The Banquet Table

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Gearing up for Thanksgiving Day, I was looking for something meaningful to post here and I realized I had never shared “The Banquet Table”. [painted in March 2013] It hangs out above our dining table all year long. I thought it might be perfect timing to share this now before we feast.

For me, this image doesn’t just evoke words like “wedding feast” or “celebration” or even “Thanksgiving Day”. Those words are only part of the story. My deepest impression when I look at this picture on my wall every day is that of adoption.

Adoption is about being loved and accepted completely as a son or daughter. It means we’re not alone anymore. It means we experience being a permanent part of a family; the kind of family where no one is forgotten or excluded and you never get “kicked out”. It means having a Father who cherishes you as his darling child.

It’s kind of a process. It is surprisingly hard to drop the orphan mindset you have defaulted to for so long. But, really this is what Jesus calls us to: relationship.

In the original vision that inspired this painting, Jesus is seated at the head of the table. Here, He is represented by the glow beneath and arbor. Jesus beckons you to His banquet table. He motions for you to take the seat next to Him, as His beloved son or daughter. Because you were adopted into His family the moment you chose to believe, the best seat at His table is always saved just for you. There are many seats at this table, but you are called to take the seat next to Him, having full access to His loving attention.

During His time on earth, Jesus ate with His disciples and “sinners” frequently.

“They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. “(‭Luke‬ ‭9‬:‭17‬ NIV)

“While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples.” (‭Matthew‬ ‭9‬:‭10‬ NIV)

“While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him.” (‭Mark‬ ‭2‬:‭15‬ NIV)

We find Jesus shared in meals even after His resurrection.

“Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.” (‭John‬ ‭21‬:‭12-14‬ NIV)

What an unlikely thing to expect, that the King of kings, the Creator of all things, would invite you to come and sit and talk with Him over a meal. And yet, He does this even now.

There must be something to this custom of sharing a meal together. It’s like He is showing us by example how to be a family. Do we really get that He loves us that much? That we can be loved so completely? He suffered and gave His life for us at the cross as a clear declaration of I love you. And He asks us to love one another as He has loved us.

In our American culture at the moment, gathering together with a group for meals is not as common as it used to be. Unless it’s for a special occasion, people don’t seem to dine together regularly anymore. We’ve become unaccustomed to being connected in community and have lost a sense of value in eating a meal together and perhaps even lost the social skills required for healthy relationships. Why would we get together when we have so many other things that need to get done in a day? Or, why would we take time to meet with our friends or family when we’d much rather relax and unwind in front of our technology?

I think there must be a special parallel between eating (getting sustenance essential for life) and relating to one another (and most essential is the relationship with Christ). We find spiritual food for our souls when we gather together and partake in relationship.

It is not always a simple easy thing, being in relationship. I have a burden on my heart to address the issues of family and community. On this personal note, I have spent a number of holidays with family, alone and at other times with friends who are like family when I no longer had much family around anymore. I can remember one year making Thanksgiving dinner when I was a single mom. It was just me, my daughter and my mom (who is now passed) and my little girl asking me during the meal why we didn’t have more people with us. My heart ached at her desire to have a larger family than what we had at the time. I felt the same way. Another year, I was blessed to be invited to a friend’s holiday meal where I was the single person amid a house full of married families with children most of whom were strangers to me. I was grateful for the thoughtfulness of my friend’s invitation, but my heart ached at the loneliness of being with them. This Thanksgiving brings more change as some loved ones are now with Jesus.

I am choosing to be an adopted daughter this year regardless of where I celebrate. I will walk out the door remembering my identity as an adopted daughter of The Most High God. Just as I look at this picture daily, I want to remember that every day I have the opportunity to accept the invitation to dine with my God.

Wherever you may find yourself spending the holidays, please always remember how loved and adored you are by our Jesus. He loves you with a limitless love and He will never leave you nor forsake you. (Deuteronomy 31:6 and 31:8, Joshua 1:5, 1 Chronicles 28:20, Psalms 37:28 and 94:14, Hebrews 13:5)

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Beating Heart

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Have you ever felt like you just had heart surgery (figuratively speaking)? That’s kind of what it felt like to be prayed for the other day. The pray-er so keenly tuned into all the daddy hurts in this bruised person’s heart. All kinds of feelings got stirred up and all I could do was watch as they came tumbling out all over the place! Sobs and a little blubbering followed. Good luck holding back the flood of emotions when someone acknowledges your inner cry for the love of a father (THE Father). Some would call this thing that is taking place inner healing. That’s a funny juxtaposition considering that to get to that healing, you get to feel the hurts in all their (un)glory. It feels nothing like healing while it’s taking place. But, the truth is, healing is Glorious. There was a Glory in being a few baby steps closer to knowing what it’s like to be loved by a good, [correction] GREAT Dad. What is it like to be loved by a perfect Father? I’m still finding out. My heart is all mushy and messy. I can say I feel different. Loved.

So we finger painted at a conference workshop last weekend and this is what my beating heart looks and feels like. And it is glorious to feel, and hurt …and heal.

Sword of the Spirit

No stronghold can stand before the power of the Lord. We can call out freedom into the lives of others through intercession and speaking life and freedom over them. This was originally painted in honor of a missionary we were so lucky to meet last year. His pastoral work was creating freedom in his people from generations of oppression and it was an amazing opportunity to meet him.

“The word of God is living and powerful. Sharper than any two-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”Hebrews 4:12

Fearless Flyer

Who hasn’t felt the queazy stomach, the nervousness and general unease of diving into your next journey with God? The type of journey where you don’t know exactly where you’re going but you know trusting God is the best option you have. The vision that inspired this painting was one of a sky filled with believers, more specifically warriors for Jesus eager to jump into their next assignment. So much of our focus is often in the landing…”When will I finally arrive where I want to be?” But I had the impression that the Lord’s favorite part of these journeys with us is in the moments we completely let go and trust Him with every part of our lives.

Heralding Angel

"Let Our Song Ring Out"

A couple of weeks ago at a church meeting I saw in my spirit an image of an angel above the building our congregation meets at, specifically an angel appointed to our church to herald when The River Church of OC is worshiping. 

It’s no secret, our church loves to praise God through music.  If you come to our church you may expect to find that our worship times usually go long and we love it.  There is such a sweet, even tangible feeling that enters the building when we go into a wonderful time of singing praises to the Lord.  He seems to come near in an even greater measure.  We are lovers of Jesus, unabashedly and we are hungry for more! 

We as a church seem to come into total agreement on this: We want more of God!  I believe that because of this passion for God we have, our praise has the power to change a region.  The angel above, seems to have the job of heralding when the River Church of OC is at work worshiping.  Our great love of God carries beyond the four walls of our building.  The impact on our region is great and real.  In the spiritual sense, we have this angel heralding, broadcasting this out over the land… In the natural (in our everyday life), we who are lovers of God go out into the world and have the ability to change the world because of our passionate love of God.

Be BLESSED and sing praises to God with all you heart for He will come near! 

Painted at The River Church of OC during worship August 7, 2011.

“Seek My Face, know My heart”

Jesus wants to share his father’s heart with YOU.  In his eyes, you ARE worthy and you ARE significant!! Give him your heart so he can give you his!
 
I painted this during the evening service 7/10/11 at The River Church of OC in Irvine, CA.

What does God see when He looks at me?

What does God see?
“Repentance”

It is hard to comprehend that our sin is not what our God looks at when He sets his gaze upon us.  We think, “How could He not see how sinful, dark I am inside?”  True, He knows us intimately as we are His children whom He made.  But, when we release our burdens to Him, what stirs His heart is that His child is asking Him for help.  From God’s view, repentance is not merely admitting that we are sinful or weak, or any number of other negatives we can think of to describe ourselves.  From His view, it is a beautiful act of worship from His beloved child…you.  It blesses Him beyond words, that you have come to Him with your struggles and trusted Him enough to humble yourself before Him as you seek His shelter.  “Please, Lord, forgive me for…”  “Lord, I can’t stop doing this…Help me.”  ” I’m sorry I did…”  Apply these to your own unique life experiences and this is what calls out to the heart of our Father God.

 
Love and compassion is the instantaneous response He has for you.  Judgement or condemnation have no place in this exchange between a Father and His child.  He cares for you so much that He sent His own Son, Jesus, to earth to make this type of connection with you possible.  That is how much He loves you.
 
This image was painted during morning service at The River Church of OC in Irvine, CA .  The inspiration came during a home group prayer time when we released our burdens to God.  I had a vision of our burdens taking the form of doves and being released up toward heaven.  I could not understand why our sin took on the image of doves.  I asked God for revelation on this.  How could it be that something so ugly in many ways could take on a beautiful image?  This vision returned during another prayer session and this time I got to see what God’s response to our repentance is and it also took on the form of doves and spiritual energy.  I could understand why God’s emotional response to us would be doves signifying love, but I questioned why our repentance took the same form in the vision.  I knew this was the image the Lord was giving me to paint for our congregation, but I was resolved to paint our part of this spiritual interaction showing sin as the ugly things that they are in a more organic state…food, drugs, etc.  God was very clear that He wanted our repentance and what it looks like from His view, to be shown as the blessing to Him that it is.  His outpouring of love for us looks and is made of the same “stuff” that our repentance is made of.  Pure and simple blessing between a Father and child.
 
My warmest regards to you and my hope is that today you experience a love encounter with God like you’ve never had before.  May you be transformed by His love.
 
Andrea