Posts Tagged ‘art’

If you’ve ever wanted to see what I do in person, I got a great new video clip made from my friend Mark Myers at Smoky Roberts Film and Video Productions. He did a great job. I really love this message because it really sums up my passion for ministry and Mark did a great job capturing it.
I really hope you’ll take the time to check it out.

One likes to believe in the freedom of music,
but glittering prizes and endless compromises
shatter the illusion of integrity…”
-Rush, Spirit of Radio

Yes, I’m quoting Rush again… I can’t help it. i was listening to the radio and they came on and when I heard this line, it really stuck in my head. In their song they bemoan the idea of the music industry losing its integrity. That was 1980 and a lot of water has passed under the bridge since then, but listen to any pop station and you will probably have to admit not much has changed. Integrity in the arts is huge and often lacking.

But let’s go further. Add faith to the mix and integrity becomes infinitely more crucial. After all, we are trying to honor God with the gifts He has given us. We are trying to communicate His message, and represent Him to the world around us and that is no small task. How can we create with integrity?

Well for starters, what is integrity? It’s derived from the same word we get “integer” from. An integer is a whole number and integrity also implies a kind of wholeness. A creative with integrity, will bring his or her best to every task. They will let their yes be yes and their no be no, as Scripture says. They try to live a life worthy of their call and they honor God and everyone else as best they can.

Integrity in the arts usually implies originality. That’s not to say we’ll never quote someone else’s work (see above) or expand on what someone else has done, but it’s never a “knock-off.” I’ll now use myself as an example. This is not toe say that I have arrived, but as a Christ following work in progress, these are the goals. I’m a cartoonist, but I’m not trying to be the Christian (fill in the name of your favorite cartoonist here.) I’m trying to keep my eyes on my own paper and create the things God lays on my heart. i try to bring my best to every project, having a consistent quality that others can depend on. I work every chance I get to try to learn and grow and try to give God my best. Add to that trying to walk the talk and you get a pretty good idea of how I see integrity.

Integrity also implies giving credit where credit is due. I believe my gifts and talents come from God and with that should come huge doses of humility. Integrity also implies that I will try to help another creative, and that I will never undermine or undercut someone else. At the end of the day, I am trying to do my small part in creating a better world, by being a blessing. When I achieve this in big and small ways, I am close to integrity.

Now truth be known I could have gone a different way. Several year ago I went to a conference for my denomination. I was frustrated beyond belief at what was happening and I did not want to make a scene, so I did what I usually do. I got out my sketch book and expressed my feelings in art. I then came home and posted some of my creations to this blog and a funny thing happened.

I posted them here not as a statement about what was happening but as a demonstration of constructive, creative venting, just for my tribe of creatives that read this blog. Someone from my denomination asked if they could post a fe of the cartoons to their website. I didn’t see the harm so I said yes. Well a group that opposes that group got wind of it and began blasting the work. This drove the hits way up. My blog that gets 30-50 hits on a good day, got 511 hits in one day. This showed me controversy “sells.”

Don’t think the temptation to keep that going with more and more controversial stuff wasn’t huge, because it was. I love getting lots of hits and having lots of people read my stuff but that’s not why I am here. I am here to get the church creating, and to help the church embrace creatives and creativity. The controversy wouldn’t get that done, so integrity demanded I return to what I actually feel called to do.

Integrity is hard won and easily lost. Guard your heart and guard your work. A certain level of worldly success can be found in dropping your integrity. The artistic landscape is littered with the bodies of those who have done it. Real success comes with being true to who God made you do be and doing what you are called to do. Work in integrity with an eternal focus. Ultimately you won’t be sorry.

Anyone who has read my blog ( would know this is a book that is right up my alley, using creativity in ministry and as such, this book surely does not disappoint. While this book is great for creatives, there is another group that could probably use this book even more and that is people who do not believe they are creative. Dedmon tears down so many of the walls people build around their own creativity. I have always believed myself to be a creative and truthfully this book even felt liberating to me.

There is a wealth of information here from someone who is at the forefront of creative ministry and everyone could be blessed by reading it. I think at the ore of the message of this book is the idea that creativity is a gift from God that can, and must be used, in a multitude of ways to the glory of God and for His Kingdom. You were born to create. If you don’t believe that, you need to read this book and if you do believe it, read it anyway, it will spur you on to even greater love and good deeds.

I know this probably comes off sounding kind of obvious. Of course you want to be a blessing, but have you ever asked yourself how? Specifically for he sake of our theme here, how an you be a blessing with your creativity? How can you bless others and even more how can you bless our Lord and His Kingdom. In the specific, there are as many answers to that question as there are people and the only way to get your own answer is to seek the Lord for it. There are, however some general answers.

What I just described above is known as finding your calling. The first step in all of this is to find what you are called to do. Again this involves seeking the Lord, but there are a few helpful hints. First calling is usually found at the intersection of ability and opportunity. What has God gifted you to do and be? This is crucial in finding your call. Also really important is to ask the question what do you love to do and what do you want to be? While these are not always indicative of call, for the most part, God loves us and wants to bless us, so often things like passion, especially in the realm of doing good are good indicators that God might be at work in an area of your life.

Next is to do whatever you do as if doing it for the Lord. This implies that you will do whatever you do to the best of your ability. This is the truest definition of excellence and if we always bring our best, sooner or late someone will be blessed by it.

Perhaps the easiest way to be a blessing is to serve others. The old adage that people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care certainly holds true in this case. If you want to be a blessing use your gift to serve someone. In order to do that it’s a good idea to look for needs you can meet using what you have.

Now of course there are times where we simply need to do what must be done, whether we’re gifted for something or not. The trick though is to step out of the way when someone more gifted in that area comes along, whenever that happens seek the Lord to see where He would have you serve next. Chances are that area will be in your area of gifting.

One last thing, sometimes God moves into areas that are less than comfortable and where we feel like we’re in way over our heads. Why would He do that? Well first of all when we are in over our heads we become increasingly aware of our dependence on Him which is crucial to life on this planet. The other reason is really simple. Sometimes our areas of greatest gifting are found outside our comfort zone. I’ll use myself as an example. I have always been very comfortable working in visual art. I love it and it comes relatively easy for me, a natural gift. I could have stayed there forever. On the other hand, public speaking terrified me. The thing is both art and speaking are my calling. The two together seem to be where God has me at least of the moment. To get to that place, though I had to be stretched into speaking. I also never envisioned writing a book, but having to communicate and transmit ideas led to writing. Professional experiences in editing helped me to better understand good writing and before long writing books made sense. I’m not saying I’m the best in the world at any of this. but it does allow me to be a blessing.

Well we’re less than a year from Easter 2018, and I know it seems like that’s a long way off, but I’m going to embark on a project that will take me most of the year to complete and I thought I would invite you to find your own way to interpret the stations of the cross. Now I am not of the Catholic persuasion so I am going to use these as the stations:

1. Jesus Prays Alone
2. Jesus is Arrested
3. The Sanhedrin Tries Jesus
4. Pilate Tries Jesus
5. Pilate Condemns Jesus to Die
6. Jesus Wears the Crown of Thorns
7. Jesus Carries His Cross
8. Simon Helps Carry the Cross
9. Jesus Speaks to the Women
10. Jesus Is Nailed to the Cross
11. Criminals Speak to Jesus
12. Jesus Cares for His Mother
13. Jesus Dies on the Cross
14. Jesus is Laid in the Tomb

If you are of the Catholic persuasion you might choose to use these stations instead:
1 Pilate condemns Jesus to die
2 Jesus accepts his cross
3 Jesus falls for the first time
4 Jesus meets his mother, Mary
5 Simon helps carry the cross
6 Veronica wipes the face of Jesus
7 Jesus falls for the second time
8 Jesus meets the three women of Jerusalem
9 Jesus falls for the third time
10 Jesus is stripped of his clothes
11 Jesus is nailed to the cross
12 Jesus dies on the cross
13 Jesus is taken down from the cross
14 Jesus is placed in the tomb

Sometimes a 15th station is added, which would be the resurrection. While this is somewhat rarely done, I believe, unless the Lord leads differently I will add the 15th station as a larger painting.

I plan on creating 15 individual works of art around the stations. I will share them here as I complete them. Mine will all be roughly the same size so they can be easily displayed. I’m still seeking direction for how they will look but the more pressing matter is how they will be displayed and what I will do with them. I want to use them I’m my church but I’d also like to use them to take the story to the world beyond. I’d really love your feedback on that. How would you use a creation of stations of the cross to communicate the “greatest story ever told.” I’d also like to know if you plan on doing one of your own and of course I’d love to see your work. Let’s use this project to build some community here and spur one another on to love and good deeds.

The old adage says “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” Of course that’s not really whether mean. What they mean is do what you love and you’ll usually work harder than anyone else to keep doing what you love. You just won’t mind so much because you’re doing what you love. I know this to be true and I live it on a daily basis. This life of creative arts ministry is a lot of work. Between my church and my traveling ministry I put in a ton of hours. There is no substitute for practice, and the continued development of your gift in a life in the arts. People act as if the creative lifestyle is impractical. It’s not, you just have to decide whether or not you are willing to put in the effort it takes to do what you love.

Look anybody can do something they hate, (or mildly dislike, or whatever) for the money. I’ve had to and I would again if it came to it. I have responsibilities to the people I love. That being said, if I have my way, I’ll put in whatever effort I must to keep having the opportunity to create.

Why do I post this? Because I run into too many people who want it all now and wonder why it doesn’t happen instantaneously. Heck, I’ve been that person too. The truth is (outside the blessing of God) the road to your dream is usually paved with a lot of hard work. So practice, practice, practice. Create, create, create and then (and this is often the hardest part) put your work out there for the world to see. Also, the Bible says me the most of every opportunity… and while that passage is largely about sharing the Gospel, I think it applies to every area of life, especially the creative life. Whenever you get the opportunity to do what you love, do it for all you’re worth. Bring your all to the project. Do it as if you were doing it for Jesus, because at the end of the day, if you care about glorifying God with your life, that is exactly what you’re doing.

I remember seeing Skillet live at the Creation festival. They had already been playing for years, working hard, building a fan base and all of those other things that are covered by that simple little statement “paying your dues.” Then one year they got an evening slot on the main stage. That night they would play before 80,000 people and they brought it. Their performance was superb and they had more pyrotechnics and other show elements than anyone I Christian band I had ever seen and all the secular ones except possibly Kiss. Why do I share this? The had played thousands of gigs to get to that point, including many I’m sure to small audiences and in tough situations, and then one night the faithfulness paid off, they got a golden opportunity and they did it for all they were worth. As far as I am concerned they had cemented themselves into the role of headliners in that night, but that amazing performance was the result of lots of faithfulness, putting their hearts into their faith and their craft day after day after day. If we want creative success, if we want to do what we love, that’s what we must all do.

Doubt is common to us all, especially doubts in matters of faith, but there is (at least) one doubt none of us can afford. The children of Israel had just been released from Egypt. They were headed to the promised land. This was the land flowing with milk and honey, the land God had promised them since the time of Abraham centuries before. And now they were knocking on the door of all that God had promised. Moses sent spies into the land to check it out. They saw the land was everything God promised, stocked abundantly with everything they could have ever needed. The land was indeed good, but there was a problem. Huge people and fortified cities were throughout the land and doubt started knocking on the door of their hearts. That doubt became so extreme that by the time the spies returned, they worked the people up into such a frenzy that they wanted to kill Moses and the two faithful spies, Joshua and Caleb and then return to slavery in Egypt.

Their problem can be summed up in one word, doubt, but the doubt was specific. They doubted that God could deliver everything He promised. That doubt carried a death sentence of sorts. All the people who doubted died in the desert and the promised land was received by their children after having to suffer with their faithless parents for forty years. Their doubt was deadly and even the faithful, not to mention their children paid the price. The question is, could this happen to you?

Think about it, we are surrounded by God’s promises. They are all over Scripture and there is much ground to be gained for God’s Kingdom. The One who promised never to leave nor forsake us, has called us to go into all the world and make disciples. He has gifted us for that very purpose. We have the call and we have the resources. There is only one thing we lack. Will we have the courage to step out in faith and receive the promises? As soon as we set out there is this very real temptation to look at all that is against us, and there is a lot going against us. Our society is increasingly hostile to the good news, our faith is seen as politically incorrect, and while there is very little outward physical persecution, there can be no doubt that there are plenty of people who make it their mission to bully us into silence. These are the giants we face and the question is will we move forward or will we retreat and wander while our churches die and our children succumb to the whims of society or will we move forward in our call. The thing to remember is nothing is bigger or more powerful that the One who goes with us. If we wander in this desert, it is because we choose it.

Here’s the thing. The One who called you is faithful and in Him, you can do whatever it is He has called you to do. With God al things are possible and you can do all things through Him who gives you the strength. Yes, you can do whatever God has called you to do. You just have to face the giants an trust God to be bigger.