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Creativity Opposed

August 12, 2011

I was 14 year olds, and trying for a dream, but my dream did not develop as I had hoped. I remember feeling so disappointed and discouraged. Then came along Kirsten. She said four little words that changed my entire view of the world at that moment.

I believe in you!

In the face of my circumstances, those four words gave me hope. They encouraged me to believe. They gave me something that I lacked….courage.

This year I made a goal to be intentional. To make my decisions and actions with thought, passion, and purpose. However,  few months ago, I again faced some circumstances in life where dreams did not develop as planned, where hopes were derailed, and were I lacked courage.

Adversity has a way of revealing our true character.

The circumstances I faced were not just disappointing, I felt opposed. This time there were no words of “I believe in you”. Instead the door was closed, and I was turned away. I wanted to fight back.

Over these last few months as I have worked through the adversity there is a price I have paid that I had not seen coming.

I felt opposed, but what actually was opposed was my creativity.

Creativity takes space, freedom, energy, passion, enthusiasm, and confidence. 
Creativity comes from down deep, and when our heart, purpose, and actions are opposed, our creativity is opposed. 

I believe in the Body of Christ. We all have a role, a place, and things to share that are valuable to others. I have a heart for others. I want to see others excel at their purposes and their dreams. I want encourage them, support them, and help them build the confidence and courage they need to excel.

As leaders, managers, parents, teachers, neighbors, spouses, friends, and even as servants we are in a role to build up others. Every day we pass by people we could encourage. We have the ability to release the creativity in others. To free them from any opposition or adversity the might be facing.

This week I saw a movie trailer that posed a couple of questions. “How do we inspire ourselves to greatness when nothing less will do? How do we inspire everyone around us to do the impossible?”

Where can you be inspiring others to use and explore their creativity? It might be as simple as four little words. 

I believe in you … Go for the gusto … Reach for the stars …. Live to the fullest … You are so talented … Dream the impossible dream!

Freedom moves us to act

July 4, 2011

Today, July 4th, is a day to remember and celebrate American freedom. Sometimes I wonder if we do more of the celebrating and less of the remembering. Freedom is a gift, a precious gift, but like most gifts there is a cost, and the cost of freedom is often very high.

I have been thinking about the freedoms we have that others may not  be able to share. Sometimes that is due to cultural and political issues, sometimes it is due to persecution, or poverty, or war, and sometimes it is due to their own choices.

  • Freedom of speech
  • Freedom of religion
  • Freedom to take action against injustices
  • Freedom to vote
  • Freedom to purchase resources, including housing, water, electricity, medical care, and food
  • Freedom to choose our relationships
  • Freedom to learn, grow, and change
  • Freedom to own property and belongings
  • Freedom to go where we want
  • Freedom to celebrate, rejoice, be joyful
  • Freedom to love, forgive, show mercy

On the east coast of America it is already evening and many have been eating and celebrating for hours, anticipating nightfall and the darkness that makes fireworks spectacular. At each celebration I hope there is a remembrance of those who have paid the price for these freedoms we celebrate.

Freedom came with a cost.
Freedom came with loss of life, blood, resources, and relationships.
Freedom came by giving up time with family and friends, comfort, health, and safety.
Freedom came when someone made a choice to stand up for what they believed was right, even in the face of wrong.

As we remember those who paid that cost, I hope that we also are moved to a place of wanting to do the same for others. May we seek to bring freedom to those who are abused, imprisoned, broken, and lost. May we seek to be a hand and heart of hope and light when the darkness of circumstances seems overwhelming.

July 4th is a day of remembering and celebrating, but may it also be a day where we are moved to act. A day where we see the fireworks and celebrations and we dream of a future where there is even more to celebrate.

Is there some new way you are moved to act?

Story, Imagination, Creativity all rolled together into….

May 31, 2011

When you think of stories, imagination, and creativity, what do you think of? 

Children’s books? Movies? Science Fiction? 

Art? Movies? Books? Music? Photography? Acting? Poetry?

A Christian conference? Wait…..what?

Imagine a conference where this is all brought together in a multi-sensory experience, designed to inspire, and entice your creativity.

STORY was designed for the creative class of Christian leaders. A place to connect, to dream, to refresh and inspire them to new places.

Oh, you don’t see yourself as one of the creative class because you aren’t a leader on a worship team, or guiding others along a creative process? I know EXACTLY how you feel. When I walked into STORY 2010 I wondered why I was there. What had I gotten myself into? Why was I alone and attending a conference in Illinois when my entire community was back home in Oregon and I wasn’t leading anything creative with anyone. Two days later, I was so blessed and changed by what I had experienced.

A fire starts with a spark. A movement starts with one step. A dream starts with a stirring of the heart. 

Take a look at STORY.
Consider it, pray about it, dream about it.

Allow your creative side to tell you if there is anything you could learn, dream, or do differently.

The early bird discount for the conference ends today, May 31st, so if you are ready, take a risk and come along for a wonderful, imaginative, creative, and inspiring experience. There is still room, so if you are not ready today, keep dreaming and investigating. Revisit the site and consider coming along for an imaginative and awakening experience. I am sure you will be inspired!

Struggling to Understand Grace

May 2, 2011

G R A C E

GRACE

AMAZING GRACE

It is a word I have heard many times in life, but to be honest, I don’t understand it.

That is kind of hard to admit. As a Christian, especially one in leadership, I feel like it is something I should understand. But…sadly, I don’t.

Grace.

Such a small word, but such a big concept.

I belong to a movement of people called, People of the Second Chance. We believe in unleashing radical grace, liberating love, and overthrowing judgment. A group of members of this movement are part of something called the Grace Mob. We reach out to others in need of love, encouragement, hope, and grace. Many times this takes the form of words through email, twitter, or cards, but occasionally we find practical ways we can assist someone in need.

I love what the group does, but I honestly wonder how much of it is about grace. I think a lot of what we practice is really just love and compassion. It has left me wondering if I really understand grace.

If I don’t understand grace, then how can I unleash it toward others?

If I don’t understand grace, then how can I accept it from Christ?

Grace is defined in dictionaries as: 1) favor or good will, 2) a manifestation of favor, especially by a superior, 3) mercy; clemency; pardon,  4) favor shown in granting a delay or temporary immunity. 5) the freely given, unmerited favor and love of God. 6) moral strength

Mercy, pardon, unmerited favor. . . . How is this different than love and compassion?
This week I have accepted a challenge to *BE* an active demonstration of love and grace to the people in my life. I am faced with constant ways that I can love others and demonstrate that in tangible and radical ways, but grace. Glorious, wonderful, amazing grace.
How can we demonstrate grace?
How can we understand grace?
How can we teach grace to others and encourage them to also be people that live and demonstrate grace?

Holes in My Gospel and Thinking

March 13, 2011

I am in the midst of reading The Hole in Our Gospel by Richard Stearns (President of World Vision). At the beginning of the book he tells a story of Jim Wallis, founder of Sojourners Magazine. While at Divinity school he and some of this classmates cut out every Bible passage and verse that dealt with poverty, wealth, justice, and oppression. They were left with a Bible that was full of holes.

Other authors such as Tony Compolo (http://redletterchristians.org) and Tom Davis (http://blog.beliefnet.com/redletters/) have also inspired and called Christians to live out a biblically based faith that matches scripture.

As I have been reflecting on Stearns story and message I am left considering how closely my life matches with scripture. Are there parts of scripture that I know but refuse to align my life with?

  • Do I hold other things as a “god” in my life above the Lord?
  • Do I keep the sabbath holy?
  • Do I take a day to rest my body, mind, and spirit?
  • Do I follow where the Lord leads, or do I make my plans and ask the Lord to bless them?
  • Am I living a call to “go and do likewise” (Luke 10:37 NIV) and to “go and make disciples (Matthew 28:19 NIV)?
  • “If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?” (1 John 3:17)
  • Is my heart turned to other things besides the Lord? “If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything” (1 John 3:20)

I want to live a life based on truth, on scripture, and on God’s wisdom. It is hard to swallow how far I have to go, but I am thankful that God is forgiving and patient, caring more about who I am becoming than who I am today.

If you cut out everything in the Bible you do not believe or are not willing to apply in your life, would your Bible be full of holes?

What is it we are not willing to believe and/or apply?

Believing Plus More

February 28, 2011

Some days it is tough to believe…. in me, in others, in good things, in more.
Yet, that is what is needed. 

Other days, choosing to believe comes as easily as breathing.

I have been reminded lately though that just believing isn’t enough.

I can believe my car will start, but I still need to turn the key to make it happen.

I can believe that the orphans and fatherless will be taken care of, but someone needs to take action to make a difference in their life.

I do believe that I have things I can change in this world, but they will never change unless I take action.

Believing may be tough some days, or easy on others. Either way, believing alone is not enough.

What do you believe in enough that you are willing to take action on this week?

The darkness of prison, the need for light

February 27, 2011

Paul knew what it was to spend time in prison. He was likely in a dark, cold, wet, drafty, polluted, stench ridden location. There were no comforts of home. The prisoners did not have rights or entitlements. Injustice was enacted against prisoners without thought.

Most of us do not think of prison very often. In our modern-day terminology it is a concrete building with metal or stone fences enclosing people who have been convicted of not following societies rules. It is a place that is removed, set aside, and avoided.

In reality, many of us are living in prison every day. The prison of unforgiveness, the prison of expectations, the prison of need. We are living lives of such brokenness that each day has moments that are difficult to walk through. Memories haunt us. Situations are avoided. Conflict lingers, causing us to rethink things.

In Matthew 18, we are told of a story where Christ was sharing with the disciples about forgiveness. It is a much more important issue than most of us realize. Rather than working through issues, we continue to live broken lives, refusing to let Christ enter into the conflict and bring healing. Like the unmerciful servant we have been forgiven, a debt that is far more than we could ever repay.

““But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded. “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’ “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed and went and told their master everything that had happened. “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.

“This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.” ” (Matthew 18:28-35)

Are you living in darkness? In a prison of your making? Are you living in a prison of unforgiveness from others?

Sins, brokenness, pain, and need that are left in the darkness will suffer, fester, and grow causing us to wither and die. They need to be brought into the light.

That is exactly what Christ came to change. “He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God,  to comfort all who mourn”

When we let Christ enter into our pain, our brokenness, our need, we find freedom and release. There was darkness, there was a need for rescue, hope, light, and redemption. We knew what it was to live in darkness, in prison. Through Christ, our lives can be changed. My life has been changed, and with incredible joy I love to share about the amazing things He has done and is doing in my life.

Thank you Lord for seeing me as I really am, releasing me, and changing my life. Now, as my life overflows I get to share that joy and hope with others!