Wednesday, December 23, 2015

4 Things to Remember in December- and Beyond


Tip: Take advantage of this season's bright lights and use them to create dramatic silhouette images!
As someone who has celebrated Christmas with my family all of my life, once in a while I run across that awkward moment when I ask someone what their Christmas plans are, only to find out they do not celebrate it. On the flip-side, I see people who like to throw "Jesus birthday parties". Whatever side of the coin you fall on, here are a few things we all ought to remember during December- and all the other months of the year:

1.) We don't know when Jesus was born. 
The Bible never gives a specific date, but over the course of history, people adopted December 25th as the official celebration date.

2.) Respect those whose views on Christmas differ from yours.

Because Christmas was never a biblically instituted holiday, we shouldn't pressure others to celebrate in the same way or the same time that we do.

3.) If you do celebrate Christmas, keep the focus where it should be.It's easy to get caught up in the sparkle, excitement, and senseless traditions that surround the Christmas season. Remember Who this time is for celebrating- honor God in your celebrating. If you don't celebrate, honor Him in your abstinence. Neither side should use this time as their chance to show off how "spiritual" they are.

4.) Celebrate Christ ALL the time! It doesn't have to be December to remember Christ's sacrifice for His people. Remember this always. Live your life in constant awareness that God set you aside as His own; thank Him and live your life to honor Him- all of the time, in every place you're in.


One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord... The one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God. (Romans 14:5-6)

Friday, December 18, 2015

Pressed, But Not Crushed


Tip: When photographing an arch, try to find pathways, footprints, or lines of people to draw the eye towards the focal point of the image.
On an enchanting hike through a snowy forest, I saw a picture of life. Snow fell relentlessly from the sky, piling upon the snow from the area's previous storms. It stacked upon the trees- up to 6 inches deep on some branches! Occasionally, my brother and I had to stoop under trees such as the one above, that were bent nearly to the ground under the weight of billions of little ice crystals.

How do I see life in this? I see life in it because in our own, typically in invisible ways, life weighs upon us. Trials God has placed us in make us feel as hopelessly bent in the weight of matters as this tree is. Maybe it is physical pain, maybe it is emotional strain, maybe it is the knowledge that we must carry out a difficult task soon.

Whatever is weighing on you lately, remember that God placed us in the world to be a light to others as we press on through these situations. We are fragile, fallible beings- "jars of clay", as the verse below puts it. We cannot triumph and bring good from anything in our lives; when good comes from our difficulties, it is because God chose to use us to reveal Himself to the world. Press on, my friend- you never know how God may use you to bring Himself glory! 

"For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body." (2 Corinthians 4:6-10)


Friday, December 11, 2015

3 Ways Santa Tries to Play God


Tip: The device is only as good as the person using it. Never think you have to spend hundreds to take good pictures. This shot was done on the new iPod Touch 6g. Practice the trade and your photos can look good no matter what you used to capture them!


Please tell me I am not the only one who finds the idea of Santa Clause both repulsive and creepy. When Christmas rolls around each year, people seem to make as big of a deal of Santa as they do of Jesus's birth (if not more so). This in and of itself is not right- if something is competing with God for glory, that is idolatry. On top of that, people are turning a historical figure (Nikolaos of Myra) into a mythical character who possesses qualities that belong to God alone.

The lyrics of a popular Santa song are:
You better watch out
You better not cry
Better not pout
I'm telling you why
Santa Claus is coming to town
He's making a list
And checking it twice;
Gonna find out Who's naughty and nice
Santa Claus is coming to town
He sees you when you're sleeping
He knows when you're awake
He knows if you've been bad or good
So be good for goodness sake!
O! You better watch out!
You better not cry
Better not pout
I'm telling you why
Santa Claus is coming to town 
1.) Santa is projected as someone who has a moral law that he requires the children of the world to adhere to if they desire to be rewarded. God has a moral law too, the 10 Commandments in Exodus 20, which must be held to perfection to attain eternal life (which we KNOW none of us can do- but God in His gracious providence provides propitiation for us; I have yet to see Santa try that).

2.) Santa separates the good from the bad; God does so too-  "
When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats." (Matthew 25:31-32).

3.) Santa is supposedly omniscient, as he "sees you when you're sleeping", "knows when you're awake", and "knows if you've been bad or good". Proverbs 15:3 says of God, "
The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good."


Remember Who this season was really meant to celebrate. Give God the glory that is due to Him.

"
Oh come, let us worship and bow down;
    let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!
For he is our God,
    and we are the people of his pasture,
    and the sheep of his hand."  (Psalm 95:6-7)

Friday, December 4, 2015

The Long Trek



Tip: Having people in your landscape shots really helps put the vastness of landscapes into proportion for your viewers. Do it whenever you can!


I was talking to a fellow hiker recently; he told me of a time when he came to the end of the trail he was on and several yards ahead of him he watched as two hikers dropped their trekking poles to the ground and shouted "We are finished!". In the moment, he assumed "Wow, their first hike and they are so adamant about giving up that they are just leaving their gear on the ground for someone else to take? Sad." Upon further conversation with someone down the path, he later found that the two were from Europe and had spent the last year on the Pacific Crest Trail, walking from the Mexican border to the Canadian border. The shout of "We are finished!" was not defeat, but triumph- they had just completed a world famous trail that is over 2,000 miles long!

Enduring through trials in the Christian life can be as difficult as the physical strain that one would feel if they hiked the entire Pacific Crest trail, at times; even Paul said he was "being poured out". For those who persevere, it will be more beautiful and glorious than conquering 2,000 miles of a scenic trail. Let us strive to be able to honestly say what Paul said in 2 Timothy:


"For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith" - 2 Timothy 4:6-7



Keep going, my friend. The Lord put you in this race and He will sustain you!

Friday, November 27, 2015

The Hardest Post to Write



Tip: To achieve that perfectly blurred background, have your subject somewhat far away from your lens, then zoom it as much as you are able to. Your subject will be crisp and your background will not be a distraction!

"Doing wrong is like a joke to a fool, but wisdom is pleasure to a man of understanding." (Proverbs 10:23)

"The mouth of the righteous brings forth wisdom, but the perverse tongue will be cut off. The lips of the righteous know what is acceptable, but the mouth of the wicked, what is perverse." (Proverbs 10:31-32) I was reading Proverbs 10 this past weekend and these verses really hit me. It's easy to skim passages like these and think "Oh, I'm not bad. I definitely like gaining wisdom over doing wrong and I don't run around cussing people out or anything." Reading passages like the ones below, however, clarifies things a little:

"So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." (1 Corinthians 10:31)

"Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven." (Matthew 5:16)

We are to do EVERYTHING to the glory of God. Think about that for a moment. How many things do we say and do each day that really do not bring God glory? What do you talk about with your friends, family, and co-workers? How much time have you wasted on useless things? Do you live your life as if the potential to displease God is a joke? If we are commanded to do all things to the glory of God, it would mean that we are doing wrong when we act in a way that doesn't please Him.

To be completely honest, I'd have to say I fail miserably. I waste countless hours mindlessly scrolling down my Facebook news feed, repeatedly insult the government leaders that God has put in place (see Romans 13 if you doubt this!), and laugh at humor that ought to be flushed back down the toilet from whence it came. These activities and attitudes cannot qualify as good works that will cause others to sense God's presence in my life. Ouch.

What can we do? Pray. Pray that God will change our hearts and minds; that we would really desire to please Him in all that we say and do. Pray that you'll have the will-power to stop zoning out online and to be able to walk away when everyone is laughing at that Youtube video that is spattered with language and crude humor. Pray your conduct will tend more to reflect God rather than sinful human nature. Living this way won't be easy and it won't come naturally, but it is so worth it in the end.


Friday, November 20, 2015

Wait, love who?


Tip: It's a fact: self-portraits are on over-load these days. If you are going to take one, don't be generic or make that stupid "duck face"; use the photo to tell a story or show a thought process.


A little bit ago I stumbled upon an image that both surprised and convicted me. In bold text it said "#PrayforISIS"; below that, the caption read "we are called to love our enemies". Whoa. Isn't that a little radical? Whenever they are brought up on the news or in conversation, aren't we scowling and saying that we hope they get what is due to them? Don't we instantly want to avenge the lives that they have taken and the damage they have caused around the globe?

I saw the hundreds of "pray for Paris" posts over the past several days and nodded with a sad smile. I saw others posting that we should not pray just for Paris, but for all of the other countries of the world as well. I agreed and clicked 'like'. But the "#PrayforISIS" post? I stopped and raised an eyebrow. Pray for who? Love them? But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it is right.

The book of Matthew has this to say on the topic:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:43-48)

Umm, ouch. That hits hard, does it not? Love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. You read it right. So, let's stop and think before we go spouting out our anger over current events- both terror related, political, and anything else. Are we being examples of Christ's love in the things we are saying and the actions we take? If you're like me, that is a painful thing to spend much time thinking about in regards to how you handle your conversation and views of current events.

So, let's pray. Pray for yourselves and one another that we all may have the hearts that God desires we have. Then, pray for our enemies and pray for the world. Everyone needs Christ, and as much as we may dislike certain people and groups, it brings no glory to God if we are wishing destruction upon them.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Biblical Joy #1



Tip: In post-processing, use your selective lighting/shadows tool to highlight the focal point in woodland photographs. It's easy to lose the trail in all that foliage!


Maybe I am easily pleased, but all those little yellow leaves scattered through the forest on my latest hike put a smile on my face. Some people can walk around outdoors and just think "Oh, it's getting cold out. That tree wasn't that color last week. Nice." I walk outside and feel excited by every little thing I see. Every leaf is a slightly different hue, the air smells fresh, and stuff crunches when I walk. Oh, the beauty!

I've come to realize, however, that some people just do not naturally find joy in life. So, I'm going to scatter a few of these posts around this fall/winter and point out some truths to be joyful about. Originally it was just going to be a single post, but the more I've read and the more I've thought about the topic, there are a LOT of reasons for joy!

So, for today I would like to pull up James 1:2-4 "Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." Yep, you read that right- the rocky patches on the trail of life are joys. It's hard to look at it that way when we are focusing on the here and now, but if you can shift your focus and take hardships with a good attitude, you will eventually start to notice that those are the times in your life that you rely upon God the most. The hard time will pass, and you will be stronger because of it- constantly being formed more and more to the likeness of Christ.

Follow that up with 1 Corinthians 10:13-  "No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it." Take joy in knowing that while you are in the trials/temptations, there IS a way out. The journey is tough, but God is nothing short of good and in control of everything- He knows how much you can take before you break, and be assured, He will not let you break. 

Friday, November 6, 2015

Irrelevant?


Tip: When you photograph a black & white photo, it often shows up with a blue tinge from ambient light. To eliminate this, open your editor and recolor them with a "black & white" image effect.



My grandparents were getting rid of boxes of old photos to free up space for their upcoming move to a smaller home. I have a fascination with antiques, so naturally, I gravitated toward the oldest batch of photos- the ones taken in the 1950's and earlier. 

I honestly have no clue who is in the above photos, but I love them; it shows me that in some ways, things aren't entirely different today than they were back in the 40's or 50's. This group of friends is doing exactly what I love to do- pile in a car, find someplace exciting, and go spend some time in the great outdoors.

Some people nowadays feel like they have literally nothing in common with the elderly. Some think that the world has changed so much that these people are no longer "relevant" and that their thoughts do not matter. As a young person who has spent a lot of time working with and around the older generations, I'm here to assure you that this is not the case!

The Bible says, “You shall stand up before the gray head and honor the face of an old man, and you shall fear your God: I am the Lord.  (Leviticus 19:32)  and that "The glory of young men is their strength, but the splendor of old men is their gray hair." (Proverbs 20:29)
Are we honoring the elderly when we disregard their thoughts or just in general ignore or avoid them? Is it honoring to someone to say they are too out of date to understand the world as it is today? No way. While they may not always understand our technology, give them some leeway. Ditch your tech for a while and just sit down with an older person for some good old fashioned conversation- it will do both of you a lot of good!

Friday, October 30, 2015

The Haunting

Tip: If  you want to create an eerie or gloomy scene, toying with the color saturation does wonders. The duller the colors, the better, in these types of settings.


The breeze is blowing, the house is creaking, it's a little dark and you're all alone. Or so you think. Is that breathing? Is someone right behind you, or is that just the usual draft? Oh! And what just went bang down the hall? Who are you gonna call? Ghost busters.

Or maybe it is a friendly spirit- perhaps your father died and you just regularly communicate with him in his new form. Maybe it's the ghost of a small child, whose feet patter down your hallways in the evenings. Sure, it's a little eerie, but perfectly harmless, right? 

Job 7:9 says "As a cloud vanishes and is gone, so one who goes down to the grave does not return." If that is the case, what are those apparitions the ghost hunters catch? What are these figures that curios ghost trackers are stalking?  At best, figments of the imagination, however if there is something there of the supernatural realm, the only options are either demons or angels, for the dead are forbidden from coming back into the world:

He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’
 “Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’
“‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’
“He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’” - Luke 16:27-31
Now, what can we observe of angels? They come here on official business, as shown in Luke 2:9-11, Luke 22:43, Acts 12:7-11, and other places throughout scripture. They are never seen showing up in the form of a deceased person or to mess around and pull pranks on people.
So, we have ruled out deceased people and we have also ruled out angels. This now leaves Satan and his legions of demons, of which we are told in 2 Corinthians 11:14-11, "Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. 15 It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness." So, demons can change their appearance. We also know that when they have appeared in scripture, they are never up to any good (Luke 11:14, Acts 8:7, Matthew 8:28-33, ect.).
Yes, demons still roam the earth. Creepy? Yes. But we can be comforted when James 2:19 reminds us, "You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!" God will always triumph over the dark forces that plague our world. 

Friday, October 23, 2015

The Search


Tip: When taking a silhouette, consider turning up the color contrast and putting the photo in black and white; this adds more emphasis to your subject, giving the image a greater impact.

As a photographer, I am always looking for a great scene to shoot. When I have my camera in hand, I look at the world with a new intensity. If I really want to take a noteworthy photo, I don't just wander along hoping something will pop out at me- I look and I plan. What angle should I take this scene from? Is there something little along the trail that the average person will not notice? Will this photograph convey an emotion? Generally, to find something, you must first be looking for it.

The same can be said of biblical wisdom; it's possible that we can just happen upon a great lesson, but as a general rule, we must first seek if we are to find. What's more is that we should seek wisdom with an even greater intensity than a photographer seeks a good shot at a scene, because obtaining the type of wisdom that God commands us to search for is a matter of life and death:

"Blessed is the one who listens to me,
watching daily at my gates,
waiting beside my doors.
For whoever finds me finds life
and obtains favor from the Lord,
but he who fails to find me injures himself;
all who hate me love death."
- Proverbs 8:34-36

Searching for wisdom, like searching for the perfect scene to photograph, will take time and diligence. We likely will have to read some of the same Bible passages a few times over, but with prayer, persistence, and a genuine desire to learn, we can gain the type of wisdom God commands us to obtain in order to grow in our walk with Him.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Sometimes The Cornfield Dies


I was incredibly disappointed to be told that there would be no corn maze this year. Every October it is a local activity that I look forward to with great enthusiasm. There is nothing quite like the smell of the hay and a slight breeze blowing through the impenetrable walls of corn as you stumble through dark pathways at night with your friends for a few hours. Though it isn't the best photo, I still look at that shot above with fond memories of last fall.

From what I was told, the city planted a whole field, but what little of it grew ended up dying because the conditions just weren't right for it this season. I had to pause after receiving that information; the story is all too familiar...


"He [Jesus] told them many things in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. He who has ears, let him hear.” - Matthew 13:3-9

This parable is about evangelism- telling others about the person and work of Christ. Somehow we tend to get the idea that we do not succeed in our evangelism unless the person says a prayer and is converted. The thing is, causing people to get saved isn't fully on our shoulders- yes, we should tell others about Christ; we are His chosen means of spreading the word (Mark 16:15), however God is the one who saves (1 Corinthians 1:19). We are just in charge of "sowing the seeds", as the parable puts it; the results of our efforts are up to God.

Don't get discouraged if people don't believe in God right away after a conversation with you- pray for them, befriend them, keep good conversation going, and leave the rest to God. He will save His chosen ones in His timing, whether you are around to see the end result or not. Perhaps He will use you and you will never know- it's that element of not knowing that keeps us humble.


Friday, October 9, 2015

Diamonds Out of Dust


Tip: High ISO's, open apertures, and fast shutter speeds are the key for concert photography. I shot this at ISO 1600, f/4, and 1/320 shutter speed, then lightened and color-balanced it just a tad in post-processing.

This week, Hawk Nelson was nice enough to make a side-stop in my little town on their way to Montana (we are literally on the way to nowhere, so any good concerts that we don't have to drive 2 hours for are a huge privilege for us). It was a great evening with an even greater theme; God's place in hard times.

Some of the evening's musicians had to face some pretty tough times in the last few years. The opening musician (Ryan Stevens) had found out his wife miscarried their twins and that he had been dropped from his record label (which means his greatest income was lost)- both within days of each other. The lead singer of Hawk Nelson (pictured above) had to watch as his little sister suffered from cancer, wondering if she could possibly survive. There were times when all they could do was shout at God, "WHY!?"

A lot of us hit points in our lives like that (or if we haven't, we probably will eventually). Some will get angry and say God doesn't care, or denounce their faith altogether. Some will say through their tears, "God had no part in this. He takes care of the good times, but stuff like this? He could never do that." Those who are familiar with scripture, however, will sooner or later realize that God does indeed have everything to do with our hard times.

Proverbs 16:33 says "The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord." We also read in the book of Job that all hardship- even that which comes from Satan- is ordained by God:
"And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand.” So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord." (Job 1:12). 
Through it all though, God's will is accomplished; "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestine to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren." (Romans 8:28-29). 

As the title track on Hawk Nelson's latest album says, "He is making diamonds out of dust, He is refining and in His timing, He's making diamonds out of us." - in other words, God is conforming us to His image; He is taking us in our worthless state and forming us into something of value to Him. This is what happens to those whom He has saved. Like making diamonds, it's a tough process, but it will be worth it in the end when we are able to be worshiping in His presence. Trust Him. 

Friday, October 2, 2015

Leaving Hand Prints on Life.



Tip: Put your subject in it's surroundings. Close cropped images can make nice portraits, but if you really want to capture a moment, zoom it out a little and back up to give the image a sense of depth.

I once overheard an elderly man saying, "I was at a baseball game back a while ago and was having a rough time navigating the stairs on the bleachers. Then a young man took me by the arm and helped me make my way out of the stadium. I thanked him and handed him a $20. He's probably forgotten by now, but it meant the world to me." 

You never know what you might do that will leave a life long impression upon someone. For me, it has been as simple as a camp counselor being my pen pal when I was 7, or a certain blog post a friend of mine wrote when I was 16. So many little things you don't even think about can really stick with a person, whether for good or for ill. 

Whatever it is that you do, it affects those around you in some way, whether it be through your example or through something you do to or for someone. The question to ask yourself is, "Am I causing a good affect on those around me?"

In my case, the letters and time spent with that camp counselor made me realize how happy it made me to have someone older paying attention to me and treating me like a friend. Years down the road, I did the same for a little girl I met at church. As for the blog post, it created an amazing mental image that not only made for an enjoyable read, but I think ultimately gave me the slight nudge that lead to me gaining a sense of adventure (which helps this blog out immensely, seeing as I get my best photographs when I am out exploring). 


Matthew 25:40 states, "And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me." ... So, what are you doing to people?

Friday, September 25, 2015

Pushing Boundaries







Tip: Don't always center everything. Play with the rule of thirds and try different positioning to add more interest and depth to your photograph.


I went hiking a couple weeks ago and along the way my friends and I stumbled upon this sign. "So, I wonder if the $300 is a flat rate for as many jumps as you can do in a day or if it is $300 per jump?" one of us asked. We all had a good laugh, then watched as one of the people near the water fall hurled himself into the water. "There goes his $300."

Lets face it: we all want to bend or break the rules from time to time. Sometimes it takes a conscious effort to not act like a rebel. Sometimes there are obvious consequences, sometimes we discover the downside of our actions later on. But rest assured, there is always a repercussion to what we do, whether we see it immediately or not.

Take for instance the many times the Bible commands us to honor God (Matt 22:37, Deut. 6:5, Psalm 86:12, to name a few). Sometimes we think we can bend that a little- perhaps just do the motions of worshiping Him, all the while devoting our minds to other concerns. Ananias and Sapphira thought they could make it work- they would give to God; they would do the motions and be good, worshipful people and be just a little concerned about their own affairs at the same time. They could bend the rules of worshiping God a little, right? A little white lie to make it look like they were giving their all couldn't hurt just once, could it?

Well...

"For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need. Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means “son of encouragement”),  sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet. 

Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. With his wife’s full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet.


Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied just to human beings but to God.”
When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened. Then some young men came forward, wrapped up his body, and carried him out and buried him.
 About three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. Peter asked her, “Tell me, is this the price you and Ananias got for the land?”
“Yes,” she said, “that is the price.”
 Peter said to her, “How could you conspire to test the Spirit of the Lord? Listen! The feet of the men who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also.”
 At that moment she fell down at his feet and died. Then the young men came in and, finding her dead, carried her out and buried her beside her husband."  - Acts 4:34b-5:10

We might be able to get away with pushing the speed limits on our roadways or jumping into a forbidden waterfall from time to time with seemingly little effect upon ourselves or others, but be warned: you can't push boundaries with God. Know what He wants of you and do it wholeheartedly- don't think you can slide by, just looking like you love Him.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Forgotten



Tip: Find an angle where your subject can be naturally framed by the objects around it. This creates a well-balanced images that will be pleasing to the eye.

"There is no remembrance of former things, nor will there be any remembrance of later things yet to be among those who come after." (Ecclesiastes 1:11)

You, like this half-collapsed abandoned house, will someday be forgotten and rotting away. A rather depressing thought, but everyone is due a dose of reality every once in a while. Sure, a few may remember your name, or maybe after your death the work you leave behind may be discovered by someone else, but guess what? They will die too. 

What is my point in saying these things? To make you sad? Nay, to motivate! A bit counter-intuitive though, isn't it, you ask? Not at all. Because while yes, everything on earth will over time fade out and no longer matter, those of us in Christ can take hope, knowing that more permanent things await us.

Matthew 6:19-21 says, "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

Do not pour your heart into the temporary things that you will do or create. While those things are not evil and do have their place in our lives for the time, they are not to be our primary focus. Remember to always be keeping to God's word and doing the kinds of things that will bring yourself and others closer to Him and the heavenly treasures that you and others will someday inherent as God's adoptive children.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Little Things

 
 Tip: When photographing an animal, zoom the lens as far as it will go, then snap pictures as you slowly inch closer and closer to the critter. Better to weed out a few far-away shots than to try and get too close too quickly and not get a shot at all.

This year, God has taught me to appreciate the little things. The small details of creation are truly amazing to behold. This is not limited to the intricacies of the animal kingdom, either. In the last 9 months, I have experienced at differing points what it is like to live without taste, without hearing (partially), and without normal sunlight and clean air to breathe. You don't realize how much you take stuff like this for granted until you're forced to be without it for a length of time!

We can be encouraged, observing the small beauties and blessings in life. If God cares enough to put so much detail into a tiny butterfly, how much more does He care about carving out the details in our lives? We serve a truly wonderful God! No matter how chaotic your life may feel sometimes, He is taking care of you.

"Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his span of life?" (Matthew 6:6-7)


Friday, August 28, 2015

Sailing Through Life


Tip: Remember the rule of thirds in your photography and give your subject some context by showing some scenery around it. This provides a more interesting image.


Recently I had the pleasure of learning to sail, courtesy of a good friend of mine. Imagining what it is like to sail and actually sailing are two extremely different things. I always had an image in my head of someone blissfully steering a boat over sparkling blue water as the wind blew perfectly into their sails at all times. This, I have observed, is generally not the case at all.

Sailing takes work, and plenty of it. The wind will not constantly be blowing into your sails to take you where you wish to go. If you are in charge of the sails, it is your job to catch the wind; you must continually be turning and adjusting them or else you will end up either overwhelmed by too strong of a gust or perhaps find yourself stuck floating idle with no wind going into your sails at all. Meanwhile, either you or your shipmate must be constantly steering the boat- it’s not going to go where you wish simply by means of the current state of the wind.

In some respect, spiritual life can be this way too. You can't just expect your life to change for the better without steering in the right direction. While we are not saved by works (Ephesians 2:1-10), we also cannot expect to grow in Christ if we are not actively pursuing a deeper relationship with Him. If we are not frequently studying the Bible and making necessary adjustments to our life trajectory, we are bound to either become idle and go nowhere or else be swept down a path we ought not to be on.

Sailing a boat is a very grand and rewarding experience, but what shall be even more so is a life well lived for the glory of God- our Lord and Savior.

1 Corinthians 9:24-27
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.  So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air.  But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.