ROAD LESS TAKEN: Made all the difference

temptationMost of my friends do not even know what tests or allurements I have faced in the past (such as those mentioned in this article).  I prefer it that way. My own parents know little of the temptation that was offered to me during parts of my life. Only GOD needs to know what crosses we bear.  That being said, I believe that the experiences I have to share may be helpful to others who may be facing similar tests in their life; thus, I hope that by sharing such experiences with you through this anonymous blog that it will be an encouragement to your life.

imagesIf you have ever spoken out for Truth, you will understand how challenging it can be. Who doesn’t want to be loved instead of ridiculed? Who really sets out in life to be despised or ostracized? Do you really think that Jesus wanted to be hated by mankind?

“Who has believed our message? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, And like a root out of parched ground; He has no stately form or majesty That we should look upon Him, Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him. He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.”  – Isaiah 53:1-3

images (1)From this passage, we learn that Jesus wasn’t considered the grandest celebrity on earth, but quite the opposite.  Keep in mind that He was the One who created all of us, including those who are considered famous or beautiful. He asked “who has believed our message?”.  Can you imagine how it feels to be that isolated? He was despised.  He was forsaken.  Are you? It was humans like us who treated the King of the universe in such a manner, and I have no doubt that if He returned to earth and walked among us again, He would get the same treatment, and probably from most of those who are considered “very strict Christians” as well as the more liberal or moderate Christians and pagans alike. In a way, the Pharisees probably were the more conservative followers of GOD in their day, and even they had strayed horribly into doing things out of tradition or because their rabbis had told them so, instead of being taught and filled by the Spirit and led by the Word.

temptation (1)If you speak out for Truth, keep in mind that you will immediately receive a mark by everyone as being either a bigot, a right-winger, a preacher man, all of the above, or worse.

You will be told that you are not loving enough, your speech lacks grace, your logic is faulty, you are too judgmental, or you need to improve your serve.  The temptation is to just be quiet and stop speaking out against sin and false doctrine, and to instead conform to those around you. Is that what the early Christians did? Is that what the prophets and apostles did?

FruitSpiritLogo-adjThe Truth is that all of us need to improve our serve. None of us are loving enough.  All of us lack perfect grace in our speech.  All of our logic is faulty from time to time.  All of us can be judgmental. The truth is that most of those who say this will at the same time refuse to speak out for Truth themselves.  They can tell you how to do it, but they themselves won’t even lift a finger to speak out. Most of them are participating in false doctrine or pagan practices. The fruits of the Spirit are more than just love.  There’s also faithfulness, self-control, obedience to Christ’s commands, and the willingness to speak the Truth even if nobody wants it.

red carpetWhen I was a kid, the first section of the paper that my brother would grab would be the sports page.  For me, it was always the entertainment section.  I would study those who were successful and analyze their patterns of success. When I was a teenager, I made a list of goals. Movies, music, radio, and other artsy career endeavors were the lion’s share of the list.  While working on my Masters degree, instead of completing a ten minute documentary for my graduate degree in television production as required, I requested permission to produce a movie on a futuristic CIA plot.

Crew-silhouetteI was granted permission based upon previous work I had done (which had been over and above standard requirements) and for which I had received high marks. I wrote most of the initial script in the spring semester of 1995. I shot the script over the summer and fall semesters of the same year in addition to working full-time to put myself through grad school and in addition to having asked the University Provost for special permission to take more semester hours than allowed (which I was granted). I set up location shoots at an international airport, a downtown award-winning luxury hotel, an apartment complex, and a number of other sites in my spare time.

image323My movie was pretty much my social life, but I loved every part of it, including loading equipment into my car, as mundane as that might seem to some. That’s just how much I loved the craft.  I had some very close friends who were willing to sacrifice and volunteer their time to assist me in my ambitious grad project. In fact, I had about forty-five actors and around fifteen production staff who volunteered time to assist me, some of whom had worked on award-winning motion pictures.

Hand-clappingI had a well-known media personality from a Washington, D.C. media group call me in my dorm room wanting a preview copy of my movie (which I wasn’t able to give him due to last minute editing still taking place). I had funded the movie with my own money and recovered all expenses through sales of the movie after it was produced (although I did not market it to a broad audience because I didn’t want to be known for a student production). I started editing in January of 1996, during which time I was also composing and producing the music for the movie.  I spent a lot of nights without much or any sleep preparing the movie for the April debut. One night I still remember leaving the editing suite and heading straight to work in the morning after having not slept.

FrameI make no claims that my production was a five star top-of-the-line movie since it was only a student project, but I will say that I was blessed at the end of the premiere showing to receive a standing ovation from the generous audience members.  The Dean of Fine Arts, who was in the audience, came over to me and gave me his personal business card and told me to let him know if he could help me in my endeavors. Also, I was told that the movie was so popular that they wanted to have an additional showing in another building on campus. I consented.

aim highWhen I set out of grad school, my desire was to be a musician and a motion picture director, but I wanted to only do so if I could maintain my conscience.  I didn’t care about the fame.  My main desire was to influence people for Jesus Christ, and I absolutely loved the arts with all of my heart.  I had more acquaintances than I could even count and had accumulated some pretty amazing contacts in the arts world at the time. It was really astounding how many people I had met who were either in the film industry or who were tied into national media or some other powerful position, and it was also pretty phenomenal how I met each of them. It was like so many opportunities were just falling into my lap.

Wally Rogers

Wally Rogers offered me his card.

Around that time, the founder of the world’s largest (and allegedly first) commercial print modeling agency in New York City handed me his personal card and told me to visit his office in New York City. I was asked by a “mover and shaker” from New York City with whom I am still socially connected to write a motion picture script for him after he had received a copy of my grad project (the before-mentioned motion picture).  He also offered to introduce me to his friends at Fox News in NYC for television opportunities.  Also, as a young man in my late 20s, I was asked by a local talent agent if I would serve as a judge for their upcoming Star Search talent competition.

PaparazziI had received a schedule of programs and classes in the mail from UCLA and was very close to going off to their summer Producer’s program, but realized there were no “holy” choices for the internship portion of the program.  I also walked away from the offer to become a speech teacher for a high-dollar liberal university. There have been other offers that I have refused due to conscience and GOD’s Spirit guiding me past those pitfalls.  I have even walked away from “ministries” in order to maintain conscience. If I wasn’t going to give my conscience away for millions of dollars, then why would I be foolish enough to give it away for a salary that was below the poverty level? Why any average pastor would give away their conscience for the low salary they’re paid is beyond my comprehension.

186926380

Very connected, talent agent from NYC, currently residing in West Hollywood.

Do I have regrets about any of the above decisions?  Absolutely not. You will seldom find someone who regrets making the right choice, but the world is filled with those who regret making the wrong one.  As a “twenty-something”, I had made connections with various men of power including a gentleman from Sparrow Records in Nashville who had worked with Steve Green and Steven Curtis Chapman (men who mimic pagan rock music in GOD’s name). I couldn’t sing rock music in the name of GOD. In Atlanta, I met a talent scout who had worked with Madonna and an enormous number of other celebrities (not exactly spiritual, eh?). We talked “shop” about the television industry, and he made offers to me, but I did not accept any of his offers.  Eventually, I was able to share the Gospel with him.

katzenberg

Jeffrey Katzenberg, seated right

In the years during my student movie, I had also met a professional make-up artist who had volunteered to help me with my student production. She had worked with UCLA and with popular Hollywood shows. Her Jewish husband did taxes for Stephen Spielberg, and she offered to introduce me to Jeffrey Katzenberg, CEO of Dreamworks animation. It would have been a pleasure to meet Mr. Katzenberg, but at the time I was young and feeling very vulnerable to temptation so I never accepted this offer. I believe I made the right choice for that time in my life. After working with her, I was able to sit down and share the Gospel with her for quite some time.

Rock Show

There were many more people and opportunities, but instead of talking endlessly of the opportunities and different personalities, suffice it to say that I knew at that time in my life that the world was definitely before me. I just had to reach out and grab it. It’s almost like Satan was standing with his hand outstretched saying “All of this do I offer you IF …”.

The real irony is that many young people today who claim to know Jesus would think that “jesus” was opening all those doors for them to enjoy power, money, and fame, but for the “gospel’s sake”, … of course.

Zachary_Levi

Zachary Levi, actor
Zachary performs abominations on-camera in order to maintain his job. He also works as an ambassador for Operation Smile, a charitable medical organization founded and run by Jesuit and Catholic-educated William P. Magee, Jr.

In their own minds, the end justifies the means, even though GOD forbids such a philosophy and strongly warns against disobedience and depravity being used to “further His cause”.  How often have you heard people who claim His name who make their living as a celebrity by either showing skin, cursing, or some other vice, yet they talk of how “God” has really “opened the doors for them”.  This generation of American “believers” are increasingly reprobate in their discernment between good and evil.  While some rare souls may come to Christ after they have already made their money and fame, and may be able to get some work on a few projects here and there, most of Hollywood, the music business, the modeling industry, and other brokers of fame and wealth are exceedingly virulent against anyone claiming the name of Christ and will usually push them to the fringe or completely out as can be seen in the lives of Kirk Cameron and Chuck Norris who now work mainly on independent movies, even with their outstanding resumes and abilities.

Even self-avowed “believers” who attempt to please the unbelieving producers and power brokers by swearing, speaking in favor of sin, or by displaying adulterous or similar depraved behavior onstage or onscreen in order to get “the gig” such as actors Zachary Levi and Adam Baldwin (if they are truly Christians and not Catholic or other false ‘believers’ … even these individuals who work so hard to please the world instead of pleasing GOD) are still pushed extremely hard against their comfort limits if they expect to keep their job and avoid being black-balled by producers. Then again, perhaps many of these types of “believers” are false brethren and pagan pleasure is within their comfort limits.

i have decidedEven greater are the numbers of those who go beyond just compromising their beliefs or morals and who eventually join in occult or diabolical activity as they continue in the industry (as can be seen in the likes of certain former Disney-stars-gone-wild and others).

In fact, those who hit superstar status in this life have learned one of life’s dirty secrets. The path to power runs through Rome and her occult masters and lords.  Even in this way, I had connections to Rome since my family was saved out of Catholicism and my grandmother had studied to be a nun, because your family blood is important to certain men and I’m not talking about just your local priests either, because those men are not the truly powerful connections.  At least, not like the Bishops, Cardinals, and Knights.

Rome - path to power

The path to power runs through occult Rome.

Specifically, I am speaking of men I knew who were Vatican Knights of a variety of orders and occult in nature – an easy way to the path of power. Did you really think that talent was all that was needed to move to the top of the pyramid?

Could I have taken the risk and plunged into the Hollywood arena with good intentions to “stay strong”? Sure, but there was great risk in doing so, especially as a young man in my 20s at the time.  I spoke with Dr. John Ankerberg about my desires and he told me to talk with Ted Baehr, who founded the Movieguide and the Christian Film & Television Commission. Mr. Baehr counseled me to be very wary of working with those in Hollywood who are not followers of Christ. He seemed to not be telling me everything, but he told me enough that I felt the right decision was to avoid the Hollywood scene. After expending much time in research into the occult nature of much of the Hollywood networks, I believe what Ted perhaps may have “not been telling me” was how incredibly occult the entire industry and its many players truly were. Looking back, I realize that even Ted Baehr had made compromises in his “Christian” movie and television social network as seen in his many ecumenical connections. How easy it is for all of us to disobey Christ when we want to follow our dreams instead of following Christ’s example in bearing our cross of suffering.

I still remember telling a friend of mine in first grade outside the door of our public school classroom that my favorite song was “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus”.  In a sense, that song reflects my heart’s desire for my life.

“The world behind me.
The cross before me.
No turning back.”

images (2)I knew what it would take to get to the top – an enormous amount of capital (which I didn’t have) … or a piece at a time of my conscience either in procuring such funding or in working for the established industry. Of even those men who are Christians and wealthy enough to fund a motion picture that is clean, there aren’t a lot of them who are willing to fund the movie of a young rookie producer just out of college.  As I began to slowly make decisions to follow conscience for Jesus Christ, I also began to turn down each and every one of these opportunities.  Why?   I saw “little” sins were needed in order to accomplish a variety of things on the way to human “glory”.  In order to obey Jesus Christ, His Word and His Holy Spirit, I could not gain glory in this life, but instead I had to appear foolish to those around me.  Without any real capital, I couldn’t enjoy working in the fields of writing, composition, music, and movies where my talents were best suited and for which I had studied, but had to work alongside the “slaves of Egypt” as Moses chose to do as well. He had walked away from far greater riches than me, and he had to endure far greater humility and testing than me. Instead of the royal palaces, he had chosen the desert wasteland. He is a great example to us all. Jesus is an even greater one.

CelebrityAs the years passed, I had finally walked away from all of my earthly dreams and ambitions, not because I wanted to do so, but because it was the way to keep my conscience clean. Years later, I told my wife that I was content doing all of my dreams in heaven forever, because I was very doubtful I would ever see them come to fruition in this life.

images (3)Does it ever bother me?  Of course, it has. That’s the whole point of bearing a cross for Jesus Christ, isn’t it? Every time we suffer through an unbearable employment position instead of getting to do our “dream job”, we are bearing His cross.  Every time we suffer through ridicule, false accusations and loneliness for following our conscience, we are bearing His cross.  Every time we walk away from temporal pleasure in order to obey Him, we are bearing our cross.

“Then Peter said to Him, “Behold, we have left everything and followed You; what then will there be for us?” And Jesus said to them, “Truly I say to you, that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel, and everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms for My name’s sake, will receive many times as much, and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last; and the last, first.”  – Matthew 19:27-30

all-that-glittersMen, who are far better than me, have turned down opportunities like those mentioned above and even greater temporal pleasure and material gain.  I stand humbled alongside men of much greater character, stature, and ability than me who have chosen Jesus Christ instead of the temporal, unsatisfying “fool’s gold” that Satan offers in exchange for one tiny piece of your conscience at a time.  Once you have turned down great temptations such as those associated with the music, movie, or modeling industries, then it makes little sense to fear people regarding your beliefs on everyday Christian living, music, dress, pagan holidays, Biblical doctrine or other lesser temptations.  It doesn’t mean you are free from temptation. Also, the little “temptations” can lead you back to the larger ones. However, if you refuse to become rich, famous, immoral, and immersed in earthly pleasures galore, it does make sense that you will not be as likely to whine around and justify your pagan lifestyle or doctrinal additions to Scripture.  The only people who do such things are those who are unwilling to think beyond what their parents or clergy told them to think and who are “following” Jesus Christ only because it doesn’t inconvenience them too much.  Many of these type of people are just totally blind to such sins in their life and they lack discernment.

what_are_you_willing_to_sacrifice_xlargeI’m sure many of my friends relegated me to the status of a “stick in the mud” as I grew more conscientious.  I also found that the more I gave over to GOD, it seemed He showed me even more light so that I could see even greater abominations in my life. I had heard once from a friend that the Bible has a principle of “receding light”.  In other words, if you obey GOD in what you know He wants you to do, then He will reveal even more to you. If you don’t obey Him in the basic things, He will not only stop revealing more to you, but will allow you to sink deeper into darkness.  From my reading of Scripture and from having seen this happen in my life, I would say my friend had a great point.  The thing about darkness though is that most people want to stay in theirs.  Your light makes them uncomfortable.  It’s not a way to “win friends and influence people” (to borrow the old Dale Carnegie slogan).

“For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.”  – Matthew 16:25

pictureA quick look at the articles in this blog will tell you quickly that the purpose of my writing is not to win a popularity contest. In many ways, I sound like a fool compared to the popular voices of contemporary society.

You will see articles on modesty.  Who really wants to hear about that subject, right? Almost everybody I know is immodest if you compare them to Biblical standards.

You will see articles on pagan holidays and the sacrilegious practice of re-purposing Baal practices and culture for GOD.  Who wants to hear that?  Almost all my friends want to celebrate pagan holidays and even do it in GOD’s name.

rock2You will see articles explaining the dangers of rock music.  Almost everybody today listens to rock music. You will also see articles on “modern hymns” and other attempts to push rock music into the homes and local congregations of believers. Who wants to hear such a message today?  Almost all families and congregations have embraced the sensual, shamanic sounds of paganism in their musical selections.  Even some of the world’s old “sex symbol” singers from the 40s, 50s, and even 60s and 70s, sound less sensual than most “christian” singers today.

You will see articles on my blog about temperance (which used to be a law in America during the Prohibition era).  Almost everybody drinks alcohol today.

The Vatican errantly approves Harry Potter's witchcraft.  Who will speak out?

The Vatican errantly approves Harry Potter’s witchcraft, but what do you expect from such a pagan religious system as the Roman system which is one of the oldest religions in the world that combine the occult beliefs of Baal with the Christian beliefs of the Bible? Who will speak out against such sacrilege?

You will see articles against the occult. Almost everyone watches occult shows, listens to occult music, and reads occult literature (i.e. Charmed, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, etc).

You will see articles pointing out false teachers (a practice which the Bible commands us to do).  Most people I know think that’s “unloving” and “mean” to do.

When I have tried to speak to friends about false teachers, I have been told that I’m not very gracious in my speech.  I’m sure I can always improve.  However, I have found that ultimately, the real reason people say you “lack love” or your presentation isn’t “gracious enough” is because you’ve named one of their pet sins or false doctrines.  For this, they will hate you.  They do not want to hear what you have to say.  Instead of discussing Scripture with you, they quote their favorite false teachers or other man-made literature.

The further you travel the “narrow road” mentioned by Jesus Christ, the more you will find your dreams are falling by the wayside and the more despised you will become and the more you will suffer loss.  At least, that’s what I’ve found in my life.

“Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”  – 2 Timothy 3:12

“Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.”  – Luke 14:27

Philippians-3-7Didn’t Jesus tell us to “count the cost” of discipleship?

At the end of the day, what will really matter?  Material reward now or material reward eternally? Comfort now or comfort eternally? The smile of GOD now or fame and the fickle applause of men? Pleasure now or pleasure forever more? What is the road less taken?

“Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.” – Luke 13:24

plank_in_eyeMost seek to release their own consciences from guilt by saying that it is you who are not very loving.  It is you who are too strict. It is you who are too judgmental.  It is you who has the problem.  They seek to pull the splinter out of your eye, because you don’t say things as graciously as they think you should or because you make some error in how you present the message, but while we can always be improving our “serve”, the truth is that they ultimately hate your message. They have beams coming out of their own eyes. They may make you feel like a fool for following Christ and for turning down the very things your flesh craves, but keep in mind that only what’s done for Christ will last.  What does GOD think of those who claim His name but then take His name in vain in order to make a dollar?  What does He think of those who show some skin or flirt with sin in order to enjoy their craft or fulfill their pleasures and desires in this life?

“We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are held in honor, but we in disrepute. To the present hour we hunger and thirst, we are poorly dressed and buffeted and homeless, and we labor, working with our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we entreat. We have become, and are still, like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things.” – 1 Corinthians 4:10-13

never knew you

Do not stop speaking out.  While you may stop speaking to a certain audience and in a sense “shake the dust off of your feet” as a testimony against them, you must find a new audience and continue to speak out for Jesus Christ and live the life He requires as a model.

Take courage, my fellow disciples of Jesus Christ.  Be rare.  We will suffer, but there is an eternity of glory that awaits us.  It’s so easy to feel like a fool for turning down the desires and pleasures of this life.

“Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their craftiness,” and again, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.” So let no one boast in men. For all things are yours”  – 1 Corinthians 3:18-21

Play the man.  Anyone can play the fool.

“I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”
– Robert Frost, poet