Saturday, January 31, 2015

God's Treasury of Ice

"Have you entered the treasury of snow,
or have you seen the treasury of hail...?"
God asked Job (38:22)

I'm ending the month of January with final photos I took of the ice we enjoyed seeing in Williamsburg on the 15th.  Our walk down Duke of Gloucester Street was a bit cold, but stepping back in time to the Colonial era in a winter wonderland of ice was well-worth the chill.  The sun was shining and ice dripped from trees as if it were raining.  In spite of the melting, you can see from the pictures that crystal tree limbs down to the tiniest twig were still plentiful and icicles hung tightly to eaves as they slowly shrunk into the green moss.  I enjoyed every moment of the walk and praise God for sharing His treasury of ice with us.

 "He comes from the north as golden splendor;
with God is awesome majesty" Job 37:22

Walking along the historic street with its ice-covered trees, one could imagine a time in the past when our ancestors walked this same way.  With the British flag hanging beside a hitching post and the handsome brick Capitol in the distance, one gets a glimpse of another time.  I'm so thankful that God holds all of time within His control.  He has a plan that will bring all of mankind and earth's struggles -- including the Revolutionary War that was fought in this place -- to a good end.  In Jeremiah, He says to His people, "'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future'" 29:11. 
Our God holds the past, the present and the future in His loving, all-powerful Hands.  What an amazing blessing!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Ice is Nice

"He sends out His command to the earth;
His word runs very swiftly.
He gives snow like wool;
He scatters the frost like ashes"
"He casts out His hail like morsels;
Who can stand before His cold?"
"He sends out His word and melts them;
He causes His wind to blow, and the waters flow"
Psalm 147:15-18
"For to the snow He says,
'Fall on the earth'..." Job 37:6
"By the breath of God ice is given,
and the broad waters are frozen" Job 37:10
Nature encased in ice by the Hand of its Creator.  Trees dipped in melting crystal, shimmering in God-given sunlight.  "Make a joyful shout to God, all the earth!  Sing out the honor of His name; make His praise glorious.  Say to God, 'How awesome are Your works!'" Psalm 66:1-3.

--Photos by Sandra, your Joyful Writer


Friday, January 23, 2015

My New Book

"Deadly Masquerade"
by Sandra Julian Barker
I just published my newest fiction novel on Kindle yesterday and I'm offering it free of charge for four days (Jan 23-26).  You can go into Amazon and load the book onto your Kindle, your pc or laptop or tablet, or even your phone (I think).  I hope you'll get the book, read it, like it, and write a nice review on Amazon.
This book is not in the Christian category (sorry!), but it is in the "clean" category, although it is a murder mystery.  I actually wrote this book about 20 years ago and polished it up recently for publication. 
I hope you like the book -- happy reading!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

God Breathes Ice

"By the breath of God ice is given,
And the broad waters are frozen" Job 37:10

   Last Wednesday morning, we awoke to a winter wonderland of ice.  In the wee hours of the morning, God poured freezing rain from the sky in the form of sleet and sheathed every tree, bush and blade of grass with a layer of ice.  It was beautiful - as you can see from these pictures I took in Williamsburg where we spent the week.  This delightful display of "crystal nature" lasted for two days.  These photos were taken the first day when temperatures remained low and the sun stayed hidden.  In my next post I'll share photos of the second day when the sun shone and sparkled on the crystal ice.
"...the frost of heaven, who gives it birth?"
God asks Job (38:29)
I love it when God shows off a bit of His amazing power for our enjoyment.  I felt like I'd been transported to a magical crystal kingdom of glittering trees.  Icicles festooned every edge like millions of glass daggers frozen in time and space.  Only God Himself could decorate His world to such an extent -- and with such an eye for dramatic beauty.

Almighty God, thank you for this beautiful display!

Saturday, January 17, 2015


I took this intriguing picture in Myrtle Beach.  While it looks almost like an illustration, it's really a gigantic statue of a fierce gorilla (King Kong, no doubt) clinging to a full-size building along the Route 17 bypass.  It's certainly an eye-catching display!

This huge, fearsome gorilla would be horrifying if it were real.  Thankfully, it's make-believe, but it brings to mind many of the horrifying things that are real in this world.  On more than one occasion when I've heard about something bad happening, I'll comment, "It's a jungle out there!"

It is indeed a jungle out there and horrors even worse than a giant gorilla are attacking Christians all over the world.  Ever since that wicked serpent slithered into the Garden of Eden, he changed the topography from a beautiful garden into a danger-filled jungle and life has never been the same.

Over the holidays, I felt like I was in a jungle surrounded by sick people with germs floating around, ready to attack.  Sure enough, I was invaded by some of those germs and became a sick person myself.  Then, there's the jungle of bad news that surrounds us and often manages to pull us down onto the murky, muddy jungle path of distress.

Sunday morning when the clock radio popped on to wake us, the news was on and even before we were out of bed, we heard that another Indonesian plane had gone down and was missing, a ferry full of people was on fire in stormy weather, and there was some murder reported.  I said, "Whoa!  What a way to greet the day!" 

This world we live in can often appear to be one giant jungle of danger and distress and, because it is a sinful world with Satan as the prince of the power of the air, there will always be bad things happening.  But, for those of us who are children of the glorious King, our true home is in that perfect world where our Savior is preparing a place for us to live with Him.  Until that day comes, we'll be treading on some jungle paths, but no worries....we have a jungle Guide who has promised to never leave us.  Here are some verses to remind us that He is in control of all things:

 "But He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me,
I shall come forth as gold"  Job 23:10
"In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct
your path"  Proverbs 3:6
"Therefore we will not fear, even though the earth
be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the
midst of the sea...God is in the midst of her, she shall not
be moved...The Lord of hosts is with us"  Psalm 46

God knows the way through the jungle and He will bring us through to the other side.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Upside Down

Do you ever feel like your life has been turned upside down?  This picture appears to show a building that has been plucked up from the earth and turned upside down, balancing on its roof.  Palm trees hang upside down in the displaced soil like hanging baskets from a ceiling.  This is definitely not a condition you would choose for your home -- or your life!

If you've ever been to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, you may have seen this eye-catching oddity and you know it's really the Ripley's Believe it Or Not Museum.  While it's not likely a building would remain in one piece after such an upheaval, it seems that people are expected to survive upside down events in their lives that would destroy a building.

Have you experienced an upside down event in your life?  Perhaps you are even now going through some pretty earth-shaking experiences and you find yourself crumbling a bit around the edges.  If you're a Christian, you have a much better chance of surviving an upheaval -- and even thriving afterward -- when you turn to the Savior for help, guidance, comfort and wisdom to get through it all.

The Lord promises us, "Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world" Matthew 28:20.  If your life has turned upside down like the building in the picture, you might feel like it is the end of the world -- at least in your little corner of it.  Let's face it, we don't know whether our next step might be into thin air and we go tumbling off a cliff.  That's life in this sinful world in which we live.  We don't even know what's going to happen one minute from this moment.  But, praise God, He knows it all and He's made that awesome promise to be with us, and in us, and all around us "even unto the end of the world." 

Although upside down events are still likely to happen from time to time in this world, knowing He is in control takes the sting out and helps us stay centered.  Praise God for His faithfulness and His great loving ability to pick up those crumbling pieces and put them back together again.

Saturday, January 3, 2015


"How well I have learned that there is no fence to sit on
between heaven and hell. There is a deep, wide gulf,
a chasm, and in that chasm is no place for
any man" - Johnny Cash

Johnny Cash may have made some mistakes in his lifetime, but from what I've heard, he straightened out and this statement was right on target.  When it comes to eternity, mankind stands on one side of the fence or the other side of the fence -- there is no in-between.

The beautiful, ornate wrought iron fence in my photo divides the brick sidewalk from a lovely green yard in the historic Freemason district of Norfolk, Virginia.  As I stood on the sidewalk side, it never entered my mind to try and climb the fence.  I mean -- look at those sharp pointy things at the top.  There ain't no way anyone would attempt to straddle that fence.  Ouch!

The same could be said for the "fence" between heaven and hell.  While many people attempt to straddle the spiritual fence, they all fail -- painfully. 

Thousands of years ago, Joshua asked the Israelite people a question that is still relevant for us today:  "...choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the river or the gods of the Amorites.  But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord" 24:15

A fence like the one in the picture is a beautiful addition to a person's property and can even provide a degree of protection, but a spiritual fence is a dangerous element in a person's life. 

"He has sat on the fence so long that
iron has entered his soul" - David Lloyd George

When I read that quote in the context of this message, it sent a chill through me.  I know unsaved people who have sought to sit on the spiritual fence all their lives and their hearts have grown as cold and hard as the iron in that fence.  Iron has entered their souls and I fear for their chances of salvation (it's still possible, but difficult for them to get to that place of acceptance). 

"I don't think we can sit on the fence anymore. 
We have to make up our minds. 
And if one wants to choose the path of darkness,
then so be it,
but be conscious of what it is you're doing" - Seal

I have no idea what Seal meant when he made this statement, but I do know what it means to me.  I see it as the choice a person must make -- whether to choose darkness or light -- whether to choose death or life.  The trouble is, too many people are not conscious of what they're doing.  You see, sitting on a fence is basically choosing darkness by default.  A person either chooses God, or doesn't choose God.  A fence-sitter is, for all intents and purposes, a person who doesn't choose God.  "He who is not for Me, is against Me" Matthew 12:30.  Sad, but true.

"Anytime you see a turtle on a fence post,
you know he had some help" - Alex Haley

While that quote is humorous (I laughed aloud when I read it), the spiritual message I wring from it is far from humorous.  Satan loves to help people sit on the fence.  In fact, he encourages it.  As far as he is concerned, if you're not actually going to choose him, fence-sitting is the next best thing.  In the end, he gets you either way.

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only
begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not
perish, but have everlasting life" - John 3:16

Praise God, I live on the heaven side of the spiritual fence, because I accepted Christ as my Savior and chose God.  I hope you are on the right side of the fence, but if you're still straddling that painful piece of iron, hop off onto the heaven side with me.  Choose God and live life in the land of the free.  It's so much better than being sucked over into the hell-side of the fence that you'll wonder why you ever thought fence-sitting was an option in the first place!