Tuesday, September 25, 2007

News in Christian Performing Arts

We're excited to announce that Emmy-nominated author and humorist Martha Bolton has joined the roster of performers represented by Masterwork Productions. Martha Bolton has written comedy for such performers as Bob Hope, Phyllis Diller, Ann Jillian, Jeff Allen, Mark Lowry, Fritz Coleman, and more. A speaker and author of over 50 books, Martha is also the Cafeteria Lady for Brio magazine. She also is the author of numerous sketch and monologue books used by church drama teams everywhere!

Comedian Torry Martin recently was interviewed on Focus on the Family's podcast about the creation of character Wooten Bassett for "Adventures in Odyssey." To hear the podcast, go to

For more information about Martha, Torry and the performing arts ministry of Masterwork Productions, go to our newly updated web page at www.masterworkproductions.org

What if someone told you that they believe the Gospel of Philip is as credible as the Gospel of Luke and that the entire bible can't be trusted because the church made errors about which books to include in the bible? What if someone wanted proof that the bones recently found in burial boxes didn't belong to Jesus? What if someone says they believe in the nice parts about Jesus, his love, compassion, willingness to accept social outcasts, but don't believe He would condemn anyone and that God wouldn't really send anyone to hell. Or what if a person believes Jesus was a good person, but not God and that other leaders and religions are just as helpful at bringing a person to salvation?

Are you prepared to share truth about those questions? In the performing arts world, it's likely that you've already encountered many people who share one or more of those beliefs, and if you haven't studied some of these issues, you might have questions yourself. There is a great new tool that can help Christians understand these arguments and clear up misunderstandings with the truth. It's Lee Strobel's new book, The Case for the Real Jesus:A Journalist Investigates Current Attacks on the Identity of Christ.
In "The Case for the Real Jesus," Lee Strobel gives us a reference book for all of the most popular attacks being embraced by today's post-modern culture when it comes to the Christian faith and who Jesus really is.
He meticulously examines six challenges to the traditional view of Jesus and shows them all to be unsubstantiated by evidence and research methods and often fueled by guesswork and personal opinion or motivation.
Very helpful are the "For Further Investigation" sections at the end of each section which provide resources for further study on each topic.
I have placed this book on my shelf next to the bible, the concordance and the bible dictionary as a major reference resource. It's wonderful to have so much information on such a variety of common attacks so handy in one book. -- Lauren Yarger, Executive Director, Masterwork Productions, Inc.
See the video below to hear Lee speaking about an interactive broadcast about the subject next Sunday, Sept. 30 or go to http://www.leestrobel.com/videoserver/video.php?clip=strobelP1002

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Kathy Griffin on "De" Ceived List; Our Response Should Be Love

Comedian Kathy Griffin certainly triggered a lot of controversy this week when she spoke to Jesus after accepting her Emmy Award for Outstanding Reality Program. And if you missed it, she didn't thank Him like so many do at awards programs (see the May 15 posting on this blog for thoughts on another awards program). Instead, Ms. Griffin said that "a lot of people come up here and thank Jesus for this award. I want you to know that no one had less to do with this award than Jesus." She then held up her Emmy, make an off-color remark about Christ and said, "This award is my god now!"

Christians and Christian groups were outraged. The remarks were censored during the broadcast of the awards show Sunday.

I guess what is most surprising to me is that Christians seem surprised that someone who doesn't know the Lord would think they are in a position to comment about Him and even mock Him and take full credit for their accomplishments. That's human nature, however, and people have been doing this for centuries. In a field where "fresh" is so important, Ms. Griffin might be surprised to find out her thoughts aren't very new.

King Nebuchadnezzar, for instance, uttered this claim:

"Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of majesty?" (Dan. 4:29 NIV)

Later, this:

The governor's soldiers in Jerusalem "Stripped Him and put a scarlet robe on Him and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on His head. They put a staff in His right hand and knelt in front of Him and mocked Him. 'Hail the King of the Jews!' they said." (Matt. 27: 28 NIV)

Was Jesus offended by Ms. Griffin's remarks? Yes, I think He was. And as Christians, it's OK for us not to be OK with such comments. But I believe Jesus feels a greater sadness that Ms. Griffin doesn't know Him. She also was quoted as saying this about Jesus: "I don't know what I ever did to him, I just think he doesn't like me that much..."

Jesus' response:

"Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do."

My prayer for Ms. Griffin is that she will discover that Jesus does like her, in fact that He loves her so much, He died to erase the debt of everything she's ever "done to Him," including insulting Him at the awards ceremony. I pray that Christians in the arts community who know her will love her and take the opportunity to share the real Christ with her. I pray that she'll enter into a saving personal relationship with her Savior. And I pray she'll win another Emmy, if not for "My Life on the D List," then for another show so she'll have an opportunity to share a changed heart with millions of viewers and bring Him the glory.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Remembering September 11 in a Way That Will Make a Difference

Today marks the sixth anniversary of the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington. It's been a long process of recovering from that day and the grief that it brought to my life. God has been faithful and
I will sing of your strength,
in the morning I will sing of your love;
for you are my fortress,
my refuge in times of trouble.(Ps. 59:16).
What is a lingering sadness is the knowledge that some of those who lost their lives that day didn't know God. In the performing arts world, we often hesitate about sharing our faith for fear of making ourselves stand out or of offending someone. How often do we think, "I'll wait until tomorrow, or next week, or when these people who are hostile toward Christianity are not around" to share our personal relationship with Jesus? How many of us thought those thoughts about someone who lost his life on 9/11?
We need to be ready to witness whenever and wherever God provides an opportunity, because there might not be another chance. And the consequences are eternal.
Rick Warren recently posted an excellent teaching on sharing your testimony on the daily devotionals from Purpose Driven Life (used here below with permission). Read it through and then ask God to bring to mind the people to whom He would have you be His messenger (and if you're int he arts, there will be at least one! This is a big missions field.)
Put your faith into action and make a difference for the kingdom.

Sharing Your Life Message
by Rick Warren
God has given you a Life Message to share.
When you became a believer, you also became God’s messenger. God wants to speak to the world through you. Paul said, “We speak the truth before God, as messengers of God.” (2 Corinthians 2:17)
You may feel you don’t have anything to share, but that’s the Devil trying to keep you silent. You have a storehouse of experiences that God wants to use to bring others into his family. The Bible says, “Those who believe in the Son of God have the testimony of God in them.” (1 John 5:10)
Your Life Message has four parts to it:

Your testimony: the story of how you began a relationship with Jesus;
Your life lessons: the most important lessons God has taught you;
Your godly passions: the issues God shaped you to care about most;
The Good News: the message of salvation.

Your Life Message includes your testimony. Your testimony is the story of how Christ made a difference in your life. Peter tells us that we were chosen by God “to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you.” (1 Peter 2:9)
This is the essence of witnessing — simply sharing your personal experiences regarding the Lord. In a courtroom, a witness isn’t expected to argue the case, prove the truth, or press for a verdict; that is the job of attorneys. Witnesses simply report what happened to them or what they saw.
Jesus said, “You will be my witnesses” (Acts 1:8) – not “You will be my attorney.” He wants you to share your story with others. Sharing your testimony is an essential part of your mission on earth because it is unique. There is no other story just like yours, so only you can share it. If you don’t share it, it will be lost forever.
You may not be a Bible scholar, but you are the authority on your life, and it’s hard to argue with personal experience. Actually, your personal testimony is more effective than a sermon, because unbelievers see pastors as professional salesmen, but they see you as a “satisfied customer,” so they give you more credibility.
Personal stories also are easier to relate to than principles, and people love to hear them. They capture our attention, and we remember them longer. Unbelievers would probably lose interest if you started quoting theologians, but they have a natural curiosity about experiences they’ve never had. Shared stories build a relational bridge from your heart to theirs – a bridge Jesus can walk across.
Another value of your testimony is that it by-passes intellectual defenses. Many people who won’t accept the authority of the Bible will listen to a humble personal story. That is why on six different occasions Paul used his testimony to share the Gospel instead of quoting Scripture.
The Bible says, “Be ready at all times to answer anyone who asks you to explain the hope you have in you, but do it with gentleness and respect.” (1 Peter 3:15-16) The best way to “be ready” is to write out your testimony and then memorize the main points.

So what?

Testimony – Divide your testimony into four parts:

·What my life was like before I met Jesus.

·How I realized I needed Jesus.

·How I committed my life to Jesus.

·The difference Jesus has made in my life.

Variations on your testimony – You have a story for every experience in which God has helped you. Once you are comfortable with your basic testimony, make a list of all the problems, circumstances, and crises God has brought you through. Then use one of those situations when it seems relevant. Different situations call for different testimonies.

For more devotionals from Purpose Driven, go to

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

News and Reviews in the Christian Arts

This blog now is posted on a Christian newtorking site called Shoutlife as well as here on Blogger every Tuesday. Masterwork Productions will host a live chat for Christian artists every Tuesday from 7 to 8 pm on the site. To check out the site and to join us for the chat in the "Christian Perfoming Artists" group, go to http://shoutlife.com.

I totally enjoyed Anita Renfroe's book "If You Can't Lose It, Decorate It: And Other Hip Alternatives to Dealing With Reality" (NavPress 2007). I was expecting a collection of funny stories after having seen Ms. Renfroe's hysterical act at a conference earlier this year, and there certainly is laugh-out-loud humor throughout the pages of this book. It also includes, however, great insight and practical, Godly advice. I had the pleasure of meeting Ms. Renfroe at that conference and she was very friendly, down to earth and pleasant. After just a few minutes of conversation, I thought, "We could be good friends."
Those same characteristics are evident in her writing, where you feel like you're out shopping with a friend who's filling you in on what's happening in her life. And she shares insights about things we all talk about with friends: how we look, how we feel about ourselves, raising our familes -- basically, the stuff of life.
The best humor comes in passages where Ms. Renfroe is attempting to explain something serious and diverts to tell us what's really on her mind, like how Suze Orman's teeth are very large and scare her or how she has a love-hate relationship with her cell phone, vacillating between wondering how she ever lived without it to wondering how she can smash it and cause it a horrible death.

I also enjoyed another book, "Conversations at the Girlville Diner: Finding God in Life, Love and Other Daily Specials" by Kim Bolton (authored with Chris Wave). Ms. Bolton is a Christian entertainer who tours the country performing and speaking. The book is a collection of thoughts from humorous to heartbreaking and serves as a great starter for your daily devotion.

Next week I'll be visiting with a number of Christian performers in the Nashville area. God continues to provide opportunities for those of us involved in serving Him through the arts to fellowship together!

Daily Inspiration

The Blind Side

Read about the real life mom from "The Blind Side."

Lifeway: http://www.lifeway.com/article/?id=169816

Guideposts: http://www.guideposts.com/story/sandra-bullock-blind-side-football?page=0,1

Read Matt Mungle's review of the movie at http://www.buddyhollywood.com/.

Lauren Yarger, Bio

Lauren Yarger has written, directed and produced numerous shows and special events for both secular and Christian audiences. She co-wrote a Christian musical version of “A Christmas Carol” which played to sold-out audiences of over 3,000 in Vermont and was awarded the 2000 Vermont Bessie (theater and film awards) for “People’s Choice for Theatre.” She also has written two other dinner theaters, sketches for church services and devotions for Christian artists.

Yarger trained for three years in the Broadway League’s Producer Development Program, completed the Commercial Theater Institute's Producing Three-Day Training and produced a one-woman musical about Mary Magdalene that toured nationally and closed with an off-Broadway run.

In 2008 she was a Fellow at the National Critics Institute at the O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT. She writes reviews of Broadway and off-Broadway theater with a Christian perspective for Reflections in the Light (http://reflectionsinthelight.blogspot.com/) and is editor of The Connecticut Arts Connection. She also is a contributing editor for BroadwayWorld.com

She also reviews books for Publisher's Weekly and is a member of the National Book Critics Circle. She formerly was Connecticut theater editor for CurtainUp, a national theater web site bsed in New York and a reviewer for American Theater Web.

She also served as Executive Director of Masterwork Productions, Inc. and worked in arts management for the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts in Hartford and the Hartford Symphony Orchestra.

She is a freelance writer and member of the Drama Desk, The Outer Critics Circle, The American Theater Critics Association, The League of Professional Theatre Women and The CT Critics Circle.

A former newspaper editor and graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, Yarger lives with her husband in West Granby, CT and has two adult children.

Copyright Notice

All contents copyright © Lauren Yarger 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013. All rights reserved. For reprint permission, contact masterworkproductions@yahoo.com.

Scripture from THE MESSAGE Copyright 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

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