Artis Divina - Where Artists find ways to follow God

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Monday, January 30, 2006

Making Space for God

As a Creative, I have immensely enjoyed the writings of Oswald Chambers, himself a creative. I highly recommend using My Utmost for His Highest as a part of any time alone with God, whether you be creative, or not. He really hits the nail on the head…

My Utmost for His Highest
Oswald Chambers

January 25
Leave Room for God

When it pleased God . . . Galatians 1:15

As servants of God, we must learn to make room for Him-to give God "elbow room." We plan and figure and predict that this or that will happen, but we forget to make room for God to come in as He chooses. Would we be surprised if God came into our meeting or into our preaching in a way we had never expected Him to come? Do not look for God to come in a particular way, but do look for Him. The way to make room for Him is to expect Him to come, but not in a certain way. No matter how well we may know God, the great lesson to learn is that He may break in at any minute. We tend to overlook this element of surprise, yet God never works in any other way. Suddenly— God meets our life ". . . when it pleased God . . . ."
Keep your life so constantly in touch with God that His surprising power can break through at any point. Live in a constant state of expectancy, and leave room for God to come in as He decides.

+ + +

You can’t make space for God,
unless you intentionally leave space for God.

My Experience with being quiet and spending time with God, is that we have become such a busy culture, that we find it difficult to find the time to spend with God. And so, to make space for God, we have to leave the space for time with God, in our lives, and not let anything creep up to fill in this time. It is a life led by intentionality, planning, and an open handed attitude, palms up – if you will, waiting on God, in His presence, in direct communication, and communion. When you ask him to come be with you, be assured that He will.

At this point, there is quite a dearth of materials written to help an artistic and creative personality develop this time alone with God. Except for materials that I am writing, Don Postema’s book, “Space for God”, is really the only publication that has such a strong way to help Creative people draw closer to God, and I recommend it for yourself, or even a small group. He has written a series of meditative readings and spiritual exercises that will enrich your spiritual journey. The book includes many paintings and artworks, poetry, quotes, and Scripture.

There is a leader’s Guide for anyone able to use it in a group context. See below for this resource for your own time with God, or leading others through, after you use it first. I have enjoyed it very much.

Space for God, by Don Postema

Leader's Guide

And back to My Utmost for His Highest for a moment. Not too many people know that Oswald Chambers went to Art School in College, before he was a Preacher and Pastor. Chambers was one of us, he was just called to a larger ministry. But because he sees many things through that mindset, I have enjoyed his writings, and used My Utmost for His Highest for time alone with God for many years, and so, have cherished a leather bound edition that I use daily at home, a vest pocket leather edition that I travel with, and another hard cover edition, as well as the updated version. And I listen to it on Audio as well, when driving…I even keep spare copies around to give away to people…

My point is, that if you buy a copy, plan on buying one that you can use for many years to come… here is a link for the Leather bound version on Amazon, it’s worth the search to find yourself a good copy for your life’s growth.

My Utmost for His Highest leather bound edition

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

The Brick Testament - The Bible in Legos

The Brick Testament
An illustrated Bible presented by The Rev. Brendan Powell Smith

This is just so fun, the Guy has done loads of work... what agreat hoot, the Bible in Legos... WOW!!!

Here's the Last Supper

Monday, January 09, 2006

Artists are Missionaries of the Beautiful


This note I wrote, because I am drawn to Beauty and God, and am fascinated when they come together. I also enjoy the poetry of St. John of the Cross, a 15th C. Spanish Monk, whose relationship with God was really very good, and something that I would like to emulate in my life.

“One day, St. John of the Cross asked a nun in what her prayers consisted?

She replied,
‘In considering the beauty of God, and in rejoicing that He has such beauty.’

St. John of the Cross was so pleased with this, that for some days he said the most sublime things concerning the beauty of God, at which all marveled.”

- From the introduction of Poems of St. John of the Cross, by Roy Campbell

Then, I continued to meditate on this thought, and wrote:
Prayers, a life of prayer, “considering the beauty of God – and in rejoicing that He has such beauty…”

WOW!!!!! What a subject to pray about!!!

And to have Prayer be about beauty –
And to be in Prayer about this attribute of God ---
This is a powerful thought -- and revolutionary in opening up another line of thinking about God –

*God’s attributes – Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Creator, Lover, Beauty-full, Artist

What are the Creative/Artistic attributes of God?
-Designer of the artistic/aesthetic systems
-Love (– it fits in here, because from it springs all else…)

These Creative/ Aesthetic attributes of God are so tremendous to dwell on, to give directees to meditate on, and to teach in workshops, lectures, and other group contexts.

- - - - -

Yesterday, I thought about the movie, “Il Postino”, (The Postman) I thought about how Pablo Neruda, the Argentine poet in exile in 1950’s Italy, helped to open up the person of the village postman – Neruda was a missionary of the creative – He helped the Postman realize the beauty of his place, his village and island, heretofore unnoticed and under-appreciated. The Postman started to perceive beauty anew, where there once was none, but only to his unopened eyes. That’s what I do for my Church. That’s what artists can do in their congregations, they help people “see” the beauty of the hand of God, and the beauty of God himself, by just being there, and pointing it out to them.

And so I come to this conclusion about Artists and their role in the Churches…

***Artists are Missionaries of the Beautiful***

There is much here to talk about to the Church.
We have been given a tremendous opportunity to be missionaries of God's great hand of Creation, to those people who don't seem to be able to take the time to look, and really see.

I just love this quote from the great painter, Georgia O'Keeffe:

“In a way, nobody sees a flower really, it is so small, we haven’t
time --and to see takes time, like to have a friend takes time.”

- Georgia O’Keeffe

Artists are often the only ones who take time to really see. This is a great asset, and if given graciously to the family of our church's congregation, we are able to show them God, through his Hand's creation. This is such a tremendous privilege.... and I'm so excited to be able to give this gift of sight to other people. In this, Artists and Creatives can model the lifestyle of knowing God by taking time to really "see" him, and taking the time to really "listen" in the quiet places.
"--and to see takes time, like to have a friend takes time.”

"Their strength is to sit still."

This is a nice way to walk today, enjoy the Solitude, silence, and prayer...

Streams in the Desert
April 7
"Their strength is to sit still." (Isa. 30:7)

In order really to know God, inward stillness is absolutely necessary. I remember when I first leaned this. A time of great emergency had risen in my life, when every part of my being seemed to throb with anxiety, and when the necessity for immediate and vigorous action seemed overpowering; and yet circumstances were such that I could do nothing, and the person who could, would not stir.

For a little while it seemed as if I must fly to pieces with the inward turmoil, when suddenly the still small voice whispered in the depths of my soul, "Be still, and know that I am God." The word was with power, and I hearkened. I composed my body to perfect stillness, and I constrained my troubled spirit into quietness, and looked up and waited; and then I did "know" that it was God, God even in the very emergency and in my helplessness to meet it; and I rested in Him. It was an experience that I would not have missed for worlds; and I may add also, that out of this stillness seemed to arise a power to deal with the emergency, that very soon brought it to a successful issue. I learned then effectually that my "strength was to sit still." -Hannah Whitall Smith.

There is a perfect passivity which is not indolence. It is a living stillness born of trust. Quiet tension is not trust. It is simply compressed anxiety.

Not in the tumult of the rending storm,
Not in the earthquake or devouring flame;
But in the hush that could all fear transform,
The still, small whisper to the prophet came.

O Soul, keep silence on the mount of God,
Though cares and needs throb around thee like a sea;
From supplications and desires unshod,
Be still, and hear what God shall say to thee.

All fellowship hath interludes of rest,
New strength maturing in each poise of power;
The sweetest Alleluias of the blest
Are silent, for the space of half an hour.

O rest, in utter quietude of soul,
Abandon words, leave prayer and praise awhile;
Let thy whole being, hushed in His control,
Learn the full meaning of His voice and smile.

Not as an athlete wrestling for a crown,
Not taking Heaven by violence of will;
But with thy Father as a child sit down,
And know the bliss that follows His "Be Still!"
- Mary Rowles Jarvis.

From Paul:
Being still has been the only way to hear God's voice in my life.
When one can quiet down and just "be", instead of busy-busy-bee-doing, you are able to connect with God completely, and without the worries of hurries. Try it, and don't be in a hurry, around half an hour is a good amount of time to start with.

Grace and Peace.

Whose ‘Will’ will it be?

“Jesus, in John 15:2, reminds us that he prunes the fruitful branch so that it will bear even more fruit. But a branch that has been pruned feels, for a time, that it is anything but fruitful. How can we come to understand the difficult places of our Christian lives as places that will result in even greater impact and godliness in and through us.” From My friend Alan Fadling’s website…

The pruning never feels good. And neither does the surrendering of our will to His Will.

This is the forming, reforming, conforming, and transforming of us into the image and likeness of Christ.

I’ve come to understand that the question of ‘Wills’ is at the heart of the problem of how we relate to God, and to the world.

My Will be done vs. Thy Will be done

Whose ‘Will’ will it be?

This question of wills, is also the question of pride and surrender, the pride in ourselves and our accomplishments and work, and the surrender of our right of being first, of our placement of ourselves before God, and our will instead of God’s will.

This question of ‘wills’ is the question of who’s on the throne of our lives, and the question of the surrender of the hidden places of our heart, especially like Pride.

And as a young and growing Christian, the question of wills, self, pride, etc.; these are the issues that young Christians need to ‘work out their salvation’ with, and crucify their own self desires, and pride, to allow God’s character to shine through them. Each successive layered removal of dingy self importance and prominence reveals the pristine light of God shining out from within. It reveals the dearly loved Child of God cohabitating with the Spirit shining out from within.

And as we mature in Christ, it is not the pride of self that presents itself to the world, but the Spirit that shines through us. This presentation of Christ in Us no longer becomes an “I”, but a “We”. The word “I”, no longer has the attitude of pride, because it represents a person wholly in intimate and constant communion with God, - that is, - representing God, more than yourself. Pride of self has stepped out of the way to let God shine through.

This little story about the Desert Fathers reminds me of this process of letting God shine through us:

An old monk lived in the desert. He was known as Abba Lot. One day he went to see another respected spiritual father called Abba Joseph, to ask for spiritual guidance. He said: "Abba, as far as I can, I say my little prayer office, I fast a little, I pray and meditate. I live in peace, and as far as I can, I purify my thoughts. What more can I do?"

Abba Joseph stood up, and stretched his hands towards heaven. His fingers became like ten lamps, blazing with fire.

Then he said to Abba Lot: "If you really will, you can become all flame!"

+ + + + + + +


I like this perspective of wills. To me this feeds into the whole point of Creation and of Redemption-- that is, Relationship.

When I pray "Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven", integrity demands I take on His will, crucifying every desire of
the flesh. *smile*

This sounds scary to a new Christian. What happens, in fact, is similar to Michelangelo's carving. The extraneous dross is subject to the chisel, and the self in every original God given quality emerges.

Conformance to His will is too often confused with conformance to a church or a pastor or even a pre-existing idea of Christ; however, God desires our eyes become trained on His countenance until we become like Him. Notice how the eyes of a baby seek the face of the parent.

Enoch did that.



The Unforced Rhythms of Grace

The Unforced Rhythms of Grace

Jesus speaks here about unresponsive people, and then about those who are tired of complications and religious-ness, come and hear his heart, mind, and words…

From The Message 1
Next Jesus let fly on the cities where he had worked the hardest but whose people had responded the least, shrugging their shoulders and going their own way.
“Doom to you, Chorazin! Doom, Bethsaida! If Tyre and Sidon had seen half of the powerful miracles you have seen, they would have been on their knees in a minute. At Judgment Day they’ll get off easy compared to you. And Capernaum! With all your peacock strutting, you are going to end up in the abyss. If the people of Sodom had had your chances, the city would still be around. At Judgment Day they’ll get off easy compared to you.”

Abruptly Jesus broke into prayer: “Thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth. You’ve concealed your ways from sophisticates and know-it-alls, but spelled them out clearly to ordinary people. Yes, Father, that’s the way you like to work.”

Jesus resumed talking to the people, but now tenderly. “The Father has given me all these things to do and say. This is a unique Father-Son operation, coming out of Father and Son intimacies and knowledge. No one knows the Son the way the Father does, nor the Father the way the Son does. But I’m not keeping it to myself; I’m ready to go over it line by line with anyone willing to listen.

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:20-30

Sometimes, we as creative people in the Christian Faith, get subtly, or even not so subtly sidelined by the congregations that we attend. Or sometimes even just get asked to DO things for our Churches, they think that we should be just overjoyed at being given the chance to be a part of the church, and give what they think may take a couple of hours, but in reality, may take almost a weeks worth of our time and thoughts.

Their mindset is often that we would regard it as a privilege to be used by the Church, to help the Church. And all this for the momentary usage of our works, then they are pretty much discarded, and also for the momentary chance to belong to the club of our church, and for once, be accepted, but only because they actually found a “use” for us, and our work. This isn’t so much of a rant, as much as a reality that we must learn to deal with.

But thankfully, and MUCH more importantly, Jesus asks us to come to him simply to BE with Him, and to come with all that we are, and all that we carry around as different types of baggage.

Jesus asks us to find, in completely unforced and graceful ways, how to come and dance with him. How to come and find his paths, and walk together in the cool of the day, enjoying each others’ company, laughing and just having a great time together. Jesus doesn’t ask you to bring your paints and music charts and carving tools and word processors. He just asks you to come.

He just asks you to come and follow him,
- and he will give you rest.

He would like us to find the unforced rhythms of heaven’s graces, and enfold them into our lives, seeking to continuously and spontaneously be with him and enjoy the presence of God in our every moment of consciousness. This is about a relationship, not a duty or a supposed obligation.

Pray that the Spirit would show you what He wants to show you, and then go ahead and re-read the Matthew passage again, maybe a few times, and underline the phrases that stick out to you, and then write two or three of them below.

1 _______________________________________________________________________________________________

2 _______________________________________________________________________________________________

3 _______________________________________________________________________________________________

Dwell on these thoughts for a few moments…

Do these thoughts have any implications for your life?
- for your life in relationship with God?

Spend some time now speaking with God, and talking to Him about it means to you to walk together with Him. Honestly tell Him what He means to you, and where you would like to be with Him.

Again, go back to the passage, and write down the promises that God tells you about walking together with Him….

Where does this take you?

What new and fresh life patterns and rhythms of grace do you sense God leading you to enter into?

What might be new passions for me to develop?

Pray and ask for God’s help in accomplishing these changes in your life’s relationship with God.

1 Peterson, Eugene H., The Message, (Colorado Springs: NavPress Publishing Group) 1997.

How to think about alone time w/ God - Structured Time vs. Unstructured Time

Greetings in the Name of Jesus

Early on in my attempts to spend daily time with God, in solitude, silence, prayer, reading the Word, and Meditation, I struggled so much with simply finding the time to do so. Being a freelance Photographer, my schedule would change every day, and I could never seem to get God on my dayplanner's time schedule. I actually had made a commitment, with a group of other men and women at my church, to do this, AND, my Pastor was writing daily studies to go through.

I had the encouragement and prayers of others, I had something to do with God to spend time with Him, and I watched as others were indeed having this daily time, and were growing from it. I couldn't figure out why it was that I couldn't have this time with God.

I had the desire to do so.
I had the method and content to study and build up my relationship with God.
I had the encouragement from the (saints) around me.
I had time available in my schedule, even if I couldn't seem to find the time...
And, I was Single, with no Family or marriage responsibilites...

So what was the deal?

Earlier in my life, when I worked in a Photo Lab, everyday, I was able to get to work earlier than needed, go in my darkroom, close the door, and have time with God. (Then, the issue wasn't the time, but WHAT to study, and actually do with the time...?) Which I have now mastered... mostly,...

So, I compared the two settings in my life: the Structured Time of a regular houred job, and the completely Unstructured Time of the Freelance life.

My realization and solution to the problem, was that of imposing structure into the unstructured time schedule.

In order to have time alone with God, I would prepare for it, and schedule it in my brain, the previous day...

Somewhere in my day, I would review my schedule for tomorrow, and assess my start time and location, figure in my travel, equipment loading, shower and breakfast, then add 45 minutes for quiet time, and figure out what time I had to get up, to leave that hole in my schedule for God and me... This would tell me also what time I had to go to bed that night, so that tomorrow morning, I would not be so tired to want to hit the snooze button, and lose my time alone with God.

That system worked out quite well for several years, until I got Married, and have a little boy here around the house with me, as Mom goes to work, and I play dad/mom at home when I'm not working...

It's quite different now, with a wife who wants her snuggle time, and a baby who wants attention...

Now the strategy is changing, and I don't yet have the really good strategy yet, but is is developing.

But another strategy for being alone with God that has worked extremely well for me was having a place to go to for this time with God.
We lived in a Condo, and on the front of the house, we had a low wall, 6 feet from the front window, that stretched across the front, to the entry.
With large Plants growing there, for a screen, I built a very small deck, between the house and this low wall. This proved to be THE perfect size and place for me to have time alone with God, out of the house, listening and watching the birds and creatures, and watching the sky above.

It was a great place to listen for God's leading in my Life, and this intimate space helped grow my relationship with God immensely.
I liked the space, and sometimes had the time and inclination, that I would spend four or six hours out there with God, reading, praying, and listening for His voice. It was where God asked me to be a Pastor to Artists and Creatives.

If you have some level of control over your environment, I highly recommend making a personal space to spend time with God.

Maybe these thoughts can help you, or another person...

Only by His Marvelous Grace,
Paul Kiler
Art as Servant Ministries
1 Cor 3:5

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