Lessons from Letchworth

Our favorite place to enjoy the autumn colors is Letchworth State Park. It is located in western New York state approximately an hour from our home. I want to share a few lessons I learned from the Lord while recently visiting this scenic wonderland.

Letchworth State Park covers 14,500 acres. It is the largest canyon east of the Mississippi River and is known as the Grand Canyon of the East. It is massive! As I survey the height and depth of this canyon and gaze at the tremendous trees, I am reminded of Ephesians 3:17-18. “And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.

We are embedded in beauty. The accumulation of crunchy brown leaves on the ground creates a mattress. As our eyes survey the fall foliage forest on the banks of the canyon, a multicolored patchwork quilt is displayed.

Let me describe this brilliant quilt of colorful leaves. There is an abundance of yellow and gold. Gold is both a color and a commodity. I Peter 1:7 NKJV says, “the genuineness of your faith, is much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.Orange swatches are outstanding. The orange leaves remind me of flames of fire. Tongues of fire describe the Holy Spirit in Acts 2:3. “They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. Patches of green are intermingled. Evergreen trees and everlasting life. I John 2:25 says, “And this is what He promised us–eternal life. The reds are not as abundant but still evident. The red leaves are precious similar to the preciousness of Jesus’ blood. I John 1:7 NLT tells us, “the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.Beautiful colors are exhibited and powerful scriptures are interwoven in nature’s quilt.

Although we are captivated by the beauty of the trees, we also watch the Genesee River wind its way along the bottom of this gorgeous gorge. I am reminded of John’s words in Revelation 22:1-2. “Then He showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb, in the middle of its street. On either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.The source of the spiritual River of Life is God’s throne. Nature’s Genesee River is a tributary of Lake Ontario and it flows through the park.

Letchworth State Park features three large waterfalls – the Upper, Middle and Lower Falls. There was in abundance of water flowing from these falls this year. John 7:37-39 says, “Jesus stood and cried out, saying, ‘If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’ But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

We were enveloped in a mist of water vapor while standing near the Middle Falls. Suddenly, we saw a rainbow! Water droplets and rays of sun combined to create a bow of colors. God says in Genesis 9:13&16, “I set My bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a sign of a covenant between Me and the earth. When the bow is in the cloud, then I will look upon it, to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth. I praise the Lord for His beauty and His promises!

We lingered at various overlooks taking in the magnificent overview of the canyon. We also lingered in the Lord’s presence. Throughout the day, He revealed multiple meandering messages. Let me continue to share a few more mini-messages.

When we stopped at the overlooks to get a better view, we saw a few burning bushes. Moses encountered a burning bush while taking care of sheep. Exodus 3:2-5 says, “The angel of the LORD appeared to him in a blazing fire from the midst of a bush; and he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, yet the bush was not consumed. So Moses said, ‘I must turn aside now and see this marvelous sight, why the bush is not burned up.’ When the LORD saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, ‘Moses, Moses!’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’ Then He said, ‘Do not come near here; remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.’” I felt like we were standing on holy ground while being consumed with the scenic surroundings.

We observed the massive rock formations creating the canyon’s walls. Time for another scripture. Psalm 118:22 says, “The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.” Jesus is the rock, the sure foundation of our lives.

There was an abundance of sunshine throughout the day. The sunshine accentuated the beauty of autumn. I use a play on words while thinking of Jesus as the Son of God and Son of Man. Jesus is our Sonshine. He is with us throughout every day because according to Hebrews 13:5 He never leaves us or forsakes us.

Psalm 96:12 declares, “Let all the trees of the forest sing for joy.Today, we have heard the joyful song of the trees in Letchworth State Park. We have sung our praises along with the forest. We have experienced the grandeur of the Grand Canyon of the East and the greatness of our God!



Secret PLACE or SECRET Place

He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High
Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty
Psalm 91:1 NKJV

Where is this secret place? I want to find it!

In Manifesting Your Spirit, Graham Cooke challenges his readers journal their thoughts upon the secret place.

So, I begin…

When I think about the secret place, I wonder which word to emphasize. Is it the “secret place” or the “secret place”?

If I put the accent upon place, I think about the location. Matthew 6:6 instructs, “When you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” Is the secret place where I secretly meet with God? Is it a location no one but God and I know about? Is it the spot where no one can disturb me?

If my emphasis is upon secret, I focus upon the information. The Lord says in Jeremiah 33:3 NLT, “Ask Me and I will tell you remarkable secrets you do not know about things to come.What secret might God want to reveal? I consider it a privilege and honor that God would want to share something with me that might not be evident to someone else.

Perhaps I am trying to interpret something supernatural with natural ideas. Is the secret place a spiritual location rather than a physical location? Where do I need to be spiritually in order to hear God’s secrets? Maybe I need to say like Samuel in I Samuel 3:10, “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.

With my Bible and concordance in hand, I search for scriptures that refer to the secret place.

The secret things belong to the LORD our God,
but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever,
that we may follow all the words of this law.
Deuteronomy 29:29 NLT

God has secrets! As His children, He will reveal secret things to us. He shares what will be beneficial to our spiritual walk. If the secret things belong to God and He want to reveal them, we must be in a secret place to hear His secrets.

I will give you hidden treasures, riches stored in secret places,
so that you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel,
who summons you by name.
Isaiah 45:3 NIV

This verse validates the secret place as both a location and as information. The Lord hides secrets in secret places! He personally calls us to these secret places to reveal Himself. Bill Johnson has said, “God hides things for us, not from us.”

My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me
were written in Your book before one of them came to be.
Psalm 139:15-16

In verse 15, the secret place is a secluded spot place where physical intimacy took place. It is an emotional as well as a physical place where love is consummated. It can also be symbolic of a time of spiritual intimacy where we become one with God. I Corinthians 6:17 says, “But whoever is united with the Lord is one with Him in spirit.
In verse 16, God’s recorded plans could refer to the secrets God would reveal to David throughout his life. David would best hear these plans while spending intimate, personal time with the Lord. God desires spiritual intimacy with us so He can reveal His plans and purposes to us.

You are my hiding place and my shield: I hope in your word.
Ps 119:114 NKJV

When the Psalmist refers to his hiding place, I believe he is describing God as his secret place. God is his safe spot from his enemies.

When he calls out to Me, I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble. I will deliver and honor him.
Psalm 91:15 NIV

This can refer to a physical, emotional or spiritual troubling place. Not a good location, but a place where we all have been. It can become a good place if we use this place as an opportunity to pray. The secret is the Lord’s answer to our prayer.

* * * * * * *

We have been thinking about the secret place in regards to revelation. Another perspective can be secrets concealed. Although we want to know God’s secrets, we occasionally try to keep secrets from Him – especially things of which we are ashamed or embarrassed. However, this will not work! Scripture proves it.

For everything that is hidden will eventually be brought into the open,
and every secret will be brought to light.
Mark 4:22 NLT

Jesus promises that EVERYTHING will be revealed. Ecclesiastes 12:14 NLT says, “God will judge us for everything we do, including every secret thing, whether good or bad.

Can anyone hide from Me in a secret place?
Am I not everywhere in all the heavens and earth?” says the LORD.
Jeremiah 23:24 NLT

God is omnipresent – He is everywhere. In Matthew 28:20, Jesus says, “I am with you always.” We may need to be in a secret place to hear God’s secrets, but we cannot keep any secrets from Him.

You spread out our sins before You— our secret sins—
and You see them all.
Psalm 90:8 NLT

God is omniscient – He knows everything. We may be able to keep secrets from people – at least for awhile. However, God knows our sins whether or not we tell Him. The amazing thing is that God will forgive the sins we would prefer He did not know. We just need to admit them to Him. I John 1:19 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” His forgiveness is the greatest secret He has not kept hidden!

* * * * * * *

One thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and to seek Him in His temple.
Psalm 27:4

David found his secret place. It was a spiritual location where he received spiritual insight.

Each of us will have our own interpretation of the secret place. If you perceive the secret place primarily as a location, you will think of the special spot where you spend time alone with the Lord. If the concept of information resonates more, you will focus upon new spiritual understanding God personally reveals.

For me, it is the place where my spirit meets with God’s Spirit. My secret place is where the Holy Spirit reveals His secrets to my spirit.

A good description of the Secret Place is found in the words of I Come to the Garden Alone by Deniece Williams. (Link)

I come to the garden alone while the dew is still on the roses,
And the voice I hear falling on my ear,
The Son of God discloses

And He walks with me and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am his own;
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known
He speaks, and the sound of his voice is so sweet
The birds hush their singing,
And the melody that He give to me
Within my heart is to ringing.
And He walks with me and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am his own;
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known



AND not OR


Often we hear the question, “Are you a Mary or a Martha?” However, scripture refers to Mary and Martha – not Mary or Martha. We are not required to live exclusively like Mary or Martha. We are given the privilege of exemplifying character traits of both women.

Mary and Martha were sisters. Although closely related, they had very different personalities. If I were to choose a scripture to describe Mary, I would quote Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God.” For Martha, I would select Mark 16:15, “Go into all the world….”

Martha was frequently looked down upon because of a conversation she had with Jesus in Luke 10. Jesus had come to the home of Mary, Martha and Lazarus for a visit. Martha was frustrated because Mary exclusively spent time with Jesus while she had to prepare the whole meal by herself. In Luke 10:40, Martha asked, Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her to help me!Jesus’ responded in verses 41-42, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things. But only one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, and it will not be taken away from her.

When Jesus came to their home, each woman chose how she would honor their guest. Mary chose to sit with Jesus and listen to His wisdom. She wanted to learn everything possible from the man who was her Savior and Lord. According to Romans 11:6, we are saved by grace, not by works. She was hungry for spiritual nourishment. Martha chose to prepare a meal for Jesus and His disciples. She wanted to nourish their physical hunger.

Jesus complimented Mary for making a good choice. Today, a person with a Mary personality would desire to spend time with Jesus through praise and prayer. According to Psalm 22:3, the Lord inhabits the praises of His people. Psalm 100:2 tells us to “Serve the LORD with gladness; come into His presence with joyful songs. Verse 4 goes on to say, “Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and bless His name.

Martha’s actions concerned Jesus only because she allowed responsibility to take priority over relationship. Serving is not a bad option. An individual with Martha traits today might remember James 2:26, “As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead.” Paul exhorts in I Thessalonians 5:13-14, “Now, we ask you, brothers, to respect these who work hard among you,… Hold them in highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other.

Like Mary and Martha, we have a choice. Jesus says in Revelation 3:20, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with Me.How will we choose to honor Jesus when we answer His knock on our heart’s door?

Will we want to spend One on one time with Him? If so, we may make our choice based upon Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:6, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.We may also validate our choice according to Jesus’ words in John 6:35. “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to Me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in Me will never be thirsty.

Our other option would be to express our love for Jesus by satisfying and gratifying physical needs of others. This decision may be based upon Isaiah 58:10. If you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.We might also remember the conversation in Matthew 25:37-40. “Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’”

It is good for us to begin our day sitting at Jesus’ feet and studying the Word. Then we will be ready to put feet to our faith while fulfilling our responsibilities. Works are not the reason for salvation. Works are the evidence of salvation. James 2:17 NLT points out, “So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.

We are not required to just make a one-time choice of being a Martha or a Mary. God created each of us to be a mixture of Martha and Mary. Does your character better exemplify one woman over another? God has placed within you specific gifts and talents. Embrace who God created you to be. Do not be jealous of a Mary if you are more of a Martha. Do not look down upon a Martha if you have more of a Mary personality. Some say we need to have a Mary heart in a Martha world. We each must discern what is required of us in a particular situation. Sometimes we need to strengthen our spiritual heart like Mary. Other times we need to manifest our servant heart like Martha.

Matthew 6:33 NLT is a good scripture for us to remember. “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously.Our life’s goal should be I Corinthians 16:14. “Do everything in love.





Leaves – Objects and Actions

The seasons change. Summer leaves and fall arrives. The leaves are displaying brilliant colors. Leaves are falling from the trees. People are raking piles of crunchy, dry leaves. Leaves, leaves, leaves! This causes me to think about scriptures that include the word leave. Yes, I know leaves and leave are two very different things, but let me share what I have discovered about leave. There are scriptures that assure us God will never leave us. There are other verses that instruct us to leave. Occasionally, we are told to leave something or someone alone.

While people may be creating piles of tree leaves, let us gather scriptural leaves.

God never leaves:

God told Jacob in a dream that He would not leave him. He also told Joshua He would not leave him.
What’s more, I am with you, and I will protect you (Jacob) wherever you go. One day I will bring you back to this land. I will not LEAVE you until I have finished giving you everything I have promised you.Genesis 28:15 NLT
No one will be able to stand against you (Joshua) all the days of your life. As I (God) was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never LEAVE you nor forsake you.Joshua 1:5

Moses shared with the Israelites God’s promise not to leave them.
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you(the Israelites); He will never LEAVE you nor forsake you.Deuteronomy 31:6

Although Jesus told His disciples He would leave them, He also told them that He would not be leaving them because the Holy Spirit would come.
It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for Him to LEAVE this world and go to the Father. John 13:1
The world cannot receive Him (the Holy Spirit), because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. But you do know Him, for He abides with you and will be in you. I (Jesus) will not LEAVE you as orphans; I will come to you.John 14:17-18

Because of God’s faithfulness throughout history, we are assured He will not leave us.
Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I LEAVE you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5

There are times to leave:

God spoke to Abram and Paul directing them to leave a specific location.
The LORD had said to Abram, “LEAVE your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you.” Genesis 12:1 NLT
the Lord speaking to me (Paul). “Quick!’”He said. “LEAVE Jerusalem immediately, because the people here will not accept your testimony about Me.” Acts 22:18

God may instruct us to leave a particular lifestyle.
LEAVE your simple ways and you will live; walk in the way of insight. Proverbs 9:6
Jesus’ words to the woman caught in adultery, “Go now and LEAVE your life of sin.” John 8:11
Therefore LEAVING the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, – Hebrews 6:1 NASB

Jesus shared how a shepherd might leave many sheep to find one that is lost. He was giving an example of what He would do for those lost in sin.
Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he LEAVE the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?Luke 15:4

Jesus lived a life of coming and going. He left heaven to come to earth. Thirty-three years later, He left earth to return to heaven.
It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for Him to LEAVE this world and go to the Father. Having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.John 13:1

May we be sensitive to the Lord’s leading for when to leave a location or a lifestyle.

There are times to leave someone or something alone:

As involved as Jesus was in the lives of those around Him, there were times He told people to leave others alone.
LEAVE her alone,” said Jesus. “Why are you bothering her (Mary who anointed Jesus feet)? She has done a beautiful thing to Me.” Mark 14:6

Gamaliel gave similar instructions when the apostles were persecuted.
Therefore, in the present case I advise you: LEAVE these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail.Acts 5:38

Wisdom is requred to know when to act and when not to act. Paul gives good advice to us as well as the Romans.
Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but LEAVE room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is Mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.Romans 12:19

There are leaves in abundance whether referring to leaves of trees or leaves of scripture.

I love the promise that the Lord will never leave us. Jesus told the disciples in Acts 1:4, “Do not LEAVE Jerusalem, but wait for the gift My Father promised, which you have heard Me speak about. Each day I receive a new impartation of this gift – the Holy Spirit. It is through the presence of the Holy Spirit in me that God never leaves me.

Referring to the Holy Spirit, Jesus said in John 14:27, “Peace I LEAVE with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. I am thankful for the Holy Spirit who never leaves me. He shows me when to leave. He also helps me know when it is best to leave a situation in His hands. He gives me peace in all circumstances.

I love the autumn tree leaves that never fail to appear during this season. I also love the promised leaves of scripture that never fail whatever the season.

God’s Got It!

Fact #1 – I’ve got a problem.
Fact #2 – God’s got it.

Which fact is more powerful? Which fact is foremost in your mind?

Personally, I know God’s got it, but often my mind meditates more upon the specific problem I am facing. I will pray, “God, help me as I encounter this current challenge.” Then my mind meanders to the details of the sticky situation. I end up trying to tell God how to resolve this negative issue. I’ve got the problem in my hands rather than placing the problem in God’s hands!

My Reader, does this scenario sound familiar to you? Most of us will have to admit we can identify with this train of thought.

If you know how to worry, you know how to meditate…” These words were part of a post by Pure Glory 8/7/19 entitled Meditation from Your Heart.  Since most of us have the tendency to worry, we should redirect our focus. May we say with David in Psalm 19:14, “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.Don’t worry – God’s got it.

When facing a conflict, our human tendency is to focus upon our problem rather than upon God’s nature. What happens in the natural realm can overpower what we believe spiritually. We must choose carefully what we allow to dominate our thinking. We do well when we remember such promises as Lamentations 3:22-23, “The LORD’S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease,  For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.

We would be wise to replace our worries with worship. Then we will remember God’s got it.

David spent more time worshiping than worrying. He encountered many difficult times while fleeing from King Saul. Yet, he focused upon God and His faithfulness. Let’s look at Psalm 31. I encourage you to read the entire Psalm but I will highlight a few verses. David begins by crying out to the Lord.  Verses 1-2, “In You, O LORD, I take refuge; let me never be put to shame; save me by Your righteousness. Incline Your ear to me; come quickly to my rescue. Be my rock of refuge, the stronghold of my deliverance.In verse 7 he continues to praise the Lord while admitting he is in trouble. “I will be glad and rejoice in Your loving devotion, for You have seen my affliction; You have known the anguish of my soul.In verse 10 David admits, “my life is consumed with grief and my years with groaning; my iniquity has drained my strength, and my bones are wasting away.However, by verses 14-15 he declares, “But I trust in You, O LORD; I say, ‘You are my God.’ My times are in Your hands; deliver me from my enemies and from those who pursue me.David concludes with verses 22-24, In my alarm I said, ‘I am cut off from Your sight!’ But You heard my plea for mercy when I called to You for help. Love the LORD, all His saints. The LORD preserves the faithful, but fully repays the arrogant. Be strong and courageous, all you who hope in the LORD.We find both worry and worship in David’s words. However, worship overpowers worry.

James and Paul wrote New Testament letters. Both encountered adversities. However, they were able to find positive results from negative circumstances. They were speaking from experience when they wrote the following verses.

James 1:2-4 tells us, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:12 goes on to say, “Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.

Paul writes in Romans 5:3-5, “we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

In Qualities of a Spiritual Warrior, Graham Cooke says that with every new situation there is a fresh provision. However, while taking on new responsibilities, we tend to not raise our faith to the new available level. Spiritual worship helps to overcome natural worries.

Cooke writes, “God knows our journey better than we do, and He has strategically placed a provision next to every problem, obstacle and opposition.” God’s got it! He also stresses that our confidence must be in God’s nature, not just His power.

I like Cooke’s phrases that we are to be “patiently confident and confidently patient.” May we remember Philippians 1:6, “being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

We will have problems. God has solutions. Our responsibility is to “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.according to Proverbs 3:5-6. God’s got it!