Archive for March, 2016

People often ask me how I can painting a painting in six minutes. The short answer is, I can’t. Oh, I stand before a congregation and do that very thing night after night, but the truth of the matter is the reason I can do it is because I’ve done hours of work in advance.

There’s no substitute for experience
The first reason I can do it is because I have been making art for nearly half a century. You might say, “You’re only 52.” Of course, I would then say, “I didn’t say professionally, but all the work that I’ve done has led to what I do now, even the bad, amateur stuff.” I’m not saying you need fifty years of experience, just that you need to make a lot of art, even if it’s bad art, to build your skills.

I rarely paint a painting live for the first time
There have been times over the years where I have painted a painting for the first time before a live audience (never in six minutes though). Sometimes I was even pretty successful, but for the most part I have sketched and then worked a painting out several to many times in my studio before an audience ever sees it. For example, these two paintings are pieces I worked out this week. They are rough sketches for two presentations I am working on.
They’re not exactly right yet, but they’re a start, I’m working out composition, getting the facial expressions right, etc. These were not six minute paintings. I spent close to an hour on each, because at this point, I’m trying to get the image right. They’re not beautiful, their painted on old canvasses, I’m just working it out. From there I…

Break it down
One of the first things we learn as artists is breaking things down into their basic shapes. This is crucial for live painting. I don’t do an advance sketch on a live painting, i.e. there are no sketch lines on the “canvas” before I begin (with the exception of a few guidelines on a piece that I do where two pieces come together at the end of the night). All the “drawing” is done with the paint, so the basic shapes are crucial.

The performance is important
When it comes to ministry, people cringe at the word performance, so I better explain myself. People like to watch me paint, but the main reason I paint is to draw people into the message. (Your reason for live painting may vary, but this is mine.) For this reason, I work to make my painting process intriguing. I want the people to be guessing for as long as possible. I’m working on a painting on grace right now, for example, and I am trying to formulate a way to write the word “grace” on the board and use it as the basis for the painting. When I paint a face I line up the eyes and nose by painting a cross on the board. I always want to keep the people guessing as long as possible. I also try to paint something very meaningful but not always totally obvious. I want people wondering why I painted what I painted so they are engaged when I tell the story.

Leave perfection and detail behind
The first step in a six minute painting is “done.” Translation, the first thing you need to do is have a recognizable finished image at the end of your allotted time. Once you have that you can perfect and detail the piece in the time remaining, but the first thing you need to be is done. It’s best to keep it simple and try to be as effective as possible. Remember, this is not the best painting you can do, it’s the best painting you can do in the time allotted.

These steps will help you have a pretty successful speed painting. Don’t do it the first time before an audience. Practice, practice, practice!

Okay, I’ll admit it, I’m Time Traveling a little today, but it’s been a busy couple of days and I didn’t write for two days. The page is actually being written on April 1 and pushed back in time to March 30 for the purposes of consistency. Because today that’s what I want to talk about, consistency.

It may seem pointless to write a post for a day I missed, and that may even be true, but here’s what I know for sure, my hits are usually at least 30-50 a day. Yes I know I’m no threat to the NY Times, but I have a nice group of faithful readers in a very niche “market” creative arts ministry. On days when I didn’t post, those hits dropped to less than 10. This shows the importance of consistency. I believe in my cause, my ministry, and I want to see it expand. This has very little with growing my platform and very much to do with my belief that the church needs to be more creative and my call to encourage creatives within the church. Consistent posting is important. So is consistency in general.

Think about it, inconsistency is like breaking a promise. People come to depend on you for something and all of the sudden you’re not delivering. Before long they no longer see you as dependable. As creatives, we need to be really consistent or we lose our credibility. Of course the way best way to stay consistent is to be creative. For example, the reason I didn’t post on creative ministry is largely because I was really busy DOING creative ministry. I have a friends and family Sunday at my church this week and I am pulling out all the stops. What I should have done was taken a few minutes out and shared what I was working on. Those could have been valuable or at least interesting, especially since what I was doing is pretty directly related to the main reason this blog exists. A little creativity would have bridged the gap in this blog with some genuinely useful information. I’m going to go and fill those in now.

Here’s the thing. You don’t have to post every day. There are days where that feels like I bit off more than I can chew. What you do need to do is set a schedule and deliver when you say you’re going to deliver. It’s called consistency and it’s important.

To my faithful readers, I am sorry for my inconsistency and I am now going to try to get back on track.

How can you consistently deliver what it is that you do?

Hugh MacLeod is an amazing artist/thinker/writer. He leaped to fame by drawing on the back of his business cards and turning that into a business. He is the author of some truly amazing books like:

and he has an amazing blog at This is a recent post that bears repeating, and while his writing applies mainly to the business world, it could definitely apply to the church as well.

Advice to employers: If you want to attract Millennials, don’t offer them a job, offer them a cause.

Millennials aren’t worried about starving to death; they’re not worried about being killed in wars or dying of the plague. This isn’t the Fourteenth Century.

No, millennials are worried about ending up with a meaningless life, an existence without purpose.

Millennials are in search for a compelling narrative, one that takes their gaze away from the abyss.

Sure, you can offer them a good salary, excellent opportunities for promotion, terrific benefits and all that.

But that’s not what they’re REALLY looking for, even if they tell you otherwise.

The cause. It’s all about the cause.

So now you know.

The cause of Christ is a great cause, and in that single cause are a multitude of things, life changing things, world-changing things, you and your church can focus on. Find that focus, and work toward it, then invite as many people as possible into your journey. As church leaders (and if you’re reading this, you probably are one), this might be the best thing we can focus on if we want to bring the next generation into the church.

What’s your cause?

I started to work on this line of thought the other day. So many people have a crippling fear of making art. The inner critic rages, “You can’t do it.” Here’s what you do. Make the art you would make if you thought no one would see it. Then share it with the world and realize it was really created to bless someone.


I wonder how many masterpieces will never be created because of the fear of what others might think. I wonder how many masterpiece lives will never be lived because of fear of what others may think. The truth is we’re not responsible for what others think about our work, so much as we are to give our best to the work and to the Lord and trust that He will use it as He sees fit. You’re not working to make everyone like you. You’re working to be a blessing to the one God has designed and gifted you to reach. That you can do, because it is empowered by God. Faithfulness is up to you, everything else is up to God.

Van Gogh once said, “If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.” Fear No Art!

I had an awesome day Easter Sunday, preaching two services, and proclaiming the risen Savior, before celebrating with family, always a great day. This mean I didn’t actually post this til Monday morning. Sometimes priority dictate getting off the computer. Anyway, I still wanted to share something for that day so I give you what may be the best Easter song ever, Arise My Love by NewSong. If you have not heard this song yet, you owe it to yourself to listen. If you have heard it, listen again and take encouragement. This is telling a better story (okay the greatest story) in music.

Well tomorrow is Easter, or Resurrection Sunday if you prefer. Skimming through social media, I have been seeing a lot of memes referring to Ishtar. Now most of us English speaking people say that name phonetically, ISH-tar, but according to the memes the proper pronunciation of the word is “easter.” I’m not sure that’s true, but it’s on the Internet so it must be, right? These detractors are referencing a pagan fertility goddess usually expressed as a nude woman, often with a multitude of breasts. They are saying that Easter has it’s roots in paganism. That when Constantine “christianized” the world, he appropriated all matter of pagan things into the church. They say similar things about Christmas, and I think they’re missing the entire point of the day in the process.

What is Easter really about? Isn’t it redemption? Jesus came and died on the cross and rose again to pay a price we could not pay. He paid the price for us, which is quite literally redemption. Jesus is all about redeeming things, about redeeming people. He is the savior. Scripture tells us that creation waits for all the people who will come to Christ to come, because when that happens, He will also redeem all of creation to the way God intended it to be (According to Romans 8:19), no longer in bondage to the power of sin. I’ll say it again, Jesus is all about redeeming things. I know He redeemed me. I am not what I once was. I am redeemed, a new creation.

Is the name Easter derived from the name of a pagan goddess, I don’t know, perhaps, but Christ redeemed that name and now it refers to a holiday on which we celebrate resurrection. Opponents will also point to the use of eggs and chicks and rabbits as evidences of the fertility rituals associated with this pagan idol. Perhaps this is correct too, but again hasn’t that also been redeemed. Associated with the resurrection, these things symbolize what they represented before the fall, new life, the very thing Jesus came to give us. Again these symbols have been redeemed.

What about the bunny? Surely that has to be about fertility, right? For the record, I am not saying that some of these things cannot get out of hand. I am fully aware that, to a lot of people, the bunny is more important than the cross, but friends, changing that is up to the redeemed. Our calling is the ministry of reconciliation, calling people to be reconciled to God in Christ and when we take that calling seriously, a strange thing will happen, a multitude of new believers will be “born” or rather born again. The church will begin to reproduce quite rapidly, perhaps even like rabbits. I am being a bit tongue in cheek here, but the fact remains, the church is a living organism and healthy organisms reproduce. Were we more about our calling to the Great Commission and less about researching the past of things Christ redeemed, perhaps we would be more effective. Redemption changed the story.

Call it Easter, or Resurrection Sunday, but whatever you call it, celebrate the Redeemer and point others to Him. That is our purpose.

There are times when the world of sports and the world of the arts seem to have very little in common. This is not one of those times. Inky Johnson is a motivational speaker and former stand out college football player. His story holds a message for us all. There comes a time in each of our lives when we have to ask the question, “How bad do I want it?” Inky says it’s about the process more than it is about the product. I think he’s really really right.

This clip is well worth your time, take the eight minutes and check it out.
You can see more about Inky at

In my presentation, Forgiven, part of the presentation is done on a most unusual cross. I keep the cross covered until it is ready to be presented. Still everyone can tell by it’s shape what it is. It’s not a plain wooden cross, nor is it a shiny golden cross. No, I call it The Cross of Sin. It’s a cross covered with stories of sin clipped from the headlines. Where I try to make most of my work beautiful, this piece is hideous. When I finish a presentation, I just add stories until it is covered again. I intend to continue using this cross until it is no longer usable. It’s got many layers of stories on it by now and it’s two sided so I can use it twice before having to recover it.

crossofsinSome might be offended by this. How could I place images of sin on an image so closely related to Jesus. Well the short answer is, I didn’t, Jesus did! Oh of course I did the actual cutting and gluing, but it was Jesus that took all the sin of the world to the cross. Every one of those people committing every one of those sins and atrocities, was someone Jesus died to save. He who knew no sin became sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. In the presentation, I tell the story of the cross, while doing to my cross all the things that were done to Jesus. By the time I am done, it is a “bloody” nail pierced mess. It is a graphic depiction of what was done to our Lord as He paid the price for you and me. A price we could not pay.

I finish the presentation with Jesus final words on the cross, “It is finished.” It might shock you to know, Jesus did not speak English. He spoke a language called Aramaic and so the word we translate to “It is finished.” is the word “Tetellestai.” It does mean “It is finished.” but it has a secondary meaning. It was a word often used in the ancient market place when a transaction had been completed. The secondary meaning of Tetellestai is “Paid in Full.” That is precisely what Jesus did on the cross and when we place our faith in Him, our debt of sin is paid in full.

What a wondrous thing it is. So many people walk through this word believing that they have little or no value. It’s part of the reason our news is full of stories of sin and desperation. If only we understood the cross and the high price Jesus paid for us there. You and I were worth so much to God that He gave His only Son to set us free. That is an extremely high value and as such we should know we are highly valuable to God, the One who matters most. You are valuable, blessed and highly favored.

Believe it!

Okay, I always get a little nervous when “Hollywood” tries to tell the story of Jesus, especially of the Crucifixion, but I watched a good portion of Tyler Perry’s The Passion live TV musical and it was wonderful. Telling the story outdoors, live as a procession built while carrying a huge illuminated cross through the streets of New Orleans was brilliance. This was the ultimate example of taking it to the streets. Perry’s narration included some of the most unashamed of the Gospel presentations I have ever seen. This was beautifully done.

I also loved the music they used. Rather than writing new songs or using existing Christian songs, they used pop songs that were slightly rearranged to fit the story. Using songs so many people already know allowed people to connect with the story. I know some detractors didn’t like this, but as a person who realizes the importance of meeting people where they are I saw this as a stroke of genius. Overall I thought this was excellent and I am sure opened eyes to the Gospel story.

That is the soul of telling a better story.

Here’s a prime example of what I’m talking about. Chris Daughtry as Judas and Jencarlos Canela as Jesus sing Imagine Dragons “Demons.” This is great stuff.

I really want to write another creativity book and I could use your input. What do you think of this concept?