Tag Archives: Nature

Worship Wednesday – You Are Worthy of Your Glory – Jon Shirley (Austin Stone Worship)

“Consider how the lilies grow: They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory was adorned like one of these.” – Luke 12:27

“When I observe Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
the moon and the stars, which You set in place,
what is man that You remember him,
the son of man that You look after him?” – Psalm 8:3-4

For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.” – Romans 1:19-20

On Sunday at Movement Church, we sang a song new to me that continues to move my heart to worship this week. Jon Shirley of Austin Stone Worship is the writer-composer of this song You Are Worthy. In the Story Behind the Song video, he mentions how a Victorian poet’s words inspired him to write the song.

“The world is charged with the grandeur of God” changed, in the song, to “The earth is charged with Your great grandeur.”

During the Victorian era (following the Industrial Revolution), Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote poetry that extolled the glory of God as experienced in His creation. This was a time of tremendous prosperity and invention, where people were enamored with their own accomplishments. Hopkins gently shook his culture into awakening again to the astounding creative genius of God.

God’s Grandeur
The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
    It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
    It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
    And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
    And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.
And for all this, nature is never spent;
    There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
    Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs —
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
    World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings. – Poetry Foundation
Today, we also find ourselves in an age of booming technology. So impressed with ourselves. Yet, when we clear our minds and re-orient to the extraordinary beauty and wonder of creation, we can do no other than worship the One who spoke it into being. Worship the One who fashioned us into His image. Worship the God who still wants a relationship with us in all our smallness, bowing down to our own inventions and missing the God of the universe. This Creator God is worthy of glory; worthy of a world of worship.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

How Has God Revealed Himself Through Nature? – Don Stewart

Photo Credit: Marc Merlin

Worship with me, through this little song that celebrates such a great God:

The earth is charged with Your great grandeur
The stars above shine for You
And the world below responds in wonder, God!
And we’re all lost in You
In all You say and do

You are worthy of Your glory
God Almighty, You are Lord – forever
You’re robed in honor, You’re armed with power
God forever, You are Lord – forever

The waves resound, they pound Your praises
The flowers bloom, and stretch to You
Let everything you’ve made now praise You, God
Let all creation sing!

Awake my soul and sing
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, You are Lord
Forever Lord!*

Hallelujah!
My soul, praise the Lord.
I will praise the Lord all my life;
I will sing to my God as long as I live.

Do not trust in nobles,
in man, who cannot save.
When his breath leaves him,
he returns to the ground;
on that day his plans die.

Happy is the one whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the Lord his God,
the Maker of heaven and earth,
the sea and everything in them.
He remains faithful forever,
executing justice for the exploited
and giving food to the hungry.
The Lord frees prisoners.
The Lord opens the eyes of the blind.
The Lord raises up those who are oppressed.
The Lord loves the righteous.
The Lord protects foreigners
and helps the fatherless and the widow,
but He frustrates the ways of the wicked.

The Lord reigns forever;
Zion, your God reigns for all generations.
Hallelujah! – Psalm 146

*Lyrics – Written by Jon Shirley – Austin Stone Worship

YouTube Video – Story Behind the Song – You Are Worthy – Jon Shirley

A Short Analysis of Hopkins’ “God’s Grandeur”

Analysis of Poem “God’s Grandeur” by Gerard Manley Hopkins – Andrew Spacey

Gerard Manley Hopkins – 1844-1889

Victorian Era Crisis of Faith – Veronica Johnson

Worship Wednesday – Alleluia, the Majesty and Glory of Your Name – Tom Fettke & Linda Lee Johnson

Rainy morning quiet. When I got back from walking with my neighbors, the backyard feeder was swaying from the perching of a wide array of birds. My favorites, the cardinals, were there, along with many others, including goldfinches. Those little yellow birds flew before I could get a picture of them, but Michael Seeley captured a similar scene (below).Photo Credit: Michael Seeley, Flickr

Mornings like these, with a rained-out event clearing my schedule, I sit in quiet. In times like these, with nature all around magnificently displaying the glory of its Creator, the Psalms come to mind.

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
    the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
What is man that you are mindful of him,
    and the son of man that you care for him?

O Lord, our Lord,
    how majestic is your name in all the earth!Psalm 8:3-4, 9

Photo Credit: Pixabay

No matter what we are facing in the moment – great joy or great sorrow – this world of ours, the beauty of it, reminds us of the Author of it all. Who are we that the God of this universe should visit us with such wonder? I think it is to lift us out of our present circumstance and to demonstrate His own beauty, His glorious nature, and His tender care.

…for the tiniest of creatures and for His beloved children…even made in His own image (Genesis 1:27). We lift our eyes to Him in worship…on a rainy morning, in a moonlit evening, and at our work stations wherever we are.

O Lord, our Lord,
    how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Photo Credit: Chris Yarzab, Flickr

Tom Fettke and Linda Lee Johnson, inspired by Psalm 8, wrote a perfect anthem to the majesty of God’s name as displayed by the beauty of His creation – The Majesty and Glory of Your Name.

Worship with me. If you’re at work, you made need to plug in earbuds – this gets louder and more glorious as it goes – like the praise of children.

When I gaze into the night skies and see the work of your fingers; The moon and stars suspended in space.

Oh, what is man that you are mindful of him? You have given man a crown of glory and honor, And have made him a little lower than the angels. You have put him in charge of all creation: beasts of the field, The birds of the air, The fish of the sea.

Oh, what is man? Oh, what is man that you are mindful of him? O Lord, our God the majesty and glory of your name Transcends the earth and fills the heavens.

O Lord, our God; little children praise You perfectly, And so would we. And so would we.

Alleluia! Alleluia! The majesty and glory of Your name. Alleluia! Alleluia! The majesty and glory of Your name. Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! (Alleluia!)

Psalm 8 Bible Study/Commentary – David Guzik

A Year Missing Our Friend Jeannie Elliff – Remembering – Jeannie had asked for this anthem to be sung at her funeral. At the end of the video of her funeral you can hear it sung as a benediction on the God she loved so much.

A Walk in the Wild – Or a Walk in the Park Very Near the Main Road

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Ask the beasts, and they will teach you; the birds of the heavens, and they will tell you; or the bushes of the earth, and they will teach you; and the fish of the sea will declare to you.  Who among all these does not now that the hand of the Lord has done this? In His hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind.Job 12:7-10

Sometimes, we all just need to get away. To hear quiet again; to see green and rocks and wild creatures; to refresh our senses and regain perspective. My husband was, in years past, an avid outdoorsman – fishing, hunting, hiking, biking all reset his week as a younger man. I myself can do all that inside my house, with a book, a look outside, a cup of coffee, and maybe a phone call with a friend.

This week we took a couple of days and got out of town. Not deep into the mountains. No equipment needed. Just a couple of days out the door with our sneakers on. It’s been a week of sorting through life – and our minds were tired. We have had a lot of work stuff going on and just lost a dear friend to cancer this week…clearing our heads seemed a good idea…and it was.

We walked in the woods. Sometimes by a stream. Cool beneath the trees on a hot summer day. The sun’s light pushing through in places.

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There’s a sweet mystery in hiking…even with well-marked trails, you don’t know what you’ll find exactly, at the turn ahead, around the bend. In the quiet and the green, there’s room to think.2015 July - Blog, Garden, Flowers, Massanutten, Jeannie Elliff 389Of course, I didn’t just think about God and His amazing world He’s given us to steward. I thought of deer ticks, and bears, and snakes. Hard to keep an “indoorsy” gal’s mind from hopping over those possibilities. Especially when the trail marking also pointed to which direction went nearest the local hospital. We went that way…also because, in truth, it was marked “extreme difficulty” rather than “most difficult”.

No worries. We walked a long way without any of the crittery wildness of nature imposing itself on us. In fact, the biggest danger was my own propensity for falling down – which I’ve done in major cities around the world, and sometimes on hiking trails. This was a bitty bit of our walk in the wild that day – tripping on a rock and rolling into the bushes beside the path, uninjured, thankfully. I thought of the kids who would always say, “Mom, don’t run. Mom, be careful.” It made me smile as I picked myself up out of the briars, with Dave’s help. And on we went. Glad for a walking partner and no twisted ankles.

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It was a sweet day, and a much-needed time away…a healing time.

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 The next morning, we needed to get back early. There were budget meetings and other commitments. It was all we needed this one full day…and still the Lord, in His generosity gave us this sunrise to go.2015 July - Blog, Garden, Flowers, Massanutten, Jeannie Elliff 4252015 July - Blog, Garden, Flowers, Massanutten, Jeannie Elliff 4272015 July - Blog, Garden, Flowers, Massanutten, Jeannie Elliff 430

 When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained; What is man that You take thought of him, And the son of man that You care for him? – Psalm 8:3-4

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I hope you get a walk in the wild this summer…or even a walk in the park (or backyard) near the main road. God is there to meet us, as He is with our cup of coffee and book.  It seems we sometimes stop short of worshipping God in His creation. We soak in the gift without acknowledging the Giver. This time away, processing the great gift of our friend, and the great gift of nature, gave sweet clarity…to the other of life before us.

2015 Blog - Garden 005

…all to His glory and majesty.

YouTube Video – The Majesty and Glory, by MetroSingers, Hyattsville, MD – performed at close of the Memorial Service for Jeannie Elliff, by Sherwood Baptist Church Choir

Massanutten Resort, McGaheysville, Virginia – two-day get-away we won as a prize for helping in a school fund-raiser through Papa John’s – highly recommended

Resting Your Eyes and Lifting Your Soul – the Glorious Banner of Love that is Spring

Blog - Spring Trees - Flame Tree - bestphotosite.net

“He has brought me to his banquet hall, And his banner over me is love.” – Song of Solomon 2:4

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Living in Egypt for many years gave us a deep appreciation for the change of seasons. Although it seemed in Cairo that there were only two seasons – one being hot and the other hotter – the trees knew when to bloom. We loved the deep red flame trees (above), the towering purple jacarandas (above), and the crimson-flowered poinsettia trees. The deep colors of these trees were striking on the canvas of this colossal sand-colored city, built atop the Sahara Desert.

Then in our years in Tunisia and Morocco, the seasons changed more like the four we were used to in the U.S. The rainy seasons there (October to March) ushered in spring vegetation. The flowering almond, apple, and cherry trees brought the promise of the first fruits of summer.Flowering Almond TreeApple Tree

Now settled back in the States, we are re-discovering this amazing season of Spring. At first, early signs of winter’s earth coming out of its hard freeze are very subtle. The yellow crocuses push through the gray soil almost overnight. Then wild violets peak purple through fallen leaves. As more and more flowers bud and bloom, our eyes are drawn up from the ground to see spring wonder all around us. Then the trees awake –  with the warming sun, the lengthening days, and whatever else signals the time of flowering. This is my favorite time of Spring. When the flowers open on the trees, and the leaves follow. We tune our eyes upward to the incredible glory. These magnificent trees are a grand display of exquisite beauty – a praise offering to Creator God. What a gift He gives us in these trees. They are truly like a banner of His love over us.

In our neighborhood, there are so many different kinds of flowering trees – some of which we remember fondly from other places and some which we’re just learning. Even the maple trees, for so long bare, have seed clusters adorning them as if they were flowers.Blog - Spring Trees 3Blog - Spring Trees #10Blog - Spring TreesBlog - Spring Trees #13Blog - Spring Trees #7Blog - Spring Trees #11

Just like with food, fragrance, and music, these flowering trees trigger memories of places, people, and graces of God. Flowering pear trees, for instance, remind me of my nephew, Chad, who died at 23 in a car accident. Our shock and devastation at losing him so suddenly was cushioned, in surprising ways, by the grace of God. One of those being the funeral procession in Georgia, during the month of March. As we slowly made our way to the cemetery, this long line of cars full of people who loved Chad, we traveled roads lined with dazzlingly white pear trees. It was as if they stood at attention, against the blue sky, like a military color guard, there to honor this darling young man.

Redbuds in bloom always remind us of Spring in East Tennessee where we lived when the children were small. The deep pink-purple flowering clusters were our signal that winter was finally over. Even though they are blooming now, here in Virginia, I am always reminded of Tennessee.Blog - Spring Trees #15Blog - Spring Trees #2

Dogwoods and crepe myrtle trees remind me of my mom’s yard. No matter where I see them, my mind goes back to our home growing up. The same goes for tulip magnolias and Dave’s mom. They bloomed so bright and full on the trees beside his parents’ white clapboard house on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. When I see them, it’s that place that comes to mind…even though they have long-since moved to another house, one without tulip magnolias.

Blog - Spring Trees #8Tulip magnolia

The flowering trees are my favorite part of Spring’s majesty. There are shrubs and bushes that rival the trees in beauty. Each with their own grand entrances. First the forsythia, then the azaleas. Then as Spring moves toward Summer, the wisteria, rhododendron, hydrangeas, and others.

Again memories are attached – the year our daughter was born in March and a surprise late snowfall hung on our forsythia bushes. Brilliant white on bright yellow.Blog - Spring Trees #9

Lastly, looking back to those years, again, in Egypt, Tunisia, and Morocco….with hedges of bougainvillea, rows of hibiscus trees, and arbors wound with jasmine. Those glimpses of glory rested our eyes and lifted our souls. We were always reminded that nature gives witness to a good and gracious God who reveals Himself in so many ways. These breathtaking flowering trees of Spring are as a banner of His love unfurled over our heads. All we have to do is look up.

“I will put the cedar in the wilderness, The acacia and the myrtle and the olive tree; I will place the juniper in the desert together with the box tree and the cypress, that they may see and recognize, and consider and gain insight as well, that the hand of the LORD has done this, and the Holy One of Israel has created it. – Isaiah 41:19-20

Blog - Spring Flowers Flowering TreesPhoto above by my friend Katrina Otto, Kansas City, Missouri

200 Tree Pictures – Best Free Tree Photos with Tree Names

YouTube Video – Amazing Tree Tunnels from Around the World

Photo Credit: Images of flowering almond tree, jacaranda tree, and apple tree; flame tree; all others are mine.