Posts Tagged ‘parables’

Every so often I like share a few resources that will help you on your journey. The following are a few books that I have read over the years that have really blessed and encouraged me. They’re not necessarily Christian books, nor are they all about art, yet they will help you to build your skills and following.

Seth Godin’s Tribes is the book that encouraged me to start this blog and try to build a community of Christian creatives. It can be read in a day and will radically change the way you look at leadership and creativity. The description from the Amazon page says, “A tribe is any group of people, large or small, who are connected to one another, a leader, and an idea. For millions of years, humans have been seeking out tribes, be they religious, ethnic, economic, political, or even musical (think of the Deadheads). It’s our nature.

Now the Internet has eliminated the barriers of geography, cost, and time. All those blogs and social networking sites are helping existing tribes get bigger. But more important, they’re enabling countless new tribes to be born—groups of ten or ten thousand or ten million who care about their iPhones, or a political campaign, or a new way to fight global warming.

And so the key question: Who is going to lead us?” This is an amazing book you should really pick up. Click the picture to get your copy.

While we’re on Seth Godin, I would be remiss if I did not mention Linchpin. This is one of my all time favorite books. It tells us all about how to be indispensable and live a remarkable life. The description on the Amazon page says There used to be two teams in every workplace: management and labor. Now there’s a third team, the linchpins. These people figure out what to do when there’s no rule book. They delight and challenge their customers and peers. They love their work, pour their best selves into it, and turn each day into a kind of art.

Linchpins are the essential building blocks of great organizations. They may not be famous but they’re indispensable. And in today’s world, they get the best jobs and the most freedom.

As Godin writes, “Every day I meet people who have so much to give but have been bullied enough or frightened enough to hold it back. It’s time to stop complying with the system and draw your own map. You have brilliance in you, your contribution is essential, and the art you create is precious. Only you can do it, and you must.” This book really changed the way I look at the things relating to the work I do and the way I do it. Click the picture to get your copy.

For the writers, storytellers and communicators out there, Parables by John MacArthur is a treasure trove of information on the stories of Jesus. This book goes into great detail on the parables and why Jesus used them. This book is powerful and will challenge your thinking on the parables, and how we communicate God’s Word. Here’s what the Amazon page had to say about the book: “Jesus was a master storyteller, and the parables He told were ingeniously simple word pictures with profound spiritual lessons. Understanding the parables is a crucial matter for followers of Jesus. Jesus told parables so His people might comprehend His message about the kingdom of God clearly.

Master expositor and Bible commentator John MacArthur has spent a lifetime explaining the Word of God in clear and comprehensible terms. In Parables he helps Christians understand the essential lessons contained in the most famous and influential short stories the world has ever known.” Get your copy by clicking the image.

Imagine That by Manuel Luz is a thought provoking book on creative ministry from a great mind working in the field. His insights are powerful and challenging. Amazon said, “Why are we artists? How does God experience art? What is the artist’s calling in relation to God, the church, and the world?

Drawing from his experiences performing Mozart, playing “dive bars”, and leading worship and the arts in the church, author Manuel Luz seeks to answer the questions that artists often ask. Laced with humorous and sometimes poignant anecdotes, Imagine That is a thought-provoking journey through the convergence of art and faith. Luz has been a working musician, writer, pastor, and even amateur cartoonist for more than 40 years, and in Imagine That he lays out his case for a uniquely Christian approach to the vocation of artist, using theologically rich and artist-friendly language.

In the end, Imagine That affirms and equips Christian artists for the special kind of ministry that only they can do.” This s a great book that should be on your bookshelf. Click the image to get your copy.

My friend J. Scott McElroy has written a wonderful handbook for creative ministry. As a long time creative minister, McElroy’s insights come from real world experience and have the potential to guide the reader to a fruitful, creative ministry. Amazon says of this book: “If the future is creative, is it any wonder that sometimes the church seems stuck in the past?

Now is the time for the church to reclaim its role as a center of creativity. Among your members are artists, musicians and other creatives whose gifts can enhance your worship, inform your theology and impact your community. Christian arts advocate J. Scott McElroy gives a comprehensive vision and manual for unleashing creativity in your congregation so you can connect with the more visual, aural, participatory and expressive generation that is rising up within the church today.

In this handbook you’ll find clear direction for:

Mobilizing and managing artists and other creatives in your congregation
Establishing structures and parameters for arts ministry
Leading and supporting staff and church members in creative changes
Enhancing the worship service
Adding creative elements to your sermons
Engaging the broader community

Activate your church in every avenue of worship with this practical guide for arts ministry.”
Click the images to get your copy of any of these books.

gardenerThere’s no two ways about it. We Christians are commanded to share our faith. Those of us on the creative side of the realm (though I still believe everyone is creative) seem to have received special tools to share God’s story, but sometimes it seems like people’s hearts are totally closed to the Gospel. It can really feel pretty discouraging.

When we are discouraged, as well as every other time, it’s a great idea to look to Jesus. Jesus did most of his teaching in stories we call parables. This should be incredibly encouraging for those of us who feel a creative bent. One story that really speaks to this dilemma is The Parable of the Sower (found in Matthew 13 among other places). Jesus is out teaching people who are seeking truth and so Jesus tells the story of a sower (farmer) planting seeds. It’s a parable that talks about people who go out to share the Word of God (the seed in the story). The seed falls on different kinds of soil (hearts). Some seed is eaten before it can take root. Some seed falls on rocky soil where it cannot take good root. Some seed falls among thorns and is choked out and finally some falls on good soil where it yields a crop 100 times what is planted. It’s a pretty simple story that deals with the receptiveness of hearts to the Gospel. Right after this, Jesus’ disciples ask why he teaches in parables. Jesus’ response at first glance feels really confusing.

11 He replied, “Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. 12 Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. 13 This is why I speak to them in parables: “Though seeing, they do not see;though hearing, they do not hear or understand.

We usually look at the parables as illustrations Jesus told to help us understand Scripture, and they are, but Jesus also says here that to some people they are deliberately confusing. This seems so counter to Jesus that it almost feels wrong. I believe the answer to the confusion is found in the parable itself. The stories are easy to understand to hearts that are open but to people who refuse to listen, who don’t have ears to hear, the parables confound their understanding.

Some theologians believe that certain people are elected to receive salvation while others are not. That belief does not fit with my understanding of Scripture not my understanding of God. I believe it is His will that none should perish but that all come to repentance (as it says in 2 Peter 3:9). That said, I have also shared my faith with people who seem to refuse to receive it and that can be discouraging beyond words. So what should we do?

Well first of all, I look at my own history. There was a time in my life where I didn’t want to hear it either and yet God got through because some people cared enough to share anyway. Secondly, I think we all need to remember all these farming analogies in Scripture. The apostle Paul for example once talked about how he planted the seed (the Gospel) another watered it, but God made it grow. This is the point. When you share your story it will fall on both receptive and unreceptive hearts. We need to remember it’s not up to us to decide who is who. It is up to us to plant the seeds. This is what Jesus commands in the Great Commission (Matthew 28). Whether or not the seed we plant takes root is up to God. You may be the planter who gets to see the seed take root and grow, or you may be the first of hundreds to make the attempt before God breaks through.

Let your faith overcome your discouragement. Trust God to be at work. Trust God to work the soil. Trust God to get through and bring the growth.

You plant the seeds, you tell the story.

I have been on a year-long look into the parables, those wonderful illustrative stories told by Jesus, at least in part to help the faithful understand and follow Him. They are some of the most crucial stories in the world. Needless to say, when I see a wonderful way of communicating them, I just want to share it. Some of the best I’ve seen are created by Max7.

This is a fine example of creative arts ministry. How would you tell the story?

There are a lot of great resources available from Max7. Click the link and check them out.

I’m in the midst of a very busy time of year. My job is in the midst of our annual conference. It’s a lot of work and very long days but some things are still very important. One of those is devotions. As I have mentioned before I am in the midst of a yearlong study on the parables of Jesus. Today since time is of the essence, I read a fairly short passage, Luke 15. While it is a short passage, Jesus tells us three stories. The parable of the Lost Sheep, the Lost Coin and the Lost (or Prodigal Son).

These are three pretty famous stories all coming to a similar point. The prodigal for example seems to be about sinners who have been away and who come back and it is… to a point. But, and this is a key point for storytellers, speakers, writers and other creatives, context is everything. You see I’m of the opinion that while the parables are extremely important messages to us all, at the time of their telling, they were very pointed. Jesus was talking to a specific audience and it is in that context that we find there true meaning. So who is Jesus talking to. The first verse tells us. Jesus is teaching and hanging out with people who society looked down on. The Bible calls them tax collectors and sinners. Jesus is reaching out and sharing with the very people He came to seek and save and while these parables have something to say to those people, there is another group who is actually his target audience.

You see the Pharisees showed up and started griping that Jesus was talking to these sinners as if they were somehow better, and it is this interaction that causes Jesus to tell the stories. The first two appear to be about a lost sheep and a lost coin, but Jesus ends both of them by talking about how the heavens rejoice when sinners repent, one of them going so far as to say there is more rejoicing over one who needs to repent than over many who don’t need to repent. First of all in other teaching Jesus makes it clear we all need to repent, but he’s essentially telling these proud religious types, God still loves these people and so should you. They are my mission field and as religious leaders, they should be yours.

In the prodigal, is it about the prodigal? Of course, and this parable has been telling all of us who have been lost that we an turn around and go home for two millennia, but don’t miss the main point. When Jesus switches to the older brother he is talking to religious people who feel like they have been slighted when He doesn’t reject the lost. He is reminding those of us who follow Him not to look down on the ones we are here to reach and that religious pride will be our undoing. The angels celebrate and the Father celebrates and all we accomplish by being down on these people is missing the party.

Stories are important, but people are more important, so as you speak, as you write, as you craft your stories, as you create anything, think about who you’re talking to. What do you want them to learn? What do you want them to get out of your story? What do you want them to do in response?

Who are you talking to?

Dave’s New A Night AMOK presentation…

story poster

Available for booking March 2013 Contact AMOKArts for details