08
Aug
09

A Healthy Pessimism and an Ecstatic Joy

cloudsLately, I have been forced to look at reality.

The cold, dirty, vile, and disgusting reality of life as it is on earth today. 

Evil abounds in every direction.  People lie without shame, degrade their bodies without thought, steal from one another without regret, fulfill their lusts without guilt, go to sleep at night, and wake up to do it again.  Its everywhere. 

This truth saddens me, because I know (and we ALL know), that this is not the way it should be.  There is an expectation of perfection we strive to reach, but we cannot attain it.  We push and we shove, we starve ourselves, we plead and bargain to gain an inch of that ultimate perfection and we fail.  We fail miserably.  Because there is nothing good within us.  No, nothing good. 

And so our lives are tainted with an apathetic attitude, accepting the way things are, rather than seeking what they should be.

Four years ago, I was ripped out of this apathetic coma.  God, in his mercy, grabbed me out of my vileness and, by his grace, made me righteous in the blood of his son.

One would expect that the evil of this world would not be so poignant after this uplifting moment.  But, ironically, I see it clearer, more than ever before.  Knowing now that God really has ordained perfection as the status quo, I look around with even more pessimism for the state of this world. 

I can easily fall into despair (and once again, apathy) if I allow this part of reality to overshadow the other part of reality: That there is a God who has ordained a day in the future that all will be judged and all His children shall for eternity enjoy being in His family. 

Those who are invited to the Great Feast and Wedding will be admitted, and those who are cast out will be forever weeping and gnashing their teeth.  There is joy in this.  There will be justice for the vileness we see, and we can glory in the grace given to those who love God because he has overlooked our own vileness because of His Son.

Take heart, brothers and sisters, for we will not be here forever!  Don’t be overtaken by the reality you see, but cling to the reality of Heaven and the promise of His coming back!!

06
Apr
09

The call of a Christian artist…

Precious Grace by Makoto Fujimura

Precious Grace by Makoto Fujimura

Makoto Fujimura is an artist made from a different mold. 

He is a visual artist that also has the talent to bring people together to share a godly vision of the future world of the visual and performing arts.

Fujimura’s ministry, the International Arts Movement (IAM), seeks to “gather artists and creative catalysts to wrestle with the deep questions of art, faith and humanity in order to inspire the creative community to engage the culture that is and create the world that ought to be.”

I came across him and his ministry in one of the last lessons of the Truth Project, and what he had to say concerning art, the Christian, and the Church took a hold of me and spoke into my soul. 

I was so blessed to hear what this man had to say, that I borrowed the DVD, and took the time to copy, word for word, what he said.  More than I, he can explain my heart concerning the possibilities of the future world of art and what should occur now in preparation for that future:

“I think the church needs non-believing artists to learn from, to grow, and be challenged by. 

The way I approach artists and art in general, I make this assumption first: that all expression, all art forms, belong ultimately to God. 

Of course we twist them.  We twist these good gifts that God’s given us and twist that into an idol and make it into something that we can worship and that happens all the time. 

But a Christian’s task is to twist it back.  We discern what is good.  Unless we do that, we are left with twisted imagination that is not sanctified, and therefore the product of expression is always going to become more and more tainted.

Though the church may have left the arts, God did not.

We tend to have this knee-jerk reaction to the world or simply copy and mimic what’s there.  I think, biblically speaking, the Church needs to be a place, source, of creativity. 

I think, because we left culture to people who do not know Christ, we left it empty.  We are paying for the vacuum right now because we needed to be there with these artists, alongside of them, to struggle together.  But I think we didn’t do that.

We need to encourage our children to be in creative fields.  We need to be blessing them to go to New York and L.A.  To be an actor, to be a director, to have vision.  Be the next Spielberg and be the next Picasso.

Christians need to be seen as this creative force that the world sees and says, ‘Hey, if I want to be an artist I’ll go to church!  Because that’s where creativity thrives!'”

Concerning his ministry, Fujimura says:

“When artists come in, I take that as an opportunity to really listen and understand that they’re bringing in this wealth of information that the church can tap into and then learn from, and communicate the Gospel back.  They’re like a bridge.

My prayer is that the church itself would be seen as a place where creative arts are drawn to.”

Check out my vodpod to see videos featuring Fujimura.  You won’t be disappointed!!!

05
Apr
09

Why I’m going to Louisiana

Deep south, wrought iron, the Flor De Lis...what more could I ask for?

Deep south, wrought iron, the Flor De Lis...what more could I ask for?

Ever since I became a follower of Christ, I have been on a mission to find and then pursue my ultimate purpose in this world.

This is a task SO much easier said than done, as many of you can atest to.

I knew, beyond a shadow of any doubt, however, that my life was going to be very rooted in the performing arts.  I can act, I can sing, and I can dance.  And I love it all.  It would be foolish to deny not only what I’m gifted in, but also what I truly love!  I also knew, beyond a shadow of every doubt, that my life was meant to glorify Christ and my ultimate desire was, and is, to live my life for Him.

So, with the first hurdle crossed, I proceeded to bring this lofty and vague idea of living a life for God within the performing arts into focus.  And this is the difficult part.  I’m still in this part of the process.  But here is what I have gathered over the past few years that has brought me some clarification of my passion and true mission:

In the summer of 2006, one year after my submission to Christ, I went on two short-term missions supported by Campus Crusade for Christ. 

For two weeks in May, I went to New Orleans, LA, to aid in Hurricane Katrina relief.  In the process, I fell absolutely in love with the area and it stirred my unexplainable desire to dwell within the culture of the bayou and deep south values.  Ever since, I have gone back to the New Orleans area….but more on that later!

My second trip that summer was to the inner city of Chicago.  I spent six weeks there learning and experiencing something I had never heard of before: Urban Ministry.  This elusive term took my life by storm.  The marriage of city life and ministry, the opportunity to reach thousands upon thousands of people in one small area, and the compassion and humility required to sustain and thrive as a believer in the city stirred another part of me.  The part that felt the calling to serve within an urban area and never look back.

With these new discoveries, I had an even clearer understanding as to what I would be up to.  

I love Jesus Christ, I love the performing arts, I love New Orleans, and I love urban ministry.

As I mentioned earlier, I continued to go back to Louisiana.  In January, 2008, I made a trip with a very small group of people from Harvest Bible Chapel of DeKalb to Sovereign Grace Fellowship church located in Slidell, LA.  Slidell is on the Northshore, not 30 minutes from New Orleans itself.

I wasn’t expecting too much when I saw this nondescript, quaint little church.  I thought they were a congregation doing a great thing on a small scale and needed a little bit of help, and that was that.

And then, I fell in love with the people. 

Without getting too in depth in this blog regarding who they are and why they are the way they are, it will suffice to say that this group of people also love God very much, and have allowed Him to put them into a refining fire together.  What has been formed is a community touched and gifted by God beyond any congregation I have ever witnessed. 

That week I spent time being ministered to more than I was ministering to others.  Of course, I worked and helped them, but the words and teaching and love I received that week was like balm to my heart.  I went away knowing I would visit again.

And I did.  In the spring of 2008, I went back and learned even more about the people and there ministry, mission, and also their vision.

And then it happened: I fell in love with their mission and caught their vision and began to claim it as my own.  Soon after I decided that I would move to Slidell to join them in their growing ministry.

I have the unique opportunity to not only join in on what they have already accomplished and established within their ministry, but I also have the freedom and creative liscense to expand upon what they are doing to help round out the ministry.  This is where my love for the performing arts will be able to manifest.  But more on that in another blog. 

I found that I could blend all my passions within this ministry, and am now taking the next step this spring to see, even further, what it means to live my life for God within the context of the passions and gifts Christ has blessed me with.

By the grace of God, my ultimate purpose and mission in life has come into further focus, and the details are filling in.  Praise Him!

04
Apr
09

A welcome refreshment…

A refreshing revelation, much like water to the parched tongue...

A refreshing revelation, much like water to the parched tongue...

So, lately I’ve been having some personal issues that I don’t know how to deal with because I’m not even entirely sure of what these issues are.

Needless to say, I feel that these problems hinder my friendship with God, and, let’s face it, that’s true.

But I’ve come across something in the past few weeks regarding how God works with me that just doesn’t make any sense but I’m entirely grateful for it.

Somehow, even through my little rebellions and my little tantrums and my little displays of nastiness, God uses me for His glory in the lives of others.

Say what, say what?!?!?!  Yea.  Its really weird, but this revelation adds to the tower of hope I’ve been building with God lately.

It also brings me further and further into the truth that in my weakness (all of my weakness) he is strong. 

Its important to note that even though He can still be glorified through rebellion and disobedience, He is so much more glorified in willing submission and abandoned joy in Him.  That’s my goal.

By His grace I will not continue to take Him for granted and will intentionally walk with Him in the effort to glorify Him.

Keep praying.

24
Aug
08

Fake money/ Gospel tracts

This is something that I just had to say something about.  A commercial for small new testament booklets came on Moody radio, and a girl mentioned she would use hers to give to waitors and waitresses at restaurants.

That reminded me of a time four or five years ago, before I became a believer, when I worked at Hardee’s, a fast food restaurant.  Often when I would go out and clean tables, I would see little strips of paper wedged underneath the salt shaker or the napkin dispenser that looked vaguely like a dollar bill. 

When I would take it out, I would find that in fact it was not money (no surprise) but on the other half were a few words that said something like “money isn’t everything in life…” and went on to a presentation of the gospel of Jesus Christ.I’m sure a few of you out there don’t see anything wrong with this way of evangelism.

But let me tell you that whenever I saw one of those I got really put off.  Not because they weren’t real money and I was running low, and not because it was about this guy Jesus.  No.

I was turned off becuase I perceived the people who left these around as lazy and uncaring, and I didn’t want to be involved with people of that quality. 

Now, as a believer, I still don’t like this way of evangelism, and for the same reasons. 

Why?  Let’s start with lazy.  If we are leaving around these slips of paper and running out the door, hoping that someone might see the truth and live for Christ, then we are not leaving room to answer questions, help them get connected to a body of believers who uphold the teachings of the Bible, and helping them grow in discipleship.  Christ did not call us to make converts, he called us to make disciples, and making disciples is hard work.  So no wonder leaving a gospel tract around is a popular way to “spread” the Word.

Moreoever, I feel that leaving a tract in this way is extremely uncaring.  I’ve talked to a few waitresses and waitors who have had the same thing done to them, where a group of people won’t leave a tip, but they will leave a gospel tract.  Sure, money isn’t everything.  But think about it!!!  This person has served you at your ever whim and fancy, and then they receieve a piece of paper that spouts off about this Jesus (who means nothing to them at the moment) as a suitable tip for their hard work. 

May I challenge you to not only leave the gospel tract, but also to leave a generous tip?  If we are God’s children, and the money we receive is not ours but His, how can we hold on to it like that when we know the waitress is doing a wonderful job and probably needs it more than you (who has everything in Christ Jesus).  Don’t you think the waitress will more likely see what the tract has to say when she sees that you are a generous person with a kind heart?

So before we slap down an impersonal Gospel tract and simply hope for the best, let’s put a face to our message.  Let’s first seek to live worthy of our calling, loving God, His Son, and the Spirit above all else, and love others as we so desperately love ourselves.  Perhaps then we’ll get the Word across.




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