Archive for the ‘Storytelling’ Category


I went looking for something yesterday. I had mentioned the other day about it having been 20 years since the start of my ministry at the Creation Festival, well yesterday, I took the day and went back. It had been a few years since I was there–I’m guessing about five, but for some reason I was feeling strongly led to go back. I was having a good time, many things were the same, some were really different, but I was starting to feel like maybe I missed something. It was nice, even fun, but I was looking for more—a “bolt-from-the-blue” moment, that seemed to be eluding me. “Oh well, just enjoy the day,” I thought.

The evening portion of the day didn’t go quite as planned. I was going to have to cut my day short. My original plan was to stay through the final performances of the evening, catch a few hours sleep in my van and then make the drive home this morning. That was the plan but we were expecting a delivery, and I had to be home for it. The company decided to call me at the festival and schedule the delivery during a four hour window (who gets a four hour window for anything these days?) that started far too early for me to make the trip this morning, so I had to cut my day short and drove home last night. Now I really thought I missed it.

I went down to the stage for what would be my last band for the night. North Point Inside Out and something started to happen in my Spirit. There’s something about music… Then as I returned to my seat, there would be a worship music set, then the speaker and then I had to drive home. The worship leader started us off by singing Awesome God. Now what you need to know is when I first went to Creation in 98 there were two things I knew for sure. Half the bands would sing Shout to the Lord and every worship “set” would include Awesome God. As I started to sing, it came to me. I was drawn back to another time on that same mountain.

On that particular day I was there by myself, early in the morning, not another person around for “miles” (probably more like hundreds of yards but it felt like miles). I was alone and I was distraught. My ministry was struggling, I was hurting and I was ready to throw in the towel. I wanted something from God. A spiritual gift that would have probably changed my trajectory in life. I was literally begging, and in my spirit, I felt a gentle “No.” Instead I felt the call to “bring the Gospel simply, in a way everybody can understand.” This combination of words and pictures that I’ve been blessed to live out has been the result and yesterday I felt that purpose renewed and maybe reinvigorated. It was another reminder and a gentle nudge. I needed that.

I made this little cartoon as a reminder to me. The words oddly enough are from a song—not a hymn or a worship song, but an 80s rock song repurposed. The song is by Triumph. It’s called Hold on and it was written in praise of music. On that day on the mountaintop stopped being about music for me though and started to be about mission. While I continue to learn and study, I’ve chosen to accept that I may have to leave the “genius-ing” to the geniuses and focus on what I am called to do.

—bring the simple truth to the people and bring people to the simple truth.


I’ve written about this before, but today is sort of a momentous day for me. The first thing I ever did in ministry was take a group of students to the Creation Festival. That was in 1998 and the 2018 festival starts today. That’s right, for all intents and purposes this is the 20th anniversary of the starts of my ministry. Now I don’t know the exact starting date of that festival back in 98, but fittingly Creation is where it all began. It’s been 20 years since I first sat on that beautiful hillside and saw God demonstrate his faithfulness in what would be my ministry. It was a day of turmoil and stress, a day where I thought I heard God completely wrong. It was a day when I wondered who I was to think someone like me could ever be in ministry and it was a day where I saw the light of God shine through. It was the first time God reminded me that the only thing that really depends on me is that I would be faithful and that he would do everything else. I’ve needed that lesson almost daily ever since, but God has continually been faithful.

So many things have happened since that day. I became a youth leader, God showed me how to use art in ministry, I started to train for ordination, I got ordained, started a church, closed a church, started a web site to share the creative ministry ideas I was getting, started getting invitations to speak around the country, and today I pastor a church and continue to do and teach art ministry every chance I get. I’ve been blessed to write books and a ton of Bible lessons, make a ton of art and meet thousands of wonderful people and those are just the external blessings. One year during the festival I had the privilege of baptizing my son Christ at Creation. I had the privilege of marrying quite a few of those girls to their husbands and one of the girls from that youth group married my son, became my only “daughter” (so far) and blessed me with my grandson David John. Through it all my loving wife Dawn has been by my side. Her organizational skills made that first trip possible and her love has helped me over and through every bump in this journey since. I am a blessed man and it’s been an interesting 20 years.

I’ll share with you what I believe God said in my spirit on that first night 20 years ago. “I never said it would be easy, but if you will be faithful, I will be with you and use you.” Take that to heart because it wasn’t just for me.

Thank you Jesus!


So I was spending the night at my church last night. Due to my somewhat unusual commute, I have a parsonage I stay at a couple nights a week. Because I don’t live there full time, I don’t have TV or WiFi there, and most times that’s okay. I can spend my time reading, studying, creating, etc. but occasionally I am a little tired and can’t really do anything that requires too much brain power, so I will download a few videos to my Kindle Fire and watch them. That was what I had in mind for last night. I had seen that an actress I really liked from a show I enjoyed that was cancelled, has gotten a new show and I was curious, so I downloaded an episode to check it out. Well in the first few moments of the movie, said actress was being beaten, tortured and apparently murdered. Cut to the courtroom in time to see her killer (I’m assuming) being convicted and a reporter talking about the brutal signature this killer put on his crimes… and delete. I just couldn’t go there. Please keep in mind this was no more that five minutes into the first episode, the pilot, and probably more like two.

Am I intrigued? Yes. How do you kill off the character whose face is the ad for your show in the first minutes of the first episode. Surely there are a multitude of interesting plot twists available and a lot of interesting directions to go, but can I be honest? I can’t see any of them that will leave me feeling uplifted and positive. I think this is an example of what I often say, “you can have imagination without hope.” Thing is there is enough hopelessness in the real world. I don’t need it in my entertainment, and that, Christian creative is why we need you.

I do say “You can have imagination without hope.” but I also say “You can’t have hope without imagination.” To hope is to imagine something better and while I can often see hopelessness in the real world, especially on the news, I am also faith-filled enough to remember that where there is Jesus, there is hope. Friends we need hope-filled people out there telling us hope-filled stories. Stories where the good guys win. Stories that will trigger hope in our hearts and remind us that no matter how dark things look, there is always hope. We need positive stories and positive images. We need positive, uplifting songs and movies and plays. We need to be reminded that there is good in this world and that we have the ultimate hope. We need people who will utilize their God given creativity to show us glimpses of hope and reminders of victory. It doesn’t have to be all sunshine and lollipops, there can be conflict and loss and a whole bunch of other “real world” things, but give us reminders of hope.

This world is not hopeless because God is and always will be. Let our creative work spur people on to love and good deeds. Let us create work that speaks to people and uplifts their souls. Let’s create art that does more than just entertain. It takes our imaginations into the light and inspires us to the endless possibilities available to those who trust in the One for whom all things are possible. Jesus calls us the light of the world, and this is a way to shine in the darkness.


I am loath to be critical of another artist’s work, but yesterday I went to the movies and today I find myself all kinds of irritated. On paper, this movie looked phenomenal—a multitude of great characters, and great actors coming together in what was sure to be an epic masterpiece of the genre and this thing had its moments but by and large, I really didn’t like it. i’m talking about Marvel Studios’ latest, The Avengers: Infinity War. Now to be clear, I’m not as involved in the Marvel Universe as I once was, and perhaps a lot of this is explained more clearly in the comic books, but I can practically write what’s going to happen next. I have a feeling it’s revealed in the title of the film, but I digress, this is not what I want to see in a movie. I also know well the old saying, “All’s well that ends well,” and I think that’s my issue, this thing does not end well, even setting up a multitude of sequels, this does not end well.

I posted a little gripe on Facebook after shelling out my hard earned money to see this thing, and one person replied how he was glad to finally see a Disney/Marvel movie that doesn’t have a happy ending, because it’s more like real life. I will admit I kind of wanted to scream (just a little), “Who watches Marvel movies to see real life?” I don’t and that’s what really triggered this post. I don’t go to the movies to see reality. I go to movies to see good triumph over evil, because while I have faith that is the ultimate destiny of our world, in this present day, it happens far too rarely. Movies are an escape for me. I want to spend two hours of my life watching something that will uplift and inspire me. I fully understand cliff hangers and setting up sequels, but at the end of a movie, I at least want to feel hopeful. I think of a recent Star Wars Movie. Not The Last Jedi, the one before it where, spoiler alert, literally everybody dies. That movie came close to this but at the very end, we see that they did not die in vain and hope was restored, setting up the storyline for perhaps the most beloved fictional storyline ever.

Marvel/Disney, I don’t mind a good cliff hanger, but you can do better than this. I see very few movies in the theaters anymore. The prices are just way too high. I understand prices have to be that high because of how much is spent on them, but my budget is such that I can’t always afford to go. The movies I do go to see in theaters are the ones that I know are going to be epic in scope, that will benefit from a huge screen, and I go to see Christian movies as often as I can because I am trying to support the films amd the people who make them. That being said, if you’re going to end them this badly, I’ll be waiting for them on one of the countless sources available. I never go to a superhero movie for a dose of reality. That should be common sense. I go to the movies for some escapism and a chance to be reminded of the ultimate triumph of good over evil.

I was highly disappointed in Infinity War. Why do you go to the movies?


So last night I was painting. I had create the piece for my next paint party at church. I got something I’m really happy with, by the way. I also did an experimental sketch portrait of Jesus. I got this sort of out there idea for a series of paintings and a big presentation, but first, I needed to do this sketch. I also saw some art that inspired me to try some new techniques and color ideas, so I was experimenting. I decided while I was painting I would listen to some movies on my Kindle fire. The first was Walt Before Mickey, the story of Walt Disney’s early years, and no surprises here, I loved it. I’ve long been an admirer of Mr. Disney’s work and this was a great story. Really inspirational. I wish I’d watched it last.

Instead I watched Founder, which is the story of Ray A Kroc, “founder” of McDonald’s. I’m trying to lost some weight and abstain from fast food, and this movie will help. If even a tenth of what this movie said was true, it could keep me out of McDonald’s for a very long time. The guy basically stole everything from two guys he met in California who were the true founders of McDonald’s. Every innovation, every idea, everything right down to their name. I mean the McDonald brothers basically invented fast food, and he took it all from them basically with no qualms at all. Again I have to keep in mind, Hollywood never lets the facts get in the way of a good story, and I should probably give Kroc the benefit of the doubt, but this thing really hit me and it led me to a pretty obvious conclusion. The way we live matters. The story our lives tell matters. Oh, Kroc became a very wealthy man, and his company has done some real good in the world, but at what cost. Someone very wise said something about winning the world and long your soul. I won’t speak the condition of Kroc’s actual soul, that’s up to his Maker, but he (at least as this movie portrays him) surely lost touch with his moral soul.

And that brings me to the other thing I’ve been dealing with lately. I saw this video of a young “comedian” (to be a comedian, you should actually be funny, hence the quotes) that’s making it’s way around the “inter-webs.” She was speaking at the White House Correspondent’s dinner. Now I know that thing is a roast, and I tried to give her the benefit of the doubt, but it was just an awful, profanity laced diatribe, crude and vulgar and oh yes, not at all funny. Today I saw one of these hysterical memes saying the Republicans want her to be punished. I’ve learned a long time ago that if you want to gin up controversy where there is none, all you have to do is make a preposterous meme and post it to Facebook. About three quarters of the world will fall for it hook line and sinker. I for the record do not agree that she should be punished. The First Amendment is a two edged sword, step on someone else’s free speech and sooner or later they’ll come for yours. I don’t think she should be punished, or censored or anything of the kind. Instead, I will simply remember, public figures live and die on attention, and so I will do the one thing that always works. I will turn her off.

See the thing is, if I don’t like your story, there are a million other stories I can plug into and if enough people take that tactic, you have a choice, change your story or fade into oblivion. The story we live, for better or worse, matters. Live a better story.


Okay, I try to be a level headed, loving guy, who’s as kind as possible but occasionally I hear something that is so ludicrous that I feel like I have to comment on it, especially when it relates to the arts. I heard one just the other day on a commercial for the Chappaquiddick movie. I was fine with all of it. I like movies that explore historical events, but then it got to the end and they were listing the rating and why the movie received it and one of the items listed was “historical smoking.” Really? Historical SMOKING?!? Really?!?

Now please don’t get me wrong, I do not smoke. I do not like smoking. I think smoking is a pretty nasty, dangerous habit and I wish everyone would quit, but this is what they’re worried about?!? They actually think they have to warn us about smoking in the movie. Like some kid is going to watch this movie (will any kid watch this movie?) and say, “I think I’m going to start smoking because I really want to be like that cool senator who got drunk and drove his car off a bridge killing the young woman who was riding with him and then didn’t report it for ten hours. yeah, I wanna be like that guy. Quick gimme a Marlboro.” Do we really think that’s what is going to happen? Oh yes please protect our kids from historical smoking.

Again, I DO NOT want kids to smoke, but what about all the other stuff we bombard them with every day.The stuff about which no one says a word. Forget the movies where at least there is a rating system responsible parent can use. What about just good old network prime time TV? There’s all matter of sexuality, graphic violence, drug abuse, alcoholism and a whole host of other stuff we ought to be a lot more incensed about goes virtually unnoticed, but please, oh please, protect them from historical smoking, because clearly that is the biggest problem we face. This shows me how completely out of touch so much of our media is and it leads me to two major conclusions. First and foremost, good parenting is more essential than it has ever been in our history. Secondly, those of us with a creative bent have got to get to work creating something better. They’re so out of touch that the only real choice we have is to do it ourselves.