Posts Tagged 'Authenticity'

Becoming

By drewJanuary 4th, 2012Art, Blog, Leadership, Music Biz, WorshipNo Comments

Like life, art is both beautiful and hideous, happy and sad, light and dark.  In my opinion, the only good art is that which is true.  If art makes us feel something deep in the core of our souls, it’s because of truth, something reflected in paint, or stone, photograph or music that resonates within us is reminding us of our dreams, our love, our fear, and our pain.  When we as artists create at a level that moves people, we’ve earned the highest honor of creativity, a true reflection of Imago Dei (the Image of God).  In my experience, the most powerful expressions of art are those that come from context.

“When peace like a river attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll, whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say it is well, it is well with my soul”

Horatio Spafford penned these lyrics as his ship neared the tragic location where his 4 daughters perished only weeks before in a shipwreck. For nearly 150 years this hymn has reminded the church that in the middle of pain and brokenness, God is still there, giving us His peace that passes all understanding. I can’t imagine the loss and pain that Spafford was dealing with, but I’m glad he shared his pain and hope with us. It’s at these pivotal moments that we too should write and express our pain, questions and struggles through music or art.  As songwriters and storytellers we have to give full disclosure in what we’re walking through. As we lament or celebrate different seasons in life, we should faithfully translate the condition of our souls into tangible expressions that not only connect us to the lives and experiences of others, but helps us to heal and grow in the process.

Abstract expressionist Jackson Pollock once said: “Every good painter, paints what he is”. In other words, the finest and most sincere form of art is one that reflects who we really are, where we’ve been, or what we hope to become. The problem with much of our “Christian” music is that we’ve been too afraid to be that honest or open about who we really are and what we’re really wrestling with.  So instead of free handing the truth of our lives, we’ve begun to trace over what seems to work in our genre and sell in our bookstores or play on our radio stations.  It’s easy to fall into that trap, but my prayer for us is that we dare to create from the raw places of who we are, what God has allowed in our lives and the beauty of redemption in the gospel of Jesus. That story is worthy of nothing less than originality, risk and passion. God will use the ups and downs of the day to day to chip away at who we’ve been until He only sees who we can be.

Hebrews 6:1 (MSG) So come on, let’s leave the preschool finger painting exercises on Christ and get on with the grand work of art. Grow up in Christ.

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Transparent Leadership

By drewJanuary 7th, 2011Art, Blog, Featured, Leadership, The Church1 Comment
iStock_000013160309Small

Romans 7:17-20 (Message)

17 -20 But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time.

I’ve always loved this scripture because it makes me not feel so bad about myself.  If Paul can be this candid and blunt – totally transparent about how he struggles with his sin, than I can too.  It’s always been comforting knowing that this amazing saint was such a screw up .  Why is it then that we pastors so often come across like we know everything, like we’ve figured out this faith, and we can ‘answer any question you’d like to ask’? Whether you know it or not the world looks at us pastors and thinks we’re fake.  According to a new study on what non-Christians think about us, overwhelmingly, they think our lives and words are empty, so much so this study ended up as a book called “UnChristian”.  How did this “perfect” posture become our example to lead people in their faith journeys?  If Paul could openly write this honest confession to those he was trying to mentor in church leadership, why can’t we be transparent about who we are and how we struggle?  The world doesn’t have a problem with the fact that we make mistakes and are human, they have a problem with how we deal with those mistakes, how we hide from truth instead of humbly embracing it and dealing with our sin honestly.  Perhaps that’s how Paul was able to attract and reach so many, because he wasn’t the haughty, perfect, pious Pharisee he used to be, but instead just a broken sinner with a loving and forgiving God.

We so often live and worship as though we’re pleading with God to come near with one hand and holding Him off with the other, what’s our problem? Why is this Christian life so hard to live? Why do we sometimes feel like Paul, going crazy in the cycle of faith and fear or living holy or heathen?  Only Jesus was able to walk this line of humanity and holiness perfectly and that’s why we need Him so desperately.  He gives us the grace to own our failures and the truth to help us change. 

You may not see the inconsistency that we as Christians can so often portray but the world does, in fact if you’re a pastor – your church does. Many business books talk about leading strong, making decisions and staying the course, even if you’ve made a bad decision or regret how you’ve led, don’t show weakness, but keep your head up and keep going in the same direction. That’s not good leadership, that’s arrogance and a HUGE lack of awareness – in fact it’s sin.  People may be littered in your wake as you’ve forged ahead in your decisions to succeed, but souls lay casualties in your path from your calloused heart to the Spirit and insatiable ego to do more – Please STOP! Don’t forget that people, are your mission, not your strategy to grow or come across as in control.  And for the love, please admit your mistakes and brokenness before those you lead.  It’s what Paul did, He didn’t seem to have a problem owning his mistakes and talking about them, airing them and apologizing for them.  Let’s not try to come off as perfect or like we’ve figured out every mystery of life and the universe, but instead open our eyes and be honest about our struggles or mistakes and, like Paul, talk about it, lead with humility and transparency – brokenness, only then will the world, and your church, see the beauty and redemption in our God.

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Layers

By drewDecember 22nd, 2010Blog, Leadership, Marriage/Family, The Church, WorshipNo Comments
Pic - Layers

Remember the line from Shrek, “I’m like an onion, lots of layers?” I think that’s true for all of us.  I’ve been thinking recently about how as children we’re free – free to dance, laugh, play, trust – you name it, but each and everyday of our lives as we grow into adulthood we begin to add layers to our hearts.  I don’t think we do it intentionally, instead I think those layers begin to grow on their own to protect us in some way and before you know it, what hurt us before doesn’t hurt as badly the next time, what wounded us before comes against a tougher exterior now and we find ways to survive.  Seems like a natural way to evolve as a person, right?  Wrong! Adam and Eve started this whole layering process when they hid from God.  They ran and played and danced innocent and whole with Creator God until they bought into a lie and then they began to layer, to hide.

This is huge! This is who we are, how we respond, how we live and interact with God and everyone else.  How people experience us is based on how we’ve layered crap over our souls. God’s desire is that we “un-layer”, become pliable and transparent.  For me, I’m watching God dismantle layers over my heart, false beliefs and lies I’ve bought into, attachments even.  I long for the day that I can find my innocence again, the laughter and dance and trust of a child.  To find my relationship with Jesus like that of early Adam, walking in relationship with God – heart uncovered, vulnerable and free. It all starts with awareness.  Seeing the truth about who you are, who you’ve become and finding community with people who will help you change, people who will forcefully assist in pulling down the strongholds and back the curtain the enemy has so skillfully placed over you and the eyes of your heart.

Look for your soul, the childlike you, it’s in there behind all the years of survival, all the lies, all the scars. If you’re like me, you’re tired of settling for something less than Eden.  Jesus restores all things, and makes all things new. Now if I can just learn to dance!

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Don’t Hide, Be Hidden

By drewSeptember 3rd, 2010Blog, Featured, Marriage/FamilyNo Comments
Pic-Don't Hide

When I was a little guy, I remember getting in trouble with my parents and running to my room and hiding in the closet.  It’s not like that was the safe haven where no discipline would find me.  In fact, it was usually the place my father would find a trusty belt to remind me of why it’s good to be obedient.  The truth is, it’s in our heritage to hide.  When we’ve truly screwed up and know it, it’s only “natural” to want to remove yourself from the situation and run to some dark place where the consequences of that action hopefully won’t follow.  Unfortunately, they always do.  I say it’s in our history because even in the garden, Adam and Eve sinned, heard God walking and calling out to them and then they hid. I think the cause of this desire to run and hide is shame.  Shame, by definition is, a negative emotion that combines feelings of dishonor, unworthiness, and embarrassment.  Even at a very young age when we’re disobedient we know that our action will most likely bring some act of discipline and that’s the part we hate.  We don’t mind the sin so much, it’s more the consequences that cause us to find the nearest closet.

As we grow older the closet seems to lose it’s ability to cover and protect us and we find new places to hide.  As adults it’s easier for us to hide emotionally, to detach ourselves from the reality of our situation or sin and hide in destructive places. For men, we often retreat to the shelter of our Lazyboy, a good game on television, our work, or worse the internet.  Women can hide from reality with a good romance novel, shopping spree, or soap opera.  Our families and friends can still see us and we may even fool them enough in our churches that they think we’re doing just fine, but often our true hearts are lonely, afraid and hidden in the closet of some dark addiction instead of the transparent solace of our Father’s arms.

Psalm 139:22-24 says “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.  See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”  To make this your prayer, you’ve got to be ready to be undone, floored by God’s grace, to be completely open to His Spirit and willing to allow Him to purge you of every wrong thing.  As a worshiper, your heart should be seeking God, asking Him to look deep into the reality of who you are, to draw you out of your hiding places into His marvelous light. Know however, the wonderful irony of God is that we don’t have to hide from God when we feel guilty or shameful, but instead let Him be our hiding place.  Let His grace be the first place we run to, not from.  Our nature is to run away from God when we’ve sinned, but through Christ, God has given us a new life and a new direction.  We may now find our hiding place in God and come boldly before Him.

What exactly in your life are you hiding from God, from your spouse, or from the truth of scripture.  There is healing, and hope and help if we’ll just not run away from God to hide but instead, to hide in the shadow of His wing.  Don’t hide, be hidden.

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