Jesus plays video-games, reads fantasy, watches sci-fi movies, and goes to Comic-Con {and you should too}

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Growing up, I would often hear a couple titles constantly ascribed to me; things like “out of the box” and “imaginative” (most likely synonyms for “a handful"). But what they ultimately meant was I had a curiosity for life, and a wonder that reached beyond the mundane of the every day. Very little interested me more than stories, which naturally lendded itself to me spending my hours inside my own mind wandering the fantastic lands I would hear of in books, fighting the battles I would see in movies, and taking on the image of leading a life within a story of epic proportions. The books, films and games I would find my self caught up in, each told a story of a place more beautiful, epic, and grandiose than the one I currently lived. Filled with thought, beauty and whimsy they invited me into the magical tales they were weaving in my heart.

So now fast-forward fifteen years as me and my newly found adventure-partner (wife), climb into our ship (car) and head to something magical called Wonder-con. I had always wanted to go, but had never been able to for varying reasons such as time/money/schedule. So, as we landed in the land of Wonder-con (Orange County) and began to walk into the Wonder-con stronghold (convention center), I could feel the boy within me begin to fill with the magical excitement of entering a beautiful and epic story.

Wonder-Con is a convention held every year where thousands upon thousands of fantasy, sci-fi, superhero and all-around story lovers- convene to hear, see, taste, and touch the newest and most beautiful stories being told.

It is a place where you can walk booth to booth doing things like picking up swords, to playing the newest RPG video-game, to (my favorite) seeing up-close the beautiful works of original art and meeting the artists who brought them to life.

All of this, not to mention getting to witness the countless Cosplayers (people who dress up as their favorite characters) dressed in their handmade, intricate and beautiful costumes- making walking by a Storm Trooper, Aragorn, a Transformer, or even Superman something that falls in the realm of possibility. It’s a place where people have discovered and loosed the gift of their imagination upon the world. A place where people have realized the power of story and let its beauty effect, transform and invite us into a world beyond ours.

So naturally, as I walked past the miles of food-trucks closer to the convention center, my anticipation only rose. That was until we came upon the doors to the convention center. It was there I saw something that squelched my excitement.

There, in front of us and the thousands of excited story-lovers were a group of men and women dressed in kaki slacks, tucked in white shirts, a countenance of mild destain on their face, and large black and yellow signs in their hands that read “Sin brings God’s wrath” and “After death, the judgement” and the one that caused my heart to sink the most “Repent! and believe in Jesus”

Now at this point you might ask what it was that made me so upset upon seeing these devout followers. After all I love Jesus with my whole heart, and I do think we (all) should repent and believe in Jesus. But it was less the words on the signs that bothered me, and more the context and way they were being throw at people.

Hear me out... Here you have thousands of people, each one are story, art, beauty, and imagination lovers. All at the same place to give to and draw from the beautiful energy that each of these aspects can bring. And as they walk into something so beautiful, they are immediately confronted words representing Jesus, in a, guilt producing, fear inducing, people separating, coldly uniform way, and ultimately ugly way.

I don’t know about you, but this deeply bothered me. It bothered me because the “truth” they were espousing about my Jesus was the opposite of the message he gave his life to tell.

The Jesus I know is the teller of stories and the dreamer of dreams. He is the Jesus that told us of a beautiful land we were destined for should we follow him. A land leaving John desperate for words beautiful enough to describe this place after seeing only a glimpse of it.

(Revelation 22:1-5)

The Jesus I know, is the artist who every night paints the sky with the very colors the imagined into life. He is the Jesus that hand crafted all of nature with it’s intricate beauty in flowers, trees, animals, mountains, crystals, eyes, storms, water, and all living things.

(Psalms 19)

The Jesus I know, is the master story-teller who invites us into a new narrative of life, adventure and overcoming. He is the Jesus that’s helps us and gives us the chance to tell a more beautiful story than we ever could on our own.

(Ephesians 2:10)

So when I saw those people there, standing back to the the convention, yelling, judging and condemning... My heart sunk because I so desperately wanted everyone there, to know the Jesus I know.

I couldn’t help but see of the irony of a group so desperately trying to get the most creative people in the world to respond to Jesus, in perhaps the most uncreative way possible.

But it got me thinking... What would happen if: When we begin talking to the people who best love stories, beauty and imagination... We, instead of communicating fear and guilt, we start introducing them to the author, artist, and dreamer, of story, beauty and imagination? I don’t know, but I would be willing to guess, that maybe, just maybe some of these story/art/beauty lovers might actually want to know the creator of story/art/beauty.

So, today if you do know God, and want to share him with the world, perhaps start by showing the beauty of the God we follow.

And if you DON’T know Jesus, know this: God is the original storyteller, master artist, and the one who perfectly designed you with the desire to share in his pleasure. And he wants YOU- NO MATTER who you are, where you’ve been, or what you’ve done to join in the story of EPIC proportioned He is telling.

--

PS

I am so excited to announce I will be acting in a new Sci-Fi feature film - Keep an eye out for more details soon!

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The Mind Behind

Screen Shot 2014-07-22 at 3.16.43 PM Even if we forget the beautiful design we live in, and ignore the staggering complexity and balance all life. That still doesn't touch the question of why there is something (matter) instead of nothing. Why does anything exist at all?

Well...

Imagine walking on the street and by chance you come across a beautiful painting (use your imagination). What you would most likely NOT say is "Wow what a cool coincidence that all that paint, and a frame fell together so beautifully".  Instead, you would say something along the lines of "Who painted this, and put this here?". Logic would lead you to believe that something of it's apparent complexity and reason- HAS a reason. That the art you see had an artist.

Chance had little to do with it...

Now, lets take you; a self aware, complex person, with the ability to reason and think. Wouldn't it be logical to assume you were created with those faculties by a creator WITH purpose and thought?

Lets take science on a whole. A system of laws we so desperately lean on for answers. Wouldn't the logical conclusion of the frame work of "laws" be a law giver?

As you journey through this day, I challenge you to observe the order, beauty, function, and ultimately intention woven into everything around us. And as you do, challenge your self to ask if maybe just maybe behind all this design there could be a designer...

City of Prodigals [first OFFICIAL trailer for Confessions of a Prodigal Son]

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TtNHYvTW0PE?rel=0&w=560&h=315]

"I can remember coming to LA- poor, passionate, and ready to live my dreams, but what I soon found out was this dream was hard, and didn't come as easy as I thought. I began to look around me and see others, who like me, came here to Hollywood looking for something, but ultimately found disappointment and heartache in not being able to satisfy the hunger in their souls whether they achieved "success" or not. I began to notice how lost and hurt so many around me were, and I began to realize that the city that promised, to so many, the fulfillment of dreams and desires- Was in reality a concentrated gathering of the broken and hurting looking for "more". I realized that instead of living in The City of Angeles, I was living in a City of Prodigals. I had my own long nights, weeks, months, years, when I thought giving up on following god would be easier and maybe it would've been. But as I continued, even through the hardest times to try my best to follow Jesus, I began to find that the dream I had come here to find was slowly being replaced with a bigger and better dream than I ever could have imagined. Until, one morning I woke up, and felt a tug from God on my heart, to get up and write. I didn't know what to write, so I asked him, and like a light coming on above my mind, I realized it had to be the prodigal son story, because Jesus has an interest in bringing the prodigals home. So I sat down and took the story Jesus told from the bible and mixed in with my experience in a modern world and long story short, we will soon have Confessions of a Prodigal Son. A story I hope will touch many, and maybe just maybe, call a few prodigals home."
 
Today is the OFFICIAL release of the first teaser trailer with actual footage from the film! If you believe in the dream that God placed on Nathan's heart to love, redeem, and call the prodigals home- the watch, be inspired and share with others.
 
Make sure to "LIKE" the COAPS Facebook for all the up to date news on the film: https://www.facebook.com/ConfessionsOfAProdigalSon
And Visit the website for more information and materials being posted soon: http://www.confessionsofaprodigalson.com/

Counterfeit Grace

20140520-084310.jpg And now that the provocative title has you here, let me explain- Gods grace: is beautiful and perfect. Our grace: is a cheap knock off of the original. And until we take on and ingest the true article, we cant know the all consuming, life changing, beautiful design of God's perfect gift.... So, how do we find this grace when so many counterfeit graces exist?

Well let's start where we all must.. Realizing our darkness.

Until we realize how dark our shadows really are, until we realize how broken and disgustingly-destructive our rebellion and sin really is, we can never know to the full extent the beauty of the a saving and loving grace that Jesus offers us so freely.

So often instead of staring our darkness in the face and calling it what it is- we justify, explain, and excuse ours and others sin. Saying "there's room for this or that" "it's not that bad" "it's just what culture does, it's okay". Then when we are confronted with our sin, we say "grace is all I need" wipe our hands and carry on business as usual... But in doing this, we are not actually living in the grace we claim we are. Instead in doing this, we abuse, contaminate, and make light of the gift if grace that was given to us-not to excuse our bad behavior but instead empower us to change!

Jesus came and died to bring a new Kingdom to earth, a kingdom that is here to redeem, remake. But also a kingdom that is here to destroy the painful, destructive power of sin and the brokenness we've allowed it to have over us. I think in our minds that Jesus simply came to say -

"never mind, don't worry about sin anymore, you're all good, so do whatever you want and 'grace' will totally cover like whatever"

But if you look at what he really said in his words and life was (paraphrased)

"I have come to give you a new way, a perfect way. Leave your old self behind and find who you were made to be in me, and yes I know that your not perfect and will fail, that's why I died for you, so that anytime you cannot do it, it's on me... But you still have to try and work everyday at forsaking your flesh and the destructive things that you have allowed you rule you, and move towards me and the beautiful, living Kingdom I have come to establish"

When we "get" and grasp this, and hear what Jesus was truly saying, is when we actually realize the depth of his love and the meaning if his sacrifice. When our darkness in confronted by his light. We can no longer live in the shadows cheeping his beautiful creation of grace he gave us out of love.

When Jesus kneeled down to a woman he had just saved from stoning for being caught in the act of adultery, first he told her that he had forgiven her sins and no one could accuse her... BUT then he tells her something else "go and sin NO more."

Isn't that how Jesus deals with us though? He kneels down with love and gentleness next to us as we lay in the ruin of our mistakes, then he forgives us extending his beautiful and amazing "grace"... So often we think this is where the story ends, this is all that needs to happen, Jesus forgives us and that's it... But wait that's not where the story ends. Jesus then helped the woman up and said "Go... And sin NO more". What!? Did you see that? Jesus doesn't just leave us there on the ground, with forgiveness only. Instead, through His strength, He lifts us to our feet and gives us a command- First to "Go", to do something, to make an action and begin to change. Then to "Sin no more", to leave the old behind and to STOP the things that brought us to the ground in the first place. Jesus doesn't just forgive us, He does one better, He sets us on a new path and invites us to leave behind our dark and begin walking into his light... So we see that grace isn't the allowance of our sin and acceptance of staying on the ground, but instead it is the empowerment to even through our mistakes continue walking on towards the Kingdom Jesus has invited us into.

God says "I am Love" Jesus says "if you love me obey me" and "I am the way the truth and the life". Let these remind you that grace is not an acceptance of your darkness but an empowerment I walk towards light.

I See God In You

photo by Fady Habib We were made in the image of God.

Let that sink in, don't just hear it, then release this truth- ingest and let it become apart of you. The designer of the cosmos who holds galaxies in his hands made you, me, and us in his very image...

When we realize this about our selves, something amazing happens; we begin to see worth and infinite value that we have in been made with, not because we made it so, but because the great Mind designed and gave it to us. Allowing us to share His very image, in heart, soul, mind, and body.

And after we realize and see the intrinsic, and intentionally placed value in ourselves, we begin to see it in others. We see the very image of God in EVERYONE around us; be they black or white, rich or poor, man or woman, strong or weak. We suddenly see the value we all were created with by the master creator... It's a value that something like status, money, class, education, race or sex could never hold a candle to when trying to asses someone's true worth... How could they? How could any sum of money match the infinitely-beautiful and powerful image of God that lies upon us all, and is woven in to our very humanity.

The more we know God, the more we know his image, the more we know his image, the more we see it in the ones around us. And as we do things like racism, classism, ageism, sexism, bigotry, and hate slowly disappear, into the recognition of something greater- into the realization and recognition of the image of God is on ALL of us. The separations of the natural, give way to the inclusion of the super-natural, knowing we all bare the image of God.

So go, and begin to see the image of God in you, and the ones around you, the ones you love and the unloveable... For even when you were unlovely, God -the creator of the stars- saw not your brokenness but instead the value he had placed upon you, and gave his life so you could know just how much you are really worth.

Let

20140504-054540.jpgGentle light finds it's way through through the ancient tree's arms- as finally, like a Pollock, it falls distorted upon my LA apartment building. The Burbank mountains begin to stretch and spread their arms south and north, ready, come what may. And I sit here, shirtless and still, waiting, and watching as all parts of nature each with its unique voice, acknowledges their creator. And through them he shines.

Let us turn our faces to our creator and let his light fall upon us.

The Dance of Love and Truth

20140428-111959.jpgCelia and Julian

It was the second to last night on our honeymoon cruise. We sat in the large theater awaiting another fun show, but as the lights dimmed ushering in the nights entertainment, we suddenly found our selves in an experience beyond our expectations and the simple adjectives we had been ready to ascribe the entertainment. Suddenly a single spotlight appeared on stage, and there bathed in the soft blue light came one man and one woman. The woman thin and elegant, walking with grace and beauty. And the man thick with muscle and striding with visible strength and confidence. Then, with a hushed audience on the edge of their seats... the music began and pulled the two performers into a beautiful, skillful and exhilarating dance. We watched with held breath and pounding hearts as the dancers/acrobats moved skillfully to the epic music, perfectly juxtaposed in a performance and he and his trained strength lifted with ease his partner as she balanced with skill and beauty upon his hands, both of them complimenting the other.

Love and Law, Grace and Truth- these conflicting ideas are concepts at the center of so many us who desire to make the world a better place. But how? How could two seemingly opposite ideas be found so often among the same kind of people- people who desire to help and see a difference made for good?

All to often I think we separate something God designed to be served together. I think as humans we have a tendency to grab one aspect of God's beautiful design/nature and run with it leaving others behind-But, understandably so...

When I see and feel the deep, real and ever-present pain, and hurt in the world, I look to God and ask for love. And when I realize I cannot do it on my own after failing yet again I ask "God please give me grace" and he does. But not the way I think it will be.

But then when I stand back and see the the atrocities of violence, depravity, and injustice in the world a tightness in my chest begins to squeeze and I feel a (what I believe to be) a righteous anger well inside of me and I again look at God and cry "bring justice here! Take down the evil and vindictive and immoral people who seek to destroy and cause pain and selfishly fulfill their carnal desires at the expense of others, sometimes even in your name! God bring your truth to their lies!". And He does, but not the way I think.

When I think of how strongly I have felt these two seemingly conflicting ideas, I can't help but wonder if maybe all to often we discard a part of God's nature, that we simply understand or want less; whether that be love or justice, truth or grace, mind or heart.

God is the creator of everything, a master-artist, and choreographer of the dance between love and truth.

Apart from each other (dancing alone) these concepts are either weak or perhaps un-beautiful- but together combining their skills and gifts, the stability of Truth can elevate and give strength to Love, as Love makes the foundations which she rests upon more beautiful.

I know there is a tendency to want to embrace only one side of the dance (truth or love, law or grace, justice or mercy) but what would happen if instead of taking one a leaving the other we learned the steps god has created for both and joined into the dance that was made to change the world when carried out in the perfect unison they were designed with.

~ I would love to hear your thoughts, and even examples of how you've seen these different aspects working together. And I'd love to hear your thoughts on the subject on a whole.

The Waiting Room

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The air is dry and stale and hangs still in the space, I look around the room I have become all to familiar with; Its cold blank walls stare back at me, and remind me of how long I've been in here. On the other side of the room is the door I wait to enter.

A few scattered chairs lay around, acting as remnants of the people who have come and gone into the next room. I had been under the impression that I was here first, and had my name on the list before the several individuals who have somehow come and gone in before me... But for one reason or another, here I sit, still.

I have been dreaming of what's on the other side of that door for years now, and now I sit so close and yet so far. I am kept from my dreams only by what seems to be a thin door, needing only permission from those in charge to pass through.

I pick up an old magazine and mindlessly flip through it's torn pages, while thinking of the people I have witnessed pass through the door and into the room I so desperately want to be in. I wonder if it's something about them specifically that got them in. Maybe it was their beauty, skill or personality that ushered them into the coveted room. I turn the magazine page to a perfume ad where a very fit couple -making a striking and intimate pose- stare at me from the thin paper. I begin to wonder if it's me, If instead of some people being let it in because of who they are, perhaps I am being kept out because of who I am. Maybe my resume is to small or wasn't formatted correctly, or perhaps they found out about that thing that happened last year I hoped no one ever would, or maybe they inexplicably realized I'm not as good at math as I told them I was. Or maybe they somehow saw who I really am.

Whatever it is, I think it's time to give up. I toss the magazine back onto the table beside me and slowly stand up. I look one more time at the door that now seems so impossible to pass. I put my hands in my pockets and with a final deep breath, turn and begin to walk out.

Then suddenly "Nathan"

Startled, I swing back around, and there next to the door -I had so long waited to open- is another door... It's smaller than the other one and the finish on it looks worn, but there it stands none the less. I don't know how I hadn't noticed it before, perhaps I had been so focused on the entrance I thought I was supposed to go through I hadn't noticed the one right next to it. The new door was cracked open, presumably where the voice came from. I paused shortly, then answered.

"Yes?"

"Where are you going?"

"I uh... I have just been..."

"Come on in"

I hesitate briefly, looking back at the door I had been so sure I was supposed to go through, then look back at the open door beside it.

Why Aren't You Living The Story You Were Made To Tell

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God has not placed dreams, passions and gifts on your heart to be ignored. He has placed them on your heart to be realized.

God has a story to tell, God has a story for YOU to tell! You need only let Him.

But the unfortunate thing is, so many will live and die never having known the sweet, fulfilling, beautiful-taste, of living the destiny God has for them. 

How can this be? How can God have individually designed each of us with loves, passions and gifts for so many to miss the story they were designed to tell.

Could it be because all to often we say things like...

"If I had enough money, I would..."

"It would take a LOT of work and dedication, and I just don't know it I am ready to commit..."

"I'm scared"

"What if I fail?"

"What would other people think"

"That's not what normal people do"

Whether you have said these things out loud, or heard them whispered in the back of your mind. You must silence the noise and hear only the voice of God ready to narrate the story he has created you to tell. But to hear his voice, you must listen.