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Reclaiming the Arts
Pastor Ron Timen   

The Preacher's Odd Son

A preacher's son had a burning desire to follow his father into the ministry. He was very artistic, sensitive and compassionate. But, he was also considered "odd." He didn't care much about appearances and thus embarrassed his dad. He wasn't overly scholarly.

In fact, today's experts believe that he may have been dyslexic because school was such a struggle for him. Finally, he was disqualified from entering seminary. But, trying to fulfill his dreams he still served as a lay pastor in a coal town. However, denomination officials passing through town decided that he diminished the "role" of pastor. So they dismissed him on the spot even though he was very effective in ministry.

Back to Painting

So the preacher's son returned to his original love of painting. He painted "Still Life with the Open Bible," "Candlestick," and other paintings. He painted his heart out! Yet, there were few buyers for his work.

Who Was He?

At age 37 he tragically pulled the trigger on a revolver aimed at his heart, thus committing suicide. The young man who wanted to be a pastor died in deep depression and was penniless. Only after his death was Van Gogh's art recognized for its great contribution and innovation of Expressionism.

Church Shuns Artists?

Though responsible for his own actions, is it possible the Church might also have been partly to blame for the suicide? If Van Gogh's story is unique, then perhaps the answer is "no." Yet, how many budding artists has the church shunned over the past couple of centuries?

King of Creation

From museum pieces to bumper stickers to t-shirts, concertos to trite "muzak," "should the church whose head is the King of Creation be the least creative group on His planet?" asks Denny Gunderson.

God is in the Restoration Business

Well, these days God is into restoring His church. He is taking back what has been stolen, lost, neglected and beautifying to His Bride!

I.God is a Creator:

Genesis 1:1 "In the beginning, God created…"

Genesis 1:26, 27 - He made mankind in His image

Isaiah 43:19 "See, I am doing a new thing"

It is God's nature to create, and He is still creating today!

A. Biblical Times

Father of Harpists&Flutists

Genesis 4:21 - We first note that Jubal is the father of harpists and flautists. For all of you who play woodwind and stringed instruments, remember that your history began with this ancient musician.

Professional Training in the Arts

In 1 Chronicles 23:4-5, and 25:7-8, we learn that there was intense artistic training in the Temple - Pupils and teachers must have formed an impressive choir and orchestra with which to praise God.

"Twenty-four thousand of these," David said, "shall have charge of the work in the house of the Lord, 6,000 shall be officers and judges, 4,000 gatekeepers, and 4,000 shall offer praises to the Lord with the instruments that I have made for praise" (1 Chron. 23:4-5, ESV).

"They were all under the direction of their father in the music in the house of the Lord with cymbals, harps, and lyres for the service of the house of God. Asaph, Jeduthun, and Heman were under the order of the king. The number of them along with their brothers, who were trained in singing to the Lord, all who were skillful, was 288. And they cast lots for their duties, small and great, teacher and pupil alike" (1 Chron. 25:6-8, ESV).

Like Prestigious Conservatories of Arts

There were a total of 4,000 musicians plus 288 singers. By population comparisons these were a huge group of musicians and singers who embraced, supported and trained for work in the Temple. This number rivals the attendance at our most prestigious conservatories today. Furthermore, it is apparent that students and teachers shared the work. Their aim was to worship the Lord with musical instruments and voices - not to compete with one another.

The Prophecies and Psalms were a Hebrew form of poetry.

B. 1st Millennium A.D.

Celtic History of Arts

Among the Celts there were six basic social classes. The 5th group were the "professionals" and the 6th group were the chieftans. Part of this group were the bards, storytellers, poets (their prophets), and the minstrels. Standing Crosses were the focal point for outdoor worship. They offered perpetual prayers for protection and stopped people in their tracks - "tracts" !! Lindesfarne Gospels and the Book of Kells are illustrated manuscripts which consisted of intricate design, bright colors, and symbols.

They spent lots of time mentoring and training those in the arts. They were respected and highly valued by the church.

C. 2nd Millennium A.D.

1.Renaissance - 1400s - 1600s.

The Renaissance

The Renaissance was actually started by Church Artists who were brave enough to break with traditions and blaze new directions.

Dante, Giotto (sculptor), Cimabue (painter) were among the artists from this period of history.


2.Reformation Period

This period was led by Christians as well. It included famous artists such as Bach, Handel, Rembrandt, Milton, and Vermeer. Christian artists blazed new trails through the woods of history. They were courageous and bold.

Artists in Patron's Homes

Patrons often took artists into their homes to help them flourish in their careers. At this time, Christians were willing to invest in those artists who bore great talent so their gifts could be nurtured and developed so that the world might be enriched by their contributions.


II.Bible Words

A.Ephesians 2:10 - "…we are His doing (poiema), created (ktisthentes) in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God prepared beforehand that in them we should walk."

"Poieme" is creation, work - the source of the English word "poem." In this sense, Christians are His "poiema," or a work of art!

"Ktizo/ktisis" is the act of creating. In the Gospel we are a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17).

God rejoiced over the creation of the world, and rejoices even more over His new creation. God is the primal artist who is the archetype for all things creative. Made in His image, we, too, flourish and grow when nurtured with lovely sounds and visions.

B. Exodus 35:20-35:

"Then all the congregation of the people of Israel departed from the presence of Moses. And they came, everyone whose heart stirred him, and everyone whose spirit moved him, and brought the Lord's contribution to be used for the tent of meeting, and for all its service, and for the holy garments.

So they came, both men and women. All who were of a willing heart brought brooches and earrings and signet rings and armlets, all sorts of gold objects, every man dedicating an offering of gold to the Lord. And every one who possessed blue or purple or scarlet yarns, or fine linen or goats' hair or tanned rams' skins or goatskins brought them.

Everyone who could make a contribution of silver or bronze brought it as the Lord's contribution. And every one who possessed acacia wood of any use in the work brought it.

And every skillful woman spun with her hands, and they all brought what they had spun in blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen. All the women whose hearts stirred them to use their skill spun the goats' hair.

And the leaders brought onyx stones and stones to be set, for the ephod and for the breastpiece, and spices and oil for the light, and for the anointing oil, and for the fragrant incense. All the men and women, the people of Israel, whose heart moved them to bring anything for the work that the Lord had commanded by Moses to be done brought it as a freewill offering to the Lord.

Then Moses said to the people of Israel, 'See, the Lord has called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, with intelligence, with knowledge, and with all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold and silver and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, for work in every skilled craft. And he has inspired him to teach, both him and Oholiab the son of Ahisamach of the tribe of Dan. He has filled them with skill to do every sort of work done by an engraver or by a designer or by an embroiderer in blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen, or by a weaver - by any sort of workman or skilled designer" (ESV).

A Huge Gathering of Artists

This passage describes a huge gathering of artists of every kind - wood carvers, seamstresses, metal fabricators, designers, embroiderers, engravers, weavers, jewelers, and so forth. All whose "hearts were moved" to do the work of the Lord contributed to these projects.

- Note that Bezalel and Aholiab means the Holy Spirit anointed and appointed!

V. 31 - workmanship comes from the word "malacha" - or skilled craftsmanship

V. 32 - refers to artistic design from the word "hashab" - to devise designs - thinking new ideas, planning, to imagine, inventing.

I found this under "hashab" in B-D-B - "Hashavyah" - "Yah has taken account" which means a Temple MUSICIAN!

1960s Renaissance

III. Missed Opportunities

I already cited the sad story of the famous painter, Van Gogh.

In modern times the church missed out on the renaissance of the 1960s. During this period churches lost much appreciation of the art's ministry potential by not properly nurturing and stewarding our artists.

Spiritual but not Holy

Much of life was "spiritual" then, but not Holy spiritual. We are still reeling from that fruit. The church only caught the tail end of the wave of the "Jesus People Movement" which led into the Charismatic/3rd Wave renewals.

Larger Wave Looms Ahead

But, a larger wave looms ahead. From ancient to future "breezes" there is a major concern: Church, don't miss this wave or we'll be beached! - We will be deemed hopelessly irrelevant and iconoclastic by our culture.


As Ian Bradley said, "All too often we dismiss the poets and artists in our midst as mere doodler and dreamers. We fail to appreciate that they may be the priests who are interceding for us, articulating our deepest thoughts and concerns to God."

Arts - a Powerful Communication Tool

Here is stark reality: The arts are the most powerful of all communication tools for reaching the majority of people on earth. Two billion people pay attention to popular music, dance, and the arts each day. But, why are there not more Christians involved in this? "We believe the devil's power to corrupt us is stronger than God's power to preserve us" (Melody Green Sievright).

A Millennial Renaissance

IV. Releasing, blessing, welcoming, supporting CREATIVITY

Robert Webber - the Millennials' paradigm of worship, emphasizes the visual interest in a renaissance of the arts. He believes in the communication of the truth through beauty, atmosphere, sounds of prayers - in the sensory. People benefit by worshipping God through all of their senses. This includes love of color, pageantry, and the drama of symbolism.

Lesson of Counter Culture

We must learn the lesson of counter-culture because they have positions of influence. We must capture campuses for Christ to shape the world of tomorrow for Him. And we must pursue positions of influence in our culture.

Christians called to be Salt&Light

As Pete Greig says, "Until Christians brave the high ground of public influence, other ideologies will continue to captivate the masses, and our attempts at evangelism will continue to be met with a great deal of resistance and suspicion. Successful Christian musicians, politicians, and journalists are called to be salt and light in places of influence. They must not abuse their position by constantly preaching. After all, no one wants to sit down and eat a plate of salt. But, the tiniest amount of skillful seasoning can make a meal irresistible."

2 Kings 2:21 "Then he went to the spring of water and threw salt in it and said, "Thus says the Lord, I have healed this water. From now on neither death nor miscarriage shall come from it." So the water has been healed to this day, according to the word that Elisha spoke."

Root to Fruit

The salt purified bad water. In other words, we need to get to the root to get a better fruit! We need to send sanctified, empowered artists to the root of a poisoned area of society to be purified and made useful, fruitful, for God's Kingdom.

"Go for it, Artists!"

And to artists: If you are attracted to the arts, probably due to God calling you to it, GO FOR IT!!! Study, practice, cultivate, learn… Give grace and practice mercy toward the church when she doesn't understand you.

Be Advocates&Supporters of Artists

To those who are not artists: Be an advocate for artists. Encourage and support and pray for artists. Listen and look for what God is doing and saying through their work. Give them room to grow, make mistakes, and to amaze you.

Include Poetry, Dance, Drama in Church Worship

For all of us: Be risk takers. Perhaps you could create an art gallery in your church. Maybe you could hold seminars concerning the arts. How about support groups? Give time in a worship service for poetry, a dance, short stories, drama and video projects, pix, sculpture, and so on. How about a "Renaissance Cafe?" We only need to use our God given imagination to incorporate these gifts into the fabric of church worship.

Ian Bradley says, "They had the ability to invest the ordinary and the commonplace with sacramental significance, to find glimpses of God's glory throughout creation, and to paint pictures in words, signs, and music that acted as icons opening the windows on heaven and pathways to eternity."

A New Anointing

Amen! There is new anointing and authority in the realm of the creative to lead the way, set the trends, lead the masses to Jesus. Break the barriers of religion and tradition. Let the dancers dance…let the singers sing…let the writers write…and the artisans create…BE RELEASED. Break from man's pride and the fear of man. Let's have deliverance!

Author: Ron Timens is Senior Pastor at the Rivergate Church in Ashland, Oregon. A talented speaker, he devotes energy and time in educating citizens about Israel and its status in world politics as well as its prophetic place in the Bible. He works actively in interfaith dialogue between Jews and Christians. Pastor Timens is a creative, avid supporter of the arts.

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