what creatives need….

What do creatives in your organization, church or business need?  Not ALWAYS the top of the line equipment (although I must confess, having 16g’s of ram and 8 processor mac does help tremendously).  What they DO need is the freedom to create, experiment, dream and at times fail.  Case in point, the video below. Shot and edited on an iphone.  Watch all the way through to see how they did it at the end.


tell your story

This morning I was reading in my time with God about Horatio G. Spafford, the writer of the famous hymn It Is Well.  You’re probably familiar with his story, how he lost all four of his daughters in a wreck at sea, and how, when passing over the same spot where his daughters perished, he wrote that hymn.  By the way, this is a guy who was ruined financially and not only lost his four daughters, but also lost his only son.

This is a hymn we would sing growing up in my home church.  We would sing the song, most of it memorized and go on with the worship service.  Now, I don’t want to get into a debate of traditional vs contemporary, or hymns vs praise/worship songs.  That is not relevant here and I think the wrong questions anyway.  What struck me as I read the song lyrics today were two thoughts: 1. context 2. story.

Spafford wasn’t setting out when he wrote these lyrics to become debated by others on whether or not we should sing hymns vs songs.  In my opinion, he didn’t give a flip what you or I thought about his lyrics.  He was a man that was ruined, and in the darkness of his life, he was clinging to the only One worth clinging to.  He was telling his story…real, honest and raw. He was telling it in the context, in the language of his day to where people connected with it. He not only shared his story, he pointed them to Jesus and then to what awaits for those who believe and follow Jesus.  He shared the gospel in his story.  Imagine as the people in his day, knowing the story, knowing Spafford himself perhaps, would sing or read the lyrics in this song.  I’ll be honest, every time I hear or read the 3 and 4 stanza’s of this song, I get a lump in my throat and have to choke back tears of thankfulness, awe of God and hope.  It makes me want to do fist pumps and shout, “YES JESUS!!!”

So, where you live, in the context that God has placed you to breathe, work and relate, tell your story in your way.  Think about the people that may hear or see it.  Think about where they are at in their life.  Point them to Jesus.  Point them to the hope beyond that “this is not it”.

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
when sorrows like sea billows roll;
whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.
It is well with my soul,
it is well, it is well with my soul.

2. Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
let this blest assurance control,
that Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
and hath shed his own blood for my soul.

3. My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

4. And, Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
the clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
the trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
even so, it is well with my soul.

when it’s time to move on

Was reading this morning in Numbers 9 about the Israelites when they were moving along in the desert wilderness, post-Egypt.  Was reading verses 19-23.  Just some thoughts about following God in this verses that really stuck out to me.  I’ll try to keep this brief, but I’m thinking out loud so it probably won’t be.  May become a sermon at some point 🙂

19 If the cloud remained over the Tabernacle for a long time, the Israelites stayed and performed their duty to the Lord. 20 Sometimes the cloud would stay over the Tabernacle for only a few days, so the people would stay for only a few days, as the Lord commanded. Then at the Lord’s command they would break camp and move on. 21 Sometimes the cloud stayed only overnight and lifted the next morning. But day or night, when the cloud lifted, the people broke camp and moved on. 22 Whether the cloud stayed above the Tabernacle for two days, a month, or a year, the people of Israel stayed in camp and did not move on. But as soon as it lifted, they broke camp and moved on. 23 So they camped or traveled at the Lord’s command, and they did whatever the Lord told them through Moses.  – Numbers 9:19-23

Basic premise is that there was a cloud that was the Lord’s presence and would lead them through the wilderness on the way to the promise land (which included a 40 year sight seeing tour because of their disobedience, whining, complaining and wishing that they could go back to Egypt – but that’s another post for another time).  When the cloud came down and settled on the tabernacle, they were to camp there until the cloud lifted back up and moved on.  Here are my thoughts:

  • 19 – wherever the cloud settled, they “performed their duty to the Lord” – they worshipped, they lived, they did what God told them to do.  How about for you and me.  Are you at a place where you know there is a coming destination, whether in your career, family or ministry but right now you’re in the “getting there stages”?  Am I being obedient in serving Him wherever I am in the journey.  To coin a song title, am I being faithful where I’m at “while I’m waiting”?  Also, I think it is key to not miss the lesson in the waiting.
  • 20-22 – Sometimes they would camp for just one night.  Sometimes they would pull up camp during the night.  Then, sometimes they would camp for a month at a time, even a year.  When they were moving at a rapid pace, there had to be excitement in the camp..and probably some grumbling.  “Again, God?  We’re moving again?”  The flip side to that had to be in those prolonged times..the months and year times.  The text doesn’t say, but you know there had to be thoughts of “When, God?  How long until we reach the promised land?  We’ve been out here a long time.”  I think this is reality for most of us at some point in our journey.  There are times and seasons in my life where it seemed like God was moving in my life at a rapid fire pace.  Exciting things in life and ministry just firing off.  And then there are times where it seems God waits….He pauses.
  • 22-23 – As soon as the cloud lifted and moved on, they got up right then, pulled up stakes and followed.  This is tough.  This is hard at times.  Obedience.  Obedience is not doing what God says, when I feel like doing it and how I want to do it.  Obedience is doing what God says when HE says to do it and how HE says to do it.  Sometimes that is easy.  Sometimes not so much.  Listening, expecting, hearing and doing what Jesus says.  Praying and asking for grace to do them all.

doing the same thing….

…over and over again will produce the same results.  Now, I’ll give you a minute to digest the “incredible depth” of that thought. 🙂

If you’ve ever done any weight training consistently, one of the things you’ll experience is what I call “the plateau”.  The plateau is the point when a particular muscle group tends to not show or experience new growth.  I’m sure there are official medical terms for this, but I’ve seen it in my own experience.  There is a point where your muscle “remembers” that exercise, call it boredom, and growth is limited.

I think that is a great analogy for our lives.  There comes a point where we do the same routines in ministry, our careers, our families over and over again and we stopped being stretched and our growth is stunted.

Here’s what I’ve been thinking and asking myself:

  • What are the areas in my ministry that I need to stretch myself in?  In my career?  In my family?
  • What are the routines I need to change up to help stimulate new growth?
  • Try to be specific: This is a decision and an action that I need to make in order to break out a particular stagnate pattern.

Little or no budget? Innovate.

Love stuff like this.  With everyone it seems experiencing cutbacks in budgets, including creative media budgets, it pushes us to a couple of options.  One option is to sit back, and say what we can’t do.  The other is to ask “what can we do?”.  Innovation is often limited by leadership that is 1. focused on what we can’t do and 2. doesn’t give permission to experiment and fail.  I love what Craig Groeschel says about LifeChurch and their culture: “Failure isn’t just expected, it’s required.”  Here’s a church that built a very cool LED-esque wall with existing equipment and $1000.  Check it out:


the c word

We had my parents over for dinner tonight and we were discussing how many people that we know that have been impacted by cancer.  Kim had thyroid cancer back several years ago and now two incredible friends of ours (Tom and Angie) are waging their own battles.  Would you take a minute to pray for both Tom and Angie right now and any others around you that are fighting to battle cancer? Here is a quick synopsis of their stories and links to check out:

Tom Lowry – Tom was my youth pastor growing up, gave me my first opportunity in ministry by letting me intern under him in student ministry (what was he thinking? 🙂 ….) and has remained a great friend and encourager to me through the years.  He discipled me and help see me through the “yeah, it’s okay God, I’ve got this on my own” years.  He has always been like a second dad to me.  He had mentioned several weeks ago to me that he would be going through some tests and then this week revealed that the tests would be to test for cancer.  He shared the video below tonight at Curtis Baptist Church in Augusta where he is on staff still (church/place I grew up at).  You can follow Tom on his blog as well as he will be giving updates there:

Tom’s Blog: http://tomsthoughtsonstuff.blogspot.com


Angie Sanders – I first met Bobby and Angie at Lighthouse Baptist Church here in Aiken where I was on staff as the youth pastor.  I suckered them in asked them to become volunteers in our student ministry and later had the privilege to officiate at their wedding.  It has been incredible for me to watch them grow in their faith and how they have become leaders at their church in ministry.  They are a great example of Jesus with skin on: they just love Jesus and love people.  Angie has recently been diagnosed with cancer and has had surgery to remove it and is about to undergo additional chemotherapy.

Angie’s Group on Facebook

Pine Ridge Church Bumper

wow, I have been such a blogging slacker lately.  I apologize.  I think i have been working on more projects over the last few months than I have in quite a while.  Looking forward to a little break.  Here’s a bumper I created for Pine Ridge Church in Graham, NC.  I designed the sermon series artwork and then provided them with this bumper, promos and a countdown.


its former glory…..

v_sacredI had a meeting with the Augusta Symphony about a website so I met with them a few weeks ago.  They are housed at Sacred Heart Cultural center in downtown Augusta.  Sacred Heart was a church that closed in 1971 and was renovated and restored in 1987 as a cultural center for the community to rent.  It also houses several organizations.  I have looked at this building a lot in my days as it is right beside Curtis Baptist Church and School, two places where I spend A LOT of time growing up.  My older brothers use to sneak across the street during church into the old abandoned building and would often explore through it.

I wasn’t sure where exactly their offices were located so I slipped in through a door I saw open.  Straight ahead of me I saw a sign that said “Auditorium Entrance”.  I hadn’t been in Sacred Heart since shortly after it reopened in the late 80’s and just had to see it.  So, I snuck in through the auditorium door and when I walked through a small corridor, there I was on the stage at Sacred Heart.  If you have never been inside this building, you must see it (here’s a photographer’s site that I came across that had some great shots of the interior – Shawna Herring & here is a photo gallery on the sacred heart site).  As I looked around, it literally took my breath away…I was just blown away!  Just an incredible sight.  The summer sun was pouring in through the stain glass windows and the architecture, paint, the craftsmanship…just unbelievable.  I just stood there for a while taking it in.

As I stood there, all of the sudden this thought hit me:

This use to be a place where people came expecting God to move, expecting to worship, encountering Jesus.

My mood changed.  I felt crushed as I began to think about that.  I was reminded that this church was like so many others that I’ve seen and know: Churches that at one time were thriving with life and were impacting the community around them.  Over time they had lost that focus on Jesus, lost what it meant to present and be the Gospel in the context of their community at that time.  So many churches are just dying…just empty buildings.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  I am thrilled that this beautiful building is being used so effectively in the community.  But as I was driving back to Aiken I thought a lot about those two extremes of emotion that I had just experienced.  It made me wonder about Cedar Creek, and other churches that right now are making an impact in their community and the world.  Here are some questions:

  • What will our church/churches look like in 40 years?  In 5 years?  Will these churches keep their focus on Jesus or will they cease to exist?
  • Will we hold to our styles and methodologies as sacred and become culturally irrelevant?
  • As the “contemporary churches” become the new traditional churches (by the way, that is happening all over in churches that were birthed out of the Saddleback and Willow Creek models), will they be willing to ask the hard questions and make the even tougher decisions that it takes to change their methods (not the message) as needed over time?