Your Life’s Lens

1 Thessalonians 1-4

A couple of years ago I received a camera for my birthday – a gift from one of my sons. It is a very nice camera, a Nikon D3200 and it came with two lenses. I should make it clear from the start that I am no photographer and I know next to nothing about cameras. This beautiful gift was given to me as an invitation. You see, my son is a photographer, a mass communications specialist for the United States Navy, a photojournalist. Because he is passionate about his work, he bought me this gift as an invitation to be a part of his world.

We have since enjoyed several adventurous outings in the name of photography. They generally involve extensive hikes into nature and because I am traveling with my son, these adventures generally involve pushing the limits. We have found ourselves lost on unbroken trails pushing through deep snow where our “couple of mile” hike turned into a ten-mile hike that pushed me physically farther than I thought I could go. We have been on trails that invariably had signs posted somewhere along the way that said “Do Not Enter” or “Trail Closed” and yet we still walked them. We took a sand dune hike that I was sure would cause me to pass out from dehydration and heat stroke and which yielded few photographs as I was more focused on continuing to put one foot in front of the other than on finding that “perfect shot”. And we have hiked a state park in Virginia that is probably one of the most beautiful and memorable adventures I have enjoyed with my family. All the while my son has endeavored to teach me how to use the camera properly, starting with which lens to use.

One of my lenses is great for “normal” use – family photos, my granddaughters acting silly, the dog chasing the chickens – that type of thing. But the other lens, my favorite lens, allows me to take up-close photos of things that are far away. It’s perfect for capturing the baby humming bird wobbly perched on the feeder, or the osprey nest nestled atop the trees and carefully guarded by watchful parents. I use it to capture the expression on my youngest son’s face as he reels a fish into the boat while I am drifting a ways away in the kayak. I love looking closely at things that would otherwise be hard to see or would be missed entirely. God created us to look, to observe, to examine, and to compare. We are by nature, watchers.

With all these powers of observation, one would think the human race would watch more carefully over the more important things – our lives perhaps. You see, the world in which we live offers us many lenses from which to carefully view ourselves and we must be mindful of which lens we choose. Not all lenses show accurate information.

There are lenses designed to capture the world’s image of “success”. And there are lenses that will capture our image and measure it against what society considers beautiful or intelligent or important. Lenses like these rarely show us an accurate view of ourselves, frequently leaving us both disappointed and deceived. They should be avoided.
When it comes to examining our own lives, the lens we use should be much different. There is only one lens that will allow us an accurate view of ourselves without deceiving or destroying us – the Word of God. First, the lens of God’s word shows us a shockingly simple and accurate image of who we are without God. Consider the following examples from the book of Romans, chapter 3 [ERV]:

  • There is no one doing what is right, not even one.
  • There is no one who does good, not even one.
  • Their mouths are full of cursing and angry words.
  • They are always ready to kill someone.
  • Everywhere they go they cause trouble and ruin.
  • They don’t know how to live in peace.

Slightly disturbing, isn’t it? Yet it is an accurate picture of any human being who is without the redemptive salvation of the Lord and who is living in his/her fallen, sinful nature. Nothing we do can change this. It is who we are.

Why would a loving God want us to view ourselves through this lens?! Simple. So that we could recognize how hopeless and helpless we are and then turn to the only one who could possibly make us right – Jesus.

Once we have surrendered our lives to Jesus, once we allow Him to have lordship, total control, He is able to change how we view ourselves because only He can change the lens.

When viewed through the lens of Jesus, we are beautiful!

His Word is full of images that capture that beauty. Consider these:

  • Salt of the earth and light to the world [Matthew 5:13-14]
  • A child of God [John 1:2]
  • Christ’s true friend [John 15:15]
  • A member of Christ’s body [1Cor. 12:27, Eph 5:30]
  • A new creation [2 Cor. 5:17]
  • Chosen of God and dearly loved [Col. 3:12, 1 Thess. 1:4]
  • Free forever from condemnation [Romans 8:1]
  • Given the mind of Christ [1 Cor. 2:16]
  • Established, anointed, and sealed by God in Christ Jesus and given the Holy Spirit as a
  • pledge guaranteeing an inheritance to come [2 Cor.1:21, Eph 1:13-14]

I like this lens! I like the “me” that it captures. And though I still have the option to pick up and use the lenses offered by the world, why would I? Why choose a lens that cannot possibly create the glorious, lasting image created by the lens of God’s word?

Which lens are you using to view yourself and your life? Something that the world has offered you? The lens of other people’s opinions? The deceitful lens of the enemy who seeks to destroy you? As for me, I’d like my life’s lens to always and only be Jesus and His Holy Word! It is the only lens that will produce a “me” that never needs to bow in shame or guilt or condemnation. It will produce a “me” that is beautifully created in the image of the Almighty God.

 

~Patricia

Planning Information for Lenawee Co. Western Days

We are happy to announce that it is time to start planning for the First Western Days Event at the Lenawee County Fairgrounds. This event will be held during Fair week on Wednesday, July 27th.      Since this is a community outreach event, our ministry team would like you to be well informed of our tentative schedule of events and of available opportunities for you and your congregation to use your God-given gifts and talents to promote the Kingdom of God and minister to others. You can expect the gospel message to be presented in a unique and mighty way at each grandstand event.

 Wednesday, July 27 (Both events will occur at the Grandstands)

12:00-4:00 PM

Round ‘Em Up Bible Camp: This is a unique opportunity for families to learn biblical principals in a truly “cowboy” way. Camp is currently scheduled to run from 12:00-4:00 pm and will include several learning stations, each complete with life lessons from the Word of God and hands-on activities. Plan to participate in this one-of-a-kind camp for all ages.

7pm

Ronnie Sowle Memorial Bull Riding: This is the Western Days highlight event and you will not want to miss it! Not only will you have the opportunity to see bull riding up close and personal, the evening will also include music by Tommy Brandt, 2014 Living Legend Award, ICGMA, 2014 Evangelist of the Year Award, 2013 Male Vocalist of the Year, along with many others and an appearance by Annie Schiller and Snickers. We are Blessed to have the Brandt Family participate in this event. Seeing this is well worth staying out late!

 

Ways that you can participate:

Prayer: Community prayer meetings will be scheduled soon. If you would like your church to be on the email list to receive notification of these meetings or if you would like to host a meeting at your church, please contact Jacques via email ASAP.

Evangelism: Above all things, Western Days is an outreach ministry designed to present the gospel of Jesus to a lost and dying world and to minister to the needs of the people as the Spirit leads. If this is an area of passion for you, we could use your help throughout the event. Contact Jacques for further information.

Camp Workers: We are looking for several volunteers to help with the Round ‘Em Up bible camp. Specific positions include set up, teachers and camp guides. We will be happy to train you so no need to worry about experience.

Information, Medical & Security: Those looking to minister in this capacity should be comfortable being on their feet and on the go. The primary responsibility will be to provide guests with information as to where to go for Bible camp. We do not anticipate any security or medical issues, however, volunteers should be on the lookout for potential problems and be prepared to assist guests as needed.

Flyers: We are looking for volunteers to put up posters throughout the Adrian area and to help locate areas to put up banners and distribute flyers around the area.

Banners: Banners to advertise your church or business are available for purchase. These will be displayed at various locations throughout the fairgrounds and will be returned to purchasers after the event. This will help to offset the cost of the event and put your name out in front of people during the main event!.

Set Up/Take Down: Perhaps you are more of a hands-on, manual labor type of person. No problem, we have a place for you. We could use committed volunteers to help with the set up and take down.

Donations: Western Days Ministries is a 501C3 corporation under the covering of World Ministry Fellowship. If you would like to make a financial donation to Western Days Ministries to help cover the cost of this year’s outreach events, please visit our webpage at https://www.westerndaysministries.org

Any questions can be directed to Jacques Schiller at: Jacques@westerndaysministries.org

 

Again we would like to thank you for sowing your time and resources into the Kingdom!

 

37 He said to his disciples, “The harvest is great, but the workers are few.
38 So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.”
Matthew 9:37—38

 

God Bless!

Renovations and Remodels

Hebrews 12-20-21

“Now may the God of peace [who is the Author and the Giver of peace]…strengthen (complete, perfect) and make you what you ought to be and equip you with everything good that you may carry out His will;”

Hebrews 13: 20-21, AMP

A friend of mine recently spoke to me about the idea of remodels and renovations. More specifically she said something to the effect of: Sometimes we need a spiritual renovation and sometimes we need a total gut-job. You, Patricia, are a total gut-job.
Well, there you go; there is nothing like a good friend to just lay it out there. So, I am a total gut-job – hmm. I have never really thought about adjustments in our souls in these terms and I have been pondering the information for a while.

We once owned an older home, close to a hundred years old. When I think of renovations and remodels, I think of this house. I originally loved the home because of its unique character. There is nothing like the character of an old Victorian-era home or a century-old farmhouse. Everything about the design of such a home speaks of the function of the home during the period it was built. For example, our old house did not have large closets because people of that time period did not have large wardrobes. The bedrooms were small and without heat because bedrooms were meant for sleeping not “hanging out”. If you were sleeping, you had blankets and did not need heat. If you were not sleeping, there was work to do and you had no need to be in the bedroom, so the size of the room didn’t matter. As long as it could fit a bed and a dresser, it was functional.

Dwelling for any length of time in an old home will bring you to a point of conflict – character versus function. While I loved the character of the house, it was not very functional. We liked heat in the bedrooms and our children wanted to “hang out” there. My biggest frustration of the home, however, was not the bedrooms; it was the bathroom. While the bathroom was functional, it did not have any time-period character, and it was aesthetically unpleasant. It needed a renovation. To renovate means to restore to good condition. It is synonymous with repair and upgrade. Yes, our bathroom needed some repairs and some upgrades. We did not change the floor plan or knock down walls. We changed out the tile, tub, and flooring. We upgraded the light fixture and applied a fresh coat of paint. We endured a few weeks of “construction dust” and inconvenience – try taking out the only full bath for a family of four. When we were finished, it was basically the same room; we had just increased the character and added some upgrades.

I suppose there are times when our souls [mind, will, emotions] need a renovation to bring us “up-to-date” with what God is doing and to prepare us for the next phase of our race. It’s kind of like when your child outgrows the train décor in his bedroom and he is now ready for something less childish. This requires a renovation: new paint, new bedding, new window coverings: something more appropriate for his level of maturity. When reach a certain place in our walk with God, He will need to fine-tune some things. He may bring us to a deeper understanding of spiritual concepts, like how much He loves us. Periodically, He will make corrections where we have developed misconceptions and He will present us with challenges designed to stretch us and help us grow. And while there may be some inconvenience and dust during this process, it generally moves along at a comfortable pace and with minimal pain and disruption.

But sometimes, sometimes, fresh paint is not enough. Sometimes what God desires to do in our lives requires a remodel, a gut-job. To remodel means to reconstruct or make over. It is synonymous with recreate or reassemble. The prefix re means to do it again. Consider how that applies to the word reassemble. To assemble something again, one would first have to take it apart. While my granddaughters can assemble a structure with Legos, they will never be able to reassemble those Legos unless they first take them apart. Or in the example of a home, in order to recreate a living space, it may be necessary to first un-create it, or take it apart.

After pondering what my friend said, I can agree that sometimes our souls need to be disassembled, and then reassembled in a different way. It’s like building a new structure with the same Legos or designing a new floor plan within the same house.
God is such a gentleman; He will never force us to let go of things we want to keep or to take down walls we want to remain standing. He will not make us close off entryways we want opened or open entryways we want closed. He never forces us. And while our souls may be entirely dysfunctional, He will allow us to keep our faulty mindsets, our ridiculous emotions, and our useless defense systems, if we want them. But, if we don’t, if we come to a place where we are willing to totally surrender to His will; if we will give up our wants and desires in favor of His; He will come in and remodel our souls. He will help us tear down walls that are problematic. He will help us close off entryways to the enemy. He will correct our mindsets, reprogram our emotions, and rip out our defense systems. He will replace the old and dysfunctional with something innovative and spectacular and the end result will be beyond anything we could have imagined.

But it will require a gut-job.

There will be dust and debris scattered about. There will be fatigue and frustration as we deal with reorganization. There will be bumps and bruises as we adjust to a different floor plan. And it will take time. And patience. And there will be tears – because an extensive remodel hurts. But there will be healing we did not think would be possible. And there will be new growth and new opportunities once only dreamt of. And every second of the process will be an adventure: an exciting, joy-filled, tear-stained, wonderful adventure. And the end result will be worth it!

If you find yourself in a place where you are a “gut-job,” congratulations! You are in the perfect position to undergo an amazing transformation in preparation for a Godly assignment. Close your eyes, take a deep breath and go for it! You can be sure that God knows what He is doing.

For it is God who is all the while effectually at work in you [energizing and creating in you the power and desire], both to will and to work for His good pleasure and satisfaction and delight (Philippians 2:13 AMP).

~Patricia

Because He Loves Us

Hebrews 12-7 and 11

4 In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says,

“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,
    and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
because the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
    and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”[a]

Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! 10 They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

Hebrews 12:4-11

Happy Monday. I hope you had a blessed weekend. I’m just going to go out on a limb here and share that mine was not so easy, though it was very good for my soul.

We went to a church this past Sunday that taught about the above scripture. It turned out to be very timely for me…in more ways than I can really relate in one post.

But here is the illustration that that I found so enlightening:

The pastor spoke of a situation where a small child had wandered into a busy road. Let’s say for the purpose of imagination that it was his child. Now he called to the child, “STOP, Come back!” But the child did not hear or chose not to listen to him. She kept marching steadily forward. There suddenly was a large truck approaching. As the child was not hearing the call to avoid danger the Pastor dashed into the road and pushed the child out of the way. It was a hard push and the child skinned her palm and her knees. She cried severely at the pain. And rightly so, because it was very painful. Yet, unknowing how her life had been in danger she was unable to be grateful that he had saved her life.

Now suppose, it was your child? Suppose he saved your child from being hit by the Truck yet he skinned his palm and his knees. How would you perceive him? Would he be a hero or would you be angry over the skinned knees? If I may be so bold to suggest that we would count him a hero! He had saved your child from certain death. Yet the child did not see the truck and is not so thrilled that he had been pushed and then received injury for it. You do your best to explain that there was a large truck coming and what was done was for their good. Then, it is up to the child to choose whether or not he believes it, and thus be grateful for it.

Now, lets take it one step further. (and this is where I divert from the sermon.) What if we…what if I was the child? I’m going on my merry way. I see something I want across the busy road and I decide I’m going to get it. I do hear the warning to stop and come back. But I really want the “thing” on the other side. So, I step into the road. Maybe I even glance both ways. I might see the shadow of the truck in the distance. But, it is a long way off, and so I go on. Suddenly seemingly out of no where I am shoved to the other side of the road. I land on my hands and knees. I can already feel the heat and burn as my skin scrapes against the hard packed dirt on the other side of the road. I feel the blood begin to pulse under my skin. Tears involuntarily fill my eyes. I look at my oozing palms and skinned knees. overwhelmed by the pain. I feel a large gust of wind, but cannot discern from where it comes. Suddenly, a man is at my side. He gently tends the wounds. He makes no mention of the truck. He does not say, “He told you not to….” But, he does say, “I know that hurts. Yes, you made a choice. Yes, it will take some time to heal, and it will hurt. But, your father loved you and had to push you, and I do wish you would here his call next time.”

Now let’s read that passage of scripture again.

4 In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says,

“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,
    and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
because the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
    and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”[a]

Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! 10 They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

Hebrews 12:4-11

Yeah, means a bit more to me too.

Be Encouraged, God Bless.

 

~Rita