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Showing posts from April, 2019

The Harmony of Diversity

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Each year we celebrate the diversity of shapes and myriad of colors that adorn the trees across our Autumn landscape. Should we not also celebrate the unique shapes and colors of the human race as we are all part of that very same landscape?

Some of our differences will certainly always divide, but as for the children of God... well, there's no excuse for not finding that common ground on which we can all agree and live harmoniously. Where might that be? --In the throne room of God at the feet of Jesus our Lord and Savior.

The Apostle John wrote in Revelation 7:9-10 about a day when people of every tribe, every tongue and every nation will stand before the throne of God in worship, and with a unified voice proclaim His greatness. As John was given the great privilege of getting a sneak peak into heaven, this is what he saw...

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the t…

Be a Son Follower

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The name sunflower comes from the Greek words helios "sun" and anthos "flower." Sunflower got its name because the flowers turn toward the sun. How are sunflowers able to track the sun?

There is a collection of specialized cells at the base of the flower bud called a pulvinus that carry the "motor" cells that enable the flower to track the sun. These cells enlarge or shrink according the pressure from the water inside them. In response to blue wavelength light, potassium ion concentration increases in the "motor" cells on the shadow side of the pulvinus. With the increase of potassium ions the osmotic potential in the cells becomes more negative and the cells absorb more water and elongate, turning the face of the flower to the sun. (From Wildflower.org)

That is pretty amazing, isn't it?! I learned something new today. I'm certain this was a great scientific discovery at some point but God created this marvelous plant to behave this way in…

Let There Be Light

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In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. (Genesis 1:1-4a)

Light IS good! Without light we stumble in the darkness, helpless to find our way. I've read stories of people lost in caves for days without light. They lost all sense of time. Their minds played tricks on them. Since moving in total darkness could have resulted in even more danger, in all accounts the people stayed put where they were.

King Solomon wrote, "The way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know over what they stumble." (Proverbs 4:19)

If you find yourself either trapped in a life of dark hopelessness or stumbling in the little light of understanding that you do have, then please know that help is not only on the way... help has already come. …

Free to Fly

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Have you ever wondered what it would be like to fly? When I was a young boy I often had dreams of flying like Superman. Just imagine the freedom to float almost effortlessly, weightlessly in the air. Yet, the life of a butterfly is not without risks because it is considered a tasty delicacy to birds, reptiles and spiders.

The life of the butterfly makes me think of our life in Christ. In the Bible we read, "For freedom Christ has set us free." (Galatians 5:1)

We are free to live in the presence and power of the Almighty God who made us. Free to love Him and others unconditionally. Free to not sin but enjoy life to its fullest with joy and peace. Yet, in that freedom we must be very careful because there are traps that will ensnare us and potentially destroy us.

John tells us about three of those snares:
1) the desires of the flesh,
2) the desires of the eyes and
3) the pride of life. (1 John 2:16)

In the new found life and freedom to experience the world as God planned for us we ca…

Sometimes Life Just Stinks

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Let's be real and honest, okay? Not everything that happens in your life feels good. Not everything that happens in your life is pleasant. We suffer pain physically, emotionally, financially and yes, even spiritually. Like this bug pictured here, sometimes life just stinks when we are crushed! There are so many times we want to just ask God, "WHY ME???"

But then the answer comes...

And we KNOW that for those who LOVE God allthings work together for GOOD, for those who are CALLED according to his PURPOSE. ~Romans 8:28

So, we must take a step back and thank God even for those things and times that just plain stink, because we can know for certain that ALL things (good, bad, happy, sad) are for GOOD (maybe not ours, but maybe for someone else's), because God has a plan and a purpose that He will accomplish through those who are His children (the "called").

So, amen and thank you Jesus for ALL THINGS. You are good and You are God. You are Lord and I am not. May You…

Unfinished

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While in the sunflower fields last year I was drawn so many times to the plants that were still in the process of opening. Yes, I considered them beautiful in their own right, but yet they had not fulfilled their full potential.

Maybe I was drawn to them because they reminded me of myself. Of one thing I am certain and it's that God is not finished with me yet -- I am a work in progress.

Ephesians 2:10 reads, "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them."

Being who God created me to be is my lifelong goal and it won't be until after I've passed beyond this life that His creation (me) will be complete. Until then, I may appear a bit "unfinished" but rest assured that I am fine with that as long as I keep opening up to be who God wants me to be.

Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you (and me) will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. (P…

The Actor

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Seeing the reenactment of a Civil War battle is a fascinating experience. If done well it is also very moving to the soul as one recalls the massive loss of life and the larger effect this particular war had on the entire nation.

A number of different things might come to mind when we hear the word hypocrite. Maybe it’s a politician caught in a scandal; maybe it’s a religious leader doing something counter to their creed; maybe it’s a scheming and conniving character featured in soap operas. But it’s likely that the one thing that doesn’t come to mind is the theater or actors.

The word hypocrite ultimately came into English from the Greek word hypokrites, which means “an actor” or “a stage player.” This Greek word took on an extended meaning to refer to any person who was wearing a figurative mask and pretending to be someone or something they were not.

Jesus had a lot to say about people who pretended to be religious but were instead just "wearing a mask" to disguise their tru…

Nature's Proclamation of Passion

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Passion is often associated with any powerful or compelling emotion or feeling, such as love or hate, but it began with a much different meaning in the 12th and 13th centuries. It implied suffering, enduring, hurt, misery, woe. It was used in reference to the sufferings of Christ on the cross.

In the 15th and 16th centuries, Spanish Christian missionaries adopted the unique physical structures of this plant as symbols of the last days of Jesus and especially his crucifixion:
The 10 petals and sepals represent the 10 apostles who forsook their Master and fled, omitting Judas the traitor, and John who remained with Mary at the cross.The flower’s radial filaments, which can number more than a hundred and vary from flower to flower, represent the crown of thorns.The chalice-shaped ovary with its receptacle represents a hammer or the cup used at the last supperThe 3 stigmata represent the 3 nails and the 5 anthers below them the 5 wounds (four by the nails and one by the lance).The blue and …

Foggy Days

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Upon arriving at the Biltmore House on our September 2018 visit we were greeted with a heavy fog. In fact, as our bus made its way up the driveway we could not even see the magnificent mansion until we were right in front of it.

I photographed this tree while waiting on the shuttle bus in the parking lot. Fog creates an ethereal feel to a picture. It almost become unreal or other-worldly. You see in part, but not the whole.

Sometimes we might admit to being in a fog because we just don't have a clue where we are, what we're doing, or where we're going. If we're patient though, the fog will lift and everything becomes clear around us.

The Bible relates our earthly existence to a foggy mirror in which we see in part but cannot fully comprehend God's plan and hand in our lives until it is fully revealed in heaven. So until that day comes, we trust Jesus to guide us because He alone sees the road mapped out before us.

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face…

Declaration of Glory

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Psalm 19:1-4
The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.


And, like the heavens above, I choose to proclaim openly the greatness of our God and His extraordinary goodness toward man. You might not be able to literally hear the mountain's call or heaven's whisper, yet I am pierced by the reality of God's presence whenever I am surrounded by the beauty of His creation -- it speaks volumes to me of His glorious nature.

It Just Makes Sense

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This is a photograph of Skyline Arch in Arches National Park (Moab, UT). It's an arch. It can be seen along the skyline from many points in the park. Hey, the name makes sense, right?

Do you know what else makes sense? 
How much God loves you and me. 
We read in Romans 8:38-39...

"For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Unlike this arch, you don't have to look toward the skyline to find God, because He is as close as your very heartbeat. Nothing in all creation can separate you from our loving God except YOU -- you choosing not to receive His free gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ. 
So, my question to you is if you have not already done so, then why not receive Jesus now? It just makes sense!

Balance

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Without the proper foundation underneath and the correct balance on top, this giant boulder would surely come toppling over. Likewise, if we are not resting on a solid foundation and experiencing balance in our lives then the result can be a devastating fall. What do I mean?

Well, we need balance between the different aspects of our lives: a) Psychological, b) Social, c) Spiritual, d) Physical and e) Vocational.

When we give way too much attention to one dimension over the others then we have a tendency to live lopsided and dysfunctional lives. Consider a person who spends ALL their time in social media apps and never gets outside to work or exercise. Consider one who constantly works at building up muscles in the gym but never feeds his or her mind with mentally stimulating ideas. Consider the person who pours over God's Word daily but seldom ever puts any of what they learn to practice in the world.

Balance keeps us upright. Balance keeps us from crushing others when we fall. And w…

Gracefully Living and Dying

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Some may look at this scene and just see an old, dead tree. But I see beauty in the twisted, gnarled, hard wood of this desert plant. In its prime it had a whole different "personality" which may have provided a resting place or a nesting place for animals. In its decay it will provide nutrients back into the parched ground.

One of the things I realize as I age is that God has a unique purpose for me even if I stand alone in the wilderness -- unnoticed by the crowd. Perhaps, through His providential plan, I will make a positive difference in someone's journey while I am yet in my prime, but I pray that the influence will go on even after the life inside of me has departed.

So while I can, I want others to share in the beauty I see as I photograph the masterpieces of God's creation. And even if there is no fame, there is still One who knows my name... and that's more than enough for me.

[Jesus said] "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be…

Metamorphosis

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METAMORPHOSIS: A profound change in form from one stage to the next in the life history of an organism, as from the caterpillar to the pupa and from the pupa to the adult butterfly.

Transformation is God's will for His children -- conformity is not. As followers of Christ we are to become more like Him and less like the rest of the world. So, stretch those wings and quit crawling on your bellies. You were created for more!

Romans 12:2
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed (Greek: Metamorphoo) by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Melting Mountains

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It doesn't happen overnight. It might not even be noticeable over a human lifetime. But these mountains of rock are slowing melting/eroding back into the soil from which they arose.

"Nothing lasts forever but the earth and sky" were lyrics from the 70's song Dust in the Wind by Kansas, but even that is inaccurate because there is nothing that last forever but one thing according to Scripture -- the Word of God.

"The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever." ~Isaiah 40:8

So, enjoy the temporary things of this world while they last, but don't hold onto them too tightly. Instead, put your hope and trust in the only thing that is permanent -- God's truth.

Photo taken at Arches National Park, Moab, UT

A God of Second Chances

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Have you ever wondered why God seems slow toward judging those who are causing harm in this world? Or why He doesn't send down a lightning bolt to take out those who treat you with contempt or abuse? Or why He doesn't just send Jesus back today to gather His children to glory with all the anger expressed toward people professing faith in Christ?

I guess it's for the same reason that God looks down on us without taking us to the barn with a hickory stick every time we sin or disobey His will. If we think we are any more just or righteous than the most vile terrorist then we are fooling ourselves. We place levels or degrees on sin, but it was for even the smallest "indiscretion" that sent God's Son to the cross.

Therefore, when I read the following verse, it is with great joy that I serve a God of second chances... whose love far exceeds my comprehension... whose grace has saved me, forgiven me, and has made me a child of His.

The LORD is compassionate and graciou…

Bridging the Gap

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Bridges have been built for centuries to provide man and beast a way to cross over a gap or treacherous condition. They have been constructed of rope, cable, wood, concrete, steel and the combination of those. The purpose has always been for a safe passage from one side to the other.

While man has been quite successful at building incredible structures to bridge gaps both deep and wide, there is one that remained impossible to build. It was the bridge needed to connect sinful man to a holy God. BUT THEN JESUS... 
Yes, Jesus reconciled us or bridged that gap for us by His death on a cross. Jesus is the way/the bridge, and faith is the vehicle that takes us across from death to life. 
Romans 5:10
For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, [then how] much more, having been reconciled, will we be saved by His life!

Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of wor…

Perfect Timing

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PERFECT TIMING...

Yes, that's what you call it when you climb all those stairs to get a higher vantage point for a shot of the Biltmore House in Asheville, NC and up drive three new cars (a Camaro, Mustang and Corvette) for a photo opp by their owners. Well, I couldn't resist getting a shot too.

The Bible talks about perfect timing too. God doesn't do anything haphazardly or carelessly. There is a plan and purpose for His timing. For instance, after 1000's of years of mankind living on earth in sin and struggling to follow the Law and Commandments, at just the right time He sent Jesus.

"But when the right time came, God sent his Son... God sent him to buy freedom for us... so that He could adopt us as His very own children." (Galatians 4:4-5) "You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly." (Romans 5:6)

Perhaps it was due to the timing of the Roman Empire when roads and ships could take people almost anywhere…

Put Away Your Sword

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Sometimes we just need to put our weapons away. We are frequently our own worst enemy. Rather than destroying one another, we should seek opportunities to overwhelm one another with acts of love and words of affirmation.

For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another. (Galatians 5:14-15)

"Love" is the motivation behind how God desires for us to treat one another. So put away those swords (words) that pierce the soul and guns (actions) that wound the human spirit. Instead, offer an open heart, open hand, open ear and open mind to someone in need of God's love. Be the difference in someone's life today.

A Black & White World

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I just had to try this image in black and white. You know, it amazes me how beautiful an image can be and how much more one tends to focus their attention on the various tones and details when a scene is portrayed in black and white.

We live in a world of black and white as well, but sometimes the details on which we focus prevent us from appreciating the subtle and often distinct tonal qualities associated with our cultures, traditions and lifestyles which were intended to join us together in a beautiful tapestry of humanity.

Here's the truth according to scripture. Mankind -- red and yellow, black, brown and white -- were ALL created in the image of God and came from the same genetic lineage. It was God's plan for us to live in harmony with Him and with each other. He didn't create us to focus on the differences, but join our hearts, minds and spirits in unity to praise God and live for His glory in joyful relationship with one another.

Not convinced? Then check out some of…

Brand New Creation

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Do you want to make something brand new of yourself? Sorry, not going to happen in your own strength. Self improvement has its limitations. You might get thinner, get a diploma or surgically change your appearance but you will still be the same person on the inside. A paint job alone is not the same as a complete overhaul.

But, if you give yourself to God (the Master body shop mechanic), He will will take that old, rusty, bent up and shattered life and make it brand new -- and even WAY BETTER than the original model. He will start from the inside out and make you a brand new creation!!!

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! (2 Corinthians 5:17)
The key is found in those two words "in Christ." Only God has the power to create something brand new, and new life only comes from abiding in the One who is the Way, the Truth and the Life (see John 14:6).

Looking for Answers?

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In some cultures, the wind, which causes the Aspen's leaves to rustle, is often thought to be the voice of the beyond. Some people believe the leaves of the Aspen speak to them in a distinctive voice even in the gentlest of breezes, and that if they listen patiently and carefully, the answer to life's mysteries will be revealed to them.

Well, while Aspens may be treasured for the calming melody they create when the wind causes them to flutter, I doubt you will find too many of life's difficult questions answered by them.

There is only one place for life's answers. Jesus said, "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened." (Matthew 7:7-8)

Ask the Son of God rather than Mother Earth when you need real answers.

Aspen Trees
Rocky Mountain National Park