Posts Tagged ‘mission’

Theologian Charles Spurgeon one said “Discernment isn’t knowing right from wrong, it’s knowing right from almost right.” Well our content creation has a similar need for discernment. It’s not necessarily that we need to know right from wrong, though if you’re creating stuff you know Is wrong you need to stop that, now. No, the discernment we need is, as my friend Timothy Wallace says, between the good things and the God things. Case in point:

Since last fall I have participated in three daily art challenges. It all started when I discovered Inktober, a challenge to create an ink drawing each day for the month of October. Well one of my primary art forms is cartooning, which relies heavily on ink, so I jumped in and it was a lot of fun. I’m a pretty firm believer in creating every day to keep your skills sharp so I thought it was a good thing and I got connected to a few people through it. Then in March, I found out about Marchartoon, a similar challenge more specifically tailored to cartooning. Once again This one was a good time and I later found out it was created by some folks that run a youth sports club in Croatia. They liked my work and it led to me getting to speak, via video, to the club in one of their meetings. Then finally I thought, why to create your own, and so I came up with the one I am currently working through Art MAYhem, which has been a real blast, even through I have only one regular participant besides myself. My temptation is to create a different challenge for each month and try to build up a tribe of creatives under my Facebook page The Daily Creative.
The question is, is this a good thing or a God thing? To this point I am undecided.

On one hand I have a mission to help creatives, and as stated earlier I am a firm believer in creating every day to keep your skills sharp and growing, but I don’t just want to keep them busy, because while sharp skills are important, my mission is more than just getting people to create, it’s creating to the glory of God and helping creatives and the church to work together. For this reason I have some decisions to make. While these activities are really fun and I have been able to figure out ways to glorify God in them, they are also really time consuming. Time is the great equalizer in our lives. We all only have 24 hours, and since most of us do something else for a living, and all of us need to sleep, not to mention the other responsibilities, those hours are often really diluted. If we only have a few creative hours a day, is a daily creative challenge really a God thing or just a good thing? The answer is not as easy as you think.

The challenges have taken a lot of time, which may take me off task, but they have also opened doors into the world beyond the church, especially the art world, which is clearly part of my mission field. I’m reminded of the biblical proverb, “Do you see a man skilled in his work, he will serve before kings…” What if this time consuming art opens doors for me to glorify God? It’s already happened, Cost benefit analyses don’t often work in God’s Kingdom and economy. It is for this reason that we need discernment when entering into projects. It all starts with prayer.

Ask God to help you to stay on mission…

More coming soon

The other day I watched a video of my all-time favorite band. No it wasn’t one of their produced, polished videos. No, they were playing a high school assembly. They weren’t stars yet. They were just beginning. Don’t get me wrong, they were really pretty good, they had even recorded an album, but it was nothing compared to what they are now after 40 years of touring and induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It led me to wonder… Did they know? Back then, playing for next to nothing, could they envision the arenas, the world tours, the rock star life they eventually got to live. I’m thinking yes.

There’s the story I’ve shared here before about Walt Disney’s widow at the opening of Walt Disney World. A well meaning supporter said, “If only Walt could have seen this.” Her response was priceless and perfectly in keeping with my theme today. She said, “He could see it, that’s why it’s here.”

We all start somewhere. There is an inciting incident, a dream, a vision something that starts us on the long and arduous journey to success. That vision is what sustains us in all those times when the distance between the dream and the goal seems painfully long. The Bible says, “Do not despise humble beginnings.” If that’s where you are today, rejoice. Remember the dream, remember why you do what you do and press on.

It’s been almost two decades since I got a vision for the arts in ministry. I’m nowhere near where I want to be, where I feel led to be and yet I get to speak all over the country and people read this blog all over the world. I’m so much further than I was when I started and it felt for all the world like I was the only one with this dream. I can’t wait to see what happens next. Be faithful because God is faithful.

The band I referenced at the beginning of this post is Rush. They’re not a Christian band but this line from their song Mission, is exactly what I am talking about. “A spirit with a vision is a dream With a mission.” (Check the rest of the lyrics below, if there was ever a song I wished I had written, it’s this one!) Let your God-given vision drive your mission. Humble beginnings become origin stories. They inspire the ones who come after to keep pushing the dream forward.

He who began a good work in you will carry it through to completion in the day of Christ Jesus.

As we come upon a new year, it’s a great time to check yourself. Where are you headed? What do you want to accomplish? Most importantly, where is God leading? Most of this deals with vision. Scripture reminds us that without vision, the people perish and while that may sound extreme and taken a bit out of context, this much you can be sure of, without vision, a million things will take up your often very limited time, many of which will take you off task. If it’s your desire to get somewhere, it’s always a good idea to know where you’re headed.

An old philosopher once said “A journey of a thousand miles, starts with a single step.” That philosopher was at least partially wrong. A journey of a thousand miles starts by knowing where you’re headed. So how do you know where you’re headed?

1. Pray. If we’re in this with God, then it sort of makes sense that He should be consulted. Sometimes you’ll get these bolt from the blue ideas, but more than likely it will just be a gentle nudge.
2. Think about your passions and experiences. What is important to you? What makes you think, “Someone should do something about that?” What excites you? Now take those things and put them up against this question, “What can I do about it?” The place where you passion and your skill set meet, is usually the sweet spot for finding your vision.
3. Turn your vision into a mission. Once you have the goal, you’re ready to start taking those all important first steps. Feel the gentle nudge and start to move toward living the vision and fulfilling the mission.

At this point you may be feeling some pushback. “Yes, but I feel like have a million ideas every day. How do I choose?” Welcome to the world of being a creative. The thing is, once you have a vision and a mission, that becomes the filter for all your ideas. Will this idea move me closer to fulfilling my mission? Is this idea a distraction or a step? If it will move you closer, have at it. If not, write it down, put it aside and keep moving forward.

Having a clear vision, will help you eliminate distractions, stay on task and accomplish your goals.

What’s your vision? Start thinking about it, so you’re ready to launch into an amazing 2016.


the messageThis year in my devotions I am reading The Message cover to cover, Genesis to Revelation. In his introduction to Leviticus, Eugene Peterson makes a pretty great and very truthful statement. Peterson writes:

One of the stubbornly enduring habits of the human race is to insist on domesticating God. We are determined to tame Him. We figure out ways to harness God to our projects. We reduce God to a size that conveniently fits our plans and ambitions and tastes.

But the Scriptures are even more stubborn in telling us that we can’t do it. God cannot be fit into our plans, we must fit into His. We can’t use God—God is not a tool or appliance or credit card.

I think this really hit me because I know that if I don’t guard my heart, I also have this tendency. There are days where I’ll admit, I would just love it if God would just cooperate and do what I want Him to do. This is a Spiritual danger zone. Places are shifting, and I am moving myself into the place that God should occupy in my life. Do you ever go there?

What we need to remember is God is God and we are not. We create stuff, He created the universe. He’s perfect, we are far from it. He knows the story from beginning to end while we can barely see the next step and when we can see it, it is because He illuminated it for us. We are addicted to easy, to comfort and we get frustrated when God seems to refuse to play along.

But consider this. We get to be part of God’s plan. We get to have a hand in some pretty amazing things. This is not because we are awesome or worthy, but because we’ve been invited into them by a God who loves us. When we try to make Him part of what we’re doing, we take on far too much pressure. Better for us to submit to being a part of what He is doing. He will never fit into our mold. He’s simply too big, but when we allow him to bust through our convenience and complacency, when we allow Him to knead us and mold us and push us into His mold, we become the very thing He intended us to be. That is the meaning of our lives. That’s why we were created. That’s the mission.

Will you trust God to be good? Will you trust Him to lead the way? Will you join Him in the life-changing, world-changing work He is doing in this world? That’s the mission.

Do you accept it?

Australian Daredevil Felix Baumgartner recently completed a skydive from space, some 24 miles above the earth. No, I’m not recommending you take something like this on, it might be considered “putting the Lord thy God to the test” but there is something we can learn from this. Imagine the discussion he must have had when this feat first came to mind.

FB: I’m thinking about skydiving.
Friend: Why would any sane person jump from a perfectly good plane?
FB: No I’ve jumped from a plane hundreds of times. I want to skydive from space.
Friend: That’s impossible.
FB: Is it?
Friend: Well first of all there’s no gravity up there.
FB: Not that far up, just the Stratosphere.
Friend: Oh well if it’s just the stratophere…
FB: Oh, shut up.
Friend: Well first of all it would cost a lot of money.
FB: I’ll get sponsors.
Friend: And how will you get up there? I don’t think planes don’t go up that high and even if it did, I doubt you could open it. And a rocket goes way too fast.
FB: I’ll bet I could hitch a ride on a weather balloon, in a pressurized capsule.
Friend: It’s got to be seriously cold up there. You’ll freeze and won’t your body explode from the pressure differences?
FB: I’ll wear a space suit.
Friend: You’ll be going awfully fast.
FB: Hopefully…
Friend: You’d probably break the sound barrier.
FB: Even better!
Friend: You’ll be torn apart at that speed.
FB: Hmm, I’ll have to work on that but I’m pretty sure if I can get a suit that will keep me from exploding, I can get something that will keep me in tact.
Fried: What if you pass out and can’t pull the ripcord?
FB: Details, details. It’s not impossible.
Friend: I think you’re crazy…

That’s a completely fictitious conversation of course, but think about the process. Felix Baumgartner wanted to do something that had never been done before. Something most people would consider impossible not to mention insane. Let’s be realistic. There were a lot of things that could have gone wrong and one by one they all had to be addressed, removing as many of the variables as possible, until they had a relative assurance of safety. Lots of work, lots of preparation, lots of money and it all would have gone for naught if he hadn’t jumped.

But he did jump and he did land and he landed alive and well. That one moment in time has changed his life forever.

Brothers and sisters it’s the same process for us. We start off with a dream and a vision to do something God is leading us to do. The risk is probably not nearly as extreme as Baumgartner’s, but there is risk. There are variables to be considered, questions to be answered and work to be done. We can prepare and prepare but eventually we will all stand at the precipice of a leap of faith. You might be standing there right now.

What’s keeping you from jumping?
Here’s a video from the 18 mile test jump.

You may have noticed a few differences on the main page of this site. In working with my coach, he has been challenging me to work on the way I present this ministry. I wrote something in one of my notes to him that really stood out to him. “It’s not just about art.” He called it out, tweaked it and now it’s the new AMOKArts tagline.

It’s sort of a crucial thing. I think a lot of churches see this ministry as just about art or  just for artists and as such may be hesitant to bring me in to speak. Maybe some people look at this site and think it’s just for artists. That really limits the scope of this ministry and it’s a limitation I don’t want and I don’t think God intends. I want to do more than just come to a church and make art and I want to help you dear reader to do more than just make art.

So what is it about?

It's Not JUST about the art...It’s not JUST about the art… 

AMOKArts is about PASSION
It’s about a passion to know Jesus and make Him known.

AMOKArts is about VISION
It’s about helping people to find God’s plan and purpose for their lives, to find and use their gifts to glorify God, serve others and make the world a better place.

AMOKArts is about MISSION
It’s about helping churches to empower their people to be all God intended them to be so the church can fulfill the mission God has given them.

I want to help people and churches to have a passion for Jesus, live their vision and accomplish their mission. Art is the tool, but it’s all about Jesus.

That’s what’s on the main page of this site and it’s what’s on my heart. I want to see people come to Jesus and I want to see them find and use their gifts to serve Him. I want to see churches full of empowered believers reaching out with the tools God gave them to fulfill the mission God has for them in the world. I want to help the church to fulfill its mission. I want to help church leaders to move  their visions forward and reach a generation for Christ.

I am so passionate about this because my whole life was radically changed when a pastor identified my gift and gave me a way to use it in the church. One small art project was used by God to set this ministry in motion, a ministry that has taken me all over the U.S. preaching and teaching and yes, painting with a passion for introducing people to Jesus, helping them to become all God made them to be. I believe that there are thousands and maybe millions of people like me in the church of Jesus Christ who are just a nudge and an idea away from doing great things for the Kingdom. I want to be that nudge and bring those ideas.

Church leaders, what dreams and visions and missions could you accomplish if even just a few more people stepped forward and said, “I want to be used by God. I want to serve. Here’s my gift. What can I do?”   Let me help you see that happen.

48 Days to the Work You Love by Dan MillerI’m vacationing in Ogunquit Maine. Today I went to a modern art museum and two galleries and I am thoroughly inspired. On a little break, I was reading Dan Miller’s 48 Days to the Work You Love and I came upon this gem that every creative needs to consider…

“What is it that you find naturally enjoyable? If money were not important, what would you spend your time doing? When do you find time just flying by? What arethose recurring themesthat keep comingup in your thinking? What did you enjoy as a child but perhaps have been told was unrealistic or impractical too focus on as a career?

This is a tough area for most people. There is a subtle Spiritual myth that following our dreams is likely to be selfishh, egotistical and something God would frown on. That kind of thinking implies that God is totally outside of ourselves; we are simply physical robts separated from His mind and heart.

However, we are created in God’s image and as such are creators ourselves. Why would God have created us to think imaginatively and to have vivid dreams only to then squelch those dreams for practicality? Consider the possibility that your dreams are thhe voice of your soul, God’s voice within you, longing for expression through your faith in action. And as you move toward your values, dreams and passions, you will move toward being more Spiritual and more fully what God created you to be.”

If all this were true (and I believe with all my heart that it is) what would you do?

We’ve looked at our identity as children of God and how this is ultimately who we are. We’ve looked at the underlying motivation of glorifying God that should drive our efforts. Now it is time to look at what it is that we will actually do. This is the actual “work.”

I believe this is ultimately guided by a couple of factors:
First what did God make you to do? Each of us has been blessed with gifts, talents, aptitudes and experiences that will open doors as to what our “work” will be. I believe there was something each of us was made to do and when many different people do the many different things we were created to do in community, we form the body of Christ. So the first step is finding what God has created us to do and doing it to His glory, while seeking out others to share and collaborate with.

Next what are you passionate about? I believe God makes us passionate about the (positive) things He wants us to do. For example if you see something that makes you say someone should do something about that, especially if that thought keeps you up at night. Chances are the someone who should do something is you.

Next what is the need? Ultimately I believe this needs to be secondary but it is vital. Sometimes we need to go beyond our giftedness and so something just because it needs to be done. Sometimes someone needs help right now and simply can’t wait for a uniquely gifted person to show up. Sometimes “you gotta do what you gotta do.” I believe in these moments God gives us the grace to do what must be done. In some cases, God will even use these times to show you a gift and a plan you didn’t recognize. AMOKArts What's Your Sweet Spot?

There is a very big caution here though. We all have a temptation toward self-importance that forces us to just keep on taking on one more thing. I’m not convinced this is Godly but rather becomes a pride issue. Working outside our giftedness is okay for a time, but we should always be looking for the person for whom the activity will be their “sweet spot” and when we find that person we should step aside and let them take over.

Ultimately we will do our best, most God-glorifying work in our gifting. We need to seek out that gifting and develop and use it to God’s glory. We need not wait until we are perfect. Rather we need to give God our best today praying and believing and knowing that giving our best today will help us to be better tomorrow.

What will you do?

Once we’ve established our identity in Christ, “who we are?” if you will, we are ready to begin to look at why we are here? What are we here to do? This is where we begin to explore purpose and calling. Ephesians 2:10 says “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God prepared for us to do.” In other words we were created on purpose, for a purpose, to live out a mission. There is something by definition that we were created to do.

I think sometimes we want to rush into the nuts and bolts of this. What are we to do and where will we get the resources to do it? Both good questions which will be answered in time, but first I think we need to look at the overarching reason we, as followers of Jesus Christ, do what we were created to do. In Matthew 5 Jesus calls us the light of the world, which is quite an honor because, He also called Himself the light of the world. He says we’re like a city on a hill that cannot be hidden and that we shouldn’t hide our lights under a bowl but rather put them on a stand so they can give light to everyone in the house and then He says, “In the same way let your light shine before men, so they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in Heaven.

Quite simply put it means the end purpose of all the things we do in this world should be done for the purpose of giving God the glory He so richly deserves. This should be the first and foremost purpose of every believer, no matter what their gift.

Is it why you do what you do?

Now that we know who we are, and what we do next time we will look a little more closely at what it is that we will do.