Yesterday afternoon and last evening I had the pleasure of sharing with some photographers and the evening service at Morrison Hill Christian Church in Kingston, Tennessee. The church has a photography group and we were joined by people from several other clubs for an afternoon mini-workshop. We had a great time and then I stayed and shared in the Sunday evening service. Things went fantastic, as they always do. Now, let me take a moment to explain, because that sounded extremely, self congratulatory!!! Trust me it wasn’t. This is the back story. Just before I taught the workshop I went out into the lobby to pray. Anytime I give an address, teach a class, or share with any group, anywhere, I get alone and ask God to take over and to lead through His Holy Spirit. He always does. Yesterday when I went into the lobby area I looked up and saw the image above. I knew it was God’s promise that He – would “break through” to those assembled. When I go out to share, I never expect that “I” will be “successful” in sharing, I expect that “His Holy Spirit will be successful.”
Let me explain. Many, many years ago when I was a very young, very on fire, (still am!) Christian, just filled with the spirit, I went out to share at Sunday night service in a little church up in Harlan County, where I was born and reared. I couldn’t wait to get up and share my faith, and because I’ve always been relaxed and at ease in front of crowds, I just knew that God was going to use my talent in a powerful way, heck I might be the next Billy Graham! God in His wisdom taught me the most powerful lesson I might have ever learned. Just before I was to speak, He patted me on the back and said, “good luck, I’ll let you handle this one on your own….” and left the room….. It was a spiritual train wreck. I could not think of anything to say, I couldn’t string any thoughts together into any kind of coherent message! It was awful. The people were kind, but I know they must have wondered what insane asylum this poor young man had escaped from! I remember going out to my car and putting my head on the steering wheel and weeping profusely. I had so wanted to do something good for God and I had blown it! In my spirit this is what I heard my Heavenly Father say to me in a loving voice, “I’m sorry I had to do that to you, but you’ve got this service thing all wrong, I don’t want your talent, I want you to serve me through my strength, not your own. You are nothing apart from me, if you trust me, and let me lead, good will come from everything you do in service to me. I love you, and this was for your good….. Trust in Me!”
God had made a very important point, very clear, it’s not me, it’s Him. It’s not about me, It’s about Him. Why is that important? Because if He allowed us to have great success in our own strength it wouldn’t be long before we attributed it all to ourselves, and that would eventually destroy us. If we know it is Him, and Him alone, we will rely on Him and trust in Him. That is the first, and most important step, in following, after we have accepted Him.
So when I’m asked to go out and share my faith, I make a very loose plan, kind of a outline to hang my image shows on, I know I will share my testimony, but other than that I leave the vast majority of the time open for His leading. The wonderful thing is that He has never failed to give me just the right words, at the perfect moment, to make the point, He wants to be made. I don’t know who is there or what their needs are, or what they are going through, but He does, and he ministers to His children. All I have to do is show up and trust Him. 99.9% of the time it goes fantastic! I can say that because I’m not bragging on myself, I’m praising His Holy Spirit, His majesty, His love and wonderfulness!!!!
My biggest responsibility after ever talk is to get in the car, bow my head praise and thank Him and then forget all the nice things people say. When they stood up at the end of the service last night with a prolonged standing ovation, I just looked to the heavens and diverted all to where it was deserved. I truly am just a servant. I don’t want to ever believe again that it is me, it carries to much pressure, because if it were me I would have to do it again the next time out, and I know that’s not possible. You see, I’ve never forgotten that little church in Harlan County!
May all the parise and honor, always go to Him,
P.S. Thank you Dennis for allowing me to come and be with your great folks, they were as warm and inviting as I hoped they would be……..
This entry was posted on Monday, December 12th, 2011 at 2:27 pm
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Have you ever had an experience that shook you to the core. I did a few years ago. At Nikon we have to turn in expense reports to get personal reimbursement and to get charges paid by the company to our corporate credit card. I turned in a expense report that had an error, it was an honest mistake, but it did look suspect. A person, who will remain un-named, in accounting, flagged the error and told my boss and his boss that he thought he had found a thief in our department. My boss assured him that he was welcome to investigate me to their hearts content and he was certain that an audit would find nothing dishonest in my dealings with the company. What proceeded was a deep and long forensic audit as they attempted to prove they were right, that in fact, I was dishonest. Three months later, and hour and hours of compiling and resubmitting reports, the final findings were announced, the company owed me $310. in un-submitted expenses that I had failed to turn in for myself. I was cleared of any wrong doing. I came within a hair of resigning. Nothing makes me madder than to be falsely accused of something! Especially something like this!
Let’s go to scripture for a little lesson on how we should respond to false accusations;
Isaiah 53 New Living Translation (NLT)
1 Who has believed our message?
To whom has the Lord revealed his powerful arm?
2 My servant grew up in the Lord’s presence like a tender green shoot,
like a root in dry ground.
There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance,
nothing to attract us to him.
3 He was despised and rejected—
a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief.
We turned our backs on him and looked the other way.
He was despised, and we did not care.
4 Yet it was our weaknesses he carried;
it was our sorrows[a] that weighed him down.
And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God,
a punishment for his own sins!
5 But he was pierced for our rebellion,
crushed for our sins.
He was beaten so we could be whole.
He was whipped so we could be healed.
6 All of us, like sheep, have strayed away.
We have left God’s paths to follow our own.
Yet the Lord laid on him
the sins of us all.
7 He was oppressed and treated harshly,
yet he never said a word.
He was led like a lamb to the slaughter.
And as a sheep is silent before the shearers,
he did not open his mouth.
8 Unjustly condemned,
he was led away.[b]
No one cared that he died without descendants,
that his life was cut short in midstream.[c]
But he was struck down
for the rebellion of my people.
9 He had done no wrong
and had never deceived anyone.
But he was buried like a criminal;
he was put in a rich man’s grave.
10 But it was the Lord’s good plan to crush him
and cause him grief.
Yet when his life is made an offering for sin,
he will have many descendants.
He will enjoy a long life,
and the Lord’s good plan will prosper in his hands.
11 When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish,
he will be satisfied.
And because of his experience,
my righteous servant will make it possible
for many to be counted righteous,
for he will bear all their sins.
12 I will give him the honors of a victorious soldier,
because he exposed himself to death.
He was counted among the rebels.
He bore the sins of many and interceded for rebels.
I was very, very angry because I had been accused of something I did not do and would never do. I’m not perfect and I have made mistakes but I didn’t make this one! Jesus never did anything wrong, never, ever!!! And yet He died and took the blame for all the sins of all mankind, for all time!!! Read one copy of one newspaper and see the enormous number of sins in one city, in one state, in one week! Think of being blamed and paying for all the sins of all mankind forever, past, present, and future! In the scripture above it says, “He was led like a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth.”
Was I so gracious? Not on your life! I was wronged and demanded satisfaction. Jesus didn’t deserve any of what happened to him, but He did it willingly for you and I. Jesus did not even hate those that persecuted and crucified Him. Hanging on the cross He looked down at those that had driven the nails through His hands and feet and said, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
I have so much to learn, Father.
There are two ways to look at things in life, through our eyes or His eyes. Just as Kent Irvin, (top image) and Jim Haverstock, (lower image) both saw the same lighthouse, but they saw it in different ways. If we are to follow in His footsteps we have to see the world and all that happens in it, in a different way than we see it as mere human beings. We must see the world as He sees it. Is that possible? No, not without the enduring power and wisdom of His Holy Spirit. We can rise above the circumstances of this life, but we can’t do it alone. Fortunately, on Christmas Day over two thousand years ago a baby was born, who would free us from all that would defeat us, including ourselves.
The man that called me a thief? For years I’ve felt the hurt and anger of that event, today I am letting it go, I forgive him. I can do no less, and serve my Master, Who taught me how to, “See things differently…..”
Get to know Him today, and be free at last……….
This entry was posted on Friday, December 9th, 2011 at 2:06 pm
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One of the things I loved about the old Pilgrim’s Chronicles was that Mobile.Me made posting comments so easy, Word Press not so much. I miss the comments and the chance to interact with you guys, so here is the new system, not as ideal, but it does work, and here is how! In the illustration above from a previous post, you will see a yellow circle in the circle are a symbol and a number, I’ve enlarged them and put them in a red rectangle to make them easier to see! If you click on either of those two symbols it will bring up the comment section below the end of the post, you can then post a comment, and I can respond. Why is this important???!!! First you guys have been unhappy that you could not make comments, and truthfully, your comments encourage me.
When you step out and try to serve the Lord it attracks a lot of attention, and the enemy does not sit still and allow what happens here, to go on without resistance. Now my Heavenly Father has already fought and won the war, but it still has to be played out down here, and when we challenge the enemy he challenges right back. Your comments are a constant reminder that I must keep doing this, no matter what the resistance is!
I got and email from a person that attended our recent workshop in New England, it was an incredible blessing, and encouragement to me. I would like to pull a couple of quotes from the email.
“You know you have been a part of a remarkable adventure when you can remember every person in the group – the shared experiences, the camaraderie, and fellowship are priceless memories I will treasure! This trip had a profound and life changing effect on me. I don’t believe in coincidences, I feel everything that happens in our lives is planned depending on the choices we make. I knew I was supposed to be a part of this workshop – I never doubted it for one minute. Over 30 years ago I accepted Jesus Christ as my Saviour! I confess I have not been the best Christian- but I do have a deep and personal relationship with God. I have been missing the fellowship of like minded folks for a very long time. My participation in your workshop, meeting you and everyone in the group is the catalyst for renewing my faith and making it a priority in my life again. I look forward to reading your blog every day – I don’t think you can imagine how they’ve helped me in my spiritual journey! “
I’m not sharing this part of the note to pat myself on the back, I’ve known for a long, long time that the wonderful things that people experience at our workshops and on the blog are because of Him, not me. I truly want to simply light a candle in the darkness for people to see and know that there is a way out of the darkness, and into His light. That is why I named our ministry and the workshop series His Light! Yes, photographers must have light to make images, but in our lives we must have His Light to come out of the dark and into His presence. You can always send me an email, or even give me a call, all my contact info is on the Contact page, but please respond if something here touches you, it reminds me daily that God is still at work, and His will is being done. All that is done here and at workshops is intended to be to His Glory, and His alone.
Don’t worry, even in complete silence, I will go on, I owe Him everything, and I will not stop until He takes me home to be with Him.
This entry was posted on Thursday, December 8th, 2011 at 5:09 pm
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This mornings devotional from In Touch and Dr. Charles Stanley is too good to pass up, let me share it with you! I will paraphrase;
John 15: 9-17
9 “I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. 10 When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. 11 I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! 12 This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. 13 There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me. 16 You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name. 17 This is my command: Love each other.
Jesus is the Messiah, the Creator, the Son of the Living God, the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords, He is the single most powerful figure in the universe, in existence. The earth you stand on was created in His hands! How unimaginable is it that He wants you to call Him, your friend! In His time on earth he stated over and over that we belong to Him and His Father and that we are no longer slaves, but His friends, His closest confidants, He held back no secrets from us. He wants to be with us, spend time with us, show us His love and grace.
When I was in college I took a physics class and the professor was explaining, or attempting to explain, the word infinity. and it’s meaning. He said that if you built a rocket that could go at the speed of light and you launched it into space, it would go on forever, because space is “endless”!! I have never been able to completely grasp that concept, though it is obviously true. If your rocket went a hundred trillion miles out into space and then came to a brick wall, what is on the other side of the brick wall???!!! The reason we have such a hard time with this concept is that we, as human beings, live in a world of limits, dimensions, beginnings and endings. Everything we know has limits. God doesn’t! God is limitless. Limitless in His power, Majesty, Wisdom, and more important than all of that, His love for us!
Jesus said His Father wants nothing more than for us to be in His family! Christmas is the season we celebrate the beginning of this “invitation from God” to join His family. Jesus was born and lived to prepare a way for us to cross a chasm to deep for us to cross, the separation our sin created between us and God. The penalty for sin is death, so God sent His only Son to die in our place, and then even after sacrificing His Son, He invited us to join His family.
Some wondeer aloud what the big deal is about Christmas, some fight to have the manger scene removed, or refuse to use the word Christmas and substitute, “Holidays” instead. They do all of this in spite of what Christmas really means. God sent His son to live and die for you, that you might have the greatest gift of all, eternal life with Him…. Please accept that gift, today!