What is the source of your Strength?

 One of my favorite waterfalls is Looking Glass Falls in Pisgah National Forest between Brevard N.C. and the Blue Ridge Parkway. Through the years, I have been there by myself and been there with friends. I have seen it in all kinds of weather… I have seen it in the rain, drought, sunshine, snow and fog. One thing is constant is that…it never runs out of water. It’s as if it has unending supply and never runs dry. It is powerful and strong and never weak, regardless of what the weather changes are around it.  When I think about how God, the Creator provides that never ending source of strength for this waterfall, how much more so He is able to provide, spiritual, emotional, and physical strength for you and me…every day. 

“Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weary. No one can measure the depths of His understanding. He gives power to the weak, and strength to the powerless. even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fail in exhaustion. But those who (wait upon the Lord) trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint .”- Isaiah 40:28-31 (NLT). Think about how this describes God as our personal source of strength:

1. The Lord is the everlasting God. ( He is always there for you and me)

2. The Lord is the Creator of all the Earth. ( He made this world and us too)

3. God’s wisdom and understanding is endless. ( He knows and understands better than anyone)

4. God gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. ( He renews our strength as we trust Him and exchange our weakness for His strength)

5. Waiting for and Trusting in the Lord will renew our strength. ( He is our source of hope and confidence)

6. God will keep us going. (“Even the strongest people get tired at times, but God’s power and strength never diminish. He is never too tired or too busy to help and listen. His strength is our source of strength. When you feel all of life crushing you and you cannot go another step, remember the you can call upon God to renew your strength.” – Life Application Bible)

So, in other words…When we exchange our weakness for God’s Strength by faith and trusting in Him, we renewed by His love and grace, just like a waterfall that never runs dry. I have personally found it helpful, when I am feeling overwhelmed to pray a simple prayer … “Lord, this is bigger than me, I can’t handle this in my own strength but I known You can through me, as I trust You, amen.” He can be our Ultimate Source of Strength today if we will trust Him…

Are You Drifting?

Have you ever been in a boat that was drifting, or have you ever been at the beach riding a float, and then without really noticing it you realize you have drifted far from where you started? That happens when there is a strong undercurrent beneath the surface. That can happen to us in our personal lives as well. It is easy to drift away from from our priorities, usually it is so gradual we don’t really notice it. It is important for us to stay connected in our fellowship with God. Sometimes, we are distracted by other issues and personal pursuits; then before we know it, we have neglected our most important relationship.     Pastor Chuck Smith described it this way: “If you can point to any time in your Christian experience when you walked closer to God than you are walking today, when you experience His presence and power in your life in a greater measure, then you are in a backslidden state. Backsliding happens when you allow any other desire, ambition, or preference to take first place in your heart and life. But there is hope…even if you have wandered far, you can find God again if you will seek Him with your whole heart and soul. God is patient and work in your life again. He will not forsake you. He will not destroy you. He will remember His covenant with you, for He is a merciful God.” 

Even the apostle Paul wrote: “But you must continue to believe this truth and stand firm in it. Don’t drift away from the assurance you received when you heard the Good News. “ – Colossians 1:23 (NLT). Let us not take from granted what God has done for us. Let us draw closer to Him and be a reflection of God’s mercy and grace in a world that so desperately needs the Good News. Let’s take heed to what Charles Stanley has said…” Whether things are sailing smoothly or the bottom has dropped out, He is always trustworthy. You can count on Almighty God to keep His Everlasting Word.” 

Why I Like to Hike and Write…

I like to hike and write. I am often asked if I hike all the time? I wish I could, because it is a tremendous stress reliever for me. I typically hike about 3 or 4 days a month. When I am not at the church, I spend most of my weeks visiting people in hospitals and assisted living facilities. I am really thankful to get the opportunity to pray with people and encourage them when things aren’t going well for them, or when they get good news I love to celebrate with them. For instance, just the other day, I visited several people who had discouraging news about their health issues, I encouraged them by listening to them, reassuring them with some scripture, and praying with them and told a funny story to cheer them up. Next, I visited a happy young couple, welcoming their first child into their family. I see the emotional highs and lows with people on a regular basis. I also help out families with funerals. Recently, I had 5 in one week. I help lead a Grief Share class … all of this takes a lot of emotional energy. 

That is why I like to hike and to get outdoors and explore God’s beautiful creation. it recharges my emotional batteries. It gives my mind a mental break and my lungs fresh air and even clears my head and declutters the junk in my thought life.

In the stillness, looking over the mountains or by a mountain stream, there is such an overwhelming calm and peace that floods your soul. It is here, in the sanctuary of God’s creation that you can quiet the noise of your life and refocus and recharge. As you pray and reflect on what is really important, you sense God’s presence and He speaks to you in a quiet but very powerful way. Experts call it the “Biophilia” effect, describing how we as human beings, when we get outdoors and experience nature, it has a therapeutic and emotionally healing impact upon us. John Muir, a prominent influence in establishing our national parks said this almost a century ago..”Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.” I’m so thankful to God, our Creator for every time I get to experience that. It is just another way He shows His love for all mankind. He is the source of every blessing we experience. I’m reminded of this important truth from the Bible..”I look up to the mountains; does my strength come from the mountains? No, it comes from God, who made heaven, and earth, and mountains.” – Psalm 121:1-2 (MSG)

I also like to take photos on my hikes. I may take 30 to 50 photos on just one hike. Then I like to share some of those photos, one at a time on social media usually with a encouraging quote or Bible verse. There is so much negativity in our world, I would rather share some uplifting things that encourages others. I’m amazed how many people tell me that what I have shared in this way, has helped and encouraged them. I love these words I saw on a hiking trail sign…”Leave nothing but footprints, Only take pictures, Don’t kill anything but time.” For me, it is always time well spent, a brief but effective mental and emotional break from the crazy world we live in…Happy Trails Y”all! JBear