Archives For Creativity

Somewhere along the line we were fed the lie that failure would be the end of us.

This is why there are more half-written books in the world than there are published ones. It’s why there are hundreds of thousands of people stuck in miserable jobs. It’s why that song of yours is never quite finished. It’s why there never seems to be a “right time” for your small business or non-profit to be launched.

Because over all these ideas is that looming question – What if it doesn’t work?

Creativity Failure

You want to create, but what if you fail?

One of my life mantras was born out of statement made by Erwin McManus in an interview I read. He said, “Unfortunately, many churches are so afraid of making mistakes that they don’t; that’s why the creative process dies. Creativity and failure are twins.”

Continue Reading…

At heart, I’m a full out geek. I like technology…sometimes too much. I need to warn you from the beginning, that this post is a bit “techy”. If that’s not you, feel free to swiftly close this window and get back to your day. :)

Recently, I posted some thoughts on the importance of writing.  Whether you consider yourself a “writer” or not is irrelevant.  Nearly every expression of creativity starts with getting our thoughts out of our brain and on to paper. Or as Dawson Trotman says, “letting your thoughts pass through your lips and fingertips”.  We all have things in our gut that we need to let out. And when we do it’s important we have the right tools on hand.

Photo from the Library of Congress.

Photo from the Library of Congress.

When writing, I’ve found there are times when the mojo is just there.  I sit down and can’t write fast enough to capture everything my heart is singing about.

But more often are the times where I’ll stare desperately at the blinking cursor not remembering how it is that sentences are formed.  These are the times that can lead to frustration and the occasional questioning of the purpose of life. In these moments, the last thing I want to do is write, so I’ll distract myself with ANYTHING I can possibly justify.  My eyes will constantly wander to new email notifications and social media icons. Even with other applications closed, I waste time changing fonts, sizes, and margins of the document I am working in.

Sound crazy?  I’m hoping you know what I’m talking about.

Continue Reading…

There are some of us who search desperately to discover what we were born for.

And then there are some who know, but just need a little time.

This kid is one of them.

You’re welcome.

What were you born for?

Credit: Relevant

It has been a few months since I re-launched this little web space as a place to write and share more publicly. That decision came with loads of internal hesitation, doubt, and uncertainty for a few reasons…

  • The last thing I wanted was for my words to add noise to a world that is already too loud.
  • I despise the words “blog” and “blogger”. They just don’t sound right.  Ya know what I mean?
  • I had to wrestle down the question – Do I really have that many interesting things to say?
Photo courtesy of abcdz2000, Creative Commons.

Photo courtesy of abcdz2000, Creative Commons.

However, as I sifted through the pros and cons of a starting a blog, I’ve found the pros came out on top.  There’s a good chance you might be wrestling with this yourself. The truth is – Blogging may not be for you, but I believe there are several great reasons for you to start writing, journaling, and capturing words as you journey forward.

So, here are a few things I’ve found… Continue Reading…

The following is a guest post by a dear friend of mine, Ramin Razavi.  Ramin is one of my favorite teachers on the planet, has the coolest clothes, and is a genuine man of God. I’d highly suggest you follow @RaminRazavi on Twitter for regular nuggets of living and learning.

Have you ever slept under the stars? Not just “outside” but really under the stars. No tent, just you and what NASA believes to be 100 billion of the nearest celestial bodies that make up our galactic neighborhood called the Milky Way. If you are aiming to sleep under the stars I’d recommend starting in Moab. The clear desert sky makes the interstellar lights seem just an arms length away.

Photo by WiserBailey, Creative Commons.

Photo by WiserBailey, Creative Commons.

That is where I started, almost. Alex and I had just ridden the White Rim trail: 108 miles, 9 hours, 3 liters of water, 11 energy gels, 5 nectarines, and 3 peanut toffee Cliff Bars later we were done. We had gone big and although we had forgotten our map in the truck, we navigated through the painted landscapes of Canyon Lands National Park. We were dancing with a creation that made us feel very, very small.

It was a thrilling adventure and one we shared with our friends. Our expedition also included Donnie, David and Nko who had climbed the sheer rock face of Castleton tower. Together, with two hang glider pilots, we had played hard in the desert and were ready to eat the bubbling red chili that simmered slowly over the glowing fire. After trading tales, inhaling steaming chili and enjoying the refreshment of cold drinks we were ready to sleep.

When it came time for bed each of us went our own way. Alex back to his black Toyota with the ever faithful adventure dog Molly. Me to my 1995 red 4runner and the glider pilots back to their marvelous blue tent. Our alpine oriented friends simply rolled out their pads and zipped up their bags with only the sky as a canopy above them.

As I willed my aching body into the back of my 4runner, Donnie kindly asked me why I didn’t sleep outside. “Mountain lions and snakes,” I mumbled as I slid into the relative safety of my truck. He smiled knowingly, the kind of smile you get from a brother of 10 years who knows you’re just plain scared. I slept like a rock and awoke to find everyone in tact, no blood splattered remains from a fresh lion kill nor mummified friends poisoned by an angry desert rattlesnake.

They survived. Maybe I’d survive if I slept outside? Since that trip I’ve been to Moab four more times, the closest I got to the stars was through the ripstop nylon walls of my North Face tent. I’m still scared of the lions and snakes. To my credit, I did start one night outside only to feel the creeping suspicion that I was not safe. I crawled back into the protected domain of my 2 lb 4 oz North Face tent, pulled up my zipper (all the way closed) and drifted to sleep.

Safety is a perceived reality isn’t it?

Last time I checked 200 pounds of highly evolved cougar could peel back nylon without much more than a flick of one of his 4 inch long razor sharp claws. I encountered a cougar once near my home in Colorado. Pure power, whisper silent, lightening fast and a stare that will chill you for months.

So what was it about the tent that made me feel safe? I think it’s the walls.

We feel safe when we know the boundaries around us.

Having served as a pastor for ten years now I am realizing that this is how we often function in our relationship with God. Specifically as it pertains to dreaming with God and moving in the creative streams. We are told that we can create and dream as long as we stay within the walls of tradition and keep our offerings accessible to the masses. We are reminded that it will go well for us when we respect boundaries. It is though creativity is accepted as long as when you bring your gift, it works seamlessly within the presumed paradigm of an ecclesiological or theological framework. It is almost as though the message is, “You are free to create, just please don’t crack anything, or anyone, wide open!”

Let’s be honest, safety and captivity aren’t all that different.

Creating and dreaming in this environment never allows us to be fully exposed to God and the infinite beauty and worth of knowing Him. Exposing ourselves to God in honesty is the first step to having our lives shaped by the reality of WHO God really is, not simply who we imagine Him to be. I believe that it is exposure to God, in all of His Mystery and Glory that expands our creative lens enough to see new possibilities, craft fresh expressions and actually become voices, calling out the wonders of God, not merely echoes of what we already see being done.

The prophet Habakkuk was compelled to seek God in this way. He voiced his feelings to God in the middle of a bewildering circumstance. At this time in Israel’s history God was doing something that seemed to make no sense at all. Rather than ducking under the cover of pat answers and bumper sticker theology he dared to boldly voice his questions and complaints to God.

“God you are from eternity aren’t you? God you can’t be serious? Why don’t you do something about this? Why are you silent now?” (Hab.1.12-13)

I don’t think a day passes that many of us don’t carry these same thoughts towards God. Habakkuk just had the guts to voice them.

What is so powerful is that it was in response to those bold questions that God spoke! God really spoke! God revealed Himself in such a profound way that the prophet affirmed the goodness of God in the past, prayed for it to be renewed in His day and wrote these words of transcendent, God exalting worship that have been life to God worshippers for thousands of years:

“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.” (Hab. 3.17-18)

Habakkuk began where we all begin, with our puzzled prayers and clouded understanding. Habakkuk was willing to stand under the stars, exposed to the reality of God. Before too long, from the lookout tower of his questions, He was given a fresh glimpse of God. God gave his heart strength. God put a new song in his mouth giving voice to all of us, beckoning all of us who would dare to ask these questions to believe that God’s rule will prevail and His love will endure forever.

As Habakkuk asked his big questions he tells us that he braced for the worst. But when God came, God came in Love. He always comes in Love. You can ask Him something today that you don’t know the answer to. Seek him with all your heart FROM your place of questions and uncertainty. Just make sure you have something to write with because His revelation will come. It may seem slow in it’s coming but trust God, what you need is on the way. God will arrive right on time and the experience will give you a fresh revelation to run with. Craft it into a song, a story, a message or a painting. Carry it to the people of God pointing the way back to Him.

In a recent post, I shared about the unfolding story of our friend Thiago Netto in Brazil. Last week, while we was recording his very first album in San Jose, Costa Rica, I was able to catch up with Thiago over Skype. I decided to record the conversation so I can share with you and others who are tracking with this story.

In this video, Thiago speaks thanks everyone who helped bring this dream to life. Also, he offers a word of encouragement to anyone who is still waiting for a dream to become a reality.  Great stuff!

I love a couple things he says…

  • “If God spoke to you, He will make true on His promises.”
  • “[While waiting to see your dreams fulfilled]…Don’t try to help God.  He can do everything.

Scheming to Be Generous

February 5, 2013 — 2 Comments

RE-POST: This entry was from my old blog.  There have been some great updates to this story since then, so I thought modify it and share it again.

Few things in life are as fun as scheming to be generous.  I have to admit, most days I find myself introspective – thinking about MY life, MY ambitions, MY story, etc… It’s easy to do when we live in therapeutic, self-improvement culture.  There is nothing wrong with self-improvement.  But there is a deeper joy found in improving someone else’s life, ambition, & story.

This very week is a continuation of one of those stories.  Here is some context…

Thiago's Sound

In 2011, a group of us went to Brazil to hold a Resound Conference in Rio De Janeiro.  While there, one of the first people we met was a guy named Thiago.  Thiago leads worship at his Church, has a heart of gold, and is one of the kindest people you will ever meet.  One evening he showed us some songs he had written and recorded on his cell phone.  We casually asked when he was going to record them.  He responded “It is my dream, but this will never happen. I do not have the money to allow this to happen.” Continue Reading…

You remember the days when using a phone was actual work?  To make a call you had to literally turn a metal wheel by dragging your finger in circles.  There was only one ring tone…Loud. The phone wasn’t vibrating, tweeting, or reminding you of anything you’ve missed.  You couldn’t check your email, stock prices, or take photos.

Rotary Phone

Photo by Clemson, Creative Commons.

Now we scoff at those days wondering how we ever coped with such primitive technology. Sure, it wasn’t always convenient, but don’t you *kind of* miss it.

Though we’ve upgraded, in no way have we simplified.  In the name of progress, we’ve made ourselves slaves to information.  It’s no secret that we all have opportunities, people, and messages that compete for our attention at any given moment. The question then is – how do we survive this constant bombardment? Continue Reading…

Get Your Song Back

January 31, 2013 — Leave a comment

When we read through the Old Testament, we find the people of God in regular intervals of captivity and freedom. Famine and blessing. Slavery and promise.

Photo by Kevin N. Murphy. Creative Commons

Photo by Kevin N. Murphy. Creative Commons

Whenever the Israelites would be led into exile one of the first things that would happen is they would lose their song. Their song was their blood line. Their song was their own soundtrack of the acts of God passed down to future generations. Their song was the truest expression of who they were.

That’s why every time we read of them in captivity, God brings a promise of deliverance that is connected to the idea of them singing again. The Psalms talk about a new song being put in their mouths. Where there once was mourning, there will be shouts of praise.

Every time they were led into freedom, they had to relearn who they were and how to live. They had to pick up their instruments and find their song again.

In a similar way, we go through seasons where we lose our song.

Sometimes the song is taken from us.
Sometimes the song is muted in the struggle.
Sometimes we sit back and let others do the singing.

Regardless of how it happened, we have to remember the Father’s intention is always to restore our hearts to a place of singing again. And while I believe literal singing is part of our restoration, we should know that our “song” is much more.

When we come alive in Christ and learn to live out of the truest expression of who we were created to be, there is unmistakable sound that goes out. It’s heard by more than us. It’s heard by God and heard by the enemy of our souls.

I love this little passage in the book of Isaiah.

Isaiah 30:29–33 (MSG)
“But you will sing, sing through an all-night holy feast! Your hearts will burst with song, make music like the sound of flutes on parade, En route to the mountain of God, on the way to the Rock of Israel. God will sound out in grandiose thunder, display his hammering arm, Furiously angry, showering sparks— cloudburst, storm, hail! Oh yes, at God’s thunder Assyria will cower under the clubbing. Every blow God lands on them with his club is in time to the music of drums and pipes, God in all-out, two-fisted battle, fighting against them.”

God’s plan is to give us our song back. And when we get it back, this passage says that God will club the enemy to the timing of our music. That sounds intense and slightly over the top, but I love the idea that when a new song comes alive in our hearts, God actually fights for us to the rhythm of that song.

So what if that means that
Every song you sing,
Every stroke of the brush
Every release of the shutter
Every click on your keyboard
Every movement of your pen
Every beat of the drum
Every strum of the guitar
Every step in the dance
Every scene of the film
Every nail hammered
Every meal prepared
Every sermon preached
is a crushing blow to the enemy of your soul.

That’s freaking awesome.

It’s time to get your song back.

Sunset in Rio De Janeiro

“It is possible that God says every morning. ‘Do it again’ to the sun; and every evening, ‘Do it again’ to the moon.  It may not be automatic necessity that makes daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately but has never got tired of making them…The repetition in Nature may not be a mere recurrence; it may be a theatrical encore.”

– G.K. Chesterton; Orthodoxy