Handmade Sky Jewelry

On study break, my internal alarm clock goes off around 6 a.m.  I do a quick brushing of the ole enamels,  pull on my shorts I wore yesterday, cover over bed head with a cap, arm myself with necessary coffee, and head towards the beach.  I’m slouched in my chair by 6:15 or so.  Sunrise is around 6:45.  I love it.

I’ve driven my entire family nine hours south for the exceptional opportunity to sit, think, read, write, pray, worship… and desperately ask God to speak.  He always does.

Yesterday’s message was clear.  Glory.  Awe.  Wonder.  Above vision, church strategies, leadership principles, and series preparations… there’s Jesus.

Before my feet could hit the ocean-blown sand, I was greeted by a magnificient thunderhead cloud.  A vast array of colors boasted the artist’s palette of God.  Pinks, blues, grays, whites, and oranges were all mixing together to create what Eugene Petersen calls “sky jewelry.”  I looked around at my fellow early morning risers.  Nobody seemed to notice.  In fairness, I’m not sure they were trying… because this message was extremely hard to miss.

I took several photos within a one-hour time frame.  The thunderhead cloud loomed increasingly large, and I was witness to a live painting demonstration like none other.  At one point, I swear a heart formed in the middle of the clouds (see photo evidence).  I choose to believe this was part of God’s message to me.  He loves me… for the Bible tells me so.  Still … no walker, runner, or shell hunter seemed to be taking notice of the giant artwork screaming for attention and intimacy from them.

Within minutes an off shore rain storm popped up.  I took a photo.   Minutes after this glorious mystery of creation had watered the waters, my God placed a gianormous rainbow over half the visible waters.  What wonder, majesty, glory, and awe Jesus was allowing me access to.  I did see one other observer snap a picture.  For those who seek and with eyes to see, God has such a heart to share and speak.

I abruptly stopped and accosted a local, regular, older beach walker.  He had saluted the very sky painting I’m alluding to as he walked by.   His name was Bill, and I asked him about the salute I had just seen.  Bill smiled and said he likes to remember friends who have died.  He acknowledges a faith in a far greater place than even this ocean paradise.  Bill looked to the sky and said, “It’s hard to miss it with this kind of scenery.”  For those with eyes to see…

I finished my sky jewelry photography sequence and turned to Psalm 8.  Perfect.  I pulled out “My Utmost For His Highest.”   For July 11th, Oswald writes: “A saint is not to take the initiative towards self-realization, but toward knowing Jesus Christ.  Self-realization only leads to the glorification of good works, whereas a saint of God glorifies Jesus Christ through his good works.”

My leadership must be movement towards Christ-realization.  My reading and thinking and planning and thoughts of Church advancement must be centered on Christ-realization.  It’s such an easy, encouraged trap for things not to be.

I’m mulling over this thought:  The more endorsements a books has, the less it may be about Jesus and the more self-realization.  Hmmm.  Although “Amplified Leadership” has some good thoughts and ideas to consider employing, there are 18 endorsements in the first few pages.  Oswald Chambers devotional has one by Charles Stanley — only in it’s 1992 revision.  Os Guiness’, “The Call” has none.  N.T. Wright’s weighty work “Simply Jesus” has none.  The Bible… you guessed it, zero.

I’m pressing and hoping to self publish my book this Fall.   It’s so easy for me to be jealous of publishers and long lists of endorsements claiming THIS will take your church to the next level.  Now I’m thinking “I Quit Being A Christian To Follow Jesus” will have none.  God grants me the freedom and security for this to be absolutely OK.

Christ-realization.  THAT is how this pastor can sustain lasting leadership.

I’m three chapters into my fifth and final book, “The Other 80 Percent.”  It has four endorsements.  🙂    I’m enjoying  this one.  The whole thing started with this poignant and Christ-realization quote:  “What will motivate less-connected or less-active members to move towards a life of discipleship and of living out the faith in community?”

And so… I begin this new morning asking God to speak and build into my soul.  I wonder what direction He’ll take me today?  I wonder what I’ll see, who I’ll talk to, and what grace surprise Jesus will place before me for attention and intimacy?  I sure did enjoy the sky jewelry!

Michael got up early with me this morning.  We’re taking in the a.m. creation together.  Perhaps hearing Jesus today will demand looking no further than my son… and my family.   Today IS Morgan’s 15th birthday.  I believe what God has done within my family is perhaps His greatest work in my life.   For those with eyes to see…

sunrise 1 sunrise 2

Psalm 8 (The Message Bible with sky jewelry photos)…

“God, brilliant Lord,
yours is a household name.

Nursing infants gurgle choruses about you; toddlers shout the songs that drown out enemy talk, and silence atheist babble.


I look up at your macro-skies, dark and enormous, your handmade sky-jewelry,
Moon and stars mounted in their settings.  Then I look at my micro-self and wonder.  sunrise 4Why do you bother with us?  Why take a second look our way?

sunrise 3Yet we’ve so narrowly missed being gods, bright with Eden’s dawn light.
You put us in charge of your handcrafted world, repeated to us your Genesis-charge, made us lords of sheep and cattle, even animals out in the wild,
birds flying and fish swimming, whales singing in the ocean deeps.  

Yet we’ve so narrowly missed being gods, bright with Eden’s dawn light.  You put us in charge of your handcrafted world, repeated to us your Genesis-charge, made us lords of sheep and cattle, even animals out in the wild,
birds flying and fish swimming, whales singing in the ocean deeps.

sunrise 5

sunrise 6God, brilliant Lord, your name echoes around the world.”

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