Category Archives: Faith

Holding on to Hope

Hope is sometimes hard to hold onto in this life.  It isn’t always an easy process.  There have been seasons where I have tried to write our my feelings in a song but have been at a loss for lyrics.  The situation I was in was so complex that it was hard to express in words.  At those times I have found that the music itself was a better medium for my heart than lyrics.  I think that my creativity is sometimes directly tied to hope.

Hope

So if my ability to create is so connected to hope what is my hope tied to? I’m realizing that my ability to look at the world with hope is directly related to how I view my relationship with God and His purposes for my life.  Many in my circles talk about “preaching the gospel to yourself.”

That might seem a strange place to begin when creating art (for me music and lyrics).  But the truth found in the “gospel” can provide clarity and perspective.

Understanding that God has chosen to pursue me in love is the beginning of hope. For when I was “dead” spiritually He loved me.  In Jesus death He has freed me from the penalty of sin and and given me freedom in Jesus’ resurrection. Not only that but as a Father he has adopted me as a son, and now I am no longer a  slave to sin.  This is the gospel message I have learned to preach to my heart.

A lack of hope in my life leads to self doubt, pessimism, and powerlessness. In the moment I forget the gospel these issues begin to surface.  It is actually the gospel that is the cure for these Hope killers!

The cure for Self Doubt

When I doubt if I have anything to offer and words on a blog like this seem to be lame, I remember that I am no longer a slave to sin but a “son” of God.  I am loved dearly because Jesus was willing to die for my selfish heart.  I no longer have to doubt my worth because it is no longer defined in what I think of me.  What matters is what God thinks of me!

The cure for Pessimism

When I begin to think that nothing matters, nothing will ever work out, I’m going no where, the gospel message brings me back to another truth, God saved me for a purpose!  He has brought me out of darkness to light.  He has revealed that I was re-created to serve and love Him. I have been re-created and am being renewed to be part of something bigger than me, that He is in charge of! I no longer have to worry and be a pessimist.  God is in control.

The Cure for Powerlessness

Instead of feeling powerless the gospel changes the way I pursue my work and calling.  For where I might have looked for strength in my ability and self will, I remember that once I was powerless.  I had power in my self but not the kind of power that comes from God’s Holy Spirit dwelling in me.

When I wonder what this looks like, I begin to think of the disciples hiding out after Jesus had died.  They were pessimistic, they were powerless and had plenty of self-doubt.  But Jesus appears in front of them having first risen from the dead and shown Himself to two women at the tomb.   Soon the Holy Spirit would come and fill them with power to do His will.  They would preach and see 1000s of people turn in faith to the true Messiah Jesus.

For the first time they have Hope and it came in the good news that Jesus has overcome and not has given them purpose and a calling.  What they would do as followers of Christ would have eternal impact.

So What?

So what does this mean for my creative work?  The gospel gives me perspective that changes the way I look at everything!  Hope doesn’t come from my experiences, but rather hope comes from understanding what Jesus has done for me and what Jesus is calling me to be for Him.

When I remind myself of the truths of the gospel, I have real hope.  I have a storehouse of resources for communicating about my life, the world, my relationship with God and others and taking these ideas and creating music and lyrics.

So how do you deal with a lack of Hope in your life? How does it hinder your creativity?  How might understanding the gospel help you have true Hope?

If you are interested in learning more about how the gospel changes everything, consider reading Putting Amazing Back into Grace by Dr. Michael Horton, (the first chapter is here in pdf and you can order the book online)http://www.whitehorseinn.org/putting-amazing-back-into-grace.html

This WDA Pocket Principle is also helpful in reminding us of our Security in Christ. http://www.disciplebuilding.org/2013/05/31/security-in-christ-wda-pocket-principle/

 

Asceticism and the Christian Patron

flowers_of_the_fieldThe Christian Artist is faced with a dilemma when we consider a particular view of the church.  Some would say that the Christian life should be marked by a love for God and not of the things of this world.  Certainly that would mean that Christians shouldn’t waste their time and money on useless frills, decoration, and art.  Why should we bother with the things that will one day burn up.  It doesn’t matter.  “Don’t store up for yourselves treasure on earth where moth and rust destroy and thieves break in and steal.”

I don’t know about you but when I read the words of Jesus, I wonder as well, should I not store up treasures! The wonderful thing about the Christian journey is that seeming paradox and confusing issues can be worked out when we dig a bit deeper, consider other scripture and prayerfully consider the ideas in God’s word.

Certainly Jesus says, “Don’t store up for yourselves treasure.”  Why is he saying this?  Because our first love is to be found primarily in a relationship with God our Father, through Jesus and evidenced by the Holy Spirit.  How can we as lovers of Beauty, Art, Music, Dance, Literature not be storing up treasures!

The person who believes that to be a follower of Christ means that he or she avoid the things in this life, in order to be more holy, is what the apostle Paul called an Ascetic.  Asceticism is defined as “severe self-discipline and avoidance of all forms of indulgence, typically for religious reasons.”

Paul says in I Timothy 4:1-5 “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.”

Here we see clearly that God has created many things for our enjoyment and to reject them is to forget that God himself is the source of all good things!  God himself spoke the world in to begin and said it was “Good.”   To avoid certain gifts of God then should not be done because we consider doing so a measure of our religiousness.  Instead we are called to worship as we see all of creation clearly cared for by God’s common grace.  The flowers bloom and sunsets glow and we through them are drawn to the glory of God.

So in the context of being a patron and lover of the Arts we have a great opportunity to enjoy God as we enjoy his creation.  To love a great meal, to smell fresh baked bread, to see the laughter of a child, to look at the leaves from the heights of the Blue Ridge Mountains, to look with wonder at a painting, photograph or film, to listen to instruments and voices, melodies, harmonies and rhythm all are an opportunity to appreciate and “receive with thanksgiving” the gifts of God.

When I love the good things in this world as a gift of God, I have placed them in their correct context.  So today we have the opportunity to look around and be amazed at the wonder of God and his creation and also consider the amazing work of humanity.

So how do you find a balance between loving God and not finding yourself “storing up treasures.”

Why Bother Creating! It’s all gonna Burn!

life from death tree image

What you do in the Lord is not in vain.  You are not oiling the wheels of a machine that’s about to roll over a cliff. You are not restoring a great painting that’s shortly going to be thrown on the fire. You are not planting roses in a garden that’s about to be dug up for a building site. You are- strange though it may seem, almost as hard to believe as the resurrection itself- accomplishing something that will be come in due course part of God’s new world.  Every act of love, gratitude, and kindness; every work of art of music inspired by the love of God and delight in the beauty of creation; every minute spent teaching a severely handicapped child to read of to walk; every act of care and nurture, of comfort and support, for one’s fellow human beings and for that matter one’s fellow nonhuman creatures; and of course every prayer, all Spirit-led teaching, every deed that spreads the gospel, builds up the church, embraces and embodies holiness rather than corruption, and makes the  name of Jesus honored in the world – all of this will find its way, through the resurrecting power of God, into the new creation that God will one day make.  That is the logic of the  mission of God.  God’s recreation of his wonderful world, which began with the resurrection of Jesus and continues mysteriously as God’s people live in the risen Christ and in the power of his Spirit, means that what we do in Christ and by the Spirit in the present is not wasted. It will last all the way into God’s new world.  in face, it will be enhanced there. Surprised by Hope – N.T. Wright

Sometimes I wonder how we would live “in light of God’s restoration of all things” rather than with a view toward “all things burning up” viewpoint.

The Re-Creation of a new heavens and new earth has at it’s root the promise of a New Eden, a “New Heaven and New Earth.”  Many Christians do not have a complete view of what God will Re-Create after Christ’s return.  Many have have considered images of angels and harps and think we spend eternity in heavenly cloud like spaces!  When scripture points to a Heavenly City (Revelation 21:1-14) that connects both the New Heaven and New Earth.

We will be part of a new creation that will reflect the glory of God.  The very things in this life that we have pursued and created that reflect God’s glory will last!  Wright says, “all of this will find its way, through the resurrecting power of God, into the new creation that God will one day make.”

As N.T. Wright points out in the quote what we do here does have eternal impact.  This includes creating great artwork, writing great music, teaching children to read and grasp the wonder of this world, helping the needy, bringing hope to those who are hopeless, caring for others and a multitude of other things.

We just finished celebrating Easter.  The Resurrection is about new birth.  It is about the power of God over death and destruction.  When I consider the impact of Jesus’ Resurrection, I must also consider that he finishes his time here on earth promising to give power for all believers to proclaim the Good News and continue the mission.

We live in light of the power of the risen Christ, in us by the ministry of the Holy Spirit that Jesus also promised.

So what does this mean for me today, this week, this month?  I look at the moments ahead and seek to honor God by worshipping Him in my calling!

I do my work to the glory of God.  I love my family to the Glory of God.  I talk to my neighbor about the glory of God!  I live with a different set of rules than the rest of society that they would see the glory of God!

Each moment here is not to be wasted! It has value! I don’t do lousy work thinking it will all burn up anyway!  I don’t destroy the creation of God or mistreat its creatures because all that matters are the souls of those who truth in Jesus. Our calling in this life is to live by the power of God in light of the Resurrection.

“God’s recreation of his wonderful world, which began with the resurrection of Jesus and continues mysteriously as God’s people live in the risen Christ and in the power of his Spirit, means that what we do in Christ and by the Spirit in the present is not wasted.”

We can live with expectation of Jesus return but we also have to be faithful doing what our master has left us to do!  So go out there and live in such a way that others see Jesus!  They look at your work and go wow!  They wonder why you live with such a humble and yet bold spirit. Sure, we look eagerly for the Lord’s return and live with urgency and prayer for Revival and for many to come to Christ.  We cannot however let a view of end times lead us to a place of apathy about our lives and work here and now!

What if people who lived in the last few centuries had exclaimed, “Oh well, Jesus is going to return; all things are gonna burn up; there is no need for Colleges, Universities, Hospitals and other great institutions.” No they wanted to see a better world here!  We need to live fully today with hope for our future! We don’t know when Jesus is returning! So build, play, write, sing, create, work, have families, build schools, and do many noble things!  Create new ways to make the world a better place! Free the millions in slavery! Find a way to provide clean water! Discover a new way to provide clean energy!  Find a way to communicate the gospel to places now closed to the gospel!  We have great work to do!

Jesus Resurrection and Ascention hasn’t just left us here peering at the sky wondering what to do next.  The call is pretty clear.

Your work and life are not in vain!  You have purpose!  That means following the mission of God into a life that leaves a lasting impact. Full of good things that will not burn up and be destroyed point to the glory of God!

Read more about God’s Calling in “The Call” by Os Guinness