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The Art of Worship

Title: The Art of Worship
Artwork by: Paris Krahn (@pariskrahnart)
Description: 
When I first became a Christian, I didn’t really understand how to worship God. I sang songs on Sundays, and tried to be “Christ-like” in my outward actions, but my heart wasn’t willing to follow God’s will.

I didn’t understand that worship had to begin with growing closer to God in a relationship, and inviting Him, even in the struggles of life, to transform us. (Ezekiel 36:26-27) Worship essentially is the eager and proper response from a heart won over in gratitude, adoration, reverence, repentance, obedience, trust, and desire for more of God. But even if we fail, He is faithful and is willing to give us the grace to begin again. Knowing this, how can we not live our lives for Him in endless worship?

Now I am pursuing God’s call to paint and share my love for the Word of God with others. My goal isn’t just to make pretty artwork, but to point people toward the Author of creation and the Word, and consequently, worshipful living.

 

REDEEM OUR LAND

This piece reflects a prayer I had for God to “heal our land”. However, In order for God to heal our world, we have to let Him into our hearts. He’s the God who will meet us in the muddiest of valleys and willingly breathes new life into us. We don’t need to be afraid to open our secret hearts to God, because He is ever patient and overflowing with grace. He will redeem what was once dark and lifeless into something purposeful in His kingdom, and transform us into new creations who are truly alive!

 

 

HEAVEN’S SONG

“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge.” (Psalm 19:1-2)

Creation bears proof that we have a brilliant Creator, but it also sings back to God in worship, though seemingly silent. God hears the sound of creation loud and clear–it’s an endless Halleluiah. Creation teaches us to praise, even in the dark night or mundane moments. How beautiful it is that right now we can join an ongoing chorus of worship and connect with The Life Breather.

 

 

MEET ME IN THE MORNING

Psalms 143:8 is a morning prayer of reliance. When we rise, we revive our hearts with God’s unfailing love. When we face mountains too hard to scale, or when another day daunts us, He gives us the strength to move forward. What I love most about this passage, is that when we read His word, He speaks life into our weary souls.

“Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust. Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.” (Psalms 143:8)

 

 

BUTTERCUP

This was the first painting I did after having a baby. I felt inspired to work on it when I sensed God calling me to “begin” again, just as I was, and paint. Completing it gave me the confidence to officially sell my art professionally. Though the original face has been now updated, I feel like it describes my style now, celebrating growth and the worthy pursuit of God’s call in our lives.

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10)

 

Ivan David Ng: Displaying Love and Art Amid Hostility

It was his first time on a plane. Flying 15,000 kilometers from his home in Singapore to the mid-Atlantic region in the United States, where he would spend the next four years, Ivan David Ng was excited about his newfound freedom and eager to embrace new experiences. But the young artist would soon find out that being a Christian in a foreign land—what more, in a fine arts university—would be one of the most challenging experiences in his life.

Today, Ivan is back in Singapore, as an up-and-coming artist who has exhibited his works both in the US and Singapore. He recently graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Painting from the Maryland Institute College of Art, where he was the commencement speaker for his cohort.

Throughout the two-hour long interview with YMI, the 26-year-old exudes joy and confidence when sharing about his art and faith. But things were not always this way, he tells us. In his freshman year, he was confronted with culture shock, personal challenges, and opposition to his faith.

In his first week of school, a faculty member openly ridiculed him for being a Christian. His philosophy professor had asked everyone to introduce themselves and to share what helped them make sense of the world. When it came to Ivan’s turn, he explained that it was his faith, having become a Christian at the age of 17. His professor promptly responded that she thought religion was “very insensitive, illogical and intolerant”.

This hostile reaction was a rude awakening. But Ivan soon found it becoming a weekly occurrence. Any mention of his faith, Jesus, and going to church on Sundays was met with patronizing smiles, awkward silences, and the occasional eye roll. “I felt like I was thrown into a furnace, it was extremely difficult for me,” he adds.

Throughout his time in university, his close friends teased him frequently about his faith and the choices he made for his belief—especially when it came to his sexual conduct. One of the more memorable comments he received was, “Did you put on a chastity belt and throw the key away?”

He says, “When I first got there, I felt like Elijah . . . am I the only Christian here?” When Ivan tried to seek out other Christians in the college, he stumbled upon a small Christian fellowship on campus. They started to meet regularly.

“It was a time of ministering to one another, loving other people together, and supporting one another in prayer,” he adds. “Once there was strength in numbers, I didn’t feel alone anymore and we started serving the people in campus together. We became Jesus’ covert hands and feet in a place where people didn’t want anything to do with Him. The support of these Christian friends was how I stayed Christian.”

 

Expressing love in a hostile environment

The hostile secular environment and several failed attempts to reach out to friends using traditional methods, however, made him rethink his approach to evangelism. “It’s not so much about standing up for what you believe, but more of just loving people that God has placed around you,” he says. “If I can love them so much and want their salvation so much, what more God? I’ve learned to be prepared for long-term gospel work and enjoy them genuinely as friends—that’s evangelism in that context,” he explains.

The key, he says, was to be emotionally invested in his non-Christian friends and learn to enjoy their friendship and company. He says, “Often, as Christians seeking to reach our friends, we feel the responsibility to give to our friends emotionally, spiritually and even materially. But how often do we allow these non-Christian friends to give to us? In a real friendship, this goes both ways. Otherwise, these friends we are trying to reach out to become ‘projects’—and they feel it.”

“These friends supported me when family members passed away while I was far away from home . . . if they sometimes want to tease me for my faith, so be it! I know they love me,” Ivan says with wide grin. For him, the right to speak about the truth found in Jesus had to be earned through a long, faithful friendship, where love and mutual enjoyment has been consistently demonstrated.

Over time, some of these relationships bore fruit. When a friend who often laughed at Ivan for his faith faced a major personal problem in his life, he turned to Ivan and asked for prayer and counsel. The incident encouraged Ivan immensely.

 

Experiencing God through Art

Besides the shift in his perspective on evangelism, Ivan experienced another change. Though he was a painting major, Ivan discovered that he was more inclined towards material-based and tactile processes. Slowly, his work took on more three-dimensional forms. “I liked to do things with my hands. Sculpting gave me more satisfaction as compared to painting,” he shares.

To Ivan, his art and his faith are intertwined. He says, “My art is essentially about my faith . . . If I were to talk about themes surrounding my art, it stems from a search and longing for God.” He draws inspiration from landscapes, and enjoys working with natural materials such as stone, handmade paper and clay. Referring to them as “toys that God leaves behind for me to discover”, he says, “In putting these materials through processes that transform them, I feel that it is God leading me on a journey of discovery and wonder.”

His passion and joy in creating his art is evident as he excitedly explains and shows off pictures of his art pieces, one of which is a sculpture titled Are You In Love. Pointing to the grey stone, he says, “I cut open a quartzite stone I picked up from a construction site, only to discover that the stone was shiny and glittery on the inside, although its surface was dull.”

Titled : Are You In Love

To Ivan, using the materials that God created and designed in his art is a form of worship. “As I create, I am merely reflecting my Creator. As I work with these beautiful materials that He has in the first place created, I acknowledge God as Creator and I recognize myself as collaborating with Him,” he says.

That said, he urges young Christian artists not to feel the pressure to always make their art a tool for presenting the Gospel. “I don’t intentionally weave the cross into my work, although the work by nature bears witness to God in creation. Sometimes when artists use art as a direct, literal Gospel tool, it ends up being cheesy because people already know where it leads. They don’t feel invited into a deeper conversation; instead, some may feel that the work is lecturing them. It closes up conversations instead of opening them up,” he explains.

He hopes young Christian artists can learn to enjoy making their art and “find God’s fingerprints in their making of art”. “God is always involved—it’s whether you’re conscious of it or not,” he says.

For Ivan himself, art is a springboard for relationships and for long-term Gospel work. He says, “Enjoy the people your pursuit of art takes you to and see those relationships as Gospel opportunities. Perhaps that’s the way we can be witnesses for Jesus as artists.”

 

Christ In Me & In My Art

Title: Christ In Me & In My Art
Materials: Painting and Illustration
Description: 
These ten original gospel cards are my way of sharing the gospel, for like Peter and John who could not help speaking about what they had seen and heard (Acts 4:20), I am not ashamed of the gospel because it is the power of God that brings salvation to all who believe (Romans 1:16). God willing, He will use my art to spread the knowledge of Himself.
Artwork by: Flora Tan (@theflowerandthegardener)

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Cards are available for sale at flowerandgardener.weebly.com

The questions of why we exist and where we are headed to, are age-old questions that I have often found myself contemplating. Over my twenty-two years of existence, by the grace of God alone, have I been able to find answers to these questions because I slowly came to the realisation that He had written a love story to me.

I know what it’s like to have dug my own cisterns; broken cisterns which fail to hold water and have left me thirsty and wanting, rendering my attempts at constructing an identity for myself altogether fruitless. Some cisterns held water longer than others, leading me on a in a false illusion that I had finally found myself until the cracks that were already there gave way to water gushing out at my feet. So I went in search of new soil where I could dig anew, only to find myself wandering aimlessly in a trackless waste.

It was only when Jesus Himself took me by the hand to His fountain of life-giving water that I experienced a freedom from human strife to prove myself. I realised that Jesus had been faithfully tracking my footsteps through the wilderness I had rushed headlong into while also filling my heart with a fullness of love I had never known until He came into my life.

Paul declares in Philippians 3:7-9, “But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him…” These words resonate deeply within me and have profoundly shaped my life’s purpose because I now make it my mission to know Christ and grow in my knowledge of Him. The gospel of love and salvation He has given us has made such a mission worth pursuing. It is through the life and death of Jesus — on the basis of what He has done and who He is — that I see all of life as God planned for me.

Yet joy is incomplete in merely knowing. When you are truly delighted in something or someone, you seek to make it known because it is only in sharing it that your joy is made complete. This is where my passion for the gospel blooms from – in a desire to make Jesus known. A single-minded pursuit to know God is invariably bound up with a passion to share the knowledge of Him with others, and in so doing, I have come to know Him all the more. It is in the riches of such knowledge that I have chosen to steep my drawing, illustrating, and painting – for what good is a gift if it is not used to advance the gospel and proclaim Christ?

I set myself to the task of using art as a means to share the gospel with others, after an incident that happened during my church’s easter outreach. I had felt God prompting me to give a hand drawn card depicting the empty tomb of Jesus to an old man sitting by the fish pond. It turned out that he was an art teacher and an instant connection happened as we talked about the card. Our conversation eventually led to one about our lives — our hopes and fears — and ended with a prayer. I realised how art could be such a powerful medium to share the gospel because colours, shapes, and lines are a universal language that anyone can appreciate. Being able to use a talent for the gospel has filled my heart with such joy and purpose.

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#ColourToInspire

Title: #ColourToInspire
Materials: Marker pen, paper
Description: Last 2015 marked the beginning of a new trend – adult coloring books. Many have found it an effective way of destressing. A few friends encouraged me to come up with illustrations that others could fill in. Originally, I was not open to the idea, because I find coloring somewhat purposeless. After all, they end up stored somewhere and forgotten, if not thrown away.

But because of its popularity, I decided to give it a go. Instead of just making another regular stress-relieving coloring book, I decided to design a sheets that can be used as a tool to inspire and encourage others, hence the name “Color To Inspire”. Each #ColorToInspire sheet is designed with a hand-doodled artwork and a hand-lettered inspirational words for you to color. Below are four FREE downloadable coloring sheets for you to print, color, and share!

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YMI3

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Get your FREE printables! Download now!#colourtoinspire-free-printables