Weekly Photo Challenge: Transformation

If we don’t have any other pies at our house at Thanksgiving, pumpkin and mincemeat are a given. The mincemeat pie is a special treat for my husband. I myself don’t care much for it, but I love to transform the top crust into a work of art. I mean, why cut a few straight lines into the crust when you can write a Thanksgiving message instead?

Give Thanks (1)

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Priscilla ~ A Godly Wife

couple-sunset-mountains-nc

 

A godly wife will support her husband in his endeavors, encourage and strengthen him. This is the relationship Priscilla had with her husband Aquila. Everything they did, they did together. My study focuses on women in the Bible, but since Priscilla is never named without mention of her husband, I will refer to both of them together.

Tentmakers Together

Priscilla and Aquila were Jews, but we know them by their Latin names. They had come from Italy, and it’s likely they had lived there a long time.

Acts 18:1-3  After these things Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth; And found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla; (because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome:) and came unto them. And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them and worked, for by their occupation they were tentmakers.

Priscilla and Aquila left Italy when Claudius banished all Jews from Rome. Though they did not live in Rome proper, it’s possible that it seemed too dangerous to stay in Italy at the time, and perhaps it was also hard to find work as a Jew. At any rate, they moved to Corinth, and that is where Paul met them. Incidentally, this is just one more illustration of how God turns bad things into good for His glory. Would they have ever met Paul had they not gone to Corinth?

Commentators are divided regarding just when Priscilla and Aquila came to know the Lord Jesus as their Savior. Were they already Christians when Paul met them? Or was he drawn to them by their mutual occupation as tentmakers, and converted to Christianity while he stayed with them? I personally believe the latter was the case, although we won’t know for certain until we reach heaven.

Missionaries Together

Paul spent a year and a half in Corinth, teaching and preaching, and when he left, Priscilla and Aquila went with him (Acts 18:11,18). This husband and wife had become rather fond of Paul, and they perhaps looked to him as a spiritual father as well as a dear friend. But beyond the friendship, Priscilla and Aquila were called of God to leave their home and travel with Paul, helping him in the ministry. We have one example of their influence in Acts chapter 18.

Acts 18:24-26  A certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the Scriptures, came to Ephesus. This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spoke and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John. And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly.

Apollos already knew the Lord as Savior and had a firm grasp of the Old Testament teachings, but his knowledge was outdated. He knew Messiah was coming, but evidently he was not aware that Messiah had already come and completed the work of redemption. So Priscilla and Aquila instructed him privately, sharing with him “the rest of the story.” He was already an influential preacher, but having learned more about Christ and His resurrection, Apollos became that much more effective. In fact, he went on to become one of the great preachers of the first-century church. Paul states in a letter to certain dissenters, “I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase” (1 Corinthians 3:6).

Church Planters Together

1 Corinthians 16:19  The churches of Asia salute you. Aquila and Priscilla salute you much in the Lord, with the church that is in their house. [written AD 57, from Ephesus]

Priscilla and Aquila were with Paul in Ephesus when he wrote the first letter to the church at Corinth; but at some point they returned to Italy, this time to Rome. Most likely they went back after the death of Claudius, or at least after the ban on Jews was lifted. Paul mentions them in his letter to the Romans.

Romans 16:3-5  Greet Priscilla and Aquila my helpers in Christ Jesus: Who have for my life laid down their own necks: unto whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles. Likewise greet the church that is in their house…. [written AD 58, from Corinth]

So we see that Priscilla and Aquila were church planters, having started two churches: one in Ephesus, and another in Rome.

2 Timothy 4:19  Salute Prisca and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorus. [written AD 67-68, from Rome]

This is not a misspelling of her name, but another form of it. Priscilla is the diminutive of Prisca, as Rosita is to Rosa. Here Paul addressed them in his second letter to Timothy, which suggests that from Rome they eventually returned to Ephesus, where they had first started a church. Timothy was pastoring there. Was he pastoring the church they had founded? Perhaps they returned to help him in the ministry.

Map Priscilla and Aquila

Here is a map to show you the cities where Priscilla and Aquila lived and ministered. The brown tents represent Priscilla and Aquila while the green tents represent the apostle Paul. If you want to see it better, follow the link at the bottom of this post to the original website.

A Godly Wife

When God created Eve, He said she was a help (aid, assistant) meet (suitable, proper, qualified) for Adam. The wife, when she fulfills God’s purpose for her, is perfectly qualified to meet her husband’s needs and to help him be the man God meant for him to be. Many a wife has fallen short of this high calling, but Priscilla did not. Priscilla was a fine example of a help meet. She worked and served God alongside her husband, in harmony with him. Did they have conflicts? Of course! Who doesn’t? But the fact that they were able to spend so much time together for so many years tells us that they learned how to properly deal with conflict when it arose. When she had a problem, she attacked the problem, not her husband. As a result, they evidently had a sweet and fulfilling relationship with one another, and that love was manifested to all those around them. It’s no wonder they were missed whenever God called them to leave one place and go to another.

The “Secret” to Being a Godly Wife

Ladies, we who are married would do well to learn the secret to having a successful marriage. This “secret” is not to love your husband, but to respect him (Ephesians 5:33). Love comes naturally to women; respect does not. I have learned that I ought to respect my husband, though I will not say that I have mastered it. But God is good, and He is helping me. He will help you too, if you ask Him from a heart that earnestly desires to be more like Him.

One of the most helpful suggestions I’ve come across is to create a Memory Box (Emily Ley, in Grace, Not Perfection). Purchase an attractive photo box from your local hobby store (or decorate one yourself), and fill it with mementos of all the good times you have with your spouse: photos, ticket stubs, cards & letters, and other things that are special to the two of you. Then when you hit a rough patch in your marriage, pull that box out and reminisce over the good times you’ve had together. This will help you to remember that life with your spouse was not always as bad as it seems to be right now, which in turn gives hope for a better tomorrow. It will also help to keep your mind focused on the good, not the bad, as God commands us in His Word.

Philippians 4:8  Finally, [sisters], whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

It’s best to begin filling your Memory Box when life is great and you don’t think you’ll ever need it. But if you’ve already reached the point where you need encouragement, then now is as good a time as any to begin to gather those good memories.

Also, remember that your husband is only human—he will fail. And here’s another secret: You too are only human, and you also will fail. Don’t try to change your husband; don’t even pray for God to change him. Instead, ask God to change you. If you do, then pretty soon you will start to notice that the relationship is right and good, when you are the wife God has called you to be. Life in these bodies of flesh will never be absolutely perfect, but it can be rich and rewarding—if we let God have His way with us.

Psalm 37:4-5  Delight thyself also in the LORD; and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in Him; and He shall bring it to pass.

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Photo taken in Brevard, NC, 2017

Map courtesy of Bible Fun for Kids

Next week: Vashti

Praise to the Lord, the Almighty

 

female-cardinal-singingby Joachim Neander, pub. 1680
transl. by Catherine Winkworth, 1863

Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation!
O my soul, praise Him, for He is thy health and salvation!
All ye who hear, now to His temple draw near;
Praise Him in glad adoration.

Psalm 42:11  Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise Him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.

This hymn sang to me as I participated in the congregational singing in church last Sunday. If I could write with half the eloquence of Joachim Neander, I would be blessed beyond measure. He has such a way with words.

But enough about the instrument. The focus of this hymn is on the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation.

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Praise to the Lord, who o’er all things so wondrously reigneth,
Shelters thee under His wings, yea, so gently sustaineth!
Hast thou not seen how thy desires e’er have been
Granted in what He ordaineth?

Psalm 93:1  The LORD reigneth, He is clothed with majesty; the LORD is clothed with strength, wherewith He hath girded himself: the world also is established, that it cannot be moved.

Ruth 2:12  The LORD recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee of the LORD God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust.

Psalm 37:4  Delight thyself also in the LORD; and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart.

This stanza is chock-full of truth. God reigns in the affairs of men, no doubt about it. We don’t always understand the purpose of suffering, but it is just as necessary to us as the times of ease, if not more so. Drought causes the tree’s roots to go deeper in search of water, which results in a stronger tree that is capable of resisting the winds of the storms. And in those storms, God offers protection so that we will not be overwhelmed. And the Father grants us our desires, particularly when we delight in Him.

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Praise to the Lord, who doth prosper thy work and defend thee;
Surely His goodness and mercy here daily attend thee;
Ponder anew what the Almighty can do,
If with His love He befriend thee.

Genesis 39:23  The keeper of the prison looked not to anything that was under his hand; because the LORD was with him, and that which he did, the LORD made it to prosper.
Psalm 23:6  Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

God alone is the source of my strength and the author of my victories. I can do nothing at all without Him. His goodness and mercy surround me every day, giving me blessings I don’t deserve and withholding from me the punishment that should be mine. “Ponder anew what the Almighty can do.” God can do anything—anything but fail. And He has befriended me with His love. He loved me before I even knew Him.

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Praise to the Lord, who, when tempests their warfare are waging,
Who, when the elements madly around thee are raging,
Biddeth them cease, turneth their fury to peace,
Whirlwinds and waters assuaging.

Mark 4:35-41  And the same day, when evening was come, He saith unto them, “Let us pass over unto the other side.” And when they had sent away the multitude, they took Him even as He was in the ship. And there were also with Him other little ships. And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. And He was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake Him, and say unto Him, “Master, carest Thou not that we perish?” And He arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, “Peace, be still.” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. And He said unto them, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?” And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, “What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?”

What else can I say? God is good all the time. He sends the storms to make us trust Him, to show us His power over them. Not just squalls on the sea, but spiritual storms as well. He is never surprised by what is happening, never alarmed, never out of control. What a comfort it is to know that God is watching over me, even in the storm.

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Praise to the Lord, who, when darkness of sin is abounding,
Who, when the godless do triumph, all virtue confounding,
Sheddeth His light, chaseth the horrors of night,
Saints with His mercy surrounding.

John 16:33  These things I have spoken unto you, that in Me you might have peace. In the world you shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

The world does seem to be growing darker by the day with a spiritual darkness and oppression from the enemy of our souls. Right seems wrong and wrong seems right. People plummet to lower moral depths with each passing day, and they dare anyone to tell them they are in the wrong. This is not new. Luke 17:26 says, “And as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man.” But God is neither blind nor deaf. He sees and hears the depravity of man. Why does He do nothing? My friend, He is not doing nothing. He is waiting for the perfect moment to make all things right. And He will, in His time. In the meantime, He is calling for all men everywhere to come to Him in repentance of their sins. God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). And He has not left us to stumble in the darkness. He has given us His light through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

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Praise to the Lord, oh, let all that is in me adore Him!
All that hath life and breath, come now with praises before Him;
Let the Amen sound from His people again,
Gladly for aye we adore Him.

Psalm 106:48  Blessed be the LORD God of Israel from everlasting to everlasting: and let all the people say, “Amen.” Praise ye the LORD.

We often use the word amen to conclude our prayers, but what does it mean? Consider this definition from the 1828 Webster’s Dictionary: “As a verb, it signifies to confirm, establish, verify; to trust, or give confidence; as a noun, truth, firmness, trust, confidence; as an adjective, firm, stable. In English, after the oriental manner, it is used at the beginning, but more generally at the end of declarations and prayers, in the sense of, be it firm, be it established.” So in the context of this hymn, we are enjoined to confirm or verify the teachings of God’s Word. We are to trust God, placing our confidence in Him and Him alone. Our faith in Him should be firm, for He never changes. He is the solid rock upon which our faith is founded. Gladly forever [for aye] we adore Him.

Have you learned to trust Him? Do you rest beneath the shelter of God’s wings? Have you tasted the water of life? If so, then please join me in praising Him today. And if not, why not? Come to Jesus today and experience His great love for you.

Revelation 22:17 And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” And let him that heareth say, “Come.” And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.

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Lyrics from Timelesstruths.org

Photo taken in Milton, Florida, 2017.

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Experimental

One of the best things about purchasing a new camera is getting to experiment with the many settings. My camera could not be considered “new” anymore, since I’ve had it almost a year, but I may never stop learning the various features and capabilities that it possesses.

Experimental 1

Canon EOS Rebel T6 – f/5.6, 1/500 sec., ISO 200, exp. bias -0.7 step, focal length 300 mm

A few weeks ago, while sitting outside on the back porch, I took a break from my writing to look around me just to see what I could see. Standing next to our patio is a tall, though young, oak tree. This time of year it is dropping scores of leaves and acorns on the concrete slab that serves as my outdoor office floor, so my broom is getting a lot of use. But that day I happened to look up, and my eye caught a bit of color. I put the zoom lens on my camera and pointed it at the bright spot in the tree, getting as close as possible. It looked like a flower, but it’s more likely to be a cluster of new leaves, coming in to take the place of the old ones. This is northwest Florida, and last year (our first year here), the oak tree was never barren. So I suppose that’s the way it is in a moderate climate such as we have here. The amazing thing about our climate is that we see spring, summer, and fall all at the same time. Even in this photo, there are brown leaves, green leaves, and the brand new yellow-gold leaves.

 

Experimental 2

Canon EOS Rebel T6 – f/5.6, 1/400 sec., ISO 125, exp. bias -1.3 step, focal length 300 mm

Since my glasses desperately need an upgrade, I needed a good quality photo in order to see what I was looking at. I decided to experiment with some of the manual settings on my fairly stationary subject, and I ended up with 57 shots, but only 6 of them are here.

Experimental 3

Canon EOS Rebel T6 – f/5.6, 1/500 sec., ISO 500, exp. bias +0.7 step, focal length 300 mm

Experimental 8

Canon EOS Rebel T6 – f/5.6, 1/400 sec., ISO 250, exp. bias 0 step, b/w, white filter

Experimental 9

Canon EOS Rebel T6 – f/5.6, 1/400 sec., ISO 320, exp. bias 0 step, b/w, blue filter

Experimental 10

Canon EOS Rebel T6 – f/5.6, 1/500 sec., ISO 320, exp. bias 0 step, b/w, red filter

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Life is all about experimenting. We experiment with recipes, with hairstyles, with clothing fashions, and even with friends.

God wants us to experiment with Him too. He invites us to “taste and see” that He is good. I have tasted of His goodness, and I am here to tell you He is all that! Do I always get what I want? No. Do I always understand His purposes? No. Do I always get an answer to my prayer the moment I lift up my petition? No.

But such things don’t happen in life either. And things certainly didn’t always go my way as I was growing up. Sometimes the choices my dad made were hard for me to understand. Sometimes he made me wait for an answer to my questions. And sometimes the answer was ‘No.’ My dad did what he did according to what he believed was best for me and for the family. My heavenly Father is just like that—only He never makes any mistakes. He always knows what is best for me. I trust Him.

Psalm 34:8 O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed [happy] is the man who trusts in Him.

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Photos taken in my back yard, 2017

 

Coexist is to contradict — Love Joy Balance

Blogger Gems (2)

To ‘coexist’ is to tolerate and embrace other religions. I get that the noble idea of “can’t we all just get along” and I will do my best to be kinder than necessary to anyone I come in contact with, however, my christian faith commands me to “stand guarded, confident and ready to give […]

This article is a very good read. Sadly, many of those seeking tolerance for themselves are unwilling to extend it to others. To be honest, coexistence simply isn’t possible, for the Bible tells us not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers. But at the same time, Christ does tell us to love them. Only through Christ can we genuinely love those who are opposed to us without losing our distinction from them.

via Coexist is to contradict — Love Joy Balance