August 8, 2012

Creative Calling - August

Reach Out

“See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts.”  Exodus 31:2-3

In previous chapters of Exodus, the Lord had revealed in great detail the design of the Tabernacle, its sacred articles, and the garments for the priests. Each of these items was to be made from the finest materials possible and decorated with artistic excellence.  We should not be surprised that next God specifically chose who would craft these items.

God chose Bezalel for this crucial task because, he explained, “I have filled him with the Spirit of God, giving him great wisdom, ability, and expertise in all kinds of crafts” Exodus 31:3. Given the fact that God’s Spirit was generally reserved in the time of the Old Testament for spiritual and political leaders (prophets, priests, kings), we may be surprised by the impact of the Spirit in Bezalel’s life. He was gifted by God’s Spirit, not to prophesy, teach, or rule, but to create works of art with precious metals, wood, and gemstones.

Engraving and carving don’t appear in the New Testament lists of spiritual gifts. (See Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12 and Ephesians 4)  But the example of Bezalel makes it clear that the Spirit of God can gift someone for excellence in the arts.

“Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.”  1 Peter 4:10

The Creative gifts and talents you have been given are from God.  We are to use those gifts to grow His kingdom.  It is not only important for us to find ways to use our gifts to help others, but it is also vital for our own spiritual development.  We are never more ourselves that when we are doing what God uniquely created us to do.  When we don’t take opportunities to do that, we are hurting ourselves spiritually.  So what does it look like to use creative gifts?  Well, growing God’s kingdom happens through relationships.  And building relationships happens over time.  There are many opportunities for artists to grow relationships in a community.  We just have to find our niche.

 “Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function,  so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.  We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith.  If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach;  if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.”  Romans 12:4-8

I’m going to list just some of the examples we have right here in our community to use our gifts of arts & crafts to serve and bless others.  I urge you to spend some time in prayer and search the scriptures this week.  Ask God to direct you towards what ways you should serve specifically as an artist.  Think about the ways God has allowed you to use your gifts in the past.

Scrapbooking – There is a program for Arizona Foster Care that seeks volunteers to create “Life Books” for foster children, researching and documenting their journeys for them. 

Sewing – recently there was an opportunity to sew simple skirts out of donated & scrap fabric for a member of our church to take over to Africa.  I’m sure there will be more coming up.

There is an organization called AZ Blankets 4 Kids that provides comforting blankets and quilts to needy, seriously ill and traumatized children in our community. 

Crafting - Young Lives is an organization within Young Life, specifically ministering to teenage mothers.  There are many serving opportunities with them, including a craft night once a month where you can craft with the girls.  

Photography – Donate your skill & time as a photographer for Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep a group that sends photographers to hospitals where parents have just lost or are about to loose a baby so they may capture memories to hold on to.


Hope Thru Art – Join Steve in making art to bless and encourage the hopeless and homeless of downtown Phoenix. 

 There are always opportunities for outreach and to build relationships when you teach or take an art class.

And lets not forget your personal art!  Look for ways to display your work so that it may touch others and create opportunity for you to share your faith.  From your own home, to galleries, art shows and businesses, even on the internet, there are places where people can see and be moved by what God inspires you to make.  And just because it may be for sale, doesn’t mean it isn’t ministering to people.  Let God lead you with what to do with your art.

“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”  Ephesians 2:10

Bekah  :)

July 1, 2012

Creative Calling - July

Contrast – Light vs. Darkness

Contrast is a principle of art.  It refers to the arrangement of opposite elements (light vs. dark, rough vs. smooth, large vs. small) in a piece to create visual interest, excitement and drama.  The colors white and black provide the greatest degree of contrast.  When we think of light, we often think of white, and when we think of dark, our mind imagines black.

This black & white photograph “Praise to the God of Creation” by Sid Turner shows the light of God shining on the woman.  More of his work can be seen here:

The Bible is full of examples of both light and darkness, from Genesis through Revelation.  In fact, I am overwhelmed trying to choose what to share with you!  As artists we can draw from these examples as we create.  Most often darkness is used to describe evil or worldly things and light is used to describe God and good things.  Paul gives us some details about his conversation with Jesus in Acts 26.  Here he is describing to King Agrippa what Jesus told him.  That he would rescue Paul and send him out to the people,  verse 18, “to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.”  That’s what we need to do.  Turn from darkness to light.  Jesus is the light we are turning to.  He tells us in John 8:12 “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Not only do we have the light of life, but we are to share that light with the world.  “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.”  Matthew 5:14-16.   Now I can’t sing a note to save my life, but can’t you just hear the tune of “This Little Light of Mine?”  Our art IS light that we can share with others.
When we are creating, if the piece we are working on is about our past, life without our Savior, our sin, or some worldly evils, our palate will be dark.  Shadows, night, and dark images are effective tools to use, creating a feeling of being uncomfortable or empty.  “Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.”  John 3:19

Light in our art work gives feelings of hope, joy, God’s presence and the change He makes in us and in our world.  The sun, candles, and other light sources are popular symbols of God’s light.  Eventually the sun and moon will pass away, and our new world will be bright with only the light of God.  “There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.”  Revelation 22:5

Often we include both light and dark in our work to make a more powerful image.  Contrast, conflict, comparison.  The life left behind is dark and the new life in us is bright.

“The Lighthouse” digital art by Greg Moores, is a great example of contrast to convey feeling.  The light shines a path in the water for us to follow.  More of his amazing work can be seen here:

Think about that contrast in your life.  Have you let go of the darkness?  Is there anything you need to do to move out of it?  Are you living in the light of the Lord?  How can you display your answers in your art?

Bekah J

June 22, 2012

Creative Calling – June

You are unique.  God made you that way.  We all have different gifts and talents.  For those of us with creative gifts it is so easy to compare ourselves and our art with others.

If you’ve taken art history or strolled a museum or gallery, you have probably thought, like I have, that there is no way your art would ever measure up to the standards of the masters.

The feeling of inadequacy kept me from attending art school for many years.  Even though I knew God had given me a passion, I did not have the faith that I was good enough to make any kind of difference in the art world.

I have a desk plaque.  I got it when I worked as a graphic artist years ago.  It has my name and title.  Rebekah Bell – Artist.  I kept the plaque when I left that job and it wasn’t until then that it came to mean something special to me.  You see, before that job I had no confidence in myself as an artist.  But I loved art!  God provided that job for me and used it to build me up and inspire me to study art further.  When I left that is just what I did.  Whenever I look at it now, I remember the path the Lord took me to give me that confidence.

The truth is, I’m not good enough, none of us are.  There is a verse that is often taken out of context, we say it to each other for comfort, “God doesn’t give you what you can’t handle”.  Really that’s not the whole truth.  God doesn’t give you what you can’t handle IN HIM.  Philippians 4:13 says “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”  It’s all about Him!  It’s not about what we can accomplish in life, it’s about doing what we are called to do for Christ, and relying on Him to get it done.

When we let go of prideful thinking, and yes, insecurity is pride!  We open up the door for God to use us.

“Humble yourself before Him.”  James 4:10

Pride is not pleasing to God, it is imperative that we humble ourselves before him, because “apart from him, we can do nothing.” John 15:4-5

We not only need to humble ourselves before God, we need to humble ourselves before others.

Luke 17:10 reminds us that when we use our gifts for him, “we have only done our duty.”  This verse is not saying it’s wrong to feel good about ourselves or what we have made.  We should take pleasure in pleasing God, that should be an ambition, but when we receive compliments on our work we need to learn to receive them with grace and humility.

What is your motivation for creating?  Is it to glorify God or yourself?  Jeremiah 45:5 says “should you then seek great things for yourself?  Seek them not.”

If we are truly ministering in the name of Jesus, our motivation should be Him and His glory.

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.  Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Philippians 4:3-4

If you create for God’s glory, there is no need to compare yourself with other artists or have insecurity.  You simply follow God’s leading, and create what He reveals to you.

“Always give yourself fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that our labor in the Lord is not in vain.”  1 Corinthians 15:58

The work that we do as artists is the work of the Lord.

Can you begin to see yourself as God sees you?  As the artist you are?  Get yourself a plaque if you need it J