For several weeks I’ve been working on a painting I’ve called Rahab. It portrays the biblical prostitute who protected Israelite spies who had been sent to check out Jericho. In return Rahab was promised protection during the impending battle against Jericho.

In the New Testament it is revealed she became part of Jesus’ ancestral line.

Last night I may have finally finished the painting. I had a quick look at it this morning and was quite happy with the results. There’s only one possible small detail to fix and then I’ll be ready to photograph it.

Of course there are things that could have been done better but I’ll try to do that in a different painting rather than try to make this one perfect.

I thought later that maybe I shouldn’t have given her red hair; but I recalled that Esau, the son of Isaac, had red hair.

I DID change her (originally) green eyes to something more suitable. I have a bit of a thing about unusual eye colours and I’d just seen someone with vibrant green eyes in a commercial on TV. But I suspect the women of Jericho didn’t have access to coloured contact lenses in their day.

For a first serious attempt at something of this type I think I’ve done quite a good job. Hopefully I’ll have a photo for another post after the weekend.

Moving along slowly

Here are some disappointing photos of my most recent paintings. They are nothing spectacular but the photos reduce their impact even further.

The first two of these paintings were projects to recycle previously used canvases. One of them (the red and blue one) is the result of about four re-uses.


The last of these paintings is something I did on a piece of plywood from the packaging of a delivery I received at work. The first paint strokes were done to remove excess paint from brushes I’d been using on other things.
After a while I started to like the look of it and added deliberate brush marks and paint drips. Eventually I masked off part of the board with tape before adding more paint dabs and drips. I removed the tape and this is the end result.

Lone Rangers: where does the danger lie?

John 10: 11 The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. 12 But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. 13 The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep.

Almost ten years ago I saw an article in Charisma magazine about “out of church” Christians. The article was about an interesting phenomenon: the increasing number of Christians who were deserting established churches hoping to find a more biblically appropriate way of living out their faith.

The article interested me because I had recently come out of a period I describe as a “spiritual crisis”, a period of more than fifteen years away from any church involvement, and I was keen to find a suitable local church. But I wasn’t having much success. Despite meeting with various pastors and attending meetings and home groups something always held me back.

Something wasn’t quite right. The “out of church Christian” experience seemed to be the reality I was facing, but not out of choice. It was difficult until I came across a new Christian forum that seemed to be populated by people from around the world who were in a similar situation. I found that the forum owner was one of the prominent sources of information for the Charisma article.

That forum opened my eyes to a lot of things. It made me realise how sheltered I had been in the past where most of my Christian experience had been in a single denomination. I became aware of many weird and not so wonderful beliefs and practices all claiming to be “Christian”. I was severely shaken and my own beliefs were challenged. The experience taught me about the need to make sure my faith had a strong and secure foundation – to test everything the way the Bereans had done, by searching the scriptures.

Since then I’ve had a lot of contact with other believers through blogs and forums and have seen many different theological traditions promoted. This has helped make me even more aware of the need for a BIBLICAL foundation for belief – and not one based on denominational tradition that relies on careless use of proof texts for support.

Recently the owner of that (now closed) forum has been speaking out against “lone ranger” Christians – those not submitting to “anointed” leadership and not committed to a recognised church group. Yet this man himself does not seem to follow his own requirements.

To whom does he see himself being accountable? Where does his commitment lean?

He sees himself as having an “anointing” and a “calling” and is disappointed when that isn’t recognised by others. He has now announced he is changing direction of his ministry. He is abandoning a generation of Christians he considers to be corrupted by worldly culture, expecting a new generation to be raised in their place that will follow his lead.

But this change of direction is not his first. In the years I’ve known him this man has chased after several “ministry” ideas – moving across the world and back in the pursuit of one idea after another, dropping one obsession for the next. He speaks out against “lone ranger” Christians – but what about lone ranger Christians with a following, who change direction and shake off their followers whenever things get hard?


This is one of my latest paintings. I haven’t included it in my gallery yet (see the “art by onesimus” tab) because I don’t like the photo. It was taken last night using a flash. I prefer natural light to reduce reflected glare as much as possible.

I find that my favourite paintings are those that have taken the least planning. I’m rarely happy with the result when I try to work things out in too much detail prior to painting.

With this one I had a very attractive red-orange canvas that I’d put aside, not knowing how to best utilise the beautiful background I’d created over several days. The colour literally glowed.

This photo shows what I did with it. I smothered that glorious colour, then I scraped back sections and added a few more smears of paint on top.

After standing back I saw a very rough looking face on the canvas, so I tweeked a bit here, scraped more there and was quite happy with the result. For some reason the name “Prophet” came to mind – John the Baptist in particular, so I added a little bible text on three sides to more clearly identify it with John.

My wife said it’s a scary looking painting. I think that’s probably an appropriate response.  John the Baptist would have been a challenging man to come across –  probably quite scary to meet with.

Reviewing the Past

Many times I’ve heard people say how they wouldn’t change anything from their past, that everything was a valuable learning experience leading them to who they are today.

There are many things I would change if I had the opportunity.

I see desire for change is one of the central features of the gospel message. It is at the heart of repentance, recognising that our lives have been lived in a way that is incompatible with a relationship with God, that things in our lives have separated us from Him.

Our lives have been lived giving no thought for Him. Lives lived and decisions made out of self-centredness rather than God-centeredness. We think we know better and despise the idea that anyone else (including God, our creator) has any right to require anything of us. Wanting to rule our own lives, we have done our own thing, gone our own way.

Repentance allows us the opportunity to change our past in God’s eyes. True repentance leads to a new beginning where the slate is wiped clean, where past wrongs are forgiven and forgotten by God.

But unlike God we don’t have the power to choose to forget. Things we regret remain in our own memory. If only we could go back and change it so there would be nothing requiring repentance…

But some have no desire for change. They are satisfied with their past and have no intention of submitting themselves to anyone, even God. They retain the attitude of  “What right does anyone have to tell me how to live my own life?”.

But one day ALL of us will find out about God’s right to rule what He created. How many will find out while the opportunity remains to do something about it?

How many will find out too late?

Jesus’ Shed Blood (Disappointing Photography)

I have difficulty photographing some of my paintings.

Here is one of the worst cases. I’ve tried several times under different lighting conditions but the photo never captures what can be seen with the eye.

It’s another painting where I painted over an earlier idea that wasn’t working. I started the original on Passover and was trying to incorporate elements of the original passover into the painting.

Part of the earlier painting has been retained with the faint image of a goblet, something I was using to tie that original passover to the last supper and to “communion” (the Lord’s supper).

With a little imagination I can still see the doorway on which lamb’s blood was applied to keep a home’s occupants safe from the last plague of Egypt.

The doorway frames the goblet.

The untitled “Y”

This is one of my latest paintings. As yet I can’t think of an appropriate title. It went through some very big changes before this completed version. The earliest painting on this board (still under the paint somewhere) is illustrated below.

Like most of my paintings the inspiration comes from a combination of Psalm 22, Isaiah 53 and the gospel accounts of the crucifixion.

This finished work contains two of the motifs I use quite a lot. (Does the use of the word “motif” make me sound as if I know what I’m doing?).

The “Y” is my variation on the cross of the crucifixion. I use it for several reasons.

1) It is an abbreviated echo of the question in Jesus’ cry of “My God My God WHY have you forsaken me.

2) It highlights the shape of a crucified Jesus instead of the wood on which He was nailed, putting the emphasis on HIM rather than upon a religious symbol that has been turned into a kind of talisman verging on idolatry.

3) The “Y” is the first letter in the anglicised version of Jesus’ Hebrew name (Yeshua)

4) It relates to a local landmark in my home town

Another symbol I’ve started to use is the image of a clock showing 3 o’clock. Im use it in a few of my most recent paintings and represents the time around Jesus’ cry of anguish and his sudden death. In this painting the time is barely discernible (less so in the photo) on the oval to the viewer’s left of the “Y”.

 Throughout the painting I have also etched gospel statements into the surface. Again the photo doesn’t show these up very well, but zooming in on the fork above the “Y” shows a hint of words scratched into the paint surface.

And here is the first thing painted on the canvas. Unfortunately I don’t have a photo of the version between this one and the finished painting. The one shown to the left is one of my first attempts at painting scripture which was my original intention, inspired by my friend Chris who is very successful at painting nothing but bible words. But I wasn’t happy with most of my own efforts (like the one here) and I now try to take a different approach using a growing language of symbols to (hopefully) complement biblical text and references incorporated more subtly into the paintings.