Sunday, May 28, 2017

Heaven and Home.

I sit here.
Procrastinating on packing the last of my possessions.

Four years in this apartment, I'm closing a very sweet chapter of life.
A chapter that has taught me much about love and loss.
And friendship and forbearance.

In these four years, I have had the pleasure of experiencing Christ-like community in way that I'm not sure can ever be replicated.

So many tears and prayers and laughs these walls have heard.
Parties and potlucks, brunches with the pals, the've been endless.
Life-long friendships have been cultivated here through good conversations, and hard ones too.

Yet. While this little corner of the world has been a refuge, a space I call home, it's not really.
Life, it's so short, so fleeting. So temporary.

My flesh wants to hold on and create a kingdom here. But what my heart truly desires is for this to be a beautiful reminder to me that I am an alien, an exile in this world. (1 Peter 2:11). To make me long for a better place where there will be no mourning or fear or doubt or instability or questions. It will all be about Jesus.

"Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is." - 1 John 3:2

To the world the days ahead seem dim, yet the future has never, ever been brighter.


Monday, May 16, 2016

So long Parks and Rec

The last two weeks I have developed a habit of watching an episode or two of Parks and Rec before hitting the sack. Sometimes even in bed, right before going to sleep. You know, to relax a little. 

"Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.”
Today, and maybe my application is a unconventional, I’m asking myself if Parks and Rec is an instrument of unrighteousness in my life. As in, is the best use of my time? 

And I'm asking myself to consider the gospel too. 

To allow it to roll like waves through my heart and mind. Not just on Sunday or in the morning while studying Scripture, but all the time. Even the moments preceding slumber. 

- At least I don’t watch the however many hours of television a day the average American does.
- And it’s not like I’m benging on Netflix. These DVDs are from the Library. 
- It’s been a long day and I need to unwind.
-  want to know what my work friends and non-work friends are all laughing about.
- Doesn’t Paul say, “I have become all things to all people, so that I might win some”?
- Maybe watching Parks and Rec will give me an open door to talk to an unbeliever about what Jesus has done for me. (Use this one all the never happens.) 

But somewhere in the middle of the excuses I’ve stopped thinking about the gospel before bed. I’ve stopped praying to end the day. 

Believing in the gospel means that I don’t need the comfort of TV or music or ice cream. It means that I don’t need to fear losing friends because I’m not laughing at each line they quote. I don’t need those things to give identity or bring satisfaction, because I really believe that in the end Jesus is better and He is all that I need.

If anything prevents us from considering God and His gospel, it needs to be evaluated and eradicated. Maybe that’s harsh. Or too black and white. But in this entertained-to-death-even-as-Christians society, I think we are too lax in calling sin, sin. Not because Parks and Rec is sin, but because choosing something above Jesus is. 

I know the Lord is calling me - and you too - to something higher.
To use our time and our talents in an even richer way. 
To stop comforting ourselves with the big fluffy blanket we call pop-culture. Or the American Dream.

For me, it’s saying, so long Parks and Rec.
But for you, if it stirs your affections for Jesus and beckons you to consider the gospel, watch on...

And by way of reminder, it’s not Parks and Rec that’s the problem. It's my heart. My sin. My flesh that wants to forget Him. To find comfort in other places. And I’m continually at war against the things that distract and whisper, "It's OK. Jesus can play second-fiddle."
Sometimes even the good things - like clever humor - that He gives as a good gift. 

But I am rejoicing today, that His grace is greater than all our sin. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

On Illustrating One Hundred Verses.

One year, three months and twenty-six days from the day I started, I finished illustrating 100 Bible verses. 

I said I’d finish in a year...
At least I finished. 

And in the same way I didn’t finish in the time frame I thought, the results were different than anticipated. 

In life we expect things, all sorts of things and events and outcomes, yet rarely are they what we imagine, sometimes not better or worse, just different. 

So when I set on this journey inspired by various sources, I thought in the back of my head, though never admitting it, that I would become wildly well known, end up with a few thousand Instagram followers, I’d become incredibly inventive while honing the skills I had, my personal design business would soar and smack in the middle of the glam there would be a set of brilliantly designed verses of Scripture. Ironic, right?

Yet, instead I gained much, much more. 

I learned the things I didn’t think I needed to. 

  • If you don’t start anything until you think you’re good enough, or your idea is good enough, you’ll never do anything. You’ll stunt your growth and waste your talent. Rough drafts matter.
  • There’s always intrepidation with putting out in public any type of art - music, writing, painting - but you have to put out there. It produces in you fearlessness towards perfection. #progressnotperfection, those hashtaggers say. 
  • Boundaries are the best. Differing mediums bring limitations that cause you to be creative within the fence. For example, print is different than web only designs, handlettering is different than something exclusively digital. Purpose is important.
  • Do the hard work. Even when all inspiration seems lost, fight through it. Sometimes the best work is at the bottom of the barrel. Don’t be lazy. 
  • In the quest to be a better artist, you have to open your eyes and be a great observer of life. The way light casts shadows or serifs produce formality. What makes good art good, and bad art bad.
  • Be faithful to use your gifts, because God has called you to be a steward of them. Still, you must diligently practice and exercise that talent. 
  • Ultimately the Lord will put your work before those who need to see it. Proverbs says 22:29 says, “Do you see a man skillful in his work? He will stand before kings...” Ahhh, pressure’s off. Even if one person was moved to glorify God by seeing an illustrated Bible verse, it was all worth it. Actually, even if that didn't happened the work the Lord manifested in me was worth it. 

I may not have become the next big thing, and while was my proficiency wasn’t perfected to the level I demanded and I didn’t think out of the box as often as I would have liked, in the end I saw that it was not about me and building my kingdom, but much more about Him and His glory, which is why, though my expectations were not met, there is not one single ounce of regret.