Everybody Loves a Great Story
It’s true. As a child we loved the bedtime stories our Mom or Dad told us to help us drift off to sleep. As we grew up, we enjoyed all kinds of stories: adventure tales and scary stories around the campfire on an October evening, plus all the great books and movies and continuing dramas on TV. Our young lives were filled with stories. As adults, some story of a vocation or a profession connected with our interests and we started trying to write our own story in which, of course, we were the hero.
For the Christ-follower, another story stood out against this complex, colorful mural of characters and events: The Jesus Story. It was different and it made a difference in us like no other story. We never confused Jesus with Santa Claus. We never tried to live according to the teachings of Superman. We never sang songs about Captain Kirk or Luke Skywalker. The Jesus Story was different because it was not fiction; it was the truth, indeed, it was the Gospel Truth. As we read His story and heard it preached in church and taught in Sunday School, we found HIM in it. He came to us in love and forgiveness, inviting us into His story. We somehow knew that our story could be another chapter in His story. The Jesus Story wasn’t over! It was still in progress and we had a role to play in the drama, a song to sing in the celebration, and a destiny to fulfill in our lifetime.
As a child, I loved stories, too. I loved old movies on TV and the great 1950’s westerns, each with a hero and his own special kind of gun of which I had toy versions to act out my own stories. There was
- King Kong and other monster movies,
- WW2 movies, and
- science fiction stories,
all in my own living room in living black and white. My imagination supplied the color.
At age 19, in college during a production of Rogers and Hammerstein’s Carousel, I received a call from the Lord to put His story on stage as music theatre. That call set me on a path of study of those two things: The Jesus Story and music theatre.
Years later, I served for many years as a minister of music with an ongoing assignment to produce Christmas and Easter celebrations each year. I found the narrations supplied by the musicals and cantatas available to me to be less than stellar. I wanted to tell The Jesus Story, not just celebrate the season. I started replacing the narrations in the published musicals with my original scripts. The Lord blessed this endeavor and I saw the music ministries I led grow into full-fledged arts ministries. These became our production companies, collaborative collections of skillful people who could fulfill the call to “Tell the Story” with music theatre.
Today those storytelling skills are focused on The Jesus Story Daily Devotions. Kingdom Winds has agreed to publish this re-telling of the Jesus Story every day. Join me here! This is what you will find:
- A short story, about 500 words, based on an incident or a character from the Jesus Story,
- The Scripture readings that are the source, and sometimes the commentary, on the story,
- A prayer that springs from the truths presented in the story, and
- A song, usually an old song, that celebrates the truth for that day.
These are not your one-minute-daily-devotions! If you will give them time, they will lead you into your day, if you use them in the morning, or cap off your day, if you are a night person, with a helpful thought or insight into the Christian life.
These narrative devotions are products of my imagination as I visualize the scene from Scripture, filling in details that are possible but are not presented as actual history. For this reason, I always supply the words from the Bible which are the source of my faith-based fiction.
It all begins in December with The Christmas Story drawn from all Gospel accounts. You can then begin the New Year with The Jesus Story: The Gospel of Mark in January and February. The Spring edition uses the Gospel of Matthew. The Gospel of Luke follows for the summer months and the year ends in September through November with John’s Gospel.
My mentor in worship studies, the late Dr. Robert E. Webber, confirmed my pastoral passion to tell The Jesus Story. He taught that all spiritualities are based on a story. He called it the meta-narrative. This is the story that tells us:
- who made the world and why,
- who we are and what we are supposed to do, and
- what happens when we die.
It is true. Secular people say there is no God, or if there is one, we cannot know him/her/it. The world has no meaning beyond the meaning we give it. We are the result of blind chance, a big bang that is really more of a whimper, and when we die that is the end of us. No wonder there is such hatred, violence, addiction, and despair in this world.
Those who know the Jesus of The Jesus Story, know better. There is a God who loves us and this was proven at the Cross. God is good and His mercy endures forever and this was proven at the Empty Tomb. Each of us has worth and purpose and a glorious eternity awaiting us; this is proven each day as we live our chapter of The Jesus Story.
Join me here each day.
To read the first devotion in this series, click here!
Dr. Stephen Phifer is a Bible teacher an inspirational writer who lives in Bartow, FL. A credentialed minister for more than 50 years he has served as a music minister, staff pastor, high school band director, college professor, and a denominational representative.