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.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Stary Night

Tip: ALWAYS bring your tripod if you plan to photograph the night sky.

I've had the immense pleasure of doing a bit of stargazing this summer. The night sky is a breathtaking view. Nothing makes you realize the vast expansiveness of creation like looking up at the stars. It feels so infinite, and in turn, I feel so small. I'm just a dot in this universe, yet the God who is bigger and more majestic than the Milky Way saw fit to make me and stick me on this planet? Wow.

It is so true that "the heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims His handiwork." (Psalm 19:1). Praise God for the beautiful world He has given us to dwell in, and thank Him for caring enough to create you and give you purpose.

Friday, August 14, 2015

College ≠ Ultimate Knowledge

Tip: Tall buildings look far more impressive when photographed from a low angle.

Ever since my senior year of high school, people have been asking me if I have plans of going to college. Back in 2013, I visited the beautiful Providence Christian College (pictured above) and nearly became a student. In the end, I decided to put further education on hold until I have a definite goal in mind that would be worth spending thousands of dollars to pursue.

Some people tell me that I should go to college so that I can figure out what to do with the remainder of my life. Considering the amount of time and money that would entail, I've been reluctant to take the gamble. Thankfully, college is not the only (nor most important) place to gain knowledge. The book of Proverbs states that "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge" (Proverbs 1:7a).

Where can we gain the fear of the Lord? In the Bible! That's right; no $100 text books, no $15,000+ tuition fees, and you aren't charged several hundred dollars per credit. In fact, now that we are in the digital age, you don't even have to pay to obtain a copy of the Bible. We simply need to invest our time into learning the words of wisdom that God has left for us. We can learn Who He is, know who we are (and what our place is to be), and be encouraged knowing that wherever we go, everything will turn out according to His plan.

College or not, life will never be entirely clear to us. Living in a fallen world will not always be easy, no matter our education. What we can count on, however, is that in the end, God will bless those of us who value and apply the knowledge of Him in our lives.

"Blessed is the one who finds wisdom,
and the one who gets understanding,
for the gain from her is better than
gain from silver and her profit better than gold."

(Proverbs 3:13-14)

Friday, August 7, 2015

I Practice Idolatry?

 Tip: For concert photography, shoot with high ISO numbers, open your aperture as wide as you can, and take a lot of test images with different shutter speeds to see how high of one you can get before your image goes dark. The higher your shutter speed, the less blurring will happen.

A couple of friends and I drove two hours and stood in a massive line to get into the concert hall. The adrenaline rush I experienced as I neared the door to the stage room was comparable to the feeling you get just as you reach the top of the first hill on a roller coaster (minus the terror). I was SO thrilled that it was happening: we were moments away from seeing one of my absolute favorite musicians play!

Hold up, there; doesn't God deserve some excitement? Do we ever feel thrilled at the privilege of going to Him in prayer? Are we filled with anticipation when we are about to open His word and read about the great things our Creator has done and learn how we can better please Him with our lives? We ought to at least be gladly looking forward to these activities, even if we aren't bursting with adrenaline over them.

In Exodus 20:3, our Lord states, "you shall have no other gods before Me". While worshiping handmade idols might not be an issue in your life, it is very possible that you may still be unwittingly participating in idolatry; anyone or anything that takes precedence over God in your life can be an idol. Will you put down your Bible the second you receive a text message or social media notification? Do you forsake spending time in prayer so that you will have a little extra time to spend hanging out with people or playing games? Or perhaps take credit for yourself that ought to be directed back to your Creator? I've been guilty of all of those- sometimes I still am.

Today, let your prayer be that God would forgive you of the idolatry that seeps into your life, and that He would give you the ability to live out today for the glory of His name.

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