All Posts By

Mike Johnson

Behind the Scenes Children’s Ministry Eternal Thinking ISeeIt! Productions Parenting Production

2020 Is Going To Be A Big Year

In 2020, ISeeIt Productions will continue to take on the worthwhile goal of building a top-notch animation company that will make a difference in the lives of kids and families around the world. If you read my last post entitled, “Why has faith-based animation been left behind?” you will understand why I believe getting GOD’S word out to children in fun and engaging ways is as relevant now as it has ever been. Throughout 2019, GOD gave us the vision to produce even more faith-based animation (see below for what we did this past year) by starting a world-class animation studio in Zimbabwe. Why Zimbabwe? Great question, long answer. In a nutshell, GOD has blessed us with a very unique situation where we can wisely use our finances to produce world-class animated content, AND make a positive impact on the lives of the people in Africa by providing employment and a spiritual environment to work within. (More on this in a future post).

If you believe in what we are trying to accomplish this upcoming year and beyond, I would kindly ask for you to consider partnering with us. It is going to take a kingdom effort to provide the salaries and equipment necessary to build this non-profit animation company, so we could use your help in prayer and financial support. Any sized gift or monthly commitment will go a long way in furthering the opportunity of changing the landscape of faith-based animation. My confidence is in GOD and His desire to build a company that honors Him while bringing spiritual growth to children and families around the world. We would love for you to join us as we do this.

If you are interested in partnering with us, you can do so here.

If you would like more information about what we are doing, I would be more than happy to visit with you in person, via video chat, or on the phone. Send an e-mail to mike@iseeitproductions.com and let’s set up a time to get together!

May GOD’S blessings fall upon you richly,

Mike and the ISeeIt Productions Team

2019 was full of GOD and Faith. We are 80% complete with our first 3D animated short on family togetherness entitled, “Rainy Day”. We launched our first big project, “That’s A Wrap”, a Christmas curriculum for churches focused on teaching kids that God has a unique path for each of them and how they can discover that path and follow it. (In this project, we were able to produce a total of 25 minutes of 2D animation plus over 20 minutes of live-action video.) Now we are busy working on our next big project, a curriculum for churches for Easter!

Children’s Ministry Leadership Ministry Parenting

I need a burst of “Faith Growth” please!

A few hours earlier, Peter had just seen Jesus once again do a miracle. Upon the mountain in the distance, Jesus had fed the 5000 with just a few loaves of bread and fish. Now Peter was in a boat crossing the sea. Suddenly a fierce storm comes out of nowhere. In a panic, Peter looks around in despair, only to see through the mist Jesus walking on the water of the sea. Full of confidence in Jesus and His ability to work wondrous things in his life, Peter steps out of the boat and begins to walk on water as well. But then a massive wave hits and washes over him. Suddenly, he panics and begins to look at the circumstances surrounding him rather than on Jesus. As he does, he starts to sink into the water, and then into despair. Peter cries out to Jesus. And Jesus, as He always is, is right there to grab him and pull him up.

Peter is so like me. I see Jesus move in miraculous ways around me that are too powerfully coordinated to be coincidental. Full of confidence, I have great faith in what He is going to accomplish in my life, and I take a step toward Him. But then, as my eyes are on Him, the difficulties of my situation swirl around me, washing over me like a wave. Suddenly, I take my eyes off Jesus and begin to doubt. And with that doubt comes despair. I am sinking. But, just in time, JESUS reaches out to me and performs another miracle. He saves me within my circumstances, and my faith grows a little larger. It’s then I realize I have just experienced a small burst of faith growth.

In Peters’s life, these same bursts of faith growth happened over and over, and each time they did, his confidence in Jesus grew a little more. By the end of his life, Peter’s faith had grown so much that he was able to look at the circumstances surrounding him and stand upon his faith in the power of Jesus. Even upon his death, the circumstance of being crucified did not cause his faith in Jesus to waver. Peter did not sink.

I pray that throughout my life, Jesus keeps growing my faith with small bursts of faith growth. I want the ability to sense difficult circumstances surrounding me but still keep my eyes on Jesus. I know this will take time and many small bursts to accomplish. But when it happens, I know I will not sink.

I pray the same for you.

Children’s Ministry Current Affairs ISeeIt! Productions Leadership Ministry Production

Why Has Faith-Based Animation Been Left Behind?

Unlike any other time in the past, Christian movies have begun to penetrate the film market in a vibrant way. Christian adults are more and more excited to see content that speaks to them, not just emotionally, or entertainingly, but also spiritually, with content that encourages them to live their lives better. I applaud this. We have the essential message to share, but for too long, we have not been creative enough to tell it in a way that engages others.

However, while I am grateful to see a renaissance in faith-based movies for adults, I am discouraged by the lack of high-quality animated content for kids. Specifically, where are the Christian “Pixars” and “Dreamworks” of the world? Is it because we have nothing to say in this arena? Do we lack the content that will engage kids in such a way that they are entertained yet leave feeling empowered by God to act more positively? I understand all the arguments; animation is expensive, it’s difficult, it takes so much extra time. But are any of those reasons too big for the God we serve to overcome? Can He not provide for us what is needed to engage children and families with such an important medium? I believe He can. In fact, I believe it so much that I ventured out from 25 years of church work in Children’s ministry to form an animation production company. A company that will make a difference by providing animated content infused with God’s power. Content that will inspire kids, through the power of the Holy Spirit, to become leaders and influencers for Christ in this world. As Christians, we are way behind in this, and we need to catch up fast. There are so many stories out there yet to be written within this medium that will inspire kids; stories that are funny, touching, happy, even sad. But most importantly, stories that take a child on a journey that motivates them to be better than they were before they watched it.

But this truth doesn’t just apply to movies or cartoon features; it applies to how we teach our children in the church. God led me 15 years ago to begin using animation to tell the truths of the Bible through a curriculum called Elevate. Over those years, I was always amazed at the impact animation had in capturing a child’s attention. But even more important, as I watched those children grow, I was excited to see how the truth revealed within those animated stories made an impact in their lives. It was an impact that most other communication styles did not make. Why does animation do this? Because if you genuinely captivate a child’s attention and then present that child with God’s plan and power, you cannot lose. God’s word, poured into an attentive child’s heart, will not come back void as they grow. I know, because I’ve seen it. As Christians, we must pursue the potential of using animated curriculum in the future, which is another reason we started our animation company. We must continuously press forward, using the latest technology, to present God’s Word through this medium kids love. It’s powerful, it’s captivating, it’s engaging, and with God’s powerful message, it’s life-changing,

Soon, as technology advances, the excuses for not producing animated content will become less and less. When that happens, only those who provide great stories with valuable content will succeed. As Christians, we have the content. We have the message. We have the GOD given creativity to tell great stories. We need to do it. We must recognize within our churches the young animators and storytellers whom God has given the talent to craft creative messages that communicate the love and hope of Christ. We must step up and give them our attention. We need to encourage them with our actions by providing them the technology to learn. We also need to be on the lookout for companies who are striving to use animation to communicate God’s love. And, when we find them, we need to support them by asking them, “What can I do?”.

If you would like to support us in this non-profit ministry of reaching the next generation with essential truths through animation and curriculum, please give by clicking on the Donate Today button on the website ISeeItProductions.com.

Behind the Scenes Children’s Ministry ISeeIt! Productions Leadership Ministry

A Look Back At 2019 (so far) And How It Led Us To Our First Big Project!

It’s been quite a year! After spending 25 great years in church ministry, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect of 2019. In January, all I knew was that GOD was calling me out onto a different path and ministry. And even though there were people who didn’t understand, I completely trusted Him to lead the way. Now, as I look back, I give Him all the praise as He continues to guide me in His beautiful ways. From a worldly perspective, the beginning of 2019 looked like the biggest mistake I could make. But from GOD’S perspective, the beginning of 2019 was a start down a path designed by Him, especially for me. GOD challenged me to step out into the unknown with only my faith in Him to bolster me. Now He leads me down His glorious path. I can’t say that everything has gone perfectly. I still exist in a fallen world where stressors and pressures push on me and try to make me anxious and afraid. But I must say, I have known a peace this last year unlike anything I have known for a very long time, and that is something I would not trade for anything! Philippians 4:7, from the inspired Word of GOD, is a promise everyone must experience. 

So, what does this have to do with our first big project? Well, I’m glad you asked. We have launched a two week Christmas curriculum that teaches kids about the birth of Jesus and the wondrous gift of salvation He offers us. However, we also focus on several keys things that kids need to know, things that will give them a solid foundation for the rest of their lives:

  1. GOD has a purpose for every child’s life. Each child is made unique by Him for a very special reason – to live the life He has designed for him/her to live.
  2. To live out GOD’S purpose for their lives, they first need to become part of His family, which can only come about by accepting His gift of salvation.
  3. To be successful in GOD’S eyes, they must be obedient to His instructions and strive to keep a close relationship with Him.
  4. That they have an incredible task ahead of them in living the life GOD created them to live, and that they should diligently strive to accomplish all the things that only they can achieve.

Kids need to know that their life is blessed and that it is truly wonderful when they live their life for GOD and allow Him to work through them to do His will. That is what these two weeks of “That’s A Wrap” strive to instil in the lives of thousands of kids around the world. 

To Wrap it up (pardon the pun), Christmas is a beautiful holiday of joy, gift-giving, family, and good food. But let’s not forget the most important thing. Christmas is where it all began, and through the birth of GOD’S Son, Jesus, a door was opened so we can experience life the way GOD designed it for us as we walk on His path. What greater gift could we give to children than for them to understand this truth and build their life upon it? 

You can order “That’s A Wrap” at ISeeItProductions.com. Go on and sign up for our newsletter so we can keep you up to date with all the things we are doing!

If you would like to support us in this ministry of reaching the next generation with essential truths like this, you can give by clicking on the Donate Today button on the website.

Children’s Ministry Eternal Thinking Ministry Parenting

The Salvation Story and Christmas

A Salvation presentation at Christmas? Isn’t that a bit heavy to share with your children in church during this season? Christmas is a merry, joyful and happy time; a season of excitement and anticipation. Should we really be talking about the death of Jesus at a time like this?

One word: YES!

Christmas first and foremost is the celebration of the start of the Salvation Story. We all know that Jesus came to this earth to live as a Man while remaining fully GOD, He lived a perfect life. As GOD and Man, He took the punishment for our sins, so that we wouldn’t be required to take the penalty ourselves. Then, on the third day, He rose again and gave us the glorious hope that we too will rise again and be with Him in Heaven for all eternity. When we accept Him as our Savior, His gift of righteousness is placed upon us, and our sins are covered in His blood that was shed on the cross. Therefore, when GOD the Father sees us, He sees only the righteousness of Jesus, allowing us to now have a relationship with Him.

This righteousness that Jesus gives us is a gift that is, and will forever be, the greatest gift we could ever receive. This gift opens up the door to living the life that GOD has for us. A life of fulfillment. A life of selflessly giving ourselves for others in the name of Jesus. A life where GOD promises to do great things through us and ends with us joining Him in Heaven and spending all eternity in a place that is so wonderful even our wildest dreams are but a shadow of its glory. However, in order for the children in your ministry to receive this gift, you must first present it to them. Just telling the story of Jesus being born as a baby doesn’t adequately communicate the point of the gift He is to all of us, a gift that culminated with His sacrifice for us on the cross and resurrection on the third day.

This is why the salvation story should be presented at Christmas. Children look forward to opening presents on Christmas morning. They enjoy the anticipation and the excitement of imagining the fun they will have while playing with those gifts and the happiness the gifts will bring. But those earthly gifts are temporary and fleeting. Children must also be thinking about the greatest gift that was given to them on Christmas morning. They should enjoy the anticipation of the life He promises to provide them. They should also experience the giddiness of looking forward to the beautiful life they will have in Heaven; a place where they will have happiness and joy, unlike any they will ever experience here on earth. 

Jesus is the greatest gift to humanity, and it all started on Christmas morning. Give your children the greatest gift you could ever present to them and allow them to open the gift of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. Give them the chance to experience the joy of becoming His child and all the wonderful things that entails. After all, with as many kids who come only twice a year, this may be your only chance to share Jesus’ gift with them. Take advantage of this opportunity to give them the glorious hope they can only find within GOD’S plan for their life.  So once again yes, share the hope of Jesus during this time of year and help every child to see that Salvation is what Christmas is all about!

That’s A Wrap! Christmas series includes the salvation message in lesson 2. Go to iseeitproductions/christmas to learn more.

Behind the Scenes Eternal Thinking Leadership Ministry

Forgetting The Past

“No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, ‭“I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.”
‭‭Philippians‬ ‭3:13-14‬

I was sitting this morning reviewing some of the verses I have committed to memory, verses that over the last several months have calmed my spirit and renewed my focus and passion. As I was going over this particular verse something jumped out at me in a new way that I would like to share, something that we all tend to deal with off and on. It has to do with forgetting the bad things of the past.

It is easy for us to look at the things of the past and start to dwell on them, to allow our minds to be consumed by them. The problem for all of us is that there are always bad things in our past and dwelling on them leads to nothing but misery and anxiousness. Why? Because ultimately those bad things are dead. They exist in a garbage pile and the only power they hold over us is the power we give to them as they call to come and spend time with them. As we listen, we begin to believe their lies that tell us we are weak and that we have no choice, that we must come back to them and experience them again and again. However, when we keep going back and living with them, their rottenness makes us spiritually and emotionally sick inside. We begin to focus only on how bad this garbage makes us feel and we soon fall into a cycle where the worse we feel, the further we are pushed into the dead garbage surrounding us. Now, it is impossible to focus on the future. Instead, we can focus only on our despondent present which is dominated by the past. What a miserable place to be!

Paul says, forget the past! Turn your gaze and your body in the opposite direction and look forward to what lies ahead. Our focus needs to be on the heavenly prize that God has called us to. A prize of hope, joy, peace, eternal contentment and happiness. Our focus needs to be on the GOOD things that will come as we walk in His ways, things that bring life, not the decaying dead things of the past. Christ calls us to a life of victory, not a life of reliving past anxiety, hurt, sadness and bitterness. But to live this life we must look ONLY to the future – to where life resides.

So, to move forward, we must leave behind any betrayal, disappointment, anger, frustration, hurt, or ill feelings toward anyone who has wronged us. We must then set our face toward the bright, shining SON and press on toward the Heavenly prize. We must focus on the great things GOD wants to do with us in the future, the things He promises to do through those who seek Him and serve Him, and press on. For when we walk this path, the dead things will slowly become farther and farther away. Then, praise be to GOD, their cries will eventually be too distant to be heard.

Behind the Scenes Children’s Ministry Leadership Ministry Production Uncategorized Volunteers

How do you know when it’s time to go?

For 25 years I was the Children’s Pastor at Fellowship Church. When I started, I knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that GOD had called me there and my plan was to ultimately retire there. But sometimes GOD’S plans are not our plans, which I discovered anew as He began to challenge my heart to move onto His next adventure for me.

So, this begs the question. What do you do when you think GOD is leading you toward a new future that you never dreamed of? How do you know that it is truly GOD calling you into that future? When you begin anything in life, how do you know that GOD is truly leading you? These are questions that have far-reaching ramifications and if you don’t know the answer to them you will lead a very wandering, unfulfilled life. Recently I addressed these questions with my good friend Tom Bump in his podcast Kid’s Ministry Collective. If you listen to it at 1.5 speed you can be done in 30 minutes or so. My prayer is that by living out these biblical principles you can know beyond a shadow of a doubt that GOD’S plan is your plan. Click here to listen

Eternal Thinking Leadership Ministry Production

What is the purpose of life?

A few years back, I did a dramatic message called the Game of Life at Fellowship Church. As I was looking through some old drives today, I discovered one of the times I performed it around six years ago. Sherry Horton, a fantastic actress, participated in it with me and did an unbelievable job. When I first wrote the message, GOD had slowed me down with a broken wrist and banged up head (I had fallen off my roof in the rain). During this period, I had a GOD given desire to write something that would allow people to see the beauty of Salvation and how Christianity is the only religion that can make real sense of this crazy world. 

The day that I was to give the message for the first time, I woke up in a panic. The anxiety and spiritual warfare that hit me was almost unbearable. I remember sitting out on our front porch with Karry and telling her I should probably not do this message. The risk was too high for failure. She reminded me of the circumstances involved in GOD giving it to me and encouraged me to step out in faith and trust that GOD would do with it what He choosed. It’s been 15 years since I first performed it, and I believe that GOD brought it across my path because it’s message is something that needs to be shared.

Behind the Scenes ISeeIt! Productions

Make Any Idea Come To Life (Part Four)

The cautious optimism of the treehouse IDEA had now turned into full expectation. As the IDEA pushed past the Development stage, it could see the finish line in the distance. It had successfully been through the Dream Stage, the Design Stage, and now the Development stage and there was no doubt in its mind it would soon be all that it dreamed it could be. But, being brand new at this “becoming a reality” thing, the IDEA didn’t realize that the next stage was going to be the most critical yet…The Do Stage.

Those working on the treehouse with me arrived at my friend’s house ready to build. The IDEA had been formed, put on paper so others could see it, and the details and supplies needed had been placed in an official Step by Step. Now, the day of the build, everything was in place for success; the people were there, the plan was there, the supplies were there, even the donuts were there (thanks to my wife who is always looking out for us). But, although we had everything ready to go, there were still some intangibles that would be needed throughout the day to make the end result perfect.

Wisdom and Instruction – Not everyone on the job will know how to do everything, but one or two will need to. I call these people the Trade Specialists. They provide wisdom on all the ins and outs of the project to make sure it is done right. For example: they know how to properly drive a deck screw without stripping it out; how to use a circular saw and speed square to get straight cuts; how to make sure everything is level at all times, but most importantly, they know how to look at unexpected issues that arise (which they always do) and give a strategy to work around it.

Communication – Someone needs to be in charge of keeping everyone busy. Sometimes the Trade Specialist can be distracted while others have completed their jobs and are waiting for more. The person in charge of communication hears when others have needs (tools, instruction, etc.) or are looking for something new to do and acts on it. This “Communication Liaison” keeps up with the building strategy outlined in the step by step and stays in close contact with the Trade Specialist, keeping him/her abreast of the project and consulting on issues that need further assistance. Beyond this, the Communication Liaison keeps everyone in motion by understanding the Step By Step process and keeping the people moving in a logical progression.

Patience – Rome wasn’t built in a day, and a treehouse can’t be built in a morning. I have found that people, myself included, always underestimate how long it will take to construct something and they often get discouraged over the fact that it is taking longer than expected.  The Trade Specialist and Communication Liaison must encourage everyone that things ARE going as planned and remind them of what is on the horizon – a completed IDEA!

Perseverance – This goes hand in hand with patience. People need to be encouraged to press on, even through adversity. Sure, it may rain a little, it may get hot, unexpected problems may arise, but the people must press on. All good and worthwhile things take work!

Fun – No project is worth doing if you’re not laughing a little and enjoying the process. Some people (again, my wife) are naturally good at this by helping people to look beyond their tasks and enjoy the process. These people have the unique ability to keep others entertained, while not getting them so preoccupied that the job languishes as a result. Do you have someone fun for your next job?

Excellence – The Trade Specialist and Communication Liaison need to be encouraging everyone to pursue excellence at all times. It’s easy as people begin to get tired to start cutting corners. But, each person needs to be reminded that every small task they are assigned to needs to be done in a way that brings honor to GOD and earns the approval seal of the Trade Specialist.

Celebration – When the job is completed, and everyone is standing back looking at what they have accomplished, remind them what they have been able to pull off. Only a few weeks earlier an IDEA about a treehouse was just a dream in someone’s head. Now, standing proudly before them is the finished product.  Enjoy the moment. Let everyone walk around and see their handiwork. Give high fives. Commend them on the excellence with which the project was completed and most importantly, remind them how their labor will bring joy, happiness, and excitement to children for many years to come.

5 years later…

The IDEA sat in the tree on a warm summer morning, reflecting on how it came to be as the sun rose on the horizon. Many years ago, with some fear and trepidation, it had moved through the Dream Stage, the Development Stage, the Design Stage, and the Do Stage and, because of that, it was now experiencing the joy of holding memories of countless adventures from imaginative children. Every day was a blessing and, thanks to the continued efforts of its owner, the IDEA was standing the test of time with ease. A gentle breeze blew through the air, and the morning sun broke through the swaying branches. The IDEA sat warm and content knowing that shortly it would hear the back door slam and the voices of children filling the air. 

A new adventure would soon begin.

Behind the Scenes ISeeIt! Productions

Make Any Idea Come To Life (Part Three)

The treehouse IDEA was cautiously optimistic. It had moved from the Dream Stage and had now made its way, courtesy of the Design Stage, onto paper so all could see and grasp its potential. It was hard for it to keep its excitement in check as it imagined itself sitting high up in a tree, basking in the summer sun, birds singing in the nearby trees, children laughing as they steered the pirate ship off to Neverland, and the joyful privilege of growing older with the very children who were playing within. Oh, how it could not wait for that day! But, in spite of all this excitement, the IDEA was still a bit worried. It knew was still vulnerable because it was absolutely dependent on the owner to press onto the third stage of the process: the Development Stage.

Being the owner, I saw that things were now clicking along. The treehouse IDEA had made its way onto paper and I could now visually see what it was going to look like, and the supplies it would take to build it. Now I needed to move onto the next stage – The stage of Development. This stage is a logistical stage where all of the details are worked out so that when the next, and final, stage arrives everyone will be ready to build.

  • Supply lists are formed (based upon what the IDEA looks like on paper).
  • Materials are ordered and secured.
  • Dates and times are put on the calendar.
  • People who will help are contacted.
  • The weather forecast is watched with great interest, etc.

The Development Stage is critical because if affects how long the project will actually take to complete. The lesser amount of preparation, the longer the build. For example, if people arrive to help work on the project and you still haven’t made your trip to Home Depot, they will be sitting around when they could have been working. If no one took account of the weather and coordinated scheduling of alternate days for building, the project would languish on for longer than necessary as sunny days come and go. If you haven’t thought through everything needed, people will be sitting around while you run to pick up the next vital piece.

In this stage, one thing that I have found to be extremely important is taking the time to sit down and create what I call a Step by Step. This is when I look at the whole project on paper and imagine each step it will take to complete it. Nothing is too insignificant and should be written down. For example:

  • What is every supply that needs to be purchased or gathered?
  • In walking through a “visual build” in my mind, what exact tools do I need to bring to accomplish each step? (This is a big one! There is nothing worse than getting to a site and having to “make do” with a tool that wasn’t designed for what you are using it for. Screwdrivers are not good chisels, measuring precisely is not best done with your feet, and installing 500 screws with a manual screwdriver will test anyone’s patience.)
  • What time in the morning will we leave on the day of the build?
  • Check traffic before leaving to find best route
  • In order to get the right amount of wood I need to stop at several Home Depots on the way. What are their locations.
  • Where are the supplies located in Home Depot so I can make a mental map of where to go for time efficiency (I can waste a whole lot of time at a hardware store getting distracted if I’m not careful)
  • How will I pay for the supplies?
  • When we arrive at my friends house, how far will the supplies need to be carried. (As I picture unloading the supplies I remember the splinters I always get when I haul wood and I put gloves down on my list of things to bring)
  • Hopefully you get the idea 🙂

The Step by Step is the key to the Development stage. A poor Step by Step will leave people scratching their heads wondering if you know what you are doing. A good step by step will reduce most problems that will occur when the project enters its “let’s do it phase”. A GREAT step by step will eliminate almost all problems and it will allow the project to run smoothly where everyone participating will have a great time!

In our tree house build, stage three was now complete. Everything in the Step by Step had been taken care of and we were all standing in the back yard smiling at each other on the day of the build. What now?

Now, the fun begins!

To be continued…