The Audacity of Beauty

Bear with me here as I try to express that for which words are woefully inadequate

One of my passions is jigsaw puzzles, puzzles of scenery, waterfalls, unusual architecture, sunrises, sunsets, aurora borealis, animals, trails, parks, paintings, cathedrals: man’s attempt to recreate or capture that which God draws and paints with His fingers on a daily basis. I am so in awe of the Master Creator, that He would deem to share His art, His handiwork with the likes of man, who ignores Him, takes Him for granted, denies Him, shakes its fist at Him, and dares Him to show Himself, as if He hadn’t already in so many tangible and intangible ways. I cry with the psalmist, “Who am I Lord, that you would be mindful of me?” Who am I, precious Jesus, You who hold the worlds in Your two hands, that You would esteem me high enough, worthy enough, to share Your creation with? And this world is decaying, rotting away, and we see it as beautiful. Thank You, dear Lord, for this and so much more. Thank You for the pictures You paint for us every day. Help us to pay more attention to what You are trying to teach us in Your handiwork.

What Color Is Love?

I was nothing, a zero, the least likely to succeed at anything. I was the ugliest, dumbest thing God ever created. I was lower than the earth, worth less than a grub to eaten by birds. There was nothing about me that anyone would desire.

Hear the cry of the masses:

“I’m too fat.” “I’m disfigured.” “People run when they see my scars.” “People turn away in disgust.” “I have Down’s Syndrome; I’m unlovable.” “I’m stupid.” “I’ll never amount to anything.” “We’re poor and starving. No one cares.” “I’m crippled, but no one pays any attention to my needs.” “My skin is the wrong color so people dont like me.”

There are people in the world who do care and who do reach out and make a difference. I am thankful and grateful for those people, but if you aren’t doing because it’s what Jesus would do, if you aren’t doing it to put a smile on His face, then you’re doing it for the wrong reason, and your reward is the thanks you get in this life. Col_3:17 And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.

In spite of the efforts of kind, compassionate people, there are many who are homeless, abandoned, deserted, judged by others for the sins and crimes they’ve committed. The prostitutes, runaways, pedophiles, murderers, animal and child abusers, all treated as the scum of the earth. But we don’t know their stories. We don’t know what brought them to those places in their lives. It is not our place to judge. All who do not know Jesus as their Lord and Savior will one day stand before Him, the supreme judge of the earth, and give an account before they are senteneced to eternal separation from Him in the lake of fire called hell. God will take no pleasure in passing the sentence, for He provided His only BEGOTTEN Son to take their punishment so they wouldn’t have to. It is not their sins that send them to hell, it is rejection of the precious gift God gave. The color of love is red: red for the blood that Jesus shed, not just on the cruel cross of Calvary, but when he was beaten into a bloody mess of flesh and bone by that cat-o’-nine-tails. It was by the blood He shed when the crown of four to six inch thorns thrust into his brow. It was the blood that oozed from His poor battered face when his beard was ripped out by handfuls.

Jesus didn’t have to go through any of that. He could have called angels to get Him off the cross and kill every magistrate and soldier in attendance. He could have gotten Himself off of the cross. Mat_26:53 Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?

Joh 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
Joh 3:17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
Joh 3:18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
Joh 3:19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

Why do we use red as the color for Valentine’s Day? For Christmas? For Santa’s suit? Jesus had a bleeding heart. It bled for humanity, for the depravity, the anguish, the futility and desperation, for the homeless, the poor, the needy, the forgotten, the ignored, the wasted, the destitute, the despairing, the disfigured.

Luk_19:10 For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.

Eph_2:1 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;
Col_2:13 And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;

In God’s eyes, we are walking dead people until we realize our depraved state, our need for Him. Until we realize that we are indeed weak and poor, unable to control our own lives and destiny, we are dead. That’s why Jesus told Nicodemus that we must be “born again.” We need to have spiritual life breathed into us. He promises to give us new life, new direction, hope, peace, joy, an abundant life.

Does that mean He’ll give us everything we want and we’ll never have another problem? No. If we never have another problem we’ll forget we need Him. He will teach us, through the power of His Holy Spirit (who will take up residence in our hearts) how to deal with the problems that come our way. He will give us the peace that passes understanding (It won’t make sense to the rest of the world.). He will supply our every need.

I have a friend who is living off of Food Stamps and $109 a month. She loves and trusts God. It isn’t easy, but she’s discovering that she can be happy and content without a lot of “stuff” to clutter her life.

One final note: It is vitally important to understand that, regardless of what modern “versions” of the Bible say, Jesus is the only BEGOTTEN Son of God. As Christians, we are all God’s children; we are all sons and daughters. Jesus is the only One Begotten of God. Jesus had an earthly foster dad: Joseph. Joseph was married to Mary and raised Jesus as his own son, but Jesus was begotten of God the Father. The KJV seems to be the only version that has not taken away Jesus’s deity.

What Is A Christian?

I’ve been reading a number of posts on other sites lately that leave me disappointed and fighting discouragement. There seems to be a large number of people who had faith in God/Jesus at one time and now feel that it is all a lie, and that there are no true Christians in the world.

I have to ask those people: What are you looking for? How do you define a Christian? Is it someone who is perfect? Sorry, not in this life. Our souls are saved from sin when we repent and ask Jesus to be our Lord and Savior, but our flesh is still weak. The apostle Paul said he was the chiefest of sinners and that he continually did those things contrary to what he wanted to do, and didn’t do the things he should. Every church I’ve ever been in, every Christian I’ve ever met has believed that Paul was the greatest Christian that ever lived. We are instructed to “die to ourselves daily.” If we were perfect we wouldn’t need to do that. Isaiah said that “all of our righteousness is as filthy rags.”

We can’t earn salvation because there isn’t a human being who ever lived, or who ever will live who could be good enough. We are all born sinners. We are not born wanting to do right. No one has to teach a child how to lie, steal or be selfish. It is inherent in their nature, and becomes more dominant as they grow. My best efforts to be good fall so short of God’s expectations. But He has graciously paid the penalty for my sin, has taken my punishment. He knows I can’t be perfect. It’s why He continually offers me His love, grace, and mercy. I need it.

That is not a license to go out and do anything I want to. Salvation is not a “get out of hell free” card. It is not fire insurance. God is not a celestial Santa Claus, or a benevolent, spoiling grandfather. He is not “the man upstairs.” He is God. He is almighty, all powerful, all-knowing, all-seeing, and everywhere present. He is just and holy. He is righteous. He is jealous. We are not to worship anything or anyone other than Him. He alone is worthy.

As Christians we have a responsibility to do our best to obey Him, to ask His forgiveness when we fail, to seek His help to become more like Him because we can’t do it on our own.

So if you can’t see any real Christianity, maybe it’s because you’re looking for reasons not to believe. Maybe you’ve been let down. Maybe you’ve seen hypocrisy. But do you disown a baby because it stumbles when it is learning to walk? We are all at different stages of our Christian growth and walk. Some Christians are not being taught (discipled) how to live a Christian life. If no one teaches them they won’t know what’s expected.

If there are hypocrites in your church, praise the Lord! Where should they be? At least they (hopefully) are hearing messages that may help them change. The church is not a museum for saints; it’s a spiritual hospital for growing, struggling Christians. It’s not a carnival where you go for a weekly spiritual “happy hour.” It’s a place to grow and learn in your walk with Jesus.

The Bible is God’s holy Word. If you choose not to believe it, if you choose to believe it’s a lie your end will be hell and there is no way out of there. If you’re wrong you have everything to lose. If God is real and you put your faith, hope and trust in Him, and it turns out not to be true, what have you lost? The end is the same then.

A Christian, a true believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, is by definition, a follower, a learner, a student of Him and His ways. It is not perfection; it is growth. Don’t let the devil deceive you. Remember that the Bible (Ephesians chapter 6) tells us that he is our enemy, presenting himself as an angel of light, and “roams about a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour.” Don’t listen to him. He came to destroy you and your faith. He wants you to give up and look at all of the negative, and the bad examples out there. There will always be bad examples. Just keep your eyes on Jesus. He will never leave you nor forsake you. He’s a friend that sticks closer than a brother. Hang in there, struggling believer. Ask God to help you stand strong. Don’t let the devil win.

The Empty Tomb Prayer Lesson

Empty Tomb Prayer Kit Pg 10001This is a pocket made of construction paper. The children will glue the praying hands to the outside and put the open hands (Jesus’s hands) on the inside. The Bible verse Phil. 4:6 will be printed on the outside. It reads: “Be careful for nothing, but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.”

Empty Tomb Prayer Kit Pg 10001 Empty Tomb Prayer Kit Pg 20001Tomorrow (Nov. 9) will be my first Sunday teaching children’s church since we left for the summer back in April. Our snack is called empty tombs. I brush melted butter on crescent rolls, sprinkle with cinnamon and wrap a large marshmallow in the middle. Then I bake them according to package directions. When we take them out of the oven the marshmallow is gone. The “tomb” is empty.

But tomorrow I’m using a different application to the lesson (my husband’s suggestion). The first photo at the top of this page is a pocket made of construction paper. The children will glue their praying hands on the front. The empty hands (representing Jesus’s hands) will be inside the pocket. Each child will put his or her name on the outside of the pocket. The Bible verse at the bottom will be Philippians 4:6 which reads: “Be careful for nothing, but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.”

The second photo shows the little paper “bubbles” on which the children can write down the things they are concerned about, a sick pet or relative, a test at school, someone being mean to them, etc. They will put those in the pocket with Jesus’s hands so Jesus can take care of those things. Then the child’s heart will be empty of those worries, just as the “tomb” is empty.

We will read lots of Bible verses that show how much Jesus cares about our struggles, and how much He loves children.

The Sad and Homely Man

He was a sad, homely man

With no redeeming physical features

The hungry, the sick, the lame, and handicapped,

All followed him to receive whatever he could give;

He fed the hungry, healed the sick, cured the lame

and infirm, and gave sanity to the insane.

He even raised the dead! All of his worldly

possessions were the clothes he wore, no place

even to lay his head, except when he visited friends.

The penalty for his goodness was a cat-o-nine-tails,

laid cruelly across his back thirty-nine times;

a crown of thorns thrust upon his head, a nail to

pierce each hand and his crossed feet; his beard

was plucked while he was blindfolded, spat upon,

and punched in the face; all done by hands he

had healed or fed. He was mocked and scorned

by those he had loved, as he hung there naked,

humiliated, and abandoned by his friends. His

final answer was not retribution; it was,

“Father, fogive them, for they don’t understand

what they are doing.”

What is your answer to Jesus?