Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.


Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.


Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness:

 for they shall be filled.

Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.


Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.


Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.


Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness sake:

 for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. 


Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.


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Barack Obama - on The Sermon on the Mount:

"If people find [civil unions] controversial, then I would just refer them to the Sermon on the Mount, which I think is, in my mind, for my faith, more central than an obscure passage in Romans."
Those are the words of the smooth talking Barack Obama. What does the Sermon on the Mount have to do with homosexuality or gay marriage /civil unions? NOTHING. Though I do not disagree with all that he says about this issue, I do disagree with him calling certain scriptures "obscure". What follows are the... “obscure” scriptures that Obama was referring to - and these verses DO directly address homosexuality.

Romans 1:24-28
24. Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another.
25. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.
26. Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones.
27. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.
28. Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done.

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The word of God for the people of God... thanks be to God. To persons that read their Bibles and are honest about the words, the passage quoted above is not obscure. It is simple and plain. Obama is guilty of what many do. They let politics guide their Christian beliefs, rather than having Christian beliefs guide their politics. Obama picks the parts of the faith he likes and dismisses what does not suit his thinking - and this is the ONLY way he can continue to be pro-abortion. But for those of us that understand a thing or two about Black Liberation Theology, this should be of no surprise.
Black Liberation Theology
This belief system involves some twisting and spinning of Christian ideas to achieve a certain agenda, compromising the truth willfully in the process. Part of their agenda is quite racist. Simply put, it aims to make divine the historical experience of Black Americans in this country and advocates reparations (monetary payback for slavery) as being part of our work toward salvation. It is a heretical effort to have Christians revere the past suffering of Blacks… like we revere the suffering of Christ on the cross.
You should do some research on the father of Black Liberation Theology, James H. Cone. Read some of his books - but you may need to get earlier editions to avoid sanitized copies. Websites about Black Liberation Theology and James H. Cone that once provided clear evidence of racism have been sanitized - maybe his books are the same way. Amazing! Is this "clean up" of the record an effort to preserve the integrity of the presidency, or what? Here are some quotes from the book, "Black Theology & Black Power", by James H. Cone:
"Black Theology refuses to accept a God who is not identified totally with the goals of the Black Community. If God is not for us, and against white people, then he is a murderer, and we had better kill him. The task of Black Theology is to kill Gods who do not belong to the Black Community…

… Black Theology will only accept the love of God which participates in the destruction of the White Enemy. What we need is divine love as expressed in Black Power, which is the power of black people to destroy their oppressors here and now by any means at their disposal…

…Unless God is participating in this Holy activity we must reject his love…

If you do not believe that he advocates such things, you can see more quotes like these at Wikiquotes. I copied the page, thinking that this will eventually get sanitized as well. Or, just read the earlier editions of the guy's books.
http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/James_Hal_Cone

Obama subscribes to such thinking - or at least he keeps company with those that do. At this time, Obama has distanced himself from the so-called Reverend Wright and his church of Black Liberation Theology. However, Obama has been part of that worldview for 20 years - baptized in it, married in it, raised his children in it! This is no small thing. Regardless of what he says now, his past actions show us his heart. And we know that he distanced himself from Rev. Jeremiah Wright and the extreme left only to fool the majority of Americans into voting for him. It was theatrical - form over substance, dialogue over deed!


Well, Obama "threw Wright under the bus", as they say. Wright was a scapegoat. This is wrong. Wright is not the problem - THE THEOLOGY IS THE PROBLEM! He was merely a voice for that system of beliefs. And Obama never threw his Black Liberation Theology under the bus. People... do not loose sight of this truth.

I take comfort in recognizing that my faith comes first and that the church has been standing for almost 2000 years - regardless of the rise or fall of governments. Though I disagree with many of Barack Obama's positions and did NOT vote for him, I love him and will certainly pray for him. God bless the USA and Obama. Now... back to the art!

Below is another version of the outward form of Jesus. Merely darkening His disposition makes Him look more "Middle Eastern" (in the since that Westerners typically think). But it MAY be wrong to apply this look to Jesus. There is a basis for giving Jesus an appearance more like the first one. And it is not solely a visual interpretation of scripture (SEE BELOW FOR DETAILS). But we are not certain about these things. So, the one in this post could just as well represent the Messiah. Those that truly accept Him should not care about the amount of skin pigment He had, or did not have, when He walked among us.


I plan to post the pencil drawing of this picture - so you can see what it looks like before I painted it. In addition, I may put up some progress images of the piece and give a few details about the art process.
WHY DO I PAINT JESUS THIS WAY?


And he sent, and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and withal of beautiful eyes, and goodly to look upon. – 1 Samuel 16:12 (Hebrew Bible in English)

And when the Philistine looked about, and saw David, he disdained him: for he was but a youth, and ruddy, and withal of a fair countenance. – 1 Samuel 17:42 (Hebrew Bible in English)
These scriptures describing David are the basis on which some artists present Jesus with reddish colored hair - it was popular to do this in the past. The Hebrew word used to describe David as “ruddy” is the same Hebrew word used to describe Esau as red. This is the Hebrew word Admoni – pronounce Ad-Mo_nee. The scripture does not specify whether it is David’s hair or skin that is “ruddy” (but in the case of Esau I think that it is hair). Artists sometimes apply this to hair and make the hair of Jesus “ruddy”. This is meant to point to the belief that Jesus came from the bloodline of David – as required by the scriptures. Further, Jesus being depicted with beautiful eyes is based upon these scriptures for the same reason. These are artistic expressions of scripture.

An artist defines beauty according to culture. Many European cultures consider blue eyes to be the most beautiful. So, when artists from these cultures portray Jesus with blue eyes it is an attempt to present beauty – and not a racial statement. In my first picture, I present Jesus with hair that is highlighted “ruddy” and green eyes. Green is the most rare eye color in the world, yet the trait is present in populations related to the subject (consider the world famous photo of the Afghan girl with the haunting green eyes). In my second picture I present Jesus with light brown eyes. By merely darkening the complexion, Jesus looks more Middle Eastern. Many artists may shy away from such a portrayal due to personal/cultural preferences – they do not want to give Jesus the face of a suicide bomber. Further, the accuracy of portraying Him that way is questionable, though conceivable.
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But consider this: Scientists that research genetics are saying that the Kurdish and Armenian peoples are closest to the ancient Israelites. But not all of them! Many of the people in that region are descendants of Japheth - whereas the Israelites (and Jesus) came from the line of Shem. Keep in mind that the ancient Israelites were not originally from the land we now call Israel. Abraham, the father of the Jews, came from Northern Mesopotamia. Abraham was NOT from the area of the ruins of Tell El-Mukayyar in Southern Mesopotamia as some have proposed. Here is a site that does a good job briefly explaining this:
http://www.bibleandscience.com/bible/books/genesis/ur.htm


Many authorities (as well as Jewish tradition, as well as Islamic tradition) hold that Abraham indeed was from Northern Mesopotamia - Ur Kaƛdim or Ur of the Chaldees. The location is in South Eastern Turkey and in proximity to the Kurdish people. Nearby are the Armenians. From this area Abraham migrated down to the land we now call Israel. You can do a Google image search for "Kurds" and "Armenians" to get a good idea of how Jesus may have looked if the bloodline remained pure. It seems to me that the Kurdish people have remained more isolated than the Armenians. So maybe the Kurds are more representative of what Father Abraham looked like, and the way the pure-blooded Israelite looked. Understand that the idea is not that Israelites (including Jesus) were Kurds and/or Armenians - it is that they all came from the same stock of people. It is in the DNA!

WAS THE BLOODLINE OF JESUS PURE?
I think that it was pure. There are two genealogies of Jesus in the Bible. The line of Jesus is traced through Mary in the Gospel of Luke. And His line is traced through Joseph in the Gospel of Matthew. The line of Joseph indicated mixing with gentiles (though some scholars disagree). Further, this line was discredited from being a kingly line. Messianic Jews today consider the genealogy of Joseph to be evidence that Jesus was virgin born - for the blood of that line was NOT in Jesus. It appears that the line of Mary was pure. Some say that Bathsheba was a gentile – because her husband was a Hittite (from an empire that was north of Judea). But I doubt this claim. The scriptures specify that the husband was Hittite, but never Bathsheba. I think that the only way the Hittite was able to have rank in the service of King David was to be a convert to the faith and marry the Jewess, Bathsheba. Further, there was much emphasis in avoiding intermarriage during the times that preceded Jesus.

WAS JESUS HANDSOME?
For he shot up right forth as a sapling, and as a root out of a dry ground; he had no form nor comeliness, that we should look upon him, nor beauty that we should delight in him. – Isaiah 53:2 (Hebrew Bible in English)

Christians understand that Jesus was not extraordinary in His appearance. Yet, when we depict Him we do so reverently. This usually results in a handsome depiction of Jesus. But there is NOT a reason to conclude that He was ugly. Jesus looked like a regular Jewish man living in Israel about 2000 years ago.

DID JESUS WEAR HIS HAIR LONG OR SHORT?

This is another thing that people choose to disagree on. Nobody knows the answer to this. The opinion of what is long hair or short hair for a man changes a little according to the times and culture. What was the trend for Jewish men 2000 years ago? Jesus likely followed that convention.

Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him? – 1 Corinthians 11:14 (KJV)

Many use the words of Paul to justify the claim that Jesus had short hair. But you must consider the context of the scripture. Read the scriptures before and after this, and consider whom he is talking to and why. The issue he is addressing is NOT the length a man keeps his hair.

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To those that advocate that Jesus had short hair, I bring up the issue of "side locks". Jewish men did not cut the hair on the sides of their heads (see Leviticus 19:27-28 for the reason). They let this hair grow long. There are varying traditions on how to wear these side locks. Some wear them in front of the ears. Others pull the locks behind the ears. Some grow the side locks to the jaw line. Others grow the hair locks longer. Some never cut them. Of particular interest is that the Yemenite Jews grow their side locks to the upper arm and say that they have maintained this tradition from the time of the Second Temple (that is the time of Jesus).

The question should be, did Jesus wear the length of his hair to match the length of his side locks, or not? Even if Jesus cut his hair short, he had longer side locks – and his hair would look long with the side locks hanging out of the traditional Jewish headdress. Either way, Jesus did not have a Roman or traditional modern hairstyle.

DID JESUS HAVE A BEARD? YES!

I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting. – Isaiah 50:6 (Hebrew Bible in English)
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This verse is why we portray Jesus with a beard. Those that do NOT do this deny that this passage is a messianic prophecy that makes reference to Christ.

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I have seen that some Christians suggest that Jesus was groomed like the Romans (short hair and clean-shaven). It is odd to me to expect that the Jewish men would copy their enemies. But there are people that point to early depictions of Jesus with short hair and a shaved face. These Murals of Jesus were by early Christians in the area of Rome. We must recognize that these Roman Christians/artists made Jesus look like them.
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We should be just as critical of Roman depictions of Jesus as we are about the European depictions from the Middle Ages that make Him look... European. In my opinion, the European artists of the Middle ages did an overall better job presenting Christ than that Roman version. Often the European artists gave Christ the elongated features we expect to see in someone of Jewish decent.






***
IS THERE A PORTRAIT OR DESCRIPTION OF JESUS? NO.
It was against Jewish custom to have an image of a person. This was in order to obey one of the 10 commandments - the one about not having any "graven images". So, we have no portrait or depiction of Jesus from those that actually saw Him. There is a claim that the Jewish historian Josephus wrote a description of Jesus. It is a ridiculous description. People that quote this description usually include the reference, as if that makes it true. I researched this and found that it is bogus. Josephus did NOT write a description of Jesus.

When I depict the Messiah I follow certain traditions, understanding that there is a basis for those. We have an iconic image that is recognizable all over the world. I think it is OK to adjust the complexion of the subject, depending on the culture. But if we stray too far from the familiar we create the need to explain the depiction of Christ – which is a distraction from the message.


WHAT MESSAGE?

The message is that we are a broken humanity and need the hand of God to keep us from ultimately destroying ourselves. When I say destroy ourselves I am talking about humanity as a whole. Sometimes individuals will self-destruct, but often wicked people prosper and die happy. But humanity as a whole is racing toward self-destruction! We chose the knowledge of good and evil. And so, we must…know evil. We must see it and do it. To experience pain and death is to know evil. We can then compare evil with what is good, thereby having knowledge of both. Do we have to totally destroy the world to have full knowledge of evil?

We need the right hand of God to save us – that was and is the Messiah. I did not accept Him because I was a drug addict, or a homosexual burned out from the “lifestyle”, or a sexually abused child, or a man in a broken marriage, or a patient suffering from a life-threatening illness, or someone in financial crisis. Sometimes, I grow weary of hearing all the messages about how Jesus will heal your broken heart and make you prosper. Indeed, Jesus does that. But it is not just those of ill circumstances that are in need of the Savior. Jesus is not a “crutch” for the weak-minded to get through life. People that say this do not understand that it may be easier to go through life on your own selfish terms than to submit to the ways of God.

The religions of this world are about forms and rituals that are efforts by humanity to reach the divine. Obviously, humanity has not had success – just look around. But Jesus… this is about God reaching down to humanity to ultimately save us from evil.


Art Process

At my website http://www.jesusweptart.blogspot.com/, I presented another image of Jesus. For that piece I used a European face as the foundation. I then adjusted the features considering the traits of the Kurdish people - referring to a collection of photos of Kurds and Armenians that I gathered off the Internet. This approach resulted in a face that may not be very representative of the reference population because of my tendency to favor the more European-looking traits.
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To avoid bias in the "On the Mount" piece, I used a single face from the reference population (Armenian), rather than selecting favored features. I do not like the piece as much from an artistic point a view, but I do think that it looks more ethnically appropriate. I attempted to crop out the parts I liked least. Anyway, this has resulted in a face that is more representative of an ancient Israelite that has come from a pure bloodline.

Above are process images - sort of. I draw the subject in pencil (using T-squares to help with precision). I like to use one of those blending stumps for the shading. Then I scan the drawing into my computer and touch it up using black and white digital painting. I then paint color layers below and above the pencil drawing. Highlights and touch-ups are done in the top layers. You should not view the process images as exact steps in completing the art. Though my technique is methodical, it is difficult to present process images that show this because of my tendency to go back and forth between parts and layers. The forth picture shows the piece near completion - but I did more touch-ups and did more to the background.
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