Carrying Your Creative Mantle…[Part iii]

This is the final part of a three part series that I’ve been writing about so definitely be sure to go back and check out part i and part ii if you haven’t already read those. It’ll take 10 minutes and it really paints a comprehensive picture of partnering our passions with God’s heart.

In part ii, I wrote about how our fearlessness and boldness in how we pursue our passions and the way we dream will be a witness of the radical life that God has called us to.

In order to do this we need to have a pioneering mentality. We have to be looking for creative ways to be trend setters. I’m not talking about being a trend setter for the sake of getting noticed. I’m talking about setting trends that reveal the heart and nature of God. We’re blazing new trails of what, “on earth as it is in Heaven” looks like.

A really close friend of mine, who’s also an incredible teacher, told me one time that you can’t be a pioneer by waiting in the back of the line playing it safe.

If you think about the people in the Bible who have the most radical testimonies of God’s love, it’s the people who got healed because of their brazenness. They got healed because they blazed a trail.

Think of the woman in Luke 8 with the issue of blood. Here is a woman who’s been bleeding for 12 years. There’s no doubt that after that amount of time with that condition that she would have been very weak and very deteriorated; but she pushed through the crowd with probably every ounce of strength that she had to the point where she’s crawling on the ground to touch the hem of Jesus’s robe and she gets instantly healed.

This would be like a frail elderly person trying to fight through a New York city sidewalk crowd at rush hour trying to get somewhere. It’s radical

Or the paralytic in Luke 5, who’s friends cut a hole in a ceiling to get him before Jesus; and he was healed. Radical action inspired by radical faith.

These people got healed because of their boldness. They knew that in that moment, it was full healing or nothing so they got radical in the way that they pursued it. They knew that if they didn’t get a touch from Jesus that they may never have the opportunity for healing again.

The people with the most radical, bold, unsafe acts of faith are the ones who ended up with the most powerful testimonies. Those people were pioneers. They weren’t in the back of the line waiting for something to happen, they pursued it.

They were unsafe because in their moment of boldness, it was Jesus or bust. They had no other option. They couldn’t go on in their current situation so they had to get before Jesus. They weren’t letting anything cap them because they knew what Jesus was capable of.

The activation of this three part blog series is this: What’s capping your creativity? What’s keeping you in the back of the line and from being a pioneer. What’s capping you from raising the bar on your creative vision?

It can be so many things; fear, bitterness, anger, pain, guilt, failure. But the answer will always be the same. It’s the gospel. The gospel will break everything off that’s keeping us from uncapping our creativity.

The answer is always the same, it’s the gospel.

Jesus didn’t die just so that we could be made perfect in the sight of God, that was just the qualifier. Jesus died so that we could dream as big as we want for the Kingdom and partner that vision with God’s.

If you have a passion or a dream, go for it! “I can’t (blank) because of (blank)”, doesn’t work as an excuse anymore because of the gospel.

The gospel isn’t just “the good news”, it’s the best news that we’re ever going to hear; and we need to embrace the fullness of what that means.

It’s time for christians to stop thinking so small and start dreaming big!

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Carrying Your Creative Mantle… [Part ii]

If you haven’t read part i of this three part blogging series that I’m doing, go check it out here before reading this one It’s a great opener and this one will make a lot more sense that way. But don’t forget to come back here and read this one because it’s really good stuff (I’m only slightly biased as the author).

People have this natural reaction when we get motivated and that reaction is to work harder. Which is a great thing, it’s an incredible quality and there’s so much value in working hard. But I want to point out that when it comes to marrying our creative passions with God’s design that it’s natural and organic. It’s not a striving that takes place as much as it is a change in the atmosphere that we carry. It’s not so much a conscious thing that we adjust as much as it is something we let God work within us.

God’s attributes are seen in the things that he creates. Romans 1:20 tells that creation reveals the majesty of God. Everything reveals the majesty of it’s creator. And we’re part of that creation.

Somebody can look at a painting and definitively say, “That’s a Rembrandt because of the pigment of the paint.” Or, “That’s a Raphael because of the texture of the brush strokes.” The work is revealing the artist because the artist has infused himself (or herself) into the piece.

We’re part of the same creation as the Himalayas, or the redwoods, the oceans and the sunsets. Things that make people stop and say, “Wow, look what God can do”, we’re part of that same creation! When we partner our creative passions and dreams with God, it makes people stop and say, “Wow, look what God can do.”

Acts 1:8 says that we will receive power from the Holy Spirit and become witnesses unto the ends of the earth. “Ends of the earth” isn’t a timeline in this context, it’s geographic. It’s saying that everywhere we go, we will be a witness of the goodness of God.

Now, I don’t know about everyone reading but one thing is for sure, that I’m not a witness everywhere I go. My actions are not always an incredible witness of God’s goodness.

This is the point that I’m trying to make. How we act isn’t always a good witness. But how we dream is.

I’m completely capable of being an idiot and blowing my witness because of my actions. But I’ve never once, in my life, had a dream that doesn’t need God in order to become a reality. That’s what makes it a dream is that it’s bigger than me. Dreams have to include God otherwise their just obstacles that we’re able to dodge in our own power.

Dreaming is natural. It makes us a witness that can’t be screwed up by something that we do. It makes us a witness unto the ends of the earth. I can dream into the deepest, darkest corners of the earth and see light there because of how I dream to see the Kingdom manifested. If it was up to my actions then revival would often get snuffed out by my stupidity.

I know this sounds like millennial jargon; like, “You can sit in some hipster coffee shop and never lift a finger yet change the world because of your big ideas and how you post them on social media while sipping a latté.” That’s not what I’m saying. What I’m saying is that when we do lift a finger to do something, the minute we put our hands to work, we need to make sure that work is birthed out of a place of dreaming with the Lord. We need to make sure that the work we do isn’t in vain because we’ve capped our creativity.

Our fearlessness, boldness, and unsafeness (not sure if that’s a word, but it is now), in how we pursue our dreams will be the witness of the exciting life that God has called us to. We’re pioneers for the Kingdom

Stay tuned for part iii

 

 

 

Carrying Your Creative Mantle… [Part I]

Hey guys, after a brief, (not so brief), break from writing, I’m back and super excited for what’s on my heart to share. God’s been doing incredible things which I hope I’ll be able to talk about more soon, but for now just send prayers for the move of the Holy Spirit that is being generated at Penn State and as the weeks roll on I’ll be able to bring more and more into the light about what that’s looking like.

What I want to talk about is walking in what God’s called you to. It’s probably going to occur in three parts so be on the lookout the rest of the week for parts ii and iii.

A lot of times, we struggle to figure out what God’s called us to, but I want to demystify that a little bit and here it is: Jesus wants to be involved in the things that you want to do. Jesus wants to be involved in the things that you’re passionate about. If that’s building bridges, figure out how to include Jesus. If that’s traveling, figure out how to include Jesus. If that’s working on cars, figure out how to include Jesus.

The church has preached for decades that in order to follow Jesus we have to lay down what we want to do and follow him. “Lay down your life and pick up your cross. Lay down your life and pick up your cross…” On and on it goes and it’s been preached into the ground that if you have a personal desire to do it than its obviously of the flesh and it has to be sacrificed in service to the Lord and I’m tired of the church crushing peoples creativity and perpetually being 10 years behind the times in what’s influential.

The reality is that Satan doesn’t have the ability to create anything. God is the creator which means that, by definition, Satan can’t be. Satan is the opposite of God. So if it’s a passion inside of you, it’s from God. All Satan can do get you to use the dreams and passions that God gave you, outside of the lordship of Jesus. For example, I have no doubt that somebody like Beyoncé would be an amazing artist regardless of who (herself or Jesus), she was serving with that talent. She has a God given gift, but she doesn’t use it under the lordship of Jesus.

Find the root of your passions and dreams and figure out how to use those things with God so that you can partner with Him in building the family. God has given you a creative nature and he wants you to partner that creativity with His heart to build the Kingdom on Earth as it is in Heaven!

1 Corinthians 14:3 talks about prophecy being for encouragement. A way you can read that is that hearing from God is for the sake of encouragement. The funny thing about encouragement is that there has to be a root of something in order for it to be encouraged.

If I compliment my wife and say, “Baby, I really love the way that you did your hair today, you should keep doing that.” I have encouraged her but before I ever encouraged her, she did something with her hair that she liked. I simply released a freedom for her to do what she liked and empowered her to continue doing it.

God has given you passions and dreams to create and he doesn’t want you to lay those things down in order to follow Him. He wants to release freedom into your life and empower you to marry those passions with His vision to see amazing things happen. God is looking for creative people to manifest the Kingdom of Heaven in new and original ways.

We don’t live in a day and age where handing out tracks on the street corner works as an effective form of bringing people into the Kingdom anymore! It’s not because the message has changed at all but the delivery method has. We’re not still driving Model T’s anymore because there’s a more effective means of transportation.

God wants to partner with and employ our creativity to show the world His nature in a way that is optimized for this generation and this day and age. God the creator, created us in His image, as creators; partner that creativity with Him.

Bottom line, if Jesus is who he says he is and we believe about him what we say we do, then we’re dreaming way too small. We’ve got to stop capping our creativity by thinking it will distract us from what God wants us to do. God placed that passion there so that you can live wildly in it.

Stay tuned for part ii!

 

 

Small thinking is driving me crazy…

There’s a narrow mindedness in the church today and it comes at the cost of our influence. The church doesn’t have anywhere near the influence it should if God really is who we say He is. If God is who we say He is, than we’re dreaming way too small.

If you look at the major drivers in todays big think tanks, the Steve Jobs or Elon Musk types, these guys have influence.

Elon Musk, founded the Space X program with a goal to colonize mars with 40,000 people by the year 2040. In a CNN interview Musk was asked why and he responded with something to the effect of wanting to wake up with something to hope for.

The hyper loop project; Musk was sitting in rush hour traffic in Los Angeles when all of a sudden he got this idea to tunnel underneath the city in order to solve a traffic problem.

I lived in Houston for a while and had a 13 mile commute that would take an hour and a half and I remember sitting in traffic, many times, thinking something along the lines of, “This really sucks, this is wasting so much time right now.” Wouldn’t you know it, the one thing that never crossed my mind was that I needed to create any kind of solution to this problem; let alone a solution that looks something like tunneling under the city.

I want something to hope for too, but I’ve never once thought that I need to go to mars in order to do it.

Whether you think these things are good ideas or not, it doesn’t change the fact that people like Musk see issues and get inspired to create something out of it. The point is that this kind of big thinking and execution creates a position of influence.

And Musk is an atheist! He’s bound by science and what he can understand in the natural world. Meanwhile, in the church, we claim the God who created it all and we can’t figure out how to effectively influence the small communities inside our walls.

Most churches are struggling to influence the people they already have that the thought of impacting entire cities is defeating; but we’re called to impact nations! Not churches, not cities… nations; but we’re too small minded to believe that it can be done let alone know how to go about doing it.

Thus we have atheists colonizing new planets in the name of hope but the church, that holds the key to true hope, is too small minded to build a position of influence within our own communities. If we’re going to influence nations, we’ve got to start dreaming bigger; at the very least, bigger than the atheists!

The mission field that I’m in at Penn State is not impoverished, but it is in need. We’ve got individuals who pour millions of dollars into the university because they believe in the science and technology growth happening here in a way that it justifies the giving.

On the flip side of that coin, I travel to churches to stir up financial partners for a ministry that’s on the forefront of revival with real testimonies of the sick getting healed and the broken being delivered and it’s like pulling teeth to try and get enough people to give ten or twenty dollars per month to advance the revival that is breaking out before our eyes.

I’m not trying to prompt people into giving me more, though it would be nice and I could use it; what I really want is for people to stop thinking so small and give in a way that reflects a big, influential, powerful way of thinking.

If God is who we say He is, then we’re dreaming and thinking too small. We’ve got to start thinking like people with influence.

 

Dream Big… [Making dreams a reality]

The innocence of a child lives in their lack of experiences that would mold the way that they think. Children have uninhibited creativity because they’ve never experienced a reality that reveals anything else.

We exhibit snippets of this type of artistry and vision as adults but it usually lies within a context rather than an unbridled inventiveness. Many of our hobbies, as adults, are determined by things that encourage us to operate in the kind of liberation that a child has.

Photography, music, entrepreneurship provide this kind of outlet for me; for some people it’s painting or cooking. Writing is like this for me. If I can separate myself from the reality around me, when I put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard), I release a creative aspect that is inside of me because there’s no risk in that moment. It’s pure and unadulterated by fear and past experience.

I understand that what I write has an impact on people, and there is consequence in it because I feel a responsibility to impact people in a certain way. Despite that, before I ever think about publishing, before I’m ever concerned with how people will respond to my word choice, I’m just writing an unconstrained runaway thought that appeals to my heart and creative nature.

We lose a lot of that innovativeness as we grow up. Life assumes it’s unrelenting roll of robbing us of our innocence and it’s often our creativity that suffers; which is tragic because creativity is something that God the creator holds immeasurably close to his heart. We were created by the Creator to be creators.

We get so afraid of dreaming too big because of past experiences and all of a sudden our dreams become bottlenecked into things that we can actually manage on our own.

But dreams were always supposed to be beyond us; entities that require the investments of other amazing people in order for them to become reality, because the original purpose of a dream was always to create community and relationship.

We know this because God created something and then brought man into the creative process with Him; not because He needed us, but because His entire end-game was to cultivate relationship. In Genesis 1, God created everything and then brought us into that process by asking man to name all of the animals that He had created; because God wanted a co-laboring (collaborative) relationship.

In the natural, our creativity and thoughts become molded by the experiences that we’ve had and it crushes our potential. In the Kingdom our experiences are molded by the creative thoughts that we have and creativity becomes a measuring stick for the degree to which we will experience God’s creative miracles in our lives.

This is why it’s so important to maintain a creative nature, because wherever we’re committed to expressing our creativity is where we’ll see the manifestation of the Kingdom the most. If you commit your creativity to partnering with God and creating music, then music is where you’re going to see a manifestation of the Kingdom. If you commit your creativity to seeing God revealed through the way that you engage in business, then business is where you’ll see a manifestation of the Kingdom.

Bottom line, there will be experiences that we all have that will try to rob us of our inspiration and creativity. Letting those experiences dictate how we dream, in it’s most fundamental sense, is relying on our understanding rather than knowledge of who God is (Proverbs 3:5). When we submit our creativity to the traumas of life we strangulate our potential to do something incredible. But when we rely on the nature of God to fuel how we perceive reality then we dream beyond our experience and we start to see Heaven invade earth.

We were created to be a generation of dreamers, but we have to dream from the knowledge that we’re children of the King. Peasants dream of a hot meal or shelter for a season which is fading. Princes dream in ways that impact nations for generations.

We’re princes.

The Honeymoon is Not Over…

After a brief hiatus due to getting married, I’m back, I’m inspired, and I’m excited to share the things that God has been speaking in the past month through the wedding, traveling in Mexico, and easing into this new normal of marriage.

Life hit hard for Lauren and I immediately upon arriving back home from the honeymoon. We landed in Atlanta after an almost 5 hour flight from Cabo, turned our phones on for the first time in almost 11 days and the voicemails and texts started flooding in: our marriage license was filled out incorrectly, there were lapses on bills that had been forgotten in the madness of a wedding and being out of the country, work stuff loomed; on and on.

In dealing with these things, I realized something: it’s a joy to work through life’s issues with my wife. The spirit of adventure and excitement that comes during a wedding doesn’t stop just because all of the guests have left and we’re back home. The adventure persists throughout the marriage, at least it should.

The process of becoming sanctified into your marriage isn’t necessarily easy (well…some parts are pretty easy, if you catch my drift), but it’s exciting. It’s an adventure.

The day we returned, I was listening to Lauren on the phone sorting out our marriage license snafu, and I realized how exciting life like this was going to be. There’s excitement in the process of learning somebody that deeply and intimately to work through life together.

I think God feels this way about our spiritual process and relationship with Him. It’s a constant adventure.

It’s freeing to know that even working through the junk, God’s just enjoying the ride with us. It clears out the shame and guilt of our screw ups and makes room for the grace that lifts us up out of those places.

If I mess up with my wife, I feel bad because she’s the recipient of some undesirable consequence as a result of something stupid that I did, but I feel simultaneously inspired and excited that my stupidity isn’t permanent and that I’ll have another opportunity to succeed at something I struggled with before. We’re learning each other and melding together as we go through the evolution of two becoming one.

The other day, I was trying to do something for Lauren and I failed. In the moment, I felt defeated; I felt like I’d failed as her husband. Then, calm and loving as could be, she just looked at me and said, “Come here, let’s try this a different way…”

My failure didn’t cross her mind, what did cross her mind was that when I saw a setback, she saw a process of learning, a progression.

That’s what conviction and repentance looks like. It’s not particularly comfortable, but it’s simultaneously inspiring and exciting. The process is exhilarating. Repentance is a physical manifestation of the spiritual realization that is conviction. Conviction inspires us  to rise up out of something, and its that physical, “rising up” that is repentance.

The single hyper-crucial component of this equation is commitment. My wife isn’t going anywhere when I screw up so that takes my fear off of the table. When fear is off the table so is a lot of the shame and guilt that accompanies screwing up because those things are bred by fear. When there’s commitment, the only route that makes sense is motivation to rise up.

If you’ve made a choice for Jesus, fear isn’t even an option. The only option is process, evolution, transformation.

There’s no such thing as screwing up, only a process of learning.

Don’t mishear my words and think that making mistakes perpetually or ignoring them altogether is ok. That is, in fact, a screw up; that’s not transformation, that’s an abuse of grace. I’m saying that when we’re motivated to improve, everything is a learning experience; even our mistakes.

If we related to God this way it would unlock a different revelation than most are used to: the aspect that God isn’t disappointed, He’s just elated that we’ve chosen to go on this ride with Him.

 

So, I get married in two weeks…

In exactly two weeks from tomorrow, at 2pm, I’ll be standing and watching my bride come down the aisle. I’ve learned a couple things while careening headlong into the unknown of marriage and I kind of want to expound on those. This blog is going to be a bit different than my typical style but I think it’s justified.

Changing career paths from a trajectory of working corporately as a petroleum engineer to being a full time missionary taught me nothing if not how capable of a person I am. I’m not talking about being capable of achieving something that the world considers successful, by that standard I’m less impressive on paper since making this transition. I’m talking about taking a dream that’s bigger than logic and still making it work.

Now to be clear, when I use the term “capable”, I’m not talking about self-reliant pride that believes that I can do anything out of myself. I know that everything that I accomplish is part of a co-laboring effort with God. When I say that I’m capable, I’m acknowledging that I have stepped into the place that God needs me to be in to work through me. More on that idea of co-laboring with God, here

The road to marriage has taken that feeling of capability and elevated to an entirely new level. If any of you reading know the story that has landed Lauren and I here then you know that it was against a lot of impossibility; I think that most marriages are. For those of you reading who know nothing about Lauren and I, trust me when I say that it was most definitely against impossible odds. We are capable of making a dream that is bigger than logic a reality. That’s the testimony of our relationship.

There’s this stereotype that comes with marriage that a part of you dies when it happens. Yeah, you gain a life partner, but some of your individuality dies. You lose some independence and autonomy in your life and the amount of freedom you have as an individual reduces. Lauren and I were actually jut having that conversation this morning, ironically enough.

In reality, at least in my experience, the exact opposite is true. All of a sudden I’ve found somebody who is willing to commit a lifetime to getting to know me so well that I get to be more myself than I’ve ever been. I don’t have to worry about how she sees me because I can trust that she’s committed to always seeing the best in me despite the best not always being present.

There’s so much freedom in knowing that somebody approves of you and loves you regardless of what you’re striving for in life.

Now, that all sounds good in writing, but I know that it doesn’t always happen that way; trust me, I’m an optimistic person by nature but I’m also not that naive. I know things aren’t always peaches and cream.

I’ll say it this way: perfect love is always enough to keep us from getting selfish and offended but the reality of marriage (or human nature in general), is that we’re going to have moments of selfishness and offense that override perfect love; but only for a moment. That selfishness and offense won’t stick; if it does, the marriage probably won’t.

So what does all of this mean for me, I know I just made a couple points that are all over the place. So I’m going to conglomerate them all into this:

Heading into marriage has released me into a confidence to be more myself, more independently me, more inspired, more creative, more ambitious with her beside me than I’ve ever been on my own with all of the independence in the world.

That translates into a realization of my capabilities to accomplish things in life. I get to unapologetically believe in and pursue what God is calling me to and never feel like I’m letting somebody down. Even though there’s probably somebody out there that is disappointed by the fact that I’v devoted my life to ministry rather than to being an engineer, I will always have somebody beside me who’s not disappointed, my wife. That person is the one who matters more than anybody else.

And the most beautiful part is that this isn’t just a “representation” of how God feels about me or what I’m doing. This relationship to my (almost) wife and the love and approval that flows from her to me is actually God’s approval and love flowing through her to me. I’m not just getting a nice metaphor of how God loves me through my wife; I’m getting the real deal. God’s physical, tangible, literal love and approval flowing through my wife.

If you have children, chances are that you understand what I’m saying. You don’t just understand God’s relationship to you better because you have kids.; you actually experience more of God through the love you have for your child.

The Kingdom of Heaven is experienced through the relationships that we have with the body. Be it your wife, your children, friends, parents, siblings; you experience the realness of the Kingdom of Heaven through relationship. It’s described perfectly in Acts 2:42-47, the Kingdom of heaven is manifesting and it’s happening because of the relationship that was being cultivated in the body.

If you’re not experiencing an increase in all that God has for you through your marriage, your work, your hobbies, your friendships then something needs to change because they’re not serving their purpose.

Everything we allow into our lives should be channels and catalysts for God’s love to flow through. If there’s things in your life that aren’t, do something about it.

Much love guys, thanks for reading!