Saturday, April 25, 2009

Just for the record, it's one of those days

It was such a beautiful day today :))

Just lying on the grass, surrounded by the flowers, the trees, the sun, the clouds and the people..and the sweet strummings of the guitar....and the Holy Spirit Himself.

Couldn't be better. :)

P/s: Thankyou Suet Ling and her SLR :)
And God for His MARVELLOUS creations and EVERYTHING else!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

On feeling happy

I want to laugh as we talk about the good old times, knowing that the same moments are running through our minds.

I want to laugh knowing that I’m safe in your warm strong arms that no one else’s can replace.

I want to laugh like it doesn’t matter anymore.

I want to laugh knowing that I’m no longer weighed down.

I want to laugh as I dance and twirl and whirl with you on the beach with sand between our toes, knowing that I’m yours, and you’re mine.

I want to laugh knowing that I’m home.

I want to laugh knowing that I’m no more feeling tired or dragged down.

I want to laugh knowing that all my strivings and struggles ended – victoriously.

I want to laugh knowing that only all that is good is left in front of me.

I want to laugh for real.

Maybe I can laugh as we run even when it’s gloomy.

Maybe I can laugh in the midst of my struggles knowing that I will come out victoriously.

Maybe I can laugh knowing that everything will be beautiful in the end – like how it’s meant to be.

Maybe I can choose to laugh now, just because YOU ARE.

"Life's not about waiting for the storms to pass. It's about learning to dance in the rain."
-Vivian Greene

"She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come. "
-Proverbs 31: 25

P/s: Maybe I meant joy, not just an outward physical act.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Bits and pieces from New Word Alive conference 09

If there's one interesting thing about NWA, it's the arts track.

(Forgive me if some parts seem out of place because I'm taking it straight from my notes. Trying my best to piece them together though =P)

For christian artists, (not just artists who paint and draw, but artists who also dance, make music, act, design theatres, write, sing, and the list goes on) we were given this question:
"How does your art function in the kingdom of God?"
Very simple right?

But as we were separated into smaller groups to discuss, we came out with more questions, but no answers.

Someone suggested that our roles are mostly to be sowers of seeds.

Another person suggested that our art is to be a catalyst of bringing the lordship of Christ to other people/ into the lives of other people.

And other person asked how are we to define art? What does art really mean? And how God meant art to be in the beginning?

We couldn't answer that for sure for it has been changing and developed so dramatically throughout the history of mankind. And different people has different views on what true art really is. Or is there such thing as "true art" at all?

And, "kingdom of God". What does it really mean? Heaven? Or is it just where God has lordship over? Someone suggested that the kingdom of God is in us/ in our lives.

About using whatever we have to bless others, what does bless really means?

The speaker, Ellis said to bless is "to make larger" and "cause to grow". And growing is painful.

And he posed us another question: "Is art a commodity or a relationship?"

But if you wanna define those words, he said definition is dead. Definition can be a (big) circle. The inside of the circle contains things which are acceptable and outside of the circle are things which are not. For example, banana, can be a ripe banana, unripe banana, big banana, tiny banana, red banana etc etc. But banana can't be a cup, that's totally out of the circle. But that doesn't mean it's evil. It's just not a banana, that's all. Get it? But the contemporary political/ social idea now accepts all. But absolute freedom equals death. So, constricting limitations are necessary.

Have a godly approach to everything.

And what is art? What does it mean? Art has form. A girl suggested that art is probably "a lie that helps us realise the truth?".

Meaning means relationship. Nothing has meaning in itself. God doesn't find meaning in His creation. He's the meaning. He defines Himself. I AM - "I am the purpose of my own being".

And that we have to be aware of the relationship between the creator, the creation and the viewer.

So does God has limitations as well? He doesn't. But because He lives within His promises, that's the only thing that 'limits' Him.
"Art is human deliberate human action."
It's not just pure imagination. It's not natural. And it's something spiritual as well. The key is responsibility. Art is something you're responsible for.

Human? what about God? In Ellis' opinion, God is not an artist, but He is THE Creator.

We are to live in the natural and the unnatural world.

We're guilty. But without guilt, there is no hope. Only when we're guilty, then only we can be forgiven, restored, and have hope.

If you're never wrong, then you're never alive, you'll never learn.

There were some who're comedians among us and one of them asked if entertainment is art as well.

He said entertainment is a hold between or engagement. A pause, or break. And we need it, it refreshes us. It's therapeutic.

Art should be active, responsible and interactive. The true finction of artist is to wake people up and to help them to be human. It probably should be something people can relate to? and not something to buy for comfort?

The general reality is good, true and beautiful. But it has been replaced by the gratifying, firming, and empowering - which is centred outside ourselves (more than what we actually are?). So, we have to be careful not to lose the reality.

As you know, the skills, abilities and knowledge we have comes from the Holy Spirit and we are to treasure, use and develop them. Not hide them, not think of them less than what the others have. And we are to take full responsibility of it.

If you bake bread, you'll have to know the nature of yeast. You have to know what it likes. It'll either be grumpy and will not grow and multiply, OR the other way and make the bread berkembang/rise. So, know what you like! And what you're meant to do.

There's a blibical mandate of creativity.

Is art for consumerism then? No, it's supposed to be other-centred - love.

He started telling us that parents ask him which shows/movies should they not allow their children to watch. That's not a bad thing. But if we protect ourselves, others in that way, by building a wall around ourselves, we're not fulfilling our responsibility? (to love/bless?) If we're doing that, might as well don't listen to ourselves because we're filled with filth and we're not edifying to ourselves as well.

Pop art is actually self-centred. People love it beacuse it brings so much comfort, as a form of escape?

The kingdom of God is a kingdom of other-centredness - love. Like Jesus, who spent most of His time with broken people, not sweet and nice people who're 'blessings' to them? We/ they are all wonderfully and fearfully made.

Be like children. Ask questions. The betrayed and fallen world made us afraid to ask questions.

The kingdom of heaven is not having walls around us, protected, having comfort or familarity, from the devil to destroy us. Walk by faith, not by sight.

We have to learn to submit, discover our limits and respect them.

Creativity must not be our God. We should be more creative because we have a God. Stimulate our 'neighbours' (or people who view/ experience our art) to ask questions - "Who am I as a human being?"

Be a blessing, to have people to grow and be more human.

Be a more God-shaped man rather than a man-shaped God. (er...actually i'm still trying to make sense of the 2nd part of this phrase =/)

How can art enlarge our life and blessings? Rather than reduces and curses.

Reality is expanding.

The heavens reflect the reality of heaven, where God rules from, where His throne is, where He dwells (He dwells in us christians as well!), "the dimension where God's will is done", the source of life that gives fruitfulness, connecting the seen and unseen. It's deeper. It's always been above and around you. Seasons and creations - they reflect the unseen of the gospel.

So the heavens speaks to us a deep sense of reality.

Ever thought of why Christmas is in winter and Easter is celebrated in spring? Because winter is like symbolising the end - of hardship, pain, suffering etc. And spring symbolises a new start/ beginning! It also means hope.

In Genesis, God commands us to fulfill the earth and order it. That we are to extend the rule of heaven on earth. We're the creatures God chose to do that, to work with and to have a relationship with.

I love this part:
"We live in a world where reality becomes what things are made of. But that is just actually part of what they are, what their true meaning is. Being worldly is to treat reality as if the world/earth is all that it is."
I wanted to ask him to quote a scripture to support that. But there wasn't time. I wanted to ask alot of questions as well. There was too much to absorb! And i think my notes left out quite an amount of important points just because i couldn't write fast enough. Should have been smarter to just record it! Bengang. =/

So, the way back to heaven is barred. His creatures in rebellion against Him. He decided to redeem.

The Holy of Holies - the connecting point from earth to heaven and vice versa. And then the incarnation of Jesus - fully God and fully man.

We live in a world where it's 100% reality. But in reality, the world we're living in is actually 200% reality, or even up to 900% reality!

It's actually deeper and thicker than what we think it is, than what it is made of. It's still physical, but more.

During Jesus' baptism - heaven's being torn open. The same thing happened during Jesus' cruxifiction (after he shouted "It is finished!"), the temple's curtain was torned open from top to bottom.

Now heaven is flooding into earth. And this same Jesus who has been taken into heaven, will come back. It's heaven on earth. Heaven coming to earth instead of us going to heaven. (New Jerusalem will be coming down from heaven to earth).

Heaven's poured out at the day of Pentecost. Heaven comes and fills God's earth with God's rule, then it's back to the Eden story again! (only with sin lurking around waiting to be defeated that is.)

We're the image of God. We're the seen expression of the unseen.

Glory actually means weight, depth, thickness, something profound.

Art talks about unseen things through the seen. The unseen is in rebellion as well.

Heaven is not an immaterial dimension of reality, for God did not redeem the immaterial? Heaven is invisible, but not immaterial.

Jesus has a physical body after ressurection. So where's Jesus' body? It goes with Him to heaven. That means heaven has physicality to it. Same goes with angels.

There're 2 dimensions of God's creation. We're the flat part, while heaven gives dimension to earth (us).

Heaven is weighty, and has access to all time and space on earth. So that means Jesus and the cross can work thorugh time and space as well/ moving between the dimensions.

The universe is inexhaustable. Can you imagine?

"But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ,.." - Philippians 3:20

So live in a heavenly way. We're doing what we'll be doing when we're in heaven. (Living in the spirit, where the flesh(ly desires) is already crucified on the cross.)

When you're a new creation, it can be seen through the quality and fullness of your life.

"More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.

But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For he "has put everything under his feet." Now when it says that "everything" has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all." - 1 Corinthians 15: 15-28

We need to fix our minds on heaven. Learn to see the whole of reality instead of just the worldly point of view. It's bigger than earth itself. Expand our "flatland" reality into a 3D heavenly reality. It's the word of God or human beings.

Every time is static. Eternity, doesn't deny time but it's infinite.

Colossians 2:
"1I want you to know how much I am struggling for you and for those at Laodicea, and for all who have not met me personally. 2My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, 3in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. 4I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments. 5For though I am absent from you in body, I am present with you in spirit and delight to see how orderly you are and how firm your faith in Christ is.
Freedom From Human Regulations Through Life With Christ
6So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, 7rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

8See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.

9For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, 10and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority. 11In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, 12having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.

13When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made youc]"> alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. 15And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.d]">

16Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. 17These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ. 18Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you for the prize. Such a person goes into great detail about what he has seen, and his unspiritual mind puffs him up with idle notions. 19He has lost connection with the Head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow.

20Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules: 21"Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!"? 22These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings. 23Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence."

We are to be a body in a fullness of reality?

We watched a video of Dr Quantum visits Flatland to help us understand the whole concept of the dimensions.

It's the flatland, where only forward, backward, left, right exists. There're no such thing as up and down. And that they have no concept pf 3D objects.

I googled Dr Quantum and found the video in Youtube!:

Fear of the unknown?
"You'll have to become it to know."

So, art is about serving others.

Someone suggested that we're being disobedient to God if we're not using our gifts given to us.

We are to ask ourselves: How are the people to be served? Who are the people?

Art is love and service functioning in the kingdom of God.

Have a deeper art to shine out. Let it provoke conversation and discussions of something/ issues, etc.

The way people read something is very subjective and personal. How can you communicate and let the audience relate, connect and be blessed? And how much of ourselves are coming through it? (We are to be light and salt of the world, not the other way round.)

If we're 'reproducing someone else's work, "Are ____ being played/made? Or (you/whoever) is playing making?"

For example in music, if a person were to play Beethovan's Symphony No.3 in E flat major 'Eroica' on piano - "Is Symphony No.3 in E flat major 'Eroica' being played?" or " (Insert your name here) is playing."?

To glorify God is to add depth of seen and unseen, being obedient, faithful, in the way you live your life.

Ask yourself what are the different ways we can glorify God?

Humanize each other. Know what it really means to be an artist servant.

Be saturated by God's work. Clean, create, increase the order and beauty of our environment. Are we communicating something that's real, true and glorious?

Know the steps/levels and your audiences' steps they're capable of. (To avoid letting your art not fulfilling its purpose.) For example, the stage design. Will it distract people from worshipping God in spirit and in truth? Or will it compliment and point them towards the beauty of God?

The question can also be turned into: "How does our deliberate human action function in the kingdom of God?"

Our art is not to pacify and put people to sleep, but to challenge them, make them grow, wake them up and help them to be human. Communicating is challenging, engaging. And art is all about communication. And art is also a language because the purpose of language is to communicate in a community.

On the issue of manipulation, there's nothing wrong in making the audience feel certain emotions (especially in music). Part of relationship is to have emotions. Art (music etc) enchance and help the audience feel what's going on.

Manipulation is getting people to feel one thing when another thing is happening.

On illustration for (story)books, it is to invite deeper exploration into the story.

Ask yourself whether what you make is part of a new creation?

In the process of creating, we grow ourselves.

In God's perfection, there're opportunities, not finality.

God's kingdom is alway expanding, growing and more glorifying. And we're part of it.

Beauty is:
  • Balanced
  • Coordinated
  • Rich
  • Deep
  • Dynamic
  • True
Have deeper aesthetics in what you do and make.

There's the reductionism that comes from the fall. All sin is reduction. It's taking something and making them everything.


Phew..that's about it from the art track. There's still the international track and 'evening celebrations' we have every night with great speakers.

If you're not in the area of creative arts, you're still an artist in your own way! Because art is deliberate human action. :)

So, unleash your creativity people! :D