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Showing posts from December, 2019

Made In The Shade

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He/she has it "made in the shade."

This was an expression from the 1950s which means to be in an excellent or ideal situation. Well, duh! Makes sense to me when looking at this shady, scenic, rural setting. Surrounded by stately mature trees, this old barn has it made in the shade... although I suspect the hard-working farmer who owns this place sees very little shade as he tends to his fields except when heading for the barn (which is a whole 'nother idiom).

What surrounds you? The Psalmist and King, David, knew all too well what it meant to be surrounded by life-threatening dangers. He also understood what it meant to be surrounded by God's presence even in those times. He penned the following:

Surely, Lord, You bless the righteous; You surround them with Your favor as with a shield. (Psalm 5:12)

You are my hiding place; You will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance. (Psalm 32:7)

Many are the woes of the wicked, but the Lord’s unfailing lo…

Putting On and Peeling Off

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Even as the dogwood tree fills it's branches with beautiful flowers, the old barn in the background is shedding its exterior.

Seasons come and go for all things. No natural thing, whether animal, vegetable or mineral, will last forever. We rejoice at new life and grieve at life lost, but it is all part of the circle of life that has taken place since Adam and Eve's fall to sin in the Garden of Eden.

In Ecclesiastes 3:1, Solomon wrote (in various translations):

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven. (KJV)

Everything that happens in this world happens at the time God chooses. (GNT)

There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven. (NASB)

So, if God ordains special "appointments" for us to experience then they are intended to teach us, build character in us, and prepare us for His purpose and plan. Nothing lasts forever except God's plan. We should consider it a joy and privilege to be …

Supersonic Versus Supernatural

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Much technology goes into the development of fighter jets capable of supersonic speeds. We marvel at the ingenuity and precision of ever detail that goes into its design, but as fast as these birds can fly, they are still limited by natural forces like friction and gravity. They are limited in the distance they can travel based on gallons-per-mile consumption and size of the fuel cells. The maneuvers they are capable of are limited to the skill of the pilot.

There is One, however, who has no limitations based on natural forces, skill, consumption or size. He is all knowing, all present, all powerful, almighty, everlasting and all sovereign. Nothing is impossible for Him or with Him. He is not limited by time, space, environment, resources, circumstances, my abilities or my inabilities. He is supernatural. He is God.

Jesus said, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.” (Luke 18:27)

In Isaiah 55:9 we read, For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than…

Aware

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Julia sat on that limb for hours overseeing her precious eaglet. Nothing escaped here attention though. We were no threat to her or baby at the distance we were from the nest, but she was certainly keeping two eyes on the photographers below.

The wind blew, vehicles passed by, people chatted, other birds flew overhead, but Julia kept her post... diligently observing her surroundings for any danger.

I'm glad that we have a God whose eyes are even more keen than an eagle's. He never sleeps; His eyes are always on you. With everything that is going on in the world at any moment, God is not distracted and His attention is never pulled away from you.

My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip —
He who watches over you will not slumber.

~Psalm 121:2-3 

Shiloh National Military Park
Shiloh, TN

Purpose

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Triodopsis tridentata - Northern Threetooth Air-breathing Land Snail

No, this snail does not have three teeth. The name represents the particular shape of the shell having three denticles or “teeth” of calcium at the opening.

Triodopsis tridentata is the most widespread threetooth of the East, ranging from the southern Appalachian Mountains, west to Michigan and southern Canada, and east into Vermont.

Land snails serve an important role in the ecosystem. They eat very low on the food web, as most land snails will consume rotting vegetation like moist leaf litter, and also fungi and sometimes eat soil directly. The land snail relies on a diet rich in calcium and other nutrients to support the growth and repair of its shell as well as its overall health.

Snails then in turn are consumed by a variety of predators that rely on snails for their calcium and other dietary needs. A great diversity of animal life feeds upon land snails, from insects to lizards and snakes, salamanders, birds and ma…

New Things

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This old wagon has seen its better days, but I'll bet it served many functions in its prime. It was probably the family car, the dump truck, the U-Haul, and the hit of the hayride. Today she rots and rusts in her place... a reminder that the present keeps driving forward without a worry for the past.

Søren Kierkegaard said, "Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards."

Bill Keane said, “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift of God, which is why we call it the present.”

Mother Theresa said, “Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.”

Getting lost in the past can be interpreted as being nostalgic, but it can also hinder your joy for the present and anticipation for the future. God told the Prophet Isaiah...

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?

(Isaiah 43:18-19)

What new and wonderful things is God doing around …

Be the Bract

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I'm not sure which I enjoy most... Spring or Fall. Each has its own unique beauty, but while Fall brings the mind harvest season and putting to rest nature's covering, Spring is all about revitalization, life and new beginnings.

I love the wide array of blooms that fill the forest floors and adorn so many trees in the Great Smoky Mountains and other locations around the southern U.S.

I suppose the Dogwood is among my most favorite of flowering trees. However, most people mistakenly think that the white of the tree is the flower when it is actually a bract (a modified or specialized leaf) that surrounds the flower in the center.


The bract provides the beautiful color that attracts the bee or other pollinating insect to the flower. The flower is the reproductive part of the plant that ensures a legacy or continuation of similar plants in the future.
Like the bract, we ought to be attracting others to the Lord Jesus Christ who alone can reproduce Himself in others so they can be witn…

Take the Photo When You Have the Chance

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This was one of my favorite barns to photograph in the Townsend area, just outside of the Great Smoky Mountains boundary. It was difficult watching it slowly deteriorate. It was a sad day when mighty winds blew through and took it down completely.

I've learned to stop and take the picture while I have the opportunity because: 
I might not have the opportunity again, and the opportunity may cease to exist by the time I pass that way again. Likewise, never take time with your family for granted because time is fleeting. Never forget to tell the ones closest to you that you love them. Take lots of pictures of them even if they think you're a nuisance... because one day pictures and a hole in your heart may be all that's left.

This picture stands as a testimony to this truth. The splintered pile of lumber remaining in its place today is my witness. Take the photo when you have the chance.
Live life, then, with a due sense of responsibility, not as men who do not know the meaning an…

For His Glory

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Why would God create a wildflower so beautiful even when in its short lifespan it could go completely unnoticed? Why indeed? Because He created it for His glory.

“You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.” (Revelation 4:11)

And that is the same reason that He created you and me.

"And every one that calls upon My name, I have created him for My glory, I have formed him, and made him." (Isaiah 43:7)

Even if you go unrecognized all your life, there is One who knows you and cares for you intimately because He made you just the way you are. And He receives glory when you show others His image in you and through you.

Columbine (Aquilegia canadensi)Great Smoky Mountains National Park

True Value

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One is labeled an unusual flower that must be photographed... the other a common weed that must be poisoned. Yet God placed both in the Great Smoky Mountains... each having their own unique beauty, place and purpose. How often do we judge a plant by other's opinions, a book by its cover, or a person by the color of their skin? May you see the value in all of God's creation before critiquing its worth and enjoy the extraordinary even in the ordinary.

All things were created by God and for His glory. Who are we to devalue the handiwork of the Creator?

"For in Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through Him and for Him." (Colossians 1:16)

Painted Trillium (Trillium undulatum)
Common Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)

Fueled

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Photosynthesis is the process by which plants convert energy from the sun. It is the process that allows plants to create organic molecules that they use as fuel/food. As Christians, we ought to look to the Son, Jesus, for our energy and life-giving nourishment to sustain us and help us thrive.

Physical food sustains us temporarily but there is a fuel source that enables you to really live. When tempted by the devil, Jesus quoted scripture from Deuteronomy 8:3 about the power of receiving and taking in God's Word as opposed to just eating a meal of bread.

Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'" (Matthew 4:4)

And, as Jesus often did, He took that analogy of food one step further when He told his disciples, "My food is to do the will of Him who sent me and to finish his work." (John 4:34)

Jesus let it be known that the energy and fuel He received from God was not just from sitti…

Murky Reflections

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The puddle was almost too muddy and murky for a reflection.This reminds me of the story of David in the Bible.

King David was known as a man after God's own heart, yet he allowed sin to creep in and muddy his relationship with God to where he no longer reflected Him with his attitudes and actions. There was only one way to be restored and made clean.

Look at David's prayer very closely. Perhaps it ought to be the yearning of your heart as well.

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions.

Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge.

Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb; you taught me wisdom in that secret place.

C…