Blog Posts by Dr. Gary Nelson

  • Imitate

    "...imitate..."
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    "My dear friend, do not imitate what is bad, but imitate what is good. Whoever does good belongs to God; whoever does what is bad has not seen God." (3John 1:11)

    This week Patti and I are leading a group from our church on an adventure in Washington, D.C. and the surrounding area. We began our trip Monday with a visit to Pohick Episcopal Church (the church George Washington and attended and served as a vestryman), moved on to Mt. Vernon, and ended the day with a picnic at a small park with a pretty amazing location. The park is situated right at the end of the runway of Reagan National Airport. We ate our pizza as we watched the jets take off so close to the top of our heads that we were sure the pilots could look down and tell if we were eating plain cheese or pepperoni and cheese pizza.

    We were separated from the end of the runway by a very small inlet from the river, where several ducks plied the waters and scrambled onto the banks trying to seduce picnickers into

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  • Death...

    "...death..."
    photo"No one can keep from dying or put off the day of death. That is a battle we cannot escape..." (Ecclesiastes 8:8)

    The erratic swirling motion in the weeds caught my attention as I walked today. With the telephoto lens on my camera I was able to see that this winged-creature was mired in a spider's web. Just the edge of one wing was stuck, so the creature flapped its wings at hyper-speed, then paused to rest before trying again. I watched it repeat its fruitless efforts for several minutes. It was apparent to me that death was not far around the corner. I even thought about trying to help free the critter, but I figured that if the web was that sticky and powerful, I would probably wind up just further entangling the poor thing. After stopping to change to another lens on my camera I turned around to take a few more photos and was greeted by -- the sight of an empty web. This time the little critter had escaped what I thought was to be its certain death. I was wrong...

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  • Awe

    "...fills us with awe."

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    "A golden glow is seen in the north, and the glory of God fills us with awe." (Job 37:22)

    Patti and I were driving up the coast of northern California a few weeks ago when suddenly the road veered away from the water and began to wind its way up and up and up and up and up... It seemed like there was an endless progression of steep switchbacks with 5mph curves as we made our way through dense forests populated by groves of stately redwoods. At the top there was a small pull-over along the side of the road. We were gifted with the view in the picture. Like the Old Testament writer, the glory of God filled us with awe. I think we know it's "awe" when there are no words. Instead, there's that leaping of our soul which wordlessly whispers things like, "WOW!," and "AHHH," or, "OH BOY!" The feeling of awe is also often accompanied by a feeling of peace and an awareness, like Moses, that we should take off our shoes because we're on holy ground. In other words, we're

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  • For the Good of Others

    Message flagged Tuesday, August 16, 2011 9:09 PM

    Message body

    "...for the good of others..."
    photo"Each one, as a good manager of God's different gifts, must use for the good of others the special gift he has received from God." (I Peter 4:10)
    One flower is nothing short of an intricate, amazing display of God's creative Spirit, but a group of flowers growing together can create a spectacular carpet that just might hint at the glory of heaven!
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    This Monday morning I walked into our church office, only to be greeted by a message on our answering machine that grated on my nerves. A helpful adult called to let us know that the day before he had been following our church van down the highway and witnessed various pieces of trash (including a milkshake) come tumbling out the back window of our van and scatter on the pavement. It wasn't difficult to locate us since the church name, address, and phone number are painted on the van. I appreciated his call, but couldn't personally thank him Read More »from For the Good of Others
  • Anxiety and Peace

    "...grace and peace..."

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    "May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace." (I Corinthians 1:3)

    As I stood at the bottom of the spiral staircase and looked up I was keenly aware that my anxiety about high places was escalating to a very uncomfortable level. Actually, the anxiety started before I even set foot inside the door of the beautiful lighthouse at Pt. Arena in California. Patti wanted to climb to the top, step out onto the platform around the light, and enjoy the breath-taking view. I wanted to enjoy it as well, so she led the way and we began to scale the spiral stairs toward the top.


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    By the time we reached the first platform my anxiety had ballooned to a very uncomfortable level. Anxiety like that is strange. It just happens. Some experience it while others are spared. In this case I was really experiencing it, so much so that I told Patti to go ahead without me. I returned to the base of the lighthouse to wait and take pictures.

    If Patti or one of my

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  • Power

    "...power belongs to him..."

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    "Don't put your trust in violence; don't hope to gain anything by robbery; even if your riches increase, don't depend on them. More than once I have heard God say that power belongs to him and that his love is constant." (Psalm 62:10-11)

    I watched the surfers treading water in the surf near a lighthouse on the California coast. As they paddled around in their wetsuits they really resembled some of the harbor seals bobbing in the water around an outcropping of rocks. Then suddenly, the surfers would spot a wave approaching, paddle to the right spot to catch it, and display some pretty amazing athleticism and acrobatics as they zoomed in and out in front of the 12-15 ft waves behind them. Pretty impressive... yet none of their antics would have been possible were it not for the power of that wall of water that was propelling them.

    When times are good we tend to forget the force behind us -- the power of God's life-giving love at work for and through us.

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  • Storms...

    "...storm clouds..."

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    "He brings storm clouds from the ends of the earth; he makes lightning for the storms, and he brings out the wind from his storeroom." (Psalm 135:6-8)

    It's been a busy couple of weeks and an outrageously busy past couple of days. Right now Patti and I are on the west coast so I can speak about teen depression to more folks. Part of the problem is that we're interacting with folks who think it's 11:00PM when our bodies are telling us it's really 2:00AM. Whew... Sometimes we can really feel pressed...

    That's exactly what this photo I took yesterday as we were flying out made me think. Here we were, pressed between two layers of clouds (one of which was a storm). Yet, at the same time we had the opportunity to witness a beautiful sunset. Once more I was reminded of the majesty of our God -- the one who, "brings out the wind from his storeroom." Imagine having a storeroom for wind... What else might God have in another closet... certainly whatever I might need.

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  • Suffering Among Us

    "Are any among you...?"


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    "Are any among you suffering? They should pray. Are any cheerful? They should sing songs of praise." (James 5:13)


    This past week Patti and I spent Wednesday - Sunday with our youth group and about 3500 others from all around the country (and world) at the United Methodist Church's gathering of youth at Purdue University in Indiana. The event was called, "YOUTH 2011" and will be repeated next week in Sacramento, California for folks on the west coast. The event kicked off with a "bang" (literally - see the pyrotechnics in the photo) and continued with great fellowship, worship, workshops, entertainment, and other special events. The auditorium was thumping and bumping as the crowd rocked with the musicians leading them in worship. Yet... I knew a secret...


    I knew that as I looked out over that sea of faces there were among them those who were suffering - suffering from teen depression. As a matter of fact, the statistics

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  • Judgment

    "...judge someone else?"

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    "God is the only lawgiver and judge. He alone can save and destroy. Who do you think you are, to judge someone else?"
    (James 4:12)

    Last week we took our church's youth group for a day of hiking, canoeing, and kayaking. One of the highlights of the hike was this waterfall. Since the water flowed over the edge of a very large rock outcropping it was possible to go behind the falls and get a view through the water from "the other side."

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    The view from "the other side of life" is pretty much always different from our own view on "our side of the falls." Yet time and again I hear folks express such pain because in the midst of some tragedy or difficult circumstance someone is ready to offer their opinion as seen from their side of the falls. In other words, they're ready to offer that word of judgment based on what they "see" from their side, but make little or no effort to wonder what the view might be like from the other side of the falls, the back side of the

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  • Hiding

    "...hides..."

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    "Insincere talk that hides what you are really thinking is like a fine glaze on a cheap clay pot... Insincere talk brings nothing but ruin." (Proverbs 23 & 28)

    "Shh...! You can't see me. I'm hiding behind this blade of grass!"

    Someone needs to tell this poor fellow that he's not quite as hidden as he thinks. I really do believe he thought he was hidden because he sat there the entire time, clinging to that blade of grass and allowing me to take several pictures before walking away. Good thing I wasn't a predator, or he'd have been dead meat.

    His "hiding" reminded me of the times I experience folks "hiding" their true thoughts and feelings in relationships. Instead of honest dialogue they save their real thoughts and harbor them with ill feelings or share them away from the person or persons who really need to hear them. In church life sometimes we call one version of this the "parking lot meeting after the meeting." In that particular scenario folks say one thing (or

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Pagination

(164 Stories)