Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Things You Should Know About

Compassionart hosted an unprecedented gathering of award winning songwriters. Pictured above, from left, Matt Redman, Paul Baloche, Tim Hughes, Graham Kendrick, Steven Curtis Chapman, Israel Houghton, Michael W. Smith, Darlene Zschech, Andy Park, and Martin Smith and Stu Garrard (Delirious?)

Exciting things are happening for Christians in the Arts. Here a few highlights:
· The Compassionart songwriters (pictured above) composed 18 songs from which the royalties will be used to alleviate suffering worldwide. Funds now are being raised to record a CD. For more information, go to http://www.compassionart.co.uk/.
· Christian actor Rich Swingle will perform his “Beyond the Chariots,” a dramatic interpretation of the later life of Eric Liddell from “Chariots of Fire” during the Olympics in China. The trip kicks off with a performance of the piece at Westchester Chapel Community Church in White Plains, NY on Feb. 23. For more information, go to http://www.richdrama.com/
· Friday is the deadline to register with earlybird savings for the Lillenas Drama Arts Conference in Kansas City April 24-26, 2008. This is one of the best places to get training from some of the top Christian artists around, so don’t miss out! For more information, go to http://www.nph.com/nphweb/html/lcol/index.jsp?nid=qlink.
· Switchfoot concluded its 34-city Appetite for Construction Tour with Relient K and Ruth in Everett Dec. 3 and announced that more than $100,000 had been raised for Habitat for Humanity.
· “A Touch of Encouragement” is a new website from Martha Williamson who was behind the “Touched by an Angel” television series. Check it out at http://blog.beliefnet.com/MarthaWilliamson/
· The two brothers who directed "Facing the Giants" now are working on another cinematic release – "Fireproof," starring Kirk Cameron – about saving a failing marriage. Cameron offers evangelism training in California next April. See http://www.wayofthemaster.com/ for more information.
· The newest fun from Veggie Tales is in theaters with “The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything.” For the latest on all the movies, check out http://www.christianitytoday.com/movies.
· The April 2008 issue of CCM Magazine will be the last print edition. News will continue online at http://www.ccmmagazine.com/.

Please pray for and support these efforts by Christians reaching out through the arts!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Step Out of the Traffic

"Be still and know I am God."

It seems I can't pick up a book, turn on the TV, join in a conversation or hear a sermon lately where God does not seem to be repeating this message. I'd bet that most of you involved in the arts keep hearing this as well and when you started reading this post, you asked, "the 'be still' message again, Lord?"

It doesn't surprise me given the hectic pace of the world of the arts and of our lives in general. Deadlines come every day and every week. Rehearsals, preparation and practice all need to happen in the midst of daily schedules filled with work, family, friends, shopping, children, eating, recreation, community and church activities. The more my heart seeks to love the Lord, the more my soul longs to be filled with His Spirit, the more more my mind wants to think "what would Jesus do?" the more God says to me, "be still and know I am God."

God has this message a number of times in His word. I decided to take a look at The Message translation to put it into context for our busy lives today. The more modern translation of "be still" is in bold face.

"Quiet down before God,
be prayerful before him.
Don't bother with those who climb the ladder,
who elbow their way to the top." (Psalm 37:7)

Sound like a situation at work you might have encountered?

"Quiet, everyone! Shh! Silence before God. Something's afoot in his holy house. He's on the move!" (Zechariah 2:13)

It can be hard to hear God in the tumult of everyday life.

"Awake now, he told the wind to pipe down and said to the sea, 'Quiet! Settle down!' The wind ran out of breath; the sea became smooth as glass. Jesus reprimanded the disciples: "Why are you such cowards? Don't you have any faith at all?" (Mark 4:39-40)

The storms of life keep us from knowing Him and that He's in control.

This one I particularly enjoyed:
"God will fight the battle for you.
And you? You keep your mouths shut!"(Exodus 14:4)

And Psalm 46:9-11, the verses that God keeps putting in front of me, have much wisdom for today:

Attention, all! See the marvels of God!
He plants flowers and trees all over the earth,
Bans war from pole to pole,
breaks all the weapons across his knee.
Step out of the traffic! Take a long,
loving look at me, your High God,
above politics, above everything."

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

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Can You Take Some Criticism?

The words of a critic. In the theater, we often wait anxiously for them on opening night hoping he or she will write a rave review of our performance and propel our show into multi-season success. When the words are less than positive, however, we tend to dismiss them, citing the critic's lack of ability or calling into question his or her authority to criticize us at all.

Interestingly, the same scenario plays out, sometimes with even more drama, in a church setting. Worship and drama teams sometimes come under weekly critical review from people in the congregation. Why were certain songs or sketches selected? Why were certain persons and not others given leading parts or solos. Why weren't there more hymns? Why weren't there more contemporary songs?

Sometimes the criticism can turn personal and focus on a worship or drama team member's ability to sing or play an instrument. Sometimes the posture of a worship leader is criticized (you always have your eyes closed, you don't smile enough, you always have to be front and center).

So what can we do when we feel like we're being judged? First, make sure our hearts aren't hard. Yes, some people offer criticism with wrong motives. And some do so because it's a reflection of something not quite right in their own heart. And some offer it in love with the hope that we'll benefit from it. Keeping our hearts soft will allow us to discern where the critic's review is coming from and to act accordingly. If we harden our hearts, we close ourselves off to constructive criticism that can help us improve and serve him better. Non-constructive criticism we can accept with a smile and a heart of forgiveness that prevents strife from gaining a foothold between believers.

God wants us to be teachable. We learn from him, from his word, from his spirit-- and from other people.

On that note, here are some great learning opportunities:
Worship Leader Webinar
Monday, February 11, 2008 11:00 am PST
Helping Others Worship: a Philosophy for Worship Leadership, taught by Curt Coffield
More information and registration at http://wltc.webex.com">http://wltc.webex.com

Lillenas Drama Arts Conference
April 24-26, 2008, Kansas City
Information and registration at http://www.nph.com/nphweb/html/lcol/index.jsp?nid=qlink">http://www.nph.com/nphweb/html/lcol/index.jsp?nid=qlink

Masterwork Productions Workshops
Training for worship and drama teams

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Worship is an Every Day Experience

We hear more and more about worship songs, worship services, worship teams, worship bands, worship leaders, worship sets, all having to do with weekend church services. Worship, however, is something we should be doing on a personal level every day as well as corporately with our church.
I will extol the LORD at all times;
his praise will always be on my lips.
My soul will boast in the LORD;
let the afflicted hear and rejoice.
Glorify the LORD with me;
let us exalt his name together. (Ps. 34:1-3)

These verses give us a look at heartfelt worship. "Extol" means to highly praise. We should be highly praising him all the time, in our personal worship times, at work, at home, in our community, at school, in church. If His praise is always on our lips, that means we praise Him when things are going well and when they aren't and all those who know us at some point will hear those words of praise.
"Boast" is a concept some Christians in the arts struggle with when it comes to God. It's politically incorrect these days to suggest that one God or religion might be the way, the truth, the life offering the only path to salvation. But that is exactly what Jesus told us following Him is. Think how awesome it is to be able to call the God of the Universe Father, Friend and Redeemer. Now that's something to boast about!
If we are praising Him daily in worship wherever we are, those who are are in need will find the way and will rejoice in the hope.
Then, let us join together with our worship teams, leaders, choruses, bands, songs and whatever other offerings we have to praise and glorify our God

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

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Some Resolutions I'd Like You to Make

Happy New Year! There's something very satisfying, and allegorically Christian, about putting the past year behind and starting a new one, clean and filled with hope and purpose.
We all make resolutions, whether they are official or not, about things we'd like to do differently or better in the new year. I'd like to challenge you to go beyond personal areas, such as promising to work out at the gym more often, to offer 2008 to the Lord for His purpose, whatever and wherever that may be.
Figuring out what that purpose is doesn't need to be difficult. If you have skills and talents in the arts, God has given them to you to glorify Himself and to minister to the church. Resolve to do that whenever and wherever. And do it to the best of your ability knowing that you are in service to the King of Kings.
Resolve to:
·Prepare spiritually for the service you are giving. Spend time with God in prayer, in His Word and in learning about Him-- every day.
·Practice your music or script and come to rehearsal and to the service or church event fully prepared.
·Come on time. Make sure you show up when you said you would and don't have some last-minute excuse that causes you to decide other things are more important than the service to which God has called you.
Resolve to:
·Share the news about Jesus with those who don’t know him. Make time to get to know visitors at church (don’t just hang out with the worship team between services.)
.Invite your neighbors, coworkers, friends and family to church services and events. If you’re an artist working in a secular area, make sure your conduct reflects Him and look for opportunities to share what a difference He has made in your life and can make in theirs.
·Speak positively about people, or don’t speak about them at all.
·Support others serving in the arts. Mentoring is so important. Find a mentor or be one.

I love this contract from Pastor Rick Warren. Sign it and make 2008 your best year ever!

A Call to Radical Commitment
By Rick Warren
Today I am stepping across the line. I'm tired of waffling, and I'm finished with wavering. I've made my choice; the verdict is in; and my decision is irrevocable. I'm going God's way. There's no turning back now!
I will live the rest of my life serving God's purposes with God's people on God's planet for God's glory. I will use my life to celebrate his presence, cultivate his character, participate in his family, demonstrate his love, and communicate his Word.
Since my past has been forgiven, and I have a purpose for living and a home awaiting in heaven, I refuse to waste any more time or energy on shallow living, petty thinking, trivial talking, thoughtless doing, useless regretting, hurtful resenting, or faithless worrying.
Instead I will magnify God, grow to maturity, serve in ministry, and fulfill my mission in the membership of his family.
Because this life is preparation for the next, I will value worship over wealth, “we” over “me,” character over comfort, service over status, and people over possessions, position, and pleasures. I know what matters most, and I'll give it all I've got. I'll do the best I can with what I have for Jesus Christ today.
I won't be captivated by culture, manipulated by critics, motivated by praise, frustrated by problems, debilitated by temptation, or intimidated by the devil. I'll keep running my race with my eyes on the goal, not the sidelines or those running by me.
When times get tough, and I get tired, I won't back up, back off, back down, back out, or backslide. I'll just keep moving forward by God's grace. I'm Spirit-led, purpose-driven and mission-focused, so I cannot be bought, I will not be compromised, and I shall not quit until I finish the race.
I'm a trophy of God's amazing grace, so I will be gracious to everyone, grateful for everyday, and generous with everything that God entrusts to me.
To my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, I say: However, whenever, wherever, and whatever you ask me to do, my answer in advance is yes! Wherever you lead and whatever the cost, I'm ready. Anytime. Anywhere. Anyway.
Whatever it takes Lord; whatever it takes!
I want to be used by you in such a way, that on that final day I'll hear you say, "Well done, thou good and faithful one. Come on in, and let the eternal party begin!"
What does this mean?
Today, I affirm this commitment to God and submit to his plans and purposes for my life, no matter what it takes.



Contract used with permission. Click on the space here for a free subscription to The Purpose Driven Life Daily Devotional, your daily inspiration via email. © 2007 Jon Walker. All rights reserved.

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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