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.
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.
"The Prayer Path" can be ordered at GroupPublishing.com or by calling 1.800.447.1070.
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."
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?
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.
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 (GeorgeFox.edu). He set me up by quoting from Isaiah: "Though your sins be as scarlet," the passage Beyond the Chariots uses at key points in the plot.
He 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 over night. 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 stopped en route at Compassion's headquarters (RichDrama.com/Compassion). 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: RichDrama.com/Compassion
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 (RichDrama.com/Itinerary).
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.
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!
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.
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..
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 A...in 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.
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.
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.
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 in...an 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.
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!
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.
...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.
New Line Cinema is releasing The Nativity Story on December 1.
Click here for the trailer. The main website is TheNativityStory.com.
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.
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.
Last Saturday night our church (WestchesterChapel.org) 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.
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:
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.
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."Thanks for helping!
Rich and Joyce
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."
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.
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.
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 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.
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!
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.|
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:
TSOMAGA '06 (scroll down to 9/6 and keep scrolling)
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.
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 BearingFruit.com/Projects.
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.