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Showing posts from October, 2018

Son Bathed

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“No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”
Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”
“Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!” 

~John 13:8-9

Peter, one of the twelve disciples, did not want Jesus washing His feet. Jesus was doing so in order to demonstrate how we ought to serve one another. I love Peter's response when Jesus told Him that if he did not receive this humble act then he had no part with him. Peter said, "not just my feet but my hands and feet as well!"

Peter considered himself ALL IN with Jesus. Yes, it would not be but a few hours before he would verbally betray Christ, but Simon Peter more than made up for it with the life and testimony he lived following Jesus' resurrection.

Like the sun shining down on the Appalachian Mountains pictured here, Peter desired to be "Son bathed." He wanted to be clean all over... submerged in His forgiveness, whole, purified, taking on and ref…

Layers

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Just as the rock formations in Capital Reef National Park are composed of many multi-colored layers of sediment accumulated over time, I've found it to be true that every person has many layers as well, and each layer is colored by experiences, education, struggles, successes, peers, family, faith, etc. You might think you know people, but you may only be familiar with the outside layer.

I also feel that most situations you encounter where you are called to make a decision or judgment is not always as cut-and-dry as it may appear. Often times there are many layers involved, again, that may not have been observed as viewed solely from a surface level.

All this to say, please do not be too quick to judge an individual without first getting to know them from the inside out. Likewise, be careful not to weigh every situation based merely on hearsay, gossip or outward appearances.

Jesus said, "Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment” and "for with the judgment …

Journeys

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Sometimes we get so caught up in the destination that we fail to enjoy the journey. And how many times have we arrived at our "dream" destination just to be a little disappointed?

It is true with vacation trips, but it is also true of life in general. My advice: take time to smell the roses, stop and take lots of pictures, and enjoy the sights, smells, sounds and textures that accompany the journey.

I say all that, yet this photo was taken through my car window as I drove down the road. Why did I do that? Well, if I had not then it is very likely that I would have lost this memory. It's nothing truly significant, but it did make an impression on me at the time.

Ecclesiastes 9:9 reads, "Life is short, and you love your wife, so enjoy being with her. This is what you are supposed to do..."

So, that's exactly what I am doing! Every day, every moment, every adventure together, I am enjoying my life's journey and taking lots of pictures with Sharon. :-)

Consumed

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I'll bet each one reading this post has something that consumes a great deal of their time and energy. It might be a job, unhealthy relationship, or even spending way too much time reading Facebook posts. To be consumed is indicative of a lack of balance. To be consumed implies that one is slowly deteriorating... being overtaken... even destroyed (mentally, emotionally, physically or spiritually).

In the Bible, David went through desperate times when he felt consumed to the point of weakness and helplessness due to grief over his sinfulness... and this is a person known as "a man after God's own heart." See for yourself the words found in the book of Psalms.

Indeed, my life is consumed with grief and my years with groaning; my strength has failed because of my sinfulness, and my bones waste away. ~Psalm 31:10

This old house has been slowly consumed by plant life and is now in a terrible state of decay. It did not start out like this though. Once it was a viable place to…

This Masterpiece is for You

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Thank you for viewing my writings, art and photography on this blog, Instagram and Facebook. But as honored as I am to have so many followers, it would mean even more to me to know that you are a follower of the Master Artist, the Creator of our universe, and the Lover of your soul, Jesus Christ.

The Apostle John wrote of Christ, "He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind." (John 1:2-4) Because Jesus made it all, He alone has the power and authority to grant light and life to mankind.

As you observe the beauty I capture with my camera, please know that it was designed to point you to the one and only, living and true God. The Apostle Paul wrote, "For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excus…

Fences

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Most of the time we see fences as barriers that obstruct our freedom. The truth is that many of the fences we encounter have a greater purpose. This one pictured is intended to protect the fragile tundra environment at the top of this peak in the Rocky Mountains. The damage one person could do in a few minutes could take decades for nature to repair on its own.

Likewise, the Lord gives us rules, commandments, proverbs, precepts, wisdom, etc. in His Word, not to prevent us from having fun but to bring joy to our heart and light to our eyes. They protect us from doing wrong and help guide us to do what is right.

Psalm 19:8 reads, "The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes."

Photo taken from Trail Ridge Road
Rocky Mountain National Park

A Job to Do

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Most bumblebees are social insects that form colonies with a single queen. The colonies are smaller than those of honey bees, growing to as few as 50 individuals in a nest.

Like their relatives the honeybees, bumblebees feed on nectar, using their long hairy tongues to lap up the liquid; the proboscis is folded under the head during flight. Bumblebees gather nectar to add to the stores in the nest, and pollen to feed their young. They forage using color and spatial relationships to identify flowers to feed from.

If you are a bumblebee then you collect nectar and pollen. It's your job. It's what keeps the colony alive and thriving. You are NOT a bumblebee but if you are a Christian then you still have a job to do for the greater work of God's kingdom (your colony).

It may be your job (ministry) to help provide for the welfare and care of others. You might be the one who feeds the young the precious Word of God to help them grow and mature. You may be the one visiting the flow…

Consider the Lilies

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Gibbs Gardens in Ball Ground, GA grows thousands of lilies each year. What an incredible display can be found there! But you don't have to visit the gardens to find lilies, they grow wild alongside the roadways and in ditches all across our land.

Jesus said, "Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these." (Luke 12:27)

In what context would He make such a statement? Well, it followed his encouragement regarding worries of this life. Jesus said, "Do not be anxious about your life" and he particularly addressed the matter of what we might eat or the clothes that we wear.

Now, at first I thought this kind of odd, but in many third world nations these are very real concerns. And in the United States, while these may not be desperate concerns, we too often find ourselves fretting over whether we'll have a burger or chicken fingers for lunch, or wear blue jeans or khaki…

The Gold Inside of You

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How can you not "Fall" in love with the Smokies in October?! I am so ready.

The beauty of this scene is not a result of leaves "turning" yellow and gold, but instead these colors are revealed when the green chlorophyll disappears from the leaf surface.

The beauty is always there. Likewise, it is not what we see on a person's outside that makes them beautiful but that which is on the inside.

Eventually, what is on the inside will be exposed. May others see pure gold in you and may you look beyond outward appearances for what is truly on the inside as well.

"The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)

Reflections

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It is quite easy to see how well water reflects the image of the water lily.

The Bible tells us that the heart of a man is reflected by what you see on the outside. A kind heart is reflected by kind actions. A friendly heart is reflected by a smile. A caring heart is reflected by actions of love, grace and generosity.

Similarly, we get an overload of reports nightly on the news of people whose hearts are reflecting the evil that brews beneath as demonstrated through theft, murder, bullying, lying, etc.

As in water face reflects face, so the heart of man reflects the man. (Proverbs 27:19)

As you "reflect" on this picture you will notice another thing -- you see the flower from a completely different perspective -- from the bottom-side. It's true that some people may have you fooled by what you see from the outside, but God sees our hearts on the inside and knows our true character.

Jesus said, "Nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known…

Available to All

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We were perplexed at first... people riding around on what seemed to be publicly used bicycles in Dallas, TX. The ones pictured were in a nice rack but most were just parked on street corners or in parks everywhere you looked.

We came to find out that each one had a wheel lock that was opened when you scanned a QR code on the bike and payed for its use electronically in advance through an app. When the bicycle was immobile for a certain period of time then it would re-lock. Anyone could use the bikes. What a really cool and creative idea!

Just as these bikes were available to all people -- of all ages, all sizes, all languages, all ethnicities -- it is also true of God's love. Jesus said, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16) When Jesus speaks of the world He means you and me! Consider the magnitude of that. The Creator of the universe cared so much about you personally and…

Do You See What I See?

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Yep, this is a 3-story, 30-foot tall/wide eyeball. It is located in Dallas, TX and while some may see it as art there are others that might view it as an eyesore. (This is where you're supposed to chuckle.)

This "eyeball" is VERY large, but it is not all-seeing. In fact, it cannot see anything... it's made of fiberglass. On the other hand, while the Lord God may not have a physical eye, He does see everything, at all times, in all places, past, present and future. How about that for vision?!

The Bible tells us that the eyes of the Lord are actively and constantly searching the world for people who have hearts for Him. His desire is to encourage those individuals and give them support.

For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward Him. (2 Chronicles 16:9)

It was not easy living for God in a secular society thousands of years ago and it is still not an easy assignment. God keeps watch ov…

The Loveliest Smile

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“Autumn...the year's last, loveliest smile."
[Indian Summer] ~William Cullen Bryant

As leaves begin to fall one-by-one in the autumn, we sometimes find ourselves concentrating more on the crunch below our feet than the color above our heads.

We think of fall as the end of summer and beginning of winter, yet it is as beautiful a season as spring when the leaves burst into a rainbow of colors that God created for our pleasure.

Fall is a time of harvest, blessing and thanksgiving as we distance ourselves from summer's heat, bugs and chores. I encourage you to think upon the Lord and His goodness toward you this year and rejoice in all things as Autumn smiles over you.

Philippians 4:4
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!

Only One Way to Edit Photographs? No!

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Some will tell you there is only one way to edit photographs -- THEIR WAY. Some will tell you there's only one digital format acceptable when taking images in your camera -- again, because that is what they use of what someone told them was the only way.

I'm not here to argue the merits of Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Lightroom, Corel Paintshop, etc. If you want PC Magazine's top rated software, you can find them on their website.

What do I use? Well, I seem to be the one that wanders around on the fringe with regard to my software of choice. Why have I chosen to do so? Well, because of simplicity, cost, work flow, and I really like the results. So, that being said, here is my toolbox.

Picasa - this was a free app from Google for many years but has since been discontinued. Unfortunately they have not provided anything now that compares. I save the download file and all you have to do is click on the name to download and install from my Dropbox (yes, it is safe!). It has all the maj…

Suffering's Reward

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Life certainly has it's share of trials and sufferings. Some people seem to face more than others. So, how do you respond to those times? Whether it be physical, emotional or spiritual struggles, I believe God can (and does) use them to shape us. Christ-like character is not formed on the mountaintops but in the valleys -- it is those low times where we come to know Him more intimately and realize His faithful and loving presence.

The Apostle Paul reminds us (from personal experience)...

We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. (Romans 5:3-5)
Notice the progression: Suffering => Endurance => Character => Hope
Without suffering there is no hope. I should point out that people going through suffering who are without Jesus Christ can have a complete…

Flourish Like a Flower

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The variety of gorgeous flowers found both in gardens and in the wild, in warm climates and cold, and in rich soil as well as poor fascinates me. Unfortunately their beauty is too often short-lived. The Bible compares human beings to a flower in the field. Anyone with children or grandchildren realize that you just blink and suddenly they have grown and you wonder how you too got so "mature" in age.

As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more. (Psalm 103:15-18)
Time passes quickly! But, while our mortal lives are fleeting, the thing that is consistently true and never ending is the love and righteousness of the Lord toward His children.

But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children's children, to those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments. (Psalm 103:17-18)
How do y…

Stay Focused

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By now it might be obvious that I love photography. If not... surprise!

There are some key functions that must be mastered if you want to be a good photographer. Understanding ISO, aperture, shutter speed, white balance and other settings are key, but if you have all that knowledge and your pictures still turn out blurry then there's a fundamental issue that must be dealt with -- FOCUS!

I remember shooting portraits once and it was 10 minutes before realizing my lens was set to manual focus rather than auto. It was just clear enough that I could not tell from the back of the camera, but oh was there a huge difference on my computer screen. Almost in focus does not cut it in photography. Focus is essential.

If we want to live a life pleasing to the Lord, then we must also realize the importance of focus. Paul wrote: If you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on thing…

I Want to Know... But Do I Really?

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I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death. (Philippians 3:10)

I want to know Christ...
Yes, I hunger and thirst for that intimate relationship modeled by some of today's and yesterday's spiritual giants. I don't just want to know ABOUT Him; I want to KNOW Him. I want to feel his heartbeat and know His thoughts. I want to walk with Him in the mountains and on the city streets. I want to experience a deep and abiding relationship with Jesus.

Yes, to know the power of His resurrection...
Oh to live without fear; to speak boldly the truth found in God's Word; to love like Jesus unconditionally; to be fueled by His Holy Spirit; to know and experience the same power in my life that raised Jesus from the dead. No more timidity, but an energy that moves within me to reach, teach and disciples others as Jesus did.

...and participation in His sufferings
Wait! Whoa! Stop right there! Participate …

This Old Store Don't Store No More

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I thoroughly enjoy photographing older structures that symbolized the past. I have no clue about the history of this old general store in Hoschton, Georgia but I imagine it was quite the gathering place for purchasing groceries and swapping stories at one time. The owners of the property do a fine job of keeping up the property and maintaining the structural integrity of the building. But, this old store don't store no more.

Stores have a purpose. They are built for selling merchandise. When they no longer fulfill that function then they cease to be a store. You were created (built) for a purpose too. Paul writes:

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:9)

The word "handiwork" is also translated as creation, workmanship, masterpiece, accomplishment and His poetry. You are not an after thought. You were and are designed for a special purpose and plan that God prepared far in advance of you…

Symbols

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A prominent figure in Buddhist and Egyptian culture, and native flower for both India and Vietnam, the Lotus holds enormous symbolic weight. It spans various thousand-year-old Eastern cultures and yet, is still considered one of the most sacred flowers today.

So what is it about this mysterious blossom that people find so enrapturing? Its colorful bloom is an obvious suspect, but the lotus also has a life cycle unlike any other. With its roots based in mud, it submerges every night into murky river water, and—undeterred by its dirty environment—it miraculously re-blooms the next morning without residue on its petals.

Although cultures have their own interpretations of this daily process, there is a general consensus among ancient texts that it symbolizes spiritual enlightenment and rebirth. The lotus stunned people with its ability to dip into the grime and revive itself unscathed—an incredible daily cycle of life, death, and a sudden immaculate rebirth that can only be described as &qu…

One Splash

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I was at a friend's funeral recently. What a wonderful service of remembrance and celebration of life! Although he suffered in the last years, most of his life was dedicated to the Lord through vocational ministry. Thousands of people across Georgia and the U.S. have been touched by his life. He served faithfully. He gave humbly. He loved generously. He shared Jesus boldly.

It's at times like this that I begin to think about my life and the legacy I will leave. I wonder if I have made a difference or if my life has been just one selfish pursuit. Will people even have anything nice to say about me other than "he took some pretty good photos." Most importantly, I wonder if I'll hear the words "well done, good and faithful servant" or perhaps the opposite.. "why didn't you do more with what I entrusted to you?"

Looking at this picture I realize that even a tiny drop of water makes a pretty significant impact on its surroundings. It may be for a…

Stand Tall and Firm

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There's nothing like a steeple standing tall in the sky to draw one's attention to the church building. There's nothing like a person standing firm in their faith to draw one's attention to the Church Builder (Jesus Christ).

"If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all." (Isaiah 7:9)

But do not think that you are able to stand firm in your own strength and willpower.

Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. (2 Corinthians 1:21-22)

Stand tall. Stand out. Stand firm for God's glory and praise.

Darien United Methodist Church
Darien, GA

Dark Clouds Overhead

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No one is immune to dark, cloudy days - literally and figuratively. Dark clouds can have a gloomy impact on your life, work, relationships and spiritual walk. When the darkness begins to rob you of your joy, remember that the sun always shines above the clouds and The Son (of God) radiates through all circumstances of life.

So, you're still having a hard time escaping those weak, weary and wounded feelings? Then consider the words of Jesus:

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

Jesus invites ALL to come... especially those who are wearied and burdened with life's toils and troubles. He is calling us to walk beside Him and He will take the load from us as we find rest in His presence.

And before you assume that every dark cloud is a picture of despair, think about the words of King Solomon.

“The Lord h…

Neglected and Abandoned

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Driving the back roads of Jackson County, Georgia I came across a couple of old barns. By the looks of them they have not been used for some time. Time has not been their friend either. It is obvious that they are slowly caving in due to weather and lack of maintenance.

It would not surprise me if there are some reading this post who can empathize with the condition of these old barns as you too may feel lonely, abandoned and neglected. As people get older, friends pass on into eternity, and family moves farther away, the days become longer and the phone gets much quieter. We find "friends" on Facebook that we will never meet but seem to connect with, but it just isn't the same as the touch of a loving partner, friend or relative.

You can be certain of one thing though... you may be in a house or room all by yourself, but you are never alone if you know Jesus. The following words were spoken to Joshua from Moses, but they speak into our lives as well:

"The Lord himself…