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!


I spent 16 years publishing and editing a magazine. Nearly a third of my professional life has been spent looking for typos and it’s sort of a force of habit by now. I can spot a typo heading down the road, out of the corner of my eye at 55+ miles an hour. I’m notorious for it at times, but there is one writer who can always get them by me, every single time no matter how often I look at their work. That writer is me. Now if you’re a regular reader of this blog, you are probably not surprised and at times autocorrect has not been my friend, but I am continually amazed how often I just plain miss things.

Case in point—I’m currently reading my own book, Enough. Now I have read this thing backwards, forwards and sideways, before I hit publish and I thought I had it pretty tight, and for the record, it is pretty tight, but it’s not flawless, and that drives me crazy and leaves me scratching my head and asking the age old question:

How did I miss that?

I know what you might be thinking, “Why didn’t you hire an editor?” Well the reality is the profit margin on a self-published books is relatively small (often non-existent), and editing fees would most definitely take the project way into the red, and besides “I edited for 16 years…” (I say to myself somewhat overconfidently). Still I ask myself, with all that experience, “How could I miss it these annoying little typos?” Let me see if I can answer my own question.

Have you ever met a child whose behavior is atrocious? Have you noticed the only one who doesn’t seem to notice is his parent? Why don’t they see it? I mean after all they have no problem seeing problems with other people’s kids. The reason is simple. They’re too close to it. They’re too familiar and so it is with our writing. We know what we’re trying to say so editing our own work is really hard. It’s easy to miss the flaws in something you’re really invested in.

So what can we do about it? Well maybe rather than paying an editor, you can find another author and d a swap. You read their book, they read yours. At least this will make your glaring errors stand out. Of course, in the publishing world, if you get a company to publish your book they will assign an editor or maybe even a team of editors to you, so that may be the way to go. Of course the issue with that is, you have to decide you’re okay with waiting to be picked, and that got old all the way back in my freelance days.

Now to be clear, the few thing I found are not horrendous, and the book is still really readable and probably the best thing I have ever written, the flaws are just annoying. I do hope you’ll read it. When I finish reading, I will probably take another run at editing. The nice thing about self-publishing is you can always make things better.

One last thought, nobody’s perfect (except Jesus), and I’d rather release and re-edit than withholding it until I achieve an unattainable perfection.

I love my kindle. Not only is it a great way to read, but it gives me ads suggesting other books to read. I’d been seeing ads for Union Station for month. It looked interesting, but based on the cover, I thought it would be a graphic novel, so I put it off. When I got a Kindle Fire for Christmas, I picked it up. Well I was wrong about it being a graphic novel, but I figured it would be sci-fi, and it is, well sort of. To be honest, this is a book like few I have read and I loved it. It’s not so much an action story as it is a story about relationships. It’s a very funny book, clean and well written. The reason I say it’s sort of sci-fi, is because it’s set on a space station and there are aliens and artificial intelligence beings all over the place, but what really sells this book is the relational stuff that happens as all these diverse beings learn to coexist in spite of some pretty vast cultural differences. As such this humorous little sci-fi series could be pretty important in life today.

That’s not to say it’s a morality play or a parable. At times it feels like a more lighthearted Hitchhikers Guide. It’s told from the perspective of Earth Ambassador Kelly Frank McAllister, who struggles to understand what her role is in the grand scheme of things at Union Station. The station is run by these sentient robotic AI beings called the Stryx who help her in the process while at times complicating her life. The characters are immensely well developed. The three books in this collection were a lot of fun. I thoroughly enjoyed these books, and I look forward to reading more in the series.

There’s an old saying that probably bears repeating. It says: “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plan.” For the record, I don’t think God laughs at our struggles, disappointments, etc., but there is a core truth here. Life is really unpredictable, but the bigger question is how will we handle the unpredictable things that happen in our world.

This week, one of those things happened, I lost a dear friend, and I’m his pastor, so that means I need to officiate his funeral. Funerals are hard, because they are such a dichotomy. My friend was one of those joyful people, just an all around a phenomenal person, and I will miss him, a lot. It will be a sad day, but on the other hand, my friend was the kind of person who touched and blessed a lot of lives and a lot of people, and so I choose to celebrate the fact that God put him into my life and gave me the privilege of being his friend. I will not see him every Sunday, and that will be hard, but He loved Jesus and so I know I will see him again. There will be sadness and joy all rolled into one, and one of the things we all need to do is accept that that is okay.

Doing a funeral was not in my plans for this week, and neither was losing a friend, but I count it a privilege to serve my friend and his family, and my prayer is that I can keep my composure and honor him and the God we both serve. I called this post plans, because there is something that we all need to remember. God is good in the unpredictable times of life. I know He will make a way to accomplish all that is before me this week. God is good in any and all situations, the ones that bring us joy and the ones that make us sad, and sometimes both of those things happen at the same time. I’ll miss you my friend, but I rejoice that I will see you again.

Sometimes life changes our plans, and I don’t think God laughs when it does. Rather I think God holds us in the hard times. He is faithful in all things. Trust Him with your plans and with your life. Hold your plans loosely and God tightly. He will make a way.

Is there ever a time to crush someone’s creative dream? Well the answer to that question is yes, and no. Let me explain. Have you ever watched American Idol? Now not after it’s down to the live shows when everyone is good. No I’m talking about the auditions, especially in the early seasons when they showed a lot of the most untalented people. Some of these people were frankly delusional. They thought they had talent, everyone told them they were good, but any listening person saw they were not even close. They left the auditions either crushed and devastated, flipping our angrily, or determined to try again next year.

I was one of these people. No I never auditioned for Idol, I was already too old for that when the show came on and by then I had had my rude awakening, but I did play in a band once, for about two weeks. I was a bass player, well sort of. I stank. I couldn’t even tune my own instrument, but that didn’t matter, I wanted to be a rock star and someone once told me I could do anything I put my mind to. They lied.

Here’s the thing, you can’t do anything you want to do. You can do anything you’re designed to do. I was not created to be a musician and maybe someone should have crushed my dream. Heck somebody did. I found out our rhythm guitarist was asked to take over on bass, essentially pushing me out. Thing is it was the best thing anyone could have done for me, but it was painful.

If I had worked my tail off, all day every day I might have been able to become a nominal bass player, but who wants to be nominal? Should we crush someone’s dream. On one hand, if we don’t, sooner or later someone will, and they might not be so kind about it, or worse we’ll continue slogging away in a fantasy, when we could be creating a great reality. I tend to shy away from dream crushing because art is so subjective. If I’m Bringing Sexy Back would have been Justin Timberlake’s first song, I would have crushed that dream and fast. It’s awful, but the NFL and a lot of screaming fans seem to disagree. What I like instead of dream crushing is something I call loving redirection. When someone found my gift of art and redirected me toward it, especially when related to ministry, I thrived. I found my niche and I am happier today than I have ever been. I’ve had so many dreams in my life, and a lot of them got crushed, but some of those things simply had to go, and others had to happen to build my skills to position me.

Failure is a great teacher, and a great guide. If you see someone trying really hard at something but the aptitude isn’t there, don’t crush them. Instead look for the good in them and give them the opportunity to succeed.

It’s called loving redirection. It’s good leadership and done well it benefits all involved. Pass it on!

One day I had a great idea. It was a gag for a cartoon and it was funny. “If vegetarians eat only vegetables, should we be afraid of humanitarians.” I drew a head hunter standing in front of a huge boiling pot, ala the Tarzan movies and posted it, waiting for people to start complimenting my comedic genius. That’s not what happened. Instead I got a very kind note from an artist friend. Now my friend is African American, and he started off so kindly and patiently and said something to the effect of, “Today, a lot of people see images like the one you just posted as racist. I know your heart, and I know that’s not want you meant, but I thought you should know.” Now I’ll confess part of me wanted to get mad. I really liked the cartoon. It was funny andThe drawing came together really well, but my friend spoke the truth in love to me, and I respected him enough to take the comic down. That’s the other part of the reason I draw creatures.

You see my creatures are unique and different and they don’t look like anyone, and because they don’t look like anyone, they can represent everyone and that’s huge. The truth is, I don’t do these things, especially my cartoons for my health. I do them to communicate, and I want to cast a wide net. I want people to mull over the messages and maybe, just maybe apply them or at least consider what I’m saying. The messages do sometimes have an edge to them and I don’t shy away from controversy, but I want to be heard. The creatures are less offensive and so they don’t create a barrier. It’s another reason I use the creatures. Offense builds walls where I want windows.

I share this message for two reasons. First of all I wanted to use my friend as an example. He cared enough to share what could have been a very hard truth. We artists tend to take our work pretty personally. Add to that the fact that he saw a meaning I never thought of, intended, or even considered and it could have been touchy. He was looking out for me and he validated me while showing me an unintended, potentially hurtful consequence and I received it, largely because of the heart with which he shared it.

Lastly, I am fully aware that we live in a world that, at times, seems way too touchy. Those of us who sometimes deal in humor, have to be especially aware of this. At the end of the day though, if we are going to be communicators, we have to be willing to look for barriers to the message in our work and tear down as many walls as we can. This is not to say we shy away from truth, but rather that we speak the truth in love. In my case, the image was well done, and the gag was funny, but a funny gag and a well drawn picture is not worth as much as my credibility, when I’m saying something that’s important. Now to be clear, you will never avoid offending everyone. I’m sure even my creatures offend some, but to maximize our effectiveness, we should work hard to minimize offense. My rule of thumb is the gospel will offend, but it’s message is still the truth that sets us free. It’s the hill I’d die on, everything else is negotiable.

That’s why I draw creatures. Why do you do what you do? Investigating that and knowing the answer is important.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles BackdropsFor the longest time, I treated my art and my faith separately, Christian was who I was and art was what I did. When I discovered that Jesus needed to be lord over my entire life, I thought the creature thing was done. After all how could God use someone who creates creatures in His Kingdom? (Yes, I am aware of how obvious that is now. I wasn’t then.) I ended up freelancing for a licensee of the Ninja Turtles, and while the work was a blast, it was taking me down a pretty bad road. My client had me convinced he was going to bring me the kind of fame and fortune turtle creators Eastman and Laird were experiencing and I was hooked. I really fell hard into idolatry to my career and I was ruining my life. Fortunately God intervened and I laid art down for a season. During this time I got my call to ministry, and I figured being a professional artist was behind me. Well that lasted about six months. You see when I laid art down, I told God I would never pick it up again unless I was using it for him. I figured that meant a church project here and there and nothing more. God had other plans and eventually God showed me how I could use art in ministry and that’s when this ministry and my speaking ministry was born. 

But what about the creatures, after all there’s no room for creatures in the Kingdom. Well one day I was preparing to preach at my friend’s church. One of the verses that has resonated with me since the start of my faith journey was 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, He is a new creation, the old has gone and the new has come.” The event I was preaching at was a youth event, and so I decided to preach on being a new creation in Christ and the transformative power of God. Now I knew my friend was a King James guy, and he asked that all preachers at his church preach from the KJV, but I knew the Old English language of the text would make it hard for me to construct the message, so I decided to cheat, just a little. I would write my message from the NIV (my translation of choice at the time) and then, after I was done, I would just cut and paste the King James text into my message. How different could it be?

Well it was different. Where the NIV said “new creation” the KJV said “new creature.” How could I use that? How would people, especially kids respond to being called “creatures?” But then other thoughts came into play, “New Creature, hey wait, I draw creatures, or at least I used to. I wonder could I somehow use creatures to communicate the Gospel?” That was the beginning of my web comic and countless works of art where I do just that.

The moral of this story is simple. God can use virtually anything that we will submit to Him. Your tests become your testimony. Your life story, yes, the good, the bad and even the ugly can show His goodness to a world that desperately needs it, and your gifts and talents, even the unusual ones, can be used to His glory. Look at all you have, and ask God how He would use it. Then step out in faith. Remember 1 Peter 4:10, each one should use whatever gifts he has received to serve others. Any gift submitted to God can be used to glorify Him.

What have you given to God and what are you holding back? Remember when God says whatever gifts, He means it.

One of the things I think we creatives need to examine at times is our own motivations. What makes us do what we do? Well if you look back over my career as a creative, you’ll notice there is one subject matter to which I constantly return, and that s creatures. I love to make creatures. I’ve painted them, drawn them, sculpted them, I’ve put them on clothing, I even made a web comic that features them, but why do I do them? Well let’s examine that?

First, they are probably the first thing I started creating. There’s always just been something very exciting about creating something that only exists in your imagination. Combining elements of various elements. I remember this coloring book that I believe my Aunt Treva bought me when I was a kid. It was the only one I’ve seen like it. Instead of the traditional pictures on every page, this book had a piece of tracing paper between each page. You would trace half of one picture. then flip it over to the other page and trace the other half of the other page. All of the sudden you had a brand new picture of a half elephant half fish creature to color. It was awesome and before long, I left the book and just started doing it myself.

In my teen years, I did a lot of dragons and monsters. It wasn’t surprising, I was starting to get into rock and roll and a lot of the bands did that kind of dragon imagery. I loved the art of people like Roger Dean (Yes) and Kelly Mouse, not to mention the car guys like Ed Roth. My mom got a little concerned about me and my subject matter, but it had nothing to do with the devil or anything like that. Dragons and monsters were limitless. They didn’t really exist so they could be whatever I wanted them to be. There was a tremendous amount of creative freedom in things that did not exist, plus my childhood and teen years were kind of difficult and creating mythical things was kind of a refuge for me in my pre-faith days.

Later, I thought I wanted to be a comic artist. One thing that was always frustrating for me was the way people would read meaning into my art, especially when that wasn’t at all what I meant. The idea of combining words and pictures was really appealing to me, plus I’ve always loved to make art and tell stories and comics seemed to be an ideal vehicle for that. Plus this was in the first era of the Ninja Turtles, a trend that really fit into what I did. I never did get published in that realm, which I now know was divine intervention, but it did lead to some really fun freelance work and that opened the door to other things.

I guess the point is there are a lot of reasons I do what I do and examining them helps me to trace a lot of things. One thing that is prevalent in it all is the finger prints of God all over my career—the way He brought me through things and guided me on my current path. My art career has at times been a broken road, but it led me to this place, a good place, and I can’t wait to see where the road leads next.

How about you? Why do you do what you do?