A Hymn of Praise

I recently participated in a project for Kelly Stern’s doctoral dissertation. She hopes to earn her doctorate in Educational Ministry from Dallas Seminary in May 2021.

This was my favorite part of the project, and is particularly meaningful to me today — the day before the presidential election in the United States. The words of this short tune are just going over and over in my head.

Production note: I discovered a piece of free software called “Musescore” that enabled me to put notation to the tune I had worked out on my accordion. I’m not proud of my voice, or really all that proud of this little tune, but I thought it an appropriate act of worship and encouragement for me to also make a video of this for my friends.

Generosity: A Fruit of Godliness

The following video is one I prepared for the Midweek Devotional at Redeemer Bible Church. Here’s what I wrote on Facebook: “If you’ve never recorded a video of yourself talking or teaching, you don’t know how painful it can be. Fortunately, I can laugh even at myself. There’s one place in this video where I laughed out loud every time I hit the spot in my editing. The sentiments are heart-felt, even my chagrin. You’ll notice that I don’t nail down one crucial definition. You see, I was paying attention to the parable of the Good Samaritan: nailing down definitions is sometimes a squirrely way of avoiding duty (‘Exactly WHO is my neighbor?’)”

The last few months have involved a lot of introspection for me, much coming to terms with my selfishness.

Don’t Run From Suffering

This is a video I recorded for the August 19, 2020 Midweek Devotional of Redeemer Bible Church. What I say reflects a fair amount of the progress I have made over the last few months. Some of it is a veiled protest to the power- and security-seeking motive that is wrecking the witness of Evangelicals in America. My pastor had to point out that “Pursuit of Suffering” is going too far, that the concept has been abused in Church history. He and I did agree that the proper response to suffering looks a whole lot more like “pursuit” than the terrified and often proud evasion that is rampant right now.

Production Note: I recorded this with my Pixel 3a, and only noticed later on that the white balance is constantly changing: white-yellow-white. The camera on that phone is terrific, but there doesn’t appear to be white balance lock!

Saint Francis of White Rock

He walked along the shore pouring out a large bag of feed (50lb?) for the hundreds of ducks at Pelican Bay and then sat to feed whole grain bread to the geese. He told me he’s been doing this every day for years. Next time, I’ll get his full name, which probably includes “Saint” and “Francis.”

Below is a video I took of those hundreds of ducks on another day. Now I know part of the reason that they all congregate here. “Saint Francis of White Rock” tells me that he used to feed them over at the Bath House. When he began feeding them at Pelican Bay instead, the ducks somehow spread the news of where to find him.

Hawk

I was photographing this tree against the evening sky when a hawk flew into it, apparently unaware of my presence. It would have remained unaware if I had not intentionally walked around to position myself to get a little clip of it flying. The video is slowed down to half speed.

I Wonder if They Paid the Piper?

I thought the whole scene was comical. Here are dozens of young beauties and this young fellow has to stand there in a kilt, playing an odd instrument and watching them as they ignore him. Is it a reward? Torture? The only thing better would have been if he were playing a jaw harp. I’m Scottish. My people are odd.

I think he’s well on his way to making the instrument sound like a cat fight. What more can one ask of a piper?

Mount Belford High Camp

Every year I and some of my best friends do a lightning 4-day trip up to Colorado to climb one of the 54 peaks that are 14,000′ or taller. It’s doubtful we’ll ever climb all of them since we’re getting “old” now. Our 2017 climb was Mount Belford (14,197′). Three of us had climbed Belford in a past year, but wanted to introduce it to new members of our group. On the afternoon after we had lugged our gear up to high camp, I took photos with my smartphone… enough photos to create a “photosphere.” Back in Dallas, I stitched those photos together and produced the following video (it has accompanying music which you may want to hear):

When people see this sort of video, they often assume I was using a drone. In actuality — as I mentioned above — all of the photos were taken with my Google Nexus 6P (Android phone), which I mounted on a small ball head attached to my trekking pole. Try to imagine standing in the absolute center of a sphere, and taking overlapping photos of every “square inch” of the sphere — above, below, and all around. Software called PTGui can automatically stitch all of those photos together into a “photosphere,” which can be further manipulated in other software (InstaStudio 360, Adobe Photoshop, and Adobe Premiere) to produce the trippy kind of movie that you see above. In the case of this particular movie, I was trying to match the phrasing of the soundtrack with the movement in the video. That involved slowing down segments of an intermediate movie to match the music.