Thursday, January 31, 2013

Wonders of the West

Our recent road trip to California & Arizona was amazing, with so many highlights - one very special one was meeting Kenton for the first time! The video, however, is made up of the best of the nature photos. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Be Still

Matthew clung to the mast, sick with fear. He was no sailor, but it was obvious even to his landlubber’s eye that this was no ordinary storm. The wind! It had swept in with furious force out of nowhere. The waves were no longer gentle ripples, but towering crests of seawater which tossed the little boat every which way, and filled it with crash after crash of water. Surely this was an attack by evil spirits! Surely the boat would sink and they would be drowned, every one of them! Oh, why had the Teacher ever said for them to cross the lake?! Where was the Teacher, anyway? Did he not care that they were perishing? Out of the corner of his eye, Matthew noticed Peter in the back of the boat, shaking someone lying on a pillow. Who could possibly be sleeping at a time like this? To his astonishment, Matthew realized it was the Teacher! Despite the pitching and rolling of the boat, the Teacher rose to his feet with effortless balance. Somehow, through the terrific noise of the storm, Matthew heard the Teacher call out, “Peace! Be still!” 

    In the blink of an eye, everything changed. The wind vanished. The sea went completely flat. The boat didn’t even rock. The only noise to be heard was the sound of the men’s ragged breathing. Every eye was riveted to the One who had just ordered the storm to stop. Finally, the silence was broken by the whispered words, “Who can this be? Even the winds and the sea obey him!”

           Who indeed? What the disciples were just discovering, we already know: their Teacher, and ours, is none other than Jesus Christ, the Son of God. An ordinary man can’t order the weather around. Jesus, the Creator of heaven and earth, can. An ordinary man trembles with fear in the face of impending disaster. Jesus fears nothing.

I don’t speak Greek, but I looked up the meaning of the Greek words Jesus used when He said, “Peace! Be still!” What I found out was extremely surprising to me. The first word, “Peace”, is the Greek siopao (see-o-pah-o). It means “hush, keep silent, don’t speak, hold your peace”. It is a completely different word than the one normally translated as peace (eirene), such as in the Fruits of the Spirit. The Greek word for “Be still”, is phimoo (fee-mo’-oo). It means - get this - “to muzzle”! I have a hunch that if we talked to our siblings this way, our parents would not approve! Jesus was rebuking, not soothing. “Hush - no more out of you! Put a muzzle on it!” With His word, the victory was won. The enemy, also known as the Prince of the Power of the Air (Eph. 2:2), is no match for the Prince of Peace (Is. 9:6).

So what storms are whirling around you? Is the little boat known as your life being battered by waves of confusion or ill tidings? Are you being capsized by out-of-control emotions or tipped over by circumstances? Remember who is in you! Jesus Christ Himself, your King and Teacher. He is confident, fearless, free from chaos, and immovable, and that is the life He wants to live in and through you! But so often, we don’t live that way. We cling to the mast, having more faith in the enemy to conquer us than in our Lord to rescue us.

There’s a line in a wonderful old hymn that reads, “Be still my soul! the waves and winds still know, His voice who ruled them while He dwelt below”. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. His word carries just as much authority today as it did in the days of old. When the waves and winds try to get us off course, we can tell them “Hush!” in Jesus’ name, and they must obey. “The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.” (Ex. 14:14)
Is it not He who set our course? Jesus directed the disciples to cross the lake, fully aware of the storm to come. He knows that we, too, will experience storms. But storms are a stage that we may see Him for who He is, that we may know Him at a whole new level. 

Be still, and know that I am God:
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!
(Ps. 46:10)