"... a witness..."
"For you will be a witness for him to tell everyone what you have seen and heard." (Acts 22:15)
We were driving through Davis, West Virginia last Saturday when suddenly Patti said, "Look at that tree in the chimney!" "What?" I replied as I pulled the car over to snap the pictures I knew I had to have in my collection. It was true, bigger than life, or was it? Something nagged at me as I thought about sharing the picture, "Is this real, or a really good hoax, something like an internet gag waiting for me to fall victim and then feel pretty stupid when my naitivy was revealed. So... I hesitated to show the photos.
Then it hit me, "The post office is in that building. Why not call someone in that office and ask them about the tree?" A very friendly gentleman on the other end of the phone was quick to explain that the tree was no hoax. He shared his concern that the tree had been growing there for a couple of years and if something was not done about it pretty soon
Blog Posts by Dr. Gary Nelson
"... a witness..."Read More »from Witness
...ashamed...Read More »from Ashamed
"I write this to you, not because I want to make you feel ashamed, but to instruct you as my own dear children." (I Corinthians 4:14)
Something told me not to get too attached when I discovered this mother goose on her nest a couple of weeks ago. She and her mate had constructed a nice nest on its own little island in the middle of the creek. The mother patiently perched upon the nest while the expectant father hovered a few feet away. Every once in awhile she stood up to reveal the eggs she was safe-keeping.
Then came the rains... and more rains... and more rains.
Today I returned to find the nest abandoned with the waters of the creek flowing almost at the base of the pile of brush the geese had formed to hold their brood. There were no geese to be seen. Frankly, I think the nest was flooded. It looks like the geese picked the wrong spot at the wrong time. They made a mistake, a terrible mistake that apparently cost them dearly.
When the Apostle Paul wrote to the
"...walked in darkness..."Read More »from A Choice
"The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light..." (Isaiah 9:2 & Matthew 4:16)
Patti and I were hiking through the canyons of Zion National Park in Utah when this scene opened before us. The shadowed trail we were traversing was just a turn in the path away from the glorious sun drenched canyon walls before us. So close...
The Light is oh so close... but sometimes seems so far away. In our Christian calendar we proclaimed the coming of the Light at Christmas and now find ourselves wandering through Lent. It struck me that this photo is a good representation of Lent. We see the Light from the darkness of our lives, but now we have to choose to take those last few steps and cross over into the Light in order for its healing and comfort to engulf us. Lent is about choice.
We must make the conscious effort to step into the Light. Fear, anger, cynicism, and even misguided pleasure can keep us on the fringe looking at the Light but not walking in
Read More »from Eagles' Wings
"...wings like eagles..."
"Even youths will faint and be weary, and the young will fall exhausted;but those who wait for 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 40:30-31)
Patti and I were just beginning our trip back home from Richmond, VA on Saturday morning. I had given a "teen depression seminar" the day before. We were both tired and not really looking forward to the long drive ahead, when suddenly, Patti gave out a cry, "I think I just saw a hawk, no, an eagle by the road!" Since it wasn't an interstate highway I was able to quickly turn the car around, and sure enough, there was this beautiful creature. Our whole day was blessed by just that one moment when Patti spotted the eagle.
Life can take such a dramatic change in the fleetest of moments. A rumbling earthquake, a rushing tsunami, or even the gravest of bad news can turn life upside down, inside out, leaving a
"...sets you free..."Read More »from Sets You Free
"If the Son sets you free, then you will be really free." (John 8:36)
Some call it "Shrove Tuesday", others "Pancake Day," and others "the last day of Mardi Gras." As for me, its "Toasty Tuesday." That's because each year on the day before Ash Wednesday I get my blackened metal bucket and wad up inside it all the leftover dried palm branches from the previous Palm Sunday celebration. Then I thoroughly douse it with some charcoal lighter fluid, then add a little more, and then add a little more, and then add a little more... (you get the picture). I stand back a respectful distance, light the match, toss it into the bucket... and WHOOSH...
I love to watch the flames soar into the air, like hands reaching out to heaven. In only a matter of moments the palm limbs that once graced a tree and added to its beauty, limbs that might have provided shade to a passer-by, limbs that eventually helped tell the story of Jesus' triumphant entry into Jerusalem, are now nothing
Read More »from Seek
"Seek the Lord and his strength..."
"Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually."
It was almost exactly five years ago that Patti and I finished our nine months "on the road" and began our trek back to the east coast to begin our new jobs. She had just finished working nine months as a "travel nurse" at a couple of different hospitals while I took a sabbatical to write my book. We began our journey home from Oregon by way of the state of Washington. I took the picture above from the Visitor's Center at Mount St. Helens. The black and white smoke contains the ashes and steam that continue to arise from this active volcano. In 1980 the 12,000 ft. volcano erupted, blowing off about 4,000 ft., roughly a chunk of debris about the size of Spruce Knob, the highest mountain in West Virginia. Below is the 8,000 ft. that's left of Mt. St. Helens.
The picture of the smoldering crater hangs on my office wall along with several others. Sometimes folks comment on
"...waters have come up to my neck."Read More »from Up to my neck...
"Save me, O God, for the waters have come up to my neck."
Once more the heavy rains have flooded the bottom near the creek, threatening to choke the life from the trees that call it home. Rising, muddy waters raise anxiety and fear about damage and destruction. If you've ever lived in a flood-prone area you know that with each encroachment of the waters there come the same sort of questions, "How far will it get this time? Do you think it will reach us this time? Can we endure another flood and the awful mess and heartache the receding waters will leave behind? Will we make it this time?"
It seems there are those who endure frequent "flooding" in their lives from things other than rising storm waters and ask the same questions. "Save me, O God, for the waters have come up to my neck," cries the psalmist when crisis threatens once again. It's difficult when we encounter another who seems prone to flooding, whose life seems overwhelmed
"...release..."Read More »from Release
"My eyes are ever on the LORD, for only he will release my feet from the snare." (Psalm 25:15)
It's probably safe to say that most folks in our country today are ready to cry out to "Old Man Winter" in one united voice of frustration, "Release us!!!!!!!!!" Whew, it's been a rough winter in most parts of the country. I thought about that a few days ago as I watched the icicles on our house begin to thaw and break away. In the split second captured by my camera in the photo above we're witnessing the miraculous "release" of water that had been bound up as ice. The drops oozing from their frozen, suspended state of animation can splat upon the ground, be absorbed into the soil, and once more join in the greater movements of water that help sustain life for God's spectacular creation. Wow!
I continue to be amazed at how easy it is for us to be frozen and imprisoned by our anger, fear, greed, ignorance, anxiety, stubbornness, prejudice, misunderstanding, addiction,
"...did not intend to hurt..."Read More »from Intent
"Or suppose that, without looking, you throw a stone that kills someone whom you did not intend to hurt and who was not your enemy... You are guilty only of manslaughter..." (Numbers 35:23-25)
We spotted him last August as he scurried in and out of the furnace exhaust pipe on the outside of the church sanctuary. He was a cute little chipmunk frenetically moving about and was quickly dubbed, "Chester." We left him a few nuts to munch, went about our business, and saw very little of him during the rest of the summer. He remained a pleasant, humorous memory... until...
A couple of weeks ago I walked into the sanctuary before a scheduled event only to discover that on one of the coldest days of the year the temperature in the room was hovering at a mere 55 degrees. After several attempts at resetting circuit breakers and the replacement of the furnace filter the digital thermostat held fast at 55. Only later when one of the trustees went outside to check
"... things unknown to you."Read More »from Discovery
"From now on I will tell you of new things, of hidden things unknown to you. (Isaiah 48:6)
For almost thirty years this milky white stained-glass bird with just a slight sheen of color on one surface has hung in the window of every one of my offices. It was fashioned as a gift by a talented parishioner and has traveled with me from West Virginia, to Massachusetts, then on to Virginia and finally back to West Virginia. In my present office it hangs a little differently. Instead of dangling right up against the window pane as it did in the other offices, it swings from fishing line a few inches in front of the window. That's what helped set up the discovery in the photo. Last week I walked into the office just at the right moment to see for the very first time the "rainbow bird" projected on the wall jutting out from the window. Wow, what a discovery after almost thirty years of watching the bird in the window!
Frankly, I've never been that fond of the