Tag Archives: Faith

Resolve to Live a Life You Can Be Proud Of

From the very first post I ever wrote about Nashville, to deciding to take a giant leap into the unknown just a couple months later,  this city has been home.

When I say the day I moved to Nashville is more of a reason to celebrate than my birthday I truly mean that…I don’t care how cliche it sounds. That move was the start of truly living for me. It was completely unexpected but has truly transformed me more than any other event in my life.

I have found healing …both physically & in my heart.
I’ve discovered the intersection of justice & community.
I’ve learned to live life in all of its messy layers.
I’ve learned what it is to savor life in relationship.
I’m learning what it means to embrace the beautiful mystery of tension.
I’ve learned to sit in the space in between rather than being distracted by the next thing.
I’ve learned to love more deeply from the community of people I get to live life with.

This city has wooed me. And celebrating two years here today is just as incredible & unreal as celebrating one year was. When I look back on my story of my life I see how He has connected all of the dots…how everything that seemed random to me belonged in His plan.

When I stop to think about life over the last two years it is so full my heart is overwhelmed. By His goodness. His plans. His provision. The community He has surrounded me with. It is a story I never even imagined or dreamed, and for that I am grateful beyond words. Sometimes He asks us to go simply so we can find life…so we can come alive. All we have to do is respond.

So if you feel like you’re going through the motions, like you’ve lost the person God created you to be; if you’re frustrated with what is & feel like He’s given you a dream for what could be, take a step out of the boat, live in a place where miracles are necessary, & trust that He wants you to do more than survive. Resolve to embrace every bit of the risk & vulnerability of failing & bring hurt by love in order to live fully awake to the joy of life.

 

Throwback Sundays…Beautiful Words

I think I still get chills every time I read these words…a poem…a liturgy of sorts that Mark Pierson included in his book The Art of Curating Worship. My favorite portion of the poem is below, but check out this post for the entire thing. It’s worth it!

We often forget the story which came to us,
Preferring order to uncertainty;
Orthodoxy to love,
And religious piety to unmerited grace

Come to us again, Lord Jesus,
And whisper your words of welcome;
Fill our hearts with reckless wonder,
And our minds with splendid nonsense

Awake in us the dream of the kingdom;
Resurrect our dead and perished visions;
Alert us to the heaven in our midst;
And quicken us to laugh and love

 

 

From “A Letter to Artists”

As someone who values & appreciates art, who believes art & beauty can be significant in a journey of faith, I’m often looking for meaningful thoughts & writing on the such things. I took some time to read Pope John Paul’s letter to artists recently & wanted to share a couple of my favorite parts.

“…I intend to follow the path of the fruitful dialogue between the Church and artists which has gone on unbroken through two thousand years of history, and which still, at the threshold of the Third Millennium, offers rich promise for the future.”

“Those who perceive in themselves this kind of divine spark which is the artistic vocation—as poet, writer, sculptor, architect, musician, actor and so on—feel at the same time the obligation not to waste this talent but to develop it, in order to put it at the service of their neighbour and of humanity as a whole.”

“Artists who are conscious of all this know too that they must labour without allowing themselves to be driven by the search for empty glory or the craving for cheap popularity, and still less by the calculation of some possible profit for themselves.”

“Every genuine art form in its own way is a path to the inmost reality of man and of the world. It is therefore a wholly valid approach to the realm of faith, which gives human experience its ultimate meaning. That is why the Gospel fullness of truth was bound from the beginning to stir the interest of artists, who by their very nature are alert to every “epiphany” of the inner beauty of things.”

“The ‘beautiful’ was thus wedded to the ‘true’, so that through art too souls might be lifted up from the world of the senses to the eternal.”

“Even when they explore the darkest depths of the soul or the most unsettling aspects of evil, artists give voice in a way to the universal desire for redemption.”

“Art has a unique capacity to take one or other facet of the message and translate it into colours, shapes and sounds which nourish the intuition of those who look or listen. It does so without emptying the message itself of its transcendent value and its aura of mystery.”

“What an impoverishment it would be for art to abandon the inexhaustible mine of the Gospel!”

“I appeal especially to you, Christian artists: I wish to remind each of you that, beyond functional considerations, the close alliance that has always existed between the Gospel and art means that you are invited to use your creative intuition to enter into the heart of the mystery of the Incarnate God and at the same time into the mystery of man.”

Beauty is a key to the mystery and a call to transcendence. It is an invitation to savour life and to dream of the future. That is why the beauty of created things can never fully satisfy. It stirs that hidden nostalgia for God which a lover of beauty like Saint Augustine could express in incomparable terms: ‘Late have I loved you, beauty so old and so new: late have I loved you!’.”

If you have an interest in art & beauty & faith, I encourage you to take a few minutes to read the letter in it’s entirety!!

In the meantime, any thoughts on the excerpts above? 

A Book for the Soul of an Artist

I first heard of Gary Molander when I read “The Idiot’s Guide to Church Burnout” on CollideMagazine.com. That was January 16th, 2010. I know because that’s the day I clipped the article into Evernote. It was also a day that was a dot in a picture that a couple of months later God would connect.

The last line of the article I read that day haunted me “I want to be clear. Burnout is a very real thing. I’m not questioning its existence. I’m questioning its root cause. And I really don’t think the root cause is being overworked and underpaid. I think the primary cause is our inability to marry our deepest God-given passions and desires to a structure or organization where we honestly believe that God can change the world through us.” It haunted me because that’s exactly where I was. But I was no where near being ready to admit it.

Fast forward a year…almost exactly…it was January 20th, 2011. I know because the magic of technology tracks things like that on emails. Gary emailed to say he was working on a book “Pursuing Christ. Creating Art.” and he wanted me to write an introduction to a chapter on the Church. At this point, and even up to the point that I sent that piece to Gary, we had never had a face to face conversation. To say I was humbled is an understatement.

Gary may not have the title “pastor” at any church. In fact he writes in his book “I think it’s a really good thing I’m not a pastor anymore…” But, Gary is a pastor at heart. And he is a pastor especially to artists because as an artist himself he understands that wiring & what it means to experience life from that corner of the world.

In “Pursuing Christ. Creating Art.” Gary time & again reminds us that it’s not about us. He speaks from a knowing & broken place as an artist himself but one he refuses to wallow in. He validates the emotions of artists but challenges all of us not to use them as an excuse. An excuse for anger, bitterness, divisiveness, inaction, & more.

In sharing his own stories, experiences, & struggles as an artist Gary encourages each of us to take heart, & to remember that we are first & foremost children of God. At the end of the way, that is what matters. And at the end of the day misplacing our identity in anything or anyone else will leave us producing false art.

There are so many incredible “one-liners” from the book I could fill this post up with, but I’d rather encourage you to read them for yourself in the context of the book. You can pick up a copy here.

I think we all need to be reminded, from time to time, to wholeheartedly pursue Christ while creating art rather than getting lost in a pursuit of art that leaves us unintentionally creating Christ. 

*Image taken from the e-confessional companion guide for the book. It’s beautiful. And helpful. Check it out here

Another Kind of Resurrection

Last Sunday at church we were in John chapter 10 studying the story of the death and eventual resurrection of Lazarus. It’s a story I’ve heard many times…probably too many to count since I was a kid.

But, this time the whole idea of resurrection struck me like never before. My pastor pointed out that Jesus is in the business of bringing dead people to life. And that isn’t restricted to physical death. It clicked for me that over the last year Jesus has raised me from death. From the death of religion & legalism resurrecting me into a life-giving relationship with Him.

I am alive. I feel alive like never before. The grace in that overwhelms me & the joy is often inexpressible.

But my pastor also pointed out something else that hit hard: Jesus let Lazarus die before he raised him. He could have healed from his sickness before he died. But He didn’t. You see, while God is the ultimate healer He is also in the business of restoration. And oftentimes that means death before new life. Resurrection simply cannot occur without death. It’s impossible.

I think oftentimes we want to overlook that fact because we don’t want the pain…we just want the beauty on the other side. But the truth is the beauty is nothing without the pain. I found that realization comforting. Hard to swallow at times, yes. But, a comfort in knowing that after death comes new life and that new life isn’t possible without death.

How have you experienced resurrection lately?