Posts Tagged ‘hope’

This year, I am going to post creative challenges from God’s Word, the idea is simple, read the passage and create something based on it.

Let’s continue on with perseverance

Romans 5:2-5

This passage talks about how struggles build perseverance, perseverance builds character and character builds hope. How would you express this passage to someone who is struggling? How could you express it as a reminder to you in your current struggle or next struggle.

So I was spending the night at my church last night. Due to my somewhat unusual commute, I have a parsonage I stay at a couple nights a week. Because I don’t live there full time, I don’t have TV or WiFi there, and most times that’s okay. I can spend my time reading, studying, creating, etc. but occasionally I am a little tired and can’t really do anything that requires too much brain power, so I will download a few videos to my Kindle Fire and watch them. That was what I had in mind for last night. I had seen that an actress I really liked from a show I enjoyed that was cancelled, has gotten a new show and I was curious, so I downloaded an episode to check it out. Well in the first few moments of the movie, said actress was being beaten, tortured and apparently murdered. Cut to the courtroom in time to see her killer (I’m assuming) being convicted and a reporter talking about the brutal signature this killer put on his crimes… and delete. I just couldn’t go there. Please keep in mind this was no more that five minutes into the first episode, the pilot, and probably more like two.

Am I intrigued? Yes. How do you kill off the character whose face is the ad for your show in the first minutes of the first episode. Surely there are a multitude of interesting plot twists available and a lot of interesting directions to go, but can I be honest? I can’t see any of them that will leave me feeling uplifted and positive. I think this is an example of what I often say, “you can have imagination without hope.” Thing is there is enough hopelessness in the real world. I don’t need it in my entertainment, and that, Christian creative is why we need you.

I do say “You can have imagination without hope.” but I also say “You can’t have hope without imagination.” To hope is to imagine something better and while I can often see hopelessness in the real world, especially on the news, I am also faith-filled enough to remember that where there is Jesus, there is hope. Friends we need hope-filled people out there telling us hope-filled stories. Stories where the good guys win. Stories that will trigger hope in our hearts and remind us that no matter how dark things look, there is always hope. We need positive stories and positive images. We need positive, uplifting songs and movies and plays. We need to be reminded that there is good in this world and that we have the ultimate hope. We need people who will utilize their God given creativity to show us glimpses of hope and reminders of victory. It doesn’t have to be all sunshine and lollipops, there can be conflict and loss and a whole bunch of other “real world” things, but give us reminders of hope.

This world is not hopeless because God is and always will be. Let our creative work spur people on to love and good deeds. Let us create work that speaks to people and uplifts their souls. Let’s create art that does more than just entertain. It takes our imaginations into the light and inspires us to the endless possibilities available to those who trust in the One for whom all things are possible. Jesus calls us the light of the world, and this is a way to shine in the darkness.

Wishing you a very blessed Easter Sunday. He is Risen and with Him comes HOPE!

Someone dear posted about a struggle she is having over the use of the light of the world passage in the inauguration. I actually didn’t see it, not because I was boycotting or anything, but simply because I was working and didn’t have time to get away. I’m sure we come at things from different points of view. I’m older and somewhat more conservative and yet I could understand her angst. If you’ve been following this blog you know I think the election was sort of a no win situation and wonder if our two choices don’t reflect a nation under judgment. Nonetheless, her post spawned this response.

“Here’s what He [Jesus] said, “You are the light of the world, A city on a hill cannot be hidden, nor do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on a stand and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way let your light shine before people that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” Politics is part of the world system, and while occasionally people go in there and shine, government is not usually where the light comes from. At another point in Scripture Jesus said He was the light of the world. We reflect His light. We need to pray for our government, but we can’t wait for it. We need to shine. We need to do good for others in God’s name, whatever the government does and even in spite of the government sometimes. Darkness doesn’t exist. Darkness is the absence of light. When you find yourself in darkness, the best thing to do is shine.”

Regardless of your political position, what’s done is done and our job remains the same. We Christians are in this world to reflect the light of Jesus. Once you cast your vote, your part in the process largely came to an end. It is time to get back to shining the light by doing good and working in faithfulness to live a life of blessing and grace. If we are faithful to our calling, God will be glorified and when God is glorified, in big and small ways, things change.

51-kgOGer0LSpoiler Alert. If you’ve not read the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy series and you want to, don’t read any further. When I went on vacation in June. I thought I might have a lot of time to read so I brought along my copy of the complete collection of all five of the books in the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy Trilogy (that’s not an error). Over 800 pages of Pythonesque British humor. There were a couple of moments I could have done without but for the most part it was a funny as I remembered. I had never read the final book Mostly Harmless, so I read through the entire trilogy to get to that point. It took weeks. Last night I finished it and here comes the spoiler, you have been warned. I was nearing the end. about five pages from the end and I thought, I know there are no more books and the author has since passed away, and there are a lot of things in this book that still need to be resolved.

And then it happened. He tied up all the loose ends by killing everyone, all the main characters and the entire population of the earth. On one hand it was masterful storytelling, on the other hand, I can’t stand it when a story ends without hope. Don’t get me wrong, the main character dies in a lot of great books. The Bible comes to mind, but in all great stories, there is a point to the death, someone is rescued, someone is helped, freed, cured, etc. I couldn’t stand the idea that these characters that I started to relate to no longer exist, nothing was gained from their deaths, nothing but a scorched, vaporized earth. It felt so pointless. Sometimes the hero dies, but the hero needs to win.

That’s called hope.

My conclusion, interesting at times hilarious book, terrible ending. three stars.

Read the Bible instead. The hero dies, rescues all of humanity and then rises again. True story, with an awesome ending, a Googolplex (1 followed by a billion zeroes) of stars.

A few months ago I was asked to present at a church planters conference. I was given two different topics. Did I want to speak on Hope or Imagination? I said, “Yes!” I really wanted to speak on both, but they had another person to take the opposite. Still I had the choice. I chose imagination, because I was struck by this thought.

“You can have imagination without hope. We see it all the time, but you can’t have hope without imagination. In order to have hope, you have to imagine something better.”

Imagine better. With God all things are possible.

There are times for al but the strongest in faith where fear and doubt come to call and when they do it is a real bear. Is it a lack of faith? To some degree, yes, but the purpose of this post is not to beat us up. Often, at least for me, it starts with a kernel of doubt. Often it’s not a doubt about God but rather looking at our own abilities, our own resources and doubting we are up to the challenge at hand. When this happens, doubt gets on a roll and invites her ugly stepsister, fear, to the party. From there, it’s a downhill slide. The ultimate assault is on our faith, and a byproduct of that is an attack on creativity.

You see creativity and faith are the two things that are needed to get us through the majority of our struggles. Faith brings hope and creativity helps us to find the solution to the problem. Without those two things we will wallow in fear and hope (while still there) become nearly invisible.

Here’s what we need to remember. There is hope because there is God. We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. God is not fickle, He’s solid, the same yesterday, today and forever. He loves you today, He will love you tomorrow, and He is always there, walking us through the valleys.

Don’t make the mistake of looking at this post and thinking I am a strong person who has this mastered. Truth be known, I am writing this at what I hope is the end of a valley myself. Fear and doubt did a number on me just yesterday and in writing this, I really hope it helps someone, but ultimately this is as much about reminding myself.

God is always good. He’s bigger than our fears and our doubts.


Well, I just cancelled open studio for my creative arts group because, surprise, surprise, surprise, another winter storm is violating the sanctity of the March 1 cut-off. Okay truthfully, I have just had enough. The first couple snows are pretty, but by this time, the white stuff and the corresponding ice has run it’s course in my mind. It makes me have to cancel things, keeps me from taking bookings that are too far from home and of course, I have to shovel it. (Right now some of my New York/New England readers are saying “Cry me a river,” but I digress.)

In the past I would always say “I hate Winter” and in truth, I still kind of do, but here’s the thing. God gave me Winter. He made Winter and all the other seasons for a reason and God is always good. So in spite of all the inconveniences, I am trying to come to appreciate this season. There are a lot of things like that in life. Things we’d just as soon not go through, but if we try hard enough we can see God at work in them.

I have a friend who left Florida to move here to Pennsylvania at least in part because she missed the seasons. I never really understood that. My occasional winter ministry trips to Florida are like an oasis in my year. There is nothing like getting on a plane shivering and getting off the plane in short sleeves. I could get used to that. Winter is a season I could truly do without and if you’re in the south and want to fly in a speaker in Winter, I would be grateful.

Truth be known, I was hatching a snowbird plan for a few years down the road, but then I found out the Lord is giving me another blessing, one that will keep me here, one that is worth shoveling and slipping and sliding for and I couldn’t be happier. It’s like that with God sometimes. About the time you are ready to throw in the towel, He reminds us that there is good in most things.

So I will try not to say I hate winter anymore. There’s no point in hating something you can do very little about and it’s a really bad idea to hate something God created on purpose for a purpose (a good purpose, Dave says somewhat begrudgingly). If you’re going to hate something, hate sin and try to do something about it. If you’re going to hate something, hate injustice and try to make things right.

There’s one other thing to consider. The aggravating things in life help us to appreciate the non-aggravating things and the really good things. the things that bring us joy. Winter will never be my favorite time of year, but man do I appreciate Spring! When I hit those Winter doldrums, Spring feels a lot like hope.

Spring is coming.

I am reading through Erwin McManus’ newest book, The Artisan Soul: Crafting Your Life into a Work of Art for a book study I am leading. The chapter we are dealing with this week is on interpretation, namely how we perceive and interpret our lives. It’s a wonderful chapter which I have highlighted incessantly. McManus ends the chapter with these words.

It was Einstein who said, “There are two ways to live your life—one is as though nothing is a miracle and the other is as if everything is a miracle.” Interpretation matters. What is your interpretation of life?

I think this is really what it comes down to ad while it’s important for everyone, it is especially important for those of us who have been entrusted with a creative gift. Our work is not just an interpretation of our own lives but it helps others to interpret their lives. Will we help them to see the miracle of another day, of another chance, of hope and of redemption? Can you see those things in your own life? Most of life really is how we interpret it. We don’t get to choose our circumstances, but we do get to we interpret them and that can make all the difference.

How do you interpret life?

I almost can’t believe I am writing this post. Yesterday Robin Williams died, apparently by his own hand. It’s tragic. One who brought so much joy to so many, could no longer find it in himself. He was a great entertainer and one of the funniest people alive and he will be sorely missed.

So many people are at a loss today. The resonating question is why? He had a great career, wealth, all of what the world had to offer, success most of us dream of and literally millions of fans. It’s the stuff of creative dreams and don’t miss this, it wasn’t enough. Most people will never get it but I do and my guess is, I am not the only one.

We creatives tend to feel more deeply. We tend to be more passionate. We tend toward perfectionism and, as visionary people, there is always more to be done to remake the world so it matches the vision that lives in our hearts. This is our blessing. This is our curse. If we’re not careful, no matter what we have no matter what heights we reach, it’ll never be enough.

I didn’t know Mr. Williams, so may be I am completely off base here, but I do know me and I have stood at the same precipice looking into the unknown and wondering if it was worth it to live another day, and while I didn’t have all that he had, I had plenty to live for, but I couldn’t see it. Thankfully for me this has changed.

Here’s what I learned:

There is hope. Those visionary dreams we see, the ones we can’t seem to get to… well there’s no guarantee that we get all the way there. Hope isn’t found in reaching the destination, it’s in moving forward toward it. Gaining ground becomes the goal, moving the ball forward. Even if I can’t get in the end zone, I can move the ball forward, so someone else can. He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

You are worth it. Every time you get the idea that you’re worthless, remember who you are. The Son of God laid down his life and rose again so that you and I could live eternally when our missions are complete. Your value is high, both to God and to many others.

Life is worth it. We don’t get to pick our level of success, but neither do we really know what success is. At any moment, even in some of the tamest, seemingly weakest moments, we can do something that changes the course of history (in big or small ways) forever. You never know what will be the thing that makes all the difference, so press on. Jesus said, “In this world you will, have trouble but take heart I have overcome the world.” Hang in there, because with Jesus, eventually, we win.

You are loved. By God certainly, and that should be enough, but also by many people whether you believe it or not. There are a lot of people in this world who want you to stay in it. You enrich their lives.

There are of course many other lessons, but these four are special because they are the exact opposite of what the enemy of our souls tells us when he wants to destroy us. It’s hopeless, you’re worthless, life just isn’t worth living, nobody loves you, these are lies of the enemy from the pit of hell, told for your destruction. Don’t you believe them. There is hope, you have great value, life is worth it and you are loved. Believe it and if you need help to believe it, get help.

As I looked at all the social media tributes to this entertainment legend, I had a strange thought, I wonder if seeing this ourpouring of love and adoration would have changed his mind. Unfortunately, we’ll never know. Suicide is a permanent “solution” to a temporary problem.

It gets better… get help… and push through.