Posts Tagged ‘faith’

Someone dear posted about a struggle she is having over the use of the light of the world passage in the inauguration. I actually didn’t see it, not because I was boycotting or anything, but simply because I was working and didn’t have time to get away. I’m sure we come at things from different points of view. I’m older and somewhat more conservative and yet I could understand her angst. If you’ve been following this blog you know I think the election was sort of a no win situation and wonder if our two choices don’t reflect a nation under judgment. Nonetheless, her post spawned this response.

“Here’s what He [Jesus] said, “You are the light of the world, A city on a hill cannot be hidden, nor do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on a stand and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way let your light shine before people that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” Politics is part of the world system, and while occasionally people go in there and shine, government is not usually where the light comes from. At another point in Scripture Jesus said He was the light of the world. We reflect His light. We need to pray for our government, but we can’t wait for it. We need to shine. We need to do good for others in God’s name, whatever the government does and even in spite of the government sometimes. Darkness doesn’t exist. Darkness is the absence of light. When you find yourself in darkness, the best thing to do is shine.”

Regardless of your political position, what’s done is done and our job remains the same. We Christians are in this world to reflect the light of Jesus. Once you cast your vote, your part in the process largely came to an end. It is time to get back to shining the light by doing good and working in faithfulness to live a life of blessing and grace. If we are faithful to our calling, God will be glorified and when God is glorified, in big and small ways, things change.

In our world there seem to be an almost infinite amount of things we can be worried about—things that can strike fear into our hearts. Terror, the economy, even the upcoming election, all these things and many more can send us cowering into a corner. In the midst of everything, we have this command from Jesus to now worry:

Matthew 6:25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Like everything else Jesus said, it’s absolutely true. Most of what we worry about never happens and even the stuff that does happen is largely out of our control. No use allowing our fears to limit the size of our world. What is fear really? It’s imagination misused. We imagine the worst and the worst is what we end up with. On the other hand we serve a God for whom all things are possible. This should allow us to see past fear to infinite possibilities and when we see infinite possibilities we can stop cowering in fear and start working toward solutions.

The first step in any problem, whether real or imagined, is prayer. Take your worries, your fears and your actual problems to the One who knows everything. This is a first response not a last ditch effort. Then trust, obey and move. In every problem, God can. God is capable. We just need to be faithful and remember the first five letters in faithfulness are F-A-I-T-H.

Let’s imagine better and then work to make it so.

dothisfirstHere I sit in a crowded Starbucks. My son is taking his test for certification as a teacher here in PA and I decided to drive him to take the test. Starbucks is a great place to get things done, though the hustle and bustle is a little tough on the concentration. It feels in here like my brain feels most days. Conversations all over the place. The manager laments a broken machine and his inability to make certain coffee favorites. people shout their orders, the barista shouts the finished orders, as some sort of cool jazz/world music tinkles in the background and I am listening to a video besides. I’m embracing the chaos, while writing and drawing and trying to take some of the things in my head to reality, all the while overspending on expensive drinks to assuage my guilt for taking up table space for several hours.

The thing is, I was feeling thing way in my bed this morning. The following was flowing through my head. A new way to market some of my art, new ideas for art, a new creative resource, “What will I do for Sunday’s message?” and what should be the next message on my vision series at my home church? How will I book a few more dates on my two week tour to Florida in March? (“wonder how close I’ll get to Disney World and how mad would my family be if I stopped?”) Then there’s the page ideas for my next adult coloring book and how to sell the ones I already have. How many of my books should I order for my merch table and do the books I currently have fit what I do? I need to catch up my class today. Should I get the supplies today to make the three giant idols I have to make for a presentation in February? The new sketch devotional I have to finish and have printed before the March tour. What should I write to the people that faithfully follow AMOKArts and how can I upgrade this site and make it better? And that was just part of it.

What do you do when your brain is on overload? You’ll notice there is nothing on my list that is bad and most everything needs to get done. I know I sort of  harp on this a little bit but it bears repeating. Ideas are gold but they don’t always show up in their time. These showed up about 4:00 a.m. I laid in bed and fought for sleep until 4:50 then I got up and got started. You might think I dug right in on my work and too often that is what I did, but this year I have made a decision. At times I fall into a habit of jumping right into projects, first thing in the morning and before I know it, the day has flown by and I haven’t done what was most important.

So when say I got started, I went to my recliner and opened my Bible. I’m on a reading plan this year. Then when I finished my devotional reading, I read a little from the book I am studying, bundled up and went on my prayer walk. I was done by 7:30 a.m. and I was ready to work. Those ideas didn’t leave me and I am in the process of getting a lot of work done. This will be a pretty productive day.

You know me, I am all about chipping away at your projects, breaking them down into manageable steps and working hard to get things done. That hasn’t changed. The only way to succeed is to do the work, but before you do the work, connect to the One who inspires and empowers the work. Keep Him first and everything else will work out.  Jesus told us if we abide in Him, we will bear much fruit. He also said apart from Him we can do nothing. I have spent too many years striving in my own strength. From now on, everything starts at the source of my strength.

How about you?

Confession time: Sometimes being a daily blogger is downright frustrating. When I go and look at the statistics on how many people read these posts, it’s often discouraging. I see that even some of my closest friends, friends who are in this field of ministry, often don’t read it. There are even days when I think, “It’s pointless, let’s just not post for a couple days and see what happens.” I’m here to tell you, that’s the wrong attitude. Instead we need to do the three things listed in the title.

1. Trust God: My above thoughts are a little hypocritical. Most of my friends in this field are also regular bloggers, and truth be known, I don’t always have time to read their stuff either, as a matter of fact the better things are going, the less time I have to read. I love my friends and they love me, we are just really busy people. No point in being frustrated. I need to trust that the One who called me to this, the One who inspires the posts, is powerful enough to draw the people in who need to read it.

2. Be Faithful: I’m not asking you to become a daily blogger, I’m asking what God is asking, which is that you be faithful in doing whatever it is He called and created you to do. I’m becoming increasingly aware of how little I understand success when it comes to the Kingdom of God. I might be called to reach multitudes or my work might reach a smaller number, some of whom will reach multitudes. Success, at least personal success, is measured by one thing in God’s Kingdom: Faithfulness! Am I doing what God has called me to do? Yes. Have I prayed and given it my best effort? Yes. Have I put it out there for the world to see? Yes! If I can answer yes to those three questions (at least in the creative realm), then I am already successful. The rest is up to God, so see step one.

3. Love Your Audience: Just the fact that you take the time to read what I have to say, at any given moment, is a blessing. When I think about it and realize that God has given me the ability to touch lives all over the world, I am humbled beyond words. I do what I do, first for Him and then for you. The people that read your creations and appreciate your creations are worth their weight in gold. Do not waste time fretting over how many people you don’t have, sow into and love the people you do.

Trust the God who has called you to create to draw the people who need your work to it. Be faithful in consistently producing and sharing your best work. Love the people who are drawn to your work, appreciate them and always do your best to over-deliver.

If you’re reading this post today, Thank you. I pray it blesses you and spurs you on to doing your own good work and good deeds. I love and appreciate you.

Do great stuff today. To God be the glory!

There’s an old saying, “What I feed grows. What I starve dies.” This is crucial, especially in the realm of belief. If we will believe that we are worthless, that we have little to offer, that we can’t make a difference, that we aren’t creative, we feed a negative mindset that makes perception reality. It’s literally a self-fulfilling prophecy. Likewise, if we will believe that we have value, that we have something (maybe even great things) to offer, that we can make a difference, that we are creative, we feed a positive mindset that will make those perceptions reality. Who you are depends first and foremost on who God made you to be, but secondly, it depends on what we believe we can be, what we believe we are. What mindset are you feeding?

Remember this truth. Think your value is low or nonexistent? Consider the price your Lord paid for you. He gave His only Son to die in your place. Sounds like he finds you far from worthless. Second, If you believe you have nothing to offer, consider that Scripture says you are created in Christ Jesus to do something good that God planned in advance of your birth. You were quite literally created on purpose. If you believe you can’t make a difference, look at the people throughout Scripture who, though seemingly small and powerless, ended up doing great things and having tremendous impact. From the boy sold into slavery by his own brothers who ended up becoming prince of Egypt and saving his people, to the child of slaves, raised in the house of kings, who ended up tending sheep before becoming the leader of his nation, who God used to rescue his people, to the guy born in a stable who ended up saving the world. God seems to love humble beginnings.

Think you’re not creative? If you’re a Christian, Scripture calls you a child of the ultimate creative. Scripture tells us we are more than conquerors, children of the King, etc. etc. etc. The enemy of our souls, who’s been bent on our destruction from the beginning of time, has a lie to combat every one of God’s truths and promises. He lies because He hates you and wants to ruin you, yet, for some reason, when it comes to ourselves, we seem to find it easier to believe his lies that our loving Father’s truths. What we believe in these matters has a huge impact on who we will become.

What beliefs are you feeding?

I spoke recently at the Delta Lake Bible Conference Center in Rome, NY and had a great time. It was their Senior Saints Conference and I spoke on the topic of being Firmly Rooted. From Colossians 2:6-7. This is the painting I did.
I had some camaraderie with my audience, having recently moved into the realm of senior adults in my denomination (50 is to young for that 😀 ) and the fact that I will soon be a grandfather. I began total about the way people want to say we are in the winter years of our lives and that I think that’s a crock for people who will I’ve eternally, but if we are in the winter years, we need to learn a lesson from the trees. Trees in winter, at least this part of the world, look either dead or dormant but nothing could be further from the truth. We just don’t see what is happening beneath the surface. You see for a tree to receive life sustaining water in the frozen ground, it needs to drive its roots deep. Likewise we who have spent some time on this planet, need to drive our roots deep into Christ, by praying communing with Him, reading and studying His Word, etc. This is how we get our sustenance in a world that can be likewise hard and cold. Of course this also has a very desirable side effect. When our roots are driven deep, we can stand against the storms of life.

Learn the lesson from the trees. Drive your roots deeply into Christ and stand

I find myself at a point of major transition. The way I have supported myself for over a decade is about to change dramatically. I’ll be the first one to admit, my faith is being tested and my calling, questioned. First, let me state that I have no doubt I am called to be a minister of the Gospel. I also have no question that I am called to help the Church of Jesus Christ to embrace creativity and empower the people to use their creative gifts to serve the Lord, both in the Church and in the marketplace. I do not waver on either of these things. The question is in how does that manifest?

Should I attempt to do this while pastoring a local church while continuing to minister in other churches as the schedule allows? Should I press harder into being an itinerant minister, doing AMOKArts full time? Is the answer somewhere in the middle, or something completely different? I don’t know and not knowing can be tough. What do you do when you find yourself knowing God can and living with the uncertainty of what He will do?

The thing I know is to trust. Even though I don’t know what He will do or the direction He will take, what I do know is He is good and He has me in His hand. Secondly, while I don’t know the whole journey, I can see enough to take the next step and try to be faithful with every opportunity.

The big struggle for me rests in what to do. I desperately want to stay in the center of God’s will and not make a reactive move that sets me back in the journey. I want to keep moving forward in faith. My prayer is that God will open the right doors and that I will walk through them in faith. I also pray He will close, lock and bar the wrong ones (because I can be bullheaded). In those moments when faith is weak, I want to press in and draw close to Him, not do what I instinctively tend to do, which is try to take control of the situation. I don’t want to be that double minded guy tossed back and forth by the waves, but my confession is that guy is closer than I’d like to admit sometimes.

I know I can’t be the only one who experiences life like this. I’d appreciate your prayers and know that you are in mine.