The Mark of An Artist–Perfect Imperfections

I’ve never really considered myself an artist–outside the privilege of using that term to describe creating sentences. But when it comes to colors, shapes, designs, even simple decorating–I’m the first to raise my hand and ask for help.

(True confessions, my husband is the one who arranges our furniture and hangs our pictures. However, he can’t get dressed in anything other than a uniform without asking my advice. At least I’m good for something!)

But recently, I saw the most adorable sign. Then I got a wild idea and thought, “I could make it instead of buying it!”

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Pretty perfect, right? I’m talking about Evie, here 🙂

My sister is a pro at making things–all kinds of things from wood, so I enlisted her help to walk me through it. Each step of the way, she kept reminding me, “You want it to be imperfect. Don’t stress out over any ‘mistakes’. They just add character and make it unique. Consider it kind of like your signature. In fact, you can always bang it up a little more with your hammer or distress the paint with sandpaper.”

Well, given that I’ve spilled wood stain on it in the wrong places (and on my pants and driveway), and had the unsolicited help of 10 tiny fingers and four furry paws–there have been a lot of mistakes.

But it was in my quiet time this morning that it hit me. I was praying through Ephesians 2:10–

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

If I am God’s workmanship, then shouldn’t He be the one to sign off on all my “imperfections”? Why are those not His additions of character, His signature and intentionality in my life?

I mean, come on, God is God. He could easily have picked up the sandpaper and scrubbed out any “mistakes” (which of course He doesn’t make!) But if He chose to leave anything I find unlikeable, then it’s probably up to me to simply learn how to put to good use this unique, fashionable creation that He intentionally put His name on.

After all, I’m His workmanship–created for specific things He planned. It’s all on Him!

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Nuggets: Be Unashamed of Your Body

I think Heaven should have a special appeal to all those who have struggled with body image. Not that Heaven isn’t just plain awesome, period. But, the way it’s described in Scripture, tugs my formerly eating disordered heart in a unique way.

I’ve recently listened to Pastor Chip Ingram’s series on Heaven and I highly recommend it! One of the things he presses, is that Heaven will not seem incredibly foreign. It’s not something that we can “only imagine”. Heaven is the place that God dwells, it’s where He wants to live and where He wants to live in close, face-to-face relationship with His people for all eternity. It’s actually very like what He created in the first place. And we have a pretty good description of Eden in Genesis.

My favorite line in all of Genesis is verse 2:25, “And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.”

Can you imagine (perhaps this is where we have to employ imagination) what it would be likely to be completely unashamed of your body?

We are told that we will have new, glorified bodies but we will have bodies. Psalm 139 expresses God’s intention and pleasure in the unique way He sculpted you and me. He wants me to look this way! He is happy with the way you turned out!

So, set your sight again on the eternal. Don’t get hung up on the things that moths and dust will corrupt. One day, you’ll look at yourself and truly see you as God does–with pleasure, joy and peace.

Nature Sings of God’s Handiwork

by: Billie Jo Youman’s

Do you see God’s handiwork as you look around our world? It is there! His attributes, like a fingerprint, appear throughout the universe. Learning to see God in the world around us brings amazing possibilities because the natural reveals the spiritual.

How about this for a worship reminder: the universe actually sings all the time! We notice the birds and sometimes the wind, but there is continual praise. Enjoy this video that allows us to sing alongside creation …

Read the rest of this lovely post on The Bottom Line. 

Continuous Creation

I started off to wonder,
How the trees and skies were made.
How shadows follow fingers
And butterflies parade,
Round roses, daisies, buttercups
And only for a season,
Then disappear, to come next year
With hardly any reason.

How the breeze can be so winsome
And terrify me too.
One night’s sky an angry yellow,
The next one, navy blue.

How can my face be worn and lined?
The skin once baby-smooth and fine.
How can my one same spirit
Live inside an aged frame?
My one same spirit—
Growing through the change?

Perhaps it’s not that creation was—
It wasn’t yesterday.
Maybe God still speaks life,
And and breathes souls
Today and everyday.

I chased these thoughts throughout the day,
And took them last to Scripture.

“Lord,” I said, “I don’t understand
“How all these things can be.
You made earth once, but I still see
Your hand in everything.”

“Daughter,” Abba slow replied,
“The world spins within my hand.
And every breath that’s taken,
Yes, those are all mine too.
Yes, I once created,
But I’m always making new.”

Revelation 21:5 “And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He *said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.”

Amos 4:13 “For behold, he who forms the mountains and creates the wind, and declares to man what is his thought, who makes the morning darkness, and treads on the heights of the earth—
the LORD, the God of hosts, is his name!”

Good and Naked

I’m pretty glad we wear clothes, and not just because they cover up a lot of things I’d rather not see.

However, if Adam and Eve were created naked, “and it was good,” why do we get dressed every day?

Adam and Eve were created in God’s image. All of their nakedness was perfection to Him and mirrored Himself. It’s a little strange to consider, but when Adam and Eve looked at each other relative to the rest of creation, it was obvious that they looked like their Father, their creator.

We often recall that the immediate consequence of their sin was clothing. They scrambled for fig leaves until God gave them a more permanent dressing of animal skins. But they had been naked all along. How could that have been sinful in itself?

I image that Satan curled slippery around the trunk of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. “You won’t surely die,” he whispered. “But God knows you will become like Him knowing good and evil.” There it was, Satan told Eve that God had lied, He really hadn’t made them like Himself. He really wasn’t a benevolent Father offering to them all that they could ever desire. 

Adam and Eve had been naked all along, nakedness wasn’t a sin. How did identifying their nakedness become the shame inducing moment that sent them running to hide from God?

“Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked.”

In the seconds it took them sink their God-given teeth into the skin of a sweet fruit, the gravity of their choice hit them, painfully. The serpent had lied, they really did look like God. God really had made them in His image. It wasn’t that being naked was evil and they simply figured it out all of a sudden. No, the evil that they instantly became aware of was their decision to believe someone other God. They doubted the goodness and truth of their best friend.

Jesus calls Himself the Way, the Truth and the Life. Adam and Eve denied the very essence and nature of their Father.

He isn’t truth, they thought.

Adam and Eve first clothed themselves. They used it to cover their shame. And so, I believe that it was out of mercy that God clothed them.

Imagine a master potter. His choicest piece of clay spinning smoothly beneath his fingers. When He finishes, he sets the masterpiece in the center of His daily table, pleased with its beauty. One day, a mischievous child intentionally reaches up and throws the beautiful piece to the floor. The potter is crushed. It saddens Him to know its intended perfection and to now see it in shambles. So He picks up the pieces and gently, lovingly covers them with his cloak – clothing the shards.

Maybe that’s what God was doing – until the moment when He restores all of His creation to its original goodness.

“Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears,a we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.” 1 John 3:2-3

 

A Greater Christmas

I have never met anyone who argued that the man Jesus didn’t exist. Historians, secular and religious alike, recorded his footsteps through the dust of history. Religions that deny His deity, dare not deny His humanity.

But from the first chapter of the first book of the Bible, God set up time to declare the greatness of His one and only begotten son, Jesus. In Genesis 1:24, God declared that His creation was good. All aspects of creation met God’s favor in His three word blessing: mammals, fish, birds, plants, light, water, everything… except man. When God made man, He observed His masterpiece and declared that man was very good.

And Jesus was a man. Jesus came in human flesh, so at the very least He was good. But He was so much more.

“But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.” Luke 1:30-33

Declare the Greatness of Jesus today, our Deliverer and Salvation.

If God is Good…

For about a week now, I’ve been fumbling with thoughts about pain. Sounds morbid, right? Except that I’ve been thinking about the Privileges of Pain.

Truthfully,  most of the world is hung up on, “if God is good, why Pain, Suffering, Death?” Authors have gone so far as to declare loudly, God Is Not Good, (Christopher Hitchens.) But before we turn away from this topic, which we have covered for two months, I want to suggest to you that pain proves that God is decidedly good. 

Let’s start at the very beginning, according to Fraulein Maria, in Sound of Music, a very good place to start. What is the very first recording of pain in the Bible? I imagine the animal that God slew in order to fashion clothes for Adam and Eve was the first creature to experience pain. (Genesis 3:21)

If you recall, Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden by eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. The first indication of their sin was that they realized they were naked, they became ashamed and they hid. Therefore, God made clothes for them of animal skins.

The animal whose life was forfeit in order to clothe Adam and Eve was the first picture of a blood sacrifice to cover the sins of man. Then, throughout the Old Testament, under the Mosaic covenant, death was required to pay for sin so that man might remain in relationship with God. (Hebrews 9:22)

Fast forward to the first four books of the New Testament. These Gospels tell us the story of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Jesus endured pain’s grand finale in his death on the cross. His pain was the payment for our sin. Isaiah 53:5

But why pain at all?  Pain came with man’s sin. Man invited death, pain and struggle into God’s perfect world. (Genesis 3:14-20) But why does pain remain? And if God loves me why must I suffer? 

Think of a little child who brazenly ignores his mother, climbs up on his step stool and promptly places his tiny palm flat on a hot burner. What if there was no pain? Not only would the child not remove his hand from the burner where it would continue to destroy his flesh, but also his pride and embarrassment would keep him from running to his mother. If the child was not forced by his pain to seek out his mother – who would soothe his wound, apply ointment and offer comfort?

God knows that if we don’t experience pain in this broken world, we will ignorantly continue to invite sin and death into our lives, essentially playing Russian roulette until one day, unaware of our self destruction, we will die – forever. If pain and death were not the result of rebellion against God, what would drive us into His arms and restore relationship?

I do not mean to imply that pain and suffering are a direct result of sin in an individual’s life. Even those who love Jesus with all their hearts and have trusted him for salvation, experience pain and eventual death. Now look with me into the heart of Christ’s ministry, right in the middle of the Gospels’ stories.

In John 9, we meet a blind man. Because he had been born blind, the snickers and questions circled as Jesus healed the man. “Who sinned? This man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither this man or his parents sinned, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.” (John 9:3)

God’s glory arrives in the midst of our pain. When HE saves us. When HE comforts us. When HE is enough. When HIS strength is proved perfect.

God’s glory arrived in the midst of Christ’s anguish. When God showed that HE was willing to go to the farthest length to restore man. When God showed that HE loved us enough to walk among us. When God showed that HE was stronger than death.

So maybe we should quit saying that God allows pain to teach us something. Often that causes us to look inward and try to change what surely must be wrong with us. What if pain is simply so that He can show to us and in us the change He has already made: that He conquered death, that He reversed the power of sin from the very first painful experience in the Bible.

Shavat

I’ve been trying to wrap my mind around this word: rest. Funny, in order to comprehend it in all it’s forms, understand it so that I can DO it, I have been cogitating and agitating myself – and oops, did you catch what I said: So I can DO it. 

Have you ever caught yourself wondering how to rest? I’m not a great napper, so as a kid when I was instructed to rest I begged to know what I was allowed to DO. May I color? Read? Listen to music? I’m still that way.

So let’s imagine, me, that little kid with a box of 36 crayons, and a blank piece of paper. For that matter, imagine the adult me with a palette of colors and a blank piece of pottery. You do it to. Begin to create, decorate, personalize. My page or piece would have a background of blue, a spattering of tiny, shapeless flowers and sprigs of green spurting up between the buds, reaching for a endless sky.

And then I screw it up.

You probably do too. It’s because we don’t know when to stop, cease, desist, refrain, conclude, shavat. Shava-what?

As I look at my masterpiece, I keep wondering what is missing. So I add a dot of purple, a few birds, bigger flowers, a house, a puppy, a swing, a kid, a fence – and suddenly my work is crowded, fussy and less-than-beautiful. Apparently more isn’t always more.

Thank God He didn’t have that problem with creation. God knew how to Shavat. On day seven, Sheba, he knew that what was good was complete. Interestingly enough, the Bible doesn’t say that God sat back with a good book, turned around to work on a different piece of art or started leading an angelic choir. The Scripture considers God Rested, as a complete thought, and gives no explanation. 

God rested because He was finished. It was good, and perhaps to continue working would mess it up. Hmmm… (obviously a perfect God wouldn’t mess it up, but for the sake of argument, bear with me)

Jesus died on Friday afternoon, the Jewish 7th day, or Sabbath – Saturday. So, when Jesus cried out, “It is finished,” the sunset and next sunrise were Nature’s exclamation point – COMPLETE, DONE, FINITO, OVER, SIN IS CRUSHED, AND THE WORK OF SALVATION IS FINISHED!

The Sabbath and the Old Testament law are no longer binding on Christians. However, Sabbath, rest, is still good. More importantly, because Jesus finished the work, if we continue to work, thinking we can earn God’s favor, we will mess it up.