Chariots Of Fire and the New Year

During a recent quarantine due to the flu, I decided to watch the 1980 movie,  Chariots Of Fire.  For those of you who have seen it, you know the plot line well.  For those of you who have never watched it, you should.  It won many Academy Awards as a “Cinderella” film, including motion picture of the year, and has remained a classic to this day.  It is WELL worth viewing.

I started thinking about how the message of this movie, if implemented, could affect my life in the coming year.

Here are some quotes and how I will attempt to apply them for the New Year:

 Eric Liddell says, “I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure.”

God intends for us to use the gifts and abilities He has given us for His glory.  At the same time, He is honored when we do and it delights Him when we find our joy in doing what He created us to do.

  • I will strive, in the coming year, to only do the things that I know God created me to do.  Any other expenditure of energy is wasted.

Harold Abrahams confesses,  “I’m forever in pursuit and I don’t even know what I am chasing.”

How many of us, me, spend too much time pursuing what doesn’t matter.  A pastor friend of mine once said, “You are in the process of becoming forever what you are right now.” I don’t want to spin my time in frivolous pursuits.

  • I will know what I’m pursuing and why, anything else is in vain.

The Rev. J. D. Liddle, “You can praise God by peeling a spud if you peel it to perfection. Don’t compromise. Compromise is a language of the devil. Run in God’s name and let the world stand back and in wonder.”

Colossians 3:23, a favorite of mine speaks to this.  “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men,”

So does Psalm 37:5, “Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass.”

Bring what to pass? Verse 6 tells us, and I believe that’s what Rev. Liddle is speaking of,  “He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, And your justice as the noonday.”

When we honor God in all that we do, and we do what we do with excellence and commitment, people will see.  But they won’t see us lifted up, they will see God lifted up.

  • I will not look to man but to God, even when doing the simplest and most mundane of tasks.

Eric Liddell, “You came to see a race today. To see someone win. It happened to be me. But I want you to do more than just watch a race. I want you to take part in it. I want to compare faith to running in a race. It’s hard. It requires concentration of will, energy of soul.  And where does the power come from, to see the race to its end? From within. Jesus said, “Behold, the Kingdom of God is within you. If with all your hearts, you truly seek me, you shall ever surely find me.” If you commit yourself to the love of Christ, then that is how you run a straight race.”

Our motivation should not come from external pressures or deadlines or influences.  If it does, it will be fleeting.  We must concentrate, we must think, we must ask for wisdom and then pursue.  Like Paul says,  “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.  Every athlete exercises self-control in all things.” (I Corinthians 9:24-25aESV)

But why do we run?  He answers that question in the following verses,  “They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” (I Corinthians 9:25b-37 ESV)

That’s it!  Exercising control in ALL things!  Boy, do I need to learn to do that.

  • I will commit myself to pursuing Christ and discipline myself, mind, body and soul to that end.  That will be why I run and how I run this race of life,  “Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”  (Hebrews 12:2 ESV)

Older and Wiser? It’s a Choice.

There is a quote, attributed to the Irish playwright Oscar Wilde, that says, ““With age comes wisdom, but sometimes age comes alone.”  I do not at all endorse Oscar Wilde, his lifestyle was anything but exemplary, but this quote has a lot of substance.  We should give pause to think about this.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how, or if, I should seek out those younger than me to possibly impart the wisdom I’ve garnered from life’s experiences.  Now, when I say “the wisdom I’ve garnered” believe me, I’m NO sage!  Most of the wisdom I feel like I’ve attained has come from doing the wrong things and then learning from them!  Kind of a trial by fire proposition for me.

As you age, it is your choice whether you are going to invest in the lives of those younger than you.  It’s a lot easier to keep the wisdom you’ve gleaned to yourself.  It takes work to impart and instruct that same wisdom to those who are younger.  Granted, some won’t receive it, or think you’re arrogant or haughty, but I believe if it is done in the right spirit and with the proper heart, it will be well received.

I know there have been mentors through my life who took the time to teach and impart wisdom, and I am a better person for it.

Some examples from Scripture:

Now Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom, for Moses had laid his hands on him; so the children of Israel heeded him, and did as the Lord had commanded Moses.  (Deuteronomy 34:9 NKJV)

I believe Joshua received wisdom because of Moses’ influence in his life and of course, by the Spirit of the Lord.

Now Solomon the son of David was strengthened in his kingdom, and the Lord his God was with him and exalted him exceedingly.  (2 Chronicles 1:1 NKJV)

Perhaps, Solomon received his extraordinary wisdom from the Lord as a result of his father’s influence.

I’ve had the opportunity, on more than one occasion, to just sit and talk with someone many years older than me.  I always come away with a refreshed perspective and having learned a valuable lesson, or having gained wisdom.

Don’t debate too much.  If you have been blessed to live into your later years, and yes for me that means over 50, then make the choice to invest.  Invest and impart the wisdom you have been given.  Then you really will be older and wiser, and not just old!

The Creative Gift of Creating

I’ve been thinking today, as I work on a new project, about how we, as creative-types, are so wonderfully blessed to be able to create art from nothing.  Nothing, in the sense that we start with a blank canvas (e.g. a piece of manuscript paper, blank Finale template, empty DAW session, etc.) and then output a totally original piece of art.  Perhaps, an expression of who we are, but I think better stated, an expression of who God is.

Give me a little bit to explain my thought process.

Genesis 1:1-2 says,  “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.” (ESV)

Let’s break this down and see how it applies to my point.

In the beginning.  All art has a beginning.  Whether it’s a thought or a concept, a germ of inspiration, or whatever, it all has to start at the beginning.  Like the song says, “Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start.”

God created.  How cool is it that the the fourth and fifth words of Scripture say “God created!”  Right from the start we see that God is a creative God, and we, as creative artists, get to plug into that every day!  Wow!

The earth was without form and void.  Did you know that the second part of the definition of form in the dictionary is:

• arrangement and style in literary or musical composition

That’s exactly what we do when we create, we have to come up with a form for our work.  It’s not limited just to music, all art has a form, guidelines, structure.  Sure, you can expand and create within those guidelines but when you take it all apart, there is form.

Void.  The dictionary defines void as “completely empty.”  Again, blank paper, a lump of clay, an unshaped piece of stone, a blank canvas, empty Finale-template…you get the idea.  We start with nothing when we set out to create.  It can be kind of scary, but isn’t it awesome to know God started out the same way when He created everything we know now?

Darkness was over the face of the deep.  This word picture in my mind is an immense view of nothingness, and while we might not start out with utter darkness, many times those of us who create have the same feeling of not being able to see.  It can be overwhelming and yes, we often times feel like we’re drowning in the deep pit of creativity!  That’s why I’m thankful for the next part!

The Spirit of God was hovering.  Okay, another BIG wow!  As we begin to work God is with us every step of the way as we create!  His Spirit covers us, or hovers over us!  So, bring on the deep, bring on the darkness, bring on the void and lack of form. As creative beings, we have the Ultimate Creator’s Spirit with us as we do what we were created to do! We were created to create by the Creator!

We should never take for granted this gift of creating we’ve been given since the beginning of the earth. This thought should catapult is into realms of creativity we’ve never even dreamed of!  For me, this thought has most definitely inspired me, even in the midst of this project!

Take a Deep Breath

It has been quite a while since I’ve given a health update, so here it goes.

On Monday, April 16 I traveled to Duke for a Clinic visit, which included a chest X-ray, labs, Pulmonary Function Tests and a visit with the doctor.  I am grateful to announce that all is well after almost 4 years!

My pulmonary function was up 8%, which up is always a great thing!  Labs were normal, at least something about me is right now! And the X-ray was clear!

We continue to be grateful for the way the Lord has taken care of us through all of this journey and yes, it continues to be a journey with challenges both big and small.  But I’ve been reminded in the last several weeks of this passage which pretty well sums up all God can do!

20  “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21  to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20-21 ESV)

I realize this verse is not just speaking of physical things but of the supernatural and spiritual as well, but what a promise to know that God’s power is continually at work within those who believe in Him and call on His name!  And the great news too is that it goes on generation after generation in fact, forever!  And forever is a pretty long time!

So yes, I do take a deep breath, and breathe a silent prayer of gratitude for all He has done in my life!  And boy am I thankful I can!