Friday, May 27, 2016

Captain America: Almost a Murderer

Tip: Give your subject something to look at that adds interest and dimension to the image.

“One sin almost always leads to another”, I recall my pastor once saying. This statement really sums up the movie Captain America 3: Civil War. The film begins with one of the superheroes making a huge slip that cost quite a few civilians their lives. The government then ends up deciding that the superheroes need to sign an agreement that will put tighter rules and parameters upon them and their conduct. If they do not agree to live under this new set of rules, they must retire from crime fighting, because it is illegal to act as a vigilante. The new rules limit their freedom, but there is nothing immoral about what they are being asked to do - by the standards of Romans 13, it would be right of them to comply - and most of them do agree to the new standard. Captain America, however, refused to comply, choosing instead to act illegally as a vigilante.

This act caused everything to go downhill. His act of rebellion caused enough contention to ruin the unity of the team. From there, the team went from verbally attacking each other to using brute force. In the process, they drug many of their other friends into the fight, injuring and endangering them and unnecessarily destroying part of an airport; after that, Captain America and Iron Man came very close to literally killing each other as well as Bucky (the man who the Captain had been trying to protect the entire time).

Let us think carefully about the actions we choose to take; is your move going to be one which God would condone and bless?

Direct my footsteps according to your word;
let no sin rule over me.” - Psalm 119:133

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” - Romans 6:23

Friday, May 20, 2016

Be Challenged

Tip: Try looking at things from a new perspective in your photos. Low angles or bird's-eye views can make a mundane scene much more eye catching.

My family gets together and reads a brief devotional every night before my parents go to bed. In most situations, it ends in nods of agreement and "yup" or "that was a good one." but no further discussion is often made. Last night, however, was a little different. The devotional we read dealt with a belief that we and the author do not see eye to eye on.  As a result, we had a really great discussion, recalled a collection of scriptures we had each learned over time, and while I cannot speak for the others, I know that I gained a lot more from it than I do on the average night; it is the next morning and I still remember a lot of what both we and the devotional said. The fact that we all became engaged in examining the topic made it all much more memorable.

While I wouldn't suggest spending all of your time intentionally reading over things you disagree with (unless you have a specific purpose for it), I believe it is healthy every once in a while to be faced with an opposing view point or a different perspective. It forces us to slow down, to think, and to actually give Biblical reasons why we believe what we do.

In this world, we will have no shortage of opposition; my challenge to you is this: don't run from those who you disagree with. Allow yourself to be challenged, test everything against scripture, and in so doing, your knowledge and faith will grow.

"Test everything; hold fast to what is good." - 1 Thessalonians 5:21

Friday, May 13, 2016

Traveling Aimlessly

Tip: Be on the lookout for storm clouds; they create the best lighting for dramatic landscapes and portraits.

For a long time, I had difficulty getting into studying the Bible; it's not that I didn't want to, but I had a hard time focusing. What was the deal? I had the whole Bible at my fingertips but no idea what to read. When I simply read a chapter a day straight through it felt like it went in one ear and out the other, and while randomly opening a passage of choosing a book did turn up good lessons sometimes, I still didn't always feel that "into" what I was reading. Turns out what I really needed was some purpose and direction to get me going.

Matthew 7:7-8 states, "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened" The question I present to you today is this: how do you ask for something or seek it if you do not know what you are looking for?

Think of a biblical topic. You know it, you know that it is in the Bible, you might even know where in the Bible... But have you ever really stopped to research it for yourself? Or do you only know it secondhand? I challenge you to try this in your study: research the truths that you hold dear. Make notes of the passages that talk about them, even write out summaries alongside the verses if it helps you focus. Know that which you seek, and seek it diligently. Good vacations don't often happen by wandering aimlessly; nor do good Bible studies.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Leaving Luxuries

Tip: Always keep an eye out for unusual and humorous subjects.

I was incredibly amused at the irony that sat before me at work a few days ago. Luxury Magazine, bookmarked with a used napkin. 

The more I think about it, the more appropriate it feels. We have so many luxuries nowadays (the internet you are using to read this is even one!), yet where are these luxuries going? What good will they do us in the long run? Someday, you will reach a point where none of it matters anymore. Those lovely things you enjoy will have as much significance in your life as the napkin tucked inside that magazine - or even less. 

In Luke 12:15-21, Jesus has something to say about the way we regard our material possessions; "...“Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be? So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.' "

Let us be people who are always striving to collect eternal treasures from God's word over the fleeting treasures of this world, which hold so little lasting value.