Friday, July 29, 2016

Working Woes

Tip: consider lines in your photos. Do edges in your subject match up to the edges of the photograph? How do other lines make your image look?

We all say it at some point: "Ugh, I have to go to work again." It seems nearly expected in our society that when we go into the working world, we will probably hate what we do and only do it for the money. I've even heard it said that if we lived in a perfect world, we wouldn't have to work at all (to be honest, I've been guilty of thinking so in the past as well). But here is something to consider: mankind had work to do before sin entered into the world. 

Genesis 2:15 says, "The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it." and later in verse 19, "Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name." 

These events and intentions for mankind came prior to the temptation and fall of Adam. What does this mean? It means that work itself is not a result of sin. It is the difficulty of work that is the result of sin, as shown in Genesis 3:17a-19: 

"cursed is the ground because of you;
    in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;
18 thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you;
    and you shall eat the plants of the field.
19 By the sweat of your face
    you shall eat bread,
till you return to the ground,
    for out of it you were taken;
for you are dust,
    and to dust you shall return.”

How then ought we to react to work? Know that work was instituted by God, and it is our duty as we live before Him to carry out the work we have, however difficult, with an attitude of worship towards our Creator.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Spiritual DIY'ers

Tip: Carefully position your subjects, especially in silhouettes. In retrospect, I should have paid closer attention to her hands, having her pull them closer to herself so that they didn't get lost in the trees.

"Jacob was left alone. And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched his hip socket, and Jacob's hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him." (Genesis 32:24-25)

Whether we are consciously aware of it or not, the majority of the time we tend to go through life relying upon our own power and ability to carry us through. We think about all the things that we have to do; the money we must earn to make our livelihood, the daily tasks we must accomplish, the people we have to put up with, etc. If you go through Genesis and read prior accounts in the life of Jacob, you can see that there have been many occasions where he has done the same. Even here, where he wrestles with this mysterious man all night through, demanding a blessing, it appears to be him relying on brute force to get what he is after.

We can see all throughout the life of Jacob that he is a man of God, but there are so often times when he lapses and begins to rely on his own strength or cunning to get him by. In a way, we can be encouraged by this- the Bible paints a realistic picture of God's people, we don't have to live up to super-humans; they have strengths and weaknesses just like we do. It is the same back then as it is now: God enables His people and is the source of their strength, yet when we feel strong, we tend to forget that we aren't getting by with our own power. 

God gave Jacob a new weakness, and sometimes He does the same to us. It's difficult not to grow bitter as we face our difficulties and weaknesses, but we must pray God helps us cope and remember that He has put us in whatever circumstance in order to remind us that we are to rely on HIS power, not our own. 

Friday, July 15, 2016

The Ripple Effect

Tip: Use a long range lens for photographing raindrops- not only will your depth of field be nicer, it will also prevent you from having to get as close and risk getting water on your lens.

I knelt on the ground, eyes affixed to the puddle in front of me, watching the rain drops splash as I attempted to get my camera to focus just right. Each drop quickly sent off dozens of little water rings, and those began overlapping other sets of rings, until finally the whole puddle was a whole mass of rippling water. What began as small separate happenings affected the entire pool of water.

We are a lot like that, too. We'll do something- maybe private, or maybe with another person. It feels reasonably insignificant, but even those things that seem like personal affairs can affect those around us, whether for better or worse. It's those things that will over time shape who we are and how we act, and eventually in some way, they will play out to others. Whether we realize it or not, everything tends to operate as a piece of a chain reaction, and someday everything will run it's course and affect the whole.

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, 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 5:14-16)

This verse speaks of the good works and "light" that we as Christians are to put forth in the world. We ought to be shining beacons of testimony about God as we live our lives. The inverse can also be true, however; if we are living even just our private lives poorly, that will eventually come out as what everyone sees of us as our sins become more habitual.

What kind of ripple are you sending off into the lives of those around you?

Friday, July 8, 2016

What is Love?

We always hear the word "love" at weddings and read about it in dating/marriage books. In our culture, it seems like anything with the word "love" has to have a romantic connotation. When those who are outside of our family tell us "I love you", they often feel the need to specify "but not like THAT".  If love does not always have to equal a romantic attraction, what IS it? In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul puts it like this:

"Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.  Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends." 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a.

If you have love, you display these attributes: 

  • You're patient
  • You're kind
  • You rejoice in the truth
  • You bear what's thrown at you
  • You believe without doubting
  • You have hope
  • You endure all things
  • Your love never ends or has conditions
Indicators that you may lack love:
  • You're envious
  • You're boastful
  • You're arrogant
  • You're rude
  • Things MUST go your way
  • You're irritable
  • You're resentful
  • Sinful things/thoughts give you sadistic joy
What side of these do you sway towards? Admittedly, my love needs some work. 

Friday, July 1, 2016

Praise Amidst The Rapids

Tip: Experiment with different close up angles for a fresh perspective on your subject matter.

See that river up there? Depending on where you are at, it can be quite calm. The shoreline is a peaceful place to relax and take in the gorgeous Idaho scenery. Peaceful as it may seem at first glance, if you venture farther into the waters, it won't be long before you run into strong currents and even some large jagged rocks. 

I sat staring at that river contemplating life the other day, and as I sit here looking at this photo, I once again do the same. It hit me moments ago that the shoreline is the calmest place- but you know what you won't do in that calm place? You won't go anywhere. For ages, I've been in that calm place. It's a place I am aching to go back to. But for now, God has pushed me into the rapids. It's not at all where I want to be, and I have no idea where I am heading, but God wanted me to move, and that's exactly what I'm working on. 

As I looked over the water, strumming "All in All" on my ukulele the other day, it reminded me that whether I have music or not, I need to keep that attitude of praise toward God. I'll tell you now: when you've been forcibly tossed into life's rocks and rapids, it isn't easy. The last thing you'll be in the mood for is praising God for His greatness. It is, however, what we are called to do. Thus, I shall try my best, and wherever you are, I hope you do also.

"Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice." - Philippians 4:4

"Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." - 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18