Thursday, April 26, 2012

Scripture & A Snapshot

"I AM"
© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

Today I had a paintbrush in my hand.  And then this song, "I AM (link)", played on the radio.  I got all inspired.  I knew I had to do a post.  It all started with Moses.

Moses had a job to do.  For him it was unimaginable.  Lead Israel out of Egypt.  He had all sorts of reasons:  he stuttered, he had lived with Pharoah's family and the Israelites were oppressed by him.  Why would they ever trust him?  Surely God wasn't serious about this.  Sounds familiar to most of us.  "Who me?"

"Nah.  You got the wrong person God.  I'm not all th-th-that."

This story has inspired me sooo many times.  I love it.  I actually stuttered when I was a little girl.  So many times I've felt like Moses.

Exodus 4:2-5

2 So the Lord said to him, “What is that in your hand?” He said, “A rod.”
3 And He said, “Cast it on the ground.” So he cast it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from it.
4 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Reach out your hand and take it by the tail” (and he reached out his hand and caught it, and it became a rod in his hand), 
5 “that they may believe that the Lord God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you."

It's so hard for me to paint Jesus.  I don't see Him as a man, I sense His presence- His Spirit.  To me He is the I AM, way beyond my imagination.  Maybe He will use my paintbrush or camera : )  Hope you'll enjoy the song too.

Challenge sponsored by Katie Lloyd Photography.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Scripture & a snapshot

"Apple blossoms"
© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

Spring has come!  It's my favorite time of year to shoot.  Ok, I guess all the seasons are great : )  I saw some blossoms on the trees and couldn't stop shooting.  I silently prayed, "Oh Lord, I've taken photos of these same trees every year."  Then I remembered the words, "they are new every morning."  I had to smile.  Each day I go out to shoot, things are new and different.  It wouldn't be possible to duplicate a photo from last year.  I knew this was from the Bible, so I had to look it up.  It's beautiful.  A reminder that no matter where we've been or what we've done, His mercy waits.  His arms are open, because He loves us that much.  According to Jesus, we're to die for.  He longs to make our hearts new each day.

Here's the paragraph:

Lamentations 3

19 Remember my affliction and roaming,
The wormwood and the gall.
20 My soul still remembers

And sinks within me.
21 This I recall to my mind,

Therefore I have hope.
22 Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed,

Because His compassions fail not.
23 They are new every morning; 

Great is Your faithfulness.

Challenge sponsored by Katie Lloyd Photography.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Born again

When I first became a Christian in Utah, I thought everyone would be so happy.  I'd stay out of trouble and be good.  But, it didn't exactly go like that...  My first stop was home.  I excitedly told my Mom and Step-Father about my decision.  My Mom looked stunned.  "You what?"
My Step-Father told me, "You can't do that.  It's not right, horoscope is right.  Christianity is wrong."
My Mom told him, "She can do what she wants."
I became the black sheep of the family, err white sheep?  

Note:  I write the following feeling a bit concerned.  I don't want to add fuel to the tolerance war.  It seems whenever any group of people, by religion, class, race, financial or other form dominate a location, people get cast out.  It's a very sad thing. As humans we tend to seek out what's familiar and reject what's different.  Not all Mormons behave this way.  God wants us to love all. Even if they've hurt us.  My intention is not to hurt Mormons, this is simply my experience in Utah.

Next I went to my High School.  The majority of my classmates were Mormon.  I was so excited I told them, "I became a Christian!"  My friend's face dropped.  "Where do you get your authority?"
"Authority?  What authority?"  
She asked again in simpler terms, "How can you marry people in the Church?"
"I can't, the Pastor does."
"So where does he get his authority?"
"From God."
She said that authority only comes by the laying on of hands.
So I asked, "Who laid hands on the bishop?"
"Generations of bishops."
"Where did it start?"
She answered, "With Joseph Smith."
"Who laid hands on Joseph Smith?"
She quit being my friend.  I used to go to Youth Group activities with some friends.  But I was told, "I'm sorry, you can't come anymore.  You're not one of us."
So I quit.
I was sitting in class one day when a teacher stood up and said, "We can't talk about this because we have one who is not one of us in our midst."  He pointed at me.

The Mormon kids were required to attend seminary at school.  By God's grace I was never asked.  After I became a Christian, some other teenagers moved to town and came to Church.  I asked if they wanted to come to my house for lunch and Bible Study.  I led my first Bible Study.  I never made a big deal about it.
We met several times.  We never got in trouble by the school or the government.  It was hard because I didn't know the Bible very well, but we did have some good times and learned some stuff.

Then one day a missionary came to my house and adamantly told me, "We're going to put you on the hopeless list!"
I said, "Wow!  Praise the Lord.  You see, I'm a Born Again Christian.  I'd really appreciate it if you would."
He walked away dumbfounded. 

I felt like the Apostle Paul : )  I went off by myself and read my Bible, just couldn't put it down.  Was it worth it?  Absolutely!  It took me awhile to get consistent in my faith (2 years).  Lots of challenges.  But I don't regret it for a moment now.  Jesus became my joy and hope.  He gave me compassion .  He's my Lord, my healer, my comforter, my courage builder, and my best friend.  I talk to Him everyday and still love reading the Bible.

Nicodemus was a Pharisee.  He came to Jesus in the night to ask questions.  He would've faced much more than I ever did had he not done this.  The Apostle John wrote down the conversation.  It really explains how to come to know Jesus.  The conversation took place before Jesus' resurrection, so it's a perfect fit after the Easter story.  If anyone is confused by this "Born Again" business, so was Nicodemus.  

There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.”

Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
Nicodemus had been taught and lived by the Jewish law.  These words would've been very confusing for him.

Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”
Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.
We are born of water, a natural, physical birth.  To become a Christian, we are born of God's Spirit.

That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
I've heard this before, "There's something different about you." or "Why would you do that?"

Nicodemus answered and said to Him, “How can these things be?”
10 Jesus answered and said to him, “Are you the teacher of Israel, and do not know these things? 11 Most assuredly, I say to you, We speak what We know and testify what We have seen, and you do not receive Our witness. 12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? 
Jesus is talking about the other side of our reality, Heaven.  Where God's throne is.  The Spiritual realm.  We know that there is a battle between good and evil on earth.  Evil is easy to see, but it takes the Holy Spirit to help us understand how God is working good.

13 No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven. 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. 16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
Moses lifted up a serpent in the wilderness for God's blessing on the Jews when they were in battle with the Egyptians.  Each time he lifted it up the Jews would win the battle.  Jesus was crucified (lifted up) on a cross.  This was no coincidence- it was a part of God's plan.

18 He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.
All He asks for is our belief, our acceptance of Jesus sacrifice.  Some will always prefer evil or good.  I choose good (but I still mess up).  When I confess my sin, I am forgiven.

After Jesus' body was placed in the tomb, Nicodemus risked his life by bringing a hundred pounds of aloe and myrrh.  I gotta believe He came to love Jesus too (John 19:39).