In The Beginning

the-word-iiconPhoto of one of my bronze sculptures – ‘Genesis’ over an acrylic wet-on-wet sky background.

The koru style of the globe represents earth, its minerals, plants and living creatures.

The koru – derived from the shape of the unfolding fern frond or fiddlehead – is an important symbol in New Zealand, where we have ferns from the most minute to the towering, 45′ Cyathea medullaris, the black mamaku tree fern.  The koru has the connotation of new beginnings.

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“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. … All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.”
John 1: 1,3.

In the beginning, “before the foundation of the world”, Christ was The Word (and still is). He was the active, physical creator of all things, as distinct from God, who is the creative principle of the triune godhead.

And so it was that John,- closer to Jesus than any of the other disciples – was able to make this statement at the beginning of his gospel.    And later at the end of his life, in exile on the Isle of Patmos, it was he who was taken up to meet his Lord and experience the future, including the end times, so that the whole world might read of it in his written book of Revelation.

Patricia

http://damascusroad.news

 

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I Will Pour Out My Spirit…

joel-2-28r-iicon“And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions…”

So spoke the prophet Joel at Joel 2:28.

This outpouring of the spirit, currently very much in focus as part of the End Times prophecy, is regarded as part of ‘The Day of the Lord’…

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…and the Day of the Lord and His subsequent millennium reign on earth is also described in a beautiful passage from Isaiah:

“…Until the spirit be poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness be a fruitful field, and the fruitful field be counted for a forest.

“Then judgment shall dwell in the wilderness, and righteousness remain in the fruitful field.

“And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever.”   (Isaiah 32:15-17)

Imagine the opportunity to pursue the things you love without limitation, in the company of the mighty creative power of the universe.     What more could anyone want?

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Acrylic painting, plus digital.

Artwork and Products available in my Damascus Road Gallery. Or click on the images.

Patricia

http://damascusroad.news

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After The Tempest

after-iiconIt’s just over a fortnight since my roof got barrelled by a tree.  At the time, I looked at the damage and wondered if the place would ever be the same again.

The guttering, the fascia and the soffit were smashed, and three runs of roofing iron bashed out of shape.  One of my rafters was damaged, and the top of a sheet of gib board inside the main bedroom had been cracked.

As I said in the earlier Tempest post, the damage was a whole lot less than it could have been, and when I think of the 3 ranchsliders above, 2 large windows below, the deck, and the deck railing all unharmed, I was and still am so grateful.

I got in touch with a roofer who lives over the road, and he got in touch with a builder.  But before they came, I had the arborist back to deal with another tree behind the house that was potentially even more dangerous than the Banksia had been – one of 5 fancy conifers planted by my parents in the 70’s on the edge of a stand of cryptomerias.

Four of these conifers were already gone – one blown naturally and three others I got taken down about 9 months ago.  But THIS conifer was the big problem.  It was as tall as the cryptos, had all its weight on the outside – ie facing the house, and being in close proximity to the roof was definitely not going to be easy to deal with.

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It would be perfectly true to say the tree came down exactly where it was planned to fall.  But that bland statement overlooks the breath-stopping display of tree climbing and branch cutting that preceded the final felling. It was at this point, when I looked up from the back porch at the naked trunk of this tree, that I truly realised how dangerous it was.  (The bottom of the trunk in this photo is masked by fallen branches.)

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A cable had been run from the trunk, through a pulley attached to a tree on the opposite corner of the garden and down the side of the house to a vehicle that would exert a pull in the right direction.

A scarf was cut, wedges were placed, and with the final cut and co-ordinated pull from the cable, the tree went down as planned.  Thank you, AB Trees, for a magnificent job!

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Over the following days, the buider and roofer came and went, getting in supplies, stripping off the house debris, and rebuilding the damaged section of the roof.  The builder is coming back to do a small cladding job for me on the back of the house, and to take away the building rubbish. I am very pleased with the job they did.

Men will be coming to cut up the trees and take them away for firewood.  As usual, I’m not sure exactly when.  (Aaargh!)    Meantime the back and front gardens are like a bomb site – full of fall-out and ringed trunks.  And I’m supposed to be getting this place ready to put on the market!

Trust in the Lord…

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One of the great things about this whole episode is that it has put me in touch with some good tradesmen.   Well – “In all circumstances give thanks…”  (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

And at least when the wind blows I don’t have that worry anymore.

Patricia

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Where Were You

job-38-iiconThis was not, of course, a question – it was at most a rhetorical question.  A reminder of who we are and Who the Almighty God is.  A call to sanity, if you like.

We know the trials Job went through – and they were huge.  Almost more than any human being should be asked to bear.  The loss of everything – wife, family, possessions, home, business.  Ill health, reduced to dust and ashes.  And if that wasn’t enough, three of his friends who came along to ‘commiserate’ and, as can be the way with friends and enemies alike, ended up dumping their own prejudices and making the whole thing so much worse.

But, reduced as he was to nothing, Job stood strong on what really is the most important thing in this short earthly life – faith in his God.  Throughout all the many trials, physical and mental, his faith did not waver.

And one would think that having proved his faith in these ultimate tests, he would have been entitled to an answer to the one question so many ask, so often:

“Why?”

He didn’t get his answer.  That answer is not available to us in this earthly life.  And there is no reason why it should be.  Instead, Job got reminded of his place in the scheme of things vis-a-vis the One he was questioning:

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“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?
Tell me, if you understand.
Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!
Who stretched a measuring line across it?
On what were its footings set,
or who laid its cornerstone—
while the morning stars sang together
and all the angels shouted for joy?”   (Job 38: 4-7)

With all our intellectual achievements, we forget that our knowledge and understanding are not those of The Creator.  A good look at the sky on a clear, starry night, and a very small appreciation of the intricacies of balance that set the universe in motion and keep it moving in its age-old pattern are enough to remind us of far greater forces than we have at our disposal.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.”  (Isaiah 55:8-9)   …

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The Father, like human fathers at times, does not answer all questions.  And while that can be hard on His children, life is not intended to be a bed of roses.  We cannot be forever fed on milk.  If we respond correctly to those trials that come across our path, we will come to realise that the hard knocks bring us closer to the true heart of the Father – which is LOVE.

And while the hard knocks of this life are but for a season, the Father’s love is for eternity

Patricia

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Trust In The Lord

trust-iiconHow often do we hear this phrase?  Almost to the point where we brush it off without thinking too hard or without really applying it when we should.

Then when big trouble comes along, we start scrambling around looking for worldly resources and human help.  It’s as if we look upon the supernatural powers of the Heavenly Father as something not really strong enough to cope with the physical issues of this important human life that we lead.

How wrong is that?

The problem is not that God’s arm isn’t long enough to reach into our lives – it is that we do not ask properly.  James knew the answer to this.  Speaking within the wider context of human desires he said:

You do not have because you do not ask.   When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”  (James 4: 1-3)

We either fail to ask because we do not trust God, or we offer prayers that are in fact laundry lists of the things we want.  How rude!

If we genuinely submit our lives to Him, then He will ensure that our needs are met:

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“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not to your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.”   (Proverbs 3:5-6)

In fact, He knows what we need before we ask Him – and it isn’t always what we think we need, either.  And therein lies the bind.

Are you really willing to hand your life and your needs over into His care?  If you are not, if you want to keep control, then He will simply take His hands off and let you carry on.   That is when people complain that their prayers are not being answered.

Remember that Jesus said, “ For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.(Luke 9:24)  

Jesus wasn’t saying He expects everyone to die physically for Him – he was saying we need to die to the things in our lives, to our selfish desires and self-important egos.  And THEN we will find the joy, peace and victory of a life in Him.

That   Takes   Faith   And   Self-Discipline.

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Artwork and Products available in my Damascus Road Gallery. Or click on the images.

Patricia

http://damascusroad.news

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The Tempest

tempest-iiconThe September (spring) equinox is approaching.  Equinoxes for us are times of strong gales.  Well, it’s started already.  We have just had about 3 days of very strong winds and rain.  Never a good combination.

On Friday night things came to a head.  As I sat up in bed at about 9pm reading, I heard the unmistakable sound of a tree folding up – the crackling, the slow whoosh.    This was followed by several very loud thumps and bangs.

A tree had fallen, most probably on my roof.

It was very dark and to be quite honest, I was almost afraid to go look – afraid of what I might see.  I live alone, so no-one else to send, no ‘moral support’.  Except for the Lord.

I picked up courage and the small torch.  It felt a bit like ‘putting on the armor’ (Ephesians 6: 13 -17).  Venturing out through the carport, I could just make out a great deal of foliage piled up against the lower house wall about 10 feet from where I had been sitting.  Something above banged from time to time in the wind.  Obviously, the main damage would be up there, and I wasn’t going to investigate.  At least the rain had stopped for the meantime.  “Get back inside”, I thought, “there’s nothing you can do right now.”

A swallow from under the carport decided morning had come and fluttered about my head, drawn by the torchlight.   It flew with me into the entrance hall, so I shut off the house light and went outside again, hoping it would follow.  It did – whew!  Nice to have the company, though, in a time of stress – a message from the Holy Spirit, perhaps.  “Yea, the swallow has found her a nest and the sparrow a place where she may lay her young –  even at thine altars, O Lord.”  (Psalm 84:3)    I really shouldn’t let these birds nest in my carport, but I do.

Back into bed.  The only thing to do is wait on the dawn – and seek His face.  With all my heart I reminded The Father that He was still on the throne and very much in charge (He didn’t need that reminder, but I sure did).  I prayed that whatever had happened, I would thank Him for his mercy and see His hand in the event.  I prayed that the rain would hold off (more forecast for Saturday).   I carried on praying in this vein and finally fell asleep.

Morning came.  At least the wind had dropped.  I felt strangely calm – if a bit shattered.  Gathering up courage again I went outside, asking the Lord to be with me.

Oh yes – it wasn’t good:

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Photo taken 7.30am – I have outlined the upper foliage of the tree.

What next?  It’s Saturday morning.  I have no insurance, so can’t ring a company and hand the issue over to someone else to deal with.  Just hope I can afford this without totally running through my small reserve of funds!

Something had to be done right away.  It was still only about 7.30am and it sure didn’t feel good to ring people at that hour on a Saturday.  But I rang my neighbour over the road, who has agreed to do some paid chainsaw work for me.  No reply, so I left a message.  Then I rang an old friend down the road.  He was out but I got his partner.  She was brilliant – gave me the names of an arborist (new to the district) and a roofer.

I rang the arborist and he came right away.  A very nice guy called Brian Fletcher of A B Trees, with heaps of experience and an ethic of service to the customer.  What a nice change!  What a miracle – it can be very hard to pin down contractors up here, as my father found over 40 years ago and I have found many times since.  It’s something to do with fishing and boating, and trying to stack up as many jobs as possible🙂.

Chopping branches as he went, Brian walked up the trunk onto the roof and started cutting back up there to get the weight off.  The root ball was then supposed to lift the tree slightly and make it easier to deal with.  That didn’t work and he found this very tall Banksia tree in fact had precious little root run.  Thank goodness I hadn’t known THAT over the years!

Brian mounted his next strategy from the veranda, cutting back stubs and branches further down.  One nasty moment came when the tree settled slightly, but in fact it couldn’t move very far.

Then back down to ground level where Brian said the only option now was to undercut the trunk, and let the top part fall. hoping it would not do damage on the way.

I told him I was going to pray, and shot into the house praying strongly, calling upon the Lord to have His hand on this last episode.  The chainsaw howled.  Then silence, followed by two loud bangs.

Back outside, I peeped round the corner.  Brian was smiling.  “You did well there,” he said, “It dropped just where it was supposed to and fell neatly parallel to the house.”  Glory Be!!

He took out a silver fir I had foolishly planted nearby, years ago, and ringed up the trunk of the Banksia.  Then we went to have a look at another problem tree that he’s going to deal with next week.   It was all over by 11am.

I can’t count the number of things I need to be grateful for.

Although there is damage to the roof, guttering and soffit, that is actually in quite a good place for repairs.  The concrete veranda and wooden railing are unharmed and not a single pane of glass was broken.  Truly amazing for a house that has 3 ranchsliders all along the front upstairs, and two large windows down below.

Praise You, Heavenly Father!  Not only for your hand on the accident and the clean up, but also for sending such a good contractor!  Please go with me now on the next stage…

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”  (2 Timothy 1:7)

“It was good for me to be afflicted
    so that I might learn your decrees.”   (Psalm 119:71)

And it still hasn’t rained.

Patricia

http://damascusroad.news

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My Sheep Hear My Voice

sheep-iiconEarly morning at the most famous church in New Zealand, and certainly the most photographed. This is the Church of The Good Shepherd on the shores of Lake Tekapo in the wild mountain country of the McKenzie Basin in the South Island.

The church was built in 1935 by a number of families farming remote hill stations in the area, originally for their own use. It has a large window behind the altar that looks out on the mountains across the lake.  Clearly, those farmers saw the magnificent country around them as evidence of the Creator’s hand, and they wanted to be reminded of that as they came to worship.

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Jesus (The Good Shepherd) said,  “The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”
(John 10:2-4, 27)

He also said (at John 10:11), “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”

And that is exactly what He did.

Even now, the world has not come to a full realization of what that means.

He saved every one of those who will follow Him once and for all by paying the ultimate price on the cross.  That offer of salvation is still open, and as spiritual beings we all have an eternity of life ahead of us.  How are we planning to spend it?

So many still rush blindly to destruction, thinking only of the first death, the death of the body.  Thinking, “Once that’s over, it’s all over.  May as well get the max out of this life.”  How foolish that is.  For there still remains the second death, which is the lake of fire where all who have chosen to separate themselves from God by their sin and ungodly living will dwell for eternity.

Jesus made it clear, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep…      I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.”  (John 10:7, 9)

But He will not allow sin and all its ramifications into the New Heaven and the New Earth.  Once was enough.

Think on it.

Patricia

Artwork and Products available in my Damascus Road Gallery. Or click on the images.

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