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Thinking Outside

December 5, 2011 Leave a comment

Download the pdf of this post from Christian Video Magazine- here.

This last mini-movie I made was a beast to edit…and I mean that quite literally. It is about the greatest of beasts which draws its inspiration from an obscure passage in Revelation. Here are some helpful little revelations about the creative process that I gleaned through my experience with this project, which by the way can be found at http://www.worshiphousemedia.com/mini-movies/26526/The-Red-Dragon-Of-Christmas:

Let this video help you to tell the Christmas story in a new but a very Biblical way.

(4-page Leader’s Guide PDF included!)

1) Think Outside the Manger

You thought I’d say “box”, but that would be cliche, and therefore not “outside-the-box” thinking. When it comes to creating a Christmas illustration, we need to think outside the manger. In other words, do something that hasn’t been done already a million times over. A creative person scraping the bottom of the barrel, recycling old, used ideas just isn’t attractive. I know, I know. There’s nothing new under the sun. However, we can present a new/ old idea in a new way. Or we can bring to light something that is new to most people. It’s like when I talk about my new camera lens, it’s not actually new; it’s slightly used, but it’s new to me.

This video has been a long time coming. I taught a class on Revelation at church and actually preached on the Red Dragon of Christmas last year. It’s taken me all of this time to muster the courage to piece together this video and companion leader’s guide. Why courage? There’s a risk in creating something that is different. How will it be received? I don’t know. But we will see. As a pastor, I know what it’s like to come to Christmas every year and wonder how I’m going to bring something fresh this time. The Red Dragon of Christmas certainly would be something that many never would have even considered, but will others now take the risk in showing this video and building their message around this obscure passage? Many pastors are even afraid to get into the book of Revelation beyond chapter three. These types of questions are always on the back of your mind as a creator, but is the unknowing a deal breaker? It is not. You won’t know until you publish. If you ship it off you’ll find out the answer. If you don’t, you’ll never know. So, create something plain and safe, or go outside of your comfort zone to bring a potentially great and impacting creation from conception to follow through all the way to completion. More on this later.

2) Bring in Outside Help

When making something that was a big idea in your mind, you may have to venture outside of yourself to execute that idea effectively. The vision may be larger than your ability to accomplish on your own. That’s is absolutely fine. Bring in outside help. Nobody can be an expert or even decent at everything. John Dickson does a great job in his book Humilitas of defining humility in part as common sense. In that chapter he tells a joke:

There was a plane, and the pilot comes across the radio and says “Attention all passengers. I have some bad news. We are going to crash.” Now, there were three others on board this aircraft, four including the pilot. The pilot says, “The good news is, there are parachutes. The bad news is there are only three. This is my plane, I’m the pilot, and I’m going to take one.” So he straps on a parachute and out he jumps. Now, remaining on board was a brilliant professor, a minister of religion, and a backpacker, with only two parachutes. The brilliant professor jumps up and says, “I’m a brilliant professor; I have lots to achieve in this world; I can create and donate to mankind; I need a parachute.” He straps one on and jumps out of the plane. Left behind is the minister of religion and the backpacker. The minister turns to the backpacker and said, “Look, I’ve had a long life; I’ve enjoyed my life; I know where I’m going. You take the final parachute.” The backpacker stops him and says, “No, wait. That brilliant professor, he just jumped out with my backpack.” While the story is not true, it clearly demonstrates how expertise in one area counts for little in another.

So as Dickson illustrates, while I may be OK at animating, I’m not very good at drawing. Here I needed some original dragon art that I could use and animate, but Illustrator is a program that I hardly ever use! It’s time to phone a friend. Actually I Facebooked him (if that’s a verb). I later went through and explained the crazy concept. Though we live in different states, we were able to collaborate on this project. Without him, I wouldn’t have original dragon art. And if the title is “The Red Dragon of Christmas” I probably need some dragon in the video.

That’s not where the collaborating ended. If you’re a one man team like me, then you are easily tempted to do everything yourself. That way you have more control over it, and you get it the way you want it. That’s all fine and well. More power to you, but know that maybe, just maybe, quite possibly, actually, it could be better if you brought in outside help. This particular had an enormous menacing voice-over. If you look at my videos, you’ll find that I do most of my own voice-overs. It’s easier that way. No need to bother anyone else. On this one, I broke down and said to myself that I should find someone else. The first person I had in mind was a personal friend who is a professional radio voice. Though he too lives in another state, these days that doesn’t mean you can’t collaborate. He did a fabulous job. Only had to fix one pronunciation, and I was ready to build a score around his wonderful narration.
3) Expect Resistance from the Outside
I have my original dragon art. I have my audio done. I’m looking at the calendar. I set a deadline for myself. I get the weekend that I’m supposed to use to piece this thing together. All is ready to go…except for me. The moment I’ve been planning for a year has arrived. I’ve blocked out many other activities to dedicate this time for editing, something I love to do, and yet I want to do anything else but this. Fear is creeping in. Is anyone going to be bold enough to use this? Will they even like it? I don’t know how to create a fire effect or smoke. Will people think this is tacky? Why is a public domain picture of Athaliah so hard to find? All of this is called resistance.

If you haven’t watched my dragon video yet, let me give you the cliff-notes right now. (If you want to go a lot more in depth, it packs a lot of info, and I give you even more in the 4 page pdf that comes with the download.) The video is about the missing piece in our nativity scenes. Not the angels, or shepherds, wise men, or even Joseph. According to Revelation 12 a large Red Dragon was present there in Bethlehem, trying to destroy the child. This is something he been trying to do ever since Genesis 3. He is identified as Satan, the ancient serpent in verse 9. The video chronicles many times throughout scripture that he attempts to undo God’s promise, but is unsuccessful.

I am making a video about our enemy, exposing him for what he is. My wife told me that he probably didn’t want me making this video. That was some of the push-back, the wanting to give up, the self-doubting, the procrastination. In Gary Molander’s new book (I interviewed him in the last edition) he has a section on creative blocks and resistance. On pgs 80-82 he gives it a name. Satan. Interestingly enough, he even quotes Revelation 12, the very passage I was to be animating. Gary writes, “The most important line is the last one – the one that says that Satan is coming after Christ-followers with a rage and with vengeance. You hurt a Father most by harming His children.” I tweeted Gary and he and others actually prayed for me that day. In two days of hard work, the video was done. If you expect resistance, you can counter it. In your next project think “outside”.

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Why the Red Dragon of Christmas?

November 8, 2011 Leave a comment

This year I set out on an ambitious task of creating a video and leader’s guide PDF to help some bold and daring churches teach something different this Christmas- the Red Dragon of Chirstmas. What?? That doesn’t sound like a very cozy message. The late Dr. Robert Lowery writes of the dragon that we see at the Nativity Scene in Revelation 12:

John’s rendition offers conflict not carols, war not worship. It is a PG-13, if not R-rated, rendering of the story. Some scenes are too intense for young audiences, indeed for audiences of all ages.  There is no sentimental Christmas story here: no cozy fireplace, only a fire-breathing dragon; no cookie-eating Santa dressed in red, only a red dragon ready to devour the baby Jesus; no cuddly animals lowing, only a cunning dragon sweeping his tail across the heavens.  Can you imagine a dragon becoming a regular in a Christmas story performed by little children? Who would  want the role? Can you picture a well-known company printing Christmas cards with a red dragon lurking behind the manger scene? Of course not! Someone else already lays claim to the color red this time of year, we would be told. Let’s not confuse the public.

In this very obscure passage, we see missing piece in our Nativity. We get a behind the scenes look at what was really happening at Christ’s birth, throughout his life, and even before. Down through history, Satan has constantly pursued the  destruction of Jesus. There is a thread found throughout the entire Bible– hostility between the seed of the woman and the dragon. Revelation 12 is simply the starting point. From there, you can trace the Dragon’s efforts to undo God’s promise from Genesis right on up until Bethlehem.

This video and PDF makes it easy to tell that story:

http://www.worshiphousemedia.com/mini-movies/26526/The-Red-Dragon-Of-Christmas

It outlines the many stories in the Bible where we can see the Dragon at work, like a puppet-master pulling strings. From Genesis, to David, to Esther, to Bethlehem, and many others. Not a cozy message. Or is it?

This is a reality in scripture and in our life too. Many church-going people are either skeptical of this truth or oblivious to it. We, as Christians, need to be aware of it, but also be confident that the ultimate victory is won already. Christ is the conqueror. He has vanquished the enemy.  The Dragon is defeated. The rest of Revelation 12 reminds us that since he was unsuccessful in destroying the Messiah, he has turned his fury against the rest of the woman’s seed…that’s us!  But here comes the COZY part. Rest assured that God’s purposes and His promises can never ever be frustrated. If a long history lesson can teach us anything, it is that God is infinitely more powerful than any seven headed, seven crowned, and ten horned dragon. Glory to God Most High. We too are on the  winning side. Paul sums it up beautifully in Romans 8:37-39:

 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Would your church benefit from such a Christmas message?

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