The Trouble with Mending Fence

MENDING FENCES

Our Arts Team at our West Campus met this past week and spent time watching a message on excellence. One of the big ideas for myself as a creative that has, in the past, run through my head when it comes to excellence is that it is stifling.

I get the idea of being legalistic and perfectionistic in bed with excellence and those are not the same thing at all.

This is not a blog to defend “excellence” but instead a way to view excellence  that lets your creative brain feel okay about that word.

As a parent when we go into our backyard the kids run, play, fight, etc. I get to hang out and watch over the whole situation, but I have to be on guard to make sure that no one goes by the back corner because there is a hole in our fence. If a kid gets back there they can easily get out of the yard and be two streets over before I know it. My complete experience in the backyard isn’t free to be fun with the kids and let myself be engulfed in their world because I’m so aware of that hole, so my time is necessarily spent mending that fence. While I’m mending fence I’m missing out.

The truth remains that if I had gone out first and fixed that hole then when we hit the backyard we are all free to have a Finding Neverland time together secure in this area that I’ve created.

Take that principle and put it into your creative world. Excellence and preparation are the fence. When I have done the work to program an excellent worship service I have my yard to create an experience that is founded in truth. When I’m writing a song the fence is my working gear, a tuned guitar, a rested mind and heart. When an artist is drawing the fence is their sketch pad, free time, sharpened pencils. When a photographer is shooting the fence is charged batteries, empty memory cards, their bag of available lenses, the knowledge of their camera’s intricacies.

If our time that we have is spent mending fences only then we will never have the time to truly be creative in the yard.

The mending can be the mundane, but it is necessary. Pattern your life to include mending your fences, so that you don’t lose the chance to experience life in the yard.

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Mad Skills #RTTB

MAD SKILLS

Today’s reading in our read through the Bible program was talking all about the crafting of Aaron’s ephod that he and his sons would wear into the tabernacle to make sacrifices to the LORD.

But where did God get the process started?

Exodus 28:3 “You shall speak to all the skillful, whom I have filled with the spirit of skill, that they make Aaron’s garments to consecrate him for my priesthood.”

God didn’t make the garments magically appear for Aaron, he said go get this guy that I created and gifted to do that to make it.

Three big things for us in this that really stick out:

  1. Skills matter: God didn’t get someone with just a good heart to craft his tabernacle or make these garments. He had gifted people to be able to work these materials in such a way that it seems to me was given by Him for them to do. A lot of us can desperately want to do certain things, but God has created certain people to do certain things. Just this morning there were several guys from my small group at breakfast talking about a valve that had been created by their team of engineers and it was going to be deployed to these different drills across the world for getting to these natural resources. Well guess what, while I can enjoy that conversation and understand what a valve is, that doesn’t mean that I need to stick my hands into that very specific situation. I need to be a worship leader who understands my craft, and thank God that these guys in my group are fighting fires, creating valves, servicing nuclear subs, and going into space.
  2. The Work Needs to Be Done: God had created these guys with the skills to do it, but now that the moment came they were called up and they did it. Some of you guys know that you are very skilled in some area. Maybe you really relate to anyone, maybe you are a great writer, maybe you love to just work hard, maybe you are a computer programmer. God has put these things in you for the Kingdom of God. When He calls be listening.
  3. God has an opinion: God has a purpose for your skills. God has an opinion. If we are listening to God He will make good on the investment that He has placed within you, and when He does He will guide you. This part of Exodus can be very tedious to read but the exacting nature of what God said to create is glorious because, Praise God that He isn’t far from us and uninvolved.

Do you feel like you are experiencing a silence from God? Maybe He has already gifted you, spoken to you, and is waiting for your action to give you that guidance? My prayer today is that I am not just existing but striving to use all He’s given me for something more.

 

“Lift Up Your Eyes” #RTTB

#RTTB

Here at Clear Creek Community Church we have begun to read through the Bible this year.

(If you’d like to join us just click on this link http://www.readthroughthebible.org)

We just hit Exodus this week, but as we were reading through Genesis there were several things that popped out at me, most of which had to do with how terrible people have been from the beginning, but one thing that seems to be a recurring theme is when the LORD would speak to someone he would say “Lift up your eyes from the place where you are”. I did some searching and that phrase is peppered throughout the Pentateuch (Genesis and Deuteronomy) in several places and then comes back in some of the prophets writings later on when they are delivering more of what God is saying or when God is speaking to the prophet personally.

It may not seem like such a big deal until you think about how that also can be a direct word to us as believers and even as creatives. If you take a look at a crowd in our world today we often have our faces buried in our phones oblivious to the world happening around us. (maybe you do right now reading this…which I will give you a pass on!) We get stuck in places before we realize that we are stuck. We adopt bad habits before we realize we’ve slipped. Days pass by and we’ve been just existing.

I read a blog today where a guy who works for Spotify did the math for you on how much time you really have in your life that isn’t already appropriated to some inescapable activity, and with an estimated lifespan of 80 years he determined that we all have about 9.7 years of “free time”. That fact immediately made me cringe because I think of how much of that I’ve wasted already by age 39.

You can’t fix the past. You can capture today. You can hope in the future.

Some of you aren’t in bad places, but some of you are at the bottom of a dry well.
Some of you aren’t as far down the path on your 5 or 10 year plan as you’d hoped.
Some of you are trudging down a diverted path that scares the crap out of you, but in all of those, if you are anything like me, I can be surviving instead of living because my eyes are fixed on my feet.

It seemed like maybe, just maybe God has a different piece of advise that pushes to a larger vision for our everyday lives.

In John 4 when Jesus had just finished speaking to the Samaritan woman at the well he is then talking to his disciples in verse 35 when Jesus takes some of his Father’s jargon from the OT.

“Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest.”

Jesus is reminding us of the beauty of “more”, of purpose, of his plan.

For all of us we have to answer the call TODAY “lift up your eyes from where you are”

The Problem With Being a Nice Guy

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There are people who have lived lives of various extremes: Things like, I grew up a penniless orphan and then because of my great singing voice and red hair got adopted by a billionaire and we sang a lot, or maybe I was born into a family of complete agnostics and then one day someone invited me to church and the meaning that I had been searching for I found in God.

But if you are like me, I grew up in a family that went to church every time the doors were open and I truly have loved God as long as I can remember. As I would learn more about him I would accept that and make it part of our relationship. My natural bent of personality is just to be nice. I can pretty much get along with anybody and people pretty much can get along with me.

Don’t misunderstand me, I have had my fair share of trials and setbacks in my life, but when I generally look back at my journey of life and ask myself, “When did my faith become my own?” I really struggle.

My questions about faith aren’t wrapped up in a lot of deep sin issues as much as they are wrapped up in who I was before Christ and who I am after Christ. I have to ask myself, “If I wasn’t a believer in Jesus would I really be doing anything differently as far as my actions and how I love the world around me?” I think the answer would be no, so that’s why I think that my biggest problem and sin struggle in my life is being a “nice guy”.

Niceness can be the seed of self-righteousness. Niceness can be the root of pride. Niceness can be the predecessor to complete spiritual blindness. I see that in myself, because it isn’t a stress to me often to do the right thing or treat someone with respect, but that’s just how I was raised. If I’m not careful I find myself becoming just like the Pharisees a “white-washed tomb which outwardly appears beautiful, but within is full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness.”

This is all fresh on my heart because we are beginning a series called The Boundary at our church, that is diving into how we raise our kids to really know and have a realtionship with God. As a father of seven I can find myself lying in bed at night, eyes wide open just praying “God rescue my kids from being nice” I don’t want to raise nice kids, I want to raise disciples.

My prayer for myself is that I draw clear lines of dependance on God and that He rescues me from those seeds, those roots, those predecessors of sins that could latch onto me and draw my heart from God.

Love from a Full Plate

This is honestly more of a confession blog than an informative one.
We have a very full calendar in the Harding family. We have 7 kids, all with their own needs, wants and desires. We work hard at having a marriage that honors each other. I work full time as a worship pastor. Glenna, my wife, is part time photographer, full-time homeschool teacher.

My confession is that sometimes I look at my time and think that my plate is full and I don’t have anything to give to anyone. What that has lulled me into being is someone who walks around with an excuse. Don’t mishear what I’m saying, I AM someone who walks around with very real responsibilities that take precedence over many other opportunities, but there is this place that I feel like I’ve slipped into that is a constant hurry to finish whatever I’m doing to find some chance to breathe between those responsibilities.

So you might think, “Well, dude that’s ok, you need downtime”. I do but my full plate has slowly pushed me to hoard that “downtime” all for my own selfish desires, instead of doing what I feel like desire to do and that is giving love sacrificially.

I have countless and undeniable instances in my life where loving someone else over myself has been so much more fulfilling than anything I am fighting so hard to have time for. It can creep in so subversively. Before you know it, you are shorting your quality time with your kids, not creating conversations with the people you love for fear that they may need you.

I may have a full plate and a busy schedule, but God created me and my family to live in community and love everyone He brings in our path. So I’m committing to love in those cracks between, love in the responsibilities, love in the hard, love in the mundane, love in artistic, love in the pragmatic. I honestly have a fear of too long living any other way…I may lose myself.

Before Pictures

Take out your phone.

open up your camera app.

flip your camera to face you.

make whatever face you need to make to not feel awkward about this moment and then take a picture.

Now take a look at that picture.

This is your “before” picture.

If you are anything like me, we get into our routines, into our set little paths through our rat maze to grab our cheese and start all over again.

We forget that God never called any of us to a bland normal

God never called us to exist in the same place.

He is in constant motion to create in us and “after” picture that is a display of what He is doing in us.

Since he is infinitely creative and none of us are finished yet, every “before” picture is also and “after” picture.

Look at your picture again and thank God that He’s not done yet

.selfie

Why Am I Writing EDM Songs?

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Ok hopefully you didn’t tune out immediately when you read the title, or if you didn’t and kept reading because you have no idea what EDM is, it is Electronic Dance Music.

First off, EDM is my guilty pleasure. I also have 7 kids and one staple our house, maybe even more than dinner, is dance parties. So just in my house that is 7 (8, counting my wife) mega-impressionable minds that are soaking up music and fun,

BUT most songs are morally neutral or a little to wrong side of what I want to sew into my kids’ minds. While there are some very good options out there I want to do all that can pastor them in everything. I don’t want it to stop there though. There is a generation that is speaking that language and need to have the gospel sewn into them as well.

I look at it like this: I’m a cook. I can cook the dishes I’m good at or I can push myself to get food in the mouths of a wider clientele.

Well I’m not a cook I’m a songwriter: I can write the songs that come naturally or I can push myself to learn more, stretch more to hopefully get more than just music into the ears of listening generation. I can get the Word of Life into their hearts and minds. If it takes me painstakingly figuring out how to make a kick drum patch stutter into a massive bass drop that makes your heart stop, and stack synth pads to create that perfect combination of hook and rhythm then the way I see it is that is my “spiritual act of worship”.

So why am I writing EDM songs? Why do people learn indigenous languages before they go to foreign countries? The gospel needs to be spoken and heard in all languages and styles.

1 Cor 9:19-23

19 Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 20 To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 21 To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. 23 I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.

This fad will live and then it will die and something else will follow it. When that comes along, I pray God gives me the chance to go “back to the kitchen” and whip up something then too.