Art and Creativity

“For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.” (Romans 8:20-22, ESV)

“God actually cares about the earth, but we just seem to think it’s going to burn.
God actually cares about creating good art, but we seem to think it’s reserved for salvation messages.
God actually cares about mundane jobs, when we seem to think only “Christian ministry” will make him happy.”

“Our lives on earth aren’t just placeholders until we go to heaven. We are to create, cultivate, and redeem while we’re here.”

“The fact that we can create is a sign we were created in [God’s] image. No other creatures have this ability to create.”

“Too often, instead of acting like mirrors pointing back to Jesus, we try to act like billboards, advertising ourselves.”

“Trying to get glory for things we have done is like the moon shouting, “Look how awesome I am,” when the only reason the moon is shining in the first place is because of this sun. The brightness of the moon is borrowed brightness.”

-Jefferson Bethke, Jesus > Religion (Thomas Nelson, 2013), 156-158

Calvin’s Thoughts on Liberty, Pleasure and Beauty

John Calvin rejected Christian asceticism — the teaching that extreme denial of earthly things was beneficial for godliness. He condemned these severe restrictions since they restricted “consciences more tightly than does the Word of God”

Calvin also cautioned against antinomianism — the teaching that Christians are free from the Law. “Certainly I admit that consciences neither ought to nor can be bound … to definite and precise legal formulas; but inasmuch as Scripture gives general rules for lawful use, we ought surely to limit our use in accordance with them.”

Calvin then gives support for a Christian appreciation for art, pleasure and beauty.

“The use of God’s gifts is not wrongly directed when it is referred to that end to which the author himself created and destined them for us, because he created them for our good, not for our ruin. Accordingly, no one will hold to a straighter path than he who diligently looks to this end. Now, if we ponder to what end God created food, we will find that he meant not only to provide for necessity but also for delight and good cheer. Thus the purpose of clothing, apart from necessity, was [respectableness] and decency ….

Has the Lord clothed the flowers with great beauty that greets our eyes, the sweetness of smell that is wafted upon our nostrils, and yet will it be unlawful for our eyes to be affected by that beauty, our sense of smell by the sweetness of that odor? What? Did he not so distinguish colors as to make some more lovely than others? What? Did he not endow gold and silver, ivory and marble, with a loveliness that renders then more precious than other metals or stones? Did he not, in short, render many things attractive to use, apart from their necessary use?

-John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, 3.10.1-2.

Jesus > Religion

What if I told you Jesus came to abolish religion
What if I told you voting Republican really wasn’t His mission?
What if I told you republican doesn’t automatically mean Christian
And just because you call some people blind doesn’t automatically give you vision

I mean if religion is so great, why has it started so many wars
Why does it build huge churches, but fails to feed the poor
Tells single moms God doesn’t love them if they’ve ever had a divorce
But in the Old Testament, God actually calls religious people whores

Religion might preach grace, but another thing they practice
Tend to ridicule God’s people, they did it to John The Baptist
They can’t fix their problems, and so they just mask it
Not realizing religion’s like spraying perfume on a casket
See the problem with religion, is it never gets to the core
It’s just behavior modification, like a long list of chores
Like let’s dress up the outside make it look nice and neat
But it’s funny that’s what they use to do to mummies while the corpse rots underneath

Now I ain’t judging, I’m just saying quit putting on a fake look
Cause there’s a problem if people only know you’re a Christian by your Facebook
I mean in every other aspect of life, you know that logic’s unworthy
It’s like saying you play for the Lakers just because you bought a jersey
You see this was me too, but no one seemed to be on to me
Acting like a church kid, while addicted to pornography
See on Sunday I’d go to church, but Saturday getting faded
Acting if I was simply created just to have sex and get wasted
See I spent my whole life building this facade of neatness
But now that I know Jesus, I boast in my weakness

Because if grace is water, then the church should be an ocean
It’s not a museum for good people, it’s a hospital for the broken
Which means I don’t have to hide my failure, I don’t have to hide my sin
Because it doesn’t depend on me it depends on him
See because when I was God’s enemy and certainly not a fan
He looked down and said I want, that, man
Which is why Jesus hated religion, and for it he called them fools
Don’t you see so much better than just following some rules
Now let me clarify, I love the church, I love the Bible, and yes I believe in sin
But if Jesus came to your church would they actually let him in
See remember he was called a glutton, and a drunkard by religious men
But the son of God never supports self righteousness not now, not then

Now back to the point, one thing is vital to mention
How Jesus and religion are on opposite spectrums
See one’s the work of God, but one’s a man made invention
See one is the cure, but the other’s the infection
See because religion says do, Jesus says done
Religion says slave, Jesus says son
Religion puts you in bondage, while Jesus sets you free
Religion makes you blind, but Jesus makes you see
And that’s why religion and Jesus are two different clans

Religion is man searching for God, Christianity is God searching for man
Which is why salvation is freely mine, and forgiveness is my own
Not based on my merits but Jesus’s obedience alone
Because he took the crown of thorns, and the blood dripped down his face
He took what we all deserved, I guess that’s why you call it grace
And while being murdered he yelled
“Father forgive them they know not what they do.”
Because when he was dangling on that cross, he was thinking of you
And he absorbed all of your sin, and buried it in the tomb
Which is why I’m kneeling at the cross, saying come on there’s room
So for religion, no I hate it, in fact I literally resent it
Because when Jesus said it is finished, I believe he meant it

“And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness” -Romans 4:5

-Jefferson Bethke,

A Help to Self-Dedication

“I the Lord, will make an everlasting covenant with you” (Isaiah 5:3).

“One shall say, I am the Lord’s, and another shall subscribe with his hand unto the Lord” (Isaiah 44:5).

Lord God of Hosts, You entered into covenant with Abraham, as he waited beside the sacrifices which he had prepared (Genesis 15:18), and You are now graciously waiting beside Jesus, the sacrifice which You have prepared, in order that sinners may come and enter into covenant with You (2 Corinthians 5:19). Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in Your sight, and I am no more worthy to be called Your child; but You, in Your rich mercy, are willing to receive me, and I, through Your grace, am willing to be Yours. I lay all my sin (Isaiah 53:6) — the sin of my nature (Psalm 51:5), the sin of my heart (Jeremiah 17:19), the sin of my life (Job 33:27), the sin of my lips (Isaiah 6:5), my secret sins (Psalm 139:3) — I lay all my sins, and iniquities, and unrighteousness, and transgressions, upon Jesus, the Lamb of God; and, cleansed by His blood, and made acceptable in his righteousness (Ephesians 1:6, 7), I desire now to give myself to You (2 Corinthians 8:5) in an everlasting covenant, never to be broken (Jeremiah 32:40).

I am not my own, I am Yours (1 Corinthians 6:19). My heart is not my own, it is Yours; I will endeavor to keep it for You, and to make it Bethel, a temple for the Holy Ghost (2 Corinthians 6:16). My thoughts are not my own, they are Yours; I will cultivate godly and heavenly meditations (Psalm 1:2 and 63:6). My words are not my own, they are Yours; I will avoid all idle, unprofitable, boastful, flattering, uncharitable discourse (Ephesians 4:29; Colossians 3:8-9); and I will seek to have my conversation always savoring of Christ and heaven (Deuteronomy 6:7; Mathew 12:34-37; Colossians 3:16). My eyes are not my own, they are Yours; I will withhold them from looking upon sin and vanity (Habakkuk 1:13). My wealth is not my own, it is Yours; I am only Your steward; I will therefore lay it out prudently and faithfully for You, avoiding all unnecessary expense upon myself (Deuteronomy 24:19-21; Job 29:12-13; Proverbs 3:9, 10; Matthew 25:5, 36; Luke 21:2, 8, 4). My time is not my own, it is Yours; I will employ it for You, doing all I do as unto the Lord, striving each day to grow in grace and in knowledge, and to make myself useful to my fellow-men; I will redeem my time from too long or needless visits, idle imaginations, fruitless discourse, unnecessary sleep, and more than needful care about my worldly affairs (Ephesians 5:16; Colossians 4:5). I desire to commit all I have to You; my friends, my family, my health, my business, my esteem in the world. I am willing to receive what You give, to lack what You withhold, to relinquish that You take, to suffer what You inflict, to be what You require!, and to do what You command.

Lord God of Hosts. I desire to deliberately, cheerfully, and with full purpose of heart, thus to surrender myself wholly and forever to You; I feel that this is my duty, my interest, my privilege, my glory; — I believe that You will receive what I thus give (2 Corinthians 6:17); I believe that You will keep what I have thus committed to You (2 Timothy 1:12); — I will trust in You for temporal provision (Psalm 23:1); I will trust in You for support under daily cares and labors (Isaiah 26:3); I will trust in You for pardon of daily sins (Ezekiel 36:25); I will trust in You for growth and fruitfulness (Hosea 12:5); I will trust to You for strength in the hour of death (Isaiah 43:2). If I sin, may I grieve without despair; if I walk uprightly, may I rejoice without pride.

Lord Jesus, I take You for my Prophet, my Priest, my King, my Life, my Light, my Rest, my Joy, my Glory, my All in All.

Spirit of Adoption, that proceeds from the Father and the Son, I desire to receive You into my soul, that You may abide with me. Convince me of sin, convince me of judgment, guide me into all truth; take of the things of Christ and show them to me; be as the dew and the rain of heaven to my soul, causing the Word of Life to take root and grow, and bear the fruits of peace, joy, love, gentleness; enable me to mortify the flesh with its affections and lusts — when the enemy comes in like a flood, lift up a standard against him; be in me as a well of living water — be in me as the earnest of the inheritance, as the first-fruits of heaven — sealing me unto the day of redemption. Holy and blessed Spirit, help me to distinguish between Your voice and the voice of the evil one — between Your suggestions and the impulses of the flesh — between Your leadings the stubbornness of my own heart. I will labor not to resist, nor grieve, nor dishonor, nor quench You; but, with a humble, broken, mortified, self-denying spirit, will endeavor to fall in with You in all things, and to think, and speak, and act in You.

-John Milne, The Life of John Milne by Horatius Bonar, Banner of Truth Trust, 452-454.
(Language updated by Erik Martin)

I Shine in the Light of God

I shine in the light of God;
His likeness stamps my brow;
Through the valley of death my feet have trod,
And I reign in glory now!
No breaking heart is here,
No keen and thrilling pain,
No wasted cheek, where the frequent tear
Hath roll’d and left its stain.

I have reach’d the joys of heaven:
I am one of the sainted band;
For my head a crown of gold is given,
And a harp is in my hand.
I have leam’d the song they sing,
Whom Jesus has set free;
And the glorious walls of heaven still ring
With my new-born melody.

No sin, no grief, no pain;
Safe in my happy home;
My fears all fled, my doubts all slain,
My hour of triumph’s come!
Oh! friends of mortal years,
The trusted and the true!
Ye are watching still in the valley of tears,
But I wait to welcome you.

Do I forget? oh, no!
For memory’s golden chain
Shall bind my heart to the hearts below,
Till they meet to touch again.
Each link is strong and bright:
And love’s electric flame
Flows freely down, like a river of light,
To the world from whence I came.

Do you mourn when another star
Shines out from the glittering sky?
Do you weep when the raging voice of war
And the storms of conflict die?
Then why should your tears run down,
And your hearts be sorely riven,
For another gem in the Saviour’s crown,
And another soul in heaven?

-John Milne? Recorded in The Life of John Milne by Horatius Bonar, Banner of Truth Trust, 295-296.

Beloved of Jesus, Whence Thy Fear

Belov’d of Jesus, whence thy fear,
Thy frequent sigh, thy dropping tear?
Should not this thought thy spirit cheer,
He cares for thee?

Thy way, I know, is strange and new,
Thy dear ones gone, thy helpers few;
But still this word remaineth true —
He cares for thee!

Thy work is great, thy strength is small,
And thoughts of failure on thee fall;
But in thy weakness on Him call,
He cares for thee!

Whate’er thy tim’rous heart may say,
Whate’er thy feelings, night or day,
Should all seem joining to betray —
He cares for thee!

He goes with thee, thy steps to guide,
Thy wounds to heal, thy sins to hide;
Then call on Him, whate’er betide,
He cares for thee!

His love how great no tongue can tell;
He died to save thy soul from hell;
No wife nor mother loves so well; —
He cares for thee!

Belov’d of Jesus, trust Him still,
Thy lot to choose, thy cup to fill;
Let no dark thoughts thy spirit chill —
He cares for thee!

-John Milne, The Life of John Milne by Horatius Bonar, Banner of Truth Trust, 260-261.


A Friend I Have Who Never

A friend I have who never
Forsakes me in my need;
Whose love, continuing ever,
Is proved by word and deed.
He sought me when, in folly,
I wandered far abroad;
To Him I owe it wholly
That now I walk with God.

I often vex and grieve Him
By sinful unbelief;
And oft forget, and leave Him
To seek elsewhere relief.
But when my troubles gather,
And sorrows overpower;
He leaves me not, but rather
Seems kinder than before.

Though now thick clouds enfold me,
Not knowing what awaits,
I’m sure He will uphold me,
In all my trying straits.
I know He will my losses
Convert to heavenly gains,
And He will use my crosses,
To break my earthly chains.

-John Milne, The Life of John Milne by Horatius Bonar, Banner of Truth Trust, 257-258.


Too Long I Have Been Blinded

Too long I have been blinded
By unbelief and sin,
Too long been earthly minded ; —
The world has dwelt within.
But now the light has broken
Upon my foolish soul ;
My God in love has spoken,
His words have made me whole.

I see the strange enchantment
That led me thus astray,
The hope of full contentment
Still lured me on the way.
I’ve toiled in ceaseless action
For things which never give
True peace and satisfaction
To those who for them live.

I wish no more to follow
Those images untrue ;
No more may mirage hollow,
Present itself to view.
Lord, keep me near the fountain,
Where living waters flow ;
And guide me up Thy mountain,
Away from things below.

-John Milne, The Life of John Milne by Horatius Bonar, Banner of Truth Trust, 257.

Beautiful Eulogy – Symbols And Signs

Pump the brakes, stop sign
You saw the sign now you ace evase?
Preacher saw them dollar signs
He on that paper chase
Stuffing profits in his pockets
Oh wolf, with a sheep’s appearance
And the reason he’s making that scratch huh
Is cause those ears itch
Pimping out the Gospel
A prostitution of false doctrine
Lies whistle in the wind
But we listen
If there’s a little truth mixed in
Find a pastor that suits you
On your TV with a suit and tie
Hitch a ride in his private jet
And you’ll be lookin’ stupid fly
And selfish ambition
Is a foolish religion
The riches of God’s mercy
Is worth more than your superstition
Tell me how does a Christian begin
To develop discernment and wisdom
First we submit every symbol and sign
To the authority of the scriptures

Symbols, Symbols, Symbols

Yep, are you the kind
That’s completely consumed
By symbols and signs?
If you are that’s fine
But don’t you find it interesting
How most of the time
Your self-interpreting seems to coincide
With what’s deep inside
Your heart’s desires
Seems rather convenient, doesn’t it?
I’m not saying that God can’t do it
Not saying that God won’t do it
That might very well be the case!
I’m simply making an observation of how much weight you place on it
What seems to be at stake and how much of your faith is actually banking on it
And how much of your mysticism is mixed with your religious philosophic system
Sometimes what we believe to be true from our supernatural pursuits is actually a fluke
A series of events that’s used to distract you from the truth
But, I’ll give you a sign that’s obvious
One of the most supernatural acts is that God through his Word has actually revealed everything pertaining to life in Godliness
There’s this idea that an individual
Is somehow more spiritual
If he sees these signs and symbols
And takes what’s normally invisible
And makes it simple
But I say the mark of a mature man
Is the one who reads God’s Word and understands
And allows that to govern his decisions and his perspective plans

Symbols, Symbols, Symbols

I like it when the wind shifts
They say it’s the movement of the Spirit
Still small voice, ya’ll hear it?
Remember that time I saw that leaf fall
I was positive it was God’s call
Wait for it, listen close
Ya’ll missed it?
I saw Gideon, Sampson, Paul
Elijah saw the clouds split
And know that God did it
And does it still
Still, his presence feels like chills
Right, and if I’m honest
It doesn’t happen often
Something must be wrong
It’s boring when my life is more like the book of Ruth than Exodus
I’ve never seen the partin’
Of an ocean
Or a cloud by day or pillar by night
Just a normal everyday working of life
Where things that suck royally
Is evidence of his royalty
Scratch your temple
So deep it’s simple
Silly us, ignore the plain
We prefer a riddle
Dying to see a miracle
While holding God’s diary
Looking for signs

Symbols, Symbols, Symbols

-Beautiful Eulogy from Instruments of Mercy by Humble Beast
Featuring Braille, Odd Thomas & Propaganda
Released 2013