Lessons Learned – Story Conference 2011

September 20, 2011

The engines blared loudly, as my plane reached for the sky and headed south. This was the beginning of the end of a special time in Chicago. As we made our way up into the clouds, I began to contemplate and try to digest all of the information and inspiration I had received over the past few days. I had just returned from attending a conference called Story. It is for creatives such as filmmakers, artist, songwriters, writers, designers, just to name a few. They gather each year to draw inspiration from fellow creative thinkers, and provide encouragement to one another by reminding each other the importance of their craft in telling the greatest Story ever told.

As I thought over all of the things said and done, I began to see a similar theme laid out over the two days of the conference. The first three words that came to the surface of my thoughts were Darkness, Discouragement, and Doubt. Many of those who presented talked about things in this world that you can describe as darkness such as disease, abuse, and human trafficking. Many also referred to discouragement in terms of their failures, disappointments, and pain. If you allow darkness and discouragement to take control of your life it will ultimately lead to doubt.

While I continued contemplating what I heard I remember listening to Ann Voskamp, she mentioned the following three words: Gazing, Gratitude, and Glory. I did not make much of these words when they were first spoken but as the day progressed and the conference came to an end I began to see how these three words were the antithesis of the other three words. I also realized that throughout the conference, these words were also a common theme.

You see it is quite difficult to do much gazing when one is in darkness but the eye seemly is drawn to the light as soon it breaks the darkness. As one begins to see the light, one can either turn away or be lead to a heart of gratitude instead of the feeling of discouragement. And instead of the doubt, there now becomes a hope of glory.

So you may ask what the difference is between the first three words and the later. I believe it can be summed up with two words that were also evident in the talks during the conference. Those words are control and surrender.

Laura Chandler shared her story including recent events with her well-known husbands dealings with cancer. I was struck with the scripture she shared, Psalm 107. This basic theme throughout this Psalm was celebrating God’s providential deliverances. It has a beautiful repetition of showing the hopeless estate of the people then their redemption by the Savior. The people were faced darkness (vs. 10), discouragement (vs. 5) and were all but filled with doubt (vs. 27). Under these circumstances all they could do was to cry out which they did in verses 6, 13, and 19. In this text the people started out thinking they were in control only to find once trouble came this was not the case. As they cried out they surrendered and only then did the Lord provide the salvation they needed. In other words, the surrender brought victory and freedom that allows for the truest form of creativity.

I found that this parallels the creative process in my life. Many times we have an idea or a project only to come to the point when the vision we have begins to be filled with darkness, discouragement and doubt. We try and control the art or the direction of the vision instead of surrendering and gazing at the One who gave us the vision in the first place. He is the one who will provide the leading, direction and guidance. This is what we can be grateful for and give Him the glory.

In a greater sense though, we have been given a Greater Story to tell. We have all been gifted in some creative way to share this Story. This Great Story has a similar theme as discussed above. Once I was filled with darkness, discouragement and doubt. There came a time I had to surrender my will and gaze on the one who saves. That one is Jesus Christ.

At the end of the day it was about the Gospel. The one lesson God has been teaching me this year is the importance of reminding yourself and others of the Gospel daily. I need to be reminded about the darkness and sin that was, the Savior who came, and the light and life He provided to me. It also reminds me that He now deserves all the Glory by offering my life to Him a living sacrifice. By doing this it reminds me the freedom I know have in Christ because of my surrender to Him. Likewise, we are to remind each other and encourage each other with this Good News.

As the fasten seatbelt light came on and the flight attendant announced were starting to descend, I awoke from a nap and looked out the window. You see, I enjoy sitting in the window seat of an airplane because I believe if I can at least see out the window I will be able to in some way control the plane. This is ridiculous, I know, but this is how I see it. In reality, though, I have no control. Once I enter that plane, I surrender my control to the pilot and trust Him completely. Once the wheels had touched down back in Florida, applause broke out in the cabin for a smooth landing, and as people passed by the pilot, they walked by and said thank you. In a much greater sense, that Day will come when our Lord Jesus Christ will receive all the Glory.

We all have been called to tell this Story.

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Family History

June 25, 2011

This past Christmas I created a book as a gift to my family. It is a collection of stories that were written by my great, great grandmother. She was born in Sweden and her family immigrated to America. There are amazing stories of how God worked in her life and the life of her family. I have made it available to the public for purchase online through blurb.com.
Below you should be able to preview a portion of the book.

Pleasant Portrayals of Paternal Purpose

June 21, 2011

This weekend I had the opportunity to see a showing of the movie adaptation of Mr. Popper’s Penguins. Yes, the book I remember reading as a kid is now in theaters. At first glance I was skeptical how they would piece together this children’s book about a man and a flock of penguins and make it successful story in a full-length movie.

Before I go too far, one thing I should share is that I have always liked penguins. I don’t remember exactly where it began or why it started but there was something about those birds. While I was watching the film it reminded me of thoughts I had as a kid of what it would be like if I really had a pet penguin.

Now there are many reasons to like these creatures but the one that has always stuck with me is their loyalty and devotion. According to Seaworld most penguin species are monogamous and the gentoos are known to re-pair with the same mate 90% of the time. Once there is an egg, the emperor penguins take turns with their mate caring for the egg until it hatches. I have always liked that penguins were so loyal and loving. This was demonstrated in someways as a underlying tenor throughout movie which I found interesting.

Back to Tom Popper who in the movie version of Popper’s Penguins is a successful businessman. He has grown up neglected by his own father and now is struggling to be a good father to his children. While many may look at this as just a children’s film with its slapstick comedy and penguin poo I thought there was something deeper underneath.

With certainty I can say that this movie was not the best story written, the best visual affects nor the best acting I have ever seen, but I sense that when art is created you can see beauty whenever there is truth displayed. I recently read a blog post by Sarah Clarkson where she said, “To dwell in an instant of beauty is to stumble into a pocket of eternity as it bubbles up in time.” Again, the movie on the surface may not be beautiful but I believe the underlying message had moments that shown brightly with beautiful truth.

Tom Popper was broken and desperately wanted to know the love of his father. He spent his whole life growing up with the uncertainty about his father’s love for him. He tried to be successful in his career maybe so he could garner his father’s attention. He struggled to be a good father and a good husband and much of his trouble seemed to be a result from this lack of knowledge that his father truly loved him. He had difficulty loving others because he did not really understand the love of his father.

At the conclusion of the movie there is a turning point where there is a realization of his fathers love and its results are shown throughout Tom Popper’s life as a dad, as a husband, and in his work.

Throughout time, I am sure there have been other similar story lines but I believe the reason why is we have a yearning to know that we are loved by somebody. We especially yearn for this love from a father.

Father’s day was this weekend and I am blessed to have a dad who loves me and who has displayed it throughout his life in his caring, loyalty, and his kindheartedness. Through his example, while not perfect, I have been better able to understand the love of my Heavenly Father who is perfect. The problem with many of us though is that we do not have that good earthly example of a love that is unconditional. So many out there are hurting because they their father left them, or have hurt them, or they are simply not there.

If that is you, I want you to know that there is a Heavenly Father who does loves you and wants you to know it. In the Bible it describes God as a father to the fatherless.  It also says that God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. It goes on to say that God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. I hope you see that God has spoken to you and desires a relationship with you but because of our sin it separates us from Him. The Bible says the wages of sin is death but the free gift of God is eternal life. Because of Christ and His sacrifice on the cross and victory over death we are now made right in front of a Holy God just as if we had never sinned. Since we are made right with God we can now have a personal intimate relationship with God. If this is something you have never considered I pray you consider it today.

For those of you who have humbled yourself and trusted Christ I want to remind you of the power of the Gospel. The Bible says, “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!” Remember this amazing love the Father has given us that He has provided a means so that we can have fellowship with Him. This love should be the motivating factor in all we do in our lives. Just as in the movie, once Popper realized the love of his father the results were clearly evident throughout his life. In the same way, the love we have been shown by God should be a reminder everyday and as such should impact our life every day as we love others.

Love Like A Glove…

February 22, 2010

As the old saying goes you can’t appreciate the sun without a little rain. Or some may put it you cant enjoy love without a little pain.

The same can be said about cold weather. You can’t enjoy the heat without feeling the cold. You cant enjoy the warmth without first experiencing the chill.

Lately, it has been down right frigid in Florida. Low temperatures have been getting down in the twenty’s at night and wind chills into the single digits. We even had a few snow flurries in the area this year! Not only that but it has been cold for an extended time frame. Usually it is here today and gone tomorrow, this time the cold weather has been here and has stayed here much longer then usual. I began to think about all of those people who live in the areas that normally expect it to be freezing like my wonderful family in Minneapolis.  They have an expectation that it’s going to be cold and it’s going to be that way for a long time! Well, at least until spring comes around again.

In Florida there is a stark contrast. It is true we get cold weather once in a while but maybe just for a night or two and come time for the weekend it will be 70 again and all is right with the world. We begin frolicking on the beaches without a care in the world forgetting our family in Minneapolis or if we do remember them we send them a picture from our phone to rub it in their face.

As I began to think more about it, I was struck with the thought that sometimes in life we are all like Floridians. All we know is heat and warmth and sunshine. Occasionally it gets a little chilly but we know right around the corner sunshine will greet us and all will be well on our sandy beaches. As Floridians, this is all we know (especially if you are a native like me). People who are not native to Florida tend to think I am crazy for wanting snow because they know the reality of living with it day in and day out.

The problem with Floridians is that we begin to forget how to feel. We grow complacent; we grow ignorant of what is really out there. Like a child who is protected most of there life without and any pain or without any punishment.  Once this child experiences pain it’s a shock to there system. What is the nickname that children typically have who do not experience pain or punishment? Yep, Spoiled.  As a Floridian we are spoiled with this glorious weather year round, while our lovely neighbors to the north become acclimated to the cold and firmly expect it to take hold until the thaw of spring and the warmth of summer arrive. The benefit to our friends and family in the north is that they celebrate like no other when the heat finally arrives. They know the blessing of feeling the warmth upon there skin that comes from the noonday sun in June. They anticipate it all winter long as they endure the prison of winter. In fact, many travel to Florida because they just can’t wait!

Meanwhile, in Florida, we are here living our lives day by day not really noticing anything, We feel warmth daily, sure once in a crazy while it gets cold but like I said before, the warmth returns just like a boomerang. The problem I have found is that we are spoiled and we don’t really know what it means to feel, to long, to anticipate the heat of summer.

The heat I refer to here can mean the weather environment we live in but as I begin to probe my thoughts more I couldn’t help but think about how the heat many times could be looked upon as love. The cold then could be looked upon as pain. Just think about the characteristics of each. Love is usually referred to as warm and embracing. While pain’s characteristics are more synonymous with the cold being described with words like bitter, distant, and harsh.

Returning to my early statements, it is difficult to truly experience or maybe a better word is to feel love without experiencing pain or struggle. If you have no experience of pain or struggle do we really know how to experience and appreciate what love is?

This and maybe this is the reason why there are hardships and difficulties in the world, maybe this is why God allows us to go through times of sorrow or times of grief. Maybe this is why there is winter, so that we may truly experience the anticipation of summer.

Throughout our lives we all desire something that is real and something true. A love that is faithful, genuine, and unconditional. We all long for this to the very core of our being. We search high and low trying to find this love.

Recently, I was out hiking with a few friends and their little boy. The little boy fell down onto some snow and his hands were covered with wet, cold snow. Immediately he began to cry and fuss over the pain and cold he was experiencing. He didn’t know how to solve the problem, all he knew was he was cold and desperately wanted warmth to return to his little hands. His father came over, lovingly kneeled down whipped of the snow and took out the little boys gloves. He blew a few warm breaths into the gloves and placed them on his hands.  After this we moved on and that the little boy was content and he may never remember that moment later in his life.

I can’t help but think that this provides us just a glimpse of what our Heavenly Father has done for us. We all have blown it, made mistakes and have not lived up to God’s standards. We all look for redemption somehow or by someway, or with someone only to be left cold again. Just as the earthly father provided a way for his little child to feel warmth again through his love, so to our Heavenly father has given us a Savior through His love.

Unfortunately though, sometimes we are like that little boy who received this love yet walks away and forgets the love of his father.  Sometimes we forget what our lives were like before grace, a life of sorrow, guilt, and an empty heart. With grace we have become healed, forgiven, and filled with joy.  There are many out there today who have been stuck in the cold, seeking the unconditional love of a Father. Share some warmth with them today. Share with them the Gospel, which brings new life from the bleakness of winter.

In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” 1 John 4:9-10

Stuck

January 20, 2010

The Princess On Her Bike...

So the other day, my five-year-old niece came home with her new bicycle! She had some Christmas money and picked it out all by herself! She was so excited to bring it home and try it out. About the same time, the weather outside was in the 40’s and the wind chill was even worse. Mind you this is in Florida! That didn’t stop this little girl, she was bound and determined to get outside on her new bike!

Her mother and I donned our jackets and gloves and headed outside with the bike and the little girl. The excitement continued to build as she put on her helmet and climbed up on top of the seat. As she started her first push of the pedal the bike began to move slowly but surely. The direction of the bike led her off the concrete porch into the front yard of grass. As she approached the drive way something unexpected happened. She got stuck; she wasn’t able to push the pedals hard enough to get the bike over the bump. She sat there trying her hardest. If you know anything about my niece, you know she will do everything in her power to do it herself before she will ask for help. To say she is strong willed would be accurate. She strained and yearned for every ounce of muscle she could muster up to try and get that bike moving again but to no avail. The bike wouldn’t budge. Then came the tears and the words I thought I would never hear, “Help Momma I am stuck!” Her loving mother came quickly and helped push her over the insurmountable hurdle. Then off she went in freedom.

As I looked back on this moment, I began to think about just how simple it is to trust in Jesus.
We all are stuck, it says in Romans that we all have sinned and fallen short of God’s standard. We also desire to be unstuck and have freedom but instead we are slaves to our predicament. We try everything in our power to save our selves from this problem. We attempt to be set free through good works to try and work our way out.; that doesn’t work. We try to ignore it by masking it with relationships or success or entertainment. Again, this results in the same thing and us getting stuck further and further in the hole we started in.

Only until we come to the point where we realize that in and of ourselves we have no way to get us out of this situation will we finally find the way to get free.  This is when we humble ourselves and acknowledge our need and dependence on God to save us. Just as my little niece tried everything she could to get going, she realized that only someone bigger and stronger then her would be able to help and she had to humble herself and ask her mother for help. Which for her is not an easy thing to do, nor is it an easy thing for us many times. We desperately want to try and find a way to do it ourselves. But alas, it comes down to us taking God at His Word.

Jesus said the following to His disciples in Matthew 18,

“At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” Jesus is telling us to humble ourselves like children who know they need help and call on His name!

Throughout the Bible are examples of God showing us that He will exult only those who humble themselves.

The popular verse in the old testament 2 Chronicles it says,

“if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

In the book of Luke, Jesus reinforces this truth by telling us the story of the religious leader and the tax collector:

“Then Jesus told this story to some who had great self-confidence and scorned everyone else: “Two men went to the Temple to pray. One was a Pharisee, and the other was a dishonest tax collector. The proud Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer: ‘I thank you, God, that I am not a sinner like everyone else, especially like that tax collector over there! For I never cheat, I don’t sin, I don’t commit adultery, I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income.’ “But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, ‘O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.’ I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. For the proud will be humbled, but the humble will be honored.””

Who in that story was more acceptable to God? It was the humble sinner who recognized his condition. God loves a contrite heart. He is looking for a heart that admits our faults and recognizes our dependence on a Savior alone for forgiveness.

So just as my little nice realized her need and called out for help, so to God is expecting the same from you.  In Romans it says, “for whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

The Cloak of Gaga – Part One

March 3, 2009

Yes folks, you read that right, the cloak of gaga. No, it’s not some silly riddle to tell kids. It is the truth that haunts all of our lives.

Have you ever met someone who you were astonished by? Who was able to captivate your heart and soul in a colossal way? Someone you thought was perfect, or at least close to perfect. Just the very thought of them had a hypnotic effect on you. Nothing, absolutely nothing they did or said could ever be wrong. Then. Either the next day or next week, or maybe even ten years in the future, you realize that you were completely and utterly wrong about those ideas or feelings. Somehow, someway, some indescribable power had over taken you. It had successfully covered the truth of who that person really was and how they really were. You my friend had fallen victim to the cloak. The cloak of gaga.

It has happened to us all. We find something, which at the time seems flawless, unblemished, dare I say immaculate, then discover that in fact there was something tarnished all along. How did you not see this? Why did it only become clear after the fact? You may say to yourself, “How could I have ever been so foolish!” Relax; we have all been there. That moment you realize the truth, the truth that was hidden all a long, by the cloak.

A cloak is defined simply as something that covers or conceals. In a sense it is a piece of clothing draped over you inhibiting your ability to see clearly the path set before you. There is actually a definition of “gaga”, the French actually used a similar term to describe an old fool. The definition I liked the best was when it was described as completely absorbed, infatuated or excited.

This cloak or this object that is concealing your vision is also a cloak of gaga, which says that you are not just distracted by the cloak but at the same time you are now infatuated. This pretense of sorts can come in different shapes, sizes, colors, fabrics, styles, some have lines, some have pokadots. Some are ugly, some are beautiful, some are dangerous, others safe, some are smelly, others are tasty. Regardless, they all have the same effect; they create a delusion of the truth. The cloak can be anything that gets in the way of you and your vision for what God is calling you to do. It creates a barrier between you and reality.

One of my favorite scriptures found in Hebrews 12, says this, “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Notice when it says , “let us lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us,” in the Kings James it says, “let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us. The two words here either in the NASB, Entangle, or the KJV, Beset come from the Greek word Euperistatos which means skillfully surrounding. So it tells us in essence to lay aside the sin which skillfully surrounds us and to instead turn our eyes away from that and to fix our eyes on Jesus.

This is a lot of time what sin does in our lives. We have the appearance that everything is great, that we are living on top of the world but what we fail to see is we have become enthralled by a vision created by our “cloak.” As I have begun to think this thought through, I have realized that this topic is much larger then I thought. It truly touches every part of our lives and affects our relationship with God. I will, in due time, begin to write of more specific examples that I have noticed in my life and in others lives, where the cloak of gaga has been evident.

Finally, I will leave you with a question, “What is it that we are holding onto that so skillfully surrounds us? What it is that seems like a wonderful thing but is really blinding us from the reality of the truth which God has for us.

It Doesn’t Take Much…

January 12, 2009

Last Thursday night the Florida Gator football team won the BCS National Championship game in Miami. Tim Tebow lead his Gators to victory over the Oklahoma Sooners in a game that was filled with ups and downs for each team. It is sure to be an instant classic on ESPN Classic and the memories will be remembered for a long time in Gainesville. I am also sure that because of this game, and the other acloades that preceded it,  Tim Tebow will go down as one of the greatest players in College Football history.

While all of this is true, I would like to mention what I think is the most impressive and exciting thing about that night.

In what was sure to be one of the most watched Football games of the year it wasn’t a big play, a great tackle , or a miraculous catch that caught my eye, it was a small subtile gesture. To some it may have seemed inconsequential but as we look closer, the impact may be larger then Tim may have ever expected.

tebow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You see, Tim wrote on his eye black the words “John” and “3:16”. And on every closeup and every replay you saw Tebow’s face and along with his face you saw his eye black with John 3:16 in High Definition.

So whats the big deal?

Having the blessing of spending a little bit of time with the Tebow family during time in New York when Tim won the Hiesman a year ago, I learned the main purpose of the Tebow family is not so much winning the football game ,but more importantly, sharing the message of the Gospel to the world. It was interesting to see the fall out the next day in the various newspaper articles and blog post over the eye black and the message that was sent. Some were positive some were negative, in either case, it made some waves. In fact, It was so impactful that as I began to read other articles, some shared that it was so popular that the term “John 3:16” was the #1 search term on Google the day of the National Championship game! At first I was skeptical but I did my research and as you can see in the following image, which is a screen shot of the top 100 searches on Google for January 8th, 2009, sure enough, “john 3 16” is the top search.

picture-41

 

It was also interesting that if you were to click on “john 3 16” it will show you a line graph for January 8th, 2009, and the level per hour. As you can see below once the game began around 8pm EST (5pm PST) there is a short spike, then around half time which is around 10pm EST (7pm PST) there is a max peak that occurs. This is referred to in Google’s terms as Volcanic! In other words, it became exteremly popular really quick.

picture-5

So what is the point to all of this. The reason I share these details to you is to show you that it really doesn’t take much. Sure Tim Tebow was playing in one of the biggest football games of his life, but he took a small moment and added a few letters to his eye black, it didnt take much. Even those small words written in silver pen on his face was enough to get thousands and thousands of people interested in what that meant. Interested enough to search it out on Google. What did they find?

John 3:16 – For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

For most Christians, this is well known and understood but for others it may have been the first time they read this verse.
Perhaps it may have been the first time they read that there is a God that loves them, a God that gave, in order that we may have eternal life. They may have read further in the next verse to see that God did not come into this world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved!

It may be the first time they have heard the Gospel and you know what, it really didn’t take much. Remember in our own lives, as we speak with others and serve others, that it doesn’t take much.  The Gospel is simple. And as we saw with Tim, it doesn’t take much to share it with others.

Favorite Things

January 4, 2009

The other night the movie “The Sound of Music” was playing on TV. As I watched I was intrigued when the song “My Favorite Things” came on and it caused me to ask myself the obvious question, “What are some of my favorite things?” While my favorite things are not raindrops on roses nor whiskers on kittens, the following list will show you a few of mine. Enjoy!

 

Walking in the woods during Fall. (sometimes donning an orange vest at the same time, but not always necessary)

Watching the snow fall. (preferably while I am not driving)

Driving down an open road with a full tank of gas. (perhaps the windows down and a good music playing)

Chicago Style Pizza. (Thin crust is for wimps)

Looking up at a dark sky and being amazed at the number of stars in the sky (then trying to watch for a shooting star)



A well crafted, well written and presented song.

The sound of a mandolin being strummed by a pro.

My grandma’s applesauce

Molasses cookies



Sweet Barbeque sauce on almost anything…

and speaking of sweet…

Sweet little hugs and kisses from my sweet and little niece!

Talking with a good friend about life for hours on end  (and even into the morning)




 

…these are just a few of my favorite things, what about you? Share with me a few of yours!



The Oratorio…

March 22, 2008

According to wikipedia, an Oratorio is “a large musical composition including an orchestra, a choir, and soloists”. Little did I know that attending an Oratorio would give me a picture into what the body of Christ should really look like.

In recent weeks I have had discussions with some friends about the differences in the body of Christ as far as it comes to different types of worship or different denominations. Controversy lurks in every corner of these discussions and unfortunately it is never resolved or concluded. At least not in my head.

Some may say there other Christians who are too emotional and lack the doctrine, while some may say others have plenty doctrine but they lack any emotion. In both these cases, I would probably agree and I would agree that in most cases, there are also extremes.

I will ask, is one better then the other? or is there room for both?

The answer lies in an Oratorio called “Handel’s Messiah“. One of the most famous masterpieces created by George Frideric Handel in 1741. I had the privilege of attending a performance of Handel’s Messiah on Good Friday (which I have thought would make a great tradition during the Easter festivities.) I am sure I had heard bits and pieces of this before but never attended a proper performance of this great oratorio.

The amazing thing about this piece of art, was that it included two dynamics that came together to portray the Gospel in its proper light. The words used in Messiah are all taken from the Bible and represent the complete doctrine of the Gospel. The music that frames these words are used to convey the emotions that this wonderful doctrine of the Gospel produces when taken to heart. The combination of the words (doctrine) and the music (emotion) are a beautiful picture of what we as the Body of Christ should look like.

Many times we are quick to learn doctrine and pretend there is no emotion that is created. or we try and manufacture emotion based upon false or whimsical doctrine. In either case you are going to hurt the entire message of the Gospel.

There is a truth (doctrine) that there is a God, and that this God loved us so much, that he has provided a way, through Christ, that we may have salvation from our sins which produces in us a joy that is overwhelming (emotion).

Remember that there should be a balance because too much doctrine can begin to complicate the simple message of grace and that too much emotion and create watered down feelings that are not supported by the Word of God.

The other thing I took away from this oratorio was the members of the orchestra, the choir, and the soloists. It is such a beautiful picture of how we all work together as the Body of Christ to present this message of the Gospel, through our message (doctrine) and through our love (emotion). We all have certain gifts and roles to play. Some are the soloists who preach and teach every Sunday, or those who share the Gospel with a friend for the first time. Others are in the choir, who volunteer in children’s ministry, or at the thrift shop, or provide financial support. Then there are others who may be in the orchestra all with different instruments and skills, what ever that may be. Watchman Nee said in his book The Body of Christ the following,
How do I live as a member of the body of Christ? The body must be taken as the unit and boundary of all my works and living. In the physical realm, when my hand works, it is not my hand but my body which works; when my feet walk, it is not my feet but my body which walks. A physical member never does anything for its own self; whatever it does is for the sake of the body. So too is this true in the spiritual realm. All the actions of a member of the body of Christ are governed by the body of Christ, not by the individual member himself. Whether God puts me in first or in last place, it is equally acceptable with me. For only the one who does not see, know, and experience the body of Christ will be proud or jealous.”

In Romans 12:3-8, it says,
For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.  Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, {each of us is to exercise them accordingly:} if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith;  if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching;  or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.

In Conclusion, every time you listen to Handel’s Messiah, I hope you remember that first, there is a wonderful Gospel message and second, realize all of the various numbers of people that it takes to portray that message to you both in words (doctrine) and its music (emotion). We can only truly present the Gospel when we have both the Truth from the Word of God and display the Love that was shown by our Savior Jesus Christ.
PS: One of my favorite choruses of was based upon 1 Corinthians 15:21-22 and I have a version posted on here from You Tube. I have also posted the words below. Enjoy!

Since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.
For as in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive.

Let it Snow…Let it Snow…

January 12, 2008

Recently I saw a news article about snow falling in Baghdad. It was the first time they had seen snow in that city in at least a hundred years. For many of the people in that city they viewed it as a sign of peace and rebirth for them.

Before I go on, I must state upfront that I am a native Floridian who has never had to live, work, and drive in snow. With that said, I can now say unashamedly that snow is an mesmerizing to me. Since I have not had to live in the stuff, I really find it amazing. I suppose its a lot like how many people who live in Florida never go to the beach or disregard it while others who come down here find it amazing! Like I always say a change in perspective can change your objective.

For me its always rain, rain and more rain. But there comes a time when the temperature is just right when this rain becomes something much more special. As the temperature changes the drops of rain begin to change over into flakes all which look different then the other. The leaves begin to drop from the trees in Autumn covering the ground and in a sense they die. Most of the plants begin the process of dying by changing there colors. Even this process is unique and breath taking.

Then comes the first snow quiet and peaceful, then the second and it begins to accumulate and cover over all that which has died. Soon enough everything is covered in a white blanket that wont be uncovered until spring.

Once spring arrives, the temperature begins to rise, and the snow begins to melt and in its place life begins a new and fresh.

This to me creates a few parallels of a beautiful reminder of what Jesus Christ has done for us. The first is found in Isaiah it is talking to the Israelites about what would happen if they repent, in the first chapter and verse 18, it says ,“Though your sins are as scarlet, They will be as white as snow…

And just as the snow gives way to new life in the spring, Jesus is in the business of making you New Again. The thing we need to remember is that before there can be a rebirth of life, something must die.

In Colossians 1:21-22 it says; “and although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, {engaged} in evil deeds, yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body though death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach

Because of what Christ has done you can be made New Again.

Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer. Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold new things have come. Now all of these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, to be reconciled to God. He made Him who knew no sins to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. 2 Corinthians 5:16-21