Saturday, September 24, 2016

The Peace of God

The peace of God is one of the most important truths I seek daily. For most of my life I have lived with mental or emotional problems that cause a great deal of inner turmoil. This is not only the opposite of peace; it creates unrest in me with how I tend to handle life in all its stress, pressure, and myriad conflicts.

I wish to be free to enjoy God, to live in the joy of knowing Him, and to handle challenges in a healthy way. How wonderful God’s graciousness is in Christ. His merciful love is pure in healing in the deepest parts of our being, empowering our weakness, and ever caring for us no matter how often we stumble.

Artwork: © Jeffrey M Green. "Bushkill Creek Reflections", 16 x 20", colored pencils.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Trust


When I face difficult circumstances, I have a choice to make. I look at the facts as they appear, on the one hand, and on the other the awesome character of God revealed in Scripture. Comparing the two, my trial is no match for the love, mercy, and enabling strength of God in Christ. The “facts as they appear” is an important distinction here. Often our perception of reality is distorted by stress, fear, and dread. There will be times when our circumstances are truly dire, yet God is bigger than anything we encounter.

By feeding our hearts and minds on Scripture, we are strengthened by the Holy Spirit. We learn that God is our loving conqueror. Though we so often stumble, we have a patient and gracious Father whose love radiates our lives with joy. To fully trust God is to lay aside our own striving as wasted and exhausting effort. Instead, we completely put ourselves in the hands of our Father.

We cannot live in His strength by merely owning a Bible. We must read it regularly. Contrary to what is assumed, faith is not blind or passive. It engages us at the deepest levels. Scripture describes neglecting the truths of Christ as living on milk and staying an infant. We are ill prepared for our own emotional struggles or what the world throws at us if we are immature in understanding. Thankfully, this can be remedied for any believer. By partaking of the solid food of the Word, we grow and are transformed.

Artwork: © Jeffrey M Green. "Lighthouse Reflections", 9 x 12", colored pencils.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Called to Love


Love, the gospel way, is not easy. Though it is often counter intuitive to our desires, it is liberating. We love because He first wonderfully loved us. We stumble, we fall, and yet sill He continues to love us. If our Lord so treats His children, with His enabling mercy may we reflect the spirit of this in a gracious manner toward others.

Artwork: © Jeffrey M Green. 

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Misunderstanding God in our Struggles

If you listen to the comments of those who are struggling with their feelings about God, many times is found a mistaken notion that God behaves as we do. The hurt inflicted by a fickle world can morph into defining truth for us. This may be especially true in issues with parents. They play such an important role in shaping our hearts and minds it can leave deep scars if we have been hurt by them.

In my past, I struggled with seeing God as aloof and uncaring. I felt that if He cared at all it was only to use it against me to hate and crush me. If we look at this objectively, it is obviously opposite God’s character. I had no set formula of beliefs here; it was a reaction from deep within shaped by painful experiences. I had unfortunately learned it from how my father treated me. This emotional damage created pain for me, not only in the way I defined life, but in how I perceived God. I found myself struggling with relating in a healthy way.

The glorious reality is that God is nothing like us. His love is pure, His motives are for our care, and He is awesome in perfection. He is not only Holy; He went to amazing lengths to show us how much He loves us. Jesus is the utmost of God Himself, His gracious love gift for us. As we let go of what we have known and receive Him as children, we allow God to correct the lies we believe. The more we learn of His character in Scripture, we are healed deep within, and come to know the full joy of a life set wonderfully free.

By blaming God for our problems, or allowing our view of Him to be shaped by our past, we cut off the true hope we need at the source. The human heart cannot rest without the restoring love of the God who created us. Peace and redemptive joy are possible at the foot of the Cross.

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts". Isaiah 55:8-9.

I will proclaim the name of the Lord.
    Oh, praise the greatness of our God!
He is the Rock, His works are perfect,
    and all His ways are just.
A faithful God who does no wrong,
    upright and just is He.
Deuteronomy 32:4


Artwork: © Jeffrey M Green. "Shadows on the Moss", 8 x 10", pastels.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Art & Reducing Stress


It is a given that life is full of stress. In is expected in our hectic lives. More than any other time, people struggle with anxieties. Though we know emotional turmoil is harmful to our well being, it can be a kind of norm. Stress can become an ever-present undercurrent, at times intensifying and becoming unbearable, robbing us of physical or mental energy.

Moments of relief do not happen by accident, we need to make a choice to pause. Rest will never come if unworthy of our time. By stepping back for a well-needed break, we have more control over the pace of our lives.  In a culture driven by a can-do, or perhaps a must-do attitude, it is helpful to come to grips with why we are so driven. Rather than inviting disaster in wasted time, with moments of calm reflection we rejuvenate ourselves with meaning. Life without meaning can be one of the most hopeless experiences.

We are bombarded by images of every kind with TV and the internet. Craving information and activity, our minds have become overloaded with intense input. If we have leisure time, it has become an obsession in which we try to cram as much as we can. In an ironic sense, relaxation has become work. Whether at work or rest, the abundance of activity in all we do avoids quiet and deeper reflection.

In contrast, art gives moments of peace as we pause to contemplate. Art edifies the mind, requiring our attention to enjoy. This is best experienced in person, rather than flying by in seconds on social media. The work I create has a sense of calm. There is an expression of peace and tranquility, focusing our attention on things around us in Creation. As the mind appreciates creativity, we enjoy this gift God has given us in its varied expression.

Allowing time for ourselves might seem selfish or lazy. Yet, our lives touch others. A parent, spouse, teacher, or preacher at peace in their hearts, spreads this smile to those around them. Stress is very harmful to our mental and emotional health, and can be to others when we take it out on them.

There is a peace that surpasses all the world has to offer. It is free, given in wonderful in mercy. The storms of a hundred anxieties I find calmed by the pages of His love letter to us, the Bible. God, who is awesome with unapproachable power and holiness, is near in grace through His Son Jesus Christ. Here too something is required of us. If we pass it by, we miss true life. We bring our full attention to God, emptying our hands of ourselves to receive and come to Him. Profound meaning, joy, and purpose, are fulfilled in His love for us.

Artwork: © Jeffrey M Green. "Sunset Over Barnegat Bay", 15 x 22", colored pencils.