Well it’s almost here. Today is the day when I drop off my last piece of art for the flower show. The last few months have contained a lot of hard work and a lot of fun. This has truly been one of the most enjoyable experiences of my art career. I got to design some really fun and memorable characters, but even better I got to work with some really fun and memorable characters and I had a ball.

It’s funny. I’ve spent most of my career looking to start a creative arts team and to a one they have fizzled. Who’d have thought I would find that team at a retirement community? But sure enough, there they were, extremely talented gifted people with some extra time on their hands and a passion for creativity. I have been thoroughly blessed by this experience.

Another nice thing was while I had a lot of creative freedom, I didn’t have to lead this project. I got to work with an amazing creative who had a lot of ideas of her own and who was able to lead the project and bring some of my craziness to life. There was no territorialism or any of that other stuff that can plague creative efforts. It was just a dynamic environment. Did we have limitations? Absolutely, but limitations are just another creative challenge. How can you do the best with what you have? I have loved this experience and despite the anticipation of seeing the final result and seeing the audience enjoy it, I am sorry to see this project come to an end.

Here’s the thing. I never could have done this whole thing myself. It’s a huge undertaking and there were a lot of things done that are outside my skill set, but in this collaboration, I made some new friends, got to have a great time, and got to be a part of something that is bigger than me. Collaboration is great. Oh and by the way, if you have a project and you’re looking for help, check out your local retirement community. You just might find some really gifted people with the time to do the work and a work ethic that is nothing short of inspiring.


I’ve been doing the One Year Bible in my Christmas present, The Jesus Bible. I’m reading a week ahead so I can get my sermons from the reading so the participating members in the One Year Bible Reading, will be hearing messages from their reading. Well I’ve decided not to just read the text, but to ask read all the commentaries that go with it and The Jesus Bible has some great ones. Here is today’s commentary on Mark 16:1-8. I don’t usually post things directly from other sources, but I needed this today and I am sure I’m not alone.

“Living in this broken world, people know defeat all too well. Everyone has experienced a relationship where someone let them down, or a situation that didn’t work out the way they hoped. These moments of disappointment or frustration reveal the tragic fact that this world is deeply flawed. Even though believers live in the hope of the resurrection and the victorious life that Jesus promises through His Spirit, He still calls on us to live in this world, where we experience death, brokenness, mourning and pain (in contrast to the coming Kingdom; Revelation 21;4)

Jesus’ resurrection reveals to believers the true way to life. Those who think that the abundant life consists or finding one’s way around suffering and hardship have a misguided perception of what Jesus promised. Jesus’ life and example teach that the way to a full life consists of service, hardship, opposition, pain and suffering. Believers look at Jesus’ life and see that God’s best plan for His Son was to stay close to Him through the most unimaginable of circumstances. The New Testament shows many times over that God was with His Son until the end, when Jesus took our sin upon Himself and suffered on the cross.

But the good news is God didn’t leave His Son in the grave! Because Jesus submitted to the point of death, and then defeated death, He paved the way for all people to find eternal life. By submitting Himself to death, Jesus found life. “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the Gospel will save it” (Mark 8:35). It’s only in surrendering to His will and His way that believers actually find the fullness of life as God intended it. Giving is the key to gaining.

In all of this, Jesus is victorious. He was, is and always will be undefeated by sin, by death and by the grave. His victory is found in the fact that He was, and is, a selfless servant. In graciously giving His life, He also created a pathway to the life that is truly life eternal.”

Keep this in mind as you face whatever you face today.

 
 


Yesterday I preached a message on reading the Bible literally. I know there are many who don’t, even within the church. From believers, I just don’t get it, at all. Let me just be blunt today and maybe sound a little prideful for just a second. Many people have told me I’m a pretty good speaker. It’s not really a pride thing, God has given me an ability and I try very hard to use it to the best of my ability. Again I hate to sound boastful, and hopefully in a second you’ll hear what I am getting at.

I serve a church that loves me and compensates me to the best of their ability, fairly and even generously. I also get the privilege to speak at a lot of churches and, almost to a one, they have also been quite generous. That being said, I know many professional motivational speakers make upwards of $2500 an hour, and many make substantially more. One guy I know, who has a very similar speaking practice to mine in the “secular world,” using art and storytelling, drives a Lamborghini. Why do I serve the church when other things could be so much more lucrative? Because I believe the Bible and what it teaches, and I believe God in his grace has called me to preach His Word. If I didn’t, I’d be grabbing for the big bucks. I can’t for the life of me understand how people can be in ministry without believing what the Bible says.

Now I know some things in the Bible are figures of speech, and I’m even willing to concede that a few things in there may have been best understood for another time, but I have to tell you for the most part, I take it quite literally and believe it is all useful to us (see yesterday’s post). Some will look at this and shake their heads. I understand that. They will point out some things, especially the miraculous things, and say they are impossible in our world. This, I believe, is the disconnect. We serve a God who is supernatural. This means He is not limited by the order of nature He created. He is above it.

I take on faith that the One who changed my life and saved my soul is big enough to do the otherwise impossible. I believe He cares for us and loves us. I believe He knows the story from the beginning to the end and the role each of us plays. I believe He has my best interests at heart and that He rewards in ways that last beyond this world. I believe He gave HIs only Son to save us from our sins and reconcile us to Himself and I believe I (and many others) are called to take that message to the ends of the earth. I believe the Bible and I am willing to take God at His Word. To quote the apostle Paul, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes…”

We Christians, especially those of us entrusted to preach, need to take God at His Word and we need to take His Word seriously, and dare I say, literally. The Bible is the Word of God. God is not a man that He should lie. His Word is the truth that points us to the One who said “I am the truth.” Jesus Christ, King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Lord and Savior, the only way to the Father.


I know I’ve been a little quiet the last few days, but believe me when I tell you, I have been hard at work on a variety of projects. I did a quite a bit more art for the flower show from the 14th to the 6th of the month, I’ve been making some other art as well as trying to write a paper and finish a class for my Masters program. Most importantly, I’ve been making some things for my church ministry. This week, I preached on the authority of Scripture and I decided to make a video for it, based on one of my favorite passages, 2 Timothy 3:16-17. There seems to be a trend lately, even among some in the church, for picking and choosing what passages of Scripture are important and which are not, which should be taken seriously and which should not. I made this video to illustrate what the Bible says about that.  I hope it blesses you.

 


From the first time I heard it, I’ve had a problem with the slogan, MAGA, Make America Great Again. It’s not because I see the red hat as the new white hood. Nor is it because I do not support the president. As a Christian, I am not commanded to like the president or his policies or agenda, but I am commanded to pray for him, and by the way Schumer and Pelosi and all the rest of the folks who are currently in places of leadership, from dog catcher to president, whether I like and/or agree with them or not. If I believe that prayer changes things, then prayer should be the first reaction to every situation whether I am praying in concern or gratitude.

No my fundamental problem with MAGA is I’ve always believed America to be pretty great. I didn’t say perfect and I am fully aware that there are things in our nation, both in our history and currently that are a source of shame and that need to be changed, but over all a person can still grasp some pretty great opportunities, and have a pretty good life here, or at least that’s been my experience.

The other problem with this statement is “great” is a somewhat fluid/subjective term. Some of the things that one person thinks are great may not be what I would consider great and vice versa. To my mind, there needs to be a more objective standard to work toward than just “great,” and that’s where I came up with MAH.

It stands for Make America Holy. Now I can almost feel the pushback even as I push the keys. I’m not talking about religion by force, or making this a Christian nation, or tearing down the religious freedoms that I, for one, hold dear. No, I’m talking about Christians living as the light of the world we are are called be, living the holiest lives we can live, and living infectiously. I’m talking about sharing our faith in word and deed. I’m talking about living our best lives and representing our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ so well, that others want to know more. Holiness is about living out the standard set by Jesus, as described in His Word, as best we can. It’s about following Jesus no matter what society says, taking on faith that our Lord would never steer us wrong. It’s about love not judgment. It’s about modeling a better way and unashamedly sharing why we live as we live.

Now please note. Holiness has never been popular. The only person who ever pulled this off perfectly got Himself nailed to a cross for His trouble. Holiness has also never been wrong. You should not expect to be loved by everyone if you try to live a holy life, as a matter of fact at times the pushback will be pretty fierce. Jesus didn’t die for us to make us happy. He died to make us holy.

One last thing: If you try to live a holy life, you will fail often, or at least that has been my experience. This should keep us humble and remind us of our constant need for Christ. This is not about being “holier than thou.” “Thou” has never been the standard. Christ is, but consider what would happen if everyone claiming the name of Christ, were in a daily active pursuit of Christ as He is revealed in the Word of God, loving sacrificially and living repentantly, while working toward personal righteousness (which simply means doing the right thing by the objective standard of God’s Word.

I think it would make things pretty great.

 


So last night I had a dream. I had done three stained glass pieces (a medium I’ve never used). They were abstract (a genre I’ve rarely worked in). Somehow I had an agent (something else I’ve never had) who got my work seen by a wealthy collector, who wanted to buy all three pieces. I was flabbergasted, especially when the collector told me the only reason he left the agent in the door was because my pieces were so good. He then showed me his collection pointing out all the expensive and exotic materials he financed the artists to purchase for use in their work. I don’t know that that’s how it works with collectors but remember it was a DREAM.

The collector then went on to make me an offer. He would either buy or sell as many pieces as I could make, at rates that would make me a very wealthy man. He would also finance all the materials, so I could use nothing but the best. I told him I was pretty inexperienced in that medium. He said it didn’t matter. So here’s the recap. A world class collector loved my work. He was willing to pay premium prices for my work while securing the world’s best materials for me to work in. Can I tell you, this would be the fulfillment of pretty much all I had ever dreamed of throughout most of my life? This would be everything I ever wanted for most of my life, but before I agreed to his terms I had a question:

Could I still preach?

I woke just after I asked the question, and my head was just spinning. I couldn’t help but realize this dream revealed a major change that has happened in me. There’s nothing wrong with making art for a living, and I really do hope my best pieces are still ahead of me, but thank you Jesus, for changing my priorities and  giving me a better dream.

 


My new presentation… I am really looking forward to taking this one out this Summer. See a preview here. https://www.facebook.com/RockCafe316/videos/581045878988125/

 

Contact me for more information!