I’m back from my week in Charlotte! I meant to write this post this past Sunday or Monday, but life has been a little “crazy busy” catching up, and it’s taken me a while to get back into a “normal” swing of things.
What a FANTASTIC week I had in Charlotte last week! Most of you know me, and you know that I am usually very excited about God’s Work, but–WOW–I don’t think I have been this excited about it before in a long time! In so many ways things are moving in such a manner that it seems clear to me God is behind some wonderful things in His Work. It wouldn’t be my place to talk about anything Dr. Meredith is still approving which are still a few steps away from completion (even if I thought it was awesome!), so I won’t. BUT, I can talk about…
The Live Online Tomorrow’s World presentation. Yes, I know that there were a few technical glitches (if anyone thinks it wasn’t live, they don’t know how the Internet team was scurrying around like busy little bees taking care of the glitches as they happened!), but, still, wow!
I admit, I am a little envious. Dr. Meredith was really able to cut loose on that broadcast! On the telecast, we have to consider a number of factors given the vast breadth of the television audience and the limits of the station producers of various nations. For instance, Canada’s restrictions can be a real pain in the neck when it comes to preaching the truth, and all four of us on the telecast have to be wise like Paul in Athens and smart in our approach. It’s not that we can’t preach the truth, yet–we can, but we simply have to do it with savvy and with a mindfulness of our medium. Every medium has its mix of powers and limits, and someone using that medium must keep those things in mind and adapt (something Paul was good at). That’s one of the things I like about the live in-person Tomorrow’s World presentations I have been able to do: Really being able to cut loose in a manner that you can’t on television.
And that’s a great thing about this live Internet presentation. Dr. Meredith just cut loose! It was fantastic to see, and I can’t wait to see more live, online presentations. It’s hard to know for sure, but based on connections and registrations, we believe that more than 7,000 people who do not attend with us in any way saw that live broadcast and many of them requested literature from our website. It seems like a brand new world opening up to us in this way, with this being just the first peek at grander vistas to come. Very excited!
The Tomorrow’s World Broadcast. Here’s the other thing I can talk about from experience without preempting anyone, and, again, WOW. (Yes, I know I am using “Wow” a lot, but it’s a hard exclamation to beat. Maybe when I’me feeling more energetic I can come back and edit this to have more variety. Or maybe I can invent another one. Suggestions welcome!)
I had the privilege of taping two new broadcasts this past Thursday, and it was an absolutely fantastic experience. We’ve been working with some consultants on the broadcast recently, and last Thursday was the first chance we’ve had to tape programs with the consultants’ input. The content was all exactly the same as I normally create (My apologies to those who hate our content… HA! Just kidding! I love our content and make no apologies!), but we are upgrading our taping technique in the studio, and we’ve added two new cameras, upgrading from one to a total of three (also a driving factor in talking to some consultants).
Our fantastic crew has been hard-pressed in recent days learning new things and new techniques, so when we taped on Thursday, our first time out of the gate after beginning to learn all of this, we used only two of the cameras to keep the stress level manageable. If the fact that I was not able to get my scripts done quite early enough to plan the blocking for a full three cameras was a factor in only using two this time out, they were all kind enough not to tell me! But, really, it was a lot of new work to learn the two camera environment, so three will be more work, still, and I’m glad we got to get our feet wet before jumping in to the deep end. The end we were swimming in was deep enough as it was!
And I think the smiles on all of our faces after those tapings were wonderfully telling! It was simply fantastic. It’s amazing how even small choices add a dynamic quality to so many shots, and working with the jib (our movable camera on an arm) was a lot of fun. As I mentioned to my congregations this past Sabbath, I was fairly giddy for sometime afterwards–simply a terrific day on the set! We have always striven to make sure that the set, the editing, the graphics, etc. complement the power of the content, and I have been–and continue to be–very thankful for the talented and dedicated people we have on our crew who work hard to make that happen to the limits of our ability. But what we’re doing now is pushing the limits of that ability to new places, and it is a real challenge but, at the same time, wonderful to experience! I know the crew had to be stressed in the days and weeks leading up to Thursday’s tapings–if they weren’t then they wouldn’t be human. (And I know they are human. We ate some wonderful homemade Sri Lankan food between tapings that day, and I did, indeed, see them chewing and swallowing like we humans usually do.) But to see all of their hard work and “learnin’ curve climbin'” come together like that was incredible, and I think that getting to experience the first tastes of the fruit of that hard work showed on all of us. Personally, I know I was walking on air for quite a while afterwards, and I was already thinking that I cannot wait to get back to Charlotte to tape more programs.
All of them really stepped up their game, and I hope I contributed what I could to their fantastic work. Again, my thanks to every one of our amazing crew–including Mr. Ciesielka, who has helped get many of these elements together–and to our consultants, who are proving a wonderful help. I can’t wait to see the results of our highly experimental first day, let alone what we’re able to do when we get used to the new opportunities that have been opened to us. New graphics, new cameras, new techniques, but same powerful message–it’s a good day to be a part of the Tomorrow’s World team!
BTW: I did feature one of our new cameras–the jib–in a recent Tweet:
It’s not the best picture since it’s at an angle, so the length of the arm gets lost. I routinely referred to it as an animatronic dinosaur or as “the robot”, but not to disparage it–mainly since (1) the jib is my new friend, and (2) I really, really wouldn’t want to get it angry.
I should add that the consultants we’re working with seem like wonderful folks. They didn’t mind at all that we wanted to pray before the taping and they put up with me and my on-set hyperactivity with smiles and good attitudes, which was probably quite a chore! And, wonderful or not, they are great at what they do, and I’m happy to be learning from such capable professionals.
So, in so many ways–some I’ve mentioned, but others I will wait until they roll out–it seems like the Work is really at an amazing tipping point. AND as I was walking around, talking to folks behind the scenes like Mr. Ames and Mr. Ciesielka, it seems powerfully apparent that God’s fingerprints are all over this forward motion. (I would say “Wow” again here, but I have used up my quota for the month. If anyone has some Wows to spare, I will try and pay you back next month.) Not only does it have me jazzed like nobody’s business, but it also humbles me to the point that I keep asking myself repeatedly: If God is enabling us to seriously step up our game in so many ways, am I really up to that?
It’s an important question. On one hand, to be sure, being “up to that” means focusing on professional development and increased production. Can I improve as a presenter and a speaker on the telecast? Not “can I” as in “is there room for improvement”–that’s a little (painfully) obvious! But can I actually do it–can I actually do what is necessary to improve my scripts in quality and design for greater impact and have them ready much earlier for better pre-production work, for instance? Can I step up in my magazine contributions, as well? Yes, there is all of that.
But on the other hand–the bigger hand, if you will–the question really presses me spiritually more than anything. God is preparing to do amazing things, and He is quite capable of raising up stones to be his vehicles for doing those things. Yet, we don’t want Him to have to do that–we want Him to use us right? So where are each of us spiritually in our walk with God? Unlike so many other professions out there where the world wants to focus on competence over character (think of the defenses of President Clinton’s appalling behavior during the impeachment drama), we know that with God it is the other way around (cf. 1 Sam. 16:6-7). For instance, I know that I cannot separate my role as a husband and father from my role as a telecast presenter, since if I fail to fully heed God’s commands related to the former roles, I risk reducing the freedom God has to use me as an instrument of any sort in the latter role. How we respond to Christ’s desire to live in us and to obey His Father’s commands through our lives directly impacts our ability to be the Church we need to be for Him to do the things He seems to be providing every indication He wants to do!
This leads to my excitement about the coming fast Dr. Meredith has asked for. Not that I am a fan of going hungry (obvious to anyone who knows me), but it is just a reminder to me that Dr. Meredith has our priorities right.
I had a chance to talk to Dr. Meredith in his office this last week a little before he and his executives met and decided to call a fast. He explained to me that with all of the success we are seeing–the Work “leveling up” (my video-game inspired words, not his!) in so many ways all of a sudden; the humbling unity we’ve long experienced now in the ministry, in the Council, and among the leaders at Headquarters; the doctrinal solidity we’ve enjoyed under Christ’s leadership–we don’t want to take anything for granted, since we know that Satan surely does not like the way things are headed for us. The devil hasn’t been able to break us in these things–unity, zeal, doctrine, etc.–but that doesn’t mean he can’t get to us in other ways. For instance, in 2012 we inexplicably enjoyed incredible income while the country continued to experience a downturn, but it has been lower the very first bit of 2013. While this isn’t necessarily unusual and is easily explained and, to a certain extent, very understandable given the financial state of the U.S. and the world, it does remind us that we never want to take God for granted! Also, while things have been amazing from the perspective of what God is doing through us, we don’t want to take for granted that we are worthy of these things and that we are immune from faults of character. We cannot risk “letting our hair down” spiritually (as he said in his announcements) and neglect our personal character development–an error that is always easy to make when things have been this good for this long (cf. Deut. 8:11-18).
Again, we’ve been blessed with a remarkable unity and stability–especially given the age we’re living in. So many organizations in other places have been rent, fore and aft, by disloyalty and politics or confusion and lack of unity, and we simply haven’t. Some few have left over the years here and there–a characteristic of this age to be sure–but their impact on God’s Work has been virtually, and remarkably, nothing. Nil. Nada. Over the years, some individuals, ordained and not ordained, have begun their own “works,” all to no avail or effect (delusional boasts notwithstanding). It has been, and continues to be, a remarkable time of significant unity and faithfulness to sound doctrine.
But as wonderful as all of those things are, we are all still frighteningly human. What good is doctrinal unity and zeal if one’s character is flawed and vulnerable? Satan is constantly on the hunt, and while he hasn’t been able to distract and divide us in terms of our leadership and ministry, we are–every one of us–personally vulnerable to his devices in the ways that all humans are vulnerable. What kinds of husbands and wives are we? How do we respond when a brother or sister disagrees with us? Are we selfish or selfless? What entertainment do we allow ourselves, and how does it compare to the desires of God for us? Etc., etc., etc.
That’s why I am thrilled about the coming fast: because it reminds me that the Living Church of God is focused on exactly those things it should be. We don’t want to simply be “doing the Work.” We want to ensure that we are striving to be worthy of that Work. Not that anyone can truly be worthy of that Work, but we must always strive to be so. What a difference that attitude makes! And that is the attitude I see in the Church, and in its leadership. Dr. Meredith, Mr. Ames, Dr. Winnail, Mr. Wakefield, Mr. Hernandez, Mr. Weston and so many others — consistently, I see men and women who long to be what God would have them be to give Him maximum freedom to do His Work in us, and it is uplifting almost beyond description. Perfect people? Of course not. But people seeking the mind and desire of the One Who Is Perfect? Yes, that’s what I see. And that’s what this fast is all about: making sure that at this crucial time we do not take anything for granted and that we are all, individually and collectively, drawing closer to God.
So, I am excited and encouraged. The Work is growing in power right in front of our eyes, and it is thrilling to see that from the blessed “behind the scenes” perspective I get to experience. The unity we continue to experience is humbling. The leadership we have in place continues to impress me with its maturity, rapport, and spirit of “one accord.” And the Work is increasingly becoming well-positioned to accomplish amazing things, seemingly by God, Himself. But one thing remains and will remain until our Savior returns: We’re still human beings, and, as such, we are all potentially “weak links.” I can speak as passionately and eloquently on the telecast as I want (for the sake of argument, please pretend I speak eloquently), but if I am failing to be the father I am supposed to be, or the husband I am supposed to be, or the neighbor I am supposed to be, or the brother I am supposed to be, I cannot pretend I am not harming God’s Work, because I am. That is true for all of us. And I walked away from my conversation with Dr. Meredith understanding that to be the reason for our coming fast–a reason that has only grown more powerfully convincing as I have meditated about it, further. And the fact that Passover is rushing toward us makes this seem, all the more, like an inspired decision.
Jesus Christ is clearly rolling up His sleeves and preparing to do some astounding things. That seems abundantly clear to me. And recent events make it just as clear that He would like to be able to do those things through us. It may be that we could never be truly worthy of those things, but may we always be found striving to be so.