Posts Tagged ‘amokarts.creative’

I use social media a lot, and for the most part it’s a very useful tool. I can connect with friends, make new friends, share my ideas and projects and find people out there who like what I like and even collaborators. Of course there is another side of it. The side where people malign my faith, my church and my God. When that happens, part of me wants to rip out my poisoned pen and give them a piece of my mind. Sometimes I want to just send a sarcastic comment, and other times I want to go full on artistic and create a cartoon or a meme that will just blast them. For the record, I can be pretty good at this as sarcasm is one of those things that dwells a little too close to the surface for me sometimes. The things people say make me quite angry, they’re almost exclusively unfair and so I rationalize that they have it coming.

Lately, I’ve had to ask myself a question. “Is that who I want to be?” and the even more convicting, “Is that who Jesus wants me to be?” I’m pretty sure the answer to the first question is “no” and the answer to the second is “definitely not.” Let’s just be real. Does the world really need another angry, sarcastic person, let alone an angry, sarcastic Christian? I think not, so it’s time to drop my poison pen.

Consider this, if you hold to the orthodox Christian belief that Jesus is the Only way to the Father, then the people who hate Christ are in something beyond mortal danger. They are in danger of missing out on eternal life. (See John 14:6) How do you think Jesus would want us to react to someone in that kind of danger? Would He have us pick a fight, combating them with sarcastic, snarky rhetoric or would we be better off praying for their souls, showing them love and modeling Christlike behavior, sharing His truth in word or deed? I think in 99% of the cases, the second tack is the one to take. Consider what Jesus did for His detractors. True, He did occasionally confront people, but the people He confronted were usually either false teachers or religious types who were building walls where Jesus wanted doors. Was He against sin in all its forms? Yes, but He loved sinners sacrificially and laid down His life for them.

The world doesn’t need my poison pen. The world doesn’t need me spouting off in (self) righteous indignation. The world needs me sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ in a way that seems like good news. My need to be right has got to be secondary to my need to be righteous. There is a world of difference and eternity is at stake. That love your neighbor thing, even your obnoxious, mean, nasty, anti-christian bigoted neighbor, yeah, Jesus meant that. How can you show the love of Christ today.

in case you ever wonder how you can honor God, you do the best you an with what you have. Tim Tebow is a prime example of this. He gets national television and what does he do?

Well this.

You may not have that kind of platform. I don’t either, but what can you do with what you have been given.

Honor God with whatever you get.

Have you ever felt dry? I mean really dry, spiritually. I think we all go through those times, but in my time of prayer today, I started to see three drops coming up like a fountain, representing the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I began to think of all the passages that refer to the living water found in Christ. Faith in Him will refresh us in the dry times and bring us healing. So today if you’re struggling and “dry” the one’s for you.

John 7:38 “Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”

This one has to be seen to be believed. This is a similar technique to the one people use to “marble” paper. All I can say is WOW!

I debated if I wanted to share this or not, because it could be construed as boastful and if you think I am being boastful, you’ll be missing the point. Saturday I was aggravated. I was about a half hour into a 400 mile road trip when nature called. No problem, I saw one of those signs on the interstate telling me there as a McDonald’s at the next exit. Well I hadn’t eaten breakfast so I decided, “I deserve a break today…” and I pulled off. It turns out there was a McDonald’s there alright, but like four miles off the highway. This is a huge peeve of mine. If you’re that far off the highway, please don’t add yourself to the sign. If I wanted to go miles and miles out of my way I’d get a real meal, but I digress.

To make matters worse, this McDonald’s was in a downtown location with no parking, just metered spaces about half a block a way… and me without a quarter. Well by now nature was really calling so I decided to risk it. I went to the restroom, placed my order, got my change and ran out to plug the meter while waiting for my food to be prepared. As I stepped out the door, I looked down to see a rather sizable sum of money laying on the street. Not a fortune, but multiple 20s. Now I had a dilemma. There was no one around who could have lost it, so there was no easy way to return it. I didn’t trust just walking into McDonald’s and saying, “Did anyone in here lose money?” So here’s what I did, I put it in my pocket, headed to the meter and I prayed, “Lord, I don’t want to keep this, it’s not mine, so please show me it’s owner.” I was walking back from the meter, when I saw a fellow pedestrian, a woman. At first she looked like she was just walking but then I noticed her glancing around as if she were looking for something. I said is everything okay. “She said I just lost (the exact amount of cash) and I thought maybe I dropped it here.” I reached into my pocket and said “Today is your lucky day.” She was in tears and said, “God bless you, You just made my day.” In actuality, that made my day just to hear it.

There were a couple things I learned from that. The first was, if you pray to be a blessing to someone, you might have to be inconvenienced to do it. I was irate, far to irate for the great weekend I was having, that I had to go miles out of my way to go to McDonald’s and yet 15 minutes is a really small price to pay to lift someone’s mood. The other is, I blew it. Here was a golden opportunity to give God glory and I dropped the ball. She even tried to give me some of the money, which I refused, yet somehow I didn’t manage to say anything about the one who kept me from saying, “I found multiple 20s, this is MY lucky day.” and keeping the cash. Scripture tells us to “ALWAYS be prepared to give a reason for the hope you have.” Guess I dropped the ball on that one, and I need to do better. God was faithful, I need to be more prepared.

Read Luke 14:25-35
Sometimes Jesus is perplexing. The one who tells us to love friends, neighbors, even enemies, the one who says “they will know you are my disciples if you love one another” all of the sudden starts saying we have to hate those closest to us, and even our own lives, if we want to follow Him. It’s so out of character, it’s almost baffling. Why would Jesus say such a thing?

This isn’t really about hatred, it’s about priorities and it’s about idolatry. He doesn’t really want us to hate these people, He simply wants us to love God more, and He’s right. Anything we put before God, anything we love more than God becomes an idol. Idols tear us away from God. Being away from God draws us away from the source of our love. Being disconnected from the source of our love forces us to love from our own strength. Our own strength is pretty fickle and weak compared to the all-surpassing love of God. Therefore to really love the people we have been given with a wonderful perfect love, we have to love and remain connected to God more. When we love God first, then we can truly love.

We love because He first loves us.

So what do we do with that love? We must each carry our cross. Probably not literally but what Jesus is saying is there is a cost to following Him. It’s not money, it’s sacrifice, self-sacrifice. It only makes sense. He sacrificed Himself for those He loves and so must we. No we won’t be nailed to a cross, or even die, instead we die to self for the good of others. We put others first. We love others more than we love ourselves and still we love Him most. He is our source—the source of our love.

Jesus then goes on and gives two examples of what it means to count the cost. What does it cost to follow Jesus? Everything and yet nothing or maybe nothing and yet everything. He gave Himself freely and yet to receive His gift is to put Him first, to make Him, knowing Him, serving Him, following Him, our number one priority. Salvation is a free gift. Following Him will cost you everything. The cost is high and yet nothing compared to the great gift He gave for us. Yet to receive Him is to receive the Kingdom, becoming joint heirs of everything, leaving the slavery of sin to become sons and daughters of God forever. We are here not just to receive eternity but to point others to eternity. To point others to the ultimate free gift that will cost them everything. It requires sacrifice to draw others to sacrifice. Jesus modeled that and we must too, giving of ourselves so that others might live, the ultimate act of love. Carrying the cross, not dying but living, really living with a greater purpose than ourselves—an eternal purpose.

Creative reflections: (Do as many as you like or create your own response.)
1. Illustrate a key point in this passage, something that really speaks to you.
2. Write a story to show how this passage might be lived out in your life.
3. Make a list of the cost of being disciple. Then for each cost, write the benefit that comes with it.
4. Create a piece of art that will remind you to count the cost, carry your cross or any other take away you get from this passage.

Okay this may sound like a sports story and as such it wouldn’t fit our usual topic. I think it does. It all started after the NFC Championship Game when Seattle Seahawks cornerback, Richard Sherman exploded in an interview. Evidently he felt he had been slighted by an opposing player and so he took the opportunity of this interview to remind said player that he got beat and to remind us all that he is the best cornerback in the game. I didn’t take a lot of offense to this, figuring it was the rant of an overly excited player and besides I’m old enough to remember Muhammed Ali telling us he was the greatest of all time. Not great sportsmanship but all part of the show.

For all intents and purposes, Richard Sherman is an impressive young man. He will, no doubt be regarded as one of the great cornerbacks in the game and he managed to get a degree from a pretty elite college, i.e. Stanford. In addition he has founded a pretty admirable charity. I watched another interview conducted later on, figuring I would give him the benefit of the doubt, and I have to admit this one concerned me. He was talking to a couple of sportscasters and I guess he didn’t like the way it was going because he went at one of the sportscasters, informing him about his degree from the prestigious institution and that he was “better at life” than this sportscaster. Is he better at life? I don’t know, he’s certainly more successful in his 24 years than I have been… but this interview showed me something I’ve long suspected, just because you have a degree from a prestigious institution doesn’t necessarily make you do smart things all the time.

What do I mean? Sherman’s degree is in communications. Now while I haven’t asked him about his future plans, my guess is, with this major, after his career playing football is over, he might be considering a career talking about football and that is where he could run into trouble. You see football is a blue collar game. It always has been. Probably the most blue collar sport that there is (with apologies to NASCAR). I’m more a blue collar guy and here’s what I know. The last thing we want to hear is, “I have a degree from _______ and I am better that you.” If sportscasting is in this young man’s future, he may want to think twice about this kind of statement.

What can we creatives learn from this? First pride will ALWAYS get you into trouble. It makes us act and speak without thinking. Second, let your accomplishments speak for themselves. Shooting your mouth off, rarely makes you look better. Lastly, anger rarely makes us smarter. This is why we’re told “In your anger, do not sin.”

I don’t sit in judgment of this young man. He is very accomplished and very young. I often behaved no better over far lesser accomplishments. I share these thoughts because they help me to remember to “check myself before I wreck myself.” I can still go there too. Pride is a dangerous thing.

How about you?

I just did this piece for fun and to try to learn a few new techniques. It’s completely digital and I am beginning to really enjoy this type of work.

How would you express a storm?


Albert Einstein once said:

If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will spend its entire life believing it’s stupid.

fishThis is a great truth from a great mind and it true of us all. There are areas of our lives where we will excell and areas where we will (excuse the pun) flounder. There are things in this life that you were no more intended to do than a fish was intended to climb a tree. Yet in so much of our educational system we are trying to teach fish to climb trees. We spend so much time trying to make people “well rounded.” If you want to be well rounded eat Snickers bars with all your meals (don’t really do that!). Seriously, it is good to have a wealth of knowledge and there are certain things everyone needs to know how to do, but if you want to be what God created you to be, spend the majority of your time developing your gifts. If you spend your life frustrated and angry with what you’re doing, chances are you’re not where you belong. So do your best and keep looking.

Fish don’t climb trees, fish swim, and they do it better than any other species because it is what they were designed to do. You have a designer too. Do what He designed you to do, otherwise you’re going to be a fish out of water.

(By the way sometimes it’s okay to be a fish out of water but only if God made you that way.)

Suspend Disbelief

I know this week’s entry is extremely late, the new one will go up in a couple hours but I had this idea and I had to get it down on paper. The word was “suspend” and my first thought was the old illusionists term, “suspend disbelief.” We life in a world where people take so many things on faith but when it comes to the one thing where faith is essential, so many demand proof. The scriptures say “without faith it  is impossible to please God.” The reasons for this are multiple, but at the end of the day, I believe it comes down to this. God is good, life is not always good, but if we will press on and hold on to God, we will see God prove himself to be good in the very things  we wish we didn’t have to face.

The Bible says Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1)

Suspend disbelief!