Posts Tagged ‘inspiration’

Last night I finished up a two night revival series. I had such a great time and I love what I do so much. The first night I did Pictures of Jesus and last night was one I call Forgiven, which deals with forgiveness starting in Genesis and going all the way to the cross. I hadn’t done that one in a while but it was perfect for this lenten season we find ourselves in. There’s something in Forgiven that brings forward all the times when I have had to forgive and that can make me think about pain.

See, I’d be lying if I told you this artistic journey has been easy. There’s been tons of rejection, a lot of soul searching, times when I had hard lessons to learn, when I left my priorities run amok, and frankly times when others took advantage of me. Of course I haven’t even mentioned the bullying that happened throughout much of childhood for a kid who would rather draw a picture than do some of the stuff the other kids were doing. The road to where I am now has not been an easy one, but I praise God for the way he has brought me through to where I am now. He has taught me to depend on Him and for that I am grateful. My life now is better than I ever could have imagined.

At the end of the service last night I met a young artist, looking for her place in the church and the arts. As she spoke, at times I felt like I was hearing my own voice, our stories in some ways seemed similar. She wants to use her gift to serve the Lord. Man, that excites me. Maybe in some small way, I was used to inspire her and I really hope God fans that spark into a flame. You see every time someone hears what God has given me to share and moves forth in it, I get a little more clarity. Who knows? Maybe the things I went through will help someone else to persevere, and do the work and thrive to God’s glory. If God uses me, even in small ways, if the things I’ve been through help someone else, I get to see the purpose in the pain.

Romans 8:28, one of my favorite verse in Scripture says “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” I am living proof that this verse is true, so if you’re going through a tough time, know this. If you love God, there is a purpose in the pain. Persevere, one day God will use it, and you, to do something really important and for your good.

By the way, if my new friend reads this, and you need help in your journey, don’t be afraid to reach out. If I can help, I want to.

A few days ago there was a surprise snowstorm, a camel was being transported along a highway near my church, then the truck transporting him slid into a ditch. The driver left the animal out to stretch his legs, someone took a photo of him posted it to social media, rumors spread and a legend was born, Einstein the 309 Camel. I even made a shirt.

Then, just for fun, I created a new creature. I call him Ork… no objective, just creating spontaneously, for fun (but he became a shirt too).

Inspiration can be found in all kinds of places and sometimes you just need to create.

I’m guessing someone needs this today. Thanks Bart, This’ll preach.

I’ve been working on some art to represent my thoughts on Easter, God and everything. Inspired by Teresa Dedmon’s Born to Create and her challenge to create work and give it to people to bless them. The first piece was done and given away digitally since I was away from my studio. This inspired me to keep going with these digital pop art pieces and I have done five pieces so far.

This one is really simple—a cross reminding us of the ultimate gift of love. Jesus humbling Himself, laying aside the majesty of heaven to come to earth and be our Savior. My hope and prayer is that it’s simple message will touch and bless someone who sees it.

In case you haven’t been following, here are the other pieces. Creating art born out of prayer is fun and fulfilling. Ask the Lord how He would have you express Him and put your gifts to work to His glory. Then share it however He leads you to do it.

Create and be a blessing!

The first thing I would like to say is that inspiration is all around us. It can be found anywhere, and yes we do usually need to seek it out. The slightest things can trigger our imagination, but most often we need to be looking for it. I think that’s why the first thing I need to say is keep your eyes open. Always be looking for inspiration because it often comes when we least expect it. Here are a couple places I would suggest:

Prayer and God’s Word
This is a Christian blog so it should go without saying that the best inspiration is divine inspiration. The stuff that God breathes into us (the literal definition of inspiration) will always produce the best fruit. I have found that while He does of course speak to us in prayer, I have often found myself asking “Is that God or just my idea?” For this reason, I always want to include the Word in this conversation. God speaks directly through His Word so regular reading of God’s Word is one of the most direct ways to find inspiration.

I love to get out into nature and look to the work of the ultimate creator as a way of receiving inspiration. The stuff God created is the best stuff, and while we may or may not directly copy it, Nature can serve as a great trigger to the creative process.

One of the big struggles for us as creative is the fact that it seems virtually impossible to be alone with our thoughts. Sometimes we need to pull ourselves away from the noise in order to receive our inspiration. Sometimes shutting out the noise will open the doors to the creative process.

Look for Trouble
Much of creativity is solving problems, so sometimes when we need inspiration, a great thing to do is look for something that needs solving, then seek out ways to solve it. It helps to treat this as a brainstorming session where there are no bad ideas, otherwise it is really easy to get caught up in limiting thoughts that will keep you from starting toward the goal. If the limiting thoughts occur, put solving the whole problem out of your mind and look for one star you can make today toward solving the problem, then do that and repeat for as long as you can.

No person is an island. Sometimes you need help. Surround yourself with people who can do what you cannot and work together to find your inspiration. Collaboration tends to take what you can’t do off the table and allows you to imagine new possibilities.

Look at What Others Have Done
I’m not telling you to plagiarize but the works of others can be very inspirational. Look at the work of a great master in your field (or an unrelated field) if that’s what you need. What does it make you want to do? Before long, you’ll begin to feel inspired. Then just run with it.

I also get inspiration from reading books, watching movies, plays, etc. Sometimes just seeing something great makes me want to do something great.

These are just a few. What inspires you?

One of the things that seems apparent with most creatives is the need for inspiration. Sometimes it seems the blank page or the blank canvas or the lump of clay or whatever your medium is seems to mock us as we try to figure out what to do. If you’ve been reading this blog of any length of time, you know I believe sitting around waiting for inspiration is a waste of time (most of the time). Instead we should chase inspiration down. We should seek it. So today I thought I would ask a question. What inspires you? What are your go to “places” to find inspiration? And how do you take that inspiration and put it to work?

I’ll share a few of mine tomorrow, but first I want to hear from you?

Come on. Inspire me!

Okay at the end of the day, that’s what this blog is all about, but some might ask “Do we really need it?” and “Can it be dangerous?”

Let’s answer the last question first. Of course it can be dangerous. Creativity is a wonderful thing, but when you are dealing with a world where absolute truth is reality, what we get creative with matters. So long as we kept creativity to the methods of delivery and never, ever get creative with the truth itself, there is no danger. The danger comes when we attempt to manipulate truth for the sake of creativity. We have the Word of God. It says what it means and means what it says. It’s perfect as it is and we have no need to alter it to fit any context or any whim of culture. Truth is truth and God’s Word is the truth that sets men free. Don’t mess with the truth.

Now to answer the question that will most likely be expressed as we attempt to bring our creativity into the church. Do we really need it? The answer to that question is a resounding yes. We live in a world of rapid change. We live in a world that is bombarded with messages and images on every side. The amount of messages people are confronted with on a daily basis is staggering and one of those messages is the Gospel. Now admittedly the message of the Gospel is empowered by God and therefore it has a huge advantage and yet I a convinced that a big part of the reason God has anointed some of us with creativity is that we might be used as tools to take that message forth and put it front and center in our world. What does it take to do that? God, the Holy Spirit’s anointing, literally God triggering our imaginations, inspiring us, and Him helping us to do the work required to bring it forth. This can manifest in a multitude of ways, but here’s what we need to do. Seek the Lord and do what He says. It’s nothing new but it works.

Go to God and get to work. All creation waits in eager expectation for the sons and daughters of God to be revealed.

Sometimes as we work in our gifting, it’s important to look at how it began. When did you first discover your love of what it is that you do? Who encouraged you and who helped you become who you are?

For me a couple people come to mind. My Nana, Beatrice Steininger was among the first to ever put a crayon in my hand. I don’t know how old I was, but I am sure I was younger than the package recommended. As I grew, she gave me a multitude of gifts and flea market finds. I remember the oil paint set and the old bed sheets she ripped up to be my first canvasses. I remember her buying me puppets and ventriloquist dummies and tons of model kits. In short, anything else she could do to inspire my creativity. A lot of what I am doing today is due to her near constant encourage.

Another person, was my first pastor, Bill Waugh, who opened the door for me to use my gift in the church. He did this with a simple request. He requested that I paint a backdrop for the skits at Vacation Bible School. That one project opened the door to a lot of the ministry I do today. Of course I never would have met Bill were it not for my wife Dawn, who first invited me to church and who has constantly put up with and encouraged me to the point where I can do ministry for a living.

My parents didn’t always get this strange creative journey I was on, but they supported me and loved me as I figured it out. Of course, I also have to give credit to all the people who trusted me enough to bring me in and allow me to create for their groups. Without them, very few people would know what I do and I would have given up long ago.

There are tons of people who have made this journey possible. Teachers, employers, friends, family, my siblings and my sons and basically anyone who saw my gift and gave me the opportunity to put it to work. Of course before all of that, the gift came from God and He is worthy of any glory I might receive.

Why do I post this? Well first of all in this season of gratitude we need to be grateful. We all started somewhere. Secondly as we remember those who brought us to where we are, our “creative cloud of witnesses” if you will, it is vitally important that we look for the ones we can encourage and inspire. We need to do our best to be inspirational people and sow into the creatives to come after us.

So how about it, who inspired you in the past, who inspires you now, and most importantly, who can you inspire?

As far as I can see, this is my post number 2543. I post virtually every day and have been for a very long time. You might wonder how I can do it. How can I post every day and still keep it fresh. Well let’s start off with a bit of honesty. I know some days are fresher than others and there have been times where I missed the mark, but I do work hard to be consistent. Here are some ideas on ways to keep it fresh:

Prayer: First and foremost is the Spiritual end of all of this, this might be repetitive for this blog, but in this instance I don’t care. If your gift is about God then God needs to be in on the process. Praying and seeking God for direction in your work is key.

Passion: Consistency demands passion. I can post about this every day because I am passionate about creativity in the church. I feel like this is a huge part of my calling and encouraging people to use their creativity in the service of the Lord is tremendously important to me. As a result, I have a lot to say about it and it is really interesting to me and so I spend a lot of time thinking about it and studying it and working in it, which brings me to my next point…

Curate: No person is an island and fortunately there are a lot of people doing really creative stuff out there. Sometimes the best way I can serve my readers is to share what others are doing. This doesn’t just give me great content, it allows me to promote some really great people working in my field.

Never stop learning: Read, watch, listen and seek out all the information you can find on your topic, then share what you’re learning. One of the biggest blind spots anyone has is they don’t know what they don’t know. Finding new information and sharing it helps fill the gaps in our knowledge.

Chase inspiration down: If I waited for inspiration, I would have posted less than half of these posts. I have committed to posting here regularly, I have a small but faithful audience that is also interested in and passionate about this topic. I feel like I owe it to you to post great stuff as often as possible, so I don’t wait for inspiration, I seek it out and I don’t give up until there is a finished post ready to go up.

My goal is to give you the best post I can every day. I may not nail it, every day, but I know I will be bringing another post tomorrow. If you want to be consistent and keep it fresh it really comes down to three words. DO THE WORK!

nc1aLast Night I did my new presentation on what may be my favorite verse in all of Scripture, 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, the old has gone and the news has come.” I was trying to think of a good painting to do with it. I’ve already done butterflies and frogs exploring the metamorphosis concept of complete change, but that wasn’t quite right, So I went at it a completely different way.

First off I did something I almost never do. I started with a white surface. I usually speed paint on black. I started off by doing a very simple line art self portrait. What the congregation may not have realized is I was really gobbing on the black paint. Then I added some sky blue around it. What they didn’t know. was it was my intent from the beginning to wreck the painting. Taking paper towels I smeared it into a cloudy mess and then quit. When I began to speak, I spoke of how we basically start as a clean slate, but then life happens and we sin and we get splattered by the effects of sin and it makes a mess of us. I then talked about what it means to be a new creation in Christ—the way He transforms and renews and redeems us.

nc1bAt the end of the message I painted a picture of Jesus over the mess. The reason, when Christ redeems us, He allows us to put on His righteousness. The finished project was a little less successful than I like. For some reason my surface started to warp and it was falling out of the easel. Speed painting while holding your surface with the other hand is not easy. Nonetheless, the painting which took a total of about 8 minutes for both phases demonstrated what it was supposed to demonstrate and I was pleased.

Here’s the point, in Christ there is grace and forgiveness, but there is also transformation. Your past does not dictate your future. You can be redeemed. God can take your life and make it into something new. He can take the best of you and make it better. He can redeem the rest of you and turn it into a powerful testimony. God created you and He can also recreate you and when He does (and He will if you ask Him) you will be a new creation.