Interested in a Free Book? Enter the Spark Giveaway

To celebrate the recent publication of Spark: Igniting Your God-Given Creativity, today I’m posting a brief excerpt and holding a giveaway. To enter the draw for a free copy of Spark, please leave a comment at the end of this article and/or share on social media and let me know.  I’ll do a random draw on Saturday, August 29, 9am and post the winner’s name then.

SparkAs a first-year university student, I enrolled in a course that combined English, literature, history, and philosophy. For my first paper, I wrote a Bible-as-literature essay on the book of Exodus, and at one point referred to the Holy Spirit. When I met with my professor to discuss my paper, she said,”You can’t say that. The Holy Spirit is a New Testament idea. You’re writing about the Old Testament. The Holy Spirit wasn’t invented yet.”

With all due respect to my professor, the Holy Spirit was not some kind of late invention by New Testament writers. From the very beginning, in Genesis 1, the Spirit of God was present in creation. God’s Spirit stirred the people to give and express their creativity in assembling the tabernacle and its furnishings (Exodus 35-36). God’s Spirit moved Isaiah, Jeremiah, and others to speak out for peace, justice, and mercy. Psalm 139:8-10 describes how the Holy Spirit is everywhere:

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 settle at the farthest limits of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me,
    and your right hand shall hold me fast.

In 1 Corinthians 12:1-11, the Spirit of God gives spiritual gifts, and energizes and guides their use. For me, this is freeing and applies also to the gift of creativity. It’s a gift that’s freely given–we don’t have to earn it or compete for it. We don’t have to drive ourselves. We don’t have to be guilted into doing anything. Whatever creative gifts we may have, we receive them from God, whose Spirit leads and enables us to express them.

Your turn: How does the Spirit spark your creativity? I’d love to hear your ideas and strategies. Or just leave a comment to let me know you’d like to enter the draw for a free copy of Spark.



Categories: Writing

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39 replies

  1. If ever I needed a new “SPARK,” it’s now. My days disappear, and I feel I have accomplished nothing. I am sorry I won’t be at the women’s meeting in Squeah. Instead, I’ll be making my first trip in 5 years home to Virgil, ON, where I grew up, and where most of my siblings live. Peter and I used to make the cross-country trip by car every summer until 5 years ago. That was our annual “vacation.” So many friends and relatives along the way put us up, and each had struggles or hard stories to share, so it was so very meaningful. This time I will fly! I hope to stay in contact via emails and Facebook.

    • Dear Mary, that sounds like a wonderful trip, and I’m glad that you have such a special time to look forward to! In the meantime, I pray that you’ll have patience with yourself and receive God’s grace for this time of transition. Whether you feel you’ve accomplished something or not, God is with you each day to restore and lift your spirit.

  2. I have gone from full-time ministry to retirement due to neurological disability. One of my reactions to this is being disinterested in church, and other things that used to really excite me. I can’t seem to get motivated. A small weight loss has given me some energy, perhaps it’s time to attempt to relight Spirit’s spark.

    • God has given me many issues to work through, but as I think of how he has brought me new life this past year, it seems to be through guiding me to using my creativity to a new ministry. I call it the “comfort ministry”, because as I receive the Spirit’s comfort in the disappointing times, He has given me many around me who receive comfort from receiving comforters that I have made for each one personally. My blanket making has been for family mostly in the past, but now is reaching out to friends who need God. One of my closest friends took her life because of overwhelming depression & her childen & grandchildren are needy for God’s comfort, so God has put it in my heart to make new blankets for her grandchildren, who have accepted me and want me to be around for them. PTL!! Thank you for your love & prayers! Anna Byrne

    • Thank you for sharing, Andrea. When life is overwhelming, it’s hard to feel motivated! I pray for God’s Spirit to carry you through this time, to give you good rest and rekindle the gift that is in you.

      Dear Anna, I’m so sorry to hear about your friend, and pray that you may be a comfort to her family as God leads you. May the comfort that you have received overflow in comfort also to others.

  3. I’m happy to receive your blog each week; I think Spark will be a good read. My latest “spark” was a cross-continent motorcycle trip with my husband to Mennonite World Conference Assembly 2015 in Harrisburg, PA. We visited friends and family along the way, participated in spirit-filled worship services (with wonderful music and inspirational speakers), met old and new friends from previous assemblies, and enjoyed scenic vistas: Blue Ridge Parkway, Grand Tetons, Yellowstone, Glacier, and Northern Cascades (before the fires). All Spirit-filled, for sure! Please put my name in for a free copy. Thanks.

  4. There is so much beauty in Scripture it is easy to find inspiration. With words like “I wake the dawn with my song” from Psalm 57:8. There are certain words in Scripture that just spark the imagination. Also, grace. I’m inspired by the work of Grace through the Holy Spirit in our lives once we come to Christ. The picture that I see in my mind when I think of grace is a person, a woman dancing. Beautiful!

  5. Can’t wait to read the new book, April!

  6. Sometimes I recognize the Spirit only by hindsight. At the time perhaps I’m lost in chaos or pain, and don’t see or feel the tenderly brooding giver of life. (…and please enter me in the drawing too!)

    • Definitely – your name and all of the names in the comments will be entered in the draw. I’m enjoying all of the responses and am especially struck by your comment about recognizing the Spirit “only by hindsight.” I find that a good reminder that even when we might not realize it, God’s Spirit continues to be at work “tenderly brooding” over us. Thank you.

  7. In the past year, the Spirit has led me to take lessons to learn to play the flute – an instrument I wanted to learn many years ago as a grade 5 student. (Instead, I was advised to take violin, since the orchestra director wanted more violins!) It is a true joy to practice and to hear the improvement that practice brings. My mind and body are being used in new ways! Each note becomes a prayer of praise to the One who created music and the bodies we have to play it.

    • Thank you so much for sharing your experience – in playing the flute, your mind, body, and spirit are all so beautifully engaged. And what a joy to return to your childhood desire now as an adult. May your experience continue to be as sweet and filled with praise!

  8. the Holy Spirit is not an entity; it is one with God.

  9. I find that the Spirit’s spark seems to light up my life especially when events and health are not the brightest. Today I saw a branch on a tree covered with cocoon swirls and thought how the pupa and caterpillar had destroyed that branch and all its leaves. Yet one day the butterfly will emerge from this web and bring someone encouragement and joy, possibly, a new way of seeing and new life. Sign me up for the draw, too.

    • I appreciate your testimony, Maria – the Spirit is indeed at work lighting our way in the midst of challenge, bringing new life out of what may look like destruction and death. We see that in nature and in our own lives as you describe.Thank you for the reminder and word of encouragement.

  10. I have felt God’s Spirit filling me with new interests and reviving a long abandoned joy in sewing since I retired. My days are filled with creating beauty with fabric and I love to see the joy the gifts bring to folks I can share them with. I look forward to reading your book and making it available in our church library. I would love to win a copy.

    • Irene, I love the way you multiply joy with your gift of sewing, and with your idea to make Spark available to more readers through your church library. The draw will take place Saturday morning, and I’ll announce the result here on my blog, so please stay tuned!

  11. Often, as Andrea says, we only see the Holy Spirit in our own lives in hindsight. It is with the help of others, often in community, that we are aided in recognizing God’s hand.
    Thank you to all who commented. By sharing of yourself, we see the Spirit — speaking through you to us, the readers…providing the Spark of recognition in our own lives.

    • Thanks, Denise – I’m loving all of the comments too, and as you say, the community of others can help us recognize God’s work in our lives and even be that spark for us at times. Thank you for adding to the community here and being part of the movement of God’s Spirit.

  12. The Holy Spirit is not an output from some innovations. The Holy Spirit is the Triune God and thus beyond the reach of human inventions. On the other hand, one would claim that every innovation has “a special moment”.Denis J. Hauptly (2008:1) calls it, “brief flash”. You may term it, “spark”. And yes I subscribe with you that the Spirit of God energizes and guides the gifts of creativity. In fact, in holistic transformation, our thoughts, and activities, and all aspects of life ought to be expressive of Godly spirituality.

  13. April – I appreciate your blog, and read through Sacred Pauses last fall during my sabbatical. Each week I read a new chapter, and experimented with the practices. I have now lost track of my copy, after lending it out to someone! I would love to get my hands on your new book.

  14. April, I am enjoying being on your email list. Thank you for being open to using and sharing your gifts to “spark” others. I see that as the Holy Spirit working in you. Any time I am quiet my mind goes to prayer and I have all kinds of ideas related to musical creativity. Sometimes I get ideas for songs to write or songs I already know that I want to perform or groups or events that I want to put together. Now I’m praying for wisdom to know which things to focus on and the courage to go ahead!

    • Hi La Vern, in Spark I quote Maya Angelou: “You can’t use up creativity; the more you use, the more you have,” which applies well to your experience. You have such an abundance of ideas and opportunities, that your challenge is discerning the best way to channel your creativity. I look forward to seeing how you will move forward with this! Thanks for your kind words and encouragement.

  15. I can most easy identify the spark of the Spirit when I have a thought which I can’t trace via train of thought. My mind is often running a million miles an hour and sometimes God flags an idea as something I should pursue and sometimes God seems to wait until I’m all run out of breath and then when I’m finally ready to listen, the Spirit gives me the idea I need. I would love to read your book about this April, since right now it feels like fluke when I am quiet enough to see the spark.

    • I can identify with your comment, Gabrielle – sometimes it seems as if I’m running only to be suddenly flagged down, and sometimes I’m quietly listening. The Spirit blows where it wills, as Jesus says in John 3.

  16. I sometimes hoard or ration my “sparks,” as if I might use up my quota. Good to remind myself again that creativity continually effervesces in those made in God’s image. Maybe I’ll draw a cartoon over my desk: the old Professor with his never-empty flask of spirits in “The Bishop’s Wife,” after his visitation from Dudley the Angel. Or Elijah, the widow, the oil . . .

    • Welcome, Laurie – I love the way you put it, that “creativity continually effervesces.” I’ve just been browsing your website, and see the evidence of that in your words and images. May the oil of your creativity never run out, and may you continue to make music in your heart to the Lord. Thanks for stopping by!

  17. Hi April,

    As someone transitioning from directing a college theatre program to full-time seminary studies, I am particularly attuned to the ways the Spirit is involved in the creative process. While I love the arts, right now I am particularly drawn to the creativity expressed in loving people. Van Gogh has this quote: “The more I think about it, the more I realize there is nothing more artistic than to love others.” The Spirit sometimes helps me love through images; Lately, I’ve imagined people’s foreheads having a smear of gold paint on them, applied by the thumb of their Loving Creator as a sign of their being made in the image of God. When it’s hard to love a person, this image helps me re-imagine that person as beloved.

    You may not remember me, but I was your upstairs neighbor at the seminary apartments in Richmond, Virginia. My family lived there when I was ages 5-9 while my dad was working on his PhD (Nelson Kraybill). I remember visiting your apartment and eating chocolate covered confections that looked a bit like spiders (too cool!). I now have the pleasure of enjoying your no-less-cool blog!

    Laura

    • Laura, it’s so great to hear from you! I remember you and your family well, although I haven’t seen your parents for some time. You have an excellent memory – “chocolate bugs” (or haystacks) are still a Christmas treat in our household 🙂 I love that Van Gogh quote too, and it even makes an appearance in Spark! Now with your comment, I will always think of it with a smear of gold paint. All the best in your transition to seminary!

  18. Congratulations, Irene Ens – you are the winner of the Spark Giveaway! Please use my contact form to send me your address, and I’ll mail your copy to you: https://aprilyamasaki.com/contact/