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Journeys with the Messiah: Photo Gallery

The gospel message is as fresh and relevant today as it was in the first century. In his book Journeys with the Messiah, fashion photographer Michael Belk offers images that link the modern and the biblical—and musings that speak to commonly felt needs.

Lighten the Load

Lighten the Load

Support for what’s weighing you down.

Jesus sends an invitation to all: "Come to Me all who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest… For My yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light." Who among us is without burdens? From a delayed flight to a late mortgage payment, a term paper due on Friday or a seriously ill family member, all of us have times when we are disheartened and discouraged along our way, sometimes to the point of “spiritually bankruptcy.”

I know a unique word not found in the dictionary, "efforting." It means struggling unnecessarily in an effort to do something. It could be illustrated by pushing a car to your destination when it would be much easier to start the engine and drive it.

When I find myself "efforting," I think of Jesus’ invitation to let Him take the heavy part of the yoke, leaving me the lighter side. He does not necessarily say that He will carry all of my baggage. Yet, He does promise that when we accept His invitation, He will gladly lighten our load (Matthew 11:28-30).

Daily Bread

Living today while being secure in tomorrow.

As the stock markets crashed in the fall of 2008, I panicked as I saw my life savings evaporate before my eyes. Almost half of everything I had counted on was gone.

Several days before this catastrophic financial collapse, I was reading about Jesus teaching his disciples a “form of prayer” that we have come to recite as The Lord’s Prayer. Of the six sections of the prayer – the first three to the honor of God and the second three for the needs of man – the fourth part is “Give us day by day the bread we need.”

Almost instantly, it dawned on me that, despite all the promises Jesus has made about God taking care of my needs, I do not trust Him for those needs on a day-by-day basis. Not only do I want my bread today, I want to feel secure that I have tomorrow’s bread, today. And, I want to know that I have “retirement bread” and lots of it.

How peaceful would life be if we could live with no worry about having to meet our needs for tomorrow? It is His promise (Matthew 6).

Safe Harbor

Safe Harbor

A light to guide our way.

Most of us love lighthouses. We photograph them. Paint them. Explore them. Perhaps it is their purpose that attracts us most. They are beacons of light inviting ships in the night to a place of safe harbor, a place of calm from a storm, a place of rest for the sea-weary. They also serve to warn sailors of the dangers of a nearby coast. Jesus said that He was “the light of the world,” and that He had come to “bring light to the darkness” and to “guide our way to the truth.” Like the lighthouse, Jesus, through His spirit and through His teachings is available to guide us to safety, to warn us of danger and provide a safe harbor, a place of calm and rest from the storms of life.

Rest for the Weary

Time out from the burdens of life.

I am writing this in March of 2009 while the world is in a serious economic upheaval. Fortunes have been lost, retirement incomes are gone, and the basic necessities have become a struggle for many.

It is at times like these that I recall the simplicity of childhood and the safety of my mom and dad’s arms.

In truth, we assign too much importance to issues that, in the end, will be of no 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?

Jesus said that we are not to worry, but to “seek His Kingdom first” and His Father would generously take care of our needs. And, He invited “all who are burdened and weary” to come and find sweet rest in Him (Matthew 11:28).

Maybe we should give it a try.

Compassion

There’s often more to the story that what first meets the eye.

A familiar Gospel account finds Jesus traveling through the region of Samaria when He encounters a woman alone at the local well. After He asks for a drink of water, she is surprised as He reveals what He knows about her life: she has married five times and is not married to the man with whom she is now living.

Having heard this story for years, I just assumed she was a prostitute. As it turns out, I may have judged her without knowing all the facts.

One scholar suggests it is unlikely she is a prostitute, but more likely that she is barren—she cannot have children. This may explain why she has been married so many times. She gets married, cannot bear children and the husband divorces her.

Thus, she goes to the well alone because of the stigma this places on her. People would gossip about her and even tell her she is “not in favor with God.” Ouch!

Fortunately, Jesus does not see her as we do. He sees her as a woman scarred by her past, a woman who has lost hope. He approaches her with compassion rather than contempt (John 4:17).

Now that’s an example for all of us.

Quandary

Quandary

The things that hold us back.

The two biggest fears in most lives are the fear of public speaking and the fear of change.

In one of His greatest parables, Jesus tells a story about a rich young ruler who is intrigued by Jesus’ teachings and, particularly, His offer of eternal life. So, the rich young man asks, “What must I do?”

Jesus responds by telling him to keep the commandments, “Do not murder, steal or commit adultery.”

“I’ve got those covered,” says the rich young ruler. “Anything else?”

Jesus’ next response hits the wealthy young man where it hurts, “Okay, then sell all you own, give it to the poor and…then come follow Me.”

While I do not believe Jesus requires this drastic action from most of us, He knew that, for the rich young ruler, his lifestyle—money, cars and beautiful women—had become a personal road block to what he really wanted, which was to follow Jesus into eternity (Matthew 19:16-26).

We must all examine our lives to see what holds us back from living the dream Jesus has for us.

Life Savior

A swimming lesson for the spiritually inclined.

Many years ago, in an attempt to save a drowning child, I found myself caught in a riptide in the Gulf of Mexico. Riptides are strong currents that can be deadly if you do not know the simple formula for getting out of them.

Life, too, has a way of throwing us into circumstantial riptides on a regular basis, and we often find ourselves in a life-and-death struggle. But like the riptide that allows you to escape by simply swimming parallel to the shore, there is a Life Savior always available to save us from the perils of this world (John 6:19).

The drowning child was saved and so was I. Are you?

Ragamuffins

Accepting a gift with humility.

When Jesus said to His followers, “To enter the Kingdom of Heaven, you must come as little children”, I assumed He meant because of their innocence. Then, reflecting back on my time as a child and times I have watched my own or others playing, I could only conclude that “their innocence” was not the virtue to which Jesus was speaking.

Children were loved in the first century, but unlike children today, the world did not revolve around them – gifts for every occasion, birthday parties and trips to Disney World. Children were more humble, having fewer expectations than children today.

The Kingdom will be a gift to people who know they are not worthy of such a gift – “the poor in spirit” - the people who are not trying to impress others or position themselves where they will look good to the King. “Come as little children” means come to Him in humility, expecting nothing, knowing that grace and salvation come as His gift. A relationship with Christ is much more about the gift received than what we give up (Mark 10:13-15).

The Second Mile

The Second Mile

The joyful gift of forgiving.

Where does a mother garner the strength to stand in a courtroom and forgive the man who murdered her daughter? How do Jews ever forgive the Nazis for the Holocaust?

Jesus’ teachings on this subject 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.

Still, His teachings on forgiveness are more for our benefit because He wants us to let go of the bitterness and anger we hold on to. He knows that our feelings of anger, resentment and hatred will not hurt the other person to the degree they can destroy us, even to the point of making us sick.

Just saying, “I forgive you,” releases you from emotional, physical and spiritual bondage. It sets us free to move on with life and His glorious plan (Matthew 5:38-48).

Forgive and let it go.

Passover

Passover

The meaning of the Last Supper.

Imagine that you have been following Jesus for three years. Then, one night during dinner, He takes bread and tells you to eat for “this is My body.” Then He takes the wine cup and tells you to drink it, “for this is My blood.” Such commands would be alarming and, on that night, the disciples had no clue of what He was talking about…at least until later.

The dinner was to celebrate the Passover, which got its name from when the Israelites were in captivity in Egypt and God sent plagues against the ruler, Pharaoh, in an effort to release the Israelites. The final plague would kill children. However, God told the Israelites to mark “the doorposts of their homes with ‘the blood of a spring lamb’ and those homes would be ‘passed over” and set free from death.”

On that night, Jesus was indicating to his disciples that He was the now “the lamb;” that through His coming sacrificial death, “eternal death” would “passed over” all who believed in Him (Matthew 26:26-29).

Death will pass over! Think about that the next time you share the Lord’s Supper.

Copyright 2014 In Touch Ministries, Inc. All rights reserved. www.intouch.org. In Touch grants permission to print for personal use only.


95 comments
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  • April 25, 2012 05:46 PM

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    I watched the DVD last nite and some areas I cried and others I laughted. Thank you for what you are doing to help built the Kingdom. Mr. Belk you truely a good Godly man and I thank you for communicating with my husband. Dorothy
  • July 08, 2011 12:55 AM

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    Faith,Believe,Love,In Jesus name we pray!
  • June 01, 2011 03:16 PM

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    Jesus said " I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life------how true
  • May 12, 2011 02:20 PM

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    These pics say it all
  • April 28, 2011 11:54 PM

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    God made u accurding to his purpose ,since He giuide u to send this messege for us. Its wonderful n im bless....thank u.
  • April 27, 2011 07:52 AM

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    People need the Lord, he knows what to use to get his good news across to all, It might come in the form of words, or a kind action toward someone, and yes through art. Like someone said before a picture is worth a thousand words. Thank You for sharing!!!!
  • April 26, 2011 11:45 PM

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    HMMM...let's c...as with the apostle Peter following the example of the Lord Jesus walking on the water. When Peter took his eyes from Jesus he began 2 sink. This is the way with most believers. When we encounter the tribulations of life Jesus brings us thru them but we sink when we take our i's off of Jesus. But we find that its so much better 2 keep our i's on Jesus so that we stay afloat, keeping our heads above water. With the help of Jesus this is something all of us as believers should practice. PRAISE JESUS, HALLELUJAH!
  • April 25, 2011 12:32 PM

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    Oh, that the people of the world could open their eyes and see the awesome power of our living Lord!
  • April 25, 2011 10:55 AM

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    How confronting the immages are and what a real picture of how Christ walks with us on a day to day journey and is with us through trials and and times of joy. Bless you for sharing. And bless you for lifes lessons. In Christ Diane
  • April 21, 2011 11:47 PM

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    Thank you Lord for Mr. Belk's dream that you gave to him. May that dream be used for others to come to know you and to come closer to you!
    The picture of the lighthouse made me cry! Oh my and the one with the children!
    Thank you Mr. Belk and thank you InTouch for giving us the priviledge of a glimpse of these works.
  • April 21, 2011 10:12 PM

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    I´ve read it and found it very, very good. The pictures has helped me to focus more in the personal application for our lives. I´m realy amazed at the way God can use our talents. I encourage this brother to keep doing this for the glory of the Lord. Greeting from Paraguay
  • April 21, 2011 09:03 PM

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    NO words can describe how this made me feel.Thank you so much and God bless you and Intouch ministries.
  • April 21, 2011 01:58 PM

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    Thank-you for "listening" to that inner voice (GOD) telling you this was your mission. This is absolutely beautiful, thought provoking, and really does remind one that he is with us every day.
  • April 21, 2011 07:42 AM

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    I really like this. I Thank you for this wonderful web site., it has been such an encouragement to me and a wonderful tool for witnessing.
  • April 19, 2011 08:36 PM

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    What a great way to show our Savior to others! Thank you Mr. Belk.
  • April 18, 2011 08:55 PM

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    You have created a vivid picture of how Jesus is present in our daily life. You have given me an opportunity to think about how Jesus is helping me;whether he is the passenger sitting with me on the bus or holdig me so close on a difficult day. Thank you.
  • April 18, 2011 01:47 PM

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    Seeing them on a computer definitely does not do them justice, however, even in this venue it touches my heart and makes me cry, I can only IMAGINE how provacative they are in real life. I LOVE Dr Stanley, thanks for sharing.
  • April 18, 2011 01:13 PM

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    Dr Stanley..please pray for me as to how I might share Michael Belks testimoney to my 26yr old Grandson who is in the Fashion Business and is far from the Lord ..Thankyou
  • April 18, 2011 11:44 AM

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    Absolutely breathtaking pictures- they are so alive! The messages wth them are the heart of God's truth for mankind. Love it!!!!!
  • April 18, 2011 01:53 AM

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    How can I describe the premise and deliverance of these photographs. It grabs you are the heart of what you are searching in your soul. Christ's embodiment is shown; its all about the relationship of the person who can picture themselves with Christ. Thank you so much for this vision.
  • April 16, 2011 11:37 PM

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    Thank you!
  • April 16, 2011 09:36 PM

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    Yes, so refreshing in a time such as this. What a priviledge it is to live in these last days where we can truly live out the Word of God and see the work of God lived out through our lives. Many will come to the faith, many.
  • April 15, 2011 07:30 PM

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    Very awesome! Thank you so much for sharing this. Jesus is so wonderful!
  • April 15, 2011 07:46 AM

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    Inspired. More people need these paintings in their home to remind them of everyday life.
  • April 14, 2011 11:59 AM

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    the young girl by the well realy touched a word of truth as i see so many young girls in that picture today. my prayer is that it will touch a young girl out there, somewhare.

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