Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Northern Light-"Putting in the Apple"

I follow Fred Wessel's advice when "putting in the apple." The quote below is from his website.

"This step the Medieval artist's called 'putting the apple in the cheeks'. A thin glaze of vermilion or cadmium red light is applied to all facial areas where bone or cartilage is close to the skin [ie., areas where the flesh appears pink such as the cheeks, tip of the nose, ears and chin]"-Fred Wessel

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Northern Light-Color Stage 1

I glazed raw sienna onto skin areas, burnt umber onto hair, a mixture of prussian blue/burnt umber onto dark background areas, a mixture of ivory black, prussian blue, and flake white onto bright areas of curtain.

The camera blurred a little on me, and my battery is low. This was the best picture I could get.

After this dries a few days, I'll "put the apple" in her cheeks, nose, chin and ear. Stand by for bright red!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Northern LIght-Penumbra Stage 2

On this stage, I've continued to establish contrast between light and dark; attempting to "bump" the painting up to an image that corresponds to reality. Of course, if I spent a million years refining this image, it would never be my daughter, but only an image of her. My hope is to capture some of her vivaciousness at five years old, if only in a snapshot.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Northern Light-Penumbra Stage 1

First go at the penumbra stage. You can see some of the "umber layer showing through in certain areas. I like to keep the paint very thin in these early stages, especially in the darker areas.

Her nose gave me a little trouble, but otherwise a fun time. I can always go back and correct mistakes on the next session.

I had rock-n-roll on the radio while I painted and just about got completely lost in the moment!

The Law is Good News!

Most Evangelicals agree; Scripture teaches we are justified by grace, through faith in Christ alone. So what about after one believes the Gospel? No doubt, we want to keep believing what God did for us 2000 years ago in the person and work of Christ, and on this basis we are justified: past, present and future. But does one have to be obedient to the law in order to keep being saved? Is sanctification now up to us? How do we explain Christians who leave the faith?

Keeping the law, although not the basis of our justification, is not an option for Christians. We're justified by faith alone, yes. However the kind of faith that saves is also the kind of faith that loves God's law. The law itself is good news, the Gospel is law (it must be believed!).

God's law tells us how to be happy as God's people. Away with such sharp extra-biblical distinctions of Law & Gospel so prevalent amongst some Evangelicals today! God is kind to His people and gives them everything necessary to keep and maintain healthy relationship; that goes not only for our relationship with Him, but with one another as well. The giving of the law is gracious. God expects His covenant people to be obedient because He knows what is best for them. He saved His people from under the brutal yoke of Pharaoh and then gave them His law! He expected them to obey it and judged them when they did not! God's yoke is easy and His burden is light.

So no, I don't support works-righteousness in order to stay saved, I only agree with the Bible when it says "apostasy happens." How else to you explain passages such as Hebrew 6:4-8?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Is the Trinity an Easy Doctrine?

Does the Bible teach the doctrine of the Trinity? Would it be naive to think the Trinity is easy to show from Scripture? Does Scripture expressly teach God is "one Being in three inseparable Persons: Father, Son, & Holy Spirit?" Does it teach this clearly? Yes! Yes! and with unequivocal passion I proclaim with resounding gusto, YES! Well, yes...., with one qualification; It is easy for us because we're living on this side of the Nicene council! The controversy concerning the Doctrine of the Trinity raged for years in the early church and has experienced a resurgence with folks who would discount the ecumenical creeds and confessions of faith with a flip of the wrist. Hence the comeback of such Arian heretics like the Jehovah's Witnesses, etc. It is not wise to cut off the branch from which we sit. Are you aware of Athanasius?...
(Painting of Athanasius of Alexander 293-373 A.D.)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Northern Light-Umber Stage 2

On this second stage I continued to darken shadows. Penumbra stage up next!

Table of Contents as a Creed

As soon as someone sets out to read the Bible, the next logical step is to interpret it and formulate doctrine. The Bible does not read itself and it needs to be understood as a collective unit. Unfortunately even the best of Christians can misinterpret the Bible. That's why the Holy Spirit has given various gifts to the Church and those gifts, ie. teaching, wisdom, etc. are to be used collectively, as a body. The Bible did not just "fall out of the sky." It has it's own history.
Someone once said, "Before we come to the Word of God in Genesis 1:1 we come to the "word of the church" in the table of contents of the Bible." And my point? Those who boldly proclaim, "No creed but the Bible," unwittingly hold to at least a couple of creeds:
1. The creed which says, "No creed but the Bible." (Try though you might, you will not find it in there! Neither will you find "God helps those who help themselves," nor "Cleanliness is next to godliness."
2. The Table of Contents in the Bible is itself a creed. Again, the Bible did not just fall out of the sky. Somewhere down through the course of history we're trusting that when someone acknowledged the 66 books of the Bible were indeed the Word of God, they got it right!
The Westminster Confession of Faith is not on the same level of authority as The Bible and neither are our moms and dads. However this does not negate that creeds such as The Apostle's, The Nicene, Etc. along with the Three Forms of Unity, and others carry authority. When a parent says, "Eat your peas, Junior!" that's authoritative, and God supports that kind of authority. The creeds and confessions are authoritative as long as they correctly interpret and stand under the Bible as secondary authorities.
If you are interpreting the Bible ONLY as an individual, you are not holding to the doctrine of sola Scriptura but rather SOLO Scriptura.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Northern Light-Umber Stage 1

And we're off... and into the second dimension! Light is amazing, isn't it? Light and shadow and the interplay between the two are what make a painting look real. Kids are HARD to paint because their features are less defined.

These early stages are always my favorite part because I feel like I have lots of freedom to make mistakes. Each stage is a series of corrections to bring the painting to correspond more and more to reality. The later stages make me more nervous because I'm afraid I'll mess it up!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Infant Baptism: A Fruit of the Gospel

A distinction must be made between defining what the Gospel "is," vs. the "fruit" of the Gospel.

The Gospel is the proclamation of the historical fact that the second Person of the Trinity took on human flesh, (born of a virgin) approx. 2000 years ago. He lived a sinless life, was crucified at the hands of evil men and died a substitutionary death for the sins of His people. He was raised on the third day, ascended to the right hand of the His Father where he rules and reigns as both King of kings, and Lord of lords. This is the good news! Christ is the risen Lord! And it has happened outside of myself.

The fruit of the Gospel pertains to things like believing it and being sanctified by it. The fruit of the Gospel and the Gospel are very much related to one another, yet they are NOT the same thing.

Let's take the covenant sign of baptism as an example of a fruit of the Gospel. Parents have the responsibility and joy of having their children baptized into the triune name of God because Christ has come. Some believe the covenant practice of paedobaptism, or "infant-baptism" distorts the Gospel and gives parents false assurance of a child's regeneration. But is that true? Does the Reformed teaching of baptism give parents confidence that their children will grow up to be believers in Jesus? Yes and no.

It is helpful to understand the difference between the Historic, or "visible" church vs. the Eschatological or "invisible" church. Paedobaptism is the covenant sign that children of believers are part of the Historical Church. Just because a child has received the covenant sign and seal of baptism does not guarantee the will grow up and believe the Gospel. However, a parent can have good reason to hope if they are faithful parents, their children will grow up to possess saving faith. So receiving the sign of the covenant, (think Historical Church) and being regenerate, (think Eschatological Church) is not the same thing.

Wouldn't it be easier if we only knew who the regenerate were? But we do not and God has a good reason for it. Every denomination has both"wheat and the tares." Spurgeon said if he knew God had put a yellow stripe up the back of all the elect, he would go around lifting coat-tails. That's not the case, so rather, he shared the Gospel with everyone! The Bible tells us in very plain language, there are tares amongst the wheat.

God had no problem giving the covenant sign of circumcision to infants in the Old Covenant. It did not guarantee they would be one of the regenerate. But it did mark them out as a child of the covenant, (notice I did not say it automaticlally regenerated them).

So why do some struggle with the Reformed doctrine of infant baptism? Partly because they believe it gives parents unfounded confidence in their child's salvation. The Reformed doctrine of Baptism does not teach that water baptism alone saves our children. That is a false teaching and would contradict the message of the Cross and the cardinal doctrine of the Protestant Reformation: Justification by Faith Alone. It is important to know the Westminster Confession of Faith teaches "the efficacy of baptism is not tied to the time wherein it is administered."

When it comes to the idea of covenant, God always deals with families. Just as Noah entered the ark with his family, the Israelites went into the Promised Land together as families and as God's covenant people. Peter only repeated that pattern in Acts 2 when he said, "this promise is for you and your children.."

But why do we see mostly adults getting baptized in the New Testament? As the Old Covenant gave way to the new there was a great influx of Gentiles (ie. Ethiopian eunuch, Philippian Jailer, Lydia, etc.) into the commonwealth of Israel.

I conclude with this: For all practical purposes, if you are teaching your children to call on God "as Father" prior to knowing whether they are regenerate or not, you are in principle doing the same thing as infant baptism. If you are reading to them from the Bible before they can understand English you are in a sense doing the same thing as infant baptism.

So, baptizing our children, partaking of the Lord's Supper, teaching our children to pray to God as Father, even believing the Gospel are all fruits of the Gospel, but they are not the Gospel. The person and work of Christ is the Gospel.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Started New Painting "Northern Light"

I drew the picture of my daughter onto canvas with a gel pen. This painting will be 16"x20".

"Who Told You That You Were Naked...?"

Question: Who told Adam and Eve they were naked? Answer: Their eyes were opened to the knowledge of good and evil when they ate of the forbidden fruit.

God had already defined good and evil when he told them not to eat of the tree. Exposure/shame was a result of the fall. When Eve looked at the fruit she saw it was "good for food, it was a delight to the eyes, and it was to be desired to make one wise.... " But what was really there? What did Eve see? All the things mentioned above. The fruit really was "good to eat, delighted the eyes and would make one wise"....however they had been told to not eat of it. Let's reel the tape back for a moment for an instant replay. Eve sinned the moment she doubted God's love and that had happened before her lips even touched the fruit.
And isn't it interesting that God restores us to himself in the very opposite way in which our first parents fell? They doubted God's love. We're restored to God by faith alone!

I'm persuaded our original parents would have been allowed to eat of that fruit if they had grown into maturity. The fruit was not bad, it was disobedience to God's command which resulted in their knowledge of nakedness. The human race begins in a garden and in the last book of the Bible we find them in a "garden city." It was always God's intention for mankind to exercise dominion over this world. God does not have a Plan B!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Christian Religion w/Out OnRamp of Reason

The Christian Faith is a fully-orbed faith. It encompasses the entire scope of creation. There is no such thing as an "uninterpreted fact." All facts are God's facts. So the entire realm of creation belongs to the Creator/Redeemer God. This would include all religion, science, politics, art, the future, etc.
I'm not opposed to reason and rationality given their proper place. The Christian Faith is the ONLY rational explanation for the world in which we live!
Some may accuse me of falling into the trap of circular reasoning and thereby accidentally stumbling into relativism. But this is nonsense! Everyone argues from a system of faith, whether they realize it or not.

The Christian Faith is a circle, in that its consistent with the world God created. There are no "on-ramps" of reason into the new Creation. The same Being who authored the Bible is the same Being who created the world and He is consistently true as regards to creation and His Word. What I mean is both natural revelation (creation) and divine revelation (the Bible) are infallible/inerrant. It is fallen man who "gets it wrong." He views the world through tainted glasses and those glasses are willfully cemented to his head! Because of the Fall and the corruption of the total man, mind/will/and emotion, he has become a bad interpreter of both natural and divine revelation. Indeed, it is IMPOSSIBLE for him to interpret these things correctly....

Calvinism is another term for a consistent Christian faith. The Bible teaches only the Holy Spirit can give new life and understanding. Jesus said, "unless you're born again you cannot see the Kingdom of God." It takes new eyes to see and only God can give those eyes through the wonderful working of the Holy Spirt! In other words: God saves sinners!
My Arminian brothers are "brothers" in the sense that we're fellow believers, but Calvinism is the only way to be a consistently biblical Christian. Arminian theology as well as Arminian apologetics is inconsistent, and lacks a full-orbed faith. It's either all of grace, or none!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Waxin' Van Tillian

Life, in the most absolute sense, is non-sensical apart from the Bible. The God who created all things, rules all things, and controls all things is entirely consistent with the God we find in Holy Scripture.

The unbeliever is willfully and joyfully blind. He would love for the Christian to "come on down and sew your eyes shut so we can converse on the same level...." However, his life is inconsistent in that he finds huge gaps of meaning. For the skeptic 2+2=4 is complete and utter nonsense unless he borrows capital from a Christian worldview, in order to make some kind of sense of his own.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Smooth and Sock Puppet

That Was Smooth: Sock Puppet from Journey Church on Vimeo.

I was "Smooth's" youth leader at one time. This may have contributed to his dementia! You can check out his blog here:

KJV Windsor Calfskin Bibles only $23.95

Great Bargain for Thine Library!!!

For a limited time, (please ignore the cheezy telemarketer language) , the company I work for is selling KJV Windsor Bibles in Calfskin leather for only $23.95! That's right! I said CALFSKIN GENUINE LEATHER. They are published/printed in England by the Trinitarian Bible Society. Size 5 1/2" x 8" x 1"
I've worked for a Christian bookstore for years, so I'm not kidding when I say these Bibles are every bit as nice as Cambridge Bibles! They are available in either black or burgundy.

Monday, October 12, 2009

More Thoughts About the Bible and Marriage

I admit, many are ignorant when it comes to the subject of biblical marriage. Just because you see people doing nasty things like Abraham having a child with Hagar, David committing adultery with Bathsheba, and various persons engaged in polygamy in the Bible, it doesn't mean God approves.

While we're on the subject, what exactly does a "biblical marriage" look like if you have people doing stuff like that in the Bible of all places?

Jesus defines marriage in this way: "He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?" Matt. 19:4 (ESV)

"Okay," you say, "but what about those people who raped women or committed incest and got away with it?

Stealing has always been wrong, even before God gave Moses the Ten Commandments, just as murder was always wrong, (ie, Cain and Able). I would view rape as a severe form of stealing. As for incest..., Yes, I believe Cain married his sister, but the same conumdrum comes about with Noah and his family after they leave the ark. But the world has to be populated/re-populated somehow. God establishes all moral standards and the laws against incest did not come down until many years later.

"But hasn't the Bible been edited throughout the years?" You say.

Yes, in one sense it has. There are "editions" out there which are very bad (ie. Jehovah's Witnesses' New World Translation, etc), but it's important to remember the Bible was divinely inspired in the original autographs. Translations are NOT inspired. However, most scholars will agree, the English Bible we have today is very reliable/accurate when compared with ancient Hebrew/Greek texts....

And besides, the very fact all those wrinkles and warts are left on those people only serves to seal the authenticity of it!

Incest and All That Other "Icky" Stuff

If the Bible were like any other book, don't you think, down through history all that "icky" stuff like brothers and sisters marrying one another, killing Canannites, sleeping with maidservants, etc. would have been edited out? (Okay, God did tell the Israelites to kill the Canannites, but that's for another post!) Just because we find these sorts of things recorded on the pages of Scripture does not mean God condones those practices. In one sense, the very fact they are there proves the authenticity of the Bible!

I'm curious; rape and incest are wrong, but where does one derive such standards? Without hesitation, I would say those things are wrong because God's Word says they are. By what standard do you appeal? How do you know the scales you're standing on are accurate?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Spurgeon in Multiple Layers

Here are stages of a painting I did for a friend last spring. I did not post it at the time because it was a surprise gift.

I've painted this in what I call the "classical-layered" method. As you can see, I painted in stages, building one layer upon another, and letting each successive stage dry before applying the next. I applied those in extremely thin coats, so as to build, rather than obscure what is beneath.

I have not included all the stages, but hopefully you can get an idea of how I do it. Below are a few very short videos showing how I begin.