2 Corinthians 2:10
For the weapons of our warfare [are] not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds

Through the Heat of Battle

In the trenches of spiritual warfare you are not often going to look your best. In the daily battles and encounters we have we are often sweaty, dirty, tired and even bloody, bruised and wounded. Those who are walking out their faith are not dressed for ceremony they are dressed for battle. In the battle you most likely will not feel like a good warrior or hero. You may be scared, discouraged, fatigued, hurting and just trying to survive. While you may feel inside to be anything but an overcomer, that is who you are as you endure the battle and stand faithful to the banner of your faith. The survivors and heroes of war weren’t wearing their medals on their chest in the midst of the battle, those medals were the result of their fortitude, their faithfulness, their courage in the midst of the battle when all they were seeing around them was pain, suffering and death. Yet there was something in their character and in their hearts that brought them through the battle. Those men and women weren’t decorated with medals because they conducted themselves well, when everything was going good and they were at peace. Most medals are won in the midst of battle where if we get through it, it is not without loss and pain physically, spiritually and emotionally.
Many of you are on the spiritual battlegrounds today. It may not have been your choice, but you are there in the midst of the battle none the less. Most of us would like to just speak a word and have those battles resolved and go away, but we find that we are in a war that often rages on day after day. Some days we are not sure we can make it through another one, but somehow, by the grace of God, we do. God wants you to know that this is not a sign of your weakness or your defeat, it is the proving ground of your victory and your triumph. The enemy is fighting to take your life, but by your faithfulness and the fortitude of your faith, God is forming in you the heart of courage and the qualities of heroes. By your continued faithfulness you are prevailing and you are conquering, even though in your heart you may feel very discouraged and defeated. It is in these places that we learn to crawl out of the weakness of our flesh and put on Christ who is our strength and our life. We may have to endure the battle while in these weak and frail bodies, but in our spirits and in our hearts we have put off the flesh and put on Christ who is our strength. Through Him we are more than conquerors and can do all things. If He leads us into battle then we must trust that He can sustain us through it.
Whatever your battle and whatever front your are fighting on, whether it be health, finances, job, emotional, family problems, persecution, or whatever, He is there for you. In these places of battle the enemy tries to strip us of our dignity, our faith, our confidence and assurance. He rails upon us with condemnation, throwing before us our weakness and defeats. We can not take his bait. Sometimes he causes hurts so severe that we will harbor, hate, anger and unforgiveness. He assaults us on many fronts, but we must be wise and discerning of His tactics, holding fast the Word of God as our standard of truth and reality. We are what the Word of God says we are. 1 Peter 2:9-11 says of us, “9But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
11Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. 12Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.”
Be encouraged today; strengthen yourself in His faithfulness. Stay the course, endure the battle and finish the race. “Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. (1 John 4:17)”

Blessings,
#kent

Spiritual Mountain Climbing

Isaiah 40:9
You who bring good tidings to Zion, go up on a high mountain. You who bring good tidings to Jerusalem,
lift up your voice with a shout, lift it up, do not be afraid; say to the towns of Judah, “Here is your God!”

In Hebrews 11:8-10 it says, “By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as [in] a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker [is] God.” As we have began our journey of faith we have started our spiritual climb up the mountain of God, at first the path may have seemed gentle and very pleasant. As we travel on we find there are very difficult and perilous places that we must pass through as we continue our assent. Continually the Holy Spirit and the Word of God are urging us on, but as we journey up the mountain we notice that many have turned off of the trail at various points. They have even put up dwellings and have set up house keeping on these lower realms of the mountain. At times we may have asked the question, “ Lord, haven’t I gone far enough? This seems like a pleasant enough place, can’t I just stay here?” But the Spirit of the Lord would say to us, “ to obtain My best, you must press into My highest.” It came to me that though these ones had chosen a pleasant and easy place to abide rather than press on up the mountain, they had left themselves very vulnerable to the attack of the enemy. They had no real cover or protection when they came under attack. So we press on, not knowing exactly what to expect or even the fullness of what we are pressing into. What we do have are the promises of God and we know that the more that we press up into the heights of this mountain, the more real and realized these promises will become.
There are times on our journey we become weary, discouraged and even scared. There are times that we experience the blessings of mountain lakes, streams and meadows and there are times we are inching our way along jagged rocks and perilous ledges. The thing that must continue to burn in our hearts is that the Lord is ever calling us upward.
In Revelations 4:1 the Spirit speaks to John on the Isle of Patmos where he was exiled, “After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” Every day there stands before us a door opened that speaks “Come up here.” It is the call of God upon our lives to continue pressing onward and upward into Him. We know that only in pressing onward and upward into Him that we will discover our destiny and calling in Him. Only by continuing our climb will we realize that He is the power and endurance in us to abide, to survive and to accomplish what He has designed our lives to accomplish. In those times when our body wants to give up, when our soul is discouraged, it is the Spirit of the Son that rallies within us and that reminds us that He has called us unto Himself. Where He has called us He has also gone before us and made a way for us. We are reminded that this journey and this climb are not in our ability, but it is in His ability through us as we press on in faith, believing that He is mighty within us. We are a called out people, a chosen generation, a royal priesthood and a holy nation. We are the overcomers of God set apart for the glory of His Name, but we must keep climbing and keep pressing onward, upward and inward. As we climb we are developing agility, wisdom, faith and strength. Even when we slip upon the path, we sense the unseen hand of His grace laying hold of us and helping us back up into the way.
Sometimes we sit for a moment to catch our breath and regain our strength, but we never want our eye distracted from following that path that continues upward. We know that at every bend and over every precipice we may catch a greater revelation of His glory and find new truth revealed. Everyday is an adventure, a challenge and a steadfast commitment to follow on to Know Him in a greater and higher way. He is saying to the weak and the lame, “Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. 13″Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.” Take courage you saints of God as you ascend the mountain and be renewed in the spirit of your faith and place confidence in the high calling you have in Christ Jesus. “You have not come to a mountain that can be touched and that is burning with fire; to darkness, gloom and storm; 19to a trumpet blast or to such a voice speaking words that those who heard it begged that no further word be spoken to them, 20because they could not bear what was commanded: “If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned.” 21The sight was so terrifying that Moses said, “I am trembling with fear.” 22But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, 23to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, 24to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. 25See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven? 26At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” 27The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain. 28Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, 29for our “God is a consuming fire.””(Hebrew 12:18-29).
“I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:14

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

Boys to Men

October 25, 2013

Ephesians 4: 14-16
Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. 15Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. 16From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

Boys to Men

As I was meditating this morning an old John Wayne movie came into my thoughts called “The Cowboys”. Many of you may still remember it. It was about a rancher who had to drive his cattle to market, but he couldn’t get any men to help him so he had to take a group of boys to drive his cattle. Along the drive they are confronted with cattle rustlers who capture them. John Wayne never allows fear or intimidation to be seen on him. He stands up to these rustlers and demonstrates before these boys what a man of courage and integrity is all about. In the process the leader of the rustlers kills him and they go on to take the cattle. The only other adult is the old cook. After John Wayne’s death, these boys rise to the occasion and they no longer see themselves as boys, but as men. They plan their strategy and take the cattle back from the rustlers, defeating them in the process and killing their leader. They then take the cattle on to market and complete their mission.
What I felt the Lord was showing me through this is that we have a man who has walked before us and shown us the true nature and character of God. He has never shown fear or been intimidated by His enemies, but demonstrated before us the greatest degree of courage and self-sacrifice as He gave His life for us. We are like those boys, who have never seen ourselves really as men, but God is placing us in circumstances that we must gird up our loins as men and walk the walk of the Savior. There comes a time we put aside our childish ways and we come into manhood and I speak this figuratively for women as well as men. The Holy Spirit is there to give the wisdom and guidance to grow up into Him which is the head, even Christ. As we come into maturity, we put aside our petty bickering and differences and we function as one man, one team filled with the Holy Spirit, with power and authority. I believe that in this time the Lord is telling us to grow up and go from boys to men. We know the way; Jesus walked it before us, now it is time that we walk His walk, not going where we choose, but where He leads us. Many of us may be weak or of no special ability or strength, but God has chosen the foolish to confound the wise and the weak to prevail over the strong. It is not because of who we are that we are anything, but it is because of who He is in us that we are everything and capable of anything. It is time we take our eyes off of our immaturity and childishness. It is time we place our eyes upon Him that we have been called to be conformed too and begin to walk in His image and likeness. Faith sees what is not evident and without faith it is impossible to please Him. It is that faith of who He is in us that is taking us from boys to men.

Blessings,
kent

Fear

September 20, 2012

 

Fear


Hebrews 11:7
By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.

Fear most often carries with it a negative connotation, something to be avoided and something we don’t want to have.  Let’s speak for a few minutes on the positive aspects of fear.
First, let’s define what fear is as used in the Word of God.  Certainly it can carry the meaning of terror, dread or to be made terrified, fearful and afraid.  It can also carry the meaning of standing in awe, to cause astonishment and awe or be held in awe.  It can mean to fear, reverence, honor and respect.  Fear can be one of those two edged swords that can be good and it can be bad.  Pain is often the same way.  We don’t like pain, but without it how would we know when we were injured or when something wasn’t right or that we need to pay attention to some aspect of our body?  Fear likewise is a natural sense that causes us to be cautious, to respect something or someone who could hurt us, it can even be there to help insure our survival because we fear what could kill or harm us.
All through God’s Word we are exhorted to fear God.  Proverbs 9:10 says, “The fear of the LORD [is] the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy [is] understanding.”  Does God want us to be afraid of Him?  Through Christ we have grown to know God as the God of Love, as indeed He is.  1John 4:18 says, ” There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.” Now we say Lord, I don’t understand, first you say that we are to fear You and then You say there is no fear in love?   How can it be both?  “If fear is the beginning of wisdom, then perfect love is the fulfillment of it.”  We would agree that hope is not faith, but it stands in the place of faith until faith is brought into fulfillment.  “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen. (Hebrews 11:1).”  We fear God why, because He is the awesome, all-powerful, omnipotent, omnipresent, creator God of all of Creation.  In the Old Testament, to look upon God was to die; to experience His presence was almost beyond human ability to abide in it.  Many of us have grown up with a watered down version of whom God really is and as such treat Him as almost common or matter of fact.  God should never be seen in this light.  We who are in Christ have an assurance in our hearts where we know God through the love of Christ, but I think we have become disconnected sometimes with true honor, reverence and respect which He is forever worthy of.  This is the fear of the Lord.  We know that in Christ, we are in God and while He still deals with us in loving discipline, we no longer dwell in the fear of judgement that those outside of God must deal with.  When we come into the love of God through Christ, we come into a place where there is no fear in the sense of terror or dread because we come to know Father as Abba (Romans 8:15) or Daddy God.  Still we honor Him in His awesome greatness and yet we experience the acceptance and love of a Father for His Children.  We are able to climb up on His lap, so to speak, in that place of prayer and worship and sense the caress of His wonderful presence and love.  There is no fear in that place of unselfish exchange of love and relationship.
Let’s take a moment to look at the negative side of fear.  Our life is a system of balances.  When something gets out of balance it gets out of the will of God for us.  Fear is such a thing.  There is a spirit of fear that satan uses to torment us, make us afraid and paralyze us from accomplishing God’s will and purpose for us.  2 Timothy 1:7 says, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”  It doesn’t say that He hasn’t given us any fear.  It does say that He hasn’t given us a “spirit of fear”.  A spirit of fear is a demonic thing that is a phobia of something that robs you of your faith and confidence in God.  It exalts some terror, apprehension, or fear above our confidence, peace and security in Christ.  Against such a spirit God has given us love, power and a sound mind to stand in faith and confidence in the Word of God and His Life that is in us.  Does that mean nothing bad can happen to us or that we can’t die?  No, it simply means that when we really have our confidence that God is our all in all and nothing touches us outside His will and purpose, we have peace not fear.  We know, that according to Romans 8:28, “… that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to [his] purpose.”  When the disciples were rowing for their lives and crying out in the stormy sea for fear that they would perish, Jesus rebuked them because of the little faith.  The more the spirit of fear grips you and finds place in you, the more it will rob you of your faith and confidence in God.  This is the fear that God has given us the victory over through love, power and a sound mind.  Our faith overcomes our fears as we trust Him in the unknown, dreadful and uncharted places of our lives and life’s circumstances.  We have a hiding place in the abiding place of God.  He is a shelter from our storms; He is our deliverer and our salvation.   No matter what satan or life brings, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou [art] with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. (Psalms 23:4).  Courage is a quality that rises up in the face of danger and denies fear its due.  Let us be God’s people of faith and courage that rise to every test in the fear of God, overcoming, “the spirit of fear.”

Blessings,
kent

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