God Likes Artists

Today I finished Exodus, and something struck me (slapped me, whacked me, knocked me over the head) with fresh clarity: God likes artists.

Not in the way that many a disapproving parent does - begrudgingly, warily, resentfully. But joyfully.

God likes artists because He gave them their art and their skill and He uses them to bring Him glory.

Case in point: Bezalel and Oholiab.

We meet them in Exodus 31, right after the Lord has spent several chapters delivering detailed instructions to Moses about the construction of the tabernacle - including its furniture and even down to the garments of the priests. Bezalel and Oholiab are two artists.

The LORD said to Moses, “See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver, and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, to work in every craft. And behold, I have appointed with him Oholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan. And I have given to all able men ability, that they may make all that I have commanded you. - Exodus 31:1-6

God did not want a shoddy tabernacle. Throughout all of the detailed plans for its construction, He calls again and again for things to be made "skillfully." God wanted the tabernacle to be beautiful, and that required good artists. Those artists glorified God by simply making good art in obedience to Him. 

Good art, truthful art, beautiful art exalts God. Why don't more people believe that? 

People and pastors have started to talk a lot about glorifying God through your 9-to-5, in a cubicle, at the office. What about glorifying God through the work of creating? 

Exodus 31 is a reminder that God likes artists because He loves good art, art that reflects His glory and worthiness, whether that's a beautiful piece of clothing, an ornately-carved chair, an exquisite poem, patterned curtains, or a stunning painting. 

It's also a reminder that He gave every good artist their skill, because He is the perfect Artist. 


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Your Saturday Smile: Slaying Edition

Quick caveat: I have not watched Beth Moore's Passion talk and thus would not endorse it. But Josh merely uses it as an example to make a very true (and amusing!) point.

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Can Teens Get Published? Absolutely.

As a teen author, I've heard it said many times that most teens can't get published. At least, it's tremendously improbable, if not nearly impossible.

But the more that I'm learning about the process of publishing a book, the more I'm realizing how possible it is for other young writers to get published.

Which is why Brett Harris and I created a guidebook of writing advice for aspiring young authors.

We've launched it on TheRebelution today.

We created it as a free PDF. All you have to do to access it is join our email list. (Of course, you can unsubscribe any time - including right after you get the PDF.)

If you're interested in reading the PDF, visit TheRebelution here.


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8 Tweets From Matt Smethurst To Encourage You Today

Every few months I love to share a few encouraging tweets from one of my favorite people on Twitter. I've highlighted both Burk Parsons and Lore Ferguson Wilbert in the past, and today I want to share 8 tweets from another master Twitter-user: Matt Smethurst.

Matt is the managing editor of The Gospel Coalition, and I'm consistently encouraged, emboldened, and zinged with conviction from his own insights and the insightful quotes from others he shares.

Here are eight of those insights for you to ponder today.

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Your Saturday Smile: Why We Call a Dollar a Buck Edition

HT: Challies

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Friends Your Age Are Not Enough

I'm writing on desiringGod today about a subject near and dear to my heart: intergenerational friendship.

We like people who are like us. Beginning as children, we’re corralled by different categories and compartmentalization. Age may be the biggest. From grade school to Sunday school to the workplace, we tend to intuitively gravitate to those who are the same age as us.

Many churches (surely unintentionally) feed this anti-intergenerational message: children go here for Sunday school, teens go here for youth group, separate Bible studies and classes for college, career, parents, and seniors. Quietly and subtly we come to believe that our friends should exclusively be from our generation.

Yet while having friends of the same age is normal and natural, we miss something special when we don’t have any friends who are of different ages than us, particularly in Christian community. Christians share a bond and identity that trumps everything else — job, race, and most definitely age. If there’s no longer Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, there should be neither old nor young (Galatians 3:28).

Age should not build walls. Jesus should tear them down. When we put aside our preference for people just like us, we broadcast the beauty of our shared union with Christ.

And intergenerational friendship is not just beautiful, but necessary. We need intergenerational friendship. We need the balance, perspective, and experience of people who are walking through different stages of life than us (1 Timothy 4:12; 5:1–2; Titus 2:3–5). Teenagers, you need older Christians. Seniors, you need teenagers. Young moms, you need empty-nesters. Empty-nesters, you need twenty-somethings. We all need each other.

Photo courtesy of desiringGod.


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2016: A Year in Review

It's become a sort of annual tradition of mine to look back at the end of each year and reflect on what happened. So here goes.

(You can go back and read my reflections on 2015, 2014, and 2012 - I have no idea what happened in 2013.)

It seems like 2016 is the year culture wants to forget (if I see one more meme about how 2016 was the worst ...). And some awful things really did happen. I'm not discounting them. We saw the brutality of war and the ensuing refugee crisis. We saw terrorist attacks and hate. We saw so many celebrity deaths (Harper Lee, Alan Rickman, Nancy Reagan, David Bowie, Prince). We saw huge and scary political shifts (Brexit and, need I even mention the election of Donald Trump?). We saw a massacre in Orlando. We saw the deaths of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling and racial tensions boil over again and again. We saw bombings and strife in the Middle East.

There was a lot of bad.

But happy things happened too. God blessed us with simple, unspectacular joys. The Chicago Cubs won the World Series. Netflix brought us Stranger Things. The Chewbacca Lady spread joy far and wide. Hamilton happened. Doctor Strange came out. The Babylon Bee was born. Gospel-rich books were published. Truth was proclaimed. The gospel was shared.

And it was a pretty epic year for me. I landed a book contract. Then I wrote a book. I started a podcast. I traveled to Indianapolis (twice!). I went to Chicago and ate deep dish pizza. I read a lot of good books. I fell in love with cooking. I made new friends. I started writing for The Gospel Coalition and desiringGod. I got to hear John Piper preach live (twice!). I discovered minimalism. And I turned 19. 

All in all, it was a pretty good year. Sure, bad things happened for me too, but God was overwhelmingly good. Of course, he's good no matter what happens. That's a difficult but profound truth.

As I look at the year ahead and think of the new year's resolutions so many are making, I'm reminded of Jonathan Edwards' resolutions. As a young man, he recorded these 70 commitments to pursue a life of full-throttled, single-focused, passionate obedience to Christ.

And it's his first resolution that I want to focus on for the new year. May this be my resolution for the new year. And may it be yours.

"Resolved, that I will do whatsoever I think to be most to God’s glory, and my own good, profit and pleasure, in the whole of my duration, without any consideration of the time, whether now, or never so many myriad's of ages hence. Resolved to do whatever I think to be my duty and most for the good and advantage of mankind in general. Resolved to do this, whatever difficulties I meet with, how many and how great soever."


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Your Saturday Smile: 2016 Was the Worst Edition

Note: On Boxing Day Dad and I fly to Indianapolis to attend CROSS Conference (which I've written about here.) In that case, I'll be taking a blogging break until the new year. I've got some big and exciting plans for jaquelle.ca in 2017, so stay tuned! And have a very merry Christmas, friends.

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Growing in Grace: December 2016

Yes, Go to Church on Christmas Day - "Though gift-giving is special and can be done in a godly way, why would we want to miss this glorious time with our church family feasting on the joy of heaven in order to simply open earthly treasures?"

He Came Down: The Best Christmas Pageant Ever - A beautiful video.

2017 Christian Reading Challenge - I did Tim Challies' 2016 reading challenge last year and am psyched to jump into this one.

10 Books Every Christian Teenager Should Read - Speaking of Tim Challies, here's a great book list he put together.

The False Gods of Rory Gilmore - Mom and I are Gilmore Girls fans, but not fans of the Netflix revival. I loved this piece on Rory and what the show teaches us.

Worth Every Second - An incredible story about one woman's suffering and how God has blessed her through it.

Have Millennial Stereotypes Gone Too Far? - I loved this article. "Is our collective goal to actually understand and connect with millennials? Or do we simply want to turn them into a hipster satire that is ruining everything good in this world?"

The Ministry of Spongy Wallpaper and Cramped Hospitality - "We had nothing to give each other, or new friends that could bridge the distance of cultural difference. Yet, when we place what little we have on a small table with our knees bumping, and give it as a gift, it grows."

Top 10 Books of 2016 (The Babylon Bee) - A satirical list that made me laugh way too hard.

7 Gifts to Get for the Rebelutionary Teen - My latest article on The Rebelution, a gift guide for parents.

What Does the X in Xmas Mean? - This is always a good read around the season.

My Top 10 Theology Stories of 2016 - The Gospel Coalition did a fascinating roundup.

Catch up on Age of Minority episodes - Dad and I have released four episodes so far (new one comes out tomorrow!). If you're looking for a way to spend this quieter time now that Christmas is here, you might enjoy hearing Dad and I talk about all the things.

Merry Christmas!


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6 Ways to Help Teens Doubting Their Faith

I was on Beliefnet this week with this piece:

"Navigating the world of faith as a teenager in the twenty-first century can be overwhelmingly confusing, complicated, and tenuous. We’re establishing our intellectual independence and our ethical convictions, and we’re brimful of questions. We want unshakeable and unwavering faith, but it’s the very teens who grew up in the church (or who are recent converts) that often face the most doubts about the gospel and Christianity. These teens are most assuredly saved and have no legitimate cause for doubt, yet they persistently wrestle with it.

Of course, they’re not alone. Christians throughout the ages have struggled with assurance and belief. Even the apostle Peter standing on a storming sea was infected by disbelief and began to sink (Matt. 14:30). But teens need a particular kind of gospel-directed, love-motivated, gently-spoken instruction. 

Perhaps you’re a parent, pastor, youth worker, or teen yourself who wants to know how to counsel a doubting teen through this dark period. As a teen myself, here are six practical suggestions for ways to help."

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