On That Tree

I’ve been writing a little more the last week or so in different forms: getting back to journaling mostly but also some haikus. Today I’d like to share a tanka with you (which is similar to haiku but has a meter of 5-7-5-7-7) that I wrote this morning.

Humble yourself for
Mercy and grace given free
Rejoice and receive
Salvation today poor soul
Your debt was paid on that tree

Arthur Says …

The weather today, in my neck of the woods, was just beautiful. It was in the low 70s, sunny, with only a few of those little “wispy” clouds to just break up the blue sky. In fact, this evening, even now at nearly 10:30, has been just great. Yet the last several hours my old friend Arthur has been informing me that rain is on the way.

I have arthritis in a couple of my joints but the last several months my wrist has bothered me more than it ever has and more than any other place I have it. A few years ago I slipped on the ice on our back deck and fractured my left wrist: that hurt. The pain that it has caused me lately has been, it seems, much worse than the injury though.

Knowing how much the original injury hurt and how much the after effects hurt, I just can’t imagine how much pain our Savior suffered having spikes driven through His wrists and ankles. I’d never have volunteered to break my wrist or ankle; He willing allowed to be nailed to a rough cut timber cross, for you and for me. And that is only a very small part of what He suffered in our stead.

When was the last time you considered, I mean really pondered upon, just those last hours of His life and all He suffered? If you are like me, probably not often enough or long enough. Just think, while we were still enemies to God, Christ Jesus loved us to death, literally. As the old hymn says “O! What a Savior!”.

It’s Hard to Die

It’s Hard to Die

Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful (Luke 6:36).

Scripture: Luke 6:32-36

Jesus spoke many hard sayings. Is it really possible to show mercy in the same way God shows mercy? Do we really want the Father to forgive us as we forgive others? And that hardest saying of all: Are we ready to die for Him?

Jesus spoke that hard saying to those closest to Him: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Matthew 16:24). Denying self runs contrary to our times; surely I have rights! But Jesus didn’t stop with a simple moral decision. Those who would follow Him must take up their cross daily. The cross meant one thing: death.

Dealing with this theme, the speaker at a men’s retreat handed out small metal crosses. He told the men, “Carry the cross in your pocket to remind you of Jesus’ command. When tempted to be selfish, finger the cross; when tempted to sin, finger the cross. Let it remind you that you died with Christ so you can live unto Him, not only in eternity, but right now.”

The speaker had it right: We can never know joy until we learn to die to self and give ourselves to others. But self doesn’t die easily. That is the meaning in Jesus’ words following this hard saying: If you live for self, you lose your life; die to self, you come alive.

O Eternal Lord God, give me the grace to surrender self so I may come alive to You. Then show me how to bring others to Your glorious cross. In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, I pray. Amen.

(From the iPhone app “Devotions 365”.)

My Wife’s Belt

I just finished up this belt for my wife this evening. She’ll be wearing tomorrow so this less-than-ideal photo may be the only one I get to take any time soon. The stamps are Hides to Art matching cross basket and border. This is my first experience with HTA’s tools and I’m really fond of them; I figure I’ll add more as I am able (no affiliation with them, just a happy customer). The finish is EcoFlo Timber Brown with a diluted Briar Brown wash and finished off with brown Kiwi shoe polish. The belt buckle is a recycled brass one, from the belt this one will replace.

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Very Good

Very Good

Genesis 1:31 And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

In order to fully and faithfully understand the cross, we need to begin where it all began…literally. We need to go back to the Garden of Eden, where God brought His creation into being and pronounced it “very good.” Why do we have to start there? Because it’s there where we see God’s perfect will in play. It’s there where we see things the way He intended them to be. It’s there where we witness the standard of life that all of us were supposed to experience and enjoy. God did something-something very good, something that was perfect and required absolutely no revision or improvement whatsoever. Everything was in balance and harmony. Creation was perfectly in tune-from the birds of the air to the creatures of the sea, from the canvas of constellations to the grass-gilded hills and valleys. Every animal, every insect, every single thing was just as it should be. Nothing was out of place or less than perfect, including man. Imagine it: an existence without fear, without illness, without pain, without guilt, without frustration or angst. Man had a conscience that was completely clear, without spot or stain. No evil or impure thoughts, no harsh or hurtful words. Everything about man and everywhere he went was “very good.” Again, this is where we need to begin, because it’s the essence of this “very good” existence that the cross is founded on. It speaks of a reality that every human heart longs for-a return to Paradise, a restoration to a former glory that we’re instinctively and curiously aware of. The cross plays a pivotal part in getting us back to that place, to the place where we belong. Creation was perfectly in tune. Every animal, every insect, every single thing was just as it should be. Nothing was out of place or less than perfect, including man. Think about it…
– Bob Coy