In this message we look at Jesus teaching about the cost of discipleship.

Lauren Daigle and Art

Posted: November 9, 2021 in Uncategorized

If you’ve spent any time listening to Christian radio over the last ten years or so, you’ve no doubt heard the name Lauren Daigle. She is a brilliant singer, who has been favorably compared to Adele. Her voice is fabulous and her songs are just as good. They are thought provoking, inspirational and full of faith. Well I saw a meme posted this week. of a note she left at a venue where she performed. It said, “I tried out for American Idol here in 2009 and was told “NO!” Today I just headlined the Smoothie King Center! Just want to encourage you to keep dreaming, they do come true. Lauren Daigle”

This is what we artists need to remember. When you exercise your talent, some will get it and some will not. I think this woman is one of the best vocalists of this century. Take your art, put it out there for the world to see. The ones who love it are your audience.

I find it disturbing that there is so much emphasis on reality singing competitions. Yes they’ve given us some really big stars and that is a good thing, I suppose, but a lot of that puts you at the mercy of the opinions of others. Think of how many monumental artists would have been able to get past those gatekeepers. How much great music and art would we have lost if art was created based on a popularity contest? Would we have Dylan, or the Stones or Rush, or Picasso or Van Gogh or Pollock or Warhol? My guess is no we would most likely not. So why do they have those artists? Because they did the work. They did work that was authentic and true to who they were and put themselves out there, saying loud and proud, “This is my art.” You don’t need everyone to love your work. Work that everyone likes is usually so vanilla that no one truly loves it and it doesn’t satisfy the artist either. It’s far better to make work you love and find others who love it too. Then, when you find them, love and appreciate them and keep providing them with work that rewards their love.

The Importance of the Word

Posted: November 8, 2021 in Uncategorized

Well I got into it with someone this week online. I have tried to keep my social media nose clean when it comes to political interactions. I’m trying to stay in my wheelhouse and leave the politics to the politicians. I fail sometimes but I am doing better. This week though I was on a ministry page, and someone was lamenting that seminaries are not teaching “gospels” such as the “gospel” of Mary Magdalene. I pointed out that this might have something to do with the fact that the gospel of Mary Magdalene appears to have been written about five centuries after her death. There is some debate on that front, but what I as not prepared for was the pushback I received. One person, a fellow white male, made the assertion that the fact that I had a problem with the idea that this “gospel” might be taught had something to do with the fact that I am in fact a white male. Others chimed in with things like the people who assume she was a prostitute, as if this would be my problem. For the record, I have no problem with Mary Magdalene, as a matter of fact when I get to heaven, she is one of the people I would really love to speak to, she was after all among the first to see the resurrected Jesus. As to her past, even if it was as lurid as some people say, that really only further demonstrates the amazing grace of our Lord. Mary Magdalene is a very important person in the gospels and in the early church. I have nothing but respect for what she became.

My issue is with a false gnostic gospel attributed to her name but almost definitely not written by her. The gnostics were people who believed all matter was evil. To the gnostics, it could be argued that Judas Iscariot is the good guy in Jesus story because he assisted Jesus in putting off His evil flesh. There was nothing evil in Jesus and nothing could be further from the truth than the gnostic view. I would like to hope that no seminary would teach such a false gospel, unless they were teaching it as “opposition research” showing students what we are up against. I’m sure several people found my beliefs on scripture to b e simplistic and antiquated. I’m really okay with that, so here is what I believe. I believe God is big enough to protect His Word. I believe that every book of the Bible that God wanted to be in the Bible is in the Bible and the ones that were rejected, were rejected with good reason. I know with faith, I can teach the 66 books of the Bible that we have for the rest of my life and never lead anyone astray. That’s good enough for me. I really don’t need to teach my people from extra-biblical texts, especially those with such doubtful origins.

The thing is if the church leaders cannot be bothered to revere God’s Word, then the church is in trouble. The Word of God is infinitely important to the church, it’s importance cannot be overstated. It tells us how to follow God and points us to our Savior. It is the single most important “book” ever created. It’s message points the way to eternal life in Christ. We need to take it seriously and follow it whether it lines up with the conventional wisdom or not, because, as I am fond of saying, in this world, the conventional wisdom is usually neither conventional, nor wisdom.

In this passage from Matthew 16, Jesus asks the most important question of all. It’s a question all of us need to answer correctly. Who do you say Jesus is?

Creative Grace

Posted: November 6, 2021 in Uncategorized

One of the things that a lot of creative people struggle with is perfectionism. We are often our own worst critics and the result can be devastating. At best, it keeps us from releasing our creations to the world and at worst, it stops us from creating altogether. I know there are so many people who want to only bring God their best and that is commendable, but if you are holding your work back because it can’t hit the standard of perfection, I would respectfully ask you if you’re not just being disobedient.

Here’s the thing. Do you believe God gave you your gift? Hopefully your answer is yes. Do believe the all-knowing God, knows exactly what you are capable of today? He does. Do you believe that God has called you? If you have a gift, and everyone does, then there is an element of calling to it. He wants you to use what He has given to His glory. So anything less than giving Him your best work today smacks of disobedience.

I understand the pursuit of excellence, I am on that same pursuit myself, but if we wait until our work reaches the level of perfection, we will never release our work. We will keep it to ourselves and that is an act of disobedience for creative people. Instead we need to do our best work today, and release it today and if we keep doing that, we will likely get better every day. We need to remember who we serve. We serve the God who fed a multitude with five loaves and two fishes. He doesn’t need much to do great things. He simply desires for us to offer Him what we have and trust Him.

God already knows we are not capable of creative perfection. He has grace for the imperfections in our work. He simply wants us to offer our best and keep growing each day. Lay aside your perfectionism and walk in His creative grace. Your best is good enough for today and continually doing your best will help you to grow and thrive.

How Can I Help You?

Posted: November 5, 2021 in Uncategorized

One of my big passions in life is to help other people use their creative gifts to serve the Lord. I am especially passionate about helping people to use those gifts in the context of the local church in three main areas that I call preaching, teaching and reaching, in other words, in worship, Christian education and outreach/evangelism. I would love to create some resources to help you out, but here’s the thing. at the moment I am really busy. There is a lot going on, and I want to make certain that if I go to the trouble of creating something, it is going to be something that someone will actually want to use. So how about it? What resource would be really useful to you in your ministry context and if I create it, are you willing to beta test it and let me know what worked and what didn’t? Hit me up in the comments and let’s see what we can do together to bless your ministry.

Thank you.

Why the Weird Creatures?

Posted: November 4, 2021 in Uncategorized

I often wonder if people who are Christians might struggle with the weird creatures I love to design. They might wonder what kind of Christian would create monsters. So let me start there, they’re not monsters, they are creatures. My earliest influences in art were people like Ed “Big Daddy” Roth, Stanley Mouse, Von Dutch, Roach and others who have been labeled as low brow artists by some. Their work is cartoony and heavily influenced by custom car culture. This is some of the earliest stuff I can remember looking at that made me think I wanted to be an artist. I still really like it. I don’t consider them to be monsters for the most part. There is just something liberating about creating something that does not exist anywhere but in my imagination.

Secondly and most importantly, I like creating creatures because they are not human. For example, one day I created a cartoon, which I thought was hilarious. I started to think about vegetarians who are called that because they eat primarily a plant based diet. Then my imagination took over and before long I had a gag line. If vegetarians eat only vegetables, should we be afraid of humanitarians? I drew a very stereotypical cannibal as the illustration. I thought it was hilarious and it came out very well. I posted the cartoon. Not long after, a dear friend of mine who happens to be African American took me aside and after affirming the fact that he knew I meant no offense, he informed me of how hurtful those images can be to some people in the African American community. I loved that he did that for me. I had a blind spot and saw nothing but a funny joke. He helped me and I took the cartoon down out of respect. I never intend to be deliberately offensive, but there is a problem here. It is hard to draw people in this day and age without someone taking offense, even if that was not my intent. For me creatures solve this problem. Because my creatures look like no one, they can speak to everyone. These are the reasons I do creatures, plus, I have to tell you the truth, as stated earlier…

They’re fun!

What is A.M.O.K.?

Posted: November 3, 2021 in Uncategorized

From time to time I want to go back to my roots for the sake of any new readers who might be joining us. I started A.M.O.K. when I was a volunteer youth leader at a local church. I was praying to God for a way to make my teaching stick with my students and I felt the Lord leading me to use art as a teaching tool, so that’s what I did and the rest, as they say is history. A.M.O.K. stands for Arts Ministry Outreach for the Kingdom. In truth, I have sometimes wondered if it really ended up representing what I do. You see A.M.O.K. never really became what I envisioned. My original intent was to create a ministry where we would do musical theater productions and art exhibitions where believers would work along side people just seeking to do art in the hopes of opening doors to the Gospel among the people creating the production. When it came time to present whatever was created, my hope was the presentation would also include presenting the Gospel to the audience. It was all about outreach, and truth be known, I would still love to do exactly this.

The difficulty was, I was never able to form the rest of the team. I don’t have all the skills to do everything that it would take to get this kind of a project done. So instead I decided to do what I could do with what I had. I started to go out into churches and do one person presentations designed to share the Gospel and encourage others to use their gifts in the churches to do the same. It’s been a real blessing that has taken me to many wonderful places and allowed me to grow and flourish. I think this is a valuable lesson. We often will get ideas and even God-given visions that are somewhat ahead of their time and it is at that point that we have a choice. We can either lament the fact that we don’t have everything that we need to do everything we dream of, or we can look at what we do have and figure out how to do something great with what we have.

I never abandoned my vision for A.M.O.K. and my suspicion is that one day I will do exactly that. In the mean time, I intend to keep growing in all my skills to the glory of God, and doing as much as I can as often as possible. the Bible says we believers need to make the most of every opportunity. That doesn’t sound like sitting around until everything is perfect. It sounds like looking for opportunities, or with God’s help, making opportunities and running A.M.O.K!

What are you doing with what you’ve been given?

Whatever Gifts…

Posted: November 2, 2021 in Uncategorized

When you’re a pastor, your gifts get attention by default. I usually say I’m just the worshipper who is facing the wrong direction and I mean that, but the truth is, for an hour every week, a small group of people watch and listen as I try to communicate God’s truth to them. I love to preach and I hope it shows. Today is Monday, and it’s a whole different story. Today I have one guy replacing the bulb in our ceiling mounted projector, another repairing a toilet and another came by to help us to improve our internet service so we can do better with our streaming. These three guys have gifts that will largely go unnoticed. The bulb only gets noticed if it blows. The working toilet will be appreciated and the internet well that’s only ever noticed when it fails. but that’s kind of the point. All these things are important to the ministry of the church. The projector allows me to share visuals that will hopefully help our people to understand and apply the teaching. The bathroom is vital and streaming that does not fail, not to mention quicker uploads will serve everyone well online.

I can do none of these functions, at least not well, but that’s okay. I have gifted people who can work in their areas of gifting and get them done. I do what I do, they do what they do and together, we have a function ing church where everything gets done. I know if you’ve been a reader here a long time, you probably think I run this topic into the ground, but to me it bears repeating. 1 Peter 4:10 says, “Each one should use whatever gifts he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.” Working in our areas of gifting makes us instruments of grace and working in those areas together with others working in theirs makes us the body of Christ. What do you bring to the table? Bring it to your local church and serve alongside your brothers and sisters to the glory of God.

What About Halloween?

Posted: November 1, 2021 in Uncategorized

This year Halloween fell on a Sunday and while it did not really fit into my series to preach on it, I did make a short video sharing my thoughts on the history, the importance of the day and it’s meaning to the church. Here is that video.