Prepare for the End of Your World

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“Galaxy” – © 2020 by V. Nesdoly

Yesterday a newsfeed headline “How to Prepare Now for the Complete End of the World” caught my eye. I didn’t read the article right away, but it got me thinking.

Are we near the “complete end of the world”? The spreading covid19 virus, the doom and gloom of climate change purveyors, the local civil unrest over aboriginal land claims, and more, compound to give me a feeling that life, if not about to end may not return to “normal” anytime soon…maybe ever.

The danger that the covid19 virus poses to seniors (I’m in that age group) is especially concerning. And so, in my staring match with mortality, I ask myself, am I ready for the end? Are you?

I did read the above article this morning. I’m not sure I like its answers. It describes a “rewilding movement” where people get back to stone age living—making fire, hunting, wearing animal skins, eating roots and herbs, living in communes of yurts, basically like the hippies of the 1960s, only more primitive.  

“Rewilding” may be a solution if commerce grinds to a halt and technology dies. Trouble is, there’s still a personal end of the world beyond that. How do I prepare for the complete end of my personal world?

For me that means being ready to die and meet God.

Suppose you were to die today and stand before God, and He were to say to you, “Why should I let you into My heaven?”* What would you say? Would you say, I’ve done my best; I’ve done more good things than bad; I’ve been better than John down the street…?

I live with the conviction that we can give God a satisfactory answer. The Bible explains it this way.

1. Grace

– Heaven is a free gift (Ephesians 2:8,9).

– It is not earned or deserved (Romans 6:23).

2. Man

– But man (humans, males and females) are sinners (Romans 3:23)

– We don’t and can’t live up to heaven’s standard of perfection (Matthew 5:48).

– We can’t save ourselves (Proverbs 14:12).

3. God

– Is merciful (Jeremiah 31:3b).

– But He is also just and must punish sin (Exodus 34:7b).

In order to solve the dilemma of His mercy and justice…

4. Jesus

– God sent Jesus to earth 2000+ years ago to live and die as the infinite perfect God-man (John 1:1,14).

– For 33 years Jesus lived on earth. Those years are recorded in the Bible (books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John).

– At the age of 33 years, Jesus was crucified—died.

– His death was/is the payment to God that our sins deserve (Isaiah 53:6; 1 Peter 2:24).

–  His death in our stead shows God’s mercy while at the same time satisfying God’s need for justice. We call it GRACE: God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.

5. Faith

– We accept this gift of Christ’s death on our behalf through faith.

– It is more than intellectual faith, but a believing faith where I entrust our lives to Him now and for eternity (Acts 16:31).

– If we have believed in Him in this way, we know that He will accept us into heaven because He has said so (John 3:16; 6:37,47; John 14:1-3).

And so, when we come to the end of our personal world, and stand before God and He asks us, “Why should I let you into My heaven?” I can say, you can say, because Jesus paid the penalty for my sin.

Need to explore more? Get yourself a Bible or access one online. Read it. Start with the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John).

* This explanation of the Gospel is adapted from Evangelism Explosion materials.

Israel Trip – Day 5 (Galilee, Jordan Valley, Jerusalem)

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We began Day 5 (Friday, June 14, three weeks ago today) boarding our bus with all our luggage for a day of sightseeing and a move to Jerusalem.

Yardenit

Our first stop, a very short one, was at Yardenit, a baptismal site on the Jordan River. No one from our group had requested to be baptized so, after a few photos, we carried on.

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Yardenit baptismal site on the Jordan River. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

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Posing by the Jordan River in Yardenite. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

Nazareth

Our first major stop of the day was Nazareth. Here we went first to the land form just outside the city. The story of Jesus rejected by the religious leaders of the Nazareth synagogue, then taken outside the city where they threatened to push him off the cliff to His death came to life for me (Luke 4:16-30). This is where that would have happened.

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View from the cliff cliff from which the Nazareth townspeople wanted to push Jesus to His death. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

Then we drove into town where we toured the Nazareth Village, a sprawled-out village with buildings, animals, and people in costume, similar to what Jesus would have experienced.

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Phyllis and Theo (our children’s ministry puppets) got a moment of attention from two of the locals. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

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A vineyard watchtower. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

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The sheep-pen. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

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Phyllis and Theo, eager to see the sheep. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

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A donkey, grabbing some lunch. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

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The olive press. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

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Woven basket, used to help strain the olive oil. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

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A Nazareth Village vendor (food truck?). (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

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They ate vegetables similar to ours, along with herbs like Hyssop. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

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The woodworking shop; he might also have been a stone mason, as most of the houses were constructed of wood and stone. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

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Oven, for baking bread. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

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The dining room. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

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The spinner and weaver. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

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The synagogue. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

Beit Shean

Next we drove to Beit Shean. It is the city where the body of King Saul and his sons were nailed to the wall by the Philistines (1 Samuel 31:10).

Our itinerary informed us that curently Beit Shean is “…the largest ongoing archeological dig in the land of Israel.” The dig has unearthed a Roman theatre, colonnaded Roman streets, mosaics, Roman bathhouses, and even a public latrine.

Judean Wilderness

Finally, we made our ascent to Jerusalem through the Judean wilderness.

A Bedouin encampment and settlements along the West Bank. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

Jerusalem!

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The first sight of Jerusalem was a thrill. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

We visited the Western Wall late Friday afternoon, just hours before the start of Shabbat (during which we would not have been allowed to take photos). I was especially fascinated by the many Orthodox Jews, men dressed in black suits wearing black hats, yarmulkes, even black fur hats, little boys with yarmulkes and side curls, little girls in their pretty dresses, women all dressed up with turban-type hats pushing babies in strollers, as families made their Friday night visits of the wall together, along with us informally dressed tourists.

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Prayer at the wall is segregated. In the women’s section I witnessed women in fervent petition, many reading from prayer books in Hebrew (and the odd one in English). These were sitting for anyone to use on podium-type tables and on a bookshelf at the back of the prayer area.

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Women sat and prayed, or went up to the wall, to touch it as they prayed fervently, often in tears. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

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Many tucked folded prayers into the cracks of the wall. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

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Prayer books were available for anyone to use. Most were in Hebrew.  (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

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Poster on the wall enclosure, opposite the wall. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

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Western Wall poster. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

 

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Another poster from the wall enclosure area. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

It was a moving, and slightly unsettling experience as I thought about the prayer fervency I was witnessing and asked myself—what did this fascination with praying at the Western Wall really signify?

Israel Trip -Day 4 (Capernaum, Caesarea Philippi)

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Capernaum

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 Welcome to Capernaum (Capharnaum).  (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

Capernaum (“Capharnaum, The Town of Jesus”) was our next stop. It was to Capernaum Jesus went after his native Nazareth rejected Him (Matthew 4:13). Capernaum was the centre of Jesus’ Galilean ministry and the site of many of His miracles.

Again, there were many ruins.

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Capital from the synagogue in Capernaum (note the Jewish menorah middle top). (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

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The synagogue where Jesus read scriptures and taught. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

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The layout of the town in stone foundations. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

Remains of Peter’s house, where his mother-in-law was healed (Matthew 8:14,15) are preserved under glass skylights. The information sign says:

“The traditional house of Peter was close to the lake shore and was flanked to the east by the main north-south road (cardo maximus) of the village. Spacious courtyards with a staircase and terra refractaria fireplaces were shared by several roofed homes.”

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Phyllis, excited to see Peter’s house. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

Altar-St Peters Church-Capernaum

St. Peter’s Church (in the same complex as Peter’s house) features a beautiful mosaic altar. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

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Outside, a statue of St. Peter attracts many visitors and camera moments. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly

Caesarea Philippi

From Capernaum we drove north to the Golan Heights for a stop at Banias, the site of ancient Caesarea Philippi.

This spot, at the foot of Mount Hermon, is one of the sources of the Jordan River. The waterfall was a rare and welcome sight.

A grotto to the god Pan was located here. Mike Mason describes the beliefs about this site:

“In ancient times, it was called Panaes, after Pan, the goat-footed Greek god associated with nature, fertility, and carnal excess. The dark opening in the cliff… was the Cave of Pan, believed to be the doorway to the underworld (Gates of Hades) where fertility gods lived in winter, returning to earth each spring on the subterranean stream that formerly gushed from the cave mouth. To the right of the cave are several niches where pagan statues would have stood. Today this is an archaeological site, but in Jesus’ time it was an active center of pagan worship with a temple, courtyards, and shrines—the focal point of the Romanesque city of Caesarea Philippi” – Mike Mason, Jesus: His Story in Stone (2017), p. 53.

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The cave of Pan, believed to be the Gates of Hades. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

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Ernie, standing in a section of the ancient worship site honoring Pan. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

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Niches where pagan idols would have stood. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

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More ruins from the Caesarea Philippi worship site. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

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Artist’s rendering of the sanctuary of Pan. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

It was to this site that Jesus brought His disciples and asked them “’Who do men say that I am… Who do you say that I am?’” – Matthew 16:13.

When Peter replied, “’You are the Christ (Messiah) Son of the living God,’” Jesus answered, “’Blessed are you, Simon, Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you but My Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter and on this rock I will build My church and the Gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:17,18)

A huge rock at the site is a wonderful visual, reminding us of Jesus’ words.

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Rock at the site of Pan, reminding us of Jesus’ words to Peter.  (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

 

Fix your eyes on Jesus #BibleJournaling

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On these last days of Lent, our thoughts go to the subject and central character of the Good Friday and Easter celebrations just ahead. There is no One more beautiful to contemplate!

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the Pioneer and Perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” – Hebrews 12:2.

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Bible Journal entry for Hebrews 12:2 (Photo © 2017 by V. Nesdoly)

This journal entry is one I did in my original NIV Journaling Bible last Easter. (The drawing of Jesus on the cross at the bottom was inspired by an illustration of Annie Vallotton’s – scroll down….)

Receptive Soil #BibleJournaling

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Jesus’ parables are full of artsy drawables. Yet, when I contemplated journaling the Parable of the Sower (Luke 8:11-15), illustrations of the old fashioned process of sowing grain and it falling into the literal destinations named in the parable seemed like avoiding the issue somehow. And so I asked myself, what would examples of unfruitful and fruitful soil be in my life?

That’s what I tried to portray on this page. The gold oval-shaped image in the middle is a grain of wheat. Where will it find receptive soil? Social media; preoccupation with news; involvement in sports; focus on money; interaction with friends; attending church; the whirlwind of mental stress, worry, fear and anxiety; clothes and all they imply of absorption with personal appearance and image; Bible study?

Simplistic, I know, but the passage and trying to illustrate it made me think again of my day to day life and how much of it may be unreceptive soil.

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I prepared this page with gesso before doing the art work, then used brush markers and pencil crayons to do the coloring. The grain of wheat is colored with an acrylic marker (gold). The gesso worked great—there was no bleed through with the brush markers that usually seriously mark the back side of paper much thicker than Bible pages.

Hospitality #BibleJournaling

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Are you the kind of person who likes surprises thrown into your day? Or are you a scheduler who prefers to have your day outlined in your planner and then proceed according to plan?

I’m definitely the latter. So, a few weeks ago when I read, in Matthew 14, about Jesus’ botched up day plans, I took notice.

His relative John, who had baptized Him, had recently been arrested and imprisoned by Herod. Then, through the trickery of Herod’s partner Herodias, John was beheaded. His disciples disposed of his body then went to tell Jesus.

On hearing of John’s death, Jesus’ plan was to get away to a “deserted place by Himself,” no doubt to process this sad news and to grieve.

When He got to that deserted place, however, it wasn’t deserted at all. Instead, throngs were waiting for Him there with their sick.

Did Jesus express disappointment or frustration at having His plans changed? Did he dismiss the crowds or get His disciples to do it with “Sorry! The healer isn’t seeing people today”?

No. Instead, He was moved with compassion over their conditions, spent all day healing, and at day’s end, when the disciples wanted to send the crowds home, challenged them to feed everyone before they set off.

You have to be hospitable to the core to react toward the crowds like Jesus did in the face of grief, disappointment, and wrecked plans. For hospitality is first an attitude before it comes out in action. Jesus’ hospitality was the focus of my art journal entry for Matthew 14.

To make the illustration I transferred an online image of cupped hands onto tracing paper, then drew, cut out, and pasted the loaves and fishes into them. I attached the hands to my Bible page with Washi tape as a tip-out. They symbolize Jesus’ heart of hospitality.

I hope the image of loaded hands stays with me next time someone’s needs come between me and what’s written in my planner!

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“But Jesus said to them, ‘They do not need t go away. You give them something to eat'” – Matthew 14:16 (© 2017 by V. Nesdoly)

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Machine

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Image: Pixabay

Machine

Assembly begins the day Lucifer
is fired from the Father’s project.
Since then everything on earth has been sacrificed
to construct this apparatus.

Millennia of patient assembly
leads to today’s precise Pharisaic gears
meshing Roman justice with Judas cog
to draw Son into Evil’s engine.

He is denied even a simple wheel
to drag the cross, while Roman soldiers work
elbow fulcrums and hammer-wielding arms,
pulleys and ropes to hoist Him high.

See how His naive followers
keep glancing up as if even now
some heavenly windlass will appear
to free Him from the cross?

Until His final “It is finished!”
screamed into the dark
means the switch can be flicked,
for this device’s work is done.

But wait—what is the meaning
of this gaping earth, unearthly praises
of wraiths walking Jerusalem streets
the temple veil, ripping from top to bottom?

Hell’s alarm bells ring as the belt
flings from the still-spinning flywheel
and careens crazy, powerful
out of all control toward heaven.

© 2017 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

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Prompt – Inspiration
This poem was based on Robert Brewer’s Poetic Asides prompt for April 3, 2015: “Write a machine poem.”

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VintagePADThis April I’m celebrating National Poetry Month by posting some not-as-yet published poems from my files, along with what inspired them. If the prompt inspires you to write a poem of your own, you’re welcome to share it in comments. Whether you write or not, thanks so much for dropping by!

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Lucifer at Calvary

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Image: Pixabay

Lucifer at Calvary

From the opening
whistle in the garden
it’s been an even match
though He boastfully predicted I’d be left
with a crushed head.

I’ve played my hand well
countered Abraham with Lot
Isaac with Ishmael
the Israelites with the Egyptians
David with Absalom.
My several setbacks?
Blame them on bad luck.

The last 33 years
have been a demonic joystick
of chess moves
the last three a dervish spinner
that landed Him today on Calvary.
The contest has been so even,
the outcome so unsure
His confusing words just now:
“It is finished.”
have me considering
my next move
long and hard.

Is this a loaded dice?
He tempting me to skip my turn?
Or He announcing a new level
or even giving up?

But see how dark this portal is
and how the game board shakes?
I think my luck has turned
my ascendancy begun.
I believe this game is over
and I have won!

© 2017 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

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Prompt – Inspiration
Inspired by the Poetic Asides blog on November 1, 2014, where the prompt was: “Write a game-over poem.” (Note to myself, filed with this poem: “This poem needs an Easter Sunday answer.”)

~*~*~*~*~

VintagePADThis April I’m celebrating National Poetry Month by posting some not-as-yet published poems from my files, along with what inspired them. If the prompt inspires you to write a poem of your own, you’re welcome to share it in comments. Whether you write or not, thanks so much for dropping by!

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Cup

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Image: Pixabay

Cup

I am thinking today of a cup
mug, glass, tumbler
goblet, teacup, sippy cup
tulip or barrel-shaped
angled or rounded
plastic, glass, china
silver or stainless steel.

I am thinking today of a cup
of water, milk or juice
drunk to slake thirst, add nourishment
coffee or tea to add a burst
of energy and well-being
beer, stout, nog or wine
to “gladden the heart.”

I am thinking today of a cup
a lot in life, a portion, a destiny:
“O Lord, you are … my cup.”
“My cup runneth over.”
“‘Father, if it is Your will
take this cup from me.”
“‘Shall I not drink the cup
which My Father has given Me?’”

I am thinking today of a cup
a pewter chalice, common mug
or plastic throwaway thimble
of grape juice or wine
and of memories:
“Jesus took the cup…’Drink from it
for this is My blood which is shed
for the remission of sins.’”
and choices:
“You cannot drink the cup of the Lord
and the cup of demons.”

I am thinking today of a goal
a prize, a winner’s cup
that I have pressed toward
to be awarded at the end of life’s race
handed out at the judgment seat.
Will there be one for me?
Could winning it include
answering “yes” to Jesus’ question
“‘Are you able to drink the cup
that I am about to drink?’”

© 2017 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

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Prompt – Inspiration
The word “cup,” which has many meanings in Scripture, was the inspiration for this poem. I chose it for today’s post because today is  Holy Thursday when we commemorate Jesus establishing Holy Communion prior to his arrest and crucifixion.

~*~*~*~*~

VintagePADThis April I’m celebrating National Poetry Month by posting some not-as-yet published poems from my files, along with what inspired them. If the prompt inspires you to write a poem of your own, you’re welcome to share it in comments. Whether you write or not, thanks so much for dropping by!

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Play with words

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Image: Pixabay

Play with words

Toy with words and you play with fire
Gather memories like moss and kindling
Quartz against quartz, ideas friction and spark
Wisp of smoke is a portent

Gather memories like moss and kindling
Focus thought to a pinpoint through the lens of time
Wisp of smoke is a portent
Soon we will be warmed and fed

Focus thought through the lens of time
Harness the heat through wires and coils
Soon we will be warmed, fed
And pondering in haze of pipe’s warm glow

Harness the heat through wires and coils
Inspiration, like lightning, breaks the rules
Brood in haze of a cigarette’s glow
Tossed-away word can also spark a conflagration

Inspiration, like lightning, breaks the rules
Destruction is sometimes the corollary of illumination
Tossed-away word can also spark a conflagration
Burn a reputation like a politician in effigy

Destruction is sometimes the corollary of illumination
The smoke of a living sacrifice
Burn a reputation like a politician in effigy
The firecracker effect of one life on eternity

The smoke of a living sacrifice
Quartz against quartz, Word frictions, sparks
to reverberating bang of One Life on eternity
Toy with Word and you play with fire.

© 2017 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

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Inspiration – Prompt

If I recall right, the pantoum form (wanting to write one) was the inspiration for this poem. That and the desire and pleasure of playing with words—specifically the word word, which has rich layers of meaning in the Christian faith.

Today is Palm Sunday, the day we celebrate the Word riding into Jerusalem in kingly fashion and the expectation by the crowds that He would reveal Himself to be Israel’s Messiah. How differently that turned out. Thankfully, that was not the end of the story!

~*~*~*~*~

VintagePADThis April I’m celebrating National Poetry Month by posting some not-as-yet published poems from my files, along with what inspired them. If the prompt inspires you to write a poem of your own, you’re welcome to share it in comments. Whether you write or not, thanks so much for dropping by!

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