What’s Your Excuse?

What’s Your Excuse?

butterfly I often wonder why it took me so long to come to faith in Jesus Christ when His creation speaks so loudly of His existence. If you have ever walked through the woods alone and were awestruck by the beauty therein or if you have ever seen a breathtaking sunset or ocean view, you must at least realize that these things didn’t happen by chance.

Romans 1 says “For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.Often it seems we can find any and every excuse to discount God’s handiwork, even in our own lives, but the truth is that God is the Creator of our universe and even our own lives.spider


When we take the time to swallow our pride and give credit where credit is due we can humbly see that God does truly love us, even simply by just the things around us He created just for us to enjoy. Next time you are out in creation or even just stuck in traffic, give God thanks for all that He has made and be thankful you were on the list of His created things! What’s your excuse?

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Do You Live Like A Feral Cat?

Do You Live Like A Feral Cat?

Have you ever driven behind a restaurant only to see massive quantities of feline scavengers? When a cat looses its desire to be captive and domesticated it will revert to a wild, or feral state. In many cases they retain some semblance of their former life in the first generation, but their offspring are often so wild they are untamable. This can lead to all sorts of trouble for both cats and people. Feral cats are a destructive, disease carrying menace that often preys on native wildlife and destroys the ecology of native species.

feralcatThe people of Israel began to act as if they were feral in the land promised to their forefathers after Joshua and the elders of his generation died out. They were the second generation so to speak and began to take on the wild tendencies of a feral animal. Judges 2:10-14 says, “After that whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up, who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel. 11 Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord and served the Baals. 12 They forsook the Lord, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of Egypt. They followed and worshiped various gods of the peoples around them. They provoked the Lord to anger 13 because they forsook him and served Baal and the Ashtoreths. 14 In his anger against Israel the Lord handed them over to raiders who plundered them. He sold them to their enemies all around, whom they were no longer able to resist.”

The fate of feral cats often includes capture and detainment in shelters, euthanasia, disease, and harmful interactions with traffic. If they would stay close to the hand that feeds them they would enjoy the safety and provision of a loving home, but when they decide to go wild and do things their own way the outcome is much more destructive to them. The same is true of the people of God. When we are in relationship with the Lord we can enjoy the comforts of our loving Father, but if we are not in covenant as believers with Jesus then we can only expect destruction. Do you live like a feral cat?


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Can You Defend Your Faith Against A Sasquatch?

Can You Defend Your Faith Against A Sasquatch?

I have been fascinated with the allure of Bigfoot (aka Sasquatch, Yeti, Skunk Ape, etc.) since I was a kid. I mean who hasn’t watched that iconic Patterson film from the 1960’s and wondered if it was in fact not a hoax but a potentially undiscovered large primate. I am the eternal skeptic though and often read stories about Bigfoot only to later see that they have been debunked as a fallacy or just someone’s attempt at their 15 minutes of fame. I do, however, commend the Bigfoot community in their efforts to authenticate their findings and their tireless searching and research on the subject matter.sasquatch

I wish I could say the same thing for the average Christian. Can you defend, or even explain your faith to an unbeliever? This is something Jude, the half-brother of Jesus felt very strongly about in the beginning of his epistle. Jude 1:3 says “Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.”

Jude addresses fellow believers and it seems almost mid-thought he changes course from encouraging them about their shared salvation and begins pleading with them to contend for their faith. The mental imagery he was painting about defending the faith was something very physical, something reminiscent of a Roman gladiator fighting for his life. We are called to preach the word of God and proclaim His truth so we must know the word in order to defend it. I encourage you to pick up your sword of the spirit, which is the word of God, and start defending your faith. Can you defend your faith against a Sasquatch?


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Do You Sleep Like A Bear?

Do You Sleep Like A Bear? Do you live in a place where bears can be frequently seen on spring and summer days? That must be terrifying! Lock your doors immediately! With all joking aside if you have ever noticed the behavior of bears you notice that their activity starts to slow down once the weather gets cold and pretty soon their sightings stop altogether for several months. During the cold winter month’s bears will often hibernate because of a lack of available food. This process is quite interesting to me as their bodies simply slow down their metabolic processes and this allows them to essentially “sleep” through the harsher months.

How many times as Christians does it seem that when times get tough we will simply shut down and go to sleep? It is quite the easy route to take when we forget the power of Christ that resides in us. Our natural inclination is to just slow down our rate of activity in order to enter into false rest. When scripture talks of sleeping it usually is a metaphor for death, as in the case with Lazarus in the Gospel of John as well as in Ephesians.

Ephesians 5:13-14 says, But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said: ‘Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.’” So even when times are hard and we just want to ball up and go to sleep both physically and spiritually we must remember that the light of Christ has illuminated us. Jesus calls us back to life and requires us to carry our cross even when it gets heavy. Do you sleep like a bear?

Photo Credit:  Jim Bauer

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Are You Watering Grass That’s Just Going To Wither?

Are You Watering Grass That’s Just Going To Wither?

Are You Watering Grass That’s Just Going To Wither?Have you ever thought about how much time you spend on trivial things like making sure the lawn is perfectly manicured or the flower garden is adequately planted with the prettiest blooms? Isn’t it easy to get carried away in the pursuit of perfection or attainment of “yard of the month” and neglect the things that truly need our attention? 1 Peter 1:24-25 says For, ‘All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever.’ And this is the word that was preached to you.”

This scripture is comparing out lives to withering grass and falling flowers. The good news is that God’s word stands the test of time and we can rest assured that the time we spend studying the word of God is time well spent. The word that is preached to us, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, is timeless, everlasting and has the utmost importance and staying power. Our mortality is just as real as that of a flower fading and grass withering in the context of eternity. When we root ourselves in God’s word we will not wither and we will not fade because the result is an eternity with Jesus where there is no more death. That’s an amazing thought! Are you watering grass that’s just going to wither?

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Pure As The Driven Snow

The past few days have been a chilly reminder of winter’s very firm grip on my home state of North Carolina.  An “arctic blast” of cold air has swept across much of the country sending temperatures down well below freezing.  I honestly can’t remember a colder winter and yesterday it snowed. I watched the developing storm on the local news channel for days, hoping its trajectory would amble just a little further east so that we would get snow where I lived.  I mean if it's going to be cold it might as well snow right?  It seems that my prayers for frozen precipitation were answered and by lunchtime there was a thin dusting of snow covering the ground. Tiny bitter cold snowflakes fell for the next 12 hours or so as the temperature plunged lower and lower.  We ended up only getting around 1-2 inches of snow but it was enough to blanket my backyard in a sheet of white.

When I looked out my kitchen window this morning as the sun was rising over the trees in my backyard I had the thought that Jesus covers our sins like this snow covered my yard.  It’s not an original thought, I’ve heard that analogy for years and it's even in the scriptures, but today it struck me more than normal.  Just like a winter storm, conditions have to be perfect for us to accept and receive our salvation from Jesus.  We have to admit we are sinners, realize the need for salvation, and confess that Jesus is our Lord.  Without these elements all working together as a well timed storm we can’t receive our free gift of Jesus’ sacrifice.

Isaiah 1:18 says “Come now, let us settle the matter”, says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.”  When we accept Jesus, our sins are covered, just like my backyard with the pure white snow.  Everything that was a blight, the holes, the dead grass and dog poop are all covered by a white covering.  To the eyes of the Father our sins look like Jesus' blood and in his righteousness and perfection we are now viewed by a loving father thanks to Jesus’ covering.  No matter what is underneath the snow, the new focal point is the purity and not the filth that lies beneath.  I’m thankful that God sees me through the lens of what Jesus did for me and not what my life looks like without Jesus.  How about you?  Are you pure as the driven snow?


Do You Have Wisdom Like An Owl?

Do You Have Wisdom Like An Owl?

Have you ever heard the saying “wise like an owl?”  The personification of the owl seems to suggest that they have an inherent wisdom that we humans may or may not possess.  The truth is, an owl is no wiser than a crow or hawk or any other large predatory bird and surely not wiser than a human being.  This idiom probably has to do with the way an owl looks very serious and almost seems to be contemplatively listening as it sits silently in the trees.

The good news is that our Lord gives wisdom generously to those who ask.  James 1:5 says If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.”  Proverbs 2:6 says, “For the LORD gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.”  If you truly want to be wise, look not to the owl but to the God who created owls!  Do you have wisdom like an owl?


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Are You Like A Hollow Tree?

Are you like a hollow tree?

Every time I see a hollow tree while hiking through the woods I always knock on it in hopes of seeing some sleepy animal coming out to greet me.  There have been a few occasions where my habitual knocking have produced something wild, like the time I found a nest of baby raccoons and the time a swarm of angry bees erupted from the cavity.  It’s not always a good experience initially, but the mystery of the tree’s cavity always gets the best of me.

A rotting of the heartwood in the tree typically causes hollows in trees.  This can occur as a result of stress brought on by disease, lightening strikes, fungi, bacteria and a slew of other agitators.  The emptiness in these trees weakens them and can lead to their death if the cavity is great enough.  The integrity of the tree is compromised because the strength of the tree lies in its core.  The rotted heartwood negates its structural integrity making it susceptible to breaking during storms.  We can use this as an obvious parallel if we allow the stress of this world to cause emptiness in us.  When we are stressed out and we allow emptiness to consume us, any number of things can fill the void.

Proverbs 4:23 says, Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.”  As believers in Christ, we are called to guard our hearts because that is where Jesus takes residence as we believe in Him.  Our heart is the wellspring of our lives and out of the excess of our heart we will speak as scripture says.  As believers we can fill our emptiness with the love of Christ because He is more than enough to satisfy our every need!  Are you like a hollow tree?


If you liked this devotional be sure to pick up a copy of "Whispers In The Woods" to have a collection of 52 similar devotionals for your spiritual growth and encouragement.  Click HERE to order a copy!

Are You Royal Like A Ball Python?

Are You Royal Like The Ball Python?

          If you have spent any time in your local pet store or flipped through a book about snakes, you have probably seen pictures of the Royal Ball Python; more commonly just called the Ball Python.  Did you know that the Latin name for this snake is Python regius?  The scientific names of animals often will give us a more descriptive name of the animal and it also eliminates the confusion with common names.  In the case of the Royal Ball Python, aka Python regius, we know that the genus name Python refers to a class of constricting snakes and the species name, regius, actually means “of the king or belonging to the king.”So let me ask you again, are you royal like the ball python?  If you are a believer in

          Jesus Christ the answer is YES!  Let me break it down for you.  John 1:12-13 says “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.”  Galatians 3:26-27 says “So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.”  Jesus Christ is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords and if you are among those called children of God you too are heirs to royalty.  Romans 8:17 says Now if we are children, then we are heirs--heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” 


If you liked this devotional be sure to pick up a copy of "Whispers In The Woods" to have a collection of 52 similar devotionals for your spiritual growth and encouragement.  Click HERE to order a copy!

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Step In The River

Will God part the Red Sea for you or do you have to take the initiative and step into the Jordan River by faith?  Joshua chapter 3 deals with the people of Israel under new leadership getting ready to lay claim to the promises of God.

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