Monday, May 25, 2015


(Memorial Day, 2015)

Liberty Memorial - Photo by Dan Guinn

Each generation must pay the cost of Freedom
Some will know it's benefits
Some will feel it's loss
Loss of personal peace
Loss of time and broken hearts
Loss of life, loss of blood
and tears shed in the dark.

Wrong are those who forget
That the payment must be made
And wrong are those who
Force others to merely take the weight
Without calculating the greater good
Or remembering what's at stake.

Whether those who refuse to fight,
For the love of their own neighbor
Or those who refuse to live, in peace
Without sacrificing their behavior
Freedom will exact her cost
In the world of Fallen Men
Who do not live in humility
Before each other 
And before their Creator

~ Author: Dan Guinn

Saturday, August 2, 2014


In my previous posts I've covered the concepts of image, perfection, nature and creativity, but now I would like to talk about what I call the "Art of Words" in the context of "transformational truth."

Some of you may be familiar with Schaeffer's maxim of "Truth without Love is Ugly, and Love without Truth is Compromise" This is believed to be a paraphrase of Schaeffer's teaching in his small work called The Mark of a Christian. This maxim is not the requirement for being a Christian, but it is the mark and result of Christian maturity. It would be nice if all Christians aspired toward this understanding, but sadly, in a fallen world, this is not the case. For often, even for those that aspire to practice this maxim, we struggle and fail at times to uphold this principle perfectly. In no other area is this more blatantly apparent than in the use of words.

When I hear a Christian speak to others with inconsideration concerning matters of Christian Truth, whether knowledgeable, or not, I question whether the Christian has grasped the Grace that came with it. Truth should make us humble, not proud. When inconsiderate Christians speak poorly, they reflect the lack of Truth's effect upon their very own heart and tarnish the view of Truth before all who witness it. In short, when we do this, we are bearing false witness to a watching world. When we parrot lines from others without examining their words, we testify that we do not live an examined life. Nor are we considerate of the plight of others and their situation. We of all people should be able to speak considerately, as we have been forgiven much. Let us all ask ourselves, "Is this our practice?"

When I speak of the Art of Words, I speak of the care and creativity of crafting words. Today many Christians do not really craft words, many blurt the most immediate thing on their mind, without consideration. Christianese and Bible Speak can often be more disruptive than helpful. We must consider our audience, and we must speak graciously. In the context of being Transformational people, who are works in progress, it is safe to say we will not do this perfectly, but we must not just follow the status quo. The current standard among many people in America, is to have no standard, or at least to have a very limited one, only applied in certain settings, such as work, or in the presence of grandma or children. Surely we can do better.

We have all probably heard the phrase taken from Proverbs 23:7 that states "As a man thinketh in his heart so is he" which is more literally translated "As a man thinks in his soul." What the ancient author is referring to by saying "heart" is the "seat of the emotions and thought," or more simply stated, a person's essence. If truth is really ingrained in your thinking, then when we speak it should be properly reflected and weighed. As noted in 2 Cor. 10: 5, we are to "take every thought captive" This involves the work of the mind, engaged on spiritual matters and engaged on our language.

We should think about how Christ responded to the wrong usage of words:
    Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned. (Matthew 12:33-37 ESV)
Consider this. Here is Jesus, who is identified as "The Word" (Jn 1:1), telling those who speak in such a way as to twist truth, that they will be condemned by their careless words. Advice: If you attend a church where the minister is involved in careless speech, RUN! ~ However, we should consider also that the traits Jesus describe are also applied to us. Do not speak like these people! It is not to be this way  for those who are of the "good tree," they will bear good fruit, and they will be known by it.

I would now like you to look at the words of Jesus in His pastoral prayer:
 I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. (John 17:6-8 ESV)
Jesus later goes on to explain how the words he has given to us in the aforementioned passage touch our lives and how the words that we speak after Him will touch the world.
        Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.
        “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, (John 17:17-20 ESV)

If we have been given the Words of Life, from God the Father through the Son, we have an obligation not to misrepresent them. We must testify of their truthfulness, though our actions an exhibition of the truth in our lives. We are thus to testify of through these words, in the most artful (being creative, after our creative creator), careful and truthful manner. All of this sheds a great amount of light on our words. When we speak to others, we carry an enormous responsibility. We are carrying the Gospel. May we all aspire to speak more graciously and truthful and reflect more carefully the truth that is transforming us!

Sunday, July 13, 2014


Depravity, by Dan Guinn
In the my first blog post, I talked about image and perfection, and explained the original state of human perfection, and also the fallen realities, and living in the reality of the victory of Christ death. Then in my second post, I talked about creativity in light of the fallen condition of nature. In this post, I would like to talk about what I call, "creating in the negative."

I think there is a tendency in Christian art to always create in the positive. We love those artist who do this, the most well known of which is "The painter of light," Thomas Kinkaid. I am not writing to pick in Kinkaid, I think there is a place for his work, and I have one of his paintings on my wall. However, his paintings are quite romantic and convey something our the general love for romantic and rosy portraits that convey flowery and lovely features. We seem to seek out art that is beautiful and may avoid art that is honest and perhaps even ugly, even when it is deeply meaningful. Is it possible that we have overlooked complete genres of art because we desire only the beautiful? Are we Utopian? Is this harmful? If art imitates life, then are we as Christians, being dishonest?

Romantic creativity has it's place in the area of hope, if conveyed honestly, but it should not be the absolute, or it can convey something destructive to the Christian worldview. It can ignore the struggle and the real pain in life. In fact, a full blown Utopian Romanticism is actually contrary to the Christian worldview. Listen to Schaeffer on this:
"...Christianity is not romantic; it is realistic. Christianity is realistic because it says that if there is no truth, there is also no hope; and there can be no truth if there is no adequate base. It is prepared to face the consequences of being proved false and say with Paul: If you find the body of Christ, the discussion is finished; let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die. It leaves absolutely no room for a romantic answer." ~ Francis Schaeffer, The God Who is There, Complete Works of Francis Schaeffer, Volume 1, Page 46

So considering this, I wonder how many of us have thought about creating works of art that are honest to our suffering and depravity. What about art that is painful? What about paintings of things that hurt, or depict the real realities of the fallen world?

The painting above, on the left, is something I painted in 1995. It was one of the worst years of my life, but I love the painting, for what it means to me. I could care less if anyone really likes it or not. As to me it is something more than a painting, it is a representation of a realization. That realization was that I am depraved. I was a Christian at the time I painted it, but I was hurt by the death pains of a fallen world and I was carnal in my thinking. For although I had been raised in a Christian home and mostly did the right things, I had allowed for quiet, hidden sins in my life. I had become the worst type of hypocrite, one who thinks he is okay. So when my sin began to become visible and my life began to be faced with the realities of my actions, I began to wonder what the strength of the Christian position was. Why wasn't it working? Well, it was not working primarily because I was doing Christianity wrong! I realized that, not only in the deepest way I was a Christian sinner, but that I was dead in that sin and real change would mean that I would truly, not just in words, need to die to self and actually tell myself "no" to things detrimental to my spiritual growth. I am still learning to say no to things! I need Christ daily. So in the same way as Rembrant painted himself participating in the crucifixion of Christ, I realized I must try to portray something of the way I look without Him. It's no Rembrandt, but it's honest.

Perhaps our art is saying something about the condition of our worldview. Do we as Christians really take the fall seriously? I think some of us, live in a fallen state as Christians, with no power of victory over sin, content to have just believed in Christ, but showing little of His victory. We optimistically gravitate to images of victory without the context. We represent romantic ideas of victory, but we adorn a white washed tomb. We may be lying to ourselves, and living in a romantic dreamland. I was. The real awakening of our state might inspire much creativity, as it did for me.

We have to ask ourselves, would we ever go so far as to honestly express our depravity in our art? Where are our sorrows? Where are the hurts of our very real life-war? Scripture says:
If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  (1 John 1:8 ESV)
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. (1 Corinthians 10:13a ESV)

If we believe these scriptures to be true, why are we so consumed with representing perfect and romantic realities? Sure, our hope is for the future perfection, but life is not all about this. It seems to me a fundamental dishonesty to portray the Christian life always in a romantic way. We as Christians ought to be conveying an honest look at the pain of life and yet also the optimistic answer, but one should not come before the other, and maybe, just maybe, if we do so... we might show the world that we are not disconnected, brainwashed fanatics, as we are sometimes characterized, but true, life-war hardened, passionate, optimistic and compassionate believers. It does not have to be in every painting, but in the body of a Christian artist's work, there should be a conscious display of this balance. Dr. Schaeffer gave us a description of the balance that is needed in our art, and I will close with it for your consideration:

"Man is fallen and flawed, but he is redeemable on the basis of Christ’s work. This is beautiful. This is optimism. And this optimism has a sufficient base.
Notice that the Christian and his art have a place for the minor theme because man is lost and abnormal and the Christian has his own defeatedness. There is not only victory and song in my life. But the Christian and his art don’t end there. He goes on to the major theme because there is an optimistic answer. This is important for the kind of art Christians are to produce. First of all, Christian art needs to recognize the minor theme, the defeated aspect to even the Christian life. If our Christian art only emphasizes the major theme, then it is not fully Christian but simply romantic art. And let us say with sorrow that for years our Sunday school literature has been romantic in its art and has had very little to do with genuine Christian art. Older Christians may wonder what is wrong with this art and wonder why their kids are turned off by it, but the answer is simple. It’s romantic. It’s based on the notion that Christianity has only an optimistic note.
On the other hand, it is possible for a Christian to so major on the minor theme, emphasizing the lostness of man and the abnormality of the universe, that he is equally unbiblical. There may be exceptions where a Christian artist feels it his calling only to picture the negative, but in general for the Christian the major theme is to be dominant—though it must exist in relationship to the minor. ~ Francis Schaeffer, Art in the Bible, The Complete Works of Francis Schaeffer, Volume 2, Page 410

Tuesday, June 10, 2014


To follow up my last post on the subject of image and perfection, I wish to explore nature and creativity.

As we noted in the last post, God created the original perfection. While this should not be minimized, the first understanding we should have about creation, is what it says about it's creator, namely that God is creative! This is a very obvious conclusion, but something which we may have not thought about. We have not considered the implications of what it means when we understand that God is an artist. Edith Schaeffer wrote on this subject considerably:

"The only artist who is perfect in all forms of creativity--in technique, in originality, in knowledge of the past and future, in versatility, in having perfect content to express as well as perfect expression of content, in having perfect truth to express as well as perfect expression of truth, in communicating perfectly the wonders of all that exist as well as something about Himself, is of course God--the God who is Personal. God the Artist! ~ Edith Schaeffer, Hidden Art

If God is an artist, and we are created in His image, not only are we His art, we each are artist ourselves. So when we create, after our creator, we honor something of His initial creativity.

Yet, there is something more we need to consider about God's art. God's art is not in it's original form. It is as if God painted the most perfect painting of the broadness of nature and it's landscapes and man to live within it and then another came along and violently cut it across it's canvas, tearing it's beauty and man with it! If we let this sink in, we can feel the loss. We can truly lament the destructiveness unjustly wrought upon God's art! Much like the tears Jesus shed over Lazerus, we weep ourselves, if we truly take the Fall of mankind and creation seriously.

As a result we should consider that nature is no longer properly reflecting the testimony of order that God intended in His perfect art. Consider these words from Schaeffer:

"...nature provides no sufficient base for either morals or law, because nature is both cruel and noncruel." ~ Francis Schaeffer, How Should We Then Live?
Schaeffer is not merely being philosophical here. He is replying to the attempts of man to use nature for these things and likewise echoing a tenant of scripture:
Nature is in bondage to corruption and subject to futility:
 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. (Romans 8:19-22 ESV)
Thus nature, like us, awaits the coming of Christ, who will not only completely restore the image of His people, but also nature itself.  

Yet, we should not forget, however, that God's creation still speaks, bearing not just the testimony of Adam's violence, but it speaks still strongly enough, though the noetic affects of the fall, with the strength to declare God’s invisible attributes:

For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. (Romans 1:20 ESV)
This is significant, and should help us to understand where our true hope rest. Not in man, he is imperfect. Not in nature, it is imperfect. It rest in the message of the creator, who has sought to restore His divine painting! We should understand that one of the most prominent themes of scripture is the  restoratative aspect of God's Covenant. Remember the promise to Abraham after he was prevented from offering Isaac, who was typologically a representation of the offering of Christ?
"and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.” (Genesis 22:18 ESV)
 Thusly, Christ, Abraham's offspring, has blessed the nations.

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” (some manuscripts read, "peace and goodwill among men)
So now consider this: In Christ, there is this thorough understanding of restoration!
 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:17-21 ESV)
Wow! So, now returning to the understanding of creativity. We are no longer creatures of the fall, but the recreated process has begun, from the inside out. We are being restored, the painting restoration has been paid for in blood, the Son of God was cut, that the perfectly painted canvas that was tore in two might be fully restored.  

So what does this mean for us? As Transformationalist, we are in between these two worlds and we must now make strides to represent our true citizenship to the watching world. We are to strive to be personal in a world that follows impersonal nature. We are to be creative, in a world that steadily sees creative and merely utilitarian or abstract. We create after our Creator, who gives meaning to the creation and our creativity shows our inheritance to His creativity, who has both created and re-created His people.

This will be what I will strive to represent personally in my post on this blog in various ways. From time to time, I will display intentional acts of creativity. I do this with the intent of honoring and glorifying Christ, and showing the beauty of creativity as a testimony of His creativity, before a watching world. Join me! Join me in your life, declare the God of creation, through creative acts!

When we are creative, when we restore beauty, we display the miraculous nature of our redeption.

Saturday, May 31, 2014


Francis Schaeffer often said that "If you desire perfection or nothing, you will get nothing."

The implications of that thought are very profound. Something which keeps me thinking, as I strive in work and in life.  

Take a look at the graphic on the left. What do you see? At the top left, is a photo of me, which is un-doctored. Now look at the one in the lower right-hand corner. This one has been digitally enhanced. The image attempts to be perfect, except for one obvious thing. It's simply not real. I personally find the image a little disturbing!

Having spent the last several months looking for a new job, I found myself at times torn between these two versions of me. On one hand you want people to see the best likeness of you in the best possible light, when you are being scrutinized. Yet on the other hand you want to be real. You want to be authentic and not fake or plastic. Thus, a tension arises, between notions of perfection and reality. Something is lost when we try to be something we are not. 

All of this got me thinking. What if people were to see the real you? All of your failures, your worst sins, and your most glaring mistakes? Thinking about this, we are forced to introspection. Yet if we were truly honest, if we truly opened up that closet, and brought out all of the skeletons, none of us would display a perfect image. In fact, what people might find would probably be something ugly and offensive. In some way, some how, there would be something that would show glaringly that we miserably fall short of being perfect. How can anyone stand with dignity, when all of the lights are turned on, shining directly into the darkest corners of our life?

As a Christian, the concept of image and perfection is a rather complex matter. It involves understanding four notions at once. Firstly, scripture teaches that we were made perfect, in the image of God, but that we also are the imperfect Sons of Adam, as C.S. Lewis calls us. We are fallen, imperfect creatures, who have lost our perfection, and the image of God is
largely obscured in us. Yet further, thankfully, the third truth, is that a Second Adam has come, namely Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who has died to give us His perfection.
So what has this got to do with personal and professional image? Well the implications are enormous. Creatively, being made in the image of God, we firstly believe that mankind was made with great dignity and that each person is deserving of our respect. How practical is that in all areas of life? Yet secondly, we are also Sons of Adam, which requires that we each acknowledge our sinfulness. Who can forget the words of Christ, when he tells those who accused the adulterous woman, "Let him who is without sin, cast the first stone?" Do we require absolute perfection of others, when we ourselves are imperfect?

While these two notions seem to offset each other, when we consider the original perfection versus our current imperfection, they beg for the third clarification, that we who are in Christ, are new creatures, awaiting our full transformation. The real question becomes... how do we live this way? How do we live between two worlds?

Well, think of it like this. If I am to live for Christ, in any setting, there must be a recognition that the image I present contains both perfection and imperfection, but more than this, my image is transforming! I am physically and spiritually imperfect, and yet everything good that I am, has come from God. Whether from how He created me, and the gifts He has given me, or what He has brought forth in my life through the work of Christ. Let's not forget that these are perfect gifts to an imperfect person. Think of these three verses together:
In him we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28a ESV)
You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:48 ESV)  
I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:5 ESV)
In these three verses, we see what appears to be contrasting notions. Schaeffer explains this concept as like standing between two cliffs.
The command is clear as a bell: no second—rate standards. “Be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect.” [Matt 5:48] In his stand against the concept of a static perfectionism, the careful theologian will say that we sin daily in thought, word and deed. But woe betide us if we count this our norm. That is totally destructive. There is a difference between the declarative statement that we sin daily and the normative statement that such sinning is acceptable. We can say that we sin daily in thought, word and deed without then resting upon our oars and excusing ourselves. Again, to go over either side of the cliff is equally destructive. ~ Francis Schaeffer, Some Absolute Limits

If we walk off of the perfection cliff, we lapse into Legalism. If we walk off the imperfection cliff, we fall to our death via Antinomianism. The proper place to live is not on either side, or having to choose between these two "isms," but rather another one, namely, Transformationalism! This is the image I am to bear, I am to bear the image of Christ, who both created me and is now transforming me. The creative and transformational work in me, should then be aspiring to live moment-by-moment transforming, to show His victory to a watching world.
    My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. (1 John 2:1 ESV) 

"God has always intended that Christians should be the evidence, the demonstration, of Christ's victory on the cross." ~ Francis Schaeffer, True Spirituality, pg 63 (1971)