Have you ever found yourself in a place where you’ve grown weary ~ Peggy Reeves


Friday, September 11, 2009

FAN INTO FLAME THE GIFT

Have you ever found yourself in a place where you’ve grown weary of the journey or just tired of feeling like you’re spinning your wheels? Have you ever had a time when you’ve become fearful of what the future holds…fearful that things won’t play out they way you dreamed. Perhaps you doubt your abilities and strength to carry out your calling. Maybe you are in a rut and you just can’t see past your circumstances to move forward. There is some valuable advice in the Word of God, a letter that Paul wrote to Timothy. It is actually one of my favorite passages because I have experienced it within my own life and seen it work in the lives of others.

Timothy, who like Paul and is called to preach, is pulling back and reacting to his circumstances with a timid-fearful approach. Paul knows and cares for Timothy like a brother. He knows the faith that Timothy has within and personally laid hands on him when he was anointed into the ministry of sharing the gospel.

With great concern Paul writes a letter to
Timothy and shares these words of encouragement with him, “For this very reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God did not give you a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me His prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God.” 2Timothy 1:6-8

Paul is telling Timothy to NOT pull back in fear, to not “react” but to be proactive by fanning into flame the Gift of preaching…of sharing the gospel and to get busy doing what God has gifted him to do! Paul is saying don’t respond in fear….that is not you! Respond in the spirit of power (from the Holy Spirit living within you). Respond in love (a love that sees beyond the action of man) and respond in self-discipline (that is grounded in the strength and truth of your Lord Jesus Christ).

Like Timothy I have had times when I have reacted…grown weary…and responded with a defeated attitude. You know what happens when you react? You became saturated with fear; you react by acting unloving to others and to God. Life quickly becomes undisciplined as you are paralyzed in a fog of no purpose with no focus.

See, when you pull back you crack open the door to disobedience and to living a life overcome by fear—the fruit of fear is the total opposite of the fruit of living in the Spirit. Fear gives Satan the opportunity to flood your mind with lies and your life with a defeated spirit. That is not what God has for you!

God has gifted each of you with a purpose utilizing your gifts. The using of your gifts are an expression of the Holy Spirit living within you. He wants you to live continually fanning into flame the gift of God within you. For each of you that is different but to each it is vital to carrying out God’s call on your life and enriching the lives of others.

Paul was also called to preach and yet he was chained in prison as he wrote this encouraging letter to Timothy. At that time, Paul wasn’t out among the people preaching to the masses. He was imprisoned but he still continued to carry out the call on his life. Maybe things aren’t going the way you dreamed, maybe it seems like you aren’t making a difference, or maybe you are stuck. Fan into flame the gift of God within you. Get busy doing what you have been called to do.

Perhaps God is doing something bigger in what appears to be a small minuscule kind of way. Paul’s letters may have seemed small at the time but today they make up most of the New Testament and continue to make a vital difference in the lives of others. I’m sure, while Paul was writing this letter, he wasn’t thinking; I sure do hope this makes it into the Bible—God’s Holy inspired Word. Paul was just allowing the Holy Spirit to use him to carry out God’s Truth through his everyday circumstances.

Let me encourage you to “FAN INTO FLAME” the gift of God that is within you. Don’t react to your circumstances or to your disappointments, instead be proactive and continue to fan into flame the gifts, the service, and the opportunities God places before you.
Bless you as you "FAN INTO FLAME" the Gift!


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You are invited to reproduce this article for your blog as long as you include the following blurb:
Peggy Reeves is a speaker, writer and life coach. To find out more about Peggy please visit her website and blog atwww.peggyreeves.com andhttp://embracinglifewithpeggy.blogspot.com
Permission would be appreciated. Thanks!

“Am I going forward in my relationship with the Lord. ~ Chuck Smith




We have studied the apostle Paul’s list in Romans 8:31-39 about the things that cannot separate us from God’s love in Christ Jesus.

Notice that he omits the one thing that can separate you
from the love of God: yourself.

God has created you with volition—free will.

Keep yourselves in the love of God. Jude 21a

Jude says to keep ourselves in the love of God—a meaningless exhortation unless we have the power to remove ourselves from His love. While no outside force can separate me from His love, I can become estranged by choosing to turn my back on Him.

Jude gives examples of those who failed to keep themselves in the love of God.

Fear and Unbelief

First, Jude mentions the children of Israel. Though God had delivered them from slavery in Egypt, those who did not believe (verse 5, NKJV) perished in the wilderness. Why?
At the borders of the Promised Land, they refused to enter because of fear and unbelief.
So they wandered in the wilderness until that generation died.

Their unbelief toward God robbed them of the blessings He had prepared for them.

Rebellion

In verse 6, Jude speaks of the fallen angels who kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation [and are] reserved in everlasting chains under darkness until the Day of Judgment. These created beings were in the presence of God when He laid the foundation of the world, yet they failed to remain in the love of God.

When Satan, one of the chief angels, rebelled against God, these angels chose to rebel as well.

Lust

Jude goes on in verse 7 to mention the people of Sodom and Gomorrah who had given themselves over to sexual immorality. Their unbridled lust kept them from the
love of God and ignited His wrath.

Fiery brimstone rained down from heaven and destroyed them.

Hatred

In verse 11 Jude said that Cain allowed hatred toward his brother Abel to fill his heart.

When you allow hatred to master your life, you remove yourself from the love of God.

Greed and Jealousy

Also in verse 11, Jude mentions Balaam and Korah. The mysterious prophet Balaam was greedy for profit, and it led to his destruction. Korah, the Levite, was jealous of Moses’ authority and rebelled.

If you allow greed or jealousy to master your life, you remove yourself from God’s blessing.

Any of these sins—fear and unbelief, rebellion, lust, hatred, greed, and jealousy—will keep
us from experiencing the love of God unless we repent of them.

Spiritual Growth

Believers must continue to grow in their faith. And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue (2 Peter 1:5a). Peter said “add,” which means to go forward. Many people are in a state of arrested spiritual development—staying in the same spiritual condition for years or decades.

Paul said to the Corinthians, “You are still babes. At the time when you should be able to take some meat, you still need milk because you are a babe in Christ” (see 1 Corinthians 3:1-3).

When my baby daughter first said “da-da,” it was glorious! But now if my adult daughter
could only say, “da-da,” I would be heartbroken. I believe that God is grieved when we don’t grow spiritually.

Peter continues, For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor
unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.

Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for
if you do these things you will never [fall] (2 Peter 1:8-10, NKJV). If you are growing, developing, and adding to your faith, you are on the right track. You will never fall as long as you are going forward.

It is only when you are standing still that you are in danger of slipping backwards. There is no place for static Christianity. It is important for each of us to ask,

“Am I going forward in my relationship with the Lord, or am I just trying to maintain the status quo?”

Jude tells us how to stay in God’s love:

Building yourselves up on your most holy faith. Jude 20b, NKJV

Building Up Your Faith

How can believers build up their faith?

First,read the Word.
Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17b, NKJV).
Listening to what He says builds your faith and keeps you in His love.

Second, Jude speaks of praying in the Holy Spirit (verse 20b, NKJV).
The Scriptures give three ways to do this: by asking the Holy Spirit to guide your prayers; through groanings which cannot be uttered (Romans 8:26b); and by praying using the gift of speaking in an unknown tongue (1 Corinthians 14:14-15).

Finally, we keep ourselves in the love of God by looking for that glorious day when He will appear. The expectation of Jesus’ soon return gives us a proper perspective on worldly things.

Maintain a healthy walk with God, and you will never be unfruitful; and if you remain in Christ, you will never stumble, or fall (see 2 Peter 1:8-10, NKJV).

NO Islam is not taking over the World, But Jesus is.

I started reading some false ideas that somehow radical islam was going to take over the World as a False Prophecy some Bible Scholar was selling for his latest greatest book and tour on.

I got news for him, good news, No Islam is not taking over the world, but Jesus is.

We don't need false prophecies or false ideas about the end of the world or some guy with a "new vision" of how he thinks some piece fits in. We need Jesus and Him declared to Moslem, Jew, Gentile, Rich Man Poor Man Beggar and even the most despicable sinner you know: You.

We have work to do spreading the gospel of Jesus not another Book signing tour selling the latest mistake being made by men and women who should Tell about Jesus not Sell about His Coming. -MjS (Michael James Stone)




Saeed Abedini walked through the crowded streets of the populous Middle Eastern city. A member of the radical Hezbollah party, he was plotting the murder of a Christian pastor who had told him Jesus Christ was Lord. Then he planned to kill himself.

A devoted Muslim all his life, Saeed thought he was spiritually complete by keeping the traditions of Islam, fasting, and reading the Quran. But he felt no peace—only a heavy cloud of depression that weighed on him day and night.

He thought about the Christian’s claims of Jesus. Saeed had been taught that Jesus was a prophet but was not the Son of God, and that He was not crucified nor did He rise from the dead. The Christian’s claims—that Jesus was God, that He died on the cross and rose again—were
considered blasphemous according to Islam.

So Saeed would first kill the pastor for blasphemy and then commit suicide.

He turned into a downtown park. His dark thoughts were interrupted when two men approached him with friendly faces. They shared the Gospel with him—that Jesus’ death on the cross was payment for Saeed’s sins if he would only believe in Jesus. They said that God had spoken to them and showed them the truth.

Saeed looked from one man to the other: Why would God speak to these men when He had not spoken to anyone since Muhammad?

After a prophecy which they gave Saeed came true, Saeed eventually turned to Jesus Christ as
his Savior. Because Islam teaches that the Bible has been corrupted, Saeed wondered whether
Jesus really would return. One night, with his heart full of questions, he fell asleep.

He related the life-changing experience: That night, he was suddenly awakened by what sounded like a voice saying, “Saeed, I am coming back soon. Go preach My Gospel.”

Groggy, Saeed was momentarily confused before lapsing back into sleep. The same
message awoke him two hours later. Then around 4 a.m., he was jolted from sleep Story by Christmas McGaughey From Hezbollah to Christ: Saeed Abedini again. He related: “The voice was so powerful— like thunder—and there was a great light in my room … I said, ‘OK. Amen. I
will do it.’ …

Then I could see the back of Jesus walking away into the mountains.”

“And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work. … I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star.” Revelation 22:12, 16

From that day on, Saeed began sharing the Gospel on the streets. He prayed as he walked, and the Holy Spirit seemed to steer him toward certain people. “One day the Lord showed me a lady wearing a full Islamic veil. It is not custom for a man to talk to a woman on the street, but the Lord kept putting on my heart to go and talk to her.”

He walked toward her, calling to her to listen as he shared about Jesus.

She walked to a deserted street and turned to him. She was crying. She told Saeed that she had been planning to kill herself the night before when she saw a necklace of “the Prophet Jesus”
that she had since childhood and felt in her heart that she should “give Jesus a chance.”

She was amazed that the next day, Saeed was the first person in her 30 years to share the Good News with her. “She accepted the Lord right there on the street,” he said.

Meanwhile, in the U.S., a young woman named Naghmeh from that same country had accepted Christ and was attending Calvary Chapel Boise, ID. Feeling prompted to return to her homeland to share the Gospel with her family, she was sent out as a missionary by CC Boise in 2001.

After sharing the Gospel with her family there for two years, she met Saeed. They immediately
recognized God’s hand in bringing them together and their mutual calling to share the Gospel with Muslims.

During a visit from Pastor Bob Caldwell of CC Boise, Saeed and Naghmeh were married in June of 2004; the couple continued to share Christ in the Islam-governed country.

Many times, the couple related, the Holy Spirit had gone before them and prepared
hearts to receive the Gospel. “Where there is no one, the Lord Himself reveals Himself to thirsty hearts. Many times when we were evangelizing, many people had already heard the Gospel through Jesus … revealing Himself through visions and dreams,” said Saeed.

“Where there was no evangelist or missionaries, the Lord stepped in.”

Naghmeh added, “So, many of the people that we [shared the Gospel with] already knew Jesus through these dreams and visions and were searching for Bibles for years.” The couple sought the Lord’s guidance every day.

She recalled,

“Every timewe wanted to evangelize, we had to pray for God to show us the right people because
many people in [the country] are secret government officials; [and] if you evangelize to
them, you get caught and arrested.

So it was very important that the Lord would direct us to the right people.” But they did not view the officials as their enemies.

“Many times when we were arrested, the Lord used it as a way for the officials to hear the Gospel,” she said. “There were police and officials who accepted the Lord.” Saeed recalled, “I was always worried about what I would do if I was arrested because in [that country] it is not if you will be arrested because of Jesus, but when you would be arrested. So I knew it was coming.”

First by himself and later with Naghmeh, Saeed was arrested several times and experienced God’s peace and protection.

“The first time that I was arrested, there was such a great peace over me. It was something
that I did not expect. It was the peace of God,” Saeed related. “The officials tried to
scare me, put me in a dark room, and sent a big, muscular man to beat me up. But as the
man was approaching me, the Lord put in my heart that I should respect my authorities.

So, even though the man was coming toward me full of anger, I got up and smiled at him and reached out my hand as a sign of respect. All of a sudden, a peace came over him, and I was able to share my faith with him. He let me go.”

After one arrest, the couple was asked to sign confessions of faith that would legally implicate
them for the death penalty; they agreed. The head official took Saeed aside and asked why he had turned from his Islamic roots to Christianity.

“I told him how God had changed my life and given me a new life, and that years before I was ready to kill myself,” Saeed said. “As I was telling him about Jesus, I saw tears roll down his face. He said that he had never heard anything like this before.”

The official ripped up their confessions and released them under the condition that they
secretly bring him a Bible. As the couple continued sharing the Gospel, many came to Christ.

Now there are more than 1,000 new believers in more than 100 underground churches scattered throughout the Islamic country, said Naghmeh.

“Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest! And he who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together. For in this the saying is true: ‘One sows and
another reaps.’” John 4:35b-37

Saeed related, “This verse is relevant because the harvest in [the Middle East] is truly
white and ready to be reaped, and we are all laborers together. Those of us who are here
[in the U.S.] are partnering with our sisters and brothers in [the closed Islamic country]
in the work that the Lord is doing there.” Naghmeh added, “Spiritually, people are very open to the Lord.

Many times when we evangelized in the streets, we would just say, ‘God loves you’ or ‘God has a plan for you’ and people would start crying and want to know more about Jesus. Many of them
would accept Jesus on the spot. … They have not heard this message of love, grace, and forgiveness; and it breaks them and touches their hearts.”

Pastor Saeed and Naghmeh were forced to flee the Islamic country earlier this year because of a death sentence. Now the pair live in Boise and have started a family. They are helping equip the new believers and leaders of the underground church in the Middle East and are seeking to reach Muslims in the U.S. and abroad with the Gospel.

Fashion Photographer Captures Jesus in 21st Century


Fashion Photographer Captures Jesus in 21st Century


A veteran fashion photographer who is used to having his works featured in Vogue, GQ and Elle, will release his most “rewarding” collection – “Journeys with the Messiah” – on Friday, the eighth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

  • 'Rest for the Weary' addresses the burden people feel because of the economic crisis.  But it encourages people to not worry but 'Seek His Kingdom first' and God will meet their needs.
    (Photo: Journeys With the Messiah)
    'Rest for the Weary' addresses the burden people feel because of the economic crisis. But it encourages people to not worry but 'Seek His Kingdom first' and God will meet their needs.
  • 'The Second Mile' captures Jesus' message of forgiveness.  It reminds viewers of his teachings to love your  enemies and forgive people seventy times seven times.
    (Photo: Journeys With the Messiah)
    'The Second Mile' captures Jesus' message of forgiveness. It reminds viewers of his teachings to love your enemies and forgive people seventy times seven times.
  • 'Quandary' is inspired by the parable of the rich young ruler.  It asks readers to examine their lives to see if the comforts of life is hindering them from truly following Jesus.
    (Photo: Journeys With the Messiah)
    'Quandary' is inspired by the parable of the rich young ruler. It asks readers to examine their lives to see if the comforts of life is hindering them from truly following Jesus.

"I was in New York prepping for a photo shoot a week after 9/11 and saw many people searching for something," recalled Michael Belk, who created the Jesus photo collection out of his Christian faith. "Similar to 9/11, I think many Americans don't know where to turn in the midst of the current worldwide financial crisis.”

Belk says he hopes his “Journeys With the Messiah” collection will help people who are anxious and looking for answers to find peace by knowing there is someone to turn to.

The photos are a retelling of the stories of 1st-century Jesus to a 21st-century audience. Included in the collection are photos of Jesus with Nazis, prostitutes, Ferraris and motorcycles, as well as Wall Street executives and high rollers that creatively address modern-day social problems such as genocide, materialism, addiction, poverty, and hypocrisy.

In the photo entitled “The Second Mile,” Jesus is shown walking and talking alongside a Nazi soldier. The messiah is carrying the soldier’s backpack as well as his gun.

“Jesus’ teachings on this subject (forgiveness) were revolutionary: ‘Love your enemies as yourself. Pray for those who persecute you. Forgive people seventy times seven.’ Jesus reminds us that, just as God forgives us, we are expected to do the same for others,” wrote Belk in the accompanying journal entry for the photo.

Each of Belk’s images is accompanied by a written journal entry of a 21st-century take on a 1st-century story or parable.

In another photo, “Rest for the Weary,” a man in a suit and tie is shown collapsed on the steps of a building. His head rests on Jesus’ lap while his suitcase is opened with papers scattered about.

“I am writing this in March of 2009 while the world is in a serious economic upheaval,” Belk’s journal reads. “Fortunes have been lost, retirement incomes are gone, and the basic necessities have become a struggle for man.”

But then he writes, “In truth, we assign too much importance to issues that, in the end, will be of non consequence. Have you ever heard of a man on his deathbed who asked to see his stock portfolio one more time? Could the time we spend worrying be better spent in quiet, soothing fellowship with the One who created it all and promises more?”

The Christian photographer reminds the reader Jesus said not to worry but to “seek His Kingdom first” and God will take care of our needs. Also, Jesus invited those who are weary and burdened to find rest in Him.

“Maybe we should give it a try,” Belk suggested.

One of the aims of the photo collection, the 61-year-old photographer said, was to strip away the “religion” part of Christianity that has turned so many people away, and share the core message of who Jesus was and what He taught.

Belk believes the photos carry messages that God wants to say to people in the world struggling with countless problems right now.

In 2008, despite the economic downturn, Belk took time off of fashion photography and spent his own money to finance the project that took more than a year and a half to complete. The project cost $600,000.

Pre-production took 10 months and more than 100 extras were needed. An Italian actor played Jesus and a production company from Rome and a film crew from the U.S. were hired.

Belk directed what he calls “the most grueling, but most rewarding shoot” of his career.

All of the photos were shot in Matera, Italy (filming location for “The Passion of the Christ”).

The fashion photographer-turned-Jesus’ camera man is considering to exhibit the collection worldwide in counterintuitive venues such as mass transit stations, corporate headquarters and projections onto urban buildings. He also hopes the images will be used in a greeting card line and small group curriculum.

Limited edition photographs, posters, 108-page photography book, DVD, and screensavers and wallpapers are available for sale. Proceeds from the sale of the photos will fund the worldwide exhibit tour.

On the Web: www.thejourneysproject.com

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