem rewarding (although
sometimes deceiving). It sure feels great when we are in control and everything is going
well. But life can change in a heartbeat, and without God in the forefront of our lives, we
can easily sail off-course as we simply forgot about God!
Since our free will allows us such freedom, staying on-course in life can be a major
challenge. So ask yourself this question: “Who do I want to be at the helm of my life –
me or God?
Joshua 24:15 gives some perspective with regard to this question: “And if it seems evil to
you to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the
gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the
Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the
Joshua had it right, for the Israelites had a massive challenge ahead of them. So we too
have a challenge in our life, but the difference is that we have a Redeemer, He lives –
and His name is Jesus! Hallelujah! “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens
me.” Philippians 4: 13
Despite our knowledge of the Truth, many times we find ourselves in situations (usually
of our own making) that test our ability to discern which way to turn — to either “trust in
God” or “turn to our instincts”. Just as in Joshua’s time, we must decide whom we will
serve. The choices we make reflect our trust in God.
Since we have a Redeemer, we as Christians know that the Holy Spirit is alive and
working in our lives, helping to guide us through the “trials of life”. But the question is,
“Do we listen to the Holy Spirit?” How about you, does your heart listen to what the
Holy Spirit is telling you? Does the Holy Spirit help you to stay on-course as you
navigate the oceans of your life?
It’s interesting that much of our life is made up of events and experiences – our “sea
stories” as it were — our personal testimony. Equally interesting and unbeknown to us,
are the times in our life when we were guided out of harms way and made it safely back
to port by the shear Grace of God. Did you realize that God was there with you in those
circumstances? Contrast that with the times when you acknowledged that “God was
there with you”? Such is the gathering of events that make up our life’s story – our
In reality, every life experience – past and present – has meaning and importance. Did
you know that who you are, and what you have done are important to God? It’s easy for
us to think that our testimony is just an ongoing current of life’s events – not much
different than anyone else’s. How wrong it is to think this way, for God created you
uniquely special – part of His perfect plan. Your life experiences are more than a
collection of ”sea stories or a whale’s tale” – they are a genuine reflection of who you
are, representing where you have been, what you have done, where you have arrived, and
the difference that God has made in your life. For all of us, our testimony is a powerful
story indeed… “I once was lost, but now am found.” God’s Amazing Grace!
Your personal story of salvation is a tale truly worth telling. Never underestimate the
power of your testimony, and the “life saving” influence it can have for others! Pray that
God will place you in the path of someone that needs to hear your story, so you may have
the opportunity to share the Good News of Jesus.
In any case, there will come a judgment, and like it or not, we all must “each give our
testimony” someday before the Lord – everyone who ever lived! Romans 14:12, “So
then each of you shall give an account of himself to God.” Paul states this more strongly
in 2 Timothy 4:1, “I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will
judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom… ” It’s not too bold to
say to you, that these are the last days, and these are serious times we are living in. Walk
a straight path and prepare yourself for the coming of the Lord.
I recall a short testimony that was given at a Willow Creek Conference by Wayne
Cordeiro, Pastor of New Hope Christian Fellowship Church in Hawaii. He tells of a time
when he went out surfing by himself, near the area called Diamond Head. As he put it,
he needed some quiet time alone.
He paddled out a few hundred yards beyond the breakers to wait for the “Big Surf” to
develop. As he was straddling his surfboard, soaking up the beautiful view looking back
toward Diamond Head, he suddenly became aware of something grazing his leg, and then
he saw it — a fin, breaking the surface of the water — circling around him. The glare off
the ocean was too bright to make out the shape of this “unwelcome guest”. All he could
think of was Shark! The reality started to sink in, and his mind was consumed by the
danger he was in.
As he tells it, immediate fright overtook him as he realized he was too far out to escape
what was sure to be a violent shark attack. All alone, he found himself face-to-face with
what he believed to be a Great White Shark – not uncommon in these waters. His heart
pounded as thoughts raced through his mind. How can I defend myself? What if I don’t
make it? What about my Family, my church? Anxiety and fear engulfed him as he
braced for the worse that was about to happen…
As the seconds passed, gripping fear began to overtake him, and he started to panic… At
the height of that very moment, as being caught by a snare, out of the water surfaced a
familiar looking sight, and he realized immediately that it was a porpoise – a friendly
mammal. He also knew from experience, that where there were porpoises, there were
typically no sharks. His senses still peaked… Slowly he began to calm down and collect
Then it hit him… The fact that he didn’t do what he preached so well and effectively
every Sunday to the thousands of people that attended his mega-church: “In all
situations – no matter what – turn to God and put your trust in the Lord!” His head
dropped — he thought how quickly he had fallen back on his worldly instincts.
In those moments of panic and self-preservation, he realized he had failed to put his trust
in God. As he quickly paddled back to shore, calling it a day, he thought deeply about
how in his time of need, he withdrew into the world, and totally forgot about seeking
God. Safely on shore he said, “Next time I’ll turn to the Lord.” What an experience,
what a self-revelation – what a testimony!
Has anything that dramatic ever happened in your life? Have you ever displaced God
with your worldly instincts for survival? Although it may not have been a “shark”
encounter, I’m sure that for some of you, the answer is yes – I know that I have. Some
might say, “That’s part of the way God has wired us — for survival.” To some extent, but
the fact is, in everything we do, we are under God’s Grace and Mercy, and according to
His will, He will protect us and lift us out of the depths of the deepest despair in our
moment of our need. This applies to everyone that calls on the name of the Lord. “Ah
Lord GOD! behold, you have made the heaven and the earth by your great power and
stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for you:” Jeremiah 32:17
What do you think we can all learn from Wayne’s experience, and his testimony?
Although it goes against our worldly grain, Proverbs 3:5-6 gives us some answers, “Trust
in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your
ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.”
Back to our sea stories… Remember the story of Jonah and the whale, and how he came
to realize a need to turn to God. Jonah 2:7-9, “When my soul fainted within me, I
remembered the LORD; And my prayer went up to You, Into Your holy temple. ‘Those
who regard worthless idols forsake their own Mercy. But I will sacrifice to You with the
voice of thanksgiving; I will pay what I have vowed. Salvation is of the LORD.’ “
This is not just a “whale’s tale”, but a pertinent example of how turning to God, trusting
in God, seeking God, relying on God, and how being obedient to God can impact the
outcome of events and lives. Have you ever wondered how you may have impacted the
lives of those you encountered?
Without a doubt, your life has certainly impacted others! If you have the chance, I
encourage you to take the time to write your testimony (your story) down on paper. This
is a good way to organize your thoughts. When you do, not only will it be an inspiration
for others, but it will be an inspiration for you when you realize how far you have come.
Need some reinforcement? Be strengthened by what it says in 2 Corinthians 5:17,
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old is gone, the new has
come.” Indeed, your testimony is story for all to hear.
Before I close, can I tell you “A Whale’s Tale”? A “Cosmic Whale” that is… Take a
look at the close-up of this “sea-going creature” in the image below.
This image above shows what we might call an unusual galaxy in the vast depths of the
universe. In fact, astronomers have given this object the name “The Whale Galaxy”. This
diffused edge-on galaxy is technically named M108 and resides some 45 million light
years distant from our earth., in the Constellation of Ursa Major – better known as the
Big Dipper. I took this image a few weeks ago from our remote robotic JMSM
Observatory near Mayhill, NM.
Can you see the myriad of other galaxies in the background – look at the wide-field
image below. The prominent feature of this galaxy is the unique dust structure extending
across the galaxy formation.
Don’t expect this cosmic whale to surface anytime soon, as God has it placed exactly
where He wants it to be! It’s a joy to behold such wonder in God’s Creation – His Glory
on display for all to see. If you are interested, further below is a wide-field image of this
Psalm 19:1, “The heavens declare the glory of the Lord.”
As the week comes to a close, be safe, stay close to God, and have a great weekend!
Your brother in Christ,