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Moving to Zion

Moving to Zion

It’s official. I purchased a one-way ticket and will be moving to Israel on May 28th.

I remember the first time I set foot in Jerusalem and walked her narrow streets. She is a city like no other — rich with history & meaning. Her walls are weathered by centuries of destruction, war, & conquest. Significance is woven into every crevice and for millions around the world she stands as a beacon of light & hope.

Everyone has an opinion about everything, especially about God. And everyone has a story. When you ask, “Why are you here?” you will never hear the same answer twice. People are loud, yet warm, kind, yet blunt, hospitable, yet stubborn. There is no place like Jerusalem.

Within minutes, I knew that I had arrived home.

There was no where else that I wanted to live. There was no where else where I knew I was supposed to live.


Over the past year, things have come together in ways I could have never dreamed of. From people that I’ve met to doors that have been opened to overwhelming support from family and friends, I have no doubt in my mind that I am not going to Israel as much as I am being sent to Israel.

When I arrive, I will be joining the team at King of Kings working primarily as a Producer/Shooter/Editor. I will also be focusing my efforts on learning Hebrew, studying Torah, and weaving myself into several different communities in the city.

It would take more words than I have right now to share the dreams that God has put on my heart for Israel & for the Jewish people. (If you would like a taste, however, you can listen to the sermon that I preached at Living Acts Church in Tyler, Texas.)

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This site will become a collection of thoughts and photo essays from my travels, focusing on faith, business, media and the Middle East.

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M-Bags: Ship Books Internationally On a Budget

As a part of me packing up my life into boxes & moving continents, I wanted to find the most affordable way to ship books overseas. I came across a little-known shipping service that USPS offers called M-Bags: allowing you to ship mass amounts of books internationally at a discounted rate.

Here’s how it works: you pack up to 66 lbs of books or other printed material into a box or boxes which are then put into a giant M-Bag. Depending on the country you’re shipping it to, it’s a whole lot cheaper than sending it any other way.

In the words of the USPS agent I dropped the books off with, “it’s been a million years since I’ve done anything like this.”

Grafted In

I was given the opportunity to speak at my home church in Tyler, Texas this past weekend about what I believe God’s plan for Israel is out of the Bible.

I focus most of my teaching on passages from Romans 9-11.

If you’re interested in hearing my vision & heart for why I am moving to Israel this spring, I encourage you to watch the recording from the service below.

Just Another Birthday – Music Video

Another day, another music video. Out of sheer coincidence, another one of the major pieces our team has been working on has gone live today: Just Another Birthday by Casting Crowns. The video was produced in about 3 weeks and was shot completely in East Texas near our studios.

To get the visual effect style we were going for, we shot primarily using a Canon 5D with “Lens Whacking” — which is essentially shooting with the lens detached from the camera to produce cool lens flares.

It’s a pretty touching story, to say the least. I can barely watch it all the way through without tearing up.

What I’ve Been Up To

Some folks have emailed me asking what I’ve been up to over the past couple months. Well, there’s lots of good news to share: I got my working visa and I’m now living in the Texas working at a full-fledged media production company as the Production Manager. We make everything from music videos to short films to promos & commercials, and we do it all for the glory of God.

We make so many things at such a fast pace that I really need to take the time to write about / showcase them. So without further ado, here is the latest thing we’ve worked on that we’re releasing today: the brand new music video for the Newsboys. Enjoy!

This makes pleasure also the whistleblower of your heart. If something sinful gives you pleasure, it’s not a pleasure problem. It’s a treasure problem. Your pleasure mechanism is likely functioning just fine. It’s what you love that’s out of whack. And pleasure is outing you. It’s revealing that, despite what your mouth says and the image you try to project to others, something evil is precious to you.

–Jon Bloom on Pleasure is the Measure of your Treasure

Uncertainty

“I do know that waiting on God requires the willingness to bear uncertainty, to carry within oneself the unanswered question, lifting the heart to God about it whenever it intrudes on one’s thoughts.” -Elisabeth Elliot

I don’t know why I wrote that quote down on my phone almost two years ago — little did I realize how deeply the reality of it would strike my own life years later.

Bearing uncertainty does quite possibly one of the strangest things to a man’s heart.

Uncertainty forces me to face the fact that I am not in control and am absolutely incapable of changing my circumstances.

Uncertainty forces me to confront my jealousy of God and my desire to be Him — infinitely Powerful & absolutely Sovereign.

Uncertainty shatters my self-sufficiency and destroys my proclivity to lean upon my own strength.

Uncertainty crushes me with the truth that there is only one Good and Faithful Shepherd of my soul, Jesus Christ, in whom I live and move and have my being.

Uncertainty causes me to set my hope fully on the grace that will be brought to me at the revelation of Jesus (1 Peter 1:13).

You see, there’s a whole lot more going on here than meets the eye. Waiting on the Lord is actually a self-shattering, Gospel-inducing, hand-emptying surgery that crucifies our hearts to this world and raises them to Christ.

I hate uncertainty. But it is my thorn, my gift, my joy. And so I will boast all the more in my uncertainty, that my Savior’s infinite power might be perfected in me.

My Thorn Has Become a Spring of Joy to Me

My thorn has become a spring of joy to me.

I found myself looking upon some of my friends with jealousy the other night. “Why do they get to do such and such? Why do they get to be with so and so? Why now? Why not me?” Very quickly, I saw this jealousy give way to my own self-pity: “Woe is me that my God has given me among all my friends this heavy burden to bear. I must be obedient, I must endure — and then the good will come.”

I thought enduring was what I was supposed to do. I thought being obedient was all that God required of me. But then God spoke:

Just as faith apart from obedience is dead, so obedience apart from faith is dead.

Now you may say, “Of course I have faith, how would I ever obey if I didn’t believe?” Let me say this very carefully: I believe we, as Christians, often have faith in the promise and the certainty of the promise but not in the intentions of the Promiser.

In my own life, I see my tendency to look upon God’s “gifts” as malicious burdens that I have to bear rather than good gifts that I get to receive and rejoice in. I believe in the Goodness of God, but have a hard time applying it to the here and now. For me, the Goodness of God is some kind of distant hope that comforts rather than an ever-present help in trouble (Ps. 46:1).

Biblically, we can look at 2 Corinthians 12:7, where God sent a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan, to harass the apostle Paul. Imagine being in his shoes. Harassment from God? That must be malicious. He must be testing me. He must be testing my endurance and my strength. He must have something really good in store for me if I simply preserve through this cruel momentary harassment.

But that is not what Paul says: his thorn was a gift. It was given to him to keep him from becoming conceited; to keep him from sin (v. 7). It was given to him so that Christ’s power might be perfected in him (v. 9) It was given to him that he might learn to boast in his thorn as a good gift from a Good God who lovingly gave him his thorn for his good.

The thorn that was pitiable in the eyes of the world was beautiful to Paul. Because Paul had the eyes of faith.

Or consider Job. When everything in this world was stolen from him, he cried out, “The LORD gives and the LORD takes away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:21) Job didn’t have any promises to look forward to but the trust that the intentions of his God were good. The Lord isn’t “still” good despite what happens, He “is” good because of what happens. Blessed be the name of the Lord for doing things this way. Blessed be the name of the Lord that his thoughts are greater and his ways are higher. Blessed be the name of the Lord because He knows what is best for me.

The God that Job’s wife told him to curse, Job worshipped. Because Job had the eyes of faith.

Only children who have the Sovereign King as their Father can “consider every trial as pure joy” because they believe two unshakeable truths: (1) God is completely in control of this world and my life, and (2) He is always, undeniably, unquestionably good. And everything he does is good. Even the thorns, even the discipline, even the wilderness.

It’s a life-transforming truth: I’m not enduring cruel wrath, I’m receiving loving discipline. From my Father, for my good.

My thorn that was once bitter has become a spring of joy to me.

Thoughts on Beauty

There is only one source, one spring of Joy — for both the pagan and the Christian — and it is Christ. And if the source of Joy be attributed to any other such thing, it is idolatry against the Most High. One One is found Good, only One is the essence of Beauty, and from Him does all other goodness and beauty flow. Loveliness is intrinsic to One, and One alone.

If this is true, then idolatry really is an abominable thing, exchanging the glory of the immortal God for images that resemble mortal man (Romans 1).

Why then do we have the proclivity to remove glory from the only Glorious One, and bestow it upon mortal man, who is but a reflection of divine perfection? It is pervasive throughout the hearts and minds of believers and unbelievers alike. We cease to give glory to our Creator, barely acknowledging his existence, and instead, we glorify the Creature.

We worship the beauty of this world, while denying the beauty of its Source. We seek to become like God through sinful pride and arrogance; He seeks to make us like himself through humble meekness and love. Oh, the depth of the riches of this great mystery!

Hello Again.

Same name, different Michael. We’ll see how this goes.