Saturday, January 12, 2013

Guest Author For This Post: Maria Rachinskaya from Russia

“However when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”

Luke 18:8

As for me it’s probably one of the most stunning questions that Jesus has ever asked. The Lord, the Creator came to His people and became one of them, some of the most devoted ones were with Him during three years listening every His word and learning from Him… and after that He wondered if people believe in Him, if there is the faith on the earth.

Let’s imagine… what if He decided to just come again to us to find the faith among people as He went down to Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 18:21). What would He find?

I thought about my country, people around me, my church and me. How would we receive Him? Unfortunately, I started to realize that an idea of near God involved to the lives of His beloved people is hard to be understood in Russia. For a long time Russian thinking has been affected by Orthodoxy.


As the world goes a huge part of Russian people consider themselves being orthodox while prevailing part of them confine themselves to knowing some religious ceremonies and celebrating Christian feasts according to worldly traditions.

 No doubts there are a lot of sincerely believers among the orthodox people but I would like to give some thoughts about the influence on those who don’t want to come closer to God. What do people learn from Orthodoxy? There are great amount of the Saints who are believed to be intermediary between people and God. It may seem that God is too busy for taking care about His sons and daughters and too independent, emotionally distant from His people.




  In Russian people‘s mind God is he to whom you would go only in the exceptional case. Many rites need to be followed if you have troubles. It probably doesn’t concern people’s hearts, there is no need to cooperate with Him: do what you are said and wait for the improvements in your life. This leads those who sincerely come to the Lord are far from identification themselves as “chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation” (1 Peter 2:9).




God seems to do not deal with the ordinary people as you and me, only the priests can dare to come nearer to Him. There is another side of such understanding. Once you want to be closer to God you decided to deserve His attention, try to earn His grace. It’s still difficult to me as well to refuse an idea of earning His love by self- righteousness.




 Being a protestant I can sometimes observe the following idea in believers around me and in me as well: no matter how hard you try, you can do your best… however you will still feel ashamed before the Lord, you won’t feel forgiven and beloved by God because you don’t really realize that God desires relationships with you to death, He is not passive and in Christ He became near.


At the moment I would like to reflect on this: why after Christ’s death and resurrection, after Him being one of us, as close to us as He can be, after all that He did, He is still so distant? May be there is really no faith in our hearts? For a lot of Russian people God is either too busy or too angry at people. In both cases He is practically inaccessible.


If He decided to become person again, if we saw Him in the flesh would we realize that He is near? that He doesn’t need our services? that He loves us with all His heart? would we answer His Love with all our passion, with all our soul, with all our mind and with all our strength (Mark 12:30)?


When the Son of Man comes to my country, to my church, to my family, to me… what will He find?


  You can find +Мария Рачинская on Goggle


Friday, January 11, 2013

Enjoying Everything II

Teaching our children to appreciate God's gifts in creation and what we can learn from them is vital...and also that they learn to love absolutely everything about God and what He's given us. Everything! As going to church/fellowship, praying and seeking God's face, studying the bible and being a witness are really important things to do...however, when we walk out the church doors, or out of our prayer closet, God and what relects His awesome nature is still around us. To convict the world, and to teach and inspire us!

Enjoy God's creative works! They are truly wondrous...and no matter our varying opinions about how best to care for (or use) them...we have to admit that God's extraordinary creation continues to amaze!! But, since creation reflects it's Creator, then what else is new?


Included here are some of my lame attempts to create colorful animals....but, one can never outdo God! You'll also meet Koko, an amazing bird, smart dog and picture of a real moth that looks like a teddy bear.

                                Click to enlarge


                                       Inspiration: The classic story "Charlotte's Web" 





Enjoying Everything About God and His Written Word I


I believe not one tittle of scripture, or one ounce of God's creation, or one area of our Savior's life or what He taught should ever be ignored. I'm not saying we should try and be hyper-vigilant -- oh, no. But to always have our hearts open to God as He teaches us how to live free...and to not allow our fears and superstitions to dominate.



I learned early on, thanks to great bible teachers, to be very careful about grasping at all the waves of doctrine that regularly fly around. I look back and remember the various ideas people believed...and spread! Yikes! 



"Greater is He that is in me, then he that is in the world" This is not just a nice sounding is true. I see Christians today have more fears than ever before...well, in my Christian lifetime anyway.




"Don't touch this and don't go there and don't buy that and don't think like that!" St. Paul spoke about this. In 1 Corinthians 10:18-33 he says that the only thing to really  'worry' about is if what you do causes someone else to stumble, or puts an obstacle in their way of coming to Christ.



When I first got saved I was in a church that came out of the Jesus Movement...and so one of the practices was to partake in secular album breaking or burning - well, we had a breaking party! Now I look back and kinda morn over the albums I broke that would now be collectors items!



In this last section of scripture in 1 Corinthians 10 Paul says that since any meat that is offered to idols are really offered to nothing, since idols are in actuality only things and not gods at all...then it is not going to hurt us to eat it if it won't make anyone stumble. Yet, he also says that going out of our way to get idol meat would not be a good idea either (because maybe it is cheaper)...because God wants our conscience to be completely clear and to do things freely, but out of faith and love. Please also read Romans 14.



Additionally, please ponder on this section of scripture:



I just love animals. They are such a gift from God! They definitely have God's fingerprints on them. I believe that it is the enemy that wants us to 'use' them without considering that we are stewards of them and should care about their well being. Everything that lives will die at some point, so it is not the dying of an animal that bothers is how it lives and how it dies is what concerns me. I am not a vegetarian, and I don't advocate it....yet, I do advocate the ethical treatment of all of God's creation....because it is a gift to us, so in my heart it would be ungrateful to do otherwise. All, meaning, people too of course.




Romans 1: 18-23 18God's anger is revealed from heaven against every ungodly and immoral thing people do as they try to suppress the truth by their immoral living. 19What can be known about God is clear to them because he has made it clear to them. 20From the creation of the world, God's invisible qualities, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly observed in what He made. As a result, people have no excuse. 21They knew God but did not praise and thank him for being God. Instead, their thoughts were pointless, and their misguided minds were plunged into darkness. 22While claiming to be wise, they became fools. 23They exchanged the glory of the immortal God for statues that looked like mortal humans, birds, animals, and snakes.




Prov. 12:10 The Godly care for their animals, but even the mercies of the wicked are cruel.



Psalm 145:9 The LORD is good to everyone. He showers compassion on all his creation.




Please go over here to "Enjoying Everything II"--

Thursday, January 10, 2013

How Do People See Us??

Truly, how do people see Christians? Isn't this THE question to be asking ourselves? If I look in the face of Christ and realize that I am not reflecting Him to the world...then should I feel condemned? NO. That response is not based on grace and truth. However, if evangelism is a top priority....meaning, reproducing...making more brothers and sisters...then it is a good question we are bringing up to our Father when in prayer - then he helps us grow in this area.



Isn't reproducing what God is after? If this is so, then are we a repellent (*one that operates in the ways of the flesh) or a light that draws people to Him? (*one that operates and keeps in step with the Holy Spirit). After we become His, then the next thing we do is pass on what was passed to us. When that wonderful seed was implanted in us, then we grow and reproduce. Would it be in God's plan that He implant the seed in us, and then we  grow...but then that's it? I don't think so.



So, why did God save you?? I believe the answer is three fold. He saved you for Himself, for you, and then for those around you. He desires to create a body of people...the body of Christ. Christ was not self-centered...then of course His desire is that His body not be self-centered either.



If I am reading scripture with an open heart...with eyes to see and ears to hear...then I'll see the extreme importance of this. That God did not save me just for me, or you just for you. Now, IF you were the only person that needed redemption, then yes, He would have saved you just for you and Him.



However, it is important to God that we conduct our Christian life remembering that we are not loved and saved people...just for ourselves and God. As it is God that added that 3rd element -- our neighbor/those around us.




How do I know this? Well, for one, it is because the command....THE command that satisfies all other commands, as well as all that the OT prophets taught and proclaimed....says to love God 1st, but then to also love our neighbor as ourselves.



And how much are we to love God? With our whole heart, and our whole soul, mind and strength. This is very says it all.



Oh, it is interesting too, that God says to love Him with those things we can't see...the heart, soul and mind. But then He also adds to this strength....which is something we can see. I can stand here without moving a muscle or speaking a word, and love Him with all my heart, soul and mind...but it takes movement and action to love with all one's strength, yes?



I often will commune with God by merely closing my eyes...and I'm there! Since He is Spirit, I can do this. Sure, I could begin to dance or sing with everything that is within me...and that would be using my strength. (BTW, The piece of artwork above is one I did that depicts a mother and daughter {in stained glass} worshipping together) But, God says with ALL my strength...therefore, not just in worship.




So, even though personally He is self-sufficient and doesn't need anything at all, then it is apparent that in God's mind a part of loving Him means loving one another. He doesn't need water, but He said that when we offer a glass of water to someone we are doing it to Him.



So, even if He hadn't added the 2nd part...which is loving our neighbors as ourselves...He would still desire we love those around us whom He also loves. Therefore, it is obviously in His very character and in how He desires love to be shown to Him, for us to be mindful and proactive. To remember that we did not become Christians just for our own sake....but, for others as Christ showed us by example. 




Romans 15: 1"We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. 2Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. 3For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.”a 4For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.



5May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, 6so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.



7Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. 8For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the Jews on behalf of God’s truth, to confirm the promises made to the patriarchs." 


                                So, how do people see us? 


*In Galatians 5 it tells us what is of the flesh, and what is of the Spirit.* 


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

A Big Thank you!! Please Join In!!


I wanted to thank you...each of you that visit well as my very new friends...for being involved in this blog. I appreciate you so much!! As a thank you and as a way to have a little fun. I have hidden (FUN) somewhere in either this blog or my other blog; 


The first 5 that get back to me on the comments below after finding it and telling me the words that are by it (not the page), will recieve a high resolution print of your choosing (signed and through the mail, costs on me:) from either one of my pieces of artwork, or the letters for one word, or an initial. Please look under ~Pages~ to see artwork pages. 


Added - Every person that brings in 5 people who will follow AND leave a comment saying you sent them....will have a word up to 5 letters printed for you. So, if you get 10 to do this, you would get 2 words made and printed for you...and this includes mailing costs on me. :)


* Mailing info can be sent to  ....this will be kept confidential.

Can Never Outdo Heaven!

I still continue to see Christians over and over again say . 'yes, we are saved by grace, but...'.  BUT (ha!) there are no buts! None...not even in the small print.



I did the above mixed media painting when I was thinking about how I would create a perfect paradise if it was up to me. In my thinking it would be on the edge of an ocean, in a natural village type setting, where it is quiet and there is a fresh smell and coolness in the air similar to a town north of SF called Bodega Bay. I was there about 16 yrs ago and I absolutely fell in love with it. (Yup, it's the town where the school is that was in Hitchcock's "The Birds"...remember where the kids came running out?)  Anyway,....oh, it was exactly what was in my mind when I painted this.



But, I know that nothing I do or don't do could ever outdo or earn the real heaven that is to come. Nothing.



Now, how about the scriptures that make it sound like I'd better work really hard for my salvation and in obtaining heaven...yeah, how about those?? I know I've quarreled, been involved in dissensions and have had selfish ambitions like what's listed in one of the scriptures, what now??



Galatians 5: 19-21

When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, making enemies, division, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.



OK...we'll get to this, but lets look at the following first....


I want you to think about what happens when you or anyone accepts Christ....what happens?? Is it a real event? Does something undoubtedly happen? I mean, in reality...does something actually happen?? Does God truly make a home in me?



Ephesians 3:17 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God's love and keep you strong.



Romans 8:9 You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.




OK, lets get back to the question above. As I spoke similarly about in another post...the answer to this question is but another piece in the puzzle that contributes to creating the whole picture of how the Kingdom of God works.



2 Peter 1: 3-11

3By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. 4And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises.


These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires. 5In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge,


6and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, 7and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone. 8The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9But those who fail to develop in this way are shortsighted or blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their old sins.


10So, dear brothers and sisters,c work hard to prove that you really are among those God has called and chosen. Do these things, and you will never fall away. 11Then God will give you a grand entrance into the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.



This above section of scripture is one that answers the question and lays it out very clearly and literally. As you see it begins by saying that by coming to know Him we have been given everything we need for living a godly life. Everything.



OK, then from there in vs 4, He has given us the promises that enable us to partake in His divine nature. Meaning, that the promises that say, for instance in 1 John 4:4, "You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world."...and in Romans 8:9, "You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.", are telling us that we have the ability/power in us already to begin having control over those things of the flesh in Gal. 5, instead of those fleshly things having control over us! Yes!



The ability is already there....just as the ability to produce apples is already in an apple tree. IF the tree is an apple tree, then in time it WILL begin acting like one.


Does the tree try hard to produce apples so it proves itself to be an apple tree?  Or does it naturally produce apples because it IS an apple tree?



God is telling us that we now have a new nature, and therefore the power to overcome the carnal nature we were born with is already in us. The power to obey God is already in us. So, what I do now is (above in 2 Pet.1:5) respond to His promises.  God has already given me a measure of, now I activate the power in me with that faith to accomplish His will...



As in Gal. 5...

16So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. 17For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. 18But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law. 22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. 25Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.



So, because you have faith in the fact that God knows what He is intentionally live lead by...and keep in step with...the Holy Spirit that is already in you!


When you get up in the morning for instance, start thinking about creating peace around you and showing love to those around you whether this makes sense to you or not...this is keeping in step with the Holy Spirit...and living by faith in God's ways! THEN in so doing, God says that you will NOT be gratifying your carnal nature....and isn't this what it is all about? We are living as tho the carnal nature is dead, by walking in step with the Holy Spirit...then this in turn pleases God and produces fruit for His kingdom. 



Then, way up again, in verse 9, God says that if you are not growing in this way then something has happened to get you off track and forget what God has done for you and in you. Because, if you and I really do have God's Spirit inside us then we are to be aware and serious about what this means to God. And thankfully, we also have the promise that we can get back on track as well!!


If, indeed God is in us, then His power is in us as as to do His will.


1 John 5:18 We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the one who was born of God keeps him safe, and the evil one cannot harm him.


 2 Corinthians 13:5 Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you--unless, of course, you fail the test? (If this is the case, the solution is as close as your heart and lips:)





Sunday, January 6, 2013

The Heart

Matthew 22:36-37 "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law? Jesus replied: 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'"

John 14:15 "If you love me, you will obey what I command.



Have you and I really been loving the Lord with all of our heart? Or have we been keeping some things back...somethings hidden...some things that we think are not included...or those things that we feel are just not necessary since we know we are already right in those areas of our lives already!  


Yes, we have given God our cares, our need for salvation...and our needs. But, have we given him our whole heart all the way to the outer corners of it? Have we been willing to trust Him with everything...even those most precious things we hold dear?


Are we willing to be molded and become more and more who God wants us to be...which is more like Christ? Are we withholding some areas of our heart because we think there are certain things that God could NOT possibly want to change!! I mean, my church teaches it, and it seems completely legitimate to me!!


I follow all the rules and do what I am supposed isn't that enough??


What would happen if I did deliberately begin giving each area of my heart to God...even all the rules I have been living by??


What would happen if I let Him be in charge of the desires of my heart?


What would happen if I decided to obey this command to love Him with my whole heart? Would this mean I'd have to love those I don't think deserve it?


What would happen if I trust Him this much?



What would happen?