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Showing posts from July, 2018

Cloud Watcher

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I love Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountains. It is a favorite place from which to photograph a sunrise. It takes clouds to generally make or break a spectacular photograph. On this day it wasn't so much the sun but the clouds that stole my attention.
I am grateful for clouds. They are God's instrument for delivering much needed rain to sustain plant and animal life. The Psalmist wrote:
He covers the sky with clouds; he supplies the earth with rain and makes grass grow on the hills. (Psalm 147:8)
It's Father God who provides for us... not Mother Nature. The clouds are a reminder of His love and provision, but they also are a reminder of His judgment.
He makes clouds rise from the ends of the earth; he sends lightning with the rain and brings out the wind from his storehouses. (Psalm 135:7)
Now, I am certainly not suggesting that every tornado and hurricane is a sign of judgement on the earth, but because of our continued disobedience to Him it would not surprise me if He was…

Cancer Root

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Orobanche uniflora
Also goes by the names One-flowered Broomrape, One-flowered Cancer Root, Ghost Pipe and Naked Broomrape

Cancer Root is native to much of North America, where it is a parasitic flowering plant, feeding off of other plants' root systems.

Cancer Root only takes from its host and does not give anything beneficial in return. When I think about this plant it reminds me of the toll that a sinful or over-indulgent lifestyle has on one's life. While it may be true that physical pleasure may be the immediate result, the longer lasting affects often leave a person unsatisfied, longing for more, hurting emotionally and destroyed physically (not to mention the spiritual ramifications). 

Sin is a cancer or parasite that takes, takes, takes and is not treatable except through the cleansing available by God. King David was known as a man after God's own heart, but even he found himself separated from his Heavenly Father after giving himself over to one sin …

Little River Revival

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There's just something about sitting beside a rushing, rolling, gurgling river in the Great Smoky Mountains that revives and relaxes a soul. But why?

"These slow, whooshing noises are the sounds of non-threats, which is why they work to calm people," said Orfeu Buxton, an associate professor of biobehavioral health at Pennsylvania State University. "It's like they're saying: 'Don't worry, don't worry, don't worry.'"

Well, we can't always be camped out beside the Little River, so how do you find peace and rest in this busy world?

The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” (Exodus 33:14)

Jesus said, "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." (Matthew 11:28-29)

Trust in the Lord, for He is with you and He can guide and provide rest for a wear…

An Extraordinary Journey

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Arches National Park was definitely not what I expected. Sure, I looked forward to seeing the arches but all the extra (and extraordinary) rock formations found there were a mega-plus for this stop during our 2017 vacation. It was a landscape photographer's paradise.

I relate this to my journey with Christ. As a child I knew what it meant to be a sinner in need of a Savior, but I had no idea at the time what an extraordinary experience I would be having for the last 50 years since that first step as a follower. It has been WAY beyond what I could have dreamed or imagined.

Like the Psalmist, I can confidently declare:

"Many, Lord my God, are the wonders you have done, the things you planned for us. None can compare with you; were I to speak and tell of your deeds, they would be too many to declare." (Psalm 40:5)

I cannot imagine a life without Jesus Christ now. I cannot imagine an eternity without Him either. Scripture tells us there is no way to comprehend what Go…

Gossips

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Three Gossips is a mid-sized sandstone tower (about 350 feet at its tallest wall) sitting atop a roundish pedestal within the Courthouse Towers "cluster". The name no doubt comes from a slight resemblance of the formation to three heads "gossiping" to each other. The tower has three flat and distinct summits: North, Middle, and South - all of approximately the same height.

And while the name may be fitting for this formation, it is certainly not a fitting title for a person. The Bible says the following about a gossip:

1. A gossip betrays a confidence.

A gossip goes around revealing a secret, but a trustworthy person keeps a confidence. (Proverbs 11:13)

2. A gossip separates close friends. 

A gossip separates the closest of friends. (Proverbs 16:28)

3.  A gossip fans the flames of conflict.

Without wood a fire goes out; without gossips, conflict calms down. (Proverbs 26:20)

4. A gossip is not dignified, self-controlled or trustworthy.

Women who are servants in the…

Sometimes You Need to Be Propped Up

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Palm trees have a large number of short roots spread across the upper levels of the soil, which work to secure a large amount of soil around the root ball. This wide network creates a bottom-heavy base that helps keep the tree in place.
The tree pictured here is a recent transplant so the roots have not yet had time to spread out through the sandy soil, thus it is necessary to prop it up so that it does not fall in the strong sea breezes.
When I think of a new or less spiritually mature Christian, the scenario is very similar to the palm tree. Their roots are not very deep in Scriptural truth and as a result may fall quite easily. It is important to prop them up, build them up and encourage them during this time.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 Encourage one another and build one another up.
This is also true for those going through difficult times who may be weak, weary and brokenhearted. We are told in the Bible to be patient with them and encourage them.
1 Thessalonians 5:14 And we urge you, brother…

Legend of the Dogwood Tree

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In Jesus' time, the dogwood grew
To a stately size and a lovely hue.
'Twas strong and firm, its branches interwoven.
For the cross of Christ its timbers were chosen.


Seeing the distress at this use of their wood
Christ made a promise which still holds good:
"Never again shall the dogwood grow
Large enough to be used so.


Slender and twisted, it shall be
With blossoms like the cross for all to see.
As blood stains the petals marked in brown,
The blossom's center wears a thorny crown.


All who see it will remember Me
Crucified on a cross from the dogwood tree.
Cherished and protected, this tree shall be
A reminder to all of My agony."


Author Unknown

While there is no substantial proof that the dogwood tree was what Jesus' cross was made of, this poem is a reminder for us when we look upon it of a suffering Savior who willingly gave up His life that we might live.

Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endure…

The Snake Oil Salesman

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Stories of people selling elixirs that will cure or heal sickness and disease have been around for a long time. It seems that there is always someone trying to pull something over on you. They deceive others for profit and for power. Their smooth speech sounds so convincing, even too good to be true, because it is.

The Bible warns us as well about those who intentionally set out to mislead you. Their message sounds logical and legitimate, but their mouths are spewing heresies from hell.

But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with fabricated stories. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping. (2 Peter …

Healing in the Land

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In 2 Chronicles 7:14, we read God's promise to us...
"If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land."
It was not long ago that fires ravaged this hillside in the Great Smoky Mountains. Honestly, it was very hard to look at. Today though, we see a lush covering of wildflowers. It's a beautiful sight -- a vastly different view from the one I remember following the blaze. The land is recovering, growing, healing.
Similarly, our lives can be blackened by the ravages of sin. It's hard for our Heavenly Father to look at us when we are in this dark place, especially if we are His beloved children. BUT, we do not have to remain in that condition!
God instructs us to cast away any pride we might have, humble ourselves before Him, seek (pursue) His face, and repent (turn) from our sinful ways. THEN He will hear our prayers, forgive …

Closer Than You Realize

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As one travels through the Great Smoky Mountains there are beautiful sights to behold over every hill and around every bend. A quiet walk will give you an even greater appreciation for God's creation as your senses are stimulated by what you see, hear, smell and feel. Even greater than that is the closeness you begin to experience with the One who made it all for your enjoyment.

Sometimes you don't even have to look far for tumbling waters such as the one pictured. This cascade sits right beside the main road running through the park on the North Carolina side. You will want to watch for passing cars though as you photograph it!

Just as many of the Smoky Mountains' views and vistas are within just a short distance of the roadway, our Heavenly Father is also never far away either. And He desires an intimate relationship with you. Just think of that for a moment; let it sink in -- the Creator of the universe wants to be near to YOU. 

James 4:8 reads...
"Dra…

It Wasn't What I Was Hoping For

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It wasn't the sunrise I was hoping for but the sun did rise! It was cold, rainy, and the wind was blowing... but the sun did rise!

Prayer is kind of like that. We pray asking God to bless, provide, heal, deliver or comfort. Sometimes we pray for things we need or desire or (let's be honest) want, and God will answer our prayers, but just maybe not the way we expected. 

God answers us with Yes, No or Wait. Waiting can be the hardest, by the way, but it can draw us closer to our Lord in that time.

Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord! (Psalm 27:14)

We might not always get what we want but He always gives us what we need. It might not be the answer you were hoping for, but He will answer.

God said, "Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known." (Jeremiah 33:3)

The thing we must realize is that God sees the big picture while we only experience the here-and-now. …

Shadows on Your Lighthouse

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Looking up I saw the beautiful, white Saint Simons Island Light against the colorful blue sky and I thought WOW! This was a picture perfect setting. But, as I walked around the base of the building something more ominous became clearly visible... dark shadows from a nearby tree.

These shadows would hardly be recognizable on some surfaces but against the bright white of the lighthouse you could not help but notice them. The purpose and task of the lighthouse was completely unaffected by the tree's shadow -- it still gave off light -- but down below it now took on the appearance of something that it was not.

Christians are commissioned as ambassadors of Christ to be light shining in the darkness and as such we must take on the holy/clean appearance of people set apart for God's purpose. However, any hint, rumor or accusation of sin or wrongdoing can cast a shadow on the ministry or task we are called to do. While God's light will never be dimmed, our ability t…

Perspective is Everything

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You've probably heard people say, "Perspective is everything" or "perspective is reality." No, perspective is merely how you see things. Two people looking at the same subject may witness it with two entirely different viewpoints. For instance, with my camera on the beach this rock appears to be a large boulder with a vast body of water in front of it. In actuality this is a 6-inch stone and puddle of tide water (with the Atlantic in the distant background).
What is your source of truth? Some say, "I have my truth and you have your truth. It's all truth depending on your perspective of reality." Well, as good as that sounds to people who do not want to accept absolute truth, it's still a lie and they are deceiving themselves and others. Unfortunately many people will take their version of truth to the grave before their eyes are opened to God's truth.
Jesus said, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life." (John 14:6)
To know Jesus…

My Supreme Test

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Ansel Adams said, “Landscape photography is the supreme test of the photographer, and often the supreme disappointment.”

For me, photographing my grandchildren has been my supreme test as a photographer, but my supreme disappointment would be that someone reading my posts would fail to see what a kind, powerful, glorious and loving God I know and serve. My photography is for His glory; not mine. His creation sings His praise continuously... and so shall I.

I will praise you, my God and King, and bless your name each day and forever. (Psalm 145:1)

Through [Jesus] then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. (Hebrews 13:15)

Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge
Townsend, GA



Go Fishing

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Peter and Andrew were fishermen. They lived by the sea and made a living with their nets and boats. It was not easy work, they smelled bad, it involved late night hours on the water but it kept food on the table and paid the bills. These were common, ordinary, uneducated and hard-working men. 

One day a man named Jesus approached them, and said to them...

“Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” And immediately they left their nets and followed him. (Mark 1:17-18)

Jesus was calling Peter and Andrew to become learners... followers... co-laborers... disciples. He would teach them a new trade. He didn't call them because they were the smartest or most religious people, but he had a plan for their lives and promised to "make them become fishers of men." 

As followers of Christ this is the same call on us today -- to be actively casting out the gospel net (the message of salvation) so that men, women, boys and girls would be drawn to Jesus. 

Peter an…

Morning Glory

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I arose at 3:30 AM because I was determined to see the Milky Way from just south of Waycross, GA near the Okefenokee Swamp. This location has recently been designated as an International Dark Sky Area. I didn't head as far south as I needed to because of the 1.5 hour drive required, so there was still the influence of light on the horizon.

Nevertheless, as I parked in a pullout area, turned off the car headlights and allowed my eyes to focus on the sky, I not only saw thousands of stars but I experienced God's creation declaring His glory across the heavens. It was easy for me to imagine how the Psalmist could pen the following:

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

The Milky Way Galaxy was named for its appearance as a milky band of light in the sky. It contains between 100 and 400 billion stars and at least 100 billion planets. The Milky Way may also contain perhaps 10 billion white dwarfs, a billion neutron stars, …

True Nature Revealed

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Your true nature is most often revealed when you're found in a hard place!

Every autumn I am drawn to the beauty of leaves as they transition from summer's green to various colors and mixtures of red, purple, orange and yellow.

The green is necessary in spring and summer for making food. These green cells contain chlorophyll which absorb energy from the sun that transforms carbon dioxide and water into carbohydrates, such as sugars and starch. Along with the green pigment are yellow to orange pigments too, but most of the year these colors are masked by great amounts of green coloring.

But in the fall, because of changes in the length of daylight and changes in temperature, the leaves stop their food-making process. The chlorophyll breaks down, the green color disappears, and the yellow to orange colors become visible and give the leaves part of their fall splendor.


The fall season is a picture of our lives as those warm times of plenty and productivity are replaced by more diffic…

A Way Through It

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Have you ever thought you were the only one in the world struggling with a certain illness, weakness, relationship problem, financial difficulty, bad habit or sinful temptation? You might feel like you are going through it alone or that there's no one you can talk to, but there are two truths I want you to take to heart.

1 - others are going through the very same struggle
2 - you don't have to face it alone

The writer of Hebrews tells us that Jesus faced every kind of test or temptation that we might have and since He walked about in a human body He understands our weaknesses and frailties. Because of this, you can talk to Him about ANYTHING you're going through -- He knows and He cares.

Jesus understands every weakness of ours, because he was tempted in every way that we are. But he did not sin! (Hebrews 4:15)

You are not any less of a Christian if you face tests and temptations. In fact, God places some of them before us to grow and mature us in our faith and …

Details are Important

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Do you see it? We watched for a while wondering how long it would take before this gentleman realized that the camera body was missing from his lens. While focused on trying to see some bears in the woods with his naked eye it appears that he was either unaware or unconcerned that his lens was unprotected and filling with dust from passing cars on the gravel road on which we were standing. Finally his bare lens and open camera body were reunited. I can only assume that a thorough cleaning was coming in the very near future for his expensive equipment. 

I'm glad that we serve a Lord that is concerned with details. As you look into the heavens at night and consider the awesome power that could speak the stars into being, realize that each one of them has a name and not one is out of place or goes unnoticed.

Lift up your eyes on high and see: who created these? He who brings out their host by number, calling them all by name; by the greatness of his might and because he i…

When Busy Isn't Best

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We've all heard the term "as busy as a bee." We might even feel that describes your life most of the time. In our society we have been brainwashed to believe that being busy is BEST. Sometimes busy can be a BUST.

Take for instance the story of Mary, Martha and Jesus. Martha was in the kitchen preparing food and doing housework -- as busy as a bee. Her sister, Mary, however, was sitting at Jesus' feet just listening and taking in everything He had to say. 

Can you visualize the situation? You can believe that Martha was not happy with Mary... so much so that she came storming in and told Jesus to make Mary get up and help her. This is what Jesus said:

“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41-42)

Martha was doing a good thing. People were hungry and she was working hard to serve them. But Jesus reminded her that it's someti…

You Are Not Alone

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Your very shadow testifies to the God of creation and the Light of the World that is always with you.

I love that one of the first assurances we have of this came from God in the Old Testament and again declared by an angel to Joseph concerning Jesus' birth in the New Testament.

“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). (Isaiah 7:14 and Matthew 1:23)

And Jesus said...

"While I am in the world, I am the light of the world. And surely I am with you always." (John 9:5, Matthew 28:20b)

Take joy, friends. We do not have a God who is unaware of us, but rather One who is WITH US... ALWAYS!


Sunrise
Fernandina Beach, FL

Get Some Rest

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“Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” (Mark 6:31)

These were Jesus' words to His disciples after being overwhelmed and overworked. They are good words for us too when we get overwhelmed with life. Spending some quality quiet time with the Lord is the best medicine for our weary mind, body, soul and spirit.

Jesus said, “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28)