I’m back again with Peppermintswirls, this time setting out to capture: looking through windows. This sounds a very bizarre brief, yet actually the results are amazing – combining reflections with portraits gives a great effect! It’s also a brilliant excuse for coffee! Oh, and also, lets appreciate how beautiful Amy is looking here – thanks for modelling!
Check out Betsy’s response to the title here.
Prayer: it’s not just a request list, but a conversation – a lifestyle. By praying at a set time each day, and at both regular, and spontaneous, intervals throughout the day, we not only improve our relationship with God, but we prepare ourselves for spiritual warfare including temptations, trials and suffering. In prayer, we come before the God who created the universe, in all of ours weakness, and just be; sometimes we don’t even need to say anything more that just, “Lord, come,” for He already knows an understands us, so we need not ‘babble!’ We thank God, we give Him adoration in awe of His nature, we ask Him for forgiveness, confess our troubles and give our situations unto Him and into His hands – we ask, knowing that God will work for the best no matter what the outcome. But most of all? We press into His intimacy and just listen – every prayer is answered, whether a “yes,” “no,” or a “wait”…
Listening is not just for the questions and petitions that we pose, but for something much greater: for God’s word. We open our ears, cutting out distractions, focusing on him, and being open to anything that He has to say. Whether a filling of spirit, a prophetic word, a reassurance of perhaps, a goal for the following day; however God speaks, this life of prayer is continuous, regular and two-way. We can’t prepare ourselves for what God will say, but simply be willing to listen as He works in ways that we can never even begin to imagine, until He reveals little by little, day by day, through prayer.
Prayer is not a chore but a satisfying restoration, as our friendship with God is inspired. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective: It gets us on track with God’s will, restores us, directs our path and mostly, seals new blessings upon our hearts – daily!
So walk hand in hand, realise your weaknesses, praise God, talk to him and listen, preparing for your life to change – he’s desperate to know you, more than you are to know him! You may not be granted the desired answers but despite the outcome, God will reveal the mystery of himself (in His love) and do immeasurably more – He will create and fulfil dreams that you can’t ever imagine dreaming!
Over the weekend, I took a trip down to Berkshire, and whilst there, not only did I discover opportunities to test out my camera and a relatively new lens, but I was also able to stay with a good friend of mine, and attend her baptism. In this moment, perhaps many of you are associating baptism with babies, family traditions, and rituals, however, this was an adult step of faith…
Adult baptism marks the conscious decision to follow Christ with all your life; not just a declaration of faith, but a significant turning point that often follows (months or even years) after one initially accepts Christ into their lives. It’s a journey through the waters of baptism, being cleansed from sin and distractions, and being renewed with the power and promise of the Holy Spirit, ready to be a new creation in Christ Jesus, living your life for the Lord!
Being able to see a very close friend, Eloise (who is said to be my ‘twin’) get baptised made me extremely proud – showing much maturity, and passion to want to continue to develop her relationship with God, walking hand in hand with her Lord and Saviour. Not only this, but the time brought back a calming sense of nostalgia, reminding me of the day back on the 3rd of February 2013, when I myself journeyed through the waters of baptism. Being able to reflect upon the past, and look back over the years, I realise times when God’s presence and spirit has been an encouragement, light and guidance – it excites me to anticipate the work that He does in the lives of others after baptism!
Yet, of course, this work after baptism is simply continued rather than established – leading up to our ultimate decision to mark our trust in Christ, God works to deepen our faith and reveal his loving nature to us. At baptisms, the person being baptised shares their testimony: how they became a Christian, and how God has worked in their lives. It can be as simple as being brought up in a Christian family, and encountering God’s presence for yourself, or a reality change, from a dark past to one filled with love. However, these are only two examples, as each and every testimony is different yet the most beautiful factor, is that all are life changing, and reveal the work of God in true honest, lives; all who hear gain an insight upon the work of God in the lives of others!
Baptism is an occasion to step out in faith, reach out to others through testimony, and to celebrate the work of God in your life. There’s no certain age criteria or pressure, and neither a checklist of bible knowledge, nor a number of necessary encounters with God – whether little faith, or abundant, baptism is the opportunity to go further, and to come to know God more as He continues to work in your life, through the Holy Spirit!
Have you ever shared your testimony? If so what is it? If not, what would you say, given the opportunity?
Grace: The condition or fact of being favoured by someone.
In faith, we stand covered in grace – in fact, if grace was an ocean, we’d all be sinking! In all walks of life, including suffering, God favours us and we can rest, sharing in his glory, as his spirit of love is poured into us, in order to build up our character and hope; grace is love, but grace is also the freedom of identity in Christ. The thing is, we are powerless – confusing, right? When we look at world and see the influence that scientists, government leaders, and families have upon our world, we may begin to think that all things are in our hands, but, this is not so true. Yes, in God’s grace, we are favoured with gifts, that allow us to influence others however the thing is, when it comes to God, we have no control: God came as Christ and died for us as unrighteous people – how many people in today’s society would die for a righteous person? Not many. Yet God died for the unrighteous, and there’s nothing we can do – our actions can neither increase God’s favour, nor decrease it. God is gracious; whilst we were his enemies, He died, establishing relationship, because He is desperate to get to know each of us – He’s more desperate for you know that He loves you, than He is for you to give your life to him! This gift of grace overflows to many – it brings the justification of all trespasses (any past burdens, God will forgive) and a life to the full. Often, the only reason for someone to not turn to Christianity, is the fear of being held accountable, yet forget about religious stereotype, and focus on the endless boundaries of faith! Grace gives us the freedom to make mistakes, forgive ourselves and try again; grace is eternal. And where sin increases, grace also increases, not to allow us to intentionally make mistakes, but so that no matter how far we find ourselves falling, righteousness will still reign forever over our lives, in the love of Christ. Grace is infectious, its liberating, and its character building, allowing us to make mistakes and learn from them, instead of living in self-doubt…
So stand in faith, and allow God to be gracious.
Good Friday, marks out the crucifixion of Christ; after praying on the Mount of Olives (aware of what he was about to do, yet still trusting his Father and bearing the cup) Jesus was betrayed, and arrested by Judas Iscariot. You can find the whole story in Luke 22:1-23:49 but skipping forwards, he was taken before Pilate and Herod, where he was trialled, and Pilate found no basis of charge. Christ had done nothing unlawful and Pilate almost released him, however under pressure from the people, he washed his hands and handed him over to the crowds for crucifixion. He was crucified, with two criminals at a place called The Skull – nailed to a cross, and left there to die, in agony. At around noon, Christ died and gave up his spirit: the sky was darkened and the curtain of the temple (extremely strong, and thick, that separated the average man from the presence of God) was torn directly in two. The event was so powerful, that even the Centurion said, “surely this was a righteous man.” Other witness came to realise that he was indeed the Son of God. But why? May you ask, was Christ on the cross?
This world is messed-up, and full of sin (we all know that) and it separates us from God, because we become self-obsessed, and involve ourselves with all sorts of hurt. God knew that the only way to ever regain us as his children would be, to come himself, as Christ, out of love, taking all pain, and sin on the cross – even though he was perfect. The crucifixion was the sacrifice, paid for us all.
Looking in greater detail, at the crucifixion, we see a wonderful story of salvation on the cross. Beside Jesus, were two criminals; Christ was perfect, he had not sinned, and here he was, punished in the same form as two criminals. One of these criminals, began to insult Jesus, yet this is where the story become so marvellous – the other sinner told him to stop! He rebuked saying, “Don’t you fear God, since we are under the same sentence? We are punished justly for we are getting what we deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” At deaths door, this criminal accepted that Christ was Lord, and he then looked to him, in trust and faith saying, “remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And Jesus responded, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” Here is a criminal, deserving of nothing, seeking God, and being saved with eternal life. At this minute, the criminal’s deeds were taken from his cross, and placed onto Jesus’ righteous cross. His punishment was taken – he was vindicated, and given eternal life despite his criminal acts.
Vindication is beautiful:to show that someone is not guilty of crime. In other words, through the sacrifice of Christ, all of our guilt, shame and wrong doing, has been put to death on his cross. Have you ever done something that you shouldn’t have done, and never quite forgiven yourself – or perhaps felt extremely ashamed about? Perhaps it was a crime, or maybe just a broken friendship, or telling a lie. Either way, no matter how big or small, God wants to vindicate you from this – he has already died for it, and has also died for all the wrong things that you will do in the future. What does it take? It takes trust and faith – being able to say, “You know what God, I know you can take this, and I know that you died for me, so I give all to you” That’s all – it’s not about being perfect, or doing so many good deeds, but it’s simply lifting your head, seeking his face and giving it over to his control. This is all because of love: For God so loved the world, that he gave his only son, so that whoever beleives in him, shall not die but have eternal life. John 3:16. Once we seek God’s face, he places a coat of salvation over us – imagine it bright white, and when ever God looks at you, he sees the pure white light of Christ, knowing that you are righteous because you have been vindicated – you are saved, and one of his children, to be granted life.
So seek God’s face – stop trying to be perfect, but rest in him, allowing the blood of Christ, and the gracious love of God, displayed on Good Friday, to fulfil you and make you righteous in him. Forgive yourself – all wrong doing, judgement, appearance and reputation has been put to death in him. Look beyond yourself, to the cross, and come to know his compassionate power, of forgiveness and sacrifice. This is love, selfless love – agape love. A love that brings life to the full!
I’d love to answer any questions – or any prayer requests! Or, perhaps, you would like to share your own personal thoughts about the events of Good Friday!
Palm Sunday: dating back to Christ’s journey to Jerusalem exactly one week before his resurrection. Pinpointing straight-out, important facts, Jesus rode to Jerusalem on a donkey as crowds cheered, singing, “Hosanna” and laying down not only palm leaves, but also their coats upon the roads for the donkey to walk upon…
John 12:13 So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!”
Read the full story here:http://www.gotquestions.org/Palm-Sunday.html#ixzz3VzEphdtA
Humility, would be a very appropriate term to use when describing the events of Palm Sunday. Now, lets picture a colt – dirty, lowly and unworthy; there’s no way that the Queen of England would visit your town (or say a big city such as London) riding on a horse, unprotected and without it having had a groom before hand – never mind a donkey! Its also unlikely that she would not be accompanied by a cavalry band of some sort but here, is the King of Kings, humbling himself, making himself much lower than others, and enduring what in my opinion, would be a very uncomfortable ride… But that’s the thing, despite his glory, Christ isn’t about status and wealth but is and forever will be about compassion and humility! By choosing a colt, he made himself available for all, and allowed others to be on the same level as him – don’t you see? His humility was perfect and welcoming.
Not only was this display of humility alone so magnificent, but so was the response; the crowds threw down their cloaks (that were most probably required for the journey home) and palm leaves, so that the donkey would not have to walk upon the dirty road – I can be sure that it’s not only I, that finds this slightly unusual considering that a donkey is used to such muddy, outdoor environments. Yet, looking further, this is what makes the event so significant – these people knew who was riding! He wasn’t just the healing, lowly Jesus, leader of the apostles but he was the Son of God – the Messiah! In awe, they through down their cloaks in worship, as if bowing to him, and sang “Hosanna,” which is defined as an expression of joy and adoration. Everybody in the crowds was in complete awe of Christ despite his appearance, as a lowly, colt-riding carpenter. Through his humility, they saw compassion and holiness singing, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” They weren’t just excited, but awakened as they truly experienced the King of Kings, before them – in person!
With Palm Sunday, just having passed, we can reflect upon this event in order to shape our faith. Looking at Christ’s perfect example of humility, we can ask him to help direct us towards changes in attitude – to notice our boasting or high status, turning to humility and making others equal to, or higher than ourselves, rather than being a careless, “Look at me” individual. Becoming humble is key – it causes us to fully rely on God and our identity in Christ, as we allow his word to fulfil us.
Finally, we can respond as many did that day, by going to God and declaring him as Lord – King of Kings, whilst expressing adoration and praise; when we choose to shout with Joy, for the Glory of God, we fill with Godly excitement, and passion! Recommitting to God this Easter, whether as a first or a hundredth, and choosing to live a life of love, passion and satisfaction as we walk with our father (the King over all the earth and heavens) is the start to a fulfilling life, that God so desperately wants to give us (I have come so that they may have life, and have it to the full John 10:10). So respond, await and be excited about Easter!
Come back on Friday for the next post, in this year’s Easter series! What was the most exciting day of your life? I’d love to hear!
After months and months of GCSE photography coursework (of which is still live and unable to be published), I have finally completed the 10 hour exam! I found that my love for photography was stripped from me during the course and am very thankful to have finished – a school exam-based ritual did not fit with my style of creativity, and I found the topics restricting at times. My latest exam project involved slicing fruit and shining light through it, to create abstract works and actually, I found it enjoyable, allowing me to develop my own photographic style. There were drawbacks but also advantages to the subject; one thing’s for sure, I learnt a lot about how to use my camera! This is my first of many sequence projects that I now plan to set out and capture! This post is all about the use of light! For the background, I used a dark reflective surface, put some crinkled kitchen foil in the background, and used a tripod to shoot whilst lighting the foil with a desk lamp. I found that F5.6 (Av) worked best to really capture the light!
New year, a new start and a time to draw up endless possibilities – to live again! Often, we make resolutions, hoping that this year, we will not give up, but persevere unlike all previous years… Why? I guess when we get tthe opportunity to start afresh, almost repent, we jump because it allows us to feel whole again, and in control, able to individually change either our own lives, or the life of another!
The digits, 2015, for me, sound excitement and wonder into my thoughts! I guess it’s going to be my year, filled with exams, travel, a new college and lots of opportunities – after all, I have been scribing 2015 as the year, on the date since May! Oops! I hope and pray that your 2015 will be even better than mine!
Due to my excitement for 2015, I really wanted to make a difference through my resolutions; in summary, I have chosen to give, save and love. For a while, I have felt that I want to do more, to actively give, and so, each month I am going to do a giving project (some of these, I plan to involve readers) where I don’t just give money, but work on something over the month that I can give, or use to help the wider community. The saving aspect, is something individual, that I can target upon in order to improve – it’s simple, spend less and save more money by banking. This is so that the money is their for the future, for travelling or other opportunities! Finally, love; this year I will continue to share Gods love, and try to judge less – this world can often think it acceptable (sometimes even I myself) to judge others upon the flesh: on looks, background, talents… But no, I want to live, accepting all people (for this earth would be extremely dull if no-one was different) and through this, spread the love of God, hopefully encouraging others to also judge less and love more!
So hello to 2015! I await the experiences, opportunities, lessons and love filled memories that you will bring!