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Sunday, February 17, 2019

"Love in all sincerity loathing evil and holding fast to the good. Let love of the Christian community show itself in mutual affection. Esteem others more highly than yourself.

With unflagging zeal, aglow in the Spirit, serve the Lord. Let hope keep you joyful; in trouble stand firm; persist in prayer, contribute to the needs of God's people, and practice hospitality. Call down blessings on your persecutors - - blessings, not curses.  Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in agreement with one another. Do not be proud, but be ready to mix with humble people. Do not keep thinking how wise you are." Rom 12:9-16


When I was in grade school my parents paid hard-earned money for me to attend a weekly art class at Mrs. Gilmore's house. The Gilmore's lived on the 'Mountain Road' up past the church and the room where we toiled away had large windows that let in a plethora of sunlight.

Mrs. Gilmore was an Artist, advanced of years and of diminutive posture. Stern but never mean. I remember her hands, her scissors, and lots of color. She taught us art. We worked in every medium, learned all the rules, and when to break them. I loved every minute of it!

I still have most of the art produced over those two or three years. The pages are, somewhat stuck together, in a large portfolio that I pull out and look through about once every ten years. There is maybe one piece in the whole portfolio that I look at and think, "I like this one."

I can't remember what Mrs. Gilmore thought of my attempts at art. But I can tell you with certainty that one word of discouragement never fell from her lips.

I was bitten by the watercolor bug after ordering a couple of kits from Lets Make Art. An afternoon of fun with my mom has turned into a new creative outlet for me. On a whim, I joined the Lets Make Art Facebook group and have discovered that Mrs. Gilmore's spirit lives on. 

The Lord calls us to humility. To esteem others as better than ourselves. This can be a slippery slope sometimes, especially for us women. Some Most of us tend to be overly critical of ourselves. Do guys do this? I've known a few. But as a rule, I think it is women who are most afflicted by this tool in the enemies toolbox. The 'harpies' as my friend Kimberlee calls them.

The challenge, as always, is light or darkness. I can scroll through LMA's FB group and compare my work to what I see there and decide that I will never measure up and therefore never paint again. (Or if I do paint, keep it to myself, hidden away, safe.) Or, I can scroll through looking for inspiration. Being blessed by the encouragement given and received. Filling myself with the light that is offered, allowing God to work through that light and, ultimately, pour out that light into my painting. 

The choice is mine. In everything I do I can, "With unflagging zeal, aglow with the Spirit, serve the Lord."

Or not.

The harpies are gleeful when we reject the gifts God has given us and refuse to use them.
"Let us use the different gifts allotted to each of us by God's grace: the gifts of inspired utterance, for example, let us use in proportion to our faith; the gift of administration to administer, the gift of teaching to teach, the gift of counselling to counsel. If you give to charity, give without grudging; if you are a leader, lead with enthusiasm; if you help others in distress, do it cheerfully." Rom 12:6-8
Yes, it's true. Watercolor painting is not listed here as a gift of the Spirit! But consider this: the Greek word parakaleō, translated here as counseling is translated elsewhere as exhort or encourage. How often are you blessed or encouraged by the creativity of others? Whether it be a photograph, a paragraph, or a painting? 

I am. Every.single.day.

Painting is silent poetry, and poetry is painting that speaks. ~ Plutarch

And what we say matters.


PS After writing this I learned that LMA truly does have a heart for encouragement. You can learn about how they're encouraging others here:  Let's Make Art: Matter

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Inspired by . . . Good King Josiah

Note: this was supposed to be Friday's daily devotional on IG but it was too long. So before I get to Saturday's chores, I'm offering it to you here.


2 Chronicles is a bit like watching a tennis match as we go back and forth between Judah's kings who alternately did either evil or good in the eyes of the Lord. Mostly evil.

Near the end, shortly before the Babylonian invasion, we read about a boy, Josiah , who did wonderful things. He followed the law of the Lord, following in the footsteps of his forefather David, never deviating to the right or the left. Under him, the entire nation observed the Passover. Something that hadn't been done since the days of the prophet Samuel.

Then, abruptly in chapter thirty-five, we find Josiah sallying out to join a battle he has no business joining.
Necho sent envoys, saying, 'King of Judah, what do you want with me? I have no quarrel with you today, only with those with who I am at war. God has purpose to speed me on my way, and God is on my side. Do not stand in His way, or He will destroy you.' Josiah would not be deflected from his purpose but determine to fight; he refused to listen to Necho's words spoken at God's command, and he sallied out to join battle in the vale of Megiddo. (2 Chr 35:20-22)
The next verse tells us the King Josiah was shot by archers and died. Such a sad end for a king who followed God's law and led the people in righteousness. You wonder how history might have been different if Josiah had listened this last time to God's word.

So why didn't he? This king who "deviated neither to the right or the left." We can't know for sure but I think two little words give us a clue: his purpose. Josiah would not be deflected from "his purpose." He was doing what he wanted, or what he believed to be right, rather than listening and seeking God's word in the matter.

It's the piety trap. We do some good and big things for the Lord and start believing we're good and wise and just . . . just like God. But the truth is, we don't have a great track record when it comes to operating on our own, in the flesh. The enemy will trip us up every time.
I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. (Joh 15:5)
Abiding with Jesus. Reading His word and remaining in fellowship with Him through daily prayer is the only way to really be wise, and good, and just. And to ensure that His purpose, becomes our purpose.


PS I had my first experience in a bird blind last weekend - I can't wait to share it with you!