Peter Leaves the Boat



“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

29 “Come,” he said.

In the middle of the storm, he himself standing on the waves, Jesus looks to the disciples as they huddled in the middle of the boat in fear. He encourages them not to be afraid because it is him. Peter, probably shivering from fear and soaked to the bone, calls out to his Rabbi, “if it is you, let me walk out on the waves to you”. In the middle of the chaos of the storm, he wanted so badly to be near Jesus, that his first thought was “let me walk out to you on the waves in the middle of this storm”. He takes the steps out onto the water, and for a moment in faith and time, a mortal man is walking on water with Jesus.

This painting captures that first moment out of the boat for Peter. The waves, chaotic and wild, splashing over the side of the boat, are somehow supporting him as he ventures out towards Jesus. The boat, representative of the safety and security of what Peter knew and was comfortable with, lies in the background. Peter still has one hand on the boat, taking advantage of that last moment of reassurance as he tests the waters and takes his first steps; his eyes are fixed on his Lord.

I love the way that Chris has pictured Peter in this painting. He is technically out of the boat, but still clinging for that brief moment to what he knew. So often, in the midst of life’s storms, we can be like Peter. We fix our eyes on Jesus, hear his voice bid us to come to him, take the step out onto the crashing waves, and leave that one hand holding onto the boat, just in case. We cling to what we think we know as safe and secure because we refuse to take a few steps in faith towards the ultimate source of all peace and comfort. We let the chaos and spray of the storm keep us too close to the boat.

The command the Jesus gave was simple, “don’t be afraid” and “come”. That’s all Jesus asks of us. No matter how tough life can be, how hard the wind howls, and how high the waves crash. He simply says for us not to fear because he’s there. Once we’ve relinquished the fear, we can act with boldness and authority. We, like Peter, can step out into life’s storms and walk towards our Lord and Savior, knowing that he is there with us in the middle of all of the wind, rain, and noise.

May we all have the courage to seek God’s presence and hear his voice in the midst of life’s struggles, like Peter did.

Chris Cook is a premier southern artist and owner of Madison Studios, a web design, maintenance, and e-commerce and marketing company. For his artist biography, contact information, or to view more of his work, click HERE.


…But Now, I see…


He replied, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!”

So often, as I contribute to this blog, I get caught up in the subject matter and forget that it’s an artist’s blog. Chris has such a tremendous gift for capturing moments in time on his canvasses that it becomes easy to be absorbed into the subject matter, and nearly forget the skill and beauty of the process that went into the creation of the painting. The beautiful southern landscapes, many of which were either drawn from memory or a quick sketch that Chris made during his travels, evoke thoughts of the simplicity and beauty that surround the pastures, barns, and country roads that he illustrates. The expressions and feeling that are captured in many of his spiritual paintings can nearly transform the viewer back in time to sights, sounds, and emotions of the moment in history.

From a technical standpoint – Chris tells me that this painting was done with acrylic paint, mostly with a palate knife. This allowed him to achieve the texture of this painting that I find fascinating. It is based on a group of 1950’s California artists, including Elmer Bischoff, whose style Chris saw in one of his many art history books. Immediately when he saw this style of painting, he knew the subject matter that he wanted to use for his creation with that style. As an artist, Chris tries to “Re-use, Recycle, and Re-purpose” themes, styles, and techniques of artwork in a way different from the original creation. Much like his painting of Judas Kissing Jesus, where he blended two different Picasso paintings’ styles into a beautiful expression of Jesus’ betrayal. Chris’ love for art and the creative process lend themselves very well to inspire and motivate him to create ever evolving beautiful portfolio of work.

From a content standpoint – This painting, if you know the story from John 9, screams so much! Like they often did, the religious leaders had set out to investigate Jesus’ healing of a blind man near the pool of Siloam. They wanted to know how and why “this man” had restored sight to the blind man on the Sabbath. They questioned the intentions that Jesus had in healing the man, along with the power with which he did it. They called him a sinner for carrying out a healing act on a holy day of rest. I love the man’s response as they’re grilling him.

The man answered, “Now that is remarkable! You don’t know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes.

31We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly person who does his will. 

32 Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. 33If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.”

The once blind man only knew one thing about Jesus; once he’d had an encounter with him, he was never the same. His eyes were opened, and he began to see. Nothing else mattered in that moment but the healing and enlightenment that came from Jesus’ touch. The Pharisees were too caught up in the why and the how to experience the true gift of the presence of Jesus in that moment.

I think we could all stand to learn a thing or two from the man whose sight had been restored – once you’ve experienced Jesus’ healing, nothing else really matters. All we need to know is that it happened!

May we choose not to be like the religious leaders, not to get caught up in all of the details and specifics of how, when, where, and why Jesus can come and do his healing work, and simply curl up at his feet and let him do the healing that he came into this world to do!

Chris Cook is a premier southern artist and owner of Madison Studios, a web design, maintenance, and e-commerce and marketing company. For his artist biography, contact information, or to view more of his work, click HERE.

Southern Landscape: Cool Shade



When you visit Chris’ home page, the tag across the top reads ” A Georgia Artist. American Painter from the South.” I think this picture helps to capture a bit of the Southern heritage that permeates a lot of his work, particularly his landscapes.

When I look at this painting, I could easily imagine that it is a snapshot of any of the countless cow pastures that dot the surrounding counties. The long wooden fence is not unlike many of the ones that we have all seen rolling down the country roads of this area.

After reading the title, “Cool Shade”, the painting begins to take on a whole new perspective. Anyone who has lived in the south through the “dog days” of summer knows the value of a good patch of shade. It seems that every life form tries to do all that they can to find a respite from the onslaught of heat and sun that accompany those days. There is nothing quite like a dip in a swimming hole, or a nap under a shade tree if you can find it in the heat of the day. Even the cows, like the ones shown in this painting do what they can to find relief.

Southern summers are long and hot, but the real joy that comes in finding a way to beat the heat. Popsicles, snow cones, ceiling fans, water sprinklers, swimming holes and shade trees typically feed into some of the best and most lasting memories of summer. So my question for you is this – How do you beat the heat in the summer months? Can you identify with our bovine friends pictured here?


Chris Cook is a premier southern artist and owner of Madison Studios, a web design, maintenance, and e-commerce and marketing company. For his artist biography, contact information, or to view more of his work, click HERE.

Jesus’ Baptism:


The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is the one I meant when I said,

‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.”

The inspiration for this painting is the event that, according to scriptures, marked the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry on earth. John the Baptist, a wild eyed, Birkenstock wearing, locust eating prophet had been calling out to the Jews for some time to “prepare the way of The Lord”, and “repent for the time is near”. He warned them to get their lives in order so that they would be ready for the Messiah’s appearance.

One day, around 30 years after the word became flesh, Jesus walks out to meet John at the River Jordan to be baptized. Immediately upon seeing Jesus, John proclaims that He is indeed the Messiah, the sacrificial lamb who would take away the sins of the world. Here before him was the one he had been sent to prepare the world to receive. Everything that he’d done up until this point had lead up to this moment. Jesus, God in flesh, had come to be baptized by a man.

John tells us that in that moment, he saw the Spirit fall on Jesus like a dove. There was a very visible change in Jesus’ countenance after this moment. He was fueled up and ready to begin his ministry here on earth. He immediately began recruiting and ministering to those around him that he would use to help change the world.

I find comfort in knowing that my God spent time here on this earth with humanity; the divine put on flesh and bone to be among us, so that we might know him more.

Chris does a great job of capturing this moment in his painting. You can see Jesus, robed in white to reinforce his purity and “lamb like” qualities. I love that the perspective of the shot isn’t from either John’s or Jesus’ perspective, but rather from the point of view of one who would be sitting on the banks of the river, witnessing our Lord and Savior being baptized, perhaps just as they had been moments before. He depicts John out in the water, expectantly waiting for his messiah to come and be baptized; I can almost feel how nervously excited John must have been in that moment.

There is a large original version of this painting on the wall in the Wesley Building at the First UMC here in Madison. It is positioned so that it is one of the focal points upon entering through the main doors of the building.

Chris Cook is a premier southern artist and owner of Madison Studios, a web design, maintenance, and e-commerce and marketing company. For his artist biography, contact information, or to view more of his work, click HERE.

Southern Artist: Chris and Mike



Chris Cook is a dear friend of mine, a member of the congregation at my church, and the father of two young boys who are active and involved in the children’s and youth ministry where I serve on staff. In addition to all of that, he is also my employer; part of my job is to write blog posts about his works of art in an effort to increase awareness of his paintings, and develop a following within the art community. I say all of this to tell you that there are certain paintings that are easier than others to write about than others;

Many of them are of a spiritual nature, which makes it easy for a youth pastor to find content.

Some of them are abstract, which stretches this simple minded Georgia boy a little bit to “understand” and “explain” them,

A lot of them blend styles and themes from popular artists like da Vinci and Picasso, forcing me to dig deep down to the “fine art” exposure that I’ve had in the past, and to remember what my teachers taught us about back in grade school.

And then, there are paintings like this, where Chris has captured a very personal moment with him and his older brother Mike. How do I even begin to write about these two boys, of which I know very little? What can I say about this piece of art that my boss made to express his bond with his brother as they grew up in the Conyers area? What do begin to say about his expression of colors, the blending of mediums, and styles? And, more importantly, how about the overalls that chris has on!? 😉

The truth is, I really do like this painting.

Artistically – Chris sketched this out based on an old photograph that he had of him and Mike taken some years back. He’s told me that he doesn’t do a lot of pencil sketches, so this one must be important. The article in the paper was glued on, in an effort to re-establish the “Georgian” childhood. The colors were all sort of free formed around the sketch and paper article. Overall, I think it works really well to come together into an impressive work of art.

Personally – The two boys could just as easily be my brother Luke and me, or any other little boys growing up in rural Georgia. Chris shared that “Mike was probably about to load me into a wagon and send me down the street to get rid of me”, a thought that I can sympathize with as a little brother. I can recall many “rainy nights in Georgia” full of good sleep. The picture is fun to look at, because of the successful blending of colors and styles. I really like this work of art.

Chris Cook is a premier southern artist and owner of Madison Studios, a web design, maintenance, and e-commerce and marketing company. For his artist biography, contact information, or to view more of his work, click HERE.









In the fiery furnace: By Chris Cook



Then Nebuchadnezzar said, “Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God.29Therefore I decree that the people of any nation or language who say anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego be cut into pieces and their houses be turned into piles of rubble, for no other god can save in this way.”

30Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the province of Babylon.
Chris captures the essence of what I think of when my mind goes to the “fiery furnace” mentioned in Daniel 3. The colors that he uses, in conjunction with the texture all around the figures reminds me that, in the story, the three men were completely engulfed into the fire. Nebuchadnezzar’s intent was to have them completely destroyed by this super hot fire for their disobedience. They, unlike those around them, chose to take a stand for their one true God; by doing so, they made a clear statement against the “god king” Nebuchadnezzar”
I’ve often relished the truths that come through this passage of scripture. Standing up for God does quite often mean that we stand against the crowd, and most often some figure of authority. It also means that we will most likely be tested and thrown into the fires of society’s furnace. However, the truth that stands out the most for me is that when the onlookers peered into the furnace, they saw not 3, but 4 figures engulfed by the flames. You see, God didn’t promise to keep them out of the fire, but he did promise that he wouldn’t leave or forsake them, and that he’d be there to protect them. The three men left that fire untouched by the flames, only the cords that were used to bind them were burnt by the flames.
God promises never to leave us, to always be by our side. No matter how hot life’s furnace gets, how much wood or oil people try to throw on the flames, God is there…and there is peace and power in that knowledge.

Chris Cook is a premier southern artist and owner of Madison Studios, a web design, maintenance, and e-commerce and marketing company. For his artist biography, contact information, or to view more of his work, click HERE.

Frida Lisa


Let me start by saying that this picture makes me smile! I believe that evoking emotion is a very big part of why artist create, and this one is sure to spark a gamut of emotions from art fans everywhere.

This painting has a lot to say. My fist thought in viewing it is how similar it is to da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. Chris is a tremendously talented artist, and captures a lot of the essence of the 16th century masterpiece. The second, and probably the most prominent feature of the work is the placement of Frida Kahlo’s face where Lisa’s once was.

Knowing Chris, and his affinity for art history, and classical paintings gives me a bit of insight into this work. I think that it is a bit of a tongue-in-cheek way for chris to make a statement about conventional art, generational “masterpieces” and traditional acceptance of beauty and what “art” can be. I think he takes a stab (a very creative and well executed stab, mind you) at juxtaposing what many might see as two conflicting styles of artwork into one piece. The traditional and classic approach of da Vinci’s work paired with Kahlo’s vibrant and expressive style (not to mention the placement of her eyebrow(s)) speaks volumes.

Chris is a southern artist, but his work is anything but compartmentalized by his geographic location. He boasts a collection of art history books that would rival that of any local library, and he greatly enjoys art from a consumer’s standpoint as well as that of a creator. I think that this piece is a great testament to his knowledge, versatility, and talent as an artist.

Take a look. What do you think? What do you see? How does this painting make you feel?

Chris Cook is a premier southern artist and owner of Madison Studios, a web design, maintenance, and e-commerce and marketing company. For his artist biography, contact information, or to view more of his work, click HERE.

First Moments of the Temptation of Jesus

1Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be temptedby the devil. 2After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”

4Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

5Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 6“If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:
“ ‘He will command his angels concerning you,
and they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”
7Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
8Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9“All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”
10Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”
11Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.

Chris Cook uses this painting to capture a very unique perspective on a story that I have heard countless times before. Jesus, having just been baptized by John, retreats to the wilderness to fast and pray before beginning the bulk of his ministry on earth. While Jesus is tired, hungry, and weak from his time in the wilderness, Satan sneaks in to try and seize an opportunity to capitalize on His weakened state. For a moment, Satan thinks he might have the upper hand.

God has always had power, authority, and dominion over all things and all people, Satan included. In the battle between good and evil, God has always been the one in control, regardless of how bad things seem to get. Satan, up until this point has always been the weaker dog in the fight. Seeing Jesus as a hungry, sleep-deprived, weakened man, he moves in to try and assert his power over what he sees as an easy target. For the moment, he feels like he stands a chance against this opponent.

What he doesn’t count in, however, is the fact that although Jesus is fully man, he is also fully God. He is equipped with all of the strength, power, and peace that comes from the Father above. It is through that strength that he is able to counter each of Satan’s temptations. Even in what looks like one of man’s weakest moments, God is still sovereign and absolutely in control.

Chris uses the placement of the figures in this painting in a very intentional way. He places the tempter (on the right) in a higher and more illuminated position than his target. This is meant to illustrate the appearance of Satan having the upper hand in that moment. With his arm extended out offering up the kingdoms of the world, Satan feels like he has power in this moment. This false feeling of control and power are expressed well in the almost arrogant posture that Chris gives Satan in this piece.

I love that Chris was able to capture one moment of this event in this painting. So often we focus on the same parts of Bible stories that we have heard time and time again, neglecting minutia and details that can have a tremendous impact on our understanding and perspective of the stories as a whole. He does a great job of capturing the arrogance and pride that is associated with sin, and the quiet strength that lies in Christ.

Chris Cook is a premier southern artist and owner of Madison Studios, a web design, maintenance, and e-commerce and marketing company. For his artist biography, contact information, or to view more of his work, click HERE.

Judas Kisses Jesus


When Chris first saw Picasso’s “Portrait of Marie-Thérèse Walter”, with the use of the blue face and yellow lips, his  mind immediately went to Judas’ kiss to betray Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. Note the similarities in both the color scheme, and the orientation of the hand in the paintings.



Following that thought, it seemed only natural to sample another of Picasso’s works for the expression on Jesus’ face. He chose a painting of similar style to sample from for the painting.




Chris, a self proclaimed “art history buff” likes to utilize various styles of art in his works in order to establish a unique style that can not be pegged into one particular genre. A southern artist, and Georgia native son, Chris infuses a wide range of colors, syles, and mediums in his paintings of multiple subject matters. Many of his paintings are spiritual in nature, but he also pants numerous still life and landscape scenes, in addition to a slew of abstract and figurative works.

I find this picture captivating. Judas seems to have a strange sense of peace on his face. Jesus, knowing what’s in store has a quiet countenance of disappointment at his beloved brother Judas’ betrayal.  The real chaos and confusion seems to come from Peter on the left, poised and ready to defend his rabbi, and the persecutors carrying the torch and spear, ready to take Jesus away to those who would condemn him.


For more information on Chris Cook, a premier Southern Artist, click here.


Orion: Southern Night Sky



One of the blessings of living in a Southern small town is that there aren’t a lot of city lights to pollute the night skies, and you can really get a chance to enjoy the beauty of God’s creation in the stars. In the little bit of time that I spent living in Cities like Charlotte, NC, I developed a longing for the night skies of my youth. There truly is nothing quite like a clear southern night, out in a field or pasture, sitting on a tailgate with a blanket staring at the stars. It’s something so special that countless recording artists have written songs with lyrics like

“We can throw a blanket down, crickets singin’ in the background, and more stars that you can count on a night this clear.”

Chris, being a southern artist would know this well.

One formation of stars in particular stands out to me as I gaze up at the stars. As a Cub Scout, I was fought to look for the three starts in a row that formed Orion’s belt. How awesome is it to think of the creative energy that went into forming the planets and stars in the sky; in the midst of all of that, God took the time to draw a few pictures with the stars for us to find and enjoy. Constellations may be man-made ideas, but I can’t help but marvel the beautiful and artistic presence that is inside God’s creation of a night sky.

Sitting and staring at the sky, it is difficult not to feel slightly less than significant as you get lost in the vastness of God’s creation. The universe, in all of its limitless splendor is all God’s glorious creation. However, I find peace in knowing that it was the same creator God who breathed breath into each of our lungs, and gave us life so that we, created in His image, might be able to enjoy the rest of his creation.


God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. God set them in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth, to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. (Genesis 1:16-18)


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