Friday, August 19, 2022

The August Colorado Adventures (In Pictures)

Unable to make it out to Colorado for my birthday this year (July 5th), we were delighted to arrange for a later trip for the 2nd week of August -- one that involved another 14er climb, a few other wonderful hikes, pleasant morning coffees and late evening conversations on the condo deck, and a couple of marvelous days shared with dear friends Ron & Linda Scheffler and Mark & Benita Fichter. 

Here are a few photos beginning with a view of the ridge west of Frisco 
taken from Sapphire Point.

On the trail to Rainbow Lake, we took this photo of the wildflowers 
adorning the view looking north.

Next is a photo from Rainbow Lake itself.

Next is a photo of Claire near a lovely, gurgling stream near the River Run condo where we stayed the first 4 nights of the trip.

I was honored to once again hike the Colorado mountains with distinguished Christian brothers Ron and Mark. This photo was taken just west of Hoosier Pass and it shows the dramatic outline of Mt. Quandary in the background.

Oh, if only my camera could truly capture the thrilling beauty of this scene!
It is taken looking west from Hoosier Pass.

Okay, now for a few photos from the Mt. Quandary climb:
First, the mountain as seen from Highway 9 a few miles south of Breckenridge.

Next a serene view taken early in the trek.

Things eventually get a bit steeper and more rugged.

Until, at long last, the summit makes its awesome, ominous shape clear.

But with the great grace of Christ, I managed to make
 the summit of my 5th Colorado 14er.

What a grand experience! Thank You, Lord.

Wednesday, August 03, 2022

Thoughts on Psalm 140

As I've previously explained here on the blog and on my Facebook page, I have been richly blessed in recent months in reflecting on certain Scriptures along with a few friends. 

Our approach is simple enough – read the selected Bible book or passage, study it in whatever depth one has time for, consider personal applications of the text, and then post a few of one's own reflections on an email thread. Thus, everyone in the group (there have been 8-12 of us invited to that thread) can benefit. Using this method we have so far explored the Book of Esther, then Habakkuk, and now we're looking at three successive Psalms: 139, 140, and 141.

The invitation still stands for others who might want to join in. And with that introduction to the exercise, here's my latest on Psalm 140.

Dear friends,

While awaiting further responses to Psalm 139, Claire and I are also moving on to Psalm 140, one of those imprecatory psalms that unbelievers find so scandalous.  “How can a spiritual person pray for harsh judgment against others?” they ask.  And thus, standing in judgment of the Holy Scriptures, they defend unbelief and spiritual pride.  They assume that these imprecatory psalms and the Bible teachings on judgement, hell, etc., prove that they themselves are more compassionate and just and loving than is God Himself.  And then, having dismissed conviction, they conveniently dismiss all biblical matters and go their own way. Too bad.

Anyway, I’ll make my response to this spiritual exercise by doing two things. First of all, to share a perspective on praying against the wicked, I post a link to a brief essay I originally wrote 2 years ago for the blog. It’s entitled “Praying God’s Arrows Will Fly.” 

And secondly, stemming from this morning’s reading of Psalm 140, I give you 4 quick prayers that are applications for my life today.

1) Lord, as we take our stand against abortion outside Planned Parenthood today, please deliver us from “violent men who devise evil things in their heart.”  Rescue us from abortion zealots who hate us for our winsome witness for You -- whether they are employees, escorts, counter demonstrators, angry passersby, and so on.

2) Father, please protect me from those traps and nets and snares the enemy has set for me.  Guard me and guide my every step.  Keep me in humble dependence upon Your Holy Spirit so that I do only Your will and keep myself pure in heart, firm in the Faith, and obedient to Your every teaching. Don't let the devil steal my confidence, focus, joy, purity, focus, or any other blessing.

3) Father, defeat the schemes of the devil and his minions in our nation.  Let them not succeed but, in fact, let frustration, shame, and scandal be the outcome of their actions against You and Your anointed.

4) Keep ever in my mind, Lord, that You are righteous and just and all-powerful.  You WILL judge the wicked in holiness.  You WILL “maintain the cause” of Your people and reward them in due season.  Let me hold fast to Your promises, Your character, and Your enabling power to live always for You.

Monday, August 01, 2022

Writing Persecuted Christians

In recent days I have posted a few of the letters from the latest Vital Signs Ministries letter-writing party...and I have briefly described in those posts why and how we conduct this important ministry of advocacy and encouragement.

Well, there is another audience that we frequently address in these quarterly meetings and that consists of the persecuted believers listed by Voice of the Martyrs website. We so appreciate VOM's efforts to serve those imprisoned and otherwise persecuted simply because they serve Jesus Christ. And we believe that the wonderful procedure they have created to write letters -- in the prisoner's own language! -- is a blessing beyond measure. 

I post below a sample letter from those we sent out last week. (By the way, our cards and letters to these dear saints are always in cards or on stationary that includes inspirational scenery because we want to add beauty to the blessings of encouraging content.)

Dear -----

When one part of the body suffers the whole body suffers. Many Christians around the world are standing with you. The Lord is your shepherd and He will be with you. I pray you feel the arms of our Lord surrounding you.

John 14:1 "Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me."

Romans 8:18 "For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us."

Revelation 21:4 "And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away."

To see how it works (including how the phrases and Scriptures YOU select for the body of your letter are translated), simply follow this link.