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Chi-Rho Newsletter – Thy Word is a Lamp Unto My Feet

                                “Thy Word is a Lamp Unto My Feet Mosaic” © by Donna Gonzalez

 

I hope all of you had a wonderful time with family and friends this Christmas!  Though Christmas Day was yesterday, the reason for this season is life changing for the individual as well as in the course of history.  It is also a way of life. And I hope this painting can help show that as it pertains to the significance of this Christmas season. 

The original mosaic for this painting was done in acrylic on an 8″x10″ canvas and has an effect added to it which makes each brushstroke and line of paint appear to glow.  The finished composition that you see above, however; is made up of 48 identical mosaics which when placed together creates this unique pattern. What is really cool is due to this intricate pattern it creates an optical illusion!  I love how this piece came out! The scripture verse is taken from Psalms 119:105 which holds a special meaning this Christmas season. 

Iconography: I’ve only highlighted a few here in pink, but throughout the entirety of this artwork are a series of yellow rectangles which depict tempo or movement. Not unlike a series of footsteps walking across a tiled floor. 

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Between the yellow squares are darker tiles that symbolize horizontal and vertical pathways. I’ve highlighted a couple of them here, and reduced the opacity so they are easier to see. Again these also run the entire length and width of the artwork. 

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In between each set of four footsteps are implied lines that form an elliptical shape which appears as an optical illusion, three are highlighted in red below. As you eyes scan the artwork they appear and disappear quickly. 

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So how does all of this fit in neatly with Psalm 119:105 and Christmas? Christmas is the season of joy, hope and gift giving that has it’s origins back to God Himself Who would give the greatest gift of all, His Son, the promise to not only the nation of Israel but to all of mankind. Isaiah 9:6 says:

For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given,
    and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

This promised Savior would be fulfilled hundreds of years later as transcribed by the Gospel writer Luke. The following is just part of what is often read during Christmas describing the account of Jesus’ birth:

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Luke 2:8-12

The Gospel writer John writes of Jesus entering the world:

14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14

Later Jesus would described Himself as our light:

12 When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12

We look to Jesus the Word incarnate who’s very words are life, as He leads we follow in step with Him.

“105 Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” Psalm 119:105

This is symbolized by the yellow footsteps in the painting. Just as a lamp brings light to a path for those in darkness, Jesus is our light. The darker tiles represent just how narrow that path is, so narrow it seems only two footsteps wide. We are called to walk in His footsteps.  Meaning we abide close to Him and do not wander away from the truth of God’s Word.  Jesus said:

 13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.Matthew 7:13-14

The great glorious King Jesus left the splendors of Heaven, to be born in the most humble of means in a lost and dying world, lived a sinless life, healed the sick, raised the dead doing many good works to show the Father’s heart. He taught us how to love God and to love one another. He willingly took the punishment that was ours dying on a cross, rose to life triumphantly three days later having conquered sin, death and the grave, that we may know the forgiveness of sins, and walk in newness of life. Jesus, the greatest gift for all times, for all people, for all seasons. 

Oh…and that optical illusion…have you noticed in your Christian walk, sometimes in life there are many things that will vie for our attention, to get our eyes off of Jesus? To redirect our gaze onto seemingly more important things, or on petty things?

Just as that elliptical optical illusion shape is visible in your peripheral vision trying to distract your eyes off what is really important – the narrow path and the footsteps of our Lord; notice it appears at first as something worthwhile to look at, upon finally gazing on it one realizes it has disappeared – it’s nothing. Likewise those things that distract us off our narrow path are just an illusion, they cannot satisfy, nor offer true peace, nor last for eternity. 

May this post encourage and bless you!

-Donna

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Chi-Rho Newsletter – Sheep or Goat Which Are You?

                                          “Sheep or Goat Which Are You?  © by Donna Gonzalez

This acrylic painting is comprised of four mosaics. The symbolism of the three images hidden in this painting is sobering and in light of Matthew 25:31-46 gives one pause into serious self reflection.

Two of the images are superimposed on each other. No I didn’t purposely paint it that way, the images come forth only after they are put into a pattern. This particular pattern is only one of several possible patterns using this one particular mosaic painting. The other patterns from this mosaic aren’t so serious as this one!

The first hidden image is of a sheep’s head. The eyes are circled.  I’m impressed how the nose and ears really do look like a sheep’s nose and ears!

Hmm…We as believers are the sheep of His flock, with Jesus as our faithful Good Shepherd.   Sheep eat by grazing, meaning they prefer munching on grass that is low to the ground. The definition of graze means to feed on or to eat in small quantities of food at frequent but irregular intervals.  

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Hmm…Isn’t that what a true believer does? We spend time reading, studying the bible, fellowshipping with other Christians, spending quality time in the presence of Christ? We feast on the Word of God in small quantities frequently even if it means irregular intervals, like meditating on scriptures throughout the day, or listening to sermons or teaching on podcasts and radio as time allows. Deep calls unto deep, as we dig deeper in studying the bible, soaking up God presence and meditating on His words He reveals and teaches us more about Himself. 

14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.” John 10:14-16 

And the second hidden image is a goat’s head and is seen made up from the first image, as if it is on top of the first, but it’s really not a true “superimposed image”; rather, it is two mosaics mirrored side by side and the result is what you see. Just cover up half of the image and you’ll see one half of this mosaic is a mirror image of the other. 

Goathead

Now, I don’t have anything against sheep or goats, I like them both.  Nor would I take the analogy to it’s extreme. I’m just noticing the correlation between animal behavior and what scripture calls the ungodly, the unbelieving and false converts – goats. It is not a coincidence that God created each animal with particular attributes, I suppose there are even variances within individuals of the same species. I do think, however; God created sheep and goats with different specific behaviors in order to teach us some important truths. 

Goats are not flock minded rather they prefer to do things independently. They don’t graze instead they are browsers, meaning they often choose to select leaves, shrubs, vines, and weeds, often found at the tops of plants which are higher off the ground.

Hmm… In the world there are the ungodly and those who are unbelievers.  Some are not true believers at all but false converts. They pretend and may fool other Christians into thinking they are the real deal but they don’t fool God.  It is these who don’t want to spend any time feeding on the Word of God, spending time in prayer or in His presence. They can’t because they are not truly born again; they live obeying the flesh and its sinful desires. Without the Holy Spirit residing in them they have no desire to obey God’s word. If at chance they do read the bible or hear a sermon they simply browse through it selecting only those few scriptures of their liking mixing in new age word’s philosophies that tickle their ears which further draws them away from the truth. The rest of the bible they simply cannot accept or believe, they’d rather pursue worldliness not godliness. 

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” Matthew 25:31-46 

This mosaic composition also reminds me of another of Jesus’ sayings, a parable of the wheat and tares found in Matthew 13:24-30.

24 Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; 25 but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way. 26 But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared. 27 So the servants of the owner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’ 28 He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servants said to him, ‘Do you want us then to go and gather them up?’ 29 But he said, ‘No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.”’”   Matthew 13:24-30

Again, I don’t have anything against wheat or tares, they are just plants doing what they were created to do. Nor would I take the analogy to it’s extreme. I’m just noticing the correlation between the two plants and what scripture calls those who are not the children of God – tares. It is not a coincidence that God created each plant with its particular attribute. I do think, however; God purposefully created both wheat and tares with specific attributes in order to teach us some important truths. 

Wheat and tares do happen to look very similar much more than say… sheep and goats; and it is during the harvest that one can finally determine between wheat and tare. Tares contain lots of tiny black seeds which when consumed makes one nauseous and sick, yet the fruit of the wheat is good and healthy.

Hmm….Jesus said we would know people by their fruit.  It is said the mature tare stalk stands ridged, unyielding when full with black seeds; whereas the wheat bends downward gracefully when it is full of kernels.

Hmm…We are to be a people whose lives show all the fruits of the Holy Spirit, which include meekness and humility, all of which benefits others and pleases the Father. We are not to be prideful or haughty, nor treat the less fortunate with contempt and disdain by not helping them. Our entire lives, our attitude, our behavior and our words shouldn’t make others sick and nauseous to be around with. Neither should our thoughts or the meditations of our hearts displease our Father in Heaven. 

The third hidden image is this winged creature which resembles something like a bat. It can also symbolize how those who chose to live ungodly lives are under the influence of the evil one. 

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The way we live our lives now and the fruit we produce will be clearly evident to everyone on that Day.  What may have been concealed for a time from many is now evident to everyone, showing what side of Christ we really were on all along.  

In the meantime, we can choose to produce fruit that leads to death or leads to life.  Let us therefore, as pilgrims on a journey, strive to continue in abiding in the Holy Spirit making the most of our time here, urging others also to walk in holiness and obedience to Christ.

May this post encourage you to remain steadfast in your walk with Jesus Christ. 

-Donna