Hopeful Creating

Me being “artsy” and “inspired” by my Passion Fruit Iced Tea from Sack’s in Berkeley

One of the highlights of my “job” is working in coffee shops.  (I use the term “coffee shops” to encompass a number of places that, basically, have tables and chairs that I can sit at comfortably, at-length and be outside of my apartment… WiFi, excellent background music, and tasty drinks/food are bonuses.)  Some may enjoy the cubicle/office thing and consistency and mini-fridges, but I prefer the chaos of hauling my life (my MacBook Pro and journal) on my shoulders and camping briefly in some space fashioned precisely for the thirsty/hungry nomad.  It’s also a lot of fun to be around other humans once in awhile.  I mean… my stuffed-animals and I are very close and they make great company, but even we need some breathing room every so often!

I tend to write almost all of my prayer letters from the well-worn seats of these very places (I would list some for you, but I’m afraid you’ll go there and then take up a valuable seat in these oft-crowded spaces).  And the reason isn’t that my desk/chair at home is not comfy enough or anything… but being around other humans, drinking well-sugared beverages, unusual smells, different Pandora playlists/stations, etc. all bring a surprising amount of inspiration to write–to create.

Epic has a site entirely devoted to various resources developed “in-house”–by the creative and brilliant minds of its own staff (check it out!!).  Recently they came out with a series of nine elements that describe what Epic is About.  I recommend reading all of them (the first one is here), because they are extremely well-written, thorough, and encouraging!  But recently I’ve been resonating with this one: Epic is About… Hope.  And particularly this one line: (Agh!  I know, it’s totally unfair to just highlight one part because it doesn’t nearly encompass everything that’s so awesome about the truth shared… but then this post would be EVEN LONGER–so uncool)

Hope is fueled by love to create: whether through works of art, exploring innovative solutions or possibilities, the development of people, or the shaping of a culture in which leaders can grow and thrive.  When our hearts have truly been shown a better reality than what we see around us, we cannot help but work to create that for others.

Sunday in church, the pastor shared what he called, “the theology of work:”

Genesis 1:1 (ESV) “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”

And the whole sermon was on this idea that it is in the image and character of God to create.  The first impression God gives us is that He creates–He works!  And when He makes us in His image, we also work… we also create.  And it’s not just “creative” professions (like artists, creative directors, etc.), but ALL of us… in our work/jobs/lives we image (it’s a verb!) God!

I couldn’t help but think about the “Epic is About…Hope” article as I sat in service this morning.  And even as I ponder the calling the Lord’s given me right now–which is to share of His calling on my life, His work already done on college campuses, His plan for the future, and to invite others to join in His work–one of the most poetic ways to describe what I “do for a living:” I am hopefully creating the Kingdom here with God.  

A portion of the wall above my desk–inspiration for when I don’t want to go out

And what inspires me to create, to tell stories and terrible jokes, to pursue passions… to paint, even, are the glimpses into the amazing and intricately diverse world He’s placed us in.  Those odd smells, different people and languages, great music, sweet treats that I find so wonderful at coffee shops are part of this crazy world that the Lord loves to death.  I believe what John 3:17 states: “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”  We need the variation and the weirdness and the surprises in our lives to get us out of our M.O.’s and into the infinitely good possibilities and combinations of people, talents, passions, and flaws in order to taste the Kingdom.  And we ALL participate in bringing the Kingdom to our doorsteps by bringing our full-selves (talents, passions, flaws) into our workplaces, homes, church communities, neighborhoods and cities.  Simply by doing your work (even if unemployed and even if homemaking) and doing it to the best of your God-given ability–we create the Kingdom around us.  Doing our work well reflects the image of a god who also works well!  Asking the Holy Spirit to fill you at work images God!  Even if the workplace seems so dark, God’s not far off because the Holy Spirit’s in you.  And what the pastor said so truthfully yesterday morning: “God wants to establish His Kingdom where you are.”  

This is so rambly and all-over the place.  But I hope you take your place as co-workers with God… co-creators with God… to help create the reality of a glorious Kingdom with an almighty and gracious King here in the places you work.


Too bad!

This morning I had the opportunity to lead worship at my home church, Palos Verdes Baptist, and at one point I was so overwhelmed by the words… “I don’t have time to maintain these regrets when I think about the way that He loves us…” and “His faithfulness stretches to the sky” (from the songs “How He Loves” by John Mark McMillan and “Your Love Oh Lord” by Third Day) I almost couldn’t continue singing.  In my embarrassment and immediate desire to press-on/stuff/hide how I was feeling (hooray for falling back into my “default” patterns!), I took a couple pauses to regain my composure.  But in those pauses I got to listen to the rest of the team and the congregation sing-on beyond me.  And it was even more beautiful to hear others proclaim God’s praise…that I almost completely crumpled to the floor!  Thankfully, the Lord had me finish the set and not cause any ruckus to distract people from Himself.

I’ve already started listening to Christmas music… (that’s where the “Too bad!” comes from).  And for those who don’t listen to Christmas music ever or only after Thanksgiving, I’m warning you that the video below IS a Christmas tune!  It’s on David Crowder Band’s new Christmas album called “Oh For Joy”… and it’s an audience singing my personal favorite Christmas carol: “Silent Night.”  Crowder plays and sings after the audience singing: “It started so quiet… oh what a night.”  Why do I share this with you?

  1. It’s a Christmas carol… and it’s super beautiful!
  2. I want to…
  3. Crowder found it more powerful to record others singing about the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ than just him singing it, so I do too.  I hypothesize that it’s because of that sharing nature of music (bummer Napster/music industry!  music is such a communal force and will continue to be shared) AND the sharing nature of God.  For some reason I find it so beautiful to see others experience the Lord.  Not to say I don’t value my own relationship with the Lord, but it’s SUCH a gorgeous thing to see Jesus love on another and see them respond to it.

Yeah, that’s all.  Here it is!  Enjoy!  And have a terrific Thanksgiving Weekend!!!

Silent Night – David Crowder Band “Oh For Joy”

“Be open… and God will do amazing things”

Check out Melissa–nurse, wife and partner to Epic Natl. Director Tommy, mother of Mika and Noah, and an inspired woman of God–as she shares perspective and wisdom on being a Jesus-follower in the workplace!

Truth is, more than 90% of the students we work with in Epic will go on to non-vocational-ministry jobs… but that doesn’t mean they won’t still be working for the Lord!  Melissa’s an amazing example of how to be who God’s called her to be well and how to, as she puts it, merge a heart for the Lord and for people.  I know that many of you want to do the same in your workplace, and I hope you gain some inspiration from Melissa’s story!!