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Showing posts from 2019

The Great Deception

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Not everybody trusts paintings but people believe photographs.” – Ansel Adams

Well, even the famous Ansel Adams magically tweaked his photographs. The photo you see here was actually taken during the day and I added the night sky and mood in order to bring a sense of realism.

You shouldn't believe everything you see any more than you should believe everything you read.

Jesus said to them: "Watch out that no one deceives you." (Mark 13:5)

For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. (Mark 13:22)

Even Christians can be deceived/fooled if they are not regularly in God's Word, studying together with other believers, and having an active part in a faith community. If you don't know the Word then you will fall for smooth talking, false teachings that will lead you astray and far from God's will.

How can you know deceptive words. The last book of the Bible gives us the answer in a warning.

I warn e…

Run, Forrest, Run!

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If you saw the movie Forrest Gump then you'll remember the scene where young Forrest is being taunted and chased by bullies and he takes off running, freeing himself from the literal shackles of medical equipment that was attached to his legs.

When we were in Yellowstone National Park in 2011 we were photographing this grizzly when a loud noise spooked it from a time of quiet grazing and digging... and it ran. I had never seen a grizzly run so fast. You can see the dirt and mud flying up behind this bear. It's not a great shot because I was not prepared to shoot at that speed, but you get the point -- this bear was hauling!

Like Forrest Gump and this grizzly, there ought to be things in our life from which we hit the gas and fling mud behind us as we high-tail it out of sight. In the New Testament we read:

Flee from sexual immorality. (1 Corinthians 6:18)

Flee from idolatry. (1 Corinthian 10:14)

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil... flee from all this. (1 Timoth…

Don't be a Grouse!

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God adorned this grouse with the perfect camouflage for hiding among the grasses in Yellowstone to evade detection from predators. We too can find ourselves looking like our environment, our culture, our coworkers and neighbors. As Christians we can look just like everyone else and go undetected as being "different." However, God did not save you to go into hiding. He desires for you to be witnesses of His saving grace.

The King James Version Bible translation reads:

But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. (1 Peter 2:9)

Peculiar might have some negative connotations, but in actuality it means "a people for God's own possession, dedicated, consecrated, a purchased people, or people who belong to God." Christians are not like everyone else. We are special and set apart and ought to live like it, showing forth pr…

Be Wise

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For thousands of years, from Ancient Greek legend to modern literature and TV, humans have portrayed owls as sage and wise. The wise owl appears in everything from The Iliad to Winnie the Pooh. But, it turns out, though they’re excellent hunters, owls probably aren’t any smarter than a lot of other birds.

Many people consider themselves wise in their own eyes or according to the world's standards, but God's ways are much higher. In fact, one must acknowledge their total lack of understanding before they can become teachable by God and truly wise. The Bible tells us:

Do not deceive yourselves. If any of you think you are wise by the standards of this age, you should become “fools” so that you may become wise. (1 Corinthians 3:18)

So, what does it mean to be wise? How do I live as a wise person?

1. First, know and do that which is good. A bank teller can quickly detect a counterfeit bill, not because they've studied bad currency but because they authentically know the real dea…

Arguing with God

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I encountered this unique moment in Yellowstone a few years ago with a hawk and eagle flying together. Believe it or not, there are two verses in the Bible (also together) that mention these two beautiful birds, and they were spoken by God to a man named Job, and He begins with the question...

"Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorant words? Brace yourself like a man, because I have some questions for you, and you must answer them." (Job 38:2-3)

When God tells you to brace yourself like a man, you can bet He's going to speak hard truth into your life. And it should be understood upfront that you will NOT win an argument with God. Job was in a very bad place in his life and questioned God's wisdom and actions, so God began to ask Job many questions for which he had no answers, including the following...

"Is it your wisdom that makes the hawk soar and spread its wings toward the south? Is it at your command that the eagle rises to the heights to make …

The Path with a Heavenly View

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The path leading up to Trout Lake is short but very steep. Between the high elevation and arduous incline, it's difficult to make it to this body of water without a rest stop or two. But once you arrive, the path around the lake is a scenic wonder. And it your timing is just right, perhaps you'll see some otters dining on freshly caught trout.

There is only one path that will take you to this heavenly location. Likewise, there is only one path that will take you to heaven.

Show me the right path, O Lord. (Psalm 25:4)

And in case you need further assistance getting started on that right path, Jesus said...

"I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through Me." (John 14:6)

Trout Lake
Yellowstone National Park

On Wings Like Eagles

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We find encouragement in God's promise to us that those who trust in God, young or old, will find NEW strength and enable us to keep the course laid out before us. It is not a physical strength of and by ourselves but rather measured out generously by the everlasting Creator of all the earth.

Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding. He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. 

Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:28-31)

Are you soaring like an eagle or strutting like a turkey? If you're strutting like you're something, then one day you will become weak, tired, exhausted and powerless. Trust in the Lo…

Turning the World Upside Down

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There are a lot of confused people in this world who are convinced that right is wrong and wrong is right. Their vision of truth is blurred. If that's the case then we ought to be more like Paul and Silas... people who were seen as turning the world upside down.

"These who have turned the world upside down have come here too." (Acts 17:6)

Although the above statement was intended to be a derogatory remark about these two Christian missionary preachers, I'm sure for them it was a badge of honor. And we too ought to be accused of turning the world upside down for Jesus. Why? Because there will never be a time when sin is okay with God. His truth should be in your heart, on your lips and in your actions so that people see that the world they're living in is already upside down. We're just here to help people flip their thoughts back to right side up.

Are You in a Jam?

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If you live in Atlanta (like I do) or another urban area, then you are quite familiar with traffic jams. In the Smokies I have often been in bear jams and deer jams. Pictured here you have a log jam after high water in Yellowstone National Park.

Sometimes you may also encounter "jams" in your personal life where a relationship is not developing as you had hoped or maybe you're in a career where you don't seem to be getting anywhere or advancing as you dreamed. Time certainly changes our perspective as we look back and see where it was favorable that we were in a holding pattern. God works things out like that for our good and His glory... although we might not always see His hand at the time.

There is another area of your life that you might not think about often with regard to jams and that is your personal spiritual growth. Is it stifled right now? Not growing? Are your prayers bouncing off the ceiling and you feel like you're in a dry spell? There's good n…

Living and Thriving in the Heat

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Most organisms can only survive in certain environments. While one may be able to survive extreme cold, another may be able to withstand life deep underwater. Yet another may thrive in a very hot environment. The bacteria in Yellowstone are accustomed to the heat of the water, but at varying levels of comfort. You'll note the varieties of bacterial growth by their color - blue fades into green into yellow, orange, red and then brown.

As LiveScience explains: In the orange band, which is a "cool" 149 degrees F, you’d find Synechococcus and Chloroflexus bacteria (which also contain both chlorophyll, for photosynthesis, and the carrot-colored carotenoids).

God created this bacteria to live and thrive in these extreme temperatures. He created you to live and thrive too where you are. Unfortunately many people are just getting by or trying to survive.

From the Psalmist we learn that thriving isn't about WHAT you have but rather WHO you have.

You have given me greater joy…

Milk is for Babies

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This bison calf is doing what calves are supposed to do... drink milk. How absurd would it be for a full-grown bison to still be living off of mother's milk? Crazy, right?

The writer of the book of Hebrews in the Bible warns that we should "grow up" as Christians and mature from drinking milk to eating solid foods. He is not talking about literal food but about spiritual food. We should read, study and learn God's Word so that we will not be deceived by false teaching and lies from other sources. See below...

"You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God’s word. You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food. For someone who lives on milk is still an infant and doesn’t know how to do what is right. Solid food is for those who are mature, who through training have the skill to recognize the difference between right and wrong." (Hebrews 5:12-14)

Ba…

Predator and Prey

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Some of you may get a little squeamish at a sight like this, but in Yellowstone the animals all realize they are either predator or prey. And that status can change one moment to another depending on their size, speed, agility, and persistence.

This harsh reality is not limited to the animal kingdom because if you look closely you'll see this to be true of many human beings... although it's debatable whether their actions are indeed humane. The TV news reports a continuous cycle of greed, murder, abuse, neglect, suffering and violence.

Why do people act like that? Because it's in our nature -- well, our old nature... the one we were born with. Paul, to the church in Ephesus, wrote...

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desir…

Rooted in the Rock

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You can't help but be amazed at the sight of a tree growing out of a rock. I image the day when that seed found its way into a crevice of that lava rock boulder. After a little rain, a little sunshine, and a lot of persistence, roots appeared and began making their way into that hard surface. Trees mature slowly in Yellowstone because of a limited growing season and harsh winter conditions, so the skinny evergreen on the right could be decades old. Who knows? The point is, it stands tall... firmly rooted and established securely in the rock.

As Christians, we too mature at different rates depending on our environment and influences, but we all have one thing in common -- we are rooted in the Rock of our Salvation (Jesus Christ) in whom we can have full confidence and faith.

Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith. (Colossians 2:6-7)

‘You are my Father, my God, and the Rock of my salvation.’ (Psalm 89:…

The Fire Inside

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It was late May and Yellowstone Lake in the background was finally beginning to unthaw. However, a thick layer of ice still covered much of it. Yellowstone temperatures remain in negative territory for much of the winter season. Yet, this colorful pool and the surrounding area are free of snow because the water bubbling up from deep in the ground is super-heated by a dome of magma a few miles beneath the surface.

Unlike the lake just 100 feet away, this water is not affected by its environment -- it boils year round because of where it is fueled. There is a spiritual truth I think we can learn from this hot spring and it's that we do not have to be influenced by the world around us if we are fueled by the Holy Spirit of God. If we are fired up for Jesus then this cold world will not influence our behavior, attitudes, passions and actions.

How is this possible?

"Because greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world." (1 John 4:4)

Yes, Jesus has overcome Satan …

Is Your Terrace Active or Dry?

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Minerva Spring is a favorite for Yellowstone visitors not only because of its wide range of bright colors but also for its ornate travertine formations. Since the 1890s, when records were first kept on the activity of Mammoth Hot Springs, Minerva has gone through both active and inactive periods. For several years in the early 1900s, it was completely dry, but by 1951 Minerva was again active.

During some cycles of activity, water discharge and mineral deposits have been so great that boardwalks have been buried beneath mounds of newly deposited travertine. In recent years, hot spring activity has shifted dramatically from Minerva to other features on the Lower Terraces, and back again.

Just like Minerva Terrace, our spiritual lives can be both dry or flourishing. We enthusiastically embrace those seasons when God is working in and around us. We celebrate as others benefit from God's spring of living water pouring out from us. But then there are those dry spells when we wonder if …

Faith From the Fire

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At Yellowstone each year, the rain and melted snow seeps into the earth. Cold to begin with, the water is quickly warmed by heat radiating from a partially molten magma chamber deep underground.

After moving throughout this underwater “plumbing” system, the now hot water rises up through a system of small fissures. Here it also interacts with hot gases charged with carbon dioxide rising up from the magma chamber. As some of the carbon dioxide is dissolved in the hot water, a weak, carbonic acid solution is formed.

In the Mammoth area, the hot, acidic solution dissolves large quantities of limestone on its way up through the rock layers to the hot springs on the surface. Above ground and exposed to the air, some of the carbon dioxide escapes from the solution. Without it, the dissolved limestone can’t remain in the solution, so it re-forms into a solid mineral. This white, chalky mineral is deposited as the travertine that forms the terraces. (From https://www.yellowstonepark.com/thing…

Light at the End

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We've all heard the phrase "light at the end of the tunnel." The Cambridge Dictionary defines it as signs of improvement in a situation that has been bad for a long time, or signs that a long and difficult piece of work is almost finished.

I have been thinking about difficult life situations that many friends have gone through or are going through right now. My wife and I are not unfamiliar with tunnels either. The thing that separates those who face life's trials with negativity, despair and darkness versus positivity, hope and light is a little thing called faith. Now, before you get on my cast because I used the word "little" with regard to faith, let me remind you of Jesus' words.

"Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matthew 17:20)

Now let me ask you a question with regard to what Jesus said... how much fai…

The Last Will Be First

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If you grew up when I did, the caboose was a common sight. Cabooses were located at the end of a freight train and provided shelter for the conductor and crew who were needed for switching and shunting, keeping a lookout for load shifting, damage to equipment and cargo, and overheating axles. This crew was very valuable to the engineer who was at the head of the train prior to days of automated switching and electronic sensors.

Nowadays you'll find these rail cars prominently displayed in small towns and shopping centers across the country. Most are for show only, but others have been converted for use as restaurants and sleeping accommodations.

Thinking of things that were last, I was reminded of a story in the gospels where Jesus' disciples were arguing over who among them was the "greatest." Jesus knew what they had been talking about and proceeded to tell them...

“Whoever wants to be the most important must make others more important than themselves. They must se…

Calm in Choas

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The river is rushing. The waters are hazardous... even life-threatening. Yet, just feet away is a calm pool of still water.

When you feel like you're trapped in a whirlpool of chaos, realize even then you can find a calm place. It's not in the situation but in the Savior that you can find peace and rest.

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
~1 Peter 5:7

Jesus said, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." ~Matthew 11:28

Why would you ever want to take on the worries and frustrations of the world alone when Jesus has offered to come beside you and carry that load for you? 

Little Pigeon River
Greenbrier, Great Smoky Mountains

When Rivers Rise, Head to Higher Ground

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For the most part, the rivers and streams in the Smokies are flowing gently downhill with the occasional rapids, cascades and waterfalls but when the skies open up and the rain falls hard it's a completely different story. The sound of rushing water fills the valleys and dirt, rocks, trees, and debris are heaved out of the way or carried downstream. The beauty gives way to a beast!

Fortunately, life gives us more calm than flood, but where do you escape when things are bad? Where do you go to find refuge and help? Well, I personally run to higher ground where God is waiting for me. The Bible tells us...

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. ~Psalm 46:1

But not only is God there for me when times are bad, He is also with me constantly -- giving me what I need to make it through each day.

Surely God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me. ~Psalm 54:4

Why does God offer ME help? The same reason He is there for you too -- because He loves us!

Help me, …

Seeing Right Through

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Typically I do not like to photograph a building straight-on like this. Generally the structure will lack a sense of depth and dimension as a result. However, I liked that the two open doors allowed me to see all the way through from front to back, and there were enough foreground lines and background scenery to keep it interesting.

This photo also brings to mind a sense of vulnerability as anyone can clearly see into and through this home. I believe God wants us to be like this house where the doors to our heart are wide open, and who we are on the inside is clearly revealed to the outside world.

A year ago, a woman who I've never met accused me openly on Facebook of being a fake Christian. I have no idea where that came from but I was blocked from her page so that I could neither see nor respond to the post. I will admit that I've made my share of blunders and will continue to either say or do the wrong thing at times, but my spirit ached to know that someone considered me les…

Free, But Not Really

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This is Charlie... not a great picture of Charlie, but I think the message will still resonate. For years we kept Charlie and Hershey in crates while we went to work or were otherwise away from the house. This wasn't because Charlie was mischievous, but Hershey was known to get into trouble if you weren't paying close attention to her.

Hershey got cancer this past December and we had to make the unfortunate but appropriately difficult decision to put her to sleep because of her pain. She and Charlie were 12 years old and had been together for 11.5 years. Knowing that Charlie was not one to be destructive, we immediately started leaving his crate door open 24 hours a day. However, Charlie was used to being in his crate. It was a place of comfort, safety and rest. He now has free roam of the house yet Charlie still chooses to spend most of his waking and sleeping hours in his crate. He chooses to remain caged when he is in fact completely free.

Where am I going with this? I beli…

What Do Others See?

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What do you see?

I see clouds reflected in the lake, forming what looks like a giant arrow.

I hear in my heart a message to reflect the person of Christ in my life so that I point others to Him.

Proverbs 27:19 reads, "As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart."

It's not so much what I see but it's what others see that really matters. I pray what is reflected through me is the Jesus people need to see.

Yellowstone Lake
Yellowstone National Park

Hot & Cold Running Water

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Hot, steamy pools of water spring from the ground and cold, clear rivers flow down mountains from melting snow. This is Yellowstone. The extremes are what make it fascinating.

Lukewarm is not nearly as desirable. You don't want to bathe in lukewarm water... you want it hot and relaxing. You don't want to drink lukewarm water... you want it cold and refreshing.

Jesus spoke to the members of the church in Laodicea and said they were like lukewarm water. Their lifestyle disgusted Christ because they were neither a source of comfort or refreshment to others. Revelation 3:14-16 reads...

To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:
These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.


The verses that follow suggest that the people in this city were wealthy with …

Guardrails

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Have you ever allowed words to come out of your mouth that you immediately regretted saying? I have. How do we keep that from happening? We ask the Lord to help us keep our mouths shut when they ought to be and open when the timing is right.

Set a guard over my mouth, Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips. (Psalm 141:3)

The words that come from our lips and our social media posts should be edifying to others and glorifying to our God. We have been entrusted with the gospel truth. Allow the Holy Spirit to guide your speech and guard your heart.

Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us. (2 Timothy 1:14)

Photo from the Blue Ridge Parkway

Rainy Days

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If you think every day is "picture perfect" for me, then you would be sadly mistaken. I'm sure you can say the same thing about many of your days. But while the weather or other circumstances may not go as we hope, we can rest assured that there is not one moment that slips by that God is not aware of in advance and He is there to walk through it with you.

As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.” (2 Corinthians 6:16) 

Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you. (Psalm 9:10)

Photo from the Blue Ridge Parkway

Jesus Take the Wheel

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As you journey through life, realize that sometimes the road is wet and contains dangerous curves. Carrie Underwood made famous the song "Jesus Take the Wheel" and it's because we don't let Him have the wheel in the first place that we find ourselves spiraling out of control.

Proverbs 3:5-6 instructs us to:

"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."

God should never be your co-pilot. He should always be sitting in the driver's seat because He can be trusted wholeheartedly wherever that road may lead. So, lean not on your own understanding and submit to Him. He knows the road because He is The Way (John 14:6). 

Photo from the Blue Ridge Parkway

Standing for Generations

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Something about this scene made me pull over for a photo. I wasn't sure why at the time but the Lord has recently made it clear. And I ask you the same thing that has come to my heart:

When you're gone from this earth, will people remember WHERE you stood, for WHAT you stood, and for WHOM you stood?

God instructs us through the Bible to:

Stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. ~1 Corinthian 15:58

Stand firm, and you will win life. ~Luke 21:19

Your sitting down doesn't make a difference. Your laying down doesn't change a thing. May your standing up for Jesus Christ in this life be the legacy that is remembered for generations to come. 

Photo from the Blue Ridge Parkway

Humble Beginnings for a King

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The "King of Rock and Roll" was born in this tiny house in Tupelo, MS. Yes, this is the birthplace of Elvis Presley where he grew up prior to his family packing up for Memphis. These were indeed very humble beginnings for one who would enjoy great popularity and live lavishly in his adult years.

There was One however who was King of kings but demonstrated the greatest of humility by stepping out of His place of honor to be born in a stable and live among mankind -- even giving up His very life for others.

Philippians 2:6-11 tells us about Jesus' life from riches to rags to riches again.

[Jesus] who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.

And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him t…

The Narrow Road

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I'll choose the narrow road any day over the broad road.

[Jesus said...] "Broad is the road that leads to destruction... and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it." ~Matthew 7:13-14

Some say taking the narrow road is being narrow-minded. And I would respond by saying "Yes it is!"

Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." ~John 14:6

I would rather be on the narrow road with a narrow mindset than to lose my way, my life and my salvation. I found Jesus and I am walking that path with Him daily and plan to do so for eternity. Have you? 

Greenbrier Rd
Great Smoky Mountains National Park

First Impressions

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Driving through the town of Bostwick, GA, from one direction you will notice the storefront of a building that is no longer occupied, but driving in from the other direction one will certainly notice that the building is merely an empty three-sided shell.

Too often we are deceived by outward appearances. You may THINK you know something about someone based on their appearance or their actions but you can be completely wrong. We are often cautioned to not judge a book by its cover, and that is wise advice.

As Samuel was asked of God to anoint a new king, he was sure he had seen king potential in several of Jesse's sons but it wasn't until a little boy named David was brought to him that God indicated His choice. We read the following...

"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)

So, while you may not have super powers that allow you to examine a person's heart and motives…

One Person Can Make a Difference

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Barn quilts can be viewed on homes, buildings, and of course barns all across the United States. They are obviously not made of fabric, but rather wood, and designed with a number of various geometric shapes.

The concept of barn quilts began with Donna Sue Groves and her wish to honor her mother, Maxine, and her Appalachian heritage by having a painted quilt hung on her barn in Adams County, Ohio.

While barn quilts may seem to have been around for a long time, it was 2001 when the first one was designed and hung for passersby to appreciate. Now there are over 7000 across the U.S. that can be seen on scenic barn quilt routes.

One person can certainly make a difference. Donna Sue Groves began a craze that now seems so familiar... and even expected as you drive through the country. This is just one example of the influence an individual can have on a community, a state and a nation.

You can be just as influential. You don't have to be as creative as Donna Sue... you can just be you. Ma…

Sixty Step and Climbing

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I graduated to the 60's this year. I'm not sure how I got there because it seems like yesterday that I was rock climbing in Illinois, white water canoeing in Arkansas, caving in Kentucky, running in Tennessee and other fond memories of my "youth."

However, I have come to realize that each year that has passed is like another step up in maturity, wisdom, faith and steadfast endurance. Like this picture, I realize that I do not know what is around the corner or even how far those steps will ascend but I do know where they will end... at the throne room of God Almighty in heaven.

The steps seem to be getting closer together yet harder to climb at the same time, but I am smart enough to know that life is a marathon and not a sprint. I feel like there is still so much more to do for Jesus and so much more to contribute to my growing family. Unlike my mother who went to be with Jesus at my present age, I earnestly desire the energy, health and stamina to keep living, serv…

A Back Porch View of Life

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As I looked up upon this picture I started thinking about living life with only a back porch view. Now, if this was your actual back porch then I would have to admit that your view of the world isn't bad at all, but for most of us it would be a bit more bland.

From the front porch of this cabin you see life from a different perspective. The road is just up the hill and thousands of people pass by every day. You don't see that from the back porch where all you see is God's beautiful creation.

The front porch is where you see people in a hurry to move on down the road. Some are just sightseeing without a clue. Some are having a good day and others are having the worst day of their life. The front porch is where you have a chance to give a friendly wave, interact with people, hear their stories and share life.

We are instructed by God to live life with others in fellowship, service and love. You don't do that from the back porch -- you've got to put yourself out front…

The Path of Life, Joy and Pleasure

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While it is quite possible to experience great joy driving a mountain road in Autumn, the feelings are only temporary. However, there is a path that leads to pleasure everlasting. Where is it? The Psalmist knew! He found it in a personal relationship with God.

Psalm 16:11
You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail
Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Contentment

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When driving down Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail you will experience pure nature. Yes, there are a few hiking trails along the road where you will find vehicles parked in every available pull-off. However, it is the trees and flowers and birds and bears that capture my attention in mountain forests once farmed and hunted on by early pioneers.

There are still reminders of those settlers and the homes in which they lived and raised their families. Looking back, I suppose we would call their day-to-day labors and trials difficult at best compared to the luxuries we enjoy today, but I imagine these families were quite content in their mountain paradise.

Contentment is found when one accepts their place in life regardless of their circumstances. This state of mind is most commonly associated with those who have trusted in the Lord for all they have and all they need.

The Apostle Paul is a prime example of a life that endured tremendous hardship yet managed a spirit of contentment. Take n…

Strength and Peace

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Uncontrollable circumstances can often leave you numb as your world spins in directions you never imagined. They leave you feeling weak, helpless, undervalued and worried. All of that is certainly understandable as you try to handle life on our own. But, we were not designed to handle such stress personally and individually. The Psalmist wrote:

The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace. (Psalm 29:11)

God provides strength when you are physically, emotionally, psychologically and spiritually weak. He gives you peace even in the midst of chaos. Jesus told His disciples:

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." (John 14:27)

We associate peace with a sense a calmness like the still waters pictured here, but it's when the waves are crashing in on us that we truly know whether Christ's peace indwells us. True peace comes from what's in…

Reminders and Promises

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Just as the rainbow is a reminder of God's faithfulness and salvation, the blood moon is a reminder to me of His judgement and second coming. I love the verse that follows the one in the picture:

And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. (Acts 2:21)

Yes, Jesus is coming again just as surely as He came 2000 years ago. He is patiently waiting for people to turn their hearts to him in repentance and faith. He wants no one to perish or be eternally separated from Him... so He waits.

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)

So as you observe the occasional blood moon, remember the Lord and His promise to come again. Your eternal security and home in heaven is but a call away... no cell phone required.

Spilling Over

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Water represents life. Clean, fresh water is necessary for all living things to survive. But there's a difference between living and surviving. Surviving implies that you are barely getting by. Real living implies a fullness, satisfaction and contentment.

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

Jesus will fill you with hope, joy and peace to the point that it spills out onto others. Not because of who you are but because of who lives IN you.

Romans 15:13
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

STOP - Proceed with Caution

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Choices... sometimes I feel like my head is spinning from all the decisions I must make in a day's time. Some are as simple as which clothes I will wear or foods I will eat, but sometimes they have larger implications to family, co-workers and career. Do I stop, go, charge recklessly on, proceed with caution?

Moses offered the people of Israel the following as they entered the Promised Land that God was giving them.

"This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to Him." (Deuteronomy 30:19-20)

Each of us has a Promised Land called Heaven that is ours if we choose life by following the Lord, listening to Him and being obedient to His desires for us. But, just as was offered the Israelite people, we can also choose cursing, death and eternal separation from God…

When Rocks Open

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When you feel like you're in a desert, desperately thirsty, and in need of that refreshing flow, God will split rocks open for you that you may be revived and restored.

Isaiah 48:21
They did not thirst when He led them through the deserts; He made water flow for them from the rock; He split the rock and water gushed out.

So go to The Rock!

Psalm 18:2
The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

Hitch your Wagon to a Star

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According to many word experts, the expression "hitch your wagon to a star" was used by famous American writer Ralph Waldo Emerson in 1862 in his essay “American Civilization.” Hitch means to join or attach. Wagon we know is a vehicle of transport that takes you from one place to another. Star is symbolic of something that is high and you aspire to reach. Hence if you set high goals for yourself and are really motivated to do something great then you are “hitching your wagon to a star.”

The Apostle Paul had a great and high goal as recorded in the book of Philippians. He had already been a successful Jewish religious leader. He had already achieved great success as a missionary and church planter. He was well respected by some and hated by others, but certainly had built a reputation for himself in many countries. But he desired more -- to be the person Jesus wanted him to be. Nothing more and nothing less. Look at his writings below:

Not that I have already obtained all this,…

Before It's Too Late

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This is a photo of Graveyard Fields in mid September. Fall begins here on the Blue Ridge Parkway near Asheville, NC and then extends north and south. If you arrive in mid to late October you will see only brown, crunchy leaves scattered on the ground and bare trees. The end of September is probably peak for this one location while all else around remains green.

Seeing this reminded me that we need to experience and enjoy life to the fullest while God gives us the capacity to do so. While you may plan for a future of travel and endless adventures in retirement, there is no guarantee you even have one more day on this earth.

Look at the words of Solomon...

There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God, for apart from Him who can eat or who can have enjoyment? (Ecclesiastes 2:24-25)

If you work hard for a living then you ought to enjoy the fruits of your labor by taking time along life's jo…

Signs of the Times

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It is now officially Autumn, whether it feels like it our not where you live. This photo was taken a couple of days ago on the Blue Ridge Parkway and while the mountains are still mostly green there are signs that fall color is coming.

The Bible also talks about signs of a coming... that of Jesus. Yes, I know you've probably heard it all your life that Jesus' return is eminent or that we are living in the last days, but while His return has not yet happened we are confident that each day's passing brings us closer to His promised coming. Whether that happens in your lifetime or not is up to God and no one really knows when it will occur apart from God, regardless of what the TV or radio host may tell you.

Jesus instructed us to be aware of certain things as His time drew near including wars, rumors of wars, an increase in knowledge, the ability for all people to hear the gospel (consider radio, TV, internet), famine, earthquakes, a cashless society, violence, sexual immorali…

Move Like Water

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Water doesn't care if obstacles find their way into its path. It just finds a way around them, over them, under them and sometimes even through them. Be like water and don't allow today's obstacles to be a deterrent in moving on with life. You can find your strength to do so in Christ Jesus.

‘For in Him we LIVE and MOVE and have our being.’
(Acts 17:28)

Patient Endurance

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Water does not typically carve out a hole this size in a matter of hours, days, weeks, months or a few short years. Yet, bit by bit, little by little, the stone has been chipped away. This is an example of patient endurance.

Patient endurance is a quality that we obtain through God's strength. We certainly need it because sometimes this road of life is long and full of hazards and immense stress. Patient endurance pleases God, bears witness of His goodness, helps us to show kindness, and makes it possible to joyfully give thanks in all things.

Patient endurance helps us as we await that eternal inheritance in heaven one day. So, no matter what you are facing today please know that there is a far greater blessing waiting on us one day that cannot compare with even your very best day ever here on earth.

Paul writes, "Live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power a…

Be a Reflector

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It doesn't take you being a priest, pastor or missionary to reflect God's glory to the world. If my car window can do it then surely we (who were created in His image) can certainly do likewise and much, much more!

Matthew 5:16
Jesus said, "Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven."

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Fences of Protection

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The fence in this picture looks almost like a corral. If this had been present in the day this church was active then it might have made a good place for the small children to play and be safely protected from dirt-slingin', wild-hoofin' horse-drawn wagons.

Most probably it was put there to keep vehicles from parking on the grass though. With pullover space a premium at times, people get very creative in their parking and too often it damages the environment.

The Bible gives us fences in the way of laws or commandments that are not meant to infringe upon our fun or freedom but to protect us from this fast-paced, dirt-slingin' secular society whose ethics and morals are quite contrary to God's desire for His children. These teachings also keep us from doing harm to ourselves and others. Fences are good for most of us who have a tendency for pushing boundaries.

Observe how the Psalmist felt about God's precepts (rules, directions, commandments)...

The precepts of the Lo…

The Narrow Lane

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If you've traveled the gravel roads in Cades Cove you know too well that these lanes are better suited for one-way traffic than for two. They are very narrow. But those of us who love the Cove would not want it any other way.

Jesus said, "Broad is the road that leads to destruction."~Matthew 7:13

Most people believe that the wide road with many lanes and higher speed limits is the way to go. Interstate highways were constructed for this purpose... to move the masses. Surely, if everyone else is choosing that route or the GPS sends you that way then it must be right! Or is it?

There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death. ~Proverbs 14:12

Just because everyone else is doing it doesn't mean it's right. Just because most people accept that there are many lanes to heaven does not make it so.

Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." ~John 14:6

Biblical teaching and thinking…