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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

TIMES OF REFRESHING

 
A Russian memorial of a descive win over Germans in a WW11 battle

It has been a week of color and the smell of oil paint mixed with turpentine permeating the whole house. Two friends from England, one from NYC, and two Ukrainain artists filled my studio to craft 3D portraits out of flat canvas.

Every day we arose with one thing in mind; it's time to paint! We all went to bed with brushes still clinging to our hands like clutched swords in the heat of battle. There was definitely the look of war on our hands as paint indelibly stuck under fingernails. Up one day at 4 am we raced in the dark to a previously selected spot to paint a plein air landscape. Sleep was not a factor this day, everyone was way too excited. In fact sleep was the last thing we were thinking about. We were determined to catch the rising sun's first Orange rays beating down on a sole Ukrainian farmhouse, built right in the middle of a field. 


In waist high grass easels were set up in haste, while already mixed paint was pallet knifed out to each artist. It was not long before both house and light were captured in oil and we were heading back for bacon and eggs and the smell of great coffee brewing. Noline, was the star of the week. Her meals were wonderful. She was and is a great trooper. Thank you sweetie for supporting us with you delicious food. It has been a wonderful time allowing the creative juices to flow one stroke at a time. Everyone has left. They waved goodbye well satisfied with their weeks work. It is now that I get the chance to sit down at the computer and describe for you the joy of serving a great God who delights in giving you the best He has. 

Up to their waist's in grass

No sooner was this week completed with all the hectic running around to airports, painting, sightseeing and food preparation and I am back to packing for Western Ukraine and the revival meetings in Ivano Fronkievsk. This is where it gets interesting. We are so conditioned in performance for acceptance that during this awesome week of painting I allowed the enemy to get to me. He would bark in my ear, "you have not prayed enough for the upcoming services. God will not be with you as He has been in the past." More than once I just had to stop and rebuke this lie of the enemy. Now it is a fact most of the preaching that is done today is in some way conditional, even when mixed with huge doses of grace. There is this “thing” in side all of us that we have somehow got to work a little harder in order to please God. If we are not fasting, or reading, or studying until the candle is burned out, God will not hear your prayers.


With the object in sight they paint

Let me illustrate this in a different way with Buster my dog. I love this dog, he is a strong and very smart German shepherd. The reason I love him so much is because he is hard wired to please. For instance, he took a nap in our bathroom but the door closed behind him and he was stuck in there for a couple of hours. When he was discovered he ran excitedly throughout the house nudging us with his nose and just about wagging his tail off his body. He was so thrilled to be with us again; it was as though we had been gone for months and he had to show us just how excited he was. I had to more than once calm him down. Like I said, 'he's hard wired to please.' That’s why I love him and why I hate him. Since he is always exuberantly trying to please you, he is a constant reminder of just the kind of people we are. We too are always running our lives around in circles trying our hardest to please God. I am not saying don’t be excited about the Lord, but what I am saying is that I do not have to try to please God and constantly seeking His approval by my works.
No let up for these dedicated artists

In Ivano Frankievsk we are having a multi-church baptism by the river this Saturday. Watch for the video clip. This is a first for this religious laden area. I will be preaching on the white sands to families and members of ten small congregations who are participating. My text is Act 3:19. Peter calls for repentance and conversion of the Jewish listeners where approximately 5000 were converted in one day. Peter said there were times of refreshing for all who turned to God. The Greek transliteration makes this point very clear as does the Puritan writer Thomas Brooks. In fact God anxiously awaits to have the opportunity to pour out revival upon His people. In one act of true heart felt turning to Christ, God will pour out His abundant love and power upon you. 
Checking for "Values"

The King James calls this “times of refreshing.” But as I have mentioned, the literal transliteration is “an opportunity to believe God and have revival come to your life.” This revival of promised blessings is backed up by the historical records of the Old and New Testaments.

First, there is the record of one and a half million people going through the waters of baptism as they walked through the parted waters of the Red Sea. Immediately on getting to the other side God destroyed their enemies. This is a life giving promise to those plagued by a harassing enemy. God will fight for you against all attacks. Then there is a second promise. it is the destruction and down fall of stubborn strongholds in our lives. The walls of Jericho collapsed supernaturally right after another generation of Israelites came through the waters of the Jordan River. This was a type of their baptism. So you too can have the confidence that no matter how impregnable the issue at hand in your life might be, God is willing and ready to bring it down. Lastly, we see in the New Testament, Jesus receiving an open heaven after He was baptized. In other words, communication with His Father would be unhindered. Nothing could come between Him and His Father. We too are now privileged to have God's open heaven for uniterrupted communication with Him through Jesus Christ. 
Pam, from England, doing a great job


Packing up after a hard morning of work

Peter calls all of these “the time or opportunity of God refreshing His children.” These blessings are unending, just as God's mercies are unending and new every morning. God gives us these because we simply choose to believe Him. Therefore, without faith it is impossible to please Him. So as I make preparations to travel tomorrow by overnight train to Ivano Frankievsk, I go with the confidence my God is with me, He is not against me. He fights my enemies for me and brings down every stronghold fortified against me. He alone gives an open heaven to all who trust in Him, and it is His delight to shower us again and again with His mercy and love. Today, stop trying to please God in your own strength. Like a good Italian pastor once preached; “just stop!”  

Enjoy these few photo's and rest in the loving arms of Jesus. 










New and lasting friendships were made from across the globe
















1 comment:

  1. That is a fun filled experience indeed! Having the time to paint with fellow painters is fantastic! Thanks for sharing this!

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