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Monday, 13 June 2016

The Dove

Late one evening as I was leaving my upstairs retreat room, I noticed a white dove had settled on the windowsill outside.  I wondered at its beauty and purity and considered whether or not it was in distress.
The following morning it was still there so I considered offering food and water.  However, it took off, presumably refreshed from a nights shelter; the weather was inclement after all.
On considering this I felt honoured by this 'visit' and was immediately reminded that a dove is the symbol of peace.  Had God sent me encouragement for this time of being a peacemaker I wondered?
Whenever I have a Spiritual picture my first consideration is to look to the Scriptures for insight.

Leviticus 1:14-17 “‘If the offering to the Lord is a burnt offering of birds, you are to offer a dove or a young pigeon.  The priest shall bring it to the altar, wring off the head and burn it on the altar; its blood shall be drained out on the side of the altar.  He is to remove the crop and the feathers and throw them down east of the altar where the ashes are. He shall tear it open by the wings, not dividing it completely, and then the priest shall burn it on the wood that is burning on the altar.  It is a burnt offering, a food offering, an aroma pleasing to the Lord."

This is such a beautiful picture of the purity that was Christ in His sacrifice for us; such broken beauty.

Psalm 55:4-8 ’My heart is in anguish within me; the terrors of death have fallen on me. Fear and trembling have beset me; horror has overwhelmed me.  I said, “Oh, that I had the wings of a dove! I would fly away and be at rest.  I would flee far away and stay in the desert; I would hurry to my place of shelter,  far from the tempest and storm.”

No matter what life might throw at us, we need not fear or flea the storm if we stand firm on the solid rock that is Christ.  He will enable us to withstand all.  Some of you will be aware that I have been painting about this recently.

'Standing On Rock'

Song of Solomon 6:9 ’But my dove, my perfect one, is unique, the only daughter of her mother, the favorite of the one who bore her.  The young women saw her and called her blessed; the queens and concubines praised her.’

Once again the reference is to beauty and purity.  It was the purity of the dove that attracted me to it. The white was spotless.

Isaiah 38:14-20  ’I cried like a swift or thrush, I moaned like a mourning dove.  My eyes grew weak as I looked to the heavens.  I am being threatened; Lord, come to my aid!” But what can I say? He has spoken to me, and he himself has done this.  I will walk humbly all my years because of this anguish of my soul.  Lord, by such things people live; and my spirit finds life in them too.  You restored me to health and let me live.  Surely it was for my benefit that I suffered such anguish.  In your love you kept me from the pit of destruction; you have put all my sins behind your back.  For the grave cannot praise you, death cannot sing your praise; those who go down to the pit cannot hope for your faithfulness.  The living, the living—they praise you, as I am doing today; parents tell their children about your faithfulness.  The Lord will save me, and we will sing with stringed instruments all the days of our lives in the temple of the Lord.’

I love this description of the anguished soul and the appreciation of the Fathers love.

And finally I remembered the dove as a symbol of the Holy Spirit.  Pure, beautiful, gentle.  Easily it will fly away if disturbed?
I pondered on the possibility that God was reminding me that He has given me the Holy Spirit to comfort and equip me through the current difficult journey.  I think so.

After a while I began to imagine that I had seen a dove on my windowsill as the experience was so unreal, but there outside on the sill was a ’deposit’- just a little something the dove had left behind as proof!  Now not wanting to overdo metaphors I was going to omit this part of the story, but it stayed with me and tickled me somewhat.  Then a friend (unrelated) sent me this scripture for encouragement:
"Now it is God...  who anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come."   2 Corinthians 1:21-22 NIV
The New Living Translation puts it:  '... placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts as the first installment that guarantees everything he has promised us.'  Wow.
Now, whenever we put a deposit on something, it generally means we mean business; we intend to see it through to the very end.  After the resurrection, Jesus left us to be with the Father but not before he had left a deposit - the Holy Spirit, and God will indeed see this thing through right to the end. How wonderful a truth this is.

I hope you have enjoyed my journey through the scriptures relating to this beautiful bird.

Please visit see my finished work.

Saturday, 4 June 2016

New Work

Today I'm priming canvases ready for a new body of work and after yesterday's initial priming I just want to paint.  However, the surface is rough, the canvas is showing through in places and the white is just not white enough.

As a student during a lecture on colour we were shown a slide and asked what colour it was.  We all agreed - it was white.  Then the next slide was shown; now that really was white.  Finally after about ten slides we realised that the first slide was in fact yellow!
Priming takes time and so does preparation for Gods purposes.  We might think we are refined but further down the line, looking back we will see just how raw we were.
So I put myself into this process.  I'm even painting the edges - the bits nobody but me will see.  This is important.  You could say I'm throwing love into them; these canvases are becoming precious to me - beautiful. And I am getting excited about what I am to paint on them.  The truth is that the whiter and purer my canvas is, the more my work will reflect the light.  And as many of you will know, I love to paint about light.  I want to glorify God with my work and for it to in some way reflect Him.

Running my hand across the surface, I feel some flaws.  Recently I saw a master weaver running his hand across yards of fabric he’d just woven. Asking what he was doing, he replied, ' I'm feeling for imperfections.’  This is what I'm doing with these canvases.  Anything not dealt with now, will be detrimental to the finished work.  I might run a pallet knife across with a beautiful colour but there in the middle will be this unfortunate mark caused by some defect that has not been seen to.  What a beautiful picture this is of us and God.  We are His handy work.  God likewise knows us, feels our imperfections, and if we are to glorify Him, these flaws have to be dealt with.  Taking sandpaper to my canvas seems a bit harsh but it has to be done.  
Another reason for priming is to prevent impurities from the wood seeping through later and spoiling the finished work.  This can take years to come to pass but how sad it would be to see a beautiful work spoilt further down the line by some hidden stain.  We as Christians do not want our 'old nature' or character flaws spoiling something beautiful that God might want to use us for.

I've recently been romping my way through the Bible in 90 days.  My daughter asked me to do it with her! It was a big ask, but because of the rapid pace we had a sense of the whole story.
In Leviticus I was blown away by the Holiness of God.  What He wants and what He simply will not allow is laid out in meticulous detail.  He is Holy.  Much is put into place to maintain Holiness and man can simply not achieve this standard alone.  As the story unfolds I noticed also that God was protecting the people from Holiness: 

‘When the priests return to the outer courtyard where the people are, they must take off the clothes they wear while ministering to me. They must leave them in the sacred rooms and put on other clothes so they do not endanger anyone by transmitting holiness to them through this clothing.’  Ezekiel 44:9   Now this puzzled me somewhat because we are called to be Holy.
'For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.”'  1 Peter 1:16

I put this to my daughter and she simply said,  'But mum, we have the cross.'  Of course!  The cross of Christ makes sense of it all.  In fact as we read on we began to get impatient for the cross because we noticed that the sin and failures of the people were grieving God’s heart so much.  We saw just how much He needed to send His son - Jesus.

Put in simple terms, in the Old Testament, only the high Priest was allowed to enter the most holy place after he had been made ritually clean and that was only once a year.  He was tied with a rope in case he had to be pulled out.  It simply was not safe for the ordinary people to enter!
But now, because of Jesus, we can boldly come right before Gods throne and enter in.  We have been made holy by His ultimate sacrifice for our sins.  Our sin now being covered, it is safe to ’take on’ His holiness.

Coming back to my priming.  Whenever I prime canvases the primer gets everywhere - it just about ’contaminates’ everything I touch as I always seem to get it all over myself!
My daughter went on to say,  'How wonderful would it be if God’s glory and Holiness got all over us to the extent that everywhere we went and everything we touched spread His glory about, and in turn brought glory back to Him?’
Now I'm up for that, are you?

My challenge is: are we prepared to undergo this long process of refinement even if it might be a painful process?

'For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.' Ephesians 2:10

Sunday, 1 May 2016

'Light Upon The Waters'

‘Even though life has incessantly thrown tempestuous waters at me, I still know that You are there. Your light shines upon the water.'

After a winter of storms and standing at 'the end of things' I chose to paint. This is the result. 

This Is Jesus

This is Jesus.
A man of grief and pain.
Knowing rejection. 
He was stricken and afflicted but without blame. 
Seated once in heaven above.
One with the Father,
A Man of love. 

But He came. 

The father’s son, 
His only one.
Becoming flesh, vulnerable, undone. 
Broken by pain, 
and my shame.
taking it all. 
Dying for me. 

The chosen one, in whom God delights.
Bringer of justice a
man of might.
He does not Crush.
He does not Quench.
He opens dungeons; has the key. 
He sets men free.

Yes He came. 
He came.
Jesus - the one who takes my Sin and 
Dying, broken, He proclaimed,
’It is finished’
’It is done’
And rising bought me back again 
to the Father.

This is Jesus.

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

The Storm

So many broken things,
so many shattered dreams.
Fractured bones,
Sinew torn,
Strength gone.

How would you love such a broken thing?

You made me,
formed me,
had such plans,
took great delight in your precious one.

But how could you love such a broken thing?
How could you love me?

Noise of wing.
Usher in the King.
Trembling and astonished,
not one missing,
not one lost.
Moulded anew into shape and form.
Sinew and flesh,
fresh breath upon the torn.

Made holy. 
Washed clean,
refined by fire.  
Held firm in the storm; battered, but not torn.

Now Concealed, hidden in the sanctuary of His love.
My head held high,
close to His loving breast.
You hide me in the shelter of Your very presence.

This is love,
This is how you have loved me. 
This is how You have loved me.

Petrina Kent 11/4/2016

Thursday, 31 March 2016

Digging anyone?

I bumped into one of the men from the allotments in the supermarket the other day and he was teasing me for not tending to my plot. Well it's one thing being teased but one doesn't want the shame of being a neglectful gardener! Or to be talked about behind the potting shed come to that! Besides, any amount of issues might arise if the plot is left unattended for any length of time. So off we went to the allotments to start digging. Now digging is a discipline believe me, it's hard work, but it does have to be done.

I have been romping my way through the Bible recently; my daughter having challenged me to read the whole thing in 90 days! ’Your kidding.’ I'm thinking; seriously? 90 days? But I heard myself committing to it regardless and off I set. It can actually be read through in 80 hours so I'm told but in reality, all that's needed is a bit of discipline. I'm happy enough to spend an hour or so eating each day so why not munch on the scriptures at the same pace? Why not? Anyway, I set about it and have been digging so many interesting morsels from it that I've been well and truly nourished.

Coming back to the allotment - it was in a bad way, weeds and overgrown grass prevailed. But there in the middle were these amazing cabbages. Sown as tiny seeds last spring - a long time ago they were nurtured and planted out. But this past winter has been a harsh season of storms and trials of many kinds. I feared they might come to nothing. These cabbages however, had put down their roots deep into the rich soil, had fed on the winters rains, they had let the sun shine on them and they had flourished in the harsh conditions. They are now full and tender in heart, robust in spirit and full of goodness! And they will share their richness with others; I shall eat one tonight! 

And as we dug we found all sorts of other fruit that had grown during the hard winter - sweet parsnips, made sweeter by the frost and a few onions, even a potato. Disciplined though one might have to be to dig, it does have its rewards! 

’So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.’ Galatians 6:9