Archive for March, 2017

Have you ever felt dry? I mean really dry, spiritually. I think we all go through those times, but in my time of prayer today, I started to see three drops coming up like a fountain, representing the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I began to think of all the passages that refer to the living water found in Christ. Faith in Him will refresh us in the dry times and bring us healing. So today if you’re struggling and “dry” the one’s for you.

John 7:38 “Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”

I’m reading a book (Theresa Dedmon’s Born to Create) that encouraged me to pray and ask God for an image to bless someone. My original thought (and the encouragement of the book) was to create an original work, like a painting or drawing, but I am away from my studio and it’s late. If I was going to do something, it would have to be digital and in a pop art style. Also I felt a very strong leading to share it digitally rather than one to one, so I am hoping this speaks to someone. As I began to pray, I realized that every electronic device I currently have with me is on a charger or needs a charger and if there was a charger for people I would be on it too. I’m beat. Yet I saw a very simple image in my mind…

A spark. Like I said it’s late and I’m tired and I was starting to think this was all in my head. Then I plugged my computer charger in and a small spark came out of the outlet and I knew it was time to make art to share with anyone who connects to me who might be feeling drained, exhausted and in need of a recharge.

I was wrong with what I wrote earlier. There is a charger for humans. It’s the Holy Spirit. Scripture says “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you…” Maybe you’re tired because you are trying to do everything in your own strength or maybe you’re exhausted because of the trials and traumas of this life. If that’s you, maybe you need to rest in His arms for a while and let God renew your strength. whatever the case, if any of you needs this little “creative spark,” then I guess you’re the one I made it for. It’s yours to copy print, display or share at will. May God bless you.

I started to think about what it means to have it all. This set of Creacher toons spells it out,

The Little Things is another moment of brilliance from Andy Andrews. This man may be my favorite writer and this book does not disappoint. Most books in this genre tell us to look at the big picture. Andrews focuses on small things that make a big difference. Small choice that yield amazing results. His chapter on offense and tolerance alone was worth the price of the book. Working through true stories from his personal experiences as well as other great people throughout history, Andrews weaves a compelling book that will no doubt do some real good in this world. This is a man who describes himself as a noticer and taking to heart the things that he notices could yield serious results in your life. I could not recommend this book any higher. It is a must read for anyone breathing or at least anyone who wants to lead a blessed and fruitful life.

I hated algebra. No two ways about it, I hated it, and while I am sure some of you mathematicians will want to correct me, I have not used it once since the day I left drafting school and even then it was only to prove I knew it. There was one thing I learned that I sort of remember, order of operations. When working through an equation there are certain functions you must do first or you will throw the whole problem out of whack.

There’s an order of operations for Christianity too and this one is painfully easy to remember, though people show me all the time that they don’t know it. It goes like this:

Jesus ALWAYS comes before repentance.

So often we in the church seem to believe it can happen the other way around. That people will clean up their collective acts and then they can come to Jesus. This is never the case. Ever. Oh people can have a change of heart, or people can feel drawn to Christ, but it’t the Holy Spirit that leads us to true repentance, not an act of the will. I know this seems like I’m mincing words but let me show you why this is an important distinction. I once heard of someone who told a parent their child was going to hell because of a sin they were committing. The implication was clear, that person needs to stop sinning so they can get into heaven. You may agree with that, but the person doesn’t have the power to stop sinning on their own. They need the help of the Holy Spirit, which means they need Jesus. Most of the time the best place to find Jesus is within the Body of Christ, the church, but it’s hard to get people into the church when the church tells them they’re going to hell.

For the record, when I preach, I do preach about sin and I do preach about repentance, I even preach about hell, but to tell someone they are going to hell, well that is not my job. Rather my job is to teach people about the One who laid down His life to free us from the stuff that will ruin and destroy us. He is the righteous judge. He said “let Him without sin cast the first stone,” so I couldn’t stone you even if I wanted to (and for the record, I don’t). My job is to share the good news of Jesus Christ. Our job as the church is to love people, speak the truth in love, and point them to the One who leads us all to repentance. In this broken world this is not easy but it is and always will be right.

In some of our churches, we need to take down the “no sinners allowed” sign and put one up that says “come in and find freedom.” It’ll get messy, but it’ll be worth it.

I got this really interesting journal today. It’s by a company called Waff. It’s got this rubber waffle like cover and comes with an assortment of letter tiles you can use to decorate the cover. I called my Ideas 4 World Domination Notes. Now to be clear, I don’t really want to rule the world. I know the guy who does and it’s too big a job for me. The idea was to do something a little tongue in cheek where I could store my product ideas, book outlines and other things that pop into my head that I might one day take to market.

As you know I am a big advocate of storing ideas and I thought this might be a good way to do it. After all ideas are very valuable to creatives and most of us are pretty prolific idea generators. If we’re not careful, though, we can have a hundred projects started and none finished. It’s far better to finish what you’re working on and store the other ideas for when your current project is finished.

Guys we have got to finish what we start. Until our work is finished, we can’t share it with the world, and until it’s shared, it benefits no one. I think sometimes withholding our work is just a form of procrastination. We still feel busy and somewhat productive, but we don’t have to deal with rejection, or any one of a hundred other things we fear. Of course all those fears also keep us from the best byproduct of finishing a project… SUCCESS.

What we really fear is how the world will receive (or not receive) our work. Putting that fear behind us allows us to achieve a different kind of world domination. The kind that allows us to stand up and say here is my contribution, I hope you like it and if you don’t, I’m not worried, someone will. It’s that kind of confidence that allows us to succeed.

I am really excited to start filling my world domination notebook, I’m even more excited to share what comes out of that book with the world around me. You need to do the same. Your ideas are your own. If you don’t put them out there, no one will, because no one else can.

Get out there and dominate!

This has been a great week and a busy one. I had a great series of Spiritual renewal meetings the first four days of the week. Thursday and Friday were spent having office hours at my church and helping my congregation set up our annual yard sale as well as a lot of other things that have to be done in a pastor’s week, like attending meetings, setting up the services, preparing for future events and more. Then of course there was the weekly sermon. While I worked on the sermon throughout the week, it never really clicked until late Thursday evening when my other meetings were over and I was more able to focus on the matter at hand. I tend to be something of a one track mind when it comes to preaching and I sometimes have a hard time working on more than one message at a time, especially when I am preaching a different message every day.

When I am busy like that, this blog often slips a few days (full disclosure, this post that is dated for Saturday was written early Monday morning). I will still post for all missed days because I have made a commitment to post daily and I really do want to honor that with the best content I can generate, because I value the time you take to read these posts.

Unlike a lot of people, I like being somewhat busy, especially when it involves doing the things I love to do. It energizes me and God always seems to deliver in the creativity department. That being said, busy requires downtime. My body can only keep up the fast pace for so long and the length of that time is getting shorter. For example, by the last day of my renewal meetings I was drinking as much tea with honey as I could sand during the day because my throat had become quite hoarse. Also, even though I spent most evenings at home in this past week, my wife and I were like two ships passing in the night, having spent precious little time together. Busyness is great. It shows we’re doing something right, maybe even in demand, but we cannot afford to forget to take care of ourselves and our special relationships. I didn’t always live that way and believe me when I tell you, there is a cost and it’s high.

So enjoy those busy times, but don’t forget why you do them, to honor God and provide for your family. Ultimately these two are the top priority and if you’re too busy for them you’re just plain too busy.

Be careful who you say no to.

Today should be a fun day. Each year our church hosts a yard sale. Basically all the members, as well as some friends of the church being their unwanted items to our fellowship hall. We then sell the items and the proceeds go to funding various projects for the church. It’s actually fun and if you know what you’re looking for you can make some great finds. As I looked over the huge room with it’s heaping tables, I had a realization. Everything I found that I wanted is something that, for some reason or another, someone else was probably going to throw away. This shows once again that value is subjective. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure… 

…and I hate to say it like this, but it’s the same way with our creations. Some people will look upon it and see a treasure while others will look at it and only see trash. The task for the creative is to value their own work enough to ignore the critics and keep creating and it can be hard. After all, we love our work, or at least we should. I’m continually amazed at how many creatives seem to really dislike their own creations. I think if this is you, you’re looking at it wrong. You see I don’t think we actually dislike our work. If we did, we’d lay it aside and do something else. No what we are really struggling with is disappointment. On one side, the thing we’ve created is not as good as what we see in our heads and so we don’t like our end results. Here’s the thing, I’m not sure we are capable of creating a piece that is as good as the one we envisioned. That space between our ears is virtually unlimited, no struggles with media, no laws of nature contend with and certainly no limitations of ability. The imagination can just run wild and it can go way beyond our current skill level. Bringing that wildness into something others can see, is both the problem of the joy and the artist. Handled rightly, that disappointment can push us to greater levels of mastery and creativity. So don’t get down on yourself for your limitations, let those limitations spur you to greater levels of creativity.

On the other side are the external critics. Your work is just not their thing and sometimes they will disparage your work quite vocally. This is hard. We pour our hearts and souls into our work (and we should!) and this kind of stuff can feel very defeating. The thing is we have the choice as to whether or not we are defeated. Defeat in creativity (and many other aspects of life) can be summed up in one word, “quitting.” Do not give into that. The one calling you is bigger than your critics. If you’re work does not speak to someone, you have a decision to make. Are you going to give in and quit? Are you going to try to appease your critics by doing something that pleases them, even if it means creating work that no longer pleases you? Or are you going to forget about the people who consider your work trash and find the ones who consider it a treasure? The last choice will give you a lifetime of creative joy. The others will make you feel like trash.

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Look for the audience that treasures you.

I just spent four days ministering at Little Swatara Church of the Brethren. It was a great time. There were quite a few people that I grew up with there and it was great to reconnect. I spoke on the parables. One thing I have become convinced of is that if we as believers will apply the principles of these stories to our lives, they will help us to live a better “stories.” Here are a few pics. Thanks to Pastor Matt Christ for the invite and all you did for me and thanks to Mark Myers for doing all the video work. I can’t wait to see the clips.

I love to do this kind of ministry so if your church could ever use a few days of challenging, renewing messages combining art and the word of God, please contact me.

John Crist did this hilarious video that hits a little too close to home for your average pastor. I’m actually waiting for this show to show up on HGTV.