the continent for 2 ½ days through the roughest seas on the planet, the Drake Passage. Most of the passengers were seasick during the entire passage, but when we finally arrived the sight that greeted us was breathtaking: white snow, ice mountains, glaciers, puffy clouds, and a black sea beneath us. The scene was entirely black and white; even the omnipresent penguins were wearing tuxedos!
My trip was billed as an “adventure cruise” for would-be polar explorers. Each day was new and exciting and different: snowshoeing, mountain climbing, swimming in the ocean, camping on the ice, kayaking, spending time on sea ice floating right past seals, penguins, sea lions, whales, and orcas.
In addition to the truly unique sights and adventures, another profound impression the white continent left me with was this: what a perfect, pristine, untouched, unchanged, uncontaminated place it is. It’s like a monochrome Eden. As inhabitants of our planet, we humans have done a thorough job of redecorating God’s creation everywhere with sometimes disastrous results. Thankfully, the Antarctic Treaty, signed in 1959 by every country on the planet, stated that no country would own any part of it and that the entire continent would have two guiding principles: “for scientific research and to promote peace.” Almost without exception, those principles are currently adhered to by 100% of all countries in the world. How often does that happen?
So, there was pure water, clean air, and no trace of mining or any commercial endeavors except for a few now-abandoned 150-year-old whaling stations. I never saw so much as a cigarette butt anywhere. We scrubbed our boots every time we left the ship and every time we returned so that no contaminants could be transmitted from the ship or from the ice. We were not allowed to make any sudden moves or loud noises, nor were we allowed to approach any wildlife closer than ten feet. When we dug snow caves and igloos to sleep in, we restored the area to flatness the next day so that penguins wouldn’t fall into a hole and be unable to get out. In every way, we had to respect and honor the continent and its natural inhabitants.
I will always remember this dramatic, pure white, and undisturbed Eden and be grateful to God for the opportunity to experience this wonder of His creation.
In His Name,
shiny decorations. I find the best way to cheer up the space during the dark winter months ahead is to change the furniture layout, add some pops of color, and put away the clutter. The process is never fun, but is often rewarding as I remove things I no longer have a use for and rediscover things I forgot I had. It always leaves me feeling as if I am back on track and hopeful as I wait for Spring to arrive.
For me, clutter is a burden that reminds me of things not done and quickly zaps me of energy and joy. Clutter does not have to only be physical things, but can be things that are left undone in our lives. There are some things I need to do that I tend to put off until later because they take a lot of personal time and energy, or because they make me sad. I know I should just get these things out of the way so that I do not have to think about them--but still I procrastinate.
Thankfully, I don’t have to rely on my own strength to complete the things that take a lot of my personal time. God reminds me:
And when I have to face the tasks that rob me of my joy, God reminds me I am not alone.
It’s never fun to take on the tasks that I have put off too long, but God helps to get me through them. He helps me remove things in my life that I no longer need to be concerned about and shows me new things to look forward to or things I forgot I wanted to do. Instead of having to continue carrying things undone, He gives me renewed energy and joy for what is ahead.
first that I noticed was in the Garden of Eden. God said to the serpent, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed, he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” (Genesis 3:15) This to me is a prophecy of the coming Messiah.
Then again, a prophet Isaiah, who wrote many things and events about the coming Messiah. He even wrote about a virgin who will conceive a son. (see Luke 2)
As I dug deeper into the prophecies, which we are able to do thanks to the knowledge that is available to us. Another prophecy is, “But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end, many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.” Every day there is new knowledge on the internet and people constantly traveling to and fro.
I look around, and I see prophecy after prophecy, and I can’t help but think that maybe all those prophecies are coming to an end, and one will be left. John 14:1-3 says, “Let not your heart be troubled. In my father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have not told you. I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to myself, that where I am, there you may be also.” This is my favorite prophecy of them all!
In the end, this prophecy is what all the other prophecies lead up to: a kingdom that Jesus promised to those who seek him. And that is exactly what I intend to do: seek Jesus.
In His Name,
why, the older angel replied, "Things aren't always what they seem."
The next night, the pair came to rest at the house of a very poor, but very hospitable farmer and his wife. After sharing what little food they had, the couple let the angels sleep in their bed where they could have a good night's rest.
When the sun came up the next morning, the angels found the farmer and his wife in tears. Their only cow, whose milk had been their sole income, lay dead in the field.
The younger angel was infuriated and asked the older angel, "How could you have let this happen? The first man was rude and had everything, yet you helped him," she accused. "The second family had little, but was willing to share everything, and now you let their cow die."
“Things aren't always what they seem," the older angel replied. "When we stayed in the basement of the mansion, I noticed there was gold stored in that hole in the wall. Since the owner was so obsessed with greed and unwilling to share his good fortune, I sealed the wall because he didn't need it. Then last night as we slept in the farmer's bed, the angel of death came for his wife. I gave her the cow instead. Things aren't always what they seem."
Hmm...something to ponder as we go about our day!
Okay. So, this research wasn’t particularly helpful, and I didn’t feel more prepared to commit my resolutions to paper. Determined to find other help, I pressed on.
Many of you may already know Greg Laurie. I’ve only just discovered his writings. Last year he wrote, “I don’t know about New Year’s resolutions, but I do believe in resolution, which means having resolve or determination to do something. Every one of us should have resolution in our lives. We need goals. We need objectives. And we need things to aim for in life.”
Now, we’re getting somewhere!
Paul wrote in Philippians 3:13-14 after years of walking with God, “No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.”
Spiritual resolve! Greg continued with, “…we cannot be controlled by past mistakes or live in past victories. So if you blew it last year, then learn from it, and don’t do it again. Make changes in your behavior, your habit patterns, and your choices so you won’t go down that road again.
“At the same time, if God did something wonderful in your life last year, don’t live in past victories. A whole new year is before you with many new opportunities. So press on toward what God has for you.”
Today, my resolutions are (inspired by Pastor Neal) to focus on being kind, being honest, and being fair, and to learn from the past and open my mind and heart to our new future.
In a world where you can be anything, be kind.
Prayers for a blessed new year,
Our staff is voluntold each week and with grace they share their thoughts.