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Showing posts from November, 2018

A Precision Team

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Watching the Blue Angels fly in formation is a sight to behold. These pilots are experts at handling these multi-million dollar aircraft. They fly this diamond pattern with tight precision at incredible speeds with only 18 inches separating them. It should go without saying that there is no room for error in practice or during a show. The team MUST listen and follow orders precisely from the "Boss" -- their Commanding Officer.

Just as one mistake can be costly with this group, the lesson is true for people in teams of all types. One slight mistake, inappropriate action or reaction, misunderstanding or rogue act can effect your life and the lives of others for years, and in some cases, decades. If you are a Christian then you MUST follow the orders given by the Lord Jesus Christ, our "Boss." Stepping outside those boundaries has consequences.

Jesus said, "If you love me, keep my commands." (John 14:15)

What is the command that Jesus tells us to follow?

"T…

Heaven's Light

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The northern lights, or Aurora Borealis, offer an entrancing, dramatic, magical display that leaves a person speechless and in awe. It is a natural phenomenon that is created when particles escape from dark, cooler regions on the sun's surface, hurling particles of plasma, known as solar wind, into space. It takes these winds around 40 hours to reach Earth. When they do, they can cause these dramatic light displays.

In full disclosure, I am still waiting to see this spectacle in person. The silhouette of the Moab desert region is mine, taken in the summer of 2017, but the heavenly light display was added using editing software. Nevertheless, I have experienced the Light that shines brightly in darkness -- Jesus.

When Jesus spoke to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)
And because I have received the light of his salvation, I do not face this dark and troublesome world with fea…

Be Still My Soul

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Are you a praying person or do you find the busyness of the day so consuming that you find little time to think, much less earnestly pray. Because of this hectic lifestyle we might carve out time to talk to God, but do we give Him the same privilege to speak back into our lives?

Too often we only look for and cry out to God in the log jams, turmoil, chaos and uncertainties of life... and He assuredly is there to walk beside us, but it is in my stillness that I hear Him most clearly.

“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” ~Psalm 46:10

Nature is a great place to commune with God, but all He really needs is a quiet place in your heart where you allow Him to be exalted. If He is Lord and the love of your life then don't you think He deserves time with you today? Be still... and know God.

Bear Lake
Rocky Mountain National Park
Colorado

Shaping Character

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Definition of "character" - the aggregate of features and traits that form the individual nature of some person or thing.

I look at this scene and the word that comes to mind is "character." Each of the Red Rock formations around Sedona, Arizona seem to take on a life of their own. Each one shaped and formed over millennia. They have endured countless attacks by natural phenomenon over time, and as you look at them now you can only appreciate the beauty in their ruggedness.

The Apostle Paul wrote "but we glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; and our perseverance [produces] character." (Romans 5:3-4)

Just as this landscape has suffered the ravages of time and natural elements, and persevered -- standing while all else around eroded away to dust -- the end result was a "character" that continues to be shaped even today.

And so it is with us. Our trials result in the ability to persevere which in turn builds a r…

Living in Yesterday's Tomorrow

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You are living today in yesterday's future. Is it what you expected?

The PAST is behind you. If does not define who you are. It might have shaped perspectives and produced certain character qualities, but what you do with them is your choice; you control your attitudes and actions/reactions.

Dwelling on things that you cannot change will only create bitterness and regret in you -- and maybe even hatred, greed and anger. What you are doing with your NOW is what's important. Consider carefully how it will make a difference in your FUTURE and that of others.

A key to this transformation of mind and will does not reside within the power of one's own self, but in the reality that God is sovereign, and He desires to make all things new -- not from the outside in, but from the inside out.

So realize that even if your current journey is taking you through the desert, God can and will make a way, and in the process He'll satisfy your thirsty soul. Trust Him and follow His lead.

&quo…

Siloed

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A grain silo is a structure created to store materials in bulk. They are usually tall and cylindrical, but can also be constructed in the form of warehouses or domes. They primarily hold grain, seed, or silage, fodder that is harvested green and then stored and left to ferment. This fodder is then used to feed livestock or as a biofuel, and is usually grass, alfalfa, sorghum, oats, or maize.

You may recognize this famous pair of siloes as part of MAGNOLIA in Waco, TX where Chip and Joanna Gaines have set up a bakery and home accessory store. We did not have a look inside the siloes but I imagine they are now filled with special "finds" for decorating rather than grass or grain.

There is another use of the word "siloed" as it relates to people. Unfortunately, to be siloed means that you are isolated in your work or personal life such that you seldom interact cooperatively with others -- the whole universe revolves around you, your business, your health, your success,…

Overflowing with Thankfulness

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I have so much to be thankful for. It seems a shame that our hearts generally turn toward a greater gratitude only once a year at Thanksgiving. I am thankful for a wife who loves me and puts up with me, three wonderful adult children and their spouses, and six precious grandchildren. I am thankful for a full belly today and everyday. I am thankful for friends and followers, mentors and ministers who pour into me regularly.

Most of all I am thankful for the forgiveness and acceptance I have received from my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I am thankful that I do not take this journey alone but that my life is firmly rooted in a foundation of faith. Therefore, on this day and everyday I will choose to overflow with thankfulness.

"So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness." (Colossians 2:6-7)

Reagan Tub Mill
Roaring Fork Motor …

Cords of Strength

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Bridges come in various designs depending on when they were built, for what purpose they were built, and over what span they are built. This one in Waco, TX employs steel girders along with suspension cables to support the road deck. But why have both?

Suspension cables add strength and improves reliability because the failure of a few flawed strands in the hundreds used pose very little threat of failure, whereas a single bad link or eyebar can cause failure of an entire bridge.

The idea of strength in numbers is not a new concept. In the Bible, King Solomon wrote, "A threefold cord is not quickly broken." (Ecclesiastes 4:12b)

Where many are together and unified, there is strength, power, surety, and accountability. This is true whether you are talking about the steel cords wrapped to form cables in a suspension bridge or in the unified power and consistency of people who work together for a common purpose.

The writer of the book of Hebrews in the Bible talks of the import…

The Balancing Act

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Balance is an art that usually goes unnoticed until you meet that special someone who seems to have their act together completely. The truth is, even that person probably has a difficult time maintaining a balance in their life as work, relationships, struggles, disappointments, heartache, etc. erode away at what you consider the base of their good standing.

Those who know me very well realize that my life is often a transition from one excess to another -- too much photography, too much ice cream (just kidding; that's not possible), too much dieting, too much music, too much Facebook, too much work...and the list goes on. And as you might guess, it frequently leads to burnout. All these things (and you know your excesses) deteriorate that which keeps us standing strong just as wind, rain and temperature affect this landmark.

Yes, excesses can wear you down, but there are excesses the Bible describes which will help you maintain and keep that balanced life. Check it out.

Rejoice alwa…

When Gray Clouds Come

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Even a peachy day can have it's gray cloud moments. Have you experienced that? Everything was going YOUR WAY, then life got "real" and stuff started going all wrong in a hurry.

When the storm clouds gather, remember the words of Solomon.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.

(Proverbs 3:5-6)
We can't always understand the "why" about things in our life but we can be certain about the "Who" that will straighten everything out if we trust in Him. God is faithful. He will never forsake those who seek Him.
The Psalmist wrote, "Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you." (Psalm 9:10)
And perhaps that storm cloud and ensuing rain is really all for God's purpose and your good. The Apostle Paul reminds us...
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for t…

Everything for a Reason

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Everything for a reason? Well, consider the dragonfly and some interesting facts you may not know.
There are currently about 5000 species of dragonflies and damselflies are known; experts guess that there are probably between 5500 and 6500 species in total. 
It is estimated that the top speed for a dragonfly is between 19 to 38 mph. The bigger dragonflies generally flying faster than smaller ones.
Their wings beat about 30 times per second (compared to bees, for example, at 300 beats per second) because they have two sets of wings. 
A dragonfly can see all the way around itself, because its eyes have about 30,000 lenses.

Isn't it amazing that so many different dragonflies and damselflies exist -- all different sizes, colors and adapting to different environments? The ability to see 360 degrees means you won't sneak up on one. And if you do, then they can fly away very fast.
So, why would God make such a unique creature? I guess that could be asked concerning human beings too. Why a…

I Go to the Rock

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Many of us find strength in close relationships with friends and family, while others seek out that healing place in nature. Me? Certainly that is true of me as well, but first I go to THE ROCK of my salvation -- to the Lord God Almighty. I am driven to Him with a compulsion because of the love He has for me and the provision He has continually shown me.

He is the Rock, His works are perfect, and all His ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is He. (Deuteronomy 32:4)

God is faithful and true. I can trust Him, not only with my eternity but also with my hear-and-now.

To you, Lord, I call; You are my Rock. (Psalm 28:1a)

You may have those who are your "rock" in times of trouble but I can assure you that there is no Rock like our God.

“There is no one holy like the Lord; there is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God. (1 Samuel 2:2)

Arches National Park
Moab, UTAH

Cloud Surfing

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People look into the sky and see many familiar shapes and images as they view the clouds. I tend to see them a little differently... even with hope and anticipation.

As the clouds billow and gather, I can't help but wonder if this could be THE DAY. You see, the Bible points to a scene like this and Jesus Himself talked about His return as One who will be coming on the "clouds on heaven."

Mark 14:61-62
Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?” “I am,” said Jesus. “And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

What a grand entrance that will be as Jesus breaks through the clouds in His triumphant and trumpet announced return. Are you prepared for Messiah's coming? The Apostle Paul wrote:

We urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain. For he says, “In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.” I tell you, now is the time of Go…

People Living in Glass Houses

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People living in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. This current day proverb is generally associated with hypocrisy. In other words, if your house is built on untruths or you are living a less than perfect life (that includes all of us) then we ought not be casting judgment on others -- pointing out their frailties, short-comings, accidents or mistakes.

Jesus said judgment is reciprocal... it will come back to haunt you:

“Stop judging so that you will not be judged. Otherwise, you will be judged by the same standard you use to judge others. The standards you use for others will be applied to you." (Matthew 7:1-2)

We should be less aware of the faults of others and pay more attention to our own. How foolish to be talking about someones toy boat sinking when you are behind the wheel of the Titanic. Jesus said it this way...

So why do you see the piece of sawdust in another believer’s eye and not notice the wooden beam in your own eye? How can you say to another believer, ‘Let me …

Puddling Frenzy

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As I photographed butterflies along the roadside in Cades Cove I noticed that many were so caught up in feasting on salts and nutrients in the soil that they were oblivious to my presence beside them or either just did not care. And from the looks of it some were not aware that very large vehicles were also using the road but for an entirely different purpose. Yes, some became roadkill because of their focus on the immediate gratification found in the road.

Perhaps this is a good lesson for us as well to be observant of our surroundings particularly when we are indulging in the goodness of life. Jesus spoke of a day coming that would be similar to the days of Noah -- people indulged heavily in life and neglected the Lord (sounds like today, doesn't it?). He said that is when He would be returning.

“But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For…

Beautifully Invasive

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Originally from China, the Mimosa or Silk tree was introduced to the United States in 1745 and cultivated since the 18th century primarily for use as an ornamental. Mimosa remains a popular ornamental because of its fragrant and showy flowers. Due to its ability to grow and reproduce along roadways and disturbed areas, and its tendency to readily establish after escaping from cultivation, mimosa is considered a Category II invasive by Florida’s Exotic Pest Plant Council. (https://plants.ifas.ufl.edu/plant-directory/albizia-julibrissin/)

Perhaps you've lived where mimosa trees reproduce in great abundance. They seem to spring up everywhere in spring and you'll find yourself constantly pulling them up by the roots or spraying them with a weed killer, just to do it again the following year. If untreated or permitted to grow they will quickly take over a landscape. They are drought tolerant, can grow in sun or shade to 20-25 feet wide and 30-40 feet tall, and are cold hardy to -10 …

Consider the Lilies

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A daylily is a perennial flowering plant in the genus Hemerocallis. The name Hemerocallis comes from the Greek words (hēmera) "day" and (kalos) "beautiful". The flowers typically last no more than 24 hours. Most species open in early morning and wither during the following night.

Jesus often spoke to His disciples using examples they would understand. In the lesson below He talked about the lilies of the field as they relate to our relationship with God. The context is about being anxious. I'll bet you're no stranger to this either.

And [Jesus] said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing." (Luke 12:22-23)

Before continuing, does this strike a chord with you? Have you ever fretted over what MIGHT happen tomorrow, what you'll eat for your next meal, or what clothes you should wear? For some peopl…

In His Hand

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[Jesus said...] "I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand." (John 10:28-29)

How gently yet firmly this person held onto the hummingbird while it was being tagged. This reminds me of a parent who gently but firmly grasps the hand of a young child while crossing the street or walking through a store. No good parent would ever want any harm to come to their precious boy or girl. There are dangers in the street. There are people who cannot be trusted in the stores. Evil lurks in the hearts of those who will snatch a child from the loving arms of a parent, but this is not possible while being held in the hands of a loving heavenly Father and Savior.

Not only that, but when you become a part of God's family through faith in Jesus Christ you are "tagged" (sealed or marked) with the Holy Spirit. …

Life is Short. Live it!

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I am reminded every day about how short life can be, how uncertainties can change the whole course of the next week or the rest of your life.

Often times we plan, save, work hard, prepare for the future... and all the while we have no guarantee of another breath. You may live to be 35, 55, 85 or even 105 but compared to eternity it's just a puff of smoke in time that is here one moment and gone the next.

So, how should I live my life? Live it like it's your last... live it now... in the present... not for what you hope it will be one day.

Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. (James 4:13-14)

And make sure you are right with God! You never know when you'll meet your Maker face-to-face. Make each day count for something. Make each day count for someon…

God is in the Details

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You have probably heard it said that the devil is in the details. Of course, this simply means that the real work is found in the fine points, technicalities and specifics. It's less difficult to cast the vision than it is to carry it out, particularly if the visionary provides no help with the "how to" of it.

Moses writes in the book of Genesis, "The Lord saw how evil humans had become on the earth. All day long their deepest thoughts were nothing but evil. The Lord was sorry that he had made humans on the earth, and he was heartbroken." (Genesis 6:5-6) So, God made a plan for a do-over.

[God] said, “I will wipe off the face of the earth these humans that I created. I will wipe out not only humans, but also domestic animals, crawling animals, and birds. I’m sorry that I made them.” But the Lord was pleased with Noah. (Genesis 6:7-8)

What was it about Noah that was so different than the rest of the world's inhabitants? Noah had God’s approval and was a man of …

Purpose Lost in Particulars

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I stopped for the barn, but it was the sky that took my breath away. Have you noticed how easy it is to become so singularly focused that you miss the blessings and amazing things going on around you? Yes, I was barn hunting on this day in Kentucky and finding that next barn was on my radar. It wasn't until I pulled that telephoto lens in from 250mm to an 18mm wide angle that I really saw the beauty surrounding me.

We get wrapped up in the details of life and forget to step back and look at the big picture. Perhaps it's time to stop what you're doing for just a moment and consider where God has been at work in and around you, and ponder what He is trying to teach you in your day to day routines, struggles and victories. Don't let your focus hinder God's bigger vision! Don't lose sight of His purpose in the particulars.

The Bible says, "For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose." (Philippians 2:13)
You realize …

Nomadic

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Nomadic: living the life of a nomad. 

Nomad: a person having no permanent abode, and who travels from place to place.

Peter referred to believers as "foreigners and exiles" in 1 Peter 2:11 and indeed we are a nomadic people who travel from place to place but whose permanent dwelling is not to be found until we arrive in our eternal home.

For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. (Hebrews 13:14)

Jesus said that He is "preparing a place for us" (John 14:1-3) and that we should not be troubled about the future. Instead, we should seek after Him and the things associated with His kingdom.

But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. (Philippians 3:20)

As Christians, we live in an evil and corrupt world. We were all well acquainted with this world's culture at one time but now have become strangers, foreigners and aliens to it. We are in God's family and God's household and we anxiously wait …