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!

Victor Wooten is one of the best bass guitar players in the world. In this TEDEd video, he shares some principles that apply to music, but I believe they can be applied to any art form. I first saw this and wanted to share it a long time ago. At the time I was involved with an organization that I thought might take issue with some of the things Wooten has to say. For the record I think he is right on the money. I love the way he parallels learning to speak with the way we should learn to create. From “mistaking” your way to proficiency to creating with people of all levels of ability, there are so many huge lessons in this video. You simply must take five minutes and check it out for yourself. Then go out and create and while you’re at it, help someone else to create as well.

Thanks to Jessie Nilo at Art Fruition for bringing this clip back to the front of my mind.,

A little off topic today but this post deals with something that we will all face as we try to express our faith to a world that is often hostile to it. There are times, especially in the world of social media, when we will see something with which we will take issue. Sometimes those things really are an issue and we must take a stand, but then there are those other times…

You see something that you find upsetting, but rather than calming down and using your logic, you unleash the part of your brain that is best kept in check. The result is often catastrophic and it doesn’t need to be. There are a few questions you can ask yourself.

1. Do I have a relationship with this person? (a real one, not just Facebook acquaintances?) Here’s the thing, a person you don’t know, may not care at all what you think about an issue. They’re not invested in you, so there’s a better than even chance, they don’t care about your opinion. Weighing in on their conversation is probably going to do little more than instigate a flame war.
2. Is what the person says in line with their character?
Often, especially in a world of written communication, it’s hard to read a person’s intent. Without the benefit of hearing inflections and seeing body language, we have to assume how they mean what they say. How many times have you heard, “It’s not what you said, it’s the way you said it?” It’s really easy to read into a post more than is actually there.
3. Would I be better served posting something positive rather than entering into this discussion?
The best way to overcome negativity is rarely ever to enter into more negativity, but what if we went to positivity instead?
4. Am I speaking the truth in love?
It’s all about building up and growing into the likeness of Christ. That annoying person with their off the wall point of view is someone Jesus died to save. Will your comment bring them closer to that or further away. It is really tempting to verbally “pound” on people when they come against us, especially in matters of faith. It’s also really easy to see a lot of threats to the church and feel persecuted. The truth though is the biggest threat to the church is not external, it’s internal and it comes when people speak love without truth or truth without love. Love without truth is ignoring the Word of God to say whatever will make us more popular. The problem with this is God has not changed His mind. On the other hand, truth without love drives people from the truth that sets men free.
5. Will God be REALLY glorified by me entering into this discussion?
If the conversation will devolve into meanness and stupidity, the answer to this question is no.
6. Have I prayed for this person?
Your wit and wisdom will not be able to change this person and people are almost never fought into the faith. If you don’t believe me look at the crusades. Jesus changes people, so prayer is the first option.
7. Am I just adding to the noise?

Maybe this isn’t as off topic as I thought. We are all about communication here and that is the very heart of this issue. How will we put forth a message of love and hope that will shine in the midst of the billions of messages we see every day? All these questions are a good way to start. Scripture reminds us Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will. (2 Timothy 2:23-26)

This issue is bigger than we think and the opportunities and consequences are as well.

This week the class I am taking over at gave an assignment to brainstorm a collaborative project. It took me all of about 30 seconds to figure out what that project would be. It’s something I have dreamed of for a very long time.

For over a decade, I have been a writer for a youth ministry resource called Interlinc. We write Bible study lessons for youth groups based on Christian rock songs and music videos. I have long dreamed of creating a similar resource for youth ministries using art projects as lead in’s or responses to the Biblical text. I am passionate about this because I feel like one of the answers for really launching visual arts ministries (especially in many of the places I end up where they arts are still a “novelty”) is igniting a passion for using their gifts to serve the Lord in the next generation.

The only reason I have not already done this is because I have been hesitant, wondering if I would be able to come up with enough material to make a consistent resource. My idea is that this would be subscription based with new ideas arriving each month. I could see both people who consider themselves creatives and those who don’t using this, because youth leaders are always looking for new ideas to engage their students.

To really pull this off, I would need a tech guru to help me make a working delivery system, a marketing person to help me let the world know about it and a couple passionate writers to help create the content.

I dream of a ministry like Awana in the sense that ministries all over the world would be following this curriculum on a weekly basis. Little AMOK groups for youth popping up all over the place where young people can engage their creativity and learn how to put it to work for the Kingdom.

I am passionate about this, because I know for a fact if there has been a church in my community where I could have made art, the trajectory of my life would have been much better. While I ended up in a good place I spent most of my teen years distraught and depressed and many others do as well. My story could have ended very differently and if anything it’s getting worse for this generation. This is an idea whose time has come.

Anyone want to help bring this dream to reality? Contact me.

story posterThere is a trend in the Christian world these days that both excites and troubles me. Bible Art Journaling. I love that people are digging into the Word and letting the Word inspire their creativity. It’s a wonderful thing. What’s slightly (and it is only slightly) troubling is that they are doing this work in their Bibles. I see tons of beautiful work online but much of it seems to obscure the text as the work flows past the margins. In Scripture, needless to say the text is hugely important.

I think I may have come up with a workable solution. Themed Bible Journals where the Scripture is present along with plenty of room for creating. In this way the art and the Scripture that inspired it are side by side. What a great way to do devotions. I have two coming out in the next few weeks, these will be based on two of my favorite presentations: Story: Parables of Jesus and Pictures of Jesus. Watch this site for more details.

springfieldToday was my first official day as interim pastor of Springfield Church of the Brethren. I have to tell you it was a great day. I preached on Priority One, Keeping God First. I used my testimony of falling into idolatry to my art career as the example. God is good and He really blessed our time together. Then afterwards we spent the afternoon feeding people at an inner city Allentown ministry called Ripple. It was great to see members of my new congregation working together to serve others. This is a great group of people and I look forward to seeing how God works in and through us during our time together.

I just returned from a tour of Western MD and West Virginia. I spoke at Pine Grove Church of the Brethren in Oakland, MD. Then I did a five session revival series at Sunny Side Church of the Brethren (false advertising, it rained every day, but at least the people were warm hearted) and finally I did Pictures of Jesus at Hazelton Church of the Brethren in Bruceton Mills, WV. All of these stops were really pretty wonderful and many people enjoyed the combination of art and ministry. One of the thrilling things for me to hear is people saying they had never seen anything like it before. I love to see God opening new doors and expanding people’s ideas of ways they can use their gifts to spread the Gospel. Ultimately that’s what it’s about. Not so much that we help people to become artists, but rather that they look at what I do, look at what they do and wonder if there was a way to use what they do to serve the Lord. I love to see God planting seeds.

Thanks to all the people involved with getting me out there and to the amazing worship band Grains of Sand from Danville Church of the Brethren for adding their wonderful music to the series. God is good.

Now go out and use your gifts to be a blessing.

RUNNERbToday was the District Conference where they showed the animated videos I made for our church board reports. They seemed to be well received and I had a good time watching them. That’s a little rare for me. I usually end up being an armchair quarterback over my own work, which can be quite an unpleasant experience. Today I decided to be different. I decided to view the time as a culmination of a lot of work. I decided to enjoy it and realize the editing time was done. The time to tweak it has long since passed. I decided to see it as finished and feel the joy of a job well done.

I can always find a problem with anything I create, and I bet you might be the same. This is really nothing more than self-defeating perfectionism. Better to finish a piece, ship it, enjoy being done and then move on to what’s next. It’s strange, viewing it this way, I felt alive and ready to take on what is next.