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
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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
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Pathway to Adversity

(Jim Estok)www.estokphotography.com

All humans experience adversity. Adversity is without favour and experienced by all humans: it has no favourites but rather shares itself without prejudice to any resident here on earth. (Planet Hollywood as one pastor refers to earth)

“If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small.” Proverbs 2:10 (ESV)

Character, true character is revealed in times of hardship. Lately, I feel my family and myself have had our “fair share”. Daunting, challenging, unsettling, discouraging and overwhelming.  Adversity taxes the scope of all of our emotions.

Positively though, it has caused lots of opportunities for me to spend time in deep reflection and times of prayer which has become more sincere, open and passionate.  It has when I take the time to acknowledge the fact, filled me with excitement, as I anticipate what God is going to bring about through these experiences of this season of hardship. Charles Spurgeon said about adversity “Christian, remember the goodness of God in the frost of adversity.”

“Adversity is always unexpected and unwelcomed. It is an intruder and a thief, and yet in the hands of God, adversity becomes the means through which His supernatural power is demonstrated.”– Charles Stanley

I have strength through Jesus Christ  and I have faith-“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Romans 11:1-faith in that all is in God’s control.

[bctt tweet=”Let God’s promises shine on your problems.- Corrie Ten Boom” username=”Estok Photography”]

Blessings,

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

www.estokphotography.com
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Shine Like Diamonds

 (Jim Estok)www.estokphotography.com

Shine like diamonds…. But aren’t we all more like diamonds in the rough who need God to supply the finishing touches in order for us to shine like diamonds. Within all of us lies God given talents, skills, characteristics and potential that has been given to us by God, who will draw upon for His glory. The Apostle Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

“What are we to make of Christ? There is no question of what we can make of Him; it is entirely a question of what He intends to make of us. You must accept or reject the story.” C.S. Lewis

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2) The renewal of the mind here refers to the surrendering too and approving of God’s will and thus being pleasing to Him.

“The way we look at ourselves means a radical change. When self is displaced by Christ, the changes are always good, but they are always deep. Many people don’t want change. Even though such change is good change.” Nick Harrison

To Shine Like Diamonds requires obedience and surrender to the will of God; therefore, we are not to live by the flesh but rather by the [indwelling] of the Spirit who helps us discern the true will of God.

 

God Bless

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

www.estokphotography.com
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Creative Design

 (Jim Estok)www.estokphotography.com

 

I have memories of having an actively vivid imagination when I was a child. As an example of that imagination were the stories I heard of Ol’Daddy Cane shooting at children who stepped on his property to retrieve a wayward puck or ball. It was said that he had shot other children with rock salt using his pellet gun. Never witnessed by me, or any of the neighbourhood kids- but still it was believed to be true. It actually morphed itself into a legend when I think about it now.

Further imaginative stories during childhood involved unfounded and unproven thoughts shared by friends whose imaginations were greater than our interest at the time of fact finding and apply reasonableness to what was discussed.  When we experience an event vividly in our imagination it can become imprinted as an experience, even though we did not physically do it.

[bctt tweet=”Hope is a waking dream. Augustine” username=”Estok Photography”]

It wasn’t that we were trouble making kids, but rather we were active kids playing sports and games- road hockey was a year-round sport for us. We also played touch football, baseball, lacrosse, hide and seek,  and kick the can etc. Our active games usually took place on the street and that meant that we would encounter all the neighbours and in doing so we would cause some inconvenience to them through the noise, disruption to traffic and the launching sports objects (balls, pucks etc.) onto their properties.

“as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal” 2 Corinthians 4:18

Faith also operates in the sphere of imagination; much of our thinking, whether planning or jumping to conclusions, involves our imagination. Imagination is essential to faith; however, indifferent to my childhood imagination Christian belief is thoroughly concerned with facts. As Christians, the Bible calls us to adopt a sanctified (according to God’s Creative Design) that helps us look beyond our own experience.

The Bible tells us that we need to focus on the things that last and the Bible helps us to look beyond our own experience: we can’t see the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit but we know they are eternal through Biblical assurance, historical evidence and through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

God’s message to mankind is conveyed through the Bible the Bible is the Word of God therefore what the Bible says or promises is not fantasy conjured up by an active imagination. It is a reality, even though we cannot perceive it with our physical senses.

So, my imagination still is very active to this day; however, now based on facts provided by the Word of God.

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

www.estokphotography.com
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