Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Journey

If you have been reading my blog over the past few weeks, you know I write about media issues as they relate to faith and culture. Hopefully, you have found them interesting or helpful. But lately, God has been directing me to start writing about my personal journey as a media missionary.

As many of you may be aware, I founded Victory Videos Ministries in 1987. It later became UndergroundZone Ministries. What started as a public access television show would become The Zone. At its height, it aired on over 200 stations and 15 cable and satellite networks. God also called me to start training the next generation of media professionals as media missionaries. Over the past three years, we have offered film camps for high school students. For me, these camps were one of the most satisfying things I have ever done in ministry. To help young people realize their dreams is a very fulfilling achievement.

But, in life, things do change. Just as people, sometimes ministries also move on. UndergroundZone and I parted ways in July 2009. I was given rights to continue to broadcast The Zone and access to all of the curriculum I had established for the academy. So I made my plan to continue on with the work. I founded a new ministry called Flannelgraph Ministries. I wanted to revamp The Zone and make it the best program it could be. But, as you know, the costs of producing a television program are extremely high. Much of the support that I was counting on never materialized. The plan wasn’t working.

So I went back and made a new plan. An online site dedicated to the teaching and training of media missionaries. So we launched a new website called Unfortunately, creating a high-end website is also very expensive. Again, the resources never materialized to fulfill the dream. After a couple of months, I was realized this plan wasn’t working either. I’ve made many plans over 25 years in ministry and written countless business plans—you name it, 50 pages to 100 pages or goals and objectives.

So I had a new plan. Why not listen to what God is saying? Not that I’ve not tried that in the past. But when you have reached the point where your plan has failed, you really have to start listening. Some friends of mine convinced me to start writing a blog. I have to tell you. I hate writing. But I did it. After a few weeks, I actually started to enjoy it. And I was convinced that God was doing something. I had made a decision to seek where God is at work and to join him in whatever that was.

It became obvious that he wanted me to write a book. In fact, I’d been writing the book for several months and had not realized it. I knew it had to be from God because it was pouring out of me. Had I actually finally joined him in his work? I honestly was asking God questions about why the Body of Christ was not changing our world. Why are we being defined by the media culture? And finally, is there hope for the Body of Christ?

So over the past few weeks, I have been on a personal journey to write a book inspired and lead by the Holy Spirit. It is the last thing I would have ever considered doing. It’s funny how God works. My book will be called A Media Culture—Crisis or Opportunity and The Rise of the Media Missionary. I believe God has given me a plan that will make a profound difference in our culture if we, the Body of Christ, are willing to change our perspective and attitude toward the media.

So how will I get it published? This time I do not have a plan. I am going to count on God for his guidance and direction. Will I find a publisher, or will it be self published? Who will help me? I don’t have the answer to these questions, but I am convinced that God gave me this book, and he will provide the answers.

Can the book help launch Flannelgraph Ministries and I believe that will ultimately happen in time. The book is going to serve as a catalyst and provide a platform to speak out about the media culture and the role and purpose of media missionaries. God is moving in the entertainment industry. He wants us to join him in his work. This book will provide insight into how that can happen. I am thrilled to be on this journey. And I invite you to join me as I keep you informed on the progress and development of what God is doing.
The Old Road - Part 2

Welcome to the journey! It’s amazing the older you get, the less you know about how God really works. I’ve been a Christian for 34 years and have been in ministry for over 30 years. I started a media ministry in 1987 and went into full-time ministry 12 years ago. When you think you have nothing new to learn, that’s when you are in real trouble.

God has me on a personal journey to discover his nature, character and personality. It’s time to re-evaluate everything. You would think that after being a Christian for as long as I have there would be nothing new to discover. But you would be wrong. As I go through this process, he wants me to talk about this journey and to be open, honest and transparent. I’m sure this is a journey we can all take. At some point in our lives we are all going to ask who is this God we serve and what is his plan.

Part of my journey is about writing a book, one which has been inspired by the Holy Spirit. The book will be called A Media Culture, Crisis or Opportunity and the Rise of the Media Missionary. In all my time as a Christian, I have never been more certain that I have heard from God concerning the truth that he has revealed to me through the process of writing this book. I look forward to sharing it with you in the weeks ahead.

I have no plan other than to see where God is at work and join him in that effort. So I ask God each day, what should I be writing about. As I went out on my daily run, he showed me that my passion and love for the open road is a metaphor and a guide for my journey to discover how God works in our lives. I have driven across the country over 20 times. Most people think I’m crazy. I have been on practically every remote or off-the-beaten-path highway you can imagine. I particularly have an interest in Old Route 66. It is the ultimate old highway. It has been called The Mother Road. Amazingly, much of it is still intact, but it is not easy to find or follow. It requires dedication and determination. In many ways it parallels our walk with God. You have to work at it in order to follow the path.

I’m convinced that God can be found out there on the old road. Don’t look for him on the interstate. Why do I like the old road? You never know what’s around the next corner. There’s always something new and different. I find it to be mysterious, magical and often a spiritual journey. Each curve offers a different view. Perhaps the next diner will be the ultimate dining experience. Or what new fascinating roadside attracting could be lurking around the next dip or corner? The open road offers a sense of adventure and excitement. Nothing is more thrilling than getting up early in the morning, checking your map, getting your first cup of coffee and hitting the pavement. As the sun comes up, there is a sense of uncertainty and excitement in the air. Who knows what the day will bring. There is no other experience quite like it.

Perhaps our journey with God should be just like this. So why do I think God is out there on the old road? In life we are always offered a choice. We have free will. If you want to, you can live your life on the interstate, or you can travel the back roads. It’s always our choice. The interstate offers a predictable experience. No matter where you are whether in Florida or Michigan all interstates are basically the same. It’s a very easy place to become complacent and indifferent. If you have been on one interstate, you’ve been on every interstate.

But the old highway is different. There is nothing predictable about it. Each road is different. It has its own course, direction and flow. You have to pay attention because the road has many curves, dips and corners. You cannot put God in a box on the old road. But on the interstate, we are convinced that God is predictable.

The interstate is also convenient. We know exactly when and where the next rest stop, town or interchange will be. It’s also fast and efficient. It allows us to make our plans and meet our goals and objectives. It give us a sense of control.

The old highway is anything but that. Here you have to slow down and take your time. This is always the key to see where God is at work. How do you see God when you’re moving at 70 or 75 miles per hours when you have your own plans and goals to meet? The old road offers no convenience. At any time you can be caught behind slow-moving traffic. Who knows? The next town could be 50 miles ahead with no rest stops.

The interstate is also comfortable. It has smooth pavement. If you have been on the back roads, especially Rt. 66, you know it’s anything but smooth. In fact, the pavement is broken and has been patched up. I think that’s a good representation of our lives as we grow in our faith. God wants us to continue to grow, and it only happens when we encounter life’s bumps and dips. Can you really encounter God on a smooth surface? Did God really call us to a life of convenience?

The old road also follows the contour of the land. It zigzags across the landscapes as if it’s always been there. It fits into the image of the land. The interstate is anything but that. We have recreated the landscape to fit into the needs of the interstate. We have removed mountains, hillsides and valleys and have created elevated bridges to remake the land to fit into our plans. It’s not hard to see God out on the old road where the road flows naturally around rivers, valleys and mountains. On the interstate, we can create God into an image we are comfortable with. On the old road, we have to fit into what God has done and is doing as we flow with the natural landscape of the road.

The interstate is also safe. It is a divided highway with wide lanes. It represents technology and the advancement of man. But you can have a false sense of safety because the interstate has a lot of traffic and people on it moving in the same direction. It becomes easier to convince yourself that this is the right way to go. Because driving the interstate requires little effort, it can also lull you to sleep and you are unaware of danger. The old road is anything but safe. It has oncoming traffic, blind curves and accessible side roads. The old road requires you to be alert and prepared for anything. When driving late at night on a desolate highway in the middle of nowhere with the next town miles ahead, it is just you and God. Is our journey with God supposed to be safe and without dangers? If everything is safe, why would we need God? Are we supposed to be on the edge depending on him to protect us? A journey on the old road requires trusting in God for our protection and provision.

The old highway is connected to the land, people and places that it visits and occupies. It’s a place that you can feel alive and feel the presence of God. You can meet real people with real stories. The interstate offers a disconnected experience. From your window it is as if you can view life without ever experiencing it.

And, finally, the interstate is about a destination—getting somewhere, fulfilling a goal or objective. But the old road is more about the journey. It’s about what you learn and experience along the way and about how you have grown in your faith. It allows you the opportunity to know God better. It’s easy to stay on the interstate. It requires no effort whatsoever. It allows you the opportunity to go with the flow. But if you are like me, you are ready to take the next exit off. Life starts at the off ramp. There is a different road out there—the road less traveled. It offers excitement and adventure. I’m sure if we want to find God, he is more likely to be there on the old road than he is on the interstate.
Trust me. It’s worth the time and the effort to find him out there on the old highway
The Dream Dies Part 3

Often the journey is long and difficult and sometimes it’s hard to even hear from God. I’m sure, like me, you are often wondering where God is when nothing seems to be going right. Nobody said taking the old road would be easy.

Last summer, I lost the ministry I started back in 1987. To say the least, it was one of the most challenging aspects of my journey as a media missionary. How do I regroup and continue on with the mission? Where do the resources and equipment come from? What’s next? I decided to take some time and look for answers. I headed West to Glacier National Park in Montana. For me, finding God in nature has always been a good source of inspiration. Clearing your head and removing yourself from everyday activities is essential to hear from God.

I hiked over 220 miles. I wanted to hear from God. It’s taken me some time and perspective in understanding what God was trying to tell me. I know I was going through a grieving process. You don’t leave a ministry after 20 years without some impact on your identity and purpose. God was trying to help me recover from my loss. But more importantly he was giving me the inspiration to start writing a book. I didn’t realize it at the time, but the first chapters were starting to materialize. He wanted me to join him in his work. The book that I’ve written, A Media Culture, Crisis or Opportunity, is part of his plan. I just didn’t realize what was going on.

Part of the process of seeing where God is at work in the world and joining him in that effort requires us to allow our dream or vision to die. My vision was to build a media center for media missionaries. I wanted to create a program that would develop future media professionals as media missionaries and help them enter into the mainstream entertainment industry. We would provide all the necessary training and high-end equipment to accomplish these objectives. As far as I know, no training facility such as this exists anywhere.

Four years ago, I started a film program for high school students. It was very successful and rewarding, and I had hoped it would serve as a foundation to launch the media center. We had a number of volunteers and interns who were receiving film, television, and media training. I was hopeful for the future because so many positive things seemed to be occurring. Media was my passion, vision and dream. And nowhere was I better fulfilled than in teaching and training young people to be tomorrow’s media missionaries.

But was I putting my vision before God? I’m sure God was in this, and he wanted it to become a reality. I think at some point, we all have to decide what’s more important? Is it putting God first or putting first our ministry or vision. As difficult as this sounds, it is possible that our vision can become an idol or an obstacle to our spiritual growth. Are we willing to let it go and die so that God can accomplish his will in our lives? I’d reached a crisis of faith. Could I allow the media center and the television program to die so that I could find God’s perfect will on my journey as a media missionary?

When we join God in his work, I believe it’s at that time when God can give our vision and our passion back to us because we now have a proper ordering of things. It’s not our work or ministry or how we can help God out. He doesn’t need our help. He is the creator of the universe. I’m sure he is quite capable of taking care of things on his own. Our vision will come back when it becomes involved in what God is doing in the world. They become the same thing—our vision for ministry and God at work. If, on the other hand, it is not part of what God is doing then it should die. What I think God is saying to us is that if we have a dream or vision (and it may very well be part of what God is doing), we have to be willing to give it up or surrender it to God so that he can receive all the honor and praise that is intended only for him alone. That won’t happen if it is OUR vision and OUR dream. If we don’t do this, then our vision or dream becomes more about what we want to do than what God is doing, and we will have to fulfill that vision or dream in our own power and strength. God wants us in a place where we must depend on him.

So now my journey is about exploring what God is doing. In the process, if I align my life with what God wants to do, he may restore my vision of a media center. It will undoubtedly be different than my plan. Perhaps, I will be part of helping someone else to develop a media center elsewhere in the country. But whatever he does, it will be fine with me as long as I join him in his work. For now, he has me writing this book, and it may lead to the completion and the dream of a media center. How that happens is in God’s hands.

So I will continue on my journey and get the book ready for publishing. What comes next is up to God.
Finding the Old Road Part 4

I’m sure that we are all on some type of journey in our lives. My journey is to rediscover God and to determine where he is at work and how I can join him in that effort. In order to do that, you have to travel down the old road because that’s where you can find God. God is showing me that the old road is a metaphor and a guide for us on how we should live our lives for Christ. But first you have to find where the old road is.

For years I have traveled the back roads across America, especially Route 66. The old road is anything but easy to find. Over 90% of Route 66 still exists, but you won’t find it on any road map. If you do find it, it’s often difficult to follow because you really never know if you’re on Route 66 or some other old pavement. You can purchase special maps, but it’s no guarantee that you will be able to follow it accurately. Route 66 now has many names. Depending on which state you are in, it could be a county, state or local route designation.

It was commissioned in 1926 and continued to be a work in progress for the next 50 years. It went through multiple pavements, bypasses and upgrades throughout its history. What makes it especially difficult to follow Route 66 is there are many abandoned sections and multiple routes. With so many different alignments, it requires the driver to be dedicated and passionate in his or her efforts to adequately follow the road. Our life as a Christian also requires the same effort if we are to stay on course.

So how do we find the old road? First, we have to accept Christ as our personal Savior. We have to believe in our heart that God is real and he sent his son to die for our sins. By accepting that we are saved. That is the basic requirement for entry to the old road. By doing this we can start our journey. As incredible as this sounds, for many Christians this is as far as they will go. In fact, instead of journeying down the old road, they would rather detour back to the interstate.

For those who wish to journey farther requires us to develop a personal relationship with our Savior. We need to know who God is. What does he want? What is his character, his nature and his value system? We can travel the old road by knowing his Word and then putting it into practice. We can also observe our fellow Christians and learn from their experiences. And through prayer we can begin the process of understanding of how God works in our lives.

As we journey down the old highway, we will encounter the next road sign. As we begin to know God personally, we will be faced with a decision that each Christian must face. Will we make him Lord of our life? And how much are we willing to turn over to him? Whether we realize this, each of us will start to negotiate with God. We are ready to make a deal. We tell God, if you give me what I want, I will turn this percentage of my life over to you. We think we can negotiate with God. All I can say, after many years of experience, good luck with that one. God is not in the business of making deals or negotiating. With him it’s all or nothing. But as we travel down the old highway, we will continue to try to offer God a deal.

What we really want is to follow both the old highway and the interstate. That way we can have the best of both worlds. I’m convinced that many Christians are miserable because they try to travel both roads. At some point along the journey, you are going to learn that it’s one road or the other. As we continue on, some of us will start turning over more of our life to God, and we will reach a tipping point where we start to ask the question, What is his will for me and how can I experience his presence in my life? Can we hear his voice? Absolutely! If we are prepared to stay on the old road.

We stay on the old road by diving into the Word of God, and through people, circumstances and prayer we will start to see Him with more focus. God will speak to us in any way he desires and that includes through nature, objects, and everything in his creation. I have never failed to experience God fully in nature. I have some of my most significant encounters climbing mountains and exploring canyons. It will be different for every person. There is no formula you can follow. Remember, the old road has many curves, dips and corners, and they are different on every old highway.

As you look for God out on the old road and hear his voice, you will reach the final mile post. This one will be the key to knowing how God is at work in the world and knowing how to join him. Some people call it a crisis of faith. The very thing you want the most or that part of your life that you’re holding on to, God will place himself in front of you as a barrier. You will have to make a decision. Are you prepared to finally make him Lord of your life? I’m convinced the reason many of us don’t see God at work in the world is because we have failed the crisis of faith. This is the part of our journey on the old highway where we stop negotiating with God. Remember, we’re not buying a car here. God does not negotiate. He offers his deal and his plan and it’s a “take it or leave it” proposition.

After you pass this final mile post, you will start seeing God at work in places you never imagined. The interstate will be a past memory, and you will wonder why you ever spent so much time there. Traveling the old road is about building the Kingdom of God. And the Kingdom that God is building will look vastly different than anything we can imagine. Are you ready to take the off ramp? God is out there on the old road looking for you.

Welcome to the Revolution, Part 5

I’m sure you don’t see yourself as a revolutionary, but if you are a committed follower of Christ, that is exactly what you are. You are a dangerous person. Revolution is about change. I’m sure you would agree that our world is in need of a significant change from our current system. I’m not talking about political revolution or even cultural or social revolution. This isn’t about electing the right candidate or banning books or movies or even unplugging the cable box. We need change that will impact people’s hearts and minds and will cause us to reevaluate everything in our lives. If you are like me and are not happy about the current direction of our culture and society, then you are looking for answers.

People today are resistant to Christianity or, at the very least, indifferent. It’s safe to say that Christianity is no longer making a difference. God has lead me to write a book, A Media Culture, Crisis or Opportunity, The Rise of the Media Missionary (A Media Culture), in order to provide answers and resources on how we can change our world. Yes, I said it. I believe we can change our world with God’s help and direction. If you are looking for answers, this is your book.

But real change won’t start with changing the world first but with changing the way we approach the media and our response to it. God wants to do a work in all of us. And I believe the keys to unlock the answers we need will be found in this new book. We need a new, revolutionary way of how we view God at work in the world. This book will provide insights in how he is at work in Hollywood and the entertainment industry.

A Media Culture is not a negative book attacking the media but a positive book. The issues we face are more complicated than sexuality, violence, nudity or bad language. This book will be an eye opener and will challenge everything you think you know about today’s media culture. In fact, your response to the media culture crisis will have a direct impact on your effectiveness on your ministry and your personal journey as a Christian.

Who is this book for? It’s for anyone who cares about the current state of Christianity or your personal relationship with Christ. It’s for those who are fed up and frustrated with our inability to bring real change to our society. It’s for anyone who may consider themselves a media missionary. Before you go to Hollywood or work in the media, you need to read this book. It’s also for anybody who wants to make a difference. A Media Culture provides real answers and solutions and not just rhetoric or a rehashing of what’s wrong about today’s media.

This book takes a look at today’s new emerging media church and why so many people are having a deeper and more significant encounter with God at the movies than they do in church. A Media Culture takes a hard look at the status of the Body of Christ and why it must change its current course. We are talking about a different kind of revolution, a blueprint for real change. It is a book of hope for our times.

For the past several years, we have been looking for answers. Many have talked about how bad the media is. Still others say we must embrace Hollywood as a mission field. While still others have called for the Body of Christ to pray for Hollywood and the entertainment industry. Until now, no one has put all the pieces together and created a complete mosaic. A Media Culture is the first book that offers a complete and comprehensive look at the forces behind today’s media culture. It is a blueprint for every Christian and a call to action to show where God is at work and how we can join him in his efforts.

Join the revolution by reading this book. It will change the way you see things forever. I’m convinced you will not be the same. A Media Culture will be available in the next few months. You can help by praying for the resources that will be necessary to bring this book to publication. I am looking for someone who can assist in the areas of marketing and promotions. I am also in need of a publicist and a social networker. We want to get the word out about A Media Culture. Feel free to email me at
Living by Faith Part 6

If you have been a Christian for any length of time, you know by now the journey can be very long and full of challenges. Traveling the old road is never easy or convenient and is often full of potholes. As a committed follower of Christ, you will have to make a decision at some point in your journey to trust God and live by faith. It sound easy, right? I’m afraid not. I have reached this place in the road once again. In fact, I have been there several times. Having been in ministry for so many years, I know this place very well. It’s the place in our journey where we have to make a choice. Do we do it God’s way or man’s way? Will we join him in his work and readjust our lives or push on with our plans?

It’s a test that we all face. Without faith it is impossible to please God. I should know because I have failed this test many times. Why is faith so hard for us and so important to God? And why do you think the Word of God forbids the making of idols? Because it violates every principle of faith. Idols are something we can touch, feel and see. Faith requires us to believe in something we cannot see and requires us to trust in the unknown. In other words, we are no longer in control, and we have to place our trust in God. It’s much easier to trust in ourselves or what we can accomplish. Faith requires us to believe in the supernatural. And frankly, for most Christians, this makes us very uneasy. In our logical, modern, 21st Century minds, the supernatural is something we cannot touch, taste, feel or see.

So what does this have to do with my journey? As you know, I have written a book, A Media Culture, Crisis or Opportunity, The Rise of the Media Missionary. And once again I have reached that place where I have to trust God and live by faith in order to allow God to do what He is going to do. In the human sense, the odds are against me. With no funding or resources, it would seem impossible to get this book published.

I know God gave me this book. I was inspired by the Holy Spirit, and it was the last thing I planned to do. I had tried my plan by starting a new ministry called Flannelgraph. And after a few months, nothing was working, so I decided to join God in his plan by writing this book. But now what? In the next few weeks, I may not even be able to pay the mortgage or the car payment. That is the reality of the situation. I’m sure you can all relate to what I am going through because you have probably been there too.

This is the part of the journey where we can get off course by wanting to help God out. We can look inside of ourselves for an answer and come up with a plan and even convince ourselves that it is God’s plan. As sure as the sun comes up, there will be somebody who will come into your life and offer you a different plan. And it’s going to look good. But is it God’s plan? Welcome to the test!

We have two choices. Our first choice is to look for a way out of the test and back to the interstate. We can take whatever plan that comes along and apply it. Sure, we might even get some good results. And from a human or man’s perspective, it may appear that our ministry is successful. But it’s NOT God’s way or God’s plan. The success or the notoriety we achieve will only be based on human terms and not on supernatural intervention. We can settle for just another plan, but it is not what God is doing in the world.

Our second option is to live by faith and to trust God. It is where I am living at the moment. This choice requires us to wait. Sometimes it feels as if God is taking us to an abyss—to the very edge. Do we have the faith to believe that we will not fall in and that God will save us. It’s clearly a supernatural thing—waiting for God to move and knowing he does his thing in his time and not ours.

I have to understand that this is not my plan but God’s plan. What he does with the book or for that matter with anything in my life is up to him. I am the one who will always be required to readjust my life to fit into his plan. It’s never the other way around. We fail the test when we take the first choice, even with the best intentions and decide to help God out. Sure, the odds look overwhelming. What I am facing and what you are facing can cause us to doubt our faith and return to the safe comfort of the interstate. But you and I both realize there is no up side to that option. So I will continue my journey and ask God to increase my faith and my ability to trust him. I will stand on the abyss and ask God for his help. I will put my faith in God’s faithfulness. He is never late. He is always right on time.

July 24th - Part 7

It’s been some time since my last entry on The Journey. As many of you know, I have written a book, A Media Culture, Crisis or Opportunity, The Rise of the Media Missionary. Part of my journey is to reconnect with how God is at work in the world as well as in my life.

For the last two months, I have been in a holding pattern waiting for God. This is always a difficult place to be. God always requires our patience as well as our obedience to his will. So I am waiting to get the book published. I know God is moving and doing things I cannot see. Perhaps, someone I do not know in a distant city will be moved by the Holy Spirit to release the resources needed to publish this book. So I will continue to hold steadfast and wait for God to move.

In some ways this is also a very difficult time for me. July 24th was my last day at the ministry that I founded back in 1987. It is a bittersweet moment. I am thrilled to be doing what God has called me to do. I have an enormous passion for the work of Flannelgraph Ministries and Media Missionary School. And I am convinced that if I was still at my old ministry, I would not have written this book. But it is also difficult to no longer be at a ministry that came out of the vision God had planted in my heart back in the 1980s. In some ways, it is as if I was never there. That’s difficult to accept even in the best of circumstances. In life, people change and ministries also can evolve and change over time.

So what has God taught me over this past year? These experiences are not unusual. We all face them at some time. They can either make us stronger or destroy us. God has revealed three important things that have helped me get through these challenging times.

(1) We will all face some type of challenge in our lives, whether we lose a job, a ministry or a business, it’s bound to happen. It’s how we handle these situations that will define our character and our relationship to God. In fact, how can we grow spiritually without trials and tribulations?. The Bible makes it clear that we are not to remain static. We are challenged to grow into the fullness of Christ’s grace and image. That can’t happen without a few bumps in the road.

(2) You have to believe in yourself and what God has called you to do. When you start doubting yourself or what God is saying to you, then you’re in trouble. In the past year, God has reignited my passion for his calling. He has put people in my life who believe in the vision God has given me. I can’t tell you how important that is. Doubt will destroy you.

(3) You must be willing to forgive even if the people don’t believe they need to be forgiven. The point is, it’s not for their welfare, it’s for yours. Unforgiveness only hurts you not the person that you believe has wronged you. Here’s something I learned a long time ago but is difficult to put into practice. You must make a decision every day to forgive, and it cannot be based on your emotions. Forgiveness must be a decision. Don’t trust your emotions. They are usually the last thing that lines up. So make the decision to forgive and move on.

The bottom line is I am in a much better spiritual place today than a year ago. And for that I am grateful. I welcome God in my life and what he is doing. So I will continue the journey out on the old road where I know God resides.

A Serious Man - Part 8

Recently, I took some time off. I decided to go on a camping trip and do some hiking in the mountains. If you’ve read any of my entries on The Journey, you know I’m on a personal mission to rediscover God and how he works in the world. Sometimes, the best place to do that is in the wilderness. I think our lives have become too complicated and often dependent on technology. God is out there, and he is speaking to us. But can we hear him through the clutter and chaos that defines our daily lives?

My goals on this trip were simple. First, take a sabbatical from today’s mass media and media culture. I would suggest this is good for all of us, especially those who work in the media. It’s amazing what getting away from the daily dose of television and movies will do for you. It can bring clarity and redirection back into focus. Another goal was to see if I’m on the right track with my ministry. Have I heard from God? Is the book, A Media Culture Crisis and my blog what God is truly saying to me? My final goal was to assess what a friend had recently told me. He called me a serious man. I believe he meant it in a good way. But what does that mean?

Taking a break from the media is essential. It’s amazing what we get used to and what we accept as normal. Do you think that the world we have created is what God had intended? Perhaps, we have made things a bit too complicated. Being in the wilderness, life seems so simple. In fact, after a few days, it seemed to be the normal thing to do. Get up early each day, eat breakfast and go hike all day. Almost every day I climbed a mountain. There’s simplicity in this routine. Getting to the top wasn’t really the goal. It was the process of doing it that brought the real enjoyment and contentment.

It’s funny how you find God along the trail. He speaks to you in every aspect of nature and creation. Out there, there are no distractions. Your mind can be completely focused on the things of God. You know what God really cares about? He’s concerned with our relationship to him. And he wants us to take care of the people around us. That includes our family, friends and even strangers. It’s really that simple. That’s what God cares about. Forget about the thousands of books written each year on theology or spiritual growth. I’ll save you the time and the money.

So why do we make it so complicated? I wish I had an answer for you, but I don’t. However, I have come to understand that the media, whether by design, accident, chance or fate, has been used to distract and insulate us from the things that truly matter. And after you spend some time away from it, that realization will become obvious.

I’m a media guy, and I love the media. I know it has the ability and the power to do good. I’m not telling you to throw your television or your mobile media device in the garbage. My goal is only to offer you some perspective. Edward R. Murrow warned us over 50 years ago how television and the media can be used in a way to amuse us and distract us from the realities of life. If you ask me, I think he has turned into being a prophet.

As far as confirming what God has spoken to me over the past few months, I believe the book and this blog is an adequate reflection of what God is currently doing in media and entertainment. I’m convinced I’ve heard from God, and I’m sharing what he said with you. I hope you have found it helpful.

Finally, the title of this entry is A Serious Man. After much reflection and prayer, I would have to agree with my friend. That is exactly what I am, a serious man. I am serious about the vision that God has given me. I believe we need more serious people today. We live in a serious time with serious issues. We have accepted today’s media culture as if it is a normal reflection of the way we should live our lives. We need people to stand up and question this. We need serious people to tell us that business as usual will not cut it. We need serious people to tell the Church that a drive-by Christianity will not cut it. We need serious people to tell people of faith we must embrace a missional approach to the way we live our live our lives; otherwise, if we continue on our current course, we may very well see a different gospel preached in the future.

Whether we like it or not, this is a time to be serious and determined. So I will agree with my friend. I am a serious man. If ever there was a time to be a serious man or woman, it is now.

The Journey – the Downside of Christmas - Part 9

First, on a personal note, what a year this has been. For those of you who read my blog on a regular basis, you know I’ve been on a personal journey to rediscover God and how he is at work in my life as well as in the world. All of that has led me to write a book called A Media Culture, which I recently re-titled, The Red Pill, A Cure for Today’s Mass Media Culture. I never set out to write a book, but as I have discovered, God has his own plan and purposes. I thank God for giving me the words and inspiration.

I had hoped to have the book published back in September, but the process is much more difficult than I ever could have imagined. However, the delays have been helpful and perhaps even a blessing in disguise. With my wife’s help, the book is now better organized and, frankly, a lot more readable. As this year comes to a close, it appears that the book will soon go to press. With God’s help The Red Pill may be available in early Spring.

What has all of this taught me in light of the Christmas season? It has been a year of ups and downs, valleys and mountains. After losing the ministry that I founded 11 years ago, I have had to learn to make many adjustments in my life. Rediscovering God is one of those adjustments and probably the greatest blessing.

Second, what does the journey have to do with downside of Christmas? After watching several Christmas movies on the Hallmark Channel this week, I noticed that in most of the movies, the final shot would be a slow pushback crane shot revealing a happy and content family sharing a bounty of food and gifts, the perfect picture of an old-fashioned Christmas with all of the trimmings. As the shot continued to pull away, it would reveal an exterior wonderland of fresh falling snow. It’s the perfect Christmas with every piece in place. All the problems have been solved and there now is harmony and peace.

Of course, this is the Christmas we want. And somehow we think everybody is living this perfect Christmas except us. It makes us feel depressed and missing out when we look at our situation and realize that’s not the picture of our families. I think the first thing that we need to realize is that there is no perfect situation or family. No matter how perfect you think your neighbors are, trust me, they all have issues that are not noticeable on the surface but nevertheless are present.

Realistically, perhaps you’ve lost a job or a loved one, or you are experiencing financial difficulties or maybe you have no family to celebrate Christmas with. This time of year has a way of emphasizing our loses. Let me put it this way. God never guaranteed us a life that will be comfortable, safe or convenient. However, he did promise to always be with us and be our comfort in grief, our protector and defender in trouble. He is always just a prayer away. Jesus came to earth as a babe, he lived his life here on earth experiencing what we all go through, and He promises there is nothing we experience that he is not able to be a help to us. Dealing with the problems of life help us to grow into the likeness of Christ and move closer to the Savior.

With all of the hustle and activities of Christmas, we often lose sight of the things that are truly important. What’s helped me this year, especially this Christmas season, is to take one day at a time. Remember we’re not promised tomorrow. My goal is just to get through today. Tomorrow will have it’s own issues and problems. What God has also helped me to realize this year is to find joy in the small things. These are the things we often overlook. And it will be different for every person. Perhaps it’s watching the sun rising on a new day and knowing God is with me today. Or, for me, it’s just the joy of having a cup of coffee and reading the paper before the day gets started. The point is to slow down and enjoy what God has put before you. We’re often so consumed with the big issues that we forget to live our lives in the moment.

And, finally, I realize that you know this and have been reminded countless times that Christmas is about the birth of a Savior. He is our only hope for redemption. This life will soon pass, but what we do in it and the decisions we make will have eternal consequences. To truly celebrate Christmas is to embrace what Jesus has taught us and to accept his sacrifice for us so that we may have a future and a hope.

Merry Christmas to you and may you rediscover God on your journey in the coming year.

The Journey—The Gift of Time - Part 10

January is usually the time that we reflect on last year to see what we have accomplished. Did we meet our goals and objectives? Was it a successful year? What did our hard work bring us?

For the past 30 years, I haven’t experienced living the standard 40-hour week. I think it is safe to say that you haven’t either. No one will ever be able to accuse me of letting the grass grow beneath my feet. Anyone who works in media and ministry knows that it is a time-consuming job. For the past 20 years, I have produced a weekly television program, taught students, worked with interns, and ran and managed a ministry. All of that came to an end in 2009 as the ministry I worked for decided to go a different direction. As I evaluated 2010, it seemed to be a disappointment. What did I accomplish? From my point of view, it seemed as if I had taken a step back. But as I reflected upon it and prayed, God revealed to me that he had given me a gift—the gift of time. Perhaps, one of the greatest gifts that anyone can receive because it provides perspective and insight.

This past year, I had time to read, time to pray, time to reflect, time to write, time to diligently seek a relationship with God, time to get into the Word of God, and time to think. I didn’t realize I had been given a real opportunity and blessing when I lost my ministry. Having time, gives you the ability to see the big picture. It’s like having an aerial view. You can see the entire landscape and how it fits together. God decided it was time for me to have time. We all have the ability to give ourselves the gift of time, but often we don’t believe we have permission to do it. Unless something dramatically changes in our life, we are often stuck on a treadmill.

We live in a society that values work and the work ethic. We are driven to success. In fact, we feel guilty if we do not fill every minute of the day with some activity. It is as if we feel we are slackers when we are not constantly busy.

Here’s what God has revealed to me about time. First, we spend a lot of time on things that are a waste of time. Why do we invest our time on temporal matters when we should be pursuing things that are eternal? I’m not telling you that you can’t enjoy life or pursue recreational activities. But our focus and our time have to be on things that will last forever. Second, we spend a great deal of time pursuing our own agenda. I’m as guilty as the next person on this one. I realize I have failed in this matter. We often ask God to join us in what we are dong. But I have learned an important lesson this past year. We must diligently seek to find where God is at work and then join Him in His efforts.

And finally, you’ve heard the saying that we make time for the things that are important to us. And that’s true. But the problem is, how do we know what is really important? There’s only one way that you will ever fully understand what is important and what is not important. And this will require time. Only by pursuing a relationship with God can we know this. And if you are too busy filling your time with other things, that relationship will not pursue you.

My final thoughts. No matter how hard you work, you can never add a 25th hour to the day. The older I get, the more I realize that time is truly a gift—a gift from God. We must use it wisely. Find the time to reflect, to pray, to think and to pursue Him this coming year. I now realize that this past year has not been a failure but an opportunity for growth and insight. Without the gift of time, I would never have been able to write my book, The Red Pill, because I would not have been able to hear from God. Unless we are willing to slow down and give ourselves the time, how will we ever hear the voice of God?