I have a theory. I’m at the age where I’ve actually gained some real experiential wisdom, but I’m still relatively young enough to act on it. So I try to consider this stage of my life carefully, not wanting to waste it, but instead use my time fruitfully—in ministry, in my art, with my family, and in my life.
Now that doesn’t always work out that way. (Seriously, I think I might have the weirdest job in the world.) But I do endeavor to place the sillyness of art and ministry in the context of living a life worth living. And I think there’s a little wisdom in that.
Here’s my annual “By The Numbers” blog, where I take a look at highlights of this last year. There have been unique opportunities and new relationships and difficult challenges this year, and I find myself once again grateful and humbled by God’s faithfulness. Here’s a summary of 2012, By The Numbers…
Number of Blog Entries: 37. Creativity and mystery. Artist profiles and short stories. Mission trip reports and reflections on the arts. According to my WordPress host, Adventures in Faith and Art had over 25,000 hits this year. (Relatively speaking, a modest number.) But as the size of my blog audience continues to slowly grow, I am grateful to all of you for the privilege of allowing me to dialogue with you.
Number of Mission Trips: 1. More than just a missions trip, I had an awesome time traveling for three weeks in February to Legazpi City, Philippines, to teach at the Bicol Center for Christian Leadership, sponsored by the North American Baptist Conference. I taught a credited class on worship to their Bible students, as well as conducted workshops, preached, and met many great people who love the Lord. You can read all about it here. I also got in contact with my roots (I’d never been to the Philippines before), and I ate a whole lot of Filipino food. Yum. I hope to go back again.
Number of Gigs: 48. A relatively slow year for me, with highlights that include a few non-profits fundraisers (including The Twin Lakes Food Bank and The Playmakers), some fun concerts, a few corporate events, and a whole lot of piano bar.
Number of Speaking Engagements: 8. Highlights include the Creative Church Conference (speaking and performing) in Boise, locally at our own Intersections Conference, speaking to students at William Jessup University and other locales, and several opportunities while in the Philippines.
Number of New Albums: 1. Featuring the Manuel Luz Trio (ML3), our new album Unraveled was pre-released in December 2012, and will be rolled out in 2013 with a CD Release Concert on January 26. Look for info soon! We’re also looking for opportunities to perform, so let us know if you have a venue you’d like ML3 to play at. [Note: See ordering information as well as exclusive liner notes here on this web page.] Speaking of which…
Number of Books Written: 2. I wrote the bulk of two new manuscripts in 2012, both with different spins on faith and the arts, but at this point, no publishers are interested in them. I’ve tried not to be discouraged by that, knowing the fact that I had Imagine That published at all was a long shot to begin with. I may consider self-publishing; please let me know what you think!
Number of Worship Services: 113. That sounds like a lot of worship services, and maybe it is. I did a rough estimate of the number of services I’ve probably led in the past 22 years of full-time ministry and I came up with over 4,000. That’s a lot of time leading God’s people in worship. Which is to say, I have the best job in the world.
Number of Sabbaticals: 1. One of the reasons my numbers appear “down” from last year is that I was privileged to receive a four-week sabbatical from Oak Hills Church last July. (I am extremely grateful to my church family for such an extravagant gift.) It was a relatively short but significant time for me to connect deeply with my family and recharge my batteries. One would consider 22 years of continuous full-time ministry a long time, and I think it is. But life is a marathon, not a sprint. And I do believe that the best is yet to come.
2013 and Beyond: I’m hoping to kick off the next year with the new CD, pursue publishing one of my titles, and there’s a music tour being planned for southeast Asia next fall. We’re also very excited to be marrying off our son, Justin, to a beautiful young lady from a beautiful family. God continues to surprise us!
[Photos: From top to bottom. (1) A hilarious caricature of me leading worship, drawn by my son, Justin. He does his best work on the backs of church bulletins; (2) Leading an all-day worship workshop during my trip to the Philippines; (3) Playing at the grand opening of a spa in Rocklin. Thank you, thank you very much.; (4) Speaking at the Boise Creative Church Conference. Artist Dean Estes is working behind me as I speak. (5) The new album cover, Unraveled, designed by Keith Elliott; (6) Leading worship at Oak Hills during the Advent season. Sweet.]