Real Treasures

So we’re driving back from Dallas and another long Sunday in the Inner City (really, we capitalized these words, as in Inner City Baptist Church) and Erwin begins explaining a message he had been working on. Yes, we had been in ministry activity all day long — Erwin is a little intense when it comes to Scripture.

“We give God our worst,” was the core truth of the message.  Wait a minute — we strive for excellence, we give Him our best when we serve Him. We love Him with the best we have. At least, that seemed to be the message I had gotten in church, and now in seminary, all my life.

But the principle that we give God our worst stuck in my mind. I didn’t agree with it, and I still wrestle with it since God is worthy of our best.

My relationship with God is an exchange. He give me His treasure and I give Him mine. His treasure is an eternity in friendship with Him, a relationship through His Son Jesus.

But what have I treasured. Wrongs done to me. Sinful habits. Envious thoughts. Places my heart and mind have lingered around, and at times jumped into full-on.  My treasures are the worst part of me because they are worth more than the greatest treasure God has given. I have placed great value on the very things that deflate the value I place on God’s mercy and favor.

My treasures are tangible. I can see them, touch them, befriend them, and place high worth to them. But they are so temporary, and really gone within seconds of the value I had place on them. Nothing left but the bad memory, the hurt friendship, the guilt.

Hosea said of Israel, “They are mud-spattered from head to toe with the residue of sin.” One writer has said that God has given us access to all He has created. We have access to His gifts, to use for His glory and to enjoy. He created it, we benefit from it.

And we give Him back the one thing that is solely ours through our creative powers alone — our sin. Everything else we do, live for, create, give purpose to, is a gift from the Great Giver. Except the sin we created by our own purpose.

The Great News is, He invites us to exchange gifts. We give Him the sin we created; He gives us mercy, favor, relationship, unfailing love. He gives us His best.

We give Him our worst.

Exchange gifts with the Great Giver when you pray today.

It’s the season!

Rick

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Gifts and Spincasters

Maybe its the season with all the giving and getting that Christmas calls for, that leads me to think on gifts and ownership. We give a present to someone we love with a lot of thought and expectation. Or we write a check or roll up some bills to drop in the offering on Sundays. Or more commonly, we give our time to someone or something we value, again rolled up in a tidy amount that we can afford like an offering.

So who owns all this stuff, this money, this time and energy we give away? When I was a little kid, my dad owned a fishing business. So, I grew up surrounded by the “hurry up and wait” people (and all their stuff) who hang out on piers and docks. Fishing is one of those, engage every sense possible, sports. Sounds of the waters lapping against the pier. Feel of the bait sliding onto the hook. I still get a rush at the first smell of the salty air from the ocean!

When I want to fish, my dad points to the corner of the shop where all of his rental and personal rods and reels hang on the wall. Simple one-button reels and five foot “starter poles,” all the way to open-faced reels and spincasters with strong line and nine foot rods.

For years, I would always pick a little Zebco, one-button job. That satisfied me. I could bait it, drop the line in the water, and wait for the little fish to grab the goods.

But, my dad owned it all. And he was waiting for me to take the good stuff and use it for what it was designed for — to catch the big ones! (Years later, I got hooked on the good stuff and even caught a big one once or twice!)

God owns it all, and he sometimes sees us playing around with the “one-button job” while all along waiting for us to take up the good stuff He has promised us, use the awesome talents and gifts He has “hung on the wall” of our lives, and go after what He has designed us for and called us to.

He points us to it all the possibilities, but we grab the Zebco “starter pole.”

(I know this whole illustration has a whole disciple-making side — we need to grow up and learn to use what He’s offered us. Sometimes, we need to ask someone to help us use the spincaster. And we need to, by faith, take steps of using what He’s given us.)

Back to ownership. God really owns it all. Since He’s the Father, we look to where He points and to what He promises and offers us. It’s all there. We have access. We can use the gifts, the money, the time for what it was designed for. A full life invested for His glory. It all flows past so quickly, like the water through the gaps of the pier deck after a cloud-burst. So grab the spincaster and find the deep waters, and go for the big things God has waiting for you.

Going for the Big One! — Rick

“I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.” Ephesians 4:1

Telling the Greatest Story Through Art

Can the Arts take a significant place in global missions through OM? Field and area leaders from Europe invested a day discovering how professional artists are effectively declaring the Gospel through the Arts on the mission field.

Leaders from Finland, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, Italy, Central Europe and the Ships took part in the OM Arts Forum in Mosbach, Germany on November 23, 2009. The participants explores how the Arts can be integral to the mission of reaching the world for Christ and how artists can be effective colleagues and team members at the OM field level.

OM Arts Director Bill Drake led the forum and defined the vision and growth plans for the newly formed OM Arts International.

Drake addressed how an OM field can embrace Arts Ministry as a part of the field’s direction, how to best communicate Arts in the field’s vision, and how the field can lead, care for, and release the professional artist to fulfill their missions calling.

Consultant and Arts in mission catalyst Colin Harbinson led the forum participants through a Bible study of Bezalel, the artist chosen and called to work with Moses to create the tent and elements of worship commissioned by God on Mount Sinai.

Harbinson reminded forum participants that Bezalel was called and filled with the Spirit for the work of creating art for God’s glory.

Artists who are called to missions can be released to create art with excellence in the context of the OM field. Harbinson encouraged the need for professional artists in missions and warned that “art done poorly communicates poorly.”

Quoting writer A.W. Tozer, Harbinson affirmed that, “Christians are obligated to excellence because God is supremely excellent.”

OM Arts will work with field leaders to identify artists who are ready to serve in missions and help the fields and the artists to prepare to establish unique arts teams.

A leadership training seminar for artists preparing for missions will take place in Rome, Italy in conjunction with Transform 2010 in July. For more information about the training seminar or about OM Arts, contact info@arts.om.org.