Monday, May 19, 2014


Russell Crowe is one of my favorite actors.  Not only can he act, but when he takes the screen, I find myself drawn into the narrative. Russell Crowe’s talent and professionalism help me believe that he is the character being portrayed.  This was the case in Gladiator (2000), A Beautiful Mind (2001), The Quick and the Dead (1995), Robin Hood (2010) and Noah (2014).  

Maybe this is my male suburbanite way of escaping through movies or maybe there is something about what Russell Crowe brings to his characters that connects with me on a deeper level.  What is that deeper lever?  Maybe a bit of Russel’s work on the screen reminds me of the man that I want to be?  

The essence of the story line is that God is important to Noah.  The level of importance commands Noah to do things that make no sense for his lifestyle or the people around him.  On one level, he would appear driven and fanatical to people that were not participating in this plan.  Yet on the other hand, isn’t this the kind of single-minded focus that we all believe is the main ingredient for success?  

I won’t give the movie away, because if you have an interest you may want to see it and be surprised and entertained.  By the way, the word, “entertained” is key to appreciating the movie, Noah.  This is a Hollywood product meant to make money by entertaining the viewer.  Using a Biblical character (not a Biblical story line), may cause concern for the Biblically literate purists.  If it does then keep this in mind.  I don’t think Hollywood employs preachers or theologians.  They employ great story tellers.  Creative license allows the industry to tell all kinds of stories even those that are a bit off center from what I hold to be true.  

In talking to one friend about the movie, a concern was expressed that the viewers who don’t know the story of Noah would be misled in matters of faith.  I agreed with that statement but not with the concern and here’s why.  Is it the movie maker’s job to communicate the truth of my faith?  No, it’s my job!  As stated earlier, “the essence of the story line is that God is important to Noah”. If I believe as Russell Crowe’s Noah believes, (and as Noah of the Bible believed) then you should expect to read about me doing some seemingly crazy things.  To carry the point further, we as believers should be doing crazy things.  Isn’t it true that congruent action corroborates a belief system?  So what kind of crazy things could or should believers do in this situation?    Take some friends to see the movie and then have a conversation about it.  If there is an interest in things spiritual, then you have an open door to tell the story right.  With this approach, the movie can have a great impact but the heavy lifting is up to you and me. This approach is meant for those who stand on the side of art and or entertainment having evangelistic value.

I loved the special effects, the acting and the scenery.  I wasn’t around when God talked to Noah, nor did I see how the ark was built.  But through the creativity of CG, I was given another reason to consider and believe in the miraculous nature of the entire story.  
The last thing that I will say on this subject has to do with how Russell helps me step into his job.  During the movie, I was convinced that Noah believed in a real God that has real power and that power works in realtime.  Can I say the same about my normal non-cinematographic life in North Atlanta?  Can you?

Sunday, March 16, 2014


I have been a church-goer for so many years that I can't remember a time that I did not go to church on a regular basis.  There have been tiny churches, some built on a military model, ethnic churches, language churches, country churches, big city churches and really big churches.  Some of the environments have felt like lectures and some like an inside view to a family. Others, like a seminar and still others like a concert featuring what was supposed to be my favorite rock band of teenagers.

After doing all of this, many questions have arisen. There's no way to address all of them here, but let me throw out one for my own processing and for your entertainment.  Here it is.  What's the right kind of church?  The answer to that question is complex.  My dear old mom-in-law would say, "the right kind of church is one where you hear a good message!"  She is right on target.  A good friend of mine that leads a big church would say,"the church is a training center for the people of God so we can have an impact".  After seeing this guy do his thing for a few years, I can say that is just what he has developed.

As a good student of contemporary culture,  I feel compelled to direct the reader of this post to "find your own answer".  I can imagine my non-Christian friends nodding their heads in agreement. LOL!!  Alas, that is not my answer nor what I believe to be the truth.  If one is involved in church and finds value as a part of a worshipping community, then the purpose, values and reason for selecting a church need to come from the Bible.  After all, God has his own ideas, true?

Rather than give my jaded answers, I will say this.  The right church is not always the biggest nor the most popular church.  There is a value in every church that tries to do it by the book regardless of the size.  Isn't it curious when churches of various sizes and demographics replicate the models and practices of the "big boys" and attempt to be something they were never  meant to be?

Here's a really controversial question.  Why not be who you are with your own unique style?  If a church does not have all the bells and whistles, does that make it a bad church?  If a church has TV, lighting trusses and skinny jeans is it a good church?  If the church has an older demographic and the music is square (my daughter's word), does that make it a bad church?  Well here is my answer to these questions.  Who knows ??!!  Let me ask a better question.  Is the church Biblical, relevant and having an impact on its target demographic?  Is bad stuff stopping (sin) and good stuff increasing (righteousness)?  These are the only questions to ask that have any depth and weight.  Therefore, when looking for the "right" church, ask these two simple questions and then make a decision.  Sadly, I am of the opinion that the answer to these questions is painful for most Christian fellowships. Painful - because an honest look may reveal that "my church doesn't look like that, but I love going there".

Anyway, what do I know.  Just go where you have fun if you are searching or if you are already going to a church, fight for the right to copy the biggest fish in your city.  Or…maybe not???

Friday, December 14, 2012

A Real Thanksgiving 2012

On November 17th, we had the Community Thanksgiving Meal at Rock of Ages Lutheran Church in Stone Mountain, GA.  I had contacted a few of my player friends earlier in the week to help me with the music for the night.  We arrived early to set up and do a sound check.  We were expecting another holiday church gig that we have done so many times before and were happy to provide music for this event.

What we experienced was far more than we expected.  After getting all the logistics and last minute instructions, the guests began to arrive.  We, and the other volunteers from surrounding churches were met with smiles and hand shakes from more than a dozen homeless men and women that were grateful for the "party" we were throwing in their honor.  We ate together, laughed together, heard some real "whopper" stories and worshipped together.  

Organizing and Hosting Pastors
A local pastor friend of mine served as the MC and got the ball rolling.  Each of the other pastors had a chance to give quick remarks that centered on the theme of love and concern from the heart of God towards those in our number that had fallen on hard times and as a result were homeless.  The message of love was not only for the homeless but extended to the needs of the larger community.  The ladies and gentleman from the attending churches took turns in serving our guests an amazing dinner and making sure that they were welcomed and appreciated.  The smiles and warm words were cathartic and sincere as fellow Christians rolled up their sleeves and met the needs of those that were hurting and without.

One of the songs that we sang together captured the spirit of that night. "...Lean on me when you're not strong and I'll be your friend.  I'll help you carry on, for it won't be long...'til I'm gonna need somebody to lean on..."  By time the event was over, the guys in my band were thanking me for a powerful night of ministry.  Their level of gratitude for the church... being the church was heightened.  

What better way to celebrate Thanksgiving than by serving others.  I am grateful to all those that attended, served, organized and participated in the 2012 Community Thanksgiving Meal.  I am especially grateful for being asked to participate in an event that could be the start of a movement to bless Stone Mountain authored by God and his church.  I was proud and honored to be a believer that night and a Redeemed Artist.

Allan Wiltshire, II
The Mission Minded Artist.

Monday, November 7, 2011

15 Minutes and Counting

How much money would it take for us to rethink our Christian values?

The recent news on the cyber lips of the world has been about an extravagant wedding and subsequent divorce after 72 days of marriage.

According to entertainment writers, the families have grossed more than $10 million dollars from granting publicized access to the dating, the wedding, the clothing and now the break up. There is money to be made by putting oneself out there. It’s no wonder we crave the “15 minutes of fame”. The question that one must ask is: what are you willing to pay for your shot at “15 minutes of fame?

For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
Matthew 16:25-27

This not-so-happy couple is famous and well paid. Who knows, they may have the emotional and relational scars to prove it. The only way to imagine two people coming out of such a public pressure cooker unscathed is to entertain the possibility that the relationship was nothing more than a story line for a reality TV show.

Some time ago a gentleman asked me if I would hold to my Christian convictions if the lives of my daughters were threatened. Thankfully, it was a rhetorical question. After reading about this high profile marital flop, I would ask a question. How much money and or professional success would it take for us to rethink our Christian values? Of course the easy answer that some might give is, “NO AMOUNT OF MONEY!” I wonder what we would find if we were to shadow each other on gigs and appointments for the next month. Would our black and white lines of ethics and professionalism be grayed by the hint of commercial success? NO AMOUNT OF MONEY, really?

Is there a tension between offering your gifts to God and being commercially viable in the market? If your lines are gray then the answer is, yes! It’s tough to be in the industry and equally tough to be in arts ministry if it is your vocation. No one wants to starve and Jesus never said that following him was synonymous with a vow of poverty. However, all of life for the believer and dare I say the “Redeemed Artist” is an offering to God and as a result - a walk of faith. We move forward

There are issues to be considered for the “Redeemed Artist”. Commercial viability vs. offering is only one from a long list. It is important to have a way to work through issues because they will present themselves. When thought through and prayed through, issues present themselves as values. When not thought through and prayed through, the issues present themselves as barriers to effectiveness. The most significant issue in my opinion is that of personal affirmation.

As an Artist, applause is important. Knowing that others appreciate my work is affirming and an important part of the creative process. There is a cycle to creating and appreciating. The artist puts his work on display, it is perceived and appreciated by the audience and the artist is encouraged, affirmed and inspired to create more. As normal and uneventful as this cycle may appear to the naked eye, there is a twist to it for the Redeemed Artist. First, the Redeemed Artist creates for an audience of “One”. Herein is the sacred, creative ambition: to please the audience of “One”. Unlike normal audiences, I believe that God is tone deaf and color blind. These inferences of perceptibility are anthropomorphic at best and simply help us understand a being that is incomprehensible. Therefore, the specific medium of art is overlooked, in my opinion, by the supreme audience. However, what God does hear, feel, perceive and observe (if you will) is the source of the art, namely the human heart. What’s inside absolutely comes out. The genesis of art is the human heart. It is in this spiritual domain that the great audience of ‘One” communicates acceptance to the artist and where deep affirmation is known by the artist. As one writer says is, “…The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God…” Romans 8:16. The cycle is now complete and the artist is inspired to create again.

Such a level of connection may lead the reader to believe it is almost too good to be true. For some, it could even be a “utopic” imagination. But when it happens, it really happens. All attempts at depiction are silenced by the voice of reality. The experience of knowing God and being known are indescribable yet tangible. So let me ask my question again. How much money would it take for us to rethink our Christian values? To put it another way, how many zeros would it take for you to step away from engaging in the real artistic cycle of creation and appreciation as previously described? From where we sit right now, the 15 minutes of “foolishness” is lame.

Copyright © 2011 The Mission Minded Artist

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Art In The Parking Lot

Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but art is everywhere if you have the ability to see it. I stood outside of our local grocery store yesterday while waiting for my wife to come out with our regular allotment of bounty. There was nothing to do but play with my Iphone. So I started to gaze out across the parking lot. Nothing prepared me for what I saw. No, this was not a people watching session, as I so often enjoy. Instead I noticed the grass, the trees, the pine straw in all there commercially landscaped glory. Today was different, because I saw that the trees were not all the same but three different kinds of trees. There was grass but it was grass that complimented without taking over. Someone had taken the time to match textures, shapes and colors in a way that was warm, inviting and pleasing to the eye and the heart. About 15 minutes passed with me pondering the profundity of pines, placement and pansies.

Everything fit together, yet individual beauty was not diminished. Nothing moved, no sound was uttered, no neon lights it just was. My mind wanted to give voice to the big box retail motivation of “come, spend your money… ain’t we awesome”. But my heart silenced the cynicism with a calming awareness of a planner and desire to draw out the “unspoilable” – art. Where did this guy or gal learn how to do this? Better yet, from where was the technique copied?

The heavens declare the glory of God, and nature gives evidence of God…these are personal truths to me. More significant was the impression received during minutes 16-18. “Hey son, glad you like my stuff. I’ve got acres of it, but I only made one of you. Go inside where it’s cooler…A/C is nice too. Talk to you later”!

Friday, May 6, 2011


So much of the daily buzz has been terse and to the point. Osama is dead. What is really being communicated in that statement? Many things. We now have closure after ten years of loss, a sense of safety is returning to America, revenge is sweet, the subject and object of national anger is now satiated? At some level, each of these statements has validity based on the vantage point of the speaker. From my vantage point, when I heard the news about the successful military operation, my immediate disbelief gave way to an unusual sense of “no-way”.

The more time that has passed, the more my thoughts and feelings have been sifted to to give new eyes for the events of Monday May 1, 2011. Yes, Osama bin Laden is dead and I am sad.

There is sadness at the loss of human life. Regardless the reason, the fact remains that a man is dead. He was a son, a brother and a husband and now there is familial grief and loss for many.

There is sadness at the impact of delusion-ally myopic ideology. The tunnel vision of Osama bin Laden’s extremest values narrowed the path of tolerance to the point of no return. At the proverbial end of the tunnel, was the conclusion that living from one’s belief system meant the slaughter of innocent people and the terrorizing of a nation. That is so wacked!

There is sadness at the presence of evil in the world. The delusion of perfection has long been smashed in my experience. However, the death of Osama brought back to memory the events of 911 and the pressing reality of a present and pervasive evil in the world.

There is sadness to realize we had no alternative. When does diplomacy fail? It fails the moment we realize that we sit at the table of ethics across from a sociopath. Diplomacy fails before we make the choice to remove our tie and cuff links, pick up a bat and beat the brother senseless. Diplomacy fails at the moment we shockingly discover - “There is no other way.”

Osama is dead. But I will not allow my myself the luxury of public exuberance for it is not sober nor appropriate to throw a party after an execution. I honor the memory of the heroes and victims of 911. My heart feels pride and safety because of our military. Mostly, I can’t find my left cuff link.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Easter – No Hare!

Goodfellas, starring Robert De Niro, is one of my favorite “veg” out movies. Aside from the violence, there are some great scenes that pop out at me each time I watch it. In one scene Jimmy, played by De Niro, is trying to collect money that is owed to him by Morrie the wig guy. In true “wise guy” fashion he makes the collection appointment and roughs Morrie up by beating him over the head with a telephone until the commitment for payment is offered up. Would it have been easier to use online bill pay?

In the process of extracting the “yes, I’ll give you your money”, Morrie’s wig goes flying off to reveal his bald head and adhesive wig strips! Morrie did not only sell wigs, he was also a customer.

Years ago, I wrote a children’s Easter musical, NO HARE! The dialogue and original songs told the story of an apprentice angel and mentor angel that were observing the human race during the Easter season. The younger angel was full of questions about the amount of attention that the rabbit was given during the holy holiday. The older mentor angel was full of sage advice and perspective on the human condition. In short, he explained how lost God’s children were.

What does our earthly celebration look like from a celestial perspective? Is it as silly as a wig stuck to a bald head with tape? There’s no hare in the Easter story. Yet, we try to make it fit year after year and we overdose on candy to make matters worse. Does the biblical account of Easter have no relevance in our modern society? Or maybe the realization of needing to be rescued is so painful that I would rather have a Baby Ruth?

The dialogue ended with the younger angel conceding that God saw in His people what no one is capable of seeing. Therefore, God’s plans are centered on humanity. That was enough to finish the Angel 101 training.

Just before the close of the curtain, Jesus took center stage and sang an 80’s ballad that ended the production.

“It is finished, my task is over. It is finished; it’s time to go home. It is finished; no one will ever walk this road again. It is finished once and for all.”

Maybe we should start throwing “It is finished” parties. All kinds of candy would be welcome. We could shave our heads and exchange wigs. No rabbits allowed.