Thursday, December 9, 2010

Photography Website.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Suffering for Love.

In every dark crevice of the world, desolation resounds as a silent siren, wailing only in the ears of those in its close grasp. Opposition stands, attempting to blockade the work of the Almighty. Yet, His hands reach beyond the darkness, piercing the weak walls of the adversary. This is so through the perseverance of God’s soldiers, who stand brave and overpowering in their statutes. Amidst the gore-trodden battlefields stand the bold and faithful: those who embrace hearts bursting at the seams, filled with flame for the eternal cause of the Savior. Amidst the abhorred stains of evil’s sword stand the martyrs.

“Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus.” (2 Timothy 2:3).

Paul, the greatest of all warriors for Christ, joyfully declared, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” (Romans 8:18). Suffering the most unimaginable of torments for Christ’s precious name stands as a prolific agent of joy. Human beings are present on this unforgiving fragment of dust and waste for the length of the blink of an eye. This segment of God’s creation has been rendered destitute as a result of perversion by sin. It has been prostituted to the depths of hopelessness, where darkness spawns absent and despicable forms that aim to engulf love. Those bound by Christ’s ever-present adoration find themselves among the lost and oppressive at every turn. One mission has been assigned: share God’s overwhelming love with those who stray form the Creator. This one mission has been grasped to the point of near exhaustion; yet, the faithful do not waver, nor do their hearts falter. Christ is worth every ounce of earthly suffering, for the pain will cease, and its subjects will arrive at the gates of their Home, where Father will embrace child. The surreal picture of grace lies at the end of the road marked with suffering, and stained with the blood of the Savior. However, at this intersection lies a new road ceaseless in composition; a new road laced with joy and everlasting peace; a golden shore trodden with the treasures of God’s own heart. Why stake the short road for the everlasting paradise? All soldiers of Christ have a calling: share the Way, the Mystery, with the lost who have no way, and who dwell not on a mystery. The faithful must persevere as Paul did: “...we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” (Romans 5:3-4). This character is vital when dedicating one’s entire life and being to Christ’s cause for love, for it bears witness to the lost, and thus instills hope in their darkened hearts. A fire should burn in the eyes of the apostle that acts as a torch which leads the way to a life that bears fruit for the Kingdom of God. Often, the mission must stretch beyond actions and words; it must expand and become resistance to suffering; it must become endurance that leads to a heart set on the goal ahead. Christians must persevere with joy, not in vain. It is an overbearing privilege to endure suffering and torment for Christ’s holy and precious name. He empowers the faithful to endure any amount of worldly hostility, for His sacrifice is worth every ounce of affliction that could possibly be applied.

A martyr is one who endures suffering or even death for the cause of Christ. A martyr dies to himself and denies himself before the throne of Christ. Martyrs span the globe; they are present in every depraved and declining land, surrendering their lives to reach the lost. They joyfully suffer incomprehensible endeavors while wholeheartedly setting their eyes on their Father.

Pastor Youcef Nardarkhani is a martyr. He has been sentenced to death by the Iranian establishment. As a leader in the Full Gospel “Church of Iran” network, Paster Youcef’s life has been dedicated to furthering the Kingdom of Heaven throughout a restricted nation. Multiple members of his church have been imprisoned, as well. His wife and children have received threats in association with his “crimes,” which include his refusal to heed to the government’s command that his son study the Quran. Eighty-three or more Christians present in Iran have been arrested within the year 2010. Paster Youcef is one among the thousands upon thousands who face death as a retribution for their professions for Christ.

As believers, we must continually pray for the oppressed. We must also be willing to face equal punishment for what we believe. Christ suffered for us. Is it worth it to cower down and denounce His name? He deserves it. He gave His life for us; therefore, He is worth our lives and comfort. He is worth our all.


Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Rooms of My Heart.

The world lies destitute, teeming with forces of evil and unforgiving oppression. We need something to ease the pain, something to grasp for contentment. Likewise, we need something to embrace us, to fill the overwhelming and bottomless void that consumes our lost souls. We need a presence to replenish and redeem us, to occupy the abhorred, garbage-filled rooms of our hearts. We need Jesus Christ. Our hearts have been destined to be the abodes of Christ; they have been formed with doors controlled only by us, His creation. He knocks eagerly, beckoning for us to give Him the joy of our fellowship. His desire is to reside in us and to lead us. First, however, we must let Him in with open arms, wholeheartedly motivated to give Him complete control of our souls and our earthly beings. Such a joy as this cannot and will never be rivaled by any force comprehendible by the finite human mind.

I invited Christ into my heart one evening. The joy of this redefinition of my existence wrought an overwhelming sensation upon my form; I was overcome by sporadic bursts of exultation at the constant unbelievable realization of my new life. I immediately felt His warm, comforting embrace; I felt His quenching presence in my being. I vowed to submit my life to Him upon that majestic display of His inconceivable capacity. I knew that such a vow required endless exertion, yet I looked ahead joyful, determined to strive for excellence through Him. Each room of my once empty heart requires remodeling. My mind is bound with the recognition that each area must be made perfect and hospitable, molded to His standards. To this day, I utilize myself, sacrificing the norms of society and pleasure, with the purpose of striving towards this goal. To this day, I seek the countenance of Christ, that His love may resound throughout the halls of my heart.

The Library

The library serves as the designated study area of my abode. Within its thick walls lie the inner workings of my mind: my creations and my thoughts. It is a room congested with books, which collectively house the thoughts conceived by my deplorable imagination. Pictures line the short walls, excreting an ardor of pessimism and woe. As I accompany Christ in His tour of this particular room, I never cease to doubt my stability of sanity. I am constantly reminded of my faults of mind and comprehension. My human nature often binds me with my authorization. I am embarrassed to allow my Savior to view such horrid remnants of my past; and I am humiliated as He views my wretched composition. In order to maintain my peace of mind, I must be willing to redefine my standards each day. I must be willing to refill my library with literature that brings honor to His name, literature that, when utilized, will yield blessings of eternal value. Every thought conceived in my mind must be held captive by the joy I seek in God.

The Dining Room

The dining room houses each of my desires; it is where I indulge in the necessities of survival: nutrition, or the lack thereof. It is the place where I quench my thirst and satisfy my desires. Unfortunately, many of the dishes presented in the dining room are of worldly origin and classification. Secular food is acceptable, as long as it remains neutral, as opposed to dissenting; secular food must be intertwined with an immense amount of food that supports my walk with God. I must indulge in spiritual food that only makes me hunger for more of God’s presence and love. This room, as well, reveals embarrassing aspects of my character that are in dire need of reformation and assistance.

The Living Room

The living room serves as my zone of comfort, my retreat from the sorrows and commotion of the world. This room has, by name, been set apart as a residence in which Christ and I can fellowship and grow closer together. When I take time to leave the hectic “necessities” of the world, this time with Christ proves to be an incredibly soothing and sensational experience. Unfortunately, however, I do not always set such time apart for this. I often lose focus of the goal and the necessities of Christianity, for it is more than a status: it is a relationship. I find myself straying away from Christ, and, as a result, the fruits of our fellowship wither. Despite my inconsistence, Christ remains faithful. He sits and waits for me to come in. Each time I throw my selfishness aside and see this, I am overcome by incessant tears. I must constantly realize the love He has for me; it does not wither as does mine. It is vital that I set my focus on Christ and immerse myself in the actions that reap favors of eternal value.

The Workroom

The workroom lies within my basement. It is the place where I apply my knowledge and imagination and create miscellaneous devices. My talents and skills are implemented in this room. The fruits of my being lie on the workbenches, strewn out for all to see. The sad thing is, my work reflects minuscule amounts of effort. It is quite humiliating for me as Christ views this. I should, according to Christ, work to my fullest ability to create products that further the Kingdom of Heaven. I must let Christ work through my hands, which are desolate in skill compared to His. I must let His spirit consume me so that I do not become discouraged. If I give my whole self to Christ’s embrace, His work and purpose will be effectively furthered.

The Recreation Room

The playroom is the area designated for friendly associations and jubilant gatherings. It often serves as my personal vault, in which I hide my unGodly affiliations. When Christ asks to accompany me on my escapades, I often leave Him at home, promising to spend time with Him later. Each time, I feel desperate and horrible. I rightfully feel as though I have attempted to run from God. Of course, this yields nothing of value; it only forces the degradation of my soul. This room constantly requires remodeling. I know the most fruitful of events will only come when I spend time with God. He must be ever present each time I embark on a mission, seeking enjoyment. As a result, He will transform my character gradually, and I will serve as a better witness for His name.

The Hall Closet

The hallway closet stands constantly enclosed, bearing secrets that only my being is aware of. The door remains closed, remote from the world’s reach. I protect its contents behind lock and key. Every once in a while, I will add or remove something from this dungeon. Unlike me, Christ refuses to forget this mystery that I so often strive to overlook. He refuses to leave the mess unattended, left alone only to build up and burst forth from my tongue. Its contents could ruin me and deprive me of my happiness if exposed. I am always in desperate need of a reformation and cleansing of this labyrinth. With its remnants dispersing an ardor of putrid wretchedness, Christ alters His path so that He can save Himself from such misery that would come upon viewing the closet’s contents. We constantly must collaborate in order to rid my heart of these atrocious aspects of my character. Hidden issues constantly eat at the soul and diminish the influence that I try to maintain for Christ. That is why it is so vital that these are addressed.

When I gave my entire being to Christ and devoted my life to Him, I tried to make myself a better example by embracing Christ’s character. He resided in my heart, but there was something missing: I had not allowed Him to take over; I had not handed Him the key. Only when this is done can Christ work in me.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Literary Comparisons As They Apply to Life.

I recently read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and composed a compilation of its themes and the life lessons contained within their meanings....

The overall corruption of society concerning moral laws is significantly and abundantly illuminated in the story. This unethical and even nefarious corruption encompasses all of humanity, and there is no escaping it. As the protagonist embarks on his journey of freedom and escape, he is further introduced to the hideous and ruthless components of both humanity and society. His impertinent awakening constantly harasses his ideological and moral compass, which he barely even possessed in the first place, and forces him to conjure up reasonable explanations for wrongdoing, thus creating a loose system of self-conceived morals. There is no decently educated being with a knowledge of absolute truth in within the boy’s vicinity who is willing or able to foster his curious needs and teach him during these vital times of complicating discovery. This truth of societal corruption is presented as an inevitable and detrimental aspect that unfortunately exists. It is presented as a fair warning, and the trials of the protagonist are shown to exhibit the difficulties of it all; and these trials must be heavily observed, for they speak volumes that allude to present-day application. The vitality of having an earthly mentor and, more importantly a relationship with the Heavenly Father, is communicated. Without this guidance, one may become left to form inaccurate explanations for good and evil and, therefore, become corrupted and weak in his or her views, leaving a means by which external situations, specifically fallacious laws and trends, can penetrate the mind and thus affect the heart and its condition. Worldly society, as a majority, is entirely selfless and turned away from the Face of the Almighty. Humanity must be wary of prejudiced and unreasonable logic, as it affects all things within its reach; individuals often possess two sides of a moral viewpoint, consequently causing unreasonable bias and discrimination, and society, as it is affected by the people within it and above it, often overlooks fair and moral justice. The world is teeming with hypocrisy. Although the facts prove to be considerably pessimistic, they are vital, for they are nothing but truth. Both sides, positive and negative, good and evil, must be known, for both sides affect the amount of success in all situations. In an excerpt from 1 Peter 2:13,14, humanity in its entirety is commanded to “Submit to civil rulers ‘for the Lord's sake.’ ...[and] obey [the laws of the land] or stand condemned before God.” However, in Acts 5:29, which states, “We disobey only when obedience to civil law would involve us in disobeying Divine law,” it is clarified that Divine law, which is God, governs and exists above all physical laws. Despite the corruption of the world, humanity must persevere and look to the omnipotent and omniscient Face of Love, in order to successfully preserve the spirit and mind.

The profound presence of the discovery of equality by a young soul within the pages of the story exist to outmaneuver all hints of prejudice in existence today. This story was written during the struggles of slavery and intense, heated discrimination; blacks, which were considered property that produced blood and sweat as standard fruits of labor, were loathed and degraded and placed beneath all of humanity. Therefore, the pure fact that this revelation of a young mind has been documented as literature is truly revolutionary in every element. A true view of humanity and society as it was in the era in which racial oppression existed to a maximum extent is immensely valuable, for it depicts the evolutions of racism; and such knowledge can and shall be applied today, for, as long as evil is present, prejudice will be toiling and flaming amongst the land. Human beings must recognize the values of equality and overlook prejudices, which have become so imminent in society, due to individual hatred, and view all of humanity with an eye of peace and acknowledge the uniformity and value of life as God created it. Genesis 1:27 proclaims, “So God created man in His own image...” Through God, all men have been created equally, possessing equal value and being equally loved by the Savior. Humanity is commanded to treat others with consideration of this truth. This problem that surfaced and bled to infect parts of humanity must be avoided and countered with the love of Christ. A pure heart cares for all, despite physical differences and behavior. The young protagonist of the story is convicted of this very truth. During his adventure, he is accompanied by a runaway slave. Throughout the entire escapade, the slave is referred to as one man’s property. However, as the runaway continues to speak and interact with the young campaigner, his equality becomes evident, especially when he talks of his family and the love he has for the boy, and the protagonist is pummeled with the revelation that the two are equal in value and spirit. Judgement, which is out of place for man, and discrimination is an abomination of the law of the Lord. All of humanity must embrace Galatians 5:14, which says, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” This love is life as it should be, and it is God’s glory defined.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Character of Christ: What I Want to Be.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning...The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:1 and 14 clearly present and shed light upon the incredible truth that Jesus Christ, the Messiah and Savior, who is fully God, came to dwell on this earth in human flesh. Considering they are One, He therefore possesses the characteristics of our Father and the Lord of all; and throughout His life on this earth, our Savior illuminated these characteristics in all that He did. He was, and is, and will forever be perfect, after all. Any human being with a healthy conscience and a sane, sound mind would surely have the desire to follow in these steps and be as Christ, wouldn’t they? Christ undoubtedly inspired an innumerable amount of people in the way that He presented Himself; He also willingly and obediently died to save us from our deplorable nature and sin. Again, a question comes forth: Why would anyone turn away from the opportunity to accept such a marvelous Savior, and thus emulate His nature? The questions never cease; but neither does unfailing His love for us. I desire to obtain every single characteristic of Jesus Christ, of course. This, however, is simply impossible, for I am not a perfect, eternal, all-powerful being. There are three characteristics of Christ, however, that I most of all desire to illuminate throughout my life each and every day; these include humility, patience, and a loving spirit.

First of all, I certainly have a strong desire to exemplify Christ in practicing humility. Matthew 20:28 says, “Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." Jesus Christ ultimately longed to serve out of uncomprehendable love. He basically lived in poverty, travelling from home to home; this is not the standard impression of how a king should go about. Jesus could have easily obtained riches and limitless wealth. Rather, He exercised the natural selflessness that He so perfectly possesses, and focused completely on the mission given to Him by the Father. Christ did all these things out of humility. He was entirely selfless. He joyfully contributed every ounce of His time to His people; whether He was preaching to them, healing them, or even praying for them. “...but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross!” As Philippians 2:7-8 states, Christ Jesus redefined humble as the world knew it; He brought forth an overwhelming realization of the unfathomable love He has for His people. He voluntarily endured a tormenting death for us; He laid down His life so that we can now have free salvation. I hope to continue to become more and more selfless and compassionate, for one can never be too humble. This would be an incredible witness to many people who come into contact with me each and every day. I hope to continue to inherit the heart of Christ and empathize with those who are suffering, or even simply show God’s love through my humble actions.

Furthermore, I long for the patience Jesus possessed. We have been commanded to be patient. For instance, in Ephesians 4:2 we are to “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” We are to be patient with everyone (1 Thessalonians 5:14). Jesus was faced with a great number of instances in which He had to be patient; His patience was tested constantly. He dealt with oppression, demons and even suffering. However, there is a different side to this testing of patience. Jesus’s patience was also tested when He was faced with the sight of pain. He is entirely compassionate and He most likely has a nearly over bearing desire to heal all suffering. However, this was not done every time He laid His holy eyes on it; He had to stay with the Father’s plan and not deviate from it. This could mean leaving the moment and gazing into the future of a person’s life and seeing God’s plan being played out. God may use the person’s suffering for the overall benefit of them and other people; perhaps as a testimony that one day will lead to millions of people giving their hearts to God. I desire and strive to exercise patience constantly as Christ did. In having patience, I can be a light and show the patience that Christ applied daily in His life on earth. Having patience with others honors God and allows others to see the heart of God. Having an immense amount of patience is a tool used for successfully avoiding anger, which, in turn, provides more room for joy in the heart. 1 Corinthians 13:4 states, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.” Love is patient. Christ, himself, is love! Therefore, we must be patient in love, and we must be patient as love is patient, as Christ is patient. We must be as Christ is in character.

Likewise, I strive to love as Christ loves. I cannot even begin to fathom the love that our God has for us. The slight realization of it constantly overwhelms me and forces me to redefine the normality of my life and my purpose; it forces me to rethink how I act towards God, myself, and others. Christ’s love is like no other force I have ever experienced. It overpowers and convicts. Christ, Himself, is love. 1 Corinthians 4: Love is patient; Christ is patient. With Christ’s love, we are made righteous unto the Father. Christ’s love showers over us and protects us. Through His love, we are sanctified, redeemed, saved, and made good in God’s sight. What could be better than being totally accepted and loved by our Heavenly Father? What on this earth could be better than being made holy in His precious sight? This truth is amazing. Christ humbled Himself out of love. Jesus took our place on the cross. In reality, we are deserving of death; we spit in the face of Jesus and play games at the foot of the cross every time we sin against Him; we are so terrible as to take advantage of His sacrifice. Yet, He took on our sin head on and defeated it. He replaced us; His hands suffered the penetrating nails; His face painstakingly endured the permeation of the razor edged thorns that were meant for us. Jesus took on this death willingly to save us; it was His plan (John 10:17-18). This humility and love cannot be fathomed by the human mind. Christ’s sacrifice is the ultimate illustration of love. Why can’t we love everyone, considering the fact that our Savior suffered agonizing death for us out of love? We desperately need to take after Jesus in this and follow His example. This corrupted world craves something, anything, that could relieve suffering; it is screaming for an intervention. The resolve is simple: It needs love. Christians are to show Christ’s love to all people; it should multiply and spread to every corner of the planet, and reach every individual. It is part of the great commision to which we are called. “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." Acts 1:8. We are commanded to love: ”My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” (John 15:12).

Our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ lived a perfect life on this earth. From then on, He has never ceased to show His amazing character. Jesus is God, and the Holy Spirit, Three in One. Thus, Jesus has the magnificent character of God. I strive to emulate as much of this divine character as humanly possible. All things are possible with God (Philippians 4:12); this is to say that without Him, I would be nothing, and I would be condemned to the pits of hell with no way out. But Jesus is here, and He is everything. He selflessly gave His life in order to save us from eternal condemnation, and with Him, it is possible for me to be Christ-like. Jesus does not require from us what he does not already manifest in his own person and life. He makes it possible and attainable. Once we accept Christ, we are made righteous and holy in our Father’s sight. I only long to be good enough, but that does not matter; for, in His sight, I am His portion. Of the infinite, amazing characteristics of Jesus, I long to emulate three more than anything else: His humility, or selflessness, His patience, and His love. In doing so, I desire to be a light for Christ each and every day of my life to every one I see. In 1 John 2:6, John commands us to “...walk as Jesus did.” That is my goal.