Psalm 24:1 “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it.” A few days ago I posted about how Billy Graham leveraged the cutting edge technology of his day (television and radio) to get the gospel out to billions. Pastors back then felt that Hollywood was the devil’s domain, and didn’t want anything to do with it. But Billy Graham knew that the earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it. He felt we had to use every tool on this planet to fulfil the great commission. Fast forward and many church leaders’ views on Hollywood haven’t changed a whole lot. Silicon Valley is also known to be one of the least churched zip codes on the planet. But the earth is the Lord’s and everything in it. I’ve seen God doing some amazing things in the Valley, and I believe He’s using technology to bring a billion new believers into the Kingdom within this generation. That’s why I got so excited when my friend Chelsea recommended that I watch The Chosen, the first multi season series about the life of Christ. It’s also the largest crowd-funded media project of all time. Their goal is to reach a billion viewers, and they’ve already gotten 117M under their belt! Instead of streaming to Netflix, they decided to create their own app and distribute the show for free. This allows them to get complete editorial control of the content, which they felt was really important for a project like this. Studio execs are notorious for prioritizing mass appeal over “truth.” It also allows the project to reach a broader audience since not everyone especially in developing markets has Netflix. Finally it allows them to leverage their viral hooks and build crowdfunding features directly into the viewing experience. Wow… Billy Graham would have been proud. Jesus would have been proud. Jesus IS proud! Looking back on the project, it makes perfect sense that something like this should have existed a long time ago. The creator, Dallas Jenkins, said something to the effect of “We watch binge worthy shows about stuff all the time. People get obsessed with them. But why isn’t there a show about Jesus that’s worth binge watching? More than anything else, Jesus is certainly worthy of our obsession.” If you haven’t checked it out yet, I’d really recommend watching. It’s definitely binge-worthy, and a hint of how God is using tech and media to get a billion new believers. You can find the link below. Lord, everything in this world is yours. Thank you for giving us permission to use all of it for your purposes. Thank you for your goodness and for your love. In Jesus’ name, Amen. https://watch.angelstudios.com/thechosen
Psalm 118:5 “Out of my distress I called on the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me free.” I’ve spent four out of the last five weeks in quarantine, and was very blessed to the see the light of day today. So I felt God leading me to meditate on freedom and what that means in the context of my faith. The Psalmist in today’s verse proclaims that the Lord set him free as translated in the English Standard Version. But the original Hebrew translation is closer to “brought me into a merhab” or “wide, roomy, open space.” I guess it’s natural as I go from a confined space to more open space, I feel a sense of freedom. But then I’m reminded of a missionary friend who was imprisoned and tortured in North Korea. In the midst of what seemed like his demise (he was given the death penalty at one point), he sang hymns of praise and showed Christ-like love to his prison guards. He did not let the close quarters confine him, because his freedom came from the Lord. By the time I came to visit this friend, he had set up a school that had educated thousands of North Korean students. At a dinner banquet we sang Amazing Grace together with North Korean communist party members. Freedom doesn’t come from circumstances. True freedom comes from God’s love and a transformed heart. And as I head back into worldly freedom today, I feel reminded to focus on what really matters. Lord, thank you for speaking. Thank you for a very blessed trip, and thank you for a blessed return. I want to keep my eyes upon you and you alone. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Luke 1:37 “For nothing will be impossible with God.” My friend gave me a call the other day asking for some counsel. He had a bit of a rough patch with his company, and I think that led to a bit of a rough patch with God. He didn’t go into detail, but I sensed there was a bit of anger, disappointment and hopelessness, which is natural. Thankfully by the time we spoke he had gotten into a better place. We talked about his situation, and at the end of the call, he asked me “Hey John. How can you be so positive when your dad has cancer?” So I replied “Well what you believe is a choice. And there’s a lot of research out there that shows if you believe good things and think good thoughts, then good things happen to you. It’s why top athletes visualize themselves winning competitions. So if I can choose to believe in a loving and all-powerful God, who always has the best for me, why wouldn’t I?” Even if you wanted to engineer from scratch a system of thought that helped get positive outcomes, I don’t think you could come up with anything that beats what I objectively believe to be the truth. Jesus came, healed the sick, cast out demons, fed 5000, raised the dead, then told us that we’d do even greater things than these. Meditating on that sure beats some visualization exercise. God always challenges us to have more faith, not less, because he wants the best for us and coming into line with what is true helps drive better outcomes in our lives. Lord, I love you and I praise you. Thanks for being such an awesome God. Thanks for inviting me into a greater faith today. I come into alignment with the truth. Nothing is impossible with you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.