David Wilkerson's final devotion

When my mother read Rev. David Wilkerson's book, The Cross and the Switchblade to my brother and I when we were kids it was a huge inspiration to this farm boy to hear about another who left his farming community to minister to gang members in New York City, where I've lived since 1993.  So I was deeply saddened to read about his tragic death in a car accident yesterday. 

I've been edified by his daily devotions for some time now, and I thought I'd post his last. The man who urged his church to make 2,000 sandwiches on 9/10/01 touched on the temptation to lose hope when "a loved one is facing death..." within 24 hours of his own.


David Wilkerson Today



WEDNESDAY, APRIL 27, 2011



WHEN ALL MEANS FAIL



To believe when all means fail is exceedingly pleasing to God and is most

acceptable. Jesus said to Thomas, "You have believed because you have seen,

but blessed are those that do believe and have not seen" (John 20:29).



Blessed are those who believe when there is no evidence of an answer to

prayer—who trust beyond hope when all means have failed.



Someone has come to the place of hopelessness—the end of hope—the end of

all means. A loved one is facing death and doctors give no hope. Death seems

inevitable. Hope is gone. The miracle prayed for is not happening.



That is when Satan's hordes come to attack your mind with fear, anger,

overwhelming questions: "Where is your God now? You prayed until you had no

tears left. You fasted. You stood on promises. You trusted."



Blasphemous thoughts will be injected into your mind: "Prayer failed. Faith

failed. Don't quit on God—just do not trust him anymore. It doesn't

pay!"



Even questioning God's existence will be injected into your mind. These have

been the devices of Satan for centuries. Some of the godliest men and women who

ever lived were under such demonic attacks.



To those going through the valley and shadow of death, hear this word: Weeping

will last through some dark, awful nights—and in that darkness you will soon

hear the Father whisper, "I am with you. I cannot tell you why right now, but

one day it will all make sense. You will see it was all part of my plan. It was

no accident. It was no failure on your part. Hold fast. Let me embrace you in

your hour of pain."



Beloved, God has never failed to act but in goodness and love. When all means

fail—his love prevails. Hold fast to your faith. Stand fast in his Word.

There is no other hope in this world.

The Easter Airport

If you haven't read my report from Good Friday yet, read that first and then come back.

Wasn't that AMAZING!?!

Well that prayer for getting home (in time to catch the train I'm on right now to DC to lead a week of workshops) was answered, and the airport, in a beautiful metaphor, came back to life Easter morning, and my flight took off ON TIME! The woman sitting next to me said planes never leave St. Louis on time. I even landed in New York 15 minutes early!

Thanks so much for your prayers!

Free Compassion Album

Like Compassion on Facebook and download a free album created by Compassion artists like me... except that my art is acting.
This is Wendy, who we sponsor, on our visit to Honduras.

Powerful!

My performance of Journey to the Garden was outdoors tonight. There was a light rain, but I said I'd keep performing until they decided they wanted to move it indoors. About the time Jesus was being flogged lightning began to flash over our heads. When the crowd yelled, "Crucify him!" there were sirens going off. A 7-year-old asked her mother, "Are they coming to arrest us?" I found out later that the sirens blare when a tornado has been spotted. Turns out one blasted into St. Louis's Lambert field, eight miles away from us. The airport is now closed indefinitely, so pray I can get home in time to catch my train to DC for a week of workshops! During the crucifixion the thunder and lightning intensified, and it reached a crescendo over, "Ilohi, Ilohi, lama sabachthani, My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?" After the line, "It is finished!" there was a huge downpour! One by one people walked into the home of my friends who hosted the performance, away from the shroud of Jesus as the heavens continued to burst. When they were all inside I changed and joined one of the most powerful worship services I've ever experienced. Some were saying that the kids that were here will never forget this. I know I never will!



Holy Week Services

Our church, (http://WestchesterChapel.org) be celebrating Holy Week at The Crowne Plaza in White Plains, NY:
 
Maundy Thursday, April 21, 7pm
Good Friday, April 22, 7pm
Easter, April 24, 11am
 
Live in the full memorial and celebration of what Christ did for us this Holy Season.

The Good Friday service will feature a concert version of Judah Ben Hur, the musical in which Rich Swingle performed in Singapore in 2001/2002.


 
JUDAH BEN-HUR is a magical tale of romance, comedy and adventure.  Relive the legend of Rome's great charioteer, the hate that nearly destroyed him and the love that transformed him.
 
Under the helm of Andrew Lloyd Weber's former G.M., Judah Ben-Hur held its world premier at Singapore's NUS Cultural Centre, where it ran for 56 performances. Its creators, David & Ellen Sanborn, and four other seasoned actor/singers are touring with a 70-minute theatrical concert version of the musical in similar fashion to the anniversary concert of Les Miserables.
 
David M. Sanborn has performed for hundreds of thousands of people in roles like "Tony" in West Side Story. His one-man show, King David, recently ran 12 straight weeks off-Broadway. Ellen Sanborn has shared the marquee with such legends as Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan, as well as contemporary singers like Paul Baloche and Darlene Zschech.
 
Ellen & David have also been successful co-writing such musicals as Little Lord Fauntleroy, King David and Anne of Avonlea. The New York Times has called their work "spot-on" and "a seeming endless well of feeling." MTV (Asia) said the songs they've written for Judah Ben-Hur "are so catchy and memorable that you'll be humming them on the way out of the auditorium."
 
"JUDAH BEN-HUR boasts a memorable soundtrack full of catchy tunes! Ellen Sanborn has a clear, confident voice that brims with emotion…honed from a career that began on London's West End some 30 years ago." – GET ASIA Magazine

"A razzle-dazzler like MISS SAIGON ... and PHANTOM OF THE OPERA. Charlton Heston may have...charisma, but David M. Sanborn definitely makes a more delectable Judah Ben-Hur, and a more multi-talented one at that." - The New Paper
 
The Crowne Plaza is located at 66 Hale Avenue in White Plains. Click here for directions.   

For the Glory is completed!

It was just announced that the post-production phase of For the Glory, the upcoming film in which I play soccer coach Sean Ryan, is now finished.  They're moving on to marketing and distribution. Hurrah!!!

Clem's Café

This place in Blairsville, PA, has some of the best barbecue I've ever tasted! They roast right there in they're smoke house.

Crossing the Hudson at Dawn

I'm driving (not at the moment) out to Pittsburgh for performances this weekend: http://itinerary.richdrama.com.

The 4/14 Window

I just got the following message from Wess Stafford, president of Compassion International:

Children are the most open to Christ's gift of salvation and moldable in their spiritual beliefs and values between the ages of 4 and 14. This is the time of life when they're also most vulnerable to the devastating effects of poverty, war, disease, neglect and abuse.


This critical time period is known as the 4/14 Window - a time of great impressionability and vulnerability.


My hope is that you'll set aside this April 14 (4/14) as a special day of prayer and fasting for the more than 1.2 billion children around the world in the 4/14 Window.


Why is it important to reach children between the ages of 4 and 14? Besides the fact that God loves them, research has revealed that the majority of people who accept Christ do so before the age of 15. In addition, people's life-long spiritual identity is in place by age 13 andrarely changes thereafter.


Together, on April 14, we can be a great, unified voice coming before the Lord, praying for the raising up of a new generation of Christ's followers who can transform the world.


Thank you for caring about children, and thank you for joining us in this critical initiative!


Sincerely In Him,


Dr. Wess Stafford

President and CEO


You can sponsor a child now at http://RichDrama.com/Compassion

Soul Surfer

I finally had two free hours to see Soul Surfer. What a phenomenal show! I was moved from first to last. It was so clear that it was faith that made life work for Bethany after the shark attack. Her courage is tremendous! And The New York Times rave was right about the breathtaking cinematography!

Audiences confirmed its quality by voting it to number four at the box office with $10.6M on its opening weekend.

Old articles revisited

I was updating my Publicity page, and I realized I'd never posted a couple of articles that ran when we were in Australia in 2009.

The Salvation Army of Australia ran an article on my performance of The Revelation in Sydney.  It's on page 9 of Creative Ministry, October 2009.

Then in January 2010 they ran a feature article on my work: Going Solo. In that article I mention how I was inspired by Curt Cloninger, who is going to be a master class instructor at MasterWorks this summer!

Clarion Ledger covered the Belhaven Theatre Festival

Pros bring prose to stage during festival

Princeton University

Every spring I get to teach a presentation skills workshop for the grad students of Princeton's School for Architecture through Graceworks (http://GraceworksInc.com). This year we had students from Greece, Lithuania, Korea and Japan. It was a thrill in any language.

New Yorker in Mississippi

When I first arrived on the Belhaven campus they were playing Chariots of Fire on the speakers outside their athletic complex. What a way to welcome me (by the random player of sports-themed music) to perform the rest of the Chariots story with my play: RichDrama.com/BeyondTheChariots .

The next day we had breakfast at this new diner that looks like it's been running since the '50's. They served my coffee in a cup with New York on it.

Belhaven University

I just got back from Jackson, MS, to teach and perform at Belhaven University. Jackson is the home of best man at our wedding, Mac Nelson. He taught at Belhaven several years ago. There are four Belhaven alums that I got to work with as students, and one is attending Belhaven now.

Mississippi marks the 37th state in which I've taught and/or performed.

Eudora Welty's home

I didn't have time to go into her home, which is now a museum across the street from Belhaven University.



Beauty from ashes

These two buildings on the Belhaven University campus used to be joined until a fire destroyed the connecting structure.



A most extraordinary day


Sometimes days planned with great care can be a bit of a letdown because they couldn't possibly live up to the expectation.

And then there are days like today!

I had planned to fly back from Jackson, MS, in the afternoon in case a booking developed for Sunday morning. It didn't, but I was thrilled to visit Joe Frost's church. He's the one that invited me down to teach and perform at Belhaven University, and he'd told me how they sit around tables, and people can draw on the paper table covers as they're inspired by worship and the Word.

I had sat next to Joe's pastor, Doug, at the dance concert, but since the pastor's wife chairs the dance department we talked mostly about the concert, so I didn't realize he was Joe's pastor until I walked into the church. We struck up a conversation, and he asked if I'd perform something. He was preaching on a passage dealing with obedience, so I offered the Gethsemane scene from Journey to the Garden (www.RichDrama.com/JourneyToTheGarden).

Then a woman took a Compassion packet (www.RichDrama.com/Compassion) though she has no work right now. I told her I'd ask you to pray with us that she'll land a job before the child's packet expires on May 13.

After that, at the church and on the journey to NYC (I actually flew into Newark and drove to Princeton, where I'll teach in the University tomorrow) I was able to express the Love of Jesus to people from Mexico, Korea, the Dominican Republic, and Brooklyn.

The Lord is SO good! Today exceeded my expectations many times over!

Full talk at the Ivy League Congress

Here's my full talk at the Ivy League Congress on Faith and Action.

Report on the Ivy League Congress on Faith and Action

On Sunday I reported to our church, Westchester Chapel, about The Ivy League Congress on Faith and Action, which brought together students from all eight Ivy League schools to worship the Lord, fellowship and explore changing the world for the better.  My talk at the Congress is posted at RichDrama.com/IvyLeague.




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

An excerpt from my talk at the Ivy League Congress on Faith and Action

I was part of a panel on Arts and Entertainment at the Ivy League Congress on Faith and Action hosted by members at Harvard University.

Here's an excerpt from my talk:



I'm planning on posting the entire talk soon at RichDrama.com/IvyLeague.

Greater Glory

Joyce kicks off the annual meeting of our church, Westchester Chapel, preaching on Haggai.



This mini-message is available for download free on iTunes, where you can also subscribe to our podcast. Search for "Joyce Swingle" on the iTunes Store.

Can we really change the world?

Os Guinness addressed this question in his keynote.

We have three challenges:

1) Prepare new communities of Christians:
Evangelism in developing nations is easy, but discipleship is the challenge. Many return to their pre-Christian habits.

2) Win the West back to the Lord.

3) Find constructive solutions for humankind.

Culture and civilization:
To follow Jesus is not just to subscribe to a set of doctrines. Jesus said his Kingdom is not of this world. Yet Christianity is at the heart of philanthropy, education and the gentling of Europe.

Our best efforts often fall short. The Reformation brought about much that us negative. We must proceed with humility.

St. Augustine spoke of the two cities: one focused on the love of God (Jerusalem) and one on the love of self (Rome). Jesus called us to be in the world but not if it. Is the Spirit of God or the spirit of the world leading the way? In the US the church has by and large become very worldly, thus losing it's tension with the world and thereby it's influence. When conversion is radical it has influence.

As Evangelicals we look to mass movements to change culture, but they don't. It is always God the Holy Spirit who leads. The Gospel got to Africa because the Holy Spirit sent Philip south; to Europe: The Holy Spirit sent Paul to Macedonia; to Gentiles: The Holy Spirit revealed it to Peter. We must allow the Spirit to lead us today and not lead by our own intelligence, experience or training.

TS Elliott said you can't build a tree, it must grow. We can't change culture for the good by using the tools of the world. We must follow the lead of the Spirit.

God is against his gifts when they take His place. The worst of Christian America is holding the Gospel back. In order to advance the Gospel we must break with the worst and, by the guidance of the Spirit, expand the best.

It was Christianity that saved civilization from the Dark Ages.

Christian faith is incredibly innovative, but the Church always goes forward best by going back first. The Reformation went back to Scripture.

By seeing civilization in decline we must remember that the Gospel always thrives under persecution.

Remember the whole world is in His hands. The dominant emotion in the world is fear. The Lord says Fear not.

Do your utmost for his highest. As each of us uses our gifts and spheres of influence the Kingdom will expand.

Wilberforce said, "Let a thousand flowers bloom." When we plant seeds the Lord will bring the growth.

Karl Barth said Luther was reaching for the hand rail and took hold of the bell rope that woke the world.

We can't plan the next Great Awakening, but we can follow the Spirit's promptings and see what God will do.





A Hippocratic oath for MBAs

Our first speaker of the day, Max Anderson, is the founder and chairman of the MBA Oath Initiative, a grassroots effort to establish a Hippocratic oath for MBAs and other business professionals. While a student at Harvard he started an online pledge students could sign committing themselves to the principles of integrity, honesty, and fair dealing. Since it began in 2009 it has been adapted by over 300 business schools on every inhabitable continent.

Words matter. You create accountability by speaking what you intend. If you don't tell anyone you're in a diet no one will stop you if you order a piece if chocolate cake.

It's about coming together to change culture in a way a single individual never could.





Processing in the world of media

In the media vocational track John Seel told how he found himself as the President of nCore Media, a visual super computing company that produces the fastest processor in the world. The chip can render CGI 15 times faster than their closest competitor.

He said when you step through the doors the Lord opens it will always bring trials that test your faith. He reiterated what Os Guinness said this morning about planning being less effective than following the lead of the Holy Spirit.

They identify themselves as a Christian company, and that has cost them millions of dollars in support. They're wanting to invest in the stories they want told.

He said that as beings created in the image of God we will never flourish if we don't live out the principles of God.

Rhonda Hibbler is the first full-time female production director in the Philadelphia radio market. She keeps a Bible in her studio, and she's found that it changes how people act around her.





Largest group on campus

Christian Union, the organization that is hosting this Congress (http://RichDrama/IvyLeague) has 260 students, making it the largest membership of any student organization on the Princeton campus. Harvard has beaten their growth rate and Yale is beating Harvard. They have a 24/7 prayer room and almost all of the hours are covered. Many of the students fast on a regular basis. The president of Christian Union, Matt Bennett, says the exponential growth and spiritual vitality feel like descriptions of the Great Awakenings.

Half of the top 150 influencers in the US are from an Ivy League school. I've never felt so optimistic about the future of the world!



Ivy League medical missionary

Tonight's speaker for the Ivy League Congress on Faith and Action, Matt Megill, MD, served as a medical missionary in West Africa for two years through Samaritan's Purse.

My notes:

Four medics and 150 local helpers cared for 1000 patients every week.

Medicine is a powerful mirror of the Gospel. Niger has 0.03% Christians, and they need social justice as well as spiritual regeneration.

Christianity is not about living a life of nice-ness, but to be salt and light so people can heal and see.

Pray for Matt and his bride as they prepare to return to Niger.

The Ivy League Congress on Faith and Action

I was part of a panel with Tim Tsang (Moogist) and G. James Daichendt on Arts and Entertainment at the Ivy League Congress on Faith and Action hosted by members at Harvard University.

Christian Union, the organization that is hosting this Congress has 260 students at Princeton University, making it the largest membership of any student organization on campus. Harvard has beaten their growth rate and Yale is beating Harvard. They have a 24/7 prayer room and almost all of the hours are covered. Many of the students fast on a regular basis. The president of Christian Union, Matt Bennett, says the exponential growth and spiritual vitality feel like descriptions of the Great Awakenings.

 Half of the top 150 influencers in the US are from an Ivy League school.

I've never felt so optimistic about the future of the world!

Here's my talk:



These are the resources I planned to mention:
"Answering the Curtain Call", which I wrote in 2002 
"Teaching Kids to Kill" by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman
Performing the Sacred: Theology and Theatre in Dialogue (Engaging Culture) by Dale Savidge and Todd E. Johnson
Here are links to organizations I plan to mention:
The Christopher Awards 
Christians in Theatre Arts: CITA.org 
MasterWorks Festival: RichDrama.com/MWF
MasterMedia: MasterMediaIntl.org 
Christians in Visual Arts: CIVA.org 
Here are plays I plan to mention:
Screwtape Letters 
Freud's Last Session  
 My own plays
 Reflections in the Light reviews
Here are films I'm planning to mention:
The Ten Commandments
Ben Hur 
The Passion of the Christ
Fireproof
The Grace Card
My upcoming films 
Soul Surfer