Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category


Posted: January 30, 2023 in Uncategorized

One of the things I often say is comparison is deadly, especially in the church. When you begin to compare your gift with someone else, one of two things is going to happen. You will either say “They’re so much better than me, I don’t know why I would try.” or “I’m so much better than them, I don’t know why they try.” It will leave you either prideful or discouraged and neither of those is helpful. Pride takes glory from God and discouragement denigrates what God has given. It’s better to keep your eyes on your own paper, and to do what you are responsible for, which is the development of your own gift. There’s nothing wrong with being happy in your gifting, and there is nothing wrong with a little holy dissatisfaction, that keeps you willing to learn and grow.

My wife has been listening to a short online devotional on the topic of comparison and she played a recent clip for me that really resonated. The timing was also perfect for me. You see I was a little stuck in comparison, if I want to be honest. A good friend posted a photo of himself on his way to minister with a mutual friend who ministers in a place that could only be described as a paradise on earth. I was happy for my friends, but there was a little part of me that was saying, “Why not me? Why didn’t I ever get that call?” What a crappy way to think. It may be as simple as you have not because you ask not. It might be as simple as my field is not what is needed, but comparison jumps right in there and tweaks you. Now again this was not a major depression or anything like that, I am genuinely happy for my friends getting to reconnect after a long time and they both have really great ministries and my friend will be a great asset to my other friend’s ministry. I’m just trying to. show you that even someone who is pretty happy and secure in his ministry is not immune to comparison. Don’t fall for it. The Lord knows what He is doing, and He has placed you with a good purpose. If you desire to do something ask for it, both in prayer and by making connections, but don’t get your value by whether or not you get the “yes.” Keep moving forward in faithfulness, realizing that the One who gave you your gift, did it with a purpose, and His faithfulness is beyond measure. Keep developing what you have and using it in faithfulness.

Eyes on your own paper, and don’t get stuck in comparison.

Can I be honest? I hope I can because I am going to. Some times are just really tough and I am going through one of those times right now. My trust is in the Lord, and I have confidence in Him, but some days are tough right now, and not just for me. A lot of people I love are struggling right now. When I was in a pretty tough place recently, God brought a song to mind, Rich Mullins’ “Hold Me Jesus.” It had been so long that I only remembered the chorus:

Hold me Jesus,
cause I’m shaking like a leaf.
You have been King of my glory,
Won’t you be my prince of Peace?

As I sang that chorus over and over again, a peace washed over me. It was truly the peace that passes understanding, because while there was not a lot of change in the situation, there was still peace. God had touched my heart and changed my outlook. Slowly a message began to form and I decided this would be my message for the week.

If it’s been a while since you heard the song, you can listen to it here.

God Speaks

Posted: January 28, 2023 in Uncategorized

Sometimes in the midst of a trial it feels like God is silent. Is that the case, or are we just not listening? The other day I was having a really bad day. Someone I love very much is in failing health and by the end of our visit, I was feeling quite overwhelmed. I’ve had a few health concerns of my own and a lot is up in the air right now, several people I love are also going through struggles, and I was hurting. I started to pray and a song came. Into my mind almost instantly, Hold Me Jesus, by Rich Mullins. It was just the chorus. “Hold me Jesus, cause I’m shaking like a leaf. You have been King of my Glory. Won’t you be my Prince of Peace?” Before long I was singing it over and over again and it brought me peace. I feel like God spoke in my time of trouble, and as I meditated on it, I saw that it could be a message of hope for my congregation and maybe even beyond. So this weekend I will preach a message called Hold Me Jesus. My prayer is that it will help others the way it helped me.

Then last night I had the strangest dream. I was about to speak to a gathering of people from my last job. I had this wonderful message that was just materializing before my eyes about the Holy Grail and the Ark of the Covenant. It all was so clear and made so much sense. I was sitting there at my conference booth with paintings and other images I had done for the event, when all of the sudden my art started falling from the display. As I was rushing around to hang the pieces that were falling when I had the realization. The organization was secular and my message was very Christian, it wouldn’t fit and I was in a panic trying to come up with what I would say when I got to the platform in just a few minutes. That’s when I woke up. Now it’s interesting. I’m not sure what the meaning of all the stuff with falling art and the message not fitting with that group. I awoke with the complete outline of a message for my congregation, or perhaps some place beyond. I got up essentially right away and wrote it all down.

I am still trying to discern the meaning of some of this, but here is the point. In the times where it feels like God is silent, He’s probably not. He may just be waiting for you to be listening. I know when I am hurting it can be really tempted to shut down and fall into something to distract my mind. How about you? Maybe it’s time we stop doing that, take some time in the struggle to just listen to the Lord. I’m reminded of a passage from this Sunday’s message. Romans 5:3-5: Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings,knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Friend, God speaks! He speaks to us through His Word and He speaks to us in prayer and even in dreams. Maybe we just need to take the time to listen.  

What is the difference between distraction and diversion? For me it’s this simple. A distraction distracts and a diversion diverts. I know, “Way to go Captain Obvious!’ Let me go deeper. A distraction is something that takes you off task. A research study at the University of California at Irvine found that, on average, it takes around 23 minutes for most workers to get back on task after an interruption. Distractions pull us out of productivity. Even as I write this, my alarm went off upstairs and I had to go to turn it off. I feel like am forcing myself to get back to work even now. I know that 23 minute number might seem a little arbitrary, but you know how often it happens. You get distracted from what you’re working on, and before you know it, you’re off to e-mail or social media, or fill in your favorite distraction here, and before you know it, substantial time has passed. Productive time lost forever. Distraction can be a real threat to your productivity

I can almost hear your objections from here. You say, but after a long time working on a project, something you just need to get away from it for a while. I couldn’t agree more. As a person who spends a lot of time doing creative work, I know there are times when my creative energy fades. It is a reality and it happens, but when it happens, you don’t need a distraction, you need a diversion. What is the difference? A distraction is almost always a waste of time. A diversion accomplishes something. A diversion helps you build on your knowledge, enhances a skill set, brings an end to a block, etc. For me a diversion might be reading a few pages in a book. It might be a little time spent in a hobby. For example, and I know I have shared this before. I love to build models. When I am blocked creatively, I will sometimes go to my bench for a few minutes. It is still a creative pursuit, but the instructions make it not quite as taxing on my creativity. It allows my mind to wander through my project, and often unblocks me, plus I have a channel dedicated to the hobby, so I am generating some content. I also usually have at least two projects going. Sometimes when one project is blocked, I can hit the other project for a little bit. This will often get me unstuck. Sure it might take me a little time to get back to full productivity but at least I have dined ground on something else that I need to do. A diversion might be a taking a walk, writing a post like this one, which I hope is a diversion and not just a distraction.

The difference between diversion and distraction is a distraction is a time thief, while a diversion enhances life and brings you closer to your goals.

I’m relatively sure I have reviewed this book on this site before, but it’s been a while and it was time for me to read it again.

If you were to ask me what is the best book you have ever read. I would say the Bible. It is, after all, the Word of God. If you were to press me for the second best book I have ever read, I would say beyond the shadow of a doubt it is The Traveler’s Gift by Andy Andrews. This book is phenomenal. It’s a modern day parable of a man who travels through time and space speaking to some truly great people from history, receiving decisions that will change your life, and I truly believe they will. The decisions reflect a change of thinking that will set a person on a much better path. I’ve read this book several times over the years and it never ceases to bring tears to my eyes and encouragement to my heart. If you ever find yourself in a struggle, you must read this book. Here is a glimpse at the seven decisions:

  1. The buck stops here. I am responsible for my past and my future.
  2. I will seek wisdom. I will be a servant to others.
  3. I am a person of action. I seize this moment. I choose now.
  4. I have a decided heart. My destiny is assured.
  5. Today I will choose to be happy. I am the possessor of a grateful spirit.
  6. I will greet this day with a forgiving spirit. I will forgive myself.
  7. I will persist without exception. I am a person of great faith.

This book is far more than new-age self-help mumbo jumbo. The stories in this book take the reader on a path to genuine life change. Its principles are strong and dare I say, biblical. I love this book and recommend it to anyone.

Negativity Is Death

Posted: January 25, 2023 in Uncategorized

Okay maybe that is a little overstated (I still don’t think it is, but you be the judge) but it definitely can be the death of a dream. Negative self-talk will make you have doubts in the areas where you need to have faith. So let’s look at a couple of beliefs we can hold onto when out feelings are going to negative places.

  1. Your gift is from God. He had a purpose in giving ing it to you and that purpose is good.
  2. God is good all the time. He keeps His promises and He loves you all the time. We will never leave nor forsake you. He is with you and He has you covered.
  3. God does not make junk, and that includes you.
  4. God can be trusted in all things.
  5. If God has called you to start something He will see to it that it gets finished and it will accomplish what He designed it to accomplish.
  6. God views success differently than we do. You are not responsible for success or failure. You are responsible to move forward in faithfulness.
  7. There is no condemnation. for those who are in Christ Jesus, so ignore condemning voices and trust the One who called you. He is good and He is faithful.

So when you start too experience negativity. Ignore your feelings and go with what you know. If you are in Christ, you are loved and you are called by a good God, so all things will work out for your good.

Do Something…

Posted: January 24, 2023 in Uncategorized

When you feel the leading of God to do something, do something.

When you don’t know how to start a project, do something.

When you’re not sure you have the resources, do something.

When you feel like you don’t have what it takes, do something.

When you feel like the world won’t get it, do something.

When people say you can’t do it, do something.

When it looks like someone should do something about a problem, do something.

When you feel discouraged or you think the problem is too big, do something.

When you don’t know how it will all work out, do something.

Here’s the point. When God leads you into things, you will very rarely have the whole picture in mind. It’s more likely that you will feel the nudge to take a first step. When you feel that nudge, do something. You may be the one to finish it or you may only be called to start it. You may have everything you need to do it, or God may want you to plant a seed for something that will take a community of people to complete. You may not feel you have the resources and your may feel like you couldn’t get them if you tried. Trust God to have what you don’t and do something. One of my favorite verses in the Bible is Philippians 1:6 which says, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Much of the time, God begins a good work in us by planting a dream, a vision or an idea in our hearts. It’s not always up to us to finish. As a matter of fact the verse says the One who began it in you will carry it through to completion. Maybe God just wants to start something in you, it might be bigger than you and it might look too big for you. That’s okay, it doesn’t;t all depend on you. It all depends on Him. So next time he leads you to do something, do something! You never know what He will do through you.

Every year, it is my honor to be a part of a great ministry called Haven Camp, held by Delta Lake Bible Conference in Rome, NY. Haven Camp is a week long summer camp for Adult’s with developmental disabilities. It is such a joy to me, and it’s a huge undertaking, so I am getting started. Our theme this year is based on Isaiah 40:31. “Those who wait on the Lord will renew their strength. They will mount up on wings like eagles, “but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” So how do I start a project like this. Well, of course we begin with prayer. Then I begin to plan out the eight sessions by figuring out topics to go along with the theme. I begin to select texts for each passage, and because I utilize art in my presentations, I begin to figure out images that will make sense to the campers. Remember this is not about art for art sake, the art is a tool to “draw” the people in to the story. I need to come up wit things that fits the topic and that I can render in acrylic paint in less than ten minutes. From there sketches and study begin to flesh things out.

Graphically, one of the first things I do is create my logo for the week. This helps me to develop the other media for the sessions. This year, I am planning an animated bump that I will use at the beginning of each session. I don’t have a lot of the world done yet. but I have started to develop the graphics. Here is a sampling.

In the Red Letters Series, I am preaching on the words of Jesus in chronological order, based on the chronological reading plan from the One Year Bible. I have been in this sometimes interrupted series for over a year and it’s been very fulfilling and well received. After such a complex parable last week, this week’s feels right on the nose and I believe part of its function was Jesus trying to show mercy to his opponents. Check it out. The Great Reversal is based on the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus from Luke 16:19-31.

The Difficulty of Job

Posted: January 21, 2023 in Uncategorized

No I’m not complaining about by church or my ministry. Read the title again. I’m talking about the book of Job from the Old Testament. For the last few years I have been reading a Chronological reading plan from the folks at The One Year Bible. Many theologians believe that the book of Job may have been the first book of the Bible written down, The One Year Bible folks put it behind Genesis, which seems right, so each year around this time, I find myself reading Job. The book of Job is really unusual. It starts off with a behind the scenes look into heaven itself. The enemy of our souls was going through the earth and stands before the Father. That in itself feels problematic, but it gets worse. God points out one of His “honor students” (my words), man named Job as a good example of humanity. Satan says basically, “Of course he’s good, you’ve blessed him in every way imaginable. Take all that away and he will curse you to your face.” God allows Satan to do just that, with clear parameters the enemy is not allowed to go beyond. This is one of the most valuable lessons of the book to me. Even the devil answers to God and is limited by him.

From this scene we switch to Job having lost most everything including his health. It seems only his health remains≥ Well his health and two other things. A wife who tells him to “Curse God and die.” I used to marvel that this is what God would let him keep, as it felt like insult to injury. That is until I had the realization that Job’s wife was probably in deep despair because she too had lost everything. The only other thing God left him keep was some “friends.” May first thought on these friends was, “With friends like these, who needs enemies?”

Here is the difficulty, or at least my difficulty, with Job. Were it not for the fact that we have the scene of the discussion between God and Satan, everything, or at least almost everything, Job’s friends say is right on the money. They take him to task over sin, and the need for repentance, most of their arguments and their advice was completely correct, except it wasn’t. What was the problem? They were assuming Job was in the place he was in because of his sin. The fact though is Job was more righteous than they. Much of what the friends say to Job would “preach” except for the fact that, on it’s own it’s out of context. This is why we have to be careful with Job. When we see life as “cause and effect,” it becomes really easy to rush to judgment, but the bad things that happen are not always caused by our own individual sin. They may be part of life in a broken world. Job’s friends would have been right on the money, except for the fact that they didn’t know the whole story. Their initial response to their suffering friend was best. “11 When Job’s three friends, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhiteand Zophar the Naamathite, heard about all the troubles that had come upon him, they set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and sympathize with him and comfort him. 12 When they saw him from a distance, they could hardly recognize him; they began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads. 13 Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was.”

Is this to say there is never a time to call out sin? No, but that is part of the difficulty. Some things are blatant, and obvious, The problem comes when we assume cause and effect. Everything Job’s friends say looks right, and in many circumstances it would be right, but at the end of the book, after God takes Job to task, the way to forgiveness for Jobs friends was to ask Job to pray that they be forgiven for judging when they should have been comforting. Let’s make sure we don’t fall into that trap.