Posts Tagged ‘faithfulness’


Well on the morning of June 26th I hit the road again. I am traveling to Saginaw, Michigan to do Pictures of Jesus at a great church called The Church in Drive. From there I will be headed to Grand Rapids, Michigan for the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference. In addition to my role as my church’s delegate to the conference, I will also be doing some painting presentations there on three of the days. When the conference ends on Sunday I will be headed to Ashley, Indiana to present Pictures of Jesus again on Monday Evening. From there I make my way back to Ohio to spend the evening with some dear friends, then back to church, Bible study, etc. It’s going to be a good but lengthy trip.

I am sharing this for a reason beyond just saying, “Hey look what I’m doing!” You see, I love what I do. I love having the opportunity to travel all over the place and preaching and speaking and painting. The downside of it, though is that I spend a lot of time away from home and the family that I love, which can be hard. That’s how it goes with blessings sometimes. There is hard stuff in among the great stuff and I think the key is to be grateful for both. What I do is such a blessing to me, and the missing my loved ones, that keeps me grounded. It challenges me to be sure to be more in the moment when I am at home with my loved ones. It makes me strive for balance and proper priorities. God has been good and faithful to me. I must return that faithfulness, with a faithfulness and an appreciation for everything and everyone God has given. I don’t deserve any of this, and so I must work to be faithful to “Do [my] best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” (2 TIMOTHY 2:15)

It’s all about gratitude and the faithfulness born from that gratitude. Be faithful, make the most of every opportunity, and honor God in every part of your life. especially in your relationships.


Well this may have been the most days of posting I have missed in a row in quite some time. I have no excuse other than a lot is going on. The church is going and growing, On May 13, I had a wonderful speaking engagement at Paxton Church of the Brethren where I did a revamped presentation of my Creation Station program for a Mother/Child banquet. Then the next day was Mother’s Day, I taught the membership class, preached and did an anointing service after church before going home to catch a little nap and then visit my son and his family. I was a great day. Monday I took my mom out to breakfast, did some yard work and had some vehicle maintenance done and then yesterday it was back to work at church, preaching at a nursing home and working on this week’s material. In between all that I did two weeks worth of Creachertoons, some of the illustrations for one of my upcoming books, began outlining a book and the presentation that goes along with it. I really enjoy this life.

You might think that was a whole bunch of stuff you didn’t need to know, but here’s what you do need to know. Life happens and sometimes we might miss one of our self-imposed deadlines. While I would not make a habit of it, it’s not the end of the world.
Look again at the list and you will see priorities. A new presentation, even a revamped one takes time. Presentation have a hard deadline so it is important that you hit that deadline even more important, someone is trusting you enough to put you before their congregation (or audience or whatever) and you have to give that your very best, so that moves to near the top. After that was my church, again, there’s a hard deadline, but it’s more than that. God has entrusted me to love teach and care for a clock of His children, so my work with the church is also a priority. You might have caught that I took a nap in there and thought that could have gone to the back burner. Well not exactly, rest is hugely important and your body will make you pay if you don’t do it.

Visiting my family may not seem urgent, but trust me when I tell you, they are also given to me by God to love. I have backburnered my family in my life and it was a mistake that will never happen again if I can help it. Creachertoons and the book stuff did not have to be done, but I got inspiration and I can do those things in short bursts of time in what I call the time between.

Lastly, I don’t want you to think that you are not important to me. I value the time that you take to read all that I post. The truth is sometimes you just run out of time and while we all have to do our best to be faithful, we also have to accept the idea that there are only 24 hours in a day and so we have to prioritize. The other truth is I really didn’t feel like I had anything earthshaking to share here in the midst of all the other deadlines. I used to fret over that, but lately I take it on faith that God will allow me to catch up with all my obligations. I simply need to make the most of every opportunity. So today (May 17) and over the next few days I beg your indulges as I catch up. I hope you’ll read everything I post and that all of it inspires you.

What can you learn from this: Don’t beat yourself up, do the best you can and keep going. God is faithful. Bring him your best.


The old adage says “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” Of course that’s not really whether mean. What they mean is do what you love and you’ll usually work harder than anyone else to keep doing what you love. You just won’t mind so much because you’re doing what you love. I know this to be true and I live it on a daily basis. This life of creative arts ministry is a lot of work. Between my church and my traveling ministry I put in a ton of hours. There is no substitute for practice, and the continued development of your gift in a life in the arts. People act as if the creative lifestyle is impractical. It’s not, you just have to decide whether or not you are willing to put in the effort it takes to do what you love.

Look anybody can do something they hate, (or mildly dislike, or whatever) for the money. I’ve had to and I would again if it came to it. I have responsibilities to the people I love. That being said, if I have my way, I’ll put in whatever effort I must to keep having the opportunity to create.

Why do I post this? Because I run into too many people who want it all now and wonder why it doesn’t happen instantaneously. Heck, I’ve been that person too. The truth is (outside the blessing of God) the road to your dream is usually paved with a lot of hard work. So practice, practice, practice. Create, create, create and then (and this is often the hardest part) put your work out there for the world to see. Also, the Bible says me the most of every opportunity… and while that passage is largely about sharing the Gospel, I think it applies to every area of life, especially the creative life. Whenever you get the opportunity to do what you love, do it for all you’re worth. Bring your all to the project. Do it as if you were doing it for Jesus, because at the end of the day, if you care about glorifying God with your life, that is exactly what you’re doing.

I remember seeing Skillet live at the Creation festival. They had already been playing for years, working hard, building a fan base and all of those other things that are covered by that simple little statement “paying your dues.” Then one year they got an evening slot on the main stage. That night they would play before 80,000 people and they brought it. Their performance was superb and they had more pyrotechnics and other show elements than anyone I Christian band I had ever seen and all the secular ones except possibly Kiss. Why do I share this? The had played thousands of gigs to get to that point, including many I’m sure to small audiences and in tough situations, and then one night the faithfulness paid off, they got a golden opportunity and they did it for all they were worth. As far as I am concerned they had cemented themselves into the role of headliners in that night, but that amazing performance was the result of lots of faithfulness, putting their hearts into their faith and their craft day after day after day. If we want creative success, if we want to do what we love, that’s what we must all do.


Doubt is common to us all, especially doubts in matters of faith, but there is (at least) one doubt none of us can afford. The children of Israel had just been released from Egypt. They were headed to the promised land. This was the land flowing with milk and honey, the land God had promised them since the time of Abraham centuries before. And now they were knocking on the door of all that God had promised. Moses sent spies into the land to check it out. They saw the land was everything God promised, stocked abundantly with everything they could have ever needed. The land was indeed good, but there was a problem. Huge people and fortified cities were throughout the land and doubt started knocking on the door of their hearts. That doubt became so extreme that by the time the spies returned, they worked the people up into such a frenzy that they wanted to kill Moses and the two faithful spies, Joshua and Caleb and then return to slavery in Egypt.



Their problem can be summed up in one word, doubt, but the doubt was specific. They doubted that God could deliver everything He promised. That doubt carried a death sentence of sorts. All the people who doubted died in the desert and the promised land was received by their children after having to suffer with their faithless parents for forty years. Their doubt was deadly and even the faithful, not to mention their children paid the price. The question is, could this happen to you?

Think about it, we are surrounded by God’s promises. They are all over Scripture and there is much ground to be gained for God’s Kingdom. The One who promised never to leave nor forsake us, has called us to go into all the world and make disciples. He has gifted us for that very purpose. We have the call and we have the resources. There is only one thing we lack. Will we have the courage to step out in faith and receive the promises? As soon as we set out there is this very real temptation to look at all that is against us, and there is a lot going against us. Our society is increasingly hostile to the good news, our faith is seen as politically incorrect, and while there is very little outward physical persecution, there can be no doubt that there are plenty of people who make it their mission to bully us into silence. These are the giants we face and the question is will we move forward or will we retreat and wander while our churches die and our children succumb to the whims of society or will we move forward in our call. The thing to remember is nothing is bigger or more powerful that the One who goes with us. If we wander in this desert, it is because we choose it.

Here’s the thing. The One who called you is faithful and in Him, you can do whatever it is He has called you to do. With God al things are possible and you can do all things through Him who gives you the strength. Yes, you can do whatever God has called you to do. You just have to face the giants an trust God to be bigger.



So many people seem afraid to use their gifts. A lot of times they seem to feel like they are not good enough or don’t have enough or for some other reason they fall short. Here’s what you need to know. Your gift is from God and He gave it to you so you could use it to His glory. It’s not about your level of ability. It’s about your faithfulness. That’s not to say you don’t bring your best. That’s exactly what faithfulness is, but your best is the best you can do, not what other people can do. Your best is enough for God and everything is up to Him.

When we refuse to use what God has given us, we are in effect rejecting His gift and His plan. Don’t do that. Trust Him and…

Receive.


matt10Yesterday, I wrote about not falling in love with our creations. I want to elaborate on it a little more today with a real life story. I’ve written about this first part before. What I am doing now, the speaking, the live painting, the storytelling, making videos, all of it feels very much like the fulfillment of a childhood dream. I was the kid who did the little plays for my younger sister and cousin. I was always making pictures and telling stories and doing puppets and ventriloquism when I was really young. My first pay check was for a dollar, for doing my ventriloquist/impression act for the Bernville Women’s Club when I was six. Then life happened. In school I was a human target and before long anything that made me stand out was something to be feared and avoided. By the time High School came around, I was terrified to speak in public and that dream was dead forever, or so I thought.

But one dream remained. I could make art. I was always pretty good at it. I now know it was a God-given gift, back then it just felt like the one thing I could do that wasn’t put down. I thought I would be a professional artist, perhaps a designer or illustrator, but my parents tried to stifle that. I do not hold this against them. They were looking out for me and they knew that to would be hard to make a living in the field. I went to school in an unrelated field, but when it became clear that track wasn’t going to work, I started to hustle and began eking our a living as an artist/designer. I even had some level of success, and while I never made a lot of money, I did get to do a few pretty high profile projects and somewhere in the midst of all that, I came to Christ. Here’s where it gets interesting. My art career began to be in conflict with my faith. It was fast becoming an idol. I fought this conviction for a long time. The reason for this was simple. I was in love with my plan. I was an artist, it was my identity. It was all I was good at and it was all I wanted to do.

The battle raged on and, no surprises here, God won. I came to the end of myself and I laid down my dream. My call to ministry was almost instantaneous but, to be honest, it seemed absurd. Public speaking was still a major fear for me, and it’s sort of a vital skill in ministry. None of it made sense, but God was at work. Through a series of developments, which will make this story way too long, God made the connection between art and ministry in my life. In the process, I began to tell stories, paint live and do all the stuff I was doing today. Please understand this, to be a professional artist, was a lesser dream than what God had in store for me, but in order to get to that point, I had to lay down what I knew and plunge into the great unknown. Today I have a better, happier, more fulfilling life than I could have ever known, but to get there, I had to fall out of love with my dream and love God more. I often wonder if that was what Jesus meant when He said, “Those who try to gain their own life will lose it; but those who lose their life for my sake will gain it.”

Hold your plan loosely and your God tightly. He will make a way.


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.