Thursday, March 24, 2011

Where did the love go?

When did the relationship between church and artist go sour?


I've been pondering this recently and while I was at the bookstore today just happened upon a clearance book that I just had to get.


Churches and Cathedrals: 1700 years of Sacred Architecture.


This book literally sent me back to my first years in college.  I took four or five art history classes, three of which were not required.  One of my best friends at the time and I took such pride in our knowledge and discussions of art history. I remember never missing that class, always sitting in the front row, talking to our professor after class about a particular slide, lingering after finals to discuss our 10 page paper comparing/contrasting a tomb sculpture and a black-figured amphora.  We had numerous conversations that would last for hours about the thought behind a painting, the slant of light that was brought in.  Or even the unbelievable realism found within a marble sculpture.  I was so full of myself. I think for me if felt good to know something, something that only I really knew and could go on and on about.  I even remember clearly thinking that if I ever went for my masters it would be in art history.  There was even an instant in one of my modern art history classes in which my professor had just handed me back an essay I had written about some piece of art and he said to me "You write about art very well, and articulate yourself clearly. You could have a future in it."


At the time I guess I was flattered because after quitting softball and pretty much giving up on any ambition I had, it was nice to hear affirmation from someone, about something, anything.


Bernini sculptures
I remember the last essay I wrote for art history that I truly enjoyed.  It was of Gianlorenzo Bernini's(1598–1680) sculptures Angel with the Superscription and Angel with the Crown of Thorns(1668) in Terra cotta clay.  Something so simple, so small and unfinished and yet so powerful so breathtaking.  Sometimes I think I choose those to give myself a challenge, but looking back I think even then I was searching for God in my life.  I had known God before, but if you've ben a freshmen/sophomore in college God can easily slip through your fingers.  


It seems strange to me now looking back that through all of my studies in art history how the church began to push artists away, by the way they continuously abused them, used them for the gifts God had bestowed upon them.  And I think its happened to all artists at sometime or another...maybe not specifically by the church, but all artists have been used in some form or fashion.  


Michelangelo, Pieta. (Mary holding Jesus' body.)
I just question myself.  What was I thinking as I studied these inspired men of art, men of God?  I mean how can you create something as marvelous as the Pietà by Michelangelo and not be standing in awe and rapture of God?  How could these men create something so beautiful and powerful without the Holy Spirit guiding their hands and whispering the mysteries of the heavens in their ears?  And yet as I studied I did not see divine inspiration, I did not see hours of work and perhaps maybe prayer?  I did not see sweat, life and passion poured out on their creations...I saw the history.  I saw another grade to be made.


Now as I set this book of wonderfully inspired creations down, I wonder to myself...when did the artist and the churches relationship fall apart?  Art was how people knew of the Word of God before they could read, sculptures and stained glass depicted the stories of Moses, Noah, David, Daniel, Solomon, John the Baptist, Mary, Jesus the Christ and his Passion for our souls....when did the church misuse their power over artists and push them away? When did artists become selfish and soulless forsaking the one who gave them their talents? Making art about themselves and leaving God out?


I don't know. But what I do know is that in all my days I will seek to restore the glory of God into the art world, to use my gifts to magnify his Holy Name. 




1 Corinthians 15:57-58(ESV)
But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.



Just found this quote:


"Art is a collaboration between God and the artist, and the less the artist does the better." 
-Andre Gide, French writer.






A.  



Wednesday, March 23, 2011

These small moments...

Today I took a day off from work.  I've been so exhausted and drained, I felt like I was getting sick and so its just seemed like the right course of action.  The day past uneventful really, I was able to unpack from the youth trip, clean a bit and get some groceries which I was in need of desperately.  I opened up the blinds to the patio and realized that Spring is upon us.  I took a walk around the apartment, and down by the pool, it was very nice and refreshing I think I'll be going down there to read more.

As I was resting on the couch of my apartment today I noticed how peaceful I suddenly felt in the presence of God. The blinds gently swaying back and forth as the sun began to set.  It stuck me beautiful how much detail God puts into the little things, like the way the shadows and light changed ever so slightly as the movement allowed or prevented light from hitting the blinds.

I love having these small moments with God.

[Acts 9:31]
Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace.  It was strengthened; and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it grew in numbers, living in the fear of the Lord.

A.

Monday, March 21, 2011

SLAVE: The Hidden Truth About Your Identity In Christ (new book I'm reading)

So recently I've been really burdened by the Holy Spirit with the idea of being bound to Christ and being a slave to him.(You've probably noticed from my reoccurring references to Pauls confession in [Acts 21:13] that he is "not only ready to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus."   And through my reading the bible I haven't seen that many references to us being slaves to Christ other than a few here: [Romans 6:15-23] and here: [1 Corinthians 7:21-23].  I was just so pulled in by this verse in Acts and his resilience to do God's work whatever the cost I had to make something to express what I couldn't say which you've also seen in a previous post. So when I happened to come upon this book at a Christian book store recently you can probably guess how excited I was to see it.

[On Amazon]
As I read the inside cover I knew that this book was exactly what I had been looking for. So far I've only read the first few pages of chapter one and I can already say that John MacArthur is really digging deep and giving solid references to the statements he makes.  I had to put the book down because it was late and it was just so overwhelming to take in all the information, every other sentence I was saying "WOW!" (as in wow I can't believe that and that is so true, crazy, insane!)

I will definitely be keeping you guys up to date on how good this book gets.  In the mean time check out the book on Amazon.com. You can read through some of the book there if you want to check it out for yourself, let me know what you think about it if you do!

Prayer Updates:
1.  Our youth trip was a success! The speaker Steve Grant was amazing he really brought the Word to the teens in an understandable and applicable way and the worship was truly anointed!  Check out the band Caste that lead our worship here at their facebook page.  I especially loved when the lead singer/guitarist pulled out his bible in the middle of worship and read [Micah 7:8]! PURE AWESOME.

Favorite worship song from the trip:

"I may be down, but I will rise,
it may be dark, but God is light.


I may be down, but I will rise,
it may be dark, but God is light.


I once was fatherless
A stranger with no hope
Your kindness wakened me
Awakened me, from my sleep

Your love it beckons deeply
A call to come and die
By grace now I will come
And take this life, take Your life

Sin has lost it's power
Death has lost it's sting
From the grave You've risen
Victoriously

Into marvelous light I'm running
Out of darkness, out of shame
By the cross You are the truth
You are the life, You are the way

My dead heart now is beating
My deepest stains now clean
Your breath fills up my lungs
Now I'm free, now I'm free

Sin has lost it's power
Death has lost it's sting
From the grave You've risen
Victoriously!



Into marvelous light I'm running
Out of darkness, out of shame
By the cross You are the truth
You are the life, You are the way."






Prayer Requests:

1. My friend and I are working on something together, pray that God gives direction and wisdom in everything surrounding this project.  More details to come when God releases me to tell. :)
2. Pray for those suffering in Japan, there is a long road to recovery. Just recently found out through the church that I attend that one of our missionaries there had thought to be missing and the church that was just built there thought to be destroyed. But Pastor Shoei Abe was found alive and the church has little damage, it has electricity and Internet and is being used as a location for relief work.  Japan is a country in which less than 2% are following Christ so pray for salvation to come in a time where hope seems lost.
3. Gordon Griffith is in need of a round trip plane ticket to visit his family and then go back to Thailand so pray that God would be his provider in a miraculous way.
4. Lastly, please pray for rest and strength for myself. I am just feeling very tired and worn down.


A.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Updates...I feel....

A few updates here:

The Work of Art-Remixed! facebook competition is over and I came in second place. It was fun, got some really great artwork out of it too.

The ArtistsWanted contest was also a bust so no money for my future trip to Cambodia just yet...lol I'm actually not really that surprised because the content of my work was all about Jesus really.  And you know how the world feels about Him.

In other news God opened a door for a few of my photographs to be published!  Dr. T.L. Grover emailed me and asked for some pictures of her presentation for a publication.  Check out the website she is affiliated with traffickstop.org. On the front page she has this video:

If you don't know much about human trafficking, start with this video.  Its fairly basic, but it'll get you started.  Find more information on the new tab at the top of the blog: Anti-Human Trafficking Info.  
Thats all I have for today, I think I'm too tired from open house at my school.  

Many blessings to you.

A.

Prayer Requests:
1. Our youth is taking a trip out to west Texas for Youth-A-Rama, pray for safety and strength.
2. Pray for our education system, if the proposed budget cuts are approved thousands of teachers will lose their jobs including possibly me.
3. Pray for my friend Drew who was pulled from his teaching placement because of his mentor teacher, he has to wait till next semester for a new placement.
4. Pray for Gordon Griffith that he will have strength to continue doing the Lord's work in Thailand.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

God makes the world seem so small...

Picture this:

A little girl born in Texas. A little girl born in Africa. And somehow God manages to bring them together in a series of events that will change their lives forever.

This is how I think of my friendship with my bff Mariam.  She was born in Africa, and was trafficked into the United States.  God brought her to Texas and we met in high school where our friendship began. We have been through a lot together and I am very thankful to have found a friend as trustworthy, caring, and true as she.  It just baffles my mind how God conducts everything to bring us to our callings and what we are meant to do in life. Let me explain.

This past weekend was the Free the Captives 2011 Houston Conference, this is an Anti-Human Trafficking non-profit that put together a day of sessions so that people can be more aware of the reality of Human Trafficking.  Mariam, having survived it through the power and hope in Jesus Christ, was asked to give a brief account of her story during a session.  She mentioned that I was a photographer and Julie the wonderful director of FTC invited me to take some photos of the event.  The night after the conference I was browsing photos, and just thinking about the divine appointments that God had made that day.

Julie Waters the founder and director of FTC(facebook) is very knowledgeable of groups and non profits that work to prevent and help those that are victims of human trafficking and to bring awareness to the issue.  She was so sweet and kind, she and her husband let us crash on their floor(mattresses) and we had some wonderful conversations.

Ted Wall a speaker at the conference(who also happened to be the Pastor at Julie's church) told how God's gift of art can be used to bring awareness and healing to those affected by human trafficking. His church has an arts non-profit called Vox Culture (linked to their blog/website) who just recently conducted a bus tour/art show to make people aware human trafficking.  I was so glad to meet him because I have not met an arts group that really focuses on the cause rather than promoting oneself.

Now I think of myself as one of God's children that he repeatedly has to tell me things over and over again before I get it and that night it just all of a sudden hit me. You see I've known for a while now that I wanted to be a missionary photographer, that God is leading me toward Cambodia, however there was still a piece missing.  The why, what for, the question of "what cause is leading me there?"  Was I going to tackle everything or just one piece of the puzzle?  Being with Mariam this past weekend, hearing everyone speaking I came to the realization that being friends with her was no mistake.  Our lives are linked and I'm apart of her ministry, and I now know that God wants me to use these artistic gifts to bring awareness to the issue of Human Trafficking in the world.  Its like it just clicked.  I told Mariam about this and she was like "Yeah I already knew that." I laughed because like I said sometimes it takes me a bit.

All in all I'm glad that it took me a while.  It taught me to wait on God.  There are so many opportunities to go to Cambodia with different groups and such however, I needed to make sure there was a clear purpose and objective to my going instead of showing up and having no clue what to do when I got into a foreign country.  Now this gives me a place to work toward.  I know that there is a path to be taken, and I can't wait to see how God gets me to this destination.

If you would like more information on Human Trafficking I will be making a new tab with links to videos and other websites that are useful. Check back soon.

P.S. This morning I received an anonymous email from someone and it simply said this:


[1 Corinthians 15:58]
Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
Praying for you today!
It was a sweet reminder that even when we forget to pray for ourselves, that God knows when to put it on the hearts of others to encourage us and to lift us up.  Isn't the body of Christ amazing?


A.

Prayer Requests:

1. Pray for Gordon Griffith and his ministry to the Karen people in Burma, Thailand.
2. Pray for Julie Waters and Free the Captives, they are doing an amazing job of educating and equipping people to do Gods work for this Anti-Human Trafficking movement.
3. Pray for Vox Culture that they would continue on using their gifts to glorify God and his kingdom.