The World is My Canvas!

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Do I really have the permission to call the world around me my canvas? Do I have the freedom, the audacity, the creativity, and the imagination to wade in and create on that canvas? Or am I nothing more than a detached observer?  [Paul Richardson, A Certain Risk, p. 109]

During my first read through of this book I wrote a simple “Wow!” in the left margin of the book.  We’ve been taught so often in our own cultural that to seek God is to seek solitude, peaceful settings, and quiet time. These are all good things. But I wonder, too, if sometimes we lose sight of the fact that we also meet with God in a very real way when we are sweeping across the canvas of our community and our city; that in our interactions with people we not only find ourselves thinking about God, but we begin to commune with him on a deeper level by actually walking with him.

Maybe it’s rolling down the window, smiling at the old woman asking for money, and letting her know that at least one person on this day is happy to have seen her. Maybe it’s spending time downtown, taking part in the community as so many others are—not as an outsider (though I always am one) but rather as another child of our Creator enjoying the opportunity to enjoy a small part of the day. Maybe it’s encouraging a brother or sister in faith, or praying for a friend in need, or allowing God to speak through me a word that another needs to hear in that moment.

Free to play the game (of life) with creativity

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…the Spirit of God beckons our souls to breathe in elegant simplicity. Even on pressure-fulled days, we must be free to pick up the pace or slow down. Free to stop and worship God for a few minutes. Free to weep openly when we experience grief. Free to laugh from the soul. Free to lift our hands to heaven and worship God without fear of what others might think. Free to openly confess our sins. Free to listen to the hearts and dreams of those around us.

Paul Richardson, A Certain Risk, p. 178

I just really like this passage here. Freedom in Christ. We are so good at enslaving ourselves. Another story from back in the day.

When I was in high school I played basketball. I had talent, a good shot, and was quite athletic. My problem was that I was very analytical in my approach to the game. Playing basketball was all about memorizing plays, memorizing schemes, and going to the right place at the right time. At any given time the “right” thing to do was determined by what the coach had told us in practice, the steps we had practiced, and the plays we had learned. Game time was a test of how well I had “learned the facts” of the game, so to speak. It was 80% rote, 20% reacting to the immediate circumstances of the game itself.

When I got to college I began to look at the game in a new light. I didn’t play on the school team, but spent countless hours playing with a group of very good players every night after classes, on weekends, and any time we had opportunity. In the absence of playbooks and coach-directed practices I began to appreciate the creative side of the game—reacting in the moment, creatively making immediate decisions, and enjoying the flow of the game. I began to understand that a good team must have a basic framework with which to work—plays, guiding philosophies, and some concrete steps by which it operates—but that the key to moving beyond “average” and “mediocrity” was found in the creative “dancing” that occurs between five players who know each other, trust each other, and are willing to submit to one another for the good of the team.

In this freedom to play the game…a team finds true joy and success. May it be so in our lives, as well.

Looking at James

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Despite the misgivings of Martin Luther, the letter of James has always been one of my favorite books of the Bible.  I did not know until recently, however, that I was in good company.  It seems that noted theologian Soren Kierkegaard “is probably the only person who in on record as having regarded the first chapter of the letter of James as his favourite portion of Scripture” (James:  A Commentary in the Wesleyan Tradition, C. Jeanne Orjala Serrao, p. 23).

If we could boil the entire letter down to a single sentence it go something like this–Faith is not real unless it affects the way I live.

James offers to us an important reminder about the way we are to live in a rapidly changing and seeming increasingly hostile world.   It reminds us how to live as God’s chosen people among a majority people who were considered unclean, sinful and actively opposed to God’s reign.  It reminds us how to live as God’s people among our own people, those that also believe themselves to be God’s special, chosen people.
~Do Everything In Love

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