Let No One Take Your CROWN

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Two weeks ago, as I was walking down my hallway, I heard these words ring out in my heart out of nowhere and I knew it was the Holy Spirit speaking. "That no one may take your crown"

I have never thought that deeply about crowns and what they mean biblically. But when the Holy Spirit speaks, He intends to bring revelation and we need to pay attention to what He is saying!We serve a living God who is interested in our present!

When the Lord speaks to me, He usually speaks a very specific phrase from Scripture that can only be found in one specific verse. Sometimes I know exactly where it is, sometimes I have to look it up to find out where in Scripture it is. 

As I dove into Scripture, I saw that the Lord had something pressing and clear He wanted to speak to me and to the church.

The phrase comes from Revelation 3:11

" "Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown."

Do you believe that Jesus speaks to the local church? That He has specific words in season for a particular fellowship? I believe He does, and this is for everyone who is part of the local church. 

My immediate question from this Scripture this:

What is your Crown? And how can someone take it?

First, what is our Crown?

I believe that there are FIVE things that this crown represents and will give us insight into How to "Hold Fast What we Have"

The CROWN given to believers in Jesus represents

  1. Position
  2. Perseverance
  3. Power
  4. Prize
  5. People

Hopefully these Five words will help you remember what your crown is and equip you to run this race, casting off every hindrance that would be laid in front of you as a trap. Today I believe that God wants to uncover traps that have been set for you, that you can see them clearly avoid them and walk straight ahead into the calling He has for you!

1. POSITION : Holy and Righteous

By Position, I mean your Position in Christ! Your Position is HOLY and RIGHTEOUS. Your Position is What you have Received in Christ and stand in Him. You must be Totally Secure in the understanding of your Position in Christ to be able to stand against the trickery of men and the devil. 

Holiness and Righteousness are NOT something that you work toward. But something that is Given to you in Christ. 

We have a shadow, a picture of this gift of Holiness in the Old Covenant. The First Crown in Scripture is the Crown of Holiness. And we see it in the Priestly Crown made of pure gold that was placed on Aaron, the High Priest.

Exodus 39:30 "Then they made the plate of the holy crown of pure gold, and wrote on it an inscription like the engraving of a signet: HOLINESS TO THE LORD."

Exodus 28:38  "So it shall be on Aaron’s forehead, that Aaron may bear the iniquity of the holy things which the children of Israel hallow in all their holy gifts; and it shall always be on his forehead, that they may be accepted before the LORD."

So, over the head of the High Priest was this: HOLINESS TO THE LORD.

Which means: SET APART FOR GOD AND TO GOD, SEPARATED, and CONSECRATED TO GOD and to the ministry of reconciling men to GOD. The priest was set apart for the ministry of the Temple.

In the Old Covenant, there was only One person who could where this Crown of Holiness.

BUT NOW, in Christ you have Received the full promise and privilege of Holiness to the Lord. The Scripture says that "HE HAS MADE US PRIESTS AND KINGS" This banner is enshrined over your head giving you full and free access to the holy of hollies that we may have boldness to enter in and approach His throne, that we may enter the cloud and the fire! 

In Fact!  The HOLY OF HOLIES comes to dwell inside of us so that our very Identity becomes this: HOLY .  

Did you know that the Word "SAINT" in the New Testament is the exact same Greek word as HOLY. That is your name!!!

You have been SET APART as HIS OWN people. YOUR POSITION IN CHRIST IS: HOLINESS TO THE LORD --- SO GO BOLDY BEFORE HIS THRONE AND STAND IN THE GAP FOR YOUR BROTHERS AND SISTERS AND FOR THOSE WHO HAVE YET TO COME INTO THE KINGDOM. YOU ARE A PRIEST TO GOD. 

NOT ONLY IS YOUR POSITION HOLINESS TO THE LORD, YOUR POSITION IS : RIGHTEOUS !!

Holiness: Means that you have been set apart for God, totally other than the world

Righteous: Means that you have been made FLAWLESS in the Eyes of God. God will not             count your sins and failures against you, but ONLY sees the perfect obedience of Jesus when he looks at you. 

2 Timothy 4:8 

"Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing."

Now let me be clear. No one can TAKE your Holiness or your Righteousness away from you as though someone could steal your salvation. BUT You can allow someone to deceive you into believing a lie about What you have been given in Jesus, and then you can begin to live in a manner that Denies the very gift you've been given. 

It is what happen in Galatians and it is easily Happening to you if you allow it!!

Galatians 1:6-8. "I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, 7 which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.

3:1-3 "O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified?2 This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?

Do not assume that you are not Being continually lied to by voices and people at every turn, some ignorant, and some by deceitful plotting,  trying to lure you away from Christ to try to make you put confidence in your own abilities, for you to put confidence in Man-Made Solutions as apposed to the life of Christ dwelling in you. 

Do not be moved away from the Simplicity and Sufficiency of Jesus, for your joy, for your favor, for your righteousness, for your peace of mind. THERE IS NO PEACE OF MIND LIKE THE MIND OF CHRIST!!!

2. PERSEVERANCE

The Crown is Given to those who Persevere. Perseverance is also a gift given to the elect to be able to withstand and press through difficulties, trials, all forms of opposition and yet not deny Christ and not turn away. If it were Up to you to Persevere, YOU WOULDN'T .

But just because PERSEVERANCE is a gift, it does not prevent Jesus from commanding us to Persevere.  We can persevere only Because JESUS persevered.

The First Crown in the New Testament is the Crown of THORNS. It is the crown Jesus had persevere through to get to the crown of Glory. Suffering comes before the Glory.

Mat 27:29 "When they had twisted a crown of thorns, they put it on His head, and a reed in His right hand. And they bowed the knee before Him and mocked Him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!

In this life, Christ endured a Crown of thorns that we could receive a Crown of Glory!!!

In everything Jesus lead the way. He came as a servant. He died in shame. That he might reign in glory and all authority!!!   If Jesus endured such hostility, can He not sustain us through trials, insults, pressures on all sides, being delivered to death at every turn!!  Have we forgotten Paul's desire to fellowship in Christ's sufferings.  How is it that we as Americans hate all forms of suffering. We run and protect ourselves from any pain, any trial, any difficulty as though Eliminating Difficulty is the mark of Spirituality-- I am guilty !!

Philippians 3:10 " that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death,

2 Timothy 1:8  "Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God,"

Colossians 1:24  "I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church,"

Eliminating Difficulty from our life is not the goal or purpose of the Christian. Fellowshipping with Christ and His suffering is actually a privilege that I believe many American Christians fail to receive because they are running from all forms of difficulty. There is a Fellowship with Christ that is only Received through suffering--This is The Crown of Thorns before the Glory.

Hebrews 2:9 "But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone."

Are we greater than our Master? Are we more important than Jesus? Are we owed Greatness and Glory on this earth? 

I do not mean that we should aim our lives to grovel in the dirt and purposefully try to suffer and grit our teeth through it for the 'glory of God'.

But we can rejoice in Suffering. We can be confident that all suffering is working in us a sweet fellowship with Jesus, if we allow patience to have its work in us!

James 5:10-11 "My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience.11 Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord—that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful"

DON'T Set aside the crown of PERSEVERANCE because of trials and suffering .

 

3. POWER : Ruling Authority

By POWER I mean the governmental ruling authority that God gives his Children to administer the Kingdom of God. The Crown also represents this Authority that every believer is called to walk in. He has Made us Priests and Kings. 

Matthew 28:18-20 "And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 "teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen."

Jesus calls us to Walk and demonstrate His Authority in the earth. Satan is always apposing the Church, trying to convince her that she does not have Authority and trick her into believing lies. 

The Authority that Jesus Has, he gives to the Church. 

The main Tactic of Satan is to pressure you into a position of SILENCE. We overcome the devil by the BLOOD of the Lamb and the WORD of our TESTIMONY.   That is a living testimony of proclaiming the faithfulness and goodness of God.  You have Authority when you are Not ashamed to speak the WORD of GOD, the word of the Gospel. 

Do not let any man take your Crown by silencing you from proclaiming the Testimony of GOD. Let no man Trick you into thinking that some human means will give you authority. Authority comes from submitting to Authority. Satan and his minions will try to convince you that Authority comes from challenging God given authority

In the Garden, Satan stole Man's authority, convincing him of a lie that Exaltation could be achieved by going around GOD's authoritative command. 

I could say much more on your Power and Authority but we must move on!

 

4. PRIZE : the Honor and Reward of faithfulness to Christ

There is great reward to those who follow Christ to the end! God is delighted to place honor and on His beloved. Those who hold fast His testimony through every difficulty. 

I Corinthians 9:24-2724 Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.25 And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown.26 Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air.27 But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.

Paul goes as far as to compare the race of Faith to that of a competition for a prize. And that thinking is not wrong!

But What is Paul competing for?  The Context is that Paul is competing to fulfill his call too preach the Gospel willingly that he might win as many to Christ as he possibly can.

The imperishable Crown is a reward of Faithfulness to the Person of Christ and Faithful to the calling He has paced on your life.

Don't sell your calling to someone Else. God has given you a mandate in this life that you cant pass off onto someone else. There is great Reward in being Faithful with what you have been given. You can't be faithful with someone else's calling, only your own.

You can allow someone to take this Crown of Reward by moving away from Connection to Christ, The HEAD by placing your faith in anything other than Christ himself for your joy, happiest, peace, provision, satisfaction, healing, and source for Life.

Colossians 2:8-10 "Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.9 For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily;10 and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.

...18Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight in false humility and worship of angels, intruding into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind,19 and not holding fast to the Head, from whom all the body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase that is from God.

5. PEOPLE: the People of God

Finally we come to the last but certainly not least representation of the Crown: 

The Crown is the People of God that God has placed you in relationship with within the Body of Christ  to be accountable for the benefit and growth of Their Faith.

God has placed every believer in a local Body of Christ to which they are responsible to love and build up the faith of those fellow believers.

In Philippians, Paul calls the Believers themselves his crown:

Philippians 4:1 "Therefore, my beloved and longed-for brethren, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, beloved."

1 Thessalonians 2:19 "For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming?

To Paul, the believers that were in connection with him, those whom he was leading and influencing and fellowshiping with, THEY WERE HIS CROWN! Not prizes of money or fame, but people, brought into the presence of God at the Lord's coming!

People are a prize worth competing for. A prize worth sacrificing for. Worth fighting for. A prize worth disciplining your life to make yourself as useful as possible to the Lord FOR.

HOW CAN YOU ALLOW SOMEONE TO TAKE THIS CROWN?

You can allow someone to take this crown by allowing people to sow division in your heart toward the body of Christ. By listening and allowing gossip and slander toward other believers and toward the leaders in the church. By allowing division and offense to fester, you can allow your connection and responsibility to love and build up your bothers and sisters to be cut off. 

Do you look at your brothers and sisters in the local body of Christ, as your Crown of glory? 

Are you Holding Fast to what you have been given in Christ? 

With all that we have seen of what the our Crown represents:

  1. Position
  2. PERSEVERANCE
  3. Power
  4. Prize
  5. People

I want to now read the Context of the our first verse in Revelation 3:7-13

TO THE FAITHFUL CHURCH : PHILADELPHIA , THE CURCH OF BROTHERLY LOVE

7“And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write,

‘These things says He who is holy, He who is true, “He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens”:  “I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name.  9Indeed I will make those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie—indeed I will make them come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you. 10Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.  11 Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown.  12 He who overcomes, I will make him pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name.“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” ’

 

  1. Are you Holding Fast to What you have been given in Christ
  2. Are you abiding in your Position as Holy and Righteous
  3. Are you persevering through trials, without reversing your Testimony?
  4. Are you walking in the Power and Authority that God has called you to, not being silenced by pressure or control?
  5. Are Connected to the Head, Christ, or have you been lured away to put confidence in anything else BUT JESUS?
  6. Are you contending for the unity of the body of Christ, holding the people of God as your crown , and fighting for their Faith?
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Enter IN

For a while now I have desired to push my work to a new level. 

Each painting that I have produced over the last eight plus years has brought me great joy. It is a real privilege to be able to do something I love every day as a means of bringing beauty into this world and at the same time provide a way of life for my family. 

But with each painting, there has been a growing vision of something deeper and bigger than myself desiring to break into this world through my hands. And quite honestly there has been fear of even going there, because it is a place of the unknown.

Fear can keep you bound to limitation. But as a good friend of mine conveyed recently, Fear is a liar. Fear dangles a false reality in front of our vision to prevent us from taking chances. 

Every year I ask God for a word that will define my upcoming year and lead into what He desires for my life. 

This year was clear:  "ENTER IN"


I knew immediately that this word was far bigger than me. It was an invitation to march boldly into new territory in life. To step out into promises that I know are mine, but fear had held me back from some of these steps. 

I was immediately reminded of the promise that God spoke through Moses to Joshua as Moses was handing over the full responsibility of the people of Israel into Joshua's care. 

"And the Lord, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed." 

"Entering In" to the promises and desires of life is so much easier when you know that there is One who has gone in front of you to make the way possible. Stepping out into the unknown is not so much a risk as it is an INVITATION.

So this next painting of mine came out of this promise to "ENTER IN" . It came out of constant and loving encouragement from my wife to take my art to new levels....to simply enjoy the process of creation. She deserves credit for pushing me out to create for the pure joy of it. 

Some may see this painting as an "Abstract Painting" but it is far from abstract to me. Painting it freely without solid definition to subject matter was the best method of attempting to express visually this promise. 

While I don't see myself becoming an "abstract artist", I see the form of this style and method breaking into new works and bringing new dimension. 

What challenges and fears prevent you from taking a step this year? Step out and try the thing you really want to, and see what new doors will open!

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I have but ONE life to LIVE

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A conviction has been growing in my heart. A conviction to open up. To speak out. To declare. To bring light into darkness. To say things as they are. And yes, I know those are not complete sentences. 

I have to speak. Otherwise, the rocks will cry out in my place. My 'job' as an artist is to reveal light on the surface of a canvas to communicate a message of beauty. But that is only a tiny portion of who I am.

So, I have decided to write more, here on this blog. To write on things pertaining to LIFE, pertaining to ART, pertaining to BUSINESS, and pertaining to GOOD NEWS.  They may not all be complete thoughts. I may ask more questions than give answers. But they will impart LIFE.

i hope you can journey with me. 

You see, I have only ONE life. And the life that I have was created for ONE purpose, and ONE purpose only. Stick with me here---- to magnify and exalt Jesus Christ. Yep. That's it. That is WHO I am. 

There was a time when I tried to be two people---ha! What a miserable time. And I may share more of that later. But here it is.... 

" all flesh is grass, And all its loveliness is like the flower of the field. The the grass withers and the flower fades, Becasue the breath of the Lord blows upon it. Surely the people are grass. 

The grass withers and the flower fades, But the Word of our God stands forever."  - Isaiah 40:6-8

There is something more solid, more real, more tangible, more alive than what you can see with your eyes. That reality is God Himself. And He has revealed Himself to man by His spoken and written Word and through His very person -- the Holy Spirit. 

If you live life merely for the visible world you will be like grass that quickly withers away and is forgotten. But if instead you live by faith in the eternal word of God you will live ---FOREVER.  

 

"And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever."  - John 2:17

 

Life is to short to live for a realm that is Passing away. But, you can LIVE by every Word of the Eternal God and receive His very nature. You see....

                 WORD  precedes IMAGE .  

The Word came first. Then all reality that we see came afterward.  I often times get these backward and try to come up with IMAGE before hearing the words that give that image life. So, I am on a journey to listen more closely--to wait on the word that brings forth the image.  

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made."

- John 1:1-3

 

So what will your ONE LIFE be based on? 

The JUST shall Live by FAITH

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Last week, I was shocked to hear the news that a dear friend of mine, Kevin Cunningham, a brother in Christ, had suddenly died. It came without real warning and unexpected to all who knew him, and to his precious wife. 

I had the privilege of knowing Kevin and his wife Christine for fifteen years and they have been a beautiful picture of the grace and power of God, and a testimony to me through my journey of following Christ. 

Just before my seventeenth birthday I radically encountered the living Christ in a school auditorium, and He transformed me to my very core. Everything in my life became one thing--to delight in Jesus. 

Shortly after that, the opportunity arose to go on a mission trip to Honduras. A mission trip with one focus, to preach the Gospel and see people radically changed. It just so happened that Kevin and Christine were one of the leading couples on this trip. As a young believer myself, Kevin and Christine stood out clearly from among all the others as men and women of integrity and of a clear and determined Faith to believe God for the impossible. 

In all my years knowing them since, they have never wavered in Faith or in passion for Jesus. Their passion and determination to serve Christ wherever He would call them is a powerful testimony to this generation where many seem to fall at the pressures of this world. 

It just so happened that during that first mission trip of mine, I met my wife for the first time, though at the time I didn't know it! She was a fifteen year old fiery worship leader and I a seventeen year old crazy for Jesus kid wanting to see Christ magnified. We saw each other only  a couple times after that until seven years later we met again and started dating and married within a year! 

I share all this because Kevin and Christine are woven into the story of our life, our story. Their life and testimony will shine forever because they have built their life on Christ. 

A couple years after that first mission trip, our church sent Kevin and Christine as missionaries into Columbia, an often times dangerous territory to preach the gospel. But they went and boldly spread the Gospel with the favor of God on their lives. 

During one of their trips back to the USA, I wanted to capture a portrait of Kevin so that I could share some of their stories from the front lines in Columbia.

Most portraits that I paint, tend to be very time consuming and are quite honestly difficult! But when I sat down to paint Kevin's portrait, it seemed to just flow out effortlessly in a manner of a couple of hours. I believe that it was just a reflection of the Faith that Kevin walked in. He Believed God. He trusted His Word. He trusted His power. He believed in the living God who moves and acts on behalf of His people. And faith, though it is a battle, is effortless at the same time. It is the only thing that truly moves mountains. It is the ONLY thing that can make a person right with God. - Romans 4:5 "But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness."

John 11:25 "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live."

Kevin is alive in the presence of Jesus, not because of anything that he did, but because he believed on the one who justifies the ungodly. He stands now in the presence of the resurrection and the life. 

Kevin, you will be greatly missed here. 

Click on the image below to read one of the testimonies of Kevin from their time in Columbia **

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Demo Video #1 Underpainting

I am excited to start doing some demonstration videos. These first videos will be quick introductions to my painting process. I hope to soon do more detailed instruction along these lines, and in the mean time wet the appetite for those of you who are artists, aspiring artists, and on-the-fence artists to jump right in and develop your skill and appreciation for art.

So join me in my stdio for the next few minutes!

-Jonathan 

More than a portrait

Today, I have been looking back at some of my works over the last ten years and I wanted to bring back some stories. Sometimes paintings just come to life in a moment of genius and I stand back and say, how did I even do that?! Such is the case for many of my portrait paintings. Some are long labors of love, while others have seemed to effortlessly float onto the canvas with emotion, impact, and yet accuracy to the subject as well. I know that it is not just me doing it. The hand of my Father is so keenly present in these moments. 

So today, I'm sharing a portrait of a friend of our family, a woman committed to the kingdom of God. This is her story that she provided for me a few years ago when I painted the portrait. I hope you read and are inspired. 

This portrait of my husband and me was painted in a season of my spiritual journey that found me living in Afghanistan. And if the eyes are truly the windows to the soul, I look into my eyes in this portrait and see that I was to learn life changing lessons as we prepared to go to this land of such extremes.

In 2003, my husband made an exploratory trip to western Afghanistan and returned to tell my 15 year-old daughter and myself that the needs were tremendous, the doors were wide open and that a humanitarian organization would facilitate possibilities for Philip to create an educational institution in leadership.

Iasked myself, "How would I fit in, in a culture so very different from the western cultures I have lived in? How will I relate to the women, will I have to cover just my hair, or my face too? Do I have something to offer?"

We had spent 17 years in France and 1 year in Northern Ireland, and loved other cultures and languages, but I was aware that I was struggling with a sense of my usefulness in God's purposes in this setting. Would I even have any kind of affinity with the women, any connection?

That is when a familiar passage in Scripture became alive to me where I was at. In Mark 14:3-9, a woman broke her costly alabaster box of perfume to anoint the feet of Jesus. There are many lessons in these verses, such as the disciples dismay that the perfume was not sold to use the proceeds for the poor, but what spoke directly to me were the comments that Jesus made concerning the woman. These comments were my preparation for Afghanistan. Jesus told the disciples first of all to leave the woman alone, that she has done a "beautiful thing to me".

It struck me that I was going to a land where women had few rights and in public they were almost "invisible" because of the burqa, women had suffered most harshly during the years of the Taliban rule with no formal education and virtual lockdown within their compounds; yet in that first century culture Jesus declared the worth of a

woman who did something beautiful for him, and that gave me hope that I could live in a country like Afghanistan and touch the heart of Jesus and do something he would consider beautiful.

He also said that wherever the Good News is preached throughout the world what she haddone would be remembered.

This is a message of hope I could share with woman in Afghanistan. And thirdly, and for me, most importantly, Jesus said of her, "She did what she could". Those words felt like an arrow shot out of a quiver when I read them, but they hit their mark and pierced my heart when I found myself volunteering in a burn unit in the hospital in Herat, Afghanistan shortly after we arrived.

A French organization was working to start a proper burn unit, and my daughter and I went to see their set up. At this time in 2003 they were just beginning at the end of a hallway with over 20 women and children waiting to have their dressings changed.

There was no sterile room, just buckets and a sink, and half of the young women had burned themselves with gasoline in desperate suicide attempts.

The French nurse was tremendously brave working alone, so I asked who was helping her. She said that the Afghan nurse being trained was on maternity leave. I looked around and saw that it would be hours before she would get through the dressings so I asked her if I could help her , she responded in

French, "Yes, if you can". And I thought of those words of Jesus,

"She did what she could".

I thanked Him for preparing me for all we have experienced and lived in Afghanistan."

 

Commissioned Painting: A to Z

It all begins with a great idea. How can I bless my kids and leave them with something to remember their upbringing when they are older? For one family, that idea developed into commissioning three paintings of their land and home so that eventually these paintings would be given to each of the three adult kids of this family. Great idea. Enjoy some beautiful paintings and then pass along the joy to your children! 

So over the course of ten months, I began developing three paintings that captured a sense of the family's home and land. 

I begin the process by first working with the client to see where a painting will hang in their home in order to determine the size that the painting needs to be to bring the most impact. We discuss favorite memories of their home, favorite views and I try to get a really good idea about what is most desired to be communicated through a painting. Working with clients to develop a painting is one of the really enjoyable aspects of what I get to do as an artist. Although this is a business, its also my life. And relationships are what is most important in life. And in order to truly captivate the attention of a client with a work of art, I want to know as much as I can why they desire a work of art and what will speak to them most. 

After walking around the property exploring different options, we narrow it down to one particular view. But lighting is everything in my world. So, I schedule a time to return and take photographs as just the right time. 

A week later, I return early in the morning. I want to be there before the first light hits the top of the trees. 

After settling in and finding just the right angle, its time to wait. The scene is rather dull before the light hits. We needed it to be in late fall so that enough foliage had fallen off the trees to allow me to see the house through the trees. The whole time, I am taking many photos to compare how the light is changing. 

Then the magic starts. Those first rays of light come breaking through in color filled warmth. Got it!

 

An hour after arriving and after taking multiple shots and getting close up shots of the house for details, I feel I have what I need to return to the studio. 

After hours of sorting through photos and selecting the ones that capture the light and angle just right, its time to draw the watercolor preliminary sketch. This the fun opportunity to get out the pencil and enjoy time at the drafting table. 

A day later, the preliminary sketch is done and sent to the client for approval. And they love it! So it's off to the canvas now! Having a solid idea of what the final painting will look like because of the sketch, its nice to jump right into the painting. And I have deadline of Christmas to get it done. Only two or three weeks to complete the painting.

Twenty pots of coffee and many 1am painting hours later, it's ready for framing and delivery!

The best part is that reaction of amazement and delight when I unveil the painting just in time for Christmas. 



Explorations with pallet knife painting

"Back Road"  12x24 Oil on Canvas - Just SOLD

As an artist, I am continually pushing myself to discover new ways of creating beauty on the canvas. For me this means studying other great artist, both historical icons of art and contemporary masters. Then experimentation is essential. I want to continually grow as an artist an refine and perfect my craft. Perfection may not be the right word, but I will always strive for advancement. 

Close Up of "Returning" 14x18 Oil on Canvas - Just SOLD

Recently, my goal has been to achieve more vibrant paintings by painting predominantly with pallet knives. I had done a couple painting in the past with pallet knives, but had laid them down for a while. There is a certain richness of color that is only achievable by applying thick paint with a pallet knife. Here are a couple recent pallet knife paintings along with one that is on the easel now, ready to be finished. 

ON the Easel now. 

A close up of this work in progress, showing the texture of the pallet knife work.