Posts

Showing posts from October, 2019

The Fire Inside

Image
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?

Image
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

Image
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

Image
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

Image
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

Image
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

Image
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

Image
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

Image
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?

Image
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

Image
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

Image
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

Image
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

Image
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

Image
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

Image
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

Image
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

Image
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

Image
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

Image
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

Image
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

Image
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

Image
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

Image
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

Image
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.