Posts

Showing posts from May, 2018

Are You on the Right Track?

Image
There is a way that seems right to a man,
but its end is the way to death.

Proverbs 14:12

We set off in life in our late teens or early twenties thinking that we have all the answers. We also have great dreams and ambitions for our future. We envision the perfect family, the perfect job, the perfect house and car. The problem with these visions is that God is nowhere to be found. Our focus is or has been on me, myself and I. 

It's quite possible that you have even obtained many of the things you set out to accomplish and acquire, and while they may bring temporary happiness they will not provide eternal joy -- that can only be found in a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ.

Jesus said...
"I came that they may have life and have it abundantly." (John 10:10)

"These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full." (John 15:11)

"Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy …

When God Is Ready

Image
My barn hunting friends and I were driving down the highway when I looked out the side window and said, "Stop!" It didn't take too much convincing from me to get the guys to turn the truck around for this shot.

This very moment reminded me of the Ansel Adams quote: “Sometimes I do think I get to places just when God is ready to have someone click the shutter!”

I truly believe that God has special, ordained moments lined up for us every day. It may come in the form of an intersection of lives where "bumping" into a person was more than a coincidence -- either you needed to be blessed by that individual or you were intended to be a blessing to them. It could be that Jesus just wants to put a smile on your face or a warm feeling in your heart. Maybe He wants to utterly blow you away in awe, wonder and amazement by who He is.

I can't help but wonder how many of those ordained moments we miss regularly because we are not looking for them. This scene could have…

Country Road Therapy

Image
My prescription for reducing high blood pressure, stress and anxiety: take a casual walk down a dirt-covered, barn-lined country road and talk to God. He's not only found in the mountains, you know.

Yes, Jesus did go up into the mountains to pray, but that was to get away from the crowds so He could have alone time with His Father. Because most of us might not be able to trek off into the mountains, Jesus suggested a quiet place -- your special room or prayer closet -- where your thoughts, meditations and prayers can be directed totally on God. Jesus said...

"When you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you." (Matthew 6:6)

I like what Jesus had to say about being rewarded for this practice. Prayer is not a burden. It's not a waste of time. It has great benefits because God hears and answers those who call out to Him. 

Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great a…

He Cares About the Details

Image
I was doing some macro photography today at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens and came across this very odd looking specimen in the orchid house. I have no idea what it is, what it does, if this is all there is, if it blossoms into something else... but, the colors and shapes intrigued me.

God knows what it is though. He cares about the details of every living thing. And that brings me great comfort, because that means He knows me better than I know myself, for He created me for His glory and His purpose. He knew me even before I was born. He told Jeremiah...

"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you." (Jeremiah 1:5)

Since God made each plant and animal so unique and formed them with such great detail, then how much more must He care for me and you? For we were created after His image. He did not say that of any other thing in creation. In fact, while it might not be as great a challenge for some as it is for others, God k…

Be on the V-Team

Image
Many migratory birds will fly in a V-formation. There is a reason for this -- the one behind is able to gain lift from the air currents created by the one in front. So, it requires much less effort to fly in the rear of the flock than it does toward the front.

You can imagine that the leader is dealing with all the winds (or lack of it) all by itself. It requires much energy to lead the group of followers. How does the leader press on? Encouragement. If you've ever watched (or heard) Canada geese fly over, there is a constant "honking" sound -- encouragement!

However, the birds do not stay in the same place throughout their flight. They can be observed moving up or back in formation, each immediately getting right back into sync with the one in front so that the entire "team" benefits. Even the leader position is rotated throughout the flight so they can endure for the long haul.

So, be a V-Team member today. Work together in sync. Don't atte…

True Worship

Image
"God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth." (John 4:24)

It's not where you are physically but where you are spiritually that matters! Just remember the object of worship is not a place but a Person. That being said, I hope each of you who are physically able will be found in a place of worship each week, gathered with other like-minded, like-hearted and like-spirited believers.

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another. (Hebrews 10:23-25)

Your presence in a place of worship is meant to be as much an encouragement to you as you are to others. We stir each other up to do good, be better, and remain faithful. So put aside anything that would hinder you from being totally immersed into genuine worship of God. Then you will have what it…

Bridging Life's Rivers

Image
This old wooden bridge has been located on this spot for decades. It was once the primary way to cross the Ogeechee River from Warren County to Hancock County. It is still safe to use for foot traffic and light vehicles but is now on private land. A new concrete bridge has replaced it about 300 yards downstream.

Looking at this old weathered bridge made me think of people in my life who have helped me figuratively cross over from one river bank to the other.

My parents helped me bridge that gap of maturation from childhood to adulthood (crossing over those teenage years in between without drowning).

I've had physicians who have bridged troubling medical issues helping me and family members cross from sickness to health, and from debilitating pain to freedom of mobility.

Most importantly, Jesus Christ bridged that gap that took me from a state of lostness and hopelessness to where I am now -- securely found in God's loving embrace with hope for now and eternity…

Water for the Weary

Image
It's difficult to reflect on your surroundings if your life is constantly in motion like river rapids. Sometimes you just need to intentionally stop and be still in order to grasp or reflect on the significance of a moment or series of events in your life.

Time flies by faster than we want to admit. And yet, every day is full of special blessings from God that you fail to recognize in your busyness. The solution? Make time for stillness and reflection so that you can experience restoration. Doing so with a Bible in hand is an even better plan. It will do your heart and spirit a world of good.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.

He restores my soul. (Psalm 23:1-2)

God's Word is nourishment for your hungry spirit, medicine for your emotional wounds, strength for your limitations, hope for your downhearted spirit, and assurance for life's doubts and uncertainties. Drink from those still waters unt…

Greener Days Ahead

Image
I was sad when I first came upon this scene. All that remains is the foundation of this farmhouse. There are burned timbers on the ground and a mangled windmill behind it (you can see it by clicking on the image to view in full screen). Was there a tornado or fire or both? Something tragic occurred here... YET, there is green all around. Yes, despite our adversities, life goes on and there is hope for greener days ahead.

I am convinced that there is no tragedy so bad, circumstance so dreadful, or power so strong that will ever separate me from God's love and care. Trials WILL come, but He promises that we will be more than conquerors in them through Jesus Christ. And I take great comfort in that! 

In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to sep…

Peace Like a River

Image
The sounds of water tumbling over rocks in the mountains is such a soothing, calming sound. In fact, so much so that there are electronic devices and apps that will play this sound to help you relax during the day or fall asleep peacefully at night. Personally I would just prefer to walk beside that quiet, gurgling stream in the natural environment that God prepared for us to enjoy.
I am convinced that people need the extra help to calm their souls because of all the stress and stimulation they receive all day long. My wife would agree that I have a difficult time with this as well, so I am forever looking for an excuse to head to the mountains.
Another reason I believe people lack peace in their life is because they do not personally know the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ.
Jesus told his followers and reminds us...
"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid." (John 14:27)

God of this City

Image
Darkness surrounded us. Police hurried from one scene to another. Helicopters flew to and from medical centers, a gang of wheelie riding motorcyclists came within a few feet of us. Yet, we were very much aware of God's presence as He showed His light over a bustling city that most often chooses to ignore Him. Still, there is hope for our city, for anyone who believes and follows Christ is no longer bound by chains in a prison of darkness.

[Jesus said] I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness. (John 12:46)

Chris Tomlin wrote a song entitled "God of this City" with the following lyrics:

You're the God of this city
You're the King of these people
You're the Lord of this nation, You are

You're the Light in this darkness
You're the Hope to the hopeless
You're the Peace to the restless, You are

There is no one like our God
For greater things have yet to come
And greater things are still to be done in thi…

The Rest of the Story

Image
Above is the "after" photo. Below is the "before" image for comparison.

The original image was taken with the sun in the background and the truck appeared very dark against the lighter sky. There were power lines in the image as well. It certainly was not a wall-hanger, but I had a vision for what it could be after a little HDR and SPE enhancements.

That's how God sees us too. Yes, we look a little rough at first and darkness (sin) characterizes our life, but He sees the potential we didn't even know existed. WHEN you give your life to Jesus THEN He will make you new from the inside out. He gives you a full restoration.... even better than Photoshop. And not long afterwards, even the world around you is changed for the better because of your new appearance and the impact your renewed (reconciled) life has on those you know, meet and love.

2 Corinthians 5:17-18 If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from…

A Cloudy View

Image
I like to photograph clouds in the mountains. Some head to the bright, sunny valleys or hope for some clearing, but I am drawn to this mysterious atmosphere. Your eyes do not see the entire landscape yet silhouettes of beauty emerge that draw your attention to shapes and objects you might otherwise miss or take for granted in full light.

Of course, there is a downside too. Obviously you cannot see the whole picture before you -- you only see in part. And if you're driving a vehicle then this can be hazardous since you cannot always know or predict what may be just a few feet in front of you. So, you slow down, say a prayer, and proceed with caution.

We often find ourselves traveling through life as if we were in a cloud. Those who follow Christ do so trusting that what they say and do is God-honoring and within His perfect will, but we all make errors in judgment and lose sight of the road before us. So, we say a prayer and put our trust in the One who knows the way e…

Decisions

Image
You have many choices to make in life. It's estimated that young children make as many as 3,000 conscious decisions each day. In contrast, the average adult makes around 35,000 decisions every day. That wears me out just thinking about it!
Many of the decisions we make are as simple as what color socks I will put on today or whether I should wash my hands or not (to which the answer should generally be yes). Obviously the decisions become more difficult as you consider a spouse, a home purchase, education, career, etc. But there is one decision that has more bearing on your life than any other -- what will you do with Jesus.
The decision to follow Christ or reject Him is a matter of life or death; heaven or hell. Jesus speaks about that decision, saying...
“You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way." (Matthew 7:13)
AC/DC sang a song called Highway to Hell with the following lyrics:

Test of the Wind

Image
The windmill is down. All that remains of the farmhouse is a foundation. Several boards are missing from the barn, but it is still standing.

Tests and trials come to each one of us. Sometimes we fall. Sometimes we are just battered a bit, and other times we have to start all over. We ALL face trials -- it is inevitable regardless of your faith (or lack thereof). BUT, a genuine reliance on The Faithful One will certainly get you through those times and help you to stand afterwards.

The Psalmist wrote...

Test me, Lord, and try me, examine my heart and my mind; for I have always been mindful of your unfailing love and have lived in reliance on your faithfulness. (Psalm 26:2-3)

Reflect Light

Image
If Billy Graham was like a large lake that reflected the Light of Christ for all to see then I can at least be a puddle.

I believe we should remember the words of John the Apostle and "work together for the truth." (3 John 1:3) We don't all have the same gifts or audience but God orchestrates His Spirit within us to fulfill the greater task of sharing the gospel message that Jesus saves to those with whom we have influence.

So, whether you are the lake or the puddle... just reflect His Light.

Little Mulberry Park
Dacula, GA

Ledgers

Image
In Georgia's Ogeechee River Mill we found ledger books from over 100 years ago cataloging sales and transactions that took place at the gristmill over the decades. Listening to the mill operator, we heard stories of how children swam in the river and picnicked on the banks while parents waited in line for corn to be milled.

These books record the history and transactions of lives in the sparsely populated rural area of Warrenton, GA. Your family may not be included in one of these books, but there is a ledger that I hope you will find your name in one day -- it's called the Book of Life. It, along with other of God's books, document your life from your first breath to your last. What tales will they tell of you?

You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. (Psalm 139:16)

Your eternity is based on what is recorded in this book.

And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the…

It's Never Too Late to Renovate

Image
As I've photographed old structures over the years, I realize that without constant maintenance and care that eventually houses, barns, bridges and mills will succumb to the ravages of time, weather and mischievous behavior. It's sad, really, because I can still see the beauty that once was.

Too often we are guilty of the same with our physical, emotional and spiritual lives. We fail to do the things necessary to stand strong as the storms of life, time, and mischievous behavior take its toll.

May I leave you with a simple reminder that we can ALL end up on a slippery slope that results in brokenness, depression, and ruined lives that can take us to dark places we never imagined. So take care of your physical health. Take care of your mental health. And most important of all, take care of your spiritual health.

2 Timothy 1:14
Through the power of the Holy Spirit who lives within us, carefully guard the precious truth that has been entrusted to you.

And remember, it's…

Promises

Image
The Lord gave us a reminder in the sky of His promise to never flood the entire planet again. You can trust Him to keep His promises found all throughout Scripture.

Psalm 33:4
For the word of the Lord is right and true; He is faithful in all He does.

You can put your trust in Him even when the creeks rise today and life is uncertain.

Reflection Pool

Image
The reflection pool has no waves. There is no sound that it makes. It is not large or permanent like the ocean. Still, it quietly reflects the evening sky; sharing in its magnificent tones and color.

Paul wrote to Timothy... "Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity." (1 Timothy 4:12)

It matters not whether you are young or old, big or small, rich or poor. It's what you do with the life God gave you that matters.

I pray that my life will be a reflection of the One I love and in Whom I entrust my soul. And while in the scheme of eternity my physical life is but a tidal pool that is here today and gone tomorrow, my longing is that others will clearly see Jesus in me and find reasons to give God the glory He is due. And I pray that is your heart's desire as well.

Barnyard Days

Image
There's something about a barn that brings to mind a less complicated era. Although, for those raised on a farm the memories may be of long, hard days of work in the fields... but also of family, cooperation and community.

May these structures remain for generations to come as a reminder of a time without cellphones, the internet and GPS. People talked face-to-face, wrote letters to each other, and GPS was God's Plan for Salvation... yes, people trusted God to show them the way through this life and into the next.

Psalm 16:11
You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.

May we return to the values learned and shared in those barnyard days, and may we pursue God's way which promises joy and the pleasures of life eternal. Amen.

God Will Make a Way

Image
This photo was taken not long after a hurricane moved along the Georgia coast. The scene reminds me that when life's storms, trials, tests and uncertainties arrive and you are surrounded by the fallout and debris, you can trust God that He will make a path for you through to the other side.

1 Corinthians 10:13
Every test that you have experienced is the kind that normally comes to people. But God keeps his promise, and he will not allow you to be tested beyond your power to remain firm; at the time you are put to the test, he will give you the strength to endure it, and so provide you with a way out.

Jekyll Island, GA
After the Hurricane

Stairway to Heaven

Image
I often hear the Great Smoky Mountains area referred to as "God's Country." If so, then this set of rock stairs along Porters Creek Trail once led up to someone's little slice of heaven on earth.
Of course, as beautiful as the Smokies are, they can in no way compare to the splendor of heaven where the streets are paved with gold and the building stones of the city are comprised of jasper, sapphire, agate, emerald, onyx, ruby, topaz, turquoise, amethyst and other precious gems. And unlike the song made popular by Led Zeppelin, you cannot buy your way there. You cannot be good enough to get there. You cannot work hard enough to get there. In fact, it's impossible for YOU to get there.
BUT, Jesus made a way. He told His followers...
“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I …