Spiritual Photography 101

camerasmart-phoneI love to take a spiritual picture of what I see in the natural realm. Today I am looking at photography through a holy lens. Over one shoulder, I am carrying a camera bag containing a camera that uses film. In my pocket, I have my smart phone with a digital camera. I will use both types of cameras to develop my spiritual photograph.

When I use my older camera, it takes time for me to get the picture I want to photograph into focus. I have to adjust the camera lens. If I do not do this, my photo will most likely be blurry. For myself spiritually, I want to allow God’s hand to make necessary adjustments in my character so that I reflect a clear image of the Lord. I will make it a priority each day to focus upon God’s Word and His promises.

Before taking a photo, I must decide what kind of a picture I want to take. Do I want a closeup of one person or do I want a group shot of many people? Do I need a telescopic lens or a wide-angled lens on my camera? The telescopic lens allows me to focus upon one person with the capability of enlarging the image of that individual. This is something to consider from a spiritual perspective as well. If I use a telescopic, or myopic, lens, I see only how a situation affects me. With a telescopic lens, I may be focusing too much upon myself and allowing the situation to become a bigger deal than it is in reality. If I attach a wide-angled lens to my brain, I may be able to perceive how my circumstances affect others as well as me. I tend to use the myopic lens and think only of myself while God sees a bigger picture regarding how my present situation affects many people over a greater time period. I recently read an article that pointed out that the word “lie” is found in the middle of the word “believe” – beLIEve. If I use a wide-angled lens, I will have the faith to believe what God has promised rather than focusing upon the lie of the enemy. The conclusion of John 8:44 says, “he (satan) is a liar and the father of lies.” Opposite of this, Jesus says in John 14:6, “I am the way and the truth and the life.”

If I am using my smart phone camera and want to print a copy of the picture, I can click a few keys and download a digital image that can be printed. It is quick! However, this photograph may not be as good of quality as one taken with a camera with film that has to be developed. In fact, the digital picture may turn out to be so dark that the only thing to be done with it is to delete it. From the spiritual perspective, I can say that some thoughts are so dark and distorted that they need to be deleted as well. In John 8:12, Jesus says that He is the Light of the World. Adding Jesus to the picture can produce clear thinking.

In contrast to the digital image of a smart phone, a photo taken with film involves a negative that must be developed to produce a picture. Especially evident on a black and white negative is the fact that the dark and light images are reversed on the negative. It is only after the actual picture is printed that the image is a true reflection of what was captured on film. Negative pictures remind me of negative thoughts and happenings. In Revelation 12:10, satan is described as the accuser of our brethren. His accusations are not true and almost always negative. In contrast, Jesus says in John 8:31-32, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Jesus offers the positive. II Corinthians 10:4-5 states, “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought to captivity to the obedience of Christ.” Even in the spiritual realm, negative accusations have to be developed to become a reality. In contrast, there are positives to be divinely developed with God’s help. Romans 8:28-29 says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.” (my emphasis) God uses all things for good. He can even turn negatives into positives. Instead of allowing negative imaginations to become images, I can let God turn these imaginations into positive images of Christ. I must cast down the false imaginations and focus on the images of the reality. Graham Cooke has said, “You can’t have a negative in your life without the opposite also being there.” Cooke goes on to say that when we are hit with a negative thought or feeling, we are to ask the Holy Spirit what the opposite is. Then he encourages us to dwell on the positive that is revealed. Psalm 139:23-24 says, “Search me, O God, and know my heart, Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way.” I do not want to settle for the negative – I want to have the picture developed into a positive reality.

Both natural and supernatural photography take time. They are not just aim and shoot actions if the best results are desired. It takes time to develop a picture taken with a camera if we choose to not just print the first image seen on the screen of a smart phone. It also involves a process for God to work the negatives of our lives into positives for His glory. The story of Joseph in Genesis is a good example. I think of all the negatives Joseph encountered because of his brothers’ actions. However, by the time we read Genesis 50:20 Joseph says, “You intended to harm me (negative), but God intended it for good (positive) to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” Max Lucado makes the comment in Cast of Characters – Common People in the Hands of an Uncommon God that forgiveness becomes easier with a wide-angled lens. Joseph refused to focus on the betrayal of his brothers without also seeing the loyalty of his God. The Lord desires to divinely develop a similar type of spiritual photography in all of our lives. Our first imagination may be negative, but God can divinely develop an image with a positive outcome.

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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Mephibosheth and Me

 

ii-samuel-4-4Mephibosheth. What a name! What a mouthful to pronounce! Did he have a nickname?

Mephibosheth. Who was he? What do we know about him?

(Jonathan son of Saul had a son who was lame in both feet.
He was five years old when the news about Saul and Jonathan
came from Jezreel. His nurse picked him up and fled,
but as she hurried to leave, he fell and became disabled.
His name was Mephibosheth.)
II Samuel 4:4

In this one verse of the Bible, we learn that Mephibosheth was a crippled son of Saul. When Mephibosheth is introduced in scripture, it is in a parenthetical statement which makes me wonder about his importance. Is this information about him an afterthought just for clarification? Why am I even bringing up his name in this blog?

I think we all can identify with Mephi in one way or another. Have you ever felt insignificant? Most of us will answer “yes” to that question – maybe we have felt shoved in a corner while everyone else was having a good time. Have you ever felt like you were dropped? Most of us will again have to admit that we have experienced discouragement when something we thought was important was dropped from an agenda and not acted upon by the majority of people. Are you crippled? Most of us have experienced a time when we have felt incapable of moving forward because we have been wounded and disabled by negative words spoken about us. Yes, in a sense, I believe we are all Methibosheths.

The king said, “Is there not yet anyone of the house of Saul
to whom I may show the kindness of God?” And Ziba said to the king,
“There is still a son of Jonathan who is crippled in both feet.”
So the king said to him, “Where is he?”
II Samuel 9:3-4

Wait a minute! Here is King David inquiring about Methibosheth. Why would he want to meet Methi? We need to remember that Johnathan, Mephibosheth’s father, and David, now king, were close friends. In a previous scriptural account, David made a covenant with Jonathan that he would always care for any living relative of Jonathan. David wanted to fulfill this covenant so he inquired to see if there was a living qualified person. When David found Mephibosheth, he restored all the land that had once belonged to Methi’s grandfather Saul and invited him into his home. David knew the significance of a covenant. We, too, would do well to remember the importance of a covenant we have made with the Lord.

So Mephibosheth ate at David’s table like one of the king’s sons.
II Samuel 9:11

The king assured Mephi that he would always eat at his table. King David even calls him a son! He is not referred to as a cripple but he is defined as a son. How wonderful this must have felt to Mephibosheth! In his book Cast of Characters, Common People in the Hands of an Uncommon God, Max Lucado makes the comparison of Methibotheth’s place at David’s table to our place with Christ. Lucado writes, “We are children of royalty, crippled by the fall, permanently marred by sin.” Ephesians 1:5 says “He (God) predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ.” Like Mephi, we may be crippled but God sees us as sons and daughters and bases His relationship with us upon the covenant we have made with Him rather than upon the label of any of our disabilities or shortcomings. Each time we partake of the sacrament of Communion, we are seated at the Lord’s table.

Mephibosheth. It is still a strange name and a hard name to pronounce, but it is also a name with which we can identify. I do not want to conclude this blog without thinking about the meaning of this name. Mephibosheth means “he who scatters shame.” When I hear this phrase, I think of two possible interpretations. “He who scatters shame” could refer to those who are crippled by shame and spread it on to those who surround them. Or, “He who scatters shame” could refer to those who break up shame so that it no longer can be an influence upon oneself or anyone else. I believe that at the beginning of our story about Mephibosheth, he felt like his condition negatively influenced not only himself but also those around him. However, by the end of the biblical account, Mephibosheth’s shame had been scattered to the wind and it no longer identified who he was. He was now a son and he lived with the king. Yes, we too can be like Mephibosheth! We are part of the family of God, forgiven of all that once crippled us.

Be proud to be a Mephibosheth!

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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Human Beings not Human Doings

 

human-beingsWe are human beings, not human doings.” I do not know the origin of this quote but I like it. It is a phrase that has stuck in my memory bank and quite frequently these words come to the forefront of my mind. While using some scripture references and quotes from various books, I am taking time to unpack my personal interpretation of this quote today.

Science may define me as a human being, but the type of life I live may reflect me more as a human doing. Physically, I am a human but I want to go beyond this fact. I am both a “human being” (an entity) and I am a human “being” made perfect according to God’s plan. This takes me to two scripture references.

God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM”
Exodus 3:14
Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image…”
Genesis 1:26

God is the great I AM and He is perfect. I can hear God saying I AM loving you – I AM forgiving you – I AM healing you. I could go on to list a multitude of ways the I AM statement could be completed but I will stop with three.

I am made in His image but I am not perfect. My first reaction to this fact is for me to be doing something to make myself more lovable, or to be doing something so I can be forgiven, or to be doing something that will allow me to be healed. However, what I truly need to do is claim scriptures that confirm that I am being loved, being forgiven and being healed by God. These effects will not be evident within me because of anything I am doing, but they will be the result of my being in the presence of God and allowing Him to work in me. Once again I go to scripture to learn how my “being” transpires without my “doing”.

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves,
it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.
Ephesians 2:8-9

Mark Batterson says in All In, “Religion is spelled do. The gospel is spelled done.” A religious person is caught up with trying to please his god by doing. For me, faith is based on what Jesus did for me when He died upon the cross. My faith entails a relationship with Jesus Christ that gives me the privilege of “being” in His presence. He did the “doing.” Jesus did it all so all I have to do is be His child. Paul goes on to say in Ephesians 2:10, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” Yes, I will honor God by doing good works, but my motive will be to serve Him. My doing is not nearly as important to God as my being! However, I still want to know more about how I am able to “be” rather than “do”.

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.
The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God,
who loved me and gave himself for me.
Galatians 2:20

While reading these words of Paul to the Galatians, I realize that I need to put to death my inclinations of doing for God when my goal is to attain His love. Instead, I am to concentrate upon being in the presence of Christ and then allowing His love to flow through me.

God desires me to do things for Him, but my doing must be the result of my being in His presence. My being should influence my doing. I am a human being a child of God to do good works, not a human doing good works to be a child of God. I desire to be a human being aware of the Lord’s presence in my daily life. My goal is to be a human doing with Him and for Him not to earn His awareness of me but for me to be aware of Him.

Max Lucado sums up this concept well with the following words, “No more performing for God. Of all the things you must earn in life, God’s unending affection isn’t one of them.”

For in him we live and move and have our being.
Acts 17:28

If I live and move and have my being in the Lord, how do I best live as a human being rather than a human doing? Several writers help me answer my question.

In God Calling, Sarah Young writes as if Jesus is speaking the following words, “Trust Me enough to spend ample time with Me, pushing back the demands of the day. Refuse to feel guilty about something that is so pleasing to Me, the King of the universe.”

In The Circle Maker, Mark Batterson talks about how we tend to focus on what we are doing or where we are going, while God’s primary concern is who we are becoming in the process. He says that the will of God has much more to do with being than doing. “It’s not about being in the right place at the right time; it’s about being the right person, even when you find yourself in the wrong circumstances…. It (success) has nothing to do with how gifted or how resourced you are; it has everything to do with glorifying God in any and every situation by making the most of it.”

Steve Fry is the last author I want to mention. He says in his book I Am, “Who we are is more important to God than what we do.”

Be still, and know that I am God.
Psalm 46:10

As a human, my being in the Lord’s presence is the best preparation for my doing for Him. My doing will have more depth and power when I am aware of being in His presence. I realize that I am not just a human doing my own thing to impress the Lord. I am a human being transformed into His likeness by being in His presence which prepares me for doing the works He has planned for me to do.

My Reader, may you and I remember that “We are human beings, not human doings.”

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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A Challenge for you: We are approximately halfway though Lent. This season of the Christian calendar is the time period of forty days when we prepare our hearts for Easter. It is a time of moving closer to the cross. Sometimes moving closer to the cross is accomplished more by being than doing. May you set aside time to be alone with the Lord this week. Be a human being rather than a human doing.



I See!

I see” is a statement composed of only two words. These two little words make a complete sentence but they can be interpreted in two different ways. One meaning for “I see” relates to being able to “see” with one’s eyes while another meaning relates to being able to “see” with one’s mind. I can see visually without being able to see with understanding. There is also the possibility of one being blind visually but still able to see with understanding. Today I am searching for scriptures that help me understand what I am saying when I utter, “I see.”

eye-1-mfDo you see this woman?
Luke 7:42

In this scripture found in the book of Luke, Jesus asks Simon if he sees a particular woman. Jesus goes on to describe in detail the woman’s past and present actions and feelings. Simon may have been able to visually see this woman while Jesus not only saw the woman as a person but he also knew and understood her background as well. My Reader, who and what do you see when you encounter a particular person? Your description may be entirely different from mine while both descriptions are accurate from our own perspectives. In his book Cast of Characters, Lost and Found, Max Lucado  shares an experience he had with a friend while in rural Pennsylvania. Both men saw a drifter who knocked at the door of a church where they were holding a conference. Listen to a quote by Lucado, “We both saw the man. I saw right through him. Stanley saw deep into him. There is something fundamentally good about taking time to see a person.” His friend helped the man in need while Lucado simply saw the man. His friend saw the man with a compassionate heart while Lucado merely saw the man with his eyes. I have to ask myself, “When I see people, do I really see them? What do I see when I see them? Do I understand why I see what I see? Do I comprehend why what I see exists? Max Lucado challenges us to “look at the face until we see the person.” I believe Jesus was presenting Simon with this challenge as well. There is so much more for us to see about a person than what the naked eye first beholds.

mirror-2-mfFor now we see only a reflection as in a mirror;
then we shall see face to face.
Now I know in part; then I shall know fully,
even as I am fully known.
I Corinthians 13:12

When Paul wrote this verse to the Corinthians, he was not referring to the physical reflection we see in a mirror, but to our spiritual reflection. We will only experience full clarity of vision when we come into the Lord’s presence and personally see the Lord face to face both physically and spiritually. The New Living Translation gives me a fascinating picture of this verse, “Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.” Referring again to Cast of Characters, Lost and Found, Max Lucado interprets this verse as referring to our “trying to see God through shattered glass.” While here on earth with our limited understanding, we simply cannot have complete comprehension. Everything is distorted through the lens of the human eye. I appreciate the imagery Lucado uses because there are times when my life appears to be shattered and my perspective distorted.

Another author who refers to sight as being spiritual revelation is Steve Fry.  In his book I AM, Fry quotes J. George Mantle from Beyond Humiliation and then comments, “Our deepest self is revealed by our attitude towards the cross. Only when we see what sin has done to the heart of God can we be truly grateful for God’s ultimate sacrifice.” (my emphasis) I also agree with the lines of a prayer by Steve Fry when he asks of the Lord, “Give me eyes to see what you are doing even when I don’t understand. Help me to trust you.”

I look forward to the day when I can proclaim “I see!” more accurately regarding people and the Lord. These verses of scripture have challenged my vision regarding both my physical sight and spiritual sight. However, my insight is stimulated even more as I ponder the significance of another verse in the Bible.

eye-of-god-maybe-link-pd

She gave this name to the LORD
who spoke to her:
“You are the God who sees me,” for she said,
“I have now seen the One who sees me.”
Genesis 16:13

I become aware that not only can I see but that God sees! Since God is spirit, He does not see with physical eyes like I do but He still has the ability of seeing me both visually and with understanding. His view of me is perfect without any distortions.

This verse from Genesis is spoken by Hagar when she encountered the Lord. She had been treated harshly by Sarai and sent away. The Lord saw what had happened to Hagar and the angel of the Lord came to her with encouragement and direction. She then gave God the descriptive name of El Roi because of the revelation she has received. He came to her at a specific location and met her personal needs. She went on to announce that she had “seen the One who sees her.” A depth of understanding had been revealed to her and she was able to say, “I see!”

Kay Arthur has a wonderful book entitled To Know HIM by Name in which she describes the names of God through the mediums of words and art. When portraying El Roi, “the God who sees,” she delineates incredible characteristics of our God. His eyes are never shut. He knows us by name and He knows where to find us. He understands us! Since God sees all, He sees our sins and our failures as well as our positive accomplishments. Because He sees with understanding, He forgives when He sees that our hearts are repentant. Kay Arthur says, “He knows where (we) have come from and where (we) are going. He knows what (we) are thinking and feeling in the deepest part of their heart. He sees it all. Right now. At this very instant. You can’t, but He can.”

music 3 mf

I see” is a statement consisting of only two simple words, but they are powerful words. My Reader, what do you see? Are you able to see on more than one level? What do these two words mean to you? Reflect upon these questions as you meditate upon the lyrics of two songs. The first was written by John Newton in 1779 while the second is by Michael W. Smith, a contemporary song writer. Both song writers say “I see” from a spiritual perspective.

Amazing Grace
by John Newton
Amazing grace, how sweet the sound,
that saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind but now I see.

Open the Eyes of My Heart
by Michael W. Smith
Open the eyes of my heart, Lord.
Open the eyes of my heart.
I want to see You,
I want to see You.

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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The Rope of Hope

 

The Rope of Hope

hope-rope-2-mf

free-ropeA couple of weeks ago I awoke in the night and had trouble going back to sleep.  My mind started going a hundred miles a minute in directions it should not have traveled.  Before I got back to sleep, I had a pity party with me, myself and I. I even began to feel depressed.  The next morning, I began my day as usual by reading the daily devotional by Sarah Young in Jesus Calling.  She writes as if Jesus were talking directly to you, and this morning Jesus was definitely speaking to me.  Listen to some of the words I read: “Hope in Me and you will be protected from depression and self-pity.  Hope is like a golden cord connecting you to heaven.  The more you cling to this cord, the more I bear the weight of your burdens; thus, you are lightened.”  The Lord knew what I had experienced during the night and He was giving me the solution to resolve my negative thoughts and feelings.  God is good!

This led me to a scriptural study of the word “hope” that I found very interesting.  My Reader, let me share some of my insights with you.  According to the Word Wealth notations in The Spirit Filled Life Bible, there are two different words in the Bible that have been translated hope. Tiqvah is the Hebrew word and  elpis is the Greek word.

hope-rope-3-mfThe original meaning of “tiqvah” is “to stretch like a rope” and can be translated line or cord. This reminds me of the story of Rahab in Joshua 2 where she used a rope or cord to let down the Israelite spies from her house and allowed them to escape.  In Joshua 2:18, the spies instructed her to tie a scarlet cord (tiqvah) in the window as her hope for rescue for when they would come back to take this land. The promise is fulfilled in Joshua 6 when her life is saved during the conquest of Jericho.  For me, this rope or cord is a picturesque description of the rope of hope!  The definition of hope (tiqvah) is expectation or something yearned for and eagerly anticipated.

rpoe-in-heart-mfThe Word Wealth for the Greek word “elpis” says that hope is not just an optimistic outlook or wishful thinking without any foundation, but portrays a confident expectation based on solid certainly.  Biblical hope rests on God’s promises, particularly those promises pertaining to Christ’s return.  This notation distinguishes between faith and hope by saying, “Hope is never inferior to faith, but is an extension of faith. Faith is the present possession of grace; hope is confidence in grace’s future accomplishment.”  I want to grasp the rope of hope when I grasp this interpretation of  “elpis.”

hope-rope-7-mfA friend and I are doing a book study entitled Cast of Characters Lost and Found by Max Lucado.  He talks about hope in a couple of chapters of this book.  When I think back to my experience of feeling hopeless during the night, I identify with one concise comment Max Lucado makes: “Hope hibernates.”  This is reassuring to me because I realize hope lives deep within my spirit even though I may not always feel the most hopeful.  God understands my meandering mind in the middle of the night, and that is why He gave me such a powerful word of hope the next morning!  Another statement I underlined in Max Lucado’s book says, “Hope doesn’t promise an instant solution but rather the possibility of an eventual one.”  In most instances, I would prefer an immediate solution but hope keeps me going until a solution is realized.

free-ropeIf hope is going to keep me going until I experience a solution, then I need to make myself a rope of hope!  Sarah Young’s words said that I am to hold on to a golden cord of hope that will allow the Lord to bear the biggest portion of my burden.  So, how do I make or where do I find this golden rope of hope?  The Bible is the correct answer.  My rope of hope is made of strands of scripture woven together for strength.  Some of the scriptures are verses that include the word “hope” and other verses are promises that pertain to a specific situation for which I need hope.  The makeup of my rope of hope changes from time to time. My Reader, I encourage you to make your personal rope of hope.  I will include a few scriptures relating to hope that are a part of my rope and may be helpful to you.  Then intertwine your favorite verses into your rope of hope that will keep you connected to the Lord.

For You are my hope, O Lord God.
Psalm 7:5
Be joyful in hope, patient in affection, faithful in prayer.
Romans 12:12
your work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ
  I Thessalonians 1:3
(hope entails time and work – it is not always easy)
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 15:13
So let us seize and hold fast and retain without wavering the [a]hope we cherish and confess and our acknowledgement of it, for He Who promised is reliable (sure) and faithful to His word.
Hebrews 10:23 AMP

I am holding tight to my rope of hope! I encourage you will do the same.

Joyfully,
Cheryl