Conditions For Godly Connections

There was a poll taken in the United States and people were asked if they believed in God.  Nine of ten people surveyed said they believed in God.  Of the nine who believe in God, most if not all would say that they want to have connection with the God of the universe to get His perspective on their lives.  Most if not all would want to have God give them answers to their prayers and help solve the dilemmas that they find themselves in.  All of us whether or not we believe in God find ourselves in relationships at times where we see no hope nor answers in solving the stalemates that seem to come.

If only we had a step by step plan for connecting with the God who is able to give us insight and wisdom for life’s challenges.  Well, as I was reading the bible today, I came across just such a plan and it was written by God through the writer of II Chronicles.  He says, “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”  ‭‭2 Chronicles‬ ‭7:14‬ ‭NIV‬‬

This passage starts with a conditional “If.”  God is willing to connect with us and give us direction, but we have a responsibility in the connection.  In fact there are five important responsibilities that God spells out as to our actions.  The first responsibility is to be apart of His family and be called by His name.  Jesus speaks more clearly to this step when He talks to Nicodemus in John 3 where He tells us to become one of His children by recognizing what He did on the cross and receiving Christ into our lives.  That’s what being called by His name means.

The second step in this process of connecting with God is to humble ourselves.  The humbling process is admitting our faults and recognizing our inability to solve our problems on our own.  Humbling is admitting we can’t but He can.  The humbling process moves us to step number three where we pray and ask the God of the universe to intervene on our behalf.  Praying to God causes us to take our eyes off our self and begin to focus on the face of Christ (step 4).

When we begin to focus on God and humble ourselves, it will reveal the unhealthy choices we have made and negative attitudes we have manifest in our interaction with others.  Seeing Him and His purity shines a light on all the wrong choices and behaviors we have had which opens us to wanting to turn from the bad and seek the good.

It’s the 5 steps that we take which causes God to then act in our behalf.  When we are serious about humbling, praying, seeking, and turning, He says He hears from heaven, forgive us of our sins, and heals our land.  I know, it would be easier if we didn’t have to do anything, but that’s not God’s plan.  He wants to be in relationship with us which means that we both participate in the connection.

On this journey, connection with God is possible if only we are willing to do our part in preparing our heart and mind to interact with Him.  It only takes 5 steps.


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Seeing Up Close

On our trip to New Mexico, we passed the National Petrified Forest Park in eastern Arizona.  As we were walking on one of the trails, I came across a lizard I had never seen before.  It is called a common ring neck lizard that I thought you might like to see.  At first glance you see the beauty of this lizard with its colorful markings.


I am colorblind, but I could see the beautiful markings of this common ring neck reptile.  You can see the black rings on the neck, the yellow feet, the gray and yellow dots on his body and tail, and the solid gray (I was informed by my wife as she read my jlog that my description of the colors is way off) on his legs.  I looked at his color and even my color blindness appreciated the beauty he bestowed lying on this rock.

What I did next was to enhance this picture a bit and bring it closer.


You begin to see something different about this lizard.  He is covered with little dots like armor all over his body.  His nose has bright red dots (what color I see) and his eyes have those same dots to protect him when he is going among the thorns of the desert.  You also see the ears to the left of his eyes just before the black, white and yellow rings around his neck.  Such a little reptile and yet she is one of 9,500+ reptiles slithering on the surface of the earth.  A magnificent species of God’s creation.

As I have gone on this journey, I have never stopped to meditate on one aspect of God’s creation as I am learning to do.  My getting from point A to point B  and accomplishing my goals in life have often hindered my eyes from seeing the beauty right in front of me. This lizard has taught me to slow down and really see the beauty that is before me, including those He has placed before me in relationship with.  Today is another opportunity to see His beauty.

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The Old Stories

On the road from Sante Fe, NM to Taos, NM, Nadine and I passed some old vehicles that we just had to stop and photograph.DSC_0166

I wonder the old stories that this Fire Truck could tell if it only could talk.  I wonder how many fires it was driven to  or cars that were on fire that it had to put out.  It no longer is in working order, but there are stories behind the red paint.

What about this one?


It was a convertible and probably wasn’t used in the northern states, but isn’t it awesome to look at.  The white paint didn’t deter it from getting to the locations to douse the flames of a burning house or building.  The bumper shows the wear and tear this vehicle went through doing its job in seeking to prevent loss of life and property.

And how about these?

Both of these fire trucks have many stories that if told could hold our attention for hours.    These are fire trucks but have multitudes of stories that inspire us and give us clues to the rich history they came from.

Unfortunately in our society, we often treat our elderly just like these fire engines.  We park them into the retirement years and allow the grass to grow around them not thinking another thing about how they could enlighten us as to what they did in helping to impact our society.  We zoom by our elderly and pay little to no attention to where they are parked or what kind of stories they could bring to the table to enrich our lives.

On this journey, we have the opportunity to stop and ask some questions  to those our society has parked on the sidelines of life.  Unlike these fire engines, we have the privilege of seeking to find out those old stories that will cause us to appreciate the older generation and what they did to build a foundation for this and future generations.

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Assumption Versus Reality

I have driven the road from Phoenix to Flagstaff to Albuquerque and then up to Colorado Springs numerous times over the 32+ years.  It was in 1985 that we moved to Scottsdale and have gone back to my roots regularly to visit my family.  There is a place outside Flagstaff about 60 miles that I have passed over the years and have never stopped.  It’s called the Petrified Forest National Park.  It can be seen from the road as there are several trees and a couple of buildings.

I assumed that someone found a couple of petrified trees and put them in the buildings off the road and tried to get you to stop to see the tree or a couple of trees that had been petrified.  Needless to say I never stopped because of my assumption.  Who would want to stop only to see the petrified trees in a museum?  I wouldn’t and so I never stopped.  Not until Nadine expressed her inquisitiveness and wanted to stop this last trip so I obliged.  It would only take a few minutes and a maximum of 30.

Come to find out the building was just the start of a road that meandered thru 17 miles (one way) of fascinating places of petroglyphs and petrified forests that blew my mind.

There were these big logs that had fallen down and became petrified over thousands of years (pictures on the bottom).  Then there were these huge logs in the middle right picture that were taller than Nadine when she stood next to them.  In washed out ravines were numerous pieces of petrified trees that had accumulated as a result of rain that washed the trees down the slopes.  We spent over 3 1/2 hours at the petrified park and could have spent more time.

What I assumed to be the case turned out to be something entirely different.  How many times do I (we) make assumptions of what someone is about to say and turn them off because we think we know what we will hear?  How often do we assume what the end result will be and never travel down the road of investigation to find out that we were so wrong in our initial thought process?  Do we make assumptions of what someone will be based on their dress or the kind of car they drive and never find out who that person really is by doing some investigative questioning?  Assumptions are deadly as I found out with my assumption about the petrified forest.

On this journey, our minds will create many assumptions about events, situations, challenging issues, and people that we encounter.  Our job is to cut away those assumptions and take the first step of investigation.  Who knows whether we might find something that blows our mind.


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Keeping The Traditions Alive

Traditions in family life are very important.  Traditions in the family create the foundations for legacies to be built for future generations.  I began a tradition about thirty-five years ago when I had a scavenger hunt for my oldest child at Christmas time.  Debi had to figure out the various clues that would send her to the next clue and ultimately to the last clue that would end with her best gift.  I have been doing that every year at Christmas and at Easter for the last thirty-five years.  I now have a scavenger hunt for the grandkids and a more difficult one for the older kids.

Today my middle daughter got engaged to a wonderful man who had a scavenger hunt leading her to eventually being surprised as he proposed to her and she accepted.  Traditions.  They’re what hold families together and give meaning to the term family.

Nadine and I recently toured Taos Pueblo, a place where Native American Indians in New Mexico still live without running water or electricity or bathrooms.  They do this because they don’t want their children to forget the traditions of their roots.

As you can see in the lower right picture they still cook their food in these mounds heated by wood.  Traditions.  The picture to the left is the remains of the church that the Taos Indians flocked to as the last stand before the Spanish burned it to the ground with many of the tribe in it.  It remains as a memorial to those who went before to seek to preserve their culture.  Traditions.  Legacy.

Moses gave us a template for taking truth to the next generation.  “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”  Deuteronomy‬ ‭6:4-9‬ ‭Moses exhorted the older generation to teach the truths to the next generation.  That teaching can be through words as well as traditions.

On this journey there will be temptations to gravitate to the fast and easy path.  Holding onto traditions of our family  may take longer but in the end those traditions will be passed to the next generation and the next.  It may mean that you choose to start a tradition that will eventuate in being carried to the next generation.


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Giving Up Bad Habits

Bad Habits are hard to break.  Smoking.  Drinking.  Eating sweets.  Outbursts of anger.  Swearing.  Pornography.  Speeding.  Running red lights.  California stops.  Unhealthy relationships.  Biting nails.  Negative thinking.  Gossip.  Cutting others down.  Sarcasm.  I could go on and on about bad behaviors and habits that invade our space.  We want to quit, but can’t seem to quit.

What is it that prevents us from giving up a bad habit?  What stops us from wiping it from our minds and actions and choosing a healthier path to take?  What is it in the habit that holds our attention and draws us back into that pattern of behavior?  These seem to have easy answers if only we could live by a counselor who guaranteed to fix any bad behavior in two minutes.  A client came into him wanting to be cured of his bad habit and told the counselor what his problem was.  When the counselor understood the problem, he responded to the client by raising his voice and giving the client the answer.  “STOP IT!!!!!!”  “STOP IT!!!!!”  “THAT’S YOUR ANSWER.  STOP IT”

Wouldn’t it be that easy if we could just stop it.  The problem with bad habits involves at least a couple of factors.  Familiarity with the habit, and pleasure.  When we eat sweets, we are familiar with the sweetness of the food, and it gives us pleasure when we put it in our mouths.

I was reading about a King in the Old Testament who made a commitment to get rid of all the detestable things in the land when he took over as Judah’s leader.  His name was Josiah.  “He pulled down the altars and . . .smashed them to pieces and threw the rubble into the Kidron Valley. The king also desecrated the high places that were for the vile goddess of the Sidonians, for Chemosh the vile god of Moab, and for Molek the detestable god of the people of Ammon. Josiah smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles and covered the sites with human bones. . . .He burned the high place and ground it to powder, and burned the Asherah pole also. . . .Josiah removed all the shrines at the high places that the kings of Israel had built-in the towns of Samaria and that had aroused the LORD’s anger. . . .Josiah got rid of the mediums and spiritists, the household gods, the idols and all the other detestable things seen in Judah and Jerusalem.  . . .Neither before nor after Josiah was there a king like him who turned to the LORD as he did—with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his strength, in accordance with all the Law of Moses.”  2 Kings‬ ‭23:12-16, 19, 24-25‬ ‭NIV.

If you want to get rid of a bad habit, you have to make choices to eradicate it from your life.  If it’s cigarettes, you have to get rid of them.  If it’s sweets, you have to choose not to buy them.  If it’s pornography, you have to place safeguards on your computer so that you can’t go there.  The removal of the bad habit involves destroying or removing anything that causes you to be drawn to the habit.  Stopping any bad habit involves a commitment to remove it, taking away any trigger that tempts you to do the habit, and resolve to make healthy decisions.  It involves a total committed heart choice that Josiah had that allowed him to remove the temptations in his kingship.

On this journey there will be many things that tempt us.  It’s our responsibility and choice to remove the bad ones so that we can cultivate a heart that is totally devoted to the Lord.

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Surprise in the Canyon

While we were in New Mexico, we decided to investigate the Rio Grande Gorge bridge.  The scenery around Taos, NM is filled with sagebrush.  Miles and miles of sagebrush.  The landscape is flat with–have I said it–sagebrush.  But outside of Taos is a river that goes from north to south called the Rio Grande River.  About 20 miles south of Taos you can drive your car next to the river and play in it if you like.  It’s quite different just outside Taos.  In fact you drive thru the sagebrush a few miles west of Taos on highway 64 and see an interesting thing.  You can’t see it until you are on it.  It’s the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge over the Rio Grande that towers 564 feet above the water level.

What’s also interesting is that the canyon is filled with all kinds of wildlife, especially big horn sheep.  You can see one in the middle of the next picture.


In the midst of sagebrush country, you would never think that such a beautiful canyon and unique sheep would be visible.  It’s Gods creation that He has allowed us to enjoy.

On this journey, when we open our eyes and look around, new and different aspects of scenery can be seen.  Sagebrush and canyons and sheep.


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