Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Creativity in Worship

Next week many people from Redeemer and others around the country will head to Green Lake, Wisconsin for the annual Holy Spirit conference. It's such a beautiful place. God always shows up and it's a great time spent with my church family. You really get to know each other well when you share a bathroom for a week!

This week I'll be teaching a workshop on creativity in worship. I love doing this. I teach 3 trimesters in Redeemer Ministry School on worship. I break these trimesters up like this:
#1  Intimacy and Identity: Knowing God and knowing yourself.
#2  Biblical Lifestyle of Worship: How to daily live out intimacy and idenitity.
#3  Creativity: Partnering with the Creator to reveal Him to others.

The first thing God wants us to know about Himself in Scripture is that He is the Creator (Genesis 1:1). Think of the multiple facets and characteristics that could have been the 1st thing revealed about Him: all-powerful, redeemer, father, bridegroom, comforter, sovereign, love, judge, etc. When I go to a bookstore to browse, I often read the first few pages of a book to see if it grabs me. It's the first few pages that give a preview of what that book is about. I do not take it lightly that God reveals Himself first as Creator. Why???

Statistics say that before a child reaches the age of 6, they are using 80% of their creative potential. Think of a young child's world...it's play, play, play. Their imagination runs wild 24/7. They are uninhibited creative creatures, filled with curiosity and new experiences every day. Once a child reaches the age of 6, they are only using 20% of their creative potential. What happens? They enter school where they are taught to conform to rules and coloring in the lines. They begin to learn that what they produce isn't good enough in comparison to other children and standards. We live in a culture of hierarchy where everything we do is measured and critiqued. As a child learns that what he produces on this earth isn't good enough or excepted or out-of-the-box, fears of what people think about them form. Rather than letting who they are be seen, they conform to the status quo and latest trends. These fears and conformity travel into adulthood.

I believe this is a method of the enemy to steal from God's children. The first thing God wants us to know about Himself is that He is Creator. The first thing God wants us to know about ourselves is that we're made in His image (Genesis 1:27). If we are made in the image of the Creator, than it is in our very make-up to be creative. Creativity is not limited to communicative arts (dancing, painting, music, writing, etc.), although it definitely includes those things. Creativity is simply (my definition) taking who I am and partnering with the Creator to reveal who He is to others. No one can produce who you are on this planet, but you. God has gifted you with specific words, talents, abilities, ideas, and breakthroughs that no one else can create.

To me, creativity in worship is Colossians 3:17, "And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him." So much of what we see in the artistic world is self-serving and self-glorifying. Think of the music playing on the radio right now. It's all about how I can "get mine". Anything that we produce is meant to bring glory and fame to God. There are songs to be sung, books yet unwritten, movies yet filmed, medical breakthroughs yet to be discovered, solutions for problems yet to be found, people yet to be loved. All of these require creativity. All of these are meant to declare the glories and wonders of Him on this earth. Who will produce them, but you? You are a creative being made in the image of your Creator Father. Ask God how you can partner with Him today to make Him famous.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Abiding in Christ

I'm currently reading a book by Andrew Murray called, "Abide in Christ: Your Guide to Unspeakable Joy." I've been reading it for a couple weeks and I'm only about 25 pages in...not because I'm a slow reader, but because this book is packed with powerful one-liners. I feel like I read a sentence and it takes a few hours for my heart and mind to catch up with what God wants to teach me. I have to meditate on his words and give them time to work me. So...I thought I'd share a few sound bites with you. Andrew Murray says:

"Abiding in Him is not a work that we have to do as the condition for enjoying His salvation, but a consenting to let Him do all for us, and in us, and through us. It is a work He does for us - the fruit and the power of His redeeming love. Our part is to simply yield, to trust, and to wait for what He has engaged to perform." 

"Abide in me: These words are no law of Moses, demanding from the sinful what they cannot perform. They are the command of love, which is ever only a promise in a different shape. Think of this until all feeling of burden and fear and despair pass away, and the first thought that comes as you hear of abiding in Jesus be one of bright and joyous hope: it is for me, I know I shall enjoy it. You are not under the law, with its inexorable DO, but under grace, with its blessed Believe what Christ will do for you. and if the question be asked, "But surely there is something for us to do?" the answer is, "Our doing and working are but the fruit of Christ's work in us." It is when the soul becomes utterly passive, looking and resting on what Christ is to do, that its energies are stirred to their highest activity, and that we work most effectually because we know that He works in us."

And lastly, these are the words I spent the most time on yesterday. Murray quotes Philippians 3:12, which says, "I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which I also am apprehended of Christ Jesus." He then goes on to say:

"This connection between Christ's work and our work is beautifully expressed [in this verse]. It was because he (Paul) knew that the mighty and the faithful One had grasped him with the glorious purpose of making him one with Himself, that he did his utmost to grasp the glorious prize. 
  Paul's expression, and its application to the Christian life, can best be understood if we think of a father helping his child to mount the side of some steep precipice. The father stands above, and has taken the son by the hand to help him on. He points him to the spot on which he will help him to plant his feet, as he leaps upward. The leap would be too high and dangerous for the child alone; but the father's hand is his to trust, and he leaps to get hold of the point for which his father has taken hold of him. It is the father's strength that secures him and lifts him up, and so urges him to use his utmost strength.
  Such is the relationship between Christ and you, O weak and trembling believer! Fix first your eyes on the whereunto for which He has apprehended you. It is nothing less than a life of abiding, unbroken fellowship with Himself to which He is seeking to lift you up." 

Love this.