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Showing posts from June, 2019

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…