Author Archives: tknot57

About tknot57

New York area Christian photographer who hopes to encourage other believers to live a life filled with the love of Christ

Spiritual but not religious

Panorama Z

“Now the Spirit expressly says that in the latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons.” 1 Tim. 4:1 NKV

“Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day (The Day of The Lord) will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the. Son of perdition.” 2 Thess. 2:3 NKJV

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.” 1 John 4 NKJV

I came across an article recently which discussed the findings of a survey done by the Public Religion Research Institute. The survey of some 2000 Americans performed in early 2017 found that 18 percent identified as “spiritual but not religious” and that their beliefs “transcends stereotypical religious identity.” The article sited several participants whose ideas about their traditional religious upbringings led them to find their own way of being in connection or feeling one with some “higher power.” Threw the use of yoga, arts, filling their apartment with plants, meditation and finding ways to have lifestyle choices accepted by “more progressive denominations” these “new faith” believers make peace with themselves in a world of traditional religious establishments.

Now, before I come across as some narrow minded self righteous fool let me give you some background. I was raised Catholic and went threw the sacraments. I was obedient to follow the traditions and rituals of the church as taught to me and in doing so felt empty and uninspired. I have also sinned. I have fallen away and done things “that I wouldn’t want printed on the front page of The New York Times” (as my Grandmother would say). I have denounced traditional religious sects and their empty rituals. At my worst I have raised a clinched fist skyward and declared in my folly that there is no God. I’m not proud of any of that but facts are facts and the Lord saw me threw it all. I ask that you keep all of this in mind as I discuss the article please.

If we look at this survey and the beliefs of its participants who are finding their own new way in the light of scripture we see that they are being deceived. It’s not their fault. Some organized religious groups fail to inspire it’s people. Some will compromise the basic principles of the Word of God in order to fill the seats or be politically correct.

Jesus was never politically correct or a supporter of the empty religious groups in His day. Even though the rituals and religious leaders were established by God Himself over the many years they leaders became proud and the reasons for the rituals blurred into history until they were just going threw the motions. Jesus called them out on their hypocrisy even when they tried to trap him. When the religious men brought the adulterous woman before Jesus they said that she was caught in the very act. Really?! So, these guys busted in on a man and woman (presumably one or both of them married) in the act of making love. In an attempt to test Jesus they dragged the woman before Him but the Law clearly states that BOTH the man and the woman are to be stoned to death for the sin of adultery. As we know Jesus didn’t fall for their trap and He did not condemn the woman. He showed mercy to the woman and simple told her to “go and sin no more.” See John 8:3-12 and Lev 20:10

Jesus turned over the tables at the Temple and criticized the establishment. He ate and kept company with the outcasts, sinners and tax collectors. Jesus did not look like, talk like or behave like the leaders of His time and that got Him both admired and despised. What He did do was affect people. In His short ministry He taught, healed, fed, and raised the dead. He fulfilled the scriptures concerning His birth, life, death and resurrection. He fulfilled the Law and in doing so made a way for all the world to be free from sin and hell. He will meet each and every one of us right where we are and share His love and bring new life. What He will NOT do is barge in on anyone to take them captives or seduce them with goosebumps and warm feelings.

The devil does that. The devil tempts and teases. He sees our pain and our longings and plays on our weaknesses. Jesus called him the Father of lies. The Deceiver. The Lion who seeks to devour.

It’s been said that the greatest accomplishment of the Devil is convincing people that he doesn’t exist. Even as I write this I know that many good churchgoing people will roll their eyes at the mention of the devil. After all isn’t he an imaginary foe created to be blamed for what is simply the behavior of bad people? Isn’t the dark side of our own human nature the real devil?

The answer is a firm “No!” Jesus was tempted by the devil. He spoke clearly of the devil. The Holy Spirit through the Apostles spoke of the devil many times.

Before I stray much farther from my point I will stop. Whether or not you believe in the Devil isn’t the point. The point is that there are deceiving spirits in the world. Always have been but the devil knows his time is short. The participants of the survey taken are looking for answers and fulfillment that they didn’t find within the walls of ritualistic stereotypical religion. They crave, everyone craves, the very real relationship with Jesus. They crave it because there’s a cross-shaped hole in everyone’s heart that only He can fill. It’s and old saying but true.

Lastly, the biggest take away from this post and that survey is that we don’t have time to be judgmental or self righteous. People need the Lord. People need to hear the good news. People need the Lord. Not religion. Not rituals. Not spirituality. People need a relationship with the Lord of all Creation and the Good News is Jesus stands at the door and knocks.

All of us who truly believe have an obligation to share the compassion and love of Christ with all the world. The rest is up to Him.

Be Blessed A&B

This is the link to the article I mentioned https://www.vox.com/identities/2017/11/10/16630178/study-spiritual-but-not-religious

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Give Thanks

In Your Home Is it Thanksgiving Day, Turkey Day or the just the day before Black Friday?

The start of the hectic holiday season or a day to reflect on just how fortunate we are and give Thanks to He Who gives us our daily bread? I am sure it means something different to all of us according to our particular traditions and upbringing. Some families at Thanksgiving will go around the table expressing what they are grateful for before dinner. Some of us will have the TV set to the Parade, a game or the dog show maybe we use the day to begin playing holiday music. There may be that special dish served at dinner that isn’t seen any other time of year. Perhaps the special china is lovingly unpacked for the occasion. Perhaps the special part of the day is that the whole family is gathered together in one place.

Thanksgiving Day has always been special to me for so many reasons. It represents the start of the Christmas season – which is a magical time of year. The holiday season is a time to express our love and appreciation for those close to us and to also smile at strangers everywhere. Something we might otherwise not do if not for the festive spirit in the air. For me, it is a time to consider where I was and where I am and how I got here. I am thankful for the life I have.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iGSR1-nGsLI

Give Thanks – Don Moen You Tube

An attitude of gratitude. The expression “give thanks” is noted so many times in scripture and is encouraged by prophets, kings, apostles and is exemplified by Jesus Himself. It was the ungrateful and hard hearts of the elders in the wilderness that cost them their entrance into the Promised Land. Ingratitude paints a dark picture over the memory of days gone by and diminishes any hope for the future. No matter what our past or current circumstances there is a light of hope and reason to be grateful. As long as we are alive we can have hope for tomorrow because He lives and loves us and wants to see us safe, healthy, loved and secure.
This Thanksgiving Day we encourage you all to be of good cheer, be thankful and be hopeful because He loves you.  Be Blessed A&B 
PS – Parts of this post were reprinted from last years but that doesn’t change the sentiment behind the words. If anything, this years Thanksgiving post means more to us because of all of you who have visited with us and encouraged us. This year, as in previous years, we pray that everyone feels the love of God in Christ and can be grateful for the gift of new life. Al
PSS – Hope you like the new theme.
In every thing givethanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. 1 Thessalonians 5:18KJV
 
 

 

Fitness trackers and Faith

We are a fitness tracker family. We set goals and track our steps (gotta get those 10,000 steps in!). We keep a record of our weight and our water and food intake. We compare and compete and congratulate each other. Being a construction worker, it’s not hard for me to reach some goals, such as steps and distance. But reaching other goals like weight lose or water intake can be harder. At the end of the day I can see where I am at and where I fell short. Every Midnight starts a new day of tracking and all of yesterdays successes and failures are a thing of the past. While I sleep a new clean slate is made and I wake to the possibilities of reaching or even surpassing my set goals.

“It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassion’s fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.” Lam 3:22-23 KJV

The love and compassion of our Lord are new for us every morning. A clean slate awaits us with each wake up call.

Isn’t that just our life of Faith in Jesus? We are blessed to serve a God of “Now”! Yesterday is gone and tomorrow is not here, yet. All we have is right now. We wake up with a clean slate. At any point in our day we can take an accounting and if needs be, start over. Start over or renew our efforts to reach our goals. These trackers can remind you to get up and walk every hour. They can show you the number of steps completed in relation to your goal so that you can take action to reach the goal.

Paul shared with us that with all that he had done and all that he had been threw he did not presume to have reached the goal but he continued to press on to the mark of the high calling of Christ Jesus. Phil 3:13-15 Paraphrase mine

“Forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before”…Phil. 3:13 KJV

Putting yesterday behind us and heading straight into the day ahead of us with the goal of pleasing our Lord

Just as we have physical step goals and weight loss goals and strength goals that we set for ourselves we have spiritual goals that we can aim for. Just as we may fall short of these physical goals we will fall short of the spiritual ones as well.

“All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Rom. 3:23KJV The definition of the word “Sin” translates to “missing, or falling short of, the mark”

Fortunately we have a Lord Who is full of mercy “If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1John 1:9 KJV. Whose mercy is new every morning. Lam. 3:22-23 KJV

Every morning is a new opportunity to reach our goals so be encouraged and inspired

So get up and go!!

Do You Hear Yourself?

Do you hear yourself?

In this era of cell phones, computers and social media we are in constant contact with the world around us. With that connection comes the ability to share our thoughts on some topics in several different platforms. The technology gives us a voice that is not only local but worldwide.

But, is that a good thing?

 So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath      James 1:19 NKJV

Slow to speak! What a concept! But why?

Slow to speak because our words have power.

Life and Death is in the power of the tongue and those that love it (the tongue/speaking/the sound of their own voice) will eat the fruit thereof. Pr. 18:24 NKJV (emphasis mine)

Well, I don’t know?

I’ll never be able to do that!

I’m not smart enough or strong enough or fast enough or….or….or….

Whatever it is that we think or believe about ourselves, our life and or the world around us can be heard in our speech.

Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. Matt 12:34 and Luke 6:45

Whatever we believe to be true down deep inside of us is what we say and because we say it we are living it – even if what we think/believe/speak is not true.

Jesus taught on the power of prayer (speech) when He said that we could move a mountain with our words. Now, regardless of what you might think about this idea, lets keep in mind that it’s Jesus who is telling us this. Not Man. Not Me.

So Jesus answered and said to them, “Have faith in God.  For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says.  Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.  Mark 11:22-24 NKJV

So Jesus tells us if we don’t doubt in our heart and believe (in our hearts) and speak what we believe without a doubt, we will have whatever we say.

So lets examine our lives and see what we have. What we have in our life is what we believe we deserve and what we have said aloud about our lives. We either agree with what the Word of God says about us or we don’t.

I’ll make this personal so as to make it real for you. I have been working in construction for over 35 years and have always had a problem finding reliable helpers. There it is. What I have just told you is what I say to anyone who asks me why I work alone. It is true that a long list of young men have come and gone over the years. Is it because of my beliefs about helpers? Is it just that I’m a hard man to work for? I hope not. But if I look at this aspect of my life and measure it against my speech I have to own it.

The Word of God would say that God will provide my every need and that includes a young man who earnestly interested in learning a trade and being a reliable helper. I’ll begin saying that from now on and let you know how it turns out.

Until then. Look at where you are and ask yourself if you are happy with your situation or what Jesus has said about your situation. BTW if you are uncertain as to Jesus’s opinion of your situation just read His Word and you will learn what He intended for you. Then speak His word over your life.

So I ask you again. Do you hear yourself?

 

PS. This is a topic that is close to my heart as you can see based on the many posts on this subject. I would like to mention two very important things regarding this topic. First, I am not a part of nor endorsing the “Name It Claim It” doctrine that some do. I am taking God at His Word and do not wish to manipulate in any way. Secondly, like the Apostle Paul, I am not trying to say that I have attained any level of success here. I do press on towards the mark of the high calling of Jesus and wish to encourage others. Thanks

Is this the day?

Mortality looms in the shadows of every day. It’s there and we try to not see it or simply assume it will have a long wait before stepping into our life. Until we fall suddenly ill!

In the past 24hrs I went from felling discomfort that I assumed was work related to preparing for death. Sounds dramatic, I know, but having been in a place of sudden sharp chest pain and other symptoms typically associated with a heart attack was startling. The uncertainty caused me to draw on my faith. I prayed that I was ready. I prayed for my wife. I prayed that I might make it thru this trial so as to take care of unfinished business. In a way I also, selfishly, wanted to go home.

Thankfully or unfortunately I am fine and still here and will be for a long time – at least my doctor said so. I did in fact hurt myself at work picking up a desk. I strained muscles in my chest. My heart is strong and I’ll recover. No heavy lifting for the near future. 

But, the experience was like no other. I mean sure I’ve been scared before. Even had some bad health issues. But there’s a difference between having the flu and wanting to die just to feel better and thinking you’re about to die and having time enough to consider the concept.

Paul tells us to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” Phillipians 2:12 NKJV

Work it out. To me that means self examination. Where am I in my walk with God? How close am I with Jesus? Am I being honest with me? With Him? 

Is today the day? Well, for me this day. This 24hour period is over and I’m still here. Today is not the day that I leave here. 

Today is not the day…..but one day will be the day for me ….and for you….work it out before that day ends!

Thanks and be blessed, Al

What is faith?

What is Faith? 

The text book answer is found in Hebrews chapter 11:1

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen 

   It’s paraphrased that Faith is an empty hand full of what you hope for. Beyond the text book or the paraphrase lies the personal interpretation – what “faith” means to you! I could have easily titled this post “What do You believe?” Or, “Who is Jesus to you?” First lets consider Who Jesus was to some people He encountered.

   In Matthew chapter 5 we hear the story of a lady with an issue of blood for 12 years. It’s been speculated as to what her ailment was but whatever it was, the Law of Moses prevented her from coming in contact with others. Knowing this she entered the city and made her way threw the crowd to Jesus because she believe that touching the hem of His coat would heal her. She touched Him and was made whole that very moment. In the same chapter we find a man named Jairus whose daughter was home in bed sick. Jairus believed that if Jesus came home with him and laid His hands on her she would recover. Jesus agreed to go with Jairus but as soon as they turned to go word came that the girl had died. Jesus calmed the distraught father by telling him to “only believe.” Once Jesus arrived at Jairus’s home He raised the child from the dead. Lastly, for now, the well known story of the Centurian who came to Jesus on behalf of an ill servant. He recognized the authority of Jesus and believed that Jesus need only say the word and the servant would be healed. Jesus healed the servant and commended the Centurion for his great faith.

   Three examples of who Jesus was to three different people. There are many more. Jesus met them where they were in their faith. He will meet you where you are as well. 

   So, I ask you all again. Who is Jesus to you? Is He your Savior? The God Who became man to die for your sins? Is that all? Perhaps He is also your Lord? Your Lord Whom you obey in humility and reverence? What else? Is He your friend? Your confidante? Aside from being your Savior and Lord just what is Jesus to you. When we look into His face by reading His Word we see a loving, generous, compassionate and patient Savior, Lord and Friend. He is our High Priest Who defends us. He is Healer and our Provider. He is preparing a place for us in Heaven. He will return to take us with Him. He sent the Holy Spirit to comfort and instruct us. He will never leave of or forsake us. He is our all-in-all.

   If all of that sounds too rhetorical or vague consider the lovely story Corrie Ten Boom told of two ladies who were friends. They were long time friends and enjoyed spending time together especially on birthdays. Now the one friend had a lovely vase that the other always admired. On the occasion of the seconds birthday the one came with a wonderfully decorated box. When the friend opened the box there inside was the vase she so greatly admired. With tears in her eyes she held it in her arms and thanked her friend for it. She then looked down to see the box and ribbons and bows and asked – “May I keep the package and wrapping also?”

Sounds strange right? After all the gift was the vase. The lovely, coveted vase. Why keep the packaging? 

   Jesus told us that He came to give us life and to give it more abundantly. Yes He died for our sins and certainly He should be our Lord – this is the vase. But the easily overlooked gifts He gave, like the brightly colored wrapping paper, ribbons and bows, are the freedom that comes from knowing the truth found in His Word; walking in the confidence that we are children of the King, sons of God; living a life more abundantly then the life we had while walking in darkness before he saved us. 

   Ask yourself what faith is or what you believe or even who Jesus is to you and if your not sure how to answer any of those questions – read, search, pray or ask, seek, knock and the Lord Jesus will show you Who He wishes to be to you. He stands at the door and knocks. 

   As a side note; In the story of the woman with the issue of blood we hear Jesus ask “who touched me?” The disciples were dumbfounded at His question because the crowd was pressed in close with many people reaching out and touching Him! But she touched Him in faith and “the virtue has gone out of Him.” She touched Him and drew on His power. 

We can too and should.  Be Blessed Al

Ps. I admire Corrie Ten Boom and wish no disrespect by the retelling of her story. I am sure that I did not do it justice. If you are an avide reader perhaps you should consider her books or searching the internet for her videos. She was a wonderful woman of God with many great lessons. A

Well, I just don’t know….

   Well, I just don’t know………

……if the Bible says that.

…….if it’s God’s will.

…….what I should do.

…….what Jesus would do?

    In this age of information technology why is there still so much uncertainty?

   When I first got saved I went to buy a Bible and the gentleman behind the counter suggested a Thompson Chain Reference Bible. It was a King James Version of course but what got my attention was how you could look up a topic – like marriage and see every instance where “marriage” was mentioned from Gen to Rev. No commentary or discussion or opinion just every single scripture related to that topic. Wow! What I also realized as I looked threw the topics was that God has an answer to every question or topic imaginable. Anything you could think of related to the Word of God and how it can apply to you is easy to find. There doesn’t have to be any ambiguity or confusion if you are a believer. Just look into God’s Word and you’ll find the answer.

Well, I just don’t know….

….because the Bible is so confusing!

…..which Bible version is trustworthy?

…..if the Bible is relevant for today.

…..because you can make the Bible say what you want.

   I have heard people say that the Bible is confusing because of its old world language. Today we have so many translations that speak in plain, easy to understand language. I like the King James Version, also called The Authoritative Version, but really it is a translation also. Yes! That’s true. The Bible in any English version is a translation. Jesus spoke Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic – not English. Having said that you might wonder how we can know that our English Bible is correct? The answer is a Concordance. A concordance takes every word in the Bible and shows us what the Greek (for the New Testament) and Hebrew (for the Old Testament) words were and what they mean so we can see how it was translated and learn. Granted, some translation can be more elaborate than others but I believe in God and His power to protect His Word. After all the Word was withheld from the common man for centuries but God’s spirit prevailed.

   Regarding the ability to manipulate the Word of God. This can be done if you take scripture out of context and pick and choose what you want to site. But in context and supported by other scripture on the same topic the Word of God is true. God’s Word is not full of contradictions if you take the time to study it. But so many people want to be fed tiny Sunday bites of the Word of God rather than feast on it by personal study time.

  Lastly, if Jesus is the same yesterday today and tomorrow why isn’t His Word relevant for us today? Did God not know that we would be here in 2017? Are the circumstance’s and challenges we face a surprise to Him? Are things today really that different then 2000 years ago? I don’t think so. Sin is sin regardless of the civilization, technology or calendar.

   Thankfully God is still on His throne and we can know the truth and it is that truth that will make us free.

   Remember that Jesus told us that even though heaven and earth shall pass away His word will not pass away. Matthew 24:35

Trust in God. Read His Word. Be Blessed Al

As always please do not take my word for anything written here but be challenged and look into God’s Word for the answers – you will find them. al