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

At the moment I am taking an Old Testament class as I work on my Masters. The most recent session I completed was on the books of 1 & 2 Chronicles. It was telling. One of the questions I had to answer for my paper was What is the relationship between reflection on the past and the worship of Yahweh?

Here is my reply:

In the books of Chronicles we see evidence of a disappointed people and a theology of hope. The people have returned from exile to see a city and a temple that are in ruins and a pale shadow of what once was and, to put it mildly, they have questions for God. The Chronicler works to cure this by taking them to the past, reminding them of God and his faithfulness, great victories and all His work on their behalf. This in many ways is the essence of worship.

Our circumstances may be such that they make us lose hope, but worship draws our hearts back to the One who saves us and sets us free. Worship reminds us of the One who has been faithful throughout history, to remind us He is still in control. Worship is essential to our lives as believers. I often remind my congregation that the times we feel like worshipping the least are when we need to worship the most. The Chronicler is trying to draw the people back to hope in God. He is showing them that throughout time God has kept up the covenant regardless of our faithfulness. In the same hand, the blessings and curses still apply. The people in Chronicles are living in the remnants of a curse that they, or their ancestors, brought on themselves. The Chronicler is reminding them that they can live in the blessing again. The answer is to return to the right worship of the one true God. It is as true for us as it was for them. Worship turns our hearts to God, and that is where they need to be.

When you feel like worshipping the least is usually when you need to worship God the most. Let Him remind you of His faithfulness, power and grace. He has come through before, He will come through again. Lift your heart in worship, read of His faithfulness in His Word and be comforted. Where there is God there is hope, and God is Here!

Worship Him, whether you feel like it or not.

Well on the morning of June 26th I hit the road again. I am traveling to Saginaw, Michigan to do Pictures of Jesus at a great church called The Church in Drive. From there I will be headed to Grand Rapids, Michigan for the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference. In addition to my role as my church’s delegate to the conference, I will also be doing some painting presentations there on three of the days. When the conference ends on Sunday I will be headed to Ashley, Indiana to present Pictures of Jesus again on Monday Evening. From there I make my way back to Ohio to spend the evening with some dear friends, then back to church, Bible study, etc. It’s going to be a good but lengthy trip.

I am sharing this for a reason beyond just saying, “Hey look what I’m doing!” You see, I love what I do. I love having the opportunity to travel all over the place and preaching and speaking and painting. The downside of it, though is that I spend a lot of time away from home and the family that I love, which can be hard. That’s how it goes with blessings sometimes. There is hard stuff in among the great stuff and I think the key is to be grateful for both. What I do is such a blessing to me, and the missing my loved ones, that keeps me grounded. It challenges me to be sure to be more in the moment when I am at home with my loved ones. It makes me strive for balance and proper priorities. God has been good and faithful to me. I must return that faithfulness, with a faithfulness and an appreciation for everything and everyone God has given. I don’t deserve any of this, and so I must work to be faithful to “Do [my] best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” (2 TIMOTHY 2:15)

It’s all about gratitude and the faithfulness born from that gratitude. Be faithful, make the most of every opportunity, and honor God in every part of your life. especially in your relationships.

This morning my wife and I are heading out to a pancake breakfast, otherwise known as the annual carb-fest. We’re doing it to support the arts. You see our son is working with a community theater, he’s acting in a show and this past week he helped to lead a theater camp for a week. He led 30 kids through a production of the kids version of 101 Dalmatians. Later this afternoon, they will perform their production for friends ad family culminating a week of learning and fun. I am really proud of my son and the way he is using his teaching gift and his theater gifts to help others to grow in their giftings. Whether he realizes it or not, he’s putting all the principles I’m trying to teach here to work. Don’t tell him, it’s our little secret.

Then when the show is over, Dawn and I will be hustling up to church, where we will lead a Masterpiece Paint Night tonight. We do these for our church about four or five times a year and it is always great to see people come out and try their hands at making art. Even moreso it is good to see my church folks working with people from the community. My purpose in these paint nights is two fold. I want to help people to embrace their creativity, but I’d also kind of like to see some of the folks give my church a try. Don’t tell them that either. That’ll be our little secret, too. But seriously, there’s not really no ulterior motive. It’s just a great way to make friends and build relationships while having fun and it appears to be working. If everybody comes that has said they are coming, it will be the biggest group by far we have ever had.

Why do I share this? Because friends the arts are a great tool for communication and building community. They can help people to learn and grow, build confidence and maybe even find a new path in life. The gifts you have can do tremendous good in our world. Put them to use in your life, and also use them to serve others in your community. Serve others with your gift.

Support the arts.

It’s been a busy week as you can probably tell from the silence on this end. Sorry about that. I will catch us up. On Monday I will be leaving for a ten day ministry trip. I’ll be ministering at two great churches and at my denomination’s annual conference with art and speaking. That excites me. I am also my church’s delegate to the conference and I face that duty with a little more trepidation. While I am so looking forward to seeing many friends I don’t see the rest of the year, there are some potentially divisive issues on the agenda and that bothers me. I have walked this earth long enough to know that when you get more than two people together there is likely to be disagreement. I’ve also been a Christian long enough to know that division is bad for the body of Christ and that God has given us a remedy. He gave us His Word and if we gather around that word in humility and repentance, He will speak truth. This is what I pray will happen. I was trying to think of something that expresses my thoughts and I was reminded of this song. I’m getting ready!

God is good, and my prayer is that we will gather in His love and goodness and that He will heal divisions with His righteousness.

Well I’ve been on vacation for the last few days and it has been very nice. I write this sitting by a small lake in Fenwick Island, Delaware. In a few hours, we’ll be headed out to the beach. I’ve read a good book, had a few good meals and spent time with my wife and son. I worked a little, took my son for a job interview (the job worked it in, while we were down here because it is closer to here than to home, so we made it a family jaunt), and did some reading in Acts as part of my year long study, but mostly, I’ve relaxed. To tell you the truth, I’ve needed this. My church is really good to me and I love serving them as pastor, but the last few weeks have been a little tough. Not any of the relational issues that sometimes wears pastors down, just people I love going through a lot of tough stuff. The time to refocus and rejuvenate has been nice.

Coming up is a really busy season, and I’m looking forward to it. There’s a ministry trip to Michigan, a writer’s conference and a mission trip among other opportunities. All of that is going to be great, but there are a lot of miles in my future, Lord willing. Sometimes you just need to take a break, rest, recharge the batteries and collect your thoughts for all that lies ahead. Please remember, it’s okay to take a break. Sometimes we all need a little time to relax.

When you get it, take it. It’s a gift.

This is really a two fold issue. The first part is for those of us who want to read that title and deny it. “I’m not an artist!” you might say. Can I tell you, you’re wrong? When you were a kid you made art, and then someone told you you weren’t good enough or you’ll never get a real job or whatever and you believed it and gave up. Please understand, you don’t have to be a professional artist, the world needs a whole bunch of other skills, etc. That being said, you can still make art for your own benefit and for the benefit of others. Self expression is a wonderful way of dealing with life in this world, so just forget about all those limiting beliefs and make art.

The second part of this is for those of us who already consider ourselves artists. We waste time. We get ourselves in things that we shouldn’t. We play computer games we check our email 70 times a day, etc. We do a whole lot of things that could wait or maybe that aren’t even needed at all. You need to put that stuff away and do the work. I always find it amusing when people act as if artist is not a real job, or that you can’t make a living as an artist. Neither of these things is true. Making a living as an artist is a real job, but it’s also a huge amount of work. If you want to succeed, there is no substitute for doing the work. You know what that means, right?

You’re An Artist… So Make Art!

It’s the first question we have to ask everyday. “What are you going to do today?” To be clear I am fully aware that sometimes you plan your day and sometimes your day plans you, but we should at least have some idea where we’re headed at the start of every day. A few questions can help you to clarify the path:

  • Will what I do advance the Kingdom?
  • Will what I do move me closer to my dream?
  • Does what I am doing fit with my God-given life mission?

These questions can be quite helpful, but be careful. We tend to get caught up in wanting everything we do to be fun and exciting and those things are great, but the battle is often won in the mundane. Are we doing the things that just plain need to be done.

I struggled with this for years. I had a series of day jobs that didn’t really feel fulfilling and after a while I got really down, feeling like what I did didn’t really matter at all. I don’t think I would have answered yes to any of the above questions at the time related to what I was doing. I was wrong. You see the things I was doing to pay my bills and put food on my table were also the things that allowed me to do the things that felt really meaningful but often didn’t pay very well. Those things built my skills and made possible a lot of what I do today. Zechariah 4:10 says “Do not despise these small beginnings, for the LORD rejoices to see the work begin…” While that verse applied directly to the rebuilding work being done in Jerusalem, I think it applies to all the work we do in the Kingdom.

So today make the most of whatever you do, especially those things that make you say yes to the above questions. In those things that make you say “no” or the things about which you’re not sure, decide whether or not they are a waste of time (some things are, lay those down) and give your best to everything else. The ways God will use things are not always readily apparent. Plan your day as best you can, give your best to all you do and glorify God in everything.

What are you going to do today?