Posts Tagged ‘creativity’

I was given a review copy of this book from the publisher. It actually ended up being the third book in this series that I have read this year. While I was reading her book on Colossians, I felt led to preach through Ephesians at my church so I purchased that one as well. These are quality books with the plain spoken insights I have come to expect from Joyce Meyer. Galatians has always been an interesting book to me. It shows us the Apostle Paul taking a stand in defense of his church. Mrs. Meyer takes us into these somewhat challenging chapters not just explaining what was happening but helping the reader to see how the book of Galatians applies to our everyday life. She wisely forgoes dense theological language and gives us the simple truth, which I really appreciated. I would highly recommend these books as a resource for someone leading a Bible study or Sunday School class. Mrs. Meyer has done a great job here once again.

A short time ago I received Joyce Meyer’s Biblical Commentary on Colossians as well as her book on Galatians from the publisher for review. In the process of reviewing the book on Colossians, I felt led to preach through the book of Ephesians at my church, and since I was so pleased with her book on Colossians (I am also working through the book on Galatians as we speak) so I decided to order her book on Ephesians. I am fully aware that Mrs. Meyer gets grief from some people in the church, but I like her and have always found her refreshing. She has a plain spoken, and forgive me for saying it this way, but “No-bull” approach to presenting God’s Word. I have seen her speak “live” several times and have been duly impressed. This is the case in these books as well. She goes through these verses in order by theme and breaks them down concisely and very effectively. I found many great insights in these pages and the book will be very helpful as I go to present this series. What I love about these books, is her style. Often commentaries feel like the author wants to impress me with their huge words and dense theological terminology. Mrs. Meyer takes a different approach. She speaks the truth plainly in ways that can be clearly understood by layman and scholar alike. I would really endorse these books for anyone wanting to lead a Bible study. Each chapter contains a thought provoking reflection question that would help with application and she offers a downloadable study guide besides.

The publisher offered me a free copy of this book for review purposes and I decided to give it a shot. I’ve always found Ms. Meyer’s no-nonsense approach to the Word of God refreshing and that certainly comes through here. She breaks the book down passage by passage and gives great insights to their meaning.

As an example, when commenting on Colossians 2:2 and 3 “2 My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Ms. Meyer keys in on the wisdom and knowledge hidden in Christ at one point and says, “Whenever you need wisdom in a situation or any time you need to know something, the answer is ‘hidden’ in Christ. It is not hidden because God does not want you to find it; it is hidden because God wants you to seek it.” Her comments are full of the plain-spoken wisdom I have come to both expect and appreciate.

I would not go so far as to call it a commentary, but there is clearly a fair amount of research happening here, as she references other texts, the Greek, etc. As a text for a church Bible study, this book would be a great guide. The book is a quick read at 180 pages but I really do feel I came away with a better understanding of Colossians. This could be a very useful resource. Check it out.

I was listening to a YouTube video of Michael W. Smith’s version of Everywhere I Go I See You. I love that song. Somewhere in this midst of this lyric video that someone cobbled together there was a photo of three crosses. I’m not sure why it struck me, after all I’ve seen that type of photo a million times, but, for some reason, it did. It wasn’t unusual, the middle one, the one Jesus would have been on, was slightly higher than the rest. I wonder was it really that way. I mean we Christians perceive it should be higher than the rest, but did a bunch of pagan Roman executioners get the significance of what they were seeing? I doubt it. Yes I know later in the day a centurion did, but the executioners? I still kind of doubt it.

The second thing I noticed was that the center cross is ever so slightly askew. That struck me as somewhat odd. Needless to say, the one in the photo is a modern construction and not the original, and yet there was something striking in the “askew-ness.” The cross was not built for permanence. When Jesus was taken down, someone else was probably put up. The cross didn’t have to be perfect, it didn’t have to be permanent, it just had to kill. On that day, most people didn’t get the significance and they surely didn’t see the permanence, but on that day everything changed. Jesus changed the narrative. A cruel instrument of death, became a symbol of life and peace and for those who place their faith in Christ and His finished work on the cross, everything changed forever. A temporary structure, was used to create a new permanence. Life forever for all who believe.

Embrace the permanence of life in Christ.

This is a fantastic book on the Holy Spirit, combining biblical teaching with testimonies from people who have seen the work in their lives. Cymbala has written a book that is encouraging and convicting at the same time. The book speaks to our need for the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers, from His help in prayer and comprehending Scripture, to His power in our lives.

This is a must read especially for the season we’re in right now.

Confession time. I have been angry and frustrated over all things COVID for quite some time now. I’ve looked with doubt at politicians and media sources. I have swallowed a few too many conspiracy theories and I have been frustrated. Bottom line, I’ve been doing a lot of asking why. If you’re a regular reader here, you know I’ve posted a few things on this, but I’ve decided, (and I can only do this with the Lord’s help) to stop. You see, in prayer I have seen a new question.

A few weeks ago, in our Zoom Bible study, we got into a good discussion of the permissive will of God. I’ve come to the conclusion that God brings some things upon us and the enemy brings other things upon us, but nothing happens without God’s allowing it to happen. Well today a new thought crossed my mind. Chief among my frustrations with this whole COVID situation has been the inability to worship the Lord with a body of believers, but hear me out, God allowed that to happen. The question then is why? Why would God effectively allow corporate worship to be shut down? Please resist the urge to write me a response to my question. The question isn’t for you. The question is one we, especially we who are church leaders, need to be asking God.

I was going to place some suggested reasons here, but I felt some pretty strong leading not to do that. Instead I urge us all to spend some time on our faces before God asking that question.

Today I was reading Romans 9 and saw this verse. “Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use?” Romans 9:21 (NIV)

Here’s what I came up with.

I was not entirely sure what to expect from this book, but I bought it on the recommendation of a friend, predominantly for two reasons: 1. the reputation of its author and 2. the need of information on this topic as a church leader. The book did not disappoint. Piper struck while the iron was hot as the saying goes, and I mean no disingenuousness in that statement at all. This short but ultra timely book was so amazing and well thought out. It was a real blessing to me. It holds none of the speculation, theories (conspiracy or otherwise) and there is not even a hint of politics in it’s pages. This does not surprise me because it comes from John Piper, but given the rest of the coverage corona has received, it was really refreshing. What Piper does here is what I would expect from him and what I hope people get from me as a pastor. That is, he takes us to God’s Word and shows us the purpose in the pain. He pulls no punches, but this book gives hope, and encouragement along with the tough love. This is a fantastic book. The only change I might have made was to broaden the title, here, because while it does deal with corona virus, it could deal with virtually any of the struggles we face in life. It only took me a few hours to read this book, but it was time well spent. One of the timeliest books I have ever read.

Each year in May I run an online artistic challenge called Art Mayhem. It’s pretty much from the pop art/low brow/creature art side of my art work and designed to stretch people a little. Nothing deeply spiritual here, just a way to connect with others and to build relationships.
It’s always fun, so if you’re looking for a way to ramp up your gifts, give it a try.

You can even join the Art Mayhem Facebook group if you want to share your work with the world.

If you want to see something that is truly a dichotomy, look at my Facebook feed. Being an artist and a minister will do that. The thing is I really care about all of these people, but at times it feels like I’m being drawn and quartered, but most of the time, it just feels like something I grew quite used to in my teenage years. I don’t really fit in anywhere. On one hand I see the liberal Christians I know, lauding our churches being shut down due to COVID as a badge of honor and those who want to open as if they are committing an act of violence. All I can say is I miss my people. I’m doing online services and trying my best to minister, but my most at risk people from COVID are the ones I can do the least for. I can’t visit, and the best I can deliver for them is a phone call and, as a worship experience, cobbling my sermon notes together into a letter they can read. That breaks my heart.

Then on the other side, the more conservative folks are posting things. like this quote from Steven Lawson which stated “Stop with the secular wisdom from the pulpit. Cancel the entertainment in the church. Fire the drama team. Get rid of the schtick. Unplug the colored lights. Put the pulpit in the center of the building. Stand up like a man, open the Bible, lift it up, let it out and let it fly.” Now two things, first of all I’ve never heard Mr. Lawson, and I know nothing about him. Secondly, I agree with some of what he said here, but when he speaks to firing the drama team, I just want to cringe. Now before we go any further, when it comes to God’s Word, I am pretty conservative. I believe the Bible is inerrant and that unless otherwise noted, the Bible says what it means and means what it says. Mr. Lawson’s approach will work just fine in a room full of established believers. The problem is a church should not necessarily ever be full of established believers. We should be constantly reaching beyond the walls and people need to be met where they are. Further, one day I will stand before God to give an account. What will I say when God asks me why He gave me a whole bunch of talented people that could have been used mightily to reach those people?

Now to be clear, I will never hold a church service where God’s Word is not preached, ever, but part of my responsibility is to find the gifted and help them to use their gifts to serve the Lord. After all, I am a walking illustration of how that works. I was dwelling on these thoughts as I was walking this morning and I started to pray. I was taken to an unusual place, to my favorite band from my teenage years, long before I was a believer. The band is Rush. I loved that band. When it seemed everyone else was trying to feed me a diet of sex, drugs and rock and roll, Rush was giving me classic literature, complex stories, Greek mythology and more. The song I was led to was their epic, full side of an album song Hemispheres. The opening lyrics say, “When our weary world was young, The struggle of the ancients first began.The gods of Love and Reason, Sought alone to rule the fate of Man.” Yes it’s mythology. Yes, I only believe in one God and yet, this is the battle—science vs. faith, heart vs. mind. What people tend to ignore is we are all led by both. The object of my faith is the Creator of science, and I am commanded to love Him with all my heart, soul and mind. He is the Lord of both heart and mind. He is Creator. He is the greatest theologian and the greatest artist. To love Him is to love all of Him. He is Lord of heart and soul and mind. Why should I put Him in a box?

Maybe that’s why I was drawn to the song this morning. Now it’s not a Christian song by any stretch of the imagination. What it is, is an amazing work of art. The song expresses the battle between heart and mind. It shows how when one is emphasized over the other, both sides are weakened. In the song, there is a person in the midst of this battle who sees something better— balance. Heart and mind together, and the gods of Olympus promote him to being Cygnus, the god of balance. Now I know I titled this piece Am I Cygnus? Let me first off state, that I have no desire to be a god, nor do I have any illusions toward that, but what if God has given me the gifts and talents and, dare I say, passions He has given to, in some small way, bring balance? And what if I’m not alone. What if there are a lot of us out here, who don’t always fit, but who have a calling to minister from both heart and mind? What if we refuse to be either/or, but to proclaim the truth of the unchanging Gospel with all of our gifts and talents? What if that’s why we don’t fit?