Archive for December, 2010

Seasons of Love, the hit song from the musical Rent asks the question “525,600 minutes, how do you measure a year…” Time is the great equalizer, we have different skills, abilities and resources but we all have the exact same amount of hours in a day and minutes in a year… 525,600 and as the minutes of 2010 draw to a close. How did you use yours? Here’s how I used mine, pertaining to art and ministry.

In his blog yesterday, Seth Godin challenged his subscribers to list what they “shipped” in 2010 (for more on this see the “Real Artists Ship” post on this blog or better yet buy and read his book Linchpin, which will be linked to the bottom of this post.)

Here is my list. These are just the things that shipped in other words were released to the public in one form or another.

• Launched the AMOKArts Tribe Blog in March and posted 135 posts
• Created 54 Evan Gelist comic strips with Bryan Taunton and released them to him for syndication
• Redesigned the AMOKArts site
• Created and posted for sale 26 product designs for
• Wrote and delivered 45-50 sermons for New Creation Church and did a worship painting for nearly every one.
• Preached a five message revival series at Koontz and Waterside Churches of the Brethren with at least one worship painting in each session.
• Created a 25 foot stage set for the Church of the Brethren ANE District Conference (I also spoke, did a worship painting, two videos and a workshop for the conference)
Did five worship paintings and corresponding videos for COB Church Planting workshop.
• Reworked and delivered my HistoryMakerz retreat featuring four newly created Power Point games.
• Posted 40 art videos as well as many speaking videos
• Created set pieces, window signs, posters and other art for Urinetown, On the Town, The Wiz and Jungle Book Kids at Alpha Omega Players.

It’s been a pretty busy year, it’s value will be seen in the fruit it bears going forward. As I approach the end of 2010, my prayer is that all this work has been a blessing to those who have seen it. I don’t post this as a way of saying, “Hey look at me and all I’ve done.” Rather I post it as a way of saying you can get a lot done if you faithfully use what has been given you, ideas, resources, abilities and those 525,600 minutes.

Looking back, I do have some questions, did I obsess too much about creating and did my priorities get out of whack? Could any of the time been better spent? Did I let anyone down in the pursuit of all this stuff and at the end of it all did I create the things God wanted me to create. Stuff that will last because it touched hearts and minds? Most importantly was I the kind of husband and father I needed to be and did I represent my heavenly Father well? That I am even asking these questions shows two things: Balance continues to be an issue for me and I know it and am trying to adjust and be faithful. I want none of the glory for the things accomplished, God deserves it all and I thank Him for all that He has allowed me to do and pray He does something amazing through it.

I really value all the people I have come to meet this year. I hope you will stick with me on this journey. I feel like great stuff is coming. You are a great tribe.

Seth Godin's great book Linchpin

Seth Godin's great book Linchpin

I went to an art museum yesterday and saw the work of the greatest Artist ever. The work was phenomenal, the color, the movement, the style… It really came alive.

Actually it was alive, it wasn’t the most traditional of arts museum’s it was the National Aquarium in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor and the artist, well the artist was God. I saw things that were unbelievable. A turtle with a neck like a snake and a turtle that weighed over 250 pounds. Bottle nosed dolphins, mammals like you and me that can swim at insane rates of speed and go 20 minutes without taking a breath. I saw a fish that has an electic charge within it’s body strong enough to immobilize and alligator, and a tiny bright yellow frog that would be totally defenseless in it’s amazon home were it not for the fact that it is one of the most deadly poisonous animals on earth. I saw fish of every color and description from tiny to huge. I saw incredible adaptations to all environments and even a fish that can walk out of the water and breathe on land and while I will never be ready to call him a distant ancestor of mine, I will say he was pretty impressive.

As we create out art, let’s not take ourselves too seriously but let us take our creator incredibly seriously. At our best we can make a canvas “come alive.” His work is alive. Our work at it’s best captures it’s surroundings, His work adapts to it’s surroundings. What we do is important, and it is a gift from God. Develop your gift and use it well.

The other side of the coin is equally important. While I have seen and met some artists with huge egos, I have met more who don’t think nearly enough of themselves and so I share this thought. I walked around that place mesmerized by the amazing beauty of God’s creation and in the process I nearly overlooked the most amazing creation there. You see everything behind the glass can and has adapted to it’s surroundings, but the creations on my side of the glass have been given the ability to change their surroundings and create new realities. You are the crowning achievement of God’s creation. Live like you believe it. You are loved and you are His masterpiece.

Two verses will finish this out, a warning and a promise. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. Romans 1:20

For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10
Here are a few of God’s amazing works…

“Are you there too, Sir?”

“I am,” said Aslan. “But there I have another name. You must learn to know me by that name. This was the very reason why you were brought to Narnia, that by knowing me here for a little, you may know me better there.”

I just returned from seeing “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader” and it is brilliant. The line above is from the book and rendered pretty faithfully in the movie and I feel it is the point of the whole series. See people can say what they like about the books, to me, Aslan is Jesus. The lion of the tribe of Judah, filled with power and love sacrificing Himself for the good of His people.

But then again when you think of it, nearly every great story is the story of a hero who sacrifices himself in some way for the good of others. Great stories point to a hero and most of the heroes are modeled in some way whether they know it or not, after Jesus.

What mesmerized me about the film was how “unpreachy” it was. So often Christian theater and film and books feel contrived as they push us to salvation. This story slides there so effortlessly that it tears down all defenses on the way to touching your heart.

That’s the kind of stories I really want to tell. Yes I love sharing the Gospel, yes I love to preach and teach and I plan to continue doing both as the Lord gives me strength, but there is something more. I want to create modern day parables that disarm even the hardest hearts with an undeniable truth. It’s a dream, it’s a vision and it’s too big for me alone, who wants to help? That’s the power of a story and stories empowered by God are the greatest of all.

Let’s join forces and tell them.

This year, as we approached our Christmas eve service at New Creation, some folks asked if we could do communion as part of the service. We hadn’t done that before but I thought it sounded like a great idea after all when Jesus broke the bread the first communion on the last supper, Jesus said, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” Why do we celebrate Christmas if not to remember the birth of our great Lord and Savior, the greatest gift ever? As I prayed looking for the connection and the message, I was reminded of a time when Jesus said “I am the bread of life.” That’s what this painting is all about.

Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. 36 But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. 37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. 38 For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. 40 For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”
He came to be the savior. He came to be the bread of life and He came to do the will of the Father and anyone who comes to Him will never be lost but Jesus will raise them up on the last day. This message is just all connecting itself. Check it out. We celebrate a baby born in Bethlehem, a baby who would grow up to call himself the bread of life. Do you know what Bethlehem means? It’s a Hebrew Word. Beth means house and Lehem means bread. Bethlehem, the place where the bread of life was born was named House of Bread centuries before His birth. Coincidence? I think not. He came to be the bread of life. When He broke the bread on that first communion He said, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” He called Himself the bread of life and then He breaks the bread for us to partake in His sacrifice and, don’t miss this, His victory. He said everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”
And when Paul told us how to properly take communion, He said, whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. Commemorating our part in Jesus‘ death is no fun at all and doesn’t seem like a great reason to celebrate, it’s admitting my sin killed my savior. but those last three words change everything. Until He comes. Yes He suffered and died, but three days later, He rose again and He not only rose again, but He’s coming again, there is our reason to celebrate. Last time He came as a baby, the lamb of God to suffer and die. This time He’s coming as the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the conquering hero. All is not lost, this is why we celebrate. Jesus came and He’s coming again.

A display box you can download for your Mosquitoes Are Death Cards

Click the photo to download a display box you can make for your Mosquitoes Are Death Cards

Hopefully by now more and more of you are working on cards for the Mosquitoes are Death project. If you haven’t started yet go to to find out more. This is an ongoing project until 2015.

One of our participating artists, Joy Kiefer from the Foundry Church near Philadelphia suggested I make a little display box for placing multiple cards at a single location. I have now completed that. Click the photo above to download the box.

Jesus was all of two years old when he faced the first threat to his life. Join us as we explore the night the Magi came to call and the plot Herod set in motion to kill the newborn King. (from Matthew 2) Listen to the message to learn more.

Below is the painting that went along with the message it was painted duringthe service at New Creation Church in Muhlenberg, PA

A gift for my son Chris

A gift for my son Chris

The founding verse for AMOKArts is 1 Peter 4:10 and as we emerge from the Christmas season, I thought it bears repeating. “Each one should use whatever gifts he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.” This verse transformed my life and started me on the path which you have joined as you read these postings.

The painting above is one I did for my son Chris. Chris is really into musical theater and he is quite good at it. It’s his gift. The painting shows the logos of all the shows he’s done so far. I gave him this gift to commemorate his accomplishments and to let him know I am proud of him. I can’t really do what he does, but I can do what I can do to bless him. That’s a culture of giving.

I’m re-reading the book Linchpin by Seth Godin right now and I love it. He’s putting into words a lot of things that I have long felt in my heart. Art in all it’s various forms is a gift. Now we may create it for the intention of selling it, but even so deep inside we hope that it will be seen by many others for free, that many will see it and receive joy or hear it’s message or receive a blessing or…well you get the idea.

In the book, Godin gives a short quote that really made me think. I share it with you here along with a question.

“Three ways people think about gifts:
1. Give me a gift!
2. Here’s a gift; now you owe me big[time
3. Here’s a gift, I love you
The first two are capitalist misunderstandings of what it means to give or receive a gift. The third is the only valid alternative on the list.”

Remember we are instructed to to everything we do as if we were doing it for the Lord. This includes our art. Since God is the creators and giver and owner of everything, the only gift we can give Him is a number three gift. An offering of love. Our other gifts must also be number three gifts, doing what we do out of love and trusting God with the benefit to us. Yes we must work and earn a living but art is about living generously trusting that God will take care of us.

As we approach a new year, how will you approach what God has given? How will you give your gift?

Seth Godin's Linchpin

Seth Godin's Linchpin

Just a simple greeting with the “characters” from the greatest story ever told. To all who see this especially to those who make AMOKArts what it is, Merry Christmas and let’s run AMOK in 2011. Share the greeting with anyone you want to greet especially those who might be interested in creating art with a purpose.

Full Disclosure. This video is not an original idea, I saw it on YouTube and decided to make my own version of it, because frankly I loved it and I wanted to see if I could recreate it using my somewhat limited technological skills. This video is the result.

I think the reason I loved this video is because it takes the conventional wisdom and turns it upside-down. What makes it even better is the turn around point is when the narrator puts his trust in Christ. That’s what Jesus did for me. He turned my thinking around. He made me see clearly that, by and large, the conventional wisdom is often wrong.

As we celebrate Jesus’ birth, let us never forget that His life is the turning point of history and, if we commit to following His teachings and His example, He will turn us around. Then we will be able to truly see that it’s the world that is upside-down and Jesus is right side up.

Romans 12:2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Merry Christmas

A friend sent me this video that clearly explains something I have been trying to understand for years. It’s called the Fibonacci Sequence. It’s a series of numbers in perfect sequence that seem to appear in numerous places on nature, from small particles to entire galaxies. The video calls it the fingerprint of God. You can make your own interpretations of this information, but it is fascinating so check it out.

I could see numerous ways knowing this information could help you as you create art but could it also help you see the hand of your creator?
In the coming year, one of my goals is to create an arts ministry resource combining Bible teaching and creating art. One of the projects is going to be called Details. The idea being that as we look at the tiny details of the things our Lord has created we see evidence of our creator. The verse on which this project is based is Romans 1:20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. Try it. Find something from nature and create an image that requires you to really look at the details. Fibonacci’s sequence is fascinating and really seems to work but this much I know for sure. There is a God and we see Him when we look at what He has created. His Word says you and I are created in His image. You’re a masterpiece.