I am doing a study on the book of Acts and using what I am learning for a year of Bible Studies at my church and it has been eye opening. In the process of this study, I am always looking for supplemental materials to help my teaching. It was in this search that I stumbled upon Into the Fray. What a great book. Author Matt Mikalatos is a missionary and it is clear he is passionate about this book.

His approach is unique. He attempts (quite successfully) to bring the stories from Acts to the twenty-first century, as if they were happening right now. This really brings a fresh perspective on the text. It is clear, he is a great story teller. He manages to bring the text to the modern day without sacrificing truth or meaning. He doesn’t just tell the story, through a unique layout technique, he “brackets” the story and then tells the story behind the story, explaining what was happening from the Bible itself. These teachings are theologically sound and very biblical.

I think my favorite chapter is The Storytellers. In this chapter Mikalatos shows Luke telling his story, of how the physician becomes a disciple. It’s a departure from the rest of the book but it sets up a wonderful explanation on how to tell your story, i.e. share your testimony. This chapter is pure gold for all those nervous evangelists who want to share their faith but aren’t quite sure how. This chapter has made me reexamine how I share my own story and the other things I do in my presentations with AMOKArts.

At the end of the book, Mikalatos adds a really nice study guide with questions from each chapter, making Into the Fray a great tool for use in a Bible study on the book of Acts. As a resource, Into the Fray would work well from middle school ministry through adult.

If I had any complaint about this book it’s that it’s too short. I would love to see him recreate this book almost in commentary style telling all the stories rather than just the highlights. This takes away nothing from the excellence of this book. Rather it is a suggestion for another project for Mr. Mikalatos. I really loved this book.

Well in a few months I will be speaking at a writer’s conference on the topic of overcoming writer’s block. As I started working on the handouts, I discovered that I am probably headed for more of a small book than a handout. I began going through this blog to cull themes for the book. In my ideal world I would like it to be 101 ways to overcome creative block. So far I have fifty and while that may be enough, I’d really like to make 101. Ironically, I am a little stuck. Here’s the list: What am I missing? Yes I know some of them may be a little vague, but I know where I am going… Hey there’s another one “Ask Someone/take a poll”!

  1. Start
  2. Don’t Wait for Inspiration
  3. Ideas are Money
  4. Go Looking for Trouble
  5. Jam
  6. Go for a Walk
  7. Get Away From It
  8. The Second Project
  9. Not Too Many Projects
  10. Have a Diversion
  11. Eliminate Distractions
  12. Find/Make Time
  13. Be Prepared
  14. Have Something With You
  15. Your Workspace
  16. Unleash Your Inner Child
  17. Collaborate
  18. Silence the Inner Critic
  19. Ignore the Outer Critic
  20. Brainstorm
  21. Change Your Medium
  22. Do the Hard Stuff First
  23. Fresh Eyes
  24. Change of Venue
  25. Keep it Simple
  26. Deadlines are Your Friend
  27. Break it Down
  28. Minimize Distractions
  29. Believe You Can
  30. Farm It Out (no one is good at everything)
  31. Look Outside Yourself
  32. Rest
  33. Decompress
  34. Avoid Comparison
  35. Redefine Excellence
  36. Start at the End
  37. Ask Lots of Questions
  38. Make It Better
  39. Do What You Know
  40. Who Do You Know?
  41. Remember When It Was Just Fun
  42. Talk to Someone Outside Your Circle
  43. Change Your “Glasses”
  44. What’s Your Motivation?
  45. Re-Organize
  46. Seek Your Higher Power
  47. Ask Someone/take a poll?
  48. What Will Happen If You Don’t Finish?
  49. Finish
  50. Ship It!
  51. Start Again

In my study on the book of Acts one thing I am seeing is that the disciples are butting heads with the religious leaders and something really familiar is happening. The disciples are always saying to the leaders it’s more important to follow God than to follow you.” Do you see the problem in that statement. They can;t follow God and follow the religious leaders at the same time. The message is really clear, the religious leaders cannot be following God. Fast forward to our day when it is increasingly hard to follow God and government. When that happens we are faced with a choice. Here’s what Creacher has to say about that.


Posted: May 14, 2017 in Uncategorized

I know this is a little overdue, but I still wanted to share it because we should all appreciate our moms and the mothers of our children every day. So if your mom is still here, give her a big hug and thank her, if she’s gone on before, live in a way that honors her. The best way to do that is to honor God. Remember, none of us would be here without our moms.

Well this may have been the most days of posting I have missed in a row in quite some time. I have no excuse other than a lot is going on. The church is going and growing, On May 13, I had a wonderful speaking engagement at Paxton Church of the Brethren where I did a revamped presentation of my Creation Station program for a Mother/Child banquet. Then the next day was Mother’s Day, I taught the membership class, preached and did an anointing service after church before going home to catch a little nap and then visit my son and his family. I was a great day. Monday I took my mom out to breakfast, did some yard work and had some vehicle maintenance done and then yesterday it was back to work at church, preaching at a nursing home and working on this week’s material. In between all that I did two weeks worth of Creachertoons, some of the illustrations for one of my upcoming books, began outlining a book and the presentation that goes along with it. I really enjoy this life.

You might think that was a whole bunch of stuff you didn’t need to know, but here’s what you do need to know. Life happens and sometimes we might miss one of our self-imposed deadlines. While I would not make a habit of it, it’s not the end of the world.
Look again at the list and you will see priorities. A new presentation, even a revamped one takes time. Presentation have a hard deadline so it is important that you hit that deadline even more important, someone is trusting you enough to put you before their congregation (or audience or whatever) and you have to give that your very best, so that moves to near the top. After that was my church, again, there’s a hard deadline, but it’s more than that. God has entrusted me to love teach and care for a clock of His children, so my work with the church is also a priority. You might have caught that I took a nap in there and thought that could have gone to the back burner. Well not exactly, rest is hugely important and your body will make you pay if you don’t do it.

Visiting my family may not seem urgent, but trust me when I tell you, they are also given to me by God to love. I have backburnered my family in my life and it was a mistake that will never happen again if I can help it. Creachertoons and the book stuff did not have to be done, but I got inspiration and I can do those things in short bursts of time in what I call the time between.

Lastly, I don’t want you to think that you are not important to me. I value the time that you take to read all that I post. The truth is sometimes you just run out of time and while we all have to do our best to be faithful, we also have to accept the idea that there are only 24 hours in a day and so we have to prioritize. The other truth is I really didn’t feel like I had anything earthshaking to share here in the midst of all the other deadlines. I used to fret over that, but lately I take it on faith that God will allow me to catch up with all my obligations. I simply need to make the most of every opportunity. So today (May 17) and over the next few days I beg your indulges as I catch up. I hope you’ll read everything I post and that all of it inspires you.

What can you learn from this: Don’t beat yourself up, do the best you can and keep going. God is faithful. Bring him your best.

By now you have probably figured out that, when it comes to our creative pursuits I am not a big fan of quitting. I’ve spent countless posts trying to talk you our of quitting and pressing on to bring your projects to completion. There one time though where I encourage every creative to quit, every time. Do you know when that is?

When it’s finished…

I know that sounds like a completely Captain Obvious statement. You may even think I have run out of ideas, so please don’t quit reading. Read on.

The fact of the matter is many creatives don’t know when to quit. They take a project to completion. They have created something that is their very best, but they’re just not satisfied. Maybe it’s perfectionism, or procrastination, or just the fear of sharing they work with the world. Whatever the case, they take their wonderful creation and tweak it to death, in many cases the more they do to the piece, the worse it becomes. I’ve ruined a few pieces doing this. I didn’t know when to quit.

Here’s the thing, you will never achieve perfection on this side of the grave and neither will the things you create. Only God is capable of perfection, the rest of us have to settle for bringing the best we have to the project and trusting God for anything above and beyond. There is nothing wrong with wanting to create your best work, but know when to quit. There comes a time where we have to release what we have created to the world and see what happens.

The truth is perfectionism is the enemy of creativity. If you get too afflicted by it, you will never release anything. Please hear this, the vast majority of the benefits of your creation to you and ALL the benefits to those who see your work all happen after you release your creation to the world. Procrastination to the creative is more than putting off the inevitable. In many cases it is the very essence of failure. Your work has value to everyone but you, only after they see or experience it and they can’t do that until you stop procrastinating and release. Finally fear removes the benefit of your work from everyone. Our work is a gift, even if we get paid for it. One person may pay the freight but everyone who sees it receives a blessing. Withholding your work removes everyone’s blessing. Will everyone like what you created? Absolutely not. Will some people bash your work? Quite possibly, and this is where you need to develop a thicker skin. In most cases, those who can’t do become critics, so the best thing you can do is to ignore all but the ones who actually have something constructive to offer. Otherwise create for the people who love your work and forget the rest.

There comes a time where you have to call your project done. That is the only time it is always appropriate to quit and knowing when to call it quits in this case is a skill we all need to acquire. So finish your project and release it to the world.

You’ll know when it’s time!

There comes time in some projects where it becomes apparent that it’s going nowhere and you just need to “call it quits.” Maybe you just see it’s not working or maybe the idea seemed better than it was. Maybe it’s just pulling too much time away from something that is actually working, or maybe you’ve just run out of steam. Maybe it really is time to quit, but before you do, ask yourself a couple of questions.

1. Are you sure? Is it really dead or are you just frustrated or discouraged. If that is the case, it may be time to back burner it for a while or just take a break and get some perspective.
2. Is it completely dead or just ahead of it’s time? Sometimes we have an idea that the world just isn’t ready for yet. Maybe rather than putting the idea out it’s misery, you simply need to table it ’til the world catches up. Think about all the things that we have now that were once the realm of science fiction. I often say Steve Jobs didn’t invent the smart phone, Gene Roddenberry did.
3. If you see someone else run with this and make it work, how angry (or frustrated or ripped off or etc.) will you feel? This one speaks for itself. If it’s important enough to you to invoke anger or frustration, it’s probably not dead to you and you need to press on.

Of course there are many more questions to be asked but this will give you an idea. There are times where it is actually time to pull the plug and give up, but I am of the belief that those times are a lot rarer than we think, so check your motivations before you give up.

There is another place where knowing when to give up is vital and it’d kind of the opposite. but we’ll look at that tomorrow.