Last night I gave a little demo and a short message at a Gallery reception at a wonderful church, Living Word in Red Lion, PA. I have two paintings in the exhibition which is about art in ministry. It was a great time. Afterwards I got the opportunity to talk to quite a few people and it brought a lot of things back to me.

I am where I am today first and foremost because of Christ. That cannot be denied. Every gift I have comes from Him, every talent and every opportunity. Beyond that, I have these opportunities because someone cared enough to introduce me to Jesus, but today I want to talk about the other aspect, how I went from someone who was recently sober and terrified to speak in public to a guy who has spoken in over 150 churches. It came down to one thing, encouragement. Someone found my gift and embraced it, and showed me how God could use it. Along the way people began to affirm me and I became more and more confident. The more confident I became, the more bold I became. The more bold I became, the more opportunities came my way.

I have sometimes joked that most of my accomplishments have happened because I was too stupid to know I wasn’t qualified. I say that tongue in cheek because stupidity has nothing to do with it, I saw something I thought I could do, took a shot at it and put myself out there. I did that because I was confident I could do a good job if I was given a shot.

I’ll confess something else confidence has never come easy. It came with encouragement. Throughout my life I can see very clearly those people who believed in me and helped me believe in myself and the God who takes over at my limitations. Encourages are second only to God in my life as the reason behind every great thing that has happened. From my Nana who got me started when I was a little one, through my wife Dawn who introduced me to the Lord and stood beside me all along the way, to the hundreds of friends, pastors and mentors who thought using art in communicating the Gospel was a great idea. All of these people own a part of what God is doing in this ministry. Not surprisingly, all this encouragement has also had the side effect of making me want to be an encourager for others.

Today, there are people all around you that are in dire need of encouragement. It’s as simple to do as speaking a few kind words. You never know the kind of impact those words might have…

But God does… Be an encourager.

havahpic
As a footnote. This photo is one of those moments of two fold encouragement. After my message, five year old Havah asked me to sit down while she drew me. One of the great blessings of what I get to do is the art children give me afterwards. It encourages me tremendously and it gives me the opportunity to encourage them. This little girl’s mom, DeAnn Roe is an artist and an encourager of artists. I have watched Havah grow on Facebook, and I don’t think a week has passed since she could hold a crayon that I haven’t seen a post of her making art. I expect huge things from her, and I have an autographed original of her early work. How cool is that?

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