Monthly Archives: October 2012

The Theology of Enough

I have a hard time understanding how people who live with so much, as we do, think that they can get by without judgment when people live like this (at a Guatemala city dump). Some people choose poverty. But there are people right here next to us that have not chosen this. And if we turn our backs on them, we are turning our backs on Christ. -Rich Mullins

I want to talk about something that has been burning in my heart for a long time now. First let me give you some back story - For years I had the false mindset that the direct result of faith in God was prosperity, safety and comfort.

Then my husband went to Kenya, and God completely shattered that way of thinking. Kent saw people who had nothing, yet their faith in God was so rich, so beautiful, so sufficient – it wasn’t just something that fit neatly into their lives – Christ was EVERYTHING to them. Now I can see how spiritually poor I was compared to these amazing Christ followers. I had unknowingly made idols out of my comfort, my safety and my possessions.

So in the last 4 years, we have slowly down-sized our house size by 75%. We have pared down our possessions by giving things away. We live a bootstrapped life – we rarely go out to eat, we don’t go see movies or shows, don’t go on vacations, you get the point. All this to say, downsizing was something necessary for us to do so we could release our grip on self-gratification and material things. I don’t say this so you can pat us on the back, I don’t even share it with the hope that you will do the same. I simply invite you to dream with me for a moment.

Poverty was not created by God, but by you and me – because we have not learned to love our neighbor as ourselves. -Shane Claiborne

What if all who profess Christ and believe the Bible would actually do what it said? God is very clear about taking care of the poor, the widow and the orphan. God’s commands to Israel were so extensive that they were designed to eradicate poverty. (Deut. 15:4) God was then furious over Israel’s failure to care for the poor and the oppressed. (Isa. 58:1-3, 5-10)

In the book, The Irresistible Revolution, Shane Claiborne says, “We need neither the gospel of prosperity, nor the poverty gospel, but the gospel of abundance rooted in a theology of enough.” This is taken from Exodus where God commanded the Israelites to only gather what they could eat, and no more (Exo. 16:16) and of course from the Lord’s prayer, “Give us this day our daily bread.”

There is enough for everyone’s need, but not enough for everyone’s greed. -Gandhi

In the early days of Christianity, when there was not enough food for everyone to eat, the whole community fasted until all could come to the table together. This kind of boggles my mind. We are so far from this model of doing life with our brothers and sisters in our self-serving culture.

“Does God’s dream look like Wall Street?” If everyone lived the American dream, we’d need four more planets. Can the world really afford the patterns that we’re living in? -Shane Claiborne

The theology of enough. It is something that my husband and I are still working on – we still blow money on crap that we don’t necessarily need. But the hope is that the grip will loosen more and more.

God’s love for you and God’s love for the larger world in need cannot be separated. God’s longing to see you liberated for life that really is life can’t be neatly pulled apart from God’s longing to see the poor liberated for life that really is life. My friend Nate, who works with Compassion International, sees this pretty clearly. Nate will be the first one to tell you, “Compassion’s work, releasing children from poverty in Jesus’ name, is releasing me from wealth in Jesus’ name.” If your life is anything like mine, God longs to set you free from addiction to pleasure, appearances, busyness, consumption, envy, greed and self-absorption.  -Margot Starbuck

What are your thoughts, friends? Do you struggle in this area?

FTM October Illustrations

The October illustrations For the Makers were all about black and white – so just pen and ink drawings with a touch of color from Photoshop. I love how they turned out, simple and clean.

Check out all four of the October projects at For the Makers.

Simplicity is something I’m falling more in love with – aesthetically and just life in general. The leaves are starting to fall from trees around here, and I pointed it out to our 3 year old and he said, “we’d better put them back!” No, I tried to explain. God made our world in such a way that it makes for itself a clean slate. No lush trees or foliage for months, just stark lines and dull greys. I’m learning to love this time of year, just because it’s necessary. Simplification = future growth.

Nostalgic for God

I recently came across a guy named Sam Mahlstadt’s blog, then his book, Creative Theology ($10 for the eBook). The book is wonderful, and it was a huge breath of life-giving air for me to read someone that is passionate about the gift of creativity, and our role in creation.

A response to beauty is a response to the Artist.
A response to creation is a response to the Creator.

The big idea is that when we encounter intense beauty, even though we know and understand that we cannot adequately describe what we feel, we have to proclaim what we see and feel because it is the only way to respond. – Sam Mahlstadt

Following the breadcrumbs, I then came across this video of storyteller, Ian Cron talking about beauty. In it, he quotes John Paul II -

Great art makes us nostalgic for God.

Yes. And I would say that beauty makes me nostalgic for God. This is how I discover God. I see Him in his Word – but I also see Him in people, when I hear a beautiful choir, or when I’m exploring the world around me. And even when viewing the tiniest bits of earth that seem to be teeming with life (because they are).

 

But I love what he says when asked, “What is breaking your heart?”

Sometimes beauty breaks my heart. I’ve had moments in the presence of beautiful music or beautiful dance or beautiful poetry where, like an egg, I’m just cracked and poured out. I’m just brought to silence and can weep because it makes me nostalgic for God. That universal desire for redemption. And when you touch that place in the human heart – that’s heartbreaking. In the best sense of the word. So not all heartbreak is bad. Some of it is just exquisite – exquisitely, beautiful pain. -Ian Cron

 

Please, watch the video. It’s worth the 5 minutes.


 
Do you feel the same way?

Dirt & Diety

There are some days I wake up with an extra special passion for my day. I want to do it all – cook really excellent meals, create things with my hands, paint, love on my neighbors and family – today was one of those days.

I’m in the beginning of a 36-week study of Genesis. I don’t think I’ve ever spent the time to go through the first two chapters verse by verse with scrutiny. The first chapter is amazing of course, which is like viewing creation through a telescope. The second chapter views creation through a microscope and lets you in on some of the detail in which God created.

I’m noticing how the Lord bent down and made man out of the dust of the ground with care, like a great sculptor.

How he personally planted a beautiful garden, like a master gardener.

How he made beautiful trees with delicious fruit and created a sweet aroma there, like an atmospherics expert.

Today’s painting: Oil on canvas

Why did he do all this? He did it for us. For us to find pleasure in it. For us to see His glory in it and point it out to others. And man was the high point of his creation, even though He knew we would fail. Human and fallible, dirt yet deity. Wretched and beautiful. And I have a higher respect for work – God gave Adam the work of tending the garden. It was supposed to be joyful, creative, meaningful and fulfilling. With Christ, I think our work can still be this for us.

I love what Olympian Eric Liddell said – “When I run, I feel His pleasure.”

When I create, I feel His pleasure. And I’ve discovered if I’m in this frame of mind with everything I do, I can find new meaning in even the most mundane tasks because He can be in it. Even the dishes.

God created everything – food, marriage, art, music – as sacred, to glorify God. -Josh Kouri

DIY Wood Jewelry Holder

I love junk wood. Every month my neighborhood has big trash day, and I’m always shocked at the huge heaps of junk that make it out to the curb. My mother is the one who taught me to dumpster dive. I have no shame – I find many treasures from these piles. Out of the monstrous heaps of discarded wood, there is usually one or two pieces that (to me) are beautiful in it’s aged and desecrated state. This piece was just perfect for making a little necklace holder. So I rescued it and here is how it turned out.

Months ago when I was having some fun with dimensional paint for the Martha Stewart craft article, I experimented with a dot stippling method that could make some interesting designs. So I took that idea and tried it freehand on the wood in a diamond pattern and loved the results.

So all you need for this project is a an old piece of wood, 3-dimensional paint, and some hooks to screw into your wood, and a little elbow grease to screw them in. And whatever hardware on the back you want to use for hanging. Very simple and very inexpensive – my favorite combination.

 

10 Years of Marriage, Illustrated

I recently got an email from a reader that had an 11th anniversary coming up – a special one considering that her husband had a rupture in his brain 2 days before their 10th anniversary last year and they spent it in the neuro ICU as he underwent brain surgery. He’s been in an intense year of recovery, but thankfully, he is doing great. She had seen the little illustration I did for my husband on our 8th year anniversary last June and thought it would be a special gift to him to do something similar. Here is how it turned out.

It’s amazing to see what two people can go through together in 10+ years and still be…together. And still be celebrating. And still be strong. Happy Anniversary Kim and Marc! May your best years be yet to come!