Posts Tagged ‘God’

First of all Easter is never really over because Jesus is Risen. That being said, the day we celebrate the Holiday has passed, so now what? Well for Christians the answer should be obvious. We take what we’ve been given and we share it. That’s what this image represents. We take the light that is in our hearts and we reach out, using our gifts to bless others and our lives to encourage and comfort others. The hand reaching down represents reaching to help someone else up. Then finally the hand pointing to heaven is to remind us that with all we do, we are supposed to point to the One who came to set us free. This is a major part of what it means to follow Christ.

You’ve probably been hearing about this a lot lately, the idea of fake news. I have to tell you the truth today, fake news is for real. Is it true, of course not, but, and this is something anyone who wants to communicate any message needs to learn, to the vast majority of the public, perception is reality. Think about how many people believe all manner of things after having seen nothing more than a social media meme. Can I tell you the truth? I can generate about four memes an hour, more if I use other people’s images and content and if I didn’t care about truth, I think I could make most people believe anything I put out there. That’s the power if imagery and media and many people are dong just that and deceiving the masses.

Now to be clear I do care about truth, but you have no idea the temptation I have been under to roll out a fake story, just to watch it get legs and then tell people, “I made it all up.” It would be a great way to make this point. Why haven’t I done it? Because like I said before, I care about truth. I’d never want to be responsible for perpetuating a lie, even to prove a point. Also I value the people who come to this site to read and learn and I would never want to lose credibility. I value your trust. Of course all of this pales in comparison to the fact that I’m a minister of the Gospel and as such I represent the personification of truth, Jesus Christ.

Guys there is tremendous power in a story. We can do great good in the form of telling stories. We can also generate tremendous harm and it is important that we are careful with what we share. Do you know this thing to be true? Can you prove it? Will sharing it do more harm than good? All of these questions should help us to decide what to (and what not to) share. Getting caught up in a lie, even unintentionally will destroy (or at least damage) your credibility. Perpetuating a lie on purpose is downright diabolical.

Brothers and sisters, we who claim the name of Christ, have got to get our stories straight. We are called to speak the truth in love, and in this mission, both elements are essential. Love without truth is a lie (and ceases to be love) and truth without love is usually just plain mean (and probably won’t be heard.) All these fake news stories leave us in a place of being less and less sure what we can believe. That can be a benefit if it makes us do our homework, but for the most part, not being able to take anything at face value erodes trust to the point where most people have no idea what to believe. We need to tell a better story. Thank God we have the greatest story ever told in our arsenal. We Christians always need to lead with truth wrapped in love. It will not always be popular, but it will always be right.

A famous man once said, “If you tell a big enough lie and tell it frequently enough, it will be believed.” This is precisely the aim of fake news, and it cannot be denied because fake news is nothing but a lie that contains enough of a ring of truth that when repeated becomes believable. That famous man was Adolph Hitler, a man responsible for the death of probably upwards of 11 million people, mostly as the result of believable lies. We can and must do better.

Get the facts before you spread information. Tell a better story, and speak the truth in love. Put an end to the fake news. After all it is the truth that sets us free.

I love art, always have, and few activities in my life bring me more joy than making art.
But that’s not what it’s all about.
I love traveling all over the country, painting my pictures and telling my stories.
But that’s not what it’s all about.
I love pastoring my church and creating new ways to preach and help people get it,
and that’s closer, but that’s not what it’s all about.
I get paid to paint pictures and tell stories and I have made friends all over the world, and that is amazingly cool, but that’s not what it’s all about either.

So what is it all about?

It’s all about Jesus.

It’s about helping people come to know Him.
It’s about following His leading.
It’s about answering His call.
It’s about learning all that He has for me, the easy stuff and the hard stuff.
It’s about telling the story of what He has done for me.
It’s about speaking His truth to whoever will listen.
It’s about trying to honor Him for all that He has done for me.
It’s about knowing the price He paid
and it’s about knowing I am completely unworthy and completely and perfectly love.

It’s all about Jesus, and if I keep Him as my focus, honor Him as Lord, worship Him as Savior, everything else will work out.

Jesus is life. Life is Jesus.

As creatives, “What do you want to do?” is one of the biggest questions we face. Every time a project is put to bed there is a void that needs to be filled as we slip from what’s finished to what’s next. Selecting our projects is really important. After all, we only have so many hours in a day and we want them to be as productive as possible. The last project is done, what do we do next?

The question can be daunting and we need to be careful. It’s easy to let ourselves become overwhelmed with the infinite possibilities, leaving us unable to choose. It’s equally possible for the question to be answered with a blank answering the question with “I have no earthly idea.” “Earthly idea” now there’s the rub. You see, while “What do you want to do?” is a big question. There is a bigger one. “What does God want me to do?” Of course this question can be answered with prayer and God is faithful. Ask and it shall be given.

Now I know what you might be thinking. “Sometimes yes, sometimes no.” No, God is always faithful. You say, but I asked and He hasn’t given me anything. I’m in a dry spell and God seems to be silent. Well there are two possibilities. The first reason the Lord feels silent on what to do next is because He wants you to take a break and rest. Here’s a tip. If you are running yourself ragged 24/7, that isn’t of God. God designed us to need rest. He designed us to depend on Him and not on our own abilities, drives and desires. If your priorities are out of control, God may be putting on the brakes. He’s done this with me (or maybe I should say, “for me”) and He did it because He is good.

Of course there is another possibility. The reason God is not giving you an assignment is because you already have one. He has already given you one, but for one reason or another, you have put it off. Maybe you didn’t want to do it, or maybe you thought it was too huge. Friend, we have to remember God’s will is perfect. The things He lays before us to do are the things that are for our good or for the good of this world that He loves. The projects He lays before us are part of His plan for the universe and He is not likely to let up. On the “too big” front, of course it’s too big for you. That’s precisely the point. We are designed for interdependence one with another. We are designed for community and if that’s the case, many of the projects we get are group projects designed to draw us into relationship and designed to draw others to God. The other reason God gives us things that feel too big is to remind us of our utter dependence on God. Nothing is too big for Him and when we get to the other side of that, we see His faithfulness and He gets the glory. 

So ask God what He would have you do. Ask Him to reveal incomplete assignments and who you need to help you make it so. This much I know, God loves you and He is faithful. He will come through. When we are seeking Him with all of our hearts, “What do you want to do?” will often line up with what God wants you to do and when those two things align…

Look out!

Keeping it light and short or Sunday but in case you wondered who the greatest artist in the world is, He’s the one who made this creation…

This morning in my devotions, I was reading Exodus 25 and I came upon the God’s instructions for the implements to be used in the Tabernacle. I am always amazed at the level of detain God gave Moses in these plans, so here’s a thought. What if we took these instructions and drew them. What would the finished piece look like? That’s the challenge for the week.

Exodus 25: 31 “Make a lampstand of pure gold. Hammer out its base and shaft, and make its flowerlike cups, buds and blossoms of one piece with them. 32 Six branches are to extend from the sides of the lampstand—three on one side and three on the other. 33 Three cups shaped like almond flowers with buds and blossoms are to be on one branch, three on the next branch, and the same for all six branches extending from the lampstand. 34 And on the lampstand there are to be four cups shaped like almond flowers with buds and blossoms. 35 One bud shall be under the first pair of branches extending from the lampstand, a second bud under the second pair, and a third bud under the third pair—six branches in all. 36 The buds and branches shall all be of one piece with the lampstand, hammered out of pure gold.

37 “Then make its seven lamps and set them up on it so that they light the space in front of it. 38 Its wick trimmers and trays are to be of pure gold. 39 A talent of pure gold is to be used for the lampstand and all these accessories. 40 See that you make them according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.

Verse 40 is the boundary. It has to be exactly as God described it. I think you’ll see something very important in this. Even with the parameters very clearly provided, by God no less, there is still room of creativity and maybe that’s the point. Sometimes the boundaries help us to know what us to do and give us just what we need to create something wonderful.

Happy creating, Share a link to your work in the comments.

Today’s post is going to be short. I am about to head out preach at Mohler Church of the Brethren in nearby Ephrata, PA. I love that I get to minister the Gospel and am grateful for every church that opens their doors to my ministry. I love getting the opportunity to worship in a wide variety of different churches, with a wide variety of different styles. I think I am in a very special place, to be able to see so much of the body of Christ.

People (including me) have a lot of preferences when it comes to worship. We may like different types of worship styles, music styles, etc. Some like liturgical, some are more contemporary, classical, traditional, etc. Some are loud and demonstrative, some are more quiet and introspective. Then of course there are all the denominations. You know what I’ve found. All these people, love Jesus and want to honor Him and I think that’s the point. It’s easy to get competitive with the church down the street. It’s easy to make our preferences “right.” I would urge us all to be careful with that. Oh, I’m sure there’s some bad doctrine out there and we all need to be good Bereans checking things out against the Word, but at the end of the day, all those other folks aren’t our competitors, their our brothers and sisters.

My belief is that all these different expressions of worship are the result of a merciful God inviting a multitude of differently wired people into His loving presence. It’s for us, a gift from a loving God, to worship Him in a way that works with how He made us as individuals.

Worship is derived from “worth-ship.” God is worthy of our worship. Find the congregation where you “fit” and lift your praises to Him. He is worthy!

Don’t worry, it’s not permanent. It’s just a day. The beginning of the Bible shows God in creative “frenzy.” Please don’t take that as negative or disrespectful, that’s not how I mean it, but most of the artists I know speak of these times when everything is just lining up. Inspiration aligns with ability, ideas come in abundance and you almost can’t create fast enough. For six days, God had been going full steam ahead creating one thing after another speaking idea after idea after idea into existence. And then he stopped. Six days, it was finished, He created His last creation (us) looked at all He created, said it was very good and took a break from creating. One day.

Years later, He commanded His people to do the same, take one day out of the week and do no work. He was so serious about it, that to work on this day of rest, was a capital offense. At least for a while, but eventually, the people began to ignore the command. Then God allowed them to be taken captive for seventy years, essentially to giveth land a break for all the time the Sabbath had been ignored. God is serious about rest.

Now I know I will hear someone say “We don’t live under the law, we live under grace.” That is correct and Jesus did say “The sabbath was made for man and not man for the sabbath.” but read that sentence again. “The sabbath was made for man…” Translation, the sabbath is a gift from God. Many faiths, including many sects of Christianity, celebrate Sabbath on the seventh day of the week, while the majority of Christians have decided to celebrate on the day Jesus rose from the dead, the first day. The fact that not everyone agrees as to which day to celebrate the Sabbath probably accounts for the origins of the five day work week, with both Sabbaths being observed. I honestly don’t believe the day matters as much as the fact that we take the break.

First of all, if the God of the universe took a break from creating, what makes you think you don’t need to? Secondly, I think God commanded the Sabbath to show us that it doesn’t all depend on us, that if we take a break, the world will keep on turning, that He is more than capable of taking care of us and that we can (and we must) depend on Him. The Sabbath allows us to remember there is God and He is more than capable.

I’m not going to get all legalistic on you today. If you search yourself, you will already know you need a break, a rest. I am also not going to bother to define what constitutes work, because if you search your heart, and you’re honest with yourself, you’ll know what to lay down for the day and what needs to be done. Instead, I want to make three recommendations on ways to spend your Sabbath.

1. Worship God. Our dependence on God should drive us to worship Him. I’m of the belief that this is best done in church, in fellowship with other believers. Many people will argue with this, but it is easy to slip into pushing God to the borders, while we do whatever we want. A dedicated hour of structured worship tends to put our hearts at rest and focuses us on our need.

2. Spend time with people. Make memories. Bless your family. Spend time. It is a limited resource and investing it in people shows them they matter. Ask yourself, who haven’t I seen in a while? Who do I miss? Who has my busyness kept me from seeing? Connect with them. Call them or better yet go to see them. The unfortunate reality of this life is that people have a shelf life. Honor them while you have them because there may come a time when you’ll wish you had laid down your busyness and gave them your time.

3. Actually rest. Take a nap. Most people are run down and exhausted. God gave you a day of rest because you need it. He knows exactly what we can handle and when we need a break. It’s a day of rest. so rest. If you’re not tired, do some of those leisure things you wish you had time for the rest of the week. (Note the word “leisure” this is not a space to fill with the one more thing you wish you had just gotten done.)

Jesus was right. Sabbath was made for man. It’s God’s gift to you. Use it.

This morning in my quiet time, I became convicted. You see over the weekend I did my Creative Church Workshop. Only one person attended (no that’s not the failure) but we had a great day talking about God and creativity and how to use our creativity to serve the Lord. Maybe that’s the reason I failed.

You see the other person asked me my secret to blogging daily and I blew it. I started talking about practical things with writing and inspiration. I talked about esoteric things, like wanting to be consistent because I value my readers. I even talked about how I don’t recommend anyone try to blog every day, at least not right away (too tough to come up with consistent content for someone just beginning) and that it’s more important to post consistently than to post every day. I also thought of a few more things that I did not say but none of those was a failure either.

No, here is the failure. I failed to give her the most important reason I can blog daily. I think it was just the context of the day and maybe I felt it was understood (I’m even relatively sure it was understood, but that makes no difference). Here is my confession:

The number one reason I can post a blog post nearly every day is because I spend time in prayer and ask God to give me something to say to the people who will read my blog. People He gave me. I pray for something that will challenge and bless and inspire and God is faithful to deliver. Now that’s not to say everything I write comes from God. I’m sure there are times where I get out ahead of Him, or times were I miss the mark. Those are the times when I take over and try to do it on my own.

Here’s how you can tell. If you read something here and it touches you to the depth of your soul, if it blesses you, if it changes your life or inspires you to do something great, it’s God. If you read it and go, “MEH” well, it was probably just me.

Everything good in me comes from God. He is good all the time. Trust Him and ask Him to guide you. He will deliver.

There are times for al but the strongest in faith where fear and doubt come to call and when they do it is a real bear. Is it a lack of faith? To some degree, yes, but the purpose of this post is not to beat us up. Often, at least for me, it starts with a kernel of doubt. Often it’s not a doubt about God but rather looking at our own abilities, our own resources and doubting we are up to the challenge at hand. When this happens, doubt gets on a roll and invites her ugly stepsister, fear, to the party. From there, it’s a downhill slide. The ultimate assault is on our faith, and a byproduct of that is an attack on creativity.

You see creativity and faith are the two things that are needed to get us through the majority of our struggles. Faith brings hope and creativity helps us to find the solution to the problem. Without those two things we will wallow in fear and hope (while still there) become nearly invisible.

Here’s what we need to remember. There is hope because there is God. We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. God is not fickle, He’s solid, the same yesterday, today and forever. He loves you today, He will love you tomorrow, and He is always there, walking us through the valleys.

Don’t make the mistake of looking at this post and thinking I am a strong person who has this mastered. Truth be known, I am writing this at what I hope is the end of a valley myself. Fear and doubt did a number on me just yesterday and in writing this, I really hope it helps someone, but ultimately this is as much about reminding myself.

God is always good. He’s bigger than our fears and our doubts.