But please hear my heart and real burden for this film. What hurts my heart is that we can never be the Body of Christ the way God designed if we don’t get the sex thing under control. Our spiritual authority and ability to minister are so dependent upon our intimacy with God, the indwelling of his Spirit, true transformation and overcoming, and the ability to demonstrate fullness of life in these areas. As I’ve watched my own [Christian] friends struggle with depression, anxiety, rape accusations, unwanted pregnancies, restraining orders, divorces, child custody battles, suicidal thoughts and STIs as a result of their sexual indiscretions, I’ve become convinced we’ve thrown the door wide open to Satan by the casual way we treat sex. I can hardly think of a better way for Satan to immobilize the church than to attack us sexually. We’re too busy tending our broken hearts and playing victim in the circumstances we created to model the abundant life, much less spend time reaching out to a hurting world in a way that has any real impact.
Most people instantly assume a film about “purity” comes from a judgey place of wanting to lambast all the sinners out there. But what it’s really about is celebrating the very REAL POWER to overcome! There’s freedom from whatever bondage you’re in (and now I can say that with confidence), whether it’s fear, doubt, discontentment, depression, porn addiction, sex addiction, fear of abandonment, fear of commitment, or whatever else. Now I know what its like to stand in the presence of God and feel all insecurities and fears, ego, and even physical pain fade away in the power of his presence.
This film isn’t just about purity. It’s about Revival. And perhaps now you can understand just how much I crave your prayers.
The film’s purpose is not just to put out a message about purity, but to empower the church. Do we recall that time Jesus prayed we would have the same connection to the Father that he did? And how the same power that raised Christ from the dead is at work in us? (John 17 & Eph 1.) Do we take it seriously that Christ passed his authority on to his disciples and said we would do the same things he did, and greater? (John 14.) Do we ignore that because we’re afraid of it or because we’ve never seen it modeled? And how can we continue Jesus’ radical work if we’re trapped in bondage to sin, lacking any real connection to the Holy Spirit, having “a form of godliness but denying its power?” (2 Tim 3.)
All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. 1 Cor 6:18 NIV
Check out this album of behind-the-scenes photos, shot by Tanya Musgrave.
We wrapped up filming of the Your Love Is Strong promo trailer last week, and I think we’re still on a bit of a high. 🙂 Talk about more than we could have asked or imagined. The footage looks great, but on top of that it’s pretty hard to deny that someone upstairs was really in charge. Any film shoot is a logistical nightmare, coordinating 30+ people to be at multiple locations at specific times, staying within union regulations, parking and feeding everyone, and in the meantime trying to function at max creativity within all those parameters… all on about 4 hours of sleep per night. Honestly it’s a miracle any film gets made. There were definitely moments on this shoot when David George (DP) and I were out of ideas and had less than enough time to get the shots we needed, and my brain was functioning at about 10% capacity, but somehow a tweaked camera angle later we had what we needed and it looked amazing. We managed to stay on schedule every day, which is an incredible feat in and of itself.
God blessed the project in so many ways, I think we’re left feeling a little freaked out! 🙂 2 weeks before the shoot, our budget took an unexpected 40% leap skywards. I said a prayer, made a phone call, and 15 minutes later my jaw was on the floor and the money was pledged. We had some really brilliant professionals working on this shoot for a fraction of the pay they deserve. A licensed drone operator donated his drone and his time. Tiffen donated a steadicam — we’re still trying to figure out why they did that. Thanks to our incredible camera operator Bryan Fowler, we got to shoot on the lovely Arri Amira. Most of our meals were donated. I still remember asking associate producer Tiffany Thomas for her help during preproduction. I couldn’t offer her anything but her response was, “This is God’s work and that’s my job.” Pastor Michael Kelly from Mt. Rubidoux SDA church, Stew Harty from Loma Linda University Church and 1st AD Theo Brown also played huge roles in making all of this happen.
We had an unexpected special appearance by Michael Lewis and his parents. Michael has cerebral palsy; I met him at church 7 years ago. There was one particular praise service back in 2009 when I was so touched by the look of pure joy on Michael’s face. I can still remember thinking to myself, “Someday I have to try to capture that moment in a movie.” Well as it turns out, one of our cast members Randy Morgan is now Michael’s caregiver. Randy offhandedly mentioned to me that he would be bringing Michael to set on Day 3 of the shoot. I instantly remembered that moment 7 years ago… and asked Randy if there was any chance we could put Michael in the film. The rest is history. 🙂
It’s crazy to think about all the things that have led up to this moment. Feels like a lot of things in my life are coming full circle and it makes for a very exciting, emotional, joyful, stressful and all-around crazy season. There’s nothing like seeing God at work.
We want to thank our amazing cast and dream-team-of-a-crew for making this a reality. And thanks to each one of you for the prayers, encouragement, support, and feedback. The journey is only beginning; in the next several weeks we’ll edit the trailer, do another draft of the feature script, and get ready to pitch to investors. Please continue to keep us in your prayers, not forgetting the purpose of it all — to help foster a healthy dialogue about sex and purity in the church; to empower young adults to make healthy choices that will lead to lasting relationships.
We’ll send out the trailer in a few weeks, but in the meantime here are a few behind the scenes pics by Tanya Musgrave. Enjoy!
Melody, Elizabeth, and Marilyn
Make his praise glorious
Hey guys! Lots has happened in the few weeks, not the least of which being my recent move back to LA!! It’s so amazing to finally be home after [what I can hardly believe has been] 6 years of nomadery, from Tennessee to Ohio to Loma Linda and back. It’s been grand, but I’m so glad to be home getting resettled and doing what I really love most.
Right then, back to work. God has been opening doors right and left and I am just so, so excited. 🙂 Please continue to keep the project in your prayers, remembering the words of the esteemed Ozzy Chambers: “Prayer does not fit us for the greater work; prayer is the greater work.”
Shorter newsletter this time around (PTL, right?). But I had to take a minute to do some praising. I quit my job in May, 2015 (after much careful prayer and deliberation, I’ll note) to make time to write the script, trusting God to provide month by month. Welp, I just took a job in LA so starting March 1 I’ll be back in the land of regular paychecks. But I wanted to share that from May 2015 – Feb 2016, God provided just enough income every month and I was never late on a bill.
Does this mean I was never stressed? Nope. That it was easy? No. Did I get tired of eating lentils? YES. But every time I would feel the temptation to stay up late at night frantically trawling Craigslist for work, God would put this question to me: “Are you doing this from faith or fear?” So I would stop right there and wait. And something would always come in. I didn’t have to go scrounging for work because the work came to me.
Between those gigs and your generous help, I made it!! The script is ready and Marilyn can now take it and run with it.
God is faithful.
For the next few months it will be more market research, polishing the script, helping Marilyn with the budget, etc. I know it will continue to be a challenge to make time to push the movie forward while working another job, so please pray for me. Your charitable contributions from this point on will pay for professional help with the market research, business plan, & box office projections. If you feel led to donate you can do so at www.puremovie.org.
Praising God for his faithful provision and thanking you for your prayers, encouragement, and support!!
I sat on the edge of my bed and tried to quiet my mind. There had been tons of flirting going on for several weeks now, but still nothing concrete enough to show me he had intentions. I had been warned about this guy, but still, I couldn’t help it: I was crazy about him. I was filled with frustration, confusion and worry because I didn’t want to get into something that would only end up hurting me.
I spent some time in total silence, asking God to direct my thoughts and give me some sort of guidance.
One single phrase popped into my mind: “I am not a God of confusion, but of peace.”
Instantly, I knew what this meant. I knew I had zero peace in the situation; that the whole thing was fraught with ambiguity, frustration and fear, and this was no foundation for a God-breathed romance. You’d think I would have heeded the warning. But instead, I flirted with the danger for nearly another year. Then the relationship ended in a fiery, flaming disaster and killed what had been a very meaningful friendship up to that point.
You’d think I would have learned from that experience. But a year later, another man walked into my life, whom I shall call Steve.
Steve was attractive to me in every possible way. He was brilliant, ambitious, spiritual, and had biceps bigger than my head. He unequivocally supported my career goals and pushed me to dream even bigger. He challenged me to grow spiritually and get more involved serving the community. He would talk about all the various ministries he wanted to start, and the difference we could make together as a couple. And when he prayed, I would practically swoon.
I was raised with the traditional view of “no sex before marriage,” but I didn’t really need much convincing. Seeing how much heartache premature sexual activity had brought into friends’ lives, and how much it blinded them from making good choices about long-term compatibility, I saw the wisdom in it. I was rock solid on this one. I communicated that standard to Steve early on in our relationship, and he respected it, although he didn’t particularly embrace that standard himself. He would sometimes ask me, “Doesn’t God have better things to worry about?”
Still, he respected me. Things got serious very quickly, and I was pretty sure this was the man I wanted to spend the rest of my life with.
Until he broke up with me. Because I wouldn’t sleep with him.
I saw it coming, but it didn’t lessen the impact. One evening he told me he didn’t plan on getting married anytime in the next few years, and he wasn’t going to wait that long.
That night, for the first time in my life, I questioned whether abstinence till marriage was really all that important to God. What if this one technicality prevented me from being with the guy I was meant to be with? I went home and pored over books and articles till the early hours of the morning. It would take a long time to share all that I read that night, but suffice it to say—by 2 am, I knew in my gut what God was asking of me.
One week after the breakup, I found out from mutual friends that Steve had been dating someone else simultaneously, and that when he was gone on “business trips” he was actually spending the night at his ex-wife’s house.
Though I could now see what this seemingly arbitrary standard had protected me from, I was bitterly angry at God. In the months of heartache that followed, I asked God “Why?” Why did you allow such a thing? Why didn’t you warn me? Why didn’t you answer my continual pleas for guidance? I stayed faithful to you, so why did you remove your hand of protection and let me walk blindly into such a devastating situation?
I probably spent another year and a half feeling broken, rejected, generally insecure, and spiritually off.
Until one night in February of 2013. As I lay awake asking God to heal me, the Holy Spirit spoke to me. With such gentleness, he showed me that he had warned me…“I am not a God of confusion, but of peace.”
That he had cautioned me…“How can you be yoked to someone who doesn’t share your deeply-held convictions?”
Up until that point, I had blamed Steve and the previous guy as well. They had severely mistreated me, wronged me; they had ruined my life. JERKS. But now with such tenderness, God showed me so clearly that he’d put a check in my spirit, and I’d ignored it in both cases. I had chosen to be in those unhealthy situations. I wanted so badly to be in those relationships that I had chosen those men over God. This was, plain and simple, idolatry.
I lay there as one epiphany after another smote me. And lucky for me, I was actually low enough to listen this time around. Instead of getting defensive and arguing with God, I thanked him over and over. That night I asked for forgiveness, and promised God that with his help I would never put a man before him again.
When I was five years old, my mom and dad sat down with me and asked if I wanted to invite Jesus into my heart. I said yes, and they led me in that most simple and foundational of prayers. It is one of my earliest childhood memories. From that time forward, I had such an intimate connection with God and active prayer life, even as a kid. That sense of intimacy, pure love for God and awe for his beauty continued into my adulthood. I spoke to him and he spoke back. I could honestly say I was deeply in love with God, and nothing thrilled me more than to see him at work in my life.
But during that two year period when I was disobeying his Spirit, that all changed. I couldn’t hear him. I kept asking why he was so silent. If I uttered the words “I love you, Lord,” in a song at church, it was with a strange hesitancy. “Why won’t you answer me?! Why won’t you give me that intuition about these situations like you used to? Why won’t you speak to me like you used to?”
This particular night in February as I repented of loving a man more than I loved God, that sense of intimacy returned almost instantly. It was like the lines of communication flew open again. And as time went on I started to fall back in love with God as I saw how, far from depriving me of what I wanted most, he was showing me the path back to health and God-inspired romance.
This all points to one of the most difficult lessons I’ve had to learn in my adult Christian life, and that is this: When we say God isn’t answering our prayers, it’s often because he’s saying something we’re not willing to hear. There is a fog that comes from disobedience; it clouds our judgment and leads us to question not only God’s goodness, but his existence as well.
I kept tabs on Steve via mutual friends, and watched as he spiraled into depression and through his sexual irresponsibility continued to wreak havoc in his own life and that of many, many women. I’m still haunted by the irony of his question—”Doesn’t God have better things to worry about?”
I still have to work to keep relationships from turning into an idol in my life. It’s a daily discipline to keep God first, to love and cherish and pursue him above all else. And to trust him with this all-important area of my life. Writing this story is just one sinner’s attempt to grapple with the terrifying and devastating yet enthralling and glorious discovery of a God who demands nothing less than our absolute devotion. That kind of submission goes far beyond keeping ourselves physically pure, to keeping ourselves devoted to God above every other earthly desire.
One night after working a particularly draining 18-hour day, I remember thinking to myself how awesome it would be just to have someone around to give me a hug and tell me they were proud of me. I remember asking God if he could really be “enough” for me, the way all the songs suggest. It was as if he whispered back—”Will you let me?”
I decided I should read a quick chapter in Psalms before I went to bed, but as I sat down my Bible fell open to Isaiah 54 and my eye went straight to verse 5:
“For your Maker is your husband—
The Lord Almighty is his name—
the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer;
he is called the God of all the earth.
The Lord will call you back
as if you were a wife deserted and distressed in spirit—
a wife who married young, only to be rejected’ says your God.
‘For a brief moment I abandoned you,
but with deep compassion I will bring you back.
In a surge of anger I hid my face from you for a moment,
but with everlasting kindness I will have compassion on you.”
This is the living, breathing, terrifyingly intimate God we serve.
N E W S
EP Marilyn Beaubien and I begin work on the budget this month. The script just became a semi-finalist in the KAIROS competition for Spiritually Uplifting Screenplays! Many, many thanks for your support and prayers! Please continue to pray that this project will help train churches to empower young adults to make mature, Godly, healthy relationship choices.
If you want to support the project, you can make a tax-deductible donation at www.puremovie.org.