No, droves of Christians are not actually freaking out about the Starbucks Cups

Now, can we quit talking about it?

If you’re like me, your news feed has been lit up in the past 48 hours about this issue. I will be brief.

Through the various pages and accounts I manage, I have access to about 20,000 friends/fans/followers online. Most of the people in that group are Christians, and while that is a relatively small number in comparison to the whole internet, I would argue that it still represents an accurate sampling of the evangelical church and it is far more than required for a scientific study. In this crowd I have not seen a single person – not one – actually say that they are upset about the Starbucks cup.

But, oh boy, I’ve heard about the cup. Everyone, christian and non-Christian, is outraged over the total idiocy/hypocrisy/Pharisaical nature of these hoards of “Christian” fools who are supposedly saying that Starbucks’ removal of snowflakes and ice skates from their red cup is somehow getting away from the true meaning of Christmas. (Which is snowflakes apparently, who knew?)

So where did it come from then?

It started last week when a conservative news site (I’m choosing not to post the link on purpose to not give them any more traffic) known for its huge sweeping over-statements posted something about how the move to a solid red cup away from last year’s snow flake design is some how a sign of impending doom for Bible-believing Christians who want to say “Merry Christmas” without getting pepper sprayed in the face.

This article would’ve gone on without any notice except a few news sites got hold of it and turned it into a story about how Christians are upset about something stupid again! It’s almost like the whole internet makes money based off of how many clicks it can get on crazy, inflammatory headlines…

The source most of the internet probably heard it from was Buzzfeed, that bastion of journalistic accuracy. Buzzfeed posted a link to the original article and five tweets – FIVE TWEETS – by angry Christians some of whom clearly had little understanding of what was happening as it seemed like they may have thought Starbucks was a former Christian denomination that had fallen from grace, based off these tweets.

[parallax_quote animation=”fadeInUp” author=”seriously”]IT WAS FIVE TWEETS [/parallax_quote]

 

Yes I’m sure there were many more than five to be found elsewhere and yes there are many more now, but I was amazed when I found the buzzfeed article. I was sure there would be HUNDREDS of angry tweets about the red cup based on the backlash. But no, turns out this “controversy” didn’t have much of a movement behind it at that point. This article only served as fuel for the fire and anything else – on either side – has grown from there.

You hadn’t heard about this last Thursday had you? No? Because the initial article had been up since early Wednesday morning. No one cared before this whole thing turned into clickbait. (Update: Some have said that it started with the youtube video of the guy talking about it, or by Donald trump. Both of those were responses to the original article, as they were posted 4 days later, the day after the buzzfeed article.)

It Breaks Science

This disproves Newton’s third law, you know, that says every action will have an opposite but equal reaction, because the initial action was some yellow journalism on an obscure, foreign site. The reaction has been to fill my feed with pictures of the red cups that could stretch around the planet twice.

So what I’m saying is this: we need to get NASA involved because this kind of controversy could be the breakthrough we need to get to Mars! It only takes a tiny little bit of “controversy” to fuel an enormous reaction.

So let’s quit calling this vast minority of people idiots and get back to what we should really celebrate this December – the new Star Wars movie.

My last day in my 20s: What I’d wish I’d known then, and what I hope to do next.

This entry is more to express my feelings, goals, and blessings at this point in my life.  As well as maybe to offer some thoughts on what I’d wish I’d known when I was 20, so that anyone who’s younger than me might could benefit from my ignorance.

When I turned 20

I remember having a moment on September 17th, 2005 – it was my sophomore year of college. That evening was Asbury’s Fall Variety show which always came together last minute and seemed to be comprised of a lot of duct-tape and chewing gum to keep the wheels from coming off the bus. Dodderidge Holland, a gymnasium with a stage at one end that was itself held together by duct-tape and prayer, was the location of these events and, showing no regard for fire code, it was totally packed that evening. The act I was a part of, a dance-heavy rendition of Tunak Tunak Tan, an Indian pop song sung by the incomparable Dahler Mendi, was to be last act of the evening and the show was already half-way through. Between the staggeringly poor acoustics and the total lack of air-conditioning, all compounded by a room crammed full of college students sitting on the floor, the show was neither particularly audible nor was it comfortable to watch.  I’ve never been too good at sitting down within a couple of hours of a performance. As such I sneaked out the back and sat on the steps next to reasoner green, across from the old library (that would eventually become the new student center.) I remember this moment because that was when it hit me: I was no longer a teenager.

One of the characteristics that really makes me a Millennial is the fact that I never enjoyed growing up. Some call us the “Peter Pan” generation. Because there were many who put off getting their license and other rights of passage that would push us toward independence. But unlike my parents’ generation, we Millennials never said anything like “don’t trust anyone over 30” – to the contrary ours was the first generation to respond to the US high school exit survey by saying that our heroes were more likely to be Mom and Dad than a young, hip celebrity or athlete. So while I wasn’t looking forward to leaving my childhood behind, I remain hopeful that future generations will continue the trend back to respecting and seeing the value of the generations who have come before them, because after all it’s like Christine Cain said, If you live as if there aren’t generations that have come before you, you’ll be in danger of forgetting that there will be generations after you.

To people in their teens and early 20s, here’s what I’ve learned

So, here’s what I wish I’d known that night in September of 2005.

A coworker of mine printed a dozen of these out today and posted them all over the break room
A coworker of mine printed a dozen of these out today and posted them all over the break room
  • You don’t have to get it all right over the next ten years – I knew that my 20’s weren’t a throw away decade, as talked about in this great TED talk, but I was more convinced of the opposite; that because I was given so much in my childhood, that I was going to be expected to save the world by the time I was 29. If you wonder why this is, just look at the Millennials. We’re a generation full of people many of whom simply invented an app, launched a website, or started a non-profit and seem to have experienced instant success. We celebrate those successes, but often we don’t realize that there are many people who don’t experience that kind of success until they’re in their 40s or 50s and not only is that ok, it might actually be preferable. Mark Zuckerberg may be my age, but far more common is the story of those who climbed the ladder of success over years of diligent and hard work to receive a well-deserved place in their career, family life, and community. Yes we can all name a dozen people who, “by the time they were my age” had already accomplished unprecedented things. There are also thousands of other successful people who weren’t over-night successes. And how many of those meteoric rises ended up being a flash in the pan? A relative blip on the radar? When you’re put into a position of influence, wouldn’t you rather be aided by a decade or two of wisdom and experience? Take advantage of this time to soak it up. Don’t just sit back, but don’t feel rushed to have accomplished a certain amount before any age milestone – take this time to focus on learning and putting in several good years of solid work that you can be proud of, even if it doesn’t look like the most impressive thing on a resume. The point is you’re getting better at being who you’re called to be so that when the opportunity arises you’ll be ready for what’s next.

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  • Learn from the mistakes you make, and take note of the lessons others are learning – You’re going to have some of your biggest screw ups before you reach 40. (I say 40 because I want to make it clear that I don’t think I’m out of the woods yet) and while you’re never going to be perfect, young adulthood is the period wherein you’ll be making some big life choices and you’re probably going to get a few of them totally wrong. You’re going to also get lots of little things wrong as well. THAT IS OK. DON’T FREAK OUT. Ok, the reality is you will freak out, because you’re young and you don’t know better. But take comfort in the fact that we’ve all done it and will do it and that it’s how we learn. Failure is OK. Not learning from failure is not OK! If you experience something that isn’t pleasant in your life and you never take the time to ask the question “what was my role in that, and how can I improve next time?” Then you’ll smuggle your baggage into the next job, relationship, project, or season of your life. Also, as a bonus during your 20s you’re probably going to see a few friends go through some rough times – maybe they’ll be their fault, maybe they’ll just be the harsh reality of life, but don’t miss an opportunity to learn from their circumstances – oh and don’t miss an opportunity to be there for a friend, aside from that fact that you will probably need them to help you out later, it’s just the right thing to do.

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  • Set goals that are solid, but don’t limit what God wants to do with you – When I was 20 I was convinced that it wasn’t a good idea to have really solid and specific goals. I still believe that to a large degree, but I wish I’d realized more that often times God works in our goals and, as long as we’re willing to change course, having even a somewhat vague ambition can be the primary way God accomplishes his goals through you. When I was in high school I had lots of specific ideas of what I wanted to do. Then I realized the foolishness of having your life planned out. We’ve all seen people who either didn’t get what they wanted in life and couldn’t handle it, or tried to force their goals to come to fruition through some tragic means. At the same time, having absolutely no idea of what God’s calling looks like can result in a life without intention. I was so focused on being available for what God called me to do, that I didn’t realize that I was using that as an excuse not to set the God-sized goals he was calling me towards. While I had some general ideas of what I wanted to do, you have to take intentional steps to accomplish God’s calling, it’s not as if filmmakers typically get handed the reigns to direct a feature film without having first directed a short film. I’ve heard it said like this: God can’t drive a parked car. While I knew this on one level, I wish I had been more intentional about setting some of those Goals and following through with them regardless of where I was, not goals that are so specific that they put God in a box, but goals that gave God an opportunity to work out his calling in my life. As such you may have some hard primary goals that are more abstract. And some secondary goals that are more concrete, though they may change as life happens.

  • Focus on the problem not the solution – I know, this sounds like the opposite of what you normally hear, but hear me out. I have to give total credit to Ken Roach for this wording, but he identified something that I’ve learned recently. I think part of the way that we can set Goals that are being obedient to God is by making them Goals that are based around attacking a problem rather than making them Goals about enacting a specific solution. For example you may be called to help impoverished children and you have a really creative plan for doing work with inner city kids, but when you try it, your funding runs out and you have to drop it to start a new job somewhere so you can support yourself.  You didn’t fail at fixing the problem, you just failed at enacting a specific solution. When you’re first starting off in a career, ministry, family, non-proft, or any other group, job, calling or community, you’re going to come up with an idea that is the obvious solution. It’s 100% for sure the right solution. It’s the plan that clearly everyone will see needs to be enacted to fix the problem. Only they don’t see it that way. And not only are you ignored, but the window closes on the opportunity for you to execute your perfect solution. This may have been because you were wrong, or it may have been because they were wrong, but now it doesn’t matter. You need to be willing to let go of your ‘solution’ and be willing to come at the problem from a different angle. We see this all the time when people change careers because they realize they want to attack the problem at it’s root. I’ve known of an insurance salesmen who became a nurse, a prison guard who became an educator, and a advertising executive who became a pastor.  These people were willing to change careers because they had a clear focus on the problem they were supposed to be attacking, and realized that they needed to change the solution. It may not be as extreme as changing career paths, it may be simply changing goals within your career, but rarely does someone’s first plan end up being the plan that they get to carry out, so don’t get upset when your first solution doesn’t work right away. Be willing to come up with a new one. Keep in mind that if you are a hammer, the whole world might appear to be a nail, but don’t be disappointed when you realize that there aren’t any nails around. God will use you somehow, don’t limit him by saying it only has to be in this one way.

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  • In short, even when you reach 30 your life is still very much ahead of you – one of my favorite talks that I’ve heard at Catalyst, my favorite leadership conference, was given by Craig Groeschel in which he talked about the relationship between the younger and older generations in the church. While addressing the younger leaders he said “Don’t over estimate what God wants to do with you in the short-run and don’t underestimate what God wants to do with you in the long run.” In a culture obsessed with youth, it’s hard to keep in mind that your life doesn’t have to end at 30 or 35, or 40 or 50. Sometimes I feel a little disappointed when I compare myself to my friends who are married and starting to have kids. But then I think about the fact that when my parents were both 30 I was still seven years down the road for them and nowhere on their life’s roadmap. In your 20s when things aren’t going the way you think that should’ve gone, or when something happens and it feels like your dreams have been crushed, or when you start dealing with a new challenge that makes you wonder “is this the new normal?” just know that it doesn’t have to be the end of your dreams. You may just need to attack the problem from a different angle, or you may need to get to work and gain some more wisdom and experience, or you made need to set some new God-sized goals and run after them. No, you won’t live forever, but you still have plenty of time to leave a legacy.

Counting my Blessings

It is easy for me to take stock of the things that I had hoped to accomplished at this point in my life and simply wallow in my disappointment. Being totally single at 30 is a bit of a let down, but if I’m honest I’m actually more happy about being single now than I was a few years ago. (before responding to that statement be sure that you’ve read my blog entry on how to encourage single people) I have had a number of huge blessings over the past ten years and I want to celebrate them, I really am just thanking God for these things, but if you think you’ll be tempted to compare your accomplishments to mine, skip this. I won’t hit everything, but here are a few things that stick out to me, at least today.

I thank God for:

  • The birth of more nephews and nieces, bringing the total to 5 nephews and 4 nieces.
  • A Loving Family that has offered support to me in many different ways, even when I wasn’t very lovable.
  • The rest of my time at Asbury, some of the most fun, fulfilling, meaningful years of my life so far.
  • Going to the 2008 Olympics to be part of the Broadcasting in Beijing will remain one of the high points of my life.
  • More recently going to Israel Greece and Rome with NT Wright.
  • Getting a play produced here at the church, and seeing the surprising ways God used it.
  • Never having been in a messy relationship that ended poorly. I probably don’t praise God for this enough.
  • My house. This is one I can easily take for granted, but the fact that I’m a home owner is pretty amazing when I think about it.
  • My many friends, new and old, near and far. In my 20s I’ve lost a few and gained others. The friendships I have now are stronger than ever.
  • My dog Zeus, I’ve only had him for a year and a half, but he’s been the cutest means of grace God’s given me yet.
  • My small group – it’s been through many iterations, and God has been at work in and through it all the way.
  • Reawakening my passion for writing; something that I loved as a child, and realized is a means of Grace for me as an adult.
  • Jujitsu, Ultimate Frisbee, and jogs around my neighborhood – I’m grateful God’s given me ways to keep from being a total couch potato
  • Getting half way through Grad school – my midpoint review will be next month, there’s no way I could’ve done it without God’s help, especially through family and friends.
  • God’s continued daily provision for my life.
  • A (mostly) able body, a (relatively) sound mind (I mean, it could be worse, right?)
  • Hard experiences that taught me important lessons.
  • Dark times that drew me closer to God.

My goals for the next ten years.

In the interest of practicing what I blog, I want to have a few abstract Goals that are primary, that I can use as the “problem” so that if these others don’t work out, I can change course knowing that the ultimate goals remain intact, but also have a few specific, secondary goals that are opportunities for me to trust God with my talents:

Primary/abstract goals: (the what)

  1. Find new ways to reach my generation (the millennial generation) for Christ
  2. tell stories that are truthful and make people laugh
  3. Advance (however that might look) in my field (whatever that may be)
  4. encourage and teach other Christians

Secondary/ Specific goals: (the how)

  1. Finish grad school, earning my MFA
  2. Direct my first feature film
  3. Get a book published
  4. Do more teaching at the college level

As I said, I think that while I’ve hid behind the guise of “being available” for God’s calling, much of why I’ve resisted too-specific goals in the past has to do with a fear that I’m not actually capable of accomplishing them. The funny thing is that I haven’t become more brave, in fact I’ve probably become more convinced than ever that I cannot accomplish these goals. I do believe, however, that I’ve grown in my faith such that I now realize that I was never supposed to chase after these for my sake, and therefore I shouldn’t be depending on my own strength to accomplish them. I’m looking forward to the next ten years. I know they’ll be challenging, and know God will work in every part. My prayer is that the next ten years will be dedicated to Christ and that he’d bless my creativity more this decade than he has ever before. I pray that his had will be upon me and that he’ll give me peace.

Bryan Kelly

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Bryan Kelly is the founder and executive director of Common Ground Montgomery. They exist to encourage and foster community in the Washington Park neighborhood of west Montgomery. Offering training, bible study, classes, and gatherings for people to build gospel-centered relationships common ground is an awesome ministry. You can find out more about their ministry at CGM.life

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I’m going to Israel!

Yup. In just a few days I’m going to be boarding a Plane to the Holy Land. How did this happen? Well I owe it all to my good friend and former colleague, Ben Greenhoe who works for Zondervan Publishing in their video department. He contacted me a few months ago and asked if I’d like to take a freelance job that would take me to Israel, Greece and Rome and be part of a crew shooting a Study with NT Wright. I of course said no, then I slapped myself in the face and said OF COURSE!

If you’re not familiar with him, NT “Tom” Wright is a former Anglican Bishop who is considered by many to be one of the greatest Biblical thinkers alive. He’s kind of a big deal. He’s written many books and his office smells of rich mahogany. I actually don’t know that last part for sure, but I’m just guessing that it would. My small group did a study on Romans that he wrote and I’m working on cramming as much of his literature into my brain before I go so that we can talk shop. He’s kind of a genius and I’m excited to meet him.

I leave this coming Sunday, June 28th and will return to Montgomery on July the 12th. In that time we’ll be visiting the major sights in Jerusalem and Nazareth as well as Corinth in Greece and Rome in Italy. I’ve never been to any of these places nor have I ever taken a trip quite like this one wherein we’ll be hopping between countries and taking footage wherever we go.

I am not a camera man for this event. I’m the audio tech. I’ll be holding the mic and making sure that the sound is not distorted. I find that sort of beautiful, because isn’t that kind of the job of Christians to be the mouthpiece of God and make it so others can hear him clearly? And if we’ve done our jobs right no one will even see us or think about us being there. I’m kind of the low man on the totem pole, but I’d make coffee for the crew if it got me a trip like this. I feel especially blessed to have this kind of opportunity and I’m hoping to be posting updates, photos, and maybe a few videos while I’m there, it depends of course on the availability of WiFi and our work schedule, so there are no guarantees, but check back here for updates as they’re available. Also, follow me on Instagram and twitter, both are @WilliamHAdams

Lastly, I want to ask for your prayers, not only for safety, but also that God would bless this project. I believe it will have capacity to speak some great truths to people and really bring scripture to life in a new way for those who are more visual learners.

Thanks for following and reading!

Ken Roach and Patrick Quinn

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On this episode of the Brio podcast, I talk with Ken and Patrick about their new book How to Ruin Your Child in 7 Easy Steps. It’s a quirky look at the 7 Deadly sins and how to tame them in your own life while nurturing virtues in your children. The book is available now at many major retailers.

What camera should I buy for my church?

I get this question a lot so I thought I’d write a blog entry to explain it.

Short answer: It Depends.

you can ask this question to 20 video guys and they will give you 20 different answers according to their philosophy on what is most important. To me it often comes down to a debate on these four issues: Price, Quality of Image, Features, Ease of Use. There is no camera that falls perfectly in the center of this Venn diagram. Screen Shot 2015-05-05 at 4.51.58 PM

So you have to make a choice, do you want cheap? Do you want easy? Then you may not end up with anything that has very good image quality or ease of use. Do you want cheap, but don’t mind it being hard to use? Then you might be able to get something a little better looking, but be prepared for the learning curve if you’re not a pro already.

The DSLR dilemma

Many of the coolest looking videos coming out of churches these day were shot on a SLR – that is, a fancy photo camera that also shoots video – or a Mirrorless camera with the same body type as an SLR. DSLR stands for “Digital Single Lens Reflex” camera. The “Reflex” refers to the fact that the image you’re looking at through the viewfinder is reflected from the lens, through a penteprism to give you the most accurate image to what your camera is actually seeing. Recently “mirrorless” cameras have become a popular option; they remove the mirror and have an electronic viewfinder which gives the option of showing readout info over the image that wasn’t available to traditional SLRs. For the sake of this entry I’m going to group both mirrorless and SLR cameras together and refer to them both as DSLRs because they are mostly the same kind of camera. DSLR camera rigs usually result in amazing image quality, and can be relatively affordable but they can require some know-how to get them to look (and especially sound) as good as they can. There are a number of challenges with DSLRs:

  • Rolling Shutter – DSLR cameras have what’s called a “rolling shutter” this means the image is being refreshed from top to bottom instead of all at once (which would be “global shutter”) This effect causes images to distort when the camera is panned or zoomed quickly, or when something moves quickly past the camera, resulting in images that look like the one below. Rolling shutter is worse on some cameras than others. Most Nikon DSLRs have very bad rolling shutter, much worse than canons which is part of the reason most people won’t be buying Nikon cameras for video. The more popular cameras such as the Canon 5D, 7D, T2i (and higher), and the Panasonic GH4 have slightly better rolling shutter than most cameras, but don’t think that a higher price brings less jello-frame. Sony’s A7s which is in the higher end of this category has terrible rolling shutter, though otherwise it is a great camera. Rolling shutter can be easily avoided with the use of shoulder mount rigs, stabilizers, and good shooting technique, but it is a factor that pretty much all DSLR users have to contend with to some degree. VM_MakingMovies2_05
  • Sound – the issue with sound on DSLRs is basically boiled down to the fact that no DSLR-type cameras come with professional audio inputs. Many of them don’t have audio inputs at all. This is one of the problems that makes DSLR shooting quite complicated at times. The built-in mic is basically useless for anything but reference. If you use the on-board audio input you’ll still often end up with sub-part audio as it is not balanced and many cameras have an auto gain or noise reducing ‘features’ that actually make it worse. The most common way around this is to record using an off-board audio recording device. In the past few years there’s been an explosion of audio devices for this purpose; some of which even mount directly to your camera. After recording this audio you then have the added step of syncing your audio and video – a process that is thankfully now automated in most editing programs, but still takes time. zoom_h6_connections
  • Ergonomics – DSLRs are not intended for long walk and talk video shooting. As such it’s almost impossible to hold the camera steady without investing in some kind of rig that puts the camera’s weight on your shoulder. This adds to the price, sometimes offsetting the cost-saving potential of working with SLRs to begin with. Also these really don’t solve the issue that many of the buttons and features you’d like quick access to, are often buried in on-screen menus, rather than being available at the flick of a switch. Rigs are often a bandaid and none of them turn the camera into a shoulder mounted camera, they just improve slightly on its handling – which brings me to my next point…Dslr_Rig_Shoulder_Mount_RL_02
  • Rigs – as mentioned above, DSLR owners will usually invest in camera rigs that help with the ergonomics, but they often have to take into consideration mounting an audio recorder, a shotgun mic, a electronic view finder, a counter weight, a external video recorder, follow focus, matte box, tripod adapter plate, grip out riggers, top handles, cages to protect your camera, and a battery back to power everything. This gets very cumbersome and makes shooting much more complicated every time you set up and tear down.

Traditional video cameras come in two flavors: professional and consumer. While most retailers make the distinction of professional based on the audio inputs, I believe that a professional video camera should also either have 3 CCD chips or at least a 1/2″ CMOS chip. Anything less than that usually results in lower image quality than most pros would stand for. Pro cameras should also have removable lenses. By the way, if anyone ever uses the word “prosumer” (a mash up of pro and consumer) to describe a camera – don’t take that person’s advice, that’s what amateurs call their consumer equipment to make it sound better. Plus the stuff that usually gets called that is often the worst of both worlds; not great price, not great quality.

To get the same image quality out of a pro video camcorder will cost you exponentially more than a DSLR, but video cameras are far easier to use than DSLRs and you can get much better sound quality out of them without buying any external recorders. Many of the features that you have to buy to add on to DSLRs are built into traditional video cameras, such as electronic view finders, ND filters, and shoulder mount-ability. Higher end video cameras often come with lots of cool features that really give you that “wow” factor.

How much should I spend

As much as you can. That may sound frivolous, but I mean it. I’d say spend at least a dollar for every person in your church, but that should be a lower limit. Why spend money on cameras? Because we’re telling the greatest story ever told! When people see work that looks really low quality, they’re not going to take it seriously and poor quality doesn’t glorify God. At the same time I know we don’t have unlimited budgets so I’ve prepared a range of cameras from $500 to $15000 for you to look through.

So, what camera should I buy?

I’m going to give you a few different recommendations and I’ll be the first to say that these may go out of date, but I’ll also say that not all technology advances the way phones, tablets , and computers do. Many people still use the same cameras they bought five years ago and are happy with the results. Cameras tend to go in at least 2-5 year cycles, so if you buy a camera that is a newer model it will be up-to-date for around 3 years on average and could be functional for up to ten years depending on the model. (Unlike your phone which will be out of date next year or your computer which was out of date by the time you finished this sentence.) I’m going to give them a rating based on the four factors I mention above. The rating is on a scale of 1-10, ten being the best. I would like to clarify that a rating of 10 doesn’t mean that it’s the best there is, it just means that among the cameras that I’m discussing it’s among the best. So here are a few recommendations.

Bear in mind that this list is primarily for Field cameras, that is, cameras that you’re going to use out and about – not for recording services. If you want to record services, I’ve made a note of the two cameras on this list that will work for that purpose, but if you’re really wanting to knock that out of the park you’re going to have to drop some major coin on at least three cameras, a switcher, and several expensive pieces of infrastructure, so this list isn’t addressing that set up.

1 – The Cheap, and Easy option

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The Canon Vixia HF R series – Cheap, Easy, but bad image quality (especially in low light) and very few useful features.

Picture Quality – 1

Ease of Use – 10

Features – 3

Price – 10 ($400-$500)

I debated even putting this one on here, but often times I get asked, “what’s the cheapest thing you’ll recommend?” The Vixia series is the best consumer series of cameras. You can actually spend up to $2000 on a high end vixia, though I don’t recommend it as you can get a better camera for that price. The HF R series is constantly changing. At this point I’d recommend the HF R52, but really any Vixia camera close to $500 will be similar; very easy to use, very affordable. The image quality will be acceptable for many applications, but it will look like consumer video. Also the camera itself looks like a consumer video camera, so don’t expect people to take you seriously while you’re using this thing.

2 – The inexpensive, good image quality option

Screen Shot 2015-05-06 at 9.42.00 AMThe Canon T5i – Great image quality, Inexpensive, decently easy to use, but lacking in features like audio inputs

Picture quality – 7

Ease of Use -5

Features – 3

Price – 9 ($700 with a lens)

Canon makes a load of great consumer model DSLRs that do video well. The T5i is one of them, but really if you get a T2i or higher you’re getting basically the same camera with some minor feature enhancements. Its audio feature set is limited and options with frame rates are also limited. The picture quality is awesome in day light, but can get a little rocky in lower light situations. While it is easy to use for most, to take full advantage of the camera’s capabilities will require some knowledge. Having said that, it’s possible for an amateur to get a really good image out of this camera with a limited knowledge and some tutorials online. The biggest disadvantage is audio. If you’re wanting to capture audio, this is not your camera. You will need a seperate recorder such as a Zoom H4n or Tascam’s DR-40. Another disadvantage is the record limits. The camera can only record up to around 12 minutes at a time. Shooting film-style, this isn’t a big deal, but longer form programs make this camera useless, unless you hack the firmware with something like “Magic Lantern” that adds several missing features, but will void your warranty and could mess up your camera since it is a share-ware program. Also there are many features that professionals look for that won’t be included such as higher frame rates, zebra striping, or professional video outputs. To get this most out of the camera you’ll also want to spend more on lenses. The cool thing about buying lenses for the T series is that you can get glass that will fit higher-end cameras (as long as you get APS lenses and not APS-C lenses). Lenses (pros often just call them “glass”) are a good investment as they’ll outlast your camera and can be used across many different kinds of cameras given the right adapters.

3 – The Easy, good feature set option

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The Canon XA35 OR XA30 – Very Easy to use, good feature set, mediocre image quality, medium price

Picture Quality – 5

Ease of Use – 7

Features – 5

Price – 5-6 ($2000 for XA35 $1500 for XA30)

This is most often the first camera I recommend. While the image quality is not stellar, it’s still better than most consumer cameras. It has professional audio inputs (Two XLR plugs) and it has a decent size sensor. It also has professional exposure settings. While it is easy to use, it’s not stellar at anything – the price for quality is just OK, the feature set is only OK. It’s a very solid camera, but it isn’t an amazing camera. With no removable lenses and no high frame rate features, it gets the job done, but won’t wow anyone. Having said that, it’s more than enough for many churches and will give a boost in image quality and audio quality over other options, so in many ways its the closest thing to being better of both worlds, though it’s far from the best.

XA30 vs 35 – so what’s the difference between these two versions of the camera? (aside from $500) The 35 comes with professional HD outputs this is only necessary if you’re doing a multi-camera set up and live switching. I mention this because if you ever plan to do a multi cam set up in the future you should spring for the XA35 because it will leave you more flexibility for that.

4 – The low-price professional option

The JVC GY-LS300 and Panasonic Lumix G Vario 14-140mm – It’s got some cool features, pretty great image quality, decently easy to use, but it ain’t super cheap

Picture Quality – 7

Ease of Use – 4

Features – 7

Price – 4 ($2600+500 lens, $3100 )

Just to prove that I’m not a total Canon fan boy, I’d like to note that my first real professional camera that i’m recommending is a JVC. This Camera has the same size sensor as much higher end cameras. With professional audio inputs, it’s the full package. It also has removable lenses, but unfortunately JVC doesn’t make lenses so you’ll have to purchase a lens separately. Any of panasonic’s micro 4/3 power lenses SHOULD do the trick, but be prepared to return them if they don’t From the research I’ve done people say they work, but any time you’re working with two different brands, you’ve got to be flexible. With an adapter you can even make this guy take canon lenses and there are lots of options that open up from there, but if you want good cinema lenses Rokinon’s micro 4/3 lenses are pretty solid. It also comes with a shotgun mic and can be shoulder mounted out of the box. In some ways I’d say that this guy is the best for the money. It’s the most price/image quality you can get at this price point. This is another one where investing in good lenses is a necessity if you want to take full advantage of what you’ve got. Perhaps the greatest strength of this camera is that it will work well shooting live events as well as field work. The rest of the cameras below are great for field work, but wouldn’t really work in event production, especially in a multi cam situation. This guy (and the XA20 above) are really the best on this list if you’re wanting to capture worship services, especially if you want to do it from multiple angles, but that’s another blog entry.

5 – the cheapest way to 4K

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The Panasonic GH4

Picture Quality – 8

Ease of Use – 3-4 (depending upon what you add to it)

Features – 5-8 (depending upon what you add to it)

Price – 3-5

camera only ($1200, rigged out $3,500+)

Ok I do get questions about 4K – what is it? Do we need it? Should we spring for it? 4K is a standard that’s approximately 4 times High Definition video. It is absolutely not necessary and I doubt that it will ever reach the market saturation that HD has because it only really makes a difference if your screen is over 60 inches. It’s kind of a digital version of film (film lovers, please don’t get onto me for saying that) Why would you want 4k then? For a few reasons: Capturing video in 4k gives you lots of options in post with stabilizing, cropping the image to get a new angle, and having the highest possible quality and color info coming into the edit. It also does ensure that if 4k does take hold in the market you’ll have footage that’s ready for it. It also just looks great; if you can afford to go higher quality, why not? If you ever think you might want to show your work in the real movie theater I’d recommend shooting and editing in 4K, but if you’re wanting to get to that place you don’t need to be taking my advice, you need to be going to film school. One consideration to take with 4K is the fact that it does take some substantial editing hardware; a high end work station and fast hard drive to support the higher bit rates as well as some good monitors to be able to see all the detail.

6 –  The simplest truly high quality fella

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The Canon C100 has great image quality right out of the box, with a big sensor and a great feature set, but it is down right expensive.

Picture Quality – 8

Ease of Use – 4

Features – 7

Price – 3 ($6000 with lens)

Canon’s “C” series has some of the best cameras available, but all of them come at a price premium. This is the first camera on this list with a “Super 35” sensor. This is the largest sensor you can get short of “full frame” and if you’re getting really serious about your video I wouldn’t go any smaller than this. The C series cameras all have amazing image quality that doesn’t require much tampering with in post, but the cameras tend to be awkward to use ergonomically. With XLR ports and the ability to tack on canon glass, this guy is the littlest brother in the C series, but he is by no means a low end camera. The C stands for Cinema, so basically you’re getting a digital cinema camera. I should specify that in this case I’m talking about C100 NOT the C100 mk II which is a better camera, but also carries a $2k mark up. The original C100 is still in production as of the writing of this blog, but it may go out of production soon, in which case I’d still recommending seeing about getting one used or refurbished as it is mostly the same camera at a much better price.

7 –  The classic DSLR option

Screen Shot 2015-05-06 at 11.23.14 AMThe Canon 5D mk III – If you want just plain amazing video without having to work too hard, here it is.

Picture Quality – 9

Ease of Use – 3-5 (depending upon what you add to it)

Features – 3-5 (depending upon what you add to it)

Price –  2-4 ($3000 with a kit lens – $8,000 fully outfitted)

Here’s the deal: The Canon 5D is a truly amazing camera. Some would say it’s the best option. I have friends who swear by it. It will never be beaten in their eyes. Is it the best camera there is? Not at all. Does it produce phenomenal images? For certain. An episode of House M.D. was shot with nothing but canon 5D mk IIs. There are even shots in Marvel’s avengers that were taken with this guy. He’s a beast. He’s an amazing camera. However, without investing a considerable amount of cash in lenses, rigs, external recorders, and other features, you’re never going to get the kind of results that are possible with this camera. You can just spend $3k and you’ll get a camera capable of taking really great images, but to make this camera all it can be, you’ll need to spend another 2-5 grand.

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What makes it so amazing? It’s the first camera on this list with a full-frame sensor. Actually it’s predecessor, the Mark II was the first full frame camera capable of video that cost less than $50k. It started the large-sensor revolution in video cameras. Full frame means that it’s equal to the size of a 35mm film exposure. What that means is that it takes less light to get a clean, smooth looking image, it also means that it doesn’t take much work to get that really cool looking bokeh (the cool shallow-focus backgrounds we all recognize as a component of cinematic, professional looking images). Finally a large sensor allows for you shoot wider angles, so you can get those big establishing shots more easily.

What are the downsides?  The 5D cannot record more than 15 minutes without either hacking its software (using magic lantern) or adding an external recorder. For most film-style shoots this is fine because it’s very rare for a single shot to go on more than a few minutes, but if you’re trying to record an event, it’s a big limit. Also, as with most DSLRs the audio options are pretty limited and without hacking the software you’re stuck with an irritating auto gain “feature” (which can be disabled on the less expensive GH4) Also as with all DSLRs it requires a rig if you’re going to go hand held, as the ergonomics are not built for video.

8 – The best DSLR option

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The Sony A7sii -The best all-around if you’re going to go with an DSLR rig.

Picture Quality – 9.5

Ease of Use – 3-5

Features – 4-6

Price- 2-4 ($3.5K with a lens – $8,000+ fully outfitted)

While not technically an SLR (it doesn’t have a mirror) it retains the popular SLR form factor and is, in every way, an equivalent to or better than any other full-frame DSLR camera. To canon fanboys this may be controversial, but objectively the A7s is a better camera than the 5D if only for two reasons: the A7s has phenomenal low-light performance. The 5D has really good low-light performance, but the A7s can shoot in near darkness and still get a usable image without much noise. The other reason is that Sony has a pretty affordable add-on option ($700) that adds XLR ports to the A7s. The original A7s is cheaper than the A7sii, the main two differences are the recording capability and the stabilization. The A7s shoots in 4k, but only the A7sii can record in 4k on board. For the original A7s, 4K recording requires a separate recorder. The other difference between the the original A7s and the A7sii is the biggest downside to the A7s; it has notoriously bad rolling shutter, making it a poor choice for high-action shooting and almost impossible to use handheld without some kind of stabilizing rig. This is mostly compensated for in the A7sii by adding image stabilization to the sensor itself allowing for two-stage stabilization, both in the lens and in the sensor. This isn’t perfect, but it allows for much smoother images and greatly reduces rolling shutter. A small downside to both the original and the A7sii is the fact that because it is a Sony camera it uses Sony lenses (which are just ok) but again a lens adapter can allow it to use canon lenses.  As with all other DSLRs you can just buy the camera and the lens and start shooting with it, but to get the full use of this guy you’ll want to invest in lenses, LUTs, and other add-ons, which means that it is not very easy to use to it’s fullest capabilities.

9 – A truly professional 4K Camera with amazing features

Screen Shot 2015-05-06 at 12.23.23 PMThe Sony PXW-FS7 – A truly incredible camera, and a price that may seem high, but is low for what you get.

Picture Quality – 10

Ease of Use – 2

Features – 9

Price – 1 ($10,000 with lens $15,000 fully outfitted)

This is the camera that my current place of employment uses as our standard field recording tool. I love this camera. It features a super 35mm sensor. It records in 4k natively. It can take up to 4 XLR inputs (with an available extension from Sony) and is shoulder mountable right out of the box. Sony offers several great add-ons that enhance the already robust feature set of this camera such as adding professional battery mounts, 12G SDI outputs, onboard Pro-res recording, off-board RAW recording, more flexible rigging options and others. My favorite feature of this camera is the over-cranking. It can shoot up to 180 frames per second continuously resulting in really smooth slow-motion. It also can shoot in S-Log 3, which results in a really high-dynamic range image than can be brought into color correction and tweaked to look like film. To use this camera you need to spend a considerable time learning it, even if you’re a professional I recommend taking an online class to learn how to utilize this camera best. LUTs and color-correction would also be good to study-up on. This guy is not for amateurs or hobbyists. Canon’s C300 Mark II is in a similar category as far as feature set, but starts at six grand premium over this fella and doesn’t have any specs that rank higher. Canon fanboys will be angry at my for not including the C300, but to me it either needs to be full-frame or come down in price to have a place on this list.

10 – (BONUS) The One Peter Jackson Uses

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RED EPIC – I just wanted to mention the RED camera

Picture Quality – 20

Ease of use – 0

Features – 20

Price- 0 ($50,000)

RED is a camera company that was founded by the same guy who owns Oakley sunglasses. They have several camera models now, but the Epic is the one worth mentioning. It is what was used to shoot the Hobbit Trilogy among others. While digital hasn’t cought up with film, this is the closest it comes. It shoots in 5K and results in images that most people can’t distinguish from film. As far as digital cinema goes these guys are also very affordable even at their $50k price point. I don’t have to tell you they look good, go watch the Hobbit.

Lenses

Before I wrap this up I want to mention lenses for a moment. the best camera can’t produce great images without great lenses. Sony, Panasonic, Canon, and others each have their own standard of lenses. In addition there’s the PL standard which is used for cinema lenses. The option that is going to give you the most flexibility (both in price and in number of lenses) is Canon lenses. No matter the camera, you can find an adapter that will make your canon lenses fit to it. When you buy canon lenses make sure they’re full-frame or APS lenses not APS-C. This will give you more flexibility as you move up the ladder and generally these are going to be better lenses anyway. Rokinon makes a very affordable set of cinema lenses that result in some great images for an affordable price. On the higher end, Zeiss makes some great glass that fits canon which are just incredible. Whether you start with a T2i, GH4, or A7s I recommend investing in canon glass, because even if you eventually move up to a FS7, a C300, or even a RED EPIC, you can use that same glass on any of those higher end cameras.

Good Luck

Researching for a large purchase of any kind is hard work, and you always run the risk of something newer and better being released as soon as you purchase your new piece of equipment. If you have any questions feel free to comment below – I may have left something out, or I might be able to clarify it for your specific needs. Blessings!

Eight Ways to Encourage a Single Person (instead of the dumb stuff you usually say)

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We know you mean well, we really do, which is why you won’t hear people bringing this up, but many married people simply don’t know how to encourage a single person. This is a loving open letter from all us single people to all of our married friends asking for you to think about these statements from our perspective, but more importantly, offering an alternative for you to try out instead.

Don’t Say “It’ll happen eventually”

We know you’re trying to sound encouraging, but this one is simply a statement you can not back up. It might happen. It might not. Either way you don’t know. I’ve heard of Christian singles picking out their wedding date despite not having met anyone – because of people saying things like this. (It didn’t work out by the way.) Statements like this can come off as patronizing to any single person. To someone who is really struggling with loneliness, though it can almost feel like you’re mocking them, especially if the person speaking is happily married. Also, what if the person you’re talking to is going to be single the rest of their life and do great things because of the availability that comes with being single? Don’t assume just because you like them, or because they want to get married, they must therefore eventually find someone with whom they are compatible or that their highest calling is marriage.

Do say: “It seems like someone as great as you would make a great husband/wife, I hope it happens for you.”

This is what you really mean anyway. You can’t possibly know that someone is going to get married, but you can see that they have the qualities that would make a good spouse and most of us can accept that compliment more easily. Also it doesn’t set you up as some sort of marriage clairvoyant who, because of your own marriage, has secret marriage knowledge and is able to divine these things for other people.

Don’t say: “You should take (only eligible person around) on a date!”

I know in the movies it’s a common plot device that the guy or girl suddenly notices the girl or guy that he or she’s seen every day and realizes that she or he is who he or she’s needed in his or her life all along. But this is a far less common story in real life. In real life, if there are two single people who are around each other and they’re not dating, there is probably a good reason, the most common one being that at least one of them isn’t attracted to the other. That’s ok. Don’t freak out on “Bill” because he isn’t attracted to that super awesome cute “Linda”. There’s probably some guy like “John” out there who is having the exact same conversation elsewhere that is the right person for “Linda”. And likewise there might be another super awesome “Alice” out there for “Bill.” Don’t flippantly doll out matches, unless you’re prepared to do the counseling.

Assuming you have a healthy marriage, consider this: Imagine you had never met your spouse. Now look at the closest single person around and ask yourself if you’d date that person. It takes more than proximity to create a match.

Do Say: “How can I pray for you?”

People don’t say this often enough to each other period, but keep in mind that single people may not have anyone who says it to them on a regular basis. If you’re close enough to suggest a date, you’re close enough to pray. They may ask you to pray for them about taking “Linda” on a date. Or they may just say thanks.

Update: Had a person say to me they don’t like it when people ask this because it sounds condescending. Yes, out of the clear blue sky it can be, so let me add this: don’t be condescending. Sit and listen a while before you ask this and don’t make a big show over asking it – say it with the same inflection you might say “so what’s going on in your life?”

Don’t Say: “How do you feel about blind dates?”

I can answer that question now: they pretty much suck. Few people get excited about blind dates. The immediate emphasis is on appearance, which may not always be a person’s best selling point.

Do Say: “We’re having a party at our home on Friday, why don’t you come?”

If you want your single friends to meet, let them do it in a casual environment. Also, single people, especially in the church, are often left out of the gatherings of married people. How else can we see what a good marriage looks like if we’re not around them? Invite single people to events because they might need some time with a family to recoup and feel encouraged.

Don’t Say: “It happens when you least expect it/when you’re ready/God wants you to work on you/once you’ve found your identity in Christ then the right person will come along.”

None of these are true. I know many people who were expecting to get married in college and guess what? They did. I know a few older folks who never expected to get married and low and behold, they never have. I also know some single people that are more ready for marriage than some people who have been married for years.

Just because someone is single doesn’t mean that there is a deep spiritual cause for their singleness and that it must mean that God wants them to learn something and reach some sort of spiritual “next level” before they can unlock the “marriage achievement.” This isn’t a video game. Marriage is not some higher plane of existence that you can get to if you just try harder. Not everyone in a God-ordained marriage was “ready” when they tied the knot, and it certainly doesn’t mean that single people are automatically less spiritually mature. Again, we know you’re trying to be helpful, but these are not true.

Do say: “God loves you, spend time with him.” 

because he does and everyone should.  Single people do need to lean into God in a way that they might not always be challenged to do so. I’ve heard the question “What if marriage wasn’t meant to make you happy, but to make you holy?” I think that’s a great question as long as we believe that being single should offer the same challenge.

While this sounds cliché, it also has the benefit of being true.

Don’t say: “Enjoy being single because once you’re married and have children, you won’t know what you did with all your time.”

Maybe that was true for you. Maybe when you were single you sat around and did nothing all day. Me? I’m working 40-60 hours a week at my main job, taking freelance jobs and occasionally teaching as an adjunct professor locally. In my “free” time I’m working on an MFA in film and writing a series of novels for the fun of it. I also own a home that I maintain. I lead a small group. I cook. I blog. I train in mixed martial arts every week. I have a dog that I take on walks in the park. And yes, I do hang out with my friends a couple of nights a week and I watch TV. I do get to sleep in past seven a.m. many days and I have quiet dinners at home. But just because my life has luxuries that parents don’t have time for doesn’t mean I’m wasting all my time.

Do say: “You’d make a great mom/dad”

Personally I think this is one of the highest compliments you can give a person. I’ve often said that a person can’t pass on what they don’t have. To say someone would make a good parent is paying so many compliments at once – it says you’re a hard worker, that you’re selfless, mature, disciplined, principled, yet patient, humble, & wise. Also it might be God’s calling for that single person to get involved in a a mentor relationship with a kid who has an absentee parent, and you might be the person to encourage them to do that.

Update: I had some female singles say that this really depresses them to hear, so I’ll make an amendment: For single women who you really think would make a good mother, ask them if they have considered foster care. It may sound crazy, but if caring for children is something they’re passionate about, they might just be called to it and frankly it’s fulfilling the call of James 1:27 to care for the widow and orphan.

Don’t say: “You’re single, (therefore) you like to/don’t want to ________”

Every single person is different. Some single people hate being around little kids, but many are glad to help a young family out. Some single men don’t know how to cook, others are amateur chefs. At least once I’ve heard about a gathering of some married acquaintances to which I was not invited. When I asked about it I was told “You’re single, you don’t want to be around a bunch of kids.” Why would single people automatically hate children?

I’ve had several young fathers act as if it would be torturous for me to be around their kids. We don’t all hate children. Spending time with people at every stage of life is one of the easiest ways to get out of yourself and learn valuable life lessons. We can’t, as Christians, say that Children are gifts from God and the rearing and teaching of them as a part of a family and Christian community is of the utmost importance – and then say in the next breath that Children are a hindrance to Christian community. Maybe there are some single people who don’t like kids, but even if there are, I’d still invite them to hang out in hopes that they’d get outside of their own head.

Do say: “So hey, what do you like to do?”

Single folks who are new in town need friends. Couples at least have each other. Singles are, well single. Try to connect with us, make friends, find out what we’re passionate about. Invest in us and we’ll invest back. A single friend who is loyal is very valuable; they often do have more free time than friends who are married and they might even help you move next time you have to, just because they want the company.

Don’t say: “When you are married/have kids then you’ll understand.”

For one thing, they may never get married, and if they do they might not have children. For another thing, just because there was something in your life that you didn’t understand until marriage doesn’t mean that’s the case for all of humanity. Mother Theresa never married or had children, but she understood more about children and selflessness than most of us will. The Apostle Paul wrote over half of the New Testament. He never married; could you picture saying that to him? I’ve even had someone tell me that manhood doesn’t start until you have your first child. I think that must be true for some men who choose not to grow up until absolutely necessary, but if you believe that to be universally true, then you’ll have to explain to me how Jesus Christ managed to get through life without getting married and having children, yet we’re told he is our example of how to be human.

Do say: “Here’s what I wish I’d known when I was single…”

If you had some maturing moments early in you marriage or shortly after becoming a parent, then feel free to share them, we want to garner wisdom from wherever it comes, but don’t be shocked if maybe we’ve already learned the lesson you had to learn through marriage. God uses marriage to make us holy, but it’s not the only thing he uses. So share your knowledge, share your experience, but please be humble and don’t act as if it’s impossible that we know things that you don’t. I had a married couple with whom I’m close send me a link to a sermon series about being single and they said they’d wished they heard it before getting married. It was not only helpful to me, it was helpful in my relating to them as I realized what challenges they had overcome in their relationship.

Don’t Say: “Never get married/be glad you’re single”

The grass is always greener. Marriage is tough. So is being single. A healthy marriage will have it’s challenges, but if you have serious issues you shouldn’t be complaining randomly to anyone – you should be seeking counsel. Don’t assume that the single person you’re talking to is having fun all the time. Don’t assume that if they were to get married, their marriage will do the same as yours. Don’t mouth off about your lousy marriage. Get help. Yes marriage is hard work, but would you give it up? If so, you don’t need to be talking to us, you need to be talking to a counselor. Very few single people think marriage is perfect. Don’t forget, most of us had parents; it’s not like we’ve never seen a marriage up close.

Do Say: “I see God using you.”

This is a hugely affirming thing to say to anyone, but if you can highlight it for a single person it can be even more so. For spouses, and even more so for parents, there is a clarity of purpose that comes with the office. If you’re a husband your job is to love your wife as Christ loved the church. If you’re a mother your job is to bring up your children in the way that they should go. While these are hard tasks, you at least know what your tasks are. As a single person, we don’t have that kind of clarity automatically, so we’re often searching for it and searching for affirmation when we think we’ve found it. It’s easier to deal with the occasional loneliness of being single if we feel like God is using our marital status for his good. If someone else sees it, then it reinforces that feeling and is the kind of encouragement that allows us to keep on doing that thing. By this same token if you see a single person who isn’t serving God in a fruitful way, it might be for you to challenge them in a loving way to do something to get outside of themselves and search for that calling.

What I want to hear God say.

I always enjoyed watching Inside the Actors Studio when I was in high school. My mom being a theatre teacher, we always listened to actors pretentiously explain their craft while they were adored by the majestic James Lipton. I especially liked the length of the interview which allowed the actor to cover more ground than they might in a normal talk show. As much as I made fun of it, I did enjoy the show and I really appreciated Lipton’s love of performers of any genre and background. Every episode, no matter if he was interviewing Ian McKellen or Desmond Diamond, Mr Lipton ends with the Pivot Questionnaire. The last question on the survey was, “If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?”

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I hadn’t thought too hard about this because I basically knew the answer and I think many Christians would say the same thing: “Well done my good and faithful servant.” I’ve always identified with the idea of servanthood to a worthy King. I’ve rarely had trouble finding myself aligning with that metaphor for our role in Christ’s kingdom. But recently it came alive for me in a new way.

What’s Tom Hiddleston doing on my blog?

 

 I was recently listening episode of a podcast that featured an interview with Tom Hiddleston. If you know of Tom Hiddleston, it’s probably from his role as Loki in the Avengers movies. If you’re not a Marvel fan, you may know him from his role in Steven Spielberg’s War Horse. In this interview Tom talked about what it was like to work with Spielberg. The interviewer compared it to the scene at the end of Amadeus in which Mozart is dictating his final piece to Salieri. Salieri says that it was as if Mozart was receiving the music directly from heaven. Hiddleston said that watching Spielberg set up a shot was amazing. He said that he was a true master, but that the most amazing thing about him wasn’t his talent, his knowledge, or his creativity. The first thing about Spielberg that impressed Tom was how humble the great director was. Specifically, Tom recalled one scene in which his character was alone on camera. It was a scene that was especially difficult, emotional, and intimate. Spielberg dismissed the camera crew and asked Tom if it was alright if he operated camera. Hiddleston agreed of course. After the first take Spielberg had a few notes for him.  And Tom agreed and they moved onto take two. After take two Spielberg lit up and said that it was perfect and he started to move on. Hiddleston stopped him and asked if he could do a third take. Spielberg told him he didn’t need to, that the second take was good, but Tom pleaded with him and said that he could do it even better now that he knew what Spielberg was looking for.

 

They shot the third take and when it was done Spielberg just said, “Take two was pretty good.” He seemed pretty unconvinced. When they wrapped for the day Spielberg told Tom that he would be reviewing the footage this weekend and that he would let him know what he went with. The next Monday when Tom came to set, he saw Spielberg who simply said, “Tom, take three’s in the movie.” He proceeded to emphasize what an honor it was to have contributed even in a small way to the master’s work.tumblr_mjrgajYUcx1rqiulxo8_250

Everyone is Creative…yes really

I’m a strong believer that “uncreative people” simply do not exist. There are only people who haven’t discovered their brand of creativity. Some people are creative in their hospitality, other people are creative with financial management. Some people are creative with physics and chemistry, other people are creative in their encouragement. Not everyone is artistically creative, but everyone is creative in some way. How you choose to use that creativity will determine the focus of your life.

So my question is: are you settling for take 2 – just doing whatever is the “right thing” to do – or are you asking for take 3? Take 3 looks like a group of medical professionals donating their time to people in their community who can’t afford healthcare. Take 3 looks like men who choose to spend their retirement building wheelchair ramps for people with disabilities. Take 3 looks like  a successful TV director going to work at a Christian school so he can ensure there are skilled Christ-followers in the entertainment industry. Take 3 looks like a college student who spent his saturdays teaching impoverished children how to sing Christ’s praises. Take 3 looks like a husband who doesn’t hesitate to give his wife a kidney. Take 3 looks like a family adopting a child when they already had two, three, or four children. Take 3 looks like empty nesters making themselves available for foster and respite care. Take 3 looks like a teenager taking his free time to lead a small group of his peers. Take 3 looks like a young man who starts a non-profit to support an orphanage in africa. Take 3 looks like a church that starts a free clinic in their community. Take 3 looks like people who take a day off to help build a house for people who need a fresh start. Take 3 looks like a father picking up the pieces of a shattered life and doing the hard work of teaching his daughter what he was never taught by his parents.

What I want to hear God say.

So for me, as one of these creative people, I just want to know that I’ve been able to contribute to the master’s work. I want to hear God say, “Will, take 3’s in the movie.”

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