Posts Tagged ‘dave weiss’

Right now a lot of my regular readers are likely scratching their heads, and the people from my home church are likely more than a little frustrated so I better explain myself. You don’t have to go to church. For that matter, you don’t have to go to work or school, you don’t have to bathe or eat or drink or sleep. well I suppose the urge to sleep will eventually overtake you in spite or yourself, but the rest are ultimately choices we make. And by the way choosing not to do any of them will be detrimental to your life.

I was listening to Dan Miller’s podcast and he reminded me of what I already know. How we think about things matters. All of these things are choices, and they are also privileges. You don’t have to do them, you get to do them. Going to church is not a have to, it’s a get to. Getting together with other believers to worship the Lord. That’s a privilege. Singing God’s praises, that’s a privilege. Lifting your prayers to the Lord is a privilege. Reading God’s Word and studying it together is a privilege. These are all things that hold huge benefits for our lives and they are all an amazing privilege. You can say, I can do most of these on my own, without entering the church. No respectfully, you can’t. Oh there are times to do all these things personally, on your own, and I am a huge advocate of living a life of worship, but worship was also designed to be done in community. Studying God’s Word was meant to be done in community. Prayer and praise were also meant to be done at least at times in community.

Now I know what you might be thinking. People in the church have done this or that or the other thing. They’re hypocrites. You’re right. Church people sometimes fail to live up to God’s standard and even their own. So do you, am I right? I often compare the church to an airport. Everybody walks through the door dragging their baggage behind them. There are no perfect people anywhere, but when we come together we can build each other up, and lift each other up, and together we can be better together than we are alone.

Bottom line. You don’t have to go to church, you get to go to church. The church needs you, and you need the church.

I spent most of my life wanting to be a professional artist. The result was some fun and a few really interesting projects surrounded by a LOT of frustration. Sure, I got to work with a licensee of the Ninja Turtles for a while, but I also designed grocery circulars by the thousands. Sure I got to do some really cool murals and other pieces at a local tourist attraction, but I also spent quite a few years cutting and pasting while anything really creative was outsourced. In all those years, I consoled myself by telling myself and everybody I was a professional artist. It was technically true, but if I have to be honest, most of it was not fulfilling. This was not the life I dreamed of.

Today, I’m a pastor.

Now you might think I have put my art on the sideline. Totally and completely untrue. I probably do more art now than I did when I was trying to convince myself I was a professional artist. I do tons of graphics and illustrations, I work on creative ways to communicate God’s word. I teach painting workshops as an outreach and I get to travel and do live paintings while communicating the Gospel. Do I technically earn my living as an artist? No. Do I sell a lot of paintings? No, but here’s the thing. I am more fulfilled artistically than I have ever been in my life, and my work is seen and appreciated my a very supportive “audience” who is blessed by what I do. I don’t sell a lot of paintings, but people pay me to come and paint them, and I have given hundreds of them away. Am I an artist? Yes. I always have been and barring disaster, I always will be, but I have actually found something that matters to me much more. My God-given ability has not been wasted at all, as a matter of fact, for me, I believe I have found the most God=honoring use for what I have been given possible.

So many creative people pressure themselves to make their whole living in their chosen art form, and consider themselves as failures if they can’t pull it off. I did that to myself for entirely too long, and if I can, I’d love to save you the trouble. All that pressure cannot help but stifle your creativity, but what if, instead you look for the right opportunity, something that allows you to bring your best creativity to the table in a way that fulfills you creatively, plays the bills and allows you to bless and serve others.

I am not trying to make you a pastor, unless that is what God is calling you to do. What I am saying is life is to short and your gift is too valuable to waste it in compromise and frustration. Rather than insisting that you need to be a professional artist (writer, musician, etc.) with all the accompanying pressure, why not keep your eyes open until you find a way that fulfills you, and brings value to our world.

Well welcome to 2020 and at the risk of sounding cliched, what is your 2020 vision? What are your goals? What has God laid on your heart? What would you like to accomplish? What do you hope to create? What are your personal hopes and dreams for your life and family? Bathe it all in prayer, seek the Lord and make sure to get in His Word. My prayer is that God would bless you abundantly. and bless you in more ways than you can ask or imagine, so that you can live to His glory.

“Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland. Isaiah 43:18-19

May God make you a part of His new thing!

This is the third message in our Advent Series, Let Heaven and Nature Sing. This one is based on the classic hymn Hark the Herald Angels Sing.

I use social media a lot, and for the most part it’s a very useful tool. I can connect with friends, make new friends, share my ideas and projects and find people out there who like what I like and even collaborators. Of course there is another side of it. The side where people malign my faith, my church and my God. When that happens, part of me wants to rip out my poisoned pen and give them a piece of my mind. Sometimes I want to just send a sarcastic comment, and other times I want to go full on artistic and create a cartoon or a meme that will just blast them. For the record, I can be pretty good at this as sarcasm is one of those things that dwells a little too close to the surface for me sometimes. The things people say make me quite angry, they’re almost exclusively unfair and so I rationalize that they have it coming.

Lately, I’ve had to ask myself a question. “Is that who I want to be?” and the even more convicting, “Is that who Jesus wants me to be?” I’m pretty sure the answer to the first question is “no” and the answer to the second is “definitely not.” Let’s just be real. Does the world really need another angry, sarcastic person, let alone an angry, sarcastic Christian? I think not, so it’s time to drop my poison pen.

Consider this, if you hold to the orthodox Christian belief that Jesus is the Only way to the Father, then the people who hate Christ are in something beyond mortal danger. They are in danger of missing out on eternal life. (See John 14:6) How do you think Jesus would want us to react to someone in that kind of danger? Would He have us pick a fight, combating them with sarcastic, snarky rhetoric or would we be better off praying for their souls, showing them love and modeling Christlike behavior, sharing His truth in word or deed? I think in 99% of the cases, the second tack is the one to take. Consider what Jesus did for His detractors. True, He did occasionally confront people, but the people He confronted were usually either false teachers or religious types who were building walls where Jesus wanted doors. Was He against sin in all its forms? Yes, but He loved sinners sacrificially and laid down His life for them.

The world doesn’t need my poison pen. The world doesn’t need me spouting off in (self) righteous indignation. The world needs me sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ in a way that seems like good news. My need to be right has got to be secondary to my need to be righteous. There is a world of difference and eternity is at stake. That love your neighbor thing, even your obnoxious, mean, nasty, anti-christian bigoted neighbor, yeah, Jesus meant that. How can you show the love of Christ today.

Okay, I know what you’re thinking, so let me state it. First and foremost believe in God. Place your faith in Jesus, trust Him for salvation, and everything else. Nowhere in here am I calling for idolatry or anything like that. Instead I am asking you to overcome the naysayers and act on the ideas that come to you, when others don’t quite get it. If you don’t believe in your idea no one else will. You have to believe.

What reminded me of this was today when I was at the bank. My bank has this closes circuit TV thing that plays little news flashes in sort of a slide show format. I was closing up my transaction when I saw it. They had a little blurb about one of my favorite things—Star Wars, specifically the new movie that comes out soon. I know there is a huge buzz around this movie and I am really looking forward to seeing it. When I think of all the billions of dollars that property had made, it boggles the imagination, but you know what’s even more mind boggling? Several studios passed on it. It was a weird idea, Sci Fi was seen as a dead genre and seen as a huge risk, George Lucas had to believe in it, run past the nay sayers, and get it done. When I think about it, there is a realization. I am 56 years old. The first film came out when I was in seventh grade and they’re still relevant. Creative ideas have a way of taking on a life of their own.

Then a few days ago I was watching a cool show called The Toys That Made Us. The first episode of this season was on another of my all time favorites. Two guys who wanted to be comic book artists, got together one night and started to sketch. They were goofing around and started off trying to crack each other up, when one of them drew a turtle with a pair of nunchucks. This was the birth of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Needless to say, at first a lot of people didn’t get it and Eastman and Laird decided to self publish. Before anyone else would believe in it, Eastman and Laird had to.

These are just two of many ideas that people didn’t get that ended up really making a mark, not to mention making their creators very wealthy. I’m not saying money should be a primary motivation, rather I’m saying create something that means something to you and then believe in it enough to do the work. Now you might wonder what this has to do with the spiritual component of this blog. Well I’ll tell you, and it might be a bit of a stretch, but I don’t think so. Consider our heavenly Father, the ultimate creator. His love and care for us an all He has done for us, culminating in the gift of Christ. Consider the parable of the talents where the master invests talents in his servants and one thing becomes clear: God believes in His creation. Maybe it’s time we believe in ours.

Now again our faith in Christ has to supersede everything else, but we need to believe in what we do enough to do the work and put it out there, because you never know what will happen if you do it, but you know nothing will happen if you do nothing.

Now look, some ideas truly have no merit, but don’t be too quick to write your idea off as crazy. Pray and do the work if the Lord leads. After all you never know. I’m not saying Star Wars or TMNT are godly creations, but, again, creative ideas have a way of taking on a life of their own. After all someone green-lighted a movie about sharks in tornados… Six times!

I’ve been working on a project. It started off as a blog post and ended up taking on a life of it’s own. What ended up happening was a post on failure turned into another post on failure, which led to fear of failure which led to fear. From there I started to think about faith as the way to overcome fear, and the reason we can have faith is because God is faithful and because God is faithful we must be faithful. All of these F words, and before long, I had an unusual idea that really speaks to my mission for helping and encouraging creatives in the church and before long, I was off on a whole other piece, with an intriguing title. Lots of words are in place (50,000 plus, lots of editing be done and it’s a slow process, but I’ve generated a cover. What do you think?