Archive for March, 2023

I’m reading another book for a book study with my friend Jessie Nilo and her ministry called Emerge. By the way if you are into arts ministry, I highly recommend this group. The book is called Daily Rituals: How Artists Work. I’m only about half way through it, but it’s really interesting. It’s filled with short chapters most just a page or two filled with stories and eye witness accounts of many great artists, (of all disciplines, visual art, writing, music, etc.) and how they worked. I’m enjoying the book immensely and it shows me a couple things. First, artists are not all alike, some of these folks did some pretty weird things, while others went at their work like it was a job. Some spent hours and days seeking inspiration while others made their own inspiration by sitting down day after day and doing the work. A lot of them seemed to have taken walks, a habit I need to take up again. All in all it’s really interesting. I’m finding commonality with some of them, finding a few disciplines I would like to try adopting and some things that I find to be just crazy. But all of this is begging a question. What are my daily rituals and more importantly, what would I like my “eye witnesses” to report about me and my life. 

Here’s what I hope it would say. Dave got up early every morning, started off by reading the Scripture and praying for guidance for the day. Then he stepped out daily for a walk and more prayer, (this used to be a regular process for me until busyness started to choke it out and it got easy to rationalize that I don’t have time for it with all the work I have to do.) Dave then went to work, whether at his church office or at home, he spent long hours writing sermons, writing daily blog posts (another discipline that has slipped a little in recent weeks) and creating the art and visual media content that he used to share the Gospel both in person and online. He traveled often preaching and painting, while still making time for his congregation and family. Now here’s the part where I need to improve. When he finished his creative work, he was able to leave it behind to be fully engaged with his family and congregation. 

To be clear I do try to do that last thing, but I often feel unsuccessful. As I look at my list, I realize that my odds of doing it all are probably fairly slim. I often find myself working on projects seven days a week and still not getting it done. To be clear, I do have distractions that need to go, especially in my “off time.” It can be pretty easy to check my socials at night and end up engaged in things I don’t need to be doing. I have dreams and visions and actual projects I want to accomplish in the midst of trying to be the best husband, father grandfather, pastor and artist I can be and in order to accomplish it all, I have to get better in an area where my skills are really deficient, namely delegating things to others and sometimes learning a new word, a two letter word that I really hate, but know I must embrace if I want to leave a legacy. The word is “No.” Sometimes we need to let go of the good to become better at the best. How about you. What would you like people to say about your work habits. 

My Son In His Zone of Genius

Posted: March 29, 2023 in Uncategorized

One of my favorite podcasters, Dan Miller, speaks to the idea of people having a zone of genius. This is the part of a persons life where they are doing their best, most fruitful work.

Last night, I watched my son Chris in his. Chris is a teacher, working at a preschool teaching four and five year olds and preparing them for Kindergarten. He is also a gifted singer and actor. Last night my wife and I attended his school’s Winter program, and when I did, I saw a lot of Chris’ gifts come together. His students were engaged and performing their songs and motions beautifully. They were funny and entertaining, and they did a really great job. I watched Chris in the wings, coaching them and cheering them on and it was beautiful. He was clearly in his zone of genius and everyone could see it.

What is your zone of genius? What is it that you do, where it feels like all of your gifts and talents align and most importantly how can you use that to make a difference in our world and in God’s Kingdom? Finding your zone of genius and putting it to work is a key for us all. 

End of an Era

Posted: March 28, 2023 in Uncategorized

It was October 4, 1997. I was a young artist, husband and father and I was making a royal mess of my life. I was so sold out to being a professional artist that my priorities were completely out of whack. On that day I went to Stand in the Gap, a Promise Keepers even in Washington D.C. and the Lord got a hold of me. On that day I repented of my idolatry to my art and felt a new call, a call to ministry. On the way home, my friend Troy and I were talking music and concerts and we began to discuss a festival called Creation. By the time the festival rolled around, I was doing my first foray into ministry, leading a group to Creation festival. I went back at least nine more times. It was tough at times but I loved it and so many great things happened there. I became the youth leader at the church, met the folks at Interlinc, where I became a writer for them and made several life long friends. It was at Creation where I really got to know the woman who would become my daughter in law. I baptized my son there. I prayed with more than a few people to receive Christ there. It was there that I felt the call to plant a church, moved into pastoral ministry, and gained the experience to start my speaking ministry and more. I even painted a mural on one of their outhouses, which has the dubious distinction of being the piece of my art that has been seen by more people than anyone else.

Today I found that the festival is at its an end, and I must admit, I am struggling a bit. I was sort of hoping to return again to reconnect with so many great memories. I know the people that run the festival are looking to try something new, and I know there is a season to everything under the sun, but this is one I will miss. Thank you Lord for the good you did at Creation and all that you did for me and so many others at that farm in the middle of nowhere PA.

I received this book as a review copy from the publisher. Each month or so, they put out a list of the available titles, from which to select and when I saw this one, I knew I had to pick its up. In this book Dr. Cloud dissects trust, what it takes to have trust, specifically five aspects of trust: understanding, motive, ability, character and track record. He then delves deeply into each of these aspects, using examples from personal relationships as well as business relationships, using real life examples from his many years as a clinical psychologist and leadership consultant. After delving into these aspects, he deals with establishing trust, growing in trust, repairing trust and moving forward in trust. One of the things I appreciated was when he looked at the biblical admonition for forgiveness, and how forgiveness is something we need to do, but there is a difference between forgiveness and trust. While forgiveness should be automatic, trust needs to be earned.

The whole time I was reading this book, I found myself doing two things. First, I found myself looking at my own relationships, both personal and professional, and examining my behavior and my motives in them, namely am I as trustworthy as I need to be, and where do I need work. Secondly, I found myself thinking of people who could benefit this book and its teachings. This book is a must for anyone who finds themselves leading or counseling others. Dr. Cloud is clearly extremely intelligent and well spoken, yet this book also comes across as “plain-spoken,” i.e. Dr. Cloud takes complex ideas and thoughts and makes them very clear and easily understandable. This is a great book.

This week we will look at Judas Iscariot and why he decided to betray Jesus. I think it all comes down to disappointment. Click here to see more.

Perfectionism Is the Enemy…

Posted: March 17, 2023 in Uncategorized

Confession time. I have never in my 30+ years of making art professionally created a piece of art that looks as good as it does in my head. It has yet to happen. Believe me, I will tell you when I do. There have been a few pieces that have come close, but the picture in my head has always exceeded my ability to create it. At times this has been really frustrating. At other times it has made me want to give up. If you’ve felt that way, here’s my advice. DON’T! These thoughts have brought me to a conclusion…

Perfectionism is the enemy of creativity.

Just because you can’t do something perfectly, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. Here’s the thing, there is only one person who can see the picture in your head and that’s you. If you let perfectionism keep you from doing it anyway, you are the only one who will even catch a glimpse of it. The rest of the world will never know. Art is a gift. We share that gift with the world. Holding it in, or even withholding it, because it can’t meet some internal standard deprives the world of your gift.

This is compounded for the Christian artist whose vision is coming from the Lord (the only one actually capable of perfect by the way). I’ll leave you with one other thought. We have never seen a perfect creation from the Lord. I know that sounds like heresy, but it’s not. This world we live in has been corrupted by sin. Even the immense beauty of all we can see that the Lord created has been marred by the effects of sin in our world. Only in heaven and in the new heavens and the new earth will we see God’s creation in its true perfection, but that doesn’t stop Him from creating. Instead He shows us beauty that keeps us looking heavenward. If He doesn’t keep us looking to heaven, to Him and to Christ’s finished work on the cross, if He doesn’t draw us to Himself and coming to faith in Christ, we will never see His perfection, and so He continues to create beauty that gets us to look to Him.

Maybe we Christian artists need to do the same.

This book is incredible. David Limbaugh is an attorney, and as such one would not necessarily expect him to be a theologian, but he is and he has done extraordinary work in this book. The book’s scope is on Paul and the Early Church and it is great. In it’s pages, Limbaugh looks at the conversion and calling of Paul, Luke’s account of Paul’s life from the book of Acts, and then Paul’s letters to the Galatians, 1, 2 Thessalonians, 1,2 Corinthians and Romans. He goes chapter by chapter through each of these books, and it could be seen as something of a commentary, it’s plain spoken nature, really helps the reader to grasp the meaning of the text. Limbaugh’s work is well researched and thoughtful, citing the works of some of the world’s great theologians. To give you some ideas how well researched the book is, the notes section of the book, primarily citing the author’s references is 84 pages. I read this book side by side with my Bible and I have to say it enhanced may understanding of many of these passages. This is a really great book that will help anyone understand the Scriptures better. I highly recommend it.

I was listening to a podcast today on my hobby, plastic model building. They had a special guest on who was talking about a very complicated procedure needed to make your models look even more realistic. I’ve seen the kind of work he is talking about and I have to admit it looks spectacular, but I have a confession. The process he described was so complicated that it would take all the joy out of the hobby for me.

No this is not a post about my hobby. Rather it’s a post about life and the arts. I understand wanting to do our best work, but at what point are we overcomplicating things? At what point are we delving so far into the minutia, accomplishing things few people will notice, diminishing our productivity and stripping all the joy from the process of creating. I realize not everything in the arts is a cost benefit analysis, but is there a point where we can say it’s good enough and move on.

I think overcomplicating things and overthinking them can go hand in hand. I know I find myself thinking about things and at times worrying about things, that are probably not even noticeable to anyone but me. I start to try to put myself into other people’s heads, think of their every objection and try to circumvent them all, when no one ever said a word. Often this can be creatively crippling. In everything I do, I want to give God my best, and I do want to make sure I create from a place of empathy. I want to make sure that I am not unnecessarily offensive or off-putting, but I can overthink and overcomplicate myself into accomplishing nothing. Wouldn’t it be better to create whatever we create to the point where it will serve its purpose and then move on to the next good thing? What if we trusted God to let us know when something is done and good enough? With the illustration from my hobby, there comes a point where the overworking strips the fun from the project. Maybe it would be better to get it to the point where I am happy with it, put it on the shelf and crack open the next box.

I think that’s what I want to do. Overthinking and overcomplicating makes life exhausting.

I received this book from the publisher for review and it far exceeded my expectations. First things first, If I’m ever in Jacksonville, FL on a Sunday morning, I am going to this guy’s church. Joby Martin is pastor of The Church of Eleven22, and wow what a communicator! He is deep and yet very understandable. If this guy ever wrote a paraphrase of the Bible, I would buy it. His short paraphrases of texts explain the text masterfully and with a fair amount of humor. This book was a joy to read.

In Anything Is Possible, the subtitle sums up the book really well. It says, “How Nine Miracles of Jesus Reveal God’s Love for You.” Combining stories from the author’s years of ministry with strong biblical teaching, this book brings tangible evidence of God’s miraculous power and love for us. A sampling of the chapter titles illustrates where he is going. Water Into Wine—Do You Believe Enough to Obey?, The Paralytic—Do You Believe Jesus Will Carry You?, The feeding of the Five Thousand—Do You Believe Even When Doubt Creeps In?, etc. All the stories are very familiar, but Martin brings great insights into them that not only helps you to see them with new eyes, but really brings the applicable truths for our lives to the forefront. This book dealt with some really important topics for people of faith, while also considerate of unbelievers who might be reading. I would go so far as to say it is very evangelistic in tone as well. This book is wall to wall encouragement mixed with challenging questions that really felt like “iron sharpens iron.”

Anything Is Possible will make you believe just that. It is a joy to read, written conversationally, with real depth and a lot of heart. I’ll say it again, Joby Martin is an amazing communicator and I could not recommend this book more highly, especially if you are, or know and love someone going through a trial. Pick it up!

The Third Option

Posted: March 13, 2023 in Uncategorized

One of my favorite stories in Scripture is the story of the woman caught in adultery. In it the Pharisees brought to Jesus a woman who was caught in the act of adultery, and demanded he tell them what should be done with her. Here’s the problem, it was a trap from the word “go.” The Pharisees knew that if Jesus said to let her go, he was in violation of the law of Moses, which would have been a sin, and they would have been able to discredit him as a heretic. On the other hand, at the time of the crucifixion, we see that it was against the law for the Jewish people to put someone to death. For Jesus to tell them to stone her would have made him a criminal in the eyes of Rome. They seem to feel rather confident that they have Jesus locked in a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation.

This is what’s called a dilemma. There are two choices and you are forced to make a choice. Let’s stop there for a second. There are times where a dilemma is unavoidable and a choice must be made. Then there are the other times where you find yourself forced into a dilemma by someone else. In these times, it can often be said that the person probably doesn’t have your best interest at heart. This is the situation Jesus is in, but note what He does. People who do not have His best interests at heart are trying to force His hand in what is clearly a no win situation. Instead of allowing Himself to be backed into a corner. Jesus kneels down and writes in the dirt. He doesn’t say anything at first. Now Jesus is all knowing, so He already knows what to do here, but for the rest of us there is a lesson here. Take a little time to think. Don’t be rushed into making a bad choice. Jesus appears to have two choices, both with bad consequences, a real no win situation, so he doesn’t rush in. The old saying, “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread” really applies here. You don’t need to rush in either.

So Jesus appears to have a choice, command them to let the woman go and lose his credibility (and maybe his life) by violating the law of Moses, or He can say to stone the woman and commit a capital crime in the eyes of the Romans who rule the land at this time. With either choice, there is a very good chance that Jesus would be killed. Worse it could be argued that either of those options may have been sin and thus make it impossible for Him to fulfill His mission of saving the world. What do you do? Jesus took the third option. He said, “Let Him without sin cast the first stone.” One by one, starting with the oldest the men dropped their stones and walked away, This was the third option. Jesus fold the trap. He held up a mirror to the people and they were al pronounced guilty. Then turning to the woman, Jesus said “Where are they? Has no one condemned you.” There was no one standing left standing there, so she said “No one sir.” Then Jesus said “Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.”

Before you fall for a dilemma, seek out a third option.