Posts Tagged ‘“tell the story”’

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.

So most of the readers of this post will probably acknowledge that their creative gifts come from God, but did you ever consider why they were given? Today I want to explore that a bit, in the context of the Scripture.

1. To beautify. When God created everything, he said it was either good or very good. Then sin came along and started to corrupt and destroy. The world we live in now while still being beautiful is a shadow of what it was intended to be. If you are gifted to beautify, you have the potential to give brief glimpses of the world as God intended.
2. To illustrate. You don’t have to be a visual artist to illustrate. Think about Jesus. We have no records of him painting a picture or making a sculpture, (other than creating everything, but I digress) what he did do, and it’s recorded all over scripture, is paint pictures with Words. He used simple stories to illustrate complex concepts, and that is something we can do as well. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Illustrations help people to understand a message and the message we have is too important not to be illustrated.
3. To tell the story. When Jesus said therefore go and make disciples. He meant it. We are in this world to let people know about Him. To communicate the message os the Word of God. To be sermons in shoes. We are His ambassadors entrusted with the message of how to be reconciled to God in Christ. To point the world to a God who loves them. To do this we need to tell the story of God, Jesus, his interaction with and love for humanity and what He has done for us.
4.To serve. The Bible says, “Each one should use whatever gifts he has received to serve others.” Serving is one of the key examples Jesus gave us as He walked the earth. One key “visual” Jesus gave us was in John 13 when he washed the feet of His disciples. In this act, he was illustrating. He was showing us that if He, the creator of all things could stoop to wash the feet of His creations, we should bow to serve others and He promises we will be blessed if we serve likewise.
5. To provide. Yes we are gifted to provide for our own needs, to work, to earn a living. He loves us and has not left us empty handed. We however must not fall to selfishness even in this. This gift is not just for us but so that we would provide for the needs of others.
6. To build up the body of Christ. The Bible speaks of certain gifts being used to prepare God’s people for works of service to build up the body of Christ. The church, the body of Christ is a living organism and living organisms grow and reproduce. When we use our gifts to serve and help others we draw them to Christ and into the body. The side-effect of this is that they add their gifts and talents to the body which expands the ways we can reach, touch and bless others.
7. To worship. When it’s all said and done, isn’t that why we’re here. To praise the one who created us all? When we bring our gifts to God in worship we are using them in their primary context to honor the One who gave us all.

And finally there is an overarching principle to all of this. Our gifts are given that we might glorify God and point others to Him, doing His will in this world. We do this so people might “see our good works and praise our Father in Heaven.” Ultimately this should be the motivation behind all of our creations.

I know this is a long post and it is far from an exhaustive list, but it’s a good start. How do you use your gifts and how can those gifts glorify God?

When you know why you’re gifted, it’s easier to appropriately use your gift.

This year I decided to participate in the Brooklyn Art Library’s Sketchbook Project. All the entries will become part of a touring exhibit and then be placed permanently in their collection. There were numerous themes to choose from. The one that suited me best was Heroes and Villains. I just finished the cover of the book and thought I would share it here.

The cover for my entry into the 2012 Sketchbook Project World Tour

The cover for my entry into the 2012 Sketchbook Project World Tour

I’m not sure where the whole book will go yet but the cover shows the general idea. the ultimate battle between the ultimate hero and the ultimate villain. My goal is to show that nearly every great hero of nearly every great story shares attributes of the hero of the greatest story ever told. The secondary theme is to remind people that each of us is in a battle against the same opponent. My hope is that this piece will at least get people to consider Jesus as the hero of their story.

When the book is finished I will post it in its entirety.

This is just another example of a way an artist can use his gift to tell the story of Jesus. How will you use your gift?

It’s called The Encounter. A friend recommended it to me and I checked it out. The budget is pretty low and it has some of the same struggles other Christian films have, but at the core is a good story and a great message. I was blessed by it so I share it with you here. As you who follow this blog regularly know, one of the things we’re all about is telling a better story. This is an example of someone making a good effort. How can you use your gift to tell the world a better story… The story of a God who loves them sacrificially. If this blesses you, spread it.

Bible Reading Guide
An important part of following God is knowing what He wants and a great way to know what He wants is to read His Word. Follow this plan and you will finish reading the Bible in a year.
2 Samuel 19, Proverbs 9, Psalm 74
You can also download your own chart here.

My son Chris was in the musical Children of Eden. It’s my all time favorite show and yes I know I’ve told posted about this before but please don’t tune me out. Because today I want to talk about the story we tell. As artists in Christ we have an opportunity and the skills and abilities to create better stories and the best story we can tell a lot of times besides the story of Christ is our own story, when we tell the story of Christ in our lives we can make a radical difference in the lives of others. So today using the lyrics of the closing song of the show, I want to tell a part of my story. It’s probably not what you think. My story is the story of a good God coming into the life of a not so good guy and changing it completely.

The lyrics of this song share some really wonderful truths. Consider them for your own life.

“Our hands can choose to drop the knife
Our hearts can choose to stop the hating
For ev’ry moment of our life
Is the beginning…”

Most of life is about a choice. We may not be able to choose what happens to us, but we do all choose our response. The good news is that the old saying is true, today really is the first day of the rest of your life. There is very little you can do about yesterday, make amends if you can and otherwise more on. Make this day a new beginning.

This leads to the line that almost always brings a tear to my eye because I know it to be true.

“There is no journey gone so far
So far we cannot stop and change direction
No doom is written in the stars
It’s in our hands…

You can never go so far that you can’t turn around and go the other way, a better way the right way, we just need to choose it. If you feel like you’ve gone too far in the wrong direction maybe it’s time to turn around and come home to your Father. Jesus told the story of the prodigal son for a reason. He may not be pleased with our journey to this point but he is right there waiting to receive you with open arms and walk you through this life.

You don’t have to be a theologian to tell your story, you just need to know what it’s like to be changed by Jesus.

I think it’s time we all told a better story. Use what you have at your disposal and tell it.

My son’s group didn’t videotape the song but here is another production.

Bible Reading Guide
An important part of following God is knowing what He wants and a great way to know what He wants is to read His Word. Follow this plan and you will finish reading the Bible in a year.
Judges 3,4; Ruth 2
You can also download your own chart here.

I listened to a dangerous song for me last night. History Maker by Delirious. It’s the song that inspired my History Makerz youth presentation but more than that it is a song that awakens what I like to call a Holy discontent, a desire to make things different, to make things better, a desire to be a part of changing the world. One of the things that is continually apparent to me is that the people in the Bible that we canonize and make out to be superhuman, well they weren’t. They were ordinary people who put their lives in the hands of an extraordinary God. That’s who I want to be, how about you. I want to use the creative gifts God has given me to make a difference in this world. Care to join me?

Check out the “dangerous” song for yourself, but be prepared, it’ll make you want to do something. For more on my HistoryMakerz ministry go to