Sunday, December 30, 2012

Recent Work

I thought that I better post something in for December, even though I've been busy (maybe not as busy as some are during the holiday season!). Here are a few examples of pieces I've been developing over the past 3 months. I'll be including some of those in my MFA portfolio submission during the end of next month.

These are all part of my Excavation Series (digging through the layers of material to discover "artifacts").

Monday, August 27, 2012

Fearfully and Wonderfully Made.

I've been reading some articles by Werner Gitt ( on the topic of Creation/Evolution and followed up on a little research of my own with regard to the human DNA molecule:
The DNA contained within a single human body cell, if stretched out end-to-end, measures about 6 feet. There are between 50 and 100 trillion cells in a human body (depending on age and size). Given 5280 feet/mile, that means that there are between 56.82 and 113 billion miles of DNA in a human being. Given the distance from the earth to the sun to be 93 million miles, that total DNA contained within one human body could make between 300 and 600 trips to the sun and back! Yet, that same DNA mass could be compressed and fill the space of a single ice cube.
(Wikipedia and the book, "Fearfully and Wonderfully made")

Oh, Dr. Gitt's principle point is that a non-material entity (in particular, "information"...our DNA) cannot be generated by a material entity.

Personal Update

Since the beginning of the school year I started teaching Art 100 at WKCTC (the local community college), and will soon be teaching both an after school program (on a monthly basis) in a district about an hour from home and a drawing class for the VCC co-op. This regular employment (along with the part time framing at Michaels) is such an answer to prayer and a much needed provision from the Lord. As a result, the time that I can devote to maintaining this blog will be limited.

I will keep up art production if only for portfolio development. I'll need that when applying for a MFA program at the end of the year. My art festival circuit will be reduced to 5-6 shows a Summer. I will certainly keep posting progress in this art part of my life.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Some Thoughts and Quotes

Ongoing Thoughts on the Context of Art

Say a lot with as little as possible.

Keep the message simple.

Always include a bit of mystery.

Tell a story. People are drawn to storytelling.

It’s okay to be ambiguous or create ambivalence.

The best art comes out of conviction and passion.

Great art is infectious and stands the test of time.

Remain loyal to your passion.

Favorite Quotes on the Subject of Spiritual Guidance

Our activity should, therefore, consist in placing ourselves in a state of susceptibility to divine impressions, and pliability to all the operations of the Eternal Word. Whilst tablet is unsteady, the painter is unable to produce a correct picture upon it, and every movement of self is productive of erroneous lineaments; it interrupts the work and defeats the design of this adorable Painter. We must then remain in peace, and move only when He moves us.
                                                               Fenelon, “Spiritual Progress” 21:5

First and foremost, to be emptied of self-will, for "even Christ pleased not Himself" (Rom. 15:3). This is absolutely essential; self-will and self-pleasing must be mortified if I am to be delivered from walking in darkness.

As a general rule it is better for us to trouble our minds very little about "guidance"--that is God's work: our business is to walk in obedience to Him day by day.
                                                               Divine Guidance, A.W. Pink
The will and wisdom of the flesh must be feared and crucified, and denied. The ear must be closed to all that the flesh and its wisdom, whether in self or in men around us, has to say. In all our thoughts of God or our study of His Word, in all our drawings nigh to worship, and all our goings out to work for Him, there must be a continued distrust and abnegation of self, and a very definite waiting on God by the Holy Spirit to teach and lead us. A soul that thus daily and hourly waits for a Divine leading, for the light of knowledge and of duty, will assuredly receive it. Would you be led of the, Spirit, give up, day by day, not only your will and wisdom, but your whole life and being. The Fire will descend and consume the sacrifice.                                                 
                                                    The Leading of the Spirit, Andrew Murray

Friday, July 6, 2012

My Thoughts on “Visual Faith”, a book by William Dyrness

I had read this book at some time in the past and have simply reviewed my notes and re-read the parts highlighted. It was not a very inspiring book, but did help me to formulate some questions.
1. Does “Christian art” have to be justified in regard to its practical value within the Christian community (ie, church banners, educational aids, worship art, etc.)?

2. Due to popular theology and economic hard times, are we in an new age of utilitarian art: practical pieces where form follows function and the colors must match my living room décor?

3. Can God only use “beautiful art” or can it be disturbing art about judgment or the trials of life?

4. Can art be used to restore passion in the church?

5. Relativistic post-modern culture has attempted to strip contemporary art of it’s compositional validation (ie, “all art is good” or “anything goes”). After all, “rules are bad” and we don’t want to hurt anyone’s self-esteem by criticizing their personal expression. Given this, plus the evidence of a spiritually bankrupt society, can we conclude that the Christian artist has before them a great void that only they can fill?

Friday, June 15, 2012

A Review of Wassily Kandinsky's book, "Concerning the Spiritual in Art”

Kandinsky sought his answer through a conceptual reductionism, which continued the Post–Impressionist’s simplicity and childlike conveyance of the essence of a thing. However, his goal was to identify spiritual context and how to convey that energy in art.
He illustrates this aesthetic in the form of a triangle (or what I would call a “sociology triangle”): the base of the triangle is the world of government and politics, further up toward the apex are the sciences, and then at the top are religion and philosophy. Kandinsky seems to associate advancement up this triangle with the possession of hidden or exclusive insight. Unfortunately, this understanding reduces the desired spiritual acquisition to a Gnostic practice: a human or natural attempt to reach the supernatural through special knowledge.
In particular, he found music to embody the purity of abstraction and deliberately combined that aspect of abstraction into the visual art of painting. Kandinsky proposes a compelling argument: one doesn’t value music because the sounds remind him of or imitate sounds from nature. So, why should we require that visual art images imitate the world of nature?
On a personal note, I believe that music and visual art also run parallel in terms of their audience appreciation. For example, a culture that is enamored with one-dimensional pop music is not likely to engage a piece of art with much more than a taste for pablum.
The author refers to both the “sound of colors”, an undeniable association of instrumental tone and visual hue, and the “psychic effect” of color. The latter is equally as accepted due to numerous experiments showing the impact of various colors on the human psyche. Kandinsky concludes that there must be a link between color and a corresponding spiritual vibration in the soul.
In the next chapter, the author analyzes form and color in regard to a “spiritual” vocabulary. He again emphasizes the advantage that abstract composition has in communicating this inner vibration. Although there are absolute principles that must apply, the challenge of creating ideal harmony within a composition is that the variable design elements impose a state of flux on the process; one alteration starts a chain reaction affecting everything else in that composition.
The inner need of the artist for spiritual harmony is built on three “mystical” elements: 1) individual expression (personality), 2) period and societal characteristics (style), and 3) preservation of the timeless impact of art (pure artistry).
The following two quotes illustrate the application of these elements. “Every artist chooses, from the forms which reflect his own time, those which are sympathetic to him, and expresses himself through them. So the subjective element is the definitive and the external expression of the inner, objective element.” (p. 34).
“It is impossible to theorize about this ideal of art. In real art, theory does not precede practice, but follows her. Everything is, at first, a matter of feeling.” (p. 35)
At this point I must clarify an ontological distinction between soul and spirit. Kandinsky consistently uses language associated with the soul level. For him, the deeper things are just feelings that are hard to put into words. His charts on form and color theory are helpful, but their application never seems to get beyond the soulish. He alludes to this shortcoming on page 47, when mentioning the limitation of simple nerve stimulation, but appears to only see the distinction between mind and soul (which, in Biblical terms, are in very close association as compared to the separation between soul and spirit).
The following quote sums up Kandinsky’s thesis, “Painting is an art, and art is not vague production, transitory and isolated, but a power which must be directed to the improvement and refinement of the human soul…to, in fact, the raising of the spiritual triangle.” (p. 54)
The author admonishes the artist to take this duty seriously. His talent requires it. And he must understand the influence he has on the spiritual atmosphere of his greater community. 
 A personal update: my art production has been put on hold due to a pending living situation. If I'm to remain in my RV and work out of the 8x10 cargo trailer, I'll need to install a portable AC unit (although, I guess that dripping sweat on my art could qualify as part of the mixed media!). Of course, finding a more suitable studio space is a goal.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Review of Nancy Pearcey's "Saving Leonardo", Part 2 of Part 2

     In an effort to wrap up this review, I have skipped over large sections of Part 2 of Pearcey's book and have included only some highlights. I'm half way through J.P. Moreland's book Kingdom Triangle, which deals with some of the same worldview issues, but from a more philosophical perspective. Still, Saving Leonardo remains my best read of the year.

    The relativism of idealistic humanism (in part, as taught by Kant), states that all we see are disconnected events with only self imposed order; what a person thinks is true of something is really only in their mind. Thus, art was no longer to be seen as a reflection of the beauty of God’s creation, but a “beauty-making power” of one’s imagination.
     This idealism, as a blending of Eastern and Western thought (later identified as neo-Platonism), attempted to re-create God into an impersonal essence or substance from which life simply flowed.
Science, which had been looked to in developing so many alternative philosophies, became a killing machine after the industrial revolution. German expressionism emerged with its violent images of dark humanity. Yet, as the author points out, relativism cannot stand against political or social evil. The postmodernist, although motivated to solve these world problems, has his hands tied. “Without a moral absolute, we cannot say, ‘That is wrong’ or ‘That is unjust.’ Lived out consistently, postmodernism leads to complicity with evil and injustice.” (p.238)
     Pearcey applies the worldview test of whether a philosophy fits reality in a summary paragraph criticizing reductionist thinking, on p.244, “What then? Anything that sticks outside of the box is simply dismissed or denied. For example, materialism insists that anything beyond matter is not real. Empiricism says that anything beyond the senses is not real. Naturalism says that anything beyond the natural is not real. Pantheism says that anything beyond the all-encompassing One is not real. These are forms of reductionism because they reduce the complex, many-leveled reality that God created down to one level. Reductionism is like a kid who argues that whatever does not fit into his toy box is not a toy. Or, to borrow a metaphor from G.K. Chesterton, reductionism is like a mental prison, ‘the prison of one thought’. Whatever does not fit into that prison is denied and suppressed.”
Christianity is not limited by the parts of creation, to make something out of then in which to believe, because it focuses on the transcendent Creator. From this comes a worldview that is holistic, respectful, and inclusive.
     Pearcey quotes from both Seerveld and Schaeffer in regard to a calling to Christians to learn the language of the artistic sub-culture in order to connect with and reach out to them.
The author spends a chapter analyzing the moral and cultural implications of the film industry. Following this, she discusses aspects of Christianity with regard to the arts and worldview development. Related to modern sentimentalism, a sacred/secular dualism is identified as the reason for substandard appreciation for the arts on the part of Christians. Even the expectation that Christian artists should volunteer and donate their work suggests a demoting of art and the individual.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Review of Nancy Pearcey's "Saving Leonardo", Part 2

Part 2: Two Paths to Secularism
           The following quotes from p.76 summarize my present longing.
“Art tries, literally, to picture things which philosophy tries to put into carefully thought-out words.” Han Rookmaaker. And contemporary architect David Gobel said that in art, “a worldview is made tangible.”
          People don’t’ care so much about the technical expertise of an artist, but how they convey some aspect of the world as they see it. Art is never a perfect copy of nature, but is an illusion; an interpretation or perspective on the part of the artist. The author makes a connection between the identity crisis of the art world in the Modern era and its abandoning the concept of truth.
       Contrary to media opinion, the greatest minds in the world of science are Christians who are scientists. Yet, the world continues to try to erase such facts and, like the Empiricists, attempts to find solutions to man’s problems through the achievements of science and industry. These same blind seers declare that art should never contain any moral lesson or implication.
    Impressionism attempted to approach visual reality through the lens of science. Post- Impressionists wanted to reclaim some deeper sense of reality in their work. During the same time, rationalists emphasized mathematics as the tool for understanding all things, as compared to the empiricists who believed that understanding came from data acquired through the senses. The perfect art movement to parallel the rationalists was cubism. Geometric abstraction, in particular the work of Mondrian, epitomized the rationalist worldview.
“Art was no longer a portrayal of a subject but the investigation of form.” (p.130)
      Secular worldviews are nothing more than substitutes for traditional religion. They become a template for an individuals thinking, communication, and view of life. In this, empiricists and rationalists have the same goal: to replace divine revelation with an alternate authority which can be imposed on society. Secularists think nothing of criticizing religious institutions for doing the very thing of which they are guilty.
      Pearcey lays out a simple two–part test for any worldview: “1) Is it internally logically consistent, 2) Does it fit the real world? That is, can it be applied and lived out consistently without doing violence to human nature? The second question suggest a biblical form of pragmatism. After all, the purpose of a worldview is to explain the world – to provide a mental map for navigating reality. If the map does not work in the real world, then it is not an accurate guide.” (p.152)
      The proponents of alternative worldviews, especially the naturalists, may even admit that their model is inconsistent and impossible to live by. But they continue on because the biblical worldview is an unacceptable and threatening option. It’s like the prideful child who refuses to accept the gift of a new toy while insisting on playing with his own broken piece of junk.
       And, as was stated before, these alternative worldview advocates will be quick to criticize others’ views but never scrutinize their own views with the same pair of glasses.
      Here’s another specific example: Liberal logical positivism reclaimed Hume’s fork as a standard for knowledge: 1) ideas are either derived from sensation or 2) come out of logical necessity, like mathematics. Yet, their precepts were not empirically verifiable…so, the movement self-destructed.
      Secular Humanism is constantly looking for ways to change the environment to change the way people think and live. After all, they conclude, we are nothing more than the product of our environment, whether selective evolution or behavioral engineering…hence the application of Bauhaus architecture.
       Pearcey quotes Hans Rookmaaker in his criticism of minimalism while missing an opportunity to make a worldview application. The meaningless or purely design use of color is the artist’s expression of the “deeper vision of the human condition”! I agree with Seerveld when he states, modern art (Mondrian-like reductionism, in particular) “has refined a brilliant alphabet but has nothing to say.” Yet, without that initial contribution, there would be no alphabet of visual design.
(to be continued)

Friday, May 18, 2012

Review of Nancy Pearcey's "Saving Leonardo", Part 1

This personal quest for the spiritual in art has brought me to a unique aesthetic. It's a blend of content and context with the supernatural, which is becoming my biblical worldview of art and life. I'm finding that the parts cannot stand alone. For example, spirituality without  morality is demonic. And good design, even genius, without the spirit (the spark of humanity) is lifeless.

Earlier, I had promised to share some from Pearcey's book, which has been instrumental in helping me through a part of this quest. I hope that you find this summary valuable.

Part 1: The Threat of Global Secularism
A powerful exposé on how post-modern (or, as Alan Kirby calls it: pseudo-modern) humanistic relativism has been adopted by and is destroying our current culture and has co-opted Christian culture as well. The author uses several dualistic comparisons between modes of thinking to show how this digression has occurred over the past couple of centuries.
            The 1st dichotomy is the manufactured difference between Values (private, subjective, relative) and Fact (public, objective, universal). The 2nd is Postmodern (religion and morality) and Modernism (science and industry).
“Morality is a way of stating what humans are designed to do – their purpose for living.” (p.42)
“The church is the training ground to equip individuals with a biblical worldview and to send them out to the front lines to think and act creatively on the basis of biblical truth. This result is not oppression but a wonderful liberation of their creative powers.” (p.45)
The 3rd dichotomy that has been imposed on culture is the liberal ontology: Person - an autonomous self (postmodernism) and Body – a biochemical machine (modernism). This presumes an exclusive jurisdiction (a Cartesian dualism): scientists are in charge of matter and the laws of physics, while theologians are in charge of soul and spiritual issues. This dualism also leads to a desire to control the physical nature for the benefit of the self. The greatest controversies identifying this goal are in the area of marriage, euthanasia, and abortion (ie, when does a fetus become a human?). This personhood theory is illustrated with another dichotomy: Person – (Person) has freedom, while the Body – (human) is a disposable machine. Therefore, non-persons cannot be offended, hurt, or deprived of anything, given that they can’t value such things. Pearcey poses the question, “Which abilities or functions count in deciding whether a person has moral worth? And how developed do they have to be in order to count? Every liberal ethicist draws the line at a different place, depending on his or her own personal choice or value.” (p.55)
            Liberals are nearsighted when it comes to analyzing their own positions. There is nothing objective or neutral about them. In fact, if followed to the end, humanism reaches the end game of genetic engineering; the offspring of Hitler’s Arian Race.
            The next dualism is a relational one: Personal (mental and emotional relationship) above the Physical (sexual).  The postmodern, multi-gender smorgasbord, called pomosexual, characterizes this. Physical identity is irrelevant and sexuality is open ended. Gender becomes a psychological identity determined by sexual drive. This concept is elevated above the biological, or physical identity, which is a simple matter of anatomy. For liberals, it doesn’t matter what you do or with whom you do it…as long as you love each other.
            The correct Christian response to all of this is summed up with the following quote: Christians should speak out on moral issues not because the feel “offended” or because their “cherished beliefs” are threatened, but because they have compassion for those who are trapped by destructive ideas. Their motivation should be that they are compelled by the love of Christ (2 Cor. 5:14). (p.68)
        Using shrill rhetoric or activist type tactics to combat the advancing immoral worldviews does not gain any headway and tends to disillusion our young people, who end up leaving the church upon adulthood.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Cost of Passion

We all should want something to be passionate about. Not just something tacked on to our lives or an interest one step above a hobby, but a passion connected to a life purpose. Not all passions are good. Many of us let a passion choose us rather than the other way around. Then, after it slowly takes over our life, we rationalize in order to protect our pride and call it anything but the idol that it is (eg., workaholism, an affair, etc.).
What can be more frightening is searching for a passion and not having a clear path to the Divine. The unregenerate artist has nothing but his/her own soul, or the world of men or of demons to tap into. Of course, it would be silly for me to say that secular artist throughout the ages have produced their timeless masterpieces out of deficit. What I mean is that gazing deeply into the inner self can bring a person to despair or even madness. Therefore, stories of artists committing suicide, although unfortunate, are not surprising. Yes, survivors abound, but all of them walk with a limp. For example, who can honestly travel with Goya through his dark period and return home without scars? Life for anyone can be traumatic, but an artist nearly begs for it.
Personally, I believe that my quest for truly spiritual art will become my new passion and for a good reason. Even though I choose it, I may not be free from its captivating and consuming power. There are no guarantees. My confidence is that I will be under the direction of the Holy Spirit…but that doesn’t make it safe! To truly follow Christ, in any calling, will cost us everything. But the benefits far outweigh the price. 

 I have to touch up the Elisha triptych just a bit. This composite doesn't match up perfectly. Honestly, having the piece dragged out over a few months and thousands of miles did nothing for the continuity. I'm ready to move on!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

More on the Spirituality in Art

If I can share another response to Kandinsky’s book. I’m not convinced that the only way to convey the spiritual in art is through abstract expressionism. Yet that will likely remain my favorite mode of experimentation. Later on I can seek to apply what I’ve learned to representational subject matter.
It is also my concern to avoid the Eastern mystical view of spiritual energy in art. Albeit small, Eastern influence (Chakra, mandalas, etc.) appears to have made some advancement in this understanding of art. Of course, like any false religion, there may be a supernatural connection but it is with the demonic and not the Divine. It seems that many Christians, Christian artists included, don’t concern themselves with having a solid theology and, as a result, are vulnerable to compromise and the thinking that all supernatural experiences are holy.
Some may approach the creative process passively, saying that, “It just happens to me.” This is exactly the type of thinking that illustrates the connection between our worldview and the way we live. What if this were our attitude toward spiritual growth, evangelism, or developing quality relationships? Just keep this in mind: the only things that grow in your garden passively are weeds.
The process is a mysterious one: what is experienced through the senses reaches the soul and then touches the spirit. The elements of design are sensually perceived. Just the same, words are nothing more than sounds but their meaning is what enters the mind and heart of the hearer. Does God want to use art to touch a person’s spirit? How is that done? I know that emotional impact and connection can be made. That’s nothing new. But this deeper interaction is intriguing to me. Can it operate in the same way as God’s Word (a small “r” revelation)? Can God use art to awaken the spirit of an unbeliever? Can it stir a believer to the spirit of prayer, instead of the emotion of tears; to be a conduit of the Holy Spirit motivating one to kneel, even in the gallery space, and enter into the presence of God? After all, the tabernacle and Old Testament temples were art; decorated architecture where God would meet with His people. ( be continued)

 Here is the nearly completed left panel of my Elisha Triptych. I've got to get the other panels finished in the next 2 weeks in preparation for the Belleville exhibition.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Understanding the Creative Process

           I am convinced that my aesthetic must be a melding of design concepts and worldview; image and spirit; the natural and supernatural. If the poles in any of these couplets develop at a different rate or in a different direction, there will be no success. To this point in my life, my worldview has been constructed in bits and pieces, my spirit has been sporadically united with my art, and my technical endeavors have operated independently from any other influence. What I’m looking for is an understanding of the whole person creative process. Don’t worry, I am not supporting the idea of “automatic writing” or some sort of spiritism, but I am looking for a Biblically valid cooperation between the two poles within me.
The triad of my art philosophy remains the same: design (interaction of composition and design elements), expression (emotional message), and technique (skillful use of tools). It’s just that now I’m beginning to see a parallel triangle at an upper level: spiritual energy (vibration of color and form), revelation (divine message), and the supernatural (wise use of gifts). The diagram extends below to represents the human trichotomy of spirit, soul, and body. The upper level is connected to Divine influence, the middle triangle is associated with academia, and the lower level is ontological. Without divine connection, the triangle collapses; design is confused with expression (ie, composition is the message) and soul is mistaken for spirit. The entire unit is becoming a more clearly defined part of my Biblical worldview, encompassed by the truth.
In this personal study and development, Kandinsky’s book Concerning the Spiritual in Art, has been very helpful. I disagree with his near Gnostic view of reaching that “upper level”, but his insight into the spiritual aspect of color and form has been influential. I’ll review that book at a later date, but for now I just want to make an additional point of distinction. That spiritual aspect of design is not merely symbolism (the layman’s simple interpretation) but has to do with how the physiological affect of color and form (from the actual photons and molecules) become a window into the spiritual realm. ( be continued)

 This icon image, "Madonna and Child in the Desert", has nothing to do with the above discussion (at least I wasn't thinking about those new philosophical ideas of mine while making the icon). I just wanted to show the finished product which I had started on the road during the Winter. With one more piece, I'll have enough to make a presentation on my Etsy storefront site.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Favorite Quotes from St. John Vianney, the Cure` D’ars

During my recent journey through the South West, I was able to read a few books (Nancy Pearcey's "Saving Leonardo" was the most inspiring). But I wanted to share with you several quotes from the beautiful little devotional, "Meditations of the Cure` d'Ars". I hope that you are as touched by the simple wisdom of these words as I have been.

“A Christian either rules his inclinations, or his inclinations rule him…”

“I have had crosses in plenty – more than I could carry almost! I set myself to ask for the love of crosses – then I was happy.”

“We must have a great confidence in God in times of illness or grief, because it is precisely then that God waits to see whether or no we shall put our trust in Him.”

“Where are the Christians today who would be ready, I do not say to give their lives for God, but even to put up with the least unpleasantness or inconvenience rather than disobey Him?”

“You wonder why God, who is goodness Itself, allows us to suffer…But, what would you think of a doctor who lost his patient because he was afraid to give him the necessary but unpleasant treatment?”

“An undertaking to be pleasing to God must have three conditions: It must be sincere, selfless and persevering.”

“If I may make use of such an expression, I compare those who serve sometimes God, sometimes the world, as the case may be, with dogs who answer to every whistle.”

“It is good to abandon oneself unreservedly to the guidance of Divine Providence. Our reserves dry up the current of His mercies, and our distrust stops the course of God’s blessings.”

“You do not know the resources of God’s providence for those who put their trust in Him.”

“God does not require of us the martyrdom of the body; He requires only the martyrdom of the heart, and the will.”

“Those who run after the vanities of the world which pass away like the wind give a great deal for very little profit; they give their eternity for the miserable smoke of the world.”

“The heart is drawn towards what it loves the most. The heart of a good Christian turns towards heaven, where God is, who is his treasure.”

“If you are afraid of other people’s opinion, you should not have become a Christian.”

Monday, February 27, 2012

The 30 Days is Over.

Well, there were a few factors that confirmed my time was up: too many frozen toes, an air mattress that sprung a leak (and kept leaking even after patches on top of patches), and a simple desire to get back home. Even though I did not get a specific answer from the Lord, I did get a clear strategy with several doors that will be opened or closed within a month or so. I guess that they could be called plan A, B, C, and D (or, if I consider the failed plans from the past year: F, G, H, and I).

I wasn't able to fast as much as I had expected to, and there were fewer opportunities to share my faith than anticipated. Also, I found that working on my art while on the road is not very practical. Lower than normal temperatures and some overcast skies interfered a bit. As I mention in the following video, it will take me a couple of months to finish the triptych. I'll want to finish glazing the icon in a more controlled environment.

My greatest spiritual fulfillment from this part of my life journey is reaching a level of availability and submissiveness to the Lord; the greatest sense of freedom from self that I've had in a long time. To be at peace while hovering in a holding pattern is a new experience for me. Of course, seeing the sights and getting close to the wonder of God's creation is always a great bonus. To God belongs all the glory and praise!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

God's Commands Give Us Authority.

My 30 days in the desert will soon be over. I hope that these blogs have a been a blessing to the few of you who have come along with me on this part of my journey.

Read Joshua 1:6-9. Joshua was given a huge commission! And the Lord knew that it was an impossibility for him to accomplish by his own strength. So, what was the link to God's strength to be able to face his insurmountable task? His Word. In particular, the commands of the scriptures. In our times of struggle we often gravitate toward the promises found in Bible, but in the text we see that obeying the commands also carry a promise. Prosperity and success are guaranteed.

"How about just overcoming my trial?!" Yes, there's promise for that, too. In John 10: 17-18, Jesus made a connection between His authority to lay down and take up His own life to the command that He was given from the father. You see, this is the faith of the Centurion: just say the word and my servant will be healed. The command from a superior gives the one carrying it out the same authority as if the commander were doing it himself. So, when we are commanded to be strong and courageous, we are being given the authority to be exactly that and to carry out the task, just as if God were with us to bring it about Himself. In fact, according to v.9, God IS with us and working to achieve His goal through us!

I tried to edit this video down so that it would fit a time limit...what a butcher job!
The last point that I was trying to make about the color was that when I coat the painted surface with Polycrylic, the intensity of the hues will increase by 50%.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

More on the Project

The art portion of the post got clipped. Even this addition is incomplete. The fire around the horses will be three layers: red, orange, and an accent layer of blue (that just fills in little dips and cracks). The angels will be glazed to look bronze-like. I also filled in the lower and upper sections of the right panel, sprinkled with fabric dye, and inscribed with landscape notations. The few details in those sections will be painted wet on dry.

How are You Dealing with Suffering?

The passage addressed today comes from Romans 5:1-5, and deals with the topic of suffering.
We're admonished to actively engage our suffering. It's natural to become upset or angry when suffering strikes. This can turn to a bitterness toward God and create a barrier to Him. If tolerated, the believer can end up just stoically going through life thinking that they are enduring, while all they are doing is enduring the Holy Spirit! This bitterness needs to be confessed and repented of immediately.

Dealing directly with our suffering requires a degree of discernment. Is our hardship coming from the devil or from God (yes, there are several references throughout the scriptures that convey the fact that God can afflict His children!)? Here are a couple of ways to test those experiences: 1) if there is a sense of condemnation, it's an attack from the devil, and 2) if it's an overwhelming burden of sin, inability, or sense of personal failure, I believe that it comes from God. How we respond makes all of the difference. It's not only a waste to simply enduring the ordeal, but if we slip into a state of self-pity, that is also a sign of the flesh and needs to be STOPPED. The correct way to respond is to cry out to God (or rebuke the enemy in the name of Jesus, if it's determined to be an attack from the devil...I'll share more about doing battle with the powers and principalities in a later post).

thlipsis- suffering, pressure, affliction, distress of mind due to circumstances.
ekxew-(perfect, passive, indicative), "has been poured out", gushed out, greedily poured out.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Do You Hear the Warning Signal?

Spiritually, getting from point A to B is not automatic. And there is no free ride! In fact, the route is anything but linear; passing through trials and dangerous encounters in an often zig-zag fashion. And sometimes the path seems cyclical, taking us through the same challenges again and again! That's why so many are tempted to give up on the whole thing and just camp out for a nap along the side of the path. Many believers are so sound asleep that they don't even hear the warning signal. What is the alarm sounding? "Get prepared!"

That's what I talk about in today's blog. In Matthew 24, Jesus teaches about how the time of His second coming will be like the days of Noah. Aside from observing similar levels of decadency and malaise, what should we be doing? Building your ark! This is just a unique way of addressing the importance of progressive sanctification.

Again, it's not automatic. Entering into that secret place of abiding requires building a relationship with the Holy Spirit. And, using the ark metaphor, out of all the loved ones you would want to have safe in your ark, the Holy Spirit is the necessary passenger! "Wait a minute," you may argue,"I've been sealed with the Holy Spirit. He's already on board!" There is a big difference between being sealed by the Spirit of God and being filled by Him. And the Holy Spirit is only welcome where holy living is practiced.

Take a look at Paul's prayer in Ephesians 3:14-19. V.17 states one of the objectives: that Christ may dwell in your hearts. But Paul was writing to and praying for believers. Wouldn't they already have the Spirit of Christ living in them? Yes, "sealed" by the Spirit (Eph 1:13)...but that's not the same as having Christ dwelling in your heart. Otherwise, Paul would not have made the distinction.

Here's another example from the Book of Psalms. All of the beauty, power, and benefits of Psalm 91 are conditional. Not every believer is going to experience that level of abiding in this lifetime.

So, how does one know if they're making progress with the ark construction? I believe that it's through the hard work of perseverance. Pressing through trials, afflictions, and hardships. Having your heart set on one thing only: to know Christ and to cling to Him for dear life! That's why I think we're supposed to rejoice in our trials (Rm 5:1f)...they're a sign that God is preparing us for the storm ahead. You are being hand picked to be an over-comer. And, according to Hebrews 12, such suffering is a sign of God's loving discipline.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Equestrian Competition at WestWorld

I know very little about horses, but I figured that some of you might be interested in this Quarter Horse competition at WestWorld from a couple of weeks ago. This video gives a glimpse of the two main events: the pole walking course and the handling trail. Note that the rider to the the left takes a letter out of the mail box as part of the trail.

Monday, February 6, 2012

We Have to Keep Seeking and Walking the Narrow Way.

Mathew 7:13-14 talks about the small gate and the narrow road that leads to life, and that only a few find it. And Luke 13:24 says that some who find the gate will not be able to enter it. The "finding" means that there is a searching and I believe that it means searching for gate, the road, and the life. So, what is it that you are looking for? If your goal is not eternal life and you happen to find the small gate, you'll be like the frustrated few mentioned in the verse from Luke.

What I find amazing is that there are Christians who pass through the small gate and then think that's all there is to it. They just camp out on the other side, next to the narrow road, and wait for something to happen. To put it in theological terms, passing through the gate is justification (salvation), walking the path is sanctification (holiness), and reaching life is glorification (eternity in heaven with a new body). These concepts can't be all lumped together, nor can one of them stand alone. To put it bluntly, if we are not walking the path of holiness (specifically progressive sanctification) we won't reach the goal of eternal life (Heb 12:14).

There's no question about it, you're going to encounter trials and affliction. We may be tempted to give up, but I've discovered that simply crying out to God in our trouble and weakness is the very thing for which the Lord is looking (it is kind of "giving up", but giving up the self and surrendering to the Lord). In today's blog I share a word of encouragement for those of us who are going through difficult times right now.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Way is Narrow, the Path is Not Always Smooth.

What I find most dishonest about the prosperity preaching movement is that they dismiss the whole concept of suffering and what the Lord plans to accomplish through it. Just look more closely at the beatitudes and see what it is that will truly make us happy: being poor in spirit, humble, persecuted, etc. Or consider the life of Joseph in the Old Testament. 14 years going down a zig-zag path of dangers, promotions, and failures. All to be brought to that place of God's purpose and God's glory.

The camping that I'm doing in the South West is certainly roughing it, but I'm used to it. Two years ago I finished bicycling 14,000 miles through 29 of the United States and 8 countries in the European Union. I biked through the Appalachians once, and the Rockies and the Alps twice; through dark, rain, snow, blazing heat, and headwinds. But that was primarily "self-inflicted".
These recent months have been more challenging spiritually and that's part of what I want to share with you in today's video.

Oops, I cut the video short by accident. It was just a bit about how new glazing with acrylics is to me.

Monday, January 30, 2012

A Quick Look at the Icon

Here's the most recent icon I've been working on. All of the layers have been added (with the exception of the Greek letters at the top). This is the 4th in that Icon Series.

Why Are You Carrying That bag of Rocks?

What if, while on your journey, you came across someone who was moving at a much slower pace. It then became clear to you that the reason why he was struggling so much: he had a bag of rocks tied to his back! Anyone of us would wonder "Why?!"
It's not only important to have a destination in our journey of life, but it helps to travel efficiently along that path. When we hang on to past hurts or our own sin, they become like a bag of rocks weighing us down. That bag just gets bigger and bigger and more burdensome. Soon, we find it impossible to function properly. Self medication doesn't solve the problem, nor does self-destructive addictive behavior. The only way to experience true freedom is to forgive those who have hurt us and to ask Jesus to forgive us for our sins.
I address the latter of those two solutions in today's video blog. Jesus said,"Come unto Me all you who are weary and heavy burdened and I will give you rest."
As for my art, I'm making progress on the left panel of the triptych.

We're All on a Journey

If we're going someplace, it helps to have a destination. Like Benjamin Franklin said (or was it Samuel Clemens?), "If you aim at nothing, you're sure to hit it." My devotion segment of this installment of my video blog addresses that issue on a grand scale. Where is your life ultimately headed? Where will you be spending eternity?
In each video entry, in addition to that brief devotional, I will show you around the camp ground where I am staying in Arizona. I'll also show you a little bit about what I'm doing with my my traveling studio.