Posted in creation, theology

Following the North Star: a Sailing Story

By Elizabeth Prata

blog china doll

I lived on a sailboat for two years. We made passage from Maine to the Bahamas and back, twice. For much of the time along the eastern Seaboard, we traveled the Intracoastal Waterway, a series of connected rivers, bays, and sounds that allowed for passage inside the landform instead of the open ocean. Though, we also made overnight passages on the ‘outside’ too.

It was a fun and interesting experience, a different way of living. Vagabonds, unfettered from the workaday concerns and free to dwell neither here nor there. It also taught me much about the natural world, and who I was. I wasn’t saved during those years, and the experience of living in harmony directly IN nature opened my eyes to the fact that there was a God who created all this; the seas currents, lands, skies, and the stars.

The Bahamas is an island country. It is made up of over 700 islands, and likely many more uncounted, strung out from northwest to southeast in the Atlantic starting at mid-Florida and extending down to mid-Cuba. Cuba actually isn’t our nearest ocean neighbor, The Bahamas is. West End is only 44 nautical miles from Boca Raton. To get there by boat, you must cross the Gulf Stream, that mighty mama of ocean currents.

Well, we did, and we enjoyed the ‘blue water’ of the Bahamas for a season, hopping from island to island to sample Bahamian life to learn of their history, and just relax on a boat that looked like it was floating on air, the sea was so clear.

One particular passage stays in my memory. To go from New Providence Island, where Nassau is, to the Abacos, a larger island string just north of New Providence, you cross New Providence Channel (deep water) and head due north. The mariner must leave at dusk in order to make it to the entry into the island string at dawn. This is so you can cross the coral reef channel safely without the sun in one’s eyes. At dawn, the sun will be behind you and you can see the razor sharp coral that if you run over, will slice your boat and you’ll be in the drink before you know it. So, this meant a night passage. This was OK since most of it was over the deep Atlantic.

Having made some night passages before, we were prepared. We left the cozy anchorage at dusk, sliding out from the arm of land that protected us and turned our compass heading due north.

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Seeing the stars over the ocean twinkle and glitter at night is magical. We look up through our sails, through the spreaders. A spreader is a spar on a sailboat used to deflect the shrouds to allow them to better support the mast. Shrouds are the pieces of rigging that extend down from the spreader ends to the deck and help hold up the mast.

As the boat rolls along, we look up through the rigging to see the carpet above us, littered with diamonds, peeking in and out of the cloud cover, or starkly winking at us through clear skies. We notice one particular star, the North Star AKA Polaris. It is at the end of the handle of the constellation known as the Little Dipper. It’s a unique and important star.

The reason Polaris is so important is because the axis of Earth is pointed almost directly at it. During the course of the night, Polaris does not rise or set, but remains in very nearly the same spot above the northern horizon year-round while the other stars circle around it.

If we put our right spreader tip at the North Star we could maintain a north compass heading. It was fun to navigate by the stars instead of the compass set in the binnacle where the steering wheel was and the technology blinking at the nav table below. Doing this as we rolled along in the night sea allowed for some pretty majestic and pondering thoughts. Where did the stars come from? Why are there so many? Why doesn’t Polaris move? Do the stars know us? Are we just an insect moving along on the earth or the sea as the unfeeling and unknowing stars go their way in the sky, night after night? What a gulf between us!

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
    the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
4 what is man that you are mindful of him,
    and the son of man that you care for him?
(Psalm 8:3-4)

As an ignorant pagan, I was asking the same things that have been asked by others. See, even the ignorant pagan knows there is a God. (Romans 1:18-20). Everyone knows there is God, because God made it plain to us that He exists and that He made everything we see.

Barreling along on a tiny yacht in a big ocean, under an even bigger sky, the night air cooling my skin and the stars brightening by the moment, I looked up…and wondered. If there is a God, how can I know Him? Who am I?

Polaris doesn’t move. Polaris exists, stays motionless, and all the other stars swirl around it.

Jesus is our pole-star. He never changes, He remains enthroned, while all of creation bows to Him. All our motions, our travels, wanderings, meanderings, eventually bring us all to Him- saved or unsaved. How can I know God, I’d asked? Jesus descended to us. He made Himself known.

He died on the cross and was resurrected as the sacrifice God demanded for sin. I am eternally grateful I know Him and I will meet Him on God’s terms, as a saved sinner, and not on my own sinful terms, as a wandering yachtsman, curious about Him but living in sin and loving it. In that case, I would be destroyed, sent to hell for payment of those sins.

But little did I know on that night, wondering about the sky and Who made it, that I would someday be given grace to be forgiven and enfolded into His kingdom to forever circle around Him, the unchanging, eternal, unique star, the God-Man Jesus.

Posted in encouragement, theology

You say potato, I say potato: Feminism and the Younger Teaching the Elder

By Elizabeth Prata

Rachel Janovic (@lizziejank), put out a 4-min video on encroaching feminism, obedience, submission, and loving our homes. She specifically named Aimee Byrd and @BethMooreLPM as bringers of feminism and disobedience to scripture.


Beth Moore snarkily replied with a tweet and a photo.


@canonpress and Rachel Jankovic then issued a 2-minute video reply to Moore’s photo. It was brilliant.


@BethMooreLPM and her feminist hordes will not win (unless they submit to the Bible’s precepts for obedience and women’s roles.)

As for Moore, you say potato I say potato. It’s too little, too late. She has spent a lifetime in her career of writing and traveling. The Atlantic’s lengthy story on her stated flatly that Moore is “obsessively focused on writing”, traveled so much when her children were little that her children “ate a lot of takeout”, and that her husband picked up home duties. They mention her “publishing career” and her “writing career”, but not her ‘mothering career’. Instead, the writers noted that Moore “balanced motherhood with demanding professional ambitions.”

For a biblical women submissive to her designated role, her ambition should be wifehood/motherhood only, and nothing should compete with that. That was Jankovic’s point.

Allowing personal ambitions to encroach into Godly roles and even compete with them means one has formed her own god and succumbed to the Genesis 3:16b curse and Genesis 4’s warning that sin is crouching at the door and desires to have you. A woman’s ambition is to serve God, in the ways HE has outlined, not the ways we personally desire if those desires are against scripture (and scripture tells us those desires will be).

As for Moore, one look at her face and demeanor will show you instantly what a lifetime of rebellion against God will do to you. It’s interesting that a woman like Moore with 938,700 followers, almost a million, knows and cares what a woman with 3500 followers says about her. As an older women, Moore is supposed to be-

reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. (Titus 2:3-5)

It’s pretty sad that here the younger is teaching the older, and the older woman is not responding well. It is a serious, serious thing to rebel against God. One of the outcomes is that His word is reviled, as the verse says. Beth Moore has brought reproach upon Jesus every day of her life since she began teaching men and never stopped, and has only added other sins to her growing pile.

Ladies, I know that home life is sometimes hard. Scrubbing, cooking for hubby, picking up endless toys, changing diapers, wiping noses, isn’t the most glamorous job in the world. We often feel marginalized, that we are missing out, and we’re lonely at times. But it is the most important job in the world. It is a high calling, one that doesn’t show instant rewards, but offers long-term benefits for us all.

Then our sons in their youth will be like well-nurtured plants, and our daughters will be like pillars carved to adorn a palace. (Psalm 144:12)

Fulfill your ministry, model the role with integrity, love the Lord, serve the home, and reap glorious rewards when Jesus looks you in the eye and says “Well done, good and faithful woman.”

Further Reading

What does the Bible say about Christian Mothers?

God’s High Calling for Women


Posted in theology, word of the week

Word of the Week- Fruit of the Spirit, Self-Control

By Elizabeth Prata

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23).

In past essays, I explored the previous characteristics in the verse, from the first, joy, to gentleness, the second to last. Now we look at self-control.

In a previous essay it was noted that the 9 characteristics Paul outlines in the verse can be grouped by three threes. Continue reading “Word of the Week- Fruit of the Spirit, Self-Control”

Posted in discernment, theology

Naming Names. Repeatedly.

By Elizabeth Prata

I liked this article a lot. (linked below). It was balanced, noting the fact that some sites make a cottage industry of naming wrong things on the internet but the noting the importance and purpose of doing it right. She diminished her credibility somewhat by including a well-known hateful discernment ministry in the footnotes on the ‘good side’, but the article itself was terrific.

In it, the author made an interesting side trip into history, noting Athanasius’ struggle with battling false doctrine. She showed from scripture how it’s the duty of every Christian to be on the alert for false doctrine and the false teachers who bring it. She also addressed the question that has been proposed to me of late, when to stop battling a celebrity false teacher and just go my way. (Answer: never).

Is the error being propagated publicly? It must be refuted publicly — in the pulpit, in print, and in person. Does it rear its ugly head after it has already been defeated? It must again be refuted, however many times it takes. Does that sound fatiguing? Discouraging? Like a losing battle? It is.

But that is the call — to defend the faith once delivered to the saints. Whenever and wherever new, or worse, old repackaged heretical ideas gain cultural ascendancy, and the number and flavor are ripe for the picking, they must be battled because they are still wrong.

The author also stressed the importance of being art of a church body and submitted to its authority, of being properly equipped, and resisting pride and arrogance. I recommend the article,especially if you’re involved in discernment online in any way, something which I am and I’m unapologetic about. The Holy Spirit gives out the spiritual gift of discernment and always remember it is a gift. I intend to use it to the best of the ability I have in His strength and for Him both online and in my church, even and especially when it means naming names. Even the name of certain celebrity female preachers who regularly claim to hear from God. 🙂

I recommend the article.

Naming Names: Why It’s OK (and Necessary) to Call Out False Teachers and Fugitives from Church Justice by Name


Further Reading:

MacArthur sermon, A Call for Discernment

MacArthur blog, Naming Names

Buice, Matthew 18 and the Universal Church

Challies, Matthew 18 in a Shrinking World

Wretched, Christians must get over their fear of pointing out false teachers

Posted in encouragement, theology

Things are hard. Jesus is there

For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. John 1:16

This week I’ve been praying for and struggling with the sad circumstances that have been presented to so many of my sisters online and friends in real life too. People are going through hard things, very hard. I mourn with them and for them, sometimes with tears. Through reliance on the Holy Spirit, they have been persevering, even praising God, but it’s difficult times for many of us. Continue reading “Things are hard. Jesus is there”

Posted in creation, theology

The Amazing Natural World

By Elizabeth Prata

We had a dinosaur traveling museum interactive exhibit come to our school. Kids are so fascinated with dinosaurs. He showed them a tooth from a spinosaurus and a megalodon tooth. Lots of oohs and ahhs, lol. Those teeth were huge! The man was very knowledgeable and spoke at the kids’ level and in an encouraging way, too. It was a good event. Continue reading “The Amazing Natural World”

Posted in potpourri, theology

Prata Potpourri: archaeological discoveries, riding a camel, lost gift certificate, how to open a book, more

By Elizabeth Prata

I went on an archaeological dig once. It was in Tuscany, Italy. We were trying to find structures that would help date the land and buildings of this particular property. Its owner, an Italian Count, was hoping it would date back to Charlemagne. It turned out I made a significant discovery, one they hadn’t expected! They became soooo excited when the structure I was digging became known once again to the light of day. What did I discover? What was so exciting? A latrine! Continue reading “Prata Potpourri: archaeological discoveries, riding a camel, lost gift certificate, how to open a book, more”

Posted in ecclesiastes, theology

Moondust, or, Dust to Dust?

By Elizabeth Prata

I have Netflix and I enjoy watching the series called The Crown. It’s a fictionalized-kind-of-realistic peek into the Royal Family of Queen Elizabeth II from 1947 to 1969 (so far). Future seasons are supposed to cover the time of her reign into the 21st century. It is a praised series for its acting, cinematography, and relatively accurate portrayal of the Royal Family and the historical incidents they became involved in. Continue reading “Moondust, or, Dust to Dust?”

Posted in encouragement, theology

The Sand and the Rock

By Elizabeth Prata

I grew up in The Ocean State, Rhode Island. Yes, it’s small, really small. You’re never far from the ocean. My grandparents had a summer house on Narragansett Bay and we were there constantly in the summer, every weekend. When I got older my mother let me ride my bike the 3 miles to their house. I’d spend all day in the water or on the sand. Continue reading “The Sand and the Rock”

Posted in theology

Word of the Week: Fruit of the Spirit, Faithfulness

By Elizabeth Prata

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23).

The word we’re focusing on this week inside the fruit of the Spirit list is- faithfulness.

As a reminder, the fruit of the Spirit is love. All other fruit stems from that one fruit. There is one fruit of the Spirit, it isn’t a plural. It’s one bundle.

fruit goodness verse 1

The Greek word in this verse for faithfulness is pistis. Helps Word Studies explains,

pístis (from 3982/peithô, “persuade, be persuaded”) – properly, persuasion (be persuaded, come to trust); faith.

Faith/pistis) is always a gift from God, and never something that can be produced by people. In short, “faith” for the believer is “God’s divine persuasion” – and therefore distinct from human belief (confidence), yet involving it. The Lord continuously births faith in the yielded believer so they can know what He prefers, i.e. the persuasion of His will (1 Jn 5:4).

Pistis in secular antiquity referred to a guarantee (warranty). In Scripture, faith is God’s warranty, certifying that the revelation He inbirthed will come to pass.

Faith (4102/pistis) enables the believer to know God’s preferred-will (cf. J. Calvin; see 2307/thelçma).

Reflection: Faith is only (exclusively) given to the redeemed. It is not a virtue that can be worked up by human effort.


Ligonier Devotional: Goodness and Faith

Faith is another fruit of the Spirit in our lives (Gal. 5:22). But when the Apostle refers to faith, he speaks not merely of “believing in God.” Paul also calls us to “believe God.” Believing in God is not that remarkable — even demons do that. What the Lord wants is a people who trust in His promises alone (James 2:14–26).

GotQuestions: Fruit of the Spirit- What is Faithfulness?

Faithfulness is believing that God is Who He says He is and continuing in that belief despite the vagaries of life. Functionally, that means we trust what God says in the Bible, and not necessarily what the world or our own eyes tell us. We trust He will work out everything for good. We trust He will work His will in us. And we trust that our situation on earth is nothing compared to our future reward in heaven. The only way we can have such faith is by the Holy Spirit’s influence. He testifies to the truth and impels us to seek God. The Spirit makes us faithful.

Arthur W. Pink:

Faith endures as seeing Him who is invisible (Heb. 11:27); endures the disappointments, the hardships, and the heart-aches of life, by recognizing that all comes from the hand of Him who is too wise to err and too loving to be unkind. But so long as we are occupied with any other object than God Himself, there will be neither rest for the heart nor peace for the mind. But when we receive all that enters our lives as from His hand, then, no matter what may be our circumstances or surroundings—whether in a hovel or prison-dungeon, or at a martyr’s stake—we shall be enabled to say, ” The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places” (Ps. 16:6). But that is the language of faith, not of sight nor of sense.