Archive for June, 2017


I’m at this church conference and there’s this word I keep using. It’s a word I don’t know that I’ve every used so often. I’ve used it about my marriage and my wife a lot. I’ve used it about my kids and my daughter in law and my grandson a lot, but when it came to my career, I never used it like I’m using it now. The word is happy.

You see as I come to this conference, I realize how many people I’ve been blessed to come to know over the last five years as I’ve traveled the nation running A.M.O.K. It’s so cool to have so many people in a concentrated area. I see people I know at virtually very turn and while we’re usually headed in opposite directions and only have a few seconds, we ask how each other is doing and I usually end up saying something about being happy. I feel so blessed to be doing what I am doing and it’s starting to show.

Strangely, in some ways I am working harder than I have ever worked, but there is a fulfillment I’m not sure even I expected. I figured I’d never be a pastor again when my church plant closed. In some ways I was actually okay with that. I was loving the traveling art ministry (I still do) and between that and a day job that helped to pay the bills, I was okay. When the day job went away, I thought I was in deep trouble, but the Lord provided and I got a large amount of bookings that really helped. I started envisioning maybe being a full time speaker. I loved it and I still do. The problem was I was starting to feel a lot of pressure to book more and more things. I got a call out of the blue to serve as an interim pastor for a couple months over the winter when speaking was traditionally slow. I agreed to do it and discovered that the church was a fit about the same time they discovered I was a fit. It all worked and I became the permanent pastor. I was very happy. I loved it and I still do.

Now here’s the thing. What I’ve learned is my church ministry makes me better at my traveling ministry and the messages I write for church help a flow of fresh ideas for presentations to keep rolling into my mind. On the other hand my traveling ministry makes me better at my church ministry. I’ve become a much better speaker on the road and mist importantly I get a lot of experiences on the road that give me fresh stories for my congregation. I imagine most of you have been in churches where the pastor’s stories start to become a little too familiar. That is due at least in part to the fact that the pastor spends so much time in one place that he or she doesn’t get many new experiences. Further when I am out, my congregation gets to hear other voices and other perspectives which is good for them as well.

God has been good to me and I am blessed. More than that, Most of the time, I’m happy.

Advertisements

What do you do when you can’t win? Maybe that’s the wrong question. What do you do when you have two people who have been at loggerheads for a long time, and they’re Christian, and they both believe that they’re in the right and supported by Scripture and that God is on their side?

Well there really aren’t a lot of options. To ask either side to change their view (right or wrong) is akin to asking them to betray their faith and while I’m convinced that the Spirit of God can get through to people and change hearts and minds (I know this because He did it for me) I also know changing hearts and convictions can be a long process. What do you do in the mean time? To be honest, there’s a big part of me that would still love to win, but then the larger question becomes what will I lose if I win? Moreover, what will my faith look like to the people who desperately need to experience it for themselves if I continue to fight a battle that will never be won by my human effort.

What are the real choices? Basically there are two—break the relationship with those with whom I disagree, or find a way to get along, disagree agreeably and work together for the common good, while God works on our hearts? This is not a compromise in belief. I hold my convictions and get back on mission. I get back to doing what God has called me to do. I’m not sure, but that might be how you win.


I did Pictures of Jesus last night on my way to my denomination’s Annual Conference. The presentation was at The Church in Drive in Saginaw, MI. It is a great privilege to be able to do what you were created to do and see the Lord use it to His glory. Thanks to Emily Woodruff for these great photos.

They also live streamed the event. You can see it here.

(Please note the stream went on a little while before we got started.)


At the moment I am taking an Old Testament class as I work on my Masters. The most recent session I completed was on the books of 1 & 2 Chronicles. It was telling. One of the questions I had to answer for my paper was What is the relationship between reflection on the past and the worship of Yahweh?

Here is my reply:

In the books of Chronicles we see evidence of a disappointed people and a theology of hope. The people have returned from exile to see a city and a temple that are in ruins and a pale shadow of what once was and, to put it mildly, they have questions for God. The Chronicler works to cure this by taking them to the past, reminding them of God and his faithfulness, great victories and all His work on their behalf. This in many ways is the essence of worship.

Our circumstances may be such that they make us lose hope, but worship draws our hearts back to the One who saves us and sets us free. Worship reminds us of the One who has been faithful throughout history, to remind us He is still in control. Worship is essential to our lives as believers. I often remind my congregation that the times we feel like worshipping the least are when we need to worship the most. The Chronicler is trying to draw the people back to hope in God. He is showing them that throughout time God has kept up the covenant regardless of our faithfulness. In the same hand, the blessings and curses still apply. The people in Chronicles are living in the remnants of a curse that they, or their ancestors, brought on themselves. The Chronicler is reminding them that they can live in the blessing again. The answer is to return to the right worship of the one true God. It is as true for us as it was for them. Worship turns our hearts to God, and that is where they need to be.

When you feel like worshipping the least is usually when you need to worship God the most. Let Him remind you of His faithfulness, power and grace. He has come through before, He will come through again. Lift your heart in worship, read of His faithfulness in His Word and be comforted. Where there is God there is hope, and God is Here!

Worship Him, whether you feel like it or not.


Well on the morning of June 26th I hit the road again. I am traveling to Saginaw, Michigan to do Pictures of Jesus at a great church called The Church in Drive. From there I will be headed to Grand Rapids, Michigan for the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference. In addition to my role as my church’s delegate to the conference, I will also be doing some painting presentations there on three of the days. When the conference ends on Sunday I will be headed to Ashley, Indiana to present Pictures of Jesus again on Monday Evening. From there I make my way back to Ohio to spend the evening with some dear friends, then back to church, Bible study, etc. It’s going to be a good but lengthy trip.

I am sharing this for a reason beyond just saying, “Hey look what I’m doing!” You see, I love what I do. I love having the opportunity to travel all over the place and preaching and speaking and painting. The downside of it, though is that I spend a lot of time away from home and the family that I love, which can be hard. That’s how it goes with blessings sometimes. There is hard stuff in among the great stuff and I think the key is to be grateful for both. What I do is such a blessing to me, and the missing my loved ones, that keeps me grounded. It challenges me to be sure to be more in the moment when I am at home with my loved ones. It makes me strive for balance and proper priorities. God has been good and faithful to me. I must return that faithfulness, with a faithfulness and an appreciation for everything and everyone God has given. I don’t deserve any of this, and so I must work to be faithful to “Do [my] best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” (2 TIMOTHY 2:15)

It’s all about gratitude and the faithfulness born from that gratitude. Be faithful, make the most of every opportunity, and honor God in every part of your life. especially in your relationships.


This morning my wife and I are heading out to a pancake breakfast, otherwise known as the annual carb-fest. We’re doing it to support the arts. You see our son is working with a community theater, he’s acting in a show and this past week he helped to lead a theater camp for a week. He led 30 kids through a production of the kids version of 101 Dalmatians. Later this afternoon, they will perform their production for friends ad family culminating a week of learning and fun. I am really proud of my son and the way he is using his teaching gift and his theater gifts to help others to grow in their giftings. Whether he realizes it or not, he’s putting all the principles I’m trying to teach here to work. Don’t tell him, it’s our little secret.

Then when the show is over, Dawn and I will be hustling up to church, where we will lead a Masterpiece Paint Night tonight. We do these for our church about four or five times a year and it is always great to see people come out and try their hands at making art. Even moreso it is good to see my church folks working with people from the community. My purpose in these paint nights is two fold. I want to help people to embrace their creativity, but I’d also kind of like to see some of the folks give my church a try. Don’t tell them that either. That’ll be our little secret, too. But seriously, there’s not really no ulterior motive. It’s just a great way to make friends and build relationships while having fun and it appears to be working. If everybody comes that has said they are coming, it will be the biggest group by far we have ever had.

Why do I share this? Because friends the arts are a great tool for communication and building community. They can help people to learn and grow, build confidence and maybe even find a new path in life. The gifts you have can do tremendous good in our world. Put them to use in your life, and also use them to serve others in your community. Serve others with your gift.

Support the arts.


It’s been a busy week as you can probably tell from the silence on this end. Sorry about that. I will catch us up. On Monday I will be leaving for a ten day ministry trip. I’ll be ministering at two great churches and at my denomination’s annual conference with art and speaking. That excites me. I am also my church’s delegate to the conference and I face that duty with a little more trepidation. While I am so looking forward to seeing many friends I don’t see the rest of the year, there are some potentially divisive issues on the agenda and that bothers me. I have walked this earth long enough to know that when you get more than two people together there is likely to be disagreement. I’ve also been a Christian long enough to know that division is bad for the body of Christ and that God has given us a remedy. He gave us His Word and if we gather around that word in humility and repentance, He will speak truth. This is what I pray will happen. I was trying to think of something that expresses my thoughts and I was reminded of this song. I’m getting ready!

God is good, and my prayer is that we will gather in His love and goodness and that He will heal divisions with His righteousness.