A lot of jibber jabber about the problem of refugees on social media. Images however, for those who care to see, start to bring the problem home and make it real. I pray this article and these images perform an angioplasty on the hearts of those who have turned their head away from this tragedy. This is not their problem. This is everyone’s problem.
Photographer Captures Life In A Refugee Camp During Trump’s Travel Ban – Konbini US
This article is easily controversial and many people will have different kinds of problems with it. WARNING: It is not dinner table conversation!
Nevertheless, what I find especially resolving is that this mainstream look at how our brains respond when experiencing God seems to suggest that it doesn’t matter what “belief system” we subscribe to; The neural or stimulative effect is the same. This is an excellent validation that organized religion has little to do with how we are wired to experience our Creator. This would also help explain why prayer is a common form of connection across every major religion.
This Is Your Brain on God – Seeker
Religious experiences activate the brain reward circuits triggered by love, sex, gambling, drugs and music. BY TRACY STAEDTER. 0. Jeffrey Anderson / University of Utah. This Is Your Brain on God – Seeker
We all have our special version of “crazy.” It’s a place most of us dare not go for fear of embarrassment and sometimes even pain. Not the crazy that risks one’s life or jepordizes another. Rather, the kind of crazy that is in all of us and forces us to act outside our typical, predictable, and narrow emotional expression.
God designed each of us with an infinite range of expression. This includes expressions that most people who know us well would never expect from us. And, if they ever witnessed such expression, they might think we were “losing it.”
As the grind and seriousness of life wears us down, we forget that we have deeper potential and need to express ourselves. The pressures of this life tend to harden us to the point where it may be hard to break down in tears. For others, it may seem impossible to laugh hysterically or smile ear-to-ear for an extended period of time. Yet, these are emotional valves that God installed to regulate our inner peace and potential. I pray today you find your version of crazy and go nuts! Maybe capture it in a candid photo and share it over the holidays like Jeff Frandsen and his family.
The Internet Loves This Family’s Real Holiday Photo, It’s ‘What My Family Is Like’ – ABC News
God blessed your past
For good reason
It came first and not last
God blesses His plan
Your future by His hand
Not the one influenced by man
God is blessing this moment
Whether you feel joy or resent
Because God’s gift that keeps giving
Is not just any gift…
It’s THE present
The Purpose Of The Past
For every ounce of happiness in the past, we can certainly find an equal dose of sadness. Maybe more. So the true value of the past, and the reason it is behind us and not ahead, is to remind us of God’s grace and blessing.
The wake of life, like that which trails a boat, has the potential to hypnotize us away from the conscientiousness of the moment. It can have us drifting into one of those “Wish I could have…,” “What if I did…,” and “Why me…” kind of mental games which bind us from fully living in the day. Similarly, it can overwhelm us with the euphoria of what “once was” and set us sailing on the “those were the good times” and “remember when…” excursions which lead us to believe the best already came and went. This cannot be the purpose of the past. The past should liberate us, and more importantly, unleash the potential of the current moment.
The Purpose Of The Future
The future, as we know it, is at best uncertain. This is how I describe it:
We have what we know; I call this our instinct
We have what we think we know; I call this our righteousness
We have what we don’t know; I call this our ignorance
And finally, we have what we don’t even know we don’t know; I call this our future
The result is endless, pointless, wasteful worry. Worry about our children, our health, our things, our jobs, our retirement, our country, our future… It is a no wonder that developed countries have medicated populations struggling with anxiety and the like. This cannot be the purpose of the future. The future should breathe life into us and more importantly, invigorate hope into the current moment.
There are gifts. There are presents. And then there is the ultimate gift which is the present. The moment. In fact, this very moment. It is the present that gives function and form to the past and the future as I illustrated above. Every new moment is a gift from God giving true, practical, and celebratory purpose to its two distant cousins, past and future. It gives us every reason to live, every reason to hope, and every reason to give thanks to God. Every moment of every day. That is my prayer for you.
Congratulations! By clicking this article, you are on your way to conquering the impossible – Your special impossible. The term “impossible” places such a burden on our lives as we grow up being told that more things are impossible than possible and that those things that are possible by someone are simply not possible by us. The reality is the contrary. Each of us has our own possible impossible. However, it requires a self-confidence and more importantly, a strong faith in God who makes all things possible. But how do you put this to work in your life to take on the impossible?
“Each of us has our own possible impossible.”
There are five principles that one must cultivate to pursue the impossible. First, we must surround ourselves with people who encourage us and at least, ignore those around us who seek to bring us down. The great Imangineer, Walt Disney, was told by a former employer that he lacked imagination and creativity. One of the greatest inventors of all time, Thomas Edison was criticized as being to simple-minded to ever accomplish anything of significance. Media mega-mogul, Oprah Winfrey was fired as a local newscaster after being told she was unfit for television. Had any of these people listened to those harsh voices, they would have never achieved what everyone else thought was impossible by them.
Second, know that failure is not an option, it is a requirement. Failure is the mother of invention, truly. You have heard, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.” Well, we must take measured risk to have measurable success. And the more “lean” failures we have, the more we learn and the closer we get to achieving the impossible.
“…failure is not an option, it is a requirement.”
Again, Thomas Edison, who in spite of thousands of significant patents, was most known for his invention of the light bulb. What most people do not know is that it took 1,000 failed attempts at the invention until he got it right. Had he been discouraged at any of the failures between 1 and 1,000, we would not have light, at least not by him.
Third, is the reality of adversity. You might be reading this in the midst of a great loss, an inability to cope, extreme challenges and distress and saying “I can not even see the potential of the day much less do the impossible.” Well, I have great news for you. Adversity can be your friend. The simple fact is that when you have nothing to lose, you have everything to gain.
“Adversity can be your friend.”
JK Rowling, the famed author of the Harry Potter series, was destitute, dependent on welfare while raising a young daughter, and suffering from clinical depression when after five years of perseverance, she became one of the richest women in the world. She credits her trials and troubles as a valuable source for her inspiration. She did fall off the billionaires list because she donates so much of her wealth to people in need. God bless her…
Fourth, when you pursue the impossible, be prepared to experience an emotional juggernaut. Periods as long as weeks and as short as hours will be met with extreme ups and extreme downs. But do not fret. Trust in God. Enjoy and savor the journey. You will overcome and be surprised by your progress as you look back with clarity. Just place your trust in God.
“Trust in God.”
Which brings us to the fifth and most important principle. Believe in yourself… But place all your faith in God. For your impossible is that which God made possible only by you. Blessings…
While in Central Park, I took this photo called “Prayer In the Park.” I could not help but capture the peace of this man in meditation. Maybe he was praying for a greater purpose, the healing of a loved one, or perhaps the world. Regardless, it is an amazing gift that we can connect with God through prayer.
The Thieves Of Hopelessness And Despair
The thieves of hopelessness and despair exist to breakdown gratitude and faith. Hopelessness operates like a well-planned heist. First, it shuts out the lights so we cannot see or find gratitude. All gratitude including gratitude for the moment we are occupying and gratitude for the moments of joy we already experienced, however few or far we may think they are. It wants complete darkness and control. It fills the dark room with obstacles like self-doubt, anxiety, and a preoccupation with everything that has gone wrong in our lives.
The Crown Jewel: Faith
The final stage of the crime is to run off with the crown jewel, Faith. In the confusion and sadness of the darkness, hopelessness convinces us that God doesn’t exist or if He does, He just doesn’t care. Then faith is ripped from the typically guarded protection of our heart and soul and the thief runs off with the goods.
The Real Thing: Hope
Except, the thief was unaware that the faith he stole was counterfeit. Just like the Mona Lisa in the Louvre in France, the real one is often relocated to unknown location. “True” faith cannot be taken from us. God protects and guards it just like His love.
So, when you think your hope has been stolen, remember that hope still remains.
You know me as a photographer, writer, and Founder of photographingGOD. I also want you to know me as a devoted follower of Jesus Christ. Yes – that would make me a Christian. However, I want to live like Christ more than any label could offer. Frankly, religion and labels do more to offend me than not. Probably, because man has used them both for his own divisiveness. The current election in the United States is proof positive of that.
All my life, I have loved all people including atheists, non-believers, Jews, Muslims, Christians, other faiths, Black, White, Brown, Yellow, gays, straights, rich, poor, the wrong, the “so-called” righteous, and everyone in-between. Probably because my own background and DNA span many (if not most) of those categories. However, just over four years ago, Jesus saved my life and in doing so, my love for all of God’s people and creation deepened. This is who the true Jesus was. The ultimate Lover with the ultimate Love Story.
photographingGOD was born to share the beauty of creation; Yes – God’s creation with the world. Void of the pitfalls that religion introduces to a conversation between people who may have different faiths and often even different views within a faith. But I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you that my love for all of you is driven by my love for Jesus and His love for me. My prayer is that you are loved as much as I and if you are not, that I help your journey to it. Blessings…
When we become too committed to what we think is “right or best” for us, we do not open our hearts to what God may have in store for our lives. I call it the studio apartment syndrome. We do not leave any room for God to live and work in our lives. Letting go of our conviction, for at least a moment, may reveal a better plan to be convicted to. Often, such plans, would never have had an opportunity to enter our imagination or consideration.
If we want God to work in our lives, we have to mentally move into a “McMansion” because God takes up that much room and more!
Do you feel like your life is going nowhere? I have great news. Nowhere is always somewhere; It just may not feel like anywhere right at the moment. Yet, life is not just a moment, but a continuum of moments strung together to form a glorious story. Your story. How do I know this is true?
God created you for greatness. You are an amazing creation with amazing ability and potential. Be patient and savor the moments. Be intentional, yet regard your current circumstances as part of a bigger plan. There is a bigger plan. Think back to the many times in the past you felt this way and then suddenly your circumstances changed. You may feel like you are in the middle of nowhere right now but rest assure, you are very much in the middle of somewhere. Blessings…
We possess an amazing God-given power to impact someone’s life with just minutes of our time. Just minutes. Sometimes even less. Your time is valuable. It is valuable to you. It is valuable to someone in need. it Is valuable to God.
VIRAL: Coffee Stand Workers Pray with Woman Who Just Lost Husband | Fox News Insider
Adversity is a Season with a Reason. Adversity shapes us. Molds our character. Makes us dependent and human. Most importantly, adversity brings us closer to our Creator which provides us with supernatural potential to overcome anything. Never forget as you go through seasons of adversity, that with God, all things are possible and your current trials have a blessed place and purpose in your life.
I classify anxiety as an official weapon of mass destruction. It has overwhelmed modern society and very few if any can avoid its wrath. It interferes with our ability to function, relate, share, connect, serve, work, play, imagine, sleep, rest, enjoy, and pray. [Did I forget anything?]
Pharmaceutical companies are printing money on our backs while only providing temporary transient relief and no cure. But what is the answer? The answer lies in finding peace and rest in God. A peace that surpasses all understanding. You see – peace to us usually means that the cause of our anxiety is resolved. But life doesn’t operate like that. Opposing forces are perpetually at work in our lives. No ethnic, racial, economic, or spiritual denomination is safe from anxiety. Simply put, it is NOISE! Noise that interferes with our ability to connect and depend on God. God is the signal. Anxiety is the noise. And the world benefits from keeping the signal to noise ratio low so we do not ever find peace and remain distracted and weak.
When we get a cell phone call that is a bad connection, what do we do? We rarely try to tolerate it. We reconnect the call in hopes for a better connection. When we tune in to a radio station and the sound is distorted, we change the channel. However, when we are experiencing anxiety, instead of reconnecting or changing the channel that is infiltrating our minds, we let it overwhelm our senses.
First, we must recognize that anxiety is tripped by situations where we are fooled to think we are in our control but in reality, are not. Our bodily response then produces extraordinary worry as we cycle through the catastrophic outcomes, most of which take full advantage of our imagination. We become consumed by a threat that either doesn’t necessarily exist or at best, is not within our control anyway.
So the peace we need to seek is one that changes the channel that tells us “we are in control” to a channel that gives us peace in knowing that what is not in our control is definitely in God’s control and part of His plan for us.
We can tame our anxieties in the stillness of God’s peace.
And this is the close to our every day! We really don’t spend enough time acknowledging our blessings or counting the countless miracles in our midst every single moment of every day. But they are abundant. How many miracles did you miss today?
Only occasionally will we take notice to the more obvious of miracles including the sunset, a passing rainbow, or an exhibition of extraordinary talent. But every breath we take and beat of our heart is a miracle. Every time we drive through an intersection, trusting that a person (who we never met) will yield at the red light so we can pass safely through is a miracle. The ability to love someone or an entire people group with the help of technology is a miracle. The power to change or impact a person’s life in so many ways is a miracle. The things we have that we take for granted are miracles. The things we don’t have that would be harmful to us are also miracles.
We really should be walking around most of our day with our heads bowed down.
So here we are at the end of the year. Not just any year. The first New Year for photographingGOD. Though hardly a full new year. We launched on Saturday morning, September 5 at around 8am Eastern Standard Time. We had no agenda. No plan. Not even a vision. But we had God who has led this amazing journey from the beginning. And then we had (and hopefully have) You! God breathed it. We built it. But you came and supported it with your amazing engagement and interest. Over 40 million people from 91 countries of all races, creeds, colors, and faith’s coming together to seek and celebrate the absolutes in this life. Particularly those we can share and agree upon. The common ground. Like the greatness of God, the creator of all things. Sure – there are many differences and debates we can challenge ourselves and each other on this matter. But the truth is that we have more in common than in difference. And yet, diversity is a spice of life (God-given I might add) and should be celebrated. In fact, differences were probably part of His grand design because it keeps us seeking truth and seeking Him. What better way to have our undivided attention! Still, there is what goes on within us. Our own personal journeys. We, at photographingGOD, respect this and always will.
“Most often we didn’t choose our best friends as much as we were thrown together with them in “accidents” of Providence.” -from Auld Lang Syne| Desiring God
The timeless song, Auld Lang Syne is about old friends and the beauty of such relationships – How God has His hand in such encounters. I hope that we too become old friends. photographingGOD may never become everything to everybody – But our prayer is that it becomes something to most. Blessings this New Year. Thank you from the bottom, and the top, of our hearts and everything in between. God Bless…
Auld Lang Syne | Desiring God
“What makes “Auld Lang Syne” so powerful? It has nothing to do with a New Year and everything to do with an old friend.
Old friendship is that sort of treasure. Few gifts in life are as precious as companions with whom we once spent long summer days and talked long into the night; with whom we shared thrilling adventures and disastrous mishaps; with whom we bent over in convulsive laughter and sat silently in tearful loss; in whom we confided the hopes and fears of our youthful years.
Most often we didn’t choose our best friends as much as we were thrown together with them in “accidents” of Providence. Frequently, they happened to move in next door or up the street or in our tenement or began attending our church or had the locker or workstation next to us.” read more at desiringgod.org
God gave us a brilliant mind to think for ourselves and not simply follow a system by default. But that requires time, effort, and most of all, God’s wisdom. Thinking, discovering, and creating are the three worst things to outsource, and doing so is a fatal mistake.
“The Aurora Borealis , or Northern Lights, is one of nature’s most spectacular light displays. Ever changing, they will intrigue anyone who is lucky to catch them night after night.
At no other time of year can we drive through city and country alike and feel the warmth that lights add to our lives. No matter how awesome our light displays are though, nothing can compare with one of the most amazing shows nature has to offer; the Aurora Borealis, or more commonly referred to as the Northern Lights. It is literally a shifting waterfall of colors ranging from green to pink to white and everything in between. read more at grit.com“
This is a phenomenon not to be missed in a lifetime if possible. Most of us will not get to the poles of the earth. However, recent changes in climate and solar patterns have been extending the effect of the Northern Lights where nearly half the earth’s population can get a glimpse (God’s way of moving the stage closer to your seat!). There is a great website hosted by Space Weather where you can go to receive alerts and other information about these events. Hopefully you can catch God’s next show! Blessings…
While so many in the world seek out reasons to divide, hate and war against one another, a group of brave people, from different faiths, yet with similar hearts, are seeking to coexist. Not only peacefully, but cooperatively.
“A mosque, a church and a synagogue go up on the site of an old Jewish country club.
It sounds like the setup to a joke — but it’s not. It’s actually happening in Omaha, Neb. The Tri-Faith Initiative may be the first place in history where these three monotheistic faiths have built together, on purpose, with the intention of working together.
“This is something God wanted us to do a long time ago, and we were completely blinded by doing other things,” says Aryeh Azriel, the rabbi at Temple Israel.”
This story is a testament to the absolute fact that God is sovereign and loves all of His creation. Not just some of us.
We, at photographingGOD, prefer the sound of “All Are Welcome Here” over “Some Are Welcome Here.” And on this day celebrated as the birth of Jesus in the Christian world, I suspect He too would have said, “All Are Welcome Here.”
There isn’t a single phase of this process that just doesn’t drop your jaw to the floor. I can remember all four of my miracles and while all were very different journeys, all equally amazing. From the moment you learn you will be a mother or father; To the preparation for the new arrival; Then comes the day God sends this little spirit down to earth and into your arms… And finally, the blessing of family. “This is the miracle of life!”
Beauty is in the eyes of the Creator; Not the beholder. All the contest participants were winners Sunday night. In fact, we all win when we celebrate beauty through God’s eyes. Steve Harvey didn’t get it wrong. He just didn’t get it at all. It’s not his fault however. I actually adore Steve.
“The host of the Miss Universe pageant, Steve Harvey, made a huge blunder by naming the wrong winner on Sunday night.
Of course, one might wonder if maybe that was the point. Cameras panned to reveal genuine looks of confusion and horror on both women’s faces as they realized what had happened, and what would happen still: One would be forced to give up the title she’d been given and the other would be forced to take it from her. Some members of the audience began to boo — in support of Miss Colombia or in reaction to Harvey’s blunder, or both”. read more at cnn.com
There is nothing wrong with being fascinated by beauty or even showcasing it. It is what God created. However, the consequences for haphazardly elevating some while subordinating others leads to a loss of the true definition of beauty itself. Beauty pageants should, and can be celebrations. Celebrations of cultures, celebrations of youth, celebrations of physical and spiritual diversity, etc. They shouldn’t be thrones with crowns. Not only pitting one individual against another, but even country against country at times. If anything was revealed by Mr. Harvey’s little faux pax Sunday evening, it should be that we are not very good at assigning beauty. Even with a sophisticated voting system. Beauty has already been assigned by it’s Creator – God.