Archives For Creativity

Jesus-Language

Photo by Eran Menashri on Unsplash.

In the breadth of Scripture, there are many ways God reveals Himself, each accompanied by a distinct name. These names each carry a revelation of the nature and essence of the Godhead. YHWH, Jehovah Raffa, Elohim.

While each name is potent and deserving of awe, the name has taken on significant meaning for me personally is given to Jesus, “The Word made Flesh” (Jn. 1:14). Jesus is the Word. He is the perfect utterance of the Father to all creation. Everything and anything that needs to be announced about God is articulated in the person of Jesus. He is the essence of all language, and knows how to speak intimately in our native tongue.

A few weeks ago, I was speaking at Vinelife – the local church I have the privilege of serving. We’ve been going through the book of Acts, passage by passage, and exploring the in-breaking of the power of Jesus in the lives of ordinary men and women. It’s a powerful narrative of what happened when Jesus left and the Holy Spirit came. The centerpiece of the book of Acts comes quickly in chapter two when the disciples, who were waiting and praying patiently in the upper room were dramatically blessed with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost.

On this particular week, while I was recounting this passage, something happened that I didn’t expect. I was moved so deeply, I began to sob. I tried to pull it together, but to no avail. I had to stop speaking and drop to my knees. It took a good 2-3 minutes to regain composure. I can’t quite explain what happened, except to say, I was overwhelmed by the God who knows the language of our hearts.

I’ve read Acts 2 dozens of times in my life. It’s a cornerstone of the faith, especially for those in charismatic traditions. But as I sat with the text again, I noticed something in a new way. As the Spirit of God was poured out, one of the first signs was “tongues of fire” resting on the heads of the disciples. They stumbled like drunken men out of the upper room out into the streets.  We know that thousands of world travelers had descended upon Jerusalem to observe Passover. The story continues that the disciples began to speak in tongues, and as they did, men and women from other nations began to hear them speak in their own language.

I’ve always understood that speaking in tongues was supernatural.  So I thought the main thrust of this passage had to do with a cool, new comic-book like superpower the disciples could now do by the power of the Holy Spirit. “Wow…do you hear that? Thomas is speaking perfect Spanish. That’s amazing, because he flunked Spanish in high school. Praise God. Miracles DO happen!”

That interpretation may be respectable, but I believe it misses the point. The power of this story has less to do with a new ability the disciples acquired. Rather, it points to the fact that there was someone in the crowd hearing their own language while they were far from home.

Why is this important? This was the first manifestation we read about as the Spirit of God was poured out in a brand new way. It’s as if God wanted the men and women of different nations to know “I know your language. I know the unique expression of your heart.” This was a sign that the heart of God has never been for us to get smart enough, behave well enough, or learn another language in order to relate to him. He loves us enough to show up precisely in our experience of the world. He learns our language and meets us there. He’s the Word made flesh.

Why is this good news? Because the language we speak is our best attempt to make sense of our reality. Language is intimate and fragile. It’s powerful yet incompetent. Think about it. All we have is a collage of nouns and verbs and question marks and semicolons to help us communicate cosmic realities. And I’m not just referring just to English and French and Mandarin Chinese. We each have a limited language that flows from our hearts and mouths to describe what really matters to us. All of our vocabularies are custom-tailored to our unique perspective. How amazing is it that the Holy Spirit knows every language?

As a pastor, I talk to so many people that feel misunderstood. They feel like God doesn’t know them. Much of this narrative is formed because their experience with church people leaves them feeling like they have to learn a new language just to be a part. They feel estranged because they don’t connect with the same music, or expression, or ways of describing the world. And new languages are often really hard to learn, so most of us throw in the towel before we get too far into the journey. There are so many people who have given up on God because they’ve been told they have to meet God where He is.

What we read in Acts 2 seems to be the opposite of that. God in Christ loves us enough to get into our skin. He eats our food, enjoys our music, walks our roads, and speaks the way we do. Yes, a life surrendered to Jesus will always lead to change and transformation. But the starting point is the revelation that the Word made flesh meets us right where we are, in the language of our hearts, and invites us to dine with him.

I know that God uses us despite our weaknesses, but what if he uses us because of our weaknesses?

A few nights ago, I drew a picture.

My family was together in the living room looking for something to do. Megan thought it would be fun for each of us to draw a picture as a gift for someone else in the family. We each took a minute to ask God for a picture and then we’d draw what we see. I decided to draw something for my daughter, Amelie. So I prayed and the picture that came to mind had to do with angels, and pools, and water. Each image was a few steps removed from the basic shapes in my wheelhouse. I wanted to skip the drawing and just write a letter or preach a sermon about what I saw. Instead, I self-consciously had to work it out on paper. The final product is about what you’d expect from a guy wielding colored pencils for the first time since art class in high school.

I started to wonder if this art experiment had any real value since it didn’t appear to be great.

Continue Reading…

A new year is upon us. Whether you’re a resolutions person or not, I’ll bet you’re making some adjustments in your life.

As I’ve spent time over the last few weeks praying and looking forward, I noticed a theme with most of my goals. Many of them had to do with recovering attention and the ability to be present.

Like many, I’ve noticed myself being caught in the onslought of attention deficit. All of my disposable attention was being held captive by the news cycle and a wide swath of social media connectivity. I realized A.D.D. isn’t just a condition for a few, but cultural epidemic that plagues many.

Even the over-consumption of good, helpful, insightful articles and posts from trusted spiritual leaders led me to feeling overwhelmed. I noticed an increase of anxiety, fear of missing out (F.O.M.O), and the disappearance of the space needed to listen, pray, and create.

In order to recover the abililty to listen, be attentive to the people who matter most, and order my days with creative intentionality, I’ve known this has needed to change. I’ve needed to identify the “bad news” I’ve believed (ie. to be “out of the loop” is to be less valauble). Also, I’ve needed the right combination of adjustments that wouldn’t just be a pendulum swing reaction, but a intentional harnessing of the culture I live in.

This is not a new message, but it is still a relevant one.

What if we were able to move from an attention deficit to an attention surplus?

Here’s what I’m going to try this year…

Continue Reading…

You were created for a life of significance. It’s true.

In church world we talk a lot about this. We spend a lot of time celebrating “God’s plans” for our lives and encourage each other to do great things for God. As we tap into our creative purpose in the kingdom of God, we push each other to be people of big faith and bold dreams. This is not rooted in selfish ambition, but part of understanding that Jesus invited us to be a part of his restorative work on earth. We haven’t been sidelined, but are joyful participants in the story of God.

So what then are we to do with the mundane moments – the moments, days, weeks, and months where it doesn’t quite feel as exciting as the way we talk when we’re together?

Photo by Mikael Kristenson. Unsplash.

Photo by Mikael Kristenson. Unsplash.

For instance – today. On Mondays and Tuesdays, I stay home with my two boys who are 5 and 2 while my wife works. Today, I will change some diapers, make grilled cheese, shuttle the boys around on errands, and mow the lawn during nap time. Don’t get me wrong – these are all things I like doing. But maybe you’re like me. Sometimes its hard to know what to do with days that are average, slow, and ordinary. Especially coming off of Sunday where I’m usually encouraging hundreds of people to live a life of significance.

Often times, I see the super-creative, “dreaming with God” conversations cause just as much anxiety as it does hope. It’s easy for us to feel like our Mondays are inconsequential. I wonder if there’s something we need to re-think.

Continue Reading…

Fatherly Blessings

March 5, 2015 — Leave a comment

This post was originally written for my friends at the ONE PROJECT.

On April 14th, 1983 my parents were at home in Ft. Wayne, IN singing and playing their guitars. As recently converted hippie rockers, this was not an unusual way for them to spend their downtime. Most nights they were exploring their relatively new-found faith in Christ together by making music and finding their lyrics in the Scriptures. On this particular night, my dad found inspiration from the prophet Isaiah – a great book to accompany any psychedelic inclinations.

As my mom went to bed, my dad found himself in Isaiah 40 and started writing a song about what we know as the coming of Jesus and the call of John the Baptist to prepare the way for the Messiah. He penned the words to a brand new song called “Clear the Way.”

“Clear the way for the Lord, clear the way
In the wilderness, clear the way
Make straight in the desert a highway for God
In the wilderness, clear the way”

While the ink was drying on his lyrics, my mom who had been sleeping, woke up in intense pain and notified my dad that the baby was coming. A few hours later, I was born.

“Hi, there.”

As I grew up, my parents would remind me of that story, and that in some way they believed that God wanted me to know that similar to John the Baptist, I was called to be a person that would make way for Jesus in this world. It’s a story I’ve always held close. While my dad had no way of knowing that I would enter the world on the same night he stumbled into a new song, my parents would very intentionally retell me this story so I would know this was a generational blessing from them to me. Continue Reading…

Image Courtesy of Lightstock.

Image Courtesy of Lightstock.

A recap from my breakfast musings with Jarrod. (Disclaimer: It didn’t sound this good when we were talking)

Too often we spend our days endlessly searching for “our true selves”. Always looking to express our unique voice and extract a deep sense of meaning from our labor and relationships. While the exploration of our deepest identity is a critical part of our lives, the Christ follower derives motivation from a different place. Rather than begining and ending every day with the act of searching and finding, we rest in the thought that we’ve already been sought out and found. If the King of the universe has already done the exploratory work and fully found me, then what am I still trying to find in myself?

The pursuit of ourselves leads to anxiety and restlessness.

Yet somehow, in the pursuit of Christ, we not only get the fullness of Him, but we are in a roundabout way re-introduced to our real selves because we are completely known in Him.

“We think too much and feel too little. More than machinery, we need humanity; more than cleverness, we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost.”

– Charles Chaplin

We Need Humanity

Several months ago, our dear friend Shannon Kaple blessed us with a newborn photography session.  She came to our house and took hundreds of photos with our family and newly adopted Asher.  Everything she captured was amazing, but in my opinion, this photo is in a category of its own.

I knew that having kids and raising a family would be an unbelievable experience.  But I didn’t realize how deeply I would be moved to see my boys love each other too.  When I saw this photo for the first time I cried.  I still cry. It’s almost as if my love for them is reciprocated in their love for each other.  I didn’t see that coming.  I’m guessing this is how the Father feels when we love each other the way He loves us.

No doubt, this photo will embarrass them when they are 12 and 15.  But for now, Megan and I enjoy in having a huge print of this blown up on canvas and mounted in our kitchen.

Again, I want to say a huge (overdue) thanks to Shannon.  If you’re in the market for newborn photography or a family lifestyle shoot, Shannon is the best.  Check her out her website and portfolio.

Below, are a few more from the shoot…

Family2Family3 Family4 Family5 Family6 Family8 Photos by Shannon Kaple Photography.
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Photo by Josh Elliot, LightStock.

Last week, I handed over my rights to the title “twenty something”. Gotta be honest — it was hard to let go, but more than ever I feel ready to charge into a new decade.

The best part is — I get to start my 30’s with an exciting story unfolding right in front of my eyes. Recently, I shared the news that my family will be adopting a baby boy sometime near the end of this month. As we’ve spread the word, we’ve been so encouraged by the support, prayers, and genuine excitement coming from all of you.  It all feels like unknown territory to us, which is both exciting and nerve-racking.  All together, we can’t shake the sense that we’re in one of the most important seasons of our lives!

More than ever, this season has shown us that who we are is primarily a reflection of the people in our lives.  We spent the last week attending birthday parties, hospitals, funerals, and baby showers — all reminders that in the important times of life, the people around you matter.  Megan and I have both been stunned and humbled by who we get to call friends and family. 

A few months ago, my friend John encouraged a bunch of us to dream bigger.  He said, “If your dreams don’t include the people around you then you’ll be alone in your victories and defeats.” The truth is — dreams are best lived out in the context of community.

Today, I am struck by the fact that I get to start my 30’s with my most important dream to date. I get to bring a little baby boy into my family and love him as my own. I get to come alongside a beautiful young mother and help her take steps towards a restored future. I get to do all of this with Megan – my amazing wife and best friend.  I get to do this WITH a community of friends and family that have joined us on the journey.

Now, we want to invite you to be a part of this dream in another way…

When we started this journey, we quickly discovered that adoption costs much more than having a child naturally.  While we have applied for grants and have explored governmental resources, the speed at which our adoption is taking place is creating a challenge in securing the resources and allowing us to be eligible for some adoption grants.

Up to this point, I’ve been hesitant in making a public appeal for adoption support. I’ve had a concern that some would see this as just another cause or special project. This story is intimate for us and I didn’t want to cheapen it by inviting people to “like” it on Facebook.

But as we’ve come closer to the reality of this adoption, my mind has changed. While I never want my son to feel like he was just a “cause”, I DO want him to know there is a community of people around us who believe in him and his bright future. I want him to know from day one that he is not alone. Not only will he have a family, but he’ll have loads of friends, fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, encouragers, counselors, and cheerleaders to be with him in every step of his own life journey.

We want him to know that life is best lived in loving community.  I can’t think of a better way to model this for him.

With that said, we’ve recently partnered with a wonderful organization called Adopt Together, which creates an online hub for friends and family to come alongside and financially support adoptive families.  On this site, you can give tax-deductible donations to help fund adoption. Hundreds of adoptive families are working with Adopt Together, and we’re honored to join with them.

Please consider visiting our profile and being a part of the story with us.  Regardless of whether or not you make a contribution, we want to thank you for being in our lives, praying for us along the way, and believing in our new little boy!

Adopt Together

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We’re excited to announce that sometime in the next few weeks we will be adopting a brand new baby boy into our family!

It’s a journey we’ve been on for a year, but have kept quiet from public conversation until now. Many of our closest friends and family have been with us in this process, but we are excited to bring the story to you now! I’ll do my best to keep it short.

Even before Megan and I were married, we talked about adoption. We didn’t know when or where or how, but we knew it was important to us for several different reasons.

We believe one of the greatest epidemics of our time is fatherlessness. The statistics are staggering and affect almost every sphere of life from crime, to education, to homelessness, to abuse. We’re living in a day where it’s impossible to ignore certain realities. The world is small and it’s no longer and option for us to “mind our own business”. We know adoption is not for every family, but we decided it’s for us.

And more recently, this journey has been a reflection of our season with the Lord. As a family, and even within the Vinelife community, God has been teaching us about His heart as Father, our identity as His sons and daughters, and His desire for family. There is an unmistakable emphasis in Scripture about these things…

“God sets the lonely in families…” – Psalm 68:6

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress…” – James 1:27

“The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” – Romans 8:15

All that to say, we feel like this has been less of a decision and more of a response to the unrelenting love of the Father. We count ourselves blessed to be adopted into the family of God. What we’re doing is not a charitable act. In fact, we feel like we’re on the receiving end of this deal.

As we started exploring adoption, some dear friends of ours encouraged to pursue an “Open Adoption” rather than a closed one. First, this would allow us to maintain relationship with the birth parents and be a blessing to them. Secondly, we felt an open adoption would be better for the child as he grows older. He would know us as his Mommy and Daddy, but he would still have a relationship with his “Tummy Mommy”. We felt like this was a better option for developing trust than “breaking the news” to him later on in his adolescence.

Last May, we submitted our first applications to an adoption agency in Oklahoma and one here locally. This is also when we created our first “Life Book”. A Life Book is essentially a photo album about our family – who we are, how we have fun, what we do for holidays, etc. This book was loaned out to different birth mothers as they were considering placing their baby with an adoptive family. Being an open adoption, the birth mother would be able to pick the family they most connected with based on the Life Book.

Most of last year went by and we hadn’t heard anything promising from either agency. This entire time we were trusting in the leading and timing of the Father despite all of the unknowns. We decided to continue on with our Home Study – the process by which the state determines a family is fit to parent a child. We started our Home Study at the beginning of this year and officially finished it in the middle of March.

Within days of the Home Study being finalized, we received a call from the agency here in Colorado and were informed that a birth mother had come in and was going to look at our book. This news was crazy exciting for us, but we we’re still unbelievably nervous. All the sudden, we were asking question like…

What if we don’t get picked?
What if she doesn’t like our book?
What if she thinks we’re nuts?

The good news is – we we’re chosen to be the adoptive family!

On March 23rd, we had the privilege of meeting the birth parents for the first time over lunch at Gunther Tooty’s. As we sat down, the conversation was natural and fun with just a few nervous chuckles coming from the weight of the circumstance. It was clear that we were all in uncharted waters. None of us had any grid for this experience. We had never adopted a random child, and they had never given a child to a random family. Fortunately, by the end of our first visit, nothing seemed too random. It felt right. And there seemed to be grace for all of us first-timers to journey together through our first adoption.

We asked them why they decided to pick us, and the quickly replied with one word.

“Noah”

They explained how when they saw the photos of Noah in the Life Book, their eyes teared up as they imagined another baby boy with us. They knew we would be a safe and loving family.

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First photo taken on April 9th, 2013.

Gabrielle, the birth mother, is a beautiful, smart, and brave woman. I’ve been so proud of her as she has walked through a difficult scenario with courage. She hopes to enroll at the Denver Art Institute and finish out a degree in fashion design or another art study. She has a sweet personality and a sharp mind. Megan and I are honored to parent Gabrielle’s baby and will continue to build a friendship her and her family.

Gabrielle is due on April 30th, and Megan and I have been invited to be with her in the hospital during the delivery. We get to be there the moment our son takes his first breath! Wow.

Over the last several months, as I’ve used this space to encourage my friends to dream big and be filled with bold faith, this has been the story playing out behind the scenes. This adoption is a dream given to us by the Father and we are humbled to be able to walk this out with amazing friends, family, and a community of people cheering us on.

Megan and I want to thank you in advance for all of your prayers and encouragement over the next several weeks and for the next season of our family. We would ask that you continue to pray for Gabrielle and the baby. Pray for grace, strength, and a great delivery. Pray for the hearts of their family as they navigate through the emotional implications of this decision.

Also, please pray for wisdom and provision on our end.  Over the next several weeks, we will be continuing to apply for grants to subsidize the cost of adoption.  We will be inviting our friends and family to join us in this unfolding story.

If you would like to join us in this adventure, you can contribute to our journey on AdoptTogether.org/humbrecht.