Christians: Bold for Jesus?

I became a Christian at 19. For the first 25 years, I diligently attended church services, which means that I came into regular contact with Christians comfortable in that setting, and for the last eight years, I have been transitioning into a more independent state, finding fellowship with seekers and believers in alternative formats.

Reflection inspirational original oil painting of little girl jumping in puddle on ocean beach by Steve Henderson

One doesn’t have to be big and strong to do great things; one only has to be associated with Someone who is big and strong. Reflection, original oil painting by Steve Henderson; licensed print at Great Big Canvas, Framed Canvas Art, iCanvasART, and Vision Art Galleries.

What I’ve encountered, in those 33 years, are far too many Christians who feel insecure, ineffective, inferior, timorous, and apprehensive. If there is any possible spiritual fault they could have, they’ve got it — they don’t have enough faith (Fault Number One), they don’t read the Bible enough (actually, this one is easily solved — just read the Bible more), or this one, which sounds like a Bible verse but isn’t:

“I am not bold enough for Christ.”

If you’ve said this, and put yourself down for it, please read the rest of the story at my Commonsense Christianity article at BeliefNet, What If You’re Too Timid to Be “Bold for Christ”?

The Misfit Christian Book by Carolyn Henderson at amazon.com Live Happily on Less book by Carolyn Henderson at amazon.com Grammar Despair paperback and digital book at Amazon.com by Carolyn Henderson Step by Step Watercolor Success digital DVD workshop by Steve Henderson at Amazon.com

Spirit of the Canyon: The Story of This Painting

The story of the painting, Spirit of the Canyon, by Steve Henderson at Start Your Week with Steve:

The human spirit is an indomitable one, and within all of us is the desire to create, to search, to explore, to be something and someone greater than the world around us says that we are.

Spirit of the Canyon inspirational original oil painting of woman on rock at Grand Canyon National Park by Steve Henderson

Our dreams and goal are an integral part of who we are, and they shape the person we strive to be. Spirit of the Canyon, original oil painting by Steve Henderson. Licensed print at Great Big Canvas, iCanvasART, Framed Canvas Art, and Vision Art Galleries.

And because no other human is privy to the inner workings and desires of our souls, our secret — of who we want to be, and who we think we really are — is safe with us. When the day’s work is done, and our obligations are set aside for the moment, we are free to pursue our dreams and aspirations, to mull over what it is that we would prefer to be doing, and to take the necessary steps to get there.

Spirit of the Canyon captures the sense of abandon and freedom that our souls yearn for, and the Canyon Sprite, hopped atop the rock, faces the sun, which plays across and warms her face. A breeze rises from the depths below and grasps the cloth in her hands, giving a sense of movement and flight.

There is a reason why no one can see the inner workings of our soul — those thoughts, those dreams, those desires are fragile, and they need to be nurtured in a safe place until they are strong enough to be brought out in the open and allowed to stand on their feet. The Canyon Sprite in Spirit of the Canyon is an embodiment of those dreams and desires, and she stands strong and straight and free and joyful.

Whatever your dream, your aspiration, your desire — nurture it, protect it, give it strength, and believe in it until one day, it hops up to a high, solid place and raises its arms in the air with exultation and joy.Read the rest at Start Your Week with Steve.

Spirit of the Canyon is an original oil painting, 30 x 36, on canvas, gallery wrapped and ready to hang immediately on your wall.Spirit of the Canyon is also available as a licensed, open edition print at Great Big CanvasiCanvasART, and Framed Canvas Art.

As always, feel free to contact Steve Henderson Fine Artdirectly by e-mailing Carolyn@SteveHendersonFineArt.com with your questions and comments about Steve’s original oil and watercolor paintings or licensed open edition prints.
The Misfit Christian Book by Carolyn Henderson at amazon.com Live Happily on Less book by Carolyn Henderson at amazon.com Grammar Despair paperback and digital book at Amazon.com by Carolyn Henderson Step by Step Watercolor Success digital DVD workshop by Steve Henderson at Amazon.com

Christians: The Extraordinary Voice of the Ordinary Person

Within Christianity, there are many many voices telling us all sorts of things: how to pray, how to not pray, how to read the Bible and with what study resource, how we should vote, whom we should hate or be afraid of, what qualifications it takes to be a “leader,” and how important it is to follow those leaders. Mega-pastors and celebrity Christians meet with political principals, visit the pope, and purport to speak for all believers when they push domestic and international policy issues.

Beachside Diversions inspirational original oil painting of young woman with hat and shawl and young child on ocean beach by Steve Henderson

Real life consists of moment after moment of ordinary things — who better to understand this than ordinary people? Beachside Diversions, original oil painting by Steve Henderson; licensed print at Great Big Canvas, Framed Canvas Art, and Vision Art Galleries.

There is a strong message, aimed at the sheep, to render obeisance to these leaders: buy their books, listen to their radio programs, be one of the thousands in the football stadium at their event, follow their teaching because they, somehow, have greater wisdom and learning than others. No part of our lives is too private or intimate for their not to have an opinion on it; we look to them for advice on how to use our faith to raise our children, interact with our boss, manage our finances, and lose weight the Christ-sanctioned way.

But when we focus on the celebrity voices of the self-styled leaders of the Christian movement and lifestyle, we forgo much wisdom from real people, living real lives — you, me, our neighbor. Maybe we’re not as articulate; we’re certainly not as aggressively promoted; but we ordinary, regular Christians have a voice, and there comes a time when God asks us to use it.

If you are a writer, a speaker, a blogger, a teacher who has something to say, but you feel discouraged because you’re too ordinary and there aren’t enough people out there listening to you, please read the rest of the article at my Commonsense Christianity, BeliefNet blog, Why Ordinary Christians Can — and Should — Speak up.

The Misfit Christian Book by Carolyn Henderson at amazon.com Live Happily on Less book by Carolyn Henderson at amazon.com Grammar Despair paperback and digital book at Amazon.com by Carolyn Henderson Step by Step Watercolor Success digital DVD workshop by Steve Henderson at Amazon.com

Fear God — Don’t Be Frightened by Him

Discipline is an ambiguous word, easily misunderstood because its two major applications are so at variance with one another.

Athletes are disciplined — so also, should we be as children of God. It’s not easy, but it doesn’t have to be harsh. Photo credit Steve Henderson Fine Art.

In a good sense, discipline is what athletes do — training their bodies to achieve top performance through practice, hard work, persistence, attention to diet and daily living habits — in short, they demand much of themselves without approaching punishment. Anyone who chooses to do something well — fine art painting, knitting, gardening, cooking — disciplines themselves in such a way to achieve top performance.

In a bad sense, discipline involves hitting, striking, slapping, whipping, beating — something we associate wicked masters doing to slaves, or creepy reprobates inflicting upon dogs — and the ultimate goal is punishment as opposed to growth. This is not a diatribe upon spanking versus not spanking, so much as it is an observance that discipline — when its primary goal is punishment and/or humiliation — doesn’t work.

Please follow the link to read, The Discipline of God – something we dread because we tend to think that God thinks, and acts, the way we too frequently do. Quite mercifully, He is . . . merciful. I write regularly on Christianity at my BeliefNet column, Commonsense Christianity, and I would be delighted if you joined me there.

The Misfit Christian Book by Carolyn Henderson at amazon.com Live Happily on Less book by Carolyn Henderson at amazon.com Grammar Despair paperback and digital book at Amazon.com by Carolyn Henderson Step by Step Watercolor Success digital DVD workshop by Steve Henderson at Amazon.com

It’s Easy to Doubt That God Hears Our Prayers

We’ve all had days when we wish that we were back in bed, before we even climb out of it. Not long ago, I faced a situation — not a major one, but not so minor that it wouldn’t add its weight of stress — that looked like it would be either A) very bad or B) not particularly good.

Ocean Breeze inspirational original oil painting of woman in white dress and with fabric on beach at sunset by Steve Henderson

We pray in all ways, at all times, for all things, and our Father always hears us — even when we’re afraid that He doesn’t. Ocean Breeze, original oil painting by Steve Henderson; licensed print at Great Big Canvas, iCanvasART, and Framed Canvas Art.

As I sat in the car, I prayed: “God. Get me through the next several hours. I’m tired; I have no strength, energy, wisdom, or creativity, and I really can’t add much more to my plate right now.”

And then it was time to enter the lion’s den.

Hours later, I emerged, not necessarily whistling — because I can’t whistle — but relieved, grateful, and even cheerful. Earlier in the car, when I was faced with the options of A or B, I had forgotten that God usually has an Option C. It’s the one that unfolds when we can’t see beyond this or that, and it happens so consistently, I wonder why I persist in seeing life as either/or.

It’s easy to doubt that God hears our prayers, but the faith we need to do so is one He is willing to give us. Please follow the link to Yes or No: Does God Hear Our Prayers? at Commonsense Christianity, BeliefNet to find an odd, but effective, encouragement God opened my eyes to quite recently.

The Misfit Christian Book by Carolyn Henderson at amazon.com Live Happily on Less book by Carolyn Henderson at amazon.com Grammar Despair paperback and digital book at Amazon.com by Carolyn Henderson Step by Step Watercolor Success digital DVD workshop by Steve Henderson at Amazon.com

The Pataha: The Story of this Painting

The Story of the Painting The Pataha, by Steve Henderson at Start Your Week with Steve:

We have friends, transplants from the Northwest, who live in the Southwest. And while the desert is beautiful, they say — filled with color and form and light striking dramatically against the landscape — it also does not compare to the Pacific Northwest.

The Pataha inspirational original oil painting of southeastern Washington Pacific Northwest canyon by Steve Henderson

The Pacific Northwest landscape encompasses everything from canyons to meadows, from mountains to rivers. The Pataha, original oil painting by Steve Henderson; licensed print at Framed Canvas Art.

“Ultimately, there are no leaves,” our friends observe, “or greenery. The desert is beautiful, but plants tend to be filled with sharp, thorny things, and you don’t brush your hands against the foliage when you take a hike.”

The Pacific Northwest, even on the dryer side of the Cascade Mountains, is a riot of trees and bushes and flowers and grasses and leaves and flowers. It is every bit as beautiful as the Southwest, but in a far lusher way.
Yes, the Pacific Northwest is beautiful, and it is time that it be recognized as being so, especially in the world of art and appreciating beauty.In The Pataha, the viewer is given a glimpse of a hidden Pacific Northwest canyon, tucked away in an eastern Washington enclave — not necessarily in full sight, but well within reach of the person who stops, gets out of the car, and takes a two-minute walk off to the side.

A wending, winding road hugs close to the hillside and lazily makes its way back into the countryside, eventually bringing the traveler to the small town of Starbuck — which enjoyed the name long before the coffee company appropriated it — where 150 people raise cattle, grow gardens, and support a close knit community of people who care about one another, and yet give each other space. The rural school of 30 children, one fifth the population of the town, is largely made up of students who bus in from distant, larger towns, because they want that small-school experience.

So is life in the rural Pacific Northwest — one of physical beauty of trees and greenery, amidst which live people who seek to live as independently as they can, because that’s the tradition of this area.

Read the rest, and subscribe to our free newsletter, at Start Your Week with Steve.
The Pataha is an original oil painting, 30 x 40, on canvas, with the frame included in its purchase.The Pataha is also available as a licensed, open edition print at Framed Canvas Art. It is also available as a three-piece, vertical print set at Framed Canvas Art.

As always, feel free to contact Steve Henderson Fine Artdirectly by e-mailing Carolyn@SteveHendersonFineArt.com with your questions and comments about Steve’s original oil and watercolor paintings or licensed open edition prints.

The Misfit Christian Book by Carolyn Henderson at amazon.com Live Happily on Less book by Carolyn Henderson at amazon.com Grammar Despair paperback and digital book at Amazon.com by Carolyn Henderson Step by Step Watercolor Success digital DVD workshop by Steve Henderson at Amazon.com

Christians: If We Were More Honest with Ourselves, More People Would Listen

I have to be in a certain mood to read the book of Proverbs, which consists, primarily, of pithy — yet wise, and true — statements in couplet form. Part of me always thinks, “Most of these were written by Solomon, who, although he was the wisest man in all history, managed to make some really foolish marital, spiritual, and financial decisions.”

Lonesome Barn inspirational original watercolor of meadow and clouds by Steve Henderson

God made everything. We didn’t. He knows everything. We don’t. Lonesome Barn, original watercolor by Steve Henderson, sold; licensed print at Framed Canvas Art.

But that’s the beauty of the Bible — it never leaves us in the dark as to Who is all wise, all good, and all knowing, and the very foibles of a righteous man are a lesson in themselves:

“Stop trusting in man, who has but a breath in his nostrils. Of what account is he?” (Isaiah 2:22)

Solomon, David, Joseph, Daniel, Moses, Abraham, Elijah, Peter, John, Paul — these were all good, righteous men whose words and actions were used by God, but we are never permitted the illusion that they aspired to be, or even could ever manage to be, equal to God themselves. God graciously shows us their imperfections, and if we stopped being so hard on ourselves, we would realize that this same grace extends to us: we will make mistakes — phenomenally dumb ones — we will err, we will sin, we will fall — but into the arms of a perfect, merciful, loving God.

We don’t know it all. We’re not perfect. Why do we persist in trying to live this lie? Please read the rest at Christians: Let’s Admit We Don’t Know It All at Commonsense Christianity, BeliefNet.

The Misfit Christian Book by Carolyn Henderson at amazon.com Live Happily on Less book by Carolyn Henderson at amazon.com Grammar Despair paperback and digital book at Amazon.com by Carolyn Henderson Step by Step Watercolor Success digital DVD workshop by Steve Henderson at Amazon.com

Are Negative Thoughts Necessarily Bad Ones?

A good lie is 95 percent true.

After all, if it’s too obviously false, like,

The first lie told, is still the best one. We keep falling for it. Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden by Wenzel Peter

“Negative thoughts have a magnetic force that causes them to glow and pulsate. Attracted by the light, people gravitate toward the thoughts, physically run into them, and get migraine headaches,” then people rightly say,

Bosh.

But if we alter the statement, subtly, we get,

“Negative thoughts are bad, and when you think or express them, you will frequently experience the very thing you’re afraid of.”

Have you heard that one, or a variation of it, before? And do you believe it?

I hope you spot it for the lie that it is. It’s a good lie — one of those 95-percenters, but a lie that too many people internalize and believe. Please read the rest of the story at Negative Thoughts: Deny the Lie at my BeliefNet blog, Commonsense Christianity.

The Misfit Christian Book by Carolyn Henderson at amazon.com Live Happily on Less book by Carolyn Henderson at amazon.com Grammar Despair paperback and digital book at Amazon.com by Carolyn Henderson Step by Step Watercolor Success digital DVD workshop by Steve Henderson at Amazon.com

Getting Rid of the Feeling That We’re Failures

Just outside our dining room window is an extremely pathetic nectarine tree.

This is the pathetic nectarine trees, which has been providing 2-4 pieces of fruit for weeks. Not bad, not bad at all. Photo credit Steve Henderson Fine Art.

Actually, when it comes to producing nectarines, it’s phenomenally successful. With its lack of leaves, hollowed out inner section, and floppy branches, however, it projects a wretched state of abject despondency that makes one think,

“That is a really loser tree.”

But like most quick conclusions, this one is inaccurate, because no matter how uncomely and unprepossessing the tree, it does fulfill the major function of its calling, in that in produces nectarines.

That’s the whole point, isn’t it — that the tree ultimately produce fruit, even if the tree itself is ugly? And yet, as humans, we gravitate toward the perfect tree, in full leaf, without fruit. If you struggle with a sense of inadequacy as a Christian, feeling that others actually do something for God while you do not, then please read the rest of this article at Some Days We Feel Pathetic, at BeliefNet’s Commonsense Christianity.

The Misfit Christian Book by Carolyn Henderson at amazon.com Live Happily on Less book by Carolyn Henderson at amazon.com Grammar Despair paperback and digital book at Amazon.com by Carolyn Henderson Step by Step Watercolor Success digital DVD workshop by Steve Henderson at Amazon.com

Contemplation: The Story of This Painting

The story of the painting, Contemplation, by Steve Henderson at Start Your Week with Steve:

Autumn is an unusual season — one of joy and thankfulness, because we celebrate harvesting the hard work of summer and spring, yet also one of meditative thought, because everything is winding down, leaves are changing color, and winter is making plans to settle in.

Contemplation inspirational original oil painting of young woman with autumn leaf by orange and red tree by Steve Henderson

Autumn is a time and season of thought and contemplation. Contemplation, original oil painting by Steve Henderson, sold; licensed open edition print at Great Big Canvas, iCanvasART, and Framed Canvas Art.

It is ironic that, in this time of closure, there is more and vibrant color than at any other time of the year.  Oranges, reds, scarlet, gold, burgundy, even pink are set against a sky so blue that the riot of color simply shouts . . . quietly.

Autumn is a thoughtful season, one of contemplation, and the young woman in this painting is doing just that. The delicate texture and design of a fallen leaf are easily overlooked, as are so many aspects of life unless we take time to stop, reflect, meditate, ponder, and wonder, and in the middle springtime of her life, this woman slows down and savors calm introspection. Behind her, the tree stands sentinel, its branches held high as it bursts forth the season’s last hurrah.

It’s almost trite to say that our lives are like the seasons, but they are. Every year is a reminder that life starts quickly and progresses even more so: from the first crocuses we advance to the daffodils and tulips, all of which end far too soon by the time the irises show up. There is sunshine and growth and noise and activity, and we haven’t had a chance to tire of a warm summer evening under the stars before we notice a quick chill in the air, a subtle change in the color of the leaves, and pumpkins in the garden.
All of the seasons — of the calendar year and of our own lives — are beautiful in their own way, and as we walk through the days of autumn, let us take time to enjoy, and be thankful for, the beauty that this time of year sets forth.Read the rest at Start Your Week with Steve.

Contemplation is an original oil painting, 24 x 20, that is sold.

Contemplation is also available as a licensed, open edition print through Great Big CanvasiCanvasART, and Framed Canvas Art.

As always, feel free to contact Steve Henderson Fine Art directly by e-mailing Carolyn@SteveHendersonFineArt.com with your questions and comments about Steve’s original oil and watercolor paintings or licensed open edition prints.

The Misfit Christian Book by Carolyn Henderson at amazon.com Live Happily on Less book by Carolyn Henderson at amazon.com Grammar Despair paperback and digital book at Amazon.com by Carolyn Henderson Step by Step Watercolor Success digital DVD workshop by Steve Henderson at Amazon.com

Subscribe to RSS Feed Follow me on Twitter!