Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Night Beauty..

Last night I stood out on our balcony around 11 p.m. Only a full moon up in the vast, empty, dark sky. And rising like music all around I heard the comforting, exquisite chorus of the summer insects. How can such beauty mingle with such heinous ugliness? How can these exist in the same place? If I did not have the haven of God and His created realm to turn to, the presence of human brokeness might crush me.

Jesus IS our hope. He is our peace. I am grateful that He gives us glimpses of Heaven on earth in what He has created and in the rare and priceless act of selfless love.

Monday, August 03, 2009

The End of All Things

There are times along the path of my life that I feel so crushed in my soul that I wonder how much longer I have to be here. It is as these times, I realize the limited capacity I have to tolerate suffering and evil. Some may call it "oversensitivity." I am not sure we can be "oversensitive." We certainly learn through the media to be callous and numb to the pain of others turning off our concern like a light switch and moving on with whatever concerns us in the moment. Surely, we live in a country that, for the most part, wallows in comfort.

I saw a thing a few days ago that shook me to my bare bones. I heard a thing that has haunted my idle moments, stolen my sleep and nauseated me for days. I struggle to get out from under it, and in me it uncovers a burning hatred for the Evil one and for the level of depravity that can be born out of the human soul. It has now become a means for the Enemy to plant a seed of despair in my heart. Though confident the Lord will bring me out, one thing is once again solid in my mind. We are not meant to be here in this fallen place, in such a sad, pathetic state and certainly, there dwells in us no good thing apart from the spirit of Christ. All of our self-serving pats on the back, each moment of pride at our so-called "acts of service" crumble in the Light of His perfection and devastating grace. If we dare lift up the carpet of our outward appearance, we will find a rotten hole. I can honestly say that today, I am waiting expectantly and hopefully for the end of all things.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Feeling so unsettled today. A restless energy, perfectionist head space coupled with physical pain has me wrestling hard. The seed of doubt somehow burrowing into it all leaving me without a sense of place. I have four unfinished paintings screaming for attention and I wonder what God is doing to me this moment. With my mental bent towards productivity (good) and unproductivity (bad) I really am in a real mess. Just being and resting today is eluding me, so my only option in such a tight corner is to lean into Christ.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Decalogue

We often think of the Decalogue as a list of rules or regulations to restrict behavior. In legalistic circles this is exactly what they are and are often taken to extremes. Do's and don'ts, if you will. I was meditating today about the ten commandments and how much resistance to them there is from many directions. And ,you know, I am resistant to them as well as just a list of "what to do and not to do or else."

In our hyper individualistic western culture, we are highly sensitive to anyone telling us what to do or how to do it. We create our own truths based around our own experiences and are often self-centered. It is amazing what the law creates in us. It brings about rebellion. Paul speaks clearly about this over and over again in the epistles. Rebellion is the core of our nature.

When I read Exodus 20 or Deuteronomy 5, my immediate reaction is not positive due to my own rebellious and selfish nature.But as I look deeper, what I really see is relationship. Jesus said in Matthew 22 that love of God and love of your neighbor are the greatest commandments. He goes on to say that on these two rest the entire law and the prophets. The commandments are about RELATIONSHIP to God and to one another. When we think of others as more important than ourselves (Ephesians 2) and recognize God as our loving Maker (who "don't make no junk" if you know what I mean..) with the right and perfect nature to guide us, the commandments become a joy. Born out of love, motivated out of selflessness, we were given these words as a foundation to have a most blessed life.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Grace and Truth

Do I want to be right or do I want to connect? Do I defend my position because know I am right or do I yield to anothers understanding because I want to build a bridge? Far too often I find most of us are on the font side of those questions. I certainly can feel strongly, be quite opinionated in many areas and certainly believe in truth, but as I move further along in life, as I walk longer with Christ, as He reveals more to me about Himself, what strikes me most is His brazen humility. As a matter of fact, there were many times He didn't respond or defend Himself. As the Source of all truth and wisdom, He certainly had the right to tell it like it is and "correct" those who He encountered, yet did not. What I see is Jesus stepping into the lives of others, making a connection in a grand display of humility.

James 3 says "The wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits...." I often feel my christian family does not understand the Gospel and so the Name of God is blasphemed in the world. In our self-righteousness, we are so busy pointing out the sins of others, and correcting people we neglect to examine ourselves. This creates a breeding ground for arrogance and pride. We forget that we ALL, ALL have fallen short of God's perfection, we are ALL in the same boat and it is only the reconciliation Jesus bought for us that gets us out of that boat.

John tells us that Jesus is "full of grace (love) and truth (rightness)." Not just truth, not just rightness, not just facts, but also grace. We cannot have one without the other. When we learn to relate to others unlike us in an understanding manner, when we learn to empathize and to think of the other person as more important than ourselves, we connect. And an amazing thing happens. We are more likely to be heard because we have first listened. Truth, works, the law, is empty without grace.

1 Corinthians 13...every time I read this, I am so convicted and run to lean hard into Jesus:

"If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.

If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.

And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.

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; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away.

For we know in part and we prophesy in part;
but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away.

When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.

But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love."

What I want to know is how are you doing on that love thing?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

All of Creation Groans

I can't sleep. I tried, but the images of the evening have hijacked my sound mind. Regret weighs on me.

"Section 60" is about the area in Arlington Cemetery where casualties of the Iraq war are buried. Several funerals, along with many heartbreaking graveside visits with family members make up the film. Witnessing the intimate agony of moms, dads, wives and children of these lost soldiers is unbearable. One father visits his son's grave lying down on top of it for hours at a time.

"Running for their Lives" is a short that brings to light the common practice of shipping racehorses who cannot run fast enough off to auction and slaughter. The graphic nature of the footage left me sick to my stomach. The reality that the puntilla knife is still in use as a kill method is barbaric. I cannot believe anyone can treat animals in this atrocious manner.

And, now, hours later, I sit in my dark living room feeling the wretchedness that is mankind. When I hear the statement that mankind is "basically good," that humanistic standard of thought, I always wonder how in the world anyone comes to that conclusion, because if we were to step outside our comfortable, pre-packaged lives, we would see how ridiculous a statement this is. We lie to ourselves because we don't want to face who we are. And we don't see the real nature of our souls without the Light.

All of creation IS groaning and suffering because of us. Our inherent nature is to kill, rob and destroy. Animals, and humans, become throw-aways because they don't suit our needs and wants. And the overwhelming sorrow I feel about that this night has me wide awake. And though I know Jesus will return and all sorrow and suffering, pain and crying will be wiped out, it is almost too much to bear. The only hope we have as a human race is Christ and He cannot make all things new soon enough for me.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Why do I choose animals as the subjects of my painting? Why do I feel so strongly about pairing animals with natural elements? Why does there seem to be a deep sense of connection in me to these things and an understanding of the harmony that exists among them? Even the fated brokeness of nature, brought about by humans from Eden until this very day cannot seem to overcome its beauty. On its own, apart from human interaction, I see the likeness of God. Imagination, balance, and "being." The natural world cannot be anything other than what it is. This is "beingness" if you will. Humans ruined this likeness of God in themselves long ago.