Category Archives: Jesus

posts inspired by God speaking to me through a message, book, podcast, or just directly

Overcoming the Resistance!

I discovered Michael Hyatt by way of a Facebook comment from a former-NY, now west-coast friend.  She throw his link at me, I bit, and have been chomping away ever since!  The titles of his podcasts all captured me and I was at a loss for finding even one that I did not want to hear; everything from “A Leader’s Heart” to “How to Take Control of your Inbox,” resonated with me.  I plugged Michael in during car rides, runs, & cardio sessions and it was the best multi-tasking tool!  I could complete a 45-min cardio session and “Learn how to say ‘no’ without feeling guilty” all in one shot! Well, they say that the best way to get something to “stick” is to repeat it, so here’s one podcast that especially grabbed me: “How to Overcome the Resistance!” At first, this conjured up images of war for me for some reason, but after a few seconds, I realized that this was fortunately, way off base!  So, in actuality, the resistance is “That invisible, destructive force that  opposes you anytime you try to accomplish something significant or make an improvement in any area of your life.”  Resistance is that thing that causes procrastination, negativity, skewed perspectives, etc. Here is how to identify resistance: INVISIBLE: you cannot see, hear, taste, touch it; you can feel it INTERNAL: Michael Hyatt gives an example here of a Barracuda experiment where a glass partition is placed in a tank to separate a Barracuda from his prey.  He smashes into the glass in his attempts to attack the smaller fish and becomes gradually less aggressive until he gives up completely.  Eventually, even when the glass is removed, the Barracuda, so trained to, no longer attacks the fish and they can actually swim about the tank, unassailed.  The Barracuda’s obstacle is internal.  The resistance is self-generated, self-perpetuated, the enemy within, the story we’re telling ourselves.  For example, “I’m just not good at this,” or  “No one will hire someone my age,” etc INSIDIOUS: It opposes every good thing and prevents us from becoming all that God designed us to be.  The resistance will tell you anything to keep you from doing your work. INFALLIBLE: The resistance will always show up and point true north.  In this way, we can navigate based on the resistance.  For example, the presence of the resistance can act as a guide on your journey to significant work.  For example, you won’t experience resistance if  checking Facebook vs work doing work.  You won’t experience resistance ordering dessert vs hitting the gym.  The more important the work, the more opposition we’ll experience. So, now that you can identify resistance, the next task is HOW TO DEFEAT IT! Here are the resistance’s primary strategies and the prescribed countermeasures: FEAR: usually happens at the start of a project.  Our typical response is PROCRASTINATION; the  countermeasure is to START. Until one commits, there is hesitancy.  The moment one commits oneself, then providence moves too.  A whole stream of assistance comes your way.   Whatever you can do or dream, you can begin it.  Whatever it is you think you need in order to begin won’t show up until you take the first step.  Develop the discipline of beginning.  Look fear in the face and just step into it. UNCERTAINTY: This usually happens in the middle of a project.  Our typical response is to get DISTRACTED; the countermeasure is to FOCUS. Stay focused and develop the discipline of pushing through; this is the only way to get out of the middle of a project.  Anxiety, self-doubt, etc, all present themselves in the middle of a project; that’s how it always feels in the middle.  But remember that you always feel uncertain before you feel certain. DOUBT: usually occurs at the end of a project.  Our typical response is to QUIT; the countermeasure: FINISH. Practice not quitting.  Finish at all costs.  Develop the discipline of finishing. I think that for those of us who want to make a difference in this world, we’re up against resistance all the time.  I loved the examples of when we experience resistance and when we don’t.  Of course we won’t experience resistance with sleeping in, eating junk food, and maintaining the status quo.  When we will experience resistance, however, is in re-engineering our mornings (another great podcast of his), eating clean, and going above and beyond.  So, hats off to all of you who are beginning, in the middle, or finishing some significant project.  You are undoubtedly being challenged by some resistance, but I have no doubt that you will begin, focus, and finish that good work!  Here’s to resistance…bring it on! Here’s the podcast: download and subscribe…he’s good!

Do you have oil in your lamp?

Allow the oil of God to flood into the lamp of your spirit.

In relevance to the events of Hurricane Sandy and being entrenched in darkness, as many were without electricity, even still, Jim Lafoon visited msny yesterday to prophesy over us.  I say prophesy because he doesn’t preach or speak…he tells us exactly what he’s hearing from God…and he hears. from. God.  He’s been gifted with the gift of prophesy, for sure, but after listening to him yesterday, I realize that he works hard with his gift as well.  His words were all beautiful, and he continually addresses the congregation as “my beloved” throughout his talk…it’s so unusual, but is rolls off his tongue quite well!  I was riveted to Mr. Lafoon, only glancing away long enough to jot notes down on my phone.  Here is what I caught for us!
  • We all pray to “be the light,” right?   Well, here’s the “stinking thing” about “being the light:” in order for the light to shine, it has be dark!  Light works best in the dark!  So, remember when you’re asking for miracles and being lights, that these things require dire circumstances in order to happen!
  • Sometimes, the greatest thing is to have the world suffer and you suffer along so that the world can witness God’s deliverance through you.  Your crisis is a setup for a miracle.  So, we can thank God for the privilege of shining in the dark.
  •  With that said, you need oil in your lamp in order to be the light.  Jim says, “No matter how dark it gets around me, I’m never dark on the inside.  I stay well-oiled so that when darkness comes, I’m lit on the inside.”  Too often, we rely on our own analysis and carnal minds during hard times.  Trust in the name of God; keep oil in your spirit.  You never have to be blind; walk in the light of the spirit
  • However, it took Jim years to be able to hear God.  How can we do it?  He says to read the Bible daily.  And as a practical tip, Jim says to try different ways of reading it: out loud, by taking notes, by taking notes w/ your non-dominant hand.  It’s just all about engaging yourself in the Word. every. day.
  • Then he says to get quiet and allow the Word to work in you, allow His spirit to work in you.  Practically, you can read the Word, then pray and stay quiet or play a worship song and then get quiet.  He says that even if you feel like you didn’t read well, the Word can still get in.
  • He talks about building your spirit now: put oil in your lamp while it’s still light be sons and daughters ready for when the dark times come.  Because trying to put oil in when it’s dark is like trying to build a bomb shelter when the bombs are falling!
  • He talks about remembering it’s not about your strength/talents/abilities.  If you only work to the point of your ability, you’ll never accomplish what God has for you.
  • Spend time with God, worshipping, spending time in His presence.  Then let your light shine before men.
  • Allow the oil of God to flood into the lamp of your spirit.
Thank you Jim Lafoon.

The Battlefield of the Mind: Part I

I’m reading Joyce Meyer’s Book, “The Battlefield of the Mind.” It was immediately recommended to me when I admitted that I was struggling with damaging habits and fearful thoughts. My mind was put on, for the first time, to the idea that the struggle could be dealt with on a supernatural level. In contrast to my go-to perspective of trying to muscle my way out of this struggle, I was offered the perspective that this negative situation is “of-the-devil,” and so, in being that, the best suited weapon against him is none other than God. And so, I began to think about temptations and bad habits as being a battle against evil, to be fought with prayer and faith. I decided to pick up the manual and learn the battle strategies from the famous Ms. Meyers and here are some of my favorite nuggets:
  • One of your weapons is prayer…asking. You can’t overcome your situation by determination alone (hence, why my attempts at “muscling” my way out were futile). You need to be determined “in the Holy Spirit,” not in the effort of your own flesh.
  • Right thinking is a VITAL NECESSITY:  Vital.  Like a heartbeat.  Like a blood pressure reading.  Without these, there is no life.  So, the spiritual life is dependent upon spending regular, quality time with God.
  • We don’t have to TRY to have carnal thinking.  Our minds are very good at thinking worldly, fleshly thoughts.  In contrast, we have to purposely choose right thinking!  You have to choose and continue to choose right thinking!
  • God is the best “computer programmer” and is attempting to reprogram years garbage!  We have to cooperate with Him and never give up!  We have to choose I will not give up.  We have to choose to think we are going to make it.  This is difficult, but not impossible: to reprogram a carnal mind into a Godly mind.
  • Pride is the “beast” God is taming by allowing us to receive liberty one area at a time.  If we were to be liberated too quickly from our battles, we would not appreciate our freedom.  This way, we realize it is a gift from God and not something we can make happen in our own strength.
  • Discouragement and Condemnation are of the Devil.  Don’t receive condemnation when you have setbacks…just get up, brush yourself off, and keep moving!  God isn’t condemning or discouraging you.  Satan is because he knows that this is one of the few ways he can affect you once you are saved.  Failure is guaranteed.  Know that and prepare for it by letting Christ be your strength in your weakness.  Total victory comes “little by little” because “pride is the beast” (see above).
  • Examine your thought life.  The same situation can garner two different approaches…a positive or a negative.  The negative sounds like this: “I’m not going to make it; this is too hard.  I always fail; I’m tired of trying; God doesn’t seem to hear me; etc”  The positive sounds like this: “Well, things are a bit slow, but thank God, I’m making some progress.  I’m sure glad I’m on the right path; I had a rough day yesterday; I chose wrong thinking all day yesterday; Father forgive me; help me to keep on keeping on; I made a mistake, but at least it’s one that I won’t have to make again; this is a new day and your mercies are new every morning!  I refuse to be discouraged or condemned!  The Bible says that You don’t condemn me.  You sent Jesus to die for me.  I’ll be fine and today will be a great day!  You help me choose right thoughts today!
  • Think and Speak this: “I believe God.  I believe He is working in me no matter what I may feel or how the situation may look.  The Lord has begun a good work in me, and He will bring it to full completion” (see Phil 2:13; 1:6)
  • Be Positive: All things work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His design and purpose. (Romans 8:28).  Remember, in every situation, that somehow, this is working together for your good.  And so, as things fail to go your way and unexpected hiccups foil your plans, don’t think of it as sabotage, figure out how to view it for the good that it is offering to you.  In Romans 12:16, Paul says to readily adjust ourselves to people and things.  So learn to plan but don’t fall apart just because the plans do…stay positive.
  • Have a Ready Mind.   Having a ready mind allows you to be open to the will of God, whatever that will may be.  So even in the midst of a broken engagement or a lack of profit, the will of God is at play and you want to ready your mind for that.  Being positive puts you in the flow of God’s thinking; He is positive.
  • EXPECT miracles!  Expect to receive.  Receive to expect.  The Lord waits to be gracious to you.  He lifts Himself up, that He may have mercy on you and show loving-kindness to you.  For the Lord is a God of justice.  Blessed are all those who wait for Him, who expect and look and long for Him.  (Isaiah 30:18).  God is saying that He is looking for someone to be gracious to, but it cannot be someone with a sour/negative attitude/mind.  It must be someone who is expecting.
  • Mind-Binding Spirits: are real!  They will bind up your faith so that you cannot believe forthe things that God allows for you to.  God gives us faith for things that are often beyond belief.  Oftentimes, believers know something that his mind wars against.  And God allows us to believe the impossible.  But when mind-binding spirits come into the picture, they steal this hope and faith.  Pay attention and keep your mind free, peaceful, and full of faith.  DECIDE TO BELIEVE.  When you are having problems in this area, pray in Jesus’ name so that by the power of His blood, you can come against evil spirits that hinder Godly thoughts.
  • We will get from the Word what we put into it.  Most people don’t delve into the Word very deeply and then they wonder they they aren’t powerful Christians living victorious lives.  The truth is that the flesh is lazy and many people want something for nothing.  But, the more time we put into the Word, the more power we will have to do it and the more knowledge we will have about what we have received.  
  • Practice makes perfect.  We don’t expect to be experts at anything in life without a lot of practice, so why would we expect Christianity to be any different?
  • Think about what you’re Thinking About!  As a Christian, you have to control your thoughts so that you’ll actually think about what you’re hearing in church; so that you’ll attend  to the Word you are reading.  Your mind plays an important role in your victory.  When David the psalmist was depressed, he meditated not on the problem, but on the good times of past days; of the doings of God and the works of His hands.  Along with salvation must come a renewing of your mind.  This renewing is defined and maintained by our thoughts being fixed on the types of things the Bible tells us to think about: the lovely, the worthy, the honorable, the virtuous, the excellent (Philippians 4:8)
  • Take inventory: on a regular basis and ask yourself “What have I been thinking about?”  Spend time examining your thought life.  This is relevant and valuable because Satan will have us believe that our misery/trouble is due to something else so that we point blame rather than attack the problem.  By taking inventory, you may locate your problems and be on your way to freedom very quickly
This was only Part I of her book…to be continued!

An Evening With Euna Lee: more than I ever expected

I attended a talk the other day, ” An Evening with Euna Lee,” and was brought to tears by this woman’s testimony of twisted fate, desperate faith, and redemption.  Her name may not ring a bell as clearly as Laura Ling, but they both suffered the same ill fortune: imprisonment in North Korea which punctuated their documentary project in the bordering country of China. I will confess that I did not follow the story too closely at the time, but the incredibly personal version of her story that evening trumped anything that I could have ever gleaned from CNN.  Just to recap the basics, Lee and Ling were arrested on March 17, 2009.  They were filming a documentary on human trafficking and accidentally crossed into the North Korean border without a visa.  They were imprisoned for 140 days during which they were subject to ongoing interrogations.  Former US President Bill Clinton visited North Korea in an attempt to free Lee and fellow journalist Laura Ling. The North Korean government pardoned both Lee and Ling after meeting with Clinton that day. These are the basic facts.  There was a lot more that I learned that evening.  Here are some realizations that will take your breath away. LEE AND LING WERE LED TO CROSS THE BORDER: I think that many are guilty of judging Ling and Lee as being foolish for toying with the infamous Korean government by treading so closely to their border.  Lee, however, described the harrowing event of their arrest.  According to Lee, they were being guided by an officer at a certain point in their trip.  Lee said that she had eaten dinner with the Korean-Chinese officer and felt that she could trust him.  The following day, they were traveling near the border, which, by the way, had no markings.  “There was no wire, no wall, no guards to identify the border,” Lee said.  At one point, the guard crossed a small river and beckoned for them to follow.  Without hesitation, they all followed suit.  But within moments, a simultaneous sentiment arose amongst the group that something wasn’t right and they all immediately retreated.  Lee said that as they did that, a member of the group said, “soldiers!” and indeed, Korean soldiers were racing toward them at full speed.  As she was running, the guard ran alongside Euna and asked her, “Are you filming?”  Lee said that she thought he was crazy…until she flipped open her camera, gripped it under her arm, and continued to run with it.  Lee said that they all ran for their lives, some of them crossing to the other side to safety…and then, Laura fell.  “I couldn’t move,” said Euna.  “I couldn’t leave her.”  Laura’s leg was injured, Lee stopped, and within seconds they were surrounded and arrested.  And so began the 140 days of their imprisonment and America’s vigil.
Euna, Michael, & Hana reunite
EUNA LEE HAD A FAMILY I think that many people imagined Lee being a “bandit” reporter of sorts, what with her seemingly underestimating the dangers her environment by encroaching on a country so known to be corrupt.  I never would have imagined her, instead, to be a wife and a mother.  At the talk, a little girl raised her hand with an innocently vague question: “How did you feel?”  The audience chuckled, but Lee graciously described how she missed her daughter while in prison.  “I drew a picture of my daughter so that I could toucher her face and look at her and hug her.”  And now I’m so glad that I can do that for real.  That little girl who raised her hand was Hana, indeed, Lee’s daughter, now six, then, only three.  Interviewer Megan Alexander invited Lee’s husband and daughter onto the stage and you just had to cry at the sight of this beautiful family, or rather cry at the thought of this beautiful family having been torn apart so suddenly, so violently, so hopelessly.  Tears welled up in my eyes as watched Euna hold her daughter on her lap, her husband alongside.
Euna Lee’s book: “The World is Bigger Now”
EUNA LEE IS A CHRISTIAN Somebody in the audience raised her hand and asked Euna, “Were there certain Bible passages and verse that you turned to during this time to sustain you?”  I thought to myself, “Whoa, someone is BOLD, asking a question like that! ”  But that shock was nothing in comparison to Euna’s answer that the passage in Psalms 23:4, reading, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”   My mouth dropped with the realization that Euna Lee prayed and cried out to God in that prison.  She said that she wished she had been more diligent in memorizing Scriptures as a young girl, as she was desperate for them in those dark months.  That passage became a lifeline of sorts for her; yet, Lee still longed for her family. The most dramatic moment of the night for me was when Euna disclosed that she ultimately surrendered her family to God.  “I said to God, ‘I don’t know what’s going to happen to my family, God, but if I never see them again, I trust you to take care of them.’  And that was the hardest thing that I ever had to do.”  Unbeknownst to her, her husband, back in America had just surrendered her to God as well.  And two weeks later…Euna was rescued!  The drama!  The emotion!  I could hardly take it!  This was such an Abraham and Isaac story! I was speechless by the close of the evening.  I had come expecting a news/politics talk and found myself experiencing God’s incredible work in the intimate details of this world news story.  I purchased her book in my feeble attempt to express my gratitude for this woman and will most likely post about it in the near future.  😉  Praise God.

Let Your Light Shine!

“Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” -Matthew 5:13
Actors InC booth, complete w/ brochures, video display, & business cards!
My organization, Actors InC, had the privilege of being invited to host a booth at AMTC’s SHINE Conference in Orlando, FL this past week.  Being a young organization still, being recognized by such an established fellow ministry is exciting.  I took up their offer and saw an opportunity as a backstage pass to this famous event, a networking tool, and a publicity platform. The greatest impact this conference had on me, was without a doubt, hearing established artists in the industry: Mathai (the Voice), TC Stallings (Courageous), Adrian Kali Turner (the Walking Dead), Abie Cobb (90210), Ben Davies (Courageous), and countless others speak about God.  I watched Mathai on the Voice and then I listened as she quietly revealed how her Indian background never treated singing as anything more than a hobby and she grew up with aspirations in pediatrics.  I held my breath as she spoke about how God revealed His will for her to sing instead and that despite her lack of professional training, she spent two years post-SHINE Conference making up for lost time, and she just finished an incredible run on the hit reality show The Voice.  The unlikely singer with the unique voice summed it up by saying “When God has a plan for you, whether you’re prepared or not, He will make a way.”
TC Stallings from “Courageous”
TC Stallings was another one.  As soon as he got up, he talked about Jeremiah 29:11-For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  A former athlete, he referred to God as our “head coach” and explained that he always had to go to the coach to find out what play he had to run.  “It didn’t matter what play I wanted to run; even if it was a good play, a proven play; it might not be the play that the coach had in mind for that game, against that opposing team.  And in the same way, he charged us to remain in constant communication with our head coach, Jesus Christ, in order to learn the plans He has for us! -God has a plan for your life, he said.  So, when you go into a casting, know that it’s not in the hands of the casting director, God is going to cast you or not cast you and you have to give him the right to lead your life! -Stallings said that he brings God into his auditions!  He says, “Are you ready, God?” and goes in with the confidence and peace that passeth all understanding! -In closing: know God’s game plan for your life; take an Eternal Perspective; know that a God thing is a Good thing and that it can’t be stopped! I was repeatedly impressed with Abie who articulated incredibly well how she navigates through a secular industry with Christian principles.  She said that playing a “villian” is not to be outrightly viewed as wrong because “as long as evil is portrayed as evil,” playing that role does not compromise your principles.  “Somebody has to play the villian,” she said, even referencing Bible stories such as David and Bathsheba.  She looks carefully at her roles and if the “bad guy” that she is playing is hated at the end of that story and is portrayed as having learned a lesson from her wrongdoing, then evil is not being glorified and it’s not wrong to work that role.  She clarified that she has respect for actors who turn down the roles altogether that may be controversial, but she takes hers on a case-by-case basis.  This was very refreshing to hear from a young girl…my gosh! Another young AMTC graduate-turned-superstar, in answering a question about juggling life on sets and attending church, answered that as the Bible states that where two or more or gathered, Jesus is there, we can “attend church” right on set by doing devotion, reading a favorite verse, and simply spending quiet time with God.  This was coming from young folk!  Talented Young Folk!  haha! I met mothers of superstars of AMTC who are supporting their children as they pursue their dreams and I was impressed with the overall caliber of talent that I witnessed throughout the few days that I spent at the conference.
Carey Lewis, founder of AMTC
I had a conversation with the founder, Carey Lewis, just before I left, and she just amazed me with the fact that as such a young Christian (5 years since her rebirth), she managed to turn an 25-year old organization around for Christ.  When I see evidence of Christ and the message so clearly emblazoned on everything at Actors, Models, and Talent for Christ, I cannot fathom that this was a 100% secular organization merely 5 years ago.  It was just an industry conference run…run with integrity, yes, but the speakers, the marketing material, the signs, the website, the language used everywhere…was simply secular.  Incredible.  And more incredible is that she doesn’t portray any stress and she speaks freely about God’s impact on her life carrying her through that experience.  She said that she has “really good people around her.”  Nevertheless, she is something to aspire to, that’s for sure, and I’m encouraged by her words to me that Actors InC is doing something important and that God is reaching actors through us. From Ben Davies: all you have to do on set: “Love God and love people” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” -Matthew 22:37-40  

How Many Jars are you Putting Out?

Pastor Alan Platt flew in from South Africa last weekend to ask us “How many jars are you putting out?”  He retold the story of the woman in the Bible instructed by Jesus to fill up empty jars with her oil.  First off, it amazes me when preachers such as Platt retell Bible stories with such vivid detail, inspired with visions of how the event took place, providing incredible insight and new appreciation for the story…amazes me!  As such, I will never think of this story in the same way again.  I will even think of it again…that in itself is an accomplishment! LIVE A LIFE OF EXPECTANCY So, Platt starts out his message with “Live a life of expectancy,”  because God will meet you at the level of your expectancy.  And he goes on to give examples in the Bible: Jairus, the Centurion, the women who touched Jesus’ robe, the city of Capernaum, etc, where people set their level of expectation high and Jesus met them at the level of their faith. USE GOD’S VOCABULARY TO CREATE YOUR EXPECTANCY Furthermore, your expectancy is to be based on what God says; not on our circumstances.  Because when God speaks, it changes the picture of our future.  If you listen to God, He’ll put pictures of great expectations on your mind and you will carry that.  Conversely, if you have the wrong source of information, you will carry the wrong pictures, and ultimately have the wrong expectation.  So, what are you basing your expectations on and what is your expectation for your life, your church, your city? EXPECTANCY CREATES AN ENVIRONMENT FOR THE MIRACULOUS TO HAPPEN Platt illustrates how this applied to him in real life.  He is most well-known for the work he has done in South Africa.  He has literally changed the city through his Godly work.  And this first started in 1994, when God gave Platt the illustration of Mark 6: the feeding of the 5,000 in the Bible.  From this story, Platt was shown how the disciples, given 5 loaves of bread, were instructed to feed 5,000 people.  He imagined how timidly those disciples must have approached the first group of 50 people, holding out his one loaf of bread.  Platt imagined how meticulously they must have torn off the first morsels of bread, attempting to naturally somehow tear of nearly a thousand more pieces.  And then, Platt saw how the disciples must have suddenly become aware of something miraculous happening right inside their hands.  And as they realized that this bread wasn’t going anywhere, they must have stood up straighter and torn off pieces more boldly, probably at one point, encouraging people to “take as much as they wished!”  And truly, the disciples had grown bolder, because 12 baskets were leftover once everyone was fed.  The takeaway from this story?  The disciples had to at least start breaking the bread in order to experience the miracle that God had in store for them. 2 KINGS 4:1-7: THE WIDOW’S OLIVE OIL Platt gives his final illustration…the one that impacted me the most.  And again, I am moved by the amount of detail and insight Platt and other such speakers have into these stories…truly, as if they are relaying a story from their life!  So, in this story, Jesus instructs a widow who has no money, to use the little jar of oil that she has to fill as many jars as she collects and then sell the oil for money. “The wife of a man from the company of the prophets cried out to Elisha, “Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that he revered the Lord. But now his creditor is coming to take my two boys as his slaves.”  Elisha replied to her, “How can I help you? Tell me, what do you have in your house?”  “Your servant has nothing there at all,” she said, “except a small jar of olive oil.”  3 Elisha said, “Go around and ask all your neighbors for empty jars. Don’t ask for just a few. Then go inside and shut the door behind you and your sons. Pour oil into all the jars, and as each is filled, put it to one side.”  5 She left him and shut the door behind her and her sons. They brought the jars to her and she kept pouring. When all the jars were full, she said to her son, “Bring me another one.”  But he replied, “There is not a jar left.” Then the oil stopped flowing.  7 She went and told the man of God, and he said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debts. You and your sons can live on what is left.”  And so, the widow’s first task is to collect And so her first task is collecting jars.  Now, here is where Platt’s God-inspired storytelling comes in again.  He envisions this woman going around to her neighbors, asking for jars.  And as she does, they must ask her what she is planning to do with them and when she replies with Jesus’ instructions, Platt deduces that those neighbors must have thought to themselves, “Boy ever since her husband died, this woman doesn’t quite have her head on straight anymore!”  Once all the jars are collected, Platt then goes on to see this woman telling her two sons to help her fill them all and being met with similar sentiments of skepticism from them.  Platt describes the woman pouring out those first few drops of oil timidly, just a tiny stream, probably with one eye closed…and then, just as with the disciples with the loaves, suddenly realizing the the oil was not stopping, that the little jar of oil was miraculously ever-flowing.  She must have excitedly gestured to her son for the next jar and quickly they must have switched the full jar for the empty jar, never interrupting the flow of oil.  And this must have gone on for some time, during which the atmosphere of that household must have been electric.  The skeptical sons were probably screaming, “It’s working, Mom!” And inevitably, there came a point when the widow asked for another jar when her son looked around and said, “There are no more jars, Mom.” The takeaway from this?  This is very important.  The oil only stopped flowing when they ran out of jars.  When there were no more jars is only when the oil stopped flowing.  That means that it all depended on how many jars they had collected at first.  They dictated the capacity to which God could fill them.  They set their expectation for God and He fulfilled his promise and met them there.  Now…what is the capacity for which you are setting God up for?  How many jars are you collecting?  Collect those jars, pray over them [Jesus prayed over the loaves and the widow prayed over the little jar of oil] and expect God to fill those jars.

God on Prime Time…

If you watched TV last week, God was hittin’ the airwaves hard!  First, on one of the nation’s top talent competitions and then, on a hot new drama…it was pretty fantastic!  Here is a little of what it went like. SMASH: This drama that features Katherine McPhee, had the entire cast going to church this week!  All the main characters attended and this scene, fittingly, seemed set apart from the rest of the show, truly showcased with the reverence it deserves.  Smash, set against the backdrop of the Broadway acting scene, abounds with corruption, competition, and temptation.  The plot has thickened with each successive episode and at this point in the trajectory, the actors are wrought with sin and confusion and pain.  In this episode, the cast gets the news that the show’s fate hangs precariously amidst a slew of mishaps. And so, when one one dancer announces that he’s going to church to pray the upcoming Sunday, several others chime in in agreement. The next scene opens up at the exterior of the church on a sunny morning with everyone strolling in to church.  The tension and drama are still apparent in their interactions, but that soon changes.  In church, the preacher gets everyone nodding and laughing in agreement and then the dancer and Katherine McPhee get up to bless everyone with a song: “Stand,” by Donnie McClurkin.  Just as with any song that speaks the Truth of God in a way that touches the depths of your soul in an inexplicable way, everyone in the room is moved, their souls are stirred, and changes happen as soon as post-service.  I wish I could post the entire church scene below, but here is at least the song that touched even me, right there in my living room.  Lyrics below.
——————————————— “What do you do when you’ve done all you can And it seems like it’s never enough? And what do you say when your friends turn away, you’re all alone? Tell me, what do you give When you’ve given your all, and seems like you can’t make it through? Stand and be sure Be not entangled in that bondage again You just stand, and be sure. God has a purpose. Yes, God has a plan.” remainder of lyrics here ——————————————— THE VOICE  is American Idol, upgraded!  The judges are real singers, are truly invested in the performers, and the performers can really sing!  America has definitely taken to the Voice and it won’t be long before this new show leaves American Idol in the dust!  In any case, after 20 episodes of the Voice, the 21st episode live finale would announce America’s long-awaited chosen winner!  Jermaine Paul, after an incredible rendition of “I Believe I Can Fly,” clearly stole America’s heart because he WON!
Jermaine Paul, thanking Jesus!
But where does God come in?!  Well, in his emotional speech after winning, he thanked his loved ones, then pointed up and stated, “Nothing but Jesus, nothing but Jesus!”  And the camera cut to his wife in the audience, nodding, and weeping.  Incredible.  See it here: http://youtu.be/jHgNu3x0D6c.  So, with Tebow-ing and Linsanity, it seems like God hasn’t left out the entertainment scene…how AWESOME!  Can’t wait for Actors InC to start makin’ waves too!

Campus Harvest 2012: Arise Durham!

Campus Harvest is an annual Student Conference each Spring with a mission to “Revolutionize Campus Ministry by Mobilizing the Local Church.”  In it’s 21st year, this seminal vision has attracted tens of thousands of university students and countless pastors. I had the opportunity to attend this conference and looked forward to what many touted as a “life-altering experience.”
campus harvest durham 2012
To me, Campus Harvest, at a cursory level, was a “church service on steroids:” two consecutive days of praise and worship and messages; emotions running high and low; people running, jumping, and dancing for God; people answering the alter call, getting saved, and sealing it with a baptism in droves.  It was a lot to take in and I will not lie; it was uncomfortable.  As much of a lover of God as I am, as much of a spontaneous and easily excitable person as I am, this fell outside of my comfort zone.  But I knew it wasn’t God…I’m simply not comfortable with such extremes.  I didn’t enjoy the Tony Robbins seminar or the Miami spin conference that I attended and it had everything to do with the crying and unbridled emotion that was fostered in these spaces. However, I resisted the urge to flee and kept myself peeled for what God had brought me there to experience.  I’m glad that I did.  Here are the moments from Campus Harvest that impressed upon me the most: APOLOGETICS: I’m very much a pragmatic and logical person.  And so, I believe God appealed to me through two apologetic seminars that were scheduled during Campus Harvest.  They were the only workshops on the topic and I counted it as no loss to forgo the other workshops in light of these.  I was captivated by the intellect, approachability, and passion demonstrated by the leaders of the two apologetics workshops. Gabe Bouch: Hailing from New Jersey and holding a degree from Rutgers (yes, I was excited), Gabe’s demeanor was disarmingly logical and friendly.  He believed, as a matter of fact, that Jesus is real.  Below are some of his arguments. His question for any skeptic is, “What happened to Peter, Paul, and James?”  They are all stories of men who were adamantly anti-Jesus, expressed through denial, persecution of Christians, and claim of Jesus’ insanity.  Yet, post-crucifixion, Peter was boldly declaring that Jesus is the Messiah, Paul became a preacher of the faith, and James became one of the central leaders of the church.  The only satisfactory answer for the radical change in these men is that they believed Jesus had been resurrected. The tomb was discovered by women.  This is important because women were of a low status in society during these times.  Thus, if someone were to fabricate the story of Jesus’ resurrection, they never would have wrote in women as the reporters of this crucial discovery.  If the story of Jesus’ resurrection was fabricated, one would have used strong figures to sell the case.  The fact that the story is so imperfect lends to its authenticity. Chris Berger:  Berger was just a powerhouse on fire for the evidence that God exists.  He could hardly contain himself as he relayed fact after evidence after inarguable conclusion that God is real.  His dry wit resulted in him sometimes scoffing at how obvious it is that God exists and that was humorously comforting.  His confidence boosted us all in that room, I believe, who struggle with articulating God to another, especially a non-believer.  Chris met us where we were, saying that he understands the need to feel convinced ourselves before attempting to convince someone else.  And his being thoroughly sold helped to sell us. The Shroud of Turin was the piece of evidence that impacted the group the strongest.  This piece of cloth has been found that literally was with Jesus in the tomb when he was buried.  It bore the impression of his face on it imprinted in a supernatural way as well as the pollen from 26 different flowers that only existed during the springtime in Jerusalem during the time of Jesus’ death.  This piece of evidence was History Channel-type evidence; forensic information, even.  It was mind-blowing for all of us and I walked away from there more solid in my faith than ever before.  It was awesome. I still have so much to learn about the fact of God.  I have a long way to go before I can rebut all the doubts that skeptics pose about God.  But at least, in my heart, I know it’s true and now, it’s just a matter of communicating that truth to others.  Here are some materials that the speakers also recommended to me that I will be sure to pick up: Suggested Resources (Gabe Bouch): Reasonable Faith: William Lane Craig (esp Chapter 8) The Case for Christ: Lee Strobel (esp Chapters 12-14; best place to start) Reason for God: Tim Keller MAGIC TRICKS: Jim Munroe jumped up on stage and spent the next 5 minutes communicating to the audience through a flurry of gestures and expressions, all without speaking.  He retrieved two volunteers from the audience simply for them to witness as he swallowed a foot of dental floss.  Upon survey of his mouth, they confirmed that he had indeed ingested itHe then proceeded to lift up his shirt (whereupon his first words were spoken: “six-pack!) and tugged at what seemed to be a hair on his stomach.  Of course, it was the dental floss.  He tugged at the dental floss and it tugged at his skin.  He tugged harder, coaxing some more of it out of his body.  With a squeal, he tugged hard and presented the foot of dental floss to the audience. This man continued to wow the audience for the next hour with magic trick after magic trick, some building upon others, some independent tricks, all intriguing and captivating and mind bending.  These were tricks an adult audience was admittedly smitten by.  I mean, how do you touch someone on their arm and have another person feel it?  How do you get one person to say an arbitrary time and then have it show up on a clock across the room?  How do you pre-write a phone number that an unknown audience member to dictate?  It was wonderful and excruciating all at once.  But what did it all have to do with God? After appealing to us via magic tricks, Mr. Munroe had us in the palm of his hands.  He then proceeded to tell a message.  He segued into a message about God!  It was genius.  I mean, like my friend DT sitting next to me said, “This guy is too cool.”  He was!  You know how someone’s appeal factor shoots up when they’re just so cool?  Yes, that kind of cool! And then…it got even more genius.  He told his testimony.  And it was a testimony about how he almost died from leukemia…a rare form…that required a bone marrow transplant…that literally only ONE woman…one 18-year old woman, could offer him.  And she chose life for him.  Now, the most incredible thing about this story was the way in which the puzzle came together in a way that mimicked the story of Jesus.  He received a new life, new blood flowed through him when he received this bone marrow.  But he had to essentially die to his own blood and bone marrow in order to receive this.  His birthday was in April and his bone marrow was donated 3 days after his birthday…essentially resurrecting him three days later.  He no longer lives of his own accord, but new life lives in him.  It’s pretty fantastic and he believes that this was all so that he could tell the story of God saving his life. DRUG DEALER TURNAROUND: Rice Brooks is passionate about something called “the God Test” that is used to open up conversations about God and hopefully facilitate conversation and conversions.  He literally went to campuses with this pamphlet and asked student after student these series of questions.  At one point, a student actually approached him with the introduction that he was “probably the biggest drug dealer on campus.”  They proceeded to converse, talk about God, and as the story goes, this drug dealer made the decision for God and now wins souls for Christ, not drugs. What’s more amazing is that after leaving everyone stunned w/ this story, Rice Brooks calls out to the audience, “Are you here?” and the guy walks down to the stage!  It was a moment, I tell ya.  With a nervous laugh and his arms crossed, he answered some questions, offered encouragement, and prayed for all who answered the call to campus ministry. FATHER/SON PRAYER EN ESPANOL: Campus Harvest is under the Every Nation conglomeration, which plants churches all over the globe.  As the name suggests, EN, and thus, Campus Harvest, is about touching every culture, every people with the message of God and they bask in stories of people moving in various countries.  During one high pointe of his message, Pastor Rice Brooks called up a pastor from Peru to come up and pray for his country.  He brought his 11-year old son with him and as he prayed in Spanish, his son interpreted in with a competence that belied his high-pitched pre-teen voice.  They closed in “en el nombre de Jesus, amen,” and it was beautiful. MY PROPHECY: It was part of the plan in this trip to have Jim Laffoon pray over me.  I was not prepared for this “prayer!”  Mr. Laffoon has the spiritual gift of prophecy, meaning that he can hear God and relay those words to you.  It was quite a spectacle to witness prophesying in action.  We were in the midst of our sushi dinner when Pastor Ron decided that time was of the essence and that Jim should do some praying.  Everyone sprung into action, clearly having been a part of this before.  Pastor Josh whipped out his iPhone and switched it into “record” mode.  Pastor Jim closed his eyes and reached across the table to Ryan.  And then it began: words of promise and comfort and revelation straight from God to Jim to Ryan.  Everyone was hushed, the iPhone was recording, and Ryan was nodding, taking it all in.  When Jim was done w/ Ryan’s prophecy, he looked straight at me and pointed.  I didn’t know what to do.  I literally pointed at myself to confirm that he wanted me.  He beckoned for me to come over and in I slipped to the seat across from Jim.  He spoke about me as an artist, a businesswoman, an active mind, a stabbed heart, an influence-er…so many incredible confirmations were showered over me and I am so grateful.  I am also grateful that I have the recording of my prophecy and I can’t wait to see it come to life. ROADTRIP: Part of the appeal of this trip to me was the fact that we were going to be DRIVING!  I don’t have a car and so to drive is like scratching a long-standing itch…and I got to do it for hours!  I reveled in the driving, the car conversations, my introduction to Chic-Fil-A and Bo’Jangles, and going again next year!
Chick Fil-A
Bo'jangles
 

CWIMA Conference 2012

I was given the opportunity to attend the Christian Women in Media Conference in Nashville last week, a meeting of Godly women from Dallas, Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, and Nashville, gathering to sharpen & encourage each other!  The final evening’s gala was a star-studded event, with the presence of international Bible teacher Kay Arthur, actress Jennifer O’Neil, sister of Johnny Cash Joanne Cash, author of Fireproof, Eric Wilson, daughter of Billy Graham, Ruth Graham and countless others. It was such a unique experience to be in the company of women who were Godly go-getters, pure and personable, accomplished and angelic.  Truly, over and over again, I was introduced to women who possessed amazing bodies of work and in the same breath, possessed the humility to pass the accolades on to God.  A pattern I noticed, which is nothing new when people follow God’s call, was that many of these women were thrust into the media field unexpectedly and unprepared.  And yet, because it was appointed by God, it was favored by God and they flourished. The theme of the conference was “Engaging Our Culture with the Gospel” and many of the women spoke about how to influence the world without submitting to the world; how to expand the kingdom without leaving the kingdom.  Sharon White Skaggs from the country music industry, referring to being the salt of the earth, said to be “just salty enough; because there’s nothing worse than something that is too salty!”  Kathleen Cooke, a Los Angeles casting director and production company owner, said it’s always her goal to have “one foot in the world and one foot in the kingdom.” Many women made the charge to us to get savvy about the world around us!  Someone said it’s no longer enough to sit at home reading our Bibles and praying; go out and learn what’s going on in the world; make sure you know what you’re praying about. When author of “Be the People,” Carol Swain, accepted her “Excellent Communicator” Award, she belied the past that had bore her, one riddled with extreme poverty, dropping out of school, teenage pregnancy, divorce, and the crib death of her child.  Yet, by the grace of God, she went on to achieve 5 college degrees, teach at Vanderbilt and Princeton Universities, and become a renown speaker and author.  She speaks on the devastating state of our country, despite the fact that it was founded on Christian values and pinpoints 1962 as a critical time: when prayer and Bible reading were outlawed in schools and things began going awry.  She told us to “plant seeds in the secular world as well as in ministry.” Co-founder of Campus Crusade, Vonette Bright, requested that we take to heart the American Prayer Initiative, one prayer for each day of the month, to be repeated until November 6th, 2012.  “Developed to help draw this culture and this nation back to the One upon whom she was founded,” the prayers include topics such as “the Law,” “Justice,” and “Leaders.” Susie Jennings founded Operation Care International, which throws the “biggest Birthday party for Jesus Christ” also known as “the biggest Christmas party for the homeless.”  Her story began with the death of her husband, sustains with a mission from God to give blankets to the homeless, and over a decade later, is helping over 10,000 needy people a year. I learned practical tips from an “On-camera Techniques” workshop, such how to study your interviews: mute the video and watch your body language.  And the reverse is just as necessary: walk away and listen to your performance.  Other words of wisdom included: you should pause and pray before any interview, be wise like a serpent and harmless like a dove, do not leave your savvy out of your Christianity, and that people want to see your heart…even if you’re not as articulate as you can be…they want to see you! As a panelist (for the first time!), I offered practical tips and resources for getting into the acting field the “Jeanette” way, meaning spending little to no money!  Here are, in a nutshell, some of my secrets:

Jeanette’s 5 Steps to Getting in the Industry/ Staying in the Industry:

Headshots:  Get a professional headshot done.  Don’t be ghetto ie: shooting it yourself, printing it from your own printer on printer paper!  Your headshot is the lasting impression that you leave with any casting director, agent, industry professional.  You can get free headshots done: visit Modelmayhem or Craigslist for collaborations with professional photographers! Footage: If you want to be more than a model, you’ll need to show how you act and sound.  Work for free or cheap just to gain the footage.  Use: Actorsaccess, Craigslist, Mandy, or create your own stories (nowadays, so many people are self-produced a la youtube, etc).  The goal: just get your face on camera! Reel:  Put all your footage into a highlights reel.  It doesn’t have to have a crazy, flashy intro with high profile jobs all over it.  Just use quick clips highlighting your best lines. You can hire someone for cheap via Odesk.com, Guru.com, Elance.com or do it yourself via iMovie, MovieMaker, Finalcut, etc. Classes/ workshops:  They put you around the right people, teachers, and mindset.  The learning should never stop and you shouldn’t only be practicing when you’re working or auditioning.  You can practice for free at Actors InC or win scholarships…I did it, so can you! Representation:  Now that you’ve packaged yourself, shop yourself around to agents.  Check out agents in your area via the Ross Reports, your local SAG office, or Jurgita.  Do it digitally with an emailed cover letter, attached headshot and link to your online reel!  Once you have agents working for you, you’ve got experience and expertise on your side and you’ll soon be auditioning and working and before long, a pro! The CWIMA Conference was a fun, edifying, and memorable experience and on the heels reading “Never Eat Alone,” which inspired me to attend four conferences this year, I’ve got one down and four to go!