Barbaric Faith definition

"Barbaric Faith is too give your heart to the One who can make you fully go where He sends you, no matter the cost." --Irwin McManus

Chicago is still in a festive mood

We landed in plenty of time for our connection. Thanks for your prayers!

Clear skies over CO

Thanks to all of you who have been praying for our travels. The storms cleared out, and we're off on time. All looks good for making our flight to Asia tomorrow.

Compassion and Pure Gold

It's been great to be so close to Compassion headquarters. Ken McKinney, my liason who's far left in the photo, helped me help our youth sponsor 21 kids! That's a record for me. Follow our youth's lead and sponsor a child now at

Last night I was honored to have David and Luann McCasland in attendance as I performed my play on Eric Liddell. David wrote Pure Gold, considered by some to be the definitive biography on Liddell.

The most exciting thing about last night was after the play when I challenged the students to stand if they were willing to go anywhere God sent them. As far as I could tell, all 300 youth were on their feet.

Matt's at it again

This morning Matt's digging deeper into appologetics.

He pointed out that those who don't believe in the Lord have exchanged the truth of God for a lie. Their world view is not based on Truth, so there are many contradictions to what they believe. They reject scripture but accept scientific studies without replicating the tests themselves. They take it on faith that their perception of reality and their memories are reliable.

They choose a world view that shuts out God so they don't have to deal with his wrath, but all other possibilities are logically impossible. Other world views are much more complicated and seem more sophistocated, but they're filled with flawed logic.

Atheists say that religion contradicts science. Some religious world views contradict science, but not Christianity. What they really mean is that some scientists disagree with Christianity, but most atheists haven't even read what those scientists have to say.

While an atheist has himself as the basis of their world view, an agnostic, on the other hand, doesn't know where to place his foundation: A (no) gnosis (knowledge). They say all religions are equal: They all teach the same things; all truth claims are equal. It's arrogant and irrational because they're claiming by that statement to know all truth. Agnostics say, "Truth is unknowable." That's a truth. They say, "There are no absolutes." That's an absolute.

General theists believe there's a God, but they don't believe in the Bible. They say they worship God in their own way. But if they worship God without the Bible, they're worshipping a god who hasn't spoken. An authority who does not speak has no authority. How can you worship a god if you don't know what it's like?

CS Lewis said all religions are right where they agree with Christianity.

If you don't agree with Matt and me, but you're interested in further exploration, I invite you to click on "My Passion" in the right column.

A Roger Nelson fan

Frank Penna, who ran the prayer labyrinth, recognized me from Roger Nelson's newsletter in which he wrote obout our Off-Broadway run last April. He's been a Roger Nelson fan since he saw him in 1978. He was thrilled to see him again in 2001.

At the center

They've set up a prayer labyrinth for our youth. We move from station to station, laying down distractions and focusing on Christ. I'm at the center of the labyrinth now.

"The Prayer Path" can be ordered at or by calling 1.800.447.1070.

Throwing our grain on the altar

God will mess with your junk

Kent Walkemeyer, from Azuza Pacific told our youth we're in the most dangerous place on earth: because God is invited to be here: that can throw things off.

Kent set up an altar to help illustrate how Jesus became the final, completing sacrifice to atone for our sins. He pointed out that the grain offering wasn't to cover sins. It was a voluntary act of worship. He brought us to Romans 12:1. The post-Christ grain sacrifice is to present our bodies as living sacrifices.

Eugene Peterson: "The operating Biblical metaphor for worship is sacrifice. We bring ourselves to the altar and let God do to us what He will."

Dallas Willard said you're truly dead to self (not crawling off the altar) if, when you don't get your own way, you aren't surprised, and you're not disappointed."

Colorado Springs?

...or winter in Hobbiton?

It wasn't quite as thick... Denver received last week.

There is prayer in schools

Our youth just watched a video on a movement of early morning prayer in schools. The images of young people posted at classroom doors interceding was powerful. Most encouraging was testimony of how they were praying specifically for friends and saw them receive new life in Christ. The video was produced by Campus Ministry Network: 316.733.4444.

Former SuperTones lead

Matt Morginsky, former lead singer for the SuperTones, just introduced himself as being no longer a Christian. He had a couple of students come forward to defend their faith before revealing that he really is an orthodox believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. He went on to speak powerfully on defending our faith in a secular world. He told of a friend who grew up as a Christian in a youth group. Once he got to college his profs destroyed his faith.

He pointed out how secularists have faith as well. He has two questions for people who claim they have no faith: How do you know there's a world outside your head? How do you know your memory is reliable? Encourage them to answer these questions without faith as the basis of their answer.

He's now singing us "The World View Song." "Every world view is based on a commitment of faith." When agnostics ask for proof they want a demonstration. The thing is that demonstrations only give answers to small questions.

There is a way to prove Christianity is true: Without it we sink.

Without a Christian faith commitment the following questions are hard to answer:

How are there absolutes in physics?

In logic?

Why are there moral absolutes?

Universals can't be based on the limited. Prov 1:7 says the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Starting with humanism fails. Beginning with God you can prove everything.

Christianity has no problem aswering the big questions because it begins with God and not man.

A Barbaric Faith

Joyce and I are at the base of Pike's Peak to share two plays with 300 Quaker youth from CO, OK, KS and TX. The theme, "A Barbaric Faith," is based on a book by Irwin McManus. In the book he says, "Barbaric Faith is too give your heart to the One who can make you fully go where He sends you, no matter the cost." The two plays we picked are Beyond the Chariots, about Eric Liddell, and A Clear Leading, about John Woolman, a Quaker who spoke against slavery 100 years before the Civil War in America.

If barbaric faith means fully alive and totally sold out, Liddell and Woolman fit the bill as well as any I've ever come across.

The opening speaker is Chuck Mylander, the president of Evangelical Friends Missions. His son, Kirk, was across the wall from me my frosh year at George Fox University. Chuck set me up by quoting from Isaiah: "Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow. Though they be red as crimson, they shall be as wool," the passage Beyond the Chariots uses at key points in the plot.

Chuck told of a 22 year-old man who was supporting his new bride and his elderly father. He became a Christian. Muslims in his town (in an unnamed Islamic nation) carried him to their school and told him to renounce Isa (Jesus) or they would cut off one of his fingers. He wouldn't, so one at a time, with the choice to renounce given each time, they cut off each of his fingers and both of his hands. They tied him to a tree and left him there overnight. By morning he had bled to death. The father and widow struggled to support themselves until two men approached them and said they had killed the man. They had become believers in Isa and pledged to care for them in his Name.

We made it

The snow is coming down, but we're safely settled. Thanks for your prayers.

We stopped en route at Compassion's headquarters ( The more I get to know the people that run Compassion, the more impressed I am with the whole organization.

The statues in the picture were donated by a sponsor, and they tell the real story of Compassion: helping introduce children to Jesus.

Start the year off right and sponsor a child now:

Here comes another one

There's still a bit of snow, and another blizzard is about to hit. We're driving from Denver to Colorado Springs, hoping to settle in before it hits. The last time, airports here were shut down for days. Pray with us that we'll make our flight on New Year's Day to Asia (

Liddell & suffering

I came across a great article (1 page) comparing Eric Liddell and Charles Templeton: Eric Liddell: Charles Templeton. They both faced great trials but Templeton turned away from the Lord. Liddell, as Beyond the Chariots shows, welcomed the Salvation Army band playing "Be Still My Soul" right up to the end.

Grounded again

We'll be in NYC a few more days: Not a bad place to be this time of year.

We got in a car to the airport, hoping to beat the snow storm into Denver.

We're on our way back to the city in a cab, with tickets for Christmas Eve, the earliest we could score confirmed seats. That will make us 86 hour and 55 minutes late...if all goes well.

The good news is we're on a flight that goes all the way to Denver, so we can't miss a connection, and they bumped us into First Class. That's a nice Christmas gift, American Airlines! I'm once again grateful that I didn't have a performance scheduled immediately upon arrival. We'll still have Christmas and a few days with Joyce's family before driving to Colorado Springs for performances there (

The Wonder of It All

I'm visiting a church in Winona Lake (

I was surprised that the scripture reading this morning was from the Lord's adult life. Then it dawned on me that his adult life only makes sense in light of his birth. The very Foundation of Christianity is so far beyond the natural that we should be filled with Hope that we can accomplish so much more than what nature dictates.

The preacher said, "Building a life from Heaven's Point of View opens your eyes to great possibilities."

Ask the Lord what He wants to accomplish through you that's beyond what you think possible.

The Family Farm

I exchanged this view for a brick wall.

Some day when I have time I'll post the journal I kept when I moved to New York: "Farm Boy on Times Square."

Creator of enacted prayer honored

Jeff Barker, who created enacted prayer, was named Iowa Professor of the Year for 2006 by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching: Iowa Professor of the Year.

Happy 90th!

Well, all the extra travel time was worth it to make it for Grandpa's 90th birthday.

He's been a great source of inspiration to me. He was a history prof, and all of my plays but one are historical fictions. He's still an athlete. He jogged until he was 71 and continues to walk an hour or more every day. He was a tennis champion when he was growing up, and I never did beat him at a game! He authored two books, and dedicated one of them to me: Ricky. He was a world traveler, and a missionary. And he loves the Lord.

His next goal is to reach 100, and I'm sure he'll do it in good health.

Happy birthday, Grandpa!

Swingles relax after The Nativity Story

I went straight from the airport to the theatre.

I recommend The Nativity Story without reservation.

There isn't a weak link. The writing, direction, acting, cinemetography, historical accuracy are all lovingly executed with superlative skill.

It's beautifully shot. Every scene has a painting: a moment you could freeze and frame.

Without being heavy handed, screenwriter Mike Rich has laid in a number of little allusions to the life and mission of Jesus as an adult.

See it today if you can, and cast your vote for more films like this.

Let's try that again

Up at 5 to try once more to make it to Medford, OR, to celebrate my grandfather's 90th birthday and perform Views of the Manger for the church in which I grew up.

The lock's frozen, and no one mistook my car for their's the way that kind woman defrosted my lock in Tulsa.

Joyce's dad brought out an extention cord and a hair dryer. We're off.

Joyce's dad clued me in to a way to bypass the main security gates. Concourse A has it's own security. You just have to walk a bit further.

At Gate 51 I'm told it's been switched to Gate 26.

Gate 26 tells us we're on target for an on-time departure. I have a 50 minute layover in Portland, so things look good. And I've got in my excercise for the day.

I just overheard them say we're going to need to be de-iced. That takes 30 minutes. So make that a 20 minute layover with an airline and, probably, a concourse change.

Boarding time: no announcement.

Announcement: our crew just landed a different plane at the other end of the terminal. Now they're getting their excercise. They're still estimating an on-time landing in Portland. I like their math...for now.

Oh, that crew announcement was for a flight to Seattle. Our plane is unloading..

We're boarding.

It's snowing, but they're still talking about...oh, here we go. We'll have to de-ice.

Nope. Someone else is using our de-icer.

Flight time: 2:18. Flight to Medford leaves in: 3:17 min.

They're de-icing in short sleeves. In Tulsa they didn't have a cabin, so they were getting doused with back-spray. Flight to Medford leaves in: 2:49 min.

I just found out that we're landing in Concourse C and I'll need to get to Concouse 31 minutes and counting. At least we don't seem to need to slip into a half-hour window to get our time on the runway like we did in Tulsa.

Pulling away from the de-icing station. Flight to Medford leaves in: 2:39 min.

Wheels up. Flight to Medford leaves in: 2:27 min. That leaves almost a half an hour to change concourses. No problem, but I'm still going to grab that seat closest to the door like I did, to no avail, last night.

We're coming into the Portland area. The captain said he's going to try to pick up some speed.

Touchdown. We're at the gate. Four min

Four minutes wasn't enough. They closed the flight ten minutes ago. Thankfully there's another flight out at 1:25.

Our flight's postponed because our plane is grounded in Seattle.

They've been released.

We're off the ground! Hurrah!

Touch down: 50 hours, 11 minutes late.

The first leg

It's time to board, but there's no sign of our plane.

The same gal that announced that both of my last flights were cancelled, Kathy, took the microphone, and we all held our breath. The plane is on the ground, but there's a plane that's de-icing, and our plane can't get around it because of a snow bank.

Ah, the passengers are piling off.

On board!

This flight to Denver will last an hour and 37 minutes. My connection leaves in two hours. It's possible, but they're going to close the runway to plow the snow and ice in twenty minutes. The flight attendant told us not to mistake our oxygen masks for party hats. I doubt I would do that if I needed it, but the joke might have been funny if we were in motion.

Ah: Motion.

Our 20 minutes are up, but we're still moving.

Airborne!!! The captain announced that the snowplows were running behind, so they let us sneak onto the runway. My plane to Portland takes off hour and 37 minutes.

We chased the sunset most of the way to Denver.

They just announced that my connection will leave on time. I'll need to teleport to make it.

Another announcement: the connecting airplane is correcting mechanical difficulties. The captain said to make a dash for it.

We're passing our gate. They're still loading baggage into our plane to Portland!

Well, I would have made Eric Liddell proud, but they closed the door.

Sprinting with a backpack at a mile high is making me cough like crazy while the attendant is rerouting me.


Lodging secured! I get a bonus visit with Joyce's folks.

One more night in Tulsa

I got to see myself on the evening news as I was changing my ticket after the first cancelled flight. They had called us off of that plane after we sat on the tarmac for three hours! Thankfully, when they cancelled the second flight we hadn't boarded yet.

I awoke to a bit more snow, but no clouds to be seen. I'm trusting I'll make it to Oregon tonight to celebrate my grandfather's 90th birthday!

Camping in Tulsa

Nativity at the Vatican

Inter-Mission, a networking group for theatre and film artists in Hollywood just reported the following:

"THE NATIVITY STORY became the first feature film ever to premiere at the Vatican. Held at the Vatican's Aulo Paolo VI, the premiere was attended by 7000 invited guests of the Vatican."

See it tomorrow on opening night if you can.

Where's that scraper?

This was our first de-icing. We're waiting for our second...and waiting...

Glad I don't have a performance tonight!

My first blizzard of the season in...

...Tulsa, OK! It snowed over frozen ice, so I went to bed praying for a way to get it off. I awoke to find that a woman had defrosted my lock thinking it was her car. She was thinking that lock was REALLY frozen! In further answer to my prayer she had a really cool ice scraper I used on both our rigs.

Women of Prayer

I'm honored to be a part of my 14th women's event. I get to play the High Priest this Saturday.

To make reservations call 914.287.7620 or send an email.

The Nativity Story

New Line Cinema is releasing The Nativity Story on December 1.

Click here for the trailer. The main website is

They've run the script past numerous historians and theologians for accuracy, and it's filmed in Matera, where The Passion of the Christ was filmed and Morocco, where Gladiator was filmed.

See it on opening night or weekend if you can.

Pro Footballer gets men ready

I had the priviledge of performing Beyond the Chariots to open for Lee Rouson, a retired running back for the Cleveland Browns. Before that he played for the NY Giants in two SuperBowls.

Wayne Keller, on the left, directed the camp. He and Lee both shared in very transparent ways how God has worked in their lives. The alters were filled last night.

Here are a few nuggets from his talks:

*Every year pro football players go to training camp and go over the basics. We need to go back to the basics of Christianity on a regular basis.

*He gave a profound parable: He said, what if we went down to the closest car dealership and paid cash for a car, but the dealer said the car wasn't ready. Every time we came back the car wasn't ready. Lee said we'd eventually complain, "We paid in full, why are you holding onto the car." He pointed out, "Jesus paid for your sin, why are you still holding onto it."

*FEAR: false evidence appears real

*What we deposit into our hearts pays dividends, for good or bad. No one can make a deposit but you.

*He gave another parable: Someone told him that when he dies he'll walk into a room filled with presents with his name on them that were never opened. God has presents for us every day, but we'll miss them if we're too caught up in the past and worried about the future.

*Joy is not the absence of pain but the presence of God.

*Adam joined the rebellion that started in Heaven.

*Matthew 11:1-6: Lee pointed out that John the Baptist sent his disciples to check out Jesus, but John already knew Jesus was who He claimed to be. In prison he was depositing doubt in his heart.

*We have the opportunity to speak with our lives that God is good.

Pray for Lee as he plants a church in Harlem.

Guys from Men's Retreat who are visiting this site: I hope you'll post your notes and links to any photos you post. Click on the word "Comments" below.

Questions about Compassion

A student of mine recently interviewed me for a speech she's giving on Compassion at her college. I thought I'd post the interview:

How did you hear about Compassion International and when did you begin working with them?
I was teaching and performing for the Gospel Music Association's Seminar in the Rockies in Estes Park, CO, during the summer of '99. While we were there Bebo Norman and some of the other performers talked about Compassion, and my wife, Joyce, and I immediately knew we wanted to sponsor a child. While filling out the form for Riquelmys, a six-year old boy in the Dominican Republic, I mentioned to the Compassion representative that I toured with one-man plays and would love to help people sponsor kids after my plays. They called me later to set it up.

How many Compassion children do you currently sponsor, and how many have you sponsored in the past?
After Riquelmys we sponsored Roxanita, a seven-year old girl, in Bolivia. She moved to a village that didn't have a Compassion site, so when I was in Honduras on a Compassion artists and speakers retreat I sponsored Wendy, 13, and got to meet her the next day. Compassion people brought me by her home, but our schedule was a bit off, so we missed her parents. The home was quite small, but from the outside it looked tidy. We visited several homes, and they were almost all neat but sparse. Invariably the sponsored children would pull out a beautiful book filled with every single letter they'd ever received from their sponsor. There's a video of the trip at, which includes a girl joyfully sharing one of her letters and my visit with Wendy.

Can you describe the family lives of these children?
The last we knew, Riquelmys' father is a farmer, like mine! His mother maintains the home and he has five brothers and sisters. Roxanita's mother also maintains the home, and her father is "sometimes employed."

What is one thing that has touched you the most about corresponding with your children?
I'm constantly touched by the love for us and God that our kids express in their letters. One memorable note included a prayer request from Roxanita for her parents. She said, "They quarell a lot, and I'm sad for this." Joyce and I prayed heartily and later received a letter saying they were doing better. It was shortly after that we found out that her family moved outside of Compassion's reach. We continue to pray for her every night.

Was there anything that you found difficult or frustrating about working through and with Compassion International?
Nothing at all. I've been impressed by their work on every level.

How have you and your family grown because of this experience?
Sponsorship is something that gives a clear picture of specific lives in developing nations. It helps us pray for the world with much greater specificity.

If you had the resources, would you sponsor another child right now?
Joyce is now in grad school, otherwise I'm sure we'd sponsor our fourth child when we go on our next Compassion artists and speakers retreat in Guatemala. If anyone has a sponsor child in Guatemala we can take three dimensional gifts, film the child receiving them along with a greeting to the sponsors. If anyone's interested in this unique opportunity and doesn't have a sponsor child in Guatemala, go to, click on a Compassion link and select a child from Guatemala. Once you have a child sponsor number send an email to Rich at RichDrama dot com (spelling it out keeps it off spam lists) and we'll sign up to visit that child. Because we divide into groups and each group sees a limited amount of sites we'll request visits in the order we receive requests.

How do you see God working in the lives of your sponsored children?
That's the neatest thing about the whole process! Roxanita shared that she wanted to be a part of a program that helped others grow in their relationship with the Lord, called pequeña manada (small flock). She said, "I decided to serve the Lord, interceding for others. It is a small group of children that pray on Saturdays at 10am."  All of our sponsor children have expressed their growing love for the Lord and those around them. At one of the sites in Honduras I asked the pastor how many of the students accept Christ as Savior. He looked at me like I was crazy and said, "Todos."  (All of them.)  At another site, after performing a short piece entitled "La Gente Que Jesús Conocia" (The People Jesus Knew) I asked if any of them wanted to know Jesus more. You can see their response on the video: Todos.

How have you seen him/her grow as a person through your correspondence?
As we write to them about our love for the Lord we see that love grow in them as well, especially as they offer up precious prayers for us.

Can you share an excerpt or two from a received letter that touched your heart?
Wendy writes, "I want to tell you that I always pray for you both so that you will be well where ever you are." Travelling as much as I do I really appreciate that one! Riquelmys often says, "I close with a kiss and a strong hug for you and your family."

What would you say to a college student who is looking to serve through Compassion?
I remember what my finances were like in college. I would have loved to have had someone sponsor me back then! But I've seen many children sponsored after college performances. Sometimes students make enough from part-time jobs or they partner with parents or room mates. A couple of times I've even seen whole dorm floors go together. Students can also volunteer for Compassion. I saw a Michael W. Smith concert at Radio City Music Hall for free that way. Look for more information through the links at

Is there anything else that you can say or share that would help someone better understand the cause of Compassion International or possibly even consider joining with Compassion and sponsoring a child of their own?
I kept a journal on the trip to Honduras. It has a lot of insights into the way they care for children so tenderly. Check it out at, you guessed it,

A new vision of Heaven

Last Saturday night our church ( dedicated our new sanctuary to the Lord. Among other things, we brought in the Ark of the Covenant. There's a video online at our church's District website. Our pastor, Jim Warren, used to be creative director at MTV before he was called to minister. He and some of the guys in our church recreated the Ark from biblical descriptions.

I had the priviledge of portraying King David dancing before it as Levites carried it in. When I saw it enter the sanctuary I lost it. I wept tears of pure joy.

I wasn't the only one crying. One woman was sobbing so much that Pastor Jim went to comfort her. She said she was so overcome because she used to come here to get drunk when it was a pool hall. Now she's celebrating her Salvation.

Before our celebration our Spanish church was organized (recognized by our District). They were invited to stay for our celebration so we sang our songs in English, Spanish and (for good measure) Hebrew.

I used to think that in heaven we'd all speak the same language. After our dedication service, I have a new theory: Maybe we'll all be able to communicate in every language.

Courage of Heroes

British Chancellor Gordon Brown has written a book titled, Courage of Heroes, and one of the heroes he describes is Eric Liddell.

ThisIsLondon.UK.CO says, "Mr Brown is the clear favourite to take over the leadership and is currently embarking on a campaign to promote himself as a Prime Minister-in waiting." The book is expected in stores May of 2007:

How did you become interested in Eric Liddell's story?

Leilani Wells of the Christian Performing Artists Fellowship, hosts of the MasterWorks Festival, is writing an article about my work.  She asked a followup question which I thought I would post: "How did you become interested in Eric Liddell's story?"

Eric Liddell's story was actually the first one that I wanted to do as a one-man play.  I was a runner as a young man and was profoundly inspired by Chariots of Fire on several levels: The running is obvious, though I was a distance man (1500m, 3k, 5k for cross-country, and in college the steeplechase).  I was also inspired as a believer.  I read one of the biographies on Liddell when I was in high school, and rereading them it was amazing to discover some of the principles upon which I've based my life washing over me afresh.  My grandparents were missionaries to Kenya, so I grew up wanting to be a missionary.  Finally, I ran a race in China when I was in high school.  Okay, here's another: Liddell's leap aboard the ferry after it left the dock was one of the images that kept driving me back to the idea of doing a play about him.  Now that scene has been edited out, except for a reference to it, but it sure will be grand on the big screen some day.
So why didn't I start with Liddell?  I went for the sure thing: the story of John Woolman.  He's not exactly a household name, but he is to Quakers and that's where all my contacts were when I first got started, and I'm still performing A Clear Leading from time to time.  Several other projects were assigned to me or pressed their way to the front of the line (ie Five Bells for 9/11 and a Christmas play, Views of the Manger). 

So in 2000, Joyce and I were on our 4th Honeymoon in Edinburgh.  They aren't always as exotic as Edinburgh, but that year we were able to tack it onto a business trip that she took and a 16 city tour of England that I had just finished.  There we visited the Eric Liddell Centre, but it was closed.  It is on what is known as Holy Corner.  There is a church on every corner, and the Eric Liddell Centre is built in one of them.  We decided to attend one of the existing three churches the next morning and "just happened" to attend the one where Eric Liddell taught Sunday school while he was attending the University of Edinburgh.  There we met his niece, Dr. Peggy Judge.  She spent much of the next day with us at the centre named after her uncle.  We sorted through out of print books, pictures, memorabilia, etc.  

Unfortunately I returned to a busy schedule and other pressing projects and didn't start work on the play (except for copious notes) until four years later.  The next stage of the story is told on my blog, posted April 16, 2006.  

The whole time line is posted May 9, 2006.


I just finished a run of three performances as the first show in the first subscription service for Morningstar Productions in Milwaukee. Alan Atwood, who tours with his own 1-man shows, is the artistic director of the company.

One of the highlights for me was receiving copies of a couple of letters a women in the congregation received from Eric Liddell's sister, Jenny.


Joyce received enough response on the survey below. Thanks to those who helped.

Do you have an iPod?

Joyce resigned from Business Week Magazine and is working full-time on a masters in counseling. Appreciate your prayers as my one-man plays are now our sole source of income.

She's taking a class on statistics right now and she has been given an assignment of surveying iPod users. If you have one and a few seconds please fill out the form below and hit "Submit."

Do you have an iPod?

Thanks for helping!
Rich and Joyce

Another Christian freebee

Every Tuesday iTunes puts up at least one free song. This week if you scroll to the bottom of their main page under Free Downloads there's a song called "Our God Reigns" by Brandon Heath. Encourage iTunes to give away more of them by clicking below...

iTunes Logo 88x31-2

NY Times covers move of the cross

One of the characters in my play Five Bells for 9/11 was recently featured in an article on the front page of the Metro Section in the New York Times: Brief Journey for an Icon of the Attack on New York.

Father Brian Jordan is one of three characters the play follows. The priest makes his way on foot down to Ground Zero. While he's there, the play tells that Frank Silecchia shows him "God's House." Frank leads him through the rubble to what has become known as the Healing Cross of Ground Zero. Father Jordan had a friend in the mayor's office who kept the cross from being analyzed with all the other scrap.

According to the article Father Jordan and Silecchia were responsible for saving the cross again: "... if not for some arm-twisting and noisemaking on the part of the Rev. Brian Jordan, an enterprising Franciscan friar, and Frank Silecchia, the Local 731 laborer who first unearthed the cross, it would be on its way, like many of the other artifacts from the site, to cold storage in Hangar 17 at Kennedy International Airport, courtesy of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey."

One Night with the King opens this Friday

[This film was #9 at the Box Office for it's opening weekend.]

Joyce and I got to see a 25-minute preview of One Night with the King on Times Square last month.

Tommy Tenney, pictured here, wrote the book Hadassah: One Night with the Kingupon which the screenplay is based. Ultimately it's based on the book of Esther.

Peter O'Tool and Omar Sharif give great cameos, and John Noble (Denethor in Return of the King) plays one of the conspirators stopped by Mordechi, played masterfully by John Rhys-Davies (Gimli and Treebeard in The Lord of the Rings). But the real treat is newcomer Tiffany DuPont who brings buoyancy to the role of Esther that is just delightful. Filmed in northern India, Matt Crouch, one of the producers, said they had free reign of a palace, so nothing is a set piece, and the cinematography is breathtaking. For these reasons, and because the level of quality used to tell this story was so high, I was weeping or on the verge of it much of the time.

It opens in theatres around the nation on October 13. Mark your calendars now, and send the strongest vote for this kind of film in the future by purchasing tickets in advance for opening weekend.

The film is rated PG, for violence, some sensuality and thematic elements.

If you're in Westchester County and would like to join our church this Friday night click here.

OR loves NY

My mom's cousins (left to right) Bev, Bonnie, and Ruth are visiting NYC on the fifth anniversary of the Oregon loves New York trip, just a month after 9/11/01. Ruth was on that trip and fell in love with the city, even during its season of mourning. So she brought her sisters along on this trip. 

Bev stayed with my grandparents while she was in college, so she had stories about them I'd never heard. What a delight.

After 9/11 there was a fear and depression over us all. I remember one day a bus let the air out of its Jake brake. It makes a loud sound, I’m sure most of us have heard at some point, but days after 9/11 it startled a woman so much that she leapt into the air with a scream of panic. We were all on edge. 

I kept an office at the Helen Hayes Theatre at the time. It was an old dressing room that gave me just enough room for my props and costumes and a desk. On Thursday, 9/13/01, the theatre was evacuated because it was in the shadow of the Viacom Building, which had received a bomb threat. I left a message for my wife, Joyce, who was working for Business Week at the time. I remember that I hadn’t had a cell phone for very long, so I was very excited that she could actually call me back on my walk home, in case she was sent home and wanted to join me. As I walked up to the McGraw-Hill Building, where she worked on the 57th floor, I saw people looking up! Someone across the street had seen smoke coming out of the building. I finally got ahold of Joyce and found out that there had been a kitchen fire in the restaurant at ground level, but their exhaust pipe exited the building several floors up. Joyce had kept her cool and prevented those who reported to her from panicking and exiting the building needlessly. 

Just before 9/11 I had my office at The Lamb’s Theatre, which was designed by Stamford White and had been the home to The Lamb’s Club, the oldest actors club in the world. The Church of the Nazarene owned the building, and they entered into a 99-year lease with a hotelier. That prompted me to move offices earlier in 2001, and then 9/11 put a halt to renovating the theatre into a boutique hotel. They stopped, thinking, "Who would want to visit a high-priced hotel in the middle of a city that was just attacked?" 


Their visit brought more hope than they can possibly know! I’m sure they saved buildings that were on the brink of bankruptcy! And they infused joy into the bleak landscape of our beloved city.

How do you get to Carnegie Hall?

My friend, Alan Harrell, got there by playing cello for the Cleveland Symphony, and of course he puts in a lot of practice. :-)

He's performed last night for Carnegie Hall's first televised performance of the season. It will be aired on the 11th.

Alan is on the MasterWorks faculty, and it's his heart to reach people's souls. Join me in lifting him up in that endeavor.

Our new home

Our first worship service in our new space was awesome!

We're in!!!

Our church has been in the process of moving into a space many times larger than what we used to have. We just passed our final inspection after the remodelling we did to make a billiards hall work as a church, so we'll begin meeting this Sunday at 11am at 214 Central Ave, White Plains, NY. If you're in the area come check it out. On November 4 at 7pm we'll have a service to dedicate the space. If you're from the Chapel STOP READING NOW! This is supposed to be a surprise. If you're not a regular attender, I want you to know that at our Nov 4 dedication I get to portray King David dancing before the Ark of the Covenant (you'll find a picture of our replica if you search the archives) as it is carried by Levites into our new sanctuary. Hope you can join us.

Angels flew onto MWF student's résumé

We had a mini-MaterWorks Festival reunion in NYC. Left to right are Leilani Wells, myself, Boyd Owen, Sarah Keyes, Christian Gonzolez, and Julie Mealiff. We gathered to watch Boyd's professional debut in a fabulous Off-Broadway production called Angels. It tells how Lucifer tricks the new angel of light, but the Lord gets the last laugh. One of the creators announced that it was a workshop version, so I expected scripts in hand, but they had lights, sounds, choreography and more. Evidently they plan to add some serious special effects.

Pray for Boyd, who is now in London looking into performance programs there. He was doing that in NYC when he stumbled upon this production and was cast. Who knows that he won't return to Australia with a West End credit!

The beauty of flat

I woke up overwhelmed with joy that I get to see as much of the world as I do. I coached architects and engineers through Graceworks down here in Oklahoma. I don't think we saw a single hill, but this neck of the "woods" has a beauty all its own.


Click here for more photos.
Joyce had business in Nice, France, so we arrived early for our ninth honeymoon. We drove up the coast, made a stop in Monte Carlo, and then on to the first exit in Italy for some gelato. It's definitely better than French glace or American ice cream. Then we drove down the French Riviera (my favorite stretch for driving) to Cannes.

No Chairs. Hallelujah!

Our church is moving, so this Sunday will be our last worship experience in our old space.

The chairs will already be packed up.

Our pastor has given me permission to speak about the extraordinary worship we've experienced three years running at Territorial (see links below) as an introduction to worship. One of the most freeing things about Territorial worship was that we shoved the chairs to the side and didn't let them get between us and God. Danielle Strickland encouraged us to kneel if we sing that we kneel, bow if we sing that we bow, raise our hands if we sing that. In short, to make worship a whole body experience. When we do that we naturally have a greater connection to the One we're worshipping. He created our minds, hearts, voices and bodies and communication is only 7% words.

If you're in the area and want to experience worship without chairs come join us: Westchester Chapel at 4 Lyon Place, White Plains, NY. We meet at 11am. If you're outside the area please pray the the Holy Spirit visits our community in a fresh way.

For reports on the revival that goes on up north at the Territorial School of Music and Gospel Arts (TSOMAGA) check out the following posts:


  • Aug
  • Sept (scroll down to 9/5)

  • TSOMAGA '06 (scroll down to 9/6 and keep scrolling)

  • TSOMAGA Blog

  • I didn't get any pictures of worship without chairs this year because, well, I was worshipping. The picture here is one of the prayer stations on Thursday night, which was wholly dedicated to worship and testimony. It went on for hours with intense peaks and rests.

    Bearing Fruit

    I just met with Bill Hane, Executive Director of Bearing Fruit Communications, the group that did Beyond the Gates of Splendor.

    There was an article in the New York Times this morning that mentioned The End of the Spear, which was produced by their partner group, Every Tribe Entertainment: Fox Unveils a Division for Religious-Oriented Films.

    The article also mentions Love’s Abiding Joy, a western based on the novel by the Christian writer Janette Oke about a couple facing the trials of life on the American frontier. It will open in theatres October 6.

    Another film that gets some space in the article is One Night with the King, a movie based on Tommy Tenney's book, Hadassah: One Night with the King, telling how Esther went from orphan to queen. It opens October 13. I'm working on a review of a 25-minute preview, which I'll post later, but mark your calendars now to send the strongest vote for this kind of film in the future.

    Bill spoke of a number of exciting upcoming Bearing Fruit projects, including a new branch called Ethno-Graphic Films, which isn't yet on their website. There are some phenomenal short spots (30-60 seconds) at

    Most exciting for me is their interest in doing a documentary on the influence Eric Liddell has had on people. If his story has had an impact on you, post a comment below and I'll be sure to pass it on to Bill.