Friday, March 18, 2011

God's Work of Art

Fjord in Alaska - The Warming House

Mountain View

A mountain view can literally take your breath away. Getting a clearer view of God can do the same. Here at the Warming House, you’ll find truth that will help you know and understand who God is and how He feels about you. What you find here may cause you to live your life a little differently.





Hello friends! Before I share with you today, I want to say that our family has been watching the events unfolding in Japan. We are very sorry for the tragedy you have suffered and pray for those of you who have been affected by the destruction there. We have a God who walks with us through every trial and who always succeeds in bringing some good out of the bad. In the process, He demonstrates Himself to us so be watching for Him as you progress through this time. As my friend, Will Wyatt says, "The truest thing about God is what He says about Himself in the Bible." As you deal with hardship, stay focused on what He says about Himself there. Know that God cares about your struggle and so do I. Please send me an email to thewarminghouse@gmail.com if you have any specific prayer requests.


"When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will  not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior." Isaiah 43:2-3a

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Last fall, I went on a long hike with a friend of mine. We began to talk about her paintings and she told me there had been one painting in particular that she had not been able to sell to interested buyers. With tenderness in her voice she explained the reason why. She didn’t think anyone would ever be able to love it as much as she does. I replied, “That makes sense. You’re the creator. You have lovingly shaped it. No one can love it like you do.”


Then it hit me. The same is true of God. Genesis 1:27 tells us that God made man in His own image.  No one can love us like He does because He is our creator and we are His creation. We are His works of art and unique expressions of His heart.

There is always more tweaking that can be done to any work of art whether it’s my friend’s paintings or my writing. The work is rarely truly finished or complete. It always feels as though there’s more that can be done to bring it to perfection so we lovingly view the work and make changes here and there to bring out more beauty . . . to make it express the creator’s heart more accurately.

Again, it is the same with God. Because of His love for us, He takes great time with us. We are incomplete without his touch. He sees our value and potential, and never gives up on us. His goal is to perfect us - to mold us into the image of His Son. Just as a work of art is helpless to paint itself, we are helpless to make ourselves complete without God's creative hand.

“. . . he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6


There is a painting in my home that reminds me of this very thing. It’s an incomplete painting my grandfather was working on when he died of cancer. The upper half of the canvas is alive with muted colors of green, brown, and light blue. The train station in Joliet, Illinois stands to the right under a sky of billowing clouds. The tracks in front of the building form an “X” where the Santa Fe crosses the Rock Island line. Devoid of color, the bottom half of the painting is sketched in pencil only. The ghostly outline of a man trudges along the tracks, the weight of his years apparent as he walks in a stooped position leaning heavily on his cane. His other hand clutches a rectangular bag holding his life’s possessions.



My grandfather had a deep affection for the railroad. This piece of artwork was certainly a labor of love. Despite his illness, he invested himself in it until his final days. He had titled it, "Near the End of the Line". Incomplete and unfinished, every time I see it I am reminded of the fact that God isn't finished with me yet. With infinite patience, He sees the changes that are necessary in my life. His intimate brush strokes lovingly shape the contours of my character into the image of His Son. (Romans 8:28)

When I first became a Christian, I didn't see beyond the initial "transaction" of getting my ticket to heaven. In the years that followed I lived life apart from God, looking for significance, love and security in all the wrong places. The things I received from the world were just a cheap imitation of what God desires for me. There was so much more and I was missing it altogether. God wanted to be a part of my daily life, walking through each day in relationship with me. He wanted to progressively place His nature/character within me. He waited patiently for me to recognize this and when I did the great adventure of my life truly began. Following His lead and living for Him hasn't been easy. There have been many struggles, suffering, and even persecution, but He has been right in the middle of it all. The reward has been His presence - even though I sometimes doubted it. He has given me strength and helped me to persevere through the hardships that have confronted me. He has taught me about Himself, and is deepening my faith - even when I'm angry with Him or don't understand what He's doing. With the mistakes and terrible choices I have made in my life, it was (and still is) astounding to believe that He would want to invest Himself in me in this way. The sacrificial investment He makes in each of us proves that He is truly a God who loves and cherishes those He has created.


What about you? Have you considered the fact when you "accepted Christ" it was intended to be the beginning of a journey? Have you realized that God wants to invest Himself in your development? Trust me, it doesn’t matter what you’ve done in the past. Abortions, affairs, addictions . . . nothing can destroy His love for you. You are His creation, He couldn’t love you more, and He ain’t done with you yet! He will never force Himself on you so consider what your life might look like if you were to align yourself with Him and give Him creative license to mold and shape you into His image.




"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well." Psalm 139:13-14



Fireside
Join me by the fire for conversations about how to nurture your family and create a warm and inviting home for family and friends.



A couple of years ago, my niece earned herself a nice, fat speeding ticket. To make matters worse, she was ticketed in a town she had been forbidden to travel to that weekend. My sister-in-law was trying to figure out how and when to tell her husband what had happened. 

I looked at my sister-in-law and asked, “Why are you worrying about this? You aren’t the one who got the ticket. Your daughter did. She should be the one to tell her dad.” This made sense to her so she had her daughter meet with her dad to tell him the news. Consider the value of what she learned in the process.


Out of love for their children, many parents often think the best thing to do for their kids is to protect them from the consequences of their mistakes and bail them out of their troubles. I've seen this in the classroom setting, on the playing field, in the church, and in the community at large. But is bailing them out the best thing for them? If we discourage our kids from accepting personal responsibility for their actions, how are we preparing them for life? How are we preparing them for healthy adult relationships? How are we preparing them to be productive members of society? Who’s going to bail them out when they’re adults and how are they going to learn from their mistakes now so they don't make bigger ones in the future? What kind of people will they become?

For those of you who are Christians, think about this:
If your kids never own their mistakes, how will they ever receive salvation? Salvation requires recognizing personal sin and imperfection. The Bible explains that we are all sinners and have no godliness in us (Romans 3:23, Romans 5:12). We are enemies of God because of our rebellion against His ways and our desire to do things our way. (Romans 5:10, Eph 2:1-3) We must accept responsibility for this.


In his book "Radical", David Platt shares the truth that "salvation consists of a deep wrestling in our souls with the sinfulness of our hearts, the depth of our depravity, and the desperation of our need for His grace."

In order for our kids to enter into a relationship with God through Christ, they must be able to look long and hard at themselves and acknowledge that they aren’t perfect and that they do make mistakes.

Something to think about . . .

Here's a great book recently released by my friend Rod Handley, Founder and President of Character That Counts. Rod speaks, writes, teaches, and shares his testimony about the importance of accountability. His newest book, Life in View of Eternity, teaches character qualities to teens and adults. It was developed for use in school settings, but can be utilized in the home, with athletic teams, in youth groups and more.




http://www.characterthatcounts.org/productsnew.html


Pinecones and Twigs
Just like gathering nature’s treasures on a hike through the woods, you never know what you’ll find here – a great read, an inspiring photo of nature, or maybe the latest bargain. Check out this spot at The Warming House for something fun.


Are you a pastor or leader of a women's ministry? If so, look around your church or community for a deserving single mom. (This should be easy because there are so many who are deserving!) Submit her name and a short description to thewarminghouse@gmail.com. To honor single moms and all they do for their sweet families, I will be giving away several massage gift certificates for Mother's Day.




A Steaming Hot Mug

Stories of Compassion to Warm your Soul from the Inside Out


Submit your stories (150 word maximum) to thewarminghouse@gmail.com for publication to this blog. Your stories must fall into one of the following three categories: 1) Stories of a time when you experienced God’s compassion directly or through the actions of another person; 2) Specific things you’ve done to teach your children compassion; or 3) How your church or someone you know has demonstrated the compassion of Christ. Can’t wait to hear (and share) your stories here at The Warming House!

 

Thanks for stopping by The Warming House. Until next time, remember that you are a work of art. God sees your potential and wants to perfect you because He created you and has chosen to love you.

Enjoy the View!

Lisa