Whatever is Lovely!

I can't wait for you to see some of the Whatever TV Show! Very soon, I'll be converting old master S-VHS tapes in a digital format to share this old cable access television with the world. As I write this, I realize that this is going to seem unorganized and a bit of a mess. I'm journaling right now and processing my thoughts as I reflect back on a really cool two-year period of my life. This is a period that I will never forget. This is a period that I believe has shaped me in more ways than I realize. This is a period that I think has impacted everyone God has used me to minister to even though I didn't fully realize that until this week.

I'm not trying to be selfish here. I realize that the Whatever TV show meant a lot to many people. As a younger man, I did not fully appreciate the joy that others involved with the show gave me and the encouragement that they were in my life. However, because I'm journaling and reflecting, I am thinking about the impact this show had on me and how God has used it.

After nearly two decades, I am revisiting the joyful mess that was the Whatever TV Show. Our budget was basically zero. We were limited by the technology of our time. There was no YouTube. HD wasn't a thing. We didn't have smart phones which come stock with professional quality cameras. We had to raise money just to buy a $400 camcorder for the show. Our lighting was one construction light held by volunteers. None of us were getting paid. But, I know for myself and many others, we were having the time of our lives. I was working 2 other jobs, in addition to writing, editing, producing, and acting for the Whatever TV Show. The rest of the crew were all dear friends and family. So, staying up until 4 a.m. editing, and then turning around to be at my day job by 10 a.m. didn't feel too much like a chore. I loved it!

Our goal was to bring joy and Jesus to the masses. Now, I don't know if we will ever really know the quantity of these "masses". I know many of our family members and friends watched as the show aired once a week, late at night. The broadcast went out to the greater Clarksville and Hopkinsville area. Potentially, hundreds of thousands could have accessed our show. However, I think its realistic to say that we'd be lucky to have 50 regulars that watched our show. Nonetheless, we worked hard! 

Some of the Whatever crew after a live taping with an audience on May 19, 2001.

I truly did want people to know Jesus. I wanted people to find joy in a sad world. I wanted people to know that living God's way really is incredible and not boring and restrictive. These are all things that I still long for people to know. However, if I'm being honest, I was flying by the seat of my pants. I think we all were. The only expertise I had was a Communication degree from Austin Peay State University. Sure, I focused on Radio and Television broadcasting, but my experience was very limited. My willingness and passion was much more loaded. Thankfully, I had a best friend in Robby Garland that had been willing and excited to do stupid videos productions with me. As teenagers we made home movies called R & J Live that were nothing but our way of trying to grab attention, be funny and cute, and squeeze the juice out of life and our circle of friends. Praise God that He sent others like Brian Raker and Foh Onn Chong to help add some tech and production knowledge to our low-budget and low-experience effort. The Whatever TV Show (especially compared to today's standards) was low quality production, but it had heart and I believe it had brilliance if you looked closely enough.

God brought together a talented group of people. One of my passions in life is to be funny. I love to laugh. I love to make others laugh. However, when I try to be funny, I'm just average in my comedic quality. I'm more funny when in conversation and unintentionally. I accidentally stumble onto goofiness. But, I worked with people at the Whatever Television Show that were naturally hilarious and brilliant. Wes Cochran is one of the funniest people I've ever known. He was a natural and Jim Carrey-like. Glen Leathers was loveable as the funny man. Darrell Willis was insanely funny and highly energetic. David Britton and Jon Radford, while musically brilliant and artistic, also showed a level of comedic showmanship that just came natural. My precious wife, Stephanie, is still one of the most naturally expressive and funny people that I know. She was hilarious on the show! Brian Raker, who mostly stayed off-camera, would pop in periodically and have us all rolling.

Of course there are many more names that I can list.  I'll do that a little later. But, my point is, I had the privilege of working with amazing friends and family. I got to fulfill a passion of being funny through these individuals. I got to write specific dialogue for others to say and act on, dialogue that I couldn't make funny, but I knew that others could. That was a blast!

As I've been taking this trip down nostalgia lane, I went back and looked through some of our old, unmaintained web presence. I found something that I wrote about my dreams and aspirations as a 22 year old. I said, "I aspire to someday be able to use my creative talents in a career setting, while serving the Almighty in all that I do."

When I first read the quote, my heart sank a bit. I thought to myself, " have I missed the mark of pursuing the things that I once dreamed of?" However, after spending some time reflecting and considering the wild path God has brought me on, I realized that I have not missed it at all.

First of all, I got to be a part of the Whatever Television Show for 2 years.

Secondly, I got to work in Youth Ministry for 7 years. Video production, music, and creativity was a HUGE part of my ministry in that setting.

Thirdly, God called me to serve as a missionary, a Chaplain in the United States Army. Sure, there are many times in which my creativity in such a rigid environment feels limited. However, I currently serve at the United States Military Academy. One of my specific and primary roles is to be the communications coordinator for all of our Chaplain programs.

Fourth, I've never stopped making silly videos. Check this out if you haven't already Jeff Mikey T YouTube Channel. Now, I get to do them with my kids!

Most importantly, the Whatever TV Show mantra, which comes from Philippians 4:8, has become one of the key driving forces in my life. The passion God cultivated in my heart 20 years ago, working on this cable-access television show, infused me with a desire to think about whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable. Not only that, I have preached it over and over again to those within my ministerial care. I teach it to my children. I taught it to teenagers throughout my youth ministry. I've taught it to young Soldiers on the battlefield. I'm now teaching it to cadets. Just this week, I sat down with a hurting cadet whose faith has been rocked by many of life's difficulties. We sat down and went through Philippians 4 together. We spent a long time on verse 8. 

Obviously, if one person was led to Christ or a deeper walk with Jesus through our efforts with the Whatever TV Show, it was all WORTH IT! However, I do know that God instilled a way of life in me through my experience with the show. He instilled a way of life that has never shied away from creativity. I've continued to create and film. I've also been able to use musical creativity and lead worship. I've written three books and have several more in the shoot. With that, God instilled a way of life in me that rejoices in the Lord always and seeks joy in all circumstances, giving my troubles to the Lord with thanksgiving in my heart. Do I get it perfect all the time? Heck no! But I always come back to the joy of my salvation and I encourage everyone I know to do the same!

I am so grateful to God for what He has taught me over the years. I know Whatever was a key experience and time of teaching in my life. I know God used many of those associated with Whatever to instill Jesus and joy in my heart. For that, I am eternally thankful and I believe there are many others that I've ministered to along the way that are thankful and reaping the benefits of that little old show we produced for a limited audience in Clarksville, Tennessee.

Whatever may not have been seen by the masses, like the audience many YouTubers are now able to reach in today's environment. However, I have no doubt that God launched many of us from the Whatever experience and we took the heart of that show and have touched many over the last 20 years in so many different ways. In fact, I would love to hear about it!

Max Holt, the man who took a chance on us, mentored us, and guided us.

Robby Garland, one my dearest and oldest friends, my brother.

Stephanie Tilden, my beautiful and amazing wife of 20 years!

Wes Cochran, I still think about all the times you made me laugh and your awesome passion.

Glen Leathers, our time together was too short, but I'll never forget it.

Brian Raker, you have not been appreciated enough. A more mature me would have done everything in my power to ensure you knew that.

Foh Onn "David" Chong, you're a lifelong friend and I am grateful that you truly make Whatever something worldwide!

Amber Beard, I love you my sister.

Annette McVay, I love you also my sister.

Justin Overbaugh, you were more talented and professional than us all.

Darrell Willis, gone too soon. The world misses your infectious energy and joy.

Emily Waynick, you'll always be credited for naming the show!

Megan Wilson, you entered our world of craziness and fit right in.

David Britton, you are one talented brother and are stinking hilarious.

Jon Radford, you are a man of many skills and a natural on center stage.

Matt Cressman, your talent and musical connections helped make Whatever shine.

Nathan Smith, every time you popped in, you were always willing to serve.

Marshall Biter, I laughed every time you couldn't keep a straight face.

Mark Tilden, I love you my brother. You were too young to be a regular, but it was always fun getting you involved.

Also to all of those that made a few appearances, Tommy, Michael, Mark, and Cole.

To all of those that came on late and/or after I left for seminary, Nathan B., Mindi, Will, Beth, Beau, and Marion. 

To those that supported and that I ashamedly left off (because there were so many awesome people to remember).

To all of you....

I love you and thank you!

I know life has taken us all in different directions, but regardless I encourage you with the words of Philippians 4:4-8, 

"Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things."

Stay tuned! Whatever clips are hitting the digital world very soon.

(Thank you for reading all of this. Sorry for it being a little sloppy. I just sat down and unleashed my initial thoughts. Didn't take time to polish and make perfect.)

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