Friday, May 12, 2017

His Lionhearted Lamb

Self Portrait in Stitches 

On Mother's Day 2017, I will be interviewed during the Sunday morning service at River Church Charlotte. My Pastors, Derek and Sarah Turner, will give me an opportunity to share what it means to be a powerful woman and explain where my boldness and confidence to share originates.

When Pastor Derek asked, I was immediately reminded of the scripture which says
"The wicked flee when no one is pursuing, but the righteous are bold as a lion."
Proverbs 28:1

I come from a long line of "Steel Magnolias." 
I have always been a little bossy and bold. 
But, thankfully, my ABBA is refining those traits into Holy Boldness.
This redeemed boldness comes from confidence in my ABBA, Father God.

My favorite hymn comes from the  Herrn­hut­ter Chor­al­buch, 1735.
The lyrics were penned by Henriette L. Von Hayn at Hernhutt, Germany. 
The song was born out of a prayer meeting, beginning in in 1725 by the Moravians, which lasted twenty-four hours a day for one hundred  years!

Jesus makes my heart rejoice,
I’m His sheep, and know His voice;
He’s a Shepherd, kind and gracious,
And His pastures are delicious;
Constant love to me He shows,
Yea, my very name He knows.

Trusting His mild staff always,
I go in and out in peace;
He will feed me with the treasure
Of His grace in richest measure;
When athirst to Him I cry,
Living water He’ll supply.

Should not I for gladness leap,
Led by Jesus as His sheep?
For when these blest days are over,
To the arms of my dear Savior
I shall be conveyed to rest:
Amen, yea, my lot is blest.

I am His little lamb, 
When I bleat to Him for help it might as well be a ROAR. It terrifies my enemies. 
In fact, my ABBA will prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies to humiliate them. 

"You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. My cup overflows." Psalm 23:5

My ABBA says not to be intimidated by my opponents. This is a clear sign to them of my salvation from God. 

"Don't be intimidated in any way by your enemies. This will be a sign to them that they are going to be destroyed, but that you are going to be saved, even by God himself."
 Philippians 1:28

My simple, lamb-like faith is rooted in the love, mercy, grace, power and wisdom of my ABBA. Jesus is my righteousness and he says I AM the righteousness of God in Him. 

"For with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation." Romans 10:10

"For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ." 2 Corinthians 5:21

I am free from condemnation. 

"Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." Romans 8:21

I am crowned with loving kindness and tender mercies.
"Who redeems your life from destruction; who crowns you with loving kindness and tender mercies" Psalm 103:4

My heart has been sprinkled. (Baptized)
My heart does not condemn me, It is a NEW heart. 

"Let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water." Hebrews 10:22

My boldness is a sign of the merit of the Gospel. 

"Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have boldness before God." John 3:21

I was saved in 1983 and have been blessed to know many mature women saints I so greatly admire. In times past, I longed to be like them. Alas, it has eluded me. 
The thing I most admired about them was their regal deportment and their ability to dress someone down in such a manner that the person would almost think they were getting a compliment.

I have clearly not perfected that talent. 
I am more of a "call it like it is" kind of a person. 
And while I want my boldness to edify and exhort, my prayer is that kindness would be on my tongue. 
But speaking truth in love, we may grow up in all things into him, who is the head, even Christ. Ephesians 4:15

I am almost 60 years old and I am finally getting comfortable in my own skin, accepting the way Father God wired me. I welcome his loving pruning and refinement of my character and
  personality. I embrace His calling to be authentically me. I no longer compare myself to others or long to be more like people I will never be. 
I am me. 
His Lionhearted Lamb.

Monday, March 7, 2016

New Mercies For The Battle Weary

"New Mercies"
Acrylic painting on canvas board by Kathryn L. Berkowitz 2016

I remember my affliction and my wandering,
the bitterness and the gall.
I well remember them,
and my soul is downcast within me.
Yet this I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.”
The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,
to the one who seeks him;
it is good to wait quietly
for the salvation of the Lord.
Lamentations 3:19-26

Have you ever been through something that really left you feeling defeated, reeling with feelings of disillusionment, confusion, betrayal, or grief? 

There are some things that are beyond our ability to process on our own. 
We need a grid to interpret these experiences. 
I believe it is essential to understand that we are at war. 
We are in a spiritual battle for our lives. 

God is with us and has given us the armor of God and spiritual weapons of warfare to pull down strongolds. 
These strongholds are arguments, pretensions, philosophies or reasonings that set themselves up against the knowledge of God. 
We can take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ. 
In other words, we can judge an argument, thought or pretense by how it compares with the truth in God's Word. 

The armor of God consists of these things:

Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 
Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 
Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, 
with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 
and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 
In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 
Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Ephesians 6: 10-17

Every new morning, God's mercies are new and with that He bestows grace to begin again. 
Battle weary saint, you are precious to God and His mercies, ever enduring love, faithfulness and compassion can pick you up, dust you off, heal your wounds and give you courage for a new season. You have a future and a hope!

 I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. 
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. 
Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 
You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 
I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity.
Jeremiah 29:10-13

He will bring us back from captivity!

But here's the thing. Don't go out to battle without your armor or your spiritual weapons. 
Don't take on battles that don't belong to you. 
Wait on Him. Wait quietly on Him. Hope in Him. 

I remain confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the Lord.
Psalm 27:13 & 14

Monday, February 29, 2016

The Works Of Our Hands

About this sculpture: 
This is fabric collage over vintage plaster glove mold. Created for the "Show Us Your Hands" fundraiser for Arts Council of Lincoln County and Lincoln County Schools that, unfortunately, never happened. Still, I enjoyed creating this piece and hope to do another one, soon. 

Stop offering the parts of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness. Instead, offer yourselves to God as people who have been brought from death to life and the parts of your body as instruments of righteousness to God. 
Romans 6:13

If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life crippled, than, having your two hands, to go into hell, into the unquenchable fire.
Mark 9:43

Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord?
Who may stand in his holy place?
 The one who has clean hands and a pure heart,
Psalm 24: 3-4

Let the sweetness of Lord Jehovah our God be upon us, because of the works of his hands which he has fashioned for us, and he formed us among the work of his hands! 
Psalm 90:17

Take a look at your hands. Your hands are marvelous creations of the Most High God. We are created in the image of God. Romans 6:13 says we should offer our bodies as instruments of righteousness. Let that sink in. 
Because the Spirit of Jesus Christ lives in us, we are the righteousness of God, in Christ Jesus. Our hands are to be His hands in this world. 

Don't you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for you have been bought with a price, so glorify God in your bodies. 
1 Corinthians 6:19-20

I had an experience with God where I actually felt Him slipping into my hands, as if they were His gloves. I heard the Holy Spirit tell me to be confident, that He was animating my hands when I was doing the good works that He had prepared for me since the foundation of the world. It was a very moving and profound experience. 

As artists, we should be fully dependent on the Holy Spirit to flow through our hands. 
We have THE Creator of the Universe, living inside of us who has anointed us with skill and desires to be expressed through His creation. In other words, God desires to be expressed through your hands. 

Give Him your hands, go and advance the Kingdom !

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Effervesce : A Heart Plunged into the River

Creativity has always been my life’s passion.  It wasn’t until fairly recently that I became awakened to how central the desire to create was to my fulfillment as the person I was created to be.

   I was blessed to be the daughter of a beautiful, creative woman who encouraged me to try my hand at various creative endeavors. When I would embroider, doodle, paint, write poetry or play my guitar, I would feel focused, purposeful and accomplished. I struggled with depression and anxiety as a child, and still do. But when I am creating, I sense peace.

  This peace has followed me all of my life, the peace I know when I am colaboring with God, the One who created me to be creative. I now understand the reason for this, but it eluded me for  many years. I didn’t have a relationship with Jesus until I was twenty-five years old.  Up until then I had no category for the concept of being created for a purpose.  I thought that expressing creativity was just an enjoyable add-on to my life, but not something to which I could give all of my intention.

   I spent  a lot of time “trying to find my place in the Church body.” I didn’t understand that church should be a place that stewards and disciples artists. I had never really seen it done until I became friends with Linda, an artist who belongs to Morningstar Fellowship in Ft. Mill, SC.

   I attended a women’s conference with Linda,  sponsored by Morningstar, and the theme was creativity. I also read a book, called The Path by Laurie Beth Jones, which helped me form a personal mission statement. Here it is.  

To passionately worship Christ, my King
To be divinely inspired by Him
To skillfully create, and effectively communicate concepts
That will advance the Kingdom of God
In my own life, and the lives of others

  Many years later, I was introduced to a book called Unlocking The Heart of The Artist by Matt Tommey. In April 2012, I devoured it and could hardly believe that I had finally found someone with which I could relate on the subject of how to connect with God through worship and conceive something that I could give birth to and change the world.

These were powerful metaphors for me. During that time I was working as professional birth doula and birth educator. I understood that for conception required two individuals  coming together in an intimate way. I began to see how vital it was for me to come into God’s presence in worship and invite Him to place a dream or concept in my heart. I began to see it was my responsibility to fiercely protect and nurture these things until the appointed time that they should be birthed.

  The Holy Spirit led me to study of the word “heart” through the Psalms and Proverbs that same year. The word heart  means “The most interior organ, midst, mind, understanding, will, intellect, feelings, the center.”

One of the most important truths I discovered about my heart was this, from Proverbs 37:4

“Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.”

   I began to meditate on this. I began to realize a desire, placed in my heart by the Holy Spirit. The desire is this.  I want my art to glorify Him and speak of Him to the eyes and ears and hearts of people in a way that penetrates barriers and establishes righteousness.
I want people to have an undeniable encounter of His Presence, Love and Power.

   I have continued to express this desire to God.  He has started with my own eyes, ears, and heart. When I create with Him, for Him, I feel fulfilled, satisfied, filled with wonder and expectation and totally dependent on Him to bring the miracle of anointed creativity to pass.

  I am learning to stay connected to Him, to listen for His voice and to keep my eyes and ears open for inspiration, colors, textures, sounds, messages, and revelations of His love.
   I see myself as a vessel, which must be filled with the Living Water before I can be poured out. There is a season for filling and a time for spilling. As artists, it is important to know what season we are in.

  I have  come to appreciate how vital community is to the creative person.
I prayed about how I might facilitate this in my own community and the Holy Spirit showed me a picture of a heart, submerged in water with fizzy, colorful bubbles all around, and I heard the word, “Effervesce.” I believe this is a prophetic picture of a heart that has been plunged into the Living Water and is releasing the very life of God. It is a picture of joy, exuberance, vitality and exhilaration. I believe it is our inheritance to be in community with other artists whose hearts long for their intended design, even if they’ve not yet realized it ! Effervescence is like a chemical reaction for which creative folks can serve as catalysts for powerful reactions in the spiritual realm.

  It is an exciting life when your heart’s desire is to fully know and experience the love of God and to have that same love fully expressed through your creativity ! When I attended the Gathering of the Artists in 2013, I remember a dear sister, Aleona Isakova,  
challenging all of us with this statement. “When you get to heaven, He will ask you, “What did you do with My dream?’ If God put fire to your heart, you can create it!”
Those words resonated with me like a gong! In fact, just about everything about that weekend was confirmation upon confirmation that I was exactly where God wanted me,  and that He had created, chosen and equipped me to find my highest joy as a fearless, free, creative woman. To God be the glory !

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Healing Waters and a Pure heart

Pour over me water to clean all my intentions
Baptizing streams, I swim in the freedom of redemption
Floating on the sea of purity
Knowing I can dive in the love that rescues me

Healing waters, healing waters
Solace flows through the river of forgiveness to my soul
Oh, I need You, healing waters

From the song "Healing Waters"
By Michelle Tumes

This painting is the result of a dual creative endeavor between my husband, Bruce and me. 
He painted the woman, which is an abstract portrait of me, and I painted the water, sky, moon and stars. 
To me, it signifies the Mikveh, or ceremonial ritual immersion in water practiced by Jews as a purification rite. It is a type and shadow of Christian Baptism. 

Our Lord, Jesus Christ was baptized. 
And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, see, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting on him. Matthew 3:16
In the same fashion, baptized believers have this promises: 
Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. Acts 2:38

Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. Romans 6:4

I remember my baptism at First Assembly of God Church in Winston-Salem, NC. 
It is one of my most precious recollections. When I came up out of that water, I knew that I had a new heart. I had become a believer in Jesus a few months before, but something felt different after my baptism. The world looked different, people looked different, my heart was more tender and responsive to God. 

Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Hebrews 10:19-25

Monday, July 20, 2015

Dew of Heaven

Dew of Heaven : Watercolor

There are times when I produce a piece of artwork and I do not immediately know or understand the prophetic meaning. Today I asked the Lord about this painting, because I knew I was to blog about it. So, I asked my Father, "What meaneth this?" 
And immediately He answered. "It is the dew of Heaven."
So, I had to look it up. It is a wonderful thing. It is associated with great blessing and refreshing. 

May God give you of the dew of heaven,
    and of the fatness of the earth,
    and plenty of grain and wine. Genesis 27: 28

May my teaching drop as the rain,
    my speech distill as the dew,
as the gentle rain upon the tender grass,
    and as the showers upon the herb. Deuteronomy 32:2

So Israel dwelt in safety,
    the fountain of Jacob alone,
in a land of grain and wine;
    yea, his heavens drop down dew. Deuteronomy 33:28

When the dew fell upon the camp in the night, the manna fell with it. 
Numbers 11:9

It is like the dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion! For there the Lord has commanded the blessing, life for evermore. Psalms 133:3

A king’s wrath is like the growling of a lion, but his favor is like dew upon the grass. Psalm 19:12

I will be as the dew to Israel; he shall blossom as the lily, he shall strike root as the poplar. Hosea 14:5

For there shall be a sowing of peace; the vine shall yield its fruit, and the ground shall give its increase, and the heavens shall give their dew; and I will cause the remnant of this people to possess all these things. Zechariah 8:12

Our Father in heaven gives us great and many gifts. He says: 
"My son" ( and daughter ).....did you catch that ? 
The Creator of the dew of heaven calls you "Son".
"Incline your ear to my sayings. 
Do not let them depart from your sight;
Keep them in the midst of your heart.
For they are life to those who find them. 
And health to all their body."
Proverbs 4: 20-22

God is a loving and attentive Father who delights in blessing His children and heirs with something as simple and profound as the dew. Because of the dew of heaven, crops can flourish in the desert. 
Were it not for the dew, in summer, much vegetation and animals would perish. 

Let us give thanks for the blessing of the dew of heaven. 

Then the remnant of Jacob shall be in the midst of many peoples like dew from the Lord, like showers upon the grass. Micah 5:7

Monday, July 6, 2015

He Will Cover You With His Feathers

Feather: Mixed Media Sakura Ink and Colored Pencil

I was met with a challenge yesterday. 
Really, it was more of an invitation to know and experience the love of God like never before.
 The invitation was from God but came via His child, Jason Clark at River Church Charlotte

I am going to accept the invitation and show up with my whole heart.  
I am committed to believing that every good and perfect gift comes from The Father of Lights in whom there is no shadow of turning. 
My Father is not inconsistent. 

I am going to repent. 
I am changing my mind and the way I think by the power of the Holy Spirit, Who leads me into all truth. 
To repent means "to change one's mind" according to Stong's Greek Concordance. 

Original Word: μετανοέω
Part of Speech: Verb
Transliteration: metanoeó
Phonetic Spelling: (met-an-o-eh'-o)
Short Definition: I repent, change my mind
Definition: I repent, change my mind, change the inner man (particularly with reference to acceptance of the will of God), repent.

My mind is being renewed by Truth. 
I want every evil thought taken captive, and I want every lie exposed and rooted out.  

We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:15

I am going to be transformed. 

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2

Here is my new paradigm: 
"We are becoming convinced that His love is perfect, always good. We made a decision years ago that has empowered this conviction, even in the midst of heartache, disappointment and death – God gets all the credit for every good thing in our lives and none of the blame when things go wrong. - " Jason Clark

I am a recovering Calvinist. I used to believe that God's sovereignty equaled His control. 
God is Almighty, has all authority and He is Sovereign, of that I have no doubt. 

Sovereignty and Control are not the same thing. 

Here is the idea that needs to be run out of town. 
It's the idea that everything which happens is God's will. 
It's the accusation that God ordains sickness, poverty or calamity in the lives of His children. 

Let's get this straight. He's a good Father!
 If we can get this one truth settled in our hearts, we can overcome trials, crushing disappointments, unanswered questions and anxieties that lie in wait when we are all alone with our thoughts. This is when the enemy of our souls comes in for the kill, with fiery darts aimed straight at our hearts. 

The devil is an opportunist and the accuser of God. 
Have you noticed that he has nothing original to say? 
He is either accusing God by saying, "Hath God really said" or he is misrepresenting God by twisting the Scriptures. 
Here, we see satan tempting Jesus: 

He said to Jesus, "If you are the Son of God, jump! Scripture says, 'He will put his angels in charge of you. They will carry you in their hands so that you never hit your foot against a rock.'"
Jesus said to him, "Again, Scripture says, 'Never tempt the Lord your God.' "

The truth is this. God's Father Heart toward His people is kind and merciful, and compassionate. 
He is the God of all comfort. 

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 2 Corinthians 1:3

His heart is tender and full of love towards His children. 

He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings thou shalt be secure: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler. Psalm 91:4

 Have mercy on me, my God, have mercy on me, for in you I take refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed. Psalm 51:7

He found his people in a desert land, in a barren place where animals howl. He guarded them, took care of them, and protected them because they were helpless.
Like an eagle that stirs up its nest, hovers over its young, spreads its wings to catch them, and carries them on its feathers. Deuteronomy 32:11

May the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge, reward you fully for what you have done." Ruth 2:12

Your mercy is so precious, O God, that Adam's descendants take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
Psalm 36:7

I call on you, my God, for you will answer me;
turn your ear to me and hear my prayer.
Show me the wonders of your great love,
you who save by your right hand
those who take refuge in you from their foes.
Keep me as the apple of your eye;
hide me in the shadow of your wings
from the wicked who are out to destroy me,
from my mortal enemies who surround me.
Psalm 17: 6-9

On my bed I remember you;
I think of you through the watches of the night.
Because you are my help,
I sing in the shadow of your wings.
Psalm 63: 6 & 7

Are you beginning to get the picture? God has all authority and God IS love. 

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
1 John 4: 17 & 18

I remain confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the Lord.
Psalm 27: 13 & 14

Perfect us in Your Perfect Love Father !
We take refuge and find comfort under your beautiful feathers.