See Me, Hear Me, Heal Me

 (Jim Estok)www.estokphotography.com

 

“Before any great achievement, some measure of depression is very usual.” Charles Spurgeon 

Frustration, the nemesis 0f depression. Stealing, stealing pleasure, stealing joy and contentment. Why is it that I feel this way? (I feel like David- do you hear my prayers, God?) [Psalm 13:1]

Depression and anxiety, feeling the inability to enjoy life to its fullest. Although the origin of these symptoms is hidden deep within me – deeper than my feelings, deeper than thoughts, and my reactions greatly influence my behaviour.

Cycles, vicious cycles. Spiralling, possessing the skewed mindset. Attitude, behaviour reacting uncharacteristically, not like me?

Influenced by and through our environment. Biases, triggers, motivations, demotivation, mood, tension, desires, dislikes, reactions- how I react, it’s not the norm, what is the norm? Is it the need to conform to worldly thoughts? Also sights, sounds, social surroundings, emotional surroundings, physical surroundings.

“Fits of depression come over the most of us. Usually cheerful as we may be, we must at intervals be cast down. The strong are not always vigorous, the wise not always ready, the brave not always courageous, and the joyous not always happy.” Charles Spurgeon

Teach me, Jesus. Please. Influence me, surround me with your everlasting and eternal LOVE. Thank you, for this season you have given me and for the season(s) this is preparing me for, let it all be for your glory.

“Sing, O heavens, and be joyful, O earth! And break forth into singing, O mountains! For the Lord hath comforted His people, and will have mercy upon His afflicted.” Isaiah 49:13

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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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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The Fallen & Rescued

(Jim Estok)www.estokphotography.com

I’m not sure why I am so captivated and attracted to photographing waterfalls, cascades and water in motion. In fact doing so has led to physical injury causing humility and humbleness.

In fact, just this week pursuit of this attached photograph resulted in a series of falls.  The first event in the series of falls came about as a result of the need to scale down a rock face using a rope and the jagged edges of exposed rock. It looked easy-but was not to be as I lost my footing and not having a secure hold of the rope I fell to the landing, fortunately on my feet. However, that was only momentary as firm footing didn’t last long and I quickly lost my balance and went tumbling down the embankment. My second fall was stopped rather abruptly by a fallen tree.

To my rescue came a young male teenager who had been swimming with friends in the pool of water under the waterfall.  He quickly extended his hand and helped me up and to secure footing. He then helped my friend down the rock face.

Now, aside from instilling a greater appreciation of hope in today’s youth. This experience brought about humility and humbleness. “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” Proverbs 16:18.

“You can have no greater sign of confirmed pride than when you think you are humble enough.” William Law

Pride…haughty? It’s a valuable lesson that in order to eliminate the risk of a fall, we need to test our humility. Otherwise, God may use a fall to humble us. Applying this lesson to my experience is one example; however, greater examples of pride and being haughty can result in more extreme life experiences. Where I erred is in thinking I was invincible and did not admit that my age ( and surgery on both of my knees)  required me to be more careful- I threw caution aside.

[bctt tweet=”If you plan to build a tall house of virtues, you must first lay deep foundations of humility. Augustine” username=”Estok Photography”]

True humility comes through the recognition that all we have, including our faith, comes from God.

 

Blessings,

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

www.estokphotography.com
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Recalculating Independence

(Jim Estok)www.estokphotography.com

The other day I met a friend for coffee & conversation. He had chosen the venue ahead of time and had given me precise and detailed directions. Of course, I disregarded his directions and found my own way to the coffee shop. (recalculating-a common GPS utterance) Just my nature to find my own way.

But wait, it’s more than just me, in fact, it’s human nature to know a better way. We all have a determination and assumption in doing life our own way. Advice, like directions, is something to fall back on only when our way fails us.  I believe that it’s our self-esteem (pride) that drives us to this independence and reluctance to receive help.

Reaching out to Christ is not weakness; we can always turn to Christ. During His life here on earth, He demonstrated an ever constant reliance on the Father. Seeking God through prayer.

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

CS Lewis said “Look for yourself and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin and decay. But look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him, everything else thrown in.”   Human weakness provides an ideal opportunity, if we allow ourselves that honour, for the display of God’s power and love for us. God’s grace is sufficient therefore we must remind ourselves of the ever present availability and sufficiency of God’s grace.

“Look for yourself and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin and decay. But look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in.

Recalculate your independence and have faith in God.

God Bless

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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Enrichment of Life

 (Jim Estok)www.estokphotography.com

“Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you.” Jeremiah 29:12

It is my understanding and my practice of prayer that we are actually seeking to orient ourselves around God’s activity in our lives and in our world. So goes the quote: “Prayer doesn’t change God. It changes me.” CS Lewis

We are not praying to a God who doesn’t care or know us personally. We are praying to a Father who exists on a higher plane of reality than we exist on; a Father who is with us in the deep relationship established through the Triune-Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Jesus role as our mediator reaffirms to us that we exist based on God’s grace. It is in God that we must place our hope.  Jesus also teaches us that we are not only in the relationship for what we can get out of it, nor are we capable of living a problem-free existence, but instead we are made to invite the Kingdom of God to continually impact the world around us and through us.

“Prayer is not asking. Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God, at His disposition, and listening to His voice in the depth of our hearts.” – Mother Teresa”

Therefore, if we start to believe that we are able to handle things on our own, or that we are in fact doing God favours with our efforts, things will surely end badly for us. Ending our prayer by stating our continued need for God, keeps us in a state of mind wherein we seek to maintain a character of faithfulness toward the one whose benevolence guides us to abundant life.

God Bless

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

www.estokphotography.com
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Against Myself

 (Jim Estok)www.estokphotography.com

“God, harden me against myself!” Amy Carmichael

An awareness I have of myself is that I know that I’m the biggest obstacle Jesus has in dealing with me; therefore, the best thing I can do is just get out of His way and allow Him to form in me His will.

Surrender, though, is not that easy, even though it is my greatest desire. Submission to the will of Christ is something I understand the importance of, know why it is necessary and is my constant focus.  That is why, as Amy Carmichael said, “God, harden me against myself.” Reduce in me the importance of my wants, desires and feelings and increase in me a desire to obey, love and serve you, God.

[bctt tweet=”Lord, do Thou turn me all into love, and all my love into obedience, and let my obedience be without interruption. Jeremy Taylor” username=”Estok Photography”]

Jeremy Taylor is quoted as saying “Lord, do Thou turn me all into love, and all my love into obedience, and let my obedience be without interruption.”  I know His love is ever available to me and nothing can seperate us from the Love of Christ (Romans 8:35); therefore, I need to give Him the position He deserves in my life, that of Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

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

www.estokphotography.com
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Mistaken Identity

.

 (Jim Estok)www.estokphotography.com

 

When I was a teenager (which is a long time ago now) I had really long hair. Life, at that time for me, revolved around music, long distance running and more music. One day I was downtown on Main St. trying to catch-up with some friends, who were up ahead, when a police cruiser pulled up beside me and the officer ordered me to get in the back seat, NOW! I complied with his instructions.

Within a block of driving with me in the back seat of the cruiser, it was confirmed by the officer through radio communication that I was not the suspect being sought. It was a case of mistaken identity.

Sometimes in life, we ourselves are guilty of our own mistaken identity which distances our lives away from God. This may happen during a season of suffering causing us to forget who we are in Christ or it could be arrogance in believing we know better and rely less on God. Either of which is dangerous.
[bctt tweet=”I’ve come to believe that God is using this as a time for my spiritual growth” username=”Estok Photography”]
In my own current season of suffering, I’ve come to believe that God is using this as a time for my spiritual growth. I know God walks with me through my suffering, not just because scripture tells me to “Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you”  (1Peter 5:7) But beyond His Word, there is significant assurance that He is present throughout my suffering.
 As Christians, our identity is found in Christ, and our identity in Christ is critical to a fruitful walk with the Lord.

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

www.estokphotography.com
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Gratitude, Thankfulness

 (Jim Estok)www.estokphotography.com

My ability to concentrate and maintain focus has been affected by my recent mental health issues. However, the act of gratitude, even through what feels like a fog of the mind, it has occurred to me that I am guilty of not acknowledging gratitude in my prayer life. I ask for my needs, only.

Why is it that gratitude is so difficult for us/me to acknowledge? We are quick to remember what we have asked for and have not yet received? And we stay focused on what we want and not the blessings received. Praying about what we want God to supply/or do is easy; giving thanks is not so easy as we have a worldly culturally influenced desire to put ourselves first.

“God has promised to supply all our needs. What we don’t have now, we don’t need now.” –Elizabeth Elliot

Our responsibility as Christians, I understand through the Apostle Paul’s letters is that we are to “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 ESV).

  • Rejoice always,
  • pray without ceasing and,
  • give thanks always.

Furthermore, I understand that an awakening posture of gratitude (meaning acknowledgement of having received something good from another) is crucial to having an abundant Christian life, even in times of deep sorrow and physical and emotional suffering. Dietrich Bonhoeffer is quoted as saying “It is only with gratitude that life becomes rich!”

[bctt tweet=”It is only with gratitude that life becomes rich! Dietrich Bonhoeffer” username=”Estok Photography”]

Let us all “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” Romans 12:12

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

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