Archives For Art

Summer’s here which means it’s time to grab a glass of iced tea and feel the sunshine on your legs as you get lost in a book. So, as you pile up a summer reading list, here’s ten suggestions that will deepen your love for God, the world that he made, and the story he’s writing. 




1. Gilead by Marilyn Robinson (Amazon, Audible)


  • If you could pack all the laziness of a summer afternoon into a book, Gilead would be it. Oh, and it won a Pulitzer prize despite being chalked full of explicitly Christian themes. How did Robinson manage to pull that off? She writes about life in a way that sinks into your bones and renews your wonder for the physical world.
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2. Paul by Walter Wangerin (Amazon, Audible)


  • Step onto the streets of Corinth, smell the freshly cut leather and see Paul hunched on a stool with a needle in his hand. Told from the perspective of Priscilla, Timothy, Seneca, and others, this novel will draw you into the drama of the church’s struggle to discover exactly what the Gospel is and isn’t. By filling in sensory details you’ll get a fresh look at the wonderful messiness of the Church’s early years Continue Reading…



A woman’s voice ricochets inside his head. 




He follows the line of chairs to the pamphlets, mounted on the wall, and the window beyond. A woman sits behind it, with the glass pane slid open, and points toward a young man who is taking off his headphones.


3281787278 e56a7785a3 bPhoto courtesy of Carol Von Canon via


Tires peel behind him and he works his neck around as far as it will go. A green car speeds across the parking lot and into the morning sun.




He reaches to scratch his calf Continue Reading…

Ever since high school, I’ve had a rocky relationship with art. Every year or two, I’d find myself at an art museum, paying the entrance fee. Then, I’d speed through the exhibits, dodging clocks that melted into puddles and giant canvases covered in orange. I’d search for something safe, something familiar.


Finding a Rembrandt, I’d take refuge for a couple minutes—five if I was feeling artsy. Then, I’d sneak back to my car, hoping the docent at the exit wouldn’t recognize me. 

Photo 1423742774270 6884aac775faPhoto courtesy of Eric Terrade via 

A couple months ago, I found myself in a similar situation–this time sipping on green tea and insecurity in a friend’s apartment. I’d been riveted by a photo of Kylee’s latest painting, The Pure Look of the Bishop, and had asked (on impulse) to see it in person.

Now that the three of us, The Bishop included, were face to face, I wasn’t sure what to say:

“So…what’s the story behind it?” I ask. The Bishop’s blue and green eyes lock in on me from his chair against the wall Continue Reading…

“How much?” the pastor jolted upright in his leather chair.

“Forty-thousand dollars,” she said.

“But…” he readjusted his glasses, “…why would…that many wouldn’t even fit in the church.”

“You might be surprised how much it costs to ship the best orchids, gazanias, and cherry blossoms from Brazil, South Africa, and Japan. Specialty flowers, you know, are my business.”

“But…” the pastor’s hand, having left his glasses, hung in mid air, “why not donate that money somewhere else…the building fund…some missionaries…the homeless shelter?” 

“I want to give God something beautiful.” 

“But, they’ll just die.”

“I know.” 

He opened his mouth, but nothing came out. He closed it again. “It just seems…” He faltered.

“…like a waste?” she said. 

He cleared his throat and looked away. 

*    *    *    *    * 

Photo 1447279506476 3faec8071eeePhoto courtesy of Jorge Zapata via 

As American Christians, we’re likely to sympathize with the pastor—unless, we find the same story in Matthew 26. There we find ointment instead of flowers, disciples instead of a pastor, and a woman wanting to do something beautiful for Jesus. 

Familiarity, they say, breeds contempt, but when it comes to Bible, familiarity makes us numb to the shock of the story. A year’s wages for five minutes of worship. Hundreds of poor people that could have been fed for months. Religious onlookers who thought they knew better. How would Jesus respond Continue Reading…


The last couple years, Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday has made me squirm. While I love listening to King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, it’s the other dream that bothers me, God’s dream, the one in Revelation 5, that salad bowl in heaven where people of every skin tone are tossed in together and worshipping side by side. It unsettles me, because my life and church look more like a bowl of Breyer’s Cookies and Cream, light on the cookies. 


Photo 1452693051753 f0acd4cfe723Photo courtesy of Pumpkins via


When I listen to King’s dream, I can feel good about the fact that two of my best friends have been an African American and Korean American. I can feel proud of my great grandmother from Canada who told me how her town, one of the final stops on the underground railway, helped runaway slaves integrate into society. 


When I listen to God’s dream, though, I find myself asking some hard questions, like whether my mostly white church should be mostly white. Or, whether it’s enough to enjoy diversity without taking any steps to heal the racial issues in my country Continue Reading…

If someone visited the churches in your city—let’s say the Protestant ones—what would they conclude about Christians, in terms of beauty? If the sanctuaries in your city are anything like mine, they’d assume that Christians don’t care much about it.

Sure, we appreciate beauty when it crosses our path—in a song by Adele or a handmade leather wallet—but only if we have time for it. In the hierarchy of life, there are more important things—like paying our heating bills, getting the brakes fixed, and telling people about Jesus. 

Photo 1443808709349 353c8b390400Photo courtesy of Artur Rutkowski via

But, while we might prioritize necessity over beauty, God never does. From the beginning, he wove aesthetics into the necessity of life. His new world wasn’t just sustainable and durable, it was also beautiful. We catch glimmers of that beauty when God observes his work and calls it “good” and when Adam enthuses after seeing Eve for the first time, but we run straight into it in chapter three—at the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil Continue Reading…

The angels had watched as Adam and Eve defied God and as centuries of humans repeated their rebellion. All the while, God sat patiently by. Why wasn’t he punishing them? What did he mean by the prophecies of a child? Then, one night, it became clear.  


Seeing Shepherds  hr 1 copy

Seeing Shepherds

copyright Daniel Bonnell, 2010, used with permission, 


Luke, the physician-historian, tells the story like this Continue Reading…

I clicked delete thinking, “The bookstore is hosting an event to promote a new Bible? That sounds boring.” That’s right, I used the words “Bible” and “boring” in the same sentence. 


A week later, I shuffled my feet inside that same bookstore, waiting for an author to sign my book. My eyes wandered from one shelf to the next until something caught my eye on the wall. It was the painting below: 


Screen Shot 2015 12 05 at 6 05 06 PM Genesis 1, The St. John’s Bible, used with permission


Just then a clerk walked by. 


“What is that?” I asked, gasping for breath Continue Reading…

I didn’t grow up with Advent–except for one Christmas when mom made a wreath. I would half listen as dad read from the book of Isaiah or Matthew, mesmerized by the cadence of his voice and the flickering flames.

Then, for years, I forgot about Advent. I’d speed through each December–from one christmas party to the next, from one overpacked mall to another. Despite the glittering lights and glasses of eggnog, Christmas left me drained. That’s when I began to appreciate the gift of Advent.

15458 Worship Backgrounds

Advent invites us to reflect (rather than rush) our way through the Christmas season. But more than that, Advent helps us grasp our place in God’s story, to sense in our gut the divine timeline on which we live. During Advent, we reach back to a perfect world gone wrong and the God who descended into its chaos. With the other hand, we reach forward to a King who is returning to set everything right.

This Advent I’ve put together a series of FREE daily meditations for the mind, heart, and imagination. Each meditation includes a scripture text, work of art, and prompt for reflection. The meditations begin on December 1st and will run through the week after Christmas. See the sample meditation below Continue Reading…