As we are growing up and travelling through life – we look up to, and follow (in whatever way) – certain individuals, usually ones that we admire.
Mentors, those in authority over us, parents. But also those hailed as heroes, (perhaps in our own peer group), are often looked-up-too.
Successful athletes would be an example, as borne out by the aftermath of the Olympic Games.
Young teenagers imitate the behaviour of footballers, as they argue with referees or get into scraps with the opposition players.
Paul the apostle exhorts the people:
Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.
This ‘following’ referred to, could mean various things.
Wherever Christ is going – you follow Him and go there too.
Whatever behaviour Christ engages in, – you follow – you do the same.
Or like the first disciples when people were looking for Jesus, the disciples indicated the inquirers should follow them as they led them to Him.
20 And there were certain Greeks among them that came up to worship at the feast:
21 The same came therefore to Philip, which was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus. 22 Philip cometh and telleth Andrew: and again Andrew and Philip tell Jesus.
On this particular occasion we are not told if Jesus addressed the Greeks, or if they were in earshot of the next words He said. But if you follow real disciples today, they will lead you to Jesus.
Also as we listen to others expounding the Word of God, we have the opportunity, if what they say agrees with the Bible – to rise up and obey the instruction – this is also following them, and what they teach, in some cases, until you find Jesus for yourself.
Godliness produces many spiritual fruits in our lives. If we follow Christ and He enables us to reach a godly lifestyle reflecting the Person and characteristics of Our Loving Saviour then one of those fruits can be a deep contentment.
In the Old Testament when the people of God, the Israelites, where walking in a godly manner – they were under the cloud by day and the fire by night. (This refers to the Presence of God visible in this way).
In so walking correctly they were content.
When discontentment enters into our lives either through sin, unbelief, or adverse circumstances – it can be difficult to enter into contentment again.
Sometimes discontentment can lead us to many wrong choices and actions – discontentment in thought word or deed.
I have always liked the saying (as we say: ‘That old chestnut…’) – ‘I’M SATISFIED WITH A DIS-SATISFIED SATISFACTION.’
I have always considered myself a discontented kind of human being. Even when I achieve something successfully – I’m already looking for the next thing that needs achieved.
Failing to take the time to enjoy the sense of accomplishment, in the first place.
I do know this, that when the scripture ties these two together (i.e. Godliness and contentment) – it does so with purposefulness and intent.
Reaching Godliness and the heart is content. In fact nothing will produce lasting contentment apart from a living relationship with God Himself.
All subsequent discontentment that we allow to creep back into our lives, must be brought to Him and He will give us peace again.
Here are some scriptures that reference contentment or lack of it.
Jesus giving advice to Roman soldiers:
“Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely—be content with your pay.”
Paul the apostle speaking:
I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.
I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.
I would suggest the secret he refers to is a walk with Christ and the Godliness it gives.
I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
Strength is the second part of the ‘secret’. Strength from God that produces godliness and therefore contentment.
Conversely – It can be a clear sign that God is influencing you if you are a non-Christian – if you enter an emotional state you can’t quite define.
God strives with men, until the discontentment we feel as a result brings us to the realisation that we are in need of Christ as Saviour and Lord. This is a kind of discontentment to do with a convicted conscience.
Finally God says:
Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”
He has to be with us in the first place before He will never leave us
– But maybe you have already asked Him into your life?
One of the aspects of art appreciation that is overlooked, is the ‘mood’ aspect.
What ? – Moody landscapes do you mean?
No. I’m referring to the emotional state of artist and viewers alike.
It is difficult nay, perhaps for some folks, we could say, almost impossible to trace the origins or cause of mood swings.
We enthusiastically buy a piece of art. “Just love it!” Is the exclaimed conclusion when the money has been paid and it hangs on the living room wall.
But a year later they have a bad day and go ‘off-it’ completely, and set about to find a way of ridding themselves of the piece.
What do you mean that never happens?
I remember sadly, that a friend of mine bought a painting I created, entitled (I think?) ‘Couple’. It was a semi-abstract of two figures hand in hand.
She bought it for her fiancee, as an engagement present, owned by both as they entered marriage.
Unfortunately she had been duped and the partner wasn’t what he presented himself to be and the marriage ended.
She could no longer appreciate the painting and gave it away. A rather extreme example of how our subjective experiences can turn our emotional appreciation away from a formerly appreciated object.
I’m only too willing to concede also, however, that some pieces of art stay in favour throughout the life of the person who possesses it/them. Their daily experiences – good or bad – high or low – do not affect their intellectual and emotional attachment to the work.
I guess that is the ideal scenario, I’m just not convinced it is always the case.
Everyone likes a change. That’s why we RE-decorate our rooms.
As a painter I have moments of joy over what I have produced but I must confess it is sometimes short lived.
Fortunately there are works I do not want to part with. But not many.
As Christians we are not meant to live by our ‘moods’, as in – only setting ourselves to please God, when we ‘feel’ like it. But to suggest we are not all subjectively motivated some of the time, would be unrealistic.
However, if The Lord Jesus had acted only on ‘nice or good feelings’, He would never have gone to the cross.
That’s where the will of God ‘kicks in’ for the Christian. Doing things because they are right, not because we feel right.
I certainly do not claim mastery in this sphere – only that The Master (Jesus), provides the help I need.
However in these considerations, and as part of this discussion is about art, we must also allow for the fluctuation of ambiguous artistic feeling.
When an artist places his next mark on the paper, guided by an inner knowing and decision making mechanism, this can be referred to as ‘intuition’.
Put simply – an example would be – illustrated by the utterance: ‘I feel it needs something red down here…’
What do you mean ‘I feel it needs…?’
Explain that one…
There is no doubt we are all subject to whimsical feelings when it comes to taste. We get tired of always looking at or listening to the same thing. It is just part of human nature.
So I realise when it comes to my own art that those who have purchased or been gifted with my paintings may get tired of them.
The artist shouldn’t get too offended by this.
One of the fruits of the Holy Spirit in a Christian’s life is self-control.
Therefore that effects all our decision making.
In that – we are to know ourselves, and ‘collate’ our thoughts in the Presence of God.
This leads to God’s Peace being arbitrator between what is acceptable and unacceptable (Colossians 3/15).
No Christian gets this correct all of the time, but when we don’t – we run back to God for His understanding forgiveness – He understands that we are sheep that too easily go astray.
So by all means enjoy being a human being – allowed to have likes and dislikes, our own ‘taste’ buds – our individual emotional responses to the sight of the eyes.
But art dealer ‘Joe Bloggs’ having an off-day (or mood swing) and as a result rejecting your art – should be taken with a pinch of salt.
Self-control wins the day as something to aspire to. An emotional roller-coaster life, and – the car gets so out of control it heads for a crash.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.
We can be going through our daily routine. We can be catching that train, eating that lunch, doing those household chores, visiting ‘the club’, having coffee with that same old friend, doing our daily exercise-walk, and going to church on Sunday etc.
Whatever it is for you. Whatever entails the same mindsets. You can do it with much or little thought, perhaps on ‘automatic pilot’. So that at night the thought crosses your mind: ‘Did I do my exercising-walk today? Or was that yesterday?’. Showing – that you were on ‘automatic pilot’ when you did it.
Routine, routine routine.
The old lyric goes:
‘I open the door an’ the flies swarm in.
I shut the door an’ I’m sweatin’ again.
I move too fast an’ I crack my shin.
Just one durn thing after t’other.
As far as I know the title of the song is Life Gets Teejus Don’t It? (One assumes tedious?)
I look back on tremendous ‘lived moments’ with The Lord Jesus Christ – my personal Saviour. Is He yours?
Personal. Personal moments daily. Some I can look back on were very powerful. Tangible unmistakable moments of unspeakable joy! When Jesus manifested Himself to me. I am very very thankful for those personal moments, with the lover of my soul.
Then there are the quiet moments that come like a momentary gentle breeze brushing my inner man.
Glimpses – yes glimpses only – into the eternal realm.
And now we have what is coming upon the earth – in contrast.
Times of shaking, times of sorrows increasing in this world of ours, moral decline left right and centre, people dropping like flies and yet man still doesn’t ask the important questions.
Then there is Covid. And the isolation of the population. Then there is coming out and back to semi-normal. Then there is getting back to routines.
Then there is ‘Life Gets Teejus Don’t It?’.
Yes – that which is common to man – we have a routine life to live – that involves responsibility for family and friends. Responsibility to do the best we can.
Times for the Christian to remind him/herself of the wonderful things of God, even during times of no ‘open vision’.
Time in a nutshell to embrace the great truth:
4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
Time to eat drink and live the Word of The Living God. The most precious treasure in all the earth!
Something can mean a lot to an individual or to a lot of individuals.
In western society it is still (more or less accepted) that all are free to like or dislike, agree or disagree, live together in the same society even though poles apart in opinion. It is taken as a given, that taste is down to the individual.
Certain individuals are ‘thrown’ together because their tastes match.
Opinions on all subjects vary, but when they coincide and an opinion extends beyond the singular, – groups are formed.
The forming of political parties, or sports clubs, or art societies, or golf clubs, or… and so on and so on.
All these groups of individuals who hold to one common opinion or pursuit, are together adhering to a common manifesto.
Some agree that ‘majority rules ok’ is to be embraced as a rule of thumb. Hindsight they say is a wonderful thing. The Nazi Party became the ruling majority. It wasn’t a good thing.
Dictatorships destroy this commonly held belief in freedom, or so it is commonly held to be the case.
Where am I going with all this?
Inner freedom is exactly that – something inside the individual. One can live in a ‘free’ society, and yet be bound-up inside.
Bound by fear, discouragement, shyness, bound to a particular habit, bound by duty, circumstance, bound (by financial considerations) to a given means of employment, bound by sin.
Inner freedom is to do with the mind and heart of every individual.
The bible in Hebrews 2/15 talks of those who
…through [the haunting] fear of death were held in slavery throughout their lives.
Death is the ultimate border to cross. The final experience to be had. The final valley to be gone through. For many this thought of death brings bondage rather than freedom.
The thought of death for many produces slavery to fear, the fear of the unknown, in the minds of many, as described in this scripture (above).
For the Christian(s) individually and corporately – death as it is for everyone else, can be likened to a metaphorical jump from an aeroplane – the only difference being the Christian has a parachute.
1 Corinthians 15:53-55
53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
“Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”
56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
When we encounter The Christ of God in this life – and experience His Life-giving Holy Spirit – then we can be assured that there is more of the same to come, as Christ promises to be with us always – into eternity.
II Corinthians 5/5
Now He who has made us and prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave us the [Holy] Spirit as a pledge [a guarantee, a down payment on the fulfillment of His promise].
There are innumerous ways of looking at the subject and idea of prayer.
There is what is commonly known as ‘The Lord’s Prayer’ (Matthew 6/9-).This can be repeated or enacted in an emergency, at moments of desperation.
It can be vain repetition with no faith or proper understanding and yet because it is so powerful – being The Word of God – as it is, that God might surprise you and step in to answer it – even though you don’t know what you are doing, having never prayed before.
The atheist is going to experience many human dilemmas where ‘vain is the help of man’. Where many situations expose clearly their inadequacy that comes rushing to the fore.
Situations where he/she reaches rock bottom, their faith in unbelief, crumbles and they cry out: ‘God help me!”.
I consider that I have experienced many ‘variations on the theme’ of prayer.
There is the zealousness-of-youth kind of praying – fervent and loud.
There is the spiritual experience(s) aspect of prayer where you can experience God taking over and praying through you. (Romans 8/26).
There is the ‘in quietness and confidence’ kind of prayer where the believer waits on God, sensing His Presence.
There is the entering into a burden kind of praying – where we release the concern and burden we carry – back to God.
There is the God-consciousness kind of praying that can be a 24/7 walk with God. (Galatians 5/16).
There is the ‘praying without ceasing’ kind of praying where we commune with God continuously, perhaps at a time of crisis.
(I Thessalonians 5/17)
Someone once said it isn’t the long prayer, or the loud prayer that is effective – but the prayer of faith.
And in this short post, I have only scratched the surface of the subject of prayer.
The honest prayer has to take priority and is the foundational pre-requisite for successful praying.
Look up the full story of an honest gentleman in need, and how honestly he addressed The Saviour:
24 Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”
For those who can spare the time from ‘busyness’, we give thought to the world and all that’s happening in it.
If I’m honest my thoughts are not preoccupied with climate change. Like everyone else I’m aware there is need – but my desire is not first for changing the planet – but rather for seeing the hearts of men change.
This should be the priority. Because with this change many of the world’s ‘physical’ problems will disappear, as man as a result – changes his outward behaviour.
All that we know and see will pass away. Matthew 24/
35 Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.
The Word or Words that will never pass are of course all that God has revealed and all that Christ has said.
The problems that exist can be traced back to the heart of mankind.
Selfishness and greed and a great inability to distribute all the necessities of life evenly and fairly across the globe, exposes the real problem – one we all share.
We all share it – because we are born with the same ‘handicap’ – the same selfish nature.
And thus a lot of plans go awry when humans get together to do good.
There is an outward show of righteousness. An outward show of empathy or compassion, which is either pseudo, or runs out of steam.
We are also discouraged by the enormity of the problems.
As I write this I’m aware that I too need a kick in the backside with regard to good works.
The way we are separating ourselves (relatively speaking) because of Covid considerations, furnishes us with an excuse for less action.
But the church needs help, real help, in many ways.
…From whence comes my help?
My help comes from the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth.
Lord forgive us for our indolence and lack of understanding. Forgive us if we are blatantly missing the obvious. Forgive us if we are not using our faith sufficiently – and at the same time hear our cry for…
I’m assuming I am the exception that proves the rule.
To what do you refer ‘young man’?
Well, I am not a prolific reader. I am not as they say: ‘Well read’. I have not read a novel in many many years.
I read the Word of God daily of course and know what it is to saturate myself in it’s life-changing power.
I read also the odd Christian ‘theology’ book, and I also used to read books on art regularly.
I of course read the odd blog post also. 😎
But – I write a lot – I write and leave it aside for future scrutiny and don’t always get back to giving it that scrutiny.
Usually writers are good readers right? That’s the exception I speak of.
I do love words, however. Putting them together in new ways. Playing with words. Poetry – I like to keep an enigmatic element to some of it. Like my approach to art (as in painting) – I like to invent – and have fun.
But when I write on Christian teaching – I am obliged to be as clear as I can. Knowing that, regardless of how clearly I speak the truth – it will not always be understood.
The Lord Jesus had the same problem:
50 …But they did not understand what he was saying to them…
That’s how it can be with the things of God.
Everyone should ask themselves if they have searched enough, in the scriptures, to find out it’s true meaning. It is an exercise no one can do for you.
The exhortation to ‘search the scriptures’, can be either ignored, dismissed as being religiously incoherent, responded to with minds that are already made up being filled with everything that contradicts what the Bible says – or you can make such a search a long term prospect – it’s up to you.