Monday, July 25, 2011

The Spirituality of Creativity

I have received interesting emails and Facebook messages following this past weekend's teaching at The Vineyard. It seems as though a lot of people needed to hear one of two things: 1.) That it is just as Biblical/spiritual to ask questions as it is to answer them. We should not be afraid of verbalizing the big questions of life. 2.) That it is time to go for it, creatively speaking. I have had a dozen emails of people telling me that they are going to practice hospitality, or finish a novel or pick up their guitar or whatever.

If you missed the weekend,  my task was to give an overview of the literature and poetry found in the Old Testament - books like Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Song of Songs. It was a rather daunting assignment to try to do in thirty minutes. When doing a quick overview of the Old Testament, one is struck by the value that the Bible puts on creative writing, poetry, song, and fictional/allegorical storytelling. As modern Western Americans we tend to value answers more than questions. We value logic over emotion. Data over imagination. We want direction from the Bible. We want a formula. Perhaps, more than anything, we want it to be practical. But a huge chunk of the Hebrew Scriptures seems unfazed by our modern desire for practicality.

These books are real people wrestling with God in their cultural climate using the forms of art and media that they have at their fingertips. There are more unresolved questions than answers in these books. More imagination than dictation. Sometimes, they even disagree with one another. These books remind us that the journey with God is a process.

I was very excited that my friend Todd Henry was able to join us this weekend.  Todd is one of the people I go to personally when I want to think about creativity and expression. Todd's new book The Accidental Creative just released this month to great reviews from people like Seth Godin and Steven Pressfield. Check out his website to get the book. (And check out his podcasts while you are there - they are invaluable.)

This weekend helped to remind me of something I have based my life upon - that we all have a story to tell. We all have a creative mandate. We are not just allowed, but encouraged, to ask the big questions before we have the answers. Our stories are what make us different than the rest of creation.

This is why I am not just a pastor, but also a filmmaker. The more I go along, the more important it becomes for me to tell stories on film and video. It engages a passion in me like nothing else does. I am learning that the best part of filmmaking is how collaborative of an art form it is. Seeing dozens of people working on one piece of art as a missional community is a beautiful thing. This weekend with Todd was exactly what I needed to cleanse my palate before we begin shooting the next movie August 15th.

Keep praying for  A Strange Brand of Happy. (If you pray - not all of my readers are into the whole God thing. You guys can just think lovely thoughts about me for a second.) It looks like we have most all of the crew and cast, but could still use help with meals, extras and finding some props. You can learn more at the movie's official site - The more the merrier! We'd love to have you join us in this effort to make a movie that asks the big questions while being ridiculously entertained.

My challenge to you this week is to create something - just one thing that didn't exist before your brain thought of it. It doesn't need to be a feature film or the great American novel. It could be a meal, a poem, a business plan or a birdhouse. Just create it. It's what you were created to do.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Hitting The Nuts Wins at Las Vegas Film Festival

I am back in the friendly skies headed home to Cincinnati. I miss my bed. We had a great week in Las Vegas. Personally, it was great to be back. Aidan, my 9 year old, said that he felt like he was home in Vegas. (He was only 3 when we moved away.) This statement both thrilled and worried me a little :)

On the business side, Hitting The Nuts screened to a full house and was universally praised. We won another award. It is all nice, but the real joy is taking a story I made with my friends and watching strangers belly laugh for 100 minutes. In short, we made a real movie that makes people have a better day. That's something to be proud of. 

If you are the type of person who needs the details...or a writer for the Hollywood Reporter, I have pasted todays press release below. 

July 18, 2011

Hitting The Nuts Wins at Las Vegas Film Festival

The poker-themed comedy Hitting The Nuts won a Golden Ace Award for Superior Filmmaking at the 2011 Las Vegas Film Festival. This is the third award in as many festivals. (The movie won Best Feature Film at both the Cincinnati Film Festival and the Derby City Film Festival earlier this year.)

The movie screened at the Las Vegas Hilton on July 16th to a packed house. Joe Boyd is the producer and director of the movie. He says, “It really was an amazing reception. The crowd never stopped laughing from beginning to end. We are humbled by the movie’s success. We are grateful to the Las Vegas Film Festival and the international poker community for the support.”

Currently the DVD is only available at, but according to Boyd, “We are getting very close to a wider distribution deal that will get the DVD to major retail centers, as well as a digital version to outlets like iTunes and Netflix.”

Hitting The Nuts is produced by Rebel Pilgrim Productions with offices in Las Vegas, Nevada and Cincinnati, Ohio.


Saturday, July 09, 2011

Movie News from Delta Flight 845

If I had to guess, I am 30,000 feet above Missouri right now. I am headed "home" if there is such a thing for me anymore. Of course, my real home is where my wife, kids and beagle hang out. Which is Cincinnati. Or more accurately, 25 miles north of Cincinnati. But going "home" means going back to where one grew up.  I grew up in lots of places, but nowhere more so than Las Vegas.

This is a business trip, though I took vacation time from The Vineyard for it. (My life is confusing.) I am heading to Vegas in hopes of finalizing a distribution deal for Hitting The Nuts. It screens at the Las Vegas Film Festival on July 16th. This week is also the beginning of the Main Event of the World Series of Poker, so it timed out well to visit some of my friends in the poker world who have backed HTN.

Officially, Rebel Pilgrim Productions is still based in Las Vegas. My business partner, Jim Nyberg, is there along with our office. I am excited to focus on the film production stuff for a full week. (Our new movies are partnered with The Vineyard, but HTN is not. Again, my life is a little confusing.) I have been in negotiations with some name talent for our next movie, A Strange Brand of Happy,  this week. I would love to tell you who it is, but I can't. It could be a really cool thing though.

Speaking of the next movie, if you live in Cincinnati and want to help us out with A Strange Brand of Happy will still need some small groups and restaurants to provide delicious meals for the cast and crew. Head on over to to volunteer.

I never feel more alive and excited than during a collaborative creative effort. I have several of them going at once right now. I love it. Nothing gives me joy like seeing a community of people create art. It's beyond spiritual for me.

If you are in Las Vegas, I'd love to invite you to the Hitting The Nuts screening. You can get tickets through the festival at It is a 10 a.m. screening on Saturday, July 16th. The perfect time of day to laugh, I say.

Fenced Off, our drama,  is moving along in post-production. If you haven't seen the trailer for it, head on over to We hope to get it out to you later this year.

I hope this post didn't feel like a big commercial. I try not to do that on here. It's just exciting stuff for all of us. Lots of turbulence now...gonna sign off and pretend like it isn't bothering me.

Blessings from the friendly skies...