Sunday, April 16, 2017

Easter Fellowship: Turn to the One Who Knows Your Name

Joyce teaches on John 20:1-18, and she shares one of her funniest stories from her corporate career! Pastor Jim Warren opens the service with "Happy Resurrection Day" in the numerous languages of our congregation, and Pastor Linda Warren prays over the children and the sermon.

Click the arrow below, or if you're reading this in an email you can click this link, to play the service:



This service is available for download free on iTunes, where you can also subscribe to our podcast. Search for "Westchester Chapel" on the iTunes Store.

We opened with Don Francisco's "He's Alive!" This rendition begins with Don talking about his process of writing the song...



If you want to more about starting a relationship with Jesus Christ visit www.WestchesterChapel.org/Salvation.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Good Friday: Abandonment to the Cross

Linda with Joyce and I just
before the turn of the century.
Tonight Dr. Linda Warren taught on Matthew 27 and Psalm 22:1-11, and as an analogy she shared how she came to the Lord. I was sobbing and sobbing, because she's the one who led Joyce to the Lord when they worked together at Sports Illustrated.

The opening is by Pastor Jim Warren. Readings from Matthew 27 by Pastor Linda, Elizabeth J., myself, and John C.



Click the arrow below, or if you're reading this in an email you can click this link, to play the service:

This service is available for download free on iTunes, where you can also subscribe to our podcast. Search for "Westchester Chapel" on the iTunes Store.

If you want to more about starting a relationship with Jesus Christ visit www.WestchesterChapel.org/Salvation.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Maundy Thursday Fellowship

At our service tonight I read excerpts from Psalm 78.

Pastor Rachel Taylor leads us in remembering the Lord's Last Supper with his disciples. Kimberly A. reads Luke 22:7-13. Tamara W. Reads Luke 22:14-20.

Click the arrow below, or if you're reading this in an email you can click this link, to play the service:



This service is available for download free on iTunes, where you can also subscribe to our podcast. Search for "Westchester Chapel" on the iTunes Store.

If you want to more about starting a relationship with Jesus Christ visit www.WestchesterChapel.org/Salvation.

Photo courtesy of NicolettiPhoto.com.

Sunday, April 09, 2017

Written on a Palm Branch

In this morning's service at Westchester Chapel Dr. Linda Warren shares a story about how she wrote Joyce's name on a palm branch on a Palm Sunday about 25 years ago. It brought me to tears! Pastor Jim Warren preaches on John 12:12-19, with readings from John 11:23-27, 12:1-11, Zechariah 9:9, 12, and Matthew 11:28-30. He mentions The Case for Christ, which is in theaters now. Read my review here. Opening and commissioning of our new evangelism program, Mission Accomplish by Dr. Linda. Joyce prays over the leaders of our new evangelism program, Mission Accomplish.

Click the arrow below, or if you're reading this in an email you can click this link, to play the service:



This service is available for download free on iTunes, where you can also subscribe to our podcast. Search for "Westchester Chapel" on the iTunes Store.

Here's the trailer for The Case for Christ, preceded by an introduction by Lee Strobel and followed by an interview with him.



If you want to more about starting a relationship with Jesus Christ visit www.WestchesterChapel.org/Salvation.


Saturday, April 08, 2017

The Case for Christ

At the
AMC Empire on Times Square.
This is my new favorite movie, and that's only changed twice since 1981: Chariots of Fire and Risen are the only ones to have held that place in my heart since junior high.

The Case for Christ tells the true story of how Lee Strobel, a hard-boiled, award-winning investigative journalist for the Chicago Tribune set his skills on debunking the resurrection of Jesus Christ to convince his wife to abandon her newfound love for the Lord.

Acting, writing (Brian Bird: Captive, Touched by an Angel), cinematography (Brian Shanley: God's Not Dead, Do You Believe?) are all top shelf. Nothing cheesy about this one, and major papers are agreeing with that.

The worst The Hollywood Reporter could do was imply that the film stereotyped Lee Strobel as an atheist by showing him 'constantly acting like a jerk, including drinking heavily, accidentally terrifying his little girl, and whining to Leslie (his wife), "You’re cheating on me with Jesus!"' Maybe the reviewer missed the fact that this is a biography based on Lee's life.

My wife, Joyce, who was going to journalism school in Chicago when Lee Strobel was writing at the Chicago Tribune, said it was more accurate to say that those actions stereotyped Chicago journalists of the time. She said you had to be tough to make it.

The reviewer goes on to say that Leslie, 'on the other hand, displays infinite love and patience with her husband, proving that — as was also shown in the faith-based film War Room — Jesus makes an ideal marriage counselor.' I know the validity of Erika Christensen's portrayal of Leslie, because part of my own bride Joyce's testimony is that one of her co-workers said, about a year after Joyce gave her life to the Lord, that Joyce's changed life was the first miracle the woman had ever seen.

Also, the reviewer is leaving out the fact that both lead actors are much more nuanced than his review implies. Lee is very caring and loving at times, and it's clear that his investigation into the resurrection of Jesus Christ is an attempt to save what he perceives to be a crumbling marriage. He is deeply moved when he discovers something he didn't know about his father, played by Robert Forster. On the other side, Leslie certainly expresses the pain Lee is causing her through his attacks on Christianity, she raises her voice in numerous scenes, and at one point kicks Lee out for the night.

Forster's single scene was like an espresso: short but with a lot of punch. Another gem of a cameo was Faye Dunaway, playing another skeptic, but one who reluctantly directs him toward Truth.

One of the charming elements of the film is the detailing of the 80s: He drives a Trans Am with his massive mop flopping over his wide collars. He and his wife have worked out code for his pager. A fast call back to the editor is from a creatively marked pay phone. He pops open a flip top soda can. (I whispered to Joyce: "Hope that didn't take too many takes!") And my favorite: "How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie-Pop? The world may never know."

At the end of the day that's how Lee Strobel's atheist friend, aptly played by Brett Rice, puts it to him. We'll never know everything. It takes faith to believe or not to believe. If you're leaning toward disbelief I challenge you to see this film without presuppositions. If you still have questions read the book of the same title upon which the film is based. I have more ideas about faith at www.RichDrama.com/MyPassion.

I believe The Case for Christ is pure Truth in its best package yet.

We watched it in a packed house on Times Square, where it received robust applause. The showing after ours was sold out.

Find out if it's playing near you.

It's rated PG for images of the crucifixion, some smoking, drinking and a hospital scene of an injured gang member. At one point a character whispers, "Oh, G_d," and it's unclear whether it's a prayer.



I play a lead in Providence, which you can bring to your area.

Sunday, April 02, 2017

Fellowship and Servanthood

Elizabeth J. in the Moses Seat at in the
ruins of Chorazin, Israel, flanked by 
Rebekah W. and Anna S. 
in 2005.
I opened this service at Westchester Chapel mentioning The Hill family, who produced A Matter of Perspective, in which I performed last summer. Pastor Randy Solomon preaches on Matthew 23:1-12. He mentions the film Sing Over Me and shares an illustration from The Insanity of God. Joyce shares about films currently in theaters: Facing Darkness and The Case for Christ (trailer below).

Click the arrow below, or if you're reading this in an email you can click this link, to play the service:



This service is available for download free on iTunes, where you can also subscribe to our podcast. Search for "Westchester Chapel" on the iTunes Store.

If you want to more about starting a relationship with Jesus Christ visit www.WestchesterChapel.org/Salvation.




Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Pilgrim's Progress

We saw a fantastic production of Pilgrim's Progress last week put on by The Glory Shop. I was proud of Alexis Duperree and Nealson Munn, who were my students at the Salvation Army Conservatory where I teach and direct most summers. Of course Nealson was playing guitar, so I had nothing to do with that, but I was still proud!

The story is a powerful look at how every path but Jesus leads to death, and even once you choose Him there are trials at every turn.

The script is written by my colleague, Tom Key. He stuck with the 17th century language, but he added a brilliant modem interlude, performed by Alexis.

It was creatively staged by Christopher Monroe, and had possibly the most inventive use of black boxes and PVC pipe I've ever seen! He also got Tom's permission to cast Pilgrim as a woman, well played by Juilliard graduate Kristine Chandler. It heightened the power of the character's choice to leave an unbelieving family behind, fulfilling Luke 14:26: 'Jesus said to them, "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple."' It also, in essence, combined the story with the second part in which Pilgrim's wife, Christiana, and their sons make the journey.

Another favorite element for me was the casting of the three angels. Each of their lines was spoken together in English, and then repeated in the actor's native tongue: Spanish, Mandarin, Portuguese. It was a foretaste of Heaven!

I have a very soft spot in my heart for this story, because it was one of the first I helped tell on a New York stage. In the early '90's I was an intern at The Lamb's Church, which had two Off-Broadway theatres. Twins Kurt and Keith Landaas were considering a production of their rock opera Pilgrim's Progress, and I happened to be the one showing them around the theatre. I mentioned to them that I'd love to audition, so they said, "Go for it." So I sang "Do You Hear the People Sing" from Les Misérables a'cappella right there in the balcony. It parlayed into my Off-Broadway debut, and we also performed it in New Jersey and Staten Island. It was a modern adaptation, and I played one of the darker characters. I found out later I was really intimidating some of the cast with faux piercings and borrowed motorcycle boots. LOL!

Watching Tom's script proved to me that Bunyan's allegory doesn't need a modern twist to make it relevant. It addresses many of the same issues we're still dealing with today.

--



A Clear Leading tells the story of Quaker abolitionist John Woolman, who spoke against slavery a century before our Civil War.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Fellowship and Wonders

Joyce and I teamed up this morning at Westchester Chapel.

I open the service with miracle stories from the road, including the story of how the best man at our wedding found healing, as told in his book Waiting for My Fingers. Joyce teaches on Matthew 21:18-22. Here's the full article she mentions from the New York Times: "The Jihadi Who Turned to Jesus." Dr. Linda Warren prays over the sermon and announces that Facing Darkness, a documentary on a Samaritan's Purse doctor who contracted ebola while working with victims of the deadly disease in Africa, will be in theaters nationwide on March 30 and April 10. It will also be playing in New Rochelle. See the trailer below.

Click the arrow below, or if you're reading this in an email you can click this link, to play the service:



This service is available for download free on iTunes, where you can also subscribe to our podcast. Search for "Westchester Chapel" on the iTunes Store.



If you want to more about starting a relationship with Jesus Christ visit www.WestchesterChapel.org/Salvation.

Photo courtesy of NicolettiPhoto.com.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Mission Underground

I got to serve as a consultant on this charming film in which children play adults. It's by the makers of A Matter of Perspective, and they've done a fantastic job!

It's available at www.ChristianCinema.com.

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Southern Oregon

Though I've lived in New York City since 1993 I grew up in the Rogue Valley, so I try to get back here as often as I can. Often I perform or screen a film I helped make when I'm here. Hope you'll sign up and that we can connect soon!

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Sunday, February 19, 2017

Asking Jesus about Forgiveness

Joyce teaches on Matthew 18:21-35. Dr. Linda Warren opens the service in prayer.

Click the arrow below, or if you're reading this in an email you can click this link, to play the service:



Here's the imagery Joyce used toward the end of the sermon...



This service is available for download free on iTunes, where you can also subscribe to our podcast. Search for "Westchester Chapel" on the iTunes Store.

If you want to more about starting a relationship with Jesus Christ visit www.WestchesterChapel.org/Salvation.

Photo courtesy of NicolettiPhoto.com.


See the rest of Olympic champion Eric Liddell's Chariots of Fire story by booking Beyond the Chariots.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Living Word


My 50th state was North Dakota.

I could have checked it off the list years ago! I was performing in Moorhead, MN, and I drove past the bridge into Fargo. I passed it by thinking I'd already been to ND. I got back to NYC and looked at a map on my wall: South Dakota! It was South Dakota! But I got to work with some wonderful folks, saw miracle after miracle, and it probably wouldn't have happened if I'd crossed that bridge all those years ago!

---


A Clear Leading tells the story of Quaker abolitionist John Woolman, who spoke against slavery a century before our Civil War.

Monday, February 13, 2017

The Case for Christ documentary

We just watched the documentary The Case for Christ with interviews with Lee Strobel and scholars who helped him gather evidence that Jesus Christ lived, was crucified, resurrected and changed the world.

Lee was an award-winning legal journalist for the Chicago Tribune. When his wife became a Christian he used his skills as an investigative journalist to disprove Christianity. After a two year journey he sat down with a legal pad and wrote down evidence for and against in separate columns. He said when he looked at the avalanche of evidence that the major claims of Christianity were true he realized it would take more faith to believe it didn't happen.

Looking forward to the major motion picture coming out in April.




Registration is now open for the 2017 Rocky Mountain Christian Filmmakers Camp.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Snow Day

We canceled today's service at Westchester Chapel due to inclement weather, so we're catching up by posting sermons that were recorded but not posted. Click the sermon title below to go to the sermon, which has been posted on this blog in the order of the date preached:
Do What Jesus Did, March 8, 2009: Pastor Joyce Swingle teaches on Acts 5:12-15.
Holiness Unto the Lord, July 17, 2016: Rich Swingle teaches on Exodus 28:36-38.
Breaking Paradigms, October 9, 2016: Pastor Joyce Swingle teaches on Matthew 16:13-20.
Forgiveness and Fellowship: Peacemaker or a Peace Faker? February 5, 1017: Pastor Pastor Joyce Swingle teaches on Matthew 18:15-20.
Here's a song I was going to introduce today, but Dr. Linda Warren will lead it next Sunday. You can get a head start learning it:



If you want to more about starting a relationship with Jesus Christ visit www.WestchesterChapel.org/Salvation.


Registration is now open for the 2017 Rocky Mountain Christian Filmmakers Camp.

Thursday, February 09, 2017

They Called Him Coach

I just had a delightful surprise watching this documentary on John Wooden, who holds all kinds of records as a basketball coach for UCLA. The one that impressed me the most is that he holds the all-time 40 season winning percentage of .813 (Dayton High School, South Bend Central High School, Indiana State Teachers College, UCLA). That's a whole lotta winning! Along the way came a record ten national championships, seven of those were consecutive (another record), and an 88 game winning streak over three years, and the records go on! What!? Unbelievable!

They Called Him Coach spends some time on his success, but most of the focus is on the foundation of his success and how it was all built upon his relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.

Every year he started the season handing out his Pyramid of Success, but he never talked about winning! His Pyramid is a number of foundational, biblical principles established through faith and patience to have a successful game... and (always his real point) a successful life.

One of the producers of this film is David McCasland, who produced a documentary on Eric Liddell, also for Day of Discovery. David wrote what I believe is still the authoritative biography on the world-record breaking Olympian-turned-missionary. I got to have dinner with David and his wife Luann after a performance of my play on Liddell.




Registration is now open for the 2017 Rocky Mountain Christian Filmmakers Camp.

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Our Last Stand

ISIS destroyed this church in Syria.
A few years ago,  Jordan Allott was interviewed on FOX NEWS during the same program as Father Gabriel Adde, a Syrian Orthodox priest. After the program Jordan met with the Adde family and soon struck up a conversation with Fr. Adde's daughter Helma. After college Helma, born in Chicago, had lived six months in her family's hometown of Quarmishli in Northern Syria. Jordan was telling Helma about plans to return to that part of the world to film a documentary about the persecution of Christians there, and that Quarmishli was on his itinerary. Helma felt a tinge of jealousy that an American with no ties to the Middle East would be visiting a place she loved so much, but before long Allott asked her if she would like to join him for the journey. He had been looking for someone who knew the cultures of both places to be a bridge for Western viewers.

Last night I saw the documentary of their trip, Our Last Stand, at the Sheen Center for Thought and Culture. They begin their journey in Iraq visiting Christian refugee centers, then they cross the Tigris River into Syria and visit the front lines where Christians are defending themselves against ISIS. When ISIS moves into an area, they identify Christians and other religious minorities and give them 24 hours to either move away, become Muslim, be executed or pay a very high fine.

During the Q and A session following the screening, the Sheen Center's David DiCerto asked Jordan and Helma what they think of the temporary closure of our borders to refugees from Iraq, Syria and other nations that cultivate terrorism. Jordan referenced an interview in the film with a little boy in Iraq. You can see part of it in the trailer below. The boy says that ISIS left them with nothing, and he said he and his people just want to live, and he hopes a country will take them in. Jordan said he would love for all those who have been displaced by what has recently been recognized by the U.N. as the ISIS genocide to have a home in the U.S. He went on to say that it saddens him that this situation is being used as a political statement against the current administration. He asked where the outrage was when President Obama used an executive order to halt the "Wet Foot/Dry Foot" policy with Cuba, leaving many who were in transit deported back to Cuba. He spoke about how Christians and other religious minorities do not feel comfortable staying in UN-sanctioned refugee villages because they know they'll face persecution from Muslims there. He asked where the outrage was when the UN refused to share resources with Christians who created their own refugee camps in churches.

David asked Jordan why he named the film Our Last Stand. Jordan and Helma both made it clear that this is a tragedy for all Christians, and that in a matter of years there truly may not be any churches or Christians left in that part of the world where followers of Jesus Christ were first called Christians.

I was interviewed after the event by NET TV for a program featuring the film and screening which will air tonight at 7:30pm Eastern. NET TV is also streamed online.





Registration is now open for the 2017 Rocky Mountain Christian Filmmakers Camp.

Monday, February 06, 2017

Colonel Papa Cubano

Joyce and I just finished our first short film! It's about a family we met in Cuba. It's the true story of an atheist who becomes head of the Salvation Army in Cuba and one of the stories that helped him get there.

It stars Marco Santiago (America's Next Top Model), Patricia Mauceri (Courageous Love, The Farmer and the Belle, One Life to Live) and I narrate it.

We'll let you know when it's released via RichDrama.com/Updates.

Thursday, February 02, 2017

The King's Messengers

I performed in two of the four parts to this mini-series set in the fictional nation of Zanora. Once again, Daniel Knudsen has brought truth to the screen in a delightful way. This is my sixth collaboration with Daniel, and it's always a joy!

It was selected for the 2017 Christian Worldview Film Festival, and is available online.



Registration is now open for the 2017 Rocky Mountain Christian Filmmakers Camp.

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Recommended Reading for Spiritual Formation

Here are some books that have helped me grow in my walk with the Lord over the years:

• The Bible. I read it cover to cover every year: www.RichDrama.com/BibleReading
• A Discipleship Journey by David Buehring
• Ordering Your Private World by Gordon MacDonald. For a season I read chapter three, "Caught in a Golden Cage" at the start of every year. It explains the differences between being called and being driven.
• Knowing God by J.I. Packer
• The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom. I've been blessed to know both women who played Corrie in the movies based on this book.
• The Cross and the Switchblade by David Wilkerson
• God's Smuggler by Brother Andrew
• The Intercessor by Reese Howells
• No Compromise: The Life Story of Keith Green by Melody Green
• Evangelism Explosion by Dr. James Kennedy

Registration is now open for the 2017 Rocky Mountain Christian Filmmakers Camp.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Fellowship with Jesus by Asking Questions

Joyce teaches on Matthew 17:24-27, and I breaks into the recording to talk about the algebra of God. Opening by Pastor Jim Warren. Dr. Linda Warren leads the pastoral prayer.

Click the arrow below, or if you're reading this in an email you can click this link, to play the service:



This service is available for download free on iTunes, where you can also subscribe to our podcast. Search for "Westchester Chapel" on the iTunes Store.

If you want to more about starting a relationship with Jesus Christ visit www.WestchesterChapel.org/Salvation.

Photo courtesy of NicolettiPhoto.com.


Registration is now open for the 2017 Rocky Mountain Christian Filmmakers Camp.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Another sketch!

Some of the Cubans we worked with to
create a sketch while we were there.
I just heard that the church in Cuba where we helped create a new drama is working on their next! Hurrah!!!


I play a lead in Providence, which you can bring to your area.

Saturday, January 07, 2017

Cuba Report Report

At our apartment complex for performing artists we get to use a room for performances, and I asked if I could perform Views of the Manger, the one-man play I performed in Cuba a couple of weeks ago, followed by rough cuts of some short films we shot while we were there. They said we couldn't do it during December, but there were plenty of dates in January. I figured no one would want to see a Christmas play in January, but then we realized it was a perfect fit for Epiphany, the celebration of the Wise Men visiting the Lord, especially since the narrator of the play is one of those Magi.

We couldn't have been more pleased with how things went on Epiphany Eve (the closest we could get to Epiphany itself). We had a good turn-out, a great response, wonderful follow-up conversations, and the huge bonus of having someone in the audience we'd crossed paths with in Cuba! He joined us for our Q and A at the end, and he gave more details about one of the stories I told in one of the short films, and he was able to share much more about Cuba, having visited many more times than us.

You can find out more about the trip at www.RichDrama.com/Cuba.


Photos: Nancy Kronemann Buchanan
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