Archive for August, 2018

I’m reading Manuel Luz’ new book called Honest Worship and it is so good. He has a really thought provoking idea from Soren Kirkegaard on worship in there that we all need to consider.

[Kirkegaard] is said to have likened the worship service to the theater. He posited that most people believe that the pastors and worship leaders are the performers, God is the director and the congregation is the audience. But this is an incorrect paradigm. In truth the pastors and worship leaders are the directors, the congregation are the performers, and God is rightfully the audience.

He is 100 per cent right and I pray I never get it wrong. Whatever we do in the ministry of worship, must always be done to please an audience of one. This further reminded me of a quote attributed to Francis Chan. A worshipper came up to him and basically said he didn’t like worship today. Chan reportedly said, “That’s okay, we weren’t worshipping you.”

No I’m not giving up on art, or ministry, or even art ministry. I’m not giving up blogging either, in spite of the fact that I have been a little lax lately. No I’m giving up on something else. There’s a famous prayer that is used a lot in the 12 step programs called the Serenity prayer. It goes like this:

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.

There is tremendous freedom in this prayer. The problem comes in knowing what I can change, and what I cannot. I’ve needed that wisdom a lot lately. I’ve found the attitudes of so many so troubling. Politics, political forces, and in some cases political correctness have been ripping this nation apart and it breaks my heart. The divisiveness is destroying us. Gone are the days where people can disagree agreeably and have conversations to find common ground. Now, it seems, disagreement is hate and I’m starting to think this is one of those things that I cannot change at least in some people, maybe even most. So I’m going to do my best to give that up and let it go.

Instead, I am going to try to remember why I am here. There is a ripe harvest out there. There are people who are looking for hope, encouragement, love and purpose. There is one who can change the state we’re in, and it’s not me. There is one who can change the hearts and minds of people. That’s not me, either. It’s Jesus. He’s the one whose mission I am supposed to be on. With His help, I am going to stay out of the arguments, entering only by His leading. The rest of the time I am going to focus on being the light I am supposed to be. If you’re looking for hope, encouragement, inspiration, I’m here. If you’re looking for a fight, there’s a world full of people who will be more than happy to engage you. With God’s help, I’m no longer one of them.

Brothers and sisters, let’s be the creative light we are supposed to be. Let’s be that shining city on a hill, so the ones looking for hope and real answers will be drawn to what we have been given. Stay out of the mud. I’ll try to do the same.

It kind of feels like cheating to share someone else’s video, but this is too powerful to pass up. Alvin Law is a musician born without arms, his story is inspiring, but it might not be what you think. Should this inspire you to look at him and think if he can do that, what can I do? Well, maybe, but there’s something bigger. Many people would see him as a victim and have labeled him as such. He sees himself as a victor, and he’s right. He has changed the label. What labels have been put on you? Maybe it’s time to change them. Thanks Goalcast.

I did it again. I let myself get offended. It was my own fault. I commented when I should have left my fool mouth (or in this case fingers) shut. The result was, well hurtful and a mischaracterization, but by now I should know better. Bottom line, I got offended.

Hear this, offense is a choice. This little incident took me off my game for two days in ways I can’t afford. The thing is, I have more important things to do and so do you. I failed to take into consideration what I’ve taught my children, which is “you don’t have to say everything you think.” Hitting delete on one little sentence, which was offered somewhat in humor, would have saved me some real stress and irritation.

Friends, it’s not up to us to “fix” other people’s ideas, politics, etc. We have too much to do. We have a message to get out that is more important than life and death. If we allow ourselves to get distracted in a whole bunch of things (issues, etc.), that make no mistake about it, are designed to distract, we’re to blame. Stay on mission. Make your art. Tell your story. Give God glory and keep moving forward. If you find yourself getting offended, pray and walk away. God’s glory is bigger and more important than our need to be right.

At the end of the day, here’s the choice we’re facing. Getting offended puts us on the defensive. We need to stay on offense. It’s not going to get any easier.

Explanation: the act or process of making something clear or easy to understand.
—Merriam-Webster Learner’s Dictionary

Here’s my explanation. I woke up one morning thinking about a presentation I did a few years ago that dealt with imagination, inspiration and creation. It was about God’s creative process and involving God in our creative process. It was sort of a twisted alliteration. Rather than all the words beginning with the same letter, they all end with the same five letters A-T-I-O-N. All of the sudden a flood of words came into my mind, all ending with those same letters. In one way or another, all these words could easily be associated with God, faith and the creative process. Before long I was writing them all down and contemplating whether they could form the basis for a new book. What if I could find 52 of these “ation” words and use them as sort of a creative devotional to help creative people of faith to consider more deeply their creative calling. There would be one word a week, complete with a definition, a meditation, related texts for further study and creative project ideas to take the concept further. It is my hope that this project will bring people to clearly see the connection between their creativity, their Creator and their calling.

Even as I begin this project, interesting thing are happening. Every time I type the suffix “ation”, auto-correct keeps changing that to “action” and that is probably not coincidental, because the suffix is defined as “an action or process.” Each of these words calls upon us to act in some way. Now of course some will touch you more than others and some will bring greater motivation than others, but I believe all of them have something to offer. So let’s start off looking at “explanation.”

True I used this word to introduce this project, but explanation is a huge part of our calling as Christian creatives. Consider 1 Corinthians 14:9 So it is with you. Unless you speak intelligible words with your tongue, how will anyone know what you are saying? You will just be speaking into the air. 10 Undoubtedly there are all sorts of languages in the world, yet none of them is without meaning. 11 If then I do not grasp the meaning of what someone is saying, I am a foreigner to the speaker, and the speaker is a foreigner to me. 12 So it is with you. Since you are eager for gifts of the Spirit, try to excel in those that build up the church.

Now one could argue this is about speaking in tongues, and for the record it is, but I believe there are other applications at play here. Consider the new believer in your church. Do you think they understand everything that is being said? As someone who became a believer at 22, I can tell you, they don’t and we Christians tend to forget that and because of that, we tend to “talk over people’s heads.” We may not be “speaking in the tongues of angels” but we might as well be, because we are not being understood. Our message is too important for that. We need to be understood, and as such we need people who have a gift of explanation…

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you will realize that offense is a huge problem in our society, with people seeming to go out of their way to look for things by which to be offended. I bought this book for research on a series of messages on offense and being offended. I was not disappointed. Brant Hansen directs the idea that we have a right to be angry, and as much as we may want to kick against that idea, he’s right. This book combines real life examples, biblical teaching and some of the most challenging ideas on this topic I have ever seen. This book should be a mega best seller because every man, woman and child on the face of the earth should read it and the world would be a MUCH better place if they did.

So let’s start with the basics. Yes I’m still alive. I know it’s been longer between posts than it’s been probably since I started this blog, but I have a good excuse…

I’ve been trying to create non-flammable art.

That’s right I’ve been trying to create art that won’t burn. It’s not easy, but you should try it because the end result is out of this world. It’s so liberating working this way. Usually, we artists focus on being meticulous, creating things of beauty, composition, form, and a whole bunch of other things and while that still has a place in the process, it pales in comparison to the biggest challenge—making something that won’t burn.

You might be thinking, “What kinds of materials would you use? Metals?” Well one might try that, but I didn’t. You might wonder, “Well who would try to burn your art anyway? And how would you know if it was non-flammable unless you burned it? No gallery or museum would allow it and no one in their right mind is going to pay money for art for the purpose of burning it. Dave this is a pointless exercise.” No, the truth is there is a greater point to this experiment than for any other and if you’re a Christian in the arts, this is something you need to embrace, because one thing I can tell you for sure…

It’s all gonna burn…

By now you probably realize, I’m talking about something bigger than making great art. The apostle Paul spoke about building our lives and our efforts on the foundation of Christ. Here’s what he wrote in1 Corinthians 3:11-15:

For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.

You see this week I’ve been finishing up a week of presentations for some of God’s favorite children. (I don’t know that He actually has favorites, but if he did, these people would be among them.) I’ve been writing and drawing and painting and animating and prepping and tweaking and adjusting. I’m going to speed paint eight times and preach ten times in eight days. I’ve been working like a crazy person to get ready for this. When I am done, none of it will be museum quality. I’m not sure I even have museum quality in me, but I don’t care about being in a museum. Museums and masterpieces are going to burn. No, what I am praying for is that God allows me to “paint on hearts.” That He will allow the work that I do to touch hearts and open people to His love and grace, not to mention His plan and purpose, and most importantly His salvation. You see, everything I make with my hands will one day cease to exist, but if He works through me and my work to touch hearts…

That’s non-flammable art.

I pray He helps you make some too. There’s nothing better.

So I don’t really know much about Jonathan Mooney. He’s someone who struggled with dyslexia who people counted out, and today he is someone rethinking education. I don’t know more than that about his story, but I do know this speech he gave is what I have been saying for years. Caution, he used a “seven-letter four-letter word” but this message is dead on. Everyone has a gift. Everyone, every single person has at least one thing that they can use to make a great life and make the world a better place. Check it out.

Thanks Goalcast for another inspiring message.

I really have no business in commenting on basketball. I don’t really watch it very much. I posted a little while ago about the debate as to who is the greatest of all time, Michael Jordan or LeBron James. i don’t know as much about LeBron as I probably should. I know he’s a human highlight reel and I have seen him do some amazing things as I pedal the stationary bike at the gym in the morning. I think at the time I said that it was almost apples and oranges and without a time machine we would never know. I agreed with Kareem Abdul Jabaar (probably another GOAT candidate), that there is no GOAT. By the way if you’re not up on the vernacular, that stands for the Greatest Of All Time, but this post is not about Basketball.

No this week, LeBron and his foundation opened a school he and his foundation built. Yes, he went back into his old neighborhood in Akron Ohio and gave something back, something really big. Not only that but he has guaranteed a college scholarship to every kid who graduates from this school. I don’t know if this makes him the GOAT, but it does qualify him for being a great man.

As I look at this, I also get a bit of a rude awakening. This man is all of 33 years old. In other words he is a young man, young enough to be playing professional basketball, and he has already made considerable contributions to our world, this is just the latest. About now you might want to say, “Well of course he can do this. He makes millions of dollars to play basketball.” Do yourself a favor. Don’t go there. It’s true, odds are you’re not 6’9.” Maybe you’re not athletic. Maybe you don’t have millions of dollars at your disposal. Maybe you’re not a lot of things that Mr. James is. That’s not what’s at issue here. Mr. James saw something that could be done in service to others, and he is using the considerable gifts he has been given to do something that makes a difference. You have considerable gifts too, things given to you by a loving God to touch lives, bless people and glorify Him. If we compare ourselves and our resources to Mr. James, we’ll likely feel like we come up short, but we all have something and we are all surrounded by need. Ask yourself, “How can I use what I have to make a difference?” and do that.

Mr. James, I know you probably won’t read this, but if you do, I salute you and I want to say thank you for making a difference with what you have been given. You are an inspiration. Also please remember, Mr. Barkley was wrong. You are a role model. Thank you for being a good one.