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Worship stop

Here you can see a glimpse of Finnish! :) This is the Worship stop advertisement.

Here you can see a glimpse of Finnish! ūüôā This is the Worship stop advertisement.

I love my church, the Evangelical Free¬†Church of Mikkeli. During the summer we started these so called “Worship stop” -evenings, “Ylistyspys√§kki” in Finnish. (“Stop” coming from the allusion of a ‘bus stop’; a place to stay for a bit before continuing, and a place from where you can get on to different directions. If any native English speaker comes up with a better sounding name, please comment!)

Worship stop -evenings are to encourage believers to be active in their creativity, and to find ways to give their talent to glorify God. The time is only 2 hours, but it is so because we want to spend it¬†intensively in prayer and worship while we’re there. When the time is limited, it helps to keep our thoughts in Him, and to receive His inspiration and teaching. Everyone is reflecting the Holy Spirit in a way that is charasteristic to each, so we have painting, lyric writing, poems, worship dancing, etc. And of course someone leading the worship in flow. There’s no chit chatting during the hours, just experiencing the presence of the Holy Spirit and interacting with Him. Before we end, we share about what we have painted, written, experienced, and like this learn from each others’ experience, and get encouraged.

I see these evenings very important. Normally I don’t like to generalize things, but it seems as if many of us Finns are pressed down with our creativity ever since we were kids. I believe that in the background there is the fear of man. There must be thousands of adults in Finland, who recognize the creativity within themselves, but who have never, ever tried it in action! It can be that they don’t even know what their creative talent actually is, they just feel it’s there. Worship stop -evenings are e.g. as simple as The Place to learn to lift up your hands in worship, if you’ve been too afraid to do that. If you can’t yet walk, you can be on all fours, so to speak. We can start from the very basics of how to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit, how to recognize your talents and how to express them. But the point is, that we continue growing in creativity with the Lord, and take it always one step further. Glory to God!

Let go and let God

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Come out from the desert!

Come out from the desert and lean on your Lover

Come out from the desert and lean on your Lover. (Aquarelle on paper.)

As a believer you know, that sometimes God takes us to experience the desert. It is first and foremost, what we think, a spiritual desert. There we feel that we’re all alone, God doesn’t speak to us anymore. It can last for years, as harsh as it sounds, and get so severe lack of the Living Water, that one could even think about quitting the whole thing with Jesus. “If this is all You offer, I’m done, thank you!”. It could also be, that the enemy has convinced you, that the desert walk is your destiny and¬†that’s all you’re ever gonna get from God. IT IS NOT TRUE!!!

But the thing is, that if we really want to grow in faith, it happens in and through the time spent in the desert. Of course we can be like a piece of lard in a freezer, so to speak, you know what I mean? You just “hang in there” and give up, as long as you still get out some day. But to grow in faith is also about striving when you are experiencing the desert. We are good enough for God through Jesus Christ, that’s for sure, but if you want to be Spiritually victorious here on earth, you sometimes just need to make the decision to keep your head above the water level.¬†God has given us free will, and it applies also to how we decide to go through this experience. Do I really want to compromise my rightful place in Heaven, do I want to come through this time just barely alive, or do I choose to worship and relate with Him no matter what? Please, choose the “no matter what”, you can make it¬†through Him who strengthens you!¬†

This piece was painted during a worship session in July. I felt I was just by the door to come out from a very long time in a desert, and I saw the picture of me leaning on Jesus as He was walking with me the last miles. (He’s been with me, and you, all the time, but I felt as if He would’ve made himself visible to me only a little time before I got out.) So my dear, what ever you go through and what ever you do, don’t give up, as your oasis is already visible!

Symbols and colours: gold

Love

Esaiah 54:10 “For the mountains may depart, and the hills be removed; but my loving kindness shall not depart from you, neither shall my covenant of peace be removed, says Yahweh who has mercy on you.”

This piece of work is “Love”. It’s one of the three pieces that belong to “Faith, Hope, Love” -triptych. The ground is made with small stones. It represents Christ being on Earth as a regular human being. It also represents sin, which Jesus Christ has conquered through His death and resurrection.

The Bible verse that I felt to relate with this piece tells, that God has made with us a covenant, the covenant of piece. It tells me about Calvary, that is the exact place of the covenant that God made with the whole human kind. The covenant that overcomes sin and gives us the possibility to be saved to Heaven. The Bible teaches us clearly, that it is only through this covenant that we can be saved, covenant which is Jesus Christ himself.

The golden colour then. To me it represents God’s glory, His sovereign power, His kingdom, His victory, the kingship of Jesus Christ. Kevin J. Connor writes in Interpreting the Symbols and Types -book about gold like this: “symbol of kingship, kingdom glory, God or gods”.

Renewal of your artist’s mind

Romans 12:2 says "2 Don't be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what is the good, well-pleasing, and perfect will of God."

Romans 12:2 says “2 Don’t be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what is the good, well-pleasing, and perfect will of God.”

Would you agree that an artist is someone who more often than not experiences emotions and life in general¬†stronger than a John Doe? I think we are like… looking life through a kaleidoscope, seeing more colours where other people see just the “same old”. Or seeing the whole bar code where other people see just the big lines. Personally I consider it a massive blessing, though it does bring its challenges too.

What is the most important tool of a Christian artist? That is our mind. As a fine artist if you’re not able to keep the brush between your fingers, you can keep it in your mouth or between your toes or whatever ‘joints’ you have in your body. But if you’re not able to think and observe the world and life around you, and have a connection with the Holy Spirit, you’re complitely helpless as an artist.

What is the worst enemy of a Christian artist? Lack of inspiration? No! Inspiration comes and goes, but there’s something even more profound. That is the lack of renewal in our spiritual life, in our mind, soul and spirit. As an artist we experience the spiritual desert and challenges strongly, but God makes all the troubles worth going through (as He does for all His children), when He forms them in to a breeding soil for us to grow. Of course there is time to rest even from our creative level of life sometimes, but we can still have it going in our minds, even though the “Great Inspiration” seems to have taken a hike.

What I’ve found helpful in desert times is trying to be true to yourself, and keeping yourself open to the Holy Spirit. The day will come when you will find the drive back, but during the slower phase keep in touch with the Holy One and let Him renew your mind every day!

How God started with me

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Do you have it in your heart to tell about the Gospel but you just haven’t found your media yet? Or maybe you even know what your way to evangelize is, but the doors just don’t seem to open?

I’ll tell you how it all started for me, and maybe it can be encouragement for you too. So I had been doing miniature roomboxes for some years already before I came to faith in 2003. I had two small babies and was studying and trying to take care of the home. The desire to make the minis was… terrible. It took practically all the time when my hands were free. Along the way I started to feel that it wasn’t right, as it took my attention away from everything else: my family, studies and we also used to be a foster family for two teenagers who were living in the same house with us. But the biggest thing that was constantly in the background of my mind was, that it was between God and myself. I wasn’t able to grow in faith.

So I said “God. Take this awful itch to make miniatures away, or do something that I can make them with an easy conscience”. What a great, big, awesome God we have; He did exactly that! He had given me the skill to make miniature things, so much so that it became my passion. At this point I had already had many group and personal exhibitions around Finland, so I had it going with getting “secular” opportunities to show my art. But I will never forget the moment when it happened for the first time, that the Holy Spirit told me clearly what I must do…

I was in IKEA, London UK. Saw a package of 3 photo frames with different colours: orange, yellow and red. What I saw was a package of frames for beautiful miniature roombox displays. At the very moment my hand touched the package, I got three words: faith, hope, love.¬†When I got back home to Finland it was amazing how the Holy Spirit gave everything: colours, Bible verses, installations, symbolism, newspaper articles, materials, He told me e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g ¬†as the work progressed. When I was making a certain phase of the work, I didn’t know what comes next before it was time to move on. I haven’t experienced anything like that before or after that.¬† A real, genuine flow!¬†

Maybe I’ll write later about how you can learn to make¬†art with the Holy Spirit? At least I can tell how He teaches me to work with Him¬†through creativity. It is a whole different thing to paint and paint what He asks you to paint. ūüôā

Try again (like you’ve never been hurt before)

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“Love again like you’ve never been hurt before”. That’s a beautiful saying. Creativity within¬†an artist or a musician is a very private, genuine experience. So when it happens that you’ve been put down over and over again, how to turn it¬†to a breeding ground? Well, trust is something you might have to build again. But trust especially between you and God. He speaks in His word so many promises of taking care of you in different levels of life. As you are His child, you are entitled for full care take from His part! ūüôā ¬†Just “consider the ravens: they don’t sow, they don’t reap, they have no warehouse or barn, and God feeds them. How much more valuable are you than birds!” ¬†(Luke 12:24, WEB.)

Rejection and malign criticism to an artist that is just trying his/her wings to maintain his¬†own vision in his art, let alone in ministry, can be really devastating. There was a time in my creative life, when I felt as if I had a barrel hoop stuck around me so that I couldn’t move even my arms. The urge to spread the Gospel through the media that was familiar to me was so huge, but for some reason there didn’t come many people who could’ve been supporting my calling. Actually I don’t recall any. But it just wasn’t God’s time.

There are many, many fellow artists who are in or who have experienced this situation. I want to encourage you: do not give up! If you think it is God’s promise that is on the background of your internal urge, then your job is to press on and keep reminding God about His promise and proclaiming His will to be reality in your life. What ever you do, keep practising your creativity, you WILL bear the fruit when the time is at hand!

What is your PASSION?

arts group

Both of my two passions are included in this photo: Sub-Saharan Africa and creativity, praise God! ūüôā

I know very well how it is when you’re still not sure of your call. I waited for about ten years before I got the certainty, that encouraging Christians to use their creativity for God’s purposes would be one of the fields where God really wanted to use me. There were times when I actually was certain I had understood wrong.

So how can you know your calling then? There’s one thing that at least with us artists is quite a firm sign: PASSION. What is the area of your creative passion? If you know that, you already have a pretty good picture of what God might want you to do. At least what direction He might want you to start taking your steps.

As you’re taking these steps testing whether they lead to the right direction, God will open doors for you as you go further. You will meet many divine interventions in how things “just fall in place”. That is not “just”, that is God. ūüôā

God is such a fantastic Father, as He often uses our passions for His purposes! He hasn’t given any gifts to believers just for “entertainment”, but in order to be really used! Start being active in your creativity!

 

Married with the Inspiration?

running-inspiration2
Yeah. Living together with your Inspiration is a lot like living in a marriage. Once you’ve said “I do”, you’re going to spend the rest of your life with the same spouse, by default, that is. Think of your run-away Inspiration as a marriage: once you get the first wrinkle in love, it’s time for the “I do” -part. At that point the marriage is about our will, not the feeling, and this is very important.

So when your Inspiration is doing everything it can to avoid your grab, it is a lot if not all¬†about your will to get it back! (Unless you are willing to sit tight and wait when it shall return… in which case you’re reading a wrong blog! ūüėČ ūüėÄ ) At that point you need to take a grab of what ever cousins of Inspiration you’ve got left, and just start exercising what ever area of creativity it is that is your talent. Don’t let it get away with running away that easily, take a good hold and just go for it!

Symbols and colours: silver

Pocket watch above silvery sand.

Revelation 22:7, 12-13

This piece of work is called “Gotta watch? Gotta watch!”. It tells about how important it is for us to keep close attention to the “time”. We, as believers, have to keep watch of what is going on in the world, and on the other hand what is going on in our personal relationship with the Holy Spirit. We have to stay spiritually alert!

The second I saw the pocket watch in a second hand shop, the Holy Spirit told me what I was supposed to do with it. There is a so called “Doomsday Clock” in the University of Chicago. “It is an internationally recognized design that conveys how close we are to destroying our¬†civilization with dangerous technologies of our own making. First and foremost among these are nuclear weapons,¬†but the dangers include climate-changing technologies, emerging biotechnologies, and cybertechnology that could¬†inflict irrevocable harm, whether by intention, miscalculation, or by accident, to our way of life and to the planet.” (Bulletin of the Atomic Scientist, 2016)¬†

At the moment this post is written, the Doomsday Clock shows 3 minutes to midnight. The Bible verses related to this piece of work are

Revelation 22:7, 12-13 “7.Behold, I come quickly. Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book. 12.Behold, I come quickly. My reward is with me, to repay to each man according to his work. 13.I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.”

Of course the lion that is pictured in the clock represents the Lion of Judah to me. And last but not least: the silvery colour then. It represents God’s victorious Army, His omnipotent Being, and the victory of God’s Kingdom. This is my personal interpretation of what the colour (or mineral) silver speaks to me.

Silver appears in the Bible e.g. in Exodus 30:11-16 where the silver shekel was the most common means of payment, each israelite was to pay half a shekel as ransom for his soul to Yahweh. In the book Interpreting the Symbols and Types Kevin J. Conner interpretes silver (pg. 23) as “Price of a soul” and also “Redemption money” according to Matthew 27:3-9, where Judas had sold Jesus for 30 pieces of silver.

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