by J. Vetter
Guest Contributor

Have you seen those inkblot pictures where you are to pick out the face of Jesus? Depending on where your eyes focus, suddenly He becomes clear–then you wonder why you didn’t see Him at first because you can’t see anything but Jesus! The beginning of “faith” is always to see Jesus. How do we begin? First, have you truly encountered Him? Sometimes the road to real faith is to ask real questions.

For instance, when Jesus said to Nicodemus, “You must be born again,” I like the honest response that Nicodemus gave. “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” As Jesus converses with Nicodemus, He speaks one of the most quoted verses in the Bible. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

We aren’t specifically told in scripture if Nicodemus truly understood, at that time, what Jesus spoke. But in John 19:38-42, he accompanies Joseph of Arimathea in taking away Jesus’ body after His crucifixion and brings myrrh and aloes for the burial, which certainly seems to indicate he believed on Him. My question to you is, “Have you been born again?” Is your faith picture coming into focus? Have you gotten to the place where you can say, “Yes, I see Him”?

I remember so clearly the day I met Jesus. It was at Easter, and I truly needed an Easter resurrection in my life. I thought that I believed in Jesus, but I needed something more–something viable to give me strength and direction. I went to hear my neighbor’s son-in-law speak at a local church. I saw and heard people praying for one another. I felt love in that place, and I heard a compelling message from this young man about leaving his wealthy family’s brick business to go into the inner city and work with children, some of whom came from poor backgrounds.

The next day, I called my own Methodist pastor, and he came to visit. I found myself spilling out my doubts about the Bible and asking him how we can really know that Jesus rose from the dead. I remember thinking I shouldn’t be saying this to a pastor! He just smiled at me and said, “I’ll pray for you, and the Holy Spirit will show you.” He said a meaningful, though not lengthy, prayer for me and left. Immediately, I picked up my Bible; and when I read the words in the book of John about Jesus, suddenly, I knew they were true. There was a distinct “light” present at that moment and the feeling of love like I had never experienced. For about two weeks, the trees were greener, the sky brighter, and the whole world was bathed in love.

After we are reconciled to the Father’s love through Jesus, we begin to focus on loving Him and loving others, thereby beginning to bear fruit. At this point, it is the Word we focus on–still asking honest questions, because God’s Word tells us in James 1:5, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” Often, the very question you’ve asked will suddenly be answered as you are focusing on the Word.

Remember, it is the Holy Spirit who illuminates the Word, or words people speak, to bring something you are asking for into focus. For instance, some years ago when we were planning to make a move from one state to another, I felt like the Lord said that we were to sell our home “by owner.” As the time got closer to our scheduled move, I began to get somewhat anxious, so I asked the Lord for a confirmation that we really were supposed to sell by owner. Then one day while I was reading my Bible, Hebrews 10:37 was quickened to me, “For yet a little while, and He who is coming will come and will not tarry.” Now the true meaning of that verse is that Jesus is coming back, but the Holy Spirit used it to speak to me to stay the course–that the buyer for our home would come in a little while. After that, I had peace until the day a real estate agent came and put in an offer. The contract he brought had a closing date that worked out perfectly with the date of the closing on the house in the new location.

If we focus on circumstances or ourselves, we can get discouraged. We’re pretty good at pointing out all our inadequacies and problems, and the devil, who torments, comes quickly to agree with such things. So, I love to often pray, “Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done.”

Of course, there are those times when our circumstances seem insurmountable–when we can’t see the end and have no clue as to how God will redeem a situation. That is a time to focus on hope. In Hebrews 6:19, the New King James Bible says, “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus….” It is our soul (mind, will and emotions) that needs to be stabilized. Just think about it–by faith, we can cast an anchor to where Jesus dwells; and then our soul doesn’t drift, but remains steady. We can pray like the psalmist, “Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God.” (Psalm 42:11)

There are times when our vision gets blurred. Our future looks fuzzy or unclear. It’s time to praise God and go back to the “map”–the Word of God. I remember a shopping trip to a mall once. As I stepped into the area where the automatic doors opened, I had this impression from the Lord,”You could have just been a step away and prayed for the doors to open, but they wouldn’t have opened because you needed to get into the right position.” Suddenly, I realized prayer is not demanding my own way–but stepping into the presence of God and cooperating with Him.

Have you seen Jesus? Are you focusing on Him? If so, then others will see Jesus in you.

The Man Above All Men

Have you met up with Jesus? He’s your kind of Man.
Came down here from heaven, carrying out God’s mighty plan.
He’s still here today, capturing hearts, lives, and souls,
giving all whom He touches much worthier goals.

He doesn’t actually show up in visible form;
but you’re aware of His presence when prayer becomes norm.
And some have had visions or have seen Him in dreams,
and what they remember is the love that He beams.

That’s also reflected in the Words of His book–
the renowned Holy Bible is the right place to look.
You might think you know what could give you life’s best,
but those who follow His lead are on a sure quest.

He wants to increase your every potential,
but living for Him and others is essential.
Dedicating all that you have to Him is not loss–
the best in mind for you is why He died on the cross.

P. A. Oltrogge

An Ark So Strong

“So make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in it and coat it with pitch inside and out.” Genesis 6:14 NIV

God has raised up many ministries to encourage
that, as a believer, you can build yourself an ark–
through faith in His Word and its promises to you,
in a world that’s increasingly getting dark.

Psalm 91 is a well-tested, protective psalm,
that we can claim as a shelter and a shield.
Many don’t consider that God’s Word could be so sure
and have let it become a Sword they only hesitantly wield.

“No evil will befall you…He gives His angels charge over you,”
and “With long life He will satisfy you,” are yours to claim–
Confession of God’s Word, and the Name and the blood of Jesus,
are the weapons, in a storm, that will conquer and tame.

But don’t wait for storms to develop in your life–
Make His promises your regular confession every day.
Abide in His Word, His presence, and dwell secure,
for these are the “Ark” whereby danger is kept away.

P. A. Oltrogge

“But whoever listens to me will dwell safely, and will be secure, without fear of evil.” Proverbs 1:33 NKJV

“My people will dwell in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings and in quiet resting places.” Isaiah 32:18 NKJV

“The horse is prepared against the day of battle; but safety is of the Lord.”
Proverbs 21:31 KJV

“I will say to the Lord, ‘My refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust!'”
from Psalm 91 — verse 2

Further messages/testimonies:

On this Valentine’s Day

Love Sonnet to Jesus

How do I love Thee? Let me count the ways…
I love Thee for giving me breath to praise.
I love Thee for all that you’ve done for me…
In deepest love, you bore my sin penalty.

And through what you have done on a cruel cross,
I can pray in faith and you’ll still “come across”
With answers to prayer as I continue to trust.
Your power has a loving and faithful thrust.

You provide shelter, food, and clothing to wear,
And commission me to the challenge with others to share
Of the things of this life and that which is enduring–
The Gospel of Christ, our eternal, strong mooring.

I love Thee for causing your goodness to reflect
Through family, friends, and teachers I respect.
I love Thee for your Word, which teaches right and wrong;
And my soul is pointed to you through beautiful song.

I love Thee for showing me your artistic impression
As seen in what you’ve created with gifted expression.
I love Thee for giving me the Holy Spirit,
My Comforter–not an audible voice, yet I can hear it.

I love that I can trust that by you I’m being led,
So intimately I’m known, even the number of hairs on my head.
I love Thee for your compassion–the goodness of your ways…
I love Thee that you promise to be with me all of my days.

P. A. Oltrogge

“Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear; you are of more value than many sparrows.” Luke 12:7

“…He Himself has said, ‘I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you.’”
Hebrews 13:5

Living and Giving Together

“For this cause a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.” Genesis 2:24

Haven’t I said that a man should leave his home
of mother and father and the woman do the same,
to start their new lives, with no need to roam
from the one with whom they then will share a name?

This is what I’ve established, this is what’s best–
loyalty in love, going through life together,
both in busy activity and peaceful times of rest,
be it sunny days or stormy times that they weather.

I desire a holy bond, committed to Me,
with cords of strong love that cannot be broken.
As the author of love, I know love isn’t “free,”
but is meant to be shared with vows being spoken.

Like anything else, love often takes work–
serving one another will help things go right.
Commitment to each other isn’t something to shirk;
I don’t want one hurt by the other taking flight.

The way to experience the fulness of love
is, as the saying goes, “through thick and through thin.”
Add reading My Word and lifting prayers up above,
and rich blessing will come when I’ve entered in.

P. A. Oltrogge

“Love is patient, love is kind, and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails….” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Matthew 19:4-6; 1 Corinthians 7:2; Ephesians 5:33

(See “About the Porch”)

A Psalm of Security

Psalm 91

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most high will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.

I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, My God, in whom I trust!”

For it is He who delivers you from the snare of the trapper, and from the deadly pestilence.

He will cover you with His pinions, and under His wings you may seek refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark.

You will not be afraid of the terror by night, or of the arrow that flies by day;

Of the pestilence that stalks in darkness, or of the destruction that lays waste at noon.

A thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand; but it shall not approach you.

You will only look on with your eyes, and see the recompense of the wicked.

For you have made the Lord, my refuge, even the Most High, your dwelling place.

No evil will befall you, nor will any plague come near your tent.

For He will give His angels charge concerning you, to guard you in all your ways.

They will bear you up in their hands, lest you strike your foot against a stone.

You will tread upon the lion and cobra, the young lion and the serpent you will trample down,

“Because he has loved Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him securely on high, because he has known My name.

“He will call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him, and honor him.

“With a long life I will satisfy him, and let him behold My salvation.”