Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Portrait for Today...Airshow!

This past weekend, my city hosted an airshow.  I don't know about you, but I love airshows.  I just think it's really cool to see planes flying about, doing things you wouldn't normally think a plane could do.  The headliner of the show was the USAF Thunderbirds, but there were other amazing pilots there as well.  After the jump, some of the photos I got during the event.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Portrait for Today...Fall

It's finally fall again.  This is probably my favorite time of year.  The weather is getting cooler, but not cold yet.  The trees start changing colors.  There are lots of outdoor things that can be done now that the heat of summer just makes it difficult to enjoy.  There are bonfires, hayrides, marshmallow roasts, pumpkin patches and more.  There is Thanksgiving to look forward to, as well as a couple of other rather important days.  Well, at least they're important to me, my anniversary and birthday are in the fall.  :-)  To celebrate the coming of this wonderful season, a few photos I have taken during the fall, after the jump.  Enjoy!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Perception for today...Contemplating the Bible

Hello all!  I've been away from my blog for a while.  I've been rather busy with other things, and on top of that, I've had a bit of a mental block for my blog, unsure of what to write.  I didn't want to go any longer without blogging though, so I thought I might blog a bit about why I've been away.  My thoughts after the jump.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Perception for Today...The Quiet Voice of God?

Hello friends!

Today's blog post is all about listening to God.  As Christians, we should take our direction for life from God.  The only way we can do that though is we are listening for God.  To be listening for God, we must know how he communicates to us.  So how does God communicate with us?  What does it sound like?  My thoughts after the jump.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Perception for Today...Biblical Difficulties-Slavery

Hello everybody!

I'd like to continue on the Biblical difficulties topic today.  Last time, I talked about polygamy and how some people think that the Bible endorses it.  One idea that is more widely thought to be endorsed by the Bible than polygamy, however, is slavery.  This can sometimes be a hangup for some people in believing that the God of the Bible is good.  They think of how horrible it was when people in United States would abuse their slaves or how families would be torn apart as white men came and kidnapped people in Africa, and then they see that many people in the Bible had slaves and that Jesus commanded slaves to be obedient to their masters.  Seeing those things in the Bible, they then assume that the Bible endorses the kind of slavery that was rampant in the 1600s-1800s.  Is this really the case though?  Would a good God endorse taking a man from his family and cruelly force him into hard labor without compensation and without hope?  My thoughts after the jump.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Perception for Today...Biblical Difficulties-Polygamy

Hello readers!

Today's perception is about Biblical difficulties.  You know, things in the Bible that may be difficult to understand, hard to explain, seem contradictory, or maybe appear to be just plain bad.  There are several things in the Bible that could fit this description.  Sometimes, they can be hang-ups that keep people from putting their faith in Jesus.  They are often used as ammunition by atheists and skeptics to attack the Christians' faith.  Indeed, my idea for this post comes from what I read when I browse the comments on stories in the Belief Blog on CNN.com.  This could possibly turn into a multi-post story that I may have to make a page for, but we'll start with this one post for now.  My thoughts after the jump.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Perception for Today...Terror in the Name of God?

As most people know by now, there was a terror attack in Norway recently.  A man set off a truck bomb outside of a federal building, and then went on a shooting rampage at a youth camp.  All told, over 80 people, mostly children and teens, were killed.  It is the worst terror attack in Europe since the Madrid train bombing a few years ago.  This is a terribly tragedy and my heart goes out to all the victims.  One thing that has been said in regards to this case though, is that the suspect has been described by some in the media as a "right-wing Christian fundamentalist."  Could a "Christian fundamentalist" really have done this?  What would a Christian fundamentalist be?  My thoughts after the jump.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Portrait for Today...Dream Center

Today's blog post is a look at a new ministry here in my hometown.  It's called the Dream Center.  I sat down with Lynn and Julie Hicks, who are heading up the ministry, last week to talk about the Dream Center, how they got involved, and where they want to see it go.  The story and more photos after the jump.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Perception for Today...Revenge

Hello everybody!  It's been two weeks since my last post.  I've been trying to decide on what to post about, but nothing was really coming to mind.  A bit of blogger's block. This past weekened I did a brief photo shoot and interview, so I'll have a portrait post before long, but until I have that ready, I've got this.  I came across a story on CNN last week that got me thinking about revenge.  A man and woman in California are going through a divorce, and it is apparently a nasty divorce.  The article did not mention why the couple is breaking up, but I inferred that the woman felt it was the man's fault.  So, she assaulted him.  Officially, she is being charged with torture and aggrevated mayhem, and could also face a poisoning charge.  You can read the article about the crime and her charges here.  (WARNING:  The crime she is accused of is of a graphic nature).  When the police and medics showed up, she stated that he "deserved it".  What she did was in some way an act of revenge.  So today, let's look at revenge.  What is it?  Is it ever meritted?  Does the Bible say anything about revenge?  My thoughts after the jump.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Perception Today...Judging

Hello friends!  I hope everybody had a wonderful Independence Day weekend!  (If you don't live in the States and you happen to be reading this, then I hope you still had a wonderful weekend and start of your week!).  It's been several days since my last post, so I thought it was about time I wrote another.  I was actually hoping to do a "Portrait" post, but my plan to get that portrait over the weekend fell through, so it will have to wait.

Since I don't have a portrait post lined up yet, today's perception is all about judging.  As most people now know, Casey Anthony was found "not guilty" yesterday of abusing and murdering her young daughter Caylee.  This case and trial has been a rather emotional one for many people, and while it may not have been as big as the OJ Simpson case of the 1990s, I'd say it was close.  My thoughts on the verdict in the first part of the post and then judging in the second, after the jump.  (Longer post today)

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Percepton today...Love...Epilogue

Ok, so a final note on love.  I thought I would share the rest of 1 Corinthians 13 with you.  I shared a portion of it when talking about the characteristics of love, but now I'll share the whole chapter, affectionately referred to as the "Love Chapter" in the Bible.  It shows you just how important God thinks love is.  (VERY important!)

Also, I'd like to steer anybody who comes across this blog post over to Sarah Elizabeth's blog at Daughter of the King.  On the right side column of her blog, you'll find several links where she has blogged about some of the characteristics of love from this same chapter of the Bible.  (a few of the links were not working for me, but I'm not sure if that was a glitch just for me or if those links no longer work, but others are still active with a blog post).

1 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
 4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
 8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
 13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Perception Today...Love...Part 3

Today is the last post in my little talk about love.  There are many more things that I could talk about when it comes to love, but I'm trying to keep my posts from being too long.  :-)  Last time we talked about the characteristics of love.  Today, let's talk about some demonstrations of love.  My thoughts after the jump.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Perception for Today...Love...Part 2

Today, let's keep gonig on what love is.  I left off last time with the Bible's definition of what love is and what its character is, found in 1 Corinthians 13.  Just to remind you, that passage says:

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

So why don't we go through this passage bit by bit.  Perceptions after the jump.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Portrait for today...ME!

Okay, I know yesterday I said that today I would be doing part 2 on my perception of love, but I got busy writing an "About Me" page instead.  You can check that out by just clicking on the "About Me" link at the top of the blog.  Since I did that today though, I will put off part 2 on "Love" until tomorrow.  'Til then...have a great day!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Perception Today...What is Love?...Pt 1

Recently, I made a blog post entited "The Ones We Love."  Today, I'd like to talk a little bit about what that word really means.  Love.  For some, it is a 4-letter word in the derogatory sense of 4-letter words.  For others, it is simply a "chemical reaction in the brain."  Other people will think love is flippant, associating it with sex.  For others still, love has a deep, profound meaning.  So, what is love?  Is there such a thing as true love?  Love at first sight?  My thoughts after the jump.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Portrait today...Photography Blogs

Today will be an easy going blog post. Nothing profound today. I just felt like sharing some of the photography and camera related blogs and websites that I follow. Photography is a passion of mine. In a future post, I might share how I got into, why I enjoy it, and what I like photographing. There are others that I learn from and take inspiration from. Some of these sights are about specific topics, others are more or less opinion or rumor blogs. Others are just blogs of famous photographers. I talk about each one a bit and provide links after the jump.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Portrait for Today...Dad

Today is Father's Day.  A day when we recognize the value and importance of who, for most of us, should be the single most influential man in our lives growing up.  For many people, like me, Dad is the one that taught us how to ride a bide, fish, fix things, drive a car, catch a baseball, and a host of other little things.  He also taught us some of the big things though, like how to love a respect women (starting with our mom), how to be strong, how to slow down and think before we act, the importance of doing well in school, and how God should be the most important thing in our lives.

More after the jump.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Portrait for Today...The Ones We Love

Who do you love?  Do you have a spouse, a child, a close and dear friend?  I have one that I love.  I've been married to my wonderful wife for a little over a year now.  She is my best friend in the world, and I would do anything for her.  We have many commonalities and some differences.  We talk about life, goals, dreams, desires, love, God, faith, and fun.  We don't agree on everything, but then we wouldn't be different people if we agreed on absolutely everything.  She's certainly not perfect, but I'm pretty far from perfect myself.  And yet we still love each other.  We choose to love one another.  We both believe that God brought us into one another's lives for a purpose and a reason.  I believe that I was the person the God wanted to bring to my wife to lift her up, and that my wife was the person he brought me to encourage me.  I try my best to make sure that I show her affection, support, and love. 

More and photos after the jump.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Perception for Today...Bearing Your Cross

My perception on Christianity today comes from reading the following Bible verses.

Luke 14:27-30
Whoever does not persevere and carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.
    28For which of you, wishing to build a farm building, does not first sit down and calculate the cost whether he has sufficient means to finish it?
    29Otherwise, when he has laid the foundation and is unable to complete the building, all who see it will begin to mock and jeer at him,
    30Saying, This man began to build and was not able to finish.

My thoughts after the jump.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Last carryover blog.  After this, they'll all be new.

Do you ever get angry? What do you get mad about? One of the things that gets me the most angry is when somebody is being rude, unkind, unfair, or just plain evil to my wife. Some people like to think that anger is a bad thing. Some Christians and non-Christians that think they know what Christianity is will even tell you that anger is a sin. This certainly couldn't be the case though. Think about it. Aren't there some things that are worth being angry over? How about the sensless murder of a child, the rape of an innocent young woman, or the terror and horror of 9/11. If those things don't make you angry, then what are your priorities and where is your heart? I would argue that there is something wrong with you either medically or morally if those things didn't make you angry in some way.

So what is anger then? Anger is an emotion. It's an emotion exactly like happiness and sadness are emotions. Anger though, has a much a greater potential to be acted out in an intensely physical way than many other emotions though. So if anger itself is inherrently NOT evil, then it is the way we deal with that anger that can be. How do you deal with anger? Sometimes, that may depend on what it was that made you angry? If somebody wrongs you, do you lash back at them? Do you yell at them, hit them, steal from them, or worse? If you think that cursing somebody, punching somebody, stealling, or murder is wrong in normal circumstances, why would those suddenly become lawful, moral, and right just because somebody has done you wrong?

Ideas of justice can be very tricky. I don't think there is always a black and white stance is such areas. For example, if I came home, and I found somebody attacking my wife, or if somebody attacked us while we were out, I would not hesitate to use deadly force if need be because I believe in self defense and the defense of others when in immediate danger. If, however, God forbid, somebody were to hurt my wife or another loved one and there was nothing I could do about it at the time, then I would not be justified in going to find that person and killing him. At that point, it is no longer defense, but pre-meditated murder. Does that mean that the assailant does not deserve it? No. I believe that person would deserve it. Just like I believe people who hurt young children "deserve" to be hurt.

Here is the thing though. It is not my place to deal out that punishment, that "justice". That is why we have a government, with courts and a legal system. I in no way think that our system is perfect, and if I were the one making the rules, I would likely do things differently, but that is not my call. If were all allowed to serve out our own justice, we would live in a lawless anarchy, constantly living in fear. We would have no idea what the standards were, because everybody would have their own standards. How could that possibly be fair? "Fair" would not be defined, because true fairness requires a universal standard.

So long as we're on this side of forever, there will be things that make you angry because we live in an imperfect world. People will hurt you and others because they fail to attempt to look through the lens of your life, or they may be looking through a cloudy lens of their own. How you deal with that anger though, is always, and only up to YOU. So are you going to repay wrong for wrong, evil for evil, or are you going to find a healthy, good outlet for your anger?

Thoughtfulness and Sensitivity

Fourth carryover post...

Everybody has their own idea of what happens to them after they die.  Most people believe in a utopian paradise in which everything is perfect, in one way or another, and everybody gets along.  No matter what you believe though, one thing is for certain, on this side of forever we must still interact with people that are different and may not have the same attitudes as we do. 

Let's face it.  People can be irritating, annoying, and inconsiderate.  Allow me to give an example that maybe most people wouldn't even think of.  Allergies.  Most people have an allergy to something.  Usually, it's to something like pollen.  It's nothing seriours, but it can be more than annoying.  There are more serious allergens such as peanuts, other foods, and medications that can be debilitating or even life threatening.  And then there are allergens caused be people.

Some people are allergic to perfumes, colognes, hair sprays, and other artificially scented products.  It can cause headaches, migrains, nausea, and just a feeling of "ickiness".  Most people don't realize the strength of the scent that they are using it because they have become desensitized to it.  But for people who have allergies to things substances, it can be overwhelming.  Now, nobody can tell you what to wear or not wear, and what to use or not use.  I'm not going to write here that if you use perfume that you're a bad person and you should stop using perfume.

Here is where the thoughtfulness and sensitivity come in.  These are things that should be applied in a private setting, like in your home.  When you spray or dab on a heavily scented substance (and yes, it is almost always heavier than you think), it permeates the environment you are in.  If you are around other people, there could be somebody that has an allergy to these scents, and it could make them sick.  Think of it this way.  If you had an allergy to pollen.  Would you like it if I were to can pollen and spray it around you?  Probably not.  It's the same thing for some people and fragrences.  Try to think of other people when doing something.  This is especially true if you work with somebody and they have let you know about their allergy.  Try putting yourself in their shoes.  How would you feel? 

Thinking of others is something we should really try to do in other areas as well.  How would you feel in somebody's situation?  It's as the golden rule says, "do unto others as you would have them do unto you."  Likewise, "don't do to others what you wouldn't want done to you."


Third carryover blog...

...comes before a fall.  Right?  Almost.  This is another oft misquoted Bible scripture.  The actual verse says the consequence of pride is much more serious.  Pride leads to destruction.  If you fall, generally you can pick yourself back up, or if the fall is bad, somebody else can help you back up.  But how do you come back from destruction?  I can assure you, it is much harder, my friend.

What should be said of pride?  Well, first off, I don't think all pride is necessarily bad.  For example, I am proud of my wife when she stands up for herself.  I'm proud of my parents for the wonderful job they did in raising me and the love that they show for each other.  One day, I hope to have children, and I am certain I will have pride in them.  Is that pride wrong, or evil?  I don't think so.  But there is another kind of pride that can tear your life apart.

The kind of pride that can do the most damage, I think, is the pride that leads you to think of yourself as better than you really are.  Probably the most damaging form is when somebody is so proud that they cannot admit when they have done wrong.  Sometimes, the most difficult thing for a person to do, is utter three simple words (two if you use the contraction), "I'm sorry," or, "I was wrong."  We are so quick to find fault in others, and will rarely look inward to see if there was anything that we have done to wrong that person.  When a couple argues, or a family fights, it is rarely, if ever, the complete fault of just one person.  If a person's action were immoral, or illegal, this does not excuse their behavior.  A perceived fault by one person, whether real or not, is no excuse to commit another wrong against that person because of it.  For example, if a wife cheats on her husband because she feels he is not meeting her emotional needs, the husband may be at fault for not meeting his wife's needs, but that does not excuse the wrong the wife committed in cheating.  I just wanted to be clear on that point.

My point is, that when a person is so proud that they cannot look inwardly, to even attempt to find what they may be at fault for, it destroys lives, destroys families, and destroys relationships.  As I've said before, and I know I'll say again, on this side of forever, relationships are the most important thing we have.  If we're so proud that we can't admit we're wrong, or admit when we need help, then that will eventually destroy us.  So try looking through the lens of the other person.  What do you think they are seeing?  Maybe, if you try that, it will make looking through your own lens even clearer.

For the love of Benjamin...

Second carryover post from old blog...

...Franklin, that is.   Money.  That is today's topic.  People will often say, "money is the root of evil."  This is actually a mis-quote.  Money can be used for much good, and money is actually a nessecity.  Without money, how do we become independent citizens, feed our children, find a place to live, run hospitals, or give to those without?  No, money is not the root of evil.  The phrase is actually a verse from the Bible that goes, "The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil."   In other words, greed.  Also note that it is not the root of ALL evil, but "all kinds of evil". 

Not every evil is driven by the love of money, but there are many kinds that are.  It is often the love of mooney that drives people to steal, to cheat on their taxes, to step on the little person, even to kill.  There is nothing wrong with wanting to have more money.  I would like to have more money myself so that I may provide a better life for my children one day than I had.  I would like to have more money so that I could help my parents and my sister and brother-in-law when times are tough for them.  And yes, I would even like more money so that I may have more fun myself.

Here is the difference, I am still content with what I have, and work with what I have.  I am not so consumed by money that it becomes the complete or overwhelming object in my life.  Yes, at times it is at the front of my mind more than others, especially right now as I have a few large expenses coming up.  I do not allow money to drive a wedge between me and the ones I love.  If I am owed a debt by somebody, and they are making efforts to pay it off, even if very slowly, I recognize that effort and work with them. 

You cannot expect for somebody that owes you a few thousand dollars but makes just over minimum wage to be able to pay you back quickly.  And you should trust that person to pay you back if they have shown in the past that they work towards that goal of paying you back, however slowly they do.  This is especially true for close family.  Family and relationship is so much more important than money.  On their deathbed, nobody wishes to count their gold coins one more time, or to balance their checkbook again, or revel in their success on Wall Street.  They want people by their side that they care about and that cares about them.  So look at it through a lens of compassion and love, not of greed.  Because this side of forever is so short, and on the other side of forever, money doesn't matter, because you can't take it with you.


My first carryover post from my old blog.

What is fair?  How do we define fairness?  How do we know if something is fair?  Usually, the issue of fairness comes up when somebody else is getting something we think that we deserve as well.  Chances are,  you've experienced that in life at least one, even if it was over something trivial.

What if it wasn't something trivial?  What if it was something that really is "a big deal."  "Why did I get hurt?"  "Why did that person have to die?"  "Why did that bad man do that to that good girl?"  "If God and heaven and hell are real, why would I go to hell if I'm a good person?"  These are all profound, deep questions about fairness.  One usually argues that none of those things sounds fair.  In most cases, that's probably true.  On this side of forever, bad things do happen to good people.  This is a sad reality of the world we live in. 

Honestly, I can't really answer the question of why bad things happen to good people, because I don't truly know the answer.  Sometimes, maybe it's because there are bad people in the world.  People have their own free will to do whatever they please, and sometimes, it is not for good.  Even when somebody seems t oget away with something, I don't think they get away with it for eternity.  I think that they eventually get what is coming to them.  Sometimes we cry out to God and ask how he could be so unfair?  This is often the greatest question when it comes to fairness.  How could God be fair? 

Honestly, I don't fully comprehend this either.  I have seen many things that don't make sense to me.  There are a few things that I do try to keep in mind though.  First off, I try to remember that my standards of fairness may not be the same standards that God would use.  Because, you see, we all have our own standards of what is fair, and if God is God, then I would think that God would have the ultimate, all-knowing standards.  I can't look at true fairness through the lens of my life, I have to look through the lens of God, and that is something that I cannot even begin to truly understand.  Even with that lens, my human eyesight is still too poor.  The other thing I try to keep in mind is that while I believe on the other side of forever that things are perfect, on this side, they are not.  I believe it was menat to be, but that things got screwed up somewhere along the way, and things changed.  But that is a discussion for another blog.

As long as we're on this side of forever, things that don't seem right or fair are going to happen.  The first question is, "Whose standards of fair are you using?"  The real question though, is how are you going to respond?

There is a LOT more that can be said on this issue, and I only just barely touched on it, but I think I'll leave this post for now, and maybe come back to it more later.  But at least maybe it's started you thinking.

Trying to blog again...

Well, I'm going to try my hand at blogging again.  I started to about 9 months ago, using another google account, but found I wasn't keeping up with it.  I think that a small part of my problem was just using the other account.  I already had my main account (this one), an account for photography business related email, and then I added a blogging account.  I think I did that because at the time I was trying to remain somewhat anonymous.  Honestly though, it doesn't bother me that much.  So I'm not going to worry about the 100% complete anonymity thing anymore.  I'll repost what I had in my past blog in this blog for any wishing to see it.  I thought they were pretty good and thoughful posts actually.  I think I'm going to make similar posts in the future, but I'm also going to try to not always be serious.  This may end up being a slightly eclectic blog.  I'll post the occasional portrait or photo that I get, maybe some helpful advice on what I know about photography, maybe a bit I know about the Bible, and also just some of my own perceptions.  Hence the name of this blog...Portraits and Perceptions.  Get it?!  Haha!  Happy blogging!