Archive for February, 2019


From the first time I heard it, I’ve had a problem with the slogan, MAGA, Make America Great Again. It’s not because I see the red hat as the new white hood. Nor is it because I do not support the president. As a Christian, I am not commanded to like the president or his policies or agenda, but I am commanded to pray for him, and by the way Schumer and Pelosi and all the rest of the folks who are currently in places of leadership, from dog catcher to president, whether I like and/or agree with them or not. If I believe that prayer changes things, then prayer should be the first reaction to every situation whether I am praying in concern or gratitude.

No my fundamental problem with MAGA is I’ve always believed America to be pretty great. I didn’t say perfect and I am fully aware that there are things in our nation, both in our history and currently that are a source of shame and that need to be changed, but over all a person can still grasp some pretty great opportunities, and have a pretty good life here, or at least that’s been my experience.

The other problem with this statement is “great” is a somewhat fluid/subjective term. Some of the things that one person thinks are great may not be what I would consider great and vice versa. To my mind, there needs to be a more objective standard to work toward than just “great,” and that’s where I came up with MAH.

It stands for Make America Holy. Now I can almost feel the pushback even as I push the keys. I’m not talking about religion by force, or making this a Christian nation, or tearing down the religious freedoms that I, for one, hold dear. No, I’m talking about Christians living as the light of the world we are are called be, living the holiest lives we can live, and living infectiously. I’m talking about sharing our faith in word and deed. I’m talking about living our best lives and representing our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ so well, that others want to know more. Holiness is about living out the standard set by Jesus, as described in His Word, as best we can. It’s about following Jesus no matter what society says, taking on faith that our Lord would never steer us wrong. It’s about love not judgment. It’s about modeling a better way and unashamedly sharing why we live as we live.

Now please note. Holiness has never been popular. The only person who ever pulled this off perfectly got Himself nailed to a cross for His trouble. Holiness has also never been wrong. You should not expect to be loved by everyone if you try to live a holy life, as a matter of fact at times the pushback will be pretty fierce. Jesus didn’t die for us to make us happy. He died to make us holy.

One last thing: If you try to live a holy life, you will fail often, or at least that has been my experience. This should keep us humble and remind us of our constant need for Christ. This is not about being “holier than thou.” “Thou” has never been the standard. Christ is, but consider what would happen if everyone claiming the name of Christ, were in a daily active pursuit of Christ as He is revealed in the Word of God, loving sacrificially and living repentantly, while working toward personal righteousness (which simply means doing the right thing by the objective standard of God’s Word.

I think it would make things pretty great.

 


So last night I had a dream. I had done three stained glass pieces (a medium I’ve never used). They were abstract (a genre I’ve rarely worked in). Somehow I had an agent (something else I’ve never had) who got my work seen by a wealthy collector, who wanted to buy all three pieces. I was flabbergasted, especially when the collector told me the only reason he left the agent in the door was because my pieces were so good. He then showed me his collection pointing out all the expensive and exotic materials he financed the artists to purchase for use in their work. I don’t know that that’s how it works with collectors but remember it was a DREAM.

The collector then went on to make me an offer. He would either buy or sell as many pieces as I could make, at rates that would make me a very wealthy man. He would also finance all the materials, so I could use nothing but the best. I told him I was pretty inexperienced in that medium. He said it didn’t matter. So here’s the recap. A world class collector loved my work. He was willing to pay premium prices for my work while securing the world’s best materials for me to work in. Can I tell you, this would be the fulfillment of pretty much all I had ever dreamed of throughout most of my life? This would be everything I ever wanted for most of my life, but before I agreed to his terms I had a question:

Could I still preach?

I woke just after I asked the question, and my head was just spinning. I couldn’t help but realize this dream revealed a major change that has happened in me. There’s nothing wrong with making art for a living, and I really do hope my best pieces are still ahead of me, but thank you Jesus, for changing my priorities and  giving me a better dream.

 


My new presentation… I am really looking forward to taking this one out this Summer. See a preview here. https://www.facebook.com/RockCafe316/videos/581045878988125/

 

Contact me for more information!


Very busy day today so I have to keep this short. I saw this meme on Facebook today and I had to share it. I think this is one of the truest descriptions of all that surrounds success, that I have ever seen. What do you think?


This week on social media, a friend posted a great quote:

“The true purpose of arts education is not necessarily to create more professional dancers or artists. [It’s] to create more complete human beings who are critical thinkers, who have curious minds, who can lead productive lives.’ Kelly Pollock

While I agree with everything written here, I wish more had been said. I used to work for an arts education organization and there was one thing that bothered me. It seemed there was an unwritten pressure from schools to prove that studying the arts would make students better at things deemed “more important,” like math. What a shame! You see, I believe the arts bring beauty and meaning to our world. Further, it is in creating that human beings manifest part of the image of God we are here to bear. The arts also help us to express the complex things that are going on inside us and helps us to get those things out. My friends who teach in the arts, are not just making kids good at math, they are making the world a better, more beautiful place by virtue of teaching kids to make art. The arts for art’s sake do a lot of good in our world and they should not be reduced in importance to how good they make us at other things.

As I was thinking about this, though, I hit a struggle. You see, I use art in my ministry and if you asked me, I would freely tell you that the arts are a tool I use to communicate the Gospel. Is that really any different from what others might say about the arts? I’ve decided it is and to really help you understand, I’m going to tell you a story.

Once when my son Chris was little, we had a family birthday party for him. Someone in our family got him one of those toys that requires a lot of batteries. This relative decided to have mercy on my son and us, and also bought him the king sized pack of batteries and they gift wrapped them as well. Normally we would give the gift first, and then the batteries, but somehow the packages got shifted and he opened the batteries first. He was such a kind and grateful child, that upon seeing what was in the package, he said with all the glee a small child can muster, “BATTERIEEEEEES!” I was so happy to see him react in such a way. To him batteries were a big deal, even before he had something to put them in.

As I was thinking of this story (which Chris has never lived down), it all came together. Batteries are not a great gift on their own, but the “real gift” was powerless without them. With my ministry, for some people the art is the battery that empowers the story. For others the story empowers the art, but both the art and the story are the gift. Likewise in your creative pursuits, for some people, your God-given gift will be the big thing and for others it will empower the big thing to do it’s work on their hearts. I think that’s why the Bible says, “Each one should use whatever gifts…”  The role your gift plays is in the hand of the Father and the heart of the recipient. Our job is to give the gift, whether it’s the gift, or “just” the BATTERIEEEEEES.

Assignment: What are your batteries and how do you charge them? How can your gift “charge” someone else?


This year, I am going to post creative challenges from God’s Word, the idea is simple, read the passage and create something based on it.

Matthew 23:11-12

A few words on greatness from God’s perspective. How can you use your gifts to be great in the Kingdom today?


There’s this enigmatic figure in the Bible named Bezalel who should give all of us creative types both great joy and a challenge. We read about him in Exodus 31:2-4 (ESV)

“See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver, and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, to work in every craft.”

This guy must have been amazing. There are some people who even believe he was not just a man, but what theologians call a christophany, an appearance of the pre-incarnate Christ. In other words some people believe that before Jesus came in the flesh as a baby, me made an appearance as Bezalel. I doubt this because the Bible makes reference to his father and his ancestry. Still his gifting is beyond remarkable. Look at all the passage says about him.

“I have filled him with the Spirit of God.” It is notable here that Bezalel is the first person listed in all of Scripture to have been killed with the Holy Spirit. So much for those who want to split hairs between gifts and talents. This Spirit filled craftsman was given so much, and the purpose of that gifting was to do artistic craftsmanship to the glory of God.

“Ability and intelligence” This carried through the theme of the Spirit of Skill from yesterday, but please note something else, intelligence. Not only did he have creative ability, but he was given the wisdom to use his gift well, in a way that honors God. Brothers and sisters it is not enough to be good at what we do, we must also exercise wisdom as we use those gifts.

“with knowledge and all craftsmanship.” God allowed him to know how to do things. Think about your creative gift. Surely there is a lot of work involved in building and developing what you have been given, but so much of what you do almost feels instinctive, like second-nature, doesn’t it. When people ask me how long I have been doing art, I can’t really specify a date, it’s always been with me. That’s because God has given us the knowledge to do certain things and do them well. Doing them well is key, that brings us to craftsmanship. This implies God has also given us the ability to bring our best to the table. I’m reminded of Proverbs 22:29 Do you see someone skilled in their work? They will serve before kings; they will not serve before officials of low rank. Your gift was given to you by the ultimate King to serve before the ultimate King, so bring your best to every assignment.

From there we get the laundry list of all Bezalel’s abilities: to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver, and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, to work in every craft.” In short, God made Bezalel really good at a whole lot of things. He has likely done similar things with you. Artistic people tend to gravitate toward multiple creative pursuits. This too may well be by design. Rather than list these out, I want to look at why Bezalel was given these gifts. He was given these tasks to lead, supervise and do the work of building the Tabernacle. His gifts were given for the purpose of drawing people into worship and glorifying God. If you are a Christ following creative, it’s likely the same for you. Now this doesn’t mean you have to do all your work for use in the church, (though you should offer your gifts to the local church as often as you can) but it does mean that what we do should in some way glorify God, open doors to the Gospel, etc.

The point is, your creative ability comes from God. Use it in ways that will please him.