On Apple's Tribute to Steve Jobs One Year Later

Pulling into the Gate in Amsterdam Airport
Pulling into the Gate in Amsterdam Airport

I remember landing in Amsterdam on October 5, 2011 after being in the air for almost 10 hours. I turned on my iPhone and AP news alerts started pinging my phone as happens when a “world event” takes place. I read through the Fox News, CNN, Sky News alerts and articles, and read through my Twitter and Facebook feeds. As we pulled up to the gate I had already received the text below from Deborah (yes I have all my text messages from years ago), a message received in my hand sitting on a runway in the Netherlands thousands of miles away from Auburn, Alabama.

Text Message From DeborahAs we pulled up to the gate I took the photo above of the Delta flight parked next to our gate, pulled it into my Camera+ app, put a boarder around it and posted it to Instagram. At this point I had already checked my email, responded to a few emails, and looked up our connecting flight information. All from a small piece of metal, glass, and plastic that didn’t exist a few years earlier.

This may sounds like a lot of poetic musings for a phone, but for some reason my mind wasn’t ready for this particular piece of news that morning, and it confused me. I was on my way to Africa, and the only reason I was going to have any personal connection with my wife halfway around the world was because Steve Jobs had decided he was going to invent and create what I was holding in my hand.

Here was a man who shared no convictions with my faith, a brilliant man who had no understanding beyond the pluralistic view of Christianity known for centuries mixed with his version of Buddhism. He just couldn’t go beyond his own understanding and even made this statement to Isaacson:

“The juice goes out of Christianity when it becomes too based on faith rather than on living like Jesus or seeing the world as Jesus saw it,” he told me. “I think different religions are different doors to the same house. Sometimes I think the house exists, and sometimes I don’t.”

Yet I still felt some connection, even if a minor one, with Jobs, sitting on a runway in Europe, as if the plane full of people melted away leaving me and my connection with Jobs sitting in my hand. He shared none of my beliefs, yet he changed the world, my world, and still does on a daily basis. After I got home from Africa I read, back to back, the biography on Steve Jobs and the biography on Dietrich Bonhoeffer by Metaxas. What an amazing contrast of times and cultures, beliefs, and both had the ability to change the world. Ultimately in death, as we all will do some day, either looking to what lies ahead, one perhaps clinging to life here on earth, so did these two great men.

I boarded the plane to Africa, still thinking about Jobs’ fate and wrote this as we took off.

The biggest surprise to me so far [on this trip], was upon landing, finding out that Steve Jobs died. I was truly saddened to hear this. I know we are all temporary to this world, but this man, who for all accounts wasn’t a believer, changed the world. He forever changed the way the world communicates, how we are connected with each other, and the reason I can talk to Deborah from this plane in Europe while she is in Auburn.

He affected so many people through his innovations. How are we to greave his death? I’m saddened over his death as if he was someone I knew personally, and at the same time I really don’t know why either. Death seems so imminent for all of us, especially when you hear about Jobs dying at 59. I know why we die, the fall created this and Christ had to die for us, but it’s still so hard to understand. I didn’t even know Jobs, but I will miss him. The new iPhone announcement yesterday had people wanting to see Jobs at the event, people who never knew, other than God, that he would die the very next day. I pray for his soul.

I’m not even really sure why I write this today other than to acknowledge the gravity this one person had on our world. A person I vastly disagree with on almost all aspects of life, yet he was someone who had a positive impact on so many people.

Jobs once said “simplicity is the ultimate sophistication,” which really became his whole life philosophy, and was carried on today by Tim Cook and Apple with the video on their front page and the letter below. What other for-profit company would take down their entire front page just to show a 2 minute tribute video. Simplicity and sophistication.

Apple's Tribute to Steve Jobs
Apple’s Tribute to Steve Jobs

The Day Evil Became Visible

Photo by Wilfredo Lazaro of the Memorial Lights on 2011
Photo by Wilfredo Lazaro of the Memorial Lights on 2011 with the new World Trade Center building in red, white and blue colors under construction

What does this day mean to you at this point eleven years later? Each year I look back at what Deborah and I were doing on this day in wonder and amazement, remembering details I would never remember on any ordinary day. Every year I look for photos I took on that day of us watching the news hour after hour from Philadelphia, PA where our motorhome was parked, and every year I am amazed that I didn’t take one single photo. Not only did I not take a single photo that day, but I didn’t take another photo until we landed in the Cayman Islands on October 1st a few weeks later. I had been a photographer for almost 10 years at that point, taking thousands upon thousands of photos, and yet on this one day, and for weeks to come all I could do was watch things unfolded on the news. Now, we see photos of two beams of light shooting into the night sky where buildings use to be.

This was the day I presume for many that evil became visible. Even though the fall of man took place long ago, for many of us who often choose to ignore the evil in the world, this day it was impossible to ignore. For me and my friends growing up in the 80’s and 90’s we knew nothing of this type of evil in the world. We were past the great wars of Nazi Germany and Pearl Harbor, and beyond Vietnam. Sure I remember Bush senior sending some planes over to Iraq, but that seemed to be over quickly, and besides, we seemed to have won. We knew nothing of the true existence of pure evil that comes from Satan out of hatred for others.

That reality changed of course on September 11, 2001. Now more than a decade later I can still turn on the news and see the events unfold exactly as they did when I was watching them years ago since networks rerun the coverage over and over again, thinking somehow those who were old enough to remember will have forgotten.

Today we think of pure evil and Satan as being those terrorist who flew planes into our buildings and killed “innocent” people, but we all posses the evil of every sin ever known to man. To Jesus and the Apostles the evil of Satan was much closer than some unknown terrorist, the evil was from not looking to God for everything. Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man” (Matthew 16:23).

I don’t know what this day means for you at this point, for me it is still a day of remembering those who died, and that yes, evil does exist, and it is ever-present, and closer than we would ever care to think, only squelched by turning our hearts to God. If you look closely there are some amazing stories of people who turned to God during those horrific days, and some day I really hope to visit the memorials in Washington and New York.

[An interesting site for research and photos of that day is the 911 digital archive.]

Celebrating the Life of Erin Stephens Today at Cornerstone

This week our church lost a dear friend as the Lord brought home Erin Stephens. Erin touched this church and the Auburn community in so many ways, and this was quite evident by how many people came to say goodbye to her today. It was a privilege for me to be a part of that and I felt quite blessed to be able to share this time with her family. It’s always amazing to be able to celebrate a life lived for Christ, and that’s what we did. Her service was as she requested to her husband and family, a celebration of her life and a time of worship. One of my favorite verses from was read, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die”, from John 11:25 along with a great message of encouragement from Rusty. We also sang How Great Thou Art, I Will Rise, and You’re Beautiful, a great song of worship by Phil wickham from the Cannons album. I love the last verse of that song, which says…

When we arrive at eternity’s shore
Where death is just a memory and tears are no more
We’ll enter in as the wedding bells ring
Your bride will come together and we’ll sing
You’re beautiful

Here are a few photos from today’s worship. It really was beautiful.

Cindy Wall Honored as Auburn Flies Eagle vs Tennessee

eagle flying at the auburn football gameIt seems that every day since Cindy Wall [AU press release] died I have found out more and more about what a great person she was and how much she meant to so many people.  Yesterday there was a beautiful memorial service for Cindy at Cornerstone United Methodist Church in Auburn where many people shared what an impact she had with the Auburn Athletics department and the Auburn students in general. Today during the Auburn vs Tennessee football game, Auburn University has said they are going to fly the traditional pre-game flight of either Nova or Spirit (sorry, don’t know which it is today), one of the eagles in the Auburn Raptor Center, in honor and memory of Cindy.

I don’t actually recall Auburn doing anything like this before but I am sure they have. Either way, it is a great show of how much Cindy meant to so many people at the Auburn Athletics department.  Below is an image from her celebration service at CUMC.  I will be at the game today and will post the images of the game later tonight (hopefully).  Let’s hope the Tigers fare better against Tennessee than they did against LSU last week.

Cindy Wall Memorial Celebration Service

Cindy Wall Honored in Auburn Football Game

[Update] The game yesterday was hot and loud but fun… the pregame did have a special memorial to Cindy Wall and the photo is posted below.  The stadium announcer did say the Auburn University eagle (Nova) was flying in her honor that day, and I took a quick photo of the AUHD sign as Nova flew.

Cindy Wall, Called to be with the Lord Today

Cindy Wall's Baptism

Cindy Wall's Baptism

I am writing this blog post right now because I am not really sure what else to do. Today I got the shocking news that Cindy Wall (of Auburn Alabama) had passed away and is now with our Lord. This is the same person that I wrote about in my last blog post, (called Skype Video Baptism from Innovate08 in South Bend to Auburn) who had blessed all of us so much through her baptism.  [To see the full slideshow of photos from the baptism, click Cindy Wall Skype Baptism gallery.]

This truly had to be God’s will and timing.  Something so hard to explain and so hard to comprehend could be nothing else than God’s raw will expressed through her life, shown as a witness to us all, that there is never a good time to put off God’s work.  At this point it is so hard to process the information and put into words the flood of thoughts that come to mind.

Over the past several months I have written many blog posts (like my mother-in-law Georgia Christal, musician Matthew Butler, and others like Steven Curtis Chapman, Prayers for His Family, Family Testimony, Bronner Burgess Drowns in Pool) about individuals that have come into my life in one form or another and then died, and I am then again reminded that we are NOT in charge of this world, God is.  After the last few posts about Matthew Butler and after hearing from his mother and his widowed wife, I wrote Is it Really Important to Ask God Why Anymore?, and that is a little how I feel right now.  Why bother asking why, it isn’t up to us, no matter how hard we try to make the world conform to our life, instead of us conforming to God’s will for our life.

Thank You Cindy for the Time You Spent With Me

I spoke with Cindy on Sunday morning about the baptism and I told her how much it really meant to the people involved, and me personally.  The conversation we had was something I meant to tell her on Friday after the baptism, but I am so glad I did on Sunday.

Now, her actions to follow Jesus in baptism on Friday was something so huge, so important, that none of us could have possibly comprehended at the time.  Any one person could have said no, could have decided it was to much trouble, our pastor could have said he didn’t have time (after all, he was in another state), and any number of other things could have kept the baptism from happening.  Yet, the people involved, in another state, said yes, we will follow the Lord.

Much of my conversation with Cindy before the baptism was about our preconceived notions of “church” and “a baptism”, and why it doesn’t always have to be like the traditions of history.  Her baptism was to be a party.  She wanted her baptism to be a celebration, which meant, a party.  In the same sentence, she told me she wanted her baptism to be a party, just like her funeral.  Of course when you are talking to a young person, about to be baptized, the second part just flew by my ears without much notice.

She took the time to talk to me, tell me about her experiences, and invite me into one of the most exciting times in her life and to that, all I can say is thank you.

If the Lord is Pressing You to Do Something, Don’t Wait

There is no greater example of a life in submission to the Lord than this.  If He is doing the same to you, don’t wait, our time here is short.  It puts into perspective some of the people I interact with each day, some of the projects I am involved with, and what importance each has in my life.  It does makes me think about the things I did today… what did you do?  I spent several hours working with b/ this morning, and then spent the rest of the day with my wife.  Not every day goes like today, but It was time well spent.

Tonight I felt compelled to spend some time and write something about Cindy’s story and the witness of faith her life now represents.  Tomorrow, when I re-read this, it may not make any sense to me at all, but her life was special to many, and it was to me as well, thanks Cindy.

The Matthew Butler Memorial Fund and Zion Gate Records

Newsong and Matthew Butler

This is an update to a previous post about the tragic murder of Matthew Butler and Stephen Swan in Garland Texas back in June of this year.  If you are unfamiliar with the story please see my previous post Matthew Butler Killed at Zion Gate in Garland Texas about Matthew’s life and his wonderful testimony.  Back in June I came across this story while watching the news and was touched by what happened because, according to the news story and Matthew’s wife Jamie, Matthew was a strong Christian Believer, a musician, and a business owner of Zion Gates Records.  Those thing struck a nerve with me as I am all but a musician, but a big lover of music in general.

The post on my blog grew legs and soon many of Matthew’s friends and family, including Jamie and his mom Theresa had commented on the post.  This morning I received an email from Matthew’s mom, Theresa that I wanted to share with you about his memorial fund for his children.  Normally (I would guess) once a story hits national news you can a huge nation wide outpouring of support for the family, especially when the widow has small children as the Butler’s do, but the news story was so short lived that it never really had a chance to build any steam on a large national scale, so the Butler family held a charity golf tournament, are having a large rummage sale, and have setup a memorial fund at the bank in Texas.

All I wanted to do by this blog post is bring a little attention to their situation and possibly reach someone who might be able and willing to help their family in some way.  Below is the email from Theresa about the Matthew Butler Memorial Fund, I know his wife and kids appreciate any and all help they have and will receive.

The Matthew Butler Memorial Fund

The community support for Jamie and the kids has been amazing.  Matthew is gone from this earth but safe in his heavenly father’s loving arms.  Now, we must help raise up these babies, take care of Jamie and help her to continue the dream that Matthew had when he opened the doors to Zion Gate Records almost three years ago.  Many of you have said, “We will not let this dream that Matthew had turn into a nightmare.  We will not give the enemy that satisfaction!”

The golf tournament raised over $20k for the children.  Friends, family and even total strangers have also donated their money and time to help Jamie get the studio up and running.  A very sweet young lady from Matthew’s high school, Tammie, got together with some of her friends to have a garage sale to benefit Jamie and the kids.  Over the past few weeks, as people heard about it and wanted to donate their items, it’s grown into this huge RUMMAGE SALE which will be held at the Albertson’s parking lot on Lavon Highway in Garland (near 190).  If you would like to help, please bring your items to the sale on Saturday morning, September 20th before 7:00am.

Here is the link with map:  http://www.yellowbot.com/albertsons-food-pharmacy-garland-tx-2.html

There is also a memorial fund at Washington Mutual Bank – Matthew Butler Memorial Fund.  Donations may be made at any location.  Thanks to everyone for their prayers, love and support.  In His Grip, Theresa Butler

Adding a Little More Journal to my Blog by Example

Flowers outside Baylor Hospital

This is the first post in a daily journal I hope to update each day, even if just a little blurb, about the days happenings. This type of posting, more closely resembles a journal, was inspired by the memory of my mother in-law, Georgia Christal. I am creating a blog with the journals she created long before blogs ever existed, I hope I can keep up with her.  During a span of 3 years when she lived over seas in Europe, she wrote daily about what happened each day, and looking at it almost 10 years later, I can see what an amazing piece of work this turned out to be. I will make an attempt to write a daily post in this particular blog (I have several others), of just the normal routine of things.

Some days it may be a sentence, some paragraphs, but my goal is to write something in the blog each day. I have been a photographer for more than 10 years now, and one of the hardest things to do in photography is to actually get off your butt and go shoot something. I think it is the same with blogs or journals, you just have to get off your butt and do it.

When I look back at the images I was able to create because I took the time to go out and shoot, I am amazed, and glad I did make the effort.

Is a Blog a Blog or is it a Journal

All you bloggers out there, do you keep a daily journal, or is that really what you consider your blog to be?  This blog has been active and alive in various forms for years now, and when I look back at the various entries, I see a journal of what was important enough, at the time, to actually put down in a post.  My blog has been many things to me, a scrapbook, a blog, a journal, a business tool, soapbox, but that is just it, it can be whatever you want it to be. Today as I start writing daily entries of what went on in my day I will use it as a journal or diary of sorts, but I am sure down the road, it will grow into something more.  What about your blog?  What is the prime use or purpose you have for even having a blog… do you know or have you even thought about it yet?

In Dallas For No Good Reason

So what is going on right now.  Well the photo below was taken yesterday of my mother-in-law’s memorial service, so we happen to be in Dallas for her service.  One of the hardest weeks Deborah and I have gone through in a while but we are now on our way back home, finally.  I took many photos (on my iphone) that few days while we were in the hospital, mainly because all you have to do is sit and wait.  In the future I think I will do a much longer post about this week, but for now, here are a few images from those few days.

Scott at the hospital, self portrait

Georgia's Memorial Service

The photo in the middle is the most telling to me.  I had nothing in the way of a camera to use for about the week we were in and out of the hospital other than my iphone, and I think it did an incredible job.  In total I probably took a few hundred photos with my phone, many of which tell the days and week better than these, but for a first journal entry, this is what we did yesterday and the few days before.  The idea of a “journal” actually came to me from Georgia.  She kept two journals while they lived in France and Germany which I am chronicling in My Life in Europe.  There will be better entries than this, I promise.