With no disrespect toward Thanksgiving, the time for sending out Christmas Cards is at hand. This year we are excited to announce that we are offering one of our own designs as an option for sharing the truth of Christmas with those closest to you. The front shows the star that led the wise men to Bethlehem and the simple phrase, “Seek Light.” Packs of 5 cards are available for $15. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in making a purchase. Thanks!
The top inside of the card: The bottom inside of the card:
This evening we attended our first art & wine walk as vendors. Prior to setting up our booth, my wife and I paused to ask the Lord to watch over us and our efforts throughout the evening. We petitioned Him to allow us to be a blessing to others around us and to assist us in making a little bit of revenue, fully aware that there were bills at home that needed paid. The event was held in an upscale shopping center in an upscale community. Prospects were looking good. But the Lord does not always answer our prayers in the way we expect.
Anda works hard setting up our display area.
As the evening progressed, we were often acknowledged as selling religious artwork with a nod and a turn to leave. None-the-less we remained hopeful and sought to engage patrons with explanations of our work.
Mid-way through the night, a young lady emerged eager to converse regarding a piece I had created using one of the early church creeds. It was a delightful conversation. At the end she took my information and commented that she would continue to consider the piece but was unsure if she had a place for it. However she said, “I hope as an artist you know and can accept that, even when someone doesn’t purchase your work, it is a blessing for you to share your work like this and the conversations you have regarding it are a blessing.” In addition to her consoling words she purchased a few smaller items for $6.50, though she insisted on giving us $10 instead – our largest sale of the evening.
Jeremy waits with eager anticipation!
As the evening came to a close and only one more sale of $2.25 transacted, our earlier patrons words swirled around in my mind. Did I know that my work had served as a blessing to someone else? Yes, this young lady’s words had validated that fact and in doing so had answered my earlier prayer. Could I accept that my work and conversations were a blessing and enough even without huge sales? Ahh… there was the rub. We had prayed at the beginning of the evening that the Lord would allow us to be a blessing – which He had – and would allow us to make some revenue – which He had, $12.25 to be exact. Yes, the Lord had been faithful in fulfilling our prayers and I am willing to accept that selling artwork is only a portion of the ministry the Lord has given to us as artists. How blessed we are to be in the world and hear the stories of ordinary people and help them hear the story of our gracious Lord, Jesus. Come to think of it, who could ask for so much for only $12.25?
For several weeks I have been emotionally moved while singing Chris Tomlin’s “The God of Angel Armies” in congregational worship. Throughout this time, an image has slowly formed in my mind as I owned the truth being sung. I asked myself, “What battles am I trusting God to fight on my behalf?” The answer came quickly. For quite some time I have referenced my struggles as my dragons. These were the battles I could not fight alone.
In the midst of these mental conversations, I began attending a seminary class on Angelology, Hamartiology, and Anthropology. The professor invited students to personalize their first assignment through one or more creative mediums. The door had been opened for me to unleash my percolating thoughts upon an unsuspecting canvas. In keeping with the class content, I pictured God as the great lion, commanding His angels yet near at hand in the foreground. These angels, intentionally left nondescript, battled onward, keeping the dragon at bay. Here is how I visualize the rich truth of this song (please forgive the unprofessional composition of the photo):
I invite you to contemplate my visual representation as you listen to its original inspiration, “The God of Angel Armies.” May it be as much of a blessing to you as it was to me.
What if? As a dreamer this is a little game I enjoy playing from time to time. When things are quiet or sometimes in the midst of chaos, I close my eyes and wonder, “What if?” For example, what if… the gifts entrusted to individual believers are meant for a purpose? What if they have the potential to heal the wounds of others instead of simply promoting the pedestal of self? This idea appeals to me. As a Christian, I believe this should be the case. Ephesians 2:10 reminds us that “we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (ESV).
The Lord recently gave me an opportunity to act as an instrument of peace and healing while participating in a summer internship with a ministry called CenterPeace. CenterPeace is a 501(c)(3)
non-profit organization that offers seminars to help church leaders, educators, and families better understand same-sex attraction and open conversations about faith and homosexuality. A portion of my internship involved winsomely speaking the language of art. Recognizing my gifts, CenterPeace’s director, Sally Gary, asked me to illustrate the ministry’s spiritual formation curriculum. Below are three of the paintings that I created for that task:
Identity – Understanding who we are and developing a healthy perception of how to live based upon this understanding is a challenge that confronts all of us. This piece will become a point of contemplation in a section that balances the lessons of youth, acquired false identity, the need to see oneself as a child of God, self-love, and thankfulness.
The Lies We Tell Ourselves – Positioned in a section on the strategies of the enemy, this piece addresses the internalized lies of the Deceiver, flavoring our understanding of personal identity.
The Journey – This piece of artwork will accompany the final section of the curriculum. The material provokes the participant to seriously consider what a life of holiness would look like and what decisions will direct their path going forward. Notice that the young man contemplates his journey within the shadow of the cross, weighing the options available to him.
While these artworks have not presently been turned into prints, it is my hope that this will take place in the near future. Please check back often for updates and feel free to contact me if you have interest in acquiring a print. (This will help me in deciding the number of fine art prints I can feasibly produce without going into debt.) Thank you and till the next time… Shalom!
… A Glimpse of Creation
Maybe you recently read the “About” page of my blog. If you did, maybe you recall that I shared with you my fascination in the illuminated manuscripts of ages past. An artist friend of mine recently promted me to start seriously thinking about my own ability to create a modern twist on this ancient art form. As we dreamed together, Dawn suggested that maybe my pieces could be used to form a new type of “wordless book.” I’m not sure if such a project will ever come to fruition or even how long it would take (I have joked that it will be my 20 year plan) but I have decided to start creating in hopes that through my contemplative visualization of the text others might come to know my Lord. Here is my first rendering for the book of Genesis, “A Glimpse of Creation.” I would love to hear your thoughts, so please leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks!
The Apostle Paul writes about how one man plants a seed, another waters it and yet still another realizes its fruit. God does not expect us to “win” souls for Christ… He expects us to be faithful.
I observed a great example of this principle on Sunday. We share a special relationship with an elderly lady at our church. However, to know her is anything but geriatric. She is full of life and as an overflow of her love for the Lord and others, she embodies joy. Her name is Patty.
Our family hasn’t known Patty long but the Lord has used her as a huge encouragement to us. When some of my work was recently hung on display at Northwest Bible Church, Patty took it upon herself to make “public service announcements” to her Sunday school class and the senior citizens group that meets during the week… she even gave guided tours, sharing with others what she had heard me say about each of my paintings.
Recently, Patty purchased a print of one of my paintings called “Revealed.” I was encouraged by her purchase but that vote of confidence was soon to be outdone. Patty took her print to a professional framer. As she explained what she wanted done, the craftsman began to ask questions about the content of the picture. Within a few moments, Patty had the opportunity to share the Gospel message using my painting as a visual!
Patty took the finished product home and displayed it in her living room. A few days later she hosted her granddaughter’s graduation party. As friends and family gathered, Patty once more shared the intended message of the painting with her visitors.
God uniquely allows us to share in His message of hope and salvation. For some of us, we are allowed to “speak” the Gospel visually, others are entrusted to share the message through words. He calls one to sow and one to reap (John 4:37). The question is not so much, “who does what?” It is whether or not we are faithful where he has placed us. How are you using your gifts to make Him known?
The concept of community often gets lost midst our high-tech, low commitment societal preferences. However, by nature we were not created to be alone. We need others in our lives. Obviously, because of the great diversity of personalities and worldviews, entering into community can be difficult at times. Sometimes it doesn’t seem safe. But other times you encounter a person and know instinctively that you are breathing the same air; that there is common ground which allows your differences to serve as a means of encouragement and sharpening. My morning was built around one of those encounters.
A few months ago, I attended a luncheon on using the arts in ministry. One of the guest speakers was Dallas-based artist Dawn Waters Baker. As Dawn shared her heart she made a profound statement, “Brokenness is drawn toward beauty.” I knew at that moment that I wanted the opportunity to delve into a deeper discussion with this talented individual.
Today, fast-forwarding past a few facebook posts and email messages, we sat down to chat in the corner of Hope Coffee. Dawn graciously shared her experiences as an artist, her heart for the broken and the purpose of her art – to visually love others.
When asked about tricks of the trade, Dawn offered the following insights to Christians endeavoring to serve within the creative arts:
- Protect your creative time. This is not selfish, it is a way of being able to continue to offer your best to the Lord.
- Take time to rest.
- Enter into community. We all need a group of people where we can be pushed in addition to being loved. Share your prayer requests with this group on a weekly basis.
- Find an ongoing way, that is not art related, to serve. This will help you to maintain a humble outlook on the world and those the Lord has allowed to come within your sphere of influence.
Check out Dawn’s website at www.dawnwatersbaker.com! You will be amazed at her incredible ability to capture the sublime emotions communicated by God’s handiwork in nature.
Thank you, Dawn, for enduring my random questions and encouraging me in the journey! May the Lord continue to bless the work of your hands to the glory of His name!
This past weekend my wife and I were privileged to volunteer in the resource center at FamilyLife’s Frisco-based “Weekend to Remember” conference. Over the stretch of three days we were blessed to interact with various married couples as they perused and purchased various marriage and family resources. One of the many resources available was “The Art of Marriage” curriculum. We first became acquainted with this material when we attended our first “Weekend to Remember” way back in 2009. It was there in Hershey, Pennsylvania, that we decided to purchase these materials because, as Anda explained, “We found materials to help our marriage that spoke a language my husband understood.”
To my fellow artists, if you are looking for resources to enrich your marriage that speak your heart language, I would recommend that you check out “The Art of Marriage!” You can find more information on FamilyLife’s website at http://shop.familylife.com/p-1954-the-art-of-marriage-small-group-series-starter-pack.aspx.
On Saturday evening, time was built into the conference schedule to allow participants to enjoy a date-night. After enjoying dinner in the food court and a time of window-shopping at a local mall (which of course included a small shop that sold original art work and a bookshop), we made our way to the 7:15 showing of the “Woman in Gold,” a movie based on the Nazi capture of Gustav Klimt’s famous 1907 portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer. The film chronicles the pursuit of a surviving Jewish woman’s attempt to reclaim her aunt’s portrait from the post-war clenches of Austrian bureaucracy. This movie is a must see! In the midst of dealing with the heart-wrenching atrocities of the Holocaust, a political understanding of ethics and the rights of individuals, this work also reminds us that artistic renderings are connected to life. While we may appreciate the beauty of a piece in isolation, the context of a masterpiece’s story is a heritage that is not to be forgotten.