Monday, February 28, 2011

My book now available in ebook format!

My book, Fearless, is now available in ebook format! Visit the link below for ordering information. Paperback copy coming soon!

$12.00
Fearless

Fearless-Cover-Front

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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.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

What would Jesus do?

Jesus is, to put it simply, our role model. Looking at His life we see things He did that we must emulate. There are many, each worth discussion, but here are four I believe are key.

He loved God. He hated sin.


And the Jews' passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. (14) And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting: (15) And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers' money, and overthrew the tables; (16) And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father's house an house of merchandise. (17) And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up. (Jn 2:13-17)
Both Joshua 1:8 and Psalm 1:2 tell us to meditate on God's Word "day and night." David in Psalm 63:6 states, "When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches." Something we meditate on becomes our primary focus. We think about it all the time.

Athletes will so absorb themselves in their sport that it becomes all they do to the exclusion of everything else. They adjust what they eat to better their performance. They adjust their schedule to allow more time to exercise and practice their craft. In this same way, God's Word needs to get all our attention. We measure everything we think, speak, or do by what is contained in it.

When Jesus entered the temple, he had just left the marriage feast at Cana. God's power flowing through Him turned the water into wine. It's no wonder then, with the memory of that still in His thinking, that He was so angry when He entered the temple and found the money changers there. His zeal, His ardor or fervency, for God and against sin, consumed Him. He would not compromise His faith for the sin of the present day.

We too must refuse compromise. As your mother used to say, "If they asked you to jump off a cliff, would you do it?" Sin is sin, folks, no matter how popular that sin as become. Jesus loved God, but He hated sin. Therefore, so do I! I would do what Jesus did.

He guarded His words.

For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: (22) Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: (23) Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously. (1Pe 2:21-23)
Jesus knew when to speak and when not to speak. He understood the power of His words to affect His life and the lives of those around Him. When the devil tempted Him in the wilderness, Jesus spoke only the Word of God. (Mt 4:1-10) When He stood before Pilate, we are told He gave no answer, no defense. (Mt 27:14)

Looking at these incidents separately, we see several important things. First, the temptation of the devil was a mental struggle. The Bible in Hebrews 4:15 states that Jesus "was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin." In short, He's been there. He knows how we feel. How many times have we struggled with the thoughts that come into our head? And what is our greatest defense against them? It is the same defense as Jesus gave at that moment. He said, "It is written." Ephesians 6 tells us to take up God's armor, which armor includes the Word of God as the sword of our offense. (v11,17) The Word of God spoken in our mouths combats the lies the devil places into our thoughts. Jesus didn't discuss His options with the devil. He didn't repeat what the devil had said. He didn't write it down. He didn't murmur or complain about it. Instead, He spoke the Word and the devil left!

On the other hand, as Jesus stood before Pilate being accused falsely, He said nothing at all. (Mt 27:12) I used to think this was strictly to fulfill what He knew was the plan of God for His life. Yet I believe now there was a deeper purpose. Jesus refused to allow His words to be the condemnation of any man. Against even those who were there to falsely accuse Him, He wouldn't offer defense. If you think about that, how could He? How could the Lamb of God, come to die for all of man's sin, stand there and argue, "What he just said about me is a lie!" In the face of extreme adversity and the sting of man's tongues, Jesus shut up.

There is a lesson to be learned in these. There are times when we must speak God's Word to combat the devil and other times when we must hush to avoid bringing shame on people. This is what Jesus did. This is what we must also do.

He forgave.
Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots. (Lk 23:34)
We look to Jesus as our example of greatest forgiveness, yet oftentimes we don't do what is required to forgive. Thinking back again to the story of Pilate. When Jesus didn't answer to accuse the false speakers, He also refused to walk in unforgiveness. This is evidenced by His words in Luke 23:34 where He forgave everyone. Hebrews 12:4 states, "Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin." This is the sobering truth. We haven't. Nothing we come up against will ever compare with the struggle of Christ on that day. Therefore, we should walk as He did, in forgiveness.

I heard a preacher say in speaking about the story of man with the palsy that when Jesus said, "Whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Rise up and walk?" He was describing the SAME POWER available to do both. I admit I never understood Jesus' statement. But I see it now! The same power that forgives, heals. We cannot cut short one without it affecting the other. This is what Jesus did. He forgave, looking for His own eternal redemption and the "joy set before Him." (Heb 12:2)

We must also forgive, and we forgive as much through our speech as our actions. To move forward in our lives, we stop looking back at what was or might have been. This is true forgiveness. (Heb 11:15)

He gave.

And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people. (Mt 4:23)
In Jesus' life we see physical healing, mental healing, and the provision of money. He healed the blind, strengthed withered limbs, and restored men who were consumed with leprosy. However, he also delivered people not in their right mind. He brought them to a place of sanity and peace. (Mk 5:15;Lk 8:35) There are so many stories like this in the Bible.

Yet Jesus' giving wasn't limited to physical healings. He also gave prosperity. He turned the water into wine. (Jn 2:7) He multiplied the loaves and the fishes, not once but twice. (Mt 14:17;Mark 6:38) He caused Peter to catch his greatest boat-load of fish ever. (Lk 5:4)

But here is the fantastic truth! Jesus said we would do "greater works" than these! That's "GREATER!" (Jn 14:12) When we see a need, like Jesus, we do what we must to fill it. This could be prayer; it could be the laying on of hands; or it could be a financial gift. Whatever the need, we use our faith to help others to the same extent we use it to help ourselves, and this pleases God. (Heb 11:6)

What would Jesus do? Like Him we hear, believe, and obey God's Word. We love God, but hat sin. We use our words as healing and forgiveness. We strive to help others. And in the process, we come out clean vessels fitted for the Master's use. That's what Jesus did, so that's what we must do.

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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, February 23, 2011

Foundations: The Spirit Man

Recently, I typed these truths up for a friend, and while it was fresh in my thinking, I thought it would be good to also share them with you. My reason for doing so comes from the Word of God. In 1 Peter 3:15, we are instructed to "be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you."

Therefore, ask yourself, "If someone questioned me today on what I believed and required proof of it, would I have an answer?" For this reason alone, we must continually meditate on the foundational beliefs of our Christian faith.


Spirit, Soul, and Body

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. (Ge 1:27)
We were created in the image of God. But what does that mean? What is God's image? We find the answer in the book of John.

God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. (Jn 4:24)
God is a Spirit, so if we are made in His image, then we are also a spirit. The verse here in John contains another foundational truth, it says to worship Him, whether it is through our actions, prayer, praise, singing, whatever it is, we must do so in spirit.

Jesus spoke of this in His conversation with Nicodemus. Nicodemus, you will recall, had inquired how man could be "born again." In his thinking, he equated this idea to returning to physical birth, but this was not what Jesus was speaking of.
Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. (Jn 3:5-6)
When Jesus said "born of water," He was referring to our fleshly birth. This is evidenced by His following words, "That which is born of the flesh is flesh." However, notice He also referred to being "born of the Spirit." This is salvation. But to know what this means, to fully understand salvation, we must first know the make-up of man and return to the story of Adam.

Man is a triune being. He is a spirit, has a soul, and lives in a body. We find this spoken of throughout the Bible. In 1 Thessalonians 5:23, Paul states, "I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless." We read this again in Hebrews 4:12 where it refers to, "the dividing asunder of soul and spirit." Something that is divided is made separate from the other object. And then we find a reference to Adam in 1 Corinthians 15:45. "And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit." Here again, we see the words "spirit" and "soul" being used.

But what does it mean "a living soul" and "a quickening spirit"? For this we turn back to the story of the creation of man in Genesis. God placed Adam in the garden to tend it and gave him a helpmeet in Eve, but He gave them specific instructions to obey.

But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. (Ge 2:17)
He said, "Don't eat of the tree or you will die!" Yet we know after they did eat of the tree, they didn't die physically. Adam himself lived to be 120 years old. (Ge 5:6). We also know they did not die mentally because they continued to live and have children. Therefore, the death was a spiritual death.

This is corroborated by the Scripture. Remember the fig leaves? When Adam and Eve ate of the fruit, when they disobeyed, suddenly they saw themselves as they were. They became aware of their nakedness. (Ge 3:7,10) This happened because of spiritual death. It is also the reason they were both cast from the garden itself. It is the reason for the curse placed upon them in Genesis 3:14-19.

Salvation

There is good news though! From that very moment, God set into motion a plan to redeem man, to return him to spiritual life in God. This plan culminated in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus speaks this in Matthew 5:17.

Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. (Mt 5:17)
Jesus came to fulfill the plan of God. All of the law, the tabernacle, the temple, the sacrifices, were but types or figures of what Jesus came to do. (Heb 9:9) Jesus completed it. His sacrifice was the final sacrifice.

For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: 4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. (Ro 4:3-4)
Salvation, being "born again", returns man's spirit to a place of life, light, and fellowship with God. (Jn 3:16) This was God's plan all along. He sent Jesus as the last Adam to "quicken", to make alive again, our spirit man. (Eph 2:1,5) Now, we can worship God in spirit, in His image, and He can speak directly to our heart. This is the love of God, that Christ came to put us back where we should be in the first place. He came to give us eternal, spiritual life.

If you enjoyed this teaching, drop me a line and say so. I always appreciate hearing from others.

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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.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Great Faith

The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed (Mt 8:8).
Do you have that kind of faith? Faith that requires only one word?

"Just speak, Lord. That's all I need. I don't need you to walk all the way to my house. No one has to lay hands on me. I don't have to touch your garment. Just speak."

It's mind-blowing, really, if you think about it. Even the woman with the issue of blood desired a touch. (Mt 9:20) Jairus asked Jesus to walk home with him. (Lk 8:41) But not the centurion, he recognized the authority behind Jesus' work.

For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it (Mt 8:9).
"Just speak the word. I see your authority. You speak it, it'll happen."

The Scripture says Jesus marvelled. Jesus, the Christ, the Anointed One, the Savior, the sinless Lamb of God, marvelled at the faith of a ROMAN! Not one of His own people. Not someone from the house of Israel. Not a religious leader. A Roman!

When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel (Mt 8:10).
GREAT faith. Greater than all of Israel. That is pretty amazing!

Can He say that of you? Does He say it of me? Am I still out chasing speakers, church groups, manifestations? Or do I pray, quietly saying, "Just speak the word only."

The Bible says with faith the size of a mustard seed, we can move an entire tree. (Mt 17:20;Lk 17:6) Through faith-filled words, we can shift a mountain out of its place. (Mk 11:23)

Speak the word only, Lord. Speak the word. I believe.

And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour (Mt 8:13).

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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.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Song: Psalm 91

I wanted to share this worship song sung at my church, Life Church, Auburndale, Florida. It was written by the two people singing it and is based on Psalm 91. It really blessed me. Enjoy!



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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.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Lake Morton and Hollis Gardens, Lakeland, Florida

For those of you who only follow me on my blog, I have a few new pictures. I often forget to post new things here, and for that I apologize sincerely.

I had to run my daughter to a friend's house and so stopped at a local lake and public garden to snap a few photographs. My favorite shot would be this top of the seagull. It is strictly luck because I literally aimed and snapped without regard for the results. I love it when things come together!

Seagull In-Flight, Lake Morton, Lakeland, Florida

And here I am again with the seagulls! This is my second favorite, namely because it reminds me of that scene in the animated film "Finding Nemo" where the seagulls all chant, 'Mine, mine, mine."

Mine, Mine, Mine, Lake Morton, Lakeland, Florida

The public garden is in my birthplace, Lakeland, Florida. It is a popular spot for weddings. It seems there is always someone there taking portrait photographs while I just wander around and snap shots of the flowers. These next few photographs are from that location.

Hollis Gardens, Lakeland, Florida
Hollis Gardens, Lakeland, Florida

Bismark Palms
Bismark Palms, Hollis Gardens, Lakeland, Florida

Popcorn Cassia
Popcorn Cassia, Hollis Gardens, Lakeland, Florida

To view the entire set of photographs visit - http://outdoors.webshots.com/album/560491546RCZxHI?start=48.


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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, February 6, 2011

The Luck of the Draw

I read a photography article a few days ago that I particularly liked. It speaks to my philosophy about photography. For me, photography is about learning. It is knowing what to do in any situation to get the best shot. As the article stated, you move out from getting the "lucky shot" into making deliberate, knowledgeable images.

Nothing annoys me worse than someone posting a string of bad photographs with either an excuse about why they are so bad (and being posted anyway) or a complete lack of realization that they are so bad and no desire to make them better. Sure, take fifty shots of the same sunset and you might get one that's good, but how about instead taking a single, excellent shot from the get-go? It makes a difference to me to know the photographer is making an effort to grow.

Then there is the other side of the coin. The semi-professional to professional photographers who have no time for the little guy. To be entirely truthful here (and isn't that what blogs are for?) I delayed buying a DSLR for years because I didn't want to become what I have seen in the DSLR photographers around me. Even the major magazines have adopted this philosophy and for the most part, greatly neglect teaching the person with the point-and-shoot. Their magazines contain pages and pages of articles about choosing the right lens (which obviously doesn't apply to the point-and-shoot photographer), using expensive software that most don't own, or traveling to locations that many cannot afford.

I started photography with a point-and-shoot. I still have one in the closet that I dearly love. It helped me create some of my favorite photographs, and I remain firm in my belief that it is not the camera that creates the images, but the photographer. It is what he or she knows and can implement that makes the difference. (How about some articles on taking good vacation photos? Or making the most of photography at home? Or photographing a family dinner? I mean, really, I am not going to Africa any time soon!)

Good photographs are created by people who know something about photography. Good photographers can tell you what they did to take the photograph. Yes, there will always be pictures that come as the "luck of the draw." I have some like that myself. But behind even those, I know what settings I used and what the camera was doing to capture that image. Ask me where I was and what I was thinking, and I can tell you.

I personally have never learned enough. I never know everything I need to know. Instead, I learn from those around me. And I, in turn, hope they learn something from me.

This image was taken with my very first digital camera, a Polaroid PDC 640.
Pastureland, Lakeland, Florida

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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.

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