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Showing posts from 2019

Where is Your Worship?

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You shall worship no other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God. (Exodus 34:14)

I can't help but think about all the idols and gods we serve each day. What are you talking about, Bryan? I'm referring to all those things that take priority in our daily lives over our relationship with God.

Consider all the time you spend watching TV, surfing the internet, playing with cellphone apps, exercising, trying to get ahead in life, and working overtime to make even more money. Think of the "investments" you've made in the stock market, houses, cars, cameras, big boy toys, etc.

Next, consider the amount of time and energy spent in prayer, worship, Bible study, serving others, and quiet time with God. We learn in God's word that He is jealous for our time and attention. He desires an intimate relationship with you and me.

You can call Him Lord, but it doesn't mean a thing if your walk doesn't match your talk. Yes, I'm convicted too. As we …

When There Seems to Be No Way

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I like shooting bridges. I guess there's just something about crossing over from one side to another that reminds me of the challenges we encounter daily and the many ways God graciously provides to get over them.

So we have a choice when we experience difficulties. We can dwell on the PROBLEM or we can dwell on the PROVIDER.

In the book written the the Christians living in Philippi, Paul wrote "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God." (Philippians 4:6)

Look at those encouraging words more closely:
* Do not be anxious about ANYTHING.
* Pray and give thanks in EVERYTHING.

That's the key. Pray more. Worry less. Don Moen wrote a song years ago that has ministered to countless lives, written during a very difficult time in his family:

God will make a way
Where there seems to be no way
He works in ways we cannot see
He will make a way for me
He will be my guide
Hold me closely to His side

Deceptive Beauty

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My eyes and attention were drawn to the colorful display before me, but as appealing as it looked I knew better than to touch it... for this pretty plant is poison!

The world offers a great deal of temptation that is very appealing on the outside, but will poison your life with disappointment, pain and brokenness. It might not impact you immediately, but eventually you will suffer the results.

Satan is the father of lies and wants you to believe left is right, down is up, and wrong is right. Jesus' way is truth and life.

People say, "Three leaves, let it be." Those are good words to follow. God has a whole book of wisdom waiting for you to learn from so that you are not poisoned...it's called the Bible. Read it and take heed.

Charred Chimneys

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Unfortunately, the Chimney Tops resemble their namesake. The devastating fires that engulfed that area have left a very noticeable scar. However, the surrounding forests now abound with life and color. I would not have believed this sight today after witnessing the effects following this tragic event just a couple of years ago.

When you think about it, there are instances in our lives where we've come through the fire (metaphorically) and we still have the scars to prove it, but God is restoring and renewing you in ways you could not have imaged. Whether the pain is physical, emotional, psychological, or spiritual, of one thing I am completely certain, God will NEVER leave you nor forsake you. He is with you and He loves you. The pain is real and the scars may remain, but afterwards I pray they will be a reminder of His faithfulness as He walked through the fire by your side.

Deuteronomy 31:8
"It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; He will not leave you or fors…

Paths

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As you begin to ponder the depth of this scene, you soon realize how easily one could get lost in the vastness of the trees and rolling mountains if you got off a designated path or trail.

My advice and caution to you is to stay on the designated path as you venture into unfamiliar territory. Follow the Lord as He walks before you and do not get sidetracked by distractions that lead you into the deep woods where you can easily lose your way.

Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. (Proverbs 4:26)

Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love. (Ephesians 5:1-2a)

Covering Scars

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A highlight of our fall trip to the Smokies each year is photographing from the Campbell Overlook as the color abounds from the parking area all the way up Mt. LeConte. However, since last year's fire the mountain is not the same -- huge scars appear on the ridge lines where no vegetation has yet appeared due to the extreme nature of the burn.

That is not what we saw on this day though. God made a covering for those scars and only allowed us the privilege of seeing the beauty that He prepared for our eyes. The areas which have caused sorrow and sadness were enveloped in a cloud.

Healing is that way too. When after a time of processing whatever trauma or pain has come into your life, the beauty and wonder of God's presence becomes more apparent as the "burn" ceases to be the center of your life and you begin to see His grace all around.

God's words to Paul also ring true for us, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corin…

The Spring House

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A source of fresh, clean water was vital to the life of early settlers in the Blue Ridge Mountains. In the 18th and 19th centuries they were a part of the rural landscape. They were a good way to keep the water pure and provided natural refrigeration. On the hottest day in the summer spring water remained at a temperature of about 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Ledges were built into the spring house along with places to hang meat, vegetables, and fruit for cold storage.

As Jesus spoke to a Samaritan woman at Jacob's well, He told her, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life." (John 4:13-14)

When you receive Jesus into your life, you drink in living water that completely satisfies your thirst for spiritual fulfillment. As a result, YOU become a spring house of that living water for sharing with others who are desp…

A Safe, Sturdy and Secure Crossing

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This is the new bridge constructed after raging waters shredded the previous one. We trust bridges to keep us safe for hazardous crossings. Some are more secure than others. Many people mistakenly put their faith in bridges that are shaky and untrustworthy and they do not make it to the other side. Am I talking about a bridge like the one pictured? Well, maybe... but you know I have a spiritual perspective I'd like to weave into this narrative.

There are thousands of religions in the world and the people following them for the most part hope their faith will get them safely from this side of eternity to the other. But they can't ALL be right. Sadly, people will stake their eternal destiny in a man who is dead and buried, a myth or fable, a force, in ancestors, in stars and planets, in idols and statues, etc. There is only one true and living bridge that will provide safe passage from earth to heaven and that is the risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He said, "I am the way…

Take Me Home

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"Take Me Home, Country Roads" is a song co-written and sung by John Denver with those unforgettable lyrics:

Almost heaven, West Virginia,
Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah River.
Life is old there, older than the trees,
younger than the mountains, blowing like a breeze.
Country roads, take me home to the place I belong.
West Virginia, mountain mamma,
take me home, country roads.

I love the Smoky Mountains and I love Cades Cove. I have wondered what it would have been like living there 100 years ago. I still dream of this area being the place of my retirement.

Nevertheless, whether I remain in GA, or move to NC or TN, I realize that this is really not my home. I am but a sojourner in a foreign land. You see, my home is in heaven and there is no country road that that take me there -- only the blood-bathed path that led to Calvary.

The writer of Hebrews tells us, "This world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come." ~Hebrews 13:14

Paul wrote, &quo…

A Solitary Leaf

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I have a tendency to look at the "big picture" when shooting nature because that's what a landscape photographer does. However, there is something very special about the uniqueness of the smaller individual subject as well -- in this case, the Maple leaf.

When you think about it, the "big picture" landscape really is composed of a large number of uniquely designed smaller parts fitted together perfectly for their environment. There is tremendous beauty in this location with the tumbling cascades, big rocks and colorful trees, but just as extraordinary is this one exquisitely vibrant leaf.

We should never forget that concept when we look at the crowds that make up the human race. We have a tendency to label and profile certain groups based on where they live, the jobs they work, the language they speak, the color of their skin or hair, the cars they drive, the tattoos they wear, and so on and so on. Yet, these large groups are made up of uniquely created beings wi…

The Difference One Week Will Make

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Did you miss the fall color in the Smokies last year? Well, I wouldn't be surprised. Check out these two photos. Both were taken from the same spot (2nd overlook on Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail) just ONE WEEK APART. Yes, you heard that right. And I imagine that 2 or 3 days after my last shot that this scene was nearly all brown.

Fall color was spectacular despite initial predictions but short-lived this year. As is usually the case, timing is very important. In fact, the old saying is that "timing is everything."

In the Bible, we read the words of King Solomon regarding a time and season for everything that takes place.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
1 There is a time for everything,
   and a season for every activity under the heavens:
2 a time to be born and a time to die,
   a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
   a time to tear down and a time to build,
4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
   a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5 a time to scatter …

Like the Morning Fog

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As the morning light filled the fog-blanketed valley of Cades Cove, one could not help but observe and soak in its marvelous beauty. As we drove around photographing this spectacle of nature, we realized that it would last but a short time because that warm sunlight was burning off that layer of spirited moisture in the air so we needed to get all the photos in that we could.

James was inspired to write, "How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone." ~James 4:14

Just as we sensed an urgency to make the most of every moment that we had with the fog, we also ought to make the most out of every moment and opportunity we are given to demonstrate love for our Lord and our neighbor. Worry less about tomorrow and concentrate on the here-and-now and those whom God places in our path -- for tomorrow never comes and opportunities to be a blessing slip away as quickly as the morning fog.

Bare Before the Light

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As the sun rose into the sky on this Cades Cove morning and the fog presented this photographer with a filtered glow of light through the valley, it became very apparent that some of the trees had already parted ways with their covering. This tree in particular stood in the field, alone, naked, and exposed for all the world to see.

This scene brings to mind that all things are exposed before our God. There is nothing that is hidden. He knows all, sees all, and hears all. He even knows our thoughts. We may be good at hiding a dark side of our character from other people, but our indiscretions are well known by our Creator, Lord and Sovereign God...the One to whom we are ultimately accountable.

The writer of Hebrews tells us, "Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable." ~Hebrews 4:13

So, live your life like an open book. Be authentic. Let goodness and godliness guide your thoughts, wor…

Words to Guide

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How does one put a smile on their face as they get ready for a new work week? How does one prepare to go meet a physician after a frightening diagnosis? How does one cope with living in a world where evil can expose itself at any time? How does one intentionally choose to make a positive difference in another person's life? How does one know for certain that they can spend eternity in heaven?

The answers to these questions and so many more are found in the power of the words found in this book. It's not just any ordinary book. These are God's instructions and love letter to humanity. These words were not just intended for people living thousands of years ago or the small community living within the western North Carolina Cataloochee Valley, but for you and me as well. These words are living and life-changing.

What is God saying to you? If you're not hearing from Him then you are not reading His Word.

Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path. ~Psalm 119…

Don't Miss a Blessing

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Okay, here it is... I got the cliché shot. Dawn, fog, bare tree limbs, gravel road leading off into the fading distance, fence line, mountain just visible in the background. Yep, Sparks Lane in Cades Cove. You've seen it a thousand times... or have you?

Photographers are often guilty of quickly shooting the familiar image then moving on to the next spot without even considering the unique and special qualities presented on that day; a gift of subtleties never to occur in nature exactly like this again.

Admit it, this is true about how you read God's Holy Word at times as well. You quickly read over verses so familiar that you can quote them with one hand tied behind your back. Yet, in doing so you fail to absorb the truth that God wants to reveal to you today.

Oh, that we would be like the prophet Jeremiah who wrote, "When I discovered Your words, I devoured them. They are my joy and my heart’s delight." ~Jeremiah 15:16

Don't miss a blessing in your hurry to finish a…

The Overcoming Light

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I can't tell you how my heart began to beat wildly as I came upon this scene. As the sun rose in Cades Cove it streamed powerfully and beautifully through the trees, encompassing the Missionary Baptist Church.

The church, God's children, may be light/influence/God's ambassadors in the world, but He is most certainly THE LIGHT that scatters darkness and transforms the hearts of men. Darkness has no power over light. John, the beloved disciple, wrote...

In the beginning, the Word existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. Through Him all things were made, and apart from Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life, and that life brought light to humanity. And the light shines on in the darkness, and the darkness has never put it out. ~John 1:1-5

May the One (Jesus) who has existed from the beginning, who made all things, who is the giver of life, illuminate you with His truth and grace today. Amen!

Cades Cove
Missionary…

Coverings

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This big, beautiful tree is found in Pigeon Forge, TN across from the Old Mill. All summer long it has provided shade for passersby as well as those waiting outside for a seat to be available at local restaurants. Often times there are people gathered in seats under this majestic specimen listening to people playing music and singing.

But, as you can see, the leaves are changing color from green to yellow and orange. Soon they will fall off as the winter season arrives, but then the shade will no longer be needed for it will be cold and people will instead seek the warmth of the sun rather an escape into the shade.

It reminds me of God's grace. It is sufficient for every occasion and covers me when I need it the most. And all I need to do is ask.

The writer of Hebrews says, "So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most." ~Hebrews 4:16

There are many in Texas and all over mourn…

A Bridge Crossing

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What a gorgeous day it was to be photographing autumn splendor! You know, fall is that bridge from summer to winter and it accomplishes that task beautifully, particularly in the Smokies.

There is another bridge that has an even greater significance than this one but it does not span a river, rather a HUGE gorge. That gorge separated sinful man from a holy God, and that bridge was shaped like a cross on which Jesus gave His life. He is the only way (John 14:6) to the Father.

I am grateful for scenes like this that grace our land that help get us from one side to the other safely. I am even more grateful to my Lord and Savior for making it possible for me to travel safely by His grace from this earthly home to my future heavenly home.

Metcalf Bottoms
Great Smoky Mountains

Sunrise Silhouette

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Every sunrise is special, but not every sunrise brings with it all the components for a great photo in Cades Cove. This was a clear-sky morning but there was a nice layer of fog in the valley. As the sun rose over the mountain and flooded Cades Cove, even the silhouette of a bare tree became beautifully illuminated. And since I was the only one standing in that exact spot at the time, the Lord provided it JUST FOR ME.

I am continually amazed at what the Lord reveals to me through nature and His Word. Darwin White, a Facebook friend, says that nature is God's second book (after the Bible, of course) that reveals the character of God. He is Light and He penetrates through the fog that we sometimes find ourselves in. As we lay ourselves bare and exposed to His truth, that light floods over us and around us and through us for His glory.

Cades Cove, GSMNP

Let the Wise Listen

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This spot along Newfound Gap Road near Oconaluftee has always been a magnet for me. In autumn I am particularly drawn to the colors of the overhanging branches and swift flowing water. This, by the way, is the spot where I broke my arm several years ago as Tropical Storm Sandy made her presence known in the Park. You can believe that I do not hop on rocks the way I used to, but I will still get a shot (if only from a little higher than stream level).

Because of that experience in particular, I am much more aware of the ground underneath my feet. I will not admit to always having steady footing, but each step is much more deliberate around wet, rocky surfaces.

Proverbs 1:5 exclaims, "let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance."

I listen a lot more closely to both Sharon and that inner voice of caution nowadays, and will even turn away from a desired photo just because I know it might lead to another fall.

I have learned over the years that …

Don't Judge a Book By It's Cover

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Don't Judge a Book by it's Cover

Upon initial inspection you might conclude that this is one angry bear, but in reality it is merely eating a walnut -- it takes a lot of work to crack open the hard shell even with a bear's powerful jaws.

Samuel was reminded of this by God who said, "The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." (1 Samuel 16:7b)

So next time you see someone whose outward appearance would lead you to believe that they are just plain mean, remember that they might just be going through an experience where a kind word would be more helpful than a judgmental spirit.

From what I saw on the road that day, this black bear was much more patient with the crowd of on-lookers than I would have ever been.

Cades Cove, GSMNP

The Bigger WOW

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There is a lot a light pollution in the eastern U.S. so capturing the Milky Way is difficult at best. You can see it faintly as it rises vertically over the Smoky Mountains in Cades Cove.

The Milky Way is estimated to have between 200-400 billion stars, although the number could be as high as a trillion. Yet, God knows each one by name. It should be no surprise then that this same Creator God knows each one of us by name as well.

Psalm 147:4 reads, "He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name."

I don't know about you but the size of our galaxy alone is enough to be in awe of God, but scientists estimate that there are at least another 200 billion galaxies in our universe. Wow!

This makes me feel really, really small, BUT I am comforted in knowing that this big God cares so much for you and for me that He sent His Son, Jesus, to die for our sins so that we might have a personal relationship with Him. That's an even bigger WOW!

Milky Way Over Cades Co…

A View from Behind

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So, you want to make a living as a wildlife or nature photographer? DON"T COUNT ON IT!

This may sound disheartening to many who, like me, love photography so much that you could see yourself touring the world shooting exotic destinations for National Geographic. Since listening to the pros pour their hearts a couple years ago at the Smoky Mountains Photography Summit, I no longer have this dream. My dream is even bigger.

You see, each of these men -- some with 40 years of great success in photography -- all earn their livelihoods through related or completely unrelated businesses. Most now lead tours, write books, do speaking engagements, and sell a few images. But the competition out there now has made it impossible to rely completely on image sales to make a house payment or even buy a good steak.

So why do they still shoot? --Because they love it. They have all found that shooting for a loving is way better than shooting for a living. They have given their passion some purpose wh…

Displeasing Neglect

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Not a pleasant sight! This once productive gristmill now barely stands on it's own... just a dilapidated shell of what it used to be.

Even the finest house or automobile will eventually return to the earth in a pile of rubble if neglected. What was once valuable becomes worthless. God gives us spiritual gifts, natural abilities and material possessions, not so we can hoard them or hide them, but so we can share them with others. Neglecting to do so is not pleasing to the One who provided you both the resources and opportunities to be a blessing. 

Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. ~Hebrews 13:16

Reminders

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This one image is a compilation of six photos taken at various exposures combined using HDRSoft's Photomatix Pro.

Ideally I would prefer not to see those light bubble flares but I kind of like it with this shot. I hope it's not too distracting. It was a nice end to the evening as we watched the sun set on the horizon between Grandmother and Grandfather Mountains in North Carolina.

As I look back on vacation's past, I am grateful that it's not all about photography (yes, I said that) but it's about the experiences that Sharon and I have along the way. Photography is just a method to capture and re-live those moments. What makes photography so special is that we were there! We were living it. This is not someone else's memory. It was ours.

Thank you Jesus for giving us glimpses of your radiance each day with the rising and setting of the sun, and every moment in between and following. Thank you for being the Rock that is my firm foundation in life. Thank you for bei…

A Proclamation of Glory

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God floods our world with beauty day in and day out. Do everything possible to prevent yourself from getting lost in the ugliness of bad politics, mind games, gossip, lies, corruption, evil, etc. Open your Bible and embrace the truth, peace, love and grace found in Jesus and in His word instead. Open your eyes to the creation that magnifies its Creator.

God has blessed me way more than I could begin to describe and way more than I probably even realize. If all He ever did for me was lay down His life that I might live eternally with Him in heaven, then that certainly would be WAY MORE than I ever deserved.

David wrote, "You have multiplied, O Lord my God, your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us; none can compare with you! I will proclaim and tell of them, yet they are more than can be told." (Psalm 40:5)

Just as the trees shout heavenly praises in their magnificent beauty this time of year, I live to consistently color this black & white world with pictures and word…

Have a Cloudy Day!

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For a photographer there's just something magical about trees in the clouds that captures one's attention. More than magical, it's almost spiritual as I remember the presence of the Lord descending upon the mountain in Moses' day, covering and filling the place with His presence. It was here that God communicated with Moses and shared His heart.

Then Moses went up on the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain. (Exodus 24:15)

It's not hard to experience the Lord in the beauty of His creation. But when the clouds descend, it can be a heavenly experience when you recognize His place on the mountain and in your life. Stop, listen and allow Him to speak to you in those moments.

Holy Spirit, You are welcome here
Come flood this place and fill the atmosphere
Your glory, God, is what our hearts long for
To be overcome by Your presence, Lord

May you have a cloudy day today and know Him who desires to encompass you with His love, grace, beauty and majesty.

Ain't What She Use To Be

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If you travel to Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountains you'll recognize this old wagon from the Cable Mill area. It has been in a sad state of disrepair for some time but I noticed on our last trip how time has really taken its toll. Nature is reclaiming the products from which it was constructed. What a sad ending to a once useful and productive piece of transportation.

Recently in our church Life Group we discussed 2 Peter 1:1-10, but I want to share with you verses 5-8 in particular because they will help you, as a believer, not to become ineffective, useless and unproductive regardless of your age.

"For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love (for all). For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and …

Dawn's Glow

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I don't think I will ever lose the thrill of light like this. 

Jesus said, "I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness." (John 12:46) 

Every morning I am reminded that THE LIGHT that overcomes the darkness is with me and in me... and it warms my soul.

Cades Cove
Great Smoky Mountains

Collective Power

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Just a little rain makes a difference in the streams, creeks and rivers in the Smokies. Take for instance this roadside cascade. The flow pictured is a little more than normal but a couple hours earlier it was one massive powerhouse of fluid energy. The rocks were buried under the H2O droplets collectively gathering and moving down the mountain.

Likewise, there is power and energy in collective and unified hearts in prayer, hands of service, acts of love, words of encouragement and voices of praise. Like a flood, the world could be covered and by the forward movement of God's people energized and moving in and through the Spirit of God to positively impact the planet with good works and Good News.

The Psalmist wrote, "Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together!" (Psalm 34:3)

We magnify the Lord when we glory and exalt His name together. His name is brought to worldwide fame when we all get in the game. We make a greater difference working together than…

Dedication to Our Passions

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This is the Little River at the Townsend Y (where Townsend Entrance Rd, Little River Road and Laurel Creek Rd intersect) in the Smokies. In the summer this area is covered with people floating/tubing downstream. During the other seasons it is prime time for photography, especially at dawn, dusk or cloudy days.

This is an 8 second exposure at f/22 and ISO:100 (with a dark ND filter). It was taken just as the sun had gone down behind the trees and the sky had a soft filtered light.

Light and timing are critical for photographers when capturing an image that leaps off the page or stirs an emotion. It requires long hours of work/play, patience and commitment to their passion. Most do not shoot for money but for personal pleasure and the joy of sharing their experiences with others.

If only each of us who call ourselves a child of the King would be as dedicated to loving our Lord and loving our neighbor as a photographer is to perfecting their craft -- the world would be a much better place t…

The Power of Living Water

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Natural Bridge is a geological formation in Rockbridge County, Virginia, comprising a 215-foot-high natural arch with a span of 90 feet. It is situated within a gorge carved from the surrounding mountainous limestone terrain by Cedar Creek, a small tributary of the James River. Consisting of horizontal limestone strata, Natural Bridge is the remains of the roof of a cave or tunnel through which the Cedar Creek flows.

The power of water to carve through mountains is amazing. While catastrophic flooding can certainly etch huge ditches and canyons into the landscape, the persistent flow of a much milder source can in time have the same results.

I have seen this transforming power in the lives of Christians over the years as well when the "living water" flooded one's soul and dramatically and instantaneously changed them while for others it was a longer, slower process.... both resulting in completely different people than they were before encountering God personally and recei…

The Right Path

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Psalm 25:4
Show me the right path, O Lord;
point out the road for me to follow.

I love forest paths lined with colorful wildflowers or covered in crunchy leaves -- I've just enjoyed several this past week in the Smokies. I also like to drive scenic country roads. Of course, these are my preferences, but what if God points out an Interstate Highway for me to travel...will I listen? Will I go?

Obedience to God is not about my wants but about His desires. The right path may lead into a foggy unknown, or be full of visible roots, rocks and risks. However, if you ask God to guide then you can rest assured that He will not lead you astray and will walk before you preparing the way.

Covered in the Flow

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The rocks are smooth from the constant flow of water over them. The rough edges have been worn down. The resistance is minimal. Rocks and boulders are no match to the power of the flow.
It is amazing the power and affect of H20 in any form (gas, liquid or solid). It changes the landscape dramatically and instantly or slowly but surely.

You too have the power to positively impact and influence the lives of others as surely as water has the ability to change the landscape.

Jesus said, "Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” (John 7:38)

When Jesus fills you up with His Spirit, it is not intended to be bottled up. Rather, His Spirit is to flow generously out from you to others -- making an earthly and eternal difference. May others be covered in the flow that spills forth from you.

Little River
Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Working Toward Completion

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Please be patient. God is not finished with me yet.

It's true... just like this sunflower I am a work in progress. I have not yet attained all that God wants me to be but He patiently works in and through me toward the maturity/completion He desires.

Philippians 1:6 declares, "And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ."

Pioneers

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In the late 1800's, survival in the southern Appalachian Mountains meant living off of the land. Between the mountain ridges, the valleys were much more fertile and better to farm. Wild plants served to cure many of the more common mountain ailments and crops such as corn and sorghum were staples of the people that lived throughout the region. Hogs, sheep, chickens, and some cattle provided food, milk, and eggs. All activities were generally geared toward survival.

While most people are not living a true pioneer life in 21st century America, there are many who still seem to be living in survival mode. This is true of many Christians who choose to exist isolated from the world system in fear and uncertainty because of troubling world events and agendas where it is appears perfectly acceptable to crucify people who openly practice a Bible-believing life. This, however, is not the life Jesus came for.

Jesus said, "The thief [Satan] comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy…

We... Like Leaves

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I can't help but think of our personal existence as I gaze upon the leaves. Some never form due to adverse weather during the early stages, some become food for grazing insects and animals, and others live through their entire life cycle... departing in a blaze of glory. Yet, they all have one thing in common -- none live forever.

Speaking with a friend who had a near-death experience, she said that she never knew what hit her. An unknown and unexpected brain aneurysm hit so suddenly that she immediately passed out. That could very easily have been the day she met the Lord face-to-face. The same is true for each of us in that we have no idea when we will say our last "I love you" or breathe our last on this planet. Physical death is no respecter of persons and can happen to babies, children, teens and adults -- all ages, all levels of fitness.

Here's where I'm going with this and I hope you'll stay with me for a few more moments. If it is certain that we will A…

The Mountain Maker

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Across the landscape as far as you can see, mountain ridges, one after another, like ocean waves. What a beautiful sight first thing in the morning. What a beautiful sight any time, for that matter.

I am blessed beyond measure to call the Mountain Maker my Lord, my Father, my Savior and my God. He is my hope now and for all eternity. And He answers my prayers with awesome deeds. NOTHING is impossible for God.

You answer us with awesome and righteous deeds, God our Savior, the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas, who formed the mountains by your power... (Psalm 65:5-6)

Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Oconaluftee Valley Overlook

Soothing Streams of Life

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In the Smokies high country, over 85" of rain falls on average each year, feeding over 2,100 miles of rushing mountain streams and rivers that flow through the park.

Water is the life-giving flow to plants and animals alike. As a result, both flourish in the Park. The very sound and sight of moving water in the Smokies soothes the soul and spirit.

It should be no surprise that Jesus equates the new life He offers to living water. His invitation to humankind is “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price. (Revelation 22:17)

Are you thirsty for more than what this world offers? Then come and drink from the living water that never runs dry.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Change

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Change is inevitable. Most of us don't like it. We are comfortable with status quo. It's been said that the only ones who like change are babies with dirty diapers, but I can attest that even they pitch a fit when it's time for a change.

However, I can tell you unequivocally (do you like that big word?) that I love the season change from summer to fall -- minus the allergies I suffer during a short period at its onset. The cooler air, the frost, the leaf color, fresh apples, pumpkin pie, and the list goes on.

So, while we may just have to live with the constant ebb and flow of change in our lives, there is one constant that you can depend on... GOD.

Daniel 2:21 reads, "He changes times and seasons" but God Himself declares, "I am the Lord, I change not." (Malachi 3:6)

Why is that a big deal? Because what God says, He will do. His promises are trustworthy. His character is unquestionable. What you read in Scripture is still true today, was true before it was…

Let's Head for the Barn!

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"It's getting late. Let's head to the barn!"

Chances are you've either said that or remember a parent or grandparent urge you to head home once the sun began to set low in the sky.

This is a picture of the cantilever barn in Cades Cove at the Cable Mill area. There are a couple examples of cantilever barns on the 11-mile loop through Cades Cove. While they may take on slightly different shapes, it was a design in which the upper story was larger than its base.

These barns featured an overhang for an upper loft. The lofts were used for storage of hay or other materials and the lower crib areas were where livestock was kept. This design allowed animals, which were normally outside, to stand underneath the overhang in order to get out of the sun or rain. The farm animals resting under the eaves in Cades Cove would have included pigs, hogs, chickens, goats and (in winter) cattle.

So, all in all heading to the barn is not such a bad thing. Animals found a place of food, s…