Free Print - Matthew 16:18 Building His Church
This 5x7" print is my free gift to you. I'll send one for you to keep & another to pass on to someone else. There is a really special reason why I'm doing this. Get some tissues out & scroll down a little to read about it.
The normal price for 2 of these unframed prints is £25. All I ask is that you cover the shipping cost to get them you (£1.50 in the UK, £2.50 within Europe or £3.50 to the rest of the world).
@jolieart watermark will not appear on your print.
THE STORY BEHIND THIS GIFT
When I was a teen, I read a book called Run, Baby, Run by Nicky Cruz. It’s the story of the author’s conversion from a depraved and violent gang life to becoming a Christian evangelist. I've probably read a couple thousand books since then, but this is the only book that has stuck with me for all these years. It was so gritty, honest and compelling, that I still remember how profoundly moved I felt while reading it. Jesus was the focus from about halfway through, yet somehow I either forgot or completely missed that it's a Christian book!
Recently I stumbled across a tattered vintage copy, so I bought it and reread it. I was shocked to discover that a lot of the symbolism I now use in my artwork, is in the book. I can trace seeds of my faith back 30+ years to Run, Baby Run! Nicky Cruz has no idea that he is part of a journey that saved me, but rereading his book has ignited in me a stronger desire to be obedient about planting seeds that may someday be part of someone else's journey to becoming a Christian. Go and make disciples...that’s the Gospel mission.
Three decades after first reading the book, I asked my pastor what people mean when they say, “God told me...” He answered that it’s different for everyone, and doesn’t necessarily mean they actually hear God speak. Although it can. He said that for him it may be as simple as someone popping into his head, so he texts them a word of encouragement. Another way is that God sometimes speaks through others. He then shared personal testimony about how a stranger shared a powerful message with him that was clearly from God, because it directly related to something He was currently doing in my pastor’s life.
It’s not my story to tell, but what I can say is that it was an amazing demonstration of how God enters into personal relationships with us. When we seek Him, pay attention, and test everything against scripture, we really do hear God. We really FEEL HIS PRESENCE because we serve a supernatural God. He came to us as Jesus Christ and His Holy Spirit dwells within us. Our King is alive and every moment, of every day, our He is with us.
A few years ago I woke up in the middle of the night with an uneasy feeling that grew, as I went from groggy to fully awake. The weight of my husband against my back should have felt normal and comforting, but instead it just felt wrong. When I heard the clacking of my husband’s keyboard in the other room, I remembered that I’d gone to bed early, but he had stayed up for a late night game session. I was suddenly filled with terror.
Almost paralysed by fear and breathlessness, I pushed out the words, “In Jesus’ name, I rebuke you. Get out. Get out,” then began to pray. The weight lifted off me and the feeling of oppression disappeared. I tried to convince myself it was only a bad dream, but I knew that I’d been wide awake.
I hope I never have such an experience again, but the thought of it no longer strikes fear in me, like it did back then. It’s not that I don’t take the enemy seriously. I just know that I have an infinitely stronger weapon in the armor of God. I can take up the Sword of the Spirit and stand on His Word. There is no reason to fear...our King is alive.
Our King is alive in the pastor who trusts God’s plan so fully that not even mouth cancer robs him of his joy in the Lord, or stops him from speaking the Truth.
Our King is alive in the mother who thanks Him for every moment she has with her critically ill child and praises the Lord through it all.
Our King is alive in the man who walks into a shop and joyfully delivers a powerful, 20 minute gospel message to a perfect stranger because he can’t contain the Good News.
Our King is alive in the army of believers who cry out to the Lord in the midst of storms, and sing praise even more loudly when it’s the most difficult to do so.
Since that conversation with my pastor a few years ago, I’m much more aware of how God speaks to me. As an artist, I’m very visual, so He often speaks to me through particular pictures He paints in my head. During a recent powerful sermon about the presence of God, one of our pastors quoted Matthew 16:18 and another one of God’s paintings appeared clearly in my mind. It was a view across Belfast Lough, with 7 churches, that represented the Gospel spreading out across Ireland and beyond. God told me to paint it, make copies and give them away. I don’t know how to explain it...I just knew it’s what He wanted me to do.
We all have our callings and spiritual gifts, and this happens to be mine. I’m specifically supposed to make 500 copies and give them to anyone who wants them. It’s a big ask. Although I want to be obedient, giving away £6250 worth of prints doesn’t make financial sense, especially during my slowest time of year. I thought, “Really, God? I’m 100% on board with generosity, but a girl’s gotta pay some bills!” I’ve been asking God to help me trust Him on this, and to make a way for it to happen.
So I prayed hard about it and did what God told me to do...I began to paint the image He’d put in my head. After a couple days, the painting finally mirrored the vision God gave me.
A few days later, I was in my shop. It’s not uncommon for people to approach me, express their appreciation for my Christian art, and tell me how meaningful it is to them. But this day was different. Throughout the entire day, people repeatedly came into my shop, shared their testimonies, and quoted relevant scripture to me. It all felt very connected to the prayer with which I started my day.
By the time the last person left, I was moved to tears. He’d stood at my counter and pretty much delivered a powerful sermon on trusting God’s plan, protection and provision. He even came back the following morning, told me he’d been thinking about our conversation, and had to talk to me again. He looked me in the eye, extended his arms high in praise, and loudly proclaimed, “Thus says the Lord, upon this rock I will build my church!” My knees went weak and I nearly fell over. That’s what my painting is all about! How awesome is that!?
And remember that little issue of how to pay for the prints? On the way out of church the following morning, someone pressed something into my hand. It was exactly enough money to pay for the printing costs. God is in every detail.
Satan hates seeing the Gospel spread. He is prowling like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. He is actively seeking to destroy us. BUT, God is building His church, and the enemy can’t do anything about it. Through God’s people, in His presence, the Gospel is being spread and the Gospel IS growing!
God speaks to ALL of us. Back when I read Run, Baby Run God was speaking to me, even though I didn’t know it yet. He often plants seeds through His people. That’s why this print is a free gift to you, and why there is another to pass on to someone else.
We are a people of God’s presence. Pray boldly. Call out to our Abba Father. Listen for Him, because He DOES speak to us.Trust in Him. All the garbage weighing you down, crushing you...you don't understand it yet, but God has a plan. Maybe your life feels hopeless right now, but God is working everything together for good in the future of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. It's about redemption. It's about reconciliation. It's about restoration.
Our King is alive and He is building His church. Not even the gates of hell will prevail against it!