Contentment in the Court of the King

Contentment in the Court of the King

I was late and had run to my college dorm room to grab a book for my next class when the landline phone rang (no cell phones back then). He said his name was “Phil” and he had a couple of tickets to a concert that weekend and did I want to go? When I heard the name of the rock band performing, I couldn’t say “yes” fast enough. But I was in a desperate hurry and told Phil to call me back with the details and quickly hung up. As I did, a sinking feeling suddenly hit me.

I had gotten to know a Phil during college registration day, and it was only after hanging up that I realized what I had done. That wasn’t the Phil I knew. He was a different Phil! I had sat next to another Phil at a chapel service the week before, and it was that Phil who called! Horrified, I turned to my roommate standing there and said, “Oh no, I think I’ve just accepted a date with a guy I don’t know.”

Little did I know this blind date would be my forever husband, my prince, and the love of my life. God knew it, and I believe orchestrated my lack of attention to insert Phil Cooke into my life. (more…)

Technology: Changing How We See Things

Technology: Changing How We See Things

I remember seeing my first augmented reality (AR) movie years ago. It was a Michael Jackson ride – Captain EO at Disneyland. But somehow, it didn’t have the same effect on me as the one I saw at the Sundance Film Festival years later. The first ever AR documentary produced, Cane Toads: The Conquest, brought to life an invasive amphibian species in Australia. They were swarming the country, killing dogs and cats, and literally covering the ground by the thousands. There seemed no way to stop them. With AR glasses on, we sat in the theater and had frogs pop out at us. We were jumping out of our seats! It was just a little too real for me.

Today, we’ve gotten more use to it. AR is rapidly becoming the choice of escapism. Movies and TV entertainment have matured, and our appetite to immerse our minds in another reality is growing.

We think about virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) differently. 

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Leadership and Love and Why Nehemiah Had the Winning Formula for Today’s Culture

Leadership and Love and Why Nehemiah Had the Winning Formula for Today’s Culture

I moved to Los Angeles in 1991 to work in the Hollywood film and media industry. The community of believers working in the industry was hidden and suffering from an onslaught of protests done by well-meaning Christians who felt that the programs and content produced in Hollywood in movies and on TV were immoral and evil.

However, there was a remnant of dedicated Christians working in Hollywood. We felt a calling to be here and work within the secular industry and do so with love, care, and excellence even if we had to work in the shadows. God has always left a remnant of His believers to bring light and hope in dark places when others have chosen to run away. As Hollywood industry Christians worked on the many challenging stages, production studios and in offices, things began to change.  Relationships were established and rebuilt on the foundations of love and care. Nonbelievers saw Christians as talented, hard-working professionals willing to go the extra mile. They didn’t fall apart when disruptions and challenges happened but instead loved and cared about them personally. The walls of mistrust fell as caring relationships were built. Many began to see God for who He was – a God of love, peace, kindness, and accepted Him into their lives as “The Author and Finisher of their faith” (Hebrews 12:2). There are now Bible study and prayer groups firmly established on studio and production lots and communities of Christian industry leaders who are changing the landscape within Hollywood.

Christian industry professionals began by choosing to pray. Over the years, their numbers grew into multiple groups of writers, musical artists, students and women’s groups who came together to learn to be leaders of God’s love. Most importantly, these groups allied together and stayed connected to the larger community through events like the National Day of Prayer, the Biola Media Conference and other significant community events.

We saw our individual job placements in the industry as more than just a paycheck. We saw ourselves as God’s lanterns of light and His salt of the earth. We labored to rebuild the walls of love, hope, and friendship. Through the efforts of many groups like the Hollywood Prayer Network, Master Media, The Influence Lab, and many others, Christians in Hollywood have become a large, vibrant and active community that is respected and trusted to intelligently and gracefully engage on moral and cultural questions without condemnation.

It was how Nehemiah led.

Nehemiah prayed and then rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem in 52 days when others had failed. The walls he built were for protection, but they were also necessary to create a united faith community. Nehemiah understood he was an enslaved person within a foreign culture (Hollywood’s culture is often alien and not agreeable with Christian values, morals and beliefs). Yet, he became a trusted and mindful leader. His account of the journey of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem is a book to be studied for all Christians wanting to rebuild their communities where God has placed them. His leadership is a lesson on how today’s Church – the body of Christ needs to lead in a world that disdains the word “Christian” because of its history and past poor leadership practices. Just as Nehemiah did, Christians working in the Hollywood industry recognized that it must start with prayer and personal engagement with God and those they work for and with. It begins with building individual relationships at their places of work and learning to be compassionate, mindful leaders.

How do we lead today in Hollywood and the world?

We continue to love, care and live authentic lives. I love what U.K. evangelist Canon J. John says, “None of us have it together, but together we have it.”  First and foremost, it’s about how much we care, because people don’t care how much we know or what we believe until they understand how much we care. “

Each person in Jerusalem rebuilt their personal wall first. They accepted their leadership role and rebuilt their relationship with God one stone at a time. Then, they physically rebuilt the walls, not outside of their neighborhoods or places of work, but at their own home. They weren’t trained construction workers but were priests, merchants, jewelers, masons, craftsmen, artisans, and women who cared. The words “next to him” were used 20 times in the 3rd chapter of Nehemiah. It takes the whole body of Christ to rebuild the walls of our culture. There are lists of responsible leaders who worked on the walls and repaired the gates written in the book of Nehemiah.

Today each person in the Church is indispensable. Each must share the responsibility to repair the walls around them. Covid has changed and disrupted the physical places we are living and the places we work in many ways. Atlanta is now the new “Hollywood South,” and new media and entertainment hubs are in Austin, Dallas, Nashville, Vancouver, and Canada with lots of production still happening in New York, England, Germany, Australia and India. God is enlarging the tent of Christians working in media and entertainment. We each have our place to build the walls of unity and love as never before, and those places are people who are sitting across the desk from you or standing next to you on a production lot.

It takes one person at a time. It takes you!