I will always remember my first trip through the Smoky Mountains. The ancient mountains were in rare form that day. They drew me in and wouldn’t let me go.
Everywhere I looked, I found ridge upon ridge of forest. There were trees of every variety. They were too numerous to count. I could behold marvelous wonders in every direction. With spectacular color, they turned each hill into a brilliant masterpiece.
This November day, the Smoky Mountains were alive. Dogwood, maple, sassafras and birch trees welcomed everyone with their red, orange, and yellow leaves. It was more than beautiful. The trees spilled across the landscape and created a canvas that only God could paint.
I marveled at God’s handiwork. A kaleidoscope of fall colors, worthy to display all year round.
I kept turning around to see it all. I didn’t want to miss an inch of this perfect landscape. I took pictures to remember the sight. I didn’t want to go. I didn’t want to leave. How could anyone leave such a beautiful place?
Creation was providing a reminder to look and see what God has done. This world is no cosmic accident. This is not something that mankind can replicate. There is no way to manufacture something so exquisite. There is no scientific way to make all this happen in such grand fashion.
Nature was providing a majestic moment. A testament to the greatness, splendor, and majesty of God.
The Old Testament prophet Nehemiah acknowledged that God alone is the creator of the heavens and the earth. He says, “You alone are the LORD. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all the starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you.”—Nehemiah 9:6 NIV
Take time to bask in the beauty of autumn. Watch the display. Enjoy the splashes of color that transform the slopes and hills. Stop and revel in the gorgeous demonstration. As the fall foliage presents another reminder of heaven, offer a prayer of thanksgiving to the One, who made it possible. Such beautiful handiwork will draw you close and never let you go.
Posted in Devotions | Tagged autumn leaves, christian, majesty of god, national park, nature, pastor, smoky mountains |
Precious God, we remember this day with sorrow. We remember it with heartache, pain, and despair. Lives lost and visions of destruction linger with us.
Lift up our faces. Take the tears from our eyes. Lighten our hearts. Strengthen and restore us with your power and grace.
Psalm 147:3 declares that you, “heal the brokenhearted and bind up their wounds.” Be our God. Be a stronghold in time of trial. Be our redeemer, comforter, and friend.
Let your healing mercy be a salve upon our hearts. Allow it to rain down from heaven and minister to our hurt and pain. Sustain us with your peace and grace.
Heavenly Father may we always find our strength in you.
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged 9/11 prayer, national day of prayer, patriot day, prayer, september 11 |
Perhaps the sign was posted at the military intelligence office. Have a great military Monday!
Posted in Humor | Tagged army, funny, humor, military |
Suicide is a significant problem in the military claiming the lives of 22 veterans each day.
Suicide also takes a tremendous toll on our society. In 2013, 41,149 suicide deaths were reported in the US. We could easily read these suicide rates and forget that every number represents not only a life lost, but also a broken family, and a community wounded with pain. Each death leaves behind a group of hurting people.
There is no “one size fits all” solution to suicide. People contemplate suicide for many different reasons: substance abuse, divorce, family separation, financial matters, legal trouble, a major illness, depression, and many other reasons. While the causes vary, we can all show universal concern and support.
Here are some ways to help people at-risk of suicide.
- Be present. Show your concern for people in pain. Make time for the person who is hurting. Scripture shares that we need to “bear one another’s burdens…” (Galatians 6:2). Take time to help others through their days of difficulty.
- Listen. Allow that person to say what is causing the pain. Share the gift of silent listening and then you can guide your friend with wise counsel.
- Do something. The Bible encourages us to be, “doers of the word, not hearers only…” (James 1:22). Too often, people at-risk are so overwhelmed with depression, stress, or anguish that they don’t know where to turn next, give that person guidance. Share resources that can help. Take them to a doctor, pastor, or counselor. Call the VA hospital. Find a way to connect the person with assistance. Take action.
September is Suicide Prevention Month. Take time to talk with a friend who is down. Share the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255. It is a 24/7 resource with trained professionals ready to help people find encouragement and hope.
Make a difference by addressing the problem of suicide. Demonstrate compassion and concern for those who are hurting. Be available to friends in need and take time to listen. The time you invest could save a life.
Posted in Suicide Prevention | Tagged army, Christian approach to suicide, faith based, prevention, suicide, suicide prevention, suicide prevention month, suicide rates, veteran |
We date to find the right person, that special someone worthy of our affection. We search for that special person deserving of our eternal love.
Proverbs 31:10 asks the question, “Who can find a virtuous woman? Her price is far above rubies.” This is the reminder that we all need when it comes to dating.
Too often people rush into a relationship. They settle for something less than the perfect person of their dreams. They witness unhealthy habits, behaviors, and patterns, but turn a blind eye to these traits. They become attached and involved too quickly and overlook the problem areas that should immediately steer them in a different direction.
It is critical that singles and those who are single again be well-prepared for marriage. If they are not, folks will fall into the trap of marrying a person thinking that they knew them, but in reality they only knew about them.
Take the necessary time to truly find out who it is that you are dating. It might take three to six months or longer, but just like looking through a microscope on its lowest setting, you can only see so much. Dating someone for an extended period allows you to see certain things that may not become evident right away. When you have dated someone for a year you begin to have history with that person. Many couples get through their first year just fine, but in the second year issues often begin to surface that weren’t evident earlier.
We date for a reason. It is okay to wait and search for the right person. It is okay for a relationship to end if there are warning signs. Don’t settle for someone who does not treat you right. You deserve someone you can trust. You deserve someone who will remain committed to you. Set high standards and hold onto your standards. They can help you find the right person who will stay with you for the rest of your life.
Posted in Military Marriages, News & Commentary | Tagged dating, military, proverbs 31, relationship, relationships, single, single again |
As July the fourth approaches, I am mindful of the freedoms we have in America. Our nation was built on the ideas of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Religious freedom is a large part of the liberties we enjoy.
Certain rights were held so highly by our founders that they decided to amend the Constitution and guarantee personal freedoms. The First Amendment would protect our ability to worship. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof . . . .”
The Establishment Clause prohibits Congress from creating a national religion. They cannot establish one faith for the people of America. This is how England and her colonies operated prior to the Revolution. Laws were in place to fine people who attended a religious assembly other than the Church of England. It allowed magistrates and authorities to shutter the churches of outlying religious groups. Clergy outside the Church of England could be fined for preaching, expressing their religious views, or sharing the gospel. Even people who allowed a religious assembly in their own home could receive a huge fine.
People during this time had little to no religious freedom. British law required citizens to attend worship services. Practicing your faith in a different manner or practicing a different faith, one not permitted by the government, could be grounds for your arrest, conviction, or execution. Our founders wanted to insure that America would not return to the ways of England by establishing a state church, and punishing people for practicing their individual faith.
The Free Exercise Clause reserves the right of Americans to accept religious beliefs and engage in their individual religious practices. The clause protects not just religious beliefs but actions made on behalf of those beliefs. In short, government should not prohibit people from practicing their faith.
As an American, I enjoy more religious freedom than a majority of people across the globe. I am a blessed man who can worship Christ. As a Christian, I have not been persecuted for my faith or forced to embrace another religion. My country protects me and my personal freedoms. Many Christians do not have the blessings of liberty that I know.
May God continue to bless the freedoms of our land and keep them in place, now and in generations to come.
Posted in News & Commentary | Tagged first amendment, fourth of july, prayer, religious freedom, religious liberty |
Pray for Charleston and the Emanuel AME Church. Nine people were killed when a gunman opened fire at a Wednesday night prayer service in Charleston, South Carolina.
Lord we cry out to you in anguish and pain. This senseless act leaves us hallow inside. All we can do is shake our heads and cry. We ask that you comfort those who mourn the loss of family and friends. May Christian men and women rise up to support each other in this time of despair. Help us to remember that you are the strong tower we seek when times are tough. Guide our hands and feet to respond in a Christ-like manner.
Posted in News & Commentary | Tagged Charleston, charleston shooting, emanuel AME church, prayer |