Where does our Creativity come From?

So last week we looked at why we as Believers should create. We looked throughout Scripture and pulled specific passages providing us with information about creativity and our purpose in having and utilizing it for God’s glory.

But… what we failed to discuss is where our creativity comes from.

When God created the world, he created man and woman in his own image. God was the first creator. He told His human creation to be fruitful and multiply and to rule over all that he had created. God also allowed Adam to name the animals. These acts, though often overlooked, are some of the first recorded creative acts of mankind.

We all know what takes place in Genesis 3… but even though both Adam and Eve fell from the perfection in which they had been created we find that mankind’s creativity continued on.

You may be asking… “Tanner, how can you know this?”

My answer to that is historically man had to advance. In the early chapters of Genesis we see the rise of agriculture, the building of cities, the forging of tools and even the beginning of music.

In the middle of the genealogies in Genesis 4 we come across a man named Jubal. Genesis 4:21 says,

Jubal; he was the father of all those who play the lyre and pipe.

Even after the fall man began to put into practice the creative gifts that God had given him to fulfill his task of ruling over creation. And so God, the creator, is the source of all creativity. And in creating man in His own image, God gave man gifts of creativity also.

Let’s discuss some important principles for us to consider while thinking about God’s gift of creativity.


  • God chooses the recipient.

We know that creativity comes from God. Most people attribute the works of the Holy Spirit with happenings in the New Testament… but a shock to most is that the first person to receive the Spirit of God was a “creative” in the Old Testament. We see this specifically in Exodus 31:1-5 where it says,

The Lord said to Moses, “See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver, and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, to work in every craft.

This passage in Exodus takes place immediately after the giving of the Ten Commandments. Moses has ascended to the top of Mount Sinai where God has just given him detailed instructions concerning the tabernacle. And then in our passage God tells Moses how the building of the tabernacle is to be accomplished. Through a creative… that He has given the Spirit to in order to create exactly what God had commanded.

In the beginning of that passage we see that God chooses the recipients of His gifts… including the gift of creativity or artistry. God said to Moses, “See, I have called by name Bezalel…

We can’t make it happen on our own. God chooses each specific gift and ability that each of us has been blessed with.

I like the continuation of that story in Exodus 40 when the “creatives” have finished the Lord’s work. Exodus 40:24-28 says,

Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud settled on it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. Throughout all their journeys, whenever the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the people of Israel would set out. But if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not set out till the day that it was taken up. For the cloud of the Lord was on the tabernacle by day, and fire was in it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel throughout all their journeys.

The Spirit of God was so thick in and on the tabernacle that Moses couldn’t even get in! Now that is thick! Miraculous things happen when we respect and utilize the Lord’s gifts and selections. Let us use the gifts of God for His glory!

  • There are a variety of gifts.

Another important thing for us to consider and remember is that God gives a wide variety of creative gifts. We even see in the above passages about Bezalel, found in Exodus, a variety of gifts mentioned.

Exodus 31:4-5 says,

To make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of craftsmanship.

Bezalel wasn’t just given one gift. Instead God gave Bezalel a wide variety of gifts to accomplish His purposes at that time.

Romans 12:6-8 tells us that we will have gifts that “differ” and goes on to mention some gifts. That passage says,

Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.

So… it is important to note that even though we are specifically talking about creative gifts in this blog everything pointed out applies to other gifts of the Spirit as well! I would argue though that all that we do involves some level of creative ability, from the simple setting of a table for dinner to inventing the wheel or writing the next CCLI top hit for the church. Even simple problem solving requires some level of creativity!

So when you think about creativity, don’t just think about the arts! God gives a wide variety of creative gifts, and He has given creative gifts to you, too. And there is a reason God gave you the specific gifts that make you who you are. No single gift is greater than another and we are called to use the ones we have been given for the glory of God and the furtherance of the Kingdom.

  • Every gift has a purpose.

Why did God give Bezalel his specific skills? God had a specific purpose in mind for them. Now… I am sure that he used those skills for many other things as well, but the primary purpose is portrayed in Exodus.

God gave Bezalel all the particular skills that he needed in order to build the tabernacle, and not just to build it, but to build it according to God’s exact specifications!

God gives creative gifts for a purpose.

Christianity is all about being human, God’s creation, to the glory of God the Creator. And so that means taking all that God has created in this world, all of human culture, and all of our creativity and returning it to God in praise. 1 Timothy 4:4 Paul says,

Everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving.

Ephesians 2:10 says,

We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Just as Bezalel’s gifts had a purpose God has also prepared specific works for each of us to do. Not only did He set us aside for these works… but he also created us with the specific gifts necessary to do those good works.

God’s gifts have a purpose, and God has a purpose for the creative gifts he has given you.

Advertisements

Why do we Create?

We sing songs. We draw, paint, and sculpt. Have you ever asked yourself why?

There are many ways in which a person can be creative… but where does it come from and why is it important to God and the church?

Below we will discuss “why” we create.


  • God created.

The first reason we as Believers should be striving to create marvelous things for the Lord takes us all the way back to the beginning.

Genesis 1:1 says,

In the beginning, God created…

The creation story that we are all familiar with found in Genesis continues in 1:27 to say,

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

We ourselves were created! God was, and is, the first ever creator and being made in His image we also should be striving to create! When I think about God as the first Creator and myself attempting to be more like Him then I am automatically pushed to constantly be striving to create with Biblical excellence that reflects the attributes and likeness of God. It is amazing to me that we can often fall into the trap of creating very mediocre things within the church and slapping the “Christian” label on them and calling them done.

As Believers our handiwork should be more than mediocre! In fact, we should be the BEST creators because we serve the best creator!

Psalm 104:24 says,

O Lord, how manifold are your works! In wisdom have you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.

Psalm 19:1 says,

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.

The vast expanse of the universe was created by a God who loves to create. The cells in our bodies that we can’t even see were created by a God who loves to create. God went above and beyond as a Creator and because of that so should we.

  • It is part of our mandate.

Genesis 1:26-27 says,

Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And, let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female He created them.

Are you aware of the fact that you have been given dominion over the rest of creation? As creators that should overwhelm us with excitement because “the sky is the limit!” We have dominion over the things we create!

We know that for each person the way we create is different. Some of us may be musicians, writers, painters, chefs, inventors, skilled in design, etc. Some of us also are creative in the way we accomplish jobs, communicate with people of all ages, or view situations and scenarios. Regardless of our method and creative medium the call is still the same. Romans 12:6 says,

Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them…

Ultimately we aren’t using our God-given creativity for ourselves. It is for Him alone.

Colossians 3:23 says,

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men…

  • It is part of what we were made to do.

Let’s think about it… from the time we are born, there is a part of us that longs to create. A child loves to scribble, paint, and mold playdoh. When music is turned on it is natural for us to want to tap our feet, wiggle a little, and sing along.

A friend of mine named Will Croushorn has said,

While not every one of us will be the next Picasso or Vincent Van Gogh, every one of us has been given a gift to create and to imagine which can be used to share the greatest story ever told.

In fact, the first “paid” artisans worked for the church! Do you think it is a mere coincidence that some of the first people paid to create served God and His people? I say that to point out the fact that ultimately our God-given natural creativity was given to us for the glory of God, and the enjoyment of His people.

When a child paints a picture the first thing a parent does is hang it on the fridge. It doesn’t matter if the painting is realistic, technically precise, or if it is nothing but a splatter! A parent still delights in their child’s work. I personally like to imagine our Father in Heaven delighting in our “paintings.”

I love the idea that: God provided us with creativity for Himself.

God enjoys creating and creation. That is evident in the majestic and over-the-top way in which He created all that we see, and even the things that we aren’t aware of. In the beginning we see God enjoying creation when He walks through the Garden.

Genesis 3:8 tells us exactly that,

And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.

God walked through the Garden and enjoyed it! We know that because He is God… He could appear right where He wanted to, but instead He took a stroll through His handiwork and enjoyed what He had done. It even says that God came to the Garden in the cool of the day. AS someone who loves being outside hiking or exploring I like to think of God just strolling down a path through the Garden listening to the birds chirping and touching the plants along the way. God enjoyed creating and enjoyed His creation.

In the same way that God created and enjoyed His creation we can create… and all of our projects and efforts ultimately speak to who He made us to be!

  • To communicate the Gospel, and the greatness of our God.

If someone has ever questioned the authenticity of visual art as a crucial part of Christian worship, all they need to do is consider the priority our Lord placed on beauty when He made this world. Aesthetically there is nothing that can top God’s original creation! Clearly, God’s creative handiwork is intentional, God purposefully made what we see around and above us to be more than just functional. He designed all of nature so that it would point us back to Him.

Psalm 104:24 says,

O Lord, how manifold are your works! In wisdom have you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.

Psalm 139:14 says,

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.

David as a shepherd spent many nights outside tending his flock and he probably wrote Psalm 19 as he lay on his back staring up at the stars. Psalm 19:1 says,

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.”

As creative people our creation ultimately displays and communicates God’s greatness and power. Every work of art, each scribble on a page, and every theatrical production that is staged is in some way telling the story of God and the gospel.

We all recognize that art has a way of communicating feelings and emotions that cannot be verbalized. Paul tells us in Romans 1:19-20 that,

For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

Think about this amazing truth – what we can know about God is already made known to us through His creation! Through the work of Christ, we can know God, truly and intimately, here and now. When we spend our time studying science, creating art, understanding how the universe works, we have an opportunity to learn little by little about the God who created each of those things. Through His creation, God reveals His attributes, His personality, His characteristics, His greatness, and His power. When we in turn create we can display this story for others as well.

  • To serve.

Last… but definitely not least, we each have roles to play in this family of believers. The “creative” folk among us need to feel a freedom to create and inspire because in that, they are serving the body of Christ with the gift they have been given.

Our creativity isn’t just for ourselves, and our enjoyment, but it is meant to be shared with others.

There are many creative opportunities within the local body and when there aren’t then we should “create” some! Every church should have creative people inside it purposefully creating and “telling the story” of the first Creator through their handiwork. Those who don’t understand the need or importance of creativity obviously don’t understand whom it comes from and the value creativity holds.


Let’s challenge ourselves to create for a higher purpose! Let’s allow our handiwork to reflect the handiwork of the ultimate and best Creator.

 

 

 

Pause.

Do you ever feel like the Energizer bunny?

Many, if not all, of us have been through a season where it seems like for every one thing we get off of our to-do list two more are added. Maybe you are in that season now.

What do we do when our work is piling up and there seems like there is no escape or plausible solution to free ourselves from the busyness? Have a breakdown? Work overtime? Well actually there really isn’t an easy solution here with a guaranteed outcome.

Below we will talk about the importance of remembering Jesus in the seasons of busyness and some important things to keep in mind when we are neck deep in piles of work.


  • Don’t get so caught up in your work that you miss His.

Psalm 37:7 says,

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!

Those of us who are work-driven suffer from the mentality or thought that we have to work more and harder in order to get the work that needs to be done accomplished, that somehow God’s work is dependent on our 8-hour workday. Now on a certain level we all know that we can’t be “lazy” and expect things to get done… but this idea of work-driven spiritual success can be harmful.

Psalm 46:10 says,

Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!

We see a command in the Psalm above: Be still. The word still is a translation of the Hebrew word rapa, meaning “to slacken, let down, or cease.” In some instances, the word carries the idea of “to drop, be weak, or faint.” Christians often interpret the command to “be still” as “to be quiet in God’s presence.” This idea is true… but not always a helpful interpretation. Quietness in order to listen to and for God is certainly helpful, but the phrase also means to stop frantic activity, and to be still.

Sometimes it would actually be better if we slowed down and allowed the Lord to guide our work instead of franticly doing every project or list item that we can think of just to get them checked off our list.

A thought that helps me to remember to be still and let the Lord guide my work is: Does God’s will require this to be done at this instant… is He guiding me to do it now or is it my will that it be done?

To “know that I am God” means to acknowledge and be aware of who God is and what He does. This should impact our work because if we know God then we know that He is omniscient (all-knowing), omnipresent (present everywhere), omnipotent (all-powerful), holy, sovereign, faithful, infinite, and good. Acknowledging God implies that we can trust Him and surrender to His plan because we understand who He is.

Sometimes the hardest thing to do is to let go and let God work. We must remember that we don’t have to always be in charge. Instead of trying harder, we merely need to trust more.

Whose work is more important?

  • Presence is more important than position.

In times of busyness our relationships suffer.

Our families and friends know when we are busy, because our relationship with them is strained or suffers. The same goes for our congregations if we are ministers. Have you ever been working hard and someone shows up out of the blue “just to talk?” What was your reaction? This happens to me frequently in the office at church and I have to make a conscious effort to pry myself away from the task I am working on to be intentional with them.

After all, we aren’t called to get the lights programmed, the bulletins printed, or the website looking amazing. We are called to make disciples… and with that call comes an understanding that in order to do that we have to be willing to make an intentional effort to put people first before our “tasks.”

Relationships require a certain level of commitment… but at the very least you have to be present for them to work!

I’m not just talking about being physically present. I am talking about being intentionally present with more than just your body… your heart, mind, and spirit need to be there too!

We never know what someone really needs and what opportunity God is placing in front of us. We see a prime example of this in Acts 16:24-34,

About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened. When the jailer woke and saw that the prison doors were open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. But Paul cried with a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.” And the jailer called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas. Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family. Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God.

In the story of the Philippian jailer we see that Paul fought the human tendency or urge to flee as soon as the prison doors flung open, and that unnatural response led to a life and a family being surrendered to Christ. Paul was intentional.

Paul cared less about his position as a missionary or apostle… instead he cared about being known for his presence when interacting with people! What good is a pastor who is always at church but who is unattached and has no presence among the people? What good is a parent who holds the position of authority but has no presence about them when they are home with their children? As a worship leader it does me no good at all to pick the best songs, rehearse diligently to a level of excellence, just to ignore those God has trusted me with and display no amount of presence when leading God’s people in worship!

I promise you that you lead more from your presence than you do from your position.

Let’s commit ourselves to being intentional and present with people because it glorifies God and honors the position He has ultimately given to each one of us.

  • Take the time to hear what He is saying instead of what you want to hear.

You may be saying, “I don’t have time to get done what I feel like God has already told me to do and now you are telling me to take more time out of my schedule!”

My response… yes.

We are all going to go through seasons of “busyness,” but in these times God isn’t silent. The season is in your life for a reason… what is God showing you, telling you, or teaching you?

Often the first thing that gets cut from a busy schedule is our own personal time of ministry. The time we take to hear from and speak to the Lord. We must minister to ourselves!

The best preacher you will ever have is yourself, so preach God’s Word to yourself everyday!

I think that the best example of surrendering to self is Jesus. We see in Scripture that the very night before his crucifixion Jesus surrendered himself to God’s plan. Mark 14:35-36 shows us this,

And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.

We see in this passage, in this prayer, that Jesus surrendered himself to God’s will. He submitted Himself to God’s will even if it didn’t perfectly align with what He wanted. Let’s face it… we are all human and our will doesn’t always perfectly align with God’s, but way too often we get so caught up in doing our will that we neglect to hear or ignore the tender calling that accompanies God’s will.

Our time may be spent doing “good” things… but are they the things that God desires from us at this very moment? I do good things everyday in and around the church, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that I am being intentional in accomplishing the will of God. Sometimes we can desire good things that take work and that isn’t bad at all! We just need to be careful to not ignore God’s work in order to accomplish ours. Not to ignore his will because we desire something else.

We must surrender ourselves and take the time to hear what God is saying to us instead of what we want Him to say.


Pause.

Be still and know that He is God.

Essential Relationships to Cultivate as a Believer

At the end of Matthew’s gospel, Jesus spoke what has come to be known as the Great Commission.

Matthew 28:19-20 says,

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.

Of course everyone who has read the Gospels has read this passage, and the majority of us have heard more messages preached on this topic than almost any other topic found in Scripture.

Typically, when we hear anyone speak on this message the emphasis is on missions… and it really should be! But, there’s quite a bit more than just that packed into Jesus’ statement. Let’s break it down. There are four main verbs in this commission or command. They are: go, make disciples, baptizing, and teaching.

Looking at the verbs individually we can see that they all are dependent off the one previous to them. We can’t make disciples without going! After we make disciples we baptize, then we walk alongside a new believer in their faith and teach them! It is a perfect process! In this commission Jesus is telling us that His church is meant to be a disciple-making body first and foremost.

So… what is a disciple?

The Oxford Dictionary defines a disciple as a follower or student of a teacher, leader, or philosopher. What I find even more interesting than the definition is the word’s origin though. The English word that we know comes from the Latin word “discipulus” which translates to “learner.”

A disciple is a learner. We are called to be disciples of Jesus and our relationships within the body of Christ should be geared so that all of us learn more and more about and from Jesus.

It is easy for us as believers to build a castle, surround it with a moat, and live isolated in our own “kingdom.” But… that isn’t how life was meant to be lived and ministry was meant to be done.

I was once advised by a professor to find a Paul, Barnabas, and Timothy for my own life. At first I had no idea what that even meant. I knew a person or two-named Timothy… but finding someone named Barnabas was obviously going to be more difficult in my mind.

But… as time went on it clicked.

Each of these well-known New Testament figures represents a type of relationship that is essential in the discipleship process. This discipleship isn’t just for others! Discipleship is foundational to our own personal growth in faith. Having a spiritual advisor, an encouraging peer, and a new believer whom we mentor is crucial to a Believer’s spiritual health. Each of these three characters is important to nurture and mature us as followers of Jesus. That’s why we must cultivate these types of relationships. Let’s discuss them together.


  • Paul

The privilege of sitting under a believer who is far wiser than us in spiritual matters is a mighty blessing. Ultimately, God is our counselor, and the Holy Spirit will always teach, guide, and direct us.  But a person who has gained knowledge and insight through personal trials and victories is also crucial to our spiritual health. This person is definitely a tool that God uses to help us persevere in our faith.

A “Paul” is someone who will lovingly speak the truth to you, even at the cost of hurt feelings. We see that displayed in his letters to the different churches in the New Testament. Paul calls them out on things that they are doing that aren’t reflecting the attributes of the Savior who saved them. He does this with authority… but gentleness. In a way that builds up and enables Believers to pursue the purpose and calling that God has for them and the church. Paul was a spiritual father to many believers.

A “Paul” is a mentor, a guide, and a sounding board. We even see this type of relationship displayed in the secular world. We have counselors, trainers, and coaches who push us to achieve certain things and hold us accountable to that. They provide insight and encouragement while instructing us along whatever route we are on.

The thing we must understand about this relationship is that a “Paul” in our life will be a teacher first and a friend second. They are a mentor, and sometimes that means they have to say things to us that we don’t like.

First and foremost we have to find someone who will pour his or her life into us.

  • Barnabas

Barnabas was a companion of Paul on his first missionary journey after Pentecost. Paul and Barnabas were peers, and sent out from the same church ministry in Acts 13. Paul and Barnabas walked through life and served God together. They were friends and without a doubt, they were mutually edified by each other.

Do you have a companion? A partner? A personal support system?

We even see that when Jesus sent out His disciples throughout the Gospels, He sent them out two by two and not alone! It is commonly explained that Jesus knew they needed fellowship and protection. He wanted His disciples to have fellowship because He knew that they were created for relationships.

We aren’t meant to do life alone! We aren’t meant to do ministry alone!

So… we all need a “Barnabas.” We need to be able to share our lives with others in friendship. Biblical Christian friendship. Do be a lone ranger! When we are alone, we are more vulnerable in so many ways, but when we are in relationship, someone has our back. Many of us have seen an action movie where the main character looks at someone and says, “Watch my six.”

Find someone to do life with! To do ministry with! Somebody has got to watch your spiritual “six.”

We must challenge ourselves to find someone we can count on. Not only do we need a Paul, someone who will pour into us, but we also need a Barnabas, with whom we will walk through this life of faith. A “Barnabas” is our spiritual peer, a friend in the faith, someone we co-labor with and someone who will be a source of fellowship and protection. They will encourage us in the faith, and we will do the same for them.

  • Timothy

After we have established the above relationships and are living alongside them we must look to the future and find a “Timothy.”

Timothy was Paul’s son in the faith. We see historically that Timothy was considerably younger than Paul, but that didn’t stop Paul from making a substantial investment in Timothy. We can see that Timothy was the recipient of mentoring at the hands of Paul and it paid eternal dividends and carries substantial weight in the Kingdom of God. So not only do we need a “Paul” in our lives to pour into us, not only do we need a “Barnabas” to walk alongside us, but we also need a “Timothy” as well.

We must become someone else’s “Paul!”

What an honor that is! We need to be making and effort to be consistently pouring into someone for their benefit and growth… not for what they can do for us. If you are like myself previously you may be thinking that you have a lot of work to do on yourself before you can begin to mentor someone in their life and faith… but let me assure you that there is always someone who will be blessed by your intentional spiritual investment in their lives.

If we all grasp this concept then we will begin to create and develop a cycle that carries on and benefits the church as a whole in the years to come.

Finding a “Timothy” somewhat serves or can be viewed as our spiritual “paying it forward.” We have been blessed by our “Paul,” and encouraged by our “Barnabas,” and then in return we continue the cycle and seek out someone we can bless as we have been blessed.

Do you have a “Timothy?” Who are you pouring into?


Let’s concern ourselves with creating and developing healthy Christian relationships that encourage and push us on in our faith while we in turn pour into others.