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Dream Big... For years I heard people tell me my songs were too difficult for people to sing. My view was that people were more capable than we give them credit for. Many told me I could not succeed in the music business unless I was in Nashville. My view was that I wanted my family to not need a ministry like mine someday - so I would focus on them and Jesus and not worry about my ministry. Did this lessen my dreams? No way. I continued to dream big even though I chose to teach songs that were more complex than the popular worship choruses. What I found was that people were after deep, meaty music and lyrics which spoke to their deep needs. I continued to dream of making recordings that would reach places around the world. I continued to write music and write books even without a publisher because my dream said that others would need what I had to share. My dreams were often loftier than my human eyes could see a way to! DJ singing at the National Day of Prayer or ministering at the NCAA Final Four? Why not?!... I have learned that the Lord is the Dream Giver. If I can dream it, He can give the means to getting there! I write as if millions are going to sing my music. I write as if millions are going to be encouraged by the stories of God’s grace and redemption in my life. I not only set goals toward those dreams. I actually begin to walk toward my dreams! I act as if they are really going to happen - even if people think I am crazy! I dream outside the lines. One of my favorite motivators is for people to tell me something can not be done! Them’s fightin’ words to me! Dream big, then walk towards those dreams. God will begin to pour out creativity on your heart and life. As you come face to face with an obstacle to your dreams, God has a way of showing you a new perspective that takes you around, under, over, or right through those very obstacles!... ‘For I know the plans that I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.’ Jeremiah 29:11 NASB

The Table of the King

Be a Risk-Taker… For some people, taking risks is the essence of life. I have climbed mountains and have walked on ledges with 5,000 drops on either side. I have explored caves where I followed a string to find my way back out. I have jumped out of an airplane at 5,000 feet. I have gone scuba diving and swam with 12 reef sharks swimming around me for 45 minutes. I have skied the north face at Crested Butte and the double diamonds at Breckenridge. I have sung in front of 60,000 people. I have shared my story of redemption in honesty and battled the thoughts that are often the consequences of honesty. To take no risks is to close one’s self off from life. If you risk nothing, you gain nothing. If you are afraid to risk loving someone else because you have been hurt in the past, you will not know love...because love requires relationship. Taking risks brings out the creativity God has placed in every living person. Jesus went to the cross knowing many would not see the purpose of His sacrifice or place their faith in Him. That must have hurt. That was the risk He was willing to take because He knew He needed to provide a way to relationship with God. His risk was life to me. God’s Word is clear concerning the need to be risk takers. Just read the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30. God is seeking visionary men and women who are willing to take the risks required to see the Kingdom of God advanced. How do we overcome the fear of failure that often confronts us when risk is involved? We put on the truth. Truth leads to freedom. The first step toward truth always involves our honesty. The truth is, taking risks for the Kingdom of God will bless God and it will bless others. Failing to reach a goal or failing at a task does not equal failure. Just ask Thomas Edison if the 10,000 failed attempts at inventing the light bulb was worth the one success? Just ask Michael Jordan if all the missed baskets were worth the skill they helped build which exalted him to the highest ranks in NBA history. In each case, both would say they had not failed at those missed attempts. Edison would contend he hadn’t failed. He had simply found 10,000 ways to not make a light bulb! Get God’s perspective and be a risk taker - like Him. Use it to fuel your creative fires!... Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2 NASB

Give Yourself Deadlines… Procrastination is an enemy that debilitates our creative gifting. I find that I am more apt to carry out my plans if I give myself deadlines. I look ahead toward the goal I wish to reach and then begin to work out a plan backwards toward the start. I give myself small, achievable goals and set those goals on a timetable. I make realistic goals and tell others about them. This helps hold me accountable to keep working towards the goal. Having these parameters or boundaries gives me so much peace of mind that creativity generally begins to flow as soon as I can see the dates placed on the calendar pages. It’s as if I can already see the accomplished goal. This gives me much hope. Proverbs 13:12 (NIV) says, ‘Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.’ Why put off hope? I always thrive when I have something to look forward to. Give yourself something to look forward to this week!

Explore Your Past… God’s Word says in Isaiah 4:18-19, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.” (NIV) We must learn to live our lives in such a way as to not allow our past failures to dictate future success, or in this case, future creativity. At the same time, one of my favorite passages of Scripture says, ‘I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.’ (Lamentations3:19-23 NIV). We focus on our past as a means of remembering all God has done. This produces a grateful heart. Gratitude is a springboard into the deeper places of God’s heart. In the deep places of God’s heart there is a wealth of creative power. Remember the past. Don’t live there. Allow God’s hand in your life to produce gratitude. Be grateful for what you have, not what you don’t have. Be grateful for what lies ahead. Don’t fret over what you didn’t accomplish in the past. Creativity waits for you in the place of gratitude.

Create With Others in Mind… I find that focusing on the needs of others - focusing on meeting the needs of others - inspires great and profound moments of creativity in my heart. Focusing on the needs of others always gives us clearer vision because it takes the focus off of our own needs and helps us focus on the Meeter of Needs – the Lord! Ask the Holy Spirit to increase your sensitivity to the needs of others and to inspire your creativity in ministering to those needs… And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19 NASB

Go With What Moves You... When I think about the things that inspire me to be creative in my gifting, I am always drawn toward inspiring stories. When I get down or distracted by the cares of my own life, I find it so useful to get my eyes directed somewhere else. My best creative times are when I focus on the Lord and His perspective...when I focus on meeting the needs of those around me...and when I focus on others who have overcome in some area of life. Reading about how Corrie Ten Boom survived and thrived through life in a Nazi prison camp birthed much power in my life to overcome and to be creative. The song There is No Chain was inspired by Corrie’s story. When faced with the cost of leading others to freedom from homosexuality, I was greatly inspired by the life of William Wallace and the movie Braveheart. The song Love is Worth Living For came from this story. I enjoy talking with other overcomers. Whatever moves your heart, focus there for creative inspiration. Ask your friends to share their stories with you. You might find unexpected inspiration and creativity in the process!... …but just as it is written, "THINGS WHICH EYE HAS NOT SEEN AND EAR HAS NOT HEARD, AND which HAVE NOT ENTERED THE HEART OF MAN, ALL THAT GOD HAS PREPARED FOR THOSE WHO LOVE HIM." 1 Corinthians 2:9 NASB

Laugh at Yourself - I am convinced this is why I have children! Having open and honest relationship with my children guarantees I will hear whenever I act in a hypocritical way. The older I get, the more joy I find in learning to laugh at myself...especially when I think I have it all together. The Lord has amazing ways of reminding me that I’m the clay and He is the Potter! While driving down our country road with my children one day, one of my boys was talking with me about basketball. I was enthralled with the countryside around me. Just as Judah was commenting about a certain player in the NBA, I was making a comment about the mockingbird that flew across the road in front of me. I was in Steve Irwin (The Crocodile Hunter) mode, being the smart outdoorsman-expert-dad. Judah saw someone else in his mind involving the conversation he was having with me. His take on the moment? “Dad, you’re scaring me.” Rather than become upset at how my children did not see the importance of my ‘teaching moment,’ I saw the utter hilarity from my son’s perspective and began to laugh. I am too old to not enjoy my life. This joy can only serve to enhance my creative abilities and insights. Humility really is key in learning to laugh at one's self. Laugh and gain a new perspective today. - A joyful heart is good medicine, But a broken spirit dries up the bones. Proverbs 17:22 NASB

Color Outside the Lines - This is one of my favorite creativity boosters. I love it when people tell me things like ‘you can’t write a song that way. No one will ever sing it.’ Telling me I can’t do something is like pushing me off a cliff. What may look like a fall for someone else looks like an opportunity for adventure and creativity to me. I should walk around with a placard that says ‘I’ll show you!’ Just because everyone does something one way doesn’t mean it’s the ONLY way. Maybe God has something else for you. Not only should we take God out of any boxes we have placed Him in, we should take OURSELVES out of the box as well. - "THINGS WHICH EYE HAS NOT SEEN AND EAR HAS NOT HEARD, AND which HAVE NOT ENTERED THE HEART OF MAN, ALL THAT GOD HAS PREPARED FOR THOSE WHO LOVE HIM." For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. 1 Corinthians 2:9-10 NASB

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