Inspired! Truth wrapped in art, music and story

2016, July 014 (1280x960)

With a Master’s degree in History of Ideas and Aesthetics and a deep appreciation for the power of art to connect with our hearts,  I’ve long included visual art, music, drama and movie clips in my presentations. But in these messages and my Advent Celebrations, art that brings Scripture to life plays a larger part.

To quote Christian visual artist Makoto Fujimura, the arts help us develop “skills in listening to the wider culture.” In today’s culture that values imagination and creativity, they build a bridge to outsiders–the Muslim friend who loves Van Gogh. Art brings “bouquets of flowers” to a culture and even churches that undervalue the power of beauty to point us to Christ and restore our souls. In combination with IF: Table-like conversation cards, art generates a roomful of sparkling conversation (Ask me about helping you host a Starry Night Cafe.)

These presentations require big screen TV or computer projection in your venue. Several presentations need *audio set up as well.

Van Gogh Starry NightSeeing Like Van Gogh; Loving Like Jesus: We tend to tag people in our group: this one talks too much…that one always overdresses…that one cannot get her head out of her phone. Jesus looks at people and sees “sheep without a shepherd,” the outcast who needs a touch, the rich young ruler I love. This presentation helps you consider how we  might look at someone…and love them.

Pairing Van Gogh’s spiritual journey and images with Don McLean’s “Starry, Starry Night” song*, we’ll explore how Van Gogh looked at people and loved them. How he could see the eternal in the every day and pour it into paint on a canvas. This message helps us move beyond the “us vs. them” mentality and see the image of God in each face. We’re commanded to respond to others, especially those on the margins, with empathy and forbearance.  We’ll consider practical ways to do that when it’s not our natural response.

(I can also help you plan a Starry Night Cafe event that combines this presentation with dinner and guided IF: Table-style conversation. You’ll receive promo poster and bulletin inserts, conversation question cards, welcome poster and background music. Also ways to include the artists in your group)

Postsecret EasterPostSecrets and Rembrandt: How God Redeems Our Regrets-“Write your true secret on a postcard. Decorate it. Mail it in.” The PostSecrets blog illustrates how we can follow our hearts apart from God–and wind up with all these hidden stashes of regret.

In this message we’ll see the deep value of confession–how letting God and others in can be the first step of healing. How goodness brings the relief of holiness.  But how the burden of relentless striving for goodness, apart from grace, can crush us as surely as binging on our pleasures. Rembrandt's Return of the ProdigalJesus’ parable of the prodigal son and Rembrandt’s painting of his return capture our hearts and press the question: How will we live in response to God’s commands  and his grace? Frozen in self-righteousness, or melted by mercy? (Strong gospel presentation)

Includes a time for reflection with Rembrandt’s art and Kim Hill’s Arms of Love.*

Advent Rockwell 2




Norman Rockwell Never Met My Family: Our culture teeters between cynicism and a longing to make our families respectful, kind and united again. Watching a montage of Rockwell paintings we can’t help but contrast his world with our world of such relational brokenness. But the gospel is better than the world of Norman Rockwell.

Francis Schaeffer has said that the gospel has a minor theme–pain, loss and sorrow. When we ignore it, we can seem overly sentimental and shallow. We ignore a deeply felt part of life. The Bible unflinchingly shows the stark reality of the minor theme, but reveals the major theme–the joy of redemption, more beautiful and meaningful precisely because it overcomes brokenness and loss.

Today’s postmodern culture tends to focus on the minor theme. The gospel deeply acknowledges the minor theme, but invites us to keep the major theme the major theme. Advent Isenheim 2011The great Isenheim Altarpiece physically shows us that we come to the major theme–the birth and resurrection of Jesus–by opening up the panels of the minor theme–his crucifixion and death.

We’ll reflect on how we are experiencing the major and minor themes in our own lives–with defeat? Resignation? Or a confident, alert expectation that Jesus will come to us and fulfill all his promises for us.

Taken from one of my most popular blog posts: How the Gospel is Better than the World of Norman Rockwell

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