Day One: Painter – Unlimited Beauty, Unlimited Palette

Piero lived in the 1400’s  and spent nearly every day at a desk writing contracts and signing off on legal documents in an obscure village outside of the city of Florence. He would not even have made the history books except that, instead of retiring to his home after work,  he spent his nights with a peasant girl named Catarina. She gave birth to a baby that she and Piero named Leonardo. The village was called Vinci.

Leonardo da Vinci was given a general education in math and science in his early years. But, Piero came into a fortunate position with the di Medici family and connected his son with the best training possible through mentoring. He became the apprentice of a goldsmith of fame called Verrochio (meaning “true eye,” necessary for a master artist.) Leonardo was mentored in the arts and sciences, as well as the broad sweep of techniques in sculpting, casting, and painting. He soon surpassed his teachers, and began creating new ways to span rivers, irrigate fields, and do battle. But is passion was painting.

Mark 2:13-14 records that, “Jesus went out to the lakeshore again and taught the crowds that were coming to him. 14As he walked along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at his tax collector’s booth. ‘Follow me and be my disciple,’ Jesus said to him. So Levi got up and followed him.”

A businessman with plenty of means like Levi (called Matthew in most places) would be content, satisfied with his good fortune. But, Levi was wondering, searching, and waiting for what would fill his inner emptiness. We know this by what he did soon after meeting Jesus.

Read Mark 2:15-18 Why did Levi think having a party with Jesus mattered to his friends? What did he hope to accomplish? How do  you think Jesus responded to this type of party?

We likely didn’t get a personal verbal invite from Jesus of Nazareth like Levi did. But, like his friends who got the party invite from their tax-collector friend, he uses those who know him to introduce others to Jesus. If you are his follower, someone introduced you to Jesus. He speaks to each of us through the compassionate invitation of others.

Out of the Comfort Zone:

1. Consider your place at the party table. Who invited you? Send him/her a letter or email. Better yet, make a phone call. If that’s not possible, journal a letter you would want to write to him/her.

2. At church this Sunday, be intentional about bringing people to the party table. Look for a person, couple or family who needs a personal invite into your life in Christ. Ask them to lunch or schedule a time to meet, just for the benefit of “hang out time.”

3. Find a neighbor in your circle of people who needs a party. If it’s someone who needs your forgiveness, extend it. If it’s someone who is hurting or without something, provide it. Do something for someone that builds a bridge you can send a party invitation across.

Written Outwards

I know Christmas is over for now, but here’s a short one that relates to a Christmas a few years ago.

Christmastime is best when the days are peppered with classic movies. I’m a cinemaphile, so it comes natural to me; but, my wife Susan has classics on the mind in a serious way around Christmas.

One must-view is Miracle on 34th Street – the older classic is still my favorite, but both have the message. Kris Kringle is St. Nick come to NYC. His chief characteristic is that he knows who he is while at the same time, he doesn’t know how his unselfishness and unguarded compassion affect others.

I’m not often given to dreams; but it happens sometimes. I had a dream during Christmas while in Italy. I dreamed that I was looking at a dark background with bright letters etched across the space. At first, I didn’t recognize the words. Then, I noticed one of the words was written backwards. In fact, they were all written backwards in bright script.

Peace, compassion, serve, humility, all were written backwards on this dark screen or canvas surrounding me.

I woke up with the dream fresh in mind and to the interpretation and the Bible verse. (Always helpful.)

God writes his character across the canvas of my life (for the redeemed, our lives). But he writes in a way that others can read (see) his character. I’m not really supposed to focus on the characteristics I’m displaying (that’s why they are written outward and not facing me). My focus is rather on the people for whom the characteristics are meant to impact. They can “read” the peace, compassion, etc. because its there to give them a glimpse of His nature.

Our faith starts like that when we first say yes to Jesus – it’s all about Him. Remember?

So, for the new year, can I turn the words around in 2014 so others see Christ in me?

And the verse? “Your very lives are a letter that anyone can read by just looking at you. Christ himself wrote it—not with ink, but with God’s living Spirit; not chiseled into stone, but carved into human lives—and we publish it.”            2 Corinthians 3:2-3 (Message)

Etched with His pen,


Argos logos

The Stoics millenia ago invented a maxim to justify inaction, called “argos logos,” or “the lazy argument.” If it’s going to happen, there’s no reason to act against it, is the basic premise. It’s fated. Let it be. Que sera sera.

If that’s the case, why fight feelings or stand against temptation? Why repent? Why bother with choosing godliness over… well, all those other things we could choose, want to choose, and would if no one is looking.

Paul said to the Roman Christians, “Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?” The sub-text to his plea is, “Don’t give up! Pursuing God and the life and adventure He offers is worth it! Turn to him and choose life!”

The alternative is to drift toward the rocks of self-centeredness and sin, or it’s dangerous opposite, self-righteousness and judgmentalism. The wreckage of relationships and soul-emptiness are in either choice’s wake.

Rome’s Christ-followers felt the tension, and from Paul’s words, gave in to “argos logos.” And I know the same tug and say to the soul drifting toward rocks, “Choose His Kindness.” Choosing Kindness!