Our Greatest Fear

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     “Live life with a due sense of responsibility, not as those who do not know the meaning of life, but as those who do.” ~Ephesians 5:15

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Public Art

I’ve been pretty public about my love of public art. At its best, public art (large or small, authorized or un) is brilliantly or at least cleverly executed, and fits knowingly in its surroundings, intentionally altering them. Here’s a gallery of some current favorites!

(Click on any image to enlarge or to start slide show)

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A Filmmaker’s Journal

I’m working on finishing the novelization of my screenplay Over-the-Rhine, a drama about addiction, death, and forgiveness (you can watch the trailer here). I’m striving to keep it real and honest, while wondering if Christian readers, like faith-based moviegoers, will find it too real (I’ll probably end up with a secular publisher). After the movie Over-the-Rhine’s premiere, I wrote about the audience’s response (below).

Have we finally come of age?

Mitch Teemley

Something Real

ICFF Award“Faith-based” movies are in the toddler stage. Hollywood only began to realize there was a large audience for such films when The Passion of the Christ sold massive numbers of tickets to churchgoers in 2004. But it wasn’t until Fireproof, a low-budget indie written and directed by a Baptist minister, made almost $40 million in 2008 that faith-based movies became a recognizable box office phenomenon.

They’re still learning to walk. Almost every faith-based film released has been criticized for ringing false, for being more concerned with being inoffensive than with creating something real. And there’s more than a little truth in the criticism.

We knew our film was different—it has a grittiness that is unfamiliar in religious movies—so we didn’t expect to win any awards. We just hoped to find out how movie-goers would respond. And we were overjoyed when Over-the-Rhine’s premiere audience cheered as the…

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Posted in Culture, For Pastors and Teachers, Movies, Popular Culture & Entertainment, Religion/Faith, Writing | Tagged , , , | 16 Comments

Wise Bear

Piglet and Pooh

Have a wonderful end of the week,

and then a perfecticle weekend,

and then an even wonderfuller week,

and then, well,

you know,

just keep on going.

           “If you look the right way, you can see that the whole world is a garden.”      ~Frances Hodgson Burnett

“It’s a funny thing about life, once you begin to take note of the things you are grateful for, you begin to lose sight of the things that you lack.” ~Germany Kent

  “There are two ways to get enough. One is to continue to accumulate more and more.   The other is to desire less.” ~G.K. Chesterton

“I must learn to be content with being happier than I deserve.” ~Jane Austen

“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” ~Dr. Seuss

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Written on the Grave

216538bb912abc8beef5f6f7760bd9c4.jpegMy Featured Blogger this week is Kaletso Chris, a young South African law student and freelance writer who blogs under the name Forgotten Magic. The law student side of him compels him to explore moral-social issues, rights and wrongs. But the writer side of him compels him to address them in poetic, even stream-of-conscious language. He’s abstract at times, yes. But what’s always clear is his passion for truth.

Read him and you’ll see!

Forgotten Magic: Lifestyle blog

If they said that every man’s troubles were to be written on his grave, some would flee and die in as many foreign lands as possible.

And if it where said that every man’s debts were to be read out loud in church, some would flee while we closed our eyes in worship.

And if it were that we could taste our neighbour’s tears in every savoured glass of wine, some would sleep as early as the chickens and never be seen in the morning.

I always hoped that I would grow up to face my own sins and be held accountable.

But if every shed of blood was to be added to the ink of my pen, then maybe I too would curl into a tight coil like a millipede, because I could have seven hundred legs, but never enough to run from the truth.

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Clouds

What are they trying to tell us?

Then again, maybe it’s not so much what they’re trying to tell us, as what we’re trying to tell them.

“There is divinity in the clouds.” ~Lailah Gifty Akita

“Clouds in the sky very much resemble the thoughts in our minds! Both change perpetually from one second to another!” ~Mehmet Murat ildan

“There are no rules of architecture for a castle in the clouds.” ~G.K. Chesterton

“There was a star riding through clouds one night, and I said to the star, ‘Consume me’.” ~Virginia Woolf

“I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now
from up and down, and still somehow
it’s cloud illusions I recall
I really don’t know clouds at all”

~Joni Mitchell

Clouds aren’t divine, they only seem like it.

On the other hand, imagination is.

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7 Components of Spiritual Leadership

Seljanlandsfoss, Iceland

I’m a vision guy. I tend toward creative rather than management roles. But from the start, God made it clear my emphasis during my last big project (directing and producing the feature film Notzilla) would to be on leadership. So I turned to one of the greatest leaders in history: Moses.

Moses wasn’t a natural leader. He was a vision guy—great at talking to burning bushes, not so great at talking to hoards of Hebrews. He was also passionate and strong-willed (ahem, I can relate). He tried to beg off, but God wouldn’t take לא for an answer. True, God allowed his brother Aaron to help, but Moses alone was to wield the staff of God’s presence.

Things hit a major low when water supplies ran out (Numbers 20:3-8). So God instructed Moses and Aaron to “speak” to a particular rock, promising that when they did water would spring forth from it. But Moses was so frustrated with the quarreling Hebrews that instead he shouted, “Must we bring forth water from this rock!” And then he whacked it with his staff. Twice.

Oops.

Misrepresenting God is near the top of God’s לא List. Result? After a glimpse of the Promised Land, Moses died. Why? Because, “when the congregation quarreled,” he and Aaron failed “to show forth God’s holiness” (Numbers 27:13-14). Instead, they placed the focus on themselves and on their anger.

I’d previously written a scene inspired by this incident in my fantasy novel The Wishing Map. But it took on new meaning when just before production began, God whispered, “This is your leadership paradigm.”

Oh, great! I thought. I just have to do better than one of the greatest leaders in history! But then I realized I had a chance at a Moses-Do-Over (something Moses never got). So I reviewed God’s instructions in Numbers 20:8: “Take your staff…and gather the congregation. Speak to the rock that is before them, and it will yield its water…so that they and their livestock can drink.”

I saw seven key components:

  1. God – Don’t hatch schemes and ask God to bless them. Find out what He’s doing, and sign up for that!
  2. Staff – Humbly and soberly accept the staff (role) that God hands you.
  3. Rock – Then confidently approach the rock, the project God has set before you. Your purpose is to draw forth His intended results from it.
  4. Speak – Calmly but scrupulously use your authority to draw forth those results. (Underpinned by constant prayer, I might add!)
  5. Water – As a symbol of the his Spirit, water represents God’s central role in those results. (You are the staff in His hand!)
  6. Congregation – The water from the rock is meant to sustain and encourage believers. But there are others present, as well…
  7. Livestock – God also sustains those who are unaware of his presence. They are “livestock” only in that they are oblivious to his role (they may, in fact, be more intellectually and creatively gifted than those in “the congregation”).

I had both believers and non-believers on my team during this project, many of whom I cherish and will work with again. It was a secular project, but the crew of my previous faith-based film had many non-believing members, as well.

Even if you’re in ministry, you’ll end up leading believers and non-believers. You’re calling is always to humbly lead and, when the congregation quarrels, to faithfully execute no less than a Moses Do-Over…

And faithfully show forth God’s holiness!

Posted in For Pastors and Teachers, Humor, Memoir, Quips and Quotes, Religion/Faith | Tagged , , , , | 34 Comments