Living at the convergence of faith and art.

Posts tagged “church

Sunday: Relational-Faith

jonatan-pie-216311-skyIt’s Sunday … all day … and I’m thinking about how differently I used to think of Sunday say, 15-years ago. Sunday was a day that anchored the week. It was a day of going to church, of meeting a bunch of people who politely smiled and shook my hand. It was a day of mere religion and social etiquette. It was a day of doing what I was “supposed” to do. In my heart, it was a day of seeking Him but never finding Him, and I used all of the religious processes and procedures I’d been taught in order to corner Father and have a close encounter of the personal kind.

Today, Sunday is just another day of the week for me. I was thinking about why Sunday no longer seems set apart nor is particularly special. Father God, just now commented, Sunday is no longer any different from any other day of the week for you because now you and I are together all the time, 24/7. You no longer use Sundays to merely come visit Me. We’re in love with one another and we’re infinitely close, at the Quantum level in fact, and beyond.

For me, so much has changed in this last decade. The single biggest change has been in my relationship with Father God. I now dwell in what I call relational-faith. This is a faith which is based on our spirit to Spirit mystical union. That’s how He and I “talk” to one another, spirit to Spirit. That’s how we journey through the Cosmos together, and discover things of significance and wonder. We are a relationship. We are together, whether asleep or awake, no matter what day of the week it is, or what year of life it is. My beloved Father and I are together all-ways.

Jesus, my dearest Brother, Savior, and Counselor, has made this union possible. His blood, shed for my redemption, sanctified me – made me Holy before God – and His death ripped the veil between Father and me. Because He loved me first, while I was still a sinner, I now have full, unfettered access to His Divine Presence. I can approach the Throne of Grace unafraid and can enjoy His adoration and love, as I adore Him and love Him. Thank You, Brother Jesus. Thank You, Prince of Peace, Immanuel.

Sundays … these Sundays, are not even a shadow of the former days. The life transforming relationship I experience each day with Father God is intimate, somewhat messy, lavish, and always filled with our love for one another. In these days, I worship Him more deeply, more often, more powerfully than I ever have in all my many days. In these days He and I meet at the Table of Making to venture out on the journey of creativity. This new and wondrous relationship I live with Him, who made me, who saved me, who loves me, is the very fuel of our life together. It’s already an eternal life even as I walk this wondrous Earth He has provided.

For me, at least, Sunday is like all of the other days of my week. It’s another day of wonder, filled with love and discovery with my Father God.

Amen ~

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Guest Post: Back it up With Scripture!

Faith Rockrimmon is an author (Rose Rock Book Link, Rejection & Identity I, II), a blogger, and someone who generously shares the insights that Father God gives her.  When I read this blog post I saw so much of my own journey, that I asked Faith if she’d mind if I re-posted it to Creative Harmonies.  She graciously agreed, and here’s that gift.  I hope that you’re spiritually nourished, as I was.  Enjoy.

BACK IT UP WITH SCRIPTURE!

 

scripture

How many times have I been asked, “can you back it up with scripture?”  And then I have to explain that I don’t require that from Father.  Whoa, that annoys them!

I’m completely aware that it’s been done this way for a hundred years, but like so many other traditions, Father eventually tips them over.  And then I stand in fear and amazement at what He’s done.

Some years ago, when Father showed me a new insight or revelation, I’d put my hand up and stop Him from going too far.  Looking back I think it was a horrible response.  But, He didn’t seem offended. He waited patiently while I scoured scriptures and commentaries for confirmation.  Only then could I embrace His gift and experience the thrill of receiving it.

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It was quite a time-consuming process that delayed my joy.  And eventually, it occurred to me that I could pick and chose scripture “at will” to fit any slant of any subject.  It was a game.  Like a puzzle.  And I was the mastermind.  Somehow that didn’t taste very sweet, but that was how it was done.  It was the accepted process.

Then came revelations that opposed accepted theology.  And I couldn’t find anything to back them up.  It would appear that I was creating my own version of Christianity, which was not my heart.  37 thousand denominations were quite more than enough for everyone.   So immediately I suffered a crisis of faith, wondering if I had been duped by satan all along thinking it was God’s voice I was hearing.

Oh, the heartbreak and tears as I begged Him to save me from this horrible pit.  For days, my heart churned.  I’d trusted Him.  And now this.

Now I wondered.  I doubted.  Who was I talking to and would Father save me?  Slowly I asked questions full of suspicion and mistrust.

But He still wasn’t offended, and He quickly responded with information.  It explained why my revelation wasn’t common knowledge.  And as this happened time after time, a pattern developed.   It was usually fairly simple.

Sometimes a translation wasn’t accurate.  Sometimes the context wasn’t considered.  And sometimes, the history of society wasn’t understood.   Behaviors of a period change the meaning.  Words and phrases change quickly.  Our own society has new words and phrases that were unknown 50 years ago.  All these factors change things.  Scripture isn’t simply black and white.

Here are a few examples.  “When pigs fly.”  “That’ll cost an arm and a leg.”  “You let the cat out of the bag.”  “Break a leg.”  Or “That’s a piece of cake.”  We know what they mean but imagine someone from 600 B.C. reading one of them.   What a wrong concept they would have simply by reading what we wrote in black and white.

“It’s right there in black and white” is the response when I explain how quickly words change.  And Christianity has great tunnel vision in this regard.

Imagine if you “wrote on someone’s wall” even a 100 years ago or “had a troll on my thread”.  A pioneer would think you were crazy!

So imagine my surprise when I discovered that “turning the tables” was an everyday occurrence in the temple.  Merchants turned their tables to the wall to indicated they had closed up shop for the day.

Well now, that puts a whole new twist on Jesus’s actions.  Maybe He didn’t have a temper tantrum after all.

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And imagine my surprise at discovering the everyday phrase for Nero, the emperor, was “The Beast”.  Is it possible John in the book of Revelation, was talking to people who’d know exactly what he meant?  That could totally change our doctrine.

And what if, Father never meant for us to make scripture superior to hearing His voice?  Maybe it was meant for inspiration and guidance, but not in place of God, Himself.

Time after time, the overwhelming evidence of our flawed theology stunned me and I’d sit staring out the window at the mountains.  It was beginning to appear that almost nothing about our doctrines was constructed appropriately.  And this revelation put me at odds with most of my fellow believers.  If I ever opened my mouth, I was going to be explaining myself rather than sharing a revelation.

Then I had an epiphany, after once again asking Father to wait while I researched.  He always said, “Take your time.  I’ll be waiting.”  But suddenly I realized I was stalling my moment of joy.  Not only that, I was slowing down my progress.  And for what?

How quickly might I progress if I stopped putting the brakes on Him every time?  And how important was it for everyone to understand me before I continued?  Did I really need anyone to agree with me at all?

It was certainly a light-bulb moment.  And to top it off, Father had proven Himself to me so many times that I was completely, and absolutely confident He was able to prove everything He said, anytime I needed Him to do so.  He wasn’t able to lie.  And He obviously knows a whole lot more about everything, than I do.

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I stopped worrying about who’s voice I was hearing.  We’d had so many conversations that I recognized His voice now. I had no more doubts about His identity because His most overwhelming trait is that Love that becomes apparent in every one of His conversations.  It is most assuredly the greatest Love ever imaginable and it’s never superficial, or vain, or trite.  Nothing evil can imitate it.  It truly is the ultimate proof of Him.

That moment was like taking the training wheels off a bike and trusting gravity to work the same way every time.  It’s completely freeing, and wild.  I knew it looked dangerous and reckless to those watching me.  So how would I convince them that God was really holding the bike up?

I didn’t know.  So, I continued searching scriptures for confirmation in an effort to convince and assure others.

But it didn’t last long.  It was quickly clear that those were very dingy, controlling reins.  And they don’t work.  No matter how much proof I could gather, there would always be people who wouldn’t buy it.  They would always think bad things and say mean things about me.  Always.

That’s because people do 2 things when presented with an idea contrary to their normal beliefs.  They accept it instantly.  Or they reject it instantly.  Neither of these decisions requires proof.  It is simply a human trait.

One group will dig deeper and the other will be long gone.

Father gave me one more insight.  It isn’t my job to make sure people believe me.  The truth is placed in front of them so they can pursue proof on their own.  That’s what He wants – our undivided attention, reaching for truth.

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So when I share, it’s not to convince anyone or make them follow me. It’s to coax them to come searching on their own.  Father doesn’t need my assistance holding their hand because He didn’t need anyone holding mine.  He used all sorts of people along the way, speaking messages they sometimes weren’t even aware He was using.

Ironically, I thought Father was guiding me toward ordination.  I took courses from 2 bible schools and I smile at the wonderful things I learned.  And I chuckle at the things Father proved wrong in the process.  Eventually, I understood He wasn’t heading me toward formal theological education.  And for a minute I was heartbroken.  But He said, “I want to teach you, myself.”  And I couldn’t resist.  It’s like the most intimate invitation from the best teacher in the universe.  How special could I possibly feel?

I loved the first time He gave me a message through an atheist lady.  She had just finished telling me why God didn’t exist and her very next sentence was the answer to a question I had asked Him earlier.  It didn’t fit into her conversation and I’m not sure she was aware that she’d said it.  Had Father just abused her free will?  Actually, I think He had only abused that ugly spirit that was riding on her.

Anyway, I’ve seen Him lead a woman all her life, who’s never stepped inside a church.  And I’ve seen Him speak through someone who didn’t believe in Him.  He doesn’t need my help to fix others.  He simply wants me to share my stories and revelations.  He’ll take it from there.

“Study to show thyself approved” isn’t instructing us to memorize scripture and argue effectively with each other.  It’s a compliment to “Seek and ye will find” because there are billions of “pearls of great price” worthy of attaining.  They are all inside His presence.

music“My sheep know My voice, and a stranger they do not hear.”

So how does it happen that someone hears Father say something and another person hears something different?  That’s pretty simple.  It’s maturity and intimacy.  A 5-year-old child doesn’t get the same answer from their Dad that a 15-year-old gets.  That doesn’t mean the 5-year-old’s answer was a lie.  It was appropriate.

A stranger doesn’t get the same answer from a man that his wife will get.  That’s because his wife is not only intimate with him, but she has a history with him and knows things about him that the stranger couldn’t know.  Father wants that kind of intimacy with us, where He can share His heart and we’ll understand what He means simply because we know Him so well.

It’s how a relationship works.  And it’s so much better than scraping together a bunch of scriptures to prove what I just saw.  Father is still the greatest teacher of the Universe and He always will be.

Thank you for sharing my journey and I send blessings with you on yours.

Faith


Floating But Safe

tiffany-ceiling-smlI am floating and feeling somewhat disconnected. I am not lost. The floating is perhaps a number of things. I know that part of it is Father’s liberation from the strict laws & rules of theologist / institutional religion. That kind of floating is awesome and wondrous. I love that. I also know that some of the floating is Father’s liberation of my art. That too is free of the legalism & marketing forces of the gallery / museum / so-called art-world system. Father God has liberated both sides of my destiny, those of my faith, and of my art.

I sense that this disconnection I feel, this floating, is also a huge time of opportunity for me. Father has lead me to believe that stuff like loss, dislocation, change, adversity, etc., are in fact opportunities. They are difficult, maybe painful openings in life which allow for something new to be planted.

We plough the Earth, literally rip it open, in order to prepare it for new seed. I’ve come to grasp that my life is sometimes ripped open by situations and circumstance of loss, change, or adversity, and yet, even as I grieve in those times, I know that I’ve been ploughed open so that my loving Father God can plant new seeds of opportunity in me.

So often I’ve found myself tight fisted against these painful events and forces. In my youth tumult was a daily visitor and I wanted no more of it. But in my new life of relational faith, I’ve found at first a comfort, and now a joyful desire for the new seeds Father wants to bless me with. I’m not afraid anymore. When the plough of change comes roaring through, I now reel far less in the pain of adversity, loss, and change. Yes, it still hurts, I still grieve, but no where’s near as much as it used to. I think that’s because I know a new planting of opportunity is coming, and Father is making preparation(s) for it. I embrace my Father God and His plans for me and my destiny. I want them because in them I become more of who and what He has designed me to become, and in this way I bring Him glory, my life brings Him glory.

For me, feeling a sense of floating and disconnection is far less about the absence of safe ground beneath my feet. It has become more of a life-posture of being available to being drawn by Father into whatever He has written into my destiny. I need to say that a destiny is not a carved in stone mandatory program. We are not biological robots that Father plays around with. That’s Greco-Roman pantheon thinking. No, we are masters of our own lives because while Father has written a destiny for each of us, we are entirely free to go our own way. We have freewill, and that’s another subject for another time (see the teachings of Steve Harmon).

I willingly take up this posture of availability to Father’s will and ways, of desiring with all my heart to step into my identity and destiny. I willingly embrace the plough of adversity, of change, of loss, and of grief because my joy is in my Father God. He has plans for me, plans to prosper me and not to hurt me (Jeremiah 29:11-13). My Father loves me and I can trust Him to surgically alter my life, just as we see in the Chronicles of Narnia, when Aslan cuts Eustice from his dragon self, setting him free.

I love feeling as if I’m floating with the only certainty being my relationship with and in my Father God. I am safe. I am blessed. I am lavishly cherished, as Graham Cooke might say. I am being brought into infinite prosperity. I am led to lay up all of my treasures in Father’s Heaven where they’re available forever (Matthew 6:19-21). My sense of feeling as if my life is floating is grounded in my complete trust in Father, in His infinite, divine, and lavish love for me, and in my relational faith with Him.

The grieving of change and of adversity are all opportunities just waiting to be planted in my ploughed up life where, under the care of my Father God, they will blossom and bear fruit of unknown consequence forever and ever.

Amen ~


Christianity-Lite

culturallysavvyI’ve just been to “school”.  I’ve just read ideas of which I have long sensed their reality, but have been unable to articulate.  I’ve just read Dick Staub’s Culturally Savvy Christian.

Not a book for the comfortable, the faint of heart, or the disinterested, in this book Staub lays out the frailty of American Christianity and its well meaning, but often misguided attempts to make a difference in America.

“In this intellectually and aesthetically impoverished age of Christianity-Lite, it is heartening to remember that for centuries, Christians were known for their intellectual, artistic, and spiritual contributions to society.  Bach, Mendelssohn, Dante, Dostoevsky, Newton, Pascal, and Rembrandt are but a few who personified the rich tradition of faith, producing the highest and best work, motivated by a desire to glorify God and offered in service of others for the enrichment of our common environment: culture. These were culturally savvy Christians-serious about the centrality of faith in their lives, savvy about both faith and culture, and skilled in relating the two.”   pg ix

Staub does not accuse.  He’s neither critical nor combative.   He’s direct and truthful.  The Tone of his writing suggests an urgency, a need for those who are serious about their faith in God through Christ to become culturally savvy and through culture, to make deep, positive, long-term differences.

He is, and in my mind rightfully so, deeply concerned about the general health and well-being of the Christian church in America, calling it Christianity-Lite; it’s “3,000 miles wide and two-inches deep”, and yet his intentions are, “not so much critical as corrective.” pg-43

[With this book] “I’d like us to examine together the cause-and-effect relationship between the quality and depth of our spiritual life and the richness of our cultural life. I’d like to explain my conclusion that today’s superficial spirituality is incapable of producing deep, rich culture. I’d also like to explore how a new generation of culturally savvy Christians-the old kind of Christian in the mold of Lewis and Tolkien, who today, will look like a new kind of Christian-can be the catalysts for transforming culture.” pg. xiii

Personally, I’m extremely encouraged for several reasons;

1) As an artist of faith, I am always exploring at how my art, whether performance or visual, can deepen and enrich our culture and, in the end, point to the cross of Christ.

2) As an artist of faith, I am deeply disturbed by the complete lack of any cohesive ethic of excellence in the offerings of so many artists of faith.

3) As a Christian in America I’m deeply disturbed by the hijacking of our faith by politicians, activists, and propagandists to forcibly change America’s values on the outside, while ignoring the inward transformation of the heart so central to the deeply effective Christian life.

4) Staub not only articulates what he sees as lacking, but offers sound counsel as to what each and every serious Christian can do to become culturally savvy, and make real, deep, peaceful differences in this nation we all love.

5) And finally, while all Christians in America can and should become culturally savvy, Staub reminds artists of faith in particular, that the art we’re endowed to create is an incredibly powerful tool for positive enrichment of our culture.

I encourage every thinking, concerned Christian to read it – all of it!

If you’re serious about your faith and this American culture we live in, I believe you’ll be engaged, and challenged to become a culturally savvy Christian.

He’s an author, commentator, and radio talk show host; for more about Dick Staub’s work, here are a number of his interviews from Christianity Today, and a YouTube video where he talks about The Culturally Savvy Christian.

Engage.  Enlarge.  Become.