Archive for September, 2019

Is there anyone else who has about enough of the way things are. In so many quarters all we see is negativity. I for one have had enough. The thing is what we put into our heads can’t help but change our trajectory. Put enough negativity in and surprise, surprise, surprise, you’ll also succumb to negativity. Maybe it’s time we said “Enough Already.”

But what if instead we refused to participate. What is we decided for every negative thing we see rather than giving it the power to negatively impact our day, we made the conscious decision to do something positive instead. What if for every negative meme, we made (or even shared) a positive one? What is we determined to let negativity die the death it deserves, by refusing to comment, like or share, and instead found something that will bring someone thoughts of hope, love and joy.

That’s what I intend to do. I am determined from this day forward to be a bringer of love, hope and joy.

Philippians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

In case you need an example.

God is good, powerful, awesome and a whole lot more. Needless to say all the positive adjectives in the world will not be adequate to describe the totality of God, but there’s one word that cannot be overlooked. That word is unpredictable. The saying He works in mysterious ways is a pretty profound understatement. About the time you think you have it all figured out, there’s usually a plot twist that leaves you wondering what’s going on. It’s in these moments that we need to remember one more word.

God is faithful. Sometimes we have to take these leaps of faith. How good is it to know we jump into the arms of the One who never misses and never fails.

Following God is an adventure. We need to trust the unpredictable to the One who is eternally faithful.

We may have to expect the unexpected, but we also trust in the One who never fails expectantly.

Okay… warning, I’m about to confess a great weakness in hopes that it will help someone else. I was online yesterday, and I saw an amazing piece of digital art. The artist was getting opinions as to whether or not her prices were too high. She was asking $25 for a close up, just the face, or for a wider angle full body commission she was asking $40. I was flabbergasted. The work was beautiful. I’m not sure I could do a piece that good, but if I could, I would charge a minimum of ten times what she was charging, but in her question, I heard the bigger question, “Am I worth it?”

See all of us creative types question our value. We’ve been taught from a pretty early age that what we do is not a real job and as a result, we question the value of what we do. I’m more guilty than most. You see “Am I worth it?” can flow into every area of life. When I am happy, when I feel like I am doing really great and more correctly when things are going really great, there is always this nagging suspicion that something is going to come along and ruin it. I’ve felt this way about my art, my ministry, even my marriage. “I’m too happy, something is sure to fall apart.” Am I the only one, and if not, why do we do this to ourselves? Why can’t I just enjoy life? I mean I just had a phenomenal couple months of ministry both in my church and on the road, and I should be overjoyed and in awe of God’s faithfulness. Instead I am wondering when it’s all going to come apart. Why can’t I just be happy? I think it comes down to that old question. “Am I worth it?”

If you’ve ever felt that way, let me tell you what I really long to hold on to and what I’m trying to grasp even now. You and I are loved by the God of the universe. That is no guarantee that things will not fall apart, but God is with you. There are people in this world that love you just for you, and everything God has given us to do has value to someone. You have value whether people see it or not. If people don’t like your work, they are the wrong audience for your work. At the end of the day, God will never leave you, nor forsake you. Trust in Him. He’s ultimately who matters most, and He loves you. Then find the people who love you too. If the God of the universe gave His only Son for you, that’s all the evidence you need.

You are worth it!

In 2018, I wrote and published a book called “Enough. God and the Fine Art of Measuring Up.” I was really happy with the book, but it I never really got to promote it, the way I wanted to. It’s just been kind of floating out there as a result, and I think it’s a really important piece that could really help and bless some people, so I’ve decided for the next few months, I am going to re-edit it and re-release it and do a sort of tour in support of it in 2020. The presentations will be pretty much what folks who’ve seen me are used to—high speed art, storytelling, maybe even a little drama, video and more, all designed to communicate the Gospel and encourage people to know that they really can measure up and in Christ, they are enough. If all goes well, I will start booking this by the end of the year for 2020. If you think you’re group could use some hope and encouragement, contact me.

Tonight was one of those nights when I have to pinch myself and say, “I can’t believe what I get to do.” I painted and preached a message on forgiveness. I claim no credit for it. God gave it to me, and I am grateful and I saw fruit from it. I’ll leave it at that. I am so blessed. I get to travel, serve a great church, paint pictures and tell people about Jesus. On the homefront, I have a wonderful wife, two great sons, a wonderful daughter-in-law and a grandson that just fills my heart with joy. I have a slew of great brothers in law and sisters in law. I have a lot of great friends, awesome opportunities. In short I am extremely blessed.

And I almost missed it all.

You see when I was 22 years old, I was at the end of my rope. If I wasn’t an alcoholic, I was extremely close and I was on a self destructive spiral that was about to end badly. I thought about ending my life many times and I tried at least once. That was the first time I remember crying out to God for help. I am here because he helped me. I call what I live now, the bonus life. You see there are other people in my life who are very important to me, my parents, my brother and sister, cousins, and aunts and uncles and other friends that I failed to mention. This doesn’t indicate their lack of importance, it’s just they were in my life before that day, the day it all almost ended. All the people in the paragraph above would have never even been in my life, had it ended that day. All the amazing opportunities I’ve had since then never would have happened, and anyone I’ve been blessed to help in the last 33 years would not have been helped (at least not by me). All these people and all these things are part of the bonus life and I am forever grateful.

Why do I share this? Because suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. When I think of all I might have missed, I shudder. Friend, if you’re in a dark place today, you need to know, it gets better. Give it to God and trust in Him.

The bonus life is so worth it!

So I’ve been having a problem recently. I’ve been hearing church leaders making comments that prove, to me at least, that they do not truly believe the teachings of Scripture. I find that not just frustrating but baffling. I often make the comment (I think I’ve even made it here) that if I didn’t believe the teachings of Scripture, I wouldn’t be a preacher. I’d go into the world of motivational speaking, because the paychecks are a lot larger. Lately, though I have been having struggles with that line of thinking, and not for the reasons you might think.

I think the underlying tone on my comment is that there is something wrong with motivational speaking. In reading my comments, it almost sounds like I’m some kind of martyr, sacrificing the wealth of motivational speaking for a higher call. I hate that. For the record, I love motivational speakers. I watch them. I listen to them. I study them and I want to communicate the way they do. They help and encourage a lot of people, which is pretty much exactly what I want to do.

Then another thought occurred to me. I happen to know more than a few motivational speakers share my faith, they just get to reach a much larger audience, an audience that is by-and-large outside the church. How much different is that that what we are commanded to do as Christians. You know taking the message of Christ to the ends of the earth. Making the most of every opportunity. Using WHATEVER gifts you have received to serve others. Those are all things God told us to do. What if that is precisely what we’re called to do?

Think about it. The principles of Christ are beyond a doubt the most beneficial teachings that could be taught. I mean we serve the most motivational person who has ever lived. People have been sacrificing their very lives to His cause for millennia and finding truth and meaning beyond anything this world has to offer. What would be so wrong with taking that to a wider audience?

Now I can almost hear the resistance. Well you’ll sugar coat it and weaken it. What if we don’t? Well some people won’t receive it. How is that different from now? Some people won’t bring you in because they know you’re a Christian. Yes, but some people will. What if we were to just take those principles to the world and let the chips fall where they may? Maybe instead of thinking I would be a motivational speaker if I didn’t believe the Scriptures, I should be thinking, I should be a motivational speaker because I believe the Scriptures, specifically, because I believe the Gospel is still the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes.

It’s something to ponder.

P.S. No I am not thinking of leaving pastoral ministry or my itinerant ministry, just examining my heart and contemplating something different.

This is such a beautiful song from a fantastic album. Hillary Scott is a singer for the band Lady Antebellum, and she and her family did a Christian album that is something to behold. This song tells a beautiful story that is both touching and meaningful. This is musical storytelling at its best. Check out this live performance.