Early In The Morning

I realize what’s late for some is early for others.

Backyard Morning Musings

But when I feel like I’ve slept late, it’s still too early for many!

It’s not light yet, but this is my anticipated view from my back yard.

This morning, as with most Sunday morning’s, I rise a little earlier than normal so as to spend time with my prayer, devotion and preparation for Sunday. Many want to sleep in, and many have nothing planned for the day that gives them prompting to get and move. I seldom have a day like that! Sleeping in may get me close to 7am, but that’s about all!

Of all my days, Sunday is the one that requires the most out of me. More focus. Energy. Getting out of my comfort zone. Greeting. Meeting. Delivering. Retreating. And finally rest. Hours and hours after the day started.

To support my early rising, I turned to scripture and find a number of times where the bible talks about getting up early.

Abraham got up early and went to the place where he stood before the Lord. (Genesis 19:27) This was the morning after the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. His nephew Lot had escaped just before the destruction, but only with his two daughters. Not by persuasion alone, but with gentle (?) force (Genesis 19:16-17).

Jacob arose early after of dreams and visions and promises from God.

Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it.” And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven!” Then Jacob rose early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put at his head, set it up as a pillar, and poured oil on top of it. And he called the name of that place Bethel; but the name of that city had been Luz previously. (Genesis 28:16-19 NKJV)

Several times Moses was commanded to rise early and go face Pharaoh…but then he finally rose early to prepare to hear from God on Mount Sinai. (Exodus 34:2-5).

Of all the reasons why man rose early, there is none so special as that resurrection morning. After fearful and restless hours, those that came early to finish caring for the body of Jesus, stood at the door of the tomb. He was not there…

Early morning lessons are often won after a night of restless sleep. Something pulls you awake, from the comfort of your bed, and drives you to seek the reason for arising early.

What do you expect to do today? It’s the Lord’s Day… Arise…

The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. (Romans 13:12 NKJV)

One Step Forward

We’ve all heard that old statement…

steps-in-the-country“Two Steps Forward, One Step Backwards.” Or, if you want to think about Vladimir Lenin, the communist from the 19th and 20th century, who wrote a pamphlet titled, “One Step Forward, Two Step Backwards.”

Either way, it’s the concept of the arduous actions of trying to get ahead, while slipping behind. Either by one step, or two. It seems like it’s difficult to get ahead, and when progress is experienced, the next step would slip us back closer to where we came from.

At personal levels we often feel the pain of the slippery slope, the loss of forward momentum, the weight of our friends, family, career, country, politics and global needs tied like inestimable weights that we find it impossible to make forward motion.

We take ownership of the global weights and oft times it seems like our knuckles drag the ground and we find it impossible to salvage the skin hitting against the stones.

The weight of the world rests on our psyche so much we feel depression and oppression like never before. Depression comes from within, oppression from without. It’s almost like there is no escape…

This afternoon, for a brief moment, I felt the need to run away from it all. To the wilderness. Away from the crowds, no responsibilities, build a log cabin and enjoy rustic living. You will never know what triggered this, but I will tell you this is how many people feel way too often. Throw in the towel. Quit. Flee Babylon. Grab what is precious and necessary and just simply go…

Then there is something that happens to me, and for me. It comes out of that which I’ve buried and hid in my heart and mind, and suddenly the steps are manageable. The writer of Hebrews paints this kind of picture.

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2 NKJV)

Witness. They surround us. They show us how to live through the valleys and keep the race ever before us, knowing the finish line is soon to arrive!

I think of the witness of my parents, my pastors, my grandmother, and even my siblings. There are good friends and people close to me, and I even experienced hanging around them today.

So… As you slip backwards, dig in with your strength, pick up the pace, turn your eyes forward, grab for the stanchions that line your path. It’s not just you that needs to pick up your feet and set them down forward, you need to reach over to that fellow traveler and help them along.

We are not in this alone!

 

Pass The Torch

Every next beginning starts with an ending of the previous.

presidential-seal-001At this writing, I have been alive for 11 U.S. Presidents. Each one had a starting, that began with the ending of the previous. Eisenhower was president the year I was born and I cannot say I have any memories of him. My first presidential awareness was JFK, and I still have the scrapbook I made beginning in 1963 of his death. LBJ memories are few, but Nixon was the president of my teen years, and the year I married. Ford was a fill-in, Carter occupied one term, Hollywood gave us Reagan, and his VP (GHWB) became the next for a single term. Clinton had two terms, and I saw a picture of him this week when he met JFK. GWB for two terms, followed by Obama for two terms.

Today, the next beginning starts with the ending of the previous. My 12th president. Donald John Trump will be handed the reigns of leading our nation. In a little over an hour, he takes the oath of office with his hand on the bible his mom gave him the year of my birth – 1955, and the bible used by Lincoln when he took his oath of office.

Such privilege for him to be where he is,
I pray for him that he is able to step up to the task
and help steer this nation forward. 

I fired up my browser, found several news outlets that are broadcasting live, and I have it playing in the background as the pundits and news anchors attempt to bring some normality to this solemn occasion. The nation has been in an uproar. Supporters and protesters are many. Fear reigns, right alongside of hope. No president has been able to bridge the gap between the left and right with great success. At least in my lifetime. As I look backwards through the centuries, this one quote rings true, and I hope it speaks today as much as my historical view thought it could have been spoken then.

“With malice toward none,
and charity for all,
with firmness in the right,
as God gives us to to see the right,
let us strive on to finish the work we are in,
to bind up the nation’s wounds.”
~Abraham Lincoln

The one thing this all reminds me of, we are often a nation divided by party. By micro points we see one win, and another loose. Nixon won all 49 states the year I graduated High School, and by a landslide he roared back into office, only to face failure in another year, and finally to resign. We are a fickle nation of left and right.

I pause for a moment to look at the news reports as the Obamas and Trumps leave the White House. The counter shows it’s only 11 more minutes till the Inaugural swearing-in ceremony. The news folkies say they are running about 15 minutes behind schedule.

My day is full, and I must go … Thoughts tomorrow about the remaining ceremony I watch on my computer, as my day rushes into being.

Blessings!

A Pause, A View

I have been blessed to see the beauty of this planet…

Calvin and Hobbes - I am significantThere are many beautiful, busy and solitary places I’ve traveled in my life. The beautiful, alongside that which lack much beauty in my eye, lie side by side. What is one man’s beauty is another’s ugly. Some love the desert, others the mountains, while others want to be surrounded by water. Some find beauty in the crowds of a city. Others find it down a lonely trail in the wilderness. Some like the noise and bustle, others want the quiet and the rustle. Some like it hot. Some not. Some want people, others want solitude.

While it is true I can enjoy the beauty of a craftily designed portrait of a city skyline showing man’s ingenuity and ability to build, there is something more enjoyable when I pause alongside a babbling brook just as the ice is beginning to form in calm corners.

This morning, while walking back to the house after depositing the garbage and recycle can’s for pickup, the sky was an amazing view of mystery. To the east, the dawn was lighting with faint shades of blue as the new day begins to form. In the clouds, a break showed stars beginning to fade, while the moon is haloed with the wispy and frosty layer of a cool, wet morning. The snow and ice has abated. More rain and storms loom. But in that quick moment I realized exactly how beautiful the morning was. And the hope that is brings.

I imagine the shepherd boy watching over his flock day and night. In the cool of the desert he watches the majesty of the universe unfold in the night skies. The mystery of night. The flickering lights of stars and planets. And not even understanding what is in his purview. Why is it so dark? What is out there? I even wonder if he comprehended the great distances and time it takes for the light to appear from the flickers.

He utters the phrase:

When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained, What is man that You are mindful of him, And the son of man that You visit him? (Psalms 8:3-4 NKJV)

One can’t help but give honor to the Creator. And feel an awesome smallness in the middle of it all. There are times we alone feel the weight of our moments of trial, but the greatness of the universe and the unknown gives me pause to say that there is so much more that we do not yet understand. So much more to explore. So much more to enjoy.

Thank you Lord for the day that gives me pause, and a view, to give proper thanks.

The House That Wisdom Built

I have never built a house…

9Though I can claim to doing work on a house that my granddad built…there is probably nothing there that you would put my signature on and claim that it was my work. My granddad, on the other hand, had built a number of homes and I suspect some of them are still standing and being lived in throughout Texas.

A day is coming during retirement when we will downsize (maybe) and will want to build a house just like what we want. But it will be by a professional that is not named “me”!

It was Jesus that spoke about the wisdom and foolish building of a house. You probably know the story very well. Placing the home on proper footing is as important as the final touches that make it a livable place.

“Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. “But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.”  (Matthew 7:24-27 NKJV)

Wise men build on a strong foundation. Foolish men build on shifting sand. It’s really that simple. Storms come to all, wise and foolish. Hearing and doing the sayings of Jesus puts us on a strong foundation, and we are considered to be wise.

In Proverbs 9 (the ninth day of my wisdom study), Solomon said, “Wisdom has built her house…” (Proverbs 9:1) and then he goes on to describe the efforts to bring Wisdom to any who would accept it. The simple. The one who forsakes foolishness. The one who lacks understanding. All are welcome to enter the door of the house that Wisdom built.

What is Wisdom? How do you get it? Go to the house that Wisdom built and you will learn.

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. (Proverbs 9:10 NKJV)

This word for “fear” does not mean something you are afraid of, rather, the Hebrew word essentially means “morally reverent”. Revering the Lord is the Beginning of Wisdom!

Having Wisdom produces healthy results. Some of us take longer learning the paths of Wisdom in various areas of life. Health. Wealth. Career. Family. Spiritual Well-being.

Think on it. Selah.

The foolish person is the opposite. She calls for the simple and the one who lacks understanding and bids them to turn from their path to a life of stolen water and secret bread. The person who turns to the path of foolishness does not realize that the dead live in this place, and that the guests are in the very depths of hell. (Proverbs 9:13-18)

Choose properly, my friend…

When Wisdom Speaks

There is something about wise people that I learned…

8They never have to speak for even the most inept among us to know they speak with wisdom and understanding. While others are hogging the conversation, or attempting to interject their own view, wise people just know to hold their voice and at the best time they will have something to say that will just amaze everyone.

Part our our problem relates to how we prepare to interject a similar story that is being spilled by someone, and we can hardly hold our peace to one-up someone! We don’t think about what we have to say as being necessary, or important, but we choose to speak even before our thoughts have gelled. Hopefully the brain catches up to the story and we have a good ending, but more than likely what we needed to share was not even necessary!

Through the years I have had wise counsel in my life. Some I worked for. Some were spiritual leaders and pastors. Some were good friends, and others were complete strangers. And yes, there have been a few that were close family members that were always looked up to as someone who had something wise to share.

I am never so smart in my own ways that I do not hesitate to seek out someone much wiser than I…

This points me toward a main thought… What you and I think as wisdom may be two very different things. It all depends on the needs for the moment, and the perspective of your view. When we research viewpoints of wisdom, we have to delve into the person speaking, the message of the words, and the wise counsel in the meaning of those words. I love this quote…it speaks volumes to me!

For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others;
for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness;
and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone.
~Audrey Hepburn

You should take a moment to day and read Solomon’s 8th chapter of Proverbs. His words start with this (emphasis mine):

Does not wisdom cry out, And understanding lift up her voice? She takes her stand on the top of the high hill, Beside the way, where the paths meet. She cries out by the gates, at the entry of the city, At the entrance of the doors: “To you, O men, I call, And my voice is to the sons of men. O you simple ones, understand prudence, And you fools, be of an understanding heart. Listen, for I will speak of excellent things, And from the opening of my lips will come right things; For my mouth will speak truth; Wickedness is an abomination to my lips. All the words of my mouth are with righteousness; Nothing crooked or perverse is in them. They are all plain to him who understands, And right to those who find knowledge. Receive my instruction, and not silver, And knowledge rather than choice gold; For wisdom is better than rubies, And all the things one may desire cannot be compared with her. (Proverbs 8:1-11 NKJV)

We often think that wealth, good lucks, or fabulous fortune would serve us better than all the wisdom in the world. That famous Jamaican musician said it like this:

“Don’t gain the world and lose your soul; wisdom is better than silver or gold.” ~Bob Marley

I’m sure he took these words straight from the Word of God, in fact, straight out of the concept of words spoken by Jesus.

For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? (Mark 8:36 NKJV)

“To gain the world is to gain (1) the riches of the world, as the rich young ruler (Mark 10:22), or as Demas; (2) the honors and fame of the world, as Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 4:30), or as Herod (Acts 12:21-23); (3) the sinful pleasures of the world (Hebrews 11:25; Proverbs 23:31); (4) the amusements and follies of the world (Ecclesiastes 11:9).” (GTB commentary)

Think on it. Selah.

At the tomb of the Emperor Charlemagne (742-814 AD), a successor finally opened his burial vault and found him sitting on a marble chair, robed in finery, and the gospels in his lap. But his finger was pointing at the words of Jesus from above…what will it profit a man if he gains the whole word…and lose his own soul.

Keep, And Live

Pursuing a path of study through the Wisdom writings…

7And, since this is my seventh day, I would like to set the number 7 before me with a list of 7 Wisdom Sayings of Solomon, or some such named list that will help us keep our focus pointed in the right direction!

So… Many study the concept of symbols and numbers in the bible and look for symbolic meaning to various items found in scripture. If you ever studied symbols in the bible, or wanted to, here’s a numerology thought about the number 7

Used 735 times (54 times in the book of Revelation alone),
the number 7 is the foundation of God’s word.
If we include with this count how many times
‘sevenfold’ (6) and ‘seventh’ (119) is used,
the total jumps to 860 references.

Seven focuses on the divine idea of God
in a perfect sense.
His Word, His Creation, His day of rest.

In the book of Hebrews, the writer uses seven titles to refer to Christ.
Heir of all things (Hebrews 1:2), Captain of our salvation (2:10),
Apostle'(3:1), Author of salvation (5:9), Forerunner (6:20),
High Priest (10:21) and the Author and finisher of our faith (12:2).

Since there are days to go before the book is ended, I can only say that to date I see the concept of following a path of higher calling. Not something that excludes others and only for the elite, rather, a path that is open to anyone who is willing to walk above the fray.

In the opening salvo of Proverbs, Chapter 7, Solomon asks his son to consider the path way of higher living in terms that are different, unique, allegorical, and practical. In the first five verses he gives us 7 Steps of Wisdom.

  1. Treasure my commands within you, like you would place high value on something kept in the most secret part of your life.
  2. Commands will produce life, especially if the law is as special as the apple of your eye.
  3. Bind them to your fingers so that everything you start to do with your hands, they will constantly remind you of better living.
  4. Write them on the tablets of your heart, so that deep down you will always know them.
  5. “Wisdom, you are my sister”, calling on that special protection and bond that siblings have.
  6. “Understanding, you are my nearest relative”, essentially remember the bond of wisdom as the bond of family.
  7. These words will keep you from the snares of the enemy.

The entire focus of, it seems, is to produce a person walking in wisdom, knowledge, understanding, and far from the temptations of life. What? The remainder of the chapter describes the snares of Satan as the house that contains those of ill repute…

He describes the siren song that draws a young man viewed from his window…

Then closes with the thought that the house of that draws you from your path of God is the “way to hell” and those steps you take are like “descending to the chambers of death”…

Think on it. Selah.

Dire warnings for the missteps of life, it’s true, but the hope of the moment lies in keeping your mind, heart, body and soul ever focused on the wiser paths of living pure in a hopeless world.