This is a post I meant to make last week. I shot this with my iPhone 4S last week, Easter Sunday, right after our Easter Son Rise Worship service. Easter is a joyful celebration. We celebrate Our Lord and Savior, Jesus conquering death. I just love the smell of the flowers when we enter the Sanctuary on Easter morning. I really like the arrangement of the flowers around the foot of the cross, and the sunlight pouring in through the sky lights had a nice effect. This shot is straight out of the camera with no processing.
You may ask yourself, as I have asked myself many times, “why do we refer to this day as Good Friday, when it was the day Jesus was crucified?” We read in Mark 15:37-39,
And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way het breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was the Sont of God!”
This has always been a sad day for me as I think of all of the suffering Jesus endured on that cross. The agony he experienced, not only from the beating, the humiliation, and the nails, but the excruciating pain and burden he suffered by bearing all of the sins of all people for all time. These sins, our sins, caused Jesus to be separated from God, this no doubt was the most painful part of His ordeal. So, what is the good part you may be asking… The good part is that Jesus finished His mission. He did take all of our sins to the cross, suffered and died, so that all of our sins have been taken away. By His wounds we are healed. That is what makes Good Friday, good. The other good news is that the story doesn’t end here. Jesus defeated sin, death, and the devil when He died and was buried, then on the third day, He rose again and lives. Through our faith in Jesus, we have forgiveness of sins and eternal life. Thank you Jesus for loving me in spite of my sinful ways. Amen
I have never been able to read in the midst of distractions. I know others can tune everything out and focus on the book at hand, not me. I tend to read the same sentence over and over again, without comprehension. I need a quiet place to read, a place where the distractions are minimal. When I sit down to read God’s word, I am the same way, just Him and me; a nice quiet time to read, study, and reflect on the Word of God. I will usually read my Bible in the morning, before anyone else is up and moving. We should all take a few minutes to spend reading the Bible. When our computers or iPhones start acting up, the first thing the tech geeks tell you to do is, “try rebooting”, which normally involves powering down and restarting. Well, that applies to us too. Sometimes we need to reboot, power down, and spend some quiet time with God. Psalm 46, verse 10 tells us to, “Be still and know that I am God”. What better way to reboot, than to spend some quiet time with the One who knows us better than anyone; the Maker of Heaven and Earth, our Lord and Savior, Jesus.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John 1:1 ESV
My Bible is worn and torn, ragged around the edges, and there is a story there. I wish I could tell you that it is worn and torn from the many times I’ve opened it to read the Word of God; or it’s worn and torn because I take God’s Word with me everywhere I go. No, neither of those are the reason my Bible is worn and torn. I do read it, but not as often as I should. I have taken it with me, but not as often as I should. One time when I did take my Bible with me so I could read the Word of God while flying, I lost my Bible. When I arrive at my house and unpacked, my Bible was nowhere to be found. I remember having it in the airport after landing, but could not remember placing it back in my bag. I phoned the airport and spoke with someone in the lost and found department. They searched and then told me they were unable to find the Bible. Well, you can imagine my surprise when there was a knock on my door, about 3 weeks later. I answered the door and there was a representative from Bishop Airport holding my now worn, torn, and tattered Bible. Who knows where it had been. I like to think maybe it fell into the hands of someone truly in need of God’s Word, because the Lord knew that person needed to feel the love of God. I will never know, but I like my worn, torn, and tattered Bible.
Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the Lenten season. In Biblical times people would wear sackcloth and ashes as they repented, amended their ways to seek God’s forgiveness. During our Ash Wednesday Worship service we have ashes applied to our foreheads as we begin our Lenten journey. The Bible study and our Mid week Lenten sermons are centered around the theme of, “Our Suffering Savior” from the Book of Isaiah. Isaiah prophesies the life and suffering or our Lord and Savior, Jesus 700 years before His birth. Read the poetic prophecy from Isaiah, in the American Standard Version downloaded from Youversion. “13 Behold, my servant shall deal wisely, he shall be exalted and lifted up, and shall be very high.14 Like as many were astonished at thee (his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men),15 so shall he sprinkle many nations; kings shall shut their mouths at him: for that which had not been told them shall they see; and that which they had not heard shall they understand.
1 Who hath believed our message? and to whom hath the arm of Jehovah been revealed?2 For he grew up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.3 He was despised, and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and as one from whom men hide their face he was despised; and we esteemed him not.4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows; yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and Jehovah hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.7 He was oppressed, yet when he was afflicted he opened not his mouth; as a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and as a sheep that before its shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth.8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who among them considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living for the transgression of my people to whom the stroke was due?9 And they made his grave with the wicked, and with a rich man in his death; although he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.10 Yet it pleased Jehovah to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of Jehovah shall prosper in his hand.11 He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by the knowledge of himself shall my righteous servant justify many; and he shall bear their iniquities.12 Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he poured out his soul unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors: yet he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” Such poetic words from long ago, so beautiful to read and realize the love our Lord has for us. Thank you Jesus for giving your life for me, so that I have forgiveness.
Sunday, after worship I took out my iPhone and photographed the altar area of our church, Faith Lutheran in Bridgeport, MI. These verses come to mind, ““For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” (John 3:16, 17 NIV84)
From Wikipedia, “Introspection is the self-observation and reporting of conscious inner thoughts, desires and sensations. It is a conscious and purposive process relying on thinking, reasoning, and examining one’s own thoughts, feelings, and, in more spiritual cases, one’s soul. It can also be called contemplation of one’s self, and is contrasted with extrospection, the observation of things external to one’s self. Introspection may be used synonymously with and in a similar way to human self-reflection.”
So are we to learn from the self portrait? It seems strange to me, how I can look in the mirror each day and the man looking back at me is much the same as the 21 year old me, a long time ago; but when I see a self portrait, I ask myself, “who is that”? Do we see ourselves as forever young when we look in the mirror? And why should we be so concerned with our selves and our appearance? In Philipians, Paul tells us, ” 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”
We do need to monitor our selves, to make sure that we are being less self centered, more in tune to others needs, and how we can help with the tools and gifts God has given us. I believe that is where the introspection comes into play, when we ask our selves, “who am I, and what are my strengths, how can I help”?
The self portrait may help us to see who we really are and how we appear to others. Our attitudes are reflected in our portraits and each picture is a captured moment in time.
This Project 365 is a challenge for me. Through the first week I have managed to post everyday except one, Friday. I totally forgot about posting and then woke up early Saturday morning and posted the photo of the Christmas tree. My goal is to upload a new photo each day, hoping that this project will help me develop an appreciation and awareness of photo subjects all around me. There are so many subjects, no need to journey to a far away exotic land, when I can venture out into my own backyard, or even within my house. I have been practicing my lighting technique using strobes. I recently purchased a soft box which diffuses the light of the flash. I used 1 flash (SB800) in a soft box, with a reflector in this photo. I really like the effect. I have learned a lot about lighting by following the Strobist blog. There is a wealth of information on this blog. If you want to learn more about affordable lighting for your photos, check it out.
Christmas has come and gone, New Years day has come and gone, and all of the Christmas decorations have been taken down, placed in their plastic containers and stowed away until next year. But we just couldn’t bring ourselves to throw our Christmas tree away. We love the Frasier Fir and it’s short, soft needles. The Frasier Fir has been our choice for Christmas trees the last 11 years. So, we have begun a new tradition, instead of throwing out the tree after all the decorations have been removed; we strip it down until only the lights remain, and then we place it on the deck to be enjoyed for another month. This makes a beautiful night light and also helps us to remember the Joy of Christmas and God’s gift to all of us; the birth of His only Son, Jesus. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” John 3:16,17 NIV