A World at War

We are living in a world at war.

I’m not talking about politics. I’m talking about spirituality.

This man, this Stephen Paddock, at this time, remains largely a mystery to us. We know nothing of him.

Except what he did last night.

And what he did was pure evil.

Many people will, and I believe already are, asking why God could let something like this happen.

The answer is He doesn’t.

As humans, we have free will. We can follow God, or follow idols. We can live righteous lives, or we can be sinners.

This speaks to something I don’t think we ever really consider.
We look at sin as something that is just… In us. It’s in our hearts, and we’ve been told our hearts are bad, and we just have what we have. “Oh, that’s my Achilles Heel,” we say. Or we say something like, “Well, I need to make a radical change to myself. I need to avoid such and such, and then I’ll stop sinning.” We ask forgiveness, and as believers it’s given, but… Nothing really changes. Nothing ever really changes.

This goes for any sin. From little white lies to truly twisted perversions. And we sit in our study, the pew on Sunday morning, or in our car on the way to work and we wonder… Why doesn’t God make a change? Why doesn’t God just solve all our problems, make us better? Make us more like so and so, who is just the best example of a Christian that we know. “Oh well,” we say. “Unanswered prayers.”

But what if those prayers are not unanswered? What if bad things happened not because God let them, but because there is an Enemy? One who wages war against God, and wages that war here, on earth, in a realm we can’t *usually* see?

Recently, a Bible study group I’m in hit the book of Daniel. I was doing some personal study on the side, and it took a quick detour through Daniel. My personal study hit on Daniel chapter 10, and this is what is found there:

Daniel Chapter 10; 1-14:

In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia, a revelation was given to Daniel (who was called Belteshazzar). Its message was true and it concerned a great war. The understanding of the message came to him in a vision.

At that time I, Daniel, mourned for three weeks. I ate no choice food; no meat or wine touched my lips; and I used no lotions at all until the three weeks were over.

On the twenty-fourth day of the first month, as I was standing on the bank of the great river, the Tigris, I looked up and there before me was a man dressed in linen, with a belt of fine gold from Uphaz around his waist. His body was like topaz, his face like lightning, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze, and his voice like the sound of a multitude.

I, Daniel, was the only one who saw the vision; those who were with me did not see it, but such terror overwhelmed them that they fled and hid themselves. So I was left alone, gazing at this great vision; I had no strength left, my face turned deathly pale and I was helpless. Then I heard him speaking, and as I listened to him, I fell into a deep sleep, my face to the ground.

A hand touched me and set me trembling on my hands and knees. He said, “Daniel, you who are highly esteemed, consider carefully the words I am about to speak to you, and stand up, for I have now been sent to you.” And when he said this to me, I stood up trembling.

Then he continued, “Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia. Now I have come to explain to you what will happen to your people in the future, for the vision concerns a time yet to come.”
(New International Version)

Daniel asks for understanding about a vision that troubles him so deeply, that when he gets no immediate reply, he sort of goes off the deep end. He fasts for three weeks, he doesn’t bathe, change his clothes, nothing. He kind of shuts down a bit, that’s how troubled he was.

Then an angel appears to him, and says, basically, “I’m here with your answer. I’m sorry I’m so late, but I was held back by an enemy. An enemy so powerful, I had to get reinforcements. I had to call Michael down here to handle the enemy, so I could get to you and bring you what you asked for.”

In this “New Testament” world of Christianity we seemingly live in, we forget that there is a little bit more to the Faith than “either you’re saved or you’re not,” and “sin is just something we all deal with. You’re forgiven, so just… Do your best.”

There is so much more than that.

This moment from Daniel is the best example of this I can find on my tired brain. It speaks to something far worse than our parents ever told us about when we were growing up, or anything that most Christians ever consider.

In a realm as real as our own, yet hidden from our sight, a war is raging. It’s a bloody, terrifying war. It’s the war scene from every war movie you’ve ever seen, all rolled into one. It’s a bit of Saving Private Ryan mixed with Hacksaw Ridge; a little Band of Brothers mixed with Iwo Jima and Flags of our Fathers. It’s Helm’s Deep and Minas Tirith under siege; it’s Aragorn and his army standing before the black gate of Mordor. It’s Aslan, the Pevensies and the Narnians against the White Witch and her horde. It’s Hamburger Hill, Pearl Harbor, A Bridge too Far, We Were Soldiers and Memphis Belle, all rolled into one. All happening at all the same time.

When I finally saw that moment in Daniel, reading one of John Eldredge’s books, “Waking the Dead,” I had this mental movie start. Daniel, dressed as a soldier from WW2, sweating, shaking, hunkered in a fox hole, trying to make sense of this battle he’s been told about. And then this other soldier walks up to him, carved from marble, dressed in bright white; a Templar cross on his chest with a radio pack on his back. “Sorry I’m late, Colonel. I got held up by Nazi’s and had to wait for reinforcements. I have a message for you from the General.”

When that mental movie my mind came up with ended, it hit me. “That’s exactly it!”

But we never talk about it, it seems. Never in church, not in Bible study, nowhere it seems. It’s as if we’re afraid to be wrapped up with Joan of Arc and burned alive at a stake in the middle of our towns. Or have people think we’re weird. “Oh, that’s JR. He’s… Well, he thinks differently. I mean, we all like him, but he believes things I don’t really think are Biblical. He just goes too far, you know?”

Oh I know. But believe me, it isn’t too far.

And if you’re still reading this, maybe you don’t think so anymore either.

What happened last night is a tragedy, but it’s far worse than that. Last night, somewhere along the battle lines, the Enemy broke through and won a major victory.

Last count showed 50 people had died, and over 200 injured. I’m afraid the death toll will only go up. I pray that it doesn’t, but I fear that it will.

This goes beyond politics. This goes beyond Conservatives and Liberals, Democrats and Republicans, Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton. This goes beyond America. All of these places, people and parties we hold up so high.

What happened last night goes well past any of it. What happened last night was evil breaking through and claiming a victory.

I’ll go so far as to say this, even. Someone was in that crowd that Satan hated. Someone was on a list. And almost akin to a Terminator movie, I think Satan went after that person; sadly, I fear, Satan got what he wanted last night.

Maybe you’re starting to see it, too. All the hate, the bigotry, the fear and trembling. Across the globe and in our own backyards. We keep trying to blame it on one or two people, but it’s so much worse.

We are in a world at war. And I’m confident in saying that this war is truly the war to end all wars.

So what do we do?

Do we go and protest gun rights? Do we go rally that this man was a bigot, or was mentally ill? Do we keep taking the same paths we’ve been taking and getting nowhere like we have been?

I’ll remind you that to take the same course of action over and over, achieving the same result while expecting a different result, is the very definition of insanity.

Should we go send up “good vibes?” Exactly what do you think “good vibes” are going to accomplish? Good vibes are meaningless. Saying you’re “sending good vibes” is like walking into the war I just told you about with a Nerf sword and a trash can lid shield. It’s a great way to die fast.

No.

“Only one thing’s gonna walk you through this. Belief.”

So let’s believe.

Let’s believe that we live in a world at war. Let’s believe there are issues far greater than the ones the news spoon feeds us.

Let’s believe that there is an Enemy out to get us. And he thinks he’s got us on the ropes. Maybe we are.

But if you’re a Christian, then you have an ally much stronger than the Enemy we face on a day to day basis. If you are a Christian, you have a relationship with the Creator of the Universe. Of you, and me, and every living thing under the stars so plentiful we will never, ever count them all.

We have a relationship with Jesus Christ, Yeshua, the Son of the Living God. Through Him we have a relationship with The God of Abraham, of Isaac, and Jacob. Yahweh. The One. I Am.

The One we KNOW will ultimately win the war we cannot see yet cannot deny.

So you want to know what to do about all this madness that’s around us?

Crack open a Bible. Hit Google to quickly find things in Scripture that interest you. Get on your knees. Pray. Not just a quick prayer before you stuff your face, but pray. Hard. Out load, write it down, I don’t care. Get alone, get quiet, and pray.

Go to church on Sunday. Go back if you haven’t gone in a while. Go if you never have.

No. You won’t find perfection in the people sitting next to you. And I’m no better than anyone else. I have character witnesses to that point.

But you don’t go for other people. You go to church, first and foremost, to have fellowship with God, that He might, through the sermon, teach you a new lesson, or remind you of an old one. Then you seek the fellowship of other Christians. Going to be seen isn’t gonna get you where you need to be.

Where WE, need to be.

The government won’t fix this. More laws won’t fix this. Conservatives, Liberals, forget it. They cannot fix these problems.

But God can. Yeshua, Jesus can.

So don’t waste time with “good vibes.” Pray. Get on your knees in a quiet place and pray. Pray for those that were killed. Pray for those in the hospital. Pray for healing. Pray for our nation. Pray even for the gunman and his family. Remember, they’ve lost someone too. Pray that some good will come from the seemingly endless black. Then start hitting closer to home. Pray for yourself. The problems in your life and what hinders you from a stronger relationship with God. And while prayer is the best thing you can do for your Faith and many of the problems in this world,it’s also not all that is required.

Some of us may need to do something. For some, it’s go and hit the streets. Share the Message of Christ with total strangers. For others, it’s work in your church. Help out, minister, and help maintain your local fortress.

And for others still, the job is just to get closer to God. Or be Godly parents. Be a Godly husband, or wife. A Godly friend.

Go home. Be with your families. Hug them, kiss them. Forgive wrongs. Show Godly love to them, and all you come in contact with. And pray for whatever is on your heart.

Remember, sometimes it may take a while to get an answer. But God will never leave you abandoned.

And whatever you do, don’t follow me past what I’ve told you here. I’m just as clueless and hypocritical as the next Christian. I only know you can trust what I am saying here because it’s true. Don’t look to me for an example.

If you want to help yourself, your neighborhood, this country.

The world.

This is the only way. The line has been drawn here.

“… Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve…”
Joshua 24:15, NIV

Following any other path but the path of Yahweh is a false path.

And if you’re reading this.

You are the Resistance.

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Heavy Jets and Grain Silos

I work at an unusually large airport in Wilmington, Ohio.

I say unusually large because most airports out in the country, like ours is, are small. One runway, maybe two, used for smaller airplanes.

Ours is large.

Like, Boeing 747 visiting us large.

The airpark has gone through some ups and downs over the last 15 years, but we always have jets coming and going, usually for maintenance.

It makes for a strange view. Combines and tractors finding themselves under the shadows of Boeing 717’s, 757’s and 767’s. Grain silos, water towers and vertical stabilizers (tail fins) creating the only “skyline” to be seen.

But it’s actually kind of nice. Where else will you see this?

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That’s a fairly epic morning view.

Go.

Find.

Photograph.

Three Bikes

Dayton has a bike share program called Link. Many cities have them, though I think Dayton was the only city to go with electric green bikes… Not my first choice, but oh well.

I’ve been trying to take a shot of these bikes that I really like, but almost every time I’ve tried, I’ve messed up. Didn’t frame the shot straight, shook the camera, too much in focus, focus was off, and on and on it went.

Until this shot.

I saw three bikes parked in a rack in front of the Montgomery County Courthouse. I settled for a simple dead on shot, and my simplicity rewarded me.

threebikes (1 of 1).jpg

Sometimes you get lucky.

Go.

Find.

Photograph.

A Lone Man

I’m not a people photographer. Not really. I have taken pictures with people in them, but they usually end up being crappy, or personal family memories. So I have never shared them.

I was shooting in downtown Dayton and getting ready to head back to my car a couple of Saturdays ago when an older gentleman walked past me, towards the Stop-n-Save Food store a block away.

When he was past me, I realized I had an opportunity for a nice shot. So I took it.

Here’s what I got.

 

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Nikon FE, Nikkor 35 mm f/2.8, Kodak Portra 400

Go.

Find.

Photograph.

Shooting Film is Timeless

Picking up a roll of developed film from my local shop, I was given a pleasant surprise.

There was a nice elderly lady that had come in to ask some questions about her camera. It was an old Nikon N2020 with a couple of very nice Nikkor zooms. She had been cleaning out her husband’s closet and found the camera, which he had been saying he wanted to find and use again.

Now my local shop has some great people working there. A solid combination of people who know film better than digital, both equally, and digital better than film. Build a relationship with the person who knows your interests the best, and they are a huge wealth of information and ideas.

The schedule had been unkind, though, and today was a digital day. The Nikon N2020, not being one of Nikon’s most well known models, was something of an enigma to most anyone who was looking at it.

Except me. But I’m a geek, and it’s kinda why I’m still single.

She wanted to know if it was a good camera. “Sure. There really isn’t anything it can’t do.”

She wanted to know if the lenses were good. “I have one of these lenses. It’s a constant companion.”

There was a problem, though. I couldn’t make the camera respond to any commands. No autofocus, no viewfinder functionality, no nothing. Opening the battery compartment led me to the reason why. Battery corrosion. Devastatingly huge amounts of battery corrosion. The AA batteries had popped some time ago, and now everything was covered in battery goo.

“Oh. That’s not good, is it?”

I shook my head. “No. I’m afraid not.”

“Can it be fixed?”

I thought about it. The N2020, while not well known, did sell a lot of units. Even if you couldn’t find new parts, it’s more than possible a shop could fix it up. “Sure. It can be fixed. But it won’t be cheap.” I had just paid a fair amount of money to have an older Nikon FE repaired. “It’ll probably be more than a hundred dollars to fix.”

She sighed. “Does anyone even use film anymore?”

I nodded. “A lot of people. Myself included. I love film.” I had my Nikon F4 with me, and I pulled it out of the bag and showed it to her.

“Why do you shoot film?

I thought about it. Why do I shoot film?

Heck, why do I even do photography? It certainly isn’t the cheapest hobby, and for a guy that’s trying to become a pilot and every penny counts, it doesn’t seem to make much sense.

I thought about it, and told her; “Film is timeless. I like the look, and I like the experience. Digital is nice too, I have a DSLR. I use it a lot, too. But film makes me happy. Film lets me… Cheat time, so to speak.”

And it’s true.

I don’t like the “Film v Digital” argument. Use what makes you happy and what delivers your artistic image. I use both mediums, but I like film more.

Film does allow us to cheat time a little bit. And little did I know, I had the proof in the roll I had just picked up.

Roll1_A970791-R1-03-2A

2017? Or 1987?

There is nothing groundbreaking about the above photograph. It’s nice. A little boring, but nice. Colors are good, nothing’s over exposed. Two old houses in an old Ohio town, with a 1980’s Oldsmobile Cutlass sitting outside. Everything is nice.

And yet, it’s not that boring. Because at first glance, you have no idea how old this shot it. I mean, you do, because I’m telling you. If I didn’t tell you though, I could lie to you and say that my grandfather shot this in Northern California on July 16, 1988 with a Canon AE-1 and a roll of Kodak Ektachrome.

But I shot this. In Waynesville, Ohio. With a restored Nikon FE, a 35.. f/2.8 Nikkor, and roll of Portra 400.

This is why I love film. Film truly is timeless.

Even as film gets better. Films like Kodak Ektar 100 and Fuji Velvia 50; films with grain so fine it may as well not even be there, still deliver a slightly vintage tone. A warmth that digital misses.

Digital makes bold images. Even when you force it to look warm, it’s still bold. And that’s great sometimes. Bold, bright, vibrant. I like it.

But for myself, usually, I like softer. Warmer. Give me a vintage 80’s National Geographic look. That’s my favorite. That’s what I try to go for.

So use whatever you want. Use digital. Use film. But go out and shoot.

Oh. And the lady at my camera shop? Oddly enough, she decided to buy her husband a new camera.

Well, sort of.

A college student had come in and traded his first film camera for a different film camera. A Nikon F5 had come in and he wanted it.

His first camera?

A working Nikon N2020.

Go.

Find.

Photograph.

 

The Colony

I’ve photographed this theatre before, but this is different.

The Colony was the theatre in Downtown Hillsboro. Earlier this month, it was torn down. While it was being demolished, I snapped a few pictures. My camera malfunctioned and many of the shots were ruined, but I got this one.

Autosave-File vom d-lab2/3 der AgfaPhoto GmbH