"So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering." (Romans 12:1, MSG)

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Foto Friday - Courage to Lead

This week, I returned to the Bethany Center in Lutz, Florida, for the third of four retreats with my friends and colleagues in the 2015 Courage to Lead cohort. In spite of the fact that my opportunities for photography were more limited than last time because of the Florida summer weather, I was able to get some pretty decent shots.

The wildlife were out in abundance - deer, white ibis, sand hill cranes with their young - but it was always cloudy and they weren't very cooperative anyway. However, this red-tailed hawk was perched in a small pine tree on the lake and he was quite full of himself, incessantly screeching. As you can see, he allowed me to get very close.
The sunset last night was spectacular. These shots are in the sequence in which they were taken with the intention of showing how the sky changed over a half-hour period. In this shot, I set the aperture with the objective of creating a starburst effect as the sun approached the horizon.
As the sun dropped behind these clouds, I zoomed close because I liked the effect.
This is the last shot before the sun set below the horizon.
It always pays to wait for the "God colors" that splash across the sky once the sun sets.
It pays, too, to turn and look behind you because there are great colors and light in the sky opposite the sunset.
Hands down my favorite shot. The colors are indescribable. Notice also how still the water became once the sun was down. The lake mirrored perfectly every color in the sky and the silhouettes of the trees and reeds. In a word, beautiful.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

A Word for the Everyday - "Summer of Shorts - Gifts"

Let's continue with our "Summer of Shorts!" This week's video focuses on the third component of our membership covenant - gifts. Now, when we talk about "gifts" we mean more than giving of our financial resources. For example, we also mean giving of our time and of our talents. Still, giving back to God from what God has given to us (tithing) does have quite a lot to do with our membership in the church. 

I've found that tithing is something that many preachers become hesitant or uncomfortable talking about because of the misconception that "money is all that the church cares about." The truth is that our giving is between us and God. This video rightly points to another way for us to look at tithing: We aren't giving God 10%, rather God has given us 90%. I like that. And I like donuts. Enjoy!

Watch the video.

What do the words "extravagant generosity" mean to you as a follower of Jesus?

Saturday, July 4, 2015

A Word of Prayer - Independence Day

A Prayer for our Nation

Almighty God, ruler of all the peoples of the earth, 
forgive, we pray, our shortcomings as a nation; 
purify our hearts to see and love truth; 
give wisdom to our counselors and steadfastness to our people; 
and bring us at last to the fair city of peace, 
whose foundations are mercy, justice and goodwill, 
and whose builder and maker You are. Amen.

- Woodrow Wilson, 28th President of the United States of America