How do you become creative?

Creativity is an essential ability to succeed in life. Many people take training programs,read books, or travel to new places to gain creative ideas. People like Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, or Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, and Jawed Karim-the founders of Youtube-  are the icons of inspiration because their outside-the-box ideas have literally changed and shaped the world. And there are yet so many people whose innovative thinking are effecting and leading today’s society.

So how can we as Christians, who are created after the image of God, become creative? If we are made in the likeness of the Creator who had planned out and constructed the whole universe, then aren’t we to be creative after His creativeness? Where do we turn to find the creative ideas?

TAC defines creativity as “discovery of the creation of God”. In Genesis chapters 1-3, we find that Man is created in the likeness of God, and God is the Creator of all things. This means that every single invention ever made in the past, being made in the present time, or to be made in the future, are all in fact the works of God’s creation and we are just discovering what has already been created by Him in the beginning of time. And TAC tells us to turn to the Bible, the Word of God, to seek creativity.

Jesus and many other biblical figures were always creative and did things that were extraordinary and different. Jesus performed so many miracles and did things that no one else would ever do, such as submitting to crucifixion without a sin. And every person of faith in the Bible did something extraordinary and new, while following God’s commands; Moses, David, Joseph, Jacob, Peter, to name a few.

Through the Bible, God gives us innumerable role models and examples to follow. And when we follow them, we gain pieces of wisdom that God has in store for us, including His creativity.

When we read the Bible, we can actually see the sources of inspiration and ideas for some of the inventions that people have made. Take technology for an instance. Who says computers are wholly new inventions of the twenty century? Computers, tablets, and smartphones are all constructed in the likeness of the Book of Life which visualizes each person’s life on earth. Or the parable of the talents shows the fundamental principle of how talents (abilities, wealth, etc) are multiplied or destructed.

The Bible is the word of God who has created the universe and the book indeed contains all things. I am in no way encouraging anyone to use the Bible as a means to merely gain ideas for personal and secular success. Bible is the book of Truth and it contains all wisdom. It tells us the right way to do in everything.

God tells us to cherish and read the Bible all the time in Deuteronomy 11. When we live by His words and keep studying the Words, we will learn of God’s wisdom and creativity.

God has created us after His image and has granted us His blessings to multiply, prosper, and dominate the world. Read the Bible to gain knowledge and wisdom about the world. When we keep His Words and live by them, then God will open our eyes and allow us to see the ways of His work.

 “But your eyes have seen all the great acts of the Lord which he did.” -Deuteronomy 11:7

K.P.

I Put my Life Your Hands because I Trust You

In my younger years of youthful ambition or rather, greed, I looked upon the Bible character of Isaac and felt only questions and frustration. I’ve always only made a personal liking to the characters who at the end of their journey made an evident victory over their evildoers or at least were pronounced and expressive intellectuals who in various periods of their lives were able to battle and win in the name of Jesus Christ. Someone like Paul the Apostle.

But Isaac? Who was he but a son who willingly and quietly laid on an altar of firewood so that he may be made a sacrifice to the Lord? Besides the story of complete obedience shown so clearly on that altar, what else do people remember him for?

Perhaps some of you will remember the story of Isaac successfully digging wells everywhere he went, only for those wells to be stolen by nomads or villagers in that area.

Some of you may also remember that Isaac too, like his father Abraham, told Pharaoh that his wife was his sister so that he may be saved. Ah, and perhaps also the story of how Isaac married the woman chosen by his father’s servant!

But besides these few, his story, though unquestionably a major part, never quite seemed anything like the elaborate and intense narrative of the other more “vivid” characters in the Bible.

It was only until my arms were completely chained and my feet shackled that I remembered the story of Isaac. My chains were already choking my neck, and the pain was unbearable. Life or death, it was. Nothing in between. All doors in my life seemed closed shut. Darkness enveloped my life and a form like death seeped into my bones.

Yet, like a sudden gust of wind, the story of Isaac knocked a door in my tight-closed chest. It was as if a dust-covered book suddenly came to life and before me was a wisdom I was not, until now, ready to learn.

Was I kneeling before the Lord, praying like Jesus did before the Cross, that God’s will be done? If I truly say I believe in the Lord, in Jesus Christ, have I submitted completely and have retained not even a little, not even an ounce of myself? Or have I conceitedly applied the Almighty God to the schemes of my desires instead of submitting to His great and Good will?

And therefore, what was repentance all along if I had only asked God for grace for the chance to sin again? Have I  asked for heaven when within me I retained that little bit of hell?

Then, I remembered the story of Isaac, that righteous humility to leave everything up to God. Like a lamb, he quietly followed the path to his cross, without once putting forth his greed for life on earth. To every land he invested his work and discovered prosperity (the wells), it was stolen by thieves who steal the work of others and make it their own. And like a mute, he did not fight back. He was able to let go of “possession”, made his by his work and sweat. He did not question God and ask, “God, why give me the opportunity to find, to dig, to build, to invest my work only to take it away from me?” Tell me, what brave and faithful person can let go of something they treasure so much? A well, water, signifies a source of life. If I were to be cut off from my source of life today, the source that feeds me day to day and what I believe I need in my life, could I faithfully let go of it when God takes it away and believe that God has prepared a new way for me?

I stopped and looked at my hands, holding on to the chains and shackles of my greed. My desires. My wants. My belief that I knew what was best for me. I repented for the obvious sins I sinned, not knowing the underlying sin of trying to play God in my own life.

I ask you today, do you really trust In God that He has truly prepared a better way for you? Even if that path is not necessarily the path of your dreams and desires? Can you let go of things you think you need in life when God says to, believing that He has prepared a better way? Or will you be like the rich man that asks Jesus, “what can I do to receive salvation” and walks away from the truth when Jesus says:

“go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven:and come, take up the cross, and follow me.” (Mark 10:21)

To give up the self and to follow Jesus… this was what Isaac had done. C.S. Lewis says:

“The more we get what we now call ‘ourselves’ out of the way and let Him take us over, the more truly ourselves we become.” Mere Christianity

Now, I ask myself, who was the wiser man? The one who constantly battled with the Lord to finally submit to His will? The man who began as a persecutor of believers and than was struck blind so that he may learn of the true God?

They are all wiser than anyone can judge, but it is now I understand Isaac a little bit more and why God was pleased in him.

The story of Isaac does not show much drama, and in his complete submissiveness to the Lord, his life seemed to me all too boring to make any human connection to. Of course I understood the teachings and the theological importance his story had to my faith. But in developing any further reason to declare I wanted to be more like Isaac, it was not so.

But how blind I was! In my struggles I have come to face again a fraction of the whole Truth that even in its small comparison to the Whole, is ever so monumental. And how blind I was because all along, the Truth was right there. Never moved. Never changed.

Let me leave this post with a quote by C.S. Lewis about what it means to truly trust God:

“…handing everything over to Christ does not, of course, mean that you stop trying. To trust Him means, of course, trying to do all that He says. There would be no sense in saying you trusted a person if you would not take his advice. Thus if you have really handed yourself over to Him, it must follow that you are trying to obey Him. But trying in a new way, a less worried way. Not doing these things in order to be saved, but because He has begun to save you already.” – Mere Christianity

May we all trust in God.

Beat the January Blues.

2013 is here. To fancy wrap the past year, I opted to rely on Yahoo’s wonderful briefing of what was buzzing around the world in 2012.

This year has seen social media become a vital part of  world events. Facebook went public, but expectations did not meet reality and share prices fell. The Middle East erupted into wave of revolution fuelled by social media activists. Tunisia’s dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was ousted after a protest organised via Facebook, leading the way to the Arab Spring uprising.

Despite this, the London Olympics went on to put up the most spectacular show and where Michael Phelps ended his Olympic career. The Queen had some fun parachuting her way into the Olympics way before Felix Baumgartner set a world record with his free fall jump from the edge of space.

In the U.S., president Barack Obama was re-elected in the country’s most expensive presidential campaign. Hurricane Sandy left a trail of devastation and over USD$20 billion of damages.

In Asia, South Korea’s PSY produced the “Gangnam Style” while North Korea produced Kim Jung Un.

So with all the downs and ups of 2012, we are here in a new year. Even if you aren’t one to write up new year’s resolutions, we all hope somewhere deep inside us that the new year will bring great opportunities, unexpected but pleasant surprises, and something that will make us want to say: Yes, this was MY year.

All too many times though to all too many people, instead of a great hopefulness and expectation for the new year they are met with the “January Blues”.

You see a bunch of blog posts teaching people how to beat the January blues and to just look at the positive side of things. Some advise eating healthy mood foods (Vitamin B everyone!), to exercise and keep health, plan a vacation, and to plain think positively! They all sound like great ideas, but in this post, maybe we could consider how we all can beat the January blues in God.

ImageHere are just 5 ways to beat those nasty January blues:

  1. Pray. This is what Christians always say! Sometimes, it’s like a default answer when you just don’t know what other answer could suffice. But we all know, it is the best answer. There is nothing more therapeutic and complete than asking almighty God for help. When the Almighty God is on your side, there is nothing to fear. In our most difficult times, to constantly hear that praying is the answer can be frustrating. Praying takes patience and most importantly, it takes faith.
  2. Faith. Have you ever realized how difficult it is to really truly believe that everything will be okay? We know it because we hear it, and many times in our lives, we’ve experienced horrible things that we were able to surpass. But no doubt, there are or will be times when to truly believe that God is watching over you is hard to believe. We might question God’s will: God, why would You let me go through something like this? Well, to have faith is not to just have a flighting hope but a deep belief of who God is. And God is a good. He is good, and all that He wills is good. As children of God, we must believe that through and through, there is God’s good will and purpose in everything.
  3. Learn. Never lose the opportunity to learn more about yourself. Socrates once said, “Know thyself”. It is a paramount lesson we need to learn in life. Discovering who we are is crucial in understanding our past and moving on to our future. Though we cannot possibly know the answer to all the mysteries of life, whether they are the events of the past or the uncertainty of the future, always find a chance to discover yourself. What for, you ask? To become a better person. Never stop being the best you can be.
  4. Goals. Being lost is a fearful thing. There are people who can’t see their future. Other people cannot even see the next day. Questioning your life and not knowing what to do with it is a great suffering. But even if the day is dark, tomorrow even bleaker, and the future something that seems to have no solution, never cease the opportunity to set goals. They can be grand and extravagant or, they can be small and frivolous. Regardless, look for the “next step”. Better yet, try to set a goal for your life not in terms of a certain “path” or “job”. Maybe it can be vague as “what kind of person do I really want to be in life?” The answer to that can be as vague as “a kind person”. But once you’ve set that kind of goal to be a “kind person”, you’ll find that you’ll want to direct your life towards being a kinder person. That is one step closer to your goal.
  5. Seek wisdom. There are no words as wise as the Word of God. Seek His wisdom in your prayers, in the Bible, and during sermons. Listen intently and carefully, with an open heart. Let His words come and heal you. Let His words come and raise you. Let His words teach you and open your eyes. And also, seek wisdom through your parents and trustworthy friends. Be humble. We can never be too great, too old, or too wise to have learned enough. Wisdom becomes our tool to live life well.

So there, these are just five ways we can think more positively about the new year. Of course there are more than five ways to beat bad moods and grow a fuller faith in Christ. If you’ve got any specialty of your own, share them with us won’t you?

We hope you embrace this new beginning with God. Let His words be an armor to shield you. When you charge forward in the name of the Lord, remember, Jesus is there beside you.

So have hope, faith, and love.