Monday, June 23, 2008

The New Plan - Part 6 of 6: Listen

Series: The New Plan
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6

I believe this part will pretty much take care of itself if the other aspects are in place. When you're at peace trusting God, resting in Him, waiting and walking, you will hear His voice.

John 10:27 (NASB)
"My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me;"

As I mentioned before, all steps need to be bathed in prayer. It's a vital part of it all and can be the the start to each part and all parts together.

Much of the actions and benefits of my implementing the new plan aren't measurable. A few things I've done...

- made my time w/ God a higher priority
- put the videos online for people to watch for free
- spend less time "running the business" (marketing, emailing, strategiaing, etc.)
- spend more time writing, animating, etc.

Noticeable differences to me...

- more peaceful
- enjoy the work more
- more productive
- more traffic and sales on the site
- more contact by others for partnerships and licensing opportunities
- more contentment in where things are and where they will go
- less worry/stress about what will happen and what I need to be doing
- more confidence that I'm "in His will" and being obedient to what I'm called to do
- more fun!

These posts are not meant to be a complete and thorough investigation and study into these topics, but more of one perspective into what I'm thinking and feeling about these areas. I believe the 5 areas (Trust, Rest, Wait, Walk and Listen) build on one another, but that wasn't planned at all - that's just the way the 5 areas were revealed to me as I wrote a line in a letter.

To boil it all down, it's all about your relationship with God. Make Him first and base all of your contentment on Him. He won't let you down. The creator of the universe is big enough to be the center of yours.

Focus on Him and you'll find that you can be content by just your relationship w/ Him. The results of your efforts won't be important, but your obedience will be. You won't strive to just be doing things or trying to please Him b/c you'll realize you need to be obedient in what He's called you to. You'll thrive on your walk with Him; your time w/ Him. That spiritual food will call you back and be what satisfies you most. And He'll speak to you when you're ready for Him to use you.

God bless you all!

Friday, June 20, 2008

The New Plan - Part 5 of 6: Walk

Series: The New Plan
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6

So what do you do while waiting? Walk...

John 15:5 (NIV)
"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

So "remain" in Him. Spend time with Him. Walk with Him.

The Navigators have a Wheel Illustration that demonstrates crucial items of the Christian life: God's word (comes down from above), prayer (goes up), fellowship and witnessing both go to the sides (other people). Those are certainly important areas to a walk with God.

Mark 12:30-31
"The second is this, 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.' There is no other commandment greater than these."

Simple, but not easy.

I think this post will be short b/c a) most of us know how to "walk", but we let a lot of "junk" get in the way and b) if you can get the previous aspects down (Trust, Rest and Wait), I think Walk will be self-evident.

To continue the analogy of the father-and-son, imagine a simple walk. What are you doing: communicating is the picture I get. Typically involved with that is the father imparting wisdom and lessons to the son ("What's that? Why? How does that work?", etc.). That time and communication allows the son to be formed by the father and there's growth and fellowship and guidance.

So we can trust the Father to do what He says and that it will be good whatever it is (He's big and good enough). We can rest in the Father that He'll take care of the results from what we do (we sow seeds, He rains). We sd wait on the Father until He calls us to do something (no need to make stuff up to do, enjoy). And we sd walk w/ the Father to be conformed to His image and heart (we walk and talk).

Spend time with Him and make it a top priority. What in life is more important? It's what everything else in your life is about! Besides, if you don't have this in place, what good will anything else be?

(Part 6 or 6 will be posted on Monday)

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The New Plan - Part 4 of 6: Wait

Series: The New Plan
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6

I really am trying to make these entries shorter...

Ephesians 2:10 (NASB)
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

So what has God called you to do? Certainly there are general callings like "make disciples of all nations" and "do not forsake the gathering with others." There are certain general obediences we all need to be doing, but beyond that, what has He called you to do?

I find few people out there that really feel they are "called" to do something. Yet they often are running around doing a lot of things "for God."

But as the verse says, we're prepared for good works which He prepared beforehand. It's like there are things God will have us do... when we're ready. When we're ready to be used. And it won't be the crazy, frantic, panic work that we get burned out over...

Isaiah 40:31 (NASB)
Yet those who wait (hope) for the LORD
Will gain new strength;
They will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary.

It will be in His strength:

Philippians 4:13 (NIV)
I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

But until you're "called" to do something, I believe the "general" callings are what we need to be responsible to and not look for other things to be doing. As Phil Vischer shares in his book ("Me, Myself and Bob"), Noah "walked with God" for hundreds of years (some debate about when God told him to build the ark) and only then was he ready for God to use him. And boy did He use Noah!

For the father-son example, if that father tells the son to do some chores, he sd do them, but then if he says to take the rest of the day for himself, he can! Enjoy that time, do what you'd like, but don't necessary try to guess what the father wants, etc.

So trust and rest (see previous posts) by putting God first and then wait.

What to do while you wait? Walk (see next post).

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The New Plan - Part 3 of 6: Rest

Series: The New Plan
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6

What in life really changes when you worry about it? We know worrying does no good, but we still do it. We're human, but we need to still struggle and try.

1 Peter 5:8 (NIV)
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Building on the idea of trust (previous post), we can trust that God will take care of the matters out of our hands. We plant the seeds (obedience) and than pray for rain (that's up to God).

Do what you can, pray and leave it up to God. I've taken to writing emails, but not doing a ton of follow-up (except out of excitement or to make sure the person got the email). In most cases I figure, I sowed the seed and I'll leave the rest up to God.

Like the guy who kept praying to win the lottery and finally God had to say "Well, at least buy a ticket!"

Resting in Him for paying for our sin is one thing, I'm talking about the day-to-day.

Luke 12:28-30 (NASB)
"But if God so clothes the grass in the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, how much more will He clothe you? You men of little faith!
"And do not seek what you will eat and what you will drink, and do not keep worrying.
"For all these things the nations of the world eagerly seek; but your Father knows that you need these things.

How much should we worry about how we'll take care of ourselves? Our family?

Sure, it's a concern and a responsibility, but, for me, I don't think I know anyone that has had to resort to homelessness or other extreme situations. If I lost my job today (which is realistic), God will provide. Again, in reference to the last post, He's big enough to do it and good enough to care about me.

He even said in the above verse that He'll do it. Do I believe Him? Can I trust Him? Will He do it?

I did a few things after the Chicago trip that started The New Plan. They were all pretty much going against with good business wd tell you. However, since then, sales have gone up and I have had more opportunities to partner with people, discuss broadcasting licensing, etc.

I believe when I stopped trying to run my business, God was able to step in and do it. It's like if someone cut me off on the road and I did something in vengeance, God now can't really do anything or He'd be endorsing my anger, pride, judgment, etc.

My actions were probably preventing Him from blessing my business. I'm called to make videos to minister to kids. If running a business is necessary for that, ok, but I'm not called to "start a media business."

So if we can trust Him to be big and good enough, we can trust Him to take care of us. Moreover, that He knows our heart.

Psalm 37:4
Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Whether that means He will grant you your desires or places desires into your heart, it doesn't really matter. I believe the end result is the same.

Seek Him and life will be amazing. If He's calling you to do something, do it, but leave the results up to Him. Sow the seeds, pray for rain.

I'll try to provide an analogy like the father-son-swimming-lessons from the Trust post. Imagine if your father setup a trust fund for you. Though you had no idea how it worked, he said it would provide money for the rest of your life.

You cd go get a job or not - either way you cd not make any more or less money. He told you to write books or be a farmer or teach yodeling lessons or whatever. So you didn't have to worry about how well the books sold, your purpose was to write them.

What results are you worrying about that are really up to God?

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The New Plan - Part 2 of 6: Trust

Series: The New Plan
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6

I don't intend to do a radical exegesis on the text or a thesis paper on the concept. I'll let the Spirit lead you into anything further. I hope to simply make the core point: we can trust Him.

Matthew 8:26-27 (NASB)
He said to them, "Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?" Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the sea, and it became perfectly calm.
The men were amazed, and said, "What kind of a man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?"

What kind of a man was He? He was God. He calmed the winds and the waves. It took no effort, just His words. And that's child's play to Him. He spoke the universe into being. You could spend a quick 10 minutes just meditating on how big, powerful, omniscient, etc. God is and only scratch the surface.

So first we need to believe that God can do whatever He wants. Believe that?

Romans 8:28 (NASB)
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

But do you believe what He wants to do is good? Does He use even the "bad" things for good?

We need to be mentally in agreement with these things, but also live them out practically. Can He catch me if I fall? Will He catch me if I fall? If He doesn't, can I believe He has a better purpose for that too? Can I accept that even if I never see how and why?

A father teaching a son to swim will often stand in the water and have his son jump to him. The father can catch the son. The father will catch the son. The son still has a hard time jumping (often times). The father says things like "Trust me. I will catch you."

As the child, do we trust that God can catch us? Do we trust that He will catch us.

The concept of the father not catching the son doesn't follow this example b/c the father said he wd catch the son. If he intentionally didn't, that wd be lying. What might work is if the son had a life jacket on and fell into the water and the father waited to grab him to show him he cd trust the life jacket. I'm not endorsing that, but just trying to show the point.

So can the God that created the universe with a word, calmed the wind and the waves, sent a fish to swallow Jonah, flooded the earth and sent his Son to die for our sins able to do what He wants with your life too? Is He big enough?

And does He love you enough to do what is good? If He sent His only begotten Son to die for me, I think everything else is small in comparison and removes any question that He's good enough.

Unfortunately, it's the big issues that sometimes seem the most clear in this sense. Is He big enough to cure her cancer? Is He big enough to give me a baby? Is He good enough to want a mate for him? Yes.

But the "smaller" issues tend to hang us up. And not so much on the "can He" area, but in the "will He" area. Will He let me get this job? Will He let me get this house?

Of course, if the answer is "No" the more complete answer is "No, I have something better." Can we believe that? Is Romans 8:28 true?

If I talk to a network about airing Booples, can I trust that if they choose not to that it's for the best? Yes! If I talk to someone about partnership that seems like it would mean the world to me and it doesn't happen, can I trust He's in control? Yes! If Booples crumbles completely and all is lost, can I trust that my relationship with Him makes all the difference in my life, that I can be 100% content with life in Him alone and that He's still infinite and nothing can be added to Him? Yes!!!

He is big enough. He is good enough. Put Him first and not only will you find peace and contentment in Him, but the rest will feel like gliding instead of like breaking rocks with your head.

Matthew 6:33 (NASB)
"But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you."

Wow, this turned out to be MUCH, MUCH longer than I intended. I hope you made it this far!

Monday, June 16, 2008

The New Plan - Part 1 of 6

Series: The New Plan
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6

I blogged before about the Conspire Conference I went to several weeks ago and how I had some revelations during that trip. I'd like to outline some concepts that I'd like to try to live by. I'm calling it "The New Plan" which is always a bad name. I may come up w/ a better one later.

I intend to blog several entries on the various concepts (5 at the moment) over several days so check back. I'll give a quick overview here...

The concepts:
Trust - Is God big enough and good enough to trust?
Rest - Can He take care of my day-to-day worries?
Wait - What has He called me to do?
Walk - What do I do while waiting to know what to do?
Listen - Be listening for His voice to know when He calls you to something.

Prayer must bath it all as well as being a part of "walk."

It doesn't spell something cool or have 7 points (number of completion). And really, the words simply popped into my head (from the Spirit) as I wrote a letter to a friend. I'm trying pretty hard not to make it "catchy."

The first part (on Trust) will be tomorrow.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Industry Giants - Part 4 - Day 2

Part One Here

The second day was more of keynote addresses versus smaller sessions of the first day. Technically, the second day was "Industry Giants" and the first day was "Master Classes."

Saturday (the second day) was sessions starting with Johnny Gibson (digital effects supervisor for Digital Domain on "Speed Racer"). He spoke on "Speed Racer" some, but then presented nicely on the history of special/visual effects. This was very cool to see the early days and creativity of effects.

David Schaub presented again about the creature development for "I Am Legend." Originally they were going to use actors in makeup for the infected people, but they cdn't get people to be as "all out crazy" as they needed to be. He showed some great material on their development.

Farhez Rayani (senior lighting technical director at Rhythm and Hues for "The Golden Compass") presented on the amazing work they did on the ice scenes for that movie. Again, too great to see the breakdown and build up of those scenes.

Piyush Patel did a brief presentation for Digital-Tutors.

Mike Anderson (supervising director for "The Simpsons") represented the 2D world very nicely with humor, technical perspectives and great insight for his show including their Universal Studio's ride and video game.

At the end they had a panel discussion to talk about how each got into the industry, their inspiration, some favorite work, advice, etc.

For each presentation this day, it was SO cool to see the breakdown of scenes and hear the explanations about how they made their decisions and motivations, etc. It was also cool to see some behind-the-scenes stuff for these movies.

Related info:
The Texas Film Commission presented and gave info on the Dallas Film Commission, Texas Motion Picture Alliance, the Moving Image Incentive, Dallas Producers Association, etc.

It was great that it was local and cheap to attend. I enjoyed seeing the feature film side of things and hear about what's going on. Mike Anderson even draw a picture of Homer for me (he's a director now, but started out as an animator on the show).

I look forward to going again next year and maybe even some events by a bunch of short guys who organized it.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Industry Giants - Part 3 - Alan Chan (lighting and compositing)

Part One Here

Alan Chan, Senior Technical Director at Sony Pictures Imageworks, spoke on lighting, rendering and compositing.

Unfortunately, a lot of this was over my head. Above that, there were technical difficulties about half way thru his presentation that took a while and I wound up needing to leave before he finished.
As with David Schaub, he used a lot of examples from his work ("Beowulf") which was very cool to see the before and afters, etc.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Industry Giants - Part 2 - David Schaub (expressive eye animation)

Part One Here

The second session was with David Schaub, animation director at Sony Pictures Imageworks and he spoke mostly in his work with "Surf's Up" and "I Am Legend."

He was teaching on animating expressive eyes which I've been very interested in and he started with some interesting science.

He showed images of brain development in embryos and how the eye forms as an outcrop of the brain. He shared the perspective of Richard Williams and how the "soul is revealed with the eyes." He also pointed out how even with animals, eye contact is always automatic. Even if something else is happening (e.g., shaking hands, fighting, etc.) eye contact is maintained.

Also, he pointed out a study that states 93% of communication is non-verbal. He breaks down that 93% as 38% voice quality (tone, pitch, etc.) and 55% body language (and he believes 35% is eyes and 20% is body cues).

He split out eye animation into several parts...

1. Shapes: directional and emotional
2. Movement: vergence, vestibular, pursuit & tracking and saccadic
3. Blinks (be purposeful: 80% top lid, 20% bottom)

Other points:
- eyes lead the action
- blinks synced w/ eye movement
- head follow the eyes

Eye Cues (this is TOO cool): NLP
The basic break down is: people look to their left for recall. They look right for construction.

For recall (left), up is visual, middle is audio and down is inner dialog. So when you're trying to remember a painting, you'd look up and to the left.

For construction (right), up is visual, middle is audio and down is kinesthetic (emotion, textile). So when trying to imagine how a song would sound with a different instrument, you'd look right and neither up nor down.

It was an amazing session and probably my favorite of the conference.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Industry Giants - Part 1- Intro and Rita Street

I went to the Industry Giants ( conference this weekend and was able to see a side of the industry I hadn't spent much time with: feature film production.

I went to various sessions on effects, animation, pitching, etc. I'll post about the various sessions here starting with the session with Rita Street on pitching.

Rita Street ( spoke on Friday morning about pitching your animated concept. She spoke a lot on the perspective of the industry and the various changes going on now. It seems some key things are a move away from the Flash style of animation and a move toward teenage characters (led by "High School Musical" and "Hannah Montana" - the "Halls and Malls" idea - school halls and shopping malls: that's where kids "live" so relate to that).

Some key suggestions she had were...

1. Watch (at least) one cartoon a day. This helps see what's going on and keeps creativity flowing.

2. Have lots of ideas - you never know when an idea will meet what the industry is looking for or when you'll need another idea in a meeting for some other concept.

3. Determine good inspiration for your work

4. Learn how children think, react, learn, etc. ( - parenting link - list of cognitive resources)

Other good resources: Kidscreen and Cynopsis (enewsletter).

She also spoke a lot on pitching. Some highlights...

1. Pitch the hero
2. Non-episodic
3. Develop the hero (write their journal, etc.)
4. Have character quirks
5. Describe characters in "Like the time..."
6. Make your movie poster.
7. Have a very tight log line.
8. Show, don't tell - big pics, few words

For the pitch itself...

1. Have fun
2. It's ok to say you're nervous
3. Goal: get a second meeting
4. Explain, don't read
5. Take criticism well

And while a lot of take centered around seeing where the industry is and where's it's going, she had a great piece of inspiration from Carl Banks and about how they didn't make their comic books for kids, but for themselves. It's great to have the best of both worlds - enjoy it!

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Stepping Stones Church using Booples this Summer

Stepping Stones Church of McKinney is using Booples videos for their children's ministry this Summer!

Last week was the first week and here's some comments from the leader, Angela, about how it went:

The 2-5 year olds loved it. It held their attention and they loved dancing to the songs. The teacher of that class used some of your lesson suggestions. They did the treasures in heaven segment. Being they see things so concretely I was amazed that they caught on to what is a treasure in heaven. She'd ask them, are clothes treasures in heaven, is obeying your mom a treasure in heaven -- and they'd answer correctly.
I love the shortness of the segments as it supplements our teaching but does not leave the kids glued to the TV for a long time.