The Wall

 

No not the border wall… a different wall. I expected worse this morning after a night of snow and the sound of the wind thundering across the high plains of the southern Rockies. Nevertheless, the alarm was set for 05:30 and it was going to stay that way. The coffee pot was ready to brew, the camera ready to go and the hike set.

Sangre de Cristo Alpenglow

Sangre de Cristo Alpenglow

Sipping my morning coffee and getting the weather stats I discovered that the wind was still strong enough to bring the windchill down to -1 and it looked like all I was going to be able to see was fog. However a few minutes later when it began to lighten a bit I noticed that I could just barely make out the snow capped peaks of the Sangre de Cristo. Big Dog was ready to go so I bundled up and headed out the door.  As we headed down the trail I noticed that the alpenglow sunrise was already taking effect in the sky and I was dismayed to realize that I hadn’t accounted for the sun rising about 15 minutes earlier than the last time I tried this! So we had to run a couple of miles to make up for the miscalculation and still nearly missed the show. On the way I snapped a couple of sub par compositions just in case I managed to miss the entire thing from the top of the ridge 😦

Deer on the Mountain

Pair of mule deer on the mountain

Fortunately we arrived on the mountainside in time to witness a pretty cool sunrise. The Sangre were a beautiful red wine color, the color that Spanish explorer Antonio Valverde y Cosio must have seen when he named this range the “Blood of Christ” mountains. After making sure I captured the scene to the west I noticed that the rising sun in the east and pink glow on the morning clouds made a beautiful backdrop for some aspen trees and a rustic country fence. I was really cold and wanting to get back home, but we had to stop and explore that subject for a while. After we froze our butts long enough the show was over and we turned around to head home. As we strode through the frozen landscape I noticed a couple of spots on the mountainside across the valley that looked new. Upon closer inspection I determined that they were actually a small herd of deer and although I could not get very close they did turn the usually boring mountainside into a worthy composition 🙂

As we made the return trip I was still reveling in the magnificence of the Sangre de Cristo sunrise. The Sangre de Cristo range is called a fault block mountain range, a rugged wall of mountains rising directly up from the plains much like the Tetons in Wyoming and the Sierra Nevada in California. As a result of their formation by rising  or falling cracks in the earth’s crust there are no foothills, just an imposing massive impenetrable wall of mountains.

When standing in the presence of such beauty it is impossible for a spiritual minded person to neglect the Creator of such majesty. While considering the towering wall formed by the “Blood of Christ” mountains I began to ponder another wall created by the Blood of Christ, the wall between the carnal and the spiritual.

Lately many in the media and social media feel themselves to be eminently qualified to comment on and gleefully insult concepts they know nothing about. “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” That they know nothing about what they are saying is not their fault. They cannot comprehend the other side of the “wall” because they have never seen the other side and knowledge of it has been closed to them. Fortunately there has been provided one and only one door for mankind to pass through and obtain access to the other side of that wall.

 “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” The Sangre de Cristo is the narrow gate that few will discover. Only those who have accepted that truth will experience the other side of the great divide separating the spiritual from the carnal. Until then those who have not passed through remain unqualified to comment on Christianity, the scriptures and the faith of the believers that they so despise. In fact they are not even qualified to read the scriptures… they can try but they will read in vain, without understanding. My hope is that the blind leaders of the blind will honestly seek answers to the questions they so glibly and hatefully attempt to answer, and open the door to the Savior who stands ready to open the narrow gate to all who truly want to enter,Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.”

 

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Beautiful Morning

It was a beautiful cool morning today, a welcome relief to the scorching heat we have been experiencing here in Colorado this June. Lol.. I know we sound like real wimps when we get to complaining when the temps rise above 80 when the rest of the country is sweltering in 100 plus misery, but in our defense we are not used to it! There is no air up here to filter the effects of the direct sun so 50’s and maybe 60 are about all we can stand up here at 9,000 feet!

Fog on the PeakWell anyway I was up early and took the doggies on our usual stroll up the north side of Ute Pass which is when I noticed the beautiful fog bank rolling in from the east side over the north face of the massive 14,115 foot monolith to the south we call America’s Mountain. Thinking today might be a good day for wildflowers up there I loaded up the puppies and we headed for Bald Mountain, the highest point on the north side of the valley with an awesome view of the peak.

Unfortunately this appears to be a bad year for wildflowers. The mountain bluebell and columbine are all wilted with only the yellow daisy looking ones are in good bloom, whatever they are… Don’t have the patience anymore to try to figure out what they are for sure. The mountain was putting on a good show though, well worth the drive to the summit of the treeless vantage point.

Listening to a song on the radio about a guy who was thinking about ending it all because he was facing starting over with just his children and his wife. But according to the song he received his miracle of hope from a song on the radio and carried on. Same with the famous Lee Greenwood song, “starting over with my children and my wife”. Well thanks to cancer and life’s wicked twists and turns, songs like this make me wonder about people who’s greatest fear is considerably less than what many of us face, starting again not with our children and our wife but with nothing but the faith that there is a God who still cares about us even when there is scant evidence to indicate so. But for those in similar situations who are wondering, the Word says it is the righteous who “suffer many afflictions”, not the wicked. Some solace can be obtained in knowing that the enemy considers us worthy of so much attention.

Also in the area of random spiritual thoughts, recent headlines affirm another scripture… “Whosoever diggeth a pit shall fall therein: and he that rolleth a stone, it will return upon him.”, Proverbs 26:27 also akin to “People in glass houses should not throw stones.”. Thinking of news headlines indicating new congressional interest in the infamous Bill Clinton / Loretta Lynch attempted clandestine collusion meeting on the tarmac and the Hillary Clinton illegal potty based email server not to mention new evidence that BHO knew about Russian hacking attempts long before the election, while he was still basking in the legend in his own mind glory… Just my opinion but it seems pretty stupid for the guilty to be screaming for investigations…

Dang… I was going to devote this blog to photography only. Oh well, I guess in life no one thing is totally disconnected from another. Well just in case some photographers do read this blog post, I did put some technical thought into this series of the peak. It did seem like f11 would be a good lens opening for this morning so I switched from program mode to Av and set the aperture to f11… Which reminds me, I need to set it back to P so that I will be ready on a moments notice for my next shot whether it be an action shot or a surprise amazing landscape.

 

Steve Krull is a prolific sports and nature photographer selling prints and stock images online as S.W. Krull Imaging at various sites and agencies. Click this link to view all the products and services offered by Steve Krull and S. W. Krull Imaging. Additional services include, wedding photography, portraiture and model portfolios, and event photography. Additional products include fine art stock imagery, prints and gift items

Lost Sheep

I’ve been pondering a new theory as of late, and after last night it has jelled in my mind and I think it is high time to put it down on the old electronic paper. I call this one the Lost Sheep theory, which could also probably be called the separated sheep theory but lost sounds better.

Ephesians 6:12For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”

Whether we like it or not, there is a war raging in another dimension, the spiritual dimension. The war is real and it is vicious and sometimes that war spills over into the physical as well. Here in the physical world there are three kinds of people, wolves, sheep and shepherds, the wolves know who they are. I think there are very few shepherds though, and we don’t always even know who we are. Which is why I’m writing this letter to the shepherds and the sheep both. To the shepherds so they will understand their role, and to the sheep so they will know to stay inside the protective circle of their shepherds.

I can’t count the number of times I have gone to work or gone shopping or hiking or on a photo trip that I have received a phone call, “You gotta get back here right away!“, plug in latest crisis… I also can’t count the number of times I have heard, “Every time you leave, all hell breaks loose!”, which is what got me to pondering this whole theory.

In the natural world predators like to look for a weak member of the herd, perhaps even one that has become separated from the rest. They seek an easy prey that they can quickly kill and drag away before the main herd or the shepherd notices. So it is in the spiritual world as well. There is a real enemy in the spiritual realm who is always looking for someone to destroy.

1 Peter: 8 “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. “

In many cases the sheep are your children, perhaps one might like to play alone or a teen might align with the wrong friends. In this case it also might be the father who is assigned the role of shepherd and if he isn’t vigilant his sheep will become the target for destruction by the enemy. Maybe it will be work, or television, or the internet that distracts the shepherd and allows his sheep to become separated.

In some cases though, certain people have been assigned the role of shepherd, these are pastors, youth leaders and sometimes even coaches and teachers, etc. Occasionally some shepherds are just regular people mingling with friends, neighbors, and co-workers. And these must constantly be watching to see if there is a soul who is being isolated and targeted.

The hard part in those cases is for the shepherds to figure out who they are… that’s how I got started on this idea… the “all hell breaks loose” part of it. I noticed that for certain people in my sphere of influence, if they stay in my sphere there is peace. If they become separated trouble starts. When I come back, the predators slink back into their corners of darkness to wait for a more opportune moment.

I/m sure this has nothing to do with the physical prowess of the shepherd person, but more to do with spiritual prowess and availability. Now of course to walk in that kind of power the shepherds have to be believers who are paying attention and who are not afraid to get in the fight and get a little bloody sometimes. Some may be shepherds, but if they refuse to leave their football games on television, or their video games and chat rooms on the computer or happy hour or whatever, their sheep will be left defenseless.

There have been no greater tests of my theory than what I have seen in the last few days… First came the physical attacks from a loved one on one of my co-workers, then a car wreck and the shock from that. Then last night at work, an almost indescribable nightmare… as certain wolves at work took advantage of a very rough night to close in and try destroy her completely. I saw what was going on and took steps to make sure my sheep wasn’t seen as separated, and the battle went on all night. In the end it appears the forces of good were victorious and she won the admiration of the entire team, save the jealous predators who found themselves on the wrong side of the battle line. In the spiritual realm, the enemy could see that this sheep had a shepherd watching, this sheep was no longer separated and easy prey, that there was a shepherd who was not giving up a sheep without a fight.

Fortunately for all of us, the forces of good are more powerful than the forces of darkness. But the forces of good need to be vigilant and courageous. We can’t become distracted with our own endeavors or allow fear to stop us from speaking up, or to keep us from doing our God given jobs of providing mercy and comfort to the broken hearted. As a side note, keep in mind that the predators are not easily identifiable, they can be important people in the workplace, church and neighborhoods. They can come in the form of religious people as well, self righteous and self seeking individuals who profess the words of the bible, but do not do them.

To the shepherds I say, remain vigilant. The war never ends, the enemy never rests. I just got done with a major spiritual battle earlier in the summer and I prayed… “Lord, let this be the last one, let me rest now.’. But the prayer was sin and I know God didn’t listen to it. So last night I changed my prayer to “Lord don’t ever leave me out of the fight. May You never find me away my battle station when the war in the heavens spills over into my world.”.

God Wouldn’t

Every once in a while when I’m out hiking on the mountain the answer to some perplexing question will come to me and I feel compelled to write it down. Here’s something I’ve come across lately… the God Wouldn’t people. Was trying to put a finger on something I’ve been encountering lately. I was called upon to help someone through a tough time and some people I know aren’t too happy about it. God wouldn’t put you at risk they say. God wouldn’t ask you to do something that might cost you.

This doctrine is of course based on the idea of “God wouldn’t allow more than you can bear.”, a patently false statement that is found nowhere in the Bible. There is a verse that is similar, the one that this idea comes from. It is 1 Corinthians 10:13:

There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”

So the verse pertains to sin and has nothing to do with what sort of challenges or suffering God will allow in our lives. Therefore I believe there are two kinds of people, the God Wouldn’t People and the God Would People. The God Wouldn’t people have a form of belief that looks good. They go to church on Sunday, proclaim their faith, sing hymns and generally put on a pretty good show.

But the God Would people understand that God would ask us to risk our possessions, our money, and for some even their lives. And the truth of it is, the higher up you are on the faith chain, the more likely it is that you will be thrown into the hard fights.

Psalm 34:19 : “Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the Lord delivereth him out of them all”  

After all, would the commander of an army platoon send his weakest guy in to accomplish some life or death task that the whole platoon was depending on? Of course not. But the God Would people also understand true faith… the God who asks us to do the hard things will bring us through the hard things. If we have lost much in the battle He is well able to cover the loss. He might not, but He is able if it is His will.

Someday God might be up in Heaven looking down thinking about some battle he needs fought, some person who needs help or rescuing, thinking I wonder who I have who I can count on… who won’t run from the hard things, who is strong enough to win this fight? One of the God Wouldn’t People might get tapped to go, but they will say to themselves, “This is too hard, God wouldn’t ask me to do this.”. And then finally, one of the God Would people will have to step up to fight the battle. Somebody has to do the hard things.

 

Steve Krull is a prolific sports and nature photographer selling prints and stock images online as S.W. Krull Imaging at various sites and agencies. Click this link to view all the products and services offered by Steve Krull and S. W. Krull Imaging. Additional services include, wedding photography, portraiture and model portfolios, and event photography.

Thirty Days

Thirty days has passed since Tricia went home to Jesus and the knife edge of the pain has dulled a bit. Four weeks has been enough to organize my new place and develop some semblance of a new routine. My cats too seem to have settled in, found their favorite window perches and have started to play again. Buddy took it hardest as he was her lap cat and the one who took it upon himself to try to make her feel better. But he too seems to have found a new normal and finds comfort in helping me watch TV in the evenings. There is still much to do though, now that I have all my belongings moved I see that there is still way too much and way more than I need. They say the fire danger is high already, I think I will look at it as if there were already a fire in the vicinity threatening this location. I want to be ready to just hook up and go.

The main thing I have noticed though is that with the passing of just thirty days I am able to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Towards the end of Tricia’s life there was total focus on her condition. There was so much going on all the time and the need so great that there just wasn’t time for anything else. Now I notice that I have time to rise above it all, to look at what came before and to think about what will come next. Life is still one day at a time, but I don’t need so much attention on the now that I can’t think ahead and behind.

I can also feel strength returning to my legs. Being able to just walk out the door and onto the trail each morning has been a good thing. I think today I will tackle the upper loop. Next week I should be ready to climb to the top of the ridge and maybe all the way to Bald Mountain. Last year about this time I had purchased a book on the Lost Creek Wilderness and was looking forward to doing some exploring. Last year it wasn’t meant to be, but I have found the book and maybe this will be the year.

The Last Shall Be First

Smokey, our new feline addition has been with us about a month now, just happy to have some food and to be in out of the cold. He has made himself at home, finding a place he likes to sleep and always at the front of the line when it comes to feeding time. Sometimes there is nothing like our furry little friends to lend understanding to some spiritual truth and Smokey has stepped up to give me some heart warming insight. The Bible says, “The last shall be first and the first shall be last.”. Smokey has only been with us a short time while his little friends here have been with us over ten years. Yet he thinks nothing of marching right to the front of the line at feeding time and making the same demands of attention from his master that his older friends enjoy. And his confidence is just fine with his master who has no problem with treating him the same as his buddies 🙂 In other words, the spiritual truth here is that there is no difference in God’s eyes between spiritual veterans and new arrivals.

TiggerTime is flying and we are grinding through this Rocky Mountain winter. January is almost over, the days are getting longer and the north face of the big peak is beginning to see some light. Soon it will be time to train my camera lens back on the temperamental old rock for some new new views of her many moods. For now though my writing continues to be of winter. The Pikes Peak Road Runners Winter Series is half over, but the competition is just beginning as foul weather spoiled the running of the first races in the series. Snow is continuing to fall regularly and is still my favorite photographic subject for this time of year. As I look out this morning there is a fresh blanket of white and it looks like I will be doing some shoveling if I want to get anywhere today. On the other hand, it looks cold and gray and like a good day to just stay home and watch movies while my closest friend in this world recovers from another painful and unfortunate bout of pneumonia. As we roll into February I am looking forward to more hours of light, slightly warmer temperatures and more winter activities to photograph and write of. Be sure to subscribe to my news feed on the Examiner so you don’t miss out on any of this Rocky Mountain winter!

Christmas 2014

Christmas Day, finally the frenzy of commercialism is behind us. The stores are all closed and most of the people are gone, gone to where ever they all go for the holidays. Christmas Day is one of my favorite days of the year for the solitude in the mountains and woods. God seems far away from me this year as we celebrate His arrival as a human on this earth but as I walk the woods in His magnificent creation perhaps I can bring myself closer, only if it is just a little bit.

Trio of mule deer

Trio of mule deer

I can tell that even the creatures that inhabit the woods are appreciative of this day. There is little traffic and there is a silence that isn’t experienced often anywhere in Colorado. I always enjoy taking pictures of the deer on Christmas Day. With all the people gone there are no dogs running loose to wreak havoc on the peace of the day or screaming kids to pierce the silence. The animals all seem calmer and less likely to bolt and they seem to be aware of the special peace that only Christmas Day can bring. The deer look at me almost as if they are curious about why I am the only one out on this day. It is almost like they know I am one of them, that I belong.

Later today it will be even better when the snow begins to fall. It doesn’t get any better than a snowstorm on Christmas. The particular herd of deer that I like to photograph lets me come closer in the deep snow. One time I rounded a thick stand of scrub oak in heavy snow and found myself in the midst of the herd. They looked a little surprised but had a look of “oh, it’s just you”, and went on about their business of eating leaves and searching for the forest grass beneath the deep snow. I’m sure I could have reached out and touched them if I had wanted to but I didn’t want to disturb them so I just snapped a couple of shots and kept on going.

Only the sound of my snowshoes in the deep snow… shoosh, shoosh, shoosh. Alone in the snow walking with Him. To me this is how to celebrate Christmas, the true meaning of the day experienced alone in silence, surrounded by His Creation.