My Interview with Actress Ashley Sutton

Guys, this is my 5th interview for the ‘Faith and Entertainment’ series, BUT it’s my 1st interview with an actor in Hollywood.

Ashley Sutton has been in numerous movies & commercials, done voice-overs, and has worked with huge companies such as MAC cosmetics and the Jessa Hinton swimsuit line. She also worked with Jean-Claude Van Damme in the movie, Swelter.

This interview was so much fun! So encouraging. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

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[Brent]  How do you continue to nurture your relationship with Jesus while managing/growing your career and travel schedule?

[Ashley]  This is probably the hardest question being young in the world today with social media. It’s easy to focus on self. So I’d have to say keeping people of faith around me regularly is absolutely critical. I also have learned to say ‘no’ a lot to take care of myself. I work to make it part of my self-care. This often includes lots of listening to worship music, and frequently asking, “What can I do (to connect with Jesus) RIGHT NOW?”

[Brent]  What is one of the most helpful pieces of life advice (outside of family) anyone has ever offered to you?

[Ashley]  Well, my acting manager is a Christian. And she’s constantly reminding me that everything is going to be OK. God is in control. And that it’ll all end up how He wants it to work out for me.

[Brent]  What does Ashley’s personal quiet time look like?  How do you connect with God best?

[Ashley]  It’s not consistent at all. It’s just so hard in career with no set schedule in the day. So having a regular routine is simply impossible. But I hike a lot. I look at the flowers and their intricate design. The sound of birds singing and other things God made. These remind me of him. He feels close when I’m enjoying his creation outdoors. I also listen pretty exclusively to Christian. Commuting in L.A. allots me plenty of time for this.

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[Brent]  We all experience constant hills and valleys, and the seasons in between. Regarding your most recent valley, can you describe how you weathered it? Prayer, scripture, wise counsel, music?

[Ashley]  I’ve been a Christian since I was very young. I grew up in the Catholic church, and then stepped away to my own church where I could better connect. In 2013, I was in a very bad accident on a movie set on a boat. I almost died! My faith changed after that day. I think often the only way to get out of our spiritual valleys (dark seasons) is to just keep moving. Do things that bring joy. Another thing is that quantity not same as quality when it comes to friendships. More is not better. A million Instagram followers won’t comfort or help me when I’m struggling as much as a small handful of really close friends. Struggle is OK, it builds character. (authentic comment coming) My accident actually showed me that I didn’t really like the person I was before the accident. Without hard times we wouldn’t be able to grow and be able to continue to work on becoming the best version of ourselves.

[Brent]  Is God teaching you anything new right now?

[Ashley]  Oh yes. Just the same lessons. To be patient! My default is to work ward to obtain goals quickly. So it seems God is regularly reminding me, ‘Work hard, but don’t be anxious about obtaining results immediately. Leave that part to me.’

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[Brent]  If you could travel back in time and witness any event recorded in the Bible, what would it be…and why?

[Ashley]  I’d have to say it would be when Jesus was sleeping in the boat during a storm and his disciples were freaking out. He asked them why they had such little faith. I’d want to witness that because that would show me the level of strength/faith I should have and need. I’m an actress. I live in pictures, so actually watching this would be amazing.

[Brent]  Looking back, if you could give college-age Ashley any advice for the years ahead of her, what would it be?

[Ashley]  Find what brings you joy and stay with that. Don’t worry about anything else. The rest isn’t nearly as important. Don’t allow simple moments with family slip by because you feel like you should be working on your career.

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[Brent]  Do you have any personal boundaries for accountability with so much available to you?

[Ashley]  Simply being willing to say no to jobs/opportunities that might not be best for me. This hasn’t always been true for me, but now I just don’t do it. I’m much more selective with what acting roles and other opportunities are available to me.

[Brent]  Lastly, what made you want to do this interview?

[Ashley]  I don’t actively take steps to go out and talk about my faith. It’s usually more private. I thought this might be a good way of letting others no the realist version of myself, possibly helping someone who reads this. But I think this is also good for non-believers who read this. Christians haven’t always openly, or accurately, portrayed the hard part of life.

I’ll leave you with this small but enjoyable work of Ashley’s…

You can learn more about Ashley Sutton at her webpage, or stay connected with her on Instagram.

 

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How To Embrace Your ‘New’ Season

Ok, if I’m honest I really don’t have a firm grasp on embracing new seasons myself. But like many of you, I am in the middle of weathering one currently so…let’s have a discussion. Shall we?

As I was beginning to pen this post, this scripture came to mind…

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” – Eccl. 3:1

A Season, or time, for everything. The Hebrew meaning for time here is a ‘set or appointed time.’ In other words, the seasons you and I are facing today are no surprise to God. There is a reason we are where we are!

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And sometimes this requires us to reevaluate some of the regular patterns and habits we’ve set in place. To change things up a bit, if you will. Now, this is really difficult for a guy who ‘needs’ to know what to expect in my day and who values (to a fault) concrete habits. It’s my comfort zone, BUT God operates best outside of comfort zones!

So, what does it look like to EMBRACE a new season of life?

Here’s what I know and have personally experienced. We must be willing to step into it. This requires (demands) faith. And faith without action is dead. You and I must be able to rest in the promise that God is not surprised by where we are right now, and he does have a purpose for us while we are there.

Be intentional to spend time in his Word. Ask him to speak clearly to you through his Word and through other believers. Journal your thoughts and what you think God is telling you.

 

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3 Things Every Believer Must Practice Regularly

Great pastors and authors like Richard Foster and Dallas Willard have taught about the subject of Spiritual Disciplines for years. Now, there isn’t a complete list like the Ten Commandments in the Bible that groups all of the disciplines together for us (although that might have been handy). The Bible doesn’t even refer to them as Spiritual Disciplines. Yet, these are spiritual practices Christ followers can observe so that they are able to grow and mature in their faith and their understanding of God.

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While disciplines like solitude, fasting, and tithing are among well over a dozen others, below are three spiritual practices I believe to be absolutely critical if a believer wants to experience life fulfillment, have joy, and grow closer to Jesus.

Bible Intake |  The Bible holds all that we need to know about God’s character and his heart toward us. If we never read the Scriptures and only pray and spend time with other believers, all we will have is a highly personalized philosophy of God. Very little truth or foundation.

But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4) And of course we know that all scripture is inspired/breathed by God. It’s not an option. We were created for God’s word to fuel us, to give us life.

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” (Psalm 119:105) God’s word guides our choices and directs us on our life journey. He’s our GPS! And here’s the great thing. We you and I take a wrong turn in life, he simply says, ‘re-routing.’

“Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.” (Psalm 119:18) A couple of those ‘wondrous things’ would be learning about God’s will for us and making new discoveries of his character and personality.

Prayer | When we take time to pray we are making an investment in our relationship with God. I’ve often said that prayer is like taking God to coffee. You hopefully enjoy each other’s company, learn something new about each other, and openly share what’s on your hearts.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” (Philippians 4:6) God already knows what you want and need. So why pray? Because God actually wants us coming to him, talking to him, and acknowledging the relationship. God is not a deadbeat dad who is disconnected and merely sends a child support check in the mail each month.

When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.” (Psalm 34:17) God both hears and acts. He’s accessible 24/7. And he works on our behalf.

Community with other believers | We were not created to do life alone, nor to thrive or struggle on our own. Not only do we see the importance of community in the Creation story back in Genesis, but it was also fully lived out by Jesus with his disciples.

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:24-25)  Believers should lovingly encourage each other to do good for others and to love in ways like Jesus did.

“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2) Walking 100 yards with a 500 pound weight on your back is MUCH EASIER if you have a large number of like-minded friends near you to help carry it.

So, would YOU add anything to my list? Have you experienced these three things in your own life?

And possibly more important, do you struggle with one of these more that others?

 

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What To Run To And From

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A quote by Erwin McManus from the final day reading of The Way of the Warrior devotion on Youversion.
Sometimes we need to run. Toward or away, but running is action. Away from fear, negativity, and unhealthy influences. And toward hope, love, and real community.
Now, regarding people we need in our lives…let’s define ‘need.’ Need isn’t the same as want, or even demand. The people we really need in our lives can be defined this way. We need those who honestly care about what’s best for us and who will journey with us.

 

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How To Choose Joy In The Tough Things

Jethani

Last week I had the privilege to hear Skye Jethani speak at our District Pastors’  Conference.

This is a quote from his talk that really grabbed my attention. Let me provide a little context.

Examples of some things we DO NOT choose: medical diagnosis, unemployment, depression, ministry calling, where we are born, divorce, changes in social behavior, our parents, etc.

Some of these can be GOOD, and we all know that some can equally be UNFAVORABLE.

Now, it’s easy for us to choose JOY in the things we actually choose; things we had a say in. But it’s another issue when a life circumstance makes its way into our lives that we have little to no control over.

The REAL QUESTION to ask, then, is this. Does God have a purpose for me in this particular situation? And even though I DON’T LIKE IT, can I embrace it as my current reality and TRUST GOD to work through me?

So you see, making a conscious decision to choose (own) what we didn’t actually choose in the first place can be a real game changer.

What UNCHOSEN circumstance are you in today? What might it look like if you chose to OWN IT?

I’d love to hear what you think. Leave a comment below. You can also connect with me on Twitter and Instagram!

 

Didn’t See It Coming [review]

Here’s my review of Carey Nieuwhof’s latest book. [I received an Advance Reader Copy of this book]

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Carey Nieuwhof offers powerful insight and reflection in his latest book, ‘Didn’t See It Coming.’  (order your copy HERE)

He combines wisdom with personal authenticity in a ways that all of us can relate.

One of the inevitable challenges we will all face at some point in life is the reality of irrelevance. Carey says…

The barrier to change, of course, is that anything that deviates from your default–your normal–will feel unfamiliar, challenging, and sometimes even threatening.

This section on irrelevance was the most challenging for me personally. I’m still working through what my approach to this challenge is going to look like.

He may have written on irrelevance in a chapter or two, but this book is clearly one of the most relevant reads of the year! Please take my word for it and be sure to get a copy. And then take your time reading through it. Highlight, underline, or journal your thoughts in Evernote as you read.

I’ll leave you with a few of my favorite quotes from the book.

“When you’re no longer breathing, the legacy you’ll leave will center on your character.”

“Progress begins with self-honesty.”

“As a culture, the more connected we’ve become, the more isolated we’ve grown.”

“Conversation has become a press conference with whomever happens to be listening.”

“You can make excuses or you can make progress, but you can’t make both.”

“Culture never asks permission to change. It just changes.”

“…keep changing, learning, and evolving. Change starves off irrelevance.”

 

Learn more about Carey

You can stay connected with Carey Nieuwhof at Twitter and Instagram. And if you are a CNLPpodcast listener you really need to check out the Carey Nieuwhof Leadershp Podcast!

 

3 Tips To Implementing Strong Social Media Boundaries To Protect Your Marriage

If you’re married or engaged and one or both of you are active on Social Media, take a minute to watch this short video. I’d love to hear what you think, especially if you’ve done anything similar in your relationship.

 

Join the discussion and LEAVE A COMMENT below or connect with me on INSTAGRAM.

For specific questions about your marriage, email me brentdumler@icloud.com  

May God bless you with a fulfilling, happy, and long marriage together!

Join the #Identify3 Challenge

Needing a change of PERSPECTIVE this week…this month…this year?

Sometimes all we need is to modify our ATTENTION for our perspective to obtain clarity.

Try counting your blessings each morning. Like, REALLY counting them.

List them.

Acknowledge each blessing from God.

Challenge yourself to identify 3 ‘different’ blessings each day for a solid week. You will have a list of at least 21 unique, freely given blessings by day 7. Then, take time on the 8th day to give special thanks to Jesus for each of them.

And even if you’re not a follower of Jesus, that’s OK!  Simply recognizing the GOOD THINGS in our lives is something everyone should be able to do.

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

I’m going to do this myself!  Comment below if you’re going to accept the challenge too.  Also consider sharing this post wherever you are on social media.

Use the hashtag #Identify3 with your posts. 

To get you started well, enjoy this music video by Rend Collective! (they’re amazing)

 

Connect with me on Instagram. That’s where I spend most of my time.

The Myth Of Balance (Book Review)

Until we take responsibility, we will continue to pursue balance and blame others when we can’t find it.  – Frank Bealer

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I’ve been in church leadership for over 20 years, and I’ve experienced A LOT of dysfunction in the church.  The size of the church doesn’t decrease or increase the severity of the dysfunction either.  But I will say this.  The last 3 churches I’ve had the honor of serving on staff at were roughly 750, 1000, and currently 2000 in weekend attendance.  The dysfunction is the same.  It’s the QUANTITY that gets you!

But let’s not blame the church.  The church is made up of people (you and I), and it’s no different than a marriage relationship.  Problems are almost always connected to both sides.  That’s what I appreciate about this book.  It addresses the side leaders can have direct influence on.  OURSELVES!

I have been following Frank Bealer for the past few years and have enjoyed listening to his interviews on Carey Nieuwhof’s Leadership Podcast.  The Myth of Balance, however, elaborates on an entirely deeper level of Frank the leader, and Frank the husband/father.  He is authentic with certain ministry challenges, and if you’ve been in ministry longer than 6 months you will likely relate.  In fact, there were two points in the book which caused a knot in my throat (Don’t judge.  I’m more sensitive than the average guy).

Disclaimer:  This book is NOT for leaders who are hung up on ego and need to be NEEDED by the church.  It is, however, for those who are clearly called to making a difference in God’s Kingdom work while SIMULTANEOUSLY leading a healthy family.

Let’s get to the book.  Below is a short list of my favorite quotes from The Myth of Balance.

“Balance. It lives somewhere between unemployment and renowned success.”

“God never intended for us to sacrifice the family He blessed us with on the altar of the ministry He called us to.”  (read that one a couple more times)

“We often excuse our mismanagement of time, energy, and effort as just being busy.”

“Just because you FEEL overwhelmed doesn’t mean your work schedule is paralyzing you.”

WHEN THIS, THEN THAT… it’s coming to realize that exceptions in ministry are going to happen.  They always do.  So Frank offers a practical approach to planning for these exceptions.  Get a copy for you and your team HERE and discover your WHEN THIS, THEN THAT.  I promise…..this will create real growth conversations in your staff.

 

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