Gratitude List 1229

(1) Though I only got about an hour and a half of sleep before I woke up and couldn’t get back to sleep, I’m still very thankful that it’s been seven days now and I’ve not gone into sleep paralysis.

(2) I was able to get a large tube of toothpaste and a bottle of shampoo for free at the Co-Op in the box of things they take to the Food Bank.   Also, I found a brand new toothbrush in my backpack that I’d forgotten about.

(3) Really looking forward to calling my friend Danielle, and to talking with her for 45 minutes between 4:45 and 5:30.  I’ve missed the last four times due to sleeping in, and it’s left a bit of a void.  I very much gain from this early morning fellowship.  It’s been a tradition now for a long time.

(4) My daughter has connected with a writing coach whom I regard very highly, Lauren Sapala, and Lauren has promised to read a book she has written, called Secrets Held Too Tight to Keep.  

(5) As of this morning, I believe my unhealthy attitudes toward money are being healed.

(6) For the second time this year, just when I ran out of reading glasses, I found a nice pair of dollar readers sitting on a bench, and they suit me perfectly.   

(7) I was able to cry during the church service, though not a whole lot.  Still, it’s a start.  I hardly ever cry, but the times when I’ve gotten in touch with the deeper feelings, I’ve cried in torrents.   It’s always cleansing when I do, and it helps me to move forward once again.

(8) I’ll probably have two new piano pieces for you later on in the week, as soon as I get them off of that guy’s smartphone and upload them onto my youtube channel.  I recall they both came out very nicely.

(9) Letting go off the past has always been very difficult for me.   But it’s become clear that I really need to count my blessings and look forward.   That said, there are some pretty substantial potential blog posts hidden in some of the very long emails I have sent to those who have ceased to contact me.   The words I wrote are still valuable.  I only wrote them to the wrong people.

(10) Training for window washing at 6am, should make some money in cash before 9am, when I have to go to the hospital and finalize my volunteer position.  The volunteer position, by the way, is that I will now be playing piano regularly at the entrance to the Courtyard Cafe — in the hospital where I was born.   Stranger things have happened!  And the Lord Himself moves in strange and mysterious ways.

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The Poor Oppressed

If you see the poor oppressed in a district,
and justice and rights denied,
do not be surprised at such things;
for one official is eyed by a higher one,
and over them both are others higher still.
The increase from the land is taken by all;
the king himself profits from the fields.

Whoever loves money never has enough;
whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income.
This too is meaningless.
As goods increase,
so do those who consume them.
And what benefit are they to the owners
except to feast their eyes on them?

The sleep of a laborer is sweet,
whether they eat little or much,
but as for the rich,
their abundance
permits them no sleep.

I have seen a grievous evil under the sun:
wealth hoarded to the harm of its owners,
or wealth lost through some misfortune,
so that when they have children
there is nothing left for them to inherit.

Everyone comes naked from their mother’s womb,
and as everyone comes, so they depart.
They take nothing from their toil
that they can carry
in their hands.

– Ecclesiastes 5:8-15

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The Love of God in Art

Recently, as I was trying to get a handle on the concept of the “love of money” being the “root of all evil,” I naturally turned to these Scriptures:

For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. – 1 Timothy 6:7-10

As I was pondering how common it is for people to be lured into money worship in our society, and to place the love of money before the love of God, it suddenly dawned on me that I know plenty of “starving Artists” who place the love of Art before the love of God, and even before the love of money — otherwise they wouldn’t be starving.  This bothered me for a bit.  Where in the Bible is this dynamic addressed?  On the one hand, it seems rather noble to let yourself starve for the sake of something you love.  On the other hand, one doesn’t generally accomplish great things on an empty stomach; and no having starved to death accomplishes anything at all. 

Then it dawned on me that the Bible does indeed address this dynamic.  For the Artist intent on creating some great work of Art is in essence no different  from an architect building a house, or a homemaker creating a home, or any other person trying to achieve the completion of a project through which one hopes to find fulfillment in life. 

By wisdom a house is built,
    and through understanding it is established;
 through knowledge its rooms are filled
    with rare and beautiful treasures. 

– Proverbs 24:3-4

There is a right way and a wrong way to go about anything.  The right way is the wise way; and it is not wise to prioritize the creation over the basic needs of the person attempting to create it.  In Art, this would be true of a piece of any content, whether its purpose is to glorify God or not.  If the Artist intends to glorify God, then it is also unwise to prioritize the creation over the Creator.

Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. – Psalm 127:1

Whatever it is that I am personally trying to accomplish, I would be wise to hearken to the words of Jesus:

Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash. – Matthew 7:24-27

Why build my house on the shifting sand, only to watch it collapse come rainfall?  Far better to build my house on the Rock — and the Rock is Christ.