Romans 14:1-5
Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters. 2One man’s faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. 3The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him. 4Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

Judgement on Disputable Matters

If we were all to gather around and talk our theology hopefully we would be in agreement concerning the basic tenants of our faith such as Jesus being the Son of God, His blood being the atonement for our sins, that we are saved through faith and not of works, the virgin birth and other foundational truths that define Christianity. Hopefully, what we do not do is what Paul and others warned us about and that is adding or taking away from the gospel. Many times men, doctrines and denominations want to put their addendum that it is not just by faith that we are saved. The Galatians had been deceived into thinking that it was Christ and the works of the Law that saved them, but Paul clarifies this all through the book of Galatians. In Galatians 2:16 it says, “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.” The Law is all about our doing and doing is never enough, therefore we find ourselves standing in condemnation because we can’t live up to the Law or we become judgmental and condescending because we think we are keeping it so much better than others around us. Christ came and died to deliver us out of the mentality and the separation from God that it brought. In Galatians 2:20 Paul puts our faith into perspective as to where our lives should be if we are a Spirit-led people. “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” It is no longer about what I am or what I believe; it is about being the expression of the Christ that indwells me. “I” should no longer live, only Christ in me. The summary of our past, present and future in Christ is summed up in Ephesians 2: 1-10. “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. 4But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9not by works, so that no one can boast. 10For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Now if we agree on these basic tenants of our faith, then what is all of Romans 14 about? It is about all of little disputes about what we see, understand, are persuaded and comprehend the Word of God to say. I have found in myself, that over my lifetime many of my opinions and perceptions have changed and are still changing. We all walk in the light of what we know, see and understand, but 1 Corinthians 13: 12 says, “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” The truth is, no matter how much we know, we all still just know in part, because we are limited through our natural mind and understanding. I read an illustration recently that helped me see this more clearly. If I held up a nickel between us and we were asked what was on the nickel, I would say an impression of Thomas Jefferson and you would disagree and say no, it is an impression of Monticello. The truth is that we would both be right depending on our perspective, paradigm and way of seeing it. Religious men, including us, have often been guilty of taking a particular truth and making a dogma out of it. The truths of God are like spokes in a wheel; they can only keep the wheel in round if they are balanced by all other truth. If I take any truth to an extreme it becomes out of balance. The truth is I need both Thomas Jefferson and Monticello to make that nickel work.
Let’s not get distracted by the minor points of truth that we loose sight of the bigger picture here. We are not in fellowship with one another to bicker over our differences, but to edify one another in who we are in Christ. Let us lay our petty differences aside and let us allow one another the freedom to walk in the light of what we know realizing that we are all growing in the light and knowledge of Him. God is our judge, not man, before Him alone do we stand or fall. The Lord told me once concerning trying to correct how someone else believes. Don’t argue and debate them. Speak the truth in love and the truth will set them free.

Blessings,
#kent

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

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

1 John 3:1-3
Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. 2 Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. 3 And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.

A Calling unto Righteousness

When it truly dawns on our understanding and we comprehend the love that God has extended toward us to call us His own children, then it ought to truly change the way we view our world and ourselves. If we are truly born of God and His nature then our viewpoint and the way we live our lives should be fully from His perspective. We don’t see the full manifestation yet, but God’s purpose is to make us fully like Him. We may be infants in our understanding, but the direction of our crawl, our walk or our run should always be into the Father’s arms. He has called us out of sin and darkness to be a praise unto His name and an expression of His character and life. If we truly comprehend what He has called us unto then why wouldn’t we want to dress our life in purity and righteousness. 1 John 3 goes on to talk about how if we are in Christ we are in an attitude and direction of righteous living and being. It doesn’t mean we never sin or fall short, but sin is no longer the attitude and the abiding place of our hearts. Verses 4-9 say, “Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness. 5 And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin. 6 Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him. 7 Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous. 8 He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. 9 Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God.” If we are in Christ we can’t continue to live in an attitude and lifestyle of sin. That is contrary to our nature. Some of us have gone down that road for a time, but we know the grieving it brings in our spirit and our heart. We can’t truly love our God and continue to live like the devil. The purpose of Christ is to destroy the works of the devil; we can’t live in harmony and peace with God if we are recreating the works of unrighteousness through our lifestyle and behavior. God’s Word is pretty strong on this point; “He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning.” So who’s our daddy? Is it Father God or is it the devil? We will live out of the nature of the one to whom we belong.
God is calling us to sanctify and separate ourselves unto righteousness and purity. Our Christianity can not just be an ideology it must be who we are and what we live, think and breathe. For us to walk and live in sin is for us to deny the Christ and crucify Him afresh. If you are His then you have been called unto righteousness. Settle for nothing less and purify yourself in the hope of that calling.

Blessings,
#kent

How We Perceive Others

March 7, 2013

Philippians 4:8-9

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.9The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

How We Perceive Others

As I was spending time with Papa this morning this scripture came to mind and how it can pertain to how we see others, how we see and relate to one another as fellow believers and how we see those in the world around us.

As a Christian culture I think a lot of the world has an image of Christians as being the sin police, self-righteous, condemning, fault-finding, intolerant and often hypocritical. What they see so readily in others that don’t seem to see in themselves. They are quick to see the sin and faults in others while conveniently overlooking their own. Even among Christians I have seen how quickly brothers and sisters can take up an offense with one another and instead practicing forgiveness, long-suffering and forbearance, they hold grudges, speak evil of the other and only see them after the flesh or the fault that they perceive that defines that person in their mind.

2 Corinthians 5:16 says, “So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now!” I believe what the Word is teaching us is that God doesn’t want us to be seeing and judging out or natural mind and thinking. He wants us to see Christ and others after the Spirit, even as He sees us. If God had only seen humanity from humanities’ point of view He would have destroyed us a long time ago, but even with all our sins and faults He saw something redeemable in us, because He saw past our faults and saw our need; so much so that He was willing give us His only Son to die for our sins and become sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in Christ. If God was that willing to see beyond our sin, faults, failures and offences, don’t you think He wants us to do the same for others around us? Don’t you think He wants us, not to focus on their negatives and all the things we can find wrong with them, but to focus their spirit and who they can be in Christ. We do that by practicing this scripture: “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” Jesus didn’t come into the world to condemn the world, but to save it. He didn’t come with a stick, but with a cross. He laid down His life so that others could succeed where once they had failed. He saw us for what we could be and how He could transform our lives as we gave them to Him, not as in the mess that He found us. He saw beyond our flesh into our spirit where His image and likeness resides and said, “I am going to bring that back to Myself no matter what the cost.” Do we have that heart for others? Do we even have it for one another? Are we so focused on the faults and shortcoming of others that we can’t see their good and potential or have we already written them off as not living up to our standard, a standard that we probably don’t even live up too.

Grace, which God has given us, doesn’t hold on to wrongs, offenses, disappointments and failures, it is willing to put those under the blood of Jesus and move on. When we are unwilling to do that with others then we are living under the law and not under grace. Unforgiveness puts us again under the law of condemnation and we are then judged by the same law that we judge others. That is why the Jesus says, ‘judge not lest you be judged and with the same judgment that you administer to others you will be judged by the same standard.’ You see, living under unforgiveness and judgment is no longer living under grace. Grace says, “even though you may not deserve it, I forgive you. Even though you disappointed me, I forgive you. Even though you didn’t live up to my standards and perceptions, I forgive you. Even though you failed me and offended me, I forgive you. When you free others through that kind of forgiveness, you not only set them free, you set yourself free.

God is wanting us to see the best in one another, not the worst. We all fail. We all have chinks in our armor. We are all cracked pots and broken vessels, but the love of God is the glue that fixes all of that. When we walk by Spirit in His love then we see others in the light of how He sees us, redeemable, forgivable and worth saving. It is not about our personal preferences, opinions or values. Those are different for every person and not everyone is going to fit in your box. That means your love has to be outside of the box. It has to be more than human love. It has to be His love. In His love we can give to others the same grace that He has so freely given to us. We can begin to see the good in others, rather than just their faults and all of the things we don’t care for. We can use the Word of God to heal rather than to just cut and maim. We can love even the unlovely, because that certainly is how God found us. All God asks of us is that we are willing to give to others what He has given to us. If He forgave our debts which were so many how can we not forgive others whose debts are so few?

When you look at others, in or out of the body of Christ then see them after the Spirit and no longer after the flesh. Even what they are now, might not be what they can be and are becoming. Only God has a right to set in the judgment seat and before Him alone we stand or fall. Look for the truth, the honorable thing, for what is right, what is pure, what is lovely and of good report. Look for the excellence and that which is praiseworthy. Any fault finder can find faults, but it takes one whose eyes are fixed on the positive to always see the good. Find the best in people and not the worst. It is far more edifying and reaps much greater benefits. Let us be that expression of Christ to one another and to those without the household of God.
Blessings,
kent

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