Enjoy a Peaceful Smoky Mountain Retreat

If you are contemplating a visit to the Great Smoky Mountains, please consider visiting our lovely three-bedroom rental cottage, Rocky Top, located in the Hidden Mountain Resort in Sevierville, Tennessee.

There Are Things You Can See When You “Just Can See”

With World War II looming on the horizon King George VI of England prepared to deliver his Christmas broadcast to the nation. His little daughter, Elizabeth, who was destined to become queen, handed him a paper with these words on it by Minnie Louise Haskins. At the last minute he worked it into his address. It is timely for us in this turbulent time.

“And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year:
“Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”
And he replied:
“Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God.
“That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.”

May these words inspire you as it did England in their dark hour. Bolstered by that wisdom Sir Winston Churchill later challenged his countrymen with his immortal lines which have been distorted from this actual presentation: “never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never-in nothing, great or small, large or petty — never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense.”

Tenacity of will reaches its zenith in this text: “That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.”  II Corinthians 4: 16 – 18 Got it? Let that text be your spiritual night goggles.

When “we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen,” that is a good time to “…put your hand in the hand of God.”

For a person of faith life’s weight on you is not to be compared with the strength within you.

It is a grand time to respond to what Sir Winston referred to as “convictions of honor and good sense.”

In this hour when it seems our nation is about to be swept into the vortex of senseless dishonor and virtue dethroned, character must be revived.

It appears we are further down the road spoken of by the title of a book by Robert H. Bork, a former United States Court of Appeals judge, entitled “Slouching Toward Gomorrah.” 

Our society has been spoken of illustratively as a store front display window with select and valueless items on display. Overnight someone had slipped in and reversed the price tags. Tags indicating an item of value had been switched with those for valueless items.

The ancient prophet Isaiah spoke of such a day: “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, And prudent in their own sight!“ (Isaiah 5:20, 21)

Later the Apostle Peter wrote, “For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge” (II Peter 1: 5)

Those who do are more likely to have that for which I pray, a happy year.

What Now?

T’was the season to be jolly, but with Christmas long in the rear view mirror, now what?

Jesus Christ, “the Prince of Peace,” knowing His followers would be aliens in an antagonistic society said, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” (John 14: 27)

At His birth an angelic messenger said, “Peace on earth, good will toward men…”  Cynics scoffed at such an idea. Mockery is still made of the idea. 

Misanthropists delight to say it has been nearly 2,000 years and this promise hasn’t been realized.

Henry W. Longfellow penned the words resulting from hearing Christmas bells during the un-Civil war and despairing. It sums up the concept held by many. 
“I heard the bells on Christmas day 
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth good-will to men.

“And in despair I bowed my head:
‘There is no peace on earth,’ I said.
“For hate is strong, and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

True, hate is strong. Read it in the headlines of international news. Observe the daily local news of lives taken. Note it in schools where students have so much going for them, yet, they show disregard for one another and inflict physical, emotional, and psychological pain on each other.

In despair we might agree, “There is no peace on earth!”

A biblical perspective seems to have swept across Longfellow’s thoughts as he continued to write:
“Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
God is not dead, nor does He sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will toward men!”

It was to people in the antagonistic environment where hate was strong that Christ said, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16: 33)

This message is misunderstood by many to be a prophecy of peace. Instead it is a prescription for peace. Only when taken does it work.

Even in the acid soil of discontent, bitterness, hate, and tribulation  the sweet fruit of peace grows. 

Resolve to learn from Him the precepts and practices resulting in personal peace that enables you to “be of good cheer.”

When Trouble Comes – And It Will

Into every life some rain must fall – – – and it does.   

Into every life sorrow must come – – – and it does.

No one wants pain, grief, sorrow, and difficulty, I surely don’t, but no one is immuned. Therefore, in approaching this new year, expect it and prepare for it.

My deceased friend, Jerry Clower, got news one evening that one of their children was in critical care at the hospital as a result of a bad car accident. He said as he drove to the hospital he kept praying, “Lord help me to respond like I have always encouraged others to in dire circumstances.”

When trouble comes we should accept it as the norm for everyone. We should not live with an expectant attitude, but with the realization it is part of life. Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble but be of good cheer for I have overcome the world.” He forewarned us.

“Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to.” (I Peter 4: 12)

In proposing the following response to trials, I don’t want to be too simplistic. “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” (James 1: 2 – 4)

This does not mitigate the pain, but it does give it purpose.

Nowhere in the Bible does it say God won’t give us more than we can handle. That idea comes from His promise He will not allow us to be tempted beyond our ability to respond properly.

Unfortunately there are things we can’t handle. Fortunately He will help us, and actually enable us to handle them. He is able.

There is an old hymn with a line that identifies one strengthening principle. It is, “Take your burden to the Lord, and leave it there.” This requires two actions on your behalf. First, taking it to the Lord, and the second, leaving it there.  Resolve as did Job, “When I am tried I will come forth as gold.” We, too, need to have this optimistic outlook for the stresses that we face as this will help us triumph through the most difficult of circumstances.

Yet another song gives us constructive insight:
“I must tell Jesus all of my trials, I cannot bear these burdens alone;
In my distress He kindly will help me, He ever loves and cares for His own.”

The path of positive perseverance leads though troubles not around them.

Another old hymn asks: “Must Jesus bear the cross alone and all the world go free? No, there’s a cross for everyone and there’s a cross for me!”

The hours of adversity are some of the best times to share Jesus by giving others a live action version of the Bible. A “Woe is me” attitude has never attracted anyone to Jesus. A demonstration of the fact He is able to give strength for the trial has drawn others to Jesus. Live your faith to light the way for others. 


Breaking news: “You are not the only one who gets frustrated.”

Frustration is a little child who has beaten on a locked door until exhausted and finally sits down and cries. Have you been there?  Sure, all of us have been.

When that which promises to be exhilarating proves to be exasperating, we end up frustrated.

Webster defines frustration as “a deep chronic sense of insecurity arising from unresolved problems.”

You know that from your own experience. It is when you want something or want to do something real badly and things happen that just step in your way and shout “NOT.”

You have seen it, or perhaps you have been the one seen, whose plans are frustrated and you go ballistic.

Youth experience it when they get all jacked up and life kicks out the jack, causing a big letdown.

Frustration is Moses coming to a much-needed spring of water and finding it dry, starts beating on the rock with his rod.

It is John who gets fed up with the opposition and asks Jesus to call down fire from heaven on them.

Do you ever feel as frustrated as the fellow who bought a new boomerang and had trouble throwing the old one away?

We cause our frustrations because of what and how we think… Solomon wisely wrote: “As a man thinks in his heart so is he” (Proverbs 23:7).

When you feel your frustration building there is an escape valve, a release point: “Cast your burden on the Lord and He shall sustain you…” (Psalms 55:22). 

You can express frustrations to the Lord. He cares for you. Talk to Him about it as though He doesn’t know about it. The good news is not only does He know about it, He knows what to do about it.

In the event your frustration is caused by a person or persons Dale Carnegie offers this advice: “Stop a minute to contrast your keen interest in your own affairs with your mild concerns about anything else. Realize then, that everybody else in the world feels exactly the same way! Then… you will have grasped the only solid foundation for interpersonal relationships; namely, that success in dealing with people depends on a sympathetic grasp of the other person’s viewpoint.”

That is a friendly reminder that everyone, everyone, has a load to carry. Perhaps the person by whom you are being frustrated is doing so because of their own covert frustration. Therefore, if you respond in a negative or critical way you are only compounding the problem. You can ameliorate their and your own frustration by acts and/or expressions of grace. “In honor preferring one another.” (Romans 12:10)

Jesus offered this coping concept, “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them.” (Matt. 7:12)

Return and Renew

Christian ethics are Christ-centered. Our ethical outlook begins with Jesus and His view of life, and controls our ethical outlook. 

It is not based on the fact we are commanded to love, but on a love that commands.  When we hold Christ as our first love, that love commands, that is controls, our world view. The Ephesus syndrome results gradually and subtly.

“Remember” is an appeal to give your head over to Christ.

“Repent” is an appeal to give your heart over to Him.

The word “repent” used here in the Greek is in the aorist tense meaning to have a complete change of mental attitude and has no emotional reference at all.  

The biblical appeal to repent is as often applied to saints out of fellowship as to sinners out of grace. 

The Greek word translated “first” is “protos.” It is a word that suggests they still love, but with a quality and intensity unlike that of their initial love. Is that you? Then now is the expedient time to repent and return to your first love. These imperatives are all part of a single command based on an appeal to remember their first love and how much their enthusiasm for Christ has waned; how much their devotion has diminished.

Might your spiritual life be pictured as ashes on a rusty altar? Such indicates there once was warmth, light, and flame, but which reveals it has been a long time since there was an act of devotion performed there.

When the Holy Spirit is allowed to grip us with a true spirit of repentance we are willing to admit having let other lords besides Him have command over us. We will admit to having left our first love and appeal to Christ to recover us.

In 1632, the favorite wife of Shah Jahan of India died. Her title was Mumtaz-i-mahal, which means “Pride of the Palace.” He loved her so much he set 20,000 workmen to work building a tomb for her in the northern City of Agra. They labored for 21 years on the palace tomb.

As work was begun on the Taj Mahal, the coffin containing the body of his beloved was placed on the spot where the temple tomb was to be constructed. Time after time it had to be moved to allow construction. Soon it got shoved aside and ignored. Shortly thereafter, building materials were scattered around it. Lost in the clutter and pushed aside, it was at some time removed with other items considered trash. When the temple tomb was completed, the body of the one in whose name it was constructed could not be found. 

Spiritually, the same thing happens in the lives of some Christians. Gradually Christ gets moved aside until at last he is lost. Then we who are the temple of the Spirit are as devoid of Him as the Taj Mahal was of the Pride of the Palace. When it happens we must repent and return to our first love, Jesus.

Occasionally this happens collectively in a church. Christ gets pushed aside and is lost in the life of the fellowship. 

The first step away is the great sin of which to repent. However cold or carnal you might have become, it could never have happened without the first small step leading away from your first love. It may have been a small beginning which you can’t even recall that has led to a great departure. That departure may be so great you aren’t even sensitive to it. That makes it all the greater. That departure may even be hard for others to detect because you still wear the uniform, you still have the external performance, the right vocabulary with the right people, but inside you know and you know Jesus knows. 

Therefore, begin at the beginning again.

Go back to the fountainhead of your love — Jesus.

Go back to the fountain of thought about your Savior’s love for you. Return.