Monday, February 27, 2012

The 30 Days is Over.

Well, there were a few factors that confirmed my time was up: too many frozen toes, an air mattress that sprung a leak (and kept leaking even after patches on top of patches), and a simple desire to get back home. Even though I did not get a specific answer from the Lord, I did get a clear strategy with several doors that will be opened or closed within a month or so. I guess that they could be called plan A, B, C, and D (or, if I consider the failed plans from the past year: F, G, H, and I).

I wasn't able to fast as much as I had expected to, and there were fewer opportunities to share my faith than anticipated. Also, I found that working on my art while on the road is not very practical. Lower than normal temperatures and some overcast skies interfered a bit. As I mention in the following video, it will take me a couple of months to finish the triptych. I'll want to finish glazing the icon in a more controlled environment.

My greatest spiritual fulfillment from this part of my life journey is reaching a level of availability and submissiveness to the Lord; the greatest sense of freedom from self that I've had in a long time. To be at peace while hovering in a holding pattern is a new experience for me. Of course, seeing the sights and getting close to the wonder of God's creation is always a great bonus. To God belongs all the glory and praise!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

God's Commands Give Us Authority.

My 30 days in the desert will soon be over. I hope that these blogs have a been a blessing to the few of you who have come along with me on this part of my journey.

Read Joshua 1:6-9. Joshua was given a huge commission! And the Lord knew that it was an impossibility for him to accomplish by his own strength. So, what was the link to God's strength to be able to face his insurmountable task? His Word. In particular, the commands of the scriptures. In our times of struggle we often gravitate toward the promises found in Bible, but in the text we see that obeying the commands also carry a promise. Prosperity and success are guaranteed.

"How about just overcoming my trial?!" Yes, there's promise for that, too. In John 10: 17-18, Jesus made a connection between His authority to lay down and take up His own life to the command that He was given from the father. You see, this is the faith of the Centurion: just say the word and my servant will be healed. The command from a superior gives the one carrying it out the same authority as if the commander were doing it himself. So, when we are commanded to be strong and courageous, we are being given the authority to be exactly that and to carry out the task, just as if God were with us to bring it about Himself. In fact, according to v.9, God IS with us and working to achieve His goal through us!

I tried to edit this video down so that it would fit a time limit...what a butcher job!
The last point that I was trying to make about the color was that when I coat the painted surface with Polycrylic, the intensity of the hues will increase by 50%.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

More on the Project

The art portion of the post got clipped. Even this addition is incomplete. The fire around the horses will be three layers: red, orange, and an accent layer of blue (that just fills in little dips and cracks). The angels will be glazed to look bronze-like. I also filled in the lower and upper sections of the right panel, sprinkled with fabric dye, and inscribed with landscape notations. The few details in those sections will be painted wet on dry.

How are You Dealing with Suffering?

The passage addressed today comes from Romans 5:1-5, and deals with the topic of suffering.
We're admonished to actively engage our suffering. It's natural to become upset or angry when suffering strikes. This can turn to a bitterness toward God and create a barrier to Him. If tolerated, the believer can end up just stoically going through life thinking that they are enduring, while all they are doing is enduring the Holy Spirit! This bitterness needs to be confessed and repented of immediately.

Dealing directly with our suffering requires a degree of discernment. Is our hardship coming from the devil or from God (yes, there are several references throughout the scriptures that convey the fact that God can afflict His children!)? Here are a couple of ways to test those experiences: 1) if there is a sense of condemnation, it's an attack from the devil, and 2) if it's an overwhelming burden of sin, inability, or sense of personal failure, I believe that it comes from God. How we respond makes all of the difference. It's not only a waste to simply enduring the ordeal, but if we slip into a state of self-pity, that is also a sign of the flesh and needs to be STOPPED. The correct way to respond is to cry out to God (or rebuke the enemy in the name of Jesus, if it's determined to be an attack from the devil...I'll share more about doing battle with the powers and principalities in a later post).

thlipsis- suffering, pressure, affliction, distress of mind due to circumstances.
ekxew-(perfect, passive, indicative), "has been poured out", gushed out, greedily poured out.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Do You Hear the Warning Signal?

Spiritually, getting from point A to B is not automatic. And there is no free ride! In fact, the route is anything but linear; passing through trials and dangerous encounters in an often zig-zag fashion. And sometimes the path seems cyclical, taking us through the same challenges again and again! That's why so many are tempted to give up on the whole thing and just camp out for a nap along the side of the path. Many believers are so sound asleep that they don't even hear the warning signal. What is the alarm sounding? "Get prepared!"

That's what I talk about in today's blog. In Matthew 24, Jesus teaches about how the time of His second coming will be like the days of Noah. Aside from observing similar levels of decadency and malaise, what should we be doing? Building your ark! This is just a unique way of addressing the importance of progressive sanctification.

Again, it's not automatic. Entering into that secret place of abiding requires building a relationship with the Holy Spirit. And, using the ark metaphor, out of all the loved ones you would want to have safe in your ark, the Holy Spirit is the necessary passenger! "Wait a minute," you may argue,"I've been sealed with the Holy Spirit. He's already on board!" There is a big difference between being sealed by the Spirit of God and being filled by Him. And the Holy Spirit is only welcome where holy living is practiced.

Take a look at Paul's prayer in Ephesians 3:14-19. V.17 states one of the objectives: that Christ may dwell in your hearts. But Paul was writing to and praying for believers. Wouldn't they already have the Spirit of Christ living in them? Yes, "sealed" by the Spirit (Eph 1:13)...but that's not the same as having Christ dwelling in your heart. Otherwise, Paul would not have made the distinction.

Here's another example from the Book of Psalms. All of the beauty, power, and benefits of Psalm 91 are conditional. Not every believer is going to experience that level of abiding in this lifetime.

So, how does one know if they're making progress with the ark construction? I believe that it's through the hard work of perseverance. Pressing through trials, afflictions, and hardships. Having your heart set on one thing only: to know Christ and to cling to Him for dear life! That's why I think we're supposed to rejoice in our trials (Rm 5:1f)...they're a sign that God is preparing us for the storm ahead. You are being hand picked to be an over-comer. And, according to Hebrews 12, such suffering is a sign of God's loving discipline.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Equestrian Competition at WestWorld

I know very little about horses, but I figured that some of you might be interested in this Quarter Horse competition at WestWorld from a couple of weeks ago. This video gives a glimpse of the two main events: the pole walking course and the handling trail. Note that the rider to the the left takes a letter out of the mail box as part of the trail.

Monday, February 6, 2012

We Have to Keep Seeking and Walking the Narrow Way.

Mathew 7:13-14 talks about the small gate and the narrow road that leads to life, and that only a few find it. And Luke 13:24 says that some who find the gate will not be able to enter it. The "finding" means that there is a searching and I believe that it means searching for gate, the road, and the life. So, what is it that you are looking for? If your goal is not eternal life and you happen to find the small gate, you'll be like the frustrated few mentioned in the verse from Luke.

What I find amazing is that there are Christians who pass through the small gate and then think that's all there is to it. They just camp out on the other side, next to the narrow road, and wait for something to happen. To put it in theological terms, passing through the gate is justification (salvation), walking the path is sanctification (holiness), and reaching life is glorification (eternity in heaven with a new body). These concepts can't be all lumped together, nor can one of them stand alone. To put it bluntly, if we are not walking the path of holiness (specifically progressive sanctification) we won't reach the goal of eternal life (Heb 12:14).

There's no question about it, you're going to encounter trials and affliction. We may be tempted to give up, but I've discovered that simply crying out to God in our trouble and weakness is the very thing for which the Lord is looking (it is kind of "giving up", but giving up the self and surrendering to the Lord). In today's blog I share a word of encouragement for those of us who are going through difficult times right now.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Way is Narrow, the Path is Not Always Smooth.

What I find most dishonest about the prosperity preaching movement is that they dismiss the whole concept of suffering and what the Lord plans to accomplish through it. Just look more closely at the beatitudes and see what it is that will truly make us happy: being poor in spirit, humble, persecuted, etc. Or consider the life of Joseph in the Old Testament. 14 years going down a zig-zag path of dangers, promotions, and failures. All to be brought to that place of God's purpose and God's glory.

The camping that I'm doing in the South West is certainly roughing it, but I'm used to it. Two years ago I finished bicycling 14,000 miles through 29 of the United States and 8 countries in the European Union. I biked through the Appalachians once, and the Rockies and the Alps twice; through dark, rain, snow, blazing heat, and headwinds. But that was primarily "self-inflicted".
These recent months have been more challenging spiritually and that's part of what I want to share with you in today's video.

Oops, I cut the video short by accident. It was just a bit about how new glazing with acrylics is to me.