Excitement and anticipation builds as the time draws near for the 2017 North Carolina Family Encouragement Weekend (FEW) Conference! Have you heard yet what the theme will be?

In a culture that is consistently rejecting the principles and truth of God’s Word, there is no better time to take to heart the admonition of Ephesians 6:13, “Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”

Thus the 2017 FEW Conference theme, “Stand alone with Christ”!

In preparation for the Conferences, I have been meditating on what the Scriptures have to say about fifteen different, Christian-living-related questions that I, as a follower of Christ, would benefit from having an answer to at the drop of a hat. For my own good, if for nothing else! Questions like, “sometimes I need a little break; is there anything wrong with watching a movie to relax?” or “how do you deal with temptation?” or “there is a certain girl that I am attracted to; how do I know if that attraction is of God?”

So, I suppose that it was because this theme of “standing alone” was swirling around in my head that this random picture I was editing the other day popped out to me. The tree was sorta standing there all by itself. Standing alone, you might say.

130923-JAS-5760_Alabama Hills, California, USA_Canon EOS 5D Mark II 24 mm 1-60 sec at f - 11 ISO 200

Standing Alone
Alabama Hills, Lone Pine, California
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A few years ago I had the opportunity to drive through the Alabama Hills area just outside of Lone Pine, California. It’s a famous spot for filming movies due to it’s beautiful yet singular geologic uniqueness, and is thus a fantastic spot for landscape photography too.

I felt like a little kid again climbing around on all those fantastic rocks! I hopped from one subject to the next just as gleefully as I hopped from rock to rock. There were plenty of interesting things to take pictures of. The lone tree wasn’t an exception. It first caught my eye from pretty far away and this was my first composition from where I was perched on a pile of rocks:

130923-JAS-5734_Alabama Hills, California, USA_Canon EOS 5D Mark II 70 mm 1-50 sec at f - 11 ISO 200

I liked the path leading out to the tree and the depth created by the rocks up close on the left.

I moved in a little closer and tried a vertical shot with the unique rocks in the foreground.

130923-JAS-5745_Alabama Hills, California, USA_Canon EOS 5D Mark II 58 mm 1-60 sec at f - 11 ISO 200

I was very satisfied with my shots, but of course I kept looking for more possibilities. Stepping in close, I noticed the sun shining through the tree and painting the foreground brush a nice yellow color. “Perfect for a sunburst”, I thought, so I experimented with a few different compositions. Here’s one of them:

130923-JAS-5755_Alabama Hills, California, USA_Canon EOS 5D Mark II 24 mm 1-200 sec at f - 11 ISO 200

Really, just about any picture taken in that fantasy land could be considered a great shot, but I think the centered composition turned out best.

As it turned out, backlighting on this subject turned out to be the most interesting, but it’s of interest to note how different the tree looked from other angles. Here’s the same tree from the side:

130923-JAS-5768_Alabama Hills, California, USA_Canon EOS 5D Mark II 28 mm 1-60 sec at f - 11 ISO 200

And here it is from the back, believe it or not. Looks more like a bush from this angle, doesn’t it?

130923-JAS-5770_Alabama Hills, California, USA_Canon EOS 5D Mark II 67 mm 1-60 sec at f - 11 ISO 200

It’s amazing how differently the same subject can look from different perspectives.

Same thing with standing alone. Everyone has their own perspectives on the ethical issues of our day. And the position that one person takes could sure look odd to others who are looking at that same issue from a different perspective. We all are standing for something, and what we stand for will be perceived differently by different people at different times. But what are we standing alone for? Our own personal perspective? or Christ’s perspective?

It’s important that we stand alone with Christ. My perspective may change over time, or with the culture, or with my mentors . . . but Christ and God’s Word never change. Let us seek daily—wholeheartedly!—to abide in Christ, conform our lives to His will for our lives, and stand without compromise on the ground in which he would have us planted.

So, let’s apply this to the question I asked earlier: “Sometimes I need a little break. What’s wrong with watching a movie to relax?” . . .

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