Celebrating creativity! Images from Elim workshop and from House of Bread, Shipston, workshop this month. Amazing stuff!
While you're with us, why not take a moment to check out the Original Paintings page to find some fantastic bargains?!
Now for the Bible blog...................
'Nana,I'm not going to see you again for a very long time.'
'O, why's that?'
'I'm going away for a very long time. I've said good-bye to my friend and we hugged.'
She frowned as she spoke and had her 'serious ' look. This was not a moment to giggle. Four days away is a very long time to a three-and-a-half year old.
I began to think about time and our perception of it. 'I'll only be a couple of minutes,' he says and ten minutes later (sometimes longer) you're still waiting......What about those set times you're given to attend? Do you arrive five minutes early so that you don't miss anything or are they simply guidelines - it'll all happen in due course? How are we supposed to make sense of those rare once in a lifetime travel events when we lose a whole day or gain one? Difficult isn't it? Especially if like me you're not in the slightest logical or scientific. Sometimes I just have to bow to the fact that's just the way it is. We each live within our own time boundary, put in this point of human history for this time.
So it may come as a big surprise when we read in Scripture, 'In the beginning God.....'(Genesis 1:1 NIV). I remember when I first read those words all the 'Who? What? Why?' questions came to mind. These are easy words to simply flip over like, 'Once upon a time' in a children's fairy tale. But, when we read on in Scripture we learn a lot more about God, His interaction with a variety of folk all through history. For instance, about 1500 BC a man called Moses met God and asked God His name. 'I Am.' was the reply. Note the present tense. Moving on to about 700 BC the prophet Isaiah had these words:
'I am God. Yes, and from ancient days, I am He.'
'I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God.'
'I am God, there is not other. I am God, there is none like me.
I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come.' (Isaiah 43:13, 44:6, 46:9-10 NIV)
So we learn from these words that God lives outside time - living in the present 'I Am', the past, 'the Ancient One' and knowing the future 'what is still to come', all at one go!
Then came Jesus. Jesus had a lot to tell us about God. He called God 'His Father' and told wonderful stories about His extravagant love. Perhaps one of His most famous stories is recorded by Luke, a doctor by profession and a first century Christian convert.
Jesus told the story of a son who demanded his inheritance from his father while his father was still alive! His father gave him the money and the son left home to go to a different country where he spent the lot on wild living. Unfortunately, there was a famine in the country so he got a job on a pig farm. It was there, exhausted, penniless and hungry, he came to his senses and said to himself, '...I'm going back to my father. I'll say to him, 'Father, I've sinned against God. I've sinned against you. I don't deserve to be called your son.. Take me on as a hired hand.'
So the young man made his way home. But look at what happened next! The son knew he didn't deserve anything after what he'd done. At best, he hoped he would be able to work on the farm as a hired hand. But, that was better than what he was experiencing right now!
'When he was still a long way off, his father saw him. His heart pounding, he ran out, embraced him and kissed him. The son started on his speech, 'Father, I've sinned against God. I've sinned against you. I don't deserve to be called your son ever again.'
But the father wasn't listening. He was calling to his servants. 'Quick. Bring a clean set of clothes and dress him. Put the family ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Then get a heifer and roast it. We're going to have a feast!.....My son is here - given up for dead and now alive! Given up for lost and now found!' And they began to have a wonderful time.' (Luke 15:18-24 The Message)
Wow! What an amazing Father this is! Watching out. Waiting patiently for His lost sons and daughters to return home. Even though God is outside time, He's not remote. He's longing for relationship. God is watching all of His creation carefully, intently, waiting for a response from His created ones - His ultimate creation - that's us!
Has anyone else had this happen in their garden? This foxglove hasn't quite made it!
The sketch is a bit of fun I couldn't resist doing!
Many years ago during the last century, my sister and I would look forward to the highlight of the week after school on a Friday evening - our very favourite T.V. programme -'Crackerjack.' 'CRACKERJACK!' we would shout with the school children on the screen. The best part of the show was the Q&A game. Half a dozen junior children standing on podiums, still in their school clothes, boys in shorts, girls in dresses - this was the early 1960's, black and white T.V. as well! A right answer won a small prize, a wrong answer won a cabbage - a seemingly very large one! All of it had to be held in some way. It was a bit of a juggling game for the children as the items mounted up and somehow they still had to remain balanced on the podium! One dropped cabbage meant the end of the game for that child. The winner was the one who managed to hold it all together and answer the questions. That child would get the opportunity of a toy from a large box, but - the best bit - everyone won a coveted Propelling Pencil! Wow!!
My mind returned to 'Crackerjack' very recently as we went through a particularly busy time - I'm sure I dropped more 'cabbages' than I should have done! There seemed so many things to prepare and do that at the end of this period my brain felt full to exploding of all the experiences. A useful phrase was coined by a friend - 'I need to unpack my head,' but how??
OK - I could go and grab a spade and dig a big hole in the garden. Perhaps that's a bit drastic. Go for a long walk or run - or what about a particularly gruelling workout in the gym? Scripture talks about even this! The apostle Paul was training a young church leader, Timothy and wrote this to him (about AD 64):
'Exercise daily in God - no spiritual flabbiness please! Workouts in the gym are useful, but a disciplined life in God is far more so, making you fit both for today and forever. You can count on this. Take it to heart. That's why we've thrown ourselves into this venture so totally. We're banking on the living God, Saviour of all men and women...' (1 Timothy 4:7-10 The Message)
So what does 'exercise daily in God' mean?
By the time Paul wrote those words to Timothy, Paul had completed three arduous missionary journeys around the Mediterranean, taking about twelve years - starting a church at each stopping place, building a team to run it, then moving on. He was by now in his late middle years, so the advice he gave Timothy were forged from hard experiences. In one of his letters he gave a picture of what he had endured:
'People are watching us as we stay at our post, alertly, unswervingly.....in hard times, tough times, bad times; when we're beaten up, jailed, mobbed; working hard, working late, working without eating;....when we're telling the truth and when God is showing His power; ...terrifically alive, though rumoured to be dead; beaten within an inch of our lives, but refusing to die; immersed in tears, yet always filled with deep joy; living on handouts yet enriching many, having nothing, having it all.' (2 Corinthians 6:4-10 The Message).
If this was a small snapshot of his life, then 'unpacking his head' was clearly very important! The best way he found to do that was to 'exercise daily in God.' One of the ways he did that was through Prayer. We get glimpses of the way he prayed in his letters. They're littered with spontaneous, heart-felt prayers: 'I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, ' he wrote to the Ephesian church while he was under house arrest. After a long theological discussion, Paul wrote, 'O the depth of the riches of the knowledge and wisdom of God!...For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory for ever!Amen!' to the Roman church.
He prayed constantly for the fledgling churches and told them so to encourage them, giving thanks for them, even when they seemed to be pulling apart. 'I always thank God for you,' Paul wrote to the squabbling Corinthian church 'because of His grace given you in Christ Jesus.' (1 Corinthians 1:4 N.I.V)
Reading these prayers, you get the impression they come from the depths of his being - there's nothing flippant or half-hearted about them, even though his circumstances were often extremely difficult. 'Pray continually,' he told the Thessalonian church. Through prayer he was able to remain focused on what he was about - following Jesus and completing the task at hand. 'Imitate me' he wrote to the Corinthians,'as I imitate Christ.' (1 Corinthians 11:1 N.I.V)
Paul was saying, 'This is foundational. This has helped me through all my trials and difficulties. It will do the same for you.'
Even for us - right now in the twenty-first century. So why not give it a go?
Two powerful images in Coventry centre right now - hands held in unity and the Knife Angel.
Then there's my latest painting - 'The Life Light'. Come and visit our latest exhibition as part of the Belvoir Art Trail. You'll find us as part of Kooroon @ the Old Sorting House, Bottesford, NG13 0AA. Love to see you there!
Soft white snowdrops, crocus in blues and yellows, bright yellow daffodils almost shocking in the Spring sunshine. After all the greys of Winter, Springtime heralds COLOUR! Plants are waking up after their dormancy. That's one of the things I love about gardening. I'm constantly learning to keep to its natural rhythms - planning ahead and maintaining, even when , as so often happens - you get thrown a 'curved ball' and everything seems to go pear-shaped!
Something new is always going on in the garden that invites curiosity and exploration - it's a highly creative process. I was given a brilliant book recently where the opening quote read, 'I wonder what my soul does all day when I'm at work.' (Graffiti seen in London, from 'Alive at work' by Daniel M. Cable - a must-read!!) My heart went out to the person who wrote those words. His creative spirit had obviously been shut down and he was on auto-pilot.
My mind went to a beautiful vision given to the prophet Ezekiel:
'The man led me back to the bank of the river. When I arrived there, I saw a great number of trees on each side of the river. He said to me, 'This water flows towards the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah, where it enters the Sea. When it empties into the Sea, the water there becomes fresh. Swarms of living creatures will live wherever the river flows.....But the swamps and marshes will not become fresh, they will be left for salt.' (Ezekiel 47:6-9 NIV)
Life feels like this sometimes. There you are happily going along in the 'fresh water', where exciting and new things are happening. Suddenly something goes wrong and you find yourself in a dead end with no prospects and seemingly, no way out - the 'salt marsh'. You watch those still in the 'fresh water' going by. Now what?
One story that may help to answer is from the book of Acts. The apostle Paul and his companions were travelling from Syrian Antioch to Greece. They stopped over a few days at Philippi.
'On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there. One of those women was named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, who was a worshipper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul's message. When she and the members of her household were baptised, she invited us to to her home. 'If you consider me a believer in the Lord,' she said, 'come and stay with us.' And she persuaded us. (Acts 16:13-15 NIV)
An intriguing moment. One of those 'being in the right place at the right time' moments. Here was Lydia, a business woman and a 'worshipper of God' but with no synagogue or church to belong to.She seemed to be single so could have been a freed woman, widowed or divorced and under Roman law if she had at least three children, she had certain privileges, one of which was being a business woman. Lydia was a 'dealer in purple cloth' - a very lucrative business at that time. The dye was extracted from marine (murex) shellfish and was difficult to manufacture, making it very expensive - more than the price of gold! However, there was a great demand for it for the official Roman toga. So Lydia was a woman of wealth and influence. Despite her wealth it seems she was searching for something deeper and more meaningful. She was a 'worshipper of God' but perhaps that's as far as life was going right now. Nothing seemed to be changing. She was stuck in a 'salt marsh.'
Suddenly, Paul and his companions enter into her life and everything changes. Paul explains the Gospel message and 'the Lord opens her heart to respond.' She must have listened attentively as the words filled her deepest longings. Both she and her household were baptised there and then!
We read later:
'After Paul and Silas came out of the prison, they went to Lydia's house and met with the brothers and encouraged them.. (Acts 16:40 NIV)
As a result, Lydia and her household became the nucleus of the Philippian church.
What a changed life! There's something ironic about a wealthy woman dealing in fine purple fabric for Roman leaders finding out about a greater Royalty, Jesus, who's only purple robe on earth was worn just before His crucifixion. He belonged to a different kind of Kingdom where the least are first and power is in weakness!
'You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man (Jesus) did not come to be served, but to serve and give His life as a ransom for many.' (Mark 10:42-45 NIV)
So Jesus rescued Lydia from her 'salt marsh'. As you read this, where are you right now? If you're in a salt marsh what about following Lydia's lead and accepting the Lord's invitation?
A new painting for you to see - 'Come. Drink.' While I was painting, our frogs were very busy..........................!
'They're through!' I gazed in wonder and delight at my newbies - tiny leeks, tomatoes and, surprisingly - carnations and hollyhock seedlings. If you've never planted seeds, you wouldn't understand the massive ripple of excitement that goes through me when I see new seedlings pushing their way through the compost. My mind races ahead to the, hopefully, bumper crops of tomatoes in the summer, bottled for the winter months, or the glorious scent of sweet peas. (They're not through yet!) Gathering up the harvest is a few months away yet. In the meantime, I have to keep close watch over the seedlings, as they're delicate, fragile and vulnerable to fungal diseases. They need constant tending - the right amount of light, warmth and water. Get it wrong, and I'll lose them!
Seeds themselves are a wonderful feat of God's creativity. Locked inside the protective coat is the potential for a root, and then a shoot to grow; the root pushing downwards for stability and nutrients and the shoot upwards heading for the light. In the right environment, the plant will reach its full potential, flourishing, fruiting and producing its own seed. But what happens to the seed coat? That gets left behind to decompose in the earth.
Jesus talked about this. He said:
'I tell you the Truth, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed, but if it dies, it produces many seeds.' (John 12:24 NIV)
Of course, Jesus wasn't giving a lesson in botany at the time! He used everyday life to explain His Way of life. His was a different way - some call it 'counter-cultural'. Jesus was inviting folk to follow His way. He went on to explain:
'The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me and where I am my servant also will be. My Father will honour the one who serves me.' (John 12:25-26 NIV)
These seem very hard words - especially if you've just read them for the very first time. But sometimes through our lives we reach a full stop. Maybe the job you've enjoyed - along with its lifestyle - is coming to an end, plunging you into uncertainty. A relationship you hoped would work out has abruptly ended........ Suddenly you're at a 'full stop' in your life and crying out, 'There's got to be more to life than this!'
Jesus offers us this promise:
'I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.' (John 10:10 NIV)
The promise Jesus is offering here isn't about a full diary and super-busy life (that may lead to possible burn-out !), he's talking about a different kind of Life. This is a Life that is abundant in every kind of way enabling the fullest potential for now and for future eternity. Jesus the Rescuer offers to take us away from our 'full stops' in life to offer us a life of following him - the way of sacrificial love for others. This is all about leaving the old ways behind to walk a new path to reach fullest potential as Jesus intended. This is a life-time project! Remember how long it takes for a small tomato seed to finally grow, flourish and produce its own fruit and seed? About six months. Just for fun, what about an oak tree from a small acorn? About fifty years!
All of this was brought home to me this last week when I was talking to a young woman of about thirty who had recently been baptised as a Christian. Her life had been completely transformed from shy, purposeless and living a lonely life in her flat to now bubbling with life. She said she had a new sense of belonging and value. She no longer felt lonely, even though she lived alone. Her new self-confidence gave her a new purpose in life - she'd even applied to go to college - something she never dreamt she could do! Her new confidence to live her life to its fullest and now follow Jesus was beginning to take shape!
So what about you, reading this right now? What about accepting Jesus' invitation for a super-abundant life?
One of my first paintings, but just felt it right for this month's blog - enjoy!
'We're going to the mooon!'
So, with a cardboard box, a cone for the top fashioned from paper, paper triangles to steady the rocket when it lands on the mooon..........'We're nearly finished making it.....' Oh, the excitement! Jumping up and down, clapping and laughing. Then my young granddaughter suddenly stopped and said, 'But nana, how will I get in?' Of course, we need a door! So the bottom of the tube-like box is undone. Plenty of space for a little person. We need provisions: a fluffy pink handbag with little girl essentials, a set of very small cymbals (?), crayons and notepad (very important), a small cake and a favourite friend. We're ready to go! The joy of a three-year-old's imagination!
That same excitement is captured in the Bible when the Lord speaks to Job:
'Where were you when I laid the earth's foundation?
Tell me if you understand.
Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!
Who stretched a measuring line across it?
On what were its footings set
or who laid its cornerstone -
while the morning stars sang together
and all the angels shouted for joy? (Job 38:4-7 NIV)
Wow! What an amazing picture of our Creator God at work, with singing and excitement going on all around Him! The pinnacle of the Lord's work though, was in creating man. In the first book of the Bible, in Genesis, after God had created the earth and the cosmos and found it all to be 'good', we read this:
'Then God said, 'Let us make man in our image, in our likeness and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth and over all the creatures that move along the ground.
So God created man
In His own image,
in the image of God
He created him;
Male and female
He created them.' (Genesis 1:26-27 NIV)
We get a bit more insight a little later:
'The Lord formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being.' (Genesis 2:7 NIV)
This wasn't a chance moment of creating man. This was intentional. God had an idea - 'Let us make man.' Then comes the moment when God gets His hands dirty - scooping up dust to create and form the man 'in His own image.' If you've ever watched a fine craftsman potter or sculptor of clay at work, you'll get this picture. This took time, refining and perfecting the finished work. But this wasn't going to be a statue on a plinth, God had a very real purpose for this being. He was to be responsible as steward for the beautiful earth God had made. So we read God 'breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and the man became a living being.' This was an intimate moment. The first thing the man saw was God. And God was well pleased with His created works. We read, 'God saw all that He had made and it was very good.' (Genesis 1:31 NIV)
Right now you might be reading this and thinking, 'Rosa, that's a great story!' and leave it. But others of you might be thinking, 'There's something in that. I get ideas too.' Whatever you think, the fact is creativity is in our DNA. The saying goes, 'Like father, like son.' Just think, everything around us started with an idea that was then formed and made. The Creator God who created in the past is still creating and will continue to create into the future, many times using us, His created beings.
Anything created starts with an idea or even a heart-felt longing for better or different.'It shouldn't be like this. If we did it this way.......' We've been given a responsibility to continue that creativity, but so often, maybe way back in our childhood, the ideas and imagination that was, was suddenly put on shut down, never to recover. The conformity that takes over in adulthood, the storms and trials of everyday living take over.
What happened to that idea that you had all that while ago? Does it still stir emotions within you? Isn't it time to release it and create what you have in mind? Remember - only you can do it, as you've been given the idea! What's stopping you?
Christmas brings with it opportunities for different creativities! Fiddly fun making dolly's new clothes - note pockets on waistcoat matching with skirt and bag! Very swish! Then with the creative team at church, this is our Winter wonderland foyer ready for the Carol concert - which you can watch! Go to UTube Elim Coventry livestreaming 'Let there be Light' - enjoy!
'How many's that?'
'Don't know. Lost count. About fifteen, I think.'
It was January 1st, about 9.00 am (honestly!) and we'd decided to reline our leaky wildlife pond.The slow leak obviously didn't worry our resident frogs as we went on to find perhaps another fifteen or so of various sizes, including three oversized ones that looked as though they were about to give birth! We also discovered a long, creeping insect I suspected to be a dragonfly larva. All very fascinating!
Anyway, after carefully moving everything out, we put in the new liner and returned the frogs with their water and thick, black mud back into the pond. Phew! A good morning's work. The rocks were returned with just one more to go. 'That's it, love - right there,' I said, But this rock slipped through Roger's hands.
Thwack! Oh no. Right through the liner........
At the time of writing this, we're awaiting a pond repair kit...................
One thing I love about gardening is that there's always something new, different or challenging to learn or discover! Much like Christianity - it vibrates with newness!
Over two thousand years ago - a very long time now- two little boys were born in Palestine, very unexpectedly a few months apart. They were cousins. The elder was called John. The younger was named Jesus. They grew up to lead very different lives, but both were 100% focused on their life mission. As adults, we first meet John, at first sight a strange character living out in the desert:
'While Jesus was living in the Galilean hills, John, called 'the Baptiser' was preaching in the desert country of Judea. His message was simple and austere....'Change your life. God's kingdom is here.'....
John was dressed in a camel hair habit tied at the waist by a leather strap. He lived on a diet of locusts and wild field honey. People poured out of Jerusalem, Judea and Jordanian countryside to hear and see him in action. There at the Jordan river those who came to confess their wrong-doings were baptised into a changed life.
'I'm baptising you here in the river, turning your old life in for Kingdom life. The real action comes next: the main character, Jesus......will ignite the kingdom life within you, a fire within you, the Holy Spirit within you changing you from the inside out.' (Matthew 3:1-2,4-6,11 The Message )
Jesus Himself was baptised by John, so starting His ministry. Both were young men, about thirty years of age. Both came to tell everyone they could about the New Era, but John recognised that he wasn't going to be centre stage. In fact, his life was cut short soon afterwards. His role had been to prepare folk for what was to come. He knew Jesus was ushering in a whole new way of life - a life changed 'from the inside out.' This was something very new.
Jesus' ministry was very short, just three years, working as a rabbi with a rag-tag group of twelve disciples He'd chosen, including a tax collector, a zealot and a few fishermen - not the usual educated young men that the other rabbis had! Jesus healed the sick, touching both lepers and the dead. He gave dignity and honour to women and children. He taught with authority a whole new standard of life, loving others with a servant heart. His brutal death proved not to be the end, though. His Resurrection brought in the New - the 'ignition' John had talked of - the Holy Spirit. Jesus had told His disciples before He died, 'I will ask the Father and He will give you another Counsellor to be with you forever - the Spirit of Truth.' (John 14:16 NIV) The Holy Spirit came at Pentecost to empower, equip and send out the disciples to tell others of this new way of life.
This message has come down through the ages to us today. This invitation is for us all. What better way of starting a new year than to accept a new and different way of life, changed from the inside out?
For your diaries..................
Three Worship Art Workshops at the House of Bread 2019!
Please go to our Events page for details......Thanks!