Thursday, December 16, 2010
I’m not really sure I have the answers, of course, but I have been thinking about this quite a bit lately.
From the Bible, Galatians 5:4
Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. (KJV)
You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. (ESV)
Culturally, it simply means to fall from a position of high esteem.
So here’s my dilemma… From a human perspective, I believe it is truly possible. There are those that we (humans) elevate to positions of high esteem based on any number of differing factors (that would take up way too much space to list here). However, at the root of this list is an overriding discovery that most of our human esteem is based on performance, appearance, etc. So when an athlete fails to live up to his or her billing, or when an entertainer commits a disastrous, career-ending gaffe, or when a husband and father fails and falters in his fidelity and leadership, we can agree that these might all be examples of a “fall from grace.” That’s not my question.
My question is this… Does Grace ever let go of us humans? Grace, in the human form of Jesus Christ came busting through the Creation He created to put on our sinful flesh, walk around amongst us, take on all of our sin, die for us, rise on the third day defeating the grave, and return to the Father having completed the most GRACEFUL act of GRACE the world has ever seen. He did all that to set us free from the sin that so easily entangles us. The Love of God is the Grace of God! Can anything separate us from the Love of God? According to His Word, nothing can… Nothing! (Romans 8:37-39)
So what does that mean for us?
No clue… but what I am realizing and learning is this: That for me to experience the true Grace of God, I might need to fall from the lofty, human pedestal that I placed myself on in my lifetime of striving to gain esteem from fellow humans, so that the Love of Christ (His Grace) can rescue me from the law (of legalism) that I have forced myself to live under… even after He set me free.
I have not been rescued by a weak god. Rather, I have been rescued by a loving warrior God Who was and is willing to go to the depths of hell to find me hiding there, completely helpless in my self-reliant, legalistic, law-abiding, performance-enhancing life. Whether or not there was any real intention to gain human esteem on my part (I am self-deceived like all humans), God’s Grace had already set me free from that life, but I had not embraced it or rested in it. And that life started to choke me to death. But God’s Grace showed up stronger than ever and rescued me all over again… even though I fell from grace, humanly speaking.
Thank You, Jesus. Thank You! You will never allow me to fall so far away that Your Grace can’t or won’t retrieve me. There’s no way that I can fall from Your Love and Grace. Thank You, Lord.
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. John 3: 16-17 (NIV Bible)
It is written in Luke 2:10-11; But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.” I did this design at the request of our church worship leader at Northwest Presbyterian Church in Dublin, Paul Vertucci. He wanted a Christmas design for the annual benefit dinner/concert and asked if I could produce a design with the theme, “Hope of the World.” I said I would pray about it and this design is the result of prayer.
The design has been done in the “traditional” Christmas colors. The Cross is at the center and is surrounded by wreaths and holly, and, if you will, Christmas ornaments. The colors are bright greens and reds which enhance the Cross in the center. Jesus, and the empty cross, are indeed, the Hope of the World! Continuing in the Gospel of Luke, 2: 13-14 it is written; “Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” The hope of the world!
It never ceases to amaze me how we people get all wrapped up in the secular activities of the season and forget Jesus. Christmas becomes a time of making sure we have the right gift for the right person regardless of the cost. And, we have to check, and then check again, to make sure we don’t forget someone! And, don’t forget we have to make sure we are seen at just the right holiday party! We seem to forget that “Jesus is the reason for the season.” It would do us all well to remember Luke 2:20, “The shepherds returned, glorifying God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.” During all of the holiday celebrations, let us keep Jesus foremost in our thoughts amongst all the glitter and confusion. Remember, after everything is put away in early January, our Lord remains with us in our hearts! Christmas comes not once a year, but everyday for believers! And when you are in the marketplace, say “Merry Christmas” to all!
Friday, December 10, 2010
After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.” Matthew 2:1-2 (NIV Bible)
Now, before someone makes a comment, I know this does not look like a typical star. It is not meant to be a typical star. This star is bursting with colors, joy and excitement! As you gaze into it, different colors and shapes come toward you. It appears to be in motion. And after all, the star the wise men followed must have been unique. It was unique and very special and it guided them to the Christ child. It is written in Matthew 2:9-11, “After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.”
Let’s think about this for a minute. Let’s take our focus off of the star. Let’s take our focus off of the wise men. Let’s take our focus off of the treasures, the gifts. Instead, let us focus on “they bowed down and worshiped him.” Now, put this in present time. Let’s take our focus off of the bright lights. Let’s take our focus off of the parties. Let’s take our focus off of the gifts. How are we worshiping him now? What are you giving Jesus for Christmas?
Some people give gifts to get something in return. Some people give gifts to keep score and make sure they spend more than the other person did. And some people give gifts from their own hands - if you will, gifts of craft, filled with grace. One of my annual Christmas pet peeves is when people ask, “what did you get for Christmas?” This Christmas may we all focus on Jesus and give him our allegiance, our obedience, our worship, our praise, and our adoration! Remember this from Luke 2:11, “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ, the Lord.” Now when you get asked the big question, “what’d cha get?” you can tell them, “I got the greatest gift of all - I have received Jesus into my heart as my Lord and Savior.” Oh, I almost forgot - see you in church!
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
How do you know when your business practices, your products and/or services, your relationships, and your life style are acceptable to the Lord? What do you think God expects from you?
Many times I have heard a businessperson say, “my business, or my company, or my employees.” Well the truth is they are not yours, they are God’s. In Deuteronomy 10:14 (NIV) it is written: Look around you: Everything you see is God’s – the heavens above and beyond, the Earth and everything on it.” No, it is not yours, but you are God’s steward. How is your stewardship lately? Are you fulfilling God’s expectations for you?
Let’s begin in the Book of Micah. In Micah 6:6-8 (The Message) it is written: “How can I stand up before God and show proper respect to the high God? Should I bring an armload of offerings topped off with yearling calves? Would God be impressed with thousands of rams, with buckets and barrels of olive oil? Would he be moved if I sacrificed my first born child? But, he’s already made it plain how to live, what to do, what God is looking for in men and women. It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor, be compassionate and loyal in your love, and don’t take yourself too seriously – take God seriously.”
In the NIV Bible, Micah 6:8: “And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
As stated in The Message, “It’s quite simple.”
First, let’s take a look at three key topics for business people who want to serve the Lord. They are: Expectations, Empowerment, Excellence.
The Lord makes and keeps covenants. In doing this he has always been consistent and clear with his expectations. If I were to speak with your associates and ask them what your expectations are, what would they tell me? Have you made the effort and taken the time to clearly spell out your expectations for them? In Deuteronomy 7: 9-11, God made a covenant with Israel and it included expectations.
It is written in Deuteronomy 7: 9-1l (NIV): “Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands. But those who hate him will repay to their face by destruction; he will not be slow to repay to their face those who hate him. Therefore, take care to follow the commands, decrees and laws, I give you today.”
If I worked in your organization, would I know my expectations, including the rewards and punishments? Would I know what excellent performance looked like in the organization? Have you been consistent in application? Have you been faithful and followed through when necessary? When you have not, what have been the results? Tough questions. But, as God’s steward you must be in a position to answer these questions.
As a Christian business leader, you have available to you several models, such as the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount. Both of these are examples of clear expectations. In fact, within the Sermon on the Mount just might be the best business book every written. Or, read again in the Book of Deuteronomy, Chapter 10: 12-13 (The Message): “So now Israel, what do you think God expects from you? Just this. Live in his presence in holy reverence, follow the road he sets out for you, love him, serve God, your God, with everything you have in you, obey the commandments and regulations of God that I’m commanding you today – live a good life.” And in Deuteronomy 6:4-5 (NIV) it is written: Hear O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”
You and the members of your organization need to have clear expectations for everyone. What are your core values? Have you taken time to identify them? Did you involve your stakeholders? Are they written? Do people in the organization know them, accept them and live them? Do have basic operating principles in writing for your leadership team? Do other teams have clear and written operating principles? As a Christian business leader, how can you not have these? What does your savior expect from you?
The Lord requires you to act justly. I am not sure how you can do that if you do not have clear expectations. Your Lord is just and merciful. You too must balance your justice and mercy in dealing with others. But, you cannot do that if you do not have clear expectations.
I hesitate to use the word empowerment since I believe it has been abused and over-used. However, as Christian leaders it is your responsibility to empower others. In John 14: 12-13 (NIV) it is written: “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father.”
Jesus left and put the disciples in charge. Unlike some business leaders I know, he did not abdicate, he practiced effective delegation through giving them the tools they needed and a direct link to the Father through him. For three years he coached, mentored, and taught them. That’s empowerment! Too many business leaders fear having associates with more talent or skill than they possess. They withhold information, do not coach and mentor. How small must be their minds. If you want to be a Christian leader, then lead like Jesus! You should be rejoicing in the growth and development of your associates.
I have a stack of books in my office all on the topics of quality and excellence in the work place. Most of the books address quality not only as a way to profitability, but also to just staying in business. As a Christian, I always wondered why it took books on quality for us to do what is expected of us. Just take a look at what is written in Proverbs 29: 22 (NIV): “Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will serve before Kings, he will not serve before obscure men.” Or as written in The Message; “Observe people who are good at their work – skilled workers are always in demand and admired, they don’t take a back seat to anyone.”
As a Christian you are compelled to do your best. Your behavior is observed by your associates. As a follower of Christ, you must always perform your tasks joyfully and fully. It is your responsibility to set an example for others.
It is written in Ephesians 6: 5-8 (The Message): “Servants, respectfully obey your earthly masters but always with an eye to obeying the real master, Christ. Don’t just do what you have to do to get by, but work heartedly, as Christ’s servants doing what God wants you to do. And work with a smile on your face, always keeping in mind that no matter who happens to be giving orders, you’re really serving God. Good work will get you good pay from the Master, regardless of whether you are slave or free.” As a Christian business person how can you read these words from scripture and not always be focused on excellence? And, if you read further, in verse 9 it is written: “Masters, it is the same with you. No abuse, please, and no threats. You and your servants are both under the same Master in heaven. He makes no distinction between you and them.” Read that again, and think about it. No distinction.
As a business leader you are expected by God to act justly, love mercy and walk in humility with your God. And as it is written in Colossians 4: 23-25 (The Message): “And don’t just do the minimum that will get you by. Do your best. Work from the heart for your real Master, for God, confident that you’ll get paid in full when you come into your inheritance. Keep in mind always that the ultimate Master you’re serving is Christ. The sullen servant who does shoddy work will be held responsible. Being Christian doesn’t cover up bad work.”
If you want to have excellence and empowered associates, you must give them clear expectations and you must set the example. You have to become a servant leader, not one who expects to be served by others.
Friday, November 26, 2010
Now, for a small boy that is not enough.
“You mean just any time?” I asked my mother, pressing the issue. The smile on her face faded into a solemn stare. “Yes, any time. Perhaps, when you least expect him, or are doing something you should not be doing.”
Now she was getting serious.
“You mean he will return without any announcements?” I asked hoping to hear I was wrong. “Yes, dear, without any announcements he will return.” She said firmly. “And if I were you, I would sure stop and think before I did anything or went any where.” “You mean he’s just going to show up some day?” I asked her. “That’s right Bobby,” she said, “some day when the world least expects him, Jesus will return.” Gulp, I swallowed hard. “What if I’m asleep? “Oh, then Jesus will gently wake you,” she responded and patted me on the head.
That sounded okay to me.
“What if I’m in school?” I asked, hoping she would suggest I might want to drop out of school so I would not be there when Jesus returns Mother laughed. “If you are in school, and studying hard, he will be so proud of you and he will wrap his arms around you and give you a big hug.”
Well, that sounded okay, too. “I guess it’s okay for him to return when he wants, then,” I said to my mother.
She gave me one of those looks you never forget. “Bobby, Jesus does not need your okay for him to return. He will be back when God chooses. So, if you are not asleep, or studying hard in school, you might want to be doing something that would please him.”
If Jesus had returned last evening, where would he have found you? Watching Monday Night Football? Watching a reality program on television? Reading a book to a child? Spending time with family and/or friends? Studying your Bible? Helping someone?Having an illicit affair? Watching a porno movie? Or just sitting in a local bar getting smashed?
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that through his poverty you become rich. 2 Corinthians 8:9 (NIV Bible)
This design has the colors traditionally associated with our annual Thanksgiving Day, and the colors are bright, flowing, and uplifting. Yes, this is a Thanksgiving design, but it is not only for the Thanksgiving holiday season, but for all year long; giving thanks to the Lord each and everyday of the year!
I really like to sing the song, “Give Thanks.” In fact, as I prepared this design, I found myself singing the song! Written originally by Henry Smith, and published in 1986 by Integrity Music, and recorded on the album, Heal Our Land in 1989, it has since been recorded and played many times around the world. The words of the song are so appropriate for our Thanksgiving time. “Give thanks with a grateful heart; give thanks to the holy one; give thanks for he’s given Jesus Christ, His son. And now, let the weak say I am strong, let the poor say I am rich, because of what the Lord has done for us. Give thanks!” Suggestion. You just might want to hold hands around your Thanksgiving table and sing this song followed by a prayer of thanks to your Lord and Savior. Just a thought.
Want some good reading material over the holiday? Read the Psalms. And since it is Thanksgiving, start with Psalm 100:4-5; “Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.” I’m thankful that we have a national day of thanksgiving, but I surely hope that we take time to give thanks more than just this one day each year. And, I pray that we place our focus on giving thanks to the Lord more than we do on all the food placed on the table. In fact, why not, before eating, have each person at the table share what he/she is most thankful for this year? And one more idea. After the meal is complete, and you offer a closing prayer, why not have each person carry their plates to the kitchen and all pitch in and help with the clean up? Oh, one last thing. In the marketplace, when someone says, “Happy Thanksgiving,” why not respond to them with this: “Thanks Be To God!” Just a thought.
Thursday, November 18, 2010
“Meaningless. Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.” Ecclesiastes 1:2 (NIV Bible)
This design is just a design. Nothing more. Nothing less. It has shapes. It has colors. It flows. It has style. It is pleasing to the eye. But, it is meaningless. As I did this design I really felt nothing. I remember drawing the shapes and using the pens to apply the colors, but I felt just plain empty. Meaningless. Ever have one of those times? I wondered why did I even pick up the pens! I actually did not feel the inspiration I feel when I draw. It was as if I was alone, very alone and meaningless. Now, in hindsight, I know what I was to share. This design illustrates a life without God. Without God our lives are hollow and without any purpose. Hollow. Empty. Meaningless.
In Matthew 16:26 it is written, “What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?” Consider the man or woman who devotes their life to accumulating power. They find their meaning and purpose in this control over the lives of others. When they die, what happens to all the power and influence they have accumulated? What happens to all their earthly treasures? In essence, their lives have been totally meaningless. I have to confess that when I watch these folks at first I mock them, and then this mocking changes to pity, which then results in praying for them. It would do them well to read Philippians 2:1-11 about the attitudes of our Lord, Christ Jesus. (You should put this article aside now and read that Scripture.) You want to talk about meaning and purpose? It’s right there in the Bible!
It is written in 1 Chronicles 29:11-12; Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, O Lord, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all. Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all. Want meaning in your life? Turn to God. Put your trust in Him. Draw your purpose from His Word. Then go out into the Marketplace and live like Jesus!
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
“You are the light of the world. A City on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. Matthew 5: 14-16 (NIV Bible)
Remember as a child singing, “This Little Light of Mine?” Some of the words are; This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine; Hide it under a bushel? No! Let it shine; Don’t let Satan blow it out; All around my neighborhood I’m gonna let it shine; Let it shine till Jesus comes. In that simple song is a powerful message. Where is your light?
When I did this design, I kept humming “this little light of mine.” It prompted me to use a lot of colors - bright colors. This design is all about colors. The various shapes all reflect different color combinations. I like to sit back, put my feet up, relax and just look at this design and let my imagination go wild! In our everyday lives we tend to get so wrapped up in stuff we miss the important things. Look at the design and let your mind just wander around and enjoy the colors and the shapes. Then, as you go through each day, take time to pause and enjoy the wonders of God's creation, for it is written in Genesis 1:3, And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.” All of the colors in this design are to the glory of the Lord and the light of His creation.
Are you letting your light shine in the marketplace? Are you seeking His kingdom first? Regi Campbell, in his book, About My Father’s Business, wrote, “It’s about being on purpose with every person that God points you to in your work life.” During the week in the marketplace the Lord will place people in your path. You must be vigilant and keep focused so that you can respond and introduce them to Jesus. As a Christian you have a powerful message to share. You have a great responsibility. You are to live like Jesus. And as he told us, we are to go out and make disciples. The best way to introduce people to Jesus is to act like Jesus. Treat others just like Jesus treated people. It really works!
Thursday, October 28, 2010
There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men.
1 Corinthians 12: 4-6(NIV)
I have always enjoyed reading the twelfth chapter of 1 Corinthians about spiritual gifts. We have all been gifted by God in different ways. It is up to us to discover these gifts and then to use them for the Glory of God. We are all unique to the Lord and He has a special purpose for each of us. As I did this design, I felt the Spirit with me, directing me to design something that captured the idea of many different parts making up the whole. The pinwheel in the middle represents our Lord. Surrounding the pinwheel are various shapes representing all of us! As it is written in 1 Corinthians 12:27, “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is part of it.”
Before he shaped us in our mother’s womb, God had a plan for us. As it it written in Isaiah 64:8, “O Lord, You are our Father, we are the clay, and You our potter, and all of us are the work of Your hand.” What do you believe are your gifts? How are you using them to glorify God? Or maybe you are not using them and they are setting “on the shelf gathering dust.” Or maybe your gifts are not being used because you fear opinions of others. Give some thought to Galatians 1:10, “Am I now seeking the favor of me, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.” Convicted yet?
In Luke 12, part of verse 48, Jesus says, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” That presents us with a question again. How has God gifted you and what are you doing with those gifts? As a disciple of Christ you have been entrusted to use your gifts to glorify the Father and to build His kingdom. With the blood of Jesus you have been given much and told to share the good news with others. If you were to come face-to-face with Jesus, what would you hear him say to you? “I gave you so much, and you have done so little.” Or would He say to you, “well done, my good and faithful servant!” Convicted yet?
Monday, October 18, 2010
They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. Acts 2: 3-4 (NIV Bible)
Coming from the top center of this design are tongues of fire. The design itself has many different components, all totally different than each other. This represents all the people at Pentecost, from many different nations, and walks of life, with different languages. Scripture tells us how the disciples were able to be heard and understood by all, each in his/her own language! The power of the Holy Spirit!
I have to tell you that I have never spoken in tongues. This gift I have not. There are some who discredit this, and even go so far as to ridicule anyone who has this gift. Candidly, I do not understand it all that well, but I do accept it as coming from the Holy Spirit. And far be it for me to criticize someone with this gift. Praise God!
It was at this time, on the day of Pentecost that the disciples spoke and all heard and understood in their own language. For me the most exciting part is Peter’s, if you will, sermon to the crowd. (Hint: open your Bible and read Acts Chapter 2.) In Acts 2:38-39, it is written, Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off - for all whom the Lord our God will call.” He is talking about you and me! The Scriptures tell us that 3,o00 were added to their number that day. Can you imagine that? How many have we added to our numbers this week? This month? This year? Or say, in the past 3 years?
The good news is you do not have to be able to speak in tongues to tell people about Jesus and invite them to get to know Him. You just have to be willing to open your mouth and tell people about Him. You don’t have to “convert” them, just make the introduction and let Jesus do the work. How easy is that?
Thursday, September 30, 2010
(Jesus said) A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. John 13: 34-35 (NIV Bible)
While I love contemporary music, there are some hymns that I fondly remember. For me the hymn, “Blest Be The Tie That Binds” is reflected in this drawing as the ties connect everything through the cross. The colors are bright and vibrant, illustrating the love of the Lord Jesus. The words in the hymn speak to: “the tie that binds our hearts in Christian love; we share each other’s woes, our mutual burdens bear; before our Father’s throne we pour our ardent prayers; for each other flows the sympathizing tear.”
Jesus told us that the world would know us by our love for each other. And, yes, there is another song: “they will know we are Christians by our love, by our love. Yes, they will know we are Christians by our love.” People who know me well, have heard me say on more than one occasion, “Take care how you behave today. You might be the only Jesus someone sees!” Remember, we are saved by Grace, and then respond in love by being like Jesus. For example, James 2:17 in the Message: “Isn’t obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense.” We are to use our gifts to the very best of our ability, to live each day as an example for others until that day when the Lord returns. And, He will return, but we know not when.
I have always loved Isaiah 40:28-31: “Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not faint.” As you go out into the marketplace, walk and talk like Jesus showing that you are a Christian by your love. And keep a sharp eye looking for that person God has put on your radar screen today.
Friday, September 24, 2010
So God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant I have established between me and all life on the earth. Genesis 9:17 (NIV Bible)
This is my most recent completed design. I can remember as a small child hearing the story about Noah and the Ark in Sunday School. In this design I have used several shades of blue. Now, you might ask, “where is the ark?” Or you might ask, “where is the rainbow?” I’m not sure why they are not visible, but I think the Lord wanted us to sense how it was when the whole earth was totally covered with the waters. In the design are some waves, churning waters, still waters, and swells of water, all consuming. Such was the flood! In Genesis 9:11 it is written, “I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be cut off by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.” God’s covenant made for and given to us.
In Genesis 6:11-12, it is written, “Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence. God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on the earth had corrupted their ways.” According to Scripture God intended to wipe all mankind from the earth, and then Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord. The Lord then spoke to Noah and gave him very specific instructions. Noah was obedient to the Lord. Can you imagine what the people in the area thought about Noah as he build this ark on dry land? Do you think they made fun of Noah? Sure they did. But, Noah was obedient to the Lord. He did not let their comments detract him from his work.
What about the world today? Corrupt? Yes. Immoral? Yes. Are some Christian organizations responding to the criticisms of the world by changing doctrine? Yes. Are some individual Christians accepting the world’s ways? Yes. Well, it’s past time to stop following the crowd and to stand tall for Jesus. It’s past time to stop worrying about what someone thinks about you praying, reading your Bible, caring for others, worshipping in church, and being a disciple of Jesus. Did not the Lord himself tell us that we would suffer as his followers? Remember this: you are not of this world, but you are only in this world for a short time. Be obedient to and serve the Lord at all times! Share the good news with everyone! Time is short...
Friday, September 17, 2010
“Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Matthew 7:17-18 (NIV Bible)
I had been reading in Matthew recently and was struck by the passage about good and bad fruit. I thought, you know, this really is addressing character and being genuine with others. In my design, the bright orange/red/yellow represents the light of God shining through the clouds giving nurture to the tree below. The bright colors beneath the tree represent good soil while the tree to the right has not produced fruit and the soil is not good. The contrast of bright and dark colors represents the struggle we face daily in our efforts to be like Jesus and not charlatans. It represents our daily struggle as we stand tall for Jesus and turn a deaf ear to the evil one.
One day while cruising through a furniture store with my wife, I marveled at the “plastic fruit” on various table tops. It looked real and in fact, edible. So, how do we know who is a false prophet and who is a Christian teacher? In Galatians 5:22-23 it is written, “But, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” Wow! What wonderful guidelines for our behavior! Now, behavior and works do not give us a ticket to eternal life, but, and this is critical, our behavior and works are a result of our relationship to Jesus. A Christian who is good fruit is good because of what God has done for him/her, and he/she understands that eternal life is not something deserved, but rather that Jesus paid the cost and is the reason!
It is written in John 15:4, “Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” You can discern the false prophets by their self-centered focus and “look what I have done” attitude. As Christians in the marketplace it is imperative that we behave consistent with the fruit of the Spirit. Just imagine working in an organization in which everyone was patient, kind, demonstrated goodness, smiled with joy and peace, and exercised self-control! Now, that is what I call good marketplace fruit! How about you?
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Praise the Lord. How good it is to sing praises to our God, how pleasant and fitting to praise him! Psalm 147:1 (NIV Bible)
This design is named after the song by Rita Baloche, "I Will Celebrate." I did the design while recovering from dental surgery and a root canal and had considered naming it “pain and agony.” My wife looked at it and said, "that looks like a celebration." Then I realized it was indeed a celebration of recovery and health, all blessed by the Lord. The design appears to have “fireworks” exploding and the design is full of motion, much like any celebration you would see on a holiday! I find it makes me think of fun and good times and our Great God!
I really enjoy contemporary worship services. I really enjoy the music and singing. I really enjoy the new worship songs. And, I really enjoy the praise bands with guitars, keyboards, drums, and any other instrument they want to use! And I really enjoy “doing church!” In her song, Celebrate, Rita Baloche’s lyrics are so meaningful; “sing to the Lord a new song...with my heart rejoicing within..with my mind focused on Him...with my hands raised to the heavens..I am worshipping Him! Wow! Think for a moment about your most recent worship experience. What was it like? How did you feel? What did you do? And, did you join in the singing? If you sang along, did you think about the words you were singing? What was the pastor’s message? How did the words apply to your life? Who did you see? Who did you speak to? Who did you hug? Did you rush out the door at the end or did you take time to fellowship with others?
In my opinion, worship is a celebration and as Christians we have a whole lot to celebrate! (You can start with the gift of grace and eternal life with Christ and go on and make your list...) As we, as Christians, go out into the marketplace, it is imperative that we share the good news. A smile, a word of encouragement, helping others, caring for others, all show people in the marketplace what a follower of Jesus is like! It makes them think about a Christian life and makes them open to hearing about Jesus. What have you done recently to demonstrate a life as a Christian to others?
Thursday, August 19, 2010
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
Matthew 19:14 (NIV)
Children are truly a blessing. When I completed this design, it reminded me of good times as a child. It has movement, bright colors, and the motion of a child’s swing. Jesus loves children. When I read about abortion, I wonder how those who support it will react when they come face to face with Jesus. How do they justify killing babies? Or, those who abuse children how will they face Jesus? Children are truly a blessing. Like many of you, I will always remember the birth of my two children and the joy I felt in my heart. And then, it was duplicated with the birth of my grandchildren! God is good!
In Isaiah 44:24 it is written, “This is what the Lord says - your Redeemer, who formed you in the womb; I am the Lord, who has made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by myself.” And in Isaiah 49:16 it is written, “See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.” I find it so humbling as a human to be part of God’s creation. I find it so comforting that he formed me in the womb and has me engraved on the palms of his hands. It makes me want to stand and shout out with joy to my God and King. And in the world in which we live today, we all need to stop and say, thank you, Lord for being with us. To me it seems like the world has become all about control and power. In the world we seem to go about our daily lives without praising our Creator. We look to the government to do everything for us instead of keeping our focus on the Lord. We are changing church doctrine to fit society in an age of “don’t offend” anyone. Oh, how foolish we are. We must do as Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 4:16; “Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.”
Unlike some people, I like the Book of James. Eugene Peterson, in the Message, wrote James Chapter 2, verse 17, this way, Isn’t it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense? And then he wrote verse 22 this way, Faith and works, works and faith, fit together hand in glove. That is a powerful message for us. As we go about our daily lives, the way in which we conduct ourselves reflects our faith. We must do all we can to be like Jesus. We must love and take care of the children. There is no option!
Thursday, August 12, 2010
The Lord reigns, he is robed in majesty; the Lord is robed in majesty and is armed with strength. The world is firmly established; it cannot be moved....Mightier than the thunder of the great waters, mightier than the breakers of the sea, the Lord on high is mighty. Psalm 93:1 and 4 (NIV)
As I drew this design I felt strong. I felt the strength of the Lord flowing through me and guiding my hands. It was a great feeling. I wanted this design to be bold, colorful, moving, and most of all I wanted it to portray the power of the Lord. In this design the Lord is robed in majesty, mighty, and armed with strength.
What images do you have of God? Different artists over the years have portrayed the Lord in a variety of ways. And in the same way, many artists have created portraits of Jesus. Does it really matter all that much? Remember what Jesus said to Thomas in John 20:29; “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” Are you familiar with the song written by Jack Hayford, Majesty? This design reminds me so much of the words in that song, which in part are: “Majesty; Unto Jesus be all glory, honor and praise! So exalt, lift up on high the name of Jesus. Magnify, come glorify Christ Jesus the King.” I don’t know about you, but that is all the visual I need!
In my book, In The Beginning...The Art of Bob Spence, I recalled a time when I left the office frustrated and angry. My anxiety was at an extremely high level. I obviously was not thinking about Paul’s advice in his letter to the Philippians. I got into the car, started the engine, and like a teenager, “put the pedal to the metal” and accelerated down the road. I reached out and pushed the button for my CD player and the first words out of the speaker were, “God is in control.” I took my foot off the accelerator, pushed in the clutch, and down shifted. The words touched my heart and I came back to my senses. My God is indeed robed in majesty and is armed with strength. He is in control. As marketplace Christians it is imperative that we share the majesty of God with our associates so that they can come to know Him, love Him and serve Him. Let us magnify and glorify Jesus!
Friday, August 6, 2010
In introducing people to Jesus, Bob has developed and made available a variety of products and services. All of the products and services are based on his designs with Scriptural references. The current products and services are:
Art Book: In The Beginning...The Art of Bob Spence
Powerpoint Presentation: One Man’s Faith Walk - Happy In the Lord!
Original Art Work
Blank Note Cards
We are seeking relationships that help us use this work and these products and services to introduce people to Jesus and to help believers in their personal faith walk. Jesus told the disciples he would make them fishers of men. In order for us to have a successful fishing trip, we need strong relationships and many tributaries to enable us to have a river of revenue to give us the capital needed to continue this work for the Lord.
These relationships, coupled with a specific plan that identifies the who, what, and how, will enable us to meet our goals. As Paul wrote: Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But, one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14 (NIV) Like Paul we must continue to strive for the Lord. We must keep our eyes focused on the Cross of Christ as we do His work here on earth.
Since the founding and beginnings of Adonai Art Designs, LLC, in 2008, we have had a lot of positive feedback, but very limited positive revenue results. We have had many people write to us and share how much our work has impacted their lives. For this we praise the Lord and are thankful. However, if we are to be good stewards it is imperative that we purposefully build rivers of revenue to support our work for the Lord. To do this, we need your help in connecting us with the right people.
If you know of any groups that want to have a Biblical presentation, Bob’s program “One Man’s Faith Walk - Happy In the Lord,” please provide us with the contact information. Bob’s presentation is a planned 45 minutes, but can be adjusted to meet the needs of the group. There is no charge for not-for-profit organizations unless the group is outside of Ohio and then travel reimbursement is requested. We also ask for permission to have products for sale at the event, but this is not required.
With only one book, and without national fame, we have had a lot of difficulty getting book signings in area bookstores. If you know someone who is connected with a retail bookstore, an introduction would be greatly appreciated.
Product Licensing Opportunities
We have tried several times to license our greeting cards and blank note cards. So far we have a drawer of rejections - all of which loved the art work and called it highly creative, but did not see the fit with their programs. If you know anyone in the licensing world, an introduction would be great!
If you know of small groups in your church that want to have a “speaker” and an evening of art appreciation with a Scriptural connection, please tell them about Adonai Art Designs. The typical program is an evening event with the host family providing the space, participants, and refreshments. The host family receives a framed giclee print.
Publicist/Commission Only Sales Position
If you know of anyone who would like to promote/sell our products and services, please have them contact us. This is not a salaried position and is commission only.
Thursday, August 5, 2010
But for those who fear you, you have raised a banner to be unfurled against the bow. Psalm 60:4 (NIV Bible)
As a former athlete and coach, I know the joy of winning and the feelings when you lose. All of my teams had a flag, or if you will, a banner. Now, these banners did not protect us in any way. However, we valued those banners and saw them as representing us as a team. This design represents the banner described in the Psalm. The banner is deflecting the arrows of the evil one, and protecting God’s people from harm.
As a small child I can remember being afraid during one of those typical violent Ohio thunderstorms. I was sitting on my Grandmother Gowitzka’s lap and she was reading to me from the Bible. She sensed my fear and comforted me and said, “Bobby, do not fear. Jesus told us that he will always be with us and protect us from harm.” Those words from Grandma have stayed with me all my life. No matter what happens in this life, Jesus guards our souls. As a Christian, I know that I am not of this world, but only am in it for a short time. And as it is written in Matthew 28:20, Jesus said, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Now, that’s what I call a great insurance policy!
My father’s mother, Lola Spence, had kept a journal. I did not know of its existence until more than twenty years after her passing. In one of her entries, Grandma wrote, “My prayer has been for a stronger faith, a clearer understanding and a love that passes all understanding, and I am getting it now. All the experiences I have passed through in this life have given me a deeper understanding of human nature. If you want true happiness, take Christ as your personal savior and put Him first above all other things and your life will be transformed. All worry and fear were replaced with faith and love when I made the important decision and took a definite stand for Christ.” In today’s world we hear the politicians talking about transforming our lives. I reject their claims! I reject their social justice! I reject their collective salvation! Instead, I commit my life to Jesus and the true transformation of lives! And like Grandma, I have made the decision and taken a stand for Christ, because He has secured the victory for us! AMEN!
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. God saw all he had made, and it was very good. Genesis 1:1 and 1:31 (NIV)
The original of this design is 18 inches by 24 inches. When I was doing this design, initially I had no idea where it was going or what it was to represent. Then, when I was about 50% finished, it was revealed to me; Creation! The Biblical account of creation speaks of light, sky, land, an expanse between the waters, vegetation, trees with fruit, stars, living creatures, animals, and man. While I do not claim to have captured all of that in this one design, I find the colors, movement, and explosion of the various shapes helps me feel the majesty of God and brings me closer to Him and His creation.
Have you seen the video, “Indescribable” by Lou Giglio? If you have not seen this production, you really need to make it a must-see! Using photographs of the Universe to highlight his presentation, Lou really brings home to you the immense size of the Lord’s creation. As I wrote in my book, In The Beginning...The Art of Bob Spence, Lou introduced me to Psalm 33, verses 6 and 9: By the word of the Lord were the heavens made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth. For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded and it stood firm. Yes, God’s greatness and creation are indeed indescribable!
So, what does this all mean for us in our daily lives in the marketplace? Let’s begin with Psalm 118:24. “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” How do you begin your day? With prayer? Reading Scripture? The Lord has given you this day. Now, what are you going to do with it? How about we try our best to walk as Jesus walked? Makes sense to me. In James 1:16-18 it is written; “Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first-fruits of all he created.” And what does James mean by the “word of truth?” The word of truth is Jesus! In this world of “social justice” and “group salvation” we must stand tall for the faith. And as Paul wrote to Timothy, 3:16, “All Scripture is God-breathed...” The Bible is the inerrant Word of God! Make sure your church is Bible-based and not one that is based on today’s society and its norms.
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 1 Corinthians 13:4 (NIV Bible)
I’m not sure how to draw “love” on paper. I have felt loved, and have loved. But, those are feelings. When I look at this drawing it makes me feel love because of the colors; the inviting green leaves, the warmth of the red fruit, the shining streaks of orange, and the gentle coolness of the blue shades. The red ribbon, for me, symbolizes the Spirit pulling us all together in the spirit of the love of Christ Jesus, who first loved us. When I ask friends which of my many designs is their favorite, more times than not this design is chosen. When I ask why this design, usually I am told they like it because of the bright colors and they find it inviting and pleasant to study.
In Luke 10:27, it is written: “He answered: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'" I find myself really okay with the first part, but to be honest I have to say the second part is not always very easy. Paul wrote in Romans 13:10; “Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” And behind all this is Deuteronomy 6:5; “Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” Scripture is clear. Why do we have so much trouble following it?
One of my favorite Bible verses is Micah 6:8. “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Do you know the thirty year old hymn, “They’ll Know We Are Christians By Our Love?” It really goes hand-in-hand with Micah 6:8. For example some of the phrases are; we are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord; we will work with each other, we will work side by side; we will walk with each other, we will walk hand in hand; and they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love. Wow! Talk about behavioral guidelines! Imagine a marketplace in which everyone lived like Jesus! As you go out into the marketplace, keep this in your thoughts - the evidence of the Lord Jesus is in us - now do what he commanded us to do; go out and tell people about Jesus while behaving as Jesus would expect of you.
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘you must be born again.’” John 3:5-7(NIV Bible)
This is one of my very first designs. If you look closely at this design, you will see sprouts coming from the base and then new sprouts coming from the original sprouts. Jesus was clear that we had to be born again of the water and Spirit. For me this design truly symbolizes the rebirth of us through the water and the spirit. When I started this adventure with the Lord, I chose this design as the signature piece for Adonai Art and it is now our logo. I saw this “art walk” as a new beginning in my relationship with the Lord.
In a letter to some friends, my Grandma Lola Spence wrote; “I have some real good news. I did want to wait to see you personally to tell you, but I can’t wait any longer. I was born again on October 26, 1947. It’s the most marvelous thing that has ever happened to me and I am getting happier all the time. I have given God the first and best place in my heart and I feel that is what I have wanted all my life.” You can feel her excitement through these written words.
In 1 Peter 1:23, it is written; "For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God." Having been born of water and the spirit, and having eternal life, we Christians ought to be like Jesus in all of our dealings with others. We have been distinguished by the sovereign grace of God, chosen from among all others, and not left to wallow in the pit. We are not to live like the “citizens of this world” but to be a light for others, clinging to the holiness of our Lord, Jesus Christ. At all times we are to avoid evil, even the very appearance of evil.
What does this tell us about our behavior in the marketplace? In our business dealings? In our relationships? With our friends and family members? As a born again Christian, born of water and the spirit, you are to be like Jesus and remember, you just might be the only Jesus someone sees today.
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13 (NIV Bible)
At first glance this design might appear whimsical and free-flowing without any sense of direction. As I worked on the design, I really felt a sense of peace and a strong sense of hope. At the time I did this design, business was really down. I could have been down or discouraged, but the Spirit pushed me and guided my pens. This free flowing design with multiple colors illustrates how our hearts are to be open and not anxious, but focusing on the cross and allowing the Holy Spirit to consume us. As you look at the design, open your heart and let the power of the Holy Spirit overflow and fill you with truth and the joy of Christ!
It is written in 2 Chronicles 7:14, “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” What has happened to this nation? Our hearts have turned away from the Lord. It amazes me how people have recently placed their faith and hope in arrogant politicians, who see themselves as perfect. Do they not know that joy, hope, peace and love come from the Lord and not from political figureheads? We must not fear or be anxious, but trust in the Lord.
As Christians in the marketplace we must not, we cannot be silent! In the Gospel of John, Chapter 17, verses 17-19, Jesus prayed, “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.” The world tells us Christians we must be tolerant, but what the world really means is we must capitulate to the ways of the world. In the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 10, verses 32-33, Jesus said, “Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven.” Simply stated, that means we stand up and speak for Jesus and we walk and talk as he did. We must not cower in fear or worry about being politically correct. While our political leaders have disowned Christ, I shall rise up and declare from the mountain tops that Jesus is Lord; the way, the light, and the truth! Where are you?
Monday, June 28, 2010
But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed. God will give to each person according to what he has done. Romans 2: 5-6 (NIV Bible)
Who will be judged? Everyone! Clearly, God is worthy of or our honor and gratitude, and yet, people do not give this to Him. Who are these people? We can find the answer in Romans 1:28-32; “Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.” Talk about convicting! There is more!
It is written in Luke 12: 4-5; (Jesus is speaking.) “I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.” There is no group and no one not subject to judgment; whether you be the President of the United States, a CEO, a member of congress, a teacher, a laborer, an actor, a pastor, a union leader, or any other person, you are subject to the judgment of God. This design reflects the judgment seat of God. It is regal. It is royal. It is commanding. It is over-powering. All will come before this Judgement Seat and will be judged. And in Romans 2:8, Paul writes; “But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.” Makes you think, doesn’t it!
It is by grace through faith we are saved; not of ourselves. But it is truly a gift from God. The way we respond to this gift is the key. Our deeds, our works do not earn us our salvation, but they show our faith and love for the Lord. It is recorded in Matthew 25:46 that Jesus said, “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” Trust in Christ and choose life, delighting in the glorious hope in Jesus!
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
(25) “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.” (33) “You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell? Matthew 23: 25 and 33 (NIV Bible)
I have to admit I thoroughly enjoy reading the 23rd chapter of the Gospel of Matthew. The power and strength of Jesus in his words thrills my heart and lifts my soul. He really puts it all on the line to the Pharisees. I like the first four verses; Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy loads and put them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.” If Jesus were here today, he could very well say the same thing! We have not come very far in 2000 years.
This design is to represent harsh authority. Notice how it is rigid and not free flowing. It is set and commanding. It portrays power and authority without love, hope and faith. It is not inviting. It is cold. It has authority without conviction. It represents what Jesus saw and heard from the Pharisees and it represents the same today. The design is actually clean and fine, but what is behind it? What lies hidden beneath it? It is filled with hypocrisy, lies, and self-serving. This design reminds us that, as written in Acts 4:20, we must speak; “For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” How long fellow Christians will we continue to be silent? How long will we continue to play the game called “politically correct” and not speak for Jesus?
In verse 12 of Matthew 23, Jesus said, “For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” Throughout this 23 chapter Jesus calls out woe on the Pharisees, calling them hypocrites, blind guides, blind men, white-washed tombs, snakes, vipers, and wicked. Today we have religious leaders who are moving away from the Gospel to the wishes of society. We have political leaders who care only about their station in life and what is in it for them. We must follow the law.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
For as the soil makes the sprout come up and a garden causes a seed to grow, sot he Sovereign Lord will make righteousness and praise spring up before all nations. Isaiah 61:11 (NIV)
In 1912 C. Austin Miles wrote the music and words to the song, In The Garden. As I drew this design, that song was reverberating in my mind. “I come to the garden alone...And He walks with me, and He talks with me, And tells me I am His own, And the joy we share as we tarry there, None other has ever known!” Now that is powerful! In this design I have drawn a garden with lush plantings and colorful expressions with a walking path. Imagine walking with the Lord in the garden, talking with Him, sharing your deepest thoughts and the joy you would feel as you walked amongst His creation. I can only imagine...Can you?
Sometimes people ask me what is my favorite verse in the Bible. That’s easy to answer - all of the verses are my favorites depending upon my need on a given day. Today I am thinking about Chapter 55 of Isaiah, verses 10-11; As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. If you have a garden you know the importance of moisture so that the plants will grow and provide food for you and family. As disciples, the marketplace is our garden. It is our task and responsibility to take God’s Word and deliver it to others. We are to nurture others with the Word so they too can grow in the Spirit.
It is written in Isaiah 58:11, The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. Jesus did not ask us to go and make disciples. He commanded. As Christians in the marketplace we must share God’s Word through not only telling others about Jesus, but also by being like Jesus. As a farmer tills the soil, so must we go out and work in the marketplace, telling them about our Lord. If we don’t do that, how will they know about Jesus? As Isaiah wrote, we will have the Lord guiding us and giving us the strength we need to do his will. Amen!
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Recently, Ted and Karen Ellis from Lexington, Ohio, purchased a print of my design, “Choose Life.” This is one of my favorite designs particularly due to the message it carries regarding the sanctity of life. The original was a commissioned work for me at the request of a high school classmate, Bob Snyder of Port Clinton, Ohio. The original is displayed in Port Clinton to help women make some important decisions.
Karen and Ted have displayed the print in their church, First English Lutheran Church in Mansfield, Ohio. Karen wrote this to me: “Thought you might like to see how we displayed the print in our contemporary worship space. Our service is called Proclaim, thus the Proclaim Welcomes You. Everyone thinks it looks wonderful and I understand a friend from church has ordered a second print from you!”
Here is some information about the design:
This design is dominated by the cross in the upper left quadrant illustrating the love of Christ for the children. The design illustrates joy and movement with the blocks, swinging cradles and the linking lines. The linking lines and ribbons create a sense of motion in the design and the two hanging cradles appear to be moving with the wind. As I prayed about and worked on this design, I found myself feeling and experiencing the joys of childhood, the feelings of love and trust. I remembered holding my new born son and daughter in my arms, and then years later my two grandchildren. Blessed be the Lord!
Children are a gift from God, as written in Genesis 33:5; Then Esau looked up and saw the women with the children. “Who are these with you?” he asked. Jacob answered, “They are the children God has graciously given your servant.” In today’s world, the killing of babies, called by some abortion while others call it a woman’s right to choose, we have lost sight of children and we are playing God. It is written in Deuteronomy, Chapter 30:19; This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. I believe that those who kill the children will, when they come face to face with Jesus, hear him say, “I do not know you.” Let us all Choose Life!
Thursday, June 10, 2010
I really appreciate the writings of Randy Alcorn. He has been a pastor and is the founder of Eternal Perspective Ministries (EPM). He is the author of over thirty books with over 4 million in print. I have read several of his Christian fiction books and his book, Heaven. I have also read his most recent book, If God is Good. In my June Book Reviews I am focusing on his works.
In his book, Heaven, Randy writes about Heaven from a purely Biblical base. I am on my third reading of the book, and am still learning more with each read. There is also a study guide to accompany the book and I strongly recommend that you purchase the guide with the book. As a child I guess I imagined Heaven as riding on a cloud with wings on my back and my hands strumming a harp. In this book your eyes will be opened to pictures of a wonderful and beautiful eternity. You will study and learn about the New Heaven and the New Earth based on actual Scriptural accounts. I have recommended this book to several friends who have taken time to purchase and read the book. Their feedback has always been positive and they have recommended the book to others!
His novel, Safely Home, won the 2002 Gold Medallion Award. This is a book that once you start reading it you cannot put it down. It holds your attention from the beginning to the exciting, heart-warming conclusion. The book focuses on the development of the Christian church in China. You will meet characters in the book who are totally committed to their faith no matter what the consequences. You will find yourself on the edge of your chair as you read about the lives of these people who put their faith in Jesus above everything. I have recommended this book often and the feedback is always a great big WOW! I have given copies of the book to others and they also have come back to me with a great big WOW! The book is paperback and available in most bookstores and on-line at Amazon.com.
If you have not read his Alcorn’s novel, Lord Foulgrin's Letters, you really need to get a copy and read it this Summer. You might not want to read it late at night as it will probably keep you awake. This book is frightening, convicting, and too real! I guarantee that you will see yourself in the pages of this book. You will, through Alcorn’s excellent writing skills, experience the feeling of pure evil in the world. You will experience the feelings of desperation of those who have taken their eyes off the cross. You will witness how evil weaves its vicious web through our earthly lives. And, you just might want to read this with a friend.
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
And sang the song of Moses the servant of God and the song of the Lamb: “Great and marvelous are your deeds, Lord God Almighty. Just and true are your ways, King of the ages. (NIV Bible)
I like to whistle. One day I started to draw and the hymn “Crown Him With Many Crowns” came into my mind. This drawing represents His crowns; Lord of life, Lord of love, Lord of peace, and Lord of years. The band at the bottom represents one crown with the others blended together above it. The crown of thorns placed on his head did not last. The Lamb of God replaced it with many crowns! This design is dedicated to Greg Keefer. You can read about Greg in my book, In The Beginning...The Art of Bob Spence.
Many years ago, when I wanted to be at baseball or basketball practice, my Mother had me at voice lessons. At the time I went under protest, but now, looking back, I sure am thankful she made me go to the lessons. Mom also taught me that when you sing a hymn, the music obviously is important, but pay attention to the words you are singing. Many times a hymn is from the Psalms and is a prayer. In Revelation, Chapter 4, verse 10-11, it is written, They lay their crowns before the throne and say: “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power,” for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.” Know any songs with these words? I am sure you do. How about the hymn, Holy, Holy, Holy?
What crowns do we lay at His feet? Could they be our acts of mercy? Could they be the times we stood up for Christ? Could they be the times we helped those in need? Could they be the people we introduced to Christ? Think about it. And while you are, turn to the Book of James, Chapter 2, verse 17 in the Message: Isn’t it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense? And read on in verse 22, Faith and works, works and faith, fit together hand in glove. Wow! As you go out into the marketplace, the way you conduct yourself reflects your faith. There is no option. You must do all you can to be like Jesus. Our nation is going in the wrong direction. If we do not stand for the Lord, who will?
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
Splendor and Glory
For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the Lord made the heavens. Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and glory are in his sanctuary. (NIV Bible)
In this Psalm, the Hebrew for the word glory is radiant beauty to herald the exalted nature of the one, universal King. I wanted this design to be bright, colorful, and radiant to reflect the greatness of the universe created by our God. The design is a series of unique “stars” all known to the Lord by name!
Got any idols? You know what I mean. Idols such as described by Tim Keller in his book, Counterfeit Gods: empty promises of money, sex, and power! (By the way if you have not read this book you really need to pick up a copy and read it.) It is written in Psalm 84:1, How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord Almighty; and in verse 10, Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; and in verse 11, For the Lord God is a sun and a shield. Then in Psalm 97:6-7 it is written, The heavens proclaim his righteousness, and all the peoples see his glory. All who worship images are put to shame. We do not need idols!
In Psalm 86:11-12, it is written, Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. I will praise you, O Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever. Walking in God’s truth as marketplace Christians means that we glorify the Lord in all that we do. We place him first. We do as Jesus commanded and go out into the marketplace and make disciples. It means that we place all of our hope in the Lord and not in men. It means that we stand up for Jesus and do not back down when confronted by naysayers. It means that we accept the Bible as the inerrant word of God and do not stand for “societal interpretations.” Our God is strong and all the glory is his as the creator of all that is seen and unseen.