Weekly Photo Challenge: Serene

Oh to be at peace like the sweet little Sugar!
Sitting relaxed and watching the world go by.
Doesn’t it make you want to reach out and hug her?
Or just go stretch out beside her, and look at the sky?

This is how we should be, day by day,
As we trust in the LORD, into His arms we lean.
Listening quietly to all He has to say,
Brings with it a sense of being totally serene.


Serene:   Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.




Snippet: He Is!


So many books, so little time.  Think of the Bible as a collection of books, instead of one big book.  Now imagine that these 66 books are linked with a theme, all communicating the same message, all pointing to a singular event in time.  Do you know what that theme is?  Do you know what that time is?

The event that the whole bible (all 66 books) points to is the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  There is a great song titled ‘He is” which helps us see this truth.  It goes like this…

He Is

In Genesis, He’s the breath of life
In Exodus, He is the Passover Lamb
In Leviticus, He’s our high priest
In Numbers, the fire by night
Deuteronomy, He’s Israel’s Guide
Joshua, He’s salvation’s choice
Judges, He’s Israel’s Guard
In Ruth, the kinsmen’s redeemer
1st and 2nd Samuel, our trusted prophet
In Kings and Chronicles He is Sovereign
In Ezra, He’s the true and faithful scribe
In Nehemiah, the re-builder of broken walls and lives
In Esther, He’s Mordecai’s courage
In Job, the timeless redeemer
In Psalms He is our morning song
In Proverbs, He is our wisdom
Ecclesiastes, He’s the time and season
In Song of Solomon, He is the lover’s dream
In Isaiah He is Prince of Peace
In Jeremiah, the weeping prophet
Lamentations, the cry for Israel
Ezekiel, the call from sin
Daniel, the stranger in the fire
Hosea, the forever faithful
Joel, the spirit’s power
Amos, the strong-arms that carry
Obadiah, the Lord our Savior
Jonah, the great missionary
Micah, the promise of peace
Nahum, our strength and shield
In Habakkuk and Zephaniah, He’s brings revival
In Haggai He restores that which was lost
In Zachariah, He’s our fountain
And in Malachi, He’s the son of righteousness rising with healing in His wings
And that’s just the Old Testament

In Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, He is God and Messiah
In the spirit filled book of Acts, He is the reigning fire from Heaven
In Romans, He is the grace of God
Corinthians, the power of love
Galatians, freedom from the curse of sin
Ephesians, our glorious treasure
Philippians, the servant’s heart
Colossians, He’s God and the trinity
Thessalonians, our calling King
In Timothy, Titus and Philemon, He’s our mediator and our faithful pastor
In Hebrews, the everlasting courage
In James, the one who heals the sick
In 1st and 2nd Peter, our faithful shepherd
In John and Jude, He’s the lover coming for His bride

And in the Revelation, in the very end, when it’s all over, said and done, when time is no more. He is and will always be the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, Prince of Peace, son of Man, Lamb of God, The Great I am, Alpha and Omega, God and Savior He is Jesus Christ the Lord he is everything that you need.

You want a fun adventure this Christmas.  Get out your Bible and go find these truths on your own… one snippet at a time.



One-Way Ticket


They say that once you’ve left, you can’t go back.  They say that once you’ve said it, you can’t un-say it.  They say once you’ve done it, you can’t un-do it.  They say … well, you see where I’m going with this.

I don’t pretend to be a philosophical giant. The mind games of philosophy are writhe with every nuance of possibilities not known or seen, and I simply can’t compete at that level.  I’m more a meat-and-potatoes kind of philosopher.  One who accepts that there are indeed things I cannot know or see, yet I can KNOW the ONE who sees and knows all things.

There are those who want to convince us that when it’s over, it’s just over.  That life will never be anything more than what it is today.  They say you can’t go back, and there’s nothing after this, so today, right now is the most important moment you live.  This ticket really leads to hedonism.  Since most after-life philosophies are tied directly or indirectly to moral consequences of our actions in this life, if there’s nothing after this, morality and social mores go out the window, and everyone is entitled to do whatever they want.

Every religion and philosophical system in the world has some merits of goodness in them I suppose, some type of morality, or social or cultural focus, that causes men and women to become consumed by its teachings.  However, this ticket to the afterlife has no guarantees, because most of these systems are based in what you “do.”  Meaning if you simply “do” enough of the right things, then when you cross over into the afterlife, some form of heaven or nirvana will be yours.  There is only one problem here.  How does a person ever really know if they have “done” enough to actually get there?

Christmas is more than just a season.  This holiday allows truth seekers another chance every year to hear and listen while the true story is told of the “One-Way Ticket.”  I realize that my personal philosophy and belief system is based in believing that the Bible is absolute truth.  That said, I would be remiss if I tried saying anything at all about the afterlife designed for humanity, if it contradicted what is written in God’s Word.

So here’s the simple truth (the meat-and-potatoes truth) of what’s in our future.

The One-Way Ticket: Baby

Isaiah 7:14
Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.

Matthew 1:23
… which translated means, “GOD WITH US.”

Matthew 1:21
“She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”

The One-Way Ticket: Man

John 14:6
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.

Acts 4:12
“And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”

The One-Way Ticket: King

Revelation 22:20
He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming quickly.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

It’s all there in six verses.  The way, the truth, and the life after this one, are all based on a one-way ticket, whose name is Jesus.

But don’t miss out on the real reason for His coming, as a baby, man, and King.

John 10:10
I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

This Christmas you may discover, if you commit to these simple truths, that this life right here and now can take on new meaning.  If your future is secure in Jesus Christ, then focus now on making this life all that Jesus designed for it to be.  Prove the hedonist and the workaholic religious fanatics wrong.  Enjoy the freedom that comes in knowing “God with us” and share His love in tangible ways that speak of God’s truth, and bring Him glory.





Percussive: A Rap on the Door


Does nobody knock on the door anymore?  Amazon.com has become one of my favorite shopping stores, because I can avoid the crowds.  However, what I’ve discovered is that even UPS and FedEx delivery people seldom ring the doorbell, or simply knock on the door anymore.  What’s up with that?

Or… is it possible I’ve become so inoculated or desensitized to these sounds that I attribute my own failing as theirs?  I’m trying very hard as I write this to think back to Tuesday last week when we received a package by UPS and evaluate:  Did they ring or knock, or did I just not “hear” it, because I wasn’t in a “hearing” mode?

What if…

What if God is pounding on the door of your heart and mind, and in our 21st-century mindset we are simply not listening anymore?  We’ve seemingly developed the innate capability of “filtering” what we hear and don’t hear today.  You know people like this don’t you?  They can be sitting two feet away, and so involved with their “mobile device” that once it registers that you’ve spoken, they may or may not look up and respond, “huh?”

What if…

What if God is sending out signals that are clear and percussive like the rapping of knuckles on solid wood, resonating with grace, love, forgiveness, and compassion, but we fail to receive these signals or messages, because we can’t seem to tune in anymore?

What if …

What if God decided He would just filter us out, like we’ve filtered Him out?  Then what happens to verses like… Matthew 7:7… Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you?

What if we knock on heaven’s door, and God doesn’t even look up, but murmurs in our direction, “huh?”

You don’t really want God to do this, any more than you want your children or spouse to do this to you, right?

So, then, why do we do it?

Why do we miss out on the most significant aspects of a relationship with God?  When God knocks on your heart’s door, your mind’s door, it is a percussive reminder that you need Him more than you think you do.

Today, why not put down the mobile device, and pick up the actual written word of God, and spend some time with Jesus?



Sludge: trudging through

35 days until ChristmasIt’s “that” time of year.  It’s the season of holiday madness, black Friday deals, family tensions, disappointing football, and a general bah-humbug-i-ness that permeates and coagulates into an imperceptible emotional sludge.  During the very time of year when we should be most thankful, filled with joy, peace, and love, many struggle to just keep trudging through.

I’ll admit there are days like that for me.  So how do we focus?  Where do we find the courage and strength just to deal with the realities of life during the “holidays?”

Maybe it is as simple as understanding that commercialism drains us, and God Himself wants to fill us.  The lure and enticements of “the deal” can instantly shift our focus back to material, earthly concerns.  We fuss and fidget to find that perfect gift for the ones we love, or we worry that the hints we’ve been dropping about what we “want” for Christmas haven’t been heard… because it’s on “sale” this weekend.

This year my prayer is that you will find Thanksgiving Happiness, and the Joy-filled Christmas you’ve always wanted.  So, I’m praying that God will intervene personally in your life, in your mind, in your relationships, and in the core of your being with a simple truth to focus on.

Isaiah 7:14
Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.

Matthew 1:23
“Behold! The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call Him Immanuel” (which means, “God with us”).

If God can make good on a four hundred year old promise, then we can trust that He will make good on the other promises He makes to us as true Christ-followers.  One promise that I pray you will focus on this year is this:

John 10:10
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

Think of all that emotional sludge of this season as “the thief” in this verse, and don’t let it rob you of the joy, peace, and hope of this celebration time!

Live in such a way, through the next few days and weeks, that your very abundant life demonstrates God’s glory to the world around you.





Particular: Just the Facts


Let’s be candid.  Let’s be honest.  Let’s be specific.

I know lots of good folks who say they “know” Jesus. There is a kind of “oh yeah, been there done that” to the way it comes across.  But I remember one story where Jesus was talking to the leaders of Israel, who themselves thought they knew God better than anyone else on the planet.  When Jesus confronted them with this statement, they went ballistic on Him.

John 8:32
And you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.

So, I guess the question today, from me to you, is:     “How well do you know Jesus?”

If it causes you pause, if it challenges you a bit, I’m also offering this helpful list of “FACTS” or “Truth about Jesus.” I’m doing it to stimulate you once again to not just know about Him… but to know Him.  Personally engage with the Master of the Universe, and discover something new.  So go get your Bible and sit for a few minutes with the Truth.

Are you ready?

Here we go…

  1. Jesus Was Not Created … Micah 5:2
  2. Jesus Has Never Changed … Hebrews 13:8
  3. Jesus is both God and Man … John 1:1
  4. Jesus Abides Forever … Hebrews 7:24
  5. Jesus is The Creator of Everything … Colossians 1:16
  6. Jesus is All-Powerful … Matthew 28:18
  7. Jesus is All-Knowing … Colossians 2:3
  8. Jesus Came to Die and Destroy Satan’s Power … Hebrews 2:14
  9. Jesus is Holy … Luke 1:35
  10. Jesus is Righteous … Isaiah 53:11
  11. Jesus is Just … Zechariah 9:9
  12. Jesus Had No Deceit … 1 Peter 2:22
  13. Jesus is Sinless … 2 Corinthians 5:21
  14. Jesus is Pure … 1 Peter 1:19
  15. Jesus is the Rock … 1 Corinthians 10:4
  16. Jesus is Gentle … Matthew 11:29
  17. Jesus is Omnipresent … Matthew 18:20; 28:20
  18. Jesus Resurrects … John 5:39; 6:40, 44, 54; 11:25-26
  19. Jesus is Acknowledged by Demons … Mark 5:2,6
  20. Jesus is Worshipped by Man … John 9:38
  21. Jesus is Worshipped by Angels … Hebrews 1:6
  22. Jesus Receives Worship by His Disciples … Luke 24:52
  23. Jesus is Honored the Same as the Father … John 5:23
  24. Jesus Will Receive Worship from Everyone … Philippians 2:10-11
  25. Jesus is Human … 1 Timothy 2:5
  26. Jesus Was Conceived by the Holy Spirit … Luke 1:34-35
  27. Jesus Took On Man’s Body … Hebrews 2:9-18
  28. Jesus Humbled Himself … Philippians 2:8
  29. Jesus Was Subject To Human Emotions … Hebrews 5:7
  30. Jesus Died and Rose Again … 1 Thessalonians 4:14
  31. Jesus Blood Brings Reconciliation With God … Ephesians 2:13-16
  32. Jesus Blood Brings Redemption for Lost Man … Romans 3:24-25
  33. Jesus Blood Allows Man To Be Justified before God … Romans 5:9
  34. Jesus Blood Sanctifies Man … Hebrews 10:29
  35. Jesus Blood Brings Eternal Life … John 6:53-56
  36. Jesus is the Bread of Life … John 6:25-59
  37. Jesus Forgives Sins, Matt. 9:1-7 … Luke 5:20; 7:48
  38. Jesus Will Bring in Everlasting Righteousness … Daniel 9:24
  39. Jesus Will Destroy The Works of Satan … 1 John 3:8
  40. Jesus Fulfilled the Old Testament … Matthew 5:17
  41. Jesus Judges … John 5:22, 27
  42. Jesus Is Our High Priest … 1 John 2:1
  43. Jesus is the Light of the World … John 8:12
  44. Jesus Sent The Holy Spirit To Us … John 15:26
  45. Jesus Will Take His People To Heaven … John 14:3
  46. Jesus Will Return To The Earth After The Tribulation … Matthew 24:29
  47. Jesus Will Return To The Earth In Power & Glory … Matthew 24:30
  48. Jesus Will Complete Revelation … Hebrews 1:1
  49. Jesus Will Never Send You Away If You Come To Him | John 6:37
  50. Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life | John 14:6

And this is just the short list…

There’s so much more!

Even so, come quickly Lord Jesus!



Merrily We Droll Along


I’ve always liked the “holiday” season.  With the coming of winter, the festive ways people adorn their homes and hearths, the abundance of food and friends gathered to give thanks, and a few weeks later give gifts in celebration of the Best Gift… it’s a great time of year, and it is upon us.

There are those around the world who don’t feel this way at all.  Caught up in relationships where conflict and strife are abundant, tends to taint the festivities.  Facing a newly diagnosed illness or disease will pretty much put a person in a dour mood, evident to anyone who engages them.  Additionally, not everyone will have enough to eat on Thanksgiving, much less a Christmas Ham.  For each person in one of these situations finding the merriment of the “holidays” is just like finding the Panda in this picture.

Yes, there is a Panda in this picture, and once you see it, you can never un-see it again.

This paradigm is also true for those who seek the real meaning of the “holidays.”

Because Thanksgiving is not about watching football on the “big” screen, or eating from a buffet fit for kings, to feed a family of five.  Thanksgiving is about “giving thanks.”  Right? And just like the image of the Panda, being truly thankful is elusive sometimes.

Pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. [1 Thessalonians 5:17-18]

I realize you may think I’m doing the typical preacher platitude thing again.  However, by quoting this verse, I’m NOT suggesting that you give “thanks” for whatever has robbed your “holiday” spirit this year.  I’m saying this because I’m pretty sure, from personal experience, that this is not what Paul is teaching in this verse.

There is a big difference in being thankful in the middle of the stuff of life that attacks when you least expect it, versus being thankful “for the attack itself.”  I’m suggesting that you consider it a joy, when God gets you through it, and act thankfully for God’s strength and power to deliver you, redeem you, and encourage you through it all.

I don’t thank God for everything.  Not everything is “thanks” worthy.  But what I do is, I thank God in everything I face.  This verse also doesn’t say to put on your happy face, when you don’t really feel so happy.

Back to the Panda in the image for this article.  If you haven’t found it yet, I’ll give you a clue.  The Panda is the only one without a smile on its face.  Why would he smile?  The Panda is in this herd of snowmen.  He’s probably feels a little out of place.

While all the snowmen merrily droll along, the Panda is out of its element, not happy, not joyful, and not thankful.

Even James isn’t saying be “thankful” [James 1:2-3]   Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.

Joy is not necessarily a synonym for thankfulness.  Joy is a separate attitude all its own, fueled by a knowledge that nothing in our lives escapes God’s notice.  So I can be joyful in times of sorrow or loss, and in the middle of it all, I can be thankful for God’s love for me.  I can know that I am His and He is mine.

You don’t have to wear the smiling mask all the time.  You don’t have to be like the hundreds of smiling people who droll along through life, pretending everything is ok, when it isn’t.

However, we know what God’s will is for us.

  • be thankful … IN (not for) … the life issues you face
  • consider it joy … when you face these life issues
  • pray without ceasing

Pray for what exactly?

God’s glory to fill the earth?
God’s kingdom to come soon?
God’s will to be done in your life?
Daily food supplements?
To have the strength to forgive others?
Deliverance from temptation?

Sure, all that; it’s what Jesus Himself taught us to pray [Matthew 6:9-13].

And when you pray, don’t just spew meaningless spiritual verbiage in God’s general direction.

Or in some way offer droll statements in an attempt to diffuse your own pain.  Just be real, be genuine, be authentic as a true believer.  Stand out among the others around you who wear a smiling mask while they merrily droll along without hope.

If you haven’t found it yet, look hard for the Panda.  In that same way, through you prayers to God, while being thankful and joyful, look hard for God’s grace, and you will find it.  Nothing in your life escapes God’s notice.




black - red heart

Black the…

color of sin, death and the darkness of night

image of my heart without forgiveness,

absence of light

Black is not my destiny…

for I am found, delivered, redeemed

my heart now filled with His goodness and light

directed to joy, hope, happiness, and life

Black no longer binds me…

just as it could not hold Him

it does not hold me

for I am in Him

and He is in me.




Temporary: Fall in Texas

I guess this is one of the reasons I love Texas so much.  This shot was taken from a cart path on hole #14 of the Slick Rock Golf Course at Horseshoe Bay, November 2, 2017.  One of the golf course attendants told us it cost $1million to build.  That’s a stretch for me, but on this particular day, it was beautiful!  Not more than a breath of air, clean and bright, and the colors of fall were everywhere we looked.

It’s hard not to look at this image and see that God is indeed a wonderful designer/creator.

As winter approaches, soon the colors in this image will fade, making this one fleeting day all too temporary.  Makes you think, doesn’t it?

Temporary - Horseshoe Bay





Dancing with Joy


#18:  348 yard dog leg left, fairway bunkers at 275 on the right, green-side bunker back and left.  As I walked up to the green, after this exotic roller-coaster round of golf, 4 lost balls later, I was dancing with joy to learn I was about 5 feet for par on the final hole.  Apple Rock Golf Course that day pretty much ate my lunch.  But what a ride!  The greens were immaculate, and rolled true, leaving little margin for error in either direction or speed.  And I mean lightning fast speed!  At 6,536 yards from the “regular” men’s tees, this course is a beast.  As I was dancing with this beast, I found new meaning in the give-and-take of life.

Like Job at times, I suffered as this course would take a reasonably well-struck shot, and within a heartbeat of landing in the fairway, was out-of-bounds left due to the slope of the terrain.  This stuck me then, as it does now, as a perfect metaphor for this life I live today.

Job said, [Job 1:1]
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return there. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away.  Blessed be the name of the LORD.” 

Job’s perspective is not always easy to come to, is it?  Things are rockin’-and- rollin’ along and life’s pretty good, then whammo!  Everyone has “stuff” that happens to them, rocking their world, emotionally, financially, physically, or relationally.  When the “taken away” part happens, it usually doesn’t result in much dancing does it?

The same guy (Job) that had it all “taken away” also came to realize that God also “gave.”  The balance of knowing that God is sovereign, loves us unconditionally, and has a purpose for our existence, is what caused Job to declare through it all … Blessed be the name of the LORD!

This is the verbal equivalent of DANCING!  And when you’re dancing, you also gain another insight, verbalized by Job in 19:25.

As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last He will take His stand on the earth.  Even after my skin is destroyed, yet from my flesh I shall see God; Whom I myself shall behold, and whom my eyes will see and not another. 

Sometimes it seems we are so close to God, so close to contentment, so close to discovering the real meaning of life, kind of like this 5-foot par putt.  Then our human frailty lifts its head, and we miss the putt.  Suddenly we allow our emotions to cloud our judgment, so we beat ourselves up for failing, instead of just enjoying the dancing.

In the now famous words of Lee Ann Womack

I hope you never lose your sense of wonder
You get your fill to eat but always keep that hunger

May you never take one single breath for granted
God forbid love ever leave you empty handed

I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean
Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens

Promise me that you’ll give faith a fighting chance
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance

I hope you dance
I hope you dance


[Photo taken 11/1/2017 Apple Rock Golf Course #18]




Not for the Faint of Heart


#12: 155 yard cover, 165 yards to the pin.  Apple Rock Golf Course at Horseshoe Bay down in the Hill Country of central Texas is a challenge for even the low handicap strikers of the golf ball.  That said, even a mid teen handicap, like myself, found this hole mesmerizing.  After waiting on the tee box for the green to clear, I promptly put my first ball in the water, short and right.  “Splish splash I was taking a bath!”  Not to be beaten, I teed up again and put the second on the green, and two putted for double bogey.  The photo above helps gain some perspective of just how difficult this game really is.  While the whole golf course at Apple Rock offered a great vacation experience, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t want to play this course as my “home” course.  It is definitely not for the faint of heart.

At times my life seems captured in this imagine of a daunting tee shot.  Much of what I face today is so challenging, there are days when I think “why bother?”  Hazards and pitfalls loom at every turn, people and relationships can be dangerous and fraught with peril at the slightest twitch.  But my life is no different than yours, right?  You feel this way too at times, I’m sure.  Life itself is not for the faint of heart.  So how do we step up to the tee, throw down a ball, and gain the courage to go where God intends us to go?

2 Timothy 1:7
For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

If I fail, then I fail, and I tee it up again… with a confidence that with the help of God I can do this.

I did it last week at Apple Rock.

I’ll do it again today, in real life… the life that counts… for God.


[I took this photo on 11/1/2017 around noon.  Gorgeous day, lots of fun!]