Fingerprints

19 02 2012

How amazing would it be to see God’s creation, untouched by mankind’s hand? God’s creation is like a giant painting. We have soiled it through sin, and proceeded to cover and destroy it with our dirty fingerprints. In my one of my courses (Environment Science and Conservation) we are discussing global warming, human over population, species extinction, and such. What I have learned in that class? That the earth is dying: slowly but surely. Now, I’m no environmentalist, but it breaks my heart to see what we have done to the earth through litter, unnecessary building/construction, and such. Imagine what God’s creation would look like, if not tampered with by us fallen creatures? Even the beautiful landscape in a park, has been altered from it’s original state. I want to go to a place on earth, where no man has been. Where we have not cut down trees, killed any animals, or have garbage scattered on the ground. I want to see how God’s creation interacts, flourishes, and reflects the perfect hand of God. Just as in a painting you can see the guided and purposeful brushstrokes, I want to see God’s creation—each brushstroke—without our fingerprints covering it up and soiling it’s perfection. I can’t wait to get my heavenly body, and to see the second earth.  I can’t wait until my only purpose and desire to be praising and serving God. To not worry about my future, pain, or suffering. Just His greatness. God and all of His creation: the way it is supposed to be—unsoiled by sin.

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Divergence

9 11 2011

Life has been compared to so many things. It has been described as a journey, and each person’s life follows a path. Robert Frost described the decisions between following the world down the “easy” path, or going down the path that fewer people choose, but yields more blessing, in his poem “The Road Not Taken”:

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth.

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same.

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

–Robert Frost

The road taken more often is the path of the world; the one that accepts sin. The road less travelled is that way for a reason. It is narrow. There is less wiggle room for human lusts and unnecessary and sinful pleasures that the world revels in. People who have followed the worldly path may call out, ridicule and slander the people who forge ahead in the path that God intended them travel. The worldly path may seem easier. It may promise you fortune, love, and acceptance. Yet the fortune it promises is only temporary and is meaningless at the judgement throne of God. The love the worldly path promises is lustful and shallow. The acceptance the path promises is an acceptance of the very sin that will inevitably doom you to an eternity in Hell. Although the narrower path is less taken, those who travel it do not travel alone. Other Christians are there to support you and encourage you to stay on the path. They

consider the consequences and rewards of each path

can remind you of the glory that awaits you at the end of the path.

“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.”–Matthew 7:13

We all know, due to the prompting of the Holy Spirit, which is the correct path. What we actually choose however, is a different story. Even if the right path is taken, it is not a permanent situation. Each decision that arises in our every day life is another fork in the path. Choosing the right path once does not guarantee that you will stay on the right path. It requires a watchful eye, a discerning spirit, and continuous prayer, to STAY on the right path.

I would encourage you to spend time in prayer before each major decision. Let God show you which path will bring you closer to Him. It might not be easy, but it will be WORTH IT. He will guide you if you listen!

“And at your back, when you are turning to the right hand or to the left, a voice will be sounding in your ears, saying, This is the way in which you are to go.”

–Isaiah 30:21





Sanctuary

14 07 2011

Streams of Living Water

The Shower walls see a lot of things…The walls see you stripped of your clothes and belongings, make up and hair-do’s. The shower walls see you without false pretenses. The walls absorb your voice when you sing without casting judgement. The walls get splattered on, hair stuck to them, and mildew/limescale build up. Yet the shower walls are a safe haven–a place of solitude, freedom, and release without judgement. Such a haven can also be found in spending time with the Lord. With Him you don’t need any false pretenses. He sees you stripped of all your earthly possessions. He does not judge you on your abilities (or inabilities as the case may be). Time with God is an opportunity to be cleansed. When you repent, He removes impurities that you have accumulated by sinning. His grace can cleanse you–no matter how much filth you have built up, or how long it’s been there–He is powerful enough to wash it all away! Think of David–he was a man who’s heart was after God–but he still sinned. After committing adultery with Bathsheba, he wrote Psalm 51:

1 Have mercy on me, O God,
because of your unfailing love.
Because of your great compassion,
blot out the stain of my sins.
2 Wash me clean from my guilt.
      Purify me from my sin.
3 For I recognize my rebellion;
it haunts me day and night.
4 Against you, and you alone, have I sinned;
I have done what is evil in your sight.
You will be proved right in what you say,
and your judgment against me is just.
5 For I was born a sinner—
yes, from the moment my mother conceived me.
6 But you desire honesty from the womb,
teaching me wisdom even there.

7 Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean;
      wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.

Just as you shower to maintain a socially acceptable hygiene (as everyone around you appreciates!), you need to be hygienic in your spiritual life as well. Don’t let sin build up on you and create a spiritual stench that will push away both Christians and non-Christians. By spending time with God and repenting of your sins, you can be cleansed and made whiter than snow! The shower can be seen as a sanctuary–but is nothing in comparison to the sanctuary found in God:

Jeremiah 17:12-14

12 A glorious throne on high from the beginning 
Is the place of our sanctuary. 
13 O LORD, the hope of Israel,
All who forsake You will be put to shame.
Those who turn [a]away on earth will be written down,
Because they have forsaken the fountain of living water, even the LORD.
14 Heal me, O LORD, and I will be healed;
Save me and I will be saved,
For You are my praise.

So find sanctuary in God and spend time with Him daily. Perhaps spend time worshiping Him in the shower…I’m sure the shower walls would love to hear you sing praises to God!





Caught

6 07 2011

"Caught"

While sitting on a swinging bench in the park I was bombarded with a swarm of insects. Looking to my right, I see a large spider web strung between the supporting chains. The web was invisible for the most part, save some fibers that caught the sunlight when teased by the wind. What really gave away its presence however were the bodies of its latest victims. Some insects were struggling for freedom, others were merely carcasses. With all the bugs still flying around, it got me thinking: did others learn to avoid that area–warned by the danger by the visible victims–or was it only a matter of time before that was their fate as well? This then sparked an idea in my head, and sadly- it consists of us relating to the bugs. In our daily walks there are webs that the devil has spun. The webs are invisible traps that you can fall in to so easily. Each sin acts as a web. Whether it is an addiction, an all-consuming fear, jealousy, pride, etc. each has sticky fibers that catch us and hold us fast in its grasp. How are you supposed to avoid these invisible traps? God took care of that! The Bible, God’s written word, acts as a light–reflecting off of the otherwise transparent web. The Bible warns of the webs that are easy to fall into, and that will ultimately lead to death.

Proverbs 6:16-19 (TNLT)

There are six things the LORD hates,
seven that are detestable to him:
17 haughty eyes,
a lying tongue,
hands that shed innocent blood,
18 a heart that devises wicked schemes,
feet that are quick to rush into evil,
19 a false witness who pours out lies
and a person who stirs up dissension in the community.

Galatians 5:19-21 (TNLT)

19 The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

By reading the Bible and heading its advice, you can avoid the sticky fibers of sin that are just waiting to entrap you. There is another way to avoid these death traps as well. One of the big give-aways of a web are the bodies of its previous victims. You can avoid webs by seeing other people that are caught in them. Learn from their mistakes! Steer clear of the fibers that caught many other people. If you see the dreadful consequences of someone entangled by an addiction or other type of sin, learn to dodge the frequent webs like the remaining swarm of bugs.

Once caught in a web, no matter how small, it is harder to be a light for God. How can you do His will when you are bound by sin? It is possible to escape the webs, but it cannot be done alone. With God’s help you can be free from the sticky fibers that once held you steadfast. It’s all about choice. As it says in Proverbs 11:19, “Truly the righteous attain life, but those who pursue evil go to their death.” If you pursue evil by letting yourself sin willingly, you are going to your death. For as it is written in Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.” Don’t be a victim of sin. The webs will always be there, and you may even fall into them sometimes–but with God on your side, you can be free and continue to live your life for HIM!





Better Than Brownies

22 06 2011

Having a bad day? Reach for a bag of chips. Failed a test? Break out the ice cream. Went through a bad break up? Bring on the brownies. So many people today turn to food as a comfort during times of emotional stress. Consuming large quantities of food can provide a temporary relief from a negative emotion–but the relief is short lived. After a binge, feelings of regret and guilt begin to swell. What once felt like the solution, then becomes the problem.

In the Raw "recipe" that encourages overeating and emotional eating

The makers of “Sugar in the Raw” play off of the commonality of overeating in today’s society in a series of ad campaigns and television commercials. In not so subtle ways, In the Raw is encouraging overeating and emotional eating. Their “It’s only natural” slogan is meant to remove the guilt from overeating–playing it off as a normal response to stress. Just because overeating is common, doesn’t mean it’s natural-or healthy! In the magazine ad (see picture below) it blatantly encourages the use of their brownies as a comfort food to be consumed in large quantities. “Count the years you dated. If it exceeds 5, double the recipe.” How does this fit into society’s idealized size-zero obsession? Girls are given conflicting messages: to be controlled and to eat only diet foods, and to indulge. The In the Raw ad campaign shows both sides of the coin. After telling you to “devour that pan of chocolatey goodness,” it also says “the diet starts tomorrow.” The conflicting messages can lead to a vicious cycle of bingeing and dieting.

People don’t need someone to make excuses for their bad habits. They need someone who can comfort them better than brownies. Eating a pan of brownies may taste good–but does it really fix the real problem? If food isn’t the problem, then food isn’t the solution. So what is better than brownies? What could really heal the broken heart? There is someone who is there to comfort you in your time of need. Someone who is always there to listen to you. Someone who knows your pain. Someone who can heal your broken heart, permanently–not just a temporary fix that you will regret tomorrow when you can’t button your jeans. That someone is Jesus. He is the Great Physician, the one who will heal your emotional pain and comfort you during tough times.

Ropes can trap us in the lie that food is our only comfort in times of emotional stress

Do you turn to food for comfort when emotionally taxed? Do you suffer from binge eating disorder? The cycle is hard to break, but with God anything is possible. The Bible gives instructions on how to win this battle: through relying on God’s strength. In Ephesians 6, the armor of God is described. The first piece of armor is to gird your waist with truth. Gird your emotions in truth. But how can that help you be free from binge eating, or other vices for emotional pain? “Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31-32). The truth really will set you free; and the only truth is in God’s word.

It’s not going to be easy. Old habits die hard–but they must die. Instead of reaching to food for comfort, reach out to God. He is the ultimate healer. There are going to be times when you are tempted, but God can help you with that as well! “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”–1st Corinthians 10:13. “In the Raw” is trying to pass off gluttony as the norm in their “It’s only natural” campaign, but it’s a lie. Combat these lies with the truth: that God is better than brownies! 





“This {Raging Fire} of Mine, I’m Going to Let it Shine”

19 06 2011

Most people have heard the song “this little light of mine,” but has anyone else had a problem with the lyrics? I want to be more than just a little light–I want to be a raging fire for God! It’s easy to blow out a little flame, but a raging fire is more resilient, and is brighter. Even raging fires are vulnerable to attacks. The devil has all sorts of tactics to douse the flames that burn for the Lord, his sworn enemy. Satan uses physical attacks: bullying, abuse, and physical injuries to stomp out the flames of your spiritual fire. Storms in life also threaten to put out your fire. A rude comment, a hateful glance, a hurtful rumor, a revealed lie, a condemning accusation: each being a drop that rains down on your fire. When you don’t feel worthy. When you question how anyone could love someone like you. When life doesn’t seem worth it. When the mirror lies, telling you that you are fat, ugly, and undesirable. This is water flooding around your fire. The emotional attacks flood over the flames–the downfall of many fires. The lies we believe are floods that seem unavoidable and inescapable. Yet even floods of water cannot quell a raging forest fire. The brighter and hotter your burn for God, the harder it will be to put out your flames. With so many attacks on your spiritual fire, it may seem impossible to maintain and even grow your passion for God. But God is there to help. He is the wind that fans the flames. He is the one that builds you up and breathes life into you when the storms of life have broken you down.

Some verses for thought on fanning the flames of your spiritual fire:

“Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord” Romans 12:11

“Do not put out the Spirit’s fire” 1 Thessalonians 5:19

“For our God is a consuming fire.” Hebrews 12:29.

—Let’s follow His example and burn bright in His name! The world is filled with darkness, but we can be a light to the lost!

acrylic painting I did to illustrate the power of a raging spiritual fire