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Showing posts from April, 2018

Standing Alone

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Let me encourage you to stand firm in your faith... even if it means standing alone. It's easy to go along with the crowd. It can be difficult when you are the outcast or considered odd, religious and out of touch, or when you are ostracized for publicly and privately taking a firm moral, ethical or spiritual stance.

How is it possible to remain pure and faithful to the Lord in these circumstances?
1. Watch yourself. If necessary, get an accountability partner for support.
2. Stand firm on biblical truth. To do this you must first KNOW God's Word.
3. Walk the talk. People believe what they see and not so much what they hear.
4. Depend on the Holy Spirit for strength -- for where you are weak, He is strong.
1 Corinthians 16:13
Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.

Hope for the Entangled Life

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UGH... NOT YOUR BEST WORK, BRYAN!

Okay, I'll be the first to admit that this is not a "wall hanger" but it speaks to me. Why? Because this was once the residence for the owners/operators of the Ogeechee River Mill in Georgia. For decades this house was a family home with memories of love, laughter, rest, play and a lot of work. Now it has deteriorated to the point where perhaps the tangle of overgrown vines is the only thing holding it together.

How easily a home can fall apart without ongoing maintenance. How easily our lives can also fall apart when we neglect to care for it physically, emotionally and spiritually. We can become so entangled in our occupations, hobbies, secret sins and pleasures that we are not even mindful of the damage done to ourselves and those closely connected to us. Before you know it our clean house is a heap of waste and debris.

In running that race called life, we are encouraged by these words: "Let us throw off everything…

Put a Good Roof on It

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I've had people ask why they bothered to cover bridges in the old days. There were several reasons but primarily to help them last longer. The wood below would not be exposed to the harsh wind, rain and sun that would eventually cause decay.

The same is true for your home. Put a good roof on it and it will be leak free and damage from weather will be minimal compared to a home with an exposed wood roof. The old tin seen here has seen better days but still keeps this old timer looking pretty good on the back roads of Georgia.

Likewise, our covering is vitally important too. The Psalmist used the analogy of a parenting bird to help us visualize our Lord's protection for His children.

He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.

Psalm 91:4

There are a lot of things in this world that will bombard your mind and heart. Find refuge under God's roof and He will faithfully guard and prote…

Side By Side

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Who says religion and education cannot co-exist side-by-side? It certainly was no problem for the people in Jewell, GA as they constructed these buildings in the middle of town -- actually setting aside green space as well so this would be a center point of their life and lifestyle.

Scripture tells us, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction." (Proverbs 1:7)

Oh that we would not sacrifice faith and godly wisdom at the altar of scientific hypothesis and theory.

And by the way, can you tell on which of the two that Mr. Jewell placed a greater value? The church is exquisite in every way especially considering its dedication date of 1870. It was built using handmade local bricks during a time when most churches were white wood-framed buildings.

Jewell Baptist Church and Schoolhouse
Jewell, GA

Unnamed Church Building

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I thought it a little strange that we could not find a sign that gave a name to this church building. It is still in use and a neighbor told us the name (although I cannot remember it now). I do recall it was a Baptist congregation that met there.

This got me thinking today about how we frequently memorialize a person or identify with a community when naming a church building, and too often we're guilty of worshiping the structure rather than the Savior. Just go to some "business meetings" and you'll see how right I am.

God warned the Israelite nation just how tempting it can be to give preference and honor to something tangible, but that we ought to seek after the One who, though invisible, is truly Lord over all creation. In one of the books written by Moses we read:

There you will worship man-made gods of wood and stone, which cannot see or hear or eat or smell. But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find Him if you seek Him with all y…

ORD - Old Rusty & Dead

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Rust is my favorite color for old, abandoned vehicles. I imagine this was a workhorse for many years though. It's amazing how fast a vehicle can deteriorate and become rusty and crusty once parked and unused.

May I encourage you - regardless of your age - that you do not just park yourself, rust in place (RIP) and suddenly find yourself unusable by God. You may be physically immobile but you can be a prayer warrior on behalf of others to God. If you are mobile, then find something to you can do to help others or meet a need.


For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.(Philippians 2:13)

Just don't be ORD.

Who is Holding Your Rope?

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In my younger days I enjoyed rock climbing (yes, that is actually me). This is a route in Toccoa, GA called "All I Wanted Was a Pepsi." It takes a lot of faith to climb 100 feet up the side of a cliff. It takes faith in your own skills but even more so in the one who is your belay (French word for "guy holding your safety rope.")

I recently had a discussion with a person who told me that "faith is all you need." He went on to say that it made no difference in what or whom you placed your faith, but that faith alone was what will pull you through life.

Well, I do agree that faith alone is all the Bible says is required for salvation, but the object of one's faith is where I strongly differ. For I can have all the faith in the world in my own abilities, on a friend or spouse, in my possessions or my employer but none of that will carry me on into eternity with God in heaven.

It is Christ alone who has the power to save. It is faith alone in…

A Scratch to Itch

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Do you ever just need to scratch an itch? I suppose if we all had necks like this bird then it would prevent us from having to do the back scratch technique often seen utilized by bears on a tree. Of course, we might look a little funny with necks that would place our heads in the center of our backs too.

Sometimes people use the excuse for doing wrong or something in excess because they just need to "scratch an itch." And while urges within our human nature will often tug us in that direction, we are instructed in Scripture to give ourselves to the Lord so that we don't wander off the the path.

In all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight. ~Proverbs 3:6

It's when we submit to the itch that we can find ourselves out of God's will and off course for the life He desires for us.

Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge
Townsend, GA


Stillness

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This scene reflects the stillness of the mighty Ogeechee River but only because of the man-made dam in front of the mill. Just out of sight the waters go crashing down 10 or 15 feet. It is this power that is harnessed to drive the turbine for the mill.

One thing I've learned in life is that things do not remain still for very long. You can always expect turbulence not far ahead... you might even hear it coming before you experience it.

In this time of quiet, reflect on God and His goodness. But even when things get tumultuous, you can be assured He is with You. It is those quiet times with Him that prepare you for what is ahead.

Be still, and know that I am God. (Psalm 46:10)

Ogeechee River Mill
Georgia Back Roads

Morning Has Broken

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Morning has broken like the first morning
Blackbird has spoken like the first bird
Praise for the singing
Praise for the morning
Praise for them springing fresh from the world

Sweet the rain's new fall, sunlit from heaven
Like the first dew fall on the first grass
Praise for the sweetness of the wet garden
Sprung in completeness where His feet pass

Mine is the sunlight
Mine is the morning
Born of the one light Eden saw play
Praise with elation, praise every morning
God's re-creation of the new day

There is nothing like a sunrise experience to get your day off in the right direction with your focus on God's glorious display and reminder that all things are made new --  new opportunities, new challenges, new insights to learn, and new ways to praise Him.

Lake Louise Sunrise
Toccoa, GA

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Interesting Note: While Cat Stevens made the song popular in 1972. "Morning Has Broken" is a popular and well-known Christian hymn first published in 1931. Words were written…

Reflections in a Mud Puddle

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Last weekend we were at Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountains and I pulled over into the gravel turn-around on Sparks Lane beside Abrams Creek after noticing a couple very large water puddles... okay, they were more like mud puddles.
I placed my camera down on the gravel beside one puddle, pointed in the general area I was hoping to capture and clicked. Believe me, no one was more surprised and pleased by the result of shooting over the top of a muddy puddle on a gravel pullout.
This is what I experience so often in my walk with Jesus. Each day is a new opportunity for surprises and simple pleasures. Sometimes it just requires looking at situations from a new or different perspective. I would have missed this entirely had I only looked from eye-level. In order to appreciate what God is doing in my life I have to step out of the picture and try looking from God's perspective, asking myself, "What is He trying to show me? How does He want my life to be transformed through this …

Heaven's Declaration

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I just knew the sunset was going to be good as I was driving toward my house this evening. It's a good thing I had my camera with me. So I headed over to the levy at Little Mulberry Park and started clicking. What a brilliant display... 20 minutes of hallelujah time.

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands
~Psalm 19:1

But let us not allow the skies and waters to have all the fun. We too ought to be shining colorfully in loving kindness toward others... both radiating and reflecting God's light for His glory.

Abundant Treasures

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We often find rusty, old treasures in barns. They were built to be what we in modern times refer to as garages and storage units. As great a find as we may have sometimes, nothing compares to the good things which are being stored up for me in abundance and distributed to me generously by the grace of God now and for all eternity.

Psalm 31:19
How abundant are the good things that You have stored up for those who fear You, that You bestow in the sight of all, on those who take refuge in You.

May you take refuge in God knowing that He blesses His children out of the abundance of His loving heart.

Open Doors

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Have you ever heard your father or mother say, "Do you think we live in a barn? Close that door!" I know I have. Well, I guess this is where that phrase came from.

Today, may our doors be open to the Lord. May we invite Him in for fellowship and time together. The doors to our heart should always be wide open for Christ. 

Romans 3:20
Behold, I’m standing at the door, knocking. If your heart is open to hear my voice and you open the door within, I will come in to you and feast with you, and you will feast with me.

In contrast, Jesus said that He is the door to salvation and it is ALWAYS open to you.

John 10:9
I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved.

Sometimes He Calms the Storms

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All who sail the sea of faith
Find out before too long
How quickly blue skies can grow dark
And gentle winds grow strong

Suddenly fear is like white water
Pounding on the soul
Still we sail on knowing
That our Lord is in control

Sometimes He calms the storm
With a whispered peace be still
He can settle any sea
But it doesn't mean He will

Sometimes He holds us close
And lets the wind and waves go wild
Sometimes He calms the storm
And other times He calms His child

He has a reason for each trial
That we pass through in life
And though we're shaken
We cannot be pulled apart from Christ

No matter how the driving rain beats down
On those who hold to faith
A heart of trust will always
Be a quiet peaceful place

Songwriters: Benton Kevin Stokes / Tony W. Wood

The Awakening

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It's early. My coworkers are either still asleep or just waking up. They are missing one incredible start of the day as the sunrise glorifies its Creator. No words are necessary. Praise can be seen stretched across the sky and reflected in the water. And I too join in nature's chorus of "How Great Thou Art."

May we awaken each day with the same spirit of celebration. May we glorify God with our words, thoughts and attitudes, and may it be reflected in all we do. May this same spirit of exaltation and acclamation be true of us continually. May it be said of us that he or she loves the Lord with all their heart, soul, mind and strength. Amen!

I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth. (Psalm 34:1)
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord! Praise the Lord! (Psalm 150:6)

Ages of Praises

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For over 100 years this old barn has stood the test of time and annual floods. I hope I look this good at 100. 

Regardless of my appearance, despite the floods and droughts of life, whether I live one more day or till the ripe old age of 100... of this one thing I am sure:

I will sing to the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live. (Psalm 104:33)

Why? Because God is always good and His faithfulness and love endure forever.

For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations. (Psalm 100:5)

Light for Dark Days

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It's not just the night that brings darkness into one's life. We all have inner struggles that cause darkness to overshadow us at times. But there is great news -- God can and will lighten that darkness as you draw closer to Him.

Psalm 18:28
The Lord my God lightens my darkness.

Portland Head Light (1791)
Cape Elizabeth, ME

Consider the Raven

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Sometimes when Sharon and I have been out looking for wildlife in the Rockies or the Appalachians I've kidded that the only critter I've seen for hours is a raven... as if it had less value in the animal kingdom than any other bird, mammal or reptile. And honestly, crows are so common in the South that this just looks like an overfed version of that garden pest with the annoying "Caaw! Caaw!"

However, the Bible just happens to mention them specifically in several places and God used some to feed His prophet Elijah while out in the desert. I can't help but believe they were annoying pests during the centuries that the Bible was written as well, but notice how God cares even for them.

Luke 12:24
Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds!

Think about that... if God cares for the raven enough to ensure it has food to eat and a place to sleep, …

Being Uncomfortable is Good

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On my last trip to Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountains I walked into the Missionary Baptist Church for a picture and time of reflection. The only light streaming in was from the windows on three sides. There was a big pulpit up front shaped like an open Bible. The pews were worn smooth... and very hard. In the ceiling was a hole below where the pot-belly stove once stood. There was no air conditioning for the summer heat.

In comparison, we really have it made today. We worship in sanctuaries with electricity, lighting, central air and heat, and most have padded pews or chairs. But I believe there's something to be said for being a little uncomfortable. It keeps our senses in tune with the environment of the room; speaking of course of the preaching, fellow worshipers, and the Holy Spirit's "voice" as He speaks to our hearts.

Being uncomfortable is not a bad thing. In it you might be forced to:

* think differently
* change inwardly
* seek God intimatel…

Endurance

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I have driven by this tree for decades in Cades Cove and never given much thought about it. In fact, this may be the first time I've photographed it from this perspective. Yet, seeing it on this occasion brought one word to mind - endurance.

This tree is bent over and disfigured in such a way that it bears the scars of some traumatic event. Yet, because it is firmly rooted it persists in its growth, undaunted by the past.

This tree reminds me that if we are firmly rooted in God's Word and trust in Him with our whole heart, then we too can face whatever trials or temptations come our way. We may have the scars to show for it, but they exist as a testimony of God's grace and faithfulness to provide a way to endure.

1 Corinthians 10:13
No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

Cad…

Up from the Grave He Arose

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It's early Sunday morning, Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and several other women go to Jesus' tomb to finish anointing His Body with spices because there had been no time with the start of Sabbath on Friday. But, the stone that had covered the entrance to the tomb has been rolled away and Jesus' body was is not there! Two men (angels) suddenly appeared to them wearing dazzling robes, and the women were terribly frightened and they bowed their faces to the ground.

Luke 24:5-9
Then the men asked, “Why are you looking among the dead for someone who is alive?He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead! Remember what he told you back in Galilee,that the Son of Man must be betrayed into the hands of sinful men and be crucified, and that he would rise again on the third day.”Then they remembered that he had said this.So they rushed back from the tomb to tell his eleven disciples—and everyone else—what had happened.

The story goes on and Jesus reveals Himself over th…