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Episode 6: Fish & Birds

Eden, Earth – And God said, “Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky.” So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living and moving thing with which the water teems, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the fifth day.

Episode 5: Is the sky falling?

Eden, Earth – And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth.” And it was so. God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. God set them in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth, to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the fourth day.

Life with Lively: The Stars at Night are Big and Bright….

Probably my favorite time of the year is around the second week of November. Every year around that time the Earth passes through the path of a comet called Tempel-Tuttle. This results in an annual meteor shower call the Leonids. This is one of the most brilliant displays of cosmic awesomeness with its peak reaching 2000+ meteors an hour. It just so happens that the Leonids are timed to when sky watching conditions are perfect our here in Texas. Usually we have just had our first hard freeze and have had a strong cold front to clear the air, and of course, being out in the middle of nowhere we don’t have to worry about light noise from the cities. You can go out to a field or pasture and just spend hours watching countless meteorites fall from the sky.
Yes, I’m a space nut. I have gotten up at two in the morning and watched the astronauts install a toilet in the space station on the NASA channel. I’ve tried to catch anytime the space shuttle or space station is visible overhead. (Sadly I was up watching overhead the morning Columbia broke up). I even have a space shuttle model hanging over my bed. The point is I like space!! But several years ago I got a dose of reality that I was taking what I had for granted.
Years ago, I was dating a girl from Dallas. It was one of those long distant doomed to fail things, but things progressed to the point that she made the trip across the state to visit. We had dinner at my parents and I was driving her back to town to the local bed and breakfast, when she asked me to pull over. She got out of my truck and started looking up at the sky. I asked if something was wrong and she pointed upwards and said, “I’ve never seen so many stars. Are there always this many out at night?” I was confused, “Of course there are, don’t they have stars in Dallas?” She said that in Dallas you were lucky if you could see a dozen or so stars because the city lights blocked them out.
As I’ve matured I’ve always had in the back of my mind that there are a lot of stars out there, even if I’m somewhere I can’t see them all, they are still there, serving God’s purpose. This has been a reminder the past few weeks at our church. We just recently finished VBS. Our church takes VBS very seriously. Our community has a lot of families who won’t come to church but will send their kids. Our church has taken children and youth ministry and its calling and we give 110% focus to things like VBS. Most of the kids get to know their teacher, their craft leader, the music leader and the preacher, but VBS would not happen without a lot of those little stars that no one can see, unless you look for them.
The same goes with Bible News Network, sure each week we see Raymond O’Neil, Brad Bartelloni and Tad Shultz, but what about the people behind the camera? There are lots of people behind back there making things happen. Do you realize how much makeup it takes to make Tad Shultz presentable? Who do you think brings Brad Bartelloni his Carl’s Jr “Big Bacon Classic”?
All kidding aside, God’s work is done by lots of people. Some get more attention than others, but every part is important. We are all a part of one body each with its function. If my knee isn’t working right the rest of my body will begin to suffer. I can’t get on this subject without talking about my mom. She suffered from kidney failure. She spent 7 years on dialysis because her kidneys stopped doing their part. But she didn’t pass away from kidney failure. She died of a heart attack. Her heart gave out because her kidneys weren’t doing their part to filter her blood. The poisons in her body weakened her heart to the point of failure.
There are times when we feel our part in God’s body is small and insignificant. We start thinking “oh well, no one will notice if I don’t do my part.” That’s when the chain starts to weaken. That’s when the momentum starts to slow. I’m a substitute Sunday school teacher; doesn’t seem that important. But what if there was no one to step in and take a class when a teacher went out of town, or had an emergency. The dominos would begin to fall.
The fact is this: Just like there are countless stars in the sky of varying brightness, there are countless places to serve God’s plan. Not all are glamorous. There is no guarantee of fame (not really the point of service anyway). But once you find that place where God wants you to serve, be ready because you will shine. Remember, each and every star in the sky, no matter how bright they seem to us; they are a sun with their own set of planetary bodies revolving around them. So shine on baby!!
This week’s passage is Romans 12:1-21 (The Message): So here’s what I want you to do, with God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, and develops well-formed maturity in you.
I’m speaking to you out of deep gratitude for all that God has given me, and especially as I have responsibilities in relation to you. Living then, as every one of you does, in pure grace, it’s important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him.
In this way we are like the various parts of a human body. Each part gets its meaning from the body as a whole, not the other way around. The body we’re talking about is Christ’s body of chosen people. Each of us finds our meaning and function as a part of his body. But as a chopped-off finger or cut-off toe we wouldn’t amount to much, would we? So since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously functioning parts in Christ’s body, let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren’t.
If you preach, just preach God’s Message, nothing else; if you help, just help, don’t take over; if you teach, stick to your teaching; if you give encouraging guidance, be careful that you don’t get bossy; if you’re put in charge, don’t manipulate; if you’re called to give aid to people in distress, keep your eyes open and be quick to respond; if you work with the disadvantaged, don’t let yourself get irritated with them or depressed by them. Keep a smile on your face.
Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle.
Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don’t quit in hard times; pray all the harder. Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality.
Bless your enemies; no cursing under your breath. Laugh with your happy friends when they’re happy; share tears when they’re down. Get along with each other; don’t be stuck-up. Make friends with nobodies; don’t be the great somebody.
Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody. Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do. ‘I’ll do the judging,’ says God. ‘I’ll take care of it.'”
Our Scriptures tell us that if you see your enemy hungry, go buy that person lunch, or if he’s thirsty, get him a drink. Your generosity will surprise him with goodness. Don’t let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good.

Brocke Lively is a lifelong Texan from a little town called Olton.
Brocke and his wife, Lela, have 5 kids, 2 dogs, 5 cats, 2 chickens, and what seems like a revolving door of neighbor kids coming over to play. As a father, Brocke recognizes that how he lives his life, and how he worships God not only reflects on his own salvation, but ripples to how his kids worship God.
Brocke attends a small town church where he is known as an on-call substitute Sunday school teacher. He recognizes that his church family is also a large part of who he is, and who he want his kids to grow up to be; God-fearing followers of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Life with Lively: Lawncare Tips and More

It’s funny how things work together. The last time we visited, God had created water, and I got the opportunity to talk about all the water we had recently received in the way of rainfall. Now, we discover that God has created dry land, and placed the plants upon it. So this week we are going to talk about plants.
Thanks to the recent rains, plants around here are growing like mad. My wife, Lela, has planted a garden; it’s not a huge plantation, just a four foot by eight foot patch of green beans, some carrots, tomatoes, sweet peppers and cantaloupes. The cantaloupe patch scares me; it’s huge and full of blooms so if the weather holds, we will be deep in the cantaloupe business in a few weeks. We’ve already had our first bean harvest. We filled up a four gallon bucket full of green beans, and they are back to producing their next harvest.
And of course the rain has caused my grass to grow, and magnified an annual argument that I have with my neighbor.
Before I go any further with this I have to explain something, and provide a disclaimer. My neighbor is my grandmother. I love my grandmother very much, and if at any point in this piece you find humor, please note that I am in no way poking fun at her or am I trying to make her look foolish. (I have to put this in here because I have some relatives who do not understand the humor called sarcasm.)
So, with all legalities aside, let me tell you a little about my lawn. Most people around here grow Bermuda grass. It is a hearty grass that does well in our relatively hot dry climate. When treated right it makes even the roughest lawn a smooth velvety surface to walk barefoot on a summer night. Now there are two schools of thought as to how to treat Bermuda grass.
There is the “old school” method. This method consists of mowing the grass down to less than one inch tall (putting green height). Sure it means you don’t have to mow as often, but when you cut it down, you have to replace nutrients with lots of fertilizer, and you can also expect a high water bill.
I subscribe the “new school” method. I cut my grass at a height of three inches. When I water, the ground stays damp longer due to the natural shade the grass provides. In this cool damp environment, the clippings turn to mulch meaning I spend less on fertilizer.
This drives my grandmother crazy. So every year we have a debate over how I don’t mow my grass like I should.
Unfortunately, Christians today are cutting their spiritual lawns short. We get so wrapped up in being “politically correct” that our message gets diluted. Instead of boldly proclaiming Jesus, we whisper afraid that someone might be offended. We even go so far as to allow the enemy to convince us that Jesus was “the great appeaser;” and one who never offended others. Well, check out Matthew 15.
The Pharisees came to Jesus and the disciples and were offended by what they saw. They got upset because the disciples did not wash their hands before dinner, a major Jewish taboo. But Jesus knew that there were bigger lessons to learn. He didn’t apologize. He didn’t run off and make everyone wash their hands, he pointed out in verse 11: It’s not what goes into the mouth that defiles a man, but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man. He basically accused the Pharisees of committing greater sin. He didn’t back down and start apologizing. He didn’t beg for forgiveness. He boldly proclaimed the Gospel.
This is the example that Jesus set for us, and every time we cut ourselves back, and apologize for being Christians, we have to make up ground to find boldness again. The internet is full of news stories about how Christians are being unfair and not giving other “religions” their fair due. Well guess what? Those other religions are just bunk. Buddha and Mohammed are still lying in their graves while our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ has ascended into heaven in front of several witnesses. At Jesus’ last appearance, He commanded all Christians to boldly proclaim His message to all nations.
I really don’t want this devotional time to become political, but it’s no secret that our nation is coming to a crossroad. The question I want to ask is this: Are we as Christians going to quietly ride the currents of “public” opinions? Or, are we going to find boldness and stand for the beliefs that our savior instructed us to follow?
Pray also for me, that the message may be given to me when I open my mouth to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel. Ephesians 6:19

Brocke Lively is a lifelong Texan from a little town called Olton.
Brocke and his wife, Lela, have 5 kids, 2 dogs, 5 cats, 2 chickens, and what seems like a revolving door of neighbor kids coming over to play. As a father, Brocke recognizes that how he lives his life, and how he worships God not only reflects on his own salvation, but ripples to how his kids worship God.
Brocke attends a small town church where he is known as an on-call substitute Sunday school teacher. He recognizes that his church family is also a large part of who he is, and who he want his kids to grow up to be; God-fearing followers of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Episode 4: God Creates Land

Eden, Earth – Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so. The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the third day.

Life with Lively: Water, Water, Everywhere!

It’s ironic that this week’s episode of BNN is about God creating water. In the past week we have had an abundance of water here in West Texas. Normally we get a few showers here and there; just enough to nourish the crops and plants, but this year has been different. It started on July 2nd with Hurricane Alex. After making a landfill, all of her moisture came right up here where I live. We were on the western edge of the system, so in Olton we got somewhere in the area of 2 ½ to 2 ¾ inches of rain. However, just 25 miles to the east in Plainview where I work, they got 5 to 6 inches of rain at the landfill. For the Fourth of July (it was actually on the 3rd) we went to my dad’s in Lorenzo, about 50 miles southeast of my home. We got there to find a lot of water. I spent the day standing in ankle deep water stirring a pot of beans. Water, for the first time that I can remember, is in abundance in this part of the country.
I will admit it is a nice change of pace to see the lakes full, and to see creeks flowing again –although it has made for a rough week at work; just driving around the landfill has been a challenge. But God has blessed our part of the country, and for that I am thankful.
One thing that has struck me as funny has been a constant question that lots of people keep asking. “Where did all this water come from?” I can’t help but smirk at that because it brings me back to when I was in 3rd grade. My dad was in charge of the city water system in Olton when I was in school, and my teacher had asked him to come and give a talk about water and water conservation. I remember he had a mason jar filled with water, and he held it up and proclaimed it was actual water from the Great Flood mentioned in Genesis. My classmates were taken aback with how cool that was. He passed the jar around and we all looked at it like it was a museum piece. One of my friends asked my dad where he could get some water from the flood and my dad pointed down the hall to the water fountain.
It’s one of those things we don’t really think about is it? The Bible says God created everything in the first seven days. God created water on Day 2, and when he did he created enough to last the lifetime of the universe. God knew on the second day of creation how much water we were going to need on July 9, 2010; and on July 10, and July 11 and so on.
Now admittedly, we have contaminated a lot of our water, and it will take a lot of effort to clean out the impurities to make it usable, but in that statement is today’s lesson.
In John 4: 13 and 14, Jesus says, “Everyone who drinks this water will get thirsty again. But no one who drinks the water I give will ever be thirsty again. The water I give is like a flowing fountain that gives eternal life.”
Jesus has given us a pure and simple way to salvation through him. Unfortunately, sometimes we allow that living water to become contaminated. We get so tied up with other things that we lose the joy of living a life free from sin.
This week I’m subbing in a Sunday school class and the lesson is in 1 Corinthians 11:17-26. It deals with how the Corinthian church had taken something as simple and pure as taking The Lords Supper and turned it into a show of who was the better Christian. The message had become contaminated, and because of that, remembering this important time in the life of Jesus, had lost its value to the Corinthians. So many times we get so wrapped up in what image we are portraying to others that we forget the purpose of worship is to glorify God.
Worshiping “The Living Water” is in itself perfect. We don’t need to add any flavorings, or sweeteners to it. God created us for His companionship, one on one with Him. We don’t have to put on a pre-tense of how great we want God to think we are. God doesn’t see our Christian T-shirts, he sees the person wearing the shirt. He knows that person and all the dirty little secrets that he is trying to keep.
Are we really drinking in the pure living water of Jesus or have we contaminated our lives, and just keep pouring in artificial agents to try to cover up the mess? I for one know that sometimes its best to just dump out all the crud in our lives and get a fresh cup of water. That is my prayer for this week: that I clear out all the impurities in my life and worship God pure clear and unfiltered.

Brocke Lively is a lifelong Texan from a little town called Olton.
Brocke and his wife, Lela, have 5 kids, 2 dogs, 5 cats, 2 chickens, and what seems like a revolving door of neighbor kids coming over to play. As a father, Brocke recognizes that how he lives his life, and how he worships God not only reflects on his own salvation, but ripples to how his kids worship God.
Brocke attends a small town church where he is known as an on-call substitute Sunday school teacher. He recognizes that his church family is also a large part of who he is, and who he want his kids to grow up to be; God-fearing followers of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Episode 3: God Separates the Waters

Earth, Universe – And God said, “Let there be an expanse between the waters to separate water from water.”  So God made the expanse and separated the water under the expanse from the water above it. And it was so. God called the expanse “sky.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the second day.

Episode 2: Let There Be Light

Universe, Existence –  And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and He separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.

The Creation… of BNN


God is amazing.

I wanted to write this, to sort of explain how BNN developed, and where I see it heading, but really, those first two lines pretty much sum it all up. I am simply amazed at what God has done with this thing so far, and I’m psyched out of my brain about the direction it has headed.

The “HOW”

Somewhere around 2007, my wife and I were having dinner with her sister and brother-in-law (Chris Quandt, who plays Brad Bartelloni). Quandt and I had already been recording an audio podcast, and were discussing how fun it would be to do a video podcast. We tossed around a few ideas, such as doing a news parody, and then Emily nailed it!
“Oooh, you should do a news report on Bible events!” She suggested!
We all agreed that this was a great idea, and we tossed around a few more ideas about it. A few months later, with some creative assistance from my wife, I wrote 3-4 scripts.

And then nothing happened.

For a few years, those scripts sat in my computer, gnawing at the back of my mind, but not really being used.

Then, in late 2009, I mentioned the concept to my pastor, Mike Butera.  He encouraged me to pursue it, and straight up asked me what I would need to get started.  Within a week, I had a green screen.  In January 2010, we ran some tests to see if we could even pull of any decent-looking green screening, which turned out way better than I expected.

After that, we started getting together on a monthly basis to film.  I would take the footage home, play around with it, and try to work out a lot of the visual aspects of the show (logos, titles, backgrounds, etc).  It’s truly a miracle that it turned out looking as halfway decent as it does.  Some of the original concepts for things, such as Raymond O’Neil’s studio background, and the lower-third design, were pretty lacking.  Thankfully, I had several other people –mainly Mike and Esther– who served as a separate set of eyes and ears. Without them, it would have looked kind of… well, lame.

On June 12, 2010, we launched the first episode of BNN, and held a premiere night at RiverCity Calvary Chapel, showing the first 4 episodes, along with some other short videos.

The “WHY”

What exactly IS BNN all about?  Why did we create it?

There are a few answers to that:

1. To Invest our Talents. You might be familiar with the parable about three servants who were given different sums of money  by their master.  Some invested the money and increased it, but one servant buried his money and never used it.  In the same way, I believe God has given each person gifts.  This could be talents, skills, knowledge, or even material or physical blessings.  I don’t want to bury my gifts; I want to invest, and produce something beyond what I was given in the first place.  For too long, I’ve not been pursuing such investments.  BNN is one way that will change.

2. To Provide Knowledge. Some of our viewers might not be familiar with the Bible, or some of the stories we’ll be covering.  Some viewers might not know what the Bible is truly about.  The message of the Bible is woven throughout the Old and New Testaments. It is my hope that, for some, BNN will be an introduction to the Bible and, ultimately, God.

3. To Provide Perspective. The great thing about the Bible is that it’s alive, and fluid.  It’s kind of like watching Back to the Future, where each time you watch it, you can notice something different, if you pay close attention.  You can have certain parts of the Bible practically memorized, and then you go through something in life, and you see that the verse you thought you had nailed down comes to have a whole new application to your life.
Our goal is to promote that sort of experience.  Maybe you’ve read a story in the Bible where such and such a thing happened, and such and such a person did something.  But  what if you stopped to ask:
What would that look like if I could observe it?
How would I react if I were witnessing these things?
How would that person react?
What would they say if they were interviewed?

These are some of the questions BNN will stop to ask.  Hopefully, this will help bridge the gap between “stories” of the Bible and the reality of the Bible.

4. To have fun! God has given everyone on the project a passion and a talent for what they do.  I believe God hand-picked people to be involved with this project. When God’s people get together to do His work, it’s truly a fulfilling experience.
I also believe very strongly that God has a sense of humor.  I think that humor is a gift that can be used to serve God, just like any other talent.  I hope you find yourself laughing as you watch each episode of BNN.

Well, there’s more to talk about… the “WHO” can be found on our cast and crew pages.  The “WHERE” (as in “where this is headed”) is currently TBD, but, if the enthusiasm and support that we’ve received so far is any indicator, all I know is that we could be headed for some very good places!

God Bless,

Chris Cowan
BNN Writer/Producer