Ep 21 – Pressing into the Tipping Point

Welcome to The Kingdom Art Life, episode 21
One of the most frustrating things about being an artist in Christ is the journey of attaining this visceral, tangible vision He’s given you of your career life. Inside of you, it is so vivid that you feel like you can reach out and touch it.

Then there are thoughts that come to your mind, things that God leads you to do, instructions that come with such a sense of immediacy, and such urgency that you believe the floodgates are going to burst open as soon as you do it.

So you do it … and crickets.

Then the next instruction comes, and it comes with that same immediacy and urgency. So you think maybe I was wrong on the last one but this one is going to be it.

So you do it … and crickets.

And you do this again and again until you get to the place where you start to doubt the next instruction. You start to doubt very seriously whether you’re actually hearing God talk to you.  And in this doubt, you start to get confused about what to do next, and agitated because that fricking visceral vision won’t go away.

So you feel stuck. I know this place. I know this place very well. I have been on this journey for 20 years and am only now beginning to see notable momentum. I remember the times when God would tell me to host a workshop and no one would show up. Then the very next weekend He would tell me to do it again and no one would show up. He would tell me to write this book and I did it, thinking my obedience was going to change the situations in my life. And I had several copies sold. I’m grateful for those but it was nothing like what I sensed was going to happen. Then He led me to write the next book and I thought that was going to be the one to shift everything. So I wrote it and it did even worse than the first one. I remember all of the videos that He told me to record and post that it seemed like no one cared about. I thought once people saw what I had to offer that they would invite me to their workshop and they would invite me to teach. None of that happened.

But then a funny thing started happening. It was me following instructions to record a dance to an excerpt of one of the books that I wrote (one of the ones that didn’t really sell) and email it to someone that brought me into the season that I’m in now and introduced me to the people that I know now. That one act of obedience ended me up in Spain and connected to whole new world of people. It was my diligence to continue making those videos that it seemed like nobody cared to watch that got me noticed by a young lady from the Salvation Army.

I work with her now and that relationship has opened a tremendous door and allowed me to connect what God has given me to so many artists. It was my diligence to sit down and keep writing the next book that gave me this KAI curriculum which I am receiving more and more opportunity to now take to more and more artists.

It was my persistence to keep doing the next thing God told me to do. And this wasn’t on account of any virtue of mine. A lot of times I just felt like I had invested too much time to turn around and I just I had no choice now but to see it through. Some of it was because I just didn’t know what else to do. If this didn’t pan out, I was screwed. So, it wasn’t that I was always virtuous and trusting of God.

I was talking to a young man last night about this very same issue. He was at the point of giving up because everything that he did to attain this vision he carried was not working, and he didn’t know what else to do. He began to doubt if he was even on the right track, if he was even hearing God at all. The Lord brought this verse to me for him and I want to share it with you.

Ecclesiastes 11:4-6 Amplified version:

He who observes the wind [and waits for all conditions to be favorable] will not sow, and he who regards the clouds will not reap. As you know not what is the way of the wind, or how the spirit comes to the bones in the womb of a pregnant woman, even so you know not the work of God, Who does all. In the morning sow your seed, and in the evening withhold not your hands, for you know not which shall prosper, whether this or that, or whether both alike will be good.

One of the conversations we are having in our KAI workshops is how do we pursue a career in a way that honors faith? To say it another way, how do we pursue a career in a way that honors the process and working of faith? Here in Ecclesiastes, we get a key to what the process and the working of Faith looks like. And here’s what it looks like: there are times when God will lead you to do something and it will not produce the results you think it will produce. And it will not produce in the timing you expect it to produce, yet He expects you to continue doing the next instruction and not be impacted by your disappointment in the lack of results. This is because the bottom line is that there will be results but the way those results are attained are different than what you expect. They are different in timing, they are different in method, and they are different in form.

As we are pursuing our career, we have to accept that, as a person of faith, as a person cooperating with faith, this is a part of what comes with faith. We have to accept that there are times where God will lead us to do something where it doesn’t produce an immediate result.

I want to encourage you today to keep sowing your seed. Keep taking the next step. Keep sending that next email. Keep writing that next book, that next song. Keep making that next dance because you do not know which one will be the one to break it all open.

Years ago, I got a chance to speak to a woman named Dr. Ann Stevenson, who wrote a book called Restoring the Dance. She encouraged me so much when she told me that her book was published for 10 years before it ever gained any notice or momentum. I was speaking to a man who told me about Tommy Tenney and his story. He told me that Tommy Tenney’s book, God Chasers, which is so ubiquitous to us now, was printed for 5 years before anybody ever cared about anybody named Tommy Tenney. He had written the book and it wasn’t really selling when a friend, who was supposed to speak at this large convention, got sick and asked Tommy to take his place. Tommy took his place and guess what he taught at that large convention: God Chasers. And he sold 20000 copies of his book in one day.

Malcolm Gladwell calls it the tipping point. And the key is you have to stay in it until you get to your tipping point, because you do have a tipping point. Viola Davis was an established actress for 30 years before she ever got an Oscar. And despite all that she accomplished, she attributes her role in one movie, The Help, that shifted the trajectory of her career. Tyler Perry wrote 18 plays, many of them were nobody showed up, before his work ever took flight. And there is story after story after story of people with the same experience.

I know you’ve been doing it for a long time. I know that you’ve done things and it hasn’t worked. But I need you to get out of the conversation of whether your career is going to become what you see in your spirit. That needs to be a done deal. The whole reason you see it is because it already exists. You are just doing the work of bringing it from where it is to where you are. So I hope this encourages you today. I need you to keep sowing the seed because you don’t know which seed is going to be your tipping point. You don’t know which instruction, which act of obedience is going to blow the whole thing open for you. And I would be devastated for you to be one instruction shy of your tipping point, to have put so much work into this and never reach where you’re trying to reach — because you just stopped.

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Ep 20 – A Process for every Promise

Welcome to The Kingdom Art Life, episode 20.
This past Saturday morning, I was taking a break from writing to cook myself some soup; and the Lord said to me, Every promise has a process.

Then yesterday, I went to church with a dear sister and her pastor was talking about a vision the Lord gave him. Part of the vision was two images of buildings. The first image was of 3 and 4-story buildings. When he saw that image, he said the Lord told him This is not what I intended. Then the Lord told him, This is what I actually intended, and showed him a second image of buildings; but these buildings were skyscrapers.

This led me to research how foundations are laid for skyscrapers and I came across the story about the Wilshire Grand Hotel here in Los Angeles, which is slated to be the tallest building west of Chicago. I learned about all of the massive work that has to be done in the foundation before the part that we see from the street can ever be built.

The construction of the Wilshire Grand Hotel has been a massive feat, having broken several records throughout the construction process. After demolishing the original structure, they had to dig a foundation site that was five stories deep and the size of a city block. Then they had to create an infrastructure within the foundation with various systems to facilitate the pouring of 84 million pounds of concrete that had to be brought in by 2,120 trucks. Even before they were able to do that, they had to spend 6 months removing almost 250 truckloads of dirt every day.

And before that could happen, there was massive research done to test the fitness of the soil on the site to handle such a structure. There was massive research in engineering and architectural planning to make sure that the design of the skyscraper could support its own weight and the weight of all the people and furniture that would go into it. They also had to make sure it would be able to deal with regional weather issues, which in Los Angeles are strong Santa Ana winds and earthquakes.

It is interesting that Mr. Cho, the owner of the Wilshire Grand, had the desire to demolish and rebuild this site back in 1990. In reading about its process, it was a huge feat just to get to the point of laying the foundation.

The pastor yesterday talked about the discouragement some of us encounter when foundation laying is happening in our promise. During this part of our process, it feels like things are going the opposite way; and they are. Here’s why: because, to lay a foundation for a skyscraper you have to start the project by going down. When you look at a skyscraper from street level, there is no indication of anything existing below what you see. At street level, we see the building going from the street up. And if we don’t know anything about construction, we could miss why there is any necessity for any movement down, when the building goes up.

The Lord said every promise has a process. I once heard someone say that it takes a minimum of 10 years to create an overnight success. I think about my own journey and the amount of time it has taken for my foundation to be laid, which has been about 20 years. The reason I am able to talk so fluidly now about creating a harmonious relationship between faith, art, and career is because I this is what I’ve lived and this is how I live. I stayed in it, allowing time for the foundation to be laid so that I could walk in what God has given me to do. I am only now realizing that is what was happening. I just knew stay in it, don’t stop (no matter how hard it gets), and keep doing the next thing the Lord tells me to do.

Every promise of God has an external and internal process to the full manifestation of that promise. In episode 13, we talked about the external process which was the fact that there are things that have to occur, come together things, and fall in place before that which you asked for can be delivered or manifested. But today we are talking about the internal, formative process.

James 1:4 Amplified says but let endurance and steadfastness and patience have full play and do a thorough work, so that you may be people perfectly and fully developed with no defects, lacking nothing.

The formation process is necessary so that when your skyscraper is constructed, when your promise matures, it doesn’t collapse on itself, it doesn’t topple, it doesn’t destroy you – because you have been tested, formed and equipped to handle the weight and responsibilities of it. The only thing that makes it difficult for us to weather this process is our own impatience; but it’s deeper than that. There is also a lot of fear in thinking that we will miss our window. If we don’t move now, or if it doesn’t happen for us now, we fear that age or the shifting of trends and taste will take away our moment of opportunity. But that is not true. What God has for you is for you.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 says “to everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven.” The scripture says there is a time. That’s a declaration; not a question, and not a suggestion.

Some of you may think: what if I miss my time? If you are following the Lord, and He is ordering your steps, there is no way you can miss it. But, let’s play and say that you do miss an opportunity. Isn’t He the God who redeems the time and makes crooked roads straight. If you allow Him to lead you, He’ll get you right back on track.

If you pair that with Phil 1:6, where we’re assured that God is faithful to complete the good work He began in you, you can rest assured that no matter how long your process takes, there is a season and a time for your promise. Oh, and one more thing: save yourself some anxiety in your process by not comparing yourself to others. We all have processes of varying lengths and experiences. Give yourself permission to walk your walk.

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