Archive for February, 2021

The Jesus Method

Posted: February 28, 2021 in Uncategorized

The greatest creative minister of all time is Jesus. Jesus painted the most vivid amazing word pictures that were designed with a two fold purpose. One of those purposes was to block their meaning from the hard hearted people who opposed him at every turn. As a matter of fact, it could be argued that it was an incident with the Pharisees that moved Jesus into the parables, to begin with.

It was after Jesus cast a demon out of a man possessed that the Pharisees made the accusation, “But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons.” (Matthew 12:24) It was right after this falling out, that Jesus, did the vast majority of His public teaching in the form of parables. Jesus opens Matthew 13 with the Parable of the Sower and when His disciples asked Him why He taught in this way, Jesus said,

Matthew 13:11 … “Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them.12 Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. 13 This is why I speak to them in parables: “Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand. 14 In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: “‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. 15 For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.’

At least one writer has gone so far as to say that the parables were a form of judgment on the hard hearted and Matthew 13:34 informs us that Jesus spoke all these things to the crowd in parables; he did not say anything to them without using a parable.

The other side of this is for the open-hearted. For them these stories, set in familiar surroundings and contexts to their daily life opened their eyes to complicated truths, expressed in simple ways. I call this The Jesus Method. The idea is simple. We share the unchanging message of the Gospel in ways people can understand. These stories are simple and yet intriguing. They show us the truth. The parable as an art form is still available to creatives today as a matter of fact I would argue that preachers would be well served sharpening their parable telling skills. Please do not misunderstand me here. I am not saying that storytelling is a substitute for the preaching of the Word, rather it is a window into God’s truth, helping people to see.

After all we don’t just preach for the sake of hearing ourselves talk. We preach with the purpose of being understood, and more than that, these messages are supposed to help people take them to heart and apply their truths to their lives. Jesus knew the importance of what He was saying better than anyone ever did or ever will, and He used this method. Yes it confounded the Pharisees, but for those seeking truth, the parables illuminated it for all to see.

The Gospel is unchanging, but how we communicate it matters. May we learn from the greatest creative minister of all time and may we learn from His technique and put it into practice.

Lord what should I share,
What can I post about which they’ll care.
Lord thanks for the readers,
May they be creative leaders,
Lord use me to bless them that is my prayer.

Lord give them creative ideas by the score
Give them opportunities
Yes opportunities galore.
Help them to be humble
And excellent too.
Lord give them the strength to glorify you.

Lord help them to be artists
With hearts for your Word.
Help them to act on what from you they’ve heard.
Let them ignore the critics
Who say they’re not enough
And the critic inside
Who is often most tough.

Help them to remember it all comes from You
Help them to remember what you say is true.
Help them to let go of feelings
That lead us astray
Help them to know they are what you say.

A child of the King
With a gift from above,
Sent here to create things
That show others your love.
Let us create with purpose
And finish what we start
Making blessings from You
To show the world Your heart. 

I decided to do a crossover piece today between my two platforms(AMOKArts and Beware of Artists) because it’s been a long while since I did a how to video. If you’ve ever looked at something like fabric or wrapping paper you’ve no doubt wondered how they do those repeating patterns. Well I’ve discovered a way to create them in Photoshop and I decided to share the method with all of you. How did I take this…

and turn it into this?

Watch the video and find out.

The Transformative Power of Art

Posted: February 25, 2021 in Uncategorized

The arts have tremendous transformative power. It’s not surprising. It’s a small glimpse of the DNA of God evident in those created in His image. The arts are allowed to speak in places where a sermon can’t, won’t or isn’t allowed to be heard. It’s not a substitute for the preaching of God’s Word, but it might just open the door. So paint that picture, make that film, write that book or that post of that song. Do it the best you can, to the glory of God and send it out into the world, trusting God to do what He will with it. It might just change someone’s life, maybe even forever. It might just change the world.

That’s the transformative power of art.

A Lesson from Rush Limbaugh

Posted: February 24, 2021 in Uncategorized

As I write this (about a week ahead), I have just heard about the passing of a broadcasting legend, Rush Limbaugh. I know some may think I’ve lost my mind. You may want to cancel me just for calling him that. If you do, you might want to read my post on Cancel Culture first. What made him a legend was simple. You could love him or hate him, but you could not ignore him. He was a polarizing figure to be sure, but there was something I loved about him. Don’t cancel me yet, read on, because it is something we can learn.

What I loved about Rush was simple, in a world full of agenda driven media that feigns neutrality, Rush admitted his bias. He had a point of view that colored how he saw the world and he admitted it. Love him or hate him, you knew where he stood. Christians have to be like that too. 

Relax, I’m not talking about politics. I’m talking about faith. I have a bias. My bias is Jesus. My bias is the Word of God and I don’t apologize for it. I want my faith to color everything I do. I want God’s love to be my calling card, and I want to speak God’s truth uncompromisingly in uncompromising love. There are a lot of Christians out there who are coloring their faith with politics on both sides of the aisle. That will never work. Politics are led by politicians and politicians are flawed human beings, even the best of whom will go astray and let us down. We need to be uncompromising followers of Christ. Our faith has to color our politics and every other aspect of life. I couldn’t always say “dittos” to Rush, but let me always say it to Jesus. 

When Things Don’t Work Out…

Posted: February 23, 2021 in Uncategorized

Confession time. I try to be appreciative of all that God does. I try to remember that God is God and I am not, and most of the time I am starting to get it right, but…

I am a snow curmudgeon. There I said it. You want to ruin my day, dump a big pile of snow on me. I know, I know, I’ve seen the meme. If you choose not to like the snow, you will not enjoy it but you will still have the snow. This is almost universally posted by those insane people who like to strap boards to their feet and slide down mountains at breakneck speeds or by people who complain about the heat (Mental note: I need to remember to make a meme about that.) 

The thing is those people are right. 

Oh don’t get me wrong, as I write this the snow is falling hard outside again. There is a funeral tomorrow of someone I held very dear. COVID already limited the number of people allowed to come to her service and now it looks like the weather will keep even more away. And yet, if she was here, she would probably one marveling at how beautiful the snow is. Maybe I just need to trust that God’s got this and knows what He is doing.

Of course He does. He is God. In this life, especially the creative life, things are not always going to be ideal, and we have a choice to make. We can lament that everything is not ideal or we can press on, do the best we can and remember that we have a loving God who knows the exact right thing to do every time. Ultimately that is the better choice. 

When things don’t work out as you planned, trust God and do the best you can.

Cancel Culture

Posted: February 22, 2021 in Uncategorized

Lately it seems like almost everyone is getting cancelled. Fall out of step with the “conventional wisdom” (which is often neither) and you run the risk of being labeled something bad or canceled altogether. I made the comment on someone who was lauding a move of the cancel culture, that “Cancel culture is not compatible with grace and forgiveness.” The person quickly responded that Christians have been doing it for years. My response was, “My response stands.” meaning whether or not some Christians have done it does not change the fact that cancel culture is not compatible with grace and forgiveness. Let’s face it, Christians have not been immune from behaving badly, but cancel culture is still bad behavior. Do we really want to live in a world where sin is not forgiven? For that matter, do we want to live in a world where sin is determined by the whims of the shifting sand culture? I know I don’t. 

Instead why not follow Jesus? He came and died to cancel sin and death and hell and the grave. He came so that we could be forgiven. God gave us His Word (among may other reasons) so we would have an objective standard of right and wrong set by the only One qualified to set the standard. The One who knows the end from the beginning, the ramifications of every choice. He also knows how everything works and what works and what doesn’t within what He has created, and Ade has created everything! The end ramification of the cancel culture is going to be devastating. 1984 predicted it. The Bible predicts it better. “For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead they will try to satisfy their own desires. They will gather a large number of teachers around them to say what their itching ears want to hear.” 2 Timothy 4:3. If something doesn’t change, the true church will be threatened by the cancel culture. We are already seeing it happen in places. Oh there will still be a “church,” but it will have preachers in pulpits lauding the shifting sands of culture, rather than the truth of God’s Word. Jesus taught about building on shifting sand. Sooner or later the storm comes and if falls. We need to build on the rock. 

If we are wise, we will cancel cancel culture and replace it with grace and forgiveness. We will learn to love our neighbor, work through difference with the counsel of God’s Word and speak God’s truth in love. We will bear with one another in love, share the Gospel and trust that the Holy Spirit will lead us into all truth.

The question is are we wise? The book of Revelation seems to say, “no” and that this will continue until Jesus returns and sets all things right. What should we be doing? Living with love and forgiveness, loving our neighbors, and speaking God’s truth in love. That will always be the right thing to do. 

Self Care for the Creative

Posted: February 21, 2021 in Uncategorized

I can’t speak for you, but I gained weight over the pandemic. The gyms were closed, there was a lot more working from home and quite frankly it was just difficult psychologically. One of the things I did was lost myself in work. It helped me to keep my mind occupied and in fairness I was blessed to do some good work and ministry during this time, but there was an area I neglected, my health.

It was too easy to grab a snack, not because I was hungry, but because I was unsettled, or bored or blocked creatively and sometimes frankly just because… It became too easy

 to say I was busy and that I’d get to exercise later. At times it was even like I was saying, “What’s the point?” Here’s the point, I only get one body and when I heart it out all the work ends. Now I do believe God has my days numbered, and that all of this could be for naught, but I also know that the one thing I see as an extremely high value for God is faithfulness. One of the first things God gave humanity was dominion over creation, to subdue it and care for it. Well this one body God has given me is part of creation. I believe this means He wants me to care for it. Up until the resurrection of the body, this is the only body I will ever have. This is the one that will help me to accomplish all that God has in store for me, and I need to use it wisely—a lot more wisely than I have been. 

Exercise and eating better is all part of this, but there’s more. I have lived this creative life long enough to know that burying myself in my work is a short cut to the danger zone. Before long I will be taking to my art table or my lap top, what I should be taking to the Lord. Spiritual disciplines are incredibly important to self care and it’s important that these things don’t just become another accomplishment I can shock off my list. (Is anyone else feeling convicted?) Prayer and Bible study, among the other “disciplines” are more than just something to be done, they are a connection with the source of my power. More than that they are my time of connecting with the One I’m supposed to love the most. 

Look accomplishment is a great thing. Getting things done and finishing what you start are really important. One could even argue they are part of faithfulness to God and His call, but why are we called? I would say it’s to be in relationship with God. So if I am doing all the doing at the expense of the relationship, not to mention my own health, I’m missing the point. The Westminster Shorter Catechism has some words that are very appropriate here. The chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. Self care is taking care of what God has given me and acknowledging that it is God who does the real work. I can’t afford to fall into the place where I feel like it all depends on us. I need to learn to depend on God. How about you?

If you feel the need to fight me on this, take care, you may be heading for tough space. 

Take care. 

Why Do You Do What You Do?

Posted: February 20, 2021 in Uncategorized

I just started reading one of my Christmas gifts, the book Drive by Daniel Pink. In Drive, Pink looks at what motivates us. Surprisingly, rewards such as money are not always the best motivators and can even be detrimental. One of the examples he post forward was two innovations that came out at the same time. One created my a multinational corporation and the other by a band of volunteers. One had all paid, “highly qualified” contributors while the other was created solely by people who were just wanting to do the project. On paper, it appears that there would be no contest as to which one would be the most successful. One was created by Microsoft and available for purchase, the other was created by said volunteers and made available on the internet for free. The Microsoft product was a digital encyclopedia called Encarta, and you can probably guess the other product was Wikipedia. The point is, it almost alway comes down to more than money. There’s an intrinsic motivation to be considered. I’ve had jobs that paid me well but try as I might I could not find the passion of the things that I do that I feel make a real difference in this world. I don’t make art for the financial rewards. I create art because it brings me joy and I have learned how to use it as a tool for what really fires my passions, helping people to come to know and love the Lord Jesus Christ. Secondly, I create work for the satisfaction of doing something well and the knowledge that I am growing in my skills. When all is said and done, money pays the bills and we all need it, but hopefully we are all creating for something more.

Why do you do what you do? This question is worth exploring.

Someone very dear to me was involved in a situation that was tragic. What was more tragic was how the media spun the story. They made a point of vilifying everyone involved. Rather than telling us what happened, they told us what to think and they were wrong. It was heinous and inexcusable, but that’s passes for journalism these days. If it bleeds it leads and never let the facts get in the way of a good story. Praise God vindication came and prayers were answered, but the healing continues.

Why do I share this? Because the truth does not need to be spun. We who are Christian, and especially those of us with creative gifts, have been entrusted with the greatest true story ever told. It’s a story of salvation and redemption, sin and repentance, and mainly it’s a story of love, and, again, it’s absolutely true. How we communicate it matters. You see truth is both powerful and fragile. Truth has the power to change lives and even the course of history, but add to it or subtract from it and you run a very real risk of destroying it. Truth can stand on it’s own. We don’t need to put a spin on it, we just need to tell it.

There are a million truthful ways to tell this story. There are a lot of aspects to call out and a thousand wonderful things to share. What we need to be careful of is that we don’t try to slant the story to serve any purpose but God’s purpose, because His purpose is the only one that matters. When we try to advance any agenda but His, we corrupt the Gospel. In the midst of our call to creatively share the Gospel, we dare not get creative with the truth itself or we run the risk of making it no longer true.

The Truth Doesn’t Need to Be Spun.