from Dance On Fire

August 18, 2012

A GLIMPSE INTO PETE’S LIFE  (c.2000)

“You see an artisan skillful at his craft: He will serve kings, not common men.”  Proverbs 22:29

MY INTRODUCTION

Hello, welcome to my mind. The arts, I believe, exist primarily for the enjoyment of them. Beauty, thoughtful entertainment, and creative imagery fill a void in the human spirit and cause man to functuion happier and more complete in life. Just as God has anointed some as prophets, teachers, administrators, etc. for the rest of us to receive from them, so he has anointed some with talents in various forms of the arts for others to receive blessing from as well for the worship of our ultimate Creator.

There is truth in the saying, “You are what you eat.” What a person chooses to take into their minds becomes a little part of them as it shapes their view of life. Until recently, the message coming from the mainstream church generally rejected most forms of creativity. For so long the church had lagged behind with cheap imitations of what the world has done, usually after it went out of style. What if the best selling authors, the best movies, the most popular musicians were mostly Christians? We’d be living in quite a different society.

The greatest force that influences peoples thoughts and beliefs is the media. We are letting a huge, open, world-reaching mission field lay almost barren for Christ. In most cases, it is a cop out and lazy excuse to say our art is rejected because it has the name Jesus stamped on it. Although it is true that through integrity and moral character, Christians will have to deny many “advantages” offered by an industry dominated by so much sin; for the most part, the people at the top are there because of hard work and talent. And we serve the Creator God who had made us in his image and has endowed his creative anointing on many of his servants. Should we leave those talents buried, or should we risk their investment?

Most art that requires thought represents the artist’s views on life; there is usually a moral or point the artist is trying to convey. Although I don’t feel the need to sum up the gospel in every one of my pieces, I think the outflow of my heart on paper reveals my faith, strength, and love dependent on our Lord, our Savior, Jesus Christ. Subjects of my work range from thoughts on something of interest to the daily struggles of life to the exploration of the human spirit in our relationship with God to pure and simple worship of him. Although we tried to match some artwork to poetry with common themes, all work was created separately and has nothing to do with the other on a specific level.

My deepest desire for my work is that by the grace of God it would somehow lift up and encourage you and move your heart closer to the Lord by knowing him in a deeper way. It is my prayer that in seeing my struggles some would in a sense learn from my mistakes and be encouraged to persevere and press on in what God has called you. At the very least, I hope you find my work interesting and entertaining so that the time you spend looking into my head is enjoyable.

Thank you sincerely…

21st Century Man

Running Running Running on and
Raging he went
Whipped around in a whirlwind.
His life was spent
Taking shots in the dark,
He never kindled the spark
Into a magnificent fire.
He was conditioned to be a liar:
A constant walk on the high wire.
Looking down,
The world went ’round
Without him.
He laughed and he cried-
Took in his breath and he sighed-
And he died.

Twenty-first Century Man-
That’s who I am.

Cycles 

A dark red glow is all that is left
Of the fiery bowl sunken
In the deep dark horizon.
Soon even the trees,
So perfectly silhouetted
Against the evening glow,
Will become a mere whisper
And a shadow.
The stars ride out
In their procession
Deceiving us with their faint light.
Everything is so beautiful,
So mysterious,
But the stepping stones stumble me
And I’ll be lucky to catch
Reflection
Of the lion’s eyes-
Devourer.
Enter the night.

We toss and turn in sleepless struggle,
Being held captive by blackness bubbles.
We don’t float away-
We turn and fight.
We search for light,
Find wisdom where she may be:

Awake,
O mother, sister in heart.
Sell us the fuel
To light the lamps
To guide
The way
To Freedom Road.
Your Father,
Your brother the King,
Our Husband, he calls us…
Plain bright mystery.

The horizon behind us,
The sun left behind.
The horizon beyond us:
A strip of pale blue
Pushes out purple, down black.
The Son is arisen,
My world is renewed;
My vision is back.

Patience

She talks go
But when I go
Red lights flash ahead.
Somehow…
I prefer to stop.
Fire burns red.
My flesh burns for you.

No. Far better
In me
A white fire
Of the core.
Purify…
Soul consuming.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Thank you…

To my God: Jesus Christ, His Father, His Holy Spirit; Three persons in unity: One God Most High. The maker and giver of my talents and everything good in me.

To my ex-wife Letecia who has been a source of inspiration and a tool used to shape and develop my character.

To my boys Gabriel and Zed. My two greatest rocks of unconditional love.

To my parents Richard and Catherine, my brothers Paul and Tom. A family filled with love and normalcy I once rejected but now so deeply appreciate your strong stablility in days so uncertain.

To Pneuma Books, the designers of this book, my friend Brian Taylor, who spent much valuable time on it, giving me the opportunity to present my work.

To Vivian Branton-Jones, who gave a shy, punk kid the ability to have confidence in himself.

To Harold R. Eberle, a prophet of God who imparted the commission of God to me.

To Bob, John, Darrell, James, Mel, Alan, and Misty; my buds from high school–almost Tens Years Gone–give me a call sometime.

To the elders and body of believers at Newark Christian Fellowship and East Coast Aflame Ministries. Thank you for the love, support and acceptanct you have given me throughout the years.

“…deep, heart-felt emotion… overflowing into perfectly-placed poetic words. They are a realization of unfulfilled dreams and a longing for perfection as a father and as a human being… desperately reaching… and finding solace in the understanding that only God is in control.”  -Susan L. Heisler, Delaware Artist & Author of Anthology of a Crazy Lady

Peter L. Richardson

He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands

“It’s a great analogy: the novel that God writes and the novel that we write. It shows how there can be predestination and free will at the same time. And it also shows how the Incarnation is not illogical, because it shows how a novelist can put himself in his own novel as one of his characters—and then he has two natures…History is a broken marriage and God puts it back together again.”  –Peter Kreeft

Every one of us loves to play the game of “what if?” whether we like to admit it or not. We have all thought back on choices we’ve made and thought about what our lives might be like had we made a different choice. Your life could be drastically different even from something as small as spending an extra five minutes brushing your teeth in the morning. Imagine the ripples through time our tiny minute decisions make. Then imagine millions upon billions of ripples throughout time and across the world touching and running into each other and creating waves moving and tossing in seemingly chaotic directions. God sees every ripple individually and can write his story of redemption from beginning to end threading it in and out of each our lives as he calls out to us to hear his voice and read his love letters of forgiveness. Movies like The Adjustment Bureau attempt to explain this phenomena; movies like Sliding Doors pose the question of “what if?” and make us consider the possibility of another fate; and countless science fiction works explore the idea of alternate time streams and parallel universes.

I absolutely love Sci Fi! When I was younger, the idea that there might be another me out there somewhere who didn’t completely screw up his life brought me comfort. Parallel universes, in a way, offer us second chances, or maybe even endless chances and possibilities: Maybe somewhere I am a famous rock star! But maybe somewhere some ancestor of mine made different choices and I don’t even exist. Parallel universes are fun to imagine, but if they do exist, am I truly an individual? Do my choices even matter? No, I believe this universe and this age is all we have to work with, but the concept of parallel universes can help us to understand how predestination might work.

We all know that our universe is multidimensional, but the average human is only aware of three dimensions. However, some scientist theorize there may be endless dimensions (which would result in the possibility of parallel universes), however most put the number somewhere between 7-11 (at least that was numbers the last time I read up on the issue). Most consider time to be the fourth dimension which is how we can imagine the possibility of time travel in science fiction. If time is simply a dimension of the created universe, then that would mean that God, the Creator, exists outside of time. This is why he calls himself the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. It something beyond our comprehension, but God has no beginning or ending. He just exists, that’s why he calls himself “I AM.” If God exists outside of time, that would mean when he looks down on his creation, he can see all points of time at the same time. When he looks at you, he can see the moments of your birth and your death at the same time. What does this have to do with parallel universes and predestination? I think this is one possibility of what God means when he speaks of individuals being predestined to do certain works, and how his prophecy continually comes to pass over thousands of years despite human free will. God, before he spoke the Word of creation, saw all the possible outcomes of the different realities of existence should he create beings with free will. In his wisdom, love, and mercy; he chose the one with the best possible outcome for his children to become reconciled to him after giving them the ability to freely rebel against him. We can still ask, why bother with existence if even one person ends up suffering? Alas, we must trust that God is good and knows what he is doing. While I’ve had my fair share of suffering, my personal experience leads me to believe he is just in his ways. Paul puts it this way:

Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
      How unsearchable his judgments,
      and his paths beyond tracing out!
“Who has known the mind of the Lord?
      Or who has been his counselor?”
“Who has ever given to God,
      that God should repay them?”
For from him and through him and for him are all things.
      To him be the glory forever! Amen. (Romans 11:33-36)

The truth of God’s inherent goodness helps me to understand some of the more difficult passages that support predestination. Consider King David’s prayer to the Lord:

For you created my inmost being;
      you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
      your works are wonderful,
      I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
      when I was made in the secret place,
      when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
      all the days ordained for me were written in your book
      before one of them came to be. (Psalm 139:13-16)

And later the Lord himself says to the Prophet Jeremiah:

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
      before you were born I set you apart;
      I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:5)

We use these scriptures to expose the sin of abortion, and rightly so, but if we take them in the most literal sense of predestination, and apply them to all humanity, could we not conclude that God is really the one behind the abortions? In this sense, he created all the lives who were aborted and purposed them only to die. But why stop there? If he preordained every single moment of our lives doesn’t that mean he designed, created and purposed every evil thing that has ever happened? And if that’s true, doesn’t that mean God is ultimately the author of evil as well as good? It is no stretch to imagine from here that this God could create and purpose some to be saved and create others with no choice but to be bad and fated for eternal damnation, even though they had no choice in the matter whether or not to rebel!

I believe God uses and manipulates sin and evil for his purposes, consider the stories of Job and Joseph, and consider Paul’s famous statement in Romans 8:28, but he does not initiate or design it. That is against his nature. When God delivered the Law to Moses, he proclaimed of himself: “The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation” (Exodus 34:6-7). And later the Apostle John simply declares, “God is love” (1 John 4:8). You may ask why God would punish children for their parents’ sin? But I don’t think that he punishes anyone for anything they didn’t do. This is a proclamation of love. Think about how many times you said you would never turn out like your parents, but how often do you really act like them? The influence of our fathers is strong. I think it just takes three to four generations before the sin that gets passed down can really be rooted out once a man decides to follow God. God is also stating to us that while he forgives sin, he will not allow it to continue for very long. We humans confuse discipline and training with evil. We think that anytime we experience discomfort there are demons behind it, when usually we are simply paying the consequences of bad choices. There is a war in the heavens that we are caught in the middle of, but it is not until you truly begin to do good for the Kingdom of Heaven that Satan takes any notice of you, and we can ultimately trust that, like Job and Joseph, God will use the evil that others bring upon us “for the good of all those who love him and are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).

This brings us back to the concept of parallel universes. God had the option of creating a multitude of different realities before he chose ours and spoke it into existence. I believe he chose the one with the optimum amount of good for as many of his sons and daughters as possible. He knew creating beings with free will would inevitably cause pain and suffering once these beings began to rebel against his ways, yet he determined that having true relationship with his created beings was worth the risk of rebellion. He knew sin and rebellion would separate us from him, so he designed a way for us to be reconciled to him through his plan of the cross, and he gives us each the opportunity to accept his gift and enter into intimate relationship with him and allow him to develop our character into the true potential of our callings, or we have to choice to reject his gift and stay eternally separated from him, continue to live selfishly and pay the consequences of our actions.  Because he exists outside of time, he knows the end game, and he knows every choice we will make, and being a loving father, he is deeply and intimately involved in our lives, but all our choices are still our own to make.

It is much easier for me to believe that God lit the spark of creation aware of the suffering that rebellion against him would cause, and therefore designed a way out to be saved for those who would choose to seek him and follow him. I believe that God gives every human being ever conceived the opportunity to make the choice for salvation, because he deeply loves every one of us enough to experience death for us. Paul instructs his protégé, Timothy that “God our Savior…wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people” (1 Timothy 2:3-6).

“Obey God and leave all the consequences to him.”  –Dr. Charles Stanley

Peter L Richardson, 2010-2012

Something from the experts:

“Is it not frightfully unfair that this new life should be confined to people who have heard of Christ and been able to believe in Him? But the truth is God had not told what His arrangements about the other people are. We do know that no man can be saved except through Christ; we do not know that only those who know Him can be saved through Him.”  -C.S. Lewis, “The Practical Conclusion,” Mere Christianity

beginnings…

August 4, 2012

He held in his hands a book ancient as the dark. It had the smell of must and decay, and yet miraculously it held together in one piece. Though this book had been neglected for untold number of years, it was once well worn; the brown hard leather cover dented on the corners, darkened and dipped from the grip of fingers, and broken in the spine; the yellow pages frayed and bent over. There was a bookmark there, as fragile as the pages which he feared to open, turn, and look…

When he was younger one of the places he would hide out when he was neglecting his studies was the library. He wasn’t there to learn; he was hiding: from teachers, from parents, from teenage drama, from life. Once he was in, it was easy to dip from row to row, and if someone looked suspicious, it was simply a matter of opening up a random book and thumbing through, acting like he was looking for something.

But the truth is, he was looking for something: for truth, for purpose, for need; he was looking for someone to rescue him; rather, for someone he might be called upon to rescue. He was looking for the fulfillment of his soul; the meaning of life. Yet as pain and emotion began to bubble up from his gut and take the form of words in his mind, sometimes those words would escape and hit the books he hid among. Most of the time they would bounce back in a silent cry of desperation, but sometimes they connected and caught words and titles and names and brought back ideas and the start of understanding was with them…

-Peter L Richardson