“Busy” doesn’t mean “productive.” In our desire to get more, be more, and do more, are we becoming the walking dead? Are we seeing life as meaningless and irrelevant?
Each day becomes a blur as we wake up worn out and trying to pack something more into our already over-loaded schedules. It reminds me of Bob Fosse’s classic scenes that repeat over and over in the movie, All That Jazz. The frazzled, overworked, and depressed choreographer looks in the mirror each morning, pumping himself up and saying, “It’s showtime!” Sadly, many feel the same today as they’re running on empty, looking for a way out and reaching for their pocket “crack” –their cell phone– to find answers and hope.
Are you one of the “walking dead,” trying to balance it all?
When Moses led the Children of Israel out of Egypt, it not only took convincing the Pharoah, but the Jewish people themselves. We read in the Bible about the plagues God sent, but have you ever pondered the amount of convincing Moses needed to do to get the Jews to pack up and leave? How fed up did they really feel with where they lived and what they endured? Similarly, what’s our reaction when life’s muck hits us between the eyes? Are we ready to get off the treadmill and trust the ever-present and living God and let Him move us to a better place?
Are the present-day disasters, wars, terrorism, immigration issues, and political turmoil getting our attention?
Once the Jews were freed from Egypt’s control, it then took 40 years of wandering to root out their past habits and build up their trust in God again. He had to continually prove Himself to them. Did God consider those years necessary? In His grace and mercy, He willingly waited for them to mature. Unfortunately, we often don’t jump out of life’s disruptions instantly, either. Most of the time, we get sucked into our daily grind and can’t break out. We get used to the misery and instead of turning to God, we just whine. Perhaps we ignore the pain because, well… we’re busy, and making changes is just too time consuming. But God promises in His Word that when we’re ready, He’s ready with “a peace that passes all understanding.” (Philippians 4:7.) But we have to choose. Are you courageous enough to do the often painful, but necessary work to get there? How badly do you want to get out?
Here are some suggestions of where to begin:
Use your smartphone and get smart. Schedule your personal time with Jesus at least four or more times a week and make it a priority. One to three times a week won’t cut it. Research has proven that four or more times will positively change your life. It’s why I wrote my devotional, Hope 4 Today: Stay Connected to God in a Distracted Culture, based on a four-day format.
Get serious about how you spend your free time. Be mindful of how much time you’re spending on black hole apps, games, and social media platforms that are sucking the air out of your life. Statistics reveal that the average global user is on TikTok 3.5 hours a day and 4.5 hours a day on Facebook. Get radical. Delete apps on your primary screen that are not essential. Smartphones also have a feature that monitors how much time you’re spending on them. Use it and stop falling into the vortex.
Focus on caring for others and not just collecting friends. Freeing your eyes from being face-planted on your digital device allows you more time to see those around you. Build real relationships and not just ones on social media platforms. Try volunteering for something you feel passionate about. You’d be surprised how it will reward personal growth and friendships that really matter.
Finally, reach out and share your story and the life-giving message of Jesus. Many are hurting today, are caught up in the tornadic whirlwind, and need help to get out. They’re looking for answers and solutions searching for happiness not realizing that it’s the joy of knowing Jesus that their soul is craving. He alone can resurrect the walking dead. He alone restores life.
It is “showtime.” It’s time to show the world that God is with them amid the chaos. He restores that which has been taken, even what the locusts have eaten (Joel 2:23).
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!
Each year our nation remembers Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr. and the significant civil rights and freedoms they fought for. King was more than a champion of civil rights and equality; he was also a champion for freedom of religion. Both great leaders knew that God gives us our ultimate freedoms and that attaining those freedoms means we have to use our God-given minds.
Our minds control our heart, and our heart controls our actions.
Martin Luther King Jr. fully understood how our Creator made us. In our culture today, science is seen as the solution to our problems, and it can bring solutions in many circumstances. The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly put science on a pedestal recently.
However, science without wisdom can be dangerous. The classic story of Frankenstein is a fictitious story of how science can create more issues and fear if we don’t employ wisdom with it. One of my favorite quotes by Martin Luther King Jr. is “Science investigates – religion interprets. Science gives man knowledge which is power. Religion gives man wisdom which is control.” (more…)