mike.
art. jesus. coffee. people. books. creating. in no particular order.
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October 7, 2008

Frustrations...

As artists we're called to create, show and make culture. As Christians we're called to show Gods love, redemption and hope for the world. How does one do that without sticking to fluffy imagery? Think Thomas Kinkade, soothing lighting, pretty calming colors, nothing controversial, nothing that could offend. That's one of the struggles I'm going through right now. How do I continue with the path my art is going on while trying to be some sort of witness (whatever that might look like through the guise of art) to viewers of my art. Sure the easy answer is pray about it, which I do but at the same time God uses our logic and thoughts to answer our prayers... so where does that leave me? My only option is to have faith that the gifts the lord has graciously given to me are being used to give this glory right back to him.
After all is said and done I just have to have faith that what I am doing as both a Christian and an artist, and overall, is worthy and glorifying to God.

June 18, 2008

Twenty-First Time

"Twenty-First Time" by Monk & Neagle
Nowhere to live, nowhere to fall
He used to have money, but he’s wasted it all.
His face is a photograph burned in my mind,
but I pretend not to see him for the twenty-first time

He sleeps under stars, that’s all he can afford
His blanket’s an old coat he’s had since the war
He stands on the corner of Carter and Vine
But I pretend not to see him for the twenty-first time

He may be a drifter, he’s grown old and gray
But what if he’s Jesus and I walk away?
I say I’m the body and drink of the wine
but I pretend not to see him for the twenty-first time

She’s twenty-nine but she feels forty-eight
She can’t raise three kids on minimum wage
She’s cryin’ in back of the welfare line
but I pretend not to see her for the twenty-first time

She may be a stranger tryin’ to get through the day
but what if it’s Jesus and I walk away?
I say I’m the body and drink of the wine
but I pretend not to see her for the twenty-first time

This is a call for a change in my heart
I realize that I’ve not been doin’ my part
when I needed a Savior, I found it in Him
He gave to me, now I’ll give back to them

Drifter or stranger, father or son
I’ll look for Jesus in every one
’cause I am the body and drink of the wine
and I’m thankful there’s more than the twenty-first time

I remember the first time I heard that song, it was like a knife through my ice heart I remember it like it was yesterday. I was getting nestled into my bed, in my heated room. Yeah, it was really a cheesy sounding song, but the lyrics were definitely directed at me. It was right after a friend of mine was trying her hardest to get the Christian group at my school to go out and help out at this mission. I never went, I had more important things to do, like... procrastinate in my studio and talk with friends and keep telling myself i was working. After about a half of semester of no one going with her, she stopped. What did I say? Good, we'll go back to having our meetings.

How can I be so selfish?!

I never knew the name of this song, or anything other than the part about the twenty-first time. So I couldn't add it to my itunes playlist. I would hear this song on the radio station occasionally, and I would never hear the artists name or anything, and I could never find the song online, but it spoke to me everytime. It always made me remember Mathew 25:31 - 46
"31"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. 32All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

34"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'

37"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'

40"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'

41"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.'

44"They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?'

45"He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'

46"Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.""


I wish I could sit here typing this just coming back from helping out feeding the homeless or volunteering at a soup kitchen or something. Nope. I did find the song though. heh To be honest I have so many excuses to why I can't go do that. "Its not safe", "I don't have money to give; I can barely afford my own food", "They're just going to use it for drugs", "Some people are meant to minister other places". I can go on forever; but when I'm real with myself I know its just my selfishness and my bias. I guess what I'm trying to say here is that thank God, or more so Jesus for basically taking my fall for being such a cold jerk. I also pray that through ways that we dont know or understand (Isaiah 55:8) he would come and change my heart; because I'm tired of walking down the street and ignoring these people, but I can't stop...

June 2, 2008

Needs and wants.

In my last post I spoke about how restless I have been for a while. I still am, but I just felt the urge to publicly praise and thank god for giving me what he gave me this morning.

This morning I wake up tired, like I have been for the past few weeks, why I don't know. I have a feeling it might be because of the heat and that the air conditioning unit for the public areas of my apartment building is right outside my bedroom window; which is right where the head of my bed is located. So I wake up and I'm tired, so tired that I almost say screw church and just stay home and not sleep. After falling back asleep for a few minutes I decided to get up and go make a cup of coffee and see what happened. So, I make my coffee and breakfast, go over to my window and just sit there looking out at the corner. Then it happened... an amazing sense of calmness came over me as I just looked out over the intersection, there were few people out, the ones that were just strolled and enjoyed their coffee, there were no cars and just the sounds of birds singing. Then I just at that moment started talking to God, thanking him for this amazing sense of calmness he gave me. I just sat there, calm, still, knowing that God is, was and will be. After that I just went back into my room, popped on some music and layed on my bed just resting before church.

Then it hit me, if I know that God is and was and will be the great provider, why do I worry? Why do I stress? God gives you what you want when you need what you want.

Lord I want to thank you for being a God who knows what your children need and when to give them what they want. Thank you for always being there for us when sometimes; we aren't there for you. Lord, I pray that you can give the rest of your children that are restless and frustrated that amazing sense of calmness that you so graciously gave to me this morning. Thank you for letting me sit there and bask in the glory that is your world and your creation. Amen.

May 26, 2008

Cant I just skip ahead a page or two

     Its funny how things can go so right for so long and then over night, nothing changes, but it just seems so wrong. I don't know what it is or what spurred this but my comfort has recently been shaken. I don't feel comfortable anymore. It might be a good thing, it might be just what I needed. One day I woke up and kinda felt that a lot what felt so right, friend ships, where I am living, who I am living with and where I'm going to school and the fact that I am IN school everything just kinda... turned upside down.
     For the longest time I was so sure that I wanted to live in the city and live the city life and just be here for ever. I have learned to love Philadelphia like that dysfunctional family member who you really like but they annoy the heck out of you. But recently, I've been in at a bit of a cross roads. I recently took a trip out to the suburbs of the city to a relatives house and I was sitting outside, on the porch with a beer in my hand surrounded by trees and greenery, I didn't hear cars, no screaming, no sirens, nothing but the sounds of the trees moving and the birds singing, and the people who I was with. It was so nice. I love the greenery, I love the fresh air, I love... not hearing the prostitutes on my corner cat calling at cars that go by. But at the same time when I'm gone from the city for more than a long weekend, I start to miss those sounds and cant wait to get back to the city. I really feel the urge to be here in the city and do... something. God definitely has me here for a reason... what that reason is, I have no clue. I just have to trust God's plan. His plan has been good for me so far so why am I doubting now? I don't know.
     It seems at this stage of my life God is not working fast enough for me, I think I have Philadelphia to thank for that. I recently had it told to me that I have no patience. Boy did that rub me the wrong way. We (myself and a group of non Philadelphia dwellers) were out and about, had no where to be, no hurry, but me being the Philadelphian I am had to get no where FAST. As we were walking, moseying is more like it, i would all of a sudden notice that I was like 5 steps ahead of them and they were back there stopped and talking. So I would stop, turn around with a sigh and go back. This happened a few times and finally I just asked if we could get there already, we could get there and THEN talk or we could walk and talk. Thats when I she looked at me and said, whats your rush? Slow down. "We've got no where to be except here." Thats when it hit me, its true I am learning to be a true Philadelphian, hurry u and wait, or hurry up and go no where. I have a hard time just being. I've always got to be doing something, if im not doing something im trying to figure out a place where I have to go.
     This has recently hit me again. The school semester is over and I have nothing to do... and I really don't like it at all. I am restless. I have to be doing something. I can't not do anything. I need to learn to listen to psalm 37:7 & 34 "Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways" "Wait for the LORD, and keep his way. He will exalt you to inherit the land; " The key word being wait.
     I can't help but feeling like the kid who while reading, gets bored towards the middle of the chapter and just wants to skip ahead to the beginning of the next chapter. I think I am so ready for the next chapter, but obviously God disagrees, or I would be there already.

March 21, 2008

A Gift...

     As children we're given gifts, at the same time we're taught that it is polite to say thank you even if we are so excited and ready to go play with them. Those thank yous are sometimes simple, barely understandable, squeals of "THANKYOU!" as we scamper off to go enjoy our new toy. Other times, usually as we grow up we realize that this gift took time and energy to pick out, so we are thoughtful about our thanks that we give.
     Growing up, I was a very fortunate child, I was given many gifts, ones I asked for and sometimes ones I didn't, but they were things my mother or father had over heard me say that I wanted or something that I had gotten excited for when I saw a commercial on television. Each and every time I was given something I was thankful, even if it was a little toy from the dollar store. I was thankful and I knew it made them happy to see me happy. But the most important thing was that I was thankful, If i didn't say thank you my parents would ask, "What do you say?" and I would often realize that I didn't thank them or whoever gave me the gift and Thank them.
     As of lately I find myself not remembering to say thank you. I look around and I see many people with SO many talents and blessings from God. Rather than realizing what I have been given I envy. I turn into a spoiled child, I know what I have, and I'm told it is good but I want more an better that what is mine. I have been forgetting to say thank you to God. I forget to give him thanks for the gift life and eternal life. I forget to give him thanks for the wonderful friends and family I have. I have been forgetting to thank him for one of my personal favorites, the gift of creation. God has given me the gift of being able to look at things around me and see them in a different light. The gift of being an artist.
     I love being an artist. I love having the ability to see things in a different light. I revel in the fact that I can create. Every time I get acknowledgment for my art I know that it wasn't me but it was him. I give him the glory... but I never thank him. If I remember to thank a friend for a small gift yet      With Easter upon our door steps I wanna encourage you to seek out the lord and thank him for not only everything he has done for you with sending his son to die on the cross but thank him for the small things, thank for the big things, thank him for everything. The good bad and ugly. Thank him in everything.

" But he said to her, "You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?" In all this Job did not sin with his lips. "   Job 2:10

February 7, 2008

Something's Missing.

35"Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? 35It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out. "He who has ears to hear, let him hear.""
- Luke 14:34

For the past few days I have been feeling like a void is within me, like something isn't there, something is missing. Sounds like a pretty existentialist thing to say but it's true. It's really be kinda hard for me to think that this void has been brought on by actions I've been doing and/or rather actions I haven't been doing. I've been going though some busy times in school. I switched my major this semester and it's kind of a whole new world I had figured out how to do what I had wanted to do and what I needed to do.

When I was in my previous major I was able to make time for work, friends, church and just procrastination. I had formed a schedule that let me do what I wanted to do and what I needed to do. Now it seems like I don't have time to do anything... which sadly means spending time with my God, my manual for life and time in communication with the guy that I owe my life to, Jesus. I didn't till quite literally just now, realize what was missing. I feel like a fool for not realizing this. This happened to me once already but I don't want it to happen again. I think as I sit here writing this Jesus is using the void to make me realize that I am not "filling my tank" with the word of God. Sadly something I always struggle with

As I sit here I'm listening to some podcasts of my pastors sermons and as I sit here something that my pastor said during one of his prayers, "We need you! Without you we are nothing! Without you we can do nothing." I needed to hear that, that was God reminding that yes I am getting busy and yes its tough but I need to remember that I need a wonderful counselor, mighty God, everlasting father, prince of peace. I need peace right now, I need someone I can talk to, I need someone to pick me up.

I continue to struggle with finding the time to do anything right now... but I need to find that time... i need that time to "fill my tank" Nothings going to work without my fuel.

January 25, 2008

Circles.

As I sit here in the morning having woken up way too early for work I decide its time for me to just lay in bed all ready to go and just listen to some music. I turn on the tunes and just let it shuffle, but as I lay there with my eyes closed and song after song is played I start to get lost in my thoughts, getting myself a little mentally restless. Thats no good, but as soon as I'm ready to get up my playlist decides to play Not Ashamed by the awesome but disbanded group Kurios. Im sure most of you dont know who kurios is but they were an awesome band that was really influential in my deciding to be a christian.

Even during the time when I was at my lowest during my bouts with depression years ago and basically had turned my back on God i still listened to this group. They were something that I cried to, got pissed off to, and got back to a decent place with. I know it sounds like every other emo teen, but its weird, even though they are now disbanded and the remaining members have created another AWESOME band, the lyrics and the memories that I have from this band is just such a humbling experience. Knowing that even in my lowest anti-god point, he was still there working on me, making permanent changes in me. Its really freakin' awesome to have someone like that there for you. I'm just going to sit here and be humbled as I listen to some memory filled music. So many memories good bad and indifferent.

When God finds a spot to work his "magic" the way he does with music and me its awesome.

January 24, 2008

What a difference a year makes

As February fast approaches I'm reminded what amazing things can happen in a years time. This time last year I was a lost soul looking for something. I was looking in beer cans and and shot glasses. (man does that make me sound like I was an alcoholic?!) I had a good time doing it. Do I regret it? Not at all. Do I want to do it again? Nope. I thought having fun with the help of a drink with some friends was a good time. I was always smiling when I had a drink with friends.

Rewind even further, three years ago. I was depressed, I was calling out to God in a "Please help me God, I'm going into a life changing surgery, I need you, you gave me a Christian doctor, I remember you from church, "your only begotten son blah blah blah" please guide the doctors knife as he slices and dices me. Oh your done? I'm recovered? Awesome! Thanks God Ill talk to ya later... sucker." Hrm... it almost pains me to write that, but thats how I was for a bit. I'm ashamed.

Lets come back to last year. This time last year a lovely time wouldn't you say? Right. So after God saw how messed up I was and how much of a broken sinner I was he decided to step in and bring me back to him. He got me to goto a lovely college Christian retreat called Jubilee. I didn't really understand the power that Jubilee could have one someone, or at least the seed planting capabilities that it had. Boy did it have it. After attending Jubilee my friend, my savior and my God started working like lightning in my heart. He turned me around and filled that void that I had in me. He filled it so it burst and I wanted to tell EVERYONE about how awesome he was/is/forever will be.

I am filled with a joy right now, as I write this, that is so humbling. To see someone be used and abused like I did to my friend; only to have him come back and help me back up on my feet and dust me off, even carry me for a little bit. Its baffling why and how he does it. I don't know if I could do that. Its probably a good thing that I wasn't sent to the earth to save the population 'ey?

Its amazing what can happen in a year. A fall. A spring back. A Joyous sunny season. As that Jubilee thing approaches again I am renewed with a faith that is in a new better place. I approach this conference with a heart for Jesus and a calling to do his work. To be a light for him. To help other college kids like myself. Knowing if I want to succeed I need to keep my eye looking upwards and my heart opened.

Amen.

January 14, 2008

A New Start.

So I have been an avid livejournal user for years, when they still had invited codes baby! I still read and keep up with my friends on livejournal but for me to blog on, I feel that... I just need a new start. A place where I can be open a place where when I look back I don't see discouraging posts about depression, past mistakes and old friends that were no good for me. Here I can have a fresh start.

I feel this fresh start is more symbolic for me than an actual fresh start. My walk with my lord over the past year has really been strengthened and my God has changed me for the best, he has been molding me to a new person, with the good and bad traits of the old.
Yet, O LORD, you are our Father.
We are the clay, you are the potter;
we are all the work of your hand.
-Isaiah 64:8
I feel here I can gush about my experiences with God and where I have my struggles, where I have seen God change me. How I incorporate God into my passion of art and into everyday life even. Sometimes I'll post about how the lord has quenched my thirst through the reading of his word, anything that I have to talk, and sometimes gush, about.