Devices

When I first saw this painting, it immediately made me think of the heavy reliance on technology that is present in today’s society. Whether it be checking email, social media, or texting back someone, almost everyone you see in public is on their phone at some point or another. I realize the importance of technology and the aid it brings in completing everyday activities, but there comes a time when these devices inhibit our interactions with our peers.

Chris Cook clearly paints this point in his Devices painting. All of the people in this painting are so consumed by the content on their phones that they are not interacting with each other. Therefore, this painting proves that a change is in order for everyone and their addiction to their phones. The background of this painting is more abstract and blurry as if the girls are not able to see the world around them because they are engrossed by their phones. Why not try putting the phone down so that you can actually talk with the people you are with? Time is more well spent when you can actually hold a conversation in person with someone rather than texting them with them being right near you. So I challenge everyone to get off their devices for at least 30 minutes to an hour a day so you can actually connect with the ones you are with. The relationships and friends that you have will become that much stronger by this, and you won’t have to charge your phone as much 🙂

-Tori

Farming in the Summer

When you drive through scenic Madison, Georgia, you constantly see crops growing alongside the road no matter what time of year it is. During the summer though, all you see is corn growing high as it can reach. Thus, I felt like it was only fitting to write about this piece.

For me, summertime always means spending time with family and also eating really good food. Corn is one of those foods that always tastes better when it’s fresh and in-season, and this picture represents this for me. In addition to the corn also being an important part of this painting, the man is also representative of something bigger than himself. Chris paints him in a way that proves that he has been a farmer for many years. The wrinkles on his brow and face show what happens when worry overcomes this farmer when the crops don’t grow quite as well as they need to. Also, the farmer’s skin color and texture proves that he is in the heat and sun day after day looking after these crops. To me, this man and his corn crop is representative of the lifestyle that many have in small, southern towns like Madison. There are lots of farmers who make their living and support their families based on their crops. Without them, Madison would not be the same town. I am very appreciative for people like this farmer because without them, we would not have fresh produce in our stores or on our tables. The food doesn’t just magically appear in the grocery stores. Someone has to put in their own time and effort to produce these foods, and most of the time, this is not an easy task.

This painting also proves that it is important to support local companies and buy local because it directly benefits your community. So why not buy local?

-Tori

 

 

The Unsung Hero from Up: Carl

Squirrel!

When you hear this quote, you instantly thing of Dug the talking dog from Up, but what quote makes you think of Carl Fredrickson? Not many come to mind, but he still remains a pivotal character within the plot. Up would not be the same movie without the tear-jerking opening scene of Carl and Ellie building a life together. Carl is then left alone to mourn his departed wife. Throughout the entire movie, I always viewed Carl as more of an elderly, grouchy character who saw Russell and Dug as a nuisance. Chris Cook paints Carl though not as an elderly man who has liver spots and gray hair but as the young boy that he once was looking through the eyes of the man he has become. Carl never lost his childlike innocence as he grew older, and this is why he has to see South America even if Ellie can’t be there with him. What better way to see the world than by tying thousands of balloons to your house. This non traditional approach to reach his goal proves that he is not as old as he seems because what elderly man would think to tie balloons to his house? Thus, I feel like this painting completely embodies Carl as the individual he is inside and out. The bright background reflects his childlike tendencies, and he has a little smile on his face. Most of the time in the movie, he looks cold and upset, yet there seems to be some happiness hidden deep within. Chris has hit the nail on the head by painting Carl in a different light that accurately reflects his personality and undying need for adventure.

By painting Carl in this manner, Chris has proven that not all people (and characters) are black and white. People have many different facets of their identity that they wish to expose and others that they want to remain hidden. This painting proves that you should never judge someone solely on how they are on the outside; you have to see past the exterior to truly see the actual character of the person. What kind of movie would Up be if Carl was just a coldhearted, stuck in his ways, old man who wanted nothing to do with adventure?

Remember, adventure is out there, and there is always something or somewhere worth exploring!

-Tori

Choosing what is better

 

I love this representation that Chris painted of the story of Mary and Martha in this painting. As I have contemplated the mothers, grandmothers, aunts, and other prominent women figures in my life, I have noticed when each of them demonstrated the tendency to be more of a “Mary” or a “Martha” at times.

 

As I look at this painting, I find it almost comical. The style in which Chris painted is to me very reminiscent of Norman Rockwell’s work. Martha is seen draped over the open refrigerator door, red-faced and trying to collect herself from the business of hosting the party. You can almost see her internal dialogue going off. “Ok, devilled eggs, tea sandwiches, the olive tray is full, the vegetables will be done in 4 minutes,  the meat is resting…do we have enough ice? Mary, I could really use a hand here!”

Mary is intently studying, reflecting, and taking notes on everything that Jesus is saying. Her smile suggests that she is absolutely captivated by Jesus’ words and could care less about making sure that the food and the details are all taken care of. The company is her only concern.

I believe that it takes both types of people at different times to keep events going and to make sure that things get done. I know that Martha gets a bad reputation, but without the Marthas of this world, none of us would have tea sandwiches, olive trays, or the vegetables with our dinner. Mary’s exist to remind us to stop and enjoy fellowship, to sit at Jesus’ feet and to keep our eyes and mind on the things that truly matter in the grand scheme of life.

 

This picture speaks to me on many levels. Are you more inclined to feel like a Mary or a Martha? Why…

 

Shalom, Y’all –

Jed

Peter Denies Jesus

 

Loneliness and shame are two very powerful emotions. I would imagine that in the hours after Jesus was taken and arrested, all of the disciples ran the gamut of emotions. The Gospels focus particularly on Peter during these hours. Known to be outspoken about his faith and devotion to Christ, Peter resorts to hiding on the fringes and denying even knowing Jesus three times just as the Master had predicted that he would.

It would seem that this Peter, who knew what it felt like to walk on the waves alongside Jesus, might have fallen the hardest. How could he have allowed himself to sink from walking on the waves into the depths of the darkest corners? What took a man who was so bold and impetuous to draw a sword against the Roman soldiers down to where he did not even want to be associated with this Jesus who he had followed for so long?

I believe that Chris does a great job of capturing the loneliness and shame that must have been going through Peter’s mind and heart that morning. When one looks at this painting, it feels as if we are pulled out to the fringes, away from the warmth and light of the fire and into the darkness. The darkness is no doubt both literal and metaphorical in this image. Being separated from the true source of light that darkness will not overcome was a feeling that I am sure Peter longed for as he wondered what would come next.

 

I am grateful to God that grace allows us all the opportunity to come out of darkness and back into the light of Christ. No longer do we have to be bound to our guilt, shame, and loneliness. The gift of Grace is that God offers us a chance to step out in faith to be restored through grace, and to say “Lord, you know I love you” as we set out to be one who might feed God’s sheep.”

 

Shalom, Y’all –

Jed

Three in one…One in three.

 

I believe that one of the hardest concepts about God that we humans have constructed and used to try to understand God’s nature is that of the Holy Trinity. We talk about “persons” of the Trinity, knowing that God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are not all entirely “persons” as we might think of our friends and neighbors.

God the Father is God the Father, Jesus the Son of God is Jesus the Son of God, The Holy Spirit is the Holy Spirit…. and yet, all three are God. They entirely are divine in their essence, but they alone do not make up all of what is God.

Many have tried to use analogies to describe the Trinity like the shamrock, water, ice, and steam, Neopolitan ice cream, etc.. The truth is, however, that many of our constructs and attempts to describe God as displayed in the three persons of the Trinity fail to adequately or correctly express the nature and power of who God is. many would me content to simply leave it at “it’s a mystery”.

 

I really like how Chris made his expression of Trinity in this painting. All three figures are seen connected together as one body, but still different in their own individualities. I believe that the skeleton-like parts of the figure in the middle might point to the humanity of Jesus’ nature. Which figure do you see as God the Father? Which might be the Holy Spirit?

No matter how you think of the persons of the Holy Trinity, it is a beautiful comfort to remember that God, in whatever form God is present, loves and provides for all of God’s children who would believe and have faith. I believe that the mystery of parts of this revelation of God only adds to the power and awesome nature of who God is.

 

Shalom, Y’all –

Jed

If only by the hem…

 

In this painting, Chris captures the moment in Scripture where a woman who has been suffering from a condition for quite some time reaches out in a crowd to touch the hem of Jesus’ garment and received healing.

This account provides a lot of comfort and insight into the nature and character of Jesus to me. The suffering woman probably feels lost and rejected by the mass of the crowd that she is in. A woman, nevermind a sick woman, she is in desperate need for something that will make her fell restored and whole again. In what seems like a desperate effort, she reaches out and touches the hem of Jesus’ garment. One account mentions that she thought “if I can only touch His robe, I will be healed” (Matthew 9:21).

I believe that there are times when we all feel like this woman probably did. Things in our life don’t seem to be going right for one reason or another, and we don’t feel like we’re as close to God as we could or should be. Our minds tell us that our best hope might be to stay off at a distance and hope to touch the hem of Jesus’ garment as He passes by.

The beauty of this account is that in that moment, Jesus noticed the tug on his robe, looked back, and assured the woman that she would receive healing because of her faith.

Jesus knows when one of God’s children reach out in faith to try and receive healing and power. Jesus notices our struggle, acknowledges our need, and assures us that healing and restoration are possible through faith and the healing power of God.

 

I for one am grateful for the assurance that though I may feel weak and marginalized at times, God sees me, knows me, and seeks to heal me and restore me.

 

I pray that we may all rest in that assurance each and every day.

 

Shalom, Y’all –

Jed

Don’t you wag that finger at me!

“so do and observe whatever they tell you, but not the works they do. For they preach, but do not practice.

 They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger.  They do all their deeds to be seen by others.

 They do all their deeds to be seen by others.”

Pharisees were very quick to point out the faults and shortcomings in other people’s lives while making sure to keep up all appearances of perfection and adherence to the law for themselves. They dragged a woman caught in adultery out into the street and asked Jesus what He felt should be her punishment. Their religio-righteous anger and frustration can be felt when we read of their interactions with Jesus, “friend of sinners”. One might almost feel the need to watch their back as they think about the Pharisees, so as to avoid being struck by a stone, or impaled by the plank in their eye.

You see, Pharisees were the people who appeared to have it all together and the people that looked down in self-righteous judgment on those who did not. They strained the gnat but swallowed the camel. They tithed their spices, but neglected justice, mercy, and faithfulness. There is a reason that Jesus called these types of people “whitewashed tombs…outwardly beautiful, but full of death and uncleanness”.

When one becomes so caught up in appearing to be clean, righteous, and “together” that he or she begins to neglect practices like compassion, justice, faithfulness, mercy, and brotherly love, then they have very well compromised their very selves in the process. Jesus warns not to model the behavior of people who live this way. Instead, we are asked to model Jesus himself, the one who called the so called religious leaders to drop their stones, who dined with sinners, tax collectors, and prostitutes. We are called to give mercy, not a sacrifice. We are called to love our brothers and sisters with the same non-condemning and non-judgmental love that Christ showed to the people of his day.

Instead of shaking a finger in holy righteousness and judgment… instead of picking up stones of condemnation and causing pain…

May we be a people who use our hands to love, to heal, to build up God’s people and God’s kingdom.

Don’t wag that finger at me – instead… hold my hand, and walk beside me as we journey through this life together.

Shalom, Y’all –

Jed

“Listen to Him”

 A voice from heaven said, “This is my Son whom I dearly love; I find happiness in him.”

Once Jesus came out of the waters of the Jordan river at his baptism, those who were present heard these words in what I assume was an audible voice from God.

THIS is my son, whom I love. That “This” is Jesus the Christ…God incarnate. It was at this moment that we begin to see and understand a glimpse of what we call the Trinity. God the Father speaks about Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit comes down and rests on Jesus as a dove. All three persons of the Trinity showcase the power, majesty, and glory that God possesses in one beautiful moment.

We see, or rather we read, that Jesus is being baptized to “fulfill all righteousness” and to set the example for the body of believers about how we should respond to a relationship with God. baptism meant a reminder of our washing of the old, sinful self and an emergence as a newly clean creation in the eyes of the Lord. When we participate in that same sacrament, we are claiming our belovedness as God’s chosen child. We lean into the promise that God loves us and finds happiness in us!

As I look at what Chris did in this particular painting, I am struck by several aspects and components.

  • Jesus is depicted as the silhouette of a man. I believe (though I haven’t spoken directly with Chris about this) that it shows me an expression of the humanity of Jesus, without harping on details like facial features, skin color, etc.. Simply put, it is an expression that Jesus was a man as he walked the earth as God incarnate.
  • The Holy Spirit is depicted as and aura-like presence, hovering over and descending into the very being of Jesus the man. God is joining God’s self in a beautiful exchange.
  • The reflection in the water of both Jesus and the luminous presence of The Spirit. To me, this suggests creation’s response to and interaction with what was surely a powerful moment to behold. The very presence of the river waters reflected God’s great radiance. There were sights, sounds, and feelings all together on that day when God the Father, Son, and Spirit united as one presence at the day of Jesus’ baptism.

What stands out to you? Where would you have like to have been on this day? Do you find it easy to daily remember that God calls you a beloved child that brings happiness and love to God simply through your presence?

“This is my Son whom I dearly love; I find happiness in him.”

Shalom, Y’all –

Jed

 

At the Feet of Jesus:

 

The feet of Jesus… What a wonderful place to be.

While some were hustling around being busy in the kitchen, making sure that all of the seasonings were just right, that the food was hot, and that the silverware was shined up.

While some were more concerned with keeping their seat of stature and status at the table with Jesus; more of a political maneuver than anything else.

While people pointed and murmured because she let her hair down, a social taboo of promiscuity in her time.

While the host stayed seated and didn’t offer even to have a servant wash Jesus’ feet, the most basic of hospitable gestures.

 

We find her lying at Jesus’ feet, desperate to drink in every word that comes out of his mouth. She is captivated and entranced by the words of the master and fixed by the presence of the Lord of all in her midst. She washes Jesus feet with her tears and dries them with her hair. She anoints Jesus with expensive perfume; the fragrance of her worship fills the nostrils of everyone in the room.

People call into question her being there, they criticize her lavish worship. Shouldn’t this woman be in the kitchen? Why is she so locked on to being so close to Jesus? Doesn’t she respect social conventions and personal space?

 

In this moment, the one that Chris captured in this painting, we see that the only thing that mattered to her was to be near Jesus. It’s funny how when we are fully involved in the presence of the Almighty, everything else simply goes out the window. Social conventions, gender roles, political correctness, how others see us… all of it pales in comparison to simply being with Jesus.

Chris captures an image of a woman kissing the feet of her Lord. Feet that the host of the dinner didn’t have enough care to wash. A woman…who for all intents and purposes had no place at the feet of a rabbi in mixed company. A woman… letting her hair down in a sign of intimacy and reverence with God.

What he captures is something that I believe we should all hope for someday…to be perfectly content, comfortable, and happy in our intimate and worshipful relationship with Jesus our Lord.

 

Shalom, Y’all –

Jed

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