Creativity is Messy

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Give a small child a colouring book, a pack of crayons and two minutes and you’ll soon witness what creativity looks like. The crayon package is empty, its contents spread out on the table and floor, several are broken or half eaten and numerous pages of the book are colourfully enhanced. Despite the messiness, the pictures created by the child are quickly turned into masterpieces fit for the refrigerators of the world for all to see and admire — at least the refrigerators of parents and grandparents.

Just like children creating Crayola works of art, messiness is inevitable for the artist who is gifted or perhaps burdened with the high calling of creativity. When the artistic mind is fully functioning, paint gets spilled, pots and pans fill the sink, fabric is scattered around the room and sawdust fills the air — creativity is messy.

Whether it’s an artist like Mike Lewis who uses brushes and hands to paint amazing portraits of Christ or a writer like my friend Randy Elrod who chooses pen and parchment (or perhaps a Macbook) to paint vivid word pictures, the creation of art is very messy — because life is very messy. Of course the messiness of art doesn’t necessarily have to create chaos in one’s creative space, however more often than not art is created via the messiness of the internal workings of the human heart and soul.

Songwriters often write from personal experiences of heartache and pain. A lost love, a messy breakup or a difficult childhood — messiness is everywhere. Some of the greatest painters in history were tortured souls and yet through their pain, we who gaze upon their visual giftedness have been the beneficiaries of a remarkable feast for the eyes.

When we think about the creation of the universe by the Master Builder, we might ask how such intricate beauty could spawn such messiness that has so plagued humanity? The answer is neither clear nor appealing — from the perfection of the Genesis narrative to the chaos of brother killing brother we see that creativity is very messy. In spite of God’s plan to create a perfect Eden, man, through deception and lust, not only coloured outside the lines of that perfection, but also threw His crayons on the ground and trampled them to pieces.

The good news for us is that God did not leave us without crayons —  He did not leave us in the mess of our brokenness — He made a way for us to escape the messiness and gave us a second chance at enjoying the beauty of Eden once again. The way He would accomplish this was through His son, Jesus!

One of my favourite bible stories is found in the 4th chapter of John’s gospel where Jesus encounters a Samaritan woman at a well seeking fresh water. I love this story because it is so real and normal for me. Jesus knows this woman needs a fresh start, He knows she has had a tough life — He knows her beginning-to-end life story of heartbreak and marital disfunction. Her messiness is obvious to Jesus, yet He doesn’t write her off as a lost cause, instead he offers her living water and a new start. Her life was rewritten; she was recreated by an encounter with Jesus!

So what does this story have to do with creativity and child’s play you might ask? If you read the Old and New Testament as one story, you will soon see that God has been very creative throughout history to create a new world for us through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In the midst of the messiness of God’s creativity, we become His works of art. The Apostle Paul affirms this in 2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV): “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ — refreshed by His life-giving water — he is a new creation — worthy of being displayed on God’s fridge — the old has passed away — the mess has been cleared — behold, the new has come — you’re back in the perfection of Eden.”

Creativity is messy but when the work is finished the art — that is you — is quite simply beautiful!

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

 

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June 28/15 Worship Recap

 

This Sunday at NMBC we started a new summer series based on selected verses from the book of Proverbs. Pastor Daniel challenged us all to be like “cracked pots” that leak refreshment to others, and as we refresh others, we too, will be refreshed!  

Here’s a look at the setlist and crew this past week:

The Band & Crew:

  • Mark – Lead Guitar
  • Chris – Drums
  • Rick – Bass
  • Gina – Keys
  • Celeste & Rae – Vocals
  • Paul – Acoustic & Lead Vocal
  • Lex – Lighting & Video
  • Pete – Media
  • Paul – Audio

Father’s Day Recap

There are moments in the life of a church when all you can say is “YES”! Today was one of those times! The church was completely packed for Father’s Day, the band was awesome, and the preaching was so powerful!

Pastor Daniel spoke from Joshua 24 about the nation of Israel saying they would serve God alone. Yet Joshua told they they couldn’t do it, unless they gave up their idol worship and pledged themselves to the one true God and Him alone. As men of faith, we were challenged to pledge ourselves afresh to God and to be the men God created us to be…God’s A-Men!

We closed out the day with a song by Tim Neufeld called I’m Free! We had over 30 guys (The A-Men Choir) singing out with all they had and it was a blast! Here’s the setlist and crew for today:

Setlist:

GreaterMercy Me, Open Up the Heavens Vertical Church Band, Build Your Kingdom Here Rend Collective, I Sing the Mighty Power – traditional hymn, Dreamers of Your DreamsNoel Richards, I’m FreeTim Neufeld

The Band:

Fisher – keys & vocals, Peter – lead guitar, Lyle – bass, Nate – drums, James – vocals, Me – acoustic & vocals. With the choir song we also had Mark on Banjo and Danny on harmonica.

Tech Crew:

Richard – audio, Tjeerd – media, Carson – lighting

A Lot Like Jesus

   How many times have you heard someone say of a child “she looks just like her mom!” or “he’s the spitting image of his dad!” I think most times that’s meant to be a compliment. Recently my mother said when she sees me leading worship I remind her of my older brother Barry who passed away many years ago. I guess when I look in the mirror I can see some family resemblance. 

As followers of Jesus, we should receive the same comment when people come in contact with us. We should hear the words “he’s like Jesus” or “I can see Jesus in her!”

That’s who we should be like, but often times we are nothing like Jesus. 

He loved everyone, no matter what; we love while looking for something in return. He hung around the worst sort of sinners; we shun them or even worse call the police. He forgave those who beat Him and ultimately put Him to death; we hold grudges for years waiting for the other person to make the first move.

How crazy is it that we say we want others to have a relationship with Jesus, like we say we do, because He is so good and He saved us from our sin! Yet we walk around like someone just ran over our family pet or like we just ate something that didn’t agree with us. I’ve gotta say, that’s not very convincing or appealing to people who really need to hear the Good News! 

Good news should bring a smile, don’t you think?

Jesus said we are to love God and love others…as ourselves. Maybe that’s our problem, we don’t even like ourselves. It’s hard to love others when you look in the mirror and don’t like what you see. The reflection of the person we do see is often bitter because life didn’t pan out the way we’d imagined it would. 

It’s so easy to look back and say “what if” I went to a different college then maybe I’d have a better job? Or “what if” my parents hadn’t been so hard on me, then maybe I might not be so hard on my own kids? “What if” I’d made better choices, then I wouldn’t be in this predicament today? “What if” is a phrase that reeks of regret! 

Regret. Just. Plain. Stinks! 

This past year I decided that I would not live with regrets. I made up my mind to risk more, not in a bonehead kind of way like risking our retirement fund on some crazy scheme. But through prayer and perseverance I am determined to not take the safe and easy road just because it’s safe and easy.

Too often we shy away from risk in favour of embracing what is safe and comfortable. Jesus reminds us in Matthew 5:13 that we are to be like salt in this world. Salt adds flavour. I don’t know about you but I’ll go for flavour over bland any day!

That may have seemed like a rabbit trail, but stay with me a little longer. When we are more like Jesus, salty and not playing it safe, we are more like Him and less like others. We are less like we used to be. Of course we are still fallen creatures who still have a propensity to do and say the complete opposite of Jesus, yet when we keep following in the footsteps of the One whom we most reflect, I’m confident we’ll hear people say “hey man, you’re a lot like Jesus!” 

That’s what I want to hear! What about you? As image bearers of the Most High God, let’s make sure people see Him when they see us!

Chime in…I’d love to hear your thoughts!

WorshipSet 06/07/15

 

 

Another great day at NMBC! I love when the church comes together to worship our great God, reflect on the divinity of Jesus and share in remembrance of His sacrifice for all, once for all!

Today was also bitter sweet as we say farewell to one of our drummers. Cory has been with us since he was twelve and next weekend will get married to a very special girl whom we also will miss. Sydney has blessed us over and over with her violin! But I’m so happy for them and look forward to God’s call on their life together!

Today’s setlist:

  1. Let Everything That Has Breath – Matt Redman
  2. You’re Worthy of My Praise – David Ruis
  3. You Allone – NCC Worship
  4. Jesus Paid it All – Kristian Stanfill
  5. The Wonderful Cross – Chris Tomlin

The Band & Crew:

  1. Cory – Drums
  2. Rick – Bass
  3. Peter – Lead Guitar
  4. Gina – Piano
  5. James – Vocal
  6. Kira – Vocal
  7. Me – Lead Vocal & Guitars
  8. Richard – Audio
  9. Pete – Media
  10. Jeremy – Lights & Camera

Worship Recap

 

 It finally feels like Spring! The temps are higher, the sun is brighter and the snow banks are giving way to the birth of flowers and grass! New birth is what we are celebrating as a church family; 3 new babies born in 7 days and more to come! Simply exciting!

As we celebrate new birth, we also morn with others who have said goodbye to loved ones. But we also share in the hope that one day we will be reunited in God’s glorious presence!

As a creative arts team, we said a fond farewell to two of our students who are soon graduating and moving away to pursue their chosen vocations! We’ll miss you Ann-Marie & Nicole!!

Today’s theme was from John 8:12-20, “I am the light of the world.” We featured songs by Vertical Church Band, Hillsong, Rend Collective, The City Harmonic and rounded out the setlist with a familiar hymn.

Setlist: Light Shine In, Endless Light, My Ligjthouse, A City on a Hill, May the Mind of Christ My Saviour 

The Band: Mark – lead guitar; Nate – drums; Zack – bass; Nicole – keys; Chris – synth; Ann-Marie & James – vocals; me – acoustic & vocals

Tech Crew: Paul – audio; Stephen – media & podcast recording; Carson – lighting & video recording

How was your Sunday? Chime in at The Worship Comminity!

Mondays & Fridays

imagesI know there’s nothing really special about Fridays. For me a Friday is almost the same as a Monday! No, really it is. The only difference is I have Mondays off and Fridays I work. Both days feel generally the same. On Fridays I finish the media for Sunday services at our church and then I often go to my favourite coffee shop, JustUs, where I’ll spend an hour or so (the “or so” could stretch into two or three hours) sipping a medium roast brew from my NYC Starbucks travel mug and do a little four finger typing on my Mac. You may also find me at that same coffee shop on Mondays enjoying the company of strangers while reading the Psalms, and of course, drinking from the same travel mug.

Mondays are special because I can spend the day doing whatever I wish. I might watch a movie, do laundry, sit and veg out with Twitter & Facebook while watching reruns of M.A.S.H., or I might just hop in the car and head to a local coffee shop. It really doesn’t matter to me if the day is not overly productive – that’s why they call it a day off and I need to unwind from our usual busy weekends!

Fridays are special, too. Not only because it signals the end of a crazy work week, but there’s just something relaxing about Fridays. I can’t pinpoint what makes a Friday so good, but I think it has something to do with the fact that Saturday is fast approaching and that means time with my family – my job as a pastor is put on hold (if that’s even possible) for a few hours. You could say my life is a bit predictable and perhaps boring, but I like predictability – like I know Mondays and Fridays will be good days filled with coffee, reflection, and  a sense of wholeness . And as for boring, life is never boring because it is always filled with Mondays and Fridays!

But then again, I like Wednesdays too!