I have been really busy with the 168 Film Project and my short film, "Chronicles of Hernia: the Lion, the Ditch and the Studio. We locked picture last night (thanks to Tim Lowry, a brilliant editor) and I am so excited for the premiere I can hardly stand the wait. We will premiere it on Sunday, Dec. 14th at the Fine Arts Theatre in Beverly Hills. Please save the date. The film spoofs Hollywood stereotypes, and uplifts the values we hold dear as followers of Jesus.
Mr. Ralph Winter (Producer of XMEN) has agreed to be our lead judge for 168 in 2009 and we have 40 team entries.
I lost my father at the age of 10 and it was a painful experience. Below are the thoughts of Mr. Gary Swanson. He is a mentor of mine, who leads the tinseltown Bible Studies in Burbank and on the Fox lot in LA. If you would care to attend, please tell him I sent you. And tell him thanks for sharing wounds so deep they hurt the listener too.
Pass it on if it seems a good idea.
Peace in Jesus.
FROM GARY SWANSON:
My father was a farmer, as was his father. He was a child of the depression, and during those difficult times he was the son who had to stay home and help his father on the family farm, so he never finished school. Because of that, even though he was reasonably intelligent, he was insecure and defensive in many ways. He was also very shy. When he was a young man every Midwestern town small and large had a dance pavilion where the "big bands" would come and play. It was an affordable form of recreation for an America slowly recovering from the pains of the depression, so almost everyone ended up at the pavilions on Saturday night. In my growing up years the pavilions were all long gone, but whenever we would run across a woman he had known in those years, they would always tell me the same story. "Your father was the best dancer around", they would say, "and all of us would line up for our turn to dance with him." Whereupon my shy father's face would be bright red with embarrassment.
If you had met my father, you would have probably liked him, but I tell you all that to tell you this - for whatever reason he didn't like me, and he made that painfully clear right up until he died at age 94. I'm not saying that he was a bad father, nor was he abusive towards me in spite of having a vicious temper. I always knew I was safe and protected and he worked hard to provide a better life for us than he ever had himself, but he and I were different in every way, so much so that I just basically made him angry if we were around each other very long.
So by now you're asking, "What's your point Gary?" Let me make my point with a question for you - what kind of earthly father did you have? Or perhaps more to the point, what kind of a relationship did you have with your father? It's a question to which you need to give yourself an honest answer, because your relationship with your earthly father, or lack thereof, will have a large effect on your relationship with your heavenly Father. If your father spoiled you rotten, you might assume that God the Father will give you whatever you want whenever you want it, and if He doesn't you may decide that God doesn't care about you. At the other extreme, if your earthly father was never there for you, you might not even ask your heavenly Father for anything because you feel like He won't give it to you anyway.
Guess what I struggle with repeatedly in my relationship with my heavenly Father? I have never doubted that God would take care of me from the day I was saved. I have never questioned whether or not God is going to take me safely home to heaven. But I quite frequently begin to feel like God doesn't really like me, and that He only puts up with me because He does not break His promises, and He has made a promise to save me. Do you see it? Do you see how that struggle exactly reflects my relationship with my earthly father?
My point is this - you need to think about how your relationship with your earthly father has skewed your relationship with your heavenly Father. We limit what God is able to do in our lives because of limitations we've experienced in our relationships with our own fathers.
In the bible there is the story of the prodigal son. He wanted to go his own way, do things as he wanted to do them. He took all that his father had lovingly saved for him, and squandered it on the kinds of sinful lusts we all struggle with. Finally he realized what a fool he had been, and decided to go back home to his father, even though he was afraid that his father might no longer treat him like a son, but rather like a servant or slave. Now look at his father's response, which is meant to be a picture of our heavenly Father's attitude towards us, His children:
Luke 15:20 "And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. 15:21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 15:22 "But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. 15:23 And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; 15:24 for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ And they began to be merry. (NKJV)
Is that how you picture God responding to you? Again, ask God to help you rid yourself of all the false ideas you might have about His love for you and His relationship with you. Ask God to reveal to you who He truly is, and how much He desires to relate to you, for as He says in Matthew 7:11
If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! (NKJV)
If you have ever thought about attending the Tinseltown Studies in person, this would be a good week to start, since we are beginning a completely new series designed to help you get to know your heavenly Father a little better by getting to know His Son, our Saviour, a little better. You have two locations from which to choose:
THE WESTSIDE STUDY gathers together on WEDNESDAY EVENINGS, now at the Fox Studio lot, which is located next to Century City in West Los Angeles. The actual address is 10201 Pico Blvd, Los Angeles CA 90064. If you would like to attend the study at Fox, you must be pre-registered. If you have been attending either Tinseltown study on a regular basis, you have already been pre-registered. If you have never attended the studies, or if you have not attended recently, you will need to email or call no later than 1:00pm on Wednesday using the contact information below, and ask to have your name added to the Tinseltown guest list for Fox. Please note: You cannot pre-register by contacting Fox Studios directly, so please do not bother them.
Enter by the main gate at the corner of Pico Blvd and Motor Avenue. Turn right and then left to the main security gate. Tell the guard(s) that you are there for the "Tinseltown Meeting". Everyone in the car must be pre-registered, and everyone must have identification. If your name is on our list you will be given a pass and driving instructions to get you to Building 1. Once there, you may disregard "reserved" signs and park in any available space.
THE BURBANK STUDY will continue to meet on THURSDAY EVENINGS at 825 Evergreen Street, which is located on the far west edge of Burbank about 10 blocks north of Warner Bros Studio. Take either Pass Avenue or Hollywood Way to Verdugo Avenue. Go west on Verdugo Avenue to Evergreen street, which is one block west of Pass Avenue or five blocks west of Hollywood Way. Turn north on Evergreen Street and go 1 1/2 blocks to the address on your left, a one story home on the west side of the street. Normally street parking is readily available within a block or less of the house.
Both Studies open their doors at 7:45pm to give you time to sample the snacks, grab a bottle of water, and settle in before the regulars show up. The actual discussion begins promptly at 8:00. Need more information? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 310-779-7443. If you would rather, you can call my wife Judy instead at 310-779-7442, or email her at email@example.com.