Jesus Loves Bill Gates

So in this blog, I want to talk about suffering, but I don't want to compare sufferings, I don't think that is right. I believe that suffering is relative. Viktor Frankl said that 'suffering is more like the behavior of gas. If any amount of gas was put in a room, it'd fill up the room completely and evenly, no matter how big the room. Suffering does this to the human soul and mind, no matter if it's great or little, therefore size of suffering is relative.' (paraphrased). In the beginning of May I heard a quote from Mark Twain that said "If it's your job to eat a frog, it's best to do it first thing in the morning. And If it's your job to eat two frogs, it's best to eat the biggest one first." This might sound separate but I'll get to it.

Since I've heard that quote it's changed how I approach work as a freelancer. I've usually worked great with to-do lists. But now, after I write down all the things that I have to do for the day, I find the one that I want to do least and do that first. After that, everything is easier in comparison and I've increased my productivity drastically.

So from that experience I've learned to start embracing even the small sufferings in life. I've realized that we try to avoid any kind of suffering big and small. Even when it comes to something like getting out of bed, when our alarm goes off we hit snooze. We want to delay the suffering. Because to stay in bed would be to stay in comfort and warmth and to get out of bed is to suffer a little. But that's a good thing.

We don't deny ourselves much of anything. When we are hungry, we eat. In America, we are about 5 minutes away from a meal or a snack at any moment. We can walk to the fridge or go to a drive-thru. We don't know what it truly means to hunger. When we want to watch a movie, we watch it. When we want to do anything, we just do it. Then we are confused why we can't control ourselves when it comes to diets, looking at porn or having another drink. We've never denied ourselves anything throughout the whole week so when it comes to important things, our 'deny ourself' muscle is weak and we give in. Whatever we want to do, whatever makes us feel good, we do it.

Because to avoid sex, porn, drunkenness, impulse buying, overeating, Netflix binging, etc. Resisting whatever tempts us is suffering for us. It's hard to stop watching a TV show when all the episodes are right there in front of us. Our curiosity makes us suffer when we haven't 'caught up' with our shows. To pray, get quiet time, read and face responsibilities is suffering for us as well. We delay, "mark as unread", hit snooze and take care of things later. We avoid anything that is hard. We generally just don't do anything that we don't want to do. So when real suffering comes, like death of a loved one, we can't hit the snooze button. We don't know how to handle it well.

And this generation celebrates it. Do what you want, when you want. Delay responsibilities. Historically this never turned out good for any culture that embraced this philosophy.

I've been reading a book "Man's Search for Meaning" by Viktor Frankl and it's been blowing my mind.

To describe it quickly, it's a book written by a jewish concentration camp survivor. He was a phycologist before going in and eventually got to apply a lot of his theories in one of the worst mass sufferings in human history.

During this time a famous phycologist, Freud, had a (popular) theory that "the main desire in all humans is pleasure", basically that behind everything that we do, it is an attempt at pleasure. But Frankl's theory was that everyone's main desire is meaning and when we don't find that, we seek out pleasure. Almost to distract ourselves from a lack of meaning.

Basically, if you have a reason a meaning to suffer (even the smallest sufferings, like get out of bed early) it'll help you face it. Even if it's a small meaning, like to not get fired. But if you have a strong meaning, it'll help you through great suffering. Frank Capra said "The spirit of man is never lower than when he wakes up with noting to rush to."

So in Viktor's book, he talks a lot about how meaning is what can get us through the worst of sufferings. Nietzsche said that "He who has a Why to live for can bear almost any How" and Frankl agrees, in his own words:

Such people forgot that often it is just such an exceptionally difficult external situation which gives man the opportunity to grow spiritually beyond himself. Instead of taking the [concentration] camp's difficulties as a test of their inner strength, they did not take their life seriously and despised it as something of no consequence. They preferring to close their eyes and to live in the past. Life for such people became meaningless...

...We could say that most men in a concentration camp believed that the real opportunities of life had passed. Yet, in reality, there was an opportunity and a challenge. One could make a victory of those experiences, turning life into an inner triumph, or one could ignore the challenge and simply vegetate, as did a majority of the prisoners.

Separately, in the same week, I read this from a blog:

I have noticed that people tend to stop maturing when they start self-medicating. Everyone has very tough seasons in life, but by persevering through them we have an opportunity to mature and grow as people. Those who self-medicate with drugs and/or alcohol, Netflix* (as well as other things) often thwart maturity as they escape the tough seasons of life rather than face them.

This explains why some people can be biologically much older than they are emotionally and spiritually.

*I added Netflix.

So, I started seeing a lot of people from a lot of different generations and eras, all start saying in their own words that it is in the suffering that we grow and become the people that we must become. I went to church that week and they read this from Paul:

Romans 5:3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope."

That night, I watched a Hitchcock film "The Man Who Knew Too Much" and in a quick background sentence someone says "Few of us pause to think how life's adversities work in our behalf, to make better men and women of us."

So after getting the same theme throughout the week. I was starting to get worried that God was preparing me for a boat load of suffering or something. But either way I started accepting that suffering is as much a part of life as death is. I know that from my past that suffering has grown me into the person that I am now.

About a year ago, I interviewed a former prostitute. This is a transcription from our interview and this is the very thing that she started the interview with.

First I want to say I wouldn’t trade nothing for what I’ve been though, because what I’ve been through is what led me to build a relationship with Jesus. I was asked one time if I could change something, what would I change and my answer is nothing, I wouldn’t trade nothing...

Then, she continued:

I was born in a terrible situation, my mom was an addict and when I was 7 she shot me up with heroin and repeatedly sold me. Over and over.

Her story goes on to talk about crack addiction, gang-bangs, self-abortion attempts and even being raped from most of her family members. And she kept saying that she "wouldn't trade nothing".

While learning all of this about suffering. I've recently been talking to a pedophile for a film that I'm writing. After a lot of research of something as dark as pedophilia there was something beautiful on the other side, I've learned that there is a whole community of pedophiles that say "I'm sexually attracted to children, but I don't ever want to act out on it and I need help". The one that I've gotten to know is 50 years old and has never acted out on his attraction. And there is a community of them trying to help each other, because there is very little help for pedophiles. If they go to therapy or even confessional, there's a risk of getting reported due to the mandatory reporting laws, so they generally refrain from confiding in anyone. He told me that two people in his community have called the suicide hotline because of their depression and discussed their problem and they were told basically "go ahead, the world would be a better place without you".

I can't imagine how lonely that struggle must be. How misunderstood and excommunicated they must feel. In my career, I've gotten to film/meet former prostitutes, girls that were sexually/physically abused their whole lives, failed self-abortionists, women with successful abortions, people that had their daughter thrown three blocks in a tornado and killed, a guy that has lost his ability to use the left-side of his body, down-syndrome people and family members of mentally handicapped, homeless men and women, parents that have buried their young children, brutal divorces, celibate homosexuals and have seen starvation in the slums of Africa. I've seen a common thread in all of them, that life is worth it and the struggles are what grew them spiritually and personally. Though most aren't grateful for their suffering directly, they said they wouldn't trade the character, wisdom and strength they've gotten from the suffering.

2 Corinthians 12:7 So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

I truly believe that all of us have a cross we must bare, something that we have to deny ourselves. That's why Jesus says to die to yourself everyday.

In Luke, Jesus says that "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. "For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it."

In C.S. Lewis' "The Great Divorce" he talks about Heaven having grass as hard as diamonds, because in "God's country" it was so substantial that when the main character went there it hurt him at first, but through walking on it after time, his feet became more calloused and he became a person of substance where he could bend the blades of grass. And in Hell, everyone got whatever they wanted when they thought of it. So when they quarreled with a neighbor they'd think up a new house down the street, until the nearest person was a 7 years journey. They got what they wanted, but it wasn't substantial and it was lonely.

I think the first and often forgotten part of the gospel is that Jesus loves you. He's not scared of your current or past situation. That's my job, if I only can say one sentence, I will say that Jesus loves you, no matter where you're at. That truth has become more and more real to me throughout my life, not because of the good I've learned to do, but because of the times I've failed that I was able to understand the depth of that.

Recently, I posted a Facebook post saying "Jesus loves (any name) Jenner". And a lot of people agreed but also some told me that it's not the full truth, that he is a sinner and Jesus loves him enough to call him from his sin. If I just posted "Jesus loves Bill Gates", I don't think people would have told me that I'd have to mention the second part. But honestly, I don't think Jesus sees them differently. I really don't. I believe that Bruce and Bill both are loved by Jesus. But I also believe that if they came to Jesus, he would ask them to change some things in their life. There isn't anyone, if they came to Jesus, that he wouldn't ask them to change certain things about their lives, deny other things and continue some other things.

That's the point, Jesus is calling all of us to deny ourselves. First off, every real relationship requires sacrifice. The amount of sacrifice changes with depth of the relationship. With a friend relationship you might have to watch a movie you wouldn't normally watch and with a marriage relationship, you might have to give up something all together and with a parental relationship, you might have to sacrifice your time to feed them and pay bills.

The problem is, that we are told that sacrifice is a bad thing. If we were kernels of wheat, we would want growth without falling into the ground and dying**. We want to be wheat without sitting in the rain and the hot sun.

I once wrote a blog about what if we could think in the womb. We'd think, "why am I growing legs, I don't need those here" and then "Why am I growing eyes, it's dark, I don't need these" and it might cause us growing pains. But then when we're ripped out of the womb into the cold world, it's worse by comparison. But then we suffer through life not really understanding why we are going through this suffering or that, and usually when we are about to die we leave kicking and screaming, but not knowing that in the next world, we are going to finally put to use all of the suffering that we endured here on earth.

The thing is, Jesus absolutely loves you. But if you come to him and truly let him lead you. He will absolutely grow you, stretch you and give you an abundant life. Because he loves you. But I assure you, it will seem like he doesn't want you happy because he'll take away your dessert until you eat your vegetables. But I assure you, you'll be better for it. He'll trade your happiness to give you joy if you let him.

And honestly, Jesus will tell you to give up and if you don't want to give it up, he'll let you walk away, which he did when he told the rich man to give up certain things. Jesus didn't see him start walking away and say "wait, hold on, let's figure this out or make a compromise". Jesus didn't pretend that the rich ruler was following him, because he wasn't. If Jesus tells you something and you don't do it, you're not following him. You might love him and his teaching, but you don't trust him.

"Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires." -Galatians

I do believe there are universal sins. The ones mentioned in the Bible. I also believe that there is the sin of disobedience. If Jesus tells you to give up something and you don't, that's a sin. But it doesn't mean it's a sin for someone else. This is where judging happens, because when someone abstains from something like alcohol and sometimes thinks that anyone else that drinks alcohol is sinning.

The thing is, Jesus loves you. If you really believe that, you'll trust him with your life and your actions. It's going to suck at times. It's going to be swimming upstream like a salmon. But if you know that swimming upstream is for a greater purpose like laying eggs, you'll power through it easier.

The way in which a man accepts his fate and all the sufferings it entails, the way in which he takes up his cross, gives him ample opportunity--even under the most difficult circumstances--to add a deeper meaning to this life. If there is a meaning of life at all, there must be meaning in suffering. -Viktor Frankl

In conclusion, Jesus doesn't make your life easy, he will make it worth it though. The things he asks of you might even be the source of your suffering. But I assure you that it will also be the source of your meaning. Which can get you through your suffering, change you and give you joy, even in the midst of your suffering.

You strike the match... why not be utterly changed to fire? To sacrifice the shadow and the mist of a brief life you never much liked? So if you'd care to come along, we're gonna curb all our never-ending, clever complaining, as who's ever heard of a singer criticized by his song? Though we hunger, though all that we eat brings us little relief, we don't know quite what else to do; We have all our beliefs, but we don't want our beliefs...

G-d of Peace, we want You. (mewithoutYou)

Whatever your lot, whatever the thorn in your side, you might have made it your identity, your crutch, your box or your lenses in which you understand the world. To trade those in for clearer lenses and for a deeper identity, it will hurt. It will be tough. but I assure you it will be worth it and it will give you a meaning to your suffering that will help you endure.

your friend,

-Isaac

**Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. John 12:24

In Your Facebook

Anyone else feel how negative Facebook is? As someone who graduated from homeschooling, I can only imagine what high school was like, I'd guess it's a lot like Facebook. People who 'love' seem to only love the people that aren't their neighbor. They love and support the people that are like them or are geographically far from them. If you love people that are just like you, that's a form of loving yourself. But the thing is, there's not one person in the world that will agree 100% with your every opinion. So why are we turning on each other so quickly when our opinions don't align?

It makes sense to me that divorce happens so frequently. We don't know how to love people that are different than us, we are far too easily offended and we only have the illusion of making the world a better place via limiting our action to spreading awareness, we're not really changing our actions due to our awareness.

In "The Great Divorce" (by CS Lewis) hell is described as a place where everyone gets what they want. If you want a new house, you can think it up and it'll appear. But after you fight with your neighbor, you pick up and move until the nearest neighbor is a 7 year journey, just to see another soul.

I suggest watching "Monsters Are Due on Maple Street" by Twilight Zone (on Hulu/Netflix) it's 25 minutes long and it's a prophetic description of Facebook, I think.

We're in a civil war because we don't believe in sacrifice, forgiveness, empathy and self-control.

Lord, save us from ourselves. Save us from what we want. Because what we want isn't working.

your friend,

-Isaac

Put Your Shoes On

A lot of times we see the big miracles in the Bible and think about how much faith that person must have had. Then we look at our own life and often think "I'm not seeing these kind of things happen in my life". Which is probably very true, I know it's true for me, with a few exceptions (if I'm being honest). I have a lot of thoughts on this. If you look at Moses, David and Abraham from the Bible. They all had great tests of their faith. But as a friend pointed out to me recently, is that all of them have a lifetime of smaller tests leading up to that.

Moses was asked to throw his staff on the ground and then it turned into a snake, then after ask Pharaoh to let God's people go, then split the Red Sea, then water from a rock. David wrestled a bear and a lion with "the help from God" while he was alone, then defeated Goliath with that in mind. Abraham saw his elderly wife get pregnant, even though he tried his own way first. Eventually, because he saw a miracle firsthand, even though he tried his own way, when God asked him to sacrifice Isaac, He didn't try his own way this time. Because he knew God's promise of "making a nation from his seed", he saw that work out earlier and believed that it could happen the second time.

Basically, God wasn't asking these crazy things out of nowhere, it usually started from these smaller acts of obedience first, then it worked itself up to bigger steps of faith with higher reward (and even higher risk of embarrassment). But if you think about the Moses story, he did try to advocate for his Jewish people his own way by killing an Egyptian, then he fled to the wilderness. God asked him to obey him when nobody else was around. No risk of embarrassment. God said "take off your shoes", then later "throw your staff on the ground" and then it turned into a snake. Then God started testing him in public, with the same miracle throwing his staff on the ground.

Moses saw the miracle happen in private then God asked him to do the same thing in public. David was asked to face a giant in public after he's conquered a lions while he was alone. But we haven't graduated from the tests when we're alone.

I honestly think that we haven't seen anything because we haven't even taken off our shoes (hypothetically speaking). God asked us to do something small a test of obedience, but we don't. We leave them on.

If you have ever ridden a horse, the first time on it, you have to break it in. You sit on it and it'll test you, it'll start moving, if you let it move without your command, it'll control the whole ride. But you have to pull the reigns, basically saying "nope". Then it'll try to move again, you pull "nope". It'll move. You pull. Then you sit for a long time, then it'll get impatient and move, you pull again, "nope". After a while of that, the horse will know "I'm not moving without your permission. Once it obeys you, that's when you and the horse can start riding, racing, moving. It's not fun until the horse finally stops trying to do it's own thing.

I'm 28 years old and it's taken me this long to realize that God is asking really stupid things of me to break me in. Stuff that doesn't seem to matter, because I don't understand it. Just like a horse wouldn't understand why I wanna just sit still for a period of time, but it's not about sitting still, it's about obedience. Because I'm not gonna wanna ride a horse, especially race it or go near cliffs until I know that it's going to obey me. God does this. He's teaching us to obey on small things before we start really going to work.

But here's what happens with us. We've seen so many people do some really ungodly things in the name of God. Because they "heard his voice". So we run from that, we think, "well I wanna really be sure before I just listen to whatever voice I hear in my head". And I agree with that, to an extent. But I think it's paralyzing our faith and potential in the Kingdom. God's not going to ask us right off the bat to lead a nation out of Egypt. And I don't think He ever will unless we start walking in obedience in the small things.

We might be walking down the street or be alone in our room and feel God say "touch the top of your head" and we think "that's just a voice in my head, I'm not just going to obey the voices in my head". But I think we should just touch the top of our head. One of two things can happen, 1. it's the voice in our head and we just touched the top of our head or 2. it's God, testing us and teaching us obedience.

Unfortunately, what happens is that the people that do the weird thing that God asks us, like touch the top of our head, take off our sandals, wear a blue shirt that day. We start telling everyone else that's exactly what they should do too. Then it becomes a tradition, not a relationship that is between you and God. God has asked me to drive or touch the top of my head, but He probably isn't asking you to do that.

Honestly, when I feel a weird request like wear a blue shirt, one of two things happen. I either brush it off as a voice in my head and wear a red shirt and stop hearing 'weird requests'. Or I wear a blue shirt, then later that day I get a bigger request, like walk into that store or something that requires more time/obedience. Then usually by the end of the day, I do or say something inspired, that helps someone else. I hear "touch the top of your head" then later in the day "tell that person this" and it's always ended up being incredibly loving and life giving to that person. But if I wear the red shirt I end up not being guided throughout the day and end up stumbling in one sin or another.

People will brush off that voice saying "nope, it's just a voice in my head". But they don't seem to brush off that other voice in their head that says to 'have another drink' or 'look at porn'. But the real reason we brush it off, is because obedience makes us uncomfortable and that's exactly why God is starting small. Because Moses would not put his staff on the red sea unless he saw the benefits of taking off his sandals first.

We want God to guide our life, but we don't want Him to micromanage.

By the way, I'm totally aware of how weird this blog can seem. I'm aware of the 'crazy' Christians that do crazy things. I feel this is different. This is like your parents saying "put your shoes on" before you go to the playground and when they see that you won't even put your shoes on, they're not gonna take you to the playground.

I think in youthgroup we're taught to go for Jesus so hard that we can't handle it. We're told to run the race of our faith, to change the world. But I think we're asking kids to run a marathon with no training. In fact, I think we need to teach young Christians how to tie their shoes and walk before we tell them to run a marathon. I absolutely believe that faith is a journey and we need to be aware of the stage of the journey each of us is on. Some people need to be asked to move to Africa, some people need to be asked to put on their shoes.

I think Jesus has put mud on our blind eyes, but we never washed off the mud like he asked us and now we walk around thinking that God doesn't work miracles.

Obey the weird requests. If anything, it'll show God that you're listening and willing to obey. But I should also say, that God won't ask you to go against the Bible, loving Him or loving people. But putting your hand on your head or wearing a blue shirt is morally neutral. So wear the blue shirt. Whatever you feel God is saying to you. He's trying to open you up for a bigger adventure if you just put on your shoes.

your friend,

-Isaac

$30,000 Millionaires

I've noticed a trend recently with my generation that when the topic of marriage and having a family comes up, people often want to delay it. To 'live their life' first. I totally understand that desire. I suppose it's good to find yourself a bit before you get into a lifelong relationship. In the Bible, Paul talks about if you can stay unmarried, it might be better for your ministry, that you can serve God easier without obligations to a family. But when you're married, you have to serve your marriage and God.

I think we've taken only half of that though. I think we stay unmarried so we can serve ourselves.

A lot of times when someone mentions the desire to stay unmarried until they are older, they always list off a bunch of things that have nothing to do with ministry, helping others or serving God. They always mention traveling, seeing the world first, furthering themselves, etc. Maybe even for some, they just need to catch up on their Netflix.

I think what Paul was saying is that if you're single, you have a tremendous opportunity (maybe even obligation) to help others, serve others, dedicate your life to helping others in some way.

The beginning of your life, you're incredibly co-dependant. You can't eat, get around, sleep, burp or wipe your own butt without someone else. Eventually, if you're parents raised you well, they eventually started letting you do things on your own, eventually and hopefully getting you to a place that your independent. Most people in my generation don't get there fully, there's tons of studies of delayed adolescence being later and further throughout the years. People are waiting until their thirty to move out of their parents or even later to get married.*

I think a lot of people have a goal of eventually becoming totally independent. I think that's great. But I think as Christians, our goal shouldn't stop there. We should become independent so that we can eventually become interdependent. Which is eventually helping others.

To put it simply, the three steps would be:

1. Parents feeding you 2. You feeding yourself 3. You feeding others

I think a lot of us either stop at 2 (independence) or before we're fully at 2.

I love Martin Luther King, Mother Teresa, Ghandi, etc. Though with their flaws, they were giants in dramatically affecting history by giving their lives to serve a bigger cause then 'getting to see the world' (but ironically, they got to see the world as a result of their efforts). But I've looked around at my generation and the past 20-30 years. Who's this generation's Martin Luther King? A lot of my generation loves awareness, but not much action. We stop at a tweet or pouring ice water over our head and then dry off thinking we've made a difference and get back to our Netflix.

We aren't leading ourselves to action (independence) so we can never lead others to action (interdependence). And I think that's why there isn't a Martin Luther King of this generation.

Another thing is that we worry too much about changing everything in the world, that we don't trust the body of Christ. (Interdependence ultimately means mutually relying on each other). If Martin Luther King worried about the poverty in India, he wouldn't have been so impactful to the Civil Rights movement. And if Mother Teresa was worried about Civil Rights in America, she wouldn't have done what she did in India. But if you look at our Facebook posts, we have our hands on so many different pots that nothings getting done, and maybe that's because it's paralyzingly overwhelming.

Another thing that I see a lot is when someone does have a great platform, everyone tells that person how to use it. I once heard a personally life-changing talk about loving God and loving people and you could see that it impacted a lot of the people in the audience. On the drive home someone started talking about how "if that speaker has so many people hanging on his every word, he should have used that opportunity to mention sex trafficking". Which was also a great cause, but what I've learned is that if you feel so convicted about a certain subject, that's your calling and I think you should use that conviction as a fuel to do what you can to help.

Trust the body to do their job, but also do your part within your role and it'll help the whole body.

I just look around so much at my generation and it seems like loneliness, lack of purpose/meaning, anxiety and depression are common struggles. I am a strong believer in the idea that if you 'lay down your life for your friends', you 'give your life, you'll gain it' and that if you love and forgive you'll understand love and forgiveness in your own life.

Jesus says "whatever you do unto the least of these, you do unto me". I take that more literally than ever. If you visited Jesus in prison, who's life would change, yours or his? If you gave Jesus food, who would feel fulfilled, you or him? Anytime you hear someone come back from a missions trip or homeless shelter to help. They say "I thought I was going to change them, but it changed me".

I started writing a prisoner 6 years ago, pen-pals. At first I thought I'd be helping him out. But the more I've written him, the more I've seen how Jesus sees me. He's always excited to hear from me, nothing I could ever do would shock him, he is always waiting eagerly for me to write him.

I've had my lonely days for sure, but when I started living for others, I haven't felt lonely in almost four years. I've been depressed and it melted away anytime I spent less time entertaining myself or worrying about how to get me out of my depression and eventually focusing on other people's struggles and problems, it always pulled me right out of it.

I just see so many people talk about living for themselves before they get married. Like someone saying "I want to have on last cigarette before I quit". Marriage is about living selflessly and the more you live for yourself, the harder it will be to change directions. I think we should start working on living selflessly now, walking that out now. And if we never get married, we'll still feel fulfilled and not lonely.

You need to watch "It's a Wonderful Life" again. Especially because it's not Christmas right now. Watch it with the lenses that he changed the lives of many not because he was their friend but because he gave his life and goals to "see the world" to help someone other than him out.

Here's to George Bailey. The richest man in town.

your friend,

-Isaac

*I know these are blanket statements and also there are a lot of exceptions, I'm not saying this as a black and white rule, but a dark gray area.

The Gospel according to The Departed

In the movie "The Departed", Leonardo De Caprio's character goes into a job interview after graduating the police academy. He is asked "Do you want to be a cop or do you want to appear to be a cop? A lot of guys want to appear to be cops, get the gun, the badge, pretend like they're on TV". After the rant, they basically ask him to work as an undercover cop in the mafia, that nobody will know he is a cop but the two officers that are interviewing him and it will end up helping the Police Force way more. So I guess I'll ask, do you want to be a Christian or do you want to appear to be a Christian? I'll elaborate.

I'm filming a music video at the moment that I'm shooting entirely documentary style, with no actors and getting real life situations. Last Saturday I filmed a crackhead smoking crack in his house, a prostitute on the corner of the street and in her house watching TV, I rode with a police car, filmed inmates in their cells and so many others all with permission and signed release forms. Anyway, when I was filming the prostitute in her house watching TV, the cops were driving around the neighborhood looking for a suspect from a murder that happened about ten houses down that night. I'm saying all of this to say that this area was rough. After that, I dropped off some people at a house that was on the block. They told me about it, it was 'community night' where this one young couple with a few kids invites people from the neighborhood into their home to eat dinner with them. I had to go in a meet them. They were awesome and they were Christians.

When I walked away I realized a few things. They don't have a website, a twitter page, a 'gofundme' page or an ulterior motive. They just are out there, in the trenches loving people for real. They didn't seem to care if the rest of the world knew what they were doing and the rest of the world probably will never know. Because they're too busy loving people. I've always said the best filmmakers usually have the worst websites, because they're usually too busy making films. And the ones with awesome websites that are super updated and current demo reels every few months are usually the ones looking for work and not making many films.*

A few verses came to mind when I saw this couple, besides almost everything that Jesus ever said, the biggest one is "Don't let your right hand know what the left hand is doing". I think when we love people, we are so quick to tweet it or facebook it. I think there is room for that and sometimes it's nice to inspire others to do the same. But I also think that if you broadcast your good deeds 100% of the time, I'd say check your motives. (The Bible backs this up if you want me to cite verses).

The other thing I got from seeing that couple is that it is incredibly easy to get discouraged by the church. In fact, that is one thing that comes up a lot with Christians that are my age. Too be honest, on one hand I understand, I get it why it's so discouraging, but on the other, I think 'just shut up'. Because I've seen it. I can name you some Christians that are so deep into loving people that you'd never know they are Christians and they are so humble that you'd never know they were so deep in loving people. They are undercover, they are creating relationships and speaking truth into people's lives while also meeting people's physical needs. What's incredibly sad is those Christians aren't always respected or even regarded as Christians. I'll explain.

Let's say there is a guy at a Starbucks talking to a German, in German, the whole time but speaking love, truth and the gospel to the German man. And then some Christians walk in and see the interaction, don't understand the words being said and don't think anything of it. But a Christian that knows German would understand what kind of conversation is happening and step in as a servant by refilling their coffee or buying them some snacks to help them stay there longer and hopefully avoid any more interruptions. The thing that we're dealing with here is Christians aren't speaking any other language than Christianese and so we go to Starbucks, speaking Christianese so other Christians hear us, but the world doesn't even understand. And we walk away giving each other highfives on our bravery to 'spread to gospel'. (That's why Christian movies are like filthy rags. If you ever want me to rant for several hours, ask me about Christian movies).

The last thing that I took away from that couple is that you can get discouraged all that you want about other Christians, but I guarantee you won't find what you're looking for on Fox News interviews. If you go where the world is hurting and you'll find Christians that are doing something about it. If you go to where the sick are, you'll find doctors. If you go to a homeless soup kitchen, you'll find servers. They're usually too busy loving people to give you updates all of the time on all the people that they're loving this week.

Another thing I should mention, if you're an undercover cop working in the mafia, other cops are going to attack you, because it's confusing to them. When Jesus hung out with sinners he was attacked often for it. It's actually pretty lonely, because the world will wonder "you're a Christian, why are you hanging out with me?" and Christians will ask "you're a Christian, why are you hanging out with them?". But the question is legitimate, ask yourself that. There's really only one answer that is acceptable. And that's because you love them and want them to "share in the blessings of the gospel".

So the question, 'do you want to be a Christian or appear to be a Christian?' Being a Christian doesn't usually look the way you think it looks, in fact I'm not sure that Christians have a certain look or uniform. There isn't one. The Bible says to save the weak, become the weak, to save the Gentile, become the Gentile, be all things to all people for the sake of the Gospel and to share in it's blessings (paraphrased). And if you just want to appear to be a Christian, my other question would be "how's that working out for you and the people around you?".

your friend,

-Isaac

 

*There are obvious exceptions to this rule, I can think of a few of my friends off hand that are exceptions. But generally I don't judge a filmmaker by his website or lack thereof because it might mean that he's too busy making awesome films.

 

Secular vs. Sacred

   

I think this whole secular vs sacred is the poison to spiritual growth, to really knowing God. If we believe the veil was torn, then we should act like it. There is no separation between the two.

Imagine that every Sunday morning there's a comedy club that people go to, everyone goes, they laugh together and leave. Most people that attended say to themselves "that made me laugh so much, I cannot wait until next week" but very few say "that made me laugh so much, I want to find humor in everything I see throughout the week". Some would say to them "well there are just some places that you can't find humor, like a funeral for example". But when my Uncle Kevin died, who was one of the funniest people I've ever met, his funeral was filled with laughter as we remembered the stories of him. But if I went in there deciding that I can't find humor there, I wouldn't have found it, in fact I would have been offended that other people were laughing during his funeral.

I hope you see the analogy. If you go to church and feel like you've experienced God, I assure you that you'll find Him throughout the week if you'll just look. In fact, I know that I've laughed more outside of comedy clubs and felt God more outside of churches. I'm not saying don't go to either, but I'm saying, don't limit it to the building.

And like I said, the people that have decided they can't find humor at a funeral will be offended at you for doing just that. The people that have separated secular with sacred, will get very upset at you from finding God in unexpected places. The Bible calls them pharisees, but I say that gently because I'm prone to being one myself, in fact I think that our whole lives we sway back and forth to pharisees and Christ followers. Basically, we've learned a joke that's gotten a good laugh, but haven't learned how to tell it differently when there are different audiences.

your friend,

-Isaac

 

 

 

Turning the Other Cheek

I think I'm gonna start blogging again. I think I've bottled up so much 'inspiration' I suppose that I need to start jotting it all down. One of the subjects that I want to talk about most, and maybe I'll make it into an entirely different blog on a different site, but one of my most personal and favorite topics that can get me fired up the most is Christians in the film industry. I think it's an incredibly beautiful thing that gets me immensely excited but at the same time sad and frustrated.

I think that God has made me a filmmaker because the lessons I'm going to learn about Him I will learn the best through film. Just like he has made you a doctor, a father, a janitor or a chef. If you really start falling in love with it and trying to see God in it. You'll start learning about how God works through how you do your job.

In my case, I've learned so much about God through film and especially filmmaking and the film business. God is most certainly the sculptor, but He is using filmmaking as the tool in which He uses to shape me.

I've always said that Christian films or music isn't about the end result but how they go about making that product. Maybe I should give you back story on my career and life. Maybe that'll start to come out in these blogs, but I should just tell you that I've toured with Christian bands and been in the Christian industry for about 10 years now. Whatever band you've ever liked that a Christian, odds are, I've toured with them or hung out with them. (read more here: http://blog.isaacdeitz.com/2011/09/christian-entertainment/ )

So all of that to say that I've been thinking a lot about 'turning the other cheek' that Jesus calls us to do. I have a theory, not a replacement of any of the ideas you may already have of what he meant by that, but an addition.

So Paul talks about the church being the "Body of Christ", we are all part of a big puzzle, one of us is the eye, one the nose, etc. So everyone and their mom has been hurt by the church, in fact if you haven't been hurt by the Church, you're probably just attending an online one and not interacting with anyone else. Just like if you've never ben hurt by being in a romantic relationship, you haven't been in one. So if you see the church as a body. When the church hurts you, turn the other cheek, keep being vulnerable. Because when someone literally slaps you and you turn the other cheek, they'll have to slap you with their back hand or their other hand, but either way, another part of their body. If the left hand of the church slaps you, the right hand might comfort you.

Practically speaking. I've been doing filmmaking and freelancing since I was around 11 years old. I've been doing it for money and gigs since I was almost 16. I've been cheated by so many people. If I added up all the money owed to me since I've started, I can think of over $5,000 easily. One time, when I was 17, I filmed a band's concert for $150. Three cameras and editing. I asked for money up front to pay my camera guys and the rest when I finished the edit. I only got the amount to pay the camera guys and I received nothing. This was a Christian band, bluntly speaking taking advantage of a young aspiring filmmaker. Not to mention the lead singer was a Sheriff.

So what I mean by this, is I could have gotten slapped at 17 years old and stopped turning my cheeks, stop trying, stop being vulnerable. But I didn't and there's a really good chance that you're reading this or even know who I am, because I didn't and I'm still in film. I can write countless blogs of Christians that treated me right, above and beyond and in a lot of cases when I was the one that fell short. But that's because they were a different part of the body and I turned my other cheek and was surprised on how much that part took care of me and grew me into the man that I am today.

So that's through the lenses of being a filmmaker, but what I've learned about all of this is that to really live out the gospel is to be vulnerable. If you help out an orphan, he might mistreat you, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't keep helping him or stop helping all the orphans out altogether. My ministry is filmmakers, I want to bring integrity, support, encouragement, love and community to the film industry. The deeper that I've gotten into that, the more I've been slapped. I'm currently being slapped by three different groups in industry. But for me to forget about the other cheek would be unfair. On the other cheek I've got a group of great friends, clients and peers that are genuinely treating each other with integrity from the green light of a production all the way into the release of the product. Practicing generosity, kindness, love, hospitality, encouragement, etc. While one 'Christian' is undercutting me money that I've worked for another one is letting me rent gear for no charge. So there's always the other side of the cheek.

 

And specifically when it comes to churches you can leave your church because you were hurt, not go to church all together because someone in the body hurt you. And I will not take that from you, I'll betcha you've been burned. But what I'd say is turn the other cheek, try a different part of the body, don't give up on it. That part will grow and pray for it. But you're allowed to turn the other cheek.

I hope this all made sense.

your friend,

-Isaac

 

 

 

We're Afraid of Ourselves

I believe there is a tiny little light inside of us, but we're not seeing it because we're afraid of the dark, we're afraid of being alone long enough for our eyes to adjust onto it. There's a tiny voice, that's so quiet we never hear it because we're too afraid to be away from music and noises. We're afraid of the sound of our own heart beat.

It's not until you turn off your radio that you can hear the muffler is dragging.

We're still afraid of the dark and afraid of silence. Because we know if we're alone for too long we'll have to start facing ourselves or even more frightening is that we'll have to face God.

"He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us" -James 4:5

We have a gold coin in our pocket and we're afraid to walk down a dark alley, because we know that someone wants it. The spirit that God put inside of us, He yearns for. He wants it. And that scares the hell out of us.

My friend, who was the punter for the Denver Broncos, told me that one time he had to run with the ball and because he is a punter he isn't really trained or built for getting tackled. He said it was the scariest thing ever to have professional NFL players running towards him because he had what they wanted.

When we're alone for too long, there is something in us that knows God wants the spirit that He put inside of us. Sure we'll sing in church and maybe even get some alone time in. But a lot of times, not long enough to really let our eyes adjust. We turn the lights back on before we can really notice the little light inside.

But, it's something we've gotta face. I know people that have and those are people that their lives are literally changed. It seems like they just get it, they know God and God knows them. They love well and live well. They aren't afraid of themselves.

But they turned the lights off long enough for their eyes to adjust and focus on the light inside of them.

We've put our light under a bush and we have to get it out, but it's on the other side of a lot of thorns and pain to get to it and most of us give up before we get to it.

This might be really vague to a lot of you, but I think to some of you, you know exactly what I'm talking about. I'd figure out what it means to be alone and not afraid of yourself.

When a little girl's doll breaks, she'll cry and hold onto that doll tighter, hoping that it'll heal, but when her father tries to take it to fix it, her fear tells her that he's going to break it even more. But if she'd just trust him, he'll take it and fix it and give it back restored.

I think our spirit is broken and we hold it so tight away from the light hoping it'll heal or to forget about it altogether. When God yearns to hold it, we become scared, but we have to trust Him and He can restore it. It just means we'll be vulnerable.

your friend,

-Isaac

*I've decided to write more and proof-read less, it's been killing my flow and writing. So forgive grammar mistakes and structural ones too.

 

 

 

A Blank Page

A blank 'textedit' document is one of the scariest, intimidating things to me right now. Maybe because it's the most important thing I can do as someone who learns from writing out my thoughts.

Maybe it's because I know by the end I end up seeing who I am or who I'm not. Where I'm failing and where I need to be.

It's not only easier to just click refresh for something inspiring, but what's the point of being inspired if it doesn't inspire me to actually do something?

Maybe it's because to write is to be vulnerable and to post on the internet is to be crucified.

But what's the point of writing something if nobody is gonna make see it, if they can't see it, I can't collect likes and comments.

See, there it is, I start seeing what's really motivating me.

Isn't that's what's motivating us all? We're either climbing mountains to show our Instagram followers that we climb mountains or we desire to climb a mountain so we check Instagram to see what a mountain peak looks like so we don't actually have to climb the mountain.

I don't think any social media is evil, in fact I think it's juvenile to think that way, though I once did.

It's a morally neutral tool that is so new that I don't know if I really know how to use it yet.

So it becomes a waste of time or a boost of ego or a distraction from real life.

I've heard of self-medicating with alcohol and drugs, but is it possible I use social media to self-medicate?

I'm starting to think that maybe I just need to start climbing mountains. Maybe just for the challenge and experience of climbing a mountain for myself.

Maybe a picture of a mountain top doesn't compare to the air, temperature, feeling of personal accomplishment and hours of alone time or with a friend.

But the view on a square picture seems to satisfy me. It's way easier. I get to look at it for a few seconds, take it in.

I've never regretted any mountain I've ever climbed, but I have regretted clicking refresh too many times in a day.

Spare Change

Jesus says a lot of things. Maybe too many to take him seriously? I'm not sure, maybe we're not sure. He says so many bold things we'd love to chalk up as hyperbole, in fact, a lot of times we do and I'm not so sure if we're supposed to. "Sell your stuff and give to the poor." Well, I suppose that was directed at the rich man, that was for him, I don't think it applies to us, right? Plus that whole 'camel in the eye of a needle' was talking about the entrance to a city, not an actual needle, right?

"Give to anyone who asks". What about homeless people, if you live in a city, you'd be broke in a few days. Plus we're enabling their habits, aren't we?

Maybe all those things Jesus said are fine and good but they don't apply to this day and age. With war and homelessness. Plus the prison system is a joke, we can't visit everyone and we aren't taking care of orphans because there are no orphanages in America, right? Maybe if there were, we'd know who the orphans were so we can visit them and help them. But maybe we'll raise some money every couple years to play soccer (football) with orphans in an orphanage overseas for a week.

These are all thought processes that have entered my head from my own thoughts or things that I've heard fellow Christians say directly.

And there are a hundred blogs lashing out on Obama diminishing the Bible saying "the Sermon on the Mount is a passage that is so radical that it's doubtful that our department of defense would survive it's application", but I suppose he's just been the first to say it out loud.

Because as we don't like when Obama does it, but we do it ourselves all the time. We make up reasons why "turning the other cheek" doesn't apply. Well, what if they're attacking my family, what if a guy came up and punched me? I think that's what Obama was saying, the same thing we are saying "it doesn't work". But we'd never say that out loud, we just decide that it worked then, but it doesn't apply to us anymore.

Once we start chipping away at Jesus' sanity. Deciding that he might not really know what He's talking about or that his words aren't timeless, then everything else he says gets foggy.

The question that I have to ask myself every few years, when I've realized I've lived the past few years drifting off the tracks, and maybe should ask myself on a daily basis, is "did Jesus really mean what he said?"

Let's start with homelessness and poverty.

"Give to anyone who asks of you"(Luke 6:30) "Give to the one who begs from you" (Matt 5:42) There are literally over 300 verses about giving to the poor in the Bible.

So what about poor people that have put themselves in that situation, what about the poor that just spend their money on HBO, booze and lottery tickets?

What about giving to the poor that are never grateful, never changed, still do the same things they've always been doing and expect more and more from you?

Let's change perspectives for a second. Why is Jesus asking us to give to the poor, give to anyone who asks, etc? Maybe it's not for them, the poor, but for us? Jesus says "Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ (Matt 25:40) So if that's true. When you give to Jesus, who gets changed? When you visit Jesus in prison, who is changed? When you play soccer with Jesus, who is changed?

I've yet to hear someone come back from a missions trip say "we changed so many people" they almost always say "I went in expecting to change them, but they really changed me". "I thought I'd teach them, but they taught me", "I thought I'd love them, but they loved me better".

Maybe when we give to an ungrateful, unchanging, enabled poor person, Jesus is allowing us to see how we treat him?

I started writing prisoner #1049790 almost 6 years ago. I started writing him because the Bible says to visit the prisoners and you'll be doing it unto Jesus. I did it for self-righteous reasons at first. Then #1049790 had a name, Dinario. We became friends. I've visited him in Texas three times now. I thought I'd eventually change his life, but actually in a lot of ways he's changed mine. Like I said, if you visit Jesus in prison, who's gonna do the teaching? Jesus is. Dinario is ALWAYS thrilled to get my letters, always excited to hear from me, doesn't ever care what I've done good or bad, always excited to hear how I'm doing, always wants me to write him and tell him about my adventures. I started seeing that I really am doing this unto Jesus. Because it's starting to show me how Jesus sees me. No matter what I've done, he wants to hear from me, always thrilled to hear about my adventures and thoughts.

If I do something wrong, I can feel guilty about it forever and never write Dinario, but if I just stop living in guilt and write him, he'll always be excited to reply. That's a lot how Jesus is. I can live in guilt or I can come to him and bring it to him. So I might never see Dinario's life changed because of me. He's in there for life, so I may never hug him, the most I may ever get to do is a fist bump through an inch of glass. But I know that visiting him really is like visiting Jesus.

Maybe we should turn the other cheek so we know what Jesus went through when he went on the cross, or maybe so we know what we constantly do to Jesus by sinning and him turning the other cheek and still taking us back only to get betrayed by us again?

I don't remember hearing Jesus ever say "change the world". That's not our job, that's his. And as his servants and followers, we need to just obey his commands, because they're hard enough without having the change the world. So if we just follow him, maybe that's how he changes us, maybe some people will come along, but maybe they won't. We aren't told to get results, we are just told to love. Turn the other cheek (to know how we treat Jesus), visit the prisoner (to know how he enjoys our company), to give to the poor (giving grace to a lot of times undeserved and ungrateful shows us how Jesus gives to us, even when we just use his money to feed the habits that got us there in the first place), to help the prostitute we see how trapped we really our and how much Jesus wants us out for our good and not just to boss us around (http://blog.isaacdeitz.com/2012/11/music-of-the-gospel/).

When we learn to forgive someone 70 times 7, we are understanding what it's like to be in Jesus' shoes (sandals?). When we forgive, we are truly following Jesus.

How many times does Jesus still show us grace after we've just abused it ten minutes ago? He's still there. He's allowing us to find the joy in places we really don't believe are there.

I haven't figured any of this out or perfected it. Though I'd like to.

your friend,

-Isaac

 

Seed to a Treehouse

As a filmmaker, I've learned that people are painfully unaware of process. Everyone who is so used to getting multi-million dollar productions at the click of a remote. Even when watching their favorite show, they are unaware of the writing, pitching to companies, getting rejected, eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches until finally a company picks it up only to have other writers destroy a bit of their vision, have actors audition, resumés of crew being sent in, deciding that, until the day of the shoot where everyone had to wake up at 4-5am to get make-up, camera, rigging, food and everything ready before the sun rose for the shot that they needed. But it just took seven bucks for a Netflix subscription at most, or you just use your parents account info. So when they call me asking for a video and only have $50 for the budget, they get insulted by my humble rejection. But it's less insulting on my end when I just remember that all of us, even myself, are numb to the idea of process. I think it's affecting our social lives but most importantly our relationship with God.

I grew up in Syracuse, NY. A place that I love. I've had the closest knit communities and friendships in Syracuse. Pretty much all of my friends not only knew each other, but they liked each other. Everyone had a friend that they've been friends with for their whole lives. People didn't just move onto a new best friend when it got hard. Having a new best friend every 4-5 years. I should also mention, it's not an incredibly small town, it's 500,000+ people. So when I moved to Atlanta, the south. I was furious at the idea of southern hospitality, because everyone's idea of it (that I saw) paled in comparison to what I grew up knowing so very well. I've soon later swallowed my pride and am now able to admit that it may be because of living in a major city that's a melting pot, it could be because of technology, social media and all things similar have recently come into culture when I moved here. But most importantly, I think it's because all good things are a process. I'll even go as far as saying all good things remain a process. Including friendship. I came to Atlanta, forgetting to process of close friendships and I blamed it on the region. But most friendships start with an awkward handshake, weird introduction, forgotten name, boring conversation about jobs and schooling. We forget this. We move to a new town and expect to walk into a room and be greeted like we were in our old home town. And unfortunately, every time we forget the process, we almost always give up.

Sometimes it comes when we don't know the process. We see a cute girl at a gathering and hope that she's going to approach us with her number. Sometimes we don't know how to walk up to her cold turkey, we don't know how to make eye contact when we're nervous, we don't know how to talk without sounding like an idiot. So we forget about it, because she didn't give us her number without our asking. Sometimes we get the number, dial the phone and pace around the room with our thumb over the 'send' button talking ourselves in and out and back into hitting it. It rings, we lose all saliva, she answers, we ask her on a date and for the rest of the week figure out where we'll eat, what we'll wear and what we'll talk about. She becomes our girlfriend (by some miracle of God) and the next month we are comparing her to past girlfriends or past girls that we've known. We're comparing deep relationships from the past that took years to stew to a relationship we just started a few weeks ago at a Waffle House. We forget that our past girlfriends took a process. We can't compare a seed to a treehouse.

And lastly, we do this with God. We hear people's testimonies of how they used to be a drug dealer for a gang and one night found Jesus and stopped doing drugs that very night. But what we also forget here is their process. They might lost all desire to sell and abuse drugs. But they still had a mob boss to talk to, they may have had mobsters looking for them, threatening them, they still had old druggies knocking at their door for another hit, their friends questioning "you're not really done are you?" and offering over and over until they finally are convinced, they've got girlfriends they break up with that may hate them, possibly a wife to stay with and ask forgiveness from, a kid to learn how to raise, and relapsing while doing all of that. They still have the drugs in their house, their car, their jacket and they have to get rid of. But they can't destroy it or their boss is gonna think they stole it, which everyone knows you don't steal drugs from a king pin. But we hear the 3-4 minute testimony video mentioning "I never had drugs since" at church after pot-luck announcements, during the passing of the collection plates and before the pastor turns on his microphone. So we are in our addictions, our issues and hoping Jesus would just flip a switch and the process will be done.

We want community without the awkward parties, the loving people that are different than us, the getting off the social media, the paying for someone's coffee.

We want spouses without the pursuit, the forgiveness, the confessions, the hurt, the baggage and the reminder that we aren't that good at loving people.

We want out of our addictions without the deleting, the accountability, the work, the embarrassment, the throwing things away and the self-confession of our addiction.

See, I believe that Jesus did heal us from blindness. I think he put mud on our eyes and healed us. But what we haven't done is gone to the water to wash off the mud. So we walk around thinking we're still blind, when really Jesus did everything on his end, he just wanted to make us part of the process.*

Christianity isn't a door you walk through, it's a hallway you walk down. It's not a microwave it's a crock-pot. When we accept Christ we are putting all of ourselves in the crock-pot and become justified, the rest of our life is turning on the crock-pot, getting sanctified, slowly but efficiently. Let's be honest, if it were a microwave process, we'd still have a lot of cold spots in the middle and dried out on the outside.

your friend,

-Isaac

 

*John 9

You Don't Need Another Blog

I suppose I can only speak for myself, but I'm gonna write this on the assumption that it happens to a lot of us. I think we all live our spiritual lives vicariously through other Christians. I know I certainly do, but I haven't realized it until recently. I suppose it might be our Facebook generation mentality, where we want to see what everyone else is doing all the time. I know that for me, when it comes to prayer, I'd rather feel God's love through a sermon, book or a youtube video. So instead of taking a walk and praying, I spend the rest of the night looking for a piece of media that will scratch the itch that I have.

We do this with Facebook and I even wrote a blog about it in the past. When we have a craving for social interaction we get on Facebook and after a few hours of checking up on your friends, you feel like you've interacted with people, you can then go to bed. Even sometimes I just get on Facebook to see what everyone is up to so I can hang out with them, but I get distracted and a certain amount of time passes and I've gotta go to bed and I have a false sense of interaction with my friends.

I think that a lot of times we want to feel God's love so we look up pastors that talk about how God loved them. And I think that's fine, but there is a certain point we need to experience God for ourselves. I think that's what it means to have a personal relationship with God.

If I had a friend that was really funny and we had a lot of mutual friends. I could easily just ask my mutual friends what he has been up to, what jokes has he said recently. After a certain amount of time, I can have had a good laugh over the jokes he's said. But I still haven't hung out with him. I think I might know him a bit more as well. But how much more would I have laughed if I were there with him, in the moment, how much more would I have learned about him if I was there seeing his reactions and facial expressions?

I think we do this with God. We go to church, read books, watch youtube videos, listen to songs, even read blogs in hopes that we can get an update on what God has been saying. But that's all we want right? Don't we check Facebook to see what our friends have been up to? Don't we just get an impersonal update? I'm telling you, it's far better to hang out with someone and do life with them, then do life separately and get occasional updates.

I want to end making sure that you are aware that this blog isn't anti-facebook, please don't get lost in the analogy. I'm just saying that I believe that we might be just getting updates from God. Getting the feeling that we've spent time with him because we listened to someone that just has. Maybe we don't need another blog, another sermon, another song. Maybe we've been hoping that the next blog, next song, next sermon is going to change our lives and hearts. That one last one is gonna make something in our hearts click. They feel close, they feel like it almost did, so we keep searching for the next bit of media that's gonna change our lives.

From a similar blog that I was reminded of while writing this:

"Sometimes I feel the need to spend time with God so I fill that void with the Bible which only lasts for a moment. I know that sounds contradictory, but reading the Bible isn’t God, in fact Jesus even says it, “You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.” Scriptures, books, worship songs, conversations with other Christians, these are all great but they should be pointing us to God, not giving us a sense of fulfillment so we stop at these."*

your friend,

-Isaac

Taken from my blog: Porn:Facebook:Bible

 

 

 

Thoughts on Love

I think we can all agree we've heard the word 'love' thrown around a little too much, in fact we've all heard that sermon or read that blog about "we use the same word love for describing our wives and cheesecake". We get it, it's overused, even that sermon might be overdone. But what I've even been feeling is that a lot of things have been done in the act of love, when really it's just tenderness at best. Something like free hugs, holding doors open, having a casual conversation with your grocery store clerk and trying to make her smile. Those are all great. They may be branches of love, but not the tree. But I certainly hope that's not our standard of love but sadly I believe that it is. I get a lot of crap for saying this (by Christians ironically), but my theology (possibly bad theology) is not only that God is love (Biblical) but love is God. I've been criticized for this idea before and it made me cower away from it (unfortunately). It's gotten me nowhere rejecting this idea, when the idea before has really gotten me to see God in a bigger way and force me to raise my standard of love to a way higher idea than just paying for the person behind you at Starbucks. I should say that I totally agree that if we think that's the height of love that God certainly is not that. I should also mention that i don't believe that love is limited to anyone, but is there for anyone to accept. I most certainly believe that sex is not love and I think it's a whole different category. I might buy flowers for my wife because I love her, but it doesn't mean every time I buy flowers for someone, I love them. Love is bigger than our thoughts, it's not limited to what we've decided that it is. I know that people from all backgrounds will say "yea, that'll show the religious folk" and people saying "yea, that'll show the homosexuals". This blog is far from a discussion on topics I don't claim to know much about. Unfortunately people might assume that I'm trying to subtly make my stance on those topics, but I'm not. You can read it that way, but I'm not. I'm discussing love, not sexuality. They are two different things. Both of which I know very little about (not false humility either, I truly don't claim to know either very well).

So back to my idea that God is love. Love is God. I feel we take God's name in vein all the time. We claim something is love when it's not. Some things are a hint of it and we settle on it. We are content with a small bit of love. It's way more than a feeling. I've heard a quote from mewithoutYou "when we swear, my love is real, we mean, i like the way you make me feel".

It's weird when you see someone living their life to truly love other people, it stands out, it draws me to it. It feels like a diamond in the rough and totally makes me truly feel like I've been settling on something far less, maybe the idea of love.

I think when you make a true statement about what Love is, you are describing God: "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails."

God and love are synonymous. When i say that people like the idea of God/love, but they don't like giving themselves to God/love, they don't like what love/God demands of them. Because to truly live your life for love/God, you will have to make a lot of life changes. We'd rather say that we all need God/love, than actually live it out as if we really believe that. I know that's true for me.

But I like the idea of God being love. Not in a vague space cadet sort of way, but because when I feel called to follow love/God, I know that I've fallen short of that. To have an actual standard, instead of a vague idea, to work towards. When I was praying tonight I was confessing a list of crap that I've done recently that I felt are bad, but I just truly knew I wasn't loving God and people as I should. That confession was less guilt-ridden and more goal driven. It made me realize that I'm excited about the idea of truly loving people and God again.

I've said before that if God is love, and we love God. It's like saying "I love love". If you truly love God/love, you'll love people.

“To love another person is to see the face of God” -Les Misérables

I hope that made sense.

your friend,

-Isaac

 

Helicopter Science

  I was dating a girl once, I liked her. She was one of the first girls that I've ever dated where I didn't have some fairy-tale story behind meeting her, pursuing her and falling in love with her. I'm a storyteller by profession and I've always loved telling people elaborate detailed romantic stories on girls I like, liked or am currently pursuing. So one time, while I was dating this one particular girl, a good friend of me asked me with excitement "so tell me about this girl, what do you like about her?" I couldn't answer. I hated that I couldn't answer. I liked her and this was one of the first times I couldn't convince anyone else of the reasons that I did. Before I was always able to tell a story and by the end everyone that would listen would be on board with me, agreeing of the reasons why I should like a particular girl. I wish I could say that I stood my ground and continued to like her, but I let that affect it. I started to think that if I couldn't explain it to someone else, then it wasn't legit.

I think God took me through that to prepare me for the season of life that I'm in now. For anyone that has been reading my blogs, I've been pretty honest with my doubts and desert experience. I've been walking out of this desert, but in doing so, I'm starting from scratch, which has been great. Because I've always been someone that has been so dependent on theology and doctrines and whatever else you can study and 'get good at'. So what I'm convinced of is that God has been detoxing me of all of that, showing me what's important.

So where I'm at now is back to not really being able to explain my faith, but I have it. And I feel that I went through that with that girl to teach me the lesson on a less important aspect of my life (a relationship with a girl) so I knew it when it came to the important aspect (my relationship with God) I'd know how to react. Not being able to explain something doesn't make it any less true. It's discouraging, but knowing that truth really helps you not to let it affect your faith.

Faith is an assurance. It's also a loyalty. It's a confidence in something, so it makes a lot of sense that when you start to realize you can't explain your faith in something, you lose a little bit of confidence/faith in that thing.

When you get in a helicopter you might get in with full confidence in that machine, but if someone asked you to explain how it works, you might start freaking out if it doesn't make sense to you.

But knowing how faith works in that sense shows us how important it is to try to work towards a point where we can explain it a bit more. It'll grow our faith, our confidence in God. But if you can't explain it just now, don't let it discourage you, it's separate, it doesn't make you less of a Christian.

I have faith in God. I might not be able to explain it like I used to. But I'll get there, how do I know that? I'm not sure, I just know, I can't explain it.

your friend,

-Isaac

 

 

 

 

A Place I Used To Know

  Theology is a good thing. But like every good thing, sex, tobacco, alcohol, humor, relationships, water, etc it can be dangerous. The hard part about writing this blog is that people that love theology and seminary are the ones that would least likely take any heed to this and the people that like an occasional theological blog, they would agree with the points but it wouldn't necessarily apply to them.

In the nerdy world of film, there are two types of 'filmmakers' people that know everything about filmmaking and people that make films. I'm the second. I can actually have someone explain to me a million things they'd do differently, in fact I have. Usually when I hire film students/graduates, they always tell me what they would have done instead. (My apologies to film students, but in a way, if you're a film student this is good for you to read). I think in film, the same applies to Christianity. The people that can quote the Bible and people that live out the Bible. I dance between the two, in fact I usually quote more scripture when I fail to live it out and when I'm living it out, I take way less time trying to prove to everyone how great of a Christian I am. Some of my best blogs were written when I was deepest in sin. Because I suppose I'm trying so hard to feel justified or like a good Christian again right after I screwed up. When really the only thing that would make me a good Christian is if I relied on Jesus for my justification. But that's too easy and that's why we so easily turn into pharisees. Anyway, I digress, not sure if I ever said that before, but I don't think I've ever meant it. I'm Isaac, I never digress, haha.

What I've learned is that with film, people learn so much about filmmaking that is scares them away from making films, because they know all the millions of rules they can break and the million ways they can fail. In fact, there are so many rules, standard rules that I broke without knowing it and I've never been embarrassed by that until I learned those rules later in life and realized how elementary they were to break, but people never knew otherwise. Basically, with theology, I've gotten so deep into it that even when I pray I feel like I'm praying wrong, I think "maybe I praying about this too much or maybe I need to mention this or pray for someone, etc". The times where I felt like reading Ecclesiastes or the sermon on the mount for the millionth time I thought "maybe I should be reading something else, etc.", which actually at times made me not read at all. It's like Netflix, you end up never watching a movie because you spend too long deciding what to watch.

A lot of film students I know are waiting tables in LA or talking about the big movie they're gonna make, but never make it because they don't feel like they can do it for less than 4 million dollars. And they don't want to waste their time on short films, skits or fun projects because they've got two years of schooling to prove to their parents. If they make a quick video on their cell phone with bad lighting but good story, it will be embarrassing for them because they think that people will think "oh, this is what he learned in film school". It happen(ed/s) to me too. It's why I don't make stupid skits as much anymore. But it's also why I make stupid skits when I do, to break away from expectations I feel people have on me, etc.

Basically, we spend so much time talking about God and so little time talking to God. We perfect our theologies without working on our relationship. The Bible becomes a Lord of the Rings book. That we've learned about, studied, know about the author, his birthday, why he wrote what he did, each character, we even get into elaborate discussions of why this character would have done something else if someone else told him to do it, and have great arguments of what the author meant by this or that. We've made friends from going to the Lord of the Rings movies every sunday, have coffee with friends to discuss what the movies meant to us, bonded over deep discussions about the movie. So what's the difference? What does it matter if we're talking about Lord of the Rings, sports or cars. It's just something to talk about to a lot of us. It's not real. It's a language we speak. You can speak German and be thousands of miles away from Germany. You can even forget the place exists while speaking German. I know plenty of people that speak German very well but can't tell me what Germany is like, they've never walked the streets, experienced the culture, smelled the air or anything else. They just know how to speak the language.  I'm afraid that has happened to me. I knew God so well at one point of my life that I knew how to speak the language. I knew how to argue this or that, but then it just became a language I spoke, not a place I visit often.

When traveling to another country where you don't know the language you feel like an inferior, stupid little child. I've walked in some African fields, city streets and smelled the air, tasted the food and experienced the weather but I knew nothing about the language. So what's the point of speaking the language of a place you never visit? I'd rather visit a country and not speak the language than stay in America and know the language.

I want to know God. I don't want to know about God. I don't want to be able to talk about God, I want to talk to God. I want to 'come to Him like a little child'. Not some guy that thinks that he figured God out.

Because the more you visit a certain country, the more you start to learn the language. But you can learn as much as you want about the language but it'll still never help you know what that place smells like. If you visit first, the second will come, but if you focus on the second the first won't happen as a result.

your friend,

-Isaac

 

They're With Me

Without realizing it, I've been building up bitterness towards the church and the funny thing is we can always find someone to join you in this bitterness. Get together and talk about all the things that the church is doing wrong, what they need to do and how judgmental they are. Sadly ironic. But whatever, right, they are screwing up right? They've been hurting people for centuries, so if we're gonna associate with them at all, we should put a disclaimer in, "I'm a Christian, but not that kind of Christian." That'll help people to know that we are so much different than the rest of these. We might love Jesus (or convince ourselves we are loving Jesus) but want nothing to do with the "Christian" name, so we say "I'm a Christ Follower". That will make a lot of non-Christians (or non-Christ followers I should say) that we see it differently than everyone else, because those Christians aren't following Christ, but we've got some kind of upper-hand in all of this. Christians are idiots, but we're geniuses, we've gotta let people know this.

"Sure, I'm in the Chess Club, but I'm not a nerd."

Well, it took me almost a year to see how this mindset will deteriorate your faith. It's the cancer of your faith. It's subtle, gradual erosion of your faith. Because, if you think of everyone in your faith as idiots, you'll eventually start to think that what they believe is idiotic. (This will apply to all beliefs).

You can't love Jesus and hate his body.

Eventually, this mindset that you have some sort of upper-hand, will erode your idea of Grace as well. When you start thinking "this person doesn't deserve to call themselves a Christian", then when you fail (because you will), you'll start wondering if you deserve to call yourself a Christian. Which funny thing is, nobody deserves to call themselves "Christ-like". But that's Grace. The fact that God adopted us, giving us association with Him, allowing us to grow to be more like His son, is Grace.

When Hitler made the Hindenburg blimp, he was going to call it "The Hitler" but didn't want to attach his name to anything that can fail. Think about that and then think about how Jesus attaches his name to failures every day. We are that awkward guy at the party that ruins everything all the time and Jesus keeps saying "he's with me". Don't forget that.

Forgive and you'll be forgiven. - Jesus. When you don't forgive, it means you think that person needs to jump through a certain amount of hoops first, so when you ask Jesus for  forgiveness, it'll be hard for you to believe you are forgiven, because you didn't have to jump through hoops, then you'll start thinking that His grace wasn't sufficient enough, so you'll start trying to jump through hoops that you made up, then expecting everyone else to as well.

"When Grace was easy to forget, I'd denounce the hypocrites." -Five Iron Frenzy (On Distant Shores)

The funny thing is that you can never earn forgiveness. Even in a secular sense of the word. If I owed you ten bucks, but I couldn't afford it, you'd have to forgive it. If I paid it, you wouldn't be able to forgive me, because I wouldn't need it anymore. Forgiveness is filling in the blank of where someone falls short.

When Jesus was ascending back to Heaven, he asked Peter, "do you love me?", Peter answered "yes", Jesus replied, "feed my sheep". Three times Jesus basically said "If you love me, feed my sheep". Did you get that? Those were some of Jesus' parting words. So they must be pretty important to Him.

"If you love me, feed my sheep." -Jesus (paraphrased)

"By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love...” John 13:35

What a great verse. We've all heard this one, right? I've actually used it as ammo in the past to shoot down Christians a bit. "How can he be a Christian, he doesn't feed orphans, he doesn't visit prisoners, he doesn't love, etc etc". So stupid. You know why? We LOVE using that part of the verse when the whole verse says "By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” We've got to have love for one another! If we can't love the people trying to follow Jesus, then it'll be harder to love the people not trying to.

Another mindset we've gotta get out of is "Christians vs. Sinners". This is so foolish, because we are sinners. When we hear Jesus talking about "bless those who curse you", we look for opportunities to do this to the world, but when a Christian curses us, we do the opposite. I truly believe Jesus meant bless anyone who curses you. Expect to get cursed from inside the faith. Jesus was cursed, slandered, put on trial to be crucified all from people from supposedly his same faith. So don't be surprised when you get hurt in a church. We're all stupid sheep that are trying to learn how to love and sometimes there is wolves in sheep's clothing, so either way you're gonna get hurt. Cause we're all bumper cars learning how to drive. Nobody knows how to drive yet so they'll hit you by accident and some people are trying to bump you on purpose. So when Jesus says to pray for our enemies, pray for our opposers, even if they're Christians. If you're in the wrong, hopefully God will show you that in your prayers.

We don't always know where someone else started out. When you go to church, someone there could have became a Christian last night, so how they dress, talk, smell, etc can't be compared to how you dress, talk, smell or think because you might have grown up in the church, raised by two loving parents, etc.

Christianity usually gets a bad rep because the ones that want attention are going against what the Bible says. It's about humility, not doing things to gain the approval of men, not trying to look like a good person and it's about a heart change. The really good Christians are the ones that usually don't make the news, because they aren't doing it for that. Jesus says not to let your right hand know what your left hand is doing. If you give, give in secret instead of trying to impress everyone and if you stumble, confess it. It's opposite of our human nature, it's opposite of this world. Some of the most inspiring Christians I've met are just schoolbus drivers that show kids love every day, stand up for what's right and give to those in need, but the only way I found out is from doing life with them and hearing from other people, but I'd never hear it from them. People that are giving up their safe life to live in ghettos to help rebuild communities. I can go on and on of amazing people that are so focused on loving their influence that they're too busy to tell anyone what they're doing. Christians should be like secret agents, if they keep telling you the great things they are doing, they are doing a terrible job.

Don't write off Christ because of the followers of Him. Write Him off if you don't believe He was the son of God. At least be honest with yourself. Because the good Christians are under the radar, they're there and while we're busy pointing people to ourselves, there are people pointing others to a God who loves them by giving their lives to prove it. I didn't notice how many Nissan Sentras there are on the road until I bought one myself. Now I see them everywhere. If you start giving your live to loving the least of these, you'll meet a lot of people that have been already doing it for years. But usually we just sit on the sidelines denouncing Christians for not doing it, because we haven't jumped in head first ourselves to see how many are actually doing it. When you eat healthy, you meet people that eat healthy. When you skateboard, you meet skateboarders. When you love selflessly, you meet people that love selflessly. If you aren't meeting people that love selflessly...well...you know.

I've known so many people say "I'm thinking about taking a break from going to church, because I've been hurt so much". One time a good friend said that and I asked "has the church that you are going to, hurt you personally?" he said 'no'. Sometimes we get hurt from Christians on the internet or see them on the news and lump them all together.

Christianity is a walk we do with people, broken people that admit they're are broken and continue to find out how bad the break really is. The closer you get to any relationship, the more it'll hurt, the more work it'll be, the dirtier you'll get. You're going to get hurt, because it's vulnerable. Don't stop being vulnerable.

"Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable." -C.S. Lewis

You're not safe. I'm not sure when we got this idea that we're supposed to be safe. People are going to hurt you, Christians are people (believe it or not) and you know what? For all the people that I know that left the church because they "were hurt by the church", have also been hurt by their alternative communities. I have a gay friend that was cheated on by his husband, filmmakers that were betrayed by their film partners, a ladies man that had his heart broken, etc. etc. But for some reason, they're still gay, still filmmakers, still ladies men, etc. Because they've separated being hurt by one or a few people from the entire lifestyle. People rarely do this with Christianity. One person hurts them and the whole belief system is out the window. And if it's not, bitterness grows then it's a slow, gradual deterioration of your faith and eventually you either leave or start hurting people and it becomes contagious.

If you love Jesus, feed his sheep. When you start forgiving people and fellow Christians, you'll start understand why we need forgiveness.

your brother,

-Isaac

 

Music of the Gospel

This year has been the best year of my life when it comes to outward accomplishments and lifelong goals achieved. My career has boomed and I've been doing more creative work than ever and it doesn't feel like I've worked a day this whole year. Spiritually, it's been the opposite, it's been rough, really rough. Some nights I'd stare at the ceiling wondering if I'd wake up a Christian. I'd talk to backsliden Christians and it sounded so freeing, it seemed like they were the ones free from slavery, when Christianity claims the opposite. Needless to say my faith was in a desert, I wasn't doubting God's existence because what I've experienced, saw and learned in the past was very real to me, I couldn't deny that. It was like my highschool friend stopped taking my phone calls, I knew we used to be best friends I couldn't deny that or that He's real but I doubted His current interaction with me. It was like I was playing phone tag with God, but just like every time you play phone tag, if the other person doesn't call back after a while, you tend to give up. Even if you love them dearly, there is a point where you just move on.

For years I used to go to nearby train-tracks to pray. It was amazing. I'd be able to find train tracks no matter where you dropped me off in the world, I would find them. It became something that I started associating with God (not thinking that trains were God, but in the sense that people associate Church with God, it's where I learned most from Him), to the point where when I was in my time of doubt I'd sometimes hear a distant train whistle as if God was telling to me come back to the tracks to pray again. But I didn't, not always. Sometimes I would. One time when I was touring I took a walk through the woods to pray and I came across an abandoned railroad. It was a perfect analogy of where I was spiritually; it showed that something real was once there, but it's no longer there, it moved on and left something useless. Because what is a railroad without a train?

So I've read the Bible for about ten years now, a chapter a day pretty much. This book that I've loved for so long, that undeniably has inspired, directed and changed my life has become stale to me. Some verses I could no longer stomach, a lot of them actually. I could pretty much read the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5 and a few chapters after), John 9 (one of my favorite chapters), a few random other stories/parables and Ecclesiastes (one of my favorite books ever). The rest was hard for me to read. I'm just being completely honest here.

The Bible talks about theology being like food and the new Christians eat 'baby food' and the more grown start eating the 'meat'. Anyway, I've absolutely loved theology my whole life, anyone that knows me well knows that I'd try to get deep with anything and everything. I loved it all. Arminianism vs. Calvinism, works vs. faith, hermeneutics, etymology, Bible translations, History of Christianity, other religions, sects, cults, whatever that was to do with God. I'd love it. I'd eat it up, all day. I'd chew on meat for hours a day. One time when I was a kid, there was a sale on Reese's Peanut Butter cups, they were easter ones a few weeks old, so they were like a dime for each big piece, so I spent a lot of my money to get them. Of course I ate all of them that night and threw them all up. For about 15 years I've finally been able to eat them again. What I think has been happening is that I've overate, I made my faith about the study of God instead of God. So I've thrown it all up and now I'm hungry but I can't seem to stomach anything but the basic stuff of Christianity (the verses/chapters that I mentioned). So, I'm back to baby food.

It came to the point that I couldn't even understand why someone's death on a cross could do anything for me 2,000 years later. I'm telling you everything I've known was thrown up and I needed to taste it again for the first time. And the verse that scared me most was the one that says "the Gospel is stench to those who are perishing", I didn't know what that meant for me, I was perishing but I felt this was a desert experience that everyone goes through before their big ministry (ie: Jesus, John the Baptist, etc. all went through the desert before their ministry started) But in the Beatitudes, one of the things I could stomach, Jesus says "blesses are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled", that gave me hope, because I was hungry and I was thirsting.

In my love for theology, of course I became of fan of C.S. Lewis when I was about 16 years old. I've loved him since. I even loved that my middle name, 'Clive' is his first name, because I connect to this man so much. I literally read "Mere Christianity" in two days when I first picked it up and since then, bought out any used book store of every C.S. Lewis book any time I entered one. So I thought I'd give him a read. I started reading "A Grief Observed" and it was so refreshing. It was so good to see someone that I respect so much in the faith to be honest with his doubts and struggles. In fact that's the only reason I'll respect anyone in this faith is honesty about doubts and struggles, if someone doesn't have those, then they've figured it out and I cannot relate to that. So 'A Grief Observed' is a journal of C.S. Lewis talking out the aftermath of his wife's death. At one point he says it's like "God has slammed a door in his face and he hears the sound of double bolting on the inside…there are no lights in the windows. It might be an empty house. Was it ever inhabited? It seemed so once." Wow. It's like I wrote it myself. I never related to someone's writing before so much. I've been in the past so disgusted by the vague dishonesty from other people's struggles. It was like I was talking to a real person again. Instead of someone just quoting a Bible verse at me like it was gonna solve all my problems.

I'm getting somewhere, don't worry, I just want to continue on with the details.

In "A Grief Observed", Clive talks about how he ran into a friend from ten years ago, that he thought he remembered so well, but then five minutes into the conversation his image of his old friend was shattered. Not that his friend had changed but instead Clive kept thinking, "Yes, of course, I'd forgotten he thought that, disliked this or jerked his head back that way." He talked about how his memory of his friend was actually different than what his friend really is like. I wrote in my notes that I think we do this to God. We meet Him, experience Him for real, then run on fumes until He becomes what we remember Him to be or what we want Him to be? I think we need this shattered regularly. It'll hurt and it'll feel like we don't know Him, but we are just knowing the real Him. Sometimes, when I like a girl, I'll know the few characteristics of her and then my emotions will start assuming the rest that I don't know and she becomes even more perfect. Then when I finally take her on a date, she's a totally different girl than I made up in my mind. I know we totally do this to God.

So in the midst of all of this, I knew I was pretty desperate. I wanted to know the real God because I started learning that He isn't what I've made Him to be and I needed a spiritual detox. I couldn't write down God, I couldn't explain Him, I knew nothing about Him. But I saw someone genuinely wearing an usually tacky W.W.J.D. bracelet, but I knew this person lived it, I saw their love and it felt right. Just a very faint light in this darkness, felt right.

A night later, my neighbor T. came knocking at my door. She is a former prostitute that is a hard worker, mows lawns, does manicures and whatever she can to make an honest living. She has become a friend to everyone on the street with her honesty and great sense of humor. She was asking me for five bucks to borrow to fill her gas tank to get to a mowing job. She tells me that she is getting paid tomorrow and will pay me back. So a few days later I ask my neighbors, some dear friends of mine that are a huge part of the neighborhood ministry we've got going on, know T. very well. They tell me that T. worked a catering job and the caterer didn't pay her in cash but gave her all the leftover cheese. So she can't pay rent. The next night I see her on the corner, with make-up and highheels, she is working the corner. I've lived in ghettos my whole life, I've seen prostitutes since I was a child, but this one I knew, I knew her well. I knew her real name, her past, her sense of humor, I've seen what brings her joy. This is the first time I've seen her with make-up, highheels and dolled-up. I've seen prostitutes my whole life, but I've never seen one that I've known so well. I saw shame in her eyes and it kept me up that night. I sat there laying in my bed looking up at the ceiling thinking what would Jesus do in this situation? Like not a cheesy WWJD way, but I literally had no ideas for myself. I needed something way bigger than me. I had a love for her that wasn't based on laws, I didn't her to stop because my religion said it was bad, I saw the shame, the hopelessness and brokenness. I saw someone who felt trapped and that love I felt, I knew was God. That love that made my heart an inch bigger that night was God. I couldn't explain it, I couldn't break it down or blog about it, I just knew that I wanted to follow that. I wanted to follow this love.

I felt like I wanted to do whatever I could to help her. I can't say I did much yet, I hope I do. I saw her on the corner and realized that I have been on my own corner. God sees me not like "I need you to stop this because the Bible says not to" but more like a "I want to free you from this slavery you are in, the shame and hopelessness". This was the Gospel to me, this was God showing me the music of the Gospel because I've heard the lyrics so much I haven't heard the music in a while and when I heard the music, felt this love the lyrics made sense to me again.

More to come. God's teaching me a lot again.

your friend,

-Isaac

 

I Will Find You

I will find you lost sheep, even if you don't know you're lost, even if you didn't mean to get lost, I will find you. Even if you are currently lost and want to return but don't know how, I will find you. Just wait and try not to stray too far, but even if you did, I will find you.

I will Find you even if you left and got lost on purpose but regret it now, I will find you.

Just when you are starting to miss the other ninety-nine, I will find you.

Even if you've never realized you're lost.

Even if you bit me when I find you.

Even if you got filthy, I will find you and clean you off like new.

Even if you've done this before, I will find you.

Even if you've hurt the other sheep when you left, I will find you.

The point is, I will find you, I'm not saying "I will find you if...", I'm saying "I will find you even if...".

You're mine. So I will find you.

"What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish." - Jesus the Christ (Matthew 18:12-14)

It's Not About The Shark

Movies aren't about the trailer. They aren't about what the trailer wants you to see. That's the bait to get you to the theater. When you get there, it becomes about the hero's goal and his conflict. In storytelling there is inner conflict and outer conflict. A universally relatable story has both. Inception wasn't about dreams. You walk away thinking it was about dreams, but the dreams were the outer conflict, they had to infect someone's mind. But the inner conflict was Leo's character dealing with the loss of his wife and all the dream stuff was just obstacles in dealing with that loss. Sandlot wasn't about kids trying to get a baseball, it was about a boy that was trying to find his place in a new town with a new dad and finding acceptance with both, the ball, the fence, the dog, etc were all well-written obstacles that gave the journey some weight. J.J. Abrams mentions in his Ted talk that Jaws isn't about a shark, it's about dad dealing with insecurities etc.

The external conflict is what shapes the internal conflict. It builds the character and gets the character to his goal. When you stop seeing the internal conflict you make a movie about a shark and it ends up horrible.

I've met a lot of Christians that treat it like a horrible sequel to the original. Christians that worry about a video I make not mentioning God. The video isn't the end all goal. Righteousness is, that's a lifelong journey. Music video production, traffic, facebook, girlfriend's breaking up with you are all external conflict that build and shape the character. The hero's goal is what matters, then those things become just obstacles that he uses to his end all goal.

Each well written film has scenes that start positive and end negative and vice versa. So when a scene looks like he's winning, by the end he'll be losing, then the next scene is him losing then ends him winning. Eventually the highs get higher and the lows get lower and the audience doesn't know if he'll win or lose.

These are seasons. Right now if someone was watching my walk with God it's not incredibly encouraging, but I'm a character with a goal. These are just scenes, just obstacles. If I'm fighting sharks or trying to get a baseball, it doesn't matter either way. It's not about the out conflict, it's about the inner conflict. How is the outer stuff shaping you? How is it molding you?

A Christian janitor or a Christian music video director are the same. How is the process of cleaning some kid's vomit or trying to find a location in two days of the shoot going to shape us? As long as the character has a goal they all become obstacles or launchpads.

I think the hard thing about all of this is Christians have turned missions living into a short term missions trip. Were there is no real room for error. When really, we should be doing life with people, making mistakes and them seeing how we handle our mistakes. Them seeing the long term us, our story and our goal. Not just the trailer. Short term missions trips are great, but they are trailers. We should be making movies, not trailers. What are we doing when we get home from our two week trip to Africa? Do we stop serving until we raise enough money to go again? How are we serving our families, roommates, friends and literal neighbors. We've redefined the word neighbor so much that we don't feel the need to know the names of the people living on our street (that was a side note, but it's true).

There is grace for failure that's the gospel that we are supposed to be living.

I made a music video called "Cray Button" recently, probably the definition of morally neutral. I've gotten so much crap from Christians asking "how is this glorifying God?", my question is "How is it not?". The minute we stop seeing God in caterpillars  trees, dirt, oceans, laughter, French toast and other things like that. We stop seeing God for who He really is. We then only see God getting glory only from the songs that say His name. Even though, even the most secular song blaspheming God is using the vibrations in the air to make notes and the vocal chords, tongues and lips that God designed. Even someone saying the most profane blasphemous thing is in a weird way giving God glory because it's showing that the vocal chords and other parts made for speech were designed well.

That's like using a bull-horn to tell the inventor of the bull-horn he is stupid. The very minute the bull-horn works is showing how smart the bull-horn inventor is and how stupid the speaker is.

We need to get God out of the 1 dimensional box that we put Him in. The Cray Button music video doesn't mention God at all. But neither does the book of Esther and that's in the Bible. But does God get the glory? He does. He made fish in the bottom of the ocean nobody ever sees. He gets His glory.

Cray Button has shaped me, it's a scene in my story. I met people that i needed to meet, people made friends, fathers took daughters 3 hour drives to be in the shoot. You think that they didn't get to talk or bond the way God needed them to? All of this morally neutral stuff points to God to the person who's goal is God.

I went on tour with Jeffree Star. Look him up. I was on a bus with him in the UK for a month. I don't tell people that much because they don't need to know, they'll decide that it didn't give God glory. But I can tell you a million ways that it did and that tour wasn't gone into with no thought and prayer, but weeks of it. God confirmed it. I wish I could take you on coffee and tell you a million stories of how God doesn't work the way we want Him to.

See the thing is, it's not about the shark. When I say that don't think I'm saying it's not about God, I'm saying it's not about that one song, one video, one missions trip. It's about the character's goal and when that goal is God all the seasons of struggle, doubt and despair and the seasons of victory, defeat and faith are just scenes in this story.

Cray Button wasn't my only chance to impact the world. It was a chair that Jesus carpentered with his step-dad when he was a kid while he was waiting til he turned 30. Everything happens at it's own time. But those chairs he built were just outer conflict until 30 happened.

Man, I hope that all made sense, lot going on in my head right now.

your friend,

-Isaac

 

 

 

 

Cool Among the Nerds

For a long time I've been struggling with some doubts of my own. Not doubts of whether or not God exists, etc. But I've been feeling my passions for Jesus fading. To the point where I couldn't read certain parts of the Bible or listen to sermons from people that I used to love hearing from. It's hard because Jesus and I used to be best friends and now when I heard people talk about how great their relationship is with Him, I'd get jealous or discouraged or something. I'm not sure how to explain it, I know I'm weird. The majority of the time when I heard people talk about Jesus and how He is their best friend and He's all that matters, etc. It always felt dishonest, like that's what they were taught to say, that's what they are required to put on their profile to earn salvation or get a free pass into heaven or something. And when I heard all these people that 'have it all together all the time' just waking up every morning and high-fiving Jesus, it just seemed like either I was worshiping the wrong Jesus or they were.

So was it my theology? Was it the way I viewed Jesus? How do I know which one of us is right? Or are we just exploring different traits of Him? There's been a million questions. Most of them were the "Hows" of every answer I've been told ever. "put your hope in Jesus", how? "fill the void with Jesus", how? Even Jesus says "Come to me all you weary and heavy laden and I'll give you rest", well that sounds wonderful, but how do I come to Him? He's not some dude in Wisconsin I can go to. If He was, I'd walk, drive, fly, swim, whatever I could to come to Him. But to me, it hasn't been that easy. So is it me? Am I the only one having these thoughts or doubts?

I've experienced a full relationship with Him that made my heart an inch bigger and it was incredible. I loved well, learned much and was filled with Joy. I've since been always trying to get back to that moment in my life. Knowing, from experience that Jesus was the answer but the question that remained was the How. How do I apply this answer. I feel like someone's car broke down and people keep saying "oil is the answer" to someone that doesn't know anything about cars. I need to know how to apply this.

So I was trying to recall all of the things that I've heard about Jesus in art, from people, in stories, in the Bible that just drew me to Him, that seemed genuine, real, tangible. It's usually been the people that don't have blogs, pulpets or books published. Real people, dirty people that aren't slaves to other people's theologies. I think this happens to so many of us, we start saying the things that we know will get likes on Facebook, instead of the things that are honest to us. The stories in the Bible that pulled me in were the ones of Jesus with the Samaritan woman, Beatitudes, Jesus with the prostitute that was nearly stoned. Those stories pulled me towards Him.

Songs like

A Stick, A Carrot and a String (by mewithoutYou):

There's a sign on the barn in the cabbage town "when the rain picks up and the sun goes down sinners, come inside with no money, come and buy

no clever talk, nor a gift to bring requires our lowly, lovely king come now empty handed, you don't need anything"

and so many others, but what I've noticed is a pattern in them all. I've heard that "Jesus hangs out with sinners" so much that it's really lost a ton of meaning. I think maybe it's because a lot of the church's definition of 'sinners' is drastically different than the Bible's definition. The sinners that Jesus hung out with weren't people that were on their way to figuring their life out, on their way to redemption or even aware of their sin. I feel like a lot of times we love the idea of hanging out with sinners as long as they are on the path to recovery. Which instantly makes our love for sinners conditional. Which it was Jesus' unconditional love that led them to the path to recovery. That prostitute that Jesus defended from getting stoned wasn't begging Jesus "save me from this and I will stop sinning" He saved her because He loved her and then asked her to "sin no more". It's hard to obey someone's command when the first thing someone asks of you is that command but it's so easy if they've proved they love you and want your best, because then you know that love is behind that command.

I think what's great about who Jesus hung out with and who he called were the people that didn't have it all together. The people that didn't worry so much about what words to say or not say, they just were honest with Him. The people that just talk to Him, instead of trying to figure out everything first. I'm prone to try to figure out how much of a sinner I am before approaching Him or trying to figure out everything about Him before talking to Him, without realizing that when I just talk to him is when I'll start realizing those things.

There was a guy at my summer camp that was so funny to me. I used to try so hard to be funny to him I wanted to impress him so badly. But if I just stopped worrying about that and enjoy his company and not worry about trying to be funnier than I was, I would start learning his humor, becoming more funny and sharing a laugh with him.

I need to not worry about impressing Jesus, I need to spend time with Him, come to Him, that's it, just approach Him, that's what it means, it's not come to Him when I've got it all figured out or when I graduate Bible school or when I conquer this addiction or write this blog or anything else. It's just, "come to me". I think being with Him will make us realize who He is and allow us to be more like Him. But trying to be more like Him so He'll hang out with us is unbiblical. This isn't a highschool crush were he'll only hang out with you if you are more like Him. But he is the cool kid in school that allows us nerds to hang out with Him, which eventually makes us more cool.

your friend,

-Isaac