Wednesday, May 27

My how times have changed!

My Mother, Phillis, recently revealed a closeted secret. When she was a young girl growing up in Prim, Arkansas, sometimes the family would skip church Sunday nights to watch “Country Hoedown” on TV.

This was no small event. The vibrant, Holiness church they attended was located just down the street, and everybody knew everybody in that tiny town. People would notice. Skipping an evening service could lead to jean-wearing, hair-bobbing and… TV watching!

Televisions were bad news in Prim. My grandparents hid theirs in the closet during the daylight hours. But when the hot Arkansas sun would set, the window blinds would remain closed, the closet door would be swung open and that TV would be switched on. A towel would be placed on the windowsill so the flickering blue sin light of the TV could not be seen by any of the righteous acquaintances that drove past.

Fast forward 66 years or so. Last Monday I watched a recorded live-stream of that same Holiness congregation on my flickering computer monitor. It was their second attempt to reach out to their coronavirus quarantined congregation, and I was cheering them on. The camera seemed bolted to the floor somewhere behind the second pew, and a not quite HD lockdown shot was wide enough to include the drums, piano, pulpit, and altar. But let me tell you, I was proud of them. The power of their devotion still ran through a live wire. The Preacher was on fire and the music, led by my second cousin was soulful. He belted the verses out like time had stood still. In fact, the only thing that seems to have changed was that I was able to watch THEM on my iMac Retina 5K, 27-inch colored sin light!

Wednesday, April 15

Wow, Easter was different this year!


Churches around the world were empty, BUT the church is very much alive! Media has become THE tool of communicating this message of love and hope to so many who are searching during this global crisis.

So, we are deep into post-production for The Heritage Project stories. We are so glad you continue to stand with us in this, so we continue to move forward to put Jesus’ stories on Every Screen even during quarantine! The urgency to release these stories has never been greater. 

I made this quick video on my phone earlier this winter, as I’m sure you can tell. I saw people worshipping saints at coffins in an orthodox catacomb. I could see how important it is to recognize the power of the resurrection! We recognize that our object of worship is to be Christ and he is not in a tomb! https://vimeo.com/395208261

Seeing this worship by glass coffins, made me think about Anthony. He is one of our legacy stories in The Heritage Project Season 2. He knew that we had to be intentional to follow God. Many people followed him into the desert in his devotion and dedication. Later, this would become the idea of monasteries. Anthony was acutely aware of the human tendency to worship something instead of God. He lived to a very old age and didn’t want his body to become revered. But where he spent his ending days has become a shrine in Egypt. We’ve made an effort in The Heritage Project to tell about the real man, without legends or myths, so people today will understand the importance for each of us to follow Christ – Christ alone.

“If we make every effort to avoid death of the body, still more should it be our endeavor to avoid death of the soul.” Anthony of Egypt.

Thursday, March 5

Reflections on Religious Practice

 I did this video and thought I'd share it here too.

It was one of those moments where it just hit me how important it is to be following Christ and not just religious practices. People were singing at glass coffins of Orthodox saints. As someone who grew up without formal traditions, I found this disturbing. I truly thought I was going to visit a historic site. I was so surprised to find that it was an active religious site and even more that people worship by coffins. The interesting thing is we as humans gravitate to certain lists that we want to check off to say, yes, I did my religious duty and I"m okay now. Christ calls us to a much different kind of "practice" - giving up self, taking up the cross and following him. This gets real when we have to love our neighbor as ourself, right?! Hope you are able to dig deep into what God's hope means to your day in and day out existence.

Wednesday, July 3

We Are Warriors
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again. Who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause. Who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.” ~ Theodore Roosevelt
It is not a long stretch to relate missions to the military life. Military mottos, taken from around the world, can apply and fit our passion: “To Liberate the Oppressed.” “Who Dares, Wins.” “So Others May Live.” “Always Dominate the Heights.” “By Strength and Guile.” And my unofficial favorite, “When circumstance closes a door, breach the wall and walk in like a Boss.”
What media production day does not demand strategy, planning, and endurance? 
We are encouraged by fellow believers who tell us we are “elite” and on the “front lines.” We are treated like heroes in Missions conventions. These are good things, as they fortify us as we strive to accomplish the expectations and live up to the ideals of the title. But consider these two quotes for a little bit of levity: 
“There is many a boy here today who looks on war as all glory, but, boys (and girls), it is all hell” ~ General William Tecumseh Sherman
"The most important qualification of a soldier is fortitude under fatigue and privation. Courage is only second; hardship, poverty and want are the best school for a soldier." ~ General Napoleon Bonaparte
“Build me a son, Oh Lord, who will be strong enough to know when he is weak, and brave enough to face himself when he is afraid, one who will be proud and unbending in honest defeat, and humble and gentle in victory.” ~ General Douglas MacArthur
I have found that saying “Yes” to God’s call to serve in missions has led me to some strange proving grounds. Crawling under barbed-wire in the mud with live rounds above you? I could find a missionary metaphor for that, and other things, like running up hills till you want to throw up breakfast and eating bugs for lunch. See how it fits? However, what has shocked me is how God reaches way, way back into our lives and salvages the skills we would choose to forget, skills we learned living in a broken world in a broken system. 
What is that terrible skill you have? I learned at a young age to walk quietly and steadily through emotionally overloaded environments, maybe not seeing God in the situation, but knowing He had my back. I also learned perseverance while carrying a full pack through a religious swamp of conditional love, and refusing to give up because the God who slogged with me never left.
Let us not despise the days of our youth, but see God’s hand in our strivings, salvaging our earlier testings and conditioning our spirits for the days when we have to breach the walls for the Kingdom of God and set the captives free.

Wednesday, February 27

FLAT TIRES – BAD DAY OR GOD'S PLAN?



Last week, we drove 4 hours to the coast where we would shoot a big part of three of The Heritage stories. During that drive, one of our vans got a flat tire. I am very thankful we have proper insurance and the driver (a volunteer only here to help with logistics during the shoot) was able to get to the side of the road safely. I'm also thankful, that a person who lives in Spain was in the van. (We didn’t plan that. It just worked out!) He was able to communicate with the insurance company and tow truck about where they were and what they needed. But, he didn’t speak English. Thankfully, again, an American volunteer in the van was able to translate for the English speakers so everyone could understand what was happening as they waited on the side of the road. Whew! Lots of terrific coincidences — these were truly God providing for a hard moment. They got back on the road with only an hour and a half lost. Whew!

I was in another vehicle, but I was worried. That van had all the racks to hang up costumes. Thank goodness no one was hurt and everyone stayed in good spirits.

Then, NO, NO, NO, another flat tire!! Are kidding me? We checked this all out before we left home. A different person was behind the wheel but again was able to safely gets to the side of the road. Having a tire blow out can be dangerous, but God kept them safe. Only now, it is much later in the day. No one was open to make the repair.

In missions, flexibility is the key, but boy, were we being tested. There were too many people in the van for one taxi. So, they had to call two to get them to our destination. The van and all the clothing racks would have to be left in another city until the following day.

Back at the shooting site, we took advantage of a kitchen in the back of our Roman court set and hung costumes from weird oven racks. It wasn’t ideal, but God made a way.

Taxi #2 had another passenger. She, too, had gotten a flat tire. This taxi seemed to get quite lost. It took them one hour longer to complete the drive than Taxi #1. During that extra hour, our team members chatted with the other passenger – an English speaking woman. They led her back to God. She had wandered away from God, but during this ride, she recommitted her life back to Him and made new friends.

Leave it to God to use THREE flat tires to orchestrate the right moment to talk to someone who needed Him.

Incredible.


Friday, June 22

IMM Forever


The phrase “IMM Forever” began as a reminder to tell out-going staff that once they served here at IMM, they were always part of the IMM team. We still use the phrase when we say goodbye on the steps or at the airport gates. I’ve even heard rumors of mandatory IMM tattoos being part of the on-boarding process. In short, alumni will always be a valued component of what makes IMM tick.

However, I was musing on the phrase and realized that the meaning is much deeper than a loyalty motto. Our media missions endeavor that reaches out from this small, but potent, production house, reaches out into eternity.

I worked many jobs that used my creative skills to assist in the here and now. I edited cosmetic surgery videos, built infinity pool ads for glossy magazines, and even wrote a few feature stories for small circulation weekly newspapers. But when I began hearing and responded to the call, I realized that God wanted me to use these gifts for an eternal purpose. This has always been the passion of IMM, broadcasting the Gospel and bringing the people whom God created into eternity with Him.

There are quite a few days when I want to just make it to the end of the week. Busy schedules, roadblocks, logistical problems and cultural challenges that seem to have the mark of spiritual warfare upon them; many daily expectations not meeting my list of demands; this is the daily grind. But we must remember, the support invested in this passion and the work that leaves our hands will stretch into next year, and the next. It will stretch far beyond this broken epoch and reach into eternity. IMM forever!



Tuesday, February 6

Mysterious ways



We asked a young actress who has worked with us before to play the part of Perpetua. In the diaries of Perpetua and the documents appended by Christians after her death, it mentions that she sang a song while she was in the arena before they released the wild animals to attack.

Pearl, the actress, and I were trying to find a song she could sing in this scene without copyrights and not too modern sounding. We hadn't found anything that felt right. Pearl sent me two scripture verses that she felt could fit the story.

Psalm 23:1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 Timothy 1:7 For God gave us not a spirit of fearfulness but of power and love and discipline.

But still we had no song. Pearl admitted to herself and me she is not a musician, but she prayed. She went for a walk and felt suddenly a tune in her heart. It is haunting and ancient sounding - just right for the time period.

When she went back to the apartment where she was staying and converted the verses into latin -- they rhymed! Only God can do really incredible things like that. So Pearl sang this in the arena and then also in the studio so we'd have a crisper piece of audio. It was such fun realizing that the Holy Spirit had given us a song rather than searching for rights for something that was too modern! Marvelous! Unexpected.

Recently we heard of a young lady named "Mary" who lives in a city near where Perpetua and her fellow Christians were martyred 1900 years ago in North Africa. And Mary had no idea. She was excited to know that she is not the first single woman making her way in this part of the world to accept the radicalness of faith in Jesus Christ. Mary dreams of being able to find a Christian to marry but her family don't know she is a Christian. She is afraid when she announces her faith publicly they will rush her into marriage with a Muslim. The stories of the martyrs were encouraging to her and she is anxious to see The Heritage stories -- of her heritage and people from her land. We are anxious to get them to her. Pray for her that God would give her a song and strength for the journey.