Living at the convergence of faith and art.

Posts tagged “books

Guest Post: Back it up With Scripture!

Faith Rockrimmon is an author (Rose Rock Book Link, Rejection & Identity I, II), a blogger, and someone who generously shares the insights that Father God gives her.  When I read this blog post I saw so much of my own journey, that I asked Faith if she’d mind if I re-posted it to Creative Harmonies.  She graciously agreed, and here’s that gift.  I hope that you’re spiritually nourished, as I was.  Enjoy.

BACK IT UP WITH SCRIPTURE!

 

scripture

How many times have I been asked, “can you back it up with scripture?”  And then I have to explain that I don’t require that from Father.  Whoa, that annoys them!

I’m completely aware that it’s been done this way for a hundred years, but like so many other traditions, Father eventually tips them over.  And then I stand in fear and amazement at what He’s done.

Some years ago, when Father showed me a new insight or revelation, I’d put my hand up and stop Him from going too far.  Looking back I think it was a horrible response.  But, He didn’t seem offended. He waited patiently while I scoured scriptures and commentaries for confirmation.  Only then could I embrace His gift and experience the thrill of receiving it.

study

It was quite a time-consuming process that delayed my joy.  And eventually, it occurred to me that I could pick and chose scripture “at will” to fit any slant of any subject.  It was a game.  Like a puzzle.  And I was the mastermind.  Somehow that didn’t taste very sweet, but that was how it was done.  It was the accepted process.

Then came revelations that opposed accepted theology.  And I couldn’t find anything to back them up.  It would appear that I was creating my own version of Christianity, which was not my heart.  37 thousand denominations were quite more than enough for everyone.   So immediately I suffered a crisis of faith, wondering if I had been duped by satan all along thinking it was God’s voice I was hearing.

Oh, the heartbreak and tears as I begged Him to save me from this horrible pit.  For days, my heart churned.  I’d trusted Him.  And now this.

Now I wondered.  I doubted.  Who was I talking to and would Father save me?  Slowly I asked questions full of suspicion and mistrust.

But He still wasn’t offended, and He quickly responded with information.  It explained why my revelation wasn’t common knowledge.  And as this happened time after time, a pattern developed.   It was usually fairly simple.

Sometimes a translation wasn’t accurate.  Sometimes the context wasn’t considered.  And sometimes, the history of society wasn’t understood.   Behaviors of a period change the meaning.  Words and phrases change quickly.  Our own society has new words and phrases that were unknown 50 years ago.  All these factors change things.  Scripture isn’t simply black and white.

Here are a few examples.  “When pigs fly.”  “That’ll cost an arm and a leg.”  “You let the cat out of the bag.”  “Break a leg.”  Or “That’s a piece of cake.”  We know what they mean but imagine someone from 600 B.C. reading one of them.   What a wrong concept they would have simply by reading what we wrote in black and white.

“It’s right there in black and white” is the response when I explain how quickly words change.  And Christianity has great tunnel vision in this regard.

Imagine if you “wrote on someone’s wall” even a 100 years ago or “had a troll on my thread”.  A pioneer would think you were crazy!

So imagine my surprise when I discovered that “turning the tables” was an everyday occurrence in the temple.  Merchants turned their tables to the wall to indicated they had closed up shop for the day.

Well now, that puts a whole new twist on Jesus’s actions.  Maybe He didn’t have a temper tantrum after all.

books

And imagine my surprise at discovering the everyday phrase for Nero, the emperor, was “The Beast”.  Is it possible John in the book of Revelation, was talking to people who’d know exactly what he meant?  That could totally change our doctrine.

And what if, Father never meant for us to make scripture superior to hearing His voice?  Maybe it was meant for inspiration and guidance, but not in place of God, Himself.

Time after time, the overwhelming evidence of our flawed theology stunned me and I’d sit staring out the window at the mountains.  It was beginning to appear that almost nothing about our doctrines was constructed appropriately.  And this revelation put me at odds with most of my fellow believers.  If I ever opened my mouth, I was going to be explaining myself rather than sharing a revelation.

Then I had an epiphany, after once again asking Father to wait while I researched.  He always said, “Take your time.  I’ll be waiting.”  But suddenly I realized I was stalling my moment of joy.  Not only that, I was slowing down my progress.  And for what?

How quickly might I progress if I stopped putting the brakes on Him every time?  And how important was it for everyone to understand me before I continued?  Did I really need anyone to agree with me at all?

It was certainly a light-bulb moment.  And to top it off, Father had proven Himself to me so many times that I was completely, and absolutely confident He was able to prove everything He said, anytime I needed Him to do so.  He wasn’t able to lie.  And He obviously knows a whole lot more about everything, than I do.

chair

I stopped worrying about who’s voice I was hearing.  We’d had so many conversations that I recognized His voice now. I had no more doubts about His identity because His most overwhelming trait is that Love that becomes apparent in every one of His conversations.  It is most assuredly the greatest Love ever imaginable and it’s never superficial, or vain, or trite.  Nothing evil can imitate it.  It truly is the ultimate proof of Him.

That moment was like taking the training wheels off a bike and trusting gravity to work the same way every time.  It’s completely freeing, and wild.  I knew it looked dangerous and reckless to those watching me.  So how would I convince them that God was really holding the bike up?

I didn’t know.  So, I continued searching scriptures for confirmation in an effort to convince and assure others.

But it didn’t last long.  It was quickly clear that those were very dingy, controlling reins.  And they don’t work.  No matter how much proof I could gather, there would always be people who wouldn’t buy it.  They would always think bad things and say mean things about me.  Always.

That’s because people do 2 things when presented with an idea contrary to their normal beliefs.  They accept it instantly.  Or they reject it instantly.  Neither of these decisions requires proof.  It is simply a human trait.

One group will dig deeper and the other will be long gone.

Father gave me one more insight.  It isn’t my job to make sure people believe me.  The truth is placed in front of them so they can pursue proof on their own.  That’s what He wants – our undivided attention, reaching for truth.

searching

So when I share, it’s not to convince anyone or make them follow me. It’s to coax them to come searching on their own.  Father doesn’t need my assistance holding their hand because He didn’t need anyone holding mine.  He used all sorts of people along the way, speaking messages they sometimes weren’t even aware He was using.

Ironically, I thought Father was guiding me toward ordination.  I took courses from 2 bible schools and I smile at the wonderful things I learned.  And I chuckle at the things Father proved wrong in the process.  Eventually, I understood He wasn’t heading me toward formal theological education.  And for a minute I was heartbroken.  But He said, “I want to teach you, myself.”  And I couldn’t resist.  It’s like the most intimate invitation from the best teacher in the universe.  How special could I possibly feel?

I loved the first time He gave me a message through an atheist lady.  She had just finished telling me why God didn’t exist and her very next sentence was the answer to a question I had asked Him earlier.  It didn’t fit into her conversation and I’m not sure she was aware that she’d said it.  Had Father just abused her free will?  Actually, I think He had only abused that ugly spirit that was riding on her.

Anyway, I’ve seen Him lead a woman all her life, who’s never stepped inside a church.  And I’ve seen Him speak through someone who didn’t believe in Him.  He doesn’t need my help to fix others.  He simply wants me to share my stories and revelations.  He’ll take it from there.

“Study to show thyself approved” isn’t instructing us to memorize scripture and argue effectively with each other.  It’s a compliment to “Seek and ye will find” because there are billions of “pearls of great price” worthy of attaining.  They are all inside His presence.

music“My sheep know My voice, and a stranger they do not hear.”

So how does it happen that someone hears Father say something and another person hears something different?  That’s pretty simple.  It’s maturity and intimacy.  A 5-year-old child doesn’t get the same answer from their Dad that a 15-year-old gets.  That doesn’t mean the 5-year-old’s answer was a lie.  It was appropriate.

A stranger doesn’t get the same answer from a man that his wife will get.  That’s because his wife is not only intimate with him, but she has a history with him and knows things about him that the stranger couldn’t know.  Father wants that kind of intimacy with us, where He can share His heart and we’ll understand what He means simply because we know Him so well.

It’s how a relationship works.  And it’s so much better than scraping together a bunch of scriptures to prove what I just saw.  Father is still the greatest teacher of the Universe and He always will be.

Thank you for sharing my journey and I send blessings with you on yours.

Faith

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The Artist’s Call

At the heart of Christian humanism is the effort to achieve a new synthesis between the condition of the world around us and the unique ways in which grace can speak to that condition. That is how art created by Christians will touch the lives of those who encounter it.”

pgs 23-24 / Beauty Will Save the World / Gregory Wolfe

faithbooks-smlThis year I’ve been reading a lot of books. My favorite non-fiction subjects are faith, art, and the convergence. In my readings I’ve noticed a trend. I am a global-thinker after all. The trend is that a good many Christian authors are calling upon God’s artists to rise up and make a culture changing difference in this hour, in this season.

Here are five titles I’ve read on Faith & Art which populate my Artist’s Desk Library. First up is a master classic by Dr. Calvin Seerveld; arts advocate / former professor of philosophy & literature, Institute of Christian Studies, Toronto. His book, Rainbows for a Fallen World. Seerveld is definitely a weighty read but he’s adamant in his call to God’s artists to take their gifting extremely seriously.

I believe that my Lord wants us as his people to be busy in the birth of a culture – in daily, long-range cultural obedience – as an ordained way to spread the Good News of his rule.”

pg 48 / Rainbows for the Fallen World / Calvin Seerveld

Secondly, there’s cultural commentator / pastor / author Dick Staub whose Culturally Savvy Christian has a chapter specifically calling God’s artists to take their gifts very seriously and make a difference in American culture.

I believe that cultural enrichers from the arts are the best hope for transforming today’s popular culture. The restoration of the artistic endeavor is as close to God’s heart as redemption, because it is evidence of that redemption.”

pgs 179, 180 / The Culturally Savvy Christian / Dick Staub

Next up is artist / composer-musician / author Manuel Luz and his book, Imagine That. He joins other voices calling God’s artists to realize the power of their God-given gifts and to use them to Father’s glory.

We, as artists who follow Christ, need to tell our story, render our personal expressions of redemption to the world. And tell them with artistry and beauty and grace. And in doing so, we hint at the grander story of God.”

pg 70 / Imagine That / Manuel Luz

Next is artist / author / speaker Matt Tommey and his compassionate, encouraging work, Unlocking the Heart of the Artist.

You were created to co-labor with Christ in the Kingdom of God through your unique creative expression. You were created to reflect, reveal, and release the Glory of God in the earth through your art.”

pg 28 / Unlocking the Heart of the Artist / Matt Tommey

And last in this grouping, Christ (like wrist) Otto’s clarion call; An Army Arising: Why Artists are on the Frontline of the Next Move of God. Like all of these authors, Otto sets a very serious tone for God’s artists, strongly encouraging a deep, personal, relationship with Father God as the vital foundation of an effective arts practice in the service of the Lord.

Jesus [is] working as an artisan; and he is also raising up the artisan. These ones who have seemed to have no value in the world system, are now being called as the end time secret weapon. This is the moment for the artist to arise. This is the moment for the artist to make a way. This is the moment for the artist to be the sermon.”

pg 26 / An Army Arising / Christ (like wrist) Otto

Combined, regardless of each author’s emphasis, these five writers are calling God’s artists to get on with making culturally influential, God glorifying, top quality work, regardless of the media used; dance & movement, writing, collage / mixed-media, painting, theatre, or music, for example. All five are adamant about excellence and decry the overwhelming flood of sloppy, embarrassingly bad work labeled “Christian Art.” And all five writers stress, in no uncertain terms, that the effectiveness and quality of the work is directly proportional to the depth and intimacy of the artist’s relationship with God Himself.

From many quarters I am hearing and reading about a New Renaissance. What that looks like or actually means is anybody’s guess, but when these five writers are motivated by the Spirit of God to write such deeply serious calls to God’s artists, I figure we ought to listen up and heed the call. The Holy Spirit is calling us to action. As Calvin Seerveld wrote, “God forbid that any of the little believing ones should be caught stumbled or napping when He returns, with their talent of aesthetic life tucked away, wrapped up in a hole in the ground.” pg 48 / Rainbows / Seerveld.

Please allow me to add my own voice to the call of these, and many other, artists and authors; Our gifts are God-given and blood-bought. We have a divine purpose. The Master has endowed us, entrusted to us, the responsibility to take up our pens, our brushes, and cameras and create works of the highest quality in whatever way the Spirit leads us. We’re unique in how we see the world, and uniquely equipped and empowered to make seen the unseen mysteries of our faith in our Creator God who loves each of us so very much.


Books & Bindings

Coptic Journal - by Lewis M. Curtiss jr~What is it about a book – the book – that so many find so absolutely captivating? I mean, the thing doesn’t even need to be filled with words and pictures to be an almost sacred object in the hands of an admirer. I love them. I love making them.

I make books in my art practice. I bind pages together with thread and string and sell them or give them to a select few. Mine are simple creations following centuries old methods developed by those early peoples who saw a desperate need to organize and offer knowledge to their fellow mankind.

Today handmade books are considered optional in the face of our digital technologies. My books are considered a quaint little contemporary craft, and I’m certainly not the only one making them. There’s a whole industry of amateur crafters, craftsmen, artists, and artisans who make books by hand; people who just put together a few pages of fun or who create archival wonders of breath-taking beauty; a gift to future generations.

I find myself drawn to the book, as an object, for several reasons. It is used to gather and store information and knowledge; it’s a vessel. It’s a transmitter used to broadcast ideas, knowledge, and information across time and space. Do you know that we’d know nothing of Biblical events if there were no Bible, or of the mind of Caesar were it not for his campaign journals?

The book, or the pamphlet, was the first human end-run used by the masses to get around the stifling control of their oppressive contemporary gatekeepers. Today we use the internet, but there was a time when hand copies, and later the printing press, was the fastest means of “broadcasting” information into the hands of “the people”.

I like the book because it needs no batteries, it is, itself a random-access memory device, it’s beautiful (when well made), and portable.Handstitching a Coptic binding. I like the book because it represents humankind’s first, best, means of long-term remembering, and I won’t even venture into the utterly fascinating history of its development. Let me just say that the book is one of humanity’s greatest inventions.

We accumulate, don’t we. We add knowledge upon knowledge, generation to generation in the hopes of passing along whatever wisdom we seem to have discovered in our own lives. I am reminded of the scene in Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings, where Gandalf consulted ancient dust-covered texts.

Writing a book is like tossing a lifeline into the future. We still read the “classics”; To Kill a Mockingbord, Moby Dick, A Christmas Carol, Wuthering Heights, and legion upon legions of others. We still glean these works for the wisdom, or life-lessons we value. The vessel is still needed.

I loved books long before I ever thought about making my own. Like most people I love them for their content. But in making books, in actually folding paper, gluing up and covering the boards, in sewing the signatures (page sections) together I become intimately aware of the technological marvel they are.

Books so simple – a pile of pages with protective boards on both sides. Without the binding the pages would be loose-leaf, a mere stack, and could be lost or damaged. Because they’re sewn together, they stay together and retain what they have to tell us.

Without cover boards, this stack of pages would eventually wear away with handling and storage, and so slightly over-sized boards, sometimes of wood even, are incorporated into the binding, and this highly organized, information gathering tool becomes a book.

What I like about the simple utilitarian journals I make is the gift they are to the lives of the people who buy them. It’s like making a dream-catcher, or a memory box for others. People can fill the blank pages with whatever suits their fancy, and I made the vessel which they fill, embellish, and personalize. I got to give them a place to think, remember, and share their life experiences.

Punching stitching holes for a Coptic binding.When one journal is full, they buy another, and continue their collecting, exploring, grieving, celebrating, and thinking. With the books I make by hand, people cast their own life line into the future of their own families and friends.

And it never runs out of power; never looses its readable format. One day it may be opened by a grandchild and in their hands become a window into the life of someone they love.