Monday, March 31, 2014

A Case For Unpopularity

Do many people really outgrow the desire to be popular? As adults, of course, we'd probably prefer the terms "held in high esteem" or "highly respected," understanding that the quest for popularity belongs to adolescents. Having moved well past the angst of dealing with acne, securing prom dates and passing midterms, we find ourselves still longing for almost universal acceptance.

This longing has intensified for Christians as general society increasingly defies sound biblical principles. For example, the notion that sexual expression belongs exclusively within the confines of monogamous, opposite sex marriage evokes  laughter and mockery, even from some self-professed evangelicals. Similarly, many people unquestioningly embrace a wide variety of practices that derive from Eastern spirituality, including folks who claim allegiance to the Lord Jesus Christ. Rather than separating from the world as people called by a holy God, a growing number of people who call themselves Christians adopt worldly philosophies and behaviors, assuring themselves that such compromises communicate "love" and "tolerance."

Worst of all, churches that once excelled in preaching and teaching sound doctrine now look to marketing techniques for methods to fill their membership rolls and, consequently, their offering plates. They seek to attract neighbors through non-threatening social activities, contemporary music, mystical spiritual disciplines and short sermons that minimize the gospel message. Popularity, in short, promises increased income.

Jesus, although He gained popularity when people supposed that He would immediately benefit them, stated clearly that the world would reject both Him and His true followers. Let me cite just one example of Him making this claim:

18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. 21 But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 Whoever hates me hates my Father also. 24 If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. 25 But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’ ~~John 15:18-25 (ESV)

While Christians shouldn't be obnoxious for the sake of being obnoxious, it remains imperative that we expect rejection, both from the world and those who aren't truly saved. This rejection hurts. Admitting the fact that we'd prefer not to endure taunting, ridicule and censure only displays our willingness to be honest and humble. Yet, in disliking the rejection that necessarily accompanies our faithfulness to follow Jesus, we must remember that He told us that persecution comes as a natural reaction to His truth.

Definitely, everyone likes accolades and prestige. But when faithfulness to obey the Lord and proclaim His Word include the risk of offending people, we need to choose Him over even those dearest to us. By all means, work to present the Gospel in a winsome manner, but don't compromise the truth.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Tedium And Mishaps Of Digital Water Color

Of my three digital art programs, I find Painter Lite to be the least enjoyable. Yet I keep working on the face I've been painting, admittedly sporadically and half-heartedly, because I'm a stubborn old Irish woman who refuses to give up!

Let me show you the progression of this magnus opus, ending with what I accomplished this afternoon:





Since then, I learned that blonde highlights won't show up on a dark hair base when doing water color, so I needed to change to a blonde hair base and then paint brown highlight. Once I managed to get the highlights painted (a particularly tedious chore that consumed several hours), I decided to stop for the time being. Okay, not wonderful results, but I'll learn!


Amid Sinking Sand

Change inevitably brings feelings of instability and insecurity. I, like most women, have a hard time going through such feelings, preferring certainty and contingency plans. Although I understand (at least intellectually) that life continually changes, I long for security. Praise the Lord that He remains constant and dependable! Everything else may shift wildly,  but Christ holds firm and steadfast. Even better, He holds me!


Saturday, March 29, 2014

Not Yet Step One

Yesterday got away from me in terms of any productivity. For the most part, I'm still struggling with a major decision. We've pretty much made the decision itself, but now we must begin working through its many implications.

Step One, as I see it, is determining when to start letting people know what we've decided, and then sorting out the most edifying way of explaining our reasons. I fully anticipate blogging about some of the issues, since those issues go beyond our immediate circumstance. Even then, however, I want to do so in a way that honors the Lord.

So I sit here, all too eager to write about all that grieves my heart, knowing that the timing isn't yet  right. I sense that the entire matter has stifled my writing, causing further frustration and sadness as I must wait to take Step One. In this uneasy interim, please regard this blog as being under renovation. By all means, visit, but accept the awkwardness while I seek to organize my thoughts and bring my motives under the Holy Spirit's control.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Fractured Unity

This past week, World Vision (an evangelical ministry dedicated to bring assistance to impoverished people in Third World countries) announced its decision to consider job applicants who are in legal same sex marriages for positions in its US offices. In an interview with Christianity Today, World Vision's president, Richard Stearns, defended the decision by pointing out that some denominations now accept same sex marriage as valid. Therefore, in an effort to promote unity and redirect their focus back on their mission of providing humanitarian relief, their governing board voted to accept people in same sex marriages as being eligible for employment.

Yesterday, after many of those who sponsored children through World Vision withdrew their support, World Vision reversed the decision. According to a subsequent report in Christianity Today, the organization recognized that, in attempting to promote unity, they actually created great division by deviating from Scripture's mandate  of heterosexual marriage.

My purpose just now isn't to speculate on whether or not money motivated World Vision's change of policy. I sincerely pray that they repented in honest submission to Biblical teaching. Of course, it all begs the question of why they violated that Biblical teaching in the first place. What sort of Christian "unity" necessitates the bending of God's Word in order to accommodate a growing trend in more liberal groups of professing Christians?

True Christian unity gravitates toward sound Biblical teaching, not popular consensus. Sadly, World Vision appears to have made both their initial decision and its subsequent reversal by putting its proverbial moistened finger to the wind to see which way it blows. But even more sadly, an increasing number of church governing boards have fallen into the same method for determining their understanding of God's Word.

This practice elevates human subjectivity over Scriptural authority. Human consensus often distorts truth through the grid of political correctness when it ought to recognize God's Word as the measuring rod for truth. When Christians bow to the New Testament as our "rule of faith and practice," particularly when doing so flies in the face of popular opinion, we actually move into true unity with each other and with the Lord by willingly submitting to His authority.

11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. ~~Ephesians 4:11-16 (ESV)

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Pretty. Deceiving.

Yesterday a friend in Maryland posted an update on Facebook lamenting yet another snowstorm. She attached a photo of her very white back yard, causing our mutual friends from California to rhapsodize about how "pretty" and "wonderful" it looked. I suppose, if I still lived in California (where most people idealize snow), I might have joined them.

Indeed, during my last year in California, I looked forward to quiet afternoons cuddling with John as we blissfully watched snow falling gently outside our living room window. John vainly tried to warn me that, once I moved to New England, I'd lose my romantic notions and would quickly develop a negative opinion of "The Evil White Stuff."

When Massachusetts got its first real snow after I moved here and married John, I succumbed to its enchantment. At that time, our apartment complex had a gazebo on the property, and its charm increased when the snow iced its roof. Obviously, John's cynical attitude entirely lacked merit!

But as the winter of 2003 continued, and I learned that dirty, sand-treated snow blocked sidewalk curb-cuts long after temperatures encouraged a return to outdoor activity, snow no longer appealed to me. It indeed was "The Evil White Stuff" that most New Englanders despise. John's prediction came true; I now have great difficulty finding any redeeming qualities in snow. When people gush about its beauty, I rush to educate them on its many drawbacks, especially for wheelchair users.

As I thought about the glowing comments about my friend's Facebook photo yesterday, the thought occurred to me that snow serves as a good metaphor for false teaching. False teaching looks beautiful, but eventually it traps people in its filth. Sadly, those it ensnares (unlike those who live around literal snow) rarely see past the prettiness. And how sad!

Praise the Lord that His Word, read and preached properly, can melt away deception as the Holy Spirit shines  His warmth and light on it! I pray that He will keep me from the charms of wrong doctrine as I stay in His light. May pretty words fail to allure me away from the truth that can be found only in Christ.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Undectected Happy Years

According to private journals I kept between September of 1977 and April of 1993, my unfulfilled desire to be married dominated my life, defining it with despair and unhappiness. I typed endlessly about the various men I fancied, celebrating hopes only to mourn disappointments as I'd try to manipulate the Lord and  (upon grudgingly accepting His answer of "no") straining to understand His purpose in withholding marriage from me. Those years, it seemed at the time, overflowed with depression.

Yet I look back on those years now, and remember an active social life of Bible Study groups, parties, jaunts into San Francisco and (best of all) writing and  directing church plays. I still chuckle as impassioned debates in our book club come to  mind (was Madame Bovary's husband Charles a gentleman or a wimp?), and I treasure memories of those three and a half months in North Wales and London.

During those years, I cultivated quite a reputation for playing practical jokes. In fact, I even got blame (credit?) for jokes I didn't play! I love looking back on some of my more elaborate ones, particularly the time I got a friend to call Bob (who hated cats) to say he was from the Humane Society and needed to verify Bob's address in order to deliver a kitten.

Of course, working for Love In Action allowed me to travel for Exodus conferences. I enjoyed New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, San Antonio, Toronto and San Diego. Additionally, I visited Houston once to visit a friend and again to attend her wedding. All this travel began with two trips to Oregon--first for a river rafting trip and a year later for a Christian writers' conference.

Some of my stories about those years should start inching into this blog, if only to remind me how abundantly the Lord blessed me during a period that I had characterized as lonely and depressing. Certainly, I've never been happier than now; marriage to John is infinitely more satisfying than I ever imagined marriage could be! But why did I refuse to appreciate those years, with all their activity? Now that I can't be as active, due  to both marriage and  aging with a disability,  I realize how happy those days made me.

But why, I wonder as a postscript, was a Christian book club reading Madame Bovary?

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Hidden In The Rock

So often, evangelical music and preaching gets cluttered by therapeutic models, pragmatism and warm fuzzies to such and extent that the basic Gospel message is either marginalized or completely cast aside. Jesus, rather than saving us from God's wrath and from our own sinfulness, becomes little  more than our ticket to success and personal fulfillment.

So I take great refreshment in hymns that turn us back to the true Gospel that, by shedding His blood on the Cross, Jesus ransomed His own from the power of sin. Rock of Ages, in particular, reminds me of His gracious provision for my spiritual bankruptcy. How thankful I am that, because He accepted the penalty for my sin as His own, He hides me under the cloak of His righteousness!


Saturday, March 22, 2014

Respecting Shakespeare

My Shakespeare professor scowled as I told him what the passage he'd set before our class meant to me personally. He found my comment entirely too subjective, and therefore not acceptable in the context of scholarly discussion. I tried to appeal to a 1974 mindset, but he wouldn't consider such a perspective. "What matters is not what what the passage says to you," he explained, "but what Shakespeare intended when he wrote the play."

Thankfully, that incident occurred during my freshman year of college, preparing me well for my next three years of majoring in English Literature. Although my professor's attitude clashed with the free-thinking approach to literature that my high school teachers had taken, he taught me an indispensable lesson in literary criticism. A work must be understood, first and foremost, on the basis of its author's intent.

But how does a 20-year-old in 1974 discern the intentions of a 16th Century playwright? My professor answered that  question by pointing me to both historical context and (more importantly) to the context of the play itself. Additionally, it helped to study how people used certain words in  16th Century England, as well as knowing some biographical information about  The Bard himself. Finally, familiarity with literary history offered insight.

Understanding Shakespeare's intent, in other words, took work. But it could be done. And I had to do the same work in studying Homer, Virgil, Malory, Chaucer, Donne, Byron, Browning, Frost and all the writers in between. In art history, I  had to do the same with Leonardo, Michelangelo and Carravargio.

A poem or painting is less about  "what it says to me," and more about what the author or artist intends. We may not be comfortable with the message  (indeed, I don't care for most of Shakespeare's plays, particularly his comedies), but we owe them the respect of interpreting their works on their terms rather than our own.

How much more do we owe the Lord respect in interpreting His Word?

19 And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. ~~2 Peter 1:19-21 (ESV)

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Answers Over 35 Years Later

"So tell me," she asked in all sincerity, "what does it mean to be a born-again Christian?" Over 35 years later, I still wince at the memory of fumbling and sputtering out a vague and disjointed response that did nothing to answer her question. She concluded that the church, rather than equipping me to defend the faith intelligently, had brainwashed me into mindless obedience. Sadly, I bungled my best opportunity to witness to her.

Looking back, I wish I had explained that when Christ took possession of my life, He changed my entire way of seeing the world. His priorities became my priorities. Beliefs I'd once held (astrology, reincarnation, universal salvation and the equal validity of all religions, to name a few) no longer held me, as I submitted to the fact that Jesus alone is the Way, the Truth and the Life. I'd been destined for eternity in hell, but Jesus' death on the cross atoned for my sin and His resurrection gave me power to walk in repentance.

Ah, but she (more than anyone) knew I still clung to my sins of anger, selfishness and pride. Back then, I found clever ways to justify those sins, when I could have acknowledged their repulsiveness to the Lord. Although I continue to struggle with them, however, I now understand they belong to my old nature, which was crucified with Christ. I no longer need to practice them.

Through the shed blood of Jesus, God accepts me as His daughter. Slowly, because He's extremely patient with my rebellion, His Holy Spirit has been replacing my sin with attitudes and behavior that actually reflect my Heavenly Father. As He  brings about my resemblance to Him, despite it being pale and weak, He confirms that I've been born again.

And I will, over 35 years later, write her a letter.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Sooner The Better

If tomorrow's weather cooperates, John plans to take me to our favorite local diner for lunch, and I'm eagerly anticipating a date without having to use The RIDE. We've had a rough month emotionally, and expect  circumstances to grow worse before the Lord intervenes, so we feel the need for some fun together.

As much as I look forward to enjoying a fun time with my husband, I look forward even more to Christ's return. I'm no expert in eschatology, but this world is quickly losing its appeal as more as more professing Christians turn to worldly devices, choking out the very Word they claim to follow. I'm not so bothered that the secular world embraces sin with increasing boldness (why should anyone expect otherwise?), but the moral and doctrinal deterioration of evangelicals breaks my heart. And so, I long for the establishment of Christ's kingdom. May He come soon!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

This Yankee Wants To Do More Than Doodle

Last week I bought CorelDRAW X6 The Official Guide hoping it would contain some tutorials. Folks, I'm far from being disappointed! The opening tutorial took more than an hour, and it's the first of eight tutorials in Chapter One!
Courtesy of Amazon.com

Do I need to say that working through this book competes with blogging time? Which, in some respects, is fine. I look forward to learning the program and drawing more pictures to illustrate greeting cards and blog posts, so I very much want to spend serious time studying this book and working through its tutorials. In so doing, however, I also desire to maintain this blog, believing the Lord uses it for....

For what?

I hope for His glory. I hope through the words I type, He strengthens Christians, inspiring then to both study Scripture and to apply it in their daily lives. I hope that typing out my ruminations on His Word will fix my mind increasingly on Him so that I have no time for temptation, and no interest in worldly pursuits.

I also hope non-Christians will encounter the Gospel as they read my various posts. I hope the Holy Spirit will show them how utterly helpless they are to atone for their sin, which will necessarily condemn them to hell. And, as they accept that utter helplessness, I hope they will see God's inexplicable grace in dying on the cross in order to atone for their sin, as well as seeing His power to rise from the dead.

I enjoy expressing my creativity both through digital art and through blogging. Both art forms require time and nurture, demanding that I balance my time and energy between them.  But I pray that, in both, the Lord will receive the glory. Otherwise, I'm wasting my time.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Does My Salvation Show?

Today  I worked through 1 Thessalonians 1 in my devotional time. That short chapter, in which Paul enumerates ways that he sees clear evidence of the Thessalonians' election, includes three verses that have always intrigued me.

For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything. For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, 10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come. ~~1 Thessalonians 11:8-10 (ESV)

Apparently, the response of the Thessalonians to the Gospel was so radical and pronounced that people well beyond their city had heard about it. Although Thessalonica was (and still is) a city within Macedonia (the northern region of Greece), Macedonia is a huge region. Moreover, Achaia lies over 100 miles south of Thessalonica, just below Corinth (click here to view a map from www.bible.ca). That means that the reputation of the church in Thessalonica extended over an incredibly vast territory, even without the Internet.

Every time I think about these verses, I ask myself how many people around me can see evidence of Christ in me. Do they see a faith that goes well beyond lip-service? Do I demonstrate abandonment of worldly "values" in favor of serving the living and true God? Do people detect that I eagerly await the glorious return of Christ? I pray that my devotion to the Lord is as obvious as that of the Thessalonians.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Ever In Fanny Crosby's Joyful Song

Fanny Crosby, although blind from early in her childhood, had a devotion to the Lord that puts me to shame. She once said she appreciated her blindness on earth because she knew that, upon opening her eyes in heaven, the first sight to greet her eyes would be the face of Jesus! What a beautiful attitude toward both her disability and her blessed Redeemer!

Fanny's hymns have always ranked high among my favorites, perhaps because they burst with joyous anticipation of Christ's return. In a time when evangelicals reduce the Gospel to "therapeutic" models for "living our best lives now," her lyrics return me to a more biblical perspective of awaiting His victorious return. His promise of His eternal Kingdom, in which He will reign in all His glory, gives us hope as we battle through the effects of sin in this fallen world.

Back in 1984, someone asked me to name my favorite hymn. I hadn't yet been introduced to  "How Firm A Foundation." so I immediately answered, "Praise Him, Praise Him, Jesus Our Blessed Redeemer." At the time, I knew nothing about Fanny Crosby's blindness, but I loved the way her words exalted Jesus and looked forward to His coming. Those words still cause my spirit to soar in adoration and worship.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

The Year That Daddy Died

Fifty years ago, I turned ten.

It was a watershed year in my life, marked by my first male teacher, graduating from Brownies to Girl Scouts, my father's death, JFK's assassination, getting a kitten (Wilma), the Beatles' American debut, Wilma's first litter of kittens (when she was only six months old herself), my first attempts at writing stories and a cross-country train trip visiting relatives in New Mexico and Kansas (during which I became aware of the war in Vietnam). My most vivid childhood memories hearken back to September 1963 through August 1964.

I didn't exactly come of age that year, but I experienced my first loss of innocence as well as my first taste of independent thought. Sadness and joy wove themselves through "the year that Daddy died," with all its transitions, adjustments and discoveries. I often feel as if my life, or at least my  personality began that year.

Suddenly, that year was fifty years ago, and I can get senior discounts at the local movie theater. My clunky IBM electric typewriter is long gone, replaced by a sleek Dell Inspiron that runs on the Windows 8.1 operating system. I'm a Christian now, devoting most of my writing to topics involving the Lord, and He's blessed me with a husband who shows me how to love.

Yet when I hear the Beatles sing "I Wanna Hold Your Hand," I'm ten again, watching them on  Ed Sullivan. The wonder of that horrible, joyous year surrounds me, making it difficult to believe that my younger sister has three grandchildren. In my mind, I still see Paul McCartney playing his left-handed guitar as I begin  life without Daddy.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Mini Skirts And Speaking Truth

At some point, I plan to address some serious issues in the 21st Century evangelical movement. Frankly, part of me wants to launch in to a couple of my concerns now, perhaps channeling that anger Martin Luther used to fuel his composing, writing, praying and preaching. But things need to happen in my offline life before I'd be free to bringing any comments to this blog. And when those things take place depends completely on the weather, since John and I can't risk our health by going out when temperatures are so low.

As I anticipate the meeting we'll need to attend, I can't help but think of the song, Harper Valley PTA that Jeannie C. Riley recorded back in 1968. Enjoy listening, and then scroll down for more remarks from me.



Jeannie C. Riley's song doesn't really parallel the situation John and I face, except that we'll be speaking truth to people who don't want to hear what we have to say. As a matter of fact, I expect to suffer painful consequences for standing on principle rather than helping them understand the dangers of their beliefs and practices. It would be so much easier (and, in the short-run, personally beneficial) to set my doctrinal convictions aside and accept ways that eat away at Scriptural truth.

Obviously, I must choose the Lord's way.

Guess I'd better not wear a mini skirt that day...

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Rememberance and Anticipation

While reading the chapter on the Eucharist in Doug Erlandson's book, Spiritual Anorexia: How Contemporary Worship Is Starving the Church, last night, I wanted to blog about Communion. Indeed, several points Erlandson made on this wonderful church ordinance deepened my appreciation of it, so much so that I look forward to celebrating it again. As I do, I will look back on Christ's sacrifice on the cross, as well as to feasting with Him when He returns and resurrects my body.

For so many years, particularly when I identified myself as a Charismatic, taking the Lord's Supper (the term I prefer to use regarding the ordinance) left me disappointed. I took it with expectations of mystical sensations that almost never materialized. Predictably, I'd then blame myself for my apparent lack of spiritual receptivity.

In recent years, regretfully, I've strayed to the other extreme of being emotionally numb to the Lord's Supper, focusing almost exclusively on confessing my sins and praying for the ability to walk in repentance. Certainly, taking the Lord's Supper requires such self-examination and repentance to avoid God's judgment, and I in no way wish to imply that anyone should take the elements if they plan on persisting in sinful patterns. But such an exclusive concentration neglects the primary meaning of the celebration.

As I eat the bread that symbolizes Christ's body broken for me and drink the cup that symbolizes His blood shed for me, may I rejoice that His presence lives in me through the Holy Spirit. May I fear offending the Spirit by persisting in sinful thoughts, attitudes and behaviors. And may I eagerly anticipate eating and drinking with the Lord in His kingdom.

Monday, March 10, 2014

His Greatness Calls Me To Worship

Often theologies that (rightly) emphasize that Jesus is our Friend and (erroneously) depict Him as our personal Boyfriend/Lover/Husband can distract us from worshiping Him as the all-powerful Lord Whose glory shines so brilliantly that our mortal eyes can't begin to comprehend Him. Our approach to Him grows increasingly casual, causing us to gloss over His holiness when we really should consider how it distinguishes Him from us.

This past week, I've been dwelling on a hymn which celebrates the wonders of the Lord's distinction from the humans He's created. The words call me to humility as they remind me of the contrast between His nature and mine, but they also cause me to marvel at His love for me! Perhaps, like me, you'll find yourself drawn into an attitude of worship as you watch this video that extols His attributes.


Sunday, March 9, 2014

Anger And Divorce: A Blogger's Struggle

Image from Internet
Recently,  I read a rather curious quote attributed to Martin Luther that has made me think about  my blog, as well as how my readers (according to my stats) seem to respond to various posts. In light of my decision to restrain from blogging about issues that presently trouble me, this quote especially intrigues me.

“I find nothing that promotes work better than angry fervor. For when I wish to compose, write, pray and preach well, I must be angry. It refreshes my entire system, my mind is sharpened, and all unpleasant thoughts and depression fade away.”

In one respect, Luther had a valid point. Writing, and I'd imagine preaching, needs passion to give it energy. I recall Sister Nicholas, my favorite English professor in college, once commenting that people tend to use heightened language in the midst of heated arguments. I'm not sure such always holds true (it  seems to me that angry people often degenerate into vulgarity), but perhaps she saw the same sort of principle that Luther saw. The passion of anger can produce great artistry.

Additionally, my "angry" posts attract the highest volume of readers. Even though some of you then deluge the comments section with rebukes (and I deserve those rebukes, for the most part), my rants apparently draw you more than any other type of post. You'll each need to ask the Lord to examine your hearts individually to show you why you gravitate to the posts that display my rage, and He might exonerate some of you. But consider the point that giving attention to posts of that nature can, and sometimes does, tempt me to write more posts venting my anger for the sole purpose of building my readership. Please be aware that giving so much attention to such posts may cause me to stumble.

Yet, the Lord ultimately holds me responsible for both my anger and my blog. Whether my anger fuels better writing or not, His Word condemns all but righteous indignation. And if I'm honest before Him, knowing that He has full authority to judge the thoughts and attitudes of my heart,  I have no choice other than to admit that my anger can rarely be categorized as "righteous." Long-time readers of this blog can attest to this fact.

I began writing this post before supper last night. Interestingly, during my Quiet Time today, as I read Colossians 3, the Lord used verse 8 to counter Martin Luther's assertion that writing (as well as composing, praying or preaching) requires anger.

But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. ~~Colossians 3:8 (ESV)

I thought of Old Testament men "putting away" their wives in divorce, and wrote in my notes that the Lord wants me, instead of "using" my anger to produce more dramatic writing, to divorce myself from it. Luther's righteous anger brought about the Reformation, certainly, and praise God for that! But I must not take advantage of his quote (which may or may not have been his attempt to  justify his continued anger) as an excuse to hang on to anger in my life.

My blog  posts may be less impassioned without anger, and less people may read what I write. I understand both concepts. But may God grant me His grace to divorce my anger, even at the expense of my blog's popularity, so that my writing will honor and reflect Him.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Raggedy Ann Ended One Winter

Who isn't fed up with winter?

Although this cartoon includes one racist caricature that I certainly don't condone, the general story may resonate with those of you who (like me) yearn  for spring. Thankfully, we can pray directly to the Creator, trusting His wisdom to change the season according to His purpose. Still, this short cartoon seems apropos to this interminable winter.

  

Friday, March 7, 2014

Energized By Rosebuds

I finished drawing my fanciful vine of yellow rosebuds last night. Actually, it turned out better than I had anticipated it would, which is always a nice surprise.

This project taught me more about CorelDRAW, therefore increasing my confidence to keep using the program. Back in January, I'd feared that I'd wasted my money on it, but now I think it might have been a worthwhile investment. In some respects, it requires more work than Paintshop Pro does, but it offers much more flexibility in terms of editing (even after I save a project) that it could end up saving me time further down the road.

So, though I'm tired, this experience leaves me energized and eager to learn more about the program. Let's see what I'll do for the upcoming April birthdays!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

When Saying Less Means More

A difficult decision that John and I face hinders me from blogging freely lately. If I blog about the various issues involved, I know I'd be making not-so-veiled attempt at jabbing the parties with whom we disagree, and such a backhanded approach wouldn't honor the Lord. So I've backed away from blogging much about the topics uppermost on my mind, unwilling to put myself in a position where my concerns for Scriptural integrity could be construed (rightly or wrongly) as personal attacks.

Calling out doctrinal error definitely has its time and place. I believe this blog is the place, and I will return to openly examining teachings and trends that undermine sound doctrine and godly behavior. At this particular time, however, I can't trust myself to present such arguments without a Told-You-So attitude. And honestly, that attitude wouldn't honor Christ.

In the past, I've recklessly vented negative emotions in this blog, and people have faithfully corrected me for my irresponsibility. Although I didn't enjoy the correction (it hurt me, to be honest), I've learned from it. I've learned, specifically, that this blog is not the appropriate venue for airing my innermost feelings. My readers also have feelings...feelings I unnecessarily hurt through my tirades. Even worse, I dishonored the Lord in those rants, perhaps discrediting myself a bit as someone who could then defend His Word.

So please bear with blog posts that don't talk much about the Lord or  His Word, understanding that nearly everything I'd write right now would tie into this very painful situation confronting me and John. If I write about Boston, digital art or Youtube videos for a few weeks, please understand my motive to avoid using my blog as a bully pulpit against the other people involved. In time, I'll again be blogging about the Lord boldly, but for now, let's enjoy lighter conversation.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Retrieving My Rosebud

All right...so   I'm stubborn!

The Horticulture, Accurate But Unseen

I spent three hours working on a birthday card using CorelDRAW today, without much to show for my efforts. I finished the clock that I'd started Sunday, deciding to make it simple (as opposed to the elaborate one I'd planned on drawing) because the lady for whom I'm making it prefers simple decoration.
But the card needed a bit more decoration for my satisfaction. Its recipient has given me so much that I want her card to show her my love and appreciation for her. Frankly, the clock by itself just looked chintzy!

So I've started drawing a vine with yellow rosebuds. Yes, I know roses grow on bushes, not vines, but greeting cards don't need to be horticulturally accurate. So far, I've only completed only one bud, which probably took longer to design than the rest of them will. Actually, I think it turned out quite pretty.

Sadly, Blogger won't recognize my .jpeg file of the rosebud, and I don't have time to play with it anymore tonight. Maybe later this week it will allow me to show you the vine. Anyway, I'm pleased to be learning CorelDRAW. I look forward to developing my skills.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Missing Familiar Wonders

For the most part, staying home this winter hasn't bothered me as much as usual, although the extreme cold is certainly annoying. I've kept busy reading, writing and drawing, and still feel as if I need more free time to read, write and draw. How do I manage in the good weather, when John and I divide our time between countless medical appointments and our beloved Boston Adventures?

As much as I still want to accomplish during these busy winter days, I'm feeling the familiar longing for 18th Century buildings and strolls down the Waterfront. I miss seeing costumed actors leading tourists along the Freedom Trail, and weaving around pedestrians on Boyleston Street as we head toward the Prudential Building. I long to see the lady who begs on the corner of State and Congress Streets, and for entertaining conversations with our Train Buddy on the way home.

Yes, I want to return to all the familiar wonders of my adopted city. But until then, there's much to do at home. I'll content myself with reading, writing and drawing while I wait for spring. It can't be much longer. Can it?

Sunday, March 2, 2014

The Sublime Simple Song

Don't you love The Doxology? Despite its brevity and seeming simplicity, rich theology floods each line, focusing us on our wonderful Creator and the mystery of the Trinity. The music supports the words, lifting us into an attitude of praise. For all its simplicity, it lifts our minds away from our mundane concerns so that we turn our attention to Who we worship and why we worship Him.


Saturday, March 1, 2014

Our Loved Ones In Heaven

Mourning the death of a loved one causes most of us to search for a way to keep the relationship viable. They have moved on and into eternity, but we remain here. And we desperately miss them!

In our efforts to maintain a sense of connection with our loved ones, we often imagine them watching over us, and sometimes causing heavenly intervention on our behalf. Such thoughts offer consolation by providing a sense that they still love us enough to be involved in the intricate details of our lives...perhaps even more involved than they had been during their earthy lives.

Certainly, Christians can rightly expect to be reunited in heaven. The apostle Paul, writing to the Thessalonian Christians, showed that faith in the resurrection provides tremendous assurance to those of us who stay behind:

13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. 15 For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words. ~~1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 (ESV)

Through Paul, the Holy Spirit assures us that death separates Christians only temporarily, and that when Jesus returns all of us will rise to meet Him in our resurrected bodies. At that glorious moment, we will be reunited with each other, and we will finally be face-to-Face with Him.

In the meantime, the spirits of our Christian loved ones dwell in heaven with the Lord and His angels, where they focus on worshiping Him. Paul, in his letter to the Philippians, eagerly looked forward to death with the knowledge that he would then come into Christ's presence. He longed for that day! Yet he knew that, once he went to be with the Lord, he could no longer do anything for those he left on earth.

Yes, and I will rejoice, 19 for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, 20 as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. 23 I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. 24 But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. 25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again. ~~Philippians 1:18b-26 (ESV)

Our loved ones in heaven will rejoice when we join them, but Scripture indicates that their eyes fix themselves on Jesus, rather than on us. They know, better than we do, that He can care for us without their intervention. More importantly, they understand that, like them, we need to keep our attention completely on Him. And they love us so much that they hope we'll do so.

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