Creativity Unleashed

Creativity Unleashed

When I wrote this, I was on my way back from a conference in Vegas.  I know, I know. You can rag on me later.  While in Vegas, my boss and I went to see the Vegas show, Le Reve (it’s French for “the dream”).  From the set design, to the lighting, to the costumes and choreography, this show was an amazing spectacle of human creativity and ingenuity.

I marvelled at the set design and configurations that were created within a relatively small (and confined) space.  The theater is in the round so there is no back stage or side stages to store a lot of props and set changes.  All of the stage changes have to come up from the floor (which is also a big pool) or from the ceiling.  It was astounding to see what different designs appeared out of the watery set.

There is a link, I believe, to our Creator and our capacity to be creative.  For some, it is a natural gift (much like the creators of Le Reve or other Cirque du Soleil-type shows.)  For others, it exists, but needs to be nurtured and shaped and allowed to express itself. We need creative people in our communities to serve as ambassadors and heralds not only to redeem those areas of culture, but also to show us what is possible when we dream and dare to move beyond our current thoughts and trends.

Road to CreativityCreativity spans all kinds of industries, above and beyond art and media; although, we need artists in all fields and should encourage “Christian” artists to move beyond walls of the church and seek to be missional in their art and in their sphere of influence. How can an artist share the Gospel with other artists?  How can he or she create an organic community of believers who share the same passion?  How do artists and creatives share the Gospel of Jesus in their different medium and subcultures?

What about inventors, entrepreneurs and other business creative-types?  My father-in-law has a keen knack for business and being creative in financing certain business deals.  I am amazed at how he thinks when it comes to business. I have much to learn from someone like him in the area of business creativity.  There are opportunities for people like that to teach and train others and impact the business community as well as their local communities.  What if those people formed small groups or MasterMind groups to teach and train others all the while pursuing opportunities to share the Gospel and God’s love with them?  What if they had a heart for the community and training up the next generation about the in’s and out’s of business?

While we are not all called to be creative, part of our nature comes from the Creator, and so there is within all of us the capacity to create.  Whether that’s through business, the arts, education, or ministry, let us seek the author of creativity as we also seek to glorify Him in each of our areas of calling.

Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.  (Isaiah 40:28)

 

Our Lives as Mission

Our Lives as Mission

I like compartments. It makes it easier to organize my life. I used to have a lot of them. A compartment for work. One for my family. Another one for church and faith. They were nice and neat until Jesus started mixing them. How dare he!

That’s like someone coming over to your plate while you’re eating and mixing up your peas and mashed potatoes. Some of you might like mixing those two foods. I, however, do not. I like them nicely separated. Much like I like my life separated. My work from home. My faith from work. It makes it nice and neat. Otherwise, life could get messy.

Then again, when is life not messy? The harder I try to control it, the messier it seems to get. But when I give up control, that’s when the real adventure begins.

Lines start to blur as Jesus integrates our lives into a holistic exchange between Him, us, and others. They begin to blur as we start to see church as who we are not merely where we go on the weekend. And they blur even more when we realize that our lives are worship and our work (wherever we are) is to be on God’s mission as we move through our daily lives.

Walls start coming down. Bridges begin to be built. We start seeing simple things we do as an opportunity to worship our Creator. We begin living as the church, not merely attending one for an hour or two a week.

Then Jesus begins to speak to us and the lines get even more blurry and more bridges begin to be erected and we start living (and loving) the Spirit-led life that continually guides and directs us no matter where we find ourselves.

We start doing crazy things like praying for others, believing that God will answer our prayers and quitting jobs to step out on faith without knowing exactly where we’ll land. (For our crazy adventure like that check out my earlier post called “Crossing the Tracks“).

(Before you go out and quit your job make sure it’s God speaking and not you! And please don’t tell your spouse I told you to quit!)

Now I have no compartments. Believe me, I try to make them again every once in a while, but Jesus just looks at me now and I simply throw them away (sometimes even without a tantrum). Life is beautiful and adventurous and I wouldn’t have it any other way. But, please, just don’t go messing with my peas and mashed potatoes.

Glenwood Prayer Update (new requests added)

For those of you following our Glenwood Outreach, Mike and I went to Glenwood the last 2  Sundays and had really good conversations with several of the residents. We got some good information as far as ways that we can help out, but we will need some help making connections. What follows are prayer requests and ways that we can continue to help the residents (and possibly ways for you to get involved). We are going to create a survey this week and contacting Becky, the apartment manager, to make sure she’s okay with us using it with residents.  Our whole goal of being involved with these people is to not assume what they need, but to really listen to them as far as their true needs.  We also will make sure we can use the clubhouse one night a week for a women’s Bible Study.

PRAYER REQUESTS

*New*

James – (apt. 515) – James wife has left him recently.  There are 6 kids in the picture (4 of them are theirs).  James definitely knows the Word.  He was quoting Scripture while we were talking with him.  He is open to being part of a men’s group and definitely needed some encouragement, but he seems to be doing okay.  We are praying for reconciliation with his wife and strength for him and his children.  We are also praying that Christ would guard his heart and mind and the hearts and minds of his children.  They are living with their mother, and it is not a good situation.

Erika (apt. 425) – Erika recently got her car totalled by a drunk driver.  She’s okay, although she did injure her ankle and is supposed to be on crutches.  The car is owned by  someone else, so she has to get a power of attorney to get the money to buy a new one.  We are praying that she is able to do this quickly, and that her ankle heals supernaturally quick.  She has also been struggling with anxiety, so we are praying Philippians 4:6-7 over her and that the peace of Christ would guard her heart and mind.

*Last Sunday*

Shontiel – (apt. 212 ) – she said that the biggest need right now for her and her friends are car problems and auto maintenance (her mechanic says she probably needs another car, and that it will cost more to fix than what it’s worth. We need to pray for a new car for her! – She also told us that Kristen is having car issues as well, which we’ve known about but need to help her get fixed (I don’t remember what’s wrong) – She thinks a Single mom’s ministry would be helpful for encouraging and connecting the women in Glenwood apts. and a mentor program for young boys – to connect them with consistent adult male relationships.

Rachel (apt. 717) – the AC on her car is out and needs $700 or so to get it fixed. She’s still working part time but has also applied for a FT job – let’s pray that she gets it! – She also said a mid-week Bible study would be helpful – she doesn’t know any other single moms in the apt. community. She attends Cowboy Church.

Abuk -(apt. 313) – please pray for encouragement for her. She is experiencing a lot of doubt. (Praise) – She found a tutor at AC that is going to help her prepare for her next (and final) time she can take the test to get into the LVN program. She also mentioned that gas was a big expense.

Paco – (apt. ?) – Mike and I met Paco as we were leaving. He works as a security guard and was about to leave when we saw him by the pool. From our brief conversation, he seemed to be a believer, but also let us know about a young man, James, in Building 5 that needed some encouragement. His wife has left him (James) recently and Paco said James was struggling. Mike and I plan to go back sometime this week and try to visit with him.

Manny and Veronica -(apt. 625)- I briefly talked to Manny, Veronica, and Fredarius. They were leaving to go to a family cookout. I had been praying this week that I would run into him, so go God! I asked if it would be alright if I stopped by sometime and visited with him and he said yes. So, let’s pray that God will arrange that encounter!

– Please pray with us that we will not enable these residents but empower them. We do not necessarily just want to give them everything for free, but we want them to contribute some so that they feel empowered as a person as well as helped.

Biggest Needs at Glenwood

– Automotive help for several single moms (If anyone has any connections, please let me know)

– Bible study for moms and a woman to step up and lead it.

– Gas cards (maybe offer them at a discount to residents – Glenwood groupon idea)

– Mentor program for youth

Upcoming Events

Last week of June – Mission Amarillo Group to Glenwood & Glenwood Community Block Party

Weekly visits with residents

If you would like to contribute to our cause or learn more about our ministry teams, please contact Will at ratlif.will@gmail.com.

The Church: Sent

When God moved us out of full-time vocational ministry and into a high school, I had no idea how messy some aspects of our ministry would be.  Our first year we focused on building relationships in the community and adjusting to a new job.  We got involved with a local apartment community and helped with a local back-to-school outreach and Christmas outreach.

Now, three years later, our most recent endeavor, though, has put us into closer contact with the people we’re trying to serve.  And it’s gotten messy…really messy.  We are dealing with people who have great need and little support.

– Single moms raising multiple children and cars that need constant repairs. Those same single moms are working, going to school to try to improve their lives (and the lives of their children), and are spread so thin that they have no time for themselves.

– Children running around their apartment complex with little supervision and little direction for their lives.  Fathers are absent from much of this community.

– People struggling with addictions and life-altering decisions (and those that love them trying to guide them to the right path.  Sometimes it works; sometimes it does not.)

And much, much more that I’m sure we haven’t even begun to scratch the surface.  But one thing I know and am convinced of…

Our presence is needed.  Because our desire is, no matter what the circumstance, to point them to Jesus.  Only He can save.  Only He can restore.  Only He can heal.  We cannot save them.  But we can be there to point them to the only one who can.

If we’re not there, will God call someone else to go? I’m sure he would.  But what happens to all these people in the meantime?  If God calls us to share His love, His grace, and His mercy, then what are we waiting for?

There are people in your neighborhood, probably even on your block, that need the same thing that these people need:  for someone to show them God’s love.  They need to see God’s mercy and forgiveness extended to them in tangible ways.  There are people all around us who are hurting and searching for the truth.  God wants you to point them to Christ and show them mercy.

Romans 10:14 says, “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?”

We are called to be those “preachers” to those around us.  Not to preach at them, but to live the gospel and proclaim the gospel in a way that draws them to Jesus.

Not sure how?  Here’s a great blog post from The Verge Network with some ideas  10 Simple Ways to be Missional.  Then, get out there and start preaching!

 

When is a church a church?

This is a re-post of a blog article that I wrote  a couple of years ago.  It’s amazing how pertinent this subject and these questions still are for those of us in ministry and seeking a foundational change in the way that we define and “do” church.

A friend of mine sent me this blog post on church planting yesterday. It’s by far one of the most exciting and challenging articles I’ve read in recent months. It challenges a lot of my perceptions and assumptions about church planting, church leadership, and my definition of “church”.  God has really been stretching and growing me personally in so many ways and with so many of my assumptions where “church” and spiritual life and leadership are concerned. It’s also been helpful that I’ve been teaching a New Testament Survey class to several high schoolers at a local high school. It helps to contextualize the areas where God has been challenging me while I’m teaching others what the Bible says about those very things.

Click here for the post.

Questions to think about as and after you read this article:

1.) How would you define church? What are its core characteristics?

2.) How would you have answered this young couple’s questions? (i.e., Would you have discouraged them from continuing because they were not “trained” or “experienced” enough?  Would you have set a “leader” or “pastor” over them because you felt like they needed additional leadership or traning?)

3.) When is a group of people a church? How often should they meet?  What should happen as part of their gathering?

For further reading, see 1 Corinthians 12-14; Acts 2:42-46.  Also see Neil Cole’s book, Organic Church.