The Artist’s Palette

The Artist’s Palette

By Pat Knight

Quickly they flutter to earth like thousands of brightly colored confetti pieces. They crunch when we walk, rustle in the wind, and swirl around our feet. Autumn leaves in New England are delightful. The bright reds and oranges, the most brilliant of all, are products of the sugar maple trees. Birches add yellow, while the reddish-brown leaves fall from stalwart oak trees. All of them in an assorted mixture form breathtaking landscapes.

While the leaves remain attached to the branches, iridescent splendor shines a blaze of autumn hues in the sunlight. En masse the foliage creates a surge of brilliant color, while individually the leaves resemble startling tongues of fire. As the leaves dry and float to the ground, they are scattered by autumn breezes. They flail against vertical surfaces, congregate in heaps, and dance in circles, spinning into a mini-twister before collapsing into an exhausted pile. Such provocative scenes awaken the senses during the dramatic transformation into the fall season.

Change may be comforting or threatening depending on circumstances and individual interpretation. When the cool, crisp days and nights of autumn burst on the scene following the suffocating heat of summer, it offers great relief. In that case, transformation is appealing. The phenomena of changing temperature and magnificent foliage is an anticipated ushering in of the fall season of the year. In the Northeast, we experience four distinct seasons. We are accustomed to change. No season lasts longer than a few months before the next one is introduced. It is the variety of seasons that entices many to live in northern states.

Though variation is interesting and often necessary, there are some things we expect to remain constant or immovable. God’s love and sovereignty are steadfast and reliable. “‘I am the Lord. I do not change’” (Malachi 3:6). When God establishes a covenant with man, He always keeps His promise. God cannot transmute His character. He is pure, holy, divine, and powerful.

Though neither God nor His promises vary, He has masterminded the change of seasons. He could have created a colorless transition, but God chose to splash His beautiful palette throughout the earth. Consider His splendor in sunsets, rainbows, rock sculptures, spraying sea mist, purple mountains capped with snow. God has authored natural beauty. “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17). Our Lord remains constant, complete, and fulfilled. His character is dependable.

When God commanded Moses to lead the Israelites out of bondage in Egypt, Moses wanted to know whom he should tell his people had sent him on the mission. God’s reply was quick and sure. “‘I AM who I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: I AM has sent me to you’” (Exodus 3:14). God has always existed and always will. He declares, “‘I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.’” (Revelation 22:13). In order for God to create the world and everything in it, He existed before the world.

For centuries God promised the Israelites a Savior. When Isaiah 53 was written in approximately 700 BC, the Man of Calvary was described in detail. The people expected their king to reign with power and conquer their enemies in his kingdom on earth. Few believed that the baby born in Bethlehem was the prophesied Messiah. God had kept His Word. His Son brought God’s promised love and saving grace to the world. He preached a personal, innovative Gospel that enraged the legalistic religious leaders. When Jesus professed to be the Son of God, the temple worshippers were infuriated by His claim. They “took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw Him off the cliff. But, He walked right through the crowd and went on His way” (Luke 4:29).

Denials and persecution of Jesus didn’t change His sovereign status; He remained Lord. Repudiating God’s deity will never alter the fact that He existed before the beginning of time. God is constant, stable, unswerving, and steadfast. In spite of individual disbelief, one day every person shall confess His Lordship. “At the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:10-11).

Throughout Scripture, God affirmed His Son’s authenticity and authority. “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the Head over every power and authority” (Colossians 2:9). Jesus is our secure, unmovable, unchanging Lord and Savior.

God is an artist, painting both softly muted and brightly sparkling scenery. Daily He changes the pigments on His canvas. Though God makes sweeping modifications of landscape, His character is unchangeable.

“But you, Lord, sit enthroned forever; your renown endures through all generations. You remain the same and your years will never end” (Psalm 102:12, 27). We invest our lives in a God who is forever the same, who keeps His promises, and who desires to live with us forever. “Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God” (Psalm 90:2). He is eternal. Because He lives forever, He offers us an identical future. “The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23b).

With each new day I am more sensitized to my surroundings, attributing their magnificence to God, the creator, artist, and pigment-maker. Encompassed with such visual luxury, I am going to allot more time to appreciate the changing beauty apparent in each new day, confident that Almighty God will never change.

First Day of Autumn

 Dear brothers and sisters, be patient as you wait for the Lord’s return.
Consider the farmers who patiently wait for the rains
in the fall and in the spring.
They eagerly look for the valuable harvest to ripen.
 
You, too, must be patient.
Take courage, for the coming of the Lord is near.

—James 5:7-8, NLT

Happy First Day of Autumn!

James5-7-8--AutumnLake-AMP

Brothers and sisters,
be patient until the Lord comes again.
A farmer patiently waits for his valuable crop
to grow from the earth and for it to receive
the autumn and spring rains.

You, too, must be patient.
Do not give up hope,
because the Lord is coming soon.
—James 5:7-8

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My Comfort in Suffering

This is my current desktop photo and I wanted to share it with you. I love the brilliant fall colors, which serve to accent this comforting and wonderful passage from Psalms.

Ps119-50-Fall

Remember your word to your servant,
    for you have given me hope.
My comfort in my suffering is this:
    Your promise preserves my life.
—Psalm 119:49-50

Hello Autumn!

I am originally from upstate New York but have been living in the Southwest since 1994. This saturation of autumn color is what I miss most about living in the Northeast. I have always loved the change of color during the cool autumns in the Adirondack Mountains not too far from where I grew up.

I know many of you have already done this but I guess it’s time for this girl to dress up our home for fall!

Oh, and let’s not forget the kind of comfort cooking and eating that is just too heavy to enjoy in the summer heat. Hmm… what shall I make first? Apple or pumpkin pie? Crock pot chili or stew?

How about you? What do you do to celebrate autumn?

Less than semi-homemade

I used to be able to spend lots of hours cooking and baking in my kitchen — that is, until my health took a nosedive. Now I need to sit down and rest a lot in between tasks, so I’ve been cooking “less than semi-homemade” for quite a while.

No offense to Sandra Lee, whose “semi-homemade” cooking I love, but she puts more effort and time into those lovely dishes (and her tablescapes, I might add!), and these days I can’t even manage that.

So, my definition for “less than semi-homemade” cooking is this: take a box, package or can of something or other, add a few ingredients, and voila! It looks like I spent quite a bit of time over it, and may even taste that way on a good day, but in reality has only taken maybe 15 minutes (minus cooking or baking time).

One of my favorite easy dessert recipes is an apple crostata, which is a fancy name for a rustic apple pie. It involves slicing a few apples and adding a little sugar, flour, and some spices, and literally tossing them together into a refrigerated pie crust. This is especially yummy when served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

During the colder months, like right now, I like to use my slow cooker quite often because the end result is a very homey meal with very little effort. My go-to slow cooker dinner is simply to take some frozen chicken breasts and add one can of either cream of mushroom or cream of chicken soup, a can of sliced mushrooms, a can of sliced potatoes, and a can of sliced carrots. I add some seasoned salt to the cream soup to give it a little zest and pour it over the other ingredients. About 1/2 hour before I’m going to serve dinner, I bake some canned biscuits, and a real comfort dinner is ready for us.

So what’s for dinner tonight? I bought an after-Thanksgiving turkey breast on sale and am going to roast it. Since the oven will be hot, I’ll toss in a couple of potatoes during the last hour to bake at the same time. My green veggie dish will be fresh green beans steamed first and then sauteed with butter, chopped onions, garlic and fresh mushrooms. Oh yeah!

And that apple crostata pictured above? That’s what’s for dessert!

Give Thanks to God

“Oh come, let us sing to the LORD;
let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!
For the LORD is a great God,
and a great King above all gods.”

–Psalm 95:1-3, ESV

This year has been one of ups and downs for me, but the ups far outweigh the downs. The best thing that happened in my life this year concerns my son. After praying diligently for him for many years, he came back to the Lord and was baptized in September. And the day after that, he was on a plane to Albania where he was part of a medical mission team. To say that this mother’s heart was full of thanksgiving and praise to the Lord is a gross understatement!

All around us things are happening that make life a challenge. My daily battle with migraines continues but the pattern has changed somewhat. I still wake up with a migraine every morning and go to bed with one every night. The difference now is that on many days I am migraine-free for about four hours so I can at least feel somewhat human and get a few things done around the house.

The other day a close friend who has been estranged from her son for several years received the sweetest note from him as the first step in a joyful reconciliation. In this note, he asked for forgiveness and told her that God had been doing a work in his heart.

My husband and I were saddened to hear of the recent sudden death of a dear friend we knew when we lived in California. We shared many a Saturday morning over coffee, discussing many things including Biblical matters. We don’t know if he ever came to know the healing power of Jesus Christ, but our heavy hearts are comforted by the fact that God knows, and that is enough for us.

Read or watch the news and it is easy to see that all over the country people are struggling with health and financial issues, family and personal relationships, extreme weather devastation, and job problems. Our cost of living is constantly on the rise in direct contrast to most people’s income staying the same or going down.

And yet, in spite of all this, God is always with us and ever in control.

Is life getting you down? Are you wondering when — or if — your suffering will ever end? Why not do something completely different than what our normal human tendency dictates? I’m talking about a radical approach to everyday life, a way of lifting ourselves up before we get mired down in the muck of life as we know it. Here it is: thank God for each and every thing in your life, the bad as well as the good.

Wow… really? Yes, really! It is understandably difficult to thank God for illness, questionable finances, family problems…and on and on. But — and here it comes — how we will be blessed!

Huh?

This is more than the power of positive thinking. It is an inner calm and a peace that “surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7), not in spite of your circumstances but because of them. See what I mean? Radical, right?

Beloved, our thanks to God ought to be because of who He is, not for what He does or does not do for us. We need to be thankful for every single thing in our lives, whether good or bad, because these are what He uses to shape us into who He wants us to be. And the first and best thing we should thank Him for is the ultimate gift of His Son, Jesus Christ, Who died in our place, for our sins. How awesome is that?

I wonder if changing our thought process this way would change our outlook on life. I mean, if we remember to thank God first for everything in our lives, wouldn’t that change our view of our circumstances?

Since I am a visual person, I like to picture this: place your arms out wide — this is how much we think we need; now place your hands about six to eight inches apart — this is how much we actually need.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, please forgive us for not always acknowledging who You are and how much You have given us. Thank You for sending Your Son to die on our behalf so that we can spend eternity loving and worshipping You on Your throne. Help us to always remember that You want the best for us, even when we can’t see or understand it. We love You, Lord, thank You for being our All in All!

*~*~*

“I thank God for my handicaps, for through them, I have found myself, my work, and my God.”    –Helen Keller

“The unthankful heart discovers no mercies; but the thankful heart will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings.” –Henry Ward Beecher

“Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” –1 Thessalonians 5:15-18