When God Speaks Through His Word and Our Art

The bold black ink on white canvas caught my eye.  As I walked under the shaded outdoor patio of Elevate coffee, I noticed a girl tracing the penciled words with a thin brush; “Wow, that’s beautiful,” I said.  I took a closer look; the canvas read, “For I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content”.

“Can I take a picture of it?” I asked.IMG_0644

She said yes and I clarified, “I’d like to show it to my husband.”  The phrase sounded pleasant though unfamiliar and I smiled.  I stretched out my hand and introduced myself.  My new friend’s name is Jasmin.  I promised her I would return to see the finished product.

God has done this before.  Once before Asa and I started dating, I was looking at his pottery on the shelves at Desert Dragon.  He had carved around his vessel the words: “Now the Lord is the Spirit and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”  The Lord had been speaking these words same words to my heart.  He was using them to make me desire holiness and freedom from sin.  Now, Asa and I had barely talked at this point.  In fact, I had seen him throw and had not appreciated his work.  It wasn’t until I saw his carved pottery that I realized how talented he is.  A couple days later, I apologized to him, “I’m sorry, but I totally underestimated you,” I said.  He smiled and proceeded to win my heart and marry me months later.

But the point of my story is that God speaks to us often through His Word and moreover, through art, which I love.  When I saw Jasmin’s canvas, I saw God’s faithfulness.  I know I can trust him.  Despite the fact that, last night, my husband and I talked about silence, uncertainty and money, I know I cannot falter in my heart when it comes to God.  Because he told me, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me”.  He reminded me of his Word last night.  And then, there it was today in black and white: “I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content”.

Inside of elevate, I found a friend from the ceramics studio.   “I just saw Asa last night at the studio!”  Heather hugged me and congratulated us.  We sat on the couches near the window.  On the other side friend continued working on her lettered canvas.  I felt in my heart something/someone say, “That canvas is yours.”  I continued to share pictures from the wedding.  My friend and I chatted for a while until I finished my Mocha Frappuccino and she needed to leave to pick up her kids from school.

I returned to my new friend Jasmin on the other side of the glass.  She was sitting with her finished canvas and her boyfriend, Washington.  I asked her why she picked that verse in particular.  “Sometimes God speaks a verse into my heart for that particular season of my life.  This is a time of transition for me and I felt like this verse spoke to that.”

“I love it,” I said.

Washington handed me the canvas, “It’s yours.”

Dear Lord Jesus, I always underestimate you.  I pray you continue to show me your faithfulness through your people, your Word and our art.  Thank you because you are not silent.  Give me ears to hear and eyes to see.  In your name, Jesus, Amen.

“Not that I am speaking of being in need, for have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.  I know how to be brought low and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.  I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:11-13IMG_0648

Blueprints: on Christ, Carpenters and our Fathers

 For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything.
Hebrews 3:4

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“The priest talked about José,” says my dad, “and about the Angel who told him he was more than just a carpenter.”

It no wonder why it’s this part of the message that sticks to my father’s mind.  He’s been in the business of building since he came to the United States from Mexico years ago.  My dad’s hands are rough like sandpaper and tough as nails.  Hard-work gives his life purpose.  Our house is always under construction.  I can imagine Joseph being the same sort of man, one eager to build a perfect home for his family.

Joseph must have had the hopeful blueprints etched in his heart.  A beautiful wife, a steady job, a couple of kids.  But all of his plans for the home he wanted to build are destroyed with the notice of Mary’s pregnancy and the knowledge that the child is not his.  Disheartened, Joseph is forced to end his relationship with Mary quietly.  So much for the perfect bride. So much for the perfect home he had in mind.  So much for his purpose.

Yet, suddenly, the Lord sends a dream, an Angel who tells him he is more than just a carpenter.  To be exact, the Angel says the following:

“Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins (Matthew 1:20-1).”

Here God presents a new blueprint: a plan for salvation.  This the bigger picture that fills Joseph’s life with purpose and meaning.

I love my father and I respect his desire to build a perfect home for the family he loves.  But I know that just like with Joseph God’s desire is to fill my father with a deeper purpose.  He is much more than a father, than a husband, than a carpenter. He is invited to participate God’s larger plan for salvation.  We all are.  And just like Joseph we simply need to accept God’s invitation.

Merry Christmas, Everyone.

Three verses to meditate (click link to view in context):

1. For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11).”

2. “But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth (Exodus 9:16).”

3. (This verse never grows old.  Look at it again.  It is powerful truth that can alter your life forever.)  For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son that whoever believes in him would not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).

Building Community in a Familiar Place

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Christianity tore my family apart from the beginning and it was painful. I remember telling my mother that I wanted to be baptised  She took it as an insult because she and my dad had already made the decision for me to walk with God when I was a baby. But I knew that it wasn’t her decision to make, and I had lived 18 years of my life in rebellion toward God. My dad didn’t take it well either. Catholicism is part of our Mexican tradition. In his eyes, to become a Christian was to cut off my roots. My little sister Karina wondered if Christ was worth all the arguments and heartache. Continue reading