Thursday, December 25, 2008

Ramblings on Christmas Morning















During the past few weeks, I, maybe like you, began to worry.  About what?  Well, my family of course - that they'd receive enough gifts this morning for it to feel like, well...Christmas.  I was worried more about them, right?  Not the way the situation would make me feel, right?

And my kids were so thankful for all the things they received.  They are so very appreciative.  Quite the opposite of the way I was as a child.  

I've found that I try to live vicariously through my children.  I anticipate let downs.  The thing is, they're much sweeter than I ever was.

And in the midst of my worry, I lose sight of how blessed I am.

Thank you, Jesus.  For the selfless gift of You.  For the traditions You redeemed.  For coming near.  

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Last Minute Shopping Idea #4

Shark Party Kit














...because your kid is not beat up at school enough already, try the Shark Party Kit!

Guarantee your child a "sound thrashing" at the bus stop.  After all, some of the best lessons are learned at the business end of a fist.  

from cracked.com

Last Minute Shopping Idea #5


According to the website:

"Following in the footsteps of the graceful Hula dancers from Hawaii, the Hula female dancers maintain a svelte figure. The Hawaii Chair is designed to do all the work for you, without strenuous exercising for anyone who wants to achieve a good waistline and maintain a fit body."

"...frequent exercising with the Hawaii Chair promotes vigor without strenuous exercise."

I say the Hawaii Chair promotes the chutzpah of marketers to gullible, lazy people.  But who's to say it won't work, right?

And believe it or not, it's actually cheaper than one of thise high-end mixers!  Something to think about.

Get yours today!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Christmas Is Evil and So Are You


















When I was a kid we always celebrated Halloween.  The usual stuff.  For a number of years, however, we've steered clear of the festivities.  We felt that we needed to keep ourselves and our kids away from the evil of the day.  

But I don't anymore.  

Jesus redeemed me.  

Jesus redeemed October 31st and December 25th.  

Jesus redeemed the air I'm currently breathing.

I like Shaun Groves' take on the redemption of Christmas, Halloween, and any other noun.

The way my family celebrates Christmas has everything to do with how we celebrate Halloween.  We’re trying to be consistent.

Every October I go into the attic and pull out two large plastic bins full of Halloween decorations and one even bigger one full of costume scraps: wigs, wings, hats, glasses, make-up and, of course, chaps.  We go all out for Halloween.  And this perplexes some folks.  You know the ones.

Some Christians get all in a tizzy about the pagan origins of Halloween.  Some of them hold an alternative celebration called “______________ Festival” at their church.  Others hand out tracts to trick-or-treaters.  Still others sit the holiday out all-together.

But our family celebrates Halloween.  Every year.  And not once have we sacrificed a virgin or pledged our allegiance to the Prince of Darkness.  But, yes, I suppose the naysayers are right: celebrating Halloween is a “slippery slope”.  Our celebration of Halloween, I guess, could, theoretically devolve into a celebration of the occult or teach our kids that evil isn’t something to be feared but something that’s fun.  I guess.  Maybe.  It’s possible.  Not likely, but…

But we celebrate it anyway because we’re in control of the celebration.  I can decide to dress my kids as a butterfly, Spiderman and a puppy and let them ask strangers for candy and at the same time I can not let them slaughter the neighbor’s dog on an altar.  See how that works?  Slippery slope accounted for.

And celebrating Halloween this way actually does something very positive: It redeems the day.  We, as a family, are doing something pretty miraculous when you think about it.  We’re taking a pagan celebration of evil (according to some folks) and turning it into a night of conversation and laughter with friends (about three dozen of us walking around the neighborhood) and getting seriously sugar buzzed at the same time.  Now, if Satan has anything to do with Halloween this probably ticks him off just a tad - all the fun and neighborliness.

Which brings us back to Christmas and gifts and consistency.  Christmas is a pagan holiday stolen, I mean redeemed by Christians.  Part of its celebration in America is gift giving.  Gift giving is a slippery slope too: It can admittedly lead to gluttony, debt, ingratitude, and can recast us as the central character of the Christmas story and greatly diminish the part Christ plays in the whole thing.  But, can Christmas - can gift giving - not be redeemed in the same way costumes and fake cobwebs can?

Now, I know this isn’t what some of you expected me to say in this series.  You expected me to say gift giving is a bad idea when there are so many poor kids in the world.  Wrong.  It’s a fantastic idea.  Sometimes it’s even kingdom-ish.  Giving people stuff can have transcendental meaning - don’t you feel that in the smile-inducing surprise of the unwrapping moment?  Don’t you see something supernatural and downright joyful in the hug and “thank you” that follows? The apostle Paul said it; I didn’t: Christ came to redeem all things.

Tomorrow I’ll tell you how we do the whole gift giving thing in our imperfect family.  And I’ll ask you then to tell us how you do it too?  That’s tomorrow.  Today?  Try to relax and enjoy yourself amidst all the slippery slopes lined with fear mongers.

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Electric Bill Went Up Again

Techno Christmas from Utah.  Thought these broke through the clutter of tyical light displays.




Saturday, December 13, 2008

Buying the Lie















"Gosh, I can do anything now!" she proclaimed to her friend as she raced down the exit from Disney's Rockin' Roller Coaster.   I watched from a distance as the mysteries of life began to unfold in her mind.  

...and it made me wonder, did that experience change her DNA?  Did that ride re-wire her brain to fire synapses that now re-route to new places?  Did anything really change?

...and how many lies do I disguise as impenetrable barriers to the next brave step of greatness in my life?

What are we waiting for?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

You Better Walk With a Limp




















I struggle with the teachings of Jesus Christ.  

I over-complicate.  

I over-simplify.

I don't have it figured out.

I never will.

And I'm so glad.

What do you struggle with?

Friday, November 28, 2008

BlueTeeth













Saw this one on Indexed today. And this always makes me wonder....does having a phone attached to your ear mean you are very important or that you are...not?

Monday, November 24, 2008

Change


I'm contemplating some serious life change.  Significant.  It's scary.  But I've always thought I looked better as a woman.  I'm kidding, of course.  Or am I?  Okay, this is getting weird.

The truth is, I simply must stop what I am currently doing.  But why does that feel like an impossible wall to scale?  Did you read Rachel's blog from Saturday?  Go read it.  She speaks to this exact issue.

She even stole my verse (haha), 2 Timothy 1:7 - it's been my life verse for years since I victoriously came through a crippling battle with panic attacks.  "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind."

My mind is one of power.  I can create change for selfish reasons, or I can do it for the glory of God.  I like the latter.  It frees me up to simply stop.  

If you're a regular reader of this blog, the time will soon come when I ask you to take part in this decision of change.  Yes.  You.  Really.  Why?  Well, because I need your help.

The scriptures say God doesn't change (Malachi 3:6), but I know that I must constantly evolve.  I know that I've never quite "got it."  And if I stop evolving, stop learning.  If I stop seeking, discovering and asking hard questions of myself and others; seeking truths that may not exist in this lifetime, well...then I just missed it all.  

Change is coming...

Monday, November 17, 2008

John Evans is my Homeboy


Hey guys! Do me a favor and go check out my newest blog link - John Evans at 3 Degrees Ministries. He's one cool cat. John speaks the message of Christ to students all around the country. I've had the opportunity to minister with him a few times and he really speaks to the heart of young people. And he throws down a mean "kid 'n play" on the dance floor.

Thanks for checking out his new blog.

Okay, go.......

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

...and Other Nuggets of Truth




















"Mike, you can't speed up the process of learning life lessons.  But you can sure slow it down."  

-a guy that cares

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Theology of Culture




















Alex McManus posted this one today.  Alex is a dreamer, gospel planter, visionary, coach, mentor, teacher kind of guy in Orlando.  Culture Pubs are a product of their ministry.  They can exist anywhere and were envisioned "as a way of developing community among local independent artists, bohemians, thinkers and activists."  Love......no law against it.  Enjoy.

Churches tend to talk about “how God is working in our church.” Culture Pubs think about “how God is working in the world.”

This difference is rooted in a differing perspective about God.

Where is God?

The traditional answer is “everywhere.” God is omnipresent. But the way many of us talk it seems we think that God is in the church but not in the world.

The Bible tells us that God set aside a people for Himself. That would be “us.” But we think that because He chose us and set us aside for Him that He also set Himself apart from those who are not “us.” He sets Himself apart from “them.” So, we are set apart because He is set apart — from “them.”

We are the “clean.” They are the “unclean.” God cannot tolerate sin, he cannot be in the presence of evil. That’s why He hangs out with us. He likes us.

But I think that when God sets anybody apart, he sets them apart for others…not against others. He is for and with the ones we call “them.”

He likes them. That’s why he hangs out with them. He gives them words to speak that are truthful and prophetic words. He gives them a sense of the value of life and a sense of morality, honor, duty, forgiveness, redemption and grace. If you don’t think this is true just go to the “secular” movies or listen to “secular” music or read “secular” literature. If you do, you will see, hear and feel these themes running through everything human.

These themes — that are made acute in the Bible -  didn’t get out there by accident. They are “out there” because God is “out there.”

“For God so loved the world…”

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Build a Beard for Kiva















These guys will give a buck in your name.  All it takes is a fake beard.  Go!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Two British Androids Walk Into a Pub.....

My 8-year-old, Lauren, is Luke Skywalker's golden protocol droid, constructed by the young Anakin.  This droid makes me laugh.  Note the subtle reference to "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse" at the end.  Batteries not included.  Enjoy.

(note: you'll need to pause the iMike Music Player at the bottom of the page)


....and not to be outdone by her older sister, Moriah comes in for the encore performance....


Monday, October 27, 2008

Advent Conspiracy

For twenty years I had everything I desired.  I've spent the last 12 years learning the gift of being satisfied.  May we give more.  And more.  And more.  And more.  (note: you'll need to pause the iMike Music Player at the bottom of the page)


In Defense of Raising Money: A Manifesto for NonProft CEO's (like me)














I read this post recently on Sasha Dichter's blog.  Sasha is the Director of Business Development at Acumen Fund, a global non-profit venture capital fund that invests in enterprises that fight poverty in the developing world.  

To put it smoothly: Sasha feels me, dog.

I'm in the process of raising my own support to continue to fund my ministry of pouring into worship leaders and various other followers of Christ - living in relationship with, training, and teaching these people.  And the opportunities are endless.  It's my work with these people that helps to spread the gospel of love that is Jesus Christ.  I don't merely enjoy the work.  It is wholly what I stand for.  It is me.  I don't have to, I must.  

If you have ever (or aspire to) raised money for any cause, this will pull so many thoughts into focus.  

May you be encouraged through the knowledge that your passion matters enough to tell others.

Enjoy...

I’m sick of apologizing for being in charge of raising money. 

I work at a great nonprofit organization (1) that is doing great things in the world, one that’s attacking daunting problems in a powerful new way.  I believe in what we do, and think that we may be catalyzing a shift in how the world fights poverty.

So why did one of my mentors – someone with a lot of experience in the non-profit and public sector – tell me not to take this job?  “Be careful,” he said, “You’ll get pigeon-holed.  Once a fundraiser, always a fundraiser.” 

He misunderstood what job I was taking.

Look around you at great leaders who you know or respect.  What do they spend their time doing?    They are infused with drive, passion, vision, commitment, and energy.  They walk through the world dissatisfied with the status quo.  They talk to anyone who will listen about the change they want to see the world.  And they build a team and an organization that is empowered to make that change.

How good is your idea?  How important is your cause?  Important enough that you’ve given up another life to lead this life.  You’ve given up another job, another steady paycheck, another bigger paycheck to do this all day long, every day, for years if not for decades, to make a change in the world and to right a wrong.

How much is your time worth?  Start at the low end: if, instead, you had worked at a big company or started your own company or worked at an investment bank or a consulting firm, how much money would the world pay you for your skills?  A few hundred thousand dollars?  A few million dollars? 

That’s your baseline.  Now ask yourself: how important is the problem you’re trying to solve?  Are you trying to make sure that women have a safe, affordable place to give birth?  Creating a way for people to have clean drinking water so they and their children don’t fall ill? Protecting refugees from genocide?  Providing after school tutoring for at-risk kids?  Giving people with chronic disease a place to come together and support one another? 

Sounds pretty important.

Our political system is mostly broken, but the fact that candidates have to go out and convince millions of people to get out and pull a lever for them matters.  This communication defines the terms of the debate; it defines what issues will and won’t get addressed.  And it defines accountability.  If Barack Obama really becomes President of the United States, don’t you think he’ll be just a little bit more accountable to the one million people who donated directly to his campaign?

What’s your theory of change?  How much change happens through the services you deliver?  And how much change happens by convincing the rest of the world that the problem you’re trying to address, and the way you’re trying to address it, is worth paying attention to?  It’s both, it’s not either/or.

Breast cancer has an unbelievable level of awareness in the United States, definitely ahead of all other cancers.  Yet breast cancer is actually the 5th leading cause of cancer death in the United States, behind lung, stomach, liver and colon cancer.(2)  So why does it get the most attention and the most funding? 

It’s because of Nancy Brinker.

Nancy’s older sister Susan Komen died of breast cancer in 1980, at the age of 36, three years after being diagnosed with breast cancer.  In her sister’s memory, Nancy Brinker created the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, which has since raised $1 billion for breast cancer research, education and health services – and promised to raise another $2 billion in the next decade. Breast cancer research is the best-funded of all cancers,(3) and that is because of Nancy Brinker’s leadership.  Nancy decided that fighting breast cancer was worth fighting for.  Because of her efforts, drastically more resources (public and private) are in play to find a cure.

This is not about competition for resources, this is about increasing the size of the pie.  We’ve seen an unprecedented growth in global wealth in the last two decades: there are currently 95,000 ultra-high net worth individuals in the world – people with $30 million or more of investable assets.4    On top of that, there are more than $60 trillion worth of investment assets in the market today, with an increasing amount of this money thinking more long-term about the big problems facing the world: energy and water scarcity, greenhouse gases, global commodity shortages, healthcare and education delivery, poverty alleviation…you name it. 

The allocation of these resources matters. 

Convincing the most powerful, resource-rich people you know that allocating some of their capital to the issues you’re addressing matters. 

You’re devoting your life, your spirit, your energy, your faith into making the vision you have of a better future into a reality. 

So why are you so scared to ask people for money?  Why do you feel afraid to say: “This problem is so important and so urgent that it is worth your time and your money to fix it.  I’m devoting my whole life to fixing this problem.  I’m asking you to devote some of your resources to my life’s work too.” 

Maybe it’s because:

1.    People think that asking for money is all about asking for money.  It is and it isn’t.  Most of the time it is about inspiring someone to see the world the way you do – with the same understanding of the problems and the same vision of how it can be overcome – and convincing them that you and your organization can actually make that vision into a reality.  The resources come second. 

2.    People think that storytelling is a gift, not a skill.  Learning how to do this – to be an effective storyteller, to consistently connect with different people from different walks of life and convince them to see the world as you do and walk with you to a better future – is hard, but it’s a skill like any other.  It’s true that some people are born with it.  But it still can be learned and practiced, and if your nonprofit is going to succeed, you’d better have more than one or two people who can pull this off. 

3.    Money = Power.  Our society has done a spectacular job of creating enormous amounts of wealth.  At the same time, wealth is associated with power, and not having wealth can feel like not having power.  So going to someone who has money and saying, “You have the resources, please give some of them to me” doesn’t feel like a conversation between equals. 

How about this instead: “You are incredibly good at making money.  I’m incredibly good at making change.  The change I want to make in the world, unfortunately, does not itself generate much money.  But man oh man does it make change.  It’s a hugely important change.  And what I know about making this change is as good and as important as what you know about making money.  So let’s divide and conquer – you keep on making money, I’ll keep on making change. And if you can lend some of your smarts to the change I’m trying to make, well that’s even better.  But most of the time, we both keep on doing what we’re best at, and if we keep on working together the world will be a better place.”

4.    I’m terrified you’ll say ‘no.’ We all hate rejection.  Being rejected when asking for money is a double whammy.  You were already scared to ask, and then the person said no.  They have all the power.  You walk away, head down, empty hat in hand. 

Get over it.  You’re still devoting your life to this work.  You shared an idea with someone.  You didn’t convince them today, but you probably got their attention.  Maybe you’ll convince them tomorrow.  Maybe they’ll tell a friend.  Maybe you learned something that will make your pitch better the next time.  At least you got your story out there to the right person. 

You made a change – you just didn’t get any money in return.

I’ve met too many nonprofit CEOs who say “I hate fundraising.  I don’t fundraise.”  If you’re being hired as a nonprofit CEO and the Board tells you that you won’t be fundraising, they’re either misguided or lying. 

Tell them they’re wrong.  Tell them that your job as a CEO is to be an evangelist for your idea and to convince others about the change you want to see in the world.  Tell them that if this idea is worth supporting then they should jump in with both feet and support it with their time and money and by telling their friends it is worth supporting.

Spending your time talking to powerful, influential people about the change you hope to see in the world is a pretty far cry from having fundraising as a “necessary evil.” 

Do you really believe that the “real work” is JUST the “programs” you operate?  (the school you run; the meals you serve; the vaccines you develop; the patients you treat?)   Do you really believe that it ends there?  Do you really believe that in today’s world, where change can come from anyone and anywhere, that convincing people and building momentum and excitement and a movement really doesn’t matter? 

Of course your programs or investments are real work.  But so is evangelizing, communicating, sharing, convincing, cajoling, and arm-twisting.  So are videos and images and stories and ideas.

If your ideas and programs and people and vision are so great, shouldn’t people be willing to reach into their pockets and fund them?   If it’s worth spending your life doing this work, shouldn’t you or someone in your organization be able to convince someone else that the work is worth supporting?

In the for-profit world, nothing happens if you don’t have a compelling product with a compelling story that wins out in the marketplace of ideas and gets people to act.  People get so excited about Apple’s products that they blog about the next release, scour the Internet for registered patents, spread ideas and rumors about what is coming next, and convince the people around them that Apple = cool.  Do you think this would happen without Steve Jobs living and breathing the brand each and every day?

So how is it that in the nonprofit sector we create this illusion that growth and change and impact can happen absent this kind of energy and engagement? 

There’s this unspoken idea floating around that “fundraisers” can go about their work in a vacuum, having quiet, unimportant conversations with nameless, faceless rich people, while all the while the people who do the real work (the program folks) can go about their business, separate from and unconnected to this conversation. 

What a waste. 

Don’t you think that creating a tribe5 of connected, engaged, passionate evangelists for your cause will create a positive feedback loop that will amplify the change you hope to see in the world?  It doesn’t matter if that tribe is 300 powerful, smart, wealthy people or 3 million regular folks who believe in you and the change you hope to make.  If they are passionate and engaged and you give them a way to help, you will amplify your impact.   

If nothing else, then, we need a new word.  Fundraising is about a transaction – I raise funds from you, you get nothing in return. 

I’d rather be an evangelist, a storyteller, an educator, a translator, a table-pounder, a guy on his soap box, a woman with a megaphone, a candidate for change.  I want to talk to as many people as I can about my ideas – whether in person or in newsletters or on Facebook or Twitter or in the Economist or at the TED conference or at Davos – and capture their imagination about the change I hope to see in the world. 

Don’t you?

----
1 It’s called Acumen Fund (
www.acumenfund.org or http://blog.acumenfund.org).
http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs297/en/index.html 
http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/NCI/research-funding orhttp://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/03/06/cancer-funding-does-it-add-up/ 
4
http://www.us.capgemini.com/worldwealthreport07/State_of_the_World_Wealth_2007.pdf. Though the October 2008 crash may have affected these numbers somewhat, there is still a lot of wealth out there.


...and you can partner with my family in spreading the life-changing message of Jesus Christ by using the "donate" button on the sidebar.  I'm not afraid to ask.  Now.

What if Jesus Ran for President? Spinsters Unite!

Thanks, Travis.  (note: you'll need to pause the iMike Music Player at the bottom of the page)




Saturday Night Live - A Prophetic Voice from the Past


Take heed.  Maybe your finances could use some reform.  (note: you'll need to pause the iMike Music Player at the bottom of this page)

Bike Basszilla















Saw this one over on Evan Courtney dot com.  What song would you be playing on this system-o-doom?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Coming Soon...








Join me in the Love Revolution that is Positive Post Tuesday!

Speaking of Movies...















Yes, for realz. 

With the recent resurgence of Star Wars, no doubt fueled by The Clone Wars, is it any suprise that Mel Brooks and his cronies would do such a thing?

From Wired: "Darth Vader is huge. So why not just make the Spaceballs version, Dark Helmet, short? That's funny, right? Why not name the old green wizard in Spaceballs Yogurt? See? It sort of looks like Yoda. And you can eat yogurt. Classic. And, if Star Wars built much of its story line on The Force,Spaceballs has The Schwartz — a Yiddish-y lightsaber that extends from the crotch. Unpack the Humanitas Prize.

All you need to do is take jokes like these and explain them to exhaustion, and you have the level of parody Spaceballs: The Animated Series offers."

Yeah.  But that movie made me laugh...

I'll watch it once just for sport.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Bill Maher's "Religulous"... and why it doesn't bother me


Funny how this movie thing keeps coming up.  Though I have yet to see the movie, (as tends to be the case with two young children) I have recently watched many extended trailers, clips, Bill Maher interviews, a few supportive reviews, and loads of  opposed reviews of the film.  Bill is the flag-bearer of the self-proclaimed gosepl of "I Don't Know" (read: agnostic)

I'm not a Bill Maher fan.  Watched his show for years just so I could cringe and yell at the screen.  But he's no fool.  While there's no ground-breaking trails blazed in this comedic documentary, Bill does one thing very well: He asks GREAT questions.

To Followers of Christ: Does that offend you?  

I seem to remember this lengthy love story where people were full of questions about the coming Messiah.  And later in that love story the Messiah himself came and served the masses, loved people, and, yes, answered burning questions regarding this King and his supposed Kingdom.

The book of First Peter in the Bible, Chapter 3 verse 15 has this to say: "Be ready to speak up and tell anyone who asks why you're living the way you are, and always with utmost courtesy." (The Message version)

When this faith is genuine; when it's bursting with love; when it's clothed in humility and service to others - it's beautiful.  When it's burdensome religion - it's religulous - and who can blame Bill Maher for thinking it through?

I welcome such a film.  A catalyst of sorts.  If it furthers the possibility for followers of Christ like me to step out of my box of comfort and into the lives of people that crave intelligent and potentially transforming discussion, I'm all in.  

Makes me wonder about the virtues of a film like Fireproof versus the virtues of a film like Religulous.

What do you think?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Show and Tell (or why "Christian" movies bother me)


Lately I've had a few challenges to my thoughts on what I deem as the sub-par "Christian" film-making industry.  In short, we followers of Christ simply give grace to what are otherwise awful movies.  This angers me.  This frustrates me.  Why in the world would anyone else care about such a movie...other than those already filling the churches?  So what is really accomplished?  It seems to me that we further fulfil the notion that the arts and influence of the body of Christ are ineffective and poorly exectuted.  Yay us.

You may have read my past blog on Facing the Giants, or my recent comments on Fireproof - though I have yet to see the movie.  Fortunately.  

Shaun Groves takes a stab at venting his thoughts on the process of "Christian" movie making.  Read below:

Ted Slater has a very clever and thought-provoking post up about the movie Fireproof. (HT: TC) But I don’t agree with it.

Ted argues that despite the film’s production shortcomings, we Christians should still cheer this film because of its transforming message.  I disagree.

The way the message is conveyed is less effective at accomplishing the goals of its makers than it could be, I think.  So I’m not bashing Fireproof, but I’m not cheering either.

The thinking of Fireproof‘s makers may go something like this: More people go to movies every year than go to church or to sporting events.  People currently watch movies about sex and violence and are influenced to be promiscuous and violent. So let’s make a movie about Jesus-y stuff and those same people will come see it and act more Jesus-y.

Putting theological, historical and sociological problems with this kind of Constantinian thinking aside for a moment, let’s think about the efficacy of these films as it relates to their makers’ expressed intent to influence audiences.

Have you ever seen a movie that came right out and said, “The solution to your problem, everybody, is to hate your neighbor?” Ever seen that?  Heck no.

Have you ever seen the movie gang member or the mafia guy or the serial killer go to his son and explain his philosophical and moral position on violence in a long chunk of dialogue?  Again, heck no.

This is because nowadays a movie’s message (and every movie has one right?) is shown, not told.  Because it works.

What we’re likely to see in a movie advocating violence is a sympathetic character in a situation that motivates him to commit a violent act.  Then we see the favorable or ambivalent reaction of other characters to that violence.  If the protagonists commit the violent acts and approve of them, the message is stated clearly enough to the audience. Indirectly.  Every movie goer is shown, not told, that violence is acceptable in the situation depicted.  Then each individual chooses whether what they’ve been shown is applicable to their life outside the movie theatre.  And Christians boycott and criticize these violent films (or used to) because they’re convinced this method of communicationworks.

But when Christians go to make movies/music of their own for the purpose of communicating a message, they don’t always adopt the same method.  Instead, what Christian movie and music makers often do is tell more than show.  In Fireproof, in just the few scenes I’ve watched, there is an awful lot of telling.  No doubt there is some showing too.  But Fireproof’s makers try to connect the dots for the audience with sermonettes.

I don’t know why this was done.  I know why I’m so tempted to do the same thing (and have done it) in my own music. I’m afraid of two things (at least): 1)Not being Christian enough to please my Christian audience.  If Christians aren’t happy with what I’ve made, I won’t make money or get to make anything else for the Christian media subculture. And, I fear (know) any subtlety in my lyrics will be scorned as “shame of the gospel.” 2)My audience might not get the point I’m making unless I spell it out in big bold letters.  And that last sentence, by the way, contained a metaphor and I fear (know) many Christians on a diet of Christian media don’t get those these days. (How many people still think “Welcome Home” is about heaven and stare blankly at me while I sing about being a hummingbird?)

Still, I prefer showing over telling simply because it works - it’s an effective memorable way to communicate a message.  Popular movies, books and music do influence, to varying degrees, the way we perceive ourselves, God and each other.  And, like olympic figure skaters, they do this without looking like they’re trying - without preaching, using mostly story.  And more than one camera, a multi-million dollar budget, and a household-name director. But is that any excuse for making yet another Christian flick that tells us to do the right thing?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Silence Speaks


Silence reveals truth to me.  Silence is something I cherish more times than others.  Silence is painful.  Silence is revealing.  Silence is deafening.  Silence draws me into myself.  Silence makes it hard to look in the mirror.  Silence makes me sleepy.  Silence sets me free.  Silence takes me back to childhood memories.  Silence reminds me of regrets.  Silence reminds me of my future successes.  

As a corporate worship leader, the most powerful times I have personally encountered were in times of total and complete silence.  Not because I didn't know what to do, but because I knew exactly what to do.  Do you know the feeling?  To know God's presense is so thick, near and permeating that you respectfully fear so much as blinking or inahling.  I'm the best I know when I am silent.  Interestingly, the church seems to be fearful of such an occurence.  I aspire to lead worship where people understand the power of silence.  

1 Kings 19:11-12 "...Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord...and after the fire, a still small voice..."

Lord, help me to teach and experience the powerfully uncommon times of your holiness.

What are your thoughts on silence?

Monday, October 6, 2008

What's In a Name?

I spotted these at EPCOT's U.K. Pavilion last night.  I know what you're thinking; Nothing says "yummy goodness" like Digestive.  I thought the same thing.  

Maybe you'd like to wash it down with this fine beverage?   

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Inspiration...

In case you wondered about some of my influences in music: The Beatles, Harry Connick, Jr., Third Day, Beck, Dave Matthews Band, Counting Crowes, David Crowder Band, Lenny Kravitz, and these guys.....   (note: you'll need to pause the player at the bottom of this page)


Friday, September 26, 2008

File Under: Things I Could Have NEVER Pulled Together Myself


About an hour and a half ago I left for the Post Office to send off the last batch of letters asking for support for our ministry.  And I thought I was just going to the Post Office...

Little did I know that I would end up seeing Michael Hasha, The Ridge Association Director of Missions, across the street talking in front of his office.  This is the guy who works with local churches for various types of support.  He's "there" for people.  This was convenient because I wanted to be sure to thank him for passing my name along to someone recently for some help with music.  He invited me in.

Let me back up.  Today has been tough.  I'm whiny.  Not over nothing, but over things like rent, car payment, power bill, insurance bill, cell phone bill, internet bill, and then a few other things like car a/c and general uncertainty.  Do you ever have those times when your faith is so inpenetrable and other times when you feel like you need a friend to literally hold you up and speak good things into you?  I need the latter today.

So Mike and I sit down to chat.  In the meantime I see a guy, Frank, I met a few weeks back.  Frank is a budding young worship leader and recently asked about me taking some time to mentor him.  That's what I'm called to do.  What are the odds I would run into him there?  Do you know that I've been associated with the Ridge Association for almost five years and never been inside that office?  hmmm.

A few moments later I have the priviledge to meet Tom, a local pastor that happens to be looking for someone to come in and give them a hand with worship through music.  Again, how crazy that this unplanned trip is bringing so much opportunity.

During the discussion Mike proceeds to let me know of some local needs and opportunities; some things that I love to do and would also provide income for my family.  He's making a call to the head of music for the FL Baptist Convention just for me.  How nice is that?

How did all of this happen?  I chose to show some appreciation to someone I barely know.  Am I suggesting that none of these opportunities would have come about without me seeking Mike out today at the Post Office?  No.  But it's incredibly unlikely.  Either way, these things would not have rolled into play so quickly.

Love God.  Love others.  Mike was the other.  I was the other.  

Thanks, God.  I sure needed that boost today.  

Keep cool my babies,

Mike

The Cost for "Extra Nice"





I found this over on Seth Godin's blog.  Thought it was great food for thought.  Consumerists take heed!

How much extra for nice? If I pay $1000 extra for a first-class seat, odds are the flight attendant will be nice to me.  If I pay $2000 extra for the presidential suite at the hotel, odds are the front desk clerk will be nice to me.  If I give the valet $50 to park my car, odds are he'll be nice to me as well.

So, here's the question: if all I want, the only extra, is for someone to be nice to me when I visit your business, how much extra does that cost? How much extra to talk to a nice person when I call tech support? How much extra to find a nice receptionist at the doctor's office? Would you pay $9 extra for a smile when you dealt with the Social Security bureaucrats and were filing a form?

I know you're rushed and stressed and stretched. I know your team deals with hundreds or thousands of customers, and a lot of them aren't very friendly or warm. And I know that some of your customers (maybe a lot) would happily pay a little extra to get that one thing they want most of all...

I think there's a huge gap between what people are willing to pay for nice (a lot) and what it would cost businesses to deliver it (almost nothing). Smells like an opportunity.