They Shall Become One Flesh

Genesis 2:23-25 – Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” 24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.

2014-02-14 - They Shall Become One Flesh (IMG_7972)On our 10th anniversary trip at Virginia Falls, Glacier National Park, Montana.

Before the fall in the Garden of Eden becoming “one flesh” would have been an easy prospect.  The fall has affected all of all our relationships.  For marriages to work in the world after the fall, for us to truly “become one flesh” with our spouse now takes time, effort, and a commitment to each other, but most importantly it takes a commitment to keep Christ as the central focus in our lives.

Shared interests and friendship are also keys to keeping the love for one another alive and growing.  For my wife, Leah, and me that shared interest is hiking.  Our honeymoon, 5th anniversary, and 10th anniversary were all celebrated with hiking as the central theme, with many, wonderful, shared adventures in between, and God willing, many more to come.  Hiking and the outdoors may not be your “thing,” but do yourselves a favor and take the time to find something that you enjoy doing together as a couple.  It is sure to bring you closer with each passing year.

To the best wife and hiking partner a man could ever hope to have!

Happy Valentine’s Day Leah!

With Love,
Todd

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© Todd D. Nystrom and Todd the Hiker, 2014.

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From the Rising of the Sun to Its Setting

Psalm 50:1 – The Mighty One, God the LORD, speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to its setting.

2014-01-29 - From the Rising of the Sun to Its Setting (IMG_0064)The sun sets over Caesar Creek Lake on a cold January evening.  Furnas Shores, Caesar Creek State Park, Waynesville, Ohio.

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© Todd D. Nystrom and Todd the Hiker, 2014.

Creation Waits With Eager Longing

Romans 8:18-25 – For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

2014-01-28 - Creation Waits With Eager Longing (IMG_1725_B10_C20)Frozen waterfall on Flat Fork CreekCaesar Creek State Park, Waynesville, Ohio.

For Christians living in North America today, we should be humbled when we compare our own circumstances to all of “the sufferings” that Paul endured for the sake of the gospel.  I won’t deny that we live in a culture increasingly hostile to much of what we believe; but, unless we serve in certain foreign missions or a few difficult ministry fields, I think it is safe to say that few of us will ever face imprisonment, torture, or death for sharing our faith.

Though our present circumstances are far better than Paul’s, we do still live in a fallen world as he reminds us, “the creation was subjected to futility,” it is in “bondage to corruption,” and “the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.”  This is because of the curse, brought on by the fall, described in Genesis 3:16-19.

16 To the woman he [God] said, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” 17 And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; 18 thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. 19 By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

Not only were troubled relationships, pain, and death brought on by Adam and Eve’s disobedience in the garden, all of creation suffered as a result, ”cursed is the ground because of you.”  Fortunately this is not the end of the story.  By God’s divine providence the solution was already planned, as we read one verse earlier in Genesis 3:15, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”  This verse speaks of the Messiah who would later come to conquer death and the grave.

Of course Paul knows that Jesus Christ was that promised Messiah and this is to whom he refers when he says, “For in this hope we were saved.”  He also tells us “that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” when all of creation is redeemed and the “sons of God” are revealed at the second coming of Christ.  And although he has not seen this glory, he reminds us that “hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”  In a similar manner, we cannot see the blossoms of spring, and yet we have hope, waiting patiently for their arrival to announce the end of the ice and cold of winter…

2014-01-28 - Creation Waits With Eager Longing (IMG_7192)Springtime view of the waterfall on Flat Fork Creek with the redbuds in bloom.  Caesar Creek State Park, Waynesville, Ohio.

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© Todd D. Nystrom and Todd the Hiker, 2014.

Who Has Weighed the Mountains?

Isaiah 40:10-15 – Behold, the Lord GOD comes with might, and his arm rules for him; behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense before him. 11 He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young. 12 Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand and marked off the heavens with a span, enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure and weighed the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance? 13 Who has measured the Spirit of the LORD, or what man shows him his counsel? 14 Whom did he consult, and who made him understand? Who taught him the path of justice, and taught him knowledge, and showed him the way of understanding? 15 Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket, and are accounted as the dust on the scales; behold, he takes up the coastlands like fine dust.

2014-01-23 - Who Has Weighed the Mountains (IMG_1522)The setting sun highlights the granite peaks as evening settles over the Yosemite ValleyYosemite National Park, California.

When Isaiah asks, “Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand and marked off the heavens with a span, enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure and weighed the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance?” he obviously anticipates only a single answer, it is of course the “Lord GOD [who] comes with might.”  This is really a series of rhetorical questions that are being posed here, and the implied answers clearly are intended to demonstrate the power, wisdom, and might of our God and Creator.  His conclusion that “the nations are like a drop from a bucket, and are accounted as the dust on the scales” is the exclamation point on this illustration of the insignificance of man in comparison to the magnificence of God.

And yet, if we back up to verse 11, we see that the same mighty God who created and rules over the heavens and the earth, is also a tender and loving God, for “He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.”  And in John 10:14-15 we read Jesus’ own words describing himself, “I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.”

What an amazing God we have!  He has weighed majestic, granite mountains towering over 3000 feet above the valley below, and stretched out infinite stars in the heavens above, and measured the roaring seas across all the earth, and yet the God of all creation has, in great compassion, sent his Son, “the good shepherd,” to suffer and lay down his life for the sins of the world, so that we could be forgiven and reconciled to him.  Praise God our Creator, Sustainer, Redeemer, and Lord!  Amen!

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© Todd D. Nystrom and Todd the Hiker, 2014.