Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Scripture On My Heart: Philippians 4:5

Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Philippians 4:5
MODERATION

The word "moderation" as translated in the original Greek means "appropriate, mild, gentle, patient". From Thayer's Greek Definitions we can include "suitable, equitable, fair, gentle". It speaks specifically to our behavior. Moderation should be seen in our dress, our speech, our reactions, even in how we spend our money. Acting moderately should be an every day occurrence, as involuntary as breathing.

In the book of James we read, "But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy." (1) The word "gentle" used here is the same Greek word translated "moderation" in Philippians 4:5.

Godly wisdom requires us to constantly watch our behavior. I have told my daughter again and again, "If you can't do it in front of me, then you can't do it in private." Our actions should not embarrass us. What we do in secret should reflect who we are in the open. We should live, as it says in 1 Timothy, above reproach, without anything to hide.

...give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully. 1 Tim. 5:14

This same thought works in reverse. If godly wisdom is moderate, then ungodly wisdom is not. Try reading the verse from James in reverse. That really changes things!


BE KNOWN

We are told in the New Testament that God sees our secrets. (2) Just look at what happened to King David. In 2 Samuel, after David had killed Bathsheba's husband, Uriah, in order to obtain her for himself, God admonished him.

For thou didst it secretly: but I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun. 2 Samuel 2:12

Just 2 verses later, He tells him why.

Howbeit, because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme... 2 Samuel 2:14

David's actions gave those who were against him a reason to scorn him. It affected his reputation as a king and God's reputation on his behalf.

There is a great passage of scripture to this effect in the second chapter of Titus. Over the period of several verses, instructions are given as to the behavior of men and women of all ages within the church. And underneath each instruction, the Apostle Paul continually repeats the cost of immoderate behavior.

...that the word of God be not blasphemed. verse 5

In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works... verse 6

Always set a good example for others... verse 7 CEV

Use clean language that no one can criticize. Do this, and your enemies will be too ashamed to say anything against you. verse 8 CEV

...so as to bring credit to the teaching about God our Savior in all they do verse 10 GNB

Make sure you earn everyone's respect. verse 15 CEV

When we live our lives in moderation, we will find great freedom. People should know we have nothing to hide. We will also find wisdom and earn respect, both that of men towards us and of men towards God, through our example.

Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity. 1 Timothy 4:2 NKJV


(1) James 3:17
(2) Matt. 6:4, 6, 18; Psalms 44:21


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Suzanne
Suzanne Williams Photography
Florida, USA

Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Isaiah 53:2-6 - Ronald Knox Bible

This is one of my favorite passages of scripture from the Ronald Knox translation of the Bible.


He will watch this servant of his appear among us,
unregarded as brushwood shoot,
as a plant in waterless soil;
no stateliness here, no majesty, no beauty
as we gaze upon him, to win our hearts.

Nay, here is one despised,
left out of all human reckoning;
bowed with misery,
and no stranger to weakness;
how should we recognize that face?
How should we take any account of him, a man so despised?

Our weakness and it was he who carried the weight of it,
our miseries, and it was he who bore them.
A leper, so we thought of him,
a man God had smitten and brought low;
and all the while it was for our sins he was wounded,
it was guilt of ours crushed him down;
on him the punishment fell that brought us peace,
by his bruises we were healed.

Strayed sheep all of us, each following his own path;
and God laid on his shoulders our guilt,
the guilt of us all.

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Suzanne
Suzanne Williams Photography
Florida, USA

Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

My Testimony

My testimony is really an ongoing thing. It began years ago and will continue to develop as I grow older. Up to this point, I have not felt free enough to share it except with a few close friends. I kept thinking that I needed to arrive at some as yet unknown point where I could definitively stand and say it was "all behind me." But recently I have come to realize I should have been able to say that all along. As time moves on my experiences will become richer, deeper, and more sure; the Word of God washing all the residue away. (2) I pray what I have been through, "in at one end and out at the other," will help someone else see just how big, how deep, and how wide the love and power of Christ really is. (1)

When I describe my upbringing, it sounds incredibly mundane. I was raised in a Christian household where we went to church at every opportunity. I attended local schools, got good grades, and graduated from high school with honors. I have never smoked anything or drunk any form of alcohol. In fact, my biggest offense would be a speeding ticket for going 30 in a 15 zone.

My father's parents were farmers who lived practically outside our back door. The only thing between our house and theirs was a short walk down a dirt lane lined with live oaks and rows of corn, tomatoes, and beans. You name it, they could grow it. I was the youngest with a multitude of cousins. We did all the normal southern family things.

My grandfather on the farm
My Grandfather

My mother's parents lived a city over. My grandfather was a church music minister. My grandmother, in my young eyes, was the best person ever. My brother and I were the only grandkids for many years and became a bit spoiled with all the attention. I say all of this simply to point out that even someone raised as I was with all the opportunities I was given, with all of God that was poured into me from the youngest age, and surrounded by family on every side, was not immune to making wrong decisions.

The wrong decisions I made began with my holding deep resentments. I am an introvert, and I have always tried to deal with things that upset me on my own. Even as a child, when I felt wronged, I bottled all the pain up inside and only voiced my feelings to myself. I thus spent years meditating on my anger. I thought I wouldn't hurt anyone so long as I kept it all to myself and didn't act on it. I didn't forgive and I most certainly didn't forget. My anger turned to bitterness and poisoned my soul. Dr. Martin Luther King once said, "Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate. violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction." I can express it no better than that.

It all climaxed in 2007 when I began having severe panic attacks. I had 2 or 3 every week. I will not go into a detailed definition of what panic attacks are. But as a brief explanation, they do not begin because you are afraid. The fear comes after the manifestation of the physical symptoms. I could be at a family dinner, visiting a local park, or just going out to supper and thinking no unpleasant thoughts when suddenly I'd begin to shake and tremble. I'd feel like I couldn't breathe; my chest would grow tight, as if all air had been cut off. I'd then become nauseous, dizzy, and so weak I couldn't walk or even stand. They always left me terribly confused and consumed with fear. As the year passed by, I became more and more afraid until I couldn't leave home. I couldn't go to the grocery store. I couldn't go to dinner. I couldn't eat. I was always afraid of what might happen, what scene I might make. "What if I" this. "What if I" that. I descended into a spiral of darkness, that eventually I couldn't see my way out of.

Panic attacks are greatly misunderstood by those who haven't had one. They thus become a "secret" problem that no one wants to admit they've suffered with. Outside of God, there is no hope in the medical world for a cure. I reached the point that year where I wanted a cure. I no longer wanted to survive the next attack, or to cover up the symptoms. I wanted to be free. I struggled for months without knowing what a panic attack was, before I finally did what I should have done from the start. I prayed. I cried out to God, who I still knew in my heart was bigger than "all of this", to show me the way out.

Now, I had to change a lot of things in my life to receive my healing, but it was the first two that I'd put down as the biggest steps. First, I had to admit I had a problem. I'd say this was THE hardest thing I've ever done. I had already spent a great portion of my life trying to cover all my problems. I once heard a preacher say, "If you need help, you need help." At this point, I knew I needed help. I came to realize that this was not something I could recover from in secret. And the freedom that came into my life from taking this first step was overwhelming. Often, it is the things we have refused to do that will bring the biggest salvation. I finally knew just how much people loved me, how much God loved me. The Bible says, "Faith...worketh by love." (5) I could have no faith, no belief for my total restoration, outside of first knowing how much I was loved. I didn't have to suffer alone. There were people who loved me enough to support me in my time of weakness. Love was a crack of light pushing into immense darkness.

The second step came when I at last saw the self-destruction of my years of anger. Pointedly, the Lord said to me, "Before you can receiving healing, you have to ask for forgiveness." I had hit rock bottom, and I was desperate. I wanted to be "normal" again. I wanted to stop planning each day around how afraid I might be. That was what I was doing. I'd think over and over again about how to avoid the fear consuming my life. "If I don't go there ever again, or there, or there, then I won't have a panic attack." My list of places to avoid was becoming very long. But I knew I didn't want to live that way, so I obeyed and asked for forgiveness. I forgave others and most of all, I forgave myself. I forgave myself for being weak, for making bad choices, and began to change my thought processes, to learn to love others and to let go when things don't go my way.

This is where my writings on self-control and forgetting come from. I have learned the power of one's thoughts, words, and actions the hard way. I lost control of myself and reaped loss of control. But what took me years to develop, did not correct itself overnight. It has been a slow process, one which I walk every day. "Opportunities to return" (6) come my way, but each time I say, "No." I am never going back there. I am never going back to where I was in 2007. If I have to love the most unlovable person, if I have to speak to large crowds of people, I'm going to do what the Lord said would walk me out of the darkness into His marvelous light. (7)

Healing came through many additional steps, to tell them all would take more pages than this already long blog could contain. It took daily meditation in the scriptures, reading the same verses again and again, daily listening to the same sermons over and over and over. It took the prayer of supportive Bible-believing friends. It took the patience of my spouse, to whom I owe the world. I've had to face my fears and go to those places that I was so afraid of. Often it was terrifying. But I can truthfully say, I am free. I have not had a panic attack since November of 2007. And it is because of nothing I have done to deserve it. When I was at the bottom, the Lord lifted me out.

(1) Romans 8:31-39
(2) Ephesians 5:26

(5) Gal. 5:6
(6) Heb. 11:16
(7) 1 Peter 2:9

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Suzanne
Suzanne Williams Photography
Florida, USA

Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Bible Thoughts: Don't Limit God

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. Hebrews 11:6

More often that we realize, we fall into the same trap as Job. We limit God's actions with our human understanding. When God finally addressed Job, notice His first words. "Who is this who darkens counsel by words without knowledge?" (1) Notice also Job's ultimate reaction, “Behold, I am vile; What shall I answer You? I lay my hand over my mouth. Once I have spoken, but I will not answer; Yes, twice, but I will proceed no further.” (2)

Hebrews 11:6 says that 2 things are required of us. We must first believe that God "is", then we must believe He desires to reward us. This is the essence of faith. Think of a young child who asks their parent for a pair of new shoes. Once the promise of purchase has been made, that child fully expects to receive new shoes. They haven't physically seen them. Yet, I don't know of a child who would suddenly begin to question the promise. "Are you SURE? Are you really ABLE?" No, they believe in the parents ability and their desire to fulfill the promise.

"But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, “Why have you made me like this?” Romans 9:19-21 NKJV

God is much bigger than our circumstances. There's not an instance in our lives that He has not provided a way out of. (3) For our every decision, for any questions we may have, He will always deliver the answer. (4) Jesus himself instructed us to ask anything. In fact, He said, "Ask and I will do it." (4) What is "anything"? Merriam-Webster defines it as "any such thing." Anything means anything!

The thing preventing us from receiving the answer is usually our own understanding. Proverbs 3:5-6 says, "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." How often do we take Almighty God, the Creator of heaven and earth, and make Him into what our human minds can wrap itself around? In effect, we make Him small, unwilling, and unable. But this is not what the Bible says! No, whenever I am up against a wall, I can rest assured that the problem is not with God, it is with me.

God is a big God! He is big in power, big in ability, big in desire, big in knowledge, and big in forgiveness. God IS, and God is a REWARDER. Take the limits off of what God can do!

(1) Job 38:2
(2) Job 40:4-5
(3) 1 Corinthians 10:13
(4) Psalms 91:15
(5) John 14:14 NKJV


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Suzanne
Suzanne Williams Photography
Florida, USA

Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Hymn Stories: Got Any Rivers

My mother has often sung this little song. It was in looking for the author for her that I came across its story on the web. What a blessed reminder of God's ability! It has been reprinted with the express permission of the author's son, Vic Eliason, and is expressed in his own words. The lyrics printed are as his father wrote them, though there are currently many versions of it and other verses.

My father is Oscar C. Eliason. Dad wrote the chorus in 1929. He was dying of TB in a Minneapolis hospital and an elderly minister came by one evening and prayer was offered. The next day be began to improve and he continued to improve to such an extent that the Doctors admitted that something out of the ordinary had happened. As he was getting better he saw an adv. in the Minneapolis Star Tribune by a construction company that used the slogan. He changed the words to:
Got any rivers you think are uncrossable
Got any mountains you can't tunnel through
God specializes in things thought impossible
He does the things others cannot do.
Because it spread from mouth to mouth it became altered in many interesting ways.

What a joy to know that this little chorus has touched and encouraged so many lives.

God Bless you.

Vic Eliason, Vice President
VCY America Radio Network


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Suzanne
Suzanne Williams Photography
Florida, USA

Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.


Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Bible Thoughts: Something To Think About

The scripture in John 17:24 states:

Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.

I want to draw your attention to the phrase "be with me where I am". Ask yourself this question. When Jesus prayed this prayer, where was he? Now, think not just in a physical sense, but what was he facing? What position in life was he in?

This scripture is part of a prayer Jesus prayed to the Father before entering the Garden of Gethsemane, before being betrayed, before being executed. The Bible tells us that He knew what He was facing. During the Passover celebration, Jesus had stated, "The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified." (1) And again in verse 27...

Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour. John 12:27

So why, you ask, "Why would He pray for me to be with Him?" Because just as He knew what was put before Him, He knew the sacrifice, He also knew the reward. In the verse we read previously, notice the phrase "that the Son of Man should be glorified." He knew that the "glorified" part would come. If we read into the next verse, we see further proof of this.

Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. John 12:24

The "fruit" is us! (2) It's every man who accepts Jesus as his Savior. The Seed was Jesus. (3) We find further proof of Jesus mindset in the book of Hebrews.

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2

Joy! Despite all that He knew, despite a cruel, humiliating death on a cross, despite physical pain and mental anguish, despite total separation from His Father, none of which He had yet endured, Jesus saw joy.

John 17 is a beautiful prayer and in much of it Jesus is praying for you and me. He repeatedly uses words like "for their sakes", "that they may be", and "that they might know". This is really something for us to think about, that Jesus would want us to be where He was. He was facing so much that is bad and painful and cruel, yet with such joy in His heart.

Hebrews 12:3 takes this thought yet one step further.

For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.

Consider Him. Think about Him. Think about the joy, the reward, the prize. (4)

That they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. 22 And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: 23 I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.

24 “Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. 25 O righteous Father! The world has not known You, but I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me. 26 And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.” John 17:21-26 NKJV


(1) John 12:23
(2) John 15:5
(3) Galatians 3:16

(4) 1 Corinthians 9:24; Philippians 3:13

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Suzanne
Suzanne Williams Photography
Florida, USA

Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.

Monday, July 6, 2009

I Need A Vacation!

At least, it feels like it. But for now, I have to content myself with views from the past. My two favorite places to go are the Longboat Key, Florida, area and the mountains of Georgia and North Carolina.

Sarasota, Florida
Sarasota, Florida

Sarasota Bay, Florida
Sarasota Bay, Sarasota, Florida

A Day At The Beach, Longboat Key, Florida
A Day At The Beach

Ah, the mountains!

Spring in the Smokies, Blue Ridge Parkway
Spring in the Smoky Mountains, Blue Ridge Parkway

Water, Water Everywhere, Anna Ruby Falls, Georgia
Water Water Everywhere, Anna Ruby Falls, Georgia

Perhaps this fall?

Autumn Leaves in the Appalachian Mountains
Autumn Leaves in the Appalachian Mountains, Georgia

Autumn Barn, Between Ellijay and Dawson City, Georgia
Autumn Barn, Between Ellijay and Dawsonville, Georgia

Where is your favorite vacation place?

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Suzanne

Suzanne Williams Photography
Florida, USA

Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Fascinating People: Irving Berlin

Irving Berlin is best known for writing songs such as "White Christmas", "There's No Business Like Show Business", and "Anything You Can Do". All in all, he wrote some 1,000 songs.

But did you know he couldn't read music? He couldn't. Having taught himself to play piano, Berlin played mostly the black keys. Later, he would have a piano constructed with a lever underneath the keyboard which effectively moved the keys. This enabled him to play what were normally "white key" notes on the black keys.

Irving Berlin was born in Siberia, Russia, to a Jewish family. His family immigrated to the United States in 1893 when he was 5. His father was a cantor, singing Jewish prayers in the synagogue, and also worked certifying kosher meat. Following his father's death in 1896, when he was 8, Berlin began doing odd jobs to earn money, including selling newspapers and "busking". Essentially he was a street performer working for tips. His first song was written for a cafe in which he was working as a singing waiter.

His song "White Christmas" was first recorded in 1942 and sold over 30 million copies. It was re-released in 1954 for the musical film of the same name. But the most recognized version today was sung by Bing Crosby in the film "Holiday Inn". It is currently the most recorded Christmas song of all time. Irving Berlin would win an Academy Award for the song as well as receive seven Oscar nominations over his lifetime.

Irving Berlin was married twice. His first wife died of pneumonia during a bout of typhoid fever just 5 months after their wedding. He wrote his song "When I Lost You" in her memory. His 2nd wife was an heiress of some considerable fortune and a Catholic. Their marriage was not condoned on either family's side and afterwards they were both "snubbed" by society. To support her, Berlin gave her the rights to his song "Always" from which she netted a considerable sum. They would have four children, three girls and one boy, Irving Berlin, Jr., who died as infant on Christmas Day.

Born in 1888, Irving Berlin died September 22, 1989. He was 101.



* http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irving_Berlin


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Suzanne
Suzanne Williams Photography
Florida, USA

Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Scripture On My Heart: Psalms 127:1

Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain. Psalms 127:1

I had a whole slew of things prepared to write about this scripture. The more I have thought on it recently, the more I have realized that it applies to so many ways in our lives. At the start, I wanted to point out how we must teach our children about things like modesty, respect, honor, and gratitude. But I have found in preparing this post that it is all much larger than that.

Except the Lord help me write this blog, it will not be received by the readers. Except the Lord show me where to be at a given moment in time, I will have missed that photograph. Except the Lord give me the pattern for the video I am going to make, it will not flow correctly. Except the Lord be at the center of every decision I make, every day of my life, it will all have been in vain. I don't want my life to have been in vain.

The best things I have done in this world have only come because He gave me the idea and guided me in their creation. When I created the video below, I woke up one morning with the entire design in my head. I saw every picture, every scripture reference, and knew exactly how it all fitted together. It wasn't something I had been meditating on recently or anything I had heard. In fact, I was in a hard place at the time, unable to see beyond my own discomfort. I cannot really take credit for it because it was His design and He gave it to me.

I AM



My entire reliance for everything I say or write is with Christ. It is so easy to forget and set Him aside in our daily lives. But we must do more than just turn to God when things get tough. It is by making our every decision through Him that we will find the most fulfillment when all is said and done. I'd rather be a housewife in Florida with Christ than the biggest superstar in the world and it all have been in vain. My true potential only comes from His ability in me.

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Suzanne
Suzanne Williams Photography
Florida, USA

Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.