My first month on the job! [with the first installment of “The Story Team Interns”]

Hey everybody! I know it’s so passé to apologize for not updating your blog, but I’ve heard from a few of my supporters asking how the internship is going. I think some of you guys may be worried that because I haven’t been posting on the blog it means I’ve been having a terrible time.

Turns out that the opposite is true because this is literally my favorite job ever. (I may be prone to exaggeration, but I will stand behind this proclamation.) I really am thrilled to go to work on Monday morning and the hours just rush by. I love working with my team, and I love hanging out with the other interns (I’ve been known to wander into “intern alley” to disrupt things when I need a break).

Recently, our intern cohort did presentations on our jobs. The assignment was pretty simple: spend a few minutes talking about what you’ll be doing this year. However, as the filmmaking intern, it seemed like an injustice to do anything other than make a “film” for this presentation. So that’s what Christian (a Story Team Photography intern) and I did.

I spent a lot of time on this, and I feel like it really showcases my obvious gifts as a filmmaker, however I am humble enough to admit that I have some room to grow in my craft. I’ll let you decide for yourselves:

Future posts:

1. My experience on the set of “Last Shot Love”
2. The music video I shot for Friendly Savages
3. What do I do all day?
4. What have I been working on?
5. Meeting Steve Taylor, director of Blue Like Jazz

Supporters, thank you so much for your sacrificial giving! Thank you for making it possible to do what I love for the glory of God!

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73% and 1 Week of Support Raising Left!

Support raising has been a good experience of learning to trust God better and learning to be at the mercy of others, but I am SO READY for my internship to start.

By God’s grace, and the generosity of several friends, I am at 73% of my budget. However, in order to start on September 5th, I need to be at 100%. So I need to raise another $730 per month.

It’s so close I can smell it! I’m praying that we can reach that goal by the end of the week! If I haven’t contacted you about supporting me yet, but you would consider it, please click on the link to the right. Thank you so much!

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50% Funded!

This has been an incredibly busy 2 weeks since I last posted, and this is the first time I’ve been back in Austin in that time. I’ll write more about what’s been going on, but I just wanted to put a quick note out there that I have finally crossed the 50% mark!

This is definitely an important threshold, but it feels like there is a long way to go. I guess I still have some more to learn about trusting God!

In the past 3 weeks I’ve sent about 100 pieces of mail, 200 emails, and I have a dozen thank you notes to write in the next day, not to mention a dozen threads of emails I need to write!

If I you are reading this and I haven’t contacted you to get your address so I could send you a support letter and prayer magnet, sorry, and I’d love to fix that! Please email me at

Coming soon:

-Friendly Savages music video debut
-Stories from my time working on the set of a short film
-Other important things

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Coming Soon: A Music Video with The Friendly Savages!


Lots of you have been asking what I’ve been doing all summer since I’m not teaching and my internship doesn’t start until September. I’ve spent a good chunk of that time working on fundraising, but I’ve also been free to work on a few projects like this one.

Malcolm (the one holding the banjo and staring into your soul) is my community group leader, and soon after we met we started talking about music video ideas for his band The Friendly Savages. He called me up last week because he went on a (barefoot) walk in the Greenbelt and found the perfect spot for a live performance.

This is my first music video so I was thrilled to work with these guys since the Savages are a great band, especially live. Especially submerged in water.

We scouted out the spot the night before and met up at 6:15 the next morning. As you can see, the water was well up to the band’s thighs. I lost myself in the moment and ended up chest high in the water to get the shot I was looking for. Thankfully, providentially, all of my gear is still intact. Which reminds me, I should really get insurance on it all.

I wanted to go for a vintage feel since I had just seen Moonrise Kingdom for the 2nd time, so I used an old Canon FD lens from the 70s with an adapter on my 7D. I was quite pleased with the look of it, and I snapped the picture above right as the sun was coming out. After about 10 takes, I think the last one was the best, so once the band approves it, and I add some titles here and there, I’ll post it up on the blog.

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Support Raising Update: Reality Sets In

The end of July is a turning point in support raising for me. July 20th I received my last paycheck from Summit Christian Academy. I don’t get a paycheck in August unless I raise support.

This just got real.

When I look at the bank account and realize that number is only going to go down, I’m confronted with the fact that I really, actually, truly need put my trust in God.

I have to trust He will provide for my physical needs by using His Spirit to move in the hearts of others to give generously. I have to trust that this internship is the best way to channel the gifts, talents and dreams He has given me into a career of filmmaking for the glory of God. I have to resist the urge to apply for another teaching job just because I know it will pay the bills and I won’t have to take another shot to the pride.

Set aside the churchspeak for a moment and consider how preposterous this sounds as a financial plan:
My financial plan for the fiscal year* August 2012 – July 2013 is to ask other people for money. Money that is not received in exchange for goods or services rendered. Living off of money that isn’t mine.

But when my mind starts chugging down this train of thought reality sets in:
We’re all living off of money that isn’t ours. We’re all breathing air that isn’t ours. Every good and perfect gift comes down to us from a God that loves us.

Don’t get me wrong, I already knew that, just like you already knew that.

I’m learning there is a difference between learning something and living something.

And really… I’m just preaching this to myself so that I’ll believe it more often than I don’t believe it.

*Not really sure what fiscal year means

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The Good Kind of Humiliating

When we say something is “humiliating,” we typically mean it in a negative sense.

Yesterday I had coffee with Jeremy Rodgers, the Film Production Manager at Austin Stone (aka “the film guy” aka “my soon-to-be boss”). We talked over the vision and values of the Story Team as well as some of the exciting projects we’ll be working on in the next year.

One of the key values of the Story Team is humility. “We have no room for pride when we recognize that our ability to create is given to us by the grace of God. We are here to make God famous, not ourselves.” For whatever reason, most of us creative types are predisposed towards pride. I know it is something I must fight often.

Pride is one of those sins that can be hard to recognize. These days, it shows up in my life most often when I lack confidence in my work. Rather than focusing on the story God has given me the opportunity to tell, I’m worried that you’ll notice how bad the lighting is or how much I’m shaking the camera.

Of course, these are the types of things that I’m seeking to improve as I grow as a filmmaker, and I am confident this internship will help me get my skills where they need to be. But it’s more important for me to learn to get out of the way and tell a good story.

Rick Warren says it well. “Humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.”

As a filmmaker, I should seek to be invisible. When you are watching one of my films, I don’t want you to be thinking about how spectacular that last shot was or how snappy my editing is. I want you focused on the story. In my work for the church especially, I want you to be face-to-face with the greatness of God as He shines through the stories of His people.

This summer I’m getting some good practice in humility. Lately I’ve been complaining about how difficult it is to ask other people for money, especially as a 28 year-old who likes to think of himself as independent. As somebody who has had a career of sorts in education, it’s hard for me to start over as a “lowly intern,” relying on the support of others.

As I discussed this with Jeremy, he made a great point. We tend to think of “humiliation” as a negative thing, but Jesus clearly tells us to seek humility. So really, those things that humiliate us are things God wants to use to make us more like Christ.

So, somewhat begrudgingly, I am trying to be thankful for support raising. Humiliating as it is, it’s helping me become more like Christ.

It’s also making me a better filmmaker.

Prayer Requests:
That through support raising, God would:

1. decrease my pride
2. increase my trust and reliance on Him
3. increase my confidence in His calling for me

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Forgiving God

One of the things I love about those who have not yet reached “maturity” is the uncanny courage to say exactly what the rest of us mean but are too afraid to say ourselves.

On the last night of Switch Camp, students were invited to come up front and share their stories from the week. One middle schooler told us that his favorite cousin died in a car wreck a few months earlier, and that week he realized he was holding a grudge against God because of it. The way he expressed this was beautiful: “Last night, I finally forgave God for taking away my cousin.”

As adults it’s easy to hide our feelings behind our theology. I love this student’s honesty. What adult would stand up in front of a group of people and say, “I finally forgave God”?

But when we kneel to His sovereignty, that’s really what we are doing isn’t it?

The truth is, so often in my life I have held a grudge against God, because things haven’t gone the way I, in my sovereign knowledge, think they should have gone.

Typically I don’t like to take a break to reference a dictionary, but I needed to see if “forgiving God” is actually a valid way to express this phenomenon.

The American Psychological Association defines forgiveness as “the process (or the result of a process) that involves a change in emotion and attitude regarding an offender… This process results in decreased motivation to retaliate or maintain estrangement from an offender despite their actions, and requires letting go of negative emotions toward the offender.”

When God allows something to happen that offends our sensibilities, I suppose it would be accurate to call Him “the offender.” Obviously, as mature adults with good theology, we know that God is holy and incapable of wrong-doing… but step outside of that for a moment.

Be honest. When your life doesn’t look the way you thought it would look, the way you think it should look, is your response to hold God responsible? That’s usually my first reaction.

When you’re single long after you hoped you’d be? When someone dies unexpectedly? When the dreams you thought God had given you end in failure?

When I am disappointed with God, often my reaction is to embrace sin and lash out against Him. “I thought you promised good things God! And look where that got me! Maybe the world has something better to offer.”

Obviously, we need to ask God to forgive us. But now I’m beginning to think we need to forgive God as well.

Forgiving God is the acknowledgement that He is good and that you believe He has good plans for you. It is the willful change of emotion and attitude towards God in this place where you feel hurt by Him. It is the resolution to stop running away from Him because you are upset with Him. Most of all, it is the letting go of negative emotions towards God.

I realize of course, that most people won’t be comfortable using this language, because we don’t want to give the impression that God needs us to forgive Him. But really, isn’t forgiveness about a change in attitude towards the person you are forgiving?

As for me, I’m going to take the lead of one courageous middle schooler.

God, you know things haven’t worked out quite the way I expected, and there have been times I’ve held that against You. Please forgive me for my sins, for running from You when You are the only one who can save me. I forgive you God. I release the negative emotions I’ve held towards you. I run to you. Take these bones you have broken and make them dance.

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