Thursday, July 18, 2013

Worshipping With All Your He{art}: Chapter 1

This is something I worked on awhile back.  I intended it for a Bible study type book, able to be done with a group or by yourself.  I will post it in several different chapters.  Each will be long on here.  I'd love to hear what you think about it, and I'd love to see how you use this information.  Feel free to start your own group using this information, and please share with me what projects you make!  :)

Here ya go...

with all your he{art}
 By Pamela Young


Chapter 1: A Lifestyle of Worship
Chapter 2:  Intentionally Focused
Chapter 3: At His Feet
Chapter 4: The Act of Prayer
Chapter 5: The Heart of Worship
Chapter 6:  Sharing Your He{art}   

The expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.  (Oxford Dictionary)

The feeling or expression [act] of reverence and adoration for a deity. (Oxford Dictionary)

Chapter 1:  A Lifestyle of Worship

We serve a creative God.  All you need to do is take a look around you to see the wonders of His creation.  He is an artist. When we stop and think about who God is and who we are, what He has done and what we have done, how can we not fall to our knees and worship our God? I think many of us are a bit confused about what it means to worship. We tend to think it is a set of songs that we sing at the beginning of our church service. Ahh...but worship is so much more than that. A very wise person once told me "worship is more the state of the heart than the state of our art." Worship isn't just music. Worship can be anything and everything. We, as Christians, are to cultivate a lifestyle of worship! 1 Corinthians 10:31 clearly tells us that WHATEVER we do, we should do it for the glory of God!  Even painting, scrapbooking, card making, writing or drawing can be done in worship! Our hobbies, our art, can be done as worship to God. Do you believe that? Isn't it He that gave us our gift of creativity? Don't you think it gives Him pleasure to see us use it?

Let’s explore what worship really is a bit more.

Worship is an expression of our love to God.  It is a response to His love.  So what has He done for us?  God sent His son to die on the cross for our sins!  He offers us salvation through His son Jesus Christ!  He delivered us from the power of sin as well as the penalty of sin—two very distinct and amazing things!  If you have been a Christian for a long time, you may just read that quickly and not put much thought into it…after all, we’ve heard it a million times.  So take a small break and actually ponder on this.  Go ahead, I’ll wait for you.

But God has done so much more than even that.  He extends forgiveness, love, and grace to each of us.  I can’t count the number of times I have messed up--I mean royally messed up.  But He gives us forgiveness and WIPES THE SLATE CLEAN!  He makes us a blank canvas.

And He even offers us more.  He offers us a relationship!  We are able to sit at His feet.  We are allowed to KNOW Him. Really that is an amazing thought, and something we often take for granted.  We have so much to be thankful for.  He has done so much for us!  The natural progression is for us to respond to His love with our own love.  We call that worship.

Worship is a personal experience.  Whether you are alone in your room, in the middle of a church service, or even in an office, it is still a personal experience between you and God.  And, if you are worshipping with a pure heart and your focus is on Him, then it becomes a very intimate experience.  I can remember the many times where I felt the presence of God so much that it literally brought tears to my eyes.  After experiencing that, I just wanted more of Him.  But you don’t have to be sitting quietly in your room or in church to worship.  You can worship through daily activities.  You can worship by doing the very best at your work, not because someone else is watching, but because you are doing it for God and you know He is watching.  You can worship through prayer.  You can worship through obedience.  You can even worship through forgiveness.  People in general seem to have trouble with forgiveness, even Christians.  But forgiving others can be done as an act of worship to our God.  Those actions may not seem like worship to you, but anything you do FOR God is an act of worship.  And by worshipping God we are saying “He is worthy”.  Isn’t He?

We all worship something or someone.  You can’t get away from it.  The first object of worship that pops into most people’s minds is money.  There are many people that worship money.  They live for it!  They work for it!  They’ll do anything for money.  It simply holds a special place in their heart.  But you cannot serve both God and money (Matt. 6:24). 

Other people are another common object of worship.  They can be celebrities or common people.  Oprah reigned as an icon and idol throughout the first decade of the 21st century.  She is a good example of people worshipping an individual.  A lot of people lived for Oprah.  They made sure to see all her television shows.  They would sit and wait for her to say the next awesome thing that was just totally going to change their life.  If Oprah said something was good, then people would run out and buy it.   I’m not saying anything bad about Oprah personally, but they were clearly worshipping her.  For some, this is still true today.

Another example could be the Tim Tebow phenomenon.  I live in Colorado, and in 2011 we had a wonderful man on our football team.  You may have heard of him—Tim Tebow?  He no longer plays for the Broncos, but I found his year with us amusing.  Tim is a Christian celebrity and lives his life in a way that I admire.  He gives all glory to God.  He is an awesome man.  But what I witnessed were people, Christians, making Tim Tebow an object of worship instead of worshipping the One Tim worshipped along with him. 

Wouldn’t you rather sit at the feet of Jesus and wait for Him to say something that changes your life?  Don’t you want to read about what God thinks is good?  These people we worship can be GOOD people.  Perhaps it’s a teacher or role model.  Dare I even say it, but maybe it’s your pastor?  And listen up, it can even be a spouse or someone you are dating!  I see many women out there looking for fulfillment and purpose through a man.  They unknowingly assign the role of God to their husband or boyfriend instead of allowing God to be that one that they long for, the one they run to, and the one they worship.  Jonah 2:8 tells us “Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.”  Wow, what a scary thought!  I don’t know about you, but I NEED God’s grace.  I LOVE God’s grace.  I can’t live without God’s grace.  Have you been worshipping something or someone else?  Now is the time to change that. 

Worship pleases God!  And it pleases God when we use the gifts and the creative mind that He has given us.  Romans 12:1 tells us “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.”  We offer everything we do to God.  That is worship, and that pleases Him.  I love the Message’s version of Ephesians 5:10, it reads “Figure out what pleases Christ, and then do it.”  It’s not talking about one thing.  It is referring to one thing after another after another…a lifestyle that pleases God.  1 Thessalonians 4:1 tells us, “Finally brothers, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living.  Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more.”  It really is a lifestyle of worship that pleases the Lord.  A lifestyle of worship includes your daily lives, your likes and dislikes, your hobbies and your passions.  The Lord has given us specific skills and passions.  We see that over and over in the Bible, such as Romans 12:6-8, James 1:17, 1 Peter 4:10-11 and Matthew 25:14-30.  My favorite would be Exodus 35: 30-35:

Then Moses said to the Israelites, “See, the Lord has chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and He has filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts—to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood and to engage in all kinds of artistic craftsmanship.  And He has given both him and Oholiab son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan, the ability to teach others.  He has filled them with skill to do all kinds of work as craftsman, designers, embroiders in blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen, and weavers—all of them master craftsman and designers.

Did you catch that?  He’s talking about how God gave people artistic skills.  This particular passage is talking about the building of the tabernacle, but it clearly states that God gave artistic skills to certain people so that they can use those skills for His glory.  And I’d just like to mention that even Jesus had a hobby, an art—he was a carpenter, a craftsman!  Yes, he did this for his job, but I’d like to think that he was serving God by doing it.

You actually can find purpose in worshipping God.  You can be fulfilled in a way nothing on earth can do.  Peter actually tells us that our very purpose is to praise God.  1 Peter 2:9 reads “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.”  When I spend time with God…when I worship God, it creates a longing in my soul for more of Him.  I feel fulfilled simply because of my time with God.  This IS my purpose.   

So here’s the next question…how do you actually worship God with your hobbies or your art?  I asked multiple people that question and I would get answers like “pray while you are creating” or “sing praise songs while working.”  Those are absolutely fabulous things to do, and yes they are forms of worship, but I don’t want you to feel like in order to be worshipping God while creating that you have to be singing the whole time or praying the whole time.  Although, I went to a Women of Faith conference recently and one of the speakers talked about a cleaning lady that was singing songs to God the entire time she worked.  I don’t know about you, but I really like that picture, I can envision her in my mind and it brings a smile to my face.  If that is you, it is awesome.  But I think it’s really very simple.  If God has given us a talent, and we are using it, then we are honoring Him, we are worshipping Him just by using it. 

There ARE things we can do to make it even more of an obvious worship experience. Our minds run constantly.  Sometimes I wish I had an off button for my thoughts, but God didn’t create us with an off button.  You can train yourself to think of God and the things He has done for you while working.  You can think back to the sermon at your church last weekend and dwell on the things you heard and the things you learned.  You can put on headphones and listen to Christian music.  You of course can pray and sing like the cleaning lady. You can listen to the Lord, and respond to what He is working on in you.  I think if your thoughts are dwelling on God, then whatever your hands are working on will reflect a worshipping heart.  When singers spend time with God, love songs to the Lord come out of them.  It’s the same with our art.  I like to use Bible verses on my art or as inspirations for my art, but you don’t even have to do that.  If you examine nature (God’s art) you see all sorts of colors, textures and designs.  One can assume that He enjoys these things.  God can take pleasure in your colors, textures, and designs. 

This concept of worshipping through your art is not a new one.  There are many examples throughout history.  A recent example would be Danny Hahlbohm.  You may not recognize the name right away.  He is a Christian painter.  He started as an artist, until he felt God was telling him to use his gifts for God’s glory, so he started doing Christian paintings.  One particular painting really made him well known.  That painting was his “Footprints in the Sand” painting.  Today he is an established Christian artist living his life for God.  He writes of conversing with God while painting and being inspired by God’s designs all around him.  He calls his website “Inspired Art”, not because his work is inspiring but because it is inspired by God.  I would call him a true worshipper with a lifestyle to prove it. 

I have a broad definition of art and a broad definition for worship.  When we humans try to limit what fits into those categories we actually limit what God can do in our life.  He’s given us experiences that we are to use for His glory.  He’s given us talents that we are supposed to use for His glory.  Your art can be an offering to God.  Why?  Because He has done so much for us!  I love the words of the song “For All You’ve Done” sung by Point of Grace.  I want to share the words here.  If you know the song, feel free to sing out.  For we know that worship doesn’t solely mean singing, but singing can most certainly be a part of worship.  If you don’t like to sing or are not in a place where you feel you can break out in song, just take a moment to read the words of this wonderful song:

For All You’ve Done

Oh cleanser of the mess I’ve made,
Upon the hill our places trade.
Stretched on a cross your body crushed,
By human hands You formed from dust. 

How wonderful Your mercy is
How awesome are Your ways
I come, I come
To worship You
For all You've done

Oh cleanser of the mess I've made
Your boundless love for me portrayed
With patience for my learning curve
By holding back what I deserve

How wonderful Your mercy is
How awesome are Your ways
I come, I come
To worship You
For all You've done

Oh cleanser of the mess I've made
With everything at Your feet laid
I watch as all my cares erode
And from my soul these words explode

How wonderful Your mercy is
How awesome are Your ways
I come, I come
To worship You
For all You've done

Oh I worship You for all You’ve done!

Holy, holy, holy
(You’re my healer, my cleanser, my father, oh my savior!)
Holy, Holy, Holy
(We worship You, You’re wonderful, Oh You’re wonderful)
Holy, holy, holy
(We worship You, we worship You)

This first challenge is a simple one.  Pull out your Bible and find a verse or passage that you love or let God inspire you through a new verse.  Use the Bible as inspiration to create a piece of art.  You can use the verse on your art piece or just use it as inspiration for your art.  You will quickly learn that I believe there are many different types of art.  I consider scrapbooking and paper crafts, and even quilting “art”.  So don’t let the word “art” intimidate you.  And remember, perfection is overrated…especially in art.  In fact, it is often in the imperfections that the beauty shines through. 

Here are examples of pieces I created:

   Psalm 62:7 Canvas 

Supplies: Canvas, Paint, Patterned Papers (Prima Marketing), Chipboard Letters (American Crafts, Prima Marketing), Letter Stickers (Scenic Route), Lace (Offray), Gems (Prima Marketing), Chipboard (Maya Road), Flowers (Prima Marketing). 

How I created my piece: I first covered my canvas with a few different shades of pinks and a cream paint.  I added some branches and a butterfly design in paint.  Using chipboard letters and stickers, I wrote out my verse (Psalm 62:7).  Then I added some papers, gems, lace, flowers and chipboard to my canvas.

Add caption
     Psalm 121 Canvas 

Supplies: Canvas, Paint, Papers (Crate Paper, My Mind’s Eye), Floss, Lace (Rusty Pickle), Gem (Prima Marketing). 

How I created my piece: I first added some blue paint to top portion of my canvas, and some green to the bottom portion.  I then added blue circles on top of the blue and green stripes on top of the green.  Then I built my house out of papers and lace.  I added clouds in the sky and hand-made flowers on the grass.  Then I printed my verses (Psalm 121) and cut apart each word.  I added my verses in a way that they were part of my design, starting at the house and working their way around the whole canvas.  

Fruit Of The Spirit Canvas

Supplies: Canvas, Paint, Ink, Papers (Fancy Pants Designs).

How I created my piece: I created a background of boxes with various colors of paint.   I added textures, additional colors and outlines to the boxes.  Then I hand cut leaves from patterned paper and arranged them into flowers flowing across the canvas.  Then I painted the words as stems.  The words are the fruit of the Spirit that you can find in Galatians 5:23-23.  

If you are doing this study as a group, share your work with one another and talk a little bit about it.  

If you want to share your work online with me and anyone who reads this, go ahead and link your work up here:

Group Discussion Questions

Chapter 1:
1.     What is worship?  What are some ways you can worship God?
2.     What are some things people can worship other than God?
3.     Have you ever thought of God as an artist?  What do you think about that?
4.     How do you worship God through your art or craft? 
5.     Do you think it gives God pleasure to see us using our gifts?  Do hobbies and art fall into the “gifts” category?
6.     Why should we worship God?  Were we created to worship? 
7.     What has God done for you? 
8.     What does it mean to “lose yourself” in worship?

** All scripture comes from the New International Version unless stated otherwise.  

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