Thursday, November 30, 2006

The Merrying of Timmy

Two years ago, I wrote a fairly lengthy skit as a Christmas program. It involved 18 scenes, numerous characters, stick puppets and a bunch of determination to pull it off (not to mention God's blessing), but it came together.

I am offering this skit free in the month of December as my gift to you as a token of thanks.



Tuesday, November 28, 2006

My Life of Idolatry

I have endeavored to be goal oriented for the past three years. I believe that we are supposed to live this way. I believe we are supposed to plan our lives and be responsible for such. I believe we should learn and grow to be more like Jesus everyday by understanding Him better.* I believe we are to uphold Jesus in every aspect of our lives.**

In conjunction with these beliefs, I am trying to make successful by becoming a better builder, puppeteer, writer and artist by setting aside time to pursue these activities. I am struggling to be a better husband, parent and friend by investing emotionally into the lives of those around me. I am striving to become more Christ-like by reading and praying. I am working to improve my health and appearance by changing my eating habits and exercising. I am working to become debt free. I am determined to improve ME, but…

I’ve noticed the achieving the goal has surpassed the reason for setting it in the first place. I think the practice can be called idolatry because it is something that is coming between the Lord and I.

My intentions were honorable, but so very easily I have wandered from the path. I know that I am supposed to seek the Kingdom of God first and everything else I need will fall into place.1

So how did this happen? I’m not sure but it happened to Martha in Luke 10;
38The Lord and his disciples were traveling along and came to a village. When they got there, a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. 39She had a sister named Mary, who sat down in front of the Lord and was listening to what he said. 40Martha was worried about all that had to be done. Finally, she went to Jesus and said, "Lord, doesn't it bother you that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her to come and help me!"
41The Lord answered, "Martha, Martha! You are worried and upset about so many things, 42but only one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen what is best, and it will not be taken away from her." cev

I pray that you haven’t become like me; distracted by “good”. We are warned that the cares of this world will keep us from being fruitful.2 Please keep your focus and pray for me as I try to regain mine. In closing, reflect on the words of Paul:
I ask the glorious Father and God of our Lord Jesus Christ to give you his Spirit. The Spirit will make you wise and let you understand what it means to know God. Ephesians 1:17 cev

God bless you and Merry Christmas.

† I don't run without a goal. 1 Corinthians 9:26a cev
‡ My child, don't lose sight of good planning and insight. Hang on to them, for they fill you with life and bring you honor and respect. Proverbs 3:21-22 nlt (1996)
‡ For we are each responsible for our own conduct. Galatians 6:5 nlt
*Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him. Colossians 3:10 nlt
**And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him. Colossians 3:17 nlt
1. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Matthew 6:33 kjv
2. As for the seed that fell among thorns, these are the ones who, when they have heard, go on their way and are choked with worries, riches, and pleasures of life, and produce no mature fruit. Luke 8:14 hcsb

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Tis’ the Season

I love Christmas, well, what Christmas is truly about. The over-commercialized, Tickle-Me-Elmo-grabbing, Play-Station-3-stampedeing, lets spend-every-dime-on-junk-I-don’t-need, I’m-going-to-Wal-Mart attitude really sullies the season for me. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve, I make both the Grinch and Ebenezer Scrooge appear cute and cuddly. I can do without the hype.

I do love giving, though. I think that is part of God’s nature that He places in us. I love to watch my family open gifts that I chose especially for them. For some (including my wife), receiving gifts make them feel loved. (The good thing is these types enjoy small tokens as much as large ones.) Of course Christmas provides me many opportunities to provide presents for underprivileged kids and some of our service men and women away from home. Even though my small gesture won’t really impact these individual situations, it will hopefully provide a moment of happiness and joy. Better yet it is a sure fire way to chase away my “Scroogieness”.

I know most of you will participate in some sort of charity giving be it Operation Christmas Child, Toys for Tots or just dropping change in the Savation Army Bucket. If not, I encourage you to do so, if not for someone else's benefit, for your own.

We are blessed by being blessings.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Things I'm Thankful For...

Grace, mercy, salvation, forgiveness, my wife, my children, my family, my friends, my church, my ministry, my life (it could be worse), my nation, my health, my home...

The list goes on and on. Count your blessing. Name them one-by-one. (Hey, that's catchy. Someone should write a song.)

Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Thinking Like a Servant

Okay, this will be the final comments (for now) on what I’ve learned about my
ministry from reading The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren: The following passage is from Chapter 34 titled Thinking Like A Servant.

Servants think about their work, not what others are doing. They don’t compare, criticize of complete with other servants or ministries They’re too busy doing the work God has given them.

Competition between God’s servants is illogical for many reasons: We’re all on the same team; our goal is to make God look good, not ourselves. We’ve all been given different assignments: and we’re all uniquely shaped. Paul said, “We will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Each of us is an original.” Galatians 5:26 (mes)

I think this is self-explanatory. I hope God will continue to bless your ministry as He shows you what He made you to do.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Dealing With Criticism

As in my previous post, I gained a lot of insight into my own ministry and how it fits into the grand scheme of things (or at least how it should fit) from reading A Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren. One area that has been a “spark plug” of discussion certain areas of the online puppet community is criticism associated with Christian puppetry. The following is from the book:

It is also not our job to defend ourselves against criticism. If you serve like Jesus, you can expect to be criticized. The world, and much of the church, does not understand what God values.

Rick then cites the story of Mary washing Jesus’ feet in where Jesus’ very own disciples disapproved Mary’s actions.

But Jesus, aware of this, replied, “Why criticize this woman for doing such a good thing to me? Matt 26:10 (nlt)

Constructive criticism should be just that; constructive. Any other criticism should be judged for what it is worth and not taken personally. (I guess at some point this becomes a SHAPE issue or a forgiveness issue.)

I guess what needs to be gleaned from this is that if you are truly serving the Lord with a servant’s heart, it shouldn’t matter what others around you think. I know I am guilty (to this day) of wanting recognition or at least respect in the puppet community. I guess that there is something inside of us that inherently seeks the acceptance of peers. I know there are a few individuals that I felt their opinion of me gave me some sort of value as a puppeteer/builder. In retrospect, however, I realized the only evaluation that matters comes from God. He is my final judge and His opinion should be the one most important to me.

If my life is fruitless, it doesn't matter who praises me, and if my life is fruitful, it doesn't matter who criticizes me. –John Bunyan

Monday, November 06, 2006

Using What God Gave You

As I alluded to earlier, I have discovered more insight about my ministry and Christian puppetry in general while reading The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren. I would like to cite a passage found in chapter (day) 32 titled Use What God Gave You. Here he, Rick Warren, is elaborating on the SHAPE God gives each of us. (SHAPE is an acronym for spiritual gifts, heart, ability, personality and experience.)

God wants you to enjoy the using the shape He has given you. The Bible says, “Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else.” (Gal 6:4 nlt) Satan will try to steal the joy of service from you in a couple of ways: by tempting you to compare your ministry with others and by tempting you to conform your ministry to the expectation of others. Both are deadly traps that will distract you from serving in the ways God intended.

This is not a free pass for sloppy or boring puppetry; however it is encouragement for you to develop your ministry as God leads. It is wrong for me to compare my ministry to others. I should be focused on what I am doing and do my best to glorify God. I see that I've been guilty of comparing, conforming and somewhat envying others ministries.

Believe it or not, I have actually seen other people comparing their ministry to the ministry of other's several times since reading this. Maybe I am just more aware or God chose to point this out at this present moment in time for a reason. As far as my own ministry goes, I don't have a clear focus right now for my team or for I pray that God will clarify things and lead me in the direction I should go.

I’ll have more realizations from reading this book that I will share soon. Thanks for reading.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

The Eyes Have It

I am currently carrying half-dome eyes at At 45mm in diameter, these are slightly larger than ping pong balls. Check them out.

Michele at host a tutorial by David Pannabecker on using these eyes.