Posts Tagged ‘Rush’

…When God used three guys from Canada to trigger my imagination. No I didn’t become a rock star like them, but I discovered the power of art and story and that the things I was dreaming of could be possible. I only realized years later how defining the moment was. You gotta love guys who can take an epic 19th century Coleridge poem and turn it into a rock and roll masterpiece.

This is further proof that God can use anything to move us into His will.
Thanks guys.

Okay this didn’t really happen and for those of you who don’t know, Geddy is Geddy Lee, bass player, lead singer and keyboardist for my favorite rock band, Rush. Widely regarded as among the great rock musicians of all time, Geddy is my musical hero. This guy just oozes talent. He didn’t really come to my house, but in a dream I had last night, there was a knock at my door and there he was. I took him to my studio. I must have known he was coming because it was clean. I showed him some of the stuff I am working on as well as some other stuff. Then I started to take him around and introduce him to my family and friends, he was very gracious. Then finally things got a little out of hand and we were on the roof of this low building and people were mobbing him for autographs, Stuff like that happens in dreams. Amidst the chaos, I woke up and it got me to thinking.

If I ever met Geddy, if he ever came to my house, that is pretty much what I would do. I’d show him the stuff that was important to me and I’d introduce him to everyone I could. Some of you know where I am going with this…

I know Jesus and while Geddy is a musical genius, Jesus is the creator of the universe and Savior of all who will believe, yet it would be dishonest for me to say I have introduced him to everyone I know. It would be cool for my friends and family (not to mention me), the people I love to meet Geddy. It is essential that they meet Jesus. I guess I post this to ask you the same question. If your hero came to visit your house, who would you tell? Now, who have you introduced to Jesus?

I think we can all do better.

I saw a Youtube video from one of my favorite artists, Neil Peart, drummer from Rush. It was called Neil Peart’s Top 10 Rules for Success. These ten points are definitely worth considering. My friend Craig Smith has often mentioned taking secular sources and “baptizing” them. This is one of those that applies to a broad spectrum of creatives. Consider this and see where it takes you.

One likes to believe in the freedom of music,
but glittering prizes and endless compromises
shatter the illusion of integrity…”
-Rush, Spirit of Radio

Yes, I’m quoting Rush again… I can’t help it. i was listening to the radio and they came on and when I heard this line, it really stuck in my head. In their song they bemoan the idea of the music industry losing its integrity. That was 1980 and a lot of water has passed under the bridge since then, but listen to any pop station and you will probably have to admit not much has changed. Integrity in the arts is huge and often lacking.

But let’s go further. Add faith to the mix and integrity becomes infinitely more crucial. After all, we are trying to honor God with the gifts He has given us. We are trying to communicate His message, and represent Him to the world around us and that is no small task. How can we create with integrity?

Well for starters, what is integrity? It’s derived from the same word we get “integer” from. An integer is a whole number and integrity also implies a kind of wholeness. A creative with integrity, will bring his or her best to every task. They will let their yes be yes and their no be no, as Scripture says. They try to live a life worthy of their call and they honor God and everyone else as best they can.

Integrity in the arts usually implies originality. That’s not to say we’ll never quote someone else’s work (see above) or expand on what someone else has done, but it’s never a “knock-off.” I’ll now use myself as an example. This is not toe say that I have arrived, but as a Christ following work in progress, these are the goals. I’m a cartoonist, but I’m not trying to be the Christian (fill in the name of your favorite cartoonist here.) I’m trying to keep my eyes on my own paper and create the things God lays on my heart. i try to bring my best to every project, having a consistent quality that others can depend on. I work every chance I get to try to learn and grow and try to give God my best. Add to that trying to walk the talk and you get a pretty good idea of how I see integrity.

Integrity also implies giving credit where credit is due. I believe my gifts and talents come from God and with that should come huge doses of humility. Integrity also implies that I will try to help another creative, and that I will never undermine or undercut someone else. At the end of the day, I am trying to do my small part in creating a better world, by being a blessing. When I achieve this in big and small ways, I am close to integrity.

Now truth be known I could have gone a different way. Several year ago I went to a conference for my denomination. I was frustrated beyond belief at what was happening and I did not want to make a scene, so I did what I usually do. I got out my sketch book and expressed my feelings in art. I then came home and posted some of my creations to this blog and a funny thing happened.

I posted them here not as a statement about what was happening but as a demonstration of constructive, creative venting, just for my tribe of creatives that read this blog. Someone from my denomination asked if they could post a fe of the cartoons to their website. I didn’t see the harm so I said yes. Well a group that opposes that group got wind of it and began blasting the work. This drove the hits way up. My blog that gets 30-50 hits on a good day, got 511 hits in one day. This showed me controversy “sells.”

Don’t think the temptation to keep that going with more and more controversial stuff wasn’t huge, because it was. I love getting lots of hits and having lots of people read my stuff but that’s not why I am here. I am here to get the church creating, and to help the church embrace creatives and creativity. The controversy wouldn’t get that done, so integrity demanded I return to what I actually feel called to do.

Integrity is hard won and easily lost. Guard your heart and guard your work. A certain level of worldly success can be found in dropping your integrity. The artistic landscape is littered with the bodies of those who have done it. Real success comes with being true to who God made you do be and doing what you are called to do. Work in integrity with an eternal focus. Ultimately you won’t be sorry.

rushtssFor those of you who don’t know, I am a fan of the band Rush. As far as I’m concerned (and I know) many will disagree, they are the greatest band in the history of Rock and Roll. Today I watched them say “Good-bye.” They have retired from touring and possibly completely. Over the course of their last tour, they recorded a documentary called Time Stand Still, chronicling their 40 year career as a band. Maybe it’s because I am a huge fan, but I found it to be quite touching and a great tribute to a great band.

The thing that struck me the most was seeing these guys who I have followed since I was a 16 year old high school junior, a long, long, long time ago, dealing with a major life transition. They started this band when they were 15 years old. Looking at the credits, I realized that these life-long friends have kept many of the same people that have been with them since the beginning. This is more like an extended family than a band and all of the sudden they are at the end trying to figure out what to do next for the first time in a long time.

True, they don’t have to do anything. They’ve had a long and stories career that includes being inducted into the rock and roll hall of fame, but they’re artists and that’s not the kind of thing you quit. Many of you can relate, I know I can. One other thing that I saw was their reason for retirement. They simply have come to the point of realizing they can’t do the quality of music, (especially the drummer, Neil Peart) for the rest of their lives and so they decided to go out when they were still at the top of their game. I can respect that as well.

There was something else. More than just about the band, this documentary was about their relationship with their fans. Their fans are extremely loyal. There were people in the video that had seen the band live well over 100 times. (I’ve “only” seen them eight times.) Listening to these people talk, I came away realizing something, they matter to the band, and the band matters to them. The work that they’ve done matters to the people that love their work. It made me wonder “Does my work matter?” Maybe you’ve asked that question too.

Notice I didn’t say “Do I matter.” My wife, kids, family and especially my Lord proved that a long time ago, but what about my work? Does it matter? Now I’m not looking for the kind of scale that Rush has achieved. They took their path and they did their work and they have reaped their benefits. No what I want to know is does my work matter to the people who love what I do. Does what I am doing matter to the people who take the time to read it, buy it and listen to it. Am I a blessing to the people who give me their most valuable of resources, their time. I want to bring my best to everything I do, and when I can no longer do it, I want to lay it aside.

Time doesn’t stand still, no matter how much we’d like it to. The best thing I can do is work hard and finish well. That’s the best you can do too.

Here’s their song, Time Stand Still, just because.

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.

neilpeartasakidI saw this photograph this morning and it really touched me.

The young man in the photo for those who do not recognize him is Neil Peart, drummer for the band, Rush. He is one of my favorite musicians and widely regarded as the greatest rock drummer of all time, but look at the quote. My guess is a lot of people who read this blog will relate the sentiment. There are an awful lot of us artistic types who have a hard time fitting in, especially when we’re young and that feels so important.

But here’s the thing. Those of us who have pressed through have found the truth, we don’t fit because we are headed for something better, something new, something true. We are not here on this planet to fit into a world system, we are here to change it and you can’t change it by being like everybody else, by fitting in. So stand up, stand out and let your light shine.

Misfits unite!!!

Oh and one last thing, just because we know this to be true, doesn’t mean this is easy, especially for the young ones. They need someone to come alongside and help them, believe in them and show them they are special, not weird, gifted and talented for a reason. If you’re a believing artist, we need to invest in the next generation.

Love this song by For King and Country… I pray it blesses you today.

And here is a clip of Neil in action.

neilpeartI know I’ve written about him many times before, but as he embarks on what may be his final tour, I wanted to share a few things about Rush drummer Neil Peart. Ostensibly the greatest rock drummer of all time, he was once on a very different trajectory. Serving as parts manager at his father’s International Harvester dealership, the opportunity to audition for Rush came up. I recently watched an interview where Neil’s dad realized that if his son didn’t try, he would always wonder what might have been and gave his son his blessing, saying there will always be a parts manager position for you if it doesn’t work out. The rest as they say is history.

I wonder if we would be that charitable. For most parents, the idea of their children working in the arts is a pipe dream to be discouraged and I’ll be the first to admit it, the odds are stacked against us. Yet for those who work and persevere, the outcomes can be fantastic. We may never be regarded as the best there has ever been, but a living can be made in the arts and for some of us, this is what we were born and created to do. Maybe we’d be better off giving permission to try, especially if the person you’re giving permission to try is yourself. Hone your talents and audition, submit your work. The worst that can happen is people will say no (Neil Peart’s bandmates, Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson almost did. Seeing his shorter hair, questioned whether he would be “cool enough” for the band. That would have been a huge mistake.) and even that does not have to be the end. Self-publish your work, find your audience and see what happens.

I believe we were all created to create. The possibilities are endless and too many artists have been sacrificed on the altar of practicality. I’m not saying be irresponsible and I’m not saying you shouldn’t do what it takes to support yourself. I’m saying explore the possibilities and give yourself permission to try. You never know what will happen.

Sometimes the parts manager becomes the greatest drummer in rock and roll history.

I haven’t posted much of my personal art lately but I am still having some fun making pop art. This is my latest piece. I call it Digital Man II. It was loosely inspired by the Rush song of the same name but it is more about experimenting with shape and form. If you’d like to see more of my pop art, click the image and you will be connected with my online gallery at


I also made it available as a T-shirt because I thought it would make a great shirt and it does if I do say so myself.

I just saw yet another report, declaring Rush drummer, Neil Peart to be the greatest rock drummer of all time. Nothing new, it happens quite a bit, and I believe it to be true. I’ve seen a LOT of rock drummers and no one comes close to Neil Peart!

But here’s the thing… What do you do when you’ve reached the peak. What do you do when it looks like you can’t go any further? Well check out what Neil does.

He goes back to classics, strips down his drum kit and works out on one of his influences.

In this case he plays with the Buddy Rich Orchestra. Buddy Rich is another drummer widely regarded as one of the best ever.

Reinvents his instrument

In this case Peart turns his drums into synth controllers and plays his kit melodically. This is such a radical departure from the way drums are usually played.

Why do I share all this? Well I’m a fan, but that’s not it. I share this because we even someone widely regarded as the greatest of all time can find room to grow. He practices, practices and practices some more. We all have influences and even the greatest of all time can find someone to emulate and a way to stretch his abilities. He also stretches the limits of his instrument and pushes the boundaries of his craft. These are things we can all do, whether you’re a beginner or the best ever. Developing our gifts and talents takes work and that work continues for a lifetime.

Even the greatest can get better. How about you?