promophotoIt’s not JUST about the art… 

AMOKArts is about PASSION
It’s about a passion to know Jesus and make Him known.

AMOKArts is about VISION
It’s about helping people to find God’s plan and purpose for their lives, to find and use their gifts to glorify God, serve others and make the world a better place.

AMOKArts is about MISSION
It’s about helping churches to empower their people to be all God intended them to be so the church can fulfill the mission God has given them.

I want to help people and churches to have a passion for Jesus, live their vision and accomplish their mission. Art is the tool, but it’s all about Jesus. I’d love to come to your church, participate in your program, paint and call and help people find and use their gifts to serve the Lord. Contact me today!

The Blog starts below!

The other day I was struggling. I was wrestling with something someone said. It got to me. I started the check myself, but not in the good way. In the self-condemning, look down on myself way. I was actually looking at something that brings me joy and feeling selfish because I enjoyed it. Makes you think, doesn’t it?

That I would equate joy with selfishness makes me wonder what voice I was listening to. John 10:27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. My Lord loves me and while He doesn’t guarantee a happy or easy life, His joy is our strength.

Look, the condemning voice is usually nearby and ready to knock you around. That’s His mission, to take you off mission and ruin your life. Which voice are you listening to?

It’s easier to discern than you think. The Master’s voice is a voice of love. It sometimes brings conviction, but always from a place of bringing improvement and of perfect love, growing us into Christ. That condemning nasty voice, that tells you you’re worthless, useless, never be any good, etc. That’s not your loving Father’s voice. Ignore it and move on in your Father’s love.

I designed that sheep years ago as a logo for you youth group. It’s a smiling sheep to remind us to listen to the right voice.

Your Master’s Voice.

clockworkman2My friend Bill Beck, Jr., author of A Light In the Dark is doing a Kickstarter for his new book, The Clockwork Man. Here’s what Bill had to say about the book:

The Clockwork Man

Everyone has a purpose, an identity, an intrinsic value that is unique to them. The Clockwork Man is a children’s book that explores this concept and illustrates the importance of being yourself.

The story follows Kol, who is sent out by his creator on a journey to retrieve everything of value he comes across. Along the way he meets a colorful cast of characters who each leave their mark on him. As Kol tries to be more like them he is weighed down by the pressure and eventually collapses under the strain. In that broken-down place he meets a stranger who helps him get back on his feet and discover who he was created to be.

This really looks like it is a worthwhile project. If you’d like to have more information, check out his Kickstarter page.

atetheelephantI usually thank God before a big meal, but in this case I am thanking Him after it. That’s because it’s not really a meal but rather a big project. If you’re new to the blog, you may have missed my “How to Eat an Elephant?” post. The gist of it was “How Do You Eat an Elephant?” One bite at a time. My elephant was a huge animated video project that ended up being about 40 minutes long. There were numerous times when, I won’t lie, I felt like I bit off much more than I could chew. Tonight, I can say, with all glory to God that the elephant has been eaten. Barring a few minor corrections, the project is done. I worked hard, but God also came through big time!

Again the reason I posted the first post was because of all the people that I meet that say they have no time to create. What they mean is they don’t have big blocks of time to create. The truth is, most of the time none of us do. Instead projects done the same way elephant’s are eaten, one bite at a time. Over the last few months, I’ve created a 40 minute video. I lost track of my time but I am well over 100 hours. This simple animation project had several hundred drawings and manipulations of drawings. The drawings were drawn in my studio, on my recliner, in restaurants, indoors, outdoors, on a plane, in several airports, in my van, I was parked, in a Toastmasters meeting, a cabin in the woods, even a condo at the beach. They were drawn from the beach in Maryland to San Francisco, California with breaks in New Jersey, Idaho, and of course my home in PA. It was worked in around a full time job, many speaking engagements, meetings and life in general. The drawings were scanned in my studio, painted on my laptop and animated back in the studio. It was created early in the morning and in those “extra moments” throughout the day.

The project was massive and I questioned my wisdom on many occasions. I don’t know that I will take something like this on again but I am glad I did it and tonight I feel a sense of accomplishment and can acknowledge that many prayers have been answered.

My elephant has been eaten and I am glad to have eaten it. You do have time in your day. It may not be those wonderful big blocks of studio time that we all love, but you do have time. As artists, our conditions are rarely ideal. We can either give up or we can make it work. Sometimes we all have to eat the elephant.

Take it on!

There’s this song called Thrive. It’s sort of like Casting Crowns channeling Mumford and Sons and I love it. It speaks to a syndrom so many creatives, including me, fall into. We seem to have this idea that we aren’t worth very much. We buy into the starving artist lie and act as though this gift God gave us is somehow inferior. It’s not hard to find yourself in this place, with most of our lives have been spent being poked and prodded into having a back up plan. Well here’s the thing… God gifts us to live the lives He intended for us to live. He equips us to do things that are important, not in the world’s scheme of things but in His eternal one. We need to strip off this inferiority complex that covers God’s glory like a bowl in our lives and we need to climb up on a stand and shine. I believe we were created to be extraordinary.

“Just to know you and to make you known,
We lift your name on high.
Shine like the sun,
make darkness run and hide.
We know we were made for so much more,
than ordinary lives.
It’s time for us to more than just survive.
We mere made to thrive.”

Listen to this song for your inspiration today. Then go and thrive!

Joy Unspeakable,
Faith Unsinkable,
Love Unstoppable
(Matthew 19:26)

Read Luke 14:25-35
Sometimes Jesus is perplexing. The one who tells us to love friends, neighbors, even enemies, the one who says “they will know you are my disciples if you love one another” all of the sudden starts saying we have to hate those closest to us, and even our own lives, if we want to follow Him. It’s so out of character, it’s almost baffling. Why would Jesus say such a thing?

This isn’t really about hatred, it’s about priorities and it’s about idolatry. He doesn’t really want us to hate these people, He simply wants us to love God more, and He’s right. Anything we put before God, anything we love more than God becomes an idol. Idols tear us away from God. Being away from God draws us away from the source of our love. Being disconnected from the source of our love forces us to love from our own strength. Our own strength is pretty fickle and weak compared to the all-surpassing love of God. Therefore to really love the people we have been given with a wonderful perfect love, we have to love and remain connected to God more. When we love God first, then we can truly love.

We love because He first loves us.

So what do we do with that love? We must each carry our cross. Probably not literally but what Jesus is saying is there is a cost to following Him. It’s not money, it’s sacrifice, self-sacrifice. It only makes sense. He sacrificed Himself for those He loves and so must we. No we won’t be nailed to a cross, or even die, instead we die to self for the good of others. We put others first. We love others more than we love ourselves and still we love Him most. He is our source—the source of our love.

Jesus then goes on and gives two examples of what it means to count the cost. What does it cost to follow Jesus? Everything and yet nothing or maybe nothing and yet everything. He gave Himself freely and yet to receive His gift is to put Him first, to make Him, knowing Him, serving Him, following Him, our number one priority. Salvation is a free gift. Following Him will cost you everything. The cost is high and yet nothing compared to the great gift He gave for us. Yet to receive Him is to receive the Kingdom, becoming joint heirs of everything, leaving the slavery of sin to become sons and daughters of God forever. We are here not just to receive eternity but to point others to eternity. To point others to the ultimate free gift that will cost them everything. It requires sacrifice to draw others to sacrifice. Jesus modeled that and we must too, giving of ourselves so that others might live, the ultimate act of love. Carrying the cross, not dying but living, really living with a greater purpose than ourselves—an eternal purpose.

Creative reflections: (Do as many as you like or create your own response.)
1. Illustrate a key point in this passage, something that really speaks to you.
2. Write a story to show how this passage might be lived out in your life.
3. Make a list of the cost of being disciple. Then for each cost, write the benefit that comes with it.
4. Create a piece of art that will remind you to count the cost, carry your cross or any other take away you get from this passage.

Okay who else thinks that is a title I never expected to see on this blog? I know I didn’t and yet here I am writing. Let’s start at the beginning. 1. I am not a fan of rap music, though several songs have some appeal. I can safely say I’m not convinced I have ever heard anything Jay-Z had been involved in. 2. While her voice and performing skills are impressive, I’m not really into Beyonce’s music either. So why write this post? Because it has nothing to do with their music and everything to do with the subject of this blog.

Over the last few months, there have been rumors swirling that this couple would soon be divorcing. If someone with the level of fandom listed above is a little tired of hearing it, you know it’s gotten huge press. We live in a celebrity obsessed culture. Now please hear me. I am all about the sanctity of marriage and I grieve when couples reach an impass and decide to divorce, so on that level, I was concerned, but celebrity marriages are so fragile, and this is so common, I just was not surprised.

Today though I got a little sick to my stomach. It turns out they floated the divorce rumor to build publicity for their tour. If this is true, and it looks like it is, I am outraged. How much attention do two people need? Everytime they break wind there’s a reporter there to tell us about it. For crying out loud. Two people, who we’ll presume love each other, were willing to lie about the end of their marriage to put a few more butts in the seats. I’ll say it again, how much attention do two people need?

Here’s the reality we live in. There are billions of things that vie for people’s attention. Beyonce and Jay-Z decided to capitalize on society’s interest in dirty laundry to get it, but there are better ways and these will work for you as well.

1. Make better art. Sorry to Mr. and Mrs. Z but it would seem to me that the best way to fill auditoriums is to give us a piece of art we can’t ignore. Surely this is better than heaping big, horrible lies on people who care enough about you to make you rich. An audience is a sacred trust. Treat them well.

2. Do something good. Here’s a thought… Rather than telling us you’re divorcing, if you want some attention, if you want to get us into your concert seats, give us a compelling story. There are a million great causes out there. Pick one and show us how coming to your show will help you do something, anything, good. People are raising millions by pouring buckets of ice on their heads. It doesn’t take much if the cause is good.

Congratulations to Beyonce and Jay-Z. You took something that breaks many people’s hearts and turned it into a cheap publicity stunt. I don’t believe in Karma… pity. For the rest of us, the best way to get attention is to make great art and do some good. You may not ever get filthy rich (or you might), but you can create with integrity and rest well knowing you did something that matters.

A friend posted this beautiful video to Facebook and I just had to share it. The imagery is gorgeous and powerful. Time passes so quickly. Life passes so quickly. Enjoy this life and make it count, but in the process of making it count, be careful not to miss the moments that really matter. People are worth more than money, accomplishments or anything else that we put on the altar of our lives. The altar of our lives should be to Christ, and He made the ultimate sacrifice not for all the stuff the world will tell you is important. Jesus gave His life for people. Time flies. Value the people you’ve been given to love.