Saturday, August 18, 2018

Exchanging Wildfire Smoke for Wildflower Beauty

Mt Shuksan and Reflection Lake
The wildfire smoke from Eastern Washington and British Columbia had hung in the air for days. It was beginning to feel oppressive. So we picked up my mom and headed to Mt Baker, where we traded in the wildfires for wildflowers.

I was excited for this day trip, although I didn't have much confidence that the air quality would be better at Artist Point (just past the ski area at Mt Baker) than it was at sea level, where we live. Nor did I understand how you can travel closer to Canada, where many of the fires were burning, and yet not have the smoke. But that's what we found.

To get to Artist Point, take Interstate 5 to Bellingham, and get of at exit 255, WA 542-E/Mt Baker Hwy.  Follow the signs (or you GPS) to Artist Point. It took us about two hours to make the trip from Stanwood. We drove through beautiful farmland and passed rivers, giant trees, and small towns. My body relaxed more with each mile. Although the drive up the mountain is winding and mostly without guardrails. the roads are well maintained and safe. The sky, free of most of the smoke, held  just enough clouds to provide drama for our photos.

My Grampa Blanton was a tall, strong man who spent most of his life in the woods of the North Cascades, cutting down trees. About 17 miles from our destination we found this bronze sculpture which was recently installed at the Glacier Public Service Center to honor lumberjacks. It gave Mom a perfect photo op as well as some special memories.

My first glimpse of wildflowers. (Notice the switchbacks far below the trees and plants.)
Somehow I had a mental picture of the fields being filled with wildflowers, everywhere you look, when you go to the mountains in July and August. The reality is that I have never seen such a spectacle. Still, there were many beautiful flowers as well as glorious mountain scenes that called for numerous oohhhs and aahhhs.

My favorite photographer with Mt Shuksan in the background

Mt Shuksan

And when it was time to drive back down the mountain we were filled up with the beauty and the fresh air and the time we got to spend together.

Mt Baker

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

How's You Love Life?

Genuine love honors others. It also honors Christ. Here's a slightly modified version of a list that made its rounds on Facebook several years ago and, although I posted it in 2011, it seems like this would be a great time to share it again.

1. Listen without interrupting. He who answers before listening, this is his folly and his shame (Proverbs 18:13). Ouch!

2. Speak without accusing. My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry (James 1:19).

3. Answer without arguing.  Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid (Provers 12:1). Don't justify yourself or make excuses. Listen for the truth. It just may be that the one speaking to you is offering you a gift that will help you grow.

4. Trust without wavering. It [love] always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres (1 Corinthians 13:7).

5. Share without pretending. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the head, that is, Christ (Ephesians 4:15). Be real: live the truth; speak the truth.

6. Give without sparing. All day long he [the sluggard] craves for more, but the righteous give without sparing (Proverbs 21:26). If God did not spare his Son on our behalf, we can be generous with others.

7. Promise without forgetting. Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life (Proverbs 13:12).

8. Forgive without punishing. Share with each other and forgive whatever grievance you may have against one another (Colossians 3:13). There's no room for "I forgive you, but..."

9. Enjoy without complaint. Do everything without complaining or arguing (Philippians 2:14).

10. Pray without ceasing. Pray continually (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Love invites us to hold people up to God in all our thoughts concerning them.

Let all that you do be done in love (1 Corinthians 16:14 ESV).

Monday, August 13, 2018

Good Listeners, Wise Counselors

Many years ago, when I was feeling oh, so weary and lonely, I invited a visiting pastoral couple to my office for a chat. They stepped into my windowless little room and over peanut butter cookies and tea we talked about ministry and frustrations and dreams. They listened to me, asked a few probing questions, and bathed me in grace. Pots full of tough questions that had long simmered on the back burners of my mind began to find answers that day as a result of that brief encounter, and, for the first time in months, I felt refreshed. All because two people, gentle and wise, were willing to listen and point me to Jesus.

Recently I had a similar encounter. I had gone to see a pastor/friend about a concern that weighed heavily on my heart. Though I didn't know him well, I knew he was the one I wanted to talk to. As we talked it was like he heard things I didn't speak, things I didn't even know I felt. But he was right, you know. He listened to my words, and to my heart. His questions encouraged me to open my hands to God, and I left there refreshed.

I am so grateful for wise, discerning people who listen, both to the people around them and to God, and gently speak truth into our difficulties. I am grateful for the peace of God, and for the fresh breeze that blows through our hearts when he sets us free.

Are you weary? Frustrated? Lonely? Discouraged? Burned out? Weighed down by guilt? Broken hearted? Do questions swirl inside your soul that you can't articulate, much less resolve?

I pray that the Lord will speak his peace and grace into your heart today, giving your a freedom you can't even imagine. Maybe he will show up through the pages of Scripture or in the words of a devotional reading or on a podcast. Or maybe he'll use a friend who listens to your heart and lifts you to Jesus.

~ Ginger Kauffman

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

ALL: A Study of Psalm 145

"The Lord is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does" (Psalm 145:13b).

The Psalms remind us again and again to praise the Lord. But why praise him? How should we praise him? Does God really care about us anyway?

As I studied Psalm 145 the other day I found the answers to those questions. It encouraged me so much that I wrote a Bible study to share with you.

It will take about 20-30 minutes to work through it. God bless you as you study this jam-packed psalm which will remind you of the depth of God's love, care, and faithfulness. 

ALL: A Study of Psalm 145

Psalm 145
World English Bible

A praise song by David.
I will exalt you, my God, the King. 
I will praise your name forever and ever. 
Every day I will praise you. 
I will extol your name forever and ever. 
Great is Yahweh, and greatly to be praised! 
His greatness is unsearchable. 
One generation will commend your works to another, 
and will declare your mighty acts. 
I will meditate on the glorious majesty of your honor, 
on your wondrous works. 
Men will speak of the might of your awesome acts. 
I will declare your greatness. 
They will utter the memory of your great goodness, 
and will sing of your righteousness. 
Yahweh is gracious, merciful, 
slow to anger, and of great loving kindness. 
Yahweh is good to all. 
His tender mercies are over all his works. 
10 All your works will give thanks to you, Yahweh. 
Your saints will extol you. 
11 They will speak of the glory of your kingdom, 
and talk about your power, 
12 to make known to the sons of men his mighty acts, 
the glory of the majesty of his kingdom. 
13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom. 
Your dominion endures throughout all generations. 
Yahweh is faithful in all his words, 
and loving in all his deeds.
14 Yahweh upholds all who fall, 
and raises up all those who are bowed down. 
15 The eyes of all wait for you. 
You give them their food in due season. 
16 You open your hand, 
and satisfy the desire of every living thing. 
17 Yahweh is righteous in all his ways, 
and gracious in all his works. 
18 Yahweh is near to all those who call on him, 
to all who call on him in truth. 
19 He will fulfill the desire of those who fear him. 
He also will hear their cry, and will save them. 
20 Yahweh preserves all those who love him, 
but he will destroy all the wicked. 
21 My mouth will speak the praise of Yahweh. 
Let all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever.

Study Questions

1. Read Psalm 145.

2. Re-read verses 8-21. Circle every “all” or similar word in the passage.

3. Identify what each circled word refers to.

4. In a sentence or two, summarize these verses, focusing on the character of God.

5. Read verses 1-7.

6. David begins this psalm with his declaration of God’s greatness and our appropriate response: worship. List three or four ways David says people will worship.

7. In Psalm 145:1-7 David calls us to worship. In verses 8-21 he gives examples of why we worship. Which example(s) do you most identify with? Why?

8. Read through Psalm 145 again, personalizing it as if it came from your own heart rather than David’s. For example, read verse 1 like this:
“I, (fill in your name), will exalt you, my God the King;
  I, (fill in your name), will praise your name for ever and ever.”

~ Ginger Kauffman

Monday, August 6, 2018

Through the Bible in a Lifetime

(This post originally appeared on October 28, 2010)

We saw Tom's sister Marilee recently and she shared a couple of interesting stories with us.

When she was three years old, she and her mom (Lynda) went to visit Grampa Mills, Lynda's father who pastored a church in Ottawa.  Grampa asked Lynda to preach!  She felt totally inadequate for the experience, but as a result of her message, five children gave their hearts to Jesus!  Meanwhile, little Marilee sat in the pew by herself.  At one point her mom looked down to see that Marilee had taken the New Testament out of her purse and was biting on its spine.  From the pulpit, she could do nothing about it!

A few months ago, after Mom passed away, Marilee found that same New Testament, tooth marks and all, still in Mom's purse, and now she carries it in her own.

When Marilee herself was a young mother, her innovative pastor stood one Sunday among stacks of Bibles designed to guide readers through the entire Bible in a year.  He told the congregation that he would give a Bible to anyone who would commit to read it through in a year.  She took him up on the challenge and received a Bible.  At first she read to fulfill her obligation, then to not disappoint the pastor.  Eventually she read for the joy and power of the Word.  That was over 30 years ago, and she continues to read through the Bible each year.

You might say she is still sinking her teeth into God's Word.

~ Ginger Kauffman


Yes, my soul, find rest in God;
my hope comes from him.

Psalm 62:5, NIV

~ Ginger Kauffman

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Behold He Comes, Bringing Joy

When Jesus took up the scroll in the synagogue, as recorded in Luke 4, he read from the prophet Isaiah: The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the provide for those who grieve in Zion -- to bestow on him a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment or praise instead of a spirit of despair (Isaiah 61:1-3).

The angels told the shepherd, Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you: he is Christ the Lord (Luke 2:10-11).

Peter reminded his readers that though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls (1 Peter 1:8).

Joy is a fruit of the Spirit. It gives vivid, tangible evidence of the presence of God in our lives. What could be more winsome than a person, filled with the presence of the Lord, living joyfully, even in the face of difficulties?

To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy -- to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen (Jude 1:24-25).

(This post first appeared in December of 2013.)