Are We Afraid of Our Own Government?

Xena the Warrior Princess, whose outlook on life belies her name. Photo credit Steve Henderson Fine Art.

I have a cat named Xena the Warrior Princess, which is a diverting misnomer because she is one of the timidest animals alive.

Admittedly, as far as staying alive, running away from trouble is a successful stratagem for Xena, who spends her days concealed in the bushes, wide-eyed and paranoid. When she does venture out, she flat out runs, which invariably results in the dog hard on her heels. And then it’s back to the bushes.

As I say, it’s a successful stratagem for staying alive, but not necessarily for living.

So it is with many Christians, who are some of the timidest humans I run into. Not all of them, mind you — there are many, many believers persecuted and punished for living their lives with honor, grace, and truth, and too many of them we know nothing about because they are in prison or in poverty . . .

But in the United States, the country in which I was born and in which I live, while we are not yet at overtly complete totalitarian status, we’re definitely not free and swingin’ in the tropical isles, contentedly living our lives in liberty and without interference from the powers that be, which, theoretically, “serve” us.

The more awake you are as a Christian, the less you fit into the group. So why do we insist upon trying to fit in? Paperback and digital at amazon.com.

Even the densest insensate realizes that “stuff is going on.”

Please follow the link to Afraid to Post on Facebook – especially if this is a sentence that describes you — at my blog, Commonsense Christianity at BeliefNet. Also, you can hear this read on YouTube by Conrad Carriker, who picked it up from Google Plus. Thanks, Conrad!

Beachside Diversions: The Story of This Painting

Children are the world’s greatest natural resources, but society does not accord them the honor, and protection, that they deserve. Parents and family, as always, are their best and first teachers and protectors. Beachside Diversions, original oil painting by Steve Henderson; licensed open edition print at Great Big Canvas and Framed Canvas Art.

The story of the painting, Beachside Diversions by Steve Henderson, at Start Your Week with Steve.

There is a sense of nostalgia in Beachside Diversions, as an adult and a child interact, while each continues to reside in her own world, on the seashore.

The adult, as adults do, is caring for the child, adjusting the hat so that it is not blown away by the coastal breeze. She is calm, practical, gentle. Even that she stands between the child and the ocean is a physical expression of how adults — parents, grandparents, siblings, uncles and aunts and cousins (notice that these are all family relationships, because family is the first and best protecting force for vulnerable children) — are charged to care for children.

The child, as children do, puts up with, so to speak, what she considers the adult’s fussing. Looking off in the distance, the child is in a dream world that makes up her reality, because children have an intrinsic ability to fuse the two. It is as they grow older, trained in the adult world of reality, that they drop the world of dreams.

Is it possible to recapture the sense of wonder and awe that children possess?

Yes, it is, but it takes a desire to do so, and the ability to watch, and learn from, children.

Money, precious gems, gold, oil — these are not the world’s greatest resources. Children are the world’s greatest resources, and more than any resource need to be treasured, protected, and valued, but most of the people in the world don’t realize this. If there are children anywhere in your life, make them a priority in your life.

Christianity, art, writing, living sustainably — since they’re all a part of our lives, they’re all subjects of books, or DVDs, that we — Steve and Carolyn Henderson — write or produce.

Read the rest at Start Your Week with Steve.

Beachside Diversions, the  Original Oil Painting by Steve Henderson, is available for purchase through the website. The 30 x 36 painting is gallery wrapped, which means that it is ready to hang immediately upon your wall. Beachside Diversions is also available as a  Licensed Open Edition Print through Framed Canvas Art and Great Big Canvas.

Please contact Carolyn@SteveHendersonFineArt to inquire about any of Steve’s original oil and watercolor paintings or licensed open edition prints.

Shipping of original paintings, purchased through Steve Henderson Fine Art, is free to the U.S. and Canada. All other areas, contact us and we’ll figure out the shipping charges.

Check out Steve’s artwork at Steve Henderson Fine ArtOriginal paintings – licensed open edition prints – Santa and Holiday. Steve’s licensed work is available at Great Big CanvasiCanvasARTAmazon.comLight in the Box, and Framed Canvas Art.

If you are a manufacturer who would like to use Steve’s artwork on your products, please contact his agents, Matt Appelman (matt.appelman@artlicensing.com). You can see Steve’s Art Licensing page here.

Check out, also, Steve and Carolyn’s products at Amazon.com:

The Misfit Christian: Empowering the Believers and Seekers Who Don’t Fit into Contemporary Church (paperback and digital book)

Live Happily on Less: 52 Ways to Renovate Your Life and Lifestyle (paperback and digital book)

Grammar Despair: Quick, simple solutions to problems like, “Do I say Him and Me or He and I?” (paperback and digital book)

Step by Step Watercolor Success (digital DVD workshop designed for beginning to intermediate watercolor students and artists)

 

 

Christianity’s Broken Promise — or Man’s?

In the Father’s house, we are beloved sons or daughters, and yet we often continue to act like slaves. Captain’s House, original oil painting by Steve Henderson, sold.

This weekend I enjoyed the company of three out of four of my adult children.

It is impossible for me to describe to you how much I love these four progeny of mine — whenever I talk to them, play cribbage with them, eat with them, or just spend time with them — even mentally — I delight in them.

Eldest Supreme had just washed her hair and was walking around the kitchen like a sultana with a towel around her head, bantering with the Son and Heir about the bread he was making. Tired of Being Youngest bustled in, checking on her cheesecake and ensuring that no one surreptitiously broke off a piece. From the sofa I watched in absolute delight, just loving them from across the room.

I delight in my children.

So does God, but in our clumsy attempts to figure Him out and please Him in ways that we do not — or should not — demand of our own children, we forget this:

Being a misfit means you’re out of step with the majority, and it’s good to remember that the majority frequently isn’t right. Paperback and digital at amazon.com.

To find out what we forget, please follow the link to the full story (which I am unable to reprint here in its entirety), Do You Long for the Love Christianity Promises? I know I did, and I wasn’t finding the answer in the pat answers and phrases other Christians were throwing back at me.

So I started reading Scripture for myself, as opposed to allowing others to interpret it for me, and I began to find this love. I also began to write about it in my column, Commonsense Christianity at BeliefNet. And then, when I figured out why I had never fit into contemporary church culture, I wrote The Misfit Christian, for other believers who wondered why, even though they loved and followed Jesus, they were out of the loop in the Christian establishment.

“Celebrating” the Anniversary of the Vietnam War

It would be nice to walk, or sail, away from the unpleasant things of life, but sometimes they follow us. Sailing on the Sound, original watercolor by Steve Henderson, sold.

Anniversaries are supposed to be celebratory things, generally of weddings, when a couple starts a whole new life together. How odd that we use the same word, “anniversary,” to acknowledge — surely not celebrate? — the unwanted introduction of the Vietnam War into all of our lives.

I was two years old when Lyndon B. Johnson sanctioned the forcible sending of young men into a conflict that, according to my U.S. History teacher years later, “was never intended to be won.” I was 13 when the debacle officially ended.

Only it didn’t end, because those soldiers who came back returned to a life that their mothers never envisioned when their sons were born. How many of us have seen men with alcohol, drug, and lifestyle problems and said,

“Oh, yeah. He was in the Vietnam War. He’s never been the same since”?

The more awake you become, the less that you will fit in. Learn how to be a successful misfit. Paperback and digital at amazon.com.

I know. War, and especially the Vietnam War, is not a popular subject. But as Christians we live in a world where war is imposed upon us, and we might want to develop an opinion about it. Please read the rest at Will We Ever Say Good-bye to the Legacy of the Vietnam War? at my Commonsense Christianity blog.

Frozen in Fear — What Do We Do?

As long as we’re walking, we’re not frozen in fear. So let’s wake up, and get walking. Cadence, original oil painting by Steve Henderson; licensed open edition print at Great Big Canvas, iCanvasART, and Framed Canvas Art.

The other day, I found myself in the middle of a church picnic.

It was totally unintentional, and I’ll tell you the story someday, but the upshot is, I was chatting with a safe woman from the group, when I tossed out my usual question to determine whether or not a person is awake:

“So, do you completely believe and unquestioningly accept the government’s official version about 9/11?”

“Oh, no,” she replied without hesitation, then stopped, troubled. “It’s disturbing to think about the ramifications.”

Well, that’s an understatement, but at least I could see that her eyes were open.

But then she went on to a statement that I hear on a regular basis:

Christians are supposed to be misfits, but unfortunately, not among ourselves. The Misfit Christian, for the believer who feels like the odd man, or woman, out. Paperback and digital at Amazon.com.

“There’s just so much going on, and we don’t seem to have any power to stop any of it. I don’t know what to do, and I don’t see any value of being awake.”

That’s a valid statement, and I sympathize with the feeling of being overwhelmed.

Please follow the link to Once You’re Awake — Now What? at my BeliefNet blog, Commonsense Christianity. Christians really can and do make a difference in the world, but when we focus on fear, discouragement, and the sheer size of the enemy camp, we freeze.

This does not have to be.

Peace: The Story of This Painting

Solitude, reflection, meditation, beauty — such are the elements that make up peace. Original oil painting by Steve Henderson.

The story of the painting, Peace, by Steve Henderson at Start Your Week with Steve.

Wallowa Lake in Joseph, OR, is a place of quiet beauty and awe. In the 19th century, Young Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce Indian tribe took his people there in summer to hunt, fish, and live. The mountains encircling the lake provide a sense of protection and majesty unparalleled in depth, emotion, and color.

Sadly, this ancient land was taken from the Nez Perce people and passed into other hands. In the 20th century, however, the Nez Perce were able to acquire land nearby — not with the lake but still with the mountains — and they graciously allow all people to walk through this sacred territory and feel its peace.

It is an experience. One walks slowly through a wending trail, conscious always of the peaks overhead. There is much silence, broken only by a breeze through the trees, or a songbird creating a sound that Chief Joseph and his people would have heard. Seldom are we able to walk on land that looks the way it always has, and connect with people who have gone before us.

The painting Peace reminds us that quietude, stillness, reflection, and meditation are important elements to incorporate in our lives, and while we focus as a society on being busy and getting things done, an integral part of a healthy life is taking time to reflect, and to be embraced by Nature around us.

Chief Joseph was wise enough to know that the Wallowa Lake was not just an incredible hunting and fishing area. He recognized, and appreciated, that it was beautiful.

Peace, the  Original Oil Painting by Steve Henderson, is available for purchase through the website. The 20 x 40 painting is accompanied by a gold frame that is free with purchase. Peace is also available as a  Licensed Open Edition Print through Framed Canvas Art.

Peace is also available as a multi-pieced theme, licensed wall array at Framed Canvas Art.

Please contact Carolyn@SteveHendersonFineArt to inquire about any of Steve’s original oil and watercolor paintings or licensed open edition prints.

Please read the rest of this newsletter at Start Your Week with Steve.

Check out Steve’s artwork at Steve Henderson Fine ArtOriginal paintings – licensed open edition prints – Santa and Holiday. Steve’s licensed work is available at Great Big CanvasiCanvasARTAmazon.comLight in the Box, and Framed Canvas Art.

If you are a manufacturer who would like to use Steve’s artwork on your products, please contact his agents, Matt Appelman (matt.appelman@artlicensing.com). You can see Steve’s Art Licensing page here.

Check out, also, Steve and Carolyn’s products at Amazon.com:

The Misfit Christian: Empowering the Believers and Seekers Who Don’t Fit into Contemporary Church (paperback and digital book)

Live Happily on Less: 52 Ways to Renovate Your Life and Lifestyle (paperback and digital book)

Grammar Despair: Quick, simple solutions to problems like, “Do I say Him and Me or He and I?” (paperback and digital book)

Step by Step Watercolor Success (digital DVD workshop designed for beginning to intermediate watercolor students and artists)

 

 

Sleeping Christians

Awake, oh sleeper, awake and stretch! Girl in a Copper Dress 3, original oil painting by Steve Henderson; licensed open edition print at Great Big Canvas and iCanvasART.

The Bible talks a lot about being awake, and all Christians like to think that they are so:

“Oh, yes — I’m awake all right to the evils of the world around me!”

Quite honestly, as much as we would like to think that Christians, more than anyone, are awake to the evil of mankind and all of its systems, few of us are, my dear brothers and sisters.

“Now while (Jesus) was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many people saw the miraculous signs he was doing and believed in his name.

“But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all men. He did not need man’s testimony about man, for he knew what was in a man.” (John 2:  23-25)

Does this describe you? Do you know what is in a man?

Please read the rest at Are You Awake? at BeliefNet’s Commonsense Christianity. I am an ordinary Christian, not affiliated with any form of pastoral leadership at all, who speaks up because I believe that ordinary Christians are ignored, overlooked, and used by an increasingly corporate religious establishment.

How odd that Christians, who are misfits in the world of men, so frequently feel that way among other Christians. Paperback and digital at Amazon.com.

My goal in writing is to encourage other ordinary Christians, not affiliated with any form of pastoral leadership, to believe in God enough to actually trust Him, to read His Scripture for themselves, and to stop relying upon books, tapes, seminars, gurus, and large Christian business establishments to do their thinking for them.

Spiritual Abuse

Life knocks us around against the rocks — we really don’t need people throwing rocks at us. Hurricane River, original oil painting by Steve Henderson, sold.

Years ago in my little town, there was a restaurant that was known not for the quality of its food (above average), the ambiance of its surroundings (cheap chic), or the professionalism of its staff (non-existent). It was famous, and wildly successful, for the way it abused its clientele.

From one week to the next, customers never knew what they would be charged for — at the manager’s whim, butter pads cost 15 cents extra, and then they didn’t. Coffee refills were endless — oh no, that was last week; now it’s one refill, grudgingly allotted.

One customer, who frequented the place daily for more than 25 years, ordered two slices of toast every morning, sometimes being charged for butter and jam, other times just for the jam. Because the toast consisted of yesterday’s leftovers, every day’s breakfast looked different: one day her “two” slices of toast was one piece, cut in half. Frequently it was burnt.

To get it, she had to listen closely, because the staff yelled out, “Hey, Emily! Your toast is ready!”

Such was the business model, and judging by the way the mismatched tables and rickety chairs were filled to capacity, people loved it. The worse they were treated, the more they flocked in.

I can’t help but think of many churches when I remember this restaurant, now mercifully closed, and while I saw, and avoided, the flaws in the restaurant, I confess to spending all too long being abused on a spiritual level.

Please read the rest at Thriving on Spiritual Abuse, at my column, Commonsense Christianity at BeliefNet. As you know, I am unable to reprint the entire article, and I am grateful when you click through and finish the whole thing.

Not only am I willing to admit that I am a misfit, I am relieved to do so, because I no longer have to pretend I am someone, or something, that I am not. Paperback and digital at Amazon.com. Free borrowing on Amazon Prime.

I wrote my book, The Misfit Christian, for believers and seekers who feel out of place in their church or religious community. Oddly, rather than being spiritual failures, these people are generally dissatisfied because they are strong seekers of the truth, and when they can’t find it, they get frustrated.

Does this describe you? Please consider reading my book, The Misfit Christian. If you’re put off because you don’t know who I am, then please read the introduction, provided free at the Look Inside section on the Amazon page.

I have never held back that I am a nobody in the world’s eyes, an ordinary person with no Christian Lettered Credentials behind my name. I don’t know about you, but I haven’t learned much from the Big Guys, and they certainly don’t seem particularly willing to learn from, or listen to, us little people.

Do We Really Need Prayer in Public Schools?

The beauty of prayer is that it is an individual act, and we do it by choice, where we choose to do it — in the forest, or within the public school. Nobody can stop the inner working of our mind. In the Forest, original oil painting by Steve Henderson; licensed open edition print at iCanvasART and Framed Canvas Art.

Christians, like all humans, fuss about things, and a central fussing point of the last many years is prayer in schools.

“Our country is falling apart because we no longer have prayer in schools,” people say. emphasizing the point with 2 Chronicles 7: 14 –

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

All our problems? It’s because we no longer pray in schools.

There’s a freedom in admitting something we’ve denied for a long time. If you feel like you don’t fit in, then admit it, and recognize that you’re not necessarily the problem. The Misfit Christian by Carolyn Henderson, at Amazon.com.

Given that I’m more than a half-century old, and at no point, in my school years, did we pray in schools, I’m not sure when these halcyon days of Christian piety were supposed to exist, but whether or not they did, there are three major reasons why we Christians do not need to — and probably should not — agitate for prayer in schools.

Please read the rest at my Commonsense Christianity column at BeliefNet, 3 Reasons America Does Not Need — or Want — Prayer in Schools. As you know, I am unable to print the whole article in more than one place, and I am grateful to my readers to click through.

I am also grateful to my readers who look at my book, The Misfit Christian, and consider purchasing it. Nobody likes to think of themselves as sticking out, but if you come home from church consistently feeling sad, depressed, or out of the loop, why not admit it to yourself and do something about it?

You’re not abnormal, you know — you’re part of a growing group of seekers who aren’t finding the truth where you’re told it will be. Want to find it? Get out your Bible, read it for yourself, and ask God to give you the faith you need to believe in Him.

Evening Waltz — The Story of This Painting

The best ballroom is outside, where the lights overhead are the setting sun and the rising stars. Evening Waltz, original oil painting by Steve Henderson; licensed open edition print at Framed Canvas Art.

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

It is a beauteous evening, and a young couple dances in a ballroom of light, motion, movement, and sound. The song is the sound of the waves and the wild sea birds, and if there is an audience, they are not aware of it.

Like many people who come to the coast, this couple is in a world of their own, and because the sky is so big, the ocean so vast, and the beach so unending, they have their corner of it entirely to themselves. Seldom do we feel such freedom and grace.

Many years ago, when Steve and Carolyn and their children were walking on the sand, embraced in the atmosphere of the ocean, they passed by a young couple. The man was on one knee, in the classic pose of asking a woman’s hand in marriage, and the woman was still, listening to his words.

The entire beach stopped, every eye circumspectly watching this moment, but the couple was completely oblivious to what was happening. Vaguely, we were all aware of giving these people their privacy, but another part of us was drawn to a moment of classic romance, the kind that we frequently can’t get enough of in movies and in books. We ridicule ourselves, or others, for being sappy, but there is nothing sappy about human emotion and devotion, love for one another, and the desire to commit.

We continued walking on, granting the couple their moment, and because dusk was falling and the gentle hills of the sand intervened, we left that couple in that moment in time, and we never did discover the answer.

But we’re sure it was “yes.”

Evening Waltz, the original oil painting by Steve Henderson, is available for purchase through the website. The 30 x 36 painting is gallery wrapped and ready to hang without any frame. Evening Waltz is also available as a licensed, open edition print through Framed Canvas Art.

A generous collection of Steve’s work is available as licensed, open edition prints through Framed Canvas Art.

Read the Rest of the newsletter at Start Your Week with Steve.

Please contact Carolyn@SteveHendersonFineArt to inquire about any of Steve’soriginal oil and watercolor paintings or licensed open edition prints.

Shipping of original paintings, purchased through Steve Henderson Fine Art, is free to the U.S. and Canada. All other areas, contact us and we’ll figure out the shipping charges.

Check out Steve’s artwork at Steve Henderson Fine ArtOriginal paintings – licensed open edition prints – Santa and Holiday. Steve’s licensed work is available at Great Big CanvasiCanvasARTAmazon.comLight in the Box, and Framed Canvas Art.

If you are a manufacturer who would like to use Steve’s artwork on your products, please contact his agents, Matt Appelman (matt.appelman@artlicensing.com). You can see Steve’s Art Licensing page here.

Check out, also, Steve and Carolyn’s products at Amazon.com:

The Misfit Christian: Empowering the Believers and Seekers Who Don’t Fit into Contemporary Church (paperback and digital book)

Live Happily on Less: 52 Ways to Renovate Your Life and Lifestyle (paperback and digital book)

Grammar Despair: Quick, simple solutions to problems like, “Do I say Him and Me or He and I?” (paperback and digital book)

Step by Step Watercolor Success (digital DVD workshop designed for beginning to intermediate watercolor students and artists)

 

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