Sunday, August 30, 2015

Two Roads

This morning during our outdoor worship experience I mentioned War Room, which was the number one film in the nation going into Sunday. I also mentioned my podcast with more stories from the tour, specifically about my work with Joni and Friends. I preceded the sermon with an illustration from my 2000 mile Northwest Tour.

Then Pastor Jim Warren preached a special message on choices. He addressed Psalm 1 and Philippians 4:8. He shares his testimony of moving from atheism and agnosticism to a saving belief in Jesus Christ. Pastor Linda Warren opens and prays.



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Friday, August 28, 2015

War Room


I was wowed by War Room! I wasn't the only one. Variety called it: Box Office: Zac Efron Getting Outplayed by Faith-Based ‘War Room,’...

I heard Stephen Kendrick speak at the final San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival, and he said that the Christian film industry is growing up. It may have started by crawling, but it's walking and will start to run and then fly. The Kendrick Brothers are picking up speed!

The acting was superb. I was deeply moved throughout. I checked out the credits of the three leads and expected them to have long and deep filmographies. That's not the case, and that's a credit to Elizabeth Becka, the acting coach, who does a fine job in her principal role in the film as well. I got to teach with her at the Christian Worldview Film Festival Guild, and she had nothing but great things to say about her experience on set.

Miss Clara was LOVED by the robust crowd on Times Square. Karen Abercrombie had been rejected for the role because she was younger than their idea for the role, so she aged herself for the audition!

Garry Nation (left) as Polycarp, and
(right) accepting his Best Actor award 
for the role at the 
International Christian Film Festival
Mary Smit was responsible for her film version of Miss Clara. She's done makeup on all the other Kendrick Brothers films (except Flywheel, and there's a funny story behind that) as well as Princess Cut and her masterful work on Garry Nation in the title role of Polycarp.

The writing was also quite sharp. Joyce and I just had a discussion about how some of the prayers were very neatly wrapped up. Pre-believers may find that hard to swallow, but those who have walked with the Lord for years and have seen bigger prayers answered than portrayed in the fiction find it true to life. Of course God is not a magic box. It's when our prayers align with his will and timing that we see these kinds of miracles come to pass, but that's exactly what the script lays out. Joyce pointed out it's a real challenge to make a film about prayer, and if they weren't answered that would be even harder!

Beyond the winsome story arc there are witty lines throughout, and the crowd on Times Square erupted with laughter during this scene...



War Room has already sold close to $10M at the box office, and the weekend hasn't really even started. It's Friday and Sunday's coming! Get a big group together and see it after church! Cast your vote for more films that unapologetically shout the answer to this world's problems: Jesus Christ! As Miss Clara says: Don't leave Jesus out. That's why this world's in the trouble it's in!



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Joni & Friends

Performing Big Fish Little Worm
at one of the Joni and Friends
Family Retreats.
Photo courtesy of Kristi Pelfer.
I had the privilege of performing for two Joni and Friends Family Retreats at Twin Rocks Friends Camp and Conference Center on August 11 and 18. They were unforgettable performances, but we knew something special was coming because of the way they were set up.

Almost seven years ago I met Brent Olstad and his family in a restaurant in Medford, Oregon, where I was having dinner with my parents. You can read the story as I posted it here, but what I didn't put there is that Brent thought I was staring at his family like I was a crazy man! That's how Brent introduced me before both of my performances! A sticker on their son Bryce's wheelchair was what caught my maniacal gaze. It was for Wheels for the World, another ministry of Joni and Friends, and I was probably thinking about all the connections I have to Joni Eareckson Tada: When I was ten years old Billy Graham's Worldwide Pictures distributed a movie that told her story: Joni. It impacted me deeply! The film shows how she became a quadriplegic in a diving accident as a teenager, and how she's gone on to be a mouth painter, international speaker, writer (3 million copies of her autobiography in print), and singer. In fact Joni sang the Oscar-nominated song for Alone Yet Not Alone in which I play a land speculator. Her husband pressed her diaphragm so she could hit the high notes!  She personally called our friend, Art Sanborn, who became a quadriplegic in a boogie boarding accident. His story and how he now jogs and does 150 pushups every day is told in his amazing autobiography, Walking Miracle.

Eventually I introduced myself to the Olstads and mentioned another connection to Joni: We have a friend who'd gone to Peru, Poland (and after that encounter Cuba) with Wheels for the World. They bring donated wheelchairs to developing nations and equip people to use them, and Brent had worked with our friend! I'm sure we had many eavesdroppers in that restaurant as we talked excitedly about how the Creator of limbs could work so mightily through those who couldn't use them.

Last October I performed at The Newmark Theatre in downtown Portland, Oregon. It was a fundraising event for Twin Rocks Friends Camp, where I served on summer staff when I was in college. Through the event they were able to raise $415,000 towards their $1.25 million Into the Spotlight campaign to improve current facilities and purchase new equipment and toys in anticipation of their 2018 centennial celebration.

The Olstads at The Newmark
The Olstads also spoke at the Newmark Theater that night, and talked about how the camp has worked to accommodate Joni and Friends.  It was there that the Olstads reconnected with me and invited me to perform at the retreats.

Those performances kicked off my Northwest Tour throughout Oregon and Idaho, during which I drove over 2000 miles. One of the things I did (safely) while driving was record my thoughts on the performances and how they were set up:



In the podcast I mention that our mom read Joni's story to us, but she doesn't remember that! She did read The Cross and the Switchblade and The Hiding Place, but we're pretty sure it was the film that got my attention as a lad.


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Northwest Tour 2015

I had a blast driving over 2000 miles throughout the Pacific Northwest. You can follow my adventures via #NWTour15 on Facebook and Instragram.

Here's the itinerary:

Twin Rocks, OR
August 11
part of Big Fish Little Worm
Twin Rocks Friends Camp
Joni and Friends
www.RichDrama.com/BigFishLittleWorm

Metolius, OR
August 13
The Revelation
Metolius Friends Church

Meridian, ID
August 16, 9:15 and 11am
The Revelation
Meridian Friends Church

Twin Rocks, OR
August 18
part of Big Fish Little Worm
Twin Rocks Friends Camp
Joni and Friends
www.RichDrama.com/BigFishLittleWorm

Ashland, OR
August 23
Big Fish Little Worm
First Baptist Church of Ashland
FBCAshland.com


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Oncoming Truck

This is one of five student films we created at The Rocky Mountain Christian Filmmakers Camp this summer: "Oncoming Truck."

The excuses we use in evangelism sure sound silly when used to warn people they’re about to be hit by a truck.



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Thursday, August 27, 2015

Review

Rich and Joyce Swingle
in Indescribable
It's been a prayer of mine for 20 years to sell DVDs of films in which I've performed at performances of my one-man plays. It's so exciting to see that prayer being answered as more and more of the films in which I've performed are becoming available.

For so long I've heard that there's nothing out there in film or television that is appropriate for families or glorifies God. Times have changed and there is now a host of programming that points people to the Lord, and the bar of excellence keeps being raised. I keep a steadily growing list at www.RichDrama.com/MovieRecommendations.

But secular media is not excited about this movement, and very often these films do not have massive advertising budgets. They are relying on word of mouth for distribution.

I hope you'll consider telling others how much you like the Christian films you see. If it's one of my films please visit www.IMDb.me/RichSwingle. Click on the film title, and on the page that opens you'll find 1 to 10 stars and a link to write a review. It offers a number of ways to login or create an account. If the film has Facebook and Twitter pages you'll find Like and Follow buttons in the right hand column. Please post your review to your own social media pages as well.

If you have more time, find the film on www.RottenTomatoes.com and rank and review there, too.

If you're short on time, just leave a review in a comment below and I'll post it when and where I'm able. Be sure to mention the title of the film. Of course it's always better when the review is posted by someone who wasn't in the film. :-)

I hope you'll take the time to rate and review!

Thanks so much!!!
Rich and Joyce Swingle

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Friday, August 21, 2015

Focus Today interview

I was interviewed this morning on Focus Today on The Dove. You can see the interview here:



You can see previous interviews on The Dove here.

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Sunday, August 09, 2015

Choose to Trust God

Pastor Joyce Swingle preached on Exodus 20:15 with Genesis 3:1-7. Pastor Jim Warren opened with John 14:5-7.

Rich Swingle reported on the Salvation Army's TAM Conservatory. Click here for Rich's more full report and to view the student's final performance and the artwork Rich mentioned. Rich mentioned Phillip Telfer and his documentary Captivated: Finding Freedom in a Media Captivated Culture and the Christian Worldview Film Festival. Rich performed an excerpt from Lindsay Bonilla's sketch, "Not-so-living Sacrifices and the Simple Art of Infiltration." (© Copyright 2010 by Lindsay Bonilla, performed and streamed by permission)

Pastor Joyce mentioned our trip to Sochi for the Winter Olympics. You can find out more about that at www.RichDrama.com/Sochi.

"I Surrender All": Words by Jud­son W. Van De­Vent­er, 1896, music by Win­field S. Weed­en, 1896.



Pastor Jim opened by talking about
Chris Tomlin's Worship Night in
America at Madison Square Garden.
Photo by
Associate Pastor Rachel Taylor.
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.

Photo courtesy of NicolettiPhoto.com.


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Saturday, August 08, 2015

Another fantastic TAMC

I've taught, performed and/or directed at the Salvation Army's TAM Conservatory for 11 of their 15 years. I've only missed it for the Olympics and performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. This year it was just as fulfilling and rewarding as ever!

I got to speak before and after
Princess Cut.
When I realized that Princess Cut would be opening in theaters during the Conservatory I asked if they'd consider setting up a screening at a the theater to which the students could walk. I was ecstatic when they pursued that, but the theater never returned their calls. Instead, with the blessing of producer Paul Munger, they opted to show it outdoors! Since they needed to wait until dark they scheduled 75 minutes of praise and testimonies beforehand. The testimonies went long, which is always a delight! If we'd shown it in a theater we would have needed to leave on time to get to the movie, but we would have missed some amazing prayer requests and stories, including Matt Frye's. He shared that he was the result of his mother being raped when she was 16. Not only did she set aside her hopes and dreams to honor the life within her, she gave him a name which means "Gift of God." Now he's a pastor. What a great fulfilment of that prophetic name he's turned out to be, and what a picture of beauty from ashes our students would have missed had my dream of showing Princess Cut in a theater come to pass. By the way, it's not too late to bring Princess Cut to a theater near you!

One of my favorite events during ‪the Conservatory was handing out free pizza and MetroCards with our Small Group. We had a number of profound encounters, but the best from my perspective was an answer to a very specific prayer. We prayed that we'd be able to introduce someone to the Lord. A woman accepted a MetroCard, and when asked if we could pray for her, she said she'd like the city to become easier. One of our students prayed for her, and our group leader, Chuck Goodin, noticed that she wiped her eye after the prayer. I mentioned to her that she must be new to the city. She said, "Oh, no. I've been here two years." I told her she was most certainly still new to the city. I told her I've lived here 21 years, and she asked when it started to get easier. I told her it was about five years in before it really started to feel like home. Then I asked her if she'd found a church home yet. She said she prioritized getting a job and getting settled into that. She said she was considering First Corinthian Baptist Church, and I asked if I could pray with her about that. She agreed, and I ended up praying the Gospel over her, that the blood Jesus shed for her would cover everything that had come between her and the Lord and that she would grow deeper in her relationship with Him. Pray she receives this and walks in it.

I got to direct a Branch Group with students from the Northern New England and Western Pennsylvania Divisions of the Salvation Army. We staged a piece we hope to perform in Rio during the Olympics. We're building our team, so pray about joining us: www.RichDrama.com/Rio.

Our title slide by Ryan Livingston
On Friday night we put all of our hard work together, and you can watch the entire finale below. There's a short video highlighting the week at 5:44, and the piece my students developed through sociodrama can be seen at 47 minutes.



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Get your tickets for 40% off!

I'll be teaching for the third time at the Christian Worldview Film Festival Guild next March, and I hope you'll join me!

Here's the montage they put together from this year's festival and guild:

From Media Talk 101 on Vimeo.

They're moving to a new venue, and they need to make the downpayment soon, which means a deep discount if you can reserve your tickets now. The founder, Phillip Telfer explains...


2016 Announcement! from Media Talk 101 on Vimeo.

The Guild and Festival have been an incredible opportunity to network with Christian filmmakers and catch the vision for what the Lord is doing in this powerful and impactful medium.

Hope to see you there!



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Monday, July 27, 2015

Junior High Friend Leads Northwest Quakers

My best friend from seventh grade through college was Ken Redford. During the awkward years of junior high I introduced him to Jesus and the Evangelical Quakers, my denomination at the time. Last week Ken was the main speaker and clerk for the Northwest Yearly Meeting of Evangelical Quakers.

The theme of the Yearly Meeting was "Holding God's Hand," based on Isaiah 30:18, 41:13: "The Lord longs to be gracious to you... For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, 'Do not fear; I will help you.'"

Here are his talks:
Relax, Would Ya? (Ken's introduction is at 48 minutes, and his mention of my witness is at 54 minutes). Notes

God is Generous...And It's Not So Fair! (Let my friend from college and Twin Rocks Friends Camp, Melissa Bullock, lead you in worship starting at 17:30. Ken's talk begins at 53:40). Notes 
Burned Lips and Bended Knees (The opening has no sound, but that comes in at 12:50, and Ken's talk begins at 1:03:00). Notes

His closing sermon is the best I've heard on the Holiness and wrath of God.

I've never been more proud of a friend, a Friend or my younger self! It really spoke to me of the importance of our decisions at every stage of life. Ken's been pastoring a church in Meridian Idaho since graduating from Fuller Theological Seminary (since I chose Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary--because I didn't think I could stand living in a city--we've been watching each other's ministries from afar), so this wasn't a new revelation to me, but the fact that the Yearly Meeting (the Quaker regional division and authority) chose him for such key posts really made me wonder how the world might be different if I'd been too timid to share my faith as a junior high schooler.

We'll be partnering in ministry on August 16, when I perform The Revelation in his church. I'm really looking forward to that!


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Sunday, July 26, 2015

Choose to Be Faithful

Joyce Swingle
My bride boldly taught against adultery in our series on the Ten Commandments: God's Own Choices for his Beloved, from Exodus 20:14, using the illustration of Joseph, who fled from the advances of Potiphar's wife, from Genesis 37 and 39. Opening prayer by Sandy R. I shared a spiritual insight into overcoming addiction.



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've been blessed by the ministry of Westchester Chapel we'd be blessed by any contribution, which could help us continue our work for the Lord.

Other Options


Photo courtesy of Peter Berberian.

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Sunday, July 19, 2015

Choose the Path of Grace

This morning Joyce taught on Exodus 20:13, Matthew 5:21-22a, Matthew 26:57-68, the second sermon on "Do not murder." Pastor Randy Solomon did part one: "Don't Destroy God's Masterpiece." This week, Pastor Randy shared the announcements and prayed over the sermon. I opened with a quote from an interview with one of my seminary professors, Dr. Richard Lovelace: "Christians may currently be partially disarmed or unarmed for Christian warfare, but if they tensed up the society would feel the brunt of this.” Here's a link to the Rich's post about the interview and there you'll find a link to the whole interview: An Interview with Author Richard F. Lovelace on Revival.



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've been blessed by the ministry of Westchester Chapel we'd be blessed by any contribution, which could help us continue our work  for the Lord.

Other Options

Photo courtesy of NicolettiPhoto.com.

Last week Rich spoke about the 60,000 gathered for the Louis Palau event praying over NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, led by Gabriel Salguiero, a pastor on our District.



Today's #TBT. We're still rejoicing over the many victories we've seen in Central Park. One of those victories was the...

Posted by NY CityServe & CityFest on Thursday, July 16, 2015


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Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Performed in Northern Ireland

I got to celebrate Independence Day in Northern Ireland with high school friends, David N Tricia Howell. It was significantly cheaper for me to fly into Dublin than London for The Dragon and the Raven, so I planned an extra night in Ireland, hoping to connect with the Howells, who minister an hour south of Dublin. They told me they'd be at Summer Madness, 2.5 hours north of Dublin. I asked if they might like to use one of my dramas. They weren't a part of leadership but encouraged me to contact them. I sent an email to info@WhateverTheWebsiteSaid.UK.Co, and I was shocked when the founding director of the 28-year-old festival sent a note the very next day asking me to pitch ideas. I went ahead and booked a rental car in case it worked out. I praise the Lord that it didn't since I arrived after that program began! I was waiting to let the Howells know I'd be there until I knew for sure whether or not I'd be performing. They didn't get internet access, and Facebook was the only point of contact I had for them. So after hearing a phenomenal teaching and worshipping the Lord with 2,000 young people I started looking for my friends in the dark tent. Just when I gave up and was walking to the stage to ask about using their mic there was Dave! What a happy reunion! I was actually quite astonished at how many there celebrated with us independence from their rule! Great fun! They have friends who use American terms like trash instead of rubbish on the Fourth. smile emoticon
I also got to perform Sean Gaffney's "Lazarus" for the 30+ youth the Howells had helped bring up from Ireland. That was significant since this month marks 20 years in which I've made my income exclusively from the performing arts and applied theatre, and that was kicked off when Sean asked if I'd drive with him from NYC to Seattle for him to start work as managing director of Traproot Theatre. Sean and his wife, Catherine Pleis Gaffney were in London while I was, so it was a bummer our schedules couldn't coincide, but it was delightful when one of my colleagues in The Dragon and the Raven asked if my last name was Swingle. He was on his way to tea with Sean and Cath!

Hear my report on these stories and more here


Three of our five short films from the Rocky Mountain Christian Filmmakers Camp are now online. Sign up to receive notification when we're ready to take registrations for 2016. Now taking sign-ups for Rio Ready.