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

I’ve been a little lax in posting here again, and I apologize. I have had the best of intentions and it’s been a very busy time, but the truth is, I’ve just been stuck. I’m working on creating a very encouraging “animated” video. I’ve done quite a few illustrations, and I hope to post it fairly soon, but there is one little part of the script and a little bit of the animation that I am still trying to figure out and in the midst of the figuring, I just got stuck.

It happens to all of us and ordinarily I’d tell you to “soldier through” and that not quite perfect and finished is better than something brilliant that no one will ever see, but I can’t really do that in this state, as it would be hypocritical. Instead I will say this:

These stuck points come to us all sooner or later and the trick is to not get lax. Sometimes a stuck project really is a project that is not quite ready. Timing is everything but if that is truly the case, there is nothing wrong with putting it aside and getting other things done while you try to get unstuck. At least I have been living this out. I’ve finished several graphics for another ongoing project that is proceeding nicely. I also just finished a dozen large decorative images for my son’s classroom as well as a paint party painting that I will do at my church this weekend, plus all the stuff that relates to being a pastor at Easter. My wife and I also took a few days off for an anniversary getaway. Now I know that last thing may not looks like it fits here, but trust me when I tell you it really does. All the productivity in the world is pretty much meaningless if we are neglecting our most vital relationships in the process. I’m giving you that one for free, but please learn it. It cost me a lot to gain that knowledge.

Bottom line, there is nothing wrong with being stuck unless you let it stop you in your tracks. So when you get stuck do what you can and keep at those things that you can keep moving forward.

I was chatting with an artist friend of mine online. He was frustrated with art, thinking of giving up and the whole thing. I’ve been there, how about you? He wants to make art for a living and feels like the odds are stacked against him. I started sharing about how the internet has made amazing things possible, and that you can get your work out to the world with a click of a button. I mentioned that while I didn’t have a ton of sales, that I was still able to get my stuff out there. At this point he and a couple of other people sort of pounced about my work being a hobby. Encouragement is tough when people turn on you and, I’ll admit, part of me wanted to go into attack mode. Attack mode is not encouraging, so I went another way and clarified my point.

It’s true, I don’t make the majority of my income from selling the art, as a matter of fact I give a lot of my work away. That being said my work is far from a hobby, I just found another way. First off, I am a pastor and that is my primary income. That being said, this is by far the most creative thing I have ever done professionally in my life, and I’ve worked in various areas of design since the 80s. I literally create every single day (except for my days of rest) in the context of my ministry. There is always art to be made, stories to be written and creative ways to help my people understand the Bible, faith and more, and while I may not receive the check because I am an artist, the fact that I am an artist enhances most of what I do in ministry. It’s not a hobby, it’s a tool.

Now of course my friend may not want to be a pastor, but pastor is not all I do. I also have a speaking ministry and again art is the tool I use to convey my messages and stories. I get to make videos, graphics and live speed paintings. Once again, I don’t necessarily get paid for the actual painting, but people pay me to come and do the program and the reason they do that is at least in part because of the art. The art is what makes me different from all the others who just speak, so it opens doors for me. I often give the paintings I do in these presentations away, but I’ve already been paid for the program so what difference does it make? I may not be selling the painting, but the art helps me to make a living.

Again I know my speaking ministry is ministry and my friend may not want to do that, but ministry is not the only application of what I do. My Facebook friend David Garibaldi does something similar to what I do but largely in the motivational speaking world. You may have seen him. He came in fourth on America’s Got Talent, paints all over the world, drives a Lamborghini and is currently the warm up act on the Kiss world tour. He auctions off his paintings and has donated over a million dollars to charity from the proceeds. The point is, if you are willing to do the work, put yourself out there and look at different, creative options, the possibilities are endless. Sharing my work online has not made me wealthy, but it has connected me with people all over the world, and it has allowed me to reach people I never could have reached without it and through it God has given me a very cool and interesting life.

God has given you a gift. He wants you to use it to His glory. The how and the why is up to Him, but don’t get discouraged. Do the work, put it out there and see what He will do. He’s good like that.

When it comes to controversial stuff online, I have decided to adopt the attitude of the biblical hero Nehemiah. He was engaged in a great project, rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem after 70 years of exile had left it destroyed. In the mean time he faced all kinds of struggles and opposition. In one particular plot, the idea was to lure him away from the work. This was his response.
Likewise, there are times in all of our lives when we will face opposition and detractors. There are also times when we will face distractors, that is people who post controversial things that will either accidentally or by design take us off task. I’ve decided to take the same attitude. I don’t have time for needless controversies. Rather I need to stay on mission and do what I’m called to do. Maybe that’s what you need to do to do. You have your calling, you’re on your mission. You are carrying on a great project, don’t let other people bring you “down.”

Listening to a message by Brene Brown, she brought out this quote by Teddy Roosevelt and it is brilliant.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

Need encouragement? Dare Greatly!

I think at one point or another, most of us feel like we just don’t have what it takes. Here’s the thing, you do. Check out these words from Van Gogh.

“If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.”

It really is true. You will not create your best piece every time you step up to the easel (or whatever you use to make art). You make your best work by continually making your art. Create, create and create some more. Acknowledge the fact that some of your work will not be what you would like it to be. You might even consider some of it to be a failure. That’s okay, failure is not fatal, unless you fail to keep going and quit.

Bring your best to every attempt, find the people who love it, and bless them.

Seems like we need a little clarification. There are probably a billion sites out there where you can vent your political opinions, play theological games, etc. This is not one of them. This site is devoted to helping people to use their creative gifts to serve the Lord and to help churches to empower the creative people in their midst. Theologically, I come at things from a somewhat conservative/evangelical point of view. You don’t have to agree with my point of view, and we can be friends and get along. To be clear however, the last thing I want to do is add to the political/theological noise. For this reason all political and controversial comments will be immediately removed. This is neither the time or the place.

That is the policy of this site. We are here to help the church be more creative as we take the unchanging message of the Gospel to an ever changing world.

That title may sound a little heretical, but think about it. Imagine telling Peter, James, John or any of the rest of the disciples that we call this day Good Friday. Not now, when they can see the ramifications of all that happened, but on that Friday so long ago, while most of them are in hiding, fearing for their lives, as their friend, teacher and Lord is hanging on a hard wooden cross. The sky had gone dark, it looks like the end of the world and then they hear we call this day Good Friday. What do you think they would think?

It had to seem like the end of their world. It was just days ago that they were jockeying for position in Jesus’ Kingdom, James and John wanting to be by His side, one on the right the other on the left, but at that moment I am sure they were really glad those positions were occupied by others. Would they be next? I’m pretty sure that day, to them seemed anything but good.

So why do we call it good? Because we have the luxury of knowing the rest of the story. Yes Jesus died. Yes it was torturous. Yes it was unspeakable but it was part of the plan. You see sin requires death and justice requires that that debt be paid. If you’ve ever sinned, even once, that penalty was yours. This Friday is good because on it, Jesus, the innocent Son of God stepped in and said, “(fill in your name here) sinned and I love (him/her) so I’ll pay (his/her) price. I’ll pay a price they could not pay and give them a reward they could not earn. Eternal life in paradise.” That’s what’s so good about Good Friday. You are loved so much that the Lord of all creation, sacrificed Himself in your place and died on the cross. Place your faith in Him and you will receive eternal life in a place far beyond your greatest dreams.

Now a lot of you reading this, already know the story. It’s our job to share it. How would you express what’s so good about Good Friday? Someone needs to hear the story today. Share it.