Friday, February 14, 2014

Some Short Thoughts On Love and 1 Corinthians 13

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
-1 Corinthians 13:7

Valentines day is upon us. A day in which both married couples and dating couples celebrate the love and romance that they have found in each other. As a single person, I have spent many a year bemoaning the fact that I didn’t have a girlfriend. Pathetic yes I know, but I couldn’t help myself.

Lately though, God has been challenging and teaching me about just what loving another person really involves. It is not just about what you do or say when you are having the warm fuzzy feelings towards that special someone, it is also about how you act and what your heart does when you are angry at, hurt by and all out frustrated by, that person.

This is why Paul tells us in the verse above that love “bears all things…endures all things.” This means that if I genuinely love someone, not just like, and not just infatuated with, I will not run when things get tough and the “rubber meets the road” as the old expression goes. It means that I am required to forgive my future wife when she hurts me, be patient with her when she is upset and angry with me, and commit to work it out with her.

The first three chapters of Hosea show us this in an extreme form. God tells Hosea to marry a prostitute named Gomer, as an illustration of how He loves the nation of Israel despite their worship of other gods. Hosea marries Gomer and then must go after her when she goes back to her old ways of selling her body. Hosea never gives up on Gomer and loves her unconditionally. It may be one of the most powerful examples of what true love looks like in the Bible, and functions as an allegory for how much God loves us.

True love is only true if it stirs in our hearts a desire to sacrifice for the better of the person we love, putting our own needs and desires aside and placing their needs ahead of ours. True love then, is always selfless and never selfish.  It means that you trust that person deeply and completely.

This is why getting married is probably one of the top two most important decisions any of us will make in our entire lives. So as my thoughts tonight are very brief I will sum things up this way: if you are married tonight and reading this, allow yourself to be challenged by Paul’s words to remember each and every day that your marriage is not about you, it is about how you sacrifice for your spouse. If you are like me, single, or in a dating relationship at the moment, allow Paul’s words to prepare you for your decision one day about whom you marry. Ask yourself, is this a person I can see myself laying my own will and desires down for on a daily basis?

I can tell you that I have been challenged to look at things a lot differently lately because of this passage in 1 Corinthians 13, and I hope you will allow it to do the same for you. Ultimately then, Valentines Day is about sacrificial love, and the way in which we demonstrate that love to other people. May you love well, not only today, but every day for the rest of your time on earth. 

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

On Creativity And Its Many Forms: A Treatise

Every have one of those times were you feel like you want to do something that shows your creativity and keen sense of insight into life , yet you find yourself at a loss for where to begin? Ever have one of those nights where you don’t have any plans and are just resting, yet feeling like doing something, anything, but you don’t know just what it is you want to do?

I call this ‘artistic restlessness’ but in all reality all it really is, is a form of writer’s block. We all will experience this at some point because I believe God has given each and every one of us a drive to be creative. That is right, because each and every one of us bears the mark of our creator. After all, in Genesis 1:27 we are told that God created us ‘in His own image” and when one considers the fact that God did this after spending nearly six days being creative with the whole world, I have to believe this means He meant for us to be creative too.

This is where things get interesting. If you are in any way like me, you think of creativity being expressed in the forms of artistic talent, namely being able to draw, paint, carve, mold, or stitch in a way that is beautiful and at times lifelike. Perhaps you also like me, think it is expressed in musical form, or being able to sing, play and instrument or compose on an instrument or all three as being a chief form of artistic talent.

Here is the truth that God has been showing me lately though: these are talents, make no mistake, but they are not the ONLY talents He gives his children when He created us before we were born.

There are many artistic talents folks. For instance, having an eye for capturing a canvas before one’s eye in the form of photograph is an art. There is so much that goes into taking a good photo. You have to think about light exposure, time exposure, and things like framing a shot and a whole bunch of other things that to be honest I know almost nothing about. Yet, there a folks who naturally are able to do such things and snap photos that upon viewing leaving us breathless in amazement.

Storytelling I am told, is an art form as well. It is not every person that can draw you into a story the moment they open their mouth. You know a good storyteller when you meet one. What makes them so good? Well from my experience, they know how to use descriptive phrases and words with ease that stimulate your imagination to the point that you can be there watching what they are describing unfold in your mind’s eye.

Teaching is an art. Yes, in many ways there is science behind it, and methods are good and all, but deep down, each person whether they are a young child, or an elder, learns a little differently. That is where the art comes in. No one person can learn in the same way, and a good teacher can navigate through all kinds of style, finesse and form, to communicate effectively what they are trying to plant inside of a fellow humans mind. Some people learn through visual stimulation, others through hearing, and others through hands on activity, and almost any combination of the above.
Scrapbooking is another form of expression that is artistic. Taking memories that are captured through photos and finding a way to tell a story with them is not something just anyone can do. Think about this, look through a set of photos from a family vacation with no one from the family around to narrate what each photo is capturing. Doesn’t really communicate much does it? Then look through a scrapbook of a family vacation with no one from the family around to narrate and you will get a fuller story. Why? Because there are all kinds of notes, stickers, and backgrounds to enhance the experience and tell you the story behind each photo! That is art!

Similar to photography, cinematography is another form of creativity. Think about movies for a minute. How often does the way in which the angles of each shot help set the mood for a scene? How about the use of shadow, light, color, blurring, fade in, fade out or anything else I may be forgetting. All of this helps tell a story through non verbal communication. That is a gift that not just anyone has, and yes, it is art!

There are many, many more form of artistic creation that I know I haven’t covered, but hopefully you will think a bit differently about labeling someone ‘artistic’ or ‘not artistic’ from now on. Remember, as I said earlier we are all made in God’s image, and God is incredibly creative after all how else do explain the Duck Billed Platypus or the Kiwi Bird?