Living Water

100_3515Vibrant. Brilliant. We eagerly scoop up the luscious looking stones in various colors and put them into our treasure bag.  “Look at this one Mom,” Hannah shows me a brilliant red stone and Rachel carries over a green stone.

Back at the camper we reviewed our finds and empty the treasure bags filled by the lake. Now dry, the stones looked dull and drab.  Ordinary.  Having lost their luster, we couldn’t even tell which stone was whose.  They looked nothing like the treasures we eagerly picked up along the lakeshore.

Before frustration and disappointment totally set in, I grabbed a bottle of water and poured itLake Rocks over the rocks in my hand.  Once again, the colors burst forth like fireworks on a hot summer night.  In my hand I once again held the colorful treasure now restored.

What made the difference?  It was the water.  Devoid of water the stones look like nothing more than driveway stones worthy of a toss. The water made them appear alive and vibrant and something to be treasured.  Much like us.

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“Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” – John 7:38

It’s the Living Water or Christ in us that makes us appear vibrant and brings life into our souls.  It’s the Living Water that keeps us from leading a lackluster life. When we become parched, dry and distant from the Living Water, our spirit is rendered barren, and cracked.

Crevices are where things can hide or take root. Our spiritually dry fissures become places where the enemy can gain a foothold. These gaps take the form of looking the other way at sin, or justifying ungodly behavior. The dark dry places of our hearts are fertile ground for secrets and apathy.

“but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I 101_8292will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.” – John 4:14

Immersing ourselves in the Living Water regularly is crucial to living a life that glorifies the Lord. When we are infused with His truth and His presence, our lives can’t help but reflect Him.  When we radiate His presence, people are attracted to HIM in us. His goodness and mercy and grace shine brightly in our lives.

We were drawn to the stones for their beauty.  It was their reflection in the water that caught our attention. Like the stones bathed in water lively sparkled and beckoned to us, a soul swathed in the Living Water becomes a beacon.

We weren’t made to be a lackluster, dry, stone that is cast aside or overlooked.  We shouldn’t want to be a treasure missed. We need to be saturated with His presence. We want to be a brilliant find, one that can point the seeker to the source of water that will never run dry.

POINT TO PONDER: What does your life currently reflect?  Are there places in your life that could benefit from a good dousing of Living Water?  Some creative ways to connect with your Creator were listed on the blog here:  Feel free to connect with me, I would love to share some ideas and encourage you.

Check out #HOPEscope the Weekday Show on www.periscope.tv at 7:15 am featuring quick devotion and prayer to start your day HIS Way!

 

What is a tzitzit?

I was sharing with my #Periscope* devotion group #HOPEscope* about how I often use visual objects to keep me focused on God during the day, and during my prayer time.

This particular day we were discussing how he is our firm foundation.  I mentioned that HE is our Rock. The lyrics “On Christ the solid rock I stand” were playing in my head.  I showed them a rock I set out as I reminder of this truth. I mentioned the variety of other ways that a visual person, such as myself, can use items to represent truths and remind us of scripture.

Rocks represent the Christ who is the Rock on which I stand

Rocks represent the Christ who is the Rock on which I stand

Sometimes it takes something to pull our thoughts back to our Creator.  In my ministry I often leave the audience with a token, a book or a bookmark to help them remember what was shared. I’ve gotten emails from people  even years later who mention they still use the token to remind them of a particular truth.

For a visual person, images are extremely powerful in processing the world.  As a lover of Nature and the Creator, I often see the fingerprints of God where ever I look outside.  My heart longs for the sea constantly as I feel HIS presence so strongly there.  My connection to the Creator is both enhanced and strengthened by the visual.

God's thoughts of us outnumber the grains of Sand.  Psalm 139:17/18

God’s thoughts of us outnumber the grains of Sand.
Psalm 139:17/18

Today I was reading in Numbers 15:37-41

37 The Lord said to Moses, 38 “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘Throughout the generations to come you are to make tassels on the corners of your garments, with a blue cord on each tassel. 39 You will have these tassels to look at and so you will remember all the commands of the Lord, that you may obey them and not prostitute yourselves by chasing after the lusts of your own hearts and eyes. 40 Then you will remember to obey all my commands and will be consecrated to your God.”

Even God saw that HIS people needed tangible reminders of his commandments or his words.

These reminders were called tzitzit [tsiˈtsit] the Hebrew name for specially knotted ritual 
fringes, or tassels, worn in antiquity by Israelites and today by observant Jews and Samaritans.  They were a tangible reminder ordained by God.

A collection of nature photos and verses.

A collection of nature photos and verses.

Now these were the same people who saw the seas parted and manna fall from heaven.  They “experienced” first hand (not just read about) intense miracles and blessings from the very hand of God.  They were first and second generation evacuees from Egypt…and yet…they forgot.  They got sidetracked from God and what he required.

God created us. He knows how we think. He knows how we can be distracted like the Israelites.  The world is a busy and noisy place and it causes us to be sidetracked much like the Israelites were.  If distractions were prevalent  back then before electricity and social media…flash forward.

POP up ads lure people into situations that are unholy. We have beeps/whistles/passwords and codes.  We are forced to remember so much other information that often what  God speaks to us gets shoved out or put aside.  While I have seen Social Media used for good and to positive ends, there is no denying that it can become a huge time waster and massive distraction.

It is prudent that as believers we utilize whatever means possible to remember the

Gifts from the sea inspire me

Gifts from the sea inspire me

commandments and promises of God. Having tangible reminders visible helps pull our focus back to our Creator.  It might mean setting our phone alarm to remind us to pray or study the word, or putting a Post-it note on our computer.  I don’t see many of us sewing tassels to our clothes. The word of God doesn’t change though our visual reminders might.

 

 

Sea Glass reminds me  that God can take Trash and make into treasure.

Sea Glass reminds me that God can take Trash and make into treasure.

39 You will have these tassels to look at and so you will remember all the commands of the LORD, that you may obey them and not prostitute yourselves by chasing after the lusts of your own hearts and eyes. 40 Then you will remember to obey all my commands and will be consecrated to your God.”

The word consecration literally means “association with the sacred”.  I want to be associated with God how about you?

Next blog will be focusing on Prayer and Tangible ways we can stay focused or make it more meaningful!

POINT TO PONDER: What visual reminders speak to you about the awesomeness of God?

(*Periscope is app where my show #HOPEscope airs mornings after 7am and eves after 8pm I am over there at ” kissedbycreator “)

Painting a picture of Transformation

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I could only imagine what the cashier in the convenience store was thinking when I barged through the door covered with paint, dashed to the freezer section and returned breathlessly with mint chocolate chip ice cream.  As I counted out my pennies with green and white splattered hands he (a former student) looked at me quirkily.  We’d been transforming my basement with a coat of paint that resembled mint chocolate chip ice cream and the paint slaves had watering mouths.  Under his gaze I was aware that in the process of my DIY drama I had transformed from the cleanly dressed meticulous teacher into a splattered, sputtering disheveled Bryers junkie in need of a sweet fix.  Chuckling, I briefly updated him on my saga and dashed home to keep the minions running another hour with the sugar rush.

Not just my basement, but so far this year, I’ve confronted numerous transformations or at least the beginning of them.  My college-bound child is transforming from a high school student to a man who will be launched into a Military academy.  My mother in law was transformed into a widow by the sudden stopping of a heartbeat. Cancer has transformed people that I love. God has transformed unbelievers in my life into Warriors for Him.

Pondering transformation and nature, the butterfly comes to mind as one of the most amazing transformations in the insect world. The Greek word for transformation  is metamorphoo (met-am-or-fo’-o)which is why we call what happens to the butterfly Metamorphosis.  In all of its stages from egg, to caterpillar to chrysalis to beautiful winged masterpiece, it undergoes obvious transformation.

I came across the verse below and while I’d heard it and studied it before, the word TRANSFORMATION seemed to really jump out at me.

” And do not be conformed   to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind,

that you may prove what [is] that good and acceptable and perfect   will of God.”  Roman’s 12: 2

What does renewing of the mind mean?

Renewing the mind sounds like something we have to do daily.  It has a lot to do about where we focus and what we focus on.  The Bible says to set our minds on the things above:

“Set your mind on things above, not on things on the cearth.” ~Col 3:2.  How can we not focus on this Earth, we live here?  Yes, we live here, but we need to remember it is NOT our home.  Our true home is in heaven with the Father.  So we need to keep focusing on our Heavenly Home.

 We are called to focus on spiritual things. Romans 8:5 says:  “For hthose who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, [focus on]ithe things of the Spirit.”

When any species goes through metamorphosis it requires fuel for the process…as do we.  We need to be mindful of what we are fueling our mind with.  If we feed on the “bread of life” or nourish our spirits with the word of God daily, we’ll be fueled up for the transforming of our minds.

And while the transforming of my basement will add resale value, the Transforming of our minds has eternal value.

Point to Ponder: How have you experienced transformation in your life recently?

(Thanks www.lindajackmanphotography.com for these images)

 

Mirage – Tasting sand or tears?

Still working on my class about Connecting with our Creator through his creations and I am exploring how the Bible mentions weather as teacher and consequence.  While looking at an old homeschooling resource about weather, I stumbled on a section on mirages.

 “A mirage is defined as: a naturally occurring optical phenomenon in which light rays are bent to produce a displaced (distorted) image of distant objects or the sky.

It is a real optical phenomenon which can be captured on camera, since light rays actually are refracted to form the false image at the observer’s location. What the image appears to represent, however, is determined by the interpretive faculties of the human mind.” (yeah its wiki but its right and in plain English)

“Peary could clearly see the mountain tops of “Crocker Land” across the polar ice pack, but it was only an Arctic Mirage.” (Copyright Lee Krystek, 1998)

Looking at images of mirages and reading stories about people fooled by them, either in the deserts, on mountain tops or even on deserted highways, something sparked in my mind.

  www.lindajackmanphotography.com

To have a mirage you must have heat and pressure.  Satan dwells in hell which is a hot place.  How often does he use a “mirage” of sorts to make something sinful or wrong seem acceptable? The father of lies  turns up the heat and distorts our view pressuring us to stumble.

www.lindajackmanphotography.com

This happens when we take our eyes off where God wants us to be like when we don’t seek him before we leap into a new direction, relationship or ministry. 

A mirage may fool us into believing  that person seems way more kind and Godly than our spouse, that promotion way more lucrative, that opportunity way more inviting.  Perhaps the mirage makes us think that movie or TV show or that music is way less offensive and vile.

We are tricked into a distorted image of reality.  But we are ripe for it, if we’ve let our vision stray from the truth and the source of light – God.  Even NOBLE deeds can be mirages if they are NOT in accordance with God’s plan for our lives. Pursuing them, leads to disobedience.

www.lindajackmanphotography.com

And like a thirsty soul in the desert uses his last bit of strength to fall hard over the hill to the oasis below, we fall hard into sin and the lies of Satan.  And for us, just like that thirsty soul, the reality is ugly when we hit the bottom and see the miragefor what it really is – a lie.  Heartbroken the desert dweller gasps sand and we who’ve broken God’s heart and possibly the hearts of others taste the salt of our own tears.

Point to Ponder:  Are you sucking in sand or tasting salty tears due to chasing a mirage?  What steps do you need to take to for a reality check. How can you fix your eyes on the true source of light?

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Big Snows and Little Flakes (Guest Blogger)

GUEST BLOGGER INTRO Today I am hosting my sweet friend Annie as my guest blogger. A nature lover and a God lover like I am, her take on the snow is simply wonderful. She is also the writer who wrote the questions at the end of the chapters in “Beside the Sea with Thee”.

Today is Epiphany! An apt day to write about insights and ideas. One of the thoughts that has been floating around in my mind these past few weeks is about snow. We have had an unusually snowy December and the first truly white Christmas since our family has lived in this house. The snow-covered world around us is quite welcome at Christmastime and makes it easy to enjoy its beauty.

I love the look of trees and bushes that have been draped with lights, then smothered in the snow so the lights glow through it. I love the way a blanket of snow makes everything more beautiful – from bare tree branches to a pile of junk in someone’s back yard. I love the sweeping scenery that snow creates across the landscape of hills and forests around western Pennsylvania. And though I don’t live in the mountains, I have been to the Rockies in winter, and I carry pictures in my heart of their grandeur beneath the falling snow.

These visions outside my window and inside my memories stir my awe and wonder at the vast and majestic nature of God and His creations.

Then, there are the snowflakes themselves. If you get really close to them, perhaps with a magnifying glass, you see another world of beauty. Not being someone who enjoys getting cold, I prefer to look at photographs of snowflakes! We have books with incredible pictures of snowflakes along with detailed explanations of how they form, the different classes of flakes, the conditions that create the facets and branches of each kind of flake… it’s amazing. The crystalline structures are exquisite, and there are so many different kinds of snowflakes! We rarely get to see them in all their glory, but they are there nonetheless.

These stunning photos astonish me with God’s creativity and attention to details.

Snow, on a macro scale or a micro scale, reflects and reveals its Creator. Where do you find Him?

Think about it!

Annie
Photo of Road Courtesy of Hannah I. Shoemaker
Photo of Snowflake Courtesy of Linda Jackman Photography http://lindajackmanphotography.com/

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Who Hijacked my Jesus? Or Nature vs. Nurture

The other day I watched an amazing video of one of God’s best creations. It was a lovely black lab who “adopted” a litter of abandoned kittens and literally nursed them back to health. Remarkable feline and canine connected. I’ve pondered that change in species; the DNA differences, it’s a paradigm shift to see a dog nursing kittens and plucking them lovingly from danger.

That same day I watched a group of people in the name of my Jesus; taunt, mock and judge a grieving family at a military funeral in Washington D.C.

That is not what Jesus taught. If Jesus was still in human form would he link arms with that bashing, insulting “preacher” most definitely not. Did Jesus ever go to a funeral and taunt the grieving? Where is this example in scripture? It basically isn’t so how can they claim this action in the name of Jesus.

Last week I listened to someone extolling the virtues of an extra marital affair. She claimed the Lord brought this person into her life to make her happy; despite being married to her husband. Basically saying this “home wrecker” was an answer to prayer. Really? I looked for justification in the scriptures for extramarital relations and I couldn’t find it there either. Why was she giving Jesus the credit for this introduction? Can you picture it? Jesus saying to the Woman at the Well, “Oh yeah and here’s a number for another guy for you to check out despite your being married?

That is not what Jesus taught. Basically Jesus is being hijacked.

” For I am the Lord, I do not change’ Therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob.” In like manner Hebrews 13:8 says: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”

It would seem in order to lend credibility to our beliefs, passions and desires we hijack the Jesus from the scriptures and morph him into something that justifies behavior, attitudes or actions. We use Jesus as an endorsement for our thinking no matter how unscriptural it is.

While a dog can change its nurturing habits it can’t change its nature it is still a dog.

God often changes his nurturing habits. Sometimes he loves us with tough love, sometimes he blesses us beyond belief. His nature doesn’t ever change “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” He is a changeless God.

I am the Lord, I do not change” (Malachi 3:6)

The Bible speaks to his character and his nature. The Bible is also called the Living Word of God. God is changeless. So is his Word.

We run a huge risk at morphing Jesus to justify us. When we change the nature of God, we change his character which in turn pulls us from the TRUTH of the scriptures that govern our lives. We then are governing our lives by a truth that is only our own truth, not the Truth of the Bible. This path leads us to sin. Because not obeying God is basically disobedience which can only be described as sin.

Point to Ponder: Are you morphing Jesus to justify something in your life? Would that be something Jesus would join you in doing or thinking?

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