Friday, July 31, 2009


One can look at sin from two and relational.

The legal side is descriptive. It's clear and concise...injunctions are laid out, lists are made, prohibitions are clear and these are found easily within the pages of scripture in both old and new testaments. The Law and the prophets lay out sin and its consequences. From this clarity we see justice, wholeness, purity, perfection, godliness, the ideal, holiness, eternality, glory, light. From these passages we see the image of life as it should be.

The relational side is the spirit behind the law. We see that the clarity of showing sin among us, between us and in has to do with relationships. Sin separates people relationally. There is a side of this that envelops the ideas presented in the NT that have to do with love. Connecting sin to love in phrases like... "That isn't very loving" becomes a relational compass that awakens one to the reality that what they are doing, even if it isn't clearly described somewhere is hurting someone or something and that means you are not loving them. That becomes sin. If one isn't truly walking in faith...for them, and that is the language the bible sin.

These two sides are one.

Learning to live in love and for the glory of God is a process. It requires learning about the holiness of God and coming to the realization of ones own fallenness. Which brings despair and hope. It involves one despairing of self and seeking the hope given by God, through God and is Jesus Christ. We turn from self and embrace the Son; who becomes for us, salvation, healing, restoration, glorification, life and light. We are born in and through this and from this we grow. And a new life lived in and by the Spirit is entered and we learn to follow the nuances for this relational life.

Sin is both the legal truth and the relational tensions.

Sin crucified the son of's a serious issue. One we must wrestle with, understand, flee, confess, fear, reject and seek freedom from. But it's also a dissonance that should lead us to tune the dial until the music of heaven comes in clearer. An ugly sound within and evidence of a out of tune life. Learning the notes of living...involves this issue of sin. But playing the music is the goal.

Some people who are born legalists or were raised with just light about the demands of holiness and not the remedy and beauty of it....always want to define things. Because they are consumed with being "right" and "good" and love is usually connected to these words to them.

Defining sin is often the evidence of a heart that is still maybe only seeing sin from one side of the coin.

Without the relational side...the legal side is exactingly objective.
With only the relational side of the coin...sin is merely subjective.

We need both sides....but the life of the Spirit...goes beyond these one grows in love.

Soon the definitions becomes irrelevant because the life within, the knowledge of our Father, and the voice of the Holy Spirit and the renewed and reclaimed heart and in tempo, even with the presence of sin. Sin becomes the fascination and preoccupation of those who have only learned a life of turning from things...instead of the life of turning towards something...or better, Someone.

Turning from often the tale tell sign of the preoccupation of a Christ-less religion.

Law is a picture of a child reaching out his or her hand...and their Father not reaching back.
Grace is a Father reaching out His hand...and embracing the child's hand.

What picture one sees....will determine the quality and enjoyment of the faith journey.

"Those of us who were brought up as Christians and have lost our faith have retained the sense of sin without the saving belief in redemption. This poisons our thought and so paralyses us in action." -Cyril Connolly

"It takes the same grace of God to save the most respectable person in the world as (it does) the most lawless person in the world" (Martin Lloyd-Jones, Spiritual Depression).

"Sin is whatever obscures the soul."
Gide, Andre

"He that falls into sin is a man; that grieves at it, is a saint; that boasteth of it, is a devil."

"God has reserved the time of full cleansing of his people, for another world. Christ could cleanse His people presently from all their spots if He desired. Surely, this is the case. But because they are to live in this world for now, Christ sees that it would not benefit them to be wholly cleansed from sin now and live in a sinful world. This world is not worthy of the saints. Even if you consider them with all their infirmities, still, the world is not worthy of them. Yet it is not for the world to have the saints live here without their spots. If the world is offended that Christians have their spots. then let them be offended. Let Christians be stumbling-blocks to them. It is without a doubt, that many saints are stumbling blocks to many souls. The world, they rejoice when they see the sins that are in the saints" -Jeremiah Burroughs Spots of the Godly and of the Wicked

"What then is it in the soul which causes it to take more pleasure in things which it loves when they are found and recovered than if it has always had them" (Augustine Confessions Bk. VIII Pg. 137)

Love, and do what you like.
Saint Augustine

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Hill and Wood....

The lyrics in this song, grasp the reality of so much of what I have tried to articulate, embody and envision. It was so good to hear someone sing my song....

I've met these folks.....

Show me what I'm looking Carolina Liar

Wait, I'm wrong
Should have done better than this
Please, I'll be strong
I'm finding it hard to resist
So show me what I'm looking for

Save me, I'm lost
Oh lord, I've been waiting for you
I'll pay any cost
Save me from being confused
Show me what I'm looking for
Show me what I'm looking for…oh lord

Don't let go
I've wanted this far too long
Mistakes become regrets
I've learned to love abuse
Please show me what I'm looking for

Save me, I'm lost
Oh lord, I've been waiting for you
I'll pay any cost
Save me from being confused
Show me what I'm looking for
Show me what I'm looking for…oh lord
Show me what I'm looking for

Save me, I'm lost
Oh lord, I've been waiting for you
I'll pay any cost
Just save me from being confused

Wait, I'm wrong
I can't do better than this
I'll pay any cost
Save me from being confused
Show me what I'm looking for…oh lord

The lyrical form...lifted from Mockingbird

The Dusk of Shame

I did this piece as a reflection on the journey out of shame. All true
restoration is a mix of shadow and light. We are more than our
brokeness but our deepest hope is wed to it in a redemptive paradox.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

What is the ideal "Christian" woman....?

I included in my last post a link to a ministry that is connected with Sovereign Grace Ministries they hold the same views as people like Mark Driscoll and the Mars Hill movement. They represent a very virile group of mission minded people, biblically conservative and generally culturally liberal...but these issues seem to bring out their more hard fundamentalist edge.

I and many I pastor and journey with...don't fit to well in these one-size fits all man/woman role perimeters. The language, the look, the perspective, the theological bent, the Complementarianism view of man over women, the "stay at home with the babies only" message...all start to feel very culturally isolated. It sometimes feels like modern folks trying to be Little House on the Prairie. Not that I dont think the values represented aren't often godly...but it always seems to be a way of living that is more comfortable for people who live white, pink and pastel lives. I'm not sure how to translate these ideas, to a people who don't speak that language or have those life experiences. I wrestle with the message itself...if it is even a fair representation of the ONLY way to live out modesty, family and holistic sexuality.

On the 'Girls Talk' site, they give this definition for modesty/propriety:
"The avoidance of clothing and adornment that is extravagant, showy, and sexually enticing.”

The actual dictionary definition is more broad and less narrow:

Modesty: freedom from vanity or conceit

Propriety: correct or appropriate behavior

I see a lot more room to outwork these words in the actual definition. The one they offer, seems to play into the way they see womanhood. Not that I oppose anyone who desires to model or follow that vision. You are free to do so...but isnt there room for creative and moral freedom in those words...maybe an alternative expression of modesty, that would be attainable to the woman represented in the first picture of my previous post?

I think there's a danger in people swinging to far away from their old lifestyles when they come to faith. They imagine that "the opposite" of all they did or the answer for living this new life. It's easy to latch onto legalism or moralism to try to self-clean or self-sanctify....we try to become something different through radical lifestyle changes. We go STRAIGHT-EDGE not as a expression of some true change within but in order to show we are serious about being different. In the might be sad to discover that everything you did to be "moral, good, different, traditional or even biblical...was really vanity. So in the very act of trying to be betrayed the very spirit of modesty.

It was the failure of the Jewish leaders that Jesus sought to enlighten...and it is often the failure of moral based religious zealotry.

Many times it can become an act of sowing fig leaves to cover our shame...instead of trusting in the blood of God's ultimate sacrifice.

We find ourselves back in Eden...naked and...and still ashamed.

Painting is "Minerva" by Rodin

Put your clothes on....or take them off?

"To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God's law but am under Christ's law), so as to win those not having the law." -Paul (1 Corinthians 9:20-21)

We have to think missionally, as we engage the issues of modesty, propriety, sexuality, sensuality, nakedness vs nudity within our current culture. We have to take into account social norms, traditions, background, religious tradition or formation in thinking, art in all its forms and the impact of those mediums in forming opinion, perspective and experience. The people I am seeking to reach are born into a culture that will powerfully imprint it's pattern on the soul, psyche, thinking, appetites and perceptions of all these topics.

If we sat at a table with a woman from Tanzania, France, Iran, Texas, Seattle, Ukraine, Australia and South Korea...and talked about universal rules for modesty and sensuality; you could imagine the very complex conversation we would have. If a principle isn't applicable for all people, for all time, in every place...I think we need to be careful what we establish as gospel truth or religious law. And if our understandings of these topics are either corrupted or constrained by the "universality" principle...than that needs to be addressed as well.

You just can't lay one rule down for everyone...some people or cultures might need to put clothes on and some might need to take them off. The need of the heart and soul and the leading of the Spirit; is central, to the proper formation and shaping of Christ in people and cultures. Like Paul, I am free to say to one circumcised for the sake of mission; and to another don't do it because it would be a devaluing of Christ's work.

Context...not situational ethics in the broad sense but Spirit led application of scriptural truth for the moment.

I know some women who need deliverance from a misapplication of modesty and cultural constraints. Their womanhood, beauty and freedom have been submerged and the glory of God is dimmed. Now that's not a endorsement of burning bra's etc...its an honest pastoral evaluation of seeing a form of bondage that eclipses women behind issues, other people's hang-ups and legalism or cultural morality...instead of the new creation in Christ.

I know other women who have no sense of Spirit guided and scripturally formed modesty. Their underwear is never under what they wear....You can here "Thar She Blows!!!!"...everytime they bend over, because the "Whale-Tail" made by her thong. Breasts are almost falling out of their blouses, nipples are poking through clothing thin enough to look through. Swimming with your kids with some women these days is like a 9th grade biology class minus the condom discussion.
It's a chaotic mess of realities colliding all around us. Redeemed men and women are in desperate need for discipleship in transformation of inner lives and for liberation from deadening religious "side hug" rules. The extremely challenging thing about all of this is...we are all thrown into this process together as a church.

Our religious world is a melting pot of backgrounds...we are not just "Jews" and "Gentiles" now...and the crazy multiplicity of views, backgrounds, beliefs, ideals, phobias, fears, sensitivities and judgments are sometimes...overwhelming.

Helping men and women discover godly beauty, to revel in the mystery and holiness of marital bliss is a high mountain to climb these days. Nudity has devalued nakedness and the fruit has been eaten from the tree. But even still there is a path towards the tree of life in these subjects. True sexual freedom is found in God not the gutter. True womanhood is a godly fruit of holiness not bought off a shelf or rack. Inner beauty is not at the exclusion of outer beauty in faith...its the illuminating glory of the body. Modest is hottest...and learning the secret of that truth will enhance the glory of God in us...not extinguish it.

Helping one another move from uncreated in Christ in both mind and heart and body; towards a human life being transformed from the inside out in these a process. I think websites and ministries like GirlTalk will help some women at certain places in their lives and for others they would hurt their growth. I think tools like this (Modesty Heart Check) can help a woman or man examine themselves and check their hearts but I also think they could bind.

In the end, I seek to help people discover and apply the restorative and liberating message of the gospel and work of the Spirit. A path that requires bold adherence to liberty and new creation truth not the curse or the fall and not the work of the law. This journey will produce repentance, restoration, transformation and freedom. Not banality, prudishness, subservience, dominance, authoritarianism, exploitation...not legalism or antinomianism.

It's not an easy endeavor....but it's worth the risks involved.

"For the glory of God is man...fully alive." -St. Ireanus

Clothed....or unclothed.

Picture by Gavin HargestAll rights reserved.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Summers bliss

Good Naked....Bad Naked.

My thoughts on "Resurrecting Eve", have been spoken of as a post concerning: Boobs. If that is all someone came away with, you missed my point. The discussion was intended to address the complexities of "good naked and bad naked" to use a Seinfeld phrase. I believe that nudity is appropriate in art. I think there is a difference between pornography and the representation of the human nude figure. I also am aware of the dangers, bondage and addictions that are part of human experience relating to sexuality. But I make it a habit to never govern my life by the failures of others to maintain proper relationship with whatever it is that they have overindulged it food, sex, money, ego, fame, religion or intellectual achievement.

Work is good...a workaholic is bad.
Sex is good...prostitution is bad.
Having money to cover life's expenses is good...gambling your paycheck away is bad.
Cheese cake is good....eating the whole pie is bad.

Using anyones discussions on fine art to fuel or excuse your addiction to porn is a sad excuse for maturity. I am aware that these discussions are generally for responsible, intelligent, moral adults; who are engaged in cultural engagement, mission minded, artistic reclamation. A issue for those who are passionate about restoring a beauty aesthetic to our communities through celebration, involvement and defense of the fine arts. "As part of that mission manifesto one must understand that in the artist tradition; the human figure is seen as the linchpin of ones practice of visual knowledge. If you can accurately and expressively draw or paint or sculpt the human form you can draw anything....You can only draw what you can see, and that which you cannot see cannot be fully known."

An example of the issue would be the picture of David by Michelangelo. A strict Fundamentalist would look at that statue; which is considered a masterpiece of Renaissance sculpture...and only see a penis. The focal point of the statue for some people's minds would be the nudity of David. Everything else would be forgotten or be secondary to the issue most offensive...a uncircumcised genitalia. Forget the massive height, the masterful proportions, the exquisite form and movement, the posture and the meaning of it all. It would be reduced to the crotch of the statue. This mindset is what I was aiming at wrestling with in the previous post.

The figure, i.e. the nude figure (and I do not mean nudity in the political sense for which so many arguments have been waged concerning censorship), is a soulful being, created we are told in the image of God and imbued with the stretch and celebration of dance, the gravity and reflection of thought, the expression and imagination of spirit. To see the figure in this light is to honor, not to worship it. We come to draw the figure with eyes focused to study, not to lust. We revel in our lines, smudges, colors, clay forms, to render the poetry of all that is human, not to debase it as the pornographer's butcher shop. In fact, we rebel in our prints, pictures, and sculpture against the newsstand rags, which pervert the man or woman that was made with a temple in mind. If as Christians and artists we seek to elevate the nude figure as a metaphor for what it means to truly be alive at a certain time, in a certain place, then we have accomplished a great deal. If, however, we reduce ourselves to the naked body, we are relegated to being the makers of empty vessels without full transcendence, and therefore merely a cold and shivering heap of parts. -"On The Nude in Art" By James Zingarelli, Art Chair, Sculpture and Drawing Instructor, Gordon College (a Christian institution)

"In every block of marble I see a statue as plain as though it stood before me, shaped and perfect in attitude and action. I have only to hew away the rough walls that imprison the lovely apparition to reveal it to the other eyes as mine see it."

Drops Like Stars....

I just finished reading Rob Bell’s new book “Drops Like Stars”....I started it 15 minutes ago. Nah, just kidding...kinda. I’ve been a side hug fan of Rob Bell for awhile. I’ve read “Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith” and “Jesus Wants to Save Christians: A Manifesto for the Church in Exile” but not “Sex God: Exploring the Endless Connections between Sexuality and Spirituality” because I didn’t have a paper bag to bring it home in.

In general, I’ve enjoyed his fresh thoughts, contemporary perspective and hipster familiarity with pop culture and the earthy wisdom of the eastern yarmulke scribes. Rob was born August 23, 1970; I was hatched August 28, we are nearly brothers, or at least we seem to see and speak a similar language.

I was looking forward to reading his new book and getting a chance to look at it, since it was famed to be a “artistic coffee-book”....which means, big pages, words and pictures and it turns out a bit pricey (between $20-35, depending on who, where and how you purchase it).

My first impression from looking at the outside was, hopeful; creative, aesthetically pleasing, well crafted. But once I looked inside...I was dissapointed. In fact, I began to be overtaken with slight angst.

First of all...a lot of the pictures seemed shot in a 1970’s World Book style; boring, dated, a slight amateur feel....kind of like a commercial advertising agency would put out. A few pictures were creative but in general nothing really stood out; except the extremely large shot of Michelangelo’s: “David”. looked like the printer was having a special on, (I imagine) expensive, hard wood forest tree paper from the equatorial endangered they could print a few words per page and actually not print any words on many. I guess the profits from his last book, which hit the “Justice Button” quite a bit...missed the memo about conservation, consumption and environmental responsibility. I could build a house for a small rural farmer in Tibet with the empty, wing size pages in the back of this tomb. It just seemed to be a waste.

Third...the writing style and the format of the book; feels like a Christian version of Dr. Seuss to me. It’s simple, slightly rhythmic and only puts a few words on each page. I like my Green Eggs and Ham..but I like my theology and artistic missiology to be engaging on a more challenging level. This book’s tone at times felt saccharine, timid, light of that...reach for his other books first.

I knew I was in trouble when halfway through the book...I seriously thought about taking it back for a refund. But, I knew I would be done reading it in another 7.5 I continued...and I thought I might read it in the bathroom; and all good Seinfeld watchers know that you can’t return it after I kept it.

In the end, I was uninspired.

As an artist...that disappointed me. In fact you can save your money and the forests and read this interview ( with Rob’s far more engaging and insightful than the book.

But if you are looking for a book to put coffee on...this will make a nice addition...but it unfortunately, it has no fold out legs.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

At the lake....

We enjoyed a couple days up at Diamond lake. On Tuesday, while LeeElla was at work, I took the kids and some of their friends up to enjoy the water. She came up after work and we all enjoyed an evening of fishing, games, swimming and hiking. Everyone got some toasty sunburns even though I entreated them to use got to learn their own way I guess.
Austin, enjoying the sun and tubes.
I never stopped pastoring youth group is just mostly my kids friends these days...and there is a lot of them. I enjoy teens, hanging out, being silly and just being there for them. We got a great group of young people that call our home ground zero for a lot of activity.

Resurrecting Eve....

This is a picture I took on one of my most favorite local, non-corporeal nudes in Spokane. She resides in a little flower garden at St' Luke's Rehab...I guess the founders felt that the David's similar natural health remedies might assist in the recovery of their patients too.

Many statues portray one breast exposed which usually has a particular meaning. Justice statues have breasts exposed. Women warriors, particularly the Amazons, are often depicted with a left breast exposed because its said that they removed the right breast for better javelin throwing and bow use.

Americans are steeped in boobie phobia. I can't tell you how many conversations get all heated over the issue of nudity. You can barely breast feed a kid these days without someone freaking out. The issues are rooted in women and their body hate, the cultural devaluing of motherhood and family, the plague of porn, the loss of the non-dualistic sacredness and holiness of the body, Gnosticism, our fundamentalist Christian heritage and many other sociological or phycological issues or hang ups.

The discussions get interesting when you dare to weave theology and morality with artistic philosophy, culture and tradition bias. Of course our sex soaked culture is to blame for the knee jerk reactions and close minded fundamentalism that surrounds the issues too. Women and men are to blame for feeding the fire through a thousand means. They often cement the poisonous stereotypes and rabid infatuation by grandstanding the issues:The challenge is to be faithful to the scriptures guidance on proper morality and healthy sexuality without becoming puritanical and hyper paranoid, which can lead to legalism of the most ridiculous kind. I recently talked to a bro who was raised with the strict no male swimming without pants prohibition. Mixed bathing was considered the heights of hedonism of many generations not to long ago. I cut my pastoral teeth in a denomination whose camp potty police would spin countless stringent rules and regulations in order to prevent the pubescents from copulating....which had to be because of those devilish bikini tops. Of course we were all saved from the hormones when some heavenly designer introduced the Tankini...ah, but I digress. Religious hounds have been covering table legs with skirts because the legs were too sexy since early America...that will make you look at your table differently wont it? Boobie love seems to be inherent in the genes of man...if a wife had a dollar for know what I am going to say without even finishing the sentence don't you? Mammary madness is here to we handle it is the critical issue.

I'm not sure the church has really found a healthy way of presenting the human fascination and desire for the body. Many have been prisoners of their own lusts and legitimate longings and have not been been taught how to differentiate between the two. Religion starts to sound a lot like sadistic prudishness, if you listen to all the lingo, self hatred and confusion that exists in Christian conversations. If you stand up for the get labeled as a sexual deviant artist.

I'm not convinced that the common path of how we have promoted purity has been that successful in American churches. The load of sexual dysfunction, promiscuity, bondage and marital sexual dissatisfaction is astounding. People are possessed by a host of personal demons in regards to living with and handling their sexuality.
Don't touch, Don't look and don't think...and get someone to regularly ask you if you have, and read your bible and the typical prescription for purity. In general, in my experience...this has been inadequate, alone. I didn't say it's wrong but I think these approaches are incomplete without a general understanding of solid gospel truth and a wholistic biblical worldview when it comes to understanding sexuality, the body, worship and beauty. We have a lot of work to do.

I think artists can help rescue the body from the clutches of the profiteers, pimps and potty police. I think there needs to be balanced and beautiful representations of the tantalizing, godly modesty and unfettered delight in the God created glory of womanhood and manhood. It's not an easy path...but the horrid expressions and suppressions all around us beckon for a new renaissance of bold but sanctified artists; who can resurrect Eve...while burying Delilah."The body is not for fornication but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body." -1 Corinthians 6:13

The Praise of Night

Friday, July 24, 2009

Love and Loathing....

I have no desire to rip on any artist that is producing...but I was in a personal conundrum as I viewed these works at the Rocket Bakery on Main. I rarely say "well a kid could do that"; simply because I know how hard it usually is to actually do THAT...whatever "THAT" is. And in fact, most people probably could "DO THAT" but what separates them from real that the artist "DID DO THAT"...and where most people just sit on their excuses and distractions and never really do anything. But these pieces almost made me angry....on one level...and made me hopeful on another...sometimes the trick is just getting out there and showing, doing and engaging the world of art in order to make doors open. Some people just have more guts...they expose themselves to the process and are not willing to allow the fear that is inherent to the process...stop them. I think its the artists that do not have chronic phobias that get known in life...and the ones that do have those hang-ups...get the notoriety after death. How we are wired can impact the eventual publicness of our work on so many levels. I admire this artist's accomplishments...even though I can't stand the work. So artist, whoever you are; don't hate me if I pick at least you are showing in a public pieces are still hiding in the garage or on a fridge somewhere.

Garden study....

Thursday, July 23, 2009

My son's new blog....

My eldest son, Christian has started blogging at

The hope of dance....

"Every teacher of religious law who has become a disciple in the Kingdom of Heaven is like a person who brings out of the storehouse the new teachings as well as the old." -Jesus (Matt. 13:52

Videos like this inspire me and give me hope for the generations ahead. This is an amazing time to be alive...creativity is bursting all around us. The old traditions are being re-imagined. A fresh wind is catching the tired sails of many ships. Resuscitation is taking place and there is cutting-edge technology to capture it as it unfolds. It's a new renaissance and the revolutionaries are mere people...not rock stars, high paid actors, fine air brushed mannequins or bimbo's...its' sidewalk theater at it's best. You can participate if you got the guts, passion, quirkiness or just sheer joy. You can sing off like you have a wooden spine and concrete feet, film your masterpiece from your garage or doesn't matter...just create.

The formal, constricting boundaries of tradition, formalism, religiosity, cultural constraints and norms are free to be broken and honored at the same time. Get married...but re-envision it if you so desire.

I have hope when dance is returning to a people.

I think this tv show is part of that renaissance.

"Don't give a man a sword...until He's learned to dance." -Old Scottish Proverb

(props to Mel for the facebook link)

The Crawdad Experience

What happens when you mix: teenage boys, the great lake hunters of the Inland NW, bologna and a dead fish carcass, a skittish teenage girl, rapping backup singers, a manly flesh eating boyfriend, a steel pot, butter and a video camera....well...this: The Crawdad Experience.

Let's go Adventuring....

This is Panhandle Lake, its a little spot of blue on the map and it was about 5 miles off in the wilds from where we were staying at Diamond Lake. I thought it would be good to grab the boys and go for a little exploring. I am always trying to find the better swimming since it was over 100 degrees out, what better time to look than when you really want to swim. Diamond lake is really nice but its not the cleanest towards most of its shores and I've been spoiled on Oregon mountain lakes and rivers with their crystal clear I am always searching. We found this lake, after accidentally traversing a bunch of logging roads, until I finally found the spot to park and hike into this lake. I found out its a private lake that some Baron owns...400 acres of private beauty. I loathe the rich land owners who take up all this prime nature for their own private use...but thats a soapbox I will preach from some other time. Nobody was at the two houses on the lake, so we snapped some pictures, hunt a bit for some frogs and hiked back down to our truck...since it was so hot and the water by the shore was marshy too.
I thought this shot caught the progressive ages of my boys...Christian, than Austin and then Micah and Kona weaving in and out. On the way into the Lake, I led...on the way out...I followed. I imagine theres a sermon in there somewhere, if I pick it at it.
We took Kona with us this weekend and of course she has to get in any puddle, pond, lake or river we ever come near and sure enough, in she jumped. She is crazy for swimming.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Cameras lie to me...

I just got back from a couple days at the lake and while I was there, I gathered pictures for potential paintings. Here are some images that caught the mood and feel of the experience from an artistic viewpoint:

I'm working at finding shots that I can capture that reflect the feeling of the moment, person or place. It's hard finding and capturing the colors, composition, angle and perspective of a conscious experience of something in a moment but I am working on it.

I enjoy using the camera for expression just as much as other art times it seems easier. Now I know that is amateur ramblings and all the pros will strangle me with higher wisdom but honestly at the moment I feel comfortable in my infancy as a photographer. I know that what comes out isn't necessarily always good art...but the process requires less of me than working with other mediums. It seems the odds of hitting the jackpot are more often, than with my other tools of expression. Example, I can capture a persons face and all the complexities of their persona, a million times better than anything I will draw or paint. So for me...a camera makes me feel like a better artist...most of the time...I know she is lying to me...but I still relish in her digital seductions.

Now I can't take pictures like this camera maestro; but I am still undaunted and a humble aspiring student.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Far Shore...

Instead of "Church Planting"...

This is my idea of church planting....tending what God is growing and planting seed in places least expected.

A child can water a flower.

A child can plant a seed.

God gives everything else.

Just plant, care and celebrate the glory of God in the beautiful mess. Using the words "church planting" in our local conversations, is something I plan on dropping for a more accurate word...a word, that I have not found yet. I kind of like "Missional Communities" as far as emphasizing mission and community...but I still don't feel like that defines what I sense inwardly. It's not the wording of the work that I see but can't quite formulate. Church planting in an area that already has THE CHURCH is a misnomer. When I read the verse below:

"How beautiful are your tents, O Jacob, your dwelling places, O Israel! "Like valleys they spread out, like gardens beside a river, like aloes planted by the Lord, like cedars beside the waters. Water will flow from their buckets; their seed will have abundant water. - -Numbers 24:5-9

I see more church activating...than church planting.

"Tents of Jacob" embodies the image of "work" or mission, or a gathering, or ministry. Setting up Tents within Spokane looks and sounds different than planting churches...and its less heady, intimidating or threatening to people or established congregations.

Here's an example: If I had a heart for the "Jail" I wouldn't be talking about planting a church there but starting a work. And even if there were Christians already engaged in jail ministry; I wouldnt think that I couldnt do anything there...because the workers are always few and the harvest is always ready. It's less about us and more about them. "Going" is the motivation not "staying".

If we look at these endeavors as "Missional Communities" or some other less structured phrase, that would allow for a "ministry in a jail, school, college or feeding program...we could free ourselves from the "baggage" and weight connected to the idea of planting churches and be liberated to dream and engage in mission. Lots of people are coloring pictures of Kingdom in this city. Just because someone painted a picture of the Falls...doesn't mean you can't paint the same falls. The tools to create are available to all...paint, draw, write your song, dance your dance, throw your pot, string your our eyes to the glory of God in the beautiful mess.

Jacob's Well people are living in Hillyard and the valley and other parts of Spokane...the church is planted...lets take seeds from her fruit and replant those in all kinds of places...with a conscious and focused vision and mission and a creative abandon that trusts more in God's power, love and saving grace than our limited resources, experience or faithfulness.

Erect a tent.
Spread out.
Plant a garden.
Break open the aloe.
Become a cedar.
Let water flow.
Plant a seed.

That is what I mean by engaging a neighborhood in mission and allowing vision to expand our hearts and eyes to the whole city.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Crazy On You....

This is classic got to listen to the screams at 3.00, 3.30, 3.45 and 4.00...good stuff baby!
It reminds me of this interview I read in Rollingstone with Kelly Clarkson when she was asked what she thought about new singers using the tech-voice enhancers such as "Auto-Tune". She said: "There are cool effects you can do with it, but when they just use it to correct pitch, that pisses me off, because it takes away the emotion. if it were perfect you might as well listen to a robot. You don't have the records anymore that are like Aretha or Janis. Even if it was off a little bit, it was great, because it sounded like they were aching."
It's one of the reasons I love Bob Dylan...many people dont like him because of his voice...yet, its his voice that I love. It's the beautiful mess of it...the raw and gravel like humbleness that smells of old leather and feels like rock under bare feet. I read this quote in the same Rollingstone: "After I first heard him, I got upset because I couldn't figure out what else there was left to say...I decided not to listen to him again or Id go home with my hat in my hand. So I threw out all my Dylan tapes in the Brazos river." -Billy joe Shaver.

To play without passion is inexcusable. -Beethoven

Not like...Nice White Lady...

I post this, in light of Sunday's sermon and the posts on church planting...this isn't what I mean, when I seek to inspire us towards the beautiful mess. We are not saviors...we are witnesses, who tell stories of a Savior. We do not have an "S" stitched into our undershirts. This video makes me laugh out loud.

Lifted from: Cho

The basis of mission...

“I was the enemy of God. I was stamping through God’s universe, shaking my fist in His face. And in the very moment when I was shaking my fist in God’s face and tramping through the Creator’s universe, muddying all His streams, that’s when Jesus died for me. And if this is when Jesus died for me, what hope it gives me now! Now, even when I fall, the blood of Jesus is enough. He didn’t save me because I was strong; He saved me when I was weak. He didn’t save me when I was a pretty thing; He saved me when I was a mess. On the basis of this reality, I can have comfort.” Francis Schaeffer, The Finished Work of Christ.

Get On Your Boots....

"How beautiful are your tents, O Jacob, your dwelling places, O Israel! "Like valleys they spread out, like gardens beside a river, like aloes planted by the Lord, like cedars beside the waters. Water will flow from their buckets; their seed will have abundant water. "Their king will be greater than Agag; their kingdom will be exalted. "God brought them out of Egypt; they have the strength of a wild ox. They devour hostile nations and break their bones in pieces; with their arrows they pierce them. Like a lion they crouch and lie down, like a lioness--who dares to rouse them? "May those who bless you be blessed and those who curse you be cursed!" -Numbers 24:5-9

This is the passage that the Spirit of the Lord spoke to me deeply from, concerning the unfolding journey of forming church planting, ie. missional communities, or as described above, simply: "Beautiful Tents".

I love the image of tents...simple, agile, flexible, sustainable, personal, unfettered and formed for journey. You can set up a tent in a fairly short time. Finding ways to embrace this image for the expanding work of mission and evangelism is going to be my work in the seasons ahead. Helping people embrace a fresh mentality that is based on function more than form is often tough in a day when people are generally bred to desire being "moved" instead of "mobilized"'s at the root of the Israelites idolatry that constantly longed to return to Egypt instead of take the land.

The "known" is always more comfortable than the "unknown" matter how slavish it was.

Spreading out tents in order to gather people together for worship and mission doesn't have to be an unnatural disconnect from our outliving of Kingdom in our day to day worlds. My desire is to find the rhythm found within the imagery of 'tents" that will connect proximity and localized presence with vision expanding, love motivated mission.

Believing that as the church militant; we can embrace our neighborhoods with compassion soaked, prayer awakened hearts and missional work boots and gloves.
There is a fine balance between being Mission minded and Ministry's tricky balancing the pastoral care of soul with apostolic reach of evangelism. Church planting is an act of spiritual birth. It's limited...a couple doesn't procreate like rabbits...we have a most cases, planned...and in many, not...but life happens. All living things reproduce...its the order of creation, both old and new.

Embracing and celebrating the atmosphere of the Fathers house. He loves sons and daughters...He is filling His home and we are blessed to respond to His Fatherly heart in the work of mission. To neglect it, to reject the command to expand, to refuse to go, to timidly refrain from sharing or boldly preaching or patiently to selfishly hoard His love. His love is water for parched soil, seed for untilled earth, kisses for aching hearts, bottles for tears, aloes and thread for open wounds...ressurection for the dead in and among us. The above scripture contains vivid and brutal language...and I believe the imagery of horned Ox, broken bones, flying arrows and roused indicative of the kind of spirit a missional community must spiritually embrace. It's a fire and a roar in it's belly. We are not aggressive in a abusive and dominating crusader like way....but inwardly and outwardly we embody a mission minded vision of the Glory of the Lord covering the Earth like the waters cover the sea. His fame is our aim...we are longing to see people love and worship and serve the Lord of the Nations...and the Shepherd of our communities....He is King of Kings...and the Lily of the Valley.

The Painting above was a "Vision & Values" statement this's a rally call to the Wild Goose within dream, envision, rise and let the Wind of God's Spirit scatter the seed of the gospel into the streets and sidewalks, taverns and back alleys, high rises and trailers....any place heart soil can be found....with one caveat: "Go for souls and go for the worst." -William Booth.

Jacob's Well: "A church with a Neighborhood mission and a City reaching vision."

Sunday, July 19, 2009

A beautiful rescue....

Isaiah's Story from 31Films on Vimeo.

This short testimony reveals the heart of God in a very beautiful way.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Spokane Gentleman's Society: Deep Creek Canyon Hike

We had a great time today (9am-12 noon) with 15 guys out for breakfast at the Kalico Kitchen and 11 went to hike Deep Creek Canyon. We saw a bald eagle and his nest, caught a painted turtle and a snake, saw a number of Great Blue Herons, hiked through some awesome geological formations and swam in the refreshing Spokane river. you can see pictures here:

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Thinking of Africa....

Originally uploaded by ARTeTǝTЯA.

"God places lonely people in families..." -Psalms 68:6

Prayers to Melissa, as she works out bringing her third adopted daughter home from Ethiopia.

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Alchemy of art....

"The painter should not paint merely what he sees in front of him, but also what he sees within him. If he sees nothing within him, however, then he should refrain from painting what he sees in front of him." -Casper David Friedrich

I love the spring and summer time, because I can spend more time out in my studio painting, reading, ruminating and envisioning how to bring out into the light, what I see in the dark. Words, Scriptures, themes, thoughts, feelings, longings and prayers are all part of the artistic summoning process. I realized that in the last month I've been able to hatch 5 pieces. This process is an illuminating one, it reveals just how long it takes someone to emerge into the role of artist . It takes a lifetime of becoming and its ever evolving. Skill develops, perspective and mood deepen and change, discoveries are made that shape the work or unlock creative's all very alchemy like.My studio becomes more than an alone often becomes holy ground...kind of like Jacob's ladder...a stone turns out to be the very gate of heaven. A natural space is a mix of angels descending and ascending...the old pagans called these places or moments..."Thin Spaces" where the eternal and the finite are close to each other. I would say they are not "spaces" but Divine revelations...moments when God not the "Muses" is actively expressing Himself in and through the artists. Creating a spot where these realities can take palce easier is critical for me. I need images, icons, sights, materials, canvases, paper, tools...all kinds of scraps of experiences, art, statues, paintings, words, quotes, books and pieces of nature that provide a type of sacramental environment. My art studio and work spaces facilitate this.

"I like to have pieces of fine handicraft around me - old violins, vases, wood carvings, silverware. And, when I am fed up with the wranglings of spellbinders, diplomats, and reformers, and when the preaching of the sectarians seem empty and childish, and when the clanging and clashing of strikes, lockouts and wars make my head ache, and when radio commentators commentate and announcers announce with too much zest, then I like to go among my treasures, and catch the quiet spirit of the artist who created them. What patience and loving care is reflected in these works. How far removed they seem from the sound and fury of the power-mad world......" Tony Won

Sometimes the process is one that seems inhabited, not in a spooky devilish way but in a supportive one. I feel lured, prompted, poked, stirred and wooed. Sometimes lighting strikes in a illuminating way that is like a rush of revelation...or it's a quiet process of coagulation of dismembered elements.

It's in these moments and in storytelling or preaching that I feel most alive...and it's also when I feel that at any moment..,I might slip away like Enoch...I was there...and then, I was not.


James Caviezel,Ron Perlman, Sophia Myles, Jack Huston
Outlander: Science fiction meets Aliens, Predator and the great Vikings of the North. Swords, Spaceships, dragons, carnage, good story, pretty good acting. It's not a kids film with an R rating for fantasy horror (ie. tense, scary stalking monster in the dark stuff), Braveheartish 'thunk and chunk' splattering sword play, Dragon with all the 'crunch and munch' eating habits and a couple curse words....but no boobies, if thats your line.

The actors were great, some old faves of mine (Ron Pealman in viking face paint and hammer wielding glory!) and now some new faves, particularly the beautiful red headed, Sophia Pierre and the dashing Jack Huston, who should play the lead role of Thor in the new upcoming rendition of that Marvel character. The monster was great and in a few spots particularly horrific, it's been awhile since I've relished a good beastie in film. I really enjoyed the movie, minus a few weak spots: the uncreative almost rub on looking celtic tattoos, come on! paint up those barbarians. A few too many wide eyed shots of Sophia looking surprised; a pretty face even looks goofy shot that way; and the Catholic priest's character was weak, I was hoping that with Jim in the film we might have a good Christian character, he had kahunas, but thats it. Other than that...I loved it. I also thought the Viking hall with the tree inside was a great set. For some reason it made me think of this movie...I will have to go rent that and show it to my kids.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

City of Blood....

"Woe to the city of blood, full of lies, full of plunder, never without victims!"
-Nahum 3:1

The ancient Assyrians were known for their brutal, psychological warfare...heaping the heads or bodies of their enemies into pyramids in front of their defeated foes cities. Caging one king with a dog collar into a constructed kennel in front of one conquered city's gate. Impaling defeated warriors on stakes, skinning fallen soldiers and lining their city walls with their epidermis. Deporting whole classes of people to other countries and resettling the lands with foreigners; uprooting, severing and erasing history, culture and sense of place. These warmongers were supreme in their craft of violence, masters of blade, spear, chariot and horse...they ruled with a bloody fist.

And God had compassion on them and called Jonah to go preach to them...and those manhunters...repented and God relented of His coming judgment for another generation.
I thought of this story as I reflected on a recent murder that took place a block from our church and two blocks from our home. This picture above is the memorial placed on the sidewalk where a man had a knife stuck in his throat in an argument with a woman.

I thought about Jonah, who chose to flee from the call to enter the "Bloody City" and instead bought a ticket to a far off Mediterranean port. I wrestled with the call to go to the barbarians and live among them...the fear, threat, danger and psychological challenge that is presented in living on sidewalks where blood is spilled. Do we flee or stand? I understand Jonah's trepidation and the wrestle with the implications of such a call. Until you are faced with such realities...the cost is simply theoretical. In these moments Mission must be birthed out of Divine Compassion and a clear sending mandate...or the seaports siren call...will overpower your sense of "doing something good" for the community.

Starting a movement...

It takes one to get the ball rolling...but its really person number 2 or 3 that catch it and make it happen. It amazes me how many people will jump on the train once its moving but how few there are that will push it out of the station. True leaders hear and see what possibly no one else does at the moment but they need the brave souls that will join the dance. Becoming catalysts is an awkward thing at times. It can feel crazy, lonely, goofy and sometimes the ridicule of those almost unbearable. But then something tips. Someone else begins to believe...they join the rhythm and music starts happening like fusion. The screams and shouts when all things are rocking and shaking are great and all but Lord give me the ones that can step up when everyone else is in the stands. They are the people that can change history.

Clearing the air...

“Without prayer, the constant traffic and opinions of people around us will swamp our inner lives and finally drown them.”- Johann Christoph Arnold, pastor and author

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Ravished by Romanticism....

This is "The Sea of Ice" by Casper David Friedrich, I saw this in person in the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam Holland. I remember the immediate impact it had on was about like seeing a woman nude for the first time. I was stunned by it's beauty and mystery. It's a medium size painting at about 3x4 but the immensity of its impact had me enthralled. I was already in a art ecstasy being surrounded by Van Gogh originals...and when I saw Friedrich's work, it sent me over the edge. It's amazing when you discover an artist that speaks the language of your soul...they become life long friends in an instant. As I continue to discover the language and truth behind Impressionism and's like hearing the voice of God. It's a resonance on a level that can only be felt. You step into a harmony that is as revitalizing as mountain air, flowing stream or lover's kiss. Finding people who you understand and understand you is a gift.

Too many people never discover tribes, sages, bards, voices, magicians, partners, icons or a god that presents a way, a truth and a life; that envelopes them and provides for them deeply liberating space to live and move and have their being.

Being known and truly knowing is a hunger and cry that is found at the deepest fissures of the human heart. It's the sacred root of what it means to Know God or be known by Him. To "know" is the phrase that the ancient biblical scribes and poets used to describe the bliss of sexual union.

It's the craving of every created being to return to it's Creator and to share in oneness with others because it's the image from which we were drawn from. It's our primordial palate. We yearn to be brought back to it's womblike generative power and comfort...because in it...we can be born again and again and again. New life springs from it's loins.

When one discovers this must do everything within your power to gain it...As a desperate romantic would plead, Jesus said: "Sever limb or gouge eye...sell all...leave all...hate order to gain it."

Your life depends on it...or at least a life worth living.

I read this fromsome art history site and saw myself in the words:

"Romanticism in art, as in literature, followed the pendulum swing away from the optimistic Enlightenment idea of human dominion over nature and the credo that Reason would ultimately reign supreme. Revolutionary and chaotic, emotional rather than rational, often psychologically introverted, the Sturm und Drang ("Storm and Stress") movement in Germany - emphasizing subjectivity and unease - and its offspring the Romantic movement abhorred the 18th century's orderly imposition on nature and the designs of squared parterre tidy gardens with orthogonal lines of pollarded trees. Instead Romanticism preferred the vast wildernesses of an indifferent and unpredictable nature with its endless forests, towering clouds and deafening waterfalls from icy giant peaks.

Beginning in 1774, Goethe's Werther wept with newfound emotion in a landscape overflowing with undammed sentiment paralleled by swollen rivers and unmanageable floods of the world at large. Honesty about feelings were now more important in speech than wit and répartée; being and behaving genuine more important than artifice. Themes such as liberation, mysticism, exotic orientalism, human insignificance and a darker psychology ran counter to the eurocentric Age of Reason. Poems and paintings alike found the moon and dreams more interesting than the sun and conscious thought. Hermit shrines in the woods brought the artists closer to God than hollow liturgies in cathedrals of crowded cities darkened by coal smoke and religious hypocrisy, as Blake uttered like an Old Testament prophet in poetry:

"How the chimney-sweeper's cry
Every blackening church appals..."

Friday, July 10, 2009

How happy are tried Christians, afterwards....

How happy are tried Christians, afterwards. No calm more deep than that which succeeds a storm. Who has not rejoiced in clear shinings after rain? Victorious banquets are for well-exercised soldiers. After killing the lion we eat the honey;after climbing the Hill Difficulty, we sit down in the arbour to rest; after traversing the Valley of Humiliation, after fighting with Apollyon, the shining one appears, with the healing branch from the tree of life. Our sorrows, like the passing keels of the vessels upon the sea, leave a silver line of holy light behind them "afterwards." It is peace, sweet, deep peace, which follows the horrible turmoil which once reigned in our tormented, guilty souls.

See, then, the happy estate of a Christian! He has his best things last, and he therefore in this world receives his worst things first. But even his worst things are "afterward" good things, harsh ploughings yielding joyful harvests. Even now he grows rich by his losses, he rises by his falls, he lives by dying, and becomes full by being emptied; if, then, his grievous afflictions yield him so much peaceable fruit in this life, what shall be the full vintage of joy "afterwards" in heaven? If his dark nights are as bright as the world's days, what shall his days be? If even his starlight is more splendid than the sun, what must his sunlight be? If he can sing in a dungeon, how sweetly will he sing in heaven! If he can praise the Lord in the fires, how will he extol Him before the eternal throne! If evil be good to him now, what will the overflowing goodness of God be to him then?

Oh, blessed "afterward!" Who would not be a Christian? Who would not bear the present cross for the crown which cometh afterwards? But herein is work for patience, for the rest is not for to-day, nor the triumph for the present, but "afterward." Wait, O soul, and let patience have her perfect work.
-Charles Spurgeon

Thursday, July 09, 2009

What Would You do...?

"Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had arrogance, abundant food and careless ease, but she did not help the poor and needy. "Thus they were haughty and committed abominations before Me Therefore I removed them when I saw it. -Ezekiel 16:49-50

I thought this article in the "Inlander" was a thought provoking and deserved some wrestle among us believers and especially Spokcompton Christians, since our alternative paper wrote it.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009


"In a moment two become one.
Two lives become one heart.
Two roads become one path.
Two journeys become one adventure.
With you, one moment has become a lifetime."

LeeElla and I celebrate 19 years of marriage today...we got married when we were 19 too.
I Love you babe....I've been with you half my life...and its been the best half...that gives me so much hope for the later days of our journey together.

Impressionism delivered me....

Van Gogh saved an artist.

Impressionism set me free from mere copying still life and it was the most liberating artistic discovery for me as a mentally mired artist.

I was bound by exactness.

Being able to explore the subject from the impression: the colors, mood, light, form, the displacement of space, or some other impression, has been more challenging and artistic to me. When I saw Van Gogh's work in person in Amsterdam...I was delivered and saved as an artist, because I had been getting bamboozled by realism. Realism was too legalistic for me....impressionism reflected grace to me. In impressionism, I did not have to measure up perfectly...I could reflect the origional and yet be different. It's was a wonderful freedom.

When one stands real close and examines the painting stroke by wouldnt "see" the fact you would most likely reject it as a painting of that subject. But as you step back...gain perspective, distance and begin to see that each seemingly random stroke...adds to the meaning of it all and builds a impression of the subject.

So I anticipate my meeting with eternity and the image of Jesus will be one of perspective not perfection. I won't upon close examination be too great a piece, with each day alone. In fact it would be frightening, if you look at it for its stark moment to moment, realism. But, added up, mixed with a lifetime of strokes and days...I trust the painting of my life will be a masterpiece...a testimony to His grace and creative use of life's colors and moments.

I will be a testimony to the mysterious, impressionistic work of time...and I am so grateful for that.