Posts Tagged ‘ministry creativity’

This week was the fourth week in our advent series, Let Heaven and Nature Sing and in it we explored the story of the classic hymn We Three Kings and the story of the coming of the Magi from Matthew 2.

I thought I’d be writing on my experience with NaNoWriMo today, but to be honest, I am still processing some of that while trying to get ready for our Thanksgiving Eve Service tonight, and that piece will take a little more time. I did however get a chance to grab a little lunch today and while eating, I was reading a great new book.

My friend, Marlita S. Hill has written a new book called Defying Discord. She sent me an advance copy to review and it’s wonderful. Defying Discord is a book for Christians with “secular” art careers. Basically it relates to how creatives called to create outside the walls of the church can glorify God. It has been a real blessing so far, be on the look out for it soon. I found this gem that I thought I would share. All my readers need to read and consider this.

“There’s a difference between asking God to bless what we’ve already set in place, and letting Him lead us in the actual deciding: from what we do, to how we do it , when we do it and with whom. There’s a difference in asking Him to lead us in what we’ve conjured up, and seeking Him about what we should be doing in the first place. This doesn’t mean we can’t make plans, it means we have to be flexible enough to receive adjustments, or replacements, to our plan if God has another way.”

This is so true. When we let God take the lead, we may not be sure where He will take us, but we know we’ll end up in the right place. In the very center of His will.

Every year in November there is something called NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month. The idea is to complete a 50,000 page novel in a month. Well I have had an idea for a book burning a hole in my brain for a few weeks now and I decided to hold off writing and give NaNoWriMo a try. My hope is that it will help me to finish the project by giving me a daily deadline of sorts.

The book is called Enough. It’s more non fiction than novel, but it has a storytelling element involved. If all is good, this may be the theme of my next speaking tour as well. I’ve decided that since this will be most of my content generation for the year, I would share snippets from my daily writing to give you an idea where the project is headed. My goal is to hit publish on this book by November 30. We’ll see how it goes.


Excerpt from Enough by Dave Weiss

I heard the story once of a very famous author. I won’t give his name in case the story isn’t true (the principle works regardless), but he’s a name you would know. He was at a dinner party when a friend pointed out a very young, 25ish man. The friend said, “You see that guy over there, he’ll make more money this year, than all your books have ever made.”

The author replied, “…but I have something he’ll never have…”


It’s true. For many of us, “enough” is an elusive thing. It’s a sliding scale, a moving target, an unreachable goal, made unreachable by our own growing desires. Put simply, “enough is tough.”

And it’s more than just money and possessions, it can manifest in virtually every aspect of life. In some ways, boiled down to the lowest common denominator, it seems to come down to a question, “Am I enough?” Isn’t that really what this quest for enough is all about? Do we have what it takes? Are we good enough? It’s a question of value, and of questioning of our value. These questions can put us on the hamster wheel of self-fulfillment, running hard and getting nowhere fast. Maybe it’s time to say, “Enough’s enough!”

Add to this the element of Christian faith and we come to an even more profound question—one many of us would just as soon sweep under a rug. “Is Jesus enough?” Oh we sing songs that say “Your grace is enough” or “All of you is more than enough” but in the quiet moments is the All-Sufficient One really enough for you?

The good news is, He is. He is all you will ever really need and has everything you will ever really need and it is in embracing His “enough-ness” (like that word? I just made it up!) that we find real life and real peace, not to mention purpose and value.

So step off the hamster wheel and join me as we explore what it means to be and have enough in the One who is truly more than enough. After all you were made for more than the closed system of the hamster cage with tubes and diversions but no real purpose. You were made for freedom and life by the one who created freedom and life. In Him, you are enough.


Today should be a fun day. Each year our church hosts a yard sale. Basically all the members, as well as some friends of the church being their unwanted items to our fellowship hall. We then sell the items and the proceeds go to funding various projects for the church. It’s actually fun and if you know what you’re looking for you can make some great finds. As I looked over the huge room with it’s heaping tables, I had a realization. Everything I found that I wanted is something that, for some reason or another, someone else was probably going to throw away. This shows once again that value is subjective. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure… 

…and I hate to say it like this, but it’s the same way with our creations. Some people will look upon it and see a treasure while others will look at it and only see trash. The task for the creative is to value their own work enough to ignore the critics and keep creating and it can be hard. After all, we love our work, or at least we should. I’m continually amazed at how many creatives seem to really dislike their own creations. I think if this is you, you’re looking at it wrong. You see I don’t think we actually dislike our work. If we did, we’d lay it aside and do something else. No what we are really struggling with is disappointment. On one side, the thing we’ve created is not as good as what we see in our heads and so we don’t like our end results. Here’s the thing, I’m not sure we are capable of creating a piece that is as good as the one we envisioned. That space between our ears is virtually unlimited, no struggles with media, no laws of nature contend with and certainly no limitations of ability. The imagination can just run wild and it can go way beyond our current skill level. Bringing that wildness into something others can see, is both the problem of the joy and the artist. Handled rightly, that disappointment can push us to greater levels of mastery and creativity. So don’t get down on yourself for your limitations, let those limitations spur you to greater levels of creativity.

On the other side are the external critics. Your work is just not their thing and sometimes they will disparage your work quite vocally. This is hard. We pour our hearts and souls into our work (and we should!) and this kind of stuff can feel very defeating. The thing is we have the choice as to whether or not we are defeated. Defeat in creativity (and many other aspects of life) can be summed up in one word, “quitting.” Do not give into that. The one calling you is bigger than your critics. If you’re work does not speak to someone, you have a decision to make. Are you going to give in and quit? Are you going to try to appease your critics by doing something that pleases them, even if it means creating work that no longer pleases you? Or are you going to forget about the people who consider your work trash and find the ones who consider it a treasure? The last choice will give you a lifetime of creative joy. The others will make you feel like trash.

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Look for the audience that treasures you.

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.

My friend Sherri Ziler re-posted these to Facebook and they are gold. I share them here as a reminder to us all.

1 – If you are alive then there is still hope (if you’re not dead then God is not done!)
2 – The biggest breakthrough is often right after the perceived breakdown!
3 – Blaming other people or circumstances for the trouble in our lives (and accepting zero responsibility) means failure is imminent!
4 – Our failures in the past do not have to be the focus of our future (in Christ…what we did is not who we are!)
5 – No matter how dark it seems (think tomb sealed with a guard outside) God is able to do the “impossible” (think resurrection!)

In two weeks, Lord willing, I will be presenting at the Church of the Brethren Church Planters Conference. I was asked to speak on a favorite topic of mine, Imagination. I love to speak on imagination because it is at the core of everything creative. Let’s face it, every great thing ever created started out in someone’s imagination. Before anything is created, it must first be imagined. And of course the best things imagined come from the imagination of God.

As I was considering how to bring this message, I was taken back to Romans 4:17 “As it is written: “I have made you a father of many nations.” He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not.” This is referring to an interaction between Abraham and God. Abraham is old, over 80 and childless when God comes to him and tells him that his 70 year old wife is going to bear him a son. This seems impossible in itself, but we should also consider that it took ten more years to come to fruition. It is before all this happens that God tells Abraham (actually Abram at this point) that he will be the father of many nations. Childless at 80 and will be a father of nations. It’s impossible and yet we can see that nation today. God calls into being things that were not. And he still does.

So what should be our response to our great God as He calls forth the seemingly impossible in our lives? Well let’s consider what Scripture says about Abraham. James 2:23 says “”And Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness,” and he was called a friend of God.” What if the only thing separating us from God’s will for our lives is a lack of belief. It’s this simple really. God is still God. He is still in the business of calling into being things that are not and He is still working in the lives of people who will believe. The question then is will you believe and follow.

I can’t speak for you, but I want to be a friend of God. I want to live out His will for my life. This means when He puts something into my life that fires my imagination, I want to go. I want to do it. It might seem impossible, but I learned a long time ago that God is really good at chains of events. What I need to be good at is faithfulness. Taking the first step and trusting Him with each one thereafter. This imagination we have is a divine spark. It is very likely God moving us into His will. We need to discern, we need to pray. We need to make sure it’s not just my imagination, and then we need to move. Oh and by the way, if it is just my imagination, if my heart is on doing His will, He will steer and move and correct. He will keep me on course.

The best side of my imagination comes from God. Yours too, so trust Him and act.

12039195_10153066538027190_1968538345458741944_nI did something on Thursday that I haven’t done in a long time. It’s called En Plein Air painting. Very simply put En Plain Air means making art outdoors. There idea is to work quickly to capture a fleeting moment, with the existing light. I did this as part of a sample lesson from and it was quite interesting. What I love about this type of painting, is so often I find myself painting ad drawing what I think something should be like and look like. En Plain Air painting forces me to work from my observation skills. There are a multitude of ways to do En Plain Air. In my case I set my easel by the stream in a public park, I laid a wash for the sky then very quickly roughed in the basic shapes. From there I got out the small brushes and began to work the details. My goal was to come up with an impressionistic piece, and I think I was somewhat successful. I call it He Leadeth Me Beside Still Waters. It’s 8″x10″ acrylic on canvas.

I really enjoyed the exercise, the challenge of reflections, and of capturing a moment. I encourage you to go out somewhere you might enjoy and give it a try.

It came up this morning, while goofing with my family. My wife was cutting my hair and about half way in, she had to step away for a moment. My son joked that she should leave my hair that way. My wife said, well he is an artist. It was a joke of course, but there is a stereotype. Many people expect us as artists to be, well, frankly, a little weird. My response, weirdness is not a prerequisite for being an artist.

We all know there is a good bit of truth to the stereotype and plenty of artistic folks who are more than willing to feed if with their strange behaviors. Society also seems to give artists the “weird” pass. Eccentricity is almost expected from us. But does it have to be?

I’ve heard so many artists talk about being misunderstood. To some degree that’s a cop-out. How can we be misunderstood when the very gifts we have received, are gifts that should make it much easier for us to express ourselves and make ourselves understood. If you feel misunderstood, apply your creativity to finding a way to be understood.

One could argue pretty successfully that artists seem to experience the world a bit differently than the rest of the general populace, but is that a license to be attention grabbing oddities? Personally, I don’t think so, especially for those of us who claim the name of Christ. Aren’t we supposed to be living to honor Him and point people to Him? Now that’s truth.

Scripture calls all believers a royal priesthood, a peculiar people… What that means is we demonstrate our “odditude’ not by being weird for weird’s sake, but by living such a good life among the world, that people will see us and be open to our message.

Now that’s a kind of weird I can get a hold of.

oneliners. A couple years ago, I wrote a book called One Liners. It’s a really simple concept, 365 creative kick starters for artists. One for every day of the year, though, of course you don’t have to use them that way. The Kindle version is free for the next five days on Amazon. Please note: you do not need a Kindle to read it. There is an app that can be downloaded to your phone, tablet, etc. This is a really short simple book, but if you ever find yourself a little blocked, this could really help. Click here to get your copy