Real Love and Beauty

August 24, 2015

1 Peter 3:1-7
Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, 2when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. 3Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. 4Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. 5For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their own husbands, 6like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her master. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.

7Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.

Real Love and Beauty

On the subject of beauty:
So many derive their value from outward perception and how they view themselves through the mirror of others. Thus many have believed a distorted view of who they are.
God says we were ‘fearfully and wonderfully made’.
Our truest beauty comes from within, not without. See yourself through the beauty
that God has created you to be. The greatest beauty is seen in the one who aligns their heart
with God’s purpose and design to best express Him.

On the subject of love:
Young love is sexy and beautiful. It is fresh, passionate, sensual,
but its roots are young and it thrives more on the feelings of the outward man.
Old love is not always as passionate. It is not as sexually driven or motivated,
but it stills sees the beauty that it first saw. Its roots are now deep, as are the scars and life experiences that have knit and grown these two souls together. What was once expressed
outwardly is now the inward sharing of two hearts that beat as one. They have learned
that it is not always feelings that keep you together, but the decision to love one another even when you don’t feel it. Love is not just an emotion, but a decision of will.

Blessings,
#kent

Our Desire, Our Blind Folly

2 Samuel 11:1-5
1 In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king’s men and the whole Israelite army. They destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem.
2 One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful, 3 and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, “Isn’t this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite?” 4 Then David sent messengers to get her. She came to him, and he slept with her. (She had purified herself from her uncleanness.) Then she went back home. 5 The woman conceived and sent word to David, saying, “I am pregnant.”

Most all of us are familiar with the story of David and Bathseba. It was a love and lust story of tragic proportions. Why would David, this man after God’s own heart and champion of Israel do such a thing and make such an error in judgement that would lead not only to adultery, but murder as well?
One area we see in verse 1 is that it says this was a time when kings go off to war, but David doesn’t, he sends Joab out while he stays behind and hangs out back at the palace. The old adage, “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop” seem to hold true here. When we are bored, with time on our hands, it is fertile ground for the enemy to come in and lead us astray. This would appear to be the setting in which we find David at this time in his life. Life is good, no more running for his life, fighting giants, fighting battles, finally the days of middle age have come. He’s got money in the bank, chariots in the stalls and he is enjoying the good life. That can be a very dangerous place spiritually for many of us.
Now if someone had told David prior to this what he was going to do, he would probably have been appalled, shocked and perhaps angry, protesting that never would he do such a thing. Do you find that when you are headed into temptation and desire is drawing you into it’s embrace that your mind just starts shutting down as far as rational reasonable thinking goes. It’s like we put this wall between us and the voice of reason that are screaming, “are you crazy, what do you think you are doing?” This obviously is what is going on for David at this time; desire and temptation have overridden all logic, reasoning and spiritual gravity this great man should have had. He just goes headlong into sin and contrary to the Spirit and law of God that he so loved and held dear to his heart.
Some of us have found ourselves in similar situations in our lifetime; maybe some of us are facing such a circumstance now. We can’t even begin to see the disaster, heartache, scandal and damage it will reap. What’s worse is, that we don’t want too, our desire is so strong that it is like a blindfold over our spiritual discernment and right judgement. Often, like David we look back in retrospect, after reaping the consequences of our actions and think how did I let this happen? How could I have been so foolish? We are creatures who have had wicked and deceitful hearts that are prone to sin. We all can easily fall back into the areas of weakness and temptation in our lives if we don’t continually guard our hearts. It is an important principle that we continually be about our Father’s business not just idly doing our own thing, enjoying the good life and allowing our imaginations to be fertile ground for temptation and sin to grow in. If we are continually setting our minds upon the Lord in prayer, worship, praise and the Word then it is a source of continual accountability and awareness of God’s presence and our relationship with Him. We can also see the value of making ourselves accountable to others. When we commit to doing this, then even if our desire turns us dumb and stupid we have counsel that is objective and is correcting us in love. I don’t know that any of us would say we are more godly than David is, but he is an example that none of us are beyond the folly of temptation and sin. We must set a continual watch over our souls. We must never cease to go up in our authority to battle sin, when we become complacent; our desire can become our blind folly.

Blessings
#kent

The Seductress

April 24, 2015

The Seductress

Proverbs 7
1 My son, keep my words and store up my commands within you. 2 Keep my commands and you will live; guard my teachings as the apple of your eye. 3 Bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart. 4 Say to wisdom, “You are my sister,” and call understanding your kinsman; 5 they will keep you from the adulteress, from the wayward wife with her seductive words. 6 At the window of my house I looked out through the lattice. 7 I saw among the simple, I noticed among the young men, a youth who lacked judgment. 8 He was going down the street near her corner, walking along in the direction of her house 9 at twilight, as the day was fading, as the dark of night set in. 10 Then out came a woman to meet him, dressed like a prostitute and with crafty intent. 11 (She is loud and defiant, her feet never stay at home;
12 now in the street, now in the squares, at every corner she lurks.) 13 She took hold of him and kissed him
and with a brazen face she said: 14 “I have fellowship offerings at home; today I fulfilled my vows. 15 So I came out to meet you; I looked for you and have found you! 16 I have covered my bed with colored linens from Egypt. 17 I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes and cinnamon. 18 Come, let’s drink deep of love till morning; let’s enjoy ourselves with love! 19 My husband is not at home; he has gone on a long journey. 20 He took his purse filled with money and will not be home till full moon.” 21 With persuasive words she led him astray; she seduced him with her smooth talk. 22 All at once he followed her like an ox going to the slaughter, like a deer stepping into a noose 23 till an arrow pierces his liver, like a bird darting into a snare, little knowing it will cost him his life. 24 Now then, my sons, listen to me; pay attention to what I say. 25 Do not let your heart turn to her ways or stray into her paths. 26 Many are the victims she has brought down; her slain are a mighty throng. 27 Her house is a highway to the grave, leading down to the chambers of death.

It is said that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. We, as human beings, are the sum of our strengths and our weaknesses. What truly makes our chain stronger is the power of the Spirit of Christ within us.
Proverbs 7 starts out by a father exhorting his son to keep the commandments, the Word of God within him. He emphasizes that by saying, don’t just listen to the Word, but make it part and substance of your being. Let that Word influence the works of your hands and write them on the tablets of your heart till they become who you are. Make God’s wisdom, knowledge and understanding as your sister and near relative.
Why do I need to do that? “They will keep you from the adulteress, from the wayward wife with her seductive words.”
This passage is not just about sexual seduction; it is more about spiritual seduction. Most all of us are familiar with the passage in 1 Peter 5:8 which says, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” This is that same spirit that is at work to entice our souls away from Christ. It looks for our vulnerabilities, our weaknesses, and those areas of foolishness that we have yet to fully submit and bring into the obedience of Christ. They may have been subdued, lurking in the darkness of our soul. We haven’t wanted others to be aware of them and many times we ourselves are in denial that they exist, but they are there, looking and craving for the opportunity of expression and release. We often wrestle and struggle with these areas in our lives, but there will be a time and place of weakness in our lives that we will give place to them. We may not even see the immediate consequences of our actions, but this seductive spirit feeds upon the dust, the humanity and the lust of our souls. Once we begin to give place to this spirit it is like a spark and flame, it is never satisfied, but rather desires and hungers for more. It will drive us into the deeper clutches of sin and darkness. As we give more and more place to this seduction and the passion of our soul it is as the story of this young man and the harlot. We have become the fool and foolishness leads us down the road to ruin and destruction.
Many of us know or have known someone who was walking with Christ and then, as an animal caught in a trap, they became caught up in sin and their life departed more and more away from the path of righteousness. This harlot and seductress had laid hold upon them, seduced them with the lie and began leading them down the pathway to hell, while all the time exciting the passions of the flesh and promising temporal, empty riches of this world’s goods and pleasures.
It is possible as we read this, that this foolish young man could be us. Many of us know that, except for the grace of God, it would be us. This is why God’s Word must be the standard and the anchor upon which we found our life, our morality and our principles for living. When we depart from God’s precepts we exit onto a road that departs from the High Way of Holiness. That exit leads us away from the pathway to Life.
We have this illustration to let us know that the only thing that stands between this foolish young man and us, is following God’s Word through a maintained and intimate relationship with Him. Any of us could follow in his footsteps at any time, if we fail to continually guard our heart and keep it in the way of God’s Word and righteousness. Worldly enticements are always before us and they will touch the areas of weakness in our lives. This is where Christ and His Word shore up and fortify the breeches in the wall of our city. We must stand with the armor of God, ready to defend the citadel of our heart from the intrusion of the enemy. That enemy will always entice us with peace and safety while a dagger is concealed beneath their coat.
Be wise in the Word; discern the craftiness and the deceitfulness of your enemy. Know that it is the spirit of death that is wooing you into its arms. This spirit may have a beautiful face and enticing breasts, but within her grasp is the bosom of spiritual death and destruction.
A brother emailed me a scripture yesterday that fits very well here, “So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (James 4:7)”

Blessings,
#kent

Psalms 48:1-3,14
Great is the LORD, and most worthy of praise, in the city of our God, his holy mountain. 2 It is beautiful in its loftiness, the joy of the whole earth. Like the utmost heights of Zaphon is Mount Zion, the city of the Great King. 3 God is in her citadels; he has shown himself to be her fortress.
14 For this God is our God for ever and ever; he will be our guide even to the end.

Our God Forever and Forever

You know there are times that I look at myself probably like many of you. I see all of my weaknesses, my frailties, failures, sins and faults. If I only had eyes to see myself, I could become very discouraged and depressed. Sometimes it is not only hard for others to live with us, it is hard for us to live with ourselves and still keep our hope. We can become very discouraged with life and want to give up. We can easily reason how the world would be so much better off without us. Maybe we feel all we ever do is screw up, make mistakes and fall so short of what we hoped we would be. There are times in our lives we can feel pretty beat up, battered and condemned. So why do we continue on? Why should we still have hope?
When I read passages like this one in Psalms it helps me realize that I am not an island, but I am part of a much greater plan. That faith I have in God and Jesus Christ rises up to show me that there is a mighty God that is so great and wonderful beyond my comprehension and that this God really loves me, even the way I am. He created me. He knows my heart, my thoughts and my intentions. He has not left me alone, but He has brought me into Himself to be a part of something so magnificent and glorious. He made me a part of His City and His Presence and Being indwells me. ‘This God is my God who is with me for ever and for ever and He will guide me even to the end.’
I realize that maybe He allowed me to have so many weaknesses and flaws for a reason. Maybe it was so that I could never boast in myself, but I could only boast in Him, in His grace and sufficiency for my life. What gives me courage and hope is that I know that my God is for me, that nothing can ever separate me from His love and that the reason that I am a conqueror and an overcomer is because of the Christ that indwells me.
I know that the purpose of the enemy and of satan is to destroy that life which you and I possess. Jesus tells us that in John 10:10, “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have [it] more abundantly.” While the enemies’ purpose is to destroy us, Christ’s purpose it to build us up and to give us life abundantly. No, we may not feel worthy or deserving of that life, but He has given it to us just the same. Through Christ we can have eyes to see into Him and what we are in Him. We no longer have to focus on the mess that we have been and the inadequacies that we feel. I know that we are still struggling through so many of these issues. Our faith takes us where our present experiences have not yet been. It takes us to what God has to say about us, what His Word declares over us and promises to us. In these things we find hope, we find life and reason for being.
I love the scripture that Paul gives to us in 1 Corinthians 1:26-31, “Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29so that no one may boast before him. 30It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31Therefore, as it is written: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.” Maybe that is why He chose me and that is why He chose you. In our weakness He is made strong and when people observe the marvelous things that can come forth from your life they will recognize that it is not you, but Christ in you. God knows how to take cracked pots and use them for His glory and praise. So before you and I give up and succumb to our discouragement, let us draw courage from the God of strength and life. I thank God for who I am because it makes me keep my eyes upon Him and my praise toward Him. I have to trust Him for every aspect of my life.
Yes, I see my faults, my failures and my weakness, but more importantly I see His life, His promises and His strength. These are what we are going to lay hold of. These are what will pull us out of the pit and set us in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. HE IS OUR STRENGTH, OUR LIFE AND OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS. HE IS OUR FAITH, OUR FORTRESS AND OUR SALVATION. HE IS THE ONE THAT GIVES ME HOPE IN THE NIGHT AND JOY IN THE MORNING. HE IS OUR GOD FOREVER AND FOREVER, HALLELUJAH AND AMEN.

Blessings,
#kent

Love Your self

October 27, 2014

Galatians 5:14
The entire law is summed up in a single command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Love Your self

It is interesting sometimes as a photographer to see how people view themselves. Often, when viewing family or individual photographs people can be very critical of themselves. Most often it is the women. They can see and magnify weaknesses or faults that most everyone else considers normal and a part of them. It is not uncommon that great family portraits will fail because mom doesn’t like the way she looks.
In today’s age of technology we have the skills and abilities to actually go in and alter the way someone looks. We can lift and tuck some of the sagging parts, hide the blemishes and soften the wrinkles, but the real issue may not be how we look to ourselves outwardly, but how we perceive ourselves inwardly.
On the other hand I have photographed attractive ladies who may have had a scar that could have easily been removed. I find it is often best to ask people what they do and do not want taken away, because assumptions can get you into trouble. These women that I refer too wanted their scars to remain, because to them they were a reminder of what they had been through and the gift of life that they still had. In today’s world many of us feel the pressure to live this façade of a perfect life, have a perfect body, beautiful looks, a perfect home, children and husband or wife. The truth is that that is not the real world. We all have scars, wrinkles, handicaps and weaknesses whether they are outwardly evident or not. Brushing or photoshoping over them isn’t going to take the reality of them away, nor should it. These blemishes upon our lives are the evidence that we have lived and experienced what life had to offer and that it wasn’t always nice or kind.
The Lord tells us to love our neighbor as we love ourselves, but some of us don’t really love ourselves, so how can we love our neighbor properly? Understand that all real people have weaknesses, faults and frailties. That is a trait of our humanity. Don’t be ashamed of yourself and don’t boast in yourself, but rather see the completeness of yourself in Christ. Christ is not a crutch; He is the fulfillment and the completion of our humanity. The scars, the wrinkles and experiences that we share all testify that by the grace of God we survived them and we are still taking hold of life. The wonderful thing about our relationship with Christ is that where we end, He begins and where we are weak, He is strong.
Don’t be so harsh and judgmental of yourself. I know that sometimes I think, “God, why am I stuck with being me?” It is because in my weakness He is made strong and His grace is sufficient for all of my needs, my infirmities and my weaknesses. If you are down on yourself today it is because you don’t have your eyes on Jesus. Take courage, take heart and know that you can do all things through Christ that strengthens you. Love yourself as Christ loves you.

Blessings,
#kent

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