Illustration of the Month: March, 2019

This month’s illustration is based on Genesis 3: 17-19:

17“Cursed is the ground because of you;

    through painful toil you will eat food from it

    all the days of your life.

18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you,

    and you will eat the plants of the field.

19 By the sweat of your brow

    you will eat your food

until you return to the ground,

    since from it you were taken;

for dust you are

    and to dust you will return.”

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Illustration of the Month: February 2019

1 Corinthians 13

1 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

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Illustration of the Month: January 2019

“Mount Sinai”

This month’s illustration is based on Exodus 19:

1 On the first day of the third month after the Israelites left Egypt—on that very day—they came to the Desert of Sinai. 2 After they set out from Rephidim, they entered the Desert of Sinai, and Israel camped there in the desert in front of the mountain.

3 Then Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain and said, “This is what you are to say to the descendants of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel: 4 ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. 5 Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, 6 you a will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.”

7 So Moses went back and summoned the elders of the people and set before them all the words the Lord had commanded him to speak. 8 The people all responded together, “We will do everything the Lord has said.” So Moses brought their answer back to the Lord.

9 The Lord said to Moses, “I am going to come to you in a dense cloud, so that the people will hear me speaking with you and will always put their trust in you.” Then Moses told the Lord what the people had said.

10 And the Lord said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow. Have them wash their clothes 11 and be ready by the third day, because on that day the Lord will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people. 12 Put limits for the people around the mountain and tell them, ‘Be careful that you do not approach the mountain or touch the foot of it. Whoever touches the mountain is to be put to death. 13 They are to be stoned or shot with arrows; not a hand is to be laid on them. No person or animal shall be permitted to live.’ Only when the ram’s horn sounds a long blast may they approach the mountain.”

14 After Moses had gone down the mountain to the people, he consecrated them, and they washed their clothes. 15 Then he said to the people, “Prepare yourselves for the third day. Abstain from sexual relations.”

16 On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp trembled. 17 Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. 18 Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the Lord descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, and the whole mountain b trembled violently. 19 As the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke and the voice of God answered him.

20 The Lord descended to the top of Mount Sinai and called Moses to the top of the mountain. So Moses went up 21 and the Lord said to him, “Go down and warn the people so they do not force their way through to see the Lord and many of them perish. 22 Even the priests, who approach the Lord, must consecrate themselves, or the Lord will break out against them.”

23 Moses said to the Lord, “The people cannot come up Mount Sinai, because you yourself warned us, ‘Put limits around the mountain and set it apart as holy.’ ”

24 The Lord replied, “Go down and bring Aaron up with you. But the priests and the people must not force their way through to come up to the Lord, or he will break out against them.”

25 So Moses went down to the people and told them.

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Illustration of the Month: December 2018

“Prince of Peace”

Mary and Joseph look on as the wise men kneel before the Christ child and we are reminded that our Savior comes to us in our humanity, in our brokenness, and not by our own merit.

He comes to us first, while we are still sinners, unworthy, and in need.

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Proceeds from the sale of this image benefit the Lutheran Social Services of Southern California.

Illustration of the Month: November 2018

“Thanksgiving Cross”

People are sometimes very surprised to find out that my church has a service on Thanksgiving. I love it though; I grew up with it being a normal thing and for whatever reason I find it to be a very comforting service. There’s something grounding about celebrating a Christ-centered Thanksgiving. Its about something more than gorging ourselves with food, about more than time with family, and even about more than expressing gratitude for the many blessings we have enjoyed that year.

When we focus our celebration on Christ, Thanksgiving suddenly becomes something much more than any of that- it becomes a celebration of the feast of bread and wine, body and blood. It becomes a look forward to the Marriage Feast that is to come.

Let us give thanks to our Lord and Savior first and foremost.

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Illustration of the Month: October 2018

“Tree of Life”

The Illustration of the Month is a little different this time around. You see, I have a visual of the cross that I can’t get out of my head. I have always imagined that, for our Lord’s followers, the time between Good Friday and Easter Sunday had to have been a terrible stretch of time. In hiding, afraid for their lives, bleak and hopeless, those must have been the longest three days in history. I imagine as the women walked to the tomb on Sunday morning with the spices they had prepared, they too felt scared and alone, with no hope.

We know the story: they go to the tomb and find it empty, an angel tells them that Christ is not there, that He is risen, and they go out to tell the disciples what they found.

What if they had to pass Golgotha on their way to the tomb, though? Try as they might to avoid the place where their world came crashing down just days before, what if they were forced to walk right by it? Maybe they would quietly, sullenly pass by, staring at the ground or the sky, looking anywhere but at the cross, doing anything to distract themselves, to keep from reliving the horrific events of that awful day. As they pass by, though, maybe something catches their eye. Something is moving in the wind, and they look up to find that there are leaves sprouting from the dead wood of the cross. Everywhere where the blood of Christ was spilled, new life springs forth: vines, branches, blossoms, and even fruit!

They are still confused, distraught. They won’t remember the words of their Lord until after the angel has spoken to them at the tomb, but this is the first clue that things are not how they expected to find them today. When they look back on the events of this miraculous Sunday morning, they will remember that where they expected to find a tree of death and punishment, they found a Tree of Life.

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Illustration of the Month: September 2018

“Double Edged Sword”

 This month’s illustration is based on Hebrews 4: 12-16.

12 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. 14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

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Illustration of the Month: August 2018

“Alpha and Omega”

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.  John 1:1-5

When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.  John 19:30

He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life.”  Revelation 21:6

I never knew why, but the description of God as the Alpha and Omega, the first and last, always seemed a little odd to me. It just didn’t seem to fit, for some reason. It seemed passive and immaterial. It didn’t seem to go along with the way I knew God has always worked. Our God is a God of action. He creates, destroys, judges, forgives. The world was plunged into sin and God took action, sending us a Savior. He does work through physical means. We are saved by the waters of baptism. We are forgiven through the physical means of communion. So, it just didn’t make sense to me that God’s eternity should be defined by these symbols so often. I thought that there had to be more to it than that, another layer or meaning that I was missing.

When I started this illustration, I started thinking of it as more of a telling of who Christ is, and what He does. Christ is the beginning of all things: present and active at the creation of the world, bringer of new life and salvation, healer of the weak and wounded.  Christ is the end of all things: who died for us and rose again, the end of sin and death, in Him we are reconciled and made whole. This is Christ as Creator and Author, as the final sacrifice, and the completion of our faith. He is where we begin, where we end, and where we rest in the promise of eternal life.

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Illustration of the Month: July 2018

You want art? I’ll give you art. Literally.
“Gifts of Christ”

I’ve always been pretty sensitive to violence. There are plenty of films and TV shows that I simply cannot get through without covering my eyes, and sometimes my ears. In fact, just the other night I was watching a show, opened my eyes a little too soon during a particularly graphic scene, and almost wretched. I’m an artist, I’m very visual, and sometimes I think I can’t watch something like that without experiencing it in my mind. I see it happen (or read it), and I automatically go to that place with the character. I know it’s not real, but I react to it as if it is. I wish I was better at handling it but I find violence, even if very fake, upsetting.

Yet I find myself fascinated by the violence of our faith.

Perhaps it’s because we tend to focus on the flowery, pretty parts of our faith. We dress it up as something tame, palatable. It becomes an accessory in our life, a decoration. We forget that our God is a vengeful God, one who demands justice. We forget the extreme judgements exacted in the Old Testament, that the Angel of the Lord killed the firstborn sons of those who oppressed His people. Even those who were spared were saved only because they themselves committed a violent act by killing a lamb and smearing its blood on their doors. Maybe It’s because we are told these stories over and over again, read them in church with chanting monotone voices, but sometimes I think we lose sight of how visceral, how gory, our faith really is.

It’s not always pretty, not always comfortable.

I often think about this when I’m working. As I’m drawing a cross or illustrating a lesson, I visualize the scripture that I’m working from, and sometimes the visual isn’t flowery at all. Sometimes its bloody.

Sometimes it’s scary.

When I began working on this cross, the illustrations I had recently done were very decorative. I thought about the reality of the cross, the reality of Christ’s death, and was struck by the violence of our salvation.

Christ is not a decoration we put up on the walls of our hearts, He comes into them as resident and King, and He does so through violent means.

Easter usually brings up visions of flowers and pastel colors, Christ arisen and in His Glory. But even the resurrection of our Lord was shocking. It was a bodily resurrection, visceral and real. His wounds were still intact. God did not smooth over the ugly parts of our faith even on Easter Sunday.

The consequences of our sin were still on display for everyone to see, even once they were payed for in full.

Now, I realize this illustration is still “pretty”. I can’t quite bring myself

to include graphic gore in my illustrations. That’s really not what people want to see on their bulletin covers or hanging on their walls anyway. But it is a little more stripped down than many of my other pieces. It goes straight to the center of our faith, acknowledges the violence of the cross, and gives thanks for the body and blood given for our salvation.

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Illustration of the Month: June 2018

You want art? I’ll give you art. Literally.


The triumphant cross has long been one of my favorite representations of the cross.

There is something so elegant about what is says about our savior. The cross sits atop an orb which represents the Earth, that’s all it is. It is so simple but it says so much. It represents Christ as savior. Christ as King over all. Christ victorious. Christ arisen. It tells of a God, a Creator, whose creation has rebelled over and over again, bringing death upon themselves and the world they were given. It speaks of a Creator who purchases and creates new life for a sinful planet.

This cross is law and gospel.

It tells of a tree which spelled temptation and fall into sin. It shows a tree upon which life was given for life in return. It promises a tree for the healing of the nations.

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