Saturday, October 21, 2017

The Miracle of Personhood.

As an artist portraying the surrounding world, I praise God for His Creation and the power He displays there. Yet, the experience of personhood boggles the mind with awe of Him. The very eyes, intellect, and hands I use to observe the world were fashioned into being out of nothing by Him. My life, with a distinct personality, points to the God who willed me to be. The self, which alone is served above all else today, would not even be were it not for God’s purpose. How sad that we turn from the One who created us and fashion our own realities to escape accountability to Him.

We perceive the world as rational, emotive, thinking, and functioning beings with individual personality. Though having more knowledge than ever, we have not only lost the wonder of Creation; the amazement of our own existence has been suppressed. Science has become a philosophical doctrine of naturalism and materialism, reducing life to the idea we are mere animals or slime that betters itself over time. Our reality is defined as self-actuating. With intention to magnify our ability, the value of the real worth we have is destroyed. That we exist is a created miracle of God. Our significance and actuality is by the purposeful intent of an almighty God’s will.

I exalt in the joy of living, fashioned by the love of God and designed for relationship with Him. I marvel yet more knowing though I sinned and was at enmity with my own Creator, He brought me near in the Redemption of His own Son. The eternal Son stepped out of Heaven to live a prefect life, die in atonement to reconcile my rebellion, and rise victorious. The sublime goodness, grace, and glory of God is forever astounding.

Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor? Or who has first given to Him that it might be paid back to Him again? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen. Romans 11:33-36.

Friday, September 1, 2017

The Wow Factor of Art

Cotopaxi, (1862) Frederic Edwin Church.
When you view an art piece wonderfully full of expressive detail, it takes your breath away, doesn't it? We think, "Wow". Could this experience be an echo, a sensorial fingerprint that points to something infinitely greater?

When we look at the world around us we see immense detail. Complexity so intricately designed that we observe with a reaction of wonder.

Today we have allowed technology to cloud the appreciation of wonder with a fixation on ourselves and what we presume we can do. The "wow" factor we feel when we view art can call us back to an appreciation of Creation. As we contemplate the God who fashioned this manifold living reality, we are astounded. If we allow ourselves to think further, what an amazing reality it is that we are living souls, with purpose and reason for being.

Photo: Cotopaxi (1862) by Frederic Edwin Church (May 4, 1826 – April 7, 1900).

Thursday, August 24, 2017

What is the Difference Between Perfectionism and Excellence?

Perfectionism is an unhealthy, rigid behavior that harms ourselves and those around us. It seeks the utmost control, a tyrant over falling short in any way. For most, this is not so extreme. Perfectionism, however, can become so severe it ruins our mental health, creates stress in marriages, harms families, and scars children. It is often marked by depression and self-critical behavior. Anger toward others when they do not meet our unrealistic standard is a form of this character trait.

Excellence is different. An ideal which looks toward doing well; it seeks ones best in a spirit of growth and freedom. A healthy goal of achievement allows for mistakes and failure, with the view of learning from them. One can have a strong bent toward seeking excellence and not be perfectionist. Without desire for excellence, music, art, sports, or any other endeavor we seek would not exhibit a quality of  beauty in which the human heart rejoices.

How can we discover which we are exhibiting? Some clues: Are we hurting ourselves or those around us? Do we seek the best but allow failure in ourselves and others? Is an activity or goal meant to be enjoyed making us miserable? Another is often repeating, "I just want things done right, " a defensive statement that seeks to condone unbending behavior.

Will You Let God Love you?

There are many reasons we will not come to God. Some of them are bitter attitudes we nurse. Or we may feel a sense of failure so deep we assume He could never receive someone like us. In both cases we let our experiences cloud our judgment and miss the meaning of grace. It is not “what has God done for me lately” resentment; rather we are sinners before a Holy God. Nor do we need to walk away in our shame and tears, forever alone in our emptiness.

God is calling us to His Son Jesus, who paid the price to set us free. This is love we cannot comprehend until we answer yes to this gift. There is no longer a life of just existing and clawing our way along, freedom and joy waits. Will you let God love you and allow Him to wash you in His grace? Will you give yourself to the Savior?

Monday, July 10, 2017

Great Horned


At left is a new colored pencil piece of a Great Horned Owl, created on canvass. It is the second piece on canvas that I have done with this medium. There is a lot less layering than my regular colored pencil artwork with this surface. The background has a style similar to a work I did, titled, "Watchful", of a Red Tailed Hawk, also on canvass, shown below.

Artwork left: © Jeffrey M Green. "Great Horned", 11" x 14", colored pencils.
© Jeffrey M Green. "Watchful",
11" x 14", colored pencils.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Broken and Shed

This is a new colored pencil piece, a still life symbolizing the Lord's Supper. The realism and painterly style of the medium is typical of most of my work.

In this piece, the chalice symbolizes the wine Jesus shared with the disciples on the night of the Last Supper, the wine spilled on the cloth to call to mind His shed blood for our sins. The bread is broken, as He did that night, saying His body is broken for us. If you look at the reflection in the cup, you see a cross’s shadow. That evening, the cross was before Jesus. He would suffer on the cross, declare, "It is finished", die, and rise again. In His sacrifice our redemption is sure, grace and mercy purchased in His wonderful love.

Communion was not meant to be an empty ritual to perform in order to "behave religiously". Nor does this work depict dry ritual. Communion is a holy occasion for those who have actively put their trust in Jesus Christ. Scripture calls us to examine ourselves before we partake, appreciating this solemn moment of thankfulness for the price paid for us. It is sobering, yet imbued with wonderful hope. In Christ, we are sinners set free, forgiven, assured of eternal life that begins now and comes to wonderful fruition when we see Jesus face to face.

As I partake, I sometimes observe those around me as they walk to the front to receive the wine and bread. There are people of all kinds, each with their own struggles in life, who likewise share faith in our Lord. I reflect that worldwide brothers and sisters are doing the same. As a community of believers, our blessed hope and utmost joy is Jesus Christ Himself. He is our Savior, Brother, Friend, Lord, and Master. Who, on the night He ate with the disciples, said "do this in remembrance of me".

Artwork: © Jeffrey M Green. "Broken and Shed", 16" x 20", colored pencils.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Depression

Second in the portrait Prayer Series, is the new graphite pencil work titled, "Heavy".

The theme is depression. It is not in hopelessness, however. The Psalms, Job, and other Scripture passages, show us that God invites us to pour the depths of our heart out to Him.

When we think of the word hope today, we understand it as self-help or wishful sentiments that can't reach us in our deep brokenness. This is not what God offers us. We seek Jesus Himself, a sure trust in which we can rely. Since Jesus experienced the pain of human experience, we have a Savior who knows our circumstances. In power and mercy, the hope of the risen Redeemer is a place of intimate safety. In Him, we have hope during the darkest times.

God wants the real you, to transform the real you with the hope of His Son. We do not have to hide our pain. That is my hope through each struggle.

Artwork: © Jeffrey M Green. "Heavy", 11" x 14", graphite pencil.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

The Artist's Role of Highlighting Creation

Romans 1:20 is an experience artists highlight. In this verse is an observational and experiential stimulus that provokes spiritual response. Art can reflect this, drawing curiosity to the deeper meaning of life by showcasing what God has made.





Artwork: © Jeffrey M Green. "Through the Trees", colored pencils.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Marriage, a Test of Character

As Christians we are called to live for our Lord and to serve Him with our whole heart. A chief purpose, in response to His love for us, is to love others. Since our modern idea of love is superficial and more in terms with what we can get out of it, it helps to review what love is: Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. In summary, instead of solely seeking fulfillment for our own benefit, or being defined by fuzzy emotion, love is sacrificial.

As I reflect on my life, I find it easy to love folks from afar. I can amiably relate to those I hardly know, acquaintances seen only sometimes, or people with which I do not spend a great deal of time. With those I spend my life it becomes a much greater challenge. For me, this is marriage. Love others, oh sure, I can do that. To genuinely, selflessly love, in my home day in and day out is another thing.

Love and marriage is hard work. Marriage shows the depths of our true character in the volatility of relationships and vulnerable personalities. An intimate spousal connection is visceral; that is, deep seated, in the guts so to speak. In the closeness of union we are exposed, beyond the face we put on for the world. Over the years I realized, if I can not treat my wife with the true love of Christ, what good is it if I can treat others this way? Can I say I have love at all, or is it something else, something more convenient? It is a stark reminder I have plenty of growing to do. A husband’s role is no casual duty, our wives deserve nothing less.

The vast terrain that needs work in my life as a husband is humbling. For a man who comes from an isolated and withdrawn background with emotional and mental issues, there have been hard lessons. I am so grateful that not only does my Savior daily offer His unmerited grace; my wife demonstrates grace by forgiving me and loving me through my imperfections. She inspires me to want to treat her the same.

It is said marriage is a picture type of God's love. If this is so, I am learning of God's patience, unmerited mercy, daily personal love, and His forgiveness in Christ "seventy times seven" times.

Artwork: © Jeffrey M Green.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Overcoming Mental and Emotional Illness through Faith

Issues of mental health are complicated. We can not solve them with casual pat answers; the suffering undergone necessitates a comprehensive and compassionate approach. Because these concerns are beyond the norm for average people, those who are impaired are often left feeling isolated and alone. We can find comfort and empowerment that God is the key to our deepest healing.

In Scripture we read of Jesus being followed by multitudes. Contemporary images do not depict an accurate picture of these crowds. To our mindset, the multitudes were full of average, middle class people with clean unwrinkled robes, fresh washed faces, and inquisitive smiles. While it is true Jesus was surrounded by ordinary people, we miss those to whom he especially reached out. The people most desperately seeking Jesus were those in severe needs. The afflicted, lame, crippled, epileptic, blind, demon possessed, mute, paralytics, the scorned or rejected, those in the deepest poverty of life experience and mind all came to Jesus. People we are tempted to avoid, looking askance and displeasure at, are those who sought Him.

What was the Lord’s response? He warmly and mercifully welcomed.  Jesus walked among them, touched them, and taught them in redeeming love.  Each never left Jesus the same again. Throughout the entire pages of Scripture, we read of God reaching out to the most afflicted and unwanted.

It is natural to want the disorders causing us anguish to go away. In some segments of Christian culture, healing is a major preoccupation. Without it, faith seems to lack relevancy or empowerment. While God is more than able to heal us, the norm of most experiences is that He allows our infirmities to remain to a greater or lesser degree. He uses the struggles to strengthen our faith in an ever closer walk with Him. The proving ground of the Christian life is endurance in trials rather than the easy removal of them. Our sufferings compel us to see our innermost need, which is for ever more of Jesus Christ. Oh, how we need Jesus! This is not to say we will never get better or do not need to proactively seek help, we can and should. Wherever we are in the trial, whatever steps we take; God is of utmost and central importance.

It can be very challenging to our limited understanding that God’s view is to value our spiritual growth in connection to Him of higher importance than our temporary comfort. We can become disillusioned and hurt until we realize this is where the redeeming grace of Christ meets us. The paradoxes of joy in suffering, finding ourselves by losing ourselves in Him, and wholeness in the midst of infirmity come alive in His mercy. What hope a resurrected, living Savior is to the darkness of mental distress.

Sometimes depression, anxiety disorders, and mental or emotional illnesses leave deep scars. The depths of suffering can seem to overwhelm or cripple us.  When all is black, and we are burdened and discouraged, it is hard to see any way forward. How grateful I am that God does not have an aloof “get over it” attitude toward us. He does not simply say, “Chin up”, and then walk away. His care is always gracious, seeking our good, meeting our vulnerability.

In Matthew 12:20 we read of a prophesy from Isaiah: A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. This says a great deal about Jesus’ gentleness. Christ comes to us where we are, in our specific circumstances. In our pain and brokenness He heals, with endless mercy.

The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble.
And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, Lord, hast not forsaken them that seek thee. Psalm 9:9-10.

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28.

Artwork: © Jeffrey M Green.



Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Joy in Heaven

In this work we see a rose on the verge of becoming fully blossomed. Its petals as if arms outstretched to receive and be filled with life. Likewise, we in our being open and receive true life in Christ when we accept His Redemption. From that moment, and each day afterward, our soul responds and blossoms in His sublime grace.    

The most beautiful event on earth today is when someone receives Jesus Christ. In that moment, eternity meets mortality, light penetrates darkness, and wandering emptiness is filled with supernatural joy.

Do you think you are insignificant? Jesus said there is joy in heaven over one sinner who repents. Out of the billions of lives on earth, considering that each is so celebrated, how much does God love you?

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?.  Psalm 27:1

Artwork: © Jeffrey M Green. “Opening”, 8” x 10”, colored pencils.