iPainting: Mountains In The Ross Style

I grew up watching Bob Ross with my Grandmother, Virginia Hill. We both enjoyed his amazing and unique style of art. Our newest iPainting is in honor of him. We hope you enjoy “Mountains In The Ross Style”.

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Through Faith

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Hebrews 11:3
3 Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.

I love this verse, but Wednesday night during Bible Study at Point Of Mercy in Nashville something happened. The first four words stuck out to me like never before. As Christians, we tend to focus on the big event parts of Bible verses, in this case the “worlds were framed … .” It’s in our nature, Wednesday though, those four words lit up in my heart.

I checked six different translations, and out of all of them, there were only two differences. In the KJV, the first word was the word through, and in all the others it was the word by. The only other difference was in The Message, instead of the word understand, it used the word see.

One of those translations was the Amplified Bible, and even it, with all of its descriptions, couldn’t improve on the phrase. “Through {By} faith we understand {see}”, stop there. The rest of the Scripture is of such importance that we don’t always appreciate this phrase.

Exodus 31:1
1 And I have filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship,

When God calls a man named Bezaleel to build The Ark and The Tabernacle, He fills Him with The Spirit of God, and gives him three things. He gives him wisdom, understanding, and knowledge. He had to have all three to accomplish his mission.

He needed the knowledge of what to do with the materials God gave Moses. He had to have the wisdom to know how to build it. Most of all, he had to have understanding to comprehend the instructions God gave Moses.

Knowledge is beautiful, wisdom is precious, but without understanding, they are useless. Knowledge are the facts of something, the events that happened, the answers to questions. Wisdom knows when to use that knowledge. Understanding though, is what makes the other two accessible.

Without understanding, you cannot hope to retain knowledge. If you don’t understand something, then you have no desire to store it in your memory banks. Wisdom and understanding, while not the same thing, are twins. One knows when to use a particular piece of knowledge, or skill. Understanding is comprehension.

You might say knowledge is knowing what, wisdom is knowing when, and understanding is knowing why. I’ve gone on record in the past that I feel, in most cases, why is overrated. I still believe that, when it comes to many circumstances. Here why isn’t about obtaining knowledge to make everything make sense on my terms. Instead, here why is about true understanding.

Understanding that, no matter what, even if it’s something that I cannot comprehend, I can make it. In Hebrews 11:3, God isn’t relying on our wisdom or our knowledge. For example, I believe without a shadow of a doubt, that God created the worlds in six 24 hour days. I know this through understanding. Many have the knowledge that The Bible says this, but they can’t comprehend it.

Even scientists, with opposing views, have the wisdom to articulate the Biblical perspective when presenting both sides of the argument. They don’t believe it, but they have those facts, and can utilize them. What do we, as Believers, have that they don’t? The understanding, by Faith we see, even though we were not present at creation.

Through faith we see God speaking the worlds into existence. Through faith, we see Him saying “Let there be light, and there was light.” In short, through Him, we see far beyond our wisdom and our knowledge.

There have been times in my life where I could say By Faith I see. The answer, in those times, came naturally even if it wasn’t easy. By Faith, in my mind, indicates those times where the right choice is obvious. By Faith is like riding on a mighty warhorse into a noble battle.

Through Faith is a little harder, it’s those times when at first, I don’t understand. Through Faith is when, like a ship in the midst of the storm, I ride inside, while the waves try to scare me. Either way, just as long as I never give up, faith will take me all the way to understanding.

The question is, in my fiercest trial, what will I understand after the smoke clears? It’s probably not what you think. Some battles I’ve faced, I don’t know why I’ve faced them. I don’t know how it fit into my journey. Some answers will only get when we see Jesus. What I understand though, through Faith, is one day We Will See Jesus! He doesn’t ignore our cries, no more than He would our pain. Christ answers, not always the questions we ask, but those we should. One man who knew that more than anyone was Paul.

1 Corinthians 13:12
12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

2 Timothy 4:7-8
7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: 8 Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.

The Apostle Paul had a problem, a thorn in His flesh. He had the knowledge that God could move it. He had the wisdom to ask God to take it away. God said no. He said that His grace was sufficient for him. Paul couldn’t see what good this thorn was to him, or how this would work for God’s glory.

What Paul could see was why it wasn’t removed. The constant was not only grace, but faith. He had  enough faith to trust that The One he served, and His grace was sufficient for His need. In the end, Paul said, I’ve kept the faith, I’ll see Jesus, and He’ll reward me with His righteousness, just as He promised from the beginning.

When difficult times arise in my life, there is so much that I cannot see, and yet through faith I see. I see a God that has never forsaken me. I see a God who, has experience drying my tears. I understand that He is able to change my situation, but loves me enough not to alter what’s best for me. Like the Earth, Mars, Jupiter, etc. He’s framing my world. The painting isn’t complete until it’s secured in the frame.

Oh, the paint may be dry. The signature is on the canvas, it looks good, but it’s not ready for display yet. Once it’s framed, it’s ready for the gallery. I believe that gallery is opening soon, but not just yet. I can’t see how it all will come together, but Through Faith, I know it will come together, in Him. No matter what age you are, no matter what you’ve been through, you’re not finished yet.

Your soul may be dry and crusting over with pain, or hardened in sin, but I’ve never seen a life that God couldn’t salvage. His blood turns an old ugly painting into a bright white new canvas. One filled with possibilities, life, and with hope. You don’t have to understand what is happening, or how it will work out, just understand why it’s going to be okay.

It’s going to be okay because He is holding you. It’s going to be okay, because while you haven’t, He has been here before. I’ve seen loved ones face their own health problems gripping the hand of God. We’ve said goodbye to family members, not knowing why it was happening, but at the same time understanding that He knows.

Just like Creation, I don’t know how a world can be formed from nothing, but He does. I cannot understand the Wisdom that God had to speak Light and Life into existence, but He does. As I face battles that terrify me, struggles that cause me to panic, and trials that confuse me, I can say something. By faith I understand that He knows why, how, and when this will work for my good.

He knows where in the painting to plant the trees, the rocks, and the river. He knows how high to make the mountain, and how deep to make the valley. It’s not so deep that I will fall, but it’s deep enough that I will call on Him. In my painting, the sun isn’t always visible, but it’s always shining through the clouds.

I can’t speak to why this is happening to you, when it will be over, or how it all makes sense. I can tell you that He will cradle you. Jesus cares for you, and He will carry you through. The same God that completed the world that He placed us in, will complete you and I. By faith we understand!

140 Mile Stretch: Always A Tightrope

“There are four species of skylark, they are primarily located in Europe, Asia, and the mountains of North Africa. Like the bird, when our country was young, Project Skylark, was mainly located in Europe. Agents worked in small swift units to defend our fledgling land from imperial espionage. Later, Project Skylark was involved in Asia, especially during what you call World War II. After that, there were several Skylark teams in both arenas, none of them knowing about the existence of the others.”

Samuel Osgood paused to let this sink in, as he drank a coffee that he had never tasted before. “Secret ops are nothing new. They’re apparently older than I thought. I knew President Washington had spies, but I never connected it with Skylark. Where is the epicenter of what you’re concerned about?” Alex asked.

“North Africa, apparently, at the time that is important to this business a discovery located there will be important. A new type of technology will be discovered. It will threaten our nation’s survival once more. Your job, at the right time, will be to stop it.” “When will that be?”

“I don’t know, Tom didn’t tell me. He said that you must be prepared, but telling you when might alter the future. It was a big enough risk telling us both what he has told us. We must labor not to change the course of history, until such a time that we must prevent the course of history from being changed.”

“Oh great, a tight rope, thank Tom for me.” Samuel Osgood laughed. “Take it from someone who survived a Revolution, maintaining freedom is always a tightrope.” Osgood stood up to leave. “Before you go, is there anything else that he told you to tell me?” He paused. “Yes, he said to tell you only if you asked that specific question. He said to give you a name, Walter Reynolds.”

Osgood left silently as Alex just sat there. Honestly, Alex wasn’t sure how quiet his departure had been, he didn’t really see him leave. His mind was on something else, the face of Walter Reynolds. Alex had tried his best to forget that name, and that face. Now, a new matter brought it flooding back into his life.

He took out his ever present notebook and wrote his thoughts down, though not in his typical verbage. He wrote in a code, known only to himself, and two others. If anyone else saw the note, it would look like a list of things to do on his next trip to see his parents. That way, he was in no danger, if it was ever read by anyone. At the top of the list, ‘Take Walter to the circus’, even though he knew that was the last place Walter Reynolds wanted to go.

 

 

Adams, Friendship, & Faith

imageA Letter From Adams To Jefferson:

Now I will avow, that I then believed, and now believe, that those general Principles of Christianity, are as eternal and immutable, as the Existence and Attributes of God; and that those Principles of Liberty, are as unalterable as human Nature and our terrestrial, mundane System.

He was not popular, he wasn’t celebrated, in fact he was mocked. They jokingly referred to him as “His Rotundness”. John Adams was not George Washington, but that wasn’t his problem. I doubt a second Washington would have lived up to the scrutiny of Washingyon’s shadow. Adams problem was also his virtue, he was John Adams.

Was he perfect? Are you and I? He had faults yes, but he also had virtues. Adams was asked to defend a group of soldiers that had killed five civilians in a skirmish. He knew taking the job would hurt his reputation.

What defense was he to use? He selected something that, at the time, was unpopular. Adams chose the truth. “Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”  – John Adams

In this same trial, he promoted a concept that would become a pillar of our judicial system. The importance of innocence. He showed that while the eyes of Justice are restricted, her heart is open.

“It is more important that innocence be protected than it is that guilt be punished, for guilt and crimes are so frequent in this world that they cannot all be punished.

But if innocence itself is brought to the bar and condemned, perhaps to die, then the citizen will say, “whether I do good or whether I do evil is immaterial, for innocence itself is no protection,” and if such an idea as that were to take hold in the mind of the citizen that would be the end of security whatsoever.”

The result, six of those men were acquitted. He may not have been shaped like a soldier, but he was a champion of individual freedom. Adams never owned slaves. Decades before President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, Adams abolished it officially in the Massachusetts State Constitution. This man who left the Presidency unwanted, left behind many gifts to our country.

While President, he prevented a costly war with France. He sent William Vans Murray on a peace mission to France. This succeeded in securing peace, and in even winning over the future Emperor Napoleon. This was more than most of Europe could boast.

Adams appointed John Marshall as the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Marshall established the principle that laws passed, when contradictory to the Constitution, can be overturned.  Before his death, he would see his son, John Quincy Adams, follow him into the Presidency. Many more of the Adams’ line would serve in public office.

After years of political rivalry, the post Presidency allowed him to rekindle a friendship.  Thomas Jefferson and himself, former friends, had become political enemies. Now, out of the public conflict, they could rediscover what they liked about one another.

Learn this lesson of friendship, what separates you doesn’t have to dissolve your relationship. Be honest about you disagreements, but remain friends. Friendship isn’t compromise, it’s friendship. The Lord Jesus referred to Judas as a friend even during the act of betrayal. Please understand, Judas betrayed the friendship, Jesus never did!

The Church can disagree with certain points of view without a mean spirit. We can voice our problems with certain practices, while still practicing friendship with its practictioners. Adams and Jefferson were still themselves, but they were friends with different views. The Lord, who lead a sinless life, is still the sinner’s greatest friend.

Christ came neither to condone or to condemn, but to connect. Adams, the Un-Washington, was awkward, but he helped to establish the United States Of America. In this day, your Faith may be called out of date, but it’s no accident that this is the time that God placed you in.

Love,defend, and befriend. Adams did. As a result, he left his imprint on our country’s foundation. At the end of your term on this Earth, you’ll be surprised at what you see. In the end, you are exactly what God wanted you to be. You are you, and with God’s help, the combination of Him in you, will change the world.

iPainting: The Sahara Lions Series

I love technology.  When used productively, it offers all kinds of options.  People criticize filters on photographs, but artists have used various “filters” for years. Van Gough painted two versions of his famous haystacks.

Long before Warhol, and his variation soup cans, Gilbert Stuart painted 130 variations of his portrait of Washington. By the way, he never finished the first one.  It was called The Athenaeum, he used it as a template. You’ve seen it though, it’s the picture of President Washington on the one dollar bill.

In keeping with that, I painted a simple picture of a Sahara Lion using a different digital tool than my iPad mini.  As odd as it may sound, the original was painted using Microsoft Paint.  After that, I applied some filters in PowerPoint to it.  The variations themselves make for an interesting series we call, “The Sahara Lions”.

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SaharaLion3

SaharaLion2

 

I Don’t Know, And That’s Ok

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Psalms 133

1 LORD, my heart is not haughty, nor mine eyes lofty: neither do I exercise myself in great matters, or in things too high for me.

2 Surely I have behaved and quieted myself, as a child that is weaned of his mother: my soul [is] even as a weaned child.

3 Let Israel hope in the LORD from henceforth and for ever.

One of my favorite Psalms is nestled away in a section known as The Song Of Degrees. I say it this way because, it isn’t talked about very much. It sits quietly waiting for someone to read it, and to realize how valuable it is. This three verse Psalm contains a message that has kept me through the years of my life.

We live in a world of wonder, in regards to technology and knowledge. Information that once filled the volumes of libraries, places restricted to the well breed and financially stable, now flood the internet. Growing up, one of my cherished possessions, was a set of encyclopedias that my parents bought me. Today, more information than could fill those books, is just a click away.

When I was younger, I used to think that one of the worst sentences that I could speak was “I don’t know.” It took me a while to learn that, not only was there things that I didn’t know, some other information I would never know. Today, one of the most liberating phrases in my vocabulary is, “I don’t know.”

What made the difference? People who were smarter than I was taught me that not knowing was ok. They were, and are amazing teachers that God placed into my life to explain that I didn’t have to know everything. They gave me the courage to learn.

I am a fan of knowledge. When someone talks about a subject like history, or makes a discovery, I’m a cheerleader. I’m a fan of individuals that most people never heard of, men like Baron Von Stockmar, Henri Guisan, and James Sherman. So it may seem an oxymoron to say, that not knowing helped increase my knowledge, but it’s so true.

When you’re afraid of not knowing, you’re too busy being scared to learn something. If you accept the fact, that there is so much more than you understand, it shuts fear down. You’re not too stubborn to learn, you’re not incapable of learning, you were just afraid of not already knowing.

The Psalmist understood this very well, oh David was smart. He was the man who had a heart after God’s heart. This was the one who composed countless Psalms, received the blueprints for Solomon to build the Temple, and fought countless battles. Oh, he was smart. Smart enough to know that some things, he would never understand.

So after countless Revelations, Prophecies, and Victories, God uses him to pen this Psalm. The first verse is my favorite. It’s the one that I held on to when nothing made sense, it’s the one that I still hold to when nothing makes sense.

People look at Christians and many pity us. They consider us old fashioned, and out of date with modern society. As a result, we have attempted to prove what we know to be true. I can tell you, without doubt, that we have more scientific proof for a Creator than for mutating amoebas. I can set down with a number of highly intelligent people and explain to them why I serve a loving and caring God.

I’m not talking about ignorance, God made us to know everything we can. This is why He said to “Study the Scriptures to show thyself approved, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed.” It’s also why, in the book of Job as well as others, He points us to the stars to understand science and nature. What I’m talking about is something more.

David never said he didn’t exercise himself in matters that he could reach. A child will play with anything it can pick up. However, even a two year old knows that it can’t reach something on the roof of a building. That is what I’m talking about with this article. When I was younger, I tried to reach the ceiling with a step stool. Today, I watch as God climbs down the ladder to meet my need.

1 LORD, my heart is not haughty, nor mine eyes lofty: neither do I exercise myself in great matters, or in things too high for me.

To paraphrase, the Psalmist is saying, “Lord, I know my limitations. I’m not arrogant enough to act like I know more than I do. I don’t try and walk in areas that are above me. I don’t try and stand on my tip toes to reach what has been placed out of path for safety.” In the past, I would have tried to grasp what I couldn’t handle, and hurt myself in the process.

Today, if I don’t understand, I pray for the understanding. If it comes, I walk in it, God has placed it on my level. If the understanding isn’t revealed, I leave it to my Father. I trust that He is smart enough to take care of it. I may not understand it, but I do understand Him. I know that He cares for me. I know that He loves me. I know that He will protect me. In the end, when it comes right down to it, that is really all that we absolutely have to know!

 

iPainting: Wall Art

I was in a showroom the other day, and I saw all kinds of artwork with an abstract look to it.  They were big elaborate pieces in a style that I’ve never been a huge fan of. Still, it was a challenge to see if I could paint something like it myself.  Here are the interior design pieces “Staying The Course”, “Mammoth”, and “Man Of Steel”.  Please let us know what you think of our art experiment @ pruittwrites@gmail.com, with the subject “Wall Art”.

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The Italian Hatmaker: I Wouldn’t Have To Ask

“Then we will make camp here. Princess, after we and your soldiers setup camp, they will tie Ethan and myself up. If either King investigates, they will find their cousin a hero. You will give us to whichever King arrives first. This will rescue your life, and buy us the time.”

Giuseppe didn’t wait for an argument, he simply started gathering wood for a fire. Ethan froze in place. As the Italian Hatmaker walked into the woods beside their new camp, the Princess spoke to Ethan. “He’s brave isn’t he? To volunteer for captivity is gallant.”

Ethan looked at her, aroused from his shock. “It’s better than dying isn’t your Majesty?” This time it was the Princess who froze momentarily, then she whispered. “Perhaps, but captivity is not easy.” “No your Highness, I guess it isn’t, even if it’s from a palace.” With that, Ethan went off to help his friend.

Now, Henri joined her. “You take to many risks your Highness.” “I suppose I do Henri, but my brother knows how desperate I am. I left him a letter before I volunteered to be ‘kidnapped’ by our English cousin. In it I explained that I would die if I married for any reason other than love.”

Henri looked at the strong young lady that he had grew up serving. “What do you suppose his response would be?” She laughed a laugh that was both painful and cruel. Although the cruelty was not hers, it was a mimic of her brother. “Then marry for love of your kingdom my sister. You’ll learn to love my ally in time.”

“I take it you’ve had this part of the conversation with him before?” “The night before I left Paris, I escaped, I suspected that I would never find love if I hadn’t.” Henri smiled. “I suspect that the hat maker’s friend was right, you think you may like him?” “I don’t know him Henri, but I would like to see what he looked like minus the beard and mustache.”

“I suspect, it would have to be but spoken, and he’d be willing.” She shook her head no. “I would not ask that on a whim. If he loved me, I wouldn’t have to ask at all.” With that remark, the Princess walked towards her horse.

Henri found Giuseppe and Ethan. “The Princess favors you my friend, but not your companion.” Ethan immediately took offense. “I’m not partial to her either!” Henri laughed. “Not you my friend, the one that protects Giuseppe’s chin. She does not like his beard, nor his mustache for that matter.”

Giuseppe flashed with an anger of his own. “I have had them both since I was a young man. Why should I shave them for a woman that called me ugly!” Henri laughed. “It was not you of which she spoke, it was of your companions.” “Why should I care?” “Oh, but you do don’t you. I know it is asking a lot, and she did not ask. The Princess would not be pleased that I am here.”

“Then why are you?” “My Wife and I were walking through Paris one day. We passed by a small flower cart, filled with the most beautiful flowers. I commented on how I enjoyed the carnations, but my wife preferred the lily.” “And Henri?” “We have such beautiful rows of lilies outside our home.”

“I can say goodbye to the beard, but not the mustache. My Mother remarked how much it made me look like my Father.” “I wonder what your Father gave up to see your Mother smile? For now, remove the beard. See if the reaction you receive will warrant saying goodbye to the other as well.”

He handed Giuseppe a razor, and walked away. The Italian Hatmaker returned to camp minus his beard. He would forget the other old friend, the one under is nose, just as soon as he saw the smile that graced the Princess’ face.