Experiential Grace: A Personal Holiday and 2014 Theme

Every Monday I, the Future Grand World Benevolent Tyrant, post a special beginning of the week message to my Many Merry Minions via my personal Facebook profile. This is what I posted yesterday.

This is my follow up blog post :).

"Grace Stream #1 2014" Click here to learn more about this piece.

“Grace Stream #1 2014″ Click here to learn more about this piece.

The phrase that comes to me as a consistent theme in looking back on the holidays, that will carry into 2014, is “experiential grace.”

Over the past two years, I experienced profound disappointments across a wide spectrum. Early on in the 2013 holiday season, the Lord, again, took me into the healthy place of laying down my expectations of others, and myself. He pointed out that I tend to over-idealize people and situations; that I can often live in the “should be” instead of “what is.” He pointed out, yet again, that idealizing others and “what should be” can be as much a legalistic enemy of grace as anything a hard-nosed bible thumping behaviorist could muster. The Lord keeps telling me to be present to Him regardless of swirling issues demanding to skew context, or screw up healthy priorities and relationships.

When I laid down what I think “should be” or expecting the idealized version of whatever could be happening, and then accept the what is … whatever it is … with the love and joy of Christ; experiential grace manifests. This is also aimed at true acceptance of what is, and the true love and joy of Christ, not clichéd ideas. The fruits of the Spirit are His gifts to be able to accept reality, embrace grace, and extend true love and joy.

I was so relaxed and free-er, healthier, as we have entered the New Year.

Yesterday brought news of another huge disappointment. I lost a supporter of 14 years, via an email form letter. The financial hit is significant, and with no forewarning… ugh. But I was hurt more by the form letter via email, and some of the back story over the past year, than anything else. I shared my hurt with a private group of friends (not betraying the identity of the former supporter) and of course they prayed for and encouraged me. Yesterday afternoon the thought of “experiential grace” came back to mind. The Lord again ministered to me that in this situation I can choose to be mired down with unmet expectations, be disappointed by living in the “should be” instead of reality, or I can embrace Him in what actually “is.” I felt encouraged and peaceful after that meditation and will seek to honor and bless them as we (the supporter and I) go our separate ways. I refuse to be robbed of the joy of the past relationship and will choose to focus on remembering them for all they have done/are doing and not just the parting of ways.

“Experiential Grace,” empowered by His love and joy, manifesting in the fruit of the Spirit… sounds like a good theme for 2014 to me. :)

"Grace Stream #1 2014" Click here to learn more about this piece.
“Grace Stream 2014 #1″ – (New Art, Acrylics)

I finished this painting January 2, 2014 :). The first one of this year.  It is called “Grace Stream 2014 #1″ because I have a feeling there will be a series of “Grace Stream” paintings.

I think the “stream” part is obvious in the movement of the painting. The colors all represent some aspect of the outworking of grace: the Atonement (reds), cleansing of sin (whites), and growth (greens.). The yellow is of course symbolic of the Holy Spirit and God’s glory. The black usually always represents earthly concerns and if you notice, in this painting Grace abounds much more :).

“The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more,” Romans 5:20 (NASB)

God’s Grace is never-ending, always flowing, and forever “Life-giving.” Dive in.

This and all artwork featured on www.RandyThomas.co and on my official social networks are © Copyright Randy Thomas – www.randythomas.co. They shall not be used for any reason without prior written permission. If interested in buying this piece, please contact me directly.
(This is on 8×10 inch canvas. All acrylic paints. This is a scan of the actual painting.)

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“Stuff I Dream Of In Church” The Beatitudes – (Artwork)

I actually finished drawing this on 12/5/2010! It is 5×8″ pen and ink on Moleskin artists journal paper.

On the back I wrote, “Stuff I Dream In Church – The Beatitudes.” I did that because I only worked on this at church. Pastor Clark was teaching through the Beatitudes when I finished it. Yes, I was drawing in church. Not that I needed it, but I had the Pastor’s permission :) Here are the Beatitudes if you are interested.

Matthew 5:1-12 – “The Sermon on the Mount; The Beatitudes”

5:1 When Jesus saw the crowds, He went up on the mountain; and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him. 2 He opened His mouth and began to teach them, saying,

3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

5 “Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.

6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

10 “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

This and all artwork featured on www.RandyThomas.co and on my official social networks are © Copyright Randy Thomas – www.randythomas.co. They shall not be used for any reason without prior written permission. If interested in buying this piece, please contact me directly.

Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.

Isaiah 41:10 (NASB)
tumult online
“Tumult” – (New Art)

Can you guess exactly what kind of mood I was in while drawing this? Tumult, much? ::: grin ::: I honestly do not like to bring in negativity into my artwork. However, I felt like I wanted to try to use creative expression to let out those “dark” feelings from time to time. This little 5×8″ piece of paper (Moleskin artist journal), and various inks, represents my latest attempt. And while it is small, it took over a year to complete. I only went to it when the “tumult” was beyond my ability to speak to others about what I was feeling.

However, please don’t look at the drawing as poison from my aching soul ::: laugh :::. It isn’t. This drawing represents seeking Him in the midst of noise and confusion; that He is not only in the midst of it, He is familiar with it. The only guidance I will give for viewing the drawing is that the door in the center points to the beyond. Also the circles represent infinity. I will leave it at that because I love it when people share with me what they see. Which could be totally different, and I am cool with that :).

This and all artwork featured on www.RandyThomas.co and on my official social networks are © Copyright Randy Thomas – www.randythomas.co. They shall not be used for any reason without prior written permission. If interested in buying this piece, please contact me directly.

Health & Fitness Update: Well, That Was Fun … Obviously

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Well, I haven’t written a Health & Fitness update since 2 weeks ago. Let me amend that; I haven’t updated you all since two Holiday-Yummy-Food-Filled weeks ago.

I gained 6.4 pounds over the past two weeks ( so easy to put those suckers back on!). My current weight is 241 and I am still down 21.6 pounds from my original weight of 262.6 on August 24,2013.

The interesting part is that I gained 5.6 pounds of that the first week and .8 pounds this past week. I know exactly why it happened that way too.

The Case of The Soda Drinking Troll (A Dream)

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Last night I had another trippy dream. In the dream I was in the company of a small group. There was a man whose online actions (in real life) could be fairly esteemed as those of an Internet Troll of the religious activist type. There were two other young men, a small extremely poor little boy, and me. All of them were incredibly thirsty except for the Troll drinking a huge Big Gulp soda.

Everyone except for me, seemed to worship the Troll. In the dream and in real life I am a confused outsider witnessing the Troll’s shenanigans.

Back to the dream, the apartment we were in was full of old console televisions. They were of varying sizes and scattered about. There was trash everywhere, and the apartment was very dirty. Every time one of the guys would turn on one of the TV’s, all the TV’s would come on. And the Troll (the leader of this little group) would appear on all the old-timey screens in their varying projections (e.g. snowy, flickering, jumping.) On the screens it was the same scene of him in a suit giving a speech. He, The Troll, watched himself with admiration; the poor guys and kid watched with awe.

I couldn’t get over how weird this all was. I was mad at the Troll’s pride; his drinking a soda while his friends were dehydrated and malnourished.

Party Barge & Car Surfing In Daytona Beach (1986)

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It was 1986. Somehow I ended up with a group of guys at school sanding down an old short school bus two of them (brothers) had gotten as a Spring Break present from their Dad. We gutted the thing, painted it black, and I painted, “Party Barge” on the sides. I also painted “Party Barge” on the little flip out stop sign. It was no longer the iconic red and white flashing stop sign; it was now the solid black with gold Def Leppard-esque lettering “Party Barge” on it. We thought that was SO cool.

Surprisingly, my parents said I could go. However, like all the times before when I really wanted to do something, the night before they said I couldn’t go. They got made because the boy’s father wanted them to sign a liability waiver for me to be in the Party Barge during spring break.

I don’t remember having a fit, but I do remember being incredibly angry. I made it clear that I was going. My parents relented at the last-minute (there is a lot to be written about that at a later date) and the next day the “Party Barge” crew headed to Pensacola.

Pensacola was boring. We thought MTV was there. They weren’t. However, we quickly traveled a million more miles to Daytona Beach where the MTV SpringFest was actually happening.

It was wild.

I will never forget pulling up on the beach where there were practically naked young adults and crazy old people … EVERYWHERE! I was mesmerized.

My parents weren’t. I called them … eventually … to tell them we left Pensacola and were now in Daytona. To describe them as “not happy” is an understatement.

The Meaning Behind The New Blog Design

Randy-2014.pngSo… I am about to get a little artsy, and explain the “meaning” behind my new blog design :). Hang on …

In year’s past ( a few years ago) I used to make a New Year’s resolution that I would *not* change my theme for the entire year. That would last … maybe … a month. See, I LIKE messing around with blog themes. I have learned a valuable set of skills as a result.

But something has changed in that I no longer want to continuously screw around with what you see (as for structure and color set) here on the blog. The wish to settle down, blog theme-wise, started with getting an advance copy of Michael Hyatt’s new theme “Get Noticed!”

I *love* this theme. I really love this theme. It’s the best WordPress theme for artists, communicators, bloggers … ever. Seriously, I can’t stress how much I love this theme.

And aside from one little one day blip, this is the only theme I have used since I bought it back on July 14, 2013. YES I remember the date. It is that good :).