Tuesday, May 24, 2011


                                                    "The New Jerusalem" in Pastel Chalk

Preaching through Revelation has been a great challenge, especially with the descriptions that John uses in sharing his vision of those things which earthly language cannot hope to adequately portray.  When I reached Revelation 21's passage on the New Jerusalem coming down, I knew I'd met my challenge.  There is nothing quite like the Scriptures alone for doing it justice, so I opted to build a sermon around the reading of the Word, music related to the theme, and art in the form of pastel chalk on textured mat board.
I "painted" my interpretation of the descriptions while the Scriptures were being read by selected members, and as....

...coordinated congregational hymns and special music were presented.  In this way, the whole congregation was a part of the experience.

For music, the songs "The Holy City" - "Heaven Came Down" - "When We All Get to Heaven" - "Heavenly Sunlight" and "Jerusalem" were used to highlight the service. 

It was my first attempt at a chalk drawing before a group in a confined time, but I found that the drawing I opted to use fit the normal time I usually plan for my sermon on Sunday mornings.  The response of the congregation?  Well, my planned-for experience was not disappointing - their comments indicated that the different approach and visualizing the Scriptures was a refreshing change of pace.

As I told the congregation in my introduction to the service, there was no way to fully describe the New Jerusalem on the small sheet, so I selected just a portion of the corner of the "city" wall.  Imagine trying to paint the whole of John's description on one canvas!  Revelation 21 describes this magnificient city of the redeemed of all the ages as being 1500 miles long, 1500 miles wide and 1500 miles high.  (To get an idea of the size, imagine a city that stretches from Arizona eastward to almost the Alantic coast, and from the Canadian border to almost the southern tip of Texas!)  And it's walls w 240 feet high, with 12 gates, 3 on a side, will each be attended by an angel.  Now that's a city to look forward to!

One commentator's evaluation indicated that given the projection of the numbers of believers from all ages who will reside there, each might have the equivalent of 75 acres, "cubed", as their "room" in the forevers of eternity.  Jesus did say that in His Father's house are many mansions or rooms and that He was going to prepare them for His disciples. (John 14:2) 

In the words of the songwriter of "Jerusalem":

"Jerusalem, I want to walk your streets that are golden
And I want to run where the angels have trod
Jerusalem, I want to rest on the banks of your river
In that city, city of God!"

Consider this.  This world with the calamities of nature's rebellion against the curse brought by man's sin gives many little hope of life without fear. Couple this with the outright damage man brings to man and the earth through his continued rebellion against the God Who gave him life and a pristine world to dominate (not destroy), and life becomes for many an impossible task.  It is in this, however, that God's Word gives us a hope that can conquer every fear and be a source to overcome every task.  Can we not take joy each day in the coming new creation God has promised to those who would trust Him and accept His grace-filled gift of eternity in His New Jerusalem?

It is my prayer that you will.  Be encouraged, my friends, my brothers and sisters in Christ!  I'll see you here, there, or in the air on the way!  Praise the Lord Who promises!

Monday, May 2, 2011


Ever since I was a youngster on the farm, and perhaps before, I can recall one pasttime that I truly enjoyed.  It was drawing or painting things from my imagination or from what I saw around me in nature.  As I grew older, this delight never left.  I took painting in college and almost completed an Art Minor.  Since then, I have tried to continue this passion, though for long periods of time I was so wrapped up in other tasks in my calling as minister and missionary, I've hardly done a brushstroke at all.  With retirement, though tasks seem still a'plenty, last year I began picking up a brush and trying my somewhat older hand at putting color and shapes on canvas once again.  My results, though perhaps not on a measure with many who've plied the trade for years, have given me a new sense of satisfaction in being able to create and in so doing, portray what our Creator and Master Artist has so beautifully painted in the world around us.  I humbly put before you three pieces that I've put in a local Art show for the month of May.  I trust they will be a blessing and share a message of encouragement with you.
                                                         BEEING YOUR BEST SELF
The title of this piece is somewhat obvious.  I posted the photo I took of this a few posts back, and then decided to paint it.  It's an Israeli Bee on a flower I saw while in Ceasarea, Israel a year ago.  It spoke to me about the importance of BEING rather than DOING as representative of who I am and should be each day.  The basics of who I am should not be governed by what I do as much as who "I Be" if you will pardon my grammar.  What I do should be a reflection of who I am and not the other way around.  Consider, if for some reason I cannot continue "doing" certain things for whatever reason, will I cease to be?  Not logical.  In the light of this, I have determined to BE what God has purposed for me to BE.  The BEE of the painting is BEING itself, as it has been purposed by God.  What it does comes from what and who it is, doing it with the very best of its ability.  That's what I want to BEE, as well.

The next canvas was painted from a photo I took in our backyard during one of our heavy snows a couple of years ago, minus the "eight-pointer" I added for effect.  I call it:
                                                              "THE SENTINEL"
As I considered the large knarled tree that stands so resolute amid its smaller fellows on the slope behind our house, I noted first that it certainly older than all others around.  Secondly, its limbs and branches had evidence of withstanding the violence of many winds, at times breaking and losing a little of itself each time, however, still standing strong.  As the snow fell and I was compelled to reach for my camera, I saw yet another scene come into play.  It was as though the whiteness of heaven was given to it like a king's robe and crown.  It's steadfastness of patient watchfulness had won for it that which would grace its massive and sometimes broken form.  I added the "buck" with its antlers as an added symbol of the tree-like SENTINEL character of the tree.  My own life has been planted in the soil that God has prepared for my task, too, for you see I am called to be a watchman, a sentinel to warn of the dangers which may be near.  I am called to be patient, and regardless of my increasing age and lessening "limberness of limb", I am to be a steadfast and faithful SENTINEL of Jesus Christ, my Lord.  I am told that one day that as a faithful servant, I too, will be given a white robe and crown!

The last painting I show you comes from a passage of scripture I have long remembered from a sermon I heard an evangelist preach many years ago.  I call this painting:
                                          "CONTENDING WITH JORDAN'S HORSES"
The passage of Scripture is Jeremiah 12:5, "If thou hast run with the footmen, and they have wearied thee, then how canst thou contend with horses? and if in the land of peace, wherein thou trustedst, they wearied thee, then how wilt thou do in the swelling of Jordan?"  I have found a rich resource in studying horses over the last few months and have painted two other pieces featuring them.  There is something very majestic in what God has designed in these animals.  I recall an illustration that uses the horse to describe the essence of submitted will.  A horse that is tamed still has every bit of its power intact, however, it has chosen to yield to the master who holds the reins.  Now the passage here reveals horses that are still yet untamed and therefore fully in charge of their power, which with a herd, is sizable indeed.  Jeremiah's question rings out to those who are growing weary already in life's race, and as yet have only faced the challenge of other runners.  I confess that I feel that way often myself, however, the race is not yet completed.  And considering the last phrases of the passage, in comparison to what may lie beyond my sight, my life has been in relative peaceful conditions.  Now the serious question is ask!  When the race is levered up to the speed and power of horses, or when the waters of strife rise higher, how will I cope? With Paul I must confess, "I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 3:13-14)

Be encouraged, my brothers and sisters! We can run the race! And I have read the back of the Book and we WIN!