Posts Tagged ‘gospel’

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.


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.