Creative Expression – Restrained Vision

That same day two of them were walking to the village Emmaus, about seven miles out of Jerusalem. They were deep in conversation, going over all these things that had happened. In the middle of their talk and questions, Jesus came up and walked along with them. But they were not able to recognize who he was. (Luke 24:13-16 Message)

As I walk on the road of my own preconceived notions or my sublime presumptions, Jesus often draws near to me, in the midst of it all. When life’s events have placed more questions in my mind than answers, Jesus draws near – just to walk with me and talk with me.

Light on a PathThese two men were walking towards Emmaus, talking about Jesus’ crucifixion. Their minds were ablaze with questions. Their hopes– what could have been, should have been, and yet was not- seemed dashed to pieces as they faced the reality of His death. What now? What exactly happened?

Jesus enters into the midst of it all, just like He does for me. When He draws near, I often find myself in the midst of thinking, a process of questions. Why did this happen? What now? He walks besides me and sees my limited restrained vision, just as these two men on the road that day. Vision that is restrained by the power of presumption or assumption inhibits me from truly seeing, just like these two guys. Vision that is held in the power of its own process limits and restrains me from truly seeing.

He draws alongside, never forcing His way into my process, at least not at first. Like these men, I may continue to explain the events taking place through my ‘restrained vision’. He probably can’t help but shake His head as He listens to my words, just as He listened to the words of these men that day. At the right moment, in my own tension, He speaks. Here is how He spoke to these men that day. And sometimes, this is how He speaks to me.

Then he said to them, “So thick–headed! So slow–hearted! Why can’t you simply believe all that the prophets said? Don’t you see that these things had to happen, that the Messiah had to suffer and only then enter into his glory?” Then he started at the beginning, with the Books of Moses, and went on through all the Prophets, pointing out everything in the Scriptures that referred to him. (Luke 24:25-27 Message)

listen.520In other words, His words silence me, just as it did for these two guys, catapulting me into a greater reality, past my restrained vision and limited understanding. I find His confrontations into my life as wonderful as His gently flowing words of affirmation and love. Both show me His intense love for me. Both ways open my eyes to see past the nose on my own fact. My pain often restrains my vision. I need a shaking down some days that forces me to rise above my own self-pity and introspection. It’s good for me. He’s always good for me.

They came to the edge of the village where they were headed. He acted as if he were going on but they pressed him: “Stay and have supper with us. It’s nearly evening; the day is done.” So he went in with them. And here is what happened: He sat down at the table with them. Taking the bread, he blessed and broke and gave it to them. At that moment, open–eyed, wide–eyed, they recognized him. And then he disappeared. Back and forth they talked. “Didn’t we feel on fire as he conversed with us on the road, as he opened up the Scriptures for us. (Luke 24:28-32 Message)

Jesus stops me in the midst of my forward momentum many times. My eyes open to see, to truly see things that have been hidden from me. I get so excited at times at the revelation of truth, which lifts my spirit, that I want to detain Him at that point of revelation to sit with me, talk more with me, dine with me at my table. Yet, I have noticed, that just like these men, at the point of received revelation, sitting at a table of intimacy, He often is quickly up and away. Why is this?

There is more to say, more to see, and greater things to encounter. Being totally human, I may self-centeredly keep Him at that place at my table, receiving and receiving and receiving. Yet, He is up and away and now my choice is to follow Him with all that He has revealed to me, moving and living and having my being in Him. I can’t stay at this place of comfort. I now move in what I have received and take it out.

Yes, there will come another time when my presumptions will get the best of me again. That is only human. And on that day, He will draw near again to show me my shortcomings in truly understanding His greatness, His majesty and His being. That is called life. I go from glory to glory to glory, from faith to faith to faith. I walk on the road of life, wondering, asking questions, and thinking. He draws near, listens and even brings correction to me.

Christ in you, the hope of glory. (Colossians 1:27 NKJV)

Christ in me is still revealing Himself to me as I live my life in union with Him. I am enjoying the journey.

Creative Expression: Stop, Look, Listen

creativity-takes-courageI don’t look at the usual to find the unusual. I don’t follow the mundane to find the creative. I also stopped listening to the myriad of echoing sounds to find my voice. It’s all about being Debra, not anyone else. It is not self-indulgent to proclaim this at this time in my life. I have labored under misrepresentation for so many years that I breathe a sigh of relief when I find peace in Christ in me. My creativity is grounded in the One who knows me through and through.

The mystery in a nutshell is just this: Christ is in you; therefore you can look forward to sharing in God’s glory. It’s that simple. That is the substance of our Message (Colossians 1:27 Message)

Living “out of the box” has been added to a long list of clichés that currently exist. I myself have been known to say it so many times that I often bore myself at its repetition in my life. So I have decided to turn the tables on myself and stop talking it and start walking it. It’s time to live “out of the box”. Time for me to look outside my self-imposed boundaries that have placed a lens of normality over my eyes to where I don’t even see the new opportunities. I catch a glimpse of something new, something fresh and it is tempting to retreat into the comfort of the ‘crowd’ out of fear of failure or fear of the unknown.

So what does it mean for me to be creative and think out of the box? Well, first and foremost, creativity does not exist in a vacuum but is dependent upon relationships that add dimension to my life, visual stimuli that impart creative ideas to me, or reading interesting books whose words carry the seeds of creative ideas that burst open within me. All in all, creativity is dependent on movement in my life. Moving out of the stability of what is comfortable into what is innovative and fresh. This path can and often is accompanied by internal fears but do it anyway. For me, it’s all in Christ.

We live and move in him, can’t get away from him (Acts 17:28 Message)

The LIght Goes OnA practical example for me this very day set my heart afire within me. I saw a running video in my head that had me grab my journal to write down ideas. Then I talked briefly to my young friend in Finland, Jenna (by the way, READ this gal’s blog. It’s great.) I shot ideas by her and we have determined to bring forth the manifestation of this great idea in the beginning of 2014, God willing. Timing is crucial but if not then, it will manifest soon, very soon. What matters the most is that the creative journey sparks life in me. It is who I am and it is how I stay alive and adventurous day by day.

New ideas start to come when we press past the norm. And then, the new ideas may be nebulous in form because they are so new or different that we reject them at first. But then they start to take hold and they form into purpose and then we launch out to try, to do, to make, to create. It’s a good day.

This Doesn’t Fit! – Creativity

1 Samuel 17:38-40 38 Then Saul outfitted David as a soldier in armor. He put his bronze helmet on his head and belted his sword on him over the armor. 39 David tried to walk but he could hardly budge. David told Saul, “I can’t even move with all this stuff on me. I’m not used to this.” And he took it all off. 40 Then David took his shepherd’s staff, selected five smooth stones from the brook, and put them in the pocket of his shepherd’s pack, and with his sling in his hand approached Goliath. The Message

Over the years, I often felt restrained, and constricted while sitting in church. I felt like David in the verses above. Someone usually tried to get me to wear something I just couldn’t fit into because it was not me. I often felt stifled, wanting to pull a Braveheart, standing up in the middle of the room and shouting, “Freeeeeeeeeedom”. I didn’t, of course, but I wanted to. I got irritated and suddenly found myself wanting to get free, at any costs. In my frustration, I cried “Get me out of this.” Just like David.

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Yes, this has happened to me. No, I am not against the church. Yes, this is my personal experience. No, I am not against the local church. I am for individuality in Christ, but not independence. Being independent can cultivate introspection and selfishness or being a long ranger. There is a beauty in the Body of Christ when we find that place of interconnectedness, but not at the cost of fitting in because of external pressure, or being absorbed into religion, or losing that creative spark in my life.

I don’t want to try on someone’s vision or be conformed to any one’s mantle. I am being formed in Christ, and conformed to His image in my life. I want to be joined to others in Christ, where we live, move and have our being in Him. Right now, Marvin and I worship at home and weekly fellowship with our Finnish family in the Spirit via Face Time.

This may sound strange to you but it works for us right now. I am not looking for a ‘church family’ to fit into, just for the sake of being in a form. I know many out there right now are in the same position as we are – walking alone, trying to find their way in the Body of Christ, outside the walls of a form but still part of the Body. We will see a ‘coming together’ but it will be in a new way, a fresh way in Christ. So just keep walking, keep walking, keep walking. Eventually we will find each other, connect with each other, and birth that new thing, that new wineskin in Christ. We will. I won’t settle for less.

christ in me the hope of glory

Interconnectedness in Christ, each of us beautifully formed and fashioned in Him, allows us to flow in the ‘Christ in me’ alongside the “Christ in you”. This is the foundation of my passion for creativity in the Body of Christ. I thrive and flourish when YOU are walking in Christ as YOU. There is no other way for me to be me.

So how do I practically see this working out, so that it is more than just musings on this blog? I am not sure yet. I see something in the distance forming and I am not quick to jump and run because as humans, we so easily try to form it in our own wisdom. So I am heading to Finland in November to pray alongside our team. We are small but mighty in Christ. J We want to see with eyes wide open what the Lord is saying about all of this. Building a new paradigm in our midst – a daunting task but someone’s got to do it. We will keep you posted. 

Why Creativity?

creativityCreativity, creative expression, moving in the Spirit – these are my topics for the next ten-twelve days in the blog challenge. I want to mix it up a bit and focus on a topic that is close to my heart.

My friends know I am an avid fan of Project Runway, blogging about the lessons that I learn while watching it. I observe the extraordinary creativity that flows through the contestants. I am not as concerned about who wins, but about watching the creative process and flow.

I always try to listen to the sounds of a creative beat, so I attended an apparel design program for many years. Unfortunately, I quit the program right before I finished the last classes that were required to get the certificate. I draped, I sewed, and I sketched. I loved it. To this very day, when I look at what someone is wearing, I can take the garment apart in my own head, analyzing the pattern and structure. But, I quit. Why?

About the time I dropped out of the program was around the same time that I became a Christian. To me, the two didn’t mix in my heart or in the religious heart of the church. Fashion design seemed a bit insignificant. I sold it all – my machine, my serger, my fabric and everything else. I even used God as an excuse to people, telling them that He told me to just sell it all. You know, that suffer with Jesus routine that forms the foundation of religiosity. There is no one to blame. I made the decision. But, why?

I did the same thing in university. I wanted to go the route of the arts. My dad wanted me to do something with more substance, like teaching and nursing. So, again, because of external pressure and deep insecurity and guilt, I caved and walked into teaching. After graduation, I taught two years to discover a simple fact. I didn’t like teaching, at all.

1288452919_w30I wasted so many years, trying to be what I am not. Trying to fit in to who I am not. Then along came Rivers of Eden, our ministry. Through this ministry, I tried to do the same thing – listen to the voice of external pressure to be, fit in, conform, and follow the pack. Obviously, if you have been reading my other blogs, this definitely did not work. So, now I say “Absolutely not.”

In blogging these next ten to twelve days, I am blogging about my creative journey in Christ. Our mandate in Rivers of Eden is to BE the creative expression of Christ in the earth, today, right now; all of us diverse, unique and creative, flowing in the Holy Spirit. To this day, there are three of us on our team that are walking on a new path, creatively, outside the box and outside the walls of the institutional church. Follow me on this journey in this blog. Aren’t you sick of being templated into another person’s vision? Aren’t you tired of robotic, formed religion? I am………………..Walk this way!

Swept Out With The Current – Part 5 Living in a Hut

Swept Out With The Current Part 5 of Living in a Hut

ImageThe Palace buzzed with excitement as it prepared to host a gathering, one of its many gatherings that drew people from far and wide. Since their very reputation preceded them, the Palace knew to expect people coming from all parts of the world. They were a force to be reckoned with in Christianity. Rising to the heights of notoriety, they accepted their position among their peers with gladness. The Palace continually seemed to be gaining in momentum day by day. More conferences, more books, more exposure – more, more, and more. Like a snowball going downhill, there was no stopping them.

Yet from the woman’s perspective, they were a shadow that blocked the sun from shining into her miserable hut. The Palace proved to be an intimidating force right in her backyard. Everywhere she went people asked her similar questions.

“Have you been to the Palace? You live so close.”

“Have you read the latest book from the Palace?”

“Did you visit the Church on the Street? They are associated with the Palace.”

“I am going to the latest gathering at the Palace. Will I see you there?”

ImageThese questions frustrated her on every level. It seemed that there was no place in Christianity, at least in her country, for any way to break free or break out of the Palace formed template. As she traveled out at times into other nations, it also seemed that she was continually confronted with some form or fashion of Palace influence. There seemed to be an underlying current of thought that the Palace was THE place to be and to go. They were establishing templates in Christianity that many people wanted to fit into rather than venture out in their God given creativity and BE who God called them to be. It seemed easier, she often concluded, to be associated with what was cutting edge and going on, rather than to venture out on your own.

As she gave this careful consideration each day, she realized that she did not actually dislike the Palace. She believed that each and every one of us should freely be able to walk in our God-given destiny. But in her case, she felt that she was drowning in the shadow of the Palace. Just to BE who God called her to BE and to SEE their gaining influence often proved too much for her to handle as she consistently was comparing her life to the glimmering brilliance of the palace. She always, always fell short – at least in her eyes.

ImageThere was a growing frustration in her of being trapped. Trapped in what, you say? Trapped in a template that was formed for her by another ministry or movement rather than BE who God created her to BE. Creativity was her passion. Creativity allows people to stretch past the created templates of current Christian popularity and to go into another direction, a path laid out by Holy Spirit. Yet, when she tried to do this, many around her seemed to ignore her in her endeavors because they seemed to desire to be hooked into Palace ministries that were formed and fashioned in greater ways.

Nothing she tried, even though led by Holy Spirit, seemed to work. Nothing at all. And that is not an exaggeration. It is reality. How to deal with reality? One can only keep walking day by day and that is what the woman determined to do. Just keep walking, day by day by day. She held a vision deep inside of her, yet she was unknown. She moved creativity, yet people did not or could not see it. She tried all she knew to try and each endeavor left her with no apparent success. So that is what brought her to this very day as she sat looking out her window at the Palace from the confines of her mundane hut.

Sitting in her hut, she saw some vivid pictures in her mind that came from her prophetic imagination. It seemed that the Palace was like a grand ocean and she was standing on the shore deciding what to do. Go in or stand on the shore? As much as she did not like to admit it, in this prophetic picture playing in her mind, she ventured into the water. But rather than stand in a place created by God especially for her, she noticed that once in the water, the force of the current kept moving her farther and farther out to sea, away from her vision and purpose. Caught up in the flow, she had to do nothing but release herself to the flow and be taken where the current wanted her to go. Suddenly she jumped. The vision was so clear. The vision was so real. If she went, what would happen to her? She looked one more time around her hut. The simplicity of it all – no flare, no fashion, and no glimmer. Then she looked outside at the Palace – the gleaming light, the brilliance and the beauty.

Image“I’ll go”

And that day, something more died within her.