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Do You Have the Courage to Create or Just the Vision?

Do You Have the Courage to Create or Just the Vision?

Have you ever had a day that hit you so fast and so hard that you never really had time to slow down and feel the blow? Well today was one of those days for me. And as I write this, it is 10:30 in the evening, and I’m just arriving home after three hours of serving a sister in Christ who needed help moving into her new apartment.

It was challenging, but it was beautiful to see our gathering of Christ-centered creatives, known as Beats, Bars, and Bible, take a pause on our normal weekly Bible study and instead engage in Bible practice.

I’m not quite sure what the impetus is for today’s blog, but I know this. It’s easy for us creatives to be the idea guy or the creative gal who dreams it up, puts it on paper, and imagines the new world. In a lot of respects, those visionaries are what this world absolutely needs to be better than it is. But at the same time, we as creatives must also decide to actually create.

Tonight, we didn’t just think about and dream about serving and loving one another in the body of Christ. We created that act of service. We put the word of God into practice. Now, I wish I could say that I do that on a daily basis and consistently. But I know that I don’t. However, it is my aim to increasingly make that a reality as the Lord gives me recognition of the opportunities that I need to step into.

As Christians and as Christ-centered creatives, we have not only the vision of the divine moments that we often are called into, but we have the Spirit of God who, if we seek Him and ask Him for it, He will also give us the ingredients that truly help change the world. Not just vision, but courage and the commitment to create.

 

I’ll see you guys tomorrow.

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Should We Wait for God’s Voice or Walk in Faith?

Should We Wait for God’s Voice or Walk in Faith?

Almost 10 years ago, I donated a kidney.

There was a co-worker who found that he had kidney disease and it was advancing rapidly. We weren’t especially close, and when the invite came through to join a Facebook group that was entitled, Chuck needs a life-saving kidney, I almost immediately disregarded the invite. But then I felt convicted that I should at least pray about whether or not I should consider donating. So, I accepted the invite to the group. I had noticed that there were a few thousand people in this group. Surely, one of them was more closely related or more appropriately suited to do this. After all, I’m married with two kids and I have to be concerned about their well-being and future.

So I went to prayer and I wish I could say that I heard a very clear “yes” from the Lord. I didn’t, but all I got was a question… What Would Jesus Do? I was getting the lesson for this post…When you don’t have a specific “yes,” just keep walking in the way that Jesus would.

It was clear that this is the type of thing that Jesus would say “yes” to. I talked it over with Lariza, my wife, and we determined that if this wasn’t going to be a thing that would really greatly negatively impact our family, that I could continue to explore it.

And so that I did. I took the first test and as I was going, I was praying.

“Jesus, is this what you want for me to do? Please redirect me if this isn’t from you. Show me a different way if this is not your way for me.”

And the first test passed. The second test showed that I was a match. And the following test showed that I was healthy enough, including my psych evaluation.

Everything was lining up and Jesus was quiet. So in his silence, I simply decided to be obedient to what the way of Jesus would be, even though I did not have a specific “yes” for this situation.

It’s interesting to me that so many of us are okay with making so many decisions without Jesus and his leadership. We don’t ask him whether or not we should open the refrigerator when we’re hungry. We don’t wait and pray whether or not we should use the upstairs bathroom or the downstairs bathroom when we need to relieve ourselves. So why is it when there’s certain decisions that are scary to us, that seem huge, that we are so afraid to move forward without having direct instructions on that is what we should do? So instead we do nothing and call it waiting on the Lord. The truth is, God has already given us our instructions to move forward.

Yes, many, many places, God says, “Wait on the Lord and renew your strength.”

But even more than that, the resounding instructions from God’s Word are, “Fear not, go, I am with you.”

“Fear not, go, I am with you.”

What if we applied that to all of our daily activity that we’re doing with the heart of worship for God?  “Fear not, go, I am with you.” As we look at Scripture, there’s one significant place where God’s people were commanded to wait. And that was upon the anticipation of the Holy Spirit in Acts. They were told to wait for the helper. But once the helper came, they were lit up. The gospel began to pour out of them and they split up, divided themselves throughout the known world, preaching and teaching according to God’s instructions.  Those same instructions applied to us all,

Matthew 28:19-20

19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Why do we still need an additional go-ahead for each and every big move? Yes, we should pray. Yes, we should walk in wisdom, but we should be continually moving forward in that which we already know. We should not be sitting still but moving forward as we are waiting for Him to instruct us further, redirect us, or maybe even stop us.

This concept is a foundational one for the inception of the Ordered Chaos Club. It began simply as my desire to express this reality that creatives need to be more Christ-centered and that the church needs to be more creative. But it continues to evolve and God continues to speak truth and direction into it, rather than me simply waiting to hear the whole vision before I begin.

Sometimes we just need to go. So the question is, what is our default posture? Are we simply sitting and waiting for God to give us more direction? Or are we already going forward based on the last thing that the Father spoke to us?

I believe those in movement in the direction that they believe are those who are truly being faithful. Let us wait while we walk.

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When Will We Win the Race for More?

When Will We Win the Race for More?

“The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.” – Hans Hofmann

I remember it was around this time of year in 2018 when I began to feel God pulling me toward something different.

The something different was not more. In fact, it was something less. At that point in my life, I had what I considered the dream job, working full-time at a church that I loved, doing compelling ministry in ways that brought out so many wonderful qualities and gifts. However, there was something else that I had not addressed. Personally and even culturally, there was a machine that was constantly grinding and driving us for more.

At first, I thought it was just the church. And then, years later, I would discover it was me as well. This discontentment, this chasing for the next mountain, the next level of impact and success, would be something that I am still wrestling with to this day.

Tonight, in our micro-church gathering called Beats, Bars, and Bible, we looked at Ecclesiastes chapter 2. And I was reminded yet again that the quest, the fruitless quest for more, is part of the broken human condition that began with the original sin.

In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve had so many of the blessings that God had intended. He created a paradise for them. And yet, they were introduced to discontent, and they began to strive for more. Just one fruit more was the catalyst for this downward spiral that the human race has battled with ever since.

As creatives, I wonder the impact that this quest, this chase for more, can have. We must be careful that even the next creative idea doesn’t simply become another example of us simply chasing more.

So it sounds like things are hopeless. It sounds like this is just who we are. Except Solomon also lets us know the answer as well as the problem. It is chasing God that is the only fulfilling pursuit. In our chasing of God, He will again and again fill us up, strengthen us, hold us close, and walk us to the next thing that He wants us to accomplish.

But if we simply go chasing accomplishment, chasing impact, chasing pursuit after pursuit in this machine of more and more and more, we end up grinding up the spirit on the altar of our flesh. So, in the same way that God challenged me tonight and that God has challenged me over the past few years, let us now stop and reflect on our current pursuits.

Wherein are our pursuits not with God? If God is not accompanying you on this pursuit, it is one that He would be calling you to abandon. First and foremost, let us pursue the Father by way of the Son through the power of the Holy Spirit, and then let Him accompany us in whatever journey He would have us take, using our creative endeavors to bring Him glory.

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Are Your Creative Thoughts Captive to Christ?

Are Your Creative Thoughts Captive to Christ?

“You cannot keep birds from flying over your head but you can keep them from building a nest in your hair.” – Martin Luther

Having a wild, creative nature is a beautiful thing. Consider icons like Frida Kahlo or Pablo Picasso. These individuals embodied a wildly creative mindset. But I wonder, to what degree did they have to develop leadership for that creativity to get the most out of it?

Imagine if Steve Jobs never focused on developing the iPod, or if Einstein never honed his thoughts on relativity. What if Frida never dedicated herself specifically to her craft with her brush?

I believe our most impactful creative works lie on the other side of our most intentional decisions regarding our creative thoughts. It is through this thought work—this warfare on the battlefield of our mind—that we achieve victory. Jesus reminds us that we can hold every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ.

This is the heart of meditation that I am drawn to—not necessarily the act of emptying your mind, but the act of deciding what your mind will dwell on. Many Eastern and New Age meditations talk about an emptiness of mind during meditation. However, as I explored these practices to quiet my mind, I realized that the actual work involves focusing my mind on specific things. Instead of dwelling on random thoughts, my mind focuses on the environment and being present, rather than on the thoughts that tend to occupy it.

This realization has shown me that meditation is not about emptiness, but about fullness. It’s about what your mind is filled with. What your mind is filled with in each moment determines your focus. That focus, that mental dwelling, is what you are giving your peace, your heart, and in many senses, your future.

Instead of trying to keep my mind empty for peace, I want to dwell, focus on, and stay filled with Christ and the thoughts He would have me meditate on. To chew on, to ruminate over, to remain abiding and dwelling in Him for all of my days.

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