Wednesday, February 26, 2014

In the Image of God: Paper Sculpture

Li Hongbo sculpts images we've all seen before, only he doesn't use traditional sculpting material.  He uses paper.  Stacks and stacks and stacks of paper.  These designs are amazingly intricate and gorgeous, and then...then they morph.  Crazy beautiful.

This first video showcases some of the sculptures on display with the museums curators showing us how they "move":

In this one, the artist himself shares a little bit about the origin of his idea and the technique he uses:

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

All Grace, All Sufficiency, in All Things

God is able to make ALL grace abound toward you; that you, always having ALL sufficiency in ALL things, may abound to every good work.  II Cor 9:8

Grace is no scanty thing, doled out in pittances.  It is a glorious treasury...a fountain ever flowing.  My want cannot impoverish that inexhaustible treasury of grace!  Myriads are hourly hanging on it, and drawing from it, and yet there is no diminution: "Out of that fulness we too may receive grace upon grace."  

Grace in all circumstances and situations, in all vicissitudes and changes, in all the varied phases of the Christian's being.  Grace in sunshine and storm -- in health and in sickness -- in life and in death.  Grace for the old believer and the young believer --the tried believer and the weak believer -- and the tempted believer.  

Grace for duty and grace in duty --grace to carry the joyous cup with a steady hand and grace to drink the bitter cup with an unmurmuring spirit -- grace to have prosperity sanctified -- grace to say through tears, "Thy will be done."

--John Ross Macduff, The Words of Jesus

No Needless Burden

Oh, blessed thought! my sorrows numbered by the Man of Sorrows; my tears counted by Him who shed first HIs tears and then His blood for ME. He will impose no needless burden, and exact no unnecessary sacrifice. There was no redundant drop in the cup of His own sufferings; neither will there be in that of His people. 'Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.'" 

--John Ross Macduff

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Sticks & Stones: Mysterious Power

The Power of Words
by Letitia Elizabeth Landon

Tis a strange mystery, the power of words!
Life is in them, and death.  A word can send
The crimson colour hurrying to the cheek.
Hurrying with many meanings; or can turn
The current cold and deadly to the heart.
Anger and fear are in them; grief and joy
Are on their sound; yet slight, impalpable:-
A word is but a breath of passing air.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Sticks & Stones: A Parable

There once was a little boy who had a bad temper. His father gave him a bag of nails and told him that every time he lost his temper, he must hammer a nail into the back of the fence. The first day the boy had  driven 37 nails into the fence. 

Over the next few weeks, as he learned to control his anger, the number of nails hammered daily gradually dwindled down. He discovered it was easier to hold his temper than to drive those nails into the fence. 

Finally the day came when the boy didn't lose his temper at all. He told his father about it and the father suggested that the boy now pull out one nail for each day that he was able to hold his temper. 

The days passed and the young boy was finally able to tell his father that all the nails were gone. The father took his son by the hand and led him to the fence He said, "You have done well, my son, but look at the holes in the fence. The fence will never be the same. When you say things in anger, they leave a scar just like this one. You can put a knife in a man and draw it out. It won't matter how many times you say I'm sorry, the wound is still there.” 

A verbal wound is as real as a physical one.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Sticks & Stones: Poison Kills

Angry words are force fed into a's not like you have set before you a vial of honey or a vial of poison and you CHOOSE the poison.  You are strapped down and the poison is shot, apart from your will, into your veins...and they reach the heart, causing a slow and painful death of  the spirit.  When you ingest poison, the body has ways of expelling it.  When it enters through the bloodstream, it eventually makes its way to the heart and brings death.  

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Ways of God

See here the wisdom of God, who can make the worst things imaginable turn to the good of the saints.  

The Lord made Joseph's prison a step to preferment.  There was no way for Jonah to be saved, but by being swallowed up.  God suffered the Egyptians to hate Israel and this was the means of their deliverance.  The apostle Paul was bound with a chain and that chain was the means of enlarging the gospel.  

God enriches by impoverishing; He causes the augmentation of grace by the diminution of an estate.

He frequently makes use of unjust men to do that which is just.  He can reap His glory out of men's fury.  Either the wicked shall do the evil that they intend or they shall do the good which they do not intend.  God often helps when there is least hope, and saves His people in that way which they think will destroy.  He made use of the high-priest's malice and Judas' treason to redeem the world.  

Yet...we silly creatures will be taxing Providence, and calling the wisdom of God to the bar of reason.  There is never a providence of God but has either mercy or a wonder in it.  He makes the most adverse dispensations work for the good of His children! 

--All Things for Good, Thomas Watson

Grace Upon Grace

By now, this story has made the internet rounds.  Probably everyone has seen it.  I already posted it on FB a week ago, but I can't quit thinking about it.

[NOTE: I previously had the video embedded but it begins playing automatically every time anyone visits the main blog page and that's rather annoying!  So...I have linked to it above.  I apologize for the inconvenience.]

Erik made a choice many people wouldn't make.  He chose not to punish to the fullest extent of the law and gain all he could to compensate for the tragic loss of his wife.  That alone was a very Christian and grace-filled decision.

But for me, the magnificence is found in his next steps.  He not only withheld punishment, but also  lavished kindness on Matthew, the very guy responsible for her death.  Matthew already carried the weight of his guilt and of the immense unintended consequences of his choice.  That kind of guilt endangers the soul, keeping it trapped in a fragile place of vulnerability.  The heaping on of punishment adds to that weight, but so does the withholding of good.

I weep at this story...and my tears are primarily for Matthew.   I know Erik lost his wife.  I know his daughter no longer has a mother.  I know he has made unbelievable sacrifices.  But I weep for Matthew...for the joy at having his burdened eased.  The one who suffered tremendous loss, for which HE is responsible, has come alongside and helped shoulder his burden.  He has been a recipient of True Grace.    

I'm not sure the magnitude of that can be fully entered into unless you have borne a great burden of guilt...guilt that deprived others of good things...of joys in their life...joys that can't be recaptured...permanent, unreclaimable losses.  When you've done that, you feel it.  You carry it.  And it is, quite simply, a crushing burden.  The JOY of mercy...the BEAUTY of grace...the RELIEF of the heaviness is anticipated and longed for, even when not expected.   I imagine the experience is glorious...and humbling.

I pray for a submissive, sanctified heart strong enough to extend this kind of mercy...and for a humble heart that responds with gratitude when that mercy is extended to me. 

Sticks & Stones: The Power of Words

Monday, February 10, 2014

Olympic Memories: Scott Hamilton

Some of the most memorable moments from my past came from watching Figure Skating.  It was always a family favorite.  The combination of artistry and athleticism has always fascinated me.  My mom and sisters and I were Scott Hamilton devotees, and followed his entire career, well beyond his Olympic years.  Here are some of my favorite routines of his:

He was 46 years old when he put together this touching routine:

One more just for fun:

And finally, this - I never knew anything about his life until today, but what an encouraging story:

Music Monday: The Devil Makes Three


Do Wrong Right

Thanks to Alicia D. for pointing me to this group!

Sticks & Stones: Wonderful Ugly Things

Yes, Words Can Kill
by Barbara Kaufmann

Wonderful things.
Ugly things.
Soar, plunge,
sting, cripple, crash.
Cost nothing.
Cost everything.
or make captive.
Paint dreams
or sculpt sorrow.
Reflections of minds,
glyphs of power
committed to paper
become the concrete,
lay the foundation,
build a life
or bury a soul.
Lift and ascend
like wings,
or slice, slash
with gleaming edge,
lay open a wound,
stab tender heart.
Grasp the stars,
cross a continent,
sink a ship,
start a war
or save a life.
Raw tissue--
bones of experience.
They are perfect
or perfectly

Saturday, February 8, 2014

An Observation From the Shadows

An Observation From the Shadows

The face of hatred is not grotesque.  
Stilled by indifference, blindness, and silence, 
The face of hatred is serene.
Serene as Death.

Sticks & Stones: From Literature

“I read in a book once that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, but I've never been able to believe it. I don't believe a rose WOULD be as nice if it was called a thistle or a skunk cabbage.” 

“Words are like eggs dropped from great heights; you can no more call them back than ignore the mess they leave when they fall.”
― Jodi PicoultSalem Falls
“It doesn't matter if you and everyone else in the room are thinking it. You don't say the words. Words are weapons. They blast big bloody holes in the world. And words are bricks. Say something out loud and it starts turning solid. Say it loud enough and it becomes a wall you can't get through.”
 Richard KadreyKill the Dead

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Sticks & Stones: Echoes of Words

Echoes of Words
by Raymond Foss

He was so right
echoing in my mind
in the sanctuary
in the power of words,
especially the power to hurt
the ability to cut to the quick
to leave lasting deep permanent scars
so hard to mend, to heal
the old saying is that sticks and stones
are the enemy
that names cannot hurt, leave lasting damage
but oh if it were only so,
if imprudent or malicious words 
were like water running off a leaf
in the rainforest, even a torrent no threat
but they are like water that erodes
reverberation, exacerbation
water that corrodes,
eats away at the foundation
the core of a person, their sense of
worth or being, a word can cause wounds
deep raw wounds
when words can save, lift up, build the body
join people across deep chasms of history
love, the source of the word, the gospel,
the good news, an equal measure of our heritage
bringing joy, happiness, comfort
these too are our choice
based on the turn of the tiller
the rudder of our tongue

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Sticks & Stones: There is a Word

There is a Word
by Emily Dickinson

There is a word 
Which bears a sword
Can pierce an armed man - 
It hurls its barbed syllables
And is mute again - 
But where it fell
The saved will tell
On patriotic day,
Some epauletted Brother
Gave his breath away.

Wherever runs the breathless sun - 
Wherever roams the day - 
There is its noiseless onset - 
There is its victory!
Behold the keenest marksman!
The most accomplished shot!
Time's sublimest target
Is a soul "forgot!"

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Stick & Stones: Life & Death

I imagine that the great majority of us, as children, heard the old familiar saying which was intended to make us impervious to the hurtful words of others:

Sticks and stones may break my bones,
But words can never hurt me.

I also imagine that most of us have grown to recognize the comprehensive lie which is embodied in that couplet.

We could have taken more than a little clue from the prolific Proverbs of Solomon regarding the tongue.

"Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing."

"The gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit."

Or from James, who warns us that:

"...the tongue sets on fire the course of nature and is set on fire from is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison."

Words matter.  The power of life and death are in the tongue.  We can destroy others by fierce words of hatred or by less-violent but repeated stings.

We can also impart life by intentional words that build up and heal.  

Words carry theological import.  As creatures made in the Image of God, our words have creative power.  Not "ex nihilo" power, but they create new realities for the receivers of them.  Will we create realities of mercy and life or of destruction and death?

Monday, February 3, 2014

Sticks & Stones: The Tongue

The Tongue

Reckless words pierce like a sword.
Repeated thrusts
Leave festering wounds
Which, invisible,
Garner no compassion.