Friday, May 31, 2013

3 Zebra Long Wings  Long Key Natural Area, Davie Florida, May 2013

For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13:12-13

Allowing for mystery in our understanding of God is an expression of humility.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

 Long Key Natural Area, Davie Florida, May 2013

O give thanks to the LORD, call on his name,
make known his deeds among the peoples.
Sing to him, sing praises to him;
tell of all his wonderful works.
Glory in his holy name;
let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice.
Psalm 105:1-3

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Zebra Long Wing and Swallowtails, Long Key Natural Area, Davie Florida, May 2013

Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor.
John 12:26

Reflect upon your day - how were you a follower of Jesus? Whom did you serve?

Long Key Natural Area, Davie Florida, May 2013

God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change,
though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea;
though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble with its tumult.

Psalm 46:1-3

Sometimes the hardest thing is having faith in God when God seems least at work if not altogether absent in times of great distress and anxiety. When one's faith is holding on by a thin thread. And sometimes that thread does break. How does one' s faith in God survive such difficult times? Know this: God clings to us in a love that will never let us go even when we believe that we have let go of God. When our soul shouts of God's abandonment, God offers the hand of grace and healing and stands firm with us all journey long. 

Monday, May 27, 2013

Long Key Natural Area, Davie Florida, May 2013

O LORD, our Sovereign,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory above the heavens.
Psalm 8:1

Where have you seen signs of God today?

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Long Key Natural Area, Davie Florida

O LORD, you are my God;
I will exalt you, I will praise your name;
for you have done wonderful things....
For you have been a refuge to the poor,
a refuge to the needy in their distress,
a shelter from the rainstorm and a shade from the heat.
Psalm 25:1a, 4

Saturday, May 25, 2013

The Butterfly Garden at the parsonage, Pembroke Pines, FL May 2013

but he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness." So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me
2 Corinthians 12:9

Water Lilies at Long Key Natural Area, Davie Florida

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside still waters;
he restores my soul.
Psalm 23:1-3

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Snake Warrior Island, Miramar, Florida, May 2013

For there is no distinction, since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; they are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus
Romans 3:22b-24

As much as it is our nature to want to look upon others and see in them the full measure of sinfulness that would set them apart and in greater condemnation by God, the truth is that sin is sin and we stand under equal judgment. We are sinners, too, plain and simple and there is nothing that we can do ourselves to change that. But God, in God's mercy, did an amazing thing in the sending of Jesus. In and through Jesus, the power of sin and its consequence of death have been broken for us, freeing us to live not in condemnation, but to love God, especially to love God by loving others. When we want to start pointing out the sin in others, rather than loving them first and deeply so that our conversation is one born out of a relationship of trust, we need to stop and pause. Given the near human impossibility of loving a person and hating their sin, we need to practice humility, a trait embodied in its fullness in Jesus by so lacking in each of us and seek God's forgiveness in our own failing to follow Jesus' command:
"Love one another as I have loved you."
As sinners ourselves we will ever live in the tension of our preference to point out the sin in others, rather than dealing with our own sin; of when to speak and when to be silent; of when to act, of when the greater need of God's justice on behalf of the most vulnerable must move us. The more we act within a relationship of trust bound into mutual love, the less likely we will mis-measure the weight of one another's sin. 

Gracious God, stir us to build strong relationships of trust born out of love anchored in the love you have for us so that should we act in the correction of another you are truly glorified, in Jesus' Name, amen. 
Pickerelweed, preserved natural space east of Pembroke Pines Charter High School, May 22, 2013

You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. 
No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, 
and it gives light to all in the house. 
In the same way, let your light shine before others, 
so that they may see your good works 
and give glory to your Father in heaven
Matthew 5:14-16

How will your light shine the love of Christ in the world today?

Loving God, 
you give light to the world 
so that all might know your love 
and experience your grace.
Use us and all that we have and are
to shine that light brightly and freely
in Jesus' Name.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis)
Snake Warrior Island, Miramar, Florida, May 2013

Is anything too wonderful for the LORD?
Genesis 18:14a

Where have you seen evidence of the awesome work of God today?

Snake Warrior Island, Miramar, Florida, May 2013

For with you is the fountain of life;in your light we see light
Psalm 36:9

Monday, May 20, 2013

Along the dunes at Dania Beach May 19, 2013

The flowers appear on the earth;the time of singing has come,and the voice of the turtledoveis heard in our land
Song of Solomon 2:12

What blessing of God is worth singing about in your life today?
Are you willing to open your heart wide enough to see?

Gracious and loving God, 
we know that you never intentionally bring suffering to the lives of people 
who you created in your own image, claimed and redeemed in Christ,
and have made your own. 
Grant us eyes to see the blessings in our life and
the the willingness in joy to be a blessing to others.
In Jesus' Name.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Chapel Trail Nature Preserve May 16, 2013

Save us, O LORD our God,and gather us from among the nations,that we may give thanks to your holy nameand glory in your praise.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Dragonfly, along the Levee west of Everglades Holiday Park.

Then the spirit lifted me up
Ezekiel 3:12a

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Long Key Nature Area, Davie, Florida, May 9, 2013

For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.
Matthew 18:20

Our faith is a faith that lives and breathes in community. 
When we emphasize a private faith and our personal relationship with God, we run the continual risk of diminishing Christianity's call to experience our faith among and with others.
Keeping rather than resolving the tension between a personal and communal faith is the reality in which we should live in order to encounter the full wonder that is the body of Christ of which we are all an equal part. 

God among and with us,
You gather us together as a shepherd gathers the sheep.
Let us never grow weary of being a community that lives for you
by living with and for one another .
In Jesus Name. Amen. 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Fern Forest Nature Center, Coconut Creek, Florida, April 20, 2013

O LORD, how manifold are your works!
In wisdom you have made them all;
the earth is full of your creatures.
These all look to you
to give them their food in due season;
when you give to them, they gather it up;
when you open your hand, they are filled with good things.
Psalm 104: 24, 27-28

Monday, May 13, 2013

Fern Forest Nature Center, Coconut Creek, Florida, April 20, 2013

Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor.
Romans 12:9-10

How did you show someone honor today instead of judgement?

God of grace and mercy,
we are often so quick to judge, but slow to praise.
We look for fault and find what we seek but with eyes half open and hearts closed.
Teach us to be instruments of grace,
and to embody your love to those we meet.
In Jesus' Name

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Atala Butterfly, Long Key Nature Area, Davie, Florida, May 9, 2013

While the Atala Butterfly isn't on the Endangered species list, 50 years ago it was thought to be extinct. Habitat devastation and the exploitation of the only food source for its caterpillars, the Florida Coontie, as a native and easy source for starch, had taken its toll. The current use of the Coontie as a landscape plant and renewed interest in Florida's butterflies as well as captive breeding programs have helped bring this beauty back. I saw my first just last week, a mother laying her eggs, while nearby, another Coontie served as home for a dozen Atala caterpillars. It was an amazing sight! I kept walking around her, snapping picture after picture, trying to capture her color. 

So God created humankind in his image,in the image of God he created them;male and female he created them.
God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth." God said, "See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food." And it was so. God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

South Florida provides a microcosm of how poorly humankind has responded to God's call to steward creation. To have dominion over something, in the language of Scripture, is not to exploit or feel free to extinct a species, but to care as one given the authority under the authority of God to provide for its welfare. From the near destruction of the Everglades, to the near extinction of a number of bird species for the sake of a few feathers for lady's hats, it took the rallying cry of some amazing people to re-ground us in God's call. Nearly every natural preserve I have visited in Broward County on my photo walks these past months was slated for development until a person or group stepped and fought to set it aside for preservation. 

And I am thankful for their work. I imagine many people thought that these ecological pioneers  were on the wrong side of progress, development, job creation and economic prosperity. A nature preserve generates no income to lower taxes and few jobs to boost the employment rate. Their vistas could serve for million dollar homes on gorgeous lots behind gates and fences. 

Walking around with a camera, slowly and intentionally, often doubling back to reflect on a new view, a new angle, seeking inspiration,  continues to open my eyes to the presence of God's creative hands in sunlight reflecting of the wings of a golden dragonfly or the shimmer off a pond or the complex textures of a wildflower. 

We worship not the creature, but the creator. And these wilderness areas and natural preserves are the first and grandest cathedrals to me. 

Let us pray...Lord of all that is, your creation abounds with the reflection of the wonder of your being. Teach us to be good stewards of all that you have entrusted to us, its water and sky, its land and all the creatures that inhabit it, for you hold us accountable for this sacred responsibility. We ask for wisdom and courage to do what is right in this.

Long Key Natural Area, Davie Florida, May 9, 2013

Beloved, do not imitate what is evil but imitate what is good.
3 John 1:11

Thursday, May 9, 2013

This shrub is called buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis)

Long Key Natural Area, Davie Florida, May 9, 2013

I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart;
I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.
I will be glad and exult in you;
I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.
Psalm 9:1-2

My photo walks these past few months had filled me with a deep sense of awe and wonder at the created world. In a 24/7 news cycle life where the wonder of creation is eschewed for lurid tales of the depth of human depravity with some feel-goodness sprinkled in to round things out, these walks are a necessity. They renew me and draw me closer to God and more deeply into the mystery of God's ongoing work. 

Yes, we need to know the full measure of the injustice in the world, the depth of the suffering of its people, the names and faces of all who need our prayer, our strength, our action, lest we do nothing and become the very thing we hate, yet in a small pond today filled with blooming white water lilies dancing in the morning light, God declared once again for me the beauty of a redeemed creation shaped  and formed by God's own hand and given life through God's sacred breath. For this I am ever grateful.

Where have you seen evidence of the wonderful deeds of God this day?

God of all creation,
in your hands you create the wonders of this world
and breath upon them your Holy Spirit that they might live.
We give thanks for the daily reminders of your presence
that they might draw us more deeply into knowing you
and proclaiming you.
In Jesus' Name,

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

"The Lady in the Garden," The Butterfly Garden at the parsonage, May 7, 2013

Give ear to my words, O LORD;give heed to my sighing.
Listen to the sound of my cry,
my King and my God,for to you I pray.
O LORD, in the morning you hear my voice;
in the morning I plead my case to you, and watch.

God not only desires our praises and our requests,
but also to hear our sighs and cries,
our pain, our sorrow,  
even those that arise from the most hurting places in our soul. 
God desires to patiently listen to us, 
even when such cries wonder about God's place and presence,
God's activity, at such moments;  
And the doubts and the anger that often accompany them. 

Has there ever been a time when you shared your pain with God
or did something hold you back from being honest with God?
What does it mean for you to have a God willing to receive your pain and hurt and bear them with you?
What do you need to share with God today?

Healing God,
you know our pain and do not leave us
to suffer in solitude, but come to us,
to offer your healing presence and strength.
Even as we bring our cries to you,
we trust that nothing in our lives is beyond
your touch and the power of your grace.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Monarch emerging from cocoon, The Butterfly Garden at the parsonage, May 7, 2013

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead
1 Peter 1:3

Because Jesus lives, we live with a hope that will not fade, cannot die, will not be taken away from us. Because Jesus lives, we live in him, through him, for him, forever. 

The gift of baptism tells us that we die to sin and rise daily to new life in Christ - 
What needs to be made new in your life?
Would you ask God to make it so?

In Christ through our baptism we are born into a living hope - 
Where have you seen evidence of such a living hope today?
Have you given thanks for the blessing of such glorious reminders?

God of all hope and blessing,
renew us daily in our baptism
that may we live made new 
through the power of resurrection,
a witness to the world of your enduring love.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Secret Woods Nature Center, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, May 6, 2013

and I know that when I come to you, I will come in the fullness of the blessing of Christ.
Romans 15:29

All we do reflects Christ, whether we want it to or not - we do not get to pick and choose - or turn the light of Christ in our life on and off as the situation warrants. We are as Paul says, "Ambassadors for Christ." All we are and do become witness. 

How will you honor Christ before others today?
What is your greatest stumbling block in your embodying the love of Christ in your life for the sake of others?
What one thing could you do today to address that stumbling block?

Gracious God,
You call us to witness to your boundless grace
that as others are before us they may see you
and experience your love.
Help us Lord to overcome every stumbling block
that we may serve you with the whole of our lives.
In Jesus' Name. Amen. 

Secret Woods Nature Center, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, May 6, 2013

I will protect those who know my name.
When they call to me, I will answer them;
I will be with them in trouble,
I will rescue them and honor them.
Psalm 91:14b-15

In our most troubling times, the Lord is especially present for us; the one who suffered for us enters into our suffering, offering us hope.

Especially in times of trouble, the Lord invites us to offer our burdens to him: our fear, our worry, our anxiety, our hurt, our pain, our shame. In whom or what do you seek rescue?

To call upon the Lord in our need may be difficult if we are not prepared to do so. How might you better prepare yourself?

Has there ever been a time when you experienced the Lord rescue you from trouble?

Most gracious and merciful God,
you hear the cries of your people 
and rescue them in their time of need.
Be with us in our troubles 
and let the assurance of your strength and compassion
still our fearful and anxious hearts,
in Jesus' Name we pray, amen. 

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Fern Forest Nature Center, Coconut Creek, Florida, April 20, 2013

But each has a particular gift from God, one having one kind and another a different kind
1 Corinthians 7:7b

Everyone has a gift given by God, unique to them, for the glorifying of God and the building up of God's kingdom.

Do you believe this to be true?
Do you know your gift? How have you come to know it?
If you do not, where might you seek the help of others to help you discern it?
How is God's gift made visible in your life?

Most holy and gracious God,
you have made us all in your image 
and gifted us with purpose:
to glorify you, to build up your kingdom,
to embody your love.
May we seek to know this gift,
and with the help of others 
live it out more deeply and honestly 
in our lives.

Fern Forest Nature Center, Coconut Creek, Florida, April 20, 2013

Arise, shine; for your light has come,
and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.
Psalm 60:1