Throw up first

throw up I am teaching a workshop on the creative process in March at The Worship Conference. I am having similar feelings as I do when given opportunities to teach God's Word; who am I to teach this? All is grace!

Same as intimate connection with God, moments and periods of creativity are exactly that; moments! [Tweet That] We all have times when God seems as distant as our creativity. As a follower of Jesus, I believe the two are intimately connected. I am my most creative when I am most connected to the heart of God.

There are practical steps to take for jumpstarting that intimacy, and there are practical steps for jumpstarting your creativity. I will communicate those in my workshop in March, but one I will communicate in a great quote I just came across.

"Throw up into your typewriter every morning. Clean up every noon." - Raymond Chandler

Pain and Gods goodness

True Story: Our professor asked the class a simple question:

"What do you think of when you think of God's goodness?"

Slowly hands went up, and then a flood of hands shot up. It was story after story of hurt, pain, and suffering. Each story reflected how incredibly painful situations came and went, but there was a common thread of retrospect by which each person realized they were stronger having come through it. They each reflected on how they came away from those moments with a stronger understanding of God's goodness.

After about 30 minutes of story, I sat amazed that all these stories of pain faced and gone through were sparked by a question about what we thought of when we thought of God's goodness. We were not asked about pain, evil, hurt, or why bad things happen to good people. We were asked about God's goodness, and it sparked reflections on painful points in life.

I came away wondering if we could understand God's goodness until we have come through things like this.

How incredible is God's goodness!

Notes from the dogeared pages of #32

Today I retired journal #32. It is always good to look back on the thoughts and reflections. The quotes and jots. The drawings and scribbles. So here are a few random notes from the dogeared pages of #32. - A love letter from a stranger means nothing to us...but even a tiny note from my wife means the world...most of our not liking scripture is just not understanding or being in relationship with the one from who the letters were written

- Discipleship: action needs to be important, not just a Bible study...Application is a must throughout, but doctrine has to be important or at least clarifying of the essentials...contracts is necessary; this is a commitment you will only get what you put in...

-[vision casting] ENVISION a new culture SHARE vision with everyone GET ALIGNMENT with leadership MODEL the culture you want to create FORM URGENCY sense

- "Boredom is the natural byproduct of redundancy...and church ministry is redundant by nature." ... create new and fresh experiences with God instead of repeating the same stories over and over and over again..we tell the same old stories about God because we are having no new experiences with him...the pastor needs to teach and lead in a way that creates new opportunities and new experiences for the church family...but my teaching and leadership cannot be new, fresh, and alive if my personal experience of God is not new, fresh, and alive

- Pull away...look within...look around...Fill up...change it up

- "Greed is a sign of slavery; you have to hold on to something because you NEED it" - "Generosity is a sign of freedom." - Cody Cannon

- "People who don't know Christ do not get to OUT-SERVE Christians." -Cody Cannon

Soaking vs Snapping

Ozzie Chambers says, "It is the innermost of the innermost that reveals the power of life." Our spiritual power and purpose is only found within. This means that the majority of our time should be spent in the private life with God. How much time do I dedicate to my private life with God? Where does our strength come from? Do I have any strength at all? When I spend enough private time with God in my innermost being, I find what Ozzie says:

"strength lies in the fact that here you are put into SOAK WITH GOD."

I love that phrase; that image. Have I been soaking with God? Only when I take the time and space to soak before God will I ever have the inner strength that comes from it. I have to find the private time with God on a regular basis where I can sit and SOAK BEFORE GOD. This is the only way to go about life, and this is the way faith and Christianity is meant to be lived out.

"if you waste your time in over-active energies instead of getting into SOAK on the great fundamental truths of God's Redemption, you will SNAP when the strain comes."

I look back and realize how true Ozzie is here. I can look back to see the most straining times brought two reactions from me depending upon whether I had been having my private time with God regularly or not. Had I been soaking with God during those times? Well it can be determined based on whether I snapped in those moments or not. Had I completely broken down when life kicked me where it counts? Had I nearly given up?

OR did I go through it faithfully and with trust?

When life kicks you where it counts, I hope you have been SOAKING BEFORE GOD so you do not SNAP.

We all need someone

We all need a "Phillip" in our lives. (Acts 8) We need someone who can and will help us understand what we read in scripture. No matter where you are in your life and faith, you need someone to help you have an even better understanding than you already do. Someone to ask questions and ask questions OF! Someone with new perpsectives you do not always see or have never seen before! Someone to help you understand what you are reading in a new way!

* now if I would just practice what I preach (and write)

When bad Christians happen to good people

"To me a Christian is either a man who lives in Christ or a phony. You Christians do not appreciate that it is on this--the almost eternal testimony that you give of God--that we judge you. You ought to radiate Christ. Your faith ought to flow out to us like a river of life. You ought to infect us with a LOVE for him. It is then that God who was impossible becomes possible for the atheist and for those of us whose faith is wavering. We cannot help being struck, upset, and confused by a Christian who is truly Christlike. And we do not forgive him when he fails to be." - an atheist woman from Paris "Many who had already come close on the way to believing are frightened away by the bad lives of evil and false Christians. How many, my brothers, do you think there are who want to become Christians but are put off by the evil ways of Christians?" - St. Augustine

"It is symptomatic that, despite the church having been around for two thousand years, the mass of people still pass Christianity by. Why? Because the visible presence of Jesus Christ is rarely present in Christians as a whole." - Brennan Manning

"Why blame the dark for being dark? It is far more helpful to ask why the light isn't as bright as it could be." - Rob Bell

Cornel West Week: leftovers

In the spirit of Thanksgiving being yesterday, here are a few leftover quotes from Dr. West.

"Interrogate your hidden assumptions."

"To be a Christian is to live dangerously, honestly, freely--to step in the name of love as if you may land on nothing, yet to keep on stepping because the something that sustains you no empire can take away."

"I cannot be an optimist but I am a prisoner of hope."

"You can't lead the people if you don't love the people. You can't save the people if you don't serve the people."

"Love is a steadfast commitment to the well-being of others."