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Take It In

The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth."- John 1:14

Vacation is a word frequently associated with summer time. One of our regular vacation spots has been to visit Joanie's side of the family who live just outside of Chicago. Over the last twenty years we have made this trip around ten times and have always enjoyed watching the cousins play, the many activities (such as swimming, miniature golf, sporting events), the scrumptious Chicago-style eateries, and trips to the Windy City. Last month we again found ourselves in the mid-west engaging in many of the things that makes it a special vacation. But there was something about this trip that put it "over the top", made it far from routine, and has it going down as our favorite visit yet.

Our vacation included a trip to the Wisconsin Dells. Ever heard of this place? Neither had I until this year, but it quickly became a family favorite. The Wisconsin Dells is something of a tourist hotspot of the mid-west. In the same way the Las Vegas strip lines up with hotels and casinos, the Dells boasts a three to five mile stretch of road that features amusement parks, hotels with indoor water parks, amazing restaurants, lake and river boat tours, magic and stunt shows, and an eclectic downtown area with novelty shops. As we were there for those few days, I found myself trying to TAKE IT ALL IN at two completely different and extreme dimensions. First, I wanted to SLOW DOWN to behold the beauty of the area. We were in the midst of breathtaking Delton Lake and Wisconsin River. The landscape was marked by a brilliant shade of green, massive rock formations on each side of the river were uniquely and magnificently crafted by the Creator, and the wildlife included deers in people's backyards and bald eagles flying overhead. And because this was a new place, I found myself wanting to DO AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE in our short amount of time there. We visited multiple amusement parks, we tried a different restaurant each day, and we took a ton of pictures on the riverwalk and downtown.

As I think about this most amazing Zwerling adventure, I am wondering about the ways we are to take in this most amazing faith in our most awesome God? Let me suggest that like our trip to the Dells, that when it comes to our faith journey with Father God, we too can take it all in at every dimension. First, we can be surrounded and captivated by His glorious presence. To TAKE IN His presence requires us to slow down to see, to listen, and to enjoy His perfection. We are often moving way to fast (and furious) in life with so many demands, meetings, and scheduled activities that we are too distracted and burdened to take notice of how good God is and how near He is to us. One of the practices I have incorporated is to not leave my bed upon walking up each morning without first taking a few moments to simply rest in His presence, think about His love, seek His help for my day, and recount many life-giving promises in the Bible. Here are some Scriptures that remind us of the importance of stopping to take it all in:

Psalm 27:4- "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 26:8- "Lord, I love the house where You live, the place where Your glory dwells."

Psalm 16:11- "You make known to me the path of life; You will fill me with joy in Your presence, with eternal pleasures at Your right hand."

Psalm 34:5- "Those who look to God are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame."

Isaiah 4:2- "In that day the Branch of the Lord will be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land will be the pride and glory of the survivors in Israel."

Another aspect of taking in everything of the Lord moves us into a focused activity marked by purpose and fruitfulness. As God's people we want to fill our daily schedules and activities with things that touch hearts, care for needs, and bring kingdom results where we walk and live. We want our relationships to matter; we want our labor to be excellent; we want the work of our hands and the words of our mouth to amount to much more than personal gain. When we follow after God we can fulfill so much. We can be a blessing to many, we can be a change agent in our neighborhoods, we can be a servant to our families, we can be an answer to a need in the church. Here are some Scriptures that speak to the ACTIVITY that accompanies a person who ABIDES in Christ:

John 15:5- "I am the Vine; you are the branches. If you remain in Me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing."

John 15:8- "This is to My Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be My disciples."

Colossians 3:17- "Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him."

Ephesians 2:10- "For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."

Titus 2:14- "Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for Himself a people that are His very own, eager to do what is good."

May this be a new day, a new season, where you find yourself in a new place, one that moves beyond the routine and into the realm of what is most beautiful, most important, and most life-giving!

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