This blog is mostly about images. A photo captures a moment in time and lets us slow down long enough to see the rich texture of the life all around us. It's mostly for my own amusement, but if you stumbled here somehow, please enjoy.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

His Government

For unto us a child is born,
unto us a son is given:
and the government shall be upon his shoulder:
and his name shall be called Wonderful,
The mighty God,
The everlasting Father,
The Prince of Peace.

Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end,
upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it,
and to establish it with judgment
and with justice
from henceforth even for ever.
(Isaiah 9:6-7)

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Where there's smoke?

Our minds are well-designed and well-trained to draw conclusions by what we observe and the "rules" we have learned to apply.  This serves us well in many ways. Yet as we experience life, we come to understand that things are not always what they seem at first.  Or as they appear to us.  Knowledge is not the same as wisdom.  Google provides unlimited knowledge but one must search (no pun intended) diligently for wisdom (Eccl. 7:25).

Knowledge can recite the rules and exactly why the sinner should be stoned.  Wisdom turns the judgment on the judgers and inquires whom among you that is without sin let him cast the first stone.

Knowledge determines the rabbi to be guilty by association.  Wisdom catches His vision that the whole need no physician and that salvation is for those who are able to see themselves as lost.

Knowledge acquired puffs the mind.  Wisdom increases humility.

And, lest we take ourselves too seriously, knowledge is knowing that tomatoes are technically classified as fruit; wisdom is not putting them in a fruit salad!

"So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom." (Psalm 91:12)

Saturday, December 15, 2012

How shall we sing?

See them, who their harps suspending
On the weeping willow tree,
Lacking zeal Thy pardon spurning,
They could not rejoice in Thee.
But we are in Thee confiding,
Freed from Babylon and sin;
Even tho' our life they threaten,
Thou, O Lord, wilt help us win!
--Zion's Harp #214

"How shall we sing the LORD’S song in a strange land? If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning." (Psalm 137:4-5)

What a sad scene it must have been "by the rivers of Babylon"!  Looking back with hopes dashed, the realization of warnings spurned and pardon missed because of disobedience.  No song would come, no mirth from their grieving and regret-filled hearts.  Yet, at end, a resolve to never forget Jerusalem; the city of David, the embodiment of the once and future time when obedience would flourish again,  accompanied with promise fulfilled of the Lord's blessing.

Thou, O Lord, wilt help us win!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Not one cubit!

If I said it once, I said it a dozen times, "which of you with taking thought can add to his stature one cubit?" (Luke 12:25)  But all three of them passed me up with a grin that seemed to indicate they had accomplished something.  Poetic justice has the youngest now the tallest; some satisfaction in that for dad!

Saturday, October 13, 2012


Like the iron pipes driven into the ground to mark property boundaries, these benchmarks (a.k.a. azimuth marks) can be easy to overlook, even if you know where they are supposed to be.  But once found, they mark with certainty the latitude and longitude of their location.  A true "you are here" reference point!

This one is on Deer Mountain in Rocky Mountain National Park and without knowing much about them, I took this photo as we enjoyed a lunch break at the summit.  I was struggling to figure out the arrow which I just knew had to point north.  But which I also knew could not be true unless my map reading skills had completely left me AND the sun had taken to rising somewhere other than in the east.  It turns out that the azimuth arrow's job is to point to a "triangulation station".  And from that you can determine true north (not magnetic north, mind you) in order to orient your surveying project.

Leaves me pondering the "remove not the ancient landmark" and "follow me as I follow Christ" scriptures.  And the "laboring in doctrine" and "searching the scriptures" ones.   I'm thankful for the whole counsel of the Word and a "cloud of witnesses".

Friday, October 5, 2012


This one is for my fellow flying fans. The above cockpit instrument cluster provides the most basic information essential for flight.  It has fewer gauges than a Cessna 172 shot from a similar angle. Any guesses as to "make and model" of the airplane pictured? Note: to the observant there are a couple of indications that make it clear this is not a single-engine four-seater; partial credit for identifying them.

More importantly, do you know the essentials of the gospel?  Paul stated it very simply in I Cor. 15:3-4: 1) Jesus died for our sins according to the scriptures, 2) He was buried, and 3) He rose again the third day according to the scriptures.

So, while there is much we can and should learn from the Bible, we'd do well to adopt Paul's credo: "I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified." (I Cor. 2:2).

Friday, September 28, 2012

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

I've always been a little subject to the angst of pondering whether another route would have been better somehow; faster (my usual concern), less hassle, better sights, something...

As my son (pictured) recently pointed out, Frost concludes his poem "with a sigh", leaving us to think perhaps he had a bit of that same contemplative reflection with a twinge of unresolved wondering, not fully formed as regret, but rather a curiosity born of some impatience.

I think the answer is in Paul's admonition on contentment (Phil. 4:11).

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A Hill to Die On?

We use various phrases to describe positions we take.  Like, 'drew a line in the sand', 'planted a flag', or 'it's not a hill to die on'.  Most of us never get anywhere close to actually dying on a hill.  But we can often be very passionate about the various causes we take up.  Most of the time I've heard these kinds of exclamations, it's been for issues that aren't all that important in the grand scheme of things.

But every now and then along comes a situation that sends us to the core of our being and requires a firm declaration of where we'll stand.  Like Joshua of old, we are asked to "choose you this day" (Joshua 24:15).  And it's usually best if we've ironed out our convictions in advance of the challenge.  Either way, we must shut out the "madding crowd" and seek God's face.  His Spirit will never lead outside the whole counsel of His Word.

Is the choice you are making today really a hill to die on?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Big Rocks

Someone I work with often asks, "What are the big rocks?".  Meaning, what should we be focusing on right now?  It's a reasonable question since, by definition, you can't focus on everything.  And it's important to prioritize.

But beneath the surface, there are often submerged and hidden issues that may need a little extra time and discernment to discover and navigate around.  I was told recently that our Midwest drought has lowered a reservoir to the point where an old barn--flooded over long ago when the dam was built--has become a hazard to navigation.

How do we navigate these turbulent and confusing times?  God's Word speaks in every time and place:

"For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints." (1Co 14:3)

"Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." (John 14:27)

"Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men." (1Co 14:20)

"Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counselors there is safety." (Pr 11:14)

"Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them." (Mt 7:20)


Friday, August 17, 2012

Amazing Grace

I pray the glory of God and the startling nature of His mercy and grace is never far from my mind. 

An interesting blog post informed me that my favorite verse, the seventh, was actually not penned by John Newton. I agree that it was a fitting conclusion to this beautiful hymn, don't you?

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found;
Was blind, but now I see.

’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed!

Through many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come;
’Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.

The Lord has promised good to me,
His Word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endures.

Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess, within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
The sun forbear to shine;
But God, who called me here below,
Will be forever mine.

When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we’d first begun.
--John Newton, 1779.

Friday, August 3, 2012


"Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:" (I Pet. 5:8) 

A foreign sound.  The head goes up.  Watching.  Discerning.  Friend or foe?  

Imagination?  Unwarranted Fear?  Out of control panic?  Shouting unneeded warnings?  Stirring up others? 

Pause and remember, "Perfect love casts out fear."  (I John 4:18).  Soberness., vigilance, discernment.  "By their fruits ye shall know them." (Matt. 7:20).  Often over time.

The Holy Spirit will never work through actions that violate God's Word.  Satan is not thus bound.  His wolf fur will eventually show under the sheep's clothing.  His biting and devouring will make itself known. 

"Be still and know that I am God." (Ps. 46:10). 

"My sheep hear my voice." (John 10:27) 

"I am with you always." (Matt. 28:20)

Monday, July 30, 2012


"I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord." 
(Ps. 122:1) 

This reflex shot from the church bus in Magdalena, Mexico serendipitously captured the best portrayal of this verse that I've seen.  I'll let you ask yourself the obvious question.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Confirmation Bias

I find that reading about a particular subject can shine light on a completely unrelated area of life.  Not long ago, I enjoyed an article in an aviation magazine that assessed the factors involved when pilots make really stupid (in hindsight) decisions, often in the face of information that makes the choices made seem ridiculous, especially in light of the tragic outcomes that follow.

See if you can find any application for these human factors revealed in research and aviation experience:
  • We tend to "seek out and trust information that confirms what we already think or believe or want to believe, and avoid or discount information that goes against what we believe or want to believe."
  • We "are more likely to notice information that we agree with or consider positive rather than focusing in on information that is contrary to our beliefs or goals."
  • We "will ask questions so that an affirmative answer supports what (we) want to do."
  • We "tend to give a lot more weight to the information that we receive early in a communication over information that is received later."
  • The costs of proceeding in our desired course, in the face of more careful alternatives, are often unknown while the costs of not pressing on are often more certain.
I'm pretty sure we are all subject to this form of blindness. As the author says, the first line of defense is being aware of that.  Then we had better work to help our brain jump out of its rut and consider information that just might save us from a world of hurt.  Having people around us we can trust to tell us what we need to hear, not just what we want to hear is an important part of doing this.

Prov. 11:14.

(Quotes taken from "Looking for Confirmation" by Jay Hopkins, Flying, April 2012 pp. 26-28.)

Saturday, July 7, 2012


Otherwise known as Altocumulus lenticularis, or a cloud shaped like a lens.  And it made for a beautiful backdrop as we headed to the trail head for Mt. Chapin in Rocky Mountain National Park.

My kids once gave me a sweatshirt with the message, "As a matter of fact, my head is in the clouds." Guilty as charged.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

How Great

When through the woods, and forest glades I wander
And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees
When I look down from lofty mountain grandeur
And hear the brook and feel the gentle breeze

Then sings my soul my Savior God to Thee
How great Thou art...

How great, indeed.

"How Great Thou Art" -- by Stuart K. Hine

Friday, June 22, 2012

Seeing is believing?

If you think so, you clearly aren't familiar with Photoshop! But this post isn't about altered images. It's about our senses, our view of things, our perspective.  What references would you use to decide which direction is "up" in this image?  The trees?  They always grow straight up, don't they?  The ground?  It's usually level; at least in the Midwest.  The clouds?  Pilots know they come in all kinds of sloping patterns and that using them as an "artificial horizon" can be deadly.

Or maybe you know me and know that I try to hold the camera very level, that I'm not one of those photographers who loves a quirky camera angle.  The more you trust or agree with me, the more you might be inclined to believe that what I say is "up", really is "up".

Paul was very clear to say, "Follow me as I follow Christ" (I Cor. 11:1).  Be sure your reference point is on solid ground, always true. And then check it often.  Like pilot (or even hiker) vertigo, you'll be surprised how soon your senses will fail.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Greg & Diana 6.3.12

"Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the Lord." (Prov. 18:22). 

We're just marveling at the goodness of God to give our son a wonderful new bride who loves him and has faith to believe that God has drawn them together.  All glory to God!

Monday, May 28, 2012


A stroll among the fallen never fails to evoke reflection.  Upon life's brevity, and a recent bible lesson that reminded us to "zoom out" and take the larger perspective on life's little interruptions.  Like a longer-than-expected wait in the supermarket line.  What does God want me to do with this unexpected time in light of eternity?

Or upon sacrifice.  As in "from these honored dead we take increased devotion..." Like on this Memorial Day where we ponder the price of life, liberty, and (what did they really mean by) the pursuit of happiness.

And upon that inescapable reality that we'll all be here someday.  Again we must ask, how will we wish to have lived when this small plot is our home address...for a time...

Until that day...when, just think if all those cross marked graves contained the redeemed from the ages!  What a traffic jam in the sky that trumpet would usher in!  What a day that will be.

Monday, May 14, 2012


"Endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ." (2 Tim 2:3)

I guess the impression is that we might not always be treated fairly. Might not get the credit we feel we deserve. Might be misunderstood by those we thought would understand.  Just might have to endure quite a bit in this battle.  Just might be very discouraged....until we remember..."the battle is the Lord's" and we don't rely on sword and spear (I Sam. 17:47)...or the other inventions of men.  Or their methods.

We can trust the "captain of our salvation".

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Union II

There are a lot of reasons that we'd want to honor our 16th President. He was very wise.  He freed the slaves. He was from Illinois. :)

Truth is, however, the size and scope of his memorial on the National Mall is due to one thing.  He kept the union together.  I pondered that awhile back (here) after visiting Springfield and it's on my mind again after being in DC and also because I'm thinking of the difficulty we seem to have in churches sometimes.  Where so much more is at stake.

Jesus made at least two statements that define how the world would see Christians when our light is shining as it should.  The first is known as the New Commandment--to love one another as He loved us.  He said the world would see that and know we are His (John 13:34-35).  I just have to believe that a noticeable (by the world) love is one that will stay together through thick and thin, working out our difficulties, loving each other even, and especially, when it's hard.

The second is when Jesus prayed for us in John 17.  Seems we are to be "one" as He and the Father are one (v. 21).  And, again, the world will take note...and believe.  Yes, a lot's at stake.  Maybe even especially the hearts of those who don't yet believe.  They are watching.

Thursday, April 5, 2012


In pondering the sights we saw in and around this famous church in Rome, a friend noted that it seems rather far from "the simplicity that is in Christ" (II Cor. 11:3).  It seems we have a tendency to add embellishments and adornments to the gospel.

As one who enjoys and works with church architecture, I can appreciate the art and creativity in a variety of expressions.  But I'm often taken back to the admonition in Isaiah 66:

"Thus saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest? For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word."

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Cut and Paste

I've been to DC often but it wasn't until we visited Rome last fall that I could appreciate the extent to which certain architecture had been "borrowed".  In the case of the National Gallery of Art, you might say "cut and pasted".  All the way down to the lower ceiling height on the front porch which we were told in Rome was due to a column fabrication error.

We feel a certain safety in building on what's already been done and there can be great wisdom in that.  But I wonder if the degree to which Microsoft has made the cut (or copy) and paste function so easy hasn't also shut down our ability to question whether those patterns can really be "pasted" into the current situation without thought.

"The children of Issachar....had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do." (I Chr 12:32)

Saturday, March 24, 2012


If this was the only impression you'd ever had of these familiar landmarks, what do you suppose your opinion would be about their proximity to each other?  Would you affirm strenuously that they were close neighbors?  Perhaps argue forcefully if someone suggested a two-mile distance between their extremes?
Often a simple change of perspective, perhaps offered by another whose view of the same thing is from a little different angle than ours, can fill out detail that we never imagined.  We should probably ask for that kind of help more often than we do.  Or at least temper our responses to each other against the very real possibility that our vision just might be limited.
"In the multitude of counsellors there is safety." (Prov. 11:14)

Thursday, March 15, 2012


I guess it's no secret that I love visiting our nation's capital.  This past weekend we had the opportunity to take our turn there for minister rotation at our DC church.  We had heard that the mild winter might have moved up the cherry blossom schedule but that didn't quite pan out.  The magnolias were a pretty good stand-in, don't you think?

Saturday, March 3, 2012

In the Shadow

"Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." (Matt. 5:16)

In my simple thinking, it seems fairly straight forward.  We are saved by grace through faith, not of works because we would boast.  Getting "works" ahead of faith has troubled many a soul in meaningless religion, spiritual pride, anxious striving, depression, and fearfulness.

Yet shouting "legalism" anytime mention is made of sanctified living and good works is as grievous an error in my view -- the strident language itself seems to take on a "legalistic" tone as angry exchanges about theological purity and smug certainty pollute the very cause they espouse.

Paul simply asks, shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?  I love how this flower just blooms for its Makers glory in the shadow of the Cross.  Can there be any other response than fruitfulness to the great and complete sacrifice made there for you and me?

(Image taken in Itea, Greece -- Oct. 2011)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Think Spring II

It's coming!  This year we could hardly complain about winter.  Yet the anticipation of springtime is tangible as we experience more and more warm and sunny days.

"While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease." (Gen. 8:22)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

On the Wheel

"Then I went down to the potter's house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels. And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it."
(Jer. 18:3-4)

This particular wheel has seen many beautiful works, wrought by a good friend of mine.  But I was struck in reviewing this image by how the light illuminated the empty wheel; evoking a seemingly wistful longing for the clay. A longing for the work to spin.  So that even if the potter should need to mar the work and start over it might be formed into a good vessel.

Are you on the wheel?  Am I?

Friday, February 10, 2012


You stand outside the Roman Coliseum and imagine the crowds jostling to get inside.  Inside you gaze at the playing field, mostly gone now, trying to imagine the gladiators, the spectators...the lions.  No doubt they cheered, they shouted, some gloried in the outcome, some were let down, some were horrified, some came just to be with those who were interested, or because it was the thing to do, and so on...

This past Sunday over a third of all Americans sat down and watched a game "together".  They cheered, they shouted...

You tell me; any difference?

(Yes, I know, no one gets killed...usually.)

Sunday, February 5, 2012

When I Look Down

No, this was not from "lofty mountain's grandeur" but it was from one of my favorite perches.  From where it's a little easier to imagine God's view of this earth.  Filled not with "huddled masses" but with individual people, each known by their Creator.  Each pinpoint of light a dwelling with people, families, places; none trivial.  None expendable.  Shining so bright even the clouds are illuminated from beneath.

"For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him."
(II Chr. 16:9)

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Use Your Head

I've pondered what title to use for this shot of the Erechtheion porch atop the Acropolis and all I could ever come up with is the one shown.  For some reason which I won't try to remember, these women (the Caryatids) are holding up the canopy with their heads.  Quite the engineering feat, actually, to render such a detailed and beautiful yet structurally sound support.

Thinking of using one's head brings to mind the old "Ready-Aim-Fire" sequence.  It seems a lack of thought often leads to "Fire-Ready-Aim" or at best "Ready-Fire-Aim".  On the other hand, over-thinking or analysis-paralysis ends up being "Ready-Aim-Aim-Aim..." Some good extremes to avoid, I think.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


She's very interested in what he's interested in, don't you think?  I pray this will continue for this dear couple and am reminded of how important it is to give attention to each other. Real attention.  Listening with intent attention.

I'm not crazy about the fuzziness of this image; it was taken without flash in low light (so as not to distract my subjects!).  But on further reflection, maybe it lends an effect that supports the thought.  What do you think?

Friday, January 20, 2012

A Lesser Light

"And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also." (Gen. 1:16)

Back to a favorite subject.  This one captured off the coast of Cephalonia, Greece as we steamed westward towards Rome.  It was fun to imagine the same moon being seen by our family stateside several hours later.

The "lesser light" can only reflect that of the greater and yet when it turns its full face to the Source, how great the glory!  And how apparent the path that it illuminates across the water.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Following the Mob

Try to imagine this entire theatre filled to its 24,000 person capacity, everyone shouting "Great is Diana of the Ephesians!" over and over again for two full hours.  The roar must have been deafening. And most of them didn't even know why they had gathered together. (Acts 19)

Turns out some silversmiths were pretty concerned that this new Christianity thing might really catch on.  Not that they were that worried about their business or anything.  Really, mostly just concerned that the "great goddess" (Artemis) might be offended and her magnificence destroyed throughout Asia. So they stirred up the people.  Even before talk radio. Or presidential campaigns.

We probably can't do too much about those who will always try to stir up the crowd and demagogue the issues.  But we can stop and make sure we aren't running headlong behind them, not knowing why we're even there.  To the contrary, just across the Aegean Sea, the Bereans were called noble because they searched the scriptures to see if what they were hearing was sound. (Acts 17:10-11)

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


We're all familiar with the "Objects in the Mirror may be closer than they Appear" warnings.  A picture can also be quite deceiving if there is nothing in the image to help us with the scale.  The mammoth Coliseum, its ruins actually a shadow of the original grandeur, presents such a challenge.  If you look closely, you can see the people; and thus the scale.

How often in life do we react (over-react?) to something when we lose our sense of proportionality.  Fear can grip and our minds extrapolate to the "worst case" or "nth degree".  Maybe that's part of why I enjoy flying so much -- the perspective from even a few thousand feet above the ground affords just a small reprieve from the sometimes overwhelming nature of everyday life.

Yet most important is to trust God, whose infinite power and love dwarfs all fear and despair.

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." (Isaiah 55:8-9)

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Lower Lights II

This shot returns me to a favorite thought, captured best in the hymn, "Let the Lower Lights Be Burning" and featured originally here.

I love a good lighthouse.  They come in all shapes and sizes and are often quite photogenic (more will appear here when I have a chance to travel with my digital camera to a suitable spot!).  But it's their purpose that is so interesting.  Silent sentinels warning sailors about the rocky shore lest they should become shipwrecked so near their destination.  Some people stand strong in our lives, their lights radiating in a way that just inspire us to live circumspectly.

But it's often the less noticeable examples that seem most noble to me.  This little guy isn't all that grand.  But our giant ship would have come to grief even on the tiny spit of land it marks had we sharpened our turn towards the port of Argostoli on Cephalonia, Greece.