The Blur of Time from Columbus to Veterans Day This Year

I just can’t believe it is almost the middle of November, Veterans Day, or Auburn Arena‘s opening night for the 2011-2012 NCAA Men’s basketball season. It’s really all been a blur since about October 1st, like having frosted lenses in your glasses, but seen through the venue of the calendar, if that makes any sense. Where did October go? Leading up to the beginning of October was so focused on our trip to Uganda, then a few days after I returned from Uganda Deborah got sick, and then ended up having to be in the hospital for a while, where we spent Halloween before she got to go home the next day.

It actually feels pretty good to be here writing on my blog again, which is something of a normalcy issue for me anyway, something I have tried to make a normal part of my week for the past 10 years. It feels strange to me when I go a few weeks without posting, but the gaps mean about as much to me as consistent posts. I have come to learn and appreciate over the last 12 months or so that when someone you know and care about gets sick, friends, family, your spouse, priorities tend to shift around to triage mode. You do the things that need to be done and forget about all the other stuff you normally do that uses up time each day.

Everyone I know is so busy it sometimes seems like if anything out of the expected happens the whole system of time will shut down and collapse, and in some ways, it does. It’s like getting on a transatlantic flight. Time still moves forward even though you are stuck in a small metal tube for 12 hours. Inside that room (or cabin), time stands still while everything around you motors on at light speed, your “normal” is temporarily on hold until you get out of that time warped room. When we took off from Atlanta for our overnight flight into Amsterdam only our world stopped. As soon as we hit the ground in Europe I turned on my phone to find out that Steve Jobs had died while we were in flight. It was only our world in the plane that became timeless for 12 hours.

I have no doubt in my mind that being “busy” is not a biblical mandate. In fact, the opposite is true. Psalm 46.10 instructs us, to be still, and know that I AM God. But how do you balance this with the noise and chaos that is our world today? I still fight hard for margin (being still) every single week but sometimes it just doesn’t work.

Slowly, things return to “normal”, or if not, you create a “new normal” where you can establish some kind routine again. I’m not sure why routine is the goal but routine often times removes uncertainty and change, which seems to be what we all fear the most, but routine also gives us a continuity of motion for each day. I can’t imagine that Paul’s routine in Acts removed a whole lot of uncertainty for him, and fear in itself always feels like a testing of faith to me. Over the past month or so these thoughts have combined in my mind while looking at three different areas of scripture. The words of Matthew in Matthew 6.25-34 on being axioms about tomorrow, (something I think I have been genetically inclined to do from birth), 2 Corinthians 12.9 where Jesus instructs Paul that “my power is made perfect in weakness”, and 2 Timothy 1.7, “for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”

Tonight starts a new normal routine for our house, a “normal” routine for the second week in November that is, the start of Auburn’s basketball season. This is always something that Deborah and I look forward to each year. Not necessarily because it’s an Auburn sporting event, but because it is a few designated hours we get to spend together outside our normal routine, without much noise or distraction… one of those timeless two hour flights with the added bonus of not having to actually be at 40,000 feet. War Eagle!

The Late-Late Edition of Friday Feet

So this is still Friday for another 5 minutes, meaning I just did get this post in before it would be totally irrelevant… well maybe that’s already the case anyway, but after reading my rss feeds tonight I realized I hadn’t finished this post. This week has been so busy, or maybe just off kilter a bit, and this coming week seems to be shaping up to be about the same. I never did seem to get any time to get out and shoot at all. I felt like I spent most of the week in my car driving back and forth between the house, Auburn, Columbus, work, etc, and any photos ended up being either in the car or in the house. It was a draining week to say the least. Finally today around 4pm the troubles of the week felt like they faded into the past after reading 2 Corinthians 12:7 when Jesus said to Paul “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” That was an amazing statement to me. Paul was praying that God would take away the thorn in his side and He basically tells Paul no, but, my power resides in you, and is perfect just the way it is. Not sure why that stuck with me today but it did, and I’m thankful.

One cool thing I accomplished this week was to get some prints ordered (photo #3 in line above) and they arrived today. So what you say. Well this is probably the first time in 20 years I have had 4-6 prints made just to put on my own wall. As a photographer one of the great joys of photography is getting to see the finished product, I just wish I had been getting prints made for the last 20 years, a little at a time, but I just never had the time or the money. This year I was determined not to put off stuff like that and it only took me until July to get them ordered. The frames I bought in June 2009 and have been sitting on my floor, literally collecting dust, since I brought them home. Now all I have to do is get them up on the wall. Hopefully I can get that done before the holidays show up.

Planning for my July Uganda trip is in full swing, we will be leaving one month from tomorrow. I can’t believe it’s only 4 weeks before our team leaves for Africa and there seems to be so much left to do before we leave. I am still trying to raise money for both this trip and the October trip so if you are willing to help fund our mission team please check out the details here or you can just make an online donation here. I really really appreciate all those who have given so far, it really does means a lot to me and to our whole team. Trying to prepare all my photography gear to be hauled halfway across the world is a little overwhelming but it’s coming along. I just about have everything put together at this point minus two lenses. One, a used 20mm prime I should have in the next week or two, hopefully, the other (an older classic from Nikon, their 80-200mm) seems to be a total long shot at this point, but who knows. I am really looking forward to the trip, can’t wait to see God at work through so many people.

I AM Lenten Reader, Introduction :: Lent Day 1

Today is the first day of Lent, and as discussed in my previous post The “I AM” Lenten Reader During This Season of Lent, I will be going through our Lenten Reader here on my blog each day. You can click the image above for the full page as shown in the reader, and if you would like the full pdf download please go to my writing section and download the file from the bottom of the page (we also have them for sale at Cornerstone if you haven’t picked up the paper copy yet).

Today’s reading comes from the 1979 edition of “Ash WednesdayBook of Common Prayer, specifically from the section entitled “Proper Liturgies for Special Days” (not the entire book). The Book of Common Prayer isn’t something that I was all that familiar with growing up, or even now, but this is a liturgical guide for an Ash Wednesday service of prayer and reflection. The text, in part, look like this (full pdf is above):

Almighty and everlasting God, you hate nothing you have made and forgive the sins of all who are penitent: Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of you, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

and the liturgy is concluded by the following prayer

If ashes are to be imposed, the Celebrant says the following prayer

Almighty God, you have created us out of the dust of the earth: Grant that these ashes may be to us a sign of our mortality and penitence, that we may remember that it is only by your gracious gift that we are given everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.

There is of course nothing that says this is THE way to observe Ash Wednesday. Doctorates have been written on the importance or legalistic manner of the liturgy. Today, I welcome words and appreciate their deeper meaning for God’s people.

Scripture Readings

Old Testament Joel 2:1-2, 12-17, or Isaiah 58:1-12 :: Psalm 103
Epistle 2 Corinthians 5:20-212 Corinthians 1-6:10 :: Gospel Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21

A few verses above struck a chord with me as I read through them. Isaiah 58:6-7, all of Psalm 103 is always incredible, and Matthew 6:1-6.

Isaiah 58:6 “Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? 7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?

Contemplation Over Day 1

I love these verse above, especially Psalm 103. Psalm 103 is one of those writings you can find comfort and peace with throughout life, but then they move to Matthew 6:1-6, especially Matthew 6:1.

“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.

This is something I try to guard my heart against every day. Ultimately we as people want to be patted on the back or given the approval by men, and that is something that not only Matthew speaks about here, but Jesus addresses throughout scripture. It is why he called out the Pharisees and others who were more interested in the praise of men than in the Glory of God. The existence of this blog itself is always a battle for me, as it was with my photography, seminary, and a host of other earthly endeavors. I know my purpose and reasons for writing, many are not that deep, but in the end, it is my hope that they will Glorify God, not for the praise of man, and not to become the legalistic “religious” person of our society today.

Social networking was basically born of this purpose and has thrived throughout the world today for the very “look at me” functionality of the technology. There are of course all kinds or fantastic uses for Facebook, Twitter, and all the others, but those too can find their way into our heart to become a narcissistic compulsion. I struggle with this continually, but I also know some of the unbelievable relationships that God has developed for me through (mainly Twitter) social networking. For now, if I were to abandon those healthy relationships for the sake of the technology, I would miss out on many blessings from fellow brothers. I pray my use of these technologies never becomes the answer to Matthew 6:1.

For another look or view at this season don’t forget to check out Lee Cadden and Brian Johnson’s blogs.