A Theology of Expression

Some people have a problem with being thankful. I am not one of those people.

I thank God for things all the time. But I am not one of those irrational people who thanks God for everything – like inventing cars, or soda, or diabetic socks, or bacon. God didn’t invent those things, stupid people. But I usually pray a prayer of thanksgiving every time I eat a peanut butter sandwich that goes something like this: “God, thank you for creating the man who invented peanut butter.” Now, you might say that is George Washington Carver, but you’d be doubly wrong. So, maybe I have to retract my statement about bacon, but the rest still stands.

I’m so glad that God has inspired so many men and women to think, invent, and create.

Inspiration is a funny thing. It can cause a person to paint a picture, write a song, develop an invention, or pen Scripture. All forms of expression come from some form of inspiration. The key to discovering a great form of expression is to look at the inspiration. God is the highest form of inspiration there is. He is the Creator of the whole universe – from the stars in the sky to the fleas on a dog. Every night when I walk into my house, I look up at those stars and am continually reminded at how inspiring God is.

Just like you can look at a great painting and see the heart of the artist, you can look at the heart of mankind and see the hand of God. You can look at Christ’s life, death, and resurrection and see the love of God. You can see the conquest of Joshua and see the wrath of God. You read the Psalms and see how God inspires man. The Bible itself is another example of God inspiring man – in more ways than one.

Expression is only as good as the inspiration behind it. If your inspiration is temporary, if it is fleeting, if it can fail you, your expression loses significance. People who don’t live in an area where there are peanuts probably don’t care for the inspiration behind peanut butter. People who write songs about sex or drugs or money don’t create inspiration. But songs and paintings can be temporary or about current situations in time and still hold eternal significance depending on the inspiration. Great expression always inspires. It’s contagious.

My pastor said a few weeks ago that the gospel isn’t centered on expressing oneself but denying oneself. This is one of those statements though with a paradoxical twist – it is only when denying themselves that people can truly express themselves. If God is the highest form of inspiration, the highest form of expression comes through Him. This can be heard in Handel’s Messiah, seen in Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel, or experienced while walking through a park on a nice day.

A great thing about expression is it speaks about and to its inspiration regardless of how explicit that mention might be. There are some great worship songs out there that are glorifying and directly speak to God’s character. Then there are those songs that speak through metaphor or situations to point to spiritual and godly truths. I think one of the disasters today of the Christian music industry is its forcefulness of the inclusion of God. People love NEEDTOBREATHE and Switchfoot because their expression isn’t forced; it is fluid and it is natural.

One of my favorite songs of all-time is called “John Wayne Gacy Jr” by Sufjan Stevens. In the song, Stevens talks about one of the most prolific serial killers to ever live. The song is disgusting and it leaves the listener feeling sickened as the song progresses. In the heart, the listener feels how wretched this killer was. Then in the last line of the song, Stevens says: “In reality, I am really just like him. Look beneath the floorboards for the secrets I have hid.”

There it is.

What a phenomenal song to express the fallen nature of mankind and to show the morality engraved in the hearts of man to feel sickened by evil. It is something I loved about the show Breaking Bad. No show in the history of television has painted such a vivid picture of right and wrong. This is the key to great expression. This is a key that opens many doors and leads the artist down many corridors. This is the key that allows one to think outside the box, outside of themselves, and potentially outside their present reality.

What inspires you?


An Illustrious Imaginative

“Why fit in when you were born to stand out.” –Dr. Seuss

I get frustrated a lot…

Big surprise.

I am a person who values efficiency. I like productivity, I enjoy progress, and I tend to sometimes be a perfectionist. I am sarcastic and stubborn. I am a critic. Some might think I am a pessimist.

I have an imagination.

I can think of unicorns without believing they exist. I can fathom a sun fashioned out of cheese… or maybe it was the moon? I can picture worlds like that out of a Dr. Seuss book. Narnia, Middle Earth, and District 12 aren’t just places described in movies and books, but they are realities that first found their birth in the immaterial – my imagination.

In my world, there is a reality that is subject to my mind. And in my world, there are things that aren’t even possibilities in this world. But there are a many more that still are possibilities. The questions, “why,” and, “what if,” aren’t questions that are found in nature, but they are questions that are birthed in the connecting synapses of each individual’s mind.

Many of the great minds of the past and present are people who had well-flourished imaginations. They were men and women who thought not how things were but of how things could be. They weren’t worried about how ridiculous their possibilities could have been.

The people of history who were most responsible for changing the world were the ones who were willing to think differently.

Don’t be afraid to befriend the eccentrics. Don’t hesitate to sound ridiculous. Think big. You can be critical of things within reality, but don’t be critical of reality itself. See instances as solutions to be solved. It is possible to be critical yet content.

And you can have a sight setting towards the future without dwelling on it. You might be subject to time, but your imagination isn’t. A better tomorrow can only be grasped by having a different view of today – the today you still have to live in.

Here’s to hoping for a better tomorrow today.

“Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, it’s a way at looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope.” – Dr. Seuss

Arts. Aspirations. Archetype.

Archetype – “the original pattern or model from which all things of the same kind are copied or on which they are based; a model or first form; prototype.”

I sat scared as the interview progressed with question after question. I felt like I was in an interrogation inspired by a midweek television drama. Though my countenance probably didn’t waiver, my heart was beating in my chest. I felt my ears getting warmer as my thoughts digressed down different paths of who I was, what my strengths were, and how I would be an asset to the team.

Needless to say, I ended up making Floodgate, a traveling ministry team of Central Bible College.

If someone I went to high school with would’ve heard this, I think their response would’ve been normal: “Oh Bobby! Yeah – drama is his thing.” But the initial reaction I got now as a senior in college was different: “Really? Bobby? That’s a weird fit.”

In high school I would’ve easily fit into the “Artsy” category. I starred in my high school musical, I was in drama’s, I got “superior’s” in class-A solo’s for vocal, I was in jazz band, I took music theory, I got best portfolio at our school’s Art Show, and I was a worship leader at my church and youth group. My life was saturated in the arts growing up. I even worked at a music store!

Oddly – most people from CBC that know me had NO IDEA that I did any of that in high school.

Until now… But why haven’t I been that involved in the arts since coming to college? I love the arts. They are a great way for me to express myself, and I honestly have a natural ability in them. I come from a musical family. I like being creative.

But I’m not passionate about the arts.

I came to CBC with a passion for God’s Word. So that has been my goal since being at CBC; to learn about God’s Word. I didn’t want to be thrown in the pattern or process of being “that music guy” like I felt like I was in high school. With college came new beginnings, new aspirations, and the potential for a new identity. Now, I am so removed from who I was in high school that going back to it now has made some of my friends scratch their heads.

Don’t think that you can’t ever change who you are or what people think about you. And don’t feel like, if you are categorized, that you have to fit into someone else’s mold of who they expect you to be. As I hear in every generic sermon: “God is in the life changing business.” Though this transcends simple hobbies and character traits, I do believe that God will mold you into who He wants you to be if you are submissive to His will. Find the passion that God gave you and pursue it. And don’t ever be discouraged by what people might think about you. All you need to worry about is what God thinks about you.