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“Proverbs 3 trust in The Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding and in all your ways acknowledge him.”

Practical Wisdom in Biblical literature pushes us away from Self reliance and towards a trust and dependence on God.

In my life right now i am researching, almost tirelessly, a purpose for living in this city bc of the amazing change i see around me with the developments in downtown. In doing so I have found what quite possibly is the continuation of God’s plans all along; that I would simply tell the same story as I have been over the past 8 years In this city but with a greater more focused purpose. This excites me greatly.

With that excitement combined with my creative capacity, I can easily rush the risk of searching for fulfillment in my calling, spending so much time, energy and resource as I have time and Time again.

My drive has led me around the world. I’ve personally seen impressive oppression and injustice as Ive wandered across the globe; human trafficking in Eastern Europe, hunger in central Africa, children with American government caused disease in south Asian countries and I can come to this informed theological view: as i look for satisfaction on earth, this planet doesn’t have what it takes to ultimately give me what I actually need to gain complete me. And if we’re honest, that completeness is the fundamental basis of a great majority of our daily decisions, conversations, tweets and motives.

There are a lot of good, freaking awesome fun things in this world and making films for me is one of them. Satisfaction and contentment in being happy (for me happy with my work) is not bad but if I fail to find my ultimate satisfaction in God I will be left seeking.

And so my prayer for my family and community reflects this below which in due process will leave a healthy satisfaction of separation from creating.

1 Colossians
9 For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the [k]knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, [l]to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and [m]increasing in the [n]knowledge of God; 11 strengthened with all power, according to [o]His glorious might, [p]for the attaining of all steadfastness and [q]patience; joyously 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us [r]to share in the inheritance of the [s]saints in Light.

This is not at all complete, merely thoughts from a study before bed. Please advise.

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It’s not a standard practice for a pot of clay to ask it’s potter, “Give me Vision”. I place a constant pressure on myself to create because it’s what I love, sometimes how I love and it’s how I think. Its ingrained in me to tell stories visually. I create films in a way that is growing with the vision he is giving me, which isn’t always clear and that makes me go crazy sometimes.  I’m learning that my perspective varies from my to eternal in an instant when I am reminded of the promises and makings held in certain faith.

I am in an incredible season of testing. The test centers around letting go of my life list of things I would change.  The list isn’t even worth going into but I wanted to explain how today was a blessing in reminding me where to place my hope and how the placement of my hope determines my attitude in my situation. I really want to be joyful no matter what.

No call is clearer that what he reminded me of today, “God crafts amazingness from my brokenness. He actually uses my brokenness to make amazing things. He makes all things work together for my good.”

I expect challenges in my life. I also expect the success from God and the variety of ways that success will come in. I am not only willing to step into this season knowing it will produce endurance and fruit but am encouraged and empowered as I keep stepping through this season as I see my flesh wage war.  I believe it is a good thing to see the battle between flesh and spirit.

It is impossible to be physically or emotionally ready or prepared for a season like this but, leaning one foot forward, equipped I become through the ever present inheritance found in Jesus’ promises. But that step isn’t so clear sometimes. I try so hard to interpret where God wants me to go next. Each time the lengths of my worry begot illogical thinking. And for some reason I am surprised.

“You will lack nothing” he reminded his disciples and me. “When I sent you out without food, clothing or money, did you lack anything?” The disciples and I answer, “No.”  I was sent to my wife. I lack nothing. I was sent to Detroit. I lack nothing. The list continues.

Yet, even with this knowledge, sometimes I desire to see around each infliction. It shakes me and I want a quick self made way out. I look for motto, “I feel like I should be happy all the time”. Fakeness sucks.

Today I had four moments where I felt like I lacked. Each moment was quickly rendered false; one by the truth of his word, one by the power of testimony from my amazing wife who told me about what she learned in church, one by wisdom from my awesome brother in London, one by prayer backed by remembering what he has already spoken.

David sang entire songs about his despair and had verses reminding his soul to place it’s hope in the Lord. Psalm 42, 43. Read it.

vs 3. Tears are saying, “where is your God? Tears have been my food day and night.” Man that dude is sad. At that time he was asking for a savior. The difference with us, is that we have one. All justification, peace, love, identity and wholeness is found in him.

Psalm 42, 43 personalized/interpreted by my words and the words of Pastor Cliff at Woodside Detroit:

I am asking for water that gives life and you wash over me with water so powerful that it brings death by a drowning so significant the calendar shifted when it happened.  In his steadfast love, I live like I need less death and more love.  I live crying out, “Please show me your love”.  Instantly overwhelmed by circumstance my rock seems to have forgotten me. Emotional pain. Why is my soul forgetting the truth i can recite at any given moment. Fight for me God! I’m trying to live for you and create for you and love for you and live for you. I am trying so hard to make my identity in the sent Savior you gave me. Save me!

His waters quiet and whisper, “I have”.

Where is He!

HE is Here. God has Him here.

The past year and half has brought a new understanding to me: God loves us enough to allow us to go through things to show us what our hope is in. My hope was in soooooo many things that weren’t Him. His grace has revealed that and now has broken those chains.

After his awesome sermon, which pissed a ton of people off but made Jesus stand while at the right hand of his Father, Stephen was taken to be killed. Looking up, through his oppressors throwing stones at his head, past his critics, with un approval all around him, with grace and thanksgiving and peace, he declared, in the most un oportune time possible, “Forgive them God, they don’t know what they are doing.”

Thats legit. What pain do I have? Why down oh my soul? God so good.

We will not be free of pain and suffering in this life time but we are free from the slavery to pain and suffering with the knowledge that all pain and suffering will be abolished at the coming of Jesus.

Thus, after reading the word today, praying, listening to the faithfulness of my wife’s love for God, listening to wise men talk about Jesus in my community, I can say this, “The vision I have is for now and in this now, Christ is working” and with patience given to me I will press on and wait for him to pull me out of this test I am in with Him by my side.

May I encourage you to place all your hope and justification not in what you can do but in the already finished work of Jesus Christ. The rescue Jesus offers will promote a performance in your life unmatched by what is possible in all possible human achievement.

Now, at the end of this day I can see that everything that is fighting against my soul is illuminated by the Spirit who reveals that I am exactly where I am supposed to be. Not only where I am supposed to be, but that my life isn’t about me, but is about serving others bc that is how Jesus lived.

Nothing, no critique, no affirmation , no anger, no words, no aggression, no film, not even the sweetest frame has any saving or destroying power.

The vision will come.

And in other news, Be honest and patient with your clients.

Below are photos of children and orphans in Ukraine who have been left by the government to raise. They make up the majority of the crime and human trafficking victims. It’s important to remember such peoples while the rest of the world watches the Eurocup down the street.

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A vendor holds up 9 dollars bills with Obama's face on it.

Photo thought of the day…While organizing content for my website, I came across the photos I took when my brother, his Swedish wife and I took the 4:30am train down to DC to watch Obama be sworn in. It is an amazing experience putting my first website together bc I get to look through all my work and have a platform to show my photographs and video. Check out From Slavery to History on my website.

Here are some lessons I have been learning over the past week summed up in one-liners.

Work

-During a New York Times shoot I was in a very small town with one intersection photographing a mail box. I was hired to photograph a mailbox. And it was stressful because I could have done it wrong. I paused, with encouragement from my wife, stopped, stood, and realized that all I could see what what I saw. So I took the picture of what was in front of me.

-Content is still king. It is easy to get wrapped up in producing to please others or for hits, for my own idea of success or for what I can hope to become. All of those motives have given me a portfolio of diverse work but have left me to understand that I am starting a new now that I have recognized that the only motive I should attach to exists simply within what has created me.

-The key to failure is trying to please everyone.

-Comparison is death when it becomes how the way I value my work. Constant comparison marginalizes my work by influencing me to believe my work is only valuable when it looks like some other work I have seen.  Comparison leads to a constant game of catch up. An important part of production is to relax and value what is in front of me and give it the time to be produced into it’s fullest potential.

Work + Faith

-God has called me into a specific calling. Even though other filmmaker’s and photographer’s careers look very attractive, I have my own path that will lead me.

-The young rich ruler that the bible references has no recorded name 2000 years later. He had a name once but what he built his life around, his identity was what he became known for and is remember by.

Faith

-There is no separation between work and faith.

-I am having to believe that God is doing something great in me. I undervalue his work often and with the gift of my wife I have begun to understand how important I am to Him.

-While asking God to point out the idols in my life he has spoken in many answers. For a long time I was working to become known, to have my work known, to have identity in more than just me. He revealed that I am a master of masking my search to be included in this world with the good intention of being a Christ follower. Even while preparing my new website and blog I had to check myself that I wasn’t just preparing to be famous by setting up a system by which to be famous.

-I am learning there is so much joy in the Lord as I abandon hope in the mirages of this world.

-As God’s creation, we are made to search for Him and his son Jesus. All of creation screams his glory. I search as often as I can for everything that was created through Him, totally not giving Him glory, but holding up all he has given me and could give me as my hope. And then He reminds me He is there and all everything everywhere is to point to Him.

The Lord knows how to rescue righteous men from their trials. So pursue righteousness asking the Holy Spirit to carry you. Do not try on your own accord but ask God to reveal impure motives even while pursuing his kingdom.
As for evangelism, don’t wait any longer, the time is now to tell the person you are praying for the good news. I was with a very amazing person today who was on drugs and living apart from God. Someone during his college career asked him if he had heard the Good news. My friend said, “What good news?” The response was Jesus is coming back.
What moment are you waiting for? Consider this the prompting from the spirit as I do not write these words on my own or by my own desire, although by God’s grace and power I can say I share the desire that you would go and tell the world of your faith. But again, not on your own accord or strength. Not sure what that means? Ask the lord, and humble yourself. Ask him to point out what is keeping you from the fullness of christ’s love.
If you have Christ’s love you will not need to wait for a ministry opportunity to minister but in love your ministry will perfect.

Praise God for his blessings. I am humbled and astonished at how the works of his hands continue as my strength without my strength. i spent 8 days or so with my sister, her husband and their son in Monterey and just got back home last night. I loved every minute of it. It is late now and my desire is not to type or write but to simply talk about it to someone. I have more the desire to talk about my time with them than the energy to talk about my time with them. My heart understood a bit more this past week, what family was and how God’s message of adoption is more important the farther one gets away from those immediate in relation.

I am going to Ukraine. It is a blessing from my new friend Stephen Christian and his non profit group, Faceless International. Yes, this is confusing since I am Stephen, he is Stephen, I am a Christian, he is a Christian and his last name is Christian. The Lord kept open my month for one purpose and until I received a call from Stephen asking me to go on a trip to minister in Ukraine, I had given up a bit of hope, forgetting that just because I can’t see doesn’t mean God isn’t doing. There are plans ahead of our thoughts and our attention. So with 14 days to go I am learning Ukrainian, which isn’t easy.  I am not sure what this trip will lead to, but in this time where even my house is at stake, the only place I have to trust is the Lord.  If that sounds narrow minded please ask God yourself to provide, then wait, wait some more, erase all that you hope for and expect and see how amazing his provision is. Example; I am going to Ukraine for free without planning it. When what we plan is out of our control all we can do is label the event, “Faith”. Blanketing that unknown unseen expectation for God to work with a simple word is in itself a step into, an act of of self defiance. The fact that I am not begging God to send me out of the country, in fact I am a bit hesitant to even think about going out (simply because I have visited 27 countries in 7 years) is the reason why I believe He is sending me.

God’s faithfulness is amazing. After 3 months of prayer, He has led me and supplied for me and now I own a 1998 Jetta. Bought it for $1.

All of this amazing provision in the midst of me feeling distant from God. That is why feelings should be seen as vantage points to see that God works whether we feel he does or not.  I think I have a spirit of oppression around me for these past few days, robbing me of joy, which hasn’t hindered my faith, just my attitude. Proverbs 3:3-4 is what I have to say about that.

Today I played soccer with Joseph from Yemin, then Mosed from Bangladesh. They were good. I lost, but according to Jim from Lebanon, we all won.

Tonight I road the elevator with Detroit’s new mayor, Dave Bing and a small conversation started about my movie I might direct with T-Pain. I talked too much about myself. Next time I wont.