thumb licks [3.14.12]

Fight sin is tiring.

The gospel of art.

8 ways to protect your children from sexual abuse.

5 reasons God said “NO.”

Why daylight savings time is pointless.

Harold Camping admits sin and doomsday predictions.

Be careful what you say to your pastor.

Why imposters love church.

3 Little Pigs. If it were told today in today’s world.

Kony 2012. I hope this movement does not make this man famous, but that justice would be taken. I appreciate this letter from a fellow brother in Africa to a lady who has questions about Kony.

Lessons learned from God’s Creatorhood

What can we learn from the way God imagines and makes, and how must we change our ways of imagining and making because of what we observe in His ways?

1. What we call strange or abstract art may be closer to God’s way of creating.

When God created the first giraffe He did not have one to imitate or to copy. It came out of His imagination and, in the finest sense of the word, was abstract, because it did not look like anything else; it had no exterior reference point.

When people grouse about a painting that does not look like anything kindly refer them to God and what He did in starting up creation. Ask them to take a microscope and telescope and note the countless oddities, dazzlements, flashes and sublimities—abstractions all, nothing imitating anything else.

2. With God, there is a difference between replication and continuation.

Our reasoning might go this way, “Yes, I can agree that God was the first abstract artist, but He acted this way only once, to start things up. After the first giraffe, there were billions of giraffes, and I know they are giraffes because they look like each other. So why should we not continue to the parade by drawing giraffes that look like giraffes?” There is a simple answer: even though God may repeat an action, He does not replicate the object of His action. The genius, if you will, of God’s repeated creational acts lies in the deeper fact that giraffes dramatically vary from each other in ways that go beyond their seeming similarities. And it is the variation that not only brings delight but also allows us to tell one from the other. All giraffes have spots.

3. God’s inside workmanship is as exquisite as His outside workmanship.

When God makes something, it is marked by structural integrity and impeccable craftsmanship through and through. There is no such thing as rough work and finished work with God.

4. God’s idea of quality is the same whether He makes something for quick or for long-lasting use.

When God makes something, He does not pay less attention to it or make it less carefully if He knows that it will be quickly used up.

5. God’s handiwork is not divided between great things for magnificent display and doing average things for ordinary circumstances.

Do we have a concept of creativity that is divided between museum mentality and a workplace mentality—great art for the ages and so-so art for the worship place? Look at a rose or look once at the lowly, eatable mango, and you will see inherent beauty at the same time you notice that each has work to do. God saw to it, in His ways of putting things together, that inherent worth, intrinsic beauty and usefulness quietly and humbly merge. Everything we imagine and make should be put to some work, and everything that is put to work should have inherent comeliness.

6. The Creator is not the creation, and the artist is not the art.

God is superior to what He makes, sovereign over it and separate from it. He is everywhere at once, at the bottom of the deepest sea and in the midst of a primrose. But He is none of these, nor can He be. He made the creation; He did not beget it. By the same token, we are not what we make. We are superior to it; we are sovereign over it and separate from it. A potter no more begets a piece of pottery than God begets a salamander.

7. God is not especially interested in straight lines, perfect circles and geometric tidiness; His work is more chaotic than symmetrical.

A statement like this flies in the face of our neatly packaged, superficial and often spiritualized ideas about order, symmetry, harmony and balance in creation. Walk into a meadow and see if you can locate a straight line of buttercups all exactly the same height, each with exactly replicated pedals. Or try to find a strictly triangular stand of perfectly symmetrical trees foregrounding a mountain range the left side of which is a mirror image of the right side. There is no landscape in which we can find any semblance of order, no storm, at sea in which the waves are the same shape, height, creaminess or momentum. Nothing repeats and nothing is predictable. But here’s an odd twist on it all: underlying the asymmetry and the randomness, there are governing laws that do not randomly fluctuate, even though the outward workings of the laws allow unpredictability and fluctuation. With God, “chaos theory” is nothing other than infinitely varied rightness.

8. God has the jump on anyone who thinks that cultural diversity is the greatest thing since the automobile.

For instance, I must be willing to die for the absolute truth that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, but I can live comfortably with the belief that Beethoven symphony is but one song among many songs, no one of which is the true song. The biblical defense for cultural diversity lies in the way God speaks, the way He creates and especially the way He clarifies the fundamental difference between His Word and what He creates. God is the most complete diversifier we know of. His handiwork is endlessly varied; all of it is good and each particle fits easily into its ordained place. While everything has its own worth, nothing exists independently of the other, for the entire creation is a community of substance and interchange.1

Adapted from Harold M. Best, Unceasing Worship: Biblical Perspectives of Worship and the Arts. InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL. 2003. 129-137

thumb lick [1.14.12]

3 Things You Need to Know about Sin

Community idolatry. Are chasing false gods together? 8-idol shattering questions.

Abandoned by God. What to do when you feel alone or forsaken.

Benefits of sorrow.

My dream vacation: move, learn, eat.

Nearer Heaven: a great 30-day devotional.

Religious views of 20-somethings.

Books on Christians and politics.

It’s amazing what artist can do with books, mailboxes, and more paper.

In our State they do not test parallel parking anymore. Maybe they need to rethink that:

a concise theology of art

Art moves. Art has the innate ability to captivate your thoughts and stir your emotions. Art encompasses all of your life and the world in which you live. You cannot step outside your home or inside your home without taking in some kind of artistic expression. What is art? What is good art? What is the origin of art?

creativity and beauty is in the eye of the Beholder

Have you ever thought about art being a biblical concept? Have you thought about art origins being God—the first artist? And His Creation and created beings reflect His creativeness? God is an artistic God. He has created a wonder of colorful marvel. From the tiny microbe to the massive mountain ranges to the myriads of stars that glitter the night sky, God is a masterfully skilled artisan. Creativity and beauty reflects your Creator. Art in the Bible can be any creative medium to express God’s character: music, songs, poetry, prose, dance, fashion, sculpting, architecture, interior design, graphic design, drawing, carpentry, even teaching and preaching.

I would define art simple as creating beauty for God’s glory. Man has the ability to create and be creative because he mimics his Creator. The Creator has given His creation the ability to create. Creating for the glory of God is art at its chief and highest purpose.

Francis Schaeffer, the apologist and cultural critic, says art is a reflection of God. He believed that Christian art had a minor theme–the abnormality of the revolting world—and a major theme—the meaningfulness and purposefulness of life. By this definition an artist doesn’t necessarily have to be a Christian in order to produce “Christian art.”

twisted creativity and beauty

“GOD was pleased to make man, and GOD made man with creative capacities. Apart from GOD, man would not be, nor would man have any artistic, creative ability. Therefore, to engage in any artistic expression of man as being apart from GOD, is to both dishonor GOD, the Author of man and artistic expression, and to deny ourselves the full pleasures that GOD has intended for our enjoyment in art; culminating in our enjoyment in Him, through JESUS CHRIST.” – Artist’s Creed

God defines artistic beauty and creativity, but man has perverted and distorted art through sinful intentions and expressions. Any art that does not adhere to biblical guidelines is not for the glory of God. Here are four examples of sinful art.

First, graffiti without permission is lawless. Law considers defacing public property with graffiti vandalism. Now I have seen a lot of graffiti that makes an ugly wall beautiful, but without adhering to the law it is still sinful. Get permission before you paint graffiti.

Second, pornography is not biblical art. There are numerous rationalizations for nakedness being a genuine art form. Yes, man once walked naked in the Garden of Eden, but since the fall of mankind nakedness was synonymous with shamefulness. God, as the first fashion designer, made man clothing to cover their nakedness and shame. What is beautiful about nakedness according to the Bible is sexual intimacy in the context of committed marriage. For more on this check out a great article called, “Art, Nakedness and Redemption”.

Third, blaspheming God in art is more than irreverent it’s unregenerate. Can artists go too far? Absolutely, creating blasphemous or ironic religious imagery crosses biblical standards. In the Law of God given to Moses it says, “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them.” [Exodus 20:4-5] Then Leviticus 26:1, goes on to say, ”You shall not make idols for yourselves or erect an image or pillar, and you shall not set up a figured stone in your land to bow down to it, for I am the Lord your God.” What is being forbidden is not the creation of all representational art, but what is forbidden is the worship and praise of graven images. When God commanding Moses to create the tabernacle and decorate it with imagery it included representations of “anything that is in heaven” [i.e. cherubim] and of that which is “in the earth beneath” [i.e. flowers and pomegranates). If God were prohibiting the creation of all representational art He would order Moses to disobey his command.

Fourth, artists do not create the rules. The underlying assumption in modern art is that artists are allowed to “create their own rules.” It is a common standard in Western culture that the artist, as an individual creative genius, stands apart from or outside of culture. In other words, the artist has taken the role once reserved for the prophet. However, according to the Scripture we are not autonomous individuals, but persons bound in community. God’s Word is not a private message given to us as individuals to interpret as we choose. It is a guiding text that is given to the church in order that we may live, work, and breathe as the beautiful Bride of Christ. The artist is in the same position as teachers and preachers, who are held to a higher standard because they are entrusted with communicating the truth.

Sin has a tendency of distorting really good things that God intends for His glory. All art must have a biblical standard and framework. This does not mean all art must have be pictures of Jesus or clouds with rainbows, but art must reflect the redemptive purpose of Christ and the creative glory of God [Romans 11:36]. All people should be encouraged to create art that is creative, beautiful, displaying truth. Just as all truth is God’s truth, all beauty is God’s beauty.

“The artist is called and gifted by God—who loves all kinds of art; who maintains high aesthetic standards for goodness, truth, and beauty; and whose glory is art’s highest goal. We accept these principles because they are biblical, and also because they are true to God’s character. What we believe about art is based on what we believe about God. Art is what it is because God is who He is.” – Philip Ryken

creating beauty for the glory of God

Since, a child I have loved art. I learned a lot about art from watching my dad paint and carve wood. My favorite classes in school were art, not because it was an easy A. Even now, I enjoy drawing in my idea book, make a hobby out of writing, dabble in graphic design, and marvel at architecture and nature when I travel. I love to dance, and am moved when I hear my wife sing or play the guitar. Art moves me.

For all eternity, we will be awed by the creative genius’ God has displayed in His creation. I still think the best is yet to come. God will reveal to us the beauty and creativity of the heavens, which captivates our imaginations. God has wired us to enjoy creativity and beauty.