Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The WAY, the TRUTH, and the LIFE


the WAY,

the TRUTH,

and the LIFE.


It was true when He said it then -- it is still true today.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Designed by the DIVINE DESIGNER

It is written, "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him." (I Cor 2:19, NLT)

The Labor of Love, the mural on Midway Baptist Church's cafeteria wall (the Wall), was "designed" by GOD. In hindsight, too many "GOD-stops" happened (as Beth Moore would classify these unexpected blessings or "GOD's little miracles") towards the making of this project as to make them mere coincidences.

The assistant pastor asked me to do the Wall project last year, but i was already set on traveling back to Fiji within two to three weeks time. i was too busy and the wall was too big a job...i had no prior experience to painting what seemed to me a humongous amount of empty space. Door-size was my limit at that time.
In Fiji, GOD opened up opportunities to practice "big painting." i painted a room-size wall (14' x 10') in Vidawa, a tiny village in Taveuni. Also two smaller walls in Matei for an American couple. So with these under my belt, i felt confident when the pastor asked me this year to do the Wall.
During the first three weeks in July, ministries from out of town came to the church. They used the church property as their home-base as they went about planting churches or interacting with the homeless or evangelizing to Spanish speakers. They all used the cafeteria for meal preparations and through all this, they saw me painting. We fellowshiped, we shared personal information...and they fed me. They nourished me with their food and their friendliness. i was blessed indeed!

It was very hot during the weeks that i painted (July to early August). But the building was built in such a way that i was provided shade by the second-story overhanging floor. Coincidence or GOD's gracious providence?

The scenery included clouds, rough seas and big waves, boy and girl surfers, palm trees and flowering plants. The Wall was rough stucco, with bumps and nooks and crannies.
After i painted the sky two shades of blue, i painted in the clouds, highlighting the cloud formations created by whoever plastered on the stucco. Another coincidence? i don't think so...
The waves were already there too. After i painted the tropical sea colors, i just had to find the wave patterns on the stucco and highlight them with "cotton fluff" white. The end-result looked like breaking waves.

When i was painting the girl-surfer's face, i couldn't quite get it right. Imagine trying to paint a smooth-skinned, rosy-cheeked, suntanned young girl on stucco. i prayed, "oh GOD, help me please! i need you again!" Again, because i have been praying, talking to Him all along as i painted, thanking Him for the job, for the church's day camp kids chit-chatting with me, for the out-of-town teens and their youth pastors' fellowship, for the food they shared with me. And for GOD helping me with the painting...He gave me the ideas on how to paint the clouds and the waves, what colors to use, how to blend this or that shade...He gave me the skill to do the vision He had put in my mind.

GOD gave me everything i needed to do the Wall. Food. Shelter. Company. And the talent to accomplish what He had already designed for me to do even before it had even entered my mind.

Was it coincidence that the girl's nose and mouth were outlined in the stucco?
Or the boy's ears just perfectly situated on the stucco too? Or the two perfectly heart-shaped bumps? (i have a special joy whenever i see heart shapes--in blobs of paint, in clouds, on people's clothing or accessories--anywhere and everywhere, i see them. Without the abiding SPIRIT, would i even notice these hearts? To me, silly ol' me, it's GOD, it's JESUS, letting me know He's around, that He loves me. When i notice hearts, i just smile and say aloud or in my heart, "i love You, too!"

GOD knew i was going to do this project. He knew i wanted to glorify Him and His Word with this work. And He blessed me in many ways, more than i've listed above.

He taught me that the Wall was secondary to the bigger blessing--the blessing of getting to know more believers, of making real connection with the folks at church who maintained the facilities, of talking with the school kids who paraded past the Wall every day, of holding real conversations with the few who took the time to examine the Wall's progress, of witnessing to those who had not yet seen the Light of JESUS.
The Wall was GOD's instrument to expanding and deepening my relationships with my church family. The faces that i saw only on Sunday and Wednesday services became real people to me. The Wall was the conversation piece that started the ball rolling. i was given much encouragement and complimentary remarks, but i have to reply with, "it really is all about GOD. He was the true Designer behind the Wall. i just followed through...He led all the way!"

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Labor of LOVE

Labor of LOVE indeed! This wall mural at my church took over a month of painstaking work. It's all about GOD. From the very start, He was the driving force...the Designer. He had this project mapped out from conception to finish. All i did was do the footwork.

GOD gave me the vision to see the design, He gave me the skill to wield the paintbrush, and then He gave me the patience to go at it inch by inch 'til it was done. And the message on the Wall is:


Ever changing,
ever in motion.

Like a constant ebb and flow,

The tide of life
is ever on the go.

Waves, big and small,

never do they cease--

At times,

even rouge waves,

GOD does release.

But do not fear,

For GOD is near--

Overwhelmed, do not be,




we ride





Design on the surfboard: SPIRIT of GOD, Love, Joy.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

i Can -- Through CHRIST

i have learned how to get along happily whether i have much or little. i know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. i have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For i can do everything with the help of CHRIST who gives me the strength i need. (Philippians 4:11b-13, NLT)

Living in the bush of Taveuni, i experienced the "little" by bathing and washing clothes in a river, living with no electricity, no tv, drinking river or rain water, using an outhouse surrounded by tropical greens and blooms; but i also experienced the "much" by staying at ritzy hotels in London and Paris. i know the "full stomach," having lunched at the restaurant at the top of the Eiffel Tower or having gorged myself nearly sick at countless buffets in San Diego. And i've experienced the "empty" living poor in Nigeria; sharing my tin of tuna with my cat, Sable, during those lean times in the bush of Taveuni; and having just peanut butter on bananas or plain ramen soup as a solo backpacker.

Through it all, in times of plenty or little, GOD graced me with His presence and protection--He strengthened my faith in His goodness by always giving me what i needed from day to day. Today, i know that i can do all things through CHRIST who strengthens me. He is the Source from which i draw strength when i am weak, for in Him, i am strong. In CHRIST, i am indeed rich, though possessing little.

The ARTIST of My Life

The Lord GOD is the Artist of my life...

i am but the brush with which He paints--
the rainbows after the rain,
the silver lining in the clouds,
the flowers that brighten my path.

The Lord GOD is
the Potter of my life...

i am but the clay beneath His hands --
that He shapes for His good works,
that He forms according to His good purpose,
that He fills with His Holy SPIRIT.

The Lord GOD is the
Master Craftsman of my life...

i am His creation, a saint being sanctified --
He sculpts my form to please His sight,
He smooths out the rough edges,
He perfects my self-induced imperfections.

The Lord GOD is the Artist of my life,
He is the Potter, the Master Craftsman.
i stand amazed, i am in awe --
that the Almighty Creator, GOD of heaven and earth
is my Father...and i, His child.