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Showing posts from September, 2019

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…

If It's Not One Thing Then It's Another

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"IF IT'S NOT ONE THING THEN IT'S ANOTHER..."

Have you ever said that referring to one challenge after another? The couple pictured here emerged out of the fog to find a tree down in their path. Now, in reality neither the fog or fallen tree are true problems but they represent what we often deal with day in and day out. Do you ever get tired of it? I know I do.

One positive to this scenario is that these two individuals have someone with whom they can walk through their "challenges." When you face difficult times, do not retreat and become a hermit. Seek out caring friends and family.

Ecclesiastes 4:12 reads, "A cord of three strands is not quickly broken."

The second positive is that while things may be unclear right now, you can rest assured that in hindsight you'll see why God took you through the fog, and you will recognize His wisdom and purpose in it. He is often building your character to become more Christ-like.

We also glory in our sufferi…

Log Jam or Footbridge?

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Be careful when assessing challenges or obstacles in your life. This fallen tree could easily be perceived as a potential log jam but it could also be utilized as a foot bridge over the river. The very thing we might see as a problem could actually be the solution or answer to another of life's trials. Think on that for a moment!

Look for the Lord in every situation regardless of whether you "feel" good or bad about it. God has a plan and it's our task to join Him in it.

The LORD works out everything to its proper end— even the wicked for a day of disaster. ~Proverbs 16:4

Even when you do not see God at work around you, don't follow what you see or think to be true, but trust what you know about our loving and sovereign God.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. ~Proverbs 3:5-6

He is faithful, and those log jams can most certainly be a foot bridge to the next …

Try Looking Up

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Do you need to feel uplifted? Then start by LOOKING UP!

When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus. (Matthew 17:8)

When your head hangs low from life's difficulties and disappointments, look up and see no one except Jesus. It will change your perspective on your present situation.

The Big Picture

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The mountains don't seem so large from this perspective, do they? Often times we see obstacles and challenges as mountainous in size, but that's because we're looking at them from the valleys we're in. When you get a heavenly perspective then those mountains look more like mole hills.

Jesus said, "all things are possible with God." (Mark 10:27)

Trust God when you're in the valleys because He sees the Big Picture even when you can't.

Let Your Mist be the Most

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The Smoky Mountains were appropriately named. Often times they are enveloped in a misty haze or endless sea of clouds. Whether driving or standing in one spot, you may see the sky and clouds move rapidly with the variable winds.

In the Bible, James asks the question, "What is your life?" He compares it to a mist that appears for a short while and vanishes. We make plans for tomorrow, next week and retirement but the truth is that no one is guaranteed another breath. When photographing the Smokies, one must take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way to shoot that morning fog, evening sunset, deer in the meadow, or fluttering butterfly because it is there one moment and gone the next.

We are reminded in God's Word to take advantage of every moment we live to savor it, use it wisely and give God glory in it. What is your life but a series of uncertain and unexpected seconds that pass like sand through an hour glass? Make every moment count. Do something special f…

There's Light at the End of the Tunnel

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You've heard it repeated that there's a light at the end of the tunnel. Do you want proof? Here are some promises from God.

Isaiah 43:10
Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Romans 8:31
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

Jeremiah 29:11
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

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

1 Corinthians 10:13
Every test that you have experienced is the kind that normally comes to people. But God keeps his promise, and he will not allow you to be tested beyond your power to remain firm; at the time you are put to the test, he will give you the strength to endure it, and so provide you with a way out.

God keeps His promises. You can count on it!

Number 23:19
God is not human, that he sho…

My Rock and Refuge

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Bluemont Presbyterian Church is an historic Presbyterian church located near Fancy Gap, Virginia. It is one of the "six rock churches" founded by Bob Childress. It was built originally in 1920 as a small wood frame building. It features a Gothic style hexagonal bell tower. The natural quartz and quartzite stone facing was added to the frame building in 1946.

Bluemont Presbyterian Church is the largest of the six rock churches. Bluemont derives its name from the abbreviation of the words Blue and Mountain for the Blue Ridge Mountains where it is located. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2007. 

My name is listed on a "register" too. It was included in the Lamb's Book of Life in 1968 when I received the Rock of salvation (Jesus) into my heart and life. And that's way better than a National Historic Register any day!

2 Samuel 22:3
My God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation. He is my stronghold, my…

In the Color and the Clouds

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It had been raining all morning in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. As noon approached, the thick layer of clouds began to break and autumn color became visible in the ridges. It was a beautiful sight, although still dimly lit and only partly visible.

I was thinking this evening about a friend who was grieving the loss of his precious wife and how difficult it must have been to keep from asking God "Why me" or "Why her" and "Why now?" Can I let you in on something? It's okay to ask God those questions.

Then the following verse came to mind:

1 Corinthians 13:12
For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

I am probably taking this way out of context but the Lord spoke to my heart saying, "You don't see everything clearly now. You rejoice in the color and you despair in the clouds, but one day you'll understand everything completely. I know …

Broad Side of a Barn

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You may or may not be familiar with the quote "You couldn't hit the broad side of a barn." This is a reference to very poor aim. Imagine a bow hunter who sees his target... an easy shot... a beautiful buck with a huge rack of antlers. He loads his arrow, pulls back on the string, aims, then lets the arrow fly in the direction of the animal -- but falls short by 10 feet. He missed the mark! His friends might give him a hard time implying that he couldn't hit the broad side of a barn with a shot like that.

The Bible talks about us missing the mark as well. Paul writes:

There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God... (Romans 3:22-23)

It makes no difference where we are born, who our parents are, the color of our skin, the lineage we claim... we are all alike when our very best is compared to God's holiness -- we miss the mark. We fall short. But there is good news. Paul continues:

...and all are justified freely …

Happy Labor Day!

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Even this cherry picking young bear needed some rest. :-)

I pray that it will be a day of rest and refreshing for you. Jesus knew that we often weary ourselves with work and unnecessarily carry heavy burdens, so He gave us the following message...

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” ~Matthew 11:28-30 (MSG)

Cades Cove
Great Smoky Mountains