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


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!