At Gateway Church in Austin, we went through a series called “Your Next Great Adventure.”
As we learn to walk by faith, God leads us into new freedom to be creative. God is a creator, and we were created in His Image, part of which means to be creative ourselves. The more we trust God and grow in faith, the less we fear what other people think of us. We can grow beyond people’s disapproval or judgements which inhibits creativity.
We’ve spent the last few weeks exploring this notion of our Next Great Adventure.
John Burke led us through exploring our mission and last week I talked about taking risks.
Today I want us to wrestle with the idea that we are all called to be creative in this adventure.
Have you ever done one of those corporate exercises where you are all in a room and divided into tables where you each receive supplies to create something together? Then there is a competition to create the best building or structure using the supplies given? I have used this with team when I have been introducing teams to Gallup’s StrengthsFinder or the Myers Briggs personality indicator. This box of supplies is no different than how God operates with us.
God put breath in your lungs, a mind full of ideas, and crafted you as a unique individual to do what only you can do.
We have been looking at the heroes of the faith listed in Hebrews 11. Last week we looked at Moses, and I want to spend a little more time on his story.
Let’s go to Exodus chapter 25 to glean God’s heart towards creativity.
So the people of Israel have been freed from slavery. God rescued them in miraculous ways. Now God has invited them into a covenant relationship with Him. God’s plan was to reveal Himself to the people of Israel and through them all nations – all people groups – would be blessed!
God gave Moses the 10 Commandments – the basics of how to treat each other – don’t kill, don’t steal, don’t steal each others’ spouses, etc..
God also gave Moses the instructions on how to create the space for God to dwell with them in what was called the tabernacle and how to provide for the tabernacle and the priests who were the representatives of God to the people.
The Lord said to Moses, 2 “Tell the Israelites to bring me an offering. You are to receive the offering for me from everyone whose heart prompts them to give. 3 These are the offerings you are to receive from them: gold, silver and bronze; 4 blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen; goat hair; 5 ram skins dyed red and another type of durable leather; acacia wood;6 olive oil for the light; spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense; 7 and onyx stones and other gems to be mounted on the ephod and breastpiece. 8 “Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them. 9 Make this tabernacle and all its furnishings exactly like the pattern I will show you. – Exodus 25:1 – 9
So now we have God giving a directive, and the next few chapters are filled with details about how God wants things done. He put his proverbial designer hat on, and spells out what this structure should look like. Now let’s go to Exodus 31 to see how this is going to all take place:
Then the Lord said to Moses, 2 “See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, 3 and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills— 4 to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, 5 to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of crafts. – Exodus 31:1-5
This is the first example of the Spirit of God filling or guiding a human being – a craftsman working with his hands.
So as we talk about creativity, there are a few things I want to highlight in these passages?
God is Creative (we are invited to join in the process)
I think the psalmist beautifully encapsulates God’s creative bent in…
There is the sea, vast and spacious, teeming with creatures beyond number—living things both large and small. There the ships go to and fro, and Leviathan, which you formed to frolic there. All creatures look to you to give them their food at the proper time.
When you give it to them, they gather it up; when you open your hand, they are satisfied with good things. When you hide your face, they are terrified; when you take away their breath, they die and return to the dust. When you send your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the ground. May the glory of the Lord endure forever; may the Lord rejoice in his works. – Psalm 104:25-31
Again, let’s look at some of the miracles of this Exodus passage and see God’s creative hand from the beginning. This entire process of freeing Israel from its captors, the Egyptians, and bringing them into the promised land is one creative event after another.
- Burning bush calls out to Moses
- Pharaoh gives permission after a plague of locust, frogs flood the land, water turns red like blood, hail destroys the land, and so on and so forth
- Then they get cornered up against the Red Sea and Moses parts the ocean with his staff
- They are following a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night
- They’re fed manna from heaven as their daily sustenance
And now…now God wants a place to commune with them so he has them build a building, a tabernacle…and not just any old building.
A specific building with certain colors, elements, shapes, wood, garments.
What we glean is that God is truly a master designer, an architect, God’s vision for the world (your world) goes beyond what you can even comprehend.
So when we say a resounding, YES, to God’s creative heart, it not only begs us to a great adventure, it is now permission to partner with God in what could be.
God cannot help but to be creative, and his invitation is that in this adventure towards being free…we would embrace creativity. You see, our lids, our boundaries, our walls, can all keep us captive to what was or what should be, and the creative spirit in each of us diminishes until it burns out.
God Calls Us (we choose to accept the call)
I remember studying this passage a few years back, and this sentence seemed to be out of place:
“Tell the Israelites to bring me an offering. You are to receive the offering for me from everyone whose heart prompts them to give. These are the offerings you are to receive.” – Exodus 25:2 – 3a
This entire passage is a series of commands and directives, but right there, right in verse two is a phrase that made me stop and ponder…”from everyone whose heart prompts them to give.”
Mind you this is the same group of people who actually experienced the list of creative miracles I read a little earlier, and now they have an option, they get to choose to participate from a place that prompts them to give.
When was the last time your heart was prompted and you didn’t listen?
This invitation to creativity comes in still and subtle ways, but are we listening for the prompt?
Have you heard of David Martinez, Jr.,? Probably not, but you have seen some of his handiwork. David owns a crane company and leads a lot of engineers in Houston, TX, but David is not an engineer. David grew up in a working class family in the heart of Houston. How did David become a prolific business leader with cranes and rigs that have impacted hundreds of skyscrapers around the world? David would say it was God. David follows Jesus. He was going to church now and then and trying to spend time with God from time to time. Then early in his blue collar working life, God gave him a series of dreams, so David would wake up and draw whatever God had showed him in his dream. Mind you, he is NOT an engineer, has no formal engineering training, but he has several patents for rigs and cranes that are used all over the world. God literally downloaded these engineering ideas as drawings, he hired real engineers to make the ideas come to life, and now he owns his own business built on the ideas God gave him in his dreams. David’s obedience took him from being an employee to an owner. From someone using other’s inventions, to being an inventor himself. His Linkedin page actually has his title as not only CEO but also Inventor. The idea here is that God invited David to a creative adventurous future, and he wants to do the same thing with you and I.
God Gifts Craftsmanship (we are wired to contribute)
2 “See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, 3 and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills— 4 to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, 5 to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of crafts – Exodus 31:2-5
Remember the context here, Moses is God’s chosen servant to lead the people of Israel, and although he’s using Moses to do mighty creative things, Moses isn’t called to do EVERY creative thing. Instead, with this structure being built he has chosen another person to lead the charge, Bezalel. And look at how God dotes over him…he’s filled with God’s spirit, wisdom, understanding, knowledge AND with the skills to make it happen. He knows how to work with metals, stones, wood and crafting.
Many of us who are Christ followers are growing our spiritual gifts and understanding, but maybe, just maybe, God wants to use the creative skills he’s naturally gifted you with, or you were trained in.
Then there are some of us who are nominally growing our faith, or some of us who are just here exploring who God is, and I hope you understand that you too have been gifted with creative gifts in your own way. And maybe God is wanting you to grow spiritually as strong as your creative gift/abilities have grown.
There’s a book called When Helping Hurts, and in the book a reference is made to
Asset Mapping which is derived from a methodology called Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) out of Northwestern University in Chicago. Here’s the definition of ABCD, and it is perfect for what we’re describing in scripture:
ABCD is a methodology for the sustainable development of communities based on their strengths and potentials. It involves assessing the resources, skills, and experience available in a community; organizing the community around issues that move its members into action; and then determining and taking appropriate action.This method uses the community’s own assets and resources as the basis for development; it empowers the people of the community by encouraging them to use what they already possess.
Most social scientists will agree that everyone is wired and able to contribute something, and whey we contribute those around us are made better for it.
Here’s the scriptural parallel…God creatively asked for a building that the people already had the resources for, he called the people with skill to accomplish the goal, and all that was missing was the willingness to use their gifted craftsmanship.
“The biggest difference between successful people and unsuccessful people is that successful people are willing to do what unsuccessful people are not.”– Darren Hardy
These past couple of years some of us have developed some new habits. Some are good. Some are not. Maybe you’ve gotten into the habit of watching more TV than you used to before the pandemic. Maybe some of you who live in Austin have allowed “church online” to turn into “church sometimes.”
I want to encourage you to be counter-cultural in this new season!
Make your spiritual life a priority.
Maybe you are here today, and your next step is to begin a relationship with God or restart your relationship with Him.
A relationship with God just starts with saying “Yes.”
If you are ready for a new start, a new relationship, just repeat these words in your heart to God.
“Yes, I want a relationship with you, God.
Yes, I need your forgiveness.
Yes, I need your help to keep you at the center of my life.
Yes, I want to trust you Jesus in this next step in the great adventure you have for my life!
Yes, I will do what you guide me to do.”
What needs to be surrendered? What is in the way of your next step?
Just ask Him, “God what do you want me to do? What is my next step?”
Maybe He is whispering in your heart one of the following:
- Choosing to come every Sunday
- Joining a group, get out the fall catalogue and choose a group in which you can belong, grow, serve, or heal.
- Making spending time with God a part of your daily life! Use Digging Deeper [gatewaychurch.com/diggingdeeper] to help you spend time with God in the Scriptures and in worship each day.
- Getting baptized.
Listen. What thought comes to your mind?