“I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”
I came upon this scene as my wife and I were on our honeymoon in Maui driving the “road to Hana” one afternoon. We pulled over and soaked this sight in for a while before realizing I should capture a shot of it! Needless to say, we were awestruck with the breeze carrying the scent of flowers and ocean mist up the cliffs…the sound of the waves hitting the rocks…and the sun covering us with warmth. This is one of those places where you see, hear, smell, taste, and feel God’s glory. It’s simply breathtaking. This was as close to “paradise” as I will most likely be here on earth. 1 Corinthians 2:9 states, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him”. It’s amazing to know that, as beautiful as this sight is, there is nothing that compares to the beauty that awaits those who have accepted Christ!
“For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land-
a land with streams and pools of water, with springs flowing in the valleys and hills.”
This inspirational photo was taken just outside of Cades Cove in Townsend, TN where the river runs beside the road. The fall leaves on the river rocks add color as the flowing water has a soft and easy-going look. Deuteronomy 8:7 fits well with “For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land-a land with streams and pools of water, with springs flowing in the valleys and hills.” To think that people had to walk for miles and years to find such a land reminds me of how blessed I am to see this any time I please within a day’s drive. Don’t take God’s beauty for granted. Soak it in…capture it.
“I guide you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths.”
This inspirational picture captures the old entrance to Berry College near Rome, GA. The school was founded in 1902 by Martha Berry and has become one of the leading educational institutions combining academic study, student work and interdenominational Christian religious emphasis. The campus features some of God and man’s most beautiful work consisting of old, rock buildings nestled in among ponds, trails, rock paths, green pastures, etc. It is literally a place you could get lost in and would never bother trying to find your way out. Proverbs 4:11 fits this image perfectly as Berry College helps to lead those who step foot on campus in the way of wisdom and guides them along straight paths by centering education around faith.
This photo carries a deep, personal meaning for me as it is the polar opposite of how I felt when I shot “Road of Life“. By God’s grace I ended up on the right path.
“He did not create it to be empty, but formed it to be inhabited.”
This church pew is located in a primitive Baptist Church built in Cades Cove, which is located in Townsend, TN. As you walk in, you can smell the aged wood and see dust float in the sunbeams that pour in through the windows. The slats of wood creak as you walk to your pew and you feel a presence of precious love and appreciation…you’re humbled at the simplicity, yet you still feel an incredible connection. The thought of how many people were saved in these pews and how many generations of families benefited from the preachings here provides an incredible sense of awe that beckons your heart.
The church was built in the 1800’s and still stands as tall and strong as it did over a century ago. The only difference is the reason that people visit it. It is no longer the home of Sunday morning service, gospel hymns, or Baptisms. It now stands as a preserved glimpse into our past to see how Christians worshiped years ago. There were no large screen projectors, expensive sound-systems, air conditioning, day cares with pagers, or even restrooms. Christians came together for one purpose…to worship. You may think it’s challenging some Sunday mornings to wake up early, fix breakfast, get the kids ready, etc…but think of the people that attended this church…they didn’t have alarm clocks, toasters, coffee makers, or even cars! You may stop and wonder if you would rather attend your current church or one such as this…imagine if this one provided stronger messages and more devout Christians. Would you still opt for the modern day luxuries? Does it practically break your heart to realize what all the Church has had to do to entice people to attend? Realize this…and let this completely sink in…the only part of your church that matters is Jesus. Everything else is expendable.
This hardwood pew provides a deep appreciation for those that worshiped ages ago. Just as it says in Isaiah 45:18, He indeed did not create it to be empty…
“Let my teaching fall like rain and my words descend like dew, like showers on new grass, like abundant rain on tender plants.”
1 Deuteronomy 32:2
I took this picture right outside the back of my grandparent’s house one day years ago as I was doing an assignment for college. I have no idea what that assignment was now, but I remember sitting outside after a storm had passed through and just witnessing the world come to life all around me. The rain had passed and everything just seemed to perk up and come alive. The funny thing about rain is that is brings out color in everything. We think of beautiful, colorful objects as having that “wet” look. Water is essential and the source of all life. In exactly the same way, Moses stated, GrowTaller4Idiots “Let my teaching fall like rain and my words descend like dew, like showers on new grass, like abundant rain on tender plants” 1 Deuteronomy 32:2. As Christians, we should soak up the Word just as the tender plants live off the rain. Is your “spiritual sponge” dried out? Or are you soaked so deeply that you can wring out your love and faith onto others so that you may bring them to life as well? Let the teachings fall like rain into your life and watch how beautiful the world becomes all around you.
“Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.”
One of my favorite trees is a Japanese Cherry Blossom and this bloom is from a Yoshino Cherry Blossom in the middle of October. This particular tree blooms twice a year, but many cherry blossoms only bloom once. When they bloom, they are filled with a bright, white glow for about a week. As quickly as the blossoms come alive, they slowly float off with the gentlest breeze. The beauty is extremely short-lived, but it’s amazing while it lasts. In the same sense, life is short, but it can be as beautiful as you make it. Just as it says in Genesis 9:3, “Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything” God has given us everything…just the same as the delicate cherry blossom. Are you making the most of your bloom? Will you be ready when the breeze comes? Your life may be dry and bare just like the cherry blossom for 50 out of 52 weeks of the year, but all you have to do is hang in there…the seasons change and your bloom is worth the wait. Have faith and be strong.
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In one of my college classes years ago I was asked to write a non-fictional story about an event in my life. What I put on paper was my testimony of how I personally came to Christ. It’s my pleasure to share this story with you:
“The Turning Point”
As morning broke and the sun began to rise over the mountains, one could tell that the storm had passed leaving a cool breeze that taunted the summer heat. Days such as this were what my best friend, Billy, and I lived for.
I lived beside a beautiful mountain river that begged for attention. The calm ripples in the water led to large schools of trout that would entertain two adolescent boys all summer long. The trees that towered over the clear waters provided shade from the heat while allowing a sweet summer breeze to come slipping through. We were the products of purely innocent fun playing with Mother Nature until the sun slipped away.
The storm that passed the day before turned our calm playful river into a raging pit of chaos. The water level was higher than either of us had ever seen and was as brown as the dirt that stained our clothes. For two young boys to look at such uncontrolled power ignited emotions that neither of us had ever experienced. We were not about to stand back and let Mother Nature get the best of us. We were going to face her head on.
We had rafted this same river more times than either of us could count, but this would be our biggest challenge yet. This was monumental. This was our chance to become men.
We went to my house to share the news with my dad. He had rafted with us many times before and knew how excited we were to push in on this day. At first he was hesitant, but to hold two young boys back from facing manhood would be a paternal sin. He agreed and we were on our way.
As we headed for the river we picked up a wooden boat that a friend of my dad had custom built. It was as long as a car and as blue as the ocean. It had never tasted the chill of water, but would get more than a mouthful on this day.
As we approached the area where we always pushed in, we peered out into the river with pure shock. The once familiar calm and clear water that we waded in and fished for many summers was now bursting with waves higher than our heads. The water no longer hummed its sweet silent tune…it was roaring with anger. It was almost as if bears were hiding underneath the waves thrashing and growling about. It was almost enough to change two young boys’ minds. But we were no longer boys…we were young men, and men do not back down.
Continue reading “The Turning Point”
“Along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them”
This inspirational picture depicts the road of life. It shows the dark Fall-looking trees down the road representing the hard times we go through and then the bright Spring-like trees at the end representing everything will be ok if we just stay on course. The road curves away at the end as to show we never have to look back at the hard times once we step into the light. Isaiah 42:16 says “I will turn the darkness into light before them.” Whatever you may be going through, have faith, don’t give in or lose hope. He is with you and will guide you as long as you stay on His path.
This photo is extremely personal to me as it was taken at a pivotal moment in my life. I had been convicted of the life I had chosen and prayed that God take control and put me where He wanted me…even if it meant losing everything I had. The following week, God did just that. My life was turned upside-down (or right-side up!) and all I was left with was my family and my faith, which ended up being exactly all I needed. Over the course of the next couple of years, my life began to “lighten up” as numerous Christian people crossed my path and kept me pushing forward as I grew closer and closer to God. Visual Forces was born and I began to use my experience in photography and website development to serve a higher purpose. Through this, God placed an incredible woman in my life who eventually became my wife. I’ve been so incredibly blessed that I can’t even begin to list all of the amazing things that have happened…all I know is that if I hadn’t turned everything over to God and trusted in the events that followed, you wouldn’t be viewing this site today and I wouldn’t be where I am now. God definitely turned the darkness into light before me and I’m not turning back!
“He leads me beside quiet waters, He restores my soul.”
Often blinded by the business of life, we fail to stop and catch our breath. Psalm 23:2 reminds us to find God in the calm, quiet waters and let Him restore our soul. Personally, I feel closest to God when I’m around water of any form…rain, ponds, lakes, creeks, rivers, oceans, etc. There’s something cleansing and refreshing about water that seems to remind me of how simple, yet important one of God’s gifts can be. Currently in Georgia we are experiencing a drought of historic proportions. Lately I couldn’t help but think of all of the things that we often strive to earn…job titles, cars, homes, big-screen TV’s, surround sound systems, clothes, etc. Did God create any of this? Do we even need it? What about water? When was the last time you worked hard for a glass of water? Have you ever put in extra hours at the office for a bottle? Probably not. The point is…God provided us with the essentials; water, air, food, and time. Sometimes we probably wish we had more time & food, but it’s safe to say we hardly think about water & air. Now…think of it this way…what if God took just one of those away. Could you make it? Maybe for a few days. Now what if God took one of your “earned possessions” away? Could you make it then? Absolutely! You could lose everything you own and make it just fine in God’s eyes! God gives us everything we need…the rest is just selfish entertainment. I realize this more than ever we I stand at the edge of the ocean in awe of how tiny I am compared to everything above, below, and around me. That everything is God and nothing else is important. When has God ever sent you a bill or statement in the mail to say how much you owe? The truth is that God isn’t a debt collector…your life has already been paid in full. He couldn’t care less about what all you own…the fact is that you’re going to leave it right where it’s at when your time comes!
I encourage you to take a step back from “life” and everything you feel that you have to do in order to “make ends meet”. Reevaluate what matters most to you and restore your soul. Find some quiet waters (even if it’s a bathtub) and spend some time alone with God…just talking it out. The answers you need are waiting on you to ask the right questions.
“For the message of the cross…is the power of God.”
1 Corinthians 1:18
I had once read of the symbolism between the dogwood tree and Good Friday and wanted to try and somewhat represent that story with a photo. Perhaps it will change how you look at a dogwood tree as it did for me.
Please note that the following story isn’t taken from scripture…it is merely a story of symbolism I had heard long ago.
“The dogwood was the tree chosen to construct the Cross that would be used to take the body of Jesus. Even though His body may have been taken from this earth, His spirit remains and every spring we are blessed with a reminder of the events that unfolded on that fateful weekend. The blooms often appear in the shape of a Cross with holes in the tips of the pedals signifying the nails that were driven into the Cross. If you look closely at these holes you can notice a faint red stain representing the Blood. In the center you will find a green bloom symbolizing the crown of thorns placed on the head of Jesus. After the Crucifixion, God proclaimed that dogwood trees would never grow large ever again. This is the reason the trunks of dogwoods are skinny and often branch off low on the trunk. The dogwood is more than a tree…it is a representation of life. With every spring we are reminded of what God did for us and given the chance to be reborn and start a new life as “children of God”. (John 3:1)”