Fequencies

How many radio signals are going through our bodies RIGHT NOW at this moment?

GPS satellites are beaming down location signals. Other satellites are beaming television channels or communications. The ISS space station is sending tons of data, and the Hubble telescope and everything else transmitting FROM SPACE. Then, you have every mobile phone that is talking to the nearby cellular towers and those signals are going through our bodies. Add to that every WiFi device in range is sending its signals through your body to the router. Then you have handheld radios (CB/walkie talkies, etc.) Bluetooth signals, terrestrial radio stations beaming music, news, talk, etc. How about radar signals? The weather service and the TV stations are beaming weather radar, the airports and the military are beaming location radars… and on and on.

So RIGHT NOW AT THIS INSTANT, there are just tons of radio signals not just around us BUT GOING THROUGH US. In and out of our bodies and not only do we not perceive it, but we rarely even think about it.

God speaks to us all the time, every moment. Sometimes we pay attention.

God speaks to us through everything we perceive. Sometimes we get it.

God is speaking to us at all times on a spiritual frequency that we can tune in on.

PLUS, God is speaking at all times on an infinite number of other frequencies that we cannot perceive.

With me so far?

So if this is true, then we must be careful not to quickly discard something as not of God or not good simply because it is not on the frequency we have, or we aren’t versatile or mature enough in our perception of God to see Him in it. Spiritual maturity begins to see God in EVERYTHING.

Therefore, I would submit that perhaps in my circle of charismatic or “Spirit-filled” believers (this term Spirit-filled can be a bit offensive to other believers, if you think about it), we use this word ‘anointing’ quite a bit, and it might be producing an unhealthy attitude without us intending to or even realizing.

Consider that we might say “that service was so anointed”, or “the worship today was so anointed.” What we are really doing is applying a word that seems spiritual instead of just expressing our preference – or more specifically, the frequency we are tuning into. But this use of the word has a subtle but devastating backlash; now some things are ‘anointed’ and thus other things are not.

Consider the ‘anointed’ preacher to the ‘anointed’ teaching – what we are trying to say is that these things struck us, impacted us, the frequency resonated within us. But the implications are now that some other preacher or teaching is somehow not anointed, or that there is some sliding scale where something can be more anointed or less anointed. If you are reading this and you have a teaching entitled ’10 ways to increase the anointing in your life’, I imagine you are listening to a different frequency than I am. I don’t see a metric to measure it nor a ladder where one is placed on a rung according to the level of one’s anointing.

My biggest concern at this stage is that this will create a two-tier system; those people and things that ARE anointed and thus other people that are not. And this is just not true. It’s a transactional judgement that makes us sound more spiritual instead of a relational understanding that God is speaking all the time, and we don’t always catch what He is doing or saying. And it subconsciously keeps us from moving forward and creating because obviously we aren’t ‘anointed’ like those other people are.

Anointed means to have been poured with oil to denote an ascendancy into a position, but more specifically it means ‘God’s blessings on your gifts.” We ALL have gifts. We all have been blessed by God with these gifts and through these gifts.

The big lack I see is failing to intentionally grow in the gifts that God has given you. It’s a VERY spiritual thing to take the anointed gifts that God has placed in YOU and to sow into them, grow them, and engage the process He intends for you. But I’m not so sure that you will ‘increase your anointing’, nor do you necessarily need to.

But growing in your gifts? That’s an act of worship.

Taking something that doesn’t resonate with you immediately and looking and finding something of God in it? That’s an act of worship.

Encouraging someone in Christ in their gifts even if they seem meager compared to another’s? That’s an act of worship.

Let’s keep in mind that we can’t always perceive what God is saying or doing, but He is ALWAYS saying and doing. And instead of saying something that has life in it for us is ‘anointed’, perhaps we should go back and see what God is actually saying and doing through all that stuff that wasn’t.

Consider…

Cultural blindness is stunting. It is an art killer, a block to maturity. It is a certain kind of arrogance and it can damage relationships and generations. See below for what I think we can do about it.

Consider that I am writing this primarily to people in English-speaking Western societies. You might likely be involved in Christianity in some way, and odds are you are in engaged in the arts or in ministry. Thus, we have a common language and mindset that the above things largely influence. But there are so many other ways of thinking, of living, of walking in LIFE!

Consider that much of British culture tends to emphasize a core value of not getting ahead of the crowd. Sometimes accomplishments are derided, originality is discouraged, and most are soft spoken, in contrast to their American counterparts where success is lauded, individuality is celebrated, and Americans seem like they are loud, a bit arrogant, oftentimes comparatively rude in interrupting. Neither is right or wrong, but the cultural lens we see through can cause much misunderstand and disconnection.

Consider when white missionaries first went to Native American peoples. Pushing white cultural norms and values in the name of spiritual purity caused so much pain and strife in Indian hearts, that many today associate Christianity with dishonor and insensitivity at best, and the American Holocaust done in the name of Jesus at worst.

Consider when a composer of classical symphonies who spends hours each day crafting incredibly detailed nuances on a large scale interacts with a jazz musician, or even more— a church musician from the camp that “just flows”. On the classical composer side, she could despise the lack of sophisticated expressions, the sloppiness and lack of musicianship, etc. And on the “just flow” musician side, they might ridicule the use of written notated music, decide that the other is less spiritual and doesn’t get it, and see little or no use for the composer’s way of thinking to inform church or worship or even the Kingdom.

Consider that both of these musicians suffer from the pride of cultural blindness, for when the classical composer can move into improvising and conscious spontaneous worship, this will not only give her a new outlet of expression but will also inform and grow her composing side. And when the ‘just flow’ musician can learn to read music, tune his ear into more advanced harmonic and rhythmic ideas and so forth, suddenly the “just flow” expressions become deeper and more sophisticated, and perhaps a composed song might emerge out of the process.

Consider that cultural blindness affects everything – we value gathering together as a corporate Body to worship but forget that living a solitary monk’s quiet existence is just as valuable. We tend to save singing only for those that “have a good voice” when other tribal cultures don’t even have a concept for the word ‘singing’ because in their culture everybody sings constantly all the time, in the way they interact and in day-to-day life. The word ‘life’ and the word ‘singing’ would be interchangeable in their culture.

Consider even our cultural approach to prayer, when we gather together or alone. Mother Teresa was asked “You pray so much; what do you say to God?” Her reply was, “not much really, I mostly listen.” Then she was asked “So then, what does God say when you pray?” And she said “not much really, He mostly listens.” This quiet focus and attention without words is almost anathema to our current Christian culture.

Consider that when you read the above examples, it might strike you as interesting for a moment, but ultimately it becomes novelty – a thought not quite formulated that says “Oh, wow! How different people are!” But I would submit to you that CONSCIOUSLY seeking out other mindsets, trying to see things through their eyes would not only be fun and novel, but would GREATLY enrich our own lives and expressions.

Consider seeking out the unfamiliar, wallow in the mindset and core values of the OTHER, look for where your thinking has fallen into a rut, and look for ways to engage another cultural mindset for the purpose of learning something, not just being entertained by the novelty.

Stop being afraid

Stop being afraid.

Stop being afraid of the demons, of the future. Stop being afraid of new things. Stop being afraid to try.

That new business, that new riff. Try the new approach or perhaps ruffle some feathers. Be more vulnerable and trust more… then forgive more…

Stop being afraid to question the truth you’ve been told; if it’s true, it will show itself. Stop being afraid of judgement, of not being enough.

Stop being afraid of the pain; it will be worth it in the end. Stop being afraid of those of less or of more stature than yourself.

Stop being afraid of the criticism of people, and become immune to the praise of people.

The prophets say it, the angels say it (before they say anything else), even Jesus Himself says: fear not.

Stop being afraid, and be WHO YOU REALLY ARE.

Words are good for the heart

Words. Words are super important at times, and empty, meaningless distractions at other times. (Ecc 6:11, if you are so inclined…)

Many times a concept comes forth and a “buzzword” results. Everybody’s talking about it, and we all feel a bit hipper because we do.

But today, I realize much of the reason I’m not in the organizational structure of a church or ministry, is that the classic definition of the words “pastor” or even “leader” has never quite gelled with my inner stance. Sometimes, “spiritual father” fits, but not in every situation, for sure.

But lately, this buzzword “influencer” is going around. And that feels right. For the first time, it feels right.

I want to be an influencer. I want to bring good things to others, but I don’t need you to “follow” me; I want you to follow Christ.

I want to help folks see different points of view, help them grow and mature, as I do the same in my own life.

I want to give freedom and permission for folks to take off and fly into the fullness of who they were meant to be; NOT to be like me, but to become the fullness of who THEY are, in Christ.

I’ve been called a Christian leader, a pastor, an apostle, a prophet. Some see me as a mentor or spiritual father, others see me as a jazz piano player or other type of eccentric musician whom they have no use for in their rock ‘n’ roll bands.

But this word influencer? I like it. Not sure if it goes on the business card, but maybe clarifies for me a few things.

It’s a season to discard fear and try new things. It’s time to step forward, knowing that a toe stubbing is possible, but the pain of standing still will be worse. It’s a time to find out WHY you believe what you believe, why those who told you what you believe came by their beliefs, to strengthen your foundation.

It’s the season to ask “Why?” and “What if?”. It’s the season for the artist in each of you to poke it’s head out and ask “how about now? why not now?”…… “so, now?”….

You be you… With Me.

In the Christian faith, we all start out as children, and without ever losing our child-likeness, we should grow into maturity. We all start as servants, and without ever losing our servanthood heart, we are designed to grow into Sons and Daughters.

In today’s typical corporate worship settings, we see a microcosm of the church (and western society, for that matter) as a whole, specifically the aspect that certain people have the special “gift” and the rest of us are to consume and support them. So, a few artists create, are encouraged to write new songs and are handsomely rewarded for it. Then, the rest of us are strongly encouraged to copy them in order to serve the service.

Unfortunately, this breeds a value towards artistic immaturity and success is equated with one’s skill at imitation, rather than innovation. When the entire culture embraces this, well… most of us see that we can totally worship with modern worship songs in church, but it is, by and large, artistically stale. We are reaping what has been sown.

An aspect of good musicianship in fulfilling a role, is an aspect of servanthood, specifically a tradesman, exercising his skill in service to those in authority. On top of this we should be aiming for MATURE ARTISTRY. This not only finds a way to fully express its voice within the parameters of the service or gig, but also grows as the artist’s Voice develops, into co-creating with the Holy Spirit.

I serve the service and the gig all the time; nothing wrong it and everything right with it. But until a revelation comes to the government of the church of how to father and nurture the artists within her and grow them into maturity, we will mostly be fulfilling the directive “Be like this…” – and not really growing.
I maintain that a higher level of walking with Him is answering His call: “You be you…. with me.” – and growing within it…

Lifestyle of Questions

 

“The only stupid question is the one you don’t ask!”

I have repeated this over and over again to my students. This means there ARE NO stupid questions. It is actually SMART to ask a question. It is an indicator of intelligence and purpose when you ask questions!

In contrast, I will admit that there are SILLY questions, such as my wife asking me, “Do you want a donut?” Of COURSE I want a donut, what a silly question!  

But I digress. Questions are SO important. A question implies desire, a hunger on the part of the questioner. The person receiving the question is then challenged in their assumptions, properly tested on their knowledge in a way that causes the receiver to grow in their own way. The answer hopefully causes the asker to grow in their way, as well.

Artistic maturity CONSCIOUSLY asks questions about everything, and the path of exploring the questions and answers is revealed in one’s art.  It is the artist in us, questing for identity, that interrogates the system, the status quo, looking for answers to the purpose of the thing.

It is Greek tradition that models for us a lecture-and-classroom approach to teaching. But Jesus used question and story as the primary tools to bring forth His Word to the earth. Hebraic models of education imply a teacher who is doing life with his students and answering questions throughout the process of living. In fact, question-asking is very Jewish in Hebraic culture and mindset.

Questions build relationship between two parties, as the heart of both parties are revealed by the question and the answer. It illuminates vulnerability in the person asking and builds trust for the person answering. It is at once a mental and a spiritual transaction, and usually freely received and given.

I would submit that not asking questions could take the form of fear or pride, of stagnation, or even a lack of care and love.

So I encourage you to make asking questions into a lifestyle, a permanent attitude. Ask away! You may not always get an answer, you will never have all the answers, but asking questions will bring new life and growth to you. Be blessed.

Destined to Create

Many of us live as though we are created to SURVIVE. Survival is important, and we must learn self-defense skills and the ability to provide for our daily needs. Even a drive to accumulate wealth or power can be a mechanism to ensure survival. And yet, our very bodies are designed to decay and eventually die. All of our bodies will die, at some point.

Another variation of this is living as though we are created to CONSUME. It is easy in the modern world to watch movies, buy clothes, and discuss the latest and greatest of things without ever intentionally pursuing the act of creating something of our own.

Yet, the act of creation, the practice of creativity, gives us a way to express love, a vehicle through which we can worship. The drive to build and produce, a desire to grow and mature are parts of the artistic identity within us. It is WHY we must survive: to take what is inside of us and bring something out of the depth ourselves, up to the surface, and out to the world.

I believe that each of us have been given unique skills, talents, and abilities. We are each of us a genius at SOMETHING. We are ALL artists. The purpose of our unique inner skills, talents and capabilities is so that the output of our lives, our ART, is created with our own distinctive Voice.

What was I created for?

I believe that each of us is an artist; that we were created to create.

I also believe that most of us don’t really believe that. Our creative capacity is hard to see when we pile on the expectations of society, the huge distractions of modern technology and entertainment, and the pervading idea that some people “have it” and some people “do not have it.” Doing “something productive” usually means something less than artistic. The arts themselves seem like an indulgence at best and a waste of time at worst.

Being an artist is not so much about what you do or what talents you have. It has much more to do with how you live, and how you do what you do. Living life “artistically” means to look at all aspects of life as an opportunity to create something, to express oneself, or to communicate to others.

Some would protest: “I’m not creative,” or “I don’t have time,” or even “My art is bad.” Yet, I would say that each of us is called, anointed, and purposed to spend our lives co-creating with the Holy Spirit, fulfilling the commands of God on our lives.

Biblical Calls to Creativity

In Genesis 8, God tells Noah to “be fruitful and multiply.” Seen through a creative lens, God is not only saying to reproduce (which is a procreative act), but he is also demanding fruitfulness, which is a product of maturity, growth, and artistry.

Next, we see Jesus in Matthew 28 instructing the disciples to “go and make disciples of all the nations.” The key word here is make, a creative word by any standard. In this case, Jesus is showing us that in this command, our “canvas” is the world. People of all nations are the seeds and the source material, and disciples are the final product.

In hearing God tell Noah to procreate and be fruitful, we usually leave out the idea of how important creativity is to procreation, and how a priority of intimacy breeds healthy families. When Jesus gives the Great Commission, we focus on the “GO” part and less on the “make disciples” part. Missions without creativity or artistry make little progress.

Artistry exists inside relationship. Procreation happens through relationship. Missions happen through relationship.

A painter never paints inside a vacuum, void of outside influence. On the contrary, the painting is always a snapshot of the artist’s relationship to previous artists, to previous teachers, to current input, to current students, to the state of their world at that moment.

Each of us is an artist, in every area of life. Beginner artists express, while mature artists communicate. That communication exists inside of a relationship with everything that the artist comes into contact with.

Seek out relationship. Seek out new input. Ask questions and intentionally grow in your creativity and artistry. It’s what you were made for.