Posts

Showing posts from June, 2018

Grow Where You're Planted

Image
Out of a rock flowers grow, bloom and reproduce. A man or woman did not plant this here. It is growing naturally. God made it possible for this flower to withstand the frigid Rocky Mountain winters and thrive in shallow, rocky soil.

You too can bloom where you are planted. True story... I used to live and work in Memphis, Tennessee and went to the Atlanta, Georgia area on a few occasions for equipment training. I did not like it there. The traffic was horrible. I wrecked my car. I did not know anyone. I swore that I would NEVER move to Atlanta. Long story short... I have now lived in the Atlanta area for the past 24 years.

Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand. (Proverbs 19:21)

First take from this -- never say never. Second take from this - I believe God prepares you for the places where He plants you. I worked in a secular job but God was preparing me for a place of ministry in Georgia. I didn't move because I wanted to but be…

Stars Shine Brighter in Dark Skies

Image
Sedona, AZ lies within an International Dark Sky area. For most Americans, stars are what we see burning brightly on stage or the movie screen, not twinkling faintly overheard. And Milky Way is a candy bar — not the luminous 100 billion-star galaxy to which our solar system belongs.

Blame light pollution, a collective term that includes all forms of artificial light, but most conspicuously the perpetual sky glow that hovers over urban areas. As a result, the typical city or suburban dweller can only see several dozen faint points of light during the course of a clear night, not the horizon-to-horizon array of 7,000 to 10,000 blue, white, yellow, orange and red celestial bodies that are actually up there.

Likewise, it is true that as our world becomes darker with sinful behavior, moral depravity and senseless lawlessness, those who allow the light of Christ to illuminate through them will not have their influence extinguished by the darkness. Rather, their consistent and f…

All Roads Lead to God, but...

Image
The city of Atlanta is known for its terrible traffic congestion. Interstates I-20, I-75 and I-85 all cross through the center of town then head out again in various directions. There is also the I-285 Raceway that encircles the city and countless other highways and roads named Peachtree that are utilized daily by the five million people living in the metro area. 

While not ALL roads lead to Georgia's capital city, ALL roads do lead to God where all men and women from all of time will praise God and acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord. And when I say roads I refer to all religions, all faiths, all cults, all denominations, etc. Now before you stone me for being a heretic, please hear me out as we look into what the Bible says about this.

Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name,so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory o…

Being Fruity

Image
I have been accused of being "fruity" and you probably have too, but I'm not referring to being weird this time. In fact, I'd like to direct you to Scripture that identifies this as a positive attribute of one's life.
First, what is fruit?
Fruit is the fleshy seed-associated structures of a plant that are sweet or sour, and edible in the raw state, such as apples, bananas, grapes, lemons, oranges, and strawberries. On the other hand, in botanical usage, "fruit" includes many structures that are not commonly called "fruits", such as bean pods, corn kernels, tomatoes, and wheat grains.
Fruit bears the seed. Fruit leaves a delightful taste in your mouth. Fruit is nourishing.
The Bible refers to the "fruit" of the Spirit of God in you this way...
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23)
Be the one who bears the seed for these qualities so that whe…

Created Uniquely for a Purpose

Image
We visited the Atlanta Botanical Gardens and were thrilled to see this uniquely created wonder of nature - the hummingbird moth. It feeds on the nectar of flowers, hovering with its body stationary, its wings beating so fast as to be nearly invisible, and a long proboscis protruding beak-like into the blossom. In flight, the wings create a soft buzzing, also like a hummingbird. The only reason the wings are not blurred is because I took this image at 1/3200th of a second (that's REALLY fast).

Why did God create the hummingbird moth with this special design? The question could be asked of us as well. Why did God create each one of us in our particularly unique way? Well, for His glory, of course.

“Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.” (Revelation 4:11)

"...everyone who is called by my name,
    whom I created for my glory,
    whom I formed and made.”
(…

Storm's A-comin'

Image
The storms we most often face in life seem to appear suddenly and unexpectedly. Unlike a hurricane that is forecasted to arrive a couple weeks ahead of time, we generally get hit with sudden microbursts that can leave us dazed and devastated.

This storm in Rocky Mountain National Park came up and over the mountain before we knew it. Jesus' disciples found themselves in such a storm thinking their lives were over as they were battered about in their small boat on the sea. They shouted, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!”

Then He [Jesus] got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. (Luke 8:24)

Now, I can't promise that Jesus will always instantly calm the storms you face, but if He doesn't then He is certainly there to walk you through them. Trust him before the storms arise and you'll know immediately where to go for safe harbor when they do. Sometimes He calms the storms and sometimes He calms His child.


Desert Blooms

Image
My wife and I love flowers, so it was quite the surprise when we saw such an abundance of them blooming in the desert southwest. Isaiah the prophet, speaking about the 'joy of the redeemed', writes…

The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy. They will see the glory of the Lord, the splendor of our God. (Isaiah 35:1-2)

The desert flowers remind us that God is with us even in those wilderness experiences where our souls are empty, our spirits dry, and we feel physically wasted. He can produce something beautiful even in those experiences.

If He can take a spiny, prickly cactus and turn it into a thing of flowering beauty then He certainly can bring joy out of the midst of whatever circumstance you have been in, are currently in, or will be facing in the days ahead.

I was reminded today that God most often spoke to people in the Bible …

The Cross Made the Difference for Me

Image
I have a great appreciation for beautiful architecture. This church and steeple are located in Savannah, GA --  a city filled with wonderful and historic sights like this.

If you Google the history of steeples you will find many who espouse its origins in pagan worship. Some simply indicate it points people's focus toward heaven. The architects tell you that it adds beauty to the design. Some say it's just a place to hang a bell.

Jesus said, "And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself." John 12:32

The Christian faith is not about a steeple or someone's interpretation of it's deep dark or not so dark meanings, but it is about Jesus who was lifted up on a cross -- that's the draw to salvation and eternal security... not the most elegant steeple ever designed.

Guy Penrod wrote the following lyrics that have moved hearts for decades.

'Twas a life filled with aimless desperation
Without hope walked the shell of a man;
Then a…

Don't Be a Salamander

Image
The Great Smoky Mountains are known as the Salamander Capital of the World. Can you see it? Most people will miss these incredible creatures even when right in front of them because God created them to blend into their environment for protection.

I'm just curious... do you find yourself looking like your culture, your environment, your friends or your peers? Do you feel safe by blending in unnoticed? Or have you chosen to stand out as one who is uniquely created and set apart for God's particular plan and purpose?

You were made to be you, so quit trying to be someone else. Love the life, the body, the personality and character you were given and use it for God's glory. 

Ephesians 2:10
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Don't be a salamander!

Living Black & White in a Technicolor World

Image
I don't know about you but I'm a pretty black & white guy. Meaning that I see good and bad, truth and lie, right and wrong... believing God's Word for my baseline. 

It just seems that the world has changed so rapidly where the majority flips everything to where right is left, left is right, up is down, down is up, lawlessness is acceptable, justice is incomprehensible, and value is measured by the cash in your pocket and not the worth of a soul. 

I'm not ashamed to be black & white in a technicolor world. In fact, if I stand out for standing firm in my convictions then to God be the glory. If condemned for not looking like my cultural surroundings, then to God be the glory. I don't follow the crowd. I am a disciple of Christ.
John 8:31-32 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples,and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
There are no shades of truth; there is only truth. It …

Caution: Curves Ahead

Image
Many will immediately recognize this photo as a section of the Loop Road through Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountains. This road has a number of curves and hills where you are blind to what is just beyond sight. As people drive this road at a leisurely pace there is great anticipation that deer, turkeys, bears, coyotes or a bobcat might appear in view. Whether that happens or not you can always expect exceptional views, though.

While life can be just as exciting as a drive through Cades Cove, most often it is NOT experienced at a leisurely pace nor is what you may encounter always a welcomed sight. No one really knows what tomorrow will bring. We make plans, save money and calendar our lives to the minute, but everything can change in an instant. 

Solomon gave us wise instruction about our big plans for the future:

Proverbs 27:1
Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.

And because there is such great uncertainty about the future, whether 5 …

A New Perspective

Image
I've taken bookoodles of photos of this gate in Cades Cove. For those who are not familiar with that term, it means a WHOLE LOT! I was determined to shoot it from a new angle this time though... with a different perspective, with fresh eyes... and I think I did just that. And you know what? I like it!
"Familiar" is good, but sometimes "new" is better. When I think about God's mercies and love toward me, I am so grateful that they are new every morning. Great is His faithfulness to me even when I am less than faithful to Him.
Lamentations 3:22-24 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”
Yes, because of God's intense, abiding, resolute, unyielding love for me He heaps bookoodles of mercies in my direction -- not because I deserve it but because of the kind grace with which He looks upon me, His …

Run for the Prize

Image
Brothers and sisters, I know that I have not yet reached that goal, but there is one thing I always do. Forgetting the past and straining toward what is ahead, I keep trying to reach the goal and get the prize for which God called me to the life above through Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13-14)

Friends, I am constantly distracted by the things of this world that try to steal my attention away from what is most important. Sure, there are a lot of GOOD things that I could spend my time on, but there is also a BEST that I might be missing as a result.

Loving God and loving people should be the priority of our lives. Rather than focusing on the latest Hollywood or political scandal, we ought to be seeking ways to bless God and be a blessing to others. While work may be a necessity for survival, it should not unnecessarily steal precious time away from those who really matter.

God has a purpose and a plan for each of our lives. If you are only living for yourself or only for…

Peace Despite Circumstances

Image
As I look at this photo I see yellow flower petals and green leaves waving in every direction. What a mess! It certainly is not wall hanging material, but I believe it makes an important statement to us because even in the midst of this compositional nightmare lies a bumble bee hanging on and perfectly at peace.

Friends, if peace is determined by our environment then we will rarely, if ever, know peace. However, there is a peace that you can possess that will help you hang on and allow you to be content in whatever your circumstances.

Jesus offers it to you... "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." (John 14:27) 

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7)

Be a Sonfollower

Image
Scientists have answered a burning question central to the charm of sunflowers: Why do young flowers move their blooms to always face the sun over the course of a day? The researchers found that the plant's turning is actually a result of different sides of the stem elongating at different times of day. Noted in the study:

"The higher growth rate on the east versus west side of the stem during the day enables the shoot apex to move gradually from east to west. At night, the higher growth rate on the west side culminates in the apex facing east at dawn."

A plus to this ability to turn is that pollinators are more attracted to flowers that follow the sun because they are warmer... and bees and butterflies like warm flowers.

The sunflower is a good example of how a Christian ought to respond to The Light - Jesus. We ought to follow Him wherever He leads. The warmth we give off as a result of basking in His presence should be attractive to those who are looking for spiritu…

A Force in the Past

Image
Have you ever wondered what it must have looked like to see this grand mill wheel actually spinning under the force of water running over the dam... turning grind stones... milling grits and flour? I imagine there are some who follow my photography who have seen this -- I'm sad that I never have and probably never will.

Unfortunately a lot of people are just like this old mill wheel. There was a day when they knew their purpose and worked hard to fulfill it. Now they sit and rust; remembering the good old days. Well, let me assure you that if you're still breathing then God still has a purpose for you. You can still pray for others, encourage others, mentor others, and love on others even if confined to your home or bed.

If you want to rest in peace then don't just rust in place.

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:10)

THE OLD MILL
Pigeon Forge, TN

Make a Splash

Image
It's raining outside... and not just one drop but millions are falling. One drop... does it really make a difference when there are so many others? In this photo, for that one split second in time, it most certainly did.

I don't know about you, but being one of 8 billion people in the world makes me feel pretty unimportant and insignificant in the grand scheme, but my PURPOSE may not be to change the world, but to impact the world in which I make a splash.

God has a lot to say about purpose and how He works in, through and around you. Check out just a few of the biblical references:

1. No purpose of God's can be thwarted. (Job 42:2)

2. It is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. (Proverbs 19:21)

3. God fully accomplishes the purposes of his heart. (Jeremiah 23:20)

4. Great are God's purposes. (Jeremiah 32:19)

5. We have been called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28)

6. God raises up people for His purpose, that He might display His power in them and that His …

Hope

Image
The sorrow we all felt for the damage incurred to the natural beauty within the Smokies still haunts us today. Yet, signs of life and hope can be seen even surrounding the most fire-scarred areas as seen on the Chimney Tops this past fall, one year later. I pray this is true for the families that faced the tragic loss of human life and property as well. It was so encouraging to hear of the outpouring of love and support by thousands for those affected by the blaze and the courage demonstrated by the locals to face tomorrow with the motto "Mountain Strong."

But in the midst of all the questions WHY was an even bigger WHO. The Lord used so many to minister to the hurting and provide for their needs. Just as the Lord is restoring the land He will restore broken lives. 

I don't know what you're going through today but please know that God cares, revives, rebuilds and restores. Trust Him and hold on to that truth.

Psalm 71:20
Though you have made me see trouble…

From Fog to the Father

Image
The morning fog in Cades Cove is a beautiful sight and alluring to photographers. However, it does not remain for very long once the sun rises so one must make use of their time wisely.

Likewise, God reminds His children that although we may stumble He offers forgiveness that causes our offenses to disappear from His sight like the morning mist. So, rather than dwell on past mistakes and failures, it would behoove us to return to God -- the One who loves us unconditionally and incomprehensibly. 

Isaiah 44:22
"I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist. Return to me, for I have redeemed you.”

God desires an intimate relationship with us so greatly that His only Son, Jesus, paid the ultimate price -- death on a cross -- to redeem you, purchase you back from the slavery of sin. So, after being cleansed inside and out, let us draw close to God as a young child would to their loving Father.

James 4:8
Draw near to God, and he will draw near to yo…

Little Things Matter

Image
It's a small world. Yes, there are a lot of BIG things in this world, but they too are made up of little things like cells, molecules, atoms, protons, neutrons, electrons, etc. We ought to pay close attention to the small things because they have a significant impact on the larger whole.

Jesus is recorded by Matthew as having talked about the mustard seed on at least two occasions. Mustard seeds are usually about 1 to 2 millimeters (0.039 to 0.079 in) in diameter, yet the bush that grows from it can reach an average mature height of between 6 to 20 feet with a 20-foot spread, although exceptional plants can reach 30 feet tall under ideal conditions. Who would have thought such a small seed could have such great potential?!

Jesus said:

“The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field.It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and …

That Annoying Drip

Image
Have you ever experienced laying down in bed and then you hear it? Drip... drip... drip. A dripping faucet is not good unless it is extremely cold outside and you are protecting your pipes from freezing. If the noise is coming from your attic or inside your home's inner walls then that is not only annoying but can be damaging. And what about that dripping rain that is not enough to keep the car wipers going even on intermittent, yet enough that you are turning them off and on constantly.
Yes, those drips are not easy to live with. King Solomon wrote about that very dripping and compared it to a quarrelsome, contentious, nagging wife. And with 700 wives of his own, he probably knew what he was talking about!
A continual dripping on a rainy day and a quarrelsome wife are alike. (Proverbs 27:15)
Now let me be clear that I am in no way making reference to my beautiful wife -- she is totally opposite of this. I also want you to understand that this was written from a man's perspective…