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Showing posts from 2018

To Stand in Awe

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After visiting the Grand Canyon,  you try to find words to describe what you saw, but they just fall short. It's a sight too grand for words. You just stand there speechless... just breathing... taking in as much as possible... in awe.

That's the way we ought to approach the Creator who is far greater than His creation -- God Almighty. In fear, reverence, awe... speechless, breathless.

This scene brings to mind the song "I Stand in Awe of You."

You are beautiful beyond description
Too marvelous for words
Too wonderful for comprehension
Like nothing ever seen or heard
Who can grasp your infinite wisdom
Who can fathom the depth of your love
You are beautiful beyond description
Majesty enthroned above

And I stand, I stand in awe of you
I stand, I stand in awe of you
Holy God to whom all praise is due
I stand in awe of you


Sometimes the Road is Chosen for You

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Sometimes you choose the road you're on.
Sometimes the road is chosen for you.

When we traveled the 469 miles end-to-end on the Blue Ridge Parkway it was intentional and we enjoyed the trip of our own planning. However, more times than not the road we're traveling on was chosen FOR us and not BY us. How do I know that? Because the potholes, dips, fender-benders and blind curves that we face on that journey come unexpectedly and are generally not welcomed.

Since I cannot always plan my life's journey, how do I cope with the detours, lane changes and roadwork that I face? Solomon gave wise instruction:

In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths. (Proverbs 3:6 ESV)

I like the Contemporary English Version too.

Always let Him lead you, and He will clear the road for you to follow. (Proverbs 3:6 CEV)

The key is to trust the One who is taking you down the road to bring you successfully to your appointed destination.

Light Makes the Difference

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My jaw literally dropped when I came around the bend at Overlook #2 on Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail and saw the mountains, trees and skies illuminated with the most incredible light I've ever seen for taking a photo here.

The clouds filtered what could have been a very harsh sunlight. This is the type of balance that makes you histogram happy (photographers will understand what I mean). I really could have remained there for a long time but it was very crowded with others wishing to take in the fantastic view.

Light really does make a difference, and THE Light makes all the difference in the world!

[Jesus said], “I am the light for the world! Follow me, and you won’t be walking in the dark. You will have the light that gives life.” (John 8:12)

Jesus is the light of the world and He illuminates the path to eternal life. All you have to do is follow Him and you will no longer walk in darkness, ignorance, and deception. Instead you will follow His path of love, peace, hope, grace and …

Memories of 1.3 Seconds in Time

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I don't know about you but it seems as if time is passing by too swiftly. I love photography because it allows me to stop time and savor those special moments for years to come. This is just a mountain stream in the Smokies but what I saw on this morning will never be repeated ever again in the exact same way.

God gives us these fleeting moments to enjoy. They are more precious than worldly riches, and they are not to be taken for granted.

In a letter Paul wrote to Timothy, he encouraged those with wealth to not consider themselves better than others nor to put their future hopes on their possessions as well (1 Timothy 6:17). God gives us EVERYTHING we have, including the Smokies, to enjoy.

Since God gives generously to us we ought to also be generous with others. So, I present you with a generous gift of beauty that I experienced on November 3, 2017 at 9:59 AM. I hope you will take longer than 1.3 seconds today to soak it in!

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

A Christmas Sacrifice

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Georgia National Cemetery (12/15/2018)
Wreaths Across America
Canton, GA

I was asked on Facebook why Ronald J Baylis did not have a wreath on his stone. As you can see by the Star of David, he was of the Jewish faith and unless specifically requested by the family, Christmas wreaths were not placed at their head stones.

While is breaks by heart that Jewish people today deny the Messiah born into a Jewish household, what made me stop in my tracks was seeing a blank stone in front of all the others. This was the only one I saw like that in the National Cemetery. It too did not have a wreath, although it probably was due to oversight rather than religious objection.

My mind immediately went to a place of honor and respect for all who died serving our country yet either did not come home or whose remains were never identified. My dad was a veteran of the Korean War and he does not talk about it. Most WW II vets were the same. They did not serve for recognition but for their country's freed…

Final Moments

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I remember leaving the Smokies on November 6th to head back to Georgia... it was bitter sweet. I thought the colors would be just plain blah this year but our nation's most popular National Park showed off spectacularly in a short span of time between late October and early November. This photo was taken along Hwy 441 at the Chimney Tops pullouts.

What is it about final moments that stick with us? Well, I guess it's because we know that we can never go back and experience things in just the same way, with the same person, or with the same emotion. Things change, people change, the environment changes. So we hold on to those departing moments.

As Christmas approaches, I can't help but think what it was like for our Heavenly Father and Jesus as their relationship was about to change dramatically. The Son of God was going to become the Son of Man. The Spirit Jesus would take on earthly flesh. The Prince of Peace would be born in an animal stable and laid in a feeding trough as …

Fences in Black & White

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Most of us do not see the world in black and white except for those who are color blind. In fact, most of us see the world in a wide spectrum of colors. Unfortunately, the world we live in also tends to personalize their spirituality by coloring in their own views and opinions. They/we also do not like fences that keep us from doing whatever we please wherever we please.

The truth is that God gave us the Bible that includes fences and very clear distinctions between right and wrong. You may not like it and you may not agree with it but there is One who earned the right to lay down the boundaries because He made the universe in which His rules exist. He is God and we are not.

BUT, these rules, laws, commandments or instructions are not meant to stifle your creativity or keep you from having fun; their purpose is to protect you, keep you healthy, and make life more pleasurable. There were way too many laws written down and expanded upon in the years leading up to Jesus' appearance, so…

Like Water Under the Bridge

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We use this phrase to describe something that happened in the past that we cannot do anything about now. What's happened has happened. Yes, sometimes we live with the repercussions of actions from the past, but we certainly cannot go back and fix them.

Christmas is about water under the bridge too. How, you ask? Well, because of Jesus' birth and subsequent life, death, burial and resurrection we can know forgiveness from God and be made completely right before Him. Everything we did in the past becomes like water under the bridge.

The Bible says "as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us." (Psalm 103:12)

In [Jesus] we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that He lavished on us. (Ephesians 1:7-8a)
We don't have to live with guilt or remorse. We can live in joy and peace because the past is remembered no longer once God has forgiven you in the Lord Jesus Chr…

Mum's the Word

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"Mum's the word" means to keep silent or quiet. Mum is a Middle English word meaning 'silent', and may be derived from the mummer who acts without speaking. Note the similar English word "mime" meaning silent actor or imitator.

There are a lot of people who would prefer that we keep silent this time of the year -- let Santa have all the spotlight and move on to New Year's Day activities -- but not this guy! JESUS IS THE REASON FOR THE SEASON and that's why I celebrate and gladly share the good news of His birthday.

Like the shepherds who visited Mary, Joseph and Jesus in the stable, they could not contain their joy and excitement. They couldn't help but share the marvelous news. And neither can I!

When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. (Luke 2:17-18)

Mum's the word? No way! It's CHRISTmas!

A Scene to be Seen

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This old, dead tree stands on a mountain in the Appalachians beside the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina. What a view it has of the valley below and skies above. I imagine on a clear day that sounds of nature resonate in this area like a megaphone. Unfortunately dead trees do not have eyes to see and ears to hear in order to appreciate such wonders.

What about you? You have eyes but do you truly see? You have ears but do you truly hear? Nature is proclaiming the glory of God. We have great insight into who God is through His Holy Word, the Bible. The Holy Spirit is working around the clock to point you down the road of redemption and salvation. The celebration of Christmas comes annually to remind us of the greatest gift ever given to mankind - Jesus.

Are you seeing? Are you hearing? Or is all this just a scene playing out before you that cannot be seen or hear clearly just like this old dead tree?

Jesus asked His disciples, "Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail t…

Life's Short - Explore More

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Ever since I was I child I had a fascination with the world around me and dreamed of exploring our nation's natural wonders. I've been very fortunate to live out some of those dreams and have plans to keep traveling and exploring in the future, Lord willing.

The western U.S. desert lands have been on my bucket list for a long time and a recent vacation to Arizona and Utah has just given me an even greater desire to go back and explore further. This is a photo taken during a hike in Arches National Park. Folks, this is a world away from Georgia pine trees and red clay. I think my mouth was so dry all the time, not just because of the extreme heat, but because of all the jaw-dropping beauty I was constantly taking in.

I believe God created the world for us to enjoy. God did not make a universe of spinning rocks and a bunch of people with rocks spinning in their heads just to entertain Him. No, He made us to have fellowship/relationship with Him, and every plant, animal and mineral…

Beware of Jellyfish

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The jellyfish -- a lesson in contrast... beautiful to look at but painful to meet. Don't you just love the colors though?! Whatever you do, don't you dare try to pet it! It is not your friend. 😬

Jellyfish are carnivores -- they eat other animals. Smaller jellyfish eat algae and other tiny plankton called zooplankton. Larger jellyfish eat crustaceans and other bigger aquatic animals. They don't seek out people to attack -- their nervous system is too simple to do that. Their sting is both a defense mechanism and a way to capture their prey.

Each jellyfish tentacle is covered with thousands of cells called cnidoblasts, which house nematocysts containing stinging threads. When a jellyfish encounters another object, pressure inside the nematocyst causes the threads to uncoil. The stinging cells spring out at the unwitting victim like tiny darts, firing venom into it. The venom is a neurotoxin designed to paralyze jellyfish prey. Although a jellyfish can kill a small aquatic ani…

Mountains to Missions

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In front of the treeline at the base of the mountains sits an old log cabin. It was built in the early 1820's by the first permanent white settlers to Cades Cove, John and Lucretia Oliver.

The dusty path takes you to the cabin where you can try to imagine living off the land and natural resources available almost 200 years ago. To be honest, most of us are too spoiled with today's conveniences to even come close to envisioning the reality of it.

If you didn't kill it, plant it, or pick it then you didn't eat that day. If you didn't cut it, stack it and seal it then you didn't sleep inside protective walls. The first ones in depended on their wits and strengths. The Olivers were also faithful believers in God. They were instrumental in starting the Cades Cove Baptist Church which later became the Primitive Baptist Church. Yes, even back then there were disagreements and a "split" concerning the funding of missions. Hence, the Missionary Baptist Church wa…

It's All About The Light

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Ask a photographer... it's all about the light. The word "photography" was created from the Greek roots φωτός (phōtos), meaning "light" and γραφή (graphé) or "representation by means of lines or drawing." Together the word is interpreted "drawing with light".

There is no visual perception of shape, form, depth or color without light. Consider this -- there is no source of darkness in the universe... there is only light or the absence of it. Imagine this picture with no light. If you're imagining only a black screen, then you'd be right.

We ought to be thankful to God everyday that the very first thing He created was light. He spoke it into being, saying, "Let there be light,” and there was light." (Genesis 1:3)

Darkness, as a state of mind, only exists in the absence of light, knowledge or understanding. For our minds to be illuminated to truth then it must be exposed to light that reveals all things.

The Bible refers to darkne…

Under Attack

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This milkweed plant in Cades Cove of the Great Smoky Mountains is under attack. Driving by and glancing casually at the plant does not reveal the oleander aphid infestation, but close examination shows a large colony of these dreaded yellow creatures sucking the life out of the host plant. Often the plant is left alive but covered in mold and fungi afterward.

If this was happening in your garden you would certainly take steps to either:
1) prevent them in the first place, or  2) eliminate them from your plants.

You may not be aware because of the distractions of life, but you may very well be under attack as well. Upon close inspection you may find that Satan has launched an attack on you and is slowly sucking the joy right out of your life because you've allowed him to influence a certain area that you haven't given over 100% to the Lord.

1 Peter 5:8 tells us, "Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.&qu…

Nothing Lasts Forever But...

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This wall found in Arches National Park is comprised of colorful sandstone and interesting formations of hoodoos, spires and balancing rocks.

I was reminded that nothing on earth will last forever as I gazed upon the scars and erosion of time carved into this stone. "All we are is dust in the wind" according to the 70's rock band Kansas...and there's some truth in that.

However, there are at least two things that will endure for eternity -- God's righteousness and the salvation He offers to mankind.

"Lift up your eyes to the heavens, look at the earth beneath; the heavens will vanish like smoke, the earth will wear out like a garment and its inhabitants die like flies. But my salvation will last forever, my righteousness will never fail." ~Isaiah 51:6

While God has offered mankind His salvation for thousands of years, your opportunity to receive God's gift of salvation is short-lived. None of us knows the day or hour when we will pass from this earth …

Contemplations at the Rim

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There's a reason they call this place grand. The Grand Canyon truly is a sight to behold. Every overlook provides a view that extends miles wide and a mile deep. Canyons crisscross the landscape where for centuries water has carved through the soft stone revealing layers upon layers of prehistoric sediment.

While at a restaurant there, we struck up a conversation with our server who was in her 20's yet had already traveled the world. She was born in Hawaii, had lived in Europe, and had experienced places I can only dream of seeing. I asked why she was now at the Grand Canyon and she said, "I like to be places that make me feel small."

I was not expecting that response but she certainly came to the right place. If you don't feel very small when standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon, then you most certainly think way too highly of yourself.

Don’t think that you are better than you really are. You must see yourself just as you are. Decide what you are by the faith …

Parasitic Beauty

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This is Dodder (Cuscuta spp). It has many other names like strangleweed, devil's-guts, goldthread, pull-down, devil's-ringlet, hellbine, hairweed, and devil's-hair.

Dodder is a parasite of living plants, gaining not just water and minerals (as in some mistletoe) but actual carbohydrates. Each year it produces seeds that fall to the ground and germinate in the soil. The young dodder is a 2-4 inch long threadlike plant which grows to locate its host, then the tiny root system eventually dies once the plant is firmly attached to the host. The stem sends out suckers which gives the plant its nourishment from the host. Sometimes spaghetti-like masses form that totally obscure the host plant. These stems, lacking chlorophyll, are generally yellowish-to-reddish. In late summer and fall the plant produces numerous tiny, white flowers. These flowers produce the 2-celled fruit capsules which burst open to release 1 to 4 seeds, which is the only way the plant reestablishes itself eac…

Choose Your Next Move Wisely

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Life is like a chess game... in a garden... in Texas... in July... in 100 degree temperatures... with over-sized pieces... on a big open lawn. 😰 😀

Well, I don't know how well you can relate to that analogy, but life certainly involves making many important decisions that have crucial gain/loss and win/lose consequences. Sometimes you feel like you're under the heat. Sometimes your decisions cause you to feel exposed and vulnerable. Sometimes you intentionally make sacrifices for the greater cause. Sometimes the weightiness of decisions requires someone with expertise to come alongside for help.

So, how do you go about making wise decisions? King Solomon wrote...

Choose my instruction instead of silver, knowledge rather than choice gold, for wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her. ~Proverbs 8:10-11 [NIV]

First or all, pray... and certainly NOT as a last resort. Read God's Word for understanding. Seek counsel from friends and family wh…

Mountains and Valleys

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You can't have a high without there being a low, and vice versa. This Rocky Mountain scene clearly depicts how rapidly the landscape can change from one elevation to the other. Likewise, we can find ourselves on the mountaintop of life one day and then descending to the very depths of the valley the next... and in most cases it is completely unpredictable.

Often times we ask ourselves if God is still present in the tough times. We look around in those valleys and wonder where He is and wonder if He cares.

The Apostle Paul asked similarly. "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?" (Romans 8:35)

And he answered his own question with: "No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us." (Romans 8:37)
One thing never changes -- the faithfulness of God. You can trust Him in your highs and you can trust Him in your lows. He is still there regardless of th…

A Precision Team

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Watching the Blue Angels fly in formation is a sight to behold. These pilots are experts at handling these multi-million dollar aircraft. They fly this diamond pattern with tight precision at incredible speeds with only 18 inches separating them. It should go without saying that there is no room for error in practice or during a show. The team MUST listen and follow orders precisely from the "Boss" -- their Commanding Officer.

Just as one mistake can be costly with this group, the lesson is true for people in teams of all types. One slight mistake, inappropriate action or reaction, misunderstanding or rogue act can effect your life and the lives of others for years, and in some cases, decades. If you are a Christian then you MUST follow the orders given by the Lord Jesus Christ, our "Boss." Stepping outside those boundaries has consequences.

Jesus said, "If you love me, keep my commands." (John 14:15)

What is the command that Jesus tells us to follow?

"T…

Heaven's Light

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The northern lights, or Aurora Borealis, offer an entrancing, dramatic, magical display that leaves a person speechless and in awe. It is a natural phenomenon that is created when particles escape from dark, cooler regions on the sun's surface, hurling particles of plasma, known as solar wind, into space. It takes these winds around 40 hours to reach Earth. When they do, they can cause these dramatic light displays.

In full disclosure, I am still waiting to see this spectacle in person. The silhouette of the Moab desert region is mine, taken in the summer of 2017, but the heavenly light display was added using editing software. Nevertheless, I have experienced the Light that shines brightly in darkness -- Jesus.

When Jesus spoke to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)
And because I have received the light of his salvation, I do not face this dark and troublesome world with fea…

Be Still My Soul

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Are you a praying person or do you find the busyness of the day so consuming that you find little time to think, much less earnestly pray. Because of this hectic lifestyle we might carve out time to talk to God, but do we give Him the same privilege to speak back into our lives?

Too often we only look for and cry out to God in the log jams, turmoil, chaos and uncertainties of life... and He assuredly is there to walk beside us, but it is in my stillness that I hear Him most clearly.

“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” ~Psalm 46:10

Nature is a great place to commune with God, but all He really needs is a quiet place in your heart where you allow Him to be exalted. If He is Lord and the love of your life then don't you think He deserves time with you today? Be still... and know God.

Bear Lake
Rocky Mountain National Park
Colorado

Shaping Character

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Definition of "character" - the aggregate of features and traits that form the individual nature of some person or thing.

I look at this scene and the word that comes to mind is "character." Each of the Red Rock formations around Sedona, Arizona seem to take on a life of their own. Each one shaped and formed over millennia. They have endured countless attacks by natural phenomenon over time, and as you look at them now you can only appreciate the beauty in their ruggedness.

The Apostle Paul wrote "but we glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; and our perseverance [produces] character." (Romans 5:3-4)

Just as this landscape has suffered the ravages of time and natural elements, and persevered -- standing while all else around eroded away to dust -- the end result was a "character" that continues to be shaped even today.

And so it is with us. Our trials result in the ability to persevere which in turn builds a r…

Living in Yesterday's Tomorrow

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You are living today in yesterday's future. Is it what you expected?

The PAST is behind you. If does not define who you are. It might have shaped perspectives and produced certain character qualities, but what you do with them is your choice; you control your attitudes and actions/reactions.

Dwelling on things that you cannot change will only create bitterness and regret in you -- and maybe even hatred, greed and anger. What you are doing with your NOW is what's important. Consider carefully how it will make a difference in your FUTURE and that of others.

A key to this transformation of mind and will does not reside within the power of one's own self, but in the reality that God is sovereign, and He desires to make all things new -- not from the outside in, but from the inside out.

So realize that even if your current journey is taking you through the desert, God can and will make a way, and in the process He'll satisfy your thirsty soul. Trust Him and follow His lead.

&quo…

Siloed

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A grain silo is a structure created to store materials in bulk. They are usually tall and cylindrical, but can also be constructed in the form of warehouses or domes. They primarily hold grain, seed, or silage, fodder that is harvested green and then stored and left to ferment. This fodder is then used to feed livestock or as a biofuel, and is usually grass, alfalfa, sorghum, oats, or maize.

You may recognize this famous pair of siloes as part of MAGNOLIA in Waco, TX where Chip and Joanna Gaines have set up a bakery and home accessory store. We did not have a look inside the siloes but I imagine they are now filled with special "finds" for decorating rather than grass or grain.

There is another use of the word "siloed" as it relates to people. Unfortunately, to be siloed means that you are isolated in your work or personal life such that you seldom interact cooperatively with others -- the whole universe revolves around you, your business, your health, your success,…

Overflowing with Thankfulness

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I have so much to be thankful for. It seems a shame that our hearts generally turn toward a greater gratitude only once a year at Thanksgiving. I am thankful for a wife who loves me and puts up with me, three wonderful adult children and their spouses, and six precious grandchildren. I am thankful for a full belly today and everyday. I am thankful for friends and followers, mentors and ministers who pour into me regularly.

Most of all I am thankful for the forgiveness and acceptance I have received from my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I am thankful that I do not take this journey alone but that my life is firmly rooted in a foundation of faith. Therefore, on this day and everyday I will choose to overflow with thankfulness.

"So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness." (Colossians 2:6-7)

Reagan Tub Mill
Roaring Fork Motor …

Cords of Strength

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Bridges come in various designs depending on when they were built, for what purpose they were built, and over what span they are built. This one in Waco, TX employs steel girders along with suspension cables to support the road deck. But why have both?

Suspension cables add strength and improves reliability because the failure of a few flawed strands in the hundreds used pose very little threat of failure, whereas a single bad link or eyebar can cause failure of an entire bridge.

The idea of strength in numbers is not a new concept. In the Bible, King Solomon wrote, "A threefold cord is not quickly broken." (Ecclesiastes 4:12b)

Where many are together and unified, there is strength, power, surety, and accountability. This is true whether you are talking about the steel cords wrapped to form cables in a suspension bridge or in the unified power and consistency of people who work together for a common purpose.

The writer of the book of Hebrews in the Bible talks of the import…

The Balancing Act

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Balance is an art that usually goes unnoticed until you meet that special someone who seems to have their act together completely. The truth is, even that person probably has a difficult time maintaining a balance in their life as work, relationships, struggles, disappointments, heartache, etc. erode away at what you consider the base of their good standing.

Those who know me very well realize that my life is often a transition from one excess to another -- too much photography, too much ice cream (just kidding; that's not possible), too much dieting, too much music, too much Facebook, too much work...and the list goes on. And as you might guess, it frequently leads to burnout. All these things (and you know your excesses) deteriorate that which keeps us standing strong just as wind, rain and temperature affect this landmark.

Yes, excesses can wear you down, but there are excesses the Bible describes which will help you maintain and keep that balanced life. Check it out.

Rejoice alwa…

When Gray Clouds Come

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Even a peachy day can have it's gray cloud moments. Have you experienced that? Everything was going YOUR WAY, then life got "real" and stuff started going all wrong in a hurry.

When the storm clouds gather, remember the words of Solomon.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.

(Proverbs 3:5-6)
We can't always understand the "why" about things in our life but we can be certain about the "Who" that will straighten everything out if we trust in Him. God is faithful. He will never forsake those who seek Him.
The Psalmist wrote, "Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you." (Psalm 9:10)
And perhaps that storm cloud and ensuing rain is really all for God's purpose and your good. The Apostle Paul reminds us...
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for t…

Everything for a Reason

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Everything for a reason? Well, consider the dragonfly and some interesting facts you may not know.
There are currently about 5000 species of dragonflies and damselflies are known; experts guess that there are probably between 5500 and 6500 species in total. 
It is estimated that the top speed for a dragonfly is between 19 to 38 mph. The bigger dragonflies generally flying faster than smaller ones.
Their wings beat about 30 times per second (compared to bees, for example, at 300 beats per second) because they have two sets of wings. 
A dragonfly can see all the way around itself, because its eyes have about 30,000 lenses.

Isn't it amazing that so many different dragonflies and damselflies exist -- all different sizes, colors and adapting to different environments? The ability to see 360 degrees means you won't sneak up on one. And if you do, then they can fly away very fast.
So, why would God make such a unique creature? I guess that could be asked concerning human beings too. Why a…

I Go to the Rock

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Many of us find strength in close relationships with friends and family, while others seek out that healing place in nature. Me? Certainly that is true of me as well, but first I go to THE ROCK of my salvation -- to the Lord God Almighty. I am driven to Him with a compulsion because of the love He has for me and the provision He has continually shown me.

He is the Rock, His works are perfect, and all His ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is He. (Deuteronomy 32:4)

God is faithful and true. I can trust Him, not only with my eternity but also with my hear-and-now.

To you, Lord, I call; You are my Rock. (Psalm 28:1a)

You may have those who are your "rock" in times of trouble but I can assure you that there is no Rock like our God.

“There is no one holy like the Lord; there is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God. (1 Samuel 2:2)

Arches National Park
Moab, UTAH

Cloud Surfing

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People look into the sky and see many familiar shapes and images as they view the clouds. I tend to see them a little differently... even with hope and anticipation.

As the clouds billow and gather, I can't help but wonder if this could be THE DAY. You see, the Bible points to a scene like this and Jesus Himself talked about His return as One who will be coming on the "clouds on heaven."

Mark 14:61-62
Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?” “I am,” said Jesus. “And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

What a grand entrance that will be as Jesus breaks through the clouds in His triumphant and trumpet announced return. Are you prepared for Messiah's coming? The Apostle Paul wrote:

We urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain. For he says, “In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.” I tell you, now is the time of Go…

People Living in Glass Houses

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People living in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. This current day proverb is generally associated with hypocrisy. In other words, if your house is built on untruths or you are living a less than perfect life (that includes all of us) then we ought not be casting judgment on others -- pointing out their frailties, short-comings, accidents or mistakes.

Jesus said judgment is reciprocal... it will come back to haunt you:

“Stop judging so that you will not be judged. Otherwise, you will be judged by the same standard you use to judge others. The standards you use for others will be applied to you." (Matthew 7:1-2)

We should be less aware of the faults of others and pay more attention to our own. How foolish to be talking about someones toy boat sinking when you are behind the wheel of the Titanic. Jesus said it this way...

So why do you see the piece of sawdust in another believer’s eye and not notice the wooden beam in your own eye? How can you say to another believer, ‘Let me …

Puddling Frenzy

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As I photographed butterflies along the roadside in Cades Cove I noticed that many were so caught up in feasting on salts and nutrients in the soil that they were oblivious to my presence beside them or either just did not care. And from the looks of it some were not aware that very large vehicles were also using the road but for an entirely different purpose. Yes, some became roadkill because of their focus on the immediate gratification found in the road.

Perhaps this is a good lesson for us as well to be observant of our surroundings particularly when we are indulging in the goodness of life. Jesus spoke of a day coming that would be similar to the days of Noah -- people indulged heavily in life and neglected the Lord (sounds like today, doesn't it?). He said that is when He would be returning.

“But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For…

Beautifully Invasive

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Originally from China, the Mimosa or Silk tree was introduced to the United States in 1745 and cultivated since the 18th century primarily for use as an ornamental. Mimosa remains a popular ornamental because of its fragrant and showy flowers. Due to its ability to grow and reproduce along roadways and disturbed areas, and its tendency to readily establish after escaping from cultivation, mimosa is considered a Category II invasive by Florida’s Exotic Pest Plant Council. (https://plants.ifas.ufl.edu/plant-directory/albizia-julibrissin/)

Perhaps you've lived where mimosa trees reproduce in great abundance. They seem to spring up everywhere in spring and you'll find yourself constantly pulling them up by the roots or spraying them with a weed killer, just to do it again the following year. If untreated or permitted to grow they will quickly take over a landscape. They are drought tolerant, can grow in sun or shade to 20-25 feet wide and 30-40 feet tall, and are cold hardy to -10 …

Consider the Lilies

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A daylily is a perennial flowering plant in the genus Hemerocallis. The name Hemerocallis comes from the Greek words (hēmera) "day" and (kalos) "beautiful". The flowers typically last no more than 24 hours. Most species open in early morning and wither during the following night.

Jesus often spoke to His disciples using examples they would understand. In the lesson below He talked about the lilies of the field as they relate to our relationship with God. The context is about being anxious. I'll bet you're no stranger to this either.

And [Jesus] said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing." (Luke 12:22-23)

Before continuing, does this strike a chord with you? Have you ever fretted over what MIGHT happen tomorrow, what you'll eat for your next meal, or what clothes you should wear? For some peopl…

In His Hand

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[Jesus said...] "I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand." (John 10:28-29)

How gently yet firmly this person held onto the hummingbird while it was being tagged. This reminds me of a parent who gently but firmly grasps the hand of a young child while crossing the street or walking through a store. No good parent would ever want any harm to come to their precious boy or girl. There are dangers in the street. There are people who cannot be trusted in the stores. Evil lurks in the hearts of those who will snatch a child from the loving arms of a parent, but this is not possible while being held in the hands of a loving heavenly Father and Savior.

Not only that, but when you become a part of God's family through faith in Jesus Christ you are "tagged" (sealed or marked) with the Holy Spirit. …