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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.

Boise, ID.

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One generous act of kindness from an absolute stranger can do wonders to a weary traveling soul.

I’m laying on a bed in a random host home somewhere on the outskirts of Boise, Idaho; taking a hot shower for the first time in days, drinking hot beverages by candlelight and watching movies with one of my closest friends on the biggest seventy-three inch plasma you’ve ever seen. I don’t even remember the name of the lady who opened up her home to us. I think it’s Annette. She loves animals. She has a black lab, a pit bull, five cats, a couple horses, and a countless number of fish. She works in a call center troubleshooting people’s DSL problems. Yesterday she taught a celebrity how to find the colon key on their keyboard in order to type “http://” into Internet Explorer. If she takes the freeway, she can get from her home to her office, park, walk three blocks, and be at her desk within fifteen minutes. Her husband works at Ford. The car she drives shares the same name as my company. And it has seat-heated cushions. Mhmm, seat-heated cushions.. my favorite.

She has Thin Mint Girl Scouts™-flavored ice cream. And premium hot cocoa. And those giant mug things that the dwarves from the Lord of the Rings use. And hash browns and pancakes and bacon in the morning.

And did I mention hot showers?

This generosity is overwhelming.

Thank You.

Breaking the Silence

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No, I’m not dead. But if you follow me on Twitter, you already know that.

I just graduated high school, that’s all. I wrote my last final and made a beeline for Texas three days later where I’ll be spending the next two years doing a film & media internship. So now I actually get to make things instead of simply talking about other people making things. Hence the lack of words here.

The last four months have been the most physically, emotionally, and professionally demanding months of my — admittedly short — life. I’m learning more than I ever have and have more things than ever to talk and write about. Not every teenager gets the opportunity to shoot music videos in Mexico or travel to stadiums and arenas across the US putting on Christian youth conferences.

I think what I’m trying to say is that now that I have somewhat of an interesting life, the things I’m discovering and learning might actually be of value to some people. Or someone.

That’s my hope at least.

So yeah, just wanted to get that whole awkward “breaking the silence” moment out of the way. Thank you to everyone who emailed in their condolences or DM’d me to say that they stopped by my site to clear out the virtual cobwebs. Your loyalty has been duly noted.

Ahhh, feels good to be back.

PhotoForge: Photoshop for the iPhone

I never realized how useful a simple “curves” adjustment on an iPhone would be until now. Some of the features are a little gimmicky (how many times are you going to use the clone stamp tool on your phone?), but it completely changes the way you use your iPhone as a camera.

While it typically retails for $4.99, it’s on sale for a limited time for $1.99.

Seth Godin on “Gotchas”

There are lots of things you can do to make the sale. They often are precisely the opposite of what you should do to generate word of mouth. I know, you can’t have word of mouth unless you have a sale, but a sale that leads to pain is hardly worth it.

My rule of thumb is this: every person you turn away because your product or service isn’t right for them turns into three great customers down the road. Every bad sale costs you five.

I couldn’t agree more.

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Working at Fusion, I’m often amazed at the number of great products and services out there that aren’t being talked about. After booking a Fusion ad with us, the good folks at Hello Canvas offered to send me a free print of one of my photos so that I could try out the service.

The canvas came in the mail the other day and I have been blown away by the sheer awesomeness of the print. It’s HUGE, feels solid, and looks absolutely stunning on the wall.

I can’t quite explain what it’s like to see one of your photos in larger-than-life form. It’s exhilarating, emotional — almost hypnotizing. In fact, I find that I prefer canvas-bound prints to framed photos more often than not. (For once my tastes side on the cheaper end of the metaphorical scale. Huzzah!) If you’re a photographer, art appreciating enthusiast, or parent for that matter, Hello Canvas deserves a serious look.

(Pssst: I believe the coupon code “FUSION” still saves you 10% upon checkout. You didn’t hear it from me.)