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Learning After Effects

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Always looking for something new and exciting to learn and dabble gets dangerous. Spreading myself between so many things keeps me from mastering most of the things I set out to learn. I learn enough to have an understanding of the topic and then float on to the next thing. Well, motion graphics—specifically, After Effects—has been my latest thing.

Adobe After Effects is a monster of a program. It’s been called “Photoshop with a timeline.” So, think of how complex Photoshop is and how many different tools and functions that are built in then multiply that by ten. That’s how I would describe it.

After Effects (AE) is the sort of program that you need some sort of direction and help to start learning. AETuts is just the sort of tool you need to start taming the AE beast. It has various sorts of tutorials from a three part Beginners Guide to an animated homage to Bruce Lee to breath-taking cinematic sequences. However, for the beginner, I’d suggest skipping the breath-taking stuff and jump into the beginner’s guide. It’s there for a reason.

After I went through the beginner’s guide, I decided I needed a project to work on. I’m the sort of person who needs to be doing it and fiddling to learn. I decided the best way to do it was purchase a project file from Video Hive and start tinkering around and see how other people put together projects.

To see the two projects I played with, you can go to UNVEILED | Opener and The Bridge Overnighter on Vimeo.

3 Unsung Heroes

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I’ve always been interested in the twelve apostles. I would love to hear from Jesus why he choose just twelve and why each of them individually. While reading the story of Jesus selecting his disciples (Mark 3:13-18), I found myself thinking about three of the disciples: James (son of Alphaeus), Thaddaeus (or Judas son of James), and Simon the Zealot.

The most extraordinary thing about these three is that we know almost nothing about them. They are practically only there in name. Thaddaeus asked Jesus one question and the other guys seem to have only been present in the gospels. When the early Christian church started, there seems to be no reference to their roles or significant things that they did. These three guys seem to be nothing special at all.

However, they were called. Like Paul says in 1 Timothy 1:12, “he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service.” The Lord considered these guys faithful and knew that they would follow him and obey him.

I often find myself looking for God to use me in big ways, the sort of things that people will see and know it was God. In doing such, I lose focus on simply following Jesus and obeying him in the little, average ways. That needs to be my focus: following and obeying Jesus. Not looking for big ways and things that I can do for him, but simply living a daily life in obedience.

Maybe nothing will ever be written about me, but I’ll know that I heard from the Lord and faithfully followed after him. And that’s enough for me.

Calling of Levi

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I’ve read the story of Levi’s calling (Mark 2:13-17) many times before. Often, when discussing this passage, it’s often talked about as an example for how the church should be: we should care more for investing in those who don’t know Jesus than the church folk.

That’s a great sentiment, but I wonder if we are only getting half of the story. Jesus ate and spent time with those who would be considered unclean and sinners. He didn’t separate himself from those who weren’t holy. And he didn’t ask his followers to cut themselves off from others.

This could probably apply more to us as individual Christians then to the church. I see a lot of this attitude of pulling away from all things and people that aren’t Chrisitians like us. Most of the time it’s in the name of being more holy (which we are called to be, by the way).

I even see that in myself to a certain degree. I work at church. Almost all of the relationships in my life are with other Christians. And I’m rather comfortable with that, unfortunately. Yet, I know something is missing in maintaining that kind of life.

It’s the most clear to me when I have the opportunity to reconnect with an old high school friend over coffee and talk about life. Even though I may not be sharing about Jesus directly, I feel so much more alive, like I’m doing exactly what I was created for. I know my faith was intended to be something more than just living with other Christians.

This is more a personal reflection than a devotional, but that’s ok. Read Mark 2:13-17 and ponder the passage for yourself.

New Mac? Never.

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Sooner or later everyone needs to upgrade their computer. I’m in the “sooner” category. My 5 year old Powerbook just isn’t cutting it when it comes to render times and streaming HD video.

Recently, I’ve had my eye on a new iMac. They are about a million times faster than my old computer, bigger screen real estate, and they are just sexy. And their price tags start at a whopping $1200.

Despite my deep longing, if not need, I can’t justify $1200 on a new computer right now. Most people are in the same boat right now with the economy as bad as it is and not many people feel completely secure in their jobs. So buying a new computer drops down on the priority list.

Well, if you still long for a new computer, there is a great way to cut down on the cost: buy refurbished. A refurbished computer is one that was returned due to some sort of malfunction, fixed and given a clean bill of health, and then resold for a reduced price.

In the Apple Store online, there is a section specifically for refurbished Macs. I’ve seen a $1500 iMac for $1050. That’s a stinkin’ stellar deal! The only catch is that you can’t customize the machine’s add-ons and you never can be certain what sorts of refurbished machines they will have available. So, unless you are really picky about your needs or are looking for something specific in a hurry, this is the way to buy a new (practically) Mac.

That’s what I’m gonna do for my next computer.

Speak as if it were…

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Today, I was reminded of the Shane & Shane song Yearn. A line of the song reads:

I want to yearn for you. I want to burn with a passion over you.

That’s totally been my prayer. I often find myself not really yearning for God, but really wishing I did. And that’s a frustrating place to be. I start asking myself why I don’t and trying to figure out things I need to do to want to know Jesus more.

But the truth of the matter is that I’ve bought into a lie.

When we come to know Jesus as our Savior, He says that the old is gone and the new has come. We are new creations in Christ. We are set free from sin and death. The key word is “are.” If God says we are, that means that we are. Period.

The truth that I’m reminded of tonight is that we need to stop settling for statements like “I just don’t yearn or desire God.” The Lord has declared us his children and that we are free from sin and death and being bound by the things of this world. So, we need to start speaking it as if it were. Even when I don’t feel like I want God enough, I will declare that I yearn for him and that I am living for him. I speak the truth that God has already declared.

I am a man of God. I am a person of prayer. I do yearn for God. I am good enough. I am free.

A Call To Remember

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During the Truth Project this morning we talked about history. At face value, today seemed like one of the more boring subjects that the TP have addressed. However, I think this may have had some of the most practical applications of them all. And that’s what this is about.

Remember. Throughout the Bible, God is constantly calling Israel to remember. That always had been one of their struggles. Right after God delivered them from their exile in Egypt, they started forgetting what he had done. During the time of the judges and kings, you see countless accounts of the prophets to remember what God had done and what he’d called his children to. Whenever they would forget, the Israelites would start turning to the things of the world.

I think we do the same thing. Daily. I know I do. I forget what God has done in my life and who I am according to him. I believe lies. I’m not good enough. I don’t know enough. I don’t have enough time. I can’t… I don’t… I’m not… These are lies that we all face.

Remember. Remembering is the answer. Remembering what God has done in the larger picture and in our lives personally. And remembering who he says we are.

I’d challenge you to take some time right now, and reflect on what God has done in your life and who you are in his eyes.