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Symbolic Ink

The wrist tattoo is sometimes called a crusaders cross, worn by Christian soldiers  during the Crusades as a mark of  identification and as a request for a Christian burial if they should die in battle. Below it is Hebrew which unlike English reads from right to left. It is Psalm 46:10 "Be still and know that I AM God"  and it is pointed in my direction because I'm the worrier who needs the reminder.

The left arm with the cross/anchor/heart is ! Cor 13, Faith, Hope and Love. The inner part was a gift from a dear friend, an old lady in my church; on one of my birthdays she gave me a gift of some $ and said, "Don't give this away; don't spend it on yourself." So I took her literally. She saw it before she died and was rather tickled that it was in her honor. I've added to it over the years, both by Max and by Rob---two guys who've done a lot of work for me.

The eagle is a tribal version of Isaiah 40:31--Those who wait on the Lord will renew their strength, they will mount on wings as an eagle. I've used that a lot as a Scripture lesson at some of my older members; realized I'm getting older too and just wanted a reminder of the promise.

On my right arm above the cross and Hebrew is a 3/4 sleeve with maori ornamentation plus some things of my own: At the top on my shoulder is Martin Luther's coat of arms--I substituted the cross he had with a chi-rho as a thank you to the church that has honored me by letting me be their pastor for 30 years. Also on that arm is a symbol for family, and 4 lizards: the first from Mexico on my wife and my 25th anniversary. It had been a rough year for me: my dad died, I was sick most of the year, sunk into a depression. My wife planned our anniversary and one night, as I lay outside in a hammock I watched the lizards play (they stick to walls and ceilings) and they look so fun, I wanted to remember that moment and the recovery my wife, my  church and my friends made happen. The two lizards on either side of the center one are for the other two ladies in my life, my daughters.


Finally I added one more for me - the one whose tail is hooked to the other. Don't know if you can see it from the pic, but there's also a sea turtle designed into a hibiscus--symbol of Hawaii--a memorable trip with two very good friends. Also there is the arabic letter "nun" or "n" and you may have seen it elsewhere - it stands for the arabic word for Nazarene and is marked on the property of Christians targeted for harassment, persecution, even death. It's my reminder to pray for them. Around all of that is the work done for me by both Max (who now works in Hawaii) and Rob who works in Jackson, MI.

The Story Behind My Tattoo

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Cross Tattoo with 3 nails, flowers + Revelation 22v13

The Cross is the representation of Christ in my life, how He is the cornerstone for all things I do. It’s formed by the 3 nails used to nail Him to His cross. Behind it is a blue flower which is a Rose of Sharon, and a red one which is a Henna/Camphire flower. Both are found in the “Song of Solomon” in the Bible.

My husband is the Camphire/Henna while I am the Rose of Sharon, and our love is as eternal as God’s love for us. Below is Revelation 22:13 and this the second most important piece of my tattoo.

Before my husband and I married, we were searching to make God the absolute base of our relationship, but doing things impure and inappropriate before marriage. In seeking to correct our behaviors, a generational curse that caused unexplainable anger, outrage, and hatred for all things brought out of me to expose that I was possessed. Read more...

Your Love Has Set Me Free TATTOO

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I appreciate that not everyone likes tattoos, but...

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Christian Tattoo CrossWhenever I hear someone objecting to tattoos and uses Lev 19:28 as their “proof” I wonder if that same person is as conscientious about not “rounding the corners” of their hair and not “marring their beards.” (Leviticus 19:27) Same book, same chapter, one verse earlier.

I fully understand and appreciate that not everyone likes tattoos and, to be honest, some of them are offensive, sexist, blasphemous. But for me as a professional theologian, in training for 12 years, student of Biblical languages and Bible History, and Lutheran pastor for 31 years, what saddens me is how easily a Bible passage is ripped from its context, both in the book and in history and used as a weapon.

Leviticus contains moral law, civic law and ceremonial law, the last of which describes and prescribes sacrifice rituals etc. The ceremonial law, also known as the “Holiness” or “Purity Code,” uses a principle of separation, “clean versus unclean” for example, to separate the Israelites returning from Egypt from the Canaanites who were occupying the Promised Land. Read the whole book and you’ll get the gist of it.

The Canaanites were a wild bunch, whose “religious life” involved child sacrifice among other unseemly behavior. They, and other ancient middle eastern tribes practiced ritual cutting (see also Elijah and the prophets of Baal) as a means to appease the spirits of the dead. Hair also was offered (vs 27) again to appease dead spirits.
But look at what verse 28 says: “You shall not make any cuttings for the dead in your flesh nor print any marks upon you. I am the Lord.” For the dead, that is, as a sacrifice. Israel was to be completely separate from such things and as their later history would demonstrate, when they became involved in Canaanite religion or adopted their gods as minor deities, they became apostate, fallen away. That apostasy, according to the Biblical record is the reason behind their numerous wars in which they were overcome by their enemies.

Now as for the “cutting” itself. I wonder if those who oppose tattoos know that in the Old Testament, the words literally for making a covenant are “cutting a covenant.” A covenant is a sacred relationship, symbolized and solidified by sacrificing a large animal, cutting it in two (shedding its blood) and setting it afire. The two “covenanters” then walked through the blood and fire. There is historical evidence also that “cutting a covenant” involved each man cutting a few slashes in the upper arm, shedding his blood, and rubbing ashes in the wounds to make a permanent mark. Voile! A tattoo that served as a living reminder of the covenant they had cut.

So let’s get sane about this. Those who don’t want them, shouldn’t get them. Those who are offended by them shouldn’t look at them. And those of us, particularly Christians who wear symbols of their faith, need to practice
some discernment as well.

My tattoos tell my life story and when someone asks about them, I start with the cross on my wrist (the only one that shows when I wear a regular shirt) and if they are interested I show them the other ones on this webpage. They are a visible confession of faith. And since I’m in a touchy position as a pastor, I don’t let underage kids use me as a reason for their parents to let them get a tattoo. I tell them this: Make sure you can cover it so a future employer won’t discriminate in hiring against you. Don’t advertise what you aren’t selling (ie drug symbols, death symbols) and don’t put on your body permanently anything you’d be ashamed for God, your mother, your wife or your daughters to see. It’s just that simple. Before you quote the Bible, make sure you
know its context and remember, in the final analysis, faith is all about Jesus who bore the marks of His crucifixion for us. They were His ID—that’s why He showed them to the disciples after the resurrection. I’m going to ask to see those marks someday.

I’ll show Him my tattoos as well, confident that the one who shed His blood for me and who marked me with His cross in my baptism won’t turn me away.

Just some food for thought.
Pastor David, Michigan.


Revelation 19:11-16

From what I understand, this passage refers to Jesus and includes a detail that He has writing on His thigh...

Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords. - Revelation 19:11-16


Also check Isaiah 44 verse 5 (Interesting...)


The Body is a Canvas

Some people paint on a wall or a canvas. Some people paint tattoos on their skin. It really should be a non-issue. But artists are passionate and so are many Christians. Please read 1 Corinthians 8 and Matthew 15:10-20 for some more perspectives on this.

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