Monday Motivation: Seeing God

“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities- his eternal power and divine nature- have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.”  (Romans 1:20)

The countdown has begun!  My spring break is right around the corner and I can barely contain my excitement!  Being a teacher, there are several breaks from school that we look forward to and Spring break is one of them.  Mostly because it’s Spring, the weather is changing, and I usually go to the mountains for a little hiking and vacation time.

This year, my family and I are heading up to my brother’s house in north Georgia and then going to the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee and North Carolina.  I’ve been there countless times and I never get tired of the endless mountain vistas, the crisp, cool air, and the peace and quiet that being in the mountains provides.

Another wonderful blessing of taking trips into nature is the closeness I feel with God and his beautiful creation.  As the verse above mentions, we can see God in the world around us.  We can see his wisdom in the order of the natural world.  We can experience a fraction of his creativity when we examine the tremendous differences in plant species such as trees and wildflowers, or the wonderful variety of animals in existence.  We can even gain some insight into his love for us that he would create such a beautiful world for us to reside in.

As Spring begins to blossom in your area of the world, take time to look around and relish in the perfection of God’s creation.  Take time to meditate on his immeasurable love for you.  Allow the truth of God’s existence to be seen in the natural world around you and use that time to worship him.

-Joe Butler

 

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An Electrified Christian

“The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter…it’s the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.”

-Mark Twain

I have this quote from Mark Twain on a bulletin board in my classroom at school.  Because I teach language arts, I try to teach my students to expand their vocabulary and use words in their writing that are more powerful and effective.  Like the difference in strength between a lightning bug and a bolt of lightning, there is a major distinction between a weak word and a strong one.  Hopefully by the end of the school year, my students will have learned a whole new set of vocabulary words they can use in their writing and conversations.

In a way, we can reapply this quote to what it means to be a zealous Christian.  We really do have a choice to live our lives and let our light shine with the effectiveness of a lightning bug or a lightning bolt.  The Bible directly addresses this concept in several places as well:

14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16)

 

33 “No one after lighting a lamp puts it in a cellar or under a basket, but on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light. 34 Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light, but when it is bad, your body is full of darkness. 35 Therefore be careful lest the light in you be darkness. 36 If then your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, it will be wholly bright, as when a lamp with its rays gives you light.” (Luke 11:33-36)

We can learn from these passage that our light, our example and modeling of Christ-like behavior, is not meant to be subdued or covered up in any way.  Our lives are meant to reflect Christ living within us, to bring the light of Jesus into the darkness of our sin-filled world.  It’s not too difficult to visualize that to shine forth like a lightning bug only allows us to have a limited reach, while letting our light explode out into the world like a lightning bolt will reach many more people for Christ.  The lesson is simple.  The amount of fervor we have for Christ directly affects the environment around us and has the ability to win more souls for the Lord.

So where does this light come from?  What powerful force must we rely upon in order to positively light up our world?  This isn’t about the unique features of bioluminescence found in a lightning bug or the powerful forces of static electricity in a bolt of lightning.  The strength of our light is found in Jesus himself!

12 Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”(John 8:12)

I don’t know about you, but I am in awe over the fact that I’m tapped into the most powerful force of light in all of creation.  You are too if you are in Christ.  The really important question is: Are you living in the power of that light and letting it shine through your life every day?

-Joe Butler

Spiritual Sightseeing

I simply cannot get enough of the outdoors!

It’s not just enjoying a trip to the beach or a scenic drive through the mountains.  I want to immerse myself in the environment, to enjoy everything,  noticing and savoring the sights and smells and sounds.  When I go to Washington state, I love to visit Mt. Rainier and smell the rich scent of the evergreen trees and view the powerful glaciers as they make their slow advance down the flanks of the mountain.  When I go to the beach, I love to feel the coolness of the sugar-white sand and inhale the briny smell of the salty air.  When I’ve gone hiking in the woods on the Appalachian Trail, I’ve noticed the scattering of the birds and squirrels as they explore the forest floor, the soft trickle of mountain streams cascading over rocks, and the leaves exploding into an abundance of vibrant colors in the Fall.

One thing I’ve noticed is that very few people actually see or experience any of those things.  They either miss them because they’re too busy to slow down and take notice, or they never leave their car or the parking lot when they do visit the outdoors.  The statistics even bear this out as well.  According to a recent report by the U.S. Forest Service, almost 86% of people who visit a wilderness site only use developed facilities such as park roads, overlooks, campgrounds, and visitor centers.  And of the tourists who do leave developed areas, most never get any farther away than a half mile.  That’s too bad because they have no idea what they’re missing.

If you’ve been a Christian for even a short amount of time then you’ve probably noticed how people have this same mindset towards God and religion in general.  Some people are spiritual sightseers, never going any further than attending worship services and somehow thinking they now have a deep relationship with God.  I must ask, how can you possibly think you know God if you never immerse yourself in Him?  How can you know him and his will for your life if you are not being fed by his word?  How can you experience all the goodness God has to offer if you only act like a Christian for a couple of hours one day a week?

People are missing out on so much because they’re satisfied with a surface-level knowledge of God and his love instead of desiring intimacy with him.  Like Paul, we should declare that we, “want to know Christ” (Philippians 3:10) and we can only do that if we are willing to learn about him and to make him the center of our entire existence.

Get off the beaten path and explore who God is.  Attend worship, read you Bible, pray, serve.  Go all in for God and you’ll discover far more about him than you’d ever imagine.

-Joe

Blessed Are Those Who Trust in God

Marymere Falls, Olympic Peninsula Washington
Icicle Creek: Leavenworth, Washington

“Blessed in the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord.  He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.”

(Jeremiah 17:7-8)

-Joe

Fingerprints

This week my students were home for spring break which left me with some time on my hands to do some of the things I enjoy. And one of my favorite ways to spend my time is hiking out in God’s beautiful creation. I took a trip to the mountains of north Georgia and did a three day backpacking trip on the Appalachian Trail. What follows are some of the pictures I took while on my trip. As you can see, God’s fingerprints are everywhere. Enjoy!

-Joe

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