Photo Captured 06-09-18: Disney’s Newest Attraction??

Where: Outside of St Augustine, Florida

Who: Christi Hughes

Why: It scared her when she found out it was once alive!

I love visiting and seeing things I have previously read about or only seen in pictures. I also discovering unique things that cause me to pause. If you keep your eyes open there are some awe inspiring, exhilarating, sometimes scary moments out there. When you capture them in a photo they make for a great memory not only for yourself but to share with others.

I am starting a series of blogs with pictures my friends and followers send me that shows something unique, solemn, beautiful, magnificent, frightening, or anything else that captures our attention and hopefully moves our emotions. I plan on taking that pic and making a spiritual metaphor, analogy, connection, or insight from the picture.


My first photo comes from our visit to Florida. It is a stuffed alligator, 13 feet long! It was between 40 and 50 years old and 800 pounds. It was found near Disney World in Orlando. It was found in a resident’s pool near the resort. Imagine finding this monster in your swimming pool!. I imagine this would have caused quite a stir among Mickey and Minnie. I am confident Disney does not want characters that can eat their guests. Ask Captain Hook about that!

Spiritual Lesson:

And God said, “See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food. Also, to every beast of the earth, to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, in which there is [i]life, I have given every green herb for food”; and it was so. Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day. Genesis 1:29-31

We once cuddled with alligators! Ok, I don’t know about cuddled with these large reptiles but before the Fall in the Garden of Eden, alligators were vegetarians. Yep, you heard me correctly! They didn’t eat other animals and were not a danger to us or us to them! When you look at this magnificent creature at 13 feet long it is hard to imagine swimming with it without feet or even petting it. I was scared to touch it even stuffed! If you read Genesis 1:29-30, you see God referred to plants as our source of food and not animals. I am not pushing for all of us being vegetarians as the Bible doesn’t command us not to eat animals after the fall (Acts 10:9-16). Yet, before sin there was no death so eating meat was not an option. The Fall corrupted all of creation, not just humanity. When I see magnificent creatures like snakes, sharks, lions, and alligators I think about a time people walked with them in harmony. That day will come again because of the redeeming power of Jesus. I look forward to the day there will be no more death!

What Do I Say To An Atheist?

The fool has said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that does good. Psalm 14:1

Have you ever noticed that atheists get highly offended by a God they claim doesn’t exist? What’s up with that? Conscience is the answer.
We were all born with a conscience, the ability to discern right from wrong. From early on we know certain things are wrong without anyone having to tell us. Studies have been done where small children are observed hitting other children. After they hit their body temperature rises, heartbeat increases, and pupils slightly dilate. They feel panic that often is arrivistes to being caught in a wrongdoing. Most begin to look around to see if they are in trouble. You don’t have to teach them that hurting someone is bad. Their conscience tells them this. You merely reinforce what they already know to be true.

What does that have to do with an atheist? Well if we are born with a conscience, defined as a law written upon hearts, then we have to ask who put it there? There cannot be a law without a law giver. C.S Lewis makes this argument for the existence of God in his book, Mere Christianity. My point is that atheists have a conscience that lets them know something greater than themselves is out there but they refuse to acknowledge it. They bow instead before science and reason. So why are atheists so offended by a God they don’t think exists? Because in their soul they know He does. His fingerprints are all over His creation (Romans 1). His law is written upon their hearts (Romans 2:15). So how do we share the gospel with an atheist?

My suggestion to Christians who are sharing the gospel with someone who is an atheist is to consider these things:

1) Dont apologize for faith . When I share the gospel and someone says the Bible is a fairy tale or God is a figment of my imagination, I don’t throw something at their head or fall on the floor and throw a tantrum. I simply tell them I believe the word and that God exists by faith. If they demand proof, I don’t panic or try and accommodate.  I tell them that faith is the only way. I don’t have to try and convince them or prove it to them. If it were that easy we wouldn’t need faith. I simply just tell the truth and if they reject it then they do. I can’t talk them into salvation. I can only share the truth.

2) God doesn’t need you to defend Him. Sometimes when I witness to an atheist they get harsh against God. What kind of God would let people die they might say. When this happens I explain that this world is sinful and that evil things happen. If they go on to attack God, I do not defend Him. He doesn’t need me too. I just simply stay calm and confident in the Lord. If we get defensive for God then we might be showing our own doubt in Him. If we get anxious and argumentative we are saying that their words hit a chord with us. Maybe we don’t trust God as much as we think we do? But when we are calm and confident and we don’t let their words move us, then we communicate that we are sure of God and don’t need to try and get them to think better of Him. They don’t need to think better of God; they need to fall at His feet and worship Him.

3) There are really no such thing as atheists. Atheists say they do not put their faith in a higher power but that is simply not true. Their high power might not be God; instead it might be science, reason, math or astronomy or maybe money, power or fame. Whatever it might be they worship something. They are not an atheist in the truest sense. Doesn’t exist.

4) Always share with gentleness and respect. 1 Peter 3:15 tells us to be prepared at all times to give a reason for the hope that is in us. When we share we are to do it with two approaches: gentleness and respect. No matter how angry or mean the atheist gets, we should be gentle, compassionate, patient, and kind to them. They are lost and in desperate need to hear the truth we have to share. We don’t need our attitude, or temper, or pride to get in the way of that.

5) Your only authority is the word of God. You can’t reason an atheist into heaven. You can’t prove God’s existence with mathematical certainty. What you know to be true about God comes from His word. That is your authority. If they reject the word then they will reject the gospel. You can’t seperate the two.

I hope you will look for opportunities to share your faith. Apply the above and trust God to use your faithfulness.


“Shadows”—- a short story about each of us somewhere along our journey

I wrote this modern day parable as a person living between two worlds. If you are a believer you too live between worlds.


He was lost in thought so he did not notice as  I approached the park bench. The man was a stranger to me but by all accounts he would be similar to the rest I had met at this very place. My presence brought him out of his daydream.

“Mister, mind if I sit here by you? Feet could use a break for a minute or two.”

“Sit, sit. It is a good day to enjoy the view. I was just daydreaming about how good I have it.”

I noticed his pressed suit and straight posture. “Absolutely. You look like you have put in the time and hours it takes to make something of yourself. Nice to see results, correct?”

“I’ve done pretty well for myself.  I have everything I ever set my mind on to get. Health, a good wife, children who worship me, a job that fulfills me, and money in my pocket.”

I nod not out of being impressed but out of confirmation of what is easy to perceive. “Certainly you have everything a man could want. What does a man that has all that do for an encore? If I might ask?”

“Oh it’s fine. I like talking about it. It’s true I have all that I could want but my work is far from over. Far from over. It never really ends to be honest.”

“Really? Why is that? Can you not sit back and enjoy all these things you have worked so hard to get? Seems a shame?”

“Ha! Now of course I can sit back for a moment but only a moment. I could lose what I have if I were to just rest as you say. Only a fool would do that. Plus I could always use more of what I already have. No rest for the weary.”

I gazed at the man, seeing into his soul.  I said, “I see…but you don’t, if I might say so dear sir… you don’t really SEE, that is.”

“I don’t see what… Oh, I got where your going with this conversation.” He waved his finger at me in admonition an smiled. “You have flipped this nice chat on me. You mean to trip me up with some philosophy. Saying I don’t see is your way of saying I ‘m a fool in some way. Sounds more like your envious of what I have.”

“Sir, please, I don’t desire to upset you. I simply make a statement of what is very obvious to me. Would you not consider a moment what I have to say?”

The man started to get angry. “And what might be so obvious to you that it would somehow allude my notice then? Let’s hear your angle on what it is you think I don’t see. Be quick about it so I can go back to enjoying my peace and quiet.”

“Well sir I already in fact have made my observation to you. You can’t SEE.”

He stood up, “See? Have you gone mad my friend? What could I possibly not be seeing? I observe everything around me. I am a man of detail. This is how I have achieved so much. You think this happened by chance? I am no fool!”

I stayed seated and waited a moment for him to sit back down. “Yes, you have achieved very much. No denying that. And you do see… what you are able. Given your condition and all.”

“Condition? What are you diagnosing me with?”

“Your ability to perceive what is real of course. You think you see but you only see in shadow. It deceives you into thinking you see clearly but you have never seen without the confines of that veil of yours.”

He touched the thin layer of material fixed permanently over his eyes by the metal brace that went from ear to ear. “I can see fine. Deceives me? What shadow? You talk in code to trip me up. What’s your point here?”

“I apologize for upsetting you. Anger is often the reaction I get when confronting a man with such a shocking truth. As I said, you have only ever been able to see in shadow. It’s all you’ve known. You were born that way. And you will die that way… but you don’t have too stay that way.”

“What gibberish is this? I see like every other person. What do you mean I don’t have to stay this way?”

“You don’t have to stay like every other person. You don’t have to see in shadow any longer. You can see everything without that device. You can see in the light, though I warn you, it will shock you to your very core when you do. Things will look very different to you in the light.”

“You are mad! You waste my time with this talk. You going to tell me next you can remove this thing from my eyes? That’s where your going right? Why? So I become a mockery to society and lose everything I hold dear… Oh I do see now. Did you remove yours? Others have done that I hear. Look how they are rejected. Is that what you would have me be… an outcast like you?”

I sat for a moment remembering. The man stirred and brought me back to the moment. “It is hard for me to remember that man I was with the veil still intact. You are correct. My eyes have been uncovered but not by me. I needed someone much greater than me to do that. I was a lot like you once. I knew what it was to have so much. To conquer my world.”

He slowly shook his head at me with a mock smile on his face. “And now? Now, you have lost it all, haven’t you? You wretched man. The misery you have brought on yourself is not enough for you? You need company?”

I shake my head, “But you do not yet understand. I too mocked others who were without the veil. But I could not shake the fact that something was missing in my life. When I would achieve that thing I wanted so desperately, I quickly lost focus of it in need of something greater. It did not hold my sight for long. I was unsettled. Something was not right. There had to be more to life.”

“Unsettled huh? You were not happy with the things you had earned? Why were you not content? What more did you want?”

“It was not wanting more in the way you perceive it now. It was more about realization. Awakening to what all those things really were. They were shadows. Dark, faded things that never brought real joy. No matter how many things I got, the shadows around them never faded. It left me hungering for more than it could give me.”

I had his attention. After a moment he asked, “You must not have been able to secure all the things you once had correct?”

“In that you could not be further from the truth. As I recall I had much, much more than you do now. That was, in fact, when I realized it. It would never matter how much I had. I would never truly SEE. And I would never know the joy I longed for until I could SEE.”

At that we both sat silently for a moment staring ahead. He broke the silence, “Alright, I’ll bite. What did you do?”

“The only desperate thing left to do. I sought help outside man’s understanding and I found it. I found wisdom that showed me the way. The veil from my eyes had to be removed.”

He grabbed the device over his eyes. “That’s crazy man! The pain alone of that? It must have been excruciating! And how could you see clearly without the veil?”

“The pain was immense. It hurt all the way to the depths of my soul. It left a scar that will always be there. My need for the veil was very deep. Everything changed when it was removed. I could no longer see the things the way you perceive them now. The light is bright and it brought these things out of the shadows. Work, money, even family— it all changed for me.”

“What a crazy story you weave. You must have lost your mind? Misery must taunt you. Why would you sacrifice all of this? And why would you tell me about it now as if I want that?”

“Oh, but you miss my point completely. I no longer care the same way for those things. The shadow blinds you to their true nature. Some things have been made beautiful as the shadows are now removed, like my wife and kids. Other things are exposed in all their ugliness. Oh the power of sight! Some of the things I see now are glorious! I would tell you about them but you would call me crazier than you already have. You’ve only known shadow. I’ve seen the sun!”

“But you gave up so much for better clarity? I will admit… You have raised my curiosity. I might even say I’m intrigued. But I could never go through the pain of removing my veil only to know I would be ridiculed by society. To see all that I have gained threatened… It’s too much.”

I stared at him, deep compassion welling up in me. “But friend. What have you really gained? You know only fleeting feelings of happiness. These shadowy things don’t bring you lasting peace. You know I’m right! You know deep down something is missing. You have always known it though you pursue these things still. Will you truly be ok to continue in that delusion of happiness now that you know there might be true joy out there?

He broke eye contact with m then. He started at his feet. “I envy you sir. I thought you were crazy, but you have convinced me you really have found something… Extraordinary. But the cost for me is too great. I cannot remove my veil. To do so promises fears that I cannot begin to face. You have marveled me friend but I cannot do what you have done.”

Like many times before, I knew that I could not make him see it. I sighed, “Then I will take my leave and grieve for you this day. Think on what I have said. You are a man stuck. You will continually seek what your soul longs for but never find it in the shadows.”

He grabbed my rm as I stood. “But sir…sir! Before you depart. May I at least have the name of the one who has talked such mystery to me today?”

I stared at him for an age before I answered. “My name is Surrender and until you walk my path you will never really SEE.”

With that, I walked away to look for another man in the shadow. I would not have to look far as they could be found everywhere on this earth…


In 1678, John Bunyan landed in prison for being unlicensed to preach by the Church of England. Rather than give up preaching, he endured twelve years in prison — away from his wife and children. The only thing greater than his passion for his family was his passion for Christ. That compelled him to preach the cross.

While in prison, he published one of the greatest works of Christian literature, The Pilgrim’s Progress. Until recently, this book was the most widely circulated book besides the Bible. No book, outside of The Word of God, has better captured my imagination and challenged me in my Christian journey than this allegory*of the faith. Charles Spurgeon, one of the greatest preachers to ever live (in my opinion and that of MANY others), claimed to have read this book over 100 times in his lifetime! Spurgeon unlocked the power of this incredible story — one that invites you on the journey of a man named Christian, one that will change the way you see your faith. I suggest getting a modern translation of the book and reading it. **

*Allegory — a story that can be interpreted to reveal hidden meaning of a moral, political, or spiritual nature.

** I suggest this version:

Your kids will love this book, too!  Check out the children’s version of this amazing journey called “Little Pilgrim’s Progress.”  It comes complete with an adventure guide!