Archive for April, 2021

God Is Creative…

Posted: April 30, 2021 in Uncategorized

I’m currently working on a research project on creative ministry. I started reading a book called Limitless: God’s Creative Mandate for His Church and I saw this message on our Lord that is pure Gold. Speaking of the first verse in the Bible, Author Charity Bowman Webb writes:

“In the very first line of the Bible, we discover the primary thing God chooses to reveal to us about His character and ability in that He is a “Creator,” in the act of creating; therefore by definition He is ‘creative.’ God is never meaninglessly random, so the initial line of His Word contains a crucial message to us beyond the obvious information. Creativity is part of the nucleus of God’s nature, the desire and ability to bring into being something that was not there before. Just a few verses later He says that we will be like HIm. We will have His DNA. Therefore a very obvious conclusion would be that we carry Godly creative ability in some way. We have become so removed from the understanding of what the creativity of God is within us and the possibilities of it through us, that this now bears little meaning to many Christians.

In the world immediate to us, familiarity often causes us to bypass the astonishing Creation of God surrounding us; the diversity of each leaf, the song of the birds, the rhythm of the waves, the multiple shades of red in a lone petal. Sometimes the breaking dawn or a remarkable foreign landscape can reawaken awe suddenly as we are reminded of the sheer creative and stunning complexity of the world around us. Investigation into the areas of science, anatomy, astronomy or the animal kingdom leave us in total wonderment of the intricacies set in place to sustain life and beauty. (Psalm 96:13 NIV)”

I was blown away by these paragraphs the first time I read them. It’s not that it’s anything I haven’t observed before, but it is true. We are surrounded by the greatest art in the world. In a way the greatest art is the world since it is the totally functionally work of the greatest work ever. We cannot afford to take His work for granted. Neither can we ignore the fact that an example of His greatest masterpiece looks back at us from the mirror. God has entrusted us with creativity. It is one of the ways we are created in His image. Living with humility is Godly and biblical, but don’t you dare downplay what God has created, or what He chooses to create through you. Instead, do your best work and offer it up to the Lord. He is good and He is faithful.

I am not very far in this book yet, but that is largely because I have to stop and keep making notes about what the author is saying. She has written a wonderful book here (at least so far). If you are interested in creative ministry, you may want to pick this one up.

Ahead of My Time…

Posted: April 29, 2021 in Uncategorized

One of the things people have said to me very often in my life is, “You’re ahead of your time.” It was meant as an affirmation and I loved them for it. There were times where it appeared to be true. People could come up with things that vaguely looked like things I had done years before, and I would say, “Hey, would you look at that.” Occasionally, I would even get upset wondering why success had “eluded me” while they had a hit with something I could have done. (Keep those last four words in mind. We’ll get back to them.) Was I ahead of my time? Are any of us really ahead of our time? For that matter, can we really be ahead of our time? While I really love the people that said that to me as an affirmation, I think I am going to have to say, “No!” 

You see the Lord, selected the time we were to be born and all the days of our lives were written in His book before one of them came to be. This means quite simply, God hand picked the exact time you and I would live, we are not ahead of our time, we are living in our exact time. Put another way, your time and mine, is now, and to paraphrase Mordecai from the book of Esther, “you were born for such a time as this.’ This is your time—today—right now! The Sovereign God in His sovereignty saw to it that you would be alive in this time frame, The question then becomes, “What are you going to do about it?”

Let’s go back to those aforementioned four words, “I could have done.” Could I have done the things others succeeded with? I suppose, at least in the sense that I had the talent and ability. However, there is a big difference between “Could have done” and “did!” I could have done it (arguably) but the other person actually did it. They put in the blood, sweat and tears. They did the work and as such they reaped the rewards, while I, at the very least, stopped short of the goal. I have no one to blame but myself… or maybe God.

Okay, now that I have your attention, let me explain. I have had several times in life, where I believe I was pretty close to a breakthrough that would have brought me a lot of worldly success, and in those moments, something always seemed to go “wrong.” Notice “wrong” is in quotes. “Wrong” in this case means I didn’t end up getting the success or accolades I envisioned getting and someone else got them instead, but was that really wrong? I know for a fact that at the time I was in, I was so sold out to becoming a famous artist, that I was a total mess. I was sacrificing all else on the altar of success and fame, and if God had let me succeed in that place, I would have lost everything else, and those were the things that really mattered. Sometimes God in His mercy allows us to fail, to save us from ourselves. I believe with all my heart that this happened to me and I praise Him for it. I believe God let me fail, because He had something better for me, and I would have lost it if He had given me what I thought I wanted.

Of course there is a way we can be ahead of our time. I was a little kid, somewhere between six and ten years old, and I knew exactly what I wanted to do with my life. I wanted to make art and tell stories. Throughout all of life, in one way or another I would always end up coming back to that. At some times I thought it would happen by me becoming an entertainer. Then later I thought it would happen if became a comic artist. What I had no idea about was that God would one day call me to ministry and teach me how to use art and storytelling as a tool. That thought had never even crossed my mind. Yet all along the way, using my 2020 hindsight, I can see how God was preparing me. Some positions taught me valuable skills. Some helped me to meet people who would move me forward. Some just paid the bills, and a few positions even taught me things I didn’t want. Painful moments gave me compassion. Discouragement and disappointment helped me to get stronger. And then one day I met Jesus and things started to fall into place. There were times along this journey where I wanted to jump the gun and skip steps. Truth be known that would have put me in the wrong kind of “Ahead of my time” and would have no doubt caused some painful course corrections. The thing is all of my life, God was preparing me for this time, the time in which He put me. 

I could not have asked for a better life or calling. I’m not ahead of my time, but I am having the time of my life and I finally know that God is preparing me for life in this time. 

Fulfilling the Law

Posted: April 28, 2021 in Uncategorized

This week my message dealt with Matthew 5:17-20 where Jesus spoke about how he didn’t come to abolish the law, He came to fulfill it. I thought I would share it here.

Different is usually good and making a difference is often a very commendable thing, but there’s different and then there’s different. An example of this is a recent Liberty Mutual Commercial. You’ve likely seen it. There is a guy standing on the pier with what appears to be a hot dog cart, except instead of selling hotdogs, he is selling wet teddy bears. To my mind this goes from different to “different.” They are trying to differentiate themselves from other insurance companies I suppose, but to my mind this goes beyond differentiation to downright strangeness. It’s not just different, it’s different. Were I doing the commercial, I would have made the wagon delivering a superior food, something that is so far above and beyond a hot dog that it would be beyond comparison. The reason for this is simple. A wet teddy bear is something nobody wants. Rather than showing me how they are better than their competitors, they show me something that I probably wouldn’t want. If I were going to buy insurance, I would want the best insurance possible, like a filet mignon rather than a hot dog. I’d want the filet mignon of insurance, not the wet teddy bear of insurance. There’s different and then there’s different.

Likewise, we Christians are supposed to be different. The Bible calls us a peculiar people. We are meant to stand out and we are meant to shine. What we have to be careful is that we are the right kind of different. When we live truly God honoring lives, we will stand out. Not everyone will like it, and in fact some will hate us for it, but it won’t be because we are wet teddy bears. It will be because we look like Jesus in a world that doesn’t. We need to make sure that as Christians we differentiate ourselves in positive ways, and that were not just peculiar for peculiar’s sake.

Likewise in our God-honoring work, we need to be creating the best work we can create. This is not about slapping a Jesus label on an inferior product. It’s about creating art that stands out by being the best work we can make and making that work to the glory of God. Nobody wants a wet teddy bear. What they want is people creating from their hearts and souls and offering their best to the Lord and to the people who care enough to give our work their time.

Let’s make sure we’re the right kind of different.

That’s Just Silly…

Posted: April 26, 2021 in Uncategorized

The other day my grandson and I were drawing together. He got out a stuffed animal we got in a crane game some time ago and we both started drawing it. Sometimes creating from “life” can be a great way to develop your skills and working with children can be a great way to expand your creativity, plus it’s a great way to just have fun making art. My grandson calls the toy “Silly.” Here’s my rendition of him.

If I had a dollar for every time I lost time, because I clicked on Facebook, well, I’d have a lot of dollars. Beyond the aforementioned negativity, (see yesterday’s post) it’s just a “time-suck.” Before long you’re scrolling through all sorts of nonsense and losing valuable creative time. Or maybe someone turns on the TV and before long you’re watching 65 different reruns of Impractical Jokers, that you’ve seen before, so you already know what happens and who gets punished. Once again, valuable time gets sucked away from your creativity. Time you’ll never get back. Here are a few ways to overcome distraction.

  1. Prioritize your day. Do not start your day on social media or by turning on the TV. Do your devotions, pray, meditate, exercise and do all the things that will help you and advance your life mission.
  2. Stay on mission. Before you begin every activity, ask yourself this question. Will this activity move me closer to my goals or put me further behind? Schedule your day accordingly.
  3. Do the Work. There is no shortcut to doing the work and distractions will keep you from doing the work.
  4. Lock your technology. Today, a lot of creative work is done on devices, but there are ways to block the distractions that come with these things.
  5. Visualize your life when the goal has been reached. Then go back to the question from number 2.
  6. Time is the great equalizer. From the richest man in the world to the poorest man in the world, from the least successful to the most successful, we all have 24 hours in a day. How we invest those hours at least partially determines whether or not we will succeed. Use your time wisely.

This is might be completely wrong from a grammatical standpoint, but it is oh so right. Break the word. Dis-traction. Traction is the what helps us to move forward. “Dis” takes the word and makes it the opposite. Distraction keeps you from moving forward. Put the distractions behind you and keep moving forward.

This one never fails, at least for me. I can wake up with an amazing idea, and really inspired, but it’s at that point that I have to be really careful what I let into my mind at that point. Negativity will kill it every time. If I let myself get on social media (which is also a distraction, see tomorrow) and the stories on there are distressing, disturbing, or just plain frustrating, chances are, I will be taken out of my creative game. The creative flow can be a very fragile thing, and frustration and negativity will surely disrupt it. Here are some steps you can take to avoid it.

  1. Start right away. When you get inspired and are feeling creative, if it is possible, dig right in. At the very least, write sketch, get as much as you can “on paper” (or whatever media you use) to store up your ideas.
  2. Avoid media and social media. Let’s face it, there is a lot of negative stuff out there, and a lot of people who are all too willing to spout an opinion that is guaranteed to ruin your flow. Avoid it like the plague.
  3. Avoid negative people. Let’s face it we all know “that little rain cloud” that thinks it won’t work, knows it’s impossible and will do everything in their power to keep you mired in gloom. They’re not necessarily bad people, and they may have good intentions, but they will take you off your game every time.
  4. Rest. Nothing will take you negative faster than exhaustion. You need to rest. Record your ideas, and shut down for a while.
  5. Reflect. When negativity comes to call, rather than giving into it, reflect on what you have to be grateful for, until the negativity goes away.
  6. Seek positivity. Positivity is the opposite of negativity. I know that’s incredibly obvious but the best way to combat negativity is to seek out positivity. It’s out there, we just need to find it.
  7. Remember why we do what we do. Making art and doing the things we were created to do is a source of joy for us and an incredible privilege. Sometimes we need to remind ourselves of this. Sometimes the best way to do this is simply to start creating aimlessly until you start to “feel it.”
  8. Remember your purpose. Resistance and negativity are not abnormal in the creative life, and especially in the Christian creative life. If you are doing work that honors God, there will be pushback from the enemy of our souls.
  9. Remember who called you. The Creator of the universe has called you to creativity. You are created in His image and He loves you. He has called you and gifted you with talents of great value. He invested these talents in you knowing what you can and will do. In a way, it could be argued that God believes in you. That should counteract a lot of negativity.

Now I want to put a caveat in here. If you are mired in negativity, you might be dealing with depression and this could be a medical condition requiring treatment. I certainly would never want to minimize there effects of depression. If on the other hand, if “run-of-the-mill’ negativity is cramping your creativity, try some of these nine steps and see what happens. At the end of the day, the creative calling is a very high calling, we need to overcome negativity to get on with one of the ways God has chosen to give life meaning.

Ten Paintings, One Canvas

Posted: April 23, 2021 in Uncategorized

It’s hard for me to believe that this video is something I did ten years ago. I was really experimenting with stop motion animation in my paintings and I created this little piece. It was a blast to do. It’s not overtly spiritual, but I was learning new techniques that I definitely used in other creations as time went on. It’s a little rough at places, but that’s how we learn. Since I made this, some changes in technology have actually made this tougher for me to create, but before long, I believe I will be doing this type of work again.

What creative things would you like to experiment with? These types of experiments can really stretch us creatively. Try something new today.

Speaking of Salt and Light

Posted: April 22, 2021 in Uncategorized

Here is a message I just preached on being salt and light as Jesus calls us to be in Matthew 5:13-16. I pray it blesses and challenges you, and if it does, please share it.

A “Dangerous” Portfolio

Posted: April 21, 2021 in Uncategorized

I’ve decided to start posting some videos showing my process for some of my more pop art pieces. Since a lot of the people I admire from that realm have nicknames, I decided to use “Dangerous” Dave Weiss. Don’t worry, I don’t for a minute think I am dangerous. It’s kind of a joke. When I was a kid my dad would sometimes look at me and say, “If you had a brain you would be dangerous.” Please do not judge him for saying that. It was said out of exasperation because I was doing some pretty “brainless” things. Now you may look at my pieces and think some of them look a little dangerous. Actually they’re not really monsters, though some of them look pretty monstrous. They are creatures. I love to create these things, and at one point, I came to realize that there is a verse in the King James Bible that says, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature…” I love creating creatures even more now, and while the intent of this work is not necessarily always to communicate the Gospel directly, it is created to help me connect to the world of art, a place where I feel called to minister. The following is a collection of my random pop-art weirdness. Please pray that I am able to connect in this world and to be salt and light.