1 CALVARY When you ve done it unto the least of these, you ve done it unto me.
2 Page 4 of 64 INTRODUCTION John grew up thinking it was normal helping his father shoot up by holding his arm steady. He was sixteen when he left home. That was the last time he held his father s arm but it wouldn t be the last needle he saw. Thirty years later John is one of millions of children worldwide that grew up in the valley of the shadow of death. When he first saw the painting CALVARY it was hanging in a garage that had been converted into a halfway house by some former addicts. His tough exterior was unable to withstand the impact of the image and he wept convulsively for nearly ten minutes. No amount of statistics, however shocking they may be, will take the place of a personal experience. Everybody knows someone who has suffered from drug and alcohol abuse. CALVARY is a picture worth more than a thousand words. The painting represents one thousand words for every person who has suffered. It also tells the endless story of the mercy and compassion of Jesus. The painting CALVARY helps to say the millions of words that deserve to be spoken for those who have been touched by this tragedy. God is included as one of those who has been deeply touched and hurt. People have shared with us things like, The helplessness I felt against my husband s addiction was the same as the expression on Jesus face in your painting., There was one line in your message about your painting that opened up my spiritual eyes that finally gave me hope to understand that I can beat this drug thing., and I truly believe that The Lord led Steve to create the picture because it goes from the canvas to the soul directly before any filters can get in place. Should the reader care to experience a fraction of the suffering God feels for His children then go online and search out drug addiction, drug abuse, drug rehab, drugs and crime, drugs and children, drugs and rape, drugs and prostitution, and illegal drugs. The countless links will stagger your imagination with the human toll of grief surrounding this ancient and global epidemic. For years I have seen and known enough tragedy to have conceived and birthed the painting CALVARY. I waited years for this opportunity. I remember when I was younger that I often would have opportunities and not be prepared to take advantage of them when they presented themselves. That challenged me to always be ready in the future. The painting CALVARY took three years to come to fruition. Not being able to act when I was first ready to paint held that same sense of loss as when I was younger. However, I also waited twenty years for my company and ministry, ART for GOD, to begin and that taught me that God s timing is much greater than my impatience to experience my timing. I am grateful for all of the delays, detours, roadblocks, and challenges that beset the creation of the painting and subsequently this book. There are too many statistics available to know which few to include in this introduction. According to many of the sites I researched there were a few recurring threads that seemed woven into every fabric of abuse. These are the ones I have chosen. One: Stress...Stress is as much a part of life as is breathing. When stress isn t part of our personal experience we are faced with stress of our friends and family, strangers in the news, or we re invited to be part of some fictional stress and conflict that we see in our movies, hear in our songs, and read in our books. Stress has been a factor since Adam and Eve. Consider, Cain and Abel, Abraham, Moses, David, Job, Mary Magdalene, Esther, Mary and Martha, John the Baptist, Lot and his wife, and a host of other characters from the Bible. Even with Jesus of Nazareth, whose life makes all human emotions an experiential reality for GOD, stress was around Him since His birth.
3 Two: Denial...Refusal to accept the reality of others and the inability to accurately assess our own reality are part of denial. A young girl may see herself fat in the mirror but actually be near self-starvation. A young man may see his gun and needle as a sign of his power and freedom rather than an ever-contracting torture cell. A woman may see her prescription mood medicine as a way of dealing with stress when, in her situation, it may be her way of avoiding problems. An old man may still imagine himself young, handsome, and desirable as he solicits a young girl for sex when his lust is only the dying embers of a life consumed and wasted on selfishness. Three: Self-image...In the simplest terms possible we identify and adopt a strategy to remain takers or, by the grace of God, we strike out against incredible odds and become a giver. Since birth our survival has always been about taking. We cry for food, to be held, or to have our diapers changed. As babies we learn how our caregivers react to our constant needs, and this is the birth of our reactions to stress. As we grow older we begin to cry for things we want but may not need. The clothes, computers, pets, cell phones, cars, and an endless list of material items that we use to create our self-image. Tantrums continue as we try to manipulate our caregivers with varying degrees of success. As we experience rejection to our tantrums we continue to develop new strategies. The ways in which we react to stress, desire, conflict, ambition, religion, and morality are all part of who we think we are, based on how successful our tactics have been. The apocolyptic schizophrenia which sends us hurtling down the highways of life is based on the tragedy that we don t really know how to be givers without a selfish agenda. Bordering on the blasphemous we continue to do good and be givers for the ultimate selfish reward...to be accepted into a glorious eternal adventure reserved for those who have found God and live by His commandments. In the midst of this sad analysis the truth is, we really can become unselfish givers. Should this ever be harnessed and lived, addictions of all kinds would slowly wither and die like darkness retreating as it is being exposed to the ever advancing light of a endless spiritual morning. Our real needs are to be appreciated, respected, loved, and touched with a hand of kindness. If, in our pain and weakness, we surrender to man rather than God, our needs are corrupted by someone else s wants and then, love and sex separate. Love gets lost and sex is taken hostage. Before we find God our self image is as powerfully shaped by our experience with sex as it is with anything else. Four: Replacement realities...drugs fuel a human problem. Drug manufacturers, legal or illegal, make fortunes. Is it based on the knowledge that we apparently don t think the sober level of consciousness is sufficiently adequate to balance and compensate for the struggles of life? Drugs or no drugs, we as humans, turn to a wild variety of entertainments and distractions, to create escapes that dull the real and imaginary aches of our reality. Five: Pain...The most powerful and recurring theme in the testimonies of recovering addicts is PAIN. Self medicating to mask pains so profound that sobriety seemed more unbearable than the addiction. When we attempt to cope with stress using selfishness, impatience, and other free-will decisions that negatively impact others, we are more easily seduced into drug addiction and a host of other lifestyles that make it incredibly difficult to serve a living God and His children. Below are some of the types of information that can be found on a variety of sites in any country of this world. Page 5 of 64 According to Dr. Nora D. Volkow, the director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Stress is a major contributor to the initiation and continuation of alcohol or other drug abuse, as well as to substance abuse relapse after periods of abstinence. She also states, Individuals who have achieved abstinence from drugs must continue to sustain their abstinence by avoiding environmental triggers, recognizing their psychosocial and emotional triggers, and developing healthy behaviors to handle life's stresses... The reason for this behavior is addiction, or one of its fundamental features: the ability to alter peoples' brains such that they can no longer exercise proper judgment or experience normal pleasures. Along with displacing natural "reinforcers" such as food, family, and friends, drugs of abuse also eventually lose their ability to reward, placing the addict on a compulsive quest for more drug and for greater drug potency as their reward circuitry becomes increasingly blunted and desensitized...treatment techniques that foster coping skills, problemsolving skills, and social support play a role in successful treatment. Finally, support from family and friends can play an important role in recovery from both disorders. (www.nida.nih.gov)
4 of addictions and selfishness, and attempt to elevate the truth of art s destiny to serve others by working together artist and observer writer and reader...catalyst and result. The testimonies included in this book have real power, the power of understanding, compassion, and unselfish service for others. Take this power and use it for peace. What in God s name would possess a man to create a painting like, CALVARY? The answer to that question is God. Like Bob Dylan sang, You re gonna have to serve somebody. Knowing that information and knowing what to do with it are two entirely different issues. This then is Bull s Eye Christianity. A singular focus with no concern for denominational and religious differences found outside the bulls-eye...only truth...the truth that will set us free. And we must be free to set others free. 2. WHAT S UP WITH MOSES? Few people have been in a tighter spot and held up better under the scrutiny of history s microscope than Moses. But there are some issues the artist should bring up that have been suspiciously ignored or overlooked. What s with this, You shall make no graven image or any other likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or on the earth beneath, or in the waters or the earth...? (2nd commandment. Exodus 34, Protestant and Hebrew) As the death knell for art spilled from Moses lips I can imagine artists leaping to their death from Mt. Sinai. Moses was leading a band of people who would worship Yahweh as well as the golden calf. So wild were they at that time Moses presented them with some no-brainers like don t worship things ungodly, don t ask God to do ungodly things, don t kill people, don t mess around with another man s wife, don t steal, don t lie, and don t covet. These commandments were liberally topped off with the wrath of God whose judgement allowed men and women to be killed for countless transgressions with no mercy. (http://www.positiveatheism.org/crt/whichcom.htm) As we all know, laws are made for those who continually break them. Those commandments could have just as easily been written like this: Stop killing other people, stop lying, stop stealing, etc. Now it is time to get back to the second commandment. It was never art for art s sake that Moses condemned. Moses condemned the worship of fetishes like the golden calf. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them... The distinction that must be made is that a graven image becomes ungodly only when it is worshipped. Otherwise it is just a thing like money and nothing says ungodly quite like trusting that money will solve your problems and bring you lasting joy instead of God. When an inanimate object is believed to possess magical powers or is elevated to the status of holiness it becomes a fetish. A fetish s power resides in the fact that people believe a spirit resides within that fetish. It was never the fetish itself but the spirit which dwelt within it which became the object of worship. It is our persistent primitive nature that still leans toward worshipping the supposed spirit indwelling inanimate objects, animals, and ideas. Page 9 of 64
5 Page 14 of 64 kill, and destroy? Does he just want to destroy our bodies or is there something more precious? After our friends are killed, our daughters raped, and our families destroyed, if the devil can make us believe that God is not all powerful, all wise, and full of love and goodness, then he has maimed our hearts, killed our hope, and destroyed our faith. And if we are taught to have unfair expectations from our Heavenly Father then we might begin to believe the lies that spawned the question on Friday, Apr. 08, 1966 in TIME Magazine, Is God Dead? * Humans don t need much of an excuse to rationalize their behavior and the seed of doubt as to God s power and love can send millions of men and women fatally squandering their lives in selfish pursuits. And we know from experience that selfishness grows and becomes insatiable whether we have adopted a god of money, sex, drugs, or any other choices that damage and belittle the lives of others. (*http://www.time.com/time/covers/0,16641, ,00.html) 6. HOW DOES IT SERVE THE DEVIL TO SEE LIVES DESTROYED AND FAMILIES BROKEN? The best case the devil has for abuse and addiction is that it helps prove that God s Kingdom is not only weak and powerless to stop evil but, like the Wizard of OZ, God really doesn t exist at all. That is the smoke and mirrors part of the deception. Lucifer can t possibly expect a junkie to further his plans. If someone battling addictions can t get through a single day without figuring out where there next fix, drink, or snort is coming from how will they be able to carry out any orders? In terms of a military strategy every precious life lost to drugs and alcohol is an acceptable loss if Lucifer s war against God s Kingdom is won. So on the one hand we see the tragedy of self consuming addictions and we think we see the devil s plan. What this war is really about is going on in the other hand. The hand palming the card is where the real evil plans are forming. The devil doesn t personally care that a mother weeps with a broken heart at the loss of her child or that a husband and his children can t find the mother who abandoned them. The devil no longer cares about any of our problems. He has enough problems of his own. Things have not gone as he planned since his intentional fall from grace. Murder, rape, theft, addictions, war, and abuse of any kind are our absolute proof that the devil s plans are not working. These horrible human atrocities are the by-product of his failed beliefs and corrupt government which were all based on self-importance, self-love, and self-assertion. This is the palmed card we don t see because we have been told for centuries that this display of hell on earth was proof that the devil s plans were working and this is the card we have always been shown. Think about it for a moment. If the leader of a country creates a form of government like communism or
6 Page 18 of 64 they have lots of money. Having a world view with unrealistic expectations of our Creator is part of a global problem that makes drugs just as valid as religion. We should not choose the fear of going to hell as a reason to go to church or believe in God. The other possibility is that we can be taught to befriend and partner with God rather than fear Him. Fear of God has proven to be a disastrous addition to the Gospel of Jesus. While it may have temporarily worked to control men and women during the times of the Old Testament, it nonetheless didn t work except to marginally curb our human appetites of self-indulgance. If fear was rightfully attached to the truth that sets us free, Jesus hardly would have needed to come here to demonstrate God s tender mercy and forgiveness. People knew back then that God wouldn t stop unholiness, even unto the death of our Savior. We still know it and continue to operate under those conditions. We must move beyond a failed doctrine, whose traditions have become sacred, because hundreds of thousands of men and women in the bondage of drug addiction and crime are dying physically and spiritually in the midst of available truth. Who are we really, that God would become a mortal and die to save us? What redeeming qualities are hidden within us that are so precious to our God? Are we more likely to refuse or give up drugs if we believe we were born into sin or because we are children of God and friends of Jesus? If, because of Adam and Eve, we are born into sin, are we more likely to commit adultery since we deserve to go to hell before we even get a chance? If we are doomed to failure we are not worth saving. If, on the other hand, we are precious in His sight it must be because there resides within us something so valuable that the Creator would become a mortal and teach us face-to-face those truths which
7 for that matter, some doctors are in it for the money, lawyers, insurance companies, casinos, car companies, cigarette companies, wine makers, liquor companies, clothing companies, software companies, book publishers, art supply companies, bakeries, farmers, and don t forget that bankers are also in it for the money. Oddly enough there are some churches that are in it for the money. One of the worst fetish abuses of scripture are the ones used to get extra money in the collection plate. And that abuse is no more exemplified than a few shows on network television. God must be some kind of investment club! All we have to do is put in $100 risk free and we can expect back at least $1,000. That s better than the lottery. We can buy $10,000 worth of tithing tickets and get back at least $100,000. Quoting scriptures about pressed-down and spilling-over monetary returns to get money to support any ministry is blatant spiritual extortion using the power of a fetish and superstition. Odds are, it s the poor people who have been deceived most into giving their widow s mite and not only for the sake of the Kingdom but for the sake of their seductive yet spiritual monetary reward. It is proper and spiritually right to support and biblically tithe to ministries that truly serve the Kingdom but enticing the poor into believing there is an easy way to wealth is no more than theft. Easy money is offered in advertisements in newspapers and on TV all of the time without the banner of God. Why is it that when God s name is invoked, that a lie is supposed to become true? That is the power of a fetish on an unsuspecting person. It is a lie to state that all God s children are supposed to have financial wealth. Tithing to a ministry under the guise that what has been stolen from you will be given back many times over is not a sacrificial gift to God, it s a bribe...now that s a problem. Give for the blessing of giving to a ministry that serves other people and don t expect a financial reward for that gift...now that s part of the solution. Jesus said, The poor will always be with you. Jesus did not have a financial prosperity message. Jesus had a sonship with God, and a God is love, mercy, and forgiveness message. When Jesus preached the real truth the poor gladly received it without wondering what financial reward was in it for them. Financial prosperity has nothing to do with the favor of God. It is proof enough because the poor were gladly received into the Kingdom while many wealthy ignored the invitation of Jesus. The rich left believing their wealth was guarantee enough for entrance based on parts of the Old Covenant which Jesus refuted publicly. Pork-barrel religion, like pork-barrel politics, will stay until we force it to leave. Money is not the problem and money is not the solution. The problem is our desire and willingness to possess that which we cannot honorably earn. Our faulty self esteem fuels our selish desires. Humans have only one way left to get what is not honorably theirs. They must take it by deception or force. Faced with the realities of who we act like and what we do to others probably makes taking drugs seem tame to those who use them. If money is the root of all evil then selfishness is its only seed. Page 21 of 64
8 Page 24 of WHAT S THE RUSH BIG BOY? Our same desperation for immediate answers to our painful prayers may also have been the source of our undoing. Lack of patience has crippled more lives than all of mankind s diseases combined. Not getting our way and not getting it when we want it has led many people to have, not only unreal expectations of other people, but of God as well. Our impatient expectations lead us into temptation and deliver us into evil situations. Anger, resentment, impatience, hatred are the manifest poisoned opposites of God s spiritual fruits. We advertise the need and ability to lose weight fast without the wisdom of self control. We encourage men and women to trust the magic pill to lose weight fast. And with greed, being a symptom of impatience, we have drugs like, Fen Phen, the diet wonder proven to damage people s hearts. Not only did the class action lawsuit against the maker, American Home Products, now known as Wyeth, result in a judgement of some two hundred million dollars against their early and poorly tested release (impatience) of the drug, but to the everlasting disgrace of the attorneys involved, they were caught increasing their fees, with the approval of a now retired judge, to fifty percent. Out of a two hundred million dollar settlement the men and women, whose heart valves were damaged by the drug, only received 37% of the settlement. Impatience and greed are inseparable. (http://www.courier-journal.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?aid=/ /news01/ ) Ungodly behavior spawned by selfishness and impatience leads to the betrayal of trust, and whether it s a doctor, attorney, friend, parent, or Judas Iscariot, that betrayal, will so warp an individual that their denial can put them beyond anyone s reach except God s. Jesus expressed in word and deed that God is patient. The fruits of the Spirit include patience. Truth be told endless books could be written on each of the fruits of the spirit that come from willful and loving association with the Spirit of God. Jesus understood that timing was everything. For example, why did Jesus wait three days before going to raise Lazarus? History reveals that the Jews did not believe that one was truly dead until after three days. If Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead any earlier his enemies would have argued that Lazarus was not really dead. While denials may easily mask our selfishness, little can be done to conceal our impatience. All of us have experienced the burning poison when we allow impatience to settle into our minds. Fast food, faster cars, lightning fast internet connections, ever faster computers, instant oil changes, instant , pills to lose weight quicker, fall asleep faster, quick marriages and quicker divorces, all disguised as only for our convenience have lured us to sleep. If we were to live for the sake of our eternal destiny, our conveniences would not have such a negative effect on us. It is difficult to teach children to be patient when we are bombarded with an instant access lifestyle which breeds upon unsuspecting souls, choices destined to fail without God s grace. 13. HOW GOOD IS A COUNTERFEIT? A counterfeit $100 bill is only as good as the counterfeiter. How good a counterfeiter was Lucifer? His work was better than we can possibly imagine which is why we so often can t identify what the Pearl of Great Price is for us. In this example I will use three types of pearls: real, imitation, and cultured. A real pearl grows slowly over years because of an irritating grain of sand which has found its way into the oyster. A cheap imitation pearl can be made in a fraction of that time. The good counterfeit (cultured) pearl artificially introduces the grain of sand into the oyster and while they seem to go through the same process for the same amount of time it is not the same. The cheap imitation only looks good from a distance. Up close it has no depth to its shine and is so cheap to reproduce that each pearl is seldom separated by knots on the strand of that holds it together. As Christians we usually mistake the cheap imitation for the good counterfeit. The good counterfeit pearl has the same luster and depth of shine as the real pearl, and is likewise always
9 Page 29 of 64 In the painting CALVARY there are only two cards, the King of Hearts or the Joker. The King of Hearts represents God and the Joker represents the devil. The joker is underneath the King and rests in the shadow of the gun which is the destruction of self and others. The joker smiles and offers a variety of masks, or facades to the viewer. The joker is a wild card, a chameleon if you will, which assumes the identity of a card the player would like to have help him win the hand. The mark of the beast is one of the last and best slight of hand tricks I am going to tell you about. We have had countless books and movies about 666. If you are looking for the real devil and not the one held up like a pinata, to hit while blindfolded, then open your eyes. Blaming others for our condition deserves some quotes on blame. z The great liability of the engineer compared to men of other professions is that his works are out in the open where all can see them. His acts, step by step, are in hard substance. He cannot bury his mistakes in the grave like the doctors. He cannot argue them into thin air or blame the judge like the lawyers. He cannot, like the architects, cover his failures with trees and vines. He cannot, like the politicians, screen his short-comings by blaming his opponents and hope people will forget. the engineer simply cannot deny he did it. Herbert Hoover ( ) (As Christians, are we going to blame our failures on the devil or are we going to be like engineers? We can rally together united with a single purpose to right a terrible wrong. We can blame the devil all we like but it wont change who he is, so why waste even one second of our time railing on the failed plans of a madman?) If your daily life seems poor, do not blame it; blame yourself, tell yourself that you are not a poet enough to call forth its riches; for to the Creator there is no poverty and no poor indifferent place. Rainer Maria Rilke ( ) (God s riches have nothing to do with money because poverty, in the eyes of Heaven, is the person consumed with themselves.) Be not too hasty either with praise or blame; speak always as though you were giving evidence before the judgement seat of the Gods. Seneca (5BC - 65AD) I do not confer praise or blame: I accept. I am the measure of all things. I am the centre of the world. W. Somerset Maugham ( ) Any party which takes credit for the rain must not be surprised if its opponents blame it for the drought. Dwight D. Morrow z There is a well loved, out of circulation, cartoon strip called Pogo. One day the cartoon strip ended with, We have met the enemy and he is us. How appropriate that a cartoon character might disclose one of the most profound truths about human nature. The mark of the beast is a Mexican pinata. So many theologians have staked their careers on unmasking the anti-christ and the mark of the
10 Page 32 of 64 ceived was kindness with a tender touch. Words that gave them hope that God did not only love the wealthy. Words of courage that they were equal in God s eyes with the most powerful of people. Words of wisdom where they experienced self-respect rather than self-hatred because of their lives. Jesus surely enjoyed seeing the lights come on when those who gladly heard Him understood. A smile would effortlessly fill His face already shaped by mercy and service and the onlooker would feel the radiance of His love for them. How better to go and face the struggles of this life? Jesus did not teach that a life of ease showed God s blessing. Jesus wants men and women who will face the challenges and adventure of this life as He did, trusting in our Heavenly Father s ever present companionship. Jesus showed that God wants men and women who can triumph over tragedy, smile in the face of defeat, and have a deep peace in the midst of sorrow. All of these character traits are part of our destiny. All of this free will choosing determines day by day, moment by moment who we will be in the Kingdom here and beyond. Choosing to face life with faith in a loving God is not a hard concept to teach. Learning to love and serve others the way Jesus did and continues to do for us is real work. After all, the greatest commandment is the one that came from the lips of Jesus. That you love one another as I have loved you. Teach that. Live that. Watch the fruit that comes from one sentence. Telling the story of Job will not change the heart of an afflicted person the same as watching Jesus smile through His own afflictions. When we realize that describing the life and teachings of Jesus is not just Paul s story about Jesus but rather experiencing divine dignity and grace within our souls. When we hear Jesus timeless words and imagine His deeds of kindness and mercy we know they are for all mankind. 14. TIME, TRUST AND SERVICE When Jesus told the parable of the talents, Matthew 25:14-30, it was about more than money. The one talent all humans possess in equal measure is time. How is our time used? Is it just an opportunity or is it an opportunity to serve others? The illusions of freedom and liberty are no more illustrated than when time fatally wasted on selfish pursuits. We need not look further than the day by day living interaction of Jesus with men and women to see how God values time. He was telling us the secrets found within greatness are completely interwoven with how we use our time. Great men and women in the Kingdom do great things for others. Why do we choose ourselves over others as we navigate through time? Does a shallow understanding of time facilitate addictions like drug abuse? Better yet, if we knew that time was literally created as an opportunity for us to personally experience the presence of God would we waste it so tragically? To balance the use of time, from the spiritual perspective, we must submit to and actively pursue both work and rest. How we choose to work will certainly effect what we choose to do with our free time. If a person spends their time working to pay for their drugs then how might that day go? Whether it is a factory job, a job on Wall Street, or theft, the work day exists to only benefit the selfish pursuits of taking the drugs. If the free time is used in any way to take advantage of others then the pursuits of the work are unholy. Once again in the parable of the talents, it was the person who had an excuse for being lazy, which is ultimately just one expression of selfishness, that up-
11 we love and serve it with a glad heart by serving and loving others? Will the life of that infant be more important than our own life and grow into a strong man or woman who can withstand abuse and rejection? The Kingdom of God is within us, living and growing. Depending on how we use our time, whether we are trustworthy and willing to serve, will determine whether that God-child will grow up with a willingness to heed that still small voice or whether we will lock the door and walk away leaving the little one in the darkness to die of starvation, loneliness, and with a broken heart. To be unselfish, to be patient, and to use our free-will to prove our trustworthiness and willingness to serve others is how time was meant to be used. The purpose and true identity of time may easily be masked by the false liberties we now enjoy as humans. Any liberty that promotes selfishness and impatience is counterfeit, false and enslaving. We need to understand the simple realities first. As we become trustworthy in the small concepts we will be given more challenging adventures with God. The devil can quote scripture because it makes him look smart in the eyes of others. God is completely aware of our hidden motives and no matter how well we fool others into giving us what we want, God is not mocked and whatsoever we sow we surely will reap. 17. ARE YOU WILLING TO FORGIVE? Page 35 of 64 The multiplatinum singer, Mary J. Blige, said recently, I had no self-respect. I was depending on others to make me feel good, but they hated themselves too. All the fame and money could not erase the abuse her mother suffered and the abandonment she experienced at the age of four. We lived in the ghetto, Mary says. I d hear women screaming and running down the halls from guys beating up on them. People chased us with weapons. I never saw a woman there who wasn t abused. It was a dangerous place. No one wanted anyone else to get ahead. When I was five, sexual stuff was done to me. My mother was a single parent, a working woman. She left us with people she thought could be trusted. They hurt me. After that happened, I thought: Is it somehow my fault? Through every phase of her painful life she is now at a place where she found out what matters. With the help of her husband, Isaac, of whom she said,...the real me reached out to this man because he cared about me. He didn t want anything from me. He wasn t using me. Mary ended her interview with Parade magazine with these words, If you don t forgive, you re not going to be able to move on...you ll be stuck in hatred and bitterness, meditating on all the hurt, probably dying from all the bitterness bottled up inside you. I let it go. I began to trust and have faith. I moved on. (Parade Magazine 2/04/07) Forgiving others and asking for forgiveness has a dynamic spiritual power. Not getting our way, selfishness, leads to resentment. Resentment leads to betrayal and betrayal leads us down the dark alley where shadows become real and our personality becomes distorted just like the shadows with whom we now identify. The most powerful message of forgiveness came from the lips of Jesus as He uttered in pain and exhaustion, Father forgive them for they know not what they do. Our churches may esteem forgiveness on one hand but our culture promotes revenge on the other. The monetary profits from our entertainment industry clearly indicate that while we may espouse forgiveness we just can t get enough of revenge. Yes the plots are still good versus evil with the good defending itself and winning in a way that invariably promotes death. We may not want to call it revenge. Protection and defense from the enemy sounds so much better. I suppose that Jesus had every right to defend Himself. He certainly could have answered Pilate in such a way as to beg for forgiveness. He might have used His physical strength to overpower His enemies when in danger. This meek and lowly manifestation of God in flesh would not partake of any form of mental, verbal, or physical abuse. He forgave but did not ever need to be forgiven. We must learn to forgive for the sake of peace. We must ask for forgiveness even when we did not initiate the problem. Marriage counseling is full of he said, she said and he did it first. This resentment that builds up from lack of forgiveness helps destroy marriages, families, friends, and our relationship with
12 God. When we don t get our way is it because God doesn t understand how important our plans are? And as we are taught to ask all things in Jesus name, do we consider Jesus weak and useless when He doesn t answer our prayers the way we want them answered? If you won t forgive the men and women who have hurt you, you likewise will not forgive God. One is the measure of the others. 18. BE FRUITFUL AND MULTIPLY? Page 36 of 64 It seems that we are capable of only reproducing our own kind. In spirituality if we keep breeding denominational and religious intolerance we might as well get neutered. We don t need more people like us, we need more people like Jesus. Jesus was tolerant so why aren t we? If we continue to judge other religions or any group of people with whom we are uncomfortable we are no different than the Pharisees. Jesus said, Judge not lest you be judged... You judge according to the flesh, I judge no man. If we want to sow seeds that are capable of rooting out addictions then we must not be afflicted ourselves...lest the blind lead the blind. Drug addicts may need alot of things from us but judgment is not one of them. If we must reproduce our spiritual clones, within a denomination, then let s create those who truly love to serve God and their fellow men and women sufficiently to change a world in desperate need of help. If we do that our churches will be overflowing with people who resonate God s love and compassion outside the walls of the church who have no idea or could care less about what denomination they are. Sowing the seeds of kindness and service resonate throughout eternity while our selfish seeds fall to barren soil. Cast them abroad with every step we take knowing, as in the parable of the sower, that not everyone will appreciate who we are, and what we say and do. Sow our seeds knowing that if only one falls on good soil the effort was worth it. Count our success in life by those who receive our kindness not by those who reject it and love those who reject our kindness lest we end up only sowing repeatedly in the same small area where one seed grew. Love the harvest of souls. Love those whose harvest is greater or less than ours. Just be grateful to be part of true liberty by serving others with a glad heart. Bag their groceries knowing they don t want the bread crushed. Drive the nails knowing others trust you to make their building strong. Teach children knowing they deserve to be a reflection of God and not a reflection of you. Serve food as if God Himself is at the table. Give the speeding ticket knowing that your attitude may save lives. Defend the weak, comfort those in sorrow, forgive those who spitefully abuse you, pray for those who reject your kindness, rejoice with your fellow workers who labor with you, all the while knowing that inside all of those people, including you, lives a Holy God who awaits the joy of feeling you breath, think, speak, act, serve, and love. SERVE MAN BY LOVING GOD, SERVE GOD BY LOVING MANTM The truth will set you free only if it is the right truth. 19. WHO ARE YOUR HEROES AND WHY? Does your definition of a hero include Jesus of Nazareth or is he more like Neo in The Matrix? Can Jesus be a hero to our youth when we constantly glorify violence and revenge as the solution to our problems. How many movies about a non-violent man can we watch without getting bored? It is hard for us to reconcile our animal ferocity with our lamb-like spirits. Some people would rather identify with the wolf and ignore the lamb. Is acting like a lamb for the weak? If real men and women are fighters will they sacrifice the lamb to become like the wolf?
13 Page 39 of 64 Karen (last name kept private for the sake of her grandchildren) Wyoming, Michigan Dear Mr. Sawyer. z Before I write to you to let you know how much your new picture Calvary, changed my life. I want you to know that I prayed about sharing this testimony, because I know that in my own strength, I would never even begin to explain on my own what happened the first night that I saw your new painting "CALVARY". I have seen your ministry and I do say ministry because your paintings are not just paintings. To me each one tells a story. So I decided to go to your website to see if you had anything new. Before I even noticed that you were writing a book about your new picture CALVARY, I read what you had written about the picture. There was one line in your message about your painting that opened up my spiritual eyes that finally gave me hope to understand that I can beat this drug thing. Here is my story. It may be graphic in detail, but please feel free to edit out what you may feel that would offend someone or may cause someone to draw away, but to tell my story, I must be unflinchingly honest if I am to be set free. Jesus help me so that I may help others through Mr. Sawyer s ministry. I am a 50 year old grandmother who loves the Lord with all of my heart. I mean I love Him with every fiber of my being. I have always been a pretty strong Christian doing my thing trying to win as many souls to Jesus as possible. But about 2 years ago the devil came from out of left field and knocked the life out of me. I mean emotions came from me that I never thought I had. After you read my story you will know why. When I saw your picture "CALVARY" I was completely blown away. First, by the one line that you wrote about the picture. This is the line. "Only God can go where all the doors are held shut by the enemy. Only God will stay even when the devil himself finally walks out on you. Only God will share in the fullness of your sufferings and never forsake you." This one line made me want to fight again. All of this time I have been trying to go through the door by myself. By this I mean to get off of the drugs. Then I looked at the picture. I saw a Junky who Jesus loved so much. I could tell this by the expression that is on his face of Jesus that you painted. I saw that there was a gun on the table and he was ready to end his life or possbly the life of someone else. I saw a drunk and then I saw myself. Yes, I am a junkie, and as hard as it is that is to admit, especially because my husband and I have been an Evangelist for over 20 years. But more than anything I saw in your picture my sweet Jesus who loves me and has not given up on me or anyone else for that matter, even when I had given up on myself. Now the tears are falling. I know that I have a long way to go, but at least now I am willing to fight. I have been struggling with pain pills for the last 15 years off and on, getting set free and somehow getting hooked on them again. For some reason when you are a prescription Junky in your mind, you try to justify because the Doctor gives you the pills that you are not an addict, but I am a addict. About two years ago, I found out that my grandchildren and my niece were being brutally raped, beaten, molested, not to mention other unspeakable things by my daughters ex- husband. All of this can be verified by the Judge here in Michigan if you need to read it.
14 to get set free so that I can help my daughter. My daughter still blames herself, because she keeps saying she should have known. She felt like she had let her children down. She still does. I told her that it was not her fault, that it was E s fault and the devils. I will keep telling her that until she gets it. Yes we are still both addicted, but last night we had a long talk and now we are going to fight to get off of the drugs and the alcohol. We both have repented and asked God to help us and we know that we are going to beat this thing. But here is the thing that God showed me about your picture. In the picture I saw the junky, the alcoholic, the skull which to me represented the devil, but I could not figure out, what the tiny hand print on the door was. Then I knew, It was our babies. (Tears are falling). I know that our babies will be alright. Mr. Sawyer I have no doubt that Jesus sent me to your ministry the other night and now He has given me the strength through that one work of art to keep fighting and to help my daughter and my grandchildren and my niece as well as her mother S. I know see your paintings in a whole new light. The light that can only be illuminated by The Holy Sprit. It is our prayer that in some small way, that this story will help others who have been and are still going through what (we) have been through and if it helps one person to give there heart to Jesus through your ministry and our testimony then it will be worth all that we have suffered. Thank you so much for your ministry, please keep up the good work, I now know that Jesus is going to set all of us free, thank you so very, very, much, May God bless you and your family and keep you in His ever loving care. Until He returns! Karen Leon Brush, Beckley, WV z Page 41 of 64 My wife, Donita, and I lost our 23 year old son to a drug overdose Jan 20th We were stunned by the tragic loss. The morning that he was buried I got up and wrote a letter to the demon - Addiction. I will forward a copy to you later. When we saw your artwork- Calvary we bought a limited edition copy for our new rehab center that is opening in Brian s Safehouse is a ministry center for young men between the ages of 18 and 35 struggling with chemical addictions. We will hang the picture in our Safehouse. Thank You for your ministry in art. Sincerely, Leon Brush Dear Addiction, It s rather strange that the two of us have met. You came into our Family so unexpectedly. The deception that you brought was never known at the beginning. Your offers were so enticing when you first visited our home. You promised feelings of confidence when one was feeling a little down. You promised a feeling of calmness when anxiety and worrisome thoughts plagued our mind. At the beginning we thought you were a friend and would help one cope with the personal struggles of life. We didn t understand the nature of your relationship. The promises that you made when we first met were replaced with the reality of the monster that you are. Since you have come into our home you have left a path of hurt and destruction. You placed barriers between our family members and created agony as you brought
15 Page 44 of 64 in the prison cafeteria, and walking out into the cold night, knowing that the men in the jail were at least as free as I, and that the glow of the moment in Jesus presence followed them back to their cell block. It s more than a little weird to feel left out because of physical freedom. Joy to the World has been used by God as a catalyst for the journey between the head and the heart love moving the foot and a half south east. Those who have been hurt, those in the process of developing the victorious limp of healing are often short on trust. Trust can kill, because trust allows the presence of another in the inner sanctum of ones self a place of intimacy, and the scene of murder and destruction of the very beings of many of these men. Few are allowed such access to the tender being within, because most who have been allowed there have at best inflicted abandonment, and at worst caused the devastation and destruction of more proactive abuse. Most of these men don t enter their own heart themselves, preferring the dull ache of wondering to the intense pain of knowing. The tender heart is protected by the iron will of a mind that knows the cost of allowing access. The intellect protects the tender heart with the ferocity of an angry Doberman, a drooling, snapping, angry dog of intellect that guards the wall of denial. The walls of denial are built with bricks that have names like it doesn t matter, and no one really loves me and I can t trust you and I m no good, and they form a formidable wall that the occupant strengthens with additional bricks if anyone takes the time to approach the wall. Jesus hates this wall. He hates the lies that are the bricks, He hates the isolation the wall creates, He hates the manufacturer of the brick who is the author of the lies. But Jesus LOVES the man behind the wall, He loves the tender heart, He calls over the wall, You can trust ME., I love you, I m here for you., You re my beloved son., I m proud of you. and he sends events and people who weaken the wall. And ONE day, this day, He sent a picture of Himself over the walls of twenty men. The enemy has been sending pictures over for years. The pictures the enemy sends are the worst kind they have enough truth that they are believable, yet the message of the picture is clear: I m talking to my Father, don t bother Me, or I m pious, and you aren t or I haven t had a good laugh in my entire life, and if I bust you laughing, it ll be off to hell with you.. These pictures are not Jesus. They might represent a little PART of Jesus, but they distort the Being by focusing on a small part of Him, and thereby representing Him as unapproachable. So Jesus used Stephen to slip the real deal over the wall. A smiling, laughing, loving, intimate God in the flesh. A blue eyed 70 s looking hippy represents a first century Jewish rabbi. Artistic license that reaches around and over the wall, that permeates the wall and threatens it s very foundation. Art BYPASSES the defenses. Art walks around the wall of intellect, because the intellect cannot filter the eyes as well as it filters the ears. Even reading, because it involves more of the eyes than the ears, is less susceptible to the filter of denial. Some folks have an allergic reaction when they see this art, and the reasons vary for this reaction. Some hold Jesus at arm s length because the stirrings of life they feel around Him simply hurt too much. They d rather that part stay asleep, like the man lying on the floor watching the Super Bowl. At half time, to make it to the bathroom,
16 had known me before but who had seen me during this time of desolation in my life. She is already dead... There is no hope left for her... You can see her at her funeral I remember as I hung up the phone, all of my hope was gone. I cried out to Jesus once again, to PLEASE let me die. With only a small portion of herion left in my pocket, I knew I had to make more money for the next one. You see, this is how I lived every minute. I would get into a car with a stranger, do whatever he asked me to do for any amount of money he was willing to pay, to ensure that I never had to feel the full force of the pain of the reality of what was happening in my life. Even after being raped, beaten up, robbed and coming so close to being murdered so many times, I would not even hesitate to get into the next car and the next. And I was so grateful for the warmth of a car heater even if only for a few minutes at a time. Within a matter of minutes I had another score and as I pushed the poison into my veins, I continued to silently pray...i remember reciting silently in my head... King Heroin is my Shepherd, I shall always want, he maketh me to lie down in gutters, he destroyed my soul...and saying...jesus, I am so sorry for disappointing You, Please take care of my children... As I bowed my head feeling the acceptance of dying resting upon me, I looked up and saw my friend s red van pull up right in front of me. To me it was like a Chariot of Gold. John V. Brunackey III stepped out of the van and cradled my weak body and lifted me up into the van. Later on John explained to me that he had decided that there was NO Way that he was planning to come to me this time, but he could not get rid of the continuous pulling at his heart. He explained to me that something kept telling him... Go to her...go to her..., don t ask questions, don t be afraid, just go to her... The next day I woke up in a hospital bed. It was at that time that I returned to my First Love...Jesus Christ. It was not a coincidence that John, no matter what anyone said to him that night, could not fight the tug on his heart because my wonderful Lord and Savior spoke to John s heart that night. It was my precious Savior that held onto my life and gave me a second chance...a wretch like me. It was my Wonderful Precious Lord and Savior that gave back to me my children and my life. I now have the chance and I am now teaching my children about our Lord and Savior. My grandmother and I now have long joyful conversations filled with the Glory and Honor of our Wonderful Redeemer. The Lord gave to me a husband who loves and respects me and knows everything about who I was before. He told me that he fell in love with me because he saw Jesus in me. Jesus not only healed my broken spirit but HE has also healed my physical body. I had contracted Hepatitis C from my use of needles, and a few months ago was told by the doctor that it had disappeared. It has to be a miracle are the words used by the doctor. Well, yes, I agree. Because, you see, I serve a God of Miracles, a God of Love, a God of Restoration and Redemption, a God who could wipe away the horrible things I had done and welcome me home with Arms of Forgiveness open wide. It is said throughout the recovery circuits that one cannot escape drug addiction except by these three means: Jails, Institutions or Death...I was delivered through death! Death to the Flesh through Jesus Christ. Psalm 23 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever. IN HIM, Mitzi I have been touched by the hem of His garment Page 47 of 64
17 Page 48 of 64 Pastor Vince Goble, Chatsworth Ga. z ( ed to Cindy Sawyer) Cindy, We will appreciate anything you send and we assure you 100% of the proceeds go to buy Bibles for inmates. (ART for GOD made some art donations to the Faith Worship Center) Now let me tell you about the painting. Stephen ed it to me the other day and told me how God had moved upon him to paint this and the record time in which it was painted. You must remember I pastor a Whosoever church and God sends us and we minister to MANY who have been on the bottom. To be totally honest with you these are some that many churches might not be too happy to get, but God just amazes me how He turns their lives around and gives people who have had nothing good jobs and new desires. I don t mean to go on every time I talk to you but I am excited about what God is doing here through somebody such as myself and my wife who come from very simple backgrounds. Let me get to the point. The Sunday morning after Stephen ed this to me I was in my office before the morning service and I pulled up the prints on the computer while I was in my Bible program searching for some things, and while I was looking at it the Lord spoke to me and told me to share it with the congregation. I scrambled to get someone from the video booth to my office to see if I could get this image upon the screen. My message that Sunday was on Covenant Relationship using the scripture where Jonathan and David made the covenant and how many years later David remembered that covenant and ended up bringing Jonathan s son Mephibosheth out of Lodebar. I was emphasizing the fact that no matter how low you have been that because of the Covenant God made with us through His Son on the cross you too may come out of Lodebar and sit at the king s table. I showed at the beginning of the message the part of the print that only revealed the man shooting up with the needle. It wasn t until the end of the message at the invitation that I revealed the entire print showing that it was actually the arm of Christ. You could have heard a pin drop! The next sound was a low deep moan through the audience. Next you could hear weeping as many of the congregation began to leave their seats and make their way to the altars. I can t explain how the Holy Spirit moved here that day only to say it was nothing short of awesome! In His Service, Vince Faith Worship Center 189 Hyden Tyler Road (P.O. Box 638) Chatsworth Ga Pastor Vince Goble
18 Page 49 of 64 z Kevin Eckiss, Springerton, Ill. Two years ago I was living in a crack house and addicted to crack cocaine. My story is about how I got there but more importantly how I got clean. To really understand we must go back to when I was 24 years old. I met a young girl, fell in love and we were married when I was 24 years old. Shortly after that we both became Christians and started attending a bible believing church. A year earlier I started working for a large company in the engineering department that produced parts for the automotive industry. Over the years my marriage was getting better, our relationship with Jesus was maturing. I became more involved in ministry and I was advancing at work. I did not believe that life could be any more complete. My life seemed to have the perfect balance between my work, my home life and my relationship with Jesus. I was now engineering manager at work making very good money, a loving and caring wife who encouraged me in everyway and I was a trustee in one of the largest churches in town. Somewhere Somehow, and I m not exactly sure when, but compromise crept in between teaching Sunday school, leading small group bible studies and attending trustee meetings. Compromises began to invade my home life and my work. I have ask myself repeatedly the unanswerable question, (why?) many many times. The only thing I know for sure, is when you start compromising on what you know is right you will start doing what you know is wrong. This is where it all started. Once I started down the path of doing wrong things, it didn t take long before I was face to face with what would soon become an unquenchable desire within me, cocaine. I have been told that you can become addicted by just one use, but I knew better than that, it takes repeated use to become an addict. I WAS WRONG! I became instantly addicted to cocaine and the unquenchable obsession began. I spent more and more time thinking about, looking for and using cocaine. It was becoming my life; cocaine owned me (mind, body and soul). I was spending less time with my wife, less time at work and less time at church. My new god was taking over and I had no power to stop it. Lying was now normal for me. I lied to get away from my wife so I could use. I had every imaginable mask to wear to church; I hid at work all for the sake of drugs. Lying, hiding and wearing masks was now what I had become. When want became need ; truth, honor, integrity and decency ceased to matter. One day my wife filed for divorce, she got tired of me not being at home. My company called me in and gave me the option of self terminating or be terminated. I guess they were tired of me not being there also. So here I am divorced and out of work and a full fledged cocaine addict. How could I be these things and still be involved in ministry at church? That s when I walked away from God and gave myself fully to my addiction (my new god). My new life living in a crack house. New friends addicts like me. Even though I was running from God, he did not give up on me. He used people to draw me back to Him. I remember a time after several days of heavy drug use, I was talking to a friend and she asked me about my past. I told her about how much God meant to me and the ministries I was involved in and that I had became a Christian at the age of twenty-four. The work I did and my twenty year marriage and how it ended because of drugs. Her words hit me hard, she said, One day you re going to speak at my church. All I could think about was, is this God trying to tell me something? Could God ever use me again or would He even want to. I was getting tired of running from God, hiding from my family, I hated using drugs but couldn t stop. I made many futile attempts to quit. How could I quit when I was living in a crack house with drugs all around and dealers living next door? But I tried and repeated the cycle of failure, guilt, shame, fear and depression over and over again. I was a failure because I couldn t quit. I felt guilt because of the many promises I made to myself and others. And the shame of here I am letting my family down again. Fear would sweep over me because
19 22. ONE REMARKABLE WEEK The painting of CALVARY. Page 51 of 64 After waiting three years for my vision to create an image that would serve those hiding in the darkest areas of life, came to fruition. In 2003, drove ART for GOD to a Randy Clark Global Awakening Conference in Harrisburg, Pennsyvania. I met a man I only know as Pastor Rock from St. Louis, Missouri during the conference. He asked me if I could create an image about drug abuse. Within minutes during our conversation I knew exactly what I wanted to paint. I shared the idea with him and asked if he would be the model for the junkie. He, with the power of the Holy Spirit, had overcome drug addiction and was now a Pastor serving others in various stages of recovery. My prayer was to create an image that had the power to change one person s life and turn their passion towards God and be set free from whatever addiction(s) they had. I was overwhelmed by the necessity of creating this painting believing that every day that I was delayed the potential to help someone devastated by drugs was lost. After Pastor Rock was unable to participate I began my search for the right person. I was sure that a real junkie would be able to spot a phony message which is why I knew I had to have a real ex-junkie in the painting. It was very clear to me that this painting might never sell and that I had to be willing to paint this for just one person. After several failed attempts over the years to find my timing and my model everything changed when I was speaking at a Christian fundraiser, The Samaritan s Ball, in Terre Haute, Indiana. My wife, Cindy and I, reconnected with a couple, Ray and Libby Morgan, who came to the Ball to see me. After finding out that he worked with Teen Challenge I threw out my net one more time. Ray told me, Not only have you found someone who will help you with the painting, if you and your wife attend church with us tomorrow I believe you will meet your model. We attended church and met Alan Thompson. A man on fire for God, as much as any man I ve met, greeted me and we spoke about the painting. We both felt it was right so we made plans. I asked Alan to visually regress so that when he looked into the mirror he would see the same man he used to be. Saturday, May 13, 2006, Ray Morgan drove down with Alan from Terre Haute to my studio in Versailles, Kentucky. This was the long awaited day for the photo shoot. I flew my model, Tye Dove Gardner, in from California for the weekend. Tye knew I had been trying for years to bring this painting to fruition so when I called him with the news that I was finally ready I was greatly relieved that his schedule would work. One of the most important reasons that I want to share this photo session and the progress photos is to bring the creative process out of the mysterious supernatural realm and put a human face on it. While I am greatly honored that men and women have found profound truths within my paintings I don t want anyone to misunderstand just how important it is to develop your talents so that God can use you. Many years of effort are the culmination of each successive painting and while I give God the glory for everything, it was my years of dedication that brought this to fruition. Nothing mystical happened. God did not work on the painting while I was asleep. My passion to serve others with my gift was enough. The presence of God has always been welcomed in my studio. Every ART for GOD painting has been wrought with prayer and worship. I only want to create images that serve others.
20 Page 53 of 64 On day two, May 19, I first painted the arms and face of the junkie and saved painting the face of Jesus last. I knew this was the right decision as I made it. In my mind this made the junkie s free will all powerful and it allowed Jesus, as a spirit force, to slowly become visible to me. I continued to work on the expression of Jesus on the third day. Painting the junkie s arms and hands was a powerful experience. The muscular arms, the clenched fist with the power to kill...but the one embracing the syringe with a surgeon s precision was the one killing. The pain and anguish in Jesus face was difficult to convey. Pain through mercy and compassion is a unique expression. On the third day I finished the faces of Jesus and the junkie as well as moving around the painting with my brush to improve and finalize details in other areas.