Posts Tagged ‘outline’

The Untold Story of Christmas

December 20, 2011 Leave a comment

This year I made a video that tells a little known angle of the Christmas story that also incorporates some well known Bible stories that play a role as well. The video can be seen at with a Spanish version here. Let’s explore this subject and ask some questions:

Who? In an obscure passage, Revelation 12, we see the Nativity scene as it really was in the spiritual realm. There is no mention of angels, shepherds, wise men, or even Joseph. The missing piece of our nativity scenes is a huge, vile red dragon. In case John’s apocalyptic description of the enemy is not clear, he tells us in verse 9 that the Dragon is in fact Satan, that ancient serpent. What? Here we get a behind the scenes look at what was really happening at Christ’s birth, throughout his life, and even before. Down through history, Satan has constantly pursued the destruction of Jesus. There is a thread found throughout the entire Bible– hostility between the seed of the woman and the dragon. Revelation 12 is simply the starting point. From there, you can trace the Dragon’s efforts to undo God’s promise from Genesis right on up until Bethlehem.

Why? A major source of inspiration for this video was found in Chapter 11 of More Than Conquerors, by William Hendriksen. The author links classic stories of the Bible with Satan’s attempts to destroy the promised Messiah, the Savior, the one who would reverse the curse. He was targeted way before He was even born, for if one destroys the line from which He will come, then in so doing one has destroyed Him.

When and How? The initial conflict begins, like most concepts, in the beginning. Genesis 3:15 is the first Messianic prophecy. It brings to the forefront the hostility between the “woman’s seed” and the Dragon or serpent. We then see the conflict played out in scripture through many different people and events. However, John sees the whole picture in his vision; the revelation comes to him unveiled. Lift the veil and you will see that the Dragon is behind all of these attacks like a puppet-master pulling strings. From Seth to the Flood (Genesis 3-9) Adam and Eve’s son, Abel, pleased the Lord with his sacrifice, but in a jealous anger, his brother, Cain, slays him. Another son is born who will bear the promise– Seth. The dragon whispers to Seth’s descendants to marry the daughters of Cain, trying to annihilate future generations. Wickedness prevails, but there is one who fears the Lord– Noah (Genesis 6), who builds an ark and whose family is spared from God’s judgment in the flood so the promise will continue.

From the Flood to Jacob (Genesis 10-50) The promise-bearer is now Abraham, but he is old, and Sarah is barren. How can they bring the promised one into the world? The promise is given to their miracle-child, Isaac. But later he and Rebekah have the same problem. She cannot bear any children (Genesis 25). Again, a barren woman gives birth miraculously, and Jacob is born. The attacks do not stop there. Jacob deceives his father and receives the blessing that belonged to Esau. He flees from his own brother in fear. Years later he comes home terrified. He is afraid that Esau will kill him. He tries to butter him up with gifts before he arrives. There’s no need. Esau does not kill him. Instead, they embrace. (Genesis 32-33) The promise moves forward.

From Jacob to the Jews in the desert. (Exodus) The dragon now stands before the woman in the form of Jacob’s descendants, the Jews. After being led out of Egypt after 430 years of slavery (Exodus 12:40) they come to Mount Sinai. God has already given them His law, and they have agreed to it with one voice. But while Moses is up on the mountain, a restless and impatient people get Aaron to make them an idol– a golden calf. If Sinai is the marriage ceremony between God and Israel, then during the honeymoon, there is blatant cheating taking place! God most definitely had the right to be angry. God’s anger burns as they dance around this object. He wants to consume them, but Moses intercedes and the promise is salvaged again. (Exodus 32)

From the Jews in the desert to David, the king. Out of the tribe of Judah God chooses one family to be heirs of the promise made back in the garden of Eden. That family is David’s (2 Sa. 7:12ff; Ps. 89:29, 35, 36; Je. 23:5; Acts 2:30). He is now targeted by the Dragon. Saul, the current king, knows that David will be or even is greater than he. In fits of anger and jealousy Saul hurls spears at David, which he successfully dodges. He eventually has to flee and roam the wilderness, as Saul continues to pursue him with the full force of the army, with the exception of those who defected to be among David’s rag-tag group of mighty men. David escapes Saul’s attempts on his life and in time comes to sit on the throne as Israel’s king.

From David to Queen Athaliah. Athaliah, the daughter of wicked Ahab and Jezebel, now reigns. She has power, but wants more. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. In order to attain absolute power she is intent on killing all of David’s family. If all the royal seed is destroyed, then she will maintain control. Draw back the curtain again and see that the Dragon knows full well that if all the royal seed is destroyed, then Christ cannot be born as the legal heir of David’s throne, as stated in God’s promise. However, we read in 2 Kings 11:1, 2ff “Jehosheba…took Joash…and stole him away from the royal princes who were about to be murdered. She put him and his nurse in a bedroom to hide him from Athaliah; so he was not killed.” We later see the boy Joash being crowned as the people cheer, “Long live the king!”

From Athaliah to Esther (Book of Esther) Fast-forward to the 5th century. God’s providence continues in the story of Esther. Though God’s name is never mentioned in this short little book, you see His hand throughout the entire story. As the Dragon plots through Haman to commit genocide and obliterate the whole Jewish race, God is also moving in the background. An amazing chain of events takes place, and through Esther and Mordecai the promise is saved from this evil plot.

From Esther to Bethlehem There are indeed more stories, but we finally end up at Bethlehem for our final act. The child of the promise is finally about to be born. As Paul writes in Galatians 4:4, this takes place in the “fullness of time.” But there are many hurdles to overcome. First of all, Joseph needs convincing that this pregnancy is from God. He is betrothed to Mary, but has not yet been intimate with her. Now that she is expecting, he, being a righteous man decides to divorce her quietly. In the small town of Nazareth, though, rumors were probably already populating minds and mouths. He could have had her stoned! But she and the child will need his full support. So an angel appears to him in a dream to explain the full scale of the situation.

Matthew 1:23 records that the angel told Joseph that “all this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: ‘The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel’ (which means ‘God with us’).” Then we read in verses 24-25 that “When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.” Disaster one is averted, but the Dragon is relentless.

In Matthew 2 we see the wise men or the magi. (They technically didn’t arrive until much later, so they don’t belong on our nativity scenes either!) They show up on king Herod’s door step asking, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” This troubles Herod greatly, and the text says all of Jerusalem with him. This jealous and paranoid king decides that he cannot allow another king to be born and challenge his power. He has heard the rumors and puts a plan in action. Herod asks the religious leaders where this Messiah was to be born. They recite Micah 5, and name the place: Bethlehem. He then tells the wise men, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.” He did not want to worship him. He wanted to kill him!

God intervenes yet again. After the wise men find the Christ-child, an angel warns them to leave by a different route and not to go back to Herod. When Herod realizes the wise men failed to provide him with his information, he takes matters into his own hands. He will search for the child. Then, it gets worse. When he doesn’t find him, he slays all of the infant males in Bethlehem. However, an another angel warns Joseph about Herod’s plan and tells him to flee to Egypt. And the gifts from the wise men may have been just what this poor family needed to fund the trip! King Herod failed, but more importantly the Dragon failed yet again. The Dragon could not triumph since the beginning and will certainly not triumph in the future.

Bonus Material: Another great resource for illustrating this passage comes from the late Dr. Robert Lowery, a brilliant scholar of Revelation. “Christmas on Patmos: a Woman, a Child, and a Dragon”- It is worth reading in its entirety (especially the section on the term “Behold!”.) In this wonderful little article Dr. Lowery muses:

John’s rendition offers conflict not carols, war not worship. It is a PG-13, if not R-rated, rendering of the story. Some scenes are too intense for young audiences, indeed for audiences of all ages. There is no sentimental Christmas story here: no cozy fireplace, only a fire-breath ing dragon; no cookie-eating Santa dressed in red, only a red dragon ready to devour the baby Jesus; no cuddly animals lowing, only a cunning dragon sweeping his tail across the heavens. Can you imagine a dragon becoming a regular in a Christmas story performed by little children? Who would want the role? Can you picture a well-known company printing Christmas cards with a red dragon lurking behind the manger scene? Of course not! Someone else already lays claim to the color red this time of year, we would be told. Let’s not confuse the public.

This is a reality in scripture and in our life too. Many church-going people are either skeptical of this truth or oblivious to it. We, as Christians, need to be aware of it, but also be confident that the ultimate victory is won already. Christ is the conqueror. He has vanquished the enemy. The Dragon is defeated. The rest of Revelation 12 reminds us that since he was unsuccessful in destroying the Messiah, he has turned his fury against the rest of the woman’s seed…that’s us! But rest assured that God’s purposes and His promises can never ever be frustrated. If a long history lesson can teach us anything, it is that God is infinitely more powerful than any seven headed, seven crowned, and ten horned dragon. Glory to God Most High. We too are on the winning side. Paul sums it up beautifully in Romans 8:37-39:

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Thinking Outside

December 5, 2011 Leave a comment

Download the pdf of this post from Christian Video Magazine- here.

This last mini-movie I made was a beast to edit…and I mean that quite literally. It is about the greatest of beasts which draws its inspiration from an obscure passage in Revelation. Here are some helpful little revelations about the creative process that I gleaned through my experience with this project, which by the way can be found at

Let this video help you to tell the Christmas story in a new but a very Biblical way.

(4-page Leader’s Guide PDF included!)

1) Think Outside the Manger

You thought I’d say “box”, but that would be cliche, and therefore not “outside-the-box” thinking. When it comes to creating a Christmas illustration, we need to think outside the manger. In other words, do something that hasn’t been done already a million times over. A creative person scraping the bottom of the barrel, recycling old, used ideas just isn’t attractive. I know, I know. There’s nothing new under the sun. However, we can present a new/ old idea in a new way. Or we can bring to light something that is new to most people. It’s like when I talk about my new camera lens, it’s not actually new; it’s slightly used, but it’s new to me.

This video has been a long time coming. I taught a class on Revelation at church and actually preached on the Red Dragon of Christmas last year. It’s taken me all of this time to muster the courage to piece together this video and companion leader’s guide. Why courage? There’s a risk in creating something that is different. How will it be received? I don’t know. But we will see. As a pastor, I know what it’s like to come to Christmas every year and wonder how I’m going to bring something fresh this time. The Red Dragon of Christmas certainly would be something that many never would have even considered, but will others now take the risk in showing this video and building their message around this obscure passage? Many pastors are even afraid to get into the book of Revelation beyond chapter three. These types of questions are always on the back of your mind as a creator, but is the unknowing a deal breaker? It is not. You won’t know until you publish. If you ship it off you’ll find out the answer. If you don’t, you’ll never know. So, create something plain and safe, or go outside of your comfort zone to bring a potentially great and impacting creation from conception to follow through all the way to completion. More on this later.

2) Bring in Outside Help

When making something that was a big idea in your mind, you may have to venture outside of yourself to execute that idea effectively. The vision may be larger than your ability to accomplish on your own. That’s is absolutely fine. Bring in outside help. Nobody can be an expert or even decent at everything. John Dickson does a great job in his book Humilitas of defining humility in part as common sense. In that chapter he tells a joke:

There was a plane, and the pilot comes across the radio and says “Attention all passengers. I have some bad news. We are going to crash.” Now, there were three others on board this aircraft, four including the pilot. The pilot says, “The good news is, there are parachutes. The bad news is there are only three. This is my plane, I’m the pilot, and I’m going to take one.” So he straps on a parachute and out he jumps. Now, remaining on board was a brilliant professor, a minister of religion, and a backpacker, with only two parachutes. The brilliant professor jumps up and says, “I’m a brilliant professor; I have lots to achieve in this world; I can create and donate to mankind; I need a parachute.” He straps one on and jumps out of the plane. Left behind is the minister of religion and the backpacker. The minister turns to the backpacker and said, “Look, I’ve had a long life; I’ve enjoyed my life; I know where I’m going. You take the final parachute.” The backpacker stops him and says, “No, wait. That brilliant professor, he just jumped out with my backpack.” While the story is not true, it clearly demonstrates how expertise in one area counts for little in another.

So as Dickson illustrates, while I may be OK at animating, I’m not very good at drawing. Here I needed some original dragon art that I could use and animate, but Illustrator is a program that I hardly ever use! It’s time to phone a friend. Actually I Facebooked him (if that’s a verb). I later went through and explained the crazy concept. Though we live in different states, we were able to collaborate on this project. Without him, I wouldn’t have original dragon art. And if the title is “The Red Dragon of Christmas” I probably need some dragon in the video.

That’s not where the collaborating ended. If you’re a one man team like me, then you are easily tempted to do everything yourself. That way you have more control over it, and you get it the way you want it. That’s all fine and well. More power to you, but know that maybe, just maybe, quite possibly, actually, it could be better if you brought in outside help. This particular had an enormous menacing voice-over. If you look at my videos, you’ll find that I do most of my own voice-overs. It’s easier that way. No need to bother anyone else. On this one, I broke down and said to myself that I should find someone else. The first person I had in mind was a personal friend who is a professional radio voice. Though he too lives in another state, these days that doesn’t mean you can’t collaborate. He did a fabulous job. Only had to fix one pronunciation, and I was ready to build a score around his wonderful narration.
3) Expect Resistance from the Outside
I have my original dragon art. I have my audio done. I’m looking at the calendar. I set a deadline for myself. I get the weekend that I’m supposed to use to piece this thing together. All is ready to go…except for me. The moment I’ve been planning for a year has arrived. I’ve blocked out many other activities to dedicate this time for editing, something I love to do, and yet I want to do anything else but this. Fear is creeping in. Is anyone going to be bold enough to use this? Will they even like it? I don’t know how to create a fire effect or smoke. Will people think this is tacky? Why is a public domain picture of Athaliah so hard to find? All of this is called resistance.

If you haven’t watched my dragon video yet, let me give you the cliff-notes right now. (If you want to go a lot more in depth, it packs a lot of info, and I give you even more in the 4 page pdf that comes with the download.) The video is about the missing piece in our nativity scenes. Not the angels, or shepherds, wise men, or even Joseph. According to Revelation 12 a large Red Dragon was present there in Bethlehem, trying to destroy the child. This is something he been trying to do ever since Genesis 3. He is identified as Satan, the ancient serpent in verse 9. The video chronicles many times throughout scripture that he attempts to undo God’s promise, but is unsuccessful.

I am making a video about our enemy, exposing him for what he is. My wife told me that he probably didn’t want me making this video. That was some of the push-back, the wanting to give up, the self-doubting, the procrastination. In Gary Molander’s new book (I interviewed him in the last edition) he has a section on creative blocks and resistance. On pgs 80-82 he gives it a name. Satan. Interestingly enough, he even quotes Revelation 12, the very passage I was to be animating. Gary writes, “The most important line is the last one – the one that says that Satan is coming after Christ-followers with a rage and with vengeance. You hurt a Father most by harming His children.” I tweeted Gary and he and others actually prayed for me that day. In two days of hard work, the video was done. If you expect resistance, you can counter it. In your next project think “outside”.

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