Tate Modern

This past week, I took a holiday into London. It is my favorite city in the world, and if it wasn’t for the cost of living, I would probably be serving there instead of Birmingham (But that’s neither here nor there, everything worked out for the best).

One place I always seem to go when I visit London is the Tate Modern, a modern art museum on the south bank east of Westminster. It is all kinds of weird. Every time I go I see something new that blows my mind and makes me realize I don’t know what modern art is because what I just saw made no sense. For some of the pieces, if they told me they found it on another planet and it is our first glimpse into alien art, I would believe it. It can be that different.

But I think that is why I find myself going back, time after time.

When I go, I get to glimpse into the mind of someone who thinks very different from me. I get to see how a different perspective on life and a different way of thinking can create something that is radically different.

Even though it is all created by humans, it can seem alien. It drives home the idea that God made us uniquely different and we can contribute to the world in uniquely different ways. And this is a good thing!

While I am great at finding new ways to do things or finding opportunities to improve, I struggle with abstract thinking. True outside the box thinking eludes me most of the time. But not for these people.

So while I may think that the Tate Modern is a weird place with some really weird art, I love going there because it reminds me the value of people who think differently from me. It reminds me that not everyone sees the world the same way I do. And maybe I need more people like that in my life…

Kayne West and Jesus is King

Last week when Kanye West’s new album, Jesus is King, came out. There was a lot of buzz. Not just in the music world, but in the Christian world as well.

There were arguments and debates over the validity of his conversion. I don’t consider myself an authority at all, but if I had any influence over the 400 plus followers I have on Twitter (or anyone else who stumbled upon my page), I felt I needed to say something. So I kept it short and sweet.

But as the weekend past and we are marching late into the next week, people are still talking about Kanye and trying to decide whether or not he is a Christian or not.

First, that is not our place to decide.

And second, ss I said in the tweet, I don’t know Kanye, most of us don’t. We can’t tell from the articles we’ve read or the videos we’ve seen anything about his real life and whether or not he is bearing fruit.

But let’s just say for argument’s sake he hasn’t truly converted. I am reminded of what Paul said in Philippians 1, starting in verse 15:

Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from goodwill. The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.

Let me reiterate that last verse again:

What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.

We can argue all we want on whether Kanye is a Christian or not. But when I listen to his new album, when I see him on TV marketing his new album, and he’s proclaiming the name of Jesus. I rejoice! Amen.

Maybe we should stop wasting our time arguing over whether a person is saved or not, and instead rejoice and take advantage of the fact that millions of people are hearing the Gospel.

Introverts vs Extroverts

As I have reflected on courage and boldness recently, a nugget of truth came to mind as I thought about how it looks different in introverts and extroverts.

Both courage and boldness take intentionality.

Don’t let being an introvert give you an excuse to be a recluse or hermit.
Don’t let being an extrovert give you an excuse to be obnoxious and boorish.

It takes boldness and courage to step out of your comfort zone and actually engage with others.

Hiding in your room doesn’t let you engage with others. Dominating a conversation doesn’t let you engage with others.

In both cases, it takes intentionality to be bold and courageous.

So step out of your comfort zone.
Be intentional.
Be bold.
Be courageous.

Why I like to Travel

I’m probably not very different from my generation and the generation that follows me in that I love to travel. I love going to new places and seeing new things. The world is so big and has so much in it, I just want to go and see it.

But it’s more than just ticking a box or crossing off another item off the bucket list, travel inspires me. When I explore a new city, when I go someplace different, it’s almost like I’m discovering a new part of me.

My perspective gets stretched, my worldview expands. Every new place I see, every new person I met, I see the world a little bit different. It makes me a bit more empathetic. It helps me see a bigger picture. It causes me to grow.

When this happens I can’t go back to the old way of thinking, the old way of living. It’s like when blue mixes with yellow it becomes green, and try to add as much blue back as you want, but you’re never going to be the same color again. You are changed. While this may scare some people, it excites me.

It is that reason why I would rather live in a tiny, empty house and experience the world. I would rather have too many possessions and never see what the rest of the world has to offer.

That is why I like travel.

Story-formed

We all have a story to tell. Everyone.

We sometimes forget that. We don’t mean to, it’s just in our nature to be self-centred. When you walk into a coffee shop or restaurant, all those people are not just extras, background for your story. They each have a story to tell.

But as a Christian, there is another belief about stories I hold: That everyone’s story intersects with God’s story. God can speak into everyone’s story. It doesn’t matter where you’re from or what your story is.

As we live out the rhythms of our lives, we need to realise that everyone lives in the light of a larger story. We are not the centre of the universe, the world is not just the setting and background to our story. Our story is just one that is a part of the story God is trying to tell.

Search Me

Before she kissed a girl and liked it. Before she was hot n cold. Before she bragged about California girls. Katy Perry was Katy Hudson. Katy Hudson was a singer/songwriter and daughter of pastors.

She released a humble album as a teenager. A Christian album at that, with some really deep insights woven into her lyrics. We can say what we want about whether not it any of it rooted down or transformed her heart, but one thing I am certain about after hearing this album is Katy Hudson spent time with the Lord.

She sang about trusting the Lord, growing pains, and the ‘monster’ inside of her. She sang about not being enough and needing Him to sustain her or that faith won’t fail her.

I’m not here to speculate what happened. I don’t even want to make the assumption that anything did happen. I have not met Katy Perry, I have no idea what she is like in real life. She has been a public figure for over a decade and has people she pays to portray an image of her that will sell more albums. I don’t want to make the lazy assumption that her public image is who she really is.

Instead, I want to talk about one of the songs from her Christian album, Search Me.

I was reminded of this song because of a recent sermon at my church. The message was on Psalm 139. In verse 23, David writes “Search me, O God, and know my heart!”

This is bold ask. Asking God, who is all-knowing and all-powerful, to search our heart. That is surrendering to God and allowing Him to penetrate your heart. He will find things that you won’t like, He will find things that you don’t want him to find, and He will find things you didn’t even know that was there.

This can be a painful process. But asking Him to “Search Me” can be a great comfort as well. Because we know that He will see us for who we are and who we can become. He will see past the masks and facades we put up and see the real us, and love us for who we really are.

So even if it’s scary, ask God to “Search Me.” In His search, He will be able to reveal the best you and mould you like a potter moulds the clay. Life transformation is never easy, but is always worth it.

“Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting!”

-Psalm 139:23-24

Intolerable

This is something that even I struggle with this. Every day I walk by people I know aren’t believers, but just shoving a Bible in their face and telling them to believe is not going to work. Conversion is people work, and it is messy work. Lots of walls need to be torn down, lots of assumptions need to be changed. And let’s be honest, just relating with someone because you want them to convert is a sucky way to build a relationship. That is not how Jesus wants us to connect with others.

But still, if we allowed it to become intolerable to us, I think we would become more bold. I think we would stop letting the enemy create an atmosphere of complacency in our relationships. I think we would love them even more.

But don’t let that love or friendship have the ulterior motive of conversion, “I’m only friends with this non-believer because I want them to come to Christ.” NO. We need to genuinely love and care for them and adopt the mindset of “Yes, I will always be your friend, even if you never come to Christ, but know that I will always pray and hope that one day you will.”

Who is one person you need to pray for? Who do you want to know the joy and comfort of following Jesus? Now, how are you going to pursue that goal whilst still loving them unconditionally?