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IMG_1957-300x269One of the joys of my job as coordinator of the Atlanta Arts Network is meeting and partnering with other Creative Artists and in this case Worship Artists.

Jay and Abby Akins have just released a Album called Trust.

You might be saying, yeah another CD from a worship leader.  Isn’t that par for the course.  Everyone who leads worship these days pretty much has to record as well as lead worship.

This is where Jay and Abby are a bit different from the rest!  Jay and Abby see this Album as an extension of their ministry to worship leaders as well as a way to serve the church by providing great songs for worship.

From the first time I met Jay at a Chick-fil-a (the original one in Hapeville GA) I realized that Jay’s heart was for building disciples as well as making music.  Abby and Jay are part of our South Atlanta Worship Leaders Community.  Jay has been a big part of our getting that group going and he really loves investing his time in people.

Trust is a testimony of a Jay and Abby’s vibrant heart for God and a desire to cultivate worshippers of God.  While many people focus on styles of worship, Jay has been at the forefront of helping his congregation learn to focus on Christ and the message of the gospel.  In a culture that looks at the church and what it offers as products and services to be consumed, Jay is quick to point to the fact that their focus is engaging the worshippers in such a way as to point to Christ and to challenge them to vibrant walk with God, and be owners of the church rather than be a merely a member who comes to church!

Trust features songs that call the worshipper to consider Christ and what it means to follow Him in the midst of life!  “Hope is” is a praise anthem that sets Jesus before us as the eternal son who is Himself Hope.  We bring our “Golden Dreams Fragile Hopes and Simple Faith” and find that they are torn.  When we look at ourselves we hear the call of Jesus to “surrender.”

Hope is Rising from the Ashes
I’m delivered
I’m restored
Hope is Rising
Christ delivers Christ restores

I Stand in Awe of You“, communicates the commitment of a follower of Christ who sees the truth of the gospel and prayerfully calls on God to work and shows a overwhelming sense of wonder of His person and work.

Jesus my Savior
I bow low before You
Carried my sin
Healed my shame
I live for You
Forever I am changed
My heart will sing Your praise

I stand in awe
I stand in awe of You

Hope in You, considers the nature of God and how He is the place to find true hope.

Trust, the title track, beginning with a lyrical feel with some nice mandolin work that a made the song flow and yet didn’t take away from the melodies and sing-ability of this song.  The vocal counterpoint between Abby and Jay in chorus will translate well into congregation singing.

Invited features strong vocals from Jay and Abby’s harmonies blend well with the driving guitar which gives this song energy.

Returning is features a nice organs and guitar which complement the Abby’s vocals on this rock ballad that echoes the themes of a prodigal.

For too long now
I’ve turned my face from You
I have tasted
The bitter sinful fruit
I am longing
To feast upon Your love
I am turning
Please fix my eyes above

Ransom Song and Point of Surrender finish off this album pointing us first to the Cross of Christ where the debt was pain in full, where Jesus took our place.  Point of Surrender finishes by taking lyrics of traditional hymn and re-tuning it in such a way that provides a new melody that still ties to the original and then weaving the melody of “I surrender” as a close.

Take some time to listen to “Trust” and consider getting a copy and spreading the word.  This review is no where near unbiased as I think Jay and Abby are pretty awesome both as musicians and partners in ministry.  But listen for yourself and let us know what you think.

Get the Album on iTunes

http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/trust/id715743606

 

 

 

 

Get at CD at cdbaby
http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/jayabbyakins

Hear about the Stories for their Songs:

http://jayandabbymusic.com/song-stories/

Don’t Forget to Like their Facebook Page – http://www.facebook.com/JayAndAbbyAkins

 

Editors Note: Previously posted at Atlanta Arts Network

writing with guitar

writing with guitarWhen I woke this morning, I began to think about the things that have been weighing on my mind.  Slowly I walk to the kitchen to make coffee; the family has already gone to work and school and I am wondering what today has in store for me.

Do I have time to create today? I resist the desire, then… I ask.

What does taking time to create do in my life? 

The power of creative thinking is stirred but there is something more that happens.

As a Christian, when I create I usually try to make sense of my world, listen to God’s voice, meditate on his word, pray, ponder, consider….

This isn’t a bad thing to do.

So in some ways creativity for the Christian is a “spiritual discipline.”

Creativity a Spiritual Discipline?

Spiritual disciplines are those tasks and habits that help spur the follower of Jesus to a deeper relationship.  We pray.  We take time to read the bible and consider its application.  We spend time trying to memorize verses of scripture that would be helpful.

These spiritual disciplines are like the pencil with sheet music, the piano and the practice room, the point where I listen and put something down.

I remember my time at Furman where, in the midst of hours of study and practice, I would take an empty page and put melodies and words down.  No, these moments were not profound in the art that was created as much as profound in the heart work that was done.

Why bother creating today? Why bother slowing down and putting pen to paper? Why bother typing thoughts down in a blog post? Why pray and open the word? Because God is here!  Because He wants to communicate to me and I need to communicate to Him.

Experiencing God’s presence by doing the work.

The ability to experience His presence as I create flows directly from my prayer, my worship, my time meditating in His word.  There is a connection between writing a song and spiritual disciplines.  Both require the tools, habits, time, commitment and perseverance to see fruit.  Prayer that quickly passes without listening is like strumming a few chords only to put the guitar back down on the way out the door.

I don’t get as much out of time in God’s word by merely reading the daily passages in my YouVersion Bible app.  Getting satisfaction from not missing a day!  I want to be able to walk away from my creative disciplines with the sense that I have done good work with God.

A little taste makes me hunger.

When I am done with my creative time I want to have experienced a glimpse of my purpose.  I want to feel the hunger to continue, just as when I finish my “quiet time” with Jesus, and leave wishing I had time for more.

 

Creativity, just like spiritual disciplines, can be a place to see God at work.

 

Here are a few creative ideas that have helped stir both my desire for God and my creativity.

1. Consider opening your Bible and your creative instrument at the same time.

As a musician it is very easy for me to see how God’s words connect to music. However, I also benefit from playing music as I read, which creates mood and tone. Can this happen as you do your art? Draw, Paint, Sculpt, Dance, Write a story. How could God’s word impact you today?

2. Don’t force it.  Creativity for the Christian isn’t just making Christiany Art that merely parrots a Bible verse.  Don’t force it. It’s ok to “play the music” without any words!

3. Read stories, biographies about other followers of Christ, use a prayer book, or devotion type book to get ideas flowing.

4. Take a walk.

 

Why create a little each day? It might just spur on your spiritual life too!

 

Editors Note: This article originally posted at Atlanta Arts Network

http://www.atlantaartsnetwork.com/2013/05/20/why-bother-creating-today-even-just-a-little/

death to life tree

life from death tree image

What you do in the Lord is not in vain. You are not oiling the wheels of a machine that’s about to roll over a cliff. You are not restoring a great painting that’s shortly going to be thrown on the fire. You are not planting roses in a garden that’s about to be dug up for a building site. You are- strange though it may seem, almost as hard to believe as the resurrection itself- accomplishing something that will be come in due course part of God’s new world. Every act of love, gratitude, and kindness; every work of art of music inspired by the love of God and delight in the beauty of creation; every minute spent teaching a severely handicapped child to read of to walk; every act of care and nurture, of comfort and support, for one’s fellow human beings and for that matter one’s fellow nonhuman creatures; and of course every prayer, all Spirit-led teaching, every deed that spreads the gospel, builds up the church, embraces and embodies holiness rather than corruption, and makes the name of Jesus honored in the world – all of this will find its way, through the resurrecting power of God, into the new creation that God will one day make. That is the logic of the mission of God. God’s recreation of his wonderful world, which began with the resurrection of Jesus and continues mysteriously as God’s people live in the risen Christ and in the power of his Spirit, means that what we do in Christ and by the Spirit in the present is not wasted. It will last all the way into God’s new world. in face, it will be enhanced there. Surprised by Hope – N.T. Wright

Sometimes I wonder how we would live “in light of God’s restoration of all things” rather than with a view toward “all things burning up” viewpoint.

The Re-Creation of a new heavens and new earth has at it’s root the promise of a New Eden, a “New Heaven and New Earth.” Many Christians do not have a complete view of what God will Re-Create after Christ’s return. Many have have considered images of angels and harps and think we spend eternity in heavenly cloud like spaces! When scripture points to a Heavenly City (Revelation 21:1-14) that connects both the New Heaven and New Earth.

We will be part of a new creation that will reflect the glory of God. The very things in this life that we have pursued and created that reflect God’s glory will last! Wright says, “all of this will find its way, through the resurrecting power of God, into the new creation that God will one day make.”

As N.T. Wright points out in the quote what we do here does have eternal impact. This includes creating great artwork, writing great music, teaching children to read and grasp the wonder of this world, helping the needy, bringing hope to those who are hopeless, caring for others and a multitude of other things.

We just finished celebrating Easter. The Resurrection is about new birth. It is about the power of God over death and destruction. When I consider the impact of Jesus’ Resurrection, I must also consider that he finishes his time here on earth promising to give power for all believers to proclaim the Good News and continue the mission.

We live in light of the power of the risen Christ, in us by the ministry of the Holy Spirit that Jesus also promised.

So what does this mean for me today, this week, this month? I look at the moments ahead and seek to honor God by worshipping Him in my calling!

I do my work to the glory of God. I love my family to the Glory of God. I talk to my neighbor about the glory of God! I live with a different set of rules than the rest of society that they would see the glory of God!

Each moment here is not to be wasted! It has value! I don’t do lousy work thinking it will all burn up anyway! I don’t destroy the creation of God or mistreat its creatures because all that matters are the souls of those who truth in Jesus. Our calling in this life is to live by the power of God in light of the Resurrection.

“God’s recreation of his wonderful world, which began with the resurrection of Jesus and continues mysteriously as God’s people live in the risen Christ and in the power of his Spirit, means that what we do in Christ and by the Spirit in the present is not wasted.”

We can live with expectation of Jesus return but we also have to be faithful doing what our master has left us to do! So go out there and live in such a way that others see Jesus! They look at your work and go wow! They wonder why you live with such a humble and yet bold spirit. Sure, we look eagerly for the Lord’s return and live with urgency and prayer for Revival and for many to come to Christ. We cannot however let a view of end times lead us to a place of apathy about our lives and work here and now!

What if people who lived in the last few centuries had exclaimed, “Oh well, Jesus is going to return; all things are gonna burn up; there is no need for Colleges, Universities, Hospitals and other great institutions.” No they wanted to see a better world here! We need to live fully today with hope for our future! We don’t know when Jesus is returning! So build, play, write, sing, create, work, have families, build schools, and do many noble things! Create new ways to make the world a better place! Free the millions in slavery! Find a way to provide clean water! Discover a new way to provide clean energy! Find a way to communicate the gospel to places now closed to the gospel! We have great work to do!

Jesus Resurrection and Ascention hasn’t just left us here peering at the sky wondering what to do next. The call is pretty clear.

Your work and life are not in vain! You have purpose! That means following the mission of God into a life that leaves a lasting impact. Full of good things that will not burn up and be destroyed point to the glory of God!

Read more about God’s Calling in “The Call” by Os Guinness

Editors Note: This article was originally posted as Why Bother Creating? It’s all Gonna Burn! by Buddy Eades at www.atlantaartsnetwork.com For more information about Atlanta Arts Network check out our ministry page here at disciplebuilding.org or visit www.atlantaartsnetwork.com

I’ve been thinking about discipleship and creatives lately.  It may not be something you consider, but as a pastor to artists, I sometimes wonder how different people learn and grow in their Christian faith.  I have a family full of creative people who each have their own way of looking at the world. As a husband and father I desire to be able to be a good teacher.  Of course being the only male in a household of women creates its own communication challenges.  But laying that challenge aside for now, I wonder how creatives learn best.  My wife seems to learn by doing.  So sitting in a class, listening to a lecture or reading a book needs to flow out of situations that help her learn.  Even more, she seems to learn as a result of situations that she is currently involved in.  Hypothetical discipleship situations or theory may interest me from an academic point of view, but that doesn’t cause her to learn.

I am part of a discipleship ministry called WDA or Worldwide Discipleship Association. (www.disciplebuilding.org)  WDA has spent almost 40 years developing a method for discipleship.  What I have learned in working both on campus and in the church, is that one size doesn’t fit all.  Methods and structures are tools.

WDA uses something called an R-CAPS grid to help fit key discipleship principles to the place a person is at that moment.

By looking at each person starting with your Relationship (R. in RCAPS) you then teach Content and provide places for Accountability (C. & A. in RCAPS) which fits them.

When I approach discipleship with the relationship in mind I find that my teaching isn’t as formulaic or brittle.  It can be fluid and flexible.  I can think how I need to Pray and the Situations that may help the learning process. (PS. in RCAPS)

To teach biblical truth with my family, like with other creative people, requires that I think creatively using R-CAPS to find points of interest and places to have teaching moments.  I’m finding that discipleship can begin with any of the R-CAPS.  I can teach beginning with prayer, talking about an issue in the news which is a good application or example of  truth, and even beginning with a situation that then leads to a discussion about something I have been wanting them to learn.

I suggest that teaching creatives means you need to have a variety of starting points which, when connected to the other R-CAPS, help people learn.  Once I would have followed a method closer to the way I learn. I focused on a bible passage or truth and then moved to accountability, prayer and even a situation.  I next tried to begin with relationships moving logically along the RCAPS grid.  As I have been learning to teach my family, I am growing to see that I need to forget a sequence and focus on the person.

Take time to watch WDA’s intro video for RCAPS (below) and learn how this discipleship tool can give you direction in your discipleship process. WDA has seen this tool used in churches and ministries around the world to help those who disciple others have a balanced approach to teaching.  Remember that one method does not fit all, but content applied with prayer, used in creative situations based on your relationship with others can help your discipleship produce mature growing Christians.

 

Buddy Eades Serves as the Coordinator of Atlanta Arts Network.  You can read more about this ministry at  AtlantaArtsNetwork 

 

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This morning I was fixing my travel mug of coffee hoping to get on with my morning.  I poured the cup and then looked for the lid.  “It was right here…”  I look back in the cupboard, in the dishwasher, and the other drawer full of water bottles.  I wonder, did someone put the cup one place and the lid another?  Then I begin to get a bit frustrated.  “Where did it go? It was right here.”  It was a good thing I was in the house alone, for my tendency was to call out the name of whoever is around and ask, “Does anyone know where the lid to my mug is?” If it was my wife, I tend to immediately jump to the conclusion that she must have done something with it.

The human heart is corrupted and even a heart transformed by the grace of God still has the pollution of sin.  How quickly I blame-shift.  It certainly can’t be my fault there is no lid for my coffee?  I tend to do that with most things.  I get angry at a circumstance and focus on the problem without considering my response to the problem.  Lids go missing.  Stuff happens.  It is part of life.  People will sin against me.  My wife may one day choose to go around hiding all my stuff just to make me angry.  But the truth is, even as I looked for the lid, God began to reveal my need for the gospel.  Even more fully, God was trying to show me that He, like the lid, is right in front of me.  Yes, sitting there on the stovetop, not a foot away, was the lid, right where I had placed it.

In the middle of your day, the father is right in front of you.  I tend to think like an orphan and not an adopted son of father and son handsGod.  I forget that he loves me! He has always loved me and sent Jesus to die so I can know that love.  He wants me to know that He is not out to get me.  Not even as I face the small frustrations of the day.

Psalm 139:7-12

Where shall I go from your Spirit?

Or where shall I flee from your presence? 

If I ascend to heaven, you are there!

If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! 

If I take the wings of the morning

and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, 

even there your hand shall  lead me,

and your right hand shall hold me. 

If I say,  “Surely the darkness shall cover me,

and the light about me be night,” 

even the darkness is not dark to you;

the night is bright as the day,

for darkness is as light with you. 

 

Romans 8:15-17

For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 

The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 

and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.