M25 Mission Camp in Atlanta

The Cornerstone M25 Team

The team on the last day as we prepare to head back to Auburn

There are several entries that have been sitting in my drafts for a while that I’ve trying to get posted, and this happens to be one of them. M25 Mission Camp is a youth missional organization in Atlanta that works with the homeless in a way I’ve rarely seen over the years. It wasn’t the first youth trip for me, but it was the first one in a while, and I was amazed with every aspect of the experience, mainly because it changed perceptions and perspectives on life and serving others well. This video we produced can explain it better than I can here. For now, there are some images that shows a little of the week we spent trying to love others well.

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The Rush of Life

Overlooking an Atlanta Freeway

Overlooking an Atlanta Freeway

Last week I took about 5,000 images of so many different aspect of life in downtown Atlanta. This one still stands out to me as a metaphor to the pace of life we lead today, This was one of the only times I can remember over the week when the interstate wasn’t bumper to bumper and crawling. I think I have enough traffic and freeway images now to do a photo essay on Atlanta traffic, but that would just be depressing. In this case, we were serving the homeless that lived underneath the freeway bridges where the pace of life is ironically slow.

Stop for Spotting at ATL

atl-airport-frontier-a320

The Atlanta airport is so close to where we had lunch today, and directly on the way home that I decided to stop for a bit to see if I could do a little spotting. It was super hot on the upper deck and parking is an absolute nightmare. I didn’t realize until after I had parked and walked to the spotting location I was familiar with in the short-term parking that there is now a parking lot, holding area, just before you get into the drop off and pick up area. It’s perfect for spotting since it’s right there up against one of the active runways, but visibility of what’s coming is very limited. The view up on the top of the parking deck is great, but it’s very hot and exposed, and it did end up costing $4 for the 90 minutes or so I was there.

I ended up walking around inside the airport for a while to find something to drink. It was a crazy zoo of people chaotically moving around seemingly mindlessly through the mire of the modern and busiest airport in the country. I was glad I stopped, I wish I had more time to spend but it was about as perfect timing wise as it could have been to be able to get back to Auburn at a decent hour.

Seeing Our Next Team Off to Uganda Today

Cornerstone Church Uganda Team Leaves for Atlanta

Cornerstone Church Uganda Team Leaves for Atlanta

Today instead of going on the trip to Uganda with the team from last year, I got to see them off to the Atlanta airport. It was a sad goodbye for me personally since I’m staying behind, but I know God is going to work among these eight people pictured above over the next week in Uganda. This team is going to build on so many other teams that have already gone and come back, intent on sharing the love of Christ with others in a culture and context far different from the comfortable life we live in the western world.

You can see a little more about what the trips are like from my previous posts in the Uganda tag, and if you want to follow along with this particular team you can follow April Olive’s blog as she updates throughout the trip. I can’t wait to hear about their trip, it is quite an experienced group of travelers with a heart for the people of Uganda.

Learning Discipleship Through the Eyes of Jesus

Cornerstone Church Staff Discussing Discipleship at 3DM

Cornerstone Church Staff Discussing Discipleship at 3DM

I spent this week with some of our staff at a conference in Atlanta. The past few days for me added to or confirmed with me part of an ongoing study I have about “what is the church?” I last posted about it here: What is the Church? 10 Things the Bible Says About the Church, but this week was focused on discipleship.

This group (3DM) we started to explore months ago doesn’t have a new program, or some new secret way to make disciples, they walked through how Jesus did this. That means this was really more like a workshop than a conference, and there wasn’t a step-by-step process by those Type-A’s can take away and say “this is how you do it.” That’s what made this different than the host of Christian conferences we all love to attend.

I’m not actually sure how to completely process everything presented to us over the last three days. It was a great starting point to learning how to create disciples, not how to create the church. If there was a quote for church staff and leaders that stuck with me, it was this.

Make disciples and it will build and create the church. Build a church and you aren’t necessarily creating disciples.

This is completely backwards from what our American church is. Our consumerist church of the 21st century is certainly a place where we can go on Sunday’s to consume a church product, but is it a place we create disciples as Jesus commanded us to do in Matthew 28? It turns church on its head because it is a scary place for church staff, and a freeing place for followers of Christ. I have heard it said countless times that church is not a building it is the people, but that’s a hard thing to live out when we place so much emphasis on doing church in that traditional church building.

That’s the raw unfiltered understanding of the last few days, it’s not anything ground breaking, but creating disciples is what we are called to do, building the church building is a place where we believers gather to worship on Sunday, not the place where we evangelize the unchurched.

Project 365 [Day 155] Time to Get Down to Business in Uganda

Project 365 [Day 155] Business Mission Trip to Uganda

Today we (Cornerstone Church) sent off two staff members (Brian and Jack in the red and green shirt center above) to Uganda for a short business trip. Right now as I write this they are high over the Atlantic on their way to Amsterdam then on to Africa. This has pretty much become an annual planning trip for our church to prepare the way for our mission teams who will travel to Uganda later this year. For the last several years we have sent 3-4 teams a year to Kampala, Uganda to work in and around Kampala, Gaba, and Buloba. Most recently we have partnered with a mission group out of Atlanta called Sixty Feet who are trying to work in a few remand homes in Uganda (see Uganda photos from a previous trip of mine).

This year, once again, we have 3-4 teams including the one above, who will head over to Uganda to partner with our brothers and sisters in sharing the love of Christ with others. Today this photo is my Project 365 image for Day 155 (full gallery here), can’t think of a better photo of the day today than this.

NASCAR Atlanta Motor Speedway Photos :: Throwback Thursday

Self Portrait of My First Nikon D100 DSLR Camera

I thought I would really mix it up for my Throwback Thursday post for today. I have had many aspirations as a photographer over the span of 20+ years worth of shooting, and since I pretty much loved all aspects of photography (see Flickr), I have pretty much shot everything. I have shot from stars and planets to flowers, aviation, sports (a ton of Auburn football), people, worship, and, yes, even NASCAR.

These shots below were taken on my very first Nikon DSLR I ever purchased. I was so excited about getting this digital camera, the first affordable DSLR of its kind. After years of shooting film, I was ready to dive into digital photography. This set of images was one of the first things I ever shot with my digital Nikon, and it was the Saturday qualifying for the NASCAR Winston Cup Series race at the Atlanta Motor Speedway. These shots below were taken almost exactly 9 years ago, back when I still actually did have some hair as you can see from my self-portrait shortly after I bought my Nikon D100. It’s amazing how long ago that feels, like a lifetime ago, yet I can remember every detail of every single image I took that day.

We Arrived in Amsterdam or About Halfway to Uganda

Well, each trip is different, and this one was interesting. Taking off out of Atlanta on such a beautiful night, not a cloud in the sky, flying up the east coast in calm skies was just a relaxing few hours before heading out over the Atlantic and apparently non-stop weather. We came into Amsterdam in the roughest crosswinds and heavy rain, and it was calculated that 22.22% of us lost our lunch on the way down (they didn’t want to name names), and those who didn’t, wanted to, except perhaps Bart who seemed to be bother by nothing. Now we are sitting in Amsterdam at the gate watching a zero visibility ceiling, very heavy rain as it blows sideways across the tarmac. But, we are all in good spirits, ready to be above 25,000 feet where we can see the sun again.

You can prepare and prepare mentally for two 10-12 hour plane flights but I’m not really sure you are ever ready to sit on a plane that long. This is my 3rd visit to Amsterdam, so far, in the last 2-3 months and I’m getting a little tired of seeing the cloudy gray cold rain of this side of Europe, but that’s Europe. It’s not quite the bustling zoo that is Atlanta Hartsfield but they do have a Starbucks and an Airbus inside the airport (though I still haven’t had time to get over to see it yet).

This flight coming up is by far my more desirable flight out of the two. We fly the entire flight during the daylight hours, except for the last leg when we stop in Rwanda, and it’s over what seems like the most remote areas of the world (to me) that includes almost the entire length of Italy, the Mediterranean Sea, into Egypt, and over Sudan.

Our Uganda Team Says Goodbye To the USA for Now

The day has finally arrived and today as our team heads for the Atlanta airport, and I know we all have prepared and prayed as much as is possible for this moment. In a few hours we will be over the Atlantic, at which time comes my very favorite feeling of all, having no control of driving the bus whatsoever by sitting in a medal tube at 40,000 feet for the next 2 days. Of course I did contemplate with Deborah for a short time about taking a slow boat to Africa but she reminded me we wouldn’t make it back before 2012 was here, so I guess it’s for the best we have planes now, I guess.

In case you missed my last trip from a few months ago (just hit Uganda on my blog and scroll down), we travel from Atlanta to Amsterdam, then Amsterdam to Rwanda, then on to Uganda (yes, we fly right over Uganda to land in Rwanda), for a total of almost 10,000 miles in just about 36 hours from start to finish. I timed my trip last time from the moment I left my house to the moment I got into the guest house and it was right at 36 hours, which translated into 1 sunrise and 2 sunsets. By the time we landed last time I remember thinking, this has to be Africa, if we traveled any farther we would start to head back home around the other side.

For those few of you who might want to follow a more exact detail of what’s going on as we board and land etc, you can follow my feed on Twitter @scottfillmer or you can friend me on Facebook. For those who are unfamiliar with Twitter, You do NOT have to be a member of Twitter to follow our trip/team on Twitter, it is an open page, just click on my name above and it will give show you the updates (if you want to respond to something on there you do need to join Twitter if you haven’t already). For Facebook of course you will need to be on Facebook. The information and photos I post on Twitter and Facebook are unique to those two media’s so you won’t see those pics on my blog. I will also be able to update both while I’m actually on the ground in Uganda during the day, so if you are so inclined you can read what we are doing over there as well.

For now, I would like you to meet our team. From the photo above (in no particular order here) we have April Olive, Amy Frye, Bart Hyche, Emile Ewing, Jamie Moussirou, John Dow, Lisa Randall, Prabhakar Clement, and me, Scott Fillmer. Please be praying for each of us through the stresses of travel, and being away from our loved ones, that God will give us the strength needed to make a difference in just the way he has called us to do. See you here when we get to Europe if I can.

Know that we all greatly appreciate all your prayers as we leave and while we are over there. For those who have my cell phone number, please feel free to send text message to me while I’m over there, it’s like getting a letter from home, and I can receive unlimited text messages on my phone, just can’t send a large number. I probably will not reply, but I will receive your message.

Finishing Up Atlanta to Denver and Back Home Again

On one hand traveling anywhere on a plane today is such an incredible pain, and seems to take forever, but in the view of history, two thousand miles in a few hours isn’t so bad I guess. We went from a remote-ish cabin in Estes Park Colorado at 8,000 feet to our house, at sea level in Auburn, in about 12 hours. I have always loved airports, at least at long as I can remember anyway. Today the airlines pack as many people into every single aircraft as they possibly can, which makes for extremely crowded airports, and cabins. My perspective of airline travel has changed tremendously over the last twenty years, but airports, especially the major airports like Atlanta Hartsfield or DIA, are still a great place to just relax, people watch, read, do some photography, and generally take a break from the normal routine of things. I do love visiting different parts of the country, and the world for that matter, but as the cliche goes, there’s no place like home. I have visited every state in the country, lived in a dozen or so, and I can say without a doubt that the south really is a great place to live.

For all the craziness that is involved with traveling today I only have to look at the photo below to remember the reason why all that was worth it. To be there for the birth of our second grandson was an experience we will be able to remember as he grows up, and to be able to photograph his arrival into the world makes those memories even more vivid. I always feel very privileged to photograph specific events. They are all little pieces of history, frozen in time, never to happen exactly that same way again.

The photos in this post are sort of a hodge-podge of images from our trip home. I never did get a chance to do my 50mm airport shoot at Denver International Airport because by the time we got through security we only had about 30 minutes left before we got on our sold out flight, and we arrived hours before our departure time. I have several more photos of baby Luke than just the one below but I will save those for another post sometime.

This season, to me, seems so crazy right now that I find myself looking desperately for some margin (or balance). Fall is always a very busy time of year, but between football season, our multi-site movement at Cornerstone, a grandson being born trip, a niece to be born sometime this week, seminary classes, and a trip to Africa in two weeks, I’m feel a little frazzled (that a very scientific technical term) at times, just like everyone does.

I look at baby Luke in this photo below and it amazes me. God spent nine months to create the perfect little boy who right now knows nothing of the hustle and bustle of this world, and by the time he is my age, around the year 2050, he will no doubt feel the same pressures and anxieties that come with living in this extremely modern world. Maybe he will some day pull out this photo on his whatever electronic fangled device he has and remember that one day he too had no cares in the world other than to be warm and sleep in the sunlight.