Monday, October 31, 2011

The Church?

I heard some comments about communion, and had to dive in.  It's been a few years since Jesus walked among man, over 1500.  Since the time of Christ we've embellished things a bit : )  I can't see the Apostle Paul or Peter standing in front of a group of people, from behind a pulpit, with gold crosses on their robes, organ music playing in the background, as one of them says, "Take this cup..."    I envision the apostles gathering in houses seeking refuge from persecution.  They broke bread together and drank wine, remembering Jesus' sacrifice, and that death isn't the end.  They had seen Jesus horrible crucifixion, and then His resurrection.  Probably the last thing they wanted on top of the house was a big cross identifying it as a place where Christians gathered.

In fact, the early believers used the symbol of a fish to identify themselves to other Christians.  The letters inside the fish mean "fish." They are from the Greek alphabet. They are also the first letters of these words, "Jesus, Christ, God's, Son, Savior."  I wonder if the Romans wondered why they kept drawing fish : ) Times were very hard for them. Yet they gathered, having the strength and courage to continue in the faith.   They were inspired to write the New Testament, even though they knew the consequences.  I am so glad they did, or we would've never known.  All of the disciples died as martyrs.  Yet, they preached the gospel with boldness.  Many sacrifices were made so we could believe. 

From the New Testament we've learned, we can approach God today, because of Jesus sacrifice.  Our bodies are His temple.
Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own...  1 Corinthians 6:19 NIV

The Church is not a building made by man.  It's people who have accepted Jesus as Savior.  His Church is mobile now.  There isn't a single temple building for us to worship in, or a perfect denomination.  He's in us. in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.
Romans 12:5 NIV
Jesus said, "Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven." Matthew 18:19

Jesus has given us confidence to approach God from our homes, our cars, anywhere.  By His blood we are cleansed from our guilty consciences.  We have a great Priest over the worldwide Church, His name is, "Jesus."  Jesus is above all, even Pastors are to serve Him. 
Hebrews 10:19-22
19 Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.

We can gather together, in houses, in Church buildings, at picnics, wherever we want to.  I've heard great things about Coffee Shop Bible Studies.  But why should we meet?  To tell each other, "You need to serve the Lord!"  Without knowing what they are doing.  (I've actually been approached this way at Church three times- it's like, "Uh, Hi and how are you today?")  Then I explain my ministry.  After that, I am acceptable.  Did Jesus take a day off?  Maybe my cable was down...
23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

The reason to gather is so we can encourage each other, not just for formal communion.  And missing a communion service is not a sin. The closer we get to the end times, the more we need to strengthen each other in love and mercy.  We really need to learn how to love each other without judgement.  Some ignore verses 23, 24, and part of 25, and jump to verse 26 claiming if you miss Church, you're sinning and will lose your salvation.

Should we go to Church when we are sick?  Don't think so.  Are we condemned if we miss?  Nope!  But we do miss out and we do need each other.  Some people will completely give up.  They will become angry and deny all they've experienced.  This describes one who has received the knowledge, but not the Lord.  After Christ is denied, there is no other sacrifice to save a soul.  This is not the unforgivable sin, we all go through struggles with unbelief.  And Jesus welcomes us back with open arms when we ask for His forgiveness.
26 If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27 but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.
Hebrews 10:26-27 NIV

These verses have been tied to the Church tradition of formal communion.  To me Jesus is saying to remember His sacrifice always.  I try and thank Him everyday for His sacrifice for me.  It wouldn't surprise me if this is where the tradition to pray before dinner, got started.  Communion at Church is very sacred and holy to me.  A very wonderful thing to partake in.  But this doesn't save my soul, only Jesus can.
19 And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.
20 In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you..." 
Luke 22:19-20 NIV

I have a little charm of a Church building hanging from my car mirror.  It warms my heart to remember the people and good experiences.  My first Pastor was excellent at inspiring us to read the Bible on our own.  He is a great teacher (if he saw this, I'm sure he'd deny it).  I attend Church whenever I can.
33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
Matthew 6:33 NIV

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Good judgment

© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

Sorry to be a day late!  We had a cable catastrophe yesterday and haven't had access for a day and a half.  But thanks be to God, I'm back!

I felt like I should clarify why I've had so many jobs.  I worked for Boeing for 10 years in Seattle. Then when we moved back to New Jersey, I realized I could make more money contracting so I had several jobs.  I took a full-time job for 5 years in a company that was going under fast.  So I contracted again for several Fortune 500 companies.  In fact, I realized my resume had all the companies mentioned in the first financial crash a few years ago.  And I had VP's as references too... rats!  Before my last job, I couldn't find contract work.  So I took a full-time position, 13 hour days, long commutes...  It was my toughest job ever. 

I worked there for 2 years.  My husband became ill and needed hospitalization.  But, praise be to God!  We had insurance to pay for it.  He knew our needs before we knew we needed them.  After he got well, my husband told me it was time for me to pursue my dreams.  He told me if I didn't sign myself up for the New York Institute of Photography Pro Course, he would do it for me. : )  God has supplied our needs ever since.  And of course I love my husband now more than ever.

Proverbs 13

Here's another warning about guarding what we say.  I keep coming up with new ideas to illustrate this, but I think maybe He's trying to tell me to watch what I say.  Hmmmm...  I'll never forget being in a meeting at work and my Supervisor told us if he didn't do a better job and prove he was qualified, he would be let go.  I have no idea what I was thinking- maybe it just slipped out.  But I said, "That's good."  Then I was horrified.  Is there an "Undo" button anywhere?  Eraser?  I wanted to crawl under the table.  I was a hero to my co-workers.  He's probably the worst supervisor I've ever had, maybe 2nd.  My ex-coworkers are still hoping he gets laid off.  But still, you just don't say things like that!  I felt ugly at that moment, lacking discipline, embarrassed, not very Christlike.  So glad He forgives when we mess up.  And it was a valuable lesson to hold my tongue.
3 Those who guard their lips preserve their lives,
but those who speak rashly will come to ruin.

I'm thinking things probably would've gone smoother with this supervisor, if I'd kept my mouth shut at that staff meeting.  We are not perfect, that's a sure thing!
15 Good judgment wins favor,
but the way of the unfaithful leads to their destruction.

I want to be the one who has integrity, who can be trusted.  Wickedness is like not obeying the authorities, if I do good no worries.  If I am doing wrong, there's reason to worry and be afraid.
6 Righteousness guards the person of integrity,
but wickedness overthrows the sinner.

This is how I see the meaning of this verse.  One person is wealthy.  He lacks trust in anyone.  He drives a Mercedes and has to make sure it's safe every time he parks.  He can't tell the difference between true friends and thieves.  So he's wary of people- he has nothing but money.  Then there's the person who is full of faith sparkles.  They have joy, that's unexplainable.  This person appears to be a poor man, maybe he drives a Volkswagen.   He doesn't worry about what labels are on his clothes, he's grateful for what he has.  He has lots of friends and enjoys Church.  He is wealthy, carefree.  A rich man can pay a ransom if he's kidnapped, a poor man doesn't need to worry about being kidnapped in the first place.
7 One person pretends to be rich, yet has nothing;
another pretends to be poor, yet has great wealth.
8 A person’s riches may ransom their life,
but the poor cannot respond to threatening rebukes.

Fear extinguishes light.  Those who don't need to be afraid, can shine brightly.  It's not easy though, to keep the faith when things get hard.
9 The light of the righteous shines brightly,
but the lamp of the wicked is snuffed out.

It's soooo hard to wait!  I can relate with my career. I've sold portraits, been published with photos and writing, sold a painting.  Now what do I do?  I so want everything to fall into place and be able to work and earn money like in an office.   But I know the cost of that too well. It requires lots of faith and marketing to freelance.   When something goes well- it's a tree of life.  I CAN do all things through Christ who strengthens me!  With each success I walk boldly forward.  And, well, with failure I ask, "Are you sure Lord?  This IS the right path isn't it?"  And somehow I know it is.  So grateful for my husband's job and his hard work.
12 Hope deferred makes the heart sick,
but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.

I don't have children, so I'm not qualified to give advice about spanking described in this verse.   I know a lot of parents are divided on this.  One of the most effective tools my Mom had was "The Look."  I believe all women have this ability, it may be a gift for self-protection : )  Men hate it (hahaha).  I remember sitting in the backseat of the car with a friend and we were acting up.  I looked at the rear view mirror and saw my Mom giving "The Look."  I immediately told my friend to stop now!  I think if I had children I would spank them if they did something really bad- just on the bum.  And of course use "The Look."

I would love to hear what parents think about this verse.  The most important thing I think (not being a parent) is that children grow up with self-control, discipline.  To me there are extremes- the little soldier who obeys every word and isn't having fun, and the child who is out of control completely.  I like to be around kids in the middle.  They have fun and the confidence to tell jokes, play, and at the same time respect for others. My neighbor kids are like that.  A joy to be around.
24 Whoever spares the rod hates their children,
but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.

It reminds me of this verse from Psalm 23, which would explain why as grown up Christians, we still need His rod and staff to keep us out of trouble.
Psalms 23:4
4 Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,they comfort me.

What do you think?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Word-filled Wednesday

© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

I've noticed how when things are smooth and there's no problems, I tend to not be as dependent on the Lord.  "It's ok God, I got it now!"

I've pretty much learned even a good day is better when Jesus is included.  But I confess, when there's an emergency or problems, I'm praying non-stop!  That's why I love this verse.  When I'm afraid something bad might happen, or dreading something in the future, I try and remember, "...when I am weak, then I am strong," in Him.  It's such an amazing experience when He lifts us above the weight we carry.

I've had nights, especially when I worked in an office, where I went to bed and my prayer was, "I give up."  Then I'd drift off to sleep.  The minute I stepped out of the house, in the morning, peace and strength came to help me face another day.  Giving up is good when we turn it all over to the Lord.

This is a still life I just finished.  My lights are behind me and my camera is staring at my computer as I type.  I wanted to illustrate weakness and thought of little chicks.  They are so fragile and tiny- but they survive.  God gave them durability, and the ability to grow strong.  He did that for us too.  Sometimes learning isn't fun.  But it's definitely worth it.  The weight symbolizes strength. This is one of my little 3 lb. hand weights so I can be strong physically and spiritually.

I paid the little chicks under the weight extra chick feed (just kidding), the one on top is praying and praising God. Her reward will be in Heaven. : )

Challenge sponsored by Katie Lloyd Photography.

Challenge sponsored by Internet Cafe Devotions.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Love discipline

My Pastor said something yesterday that was great.  He asked, "Do you want to be one of the ones who reads their Bible everyday, who asks the Holy Spirit what to do each day?"  I've found that doing this really helps.  Even when things are great, reading the Bible puts verses and words of wisdom in my heart.  Then when the storms come I'm better prepared.  And allowing the Holy Spirit to guide me makes life much easier.  Even when I'm shooting photos- He always knows where the good shots are.  These are some of the proverbs that stood out to me in Chapter 12. 

Proverbs 12

When I think of discipline I think of being self-controlled.  Today, I WILL vacuum the floors, no excuses!  It makes sense that if I am disciplined I will gain knowledge.  When I sit to read my Bible everyday, it takes discipline.  But if I am afraid of what the Bible teaches, I miss out on growing stronger in my faith.  I can say that now, because I've walked with the Lord for awhile.  Without Him, it's actually pretty scarey where I could've wound up.  It's like learning a skill, if I take time to learn from other photographers, I'll learn much quicker than on my own trial and error.  How much more to learn from the Master Himself through His Word?
1 Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge,
but whoever hates correction is stupid.

In Proverbs 11, it spoke of a woman who has no discretion.  I realized later that sometimes the guys gossip too.  I think it's the same with this verse, a wife who seeks the Lord and has noble character is a crown for her husband.  He can trust her.  A husband who seeks the Lord and has noble character is a crown for the wife.  And it's true, disgrace from either the wife or husband wears on the other physically.  I love the word, "noble," it reminds me of a queen or king.  It just sounds beautiful.  I want to be noble.
4 A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown,
but a disgraceful wife is like decay in his bones.

I looked up the word prudence in the dictionary.  We don't use it much these days.  It means, "the ability to govern and discipline oneself by the use of reason."  The warped minds are in here too- that strange logic that defies truth.  The place to find wisdom is in the Bible.
8 A person is praised according to their prudence,
and one with a warped mind is despised.

I had to include this.  The righteous take care of their animals!  How cool is that?   King David was a shepherd boy originally.   God does pay attention to how we treat animals.
10 The righteous care for the needs of their animals,
but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel.

I've noticed this too.  If you listen carefully to what people are saying, sometimes you can hear what's wrong with it.  To most of us it's obvious and we can avoid danger- it's good to be innocent.  Words of encouragement fill others with good things and ideas.  Their work brings them a reward.
13 Evildoers are trapped by their sinful talk,
and so the innocent escape trouble.
14 From the fruit of their lips people are filled with good things,
and the work of their hands brings them reward.

I think this proverb is reminding us to seek advice from someone who knows.  Sometimes we need a voice of reason to let us know if it's worthwhile to purchase something, or if an investment is worthwhile.
15 The way of fools seems right to them,
but the wise listen to advice.

One of the things with showing annoyance at what someone said, is I may have misunderstood what they meant.  Or they may just be rude.  If I'm rude back- the battle gets bigger and bigger.  Yup it's better to overlook an insult, also make sure that it wasn't said wrong in the first place. 
16 Fools show their annoyance at once,
but the prudent overlook an insult.

My husband and I have had some arguments like this.  We get so frustrated with each other.  Sometimes we say things we shouldn't.  It's usually me that steps out of the situation and prays for the Holy Spirit's wisdom and words to say.  Amazingly, peace usually comes back to our house. 
18 The words of the reckless pierce like swords,
but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

It reminds me of the old saying, "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all."  There are times when I need to tell my husband what I think, and let him decide if he wants my advice or not.  Not so easy sometimes.  But he has as much free will as I do.   We should do this for everyone.  Give them respect and love them as they are.
23 The prudent keep their knowledge to themselves,
but a fool’s heart blurts out folly.

This one stood out because it sounds like Jesus.  Through Him we have righteousness, there is life, joy, peace, compassion, and hope.  He will give us eternal life in a perfect world.
28 In the way of righteousness there is life;
along that path is immortality.

Here's how Jesus said it:
Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."
John 14:6 NIV
I enjoy hearing other peoples thoughts in comments. Still not a super-saint : ) Thanks!

Friday, October 21, 2011

A pig's snout?

© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

Well, it was 35 years ago,
October 19, 1976, I accepted Jesus as my Savior : )   I think it was on the 19th- the whole day I kept thinking it was a special day.  But I couldn't remember why (getting old... I'll make a note for next year).  It's my spiritual birthday month- when my soul was born-again.  God is so patient!   I would like to apologize to Him for all the time I spent tripping and stumbling around in my faith.  But I know He loves us so much, He gently guides us on our way.  I suspect He may even laugh with us when we mess up- when it's a silly thing.  He knows tripping is a part of learning to walk straight with balance and confidence.  I still have so much to learn. What I have learned is to put my confidence in Him.  He forgives when we confess.  If He didn't, I would've never lasted 35 years : )

In this Proverb I pulled out the verses that stood out to me.

Proverbs 11

In Biblical times people would change the actual weight of a weight on the scales when they were making sales.  So if you went to buy 1 pound of flour they would put on a weight that was 1/2 pound but said it was a full pound.   The buyer would pay for 1 pound and receive 1/2 pound, of course the names of measures were different during this time period.  It reminds me of today, inflation is rising.  You'll know I'm old when I say, "I remember when you could fill up your car with gas for $5.00."  God sees and knows what's going on.  He's not fooled by anything.  It's also something to think about with my photography.
1 The Lord detests dishonest scales,
but accurate weights find favor with him.

Oy!  Pride...  hate that.  So many times I've decided I could handle things without prayer.  I know what I'm doing after all.  Only to embarrass myself in the end.  The best way out of it- is humility.
2 When pride comes, then comes disgrace,
but with humility comes wisdom.

This is true.  We love to see the good guy, the unexpected person succeed- like a Christian who praises God when he gets a touchdown in football.   And when a wicked man dies- there's a celebration, like Gaddafi's death. 
10 When the righteous prosper, the city rejoices;
when the wicked perish, there are shouts of joy.

It's hard not to share my opinions about people sometimes.  But, I want to be the one who holds my tongue and keeps secrets.
12 Whoever derides their neighbor has no sense,
but the one who has understanding holds their tongue.
13 A gossip betrays a confidence,
but a trustworthy person keeps a secret.

To me the key with advisers is to select wise people for advice in the first place... 
14 For lack of guidance a nation falls,
but victory is won through many advisers.

This is true sometimes I see someone who is very beautiful.  But when they speak, the beauty becomes like make-up that washes off.  I want to be beautiful on the inside.  And if we, as ladies, think about it, we really do talk a lot more than the guys.  And sometimes things take a wrong turn...  A pig's snout sounds a bit harsh, but I guess it's a reflection of God's true feelings about gossip...
22 Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout
is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion.

If our desires come from faith, they end in good.  Sometimes I pray that God will make His will my desire.  And wickedness leads to anger.
23 The desire of the righteous ends only in good,
but the hope of the wicked only in wrath.

We've seen this too.  The one who gives to others has their needs met.  But the one who holds on to their money or talent for their own glory loses their soul.
24 One person gives freely, yet gains even more;
another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.
25 A generous person will prosper;
whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.

This makes me think of those who are so busy trying to make a name for themselves.  They need the spotlight and crave attention.  So much so that they leave those they once loved behind.  It's a lonely place to be dependent on other people's opinions.  But those who trust God, and have faith, bring life to others and hope.  Through prayer and counsel we can save lives literally.  By sharing our faith, God can save their souls.
29 Whoever brings ruin on their family will inherit only wind,
and the fool will be servant to the wise.
30 The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life,
and the one who is wise saves lives.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Word-filled Wednesday

© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

I've always been fascinated by angels.  One day they will come and gather us up.  What a wonderful day that will be for those of us who believe in Jesus. 

In the Psalms angels are described as doing God's bidding, obeying God's Word, servants who do His will.
20 Praise the Lord, you his angels,
you mighty ones who do his bidding,
who obey his word.
21 Praise the Lord, all his heavenly hosts,
you his servants who do his will.
22 Praise the Lord, all his works
everywhere in his dominion.
Psalms 103:20-22 NIV

Actually Hebrews says angels visit us now on earth.  Only they come in the form of humans. 
2 Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.
Hebrews 13:2 NIV

Humans were created a little lower than the angels.
Psalms 8:3-5
3 When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
4 what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
human beings that you care for them?
5 You have made them a little lower than the angels
and crowned them with glory and honor.

And then there's one of my favorite stories about when some men were discussing what happened to this Jesus fellow who was crucified.  Without realizing it, Jesus had joined them before His ascension to Heaven.  I have to chuckle because, He didn't tell them who He was.  He asked them questions. 
13 Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. 14 They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. 15 As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; 16 but they were kept from recognizing him.
17 He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”
Luke 24:13-17 NIV

Jesus went to their house and had bread with them.  Then their eyes were opened and they knew it was Him.  (Luke 24:30-31) I wonder how it will feel when we see Jesus for the first time.

Angels are among us and Jesus dwells in our hearts.  But we don't know when we are seeing angels.  They must be humble to help us out, full of love and mercy from God's throne.  I have read descriptions in the Bible of what they look like in Heaven- but it's hard to imagine.  I like that, it will be a wonderful surprise.  I've met a few people and wondered...

Here's how Jesus said it to Thomas:
Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” John 20:29 NIV

I took this photo in Central Park in New York City.  When we first went into the gate, I saw homeless people.  Everywhere I turned, there would be another one.  My heart broke.  I felt so helpless, I didn't have enough money to go around.  At that moment I wanted to be in a ministry team bringing food, clean underwear, and the good news.  I was grateful they had a sanctuary from the noise and dangers of the streets.  I prayed that God would send angels to minister to them.  We walked on among the trees, and beauty, and saw this statue.  A wonderful symbol of God's presence on earth.  I felt such joy.  For my photographer friends, I purposely made this photo a little foggy- I wanted it to appear like a thought more than a statue.

Had to do some edits on this one, sorry! 10-19-11 9:07pm EST

Challenge sponsored by Katie Lloyd Photography.

Challenge sponsored by Internet Cafe Devotions.

Monday, October 17, 2011

True righteousness

For this digital painting, I wanted to illustrate how I feel when I worship with others. 
Sometimes it's so powerful, it feels like His light is surrounding us.  This is a drawing
of how it was to have communion in the California Redwood Forest.   I'm hoping you
can see the little people on the right : )  The trees are so huge!
© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

I don't know about you, but when I hear the word "righteous,"  I get a bit nervous.  Even before I became a Christian, I worried about what I would become.  Someone with perfect hair who wore dresses all the time?  I remember the verses in Romans that say,

“There is no one righteous, not even one;
11 there is no one who understands;
there is no one who seeks God."
Romans 3:10-11 NIV

I think of being righteous as being perfect, never sinning.  I fail!  But when I read on in the chapter, the Apostle Paul writes,
22 This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
Romans 3:22-24 NIV

Our faith in Jesus, is what makes us righteous.  Faith is not a feeling, it's a choice.  Not our actions!  Shew!  And I'm happy to say that even in blue jeans and a t-shirt we are still Christians.  In fact, in college, we went on a hike and participated in communion with a can of soda (pop on the west coast) and potato chips.  The Church was made of tall redwood trees, birds sang in the background.  It was a very blessed moment I'll never forget.  Jesus wants us to come to Him just as we are.  The interesting thing about faith is that the more it grows, the better my actions become.

Proverbs 10

Proverbs 10 gives a contrast between those with faith (righteousness), and those who are foolish or wicked.  I highlighted the parts about the faithful in blue, so it would be easier to see the contrast.  Just reading the blue, gives me great hope today.  Reading the black sounds so true and sad.
1 A wise son brings joy to his father, but a foolish son brings grief to his mother.
2 Ill-gotten treasures have no lasting value, but righteousness delivers from death.
3 The Lord does not let the righteous go hungry, but he thwarts the craving of the wicked.
4 Lazy hands make for poverty, but diligent hands bring wealth.
5 He who gathers crops in summer is a prudent son, but he who sleeps during harvest is a disgraceful son.
6 Blessings crown the head of the righteous, but violence overwhelms the mouth of the wicked.
7 The name of the righteous is used in blessings, but the name of the wicked will rot.
8 The wise in heart accept commands, but a chattering fool comes to ruin.
9 Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out.
10 Whoever winks maliciously causes grief, and a chattering fool comes to ruin.
11 The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.
12 Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs.
13 Wisdom is found on the lips of the discerning, but a rod is for the back of one who has no sense.
14 The wise store up knowledge, but the mouth of a fool invites ruin.
15 The wealth of the rich is their fortified city, but poverty is the ruin of the poor.
16 The wages of the righteous is life, but the earnings of the wicked are sin and death.
17 Whoever heeds discipline shows the way to life, but whoever ignores correction leads others astray.
18 Whoever conceals hatred with lying lips and spreads slander is a fool.
19 Sin is not ended by multiplying words, but the prudent hold their tongues.
20 The tongue of the righteous is choice silver, but the heart of the wicked is of little value.
21 The lips of the righteous nourish many, but fools die for lack of sense.
22 The blessing of the Lord brings wealth, without painful toil for it.
23 A fool finds pleasure in wicked schemes, but a person of understanding delights in wisdom.
24 What the wicked dread will overtake them; what the righteous desire will be granted.
25 When the storm has swept by, the wicked are gone, but the righteous stand firm forever.
26 As vinegar to the teeth and smoke to the eyes, so are sluggards to those who send them.
27 The fear of the Lord adds length to life, but the years of the wicked are cut short.
28 The prospect of the righteous is joy, but the hopes of the wicked come to nothing.
29 The way of the Lord is a refuge for the blameless, but it is the ruin of those who do evil.
30 The righteous will never be uprooted, but the wicked will not remain in the land.
31 From the mouth of the righteous comes the fruit of wisdom, but a perverse tongue will be silenced.
32 The lips of the righteous know what finds favor, but the mouth of the wicked only what is perverse.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Confessing the sins of others

These verses were hard to write about.  I had to do some praying to get on the same page with this part of Proverbs 9.  Don't be afraid, I see cartoon people...  But you may have already noticed that (blush).

Proverbs 9:7-18

Reading these verses brought a man sitting on a bar stool, in a bar, to mind.  He's so drunk, it's hard for him to keep his balance.  His words are slurred.  He's miserable, trying to deaden something painful, something he can't get rid of.  As a Christian, I walk in and tell him he's a miserable drunk and needs to stop acting this way.  He needs to sober up and go to Church, get a life.  The response I would expect from the man is cursing.  The other approach, would be to offer him a cup of coffee and a ride home.  Help him get into the car.  Then to talk to him when he's sober about what's bothering him or her, I still might get cursing. At this point I'm to "shake the dust off my feet and walk on." (Matt. 10:14) But the seed of God's Word and love are planted in his heart.  I have heard of men who have ministries like this.  It takes a special person to do it.
7 Whoever corrects a mocker invites insults;
whoever rebukes the wicked incurs abuse.
8 Do not rebuke mockers or they will hate you;

But what should I do if I see a Christian sin?  Put it in the newspaper?  Spread it around Church so people will know the truth about them?  Or acknowledge my own sin, and help the one who is fallen.  Maybe it's a Christian sitting on the bar stool.   I have the choice to criticize them,  or a chance to guide them back to God's love and forgiveness, by listening and prayer.  I can use discretion and keep it a secret.  It's much easier to confess someone else's sin isn't it?  Jesus told us to "love our neighbors as ourselves." (Matt. 19:18)
rebuke the wise and they will love you.
9 Instruct the wise and they will be wiser still;
teach the righteous and they will add to their learning.

These verses fit in with my last post.  I wonder how many fatalities could be prevented if we all obey the traffic laws.  There will always be accidents, that's why they call them accidents.  But it does make me wonder.
10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
11 For through wisdom your days will be many,
and years will be added to your life.
12 If you are wise, your wisdom will reward you;
if you are a mocker, you alone will suffer.

This is so true.  During my rebellious younger years, the first thing people would say is, "Try this.  It won't hurt you.  No one will know."   But someone always does know, the person who tried it.  And the more you ignore the wrongness the more your heart dies.  Thankfully, Jesus can bring our hearts back to life and set us on the right path.  I am so grateful He came into mine and cleaned it up.
13 Folly is an unruly woman;
she is simple and knows nothing.
14 She sits at the door of her house,
on a seat at the highest point of the city,
15 calling out to those who pass by,
who go straight on their way,
16 “Let all who are simple come to my house!”
To those who have no sense she says,
17 “Stolen water is sweet;
food eaten in secret is delicious!”
18 But little do they know that the dead are there,
that her guests are deep in the realm of the dead.


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Word-filled Wednesday

© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

Ok, so sometimes when I'm driving my right foot gets a little heavy, and the car goes a lot faster than the sign says it should...  It's a fun car to drive, what can I say?  But it's also dangerous.  And, well, New Jersey isn't known for it's polite and happy drivers...  The Bible says that we should "do right."  By doing right we don't get traffic tickets and our insurance stays lower in cost.  Sometimes the straight forward truth in the Bible gets me by surprise.  I honestly can't say I've never done anything wrong.  I have.  This is one of those verses I'd rather not think about...

One day I was reading these verses and realized, the police are just people, like me.  In their jobs, they take huge risks to protect us and keep things orderly.  I was driving to the grocery store and saw a Sheriff's car with his lights on in the middle of the road.  Someone had lost a mattress in the street.  His car was parked in a place where another driver could try and pass him and hit him physically.  So I pulled up along side and waited for him to get the mattress.  Once he was safe, I left.  I wondered if I was being silly and felt a little embarrassed, after all surely a Sheriff can protect himself.  At the next light, he pulled up beside me nodded and smiled real big.  Whenever I see him on the road, he smiles and nods.  It's a good feeling.

Then there was the time a woman was tailgating me so close, I could see the color of her eyes.  I went to switch lanes and side-swiped an SUV.  We pulled over and the police came.  I told them immediately, "It was my fault.  I was being stupid.  I thought I looked but didn't see him.  I'm so sorry." 

I didn't receive a ticket and since my car took all the damage the other driver told me not to worry.  I was shook up, but felt like I was treated more than fairly, mercifully.   That's what Jesus teaches, be honest, respectful, do what's best.  His ways are always true.

I took this photo last week in NYC.  The NYPD is kind of like heroes to me since 9-11.  I saw it from across the bay, and their sacrifice and bravery has left a deep admiration for what they do.  As well as the firefighters.  I purposely blocked her face, so no one would use this photo to harm her.   I had to get a shot of the NYPD.  Sadly a fire truck went past and the shot didn't turn out at all.  Maybe another day.

Challenge sponsored by Katie Lloyd Photography.

Challenge sponsored by Internet Cafe Devotions.

Monday, October 10, 2011

All who are simple

© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

I'm back!  We went to New York City on Thursday and Friday.  It was my husband's birthday. He wanted to go see the dinosaur bone museum (American Museum of Natural History).  I got some good shots:  night lights in Times Square, and Central Park.  I had planned to watch the movie, "Night at the Museum" the night before we left.  But I forgot.   It was a great time and as an artist, very inspiring.  It's true... you lose your zeal if you focus on the same subjects all the time.  I have plans for some of the photos on both of my blogs.   It's a good thing there's variety in the Bible so we don't lose our zeal!  There's a couple of books that are sort of like reading the phone book.  But it's all there for a reason, by God's design.  And there's plenty of exciting adventures and inspiring verses as well.  Sort of like a visit to the museum, if you plan your path through the Bible, it's much less exhausting and more enjoyable.  I added a link on this blog that describes how the Bible was originated in the right top corner.  I support the statement of faith on this site- it also supports what I was taught in school.  The Bible is even more amazing with an understanding of the miraculous story behind it.  It can only be the inspired Word of God. 

Proverbs 9:1-6

1 Wisdom has built her house;
she has set up its seven pillars.
2 She has prepared her meat and mixed her wine;
she has also set her table.

Jesus used wine to symbolize the new covenant between God and man at the Last Supper.   His blood was poured out on the cross so we would know forgiveness and our relationship with God would be restored.

27 Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. 28 This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”Matthew 26:27-29 NIV 

It is wise to be a servant of the Lord.  A huge honor, that He would choose us.  But He's not looking for the great and mighty for His people.  He's looking for the simple.
3  She has sent out her servants, and she calls
from the highest point of the city,
4 “Let all who are simple come to my house!”
To those who have no sense she says,
5 “Come, eat my food
and drink the wine I have mixed.
6 Leave your simple ways and you will live;
walk in the way of insight.

This reminds me of the beatitudes from Jesus' sermon on the mount.   Matthew West has a great song titled, My Finest Hour (link).  He calls Jesus "the King of Contradictions," the song always brings tears to my eyes (not many songs do this).  When we are completely down and out, according to Jesus, this will be our finest hour.  I can testify that this is true.  When I am spent and tell the Lord, "I give up."  He has an amazing way of putting me back together.  I've even tried to tell Him, in my worst circumstances, "I can't do this!  I'm just a woman!"  But He sees my heart.  He never pays attention to my excuses, and fixes what's broken.  Gives my soul a hug and strength to carry on another day.

Matthew 5:3-10

3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Word-filled Wednesday

© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

Sometimes it seems like my thoughts get me into more trouble than reality.  I get the "what ifs."  I start thinking, "Oh no!  What if I don't get my chores done today?  What if I made a mistake on my blog and it's God's Word and... Oh!  What if?"  The truth is, after I post about the Bible I surrender the blog to Him for His use.  And, honestly, sometimes He brings other things to mind, or changes.  So, you may see some changes now and then.  It's His Word.  That's what's important.

This verse is a reminder to think about the real stuff.  When things seem impossible, I sometimes just go through my "Thank you" list to God.  Here's some of mine today:

Thank You Father for
A husband that loves me
A house to live in
Clothes to wash
Furniture to dust
Carpet to vacuum
Our 2 cats
Cars to drive
Work to keep me busy
Digital cameras

Whatsoever things are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, or praiseworthy.  Life's a lot better when I focus on these.  I just realized, these are the qualities we should focus on in other people too.  Maybe let them know.

The Word-filled Wednesday challenge likes us to write the story behind our photos.  These roses were along the trail I walk on.  Each year they have beautiful blooms and I take at least one photo every year.  When I think of purity, I think of roses.  They smell so beautiful.  And the colors are lovely.  They never make mistakes or complain although they do have imperfections. 

Challenge sponsored by Katie Lloyd Photography.

Challenge sponsored by Internet Cafe Devotions.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Seeking wisdom finding Jesus Part 2

This digital painting was different for me.  I had a different concept in mind but it
just wasn't working out.  So I prayed and the image behind the cross
just happened as it did I finished the painting.
© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

The second part of Proverbs 8, continues on with a description of Jesus, God's wisdom.  It was so close to the description in John chapter 1, I wanted you to be able to see it too.  The first thing to understand is that God has 3 forms.  He is God the Almighty, He is Jesus in human form, He is the Holy Spirit who dwells among believers, He is timeless, He is everywhere at once.  He is the Trinity. This is hard for us to understand as humans.  Because all we see is today, this moment.  There's only one of us, as we live on the earth, we are limited to human bodies.  But God is our Creator, nothing is impossible for Him.

One of the most astounding things about the Bible is that the Book of John was originally written many years after the Book of Proverbs.  John would've been written in ancient Greek, and Proverbs in ancient Hebrew.  But the similarities between these passages are wonderful- like a full picture of creation.  Jesus, the wisdom of God.  In Genesis 1, God created the whole universe with His words.  If you have time, read it too.
... but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 
1 Corinthians 1:24 NIV

John 1
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
John 1:1-5 NIV
9 The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
John 1:9-14 NIV

Proverbs 8:22-36

God spoke the Word, and took on the form of Jesus.  I don't know why exactly, maybe He wanted to experience the earth the way a human would before He created mankind.  To see through human eyes.  Later Jesus would become the sacrifice for our sin.  God must've known it would happen.  Yet He still loved us enough to create us.  Can you imagine having a dream so big as this?  Creating humans He knew He would need to die for?  He loves us so much.
22 “The Lord brought me forth as the first of his works, 
before his deeds of old;
23 I was formed long ages ago,
at the very beginning, when the world came to be.
24 When there were no watery depths, I was given birth,
when there were no springs overflowing with water;
25 before the mountains were settled in place,
before the hills, I was given birth,
26 before he made the world or its fields
or any of the dust of the earth.

Now this would've been so fun to see : )  The light spills into the universe then galaxies explode with planets and suns. 
27 I was there when he set the heavens in place,
when he marked out the horizon on the face of the deep,
28 when he established the clouds above
and fixed securely the fountains of the deep,
29 when he gave the sea its boundary
so the waters would not overstep his command,
and when he marked out the foundations of the earth.
30 Then I was constantly at his side.I was filled with delight day after day,
rejoicing always in his presence,

This describes God rejoicing in man.  I don't know why we sometimes imagine Him as a stern judge in a black & white movie.  He really wants us to find Him, dwell with Him.  He loves us so much.  If I knew one of my projects would fail, I would toss it out.  But, not our God.  He never saw us as a failure. : )
31 rejoicing in his whole world
and delighting in mankind.

Jesus said:
“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
Luke 11:9-10 NIV
32 “Now then, my children, listen to me;
blessed are those who keep my ways.
33 Listen to my instruction and be wise;
do not disregard it.
34 Blessed are those who listen to me,
watching daily at my doors,
waiting at my doorway.
35 For those who find me find life
and receive favor from the Lord.
36 But those who fail to find me harm themselves;
all who hate me love death.”