Tag Archives: Lake Powell

Open Your Eyes To The Adventure

It wasn’t raining cats and dogs—it was coming down more like boulders and trees. Not something anyone wants when you and nine other people are crammed into a 40 foot houseboat.

Last week I made my annual pilgrimage—our seventh in a row—to Lake Powell in southern Utah. The lake is really the Colorado River with a dam at the Utah/Arizona border. Further south it becomes the Grand Canyon. So imagine a lake encompassed by Grand Canyon-like walls and 96 smaller canyons porcupining the edges.

If you spend much time with Kelley and me, you’ve probably grown tired of our constant references to our favorite vacation spot…unless you’ve been there. The views are breathtaking and the water is perfect for outdoor water sports, especially water skiing.

Hence our disappointment with the fierce mid-morning downpour. After securing our air mattresses on top of the houseboat and collecting our towels that were drying on the deck, we shoehorned all 10 people into an area no bigger than an average-sized bedroom. And we waited for the storm to clear.

Bored and disappointed, I poked my head out of the front of the boat, which was facing the canyon wall and looked to the side, awestruck by the immense volumes of water that were coming down. Then suddenly, I heard this shush-ing behind me. “Look!” someone cried out.

Immediately to my left, a huge waterfall began forming. A good friend had told me this happens during heavy rainstorms on the canyon, but I had forgotten. About 250 yards away, sheets of water were blanketing the monolithic stone wall. After a few moments, the cascade focused into a 20 foot wide, constantly shifting stream that began 300 feet above.

I could hardly believe my eyes.

Suddenly, my friend Charles jumped off the boat and began climbing over the rocky surface toward the falls. Why didn’t I think of that? I asked myself. Then I threw on my shoes and followed him. To my amazement, Charles’ 10 year old son was halfway between us, trekking toward the adventure. He wasn’t wearing any shoes, but he didn’t let that tidbit of trivia deter him.

Finally, after a 10 minute climb, I found myself beneath the streaming water. Overwhelmed by the exhilarating, once-in-a-lifetime experience, I began yelling at the top of my lungs.

Ten minutes later the storm ended and ten minutes after that, the falls subsided and we began our hike back to the boat.

Here’s what I learned from the experience:

We can watch the adventure or we can join it. All too often, I settle for watching the adventure take place. If Charles hadn’t led the way, I would have watched the unbelievable experience rather than joined it.

Disappointments can BE the adventure.  Initially, I was pretty disheartened by the morning rainstorm—it was upsetting my plans. But in the end, the storm presented me with a experience that I’ll never forget. Disappointments can be like that. I don’t want to overspiritualize it, but when Scripture tells us that “in all things God works for the good” (Romans 8:28), I think he meant it.

I doubt he sent a rainstorm solely so we could enjoy the waterfall, but on a greater level, our disappointments, our storms, our pain, can work toward a greater good. For our good. If we’re committed to his purposes and we keep our eyes open to the adventure.

Michael serves as co-pastor of The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, Colorado.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Evidence Of Real Power

“Power is when we have every justification to kill, and we don’t,” Oskar Schindler described to Amon Goeth in the movie Schindler’s List.

“You think that’s power?” the hardened Jewish labor camp commandante asked.
“That’s what the Emperor said,” Schindler answered back. “A man steals something, he’s brought in before the Emperor, he throws himself down on the ground. He begs for his life, he knows he’s going to die. And the Emperor…pardons him. This worthless man, he lets him go.”

“I think you are drunk.”

“That’s power, Amon. That is power.”

Join me today as we take a closer look at real power.

TODAY’S READING

1 Chronicles 19:1-21:30
Romans 2:25-3:8
Psalm 11:1-7
Proverbs 19:10-12

INSIGHTS AND EXPLANATIONS

1 Chronicles 19:1-21:30. Chapter 19 parallels 2 Samuel 10, chapter 20 parallels 2 Samuel 11, 12:15-22, and chapter 21 parallels 2 Samuel 24.

During this period of David’s life, the Chronicler retells the stories of David’s successes, but overlooks David’s shortcomings. At this point in David’s reign, he committed adultery with Bathsheba and strategized Uriah’s death. However, this sordid story is ignored.

How should we respond to this? We must remember that the Chronicles were written as a commentary on causes behind Israel’s successes and failures. Because David owned up to his sin and repented, it didn’t directly cause the kingdom to fall. It faltered, but it didn’t fall.

However, when it comes to the census, the Chronicler does reveal David’s poor judgment—and it definitely affected the kingdom of Israel. Scholars believe the reason this story is also included is because it explains the background of the location of the temple.

So why was it wrong for David to take a census? Scholars aren’t sure, but the New Bible Commentary speculates:

Perhaps as this one was a military list, David’s motives were wrong. Chronicles often makes the point that Israel’s real security lay in trust in its God, not in the size of its army (e.g. 2 Chronicles 14:11; 16:8).

Scholars also explain that Araunah, whose land is used for the site of the tabernacle, wasn’t even an Israelite. He was a Jebusite who lived in Jerusalem. Although likely a pagan, he recognized God’s hand on David and Israel, as well as the presence of the death angel. Consider this: the temple of Yahweh was located on land previously owned by a pagan gentile as the result of King David’s sin.

What does this mean?

I’d be curious to read your responses, but this fact tells me the foundation of God’s work in the world was (and still is) to reach the whole world, not just insiders. Also, it tells me that God is in the business of redeeming our sin.

Romans 2:25-3:8. Continuing his assault on the sensibilities of every good, religious person, Paul now sets his sights on circumcision. Circumcision singled out every good Jew from the run-of-the-mill Gentile. Paul then says in Romans 2:29, “A man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code.”

If you’ve found A Daily Bible Conversation helpful, share it with your friends! Forward your daily email or send them a link to the website: http://www.bibleconversation.com.

THE CONVERSATION CONTINUES

If you haven’t joined the conversation, it isn’t too late to start. Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve had some great conversations  about our daily readings. If you’re interested, either contribute to today’s conversation or check out the last ten days’ postings—or both!

THE WORD MADE FRESH

As I mentioned last weekend, every year my wife and I spend a week on a houseboat on Lake Powell with another couple and members of their family. One night on the boat last week, the husband and I reflected on a common experience that had been equally painful to both of us.

Suddenly, I felt some unexpected energy rise up within me. Wow—I’m still angry about the offense, I reflected to myself.

So, reading through Proverbs 19:11 today sent me deeper into reflection:

A man’s wisdom gives him patience;

it is to his glory to overlook an offense.

It is to my glory to overlook an offense!

Interestingly enough, throughout Scripture we read that God deserves (and requires) all our glory. But if we want to look like God—if we want a taste of his glory—we’ll overlook an offense.

So how do we do this? The keyword in that last phrase is “overlook.” When I overlook something, I act as if I’d never seen it. In the context of forgiveness, it means treating the offending party as if they’d never committed a trespass.

But deeper still, overlooking an offense must mean more than just glossing over an offense. It means living as if the offense had never occurred. It even goes so far as treating the offending party the same way as before.

This is why overlooking an offense is our glory: God overlooks our offenses in the same way. He loves us after our offense against him the same as before. He treats us the same as before. He accepts us the same way as before. When we yield our lives to God through his son Jesus and confess our need for his all-forgiving pardon, he pardons us.

Do you want a share in God’s glory? Then overlook your offenses.

CONVERSATION STARTERS

  1. What spoke to you in today’s reading?
  2. What significance do you find in knowing that the temple was constructed on land previously owned by a pagan Gentile and resulting from King David’s sin?
  3. What offenses are hard for you to overlook? Why?
  4. What offenses have you committed that you’re thankful God has chosen to overlook?
  5. What does this tell you about God?

If you’re reading this blog on FaceBook and you’d like to join the conversation, click here.

www.bibleconversation.com

Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church with Eugene Scott in Littleton, Colorado.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The Value Of Beauty

For the last five years, my wife and I have spent a week every summer on a houseboat at Lake Powell in southern Utah. The “lake” comprises the Colorado River which runs into a dam at the Utah-Arizona border—just before it leads into the Grand Canyon. The backed-up river fills in the crevices of the Glen Canyon, offering almost 2000 miles of breathtaking shoreline.

The views around the lake are utterly amazing. At any point along our route, the canyon walls can rise above us for hundreds of feet.

But my favorite part of the week occurs every morning around 6:30. My friends Bobby, Jill, and I jump into their ski boat and water ski while the sun comes up. Skiing on water as smooth as glass while the sun reflects off the fiery canyon walls often inspires me to yell at the top of my lungs in praise to God.

“The heavens declare the glory of God,” David wrote in Psalm 19:1, affirming something all of us intuitively know: Beauty inspires worship.

To what extent does beauty inspire worship? Is it limited to scenic vistas or can it apply to objects and edifices constructed by human hands?

Please join me as we explore this subject in our daily conversation.

TODAY’S READING

1 Kings 7:1-51
Acts 7:30-50
Psalm 128:1-6
Proverbs 16:31-33

INSIGHTS AND EXPLANATIONS

1 Kings 7:1-51. The opening words of this chapter reveal a crack in the foundation of Solomon’s rule. While he spent 7 years building the temple, he spent 13 years (almost twice as long) constructing his palace. In the Hebrew text, “his palace” is mentioned twice in verse 1, accentuating the difference between God’s house and Solomon’s house. By the time he completed the construction, Solomon’s house dwarfed God’s house.

Acts 7:30-50. This reading leads us to the end of Stephen’s sermon, which is the longest sermon in the book of Acts, longer even than Peter’s or Paul’s.

If you’ve found A Daily Bible Conversation helpful, share it with your friends! Forward your daily email or send them a link to the website: http://www.bibleconversation.com.

THE WORD MADE FRESH

The last couple of days in our reading, I’ve been struck by the extravagance in the construction not only of Solomon’s palace, but also of the temple. Solomon spared no expense in decorating God’s house with the finest materials and hiring the most gifted artisans. Such extravagance would surely offend the sensibilities of most people in our generation.

This begs the question, “Was Solomon justified in his extravagance?”

Yes.

Solomon constructed a temple that exhibited a sense of beauty befitting the God of the universe. Although I’m definitely a “function over form” kind of person, I admit that the value of beauty all too often gets overlooked in our society.

All beauty—whether naturally formed or humanly created—begins with God. And when we imbibe of its magnificence, it points us to the Creator.

Interestingly enough, Stephen reminded the Sanhedrin in his sermon in Acts 7 that “the Most High does not live in houses made by men” (verse 48). These specimens of beauty were never intended to serve as the focus of our worship, but to point us to the infinite God who transcends the heavens and the earth.

So the next time you see something beautiful, let it draw your attention to the One who has graciously shared it with you.

CONVERSATION STARTERS

  1. What spoke to you in today’s reading?
  2. How do you define beauty?
  3. What objects of beauty inspire you to worship God?

If you’re reading this blog on FaceBook and you’d like to join the conversation, click here.

www.bibleconversation.com

Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, Colorado.

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized