Was God Affirming My Art?

A friend asked me to create a painting of her boyfriend’s three cats. It will be a birthday present from her to him. She gave me no further instructions, but she did provide photos and a brief “bio” of each of the cats.

I composed two artworks, but felt I wasn’t done exploring ideas. I asked God to help me create something good.

When I stopped in at the library, as I do from time to time, I picked up a free copy of an archaeology magazine. One of the articles included a beautiful photograph of ancient Egyptian art. The simple lines and rich, earthy colors intrigued me. I’d never created artwork representing Egyptian designs before. This was new territory for me artistically.

I drew the three cats in a style similar to images in Egyptian art and included random hieroglyphs.

I’m a Christian artist, but I don’t necessarily create art with Christian images. I try to be very sensitive and discerning about what images and messages my art conveys. My art must not offend God or somehow depart from His will. So, now I found myself at a standstill with the Egyptian-style cat artwork.

I wanted to include the ankh symbol, which in my mind, symbolically epitomizes Egypt. I wondered, would including the ankh in my art be un-Christian?

The ankh was included. I can’t tell you why I thought it was OK to go ahead and include the ankh, just that when I’m on the wrong path, I become uneasy and unsure about what to do. When I’m on the right path, I feel no shame or misgivings.

My friend saw the three artworks I’d created, and decide to buy two of them. She “LOVED!!!!” the Egyptian-style piece.

Here’s what leads me to believe God was actively involved: When my friend came to pick up the artwork, she told me that her boyfriend has been collecting art with ankhs on it for years. He even has an ankh tattoo. I knew none of this beforehand.

God knows.









Posted in animals, art, artists, arts ministry, creativity, drawing, gifts, God, Holy spirit, pets, prophetic art | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Hang-Ups vs God’s Word

you are freeHang-Ups – Default templates guiding my day-to-day decisions, big and small.

Do my templates align with God’s Word? Do they limit me and my living out God’s purpose for placing me in this spot in this time? Do my templates stunt the expression of the fruit of the Spirit in my life?

These question occurred to me because I’m getting the sense that my hang-ups are the result of fears, fears rooted in desires of the flesh and in what the world says.

For starters, God says, “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:17

Here are a few of my tattered templates contrasted with God’s Word.

Template #1: I have to look pretty or I’ll be sad and unlikable.

God’s Word: Psalm 139:14 “I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Genesis 1: 27 “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them…” Genesis 1:31 “God saw all that He had made, and it was very good.”

Thank you, God. That’s better than pretty! Your truth is eternal. Pretty fades.

#2: Everything I do must have a practical use or result, otherwise it’s a waste of time.

 God’s Word: 1 Corinthians 10:31 “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”

 WHATEVER I do! Glory to God

#3 Avoid crowds and (apart from friends) avoid people in general – get in, get out, hello, goodbye.

God’s Word: Matthew 5:14-16 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” And 2 Corinthians 4:6 “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.”

I’m a light-bearer! Light Bearer

#4 I’m naturally judgmental and, therefore, must try very hard to guard my thoughts and watch my tongue. Ps 51: 5 “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.”

God’s Word: Philippians 1:6… “being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” And Matthew 7: 1-3 “Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again,” and Colossians 3:3 “For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”

I’m a work in progress, it’s not my job to judge, and because I’m secure in Christ I need not judge others in a useless attempt to elevate myself.

Many, many more verses destroy my distorted templates.

I pray that I no longer get hung up and that I keep my heart, soul and mind in God’s Word.

Thank you, Jesus.








Posted in bible study, christianity, culture, ego, God, healing, pride, salvation, sanctification, sin | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Read it and Weep or Jump for Joy?

JoyI know that my faith is not proven by emotions or feelings. And yet, as I read Isaiah 53 translated by Eugene Peterson, I wept.

“Why?” I asked myself, “Why am I weeping?” (The NIV translation didn’t grab me as fully.) Was I overcome with gratitude, humility, joy, sadness for His profound suffering on my behalf? Awash with the certainty that He was prophesied? Or something else? Or all the above? I’m glad I can weep. What a hard heart I would have if I were able to read these words, believe them and not be deeply moved and changed.

Isaiah 53The Message (MSG)

53 Who believes what we’ve heard and seen?
    Who would have thought God’s saving power would look like this?

2-6 The servant grew up before God—a scrawny seedling,
    a scrubby plant in a parched field.
There was nothing attractive about him,
    nothing to cause us to take a second look.
He was looked down on and passed over,
    a man who suffered, who knew pain firsthand.
One look at him and people turned away.
    We looked down on him, thought he was scum.
But the fact is, it was our pains he carried—
    our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us.
We thought he brought it on himself,
    that God was punishing him for his own failures.
But it was our sins that did that to him,
    that ripped and tore and crushed him—our sins!
He took the punishment, and that made us whole.
    Through his bruises we get healed.
We’re all like sheep who’ve wandered off and gotten lost.
    We’ve all done our own thing, gone our own way.
And God has piled all our sins, everything we’ve done wrong,
    on him, on him.

7-9 He was beaten, he was tortured,
    but he didn’t say a word.
Like a lamb taken to be slaughtered
    and like a sheep being sheared,
    he took it all in silence.
Justice miscarried, and he was led off—
    and did anyone really know what was happening?
He died without a thought for his own welfare,
    beaten bloody for the sins of my people.
They buried him with the wicked,
    threw him in a grave with a rich man,
Even though he’d never hurt a soul
    or said one word that wasn’t true.

10 Still, it’s what God had in mind all along,
    to crush him with pain.
The plan was that he give himself as an offering for sin
    so that he’d see life come from it—life, life, and more life.
    And God’s plan will deeply prosper through him.

11-12 Out of that terrible travail of soul,
    he’ll see that it’s worth it and be glad he did it.
Through what he experienced, my righteous one, my servant,
    will make many “righteous ones,”
    as he himself carries the burden of their sins.
Therefore I’ll reward him extravagantly—
    the best of everything, the highest honors—
Because he looked death in the face and didn’t flinch,
    because he embraced the company of the lowest.
He took on his own shoulders the sin of the many,
    he took up the cause of all the black sheep.

I am a saved black sheep. Thank you, Jesus.

Posted in bible study, Eugene Peterson, Jesus, sanctification, scripture, sin | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hold Space (Bite Your Tongue)

Our Bible study leader told us not to give each other advice during small-group discussions.

I liked the experience. Would you?

Refraining from counseling/advising/citing scripture/quoting Christian clichés holds space open for Holy Spirit (The Counselor) to be heard. Holding space prevents others from trying to “rescue” the person who shared a deep hurt or struggle.

When people – with well-meaning, loving intentions – try to rescue me, sometimes they’re saying something I’ve thought or heard already, something that doesn’t fit, something that addresses the facts, but not the soul and emotions; or they’re telling their own story.

I remember when a group member advised another, who’d uncovered her heartache, that she should pray more often. As you can imagine, she shut down.

What helps is Christians hearing us and being with us as we are.

What would our growth groups, family discussions, chats with friends, time with a terminally ill parent, and other encounters feel like if we would Hold Space, that is, not jump in and give advice? (Of course, if someone asks, “What should I do?” or harm is imminent, do not hold your tongue.)

“What does it mean to ‘hold space’ for someone else?

It means that we are willing to walk alongside another person in whatever journey they’re on without judging them, making them feel inadequate, trying to fix them, or trying to impact the outcome. When we hold space for other people, we open our hearts, offer unconditional support, and let go of judgement and control.” Full article at http://upliftconnect.com/hold-space/

Posted in family, family problems, fixers, healing, hold space, Holy spirit, intimacy, marital problems, mens group, relationships, wisdom | Tagged | Leave a comment

Grow-Your-Own Proverbs

Here’s a sampling of my Life Group’s home-grown proverbs. Below those, is the prompt you can use if you’d like to write some of your own.

  • He who talks but never listens will soon be talking to himself.
  • Your thoughts, when written out, will live beyond your years.
  • A mother’s strong words spoken in love will push you up.
  • The love of a father shapes his child’s heart.
  • A creative heart is a well-spring of God’s love.
  • A fool only understands more foolishness.
  • A lazy person sees conspiracies everywhere to justify his idleness.
  • A timely, sincere apology heals two hearts.
  • Good motives do not expunge evil deeds.

Prompt: List 3 people who’ve positively influenced you, 3 who are/were thorns in your side and then list 3 pivotal decisions you’ve made in your life. Write your own proverbs inspired by those people and your decisions.

Posted in bible study, creative nonfiction, family, guidance, healing, relationships, the way the world works | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Reason Rant

Let’s say something unexpected and unpleasant has happened to you.  Someone says, “Things always happen for a reason.”

Is that a comfort to you? Or an annoying platitude? How do you respond to it?

Things always happen for a reason.

You mean like that time your dog ran off and got hit by a truck on Rt. 30?

Things always happen for a reason.

OK, great! Let’s go shopping.

Things always happen for a reason.

Is that a physics law or your demonstration of all-knowingness?

Things always happen for a reason.

Who said that, Shakespeare or Jesus – had to be one of those guys, right?

Things always happen for a reason.

So, um, what was the reason?

Things always happen for a reason.

CAUSE is what makes something happen. REASON is the explanation people give for why something is done.

Things always happen for a reason.

No, things don’t always happen for a reason. In the process of redeeming it, the event receives a reason.





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Too Old to Cry

At age twelve, Zekie was too old to be seen holding his mother’s hand. He wrenched his palm from her grip and ran ahead to listen to Jesus again.

Zekie’s mother wagged her finger. “Stay with me!”

He knew he should honor her with obedience, but Zekie climbed up on the stone wall of a livestock pen to get a good view. His mother joined other women clustered near the public well.

Dust clouds hovered above the crowd’s heads. From his vantage point, Zekie was eyelevel with people leaning out of second story windows, straining to hear what the rabbi was saying this time.

All Zekie could make out over the racket was, “I tell you the truth….” That’s what the boy loved about Jesus. Jesus spoke truth. A new truth.

A wind kicked up, driving odors of household waste residents had tossed into the street.

Suddenly, a man strode through the crowd, shoving people aside. A wedge of rabble rousers murmuring “crucify him” and officials brandishing swords and clubs followed in his wake. Dogs snarled at their heels, donkeys brayed, chickens protested as though a predator were terrorizing the coop.

The man drew himself up nose-to-nose with Jesus. He bellowed, “Rabbi!” kissed Jesus, and recoiled as if stung by scorpions.

Silence befell the crowd. The only sound: wind sighing in the olive trees.

Guards grabbed Jesus.

Zekie yelled, “Run, Jesus! Break away, Jesus!”

Jesus didn’t resist.

But one of the men with Jesus pulled out his sword and struck the high priest’s slave, slashing off his ear.

Zekie instinctively touched his own ear.

Jesus shouted, “No more of this!” He touched the slave and reattached his ear, with no traces of blood or scar.

Above the tumult, Zekie heard Jesus ask, “Am I some dangerous revolutionary, that you come with swords and clubs to arrest me?  Why didn’t you arrest me in the Temple? I was there among you teaching every day. But these things are happening to fulfill what the Scriptures say about me.”

Then all His disciples deserted him and ran away. One young man following behind was clothed only in a long linen shirt. When the mob tried to grab him, he slipped out of his shirt and ran away naked.

Zekie’s mother rushed to her son’s side. He told her, “Jesus stuck a man’s ear back on after it was sliced off!”

“Don’t lie, Zekie.”

Out of the corner of his eye, he watched men lead Jesus toward the high court. Even Zekie knew lies, many lies would be told there, anything to get rid of Jesus.

“Why do they want to kill Jesus?” he asked his mother.

She buried her face in her sleeve and sobbed.

If he were still a little boy, he too would have sobbed into his sleeve. Zekie took his mother’s hand in his and led her away.

Posted in bible study, creative nonfiction, Jesus, Judas' kiss, mark 14, miracles | Tagged | Leave a comment