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Engaging with our Artist Community

posted Mar 7, 2012, 10:43 AM by Susannah Francis   [ updated Mar 7, 2012, 9:49 PM ]
It has been our prayer for some time now to get to know the artists out there among our community.  After all, the 1heart Arts mission statement/Scripture is about connecting with the Body of artists.  Was it any surprise that God started answering this prayer in a BIG way as only He can?  

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. ~ Eph. 3:20-21

So we laid it in His hands and let Him guide us to those people that He wanted us to meet and know.  And I have to tell was quite an interesting mix of people and organizations.  So? How do you do this very same thing?  Well, I believe the journey is different for everyone because we all have different purposes in the Kingdom. However, there is some wisdom that we can share with each of you that may help ignite this process and even moreso, give you hope for the adventure that God wants to lead you on!

Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. ~ Phil. 4:5-7

1.  Trust God

Let's be honest. When we in ourselves try to have peace and not worry about a situation, we fail miserably.  Instead, we think on all the "what if's" and "I wonder if I should.." statements that rattle around in our brain. We let logic  guide the way and keep measuring each and ever step upon our experiences and OWN understanding.  Well, God doesn't want us to do things that way. He wants us to lean upon HIS understanding (Proverbs 3:5)...and well, we don't understand it most of the time, so that leads us to leaning on HIM.

2. Pray for the next step

As I write this, I have to giggle because you may not like HOW God does this next step. I know I sure didn't! I am pretty impatient and I found in our journey, this is a really frustrating part of the process that continues to grow the fruit of patience in my life.  For example, I prayed for God to guide me into creating a CD. This is how he did it:
Year one - prayer
Year two and a half - led to voice teacher
Years three - creation of a cookbook to help fund it
Year four - started a praise band
Year six - songwriting started emerging from band
Year seven - now...and we are praying as a team on the CD
Frustrating can't begin to describe the journey through this process, but God has done so much more than just helped me create a CD...and that is the point.  He has something so awesome to do in the JOURNEY and that result will overflow the tree with fruit for the world to see of God's work in your life!

3. Do what He says 

So this may sound like a really obvious step, but it is sometimes the HARDEST one.  The reason being is that you will be shocked at what God will direct you to do.  He has directed us to really strange connections that appear to have nothing to do with the call of our hearts or the arts. However, EVERY SINGLE TIME these connections bore fruit into the ministry.  Sometimes these decisions He tells us to make are really small, like "read this book" or go to this event.  However, we are starting to graduate into much larger ones like "stop working on this ministry area" or "let this person go".  That is when step 4 comes in REALLY handy.  

Look in Scripture and you will be reminded that Jesus told the man that had never walked to "take up his mat & walk" BEFORE this man actually had the healing. I wonder what would have happened if that man had never stood.  One of the greatest examples of obedience to God is Abraham taking his son Isaac (who had waited almost an entire lifetime to get) to sacrifice him before the Lord.  We know that God never actually had Isaac die, but what would have happened if Abraham didn't walk up to that alter empty-handed?  

4. Stay in God's Word

Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. ~ Psalm 119:105

As people that never really grew up reading the Bible, it was really hard for my husband and I to do this part.  We had about every excuse you could imagine...I'm too tired, Morning isn't a good time for me, I read it in church today, God understands how hard this is for me.  And we were right, God did understand how hard it was for us, but He wanted something so much BETTER for us than what we had.  So, in the end, it came down to pure obedience and, at times, necessity.  I've found when you pray for God to help in you in drawing closer to Him and being obedient that He can do things that FORCE you into this place at times.  He will allow whirlwind situations around you and then in a still small voice remind you that His Word is sitting there to guide you.  I love how our Pastor reminds us that God's Word is the food for our soul.  Just like with food, we can go without a meal sometimes but we get hungry and very weak. So, what do we do when we miss a meal? We eat a little extra the next time to make up for what we missed that last time.  It's just like that with God's Word, it is the fuel that keeps us going AND provides the direction for where we are supposed to go. To go without it, we are a car running on empty in the middle of nowhere.

5. Stay Teachable

Yet you, LORD, are our Father.
We are the clay, you are the potter;
we are all the work of your hand. - Isaiah 64:8

It speaks of us as being clay in the Potter's hands, that we are supposed to be moldable to our Father, the Great Potter.  If you know about the process of making pottery, you know that it requires careful shaping and guiding from the potter's hands directly. At times, it requires the potter to remove parts of the clay because those parts aren't needed for the vessel that is being created. That means to be prepared for God to remove things from your life that aren't needed and plan on Him to guide you to grow in excellence in the areas that are key to your work in His Kingdom.  He will keep you on the wheel to keep shaping you until it is time to ready to be used for His glory.  

Here is a short film by our friend Karen DeLoach that beautifully illustrates this process:

Clay Breaths

If you want to explore this truth further, there is this excellent step-by-step guide that links the entire process with the Scripture -

6. Remember Step 1

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. ~ 1 Peter 5:6

As God starts to lead you, remember where all these blessings are coming from...they are coming from the Lord, who made Heaven and Earth.  Remember that it is trust in HIM that has given you this place of honor and it is for HIS glory that He brought you there.  It states that God has chosen the weak things of this world to shame the strong (1 Cor. 1:27-29), so don't go thinking you are something that you are not. If he chose you, then that means you were weak...and HE was the one that moved you to this position.  Humbleness is not being fake either. I've been there, done doesn't please God's heart to see His people dismissing the works of His hands in their lives.  He likes people to recognize what He has done, just remember HE did it and speak from the heart the gratefulness that you feel for it. That's acting in love afterall (1 Cor. 13:4). Zach led a great lesson through this very topic in our Artists Bible Study if you want to check it out by clicking here.

7. Give thanks

This is the EASIEST step at times because as God does amazing works in your life, the thankfulness will just overflow out of you naturally. However, there will be times that this will be the HARDEST step. Those are the times that you cannot see how God could possibly make something work out well.  However, in those moments, just remember Romans 8:28:

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Stand on this promise that God makes that ALL things will be made good...not just some, not just the ones that He can figure out, not just the times you obeyed Him...ALL.  That means if we messed in one of those other steps, He will straighten our path and  make those missteps into good because we are called according to His purpose...and He loves us. If you ever are struggling to give God thanks in the midst of a storm, remember these things and count your blessings.  I am SO thankful that the Lord guided us to start logging all the praises of the ministry through these letters because in those moments where things get really hard, I can go back and read through the AMAZING things He has brought us through and KNOW that He is God and His promises are true. These things give me hope for tomorrow and keep me trusting that He is the only way. 

I dearly love this song that God gave Laura Story entitled "Blessings".  God has been telling me during this past week that I am to sing this at our church and then the other day our Associate Pastor asked if I could sing for this Sunday. So, I will leave you with the song I am preparing to minister with this weekend.

Laura Story - Blessings