Posts Tagged With: Christianity

We Are God’s Artwork, His Artists

A friend gave me the book, A Million Little Ways: Uncover the Art You Were Made to Live by Emily P. Freeman.

The term art is painted with broad strokes. Freeman’s scripture-based premise is that we are God’s image-bearers, his artwork, and as such, it’s our task, our privilege, our terror, to find and live the individual artistry God has placed in each of us for His glory and the benefit of others. Everyone—even Dorothy, “the meek and small,” as she describes herself to Oz, The Great and Terrible—is God’s artist.

I’ve just started the book, but here’s a sentence that stopped me in my thought-tracks:

We’re desperately afraid of desire, terrified that if we consider for too long what we most deeply want, we will be confused about which desires come from us, which ones come from God, and how to tell the difference.

Bull’s-eye!

Daring to dream is God-given. And not following those dreams might be a waste of one’s purpose at best and disobedient at worst!

This same friend once said, “Are we going to be accountable for our unopened gifts?” Hmm.

I’ve known that God made me me for a reason: allowed me to develop certain interests, skills, and passions. Freeman gives us a gentle nudge, or kick in the pants, in the direction of doing something about it.

All right then—ready, set, GROW.

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Categories: Christianity, Psychology, Writing | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

A Child-Like Heart

“Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” Luke 18:17

A little child is—jDSCF1003oyful, guileless, trusting, dependent, eager, forgiving, curious, fascinated, playful, fearless, innocent, loving.

Are those the qualities required to receive the kingdom of God?

But what if joy, innocence, and all the rest, are wrenched from the toddler by thoughtless, self-centered parents?

Some of my psychotherapy clients are wary of relationships, don’t feel much self-worth, and are afraid God won’t pay them any more attention than their parents did.

So what does Jesus mean when He says to receive His kingdom “like a little child?” We adults can’t just set aside the weight of life: can’t cut out the thoughts and feelings burned in our brains that make love and trust a challenge.

Picture a child reaching up to Mommy or Daddy.

We were all born with that innate need to be picked up and held. Then picture some big, I mean really big, hands reaching down to pick you up—fulfilling your need.

I’m no biblical scholar, but it seems to me Jesus is saying simply, “Reach up to me. Come.”

O come, little children, O come one and all,
To Bethlehem haste, to the manger so small,
God’s son for a gift has been sent you this night
To be your redeemer, your joy and delight.

from the Christmas carol, “O Come, Little Children”

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Thoughts While Reading “Knowing God”

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“WOW” isn’t quite articulate enough, so let me try and put some thoughts on screen about my reactions while reading this classic by J.I. Packer.

I just finished chapters seven and eight: “God Unchanging” and “The Majesty of God”.

“God Unchanging” addresses the dismaying disconnect many of us experience when reading the Bible.

“But as we read, we get more and more puzzled. Though fascinated, we are not being fed. Our reading is not helping us; it leaves us bewildered and, if truth be told, somewhat depressed.…

“What is our trouble? Well, basically it is this. Our Bible reading takes us into what, for us, itsquite a new world—namely, the Near Eastern world as it was thousands of years ago…

“It is all intensely interesting, but it all seems very far away. It belongs to that world, not to this world.…

“But how can this sense of remoteness from the biblical experience of God be overcome?…

“The link is God himself.”

With scripture references, Packer explains the unchanging nature of God.

  • God’s life does not change.
  • God’s character does not change.
  • God’s truth does not change.
  • God’s ways do not change.
  • God’s purposes do not change.
  • God’s Son does not change.

Then Packer concludes the chapter with a challenge, to me anyway:

“If our God is the same as the God of New Testament believers, how can we justify ourselves in resting content with an experience of communion with him, and a level of Christian conduct, that falls so far below theirs? If God is the same, this is not an issue that any of us can evade.”

Mouth agape, I turned the page to “The Majesty of God.”

Today the emphasis seems to be on the personal relationship with God. Packer and others point out that this view tends to limit God: make him small, make him seem too human.

I forget sometimes how majestic God is. He’s majesty personified. He is Majesty. Greatness. Unlimited.

Packer references God’s rebukes to us in scripture—essentially, “Don’t you understand who I am? Don’t you know the truth?”

“The rebuke is well deserved by many of us. How slow we are to believe in God as God, sovereign, all-seeing and almighty! How little we make of the majesty of our Lord and Savior Christ! The need for us is to ‘wait upon the LORD’ in meditations on his majesty, till we find our strength renewed through the writing of these things upon our hearts.”

Majesty unchanging, limitless.  This great hymn from my Lutheran childhood comes to mind.

Immortal, invisible, God only wise,
In light inaccessible hid from our eyes,
Most blessed, most glorious, the Ancient of Days,
Almighty, victorious, thy great name we praise.

Unresting, unhasting, and silent as light,
Nor wanting, nor wasting, thou rulest in might;
Thy justice like mountains high soaring above
Thy clouds which are fountains of goodness and love.

To all life thou givest to both great and small;
In all life thou livest, the true life of all;
We blossom and flourish as leaves on the tree,
And wither and perish but nought changeth thee.

Great Father of glory, pure Father of light,
Thine angels adore thee, all veiling their sight;
All laud we would render: O help us to see
‘Tis only the splendour of light hideth thee.

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The Greatest Paradox

Joy is the Lord

Joy is the Lord

The greatest paradox: our sins are washed white as snow, washed in the blood of the lamb.
I don’t get it, I’ll never get it this side of heaven, but I know it’s true.
And I’m so grateful!
Leaping with the Joy of the Lord.

“Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee,
God of glory, Lord of love;
Hearts unfold like flow’rs before Thee,
Op’ning to the sun above.
Melt the clouds of sin and sadness;
Drive the dark of doubt away;
Giver of immortal gladness,
Fill us with the light of day!”

Text: Henry Van Dyke
Music: Ludwig van Beethoven, “Ode to Joy”
Cristine Eastin © 2013
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Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Merry Christmas 2012

May the next year bring you blessings.

May you find peace and joy in spite of this crazy world.

And may you know the love of the Lord and those people He’s put in your life.

Christ's birthplace may have looked like this home.

Christ’s birthplace may have looked like this home.

Infant holy, infant lowly, for His bed a cattle stall;
Oxen lowing, little knowing Christ the child is Lord of all.
Swiftly winging, angels singing, bells are ringing, tidings bringing:
Christ the child is Lord of all! Christ the child is Lord of all!

Flocks were sleeping, shepherds keeping vigil till the morning new;
Saw the glory, heard the story, tidings of a Gospel true.
Thus rejoicing, free from sorrow, praises voicing, greet the morrow:
Christ the child was born for you! Christ the child was born for you!

Polish carol
Cristine Eastin © 2012
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Rejection #l

The wait is over. After three long months, the ten semifinalists, out of 102 entrants, for the Christian Writers Guild Operation First Novel contest were announced; the list did not include my name and the title of my novel.

Rejection #1. I can start the official count.

I’m disappointed, but not as much as I thought I’d be. I’m familiar with this process. I once responded to the psychological projective questions of—”I am___, People are___, Life is____,”  with “Life is an audition.” I have what seems like a life-long history of competitions and auditions—waiting for results. Now I wait for the critique and the score on my novel. Then I revise again.

In the meantime, I get busy. Since I now know the OFN isn’t the door I’ll go through at the moment, I keep preparing—developing my platform (social media), identifying agents for the query phase, trying not to fall off the path.

Rejection can do one of two things—discourage me and get me to quit, or galvanize me to action and improvement. I choose the latter. I remember the first time I was videotaped in preparation for a speech contest in high school and really saw my performance. I learned to welcome critical feedback and use it.

Rejection never feels good. But it doesn’t feel quite so bad when you trust the source of the rejection. The CWG is committed to helping writers do their best.

So, congratulations to the ten semifinalists. I know they worked incredibly hard to get where they are and that they’re obediently using the gift of writing the Lord gave them.

Cristine Eastin © 2012
Categories: Christianity, Writing | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a time for…well…thanks.

In between the cynicism and stress I am thankful. I know it should be the other way around. It should be—there’s cynicism and stress sprinkled in the thankfulness, but it’s tough. The world is relentless, and we people, being people, make it hard for ourselves and others.

It’s like the Thanksgiving I forgot the sugar in the pumpkin pie. Expecting dessert, I bit into the pie—and got vegetable. Ick!

I have to say, and this is politically incorrect, but the sugar and spice and anything nice comes from the Lord. If any of you readers aren’t there…if you’re willing…read the Bible, the book of John for starters, and just see…

So, I’m thankful—for Jesus—and that we don’t live where the church is persecuted…that we have enough…that I have hope: the assurance of things not seen…that this earthly world isn’t the end of the story.

This Thanksgiving we’ll have our family with us around the table—and we’ll give thanks.

Cristine Eastin © 2012
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Saudade, A Deep Longing

Saudade–I have a bad case of it. Wikipedia defines this Portuguese word as, “…a deep emotional state of nostalgic longing for an absent something or someone that one loves. It often carries a repressed knowledge that the object of longing might never return.”

Sigh.

My saudade sighs are for England.

In my mid-twenties I lived in Beaconsfield, England: halfway between London and Oxford. This was my house—minus the two-story addition on the right where the brick is darker and plus masses of tall Queen Elizabeth roses. My house must also have a new name, or no name, since one chimney was removed. The Post Office once directed a friend visiting from Geneva to my house when the friend said, “I think her house is called ‘Two Stacks’.” How quaint.

For two years “Two Stacks” was home. I arrived a young, naive woman and left with a heart full of the love of friends—a heart that’s got a chunk of it shaped like England into which only England and things English will fit.

I long to return: a longing so strong it feels as if it might pull my heart right out of my chest and stick it to some place in England.

I run back to England as often as I can—to the dreary weather, the quaint houses, the endless footpaths, the English way of life—and to friends.

Almost every day a friend and I walked our dogs here. Public access to private land gave us miles of hill and dale for the dogs to run, providing the dogs didn’t bother the livestock. The only time that almost went wrong was when I watched helplessly as a stud donkey chased my dog. Fortunately my dog ducked under the fence an inch ahead of the hoofs.

Sigh.

I long to walk in England. Tramping the sidewalks in my rabbit warren urban US neighborhood doesn’t cut it. Nor does walking the Department of Natural Resources land near my house where they’ve just clear-cut the woods to make way for a prairie restoration. “Progress!” she spat out in disgust.

Sometimes my English friend and I ate lunch here, both dogs resting under the table—the Royal Standard of England. I had already had a taste of living overseas by this time, having lived in Geneva, Switzerland, for two ski seasons, but the Royal Standard was an eye-opener. I understood why England viewed its American step-children as unappreciative of history. Part of the Royal Standard was 900 years old. I had no sense of history like that.

England has changed  tremendously since I lived there. The pace of life has almost caught up to the US, horrible blights on the architectural landscape have gone up, economic stress is rife, and the country struggles valiantly with ethnic diversity. The butcher shop that brined my corned beef for me and the butcher that gave my dog treats are gone, replaced by a huge, convenient grocery store.

Yet I can’t wait to get back. It makes me feel righted somehow—like my bones have fallen into place.

I know all this saudade silliness flies in the face of  Paul’s wisdom: “…for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content,” (Philippians 4:11). It’s not that I’m not content in the State of Wisconsin. But, for some reason, God put this love of England in me. I do know that my next novel will be set in Scotland and England. If I can’t live there in reality, at least I can live there in my imagination.

If only they wouldn’t drive on the left!

Cristine Eastin © 2012
Categories: Christianity, Psychology, Travel, Writing | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

“…Pray…and Heal Their Land.”

“If my people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14 (NKJV)
This passage made a jaw-dropping impression on me when I took Henry Blackaby‘s Experiencing God course. “Called by My name”!—exclamation point mine. What greater privilege could there possibly be?

An octogenarian friend said that what helped her memorize the verse was to think alphabetically: humble themselves, pray, seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways.

Second Chronicles 7:14 is one of those pesky “if…then” verses. “…then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

Pray for the people of the Arabian Peninsula!—exclamation point God’s.

The other knock-you-between-the-eyes thing I got from Blackaby was, “Look what God is doing and join Him.”

Okay, we did. It’s too long a story, but joining Him meant that my husband and I got involved in work that on occasion puts us in these very hot, desert countries–and we’re not hot weather people! The very short of it is that it has been an extraordinary experience.

“The Lord is…not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9  If you want to see what God is doing in the Arabian Peninsula read Reema Goode’s Which None Can Shut and follow her blog where she keeps the reader up to date with wit and wisdom.

On my last trip I met some local people through friends. When I left, I was given gifts by the women of the family—tokens of hospitality. It was a gift seeing the genuine trust and affection between my friends and this local family.

It may be hot and dry in the Arabian Peninsula, seemingly not fit for man nor beast, but it’s not a Godforsaken land. Don’t ever make the mistake of thinking that.

Here’s a link to a website: Praying Through the Arabian PeninsulaLook what God is doing and join Him.

Cristine Eastin © 2012
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Buck Up, Little Camper

We all need encouragement now and then. I think this seldom-used, maybe archaic phrase is so cute. “Buck up, little camper.” I picture a little kid getting a parental chuck under the chin. The kid’s lower lip pulls back in place, and parent and child smile warmly at each other. “Now run along and play,” says the parent.

This picture of grandpa and grandchild that I took in Mevagissey, Cornwall, England, has that sweetness about it. (Hurray for telephoto lenses.)

Today I read Christian author Jan Watson‘s blog. She talked about “recharging” in God’s Word when your battery’s low.

Here’s the verse I’ve been plugged into lately, reading it over and over—Romans 15:13, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” I relax when I get to “by the power of the Holy Spirit.” I’m reminded that I can’t get there myself and therefore don’t have to. Ah, what a thirst-quenching drink.

Then, since we are what we think, I repeat “trust, joy, peace, hope” to drill those words into my thinking and thence into my doing.

But what do you do when you’re too tired to even drag yourself to the well? Tired unto tired out. No self-condemnation, no despair. Lift your chin toward your heavenly Father for that encouraging, “Buck up, little camper.” And lean your tired head into the Father’s hand and rest.

* * * * *

BTW—to you women who love Christian historical fiction, you MUST read Jan Watson. Her series starts with Troublesome Creek. Jan is clearly anointed to write for us.

Cristine Eastin © 2012
Categories: Christianity, Photography, Psychology | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

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