Sometimes the Richest Christians Look Poor

Within the Bible, many words that we think of in one way mean another, but most seeming discrepancies — as opposed to being the result of deceit, manipulation, or dis-ingenuousness — can be reasonably addressed and understood. Take the word “rich” for example.

Ending the Day on a Good Note inspirational original oil painting 1940s nostalgia by Steve Henderson

Food, shelter, clothing, warmth — it’s easy to have these and forget that they are riches for which to be grateful. Ending the Day on a Good Note, original oil painting by Steve Henderson.

I am confident that we’re all pretty familiar with the primary meaning of the word “rich” –

Lots and lots of money — as much money, actually, as the average person deals with in paperwork. When a person says, “I want to be rich,” we envision cars, big houses, trips to tropical islands, ownership of the aforementioned tropical islands, and the ability to hire a team of secretaries to handle all of the paperwork.

That latter — someone to take care of the paperwork, would be nice indeed.

But this interpretation of rich — as materially pleasing as it seems — weakens us when we make it the priority in our lives. In seeking the world’s definition of wealth, we necessarily abandon seeking God’s version, because while a person can be rich and a Christian, the true riches of Christianity have nothing to do with money.

Please follow the link to Rich Christian, Poor Christian — Which Are You? at my Commonsense Christianity column at BeliefNet.

The Misfit Christian Book by Carolyn Henderson at amazon.com Live Happily on Less book by Carolyn Henderson at amazon.com Grammar Despair paperback and digital book at Amazon.com by Carolyn Henderson Step by Step Watercolor Success digital DVD workshop by Steve Henderson at Amazon.com

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Dumbed Down Bible Studies — Give ‘Em a Pass

Flattery is a remarkable weapon.

Though I’m not a Bible Study Group girl, someone almost caught me years ago by commenting,

Phonograph Days inspirational original oil painting of woman in Victorian House by Steve Henderson

We’re smart, we’re savvy, we’ve got rhythm, and we can read the Bible for ourselves. Phonograph Days, original oil painting by Steve Henderson.

“You’re smart.”

Got my attention, that did.

“I think you’d do great in our Bible Study for Intelligent People class,”(and no, it wasn’t called that), “because we’re looking for students who are willing to read and do research during the week.”

“You mean there’s homework?”

“Oh yes, only we don’t call it that. But there’s a good 7 or 8 pages each week to write up answers to questions. Sometimes it’s multiple choice, there are essay questions — 3 or 4 hours a week, minimum. It teaches people to be accountable.”

“Do I have to underline words and make little triangles around others?”

“Yes, there is that. It’s a splendid way to learn.”

Not for me, it isn’t, friend. I passed, compliments to my intellect aside.

Bible study doesn’t have to be an exercise in fruitless activity, terminal busy-ness, or dumbed-down “inspirational” books that encourage us to Drive Forward with a Purpose. Bible study — done with an actual Bible, on our own time, and on our own — can be exciting, exacting, and fun. Please read the rest at my Christian Post article, Trust Me: You’re Smart Enough to Read the Bible.

The Misfit Christian Book by Carolyn Henderson at amazon.com Live Happily on Less book by Carolyn Henderson at amazon.com Grammar Despair paperback and digital book at Amazon.com by Carolyn Henderson Step by Step Watercolor Success digital DVD workshop by Steve Henderson at Amazon.com

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Christians: Stop Being So Obedient

Just how obedient are Christians expected to be — and who expects them to be this way?

In recent posts, I’ve been discussing Christian submission toward leadership (Must We Obey Church Authorities? and Is It So Bad to Be a Lone Wolf Christian?), and you can’t bring up that topic without someone putting forth Hebrews 13: 17:

Dream Catcher woman at canyon with shawl cloth by Steve Henderson licensed prints at Framed Canvas Art, Art.com, Amazon.com, and icanvasart

Generally, when you stand up for yourself — at work, school, or church — you do it alone. Dream Catcher, original painting by Steve Henderson, sold; licensed prints at Art.com, Amazon.com, Framed Canvas Art, and iCanvasArt

“Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you.”

The study notes below helpfully explain,

“Dictatorial leadership is not condoned by this command, but respect for authority, orderliness and discipline in the church are taught throughout the New Testament.”

This reminds me of the statement I regularly run into:

“Jesus talked more about hell than He ever did about love,” and my response is the same:

Really? Where?

In the New Testament, grace trumps law, every time.

If you are a thinking human being who questions where, and how much of, your loyalty to give, then please follow the link to Why Standing up for Yourself — at Church — Is So Important at my blog, Commonsense Christianity, BeliefNet.

The Misfit Christian Book by Carolyn Henderson at amazon.com Live Happily on Less book by Carolyn Henderson at amazon.com Grammar Despair paperback and digital book at Amazon.com by Carolyn Henderson Step by Step Watercolor Success digital DVD workshop by Steve Henderson at Amazon.com

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Last Light in Zion — The Story of This Painting

The story of the painting, Last Light in Zion, by Steve Henderson at Start Your Week with Steve:

Like many beautiful places, Zion National Park is frequently crowded with people, and it can be difficult to find the solitude that one needs to fully appreciate the awe-inspiring landscape.

Last Light in Zion National Park inspirational original oil painting by Steve Henderson licensed prints at Great Big Canvas, iCanvasART, Framed Canvas Art. Art.com, and Vision Art Galleries

If we’re willing to walk a bit away from the crowd, we see a different landscape. Last Light in Zion, original oil painting by Steve Henderson; licensed prints at Great Big Canvas, Art.com, iCanvasART, Framed Canvas Art, and Vision Art Galleries

But there is a secret that we have discovered, through the years, about getting away from people in crowded places: we call it the Quarter Mile Rule because the average person is reluctant to walk beyond 1320 feet, and if one is willing to do this, one leaves much of the crowd beyond.

While this is especially obvious on beaches, with many ambling sorts content to stay within sight of the public access entrance onto the sand, it is also works inland, and if the trail from the entrance is steep at all, the population of users drops off well before the 430-yard mark.

So it was at Zion National Park. The Emerald Pools Trail, one of the most popular in the park, is as crowded as a shopping mall on Black Friday at the initial level, but for those willing to climb to the third pool, 1.5 miles away, the crowd significantly drops off. Indeed, Last Light in Zion, captured just before sunset, takes place between the second and third pools, and the sense of quiet meditation is achieved because very few people advanced that far.

Life is like this: in any endeavor, the majority of people are content to stay at the initial level where everyone else is, and it’s difficult to see the surrounding clearly because of all the noise and activity. A goodly number are willing to advance up the trail to the first pool; far fewer go beyond that to the second; and remarkably few are willing to keep walking, keep moving, keep trying, until they reach the third.

There is comfort in the crowd, a feeling that we must be doing something right because everyone else is, but to truly see the beauty of a place, and to truly accomplish a goal, one must be willing to strike out away from the crowd, not worried whether anyone else chooses to follow or not.

Read the rest — Classic Floral painting sold off the easel, Steve’s art at Art.com — at Start Your Week with Steve.

Last Light in Zion is available as an original oil painting, 30 x 30, through Steve Henderson Fine Art.

Last Light in Zion is also available as a licensed print at Great Big Canvas, where it posts in the Top 10, sales, for the Zion National Park Category, where it is also a staff pick.

Last Light in Zion, the print, is also available at Framed Canvas Art, Art.com, iCanvasArt, and Vision Art Galleries.

The Misfit Christian Book by Carolyn Henderson at amazon.com Live Happily on Less book by Carolyn Henderson at amazon.com Grammar Despair paperback and digital book at Amazon.com by Carolyn Henderson Step by Step Watercolor Success digital DVD workshop by Steve Henderson at Amazon.com

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Whom Should Christians Obey?

Obedience, subservience to authority, submission, docility, accountability — these concepts are so prominent, and so interwoven within many Christian circles, that you’d think they were the foundation upon which Christ taught.

The New Hat inspirational 1940s nostalgia oil painting of young woman in dress and blue hat inf front of mirror and dressing table by Steve Henderson

Part of preparing for each day is prayer, in which we seek guidance from God in how to interact with Him, and the people we encounter on this planet. The New Hat, original oil painting by Steve Henderson.

In other words, a good Christian does what he or she is told.

“Jesus was passive,” someone told me the other day, “and He taught His followers to be the same.” My speaker was expressing frustration with contemporary Christians, and Christianity, and while I agree with his assessment that followers are actively taught to be passive, I disagree that it is Christ who gives them this message.

Men say this, and they’ve been saying it for a long time.

Anne Bronte, in her book Agnes Grey, has a great quote about what men expect of other men, when it comes to obedience — and they expect a lot. Please follow the link to my article, Must We Obey Church Authority? at Commonsense Christianity, BeliefNet,  if for no other reason to read Bronte’s quote — 167 years old — that describes just how much lay people are expected to put aside their beliefs, thoughts, and independence in accepting the mandates of another.

The Misfit Christian Book by Carolyn Henderson at amazon.com Live Happily on Less book by Carolyn Henderson at amazon.com Grammar Despair paperback and digital book at Amazon.com by Carolyn Henderson Step by Step Watercolor Success digital DVD workshop by Steve Henderson at Amazon.com

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The Dangers of Staying Asleep

At my house, if you walk away from the toaster, your breakfast will burn.

Lady in Waiting inspirational original oil painting of woman at ocean near Victorian House by Steve Henderson licensed prints at amazon.com, icanvasart, and framed canvas art.

Stay awake, stay alert, stay vigilant — that’s part of living as a Christian. Lady in Waiting, original oil painting by Steve Henderson; licensed prints at iCanvasART, Framed Canvas Art, and Amazon.com.

In the same way that people in my household who want decent toast do not leave the room or drink tea, dreamily incognizant  of the evil appliance on the counter, Christians must keep — in the back of our minds at all time — the awareness that this world is not our home, heaven does not exist down here right now, and the world of men — its politics, educational institutions, corporate entities, medical establishment, legal system, media, entertainment industry — are not set up to proclaim, honor, obey, or celebrate God.

Allow me to add, in a separate paragraph for emphasis, to the list above – its religious arena. Just because a person, a denomination, a group, a magazine, a charitable organization, or a business announces that it is Christian and teaches the way of Christ — does. not. mean. that. this. is. so.

There-in is where many Christians are allowing the toast to burn, abstractedly inattentive to warning after warning in the Bible about wolves that enter the sheepfold, false teachers who promote bad doctrine, apple trees that bear Twinkies.

Please follow the link to Stay Alert: Burnt Toast Is the Least of Our Concerns, at my BeliefNet blog, Commonsense Christianity.

The Misfit Christian Book by Carolyn Henderson at amazon.com Live Happily on Less book by Carolyn Henderson at amazon.com Grammar Despair paperback and digital book at Amazon.com by Carolyn Henderson Step by Step Watercolor Success digital DVD workshop by Steve Henderson at Amazon.com

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If We Don’t Trust God Enough, Does He Still Answer Our Prayers?

Commonsense goes a long way, and if we used more of it, we wouldn’t rely on Dr. Phil, or Oprah, or, within the religious realm, the myriad of psycho-spiritual counselors writing books telling us how to live our lives to . . . tell us how to live our lives.

Child of Eden inspirational original oil painting of little girl in garden with radishes by Steve Henderson licensed prints at Framed Canvas Art and iCanvasART

We are God’s children, and we have a Father who loves us and is patient with us. Child of Eden, original oil painting by Steve Henderson; licensed prints at Framed Canvas Art and iCanvasART.

But like ravens attracted to shiny objects, we people are funny, gravitating toward media and its bright exterior, and when the right voice tells us something patently obvious, like,

“Trust is a necessary component to a healthy relationship,”

we mentally genuflect at their perspicacity. And we buy their book.

Perhaps if we trusted in ourselves more, and our intelligence, ability to ask questions, and relationship with God as a means to acquire wisdom (“If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him,” — James 1:5), we wouldn’t have to be so dependent upon the thoughts, opinions, and interpretations of others.

Those others, incidentally, are generous in giving us spiritual advice, not the least of which is, if we don’t trust God enough, He won’t answer our prayers. But is this true? I don’t think so.

If you don’t think so, either, or sincerely hope that you don’t have to be the ultimate Faith Warrior in order for God to listen to you, please read my Christian Post article, Dang: I Don’t Trust God Enough.

The Misfit Christian Book by Carolyn Henderson at amazon.com Live Happily on Less book by Carolyn Henderson at amazon.com Grammar Despair paperback and digital book at Amazon.com by Carolyn Henderson Step by Step Watercolor Success digital DVD workshop by Steve Henderson at Amazon.com

 

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When a Christian Leaves the Group

Self-defense is a good thing to know — many women wish we possessed enough simple martial arts skill that we could tumble an assailant to the ground, whimpering.

Purple Iris inspirational original watercolor of flower in meadow by Steve Henderson licensed print at Framed Canvas Art

The flower standing alone, away from the crowd in the meadow, has a beauty and dignity of its own. Purple Iris, original watercolor by Steve Henderson, sold. Licensed print at Framed Canvas Art.

But physically defending ourselves isn’t the only arena of importance, and even if we can’t find, or afford, a class on Jackie Chan basics, we can — and should — develop a means of protecting ourselves from the verbal, social, emotional, and manipulative attacks of others. Mental martial arts is within the grasp of all of us.

The other day I made a comment on an article about church culture, along the lines of,

“If you don’t like where you are, and no one is listening to you, then why are you staying? Pick up your checkbook and leave.”

The response was expected, another reader reproving,

“This sounds like a Lone Wolf Christian stance, advocating that people leave the fold.”

This, apparently, is the worst insult one can leverage against another Christian, and if you can handle getting it, then you can keep moving in your Christian life wherever Christ is sending you. Because sometimes, often actually, He calls us out of the chair, the pew, the seat, to walk on a very narrow path with Him.

Please follow the link to the rest of the story, Is It So Bad to Be a Lone-Wolf Christian? at my Commonsense Christianity blog, BeliefNet.

The Misfit Christian Book by Carolyn Henderson at amazon.com Live Happily on Less book by Carolyn Henderson at amazon.com Grammar Despair paperback and digital book at Amazon.com by Carolyn Henderson Step by Step Watercolor Success digital DVD workshop by Steve Henderson at Amazon.com

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Autumn Dance: The Story of This Painting

Autumn Dance: The Story of this Painting by Steve Henderson at Start Your Week with Steve

Autumn is a season of transition, and one of its best aspects is also its worst: one day, it can be bone-chilling cold, warning us that winter is near; and the next, the breeze is almost balmy, a gentle reminder that summer wasn’t that long ago, and even though the leaves have changed color, there is plenty of time yet for a dance in the summerhouse.

Autumn Dance inspirational original oil painting of father and daughter dancing in gazebo by pond by Steve Henderson licensed prints at iCanvasART, Framed Canvas Art, and Vision Art Galleries

Some of our most memorable moments are the ones we spend with the people we love. Autumn Dance, original oil painting by Steve Henderson; licensed print at Framed Canvas Art and iCanvasART. Limited edition print at Vision Art Galleries.

Autumn Dance captures one of these transitory moments — a first, and best, father/daughter dance during a time of life when a young girl knows that she is a princess, and her father is a king. Highlighted by light, the couple is yet in a world of their own, the birds on the water serving as their primary audience.

Someday, when the little girl is older, the dances she attends may be more formal, more established, more conventional — but they also won’t be as magical, because this is a spontaneous, unaffected event. In a time when the family is under increasingly hostile scrutiny, and when the focus is on the sad dysfunction of some, it is easy to overlook that many families still function well, fulfilling their purpose as a place of safety, haven, protection, and teaching for the world’s vulnerable little ones.

For many children, the first and best teachers are their parents, and fortunate is the young woman who learned her first dance steps at the leading of her father. He may also show her how to reel in her first fish, use a pocket knife without cutting her finger, and defend herself in a tight situation. While television and movies like to portray fathers — if they are in the script at all — as clueless buffoons, a true father, like the one in Autumn Dance, delights in the little girl that he knows will all too shortly — before many autumns pass by — grow into a strong, confident mature woman — who will always hold a place in her heart for him.

Read the rest at Start Your Week with Steve — Autumn Dance, Steve’s licensed art at Amazon.com, and Christmas Cards through GiveWrite.

Autumn Dance is available as an original oil painting, 24 x 30 on panel, with the frame included in its purchase.

Autumn Dance is also available as a licensed, open edition print at iCanvasART, and Framed Canvas Art. Autumn Dance is also available as a signed limited edition print at Vision Art Galleries, which provides fine art to conceal you big-screen TV when not in use.

As always, feel free to contact Steve Henderson Fine Artdirectly by e-mailing Carolyn@SteveHendersonFineArt.com with your questions and comments about Steve’s original oil and watercolor paintings or licensed open edition prints.

The Misfit Christian Book by Carolyn Henderson at amazon.com Live Happily on Less book by Carolyn Henderson at amazon.com Grammar Despair paperback and digital book at Amazon.com by Carolyn Henderson Step by Step Watercolor Success digital DVD workshop by Steve Henderson at Amazon.com

 

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Love without Fear — Want That?

“Jesus is love.”

How often do we hear this? If we’re around Christians, or within Christian circles, then we’ve probably heard it a lot. At the same time, however, it wouldn’t be unusual if we were confused, because, though people talk about Jesus, and His love for us, from the moment we grab a bulletin at the church door, actually living as if we believed it were true is a different matter.

Seaside Story inspirational original oil painting of girl and parent on ocean beach reading by Steve Henderson licensed prints at Great Big Canvas, iCanvasART, and Framed Canvas Art

The love of God looks a lot like this — unconditional, and complete. Seaside Story, original painting by Steve Henderson, sold. Licensed prints at Great Big Canvas, iCanvasART, and Framed Canvas Art.

Do YOU know anyone who worships and follows Jesus as if they really, really believed He loved them unconditionally, all the time, and without condemnation, disapprobation, and disapproval?

“Love cannot live with fear.”

What a great statement, although it’s not a Bible verse; rather, it’s a line from P.D. James’s Death Comes to Pemberley, a modern-day mystery that follows the life of Elizabeth (nee Bennet) and Fitzwilliam Darcy of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice fame.

Not to worry, however — there is a verse in the Bible that talks about love, and fear, and how the latter isn’t part of the former. Please read the rest of the story at my Commonsense Christianity column at BeliefNet, No Fear — Experiencing Christ’s Love.

The Misfit Christian Book by Carolyn Henderson at amazon.com Live Happily on Less book by Carolyn Henderson at amazon.com Grammar Despair paperback and digital book at Amazon.com by Carolyn Henderson Step by Step Watercolor Success digital DVD workshop by Steve Henderson at Amazon.com

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