Posts Tagged ‘imagination’


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.

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As I consider The Imaginative Church, I decided to do a word search on Biblegateway.com to see how the word imagination is used in the Bible. Surprisingly, it doesn’t fare very well. It only appears four times in the NIV translation of the Bible and every single time it appears, it’s in a negative context.

Psalm 73:7 From their callous hearts comes iniquity; their evil imaginations have no limits.

Isaiah 65:2 All day long I have held out my hands to an obstinate people, who walk in ways not good, pursuing their own imaginations—

Ezekiel 13:2 “Son of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel who are now prophesying. Say to those who prophesy out of their own imagination: ‘Hear the word of the Lord!

Ezekiel 13:17 “Now, son of man, set your face against the daughters of your people who prophesy out of their own imagination. Prophesy against them

That’s a little depressing and maybe even off putting when you’re trying to encourage people in the church to empower and embrace their imaginations. Please understand the above verses are not what I want you to embrace—not by a long shot.

Instead I want to look at the aforementioned Abraham, who chose to look past the impossibility of what God had foretold, choosing instead to believe God to be able to overcome impossible, or David using his faith and examples of God’s faithfulness, to look past an imposing giant, to a better the better reality that stood on the other side of victory, or a young virgin who looked an angel in the eye and said, may it be to me as you have said. The way I am using imagination is in this way—Where we look past the seeming realities of our world to trust in the faithfulness of our God to overcome the obstacles and do our part in bringing forth the Church that God desires to bring forth. It’s not imagination for imagination’s sake. It’s letting God show us the possibilities when things look impossible. It’s letting God use us as He calls into being that which is currently not (Romans 4:17)

This is not about vain imaginations. It’s about seeking the heart of God and the Mind of Christ. Let God inspire your imagination. Breathe in (the literal interpretation of the word “inspire”) the vision God is wanting to bring to life in you. Then step out in faith, and in Him, to bring it to reality.

This will require us to really seek God. It will require us to do as Paul says, in 2 Corinthians 10:5. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. It involves submission to God and to His Word, immense amounts of prayer and a full dependence on the God for whom all things are possible.

Imagination is essential to Christians. One of the most popular Christian songs of all times is I Can Only Imagine. The song reminds us of something essential to faith. Our ultimate hope is in Christ and the eternal life He bought for us with His blood. It is a place that is far from imaginary. It is in many ways the most real place there is. We see it described in Scripture, but the only way we can see it on this side of the grave is in our imaginations. We live this life in hopes of a world we can only imagine, trusting God to get us there. Let’s let God use that same imagination to help us imagine a church that will draw people to Him and ultimately to that place we can only imagine.


A project that has been on my mind for years, and it’s time. I call it The Imaginative Church. The idea is pretty simple. I want to see the church embrace their imagination to find new ways to communicate the unchanging truth of God’s Word. I already have worked up a lot of this material in various forms, but I am finally going to curate it into a compendium of (hopefully) useful information. Stay tuned, and in the mean time, which cover do you like better?

A.

or B.

Share your vote in the comments.


nc1aLast Night I did my new presentation on what may be my favorite verse in all of Scripture, 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, the old has gone and the news has come.” I was trying to think of a good painting to do with it. I’ve already done butterflies and frogs exploring the metamorphosis concept of complete change, but that wasn’t quite right, So I went at it a completely different way.

First off I did something I almost never do. I started with a white surface. I usually speed paint on black. I started off by doing a very simple line art self portrait. What the congregation may not have realized is I was really gobbing on the black paint. Then I added some sky blue around it. What they didn’t know. was it was my intent from the beginning to wreck the painting. Taking paper towels I smeared it into a cloudy mess and then quit. When I began to speak, I spoke of how we basically start as a clean slate, but then life happens and we sin and we get splattered by the effects of sin and it makes a mess of us. I then talked about what it means to be a new creation in Christ—the way He transforms and renews and redeems us.

nc1bAt the end of the message I painted a picture of Jesus over the mess. The reason, when Christ redeems us, He allows us to put on His righteousness. The finished project was a little less successful than I like. For some reason my surface started to warp and it was falling out of the easel. Speed painting while holding your surface with the other hand is not easy. Nonetheless, the painting which took a total of about 8 minutes for both phases demonstrated what it was supposed to demonstrate and I was pleased.

Here’s the point, in Christ there is grace and forgiveness, but there is also transformation. Your past does not dictate your future. You can be redeemed. God can take your life and make it into something new. He can take the best of you and make it better. He can redeem the rest of you and turn it into a powerful testimony. God created you and He can also recreate you and when He does (and He will if you ask Him) you will be a new creation.


dry-bones-live-liveLast night I got to do my new message called inspiration. As many of my regular readers know, I believe waiting for inspiration is a terrible idea (most of the time) I believe we need to seek it out and occasionally hunt it down. We need to seek God and believe that He will speak. Inspiration (at least the best kind) comes from God and He has been doing it for us since the very beginning when He breathed His live into our first father, Adam and he became a living soul. That’s what inspiration is God breathing life into us and into the things that He allows us to create.

In scripture we see this in Ezekiel 37, where God leads Ezekiel into the valley of dry bones. There God instructs Ezekiel to speak to the bones, to prophesy, and the bones come back to life. They rise up and become a mighty army. This is a prophecy for the nation of Israel but I think it’s for us as well. As we look at the condition of our nation and even the church, it is clear we are not in a great place right now. We need something from the Lord. We need His to breathe new life into us again. We need Him to speak into our lives oh and one more thing. We need His Word.

You see Scripture tells us that all Scripture is God breathed. that it is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness so that the person of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. Over and over I see people, even in the church, that would like to leave portions of God’s Word on the cutting room floor. The thing is truth is a very powerful thing and a very fragile thing. Add a little to it, take a little from it and it is no longer truth. This God breathed Word is life to us. We are not supposed to change it, it is supposed to change us. We need to reconnect to the source of our power. We need to recommit to the Word of God. If we do, God will breathe new life into His church and we will return to being the mighty army God intended us to be. An army in a battle that is not with flesh and blood but with the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. A battle that is as real as anything you see in the news, and the source of most everything you see on the news. And that army will be the one that the gates of hell will not be able to prevail against.

The photo above is the painting I did with the message. It’s done in two phases and takes a total of 12 minutes. It’s based on a much more detailed painting I did for this stop motion video (which took days to complete). The message is part of a series called Imagination, Inspiration, Perspiration, New Creation, Re-Creation. I’d love to bring this series to your church. Contact me for more information.


In our world there seem to be an almost infinite amount of things we can be worried about—things that can strike fear into our hearts. Terror, the economy, even the upcoming election, all these things and many more can send us cowering into a corner. In the midst of everything, we have this command from Jesus to now worry:

Matthew 6:25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Like everything else Jesus said, it’s absolutely true. Most of what we worry about never happens and even the stuff that does happen is largely out of our control. No use allowing our fears to limit the size of our world. What is fear really? It’s imagination misused. We imagine the worst and the worst is what we end up with. On the other hand we serve a God for whom all things are possible. This should allow us to see past fear to infinite possibilities and when we see infinite possibilities we can stop cowering in fear and start working toward solutions.

The first step in any problem, whether real or imagined, is prayer. Take your worries, your fears and your actual problems to the One who knows everything. This is a first response not a last ditch effort. Then trust, obey and move. In every problem, God can. God is capable. We just need to be faithful and remember the first five letters in faithfulness are F-A-I-T-H.

Let’s imagine better and then work to make it so.


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.