Blog Posts by Dr. Gary Nelson

  • Connections

    "...power over the fish, the birds..."

    "Then God said, 'And now we will make human beings; they will be like us and resemble us. They will have power over the fish, the birds, and all animals, domestic and wild, large and small.' So God created human beings, making them to be like himself. He created them male and female, blessed them, and said, 'Have many children, so that your descendants will live all over the earth and bring it under their control. I am putting you in charge of the fish, the birds, and all the wild animals.'" (Genesis 1:26-28)

    Last week I made a quick stop at a local pond and began to walk the perimeter. I paused on the path when I noticed that a pair of geese had occupied the same nest I had watched the previous year. I was the only hiker on the trail so the male stood patiently to the side watching me intently. After I stood quietly for awhile only about twenty feet from the nest the female decided I was safe enough, so she stood up to "featherRead More »from Connections
  • Lost

    "...he was lost..."


    "For this son of mine was dead, but now he is alive; he was lost, but now he has been found." (Luke 15:24)

    So, why did the chicken cross the road? Better yet, today I ask, "Why did the earthworm cross the sidewalk -- when he could have stayed in the relative safety of the grass and earth where he belonged? I was plagued by this deep philosophical question this morning as I emerged from our clergy coffee group only to find this guy in the photo struggling across the sidewalk and headed toward the parking lot. From the looks of him you can already tell he was doomed. He was dehydrated with the beginnings of that classic shriveled-up, dry, almost-dead-on-the-concrete look about him. Pieces of rock had already started to stick to his skin --- and yet, he continued to head away from the earth and grass that might have saved him toward the black asphalt that would have cooked him in just a few more minutes. Maybe it was initially the warmth of the sidewalk on this cool

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  • The Easter Lobster

    "...rolled the stone away..."


    "Suddenly there was a violent earthquake; an angel of the Lord came down from heaven, rolled the stone away, and sat on it."
    (Matthew 28:2)

    This past Sunday many Christians celebrated the most important holiday of our year, Easter. Leading up to and during the day there were probably millions of Easter eggs hidden and found during various festivities surrounding the holiday. Eggs and chicks (along with rabbits) have long been symbols of the holiday, representing the new life for us in Jesus' resurrection. The biblical stories in the four gospels relate how the tomb that once held his body was broken open and God's love sprang forth in the resurrected Jesus. It's easy to see how a chick breaking forth from its shell could symbolize this new birth of life in all its possibilities. God's love is so powerful that not even a tomb could hold it.

    This Easter during the time with the children that's part of our Sunday service of worship I proposed that we

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  • Prejudice

    "... he was very pleased."


    "God looked at everything he had made, and he was very pleased. Evening passed and morning came-that was the sixth day."

    (Genesis 1:31)

    As I was driving back from a meeting early Tuesday morning I glanced over and spied a pair of large birds in a tree near the river. "Oh boy," I thought, "that might be a pair of bald eagles scouting out a location for a nest near here." I was excited about the prospect as I pulled the car off the road to take a few pictures. When I stepped out of the car I was immediately disappointed to see a third bird in the tree, meaning that the "bald eagles" I thought I had seen were, in fact, nothing more than turkey buzzards. That is exactly what I heard myself say, "Oh, they're just turkey buzzards." When I peered through my zoom lens the hypothesis was confirmed as I saw their red heads.

    Since I already had the camera out and ready I thought I'd go ahead and take a few photos. In a moment

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  • Focus

    "Pay attention to those who follow the right example..."


    "Keep on imitating me, my friends. Pay attention to those who follow the right example that we have set for you." (Philippians 3:17)

    One thing that is quickly discernible about this photo is that it has what photographers call a very narrow depth of field. That means only a few things are in focus in a very narrow spot on the picture. The camera settings and lens I was using allowed me to choose which of the plants I wanted to focus on or pay attention to, leaving the others in the foreground and background blurry or fuzzy. One twist of the lens barrel in either direction and I could have chosen to focus on a different plant either behind or in front of the ones in focus.

    I'm reminded by the photo that we have choices in what we focus on and give our attention. My choice of focus determined the final photo I snapped. Likewise, the choices I make about what to focus on and give my attention to make a huge difference in the

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  • Consequences



    "You will have to live with the consequences of everything you say. What you say can preserve life or destroy it; so you must accept the consequences of your words." (Proverbs 18:20-21)

    "What goes up, must come down," goes the saying. In this case is it's more like what comes down must go up. These were some of the huge rain droplets that fell during one of the strong thunderstorms passing through our area in the last few days. The rain was falling so fast with such huge droplets that the church parking lot quickly became a shallow lake responding to each falling droplet with a resulting upward rising water formation. In the language of physics we might say that every action results in an equal and opposite reaction. In other words, falling water results in rising water. There are always some sort of consequences...

    Spoken words are always met with some sort of reaction, and the reaction is dependent upon the tenor and velocity or ferocity of the spoken word.

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  • Care for One Another

    "...take care of my brother?"


    "The Lord asked Cain, Where is your brother Abel? He answered, I don't know.
    Am I supposed to take care of my brother?" (Genesis 4:9)

    A few days ago I watched these ducks for several moments while I walked around their pond. The one male stood erect, carefully watching me and the rest of his surroundings as the other two ducks moved along the edge of the pond poking around under the water for food. He never once put his head under the water while the other two were feeding. Only when they moved away from me toward the center of the pond did the sentinel sit in the water and scratch some itch.

    The ducks started me thinking about Cain's question to God, "Am I supposed to take care of my brother?" or as it is more commonly known from the older King James version of the Bible, "Am I my brother's keeper?" Of course, Cain sarcastically asked the question after God confronted him him about Cain having murdered his brother, Abel. Regardless of the way it was

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  • Overburdened

    "...carries our burdens..."

    " Praise the Lord, who carries our burdens day after day; he is the God who saves us." (Psalm 68:19)
    I was out of town at a meeting earlier this week and awoke one morning surprised to find a couple of inches of fresh snow blanketing the area. This small tree caught my attention because its tiny branches seemed to hold an enormous amount of snow for their size. I was amazed that in spite of their tremendous burden the branches held strong. It got me to thinking about burdens and times in my life when I've felt as though my arms were heavy laden with burdens that seemed like all if not more than I could hold.

    Years ago when I was completing my doctoral work at Boston University I experienced such a time. In addition to attending classes I also served as the pastor of a church that had burned to the ground before I arrived (with a ministry that was collapsing before it burned) and worked a part-time work-study job at the university. At the same time I also

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  • Dazzling Shine

    "...dazzling white."

    "Six days later Jesus took with him Peter and the brothers James and John and led them up a high mountain where they were alone. As they looked on, a change came over Jesus: his face was shining like the sun, and his clothes were dazzling white." (Matthew 17:1-2)

    Remember the pinwheels of your youth? I was especially fond of the ones that came with hollow plastic handles filled with little candy pebbles. Two treats in one! You could eat the candy then hang your pinwheel out the car window and watch its magic. (I've been especially reminded of those memories as I've enjoyed the antics of Maxwell the Pig with his pinwheels in the GEICO television commercials). Recently Patti and I bought four pinwheels and placed them on the ends of a flower basket hanger in the yard. We thought the pinwheels might keep someone from walking into the hanger during the months when it didn't hold flowers.

    Yesterday I paused to watch the pinwheels. As the wind began to catch in its

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  • Testing Each Other

    " the test."


    "Then the Devil took Jesus to Jerusalem, the Holy City, set him on the highest point of the Temple, and said to him,
    If you are God's Son, throw yourself down, for the scripture says,
    God will give orders to his angels about you;
    they will hold you up with their hands,
    so that not even your feet will be hurt on the stones.
    Jesus answered,
    But the scripture also says,
    Do not put the Lord your God to the test." (Matthew 4:5-7)

    Monday I drove across our state to give a seminar on "teen depression" for teachers and staff in Grant County. On the way I passed one of our state's scenic wonders, a formation known as Seneca Rocks. The formation is actually part of a crest of rocks that protrude from the top of the rolling mountains for several miles. In places the rocks resemble the stony plates on the spine of a Stegosaurus dinosaur, while at others their parallel lines create an eerie sense of a dilapidated Wall of China. When I paused in my drive to take in the

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