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Inspired Creativity

Today was the last day of #echo11, or Echo Conference. It was my first time, and will definitely not be my last! I’m headed home with inspiration, practical tips, and encouragement. Over the next few days I’ll be blogging about some of the many gems. I’ll also be posting my review and interview of Gary Molander and his new book- “Pursuing Christ, Creating Art”. I’ll be posting thoughts on the “Blue Like Jazz” movie as well as a short but great interview of Steve Taylor. So stay tuned.

I was really excited to go to Echo, I it turns out, I should’ve been. However, even before Echo I experienced a sort of surge of inspired creativity. Let me tell you about it and how God used it in ways that I would not have imagined. And you can do the same!

So let me link you now to a pdf of my July article in Christian Video Magazine, entitled “Inspired Creativity“.

Different Ways to Help Joplin

Randy Gariss was my pastor back home in Joplin at College Heights Christian Church.  He was the master of ceremonies at the Memorial Service after the Tornado in May. Earlier this month he spoke briefly at the North American Christian Convention in July 2011 in Cincinnati, Ohio on how to help Joplin. He shared insights from private conversations with both the Governor of Missouri and the President of the United States.


Feel free to share this video or others that I have made to continue raising awareness for this great cause. For more info: chcchurch.org

(Music by Derri Daughtery- cloudsechoinblue.com)

My Second Joplin Video

June 24, 2011 1 comment

The last video has done a lot of good, and I’m trilled about it. In just one week, it’s been viewed over 2100 times and shared by over 800 people of Facebook alone. This is not counting people who saw it or will see it in a couple of church services and one ladies Bible study of 100 women. After the video was shown in one church, they, who had already given to Joplin, committed another trailer of supplies! Another church plans on using it to promote relief help. God is good.

This video has no message at the end to help or anything. The message is throughout, and it’s for the people of Joplin, to give them hope and encouragement. It is simple in its approach. It uses sound clips from the preachers at the community memorial service one week after the storm.

The speakers in this video are, in order of appearance- Fr. Justin Monaghan of St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Pastor Randy Gariss of College Heights Christian Church, Rev. Aaron Brown of St. Paul’s United Methodist Church. Some of the footage was my friend, Sid McGregor’s. The music is by Derri Daughtery (of The Choir and Lost Dogs) from his ambient project “Clouds Echo in Blue”, “the sound at the end of the world”.

My First Joplin Tribute Video

Here’s my first edit from some of my footage of Joplin last week. Cameras cannot capture the full scale of the damage. The video shows significant damage and from many different areas around town. However, the main focus of this edit is to show the other side of things. There are beautiful realities also in play in this place in the midst of the horrible tragedy.

 

No Amount of Words…

June 10, 2011 2 comments

I’m still in Joplin as I begin writing this post. I’m at my parent’s house, using their computer, and grateful that they were not affected by the tornado that just a few blocks away wreaked havoc on 1/3 of the city. It’s been 8 1/2 years since I moved out of Joplin, but I know the town well. It’s near and dear to my heart.

That sounds cliché, and so will my next statement. As an initial reaction to all of this, what can I say? My own video and pictures will be coming soon, but they don’t do justice to the immense and utterly terrible scene here in this big little town. I saw all of the images before I arrived here. But they pale in comparison to standing in the middle of it all…where no lens is able to capture what the human eye is capable of absorbing. In taking video, I felt like I needed to detach myself in order to get decent quality images, but every time I drive through I’m shocked and amazed again at the complete and vast devastation. It’s incredibly horrifying to me. Just imagine what it is for the many who endured it and survived!

Any disaster area is usually a place that brings out the best and the worst in people. That is true here, however the outpouring of good being done is extremely impressive. Minutes after I arrived, I was given a bottle of water by a guy on a four wheeler. As the president and governor pointed out, the “Good Samaritan” spirit of Joplin is evident in neighbor helping neighbor. I see many different states represented in relief volunteers in the city and even now as the national media coverage has begun to dissipate if not disappeared already. I see much good amidst in all of the bad. I see the church as the shinning beacon it was meant to be. I see God’s hand in the divine interventions that so many people are talking about.

Springfield’s chief meteorologist called this vicious EF5 tornado an act of nature, but that many more people were not killed was an act of God. The stories are many that support this quote. So many people, including my good friends lost everything, but their lives.

Left in the path is a long period of rebuilding, and not just structures. We mustn’t forget Joplin. It may be old news already for the mainstream anchors, but the debris still left on the ground is enormous. Again, it sounds cliché, but it’s beyond words. Words may be helpful, but are by nature limited in their ability to describe incredible situations. No amount of words will begin to accurately portray for you what has taken place here in Joplin.

That was my initial reaction, and the phrase that was continually on my mind every time I would drive through an affected area, which is unavoidable, it’s so wide-spread. But maybe there is a word to describe Joplin after all. One word often associated with tragedy is simple enough to comprehend, though to understand it you must have been through some amount of suffering. That word is “hope”.  Someone took duck tape to the Joplin High School sign where the “j, lin” were removed and made “Joplin” read “Hope” instead. That is not just the sentiment of one; it’s the will of many. There is so much debris going OUT of Joplin, but at the same time there is so much hope IN Joplin.

My wife took a picture of a tree. Like all trees in the disaster zone, they were stripped of all life, including much of the bark. Yet this tree already is beginning to produce life again- a pretty fitting image of the Joplin I know and love.

God bless Joplin!

Good and Bad

We’re always surrounded with good and bad. Many times we ourselves wallow in between both realities.

This morning I did something that was good. My mission was to refill both of our 5 gallon water jugs, which were depleted. On top of that I had to go to the bank and then buy some coffee and Mexican sweet bread for my wife, and I had the presence of mind to get her an anniversary card as well. Last but certainly not least, was the ever-present cliché of milk and bread. As I was checking out, I added 25 cents to get a reusable bag, since we have a plastic bag ban in the city, and as I loaded up I headed for the near exit. I almost did a bad thing, forgetting to pay for my $14 in merchandise. The clerk said, “Sir.” and I came to my senses. I think I was so focused on the water-filling task at hand.

Anyway, a large gruff man became noticeably frustrated at my leaving the cart in the clear path to the exit, and as he viciously moved my cart out of the way I caught a glimpse of what was in his precious cart– 3 large glass containers of hard liquor.  I proceeded to pay for my essentials and watched him leave. As he got outside, he snagged a large bag of Flavoraid Pop Ice from an outdoor display without paying for it! And he was gone. As I went outside to purchase 10 gallons of filtered water, I could see this burly man in the parking lot. Of course he parked his motorcycle in a no park zone. I had a good concept of bikers lately as 500 to 1000 of them held off the Westboro clan from protesting my hometown of Joplin’s Memorial Service on Sunday. But this guy left a bad taste in my mouth. He carefully wrapped up his booze in the store’s weekly ad and drove off to begin his day of drinking.

As I arrived at the ol’ homestead I could hear my wife in the other room saying to my one and a half year old daughter, “Bad girl, bad girl, bad girl.” That’s all I could hear from my vantage point, but it turns out they were having a full-fledged conversation. As she said, “bad girl” the baby would reply “good girl”, and this was repeated multiple times. I don’t know what this little good/bad girl had done, but I know her, how she’s always getting into everything. She is as apt as anyone to do much good or bad.

What’s your take-away, if you’ve made it thus far? Do something good today. Something much better than I described. Why don’t you start by giving to the Joplin Tornado relief cause? 1/3 of the town I love was completely devastated. My home church is one of the main distribution centers and work crew hubs in the community. You can give $10-whatever amount you’d like to their storm fund and it will all go to the victims of this tornado who lost everything: http://www.chcchurch.org/the-storm. My wife and I will leave after church on Sunday to drive 16 hours north with a mini-van full of stuff we’ve been collecting that they need.

So whether it’s this or that, do some good today.

DIY Project #dos

May 26, 2011 3 comments

Here’s my latest DIY project for DSLR video, project número dos.

It’s a fig rig. To do this I used this tutorial- http://vimeo.com/16415597. The sprinkler tube clamps were impossible to find. In the comments it was stated that these would be hard to find. I gave up and went with plan B, simply using PVC T’s in their place. Also on the top part of the fig rig I customized mine using some 90 degree elbows to extend it out slightly to make room for putting my 7 in. monitor in the cold shoe mount above the camera in this application.

The plate at the bottom was done differently than in the tutorial. I came up with this part all by myself, which for me– non build-it type guy (computer geek)– that’s a pretty big accomplishment. You can see in the pics here that I used a thumb screw with a washer and bolt. It’s fairly easy to attach and take it off using this setup.

Here are pictures in stages:

I still need to touch up some of the paint job (plastic spray paint) and add some bike handles to the side for a better grip. Since it’s all glued down I’ll probably have to cut those to get them on and glue them to the PVC.

Do-it-yourself is a lot of fun and it saves a ton of money. Check out my other posts in the DIY category. On a more serious note let me interject something here. I ended my May Article for www.christianvideomag.com this way:

Do it yourself philosophy is not always a good one. In matters such as salvation, it’s obviously an impossibility. Another area where this concept is discouraged and rightly so is in ministry, care, and charity. As I write this, my hometown of Joplin, Missouri weighs heavy on my heart. With such devastation, we cannot simply tell those victims of the single deadliest tornado in history to do it themselves. The long relief effort must be shared by concerned and generous souls. I know Joplin is a resilient town, and the body of Christ is in action in that place. However, we should not expect them to rebuild all by themselves. Any support you can give would help so very much. I plan on investing some of my savings gained by doing DIY projects, to assist in the on-going relief effort, and organizing further assistance for the cause. I know of many great places where you too can help. If you are moved to do so, email me at fish.gregory@gmail.com and I will connect you. Thanks.

Westboro = Church?

May 26, 2011 7 comments

Westboro “church” is apparently in Joplin to protest. That is mind boggling in and of itself, but goes to show the level of lunacy in this group. Where is this hatred coming from? And why?

Brandon, Mississippi gave them their match according to this article: http://www.ihatethemedia.com/a-simple-way-to-stop-westboro-baptist-church-funeral-protesters but I imagine Joplin will come up with some even better way to counter this horrible and deranged agenda.

If you’ve read my other recent posts you know that Joplin is my hometown. I now live 16 hours away, but my heart is broken over the devastation my family and friends are facing. My heart also breaks that a group that calls themselves “church” are driving from Topeka to kick Joplin when their down. Well, they are rising up, and no one, especially not anyone from Westboro can stop them.

I’ve heard many ideas that people have to deal with these loonies. I don’t know what they’re going to do. We’ll have to wait and see. (I’ll post in the comments section whenever the news comes of what happens.) The consensus I hear among those is my circle is to hit them with love, which is the complete opposite of what they spew.

Here’s their flier and accusation of Joplin, painting everyone with a broad brush of hatred and contempt: http://www.godhatesfags.com/fliers/20110523_MO-and-KS-Tornadoes-89-Plus-Dead.pdf

Really??? Wow. The Bible College is a whore house? This sarcastic and carefully written document makes me sick. It’s not true at all. That’s not the Joplin I know and love.

Right now Joplin is living up to the name CHURCH and I’m so proud of the way the church at large in Joplin and its surroundings are coming together for the community and making all the difference. Westboro taints the word “church” with all of its awful activities. The other crazy, Harold Camping, taught that the church of today is apostate and is not even saved. I beg to differ!

Last night at our church in Texas, we finished out Kyle Idleman’s series “H20”. In episode 10 Kyle (who last I knew is in Joplin right now helping with the relief effort) explained that the river is purest at its source. Because of this, we should go to the early church at its very beginning in Acts 2:37-47 to see how the church ought to be. “Good” and “strong” churches will do their very best to exhibit these 5 attributes from Acts 2:

1) No irrelevant teaching- but rather Bibl-based, Christ-centered, needs-meeting, transforming doctrine

2) No one left alone- apply the “one anothers” of scripture, accept one another, love one another unconditionally, to name a few.

3) No masks- don’t hide behind any false front or pretense. Be sincere and genuine.

4) No half-hearted worship- strong commitment 7 days a week.

5) No perfect people allowed- No one is better than anyone else, when the standard is perfection. You can’t say someone doesn’t deserve grace, because you don’t either. Nobody’s perfect, only forgiven and changed.

I look at this list, and I see Joplin loud and clear. The church in Joplin is doing all of this, now more than ever. Acts 2 reads,

44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”

This is taking place right now in Joplin! All I see coming out of Westboro “church” is the complete opposite. I see people who are fake, irrelevant, half-hearted, mask-wearing, think their above everyone else, no love, all hate, hypocrites, and they give the church a bad name. What is wrong with this picture? So very much.

Here’s Kyle Idleman in front of a church building that was destroyed by this natural disaster in Joplin. It was not God’s judgment. The rain falls on the righteous and the unrighteous. My point is, tornadoes may destroy church buildings, but the true church can never be destroyed.

God loves Joplin. He even loves Westboro “church”. I’m praying for Joplin. I’ll be there to help rebuild in a few weeks. I’m praying for people to have wisdom in having to put up with the goons from Westboro on top of everything else. Kill ’em with kindness. Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you. Their claims are baseless and their actions can’t be any lower. Don’t stoop to their level. The true church will come out on top.

Family Radio (Before and After)

May 24, 2011 2 comments

Here is Harold Camping’s Family Radio website homepage on May 21st:

Here is the homepage after:

I fortunately snagged the image from the former before they changed it. The latter has been stripped of all things May 21st.

All this is no surprise to me, if you read my “The End is Near?” post and comments I made under it. I predicted this stance that Harold Camping has taken, and it’s a much better and wiser prediction than any he’ll ever make. He’s back peddling now, like he did in 1994. Is he really “flabbergasted” and “dumbfounded”. Can he really figure out what he did wrong in his calculations? I’ll tell you what he did wrong. He calculated. All based off of a wrong premise. October 21, 2011 will be no different. He wasn’t off by five months, he was off by bad hermeneutics. No amount of time and figuring will help. People need to stop believing him. I’m amazed that some people, still follow him after May 21st. Some believe God delayed his judgment because of their prayers! They’ll believe anything except that Camping is a fraud. Either a fraud or a confused old man.

I try to be nice in my posts. Too many go the opposite extreme and are downright mean an “unchristian” in their attacks. A firm stance is one thing. He is a false teacher and prophet, with zero credibility. But being crude is also uncalled for.

This post has some good points and stories in it: http://news.yahoo.com/s/yblog_thelookout/20110523/ts_yblog_thelookout/doomsday-prophet-followers-flabbergasted-world-didnt-end.

This one too: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2011/05/23/preacher-got-date-apocalypse-wrong-tries-says-months/?test=latestnews.

Here’s Harold claiming to need some time to think before doing any interviews.

He say he needs time to think? How about thinking about returning people the money they gave you to follow your message? Why didn’t you sell your house before the rapture if you weren’t going to need it? This is plain ridiculous. His poor followers fund his delusions. They need to turn to the truth. All this crying wolf is an abuse that will numb people into believing it’s all a myth. Instead we need to live like perhaps today Christ could return. Are we truly ready? Are we busy doing his work? Not renting billboards that promote a false, dangerous, and embarrassing date-setting message. Real ministry! This devo scripturally makes a case for doing just that: http://www.swordofthespirit.org/devotional/show/13202. It’s worth the short read! Scripturally speaking, it’s not for us to know times and seasons, but rather we are to Be Busy About Ministry Until The Lord Returns.

I’m done with all this Harold Camping stuff. I first saw them in February and was anxious to expose his heresy. But it’s a waste of time and effort. It’s simply not worth my time. On to more important things like doing real ministry. My hometown of Joplin, MO is suffering greatly right now, and not due to any of Camping’s predictions. Here’s a trusted place where you can give to help relief efforts in that devasted town- http://www.ides.org/joplin.html. It’s better than giving to other organizations because 100% goes to the relief effort and faster than others. It’s SOOOOOOO much better than giving anything to Family Radio or Harold Camping!!!!

I’d never give to Camping, but I am giving to Joplin relief and so should you!

Sobering Videos of Joplin Tornado

May 24, 2011 1 comment

Here are some videos of the tragedy in my hometown of Joplin, Missouri.

This first one shows the actual tornado. It is 2 mph shy of EF-5 status, but they are still evaluating. The death toll is rising over 120 right now. It’s impact was devastating, for lack of a better word.

This next one is 6 blocks from my in-laws’ house, right across from an old car lot and cabin they own, which was leveled. This is real audio from 20 people in a small cooler that survived thanks to the clerk who let them in and was the last to get in himself…one hero among many in this town. All that’s left of this Fastrip is basically this cooler area.

Last, a fitting song from Casting Crowns with images from this horrible disaster.

The relief efforts are in full swing, despite the dismal weather conditions. The church is doing its part and people are helping people. The road to recovery will be long, but I know the people of Joplin, and they will rise again, with God’s help.

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