Watercolor Out the Wazoo!

Perchon-watercolor detail-scott freeman

In previous posts I’ve talked a bit about a crazy watercolor technique that I like to use. I was once unenthusiastic about watercolor because I generally found it to be wussy and boring. Then, when I worked at Hallmark I found some guys using watercolor in a way I had never seen it used before. Eventually I took a work shop from these guys, (Craig Lueck and Johne Richardson,) and fell in love with the medium of watercolor. I remember the first night after the workshop; I dreamt of blushes of watercolor flowing into each other.

So, over the years watercolor has become a secondary medium for me, right behind my favorite medium of oil paint. However, since the beginning of this year, I have worked almost exclusively in watercolor due to the list of projects and commissions I’ve taken on. Furthermore, I’m scheduled to teach this crazy technique this coming January (2015) in a Saturday workshop at Schissler Art Acadaemy, in downtown Loveland. So I’ve definitely got watercolor on the brain right now. (Which, I admit may have been a better title than Watercolor Out the Wazoo.)

In the course of pulling together some samples for Schissler Art Academy, I ended up going through a lot of past work, and I think it’s fun to look at as well as being fun to paint, so I thought I’d show some to you. A lot of it is available in greeting card format on our ZAZZLE SITE, and also as fine art prints by contacting me directly. I even still have a few select originals around as well, for those of you who have money to burn. (The originals are several times more expensive than prints.)

For those of you who are art nerds, I’ll say that I pretty much only use oils for my fine art. However, I use watercolor for a whole range of artistic expression, including fine art, but also for my commercial illustration, which includes my children’s storybook illustration. In fact, watercolor is almost exclusively what I use for commercial illustration, because I feel this technique presents a unique and striking look. Following is a survey of some of my favorite pieces from over the years.

 Masters copies:

The Visitation-watecolor by Scott Freeman

“The Visitation” based on a 16c painting by Mariotto Albertinelli. 6 x 8 inches. I would be willing to have prints made of this one if someone asks, because it’s one of my favs. The original is in a private collection.

Sometimes I like to take an old Master’s composition and translate it into watercolor. For me this is an act of appreciation, kind of like a musician covering a classic song. Someday maybe I’ll post the originals alongside the reinterpretations.

See a previous post on The Visitation. (left)

The Music Lesson-Scott Freeman

“The Music Lesson”
based on an 1877 painting by Frederic Leighton. 6×5.25 inches. I have prints available of this one. It’s also available as a note card on my Zazzle site.

Native American-watercolor-Freeman

“Native American Portrait”
5×7 inches. Based on a 1910 black & white photograph by Carl Moon.
  1 of a set of 3. Framed original available for $700.

Watercolor studies- Scott Freeman

Left: Study after Johannes Vermeer’s (1665) “Girl with a Pearl Earring.”
6×9 inches. I have prints available of this one.
Right: Study after Frederic Leighton’s (1864) “The Painter’s Honeymoon.”
5×5 inches. Private collection.

Plein Air Pieces:
I almost always paint in oils when I do plein air events, but occasionally I’ll do a watercolor painting. Here are a couple that I was able to photograph.

Perchon-Scott Freeman

“Horse of a Different Color”
4×6 inches. Painted at a riding stable in Estes Park, Colorado. A composite of 3 white Perchons who took turns posing for me. Original sold. No prints.

Santo-Sedona AZ-watercolor

“Santo”
Painted from a statue on the grounds of a Catholic church in Sedona, Arizona.
Framed original available for $400.

Artist demos:
When I teach a watercolor workshop, I generally do a demo throughout the day. Below are two that I liked enough to document.

watercolor demo-Scott Freeman

“Light and Fashion”
8×10 inches. Demo for a watercolor class.
Unframed original available for $200.

American buffalo-watercolor

“American Bison”
5×4 inches. Demo started in class and finished at home.
Original sold. Available as a note card on our Zazzle sit

Children’s Book Illustration
I’ve been doing a lot of book illustration lately, especially with the recent launch of my online kids’ book company. Below are some of my favorites so far.

Mount Fuji-kids stotybooks-Freeman

“…and she flew away to Mt. Fuji in a breeze.”
Full spread from the upcoming book, The Adventures of Nathaniel and His Father’s Globe, by Beth El Kurchner.
8.5×17 inches. Original spoken for.

kids story books-The Cocky Rooster

Select illustrations from my newly released kids’ storybook, The Cocky Rooster.

I just found out I need to get new tires for my car in addition to several unexpected expenses. So I guess that means it’s time for a SALE.

+ I’ll sell any of the prints mentioned above, unmatted and unframed for $25 (includes shipping & handling.)
+ When I have matted prints on hand, I’ll sell them to you for $40 (regularly $60 – $80.)
+ Framed pieces are already discounted, as listed above.

My fine art giclee prints are reproduced using archival watercolor paper and inks.
I’m not set up to sell prints and art online, so please email me if you’re interested: scottnmollie@yahoo.com
I may not have to charge for shipping depending upon what you want and where you live.

For easy online purchases:
+ You can browse our Zazzle Store HERE
+ You can purchase my newly released storybook, The Cocky Rooster, HERE!

I’ll keep this sale going until my next post – (probably in a couple of weeks.) THANK YOU for your support!

Why It’s Impossible for Followers of Jesus to Hate Gays

T-shirt design by Scott Freeman

Because gays are people.

Several years ago I stopped referring to myself as a “Christian” because I felt the term was too broad. It simply doesn’t communicate very well. So I started referring to myself as a “follower of Jesus” because it’s descriptive and actually communicates something that anyone can understand: a follower of Jesus tries to follow what Jesus said and did. Simple.

On the other hand, “Christian” is such a broad label that it can encompass pretty much anyone who wants to claim it, which can be confusing. It includes me, but it must also include:

  • Cults of unorthodoxy such as Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons, whose extra-biblical authoritative writings depict Jesus as a created being, among other things. Yet, I think we have say if the central figure in a person’s religion is a version of Christ, then their religion is a Christian religion.
  • Members of liberal Christian denominations, who don’t believe in the virgin birth or the miracles of Jesus, and who discount many statements of Jesus in the Bible. Same as above.
  • Members of the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, whose message is that God hates the world; especially gays, apparently. Same as above.

All of these people can be said to be Christians in some sense, but none of them can be said to be followers of the Jesus of the Bible.

It’s impossible for followers of Jesus to hate gays, because if they hate gays, then they’re not following Jesus. Boom. Jesus simply doesn’t give His followers the option of hating people.

Jesus inseparably linked loving both God and people with following Him. He stated that the first and greatest commandment is to love God, and then to love people (Mt 22:35-40; Mk 12:28-31.) He said those who keep His commandments are the ones who love Him (Jn 14:21.) The Apostle John says that he who does not love does not know God, for God is love (I Jn 4:8.) He also equates loving others with following the commands of Jesus (2 Jn 1:5,6; 1 Jn 5:2,3.) In a definitive statement, Jesus claimed that all people would know who His followers are by their love for one another (Jn 13:34.)

Furthermore, Jesus is like no other moral teacher in that He didn’t merely talk about love in His teachings. He demonstrated love in an ultimate way, and in doing so He literally created a new option for humanity: He made it possible for us to freely love each other by creating the possibility of internal change through spiritual rebirth (Jn 3:1-7; 1 Pet 1:23.) By spiritual rebirth we receive a new identity as children of God, receiving His very Spirit into our hearts (Gal 4:4-7; Ro 8:9, 14-17.) By His redemptive death and resurrection, Jesus made possible for us a restored, unified, and loving relationship with our Creator, whose image we bear. Thus we are motivated to obey His commands, not out of fear, or guilt, or to earn points. Instead we obey from the best possible motive: that of wanting to please someone we love. “We love because He first loved us” (1 Jn 4:19.) It’s a brilliant plan.

So, no. Followers of Jesus can’t hate gays, even if the natural, redneck part of them wants to.

But then, what about all of those stories in the news about Christian business owners discriminating against gays out of anti-gay hatred and bigotry? Aren’t the Christian butcher, baker, and candlestick maker discriminating against gays simply because they’re gay?

Actually, no – they are not discriminating against gays simply because they’re gay. The proof is that these businesses had been knowingly serving gay customers for years. Here’s the issue: These businesses all drew the line when they were asked to essentially become participants in a ceremony that would violate their religious beliefs.

The same Bible that defines all people, including gay people, as bearing the image of God also defines marriage as a heterosexual institution designed by God having something to do with sexual complementarity (and therefore, the probability, at least, of procreation and child-rearing.) These businesses often explained to their gay customers that they would be happy to provide other services for them, just not wedding services. In other words, they were not willing to become a party to the redefining of something they consider sacred; something that had already been defined by their God.

So these cases are about religious liberty, as guaranteed in the first amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America, and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993. They have nothing to do with “anti-gay hatred,” or even personal dislike of gays.

Underneath it all, for these business owners it’s a question of authority.

A True Story About Lying
I once joined a respectful, online group discussion about gays and the church. An older gay participant frequently claimed that an average of one gay person per week is assaulted, raped, or murdered by evangelical Christians. He repeated this in the discussion several times. This was news to me.

I finally called him on it, told him it was ridiculous, and asked him to provide some proof. I told him it was like saying most vegetarians eat raw squirrel once a week. Or that two thirds of Mormon housewives home brew their own beer. His claim was self-refuting. He immediately provided a link to the US government annual FBI hate crimes statistics.

The FBI. That certainly sounded credible. Maybe I was wrong. Maybe the church of Jesus Christ was actually a hate organization after all, and it had somehow escaped my notice.

I thought of the evangelical families I knew. I pictured the dad coming home after work, exhausted. I pictured the mom, also exhausted after simultaneously homeschooling 7 kids all day, and then preparing a nutritious meal for 9. They all gather around the table, say grace, and then talk about the day over dinner. Afterwards, the kids clear the table and load the dishwasher. Then the dad announces, “Okay kids! Everyone into the mini-van! It’s time to find some gays to beat-up, rape, or murder! Hurry up – we still have to do baths tonight before bedtime!…”

I don’t think so.

I checked out his FBI link. Um…first of all, the FBI does not track the religious identity of perpetrators of hate crimes, only the racial identity. My gay acquaintance was simply assuming the offenders must be evangelicals. Second, in 2006, (the latest year that completed stats were available when I had this discussion,) there were 0 rapes and 0 murders of gays recorded in the FBI stats. That’s rare – the next year there were 0 rapes and 5 murders reported. That’s still too many, but it certainly isn’t a weekly occurrence, and if it was, I guarantee we’d be hearing about it. As always, there were hundreds of assaults reported across the board, including verbal assaults. Of all hate crimes reported each year, nearly 50% are still racially motivated, with the remaining crimes divided up between the categories of sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity, and disability. It turns out you are still far more likely to be a hate-crime victim in America if you are black than if you are gay. Here is THE LINK to the latest FBI hate crime statistics, for those interested.

Was That Guy an Exception?
Perhaps you’re wondering what my point is in telling this story. Obviously the guy falsely accusing Christians was an unscrupulous butthead. So what am I doing? Painting all “marriage equality” supporters as liars because of one exceptionally dishonest guy’s propagation of a vicious lie?

But was he exceptional?

I don’t see how. It has now become routine for the media to characterize any opposition to redefining marriage as motivated by hatred. Disagree with the politically “liberal” position on this topic and you are “spewing anti-gay hatred and bigotry.” If you believe that marriage is a uniquely heterosexual institution, you are a hater, period. My question is: Really? And what do people who hate people do? Well, we can look at groups around the world who actually do hate people, and see what they do. They assault, rape, purge, and kill the people they hate. Think ISIS, Boko Haram, Al Qaeda, and Hamas.

I suspect that most of the Left knows better than to believe that Christians hate gays. I think repeating these accusations of hate is a political tactic intended to manipulate and shame Christians into shutting up and leaving the field. Fortunately, the if-you-repeat-a-lie-often-enough-people-will-believe-it tactic has its limits. In this case the Left is lying about too large a percentage of the population. It’s like trying to convince the nation that all brown-eyed people smell bad. Except that a lot of us are brown-eyed, and we all know lots of brown-eyed people who smell nice.

I get why my liberal friends support “marriage equality.” I think you honestly believe you are standing for civil rights and equality. I totally understand how it seems bizarre, backward, and hateful to you that anyone would think otherwise. But the fact remains that there are some very stubborn problems around the issue, and the interests of adult gays do not trump the interests of everyone else. We’re going to have to all settle for the freedom to respectfully disagree. Liberal bigotry and intolerance is no more virtuous than conservative bigotry and intolerance.

For further non-hateful reading, here’s a great non-religious case for marriage as a heterosexual institution.

Art from The Swimsuit Lesson-Scott FreemanOn a lighter note, check out my newly released storybook, The Cocky Rooster, available only through MY WEBSITE.

Dad Notes: The Safety Police

Cowboys & Indians

The author as a politically incorrect child, apparently unable to choose a side.

I read an interesting article at the gym last weekend that resonated with me. Both the artist and the dad part of me liked it, mostly. My wife can tell you that for years I have railed against “the Safety Police.”

I don’t know exactly who the Safety Police are, but apparently they hold positions of influence, because pretty much every playground in America is now coated in rubber, and padded underneath.

The article was about fostering creativity, courage, self-confidence, and problem-solving skills in kids. Hanna Rosin, the author, contends that the current trend of parents scheduling every minute of their child’s lives with closely supervised activities is robbing them of the chance to explore and take risks in life. (See full article here.)

Her article is centered around a visit with her son to something called an “adventure playground” in Wales. Such playgrounds are designed to encourage a “free and permissive atmosphere” with a minimum of adult supervision from the trained adult staff. The idea is to allow kids to experience a sense of danger and risk, and to learn how to deal with these situations themselves. These playgrounds include an area with moveable elements such as tires and wooden shipping palettes. She describes another area where some kids were starting a fire in a metal drum. Part of the playground runs steeply down into a shallow creek, and includes a rope swing, which may or may not get you across.

Stay with me here. I’m not on a campaign to litter our playgrounds with glass shards. I just think it’s a worthwhile discussion.

Rope Swing

Dangerous…

I think of my own childhood, which included long, unsupervised hours away from my house and my parents, engaged in creative play. Admittedly, some of my activities with young friends were less than brilliant, but that’s kind of the point. We figured it out and lived to tell about it.

Sand Dune Natl Monument

…also dangerous.

I think of my own kids. How often – regularly, in fact – Mollie and I would be outside somewhere and we would hear the words “Hi Mom!” But these words would sound much farther away than they should’ve, especially coming from overhead. We would look skyward to find our second-born son high in a tree, as high as he could possibly go. (Higher than we were comfortable with.) Of course, as soon as his little brother grew old enough, he was right behind his big brother.

There’s no question that there was very real risk there. But it never seemed quite right to me to tell them, “YOU KIDS GET DOWN FROM THAT TREE RIGHT NOW!” even though Mollie and I wondered out loud to each other if all of our children would make it to adulthood. I guess I’m still not sure whether or not we should’ve forbidden extreme tree climbing. I do remember instructing them to make sure that they always had a firm grip on a strong branch so that they wouldn’t fall.

At one point in our downstairs bathroom, the bathtub contained one turtle, two large toads, and several garter snakes, all found in and around our inner-city yard. (The kids thought it was great that these animals couldn’t escape the tub. Eventually we released them when the bathroom started stinking.) None of these animals were dangerous, but I suppose it still seemed exciting to the kids since a certain percentage of the population is either freaked-out or grossed-out by such creatures. We did instruct the kids to always wash their hands after handling the reptiles because there is a real risk of contracting disease from the salmonella bacteria carried by reptiles.

Rosin quotes early childhood education professor, Ellen Sandseter. She has concluded that children have a sensory need to experience (perceived) danger and excitement. Sandseter has identified 6 categories of risky play, including exploring heights, and exploring on one’s own.

I have to think this must be true of a lot of kids, based on what I’ve seen in myself, in my own kids, in conversation with others, and in watching other families. And I don’t see any reason to ascribe this “need” to our sin nature.

Rosin also cites the research of Kyung-Hee Kim, an educational psychologist who has found that over the past decade American children have become:
“less emotionally expressive, less energetic, less talkative and verbally expressive, less humorous, less imaginative, less unconventional, less lively and passionate, less perceptive, less apt to connect seemingly irrelevant things, less synthesizing, and less likely to see things from a different angle.” The largest drop has been in the measure of “elaboration,” or the ability to take an idea and expand on it in a novel way. Practicing psychologists have also written about the unique identity crisis that this generation faces—a fear of growing up and, in the words of Brooke Donatone, a New York City–based therapist, an inability “to think for themselves.”

Given the context of the article, it seems that Rosin thinks over-protective parenting is the culprit.

What do you think? Are our children over-protected? How do/did you as a parent strike a balance between safety and controlled risk with you kids? How do you avoid being a “helicopter parent”?

At the recent release of my new kids’ book, THE COCKY ROOSTER, I described its underlying theme as “the need for young children to submit to their parent’s loving authority in a broken and sometimes dangerous world.” In my opinion, it is essential for loving parental authority to be in play first before we can responsibly allow our young kids the freedom to explore, and to have their own “lion and bear experiences.” Such experiences will prepare them to go out and face giants someday. But risk is always part of the picture. Even as adults, living a life in submission to God-given authority, and to God Himself, does not equate to a life free of risk. Being under right authority helps us to discern the difference between foolish and worthwhile risks (Prov 10:23.)

I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences…

“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
- C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

Long's Peak Summit

My daughter, Sierra, on the summit of Long’s Peak, elevation 14,259 ft.

(Sign up on my KIDS’ BOOK WEBSITE and I’ll send you my free ebooklet on the crucial role of stories in parenting and culture.
I’ll also notify you of my original, new kid’s book releases!)

My Top 5 Differences Between the Quran & the Bible

Opening Minds - Scott Freeman

If you’ve been following this blog for long, you know that I’m a great fan of the Bible. For me the Bible is like the North Star – a transcendent light around which all other constellations of light revolve. I contend that all of the problems in “Christianity,” both historically and in the present, stem not from following the Bible too closely, but from not following it closely enough.

I could cite many examples, but here’s a whopper: The Protestant Reformation. The Reformation was not a bunch of liberal theologians improving on the words of Jesus, or intentionally modifying the Bible. It was a bunch of people defying theocratic state power in order to return to a movement called Christianity that had fundamentally veered from its biblical roots and from the original message of Jesus. It was an (imperfect) step toward the restoration of a revolutionary movement of God.

That movement has always had its human leaders and martyrs, but the head of the movement has always been its resurrected leader, not innovators who would come later. The salvific work wrought by Jesus was supernatural and so fundamentally profound as to make any “improvements” on His work impossible. Therefore, the church’s departures from His course have always resulted in less than the best for the church and the world. At times it has resulted in inhumanities at complete odds with what Jesus taught. (More.)

How does this relate to Islam? Could Islam undergo a reformation similar to that which Christianity underwent? Many have wondered if such a reformation could be possible in Islam, especially in light of the recent inhumanities committed by the Islamic State (IS.)

Unfortunately for the world, (including Muslims,) it appears as if Islam has already had its reformation, and we are seeing its fruit. The word “radical” means “proceeding from the roots.” In the same way that radical Reformation Christians sought a return to the original teachings and vision of Jesus, so radical Muslims seek to return to the original teachings and vision of Muhammad. The problem is not in being radical and fundamental. The problem is being radical and fundamental about false teachings and a bad vision.

Is it wrong to radically follow a leader? That depends upon the leader:

Jesus lived a brief, celibate life of self-sacrifice. He was a healer and a teacher who summed up all of God’s commands in the command to love both God and people. He laid down His life for others.
Muhammad was a polygamist who consummated his marriage with his youngest bride when she was nine years of age. He was an illiterate warrior who fought in over 80 battles. He took the lives of others.

Several years ago, I realized that I needed to learn about Islam. I didn’t want to learn about Islam from the news media or from academicians since I already knew how rarely they get Christianity right. I figured that since they seldom get their home religion right, how likely is it that they would get a foreign religion right? So I bought a Quran. I also started dialoguing online with Muslims, to see if I was understanding things correctly.

It was very educational for me.

The Quran was given to Muhammad some 600 years after Jesus. The Quran repeatedly states that it confirms the Jewish and Christian scriptures that came before it (2:98; 5:44-48; 12:111.) However, in our literate culture this is a bizarre claim. It’s just weird. To cite what is perhaps the defining example, the Quran claims that God rescued Jesus from being crucified, (apparently because it would be wrong to let His prophet suffer such humiliation,) and instead put an imposter in the place of Jesus (4:157,158.) By contrast the Judeo-Christian scriptures repeatedly state it was God’s will for Jesus to die on behalf of the human race, as His means of reconciliation and salvation. The Koran calls the story of the crucifixion of Jesus a “monstrous falsehood.” This example alone shows there is simply no harmonizing the Bible and the Koran.

Beliefs dictate behavior. The differences between the Bible and the Quran touch on the most fundamental aspects of life, and the fruit of these differences can be seen in the actions of those who radically follow their respective holy scriptures. Below, I briefly list what I found to be 5 basic differences between the Bible and Quran. I refrain from making judgments, and simply describe what I found. For each point I include one representative verse from each book:

MY TOP 5 DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE BIBLE AND THE QURAN

1 – The Nature of God (relational vs non-relational)
The Bible presents a Creator-God who is one in essence yet revealed in three persons. God’s triune nature implies that God has always existed in loving relationship and unity. Loving relationship existed eternally, before matter existed. As beings created in His image, we were made for relational unity and love as well. (More.)
“Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world” (John 17:24.)

The Quran considers God to be unknowable; we can know his will, but we cannot know Him. The idea that God could have a son is considered to be a “monstrous falsehood” (19:88.) It states that the falsehood of a triune Godhead would result in a power struggle (23:91.) The phrase “God is love” is necessarily absent from the Quran.
“So believe in God and His apostles and do not say: ‘Three.’ Forbear, and it shall be better for you. God is but one God. God forbid that He should have a son!” (4:171.)

2 – The Nature of Humanity (the basis for human worth)
The Bible states that human beings, both male and female, bear the image of God. It follows then that all human beings have intrinsic value regardless of distinction. Biblical apostolic teaching affirms that there is no male or female in Christ. Marriage was designed to be a complementary unity of equals, reflecting the Godhead (Gen 2:24; Matt 19:4-6.) The New Testament often states that God loved us, despite our fallen, sinful state, and that the sacrificial death of Jesus was the supreme expression of that love.
“So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created them; male and female He created them” (Gen 1:27.)

The Quran states that God created men superior to women. While it states that women shall have rights similar to men, it states that men have a status above women (2:228.) The Quran also gives instruction regarding child-brides who have not yet menstruated (65:4.) God’s love for humankind seems to be conditional – He loves those who do good, who are just, who fight for Him in battle array (61:4), etc. God does not love unbelievers (3:31-32, 30:43-45.) (More.)
“Men have authority over women because God has made the one superior over the other, and because they spend their wealth to maintain them. Good women are obedient. They guard their unseen parts because God has guarded them. As for those from whom you fear disobedience, admonish them, forsake them in beds apart, and beat them. Then if they obey you, take no further action against them. Surely God is high, supreme” (4:34.)

3 – The Nature of Salvation (life, heaven, and hell)
The Bible frames salvation relationally and holistically, in keeping with God’s relational nature. Ultimately, eternal life is relational unity with God, beginning in the present and continuing on into eternity. Salvation can only be a gift; un-earned (Eph 2:8,9.) There is a heaven, but the stated point is the presence of God and loving communion with God and His people. Conversely, “hell” is a place of separation from God (1 Thes 1:9.) Jesus spoke of an afterlife with an authority and clarity that hadn’t previously existed in ancient Judaism. He certainly warned about “hell” as a reality – at most around 50 mentions, directly or indirectly.
“And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (John 17:3.)

The Quran frames salvation primarily in terms of gaining paradise and escaping punishment. Salvation is earned by becoming Muslim and doing good deeds (22:49; 33:35.) The differences between the Bible’s and the Quran’s depiction of heaven and hell are substantial, but in reading the Quran what stood out to me most was the overwhelming emphasis on hell. By the second paragraph, and then again in the third, punishment is mentioned, and it never lets up throughout the rest of the book. In the 433 pages of my Quran there are nearly 500 references to hell, fire, punishment, and doom.
“Those that deny Our revelations we will burn in the fire. No sooner will their skins be consumed than We shall give them other skins, so that they may truly taste the scourge. Surely God is mighty and wise” (4:56.)

4 – The Nature of Faith (the basis for belief)
The Bible uniquely presents faith as relational, historical, and evidential. The God of the Bible never asks for blind obedience or irrational faith. Biblical faith is trusting in the proven character of a Creator who has taken pains to demonstrate His trustworthiness through acts in history and verifiable signs. The authors in the Bible, in both old and new testaments, continually refer to eyewitness accounts of historical events, citing times, places, events, genealogies, fulfilled prophecy, and other historical reference points to provide a basis for belief. (More.)
“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life – the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you eternal life…” (1 John 1:1,2.)

The Quran often refers to itself as a guide from God. It could not refer to biblical events firsthand since it came hundreds of years after Jesus. Instead it repeatedly claims to confirm the Torah and the gospels. However, in the many instances where it refers to the Torah or the gospels it adds embellishments and/or flatly contradicts the biblical accounts. It does provide a test for its own authenticity in saying that if it had not come from God, then it would have many contradictions (4:82.)
“This Quran could not have been devised by any but God. It confirms what was revealed before it and fully explains the scriptures. It is beyond doubt from the Lord of the universe. If they say: ‘He invented it himself,’ say: Bring me one chapter like it. Call on whom you may besides God to help you, if what you say is true!” (10:37,38.)

5 – The Nature of Spiritual Life & Practice (written code vs Spirit)
The Bible presents the Holy Spirit as a person with a mind, will, & emotions – as God Himself. Jesus and His apostles teach spiritual rebirth and the indwelling of God’s Spirit within every believer. Thereafter we walk in the Spirit, rather than “according to the flesh.” In the new covenant of Jesus the old written Torah is not abolished; it is fulfilled and surpassed by something better – a “new life in the Spirit.” Paul specifically says we are given the Spirit because we have received “adoption as sons” in Jesus (Galatians 3:23-4:7.)
“But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code” (Romans 7:6.)

The Quran also presents the Holy Spirit as a helping, strengthening entity, but not as God Himself. Apparently most Muslim scholars believe that the Holy Spirit is the angel Gabriel, (a spirit-being who is holy.) There is no indwelling of the Spirit as in the New Testament. There is no concept of God as Father in the Quran, and accordingly there is no adoption for us as his children. Muslim spiritual practice consists of obeying God by obeying what his messenger has revealed in the Quran.
“Had it been God’s will to adopt a son, He would have chosen whom He pleased out of His own creation. But God forbid! He is God, the One, the Almighty” (39:4.)

This has not been a critique of Islam. This has been a respectful comparison of what I have found the Bible and the Quran to say about topics that matter to me. If you are Muslim (or Christian) and you feel that I have misrepresented your holy scriptures in any way, I welcome you to offer correction in the comments below. To all others I would urge reading these sources for yourself to verify the accuracy of what I have written. May God reveal Himself more clearly to us all.

On a lighter note:
If you haven’t already done so, please check out my newly released kid’s storybook:
THE COCKY ROOSTER!

New Book Release: The Cocky Rooster

kids' storybooks-the cocky roosterToday is launch day – I’m pleased to announce that my first new kids’ book is ready to go!
Following is a brief introduction and some thoughts around the story.

The Cocky Rooster is a tale about a self-absorbed rooster who eventually has a change of heart. Its underlying theme is loving, parental authority.

In my experience as a parent, it has been unusual to find storybooks that portray God-given authority in a favorable light. Most moms and dads that I know recognize that parental rules and authority exist primarily for the safety and protection of their children and those with whom their children interact. This is simply a fundamental, good, and necessary part of everyday parenting. Even so, the message that our children will so often hear from the world is that authority is a tool used to control people, that it can’t be trusted, and that people should instead “follow their hearts.” This is reflective of a secularist worldview.

But if the human heart is already naturally inclined to be rebellious and selfish, urging small children to follow their hearts reinforces exactly the wrong idea. We might as well urge them to eat dessert first and only eat their vegetables if they feel like it. There is, arguably, a place for following one’s heart, but for young children, I think a true picture of God-given authority is the message that needs to be reinforced, because that’s the message that will otherwise go unheard.

I believe that, of course, as children grow older into adolescence, wise parents will give them increasing freedom, responsibility, and autonomy. But The Cocky Rooster is a picture book designed for children under 9 years old, to reinforce the idea of the need for loving parental guidance in a broken and sometimes dangerous world.

In a nutshell, the story tells the tale of a Rooster who lives on an urban farm, (possibly in your neighborhood!) He resents being cooped up in the henhouse with the hens every night. He wants to meet the nighttime animals and have his own adventures…

the nighttime animals-The Cocky RoosterOne night he finds a way out, and has an adventure that he is ill-equipped to deal with on his own, resulting in consequences he couldn’t have foreseen.

The Cocky Rooster-spot illustrationFollowing are a couple of consecutive page excerpts, so you can see the wording and typical page length:

cocky rooster meets the deer

The rooster knew she was right. “I wanted to see the nighttime creatures,” he said to her.

“But you are not a wild creature like the nighttime animals. You need the protection of a farmer and a dog.” Again the rooster knew she was right. He now very much wanted to get back to the henhouse.

“I do want to return to my coop now,” said the rooster. “Will you help me to get back home safely?” The graceful deer promised to do the best she could.
(pg 25)

getting home safelyTogether, they carefully walked back through the neighborhood, watching closely for any sign of the fox. Soon they safely reached the urban farmer’s home, where everyone was fast asleep.

“This is where I live,” said the rooster, thanking his new friend.

Quietly, he slipped past Rufus’s doghouse where he could hear Rufus snoring. Soon he would be back in the coop where he would fall asleep to the sound of the snoring hens. (p27)

Unless otherwise stated, all books will be a typical 32 page storybook length, and 8 x 10 inches in size.
I’ve made 3 options available to you:

Ebook format – $4.95
Paperback format – $14.95
Hardback format – $18.95

For the release of this first title I’m offering FREE SHIPPING on single orders inside the U.S.

You and your child can enjoy The Cocky Rooster, together, very soon – in fact, before bedtime tonight if you order the ebook now!

PURCHASE NOW

GIFT GIVING: If you are a grandparent, aunt, uncle, teacher, or someone in a position of caring for young children in any capacity, please consider ordering a book for the kids in your care. Remember – a great storybook can be a great gift for a child who already has a humongous pile of toys and video games. A great story goes to the heart!

And speaking of gift giving, I should also mention that at this point I have no plans to sell these books in stores or on Amazon. The only way to get them will be from my Big Picture Publishing website BOOK STORE. This means that if you order my books as a gift, it’s almost certain that your little loved one won’t yet have a copy.

fox watercolor illustration by Scott Freeman

I hope you and your loved ones enjoy The Cocky Rooster.
I can hardly wait to get started illustrating the next book – The Friendly City. Watch for it here!

(If you haven’t already done so, please visit MY WEBSITE and sign in up in the blue box. In return I’ll immediately send you my free ebooklet on the role of stories in parenting and culture. I think you’ll find it inspiring. Signing up will enable you to be notified of quarterly book releases and an occasional thought on parenting.)

Help My Son, and (Perhaps) Win an Awesome Painting by my Wife

Happy Family

A family photo from Thanksgiving 2013.
Caleb is on the far left with his finger in his nose.

My oldest son, Caleb, was born with some disabilities. The most significant of these is his visual impairment. Caleb can read large print, and make his way around a computer quite well. (He can type way faster then me, but I admit that’s not a terribly impressive feat.) Though Caleb has faced more physical challenges than most throughout his life, by hard work, faith, and perseverance he has often managed to surpass everyone’s expectations.

Mollie remembers teaching Caleb the routine task of learning to tie his shoes when he was a toddler. For Caleb (and Mollie) this became a character building experience. It took over a year. This has proved to be somewhat predictive of how Caleb’s life would be as he grew older – things that others take for granted are much harder, but usually not impossible, for him.

We generally haven’t tried to hold Caleb back from anything he’s wanted to do. In high school, Caleb’s favorite teacher happened to coach track, so Caleb decided he wanted to go out for the track team. When he told me this, I was concerned that he would only frustrate and embarrass himself. (In addition to being blind, Caleb has mild cerebral palsy on his right side, which affects his coordination.) I privately spoke to the coaches to see if they really thought it would be a good idea for Caleb to “compete” on the track team, and to be sure they understood this would mean more work for them as coaches. They assured me that they would watch Caleb’s back.

Once track season was in full swing, I went to a track meet where Caleb was slotted to run in the 800 meter race. I watched with very mixed emotions as the gun went off and Caleb was left behind; farther behind than he could’ve known. It was the best he could do to simply stay in his own running lane. At one point he strayed off the track, and a teammate ran over and helped to guide him back onto the track. By that point, the race was already over for everyone else. As a dad, I listened for the crowd’s response, expecting to hear snickering.

Instead something beautiful happened.

As the crowd realized what was going on, both sides spontaneously began to cheer him on. A huge smile broke out on Caleb’s face. As he approached the finish line, cartoonishly late, people were standing up, clapping, and cheering. For Caleb the event was not about winning. It was about being on the team and finishing the race.

I want to publicly thank Coach Heyrman and Coach Q for going the extra mile with Caleb during his Loveland High School years.

Mom to the Rescue
This brings me to today. Caleb is trying to run a different sort of race, and I’m hoping the crowd will support him again. Caleb is now 28 years old. He could live off of government aid programs for the rest of his life and play computer games all day. However, he hopes to be independent and get a job to support himself. After graduating high school, he spent two years at the Colorado School for the Deaf and Blind. Since then, he has been a student at Colorado State University in Ft. Collins, Colorado. It has been predictably difficult for him, and he has had to maintain a light course-load. One year he was on academic probation after getting some bad counsel and taking physics and calculus in the same semester. (Had it been me, I would also have ended up on probation!) He’s had to modify his hopes of majoring in Forestry three times in order to find an emphasis with requirements he can actually fulfill.

During the last academic year, Caleb’s Vocational Rehabilitation caseworker on campus quit and was replaced by someone new. This happens fairly frequently as the Voc Rehab caseload is very heavy and there is a high caseworker turnover rate. Caleb made contact with the new person, but despite his best efforts, she missed the deadline for submitting his paperwork on time. Consequently, Caleb cannot afford to attend school this fall, his senior year. (His last three years were also his senior year, but he is scheduled to finish this coming year.) He is simply trying to finish school.

Unfortunately, this comes at a bad time for Mollie and me. So what we’re doing, since we can’t help him much financially, is this: Mom has come to the rescue! Mollie has set up a crowd-funding campaign. Everyone who contributes 25$ or more to the campaign will be entered in a drawing to win one of her paintings – one entry for every $25. It’s a very cool semi-abstract painting from her Jacob’s Ladder series, entitled, “All About the Ladder.” (I’m kind of bummed that she’s letting it go, because its one of my favs. See the painting below.) Having said that, I realize that people are primarily contributing to help Caleb. But it wouldn’t hurt to win some nice art as well, right?

We’re getting very close! There are only a few days left in the campaign. We send our heartfelt thanks for those of you who choose to lend support. Here is THE LINK for those who are interested:

"All About the Ladder" water media, 3 x 3 ft, gallery wrapped, by Mollie Walker Freeman - listed at $2200

“All About the Ladder”
water media, 3 x 3 ft, gallery wrapped,
by Mollie Walker Freeman – listed at $1950