Can You Trump this Gettysburg Address from October 22, 2016?

I would like to ask everyone who thinks Trump is unacceptable as a candidate to listen to his speech and let me know where you think he’s “crazy” or totally wrong. He takes a hard line on the issues, and he stands against corruption everywhere, not just abroad but within our own government and borders, but I  don’t personally think he’s “wrong.” If we’re going to recover as a nation, we’re going to have to stop the internal bleeding and take some time out to heal.

If you don’t want to take time to listen to the whole thing but are willing to consider what he said, I took copious notes but then discovered that his entire plan was neatly laid out on his website, so here it is:

“I am asking the American people to rise above the noise and the clutter of our broken politics, and to embrace that great faith and optimism that has always been the central ingredient in the American character. I am asking you to dream big.


“What follows is my 100-day action plan to Make America Great Again. It is a contract between Donald J. Trump and the American voter – and begins with restoring honesty, accountability and change to Washington,” he concluded.



“Therefore, on the first day of my term of office, my administration will immediately pursue the following six measures to clean up the corruption and special interest collusion in Washington, DC:

  • FIRST, propose a Constitutional Amendment to impose term limits on all members of Congress;
  • SECOND, a hiring freeze on all federal employees to reduce federal workforce through attrition (exempting military, public safety, and public health);
  • THIRD, a requirement that for every new federal regulation, two existing regulations must be eliminated;
  • FOURTH, a 5 year-ban on White House and Congressional officials becoming lobbyists after they leave government service;
  • FIFTH, a lifetime ban on White House officials lobbying on behalf of a foreign government;
  • SIXTH, a complete ban on foreign lobbyists raising money for American elections.

On the same day, I will begin taking the following seven actions to protect American workers:

  • FIRST, I will announce my intention to renegotiate NAFTA or withdraw from the deal under Article 2205
  • SECOND, I will announce our withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership
  • THIRD, I will direct my Secretary of the Treasury to label China a currency manipulator
  • FOURTH, I will direct the Secretary of Commerce and U.S. Trade Representative to identify all foreign trading abuses that unfairly impact American workers and direct them to use every tool under American and international law to end those abuses immediately
  • FIFTH, I will lift the restrictions on the production of $50 trillion dollars’ worth of job-producing American energy reserves, including shale, oil, natural gas and clean coal.
  • SIXTH, lift the Obama-Clinton roadblocks and allow vital energy infrastructure projects, like the Keystone Pipeline, to move forward
  • SEVENTH, cancel billions in payments to U.N. climate change programs and use the money to fix America’s water and environmental infrastructure

Additionally, on the first day, I will take the following five actions to restore security and the constitutional rule of law:

  • FIRST, cancel every unconstitutional executive action, memorandum and order issued by President Obama
  • SECOND, begin the process of selecting a replacement for Justice Scalia from one of the 20 judges on my list, who will uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States
  • THIRD, cancel all federal funding to Sanctuary Cities
  • FOURTH, begin removing the more than 2 million criminal illegal immigrants from the country and cancel visas to foreign countries that won’t take them back
  • FIFTH, suspend immigration from terror-prone regions where vetting cannot safely occur. All vetting of people coming into our country will be considered extreme vetting.

Next, I will work with Congress to introduce the following broader legislative measures and fight for their passage within the first 100 days of my Administration:

1. Middle Class Tax Relief And Simplification Act. An economic plan designed to grow the economy 4% per year and create at least 25 million new jobs through massive tax reduction and simplification, in combination with trade reform, regulatory relief, and lifting the restrictions on American energy. The largest tax reductions are for the middle class. A middle-class family with 2 children will get a 35% tax cut. The current number of brackets will be reduced from 7 to 3, and tax forms will likewise be greatly simplified. The business rate will be lowered from 35 to 15 percent, and the trillions of dollars of American corporate money overseas can now be brought back at a 10 percent rate.

2. End The Offshoring Act Establishes tariffs to discourage companies from laying off their workers in order to relocate in other countries and ship their products back to the U.S. tax-free.

3. American Energy & Infrastructure Act. Leverages public-private partnerships, and private investments through tax incentives, to spur $1 trillion in infrastructure investment over 10 years. It is revenue neutral.

4. School Choice And Education Opportunity Act. Redirects education dollars to gives parents the right to send their kid to the public, private, charter, magnet, religious or home school of their choice. Ends common core, brings education supervision to local communities. It expands vocational and technical education, and make 2 and 4-year college more affordable.

5. Repeal and Replace Obamacare Act. Fully repeals Obamacare and replaces it with Health Savings Accounts, the ability to purchase health insurance across state lines, and lets states manage Medicaid funds. Reforms will also include cutting the red tape at the FDA: there are over 4,000 drugs awaiting approval, and we especially want to speed the approval of life-saving medications.

6. Affordable Childcare and Eldercare Act. Allows Americans to deduct childcare and elder care from their taxes, incentivizes employers to provide on-site childcare services, and creates tax-free Dependent Care Savings Accounts for both young and elderly dependents, with matching contributions for low-income families.

7. End Illegal Immigration Act Fully-funds the construction of a wall on our southern border with the full understanding that the country Mexico will be reimbursing the United States for the full cost of such wall; establishes a 2-year mandatory minimum federal prison sentence for illegally re-entering the U.S. after a previous deportation, and a 5-year mandatory minimum for illegally re-entering for those with felony convictions, multiple misdemeanor convictions or two or more prior deportations; also reforms visa rules to enhance penalties for overstaying and to ensure open jobs are offered to American workers first.

8. Restoring Community Safety Act. Reduces surging crime, drugs and violence by creating a Task Force On Violent Crime and increasing funding for programs that train and assist local police; increases resources for federal law enforcement agencies and federal prosecutors to dismantle criminal gangs and put violent offenders behind bars.

9. Restoring National Security Act. Rebuilds our military by eliminating the defense sequester and expanding military investment; provides Veterans with the ability to receive public VA treatment or attend the private doctor of their choice; protects our vital infrastructure from cyber-attack; establishes new screening procedures for immigration to ensure those who are admitted to our country support our people and our values

10. Clean up Corruption in Washington Act. Enacts new ethics reforms to Drain the Swamp and reduce the corrupting influence of special interests on our politics.

On November 8th, Americans will be voting for this 100-day plan to restore prosperity to our economy, security to our communities, and honesty to our government.

This is my pledge to you.

And if we follow these steps, we will once more have a government of, by and for the people.”

Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding” (Proverbs 3:13. I typically end my posts with a scripture verse, so this is not part of Trump’s statement, but rather my own benediction. May we all seek and find wisdom for ourselves and our countries, wherever we live around the world!)

What’s the Big Deal About Liberal v.s. Conservative Supreme Court Justices?

chris-wallace-moderating-third-presidential-debateThe first volley over the net from Chris Wallace to Clinton and Trump during the final presidential debate concerned their position on how to interpret our constitution and what type of justices they will recommend for our Supreme Court. Whoever becomes our next president will appoint one and possibly three or four justices during their term, and whom they appoint will tip the balance of power in the Supreme Court. What difference does that make?

hillary-clinton-third-presidential-debateClinton’s response? She began by pointing out how central this issue to the 2016 election, and I totally agree.  She will recommend liberal justices who believe in reinterpreting the constitution to suit the current cultural landscape, and she made specific statements about backing legislation to protect Planned Parenthood, the privilege of women to have abortions (even partial-birth abortions) and the privileges of the LGBT community. She also said she plans to stop the privileges of free speech for non-profit organizations like Citizens United, whose documentary, Hillary The Movie, exposed details of some of her better known scandals. Funny how that works, isn’t it?  Of course, like the well practiced politician she is, Hillary didn’t say she was in support of reinterpreting the constitution. She couched her stance in saying we need to be  “standing up to the powerful,” and in America, I think there’s no one more powerful than Hillary Clinton at the moment. In fact, she’s so powerful that she can keep the F.B.I. from prosecuting her. Now, that’s power…scary power.

donald-trump-third-presidential-debateBut I digress. Trump was clearly at the opposite end: “We need a Supreme Court that is going to uphold the second amendment…they will be pro-life” and have a conservative bent to uphold the constitution “the way it was meant to be.” As a history major in college who is a conservative in my view of constitutional law, I agree with Trump’s position. I want conservative justices on the bench who will uphold the law as written. I believe text trumps intention, and for me personally, Donald Trumps Hillary in this area.

Why? Because if justices can just reinterpret the meaning of the constitution to mean whatever they want, they’re basically doing an end-run around the law to change the law, but that’s illegal! It would destroy the foundation of our country’s laws…and eventually (I believe) our country. As Michael Stokes Paulsen (Distinguished University Chair and Professor of Law at the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis) points out in his newly published book, The Constitution: An Introduction:  “Legitimate constitutional interpretation consists of attending to the original, natural linguistic meaning of the text, in context, including the architecture of the Constitution as a whole.” If we allow reinterpretation of the text, we’ve lost the meaning of our Constitution, which is meant to be “the supreme law of the land” (Article Six).

If any of you are Christians but have only fuzzy memories of constitutional law from your studies of government in high school X number of years ago, perhaps it would be easier to think of “liberal” v.s. “conservative” judges in terms of “liberal” v.s. “conservative” interpretation of the Bible. Do you believe that “legitimate biblical interpretation consists of attending to the original, natural linguistic meaning of the text, in context, including the architecture of the Bible as a whole,” or do you think the Bible needs to be reinterpreted to suit the current cultural landscape? Should we re-interpret what the Ten Commandments mean by idolatry, lying, stealing, adultery and coveting? Or, do we need to acknowledge where we’re failing and return to the “royal law” (which defines what true love really looks like) so that we can conform our personal ideas to God’s “Golden Rule.”

If you recognize the supreme importance of continuing to interpret the Bible as it was originally intended by its Author, then hopefully you’ll also appreciate the importance of our country continuing to uphold our brilliantly craved constitution as it was written and intended. This foundation has had an essential part in making America the world’s #1 destination and favorite place to live. Why? Because up until now, America’s constitution has guaranteed her citizens the unprecedented freedoms of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness (not the promise of happiness being handed to us on a silver platter, but the freedom to work toward happiness as an attainable goal). These freedoms are on the chopping block, and unless we vigorously protect them by securing a continued literal interpretation of our Constitution, we’ll lose them.

Are they not the ones who blaspheme the honorable name by which you were called? If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors” (James 2:7-9, ESV).

Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).


Rise Up, My Love (209): Where are You Twining your Vine?

The Sea of GalileeSong of Solomon 6:11 “I went down into the garden of nuts to see the fruits of the valley, and to see whether the vine flourished, and the pomegranates budded.” First, the bride looked to see if she could see any fruit in the valley. Next, she looked to see “whether the vine flourished.” Notice that it is not “vines” as in many vines in a vineyard, but just one vine.   secret-garden-mackinac-island-9-18-05From John 15 we know that Christ is the true vine and we are the branches. How quickly reading about the vine flourishing brings to mind thoughts of believers abiding in Christ! The bride concerns herself not only with seeking new fruits for her Lord, but with the growth of the vine already established in the garden…the growth of the Church, the body of Christ. Indeed, the bride is the body of Christ here on earth. To go into the garden to examine the vine makes me think of going into a quiet place alone before God and prayerfully examining my own life. Am I flourishing? Am I abiding in Christ? Am I receiving an unobstructed flow of his Spirit, or is there any crushing weight of sin that has partially broken off my attachment to the vine? As I put forth delicate new tendrils, are they attaching firmly to the sturdy supports provided by the husbandman, or are the young shoots of my new growth waving free in the breeze…aimlessly waiting for any handy support?  garden-in-bunratty-folk-park-irelandDo you know much about vines? I still don’t know much, but I learned a little from planting a grape arbor along the fence around our swimming pool. The branches of the grape vines aren’t very smart! They don’t naturally seem to attach themselves to the sturdy fence provided. After returning from a vacation and inspecting my vines that June, I noticed that many of the young shoots were growing straight up into the air toward the sun, and one had wound its way tightly around a young nectarine tree that was planted nearby.  twining-vines-and-a-frogHow like humans, I thought! How often—particularly in our youthful ignorance— we tend to wave about in the breeze of life like the tendrils of young plants, just looking for someone or some group to shower us with sunny approval. Too often we go to the “highest bidder”…whoever pays the most attention or makes us feel most important, rather than bending down in humility and attaching ourselves to the sturdy fence “beneath” us (usually parents and other God-given guides). And yet, to be truly productive, we must learn to lean on our supports and abide in the Vine.  climbing-roses-on-a-brownstone-cottage-cotswold-englandEven after we’ve matured somewhat, we’re in still greater need of support, or we’ll never be able to “bear the weight of glory” so to speak…including the horrific pressures of bringing up children. Beyond that, think of all the people who’ve become prominent in society and then failed miserably. Even many extremely gifted Christians come apart at the seams when given lime light. Like fruit trees heavy with promise, their branches literally break under the load, and they lose much of the precious crop that was ripening within them. Trees that have lost branches are more open to infections. Sometimes the damage is so great that the entire tree becomes diseased and dies, or has to be pruned out of the orchard lest the infection spreads.

Isn’t that the way life is? Tenderly, I took the new shoots, carefully weaving them in and out of the fence. The ones that had grown straight up for too long were inflexible and commonly, despite my best efforts, would break off or require tying to retrain them. The shoot that had wound its way tightly around the nectarine had to be broken off completely, lest it choke the young nectarine. Ah, how our like our human tendency to reach up for glory or attach ourselves to someone or something else beside the one true God. Brokenness, retraining, wasted time, and sometimes a severe loss of life or limb. Such is our lot when we are wayward, for the Lord does promise to prune and chasten all whom he loves  (Revelation 3:19). He works with us so that we’ll become fruitful!peaches-in-the-sun

Grilled Veggies

grilling-veggiesBefore it gets too cold for grilling, I want to put in a plug for throwing some veggies on your grill along with any meat you might be planning for dinner.roasted-corn-in-husksThe first veggie I started routinely grilling was corn on the cob,
which is nicely insulated by the husks corn-roasted-and-peeling-cornso it retains excellent moisture, color, and flavor.

grilling-zucchini-and-egg-plantThis summer I’ve gotten more and more adventuresome, however, and now I grill eggplant, potatoes, zucchini, summer squash, carrots portobello mushrooms, onions (only turn once), asparagus, Brussels sprouts…you name it! If it can be sliced into pieces too large to fall between the grate (keep asparagus cross-wise) and won’t disintegrate (green tomatoes work, but not the mouth-watering, juicy red ones), they turn out great!summer-squash-on-grill I usually dress the veggies with a little flavored olive oil or Italian dressing and sprinkle some spices on top, and so far we’ve been fans of everything, although Alan’s personal favorite is summer squash, which he says tastes sweet.bowl-of-grilled-veggies-and-potoatoesIf you try it, let me know what you think, and if you’ve found some other veggies that I haven’t thought of yet, please let me know, will you? My theory is that every extra vegetable is one less empty carb on our plates!  🙂

“God be merciful unto us, and bless us; and cause his face to shine upon us; Selah. That thy way may be known upon earth, thy saving health among all nations” (Psalm 67:1-2).

Third Presidential Debate: Abortion Made Easy

10-20-16-abortion-third-presidential-debateA blog follower from down under asked me if findings from recent weeks had caused me to change my opinion concerning for whom to vote in the coming election. Yesterday I had lunch with a friend who mentioned that on her flight home from Israel she’d sat next to a Zionist who asked who she was planning to vote for in the upcoming election. In response, she asked who he’d vote for, and without missing a beat he said, “Well, Trump’s crazy, but Clinton’s a lying cheat.”  And we, fellow Americans, have put these two on the ballot. Regretfully, we deserve them, although I’m praying for personal and national repentance. May God forgive us and heal our land!

I’ve been trying to keep my mind and options open until I heard this last debate, which occurred last night. I thought Chris Wallace asked the perfect, pointed questions, and I wish Trump and Clinton had answered them all straightforwardly, but I felt they were clear enough on most issues. Over the next few days, I’ll definitely be mulling over the various questions posed at the debate, but today I want to discuss abortion, because the two candidates have polar views, and both articulated them very clearly.

Clinton defended her vote against the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003 (although it was ultimately enacted anyway), hiding behind rhetoric that it was about a woman’s health and that the legislation would not have done enough to protect the “life and health of the mother.” She said, “The kinds of cases that fall at the end of pregnancy are  often the most heartbreaking, painful decisions for families to make. I have met with women who have toward the end of their pregnancy get the worst news one could get, that their health is in jeopardy if they continue to carry to term or that something terrible has happened or just been discovered about the pregnancy. I do not think the United States government should be stepping in and making those most personal of decisions.” (I just transcribed what she said; I recognize that the rhetoric isn’t perfect grammatically.)

Trump was also clear in his position. He described partial-birth abortion as “ripping the baby out of the mother’s womb” and said, “Honestly, nobody has business doing  that as late as one or two or three or four days prior to birth. Nobody has that right.”

Clinton referred to Trump’s stand as “scare rhetoric” that “is terribly unfortunate.” This, folks, is where I have to take a stand. Have you read about partial-birth abortion? If I may quote Wikipedia:

“The statute includes two findings of Congress:

(1) A moral, medical, and ethical consensus exists that the practice of performing a partial-birth abortion… is a gruesome and inhumane procedure that is never medically necessary and should be prohibited.

(2) Rather than being an abortion procedure that is embraced by the medical community, particularly among physicians who routinely perform other abortion procedures, partial-birth abortion remains a disfavored procedure that is not only unnecessary to preserve the health of the mother, but in fact poses serious risks to the long-term health of women and in some circumstances, their lives. As a result, at least 27 States banned the procedure as did the United States Congress which voted to ban the procedure during the 104th, 105th, and 106th Congresses.”

So, I vehemently disagree both with Hillary’s support of a woman’s right to partial-birth abortion, and to her opinion that Trump was just using “terribly unfortunate” “scare rhetoric.” Partial-birth abortion is nothing less than murder and should be banned. I have a grandson who was a micro-preemie and survived at 27.5 weeks. Almost all babies survive well after 36 weeks if their skulls aren’t crushed inutero before being delivered. I personally know dozens of women who’ve paid $15,000-$20,000+ to adopt a baby from some foreign country because not enough babies are available in America. Many childless couples would love to be able to adopt a child that might otherwise have died through a partial-birth abortion procedure. (Six percent of American women are now considered infertile, and I’ve read that one in seven couples are infertile.) Let’s be honest about one thing: Partial-birth abortion is the immoral and evil killing of viable human life, and Hillary defends it.

Thou shalt not kill” (Exodus 20:13).

“It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish.” ~Mother Teresa

“The greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion, which is war against the child. The mother doesn’t learn to love, but kills to solve her own problems. Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want.” Mother Teresa

America needs no words from me to see how your decision in Roe v. Wade has deformed a great nation. The so-called right to abortion has pitted mothers against their children and women against men. It has shown violence and discord at the heart of the most intimate human relationships. It has aggravated the derogation of the father’s role in an increasingly fatherless society. It has portrayed the greatest of gifts ~ a child ~ as a competitor, an intrusion, and an inconvenience. It has nominally accorded mothers unfettered dominion over the independent lives of their physically dependent sons and daughters. And in granting this unconscionable power, it has exposed many women to unjust and selfish demands from their husbands or other sexual partners. Human rights are not a privilege conferred by government. They are every human being’s entitlement by virtue of his humanity. The right to life does not depend, and must not be declared to be contingent, on the pleasure of anyone else, not even a parent or a sovereign.”
~ Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta , “Notable and Quotable”, Wall Street Journal, 2/25/94 , p. A14 ~ (from Faithful Catholics)

Trip Notes on an ArtPrize Journey

from-the-rising-of-the-sun-lots-of-kids-visit      If you’re thinking about ArtPrize 9, I’d like to encourage you to go for it, early-visitors-to-artprizeeven though last Friday marked the end of this year’s ArtPrize 8 adventure for me, and I feel a bit like my husband used to after a camping trip to Disney with our kids when they were young.hanging-the-mural-for-artprize For about the first week, he’d say, “NEVER AGAIN!” But, slowly he’d regain his energy, forget the problems, and remember all the joys on the journey. Within a month or two, he’d be daydreaming about our next big adventure. artprize-8-mural-installed-in-back-lobby-of-holiday-innThis has been my reaction to ArtPrize also. My mural didn’t win any awards, nor did anybody find it an indispensable addition to the decor of their institution.silvio-reinstalling-collagesSo, my trusty builder friend, Silvio, helped me bring all twenty collages home, and he’s hung them up to brighten Tanglewood Cottage. hanging-collages-at-homeThe last time our home decor was updated was twenty-three years ago when we moved to GR…so it’s about time for a facelift anyway.

variegated-rose-copy    Also…I’m already dreaming about a next possible project for ArtPrize 9!  🙂  artzprize-8-kathryn-w-armstrongs-mural-being-installed-at-the-holiday-inn        Am I discouraged? No. Wouldn’t it have been great to win? Of course. artprize-8-installation Was it worth all the effort? You bet!
trump-visits-artprizeAll sorts of people come to ArtPrize from everywhere!
larry-and-kari-visitingI talked to literally hundreds of people, including lots of friends.groups-of-school-children-visit-artprize-8and dozens of groups of school children.friends-stopping-by-kathryn-w-armstrongs-mural-for-artprize-8 Friends stopped by to encourage me, lisas-family-visits-artprizemany bringing members of their family whom I’d never met before.bonnie-visits-artprize-8Some friends brought friends while I was gone and left me sweet pictures! young-friends-visiting-artprizeChildren of friends stopped by with their school groups, kathi-with-old-and-new-friendssome bringing new young friends to meet me!julie-and-melissa-at-artprize I even had cousins from out of town visit, childhood-friend-at-artprize-8and I reconnected with some folks that I hadn’t seen since childhood! artprize-8Visitors took about 1,500 business cards (with John 3:16-17 on the back)joel-and-trevor-at-artprize-8 and over a thousand flyers.

from-the-rising-of-the-sun-artprize-8So, if you’ve got artistic creativity bubbling up inside, may I encourage you to go for it? Even if you don’t win a prize, you “win” in friendships, and you might be able to invest in the happiness of others. Besides all that, who knows? You could possibly end up with something you’ll treasure for your own home.🙂

Want to know what my flyers said? Here it is:from-the-rising-of-the-sun“From the Rising of the Sun”

Einstein put it this way: “I’m not an atheist, and I don’t think I can call myself a pantheist. We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many languages. The child knows someone must have written those books. It does not know how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangement of the books but doesn’t know what it is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human being toward God. We see the universe marvelously arranged and obeying certain laws but only dimly understand these laws.”

My mural is one such tiny library of God’s works, initially inspired by the most glorious sunrise I’ve ever seen over my cozy lake home here in Grand Rapids. It was September 18, 2013, the first day of ArtPrize 5. Deep pinks reflected from the sky, shimmering across the lily pads and setting our lake ablaze with color. I ran outside and took dozens of photographs, thinking to myself, “This sunrise is God’s ArtPrize entry! He is the most magnificent artist of all, and nothing will compare with what He’s done.” Later, while enjoying all the creativity at ArtPrize with two of my closest friends, one of them asked spontaneously, “If you ever entered ArtPrize, what would you do?” None of the three of us had ever talked (or thought) about entering ArtPrize before, but it struck a chord in me. I answered without even thinking: “I’d make a collage of photographs trying to capture the rapture I felt this morning. I wish I could bring ‘God’s ArtPrize entry’ to ArtPrize!”

It’s taken three years of dreaming, praying, sorting, developing, and anguishing to bring to birth what eventually became a deep passion: to share the best of my photographed visual experiences as a gift to you. I searched my 180,000-photo collection, gathered from around the world over the past thirty years, and made a mural that I hope will fill you with the same warmth and wonder I’ve felt while drinking in the beauty of our great earth.

The title of the mural comes from Psalm 113:3, “From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same, the Lord’s name is to be praised.” I’ve read that 99 percent of Americans report feeling some spiritual awareness and 84 percent claim religious affiliation worldwide, but if you came from a background anything like mine (with an atheistic father and an agnostic mother), you may not immediately go from experiencing the transcendence of beauty to worshiping the Creator.

The transition from believing in a Creator to worshiping the Lord came to me in a flash when I heard the gospel for the first time. The gospel is the good news that God is Light, Love, and Life. I’d never heard John 3:16–17 before: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” I was overwhelmed by the thought that God loved me personally, sinful and imperfect as I was (and still am) . . . that He loved me so much He sent his uniquely begotten, holy Son to earth to live a perfect, sinless life and die in my place to pay the price for my sins. This same Son, Jesus Christ, not only died, He rose again after three days, proving to the world that He has the power to give everlasting life to all who will believe in him and accept his gift of salvation, freely given to us but paid for by the precious blood of Jesus, the “Lamb of God.”

God makes this offer to each of us! If you’d like to know more, please ask me or visit my blog, “Summer Setting,” at I pray that you experience all of God’s best at ArtPrize 8!


Rise Up, My Love (208): Looking for…What? Where?

gardens-in-israelSong of Solomon 6:11 “I went down into the garden of nuts to see the fruits of the valley, and to see whether the vine flourished, and the pomegranates budded.” What did Solomon’s wife do? “I went down…” This action is one she chose on her own, but it was not a willful “I will” like Satan’s, who declared, “I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God…I will be like the most High” (Isaiah 14: 13-14). It was the “I will” of one who knew the will of God and joyfully set her heart to do it…one who had learned to be guided by his eye…who no longer needed to be commanded, or even asked. The bride now knew him and knew his heart. She knew what he wanted, and she did it. It was as simple as that. Her action was an act of love, drawn from her heart of love, as one whose will had become submitted to and submerged into the will of her beloved…one whose desire had become nothing more than to please her Lord.  the-sea-of-galileeShe went down into the garden of nuts for three purposes: to see the fruits of the valley, to see if the vine was flourishing, and to see if the pomegranates were budding. In spiritual parallelism, what might this mean? The Hebrew word for the grove of nut trees is ginnat. The only other Old Testament uses of this word are in Esther 1:5 and 7:7, where it refers to the palace garden where state banquets were given. For the queen to go into the palace gardens to check on the state of the orchard in springtime seems like the perfect wifely thing to do! How did the gardens look? Were they flourishing and beautiful for the king’s use?
tunisia-dry-riverbed-where-r2d2-got-lostBut, the meaning of “to see the fruits of the valley” was a bit puzzling at first. Was the valley part of the garden, or simply something she could see from their garden? The Hebrew word for “valley” is nahal which is translated in the New English Bible as “stream,” because it generally referred to the narrow wadis where streams ran in the spring, but dried up during the summer. I don’t know if the valley was part of the garden proper or not, but it was definitely at least something that could be seen from the banqueting garden, and this gave me such a thrill as I meditated on the possible spiritual parallelism!   valley-below-garden-song-of-solomonIn the New Testament, the Lord tells us to go out into the highways and hedges to bring in guests for his banquet (Luke 14:21-23). Could it be that here the bride is looking beyond the garden proper (her normal sphere of influence), to see the possibilities for fruit in the regions beyond…the wadis that were dry most of the year but that were now filled with water and might bring forth fruit?…the blind and halt and maimed of this world whose hearts were stirring and might bring forth the fruit of eternal life to the praise and glory of the king? I believe so. I think the bride looked beyond the palace garden to see the possibilities for fruit in the valleys below, and her action is still a model of sacrificial love for us, as the bride of Christ today. Jesus is still delighted when we leave our comfort zone and go in search of fruit for him among the seemingly desolate valleys of this world!dry-riverbed-in-tunisia