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Releasing The Heart Of God Through Creative Worship

“So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” Genesis 1:27.

We were created in the image of God, and part of being made in His image was to reflect His heart as Creator. There is a part of bearing His image on earth that can only come through art and creativity. I have found that I feel the heart of the Father when I create beauty, especially in places where there was none previously. It makes me wonder what He first felt when He created the world, and even more so when He first breathed life into Adam. I can imagine the joy in that moment, as His beloved son opened his eyes and stared back in wonder at his Maker. The excitement that must have hung in the air as He showed him the garden He had made for Him.

We don’t find the need to create beauty in the animal kingdom. They may build homes, but this is driven by practicality and the need for shelter and a place to raise young. With the exception of a few bird species, aesthetic beauty is not something animals desire to create. Even with these few bird exceptions, any attempt at aesthetics is merely to increase the chances of catching a mate, or an attempt to deceive the potential mate into thinking that they are larger than reality. There is no creating for the sake of creativity found in nature. We, as the only creatures made in the image of God, have been given this ability and desire to create beauty and order. The longing to create beauty for the sake of beauty is only found in the heart of man, and is not present in the heart of beast. Creativity therefore sets us apart from mere brute and beast, and allows us to demonstrate an aspect of the heart of God that no other creature can demonstrate.

Originally God was primarily known as Creator. We first knew God as Creator, as He first acted and revealed Himself as our Creator. Therefore, the primary way for mankind to bear His image on the earth would have been through creating. This would include gardening and artwork but also engineering and really any means of taking chaos and turning it to order. The original command to tend the garden was to take the raw materials and create, it was to take the potential that God created and bring it to fullness. God gave Adam and Eve a canvas with all the tools they would need to continue to create. In the garden there were endless opportunities for new growth, new life and new order, and so God placed Adam and Eve in the garden with the command to tend to it. Therefore, an integral part of worship is bearing His image on the earth through creating beauty and order. This would include building, art, math, song, dance, gardening, and many other avenues of order.

The essence of bearing the image of God on the earth is taking disorder and making order. In creating things that are good, we release God’s heart into the world. We are designed to reflect His creativity and to bring life, beauty and order into the earth.

When I look at the earth, I get excited because I see a wonderful canvas just waiting for the children of God to turn it to beauty. I see the earth and ground, groaning and waiting to be turned into a garden again. I see endless potential, every raw material and thing we would ever need to create order and endless beauty. I feel the excitement of the Father and His endless creative energy and passion.

Within the realm of music, we are given the ability and the elements we need to create, yet we are released into our own unique expressions. God created sound, He created notes and music theory and He breathed creativity into us. We then created instruments. We created songs and melodies and harmonies. In His creation of sound, we are given endless potential to continue to create through turning His sound into music. We get to take His overarching creation of sound, and we turn it into ordered melodies and music. What He created was a tool for us to use to continue to bear His image on earth through our own creation. It is after His own heart that we create, and this then becomes an avenue for worship. Everything He made is simply a canvas for us to use to worship Him.

God didn’t create a few songs, or even a few hundred songs for us to play and sing. Rather, He created a system in which we were provided the means of endless creativity in sound and song. For thousands of years we have now been creating instruments, melodies and music, yet the potential in what He has created for us has nowhere near been reached. We have not even begun to exhaust the limits of what He has given to us. All of this is so that we may be equipped to praise and glorify His name. He has given us everything we need to glorify and bear His image as a Creator in the earth.

He gave us the gift of creating. The canvas was there, and all the tools we needed. But He let us discover how to use them. He allows us to use sound that He created to make our own unique sound and He LOVES it. He is overcome by emotion as He sees us doing what He does. He loves seeing us manifest and demonstrate His nature on earth, and that is ultimately what we do when we create, administer, and engineer beauty and order in the earth.

The intention of all His creation is for us to use it to bring Him glory and so that we may have a means of doing what we see our Father doing. He created everything good, but He didn’t create everything finished and perfected because He longed to work through us. He wanted us to be able to do what we saw the Father doing. The longing for expressions of beauty through art, creativity and order is deeply written into our nature as sons and daughters of the living God.

I think creativity in the Christian life is meant to be a source of joy. God created the world joyfully, and I believe we are meant to create with joy as well. As we do what we see the Father doing, which is turning chaos into beauty, it unlocks an ability to feel joy in our heart. It serves as a reminder that God is working, and that He will turn all things to beauty.

In the Scriptures, creativity is held as a very strong value in worship. Over and over again we see the command in the Bible to sing a new song. In Scriptures we see no singular model, format or song to be solely used in worship, but rather we see God longs for endless creativity in the worship of His saints. Time after time God asks for the sound of worship to be released through many different instruments and even through dance. “Praise Him with the timbrel and dance; Praise Him with stringed instruments and flutes! Praise Him with loud cymbals; Praise Him with clashing cymbals! Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord!” Psalm 150:4-6.

In order to reach the depth of creativity in worship that God Himself deserves and desires, the creative song of every tribe, nation and tongue must be released. We see the beginning of this longing fulfilled in Revelation 5:9-10, “And they sang a new song, saying: “You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; for You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and have made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on earth.”

There is a sound that God has placed in every tribe, tongue, people and nation that only they can release. There is a reflection of His heart that can only be released and demonstrated on the earth through the priesthood of every tribe, tongue, people and nation. The Great Commission is unto a creative renaissance as the nations are released to bear the image of God in the earth through worship. All of creation will be brought to their knees in awe and wonder as His name is made great through the creative worship of all the saints in all the earth. We go to the nations with the intention of equipping them and releasing them into their own creative sound and expression.

When worship stops or is not present, disorder and array naturally begin to occur. However, in the presence of God order is released through worship. This is why Paul states that God is not a god of disorder but of peace. He creates order in worship.

Worship is the means and the conduit of a rebuilding process. When God created the earth He made it as a sort of canvas for man. He then placed man in the garden, with the job of tending to the garden. But through the fall, sin and the curse of death entered the world. Now that there has been redemption, the world waits and groans for the sons of God to be revealed. I believe this is because the Lord will work through His sons and daughters to restore the earth to as it should be. Often we see that when a good father has a child, and that child makes a mistake and breaks something, the good father will involve the child in the process of making it right and fixing it. I believe God will do the same, and will restore the earth through His sons and daughters. I believe a creative renaissance will be a part of the restoration of the earth, as we step back into our place of bearing His image on earth.

The singular greatest mechanism for the rebuilding of a nation torn by war is the release of worship and creativity through its own people. This is why when MAPS goes to nations torn by war and terrorism, we often offer music lessons, and musical worship is always at the forefront of what we do. We believe that through the building of incense and worship in the nations, destinies of individuals and nations will be released and a restoration process will begin.

 

Hannah Davis, MAPS Global leader

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The Singing God

All of our exploits of global evangelization are fixed immovably between the bookends of history: Beginning and End- Creation and Recreation. This intermediate dispensation is one of utmost peculiarity. In this flicker of a few thousand years of time there actually exists a sub-reality that stands in contrast with the rest of eternity itself. That sub-reality is that the eternal triune God, revealed in the Person of Jesus Christ, is not worshipped and extolled by all of what has been made by Him. One can hardly appreciate the gravity of this deficiency of praise because it has become the normal experience of Creation such that all the nations have forgotten the God who formed them (Ps. 9:17) and who upholds them (Heb. 1:3). Yet this is our reality- for now. Surrounding this age on all sides are choruses of endless songs that surge towards God in celestial bliss. The present darkness that stands in defiance to the command, “Let there be light!” will soon be engulfed in the praise of our singing God, never to rise again. The world missions movement is the expression of the Church’s role in administering the advancement of that light, of ending the darkness and replacing the silence with a song for all time.

Everywhere that God goes, song follows. It surrounds Him! It is what He enjoys. He delights in the worship of all that He has made. It’s what He chooses to live within; the very atmosphere around Him is electric with worship and always has been! God told Job that the hosts of angels, the “morning stars”, sang and shouted for joy during the creation of the earth. (Job 38:7). A multitude of angels burst forth in praise the night Jesus was born (Luke. 2:13,14). They live in perpetual worship before Him. (Ps. 148:2; 103:20) All around God’s throne are myriads of angels, living creatures and the company of the redeemed that sing His praises forever (Rev. 5:8-11;13). King David touched into the eternal reality of incessant worship and established it in his tabernacle around the Ark of the Presence of God 3000 years ago (1 Chron. 23: 30;31). God dwells within the canopy of His people’s praises (Ps. 22:3).

Even Jesus Himself sings songs of praise to our Father. On the night of His betrayal we see Him singing hymns to God surrounded by His friends (Matt. 26:30). In eternity past we see snapshots of the Son daily rejoicing before the Father (Prov. 8:30), praising Him among the assembly of the redeemed (Heb. 2:12) and giving glory to God (John 17:5). He even sings over His people (Zeph. 3:17). In this we see that Jesus is not a despot who stands aloof and demands songs arbitrarily from all creation but rather, He is the singing God who invites all of creation to enter into His eternal hymn of praise to His Father and our Father. He is the heavenly choirmaster- the worship leader of all ages. We are surrounded, not simply by praise, but by the praise of the eternal Son. In fact, His praise eclipses all other praise and we as redeemed creation are simply invited to join into His eternal song and hymn to God the Father. It is this eternal, unending song that He invites all of creation to join in and His invitation to every nation is the gospel!

Jesus’ commission to reach the nations is an invitation to the world to join a song that will never end. Missions exist because worship doesn’t. It is His plan to restore the tabernacle of David (Acts. 15:16-18) and for songs to erupt across the cosmos (Is. 24:14-16)- on earth as it is in heaven! (Matt. 6:10) It is incredible that He has given such a task to His people, the Church! We have no higher joy or calling than to sing our praises to God and to invite the world to abandon their sin, lay down their arms and worship the eternal triune God of grace- the singing God.

 

Travis Owens, MAPS Global Leader

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Create and Demonstrate Love

“Art translates. Music translates. Songs go to places where preaching will never go. Art goes into spheres of society where you could never stand up and preach a message.” – Sean Feucht

Isn’t this a true statement? I remember years ago watching a documentary about the power of music called ‘The Music Instinct’ featuring musical genius and multi grammy award winner, Bobby McFerrin. It demonstrates how music/sound effects the body, mind, soul and spirit and why. This was mostly a scientific documentary but ultimately it resonates the reality of how we as human beings are affected by the attributes of creative sound. This is fascinating to me in the way of God being the Uncreated One who first created with sound. He made everything in heaven and in the earth with sound. Our very bodies are held together by frequency of sound spoken by God our Father! God started the whole creative process. God is the creator and Satan is the imitator. He (Satan) has actually no creative ability. He can only imitate and prevent what has already been created.

Music in fact does have multi-effects on humanity. As David played the harp heaviness was lifted off of the king. David wasn’t just playing a top 10 iTunes worship song. He was just releasing a sound. God moves through us as we release the creativity that is in our hearts through artistic expression.

I don’t want to lead you into thinking that music is the ultimate area of creative renaissance. Any artistic medium which a person uses to express oneself is an avenue of creative renaissance.

As believers in Jesus Christ, we are those who want to give all the glory and honor to Him who alone is worthy. One way we can best accomplish this is by knowing and operating in our gifts and talents through true Sonship. Living out our identity in Christ not only allows for us to live in freedom but it actually gives permission to others around us (or across the world) to live in this freedom of self expression as well. Romans 8:19 states For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God” As we walk in sonship, we create and release art that carries the power of the revelation of Jesus. When we create we are walking in true likeness of Christ. Because He creates, we then create. It’s giving the world an expression of true beauty that it has never seen or been moved by…yet! This is what the world is longing for whether they are in New York, Tokyo, Bali or Bagdad. The world is longing for the creative revealing of love that is drawing people into the beauty of Jesus.

“You can never have authority over what you don’t love.”

Do you have a heart to impact culture with faith through Jesus Christ? Then you must love the culture you are desiring to impact. You must pray for the culture you are wanting to see set free in the love of Jesus!

We are hearing all the time these days about people who are in the eye of the media that work in the arts and entertainment industry coming forth and expressing new life in Jesus Christ. This is amazing! There are many born again believers in very strategic places who have access to non-believing influential people that I would never get the chance to meet. They get the opportunity to be in relationships that have impact in the lives of these people who are just one encounter away from the love of Jesus. I, along with many others, am praying for these ones who are shifting atmospheres in an industry that is influencing our generation on multiple levels. The hope is not to just have another salvation check mark by a name of a person or people group we are for praying for but most of all that they have a genuine real encounter with the love of their Creator and that encounter would overflow in their lives and the lives around them. This is the heart of Jesus. This is the desire of a good Father.

My good friend Kyle Barr wrote this not long ago and it’s brilliant:

“God is endless and He is the creator and therefore we are creative beings(since we’re made in His likeness). Being “creative” is an expression of God and so to me a creative renaissance is an outpouring of Himself that’s being expressed through the Arts. You can’t express something or someone that you don’t personally know which is why this must come from a place of intimacy through worship and prayer. The Artisans in Exodus were given His Spirit to create and make the tabernacle which was the place where God dwelled with His people and where God encountered them. Therefore, I want to see artists today create music, dance, word, sculptures, etc with that same anointing that pull people into a direct tangible encounter with God. Just as Jesus came to give us an exact representation and picture of who God is, may we give exact images through creative art to show the Father!”

If you have a dream in your heart for an expression of creativity to grow in your life then I encourage you to find someone that is doing what you want to do or is going where you want to go and pursue relationship with them. I don’t mean call up Kari Jobe, Lenny Kravitz,  Kirk Cameron, Steven Baldwin, or Russel Willson and ask if you can be best friends. I mean find someone in your community who is doing something you want to do and ask them out for coffee and discuss these topics. The best place to grow creatively is in the context of community. If you don’t have a community then you need to find one and quick! It’s in these relationships that you can receive and give truth in love that inspires healthy growth. Without these types of relationships we will always be found wanting because we were made for them.

Create and demonstrate love in tangible ways with the humans around you and see life happen.

 

Katie Temple, MAPS Leader

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Why Send Praying Missionaries?

Throughout MAPS I have run into a question. Why would MAPS send missionaries with such a strong emphasis on building prayer in the nations? Even as I went to the nation of Iraq, a nation that has historically been torn up by war and was an active war zone at the time of my trip, there was the question of why would we spend so much time building prayer when we could be helping to meet the insurmountable physical needs? Were there not more important things to be doing?

 

As I faced this question, the words of the disciples surrounding Jesus at the table as Mary poured out her costly perfume echoed through my mind. “What a waste…” But I would beg to differ, you see if I can teach a nation to just touch the hem of His robe, then I know He will turn to them in compassion and heal their flow of blood. In a nation that has seen such bloodshed and violence, what is most needed is the presence of the Prince of Peace. We must teach the nations how to access the only One with the power and the authority to heal their immeasurable needs and crises.

 

See, the disciples were in the presence of Jesus, the One who is the Answer to the deepest needs of humanity, and yet they could not see it. They still sought the answer to their needs in money and in things outside of Jesus Himself. Yet, Mary looked at Jesus and saw His worth. She was more focused on the worth of Jesus and what He was doing in the earth than she was focused on the crisis at hand. She chose the greater thing, and was given something that could not be taken away from her. Jesus said to her that wherever the gospel was preached that what she did would be told in honor of her.  Jesus desires to find Mary’s in all nations, those who will recognize His worth and lavish their love on Him.

 

Beloved, we must come to realize that the greatest injustice in the earth is not abortion. It is not genocide, it is not rape and it is not poverty. For all of these stem from the greatest injustice of all. The greatest injustice of all, is that the worth of Jesus is not yet recognized fully in the earth, and that worship of Him is not the primary focus of mankind. Only when the worth of Jesus is recognized on the earth and when He becomes the primary focus of mankind’s attention will every other injustice fade from existence. Therefore, we must send missionaries who know the worth of their Beloved. We must send those who like Mary are willing to pour out their costly oil at the feet of Jesus.

 

Hannah Davis, MAPS Leader & Graduate