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


Today should be a fun day. Each year our church hosts a yard sale. Basically all the members, as well as some friends of the church being their unwanted items to our fellowship hall. We then sell the items and the proceeds go to funding various projects for the church. It’s actually fun and if you know what you’re looking for you can make some great finds. As I looked over the huge room with it’s heaping tables, I had a realization. Everything I found that I wanted is something that, for some reason or another, someone else was probably going to throw away. This shows once again that value is subjective. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure… 

…and I hate to say it like this, but it’s the same way with our creations. Some people will look upon it and see a treasure while others will look at it and only see trash. The task for the creative is to value their own work enough to ignore the critics and keep creating and it can be hard. After all, we love our work, or at least we should. I’m continually amazed at how many creatives seem to really dislike their own creations. I think if this is you, you’re looking at it wrong. You see I don’t think we actually dislike our work. If we did, we’d lay it aside and do something else. No what we are really struggling with is disappointment. On one side, the thing we’ve created is not as good as what we see in our heads and so we don’t like our end results. Here’s the thing, I’m not sure we are capable of creating a piece that is as good as the one we envisioned. That space between our ears is virtually unlimited, no struggles with media, no laws of nature contend with and certainly no limitations of ability. The imagination can just run wild and it can go way beyond our current skill level. Bringing that wildness into something others can see, is both the problem of the joy and the artist. Handled rightly, that disappointment can push us to greater levels of mastery and creativity. So don’t get down on yourself for your limitations, let those limitations spur you to greater levels of creativity.

On the other side are the external critics. Your work is just not their thing and sometimes they will disparage your work quite vocally. This is hard. We pour our hearts and souls into our work (and we should!) and this kind of stuff can feel very defeating. The thing is we have the choice as to whether or not we are defeated. Defeat in creativity (and many other aspects of life) can be summed up in one word, “quitting.” Do not give into that. The one calling you is bigger than your critics. If you’re work does not speak to someone, you have a decision to make. Are you going to give in and quit? Are you going to try to appease your critics by doing something that pleases them, even if it means creating work that no longer pleases you? Or are you going to forget about the people who consider your work trash and find the ones who consider it a treasure? The last choice will give you a lifetime of creative joy. The others will make you feel like trash.

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Look for the audience that treasures you.


John Crist did this hilarious video that hits a little too close to home for your average pastor. I’m actually waiting for this show to show up on HGTV.


Yesterday, I started leading a few days of Spiritual renewal services at a church near my home. It’s been a really great experience so far. At the end of last night’s presentation, Pictures of Jesus, I decided not to give an altar call but rather just to challenge the people to see me or the pastor for prayer after the service. Well as the last song was being done, I just really felt led to go back to the front of the room and wait. It seemed the Spirit was working on someone in the room. No one came forward, but that’s not surprising, it seems harder than it used to be for people to leave their seats and walk the aisle, still I knew something was happening. I dismissed the people and a young man came up to me. I was expecting this might be the one. Instead he had a question for me. What Scriptural authority to you have for praying with someone to receive Jesus? It was a good question, one I had not been asked before and one I really didn’t have an answer for. The young man was very bright and well read in theology. He knew his Bible very well and I was feeling a little outclassed. But there was more.

You see I now knew he was not the one, but there was still someone there who needed help. I knew he desired a theological debate, but if that’s what he was looking for, he came to the wrong guy. There are many people qualified to have that kind of discussion, My qualifications are pretty simple. I’m the guy that proves God can use anybody. I learned a long time ago that people are not argued into the faith. Now I could have quoted scripture, like Romans 10:9-10, “9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.” but I doubt that would have satisfied. or Romans 10:13 “for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” but I’m not sure that would have worked either.

So here’s what I know. I know that there was a time in my life where I came to the end of myself. I was at a revival meeting, when I felt God knocking at the door of my heart. An invitation was given at the end of the message and I responded. A pastor led me in a prayer of salvation and it worked. I don’t know if he had the scriptural authority to do that or not, but I do know this, when I prayed that prayer I crossed a line and something changed in my heart. Something big. I turned from my sin and turned to God. I was baptized and I received the Holy Spirit. If I had to state it, I’d say that’s my authority. The spirit of the living God lives in me. As far as the prayer goes, I don’t know, but I do know this. If it is wrong to pray that way, The Spirit in me knows my heart and He prays when I don’t know what to pray and that’s good enough for me.

Perhaps the best Scriptural argument I can give would come from Revelation 3:20 where Jesus says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in and dine with him, and he with Me.” In other words, if God uses my ministry to knock at the door of someone’s heart, the prayer is nothing more than me helping them to answer the door. That may not be deep and theological, but I’m not about to let someone face a God-less eternity while I play theology. I’ll take my chances on grace and the power of the spirit to fill in any places where my knowledge fails.

By the way, if any of this inspires you to debate with me, please don’t, I won’t engage.


Well by now a lot of you know, I am not a big fan of snow. I know God is a great artist and he has good reasons for snow, and it is very pretty but I much prefer when he works in his green palette. This year in this part of Pennsylvania, we had very little snow, as a matter of fact we had quite a few days in February where it was near 70 degrees. It was awesome, but now… this…

We are in blizzard conditions, the snow is falling horizontally and piling up in huge drifts. It’s pretty wild out there right now. It seems like we were on a snow diet all winter long and now as we near Spring it’s time for a “snow binge.” It reminded me of an important concept for all of us. The concept of moderation.

So often, in our creative lives we have ebbs and flows, times where we’re blocked and times where we can’t create enough and in both those times, moderation is a key. I have a feeling the reason we get blocked is because we burn out in the times of inspiration. The thing is neither of these things is good. Creative block can be mentally and Spiritually agonizing, but those times of creative excess can be times when we don’t do our best stuff because we just feel so busy. We need moderation.

It’s this simple, your body and mind need rest. There seems to be this “make hay while the sun shines mentality that comes with creative booms. We have to create when we have the inspiration because we’ve all been through those inspiration famines and as soon as I thought of that term, I got the solution. In the Bible during times of famine, there was usually one option, starve and hope you make it through to the next bumper crop, but then we hear from a guy names Joseph. God showed him a famine was coming and told him what to do, and as a result, he not only went from a slave, to the second most powerful person in the most powerful nation on earth at the time, but he also saved many lives including the lives of God’s chosen people. The answer was simple. Save up in times of plenty so that you have something for the times of famine.

When you are in those times if inspiration plenty, what if you saved up some of that inspiration for times when inspiration is lacking? It’s fairly easy to do. You just need a notebook, a sketchbook or some kind of electronic device to store the ideas. Then when the ideas are sparse, you just refer back to them and keep right on going. This is really just good stewardship and faithfulness. After all maybe the reason you’re blocked is because you haven’t followed through on something God gave you.

The bottom line is if we work in moderation, we’ll be healthier and more creative, doing better quality work and we’ll (at least theoretically) never run out of ideas. Well out to shove up some of this snow. There’s more coming, but I don’t want to have to move it all at once. See that, I’m practicing moderation.


I’m about to go outside and do some seriously demanding physical work, and truth be known I have no desire to do it. In the past, I would have said, this just isn’t important. The underlying thought was this work is beneath me, I’m an artist, a creative and that is the work I should be doing. Thankfully that has changed. See working in my gifting is important, but the work I am about to do is important to my family. It will make their lives easier and maybe even my life in the long run. It is clear, this other, non creative work is important too.

Sometimes when I think how shallow I was (and still can be if I’m not careful) it makes me sad. Think of how often I put off family time so I could work and work and work. I always rationalized that the eventual success I would achieve from my workaholic tendencies would make their lives so much better that it was worth the trade off. The truth is I arrogantly thought my work was more important than what I would be doing with them. I was so wrong and stupid. I am trying to make up for that now, but I wish I had lived differently back then. Pride is so horribly bad and we have wrapped it up as something honorable.

Why do I share this example of my stupidity and bad behavior? Because smart people learn from their mistakes but really smart people learn from other people’s mistakes. Learn from mine. The really important stuff is the stuff that blesses the people we have been given by God to love. Sure our creativity is a gift from God to be used to His glory, but if we ignore the people we love to work in our gifting, that’ll come back to bite us every single time.

When Jesus was asked what was the most important commandment, He broke it down to a statement that was essentially “love God, love others.” Those are priorities one and two. Work, even the work we do “for God,” comes somewhere after that.

We get to make stuff and that is really cool, but don’t forget to make memories.

It’s important


I seem to have a thing for three piece bands from Canada. I’ve chronicled my appreciation for Rush many times, but there is another three piece band from Canada that has also brought me great joy over the years. Their name is Triumph and they were spectacular. One of my favorite songs is called Magic Power.

“I’m young, I’m wild and I’m free. I’ve got the magic power of the music in me…”

It’s a beautiful song, that starts off very quietly and melodically and builds into a pretty rocking’ anthem. The writer of the song attributes music to be a magic power to help us to overcome. There is truth to this statement. Music does have an almost magical power over our emotions. This week (Lord willing) I’m preaching on our thought lives and why the things that we think and the way we think matters and this song just keeps on floating around in my mind.

I’m not sure what I think about magic powers, but I do know about another kind of power, the power of God. I also believe that He shares some of that power with us through our gifts and talents and in that sense the song writer is correct. There is power for great good (or great evil) in the way we use our talents. He can clearly see that good can be done through the music he creates. What you need to know is the same rules apply to you dear creative. Your God anointed creative work has power to do great good. If you’ve submitted your life and your work to God this should be a given but it also needs to be a focus. We need to do our work with any eye on the Father’s purpose in giving us our gift. We need to be focused on doing work for which He will receive glory. We need to direct our efforts—all our efforts—toward doing good, spurring one another on to love and good deeds.

We have the ability in Christ to provide great encouragement to the world around us. We have the opportunity to create work that might change a person’s day, maybe even a person’s life. It’s more than magic power. It’s the power of God and we need to take that very seriously.

Now let’s go and do some good! In Christ, you have the power.


Well there were no takers to share what you’re doing for Easter this year, but as promised, I want to share what I’m going to do here. A couple years ago, my pastor did a series called Jesus through Isaiah’s Eyes. He went to the prophecies of Isaiah regarding the birth of Christ. It was a fascinating series. I even made some short video intros for the series, like this one.

Well I’ve decided to do something similar this easter season. I’m still toying with the title, I was thinking of Eyewitnesses to Easter but that may not work since I want to look at Isaiah’s prophecy about Jesus’ death which was about 70 years before the event, so was he really an eyewitness. Also it’s more holy week than Easter, but I’ll figure it out. In addition to Isaiah, I want to look at the events through Mary’s eyes, Peter’s eyes and possibly the centurion’s eyes or one of the Angels at the tomb’s eyes (I’m still thinking/praying through this but it should give some unique perspectives and getting people thinking.)

When it comes to holidays, the most Christians seem to emphasize Christmas, and the birth of Christ, and the incarnation are immensely important, but let us never forget, the purpose of Christmas is Good Friday and the purpose of Good Friday is Easter. The Easter story is the essence of Christianity. This is not a story we can afford to gloss over as if we know it all. Anything we can do to help people look at this unchanging story with fresh eyes is a step in the right direction.

So I’ll ask it again. How will you express Easter this year.