When I was a teenager someone I looked up to told me that one of the most important things that I could learn in life was to ‘do what comes naturally’.  Being young and naive, I took these words to heart (as smoke poured out of his van...).


My guitar taught me a better lesson.  It taught me about the importance of practice.  


You see, everything worth cultivating in my life has taken years of disciplined study and repetition.


I’ve become a fairly good guitar player, but that’s because I’ve been consistently playing for over 22 years.  When I started I was really bad.  Only after thousand of hours on the instrument did it become second nature. 


(My mom used to laugh at me for involuntarily sticking my tongue out while agonized over changing from a G chord to a D.  I wish I could play for her now.)


Yes, we all have natural strengths and gifts.  But I believe that it’s what we do with them that truly matters.


A love of music came naturally to me.  


Falling in love was the easy part.  Becoming a musician was hard.


I think the same principle applies to character.  For instance, I (being a Christian) want to be more like Jesus, but I am selfish by nature.  However, the more I practice things like humility, gentleness and kindness, the more natural it becomes to follow His way. 


Playing guitar has taught me that the beauty of what we gain is worth the pain that goes into our pursuits.  


I just started playing piano.  I think I’ll make some beautiful music on it ten years from now.


In the meantime I’ll have to work until I quit hitting bad notes.  

Success2012001Here’s one of the challenges of having any degree of success as an artist:

If you repeat the thing that was successful some of your audience will lose interest because they see you as predictable and boring.

If you do something different some of your audience will lose interest because you are not doing the thing that was previously successful.

I believe there’s only one way forward.

We must carry on with our work in a spirit of love, excellence, authenticity and integrity. We must keep growing as artists and human beings.

Releasing a work of art is an act of faith (perhaps I should say that it is an act of obedience). Our job is to send it out and see what kind of lightning returns to us.

Tonight I felt a small shock of electricity as I held a handwritten note that John Steinbeck wrote to a friend in the 1960’s.  It was a moment of awe.  

I’m not sure why I was so moved, but it was a holy moment in my life.  

I guess it’s just meaningful to connect with the people who mean something to us.  Even if we never meet them.  

Once again, relationship proves to be at the heart of the universe.  

Today I met a lady who shared an amazing story with me.

A few years ago her daughter was in a rehab program. During the trip to the centre she gave her one of my albums. 

There was one song that she really connected with. Apparently, she listened to it over and over. 

She paused, and then told me that she was convinced that the song had stopped her daughter from committing suicide.

And she was serious. 

I thanked her for sharing her story. I said it had made my week.

Actually, it has made my year. 

I share this with you because I am reminded that our small acts of creation can carry a weight of grace that has the power to change the world. 

Sometimes it goes beyond us in ways that we would never expect. 

So keep loving. Keep creating. 

Keep shouting hope into the void. 

The sound of life just may echo back.

Last summer I built a patio at the top of my yard. The other night I spent a few rich hours there chatting with a good friend. 

As the night wore on a thought occurred to me: 

I had not simply built a patio. 
I had created a place for meaningful conversations. 

I believe that our creative works can serve as signposts and symbols of greater truth. They embody something more than what we see on the surface.

My song might be an incarnation of hope.

Your film may help someone see the world in a different way.

The apple pie that you bake may remind someone that creation is incredibly good.

A well-kept house may affirm order in the universe. 

The examples could be endless. 

We need to keep creating. It brings more good to the world than we know.

A year and a half ago Ang and I bought our first house.  It has become a very beautiful place, and we are blessed to live here. 

I did the landscaping.  It has been a major project.

The yard is long and split-leveled.  The main grass area is hemmed in by a rock wall, flower beds and trees.  The lower yard is surrounded in by a second rock wall and a small garden.  We built a paver-stone patio between the two.

The main yard ends with a steep hill.  I tore out all of the wild grass and put in trees and plants.  We covered the empty space with bark mulch.  

On the upper half of the hill there is a natural plateau with a view of an orchard.  We leveled the plateau and built another rock wall.  

I wheelbarrowed over a ton of paver stones up the 25 yard incline and built another sitting area.  We fenced the yard.  We built the stairs. 

And beauty emerged from the chaos.

I think that the creation of beauty is one of the most important works in each of our lives.  Here’s why:

-Beauty affirms the goodness of creation.  

-It makes the world more like it was meant to be.  

-Beauty helps us to become more truly human.  

-She points to the world as it will one day be (More glorious.  More beautiful). 

Maybe I’ll unpack my thoughts about these things for you someday.  They are tied to the Christian themes of Creation, Fall, Redemption and Resurrection.

But for today, I simply want to encourage you to create beauty.  Share it with the people you love.  It can be hard work, but it makes the world more awesome.  

Maybe we’ll have you over for a barbecue someday. 

I think that many people are out there living with a big idea.

Watching the movie they’ve never made. Reading the book they’ve never written. 

The problem is this: It’s not any good for the rest of us.

Children cannot live in the orphanage that was never built. No one can laugh at the joke that was never told.


It’s only when we do the sweaty work of creation that it actually counts. 

People can’t be moved by the unmade film.

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