Friday, June 2, 2017

The Best Gift

Can you remember when you got the best gift ever? Do you remember how you felt when that happened? I remember, as a young boy, hoping for a special toy. When I received that toy, I was so excited and I felt so loved. It was something that I hoped I would receive for a long time. It was exciting. The best gift is the one that makes you feel forever grateful.

A Gift From Your Parents:

Maybe your parent taught you great values that you are using everyday to make it through this challenging world. Maybe it was that toy or stuffed animal that you fondly remember. Maybe it was that love and support that was always there. Maybe it was that voice that guides you when you remember their words. Were any of these your best gift?

A Gift From Your Family:

Maybe it was t hat gift your brother or sister gave you when you were sick. Maybe it was that kind grandparent or uncle who always had something special for you. Maybe it was just a hug from your cousin when you needed it most. Maybe it's your wonderful children and grandchildren. Maybe it's your crazy pets. Were any of these your best gift?

A Gift From Your Love:

Maybe it was that smile your significant other gives you when they meet you at the airport that shows they really love you. Maybe it is the keepsake piece of jewelry that you stare at in moments of pause. Maybe it's that special closeness that you get when you watch a performance together. Maybe it's that special snuggle on a cold evening. Were any of these your best gift?

A Gift From Your Friends:

Maybe it was that special surprise party thrown in your honor. Maybe it was that encouraging text during times of trouble. Maybe it was that special call when you poured your heart out over a challenge or a hurt. Maybe it was when your friend stuck up for you. Were any of these your best gift?

A Gift From God: 

Maybe it's watching creation that demonstrates the glory of God. Maybe it's the fact that God gave you life along with your patient mother. Maybe it's the gifts that God gave you that you have the honor of sharing with others. Maybe it's that God allows you to flourish and be sustained through life. Were any of these your best gift?

The Best Gift:

While I can identify with many of these great gifts and I  appreciate them all. My best gift is that God loves me no matter what. I am accepted under grace and mercy despite all my failings. I will be eternally grateful for God's love and forgiveness. I hope never to go to sleep without remembering what God has done, is doing and will do in my life. What's your best gift?

Sunday, May 14, 2017

The Big "If Only"

Have you or others said "if only I had" or "if only I was"? Life can be filled with "if onlys"  It seems like we are always looking for that next goal. There are a myriad of categories of "if onlys" that seem to tug at our imaginations and hearts. Let's look at a few.

If Only I Was Smart and Educated:

There are many in the quest for knowledge and education so that they could either show others or progress in a better way in today's world. While this is a good thing to want, it's a never ending journey with constant thirst for more. Many people get stuck in a cycle for more knowledge and credentials.

If Only I Was Great Looking:

There are even more folks that desire to be attractive. This is what drives a significant amount of marketing and advertising. There are whole industries that are driven by our wanting to be desirable. While this a a good thing if handled with some reason. The fact is we will all age and look worse over time makes this a bit futile.

If Only I Had Enough Money:

We all want to be debt free at some point and have enough money to buy the desires of our heart. While more riches many help, it also is a drug that addicts. If you have ever watched the very rich, they always want more and contentment is elusive. The love of money is the root of all evil.

If Only I Had a Life Partner:

Everyone want to be loved. Sometimes it's hard to admit, but we need others. If it is a close loved one or a circle of good friends, we want and need close interaction. Some hop from person to person seeking that perfect match, but many prefer to settle in on a deep and stable partnership.

If Only I Had Health and Energy:

We all wish to be well at a minimum level to function without pain and sorrow.  Many seek to have that perfectly cut body, but most of us want to enjoy ourselves and stay in a good body tone zone. We want to feel good about ourselves and our ability to enjoy our physical world greatly. If might be great journeys (a nice walk for me now) or great adventures (free climbing in my younger years) enjoying our bodies to the fullest. We don't want our bodies to betray us, but eventually bodies die.


The most important, in my mind is to know what happens when we are done on this earth?  Will God approve of my life. I have chosen the free Grace that God gives to forgive the fact that I am not perfect nor will I ever be perfect. God loves me no matter what I say or do. I have put my faith in His grace and mercy to help me have a time for eternity with Him when my body finally gives out. I wouldn't want to say "If only I would have trusted God for his grace and mercy?"

We all like free and God gives this mercy to all of us for free. We certainly like free especially if it is from God. He gave us our lives and gifts, now he offers eternity with him. It won't be boring. Only If we all had eternity with God. That's my big "If Only"

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Sleep Walking Our Lives Away

Today's society has us so hypnotized we often miss the importance of the basics in life. While we all would say our family, friends and relationships are most important, but really act as if they are important. We would all say we enjoy the peace of  nature when we go on holidays, but do we still pursue the beauty of the world as a priority? What has us so distracted that our top priorities suffer quite a bit?

Hypnotized by Our Pace:

We are under such pressure at work and home it's really hard to keep up. The bosses always want more. Your family and friends always want more. Sometimes it seems we are on a treadmill that we can't get off of at any time soon. Maybe this explains the need to temporarily escape from the pain of the pace. We are Obsessive Compulsive to a Disease level (OCD) about getting the most out of every role of our lives.

Hypnotized by Our Phones:

We are always looking at our electronic devices, especially our phones, to keep up with our social links, our work emails, the next destination we are traveling to at the moment. People can't walk without collisions because of phones much less driving in cars. We are expected to be available in real time at all times. We are OCD about missing anything aka Fear of Missing Out (FOMO)

Hypnotized by Riches:

We all want the best we can get as we think we only go around once in life. Men want the most expensive toys and homes to prove their prowess. Women want the best wardrobe and eternal bodies to show their attractiveness. Both are trying scratch and crawl over each other to have riches to trust for the rest of their lives. We are OCD about our money

Hypnotized by the News:

We all know CNN was created by Ted Turner, who couldn't get enough news, much less real time news. We have to know the latest to be able to protect our investments and appear to be "up" on the latest. We are being trained to be OCD on the news.

Hypnotized by Reality Drama:

Many are so captured by watching others live through conditions and events that would rattle the best of us. We want to live out the lives of rich people without being rich. We want to live out the lives of pioneers in  the remote part of the world without being there ourselves. We want to pan for gold and cheer on vindictive women as they kick and punch each other. We are OCD on drama.

Hypnotized by Carnal Beauty:

Many are captivated by big butts and lusty men or women. Our children are sexting in the dark because they are possessed with knowing all that is carnal. Porn of all imaginable kinds are pushed our way, hidden under ads. We see a rise in sexual preditors in every corner of our lives. We are OCD about lust.

Hypnotized by Self Image:

Many want to appear better than we really are, so we work at our digital personas like they are super important. This goes beyond watching what we say online to avoid a bad reputation, but to projecting an image that is desirable to others. We are OCD about our public image.

What are we missing?

We are sleepwalking following these false goals and we really don't attain many of them. What our lives really are missing is God. We need to open our minds and hearts to who God is and what he has done for us with his mercy and forgiveness. The hope of God and his provision for us destroys the despair of unattainable goals and even takes the sting out of death with a promise of spending the rest of time with Him.

Bottom Line:

Seeking God in everything is the real important thing to do. We can see God in nature and children. We can see God in others and the inventions of man. God had given us so much, including the understanding of science to make our lives better. It's time to wake up from our sleep walking.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

For Those Who Celebrate Easter or Passover

Peace be to all. If you don't celebrate Good Friday and Easter, please pass by this one. For those who do, Easter is the celebration of our freedom and peace. Happy Easter !!!!  I created a new painting last year based on my past visits to Israel to see Golgotha and the Garden Tomb. I hope you enjoy seeing it as much as I enjoyed painting it. I have also included other past years paintings celebrating the wonderful Gospel and our forgiveness. For my Jewish friends, I wish you a happy Passover and have completed a painting for you as well. 


                                                           Star of David 

                                                          Mercy Mountain 


                                                               Flying Cross

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Fear the Mirror

We all have expectations that we do not meet. It might be something we want that we can't get. Maybe we want to accomplish something, but have been frustrated in making it happen. The real test question is "Are we what we want to be? Maybe it's bravery, tenderness or truthfulness. All these self imposed expectations add so much pressure to our lives on top of everything else that comes our way. It makes me want to run away from self introspection at times, because it might hurt.

Character Goals:

We all want to be the best we can be, but we often stumble and become disappointed in ourselves. For many, it's that sports hero, performer or wonderful leader that we want to emulate. It might be that you want to be the best child, sibling or parent you can be. It might be emulating values you look up to on a consistent basis. We all fall short when we look in the mirror, but there is hope.

Competence Goals:

We all want to be capable in the things we do, so we are looking to add value in our thoughts, advice and actions. We want to be reliable and faithful to others and ourselves, so we can look into the mirror with no regret. We really want to be valued as competent to ourselves and others, but often we don't exercise our gifts like we should.

Bottom Line:

You are not a failure in God's eyes, but our disappointment is meant to draw us closer to Him. The God who loves us despite our inability to even please ourselves. He is always open to us when we look in the mirror and come clean that we really need Him.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Why So Much Suffering?

It's hard to imagine so much suffering and injustice that seems only to be growing in intensity and scope. Do you ever wonder why the wicked prosper and why you seem powerless to do anything about it? It seems that circumstances are getting harder and harder all the time. A good friend of mine really questioned why God would let all this happen? This made me think deeply about this topic.

Wondering About Why the Poor Suffer:

It is sad to see how many people are poor and do not have proper nourishment, clean water, cures from diseases or proper health care. It's very difficult to look at the conditions that exist in many countries. Even the most "civilized" societies have those that have little or nothing. I remember a period in my life when we didn't know where the next meal was coming from. It makes me be thankful for what I have today and want to share with others.

Wondering Why There is So Much Arrogance:

It is also sad to see wicked arrogance by those who have power and leverage. It seems like the wicked have stacked the system to drain those who can least afford it. It's a power thing; not a political thing. It seems like there are examples of selfish indulgence everywhere and it gets flaunted in front of those that would not likely ever arrive at that point. It seems to erode character and values of many societies and held up as a false destination for us.

Wondering Why So Many are Oppressed:

It is also hard to swallow how the wicked and powerful try to stay in power. They do it by oppressing those who a beneath them in the power and wealth curve. It seems that the thirst for greed drives the wicked to prosper at the expense of the weak and meek. It's like the powerful are afraid of a reversal in fortunes where the last will be first and the first will be last.

It seems like God is allowing this to happen and it is easy to get mad at God. We wonder why God didn't heal our good friend and why others have to suffer. Gods plan is to allow us to make choices with the freedom, but there are many that chose to behave badly.  These choices have a cumulative effect that we see as suffering and evil.

Bottom Line: 

Judgment is inevitable and we can take that to the bank. God has purposes that will reach their destiny and we will all face an accounting for our lives. Don't be mad at God. These sufferings are a result of humans behaving badly outside of the wishes of God. God has given of of us a choice to trust him, or not, despite the circumstances. I pray for forgiveness for any of my strays that hurt others because I trust God even though I can't see him.

Monday, March 20, 2017

The More You More

Isn't funny that no matter what we have, we always seem to want more. At every level of life, it seems to ring true. The more you get, the more  you want. It seems that contentment is an elusive commodity. It seems that the human condition makes us want more than we really need. If we really received the blessing that we desire at the moment, would we be fulfilled or still wanting? When I was young I longed for syrup for my pancakes as we were too poor to afford it then. Now I think about a new pair of shoes frequently and a new car once in a while. I have that human condition too.

What if you Had It all?

It would be dangerous to have all those blessings as we would go weary of them. Look at the richest person you know. They are always striving for more. Look at those who do not count wealth, but relationships. There is never enough people to satisfy their longings. It is easy to boast and be arrogant if you had all that you wanted. It most likely would be a curse in disguise.

Is Happiness Only About Circumstances?

Can you recall saying to yourself? If I only had "X". Fill in that "X". If you are hungry, it's food. If you are cold, it's a coat. If you are sick, it's being well. Are we constantly is a state of wanting more? I would assert the answer is yes. It's like an unquenchable thirst. This seems a bit like a personally driven rate race where we are running the race.

Real Contentment:

Want we really want after we peel away all the circumstances is God. God gives that contentment through his continual love and mercy. God is at the end of our journey, but we all get so detoured. Seeking God humbly is the real "MORE" we all want though we may have a hard time admitting it.

Bottom Line:

Before you rush off chasing your "more", remember this parting thought. You came in the world naked and you will go out of this world naked. What do you really want in light of that reality?