Robin’s Nest

Several years ago I was on retreat and observed a robin out the kitchen window, building a nest. Here are a few photos.

There is a very large maple tree outside my window where I now pray. A few weeks ago I saw lots of activity as robins went back and forth and then I saw the nest site.

The nest in the maple tree was industriously built. One morning during construction it was scampered through by reckless squirrels. The robin chased that squirrel. I have not seen him come through that way again!

Eventually completed it is beginning to be shrouded by maple leaves. But, alas, it seems abandoned. I have not seen a single robin there for over a week. Another week went past. No bird activity on the nest. This observed construction set me thinking about our places of abiding with God.

The nest was built as a safe place to place eggs, hatch them, raise young birds. No one seems to know why birds build nests and then abandon the same nests. It was set apart as the home place. And then abandoned.

Why share this? It made me think of our lives as Christians. I know many people who say they used to go to church. They used to teach Sunday School. They used to do this and that with the Body of Christ. And now, they don’t. They began to build upon a sure foundation and then they abandoned the effort. So many reasons: feelings got hurt, lost sight of the point, did not get anything out of the new preacher’s sermons, too busy with kids sports. I find it sad. I also believe if we have a relationship with Christ, along with activities at church, we are much less likely to abandon building our faith if we are co-laborers with God in working out our own salvation.

Therefore, my dear friends, just as you have always obeyed, so now, not only in my presence but even more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.

Phil 2:12 CSB

Obedience to our call … work out our own salvation … I am not to work out your salvation or Bob’s, but my own.

I want to explore this further the next few posts. I am finding it somewhat difficult to pull these thoughts together coherently. I will keep “putting my hand to the plow” and see what I can communicate.

Hello Again!

We were on vacation and I have been trying a medication change. Put together I not only did not write, I did not even post that I would return in a week or so.

What was I thinkin’? Not much evidently! Close friends told me to take a break. Somehow I thought I could press on. Oh well.

In case you have not been to the Atlantic ocean lately, here is a sequence of sunrise photos for your enjoyment. Bob said I would have to get up early if I wanted to see the sunrise. I was up before he was that one day. It was the ONLY morning I got up for the entire display!

5:37 AM Yes, Mercury, Venus and I do not know what else shining up there!
5:45 AM Can barely see planets now
6:20 AM Wondered will it rain here today? {It did not}
Another 6:20 image further to the left
6:26 AM Here she comes!
6:29 AM There she is accented with a Pac Man smile
6:36 AM

And then it became too bright to photograph or write on the deck!

In the last photo you can see the gulls began to awaken and scream over the sea. Soon the pelicans would begin to patrol in troops seeking breakfast.

I hope the 7 sunrise photos amused you. I was delighted to break our usual routine and see the ocean once again. I stand and praise as in Nehemiah,

And the Levites—Jeshua, Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabneiah, Sherebiah, Hodiah, Shebaniah and Pethahiah—said: “Stand up and praise the Lord your God, who is from everlasting to everlasting.”

“Blessed be your glorious name, and may it be exalted above all blessing and praise. You alone are the Lord. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you.

“You are the Lord God, who chose Abram and brought him out of Ur of the Chaldeans and named him Abraham.

Nehemiah 9:5-7 NIV

So, too, may the Lord God call you out of enemy territory and name you as His own. I pray you will follow wherever He leads you, just as Abraham did. Amen.

Amy Carmichael

For years I have read and re-read Amy Carmichael’s devotional book “The Edges of His Ways.” If I miss a day or two, no worries. I use it as a reference point and will likely hit the reading another year. She served the Lord in South India from 1895 to 1951. (The book is available used and at both Christian Book Distributors and on Amazon. I buy many used books online at Abe Books.)

We have been taught the value of gratitude and how it improves our health. Even Amy knew the power when she reminds us to “hunt the good, make an intentional, deliberate, ongoing effort to tune in to what’s good in your world.”

That is part of what powers this blog, Treasures in Plain Sight; hunting the good, the holy, the hilarious, the somber yet good that comes to each of us. It is there for the finding. We must pay attention to our surroundings.

What have you found lately in your hunting?

The other day I had a short errand to do and it began to pour rain. When I returned I told Bob “There must be a rainbow out there some where, but I could not see it. Rain clouds, pouring rain, sunshine … Likely someone will post on Facebook tonight, “Did you see the rainbow?” Instead of getting frustrated that I did not see one I will be interested to see who found it and what their vantage point was. Hopefully they will post a photo, too! That will be good for my soul.

The Edges of His Ways – how you might find and enjoy the Presence of the Lord on a day to day basis from your community work, from your sickbed, from your musing or prayerful meditation.

The title Edges reminds me of the woman with the issue of blood in the New Testament. As I looked up the reference I found 2 other similar passages. The references are Matthew 9:20, Matthew 14:36 and Mark 6:56.

And suddenly, a woman who had a flow of blood for twelve years came from behind and touched the hem of His garment. 21 For she said to herself, “If only I may touch His garment, I shall be made well.” 22 But Jesus turned around, and when He saw her He said, “Be of good cheer, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And the woman was made well from that hour.

Matthew 9:20-22

Mark 6:56 is almost identical. Then Matthew 14:35-36 says

And when the men of that place recognized Him, they sent out into all that surrounding region, brought to Him all who were sick, 36 and begged Him that they might only touch the hem of His garment. And as many as touched it were made perfectly well.

Matthew 14:35-36

All they wanted to do was touch the hem of His garment. They did not need an audience with the King. Just a touch of His clothing. Many historians and scholars have noted they were not after the actual hem of the fabric, but one of the tassels on the corners.

The word translated, hem, is actually referring to the fringes, or tassels (called tzitziyot, in Hebrew), required to be on the four corners of all clothing of Jewish men, in accordance with God’s instruction:

“The Lord said to Moses, ‘Speak to the Israelites and say to them: Throughout the generations to come, you are to make tassels on the corners of one’s garments, with a blue cord on each tassel. You will have these tassels to look at and so will remember all the commands of the Lord, that you may obey them and not prostitute yourselves by going after the lusts of your own hearts and eyes. Then you will remember to obey all My commands, and will be consecrated to your God. I am the Lord your God.'”(Numbers 15:37-41)

Website Refiner’s Fire https://www.therefinersfire.org/tallit.htm

How did Jesus do that? I honestly do not know. “As many as touched it were made perfectly well.” We do not have His garment or the tassels. If we did it would likely be down to just thread after centuries of people wanting to touch it. We do, however, have the indwelling Holy Spirit. I can be made better by seeking the Lord and earnestly wanting to touch the hem of His garment. No, my chronic health conditions have not vanished, but He cheers me and guides me in paths of right living and thinking. His word “quickens me.”

Charles Martin has a wonderfully clear description of the tassels in his book What If It’s True? A Storyteller’s Journey with Jesus, chapter two.

If you do not own this book I suggest you purchase it or get it from the library. Ours has both audio and eBook versions as well as the paper one. Chapter two is entitled “We are all bleeders.”

Martin writes: Note the meanings: Cover. Refuge. Deliverance. Trust. Because God is practical and He didn’t want His people to forget, He took this one step further. Brought it closer to home.

God told Moses to have the people make a tassel for each corner of their prayer cloth. Jesus wore this, too.

The crowd shoves, and pushes, and tightens, and she is losing sight of this Man named Jesus of Nazareth. In desperation, she lunges, extends her reach, and grasps the corner of His garment. His shirt. The tassel. The wing. She clings. Holds tightly. He feels the tug. Feels the power leave. She feels it enter.”

Have you sought the Lord, perhaps hunting in His Word, and felt the quickening of your spirit? He is able today to refresh and touch you.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.5 For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.

2 Corinthians 1:3-5

Jesus Calling Quote

If I am the Master of your life, I will also be your First Love. Your serving Me is rooted and grounded in My vast, unconditional Love for you. The lower you bow down before Me, the higher I lift you up into intimate relationship with Me. The Joy of living in My Presence outshines all other pleasures. I want you to reflect My joyous Light by living in increasing intimacy with Me.

And there is the point. We serve Jesus not out of coercion or duty. We serve because we are rooted and grounded in His love, His vast unconditional love for us. A man I knew years ago taught us much about the power and love of Christ. He often quoted this hymn form memory.

“I had a debt I could not pay,
He paid the debt He did not owe,
I needed someone,
To wash my sins away.
And now I sing a brand new song,
“Amazing grace” all day long,
Christ Jesus paid the debt,
That I could never pay.”

Recently the First 15 app said, “ The truth is that until we experience for ourselves both the goodness and power of our heavenly Father, the truth of his provision will only ever feel like a heady, theological principle. Until we experience firsthand the character and provision of our God, fear will remain.”

As Bob and I travel home from our vacation, I am reminded of Ephesians again. “We are rooted and grounded” in that vast, almost unimaginable love that Christ extends to us. Rooted deeply and strongly. When we think things are not going well, He can reframe our thoughts and give us joy.

Relax and ask God to open your eyes, as First 15 urges, that you, also, might experience both the goodness and power of our Heavenly Father on your behalf. Move out of the heady theological principle into the reality of His Presence.

Someone left us a surprise on the beach!

Our quarters on vacation were just fine Outside, well, not so much. They are dredging sand out of the ocean to replenish he beach a mile or so down the way. A machine in the ocean makes such a racket 24/7 that we cannot hear the waves pound the beach from the deck on our unit. The monotony of the noise also makes me very sleepy…like the buzz of a bad fluorescent bulb. So reading on the deck is a challenge as my body just wants to sleep.

We love to pick up shells. the ships doing the dredging and the dredging process grins up the shells as they suck up the sand. Oops. Basically no shells on this beach. At best, tiny broken pieces. Good news! We have been to 2 beaches nearby that usually have great shelling. The challenge, getting there at the right time calculated by the tides.

Guess what! Father provided enough shells, even though some are very tiny, in enough variety to satisfy us. As the saying goes, “A bad day at the beach is better than a good day at home!”

Screams of joy as children challenge the waves, laughing and running away from the edge of the water.

We have had fun. We are grateful to get away from home and break up the routine. We serve because we are rooted in that vast, unconditional love and on these beaches I bow low before my God and Lord. He has kept us in all our ways. Our eyes are ever upon Him. And we say thank you.

The joy of living in His presence truly outshines the piles of shells we have explored over our lives. But yes, I was terribly spoiled by visiting Boca Grande, Florida. That, too, was indeed a gift.

Humor All Around Me

In February the gas station built a fortress. There were 60 bags in a block. The piles of blocks numbered at least 12. They were getting a start for mulch sales.

There were snow piles in the shade. Ice on the ponds. One pond had a black swan alone while there was a pack of 6 white swans clustered together.

We drove through the unremarkable city of Plain.

Driving down the road we passed a hearse on a tow truck. “Hmm,” I mused and asked Bob, “Does that make it twice dead?” Then I remembered the first verse below. The second verse is glorious!

And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, 28 so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.

Hebrews 9:27-28 NKJV

The sign read, “Right on red arrow after stop.” I was bewildered as the lane only went left.

A man pushing his cart down the lane in Home Depot. I was waiting for new bedroom blinds to be cut. His phone announced, “Continue east on 125.” I cracked up! Either he had already arrived or was very, very lost.

In early March we were driving and I saw parched, dead, brown gray stubble in fields and yards. It was not a corn field waiting to be plowed under. Perhaps grass in a dormant stage?

Then suddenly in April there was green, green grass splashed with neon yellow dandelions and if someone had splattered neon paint. Bees are so grateful as are other pollinators! Please don’t kill all the dandelions!

Well, perhaps not the all important pollen source they were reported to be? https://www.gardenmyths.com/dandelions-important-bees/ says the following …

“I spoke to one of the researchers at the Honey Bee Research Center, University of Guelph and asked him about the bees first food.

“Around here, zone 5, Ontario, “their first important food source is tree pollen. Long before flowers become important, honey bees are in the top of trees collecting pollen. Maples, elms, poplars and willows are important as a first food” and they flower before dandelions.

“They gather dandelion pollen when other pollen is not available.”

Some trees are wind pollinated and produce a lot of pollen. They also have a very concentrated source which means bees don’t have to fly long distances between flowers to get it.”

State of the Heart

From First 15: “Our heavenly Father is the giver of every good gift. His mercies are vast, powerful, and real. His love has the ability to completely overwhelm and satisfy every one of our needs. Everything he gives us satisfies, transforms, and leads us to abundant life. As we spend this week stirring up our affections toward God, allow your heart to become soft and open. Allow his loving character to draw you close and provide life to every dry and weary place in your soul.” Here is the online link https://www.first15.org/04/25/god-gives-peace/ You can also subscribe to the podcast.

Have you seen stones that seem to be in the shape of a heart? In almost any place with loose stones you can occasionally find a stone in the shape of a heart. Could it be a message for you? God wants us to have a heart that is open to His touch. He knows the thoughts of our hearts. He knows what lives in our heart. He is able to change, cleanse and help our hearts.

In the Old Testament He wrote

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.27 And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.

Ezekiel 36:26-27 NIV

Have you examined your heart to see if you are open to His touch? Open not just when it is convenient or feels good, but open to His every instruction as each day unfolds.

“This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.”

Hebrews 10:16 NIV

He will put His laws in our hearts. He will write upon our minds. As a senior citizen I believe this is terrific! Yes, we do tend to forget things, but the Father is not going to let aging prevent us knowing what He desires. Perhaps one of the greatest promises of all is found in Jeremiah.

You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart.

Jeremiah 29:13

Have you sought God with all your heart? Is your heart soft towards Him? Can you imagine how soft the heart of Jesus must have been to yield to the sacrifice that the Father required on our behalf? I return again and again to the song by Andrew Peterson. If you watch the video the veins in the living heart remind me of the veins in the rock heart above.

Next time you see a stone in the shape of a heart ask the Lord if that is a message to you about your heart. It very well could be He is trying to get your attention!

Bob Walks Lucky

Almost every morning at 8 AM Bob walks Lucky. As they went around the retention pond recently they came across these lovely deer.

As soon as he got home Bob said, “I have something to show you!” And shared those two photos. Moments later, a neighbor texted me saying, “I was taking a picture of the deer and look who entered the frame.”

We live in a fun neighborhood!

Often while walking Lucky Bob is listening to Morning Prayer or a devotional blog. I think these verses fit these photos perfectly!

Just like a deer that craves streams of water,
    my whole being craves you, God.
My whole being thirsts for God, for the living God.
    When will I come and see God’s face?

Psalm 42:1-2 CEB

Humility?

The Bible has things to say about humility and the world has many misconceptions of that character trait. Our youngest pastor was speaking about this last week. He was talking about how his young sons try to outdo one another being Dad’s favorite. He was contrasting the kids behavior to the Lord asking us to value others as better than ourselves.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves

Philippians 2:3 NIV

The Lord taught about humility and He modeled humility for us in His life and in His death.

Jesus said, “But if you are as humble as this child, you are the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

Matthew 18:4 CEV

Jesus also said, “All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted.

Matthew 23:12 NRSV

He (Jesus) humbled himself

    and became obedient to the point of death—

    even death on a cross.

Philippians 2:8 NRSV

Willie Nelson sings this song written by Mac Davis that shows how the world sees humility. Such a far cry from the Word, but humorous none the less.

How do you view humility? According to the Word or Mac Davis and the world?

Lean Hard into Him

Have you had days when the same old same old seems to crush your spirit? Or days when you want to declare “Some old “S***, different day!” Each of us gets caught in the seemingly mundane go-round that I would not call merry. How to get away from that?

One cry of my heart goes out in this song we learned years ago at the Vineyard. I pray it helps lift you, too.

The eternal God is your refuge,

    and underneath are the everlasting arms.

He will drive out your enemies before you,

    saying, ‘Destroy them!’

Deuteronomy 33:27

Have You Eaten a Meal with a Ghost?

It is said that Jesus appeared to His disciples at least 10 times after His resurrection and before His ascension. There were likely other appearances that are not recorded, for Scripture says,

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book.

John 20:30 NRSV

After the Risen Lord appeared to the men on the Road to Emmaus, they reported their experience to the disciples in Jerusalem.

That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. 34 They were saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!” 35 Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread. 36 While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 37 They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. 38 He said to them, “Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39 Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” 40 And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. 41 While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he took it and ate in their presence.

LUKE 24:34-43 NRSV

“In their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering.” Oh isn’t that just like us? He was not an apparition of some kind, but a living, breathing, resurrected man! The song by Andrew Peterson that I posted Easter Day has been beating in my veins for days. I just have to play it over and over again. Not from unbelief, mind you, but in celebration and rejoicing! He is alive and inhabiting His people. Rejoice in that!

His heart beats
His blood begins to flow
Waking up what was dead a moment ago
And His heart beats, now everything is changed
'Cause the blood that brought us peace with God
Is racing through His veins
And His heart beats
His heart beats

He breathes in
His living lungs expand
The heavy air surrounding death turns to breath again
He breathes out
He is word and flesh once more
The Lamb of God slain for us is a Lion ready to roar
And His heart beats

So crown Him the Lord of Life
Crown Him the Lord of Love
Crown Him the Lord of All

He took one breath
And put death to death
Where is your sting, O grave?
How grave is your defeat
I know, I know His heart beats

He rises, glorified in flesh
Clothed in immortality, the firstborn from the dead
He rises, and His work's already done
So He's resting as He rises to reclaim the Bride He won
And His heart beats

So crown Him the Lord of Life
Crown Him the Lord of Love
Crown Him the Lord of All

The last enemy to be destroyed is death
The last enemy to be destroyed is death
He must reign until no enemy is left
The last enemy to be destroyed, to be destroyed is death

His heart beats, He will never die again
I know that death no longer has dominion over Him
So my heart beats with the rhythm of the saints
As I look for the seeds the King has down
To burst up from their graves

How great, how great is His victory
I know, I know His heart beats
I know, I know His heart beats
His heart beats