My Recommended Reading List

I was recently asked to put out a recommended reading list for warrior-artists.  I thought this list was online, but I was wrong.  Here is my short list.  Books in bold are essential.  Sorry that time did not allow me to hot link all the books to Amazon.

My top two recommended books are The War of Art by Stephen Pressfield and The Career Guide for Creative and Unconventional People By Carol Eikleberry (I prefer the older editions to the current one).   If you read nothing else, read these two books.  They will revolutionize your life.

Finding Divine Inspiration J. Scott Mc Elroy,

The Creative Call: An Artists Response to the Way of the Spirit,  Janice Elsheimer

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell.  This book is invaluable for those who are struggling to figure out why they are not successful.  

David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell.

The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell.

Restoring the Christian Soul through Healing Prayer and The Healing Presence by Leanne Payne.  Both of these books are essential to understanding the symbol and the Christian symbolic worldview.

Healing for Damaged Emotions by David Seamands.

New Seeds of Contemplation by Thomas Merton.

Bezalel: Redeeming a Renegade Creation.  Yes, I know this is my book.  This is the only book ever written in English on Bezalel.  It is also the only thorough Biblical study of Bezalel ever written.  This is essential material for all Christian artists.  No one else did it, so I spent three years doing it myself.

Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us by Seth Godin.

The Dip by Seth Godin.

How to Read a Book By Mortimer Adler.

Ideas have Consequences by Richard Weaver.

If you are a visual artist I highly recommend all the Andrew Loomis drawing books, but especially Fun with a Pencil and Figure Drawing for All Its Worth.

Then there are a few books that I think you need to read because great literature and art inspires artists:

Til We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis.

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle.

A Fire in the Earth by David Whyte.

The House of Belonging by David Whyte.

The Book of Virtues by William Bennett.

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkein.

The Liturgy Sourcebook from Liturgy Training Publications.

You need to be well read, so go find some Shakespeare, Tennyson, T.S. Eliot, Shirley Jackson, Flannery O’Connor, and Annie Dillard.



The Rock in the Road

Last summer I spent an afternoon listening to a woman who wants to start a major initiative in the U.K. She has lots of professional experience and has had success integrating the arts into child and family therapy. She has done all her homework, and she is beginning to successfully share her vision with others. And then she told me about the rock in the road.

“I can’t get to the next step unless I have 2000 pounds.”

Suddenly, this vision that seemed very real deflated because of this insurmountable hurdle. Mind you, this person had experience managing a million dollar budget. Often times people miss God’s voice because they become fixated on the rock in the road that this keeping them from their destiny. For some it’s a job (“If I only had a job I could do thus and such”). For others it’s a person (“If I didn’t have this rotten boss I could do thus and such”). And of course, no one can do anything because they haven’t got the money.

The best part about the rock in the road is how it keeps us from any responsibility. We don’t have to move forward and act in faith because the rock is in the way. And we do not have to listen to God, because He is going to tell us something contrary to our received knowledge about how things are. Knowledge can be a kind of false faith. It’s really a form of pride that says “I know better than God.”

So I challenged my friend about her need for 2000 pounds. I told her she already had the wealth–she had the idea, the story about her idea, and the intended outcome. And when you have wealth, the money follows. You see, people have money because they are wealthy, not the other way round. When you come to a rock in the road, all you need to do is step to the side and walk past it. You don’t need to keep banging up against it.

There are several ways to walk past the rock.

You can do the last thing God told you to do.
You can do what you can with what you have (My weekly emails and this blog began with a gmail account at the public library).
You can tell one person about your idea.

So my friend and I had a great conversation. We prayed. At the end of it a young woman came over to our table.

“Excuse me,” she said, “I have been listening to what you are birthing and I want help make it happen. I am artist, here is my card, please call me so I can contribute to your vision.” Then off she went.

My friend was as they say here, was “gobsmacked.”

Nothing is impossible with God. Really. But impossible things only happen when we take manageable steps of faith. Big miracles come from little tiny ones.

Do you feel like a lump?

Recently the Lord began showing me how he was taking various ministries “back to zero.”  It has been a very painful time of shifts in relationships, changes in plans, and the ending of ongoing activities.   For some it has involved the death of a dream or vision.

In the midst of it all, God has been at work.  We are in an amazing time of change.  Every time something gets removed from my life, I come back to the Lord and say “Thank you for making an open space in my life that you are going to fill.”

One afternoon I was praying and as my mind wandered, the Lord showed me a large grey stone.  I asked the Lord what it was and the Lord showed me it was a lump of ore.

“This is my church” the Lord said.

Inside a lump of ore there are all kinds of precious materials.  Some ore contains gold.  Sometimes it may contain iron, or copper, or zinc.  It may contain precious minerals.  All this is locked inside that grey rock.

As I continued to pray, the Lord began showing me how he was heating up this stone.  The process of smelting first involves crushing.  Then it involves heat to release the various elements in the stone.  After this various chemical reactions are applied to separate and isolate the various components.  Some of these chemical reactions involve catalysts that irritate the various components to cause change.  Then more heat is applied.  Often the components are then bound to an aluminum alloy where they can be analyzed and easily separated again into the elemental parts–with more heat and pressure.

I am grateful to my brother Myles Milham who explained this process to me in detail.

After all the heat, pressure, crushing, and chemical treatment, finally the various parts are refined into useful materials.  Then the gold, silver, copper, zinc, and iron can be used for truly useful purposes.

God began to show me that many have been committed to a vision of the Body of Christ that is like that lump of ore.  We want the church to walk around in a primitive state that is useless.  This church is much like that ore.  It is a big rock that might be good for a paper weight or to throw at someone, but not much else.   Through  the smelter  the rock is separated into various parts, and they are useful.   What God wants to create is something akin to a smart phone.  All the parts–the chip, the processor, the case, and the screen were all once locked in the ore.  But once they are separated out, they can then be used in tandem to achieve something far greater than the sum of the parts.


If you feel under pressure, isolated, irritated, or beaten up it’s time to begin to give thanks.  God is doing this to achieve something wonderful in your life.