Walking Reflections and Joy

 


 (Jim Estok)www.estokphotography.com 

Seasonal Picture!

Walking in the foot paths of our adolesence can be an emotional experience-pleasant or negative. Joyful, remorseful, embarrassing, humbling, sorrowful. Yesterday, I walked in the physical place of my footsteps when I was a teenager. It has been years since I was last there.

During that time in my life I was a long distance runner and a member of a track & field club. As part of our training, we did hill training, running up a hill over and over and over…This particular hill is in a park where there are also some trails. So what we did is we ran a loop, up the hill and return to the bottom of the hill via the trails (the shorter distance, ironically).

Back then I really liked and enjoyed running long distances [my arthritic knee prevents me from continuing]. That is I liked training, but not so much the racing competitions. I’ve always preferred and stayed focused on competing against myself more so than competing against others.

I’d like to say that the hill was not as imposing as I remembered and that when I started to walk up it yesterday I did have that thought. But part way up, walking instead of running, I felt the hills intensity. Its not that the hill is steep but rather it is its length as it continues on a steady progression upwards so that when you get to the top you have expended lots of energy.

Through my life I have: run, skated, walked and pumped iron as an athlete; played  music with fellow musicians; but the greatest and most impactful walk is the walk I am on now….walking with Jesus Christ.

“for we walk by faith, not by sight.” 2 Corinthians 5:7

Regrettably, my walk with Jesus has not been a life long experience. As I walked that hill yesterday I couldn’t help but think of the missed years. Oh, to turn the clock back, not to regain my youth but to gain more time with Jesus in this life.

“And he walks with me
And He talks with me,
And He tells me I am his own;”

A song from my childhood.

“Yes, give thanks for ‘all things’ for, as it has been well said ‘Our  disappointments are but His appointments.’” –A.W. Pink

Blessings,

Jim Estok
Purveyor of Light through Life lived & shared and through photography

www.estokphotography.com
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Hole in the Ceiling, But Not In My Faith


 (Jim Estok)www.estokphotography.com 

You know that feeling you get when it feels like something is not right? You think about investigating, to which you do, only to find nothing obvious and convince yourself that it is a result of your overactive imagination at work and so you push the concern aside and forget about it.

Well, this happened to me just the other day. While in the family room, where there is a home office, I was convinced that I heard water dripping. I took a cursory look around and found nothing amiss. So I reasoned that the water drips were only a result of my imagination and my constant overreaction. I was proud of myself that I didn’t overreact.

That was until the next morning when I went into the family room and discovered an abnormality to the shape of the ceiling- a large blister! The blister contained liters of water….. now a hole in the ceiling will need fixing.

“And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20

As I reflect on this experience, I marvel at how I’ve changed. Before, worry would’ve overcome me; surrendering to its grip, and unable to turn away, I would have been consumed with fear, anger, agitation, worked up, stressed. Asking why, why is this happening?

Now I have assurance and comfort, through a relationship with Jesus Christ. Throughout the Bible we are told of the presence of God, in addition to the active presence of God is illustrated so we know how deeply embedded He is in our everyday lives.  We learn the patient words of love and faithfulness and His constant assurance that  I am with you.

“Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7

Blessings,

Jim Estok
Purveyor of Light through Life lived & shared and through photography

www.estokphotography.com
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Heinous Acts

 (Jim Estok)

 

It has been horrific, tragic and senseless few days of violence, we have witnessed and for some they have tragically experienced!  Edmonton, Marseille, and Las Vegas. My heart aches and I am at a loss to make any sense of the events. Why?

I have prayed this morning and will continue to pray for the victims, the families and friends of the victims, and also the friends and family of the perpetrators!

 

Blessings,

Jim Estok
Purveyor of Light through Life lived & shared and through photography

www.estokphotography.com
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Word Use and the Painful Consequences

(Jim Estok)www.estokphotography.com 

Words,  they can be used to cause great pain and suffering, they can cut deep and leave emotional scars.  Words can also be used to spread joy and as the Bible says in Ephesians 4:29 to build people up and to extend grace. I liken the hurtful words to the fog, as they are hiding details pushed deeply into our memories there are words spoken to us that we have placed intentionally deep within our minds, so they no longer hurt us anymore; only to be burned away like the sun burns the fog away through the revelation of the light of day. Those buried memories of what has caused us pain and and suffering usually resurface….

“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Ephesians 4:29 ESV

I can not hide behind innocence, for I’m guilty too of using words that have hurt others. Remorseful, I am encouraged and focused on the words of the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 4:29 to be mindful of my words.

The same can not be said however for some of the world leaders of today, who are using divisive words and divisive actions to create animosity, tension and may I suggest to act as diversions; hiding other less favourable activities? Proverbs 18:21 says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” We are witnessing the damage as a result of the tongue.

Good words are worth much, and cost little.” George Herbert

Let’s use our words to help build up others, not for tearing down.

Blessings,

Jim Estok
Purveyor of Light through Life lived & shared and through photography

www.estokphotography.com
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Awestruck Wonder Facing the Son

 (Jim Estok)

I’ve been struggling lately, with trying to get up early enough to capture the beauty of a sunrise. To witness it with awe and wonder, and to capture it through the lens of my camera: all while giving credit to our amazing God. The image attached to this post is evidence that I succeeded, at least one day. A small step….

Those who live at the ends of the earth
    stand in awe of your wonders.
From where the sun rises to where it sets,
    you inspire shouts of joy. Psalm 65:8

I arrived at the location in the darkness and set up my camera gear. I was the only person there. However, as the approaching daylight became nearer to approaching, I was joined by several other people who came to witness the sunrise.  Such an event brought joy to people’s faces all around me.

It is magnificent to experience the creations God gives us each and every day, and to take the time to thank Him.  Psalm 113: 3  says “Everywhere—from east to west—praise the name of the Lord.”  Oh, how true these words are. This experience was an important reminder for me to stop and give thanks and praise to God.

Blessings,

Jim Estok
Purveyor of Light through Life lived & shared and through photography

www.estokphotography.com
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The Never Ending Pressure of Christianity

(Jim Estok)www.estokphotography.com

Like the rocks in this picture, we are subjected to a never ending force of pressure(s) in life. Pressure to fit in and appear as “normal”, being different is something to be avoided at all cost. Wearing the worldly cloak is less pressure.

The world’s philosophy says to live for self: but God’s Word says to deny yourself!  As Jesus said, “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it!” Matthew 16:25 True discipleship involves following Christ and doing His will, wherever His path may lead us.

“Above all else, we must learn how to bring our wills into submission and obedience to the will of God, on a practical, daily, hour-by-hour basis.” Jerry Bridges

Does denying ourselves involve sacrifice?  Actually, without conscious recognition through the culmination of giving-surrendering- ourselves to Christ and making Him our Lord and inviting Him to come live in us, the result of our invitation means we chose to give up our will for His. William Law said, “We should thank God that we are not left to the folly of our own minds, or forced to take up the shadows of joy and happiness that the weakness and folly of the world has invented.”

“Every Christian would agree that a man’s spiritual health is exactly proportional to his love for God.” C.S. Lewis

Fellowship with Christ- should be the lifelong goal of the believer, seeking God, always, and making Him our all in all. Always seeking the result of what C.S. Lewis describes, “Every Christian would agree that a man’s spiritual health is exactly proportional to his love for God.”

I don’t suggest this is easy for I personally find it to be a constant pursuit. More and more each day.

Blessings,

Jim Estok
Purveyor of Light through Life lived & shared and through photography

www.estokphotography.com
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Practice These Things

(Jim Estok)www.estokphotography.com

Practice These Things

It should, to us, have all been revealed from scripture

And from the lessons taught by our preacher

We should not forget what role models teach

If we’ve absorbed the lessons it’s not beyond our reach

Knowledge, lessons, and witnessing besiege

For we who have invited and accepted Christ within us

The Spirit should live within us: indwell, lead and provide boldness to us

Boldness for peace seasoned with salt and our shining light

Could this be the reason for the negativity causing the Christian plight

When we don’t practice what we’ve learned and witnessed

When we don’t practice what we’ve received and witnessed

And fail to practice what we’ve heard and seen thru witness

For when we fail to practice lessons God has blessed

The Peace of God escapes us as we have not confessed

For we have pushed God aside and made ourselves the idols of our worship

Living life absent of the residence of God’s Lordship.

 

Inspired by Philippians 4:9 (ESV)  Jim Estok

 

 

Jim Estok
Purveyor of Light through Life lived & shared and through photography

www.estokphotography.com
www.facebook.com/EstokPhotography
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Marginalized Persona

(Jim Estok)www.estokphotography.com

Hiding under a layer of an untenable persona.  Diverting prosperity in favour of promoting adversity and misfortune. Therefore, they’re portraying the need for assistance and reducing the need to put forth any signs of constructive effort, allowing the image of a loss of effort and removing expectations or any hint of seeking success. It can be a subtle cry for help or a scream that resonates in our hearts and argues with our mind.

I’m Guilty. Haven’t we all had those thoughts at one time or another when we encounter the poor and homeless? Are they really poor? Really homeless? Is it self-inflicted? Is it their own choice?

Could it be that simple? If we are honest with ourselves, and with God, is this, not the reaction we have when we see the person on the street asking for money because they have nothing to eat and nowhere to live?

Some peoples reactions are to cross the street-avoidance; some people avoid the areas where there is a high propensity of the poor (out of sight, out of mind); others justify not giving money because it will be used for drugs or alcohol; others hand out a bag of essential items (snacks, water, toiletries products, gift card, etc.); other people dismiss helping the poor simply because they feel it is the poor person’s choice based on their laziness.

I have deeply struggled with this subject. It angers me, saddens me, puts me at odds with myself. What is the right response?  I know ignoring it and doing nothing is not an option: because in doing so, it is causing me grief. A grief that causes me a great depth of sorrow.

Jesus said we will always have the poor (Mark 14:7). Jesus also said, “‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” (Matthew 25:40)

“Most good things have been said far too many times and just need to be lived.” ― Shane Claiborne

For me, I know that doing nothing is not an option, I must resolve this unsettled tension. To no action is to dismiss the need, which I will not and can not do because my internal turmoil is compelling me to take action.

 

Jim Estok
Purveyor of Light through Life lived & shared and through photography

www.estokphotography.com
www.facebook.com/EstokPhotography
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Angels Among Us?

(Jim Estok)www.estokphotography.com

Sometimes we end up speaking with a stranger, or a better way of saying that, is a person we have never met before. Yesterday, I had such an occurrence, and a rather pleasant conversation evolved.

I was attending a downtown festival in a neighboring city and had stopped in at a coffee shop. Outside on the patio, there was only one seat available on a bench beside a woman (Pamela). She graciously offered me the seat expressing she was happy to have some company. I was simply looking for a place to eat my croissant and drink my coffee and had no other motives. However…..

Both of us being Canadian, we, of course, discussed the weather first and of course, we interjected the word SORRY into many parts of our conversation. (Eh?)  We then moved onto governance, specifically local politics (Pamela was very well-versed on the subject) and then discussed social assistance, the poor and marginalized. She confessed that she was poor and currently lives in subsidized housing.

“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”  Hebrews 13:2 ESV

Pamela taught me a valuable lesson on hospitality even though we never discussed the subject. I’m guilty, negligent of hospitality, because lately, my passion for socializing has been absent. Suppressed,Stifled, Smothered-uncharacteristically so. To know me is to know I enjoy engaging with people and take advantage of every opportunity to do so. I have no trouble meeting people, in fact, it is a great joy for me.

Without being intentional, or boasting, I had a great conversation and a rewarding experience: all in the pursuit of coffee and a croissant. No other agenda.  As I think about this expereince…..Maybe Pamela was an Angel?

“In the poor man who knocks at my door, in my ailing mother, in the young man who seeks my advice, The Lord Himself is present: therefore let us wash His feet.” C.S. Lewis from a letter to Don Giovanni Calabria, March 27, 1948

Blessings,

Jim Estok
Purveyor of Light through Life lived & shared and through photography

www.estokphotography.com
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Despondency & Finding Comfort

(Jim Estok)www.estokphotography.com

Sleep, with no need for soporific assistance, as currently sleep comes too easy and is a comfort during the constant turmoil of emotions. Being depressed & having anxiety, I take to sleep when I’m feeling overwhelmed, usually sleeping some parts of my days away- even after a full nights sleep. Why so much sleep? So I don’t have to feel or think. Escapism ? Is it?

” I will both lie down and sleep in peace;
    for you alone, O Lord, make me lie down in safety.”

Psalm 4:8 NRSV

With so much sleep, times for photography have dwindled and are at a premium. The exception being the attached photo which miraculously I awoke real early on that morning, early enough to see and capture the sunrise.

Psalm four is classified as an evening (hymn) prayer. The psalm is suggested to be used by the believer to speak with the Father and further assists the believer in meditating on God’s fatherly care. The psalmist commits to having confidence in God, who will not abandon His beloved people, but rather will restore His blessings and joy in them. Claimed also by the Apostle Paul in Philippians 4:6. Resulting in our confidence and giving rise to our inward peace. Following this teaching is important and it is an action we should all incorporate into our spiritual lives.

“The presence of hope in the invincible sovereignty of God drives out fear.” John Piper

This inward peace allows me (and should allow all of us) to leave my (our) troubles and anxiety in God’s hands and sleep without fear and sleep with the peace that comes as a blessing from God. Therefore, it is escapism as made possible through our relationship and worship of God.

 

Jim Estok
Purveyor of Light through Life lived & shared and through photography

www.estokphotography.com
www.facebook.com/EstokPhotography
twitter.com/EstokPhotography