Archive for March, 2022

This book is one of the most comprehensive books on creativity in the church I have ever read and considering creativity in the church is my field of research, this is saying something. Scott McElroy is not just a theoretician. He has real world experience in creative ministry for many years. I know or have met many of the people he quotes and cites in this book and they are all “the real deal.” If you are considering any involvement in creative ministry, whether as an artist or a church leader wanting to start a creative arts ministry in your church, you have got to read this book. Highly recommended.

This week I continue my Easter Series Witnesses of the Passion with Pontius Pilate. This Pagan governor is thrust into the Passion story seemingly against his will, and the fact that he repeatedly tried to release Jesus, leads to a lot of interesting questions. Check it out.

A Picture Is Worth…

Posted: March 25, 2022 in Uncategorized

They say a picture is worth a thousand words and it’s pretty true, and, if anything, a thousand is pretty low. How long would it take you to describe something you have seen? I mean sure you could give an oversimplification, but to truly do the scene justice would take an almost infinite number of descriptors. I think of my friend Glenn Riegel. Glenn is a photographer par excellence. I was looking at a photo he had taken recently at a local nature preserve. At the time he took the picture about 50,000 snow geese were sitting on the lake. He took the photo just as many of them had simultaneously taken flight. The photo was astounding. I tried to show it to my mother on the two inch view screen on my phone and she thought it was gravel, that’s how many birds where there the white and gray tones of the flying birds all but blocked out the sky. Viewed as the picture was intended to be viewed, one can see the intricacy of the flight. How these birds did not collide with each other was something to behold. As you can see my words are pitifully failing to capture the essence of what I saw, but were you to see the photo, you would understand it instantly. That is the power of a picture. (You can see Glenn’s amazing photography at

The power of a picture is infinite, and if the Lord has given you the ability to create visuals, He has given you a power to communicate. Don’t neglect that gift. There’s an old confucian saying that says, “What I hear, I forget, what I see I remember, what I do, I understand.” Now please don’t take from this that I am diminishing the power of the spoken word, especially when the spoken word is the Word of God being preached. The Holy Spirit has endowed the preached word of God with power, but imagine what would happen if you incorporated pictures with the words. Now abstract concepts can be more clearly understood, because they can be seen. Pictures help people to understand. I think back to the time in school when I was learning (to some degree) algebra. I was failing at it miserably and I hated it. The following year, I was going to be taking geometry and my teachers were concerned that I would fail because of my struggles with algebra. Truth be known, I did well in geometry. Do you know what the difference was? I could see geometry and because I could see what the numbers were doing, the numbers made sense.

What if we added pictures to the way we communicate the Gospel in church? Maybe it’s through photographs of God’s creation, maybe it’s a painting of a biblical scene it might even be something abstract that is just designed to touch hearts and emotions. Of course, visual art is just one way to do this. Drama, film and dance can all enhance the worship experience. It can help people to remember, understand and retain what is being taught. I know it seems redundant and maybe a little obvious, but visuals help people to see. Let’s put them to use.

Case in point. In this easter season, I am doing a series called Witnesses of the Passion. It’s all about the people who were involved in the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. Each week I prepare a message and part of that message involves be portraying the person as they speak to what happened in their part of the story. Now I’m not one for wearing costumes, and things like that. Instead I have made paintings of the various people being discussed. This week’s message in on Pontius Pilate and while I flesh out the story, the dialogue is straight from the Gospels. To illustrate this, I have created slides that have Pilate and Jesus, along with an image of the crowd that was outside Pilate’s home that day, attributing the passages (with references) to the people who said them. My hope is that as I am speaking, the people will experience the story as it happened and that these two dimensional images on the screen will help them to “picture” what happened.

Here is a sample slide.

I’m working on a study on creative ministry and so seeing one of the great artists and authors of the last century having written a book on faith and art, I became most intrigued. Madeleine L’Engle is the author of the classic book A Wrinkle In Time among many others. She wrote Walking on Water as a sort of treatise on what it means to be a Christian artist. It wasn’t quite what I expected and in many ways it was more. This is a book where art, the Christian faith and philosophy merge. Her thoughts are challenging and intriguing and I came away realizing that I need to go even deeper in my thinking on this topic. I highly recommend this book, especially to those who are interested in the arts and the Christian faith.

I know I have posted this clip before and I post it again here without apology.

WATCH THIS VIDEO… Every time I watch this it chokes me up. Van Gogh. The great artist, one of the greatest and all most people know about him is cutting off his ear. Pity. Today his paintings sell for millions, nut he only sold one in his lifetime (and not for millions) before dying (many say by his own hand) at the age of 37. In this little clip from Dr. Who, of all places, Van Gogh gets to travel through time to hear what people think of him today. This clip is transformative, but it begs a question. Time travel is impossible. Who needs to know today how much you value them? Don’t put it off.

For our Easter series, we will be looking at the stories of some of the people who were witnesses to Jesus death, burial and resurrection. I will be attempting to do parts of the message from the perspective of these people, as if I were them. Today’s witness is Simon of Cyrene. He has only three verses in all of scripture devoted to Him. One verse in each of the three synoptic Gospels that all relate to the same incident, but what a world changing incident it was.


Posted: March 16, 2022 in Uncategorized

I really do not like antiheroes. I was starting to think I was the only one, but as part of my research for an upcoming project, I started to read Walking on Water by Madeleine L’engle and she laid out what I have been thinking. Here’s what she had to say:

“Children don’t like antiheroes. Neither do I. I don’t think many people do, despite the proliferation of novels in the past few decades with antiheroes for protagonists. I think we all want to be able to identify with the major character in a book—to live, suffer, dream, and grow through vicarious experience. I need to be able to admire the protagonist despite his faults and so be given a glimpse of my own potential.”

and then she laid out more.

“We don’t want to feel less when we have finished a book; we want to feel that new possibilities of being have been opened to us. We don’t want to close a book with a sense that life is totally unfair and that there is no light in the darkness; we want to feel that we have been given illumination.”

I am loving this book and I completely resonate with her thoughts on this. We really don’t need any anti-heroes. Rather we should step up and be heroes representing the ultimate Hero!

In this week’s message, we will explore one of the most famous stories in the world. The Good Samaritan… There’s more there than you think.

Guard Your Heart

Posted: March 12, 2022 in Uncategorized

So the other day I filled my gas tank. I was at about a quarter tank and it cost $66 to fill it. I had done the same thing the previous week with roughly the same amount of gas and was between $50 and $55, so my expenses rose between $11 and $16 in one week. I have to admit I was flabbergasted. So much so, that I posted about it on Facebook. The response was interesting. A few people expressed empathy. Some came just short of suggesting I buy a Prius and suggested that giant trucks might not be the best choice right now. Now in past years, the only non-semi vehicles that cost that much to fill were the really big pickups. I don’t have one of those. Because of my traveling arts ministry, I drive a minivan. Others were quick to try to make what I said political, rushing to the defense of the people for whom they voted. My intent wasn’t politics, it was sticker shock.

I pulled the post. It wasn’t necessarily what I wanted to do. I wanted to rush to my own defense. I wanted to rail into my own opinions on the cause of all of this. I’ve spent most of my life as a cartoonist, and I am well in touch with the poison pen, but I’m also a minister of the Gospel and that is more important than proving my point, defending my bruised ego or skewering someone else’s argument. I could have added to the ugly but instead I realized I needed to guard my heart. Someone else took me to task for being silent on political matters. The thing is, I spent a lot of years trying to change people’s politics. It never worked. And then one day I came under conviction, politics is powerless to change hearts. Going political may satisfy my desire to be right, but it won’t bless anyone and it won’t point people to Jesus. I won’t lie. For me the temptation to whip out the poison pen is huge, but I wasn’t called to wield a poison pen. I was called to take up my cross. Does that mean I won’t speak out on things that are wrong? Absolutely not. The temptations are huge to lean on my own understanding. I need to guard my heart. How about you?

Can You Write a Book?

Posted: March 9, 2022 in Uncategorized

I think a lot of people would like to write a book and any more probably have at least one book in them but something about it just feels daunting. I think it is the sheer volume of work and writing, but today I want to try to give you a different perspective. I’m a pastor. Since the onset of COVID I have taken a different tactic. Where before I created notes for my sermons and as longs I could read them well enough to preach from that was all that mattered. When COVID happened I was concerned. I figured out simple ways to get met messages online and many people appreciated them. The difficulty is I minister to an older congregation and quite a few really faithful saints, people who were here every time the doors were opened before the pandemic, were not online and had no access to the online services. I tried to find a way to minister to them and the only thing I can think of was to write my sermons out and mail the to those who didn’t have internet access. Interestingly, I thought this was a pale substitute, but the people loved it and many distribute these messages far beyond themselves. In some ways it feels like it has been more successful as an outreach tool than the online presence, but that’s not really where we’re going with this.

To get a sermon that lasts about a half hour, I need to write about 3500 to 4000 words. I do that at least 50 times a year. The average non-fiction book is about 50,000 words. This means I write 3.5 to 4 books worth of material per year every year. Suddenly it seems a lot more manageable, but I know what you might be thinking. “Preaching is your job, I do something else for a living. It’s apples and oranges.” That may be the case, but let’s think about this a little bit. You don’t need to write four books a year, you just want to write one. Again I think what keeps most people from writing a book is the daunting number of words, and 50,000 does feel like a lot of words. In school I remember writing 500 word essays and sitting there counting all the words and struggling to hit the 500, and sometimes I think that’s where the intimidation comes from. Consider this, til I finish this post, it will be right around 500 words, which for me is about average. For this year, my goal is to post at least 3 times a week. That’s 1500 words a week. 50,000 is 100 times 500. At 1500 words a week, a very manageable goal, you can finish your book in less than 34 weeks. The point is like any other large goal, if you break it down into manageable pieces, it suddenly becomes much easier. Case in point, my current project is my doctoral dissertation/project. The book portion is going to be a little larger, probably around 75,000 to 100,000 words. I have broken it into 25 chapters. Now with all the research required, these chapters will take a bit longer, but I have set a goal of a chapter a week. I won’t always be able to hit that, but even in trying it keeps me on task and moves me closer to our goal.

The point is simple, you can write a book, you just have to write it down in manageable sized bites and then take those bites one at a time. Don’t make the goal all or nothing so missing the goal feels like defeat, just keep moving forward until you reach the goal. I’ll say it again…

You can write a book!