Posts Tagged ‘Bible’

Sometimes a project doesn’t end up the way you planned it. A while ago I had an idea. I was going to create a bunch of three by five cards to distribute around the community, linked to a web page that would tell people more about Jesus. I even was in the process of creating a price for the winner. Unfortunately some things in my ministry changed and I was never able to quite pull it off. The resulting video sat in limbo for quite some time. Recently I rediscovered it and thought, that might be useful to a kids ministry somewhere, so I “dusted it off” revamped a few things and published it.

It’s based on the parable of the lost sheep. I think I am going to end up redoing this piece, and the associated outreach, for my current church, but in the mean time, I thought I would at least share clip in case someone can use it. Sometimes things fall through and have to be discarded. Most of the time, though I think our timing is off, and we just need to wait for the right time. Store your ideas, even the ones that appear to be failing. Sometimes they can be resurrected later. After all, our Lord is in the resurrection business.

Let me start here. I love the Bible. I have read it through like a novel (cover to cover) several times and have also done a few Bible reading plans. This should come as no surprise to people who know me because I am a minister. That being said, I also know that for many people, reading the Bible is a daunting task. Let’s start with the obvious. It’s a huge book. It’s a collection of books written over a long period of time, the books are not chronological and there are a few points where novice readers get stuck, such as Leviticus, the instructions on the Tabernacle. etc. This often causes them to give up.

Enter The Story. The folks who compiled it did a masterful job of making this sort of Scripture collage urning the Bible into one unified story. Composed of actual verses from the NIV Bible with the occasional narration (Set in a different font to avoid confusion) to move the story along, this book would give a novice reader a really nice handle on “the greatest story ever told” and as such I highly recommend it. There are also study questions for each chapter to take the reader even deeper.

Now just to be clear this is not a Bible not should it replace reading the actual Bible, but if you’ve ever been stuck trying to read through the Scriptures or if you’re confused about how and when things happened, this book is for you. Also if you have someone in your life who is curious about Christ, faith and the Bible, this would be a nice way to introduce them to the Lord. I thoroughly reading this in my devotions for the last month or so. I highly recommend this.

I have a confession to make. I love the Bible. I know, not much of a confession, and give the fact of what I do for a living, you’re probably not that surprised. I read nearly every day and rarely miss my time with the Word (usually on travel days, when I have to leave early and drive long). That being said, there was a time not too many years ago when my time in the Word was stagnate and my love for the Word was flagging. By the way, I was a pastor then too. This is what I want to help you with today.

You see, the issue was I was bivocational. This means I was pastoring a church while also working a full time job. The result of this busyness was I was still in the Word, but almost exclusively for the purpose of preparing to preach. This is, in my opinion, not good. What was happening was all my reading was for others. “What was I going to teach THEM about God’s Word?” It’s certainly not a bad thing to preach and teach, but what about ME? I needed to be in the Word of God for my own growth, and development, not to mention my relationship with God.

Something had to give. It was nearing the end of the year, and so I downloaded a one year Bible reading plan. I’d done that before but it had been years. It was the time of refreshment I needed. I still do it most years (sometimes I will do long studies of various aspects of Scripture instead), and I highly recommend it, especially if your time in the Word is in a slump. I am doing it this year and over the last few days I had a sort of realization. I read the Bible in two different ways and I want to give this as encouragement as well.

In my morning devotions, I follow the one year plan pretty closely, but I also read for distance. What this means is really simple. I read to cover “ground.” I read large chunks at a time, sometimes whole books. One might argue that I am missing things doing it that way. This may be true, but when I read for distance, the purpose is to get the big picture. I want to follow the arc of the story. Reading large “chunks” helps me get the whole story.

Then on other times I will read for details. In these times, I read small passages and meditate on them. This is sort of like study, but it is more devotional, because remember I am not reading to preach here. I am reading for me and the purpose is for me to connect with God and to see the small things that I might overlook when I am reading for the big picture.

Which of these is the best way to read? Yes! They both are, it depends what I need at the moment, and often one will lead to the other. I will see something in reading for distance that stops me in my tracks. Other times I will see a detail that needs context, so I start reading “big picture.” The most important thing in all of this is that you connect with God and His Word daily. You see there is a danger, especially for creatives, that we will start to rely on our talents, rather than our relationship with God. This will make for weak, misguided, ministry. To quote a viral video…

“Ain’t nobody got time for that!” Spend time in the Word every day.

What do you do when you’re out of ideas and you need to create. One of my favorite things is to hit the Scriptures. Case in point, this week I was having difficulty coming up with the content for next week’s Creacher cartoons. Where oh where could I find short pithy sayings for cartoon “gags.” Well considering I want them to be humorous but with a solid point, why not the book that holds some of the great wisdom of all time, the book of Proverbs? I am reading through them as part of my devotions right now and before long I had a week’s worth of cartoons written and ready to go.

The Word of God is a great source for Christian creative projects of all kinds. The trick though is knowing what’s in there and where you can find it. Of course there are tons of sources for finding what you’re looking for in the Bible, but there is one thing that will trump them all…

Picking it up and reading it.

So Hit the Word. You’ll be glad you did.

Not long ago, I overheard a person talking about their church. I have to admit I was taken aback. As this person spoke, they related how no one preaches at the church and there are times where they just sit in silence for a whole service. “No one tells us what to do or what to believe.” They seemed to think this was Panacea, almost paradise. The faith is a fairly old tradition, but I have to tell you the truth… I don’t get it.

See I know my own tendency to go my own way. “There’s a way that seems right to a man but in the end it leads to death.” That’s what Scripture says, and I’m pretty sure I have demonstrated it in my own life. Left to my own devices, even after all these years as a Christian, it’s still pretty easy for me to talk myself into doing what I want to do and putting God’s seal of approval on it. Thankfully I have a few things that help me to stay on the right path.

First I have God’s Word. I have the Bible, I can look at it, read it, study it and take it to heart. I read the Word and the Holy Spirit convicts me to stay on the right path.

Next I have the church. When I come together with other believers around the Word of God, I receive the blessing of conviction and accountability. If I am honest enough to be open about what I am thinking, someone will take me to task and take me back to the Word of God and show me the error of my ways.

Finally I have a pastor. He comes and preaches the Word of God to me. He studies the Word. He prays and He brings messages that are often exactly what I need to hear. Not always what I want to hear, but what I need to hear. He declares the Word of God. He does tell me what to believe and sometimes even what to do, based not on his whim but on what the Word of God says. His messages sometimes step on my toes. That is a blessing, called conviction that God gives us to turn us around before we make things much worse. No one telling us what to do or what to believe may sound like a wonderful thing… but it isn’t. In the grand scheme of things, if the Scriptures are true, and by the way, THEY ARE, then someone who doesn’t tell you what to do or what to believe is showing you they don’t care about you at all.

I think it is far better for someone to go to the Word, seek the Lord and preach it, speaking the truth in love and saying…

Thus sayeth the Lord…

From there the choice is mine, but at least I’ve heard the truth. What I do with that is up to me.

One of the most important things any creative need to know is where the boundaries are. In some cases smashing the boundaries is okay, but in many cases it is not and in the case of Christian creatives, there are areas that must remain unchanged.

If I had to define the ultimate responsibility of every Christian creative (and this can be done in a multitude of ways) it would be:

To take the UNCHANGING message of the Gospel to an EVER-CHANGING world.

I believe this is our ultimate calling but occasionally I hear stories that make me think we are getting it backwards.

This past week, a former prominent Christian leader, at one point one of the most creative/innovative in our world, went on national TV and claimed the Bible to be irrelevant. I was heartbroken. The wrong boundary had been crossed and my fear is it will lead many astray, God forbid (and yes sometimes He does still forbid.)

The parameters are simple. The world constantly changes. The Scripture does not. Does that make it irrelevant. NO! It makes it stable. It makes is solid. It makes it dependable. It’s the Word of God. He’s a God who does not change with the whims of culture. In this shifting sand world, God is rock solid, which is exactly what we need Him to be.

To be honest, the Word of God has been counter culture since Genesis 3 and that trend will continue until all of Revelation 22 has been fulfilled. It’s the story of humanity from beginning to end (and then a glorious new beginning), written by the one who knows what is going to happen from beginning to end. It’s a gift from God to show us how to navigate this life. It generously points out the disasters that happen when we turn our backs on God and ultimately points us to the One who can get us back home, Jesus Christ. This means it is perpetually relevant.

The fact that it runs against the grain of culture is not surprising, culture is fallen. The Old Testament shows us the level of brokenness and finds it’s fulfillment in the New Testament and in Christ. Scripture is given for the purpose (among others) is changing the world and herein lies the key. We are not supposed to change Scripture, Scripture is supposed to CHANGE US! To find Scripture irrelevant is to choose to turn your back on it in favor of the broken system we all live in.

The danger of Christian creativity is to get creative with the wrong things. The things that are not sacred are changeable. They should be changed and this is where out creativity can thrive and flourish. But the Word of God is as unchangeable as the one who wrote it. Our broken nature will try to tell us otherwise. We need to fight that impulse and creatively proclaim the truth that sets men free.

Anything less keeps us in bondage.

In these trying times, there is something crucial to remember.
When you turn on the news and wonder where the good is, there is something crucial to remember.
When the world seems dark and cold, there is something crucial to remember.
When you feel lost and all alone, there is something crucial to remember.
When your hope is gone, there is something crucial to remember.
When you wonder why, there is something crucial to remember.
There is something crucial to remember.
Crucial to remember…

Literally. You see the word “crucial” is defined as involving an extremely important decision or result. It is derived from the Latin word crux which means cross and therein lies the “crux” of the matter. When all those negative things and many more come up in your life it is crucial to remember the cross and, of course, what Jesus did there. He said “In this world you will have trouble, but take heart, I have overcome the world.” That’s what He did on the cross, overcame it all and that is crucial to remember. But there is something more and it may be even more crucial.

He is risen! The cross and the tomb are empty. Jesus is alive and at work in our world and in our lives. That is something we can celebrate no matter the circumstance. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose.”

Happy Easter!

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My devotions took me to 2 Corinthians 5. It’s a favorite chapter of mine. When we planted our church years ago we named it New Creation Fellowship after 2 Corinthians 5:17. This morning for some reason, though a whole bunch of things hit me all at once and I decided to share them with you. You see part of our goal here is to help believers tell a better story and to share the ultimate story, the story of Jesus and how that story resounds in our lives. Paul hits so many wonderful points in this passage that it bears repeating. So get out your Bibles and turn to 2 Corinthians 5.

Verses 1-6 Paul comes right out of the gate talking about our hope in heaven. How, through Christ, we can know that when this body has breathed it’s last, we will still live and eventually we will receive a new, incorruptible heavenly body. He’s not saying we desire to die to receive this, no death wishes here, but merely a blessed hope that something better lies beyond, when this life is through. He then reminds us that God has given us proof that this WILL happen when He gave us His Holy Spirit. Because of this we can be confident in our eternal destiny.

Verse 7 is huge. We live by faith not by sight. Seven words that mean so much. There is more to this world than we can see, so when we struggle and hurt and things look hopeless we can look to the evidences we have received in verses 1-6 and remain hopeful.

Verses 8-10 remind us that heaven will be better than what we have in this life, but that this life has purpose and a bearing on our eternal life. Because we have received this great gift, while we live, we live to please God because one day we will all stand before the Lord and our lives will be judged. There is a reward at the end of this life for the believer so those of us who believe should make every effort to live a life worthy of the gift we have received.

Verses 11-15. Because we live by faith, and we trust and fear God, and because we know the blessed hope we will receive, we try to persuade people. We tell the story and we live the story to bring Him glory. This is what God commanded and Christ’s love compels us. After all if Christ is the way to an eternity in heaven and the only way out of hell, then if we love people with the love of Christ, we must tell them the truth that will set them free. He died for us, we must live for Him!

Verse 16. This knowledge should change how we see people. When we see everyone as someone Jesus Christ died to save, it should change our opinions of them and Christ’s love compels us to teach them the truth.

Verse 17. It is Christ who changes us and in His power, all can change. When He is in us, then and only then can we truly change and become new.

Verses 18-20. After we come to Christ, from the moment we come to Christ, we are on mission to tell this story. Jesus reconciled us to God with His death on the cross for our sins. He paid the price for our mess. He didn’t do this because we are good, “While we were yet sinners…” remember? He did it because He is good and because it was the will of the Father. He came so we could be saved and once we are saved, we are entrusted with the message of telling others how to be saved through Him. We are His ambassadors begging people to come to Jesus and believe the truth that will set them free. And finally…

In verse 21, Paul reminds us one last time of the gift. The true essence of the story. “God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. On our own we have no righteousness, only sin. He is our righteousness, and we need to represent Him well.

That is the essence of our story, all wrapped up in one little chapter.
Now go tell it!


I saw a video on I didn’t want to watch it but the title was “Uncomfortable Facts about Jesus,” so I felt obligated. First of all that the person could call what he said “facts” was absurd. He said Jesus was a revolutionary (which I guess could be true in that He was working toward a complete change, which is the literal definition of revolution). He then called my Savior an insurrectionist, which unless the author is a representative of the kingdom of Satan, that charge won’t stick. If Jesus had been an insurrectionist, the people who hated Him probably would have loved Him as they were so hell-bent that their Messiah had to overthrow Rome even though Scripture never once said He would. The author further said that crucifixion was reserved for insurrectionists by the Romans, yet the Scriptures tell us that the two men crucified with Jesus were thieves.

The author then went on to say that none of the Gospels were written by people who actually knew Jesus, which confused me. Matthew and John were disciples of Jesus, Mark was most likely Peter’s scribe and ministered with Paul as did Luke, but the Creator of the Universe does not need me to defend Him.

There was one thing that the author said though that I simply cannot abide. He said, “You have to remember that the people that Jesus hung with were uneducated, from the backwoods of Galillee.” Here’s the thing. They may not have had formal education as we understand it in the 21st century but here is what they had. They spent three years at the feet of Jesus. When the rest of the world turned away, they stood firm and they started a movement, through the power of the Holy Spirit. that covered the entire world. Those of us who are believers today, owe everything to them and the God they represented.

I’m not saying there is anything wrong with higher education, though if it erodes your belief in the truth of the Gospel, you’re better off without it. What I am saying is stop calling the disciples of Jesus Christ uneducated. I’ll say it one last time. They spent three three years at the University of Jesus…

They win…

If you think this is going to be a piece against Scripture in any way, you’re going to be disappointed. I love the Scriptures and believe beyond being the Word of God (which is primary) they are a force for good in our world. I have often lamented society’s and at times even the church’s desire to bend the Word to the will of the people, political correctness (is that an oxymoron?) etc. We are not supposed to change the Scripture, the Scripture is supposed to change us. I love the Bible.

So what is my complaint? Well when I was searching, I decided to try to read the Bible. The one we had in our house was the King James and, at that point in my life, I found it almost incomprehensible. Eventually I came to Christ in 1986 and when I did the church gave me a Bible—The New International Version which came out in 1984. I loved it, finally a Bible I could understand. I devoured it and I memorized a lot of verses. I’ve used the 1984 version of the NIV ever since all the way through my ministry to this very moment.

Over the years the folks who put the NIV out have dabbled with rewording it and updating it. The TNIV that they tried to make gender neutral comes to mind. Some people were up in arms about it and frankly I didn’t care. TNIV was an additional translation I could ignore. I kept right on rolling with the 1984 NIV. Recently, they changed it again, I didn’t like it either. They changed the wording on some of the verses I’ve memorized and to my mind the meaning has changed.

Case in point, one of my life verses and the naming verse of the church I planted 2 Corinthians 5:17.
“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, the old has gone and then new has come.” now says “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” Somehow it looks different to me. What is this new creation that has come? In my version, I am the new creation and to me that’s far better.

That’s just one of many. Again I didn’t like it, but that was okay. I could still use the 1984 version on Biblegateway to download the scriptures for writing sermons, etc. and I was happy. Then a few months back I noticed it no longer appeared. When I checked into it, it appears they feel that this translation is the latest and the greatest, most accurate translation of the text. It appears they have taken this approach with most if not all of the Bible software companies. I’m frustrated and aggravated by this and frankly feel a little bullied. It feels a little like, “you will use the newest version and like it, resistance is futile.” Let’s put it this way. I will use my 1984 version until it wears out, and then I will search out a new translation.

But it won’t be the NIV.

Please forgive the rant we’ll be back to arts ministry tomorrow.