Blog Posts by Dr. Gary Nelson

  • Refuge

    "...refuge and strength..."

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    "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble." (Isaiah 46:1)

    Trouble happens, whether it comes in the form of a freezing frost-covered morning, a devastating earthquake, or the crushing proclamation in a relationship, "I don't love you anymore." When trouble happens we often find ourselves looking for the "why's." The questions are one way that we express the hurt, fear, and confusion that accompanies trouble. Usually, what we need more than "answers" is "refuge."

    Sometimes we need physical refuge like my feathered-friend in the photo, but more often we need spiritual refuge. We need some "place" where we know we can find comfort and a sense that the trouble encompassing us is not the final word for life. In the midst of the trouble we need assurance that life will go on, even if at the present Read More »from Refuge
  • Amazing

    "...completely amazed..."

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    "They were all completely amazed and praised God, saying, "We have never seen anything like this!" (Mark 2:12)

    I was in a cemetery early this morning taking a photo of a statue. I was struck by the lonely figure's beauty in the swirling snow. Then, just as I started to open my car door and escape the cold, I noticed one snowflake that had stuck to the housing of my side view mirror. I was no longer merely "struck," by something beautiful, I was amazed! It was almost as if God was playing with me a little and saying, "You want to see beauty and wonder? I'll show you beauty and wonder! Here, check out this itsy-bitsy precisely perfect snowflake."

    Sometimes I think the world is divided into two kinds of people -- those who can be amazed and those who cannot. I'm definitely one of the former. I see and experience so many Read More »from Amazing
  • Self Deception

    "Heroes of the wine bottle!"

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    "You are doomed! Heroes of the wine bottle! Brave and fearless when it comes to mixing drinks! But for just a bribe you let the guilty go free, and you keep the innocent from getting justice." (Isaiah 5:22)

    As I began to think about the closing of this year and all the parties that will ring in the new, I remembered this photo I took of some empty bottles with lights and decorations. Funny isn't it how it takes so little to change the focus or blur the view. A slight tweak of the camera lens and decorated empty bottles become a beautiful kaliedescope of lights.

    Alcohol and other drugs are not the only things that we can surrender ourselves to and subsequently find our "vision" blurred and our focus distorted. Greed, lust, apathy, and hate (just to name a few) can have the same effect. While living in the distorted Read More »from Self Deception
  • Light

    "The light shines in the darkness..."

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    "The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it." (John 1:5)

    I think for me no greater words of hope have ever been spoken. I have known and suspect that I will yet know times of darkness in my life. I can no more escape the darkness than the day can escape the night. Yet this is my testimony, "The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it." From that experience I draw faith and hope that the darkness will never overcome the light. This Christmas I celebrate once more the coming of God's Light of hope and peace in the presence of God's Christ child. This Light has a lot of work to do in our world. O how we need the Light to cast out the darkness of judgment, hate, and violence. I pray that God will keep me focused on the hope, peace, and work of this Light. How
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  • Interruptions

    ...but if...

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    "I may be able to speak the languages of human beings and even of angels, but if I have no love, my speech is no more than a noisy gong or a clanging bell. I may have the gift of inspired preaching; I may have all knowledge and understand all secrets; I may have all the faith needed to move mountains - but if I have no love, I am nothing. I may give away everything I have, and even give up my body to be burned - but if I have no love, this does me no good." (I Corinthians 13:1-3)

    On several occasions I have found myself driving in the predawn hours of the morning, keenly intent on arriving at my destination by the scheduled time. (Why else would I be driving in the predawn hours hours of the morning?) Then, to my joy and frustration God has decided to throw a "but" into my morning drive. "I really need to get to my destination but I Read More »from Interruptions
  • Unexpected

    "...there is a season..."

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    "For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven." (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

    It's a comfort to know that life tends to flow in some sort of order, that there are things to be counted on, that life has its "seasons" and seasons have their expected events.
    Yet, the truth is that many things also tend to happen "out of season." The pretty yellow flower in my picture is a forsythia blossom, one of the first signs of Spring, blooming on a bush in our community two days before Thanksgiving.

    Sometimes the "expected" is hard enough to get through, but the "unexpected" can be even more difficult to endure. The divine promise is the same in both cases - God is with us.

    The blooming forsythia bush happens to be in the yard of a woman who passed away very suddenly and unexpectedly Sunday morning. When I saw the Read More »from Unexpected
  • New Moon's "Real Monster": Teen Depression

    New Moon's "Real Monster": Teen Depression

    Normally after our children see movies with somewhat of a "horror" edge like "New Moon," the next installment in the "Twilight" vampire romance series, we tell them that the "monsters" in the movie are "make-believe." Unfortunately we won't be able to do that in this case. According to Jessica Reinis, writing for ABC News, there is a real monster in this movie called, "teen depression." Reinies writes that after Bella is dumped by her soul mate, Edward, Bella plunges into the depths of teen depression, teetering on the edge of life and death with her reckless behaviors.

    Though I have yet to see the movie (I plan to see it asap) I know the "monster" that is depicted. It's the same monster that almost stole our son from my wife and me during his teen years. Depression kills more teens in our country than any other medical illness. For those it doesn't kill, this monster steals life from its victims in so many other ways. It is

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  • Rejection

    "...rejected as worthless..."

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    "The stone which the builders rejected as worthless turned out to be the most important of all." (Psalm 118:22 & quoted again in Acts 4:11)

    Okay, admit've spent untold hours in your yard during the spring and summer trying to rid it of the "dreaded" dandelions! Then, if your neighbor didn't do the same, you probably cast a few dirty looks toward his yard and muttered a few less-than-kind words as his "disgusting yellow weeds" turned to feathery white and proceeded to repopulate your yard with the "awful aliens." Many a dandelion has known the wrath of the green lawn fancier.

    But wait... just this week I read that scientists have discovered a new procedure that will allow them to commercially produce natural latex from dandelions! Apparently this comes just in the nick of time because the rubber tree Read More »from Rejection
  • Warnings

    "We urge you, our friends, to warn..."

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    "We urge you, our friends, to warn the idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone. See that no one pays back wrong for wrong, but at all times make it your aim to do good to one another and to all people." (I Thessalonians 5:14-15)

    A couple of years ago Patti and I were driving through one of the western states with our two Boston terriers. It was time for all of us to take a break and stretch our legs, so we pulled into a rest area where it looked as though we could walk our dogs. As we drove into the parking lot we saw the sign in the picture above. We not only heeded the sign's warning by not leaving the sidewalks, we didn't even get out the car and use the sidewalks. Off we went for the next rest stop we could find without such an ominous warning. The truth is that many times we Read More »from Warnings
  • Tolerance and Community

    Be Tolerant With One Another...

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    "...there is no longer any distinction between Gentiles and Jews, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarians, savages, slaves, and free, but Christ is all, Christ is in all. You are the people of God; he loved you and chose you for his own. So then, you must clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Be tolerant with one another..." (Colossians 3:11-13)

    Okay, so it's easy to notice our differences, but then what do we do with them? Paul made that pretty clear in his letter to early Christians in Colossae. We are to treat each other with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience in an effort to be truly tolerant with one another.

    As I've been saying recently, it's not so much which side of the issue you're on, but how you treat each other in the debate that will make the difference between community building and community destruction.

    Most of you know that this past December our daughter suffered a

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