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!

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My friend Marlita Hill author of Defying Discord posted thing today and it’s brilliant. Failure just might be an illusion and a way to success.

Find out more about Marlita on her Facebook page.

I sometimes enjoy using cartooning to explore complex subjects. Such is the case in my most recent series at over at Creachertoons.

One of my dear sisters in Christ from church lent me a devotional from Dr. Tony Evans, a preaching hero of mine, called Life Under God. I got myself a little messed up and I ended up ahead of the devotional by a day. The truth he shared today was priceless and I just had to share it here. Now if you happen to be one of my Springfield people, it’s okay to read this, just don’t be surprised if you hear it in a sermon in the next month or two.

He starts off with these words from the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6:34):

“So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of it’s own.”

Most people are being crucified between two thieves: yesterday and tomorrow. They killed today because of what happened yesterday, and they are too scared today because of what may happen tomorrow. Do you know that today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday?

Now there is a truth bomb for you. Worry is a useless exercise that will strip you of the hope and creativity you need to solve the problems of today. Give this day to the Lord and move forward in hope.

Thanks Dr. Evans for this pertinent reminder and thank you Jesus for inspiring it.

I had this idea for sort of the ultimate creative exercise, that would have proven the ultimate point I am trying to make about discourse in our world. With all the talk about “fake news” it would maybe not have been thought as original as I would like to be, but if could have done some real good.

What I was going to do was to make up a story—a totally plausible–something that could actually have happened and yet just preposterous enough that all but the most gullible among us should second guess it. I was going to write it and check it and then I was going to give it a tantalizing title and put it out on Social Media, acting outraged over what I had just heard and seeing how many people would distribute it. Then after about a week I was going to write a secondary article denouncing it and showing people how quickly fake news and false teaching are disseminated and how wrong it is to share things we don’t know to be true. I had all intentions of doing this, but I didn’t. Here’s why.

1. I live to honor God. He gave this law about not bearing false witness and I am pretty sure it still applies here. Even though I was trying to prove a point, I would have been guilty of false teaching, gossip and a whole bunch of other things.

2. I value my credibility. A big part of doing what I do hinges on people believing me. Also important is that people feel safe sharing what I post. What would happen if I started to put things out there that would make people constantly wonder, “Is he trying to trick us this time too?”

3. Rebottling Genies is hard. What if someone read the first story and not the second. What if my story was passed along and the people who saw it were unaware of the retraction or the point behind the exercise. Things on social media have the potential to spread and take on a life of their own. I can’t even begin to imagine that I would be able to reach everyone touched by something I’ve posted with a single retraction. I’d simply be guilty of misinformation. There are other reasons as well but these are the big three.

Why did I share this? Because there are people all over the “inter-webs” who do not have my scruples. They post things for the sole purpose of getting people to share them, spread lies and turn people against each other. It may be the ultimate misuse of creativity. So the next time you get outrages over something you read online, before you pass it, take a breath, calm down and maybe do a little research. People always joke, “I read it on the internet, it must be true.” You know why people laugh when they say that? Because it is so obviously untrue. Watch what you post and what you repost and share. The internet gives a platform to anyone and everyone who wants one, We’d be lying to ourselves if we thought all those people posting are honest and with our best interests at heart.

Use your platform for good and value the trust of the people who give you their time.

Speak the truth. Post the truth. People are watching.

I just finished writing the sermon for a funeral service, I’m doing tomorrow. I didn’t know the man, though we did meet once. That’s always a challenge, but it is an honor to have the opportunity to bring a message of hope to hurting people. The idea that came to me is not all that original but it hit me in a way I hadn’t thought of before. It’s the idea of the “dash”—how our whole lives are summed up with a single hyphen, that little line between the dates of our birth and our death. So much summed up in so little, but then I had a thought. This is what I want on my tombstone. (I gave myself the benefit of the doubt and give myself a hundred years. That number is, of course, up to God.)

What really hit me in this Easter season is, because of what Jesus did for us, believers get a second dash… a really long one. Ain’t God good?!?

Before I go any further, you should probably know that as the son of a Vietnam era soldier, I’ve never been a fan of anything that involves marching and carrying signs. That being said, I will acknowledge that great good was done in the civil rights movement and a few other things and will concede that some marches have value. As I watched the news this morning at the gym, i saw students from a Philadelphia area school wearing T-shirts that said “ENOUGH.” on them for the nationwide demonstration being held today. I found this amusing since that is the title of my latest book. I’m not sure how I feel about this protest, but I do understand the heart behind it and wish these young folks well. No one should be afraid to go to school.

But I think that just might be my problem. Every time a school shooting occurs, the response is predictable. The media and a whole slew of politicians will once again go after the second amendment and the NRA. I guess I am always a little skeptical when politicians go after the second amendment since the second amendment was given largely to protect us from politicians. That being said, if they could promise me there’d never be another school shooting, I might still get on board. No one should be afraid to go to school.

But now that the protest is over, I need to tell all my young friends something. There are hundreds, no thousands, no tens of thousands of your peers, your classmates who are afraid to go to school every day, and if all the guns were melted into a statue of (fill in your favorite celebrity here) tomorrow, they would still be afraid. See they’re not afraid of guns, so much as they’re afraid of you. Okay maybe not you personally, but of the peer that is abusing them day after day after day. They’re terrified and they feel like no one cares. They need a friend and they need one badly. They need someone to care. They need you. The question was will you say “ENOUGH.” for them? Will you stand up for them? Will you break the cycle?

Did you ever notice that almost every single one of these shooters was bullied brutally before they did what they did? No I’m not saying they were right to do what they did, and I will never even attempt to justify their actions, but I will ask a question? Could have any of these situations been any different if someone showed them they cared? Of course, most bullied kids will not take this kind of action. Most don’t want to hurt anyone, they just want it to end, and while tragedies like Parkland are a national tragedy, about 14 teens in America every single day die by their own hands, because they just want the bullying to end. Someone needs to show them they care and if we do, it will turn the tide in ways the legislation you hope to see this day, cannot hope to come close to. If you want to make a real difference, it starts by being really different. If you really want to save lives, be a friend to the friendless. I take this a little personally because I was one of these people.

No one should be afraid to go to school. #sharehope

On my recent ministry trip to Nebraska, I met a man named John. John is a pianist and an extraordinary one. To hear John play piano is truly a gift. This is more than just playing the printed notes, there were fills and arpeggios and a whole bunch of other stuff that probably all have technical terms, which this non-musician does not know. To sing along in worship with him is an experience not to be missed. Now it you’re a little jaded, you might say well that’s nice but there are a lot of good piano players out there and you would be right, but none of them are quite like John.

You see, years ago, John lost a hand in a tragic accident, and not just a hand but his dominant playing hand. For most people that would seem an obstacle that is insurmountable. Most people aren’t John. John has a prosthetic hook replacing his left hand. He places a pencil top eraser on the hook and uses it to tap out the rhythms, while his right hand played everything else. He is not pretty good for a one handed guy, he is simply a great player. Faced with the loss of a hand, what he really faced was a choice. He could give up, (no one would have blamed him for that) or he could adapt and turn the obstacle into an opportunity. He must have been able to tell I wanted to say something but I wasn’t sure how I should phrase what I was thinking, so he said it for me. He said, without a shred of pridefulness, “I used to be good (he still is, and more) but now I’m inspirational.” To that all I can say is “Amen.”

John took an obstacle and turned it into an opportunity, and that’s the thing about creativity. Creativity finds a way where there is no way. When we follow God into turning obstacles into opportunities, we become inspirational and furthermore, we give glory to the one for whom all things are possible.

What are your obstacles and how can you turn them into opportunities?