Posts Tagged ‘rory noland’


(c) Balliol College, University of Oxford; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

(c) Balliol College, University of Oxford; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

William Temple was the 98th Archbishop of Canterbury, of the Church of England. He was a theologian and scholar and his definition of worship is one of the best I have ever seen. People seem to assume that worship is music, it isn’t. Music is a tool used in worship. It is an element of worship and it can be used to draw us into worship. I spend so much time calling this out, not because I dislike music. I love music, but I have seen so many churches splinter over style of worship and specifically style of music, that I feel the need to call this out. Worship is not about our preferences, it’s for an audience of One. Worship is for God. Yes it draws us to God. Yes there are styles that we enjoy more than others, but we should never let what we do for God to divide us. That strips away all the Worship in it and I believe breaks the heart of God. Jesus said, “They will know you are my disciples by the way you love one another.” There’s no room for worship wars in that.

Instead, we should see worship as Temple defined it. I broke it down into bullet points to help us absorb it.

  • Worship is the submission of all nature to God.
  • It is the quickening of conscience by His holiness;
  • the nourishment of mind with His truth;
  • the purifying of imagination by his holiness;
  • the opening of the heart to His love;
  • the surrender of will to His purpose—
  • and all of this gathered up in adoration,
  • the most selfless emotion of which our nature is capable,
  • and therefore the chief remedy for that self-centeredness which is our original sin and the source of all actual sin.

Did you notice the final element of that related to self-centeredness? Demanding our preferences would qualify. Instead let’s return our focus to the true object of our worship. Matt Redman wrote a song called Heart of Worship about this very thing. Here is the background of the song.

By the way, this definition came from my reading of Heart of the Artist by Rory Noland

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There once was an old patron of the arts who was leaving town for a while, so he gathered his little colony of artists together for a going away party. To one artist he gave five talents, to another he issued two talents, and to yet another he entrusted one talent. After they drove their benefactor to the airport, the artists all went their separate ways (as artists often do) Several months later, the old patron returned, all rested and suntanned. The artist who was given five talents eagerly met him at the gate. “Master, you entrusted me with five talents and look, I’ve gained five more talents,” he enthused.

“Well done,” said the patron. “I am full of joy. You were faithful and I will give you even more.”

The artist who was given two talents ran down the concourse shouting, “Master, you entrusted me with two talents, and look, I’ve gained two more talents.”

“Well done,” said the old man. “I am full of overjoyed. You were faithful and I will give you even more.”

The artist who was given one talent was waiting by the baggage claim. “Master,” he sheepishly started, “I didn’t want you to get mad at me. I’m pretty sensitive, you know, and I don’t handle rejection very well, and it’s so had being an artist in this cold, cruel world. I wasn’t really good enough to make it big-time, because you only gave me one talent, so I didn’t do anything with my talent. I hid it. Here, you can have it back.” The artist opened his hand and looked straight down at his shoes. The talent was as new and undeveloped as the day he got it.

The old man was silent. The he responded in a soft voice, “My dear friend, you have squandered a fortune. I gave you something that was meant to be used. The issue was not how much I gave but what you did with what you had.”

The previous story is Rory Noland’s adaptation of the parable of the talents (Matthew 25) from his book, Heart of the Artist. When I read this, I knew I had to share it because it speaks to something I have noticed in many people, especially creatives. There is a very real temptation in us to compare ourselves with others, find ourselves lacking and give up. If we can’t be the best in the world, we don’t want to do anything. This is crazy. First of all there can only be one person who is best in the world at any given thing. Should the rest of us just give up? NO! Well, maybe, okay, yes, there is something we all need to give up. We need to give up comparing and start being faithful with what is in our hands. The very valuable gifts and talents God has given us. There are His tools for building His Kingdom and He has placed them in our hands. He’s not asking you to be the best in the world. He’s asking you to do the best you can.

At the end of the day, there is one thing that each of us can be the best in the world at being. It’s you. Think about it. You are a one of a kind masterpiece created by the greatest artist there has ever been, God Himself. Be the best you you can be in Him. Create what He has given you to create and give it your best, then put it out there for the world to see. No doubt someone will think your work is not that great. Go to any art museum in the world and you will see work that you don’t particularly like. Just remember, it’s still in the museum. It is there because someone thought it was beautiful, or important, or meaningful. It’s the same with your work. Some people will probably hate it. Ignore them. You are creating first for God and secondly for the people who will be touched by what you do. Those people will love you and your work and by the way they are worthy of your very best.

God has invested at least one extremely valuable talent in you.

Don’t squander your fortune!