Creative Christian Moments Special Event: The Studio Spring Coffeehouse 2014

Creative Christian Moments Special Event: The Studio Spring Coffeehouse 2014

“If God is the Creator of us and we are created in His image, must we not create?” – Stan Sinasohn, host of The Studio Art’s Group.

Every spring and fall, The Studio Arts Group of Mill Creek Foursquare Church hosts a collaborative Christian artist event celebrating the Holy Spirit’s influence of artists in the area. The night is filled with the best baked goods prepared by local foodies, melodious music, poetry readings, and displays of poignant paintings and photography. As I write such articles for event coverage, I often reflect on what God wants to relay to me and the viewers of my blog. The rhetorical question asked by The Studio Arts Group that best sums up this evening was stated by host Stan Sinasohn, “If God is the Creator of us and we are created in His image, must we not create?”

In the depths of every Christian artist’s soul, this simple question consumes our thoughts. Christian artists are provoked to create their crafts of artwork, music, dance, and whatever other medium is categorized as art because the mission is one of perdurable significance. To spread the Gospel by whatever means we have been gifted with; we must create, because this is the nature by which the Christian artist has been designed. It is a notion common to those who are considered born again and as natural as the breathing of air. As a statement of digression, I would also like to state that during this performance many of my cameras failed on me so the last few performances have been recorded via smartphone.

The first artist of the evening was a musician named Douglas Judy who performed free playing acoustic music. Before his performance, Judy explained that his style of play is to allow his instincts and subconscious to feel the music organically. Judy is not the only musician who adopted this approach tonight and sometimes the best worship is just to listen to the sound of instruments in the background. When a musician is allowed the freedom to worship through their instruments, the Holy Spirit is able to lead like a conductor would in an orchestra. The musician becomes the very instrument of God echoing His eternal Truths while avoiding humanity’s fallen tendencies to overcompensate on accuracy, conformity, and rigid rules of structure.

Sinasohn compared our next musician to a Christian version of Mumford and Son. His name is Nathaniel Chapman and he has serenaded spiritual shockwaves through Christian music in Washington state. Before he performed his music, Chapman discussed the origins of his song with the audience. “There is an attribute about God that I think we tend forget; that oversees His love, His mercy, His grace, His compassion towards us,” states Chapman. This attribute is the holiness of God and I find this topic is so seldom preached about in the majority of American Christianity. Love is the most popular attribute preached about but to solely preach on this one attribute is to skew the perception of what God says about Himself. Above all else, it is God’s holiness that governs the other attributes.

Sinasohn read a poetry piece he had written about the mind’s process of sifting through the trials and tribulations of life that often leave one with emotional baggage of redundancy. “I’m not asking for the nations,” he states, “I’m just tired of slaving” and oh how many times can I personally relate to this season of life. Everyone of us eventually endures a period or periods of spiritual redundancy and Sinasohn’s poetic piece is an illustration of the human condition’s struggle with this season while trying to focus on God. It is in these periods of the dark night of the soul that we cry as Sinasohn has for God to “be thou my vision.”

“If you know me, you know I like to write worship music,” states our next musician Dustin Miller. Miller described the inspiration for his song as wanting to know God more. As a worship leader, Miller described that the more he progresses in his walk with God, the more he wants to understand God in greater capacities. Miller finds these opportunities in worship music and singing praises to God with this point reiterated constantly in his sentences.

Makena Bigelow leads worship in Mill Creek’s children’s church and followed the performance of Miller. She chose to do perform a common worship song she uses in children’s church by Kari Jobe entitled “Love Came Down.” What I appreciate about Bigelow’s music is the maturity conveyed to the audience. Her piano skills and vocals suggest a music prodigy well older than what she appears. I look forward to the doors God will open for her in the Christian music scene.

The next musician of the evening was Buzz Smith. Smith reminds me of fusion of country music with the deep vocals exhibited by the late Johnny Cash. The focus of Smith’s song was about how we run from God throughout our lives often to our detriment. Smith reiterated that the inspiration for this song came from multiple conversations with a friend of his who is constantly seeking God but has not made the decision to commit to a relationship with Him. “The one thing that keeps us from God is ourselves,” states Smith. In our post-modern philosophical society that celebrates pantheism, this action is quite common and illustrates the proverbial fenced position by which the majority of humanity sits in making a decision to believe the Gospel message. Sitting on the fence in decision making is the same as saying no to the Gospel message.

Steve Sprague can be considered a regular when it comes to performances and associations with The Studio Arts Group. In the past few months, I learned that Sprague was able to open for many shows of local artists in similar events. I was overjoyed by this news and Sprague’s life reflects, like many others in this blog, that age is irrelevant when it comes to pursuing your talent. God honors those who simply use the gifts He has given them. Sprague performed a song called “Average Joe” that night and discussed that sometimes artists can only complete what seems like so little because that is the best they can offer in their current circumstances. He stated throughout the song that he would not trade the experiences of his own personal trials and tribulations for how they produced a deeper walk with God.

Author Dan McKinnon was the next artist of the night and shared a story from his recently published book Breadcrumbs entitled “Soldier”. McKinnon’s story is a personal narrative about his experience with working with his church in disaster relief for Hurricane Katrina victims in the early 2000s. While assisting in repairing the damage, McKinnon and a group of his congregation came upon a dog they named Soldier who had been abandoned during the event. As they continued their service in helping clean up one of the many disaster areas, McKinnon dwelt upon Soldier’s origins which led to him dwelling upon philosophical thoughts about how God views us. At the end of his presentation, McKinnon ended with the words of John 3:16.

Rachel Kearns was one of our younger musicians and shared an inspirational song about teenage girls’ personal self-respect in selecting honorable teenage boys for romance. Having a daughter of my own, Kearns’ song reminded me of the innocence girls embody and as parents we must guard their hearts from the toxic messages society preaches as virtues. Kearns’ song reminds me that as I raise my own daughter to be independent and confident, character, intelligence, virtue of morals, and righteous actions are what define true beauty. If society is to truly embrace this change, more songs like Kearns are needed to saturate the culture.

Newcomer, Travis Setzer was the next musician to perform and was the only guitarist to play a twelve string guitar. In describing his style of music, Setzer stated that “the Lord’s given me music to Scripture.” Setzer displayed an amazing ability to sing common Bible passages to the sound of his acoustic guitar. What I admire about Setzer’s ability to do this is it helps one memorize Scripture as the human brain has been documented to best remember memories by using music. When one reads through Psalms, these Scriptures were hymns themselves so it’s great to see this in action in our present day.

Like the first performance by Judy, Matthew Knowles chose to perform a freestyle play of worship through guitar. Knowles appeared a bit nervous but mustered up the courage to play for the audience. What I admire about Knowles is his humility and he is also a gifted painter. Hopefully, in a future post my readers will be able to partake of his painting skills.

“God does not create cookie cutter carbon copy Christians,” stated Jeff Quill, quoting a statement his wife told him when they were discussing his performance before the coffeehouse event. Quill struck me as a man who speaks his mind about his faith and he performed an acoustic song about how each person is a treasured and unique creation by God.

There is a saying that “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree” and I can see this in Alesia McNeal. She is the daughter of musician Jessi McNeal and has the same talent her mother possesses in music. McNeal shared a song about a crush she had on a boy and the song reminded me of something familiar from a dramatic television show. McNeal, like many of the other musicians embodies a gifted maturity in her music and I constantly lament as to why the music industry does not attend such events like these. McNeal, like many of the others, could be the next musician that speaks to society in a powerful way. I thank God that He has allowed me to document such performances and look forward to who He raises up.

Kyle Bigelow was our next musician that night and is also the father of Makena Bigelow. Bigelow shared that his inspiration for worship music came from volunteering with the Everett Gospel Mission. Weekly, Bigelow and a group of men volunteer at the shelter and play worship music for the homeless. Bigelow enjoys doing this because he can truly see the real Gospel message in action and has also met “some of the finest people” down at the mission in character, morals, and virtue. The song he performed was a assimilation of stories about these individuals and the redemption Christ grants for everyone.

The last performance of the night came from musician Jessi McNeal. Having released her first album Pen to Paper in 2013, McNeal informed the audience that she has been working on her second album and chose to perform one of her new songs. McNeal has had the opportunity of touring the local Seattle circuit and I am exstatic to see her musical dreams blossom into reality. I cannot wait for her next album to be published and I will write another blog review when it occurs.

What can we walk away with from the performances tonight? Christian artists are compelled to create because our Creator, God Almighty, has placed this ability in His creation. Part of the Christian artist’s struggle lies with identifying our artistic gifts and honoring Him with them. Many of the artists identified have invested their own resources and talents into pursuit of these gifts; furthermore, what many will probably seldom hear about is the struggles many of these individuals have endured in their families, finances, physical, and emotional health just to present their gifts tonight. But the joy of the Christian artist lies not just within these circumstances but the truth that persevering to honor God has its own reward of knowing Him more in this life and the next.

Related Links:
Mill Creek Foursquare Church: http://www.mc4s.org/
The Studio Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/thestudio.mc4s
Nathaniel Chapman: https://fandalism.com/salvationsinger
Matthew Knowles: https://www.facebook.com/matthew.knowles.925?fref=ts
Dustin Miller: https://www.facebook.com/dustinmillermusic
Dan McKinnon: http://www.xulonpress.com/bookstore/bookdetail.php?PB_ISBN=9781628718669
Jessi McNeal: https://www.facebook.com/JessiMcNeal
Steve Sprague: https://www.facebook.com/stevespraguemusic?filter=1

References
Kari Jobe, “Love Came Down”, Sparrow records, 2012. MP3.
Spring Coffeehouse. By Mill Creek Foursquare Church. Directed by The Studio. Building B, Lynnwood, WA, May 10, 2014.
The Studio. “About.” Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/thestudio.mc4s/info (accessed May 29, 2014)
The Studio. Logo. Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=601286313246005&set=a.160899973951310.28220.160898427284798&type=1&theater (accessed May 29, 2014)
The Studio Spring Coffeehouse 2014, YouTube, 1:16:11, posted by Barry Brophy, May 31, 2014, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2fJ1Lp1yVrs (accessed May 31, 2014)

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Creative Christian Moments Special Event: The Studio Fall Coffeehouse 2013

The Studio

Creative Christian Moments Special Event: The Studio Fall Coffeehouse 2013

“We believe that God, the original Creator, has placed a bit of His creativity in all of us, and we would love to help you discover and develop your gifts.” – The Studio, Mill Creek Foursquare Church

As I sought the Lord in prayer over what He wanted to say about this event and in this blog, I was given this simple statement: “This is where it begins.” As I reflected on these words throughout the night of the Fall Coffeehouse event, God had me stirred me into the revelation that this is where the future worshipers of tomorrow shall have there beginnings: in pure worship events in small churches across the state which are interdenominational and attended by men, women, and children whom simply wish to praise God. I felt humbled by these words and look forward to looking back at these humble beginnings for the artists as God arises the Pacific Northwest renaissance revivalists. of the arts.

The Fall Coffeehouse was held in the main sanctuary of Mill Creek Foursquare with a small collection of tables and chairs reminding me of one of those basement coffeehouses associated with the city of Seattle. In the lobby, other Christian artists had used their cooking skills to prepare delectable coffee cakes, cookies, and sweets for guest sampling and consumption. The atmosphere was filled with anticipation of the talented artists we would view soon see and hear as they presented their talents to the audience.

The Studio is a relaunch of a Christian arts group in Mill Creek Foursquare in which artists of all levels and skills can gather together to practice their talent, share ideas, share feedback, but most importantly encourage one another in pursuing the creative talent God has created inside of each and every one of us. The official relaunch will occur in 2014 and I will review the art group more in depth in a future blog review.

Before you view part one of the The Studio Fall Coffeehouse event, I would like to apologize for some inconsistencies in the video. Not all of the artists may be covered due to some user error on my behalf while I was filming the video. I have done my best to fix the problem with Adobe Premiere 10 but am still limited to the professional presentation of the material. So I humbly ask you to look past some of the video problems and rather focus on the beauty of the wonderful artists performing.

Our first performer of the night was a young teenage musician by the name of Linzy Collison-Ris. Collison-Ris had performed at other Coffeehouse events and I was eager to hear the music she would serenade the crowd with. What I admire about Collinson-Ris and the other young musicians I will review, is the amount of skill, professionalism, and anointing God has placed upon their lives at such a young age. When Collison-Ris began to sing and play guitar it was though I were attending a popular live concert with a professional who was well established.

The next artist of the night was Steve Sprague who is a long time veteran of The Studio and assists in leadership. I have had the privilege of listening to this song as he wrote it, edited it, and shared his final product with the arts group. I was thrilled to see Sprague take a leap of faith to perform his song in front of a crowd and wondered why he had not done so sooner. Sprague’s performance felt natural and I empathized with his lyrics about the comatose commute as I commute to Bellevue for my day job. Sprague epitomizes the familiar feeling one gets in an unplugged session of an artist performing in a Seattle coffeehouse.

Third to perform that night was a poet named Eli Seekins. Seekins proclaimed a poetic narrative known as the Spoken Word in which Christian artists will discuss an aspect of society and why they need the Gospel message through the use of various poetry techniques. Seekins used multiple references to zombies to describe the unsaved state much of humanity is prisoner to without the saving grace of Christ. Like the Christian saints of the past, Seekins is able to illustrate relevance of the Gospel message to the Pacific Northwest culture much like a missionary does in a foreign country by using analogies and references the ministered to culture is familiar with.

Following Seekins performance was another musician by the name of Nathaniel Chapman. Chapman is gathering quite a musical reputation in the Puget Sound of Washington. Rumors are he has even turned down record opportunities with prestigious Christian labels by direction of the Holy Spirit. This type of behavior speaks volumes about the genuine faith this man of God exhibits in his personal walk as well as his approach to worshiping God through music. Being that I am Irish Irish Scot in heritage (no, this is not a typo as my family can trace its genealogical origins to the Picts on my father’s side and the Scots on my mother’s side), Chapman’s music reminded me of Caledonian worship I would find in the simple towns of the country. The repeated drumming echoed the cultural rich history of the Christian Celts and I look forward to watching Chapman arise in such anointings as St. Patrick, St. Columbia, and St. Bridget.

Next, after Chapman came the worship band called Climbing Calvary. Dual leading in vocals are Dustin Miller, who also plays guitar, and MaKena Bigelow, who also plays piano. Bass is played by Jeff Moss and Max Knibbe plays the drums. As they started to play with Miller and Bigelow singing, you could feel the spiritual atmosphere of the room change as the Holy Spirit filled the sanctuary of Mill Creek Foursquare Church like a tsunami devouring a nation. Like the previous musicians that had gone before them, Climbing Calvary increased the expectation of the Fall Coffeehouse event and would be followed by others with the worshiping mantle.

Kai Chinn was another musician to follow who creates all of his music himself through software. It takes a gifted sound person to do this and this is evident in Chinn’s song he performed.
You wouldn’t think it, but Chinn is also apart of a newly formed heavy metal band in the Puget Sound called Screams of Angels serving as drummer. Chinn’s multifarious musical abilities in both vocals and different instruments have served him well as he encourages others. I look forward to seeing how God will use him in Screams of Angels to share the Gospel message.

Reggie and Rachel Corns were next and sung a song about Christmas to welcome in the coming month of December. The song reflected the importance of remembering the sacrifices Jesus Christ made to bring redemption to humanity. One line that stood out to me was sung by Reggie that stated “I wonder if this Christmas, they’ll begin to understand.” I felt a bit of melancholy during Reggie’s lyrics as he lamented and hoped in the coming generation to remember to teach their children about the message of the Gospel. With such a pluralistic and politically correct society developed around us, society has gone to great lengths to remove anything associated with the message of Christianity. Though the song is a somber reflection of the current days of this generation, Christians can still hope in the message of Christ. Especially during Christ-mas.

Maggie Long was another musician who performed and her song was surprising. Like Collison-Ris, Long’s sophistication of lyrics was awe inspiring and what could not be heard in the video too well was the guitar distortion accompanying her acoustic guitar. Her song was based upon her experiences as a sophomore high schooler on a swim team in which she expressed she was not very good at. She laughingly told the audience how the coach had to call an ambulance because she might have drowned so inspiration for the song comes from this. She jokes she got a good song out of it. “Jesus come rescue me. Cause I’m on my knees struggling to breath. And I’m keeping my head above water, But I won’t last much longer. Cause I’m drowning.” Long’s lyrics speak powerfully to how many people both believers and nonbelievers feel they are drowning in the wake of epic social, economic, and moral upheaval.

Lisa Zobrist was out second poet of the night and exclaimed to the audience that she was taking a step of faith to share the poem in front of live audience. The theme of her poem was God awakening her soul which echoed many of the lyrics from the other artists that performed. Such words like “unplug the ears of your soul” and “taste and see that the Lord is good” to remind herself of the past trials Christ was able to deliver her through. “Oh my soul do you not remember that though there is pain in the night joy comes in the morning.” Zobrist calls us to remember how Christ awakens us to our purpose, promises to supply for all our needs, calls us to continue our walk of faith as people need to see God’s love in our life to see Him. “Awake my soul, awake!”

After Zobrist was another musician named Patrick Neill. Neill presented a simple self-composed worship song that reflected on his own unworthiness and battle with a broken spirit. Neill started off quiet and reserved during the introduction of the song but opened up to bless the audience with his gentle vocals and beautiful chords on the acoustic guitar. Well worth the momentary wait. Neill constantly reminded the audience of Christ’s immeasurable love and ability to dwell with the outcast and the despised with the repeating statement of “you dwell with the broken hearted.”

Next came the country musical performance by Don and Jeff. They sung a comedic performance about a weakness to chocolate that gave the audience a laugh. Tina Johnson was next and shared a personal reading how God had led her in the past and present through trials and tribulations. What did not make the film was Johnson’s paintings which were arranged up front on the tables that have been seen periodically throughout the evening.

Buzz Smith was our last new musician to perform that night before Sprague, Chapman, and Climbing Calvary sung additional songs that did not make it to this review. Smith expressed that his song’s theme was about the concept of home and how he would apply that to church. Smith, like Long and McNeal brought a bit of Christian country to the performance. His concept of home also allowed me to reflect on how as Christians we have this longing to go to our heavenly home much as Paul preached about in Philippians 1:19-26.

How would I summarize such a spiritually moving event from The Studio? I would go back to the original words I summarized in my opening remarks: “this is where it begins.” Where do I see these artists going? Young artists like Collison-Ris and Long remind me of the Barlow Girls taking their first steps into the mainstream music scene. Sprague, Chapman, Smith, and Neill could be the next Steven Curtis Chapman, Todd Agnew, Phil Whitcomb, or Jeremy Camp. Chinn and his band Screams of Angels may be future Scream the Prayer participants. The Corns, Don, and Jeff could be sharing more Christmas songs and comedic performances for multitudes. Seekins and Zobrist could be sharing more life changing poetry throughout churches and cafes across the Puget Sound. Johnson’s paintings could be in museums in this city. Climbing Calvary could be the next Third Day, Casting Crowns, or MercyMe. The possibilities are endless because we serve a God of the impossible in Christianity. What is most exciting about the possibilities I have stated above is anything is possible with these artists because they have been obedient to God with their talents whether they are called to change one life or multitudes for the Gospel message.

If you would like to support The Studio you can continually lift up this ministry in prayer, reach out to the group through the church’s website or social media pages, donate art supplies or money to purchase art supplies, but most importantly come and participate in the group. Who knows? I am willing to wager that many of you reading this post have hidden talents inside of you that God is waiting to birth into fruition. Below are links by which you can contact the artists to learn more about their work or host them at an event.

Related Links:
The Studio Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/thestudio.mc4s or https://www.facebook.com/groups/357084777658415/
Nathaniel Chapman’s Musician Page: https://fandalism.com/salvationsinger
Climbing Calvary’s Band Page: https://www.facebook.com/climbingcalvary
Kai Chinn’s Musician Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Kai-Chinn/135469136471463
Linzy Collison-Ris’s Musician Page: https://www.facebook.com/linzymusic
Maggie Long’s Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/maggie.long.969
Jessi McNeal’s Musician Page: http://jessimcneal.com
Patrick Neill’s Musician Page: https://www.facebook.com/PatrickNeillMusic

References
Mill Creek Foursquare Church. “Home.” Mill Creek Foursquare Church. http://www.mc4s.org/ (accessed December 2, 2013).
Fall Coffeehouse. By Mill Creek Foursquare Church. Directed by The Studio. Main Sanctuary, Lynnwood, WA, November 23, 2013.
The Studio. “About.” Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/thestudio.mc4s/info (accessed December 29, 2013)

Creative Christian Moments Special Event: Imaginate

sonrise chapel

Creative Christian Moments Special Event: Imaginate

“Every time something creative happens, I believe there is a new facet of God that we see in and through one another.” – Associate Pastor John Hammer, Sonrise Chapel

The second Imaginate night at Sonrise Chapel in Everett, WA occurred on November 3rd, 2013 and as Hammer stated in the above quote, new facets of God were discovered through more creative works of local Christian artists. The revival renaissance of Christian artists continues to make eternal wakes in the Pacific Northwest, the spiritual climate, and in new genres such as cinematography, photography, and dance. Hammer opened the Imaginate art event with a compelling story about a minister, named Ray Hughes, who shared about an Irish pub experience in which a new comer sung a song who was not a regular visitor and was honored by the older man who regularly sung at the pub. The older man, in the story, honored the new comer by standing with him as a sign of respect for participating in the experience. In this same way, Hammer explained that the purpose of Imaginate was to encourage and inspire Christian artists in a celebratory manner much as the gentleman in the pub had done. Hammer states, “we choose to celebrate one another tonight. We choose to not make this a competition, but a celebration of honoring the gifts and creativity God has put inside of people.”

Imaginate offers compelling comradery to artists of all genres, talents, and levels of skills unlike some of the main stream artist events around the community. The celebratory manner of the congregation was awe inspiring and genuine seeking to celebrate the talents of art God has placed in each person sharing. “So if you feel really stirred, give people a standing ovation. Give them a round of applause! Encourage them after their done! Let them know what you thought of what they did because it takes a lot sometimes for people to get up in front of others and share what God has done in them.” Hammer then invited Yoyo artist Michael Lee (you may recall from the first Imaginate event last month) to the front of the room to MC the event. Many new artists were able to share their works during this second event and much of my coverage will focus on discussing their gifts.

The first artist of the evening was photographer Erik Hedman who had prepared a slideshow for the audience with his various works of amazing photos involving different parts of the Puget Sound area such as the railroads, flowers, bark, leaves, the Space Needle, and a portrait of his infant daughter. Hedman used this presentation to present how God reveals Himself to Hedman through photography and the arts. My amateur video does not do his works justice for the amount of beauty and professionalism they had. “As they already mentioned [in regard to God’s creativity], He spared no expense when it comes to detail and I believe in that same way that He made us in His likeness and He gives us creative abilities and sometimes it’s just things that pop into our minds.” Hedman’s work presented vibrant colors, surreal depictions of scenery, and titanic textures that made one feel the experience of the photographs. The photographs were so vivid in reality that all five senses were stimulated in the mind. Hedman demonstrated his skill as a grandmaster of photographic color balance, aperture calculations, ambient light usage, and a knack for Photoshop. Hedman concluded his presentation with his intentionality of being available for the leadings of the Holy Spirit in correlation to the arts. “You never know when the Lord is leading you to do something, who it will impact and saying hey, I’m available.”

Next, a young teenager named Natalie perform a series of gymnastic moves for the congregation which rallied them to applause. What I appreciated most about this presentation was Natalie’s boldness to go before an audience and demonstrate her talent and the congregation’s pure support and encouragement that she had the bravery to demonstrate before them.

“I write poetry. I write songs. Just anything to glorify God.” Kris Smith was next and shared a brief poem written five minutes ago under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit prompting him to call back those who have strayed from the Christian faith. Such prompting with poetry in the Christian community can be referred to as prophetic writing. Prophetic writers, many of whom are song writers, poets, and story tellers, are prompted by the Holy Spirit to share Biblical truths with their listeners or readers much like the Old and New Testament prophets. Hammer also shared a remix version of his original poem “Letter to a Predator” from Creative Christian Moments Blog Article 3. Hammer’s new version was more triumphant and declaratory in which the letter is not so much about overcoming addiction but exposing the evil that this addiction ensnared in him.

Kinfolk – The Life Aquatic from Caleb & Shawn on Vimeo.

New to Imaginate were cinematographers from Kinfolk Magazine, Caleb Babcock and Sean Lowe whom shared one of their projects they had worked on depicting a group of friends sailing on a rainy Pacific Northwest day and then enjoying the beach together. Cinematography for this video was gorgeous! Given the poor conditions of light and grey whether of a typical rainy day in Washington State, Babcock and Lowe drew out the vibrant colors of beryls, emeralds, and dapples to offer the viewer a rush of emotions one would experience on a rustic sail and hike along the coast. I felt as though I were watching the beginning of some major budget Hollywood film and was moved by the emotions created through the careful camera work and positively dreary beauty the Pacific Northwest has along the coast of a rainy day. Babcock and Lowe also run a Vimeo page with more of their works you can check out at the end of this blog entry.

Swing dancing was performed next and drew great applause from the crowd much as the gymnastic performance had earlier. Dancing in church has created some controversy given the secular’s communities perversion of the art through popular media but dancing before God is quite Biblical and can move and audience when the Holy Spirit infuses Himself into the presentation. David danced before the Lord in 2nd Samuel 6:14 while the Psalms 149:3 and 150:4 command us to dance before the Lord.

Wow! If I had one word to describe the acoustic song of John Sage that would be it. Sage’s song was a powerful narrative about knowing God at a deeper level, God finding treasure in darkness, setting individuals free from personal struggles, and the impeccable love God has towards humanity. Sage’s music brings forth honest worship similar to the other acoustics of Jeremy Camp and Todd Agnew of the Christian music genre. The piercing of Sage stirred my heart with such meaningful lyrics as “you’re never along and you’re never apart”, “even in darkness, you find treasures of light”, “every saint is a treasure You hold in Your hands.”

Another poet and musician, Jessica Thomson shared multiple poetic pieces about her personal challenging journey of this year and how poetry has provided her and outlet to express her emotions and feelings about both good and bad periods in her personal life. Thomson then shared a personal acoustic guitar song about how God had been there for her in her times of struggles.

One of the many last minute additions to the night was a poet named Whitney who explained she was not going to share tonight but was inspired to share one of her works. Whitney shared an inspiring poetic narrative about enduring the personal fights and struggles of life all too familiar to the Christian. “Sometimes, to appreciate where you are, you need to remember how far you’ve come. The past is shaped and formed by character, your outlook on life in every capacity” resonates with the Luke 9:23 in which Christians continue to die daily to our own selfish needs of this life and are conformed more and more into the image of Christ. Whitney ended her work with an encouragement that that like the passage of Isaiah 40:31, our own obstacles will take us higher because it is on the thermals of turbulence that eagles can soar in the sky. “Pressing on to your next challenge is your only option left. So go, find what lies within you. Conquer, overcome, and let these obstacles take you higher.”

Last to present was prophetic painter Kevin Johnson who shared a piece he was still completing depicting the Bible in a fiery red color. Johnson stated he would be adding the Scriptures to the remaining portion of his work.

As I complete the writing of this article, the Holy Spirit prompted me to the passage John 1:47 in which Jesus Christ first meets the disciple Nathanael. I can truly say that this verse can also be applied to the congregation of Sonrise Chapel and I publically declare this passage over them as a community of believers. They are charismatic, yet encourage inclusion through interdenominational church events throughout the year. They preach the Word! They pray for their community and the other different Christian denominations in the area. They welcome partnerships with other ministries! All of these characteristics of their church identity have been passed along to their Imaginate nights and I implore other Christians to join us in the celebration of Jesus Christ expressed through the arts.

The final Imaginate event for 2013 will be on December 1st. If you would like to be a part of it, contact John Hammer through Facebook, the church website, or his poetry blog. All Christian artists are welcomed and encouraged to attend the event. As Proverbs 27:17 states let irons sharpen iron, let this passage apply to the artistic creativity of the as we continue on our Christian artistic revival renaissance in the Pacific Northwest!

Related Links:
John Hammer’s Poetry Blog: http://thefreedomletters.com/
Erik Hedman’s LinkedIn Profile with portfolio: http://www.linkedin.com/in/erichedman
Caleb Babcock and Sean Lowe’s Vimeo Page: http://vimeo.com/calebandshawn

References
Sonrise Chapel. “Home.” Sonrise Chapel. http://www.sonrisechapel.org/site/ (accessed November 5, 2013).
Imaginate. By Sonrise Chapel. Directed by John Hammer. West Entrance Lobby, Everett, WA, November 3, 2013.
Kinfolk – The Life Aquatic, Vimeo, 2:30, posted by Caleb & Shawn, October 6, 2013, http://vimeo.com/74220509 (accessed November 6, 2013).
Rhoads, Chris and Rhoads, Sarah. “The Life Aquatic.” Kinfolk Magazine, November 6, 2013. http://www.kinfolk.com/the-life-aquatic/

Creative Christian Moments Special Event: Imaginate

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.”

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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.

Related Links:
John Hammer’s Poetry Blog: http://thefreedomletters.com/
Sonrise Chapel Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/sonrise.chapel?fref=ts

References
Imaginate. By Sonrise Chapel. Directed by John Hammer. West Entrance Lobby, Everett, WA, October 6, 2013.

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