Rain Walking

I love to walk! This can be challenging as I live in Auckland.

I’m not referring to the 50+ extinct volcanoes adding character to the city. Walking up and down the hills breaks monotony!

The awesome challenge is timing your walk within a climate that experiences summer and winter within any given hour.

man-drowning-in-heavy-rain-121970.jpg

Auckland has two seasons: warm rain and cool rain. The weather service records 2,066 hours of sunshine each year. That means half the day is cloudy on average and 131 of those days it rains.

Today I waited for the right moment: I was sure I had a 90 minute window for a rain-free walk. Living in a valley, I could not see what was behind the hills. So you know what happened—it started raining ‘all over me’ within 20 minutes.

Many people grow discouraged when it ‘rains over all them’. Perhaps you were enjoying sunshine and warm air when suddenly you lost your relationship or your business took a financial hit. Bad things happen; like rain, it is a fact of life.

The thing about rain-walking: you cannot control Nature but you can control your attitude. And so it is too with your relationships and business. You choose to enjoy and become a part of Forces more powerful than yourself. Or you choose to run and seek shelter.

I choose to enjoy what I cannot control: rain and all. It is the best way to experience life!

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Originally posted 2 August 2012

Walking with Snakes

Recently it was discovered the eight foot pet of Airplane Repo’s star, Mike Kennedy, escaped in Orlanda, Florida.

Creepy?

After living in New Zealand for 24 years I have to admit, yes. It’s not that I hate snakes! In fact I have a healthy respect for them. After all, Jesus Christ was likened to one! It’s just that in New Zealand you could walk through the Bush (the woods for my American readers) and never have to worry about coming across a snake. So now it does seem a bit creepy to think if I was living in Florida right now I wouldn’t be able to enjoy walking.

It did take some getting used to in the beginning when I first moved to New Zealand. The idea of walking through a jungle (rainforest to update my language) and NOT watch out for snakes was so foreign. When I first hiked in the wild (I don’t need to translate for my New Zealand readers who know I’m referring to “tramping”) I was so nervous. I constantly looked at my path and listened for snakes in the midst of the lush fauna. At first I hardly enjoyed its beauty.

Growing up in Michigan there were reported sightings of rattlesnakes but I never saw anything more than harmless garter snakes – even handled a few. When I walked through the American woods I was more concerned about bears and cougars than I was about rattlers. Nonetheless, I always carried a snake bite kit with me whenever I went out.

After a while living in New Zealand, I relaxed my instincts and never consciously looked for snakes on my hikes. About the only thing I was vigilant to watch for walking in New Zealand was its rain! And I already wrote about that (see Rain Walking).

So if I were living in Florida right now and had to look out for a cobra???

No thank you! LOL

cobra

I did live in Florida for three years. It is where my Divinity studies were conducted. I can easily imagine how a king cobra could thrive in that environment.

Now that I’ve returned to the States my snake seeking instincts were already working before the Florida cobra story broke out. Southern California is a desert after all. I may live and work along the coast but I sure do watch my feet when I walked down dirt trails that take me away from the ocean. Especially at night: rattlers love to slither out into the middle of the road and soak up the asphalt’s heat into their cold-blooded bodies.

The cobra is a mighty awesome creature that is for sure. That is why I’m not surprised many teach Moses fashioned his brazen serpent after that of a cobra. Egyptian mysticism is full of respect for its symbolism and Moses was schooled in all things Egyptian. The serpent is a power metaphor and understandably revered worldwide as a potent deity.

Which is why I’m glad I’m not living Orlando right now! And why I’m reminiscing of those beautiful bush walks throughout New Zealand!

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Post was originally published in 2015 during a 22 month stay in California.

King Cobra Still on the Run in Orlando, Florida, One Week After Escape by Polly Mosendz 9/9/15 5:00 PM https://www.google.co.nz/amp/www.newsweek.com/king-cobra-still-run-orlando-florida-one-week-after-escape-370474%3famp=

The Blessing of Poverty

The keys to happiness delivered by Jesus contain the paradox of a blessing in poverty.

And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying, Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. — Matthew 5:1-3

This beatitude encourages an inner quality of sacrificial humility.

The disciples literally gave up their source of income to follow Jesus Christ. Peter, James, John, Andrew all forsook their fishing business. Matthew forsook his tax collecting. They literally impoverished themselves for the sake of the Gospel. Although Christ does not require an oath of poverty, He has given us a promise of blessing when we suffer for His sake. Suffering yields spiritual reward in this life.

girls on green shirt holding a silver round bowl

This beatitude celebrates the inner quality of poverty.

Not poverty of possessions or finances, but the lack of pride in one’s spirit. God’s concern for the humble is their spirit, not their bank balance. Those with plenty often struggle with God’s existence. The poor usually do not. They are the ones who glean off God’s goodness.

God wants to help the down trodden of society by reviving their heart.

That is why the poor in spirit are the ones given this promise for blessing. This spirit is one of repentance, not greed. Money is not what God requires: He asks for a good spirit from your heart.

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revision of original published 17 March 2009

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Building Trustworthy Relationships

Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another. Romans 14:19

Trust is a requirement in the world of relationships. It is a greater compliment to be told you are trusted than to be told you are loved.

Many a church leader assumes if he loves and receives love in return, the right atmosphere wherein God’s people can grow is created.

Love, however, is only part of the equation. Whether you are a leader in the church: pastor, trustee, treasurer, secretary, teacher; or a leader at home: husband, father, mother; or a leader on the job or at school; trust is the greater requirement.

The ideal atmosphere is when love results from trust.

woman carrying baby at beach during sunset

Trust is the foundation upon which a mature love can flourish. You usually have to stretch yourself beyond your current abilities when it comes to living and working with others. You have to develop skills to meet the challenges faced when dealing with others. You may be loved by your spouse or children, but that does not mean they trust you.

The ancient text instructs you to follow those things which make for peace and those things are connected with the edification of others. To edify is to build up that person. Every Christian duty includes the moral improvement of fellow believers. Building trust with a loved one or work colleague requires character and competence.

You have to become trustworthy in order to build trust. The challenging question:

Am I trustworthy?

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originally published 30 April 2007

Take heed to yourselves

I came across an ancient text that read, “take heed unto yourselves.”

Take heed is not something we hear in everyday conversation! Perhaps we have lost the art and science of our own mother tongue?

To take heed is to be cautious, paying attention to all that is around you to protect what is within you. This self-management means you have the responsibility to minister to yourself before you can help others and exercise Universal Love.

To be effective for others, you must first minister to yourself. How do you do this?

man wearing gray and red armour standing on the streets
Photo by PhotoMIX Ltd. on Pexels.com

1. By patient application of established truths.

Set aside whatever time is necessary to stay true to core values. Rest and refreshment strengthens your God-given talents.  

2. By patient protection of established boundaries.

In the Exodus story, God placed boundaries around the Mount of His appearance and threatened to shot any who crossed the line! It is a great illustration for how you need to protect your inner man from outside influences that steals your love.

  • Take heed of boundary-breakers that abuse your standards.
  • Take heed of boundary-benders that tempt you to compromise your standards.
  • Take heed of boundary-mockers who are envious of your inner strength. 

3. By patient development of your soul.

All consequences are in your charge. You alone are responsible for your actions. Any change you want in your life must come from your relationship with God. 

To love the Lord your God, you must take heed: love God with all your soul and mind; love your neighbour as you love yourself.

When you take heed to yourself, you recognize God as your Creator and love what He has created. In this fashion you can love others and become effective with them.

The Blessing of Mourning

Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. Matthew 5:4

Pain hurts. Most people avoid pain at all costs; however, pain is a part of life. Learning to deal with pain is a mark of maturity. God has promised blessings for those who mourn  among which is the blessing of comfort.

Our Lord promises comfort to those who boldly lament and are not ashamed of their grief. Sorrow is a painful aspect of human existence. This Beatitude encourages Christ’s disciples to deal with it, not avoid it.

Those who try to run from pain’s reality do so at a cost. Indeed, most people do not realize the extravagant expense of avoiding pain. Those who refuse to deal with something in their life causing pain are only putting off the inevitable and intensifying the sorrow.

Remember this: if you avoid the pain, you are also avoiding the comfort.

  • Your broken heartedness will be comforted.
  • Your ashes associated with death and mourning will be exchanged for beauty just as the ancient patriarch Job.
  • Your black garments worn to mourn the loss of someone beloved will be exchanged for one of praise.
  • Your heavy, burdensome clothing of sacrifice will be exchanged for something much lighter, for Christ has proclaimed His yoke is easy and His burden is light.

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Read 10 full length studies on the Beatitudes in my latest publication: Beauty from the Mountain.

Beauty from the Mountaing Cover

The Season of the Ant

Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise:  Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler,  Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest (Proverbs 6:6-8).

Most ants build a nest of some sort and store their hard-gathered food in that nest. The food is gathered in the harvest after working all summer long.

Have you considered that most ants live for only a few months?

macro photo of five orange ants
Ants teach us how to prioritise our lives.

The season of the ant is a type of the season of human life. 

Your ‘winter’ season will be the retirement years when you are physically unable to ‘gather’. The harvest season stands for your working years. The ‘reaping’ for retirement is possible because of your summer work. That is why, the soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing; but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat (Proverbs 13:4). You do not reap a retirement by accident!

The ant teaches you that today you are preparing for your future.

Part of that preparation is passing on your knowledge to those in the spring of their life. Children need to be taught by word and example how to prepare for their future.

Don’t live for the momentlive in it for the morrow.

Balance tomorrow’s evils by putting God first. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you (Matthew 6:33).

By trusting in God today, you will reap His protection, provision and comfort at life’s end and into eternity.

What grand lessons from such a lowly insect!