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Welcome to 2013!

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Posted by on January 1, 2013 in Miscellaneous

 

The Root of Evil

You think taking guns away from people will solve violence? Think again.

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I would add “Love of money” and “Man’s sin nature” to this cartoon. 

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked… Jeremiah 17:9″

 
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Posted by on December 27, 2012 in Life, Miscellaneous

 

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The Split Second Photograph – How to capture lightning

Alright, it’s time for a tutorial on one of my favorite things to photograph! Lightning. Many people (even physics professors) think that it’s impossible, but it’s actually not that difficult. With enough patience and the right equipment, any one can do it.

You’re going to need:

  • Camera with a manually settable shutter speed, and manual focus.
  • Tripod
  • Wired/wireless shutter release (optional)

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How it’s done: 

You’ll have to wait till it’s reasonably dark outside before this will work. You can take lightning photos in the day, but you have to buy some expensive equipment. (You can create a “darker” sky by using Neutral Density filters.)

Put your camera in Manual mode. Set the aperture to somewhere around f/9, and the ISO to anywhere from 100-400, depending on how dark the sky is. The lighter the sky, the low you want your ISO to be. If possible, set your shutter speed to Bulb. If your camera doesn’t have that option, set it to the longest shutter speed possible, (Probably something like 15 or 30 sec.)

Mount your camera on a tripod and point it in a direction, where the lightning strikes are reasonably consistent. Be sure that you’re in a safe location! (Shooting through clean windows, or on a covered porch works well.) Set the focus to manual, and focus on the horizon, or wherever the lighting is striking. If there’s nothing to focus on, set it to a little bit less than infinity.

Now you’re ready to shoot. If you have a remote trigger, use it. Otherwise set the shutter drive mode to a 2 second delay. Leave the shutter open for as long as possible, or if your using Bulb, leave it open until you get a strike (unless the strike is more than about 2 minutes in coming).

Now just be patient, and keep taking pictures till you get what you want. The above photo was shot late at night out of my bedroom window. I hadn’t taken anything good all evening, and I was about to call quits, when that triple strike happened along. :-)

How it works: 

Instead of taking a picture the moment a strike happens, you let the strike take the picture. That’s why it’s got to be dark. When you open up your shutter, only minimal light hits the sensor. When the strike happens, it throws it’s light on your sensor, and the picture is made. As long as the camera is sitting still on a tripod, there should be no motion blur. Just an awesome photo.

Have fun, and don’t let the weather destroy you or your camera.

 
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Posted by on December 21, 2012 in Photography

 

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Superior Advertising

The day in which we live, is a day filled with advertisements. You wake up in the morning to the ringing of the phone. It’s John from “End All Your Cares Corporation. Are you interested?” After politely telling him “thank you very much”, you hang up and grab the cereal box. It’s covered with ads. You check your email, and surf the web, half the page is covered with those bright little things that promise paradise, or at least luxury. While driving to work you notice that the roadsides are plastered in bill boards. What’s going on? Companies, individuals, and organizations are eager for your approval. They wish you to view them in a positive way. So much so, that you buy in to what they have to offer.  Now what I want to do today is take a look at a similar, yet far more important advertising campaign. It’s the quest to fulfill Christ’s command to “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” (KJV Matthew 5:16) Perhaps inadvertently, I believe the modern church misses the mark when attempting to be God’s representative. In light of this, the question is, how should we seek to “advertise” God, in order to glorify his name?

Like any other employee working in public relations, the obvious first step is to determine the attributes, and wishes of our employer, or in other words, what he wants us to advertise. Love, forgiveness, and grace, all come to mind when thinking of the One we are to represent. These are indeed very important. However, God’s most important attribute which lay’s a foundation for all the others, is Holiness. Isaiah the prophet relates that he saw the LORD sitting on a throne surrounded by seraphim crying “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of Hosts.” (KJV Isaiah 6:1-3)  Asked by his disciples what they should pray, Jesus answered “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.” (KJV Matthew 6:9)  He is undoubtedly a Holy God, but what exactly does that imply? In the Bible we often see comparisons between what is holy, and what is profane, or put more simply, common. When God gave the Israelites the law, He said “Be ye Holy, for I am Holy.” (KJV Leviticus 1:44)  By following the rules, their corrupted blood wasn’t made pure, but what they did achieve was distinction, between them –God’s people-, and the rest of the world. You see, holiness is simply, the state of being set apart, from what is ordinary, or unholy. As to the wishes of our employer, I believe He has commissioned us to make Him “look good” by declaring His holiness to others.

Again, the question is “How?” The choices I believe can be easily summarized in three types of painters; The Defacer, the Mimic, and the Artist.

Now a defacer is someone who will take a good picture, and whether by accident, lack of respect, or blatant purposefulness, diminish its beauty. They’re kind of like Otto. Otto Koning was a missionary to Dutch New Guinea, and as he relates in his book, “The Pineapple Story”, was particularly fond of Pineapples; perhaps a bit too fond. It wasn’t long before he had a shipment of the plants, growing in a large garden behind his home. Three years passed. Finally the pineapple season arrived, and when it did, the natives stole every single pineapple!  Otto, like every other good “human” got pretty upset. He shut down the clinic, and bought a German Shepherd to keep the people away. As a result, their babies died, and the people with pneumonia couldn’t get help. (Institute in Basic Youth Conflicts pg. all)   So there he was. Instead of portraying a good image of the God he served to the natives, Otto had defaced it, by chasing them away for the sake of pineapples. Similar actions are taking place on a larger scale in today’s church. Christians are progressively blurring the bright line between what is Holy, and what is ordinary. The result? Several years ago, Time Magazine published an article entitled “Christianity’s Image Problem”. They held that Christianity used to be “Both big and beloved” (www.time.com), however times have changed. The article cited a Barna poll, which discovered some alarming facts. 38% of Americans, view Christianity in an unfavorable way. Most detrimental however is that nearly 9 out of 10 outsiders polled, view Christians as hypocritical and judgmental. (www.time.com).  We’ve become today like the Israelites of old, of whom it was said through the prophet Ezekiel, “They profaned My holy name, because it was said of them, ‘These are the people of the LORD…”(NASB Ezekiel 36:20)  Jesus warned against putting our light under a basket, yet that’s exactly what we’ve done, and the only thing the world now sees, is our humanity. (KJV Matthew 5:15) As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words, therefore regardless of our message, it’s that image that matters.

Attempting to solve this problem, many Christians fall under the category of the second Painter, known as the mimic, one who copies varies styles other than their own to appeal to a larger base. As Christians, it is our duty to witness to the lost, and many believe that mimicking the world at least to a certain extent will make Christianity appealing to a variety of groups.  In fact, the apostle Paul seemed to advocate this when he said “To the Jews I became a Jew… to the weak, I became weak… To those not having the law I became like one not having the law…” (NIV I Corinthians 9:20-22) Now Paul was right about what he said. Cultural adjustments are important, sure, but not when they conflict with God’s holiness. As the church copies the world more, it becomes mingled with the unholy practices of a secular society, causing God to look commonplace. The ordinary is canceling out the extraordinary. You cannot fail to advertise a company’s chief advantages and expect to win. No effective advertisement says “Buy from us because we’re the same as our competitors.” To promote God’s name you can’t be a mimic.

Rather, we must be genuine, all the way through, which leads us to the third and final Painter, known as  the artist, who like an expert company representative, seeks above anything else, to make his master look good. He belongs to the people of which Peter speaks in his very first book saying, “you are… an holy nation, a peculiar people; that you should show forth the praises of him…” (American KJV I Peter 2:9) Their commission, he continues, is to “abstain from fleshly lusts…having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God…” (American KJV I Peter 2:12) Otto Koning the pineapple guy eventually realized that what he was doing, spoke incorrectly of God, and changed his occupation, from a defacer, to an artist. The people continued to steal his pineapples, but it wasn’t long before they noticed he no longer got angry. One day they confronted him with this interesting, and rather unexpected statement. “You have become a Christian haven’t you?” (Institute in Basic Youth Conflicts 24) All those years, Otto had failed to practice what he preached. When he changed, God’s name was glorified and many of the people around him became Christians. (Institute in Basic Youth Conflicts pg. all) You see, as Walter Bagehot pointed out “An ambassador is not simply an agent; he is also a spectacle.” (www.brainyquote.com)The world is watching us, as if we were an advertisement for our King. If they see ordinary, they have no desire to buy in, but if they see the extraordinary, well it’s a completely different story. To be an expert artist, we must put aside anything that conflicts with portraying God’s holiness.

Yes, we live in a world filled with advertisements, but the important thing is, as followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, we are a part of the daily ads. In the words of Bible scholar Dwight Pryor, “We’re already are witnesses, but whether we’re a good one or a bad one, that’s up to us.” (Pryor) Today, we’ve taken into consideration three types of painters, to effectively portray God; the Defacer, the Mimic, and the Artist. Now it’s up to us to determine which one we will be. Defacing God’s image is clearly out of the question. Mimicking the world for the sake of Christ seems plausible, yet we cannot let our changing culture redefine who we are, and how we act. The challenge I want you to take home today, is the challenge of being a true Artist for our God. Someone who unlike the former Otto Koening, seeks to emulate Christ with their actions; Someone who instead of mingling with the crowd, stands out from the crowd; Someone one, who so effectively paints the picture of God, that people take a look and say, “Wow! What an awesome God!” The key to this challenge is simple. Be different. In other words, don’t be ordinary, be extraordinary. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus declared “You are the salt of the earth.” (American KJV Matthew 5:13)It is our duty to make sure that salt does not lose its savor to the flavor of the ordinary.

Therefore, make it a point every day, whether at work, home, or at church, with family, or friends, to advertise God, through your words, actions, and attitudes; for it is then, and only then, that “your light will so shine before men, and they will see your good works, and glorify our Father in Heaven.” (KJV Matthew 5:16)

 
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Posted by on December 19, 2012 in Life

 

When trash sings…

These people truly amaze and inspire me! They refuse to let their circumstances control them. Instead, they make the best of what they have, achieve what many would deem possible, and reap the joys of doing so.

 
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Posted by on December 15, 2012 in Inspirational, Life

 

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The man who changed America

It does not shock me that Barack Obama was reelected. It does not shock me that states are legalizing homosexual marriage. It does not shock me that America is rapidly moving from capitalism to socialism. Why? Well take a look at the education the vast majority of Americans receive, and you shouldn’t be shocked either. That’s why during this legislative session, I’ll be helping the Texas Home School Coalition fight for the right to home school, and that’s why I wrote this following speech last year as a Biographical Narrative for NCFCA.

How do you communize the richest, most capitalistic nation in the world? How do you communize such a country?” I’m sure at one time or another we’ve all asked ourselves this question, we’ve all wondered how the a country like the United States of America could reach its current stage. Well my friends, the answer to this question originally asked by Dr. Samuel Blumenfeld, goes way back to a sleepy little welsh village, from which in 1771 a man by the name of Robert Owen, was born. Few know the truth about this man. Most have never even heard of him. But in the words of an organization by the name of American Atheists, “He could well be the greatest, but least-known, social redeemer in the world.” Our goal today, is to trace the life of Robert Owen and by doing so, hopefully answer that question posed by Dr. Bloomenfeld.

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Robert grew up working hard. At the age of nine, he was already earning his own living by working for a grocer, and haberdasher. During this time of his life, he began in depth to think about religion. As he listened to the minister of one congregation declare why they were right, and others were wrong, he came to the conclusion that “our opinions are made for us, not by us.” Not wanting to be forced into believing anything other than what he wished, Robert rebelled against “Religion.” As an atheist, Owen rejected the belief that man is inherently sinful. Instead, he accounted for the world’s evil through ignorance, poverty, and social injustice. His idea of salvation was his new science called the science of human circumstance, which taught that a person’s character is determined by his surroundings, and therefore, through proper education, you could transform the human character. Owen was such an ardent believer in this new science, that he called it the Second coming of the truth. In fact, Gareth Jones a professor from Cambridge University pointed out that, Owen “really did believe he was the second Messiah that unlike Jesus who could only tell the truth in parables, he could actually say the literal truth because he had the science.” As his aspirations continued to grow, these views began to manifest themselves.

In 1799, Owen purchased four textile factories in New Lanark England. The conditions of his workers were terrible. 500 orphans had been sent there, the streets were sewers, and the homes were shacks. Robert set out to reform it. Chief among his solutions was the goal of educating the children. This was because as John Simkin observed; “Owen was convinced that if he created the right environment, he could produce rational, good and humane people.” In 1816, Owen opened the first preschool, in Britan. It was proudly labeled the “Institute for the Formation of Character.” Among his other reformatory ideas, were these. You may recognize them as something we take as a part of our daily life. A universal, uniform system of schools, with training colleges for teachers; restriction of adult labor to ten hours per day, with no reduction of pay; and the forbiddance of child labor.  To the England of the 19th century however, these reforms were foreign, and Owen’s ideas had very little traction, so he began to look elsewhere for a place to begin his new society.

An opportunity was not long in presenting itself. George Rapp, a religious fanatic, offered Owen his 30,000 acre village in Posey Indiana. Robert jumped at the opportunity and in 1824 he set sail for a new world on a journey that was destined to change the course of American history. Upon arrival at his new settlement, long before Karl Marx, and Frederic Engels, Owen began to construct the first communistic society, right in the heartland of America. He called it “New Harmony.” During this time, America celebrated her 50th anniversary, but Owen wasn’t interested in that. Rather, he issued a new declaration called the “Declaration of Mental Independence.” It claimed that humanity was now free from what he called “The trinity of evils responsible for all the world’s misery and vice:” namely “Traditional religion, conventional marriage, and private property.” Sounds kind of familiar doesn’t it? At this very time in our country, a war is being waged against the exact same so called “Evils.” After extensive research, Dr. John Coleman pointed out the specifics of this new declaration. The goal was to establish Socialism; destroy the family as a unit; create boarding schools to separate children from their parents; and institute “free love” as a norm, along with abortion to “get rid of an inconvenience.”

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These were the ideals that New Harmony was founded upon. Initially, three hundred settlers joined the community, and Owen began to test his ideas. The property was communally owned, with the interesting exception of his own, and the society was controlled paternalistically. There were fines for drunkenness, and illegitimate children. Trade schools were instituted for practical character building. It seemed like the beginning of Utopia, but it wasn’t long before the community, contrary to its name became rather unharmonious. It began with the irked parents whose children were kept away for many hours at school by Owen who wished to as he stated, “Shield children from the unwanted negative influence of their parents.” The most significant issue however was that there were too many thinkers, and not enough doers. The work simply didn’t get done. By 1827, only three years after its conception, New Harmony had collapsed.

Owen began to ask himself “why?” In the end, he blamed the people of America, saying they were a poor type of people for a communistic society. You see these were individuals whose parents and great grandparents had built a nation on the ideals of the declaration, and crafted a government defined by the constitution. They had been educated to believe the polar opposite of what Owen wished to establish, namely Biblical Christianity and free market individualism. Thus, they were non-compatible with socialism. Robert set out to change this. He knew that the adults could not be swayed from their views, so he set his sights on the children, for as Abraham Lincoln observed, “The Philosophy of the school room in one generation will be the philosophy of government in the next.”  Owen’s new goal became the push to establish uniform public schools in America; These schools that every child was required to attend, would be designed to transform their character, so they would accept his ideas. Dr. Blumenfeld in his book “Is Public Education Necessary?” made the extent of Owen’s purposes very clear. “To the Owenites in 1828, it was clear that national public education was the essential first step on the road to socialism, and that this would require a sustained effort of propaganda… over a long period of time.” This wasn’t something that was going to happen overnight. In fact, Robert stated rather prophetically that “We won’t see any results from this for 100 years, but then we will see results.” So, what happened in the 1930’s, 100 years after Owen? Franklin Roosevelt came up with the new deal, and 30 years later, Lyndon Johnson implemented the great society. Both were progressive presidents with socialistic goals and America, instead of rejecting them like we would have in the past, embraced them. Is this simply a coincidence? I don’t think so.

At the time that Owen began the push for public schools, he was so disliked by Christians and Americans in general, that he couldn’t be in the forefront of this new mission. Instead, he became invisible by putting forward others such as Horace Mann to implement his ideas, for him. Today no one knows about Robert Owen, but we sure do know about his ideas, because it was meant to be that way.

So, how do you communize a country like the U.S.? Dr. Bloomenfeld had an answer. “You take control of the educational system and you dumb down the public to the point that they don’t know the difference between capitalism and socialism.” That’s exactly what Owen did and today like clockwork, we are seeing the fruits of his labor. From the socialism, destruction of marriage, and a godless society, down to college trade schools, 8 hour work days, and no child labor, Robert Owen’s ideas have transformed America.

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I tell you this today, not so you’ll come away thinking we’re all doomed, but rather to inform you, for the only way we can combat the tide of socialism, is by knowing the socialists tactics.  Adolf Hitler was unfortunately able to accomplish what he did, because he realized that “He alone who owns the youth, gains the future.” Robert Owen set us on the road to socialism via education, but we can turn that around, and restore America to her former greatness, by reclaiming our youth.

 
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Posted by on December 15, 2012 in Education, Government

 

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