Posts Tagged ‘Christian’


StryperThis one is going to take some explanation so please bear with me. I remember in my early days of faith, when I first discovered “Christian rock.” It was amazing for me. Having been to over seventy rock concerts before my conversion, I was having difficulty. The lyrics of some of my favorite songs, songs that had shaped my pre-Christian life, suddenly didn’t sync up with my new faith. Then came Stryper, and dcTalk and the Newsboys, etc. and all of the sudden there was music to bridge the gap between my old music and my new faith. My feathers used to get pretty ruffled when a musician who happened to be a Christian would try to differentiate, we’re not a Christian band, we’re Christians in a band… I used to see them as turncoats but I can now see it a little differently.

Is there such a thing as Christian music or Christian art? By strictest definition, probably not. Jesus didn’t die to save art and music, He died to save people. Our creations as Christians exist as a manifestation of that new life. Our work is not Christian, we are Christians trying to do God honoring work. We talk a lot about redeeming the arts (you no doubt can point to pages here where I have talked about it). What’s really happening though is God is redeeming artists, who then create from a new world view. I know this sounds like semantics, but it’s not. See when we set out to create “Christian art” it narrows our focus and it can also narrow our reach. I remember Michael W. Smith being rejected for a Dove Award for “Love Me Good” ostensibly because it wasn’t “Christian enough.”  I’ve met the man. He is “Christian enough.” He simply chose to write a song that wasn’t outwardly Christian and he took some flack. My question is why? If our mission is the great commission, then getting our work beyond the walls of the church is really important. We don’t need our work to be “more Christian.” We as artists need to be more faithful followers of Jesus and let our light shine into the darkest corners of our world. Our work is part of the act of shining, but it only truly shines when it is empowered by the love of Christ. Our mission is not to make Christian art, our mission, as spelled out by Jesus Himself, is to make disciples.

I met another Christian music artist who spelled it out pretty clearly for me. He referred to his band as a “youth group band.” Their mission is to edify the church, to create work that uplifts and encouraged the people of God to do the work we are called to  do. In a sense, if we are talking the five fold gifts from Ephesians 4, their calling is pastor/teacher. He then began to talk about other bands, bands whose work goes beyond the church. Their gift is more in the realm of evangelistic/apostolic. Which is more important? YES??? My presentations like Pictures of Jesus are more the first type of work (though definitely wandering into evangelistic), while some of my newer things I am hoping you hear about soon, are the latter. Both are designed to honor God and with his help, they will.

Maybe we need to stop trying so hard to make Christian art and start living more God honoring lives, offering our work to God to be used as He would have it used. One thing I know for sure. My most effective times of ministry as an artist were the times when I got out of the way, and made what I felt God leading me to make.

What is God calling you to make?


On this, my nation’s birthday I’ve had some thoughts related to my daily devotions. You see I’m on a one year Bible reading plan through the Chronological Bible. As providence would have it that means I am working through the books of 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles along with some of the prophets. This is the period of time in biblical history when the divided nation Israel is falling to the Assyrians and the Babylonians. God’s chosen people were feeling the consequences of their sins and found themselves in exile, far from the promised land.

Their crime was idolatry. Their history was cyclical. They cried out to God and He rescued them and blessed them. Then they would trust more in their blessings than their God and would fall away, following instead the idols of the surrounding culture, which would inevitably lead to their downfall, at which point they would cry out to the Lord and cycle begins again.

How much different is this than what we are seeing around us? We are one of the most blessed, most prosperous nations the world has ever seen, but somewhere along the way, we have forgotten where our blessings came from to the point where we trust in our own prosperity and God is pushed out to the periphery. It’s gotten to the point where the very mention of His name in certain circles is grounds for a law suit and freedom of religion has been corrupted into freedom from religion. We have become our own gods and our idolatry is reaping consequences that defy the imagination.

Don’t believe me? Judge for yourself. Our money says “in God we trust” but with God out of the picture, we trust in our money and what is money? Pictures of dead presidents printed on paper that has value for one reason and one reason only, because we said so. It’s an idol we need to continually prop up with what? More dollars, to the tune of trillions of dollars. Gold is no better, it’s a shiny rock made valuable for much the same reason.

Then in an election year like this one we show we trust in politicians. I think of the near messianic adulation Barack Obama received in 2008. Hear this and hear it well, I have nothing against President Obama and I pray for him. This is not a political message. But when a society tries to keep a candidate from acknowledging the Messiah, they expect him to BE the Messiah and no man is that good. Let me ask a question, if politics and politicians could solve our problems, don’t you think they would have done it by now? The strength of our government is also its greatest weakness, they “derive [their] just powers from the consent of the governed.” The problem is us, the governed. We get to elect our leaders and we elect them based on how well they serve our idols. Our problem is idolatry. We need to return our worship to the only One who deserves it.

Solomon said there is nothing new under the sun and he’s right. This has all happened before so let’s learn the lesson. Let’s fall to our knees before we are driven to our knees and reach our hands to the Lord, the merciful God who has blessed us so richly. Church of Jesus Christ, this all starts with us. We need to proclaim the Gospel. We need to be about the ministry of reconciliation that has been entrusted to us. It is clear, we are a nation that needs to be reconciled to it’s God. After all as Romans 10 says, ““Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

14 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15 And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” Church, preaching is our job and we need to do it.

Let’s learn our lesson from ancient Israel we may be a free country, but we are not all that independent as a matter of fact we are totally dependent on God. We need to remember that everything we have is a gift from Him. We need to return our trust to where it belongs and may God bless America.

Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD…Psalm 33:12
Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, Psalm 33


I was going through some old photos last night and I found a few pieces that were crucial to my journey to where I am now. Each of these pieces has something to do with why you are reading this blog and why I am doing art ministry today.

Believer T-Shirt
So there I was, I had just become a Christian, I was 22 or 23 and I knew three things. I was an artist, I loved rock music and I wanted to serve the Lord. There was a local magazine called the Pennsylvania Musician that I used to get. I went through their classified ads and found all the Christian bands. I contacted them and none of them worked out, but one guy connected me with his college roommate, Dave Baddorf from Believer. I did their original logo, first T-shirt and stage drop. They went on to put out a couple albums back in the day. It was a great experience for me and probably the first time I used my art to serve the Lord.
Believer T-Shirt

VBS Backdrops.
This was one of my many Vacation Bible School Backdrops. This represents the first time I put my gift to work in the church itself. I was a new believer, floundering in a ministry that didn’t fit me when my pastor came to me with a project I could handle, something I knew how to do and it really connected me to the church. The ramifications of this project were astounding. When I came into the church I was terrified of public speaking. Painting these backdrops, led to acting in skits, which led to teaching classes, which led to youth ministry, which led to preaching and finally to the pastorate and speaking ministry I have today.
Vacation Bible School Backdrop

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Backdrops
The ability to paint backdrops and large paintings led to a couple freelance jobs. Probably the coolest of them was I painted backdrops for a licensee of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. While the project was extremely cool to work on this was also in some ways a huge stumbling block. The Turtles were making huge piles of money (billions) when I was doing this and the client had me convinced he was going to make me rich and famous. I sold out badly, and really fell into idolatry. This was a time of real turmoil for me. We were really broke, but God would always provide a job and a check when we needed it. God finally dealt with my idolatry or maybe he was dealing with it for a while and I finally got it. So guess you could say it was sort of the best of times and the worst of times. in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles BackdropsTeenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Backdrops

Theater Sets
Once I knew how to do backdrops another door opened to some of the most rewarding work I have ever done. I art directed the high school musicals for my alma mater for seven years. Beyond the fun of the art, this job ignited my passion for working with youth and when the youth leader position came open at church, I couldn’t wait to get started. It was out of my youth ministry that I discovered art as a teaching tool which was the genesis of AMOK as it exists today.
42nd Street, Tulpehocken High School
42nd Street, Tulpehocken High School

The Outhouse Mural
I place this one in for perspective. In some ways the Creation Festival is where my ministry started. The first thing I did in church ministry or at least the first church leadership position (since looking back almost all of it was ministry) was took a group of students from the church to Creation East. To say it was life changing is a huge understatement. One year the organizers of the festivals had a contest for people to design murals for the outhouses on the grounds. Mine was one of the designs selected and so I got to paint it. The irony is this: The festival gets about 80-100,000 people each year. After years and years of struggling to become rich and famous as an artist, the painting I’ve done that’s been seen by more people than any other is painted on a toilet. Some things just help you keep life in perspective.
Creation Festival Outhouse Mural

Why do I post all of this? To remind you that God is always at work in your life so take the next step in faith. Zechariah 4:10 reminds us not to despise humble beginnings. You never know how God is going to use what He is doing in you, so trust Him and make the next step.



This message is based on Jonah chapter 4. Jonah ran from God, got turned around by a storm and a giant fish, and then finally went and did what God told him to do. When Jonah did what God told him too do, he saw great success. The whole city repented. You’d think Jonah would be happy…



I finally got the chance to put all the great photos Donna Parcell took of A Night AMOK and put them into a promo video for the new A Night AMOK: Pix of JC page here on AMOKArts.com

Pix of JC is an evangelistic presentation, A Night AMOK: Pix of JC (Pictures of Jesus). This hour and half long program is designed to introduce people to Jesus and inspire and encourage people to “paint a better picture of Jesus” with their lives by representing Him well and using their God-given gifts to serve God and others. To bring A Night AMOK to your church, contact Dave Weiss at AMOKArts@aol.com

Photo Credit: Donna Parcell, Indian Creek Church of the Brethren


CREACHER Culture Cause And Effect
It’s a question for the ages and the church really needs to answer it…

For more on CREACHER, go to the CREACHER Blog at creachertoons.wordpress.com


Needless to say I’ve been reading the passages around the crucifixion and resurrection over the last few weeks. I came upon the passage where Jesus rides into Jerusalem on the colt of a Donkey (Palm Sunday) from Luke. The people are finally (if only momentarily) giving Jesus the praise He deserves. The pharisees hear their praise and are deeply offended. They tell Jesus to silence His disciples. Jesus’ reply is “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” I love that quote but as I started to think about it, I found myself wondering something.

IllustrationFriday.com Challenge: Vocal

Most people in our society would have a hard time saying Christians are a quiet bunch. We’ve been quite vocal about a great many issues, usually those we have come out against. I’m not saying it’s wrong to take an unpopular position, nor am I saying it’s wrong to stand on principle. What I am questioning is do we spend as much talking about WHO we’re for as we do about what we may find ourselves against (or our issues and causes)? Do people see us as loving representatives of the One who dies to set us free or judgmental jerks who alienate them from the God who loves them.

Jesus told us people would hate us because we belong to Him. As a result, we should expect to not always be popular. If we’re unpopular because of Jesus, that’s honorable, but there is no honor in being hated because you’re a jerk.

Be vocal about Jesus, and speak the truth in love.