You’re Custom Made

This guest post comes from our friend Keni. Keni is a fantastically talented artist and is passionate about sharing the gospel through his art and design work. You can check out his website at www.keni.com.

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This year I will celebrate my 60th birthday. There was a time when I was in my early 20’s when I thought that I would not live to see my 30th. You’ve probably heard the ‘deliverance from drugs and a life of sin when I accepted Jesus as my Savior’ testimonies.

There certainly was a time when I thought all the vices I had would kill me, but I stopped doing them (almost all) before I came to Christ. Instead, I began to believe that a life of emptiness would kill me had it not have been for my art. In a crazy way, my art became my drug, or my ‘god’ as they say in Christian circles.

Several years of freedom from drugs and living like a lunatic allowed my mind to clear up enough to come to another frightening realization; that not even art could be fulfilling.

When I finally invited Christ into my life, it took about six months for me to finally be convinced that He was truly all the Bible and anointed Christians said He was. I didn’t make a deliberate decision to stop painting, but I found that it was so much less satisfying than getting to know Jesus that I didn’t paint for a year.

When I finally picked up a paintbrush again, I had a real reason for doing so outside of myself.

I once heard a Bible teacher say that God doesn’t care what profession you choose. The preacher said that God only called apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. If you’re not called to the ‘5-fold’ ministry office, pick something and just do it.

I’m glad Jesus told the ‘Parable of the Talents’ (Matthew 25: 14-30). That tells me that everyone has been given talent(s) according to our own particular abilities. In other words, God custom made our talent(s) for us.

The late missionary, David Livingston said, “If a commission by an earthly king is considered an honor, how can a commission by a Heavenly King be considered a sacrifice?” We should hold hold in high esteem those called to be apostles, prophets, evangelist pastors and teachers, but it should be no sacrifice to live life in service to God and man with the talents He has given us as artists. It is indeed an honor and privilege.

– Keni

The art of Cas Smith

Recently on facebook I met an artist called Cas Smith. Cas is a teacher as well as an artist who uses her gift to worship God and share the gospel. I asked Cas to write a little bit about herself and about her work.

I doodle and paint because I have to, it’s a compulsion, it’s something I do because I can’t not do it. Everything I create is an expression of my relationship with God, it’s ups and downs, frustrations and submissions, the reality of faith. I tend to paint figuratively but not in a realistic sense, the figures can become highly simplistic and distorted, often with a focus on the hands. With hands we can hurt or heal, it’s a choice much like faith. A lot of my images are highly personal and mark my walk with him, but relevant to so many who are on that journey with Christ as well. I’m constantly aware that sometimes we dress Christianity up in sugary sweetness and an “everything will be wonderful if you just believe” attitude rather than being real about the messiness of life. Supporting and walking with each other through that messiness.

The scariest and most liberating way of painting is during worship and ‘live’ art sessions. During a gathering, I’m led by the Holy Spirit to put an image to canvas, or doodle in a book in that space where he’s already at work, leading worshipers/seekers to a place where they meet with him, it’s immediate and of the moment. Generally when I do paint during worship, I tend not to talk to the speaker before the meeting, this would influence the image and would become contrived and forced. Instead it’s about giving the Holy Spirit free reign to move and work. This can make things sound ‘airey fairey’ but I’m constantly amazed by the way this turns out, how God works through an image and meets with people and draws them closer to him.

I doubt that my work would ever be displayed in the RA, but that’s not what it’s about, it’s about ministering to other people and leading them on in their walk with Jesus. The ‘live’ art sessions are also pretty much on the same lines but a lot more low-key, it’s really subtle, quietly ministering to people in the modern day meeting places, entering into the spiritual conversation of life. Taking Jesus out of the 4 walls of church into the streets, or in my case the coffee shops.

To see some more of Cas’s work, check out her Flickr.

– James

Andrew Page

The paintings above are all painted by a man named Andrew Page. Andrew contacted us recently and has an amazing and very inspiring portfolio of work which can be seen on his website. About his artwork Andrew says “Art is a powerful tool to reach people with and portray a message where other ministries can’t go.

– James