All Creation Benefits

 (Jim Estok)
www.estokphotography.com

 

It is a real challenge during the summer months to get up early enough to view the sun rise. More so if you have a location in mind a distance away and need to drive afar to get there. If you can do so, the visual reward is majestic, glorious and spectacular.
 
A sun rise is a reminder that God shows grace and He cares for all His creations. Jesus states (Matthew 5: 45) that God makes the sun rise stressing that the sun does not do this in the absence of God’s hand. Jesus by giving God the glory is highlighting that such action is a result of the Father’s love for mankind. The sunrise and the rain fall both on the righteous (the good and the just) and the unrighteous ( the evil, the unjust).
 
“so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matthew 5:45 ESV)
What is important to understand from this passage. Is that Jesus is highlighting that even though God is the Holy One and is without blemish. God does not hold back from pouring out His blessings on both the righteous and the unrighteous.
 
The Father’s love is for all of those that He created. Unfortunately, there is a love of God that is not shared by all. 

 

 

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

www.estokphotography.com
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Who Am I In This Life

  (Jim Estok)

www.estokphotography.com
Always looking for subject matter to photograph. I find the creative powers of my subconscious to be like a magnetic force drawing me to water. In the presence of water, that is where I find solitude and peace surrounding me and inspiring creativity. The environment enhanced by soothing sounds of rushing water. Solitude and peace give rise to a state of worship recognizing the glory of all that God has created and who God is.
 
The word water appears over seven hundred (700) times in the bible- Old and New Testament combined. In a variety of metaphorical ways, water symbolizes aspects of our Christian life. Water, speaks to us of our salvation, eternal life, spiritual cleansing, and the word of God.
 
Water, thus points us to Jesus in so many ways. Only Jesus can cleanse us and can give us new life. Water baptism symbolizes our acceptance of Jesus and our denial of self. It is an outward expression of a new inner value. A public declaration of a new life in Christ.
 
“For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” Galatians 3:27 (NIV)
 
Water is a reminder and inspiration of who I am in Christ and the responsibility I have as a Christian. Therefore, like CS Lewis said “Don’t shine so others see you. Shine so that through you, others can see Him.” 

 

“Don’t shine so others can see you. Shine so that through you, others can see Him.” C.S. Lewis


 

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

www.estokphotography.com
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No Faster Than a Walk

 (Jim Estok)

www.estokphotography.com 

 

No Faster Than a Walk
 
If one can not run across the bridge, as the sign instructs in the above picture. I’m reasoning that any speed faster than a walk must affect the stability of the bridge. Not a confidence builder when our expectations of bridges are confidence, trust, and belief in their construction. Limitations of bridges are typically stated in maximum weight, not the speed of the person or the speed of the means of transport crossing the bridge.
 
Faith in the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit are also built on confidence, belief, and trust, they are evidence of that which is not seen, see Hebrews 11:1 (ESV). In comparison, we have confidence, belief, and trust in bridges being safe without having prior knowledge of their construction.
“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1 (ESV)
 
Experience is the ultimate test.
 
I have safely driven over a bridge many times on my journey home from work. Other bridges, I encountered in my travels, have had posted weight limits and in my experience, they have proven to be safe.
 
I would be less of a person without Jesus Christ in my life. Not that I profess to be perfect and that is why I need Jesus Christ in my life. I trust Him. Simply. Fully. Without reservation. 
 
Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” 1 Corinthians 15:58(ESV)

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

www.estokphotography.com
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Frozen Forgiveness

 
 (Jim Estok)

www.estokphotography.com
It’s April and we have had an “ice storm” the two previous days and today is torrential rain. This is not representative of “typical” April weather where secretion is seasonal rain, not ice. ( Just this morning I heard that on this date last year it was 22 degrees Celsius) 
 
Ice is covering the creations in nature created by God. These are the dominant subject matters of my photography and there is still beauty in nature. Ice is representative of rigidity and frigidity, it is coldness, an absence of love and stagnates life. Human life can also be made rigid, cold and absent of love and stagnate of life when we deceive ourselves and deceive God of our sins.
 
“Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.” (Psalm 32 ESV)
Psalm 32 is a reminder of God’s gift of divine forgiveness. In fact, we can only find divine forgiveness in God. God’s divine forgiveness is the removal of sin, guilt and the remembrance of sin.
 
To receive divine forgiveness we must confess our sins and repent of our sins. God’s forgiveness is a gift—a gift He freely offers us when we turn in faith to Christ.
 
“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23 ESV)

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

www.estokphotography.com
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Laughing & Emotion

 

(Jim Estok)
www.estokphotography.com

Laughter amid large gatherings of people and even smaller groups of people can occur for varying reasons other than something being funny. Nervous laughter or sincere laughter? When we are facing the uncomfortable truth laughing it off can be a reaction intended to break the intensity or allow us to dismiss something we would rather not admit too or address. Softening and differing the emotional sorrow till later when in private: or until we can bury the emotion deep in the recess of our heart and mind.

"A cheerful heart is good medicine,
     but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength" Proverbs 17:22

Working as a human resources manager for many years I’ve witnessed laughter during the most intense and inappropriate situations. The inappropriate laughter that is out of place based on the situation and brought on, I’m convinced, by the intensity and the potential consequences of the situation. Laughter’s intentions during these times are meant to: allow time to recompose oneself; to make light of the facts in an effort to remove all and any bad intentions on their part; convey innocence -I was only joking- they took it the wrong way; and sometimes because the message is not understood.

We were created by God as emotional beings, which means that emotional life is one of God’s creations. We are also told by God to be honest: honest with God, honest with ourselves and honest with all others.  Therefore we should be encouraged to take our joyous and painful emotions in prayer to God.

Being an emotional, sensitive and self-conscious person; heightened further in this season of anxiety and depression.I am admittedly over analytical....

Being an emotional, sensitive and self-conscious person; heightened further in this season of anxiety and depression. I am admittedly over analytical of emotions these days. God gave us emotions but He also gave us intellect and strength of character, these are interdependent relying on each other to strike a balance. I have focused on emotion here but this is true of all our emotions.

God gives us the tools we need and if we use the tools given, we then glorify God. Use the tools, don’t burying the emotions…..

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

www.estokphotography.com
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In Us Is What We Seek

 (Jim Estok)www.estokphotography.com
“Rarely do we realize that we are in the midst of the extraordinary. Miracles occur all around us, signs from God show us the way, angels plead to be heard, but we pay little attention to them because we have been taught that we must follow certain formulas and rules if we want to find God. We do not realize that God is wherever we allow Him/Her to enter.” Paulo Coelho, By the River Pierdra I Sat Down and Wept
 
I came across this quote earlier this week and it has stayed with me, resonating in my mind. I find it captures a revealed truth, at least for me and I’m sure it may for others. That truth is that we can be so focused on finding God when the whole time He has been with us and all around us.
 
There is a simplicity stated by Coelho “God is wherever we allow Him/Her to enter.” Now, I do not believe nor do I understand that Coelho is saying we have to give God permission to enter. Afterall, God created us. I understand the context of the word allow,  to mean that we admit, we recognize, and we accept God has entered us. Questioning why we can’t find God comes about when we do not hear from God. 
 We must recognize that God can speak to us in whatever way he likes. He is a powerful and sovereign God and can speak to us by a voice we hear, by dreams, by visions. Furthermore, He has given us his Word, the Bible is  God’s living and active word and He has told us that he communicates with us through the bible. 
One thing I’ve come to recognize and have been paying greater attention to is the fact that His voice can enter as a thought or an impression on my consciousness, and I am guilty at times of not attributing the inner voice to its proper source. Additionally, I need to commit more time to reading the Bible, using Apps that provide daily devotions with a line or two of scripture is not enabling me to achieve God’s desired and promised communication. 
 
I have confidence and trust that any silence is temporary; Jesus is the way the truth and the life (John 14:6).

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

www.estokphotography.com
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When I Question Myself, God Responds

sunrise, double sun burst, sunrise over the river, trees in silhouette (Jim Estok)
estokphotography.com
Who am I?
 
I’m finding myself asking that question, time and time again these days. I do know that I’m not someone unaffected by the many years I’ve lived here on earth. The years have tarnished me in that I’ve lost my lustre and I’m emotionally damaged.
 
I’ve experienced: sadness, anger, disgust, love, fear, surprise, excitement, joy, and happiness. All these emotions have come as a result of the experiences of life. The good and bad experiences are a result of good and bad decisions- made by me or for me. Some emotions are a result of the environment exposed and subjected too through different stages of life.
 
This is not to say that there hasn’t been great joy in my life. There are so many joyous events and proud moments, I hold dear to my heart. But the most impactful events of life are the events that scar and impact us the greatest. These events, lurking deep in our subconscious; so we don’t experience the pain & sorrow of these events. Suppressing the painful and sorrowful emotions. Only to have them damage us more and more until they finally overcome us affecting our mental health.
 
I find courage and comfort in God as did Charles Spurgeon.
 
“I find myself frequently depressed – perhaps more so than any other person here. And I find no better cure for that depression than to trust in the Lord with all my heart, and seek to realize afresh the power of the peace-speaking blood of Jesus and His infinite love in dying upon the cross to put away all my transgressions.”
Charles Spurgeon

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

www.estokphotography.com
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Placement of the Veil

landscape, chasm, cove, creek,headland,heath, knoll, prairie, quagmire, ravine, scrub, summit, thicket, trees, valley, vista, wood, brush, flat, hill, valley, ridge, cut, fill, contour lines, leading lines, beautiful, green, agricultural, arid, artificial, barren, beautiful, broad, certain, charming, coastal, cultural, delightful, desolate different, distant, diverse, dramatic, early, english, entire, european, exquisite, fair, familiar, few, fine, finest forested, french, great, green, historic, historical, imaginary, industrial, inner, interior, large, little, local,loveliest, lovely, lush, magnificent, many, most, mountainous, natural, new, northern, open, other, own, particular,pastoral, physical, picturesque,photo, political, real, romantic, rugged, rural, sacred, scenic, several, small, social, specific, spectacular, suburban, such, sunny, tropical, urban, varied, various, vast, western, whole, wide, wild, sun drenched, clouds, sky, breathtaking, lush, abundant, wooded, desolate, (Jim Estok)estokphotography.com 

How often do we close the door to new opportunities without giving them complete consideration? Without taking the time to entirely understand the opportunity? Is it fear, are we are fearful of stepping out of our comfort zone, unable to summons the courage?
 
“And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:18 (NRSV)
 
It’s possible that the veil Paul speaks of in 2 Corinthians 3:18  is still in place and we are not able to see the glory of Christ.
 
Jesus Christ gives us hope and assurance. When we accept Christ into our lives as our saviour and Lord. Jesus brings change and transformation. The veils removed through the indwelling of the Spirit allowing us to see God’s glory. I like how Watchman Nee describes the transformation of a “fleshy Christian” into a “spiritual Christian.”
 
“The God who can change a sinner into a Christian by giving him His life can equally transform the fleshy Christian into a spiritual one by giving him His life more abundantly.” Watchman Nee
The veil Paul speaks of does not block God’s ability to see us, but rather it prevents us from seeing God, so the removal of the veil allows us to see God. When that happens we have the confidence that the Spirit is (slowly) transforming us into the image of Christ. So new opportunities, Spirit-led and God’s will, we have the assurance that God equips us with God-given abilities to succeed.
 

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

www.estokphotography.com
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Faithful Reliance


 (Jim Estok)www.estokphotography.com
” I find myself frequently depressed – perhaps more so than any other person here. And I find no better cure for that depression than to trust in the Lord with all my heart, and seek to realize afresh the power of the peace-speaking blood of Jesus and His infinite love in dying upon the cross to put away all my transgressions.” Charles Spurgeon, the “Prince of Preachers”
 

Grieving is a gift to us from God. Grieving is not isolated to the loss of a loved one, but also encompasses other losses in our lives. Such as relationships, dreams, income, potential, self-confidence, identity, control and independence. These losses, are losses experienced by people suffering from mental illness. With sorrow, grieving helps us restore hope. Through grieving, God will lead us to hidden treasures and we will know God is with us. ” I will give you treasures hidden in dark and secret places. Then you will know that I, the Lord God of Israel, have called you by name.” Isaiah 45:3 (CEV)

 
I will give you treasures hidden in dark and secret places. Then you will know that I, the Lord God of Israel, have called you by name. Isaiah 45:3 (CEV)
 
Grieving is a process we must allow and experience, as the process is the only way we can move to restoration. Today, this is the new me. I may never heal completely to the person I was before or I may not heal at all from where I am today. But know this, that I am here, please don’t ignore me. Acceptance: my own, and by my family and friends and my church family is so very important.
 
 
But God accepts us and grieves with us in our sorrow. “For he has not ignored or belittled the suffering of the needy. He has not turned his back on them, but has listened to their cries for help.” Psalm 22:24 (NLT). I am experiencing a deepening relationship with Christ. In the darkness of anxiety and depression; He reveals His goodness and His grace.
 
For he has not ignored or belittled the suffering of the needy. He has not turned his back on them, but has listened to their cries for help.” Psalm 22:24 (NLT)
 
The apostle Paul stated in order for God to lift us up and for us to be able to experience God’s healings in our trials. We need to become humble. For us to be humble, requires that we surrender our own independence and place our dependence on God.
 
“Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in due time. 7 Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:6-7 (NRSV)

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

www.estokphotography.com
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