Watch Out for the Creativity Trap

imagesI fell into a trap I’m all to familiar with last night: the creativity trap.

Creativity isn’t bad for people in some occupations, but it is often a trap for pastors.

It happens when a pastor sees a need or a problem in his church. “We need more volunteers.” “We need to help our youth get past a spiritual apathy they seem to have.” “We need to win more lost people.”

Not bad things to think about, and most definitely good things to move past. But the trap comes in how I usually respond to the problem. My usual response is generally, “What creative or ingenious thing can I think of to fix this problem?”

That’s the creativity trap right there.

The creativity trap convinces us that we can use non-spiritual means to fix spiritual problems.  

It’s good to be creative. But we fall when we think our creativity is the main way God builds His church.

Spiritual people need spiritual nourishment–God’s Word. The Word of God is the guaranteed method to build Jesus’ church. It cannot fail.

Isaiah 55:10-11:

For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven
and do not return there but water the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

There are people associated with your church who will leave saying, “You didn’t wow me.” Listen bro, you can spend all your energy trying to keep those people by making church cooler. More lights. Hipper graphics. Higher resolution videos. More current music. But cool does not build the people of God. God’s sheep long for the food of God’s Word.

Which would you rather have: a cool church full of people threatening to leave unless you entertain them again? Or a church with people content to be spiritually nourished no matter how uncool it is? One crowd comes for creativity, the other comes for God’s Word.

Do you really believe God’s Word will do what God claims it will do? Watch out for the creativity trap.


Why “How Far is Too Far” Is a Really Bad Question

You’ve heard it asked before. “OK, so sex before marriage is wrong, but how much can we do and still be good with God?”

I’m not sure if there’s a worse question a dating couple can ask.

There are two reasons this is a bad question:

1. It assumes God’s promises aren’t good for you.

That question has an underlying mindset that God is out to keep us from having fun. So yeah, we’ll give Him lip service because we don’t want to get struck with a lightning bolt or go to hell, but lets still have as much fun as He’ll let us before that happens. After all, God is out to get us, and everyone knows that it is satisfying to have as much fun with as many different partners as possible. Sex in a faithful, lifelong monogamous marriage between a man and a woman is no fun. (BTW, the numbers prove otherwise.)

2. It doesn’t come from a heart of love for God.

If I were to tell you that I love you as a friend, but right after that, ask what would be the minimum requirements to maintain our friendship, what would your response be?

What if I did the same thing to my wife? “Babe, I love you. Now, what is the absolute least I have to do in order for you to not divorce me?”

Rightfully, you would question whether or not I really loved you or loved my wife. A true heart of love seeks to do whatever it can to make the one he loves happy. And if someone seeks the minimum, it is likely a sign that his allegiance lies elsewhere.

When we ask the question, “How far is too far,” let’s be honest with ourselves. It does not reflect a heart that wants to love and serve God. It reflects a heart that wants the benefits that God gives without actually giving God anything of value. In the same way a guy wants to use his girl to satisfy his flesh (or vice versa!), it shows he wants to use God to do the same thing.

A Better Question

There isn’t one person in Scripture that was viewed as positive who wanted to do the minimum requirements to serve God. There is also not one command for Christians to go as close to sin as they can without “crossing the line.”

In fact, Scripture says Christians should “flee” unrighteousness.

But as for you, O man of God, flee these things (1 Tim 6:11).

Flee sexual immorality . . . (1 Cor 6:18).

Flee from idolatry . . . (1 Cor 10:14).

Flee youthful passions . . . (2 Tim 2:22).

When Joseph was drawn by Potiphar’s wife to sleep with her, he didn’t get as close to intercourse as he possibly could and still maintain he was free from guilt. No. He ran away as fast as he could. He fled.

The question men and women of God must ask ourselves when it comes to dating isn’t “How far is too far in being physical?” The question to ask is, “By God’s grace, how far will He empower me to pursue righteousness?”

Asking this question seeks God’s best and encourages a loving response to God instead of trying to manipulate Him. Let’s start with asking how we can please God, not how much we can get away with.

Like Arrows in Your Quiver

1771893902_2f6883341dImagine you’re a warrior about to go into battle. It’s time for the final inventory of gear before heading out. Traditional Native American war paint, check. Appropriate attire, check. Bow, check. Quiver (the thing that holds the arrows), check. When it comes time to add the arrows to your quiver, you pause and decide it would just be unnecessary added weight. “Nope, arrows are staying.”

Um, yeah, bad idea.

It doesn’t take a medicine man to figure out you’ll soon be receiving the scalping instead of giving it, my friend.

What Arrows Are Like

Why would we think it’s a dumb idea to go into physical war without arrows but a good idea to go into spiritual warfare without arming ourself with God’s Word?

When it comes to spiritual warfare, God’s Word is compared to a sword (Eph 6:17). It’s the only offensive piece of equipment a Christian has. Sure, we can hunker down and extinguish flaming darts with our shield of faith, but the only thing that causes Satan to leave us alone is, you guessed it, the sword–God’s Word.

I like to think of God’s Word as a similar offensive weapon–arrows. Each verse is an arrow, and the way you put the arrows into the quiver is by memorizing them–storing them for later. When temptation or trial comes, the Holy Spirit takes the arrow out of your quiver and into the bow. Now the only thing you’ve got to do is fire the arrow by meditating on the Scripture the Spirit just brought to mind.

Our Role

Yes, it’s the Spirit who helps you use the arrows, but if you and I aren’t disciplined enough to get God’s Word into our minds by memorizing it, the Spirit is left grasping for air in an empty quiver.

Do you want to run into battle with no ammo? Will the spiritual forces just not leave you alone? The way to fight back is with God’s Word. And the way God will help you fight is by reminding you of the Scripture you’ve already memorized.

Get ready. Put some arrows of His Word in your mind. Living a Christian life without doing so is like running to battle with an empty quiver. Satan might not be able to destroy you, but he won’t leave you alone either.