Gods Landscape

From The Desk Of An American Writer
Jeff Blackwell
Staff Writer, Hilbey Times

Hello my friends. A lot has been going on in my life over the past several months that have separated me from writing to you. I am now semi-retired, still working in my career field but stepping back to only a few days a week. Some days are full but I have a lot of half days! I am really enjoying this gift of retirement! Now I am able to spend more time with my wife Jessica and our dog Beau, traveling some and sleeping in a lot! But 06:00 is sleeping in to me!

Stepping back has given me the opportunity to pray more, to seek God more and prepare for our visit to your country this next year! Yes, I’m semi-retired and slowing down but not sitting down and doing nothing! I would rather declare that I am refocusing my energy, redirecting my life into other areas of interest! I might be getting older but I’m not dead yet and I have a lot of life and living left in me; God still has plans and a purpose for my life that I am just now exploring! One area is painting; No not painting houses, too much work in that, but artsy painting! When I was a child I had a natural bent towards creativity, {I believe that we all do} I loved to write and to draw, to sing and play my guitar-just making music with my family – simple, yet wonderful things that I loved and appreciated.

All of these were natural gifts that God placed in my life but over time I let slip away, while other gifts I totally abandoned! Those things that I once loved and appreciated I began to despise, and those gifts that I worked so hard to develop, those things that were inherently a part of my nature, I threw away! Call it childish like a little boy throwing his ice cream on the ground when his feelings were hurt, call it abandonment or call it immaturity; Call it what you will, I made a choice those many years ago and I walked away from those natural gifts that God gave me and only as an adult did I decide to pick those things back up!

Several years ago, my wife bought me a Christmas gift of an easel, canvas and brushes but I just left them sitting in the corner, “Jessica made me an arts n crafts corner” not appreciating them, just looking but not picking up anything, not a brush or even a book on painting! Last week Jessica decided to do some painting of her own. She painted the most beautiful impressionist painting of Angels ascending into heaven, arms raised high in flight as they worshiped God on their journey to Heavens throne! It inspired me, motivated me and my wife became my muse! Yes my friends, I picked up a brush and pallet and I began remembering how to paint as I started playing and having fun, DEVELOPING A LANDSCAPE OF MY MOUNTAIN HOME!

Isn’t that what a gift is all about? Opening a package from someone who loves you and being surprised and delighted? Taking out a new toy to play with at Christmas or a good book by your favorite author “hopefully me one day!”? After several years of those art supplies sitting in the corner, I opened the package of my heart and I found that I could still paint. No masterpiece but not bad for someone who had not painted in twenty five years! This was a gift that I now appreciate so much, a gift that given to me I laid aside once again but because of her belief in me I was able to pick back up and enjoy it once again!
You know we have some many gifts that we take for granted. God gave to me and to all those who will believe in the name of Jesus and trust him as Lord and Savior, the gift of eternal life! He gives to us all good and perfect gifts and never changes his mind in regards to those gifts! He gives to us The Baptism In The Holy Spirit; The real, tangible and vital supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit so that we might minister to the world as signs and wonders of a living God! He gives us so many things that most of us take for granted as he waits patiently for us to grow up and develop those gifts! But first and foremost he gives us the gift of his love as he declares that we are his children and teaches us that he is our Abba!

I have the gift of life that I neglect by my poor choices of eating and life style, yet others here in the states, and in non-developed countries do not have anything to eat or clean water to drink! So I am learning to appreciate this thing called life and develop my life style that will give me long years upon this planet! I’m not rich by any means, not even in the top 20% of our American tax bracket but I am so very rich compared to the world’s economy! God has blessed me in my latter years so that I do not have to worry about my next meal or clothes or entertainment or or or or or or! God has given me the gift of financial stability, that in turn I might be generous and able to give to others who do not have as much as I do!
I have lost a lot of loved ones in my life but God has restored my heart and given to me the most wonderful and gracious gift to my natural man, my precious wife Jessica! She has brought the healing hand of God to me in so many different ways over the years; she has made me come alive again, she has brought to me confidence in Gods faithfulness, the assurance of a woman’s love and the passion and laughter of life itself! She makes me smile and laugh so hard that I cry! God has given to me the gift of a wife and in that gift he has developed real joy for the first time in years!

As an American I am guaranteed certain gifts or rights if you will. These gifts were developed in our constitution, amendments and bill of rights by our founders. First and for-most is my inalienable right of self determination! The freedom to be me, to pursue life and liberty! Our founding fathers recognized that these rights were given to all men and as Americans in a struggle against tyranny, these rights were and are protected by our government, not to be used against one set of people over another,not to protect the government from its people, but rather to protect the people from the government!. Not to establish a state free of religion but let free religious expression blossom in a free market place of ideas!
But all governments of any type in any nation are ran by man and mankind of any nation, creed or race is inherently corrupt and evil! As an American I do not take these rights or gifts for granted but I watch over them and I am involved in the political process by voting! But am I really free? Not necessarily! I can live in the most free country or society on this planet and be bound in the chains of hate, bigotry, violence, shame and just plain old sin! Sin is an old English word that means “TO MISS THE MARK: SIN is an archery term for not hitting the bulls eye. Or to say it plain, we are bound in chains of a corrupt heart and a nature of iniquity!
We all are missing out on Gods best for our life if we try and do things our own way! Determined to achieve our level of goodness, our heaven on this earth, striving for things and yes even to become our own GOD through our works instead of the one and true God’s love and forgiveness. Fore you can be a rich man in a palace with servants and be bound as a prisoner of shame and sin, bound by lust and greed; or you can be a political prisoner or a common thief in jail and be a free man! Free to accept that Jesus has paid your debt to eternity not just to society, free to be a new person and have a new beginning! This gift of eternal life is free to you but it cost Father God his all!
Like me, most people do not develop or appreciate the gifts given to them naturally or supernaturally. They squander those things away and not recognize the value in the simple things of life! Even the disciple Timothy forgot his gifting and Paul had to correct him by saying : Timothy, do not neglect those gifts given to you by the laying on of hands but stir those gifts up! – Paraphrase is mine!
As I prepare for my trip to Africa, to South Africa and to Lesotho, I have been studying your countries rich and varied history; The richness of your cultures and grace and beauty of your people leave me breathless as do the natural wonders of your countryside! But as your friend I am concerned in regards to your current political situation!

As a free and independent people of South Africa I encourage you, whether Black or While, Zulu or Afrikaans, Indian or English to receive your freedom and liberty in Christ Jesus and do not forget the gift of natural freedom that Mandela and others suffered for, believed in gave to you, The People of South Africa! No, not just to blacks but to all South Africans; Given to a people, a nation and country as beautiful and multi cultural as the rainbow of Gods promise! My dear friends; Do not become trapped into a new generation of hate and bigotry, a new generation of Apartheid and violence! But be free men of a New South Africa working together in love with one another, working together in love for your country, working together as one people, As God paints his beautiful landscape of Heaven on the canvas of your Free and Independent Africa!
Blessings to all of you my friends and I long for Africa!
Onkulunkulu ukuthula makube kuwe bangane bami abathandekayo!

Jeff, along with his wife Jessica are the founding Pastors of “The Ridge Church and Ministry Training Center. Jeff is the author of several books and a public speaker. He is also a blogger and staff writer for Hilbey Times. Jeff resides in Clarkesville Ga with his wife Jessica and dog Beau.

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *