September 29, 2014

Nature's Sketchbook

I was cleaning out some of my cupboards the other day and came across this book that I hadn't looked at in years. So I decided to sit down and have a read through.

What a delightful book!

Filled with the art of Marjolein Bastin of Holland, and her insights and experiences from the nature she paints.

I love this kind of art, so full of color and life. So much detail you can look at one painting for hours and enjoy all it has in store for you. : )

I thought I'd share a few paintings and insights Marjolein shares throughout the book.

Strawberries are my favorite summer fruit! Here she paints some in a new basket.

She writes:

"The spiders and beetles loved 
my old basket... it was perfect
For playing hide-and-seek.
To them, 'old is beautiful,'
but I must advert that
as a flower basket,
it had become pretty rickety.

But here is my new one...
and I'll try this time not to leave it
out in the rain!"

Here she writes some interesting facts about these butterflies and violets:

butterfly has made
his life very difficult:
his tiny caterpillars
will not eat anything other than these violets.
And when they are not
there anymore,
the butterfly
will vanish, too."

I love making bouquet's of flowers. It's always fun to create something new each time.

Here she writes about painting this lovely bouquet:

"This beautiful bouquet
inspires me to paint with
such enthusiasm that there
is hardly enough room left for my words!

Just imagine this
in a jam jar on the table...
how opulent!

Bluebells here are protected, so you're not allowed to pick them.
That's way drawing is so nice - I can always sit among
the bluebells with my brushes and enjoy
their natural beauty."

Though this isn't a book of faith, I found God's creation bursts forth on every page. He truly makes beautiful, intricate things for us to enjoy.

Here are a few of her paintings that aren't from this particular book, but as a gardener who loves flowers, I had to share!

I'm not sure if this book is still in print but here is Marjolein's website where you can explore all her gorgeous creations... Marjolein Bastin's Website

September 26, 2014

God is My Rock

Friday's Thought:

Today I thought I'd share one of my favorite verses that the Lord always encourages me with. : )

"He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense;
I shall not be moved.

In God is my salvation and my glory;
The rock of my strength,
And my refuge, is in God.

Trust in Him at all times, you people;
Pour out your heart before Him;
God is a refuge for us."

Psalm 62:6-8 

And that Rock this Psalm talks of, is Christ...

"Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea,

all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea,

all ate the same spiritual food,

and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ."

1 Corinthians 10:1-4 

September 23, 2014

Introverts in the Church

I have to say I was a little disappointed in this book.
And I struggled with the decision on whether or not I should write about it.
Back in July I included this book on my '5 books on my future reading list' post and it got a great response.

There's a lot of us introverts out there. : )

So I've decided to share a few of my thoughts and concerns.

By the title of this book, I was lead to believe it would be mostly about introverts in the church. When in actuality it was more about being an introverted pastor or leader in the church. Since I'm neither, these parts didn't speak to me. (which was 2/3 of the book) Though he did make some great points for those who are.

What also disappointed me in these latter chapters, was the overall feeling that introverts need to be dealt with by pastors and leaders in the church. (Ex. have spiritual classes just for them) This is exactly what we don't be singled out. As an introvert this made me sad. This is the one thing about being an introvert, that has been the most painful in my life...

Being misunderstood.

Having others put words in my mouth before I could gather my thoughts and share them, and therefore being judged by their misunderstandings.

Introverts just want to be treated as fellow human beings with a brain that works differently than extroverts, and respected that our lives are lived in a quieter way. We don't need to be dealt with or have 'special' classes.

The book 'Quiet'  by Susan Cain, was much more sensitive to this and I recommend it over this particular book in understanding the mind of an introvert. You can read my thoughts on it HERE

Also, I recently read this blog post by Holly Gerth, which was spot on and very encouraging. Here's the link: 7 ways you can love an introvert

There were also several things that made me uncomfortable reading this book. I felt the author stereo-typed introverts into a certain type of spirituality. 

One of these was contemplative spirituality or apophatic spirituality, also referred to as via negativa (the negative way). A practice of emptying your mind through speaking repetitive words.

The author says it's:

" seek to move beyond our senses."

And here he quotes Otto Kroeger and Roy Oswald:

"In this prayer form, we move in silence to quiet the mind and focus on a sacred word or phrase. Apophatic prayer tries to rid the mind of all images and forms so as to be open to encounter directly the Mysterious One. It is the desire of the mediator to listen to God, rather than talk to God."

*Before I continue, I want to make it clear this type of practice described above, by this author, is very different then the Biblical practice of meditating on the Lord and his Word.

'My eyes are awake through the night watches,
That I may meditate on Your word.' Psalm 119:148

Does this verse not suggest that we be conscious while meditating on His Word?

Many things disturb me about this kind of contemplative prayer practice. Firstly, I believe that if God wants us to hear Him speak, we will  hear Him speak. Whether we are in a place of darkness and far from God, like Saul of Taurus was, or whether we are in close communion with Him, like Daniel was.

God is in control of who will hear Him, not us.

We can not manipulate God into speaking to us through any kind of practice.

As a Christian I believe in being still before God, being quiet, but this is not the same thing. In the stillness and quiet time with the Lord we sit in His presences and rest. We meditate on Him and His Word.

Shouldn't we rather rest in Him and wait for His time and place to speak? And doesn't He have our best interest at heart to speak to us in His perfect time? And does He not speak already to us through His living Word?

I love that when I'm troubled, I can rest in Him. When I am stressed, I can rest in Him, When I am overwhelmed, I can rest in Him.

'Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him' Psalm 37:7

I recently read a book called 'Jesus > Religion' by Jefferson Bethke, (I'll be sharing about it soon), and this quote encouraged me so much while writing up this post.

"Religion is man searching for God, Jesus is God searching for man."

You don't' have to empty your mind to find God, He has already come! He has already spoken! And He wants a relationship with you. Just rest and wait on Him.

'Wait on the LORD;
Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the LORD!'  Psalm 27:14

(If you need encouragement and understanding in resting in God, I highly recommend 'The True Vine' by Andrew Murray, which is a deeper study into John chapter 15)

What troubles me the most about this kind of prayer is that you do not need Christ as mediator. You can be a Buddhist, a Hindu or a New Ager. No belief in Christ is required to practice it.

But the Bible teaches otherwise:

"...there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time." 1 Timothy 2:5

We need a mediator, and it's not us, it's Jesus.

I thought I'd leave you with a passage from John Piper's book 'Finally Alive.'

He's first talking about how we are saved through hearing the word and then continues about how mantra's (A practice of emptying your mind through speaking repetitive words) don't work.

"...'hearing with faith' is what happens when we are 'born again through the living and abiding word of God.' The gospel - the news about Jesus Christ - is preached, we hear it, and through it we are born again. Faith is brought into being. 'Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth' (James 1:18).

This truth, this living and abiding word, this gospel, is not a mantra. 

And it doesn't work like a mantra. It doesn't work through the repetition of sacred sounds. It works because it is the intelligible truth about what really happened when Jesus died and rose again, and because God means for his Son to be glorified by our knowing and believing who his Son really is and what he really did to save sinners.

What we learn from 1 Peter 1:23 is that the whole worldview supporting the mantra is misguided and mistaken.

"having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever, 


“All flesh is as grass,
And all
the glory of man as the flower of the grass.
The grass withers,
And its flower falls away, 

But the word of the LORD endures forever.”
Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you."                                                                                             1 Peter 1:23

It (the mantra) isn't rooted in history.

It isn't rooted in Jesus Christ. 

It isn't rooted in the intelligibility of historical narrative. 

It isn't rooted in  the responsibility of the human mind to construe meaning from the preaching of Christ. 

It isn't rooted in the duty of the soul to see and believe the gospel of Christ crucified and risen."

I want to be rooted in Jesus Christ. How about you? : )

September 19, 2014

Choosing Books...

 Friday's Thought:

"We should always choose our books as God chooses our friends, just a bit beyond us, so that we have to do our level best to keep up with them." 
                                                                                  Oswald Chambers

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