Posts Tagged ‘creativity’

Is it just me or are things getting worse at an alarming rate right now. I was away for two weeks. The first week was a disaster recovery mission trip. The physical work combined with the exhaustion afterwards combined with some really terrible wifi kept me pretty much out of touch with the outside world. Then last week I was having a great time working with adults with special needs at Delta Lake Bible Conference in New York and to be honest, I was just too busy ministering and enjoying these wonderful folks to pay much attention. Coming back to reality almost feels depressing, but there is Jesus so there is hope.

Part of me wants to weigh in on the political situation, but no that’s not the issue. An even bigger part of me wants to talk about how the media seems to be bent on dividing and destroying the nation, as if they will be above and immune to the fall. They won’t, but that’s not the issue either. They’re symptoms of a greater disease. We’re a nation that has turned it’s back on God and all this stuff is the fall out. The answer to our situation is actually pretty simple. And this is where you, Christian Creative, come in.

The Gospel is the Answer.

If humanity could fix our world, surely we would have done it by now. What is wrong with us will take the power of God to fix. So what will we do? I suggest we start off in prayer. I suggest we seek God. I suggest we ask Him how we might honor Him and point people to Him and then I suggest we act on what He shows us. What if we all turned our hearts to God? What if we all cast our cares on the One who cares for us? What if we began to create God-Inspired work designed to draw the hearts of the people back to their God? As for me, I am done worrying about the course of this nation. I am done wringing my hands in frustration and railing about the media and politicians. I serve a higher power, the highest power, and if you’re a Christian, so do you. I know the One who can fix the mess we’re in and I am determined to serve Him faithfully, making the most of every opportunity in these evil days (Ephesians 5:16).

First we pray… Then we act… Create faithfully to the Glory of God.

The Gospel is the Answer…

A young friend of mine asked me for prayer for some depression she is struggling with. Of course I did, I’ve been there myself on many occasions. I also wanted to share an observation.

Depression often hits creatives. I believe it is the downside of our creative imaginations. We can see things as they should be and then get depressed when we see how far there is to go. The thing is the depression takes us out of our creativity. We have to be careful not to wallow. The things we see, that better future is possible, but not in our own strength. Our job is faithfulness. Remember Philippians 1:6. He who began a good work in you will carry it through to completion in the day of Christ Jesus. He started, He finishes it, but we get to work in faithfulness along the way. Be of good cheer. In this world you will have trouble but take heart, Jesus has overcome the world.

One final note. Depression can be medical. If you struggle with excessive depression, please seek medical attention. There is nothing wrong with getting help.

A $14.99 piece of carved wood inspired an adventure into the Unknown. Fresh parables from God are found everywhere! Elizabeth Barrett Browning opened my eyes with this reminder:

Earth’s crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God;

Candice Olson, host of a TV program that tackles challenging home design dilemmas, was a co-contributor to the inspiration. On one of her recent episodes, she purchased a chair for the family room she was designing. It was called the Smoke Chair. I call it the Charred Chair. The classic wood carved chair had been torched to create a cracked patina of burnt wood. It was beautiful!

So a few weeks ago, standing in the aisle of HomeGoods, I looked at a glossy-varnished wood heart and my spiritual eyes saw it transformed into a heavily-textured charred parable.

I love to redesign found objects and provide worship participants context in which to create altered worshipart. This process slows down time, and like Jesus’ writing in the sand of the temple, it provides that unmeasured moment when the natural barriers between heaven and earth become very thin. And God, in that suspended space, speaks the Truth to us individually, like the words that healed the prostitute’s abused heart and the words that penetrated the conscience of each of her accusers.

Isaiah prophesied that the Spirit of God would heal the broken hearted and, as the Message puts it, “give them bouquets of roses instead of ashes.” What a promise of restoration. What a beautiful picture!

We explored the parable of Beauty from Ashes over several worship gatherings. The first weekend, using a plumber’s torch with MAPP gas, we scorched the wood heart. Then, using coffee filters, florist wire and watercolor paints we created a magnificent bouquet of roses to “bloom” from the charred heart.

Everyone shared in reading the Story of the freed captive, the prostitute who stood on the sacred sand in the midst of her accusers. Tradition suggests that it was this same woman who came into the midst of quite possibly the same group of accusers, when she crashed Simon’s party. What a daring risk she took as she poured out her praise, her oil of joy, anointing her Redeemer, Jesus Christ.

I have experienced that when you provide the time and opportunity for the creative work of the people, texturized liturgy, God’s Story is revealed in real-time. It takes your breath away, the air is so thin. It makes curated worship beautiful.

We always provide an opportunity for interpersonal interaction, some might call it an icebreaker; I think of it more as a heart softener. For the second weekend of our Beauty from Ashes, I placed a generous stack of Table Topic™ cards on each table. These cards are a great conversation starter with some provocative questions. Active participation promotes community and lowers barriers, authentic participation thins the air.

Chris was the second person to read his card out loud. I was so proud of him! He read the card all by himself and didn’t need any help sounding out the words. He started attending our group when he was 5 years old and was very timid. Now, at age 7, he is eager to be involved with everything we do. His card asked this question, “If you could do anything without risk of injury, what would you do?”

He pondered the question on his card. I suggested that he think about it and offered the same question to Jack. Jack is in his mid 20’s and is an extreme sportsman. He rock climbs, backpacks mountains in the middle of ice storms and has conquered Central America in his four-wheeling truck-beast. He is angry with God, but regularly attends our gathering. His engagement to the love-of-his-life didn’t happen. The ring was refused. He was rejected. It’s been almost a year. He is a bitter man. Usually he is sullen and slouches low in a chair at the back of the gathering room. I don’t know why I offered for Jack to answer the question while Chris considered his response. Maybe it was because I thought that it was a “safe” question, an easy question for our adventurous explorer. Void of vulnerability.

“If you could do anything without risk of injury, what would you do?”

Jack turned his eyes away and looked down at the floor. Then, in a very soft voice, Jack responded, “I would open my heart.”

God speaks. God moves. God is beautiful.
we respond. we create. we worship. Michael Card

Well the adventure begins today. I head out for a week of disaster recovery work in South Carolina with some members of my congregation today. I’ll be coming back to the area next Saturday and on Sunday after preaching at my church in the morning, I’ll be heading North to Rome, NY to minister at Delta Lake Bible Conference in their Haven Camp program for adults with special needs. It should be a great two weeks of ministry. About the only thing is, I will miss my family a lot over that time. It’s a long time to be away. Please keep this ministry and my family in your prayers during this time. Posts may be few and far between for the next few days. What a great time to scan the archives. I have almost 2800 posts on here. Check them out.
God bless,

This morning at the gym, I heard a song that may be the anthem for poor choices. I don’t know the title of the song or the artist. I just know the chorus repeats ad-nauseum, “I like us better when we’re wasted.” Now I do premarital counseling and if I ever heard a couple say this to me, I would 1.) refuse to marry them, and 2.) advocate that they run screaming from this relationship as quickly as possible. If you need to abuse substances to stand being around someone, I could be wrong but it seems that the relationship might be less than constructive, which is my nice way of saying “doomed!” This is the kind of music I hear every day. It’s almost all auto-tuned, with lots of synthesized instruments. I know I’m supposed to speak the truth in love, so I will say that occasionally there is a beat that I can sync with to get the stationary bike going a little faster, but other than that, I just can’t stand it.

It was after another gym session and having seen the ad for another cinematic masterpiece last night just before bed, that inspired this semi snarky Facebook Post.

‘Okay here’s my creative conundrum. If the music I hear at my gym can get recorded, I can write a hit song. If Sharknado 5 (yes, 5) can get made, I can make a movie. That is all.”

Here’s the thing. I really mean it and I want to do it. Now I have no musical ability, so the hit song might be tough. Of course, I do know musicians who can do some heavy lifting on this. But the movie thing… I’m serious as a funeral about that, metaphorically speaking. I don’t care if it’s a low-budget, direct to video Christian film, I just want to tell a story that will touch hearts and minds and inspire someone to do something good in this world. I want to create something that spurs someone, and ideally a lot of people, on to love and good deeds. After all, God didn’t make me a creative to keep this stuff to myself. He didn’t make you creative for that either.

Let’s create great stuff and get it out there for the world to see. We have to be able to do better than some of the really destructive stuff (not to mention bad) stuff that is out there.

So what about you? What is the project that is banging on the walls of your heart, trying to get out?

In just a few more days, I will be traveling to South Carolina for a week to do some disaster recovery mission work. Truth be known, I am a little apprehensive. See if I was going there to do some art, that’s be okay, I have some skills there. If I was going to preach God’s Word, well God has blessed me in that area as well, and besides I can lean on His Word and depend on His Spirit. This is different. This is construction. Truth be known, I know I am more than a conqueror in Christ but with a hammer in my hand I feel less than incompetent. Compound this with the fact that I am going with my congregation, in the role of their pastor and maybe you understand my trepidation. When I work with them in my normal capacity, I am working in the power of the Spirit and in my gifting. What will they think when they find out I can’t hammer a nail straight or that I’m a walking pile of insecurity with a wrench? What if I smash one of my fingers with a hammer when the old nature is a little too close to the front or my mind? Truth be known, I have tried to prepare them for my incompetence, but what will they think when they see I was not exaggerating for comedic effect?

Then of course there are the intangibles, what if I snore or talk in my sleep or make some other unfortunate sounds in my sleep, if you know what i mean? I know it sounds funny, but I love these people. They have put a lot of trust in me, and I do not want to let them down. And then there’s God. He has entrusted me with these people and I really don’t want to let Him down. Of course I know the answer. I have to trust Him. I have to rely on Him to help me. It’s really no different than any other aspect of my ministry, which bring forth another question. Am I leaning too much on my own strengths and am I too confident in my own abilities? I’m being a little vulnerable here today. What about you? Where do you feel confident and what makes you squirm?