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Showing posts from September, 2018

It's Not Where But Who

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It's Not WHERE You Worship but WHO You Worship That Matters

I am a member of Northeast Church -- A Southern Baptist Fellowship. We are located in Braselton, GA. The building where we meet was once a Motorola factory but now houses 4 acres of ministry area under one roof. We are blessed to have this property.

It has become more commonplace over the last couple of decades for people to meet for worship in non-traditional settings. I find nothing wrong with that at all. In fact, many are meeting in schools, theaters, community centers and under park pavilions.

Sometimes we've become so attached and hung-up on ornate architecture, tall steeples, pipe organs and pulpits that we've forgotten that genuine worship is a matter of transformed hearts and lives yielded daily to Jesus Christ.

It matters not where you meet with fellow believers to worship, but it does matter WHO you worship. We can, unfortunately, be guilty of worshiping the building, the decor, the hymnals, the electric gu…

The Shepherd Gate

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Gates are installed through which to pass from on place to another. In the case of a high security area, gates are used to protect those who are inside and keep out those who do not belong.

In ancient Israel, sheep would spend the night in a "sheepfold" which was a rock wall enclosure made up of loosely stacked stone This provided protection for the sheep against thieves or wolves. The enclosure had only one door which was actually just an opening. It is here that the shepherd would lay down at night. Anything or anyone wanting to get to the sheep would first have to pass through the shepherd. 

Jesus referred to His followers as sheep and himself as the good shepherd.

I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. (John 10:14-15)

Jesus also toldus that He was the gate by which people can enter into a salvation experience with God. There is only one gate to God. There is only one…

I Once Was Blind But Now I See

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There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death. (Proverbs 14:12)

It's amazing how many people are walking around with eyes wide open, yet they are blind -- walking in complete darkness -- confident that THEIR WAY is right, yet the path they follow leads to a destructive end.

There is only ONE WAY that leads to life and hope and peace and eternal joy. And the One who claimed to be The Way is also The Light that will guide us through this journey.

[God said] "I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them." (Isaiah 42:16)

John Newton, English poet and Anglican clergyman, penned the words of the song we now know as Amazing grace in 1773. It may be one of the most recognizable tunes of all time, and its words are indeed timeless and true.

Amazing Grace! how sweet the so…

That Which Lasts Forever

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I am excited that there is some restoration taking place in the old Daisy Town area of Elkmont, but am also saddened that so many of the historic structures no longer exist.

They were a reminder of days gone by. But, like so many things in our past, they exist no more except in photographs and memories. I encourage you to take more pictures and videos for that may be the ONLY documentation some will ever have of a loved one or a favorite location as generations come and go.

But while most everything we can touch and feel will one day vanish, there are some things that will indeed last forever, and they all have to do with God, His kingdom, His character, and our salvation.

GOD'S WORD
"The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.” (Isaiah 40:8)

YOUR LIFE IN CHRIST
For you have been born again, but not to a life that will quickly end. Your new life will last forever because it comes from the eternal, living word of God. (1 Peter 1:23)

GOD'S…

Change

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It's been said that the only person that likes change is a baby with a wet diaper, but I'm here to tell you that I've even heard a good number of them rebel during that change.

Change is inevitable in all areas of our life -- in work, families, church, relationships, technology, weather, etc. Change is sometimes good, sometimes bad, sometimes difficult to face, sometimes well received... but turning a blind eye to it will not keep it from happening.

Embrace change and see the beauty that can be found in it, just like the leaf that transforms from green to red and ultimately to a crispy brown. We realize that all things have a life cycle, but even as we journey through life's winter moments we can be assured that spring is indeed coming.

There is One who never changes though, and He is the immovable Rock on whom you can depend through the good, bad and everything in between.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8)

Treasures

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I've taken many vacations where it seemed that we had packed up everything including the kitchen sink. How about you? We think we "need" everything under the sun to be happy and comfortable whether camping or living out our daily lives. The truth is that most things we consider a NEED are most likely a WANT.

Consider all the money that you have spent on clothes, electronics and recreational items that are now packed away, lost, thrown away or forgotten. None of those things are lasting treasures. Jesus said, “Sell your possessions and give to those in need. This will store up treasure for you in heaven! And the purses of heaven never get old or develop holes. Your treasure will be safe; no thief can steal it and no moth can destroy it. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be." (Luke 12:33-34)

There are things that we can invest our time, resources and money in that have an eternal impact. You can change someone's life now and fo…

Scars

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Just as fires have ravaged the landscape in Yellowstone leaving countless acres bare and scared for years (sometimes decades), certain circumstances in our life can do similarly to us mentally, emotionally and physically. It may even appear that the scars will never heal; that life will never return. 

Then depression sets in.

I wish I could say just give it all over to the Lord and everything will be okay. God tells us to "Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you." (1 Peter 5:7) Yet, I have seen strong Christian men and women go to the absolute depths of despair. Is it because they don't have enough faith or trust in God? No, not always. Sometimes life is just more than one can bear.

I don't have any wisdom regarding depression other than to be sensitive to those who suffer with it and the families of those who love them. Those suffering this illness aren't the only ones bearing the entire weight of the pain. Don't be critical or judgmental, but ra…

How does a photographer measure his or her worth?

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How does a photographer measure his or her self worth? Is it by the number of LIKES he or she receives? How about LOVES? Comments? WOWs?

Perhaps it's by the number of friends, fans and followers? Or maybe the number of pages they "own" or groups in which they participate?

Oh, I know... it's by the number of magazine covers and articles that their work has appeared in, books they've written, classes they've taught, and photo excursions they've led.

I must certainly be getting close. But of course... how could I have forgotten the equipment? Yes, a photographer's self worth is directly proportional to the value of all their camera equipment combined.

No, you know me better than that. Do you want to know how a photographer determines their self worth? The same as anyone else -- by the purity of their faith.

Troubles come to prove that your faith is pure. This purity of faith is worth more than gold. Gold can be proved to be pure by fire, but gold can be…

Slow Devastation

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The north shoreline of Jekyll Island, GA is littered with dead and dying trees. This hauntingly beautiful place is called by several names: Driftwood Beach, Graveyard Beach and Boneyard Beach, to name a few.

The shoreline did not become like this overnight. The shallow water and small waves found here have caused the Atlantic Ocean to slowly but surely take over land that once thrived with plant life. The salty sea water was absorbed by the trees that required fresh water and they began to die. Then, hurricane and tropical force winds caused them to tumble.

Sin has a similar affect on lives. It creeps in slowly and replaces that which was pure and refreshing with that which is unhealthy and destructive. Then come the storms of life and there are no deep roots or firm foundation to hold you up and you tumble hard. The Bible describes it like this:

When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted…

I See Love

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Out to Pasture

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These very long benches were once used under a pavilion at a campground in Toccoa, GA. I suppose they have outlived their usefulness or have become a danger for everyday use. Whichever the case, I am reminded that we all have jobs to fulfill and eventually a time will come when we are either replaced or "put out to pasture" if we fail to perform the task assigned or can no longer meet expectations.

That is how the world treats us and it can be unfair particularly when age, health or some unforeseeable circumstance suddenly causes us to be in this state of joblessness, without a sense of purpose or self-worth.

However, as best I can tell, God is never finished with us until we breathe our last on this side of eternity and then we have a whole new life to look forward to if we are a part of His forever family.

I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. (Ephesians 4:1)

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him. (C…

Majestic Radiance

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It was a foggy morning in Cades Cove... just the kind that I hope for when photographing at sunrise. As I rounded the corner at the Missionary Baptist Church, the low fog, rising sun and hanging branches produced a glorious stream of colorful and mesmerizing light rays. My mind went immediately to the glory of God and His majesty, radiance and presence in that place.

The Lord is God, and He has made His light shine on us. (Psalm 118:27a) You are radiant with light, more majestic than mountains... (Psalm 76:4)

Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. (1 Chronicles 29:11a)

Light: luminous, bright, energy, ablaze
Radiant: resplendent, splendor, brilliance
Majestic: magnificent, regal, royal, kingly, imperial, noble

That's my Lord and I belong to Him! He shines His light of grace, love, glory, mercy, forgiveness, wisdom, power and compassion on me continually. Wow!

Cades Cove
Great Smoky Mountains

Out of a Stump

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If you drive the Loop Road in Cades Cove you will recognize this stump. I've wanted to stop and photograph it many times, so I finally did. In the summer these vines are alive with green leaves. Out of this old stump comes new life -- in fact, a completely different plant.

The Bible speaks of Jesus coming from the stump of Jesse, who was King David's father. This is an important prophetic statement that heralds a coming King on whom the Spirit of God rests.

A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;
from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.
The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—
the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and of might,
the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord—
and he will delight in the fear of the Lord.

(Isaiah 11:1-3)

The Bible also speaks of Jesus being the Vine and we the branches. He sustains us and gives us life. It is through Him that we bear fruit of good in this world.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain…

Night Lights

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Fact: Stars exist in the heavens 24 hours a day.

Okay, that should not be a great revelation to most of you. However, it is not until the sun disappears beyond the horizon that these heavenly bodies shine in great splendor. In fact, it is when the night is at its darkest that the star lights shine their brightest (from a human perspective).

Likewise, as the world continues to become spiritually darker it should be that your light -- the light of Christ in you -- shines the absolute brightest. So, shine on! Darkness can never overcome light -- it only makes it more evident.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. ~John 1:5 and Matthew 5:16

Page, AZ

Flume of Hope

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Flume: The channel or canal which carries water from the millrace, via a control gate (sluice gate) to the water wheel.

Some may wonder why I get so "spiritual" with my photos. It's simple, I desire to be a flume by which God's message of hope and encouragement is delivered to you so that you can process it, feed on it, and find life-giving sustenance from it.

I used to be concerned that I would lose friends if I posted Biblical thoughts and messages, but now I am more concerned that friends would turn a deaf ear to the truth and miss out on the greatest relationship ever intended for mankind.

So, while you enjoy the photography, I pray the greater message contained within is read, relished and remembered... and people will be reconciled to God.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes. (Romans 1:16)

Reagan Tub Mill
Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail
Great Smoky Mountains National Park


Bridge Like a Friend

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Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel sang a song "Bridge Over Troubled Water" beginning with the lyrics:

When you're weary, feeling small,
When tears are in your eyes
I will dry them all
I'm on your side
Oh when times get rough
And friends just can't be found
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down


Well, the water didn't look so troubled on this day. The scenery around it was picture perfect too. However, when the heavy rains come and the flow increases significantly this area can look a lot different and the river becomes very troubled. In either case, the water is still strong enough to knock you off your feet and there's a good chance you will get wet or injured on the rocks -- hence the bridge.

So, it's always good to have a friend. Especially one that will lay it all down for you. One that will bridge those troubled waters for you and with you. That's my Jesus...

Greater love has no one t…

Soul Thirst

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Confluence: a flowing together of two or more streams, rivers, or the like.

In this case, it is the merging of Middle Prong Little Pigeon River and Porters Creek along Greenbrier Road in the Great Smoky Mountains. It's a beautiful place year round, and I can hardly remember a trip to the Smokies when I didn't come by this spot just to take it in (and shoot a few pics, of course).

It's a refreshing sight to see and soothing music to my ears. Whether robed in fall color, adorned with summer ferns, spring flowers or winter's snow, it is beautiful. Honestly, I hunger and thirst for this type of refreshment when life's busyness leaves me dry. I just need to sit and soak it in to be revived.

There is another place I go to find refreshment for my soul... and that is to the Lord. He is the living water which never runs dry and which satisfies a life thirsty for meaning and purpose. I don't have to drive three hours to see Him either -- He's always there!

As the de…

Swimming with Sharks

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In the open waters of the ocean, the shark is at the top of the food chain. The sea is its buffet. Very little strikes fear in a person playing, surfing or paddling close to shore or stranded miles away from the beach than the word "Shark!"

Sharks come in many different sizes from the 6-inch dwarf lantern shark to the 33-foot great white. There are over 500 species of sharks today and they have swum the earth's oceans since prehistoric days. They are practically fearless and can smell the scent of blood miles away.

On the beach there are lifeguards vigilantly keeping watch for dangers lurking in the water. But, there are dangers everywhere that we should be keenly aware of. Are you watching guardedly for those people, things and temptations that will harm you where you live, work, play and socialize? 

Sharks come in many shapes and forms on dry ground too. The Psalms and Proverbs offer words of caution and instruction concerning being aware and guarded with certain areas of…

Up Around the Bend

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There's a place up ahead and I'm goin'
just as fast as my feet can fly
Come away, come away if you're goin',
leave the sinkin' ship behind.
Come on the risin' wind,
we're goin' up around the bend.

If you are or ever were a fan of Credence Clearwater Revival, you'll remember those lyrics written and sung by John Fogerty.

I certainly won't begin to tell you what was in the mind of this singer/song writer as he penned these lyrics but I can relate to the fact that this old world often feels like a sinking ship and I am ready to leave it all behind for what lies up around the bend.

But, the fact is that I still live here on earth. So how do I live in the meantime knowing that Jesus will be returning again or I will be going to meet Him first? Peter answers that question in 2 Peter 3:11-18.
Live holy and godly lives (v.11)Be found spotless, blameless (v14)Be at peace with God (v.14)Tell others the gospel story of salvation (v.15) Be on your g…

Do You Love Me More Than These?

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Admit it... there are people and things that mean the world to you. I think of my precious family... and I can't imagine life without a single one of them. Some have suggested that I couldn't live without my camera, guitar, computer or cellphone... and, well, let's just not think about it. Okay?

I recently completed a Bible study where I examined my priorities, possessions, pride, prejudices and purpose. I had to ask myself if there's ANYTHING more important to me in this life than my love for and obedience to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. That same question was asked of Peter:

When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love Me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” (John 21:15)

The "these" Jesus referred to is not known. Perhaps He pointed to the other disciples asking, "Do you love Me more than your friend and family relationships?" He might have po…