Thursday, January 20, 2022

Creative

 God is the original Creator. He created with just His spoken word and imagination. He created within human beings the capacity, desire, and inspiration to also create. They may be limited unlike God in their creations. They do it many different genres. 

The painter takes oils, paints, and canvas. They paint vivid scenery from nature or their own imagination. They capture moods with colors. Like pain, despair, joy and delight. Their tools are brushes, paints, and canvases or paper. They can get lost for hours in their creative genius. History celebrates such artists. Their magnificent works outlive them. My favorite painter is Thomas Kincaid. I have stood in an art gallery mesmerized by his paintings for hours taking in every hidden detail. He brilliantly used light in his works through the sun or moon. 

There are other artists who use hammers and chisels to sculpt. Others sculpt with their hands at the pottery wheel. They are able to see something beauty in the mundane. They skillfully and delicately work to bring the beauty out for the rest of us to see. They are able to see it before any of us do. They create beautiful statutes and pottery. That is a creative talent to see beauty in things most others ignore. Their creativity has blessed multitudes.

There are creative people who sit at a computer or drawing desk and design houses and commercial buildings. They make them both beautiful and functional. They dream up designs that have never been created before making each building unique. Some buildings are simple and others are ornate. Each is a creative marvel. Building an idea from raw materials into something people get to enjoy. Like churches, schools, businesses, restaurants and homes. 

Some people create with spices, meats, dough, and vegetables to cook delicacies that make the taste buds dance in delight. They are great in the kitchen. Whether baking, grilling, frying, sautéing or basting, they create dishes that dazzle and that drive our taste senses to their heights of pleasure. Such people find great pleasure in sharing creations with others. It is a labor of love. 

Some are able to sit down at an instrument to create pleasant notes, melodies, crescendos, and chords making music. Some do it through the instrument of their voice. Others use pianos, guitars, flutes, trumpets, saxophones, drums, and violins to create sounds that whisk people away from the mundane monotony of life. They create sounds of music to be enjoyed by different types of people from different walks of life. It is joyful to hear worship music that exalts God and praises Him. How thankful we are for creative music. 

I am not gifted in any of those areas. I never enjoyed art in school. I actually failed wood shop in junior high school. I am not gifted with my hands. Hammers and saws are not my preferred tools. Neither are wrenches or screwdrivers. I am not able to play any instrument. God called and gifted me to create in another way. 

My tools are legal pads, pens, and computers. I work with words to capture thoughts, to paint scenes in writings, to instruct, inspire, sway opinions and encourage people with ink on a page or words on a screen. I construct with words. I paint with nouns, verbs and adjectives. I sculpt with scriptures. I create with language. I marinate and sauté in thoughts that gel into savory sentences. It is a creative craft I adore. I can get lost in it forgetting time for hours on end. 

Some people write to live. They pump out material to earn a living learning to perfect their profession. I live to write. It is the one chance I have to be creative. To paint, build, construct and create something for others to enjoy. 

What might God use you to create for others to enjoy? What special talent, gift, or unique ability do you have just waiting to be discovered by others. It took me decades before I ever shared my craft with the world. I did not want to be rejected. I know I often make mistakes in these blogs no matter how I try to proof them before posting. I have determined not to let my lack of perfection to hinder me from creating. I know some posts are more valuable than others. Sometimes there are dry spells when there is little to no creativity. I am blessed to be inspired by others creative genius. 

How can you be used in some way to inspire others around you? I am sure there is a way. Maybe in the machine shop or the wood shop. Perhaps in the kitchen. Maybe around the table telling stories. Possibly with your hands in painting or voice in singing. Perhaps over a sewing machine. Wherever God gifted you to be creative, I exhort you to use it for the glory of God and the enjoyment of others.  

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Suffering Saints

 I have been a pastor for 26 years. I have never seen more people sick at one time in all those years. It seems I daily get reports about someone else getting sick among our congregation. At last count we were near two dozen people. That is a good many in a church no larger than Spring Creek. 

I checked on one of our men today. He told me he felt normal for the first time in three weeks. I understand. I have slept in my bed twice in the past two and a half weeks because of coughing and sinuses. I missed one Sunday and have gone home early from the office in cold chills running fever. It has been about a month that I have battled one health issue or another. 

So many people are suffering. This Omicron seems more contagious than any disease in my memory. Schools have been forced to shut down because so many teachers and students have been affected. People are extremely nervous to get out around others. Doctor offices are filled as well as hospitals. Pharmacies are out of cough syrup. People are having to call in sick from work. It is spreading like wild fire. 

So many suffering. The saints have not been exempted. The saints suffer as well. We get sick. We face set backs. We grieve the death of loved ones. We battle despair and the dungeon of doubt like others do. We face set backs, snares, and sinister temptations from Satan. 

We are not the first saints to suffer. Nor will we be the last. History is filled with the stories of suffering saints. Fanny Crosby was blind but she wrote thousands of hymns. William Cowper suffered from debilitating depression but he wrote the hymn There Is A Fountain. Amy Carmichael was bedridden but she continued to rescue orphans. William Carey lost his wife on the mission field but he continued to labor for the souls around him. Hudson Taylor lost two wives and two children to death on the mission field. It did not deter him from the completion of his mission to win the Chinese to Christ. David Brainerd suffered from Tuberculosis. He still ministered to the Indians despite his chronic sickness. John Bunyan suffered in prison for refusing not to preach the Bible. He made the most of his time by writing the famous book, Pilgrim's Progress. David Livingstone suffered long stretches without being near his wife and children as he labored in Africa. He died on the mission field knelt by his cot in prayer. Elizabeth Elliot lost her husband to savage Auca Indians who murdered him. She persevered and won her husband's killers to Christ. Jackie Pullinger has suffered in Hong Kong for over five decades laboring with prostitutes, drug addicts, and gang members battling the forces of evil. It has not been an easy road for her but it has been a rewarding one. 

Jesus suffered. So did Matthew, Peter, James, John, and Paul. Suffering continued with saints like Stephen and Polycarp. In each of these cases, the people persevered through their sufferings to make Jesus shine all the more brightly. Their suffering did not deter them. 

Now it is our turn. I contemplated this yesterday. I thought about other suffering saints who did not allow their suffering to be an excuse for not being faithful. Nor can we. Persevere you suffering saints. Jesus is shining through you.