Archive for February, 2022

The following is an excerpt from my upcoming creative ministry course. In it I speak to how many times people withhold their creations for fear that they are in some way imperfect. As I was working through this point, I thought of Solomon and an online conversation I had with someone on Ecclesiastes. Here’s what came out.

Consider the book of Ecclesiastes. A friend recently asked for an explanation of the book because it didn’t seem to make sense to him. I understood how he could arrive at that conclusion. After all, the books is filled largely with the author speaking about some pretty good and important things and calling them meaningless. The author of the book Is (at least most people agree) King Solomon. How could it be that this book, which often feels pretty hopeless, could be written by one of the most gifted and materially blessed people in the history of the world? My oversimplified explanation stated that Solomon started out to be among the best and the brightest—a man who when offered anything he wanted, by God, asked for Wisdom. God was so impressed by his request that He not only blessed Solomon with wisdom but also included everything else that Solomon had not asked for, wisdom, wealth, peace in his lifetime and the privilege of building God’s temple. He needed to do only one thing, stick with God. 

We have three books written by Solomon and all three are from the part of the Bible called Wisdom Literature. He starts off with the Song of Songs (or Song of Solomon) a beautiful poem espousing the beauty of love. Then we get to what one might call his master work (along with several others, Solomon being the primary author), the book of Proverbs, in which Solomon shares countless timeless truths and words to live by. Somewhere between this book and his final book Ecclesiastes something happened. The most blessed man possibly ever, began to make treaties with the nations around Him, These treaties often came with wives, to the point where Solomon is said to have had 700 wives and 300 concubines—basically a thousand wives.  This was something he was not supposed to do and eventually Solomon was led away from the Lord. This then is the point. Apart from God, you can have everything the world has to offer and it will all end up feeling meaningless, like chasing after the wind. It all leads Solomon to come to the conclusion, “Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13 NIV) 

Consider this. Solomon was immensely blessed by God. In response, he ended up doing the one thing God didn’t want him to do and in the process, Solomon took a massive fall, one that caused him to lose half the Kingdom and divided the nation of Israel. Yet in the process, God taught us all a very important lesson. Everything is meaningless without God and the best way to live our lives is in following and obeying God. Here it becomes clear, God can work through anything and anyone, and the creation He has called you to create does not need to be perfect. When we offer Him our best, He can use it to do exceedingly more than we can ask or imagine. So instead of allowing our perfectionism, or the fear of not being good enough to keep us from delivering what God has called us to do, it is likely far better to offer Him our best and trust Him to use it. After all, no one knows your level of ability better than God and He has called you to do whatever it is you are called to do.

Consider the verse I listed at the beginning of this chapter, once again from the book of Ecclesiastes. “Ship your grain across the sea; after many days you may receive a return.” Ecclesiastes 11:1 This passage has been interpreted in a number of ways, being thought to speak on things from generosity to international trade. I think it relates at least in the part to the way we use our gifts. As states, when includes with the verse that follows, Invest in seven ventures, yes, in eight; you do not know what disaster may come upon the land.” “The passage as a whole communicates the principle of doing as much good as you can, knowing two things: the results are in God’s hands, and you don’t know when you yourself will be in need of someone else’s generosity.” When we create what we have been called and created to create, and we place those creations in God’s hands, He can do more with it than we might imagine. That’s really the point. When God calls us to create, He knows full well what we are capable of creating, and He knows the outcome to come from what He has called us to do. His expectation is not perfection. He knows on our own, we are incapable of that. Rather His expectation is faithfulness. Faithfulness demands that we take what He has given to us, do what He says and put it out for the world to see, trusting the Lord with the return. 

In this week’s message Jesus turns the tables on The Pharisees. Where last week they were asking who Jesus was, this week Jesus looks them in the eye and asks “Who are you?” The messages in this passage (John 8:31-59) are immensely powerful. Check it out.

Tim Keller on Identity

Posted: February 25, 2022 in Uncategorized

Who are you in Christ? What is your identity? Check out this wisdom from Tim Keller.

If I don’t get my identity from Christ, then whatever I get my identity from will become my focus and any time anyone has anything negative to say about what I get my identity of from, it is a reflection of me, a criticism of me. That is death to an artist, and I have lived that death many times. Praise God I finally have an idea who I am in Christ. My work is not me. I enjoy it and try to do it well, but who I am in Christ doesn’t change like the shifting sands of critical approval. It is constant in the One who is the same yesterday, today and forever.

An Artist’s Prayer

Posted: February 23, 2022 in Uncategorized

I’m reading a really interesting book called Kingdom: The Rise of the Creative Church by Andre Anderson. In it’s pages, Anderson wrote a wonderful prayer for artists. I thought I would share it here as I recommend this unusual but excellent little book. The book is structured sort of poetically, reminding me a bit of how the biblical book of Isaiah is structured.

“Father, God of creation.
That you for such a gift,
And entrusting me to fulfill such a task.

It is an honor to be called by You,
and to birth Your intangible thoughts.
Forgive me for every time I underestimated Your creativity,
and esteemed my own.

Renew my mind.
I unlearn everything to be taught by You.
Allow me to have the mind of Christ,
so I can explore your deepness,
and create works fit for a King.
I consider no invention to be my own,
but Now I am a steward of Your ideas/

Give me observant eyes.
Help me to see as You see.
Allow me to see which was,
which is,
and which is to come,
so I can guide Your people effectively.

Give me ears to hear Your voice.
Teach me how to listen.
Tell me when to start.
Tell me when to stop.
Let me be sensitive to Your direction.

I pray you to give me laboring hands.
Enhance my skill.
Whatever these hands work upon,
let it prosper.

Finally, give me a willing heart.
Whatever I create,
help me to speak from my heart to Yours.
Help me to touch the hearts of a people,
whether they are many or few.
Let no sin stop the flow of our synergy.
Purify me.

Shine through the work of my hands.
Shine with the brightness of the Sun.
Let my work be a bridge between You and man.

Whether big or small,
I pray You are pleased with my efforts.
I pray my work gives You glory.

These things I ask in Your name, Jesus.


Posted: February 21, 2022 in Uncategorized

A new video I made based on John 8.

This book is so different and that is a big part of what I loved about it. It’s fairly short with what I like to call bite-sized chapters, able to be digested in short sittings. Structurally, it’s laid out like one of the poetic books of the Bible, similar to Isaiah. The thoughts in here are all related to the creative church, but it’s more than just a call to creativity, it’s a call to honoring God with our creativity, while living righteous lives. Anderson shows many examples straight from the Word that show us people who created faithfully and times when people forgot themselves and started worshipping the creation over the Creator. I absolutely loved this book. To be honest just the artist’s prayer contained with it’s pages is probably worth the cost of the book, but there is so much more here. I really hope this young author writes more books, because this one was extremely innovative and very strong.

I’ve heard people ask from time to time why Jesus had to die. The answer to that question is the essence of the Gospel, and the most important thing any of us can know. I made this video to try to answer the question is the simplest terms.

Getting It Done

Posted: February 14, 2022 in Uncategorized

There is one thing I have noticed, and you’ve probably noticed it too. There are things I love to do and things I do not love to do. The things I love to do are easy to motivate myself for and the thing I don’t love to do, well they are sure to kick my urge to procrastinate into high gear. The thing is, a lot of those “unloved things” are things that really need to be done. For example, I love to go out and speak and paint. I do not love to “sell” those programs. The thing is if no one brings me in, there’s really no point in preparing to speak and paint. So if I want to keep doing what I love to do, I have to discipline myself to do what I don’t love to do. Truth be known, this is a mental problem for me. Speaking feels honorable and sales kind of doesn’t. The thing is that’s not really the case. I have a “product” (my presentations) that I believe in. Further I believe that God has called me to take these presentations out into the world and the church. If this is the case, and I believe with all my heart that it is, the letting people know about my programs (which is what sales really is in my case, and probably yours too) is not dishonorable, it’s faithfulness.

I don’t know how many times I have felt like securing an agent to do all this promotional stuff so I don’t have to, but the truth of the matter is, I am not a big enough fish to get good service out of an agent and besides, no one believes in what I do as much as I do. I am the best person to promote what it is that I do. Further, I really enjoy getting to know the people I am going to be working with, I love hearing their stories, and learning how I can flex my presentation to meet their needs. In my heart, I don’t just want to be a hired speaker, I want to make friends and form relationships. I want to be, even if just for a brief period of time, a part of the team.

Of course there are other aspects of this ministry that I am not overly fond of. I don’t really like crunching the numbers and getting the taxes ready. Of course to skip out on those things could bring a lengthy sentence and ruin everything I have worked for. It may not be something I want to do, but it is something that needs to be done. Fortunately I am blessed with a wife who knows her way around a lot of that stuff and this is the other side of those things we don’t want to do. Sometimes there is someone around us who is gifted for what we find to be drudgery. There is nothing wrong with building a team, as a matter of fact, it’s pretty easy to argue that doing ministry as a team is pretty biblical. Sometimes there are people who can help you to do what you need to do.

One of the things I have found really helpful is to make a weekly list of everything that you need to get done, and then going through throughout the week and checking them off. I have really found this to be a blessing so far this year. Some of the things on that list are things I want to do while others are things I have to do. Checking things off that list, especially the things I don’t really like doing feels like a series of little victories, and little victories are enough to keep us inspired and motivated.

At the end of the day, there are things we want to do and things we need to do, and usually, all of it is what has to be done. So find a way and get it done.

John 8 tells the story of a woman caught in adultery. The religious leaders thought they had Jesus in a darned if you do, darned if you don’t trap, where He couldn’t win either way. Jesus instead found a third way and that made all the difference.

Makoto Fujimura is brilliant and this book is a work of art. It speaks to the idea of a theology of making. I have to admit that it took me a little while to catch on to what he was saying but once I began to understand, it really connected with me. Basically Fujimura is speaking to a focus on the arts as co-creating with God into the New Creation. Where some say that all will burn, Fujimura reminds us that our works will be tested with fire and what we do in line with God’s will will remain and be refined. He uses a combination of the biblical narrative, stories of other artists as well as his stories as well as metaphors related to his own artistic technique and other techniques. This is the kind of book that I will read several times. This is an excellent book.