"...help those who are oppressed..."
"Stop all this evil that I see you doing. Yes, stop doing evil and learn to do right. See that justice is done-help those who are oppressed, give orphans their rights, and defend widows." (Isaiah 1:16-17)
Since last Friday I've been keenly aware of the "have's" and "have not's." Everywhere people are gathered folks can be heard asking one another,
"Do you have power?" The violent storm that raged through the area Friday evening left unbelievable devastation in its wake. I've felt a little strange answering that question, maybe even a little embarrassed, because I'm one of the "have's." Our power was not interrupted so we've been able to paint our new parsonage and unpack from the recent move in the comfort of a cool house.
It's a strange mixture of feelings to be aware of one's blessings while others are struggling. It's a rumbling blend of helplessness, guilt, sadness, and embarrassment as well as relief and joy. How can I not feel relief when
Blog Posts by Dr. Gary Nelson
"...help those who are oppressed..."Read More »from Oppressed
"Watch for the new thing..."Read More »from New Thing
"Watch for the new thing I am going to do. It is happening already-you can see it now! I will make a road through the wilderness and give you streams of water there." (Isaiah 43:19)
So what now? Ever have that feeling? This is one of the last of way too many boxes that I've taped and opened to prepare for filling. With each one I've had that same thought - "So what now?" The emptiness of the boxes reminds me of the unknown we face each time we make a transition. I'm writing this as I spend the last few hours as pastor of Sand Hill United Methodist Church. Next week when I write I'll be the pastor of Cross Lanes United Methodist Church.
The unknown in our transitions can illicit a variety of responses, everything from fear to excitement. It's easy for transitions to evoke our fear, and with it our prejudices, hurt, paralysis, and even anger. When we stare into the empty box and see only emptiness our fear can cause us to hurt our selves and others and
"...be eager to show respect..."Read More »from Listening and Respect
"Love one another warmly as Christians, and be eager to show respect for one another." (Romans 12:10)
It all began with a simple question I posed to the lobsterman whose home I was visiting. "Would you mind if I took a picture of your stack of buoys?' He and his wife were hosting a birthday party for a friend of ours, but I had never met the couple before pulling into their driveway. "Why sure," the salty fisherman answered. "You can take all the pictures you want," and with a gleam in his eye added, "And maybe you'd like a tour of the trap shop!" "Sure," I said, not knowing for certain if his offer was legitimate or just some landlubber initiation rite.
Later that afternoon he asked if I was ready for my tour, so we descended into the basement that housed the trap shop. As we started down the steps he began an earnest, detailed description of the process by which raw materials are turned into finished lobster traps.
He described each part of the
"...a place of safety..."
"The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a place of safety in times of trouble." (Psalm 9:9)
Some of you are saying right about now, "Hey, I've seen this picture before!" That's because you're looking at a part of the harbor in Rockport, Massachusetts with a red fishing shack in the middle known as, "Motif #1." The Rockport natives advertise it to be the most photographed building in America. (This is actually a reproduction. The original was blown away by the blizzard of 1978.) I served as the pastor of the Rockport United Methodist Church from 1984-89 while I was doing my doctoral work in pastoral counseling at Boston University. Captain Ted and his family were part of the church. Captain Ted owned a large boat that he used for tourist sight-seeing trips, whale watches, and charter fishing trips. I remember him telling stories about the frustration of tourists when they would visit the dock and find the ship tied up with a sign indicating there Read More »from Safety
"...her beauty captured his heart."
"Her dainty sandal caught his eye; her beauty captured his heart. Then the sword slashed through his neck." (Judith 16:9)
(A book in the Apocrypha of the Old Testament)
Surely this is one of those faces of which it is often said, "Only a mother could love it." Yet, as I look at this creature I do see such amazing beauty. The patterns and colors are exquisite, right down to those detailed racing stripes right above the menacing claws! I remember from biology classes that these sorts of markings are often meant to either defend the creature with camouflage, and/or aid them in attracting their next meal. In the case of the painted turtle I suspect that the markings aid in hunting because the claws on the end of the legs are used like fileting knives on the prey while the turtle grasps it in its mouth. "Oh look," said the unsuspecting fish, "what a pretty weed," right before it felt the clamping of the jaws and the slashing of the "Freddie Read More »from Beauty?
"...mere mortals..."Read More »from Mere Mortals
"When I look at the sky, which you have made, at the moon and the stars, which you set in their places-
what are human beings, that you think of them; mere mortals, that you care for them? Yet you made
them inferior only to yourself; you crowned them with glory and honor." (Psalm 8:3-5)
It's almost midnight but I found that I could not finish this day without "wondering." I could not conclude one of the most important days of my life without reflecting upon it's impact on my spiritual journey. I could not end this day without saying, "Thank you, God!" At 3:30 this morning Patti and I received the telephone call from our daughter-in-law letting us know that her and our son's first child (and our first grandchild) was about to be born. We jumped in our car and drove the six hours to the hospital, missing the birth of Reese Victoria, but arriving in time for many other "firsts." Needless to say, it has been an exhilarating day!
I couldn't help but think about Psalm
"You may eat the fruit of any tree in the garden, except the tree that gives knowledge of what is good and what is bad. You must not eat the fruit of that tree; if you do, you will die the same day." (Genesis 2:16-17)
"Pass At Own Risk," are the four little words on the sign marking the beginning of the granite breakwater protecting the picturesque harbor in Rockport, Massachusetts. I'm convinced that the the town leaders really wanted to put up a sign that said, "Danger. Do Not Climb on Rocks!" However, knowing how much we hate to be told, "DO NOT," or in the case of God to Adam in the Genesis quote above, "YOU MUST NOT," the town officials reluctantly settled for the sign above. "Pass At Own Risk" really means, "We wanted to put up a sign that said, 'DO NOT CLIMB ON THE ROCKS BECAUSE IT'S EXTREMELY DANGEROUS.' However, knowing such a sign only would make you want to climb on them that much more we settled on this one. If you do get hurt, DON"TRead More »from Blame
"...stretch out their hands..."Read More »from Healing
"If any of your people Israel, out of heartfelt sorrow, stretch out their hands in prayer toward this Temple, hear their prayer. Listen to them in your home in heaven, forgive them, and help them." (I Kings 8:38-39)
Patti came upon this tree during a recent hike we were taking together and called me over to it. She said she thought it might make a good "Wednesday Wonderings." I guess after awhile I've managed to get some of you "wondering" along with me. Anyway, she was right, it is ripe for a "Wonderings." It looks like this tree was somehow bent over several years ago. Instead of breaking, it caught on one of its branches and used it as a support against the rocks. Then, the tree did exactly what it needed to do in order to survive. It stretched its limbs toward the sky to catch the sun. It was difficult for me to find the right angle to take the photo and do the tree justice. It bends up and down horizontally along the rock for about 40 feet and
"...satisfied with ignorance..."Read More »from Ignorance
"When an educated person hears something that shows insight, it stimulates his mind and leads him on to other ideas.
But when someone who is satisfied with ignorance hears it, he won't like it, and will forget it as soon as he can." (Sirach 21:15) (A book in the Apocrypha of the Old Testament.
Last week on our way across the state to do another talk on "teen depression" Patti and I stopped at a park along the route to stretch our legs with a brief hike. Meandering through the woods we came upon this little critter and shared some space with it for a few moments. It fluttered amongst the shadows seeking the warmth of sunlight piercing through the forest's canopy. When it found the light it would pause for a few moments and spread its wings to take in heaven's gift. Now here's the point. I'm confessing my ignorance. I keep calling it an "it" because I don't know what "it" is. I'm not sure if it's a moth or a butterfly. However, I'm not satisfied with
Read More »from Departures
"...carry my body with you..."
"Moses took the body of Joseph with him, as Joseph had made the Israelites solemnly promise to do. Joseph had said,
When God rescues you, you must carry my body with you from this place." (Exodus 13:19)
I love the way God sends me messages. I rarely go looking for a photo or thought for inspiration; instead, they come to me. Yesterday I walked out of the church office and there sitting on the window sill about twenty feet from the door was this little critter. I'm not a bird expert but I knew from the spots and the beginnings of red feathers that it was a fledgling robin not long out of the nest. We shared sort of an awkward moment, with neither of us really knowing what to do next. He decided not to fly away (as most older birds would have done) so I decided to go get my camera. He was gracious enough to wait long enough for me to return and snap a few photos before deciding we'd had our moment and flew off. It's a rather confident pose he's striking,