April 17, 2012
For the fourth week on my series I’m talking about the discipline of art.
ART: Exhibiting God’s Creativity
Wendy, told her husband “I believe you should open up about art.”
“We have the arts in our church”
“Only bible dramatizations and praise music”
“That’s what belongs in church.”
God is artistically oriented and He seeks to share His inclination with His re-made creatures. But art is rarely considered a spiritual discipline, it’s not like fasting, praying, meditating or even Labyrinth Walking. It’s not even proscribed in scripture, But by surrendering to God the creativity we deepen our spiritual awareness. By sketching a sunset or pointing at plants we adore the God who paints the skies and hangs the heavens. (Godology, Christian George, 42)
It’s strange to think of God being artistically oriented, especially because we generally talk about nature in the sense of God’s glory. But there had to be a beginning to the glory that is revealed through nature (Romans 1:20) there had to be a beginning, just one of the innumerable thoughts of God (Psalms 139:18) had to be creative, if not all of them. Look at the intricacies of nature, tell me it didn’t take a well formed thought to create the human brain with all its functions.
Then consider the transformation in your own life, just as George points out “God creates and re-creates us.” In Psalms 139:13-16 David writes of God knowing his frame and forming his inmost parts while he was still in his mothers womb. Then at the time when we become Christians, we move from sinner to new men and women who are now made new in Christ (Galatians 2:10).
Exhibiting God’s Creativity and Glory
When I think of my friends Alex and Angel and their artwork I can’t help but praise God. It is truly and exhibition of God’s creativity and glory, they are rejoicing in God and He is undoubtedly rejoicing in them. In my own life art takes the form of songwriting, but not in the traditional worship song sense but the kind that has been called not “corporate.” Not church music, but songs written from seeing the pain and beauty from my own life and the lives of others. .
Capturing God’s glory through his creativity allows others to worship and praise God as well. We may not think about it when we look at a painting, but seeing a painting like my friends can draw us into God, help us fall deeper in love with Him. The psalms give us a great example all throughout of poetry and songs written to praise and help the reader to fall deeper in love with a God who loves us!
Art doesn’t just exhibit God’s creativity, it also exhibits His glory, allows us to praise God in a different form and help others to acknowledge the being greater than any other conceivable being.
Becoming an Artist
One thing I’ve found to be true in my own life is that the closer I get to God, the more I surrender to Him the more my creative abilities come out. Consider that before my experience this summer I had written a total of 4 songs to completion, since returning God has inspired me to write 7 or 8 more, and I’ve even considered taking up drawing perspective again. My song writing has also taken on a different form, more encouragement, a little more worship and definatly a lot more originality.
As we draw near to God, He draws near to us and our personalities that He gave us, and with that our creative abilities start to come forward. I find the more I am pursing God the more I want to create by writing, singing a new lyric, writing a new guitar rift and as I said even draw.
Art is something God uses to draw others to Him, so why not let the church hold painting classes as Roy Stucky suggests. Why not get a group of Christians together who love to dance and form a church dance team? Why not practice art so that others can see the glory of God and rejoice in His creativity!
I hope my dear friends Alex and Angel never give up their art! Let’s join them in praising the God who creates and re-creates us, bringing glory and honor to Him who makes all things and makes them good!
God Bless You
10:31 Life Ministries
Also Available from Jonathan Faulkner
The Truth (10:31 Life Ministries Blog)
Also Available from 10:31 Life Ministries
A Chosen Generation: Called Beyond Societies Standards by Angel Edwards
The College Commitment: Those Puzzled Athenians-and Us by David Faulkner
Con of a College Freshmen; On Buying Groceries and Other Things By Amy Faulkner
The second of Christian George’s 11 Spiritual Disciplines is the Discipline of Obedience
OBEDIENCE: What Now?
My parents will attest to this, but I never wanted to obey growing up. In fact, we were given what mom called Chore Charts and I would do my best to make sure I avoided having to do those chores. When it came to school I lived in very similar rebellion, I knew the precepts set out in scripture, I’d been taught all about spiritual abuse, I knew I was a Pharisee, expecting others to obey what I thought they should while not obeying what God was telling me to do.
The best example of my insolence has to be my decision on where to go to college. I remember I was so drawn in by Indiana Wesleyan University, by the big atmosphere, the many majors to choose from. I shuddered at the thought that God might want me to go to a little town in Sterling, resisted it, fought against it. It didn’t make sense to me to go to a place so not-urban to study Urban Ministry. I learned though, that God is in the business of doing things that don’t make sense to us.
I battled, fought God’s will for most of the early years of my Christian walk, all the way up until the summer of my Junior Year of College, up until DUS and that fateful week of silence. Up until that point I wanted nothing to do with spiritual disciplines, obedience was far from the top of my priority list, I wanted more than anything to have my will, and my will was quickly failing me.
It makes sense to me, but it might not make sense to you, but we are actually much worse off when we disobey. Think about it this way, if the conductor of a train is told to head to a siding because there is a Freight coming, but disobeys that order because to him; “time is more important, and I’m behind schedule.” Then there are going to be dire consequences for not following that order.
When we choose to follow our wills over God’s, we can have similar incidents. If the wills of two people don’t line up, they will butt heads and friendships will suffer.
Obedience, especially to the will of God, will help us to avoid those incidents. Two people who are totally surrendered to the will of God will get done the work of the kingdom much quicker than two people who are trying to work their own plans into the kingdom. A great example of this can be found within the confines of the 10:31 Life Ministry Leadership Team. Because we all want the will of God in our lives and for this Ministry, God has given us the ability to work together, seeking after Him in prayer and devotional time. Because we see the need within the kingdom, and because we believe that God put this need on our hearts, we can move together, make decisions quickly and be effective workers for the kingdom.
Some might say at this point “Well that’s great for you, why should I obey?” The truth here is two-fold, the first is that Jesus obeyed, Take a look at Mark 1:35-39. Here, after one of the busiest days of Jesus Ministry the Messiah doesn’t sleep in. Instead it says “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus left the house and went out to solitary place and prayed” (v 31 NIV). So Jesus applies our first Discipline (Prayer), from his response to the Disciples found in verse 38 we can probably assume he spent that time seeking the will of the father. Because instead of staying “Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come” (NIV)
In the Garden of Gethsemane we .see another picture of Jesus praying, this time his words are actually recorded. Luke 22:42 gives us this prayer “Father if you are willing take this cup from me, yet not my will but yours be done” (NIV). Here Christ is resigning himself to the will of God, “not my will, but yours be done” if we only we would pray this prayer. If we are to be imitators of Christ (Phil. 2:5-11) then shouldn’t we seek the will of the father, then obey that will like Christ did? In my life, the answer is yes!
The second truth is that God wants to be good to us, again I go to scripture, to Romans 8:28. “And we know that God works all things for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.” We can take this to mean that all things will work for our good, if we are surrendered and willing to obey God’s purpose. When we are living in rebellion, disobeying God, we are not doing what He has called us to do, therefore who will it work out for us, most likely not to our liking or benefit.
But when we surrender to God, when we obey, we begin to discover His heart and we are blessed by Him for our obedience. Situations still might not work out to our liking, but God uses those moments to teach us something about Himself and about ourselves, to mold and shape us into His image, so we defiantly benefit. Since I’ve surrendered God has allowed my friendships to grow exponentially, I haven’t been blessed with financial means, but with relational means, something more valuable than money. Not that God doesn’t bless people in other ways, indeed He will bless each of us according to His will.
Prayer and Obedience go hand in hand, we must pray to know the will of God, to discover His direction for our lives. Then once we know that direction, we have to act on it, or face the consequences.
God’s intent is not to destroy us, but if we are disobeying, habitually rebelling He will eventually get our attention, sometimes in unpleasant ways. This breaking is good for us, and I pray if you are experiencing that right now that you let God lead you through it, trust me, the end result is far better than your current situation.
So I challenge you to stop fighting, lay down your will and seek out and practice obedience to the will of God. Dear friends, it will go great for us as we seek to be imitators of Christ.
March 31, 2012
I think it’s time, as I’ve been talking a lot about disciplines to start to expand on these disciplines. So I am going to use the eleven spiritual disciplines set forth by writer Christian George in his book Godology: because knowing God changes everything. These eleven Disciplines can be found on page fifteen of the introduction where George challenges his readers to trade their rakes for shovels and go deep.The 11 Disciplines that George outlines are Prayer, Obedience, Art, Journaling, Silence, Fasting, Vow Making, Meditation, Solitude, Labyrinth Walking, Practicing God’s Presence.
These 11 Disciplines, when applied at different seasons of our lives build on our relationship with Christ and can even help us build on our relationship with one another. So for the next 11 posts of this blog we will be looking at what I call “Good Discipline” and specifically the 11 that George has given us.
The first is Prayer.
Prayer; More Than God’s Telephone
I like to think of Prayer as a telephone, yes I know this is definatly an inadequate example. There is more to prayer than just being able to call God, as we’ll discover, it’s about communicating with God, actually communicating with Him. When we pray we can be by ourselves or we can gather together in a small or large group and pray together, we can pray one on one, we can pray all the time.
Prayer is a very important Discipline, don’t believe me consider that Luke gives us 11 instances of Jesus going out to pray by himself. In the book of John we get a whole two chapters of Jesus just praying for His disciples as He’s about to go to the cross. Jesus last hours before getting being arrested were spent in such fervent prayer that one of the gospel writers describes as “sweat like drops of blood.” Prayer is important, if it wasn’t there wouldn’t be instructions given to us in Matthew 6:5-14.
So prayer is important, but what is it? And what is it not? I recently put out an article on praying in troubled times. In that article my words may have come across more as Therapeutic Deism, that was not my intent, God will not make our suffering better, He will give us a way to get through, that is why praying in times of trouble is important. So prayer is not some way to make us feel better. Prayer is also not a way for us to boast, consider the Parable of the Pharisee told in Luke 18:9-14, who thanked God that he was not like the tax collector, while the tax collector couldn’t even lift his eyes he was so ashamed of his sin. So prayer is not a way of boasting in our greatness, instead it is something to be done in secret (see Matthew 6:7) or humbly in groups (Matthew 18:20).
Praying helps to build unity between us and God as well as us and other believers. I remember a night not too long ago when the 10:31 Life Ministry Team got together with a few of our friends and prayed over our campus. In that moment we were all united in a common prayer and in the fact that we were, through prayer seeking after God. One night, after a particular troubling situation was brought to my attention, my brother and I went down to the lake and spent and hour in silence, praying and seeking God through scripture. In this moment we were united with God as we sought to align our wills with His.
Often times we use prayer for our own personal gain. I can remember several nights (and will have many more) when I’ve prayed for God to give me a good grade on a test I didn’t adequately study for.. Other prayers I’ve prayed include really wanting a relationship, or even what I’m going to wear the next day (no giggles please). But in going to God for what I want never seemed to satisfy me, and to be honest I never got what I wanted, and if I did it was only temporary.
Prayer, especially contemplative prayer, is a time to discover the will of God. What do I mean by contemplative prayer? I mean what Henri Nouwn meant when he wrote “Contemplative prayer deepens in us the knowledge that we are already free, that we have already found a place to dwell, that we already belong to God” (In the Name of Jesus, Henri Nouwen, Crossroad Publishing, 1989). By this we can say that when we are praying we enter into the presence of God.
Prayer is also a tool for thinking God, as kids we always used to pray “God is great, God is good, thank you Jesus for our food, give us Lord our daily bread….amen.” We used to pray a prayer similar to this before every meal, it was a prayer of thanksgiving, thanking God for the food we were about to eat. Prayers of thanksgiving also take the form of thanking God for something that happened, a major life event like a promotion at work might inspire you to pray a prayer of thanksgiving.
Pray doesn’t have to be audible, we can pray through thoughts, a few of my friends even write our prayers out, especially when we are praying for one another. It is not only encouraging, but, over distances, allows others to know that we are truly praying for them.
Prayer is our connection to God, Christian George calls it our “Direct line to divinity” (Godology, Christian George, moody pub. 2009). It is through prayer that we can actually have a conversation with God, to take our cares and burdens to Him, but also to hear directly from Him, to discern His will for specific situations we might be facing.
So right now I challenge you to take an hour out of your busy schedule and devote it to prayer, take your bible and pray the scriptures, pray the psalms, take your cares and your burdens to Him who wants to bring you into His rest (Hebrews 4:11). Then Listen, as the Lord meets you in that place hear what He has for you and pray for conformation.
Dear friends, in every situation, let us pray!
10:31 Life Ministries
Also available from 10:31 Life Ministries
A Chosen Generation (1 Peter 2:9): Called Beyond Societies Standards by Angel Edwards
College Commitment: The Toughest Test by David Faulkner
Confessions of a College Freshmen: On Buying Groceries….by Amy Faulkner
To Learn more about 10:31 Life Ministries check us out on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/1031ministries