Archive for October, 2019

One of the reasons creatives withhold their work, is because of fear of failure. As stated previously, art withheld is a gift un-given, a waste of your time, and a lost opportunity, but so many people will look at their work and convince themselves that their work is unworthy. They think they’ve failed.

Creatives need to learn to fail like our creative brethren, the scientists. Oh there are few people more creative than scientists, and there are no people more susceptible to failure than scientists. The thing is, scientists know how to fail. Here’s what happens. One day a scientist comes up with an idea. An idea is nothing more than a creative solution to a problem, something every creative/artist also does every day. Once the scientist has an idea, he or she begins to do experiments to test whether or not their idea will work. That experiment has really only two options. It will either succeed or fail. If it succeeds, the problem is solved. This is similar to the work we do that works the first time. If on the other hand the piece doesn’t work out, we creatives will generally consider it a failure and walk away. Scientists don’t do that and neither should we.

You see, if the experiment fails, the scientist notes what was done, and the results, why it failed etc. From there the creative process continues. The scientist learns what he can from his failure and determines what it will take for his creation to succeed. From there he or she designs another experiment and starts again. Each success, and each failure moves the scientist closer and closer to success. Basically creatives often fail and quit. Scientists experiment, fail, and experiment again as often as possible, until something works. Scientists fail forward.

We creatives need to do the same.

Okay I may have overplayed my hand, it’s not so much that the gatekeeper is dead, he’s just been neutralized in many fields. I guess I better explain myself.

You see this post goes all the way back to the beginning of my art career. Back when the way to get work was to create something and submit it to as many companies as you could, in hopes that someone would look at your work, think it was “cool” and pick you. Those agents of picking were called the gatekeepers, and your life depended on them, but then something happened. The internet “killed” or at least neutralized the gatekeeper. Where before you had to wait for them to pick you, now you get to pick yourself.

You can put your work out there for the world to see, and in the process, you bypass the gatekeepers and go straight to the audience. This should largely be a reason for creatives to celebrate, but there’s a problem. Many of us try to resurrect the gatekeeper. As a matter of fact it’s far worse than that, we act as our own gatekeeper. Instead of sharing our work with the world, we keep it to ourselves, deciding on our own that we are not good enough to put our work out there. It’s ridiculous. Now, I’m not saying it’s wrong to self edit, or that you can’t withhold a piece you’re not happy with, but what I will say if you’ve brought your best to the table, it’s foolish not to share it.

Imagine you bought someone a gift. You put a lot of thought and effort into it, wrapped it up beautifully, but then you decide not to give it. You comfort yourself by saying, “Well I made the effort, I remembered the occasion, I spent the money and the time, and that’s enough. After all, it’s the thought that counts.” Ridiculous, right? But that’s what happens when we withhold our work. We created something that would bless many people, but we keep it hidden, and so we keep the blessing, the “gift” from everyone including ourselves.

Many of us have longed for the day when the gatekeepers would lose their power. Please don’t bring them back. Instead, make your best “gift” and share it with the world.

Okay, full disclosure, I can honestly say I am not sure I have heard a single Kanye song. No negativity intended, I’m just not a rap guy. That being said, I am having a really hard time with the posts I have been seeing. Evidently Mr. West has converted to Christianity and the “inter-webs” are full of opinions on it. Is he sincere? Is this just a move to advance his career? I have to admit I am frustrated. A man has given his heart to Christ. We should be rejoicing. The angels are. Instead, so many are questioning his motives. To me, it’s out of bounds. Maybe it’s just because I am a guy who saw the light after a pretty bad struggle with alcohol, being suicidal, etc., but who are we to question anyone’s conversion? Granted, I’m kind of a nobody and he’s a household name, but he deserves the benefit of the doubt and more, he deserves our prayers.

Let’s say for a moment that his conversion is totally sincere. He has had a full on saving experience with Christ. Those of us who have come to Christ, know how hard those days after conversion can be. Most of us, especially those who have had more radical experiences, will tell you, the enemy cranks up the heat in those days. Now imagine you can’t even be happy about the miracle Jesus ha done in your life, because a million of your alleged brothers and sisters are dragging your motivations through the mud… a million people who are posting nasty things about your conversion. Can you imagine how hurtful that is to him? Can you imagine how negatively you reflect the cause of Christ, not just to Mr. West, but to his legions of fans. I think we need to take a hard look at how we are treating this new brother.

Here’s the thing. Kanye’s conversion is between him and Jesus. Our opinions are irrelevant. His conversion is none of our business. If it turns out your worst suspicions about the man are true, that’s also between him and Jesus. If, on the other hand, our attitudes cause him or his fans to stumble, that’s on us. So here’s what I have to say to a man who will likely never read this. Welcome to the family, brother Kanye. I’m praying for you.

My new sermon, the first in a series on the book of Esther, related to chapter 1.

Tonight I ministered at the Salvation Army ARC in Altoona, PA. What a great ministry they have there. Thanks to Captain Daniel Gonzales and all the folks there for making it a great night.

I was reading 1 Thessalonians 4-5 this week, and I knew that this needed our message. If you want to know how to please God, take a listen.

So today was a really interesting day. It started with helping to set up one of my favorite speaker’s equipment for a major school presentation. Afterwards I got to have an early lunch with him and his team which was just awesome. Stories from the road combined with a few take aways that can’t help but make me a better speaker in the future. Thanks Bob Lenz for sharing some time with me today. If you are a pastor, you should really consider teaming up with a few other local churches to bring his Dignity Revolution presentation to your local school.

After that, I had a few errands to run. Checks to be deposited, and getting my driver’s license picture taken, after which I was craving a small treat, namely a McDonald’s Hot Caramel Sundae. While I was there, I heard a conversation between a worker and one of the other guests. I was trying to mind my own business, until I heard the young lady say she was an artist. At that point I had to join in. It turns out she had recently posted a photo of a new piece of art to social media. She had tried a new technique (for her) and was looking for feedback. She referred to her post as controversial. It wasn’t so much controversial, but she was getting a look at the difficult side of putting her work out there. Some people liked the piece, others did not. I didn’t read the comments, and she was handling it pretty well, but I could tell some of it was hurtful.

The piece was well done and a very good first effort. If she keeps going, she will grow and excel, but I reminded her of something I have had to remind myself of far too many times. As an artist you have to be true to yourself, claim your work and, to an extent, ignore the unkind critics. Let’s face it, as artists we all want everyone to like our work, but this is not reality. Some people will love your work, others will not. Some will praise it, others will put it (and maybe even you) down. Here’s what we need to remember: The people who love your work are the people who matter. Create first for yourself (and of course for the Lord), and then for the people who love your work and disregard the haters. The people who love your work are the people that will 1. buy it and/or 2. tel the world about it. They need to be your focus.

Also as artists, we need to bless and encourage each other and help each other out. In the course of our conversation, I shared a few of my pieces, talked about my traveling ministry, looked at more of her stuff, shared a couple of ideas, and because she was open minded, I showed her some of he work of one of my friends who I would consider a master at her ‘new” technique. All in all it ended up being a good conversation and I was blessed by it. I hope she was encouraged as well.

I’m in one of those places right now where sleep seems such a waste of time. I literally have an overload of ideas. No, I’m not complaining. Well maybe just a little. You see I’m feeling a little sleep deprived, because the ideas tend to kick up in the middle of the night. Engage them too long, and I can’t sleep. Further, I have more ideas than I can act on, and the temptation is very real to back burner things in favor of the shiny objects before my eyes. Add to that a few changes coming up, and I’m starting to feel distracted. I need to focus. What to do?

Well let’s start with the basics. Keep a pad and paper or other idea collection device nearby, so you can record the ideas, after all in the creative world, ideas are gold. Recording them gives me the confidence that I won’t forget them or lose them which often helps me get back to sleep. This also allows me to store the shiny objects, so that I can faithfully finish what I’m already working on. So many creatives have a mountain of started ideas that flounder in the name of the next big thing, don’t do it. Unfinished ideas benefit no one, and if we truly believe in calling, a big part of that is getting our creations out there to the rest of the world.

I’m of the belief that there is no such thing as too many ideas. The answer to the difficulty is being able to maintain focus, and get things done. We need to prioritize and we need to know our calling. Some things are for us to do now, and some are for us to dream on for a while, maybe even hand them off to someone better suited to the task at hand. The point is there are only so many hours in a day and we all need to rest at times. Prioritization will help us manage our ideas until we can get to them.

What are you working on today?

I’ve decided to try something new. I’m going to record my sermons each week and combine them with the power point slides I’ve made for the messages. This will show some of the ways I am using visuals and how I construct messages.

This week the message centers around three traditional questions asked by the deacons before we enter into our love feast and communion service. Based on 1 Corinthians 11:25-27, this message deals with the way we should approach communion.

Every year in October there is a challenge for artists who work in pen and ink, called Inktober. The make a list of prompts every year. I usually do at least a few, here’s the list and my entries so far.