Proverbs 1

For the month of March as a community we are going to get into the word of God and look together at the book of Proverbs.

Daily we will be posting up one chapter of proverbs along with an illustration that has been created to go with it.

We still have the need for a few illustrations, so if you have the time to provide one to share then please get in touch!

Proverbs 1

Prologue: Purpose and Theme
1 The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel:

2 for attaining wisdom and discipline;
for understanding words of insight;

3 for acquiring a disciplined and prudent life,
doing what is right and just and fair;

4 for giving prudence to the simple,
knowledge and discretion to the young-

5 let the wise listen and add to their learning,
and let the discerning get guidance-

6 for understanding proverbs and parables,
the sayings and riddles of the wise.

7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge,
but fools [a] despise wisdom and discipline.

Exhortations to Embrace Wisdom

Warning Against Enticement

8 Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction
and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.

9 They will be a garland to grace your head
and a chain to adorn your neck.

10 My son, if sinners entice you,
do not give in to them.

11 If they say, “Come along with us;
let’s lie in wait for someone’s blood,
let’s waylay some harmless soul;

12 let’s swallow them alive, like the grave, [b]
and whole, like those who go down to the pit;

13 we will get all sorts of valuable things
and fill our houses with plunder;

14 throw in your lot with us,
and we will share a common purse”-

15 my son, do not go along with them,
do not set foot on their paths;

16 for their feet rush into sin,
they are swift to shed blood.

17 How useless to spread a net
in full view of all the birds!

18 These men lie in wait for their own blood;
they waylay only themselves!

19 Such is the end of all who go after ill-gotten gain;
it takes away the lives of those who get it.

Warning Against Rejecting Wisdom

20 Wisdom calls aloud in the street,
she raises her voice in the public squares;

21 at the head of the noisy streets [c] she cries out,
in the gateways of the city she makes her speech:

22 “How long will you simple ones [d] love your simple ways?
How long will mockers delight in mockery
and fools hate knowledge?

23 If you had responded to my rebuke,
I would have poured out my heart to you
and made my thoughts known to you.

24 But since you rejected me when I called
and no one gave heed when I stretched out my hand,

25 since you ignored all my advice
and would not accept my rebuke,

26 I in turn will laugh at your disaster;
I will mock when calamity overtakes you-

27 when calamity overtakes you like a storm,
when disaster sweeps over you like a whirlwind,
when distress and trouble overwhelm you.

28 “Then they will call to me but I will not answer;
they will look for me but will not find me.

29 Since they hated knowledge
and did not choose to fear the LORD,

30 since they would not accept my advice
and spurned my rebuke,

31 they will eat the fruit of their ways
and be filled with the fruit of their schemes.

32 For the waywardness of the simple will kill them,
and the complacency of fools will destroy them;

33 but whoever listens to me will live in safety
and be at ease, without fear of harm.”

Illustration by Tanya Nichols

Hope in the message…or the medium?

Stage Lights

It’s a very simple question yet deserves a thoughtful answer: where is your hope? In the message? Or the medium?

We live in an age where there can be a lot of pressure upon churches to have the very latest technology, to do away with the hymn books and have projected words displayed on an animated graphic or to have some well-produced video montage instead of a sermon.

None of this in and of itself is wrong but sometimes I find myself wondering whether we have misplaced our hope and are building upon sand. I’m reminded of the words written by Paul,

‘You’ll remember, friends, that when I first came to you to let you in on God’s master stroke, I didn’t try to impress you with polished speeches and the latest philosophy. I deliberately kept it plain and simple: first Jesus and who he is; then Jesus and what he did-Jesus crucified.’ – 1 Corinthians 2:1-2 (MSG)

Wow! Read that again. Now I hope I can draw out some parallels for us as Christians and artists in particular. I’ve been a youth worker (unofficially) for a few years now and have noticed something striking. Many of the youth conferences that I have been to have had incredibly loud music, a polished band with up to three drum kits (!) and impressive lighting and visual effects and video clips – pretty much everything you could want if you had a huge budget at your disposal! The last thing I want to do is pour cold water upon all the hard work that so many passionate Christians have done for Jesus, but I still feel uneasy. It seems to me that it is incredibly easy to get so caught up in all the hype and gadgets and loseWeight Exercise sight of Jesus in the midst of it. Let us be blunt. Why is it that someone comes to follow Christ? Is it not because the person of Jesus and his love in dying on the cross becomes irresistible and we desire to follow a God who became man and is with us in all our suffering and despair and offers hope for a messed up world?

I think sometimes we put way too much confidence in the method with which we communicate. Obviously, if we have a really ‘cool’ youth pastor and a smoke machine at our youth services, will not the young people come to church and love Jesus? But what happens when the world offers them better entertainment or simply the church can’t afford to have youth services that smack of relevancy?

I don’t want to sound cynical or dismissive, that is not my heart. But this is a plea to the church to get back down on our knees and cry out to Jesus. Put your faith in the message of Jesus and not the medium.

So what does this mean for us as artists? It means that we should continue to create the very best art we can that will declare to the world how much we cherish and value our Saviour! It means that we should strive to offer Him all of our talents and follow Him wherever He may lead. But it also means that the art should not become more important than the message we are trying to convey. It means that we should draw attention to the message and not allow our art to detract attention away from the message. It means than in the end we realise that our art will not save people – the gospel will! And perhaps most important of all we should realise that if we truly desire to communicate the message of Christ through our art then people will walk away and criticise it…

‘For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written:

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;

the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”

Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.’ – 1 Corinthians 1:18-25

Love in Him,

– Joe

Presenting testimonies to this generation

Vintage Mic

“I shall remember the deeds of the LORD; Surely I will remember Your wonders of old.” – Psalm 77:11

Testimonies are powerful things. Check out the outcome of Jesus’ conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4: her testimony is part of a great move of God in a Samaritan village. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you all this. Other than the Bible, the books that have most transformed my Christian view and walk have been the stories of God working in people’s lives. These have included gangsters becoming evangelists (“Run Baby Run” – Nicky Cruz), the beginning of modern missions to inland China (Hudson Taylor – “A man in Christ”) and stories of what God is doing in modern day China (Brother Yun – “The Heavenly Man”). Not only these famous ones, but also testimonies from friends of things big and small. Stories catch people off-guard who are otherwise closed to talking about God. It is easy to argue with a theology. It is a lot harder to argue with that theology when it comes through in someone’s story.

I am aware that many people do find reading difficult, or are just too busy to sit down and read an entire book of someone’s testimony.  This is particularly true for non-Christians who are interested in exploring the Christian faith. Also, just the nature of distributing books means that people are unlikely to come into copies of testimonies unless someone gives one to them directly (side note: give out testimonies! It can be a powerful ministry in itself!). Finally, many encouraging testimonies of our friends may never be written up and published.

So how can we address these difficulties of presenting one of our most powerful tools? This might be where you come in. An encouraging trend recently has been the production of testimonies in non-book forms. The story of Nate Saint, Jim Elliot and the other men martyred in Ecuador during the 1950’s was recently made into a film. Brother Yun’s testimony has been produced as a manga comic. David Wilkerson’s “The Cross and the Switchblade” was even made into a theatrical play. I see openings for more innovative presentations like this.

Consider over the coming weeks translating your own story, that of a friend or of a Christian who has greatly inspired you into whatever you do best. If you’re a painter, paint a testimony. If a musician, sing or rap it. If you’re into poetry, video making, drawing, sculpture or whatever else, there is so much room to tell of the “deeds of the Lord”. Like the Samaritan woman or the many others who had their lives changed through meeting Jesus, we don’t have to say anything too complex. We have tasted and seen that the Lord is good – let us share our discoveries with those around us!

-Stephen

What is Color?

What is Color?

Before we attempt to control it, let’s explore a bit about what color is and how we sense and specify it.

Light

Light is actually “electromagnetic energy,” of the same general category as X-Rays, AM/FM Radio Waves, and Microwaves. Visible band light occurs between the wavelenghts of approximately 400 billionths of a meter and 700 billionths of a meter. Blue/Violet light has the shortest wavelength, Green an intermediate length, and Red the longest wave. Visible band light just happens to be the range of electromagnetic energy we collect and sense with our eyes and brain.

Just beyond the visible band’s Blue area is Ultraviolet. Infrared exceeds the visible band as wavelength increases. The wavelengths of light are very important when dealing with optical systems because light of various wavelenghts acts differently entering particular mediums (such as lens glass, lens coatings, and even the air between lens elements).

One of the most important fundamental issues about color-one that will appear in this series of basic tutorials regularly-is that while light is remarkably reliable our ability to sense it is not. Vision may vary drastically from individual to individual-reasons may include pathologies (such as diabetes and color blindness), environmental conditions such as how dark it is or the color of ambient light, and even psychological states (the viewer’s mood)!

One of the most common methods of portraying color is called the Color Wheel. Think about a compass: The top will be 0 degrees (or 360 degrees if you wish), with Green at 120 degrees (1/3/ of the 360 degree wheel) and Blue at 240 degrees.

Color WheelThis is consistent with Adobe’s Color Picker layout:

Color Picker

You’ll notice that Blue’s Hue value in the Color Picker’s “HSB” section is showing 240 degrees, corresponding to our Color Wheel above. Hue is the technical name for what you may think of as fundamental color, while Saturation (S) is the purity and Brightness (B) is the luminance value of color-they’re expressed in percent. More on what a Gamut is and how it is measured later…

You can identify color by a number of different methods. The HSB system above is not as common as the RGB system (RGB obviously represents “Red, Green, Blue”) in which Red, Green, and Blue are used as the underlying mixing system. There are other color schemas such as CMYK, L*a*b*, and even schemas for individual devices (such as your monitor and printer). Don’t be intimidated-the strange language we use to talk about them gives a false impression of their actual complexity.

Note this Color Picker showing the HSB and RGB values for a particular color:

Color Picker HSB and RGB values

All four color systems (HSB, RGB, Lab, and CMYK) are actually reading values for the very same color. The value at the bottom of the Color Picker, which is preceded by the pound sign (“#”), is a hexadecimal notation for the specified color used in applications such as .xml and .html.

On your own study: A human vision primer

– Leo

Solomons Temple and the Modern Church

This is a guest post from our friend Thomas Loving (aka @DreadedRafifi). Thomas has a fantastic blog where he tends to pick apart obscure bits of scripture in a fantastic way.

Cherubim

Have you ever taken the time to read about the temple Solomon built for God? David spent the latter part of his life hoarding treasure and materials for the construction of the temple and Solomon took a little over seven years building it. To say the least, it was huge and amazing (you can read a full account here 1 Kings 6 – 7).

It was about 90 feet long, 30 feet wide, and 45 feet tall. The inside of the temples walls were overlaid with gold. To light the inside he hung cross sections of gold chains that held golden oil lamps. Standing in the center of the temple, just before the inner chambers where the Ark of the Covenant rested, were two carved images of Cherubim (angels) standing 15 feet tall. Their wings were 15 feet wide each touching one wall with the inner wings touching each other. They too were overlaid with Gold.

The descriptions of the temple and its furnishings are both beautiful and detailed. They conjure images of holiness, beauty and a lavish grandeur the likes of which we may never see again in the world.

The imagery the artists used are such a contrast to today’s modern churches that sometimes don’t have any art or even a cross hung in their place of worship. Not that this modern style is a bad thing, but as a designer I can’t help but imagine the modern church as a blank canvas compared to Solomon’s temple. It’s almost as if the church is waiting for its artists and creators to wake them up to the beauty of God’s love.

We are made in the image of God and our God is a creator. We create because He first did. Sometimes I feel that the modern church has forgotten this aspect of God. But you and I-the designers, artists, musicians, writers, creators-we haven’t forgotten. How can we convince the church to not only make room for but also to encourage more art? Have you built any golden Cherubim lately? Think it’s time to try?

– DreadedRafifi

A Barnabus Community of Encouragement

Hands

Amongst our growing community here at Artists for Christ we may have some people with the heart of Paul – church planters, proclaimers, pioneers. We may have some people with the heart of Bezalel (Exodus 35:30 – 36:2) – wanting to prepare beautiful things for the Lord, creating physical art for reasons of worship and as a demonstration to others of God’s magnificence. We may have David’s and Asaph’s – anointed musicians and poets, forming masterful works of praise and celebration. But I hope and pray that in amongst all of these, we have some with the heart of Barnabus.

Barnabus only comes up a few times in the New Testament but is worthy of our attention. I want to highlight the two main passages in Acts that demonstrate his heart. Firstly, after Saul has had his amazing conversion on the road to Damascus (becoming Paul), he is healed and commissioned by Ananias, and then comes to Jerusalem. Acts 9:26 tells us that “he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple”. Stop for a minute. What could have happened next? Saul, the new believer in Christ could have become disheartened, and never come into fellowship with the other leaders of the early church. Now two important words in verse 27: “But Barnabus…”. Barnabus takes Saul, encourages him, and speaks to the disciples about all that God is doing in Saul’s life, how Saul has become a faithful witness. This is a pivotal moment in a pivotal life, and the encouragement by Barnabus is key.

Skip onto chapter 11. The first church in Antioch has been started, and it’s the first church that is formed of gentiles (non-Jews). This is another pivotal moment. The church leaders in Jerusalem are perhaps wary of what is happening, whether it is truly the work of the Holy Spirit – so they send Barnabus to check it out. Barnabus arrives and “saw the evidence of the grace of God, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts”. And so began the church of Antioch, the missionary sending base of the early church and the first place that Jesus-followers were called Christians.  The key point of all of this: Barnabus was used by God for great and wonderful works through the encouragement he gave.

Friends, I think this is an area where we have to fight against the prevailing attitude of the world. Artists, writers and musicians in the secular world are often in fierce competition, trying to get “one-up” on each other. There is a slowness to encourage, as it might imply that others are better. Even encouragement given to one another can be empty, half-hearted, or with false motivation. Many of us are already on the right track in dealing with these issues, but I want to encourage us all to become a “Barnabus Community”.

What could this “Barnabus Community” look like? It could look like artists truly taking an interest in each other’s passions for what God is doing in them. It could look like creative people sometimes recommending other people above themselves, not because they’re lazy, but because they want to see others built up in their gifts. It could look like people laying down their desires to be centre stage, and learning how to rejoice in God being glorified, whoever is being used as the vessel.

It could look stunningly beautiful.

– Stephen

What you were made for

What you were made for

“He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labour, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who has need.” – Ephesians 4:28

A Stolen Purpose

There is a beauty to be found in doing what you’re made for; in devoting time and energy to something that brings about a new experience or object, a thing to be shared and that reveals even the tiniest part of the awesome character of God.

Yet there are occasions when the amazing plans and designs of God are corrupted, distracted from their function, and their purpose is stolen from them.

Psalm 19:1 tells us that “The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands”… I wonder if anyone has ever told that to newspaper psychics and horoscope writers, who tell thousands, maybe millions, of readers the disasters that will befall them over the course of the next 24 hours, or the way in which their love life is going to progress, all divined, apparently, from observing the heavens. Where did the universe go so wrong that we now look up to the sky and see not the wondrous God we serve but instead we seek direction from planetary movements and characters from Greek and Egyptian myths?

The same seems to have happened in many cases with art. Whatever its form, art has the power to convey any range of ideas. I have seen amazing work that has spoken to me of the power and glory of God, but I’ve also found so many creative works that are solely designed to destroy the image of the God who originally thought of them. When was its purpose stolen?

Gifted For Glory

The first account we have of God directly giving any form of spiritual gift is found in Exodus. After sharing instructions for His designs for the Tabernacle we’re told of a command that God makes; that “every skilful person in whom the Lord has put skill and understanding to know how to perform all the work in the construction of the sanctuary, shall perform in accordance with all that the Lord has commanded.”

God gifted artists and designers to build a dwelling place for Him, to construct somewhere in which His glory could rest and He could be worshipped. The middle part of this passage teaches us something beautiful about the purpose of art, that it is to be used in the building of a sanctuary, a place for people to seek God and hear from him.

Creativity can be used to create an environment where God is present, where we can seek Him, worship Him and where those in need can be supported, encouraged and built up. It is to be shared, to declare His beauty and power. That is the stolen purpose of art. What you were made for.

So let art tell of the glory of God, let creativity declare the work of His hands. Whether you are a painter, writer, musician, cinematographer, photographer or random scribbler, let that which you create speak of the one you love, the one who inspired all you make and He to whom all the glory is given. Our glorious God.

– Luke

Writers! Be Confident

Fountain Pen

“There is a conversation about God going on in popular culture that the church is not engaged in and is often unaware of.”

The above quote comes from a book called A Matrix of Meaning and is part of a call to Christians to start promoting work within [what Christians would call] the secular industry.

I have been thinking about this a lot recently, due to an essay I had to write on the engagement of Christians within popular culture and would like to share a little bit of what I have been thinking about with you.

I love reading. It does not really matter what it is that I am reading, so long as I am reading something. However I have always struggled to read christian fiction, possibly because I have an underlying belief that if christian fiction cannot make it into mainstream bookstores, it must be terrible.

I have made a mistake

I am beginning to believe that the trouble stems not from the fiction, but where the fiction is being aimed at. Maybe the reason why we do not see a large amount of christian fiction is because its aimed at the christian market within christian sellers.

Can Christians not write meaningful fiction that can be enjoyed by all? of course! I was very amazed to find a copy of ‘The Shack’, [for those that do not know, this is a recent book written by William Young, about a man’s encounter with God] in my local bookstore, which shows that such fiction can be aimed at the mass market.

Often we see everyone outside of church as just people we either need to avoid or evangelise till they become one of us. We could however choose to see them as people on a journey, just like us, searching for something bigger who might just find something worthwhile in something a christian has written.

What I am trying to do is encourage writers to be confident in their abilities to write. Enter competitions, get your friends to read your work, push boundaries and knock on doors.

It does not matter what we write, whether it be film scripts, poetry, fiction, comics, songs or whatever we should believe that God can break down any walls and allow his message to be read in all spheres of culture, not just our own christian culture. We need to start aiming bigger for the sake of others.

“I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD  in the land of the living.” – Psalm 27

Lets start showing the goodness of God to the world through the creativity he has given us.

– Russell

Dogs, Vomit, and Cheap Chinese Food

Today. I did something very stupid. Which I would like to share.

I love Chinese food, alot. Whenever possible I will drag my girlfriend/friends/family to Chinese restaurants, I just love it!

Chopsticks

There is a Chinese restaurant near to my office, which does a 2 course lunch for just £5, an absolute bargain. I had been there quite a number of times, and every time I came away feeling disappointed. So, a couple of months back I decided that I needed to stop wasting my time and my money going there because the food there is rubbish! It doesn’t taste good at all, and I always wish that I had gone for something different.

Then today, I felt the urge for Chinese, and besides that, my boss was going to the usual cafe that I go to, so I needed to find something different. I proceeded to hang around outside the aforementioned Chinese restaurant for about 10 mins, thinking “shall I, shant I”. I could taste Chinese food in my mouth. It was so appealing. And it was a bargain at 5 pounds. I went in, sat down, and ordered dishes that, surely, they couldn’t possibly get wrong.

I remember school dinners tasting better than what I ate at lunchtime today. I left half of my lunch, the waitress came over and said “is the food ok?” and my response…”Yes, very nice thank you”.

My nose is now 2 inches bigger than it was this morning, and I can’t get Proverbs 26:11 out of my head.

“As a dog returns to his vomit, so a fool returns to his folly.” – Proverbs 26:11

This has made me think. Surely I do this kind of thing all the time in other areas of my life.

What is your folly?

– James

A geeky love for MOO – Business Cards

As a creative person, I often get really inspired, and certain clever ideas capture my imagination. As far as I am concerned as a creative person a business card is something that you shouldn’t be without. Bring on Moo

MOO Business Cards

Moo have been a recent discovery for me, and perfectly timely. They are a company who produce business cards, stickers, greetings cards and special “Moo Mini Cards”.

The other day I came across a blog post, “70 Amazing Business Cards“, it really inspired me and made me realise that I needed to get business cards for myself. All the time I am meeting new people and telling them about what I do, and end up writing URL’s and telephone numbers on scrappy bits of paper.

Artists for Christ Moo Mini Cards

After seeing the awesomeness of the Moo Mini Cards, and the buzz that is surrounding them amoungst creative-types online, I just HAD to try them out. It’s a shame that I didn’t have more that one design in mind, because a fantastic thing about the Moo cards is that in your order you can have as many images as you like, so if you wanted, each of your business cards could have a different image on the front.

I am really pleased with my cards, and so glad to have them for promotional purposes. The quality you get for the hugely bargain price is amazing, and their customer service is brilliant. Another cool thing is their blog which is full of really inspiring stuff like this.

Anyway, what I am trying to say is this: if you are a creative who doesn’t have a business card, I think it would be a very wise investment. The fun creative things that you can do with Moo cards (especially with the multiple image feature) are fantastic, and the quality of print is beautiful.

Moo are offering 20% off until the end of January 2009 with promo code: GE6X8C

If you do order something, we would love to see what you produce, and trade cards, so get in touch!

– James