A little

“Put a little love in your heart” are lyrics from a popular song.   Singing and writing about love what does to and for us can catapult you to stardom.   A little love is never little. ” Love is patient, kind, ; love does no envy;love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never fails…” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8   Love creates family, children, community, businesses, organizations, and purpose.  It puts sparkle in your soul, and opens up your heart to include more.  Put a little love in your heart, and grow from little to large.

A Gathering of Worship Artists

gath·er·ing n. [ gáəring ]

  1. assembly: a meeting or crowd of people
  2. cluster of things: a collection of objects
  3. collecting of something: the collecting of people or objects into a group

Saturday, I attended The Gathering of Worship Artists hosted by All Things Artistic Ministries, Inc. in Ypsilanti, Michigan.   This organization was founded to glorify God through the arts.  Its founder, Rev. Dr. Debby Mitchell shared the underlying theme of nourishing God’s people, and encouraging others to move beyond the fear of rejection to give their creative souls back to God.  He called us to worship Him in the beauty of His Holiness.  1 Thessalonians 2:4, “We are not trying to please men but God, who test our hearts.” [The Message]  We are to love God with everything – our bodies, mind and souls. Worship is a full-bodied activity.  Since we were made to worship God, so why not use those creative abilities, which He gave us, to do just that.  He gave us creative abilities, made us in His image, and yet our hearts shudder, and tremble at the very thought of using our creative abilities. Why?  For some it is fear that stops them, or lack of knowledge, encouragement or support, as well as lack of trust in the one who created us.  For others, the need to be seen and to please the call of man is the overriding factor. These mere smoke screens diminish those extraordinary opportunities, and moments which belong to Him.  We serve God, not a piece of flesh or metal.  When we fail to creatively express ourselves, we throw dirt in the face of God.

Deep within us is the need to create and show the beauty of life, and of our God.  We want to capture it, tell our story, and show how God touched us through our families, through nature, or through a life experience.    Worship through the creative arts, in all its various forms is to an audience of One.

At this event participants shared, and expressed their love for and to God through song, dance, artistic expression and in personal testimony.  It became a powerful re-affirmation to support and encourage each one another.

You may not be able to sing or dance, but there is something inside that is seeking a way to express love and appreciation to God for what He has done, and is doing in and through your life.  I encourage to find  the artistic way to thank God, and tell your story.

 

The Grey

I recently watched a movie,” The Grey” depicting a story of survival.  The storyline was about a group of men survived an airplane crash in Alaska, but were pursued by a pack of big grey wolves.  One by one the wolves encountered and killed members of the group, except those who succumbed to the elements, until only the skilled hunter was left.  The final scene showed the hunter played by Liam Neeson surrounded by the pack.  As he prepared for the final battle, you saw him remembering his wife, father, and words from a poem his father wrote..”Live and die each day.”  He recited the words as he looked at his main pursuer, a huge grey wolf. Each staring at each other the hunter took a breath, weapons in his hands then the scene went black leaving the audience to draw their own conclusion to the end of the story.   I thought the enemy uses similar tactics on us.  The pack attacked in large and small hunting parties.  Sometimes the attacks were in the daylight, sometimes at night.  The enemy does the same.  Sometimes there are sneak attacks.  The  calm before the storm, then he strikes.  Sometimes the enemy stares you in the face taunting you, as if to say you aren’t going to win this fight.   But it is not true.  Jesus left us an inheritance…His last will and testament written with his precious blood.  He left us His all-consuming power, and glory.  He left us His peace that passes all understanding.  The enemy is powerless AGAINST JESUS.  He does pursue, and uses every weapon in his arsenal.  But he has already been defeated by our risen Savior who sits on the right hand in glory.  No weapon formed against us can prosper.  Each and every day we are to put on the whole armor of God to stand and look the enemy squarely in the eye and say take your best shot.  And he will take the shot, and fall down in defeat.  You will stand as the victor.  You win because of Jesus.   

Jesus defeated death and everything that will come against us.  It may be grey in your life today, but take hope and strength in your rightful inheritance, and in the knowledge that Jesus won, which means we have the victory.   “Be strong and very courageous”…Joshua 1:8-9

Faith Note

This quote from E. Stanley Jones about faith and worry had to be shared. 

“I am inwardly fashioned for faith, not for fear. Fear is not my native land; faith is. I am so made that worry and anxiety are sand in the machinery of life; faith is the oil”.

Faith is the soil and substance of our belief.  Without it, it is impossible to do anything that pleases God.  Faith means we can and will do it.  We take the leap and move from yesterday into tomorrow.  Faith means we go beyond the surface, beyond the chaos, beyond our fears into the glory of God.   Faith shines brightest in those dark moments when all our human efforts have failed. 

Remember today, that faith is your native land.  Pack your bags and leave the land of Fear-False Evidence Appearing Real, and go home to Faith.

Remembrance

Our son Shawn would have been 42 years old.  Travelling the road marked grief is long, and sometimes very lonely. The journey is different for each person. Although the stages – markers have been identified, no two individuals walk in the same direction, the same manner and pace.  And the imprint left by the loss is different as well.  You are changed at the core of your physical, emotional and spiritual DNA.  And those changes will either cloud or clarify how you look at life, your relationship with others, yourself and God.  As you recall the memories of your loved one, you will make a choice to move toward hope and love or not.

Remembering can hurt, but it does not mean constant pain.  John 16:32 [HCSB] records, “I am not alone, because the Father is with me.”    We have a Savior who understands, and is with us. He is our present help at all times.  Because he knows and understands, we can go to him anytime with our grief, our sorrow, and our pain.  He is our Shalom-our precious peace that passes all understanding.

I can celebrate Shawn’s life and legacy, and thank God for the time given us.  Resting in His glorious peace provides hope when the road seems cloudy.

Pursue Unity

No wars, no fighting, no bombs, or guns, military or the need for borders to be protected.  No court systems, or prisons or jails, think of it…a world without the chaos, turmoil devoid of conflict, strife.  A place where people live in harmony working out their differences in ways which respects the inherent value of the other person.  A tall order!  A world where peace reign supreme.  What’s happening in your world today?  Are you pursuing unity?  How about that family member, or co-worker who got on your nerve yesterday or even this morning?  Are you pursuing unity or your position?  Think about the disagreement, or grudge you’ve held for the past days, or months, or years…has it been resolved?  Is the relationship with the other person been restored?  Or are you carrying weight from years of pursuing pain, bitterness, disagreements, fighting?

2 Corinthians 13:11 said  “Aim for perfection, listen to my appeal, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.”  Be of one mind, live in peace and God will be with you.   Think of it – God will be with you if you be of one mind-his mind and live in peace with others. We don’t have to spend our lives in constant conflict and turmoil. We don’t have to begin the day in dread and fear because of misunderstandings over some trivial matter or thing, or the important matter of the day.  Someone once asked the question, “Do your words and actions pursue a path of peace?” in a book I read.  I pondered how many times, and often  I personally pursued peace and unity.  When I did, I experienced the peace of God, and my world was filled with more love, joy, peace, happiness than turmoil, strife, and pain.  I also have realized that if I did not pursue unity then I experienced and carried the weight of the alternative.

God wants us to pursue unity with each other, and within ourselves.  Listen to God’s voice, pursue unity today, and experience peace.

Celebration

The candy and flowers have been delivered, phone and text messages made, dinners made or purchased, perfume or new dress bought…all the tokens of loving appreciation completed for the moms.  The annual rite of Mother’s Day is done or is it?  One day is insufficient to express gratitude for the sacrifices and love shown to us by our mothers.  Whether it was for days, weeks, months or years.  Women around the globe make the decision every day to give unselfishly for their children, or for the young ones.  The nurturing care given, oftentimes at their own expense is immeasurable, and yet they give, and give, and give.  I for one, am eternally grateful for all the mothers, and women who played a profound role in my life, and in the lives of my children.  When I became a mother for the first time, scared, unsure, wholly unprepared for the task ahead, I relied heavily on the wisdom and examples of “mothers” including my own, to guide me through the murky waters of motherhood. Motherhood is a monumental task and not for the faint at heart. And despite the risks, the rewards are enormous. You experience, all be it a small piece, God’s kingdom of creation.  Then by trial and triumph guide each life towards its destiny.  It’s amazing.

I celebrate and acknowledge as often as possible women who took on the role of motherhood, not just on the second Sunday of every May, but each time we are together in whatever manner it takes.  Because mothers love as God does unconditionally and always.  So thank you moms for all you do and have done for each of us.

1 John 4:7

King James Version (KJV)

7 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.

Create Culture

I just read this article, and had to post it.  Let me know what you think about Mike Cosper’s comments.

Create Culture, Not Subculture

Posted By Mike Cosper On May 10, 2012 @ 10:00 PM

Editors’ Note: Reflecting on the movies produced by Sherwood Baptist Church, Andy Crouch imagined the scenario where “one or two Christian kids with real talent somewhere in this vast land are going to see these movies, get the sacred-secular dichotomy knocked out of them at an early age, move to Los Angeles, work their tails off, dream, fail, and try again . . . and one day make truly great movies.” What would these movies look like? What advice would you give to a Christian screenwriter, director, or producer who wants to make a film with artistic excellence from a Christian worldview? The Gospel Coalition posed these questions to writers, filmmakers, and artists to reflect together about Christianity and film.

See also:

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[3]

The question itself is open to misinterpretation. Christians and non-Christians alike tend to hear “Christian worldview” and assume that this refers to Christian film as a subculture, a genre of its own, focusing on strongly redemptive and openly evangelistic or biblical storylines (for example, Fireproof and the Left Behind series).

In the arts generally, there’s an assumption that the Christian artist’s worldview should result in overtly “Christian” content, where in other vocations, we rarely make the same requirement. Most of us aren’t concerned if a homebuilder sees all the world under the rule and reign of God. We’re far more concerned with whether he has character and can be trusted. We would not expect an engineer to work an ichthus into each of his designs, but (metaphorically speaking) we expect exactly that out of Christian artists, filmmakers, and musicians.

The alternative to this cloistered attitude is to challenge Christians to excel in their respective industries, including filmmaking. As James Davison Hunter argues in To Change the World [4], if we want to exercise influence in culture, we need to go to the center, the institutions where it’s most profoundly shaped. Instead of standing outside (in a subculture) and speaking in, we need truly excellent artists to go into the heart of cultural production—in this case, the Hollywood and New York film scenes—transforming it from the inside out.

Tell Great Stories

Filmmakers are storytellers, and Christian filmmakers should (vocationally speaking) focus first and foremost on telling great stories. Works by C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien have stood the test of time and gained influence not so much because of their theology but the quality of their storytelling. In Tolkien’s introduction to a later edition of The Lord of the Rings, he says he despises allegory and fiercely argues that his goal in the development of the series was to create a believable world and tell a compelling story. That should be an end enough in itself.

Preachiness in films is always obnoxious, whether it’s from evangelicals or Michael Moore. People go to the theater with the hopes of being told a compelling story, and when the urge to get a message across trumps the need to tell a good story, the film suffers and the audience cries foul. They came for an adventure and they got a sermon. But this is exactly what many Christians think of when they talk about “Christian” filmmaking.

A good story, on the other hand, can carry profound redemptive themes and portray the agonies and ecstasies of everyday life in ways that a sermon can’t (not to say that it’s superior, just different). If Christians who knew how to tell great stories could gain positions of influence in the centers of filmmaking, they could positively influence the culture of film.

They would gain a foothold in the contemporary imagination that has subtle but strong influence on the formation of attitudes and habits in our culture. They could change the norms for what’s acceptable or required in serious films. It’s sad that great shows on cable television and films that want to compete in the Oscar race are compelled to achieve a certain level of sexuality in order to be taken seriously. (This is a broad generalization, of course, but it serves to illustrate a place where change could occur.)

They say that anything worth doing is worth doing badly. This is as true of filmmaking as it is of anything, and it’s the final thing that I’d say to a Christian who wants to be the next Spielberg or Soderberg. If you want to make films, then make films. Make them badly. Make them with iPhones and flip cameras, edit them on a laptop or in a computer lab at your middle school. Make lots of them and don’t worry about whether or not they’re good until you’ve made 10 or 20. Even then, don’t worry when they’re bad. Look for the things you’ve done well and figure out how to apply those lessons to the entire next project. Keep going and pressing on in your spare time. Chase down the craft of storytelling like you’re stalking prey in the woods. You’ll start with just glimpses in the underbrush, evidence that you’re close, a flash of it here and there. Keep at it and someday you’ll catch one.


Article printed from The Gospel Coalition Blog: http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc

URL to article: http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc/2012/05/10/create-culture-not-subculture/

URLs in this post:

[1] Don’t Discard the Drama for Words: http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc/?p=19700

[2] Unsolicited Advice from a Failed Filmmaker: http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc/?p=19777

[3] Image: http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc/files/2012/05/Mike-Cosper.jpg

[4] To Change the World: http://www.amazon.com/To-Change-World-Possibility-Christianity/dp/0199730806/?tag=thegospcoal-20

Bonsai

I just received for mother’s day, a beautiful Bougainvillea Bonsai.  It is quite stunning.  Along with the plant, there were instructions on how to properly caring for it.  It needs lots of direct sunlight, and the soil must remain moist, and not dried out.  If these instructions are not followed, then the flowers and leaves will fall. However, with pruning, and a little TLC, new sprouts will grow in 1-2 weeks.   The bonsai is a carefully crafted plant in the hands of a master gardener.  Wires are wrapped around it, strengthening, twisting, shaping the plant into a thing of beauty given years of satisfaction and enjoyment.  Proper amount of sunlight and soil maintenance are needed for the plant to flourish.

Image
Photo: Denise L. White

As children of the most high God, we need lots and lots of direct “SONLIGHT”, so we can become vessels of beauty and glory.  We need His master’s hands of mercy, grace, love, and justice to shape and mold us. But if we don’t get the right amounts of SONLIGHT through the word, if we fail to keep our soil properly cared for, then the world will remove our petals.   But just like the bougainvillea bonsai after pruning by our Lord and Savior we will sprout new growth, and show the marvelous handiwork of  God.

Right in Christ

“Everything depends on our being right in Christ. If I want good apples, I must have a good apple tree. If I care for the health of the apple tree, the apple tree will give me good apples. And it is just so with our Christian life and work. If our life with Christ is right, all will come out right.” Andrew Murray

If we are right with Him, then our world should see the results of our being attached to the eternal, divine Vine-Jesus.  And we have all the instructions for becoming the fruit the world needs.  Do not let the weariness, the cares, the endless distractions keep you from getting your nutrients from Jesus.  Spend time with Him today.  Whatever is before you, remember to let him carry the load.  And we are his branches.  It is our job to go and produce fruit.  Then all will come out right in the end.