Setting The Standard (CSFF Blog Tour)

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I have been intimately involved with what I will term “the arts” for the past 20 years of my life. Born and raised in a professional recording studio, part of one of the first charismatic churches in the 70’s, and son to highly talented and artistic parents, my life has been anything but dull. Up until I was 13 I thought all churches had dancers, flags, painters, photographers, and rock bands in each service. I was constantly around the preaching and teaching of God’s Word, and used to fall asleep under my dad’s giant mixing console in the studio during late-night sessions.

In my mind, my childhood was the apex, the very pinnacle of creativity and expression. My church set the standards for art, from theater to music, and my family was, and still is, magically gifted. Indeed it was a time in which the Lord taught me something beautiful: that He wanted to be the inspiration behind every work and The One to set precedent for the world to follow. And that He would use His Bride to show off His wonders.

Around the age of 16, I grew increasingly disturbed about “a trend” I noticed, first in myself, and then in the world around me. I remember that shortly after I recorded my first CD at age 18, I pitched it to Nashville. I sent it to a few family “connections” (something you must have), and felt confidant I would be the next Steven Curtis Chapman within the year.

Until I didn’t hear back from them.

Ever.

I was definitely crushed. It was my dream after all. But it was not God’s dream. And I don’t mean that in terms of His dream for me; while that’s true, it’s much bigger than that.

We’re talking about God’s dream for His Bride.

Before I go on, I rejoice that Christ is preached. Period. I don’t care who does it, how they do it, or what motives they are doing it with. There can be no true accounting for the lives that have been touched and changed through the music generated over the last 30 years from Nashville and beyond.

When no response came from Nashville, my father took me aside and said something that deeply impacted my life. “Son, you’ll never hear back from Nashville. You just don’t fit their mold. You’re not what they’re looking for.”

At first I was destroyed inside. But when the smoke cleared, I realized the jewel I had received: in order for me to “make it,” I’d have to play to the world’s standard.

God’s dream for His Bride is not that we’re always to be playing “catch up” with the world. We’re supposed to be the pace-setters, the policy makers, the precedent holders.

How many Christian albums have you heard that sounded like they were three years behind what some secular artist was doing? How many books have you read that felt as though you had read it before, minus the “God stuff”? Granted, my art must be included among it as I’ve been fighting for over a decade to be heavenly original.

But I finally feel like I’ve got a hold of something.

I believe their are secular artists who touch realms in the supernatural that they don’t even know they’re touching. I’ve heard pieces of music that have deeply moved me, even to heavenly places, yet I’m quite certain the artist is not a believer. But how can this be? Would I be a heretic if I dared even say their music was “anointed”?

As it always happens, I’ve had to return back to scripture for the answers. James 1:17 says that all (ALL) good and perfect gifts are given by the Father. Would anyone dare contest that the gift hidden within the heart of a guitar virtuoso like Joe Satriani is anything but good? Nay, even perfect? And if the giver of that gift is not Himself anointed, that gift is therefore anointed (meaning “to serve”), and accordingly brings great honor to the Gift Giver, whether the artist knows it or not.

It was for this reason that I began to feel ashamed. Not because I was comparing myself to a Joe Satriani, but I was comparing my level of stewardship with his. Having both been given good gifts from the Father of Lights, whether it be guitar playing or not, it was clear to me that one of us had been a better steward of the gift than the other. Granted, my gift may be in painting or accounting or acting or construction. The point is that we’re both receiving from the same Source, but one of us is setting a higher standard than the other, maybe not in an orthodox “ministry” sense, but certainly in skill, beauty, and overall accomplishment.

So is it merely in a dedicated and steadfast commitment to excellence that the world is setting the standard over the Church? Or is it in their creativity, too? Here is where I think the Christian has the obvious upper hand. But is it so obvious?

After a solid reading, and re-reading, of 1 Corinthians 2:1-16, we find some amazing facts about our current state in God’s eyes. How often have you heard someone quote, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him”? Probably a lot if you’ve been around Christendom for even a year. But the problem is we hardly ever take into account the next line (how often do we make that error?): “but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit.”

Wait a second…

The things that no one has yet seen or heard about, stuff that no one can imagine, God wants to give those to me?

No.

He already has given them to you. When our spirit was awakened to the person of Jesus, summoned by the Holy Spirit to the life which we now live, something marvelous happened: we were given the very mind of Christ (verse 16). And in doing that, our spirit was instantly seated in heavenly places with Christ (Eph. 1:17-20) so that we might have His Spirit of revelation and wisdom.

If we are three parts, body, soul, and spirit, mirroring the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, then practically that means one third of us, our spirit, is seeing above everything else (right now!) and can inform the other two thirds of us on earth the hidden and secret things of God!

Christian, this means you have access to things this world can’t even dream of! You can touch the hidden things of God which are yet to be revealed to the eyes and ear and minds of man! So why would you ever want to try and keep pace with what the world produces when you have been positioned to keep pace with what God Himself produces? If you have indeed been made a Son and Daughter of the Most High, the King of kings and the Lord of lords, why would you want anything other than this, your inheritance?

It is for this reason we press on, as Paul wrote, toward the mark of the high calling of Christ: that we would set an everlasting precedent for the world to follow, one that points to the greatness and majesty of the Heavenly Father. And it’s our birthright. You are the head and not the tail (Deut. 28:13), so don’t trade your inheritance for a bowl of soup. Don’t stoop down to follow when you should be leading. While the world’s dedication for excellence, no expense spared, should at least convict you, causing you to examine your own habits and attitudes, you need not flavor your art with the spice of lesser inspiration.

Touch the mind of Christ with your spirit. Ask Him. Wait on Him. He died for you to know, and He’s dying to show you.

As part of the Christian Science Fiction & Fantasy Blog Tour, we highlight a different author or blog each week. And it’s very encouraging to know, at least for me, that I’m not alone in my thinking. There are others out there that want the glorious Bride of Christ to stand up and take her place in the world, especially when it comes to creating art. The man I’m highlighting in this months post is Jeff Gerke and his web site WhereTheMapEnds.com

From his own world-view (which you’ll get in just the first three paragraphs), to his amazing resources (from writing tools to his massive booklist), there are many practical steps and encouraging words that can be gleaned from this brother in the faith.

Please check it out, and tell him I sent you.

For other great authors and sites to visit, please review the following. Thank you for reading and spending a few minutes with me today.

Yours until they have all heard,

CH
– – –

Suggested visiting:

Nissa Annakindt
Jim Black
Grace Bridges
Jackie Castle
Valerie Comer
Karri Compton
CSFF Blog Tour
Gene Curtis
Chris Deanne
Janey DeMeo
Tessa Edwards
April Erwin
Kameron M. Franklin
Linda Gilmore
Beth Goddard
Marcus Goodyear
Andrea Graham
Todd Michael Greene
Leathel Grody
Katie Hart
Sherrie Hibbs
Sharon Hinck
Christopher Hopper
Jason Joyner
Kait
Karen
K. D. Kragen
Tina Kulesa
Kevin Lucia and The Bookshelf Reviews 2.0 – The Compendium
Rachel Marks
Shannon McNear
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Eve Nielsen
John Ottinger
Robin Parrish
Cheryl Russel
Hanna Sandvig
Mirtika Schultz
James Somers
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Daniel I. Weaver
Timothy Wise
D. G. D. Davidson
John W. Otte
Nicole

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15 Responses to “Setting The Standard (CSFF Blog Tour)”

  1. Hey, Christopher. Thanks so much for your kind words today about http://www.WhereTheMapEnds.com.

    I hope your readers pay my site a visit. You can also find my author site at http://www.JeffersonScott.com.

    Now I’d like to invite you and your readers to WhereTheMapEnds on March 1 for the debut of our collaborative fiction project. SF aliens are invading a fantasy world! Come pick your side and help us write the story, beginning March 1.

    Thanks again!

    Jeff

  2. Amen, Christiopher. Good words about grasping the treasure that God has given us. Christian music is particularly mind-boggling. Everytime I go into the Christian Bookstore looking for some new ROCK, I spend hours listening to CDs, but EVERYTHING sounds like a ripoff of Switchfoot or Pillar. Just once I’d like to find a Christian Prog Metal band! LOL

    And Jeff’s site rocks! Lots of good stuff there.

  3. What a wonderful way to introduce this site. I certainly haven’t encountered anything else quite like this today. Thank you for sharing this.

    God Bless,
    Daniel I Weaver
    http://www.danieliweaver.com

  4. Jeff: the pleasure is all mine. I have been really touched by your perspective and I look forward to getting to know more about you and your work. It’s just such a blessing to touch other believers with the same heart. Thanks for posting your author site, too. I’m sure my readers will enjoy that.

    Wayne: Right there with you, buddy! Maybe that’s one reason you should pick your guitar back up! Eh? I know someone with a recording studio…

    Daniel: I was really excited to see your comment. Sometimes I wonder if people actually read what we post, you know? Thanks for your sincerity. I covet the genuine. Look forward to exploring your site.

    CH

  5. Sir Christopher, was that temptation I just read? Maybe I should pick up my guitar??? Just to hear the awesome, fat, crunchy sound of heavily distorted Seymor Duncan humbucking pick-ups?? {hand mysteriously drawn away from the keyboard}

    …Must resist. Edits due. Must…re-sist.

  6. I read it and posted a link about it on my blog for tomorrow.

    It was really good to read as I ponder my own abilities and talents or lack thereof.

  7. Love your post, Christopher.
    I’m with you…have spent my whole teen and adult life with a passion for arts of all kinds (theatre, dance, music, writing) as a way to communicate WITH God (in worship, etc.) and ABOUT God.

  8. […] to the tour, Christoper Hopper, waxes eloquently about how it’s time for Christ to take center stage in the […]

  9. What an amazingly thought provoking post Christopher. So many times we don’t think about the blessings given to all of God’s children – not just the ones actively serving the kingdom.

    Thanks for participating in the tour – you’re a fantastic asset.

  10. Thanks all. I’m finding this to be a lot of fun…and very encouraging! The beauty of this is one, being able to encourage another brother or sister in the faith, this month: Jeff. But two, to find such a willing and strong Christian community that supports one another. I love this! Praise God!

    CH

  11. Great post! I’ve always been annoyed by the CCM artists sounding very much like secular artists, especially when they are marketed that way…

    “If you like the Dave Matthews Band, then you’ll love…”

    This brings up my argument on whether or not there should be a “Christian” label for the arts… when there isn’t for anything else. You don’t see a “Christian plumber” or “Christian news anchor” unless you count the “W.W.J.D.” bumper sticker on the plumbers’ van, or the “Jesus-fish” pin on the news anchors coat. Dunno, I could be wrong.

    I guess I don’t see the lack of quality in “Christian” writing, but I also don’t read as much anymore as I should. I do see evidence of the quality issues in my field. The best way I can sum this up is with the mission statement from the gang at Godbit Project.

    The purpose of this site is to help the Church catch up with the rest of the world in adherance to standards given by the World Wide Web Consortium, the governing body of best-practices on the Internet. The majority of Christian web design agencies are using outmoded methods of coding to create websites that the rest of the world would scoff at. Basically, they are stuck in the 1990’s.

    This is so common in fact, that the term “Christian” when associated with the Internet has become synonymous with “sub-par.”

    The good news is that we are starting to make some progress. There are some church web sites starting to show up in design showcases and being recognized for their quality. I have to keep pushing myself to do my part… to press on… to set an everlasting precedent for the world to follow, one that points to the greatness and majesty of the Heavenly Father.

    Check out http://godlycreatives.com/ for some people using “God’s Gifts for His Glory”

  12. Thanks for this, Christopher. I read this one after I read the 2/20 post. I actually forgot one of the points I wanted to bring up about Jason’s comments, something I noticed first in Christian education. When private schools first emerged to teach from a Biblical base, the education was often considered second class. Still, people felt it was hitting at the core of what a child needed.

    Somewhere along the way, things shifted. Rightly (at least here in California) Christian school education is now considered some of the best. BUT … the focus seems to be shifting, too.

    Now Christian schools talk about doing the best and being the best because that would be a good testimony. Yet … was it aiming to do the best and be the best that caused the shift?

    I think not. I think it was aiming at glorifying God with the means available (often, in the case of Christian schools that meant with NOT MUCH).

    Long way around saying, I do think we ought to lead, but I’m not necessarily sure that means having the slickest this or that or the latest-and-greatest. Maybe web design needs to be affordable so churches can have a web presence, for instance. Maybe the movie needs to be made with volunteer actors (that In the Face of Giants, I think it was called). I don’t know.

    I DO think content needs to lead the way. Presentation? I’d like to hear more thoughts on that.

    Becky

  13. […] quote Fred Hammond, it’s not so much what we say, it’s mostly what we do. I love Rebecca Miller’s comment on my site yesterday, how Christians are “ghetto-izing” themselves. Granted, […]

  14. […] Clement Says: February 20th, 2007 at 3:27 pm eGreat post! I’ve always been annoyed by the CCM artists sounding very much like secular artists, […]

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