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A Tree Whose Leaf Touched the Sky!

Leaf on the sidewalk

Leaf on the sidewalk with MinnieWalking home with Minnie yesterday I saw this leaf caught in the extreme angle of the sun on the sidewalk. I decided to showcase this amazing creation of God’s and looked up verses that talked about “trees” and “leaves.” Instead of finding a simple thought or verse giving a glimpse into God’s character, love and grace, I found this powerful testimony from King Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel. While it wasn’t my original intent, this letter just blew me away. I think God wants someone on in our Only God community to read this. I know it really spoke to me. I recall studying this passage with a Bible study group my wife and I were leading several years ago. We were discussing God’s sovereignty – His jurisdiction, rule, supremacy, dominion, power and authority over our lives. My doctor had just found an extremely rare form of cancer in my neck. As I shared my diagnosis with our group, one of the women in our Bible study said in amazement that she had had the exact same cancer 10 years before and said I would be OK. Well, that was 10 years ago and after surgeries and follow-ups I can say she was right! God amazed us all as we considered his ways and how he brought us together. Read Daniel 4 and marvel at God’s amazing ways…

 

From Daniel 4:

King Nebuchadnezzar,

To the nations and peoples of every language, who live in all the earth: May you prosper greatly!

It is my pleasure to tell you about the miraculous signs and wonders that the Most High God has performed for me.

How great are his signs, how mighty his wonders!

His kingdom is an eternal kingdom; his dominion endures from generation to generation.

I, Nebuchadnezzar, was at home in my palace, contented and prosperous. I had a dream that made me afraid. As I was lying in bed, the images and visions that passed through my mind terrified me. So I commanded that all the wise men of Babylon be brought before me to interpret the dream for me.When the magicians, enchanters, astrologers. Finally, Daniel came into my presence and I told him the dream. (He is called Belteshazzar, after the name of my god, and the spirit of the holy gods is in him.)
I said, “Belteshazzar (Daniel), chief of the magicians, I know that the spirit of the holy gods is in you, and no mystery is too difficult for you. Here is my dream; interpret it for me. These are the visions I saw while lying in bed: I looked, and there before me stood a tree in the middle of the land. Its height was enormous. The tree grew large and strong and its top touched the sky; it was visible to the ends of the earth. Its leaves were beautiful, its fruit abundant, and on it was food for all. Under it the wild animals found shelter, and the birds lived in its branches; from it every creature was fed.

“In the visions I saw while lying in bed, I looked, and there before me was a holy one, a messenger,coming down from heaven. He called in a loud voice: ‘Cut down the tree and trim off its branches; strip off its leaves and scatter its fruit. Let the animals flee from under it and the birds from its branches. But let the stump and its roots, bound with iron and bronze, remain in the ground, in the grass of the field.

“‘Let him be drenched with the dew of heaven, and let him live with the animals among the plants of the earth. Let his mind be changed from that of a man and let him be given the mind of an animal, till seven times pass by for him.

“‘The decision is announced by messengers, the holy ones declare the verdict, so that the living may know that the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes and sets over them the lowliest of people.’

“This is the dream that I, King Nebuchadnezzar, had. Now, Belteshazzar (Daniel), tell me what it means, for none of the wise men in my kingdom can interpret it for me. But you can, because the spirit of the holy gods is in you.”

Daniel Interprets the Dream

Then Daniel was greatly perplexed for a time, and his thoughts terrified him. So the king said, “Belteshazzar (Daniel), do not let the dream or its meaning alarm you.”

Belteshazzar (Daniel) answered, “My lord, if only the dream applied to your enemies and its meaning to your adversaries! The tree you saw, which grew large and strong, with its top touching the sky, visible to the whole earth, with beautiful leaves and abundant fruit, providing food for all, giving shelter to the wild animals, and having nesting places in its branches for the birds — Your Majesty, you are that tree! You have become great and strong; your greatness has grown until it reaches the sky, and your dominion extends to distant parts of the earth.

“Your Majesty saw a holy one, a messenger, coming down from heaven and saying, ‘Cut down the tree and destroy it, but leave the stump, bound with iron and bronze, in the grass of the field, while its roots remain in the ground. Let him be drenched with the dew of heaven; let him live with the wild animals, until seven times pass by for him.’

“This is the interpretation, Your Majesty, and this is the decree the Most High has issued against my lord the king: You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like the ox and be drenched with the dew of heaven. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes. The command to leave the stump of the tree with its roots means that your kingdom will be restored to you when you acknowledge that Heaven rules. Therefore, Your Majesty, be pleased to accept my advice: Renounce your sins by doing what is right, and your wickedness by being kind to the oppressed. It may be that then your prosperity will continue.”

The Dream Is Fulfilled

All this happened to King Nebuchadnezzar. Twelve months later, as the king was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, he said, “Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?”

Even as the words were on his lips, a voice came from heaven, “This is what is decreed for you, King Nebuchadnezzar: Your royal authority has been taken from you. You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like the ox. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes.”

Immediately what had been said about Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled. He was driven away from people and ate grass like the ox. His body was drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair grew like the feathers of an eagle and his nails like the claws of a bird.

At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored. Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified him who lives forever.

His dominion is an eternal dominion; his kingdom endures from generation to generation.
All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing.
He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth.
No one can hold back his hand or say to him: “What have you done?”

At the same time that my sanity was restored, my honor and splendor were returned to me for the glory of my kingdom. My advisers and nobles sought me out, and I was restored to my throne and became even greater than before. Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble.

A New Year!

OnlyGod365 Clouds Eccl 3-11(2)

A year has passed. Our OnlyGod family has experienced incredible joys and unfathomable sorrow as we have seen little ones born, friends and family die, even hurricanes with terrible fury ripping through our friends homes in the Philippines.

God’s mighty hand has been working in ways only He understands. And through it all His purposes cannot be thwarted. His reign is steadfast and supreme.

It’s like looking at the underside of a rug with its fibers seemingly in a tangle, wondering how do all the knots and threads make anything but a mess! We are looking at the wrong side of the rug. God sees the top of the rug with the perfect symmetry and a beautiful pattern He designed, and works all the fibers together into His beautiful tapestry and plan.

So look forward to 2014 with anticipation, joy and love. Make good plans but know His plans are supreme. When His plans turn out to be different than yours, try to smile and say, “Ok, God, let’s take your journey today!”

Two days ago my brother and I held an urn containing the ashes of our mother and scattered them in the lake she loved and lived at for 35 years. We had done the same 10 years ago with her son and our dear brother Robert. We dropped flowers on the top of the lake and prayed Psalm 23 as the flowers slowly drifted away with the current. “Ashes to ashes and dust to dust” never was more real than at that moment.

At her memorial service, I thought of Mom’s 86 years of toil, worry, laughter, love, anger, thoughts and prayers. The same things I experience every day. And wondered what does it all mean? Why do we all do what we do every day if someday we will experience the same fate? God didn’t give me a blinding flash of an answer. But after the service my 7 year old granddaughter looked up at me with tears in her eyes and simply said in her soft voice, “Papa George, I’m sorry about MeMo” and reached up and took my hand. I then knew why it was worth it all. She was hurting too. But in her hurt, she reached out and reached up. I will never forget that moment.

So when a friend experiences need, or sorrow, don’t walk the other way or find your smart phone to distract you. Reach out to take a hand, give a hug and say something encouraging. Make it a point to find someone every day to smile at, feed, clothes, love, nourish or help in some small random way. Give them that 50 cents they are short at the hamburger place. Pick up a can they discarded on the road and throw it away instead of cursing them. Give them your best coat, not the one you’d never wear again. Be gentle, tenderhearted. Forgiving. Surprise someone with a hand writen card and tell them you’ve been thinking about them.

Be Jesus to someone today.

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”

Ecclesiastes 3:11

 

Fire!

Fire!Only God could have created fire! I took this picture in my fireplace at Christmas as we were roasting marshmallows with the grandkids. Then I looked at it again really closely and marveled at the complexity and power of a God who could create such a thing as fire! I asked my son-in-law Justin for a verse… He immediately said “Our God is an all consuming fire!” Hebrews 12:14-29. Here are excerpts…

“Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. …You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven? At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe,

…for our “God is an all consuming fire.”

A Magnificent Live Oak Tree in Fort Walton Beach, Florida!

A Massive, Graceful, Live Oak in Fort Walton Beach, Florida

This amazing live oak tree anchors a playground in Fort Walton Beach, Florida where we took the kids a couple of weeks ago. Carol took this picture looking up into the tree and the mass and beauty of this living sculpture by God was astonishing! Beneath the tree we all played with the kids on the seemingly tiny playground equipment while this fortress formed a massive umbrella over us. What random paths the limbs seemed to take away from the trunk, with the branches reaching out for light perfectly creating a uniform canopy of shade.

I am reminded of God’s Word in Psalm 91…

God is my shield and my strength
I put my trust in him

He is my protector
His shadow watches over me
I will rest in it

I am covered in God’s wings
My refuge is in his wings

God’s faithfullness is my shield and rampart
They will protect me

The Lord Most High will protect me
He is my dwelling and my refuge

He has commanded his angels to watch over me and guard me
They lift me up in their hands
To keep me safe and guard me from evil

“Because he loves me,” says the Lord,
“I rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
He will call upon me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.”

A Beautiful Beach Carved By a Master Craftsman!

A Beautiful Beach Carved By a Master Craftsman!

“When He established the heavens, I was there. When He inscribed a circle on the face of the deep, when He made firm the skies above, when the springs of the deep became fixed, when He set for the sea its boundary so that the water would not transgress His command, when He marked out the foundations of the earth; then I was beside Him, as a master workman; And I was daily His delight, rejoicing always before Him, rejoicing in the world, His earth, And having my delight in the sons of men.” Proverbs 8:28-31

In Proverbs 8, God’s attribute of Wisdom is personified as a workman toiling along with the Creator. Read the entire verse to understand this beautiful passage – Proverbs 8. Indeed, this scripture in Proverbs points to Christ – referred to as the embodiment of wisdom from God in 1 Corinthians 1:30-31. “It is because of Him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God — that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.” 1 Cor. 1:30-31. What a wonderful, creative and powerful God we serve! And how gloriously He demonstrates wisdom in His creation!

A few technical details – I shot this in Pensacola, Florida in 2007 and have been playing with the image ever since in Photoshop and then in Corel Painter 12. Shot with a Nikon D300 on a business trip to Gulf Power. Hope you like it! And thanks so much to my son-in-law, Dr. Jonathan Huggins, Chaplain at Berry College for helping me with the insight into this passage! – George

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A Beautiful Sunset on a Warm Fall Evening in Destin!

A Beautiful Sunset on a Warm Fall Evening in Destin!

“If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;
Even there shall thy hand lead me, And thy right hand shall hold me.”
Psalm 139:9-11

My daughter Christy loves the Lord, her family and photography! She sent me this beautiful photo of Destin for OnlyGod365.com. This picture reminds me of God’s eternal, steady and patient hand and how He set the planets in motion for us to wonder about all our days. And what power it takes every day to create light, the tides, orbits and the science that allows us to enjoy a perfect climate. And yet, as I write this, He also sends the amazing, fearsome, inexplicable, powerful storms like Hurricane Sandy, that can cause 50 mile per hour winds here in Georgia while hitting the New England coast a thousand miles away! What power, contrast and wonder. It should fill us with a deep sense of awe and humility. As we see the devastation, we are called to help in any way we can. If you would like to meet the needs of those impacted, please visit Samaritan’s Purse to see how you can help.

Cool Beach Sand on a Hot Windy Day!

Cool Beach Sand on a Hot Windy Day!“How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand.
When I am awake, I am still with you.” Psalm 139:17-18

Think about that. God’s thoughts outnumber the grains of sand. That makes sense, because each grain of sand required a thought to be created! What an awesome, powerful, infinite God! But more than that. A God who thinks about each of us, every day, every hour, every minute, every second! As I was thinking about this I looked up the verse Psalm 139:17 and found a link to a devotional on the subject. It is by the Fathers Love Letter and I love what it says…Click Here and take comfort!
P.S. By the way, these feet belong to some extremely wonderful people in my life! My wife Carol, daughter Lisa and granddaughters Ava and Abigail!

Hurricane Hannah off Saint Augustine in 2008 (click for video)

“For behold, He who forms mountains, And creates the wind, Who declares to man what his thought is, And makes the morning darkness, Who treads the high places of the earth—The Lord God of hosts is His name.” Amos 4:13

(CLICK THE PHOTO TO START THE VIDEO) I shot this time lapse of Hurricane Hannah as it moved up the coast off Saint Augustine four years ago (and yes, those are people God created walking up and down the beach!) It was shot with a time lapse setting on my D300 shot every 30 seconds for about 6 hours. What amazing clouds and power! The hurricane was was actually about 200 miles off the coast and moved all the way up from South Florida to the northeast Coast.

Dramatic Clouds on a Fresh Fall Day over Lilburn, Georgia

Lilburn Clouds

Waiting for my car to be worked on in Lilburn, this amazing sky was forming overhead. It was a transition kind of day. Cool and warm air colliding with fresh breezes among the broken car parts and half completed assemblies on the ground waiting for all their components to be attached so they could work as a team to transport a family on vacation or a kid to soccer practice.
Time to stop and smell the roses…and grease!

 

 

 

Clouds Over Stone Mountain

clouds

A Beautiful Bright Sunny Day at the Stone Mountain Yellow Daisy Festival