Archive for August, 2010

thoughts from a seminar

August 17, 2010

So there are these seminars for actors here in New York City.  They’re always listed as a “free seminar” but they’re really just teasers and advertisements for something that is not even close to being free.  Typically the free part lasts about an hour where they start off diving into some of the problems actors face and then they suddenly become very vague and discuss how they know how to get around these problems and the results that others have gotten by listening to this wonderful advice.  Then they tell you that for only $500-$800 you can learn all of these secrets in an intense 3-5 day seminar that will change your life.  It’s not at all unlike an infomercial.

I went to one of the free portions a little while ago.  Beforehand, I prayed that God would help me get something helpful out of what they would talk about before asking for money.  It was a married couple that apparently understands how the brain works better than anyone else in the world which is helped by their dabbling in “Eastern mysticism” and “quantum psychology”.  They began by urging all of us to rattle off obstacles standing between us and acting success.  Age, looks, and audition anxiety were among the couple-dozen issues brought up by the crowd.  Then the hosts said something I hadn’t thought of much.  They said that all of these perceived obstacles were just symptoms.  They were symptoms of a deeper, root problem or belief.  God then worked his magic in the form of a hyper-speedy self-analyses and I thought about what belief would be the cause of the things holding me back.  “I’m not in control” popped into my head.  I don’t think I’m in control.

This caused a bit of a conflict internally.  The reason I don’t think I’m in control is because I have faith that God is in control.  The strength of my faith is one of the biggest blessings God has given me.  I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that if it was God’s plan to give me a career in acting, He could do it in the most unlikely, miraculous way possible.  Steven Spielberg could dial my number by mistake and like the sound of my voice for a big part in a movie he’s about to do…whatever ridiculous story you could come up with, God could do it.  I also know that if God did not have a career in acting planned for me then it wouldn’t matter if I gave the performance of a lifetime in a play tailor-made for me with 20 Hollywood directors and 65 agents in the crowd…it wouldn’t happen.  That faith in God’s power in my life and in this world is an absolute gift.  So, how could it be a bad thing?  It isn’t, but it was leading to bad things.  God showed me clearly that my belief that I am not in control was leading me to inaction. 

Jenn and I have gotten so discouraged out here and are, at times, wishing we just didn’t have any ambitions in this field.  We try to help each other fight that desire to quit but  I was being double-teamed by the thought that what I did didn’t matter anyway because God was in control…so I wasn’t doing anything.  This part had to change.  I still believe God is in control but He had made it obvious that sitting on the couch wasn’t going to cut it.  I still don’t know what He has planned but this revelation has spurred me on to activity that I now just wish I had been doing for the last 10 months.  There have been A LOT of mailed out headshots and resumes to agents matched with a lot of phone calls to those same agents.  There have been searches for jobs as an extra.  There have been films and other paying jobs submitted for.  There have been classes signed up for with big casting agents with extra money made from little side projects (another low-paying fight choreographer gig).  There has been real research and work done to finally do this stinking voice-over demo reel.  All of it is pretty darn ordinary but, unfortunately, all of it is a whole lot more than I’ve done in the last 6 months combined. 

Now, the Census job is finally finished (thank you Jesus that it lasted this long).  Jenn and I have discussed it and have decided that I will take the next two weeks off to work as hard as I can at this business side of acting without the interruption of a job.  After that, I will need to start looking for another survival job and hope that some (please…any) of this work pays off somehow.  I know I’m not in control of much of anything in the big picture of my life… but I guess I have to work like I am… and remember to give Him all the praise if any of it bears fruit.  Sounds simple enough.  Please pray that I can actually pull it off.

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Nahum thoughts

August 17, 2010

I was reading through Nahum not too long ago–one of the so-called “lesser prophets”–and one wonderful thing struck me.  Nahum gets it…and this particular “it” is the dual nature of God’s character. 

Two spots in the beginning of the book illustrate Nahum’s clarity, both in Chapter 1.  First in verses 2 and 3 it reads, “The Lord is a jealous and avenging God; the Lord takes vengeance and is filled with wrath.  The Lord takes vengeance on his foes and maintains his wrath against his enemies.  The Lord is slow to anger and great in power; the Lord will not leave the guilty unpunished.”             Then, in verses 6-8:  “Who can withstand his indignation?  Who can endure his fierce anger?  His wrath is poured out like fire; the rocks are shattered before him.  The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble.  He cares for those who trust in him, but with an overwhelming flood he will make an end of Nineveh; he will pursue his foes into darkness.”                I love how, in both passages, there is no break between what you would think would be two different lines of thought.  He just flows directly from one into the other and back again.  Because these are not mutually exclusive ideas/characteristics.

 This is something that I think a lot of people struggle with (I have no idea why I do not but I feel blessed that that is the case) and I understand why–especially in today’s culture.  How can someone be capable of love and adoration and peace, patience, and generosity also be worthy of fear?  How can someone so forgiving be full of wrath?  How can someone slow to anger then also be one that pursues his foes into destruction?  These are the kinds of questions that people have floating around in their heads nowadays.  Unfortunately, I’ve seen a lot more people decide to just choose one side of that character breakdown instead of taking the time and emotional/mental/spiritual effort to understand how both can exist.  There are people (typically more “religous”/rules oriented) that are really comfortable with right and wrong and those doing wrong being punished.  In fact, that’s really all they want to see is God’s wrath being poured out over evil doers with no chance for forgiveness, salvation, and acceptance (Jonah is an obvious biblical example of this).  Then there are those (quite a bit more popular today) who are not at all comfortable with that side of God but really like the idea of forgiveness, acceptance, tolerance and just want all of us to dole that out to each other at all times.  They typically only speak to others about this side of Jesus and His willingness and ability to forgive anyone…which is awesome but can sometimes bleed into a “you’re fine, I’m fine, everybody’s fine” mentality that can be a big step away from Christ.  Both sides can be dangerous.  God wishes all would come to Him.  He is slow to anger.  He is more forgiving than any person could hope to be.  He is a refuge from the storm and a loving Father who adores His children.  He is beautiful and thinks YOU are beautiful.  I fear, though, for the hearts of those who limit their gaze to this side alone.  There will be a time (I believe soon), that will precede the more hyped rapture and tribulation, when God will take out exclusively those that have cursed Him and His Word and rise up against Israel.  In the prophecy of Ezekiel, we are told of the War of Gog and Magog where Israel is surrounded by armies and looks to have no chance and no allies.  On the eve of Israel’s expected destruction, a divine intervention will occur.  The Lord will brutally destroy those armies while leaving Israel untouched.  It will be in a way that there will be no rational way to explain it outside of God Himself taking action.  Now this will lead to a great many unbelievers turning to Him but I’m afraid for those who choose not to see God as one capable of such horrific bloodshed–and it will be horrific.  I fear they will turn their backs because they will not understand how their soft, cuddly God could do such a thing…an act that almost certainly will be seen as divine genocide. 

I don’t have a clue on how one goes about understanding this (which is why I’m so grateful that it is not one of my many struggles) other than a lot of prayer teamed with Bible-reading.  But I know it’s true.  Our Father in heaven is consumed with vengeance and holy justice and will have it…someday soon.  Our Father in heaven is in love with His creation and is obsessed with you climbing into His lap each and every day and bringing as many with you as possible.  There are no (solely) human examples of this impossible balance–if you can call it that.  So how can we believe it?  As far as I can see, just add it to the list of amazing things that you/we will not understand in this life.  I don’t know how it works…but I know it’s true.

August 6

August 6, 2010

A few nights ago I was riding home late on the subway.  The train was a few stops away from where I get off and this very bold homeless man delayed things for awhile.  He is very familiar to anyone that pays attention.  He doesn’t just sit on the sidewalk with a sign and a cup.  He approaches each individual person waiting on the platform, looks them in the eye and asks if they have any change or spare food with his hand in full receptive position.  That is how I’ve seen him previously but on this night he was wasn’t looking for money.  However, he appeared to be claiming a temporary home.

The train doors opened and immediately two large black garbage bags flew through the air and landed inches away from the older ladies sitting next to me.  Then he appeared in his shirtless, hairy slendor with three more small suitcases in hand.  I thought maybe that was it but after dropping the suitcases he lunged out of the train for two more full garbage bags.  By this point the doors began to close but he pinned himself between them until they reopened and then he threw in two more bags.  This process continued for 5 more minutes.  Everyone around me had moved from that side of the train car (I would’ve as well if there was a bad smell but, thankfully, there was not) and now 65 heads were turned to frown and silently scold this man.  Some ridiculed him with their friends while others took pictures with their phones so they could ridicule him later on when they were around their friends.  The homeless man didn’t even look.  The doors had closed.  The train was once again moving.  He crafted dirty insulation around the metal rails and walls that enclosed his chosen bench.  Twenty stuffed garbage bags and three suitcases laid strewn on the floor around him.  I’ve never witnessed more than two or three New Yorkers agree on anything.  But an entire train car was in agreeance to hate this man, and he could not have appeared to care less.  I sat between the man, and his fort, and the angry (yet quiet) horde.  I looked back and forth and could not help but feel so…jealous.  This man had no fear–a humbling boldness.  He was not oblivious to all the hateful MIIIIND BULLETS being shot his way but he acted like it.  Socially, he assessed himself as having nothing to lose (which might seem obvious but, out here, I’ve witnessed extremely rich people as well as the pit of poverty acting as absolute slaves to what other people think of them).  I couldn’t help but watch this man’s attitude and crave it as a pot of gold or a bag of steaks.  I walked home nearly weeping at the strength of this urge to be just like him.  Maybe then I could speak truth in uncomfortable situations.  Maybe then I could pursue my family’s souls with the blind zeal that I should.  Maybe then those strangers that surround me would not be able to step near me without hearing  the name of Jesus.  Maybe then my focus could be on the One Thing that truly matters.

I am grateful I have a home just as I am thankful for every gift God has given me.  I know it is possible to not throw these gifts aside as rubbish and to also have this bold, fearless attitude.  I know it.  It must be.  I just wonder if it’s possible for me.  I hope it is.