Thursday, December 16, 2010

Painting Theo-logy

I am so excited about our new Children’s ministry space. We’re making great progress and it is awesome! It’s fascinating to watch each room progress. I have to admit, at first, some of the artwork was confusing and messy, but each time I go back, I see the progress and I am more and more amazed.

Saturday, I was admiring the work of one of our artists airbrushing when he looked up at me and said, “you wanna give it shot?” I said, “uh, well, I’m a pastor not a painter, and I want this children’s space to look nice, so I’ll just pass, but thanks a lot.”

This particular artist’s name is Theo (which just so happens to come from the Greek word “theos,” which is the word for “God” which makes him the first Theo) and just like God, Theo knew I had abilities in me that he knew he could draw out. So, he said, “ah come on, try it, you can do it, I’ll show you how; come here.” So, emboldened by his belief in me, I thought, “I’ll give it a shot, if I mess it up, Theo can probably fix it anyway.”

Next thing I knew, he had taught me how to hold the airbrush just right and artfully depress the trigger, releasing a mixture of air and paint while deftly swinging my hand in a precise arc that combined proximity and speed for maximum results. I was amazed. He just grinned knowingly. When you enter what’s called the Giant room (for two year olds), and marvel at the huge blades of grass, just remember, I contributed to the art work (albeit an extremely small part) of that very cool room.

It’s all because of Theo.

The study of God, his nature and character, his attributes and how he works in our world, is called Theo-logy. But God doesn’t express himself and his nature just to himself; he loves to create and then to interact with his creation, especially the crown of his creation: human beings. He is always working in us, creating and shaping and personally handcrafting in us his divine art. Like a working artist, things may look messy at first, and you may not even recognize what he’s crafting, but when it’s all done, it’s a masterpiece. The New Living translation of Eph. 2:10 says, “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” God is a master artist, utilizing his perfect wisdom and skill to bring about his purposes in our lives. He is making us like Christ.

Next time you feel like you or a fellow Christian’s life is messy or far from Christlike, remember it’s a process and to withhold judgment until it’s all done and the masterpiece is complete: Christlikeness. And when we get to heaven and finally are like Christ, we can all smile and say to each other:

It’s all because of Theo.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Tree Riding

Disclaimer: I am currently on Vicadin ES, so the coherence of the following blog may or may not be clear. I broke a rib yesterday while tree riding and I’ve gotten so many questions about it, I thought it would be a good subject to jump back into my blog with. Tree riding is when you climb a (20-30 foot) tree to the top where the trunk/main stem becomes thin and then lean out away from the tree toward the ground, kicking your feet out and letting your weight bend the tree, delivering you to the ground in an exhilarating ride. I’ve also jumped off the branch of a bigger tree grabbing the top of a smaller one nearby; same ride, just different approach.

The trick is to find a strong, healthy, supple tree (Red Maples and Oaks are best) that won’t snap under your weight and getting your feet out soon enough so you land standing up. I failed on both accounts yesterday and paid the consequences. Unfortunately, it’s hard to conclusively determine whether the tree is healthy or not in the winter, because all of the leaves are gone. So that was my first problem. But secondly, I got my feet tangled up in the small branches and didn’t get them kicked out soon enough after I started the bend and about halfway into the bend (about 15 feet in the air), the tree snapped and I fell face/chest down, landing hard and breaking my 5th rib on the left side. Ouch. I knew laying there on the ground, I had either cracked or broken a rib. I think Gideon, my chocolate lab, knew too. Not as agile as I once was.

Once I got back to the house, I did a little research on cracked and broken ribs and it seems that while there’s nothing they can do to treat rib injuries, its good to have an xray to make sure there are no further internal injuries. That meant I had to call my wife. But tree riding is one of those things I never got around to telling my wife that I did, and this turned out to be a less than optimal time to share. Later I tried to argue that there’s biblical precedence for tree riding, with less than favorable results.

The beginning of Luke 19 tells the delightful story of Zacchaeus, the vertically challenged man who was so eager to see Jesus, he climbed a tree so he could see over the crowd. When Jesus came to the tree where Zacchaeus had climbed, he told Zacchaeus to “come down immediately” (the NLT says come down quickly). That’s what tree riding is; it’s coming down quickly from a tree. See, it’s biblical. (Right, my wife wasn’t convinced either.) At least I didn’t try to use 2 Samuel 18:10: “I just saw Absalom hanging from an oak tree!”