Tag Archives: John Piper

Eating Bacon to the Glory of God

 

The full moon on this night was huge, and crazy-bright. It lit up the rugged mountains bordering a lonely highway through the Nevada desert. I blasted along the quiet road with the accompaniment of classic 80’s Dire Straits on the truck stereo, and thinking about my wife. We were in the middle of a 5-month separation necessitated by my photographic work and I was eager to pick her up in Salt Lake City the following day so she could join my adventures in Utah for ten days.

 

A full moon rises above Nevada desert mountains at dusk

A full moon rises above Nevada desert mountains at dusk

 

It was a joy to be reunited with Wendy, and after a quick stop for fresh supplies we were ready to head that afternoon to our planned destination of Moab for exploration of Arches and Canyonlands national parks. But as we began the drive I couldn’t stop thinking about a nearby detour, one of the most sublime drives I’ve ever been on – the Alpine Loop Scenic Byway. This spot is known for excellent fall color and I had photographed there in previous autumns. But my travels this October had been delayed and by now I was certain that any remaining color would be well past peak and not worth changing our plans for.

Still, I couldn’t quit thinking about this Scenic Byway, and as we neared the exit for the Alpine Loop I was pulled in like a magnet and decided to delay Moab so Wendy could experience this wonderful mountain drive, even if there were no beautiful leaves to decorate it.

As it turned out, our only regret in this last-minute route change was pulling our 24-foot trailer up the narrow winding road, which had my wife clinging for dear life to the grab handles and me doing my best strong-man-in-control-unafraid impression 🙂 But to my startled delight the Loop colors came on late this year and our eyes joined a visual party of aspens and maples displaying full autumn glory!

 

Layers of steep mountain ridges glow with a riot of autumn color in American Fork Canyon, UT

Layers of steep mountain ridges glow with a riot of autumn color in American Fork Canyon, UT

 

For the next two days we drove up and down the roads in this spectacular little piece of Utah, admiring views of 11,752-foot Mount Timpanogos clothed in yellow aspens, strolling through quiet groves of trees, searching out pleasing photographic compositions among the overwhelming fall splendor that was everywhere before us. A special treat was waking up in our trailer one morning to a couple of moose just outside our window, a cow and her calf leisurely grazing only ten feet away. It was a moment of majesty that Wendy captured well, pointing her camera through the small window of our kitchen.

 

A cow moose and her calf graze right outside our camp trailer (photo by Wendy Martin)

A cow moose and her calf graze right outside our camp trailer (photo by Wendy Martin)

 

Clouds reflect warm light at sunset over Mount Timpanogos draped in golden aspens

Clouds reflect warm light at sunset over Mount Timpanogos draped in golden aspens

 

Earlier in my trip I had texted Wendy about my delicious camp breakfasts and she was looking forward to me whipping up that grub for her too. So after our moose gazing it was my pleasure to fry up the natural uncured bacon, scramble the organic free-range eggs with chunks of melty Tillamook cheddar goodness, and make toast by pan frying hearty sprouted grain bread in butter (and then topped with tasty Oregon huckleberry jam).

The aroma of the bacon frying that morning got me to thinking about how God can get glory through our food and drink.

Several years ago I read an article by pastor/writer John Piper titled How to Drink Orange Juice to the Glory of God. At the time it did not seem to have much impact on me. And then one day in my kitchen cooking up a late breakfast with Applegate Farms Organic Sunday Bacon, the flavor explosion from that tasty meat literally caused me to worship God right on the spot. The previous reading about how to glorify God with how we eat & drink likely helped set the stage in my thinking, but it was only through experiencing for myself God’s good and gracious gift in that spectacular bacon that I finally understood how a person could eat bacon to the glory of God, or drink orange juice for his glory, or whatever your food and drink may be in that moment.

Here’s how it looks for me to magnify God’s glory as the unique succulent flavor of bacon hits my taste buds:

– I acknowledge that the bacon comes from God. He is the source of everything.

– I overflow with thankfulness to God for the bacon. I thank him for designing and creating pigs. I thank him for the financial ability to buy bacon. I thank him for the stores that sell it, the distributors that get it to market, the butchers who prepare it, and the farmers who raise the pigs.

– I enjoy it! With all of my senses. God is most glorified when we thoroughly enjoy his good gifts to us.

– I allow the incredible flavor of bacon to point me again and again to just how amazing our God is, his creative genius in the making of such a treat and his graciousness in blessing anyone with $4.99 and a frying pan with this rich pleasure.

 

A quiet grove of aspens nestled in the Wasatch mountain range along Alpine Loop Scenic Byway

A quiet grove of aspens nestled in the Wasatch mountain range along Alpine Loop Scenic Byway

 

This is the life I desire to live out with my wife more and more, in the ordinary circumstances of daily life as well as in the more glorious moments, whether traveling and photographing in eye-popping autumn wilderness or just sitting down to eat our simple breakfast: to see the hand of God’s provision in all his good gifts, to receive them with joy, to be ever thankful, and to worship God’s gracious and loving character.

“So, whether you eat or drink,

or whatever you do,

do everything to the glory of God.” 

(1 Corinthians 10:31, GOD’S WORD® Translation)

 

 

 


The Life-Giving Fountain of Water

 

I was mesmerized from the moment I first saw it. The image was on the cover of Outdoor Photographer magazine taken by the very great photojournalist-turned-landscape photographer Jack Dykinga: a stunningly lush waterfall with multiple streams cascading down a unique brown rock face, a scene straight out of an exotic tropical paradise. Yet the location was reported to be Idaho! I knew one day I had to find it and attempt my own composition.

Fast forward a decade. The falls that was virtually unknown at the time of Dykinga’s cover photo could now be found with an internet search, and numerous web images revealed that quite a few photographers had brought home their own trophy shots. I had nearly forgotten about my initial infatuation from ten years past until a few weeks ago when I had departed Grand Teton National Park and suddenly realized I was a mere hour away from this place! I figured I had just enough daylight left to get there and make a photograph.

The remainder of my drive that evening took on new purpose. Aided by Google and an iPhone I pulled onto the dirt access road just outside of Swan Valley, Idaho, and slowly drove with eyes peeled for the place where Falls Creek flows into the Snake River. I could not see it from the road but my ears let me know when I had arrived. With anticipation I darted out of the truck and headed toward the top of the falls on a boot path, and soon turned cautious as I came to the edge of the cliff. From this high angle I could not see most of the falls, and looking down I noted the precarious barely-there trail and got a sick feeling in my stomach. I was desperate to get down there with my heavy pack and tripod, but fear was warning me of the high risk involved.

 

Fall Creek Falls #1

 

Some minutes later I saw walking down the road a teenager and her little brother who graciously tipped me off to a safer approach to the falls about 50 yards up river. I felt some relief at this point and thanked God for the direction, knowing that if I had attempted the climb straight down the cliff it likely would have ended poorly for me. The alternate trail dove steeply down an embankment and then leveled off into a soggy marsh. The going was straightforward except for the final 10 yards as I crossed a boggy section of water nearly waist high that sucked my boots into the mucky bottom.

My friend Slav had warned me some time ago that a large section of the rock face had fallen off into the falls, marring the picture-perfect overall composition that had made the shot popular among landscape shooters. I saw that huge chunk of fallen earth as I climbed from the bog onto the rocks, but the sight and sound of what remained of the falls was more than enough inspiration to spur me on to look for my own quieter interpretation. I walked along terraces of shallow water and marveled at the sheer beauty, the impossible lushness, the stunning location on the Snake River in a lovely Idaho valley. It wasn’t long before I discovered a serene section of falls off to one side, and I happily made a few compositions in the soft shaded light after sunset. I was all alone for nearly two hours here, and the simplicity of just being in that moment and at that place was really like the tastiest and most effective medicine you can imagine for whatever might ail you.

 

Fall Creek Falls #2

 

Days later I considered the finished photos on my computer monitor and knew there was a certain scripture I just had to tie in with the images of this fresh mountain stream cascading down into a breathtaking waterfall. It was a few years ago when I first encountered this passage and I was stunned at what I read back then:

My people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.  (Jeremiah 2:13)

The pastor/teacher John Piper is helpful in unpacking this verse:

“God pictures himself as a mountain spring of clean, cool, life-giving water. The way to glorify a fountain like this is the enjoy the water, and praise the water, and keep coming back to the water, and point other people to the water, and get strength for love from the water, and never, never, never prefer any drink in the world over this water. … That is how we glorify God, the fountain of living water.

But in Jeremiah’s day people tasted the fountain of God’s grace and did not like it. So they gave their energies to finding better water, more satisfying water. Not only did God call this effort futile (“broken cisterns that can hold no water“), but he called it evil: “My people have committed two evils.” They put God’s perfections to the tongue of their souls and disliked what they tasted; then they turned and craved the suicidal cisterns of the world. That double insult to God is the essence of what evil is.”  (from his book When I Don’t Desire God, p. 33-34)

I’ve meditated on this verse for some time, and it still stuns me today to think on it. First, to see a gracious Creator offering to be everything for us creatures, giving himself fully and sacrificially in the person of Christ to be the only life-giving thirst-quenching water that can and will satisfy the deepest longing of our parched souls. To offer humans that kind of satisfaction in him is an expression of amazing love! And then I think of my own wandering heart, how easily in this world I have turned away from the ultimate fountain of delight in God and instead attempted to find hydration in cloudy mud-filled bacteria-infested water.

This to me is the insanity of evil.  Being offered the very best in the universe for your ultimate joy and good by the loving God who formed you, but turning away in disinterest or unbelief and instead groveling about in the muck searching for some hint of happiness…

 

Fall Creek Falls #3

 

 


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