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Facebook keeps asking “what’s on your mind” and I’m continually hesitant to answer out of fear that my written words will result in burnt bridges. Honestly, life was easier when I was in my early-twenties and didn’t care about people’s snap judgements due to my (often) unfiltered opinions. Or at least when I was oblivious to the potential impact those hard-to-change judgements might have on my ministry.

I blame scripture for forcing me to mature. The whole “let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger” in James really hampers my old self. Continue reading

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I Made A Thing!

I created a poster! Inspiration was taken from a shirt I saw a picture of online. The background image was obtained through unsplash.com and the scripture text is used with permission.

I originally started working on this poster as a personal reminder. As a Christian, I know that I am commanded to love my neighbor but it’s hard to remember that my neighbor is not just the person I share a property line with – it actually means everyone! I don’t know about you but for me it is easy to assume I’m on the right track when I’m only surrounded by likeminded people. But if you put someone in front of me that I highly disagree with on an emotional, political, theological, or philosophical level it becomes a bigger hurdle. It’s important to remember that our neighbors include everyone, not just those we like. My hope is that this poster helps keep that understanding at the forefront of our minds.

There are 2 variations and they are available to purchase (professionally printed!) if you so desire. Shipping times run about a week.

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If you’re interested in purchasing a copy, contact me via facebook messenger and we can move from there! (m.me/jtbennett or scan the image below with the Messenger app)

 

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Being Remembered

My Nana died 113 days ago. She was funny, kind, loving, patient, selfless, dedicated, and God-fearing. She was everything I strive to be and her death hit me harder than I anticipated. This past weekend all of her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren gathered together to reflect, mourn, and celebrate her life.

We shared stories.
We laughed.
We cried.
We remembered.

When Stephanie and I were leaving the burial site, I suddenly had a realization to a question that I had been struggling with for years. Continue reading

Why I Am Observing Lent

Even Though I’m Baptist

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My earliest experience with Lent that I can remember took place in Burlington, Iowa when I was in middle school. I was in the car with my dad, driving down Roosevelt Avenue, when we passed our local Arby’s restaurant. The bright, red LED reader board proudly proclaimed “WE HAVE FISH SANDWICHES. 2 for $5!” I asked my dad why that was a big deal, figuring maybe the fish was rare or somehow special. “It’s because right now is Lent and some people stop eating beef for 40 days. But they can eat fish so lots of restaurants have specials to draw them in.” The idea of giving up any type of protein seemed incredibly dumb to my young self. No meat? I would starve! It was an uncomfortable thought.

Years later, I again encountered Lent but this time as an adult in Portland, Oregon. Having been enrolled at Multnomah University for a number of years at that point, I had many friends and acquaintances who were not mainstream baptist like myself. Some were more liturgical in their traditions and had a history of observing the 40 day period before Easter as part of their Christian faith. This felt altogether foreign to me – Easter got 1 day, not 40. And really it wasn’t even a full day but more like a couple hours in the morning with a big lunch and family pictures! Plus you couldn’t forget to wear really nice clothes. And, almost most importantly, on that one day you had to remember to initiate a specific greeting with a loud “He is Risen!” and then wait for the responder to equally proclaiming “He is Risen indeed!

That was the extent of my Easter tradition. To do more would be…weird. Continue reading

iPhoneography with a 7plus

I make no claim to be anything close to a professional photographer.

I’ll leave that to my sister-in-law and few other friends from college; their skill behind the glass is amazing! But I do enjoy getting a great shot by accident now and then – the iPhone 7plus is an amazing tool to keep in my pocket for when opportunity presents itself.  It’s no 5D Mark IV but, as the adage goes, “the best camera is the one you have with you”.

See below for a selection of my favorites from over the past few months.

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Adventures in Blu-ray Authoring

What Started All This

*If you don’t want background, skip to “How To Make It Happen” for step-by-step directions*

I love the “Avatar: The Last Airbender” series.  The story is engaging, the humor is on point, and the artwork is beautiful.  A glaring issue, however, is that Nickelodeon has only ever released the show on DVD (which I have purchased…twice) and the quality of some of those episodes is barely better than that of a VHS tape.  I’m not sure what the reason for this is but the fan community has been clamoring for a better quality release for years, myself among them.  Yes, the show was originally aired on TV in standard definition and animated in a 4:3 aspect ratio but the art wasn’t drawn with fuzzy, double lines was it?!

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Passionate Pursuit

I was recently invited to write for GetConnectDAD‘s 52 Traits campaign. Its focus is to provide a platform for dads to talk about the traits that we would like to help instill into our children.  Below is my guest piece on the topic of being Passionate (or click here to view it on their site).

When people hear the word “passionate”, they often assume it is connected to the romantic realm; it’s just one of those words that tends to be associated with a singular meaning.  “Passionate” can also, unfortunately, trigger assumptions that what is about to be said will be sexual or even pornographic.  Be honest: when you read the title above, did a little part of you think that you were about to read about dating or marriage?  Maybe something along the lines of “Five Tricks To Keep The Romance Alive After Kids”?  Sorry to disappoint but you’ll have to look elsewhere if you’re needing that.

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Think about someone in your life that you would gladly follow: a boss, a friend, a parent.  Someone who you naturally trust to “lead you into battle”.  Now think about someone that is the polar opposite.  A person that you’d rather not even have on your team, let alone trust enough to follow.  What separates these types of people?  Would it be their upbringing?  Gender?  Race?  Socio-economic status?  Get past the surface level profiling and you’re left with one key trait:

Passion.

Yes, passion is a requirement for healthy, romantic relationships but that is not its only purpose.  Passion is about so much more than that.

When you love what you do and don’t dread going to your job every day, that’s passion.  When you spend hours working on a project that others would avoid, that’s passion.  When you want to learn everything there is to know about a topic, even if it is not required to pass a class or get a promotion, that’s passion.

Passion is what allows us to become successful and to achieve great things.  It is what pushes us to not give up even when others would throw in the towel.  Passionate people are inspiring and compelling; they are leaders that we gladly follow.  We look at them and think “I want what they have”.

I have been dreaming about how to be a proper father to my baby girl since my wife and I opened that envelope last Christmas.  What will I raise her on?  What cartoons should she watch?  What board games should we play?  What video games should I introduce to her?  Before I started to become overwhelmed with all of that, I already knew that one of my top goals was to teach her how to be someone that is passionate.

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I consider myself a bit of a nerd.  Video games?  They can be fun.  RPGs?  Never actually tried a proper one.  Books?  I recognize some author’s names but I’m not as much a Reader as my wife.  But I love movies!  I love watching and critiquing them; I love feeling the emotion that a great actor can give their character (Matthew McConaughey in “Interstellar” watching the video messages from his kids absolutely wrecked me – big ‘ol man sized tears).  I enjoy looking into previous work of specific directors, cinematographers, and writers to see how they have refined their craft.  I then seek out their films even if they fall into a genre that I would normally avoid (this happened with “The Cabin in the Woods” simply because Joss Whedon wrote it).  I also love comics and the stories they tell; I love collecting and building with Lego; I love spending an evening with family and laughing over each other’s stories; I love having deep and challenging conversations with friends and strangers regarding my Christian faith.  You get me going on one of these topics and I light up because I am absolutely passionate about them!

Being nerdy just means being passionate about something, including everyone – the coolest people on Earth are passionate and therefore nerdy about something whatever it is, whether it’s sports, or gaming, or technology, or fashion, or beauty, or food, or whatever. – Zachary Levi

I want my daughter to learn how to be nerdy; to learn how to be passionate about something.  I want her to know that her passions should not be hidden just because some kids at school don’t share them.  I want her passions to impact and guide whatever she does in life.  The only way she will be learn to embrace her nerdy desires – the only way she will learn to be passionate about whatever is of interest to her (be it books like her mom, movies like her dad, or something else entirely) will be if she is given the example by her parents.  If she sees it everyday in her father.

It is my responsibility, privilege, and joy to cultivate my daughter’s passion and to encourage her nerdy behavior.  That requires me to remember to be someone who is unafraid to spend time doing the things that he loves, even when other people think they are silly or childish.  If my daughter is nerdy – if she is passionate – there will be nothing in this life that she will be unable to accomplish.  She only has to learn how.