imagesThis year, I’m participating in the One Word 365 community.

My word, fittingly enough is create.

The events of this week have me thinking about create in a new way.  The bombing in Boston, the trial of Kermit Gosnell.  On and on it goes, the sheer destruction that people are capable of.

We really do have a choice to make.  We can choose to create…

…or we can choose to destroy. Continue Reading…

Letting Go of Grace

April 15, 2013

homeless_man_on_streetLet’s imagine that you give me a hundred dollars…

…not that I’m asking for a hundred dollars.

You just approach me on the street at random and plunk a hundred bucks in my hand.

“You see that guy over there?” you ask me.  You point to grimy, tattered looking homeless man slouched over on the sidewalk.

“I want you to give this hundred dollars to that guy,” you tell me.

“Whatever. It’s your money,” I say.  I walk over and toss the money at the bum, careful not to get too close.  It feels like a waste.  I know what the homeless guy is going to do with the money.

I’ve been realizing something lately.  That grace is a lot like that wasted hundred dollars.  Here’s why…

Continue Reading…

Life After Art Sharable7Hey early birds, today is the last day!

Today is the final day of the Life After Art early bird special.  The special includes three free resources from me and Moody Publishers.  First is the deluxe edition ebook, with bonus content: more thoughts from me on pursuing beauty and creativity in life.  Second is the Life After Art Field Guide, a study guide of sorts for you to download and use with the book to really help you squeeze every ounce of inspiration out of the book.  And finally is The Art of Storytelling, from Moody Publishers.

Life After Art is just ten bucks on Amazon, and that gets you four great resources.  Just email your receipt to to claim you freebies.  After today, none of those items will be available for download.

It’s been another great week with lots of generous people hosting me on their blogs or talking about the book.

Justin Davis and Micha Boyett let me share their platforms.  Steven Brewster hosted a Q and A with me.

If you want to see a real live me talking about the book, Brad Blackman and JR Forasteros have videos of those conversations.  Donald McAllister and I did an audio podcast.  I had a really great time talking to all three of those guys.  Brad gets a medal for thus far being the only reader to mention the subtle Napoleon Dynamite reference in the book.

Jennifer Dukes Lee actually had a real live art party and read excerpts from the book to those who attended.  Awesome!

Sue Cramer featured the book prominently in the Spring issue of Praise and Coffee.

And several more people posted reviews of the book, including Zack Hunt, Michelle DeRusha, Tim Gallen, Tony Cradic, Tiffany Stuart and Sarah Elizabeth.

Some of the best news has been the little Facebook and Twitter messages from readers telling me just what the book is doing for them.  I would totally love to hear from you, how Life After Art has inspired you!

Dear kids,

I know you can’t read this yet.  You’re not old enough.  In fact, you don’t exist yet.  The only place you have been conceived is in our minds and in God’s mind.  And really, God knows way more about you than we do.

So it’s going to be a while before you get this.

But I just want you to know that your mother and I are thinking about you.  We’ve been thinking about you for quite a while now.  We’ve been praying for you.  We don’t know when you’re going to show up.  It could be very soon.  It could be a long time from now.  It’s all in God’s good time.

We know that you’re going to be younger than most of our friends’ children.  We didn’t plan for that to happen.  We had planned on you showing up by now.  But don’t worry about that.  It’s gonna be fun when you get here.

Listen up, kiddos.  This is what I want to say to you, right now.

Continue Reading…

imagesLast week, my friend Emily Wierenga wrote a story for Prodigal Magazine.

It was a personal story about herself and her husband.  It was a story about what she felt God had shown her.  It was about the complicated, messy business of marriage and repentance.

I don’t want to talk about the content of Emily’s story.  I want to talk about the reaction it caused.

The reaction was huge.  It was swift.  And much of it was downright visceral with hundreds of comments from people who suddenly cared very passionately about Emily’s relationship with her husband.  It became an emotionally taxing day for Emily herself and my friends who run Prodigal.

Another friend, Bryan Allain, has poured a ton of effort into launching the Killer Tribes conference the last two years in March.  Obviously, the word “Killer” is meant in a completely fun, non-murdery context.

But I wonder if we as modern, educated, worldly, connected Christians – as bloggers, as culture-makers - really are becoming more tribal, more primitive, more warlike and more eager to kill people in other tribes, instead of more welcoming, more understanding, more inclusive.

Continue Reading…

I’ve been all over the place this week.

If you read any blogs at all besides mine, you probably ran into me one or two places.

A ton of people posted amazing reviews for Life After Art.  I am so thankful to them for their generosity with their platforms and their kind words. A few of my favorite excerpts:

“As someone who always wants to create, but doesn’t feel ‘good enough’; as someone who has been stuck in the mire of depression, and still struggles sometimes; as someone who strives to be childlike, but wrestles with the grownup world – this book was like a great, warm blanket wrapped around me.”

- Lauren Dubinsky

“All in all, Life After Art nicely fills a void evident in mainstream Christian publications. With a glut of existing texts written to be encouraging, give five paths to, or superficially illustrate how we can do things with God, it’s refreshing to find an author like Appling willing to exemplify how we have the freedom to simply be with God.”

- Sonny Lemmons

“Can I be honest? I wasn’t expecting much. Which makes me sound like a terrible person, I know. And it’s NO  reflection on Matt as a writer. It’s just that when you deal in words for a living you get a bit tired of words. And are harder to impress.  Needless to say, books (and blogs for that matter) have a very hard time holding my attention these days. So I was surprised by how engaged I was with Matt’s book before I even got out of the introduction.”

- Jessica Bowman

Life After Art is not as much about art and creativity as one might suspect judging by the book cover. This book is more so about how to learn the art of making life beautiful, though it is not an instruction manual. Believe you me, you are going to find yourself immensely challenged and asking yourself a lot of questions about how you can live a more beautiful life after you’ve closed the cover . . . but you’re going to be insanely happy about it.”

- Sarah Elizabeth

There were a ton of other people who generously shared their thoughts on Life After Art: Blake Atwood at Faith Village, Addie Zierman, Michael Perkins, Stephanie May, Paul Angone, Jeremy Statton, Clark Roush, John Smith, Glynn YoungCaris Adel, Jessica Bowman, Eileen Knowles, Stephanie Spencer, JR Forasteros, Create with Joy and Wes Molebash.

Right now, the book has racked up over thirty reviews on Amazon with a 4.8 star rating (and no bribery involved.)

Another bunch of people kindly hosted me for guest posts on their blogs, including Sarah Bessey, Jeff Goins, Sammy Adebiyi, Tyler Braun, Prodigal Magazine, Ed Cyzewski, Joe Lalonde and Andi Cumbo.

I am so grateful for the conversation the book has started, and I hope you will join with me, not on a journey to becoming better “artists,” but to become more human.  You can still pick up Life After Art for just ten bucks and get three free resources when you email your receipt to