So, I went to the Cincinnati Bengals game with some friends yesterday, and afterwards, I saw a couple things that burdened/frustrated me:
1) I saw many homeless people. They had positioned themselves near the stadium so the hoards of fans would have to pass them. I hear a lot of talk about how many homeless people there are in Los Angeles, and it's so true that L.A. is the homeless capital of the nation, but when I saw the people in Cincinnati, it opened my eyes to how many homeless people there are all over our nation. I hadn't seen so many homeless people in one spot (and in cold weather) since I did a night of work with the homeless in San Diego. It was moving to see all these people, and to think that they had no place to call home, or to be warm during the cold holiday season. I don't really have a major point with all of this other than to say it was heavy on me to witness it.
2) I saw what some people would call a "Hell, Fire, and Brimstone Preacher" standing on a box in the street, wearing a smock that said "You Deserve Hell" on it with Bible verses listed underneath, and condemning the passing Bengals and Lions fans for being sinners. He also passed judgement on us fans for watching football. I guess he didn't care to much for the fact that we had skipped, or cut out early from church to go to the game. So lame. Anyway, my friends and I stopped to listen to him and another man arguing. I assumed that this other man, who I will call "the father" as he had just finished watching the Bengals beat the Lions with his son, was a Christ-follower by the way he argued against the preacher (who might have actually been a Catholic priest, but I'll still call him "preacher"). I don't remember everything that was said, but essentially the preacher asked the father if he believed that we all deserve hell, and the father said, "Yes. I do." This made the preacher quite satisfied until the father continued, and told him, "But you're not telling them everything." He's quite right. The preacher was only telling these fans half of the story-- the first half, which is the hopeless half. I wanted to scream, "GRACE!" at the preacher, but I knew that wouldn't help. The father went on to talk about the love of Christ, but the preacher kept shutting him down. I also thought about going up to the father and telling him to just leave the preacher alone. Arguing with people like that does nothing, but enlarge their pride. They want you to argue. So stupid. But, of course, I said nothing, and my friends and I continued on. It frustrated me for a good while, and it still does when I think about it. All you can do is pray for people like that though.
Anyway, I just wanted to share about being burdened by the homeless of Cincinnati, and being frustrated by "Christians" who CYOP (create your own program) and choose not to follow the ministry of Jesus Christ.
Much has happened since my last life update. But I am not going to take the time to fill what few readers I may have in on everything that has happened. If you read my last life update post, you'll remember (or won't since it' s been almost 2 months) that I mentioned my grandfather was preparing to pass on. Well, he did shortly after I wrote about it. I flew back for his funeral. Despite the not-so-great circumstances, I had a wonderful time with family that I don't get to see often. Thanks for your prayers.
So what's on my mind now? Too much to write about, but I will say that I am in a weird, unmotivated mindset. I have some great travel/work opportunities coming up in the spring, but nothing major between now and when I go home for Christmas. I feel as though I'm in a state of just plan old survival. It's like I've let my mind go because all I can think about is getting home for Christmas. I've been picking up some random jobs here and there which has been a blessing, but I feel as though that is all that is ahead of me until I go home. When I work, I don't feel like this, and that's nice, but I typically have a few days off in between work, and that's when I feel tired and unmotivated. I'd give just about anything for it to be Christmas now, and for the new year to start.
Why do I want to get home for Christmas so bad? Well, for one, there's a certain girl I want to see, and two, I'm ready to start a new year. It's as if I've given up on 2009. Wow. That's sad. Now, the proactive, reasonable side of me says, "Get your ass in line, Andy. There's so much left to do in 2009." I'm more inclined to follow the voice of reason. There really is so much left for me to do here in L.A. in '09: I have more random jobs that lie ahead of me. I have people to meet. I have a script to work on. I have songs to finish writing.
(Despite all that "given up on 2009" crap, the girl is definitely the main reason I want to go home. Just being honest.)
Ah yes. I love processing in writing for you all to read. Anyway, all of that just to let you know where I'm at in life currently. There's so much more, but don't have the motivation to write about it all ;)
Once again, trying to process thoughts. Hope it makes sense, and is helpful to both you and me.
#1: What is compassion?
According to Webster's, compassion is a "sympathetic consciousness of others' distress together with a desire to alleviate it." Pretty good description. I would add that when we desire to alleviate the distress, we expect nothing in return.
Being compassionate requires that we be aware of those around us, and not be blinded by our own pride or selfish agenda. And not just being aware, but longing to do anything to help those in need. This includes people who may talk bad about you, or who have caused you pain in the past. I believe the biggest enemy of compassion is selfishness. When we are selfish, we only care about ourselves and that we are comfortable. We are too concerned with doing what we want to do that we won't take the time to help a stranger, or even a friend. For those of us who are Christians, we know that Christ felt compassion for the lost-- stranger, friend and foe ((Mark 6:34). This leads us to the next question...
#2: Can you call yourself a follower of Christ, and not have compassion for others?
You can't pick and choose those for whom you have compassion. If you have compassion within you, you have it, and if not, ask the Lord for it. I believe we all have compassion within us, we just don't all allow it to come forth because we are too prideful at times. I do not believe you can pick and choose whom you will have compassion for, and then call yourself a compassionate person. Christ had compassion for everyone. I can't think of anywhere in the Bible that specifically says he had compassion on everybody, including the Pharisees, but I'd like to believe that he did despite how much they disliked him and how many times he stumped them with his wisdom. They were lost-- sheep without a shepherd, and, as I said before, Christ had compassion for those who were lost. As Christians, we are called to be like Christ, and with that comes compassion for others, especially those who are in need.
Now I say that I believe we all have compassion somewhere within us, but thanks to certain people in my life, and my skeptic side, I feel that some people are just more compassionate than others. Or, I wonder, is it just that we show it in different ways? I know people who are Christians that sometimes I wonder if they have an ounce of compassion in them. I'm not talking about "Christians." I'm talking about people who follow Christ, and love the Lord and His will. Yet, still I wonder, do they have any compassion in them? And how does that affect their walk?
I sometimes find myself not wanting to have compassion for certain people, but like I said, you can't pick and choose. It frustrates me, but I can't help but have compassion for them. I wonder if Christ ever felt that way towards the Pharisees.
I consider myself a compassionate, sensitive person, but I also know that I have a lot more growing to do. I think the best way to go about it is to ask the Lord to break our hearts for what breaks His-- to break down our pride and selfishness that we might get ourselves out of the way and allow Him to step in. We can ask the Lord to show us compassion that we might learn how to show it to others. So many people in this world have been hurt by Christians, or the Church, because of our lack of compassion towards them (homosexuals, muslims, Hollywood, people who've had abortions, other denominations, etc). Christ would have compassion, and would open his arms to these people, so why won't we?
As always, please feel free to comment and add your own thoughts on the topic. I'd love to hear them because I'm sure there's so much more to it.
So, I'm back in L.A. after an amazing summer at the Ranch. I'm looking for work, and not having much success. Can't expect too much in the first week though. I do, however, have a contact to possibly to media work for a non-profit organization called Rock for Justice. Hopefully something pans out there. Also, my mom's dad, whom I call "Dadcu" (Dodd-kee), which is welsh for "grandfather," is in very bad health. We're all pretty sure he's on his way out, and it could be a day, a week, a month....who knows? This might sound kind of bad, but I hope that for his sake, he goes sooner than later. The last time I got to see him, me and the family prayed with him, and I'm at peace with that being my last moment with him. I'm just restless over getting the call that he's gone. If you're a praying person, please pray for my family, and for little pain as he prepares to pass on.
I'm going to do my best to get back in to posting on here more regularly. It was difficult this summer. I was pretty busy. I hope you haven't given up on me ;)
We're two days into Second Wind #2. The Israeli high school kids are here from Ariel, Israel as well as 300-some other kids. It's going to be a good two weeks. I can feel it. Last week was so slow and laid back (it was a Father-Daughter week). It felt like we did no work, and somehow had a video at the end of the week. The next two weeks will be the complete opposite of that. Your prayers are much appreciated.
Speaking of Israel, I am seriously considering going over there at the turn of the year with the Ranch. So, your prayers about that are much appreciated as well. I need to have $250 non-refundable deposit in by August 1st, and the trip is filling up. The problem-- I don't really have that much that I can deposit at the moment. Greg and I are going to talk with the Ranch about going over there and making a new Israel video for them, and if we do, we're hoping they'll pay our way. Who knows? We'll see. For now, it's Second Wind time.
but He loves to do it in His own time, and not ours. Haha. I love it!
So, I was having knee problems as I mentioned in my last post, and I was getting ready to go on the Wilderness trip. The trip involved much hiking, and it was the ups and downs that really caused my knee to hurt. So, needless to say, I was a bit worried about doing the trip. I tried to talk my way out of going on it, but Greg needed me to do it with one of the new video guys because I knew the trip really well. I got my knee prayed over 3 or 4 times for healing, and nothing changed, so I accepted the fact that the Lord probably had a lesson to teach me.
I went on the trip, and the first day, I kept praying that the Lord would be my strength, and that He would help me through the Wilderness with my bum knee. Wouldn't you know it, my knee didn't feel any better or worse, so I took that as the Lord answering that prayer for strength. (He loves to step into our weakness and be our strength) The second day, we got up at 4am to climb Mt. Etna and watch the sunrise with the kids, and my knee held up on the way up, but it hurt pretty bad on the way down. I was a little frustrated at first, but I never got really upset or discouraged.
So, I made it out of the Wilderness with little-to-no knee pain. Praise the Lord! The amazing part is that it's been 2 days since that trip now, and my knee is at 90%. I feel no pain. So, in retrospect, the Lord said "I'll heal you. But not until you learn dependence upon me as your source of strength, and not your own legs." Make me laugh.
Within our video crew there's been a theme of learning dependence upon God in desperate times. It's our own fault too. About 3 weeks ago, we all felt that as a group we needed to be desperate for God. We talked about how we are out here doing a job that we all love, and that some of us are seeking a career in, and how a lot of the other summer staff are working jobs that they don't necessarily enjoy and have to depend on the Lord to get them through every day. We wanted that sense of desperation. So, we got on our faces and asked for it. Over the next week, we experienced a theft (Greg and Chase's laptops, my electric shaver, my headphones, and other various personal items-- weirdest theft ever since my laptop and other very expensive equipment was left), and my knee got busted up. At the end of that week, we were in a time of worship and prayer with some of the staff, and the Lord reminded us of the desperation we had asked for, and showed us that He's been allowing us to experience that. Funny how He answers prayers. Chase and Greg both talked about how even though they both lost their laptops (Greg runs a company off of his), they both had a peace that transcends understanding over the whole situation. Chase made a good point that we are not our own, and therefore, nothing we have truly belongs to us. I heard it said in a sermon once that we are not owners of anything, but only managers (something like that).
So, yeah, all of that to say that the Lord answers prayers, and He does it in His own way and His own time-- the best way and the best time.
Well, I'm off to the coast for a couple days to film and hang out with the junior high group. They sleep in the Redwood Forest tonight, and then go surfing tomorrow. Wednesday, we'll got jet-boating on the river, and eat one of the best meals of the summer. I love my job!
So we've done two videos so far, and today marks the first day of the first session of Second Wind. All the campers are junior high and high school kids, and it's usually a fun, yet insane two weeks for the video crew. We had a couple days over the weekend, and I don't know why, but I was in a funk (mostly yesterday). I think I was just tired. Also, I'm pretty bummed because somehow my left knee got out of whack. I thought it was just sore from doing 3 laps around the wagon wheel (roughly 3 miles) last week, but it's still hurting. Going up and down stairs, or hills, and running are not kind to it at the moment. So I have to go easy for a while which means no JH Sports for me. Sad day. Better to miss JH Sports, and be healthy for the Wilderness in a week (the Wilderness involves a lot of hiking).
Anyway, enough complaining. I'm still having a blast overall. I've been playing rhythm guitar for worship with Ronnie Freeman, and I love it. I've also been leading worship with Trenton (Ronnie's lead guitarist) on Monday nights for the staff. I'm loving that too. Well, I'm already pretty tired, and it's only the first day, so I don't have much to say. I'll try and update sooner than later and tell some stories from Second Wind #1 (there are 2 every summer).
I have been having a blast! I've really been connecting with other staff. I see some good friendships forming out of this summer. The video boys are all awesome. Two of them have not had much experience but they are excited to learn and seem to catch on pretty well to what we're doing. The other one has had a fair amount of experience, and for him it's just a matter of learning the Ranch system of things. All in all, it's a great group of guys, and we're going to make good videos this summer.
As for the more serious side of things, the Lord has really been breaking me down, and stripping me down to my true being. He's healed wounds from the past that I had no idea were affecting me in a negative way like they were. I've gained a lot of freedom just by renouncing lies that I've believed about myself-- thinking I was too weak, that being sensitive was bad, that I wasn't good enough, that I wasn't good-looking, that I wasn't smart enough, etc. The Lord is showing me, who I truly am-- who He created me to be. I am a warrior with a tender heart. I have the heart of King David. I'm a worshipper and a warrior. A picture I got was of me as a lamb, and I look all innocent and helpless until I open my mouth and roar like a lion. I'm beginning to see that He has plans to use me and my heart of worship to reach people wherever He may take me (around the world I hope ;) ). So, a lot has changed within me, and is still changing even over two week's time. I can't imagine what He has planned for the rest of the summer.
There is so much freedom in the Lord! When I was younger, I began to believe what the world told me about myself instead of what He told me through my parents, and other people of faith. I accepted the lies of the world that I wasn't good enough. I've lived for so long without self-confidence, and in a state of fear. But when I accepted the reality that I am a masterpiece of Father God, the Creator of Heaven and Earth (and so are you!), and I accepted the reality that my confidence is in Christ alone and not in this world, I began to feel free of fear and felt a new wave of confidence come over me. I can see it in the way I interact with others, and in the way I lead worship.
It's an amazing feeling to know that you are loved by the God of Heaven and Earth, and that he longs for you, and has so many great things in store for you. He just wants us to let Him love on us, and to take us where He wants to take us. He is a Mighty King, but he's also a loving Father. We are not servants, but children of the one true God. That's a reality I'm finally beginning to accept, and I love it!
Please leave some comments, or questions (if you have any). I'd love to discuss this further. I hope you are all well!
Usually the people who don't have their lives clearly laid out ahead of them wish they could see what's ahead, and the people who do have their lives clearly laid out ahead of them wish they could have the adventure of not knowing. A good friend brought that point up to me in the past week. I've been so worried, and stressed at times over what lies ahead. It's just something we all have a tendency to do at some point in life. Really, we just need to relax. Just sit back and enjoy life. That's not to say, kick back and do nothing. All I'm saying is don't let the circumstances of life bring you down. The good Lord knows our needs, so we do not need to worry about what tomorrow holds. Love it!
I am the type of person who does not have clear direction in life, and the aforementioned statement about those kind of people is true. I do tend to wish I had it clearly laid out ahead of me. But as I sit here and ponder over all of this, I realize that I really am glad that I have no clue what's ahead. It makes it all the more fun.
Live in the mystery. Find that place where you're content with where you are in life, and just keep on truckin' ahead. Around every bend in the road is a surprise of some sort. Good, or bad, would you have it any other way? I know I wouldn't. There's something to learn from every experience in life.
So, get out there and live life. Take it all in-- the good, and the bad. Don't look at what someone else is doing, and wish you had their life. Focus on your own road, and don't forget to have some fun along the way ;)
Life is the Great Adventure!
Hooray for speaking to myself. I hope there's something good in here for you guys.
Kris Allen over Danny Gokey in the American Idol finale? You got to be kidding me. Since when did 14-year-old girls' love for cute boys (married or not) trump pure talent? I definitely think Kris is talented, but, as one of my good friends said, we already have a Jason Mraz (and others like him). Danny's sound is so...Danny, and good. Not to mention, whenever he sings, you can just feel the passion and the soul behind it. Anyway, American has voted, and once again proven that we are lame. I look forward to hearing Danny's album when it comes out because you know it's coming.
Wow. I just blogged about American Idol. Never thought that would happen.
Note: I am writing strictly from a guy's perspective here.
I find myself asking this question quite often actually. Every time I hear one of my guy friends, or even myself, say something along the lines of, "She's got a cute face, but she her body...not so much" (or vice versa), I actually feel a bit of disgust. Our culture is so nitpicky about people's looks. Who says a girl isn't beautiful if she's not fit, or her boobs are big enough, or her butt isn't nice enough, etc.? Well, the truth is, most guys do. And we may not all truly feel that way about it, but we allow ourselves to slip into that mindset. I know I do. And, as I said, I feel disgusted by it. So, I want to know: What is true beauty? How do we define it?
The typical Christian answer would be: "See them as God sees them?" Alright, then, how do I do that? It's easier than it sounds, people. Also: "Beauty is on the inside." True, but I can like a girl's personality all I want, but if I don't find her attractive otherwise, how does that work? I mean, I'd like to think that I would view my future spouse as a very beautiful woman (inside AND out).
Anyway, I really don't think there's an actual answer for all this. I will say this (and it goes for both guys and girls): there's nothing wrong with thinking that one person is more attractive than the other. I'm not saying we shouldn't voice our opinion amongst our friends, but I just don't like getting the sense that a guy would write a girl off (or vice versa) as not worth his/her time because he/she isn't attractive enough. I've just noticed that in L.A. it's all about appearance, and I get tired of hearing, and saying, the aforementioned quotes. I think the female gender, as a whole, is beautiful because they were created as such. Now, whether I, personally find a any specific girl attractive or not is different...or is it? I really don't know what to think. I just want to hear other people's thoughts because I'm quite frustrated over it at the moment.
To all the girls reading this, you are beautiful, and I say that genuinely. To all the guys reading this, please keep me accountable in how I talk about women.
For those of you who know that me and the guys start filming our webisodes project a couple weeks ago, I wanted to give you an update.
We are now at the midpoint of production, and we are looking ahead at our biggest weekend. We have two major scenes to shoot this coming Saturday and Sunday -- a party scene, and a concert scene. Despite the tough weekend ahead, we are all excited, and prepared. So, far the footage has looked great, and everybody's done a wonderful job. I'm so excited to see this all come together.
Let me preface by apologizing if this post is a bit all over the place. It's me thinking out loud.
I went to a discussion group that LAFSC (the film studies program I attended my last semester of college) puts on for it's alumni once a month, and the speaker was one of the professors. He posed a question along the lines of, "Why are you as filmmakers afraid to make good, unsafe art?"
You have to ask yourself: What is unsafe art? People responded with various answers: Art that may cause your family, or community where you grew up to ridicule you (note: this is from a Christian view point); or, art that faces questions we may not have the answers to (I like that one).There was much discussion regarding the latter.
"Evangelical" films (Facing the Giants, Live Fast Die Young, Left Behind, etc.) focus so much on this mentality of knowing the answer -- God (Pray to Him, and He will kick the field goal). Why not pose questions through relatable material that may lead to that answer instead of telling people how it is right up front. Let me step outside of film to explain this better.
Non-Christians are so turned off by Christians because we like to tell them how it is up front. "Turn or burn." We come off as having all the answers. Yes, Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, but who's going to listen to you if you sound like a know-it-all prick (Face it. We do sometimes). We really have to form trusting relationships with those around us, and let our lives speak. Remember, actions speak louder than words (cliche, but so true). Christians are as human as the prostitute on the street corner, or the guy pretending to be homeless so you'll finance his addictions. Let's jump back to film.
To me, good art is something that moves people -- something that provokes. It's telling a great story, and facing the truth of the world we live in, and not running from it. It's relating to those who are watching in the theaters, or at home. Personally, I want to write stories of love, sacrifice, and hope. I love redemption stories. And I may use some foul language, sexuality, and violence to tell these stories. It's the world we live in. I've been thinking about how I always tell people that I want there to be truth in my films. I can't write something that doesn't portray some form of truth. How do I do that as a Christian who wants to write films? Many Christians will say that I shouldn't have foul language, sexuality, and violence because it's wrong, and it will turn people away from Christ. But to not face those things would be a lie. I'm not promoting that content, but it's relatable to my audience. It's everyday life for some of these people. Last night, we talked about how Christians put so much emphasis on the content of a film that sometimes we forget about the message. For example, there could be a film that ultimately is giving a bad message to children, but as long as it's PG, it's okay. Well, what about the films that are R for their content, yet tell amazing stories of hope and redemption, or pose questions that provoke people to positive action? To me, those are great examples of good, unsafe art, but Christians stamp a big old NO on the film because its rating.
I believe that as a Christian in the film industry, I must allow myself to be vulnerable-- to be human. I want to tell stories that contain truth. Sometimes there the story may not end in redemption, but it may get people asking important questions. Now, let me just say that I fully believe that there is a line to be drawn. Every filmmaker is different. While I know Christian filmmakers who can easily tell stories involving explicit sexual content, I don't believe I could. I don't have a problem with some, but I have to know my limits. That could just be where I'm at in life right now, and maybe someday I'll be able to move the line a bit. I don't know.
Just to add to all of this-- besides being unsafe art (whatever that means to you), it should be done well. People respond better to quality filmmaking. Don't make a sucky film, and then write it off as okay because it tells people about Jesus, and the Church fully supports it. John, last night's speaker, mentioned that he has hope that the Church will one day see past a film's rating and embrace it for its powerful message (something along those lines). I'm right there with him. Good for movies like Facing the Giants that remind those of us in the pews that God answers prayers, but bad for movies like that the don't relate well to those on the streets-- not to mention, I don't fully agree with the "God will kick the field goal" theology.
Just for kicks-- films that fall into what I am promoting through this discussion despite their content: The Dark Knight, Batman Begins, Crash, Magnolia, The Shawshank Redemption, Schindler's List, Amelie, City of God, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Lord of War, Man On Fire, Stigmata, The Exorcism of Emily Rose (really good, but not recommended for those who are extremely sensitive to demonic stuff like myself), Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Slumdog Millionaire, Saved, Garden State, Juno, Lars and the Real Girl, and much more. Also, I have not seen these movies, but from what I've heard, they belong on this list: The Wrestler, Gran Torino, and The Apostle.
Anyway, I hope this made enough sense, and wasn't too hard to follow. I would love to get feedback. It's all just a discussion anyway. I don't have the answers. Please take time to share your thoughts.
For me to resume my blogging. I've been keeping up with a blog for screenwriters called The Rouge Wave, and the blogger, Julie, likes to emphasize that "screenwriting is only one kind of writing and that you should develop the muscles and the skills to write for other mediums." So, resuming my blog is my way of working out my writing muscles. I would like to update my blog at least once, if not a few times per week. Please feel free to leave comments.
Everyday life for me consists of waking up to the sound of one or more of the guys preparing breakfast, or having a conversation amongst themselves. Both Chaz and I sleep on air mattresses in the parlor room which is right next to the living room and kitchen. It bothered me at first that I would be awoken by others' morning activities, but I quickly got over it, and decided that it's best that I wake up earlier with them than sleeping in and wasting the day. The rest of the day involves a good mixture of devos, listening to music, checking email and facebook, reading something (Variety, The Rouge Wave, a book, etc.), playing video games, working out, and looking for work. It's a great life, but doesn't provide much income.
I was working on and off as a production assistant for the reality television show, Wipeout. However, they wrapped up their second season a few weeks ago, so I am out of work with them for now. I am kind of in a tight spot because Greg and I head to JH Ranch on May 23rd to work on the video crew for 3 months, so I can't really commit to any long term work. Hopefully, I find a few short term gigs that will help me make it (financially) to the end of May. The next month and a half is going to be a bit of a busy time for me, so that also makes finding work difficult. Greg and Jake created a short web series a while back, and we start production on it this coming weekend. On top of that, I am about to write my next screenplay. I've been developing it over the past couple months, and Jake's been helping keep me on schedule with it all, and now it's time to start dishing out pages. So, to sum up the plan for the next month or so: script pages during the week, and web series production on the weekend. I'm excited!
Well, that is all for now. Time for one of my favorites activities of the day: Lunch!