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Floating on the Sky August 28, 2007

Posted by amybeth in Life.
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My dad and I went canoeing on the Grand River yesterday. It was so beautiful…peaceful.  The thing I loved the most, I think, was how the sky reflected on the surface of the water. If I stared at the surface of the water as I paddled, it was like we were skimming across the clouds.


Ancient Parallels August 22, 2007

Posted by amybeth in Deep.
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I just read a novel by Lynn Austin called “God and Kings”. Its the first in a series about King Hezekiah in the Old Testament. In her interpretation of the story, she has drawn some amazing parallels with the current state of the church and the struggles we face trying to make the message of Christ relevant to modern society. I thought I’d quote a particularly pertinent dialogue that really caught my attention when I first read it.

The setting:  Ahaz has just offered High Priest Uriah the position of chief advisor, however the first tasks Uriah has been assigned are to strip the gold of the temple for an a gift to placate Assyria and to prepare for a sacrifice to Molech. Uriah is torn because he wants to see worship restored to the temple, but these things are…well, wrong. The following dialogue comes from a council meeting of priests where he is trying to convince them that his doing these things is okay, and even good. I’ve only typed out the most relevant sections…you’ll have to read the book yourself for more.

Uriah – “We serve a dead institution…Look around you. Even the building is crumbling down on us, and we don’t have the resources to repair it. It’s time we faced the truth: the men of Jerusalem are no longer willing to support this Temple or its priesthood with their tithes. Like the king, they go elsewhere for spiritual help, to the idols and shrines and groves. Meanwhile, we barely take in enough  offerings to keep our families alive. It’s time to make some changes….Our Temple worship must change as the world changes or it will eventually die out altogether. We’re so bound to tradition that we no longer listen to the people. I’m not talking about changing Yahweh’s laws, I’m talking about examining our traditions. If the men of Judah are drawn to the religions of the nations around us, then we need to ask ourselves why. It’s time we consider changing our outmoded traditions to fit the times instead of blindly clinging to the old ways.”

Conaniah – “You want to revive the worship of Yahway by sacrificing to Molech? That’s insane! The only way to revive Temple worship is through repentance. The men of judah must give up their idolatry and turn their hearts back to God!”

Uriah – “Repentance! Where has that gotten us? The whole purpose of the Temple is to serve the spiritual needs of the people. Obviously our traditions aren’t meeting those needs or the people would come back. First we must draw them back to worship. Later we can wean them from their idolatry.”

Hmmm…food for thought ain’t it??? Are there any of God’s ways, God’s principles that have become watered down, compromised over the years as the church has struggled to remain relevant and palatable to society?

Spiritual Painting Lessons August 22, 2007

Posted by amybeth in Deep, Life.
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Well, I decided this summer that I couldn’t afford to go away, take a trip, experience an adventure (I had wanted to take a guided canoe trip in Algonquin park)…sighh. So I racked my brain trying to come up with fun stuff I could do around home. I decided to take a beginning acrylic painting class (by the time you add supplies to the cost of the class its not thaaaat much cheaper than going away…but I didn’t know that starting out).

The last time I actually painted a picture on canvas was in Grade 10…that was approximately 10 years ago…and I wasn’t that good at it. But I’ve always sort of wondered if I could be any good if I got lessons. I’ve tended to stick to more controllable mediums like paper and pencil or images on the computer. For some reason, painting has always frustrated me cuz its not as simple as just making marks on a page…you’ve got to understand color and build up layers of strokes. In reality…you are not depicting an image, you are implying it.

As I started pondering all that, I began to get this inkling that there was something else going on in my taking this painting class, a prophetic act God was calling me to engage in (by that I mean, I was to do/learn something in the natural in order to do/learn something in the spiritual). I’ve struggled with how un-straightforward life is sometimes…especially in the church. We talk about what God is doing, his desire for his bride, the impact the church is to have in the community and so on. And yet in reality, any project we undertake involves imperfect people and only kind of vaguely implies this bigger destiny.

Metaphorically speaking, pastors are amazing painters. They understand the limitations of their medium (people) and they have an incredible level of patience to continue building layer upon layer as they bring groups together, implement projects, counsel families and so on. They understand that any stroke that is laid upon the canvas now does not specifically represent anything in terms of the final pictures, but rather contributes to the overall effect which will create the impression of the church, the bride of God’s heart. As such, they do not get frustrated when something doesn’t turn out quite right or seems a little off-colour or crooked…they understand that as more strokes are applied, the painting will be adjusted and turn out just fine.

I don’t have this kind of understanding…yet. And so I see this painting class as God’s way of teaching me a little bit more about how to see the world, to see what he’s up to, to see the possibilities of dreams being fulfilled…to hope again. Even in my own life as I’m trying to make some decisions about graduate school, I’m trying to find the perfect fit, the thing that will define my career, the rest of my life. And yet, I’m beginning to recognize that whatever further education I take, it will only be another stroke on the canvas contributing to the overall picture. In the end, that particular stroke may not look anything like it did when first laid down. It may play a minor or a major role in the overall composition. I don’t know. But I need to relax and enjoy the process of painting, instructed by the master painter himself.