Living with the Asterisk

The asterisk is the little guy in the corner who gives you your first warning that the statement you’ve just read may not be as simple as the statement you’ve just read. He is your gateway, your Looking Glass, into an entire world of fine print and legal jargon. All for the purpose of allowing two competing mindsets (marketing vs. legal) to occupy the same space.

Marketing wants to tell you all of the AMAZING things that will happen once you buy-consume-read-attend-clickon-watch-etcetera their item. Legal wants to tell you that it’s not their fault if it doesn’t really happen.

And, the reality is, whether we see it or not, we’ve all become accustomed to adding asterisks to what we see in our lives. We’ve been trained as consumers since we were small children to see between the lines of marketing and legal.

Remember, opening a Cracker Jacks box for the first time? There was a PRIZE inside!! OMG! Never once did I stop to think about what kind of prize could actually fit inside a Cracker Jacks box. All I knew was there was a PRIZE inside!! A prize that you couldn’t just go buy at the store. No, my friends, this was a prize that you could only find if you were fortunate enough to have the very same box of Cracker Jacks that I had. But you weren’t.

And opening it to discover the teeny baseball card, or tattoo, or whatever prize from the Island of Misfit Toys had found it’s way into my box left me a little deflated. But I knew from then on, I knew that Mr. Cracker Jack’s definition of prize and mine were not the same.

It becomes so easy to apply the same asterisk thinking to faith. Sure, we know that Jesus said to love your neighbor, to turn the other cheek. We know He said to take up crosses and follow Him. But, I mean, that’s not really what He meant, right? Where’s the legal fine print to tell us exactly what the terms and conditions of our love, sacrifice, and discipleship are?

We’ve read John 10:10 about Jesus offering us life and life more abundantly. To the full until it overflows. Or that God promises to heal, to save, and to redeem. But, surely, that’s just marketing talk to get me to become one more church consumer, right?

Maybe they didn’t have the asterisk in 6 AD.

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Savoring Lost or Learning to Enjoy the Simple Things in Life

Of all the things that are taking place in the world at large, the end of a television show probably doesn’t rank that high. I can admit that. I have a completely obsessive relationship with LOST, but I am sober enough to acknowledge that in the light of the global, local, and personal issues we all navigate through on a daily basis.

However, as we near the end, I, like most fans of LOST, are expecting answers. After six seasons of polar bears and DHARMA hatches and Hurley birds and smoke monsters and weird, wet backwards talking Walt apparitions, we kinda feel entitled.

But it is that desire (NEED…?) for answers that may just make what should be the culmination of a long, strange journey anti-climactic and disappointing. Not because that the show is no longer entertaining. It is now competing with my own unrealistic and increasingly high expectations of what it SHOULD be.

How sad that I could miss out on something amazing simply because I could not set aside my own thoughts and expectations enough to receive it.

Yes, I know it’s only a television show. But what about other things?

What else do we miss enjoying simply because we haven’t learned to make the mental adjustment to make the most of them?

Buying a Man’s Munchkins and the Intentional Love of God

Had an interesting encounter the other day that I have not been able to shake.

I was enjoying an evening with my bride and we popped into Dunkin’ Donuts for a coffee and a donut.  (Yes, I am a cheap date.)

As we were placing our order, a man came in with his young daughter.  And I didn’t give it a second thought.

Until I was suddenly seized with a sense that I should pay for his order.  This is not something that happens very often to me.  In fact, almost never.  It seemed that God was really impressing on me to make this small gesture.

As they were standing next to us in the other line and were finishing their transaction, I asked him if I might be able to pay for his order.

Now, I’m not really sure what sort of reaction I was expecting.  Surprise?  Shock? Gratitude? All I know is that when someone offers to buy me donuts, my answer is an immediate “Yes!”.

So, here I am, anticipating this dynamic exchange, and he simply looks me in the eye and says “No.”

???

I pressed again, saying that I would REALLY like to buy this man’s munchkins for him and his daughter.

“No.”

“Really?  It’s not trouble. I’d be happy to.”

“No.”

Eventually, I took the hint and let it go.  He paid and went his way.

But the whole scenario continued to bother me.

Thinking about it later, I realized that I had an incomplete expectation of how to engage people with the Love of God.  I’ve heard most of my Christian life that we need to share the Love of God with the world.

They are empty and lacking and needing love.  Truthfully, it seems it would be relatively easy to seal the deal.

But, that’s not how it is.  For most people, they are so unused to receiving love, experiencing it unconditionally, and are so calloused by a lack of love, they simply will not respond to it.  Only a specific and intentional application of love will be able to crack through the barrier.

The world is not clamoring for us to show up with love.  They are not anxiously anticipating us to lead them to God.  Our expression of love must be more forceful and committed than their hearts have been made hard.

Had this stuck in my head…

and figured the best way to get it out was to share it with you… Now you too can have the sound of thousands of soccer hooligans chanting the riff in your head too!  Thanks ESPN!

Someone on the Internet must HATE ME!!

It started so simply.

I had a sudden need for something ridiculous.  And, knowing no better place for the ridiculous, I went to YouTube.

Thankfully, the kids and I got our absurdity fix with this:

Now, I won’t go into what it says about our culture that this 1 1/2 minute video has been viewed more than 1.3 million times.  I’ve added my views to it and I am not so high-minded as to not enjoy it.

My issue is this video:

Yep, those are my kids.  My lovely bride put this together for me for Father’s Day last year.  And the best part?  She used one of our family’s favorite songs – “Little Wonders” by Rob Thomas from “Meet the Robinson’s”.

It was sweet and amazing and heartfelt and it made me cry.

Then came the upload to YouTube.  As you can see, it was not anything close to a web phenomenon.  Just 56 views.  And those came mostly from friends and family.

But you wouldn’t know that was the song used in the video.  Because somewhere in the mix of family feelings, love, joy, and celebration we overlooked the fact that we committed a heinous web crime.  COPYRIGHT infringement!

How dare we take a song about enjoying life’s little moments together and use it to celebrate Father’s Day?  I’m sure “they” would hardly stand for “their” song to be misused this way.

But Carlos786 has 1.3 million views.

I wonder if somewhere out there in the great interwebs doesn’t just have it out for me.  Or if the people responsible for the song are just incredibly short sighted.

Investment time

Shared with the Vivid Church peeps this AM that God seems to be calling an increasing number of people to a time of pursuit and consecration.  

I truly believe that the month of May will be a critical time of investment and sowing.  May will be a pivot point in this year.  

The Bible instructs us in Isaiah 55:6 to “Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near.”  There are times when God is in motion and we must get in on what He is doing.  

There is a set time to plant and make investment.   Together, we are committing ourselves to seek God throughout May in unprecendented ways expecting unprecedented harvest, unprecedented breakthrough, and unprecedented impact.

Notes from the start of the journey

I’ve been feeling completely challenged.  So many things are happening and requiring focus and attention.  I have my neck outstretched in earnest anticipation expecting God to do some amazing things within and through me, my family, and with community of Vivid Church.

But I also feel sorta stuck.  Like somehow someone accidentally kicked the gear shift into park.  And I honestly don’t know exactly how it happened.  But I know that I refuse to continue in it.

And I’ve questioned myself as to the cause.  Did I do something that has moved me into a holding pattern and away from the flow of God?  Is there something attempting to hold me back?  Does moving forward simply require a higher level of consecration and dedication?

Regardless of the cause, there is a single answer.  Fast.  

If I’ve mistakenly moved, a time of fasting provides for honesty before God allowing humility and restoration.  If there is spiritual warfare, fasting works to break down strongholds.

So, why share this?  As I said, I’m expecting some major things from God.  And I thought it would be fun to let you in on the journey rather than having me come back in a few weeks and try to recapture everything.  

Also, I want to encourage you to join me if you are feeling stuck.  Let’s spend some time away from feeding our stomachs and getting before God.  

I want to know about your journey.  We can travel together.