Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Clearing Storm Jackson Lake Wyoming

A taste of heaven on earth. Photos of the most beautiful landscapes on earth speak to the souls of men... a transcendent beauty that seems to haunt our hearts is captured or felt for a moment. Even better is seeing such vistas in person, but still they are fleeting minutes of exquisite yet bittersweet peace. We can't will the beautiful scene and moment to engulf us... but this is what I believe is meant by the words of scripture, 'He sets eternity in our hearts'. Here is part of the passage, in context...

Ecclesiastes 3: 10 I have seen the burden God has laid on men. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. 12 I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live. 13 That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil—this is the gift of God. 14 I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that men will revere him.

Ecclesiastes 3 is a beautiful, bittersweet passage... read it and see.  Do you think the writer of Ecclesiastes is right?  Is this all there is?  Do you long for more... what awaits us in eternity?  The Bible has much more to say.  ;o)

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Warren plays the pied piper to Piper

This is a follow up on my Purpose Driven post down below 'Is God Purpose Driven?'.  It's currently making the 'rounds' that John Piper has invited Rick Warren to speak at his upcoming Desiring God conference. Piper met Warren at a funeral and striking up a conversation, found him very likable.  Piper asked Warren some very direct questions about his pragmatic methods (which Piper is against) and was bowled over by Warren's responses.  I first read about this disturbing development on Lighthouse Trails newsletter.  Yesterday while researching something else I came across a new post from blogger and friend of John MacArthur, Phil Johnson where he discusses the fallout from Piper's announcement and his own balanced thoughts on the matter.  It's a very well written post that I agree with whole heartedly.  You can read it here:

I also highly recommend clicking on the links Johnson provides at the end of his post, particularly the response from Chris Rosebrough, which is an audio file. (Listen to the first half of his Pirate Radio broadcast) These men offer valid and discerning insight into Rick Warren's ability to 'read' his audience and say whatever he needs to disarm any mistrust you might have toward him.  I believe that our brother, an amazing Pastor and teacher, John Piper would do well to heed their words.  He has been played by Warren in my opinion.  I will be praying that God turns the tables on Warren and he is exposed, and hopefully he will repent and begin to declare the true biblical gospel and stand for Christianity that honors God's word.  

Another resource I came across from Rosebrough describes the tactics that are employed by Purpose Driven methodologies in Churches undergoing PD transitioning.  How eerie to see the exact list of maneuvers we experienced 3 years ago when our Church was merged with a Purpose Driven group in the same denomination.  I always believed in my heart that the entire experience was planned in advance much like when businesses engage in a 'hostile takeover'.  

Here is an excerpt from Rosebrough's blog, followed by a link where you can read (or listen as it were) the whole thing.

Exposing The Cult-Like Hostile Takeover Tactics of the Purpose-Driven Church Transitioning Seminar

Below is a Special Edition of the Fighting for the Faith radio program that exposes the Cult-Like Hostile Takeover Tactics of Dan Southerland's Purpose-Driven Church Transtioning Seminar. The list of cult-like tactics employed by Southerland is LONG. They include:
1. Flat out lies and manipulative double speak
2. Blatant Scripture Twisting
3. New & Direct Extra Biblical Revelation and Visions from God
4. Flat out intolerance for anyone who questions or challenges these "new" Extra Biblical Revelations and Visions that are supposedly from God.
All of these cult-like tactics are exposed and discussed in this special edition of F4F. Furthermore, I cannot emphasize enough the fact that Dan Southerland's Church Transitions company has been the "go to" company used by Rick Warren's Purpose-Driven businesses to train pastors into Warren's Druckerite leadership methodologies.

Me again...  If anyone would like to hear how those 4 tactics were specifically fulfilled in the situation we encountered back in 2007, I'd be happy to write them up.  Let me know in a comment.  (Sadly we recently left a Church when, at the end of a long Pastoral search, the gentleman chosen as Pastor seemed to follow a mixture of vision and methodologies fairly similar to PD.  For us the deciding issue was his treatment of scripture.)  It is grievous to my heart that many Christians may be getting side tracked onto a man-made, though well meaning perhaps, agenda with a mixture of truth and error.  May the Lord protect His people from false or simply misguided Shepherds which seem to be more in number in America than those faithful to teach and apply scripture.

Friday, April 9, 2010

I love tea-cups and coffee mugs and blogs about the same!

I also love art blogs... today one of my favorite art blogs 'Greetings from Kimberly Shaw'  (  she paints GORGEOUS tea cup cards and gifts) posted about a give-away at another blog, so I'm passing on the opportunity, and a gorgeous blog all about Transfer Ware.  Nancy's Daily Dish... check it out!  She often includes amazing recipes and her table decor design is exquisite!  Enjoy.  ;o)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Nature Journaling

Last fall I embarked on a goal of keeping a more formal Nature Journal ala 'The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady' (google it) Mine, being done in a small moleskine on watercolor paper, is nowhere near as lovely.  I am having fun with it, but I am ever struggling to actually be sketching the pages concurrently within the actual month it is. For example, it's April and I'm still not finished with February. In the words of Pooh...'Oh bother!' are some of the pages thus far.  (click on them to view in large, these small shots lack the detail of the actual pages)  This leaf was originally in my travel sketchbook (a more informal project) but that journal was mostly ruined by a ruptured water bottle in my trunk, I salvaged this page and pasted in the front of the moleskin, since I drew it in October while at a womens retreat near Williams Arizona.  The photo below was taken before the deluge, and is from the previous sketchbook.

 I am always mad at myself for being too lazy to produce nicer handwriting... I am capable of it, I just am in a hurry by the time I get to the journaling.
This bird, was very fun to discover.  On a morning hike I saw this bird behaving very oddly.  Based on it's size and coloring I first thought it a Mockingbird, but then realized it was not.  I took lots of photos of it's funny behavior.  It was jumping to and fro, fanning it's feathers in a menacing way, all around some fallen saguaro bones (that's a cactus, it has 'skeleton' when all the cactus flesh erodes).  I think it was trying to spook some small critter out from it's safe hiding spot.  I later learned that this amazing little bird breaks the neck of it's prey, paralyzing it, then impales it on a sharp stick and eats it alive.  Nature is so blunt!
In December we finally began to see some fall color upon the trees (trees that don't naturally belong in the Sonoran desert!).
I also learned about another new (to me) bird, the ladderbacked woodpecker.

On Christmas day we had a large covey of Gambels quail file through the front yard.  ;o)
January's pages...
 scenes from the snow covered paths at the Grand Canyon...
Various birds at my backyard feeder...
In February I finally spotted some nearly 'barren' winter trees...
I also shot lots of photos of, then later painted the water fowl at Discovery Park...
and that's where I'm currently at in the journal.  So behind!  I need to finish February and March, so I can begin April.  Oh well... it is a fun hobby and forces me to at least do some small artwork.  I'm really just teaching myself water color. Previously I mostly worked in acrylics, or just plain pencil or ink.  (the quail is colored pencil and some of the grand canyon, it's a mixed media sketch)  Hope you enjoyed!

The Problem with Mirrors.

On today’s Renewing Your Mind broadcast R.C. Sproul tells the story of when he joined weight watchers. Drinking straws were passed out to the new members as a symbol of the ‘straw that broke the camels back’. They were asked to share what that ‘straw’ was that finally led to coming to the class. R.C shared the following… “it was the fact that I got tired of averting my eyes from the glass in front of stores as I would walk past and I could see the reflection of my stomach in the glass. I got so tired of seeing that! And of artificially sucking in my stomach because of what I was seeing in the glass! The point is, I found that I didn’t even want to look in the mirror, because I didn’t like what I saw.”

This radio message is about God’s word being like a mirror, R.C. goes on to say the following; “I wonder if that’s why we avoid the law of God, because we don’t want to look in that mirror. But we need to look into the mirror, because what we see in the mirror drives us to the gospel, alerts us to our desperate need for the gospel. The mirror of the law of God, beloved, is bad news and until we look in it we’ll never understand the goodness of the good news.”

The world seeks to suppress your conscience, to avoid the pesky ‘straw that breaks the camels back’. I believe that Churches that follow the method of soft sermons, which try to avoid the more confrontational (illuminating) points of scripture, that try to make the listener comfortable and happy, offends God and assists people along their pathway toward a godless eternity.

If you attend such a Church, you might want to start supplementing your listening habits with some more substantial & biblical truth. Some people prefer blissful ignorance, but trust me that is just a temporary state with a bad outcome. A few good places to start:

Friday, April 2, 2010

split second depression

I awoke today with a determination to focus on the single most significant action in the course of history. Today is Good Friday, the day on which Christians remember the betrayal and brutal death of Jesus the Messiah. For most of the day I have been full of fresh thankfulness and awareness of the somber events that transpired some 2000 plus years ago to make possible my deliverance from condemnation, slavery, and un-belonging.

This afternoon, in a split second an odd coincidence has averted my attention, my heart, my resolve and plunged me into the depth of depression, so I sit here pondering and writing hoping to purge the spell. I needed to pick up an item or two at Costco, and then remembered I needed to get dog food from the Pet store. I usually shop at the Petco nearest our house...but since I was at Costco in Tempe...PetSmart is right here, I remembered.

I went in and found the required brand, tossed the giant bag into my cart, rolled to the end of that aisle to turn around and head back to the register. I glanced up at the Veterinary portion of the store and suddenly flashed back to the day we brought our beloved Yellow Lab, Chester, to this very clinic to be 'put down'. The clinic looks exactly the same, even though the rest of the store has been remodeled. I've been in this PetSmart plenty of times since that day (12 years ago!), never once recalling 'that day'. Our whole family went together to be with Chester and say goodbye. We all cried and were miserable, Chester our beloved pet was the proverbial lamb brought to be softly slaughtered. He'd been battling bone cancer for months and had finally had reached the point we all realized that he was suffering much more than he was enjoying life. All the feelings from that day rushed at me as if it were yesterday. I was crying before I reached the car... recalling how Chester needed to stop at the curb and rest, I was passing that curb again, just then. By the time I was pulling out onto Elliot I was bawling. Not just for Chester but for the waves of grief and loss that this one memory had unleashed from wherever I had conveniently kept them at bay. The loss of Ron's mom, The absence of Jared these years he's been in Portland, Jesse's loss of several good friends after the betrayal of one fickle, deceptive girl (whom I'd still like to punch in the face) and most freshly the losing of our Church home and relationships.

I'm hurt, I'm angry, I'm feeling like our family meant nothing to the Church leaders & members we tried to bond with in the past 2 years. That the principles that brought us there in the first place, were abandoned in some strange dysfunction of their own pain and history. I feel like my dog, Chester, only my 'family' let me out the door and moved on to new exciting (imaginary?) folks who they can train to bow to the 'new vision' and so not be bothered a moment longer with our concerns or care about our past contributions. I don't think my feelings are rooted in pure truth, but it's how I feel right now. 'Thanks for the thousands of dollars and your service, but now you have 'issues', good riddance'. Were any of those folks really in 'relationship' with us? Or was it only as long as it served their goals, or met their needs. Not a single man ever reached out consistently to form a relationship with my husband, and barely with my son. This played a huge role in their ability to leave. I feel used and quickly forgotten. We knew this was a struggling group of brethren, so perhaps we should not have expected something different. Their own reserves have been taxed beyond measure, I know, but there's something that my parents ingrained in me....'do the right thing, give honor where honor's due, no matter if you feel like it. Do the right thing! Afterward, you can take a long bath and lick your wounds!' And I always think other people have that same sense of responsibility ingrained in them...but they don't. Life has proven that to me over and over. And so, I am disappointed, hurt and angry. Oh Lord, I am wretched and I know it but have no hope at this moment that there is a Church in Arizona that we will be able to call home, for the long haul. Sometimes I wonder if it's better to be ignorant of what God's word declares Church is to be, then we could be oblivious and happy and belong, in some pseudo not quite biblical church somewhere.

Jesus was used, by Judas, by the Pharisees, by the mobs of sign seekers, even by his own disciples in a sense (they hoped for power and thrones, before they fully understood) but ultimately for God's purpose of reconciliation. God's cause is all that matters. I know this is true, but at the moment I am so alone and depressed... no church home at which to go and reflect tonight on our great God's excessively costly act of mercy. And I feel devoid of mercy and full of bitter gall, at the same time I adore my King, I 'hate' my brothers and know that this is in opposition to God's desire and command. I long for fellowship, and I truly believe that our expectations are not unrealistic. For we have experienced that blessed sense of family before with imperfect people and there was grace and humility....but always something has blown it apart... people moving on to new jobs and locales, people who lose their faith, denominations who don't govern and make  biblical decisions have destroyed many a solid little church, two such cases, we know first hand.

I rant, I rant... with no resolution in sight. Come quickly Lord Jesus.... I wonder too, if when You return, You will find 'faith' at all?

My prayer... LORD Jesus, raised in power, resurrected in satisfied accomplishment, building Your Father's Kingdom, I long for the power of Your resurrection to be fully applied to your people, to me. Have mercy on me Lord God, restore my broken soul that I might be part of Your work on this wretched, fallen, confused Creation, planet earth. Teach me to forgive, forget and still love as You do. Help me to go on from where I am. I am so far from where I know I should be. You are my only hope. Amen.

I wait at Your tomb.