Archive for October, 2015

With so much focus on Halloween, you may have forgotten this is also Reformation Day, the day when Martin Luther posted his grievances against the church on the Wittenberg door and started a movement in the church, a literal reformation. It changed everything. I saw this graphic and thought it was just really cool, a little funny and completely appropriate. I don’t know who made it up, but it is well done.
This is not rebellion. It’s comparing what the church is doing with the Word of God.

SCARY4THEDEVILWell it’s the day before Halloween and if you’re in the church you might feel like you’re in a tug of war. Some people say the holiday is thoroughly satanic while others think it’s harmless. I find myself firmly in the middle. On one hand, it is the high unholy day of the satanic calendar, on the other hand the satanists stole it from the church. On the other hand, I’m of the belief that if we ran away from everything Satan tried to corrupt there would be very little left because he is the accuser of the brethren, the father of lies and a counterfeiter of all things good.

One of the things I love about Halloween is the amount of creativity some people put into it. It’s the one day a year where creativity seems to be allowed to run amok (see what I did there). People go out of their way to come up with the best, most creative things they can for no other reason than to show off their creativity. So what do we do with Halloween? Well church, I think we get creative.

Look our whole mission in this world is to work with the Spirit of God to take back what the enemy has stolen. Halloween is now the second highest grossing “holiday” to Christmas. It is hugely popular with the people around us, people we are called to reach. Is there a way to redeem the holiday? Is there a way to use this day to the glory of God? I think there is.

Some churches participate in Light the Night. Some, like my church, do Trunk of Treat which is where you take over the parking lot of the church fill it with decorated cars, filled with candy that the neighborhood children can come to, to get a safe treat and meet some of the scariest people in town (to some people) the members of the church.

How can we redeem this day that has been stolen to the glory of God? The time is now to get creative.

A new friend of mine posed the question of why in 13 years of Christian School she had never been taught to connect art and faith. I shared a few thoughts and decided to expand on them here. This is a theory based in fact. I’m not sure I am correct but it sure seems plausible.

There was a time when the church, and more specifically the Catholic Church was perhaps the world’s greatest patron of the arts. This is not totally surprising. They had the money. They were surrounded by largely illiterate populations, they needed a way to communicate the Gospel with the masses. Pictures told the stories and the people came to understand through the images and icons. The artists prospered, the church accomplished it’s mission to some degree and in spite of some pretty stormy relationships between artists and church leaders, things went well.

Of course many would argue that the church was far from doing with it was supposed to be doing. Chief among them were Martin Luther and his compadres. They decided (rightly, I believe) that the church was corrupt and needed to change. They rose up and the reformation was born. Part of the reformation seemed to be a suspicion of all things Catholic, this, unfortunately, expanded into the arts. Images and icons once used to tell the story were now seen as biblically prohibited graven images. In some cases this may not have been far off the mark as works of art were venerated far beyond their intended purpose of telling the story. Long story short, they threw out the bath water and out went the baby. For a long time art seemed to have no place in the church out of fear that we might cross the line to idolatry.

Of course all art was not banned from the church. People surrounded by stained glass, sitting in ornately carved pews, beneath decorative banners, reading from beautifully artistic bulletins, surrounded by fantastically beautiful church buildings, which of course are the work of architects who are nothing more than weird artists who can also do math. They could be surrounded by all of that and still not see the use for art in the church, but I digress. In the church, art was banished to the children’s department (which by the way is a great place to start creative ministry).

I, as well as a lot of other believers think that has got to change sooner or later. The artists in the church are screaming we want our crayons back. The time for the church to get creative is now. As it was in days of old, art is needed to tell the story. No longer is this because of illiteracy (though in some cases we are more biblically illiterate than ever before), but because the world around us is bombarded with so many images and message and the Gospel is only one of them. We need to catch the eyes (and minds and hearts) of the populace. Artists are uniquely gifted by God to fill this role (void?). Our churches need to encourage and empower us to do what God has called us to do in the church as well as in the world. We need to become the primary patron of the arts once again and not just so-called overtly Christian art, but art that will speak to a wider culture with the truth that will set them free.

To steal a phrase from my friend J. Scott McElroy, the world needs a new renaissance. It starts with the church. Time to get creative.

My church is doing trunk or treat and I decided to decorate my trunk with one of my favorite things to create, creatures. I have always loved making creatures because the possibilities are endless. You can literally create anything you want. For the longest time I could not see how this connected with my faith, but then one day I was preparing to preach in a “King James Only” church. My text revolved around 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation…” Well in the King James, “new creation” is translated “New Creature.” There was my answer. I could use the creatures I create to talk about being a new creature in Christ. After a few false starts, I settled on the name CREACHER because it combined Creature and Preacher, and also it had reacher in the name and that was my intent, to use creachers to reach people for the Kingdom. Well I decided to ramp up CREACHER and give out cards to the site along with my candy. The new version includes a meme, a coloring sheet and a color download available free on the site. You can see them for yourself at the CREACHER website along with my pop art and some other cartoons.

thattimeiquitartI am taking a creative arts ministry class over at and they asked a question about a time when I had to lay art down for a while. My thoughts went back to one of the most painful periods of my life that ended up becoming one of the most life giving parts of my life. Today I’d like to share my answer with you. Some of you may have read this story before but it bears repeating.

For a while early in my career, I fell into idolatry to my career. I was a young husband and father trying to earn my living as an artist. I landed a freelance job painting backdrops and creating promotional pieces for a licensee of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. At the time the turtles were making 8 billion dollars a year in licensing alone. My client, who was a little shady at times, convinced me he could do the same for my career. Well as a young guy with a chip on his shoulder and something to prove, I fell for it hook, line and sinker. I almost lost my marriage and my family as a result of my single minded devotion to “making it as an artist.” I always rationalized that once I “made it” it could give my family everything they ever wanted, when all they really wanted was for me to be a husband and father.

Long story short, I was yelling at God one day over my lack of success (or as I called it then “praying”) when I heard God say, “Your work is your God.” I then found myself arguing with God, as if I could win that argument. A week or two later, I ended up at a Promise Keepers event called Stand in the Gap and it felt like speaker after speaker stepped up to the mic to bring me a message of the Lord. I literally cried all day. By the end of the day, God won the argument and I quit art, telling God I would never do art again unless I was doing it for Him. I got my call to ministry that day, and for the next six months I did no art.

In that time a lot of things were restored, that was 1997 and the ministry I have now is the result.

If you find art getting in the way of your Spiritual life, your relationships with God and family, it might be time to lay it aside for a season. It will be hard, but totally worth it. MY fast from art changed theater course of my life. It was totally worth it.

I am taking an art ministry class and one of the assignments inspired a new project and a possible new youth presentation in my heart. I call this clip A Message to My 17 Year Old Self. You might find the ending a little irresponsible, because I left it open ended. The presentation will deal with choices and person responsibility as well as God’s grace and the way He can fix broken lives. That is where my speaking will begin. Hope you like it.
Let me know what you think…

My faith tradition has a very special service called the Love Feast. It’s a communion service with a difference. Modeled after John 13, the service starts with foot washing, followed by a simple mean and finally bread and cup communion. It may sound odd, but it builds unity in the body and it can be quite beautiful. In addition, the service takes quite literally the scriptural call to self examination and relational examination before taking communion.

1 Corinthians 11:27-29 says “So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves. That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep.” Paul is basically saying, “Check yourself before you wreck yourself.” Communion is all about union, in other words unity. It is meant to remind us we all have a part in Jesus death because He died for our sins. In the same way, all who have received Christ, share in His resurrection. Communion puts us all on a level playing field, sinners saved by grace. From this pride should be replaced by unity, love and gratitude. Any less and we’re not doing it right. Look at the condition of the church today. We can do better. We can be more humble, more loving… and on and on and on.

In the past, the deacons in a church would visit every family and ask three questions all designed to build up and strengthen the body. That tradition doesn’t happen much any more, so I decided to do it digitally.

This video is part of a new presentation I will be offering soon on communion and the Love Feast. Contact me for more details.

Tomorrow, Lord willing, I will have lived on this earth for 52 years, yes I am that old, doesn’t seem possible, but I am a grandfather after all. It’s been a great life over all and since Scripture tells the old people to teach the younger people, I thought I would give you the benefit of those years of experience.

1. Love people, use stuff and never get that backwards.
2. When it comes to your career, do what you love and you will love what you do.
3. Careers make lousy gods.
4. Get your priorities straight. God first, family second, everything else comes after that.
5. “All children are artists, the problem is to remain one as one grows up.” Picasso said that.
6. You’re going to fail sometimes. Learn from it and try again.
7. The only true failure is the one that makes you quit.
8. Loving your neighbor can be really hard, but it sure beats hating your neighbor.
9. The church is like an airport, everyone comes through the door dragging their baggage.
10. People you can trust are worth their weight in gold.
11. Pray first.
12. Life is made up of moments. Make the moments count.
13. Don’t worry… period!
14. Temptations are called temptations because they’re tempting. Avoid them.
15. The story of your life is the story of the long and brutal assault on your heart by the one who knows what you could be and fears it. (John Eldridge said that)
16. Your life is a story, live a good one.
17. Live to make the world a better place. If you fail, at least people will know you tried.
18. Helping others is a great ointment for depression.
19. I used to think the one who dies with the most toys wins. I now know how incredibly stupid that was. The one who dies knowing Jesus wins.
20. The moments that test our faith also show us how much we need our faith.
21. The worst day of your life is just that, your worst day. From there it gets better.
22. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. (Albert Einstein)
23. People don’t last forever in this world. Make the most of your time with them.
24. Anything Jesus said should be taken seriously.
25. Doing the stuff God wants us to do, is often hard and entirely worth it.
26. When you’re a creative, failure is not an option, it’s a necessity. Fail forward.
27. You’re spouse is a gift from God. Value him/her and be blessed.
28. Ministry is easy except for the people.
29. A lot of Christians think they don’t need to go to church. Those people are wrong.
30. You don’t have to travel thousands of miles to be a missionary. The mission field is all around you.
31. What you feed grows, what you starve dies. Feed what’s most important. Let the negative stuff die.
32. The sermon in church is not for other people. How does it apply to you?
33. Don’t carve your name in stone, leave it there on someone’s heart. (An old Wild Dove song)
34. A dream is just reality waiting for it’s time.
35. Dreams usually become reality as the result of hard work.
36. Scripture never says God won’t put on you more than you can handle. If that were true no one would ever die. It says He won’t let you be tempted beyond what you can bear and when you are tempted, He will give you a way out.
37. Look for the way out of temptation and take it.
38. Temptation is not a test to see how strong you are to resist it. Flee from it. You ain’t that tough.
39. The Bible tells us to speak the truth in love. This is urgent and essential especially in the church. We act as if the biggest threats to the church are external. The biggest threats to the church are internal. They come from people who speak love without truth and truth without love.
40. Danger and anger are almost the same word.
41. Looking at your problems through the bottom of a bottle is a lot like looking at them through a magnifying glass.
42. There’s a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death. Trust God’s wisdom over yours.
43. There is a God and I’m not Him. Thank God!
44. A problem will never be solved using the same level of thinking it took to create it. (Einstein)
45. Making art can be really therapeutic.
46. If you are married, having a date night is not optional. It is necessary. Never put your children before your marriage. Mess up the marriage, mess up the children.
47. Before you stress out, ask yourself, “Will this matter in 20 years?” If it won’t, don’t stress about it. If it will, be proactive, do something and don’t stress about it. (My aunt Treva said that.)
48. God claims vengeance for Himself alone. This is because no one else can handle it. When you’re angry enough to want revenge, give it to God instead.
49. Forgiveness is more for you than for the person you’re forgiving. Forgiveness allows you to heal, put it behind you and not relive it over and over again.
50. Your talents are God’s investment in you. Invest them in His Kingdom.
51. Seek first the Kingdom of God and all these things will be added unto you as well. (Jesus said that and, as usual, He was right.)
52. God is always good, trust him.

A friend posted this piece of art on Facebook and I knew I needed to share it. Read the gray side of the piece first. How many times have you heard it? People, sometimes loving caring people have said similar things to us, not to be hateful but because they were concerned for our well-being. Have a fall back plan. Something to fall back on when your pipe dream fails. Even as an artist, I have found myself saying similar things to people I love because I could not see a way. Yet I have found a way. Don’t hate the people who try to talk you down from your dream. Most of the time they really love you and want to protect you.

At the same time, read the whole piece now and let it speak to your heart.

About the art: Installation piece made from vinyl, exploration of utilizing a space and having the artwork rely and interact with it
Location: Pillar in the stairwell of the UT Austin Art Building and was up for two weeks
While walking out of the building, you are presented with both sides of the pillar.

This artwork was created for a Digital Foundations course at an educational institution which prompted students to investigate site-specific artwork in a public setting. The format was inspired by Publicis London’s Corners campaign for Depaul UK. In this location, the artwork was meant to interact with the art students of UT Ausitn.

purposeinthepainToday I am a very happy person, but it wasn’t always that way. I can be the typical melancholy artist if I’m not careful and there was a time where it was much worse. In my late teens and early 20s I was so depressed that I often became suicidal (a pretty bad drinking problem didn’t help this) as a matter of fact it was in the midst of an attempt that I cried out to God and He began the work of turning me around. Why do I tell you this? Well first of all because I can. I’m still here. I think of all the things that happened since that day. Every single day since that day has been a bonus. My wedding, my sons, the birth of my grandson, my call to ministry, hundreds of opportunities to preach and paint and a million significant moments. All of those would have been missed if I had gone through with it and all of them are a blessing because I didn’t.

Secondly, I just have to say it. If you’re in a dark place today, you need to know something. It gets better. The worst day of your life is just that, the worst day. From there, it gets better. If you’re in a tough time, you need to know, it will turn around. You will make it through this and there will be a time when you will be on the other side. You’ll be a little stronger, a little more experienced and a little more able to help someone else through their darkest day. By the way, that is the quickest way through depression, to take your focus off yourself and apply your energy to helping someone else. I am not saying there is not a clinical element to depression and you may need professional help, but one of the real dangers in depression is you can internalize everything and become withdrawn looking at everything only has to how it effects you. No wonder we get depressed, we feel like the world is against us. Helping someone else actually gives us something to focus on beyond our own situation. Finding this, radically changed me.

For people of faith, it’s even better, because we have a hope beyond this life and help in this life in the form of a God who cares for us, loves us deeply and is always good, sometimes in spite of our circumstances. On a dark day we can look at God and His goodness and realize there is a purpose to what we’re going through. We believers can claim the promise that “in ALL things God works for the good of the who love Him and have been called according to His purpose.” In everything, God can and will work for our good. Trust Him.

The third thing that inspired me to share this was over the weekend, I was asked to speak and paint at a suicide prevention event. I am so excited to do this, because I am a living testimony to God’s goodness. Beyond that, every time I get to help someone who is in a dark place, every time I get the call to speak to someone who is where I was, I think back to that dark day, I realize once again how good God is. It doesn’t lessen what I went through, but it helps me to find…

The purpose in the pain.

Think about it, the very fact that I went through that hard, dark time, qualifies me to speak of the God who brought me through. I am seeing the verse lived out in my life. He is at work in your life too. There is a purpose in your pain. Push through with God and one day you just might see it all come to pass, and when you do, it’s awesome!

God is good. Trust Him. This will work for good.