Posts Tagged ‘dreams’

Yesterday, I shared a call for champions. The more I think this through the more I realize we all need a team. Let me explain with a personal example.

The other night, my world’s collided. I was leading a paint party. One of the people at the paint party is also a fairly long time Facebook friend. She started talking to me about some of the pop/creature art I’ve been posting. This are looks very different from the work I do in my speaking ministry, but I came to the conclusion a long time ago that all that I do creatively is ministry. Some is for the church and some allows me to reach beyond the walls, but it’s all ministry. Well my pop/creature art is very much the beyond the walls part. It allows me access to a part of the world my more overtly Christian art won’t necessarily reach into. In these projects, it’s all about Proverbs 22:29 “Do you see someone skilled in their work? They will serve before kings…” I am trying to build my skills to the point where I can speak into the art world with the Gospel.

Lately I have had a vision for a kind of web portal to open that door. It is a unique interactive website that would show the work in a unique way and I really think it could yield some pretty cool results. I know it could benefit and reach a lot of people. I can see it really clearly, but I don’t have the technical skills to pull it off. The thing is, even though I already have a pretty huge body of work, generating the art for it will be extremely time consuming. Now I have some experience in web design, and I have very little doubt that I could learn the skills I need to do the “programming” myself, but is that the best use of my time? And will it be as good as what someone more gifted in that area can do? After all there are people out there that already have all the skills to do this work and do it better than I can. On the other hand when it comes to the art, I am the only one who can create what is going on in my head. Why should I do what others can do at the expense of what only I can do? It makes more sense to build a team. Understand, I am not talking about finding people to do the grunt work. To make this thing the way I envision, it requires an artist who works in code and programming. What I’m talking about is working with someone or even a group of people for whom this project could be their masterpiece. I’m talking about a group of artists of all sort of disciplines doing their very best to create something earth-shaking. I’m talking about a team.

This is really God’s vision when He speaks of the Body of Christ.

So last night I had a dream. I had done three stained glass pieces (a medium I’ve never used). They were abstract (a genre I’ve rarely worked in). Somehow I had an agent (something else I’ve never had) who got my work seen by a wealthy collector, who wanted to buy all three pieces. I was flabbergasted, especially when the collector told me the only reason he left the agent in the door was because my pieces were so good. He then showed me his collection pointing out all the expensive and exotic materials he financed the artists to purchase for use in their work. I don’t know that that’s how it works with collectors but remember it was a DREAM.

The collector then went on to make me an offer. He would either buy or sell as many pieces as I could make, at rates that would make me a very wealthy man. He would also finance all the materials, so I could use nothing but the best. I told him I was pretty inexperienced in that medium. He said it didn’t matter. So here’s the recap. A world class collector loved my work. He was willing to pay premium prices for my work while securing the world’s best materials for me to work in. Can I tell you, this would be the fulfillment of pretty much all I had ever dreamed of throughout most of my life? This would be everything I ever wanted for most of my life, but before I agreed to his terms I had a question:

Could I still preach?

I woke just after I asked the question, and my head was just spinning. I couldn’t help but realize this dream revealed a major change that has happened in me. There’s nothing wrong with making art for a living, and I really do hope my best pieces are still ahead of me, but thank you Jesus, for changing my priorities and  giving me a better dream.


This year, I am going to post creative challenges from God’s Word, the idea is simple, read the passage and create something based on it.

Today, as we consider goals, we want to look at Dreams and Visions

Acts 2:17

What are the dreams and visions the Lord has laid on your heart? How would you express them to the people around you? What steps can you take to bring them to reality?

There are at least two kinds of dreams, you know that, right? The first one is the kind I had years ago. I wanted to be a professional bass player, like Geddy Lee (Rush), Chris Squire (Yes) and all the others. There was just one problem. Those guys were virtuosos, they had spent years working to be who they are and they no doubt had tons of natural ability besides. I had neither. I used to say I wasn’t a very good bass player, but now I realize I might have been able to be at least passable, if I had been willing to put in the work, but I had other things that became more important than that dream and I put it aside.

Until last night, evidently, when I had the other kind of dream, the regular kind that comes from eating the wrong thing before bed, or maybe from God, I suspect this one may have been the latter, but the jury is still out. You see I dreamt I was invited to play bass for another 70s and 80s supergroup, another favorite of mine, Styx. I was getting ready. I was excited. I was talking to the guys from the band. I even was picking out the wardrobe I was going to wear on this huge stage, but as we got closer I had a nagging panic. You see, I came to the realization that I didn’t know the songs. I mean I know all their songs, but I didn’t know how to play their songs. Then I got relief, their bass player Chuck Panozzo, was there so I had some room. I asked James Young (guitar player, sometimes lead singer) if I could just observe for a while. I explained I needed to learn the music more. He said “Sure it was okay,” (remember, this was a dream) and then he said these words, “Don’t push the process.” From there I was inexplicably at a mall with some friends from church. They are in a choral group in real life and they wanted me to do some work with their group. (I think live painting but some details from this dream are a little sketchy.) I said I would love to, but I needed to see the group and rehearse and get ready. My friend said the same thing, “Sure you can do all that. Don’t push the process.” Then I woke up.

I knew I had to get up and write this down because there is a principle here for all creatives that needs to be addressed. Talent is one thing. I am of the belief that all of us have at least one. It’s a natural ability, something you just seem to be naturally good at and talent is great, but there is no substitute for hard work. Could I have been a great bass player? Maybe. Why didn’t I become one? Well I believe God had another plan, but there was something else at play. you see, I wanted to become a bass player because I had seen several of the best in the world (at least in the genre of rock music). I wanted to be like them, so I started out by trying to learn their music. The thing is they became the best in the world by being very, very good. I needed to start with easier material and work my way up. I needed to run about a billion scales and learn a lot of technique and put in ten thousand hours before I could scratch the surface of what they were doing. I didn’t do that. Instead I pushed the process, set myself up for failure and eventually gave up.

The second part of my dream showed growth. It would be a smaller venue. I was working in something where I have already put in a ton of hours, I probably could have faked my way through it cold and still come up with something that would have pleased many people, but that wasn’t good enough for me. I wanted to plan and prepare and bring my A-game to the table. I wasn’t pushing the process, instead I was willing to do the work.

In your creative dreams, don’t push the process and there is a process. There’s no substitute for for practice, hard work and preparation. Unless you’ve already done this, it is a mistake to compare yourself with people who are miles ahead of you. They got ahead of you by working the process. Start where you are and work the process. Find the venues that fit where you are in your journey and begin to put yourself out there, but keep working to get better. The best in the world keep working to get better. If your dream is worth the work to you, you will get there, if not it will fall by the wayside in favor of what God really has for you. Keep seeking Him and keep working to be the best you can be. Then share that with the world, allowing the venues to grow with you. That’s the process and it will take you to where you need to be, in due time.

Don’t push the process.

I painted in church this morning, but this was a little different than my usual approach. Usually I paint illustratively—the painting subject helps to tell my story. Today it didn’t really matter what I painted. I ended up “channeling” Bob Ross and painting a ten minute scenery, complete with happy little clouds and friendly little trees. All I was missing was the pet raccoon and the afro. You see in this painting what mattered was the process rather than the product.

My message was on vision and the point behind the piece was before I painted it, the image only existed in my mind. I needed to do that work so that everyone could see what I see. I had to make the invisible, visible. In Romans 4:17 it says of God, He is, “the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not.” All of creation came from His imagination, but what’s really cool is that He uses in in the same way. He lays on our hearts dreams and puts visions in our minds and allows us to participate in His creative process. He gives us dreams and allows us to do the work of bringing them to reality for all the world to see.

Our lives are best lived at the sweet spot where our faith, dreams, passions and concerns and our gifts and talents meet. If you’re seeking your divine purpose, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll find it at that crossroads.

crossroadscYour mission is like a painting, take the invisible and make it visible. Create your dream for the world to see.

Some passages of the Bible are extremely descriptive. Just reading them, you can see the images in your mind. I find this especially true when the Bible speaks of dreams and visions. I read one of these in my devotions this morning. It comes from the book of Genesis, chapter 41. Pharaoh has just had a dream. Seven fat cows are eating by the banks of the Nile when seven gaunt, skinny cows come out of the Nile and eat them up. What’s up with that? Carnivorous Cows? Cow-nivores? No, clearly this dream must be symbolic, and of course it is. Joseph is brought from an unjust prison sentence to interpret the dream. Seven years of plenty will be followed by seven years of famine. Not only does Joseph have the interpretation, he also has the plan. Save in the plenty to provide for the famine. In the process, Joseph saves the lives of many, many people including his family which would become the nation of Israel. He gets promoted from prisoner to second in command over all over Egypt. God always keeps His promises, even when He goes through unlikely, and even difficult means.

As I was reading this, an image came to mind, a pretty literal image admittedly, but I decided to capture it. You can see it below (click the image to download a free coloring picture). I love when I can do things like this, because as I was working on it and trying to figure out how to interpret it visually, I was also thinking a lot about this story and the faith that surrounded it. Not only that, but it gave me the opportunity to create something I can share with my friends to bless them and in the process share another story of God’s faithfulness.


God is good.

There’s an old story about the opening of Walt Disney World in Orlando. Walt had died not many years before and his widow was attending the opening. A well meaning on-looker said to Mrs Disney, “Oh if only Walt could have seen this.” Mrs. Disney quickly replied, “He could see it, that’s why it’s here.” I don’t know if the story is true or not, but there is a great truth in the story and it’s applicable to all creatives, especially those who use their creative gifts to serve the Lord.

Every creation starts with a vision. Before the world can see it, one person has to see it in the corners of his mind. At that point there is a choice, he or she can let the vision pass or he or she can begin the hard work of making the invisible (to everyone else) visible. To take a vision to reality is hard and daunting at times, but consider this, you may be the only person in all of humanity who can see what you see. That dream,that vision has the potential to bless and do great good, but only if you will do what it takes to make it real. Compound this for those of us, living a life of faith in God. Those dreams and visions in your mind, may well originate in the mind of One far greater. Those dreams and visions are not just pipe dreams, they are a calling. God has planted something wonderful, beautiful and important in you. Will you do what it takes to bring it to life?

You might think, “…but what I am thinking of is too big for me.” Good! “But I don’t know where to begin…” Pray and take the first step. “But I don’t have everything that I need…” God does! “But I don’t have what it takes…” Again, God does! “But I’m not good enough…” Ah, there’s the rub. When it all comes down to it, I believe that way of thinking kills more visions than any other. We think we’re insufficient. We might even be right but here’s what I’ve learned: God has a strange knack of empowering the insufficient. He uses the foolish things to confound the wise, remember. His grace is sufficient for us. “He who began a good work in you will carry it through to completion in the day of Christ Jesus.” Remember. God is not so much about success (for us) as He is about faithfulness. So give your best to what He has planted in your heart and watch Him bring it to fruition.

Let’s join with God in making the invisible visible. Let’s offer ourselves to making dreams and visions into realities. Let’s honor God with our gifts, laying our insufficiencies on the altar to the One who is all-sufficient.

To God be the glory. Let’s do the work!

Last night I had the strangest dream. I dreamt I was in this old house, the dream was even black and white, which is strange because I usually DO dream in color. A well meaning old man was lecturing a young man about the life he was living. I’m not sure who the old man was, but the young man was Elvis. The old man was getting nowhere and for some reason I felt the need to speak.

I called him over, “Elvis Aaron Presley, come over here, I need to talk to you.” He came over. “Sit down,” I said and he did. He looked like the young Elvis from the movies. I said, “Elvis, one day they will call you the King of Rock and Roll. You will be wealthy beyond measure and millions of young people will want to be just like you. They will follow your example. They’ll dress like you. They’ll do what you do… (a slightly sneering smile spread across his young face…) And by 1977, you’ll be dead because of your choices. Your choices matter, and they’ll matter to millions of people. People will do what you do.”

As I finished speaking, I thought I got through to him. Then there was a knock at the door. When it opened, a large crowd of people who were up to no good came to get Elvis for a night of “wild living” as the Scripture says. Someone asked him why he would do this after what I just said. He said “I have until 1977.” Then I woke up.

Why do I share this? First because while most of us will never be called the king of anything, we are almost all leaders (especially as creatives), maybe to a small group of people, maybe to a large one, maybe just to one or two other people, but for almost all of us, there are people who will follow us. The choices we make matter, so we need to make good choices.

Secondly, one of the things people lament over is the unknown quantity of life. If we knew when things would happen, we could do things differently. I don’t think it matters. If we knew our “deadline,” I’m not sure it would change very much. Human nature seems to say, “live now, pay later…” It has since the garden. The truth is every one of our choices contributes to the quality of life we will live. Choices matter, so make good ones.

This dream shook me up a bit. It made me take a look at my own life, because while I’m not in a place of debauchery, there are some areas especially in the realm of health, where I could be making better choices. I also knew almost immediately that I had to share it. So my guess is it’s for someone besides me. Is it for you?

Where will your choices lead? or better yet, Who will your choices lead?

It’s maddening isn’t it. In our house it happens every Friday night. Dawn, Chris and I usually go out to dinner on Friday nights and every night it’s the same thing…

Where do you want to go to eat?
I don’t know, where do you want to go?
I don’t know, where do you want to go?
and on and on and on.

Eventually, if this goes on too long, we end up having to pick the place that we know won’t have a long line, simply because we waited too long to pick in the process, we may miss out on something we would have truly enjoyed.

The same thing can apply to creating in groups. We come together to do something and fall into indecision. We all have ideas but we don’t want to be too pushy, or overbearing or maybe we think the rest of the group won’t like our ideas so we simply say “I don’t know, what do you want to do?” There’s nothing wrong with putting others first, as a matter of fact it’s a wonderful virtue, biblical even, but there is a better way.

Step 1. Pray together:
Ask God for His vision, His ideas for the group then discern together.

Step 2. Bring your ideas to the table:
The idea you’re having may well be part of God’s vision. Bring it to the table and share it. Often one idea will spark an idea in someone else and after a while, the vision may well catch fire in the group.

Step 3. Rely on God’s timing:
Sometimes ideas are for right now, and sometimes they are for the future. For example: When we first started the creative arts team at my church, some folks seemed interested in doing some drama. At the moment, it doesn’t appear we’re quite ready to do that, but it has been on my mind ever since. So while we move forward on the things that we an get done now, and need to get done now, I am on the look out for a drama piece we can start in on. Even if your idea is not something your group can do today, sharing it plants the seed in the minds of everyone involved.

Step 4: Support and acknowledge the dreams of others:
Working in groups can be foreign territory for some creatives. Many of us tend to work alone, especially visual artists. Working together with others, though, affords us the opportunity to enlist the gift of others. This makes us able to accomplish things we could never do on our own. Help each other out and together we can do great things. One of the best ways to live your dreams is to help others to accomplish theirs.

We tell this to our kids all the time. The problem is, it’s not true and I can prove it. You see I wanted to be a rock star. When I was a small child we were pretty much sheltered from tock and roll. My dad was drafted a little bit after I was born, it was the Vietnam era and I think rock and roll sort of reminded my dad of the long haired people who were treating the returning soldiers so badly. It was fine until I approached middle school when everyone else new all the current music and I had yet another reason to be considered odd man out. Slowly I started to seek out the music, find what I liked an I got somewhat interested.

The turning point came on May 13, 1980. Some friends of mine were going to see this band called Rush and somehow, I’m still not sure how, I convinced my folks to let me go. It took me about 15 seconds into the Overture of 2112, to figure out this was what I wanted to do with my life. It makes sense if you think about it. The show was visual and thought provoking, they were even showing videos on the screen behind the band. There were explosions and the music was amazing. Throw in a healthy dose of teenage rebellion and the fact that we all know “Chicks dig musicians” and I was hooked.

I started to become a rock and roll fanatic. I could tell you everything about every band that was out. I started playing bass about a year or two later (when I could afford a bass and an amp), and a year or two after that I joined my first band. The graphic below was our first album cover.
Suspect Device. We were one of the new wave/punk bands that were all the rage in the 80s. I wanted us to be a metal band, but I figured we’d transition to that after we “made it.” Our first single was a lyric I wrote called Domestic Plastic. Did you ever hear it? Of course not, the song never made it past the spiral notebook I wrote it in. I was in the band for about three or four rehearsals, when they decided someone else would work better on bass. Up until a few days ago the album cover existed only in my mind. I wanted to be a rock star and I never got there. You see there’s a difference between want to be and can be. I wanted to be a rock star. I even pictured the life I would have, right down to the first album cover. I just never learned to play very well and wasn’t really able to sing very well. I had the want to be, but I didn’t have the ability. It was not my gift. I wanted it pretty bad and I tried pretty hard but it wasn’t my path.

Of the five guys in the band, I’ve lost track of two, one is a police officer and two of us are now in ministry (The other guy does still use his musical gifts to serve the Lord). As I look back on it, I can see that these are the roles God had planned for us. Now I supposed if I had tried really hard and kept at it, I could have become a passable musician, but who wants to be passable? I had a gift for art. I had a gift for telling stories and communicating. In developing these gifts (yes that took a lot of work, but it still doesn’t feel like work), I became what I believe God intended for me to be.

So can you be anything you want to be? My experience tells me, “no.” I think it’s better to tell yourself and your children that the best thing we can be is what God intends us to be and then work to find and be that. After all isn’t that what we’re meant to be?