Wednesday, November 26, 2008

All You Need Is Love ... la la la la ...All You Need Is Love ...

This is another devotion I did with staff (with my elementary colleagues) this month. It had really cool active visuals, I have taken still shots so you can still follow them.

Recently I was doing some writing activities with my Grade 2 students. They were creating flyers about themselves. One of the sentence starters that I gave them was, "I am a great person to know because ..." Have a look at the following pictures to see some of their answers.

I was actually quite sad when i saw some of these responses. I had some very interesting discussions with my students, trying to get them to see WHO they are. My friend Kathy always says the following - and it is so true ...

Jesus gave us two great commandments. The first was to love the Lord God with all our hearts. The second?

Often this is problematic because we don’t always love ourselves. We aren’t comfortable with the way that we are wired.

Some of you don’t know that I am a musician – I was a music major at uni and I written songs for years. You might know some of my songs as many well known artists have recorded them. They changed them a little so recently, I released a new album – sort of a greatest hits one.

I referred to these songs a while back in a blog but perhaps you have forgotten them. Here are some of the more well known ones (along with artists who recorded them):-

Always on My Mind – Willie Nelson
"I am always on my mind … always on my mind"

You are So Beautiful – Lionel Ritchie
"I am so beautiful … to me … can’t you see?
I’m everything I hoped for … and everything I dreamed ..."

You’re Beautiful – James Blunt
"I’m beautiful … beautiful …"

Saving All my love – Whitney Houston
"Yes I'm saving all my love for me ..."

You are the sunshine of my life – Stevie Wonder

I got me Babe – Sonny and Cher

You’re the One That I want … Olivia Newton John and John Travolta

So all joking aside, this brings me to the other side of this coin - narcissism. Fancy word – what is it exactly? One dictionary I looked in, defined it as, “excessive self admiration and self centredness.” It can also be defined as an overestimation of one’s appearance and abilities and an excessive need for self admiration. Hmmm … is that the sound of clanging bells I hear in the distance … ding … ding … DING! It seems to me that this is the way that popular culture is moving. The cult of SELF. Hmmmm.

Let me illustrate this one for you. American Idol auditions are a primary example. How many people have you seen who in no way, shape or form can get near to singing in just one key … in fact, they can’t sing – PERIOD. When the judges tell them this, they are shocked, outraged and furious. Some of them even have their singing coach with them telling them that they are brilliant and the judges don’t know squat! They storm out with loud protests about how rude and incompetent the judges are … with their family, friends or vocal coaches trailing in their wake saying, “that’s right. Yeah. You’re brilliant. What do they know? …” A wee verse from Timothy (2 Tim 4:2) springs to mind … how people will gather around them those who will tickle their ears with the things they want to hear.

How do we find our balance in all of this? Jars of Clay have a fantastic song called Art In Me. There is a line that keeps repeating throughout the song, “see the art in me”. I love this. Ephesians 2:10 tells us that we are God’s workmanship. When I looked up the greek for the word workmanship, there is an implication that we are his art pieces. Don’t you love that? We are God’s art pieces. When I was in downtown Chicago this summer I saw this fabulous sculpture at Millenium Park. When the artist created this, they used normal, every day people like you and me.

People who know art can look at a Renoir or Picasso and identify it by style. Likewise, they could hear an unknown Beethoven symphony and say, “Oh yes. No doubt. That one is definitely a Beethoven.” How do they know this? It’s because the essence of the artist is impregnated in their art piece. People should be able to look at us as God’s art pieces and say, “oh yes. That one is definitely a God one. No doubt about it …”

Now I want you to imagine a priceless work of art. Imagine someone gazing upon one a Renoir and taking their pen out and deciding to make some corrections or write all over it. Unfortunately, this is what happens with the beautiful art pieces God has made. People get out their yellow stickies and they start to label … they use powerful words and they stick them all over. Words such as reject … ugly … etc

How dare we do this? How dare we muddy up and damage that which God says is good. We have the power of life and death in our tongues. What labels do you put on your children? Many of you might even be thinking, “oh no. I wouldn’t do that. I know the power of words in their lives. So, lets turn your gaze inwards. What words do you speak over your own lives? Working with computers, I get to work with many teachers and I hear comments like, “oh I’m so stupid” or “I am just a loser with technology …” Be careful of your confession.” Who does God say you are?

Often our greatest weaknesses, can also be our greatest strengths. It all depends how we are looking? The words you see above … are words spoken over my life. All labels I have been given at various times. But what does God say? Lets remember to keep his perspective and to try and help our children see that as well.

The way to keep a balance in how we see ourselves is to remember that we are created beings. In fact, we can stand in front of the mirror in the mornings, look at ourselves and praise god for his work. David says in Ps 139 that His work is wonderful. Do you hear that - you are wonderful? Why? Because you are God's craftmanship. You reflect him. Remember that today as you walk through life ... and live under His smile. Know you are loved.

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