April 30, 2009

Soot Coffee - not recommended, but interesting

I ran across this interesting coffee recipe the other day and just thought I should share it with you.

Dr. Chase's Recipes; or Information for Everybody
by A. W. Chase, M.D.   © 1876

Soot Coffee—Has cured many cases of Ague, after everything else has failed. It is made as follows: Soot scraped from a chimney, (that from stove-pipes does not do,) 1 tablespoon, steeped in water 1pt., and settled with 1 egg beaten up in a little water, as for other coffee, with sugar and cream, 3 times daily with the meals, in place of other coffee. It has come in very much to aid restoration in Typhoid Fever, bad cases of Jaundice, Dyspepsia, etc., etc.

So many people, so little time

I love taking pictures of people. I always have. Ever since my parents got me my first little Brownie camera, my main subject has been people. People I know. People I'd like to know. People I'm not likely to ever know.

If I go out on a photography expedition with my photographer friends I consistently return with pictures of people. If we go to Washington, DC, for the Cherry Blossom Festival my friends return with pictures of historic buildings set against a burst of beautiful blossoms. I return with pictures of people. If we go to to a national park, my friends return with photos of beautiful vistas and gorgeous scenery. I return with pictures of people. If we see a huge accident on the highway, my friends return with photos of twisted metal, skid marks, and fire. I return with pictures of people.

Many people have asked me what it is that draws my viewfinder toward these people. And I don't really have an answer for them. In fact, I don't know that I fully understand it myself. I just know that I love taking pictures of people.

Maybe it's the fact that I am able to capture a moment in time that contains expressiveness that I don't find in scenics or still life photography. Maybe it's because it allows me to interact with a person's public personna without actually having to get to know them and understand them. I hope that's not it, but who knows.

The photos shown here are from my recent portrait session at work. One of the things I love to do is take a few pictures when the folks aren't actually expecting me to press the shutter release. The spontaneous expressions on their faces, the natural and comfortable aura I capture at these times makes me hopeful about the world and its people. Quite often I capture expressions that are the result of my subject interacting with someone outside the field of view of my camera. The interaction is natural and typically fun. I cherish those natural and comfortable expressions.

As I was going through the portraits I took last week, I decided to post a few of them here on the blog. These were very simple. I hung the background on a dry erase whiteboard and the only lighting I used was my Canon flash attached to the top of my camera. I diffused the flash with a Gary Fong light sphere (which is simply a little bowl-shaped Tupperware looking thing that sits on top of the flash). There was a big window to the right of my camera that allowed the bright sunlight in. That provided some good fill modeling and gave depth to the subjects' features.

And yet, even with such a simple setup and less-than-desirable portrait conditions, I love looking at the result.

I love portrait photography.

Convinced yet?

April 29, 2009

Relaxation - dolphin style

We all need to let go and just play every now and then.

In keeping with this video, I must now include the famous dolphin farewell song to the inhabitants of earth from the wonderful book Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

So Long and Thanks For All the Fish

So long and thanks for all the fish
So sad that it should come to this
We tried to warn you all but, oh dear....

You may not share our intellect
Which might explain your disrespect
For all the natural wonders that
grow around you

So long, so long and thanks
for all the fish

The world's about to be destroyed
There's no point getting all annoyed
Lie back and let the planet dissolve (around you)

Despite those nets of tuna fleets
We thought that most of you were sweet
Especially tiny tots and your pregnant women

So long, so long, so long, so long, so long
So long, so long, so long, so long, so long

So long, so long and thanks
for all the fish

Great Expectations

I just downloaded this song last night to my daughter’s MP3 player, and today it was running through my head again. I have to say, I have not yet been disappointed in my walk with Christ as long as I keep looking at Him. His followers sometimes threaten to derail me with their antics, but He Himself is “beyond my wildest imagination.”

Encouraging words from the president

United States Declaration of Independence

Whenever any form of government becomes destructive... it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to thm shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.
—President Thomas Jefferson

April 28, 2009

Free photo manipulation

Those of you who read this blog know that I love playing around in Photoshop. But Photoshop is too expensive for most of us to purchase it on our own. My copy is actually owned by my employer.

Just one of the free online filters

But today I found a great free online program that duplicates most of the tools and capabilities of Photoshop Elements. It is even laid out almost exactly the same. So if you'd like to play around with some of your photos to see what you can come up with, check out Pixlr.com. You can go to the Photo Express section to do quick cropping and minor adjustments or stay on the main section to use advanced features. It even includes such advanced tools as layers. Fantastic!

I opened the photo shown here in Pixlr.com and played a bit with the saturation, the field of focus and then applied a kaleidoscope filter to it. Very cool.

Am I a child or an arrogant fool?

Matthew 11:25

And Jesus prayed this prayer: “O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, thank you for hiding the truth from those who think themselves so wise, and for revealing it to little children. Yes, Father, for it pleased you to do it this way!”

In this prayer, Jesus mentioned two kinds of people: The wise, arrogant in their own knowledge; and little children, humbly open to receive the truth of God’s Word. So I’m left wondering which one of these describes me?

I often see my own opinion in an arrogant way—thinking that I know better than anyone else. So this is definitely something I need to pay attention to.

But I don’t think it makes sense to act like I’m wrong about everything either. Of course I believe the things that I argue for. If I thought I was wrong, I wouldn’t be defending my position.

Matthew 11:28-30

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke fits perfectly, and the burden I give you is light.”

Jesus goes on in the same passage to call those who are weary to come to him and find rest. I find that when I’m fighting for my opinion to be heard, I lack rest. It’s a very turbulent way to live. So should I be standing down in all cases and just letting others run rough-shod over me?

One of my commentaries explains the reasons someone may feel a heavy burden that makes them desire rest:

A person may be carrying heavy burdens of (1) sin, (2) excessive demands of religious leaders (Matthew 23:4; Acts 15:10), (3) oppression and persecution, or (4) weariness in the search for God. Jesus frees people from all these burdens. The rest that Jesus promises is love, healing, and peace with God, not the end of all labor. A relationship with God changes meaningless, wearisome toil into spiritual productivity and purpose.

That’s the rest I need.

Proverbs 3:5-8

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.

Another verse that has been on my mind quite a bit lately seems to parallel these thoughts. Proverbs 3:5 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” So my own opinion is not what I should be fighting for. I should be proclaiming God’s truth—not my own opinion. The next verse says, “In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” Straight paths sounds a good bit more restful than crooked paths with the unknown lurking around every bend.

Then in verses 7 and 8 we find: “Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.”

Could it be that part of the rest God promises to provide is that we will not have to figure things out if we simply fear the Lord and turn away from evil. It’s difficult being wise in our own eyes. But if we humbly look to the Lord, &ldquo:it will be healing to [our] flesh and refreshment to [our] bones.”

I’m ready for that rest.

April 27, 2009

Blog Header - April 27, 2009

I took this photo at the Lynchburg Tax Day TEA Party. I loved the expression on the girl's face. I applied a strong purple/orange gradient map to the background to give it a posterish look and rendered the girl in black & white to separate her from the background.

I kinda like it.

How do you smell?

2 Corinthians 2:15-16

For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life.

I was struck with the odd dichotomy presented in Paul's description of how a Christian smells to those around him. If a Christian is living for God, giving evidence of the holy living we have been called to, he will be a pleasing aroma to "those who are being saved," while at the same time being the stench of death to "those who are perishing."

But we should not allow this to impact our behavior too strongly. We should not begin thinking that we're something special because the believers around us enjoy our company. And we should not take it personally and become depressed if non-believers avoid us. Both of these are to be expected.

I think the greater concern for those of us who claim the name of Christ should arise when we are accepted comfortably by non-believers. If we are truly acting as we should, the non-believer should be somewhat uncomfortable with us, unless he is under the wooing influence of the Holy Spirit.

And Christians should find us pleasing, if we are doing what we should. Of course, we may be an unpleasant odor to them too, if they are not seeking Christ's Kingdom but are pursuing their own agenda in the guise of "Christianity."

So, perhaps, each of us who claims the name of Christ should also consider what it means when others who have spoken their commitment to Christ become a foul odor to us (or we to them). Is the foul stench coming from them, or are we, in fact, not truly of the household of faith?

April 24, 2009

The weekend's here! (April 24, 2009)

Starship Groove, by Animusic. This one's my son's favorite.

Blog Header - April 24, 2009

I was asked to take some head shot portraits of a few of the people I work with earlier this week. While I was setting up the equipment I asked the people working nearby if they would like me to take their portraits. I needed to get a few test shots in and make exposure adjustments before the team showed up, and taking a few extra portraits would help me get my settings adjusted while providing some nice portraits for a few folks who normally would not be included in one of these portrait sessions.

This blog header is a photo I took on the sly of a wonderful young lady who had a great smile and a delightful personality. She had such a great expression on her face that I just had to get the picture, even though she was looking at my laptop instead of at the camera and her hands were not positioned as I would have positioned them were they to be included in a portrait. But I love this particular picture.

Ever since I got my first nice camera, I have loved taking pictures of people. It's never boring and quite often it's inspiring.

Questioning Jesus

I'm currently reading One Year With Jesus for my morning devotions. Today's devotional seems particularly useful and I just wanted to share it with all of you who read this blog:

April 24 – Jesus eases John’s doubt

Luke 7:18-28 (also in Matthew 11:1-15)
The disciples of John the Baptist soon heard of all that Jesus was doing. When they told John about it, he sent two of his disciples to Jesus to ask him,

“Are you really the Messiah? Or shall we keep on looking for him?”

The two disciples found Jesus while he was curing many sick people of their various diseases—healing the lame and the blind and casting out evil spirits. When they asked him John’s question, this was his reply: “Go back to John and tell him all you have seen and heard here today: how those who were blind can see. The lame are walking without a limp. The lepers are completely healed. The deaf can hear again. The dead come back to life. And the poor are hearing the Good News. And tell him, ‘Blessed is the one who does not lose his faith in me.’”

After they left, Jesus talked to the crowd about John. “Who is this man in the wilderness that you went out to see?” he asked. “Did you find him weak as a reed, moved by every breath of wind? Or were you expecting to see a man dressed in expensive clothes? No! people who wear beautiful clothes and live in luxury are found in palaces, not in the wilderness. Were you looking for a prophet? Yes! and he is more than a prophet. John is the man to whom the Scriptures refer when they say, ‘Look! I am sending my messenger before you, and he will prepare the way before you.’ I tell you, of all who have ever lived, none is greater than John. Yet even the most insignificant person in the Kingdom of God is greater than he.”

Of all people, no one fulfilled his God-given purpose better than John. Yet in God’s Kingdom, all who come after John have a greater spiritual heritage because they have clearer knowledge of the purpose of Jesus’ death and resurrection.

Dealing with Doubts
John was confused because the reports he received about Jesus were unexpected and incomplete. John’s doubts were natural, and Jesus didn’t rebuke him for them. Instead, Jesus responded in a way that John would understand: Jesus explained that he had accomplished what the Messiah was supposed to accomplish.

God can handle our doubts, and he welcomes our questions. Do you have questions about Jesus—about who he is or what he expects of you? Admit them to yourself and to God, and begin looking for answers. Only as you face your doubts honestly can you begin to resolve them.

One Year with JesusCopyright © 1994 by The Livingstone Corporation.

April 23, 2009

The wisdom of years

“I think that to achieve true adulthood is to understand the simplicity of things. We’re locked in a funny arc, most of us, in terms of what we know. When you are goony and fourteen years old you think the most important thing in life is love. Then you mature, become more sober and thoughtful, and realize the most import thing in life is achieving, leaving your mark, making breakthroughs in the field of science, or winning an Academy Award in recognition of a serious body of work, or creating security for yourself or your family through having a good house and sending your kids to good schools. And then you get older and realize the most important thing in life is love. Giving love to others and receiving it from God. All the rest, the sober, thoughtful things, are good and constructive but love is the thing. The rest is just more or less what you were doing between fourteen and wisdom.”
—Peggy Noonan

April 22, 2009

Blog Header - April 22, 2009

I took this photo last fall when the deer made regular visits to our yard. They love one of our apple trees and ate all of the apples that had fallen around the base of the tree early in the fall. Once we noticed that they were not finding any apples there, we began buying apples at the Lynchburg Market and placing them along the sidewalk in front of our house. Three young deer began coming right up to our door each night looking for apples. A couple times we stood in the doorway and talked to them while they ate their treats.

It's so great having wildlife in your own yard.

The importance of compassion

I was reading A Treatise Concerning the Religions Affections by Jonathan Edwards and came across a passage that I think has particular importance for the contemporary Evangelical church.

Again, the holy Scriptures do frequently speak of compassion or mercy, as a very great and essential thing in true religion, insomuch that good men are in Scripture denominated from hence; and a merciful man and a good man are equivalent terms in Scripture; Isa. 57:1, “The righteous perisheth, and no man layeth it to heart; and merciful men are taken away.”

Colossians 3:12-14
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

And the Scripture chooses out this quality, as that by which, in a peculiar manner, a righteous man is deciphered; Psalm 37:21, “The righteous showeth mercy, and giveth;” and v. 26, “He is ever merciful, and lendeth.” And Prov. 14:21, “He that honoreth the Lord, hath mercy on the poor.” And Col. 3:12, “Put ye on, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies,” etc.

This is one of those great things by which those who are truly blessed are described by our Savior; Matt. 5:7, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” And this Christ also speaks of, as one of the weightier matters of the law; Matt. 23:23, “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, for ye pay tithe of mint, and anise, and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith.”

Matthew 9:13
Go and learn what this means, “I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.” For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.

To the like purpose is that, Mic. 6:8, “He hath showed thee, O man, what is good: and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justice, and love mercy, and walk humbly with thy God?” And also that, Hos. 6:6 “For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice.” Which seems to have been a text much delighted in by our Savior, by his manner of citing it once in Matt. 9:13 and again in Matt. 12:7.

April 21, 2009

Middlebury Declaration - November 2004

There is no reason that we cannot begin to examine the processes of secession in the United States. There are already at least 28 separatist organizations in this country and there seems to be a growing sentiment that, because the national government has shown itself to be clumsy, unresponsive, and unaccountable in so many ways, power should be concentrated at lower levels. Whether these levels should be the states or coherent regions within the states or something smaller still is a matter best left to the people active in devolution, but the principle of secession must be established as valid and legitimate.

To this end, therefore, we are pledged to create a movement that will place secession on the national agenda, encourage nonviolent secessionist organizations throughout the country, develop communication among existing and future secessionist groups, and create a body of scholarship to examine and promote the ideas and principles of secessionism.

April 20, 2009

Morning meditation - April 20, 2009

Psalm 121:1-8

I lift up my eyes to the hills.
   From where does my help come?

My help comes from the Lord,
   who made heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot be moved;
   he who keeps you will not slumber.

Behold, he who keeps Israel
   will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is your keeper;
   the Lord is your shade on your right hand.

The sun shall not strike you by day,
   nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all evil;
   he will keep your life.

The Lord will keep
   your going out and your coming in
   from this time forth and forevermore.

April 19, 2009

Blazing a new trail

Romans 11:34

“For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?”

All our lives we are taught not to take a step in the dark. We should not rush ahead when we don’t know what’s around the next bend. Some of us ignore that advice and race through life—relishing each next unexpected adventure. I am not one of those. I tend to step carefully and I tend to dread the unknown around the next bend—and sometimes even the known things that are in plain sight.

Yesterday God brought us to the end of a current trail. This one doesn’t appear to be a bend but a dead-end with a fork in the road. And the fork that we apparently must take heads off into the pitch blackness of the unknown. I described to a friend of mine recently that if it’s true that trouble comes in threes, my record must be stuck on two-and-a-half and repeating over and over again.

I’ve been through these times before. God has always been faithful. And yet I seem to continue to fear the future. My first reaction to unexpected change tends to be less than stellar. But I don’t think I'm alone in that.

Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

When Job got his bad news (much worse than mine, by the way), he responded with, “Today also my complaint is bitter; my hand is heavy on account of my groaning” (Job 2:2). Job was feeling sorry for himself. But he recovered later in the same chapter when in verse 10 he says, “But he knows the way that I take; when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold.”

And so I turn into the pitch black fork in the road, stretch my foot forward, and trust God to keep my foot on sure ground and not allow me to fall into the tar pits.

April 18, 2009

Blog Header - April 19, 2009

Our friends Joe and Abigail and their baby Isabella. I took this photo of them at the park in front of our house for them to send to their friends for Easter this year.

Keep it moving forward.

Lynchburg Tax Day TEA Party - Video 2

The only thing necessary for evil to triumph in this world is for good men to do nothing.
—Edmund Burke

April 17, 2009

What does a trillion dollars look like?

Lynchburg Tax Day TEA Party - Video 1

I thought I should share with you some of the great moments from the Lynchburg TEA Party. We need to remember these things and act on them—or rather, act to stop them and to keep them from ever happening again.

The weekend's here! (April 17, 2009)

This song just makes me want to dance, shout, sing, and praise God that he gave us the gift of music. Man! can this guy play guitar!

April 16, 2009

Tax Day TEA Party - Lynchburg, VA

UPDATE:  You may read some short accounts of the various TEA Parties across the U.S. here (morning reports) and here (evening reports).

I knew I loved this city!

Yesterday the United States witnessed a unique event. The people of the United States took to the streets in opposition to the government's extreme spending binge. Pockets of concerned citizens gathered in their towns and cities across America [click for map of TEA Parties] to plead with the Federal government to stop the irresponsible spending. And an underlying message was quite clearly, "or else."

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security recently released a report that cast the folks who gathered for these events as potential threats to our national security. [DHS Report on Extremism - PDF format] But the folks I saw were not threatening violence of any sort. But they were truly threatening—threatening to vote people out of office if they can't control themselves and their spending; threatening to pressure their elected officials until they start behaving; and even threatening secession should none of the above work. Don't believe me? Check out this story from one of the Texas TEA Party events. In fact, listen to Gov. Rick Perry say it himself.

America is mad!

It was great to see how polite and well-behaved the folks were—at least those who gathered in Lynchburg. The rally grew so large—almost 2,000 people—that it blocked the bridge to the rest of the city. So a few folks who had parked their cars in that lower area of town for their work day were stuck behind the huge crowd. But as they began to pull out, the crowd politely parted like the Red Sea under Moses' command. A few folks didn't notice as the cars began to drive through the crowd. When that happened, another person would scurry over, tap the person on the shoulder and let them know that a car was trying to make its way through. No honking, no shouting, no shutting down of the traffic flow. These were folks not intent on bringing a city to its knees. They were folks intent on getting our nation back on track after its leaders have brought it to its knees.

I love this country and I hope her people are able to grab the attention of their leaders. I believe it's a now-or-never situation.

We have staked the whole future of American civilization, not upon the power of the government, far from it. We have staked the future of all of our political institutions upon the capacity of mankind for self-government; upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves, to control ourselves, to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God
James Madison

We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our constitution was made only for a moral and religions people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.
John Adams

United States
July 4, 1776

When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal stations to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitles them...

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal. That they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Ronald Reagan

The time has come to turn to God and reassert our trust in Him for the healing of America ... our country is in need of and ready for a spiritual renewal.

You can check out some more pics here and here.

In these desperate times...

Matthew 6:31-34

Therefore do not be anxious, saying, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?” or “What shall we wear?” For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

I recently received One Year with Jesus in e-book format. It's a great little daily devotional that I have been thoroughly enjoying.

Referring to the Matthew 6 passage in the callout, the author states: “Planning for tomorrow is time well spent; worrying about tomorrow is time wasted.” But sometimes those things are a bit hard to separate.

I think the point of all this is that we need to look to God for our foundational source of all comfort. As we deal with the uncertainty of the economy and the future of our nation, we need to look primarily to God as Provider. We should not rely on our jobs to provide for us. We should not rely on the government to provide for us. We should not even rely on ourselves to provide for us—at least not until we have recognized that God will provide for those who seek first His kingdom.

One Year with Jesus

To give God first place in your life means to turn to God first for help, to fill your thoughts with his desires, to take his character for your pattern, and to serve and obey him in everything. What is really important to you? People, objects, goals, and other desires all compete for priority. Any of these can quickly bump God out of first place if you don’t actively choose to give him first place in every area of your life.

So rather than worrying about our own future or the future of our nation, we should look to the needs of the Kingdom and leave our personal needs in the hands of our loving God, Jehovah Jireh—God, the Provider.

Looks like I have a lot of work to do.

April 15, 2009

Blog Header - April 15, 2009

I took this photo a few hours ago at the Lynchburg Tax Day TEA Party. In this tiny city, this TEA Party drew more than 1,800 people (according to official city counts). I think the people of our nation are upset. At least it seems that way here in Lynchburg.

Oh yeah - that's another reason to love Lynchburg!

Honesty and truthfulness

Truth seems to be hard to come by these days. Spin has spread out from the political world to infect the entirety of our lives. Bill Clinton taught us all how to parse words to deflect accusations that we actually meant what we said. This "spin" on the truth has even become prevalent in churches. It just seems we can't find a way to tell the truth—even when the matters being discussed are trivial.

Matthew 5:33-37

“Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’ But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.

I recently read this passage of scripture from Matthew 5 and was struck with the simplicity of Jesus' demand from us. In essence, Jesus said that we should simply not worry about making oaths to show how very serious we are, but that we should be known for our truthfulness in all matters. When we are known for our truthfulness, no oaths are necessary. Jesus says, "Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’.”

Jesus goes on to say, “Anything more than this comes from evil.” It seems that Jesus is saying that vowing with an oath shows the exact opposite of what we hope it will show. We think that vowing with an oath shows that we are very serious and we are going to keep our word. But Jesus seems to be saying that if we have to use an oath to show that we're serious, we aren't trustworthy in the first place.

This is something that I need to work on in my own life. And from what I've seen around me, I'm not the only one who needs work in this area. May God fix in the hearts of his people especially that importance of truthfulness and honesty. May our “Yes” be Yes and our “No” be No.

April 14, 2009

Blog Header - April 15, 2009

Today's blog header is a photo of my son jumping from the swing at the playground near his school. I took this photo almost a year ago and David has grown so much since then that I needed to post this one before he is unrecognizable for the changes.

My work has kept me so busy lately that I have not had the time to post anything that would require research or thought. But I'll try to get back to the normal flow of things soon.

April 13, 2009

A reminder to those who would reject Christ

Our president has declared that "we are not a Christian nation," and perhaps that is true. But none of us, regardless of our religious beliefs, should rejoice in that pronouncement. Eventually, every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord of all.

While looking for videos to post for Easter Sunday, I came across this video of the sun rising behind the U.S. Capitol Building, the Washington Monument, and the Marine Iwo Jima Memorial. Watching the sun rise while listening to the words of this song reminded me that our leaders may not recognize Jesus as Lord—but that does not diminish his Lordship.

Music from Imeem

If you like music as much as I do, check out my "Recommended Music" playlist in the sidebar. Imeem.com powers this playlist and will allow you to listen to high quality streaming versions of some of my favorite music. I'll try to keep it updated regularly, so check back from time to time. I'll try to introduce you to some good music that you may not have heard before.

I'll start you off now with a fantastic song written and performed by my friend Dan Meyers. I met Dan about a decade ago, when he had just decided to tell his Marine chaplain father that he was going to drop out of West Point to pursue his music. After much discussion, Dan's father supported him in his decision and Dan now travels all over the world bringing the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ to US troops. He sings for them and then shares a message that would not be possible if he were a member of the armed forces himself. God is using Dan greatly.

Thanks to Lydia McGrew of Extra Thoughts for bringing Imeem to my attention.

April 11, 2009

Easter - He is alive, for he is risen!

Two thousands years ago a man taught us about God. The people in charge put him to death, but not before he had captured the attention of the world.

Jesus still motivates, inspires, and intimidates people so many years later. But more importantly, Jesus still saves all those who will turn from their sin and trust in his death, burial, and resurrection. The resurrection that we celebrate today.

Praise the Lord! Jesus has risen from the dead!

April 10, 2009

The Weekend's Here! (April 10, 2009)

I had another video scheduled for today, but when one of my coworkers sent me this, I just couldn't resist. For those of you who don't like political humor, I apologize, but this one was just too funny—albeit quite sad in its truthfulness.

Wizard's First Rule - The Legend of the Seeker

In a previous post I recommended Wizard’s First Rule by Terry Goodkind. This is one of the best fantasy books I've ever read. Goodkind is a fantastic storyteller and his books really draw me into the plot.

I was excited to read a while ago that they were making a movie of Wizard’s First Rule. But after the first mention of this I heard no more—until yesterday when I went to the High Definition gallery at hulu.com. And there it was, but under a different title.

Here it is—the full-length movie that launched the series “The Legend of the Seeker.” I hope you enjoy it.

[Total run time: 1 hour, 28 minutes]

April 09, 2009

No longer the world's leading nation

Our new president has now bowed before the king of Saudi Arabia. You can see the waist-deep bow at approximately 50 seconds into this video:

“It wasn’t a bow. He grasped his hand with two hands, and he’s taller than King Abdullah,” said an Obama aide, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Uh, yeah.... Unless he was grasping the king’s shoelaces, I believe that body action is described as a bow.

Simply shocking.

Read the full story at Politico

Blog Header - April 8, 2009

Today’s blog header originated as a photo of the Potomac River near the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. I photograph the Virginia, Maryland, and DC Fast 50 event each year from this location. It’s a beautiful spot and an enjoyable evening.

I obviously played with this photo quite a bit in Photoshop. I’ve always loved the color pink and really liked the result of this photo manipulation, so I thought I’d post it here for a few days.

Washington, DC, is a wonderful city to visit and a great place for history and photography. It’s a bit rough working there because the traffic is horrendous, but having grown up in the shadow of Washington, DC, I have never tired of the many things this city has to offer.

April 08, 2009

Easter portraits

A couple days ago our friends Joe & Abigail asked if we could take some quick photos of their family. They wanted to send an Easter photo to their family and friends. So they came over, I grabbed my camera, and we went outside to take a few pictures. Kim managed to wrangle the baby away from them, but she gave her back when they left.

The two photos here are from that 15-minute photo session. They’re such a good-looking family. Were we ever that young?

Awesome pictures from my wife

Kim was a chaperone on David's recent field trip to Washington, DC. She's such a great photographer that I just thought you might like to see her pictures. This blog post includes a few pictures of the Capitol building.

April 06, 2009

The Rich Have Much to Learn

This is a neat idea from a church in Denver. Use the pause button feature so you can read the captions. You can also just click on a photo in the tray to disable the auto-forward.

Unusual politics

Perhaps we should begin fundraising to send Barack Obama to intern with this Canadian Mayor. I think he could learn a thing or two. In fact, maybe all our politicians should be required to do a stint with this Mayor before they seek public office.

Did I hear that right? Her city is debt free? Wow!

April 05, 2009

Blog Header - April 5, 2009

Today's blog header is a photo of the front door and front porch (can you call that little thing a porch? - maybe "stoop") of our house. The small cast iron and wood bench is actually a portrait prop my wife used in her pre-school portraiture a couple years ago. It looks great in front of our house, although normal sized people can't really sit in it.

I recently saw a book called The Garden of God. It was a simple gardening journal written over many years in the life of a man who loves work around his house—beautifying it with shrubs, plants, and flowers. His compelling argument is that God has given us inredible beauty in the natural world and that our enjoyment is greatly increased when we notice and appreciate that beauty. He encourages folks to decorate their houses and yards with plants and flowers as part of God's command for man to "subdue the earth."

I believe this author has it right. And, although you can't see it in this photo, we have a beautiful shrub and flower garden to the left of the door. It was carefully planted a few years ago by our good friend, Peg (who also helped plant flowering shrubs and bushes all around our house). Walking to our front door is like entering an oasis in the desert. It is God's garden—or at least part of God's garden—and we love it.

April 03, 2009

The weekend's here (April 3, 2009)

I love Animusic. This stuff is amazing. If you really want to get your socks knocked off, hit the play button on the this video. Then, when the video begins to roll a new button (“HQ”) will appear. Click on the HQ (High Quality) button. This is my favorite piece by Animusic.

Here's the trailer for Animusic's first DVD:

April 02, 2009

"The Federal Government stands behind your warranty!"

A humble minister of Christ

I am reading "Letters of Spiritual Counsel: The Letters of Samuel Rutherford" and am amazed at the humble spirit this minister of Christ displayed. I think we have all become much too full of ourselves and forget that our value is in the fact that we are God's image bearers. We have no value apart from Jesus Christ. It is all too easy for us to begin to think that we are better than others, when in fact we are the same—all of us being in need of an eternal Savior.

To John Fullerton
Of Carleton in Galloway

Worthy and Much Honored,

Grace, mercy and peace be to you. I received your letter from my brother, to which I now answer particularly.

I confess two things of myself, first, woe is me, that men should think there is anything in me. He is my witness, before whom I am as crystal, that the secret house–devils that bear me too often company, and that this sink of corruption which I find within, make me go with low sails. And if others saw what I see, they would look by me, but not to me.

Second. I know that this shower of free grace behaved to be on me, otherwise I should have withered. I know, also, that I have need of a buffeting tempter, that grace may be put to exercise, and I kept low.

Worthy and dear brother in the Lord Jesus, I write that from my heart which you now read. I avouch that Christ, and sweating and sighing under His cross, is sweeter to me by far, than all the kingdoms in the world could possibly be. If you, and my dearest acquaintance in Christ, reap any fruit by my suffering, let me be weighed in God’s even balance, if my joy be not fulfilled. What am I, to carry the marks of such a great King! I have gotten the wale and choice of Christ’s crosses, even the tithe and the flower of the gold of all crosses, to bear witness to the truth; and herein find I liberty, joy, access, life, comfort, love, faith, submission, patience and resolution to take delight in on waiting. And, withal, in my race He has come near me and let me see the gold and crown. Let no man think he shall lose at Christ’s hands in suffering for Him.

I doubt not but my Lord is preparing me for heavier trials. I am most ready at the good pleasure of my Lord, in the strength of His grace for anything He will be pleased to call me to; neither shall the black faced messenger Death beholden at the door when it shall knock. If my Lord will take honor of the like of me how glad and joyful will my soul be. Let Christ come out with me to a hotter battle than this and I will fear no flesh. I know that my Master shall win the day and that He has taken the order of my suffering into His own hand. I have not yet resisted to blood.

Oh, how often am I laid in the dust, and urged by the tempter (who can ride his own errands upon our lying apprehensions) to sin against the unchangeable love of my Lord! When I think upon the sparrows and swallows that build their nests in the church of Anwoth, and of my dumb Sabbaths, my sorrowful, bleated eyes look asquint upon Christ, and present Him as angry. But in this trial (all honor to our princely and royal King!) faith saileth fair before the wind, with topsail up, and carrieth the passenger through. I lay inhibitions upon my thoughts, that they receive no slanders of my only, only Beloved.

Now my dearest in Christ, the great Messenger of the Covenant, the only wise and all–sufficient Jehovah, establish you to the end. I hear that the Lord has been at your house, and has called home your wife to her rest. I know, Sir, that you see the Lord loosing the pins of your tabernacle, and wooing your love from this plastered and over–gilded world, and calling upon you to be making yourself ready to go to your father’s country, which shall be a sweet fruit of that visitation. You know “to send the Comforter” was the King’s word when He ascended on high. You have claim to, and interest in, that promise.

All love, all mercy, all grace and peace, all multiplied saving consolations, all joy and faith in Christ, all stability and confirming strength of grace, and the goodwill of Him that dwelt in the Bush be with you.

Your unworthy brother,

Aberdeen, June 15, 1637

April 01, 2009

Blog Header - April 1, 2009

Today's blog header is a photo I took of our pastor's daughter almost 15 years ago. Suzanna wanted senior portraits that were unusual and asked if I would take some portraits for her. We spent the day taking studio shots and then running around to various locations doing a variety of formal, informal, and casual portraits. This shot was taken while Suzanna was taking a break. It's in the Prince William Forest Park in Northern Virginia—the park where my sister was married.