Seeking the Master

And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. Hebrews 11:6 (ESV)

Vincent Van Gogh’s “The Starry Night over the Rhone”.

On my recent trip to France, I had the pleasure of visiting several museums.  One that I enjoyed a great deal was the Musee D’Orsay. Musee D’Orsay was more contemporary than the Louvre or others.  It had a vast array of artwork from amazing sculptures, such as Rodin’s “Gates of Hell” and notable paintings such as Whistler’s “ Mother”.  Part of the museum’s exhibits was Vincent Van Gogh’s “The Starry Night over the Rhone”.  This painting is one of a series in his nocturnal paintings, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to see it.  

My daughter and I took the stairs to the top floor and using our museum map found our way to the room that housed part of Van Gogh’s collection.  It was easy to find the piece because it was surrounded by people trying to get a photo. I entered the group and as the people peeled off I made my way to the front of the line. Just as I had a clear view I snapped a couple of pictures.  Just as I did so, a man in his early 30’s walked past the group, stepped in front of me and the others that had been waiting and began to examine the painting closely. Starting in the leftmost corner, he leaned close, only inches from the oil canvas.  People began to grumble, and asked him to move, he ignored everyone. The protest became louder and people began to tap his shoulder, he continued his examination. Finally, satisfied, he strolled away and found another painting.  

Later as I sat looking out of the hotel window at the stars on the night’s canvas, I thought about that man.  I wondered if maybe his approach to the painting was really the way it should be done. Just like the other museum guest, I too was more focused on getting the right photo.  Yet, this man did not attempt to photograph any of the artwork as far as I could see, instead, he made sure he spent time with the art. This man did not want a snapshot of the artist’s handiwork, instead, he wanted to take time to seek what message and intent the artist was trying to convey.   

We should be doing the same, seeking God by taking the time to truly study His Word, seek Him through prayer and demonstrate His love to one another. Christianity is not an image to be displayed but rather a life to be lived. Do you take time to seek the Master and His message for you?

Typist for Jesus

Chaotic Beauty

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. John 14:27 ESV

I wasn’t sure what to expect as I passed through the doorway into a darkened room.  The walls were black and blank. In the center was a cylinder, I passed through it as I explored the dimly lit warehouse space.  Large wooden spools were spaced throughout, my daughter and I found one and waited. As we waited more people began to filter through the door, some like us found seats some milled around. Time passed and the room and mezzanine filled with people.  The lights dimmed and darkness crowded around us. Silence hung motionless as we all waited. Then a blast of music gave me a jolt and brilliant light exploded on the walls. Before me, Vincent Van Gogh’s masterpieces were built and tore down to the music.  The music, like Van Gogh’s work was chaos, a collection of different genres, rock to classical meshed with images of his paintings. Oceans morphed to wheat fields and sun flowers bled into the starry night.

Van Gogh has always been my favorite artist.  He is my favorite because he takes chaos of colors and frenzied brushstrokes and creates beauty. 

Many years ago, my life was chaos, a roller coaster of emotions, disappointments and depression.  However, once I stopped fighting it and relinquished it to Jesus, the chaos that made me feel like I was orbiting earth without a tether, slowed.  Jesus reached into the chaos of my life and it made it beautiful. That is what Jesus does once you give him control, he takes the crazy, the depression, the pain, the fear, anxiety, worry, guilt and shame and he makes it beautiful. That chaos is now a tapestry of beauty.

He can make your chaos beautiful.

Typist for Jesus

Play the Best Game in You

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. James 1:12

I have never been one for sports.  However, this evening, my friend excitedly shared that Tennessee had won, but more than that, she explained how the player responsible for securing the win was not the likely candidate to have done so.

I will not pretend to know the details or try to deliver commentary of the game, but the story of the benched player turned hero piqued my interest.  Benched for not playing very well a couple of weeks ago, the starting quarterback was replaced with a freshman. Unfortunately, the freshman sustained a concussion and was unable to finish.  This meant the benched quarterback was getting another chance, and he used it to bring home the win.

This quarterback could have just given up, gotten an attitude, or allowed bitterness to well up within his heart. Instead, he got off the bench, and he went to the field, and he played the best game he had in him. 

We all make mistakes, miss the mark sometimes, and at one time or another, find ourselves benched.  How we come off that bench is the real measure of who we are.  

You will face trials in your life, and you will not always win the first time, or maybe not the second either.  However, the key is to never give up, no matter what you may face. Do not allow past mistakes or sins to keep you sidelined.  When you are called off the bench and to the field, play the best game you have in you!

Typist for Jesus

Outward Appearance

The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus. 15 He said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of others, but God knows your hearts. What people value highly is detestable in God’s sight. Luke 16:14-15

Chambord Chateau

As I walked down the gravel path, the roof of Chambord castle peaked above the trees. As I continued, it rose majestically stretching heavenward, the spires piercing the blue sky of Loire Valley. I stopped at the avenue and marveled at the 500-year-old chateau surrounded by manicured gardens and cobbled walkways. All the books and documentaries had not done justice to Chambord’s beauty. I entered the castle doors and into the foyer. Ahead of me, the heart of the chateau loomed DiVinci’s double helix staircase. I climbed the spiral stairs to the roof. Strolling through the spired towers, I marveled at the stonework, the detail, and beauty. The wind whipped my hair as my eyes scanned over the treetops across the acres of land that rolled out before me. Chambord certainly delivered on beauty and wonder. 

 As I descended the staircase, I took in each landing as I went — great empty galleries on each floor, illuminated by grand windows. Cold stone floors echoed the steps of other tourists as carved faces of wild beast watched them mill about. This magnificent chateau, with all its grandeur, was an empty shell. Never fully furnished, or inhabited, this chateau was never a home, only a part-time residence for royals. 

On my bus ride back to Paris, I thought about the empty chateau. All the external beauty, the intricate design, and gardens, yet there was nothing within — an empty stone shell. 

It is not just grand chateaus that display beauty, wealth, and project power, but many of us do it too. Often we spend time worrying about what our outside looks like to others and neglect our inside. Men may be making the judgment of the outside, but God sees the inside of a man. He looks at the heart, our motives, and our love for one another. Spend more time on the inside. Once the inside is right, it will shine on the outside. 

Typist for Jesus

Chambord

Where is Your Heart

King Tutankhamen
King Tutankhamen
“King Tut”

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21

I stood before the broken and worn statue of King Tutankhamen. There was not much left of the artifact, a remnant of colorful paint clung to the sandstone, his eyes dark and piercing looked out over the excited crowd. Cameras clicked, and people murmured as I slowly circled the effigy. This was a moment I had only dreamed and never believed that I would realize. But here I was, amid relics over 3,000 years old. Amazing sculptures, gold, jewelry, and carvings all for the Egyptian king to take with him beyond this world. It was apparent that great care was taken to ensure the boy king would have all required as he passed from this realm to the next.  His tomb was decorated with scenes from life, instructions to overcome the obstacles he had to face as he journeyed through the underworld. The chambers in the tomb were filled with food, household goods, and items the king would need for his new life. All possibilities were thought of, and the tomb was filled to brimming with treasures. All that preparation, all those golden treasures and that care, yet the king left this world and could take none of it.

Unlike Tutankhamen, we have a hope that is not rooted in riches and deeds but in faith.  We do not have to concern ourselves with material goods or if our needs will be met in the next world.  Through Christ Jesus, we know that our debts are paid and our future is Heaven. Jesus tells us in the book of Matthew, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in Heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” 

If we are focused on earthly treasures and comforts, then that is where our hope will lie. King Tut’s hope of a future was the riches that filled his final resting place. Your hope is in Christ.

Typist for Jesus

Walking Through Manna

When the dew was gone, thin flakes like frost on the ground appeared on the desert floor.  When the Israelites saw it, they said to each other, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was.  Moses said to them, “It is the bread the Lord has given you to eat. Exodus 16:14-15

Have you ever prayed and over time began to wonder if you will be answered? Maybe you have been praying for days or even weeks. Perhaps you have been praying for years.  

I wonder how many answers to prayers I have missed because I was anticipating an answer that conformed to my notion of how it should be answered?

When Moses and the Israelites were in the wilderness, the people had many complaints. One complaint was that God had removed them from Egypt and their fires, where they had lots of meat and bread to sate them. After 400 hundred years of praying and anticipating freedom from captivity and slavery, they were upset with how they had been released. Somehow the grumbling of their bellies canceled out that the prayer had been answered. They were free. However, all they did was complain and whine because of the hardships they faced.  

As I was studying this week, I found myself reading the Exodus story. The Israelites named this substance, described to resemble coriander seed, manna. Manna means, “what is it?”. I can imagine the Israelites strolling through the manna. They are looking up in the trees all around the camp for the promised bread. All the while, they are walking all through the answer to their request. Manna was not the loaves of bread they had expected. Instead, the tiny seed-like substance had to be gathered, ground and made into a porridge or cakes. God provided the element they needed to prepare bread.

Often, the answer to prayer is not the baked, sliced, and packaged product we think it should be. Sometimes, it is the pieces you need to achieve the request. If God did everything for us, what would we learn? Without a doubt, God could have left loaves of bread outside every tent but in the end, what would it have accomplished? Just like children with parents that indulge and spoil, the Israelites would not have respected, obeyed, and loved God. We are the same. Sometimes the answer is not packaged, it is the needed ingredients.

Are you missing the answers to prayers because you are trying to identify them in the way you think it should be answered? Are you walking all over your manna?

In Isaiah 55:8, we are told,“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.  

We cannot anticipate what form the answer will be by relying on our own thoughts, but we must pray for discernment and grace to recognize the answer when it is given. 

Typist for Jesus