Posts Tagged ‘book’


Let’s face it, creative people are not always the best at fitting in, and sometimes (most of the time) that’s okay. Standing out is often better, with in the creative world and the Christian life. There is a time though when fitting in is really, really, urgent. (Don’t worry you can still stand out, while fitting in.)

Here’s what I mean. I had been speaking to a young man, who had started to use his gift for his church. He was a comic artist, and the church had agreed to run his comic in the church newsletter. At first, he was elated, but before long, his elation turned to pain. The church decided to stop running the comic. His statement to me, was his church had rejected his gift. Now as an artist, I wanted to sympathize, but something else was also coming to bear. You see by that point, I was already in church leadership, and as a church leader, you learn pretty quickly there are two sides to every story. Rather than immediately sympathizing, I asked him to show me the comic. I understood the church’s position immediately.

The comic was biblical, so no issues there. The comic was well drawn and written, no issues there either. Here was the issue. He had chosen to tell the crucifixion story, which again is not an issue. The problem was stylistic. He went for extreme realism, which meant the piece was quite gory. It simply didn’t fit. There was absolutely nothing wrong with the work, but it did not fit the venue. When you get an opportunity to serve the church, you have to make sure that your contribution fits the environment in which it will be presented. Were his piece placed in a comic in a comic book store, it would have been an excellent evangelistic piece. It certainly would have fit in with the rest of the work there.

When we get the opportunity to serve with our work we have to make sure it fits the venue. Remember, when we do work, especially for the church, the people who call upon us to do that work are taking a risk. We need to honor their faith in us, by giving them something they can use. Sometimes it’s important to fit in.

Assignment: Look at the project or projects to which you are feeling led. Then consider what venues might be a fit for them. Look into how you might serve that venue with your work.

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There was a time in my life, when I was highly compartmentalized. If you had asked me I would have told you I was a Christian, and I was, but that my faith life and my art career were two separate things. To say that I was majorly conflicted would be a major understatement and that conflict almost ruined me. The Bible is pretty clear that we cannot serve two masters, or we will serve the one and despise the other, and while I will never say I despised God, it was pretty easy to push Him to the back burner. Learn from my mistake, I was in idolatry and I praise God that He left me fail at all my pursuits until I surrendered to Him. I once heard someone say something that may be germane to this conversation. If Jesus isn’t Lord of ALL, He isn’t Lord AT ALL. I wonder if that was the case to this day, but God freed me of that, I think…

You see recently I have been really drawn to making some work in a style some call “Low Brow Art.” It’s actually the kind of art that got me started as an artist when I was a child. It’s very cartoony, with monster-like characters sticking through the roofs of cars usually with huge engines and spinning tires. These were some of the first things I drew as a kid and I have always enjoyed that style. I love making these things, but I was a little conflicted. These things don’t fit with my ministry work stylistically. They’re frankly a little weird. As a matter of fact they were so far away from my ministry art that I knew they didn’t go together, so I restarted an old page on which to post them. This led to a couple of questions. I continued to feel drawn to making that kind of art, but were they taking away from my ministry? Was this wasting time? and worst of all, “Was I getting compartmentalized again?”

It was as I considered this, that I had what I think is a revelation. My heart is in ministry. I love what I do. I have also been fairly successful at being an artist in the Christian world and God has really blessed that ministry, but there was something that was missing. As a pastor I often talk to my congregation about being in the world but not of the world. I think this is essential to the Christian life and to obedience to our call. The problem was between my pastorate and my speaking ministry, I spend the vast majority of my time in the church, among believers. Yes I’ve been an artist in the Christian world, but what I have not been was a Christian in the art world. Maybe the reason I am being drawn to making this kind of work, is to be in the world, while not being of it. One of the things I love about Low Brow Art is it’s art for the masses. You don’t have to be a genius to understand it, nor do you have to psychoanalyze it, it’s just fun, and lots of people like it. I create something, share it, and people get to know me. Then sometimes I share something faith based that points to why I do what I do. I slowly began to realize this is not compartmentalized, it’s me going into the world while not being of it. I realize I will always have to guard against crossing lines, but something about making these weird creatures, feels strangely obedient. I will always be an artist in the Christian world, unless God says otherwise. Pray that God will use me in both spheres.

Assignment: Are you in the world but not of the world, or are you some other variation? Ask God to open doors for you to be salt and light in the world, pointing people to their creator.


One of the things that concerns me most in the church today, especially with regard to using our gifts in creative pursuits is the concept of God’s blessing. It is crucial that we get this point. I have heard many people over the years say something to the effect of “I tried that and God wasn’t in it.” or “God’s blessing wasn’t on it.” At times, I’ve felt the need to press in and find out why they thought this was the case and almost every time the response is some variation of, it wasn’t easy.

Oh that God would make everything that He wants us to do easy, but that is often not the case. More often the things He calls us to are anything but easy, and to see ease as a sign of God’s blessing, is to disregard the example of virtually every important person in Scripture, including Paul and especially Jesus.

Consider these words from Hebrews 12:1 and 2 (NIV) “…And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” Here we see Jesus, realizing there would be joy in the accomplishment of His goals, for Himself, for the Father and for us as well, and because He could see the joy that would come, He would endure the cross—perhaps the greatest difficulty faced by anyone, ever. Was crucifixion easy? Absolutely not! Was God’s blessing all over that situation? Beyond a doubt and so it is with us.

The writer of Hebrews relates this Christian life to a race. Races are likewise the antithesis of easy and so we are urged to perseverance. In other words, God is saying, He knows it’s hard, but we need to keep going, because the goal is worth pursuing.

I want to close this passage with a reminder from one of the most persevering people in all of Scripture. Paul wrote in Romans 5:2-5 (NIV) “…And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” Struggle is part of this life in Christ, probably by design, because of what the struggle produces in the life of the believer. Perseverance and character are so urgently needed in our world today, and notice they bring a wonderful side effect, hope.

What God has called you to will most likely not be easy. Do it anyway. Persevere. Let God use the struggle to build you. As Churchill once said, “Never give up and never surrender.” Well maybe it’s better stated this way, “Surrender to God and never give up.”

Assignment: Look back over your life. Was there anything you gave up on because it was hard? What were the effects of your giving up? Any regrets? Now look at you current goal. What will be gained if you succeed. What will be lost if you quit.


Up to this point in this stream of consciousness, I’ve devoted a fair amount of time talking about offering your best, and I think I may need to unpack that a bit. You see I hear a lot about “excellence” in the church, especially pertaining to creative ministry, and that’s great, but I have a question. What does it mean?

You see in some places, I think we almost idolize talent, to the point where the talented can get away with just about anything, because they’re gifted. In the world, that may be the case, but in the church, it should never be. Honestly, it can even be disastrous in the world, but that’s not the realm I’m exploring. Ask me which is more important, character or talent, and I’ll take character every time. We do ourselves a disservice in the Kingdom of God if we accept any less.

On the other hand, sometimes people minimize the importance of work done in and for the church. You know, “Well it’s not the best, but it’s god enough for church.” Perish the thought. All you need to do is go back to the Old Testament and the requirements for sacrifices to see that the Lord expects our best, and rightfully so, because He gave His best.

I hope you caught those two words in that last sentence, because they are crucial. The words, in case you missed them, were “our best.” This is the key to everything. When churches look for excellence, what they are often really looking for is people who are successful by the world’s standards. I find that a little tragic, because if we are looking for excellence by the world’s standards, the novice, the person developing their talents need not apply. The result is sometimes very glitzy and polished, but sometimes lacking heart and soul. But what if excellence was the best you can do today? What if we just expected people to work in their area of gifting, bringing the best they have today? To my mind this is key.

Look, the arts are subjective and so is excellence. Were this not the case, there would be a massive cleansing of museums tomorrow. Who’s to say what’s good or great or excellent? And in the church, who’s to say what will touch a heart or mind? What if excellence was defined as bringing our very bet to the table? What if we were genuinely seeking our calling, and gave our best at each and every opportunity? Truth is, if we did this, everyone would be learning and growing, and we’d have a lot more participants and a whole lot less spectators in the church.

Isn’t that what we want?

Assignment: Find something you did some time ago and compare it to what you’re doing now. Do you see growth? If not, how could you work toward growth?


I need to mention, I got this book for free in exchange for a review on my blog and various other sites. That being said, I promise only to ever give an honest review. That being said, this is a good one.

I’ll say this, Jerry B. Jenkins can tell a story and in this book he tells two. One a modern day whodunnit, featuring a Messianic Jewish father and daughter being investigated for attacking the mother/wife they both love. The other is the fictionalized tale of the birth of Abraham to his devout mother and his idol making father. Both stories are page turners and I thoroughly enjoyed both of them. I sometimes wish a half star option was available, because I would like ding this great book, just a little bit in that it spends it’s entirety setting up the sequel. I should not be surprised by this. Jenkins is half of the team that created one of the best selling book series of all time, but I got to the end of the book and was still wondering what these two great, well written stories have to do with each other. I’m sure it will be masterfully shown in the coming sequel(s), but I would have liked a little insight in this volume. Please don’t get me wrong, I still highly recommend this book, and you will find it thoroughly entertaining, and I am really excited to read book two, I just wish he had given me a little more to tie the two stories together. Still a great book. Get it.


I got this book as a free review copy from the publishing company. I guess that technically makes it a paid review, but truth be known, I am just grateful to have read this excellent book. I am prepared to say that every person in ministry should read this book. John W. Gray III is an associate pastor of Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church as well as the senior pastor of Relentless Church in South Carolina. His success is notable, but he starts this book talking about how while he was rising to the top and speaking all over the world, his marriage was falling apart. With his priorities out of whack, the man the world knew was very different from the man his family knew.

The subtitle of this book says it all. Finding yourself by facing yourself. By paralleling his own story, with the story of Jacob from Genesis, Gray succeeds at writing a book that is both inspiring and immensely convicting. This book was challenging on every page and had me checking myself. You see, you don’t have to be preaching at one of the largest churches in the world to find yourself getting out of alignment with the will of God and while I don’t think I have strayed too far, I do feel that God gave me this book for such a time as this. If you are in any form of leadership, you really should read this book.


Explanation: the act or process of making something clear or easy to understand.
—Merriam-Webster Learner’s Dictionary

Here’s my explanation. I woke up one morning thinking about a presentation I did a few years ago that dealt with imagination, inspiration and creation. It was about God’s creative process and involving God in our creative process. It was sort of a twisted alliteration. Rather than all the words beginning with the same letter, they all end with the same five letters A-T-I-O-N. All of the sudden a flood of words came into my mind, all ending with those same letters. In one way or another, all these words could easily be associated with God, faith and the creative process. Before long I was writing them all down and contemplating whether they could form the basis for a new book. What if I could find 52 of these “ation” words and use them as sort of a creative devotional to help creative people of faith to consider more deeply their creative calling. There would be one word a week, complete with a definition, a meditation, related texts for further study and creative project ideas to take the concept further. It is my hope that this project will bring people to clearly see the connection between their creativity, their Creator and their calling.

Even as I begin this project, interesting thing are happening. Every time I type the suffix “ation”, auto-correct keeps changing that to “action” and that is probably not coincidental, because the suffix is defined as “an action or process.” Each of these words calls upon us to act in some way. Now of course some will touch you more than others and some will bring greater motivation than others, but I believe all of them have something to offer. So let’s start off looking at “explanation.”

True I used this word to introduce this project, but explanation is a huge part of our calling as Christian creatives. Consider 1 Corinthians 14:9 So it is with you. Unless you speak intelligible words with your tongue, how will anyone know what you are saying? You will just be speaking into the air. 10 Undoubtedly there are all sorts of languages in the world, yet none of them is without meaning. 11 If then I do not grasp the meaning of what someone is saying, I am a foreigner to the speaker, and the speaker is a foreigner to me. 12 So it is with you. Since you are eager for gifts of the Spirit, try to excel in those that build up the church.

Now one could argue this is about speaking in tongues, and for the record it is, but I believe there are other applications at play here. Consider the new believer in your church. Do you think they understand everything that is being said? As someone who became a believer at 22, I can tell you, they don’t and we Christians tend to forget that and because of that, we tend to “talk over people’s heads.” We may not be “speaking in the tongues of angels” but we might as well be, because we are not being understood. Our message is too important for that. We need to be understood, and as such we need people who have a gift of explanation…