Alternate Arts

blogging the hell out of art

August 29, 2017
by jimwall

From an Infinite Well

The problem with gifts is we always want more.

We seem to be wired this way from an early age. Even if we got the gift we wanted for our birthday, it wasn’t too long until we wanted the next thing.

Then we grow up, and we think we’re beyond this. Yet, every gift we receives seems to have a built-in time limit, an expiration date past which we receive increasingly diminished amounts of joy.

The gifts of good relationships and friendships hold up better, but how often do we expect more from our relationships? No matter how much is given, it’s never quite enough.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” This verse from the New Testament book of James reminds us that all the good gifts in our lives ultimately come from God. All means all. A great parking spot, tickets to the event you’ve been waiting for, your daughter’s smile.

There are no limits to God’s good gifts. He bestows them as needed, with perfect and pure motive, for his pleasure and our joy. He is a good father. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:9-11)

In the Lord, there is an inexhaustible well of gifts. That’s how lavish, diverse and abundant God is. He’s infinite. His gifts will have no limits for all eternity. No limits!

How does this truth affect the hearts of those who believe God? Who believe he has not withheld any good thing, most especially his son Jesus, who’s crucifixion and resurrection remove the penalty of our sin?

We start to release the death grip of always wanting more and eagerly, joyfully give back to God any good thing he has given us, including our art.

From the book of Revelation:

“… They cast their crowns before the throne, saying,

“Worthy are you, our Lord and God,
    to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
    and by your will they existed and were created.'”

August 25, 2017
by jimwall

“They Loved God and Their People”

At 23, I read and was wonderfully stunned by John Owen’s book, The Death of Death in the Death of Christ. I’m still awed by the power and grace of God to ransom, reconcile and restore his children.

Dr. Don Kistler is a Bible teacher and author, and is considered to be one of the foremost experts on Jonathan Edwards and Puritan writings.

Northampton Press, Dr. Kistler’s publishing arm, publishes Puritan works that have been out of print for many years, including rare, never-before published sermons of Jonathan Edwards.

More information about Dr. Kistler and Northampton Press can be found at his website.

In this interview, Dr. Kistler shares his thoughts on Puritanism, Christian joy, and football.

Alternate Arts: Many people have a preconception of who the Puritans were. How would you define them?

Kistler: The Puritans were a group of clergymen in the Church of England who believed that God wanted a pure church…not a perfect one, but one that strived for purity, particularly in her ministers.

Alternate Arts: What do people misunderstand about the Puritans?

Kistler: They took God and the Bible seriously. If God said it, He must mean it. They loved God and they loved their people.

Alternate Arts: How are the writings of the Puritans relevant for today?

Kistler: Human nature hasn’t changed, so their writings are just as relevant today (if not more so) than they were 400 years ago. We’re still dealing with sin, sanctification, our own egos, etc.

Alternate Arts: How do you find out about books that have been out of print for hundreds of years?

Kistler: Years ago I read a book entitled The Genius of Puritanism. At the back there was a bibliography. I started finding and reading those books, and usually the author would recommend a book or too. So it was a snowballing effect.

Alternate Arts: Could you walk us through a top five list of books, videos or audio for the person who wants to learn more about Puritans and/or theology?

A. The Genius of Puritanism, by Peter Lewis
B. None But Christ, by John Wall
C. Heaven Taken by Storm, by Thomas Watson
D. Any collection of sermons by Jonathan Edwards (don’t start with his highly philosophical works, but his sermons)
E. Grace, by Christopher Love

Alternate Arts: What is it about Jonathan Edwards’ theology that still rings down through the years?

Kistler: Like the other Puritans, he was completely God-centered rather than man-centered. Also, he was a first rate thinker.

Alternate Arts: In what ways is Christian joy evidenced in reformed theology?

Kistler: The joy is found in knowing God intimately, which is what reformed theology is all about.

Alternate Arts: What do you view as your life’s mission?

Kistler: I see it as getting as many great Puritan books back into print as possible. So far I’ve done over 350.

Alternate Arts: Can you give us an overview of the two books you’ve written, A Spectacle unto God: The Life and Death of Christopher Love, and Why Read the Puritans Today?

Kistler: Christopher Love was an amazing historical figure in 17th century England. My book on him tells his story through his letters to his wife as he faced beheading on Tower Hill in London. “Why Read” is simply a booklet giving 10 reasons why people should read the Puritans.

Alternate Arts: You coached high school and college football for over 15 years. Do you still follow football? If so, which teams?

Kistler: I miss football a lot. I follow the Steelers and the Patriots as far as NFL teams go. As for college I follow 2 Division II teams: The University of West Florida (the head coach is a former player of mine), and Azusa Pacific University (my alma mater).

August 12, 2017
by jimwall

Does God Care about Your Artwork?

The Ancient of Days, by William Blake

The Ancient of Days, by William Blake

Does God care about your artwork?

He does.

Everyone expresses themselves creatively. It can’t be helped. It’s one of the things we’re born to do. It’s part of what the Bible refers to when it says we’re made in God’s image. (Genesis 1:26.)

An essential part of God’s nature is that, beyond all possible imagination of abundance and diversity, he’s creative (Genesis 1:1). We reflect that part of his nature in the abundance and diversity of our art, music, movies, etc. The difference is, God creates out of nothing. We, at best, “borrow” any material we can find and repurpose it. As Picasso said, “Good artists copy, great artists steal.”

Our creativity is an outpouring of our world-view, emotions, past experiences, hopes, dreams and disappointments. This means some creativity goes down like a Jagged Little Pill, while other art or music is like Walking on Sunshine under Blue Skies.

Does God care about all that?

Yes, he does. God became man. Jesus breathed, ate, laughed, cried, slept. Ran his fingers along pieces of wood as a carpenter. Saw the sun set, felt the rain. God knows what it’s like to be human, to create.

And what about the art that reflects struggle, challenge, pain, disappointment? If you’re honest in your art and your art reflects your struggles, Jesus completely understands. The carpenter was nailed to a tree.

There is pain and suffering, but there’s also hope. Because of the resurrection, our art will sometimes reflect that bitter becomes sweet, pessimism becomes optimism, cynicism gives way to seeing things more clearly, darkness becomes light, death bows to life.

And, against all odds, there is joy.

Hebrews 12 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Who you are is important to God. What you express in your art is meaningful. You are his creation, and he has crafted you for great things (Ephesians 2:10).

July 29, 2017
by jimwall

Ambient Guitar Meditation “Soul’s Joy”

Bill Vencil has always been a phenomenal musician and composer. When I first met him he talked about Charles Ives as if he knew him personally. For my part, I  shared my profound reverence for Lynyrd Skynyrd.

Somehow, Bill and I connected as musicians.

Although we don’t get to see each other too often, we recently sat down and “turned on the tape.”

Bill posted this video to his YouTube channel, Chords of Orion, where he teaches ambient guitar techniques, demos equipment, and performs.

You can learn more about Bill and Chords of Orion at…


Or give him a listen here…

Chords of Orion on Apple iTunes/Music: