Tag Archives: fun

Great Art: You Must Linger to See it

When the soul needs respite and the heart needs the vexing challenge of soul-stirring intellectual engagement, art offers a haven. On the nights when one cannot recognize the eyes of the individual in the mirror and the world seems as though it is failing to maintain its own rotation, art gives us a perspective that can rescue. When the everyday monotony of life begins to drain our souls of joy, art refreshes and revitalizes our hearts. Art: three simple letters used to label the concept of expression in total. The word seems wholly inadequate. It should be longer and have an “x” somewhere in it. Perhaps it is simple and short because art is easy to overlook and pass by?

Art is a powerful medium to express that which is inexpressible by any other means. Great art transcends cultures and time. It has no limitations and only grows in its appreciation as it is engaged. Great art refracts through layers of expression that expose a deeper truth, often revealing things that cannot be understood without equally deep investigation.

As of late, I have been inspired by the work of Makoto Fujimura. He uses a particular style of Japanese art to produce works that are masterful. Fujimura’s work is literally done in layers. Several translucent layers, one on top of another. The result is stunning, but only if the viewer allows them to linger. You see, the eye has to adjust to seeing the layers. In our modern world, this is extremely difficult to do. Yet, to appreciate the beauty of Fujimura’s work, the eye must hold fast to the piece. We must train our eyes to linger and rest on the expression. As the eye grows accustomed to the peculiar focus required to see the layers, the piece will spring to life. The greater attention given to grasping the work, the more beautiful it becomes.

So it is with all great art. The soul must be allowed breathe deeply the scent of expression. We must permit our souls the time to linger… to gaze upon the beauty and understand. Our souls, like our eyes, must adjust to the refraction of the light. As the light illuminates the layers of the canvas, our eyes slowly gain the necessary perception and begin to see the glory of the painting. We begin to see the work of the artist.

The Greatest Artist has displayed His work in layers that have become common to our eyes. We fly past His work constantly, seldom stopping to admire the layers of His glory. But if we would linger a bit, we would find our eyes adjust to an ever increasing beauty in the Father of Life. If will settle our souls to seek and savor Jesus Christ, we will find the much-needed respite from this present monotony. Work hard to engage your soul with the respite of great art… work harder to engage the work of The Great Artist.

Now a brief word of warning: Jesus is The Artist, who created everything. He is also the Light that exposes the work. When you stand in His presence to see His work, you will inevitably find some layers of yourself exposed. And that can be uncomfortable. But, to see the beauty of The King and to know His work is worth it.

Linger over the great truths of Scripture. Engage the incredible artworks produced by God’s people. Gaze at the beauty of what and who God has created. Listen to the music that He provides upon the winds. Seek beauty in Christ’s display of His glory. Work hard to engage your soul with the respite of great art… work harder to engage the work of The Great Artist.

6 Life-Lessons from Jo-Bits

jobitsanddaddyDaddy let Tooties compose one of these bloggy things. (here) So, I thought I should be allowed to compose such a work myself. So here are lessons from me, The Jo-Bitty! (aka, The Boy!)

RunRun. When there is nothing in your way and you have a straight path that is clear, run! Life rarely affords us the opportunity to run freely, unencumbered and unimpeded by circumstance or ability. Run when you see the opportunity. Finish the projects you’ve wanted to complete. Take the opportunity to race ahead with plans and efforts. Run! When there is a free and open path, run. Feeling the wind in your hair is amazing! Accomplishing tasks without deadlines is fun! Getting from point A to point B fast and free is exhilarating… When you’re able, run!

puddlesFind a good puddle to splash in. Find the place where you can jump in and make splashes! You old-people are far too concerned with getting water on your shoes or what others will think of your splash! Life is made for splashing! Puddles are made to splash. It is a still body of water that simply waits for your destructive force to splash in it. Make a splash! Get a little wet and laugh about it. When I jump in puddles next to my sister they squeal. They get some water on them and my splash bothers them a little bit. But, if I had never made the splash, they would have had an extremely boring walk. So make your splash! Jump in the puddles of this life and remember – your splash will make everyone else’s walk just a little more interesting. Splash splash splash!

PecanPickingDig in the dirt… you might find pecans! I live in south Texas. The trees here drop pecans every fall and we like to pick them. Mommy cooks with them, Daddy makes sugared pecans, and I like to eat them. The tricky thing about pecans is that they get pressed down into the dirt. You have to be willing to dig in the dirt to get the pecans. You have to get down on the ground and get a little messy. If you want to enjoy the pecans, you’ll get a little dirty picking them up.

Always be the knight! Be the hero of the story. Even if there is no story! Be the hero, save the day, be the good-guy. My sisters’ are always in danger! I am the knight! Sometimes I get confused and I hit my sisters… not a good idea. You see, God gave me hands to protect people. So I need to use those hands to take care of the people I love and to help those who cannot help themselves.

armor2When you go play, wear your armor! My big sisters and I go to a local playground a few times a week. We ride our bikes up there with mommy and daddy and we play. It’s fun. I keep my armor on while I play because I’m little and trip and fall sometimes. My armor makes me feel strong and protects me when I fall. It doesn’t block my sisters from wrestling with me or keep me from engaging the other kids on the playground, but it protects me when I fall. Daddy tells me I don’t have to keep my armor on, but I’m a knight! Knights wear armor because they are going to do things that are daring, and dangerous, and could hurt. I wear armor so I can do more, not to keep me from doing less. I build up my strength and protection so that I can be more daring and brave! Wear your armor and be daring!

JoBitsandTootiesTake care of the Tooties. I am the Jo-bitty and I have a little sister: Tooties [Toot-Tees]… perhaps you read her blog post! She’s a great writer. I love my Tooties, but she is small and doesn’t know everything yet. You have to be gentle with people who are little and don’t know better. Sometimes I forget to be gentle and Tooties cries. Sometimes I forget that she doesn’t know and my actions make her scream. (Then daddy talks in his big person voice and we all get sent to our beds). But sometimes I remember she is little and I’m big… that is when I sit with her and tell her I’m sorry. God made me to take care of smaller things. Tooties is smaller. I take care of her… when I remember. I show her the construction site and the bulldozers. I tell her stories and play games with her. I tell her she’s ok when she gets hurt. I take care of Tooties because Tooties is small.

I’m sure I could write more cool life-lessons, but it’s almost lunch time and I have to go make the macaroni and cheese. So… be good, buckle up, and wash behind your ears.

God is Good: some thoughts on God.

God is good.  God IS good.  What I mean is this: God is the definition of good.  He is: that which is good.  Further, apart from God, there is no good.  Because God is good, He is also the sustainer of all that is good. (Col. 1:17, Acts 17:28) Good cannot exist on apart from God because God is good.  However, to be clear, the converse is NOT true.  Good is NOT God.  God exists as the definer and the definition of good, but God is not confined to a definition of good that is set forward at one time or another.  Good is defined by God, but God is not thereby relegated to a definition of good.  He remains above the definition as the creator of good.  In other words, there is not an external good that God is confined to obey.

Evil, is defined as “unserviceable” or “useless.” (TDNT -“poneros”) Let that sink in for a minute… Romans 12:9 states, “Love genuinely and hate Evil!” Hate that which is useless or unserviceable. Do we do that? How much time do we waste on useless things?  Convicting eh?  Back on topic: Evil is defined as “Useless,” thus; evil is only defined by that which it is not. One can only define what is useless by ascribing a use.  In other words, without a definite purpose or “good,” you cannot define evil.  You cannot insist on an object as useless or unserviceable unless you have an established use or service.  Much like a shadow helps to define an object, so the same is with evil.  Evil helps to provide definition for the object on which God, who IS good, shines on.  The purpose or definition is not in the shadow, but is in the light’s unveiling on the object.  The shadow exists only to show you where the light is.

So where does use come from?  Where does service come from?  It comes from that which is good.  And if God is the definer of good, then service and use come from God.

Googling God

ImageIn John 8 Jesus reaches the mid-point climax of His confrontation with the Pharisees.  Up to this chapter, the religious leaders have maintained their composure and have stood in front of Jesus with some semblance of dignity.  But things are about to go bad for them.  In John 8 Jesus forgives an adulterous woman who was brought before Him as a trap and the religious leaders become infuriated with His claims to be “The Light of the World.” (v.12) Attempting to turn their eyes heavenward and to remind them of the eternal nature of their God, Jesus begins to speak of Heaven, truth and His own eternal nature.  This befuddles the religious elite and they begin to grasp at anything they can to discredit Jesus.

So, before we go any further, let’s get the issue straight.

1. Jesus has shown them that He can forgive sins and that forgiveness is not based on making the right choices in life or being good enough, but on His grace and mercy.

2. Jesus has told them that they cannot understand the light because they are not of God and are in need of Him to change their hearts.

3. Jesus has explained to them that He is the truth that can set them free from sin and that freedom is found in Him and not in self-made righteousness.

4. Finally, Jesus has explained that the religious leaders have believed the lies of the devil because they do not know the Heavenly Father.  In essence, Jesus is telling them that they are not God and they do not know God.

Now, we come to the place where someone has been confronted with a truth about God that they were not prepared to accept.  In verse 48, the religious leaders begin to come unraveled.  They attempt to grasp at anything that will discredit this God-man who stands before them.  Confronted with who Jesus is, they spit out, “Are we not right is saying that you are a Samaritan and have a demon!?”  Now let’s just pause here… who would EVER answer that affirmatively?  The question is, in itself, a testament to the reality that these people don’t know God.  When we don’t know Jesus, we leap to whatever theological standpoint that would prove us right.  I like to call this, “google God.”  It happens more often today than we like to admit.  When we are confronted with a character trait of Jesus that we don’t particularly like, we often dive head first into the world-wide-web and google our theology.  What we come away with is a sad indictment on who we are and to what it is we really think makes us righteous.

The religious leaders cling to their accusations of Jesus, but the accusations are unfounded and are not based on a relationship with God and His word.  If the religious leaders had really been concerned that Jesus was teaching something heretical, they would have gone to what they knew authoritatively about God from the Scripture.  But, they don’t.  They google God.  What I mean is this: instead of seeking the authority of the Most High God to determine their answers, they take the first opposing argument they can grab hold of and throw it out in a last ditch effort to win the debate.  This is what so many people who profess Christ do in our time, we google God in an effort to find a short-cut to win a debate.  But, this is not how God works in our hearts.  God works in the tireless efforts of struggling to know His nature and find our delight in Him.  God is more evident in the disciplined heart that has labored to understand Scripture than the one who is incredibly proficient at using the internet to find satisfactory answers for a debate.  When we google God, we don’t look impressive to those who know Jesus or even those who want to know Jesus.  We look annoying and we ask questions that don’t make since, just like the Pharisees did.

So, don’t be that guy.  When you are confronted with something difficult about the character and nature of God, go to Scripture.  Google-ing God may give you a short-cut to the answers to win a debate, but it also short-cuts your journey to know Jesus more and thereby limits your ability to know Him truly.  Knowing Jesus is much more valuable than winning the debate.

Wake up early to pray and study, stay up late to study and pray, do the discipline to know Jesus.  A relationship with Jesus can’t be googled.

John 12

In John 12, some Greek believers seek out Jesus almost immediately after the triumphal entry. Now, it is no surprise that some Greeks might find the message of Jesus appealing or that some of them might seek Jesus out. What is surprising is what Jesus responds with. John 12:21 The Greeks ask Phillip if they can go see Jesus. Phillip goes to Andrew and asks him and then they go to Jesus to tell Jesus.

Let’s clear some things up here first. All of the named disciples were Jewish. Jesus was Jewish. Jesus was claiming a messianic position in the Jewish religion. So it is only natural for them to be skeptical about non-Jews wanting to see the Messiah of the Jews. Second, Jesus had already had an awkward conversation with a Samaritan woman at a well and that made all the disciples uncomfortable, but they went along with it. Here the two disciples are not certain whether they should turn these Greeks away. Everything they have ever been taught in their religious practice has trained them to explain to Greeks, “you can come to the outer court, but not to the inner court, and certainly not to the holy place.” But here Jesus is the Holy Place. So where is the line supposed to be drawn? They don’t know where the line is. Further, each time they try to draw a line, they get taught a lesson. Remember John 9, the blind guy on the side of the road. They ask a goofy question because they have been taught some bizarre form of cosmic karma. Jesus reproves them, tells them to get on board with the mission, and heals the blind guy. Third, the Greeks recognize the disparity as well. They don’t go directly to Jesus as we see so many others do. They ask the disciples to get them access. Even the Greek believers were living under the assumption that Jesus was for the Jews only and that they would have to be second class. Jesus, however, has constantly demonstrated that He has a rescue for ALL types of men, women, and children, regardless of ethnicity or religious background. For all must be surrendered to Him anyway.

So, verse 20-22 already presents us with an awkward situation in which Jesus must make a decision. The truly odd nature of this portion of the story is what Jesus says to Phillip and Andrew. (The Greeks may be standing right next to them, but we don’t know for sure because the Bible doesn’t say.) When Jesus is approached with the news of these Greeks coming to see Him, He launches into a cryptic sermon about needing to die in order for life to spring up. He explains that a seed must fall to the ground and give up it’s life in order to bear fruit. So the call of Jesus arises to the surface. “Die that you may live.” Surrender your life so that you may find life. These Greeks are confronted with the message of the Cross: it’s not about who you are or where your from or what religious underpinnings you have. All these things must be counted as nothing and forfeit for the sake of following Christ. So the call lands on us. Will we surrender all our preconceived notions of what it means to be good and follow Jesus? Will we break fellowship with the systems that hold us captive in a false since of religious righteousness to follow Jesus? Will we serve the Father and die to self?

But Jesus isn’t finished here, you see He is about to have a conversation with God that everyone is going to get to hear. It’s a freaky, amazing thing. Jesus admits that He has come to lay down His life and says He wants God to glorify His name. A that moment God speaks!

The best I can describe my feeling as I read this is through a cartoon I watched recently with my daughter. Some bugs were playing in a garden and one thing leads to another and they say, “lets ask the Lord!” (yes, I am that hokey Christian parent.) The lady bug bows its head and asked God the question. I was expecting a moment of silence and then the lady bug should have a bolt of inspiration and know what was right! The moment of silence was there, but the cartoon suddenly boomed a voice answering the little bug. I was floored! God spoke outwardly. It was only a cartoon, but it was AWESOME! So… I get the same since here. Everyone must have felt a sudden jolt of “what was that!”
Jesus explains that it is the Father and that He is about to die… of course no one understands because we are told in verse 16 that even His disciples aren’t going to get it until He is glorified.
Reading this story makes me wonder if I come to God with the expectation that He would actually speak. Jesus did. The Greeks clearly overcame their own awkwardness to address Him. Even Phillip and Andrew approach Him expecting to be rattled a little. Do I? Do you? What are you expecting to receive from Jesus?

There is a whole lot more in this text, but I think I’ll leave it there for now.