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Where is Your Worship?

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You shall worship no other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God. (Exodus 34:14)

I can't help but think about all the idols and gods we serve each day. What are you talking about, Bryan? I'm referring to all those things that take priority in our daily lives over our relationship with God.

Consider all the time you spend watching TV, surfing the internet, playing with cellphone apps, exercising, trying to get ahead in life, and working overtime to make even more money. Think of the "investments" you've made in the stock market, houses, cars, cameras, big boy toys, etc.

Next, consider the amount of time and energy spent in prayer, worship, Bible study, serving others, and quiet time with God. We learn in God's word that He is jealous for our time and attention. He desires an intimate relationship with you and me.

You can call Him Lord, but it doesn't mean a thing if your walk doesn't match your talk. Yes, I'm convicted too. As we …

When There Seems to Be No Way

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I like shooting bridges. I guess there's just something about crossing over from one side to another that reminds me of the challenges we encounter daily and the many ways God graciously provides to get over them.

So we have a choice when we experience difficulties. We can dwell on the PROBLEM or we can dwell on the PROVIDER.

In the book written the the Christians living in Philippi, Paul wrote "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God." (Philippians 4:6)

Look at those encouraging words more closely:
* Do not be anxious about ANYTHING.
* Pray and give thanks in EVERYTHING.

That's the key. Pray more. Worry less. Don Moen wrote a song years ago that has ministered to countless lives, written during a very difficult time in his family:

God will make a way
Where there seems to be no way
He works in ways we cannot see
He will make a way for me
He will be my guide
Hold me closely to His side

Deceptive Beauty

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My eyes and attention were drawn to the colorful display before me, but as appealing as it looked I knew better than to touch it... for this pretty plant is poison!

The world offers a great deal of temptation that is very appealing on the outside, but will poison your life with disappointment, pain and brokenness. It might not impact you immediately, but eventually you will suffer the results.

Satan is the father of lies and wants you to believe left is right, down is up, and wrong is right. Jesus' way is truth and life.

People say, "Three leaves, let it be." Those are good words to follow. God has a whole book of wisdom waiting for you to learn from so that you are not poisoned...it's called the Bible. Read it and take heed.

Charred Chimneys

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Unfortunately, the Chimney Tops resemble their namesake. The devastating fires that engulfed that area have left a very noticeable scar. However, the surrounding forests now abound with life and color. I would not have believed this sight today after witnessing the effects following this tragic event just a couple of years ago.

When you think about it, there are instances in our lives where we've come through the fire (metaphorically) and we still have the scars to prove it, but God is restoring and renewing you in ways you could not have imaged. Whether the pain is physical, emotional, psychological, or spiritual, of one thing I am completely certain, God will NEVER leave you nor forsake you. He is with you and He loves you. The pain is real and the scars may remain, but afterwards I pray they will be a reminder of His faithfulness as He walked through the fire by your side.

Deuteronomy 31:8
"It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; He will not leave you or fors…

Paths

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As you begin to ponder the depth of this scene, you soon realize how easily one could get lost in the vastness of the trees and rolling mountains if you got off a designated path or trail.

My advice and caution to you is to stay on the designated path as you venture into unfamiliar territory. Follow the Lord as He walks before you and do not get sidetracked by distractions that lead you into the deep woods where you can easily lose your way.

Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. (Proverbs 4:26)

Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love. (Ephesians 5:1-2a)

Covering Scars

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A highlight of our fall trip to the Smokies each year is photographing from the Campbell Overlook as the color abounds from the parking area all the way up Mt. LeConte. However, since last year's fire the mountain is not the same -- huge scars appear on the ridge lines where no vegetation has yet appeared due to the extreme nature of the burn.

That is not what we saw on this day though. God made a covering for those scars and only allowed us the privilege of seeing the beauty that He prepared for our eyes. The areas which have caused sorrow and sadness were enveloped in a cloud.

Healing is that way too. When after a time of processing whatever trauma or pain has come into your life, the beauty and wonder of God's presence becomes more apparent as the "burn" ceases to be the center of your life and you begin to see His grace all around.

God's words to Paul also ring true for us, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corin…

The Spring House

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A source of fresh, clean water was vital to the life of early settlers in the Blue Ridge Mountains. In the 18th and 19th centuries they were a part of the rural landscape. They were a good way to keep the water pure and provided natural refrigeration. On the hottest day in the summer spring water remained at a temperature of about 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Ledges were built into the spring house along with places to hang meat, vegetables, and fruit for cold storage.

As Jesus spoke to a Samaritan woman at Jacob's well, He told her, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life." (John 4:13-14)

When you receive Jesus into your life, you drink in living water that completely satisfies your thirst for spiritual fulfillment. As a result, YOU become a spring house of that living water for sharing with others who are desp…