Posts Tagged ‘Christianity’

January ’11

January 10, 2011

I got some news last night that I’ve been waiting on for awhile but before I get to that I want to revisit how this tiny portion of our story even got there.

Something like 5 or 6 months ago (I can’t remember) I was looking in to getting ‘extra’ roles and getting the attention of agents.  I found a website that promised to connect talent with opportunities (don’t they all?) and joined their site on a free trial which was right after sending out a ton of headshots and resumes to agents.  I got a call from an agent (this was the first one to call me) that wanted me to come in for a meeting.  Then, right after, I started looking through this website I mentioned and got a message from a casting director inviting anyone and everyone to come to some bar in Brooklyn for an open casting call for a TV pilot.  Now, I hate going to Brooklyn.  Hate it.  It takes forever to get there from where we live and, if you’re not in the rich parts, then it’s run-down and crummy-looking.  However, the meeting with the agent was in lower Manhattan and the timing worked out so I decided if I felt up to it after the meeting I would go to the audition.  I prayed hard about that day and felt God telling me this would be a blessing…that this day would be a step forward.

The meeting was awful.  I didn’t get to do any acting.  It was just talking and she tore me to pieces when I didn’t read her mind and say whatever it was she wanted me to say.  She told me to get a scene together though, with another actor and come back when I was ready…which still hasn’t happened, for various reasons.  I felt like garbage after that meeting but was itching to actually act for somebody afterwards so I went ahead to the audition.  The director cast me on the spot for a project that sounded ridiculous at the time.  I had no hope for this project at that point but it was nice to hear some kind words that day. 

A week later, I recorded a couple songs for the project and the director and I started talking more about it on the long drive back and forth from the studio.  He said he did a lot of volunteering and fundraising for a few certain organizations and, because of gratitude for his work, important people in those organizations gave him a grant to make this project he had told them about into a full 2-episode pilot.  They also introduced him to a professional crew that could shoot it for him.  That crew was headed by Latch (just a nickname) and the director told me that Latch was really headed somewhere and had already had a lot of success with music videos and was now working his way into other things and was starting to make a name for himself.

This made it obvious then that Latch was the guy I needed to look out for and try to impress.  A few days later I joined the shooting and Latch had zero interest in who I was or what I was doing there.  I went into a corner somewhere and prayed that God would help me to do the best job I could do but I felt God telling me to be more bold.  So, I prayed that Latch would notice my work and see something in me that made no sense for what I actually did or what he actually saw–that he would see beyond the silly role I was playing and that God would show him everything I could do in a way that was beyond my own abilities.  This was a prayer that I repeated many times before every day of shooting.

That first day of shooting I got to do something that got people’s attention because it was just physical comedy.  I’m good at throwing my body around and making faces and that was all it was so everyone on the crew at least wanted to know my name after that.  The next day was a scene with actual dialogue.  I know I brought a lot of energy and acted the part for what it was supposed to be but it wasn’t award-winning stuff.  Latch was really complementary and said he had a few things going on and asked me for my headshot and contact information.  Then he started comparing me to Johnny Depp (I’m not joking).  I laughed at him but he said my ability to just turn it on and be something completely different was rare and reminded him of some of the greats.  He said I was easily one of the most talented people he’s ever worked with (remember that prayer?).  There was then a few weeks where nothing was going on with that project and I was focused elsewhere.

The next shoot date I walked in the room and was greeted with Latch saying, “I’ve got some good news for you my friend.  You have an an audition in two weeks for a Universal Studios movie for the main serial killer.  How do you feel about that?”  I was a bit confused and stunned and didn’t know whether to believe him or not.  He explained he had a friend that wrote a freaky thriller screenplay, that Universal Studios had bought it and that, after first just being Director of Photography, he had been moved up to a Producer.  Since now he had some creative control, he had gotten rid of some of the cast and was calling for another round of auditions.  One of those roles was that of the main serial killer (yes, there’s more than one…I guess it’s a cult sort of thing) and he wanted me.  He told me I still had to convince others ( the director, other producers) and if it was up to him solely, the role would already be mine (this after seeing me play a clumsy secret agent that’s working undercover as a high school janitor– a part described to me during original auditions as a mix between Maxwell Smart and George Costanza….yeah, remember that prayer?).  We locked down the date and time and went on shooting for the day.  I just prayed that I wouldn’t do anything that would make him second-guess his belief in me.

The night of the audition, I prayed the same prayer as before and went in having been told to learn a Russian accent 6 hours earlier (Latch called to tell me he forgot about that part).  I really didn’t think I did a good job on the audition.  But we got to talking and I really got along with everyone there and then they asked me to do a monologue and I had one ready that really works for me.  Overall, it went well but I had no idea what to expect.

The next day Latch called to say it was down to me and one other guy and that I should be happy because overall they had seen close to 100 guys for the part.  He said that he and the executive producer preferred me but the director had the casting control and the director preferred the other guy.  There was supposed to be a final audition just a few days later.  I prayed that I would act beyond my talent and would leave no doubt in their minds.  The audition got pushed back a week.  I kept praying but God told me again to be more bold.  So, I prayed that no audition would be needed–that I would get the part without ever having to walk in and audition for that part again. 

Then came the waiting.  Shooting got pushed back because the script kept changing so scenes they thought they needed to shoot immediately didn’t exist anymore.  The audition would get scheduled and then the studio would call the producers in for a meeting so I would hear things like, “sorry about the delay but it’s set now that if you get the part you’re working on a $20 million movie.”  It was frustrating and impossible to move on emotionally to anything else.

Christmas came and it was amazing to see family and friends back home.  It was reviving and refreshing and everything we prayed it would be.  We got back the first of the year and it didn’t take long to feel like I was right back in this depressing, debilitating waiting game.  God gave me a push though and I remembered to keep on praying, and keep on praying.  Also, I emailed Latch and called him and didn’t hear back from him.  I wasn’t sure what to think but felt like God was reminding me of all the prayers he had answered to even get to that point.

Last night Latch called me back.  He said he knew I was probably mad at him and he was sorry that he hadn’t kept in touch but there had been a lot going on and it had been crazy.  Then he said, “There’s been a bunch of issues with the director.  We’ve had some creative issues with him and the studio has had some issues with him.  It got pretty bad with this guy and so now the director has been removed…and now I’m the director….and guess who I’m casting as my serial killer?….You baby!” 

No audition required (remember that other prayer?).  There is still much that could go wrong and I won’t be signing a contract for about 2 weeks.  I have no idea what the money will be or if the movie will be any good or how the shooting will go.  However, the very least I can expect is that studio executives will have to watch this to decide whether it gets in theatres or gets put out on a DVD sale rack…which means they’ll have to see me, doing what God gifted me to do.  That is a foot in the door…which is all I’ve been hoping for for so long.

All those uncertainties about this project just mean that there’s a lot to pray about.  I will be and I ask for any of you willing to pray as well.  A friend of mine that usually is the most unsentimental person I know recently commented on one of our blogs:

“Look at a stone cutter hammering away at his rock, perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred-and-first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not the last blow that did it, but all that had gone before.”

I appreciated seeing someone remind us of that but I’m not sure if I always believe it in regards to general effort.  However, in regards to prayer…I know it’s true.  God is so good.  Not because He gave me a part in a movie…but because He is the creator of this entire universe, every cell on this earth is his handiwork, and He heard my prayers.  He cared about the yearnings of my heart and could see the lessons I needed to learn before giving yet another gift of love.  I pray to a God that answers prayers, a God that is able and willing and I will serve Him whether I’m collecting an Oscar in two years or never even get on another set and am home trying to pick up the pieces in a year.  He gives mercy, He gives grace and He hears my prayers.  The creator of all hears my prayers.

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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.

Later on April 13, 2010

April 13, 2010

I want to be free and I want to be fearless.  I want the power that comes with this.  I want God’s eyes to see.  I want Jesus’ heart in discernment.  I want the empathy and focus that come with that.  I want to snap the chains of entertainment.  I want to not need a song and dance playing for me at all times because it is all just a sideshow.  I want to honor and glorify God with the way I work without yearning for man’s approval and affirmation.  I want to be beyond reproach on everything.  I want the only questioning I am put to to be interrogations of spirituality and heart for which God gives me all the answers I need.  I want the Holy Spirit to be present for me and with me every moment.  I want righteousness to set my path before me every day.  I want to yearn for Jesus and then know how to run closer in a real way…not cheap actions or attempts.  I want every other desire to be secondary so much that it doesn’t show up on the radar.  I want life in a real way–I want it in the way it was supposed to be, with some new adventure every day in the midst of material simplicity…and every second of it laid at the feet of Jesus.  I want freedom.  I want fearlessness.  I want choice to be shackled to God’s will.  I want truth to have no choice but to come from my mouth–I want it tied to the end of my tongue.  I want peace amid chaos instead of stress amid boredom.  I want to be stunned by His beauty and glorious majesty continuously.  I want to spend more time weeping in gratitude than grovelling for help and blessings.  I want to be free.  I want to be fearless.  Please Lord…grant me this.  Give me freedom.  Give me fearlessness.  Give me your power.  Give me your presence.  Give me you.

Week 9.5

August 6, 2009

So, the very first thing I actually prefer here compared to Illinois has presented itself.  In the midwest, there’s that saying “church on every corner” and it’s pretty darn close.  Therefore, almost everyone has some experience or memory of church or church people–positive or negative.  Since almost everyone has their own personal feelings about “that whole God thing” already and those feelings rarely agree with the person next to you’s feelings, talking about Jesus is taboo and off limits in nearly every setting.  I have discovered that here– in this place where there certainly is not a church on every corner and where it’s easier to find a porn shop or drug dealer than a house of God– those negative connotations of the mere discussion of Christ don’t exist (at least not nearly as prevalently).  I have begun making actual friends with a few people in the cast of Rock-A My Soul (the musical I’m in) and a few good acquaintances.  Twice in the last week I have gone out after rehearsal with a different friend and God worked it so my testimony naturally came up.  That led to a deeper discussion of Jesus and where that person was in their faith and where they would like to be that, both times, lasted over an hour.  Other things were discussed in the 2-4 hours of hanging out but Jesus kept coming back up……AND THEY’RE BOTH STILL MY FRIENDS.  My past isn’t pretty, and I wish I could take it all back just because they are all moments of me purposely turning my back on God, but it was obvious that without my past these people and I would have had no common ground to start from and no footing for them to begin to respect where I am compared to where I was…and be in a bit of awe of how powerful He actually is…..gee whiz, Jesus is amazing.  It’s also really nice that He gave me friends.

I work this weekend Friday, Saturday, and Sunday midnight–8am and Jenn works Friday and Saturday until 2am.  This will be the first heavy work weekend for both of us together and it will be an interesting test.  Including– can I not completely freak out that work is threatening my ability to get to my all-day church softball tournament on Saturday.  I want to play really bad because there has not been enough athletic competition out here to sustain me for two weeks, let alone almost ten weeks.  But, apparently wherever there is a lot of grass, the city purposely doesn’t put a subway line anywhere near it.  So, I get off work at 8am and our first game is at 8:30am and I can’t possibly get to the fields on my own.  I’m worried deep in my heart….which might be unhealthy but I can’t control it.

This has still been a really rough time for Jenn’s body.  Her fibromyalgia is doing a job on her and we’re not sure if there is an end in sight.  Fortunately– with all the days the pain has kept her inside our apartment– her sister got her the first two Twilight books for her birthday.  I now know more about Twilight than I ever wished to but have also gained a healthy respect for my wife’s ability to knock out really thick books in a very short amount of time if given nothing else to do.  Good for her.  However, after hearing so much about them from her, there was a moment when my manhood was in jeopardy.  I opened up the first book somewhere near the middle and read half-a-page.  I laughed really hard for a solid 5 minutes and put it down knowing that I would never again feel the urge to join the frenzy.  It HAS to be a girl thing.

I’m getting kind of pumped for this monologue challenge.  I’m blanking out as to whether I have written about it previously but I’ll describe it briefly.  It is through this actor’s showcase group I’m in called The Actor’s Project NYC.  40 actors signed up for it and each one will deliver a 1-minute monologue.  There are 5 industry judges (casting directors, agents) that decide the final 5 actors and then the audience chooses the winner.  After enough troop meetings with the showcase group and little private meetings with our artistic director, I really like my chances to get into the final 5.  From there, though, I have to hope that the other 4 finalists are like me in that they are bringing nobody to come see them.  Even if I killed it (uh…did a really good job) I can’t win if one of the other finalists has 35 friends in the audience.  The prizes for winning are things like free headshots and career coaching and audition classes and other things that are all career related and cost a lot of money out here.  It’s the day after Rock-A My Soul finishes up so there will be a lot of exposure for me for that short bit of time.  Now I’m just hoping a really great agent happens to be around to take notice.

Jenn’s friends from college were in NYC and met us for lunch a few days ago.  The wife of the couple just made her Carnegie Hall debut last month, which we went to, and you would have no clue that this woman is rising star in the international opera scene either by being in the same room with her or talking to her about opera.  She makes no judgement on other people’s pursuits or talents and carries no entitlement or self-importance.  If Jenn and I ever do “make it” I can only hope that we carry ourselves with that kind of grace and modesty with genuine respect for the talent of those around us.  She was a terrific example.

Some observations:  I don’t know about other people but when I’m talking with people in the midwest I can usually get a pretty quick read on the type of person they are as far as their drug usage goes.  Like, this person has never done any illegal drug…or this person used to smoke a lot of pot…or this person still smokes a lot of pot and used to do cocaine and mushrooms.  I never had an issue with or any desire for drugs but I was around a lot of  people who did.  My compass, however, is completely invalid out here.  Overhearing some people talk in the cast talk about that sort of thing has totally blown my mind.  I guess spending your formative/party years out here means hardcore drugs aren’t that big of deal to you.  Very strange.  Thank God I didn’t get here until now.

I feel sorry for people that are so unable or unwilling to see or admit the failure in their lives that they compromise what constitutes as truth or success.  This mostly applies to Christians in their walk with Jesus.  This compromise doesn’t make any sense at all.  God Himself says “my grace is sufficient for you” and that His strength is magnified in our weakness.  Why not just admit just how much He demands of us and, therefore, how pathetically feable our efforts and “victories” are….then rejoice that He still loves us and cherishes us despite this.  Sigh. 

New York never learned how to make a stinkin’ milkshake.  I long for a thick midwestern chocolate shake so bad.  Out here…it’s just really expensive chocolate milk.  I mean, it’s unhealthy, so I figured they would’ve had it mastered and improved and somehow added butter or bacon to it but…no.