Have You Seen My God?

by Michelle Cox

Have you ever been crippled by fear or have you ever let your perceived lack of abilities keep you from doing something God asked you to do? I think most of us have faced situations like that.

A few days ago during my devotional …time, I ended up in I Samuel 17 with one of the most well-known stories in the Bible—the story of David and Goliath. I’ve heard about those two guys since I was a little girl, but on this particular day it was like God put a spotlight on some things I’d never noticed before.
Imagine the scene with me. For forty days the Israelite army had been crippled by fear as Goliath—a monster-sized bully—strutted in front of them, taunting them and making fun of their God.

About that time, Jesse sent his young son, David, to take supplies and to check on his brothers who were in the army. Try to picture David in your mind. The Bible describes him as “ruddy-faced.” He was just a rosy-cheeked shepherd boy. Certainly no one who knew him would have thought of him as anything else.

David arrived at the army camp just in time to see the face-off between the Israelites and Goliath. He observed the Israelite army running in fear from the giant. Over and over he heard the words, “Have you seen the giant? Have you SEEN the GIANT?”

The young lad was filled with righteous indignation. “Who is this Philistine who has the nerve to defy the living God?

When David told King Saul that he would fight the giant, Saul replied, “You’re just a boy. There’s no way you would win.”

But armed with God and five smooth stones, the young lad walked into a seemingly-impossible situation, facing the giant with these words, “This is the LORD’S battle.”

David slew his giant that day. You know why? Because when everyone else was saying, “Have you seen the giant?” David was saying, “Have you seen my GOD?”

Many of you are dear friends and I know some of the giants you’re facing—things like losing your jobs, wrecked relationships, the heartache of a prodigal child, the loss of a loved one, scary words from a doctor, or even a task God’s called you to that seems way bigger than you can do. During those times it’s easy to focus on the giants and to live in fear because the situation seems impossible.

The good news is that there’s hope today because this isn’t just your battle—it’s the LORD’s battle and He thrives at solving impossible situations.

So the next time doubt and fear overwhelm you, don’t say, “Have you seen my giant?” but instead reply with confidence, “Have you seen my GOD?”

David blog post 3

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Why God Led Me To The Gideon

by Dave Trouten

I was a Gideon pioneer; God led me to the very first conference.

A web-search took me to the web-site of Ridgecrest.  Curiosity took me to their upcoming events page.  Gideon resonated with me and I felt God wanted me there.  Why?  Initially I had no idea, but the directive remained clear.

I teach literature of Film at Kingswood University.  I do not create film.  I critique it and explain it when it falls in the category of the basic literary elements.  Nor am I in the media arts field, but I use it all the time and teach a generation emerged in it.

Why Gideon?

1) Knowledge base: I mention substance I learned from Gideon all the time in my classes.

2) Networking: I have met key people who have helped me in my profession of teaching, my secondary profession of writing, and, as an added bonus, are my spiritual mentors.

Much to my surprise I had networking value as well.  I have been a connection person to Gideon talent by promoting films and authors from the Gideon group.  My Gideon time has led directly to the promotion of Christian media to a generation who has been slowly abandoning it.  My Gideon networking also led to a Maritime tour for humorist Torry Martin.  Upcoming projects are in the works.

3) Family: Gideon is a family.  The Gideon conference is a family reunion.  I have not been able to attend for the last few years and I have missed it greatly.  It is a rare occurrence a day will go by without me being in contact (via Facebook, phone, e-mail, etc.) with my Gideon family.

Whether you need to learn, be encouraged, or be adopted into a great family; Gideon is a life-changer.

How Do You Cross The Room?

by Peggy Sue Wells

“Cheshire Puss,” asked Alice, “Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”

“That depends a good deal on where you want to go,” said the Cat.

“I don’t much care where,” said Alice.

“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.

Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

What do you want to be sure you do before the end of your life? What is it you don’t want to regret not doing?

People interviewed in the sunset of their lives commonly express two regrets; that they did not take more risks, and they didn’t do more for Christ.

I thought I was bold and brave, at least capable and responsible, until I was in a room full of people and we were challenged to cross the room from one side to the other. Simple enough, except each of us had to cross in a different manner. For instance, if one person walked, no one else could use walking as a method to cross the room. As walking, skipping, running, hopping, walking backwards, and the other obvious ideas were quickly employed, I pushed my way to the front of the line so I could get across before all the methods of room-crossing were used up and I was stranded. Left behind. Another example of others being successful while I missed out.

“Who scrambled to the front of the line because you were afraid of running out of mechanisms to cross the room?”

I raised my hand.

“That’s a scarcity mentality,” the facilitator explained. “Fear that there is not enough.”

Fear that I was not enough.

That hour, 200 people crossed the room using 200 different methods. I’ve done this exercise many more times and now I run to the back of the line. Even as the last person, I always find a fresh way to travel to the other side of the room because I’ve learned that there is no limit. No scarcity. Several times I have been challenged to cross the room without using my hands or feet. What would you do? I can immediately think of a dozen ways to accomplish that goal.

As long as I thought there was not enough—not enough money, love, opportunities, careers, happiness, hope, fun, friends, ideas —I did not live full out. I limited myself even though God promised abundance.

Gathering with other artists at Gideon Media Arts Conference affirms that there is no scarcity of creativity. And there are unlimited ways to cross the room and bring ideas to reality.

Life is a team sport.

The arts are a team sport.

One plus one equals ten when Gideon participants come together and share their individual strengths, creating stories that touch hearts. The conference environment naturally lends itself to networking. An exchange of talents and counsel.

Shedding the scarcity mentality is like infusing my veins with jet fuel. “There is not enough (money, time, talent – you fill in the blank)” transforms to “How can I make this happen?” Opportunities like Gideon, to connect and belong, broadens our possibilities and inspires us to be abundant.

We are most like Christ when we forgive and when we create.

“In the beginning God created …” (Gen. 1:1).

 

Gideon Media Arts Conference alum, PeggySue Wells is the author of more than a dozen books. She writes screenplays, edits, and ghostwrites.

A New Bell To Ring…

by Dave Moody

One of my earliest memories growing up as the son of a Methodist preacher was ringing the church bell on Sunday morning.

Mr. Turner, a elderly member of my Dad’s congregation, would swing by the parsonage where we lived and take me with him as we walked across the fresh cut grass from our house to the church.  He’d open up the front doors of Cumberland Mills United Methodist Church with those large, heavy skeleton keys that had just been jingling in rhythm by his side on our early morning walk to the church.

Up a small flight of stairs which were almost out of reach for my small legs, especially in a suit and clip-on tie, to where the rope for the bell was secured from last week, right where “we” left it. Mr. Turner would carefully untie it, wrap it a few times around his elbow for leverage, and with all his might start the pull and release motion that caused the bell to ring.  I remember the first time I heard the sound of that tremendous bell up close.  To a four year old, it was the loudest thing I had ever heard.

As our routine became more and more familiar, I often joined in to help Mr. Turner pull the rope and ring the bell.  It was Sunday morning, after all, and all God’s children were welcome in His house.

I often think back to those earlier times and this faded childhood memory.  It was in the middle of the ‘60’s when hippies sang protest songs against the war, and black and white meant more than just the color of your TV set.

But in those days, for the most part, people at least stopped to acknowledge God.  To hear the bell ring out across the town every Sunday morning.  It was a chance to pause for a moment, even if just for an instant, to know there was a God.

Today, Sunday is just another shopping day.  Or race day.  A time to watch football or golf or some other program on television.  Everything is open, unlike those days of old when every store was closed on Sunday.  Today, Sunday is just another work day for so many.

And from all indications, fewer folks attend church regularly on Sunday morning in America than ever before.  So, think of how many millions of people are not in a pew on Sunday.

I still believe we have a church bell to ring. But it might look a lot different than the one that Mr. Turner and his scrawny little sidekick use to ring in the ‘60s.  We have a culture today that needs and wants to hear the message of hope. They are truly seeking God.  But we have to reach them in different ways.

As Paul did in Athens (Acts 17:22-31), where he met the city’s leaders and scholars, and using their culture, pointed to the statue of the unknown god, and said this is the one I came to tell you about.

We still have a bell to ring… a film to produce… a sports ministry to organize… a music and arts school to build.  All in an effort to grab the attention of someone long enough to share the truth that God loves them and cares for them.  That’s the bell we need to ring today.

5 Steps To Self-Promotion

by Donna Botts

You have made the decision to be in the entertainment business – Fantastic! Now you are wondering… Where do I begin? What should I work on? How do I network? I am sure these and other questions have surfaced as you start your journey. I would like to offer some simple, yet hopefully, useful guidelines and suggestions as you begin to build a successful career.

Number One – This is the MOST important and vital part of your success not only in your career but in your personal life as well. Your walk with the Lord must be your first focus. When we keep God in the center of our life and allow Him to direct our steps, we stay in His Will which is the best place to be. Now, does this mean that God will grant you instant success, fame, and fortune? No, it does not. This does, however, remind us that our purpose while on earth is not for ourselves it is for Him – His kingdom and His glory. This is a great truth to remember regardless of how long we have been in the business!

Number Two – Surround yourself with people who will support you and push you to be your best. There are so many opportunities to join a web community or “groups” that meet locally.  Whatever your career choice may be: acting, singing, being a musician, producing, editing, writing, etc… Check your local paper, look online and join a group that specializes in your field. How wonderful it is to have feedback, support, and prayer from those who are on the same journey.

Number Three – Make sure you have a professional resume’ and that you update it on a regular basis. You may need to have professional headshots done (You can do this at the Gideon Conference!) Utilize the web to your advantage. Join casting sites for your particular interests. Build a webpage or start a blog. You can network on social media sites. You must make available your experience, your education/training and all other important information about yourself. Make it easy and appealing for those who would want to hire you. Do not be overly heavy with graphics, fonts, or many pages. Always keep your resume’ simple, neat, and up to date and always carry business cards with you – you never know who you may meet!

Number Four – Get out there and pound the pavement. If you want to work, you are going to have to look for it. Most of us are not going to be discovered walking across the street. While that would be nice, it doesn’t happen in the real world. So set your mind to submitting yourself to as many jobs that will benefit your career as possible. (And again, I would remind you to pray about each and every opportunity.) What we think may be the best chance at career advancement, may not be what the Lord has in mind, so ask God to help you in your decision making process. Where do you look? Remember that “Group” that you joined – many post opportunities this way. Look on the social networking sites. Google your field. Look at articles and newspaper advertisements. Some jobs may even come by word of mouth, but you have to stay connected and be persistent.

Number Five – You must stay focused and positive. You may submit your work a hundred times and be turned down every single time. You could decide to give up and say, “Forget it – it’s too hard!” But what if your 101st time would have been your big break? You will never know because you gave up. Yes, being in the entertainment industry is not for the faint of heart, but if God placed a desire in you for this career remember these words from Philippians. “Being confident in this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Ch. 1:6 NIV)

Yes, this business takes a lot of dedication, hard work, and tons of prayer. But IT IS worth it! So be encouraged, take heart, pull yourself up by your bootstraps if you have to…and remember your fellow ‘Gideonites’ are here for you!

See you on the Red Carpet!

How The Gideon Changed My Life

By Ken Raney

Here’s how the Gideon changed my life…my wife, Deb, and I have been fortunate enough to attend all five Gideon conferences, and every year the Lord has used the Gideon to encourage us as we attempt to use the gifts and talents the Lord has given us, for Him and His Kingdom.

Admittedly, those are high sounding words. But what does that really mean?

We went to the first Gideon at a time when I had given up on ever using the talents I believed God had given me. I was working in the corporate world, making a pretty good living. Our youngest daughter was a junior in high school and we were facing an empty nest within a year. Deb had received an invitation to attend a new conference that was being formed in order to get established authors in front of Christian filmmakers to pitch their stories to be made into movies. Deb wanted to go, but we needed to pay $300 nearly a year in advance. After we prayed about it, I said, “I think you should go, and I want to go, too!”

Months later, as we were getting ready to go to the conference, I told Deb that this was probably the end of my efforts to be an illustrator producing art and stories I hoped would lead young adults to the Lord. “Unless something happens at this conference to change my mind, I give up!”

Well, the Lord broke through to me at the Gideon! Did I get a contract for my book? No. Did I make a connection with publishers that encouraged me with my book? Nope. The only thing that happened is that I met and talked to dozens of people who felt the same way I did. God had given them a gift. They had a passion to reach the world with the message of Jesus Christ through entertainment media. Some were being successful; some were, like me, frustrated and despairing, but all of us shared this common calling.

I left the Gideon with the distinct belief that I had heard the Lord say to me that He had something He wanted me to do. What a refreshing revelation! I was not only encouraged, I was emboldened.

Our second Gideon was just as spiritually refreshing as the first. We heard keynotes and devotions from professionals in media telling how the Lord had guided them to do what they do. Their struggles. Their triumphs. And again, we were greatly encouraged by the presence of the Holy Spirit ministering among us.

In fact, artist Mike Maihack told me near the end of his first Gideon, “This is almost like a spiritual retreat!” He and his wife, Jen (a photographer), loved it.

Three times a day, we would all trek down to the cafeteria and stand in line next to a musician, a make-up artist, a director, an actor or actress. We would talk and learn about each other and our testimonies. I truly believe one of the best things about the Gideon is being able to have lunch with fellow Christian creatives and learn from and about them. Many a friendship and partnership has been forged over breakfast.

About three months before our second Gideon, I was laid off from my job. I had been Advertising Manager for a good-sized manufacturing firm, and they decided they didn’t need me on their payroll any more. The interesting thing is, I was not surprised. In fact, I was somewhat expecting it, because about two years earlier, the Lord spoke to me and told me that I would not be retiring from that company. It seemed he had something else in mind for me.

I came home from work early on February 27, 2009 and announced to my lovely wife, Deborah, that I had been laid off, and that I was fairly certain God did not want me to look for another “real” job!

Needless to say, this was not well received. We decided to pray and set some benchmarks as we tried to discern the Lord’s will. Again, one of the benchmarks was the Gideon.

Deb and I left the second Gideon believing the Lord did indeed have something in mind, but we differed on what that might be. I had received a vision from the Lord for an entertainment website aimed at Christian teenagers. I remember leaving the Gideon and telling Deb, “Wouldn’t it be cool to launch ClashEntertainment.com at the Gideon next year?”

The Gideon had provided a lot of contacts for content, career interviews, and collaborators on Clash. I received much encouragement and help with Clash from fellow Gideonites.

When it came time to start planning for Gideon #3, I contacted Lori Marett, the Gideon co-director, and asked if I could give one of the devotions in the morning. I told her I had something big to announce. She graciously said yes and I spent the next eight months setting up a corporation for Clash, producing the website, and loading content. Clash launched on February 1, 2010. Three months before the third Gideon.

My plan was to get up in front of the 260 attendees of the Gideon and report the amazing things God had done with this new website/ministry.

Instead, I had to get up and tell them that even though I was sure God had called me to do this, and He had confirmed it time and again with signs, and even miracles. At that point Clash was not a success in the way I had hoped. We had hoped to have 100,000 teens visit the site every month and we were only drawing about 5,000. And we had exhausted our advertising budget and really had no hope of attracting any more visitors to the site.

Well, apparently that was a much needed message, because I was swamped after my talk by others who had or were facing the same thing. They felt a call from the Lord, yet things weren’t going like they expected. Again, I left very encouraged and determined to press on with what the Lord had given me to do.

I just checked and as of January 1, 2013 we are at 10,000 visits per month.

The Gideon has had a large number of stories where attendees have achieved success, and in many cases as a direct result of connections made at the Gideon. We marvel at watching the careers of Saylors Brothers Productions, Erica Lane’s music, Erwin Brothers Productions, Ben Avery writing for Kingstone Comics, Eric Wilson, Ray Blackston, and Doug Peterson writing for Kingstone’s Bay Forest Books imprint, and some others whose names can’t be released quite yet.

And me, I’m making a living as an illustrator and graphic designer in the world of Christian Media.

Big names? Yes, the Gideon has had its share of big name media folks: Ted Baehr, Brian Bird, Mitchell Galin, Dallas Jenkins, Michael Joiner, Michael Katt, Paul McCusker, David Nixon, Linda Seger, Nancy Stafford, Phil Vischer, Ken Wales, Muse Watson and many, many others.

This year, as always, Christian films were shown each day of the conference, and many times the Gideon hosted the world premiere of a movie. Producers, directors, and actors answer questions after the film, then we break for some great brownies or cookies, and go back to watch another movie. Many attendees sit around and talk late into the night and then complain about how tired they are the next day.

In the four years Deb and I have attended the Gideon, there has been a noticeable improvement in the quality of the films in terms of production values, cinematography, and acting. More and more, Christian movies are on a par with excellent secular films––every bit as well-done, well-written, and well-acted.

If you are a Christian creative or want to be one, pray about attending the 6th annual Gideon Media Arts Conference and Film Festival, July 12-16, 2013 at the Orlando Airport Marriott, in Orlando, FL. Even seasoned professionals can be inspired and learn new things as they rub shoulders with others in entertainment media. You can sit down to lunch with a singer who has dozens of CDs, and wants to make a movie of an incident in his life in which the Lord saved him from a plane crash, or you can meet a retired U.S. General who was involved in the Black Hawk Down incident, or hear the inspiring testimony of the National Champion Waterski Jumper, or learn about making movies, writing novels, creating graphic novels, all from people whose heart’s desire is to be used by God to reach a lost world for Jesus Christ.

We hope to see you at the Gideon next year.

Gideon Is…Relationships!

by Ben Avery

Gideon is an incredible experience for many people and for many reasons, but for me, there is one reason I look forward to being at the Gideon every year.

Relationships.

Sure, there are showings of great movies by Christian filmmakers. And there are the seminars filled with invaluable information. And there has been some pretty good food in the past. And don’t forget the keynote speakers, who spiritually motivate and professionally inspire.

But Gideon is, to me, more. It is people. It is iron sharpening iron. Relationships, as I said.

On many different levels.

At Gideon, I have had the opportunity to meet some of the most interesting people I know. Many of them are people I stay in contact with throughout the year.

A couple of those relationships have been on a professional level.

I have gotten to know a handful of people who have contacted me during the year between Gideon conferences, asking me for advice about creating comic books.

I met a man who ended up hiring me to do a number of freelance writing projects.

I met a man who has partnered with me to produce a podcast for over a year now.

I met some people, face to face, who I had collaborated with on projects in the past but only been in contact with via e-mail before.

I have made some friendships, familiar faces that I am so glad to see every year.

But also acquaintances that, when sitting at a table eating dinner and “breaking bread,” I would never have had a chance to talk to outside the confines of Gideon. At meal times, I have found myself sitting with aspiring screenwriters, a career musician who wrote music for movies, working actors, hopeful actors, producers, publishers, novelists, aspiring novelists, singers, songwriters, singer/songwriters, young people still figuring out what they want to do with their lives, young people with concrete certainty what they want to do with their lives . . . I could go on, but you get the idea. These are people who I learned from just by sharing experiences, anecdotes, and even just sleepy greetings during breakfast.

Many of these relationships have been on a deeper spiritual level, too.

One woman listened to a dream that I have for a ministry/media project and gave me many words of encouragement and $20 toward that project. “Seed money” she called it, telling me she believed in that project. And as I move forward on that project, her encouragement is one thing that is in the front of my mind.

I made a friend who, in the couple years since we met, I have been able to encourage and receive encouragement from him and he has encouraged me, once encouraging me to do something I knew I needed to do, definitely did not WANT to do, but when he talked me through it, ended up doing it.

Iron sharpening iron.

Finally, and most importantly, a relationship I have found strengthened at Gideon is my relationship with God

Now, I can’t guarantee how it will happen for you, but I can again share from my own experience.

While I have been at Gideon, I have been able to listen to some very powerful sermon messages and testimonies. I have, as I mentioned above, had some interesting discussions with other people at Gideon. Sitting over dinner, I have had some of the most encouraging words spoken to me by both friends and near strangers.

And while Gideon has been so busy as I tried to make it to seminars I want to attend and prepare for my own seminars and get to dinner on time and making appointments with other Gideonites with their own busy schedules . . . I have also found Gideon to be a retreat.

A retreat away from the busy-ness of everyday life. A retreat from the responsibilities of everyday life. A retreat from friends and family.

And so, as busy as I am, I found that I had time to spend with God in a different way than I do at home. I have had a chance to hear God in a different way that I do at home. There is something about being in that different place, surrounded by people who are there to improve their craft in service to God, that makes you look at things in a new way.

I cannot guarantee you will have the same experiences I have had, but I can tell you that, if you let it, you will be touched by the many relationships that come your way.

I have.

“17 As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”
Proverbs 27:17 NIV