Thursday, June 17, 2021

Did Elvis Leave Really the Building?



    Sure enough, it was Elvis!  My sister Ava and I hurried over and got a picture with him before he left the building.  We were excited - I mean, it's not everyday you get to see Elvis!

    Of course, we were just having a bit of fun.  Even though this man looked like Elvis, talked and sang like Elvis, he was not Elvis.  Elvis actually left the building way back in 1977.   In this case, we visited the Legends Theater in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and watched the delightful show featuring look-alikes for a half dozen well-known celebrities.  A few of the performers were spitting images of the entertainer they were impersonating and their singing sounded like them too.  It's actually a bit disorienting at times.  Your mind can be tricked into thinking this is the real thing.

    As I thought about impersonations, I couldn't help thinking of Satan - the great imposter.  While the entertainers we watched pretended to be famous singers, it was all done in fun and no one actually believed this person was the real Elvis, or any of the other celebrities were real.

    Sadly, in the real world, people are sometimes fooled by Satan and his emissaries.  Scripture warns us about such impersonators - "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves," Matthew 7:15.  Talk about being disoriented - imagine a seemingly kind and gentle preacher (a prophet in sheep's clothing) speaking about how there is no hell - God loves everyone and will surely not leave anyone out of heaven.  Does that sound like the truth to you?  Some people believe such lies and other false statements, and don't realize that preacher who is acting all cheerful and kind is really a ravenous wolf sent by Satan to lead people astray.

     The warning continues in 1 John 4:  "Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world."

      If what you are hearing is not in line with the truth of the Scripture - God's Holy Word - then, it is false and not from God.  And so, it's important to be familiar with what God says to us.  "Study to show yourself approved unto God, a workmen who needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth," 2 Timothy 2:15 KJV.  

     When Jesus was talking about being the Good Shepherd and caring for His sheep (we who are Christians), He said that His sheep follow Him, "for they know His voice," John 10:4.

     And so, the moral of the story is this -- watching a fake Elvis, fake Alan Jackson, fake Karen Carpenter, and fake Reba, is great fun!  But, falling for a false preacher/prophet is NOT - in all caps.  Don't let a trickster trick you into believing a lie.  Jesus said, "If you abide in My word, you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free," John 8:31.

Thursday, June 10, 2021




     I felt fortunate that the dinosaur I was petting didn't turn around and bite my arm off.  We saw this mural on the wall of a business in Norfolk, in a charming little area called Chelsea.  Of course, I couldn't pass up an opportunity to become part of the picture.  Fun!

     It's also cool that I'm shown standing beside a dinosaur, because there was a time - early in earth's history that people may have interacted with at least some species of dinosaur.  I doubt the T-Rex was ever warm and fuzzy, but some of the plant-eating variety might not have been so dangerous.

     I know the popular belief is that dinosaurs became extinct before man came on the scene, but not only are scientist and historians disproving that belief more frequently now, the Bible has a couple of important facts to add to the dialogue.

     One of my favorite sections regarding this is found in the ancient book of Job.  There, God not only describes what appears to be a brontosaurus (or maybe an apatosaurus), but talks about it being an animal Job is familiar with.  Here's a bit of the scripture:  "Look now at the behemoth, which I made along with you; he eats grass like an ox.  See now, his strength is in his hips, and his power is in his stomach muscles.  He moves his tail like a cedar; the sinews of his thighs are tightly knit.  His bones are like beams of bronze, his ribs like bars of iron..." 40:15-18.  I'd say that's a pretty good description of a dinosaur.

     Of course, in Genesis 1, when God describes His creation of the earth and all that's in it, He tells us that He created all the land animals on the sixth day of creation - which would include all the dinosaurs.  

     Another of my favorite proofs is found on an 800 year old carving at an ancient Hindu temple Ta Prohm in Angkor Wat, Cambodia.  All of the stone carvings at this temple are of real animals the people would have interacted with.  This carving bears a striking resemblance to a stegosaurus.  How would these people have been able to carve such a beast if they had not seen one?

       Over the centuries of written history, there have been many sightings of dinosaurs.  The word "dinosaur" was not coined until 1842 by Richard Owen.  Prior to that, the beasts were often called "dragons."  In the third century, Flavius Philostratus wrote, "The whole of India is girt with dragons of enormous size; for not only the marshes are full of them, but the mountains as well, and there is not a single ridge without one.  Now the marsh kind are sluggish in their habits and are thirty cubits long (that’s 45 feet long), and they have no crest standing up on their heads.”

      An unexpected scientific discovery in 2000 of “elastic, like living tissue” from inside the femur of a recently excavated Tyrannosaurus fossil nicknamed “B. rex” was an incredible discovery.  A report read:  “It looked like the soft tissue you would have expected to find if it had been modern bone. This was impossible. This bone was 68 million years old!” The report stated that “being a fossil, there should have been nothing left. But there was.”

      In recent decades, soft, squishy tissues have been discovered inside fossilized dinosaur bones more frequently. Scientists admit, they seem so fresh that it appears as though the bodies were buried only a few thousand years ago.

     I know that this post is controversial and yet I decided to write it anyway.  I think it's nice to look at things from a new perspective and think outside the box. I'd love to hear what you think about this subject.  I'll end with these words from Ecclesiastes 3:  "To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven...He has made everything beautiful in its time," 1 & 11.

Thursday, June 3, 2021

If the Shoe Fits....



     Aren't the cowgirl boots on the top row cute?  These boots were in Virginia City, Nevada - definitely cowboy/cowgirl country!  I especially like the pair in the middle - brown with green hearts.  I would love to be able to wear cowgirl boots, but they never fit me.  I've tried pulling a pair on, but I can never get my foot past the tight ankle area.  Sadly, these boots aren't made for  walking in my case.

Here are some very different shoes - these are made out of wood and painted with windmills.  We saw these shoes in Amsterdam.  Have you ever tried on a pair of wooden shoes?  As you may imagine, they are stiff, hard, and noisy.  No sneaking up on someone in a pair of these clogs!  Nope, these wooden boats didn't fit either.

This is my favorite display of shoes.  My five-year old granddaughter packed these shoes for our recent Outer Banks vacation trip and then carefully arranged them on a shelf in her room.  I think she did a great job, both with her choices and her arrangement.  She takes after her Meemaw with her fondness for footwear.  As much as I love the pink boots and sandals -- they obviously won't fit my size 7 foot.

Here's a question to ponder:  If Cinderella's shoe fit perfectly, then why did it fall off?  

As I think about how important it is to wear shoes that fit properly, I'm reminded that it's also important to "wear" the correct shoe in our spiritual walk with the Lord.  In Ephesians, Paul tells us that along with putting on the whole armor of God, it's important to have our feet shod "with the preparation of the gospel of peace," 6:15, because "beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!" Romans 10:15.

God gives us a really cool and powerful promise about our feet in Romans 16:20:  "And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly.  The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you."  

When an angel came to break Peter out of prison, one of the first things he said after telling him to, "Arise quickly!" was, "Gird yourself and tie on your sandals," Acts 12:8.  

These are just a few thoughts about not just the right footwear, but more importantly, the right direction our feet take us in this world.  Psalm 119:105 says, "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path."  And so we should say, "As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him," Colossians 2:6.

Here are shoes that fit my feet to a "T."  In fact, they're one of my favorite pair of shoes and I feel happy when I wear them.  In this picture, they're standing on a beautiful mosaic floor of the Wynn Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada.  Do you have a favorite pair of shoes?

Thursday, May 27, 2021

The Power of Music



This picture of my sister Ava and I was taken years ago in a cathedral in Palermo, Sicily.  We often sang duets together in our church.  No one else was around, so we decided to break into song just for the fun of it.  After all, music is a universal language -- and we don't speak Italian.

There’s a song our choir used to sing that begins with these words, “All praise, King Jesus; all praise Emmanuel.  King of kings, Lord of lords, Bright Morning Star…”  I can’t remember the rest of the words, nor the name of the song, but I just love the wonder and awesome praise contained in those beginning words.  It’s the song of my heart!

 In a song, the sound of the music and the power of the lyrics can work together to create something that touches the soul more deeply than mere words can do.  Here are some interesting quotes describing the power of music:

 --“Music is the literature of the heart; it commences where speech ends,” Alphonse de Lamartine

--“Joy, sorrow, tears, lamentations, laughter – to all these music gives voice,” Albert Schweitzer

--“Music hath charms to soothe the savage breast; to soften rocks, or bend the knotted oak,” by William Congreve in 1697.  Interestingly, this idea was taken from a poem written way back around 65AD by a Roman poet Lucan, who wrote, “Whose charming voice and matchless musick mov'd / The savage beasts, the stones, and senseless trees.”

 I agree with each of these well-spoken quotes.  Music wrings at the heart and can express a truth in a poetic way that – as the poet said – can “soften rocks or bend the knotted oak.”  Below, I’ve chosen some stanzas from songs that have recently spoken to my heart.  Some present powerful Bible stories in a few words, while others describe cries of the heart with poignancy.  You can listen to these songs on YouTube.  Be blessed by their messages!

      Gardens to Graves, by Elevation Worship

You turn mourning to dancing  /  You give beauty for ashes
You turn shame into glory  /   You're the only one who can
 You turn graves into garden  /  You turn bones into armies
You turn seas into highways  /  You're the only one who can   

       God Who Listens, by Chris Tomlin

The God who made the winters and the summers
The One who put the stars all in their place
The only One who stands above all others 

He knows me by name

The angels hide their faces in His presence
The demons run for cover when You speak
You rule the world and reign above the heavens
And still draw close to me

I'm not just hopin', I'm not just wishin'
I know I'm prayin' to a God who listens
I know He hears me, I know He's livin'
Yes, I am prayin' to a God who listens

      Another in the Fire, by Hillsong

There was another in the fire  /  Standing next to me
There was another in the waters  /  Holding back the seas
And should I ever need reminding  /  Of how I've been set free
There is a cross that bears the burden  /   Where another died for me

I can see the light in the darkness  /   As the darkness bows to Him
I can hear the roar in the heavens  /  As the space between wears thin
I can feel the ground shake beneath us  /  As the prison walls cave in
Nothing stands between us  -  Nothing stands between us

There is no other name  /  But the name that is Jesus
He who was and still is  /  And will be through it all

The Psalms are full of songs of praise to the Lord.  One of my favorites is Psalm 96:  "Oh, sing to the Lord a new song!  Sing to the Lord, all the earth. Sing to the Lord, bless His name; proclaim the good news of His salvation from day to day, declare His glory among the nations, His wonders among all peoples."


Thursday, May 20, 2021

God's Word Illustrated - 2



This photo of a stain glass in a church in Vancouver, Canada, is supposed to be St. Paul with his writing tools, representing the many epistles and books he wrote in the New Testament.  The Holy Bible - the most important book in the world is God's letter to His people -- the very words of God!  Below, are some pictures I've chosen to illustrate some of the verses in the Bible. I hope you enjoy them.

"Two are better than one...for if they fall, one will lift up his companion.
But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one 
to help him up," Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 

"It is better to live in a corner of the housetop than in a house 
shared with a quarrelsome wife," Proverbs 21:9 & 25:24
(yes, this verse is such an important warning, it's in two places)

"Even the stork in the heavens knows her appointed times...but My 
people do not know the judgment of the Lord," Jeremiah 8:7

"Then all the trees of the woods will rejoice before the Lord," 
Psalm 96:12

"Beware  of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, 
but inwardly they are ravenous wolves," Matthew 7:15

"Oh come, let us sing to the Lord!  Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our
salvation. Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; Let us shout joyfully
to Him with psalms. For the Lord is the great God," Psalms 95:1-3

The first "God's Word Illustrated" post ran on March 23, 2019 - in case you want see other verses.
--Sculptures of the two children and of the old woman can be found in downtown Charlotte, NC.
--The final five photos were taken at random spots in Busch Gardens, Williamsburg, VA.

Thursday, May 13, 2021

This is Your Story



    The English writer, G.K. Chesterton once said, "I had always felt life first as a story -- and if there is a story, there is a story teller,"  - or, we could say - there is an Author with a capital "A."

    Many of the fairy tales we grew up reading began with the familiar phrase, "Once upon a time...." and from that opening, a story about people and their lives spun out.  Although fairy tales are fiction, they often mirror real life.  Our world's "Once upon a time...." story began in Genesis 1:1, with the words:  "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth."  Right away we meet the great Author of our story -- God.

    You could say that each of us began our own story with the phrase, "Once upon a time _____ (fill in your name) was born.  This was your beginning - the first breath of who you are today.  Lots of things have happened between that moment and this moment.  As with any story, there is conflict, laughter, tears, good times and bad times.  Have you ever read a novel that didn't have some sort of conflict or some kind of villain?

    What are some of the conflicts that have appeared in your life story?  Conflict is actually a requirement when writing a story.  Jesus said, "In this world you will have trouble...." John 16:33.  It's not a case of "if" you have trouble/conflict, but rather "when" you have trouble.

    There's always a villain in every story too.  The villain at the heart of many of our troubles is that old enemy Satan who is always throwing snares at us.  His goal is to cause you as much heartache as possible.

    But there is also a Hero in our story.  There's always a hero, but this Hero is better than all others.  Unlike the heroes of fairy tales who have limited powers, the Hero of our story is in control of all things, knows all things, and is all love.  Here's what the Psalmist David said about our Hero, "Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me; You will stretch out Your hand against the wrath of my enemies and Your right hand will save me.  The Lord will perfect that which concerns me; Your mercy, O Lord, endures forever," 138:7-8.

    The ultimate purpose of our story unfolding is for the love of God to shine through our lives so that all the world that surrounds us will see how wonderful He is in our lives.  Priscilla Shirer writes, "Make sure your life writes a story worth reading. In future generations, your story will be the one that encourages someone else to follow hard after God.  You've been given the opportunity to write a story beyond your expectations...."

    "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven," Matthew 5:16.

     The bronze sculpture of stacked books in the photo was created by Jim Gallucci in 2003, and is located in Charlotte, North Carolina, at the entrance to a small park called The Green.

Friday, May 7, 2021

A Gift & A Birthday



Hmmm....what's in the box?  I received this surprise gift box for my birthday.  It says, "Cheryl's Cookies" on top - and I'm a huge fan of cookies, so I'm eager to open the box and see what's inside.

Oh, wow!  A box full of assorted iced cookies - 36 cookies!  

Some of the cookies are decorated, some are sprinkled with nuts, a few are plain, and others are simply iced.  I do love an iced cookie!!  Most of the cookies are vanilla with buttercream frosting - always good.  I also like the butter pecan flavor, but not too crazy about the mint or cafe latte.  The plain sugar cookie - well, it's plain, what can I say.  All in all, it is a delicious gift that I will enjoy for months to come (I froze some).

So, what does this description of my mystery box and the many cookies have to do with a birthday message?

As I thought about the unopened box with questions about its content, it made me think of the new year in my life that is spread out before me.  The content of each hour and day and week within this year's box is a mystery to me, but not to God.  I love that God knows each breath I will take until the day I die or I'm raptured to heaven.  The Psalmist writes, "All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be," 139:16.

When I look at the different cookies and taste the different flavors, I'm reminded that each day within that box of my next year will be different -- some days will taste better than others.  Some days will be pretty and some days will be plain.  I may not be too crazy about some of those days, but other days will surely bring me delight.  I love verses 9-10, "If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast."  No matter what kind of day I will have, God is there with me -- always.

I will weave Psalm 139 into my thoughts as I consider that God brought me into the world on May 7, 1946, "I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made..."  He knows everything about me - even more than I know about myself, " are familiar with all my ways.  Before a word is on my tongue, you know it completely, O Lord."  He cares for me deeply - "You hem me in - behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me..."  And I praise His name - "How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!"

A birthday is cause for celebration of a life created by God for His good purpose.  Every single life is special to Him "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you," Jeremiah 1:5.  There are no throw-aways in God's creations - He has a plan for every life.  I hope that your birthday will be cause for celebration this year and that your box of days will spread out before you with blessing upon blessing.