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


It’s been said we have nothing to fear but fear itself. It’s absolutely true, especially as a creative. If we’re afraid, we keep our work to ourselves, we don’t share it with the world and if we don’t care it, our fear will have accomplished it’s goal: to keep our work from doing the good it ought to do. Fear in this case is diabolical.

Think about it, your talents are a gift from God. That gift is given not just to enrich your bank account, but more importantly to bless someone and give God glory. When we withhold that work out of fear, no one is blessed and God gets no glory. What a shame!

What are we really afraid of? That some people won’t like it. Sorry but that’s a given. Not everyone will like your work, so you might as well not be afraid of it. The people who don’t like your work, as I’ve said here many times, are not your audience. Ignore them and that fear is nullified.

If not that, what are you afraid of? Maybe you’re not good enough? Have you brought your best work to the table? Then trust God to use that effort to His glory. Your work is not perfect and it will not be, you just have to bring your best to the table. Again nothing to fear.

The truth is over and over again, fear, at least of this type, does nothing but keep you from being everything God has for you to be and doing what He has for you to do.

Don’t let fear keep you from all God has for you.

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I see these stickers on vehicles everywhere that say variations of “Keep Calm and Carry On.” I think it’s been overdone, but there is something there that we need to consider. As much as we love what we do in this life of art and ministry, as great a blessing as we know we have, it can get frustrating. We all have those times where it feels like our work is getting nowhere. We all have times where the doors seem to be closed or our skills just aren’t where we want them to be. We all have the times where we’re passed over. We all see people pass us by. We have the times when we get rejected. We hear, “You’re just not right for what we do” or “we’re going in a different direction” or worst of all, you hear nothing. It can all get very aggravating and in our weakest moments, there can be a great temptation to quit.

Please don’t. Remember no one promised this journey was going to be easy. If it was we would reach the top with a malformed character that could be disastrous. The Bible tells us don’t become weary of well doing and don’t despise small beginnings. Sometimes we need to remember our call. There is a reason for everything, and the reason you have your gift is so that in some way, you might give God glory. Last night in our church’s Bible study I was reminded of this again. We are near the end of a study on the book of Acts. Paul is headed for Rome. He was told by God he was go there, it was the next place he wanted to go, but I’d have to believe Paul thought he would end up there free to roam the streets and do what he was created to do. Instead he ends up there in chains. God’s plan is looking very different than I am sure Paul imagined, but please note this, Paul still ended up exactly where God said He would be. Further, in this way, Paul would be able to preach to some of the most powerful in his world at the time. In spite of the problems God’s will was done. I asked the question if God’s will being done in our lives every looked different from our plans. There was audible laughter around the room. We all knew it to be true, and I thought about my own journey.

For most of my life, I thought I would make art for a living. I felt like that was God’s call on my life, and in part it was. When I started working for a licensee of the Ninja Turtles, they were making billions in licensing and my client was telling me he could do the same for me. I worked harder than I had worked in my life to that point, and God left me fail. No matter what I did, I did not succeed and I was angry with God. As I looked around my congregation, I realized once again the great thing God did for me. If I had succeeded in the path that I was on, it would have destroyed me. I knew making art was going to be part of my life, and it is. I just couldn’t see the better path He had for me. One dream had to die, and I had to carry on. I had to keep honing my skills and learning new ones. I had work on my faith and experience a new calling, a call to ministry, and then I had to learn how to meld the two together.

I don’t know where you’re at today. I hope you’re happy and fulfilled and in the very center of God’s will, but if you’re not, get together with God. Don’t be mad at Him. He loves you. Carry on in your calling, stop doing the things that take you out of His will, follow His lead and let Him do what He needs to do in you. Trust Him and…

Carry on.


I saw a video last night for something I usually do, being done by another arts ministry. I am going to confess something here that may make you think less of me. I got a little jealous. I’ve been doing this stuff for over 20 years and it’s hard not to. The person on the video hasn’t been doing this as long as I have and I know last year, he got a “gig” I’ve been dying to do for the entire length of my career. Seeing him do this thing too was a little tough on the old ego, I’ll just admit it. It’s easy to feel surpassed and overlooked at times like this.  You might see this as a character flaw, I see it as human nature.

So why do I share this? Well the truth is, this kind of stuff happens all the time in the creative world and we need to have a little bit of a thicker skin sometimes. The other thing to remember is this is no time to start comparing. Instead, I need to do two things. First I need to be glad that someone else is working at this type of ministry. Secondly I need to be glad that doors are opening for this guy. It means more people are open to the type of ministry I do. That is a good thing. Thirdly, I need to look at me. Am I doing all I can do? Am I growing in my skills? Am I promoting the way I need to promote? Do I need to create a better web site or better promotional materials? Do I just need to do a better job of reminding people I am out here?

Jealousy is wasted. This is ministry. The other guy is not my competition, he’s my brother is Christ and I need to be glad for him, pray for him, etc. you need to do the same and one other thing, I need to be grateful for what I have and so do you. Praise God for all the doors He opens for you and bring your best to every opportunity. I feel like I do that, but maybe I could do it better.

Jealousy does not look good on us and it doesn’t glorify God. Instead bring your best to everything you do and glorify God. He’s got great things for us all and there is plenty of work to go around.


I’ve written several posts over the years about how deadlines are our friends. I believe that is true with all my heart, but is there ever a time not to work with deadlines. The answer is yes.

Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, tells us not to swear and part of that is this idea of letting your “yes be yes and your no be no” and we need take this to heart. As creatives, when we commit to doing something, we are often doing something the person commissioning us cannot to for themselves. They are depending on us to finish what we start and they need it by a certain time. God is not glorified if we prove to be undependable. To glorify God for the creative is to deliver what you promised, the best that you can do it and on time. Anything less can bring dishonor to His name. It is for this reason that we have to be careful about deadlines.

I made a personal rule a couple years ago that when it comes to taking on side work, I don’t take anything with a tight deadline. I broke that rule last week and I’m wishingI would have set things up differently. Now you might think, “Dave, you’re a creative, deadlines are a fact of life. How can you say you don’t take deadlines? What are you? A prima donna?” No, I guarantee you that’s not the case.

The fact of the matter is I already have more than a few deadlines. These are hard deadlines–things I must complete every week. The most obvious one is weekly. Every Sunday morning at 10:00, I must go to the front of my church and I better have a sermon ready when I get there. People joke, at least I hope they’re joking, that pastors only work one day a week, but the truth is, there is a lot to be done each week, but the thing that gets the most attention, and takes the most creative energy is the sermon. That’s a firm deadline. I also lead our church’s weekly adult Bible Study and for the last year and a half, I have been writing the curriculum. That means I have to be ready to go every Wednesday at 7:00. Next are the speaking engagements. 30-50 times a year, I speak at other churches and different events, and all those things have to be prepared. In addition, I am working on my masters. Now fortunately I found a school that is very flexible, or I would have had to drop that. I am also a husband, father and grandfather, and the last thing I would want to do is mess up those relationships. That’s why I don’t take deadlines.

I still want to serve others with my gift and I still can, but I must make sure that the people understand that I can’t do tight deadlines. This means I have to be secure enough to understand if people have to go with someone else for a project. The truth is, there are only so many hours in a day and we all have to invest them well. My recommendation. Only take deadlines if you know you can deliver and deliver well. We all need a little margin and some rest in our lives, otherwise this gift starts to feel more like a curse. It’s okay to say no sometimes, especially if saying yes would mean not keeping your word.


I saw this today, and I know it’s for someone here today. It was for me, but things are much better. You have the tools to do what God created you to do. Be who God made you to be. Do what you were created to do.



The following are some photos from my Imaginative Church Workshop.

It was a great day of creative, imaginative fun and more importantly learning as we looked at new ways to take the unchanging message of the Gospel to an ever changing world.
Here’s an outline of the day.

  • Registration
  • Demonstration piece on imagination
    • This includes the story of how my ministry is at least in part the result of a pastor who empowered me early in my faith walk.
  • Teaching session 1 “But I’m not creative” Overcoming the fear of creativity
    • Short hands on exercise
  • Teaching session 2 “Creative Worship” Stepping out of the boat
    • Hands on project creatively expressing Matthew 14:21-33
  • Lunch
  • Teaching session 3 “Sometimes It’s All About Who You Know” Identifying and empowering the creatives in your congregation
    • Short Hands On Exercise
  • Teaching session 4 Teaching In Story Exploring the Parables
    • Hands on project teaching a Parable
  • Teaching session 5 Going Beyond the Walls Exploring Creative Outreach
    • Hands On Exercise Brainstorming Creative Outreach

Contact me if you would like to know more about partnering with me to bring this to your area.


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.