2013: Hits, Misses & Marks

Jogyakarta, Indonesia

Jogyakarta, Indonesia

It’s December 31.

They say you’re supposed to reflect on the previous year every New Year’s Day –  January 1. But I decided to hit the goal early. That’s a Forrest for you; We’d be early for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ!

What to make of 2013? Well, for sure, tremendous travel. So many airplanes, airports, hotels, countries & continents. Lots of speaking and teaching. 16 trips in all, 9 of them international. In some ways, it’s been a blur. Hopefully, a memorable one.

Yet, much deeper than the travel & teaching, there are issues that truly concern me: So many pastors & leaders needing to gain a stronger vision of the immense importance of media. Less focus on buying equipment or being a slave to busy ministry calendars. More emphasis on raising-up young communicators & visual storytellers. Greater followthrough, commitment and perseverance.

May your YES be YES. Your NO be NO.

If the Church is going to send out more gifted “Bezalels” (Exodus 31) to create art, affect culture and share the Gospel of Jesus Christ through film, tv, video & media…today’s church leaders (both near and far) need to step up with much needed funds, adequate resources and renewed dedication. Time is wasting; Our world is shaped through media.

Here’s the good part (professionally): Taught 1,184 students and participants in 27 media workshops, classes and seminars. That doesn’t include preaching (yes, preaching!) to over 6,500 congregants in the Congo. My late father, Gene, would be proud. The 2 Sunday services at La Borne Church in Kinshasa really rocked. What a joy & privilege to speak & share. (Thank you, Murielle Friedman!)

In our workshops we had as few as 8 (Orlando, FL), as many as 80 (Honduras). So many great students and coordinators. (Thank you Dorian, Stan, Rhoda, Lito, Ibis, Lester, Marcus, Jose, Arnold & Luis.)

But some countries – especially Puerto Rico – remain a baffling mystery. Scores claim they will attend our seminars, then never show up. Their loss. The great people who showed up? They received strong, inspiring media teaching. The more I traveled, the more I witnessed a far too casual attitude of “teach me to be a famous filmmaker – for free.” Really? You want to be famous for free? Better re-think that request.

Mediocrity is easy: Excellence is hard.

Professional training and education are always solid investments (never expenditures) in your own creative (artistic, organizational, technical) gifts, talents and skills. Let’s leave it at that…

Doctoral Graduation

Doctoral Graduation

One monumental life achievement: In June, I  received my Doctor of Fine Arts degree in Redemptive Filmmaking from Kingdom Seminary in Edinburg, VA. It was an incredible THRILL to wear the doctoral robe and walk through graduation. Words cannot express my feeling of accomplishment after so much hard work and effort to be conferred with a DFA. Thank You Dr. Rebecca Murray & Dr. Matthew Pandel for your tremendous vision, support and help!

Three academic institutions showed a sincere desire for me to teach their communications students. The School of Media @ Charis Bible College (Colorado Spring, CO) twice booked me to teach film & tv production principles to their third year students. It’s been an absolute joy to meet up with Stephen, Jeff & Autumn each semester.

Out-of-the-blue Regent University (Virginia Beach, VA) has shown interest in my becoming an adjunct professor. I hope to teach a concentrated Documentary Production class there next Fall 2014. Looks promising. Very special thanks to Richard Klein & Andrew Quicke.

Closer to home, Concordia University (Irvine, CA) has just brought me on as a regular adjunct professor of communication. Lots of potential with this remarkable Lutheran university perched on a gorgeous bluff overlooking Orange County. I start next week teaching Writing for Broadcast Media. Next Fall 2014 I’ll teach American Cinema. None of this would have been possible without the sage guidance of Dr. Martin Schramm. Thank you, Marty.

On a small but personal note, I unexpectedly changed cars this year. My green 2003 Saturn Vue was given over to Rebecca’s parents, Ed & Rosa, who had lost their spiffy Chrysler PT Cruiser to a car accident a few months ago. (They’re okay; their car wasn’t.) Rebecca & I have just purchased a small, reliable 2010 (well respected) European sedan @ a very fair price as our Saturn’s cool replacement. I’m absolutely thrilled. Nice wheels; smooth ride.

What else for the New Year? Well, hopefully, a bit less travel with more media seminar speaking concentrated during the summer months between semesters. More university teaching, perhaps full time eventually. And…more creative consulting for churches and ministries.

Let’s say good bye to 2013 with the inspiring words of the late Corrie Ten Boom: “The measure of a life, after all, is not its duration, but its donation.”

The past 12 months sure felt like an immense amount of donation. Let’s see what 2014 brings.

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