Archive for the ‘Great Artist in Action’ Category

Phil Hansen is one of the most innovative guys out there making art today. He’s also sort of a creation of the YouTube generation as he creates his work on video and often when he is finished the original piece is destroyed. Such is the case with his latest piece. I don’t know why he did this one and I imply no political message from my site anyway, I just can’t believe how cool this came out.

Here are a few more



There are people who will be quite confused at how this 53 year old minister of the Gospel is so enamored with a rock band, as I am with the band Rush. They’re not a Christian band. We won’t be singing their songs in worship any time soon and some of the things that they have written would probably even run afoul of my beliefs and what I preach. So why am I still among their fans?

Well you know how sometimes music can take you back to times and places? That’s how it is with me. Their music takes me back to when I was 16. The first time I saw them live, but I’ve talked about that before. Today I want to talk about one song in particular. A 22 minute magnum opus of rock and roll called 2112. This song not unlike a symphony has movements and these movements tell a story, a sort of rock opera if you will and even if you won’t. For me this song was liberating. I was broken, I was hurting, I was a mess and I was an artist in a world that told me I couldn’t be an artist. Then I heard this song—a song about a young man in an oppressive society who finds a guitar and learns to play it. Learns to make music, beautiful music. He takes it to the powers that be, thinking he has found something that will change his musicless world for the better. They trash his discovery and tell him to go and find a way to make himself useful to the average. My heart so resonated with this story and in a way it still does.

You see I have a very low view of average because I don’t think any of us were created to be average. I think we were all created and gifted to be exceptional. I think the best thing we can do (next to finding salvation) is to lift ourselves out of mediocrity, develop our best gifts and be remarkable. And even greater thing we can do is turn around and inspire, encourage and support someone else to do the same. I get the sense that we were not created to wallow. We were created to rise above. We were created to do great things in the service of God and our fellow man. We were created to come into relationship with other people of varying giftings to do even greater things in community than we can on our own to the honor and glory of God. These relationships are what the church (the body of Christ) is intended to be. Church we are in this world to be exceptional in all areas, but especially in the areas of love and good deeds. These places we meet in are called sanctuaries and that is exactly what they should be. Places where people can come and learn and grow and get healing and become exceptional.

I don’t know that that’s what those three guys from Canada intended when they wrote that song, but long before I knew this Jesus that I serve, that song showed my 16 year old heart a glimmer of the vision I have for the life I want to live, a life of creating and telling the story and inspiring others to use what they have been given to rise above and live remarkable lives to the glory of God. It may not have been what they intended, but it’s what happened and I am grateful for the inspiration.

What inspires you?

rushtssFor those of you who don’t know, I am a fan of the band Rush. As far as I’m concerned (and I know) many will disagree, they are the greatest band in the history of Rock and Roll. Today I watched them say “Good-bye.” They have retired from touring and possibly completely. Over the course of their last tour, they recorded a documentary called Time Stand Still, chronicling their 40 year career as a band. Maybe it’s because I am a huge fan, but I found it to be quite touching and a great tribute to a great band.

The thing that struck me the most was seeing these guys who I have followed since I was a 16 year old high school junior, a long, long, long time ago, dealing with a major life transition. They started this band when they were 15 years old. Looking at the credits, I realized that these life-long friends have kept many of the same people that have been with them since the beginning. This is more like an extended family than a band and all of the sudden they are at the end trying to figure out what to do next for the first time in a long time.

True, they don’t have to do anything. They’ve had a long and stories career that includes being inducted into the rock and roll hall of fame, but they’re artists and that’s not the kind of thing you quit. Many of you can relate, I know I can. One other thing that I saw was their reason for retirement. They simply have come to the point of realizing they can’t do the quality of music, (especially the drummer, Neil Peart) for the rest of their lives and so they decided to go out when they were still at the top of their game. I can respect that as well.

There was something else. More than just about the band, this documentary was about their relationship with their fans. Their fans are extremely loyal. There were people in the video that had seen the band live well over 100 times. (I’ve “only” seen them eight times.) Listening to these people talk, I came away realizing something, they matter to the band, and the band matters to them. The work that they’ve done matters to the people that love their work. It made me wonder “Does my work matter?” Maybe you’ve asked that question too.

Notice I didn’t say “Do I matter.” My wife, kids, family and especially my Lord proved that a long time ago, but what about my work? Does it matter? Now I’m not looking for the kind of scale that Rush has achieved. They took their path and they did their work and they have reaped their benefits. No what I want to know is does my work matter to the people who love what I do. Does what I am doing matter to the people who take the time to read it, buy it and listen to it. Am I a blessing to the people who give me their most valuable of resources, their time. I want to bring my best to everything I do, and when I can no longer do it, I want to lay it aside.

Time doesn’t stand still, no matter how much we’d like it to. The best thing I can do is work hard and finish well. That’s the best you can do too.

Here’s their song, Time Stand Still, just because.

This is a brilliant presentation from a brilliant artist that pretty much nails the meaning of Christmas.

This guy is one of the best.

I have to say OK Go! might be the most innovative/creative video band in the world. The stuff they come up with is insane.

Check out this video for their song The One Moment and be inspired.

I just saw this video and it blew my mind. An artist speed painting the Iwo Jima Monument while singing the National Anthem. This man is quite a talent.

P.S. Please don’t ask me to sing while I paint, no one wants to hear that!

For this Sunday morning, I thought I’d share a video from my friend, singer/songwriter LeahJ singing about my lifelong home Pennsylvania. She does a beautiful job of capturing why it is such a great place to live.

I first met Leah in Florida. One of the things I really enjoy is getting to go to Florida every other year or so. Leah’s dad Ray Hileman, would bring me down to speak at a few churches in the dead of winter. I have to admit I really don’t have a great appreciation for winter. When Leah first told me she really wanted to move back to PA, I couldn’t fathom why, (I still harass her about it from time to time as the snow piles up.) This is an example of telling a better story. It shows gratitude for God’s provision and creation and to sum it up in one word, home.

Leah has a music ministry that is really wonderful and she is a talent that needs to be discovered. Check out her other music and other info at

The other day I heard this wonderful song from Casting Crowns and thought I have to share this. The song is not new to me, it just had been out of sight, out of mind for a while. To me this song represents where I find myself a lot of the time and I’m guessing you probably do too. We’re better than we were, but nowhere near where we want to be.

The most telling line in the whole song is a line that asks God a painfully poignant question. Just how close can I get Lord, to my surrender, without losing all control. Isn’t that really where we’re at? We want to surrender all, we really do, but we fear what will happen if we give Him control. The truth is control for us is an illusion. Surrendering all to God is the wisest thing we can do, and we know it. but for some reason it’s really hard to do it. There are things we want to control.

I remember a time in my life when I had a life threatening illness. In the midst of that, my heart and mind were drawn to my youngest son, ten years old at the time. My oldest was a grown man by this point. He’d be okay, but my youngest, he was still a little boy. “If I die, what will happen to him?” “Who will raise him?” Everything I thought I controlled was in question. I felt God in my Spirit reminded me that He loves my son more than I do. I wanted so bad to control that outcome, but I couldn’t. I needed to trust him and everyone else I love to the One who loves them more and I still do. How close can I get? As long as I am holding onto control I am not fully surrendered and fully surrendered is where I need to be.

Until I get there, I’ll be caught in the middle. This song will challenge you. Listen to it and ask God to show you the areas you’re still trying to control.

I’m spending most of the day on the road today, but I saw this on Facebook and I had to share it. This is best described as incredible.

The Vimeo page for the video describes the project this way.
In short, this project explores a completely new way to knit.
The knitting is done by hand, on a primitive circular loom; a few thousand meters of continuous black thread are knitted as straight lines across the circumference, in a pattern dictated by a specially designed algorithm. Note that there is a lot of computing involved in the process of making, but, the final artwork carries absolutely no technology.
Although any digital picture can be converted to a knitting pattern of this type, portraits are the most interesting themes. Despite the extreme limitations of the design, the depicted faces are still recognizable, but inevitably appear fuzzy and smudged; a large degree of uncertainty about the characteristics and the emotions of the depicted persons is inducted.
The project challenges our perception of reality and serves as a comment to our limited understanding of our world.
The first series of knitted portraits is based on El Greco’s expressive figures.

You’ve got to see this to believe it.

Today I witnessed something miraculous. Maybe not on the level of feeding 5,000, but feeding 1500, not with loves and fishes but with Hot Dogs, and providing backpacks and school supplies to about 500 people. I was amazed. I was asked to provide one of my programs for a literacy day with the Kittaning, PA Salvation Army. I wasn’t sure what to expect, I have ministered with my friends in Kittanning several times and they always do a great job with everything they do, but this one went the extra mile. They blessed a whole community. What makes this even more impressive is they did all this work in a church that has between 40 and 50 people. Their leadership team never ceases to impress.

This was great creative ministry at it’s finest and the result was a lot of blessed people. The way this group works is an art form in the truest sense of the word and it’s is miraculous how a small group of people can do amazing things working together. Kudos to Amber and Jason Imhoff and the folks at the Kittanning Salvation Army. I’d say, “Well done,” but that’s someone higher’s job!

We can learn a lot from these folks.