Posts Tagged ‘gospel’

Sounds like an unlikely pairing and yet it’s pretty cool.

How can you use what you do to glorify God?

It started in 1986 (yes I am that old). I hadn’t been in a church for other than a wedding or a funeral in about 10 years and my life was a mess. Suddenly I found myself in a church again. I was there for one reason and one reason only, the same reason every guy who doesn’t care about church ends up in church, a girl invited me. When I walked in that door I was a mess. Drinking problem, seriously depressed, terrified to speak in public and feeling pretty hopeless. How did I go from that guy to a minister of the Gospel who has used my art and speaking to minister in 100 churches in 13 states in the last three years? Two things. First off someone cared enough to introduce me to Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior, and secondly because a pastor found my gift of art and showed me I could use it to serve the Lord in the church and in the world beyond.

Those two things have become my passion in ministry and in life.

I believe everyone is gifted and talented. I believe those gifts and talents are given by God on purpose, for a purpose and it’s in finding those gifts and putting them to work that we find the meaning of our lives. This is one of the main reasons creative ministry is important. If we cannot get beyond those few gifts (musical ability) that can only be done by a relative few, we relegate everyone else to being consumers. When people are nothing but consumers, we should not be surprised when they leave us for a better “show.” We have got to get creative to incorporate as many people and as many gifts and talents as we can into the total ministry of the church, in the church building itself and just as importantly in the world beyond. Dan Miller rightly and regularly reminds us that there are lots of ways to do ministry and most of them happen outside the walls. He is a million percent correct in this. Not only is this good for the people who are already believers, but creatively helping people to find their ministries, helps those who are not interested in church to come in contact with the Gospel through the church (remember the church is the people) in the marketplace.

Secondly, creative ministry is important because of the sheer volume of messages and images people are confronted with each day. While we believe and know that the Gospel is the most important message there is and that it is empowered by the Holy Spirit, how does it stand out above all the noise? How do we take the unchanging Gospel to an ever changing world? I think we need to get creative.

The building is not the church, it’s the box for the church. While worshipping in that box is great and hugely important, and I believe commanded (or at least highly recommended) in passages like Hebrews 10:25, most of the ministry of the church occurs “outside the box” in the other 176 hours of the week. We need to quite literally begin doing a better job of “thinking outside the box.” We need to get creative.

That’s why creative ministry is important.

Hi, My name is Dave and I’m a cartoonist. While I work in a lot of different art forms and media, cartooning will probably always be my “go-to” and there is a reason or that. Much to the chagrin of some of my artist friends, I am not a huge fan of letting people read their own meanings into my work. For me it’s all about story, and as such, the combination of words and pictures of cartoons/comics is ideal. Also few things are more powerful at raising awareness and calling out injustice than a well drawn cartoon.

When I read about the murders at French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, by fundamentalist Muslim terrorists I was outraged and I still am. I find the actions of these people reprehensible. Terrorism, the murder of innocents, kidnapping children, beheadings and the list goes on. I’m growing more than a little tired of hearing these stories almost every day, and while I know these people are not representative of all Muslims, I am disgusted by actions like this most recent massacre.

Then I saw some of the cartoons appearing in Charlie Hebdo. Let me be clear, this doesn’t change my opinion of the massacre even a little bit, but I do understand how a Muslim would be angry. If someone drew cartoons about Jesus like that, I would be quite angry. Now to be clear, I would be poison penned, drawing opposing cartoons, encouraging boycotts, angry which is not to be confused with murderous act of terror angry. I get the anger but not that actions. I will never get the actions.

Someone once said, “the pen is mightier than the sword.” I have always believed this to be true and if that is the case, then those of us who wield pens have got to be responsible. Those of us tasked with the responsibility of wielding our pens in the name of Christ must be even more responsible. Taking cheap shots is not an acceptable method of discourse for believers. We’ve got to be better than that. We’ve been tasked with the golden rule for one thing. I should never draw something about Mohammed that I wouldn’t want someone to draw about Jesus. I really don’t think it is okay to mock someone else’s god (or his prophet in the case of Mohammed).

The actions of groups like Boko Haram, ISIS, Al Quaeda, etc. make them fair game for cartoonists calling them out on their actions. Of course, I am not sure this is wise, first off because these groups have not shown an ability to laugh at themselves, to put it mildly, but secondly, as believers, I think we are called to something better. Mocking someone’s actions is easy, changing them is hard. I’ve always said Christians need to spend less time talking about what we’re agains and more time talking about who we’re for. The solution to all the world’s problems is simple, one word, Jesus! I understand anger, I have drawn in anger more times than I can count, but before we hit send, or post or publish, maybe we need to ask the questions, “Does this honor God?” and “Will this draw others to Him?”

I grieve for the families of the victims of this latest act of terror. The cartoons of Charlie Hebdo did not justify this level of response, nor do they ever. And yes I know, the problem of terrorism will not be solved by a cartoon, but I still hold to my faith in the power of the Gospel.

What can we do to make things better?

gardenerThere’s no two ways about it. We Christians are commanded to share our faith. Those of us on the creative side of the realm (though I still believe everyone is creative) seem to have received special tools to share God’s story, but sometimes it seems like people’s hearts are totally closed to the Gospel. It can really feel pretty discouraging.

When we are discouraged, as well as every other time, it’s a great idea to look to Jesus. Jesus did most of his teaching in stories we call parables. This should be incredibly encouraging for those of us who feel a creative bent. One story that really speaks to this dilemma is The Parable of the Sower (found in Matthew 13 among other places). Jesus is out teaching people who are seeking truth and so Jesus tells the story of a sower (farmer) planting seeds. It’s a parable that talks about people who go out to share the Word of God (the seed in the story). The seed falls on different kinds of soil (hearts). Some seed is eaten before it can take root. Some seed falls on rocky soil where it cannot take good root. Some seed falls among thorns and is choked out and finally some falls on good soil where it yields a crop 100 times what is planted. It’s a pretty simple story that deals with the receptiveness of hearts to the Gospel. Right after this, Jesus’ disciples ask why he teaches in parables. Jesus’ response at first glance feels really confusing.

11 He replied, “Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. 12 Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. 13 This is why I speak to them in parables: “Though seeing, they do not see;though hearing, they do not hear or understand.

We usually look at the parables as illustrations Jesus told to help us understand Scripture, and they are, but Jesus also says here that to some people they are deliberately confusing. This seems so counter to Jesus that it almost feels wrong. I believe the answer to the confusion is found in the parable itself. The stories are easy to understand to hearts that are open but to people who refuse to listen, who don’t have ears to hear, the parables confound their understanding.

Some theologians believe that certain people are elected to receive salvation while others are not. That belief does not fit with my understanding of Scripture not my understanding of God. I believe it is His will that none should perish but that all come to repentance (as it says in 2 Peter 3:9). That said, I have also shared my faith with people who seem to refuse to receive it and that can be discouraging beyond words. So what should we do?

Well first of all, I look at my own history. There was a time in my life where I didn’t want to hear it either and yet God got through because some people cared enough to share anyway. Secondly, I think we all need to remember all these farming analogies in Scripture. The apostle Paul for example once talked about how he planted the seed (the Gospel) another watered it, but God made it grow. This is the point. When you share your story it will fall on both receptive and unreceptive hearts. We need to remember it’s not up to us to decide who is who. It is up to us to plant the seeds. This is what Jesus commands in the Great Commission (Matthew 28). Whether or not the seed we plant takes root is up to God. You may be the planter who gets to see the seed take root and grow, or you may be the first of hundreds to make the attempt before God breaks through.

Let your faith overcome your discouragement. Trust God to be at work. Trust God to work the soil. Trust God to get through and bring the growth.

You plant the seeds, you tell the story.

pregressiveA couple years ago, I saw something I was really interested in. It appeared a group from within my denomination was holding a gathering for progressives in the denomination. I thought, “I would LOVE to be a part of that.” After all anybody who knows me knows I think sacred cows make the best hamburgers. Besides we’re not Hindu, we have no business having sacred cows. I thought, “Surely this would be a group of people looking for new and exciting ways to take the unchanging message of the Gospel to an ever changing world.”

That wasn’t what they meant. Instead, in my opinion, they gathered to find ways to create a more politically correct gospel. i.e. a gospel that would be more palatable to the whims of society. An admirable goal, except for one thing… That’s not the Gospel. See the thing about the Gospel, which is still good news for all people, is it’s the Word of God. We don’t change it. We can’t because God didn’t. No, what is supposed to happen is the Word of God is supposed to change us. Romans 12:2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

The first eight letters of progressive are “progress” so progressive ideas should bring us toward progress. For the church, going in a way Jesus didn’t intend is not progress, therefore I want my word back. I hereby reclaim the word “progressive.”

That we gather in Christ to advance HIS Gospel. The one that remains Good News because it is the Word of God, the one who made everything and knows how it works. The one where we remove nothing, neither the definition of sin, nor the overriding command to love everyone even those with whom we disagree. That we obey the Lord, love sacricicially and use His blessings to benefit others. That we don’t attempt to discredit the Word when there are points where it disagrees with the way the world works, thinks and acts today. He is God and we are not. We follow Him. We love Him because He first loved us. We stand by the truth that sets men free and we speak that truth in love. We love everyone and we represent Him. The good news is good news all by itself.

When we do that, we’ll see progress.

doubletreeLast night was a great night. I did a “painting invocation” for a benefit banquet for Tabor Community Services, an organization that serves the poor and the homeless in nearby Lancaster County, PA. It’s a wonderful organization and I was pleased to be a part of it.

I got to the venue, The DoubleTree on Willow Street in Lancaster Co. and I was amazed, the venue was beautiful and huge! I clearly didn’t realize how large the room would be. This is probably the largest facility I have ministered in so far. There were over 500 people in attendance which was really wonderful.



goodsamliveFortunately I decided to do the largest piece I have painted to date, four feet square (4×4). It looked huge in my van and tiny in the room but it was okay because they had a camera on me and they projected it on the large screen on the stage. I had only about eight minutes to paint and I must admit my internal critic and perfectionist was in overdrive, but I just kept going and did what I always tell you to do. I did the best I could with what I had. I had eight minutes, and I used it to the best of my ability and people were blessed by it, so mission accomplished. I painted to the Good Samaritan, based on the sketch I posted earlier here, using the narration I posted earlier called “Love Stops.” It seemed to set a good tone for the rest of the evening.


What I have learned about this type of art is it’s as much about the process as it is about the finished project. People love to see how a piece comes together. I had a great time in support of a wonderful organization. If you are ever looking for a place to support financially, check out Tabor. They’re doing great work!

Creative arts ministry is a wonderful calling. I urge you to look for the opportunities you have to serve with your gift. Believe me when I say, you will be blessed.


I drew this cartoon a little while back and it serves as a reminder. I know there are many schools of thought on Halloween in the church and I am not going to make any statement on that except to say, “If you want to give a tract to a trick or treater, that is fine, and I know the value of the Gospel, but make sure you accompany it with a good treat.”

People especially children, outside the church may not comprehend the value of the tract, but they do understand generosity. And for heaven sake don’t use the tract as an opportunity to grind your axe. Quite simply if you want to use the day to tell people something, tell them Jesus loves them.

Halloween is the second most popular “holiday” in the U.S. That makes me a little sad and yes I do have huge problems with people dressing their kids up as demons, serial killers and anything that starts with “sexy.” Even so, used well, it could be a golden opportunity for the Gospel. So this Halloween, if you participate, be generous, show love and be a blessing.

Bono Painted by David Garibaldi

Bono Painted by David Garibaldi

This interview seems to have made the rounds. I saw it shared on Facebook from this blog. A guy named Robert Eshleman posted it there from a site called the Poached Egg. The post can be found here. It’s one of the best most honest discussions of Christ I have seen in the media. I share it here not just so you can see the faith of one of the world’s most popular artists, but also as an encouragement to let your light shine whenever you get the opportunity.

Bono: My understanding of the Scriptures has been made simple by the person of Christ. Christ teaches that God is love. What does that mean? What it means for me: a study of the life of Christ. Love here describes itself as a child born in straw poverty, the most vulnerable situation of all, without honor. I don’t let my religious world get too complicated. I just kind of go: Well, I think I know what God is. God is love, and as much as I respond [sighs] in allowing myself to be transformed by that love and acting in that love, that’s my religion. Where things get complicated for me, is when I try to live this love. Now that’s not so easy.

Assayas: What about the God of the Old Testament? He wasn’t so “peace and love”?

Bono: There’s nothing hippie about my picture of Christ. The Gospels paint a picture of a very demanding, sometimes divisive love, but love it is. I accept the Old Testament as more of an action movie: blood, car chases, evacuations, a lot of special effects, seas dividing, mass murder, adultery. The children of God are running amok, wayward. Maybe that’s why they’re so relatable. But the way we would see it, those of us who are trying to figure out our Christian conundrum, is that the God of the Old Testament is like the journey from stern father to friend. When you’re a child, you need clear directions and some strict rules. But with Christ, we have access in a one-to-one relationship, for, as in the Old Testament, it was more one of worship and awe, a vertical relationship. The New Testament, on the other hand, we look across at a Jesus who looks familiar, horizontal. The combination is what makes the Cross.

Assayas: Speaking of bloody action movies, we were talking about South and Central America last time. The Jesuit priests arrived there with the gospel in one hand and a rifle in the other.

Bono: I know, I know. Religion can be the enemy of God. It’s often what happens when God, like Elvis, has left the building. [laughs] A list of instructions where there was once conviction; dogma where once people just did it; a congregation led by a man where once they were led by the Holy Spirit. Discipline replacing discipleship. Why are you chuckling?

Assayas: I was wondering if you said all of that to the Pope the day you met him.

Bono: Let’s not get too hard on the Holy Roman Church here. The Church has its problems, but the older I get, the more comfort I find there. The physical experience of being in a crowd of largely humble people, heads bowed, murmuring prayers, stories told in stained-glass windows

Assayas: So you won’t be critical.

Bono: No, I can be critical, especially on the topic of contraception. But when I meet someone like Sister Benedicta and see her work with AIDS orphans in Addis Ababa, or Sister Ann doing the same in Malawi, or Father Jack Fenukan and his group Concern all over Africa, when I meet priests and nuns tending to the sick and the poor and giving up much easier lives to do so, I surrender a little easier.

Assayas: But you met the man himself. Was it a great experience?

Bono: [W]e all knew why we were there. The Pontiff was about to make an important statement about the inhumanity and injustice of poor countries spending so much of their national income paying back old loans to rich countries. Serious business. He was fighting hard against his Parkinson’s. It was clearly an act of will for him to be there. I was oddly moved by his humility, and then by the incredible speech he made, even if it was in whispers. During the preamble, he seemed to be staring at me. I wondered. Was it the fact that I was wearing my blue fly-shades? So I took them off in case I was causing some offense. When I was introduced to him, he was still staring at them. He kept looking at them in my hand, so I offered them to him as a gift in return for the rosary he had just given me.

Assayas: Didn’t he put them on?

Bono: Not only did he put them on, he smiled the wickedest grin you could ever imagine. He was a comedian. His sense of humor was completely intact. Flashbulbs popped, and I thought: “Wow! The Drop the Debt campaign will have the Pope in my glasses on the front page of every newspaper.”

Assayas: I don’t remember seeing that photograph anywhere, though.

Bono: Nor did we. It seems his courtiers did not have the same sense of humor. Fair enough. I guess they could see the T-shirts.

Later in the conversation:
Assayas: I think I am beginning to understand religion because I have started acting and thinking like a father. What do you make of that?

Bono: Yes, I think that’s normal. It’s a mind-blowing concept that the God who created the universe might be looking for company, a real relationship with people, but the thing that keeps me on my knees is the difference between Grace and Karma.

Assayas: I haven’t heard you talk about that.

Bono: I really believe we’ve moved out of the realm of Karma into one of Grace.

Assayas: Well, that doesn’t make it clearer for me.

Bono: You see, at the center of all religions is the idea of Karma. You know, what you put out comes back to you: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, or in physics; in physical laws every action is met by an equal or an opposite one. It’s clear to me that Karma is at the very heart of the universe. I’m absolutely sure of it. And yet, along comes this idea called Grace to upend all that “as you reap, so you will sow” stuff. Grace defies reason and logic. Love interrupts, if you like, the consequences of your actions, which in my case is very good news indeed, because I’ve done a lot of stupid stuff.

Assayas: I’d be interested to hear that.

Bono: That’s between me and God. But I’d be in big trouble if Karma was going to finally be my judge. I’d be in deep s—. It doesn’t excuse my mistakes, but I’m holding out for Grace. I’m holding out that Jesus took my sins onto the Cross, because I know who I am, and I hope I don’t have to depend on my own religiosity.

Assayas: The Son of God who takes away the sins of the world. I wish I could believe in that.

Bono: But I love the idea of the Sacrificial Lamb. I love the idea that God says: Look, you cretins, there are certain results to the way we are, to selfishness, and there’s a mortality as part of your very sinful nature, and, let’s face it, you’re not living a very good life, are you? There are consequences to actions. The point of the death of Christ is that Christ took on the sins of the world, so that what we put out did not come back to us, and that our sinful nature does not reap the obvious death. That’s the point. It should keep us humbled . It’s not our own good works that get us through the gates of heaven.

Assayas: That’s a great idea, no denying it. Such great hope is wonderful, even though it’s close to lunacy, in my view. Christ has his rank among the world’s great thinkers. But Son of God, isn’t that farfetched?

Bono: No, it’s not farfetched to me. Look, the secular response to the Christ story always goes like this: he was a great prophet, obviously a very interesting guy, had a lot to say along the lines of other great prophets, be they Elijah, Muhammad, Buddha, or Confucius. But actually Christ doesn’t allow you that. He doesn’t let you off that hook. Christ says: No. I’m not saying I’m a teacher, don’t call me teacher. I’m not saying I’m a prophet. I’m saying: “I’m the Messiah.” I’m saying: “I am God incarnate.” And people say: No, no, please, just be a prophet. A prophet, we can take. You’re a bit eccentric. We’ve had John the Baptist eating locusts and wild honey, we can handle that. But don’t mention the “M” word! Because, you know, we’re gonna have to crucify you. And he goes: No, no. I know you’re expecting me to come back with an army, and set you free from these creeps, but actually I am the Messiah. At this point, everyone starts staring at their shoes, and says: Oh, my God, he’s gonna keep saying this. So what you’re left with is: either Christ was who He said He was the Messiah or a complete nutcase. I mean, we’re talking nutcase on the level of Charles Manson. This man was like some of the people we’ve been talking about earlier. This man was strapping himself to a bomb, and had “King of the Jews” on his head, and, as they were putting him up on the Cross, was going: OK, martyrdom, here we go. Bring on the pain! I can take it. I’m not joking here. The idea that the entire course of civilization for over half of the globe could have its fate changed and turned upside-down by a nutcase, for me, that’s farfetched

Bono later says it all comes down to how we regard Jesus:

Bono: If only we could be a bit more like Him, the world would be transformed. When I look at the Cross of Christ, what I see up there is all my s— and everybody else’s. So I ask myself a question a lot of people have asked: Who is this man? And was He who He said He was, or was He just a religious nut? And there it is, and that’s the question. And no one can talk you into it or out of it.

I know what does this have to do with art and ministry, well not a lot but these folks sure know how to put on a spectacle. None of my teams are playing, so I can just enjoy the game whoever wins which is kind of nice. Beyonce is doing the halftime show and I’m sure there will be spectacle there as well, and while she is really talented, it’s not my style. So all in all, it’s a nice evening at home with the family.

In a game like this, where the outcome is not too important to me, like many other Americans, I appreciate the game, but I watch for the commercials.

What strikes me is the amount of money these companies were willing to spend and the creativity invested in getting their message out.

I know none of you have that kind of budget, (if you do, please contact me, I could really use someone to underwrite my speaking ministry 🙂 ) but it occurs to me that we have a better message than any of these companies and a command from God to get it out. We may not have the budget (though our Father does own the cattle on a thousand hills) but we do have the creativity. This year how will you invest your creativity in getting his message out.

Here’s a challenge. Make a 30 second video that tells people about Jesus. Be creative, put it on Youtube, and promote it. Tell the story.

By the way the Doritos commercial with the dad and his little girl is a classic.

By the way, here’s a Superbowl ad made by a church.