Archive for the ‘Thoughts on art ministry and life’ Category

In 2016, I did a piece of art every single day and recorded them for the year. Anyone want to join the challenge with me in 2019.


Today I was reading a post by an artist friend. Someone had accused her of capitalizing on the Hispanic culture in her art. She wrote a rather lengthy response about her heritage and her DNA explaining that she is in fact part of that culture. I would have taken a different tack. This whole idea of cultural appropriation is one of the most regrettable things I have ever seen. Let me explain why.

The arts have always been something of a melting pot. People influenced by people of other cultures, creating unique works that meld cultures. Is this to say people have never been exploited, of course not, there will always be unethical people trying to rip people off and those people should be dealt with accordingly, but the idea of cultural appropriation is not the way. The majority of artists are just looking at the world around them and expressing it through their hearts, minds and media. They’re not looking to rip people off. They’re saying, “Wow that is cool, but what if we applied it to this.” Let’s let art be what it was always meant to be. A cultural unifier that allows us to appreciate one another and learn from each other.

What’s the alternative? Cultural segregation. Do we really want a world where white people can only create “white people stuff,” and people of color only able to create stuff from their people group? And who will be the arbiter of which is which. Do we really want to say that you can only create based on race? I surely hope not. That would seem to be taking us back centuries. Hamilton would need to come off Broadway immediately. We’d need to remove and destroy all rock and roll recordings yesterday and this is just the tip of the iceberg. I don’t want to live in a world where the arts are segregated. Rather I’d like to be free to work with whom I want, and to be influenced by who I want and create work that honors whatever heritage has influenced it. I want to create work that speaks to people, not just my people group. Rather than thinking about cultural appreciation, maybe we should think about cultural appreciation instead. Let’s not build walls in the arts. Let’s join hands and create a better world.

I finished the Inktober Challenge and set up this video as a way to show them to everyone. I hope you enjoy it.

Yesterday, I posted about my dream to write a novel/screenplay. I’ve had this dream as long as I can remember, all the way back to when I was a small child, making up little shows for my sister and my cousins. That dream went away for a long time. It was beaten down by a whole lot of voices, internal and external, that basically all asked the same question. “Who are you to think you an do that?”

What qualifies me to do such a lofty project? Nothing really. I’ve never written fiction to speak of, though I do love to write and tell stories, sort of modern day parables, if you will. I went to a writer’s workshop two years ago with actor, comedian, screenwriter Torry Martin, and it sort of re-lit the spark. Am I qualified to do this? On paper no, but I’ve learned not to get too caught up in earthly qualifications and as a Christian creative, I don’t think you can either. Remember, as the old saying goes, “professionals built the Titanic, amateurs built the Ark.”

Am I belittling education and experience? No. We all owe it to ourselves to work hard at the things God has given us to do. What I am saying is if the Lord is leading you to do something, don’t disqualify yourself as inexperienced. Start doing the work. Make the effort. Show up every day, roll up your sleeves and give it your best. From there it’s in God’s hands.

As I look back over this career of mine, I think of all the cool things I have gotten to do. From writing for a youth ministry resource, to meeting some of my favorite performers, to my work for a licensee of the Teenage Mutant Turtles, to the books that I’ve written, to the opportunities I have had to speak to thousands of people all over this country, they all have one thing in common. I facetiously say “Great things have happened in my life over and over again because I was “too stupid to know I wasn’t qualified.” Now to be clear, I don’t think I’m too stupid to do most things. Rather, I’ve made a conscious decision when I feel led to do something, to assume that I can do what God calls me to do. I start putting forth the effort and I do the work. That’s not to say everything I do is a raging success, but everything has at the very least brought personal growth and experience and so it was worth the experience. I learned this when I wrote my first book. I shopped it around for a publisher, and was rejected over and over again. Finally I was approached by an e-publisher who told me after reading my manuscript, she reconciled a broken relationship. It was at that point, I made a decision, if even one person is touched and/or blessed, the effort was worth my time, because I was doing something I loved and something I feel God led me to. That attitude has led me to some really great places.

God is good, trust Him to know whether or not you’re qualified and do the work.

After such a busy time, you might wonder “What’s next?” Well Thursday is November 1, and my hope is to begin the next challenge NaNoWriMo. National Novel Writing Month. My dream for a long time has been to write a novel or a screenplay that can be made into a movie. At this point I am going to try to do the challenge and see if it can help me to “eat this elephant” of a project one bite at a time. However, I’m also realistic enough to know that my life is very busy. I will be preaching a brand new series at a church in West Virginia the first week of the month, and I also have a lot of work at church this time of year. My relationship with God is priority one, family is a close second and just behind that is my ministry. My goals and dreams come somewhere behind that. So if I can be faithful to all three of my top priorities, I will finish my novel in the time frame allotted. If I can’t, the side projects have to be the first thing to go.

Goals and dreams are a wonderful thing, but we need to keep them fluid enough to make sure the priorities remain the priorities. As Christian creatives, God has got to be “running the show.” If He makes the opportunities for me to finish my goals, I will finish them. If He decides to fill my life with other, more important things, I have to trust that He will allow me to get everything done in it’s time. His primary demand on my life is faithfulness. That’s what He looks for in all of us. This means I need to make efficient use of the time allotted to me. I need to eliminate the “time vampires” that suck up the time I could be using to accomplish what God has given. I also need to be certain to take care of myself by doing things like exercise, resting and devotions.

James reminds us that: “13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— 14 yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. 15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”

Set your goals, but let God move them as He sees fit. Faithfulness is priority one.

Well I know I’ve been a little quiet lately, but here’s what’s been happening. I have finished inktober and am now working on a video containing all the pieces I did for this month long challenge.

Here’s my favorite piece of the month, representing the word “JOLT”

I have the honor of designing a bunch of images for the flower show of our local retirement community. It’s a huge production, with lots of really cool art and the theme this year has to do with superheroes. Here are a few of the pieces I designed.

and finally I am designing stage sets and other graphics for a production of the musical Elf Jr. which my son Chris is directing. Here’s a sample graphic.

I’m also finishing up a series of new presentations for my series, …Like Jesus, which will be making it’s debut Sunday, and I’ll be finishing out the week doing a live painting for the Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center banquet, Lord willing.

I feel so blessed to be able to do what I do. There’s one thing I want to say about all this. All glory for everything goes to God. He gave me the ability to do what I do and He provides the opportunities. Beyond His work in my life there is nothing special about me. You need to ignore the internal voices that tell you you’re not enough, put yourself out there, make yourself available, submit your work and your life to the Lord and ask Him to work through you. Then do one more thing…

Prepare to be amazed.

A dear friend of mine, refers to a national chain restaurant as “reheat and eat.” The idea being all their “cuisine” is frozen, shipped in, reheated and served. I don’t know if thats really the case, but if it is, that’s what TV dinners are for. When we go to a restaurant, we want more.

Well looking at TV, I’m seeing a lot of reheating. Rather than coming up with new concepts, the networks seem to be taking a lot of the franchises of my teenage and young adult years and bringing them back. Now I will admit, I like a few of them. I really enjoy the new Hawaii Five-O from a few years back and I can’t say any of the “reheats” I’ve taken the time to watch are awful. I just wonder where the new ideas are. Have we really run out of creativity.

Now I am fully aware that making TV is insanely expensive and these reheats already have proof of concept. They’re a little bit more of a sure bet, but still… Artists need to innovate. Where are the fresh concepts, the new ideas? I mean I know Solomon said there is nothing new under the sun, and I know to some degree he was right, but we need some more people out there pushing the envelope.

This might be a great time for you, my dear creative. Make something new. Put it out there and see who bites, and if nobody bites, make it yourself. Pray and create. In a world of reheats, maybe it’s time for your creation to stand out. You’ll never know unless you do the work. Heat up something new!