Ask the Stars, Or Ask God?

Ask the Stars, Or Ask God?

Truth-Is-the-Stars

In college I took one astronomy class but it was enough to create a passion for the stars. I studied the constellations, spent time in our planetarium looking at all the seasons of stars and their patterns. Who would have known that I would be so drawn to patterns in the skies that I would make surface pattern design my vocation later in life?

Sometimes I wake up and go outside at 2 am just to see what God has done. It wasn’t always that way for me.

I also studied Astrology. I was attracted to the complexity and mystery of it, sure I could discern people’s personalities by knowing their astrological signs. I guess I thought we were somehow ruled by a random universe.

Today I hear many people refer to “the universe” as a powerful force, or higher power in their lives. I often hear them say things like, “whatever the universe decides,” referring to their fate or actions. They also put their wants and desires “out into the Universe” seriously expecting answers.

Throughout civilization, people have allowed their lives to be controlled by whatever attributes they assumed the stars held over them, even worshipping the stars. According to the Bible, in Job 9:9,10, it was God who created all things, including the stars which He set in the sky. The universe answers to God alone. The stars themselves are mere balls of fiery gas and energy. If they have any effect on me it will be if they explode and fall down on my head!

Astrology is a man-made attempt to assign stars tasks over our lives so we can blame balls of gas for our flawed personalities and behavior. That’s kind of irresponsible.

Instead the Bible tells us that the stars point to the real truth – That God made them for His plan and purpose, and by the Word spoken from His mouth – perhaps the big bang. He also tells us in James 1:5 that if we lack wisdom we should ask God and He will tell us what to do. The stars do not promise to answer – they are fiery gas balls.

Since God does promise to answer, I will ask my Creator for wisdom rather than the objects He created.

This print is available here as a hand-signed giclee print and other products from my stores on Society 6 and Fine Art America.

 

 

Could You Explain Christmas, Please?

Could You Explain Christmas, Please?

Christmas-Birds-24

I’ve always wanted to design Christmas gift wrap because I see a lot of commercial wrapping paper that disturbs me. Much of it reflects what our culture thinks Christmas is all about – buying stuff and more stuff. I’m not opposed to really great stuff; I just want it to have meaning.

Isaiah 9:6 states the meaning of Christmas for me: “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”  The prophet Isaiah, in Isaiah 7:14 even describes the manner in which the Prince of Peace shall come into the world:  “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”

This statement puts in perspective what has been lost in our culture – that Christmas is about a baby who was born, but not just any baby – A Savior, a Redeemer, a Wonderful Counselor, the Everlasting Father, Mighty God.

Jesus came across galaxies, across the expanse of the universe to reach us. He beckons with outstretched nail scarred hands to say, “Follow me.” It’s a simple message with life-changing impact to those who decide to follow Him. I am certain of it because He has changed my life and continues to do so when I simply follow Him.

Most Christmas gift wrap designs are devoid of any spiritual meaning in order to reach a wider non-spiritual audience. Taking a spiritual stand with art can be dangerous. Or I can just be me and tell it like it is – that Christmas is about the Prince of Peace who also brings joy and hope to those who believe. I designed the pattern above with 3 birds in a forest because it reflects what Christmas means to me. The complimentary pattern below will join a collection of Christmas patterns I’m working on for next season in gift wrap, stationery, greeting cards, etc.  (When I was designing these I’m sure they also reflect this unusually cold December in Southern California!)

Christmas-Forest

Finally below is a Christmas greeting card. I think this one best sums it up for me – that Christmas is light, born out of darkness to show the way. May you find Him at the center of it all. Merry Christmas.

Christmas-Card-2015

 

It’s No Secret

It’s No Secret

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Do you find it hard to be grateful at times? Does the popular practice of “gratitude” grate on your nerves especially with Oprah tells us we should do it? Yeah, I know, but I now admit she’s right.  Not because she’s right or I’m right, but because God’s word is true and right, and especially practical.

The Bible has so much to say about the practice of being thankful and how it changes our lives by changing our perspective.

When a person has a lot, or more than enough, they tend to think they deserve even more. I thought I deserved to drive an expensive luxury automobile and I did. The more expensive it became the more unhappy I was with it. Suddenly its sleek beauty became dull and even a bit frightening when contemplating my next bill to maintain it.

Isn’t that how it goes? We think we want something. We buy it. We use it. It becomes less shiny and attractive then we replace it or throw it out with hardly a thought. I’m guilty.

I learned a valuable lesson and it’s no secret. Practicing gratitude is a discipline worth acquiring because my life is happier and more satisfied with what I have. I no longer clammer for more. I don’t engage in “retail therapy,” because I now know that whatever I buy won’t make me more fulfilled.

Make no mistake – I don’t deny myself something that will delight my heart, or is beautiful for the sake of just being beautiful. I consider buying something wonderful and artistic as an act of appreciation – an act of gratitude for the maker of that work of art, or innovative design.

What I’ve learned is that if I want to live in fulfillment and satisfaction that only comes from God, then I must practice thanking Him for the blessings He provides. I look for them. I seek them out. I am in a perpetual state of discovery. And more important, I write them down. That way I can refer back to what God has done that only He could do. It gives me confidence that He will continue to bless and provide. I have no doubt because I have evidence of His hand in my life.

OK, now I’m gonna go all retail on you.  This print is available as wall art and other products at my store on Society6. Hope you like it.

Careless Words or Kindness?

Careless Words or Kindness?

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More and more the world is angry and chaotic. People are defensive, even outright aggressive, when threatened or offended. Rude and vulgar language is no longer surprising whether on the road, in places of business, or on TV. Have you noticed the increase in videos of people brawling over the least little provocation? Aggression has become the subject of entertainment.

The truth is kindness is not my natural inclination. I wish it was. However, I have learned to embrace and practice kindness like the necessity of exercise. The results are kind of amazing. The kinder I am to complete strangers, the less stress I feel. But when I go the way of the world and lash out at someone’s insult, ignorance, or poor service, I’m the one who feels terrible afterwards. I am painfully aware by experience how unkind words destroy the spirit.

Each of us is a victim of someone’s unkindness. Each of us has also been a perpetrator. The upsurge in bullying may not be on the rise at all. Maybe we’re finally noticing the long term effect it has on the human spirit.

I have the freedom to criticize, bully or make a sarcastic remark. Everyone does it so it’s easy to fall in step with the culture. Choosing to be kind in spite of how I’m treated is just that – a choice that God instilled in me.

When I choose kindness instead of my natural inclination, it produces joy. I’m less stressed. Like any exercise, the benefits are worth the effort.

I made this latest print to remind me that I can’t be neutral on this issue. I have been given freedom of choice by a loving God who has been amazingly gracious and kind to me. Shouldn’t I do likewise?

The print above is available as a hand signed giclee or on various other products at Society6 and Fine Art America.

 

Every Art Work You Create

Every Art Work You Create

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In my daily practice as an artist I’ve started pieces I haven’t finished. I’ve made sketches that don’t seem destined for anything special.

You may feel that way sometimes, even throwing your work in the trash without another thought. You hope tomorrow you’ll make something better.

But I challenge you not to give in to that impulse because you’ve just spent time making something of value. Maybe you think you’ll never sell it or it’s incomplete but it still has value to you, as an artist. Something inside you inspired you to start that piece in the first place. It must have meant something.

Those unsuccessful pieces serve show you how far you’ve progressed as an artist and what skills you’ve acquired. I hesitate to even call them unsuccessful. I tend to recycle work that doesn’t please me into something better suited to the next phase of art I’m working on now.

Every brush, pencil, pen applied to paper or canvas is something brand new that never existed before. Keep that in mind before you toss something you’ve created in the trash bin. It deserves more respect because it’s as unique as you are.

Put it aside for further exploration and deeper inspiration. Eventually it will reveal its purpose.