Creative Christian Moments Special Event: Imaginate
“God awakening the artistic talents of His people in Everett, WA.”
The American Church has fallen asleep to the potential God has placed in us, especially in the arts. As Christians have slumbered, we have become numb to the sin and pain around us in society often depicted in the plethora of media sewage. Pain, suffering, and misery have become normalcy as portrayed through the broken states of characters in movies/television, lucrative and deceptive lyrics of musicians, and the dark genres of stories place upon the pedestal of popularity. The devil reigns king in our media spheres but a light has been seen upon the horizon to drive out the darkness: Christ’s truths incorporated into every artistic area fathomable. Across the state, ministries are arising to elevate unknown Christian artists, anointed by God, to bring the Kingdom through the talents He has imparted in them. I had the humbled privilege of participating in one such night as this at Sonrise Chapel in Everett, Washington called Imaginate.
Previously, I wrote about Hammer’s poetic talents in Creative Christian Moments Blog Article 3 which you can reference under the Creative Christian Moments blog. Though Sonrise Chapel has a history of allowing God to move through the arts during church services, conferences, and worship nights, Hammer explained that they were starting a new platform specifically to share the artistic talents of Christians. Hours before, Hammer had preached a captivating message of an awakening occurring over Everett and even more over the Seattle area echoing the Rhema words spoken from revivalist pastors of the centuries past. You could feel the Holy Spirit quaking in the building as the momentum of the impossible could be anticipated.
Hammer explained that the purpose of starting the Imaginate night was to give artists a platform to be stirred up in their gifts no matter if they were just starting out or had vast experience in their talent. The purpose was to give these people a chance to share their talent because many of them had not been given the chance to by critical world nullified and consumed by the broken sin of perfectionism. The world no longer took risks with new talent as society has been subjected to recycled artists skewing their talents for personal gain and sinful pleasures. Hammer cited Exodus 35 about the men who were gifted by God to use their talents to create the tabernacle as an example about how God has crafted humanity with the arts to illustrate His majesty. Imaginate would be a “safe place to take risks!”
Chris Smith began the night by sharing an untitled poem about describing the constant presence of God in Christian experience. God is described as a loving Father throughout one’s life through positive and negative experiences. Smith’s words continued to encourage the audience to “have faith to ask for everything” which alluded to Matthew 7:7 which instructs the Christian to ask, seek, and knock in prayer for the meeting of needs while also alluding to Galatians 6:14 with “when you score a touchdown, He is the one you boast!” “God is the Creator, Innovator, and Architect!”
Jake Stalkfleet was second, following Smith, and presented a poetic piece entitled “Like Father Like Son.” Stalkfleet’s poetic narrative compared how Christians are sons and daughters of God just as is reflected with the relationship of God the Father and Jesus Christ the Son. In his own words, Stalkfleet stated “a father does not shun his daughter and a father does not run from his son” to address the broken view of God held by many people whom project their broken relationships with their own father’s as God’s way of viewing us. Stalkfleet exhorted the audience about the reality of how “He has made you in His image” and “It is a glorious thing to be one with the King, one with the King.”
Michael Lee was another surprised artist to share his talent of yoyo ministry as he had been invited to the event at the last minute by Hammer. Lee worked for the Duncan Yoyo Company and was able to travel across the country and minister to children in public schools. Throughout the video, Lee explains how he discovered God through illustrating his testimony through various yoyo tricks such as Cat’s Cradle, Around the World, and many other depictions. Lee closes with a humble position that God uses simplicity to share the Gospel across the world even through the use of a simple yoyo. Lee ended with a reflective remark that “His creativity [God’s] is not limited to what He can do behind a microphone.”
Kevin Johnson is referred to what is known as a chronological prophetic painter meaning that as a Christian worship service is conducted, he is able to paint what is occurring in the invisible spiritual atmosphere. Johnson shared with us a painting entitled “Power in the Blood.” While attending a worship service with Jake Hamilton, Johnson felt the presence of God stir him to melt a red crayon throughout his painting at first. As he progressed, he drew the Holy Spirit and the blood of Christ. Eventually, the painting flourished and became a tree while the words “power in the blood” came to him. Just as he was finishing his painting, Hamilton transitioned into the worship song of “Power in the Blood.” Both men were astonished at how this had transpired as Johnson was unaware of Hamilton’s music set for the night and Hamilton was unaware that Johnson would paint this picture right as he transitioned into the song. This type of experience is very common with prophetic painting as artists are intentional about not knowing the themes for the night to confirm the move of God’s presence. Johnson’s two elementary aged daughters also shared pictures, a song, and a dance with the group in great boldness illustrating the inclusive nature of this event.
Savannah Boyle is another poet who shared a riveting piece about how Christians carry the conflagration flames of the Lord into whatever place they go. Boyle’s poem touched on the authoritative power of the flames of God often depicted in the Old Testament and the New Testament. “We are called oaks of righteousness with firm roots” added Boyle which echoed Isaiah 61:1-3 while also encouraging the audience that Christians “no longer rely on the dirt to bring us life” describing the filth of one’s life before having met Christ.
One word to describe Beth Ashkey’s song “Nowhere to Run”: wow! Ashkey’s melodies are haunting to the soul as she declares the inevitable reality that no one can run, hide, or escape from the love of God. Ashkey’s song identified our need to be rescued from ourselves as best depicted in 1st John 4:7-21 describing the frailty of humanity and the absolution one can only obtain through the Gospel message of Jesus Christ through the lyrics “come and save me from me so You’re all I can see. You are all I need.” As I listened to Ashkey’s performance, I asked myself where are the Christian record companies and why are they not frequenting events like Imaginate, The Studio at Mill Creek Foursquare Church, or other events within the Puget Sound area? These artists were honest about their work, humble, and desired nothing more than to encourage the listeners with the simple artistic hobbies God had gifted them with. I would argue that they could reach more people than some of the most popular artists of our time because these individuals carried a humility to serve their audiences. Why pay for an overpriced event by artists intoxicated with their own prosperity, pleasures, and deification when you could attend one of these events for FREE?
Hammer presented a new poem entitled “Survival Guide Book” in which he uses figurative language to discuss how humanity has pendulum tendency to only seek out faith and God in times of personal crisis. “Survival Guide Book’s” narrative reflects the intentionality pacify humanity has towards seeking the knowledge of God. One of Hammer’s lines was “I didn’t want the truth, I just needed some comforting lies. At least I can be in denial until I die” which made me reflect about during our times of crisis, humanity becomes drunk on denial and an out-of-sight-out-of- mind complex to numb the reality of facing the chaotic problem. Hammer then alludes and closes with a final thought of our own mortality and to accept the Gospel message of Christ while there is still time. “So my last words as I’m drowning are this: face the truth while it can still hurt you before it’s too late to face the day of your destruction without being well read on your redemption.”
Overall, the themes for Imaginate were awakening and how to continue to use the gifts that God has given you to bring glory to His name. No matter how many times someone says you’re not good at something, God can raise you up to accomplish the impossible because God is the God of the impossible. The Bible is full of stories in both the Old Testament and the New Testament in which God chooses to use characters without formal training, societal status, wealth, and moral character to accomplish greatness. God is concerned with the heart of an individual and if your heart is to glorify God through your talents, He will raise you up to places you cannot even fathom.
Hammer has stated that Imaginate will become a regular event for Christian artists once a month. Check out my Events section for future dates or contact Hammer through Facebook, his website, or the church’s website to find out more. To find more works to sample by our artists or to contact them about their works, visit the related links section below.
Imaginate. By Sonrise Chapel. Directed by John Hammer. West Entrance Lobby, Everett, WA, October 6, 2013.
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