Sunday, February 28, 2010

Smooth Like Mike

It is amazing to me some of the things that one can find on the internet. There is a lot of questionable content out there sure, but every so often you come across something that is just really, really cool. I was surfing around YouTube last night, as I often do, and I found this video. I've been on a Michael Jackson kick the last few days. One of his songs and dances that I have always enjoyed is Smooth Criminal. There are alot of impersonations of this dance out there, but this one I just found amazing. It is very professionally done and for me, just a very cool thing to watch. I give massive props to these guys who put on this show! So, for your viewing pleasure, I give you the MIT Chapter of Sigma Nu Fraternity performing a rendition of Michael Jackson's Smooth Criminal music video. Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

By Faith

I am not worth very much. I have no superstar qualities which make me stick out from the crowd. While I possess talents I don’t have any one talent that is uniquely mine, one that no one else shares. My talents are common and ordinary. When the world looks at me I am just another one in a mass of ordinary people.

Evaluating my talents I realize that I am not going to make an impact on a huge amount of people. I don’t have what it takes to make a huge difference in this world. It is thinking like this that assures that I will never make a lasting difference. When we do just the things we are confident in doing and doing just the things we perceive our resources allow us to do, we will not accomplish very much.

We don’t need better self-esteem, but we need faith. When we live by faith we understand that it isn’t about our talents or resources, but it is about God’s power at work in our lives. Stepping out to do God’s will, even when we don’t have the talents and resources, means we are giving God the opportunity to work through us.

Now, that doesn’t mean that every time we step out in faith and we seek to do something bigger than us will be a great success in our eyes. Sometimes it will even seem like a failure. Failure in our eyes doesn’t mean God’s will wasn’t accomplished. It means God’s agenda is different from our agenda.

Part of living by faith means focusing on God’s will rather than on our resources. It requires us to understand that if we are doing God’s will, then He is going to provide what is needed to get the job done. If we wait until we have the resources or the talents to do something we are going to miss out on God working through our lives to make an impact in this world.

Are You a Light, Am I?

Our love makes us lights in the world. Without love we still live in darkness, but our love, which provides a sharp contrast with the way of the world, shines for all the world to see. Why is our love a light? One reason is because love reveals life the way it is supposed to be lived. The world is filled with places where people are abused, where they are taken for granted, or they are simply ignored. If we as Chrstians participate in these same actions then we will look exactly like the rest of the world. To be lights requires that we stand apart from the world. If we can’t love ourselves and other Christians, how can we love those in the world? If we can’t love ourselves and other Christians, why would the unloved who are lost want to be a part of God's Family? Our love for each other meets a need that everyone has in their hearts.

Another reason love makes us lights is because love deals with our actions. Truth deals with thoughts and philosophies which are constantly argued and debated. When we reduce Christianity down to being just a truth, we turn it into just another philosophical discussion that is to be debated. If the truth of Christianity is lived out through our love then the Gospel moves from something that is debated to something that is real, practical and transforming. Our love is proof that the message is true.

To be lights in the world means that we love: Love God, love ourselves and love the lost. We can possess all the correct doctrine and have all the rational arguments for God's existence, but they are meaningless without love. What sometimes frustrates me is to see people who claim to be standing for "God's Truth," but who are so very unloving in their approach. Sometimes I agree with what they are saying, but I shake my head because by their approach I know they have missed the point. When we live in an unloving manner we prove that we are living in darkness!

 So how can we live a life of love? It begins by doing loving actions, regardless of how we feel about the person or situation. If we wait until we feel like loving then we will never love. Love begins by making the choice. The choice to be kind and respectful to other people. The choice to show love to someone even you don't feel like it at the time. When we do this, we begin to shine in the dark world around us.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Too Busy to Love?

Friends. They are so vital to our lives, and yet we can think of a dozen different reasons not to cultivate friendships. It is time consuming work to maintain friendships, and so we allow ourselves to be pushed along by life only stopping to connect with people when it is convenient to us.

One of the reasons I bring this up is because I often feel like I get treated that way. Yes, I am your friend, but the relationship is based on your terms. So, when I call, they don't return the message, or when I write an email they don't bother with a reply.

It is crucial for us to remember that we are sending a message with our silence. Being busy is no excuse for ignoring someone. We are all busy, and so relationships require we put aside, if not for a moment, the busy-ness to focus on the person. To allow our busy-ness to consume us makes us very self-centered people.
The sad reality is that as I examine my life, I realize that I have done the same thing. I haven't returned phone calls and have let emails go ignored. I pushed away the thought of buying the thank you card or stopping for a visit because I didn't have the time. People who I love and care for are left to wonder if I truly care anymore.

 Here is the question: Who is in need of our love and encouragement? Whose love and encouragement are you in need of? I am sure just like me, there is someone you know who is longing to hear a friendly voice or see a smiling face. Who are you going to share your love with today?

Sunday, February 14, 2010

A Valentine Wish for All

A very Happy Valentine's Day to all of my friends and family. I love you all! As always have a wonderful day!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Eye of the Tiger

I have many television shows that I enjoy watching. From my blog postings, you have no doubt noticed that I am a huge LOST junkie. One of the shows that I haven't been able to keep up on, for various reasons, is Supernatural.
My daughter and I love this show! Mostly for no other reason than it is just good, fun entertainment.

At the end of a Season 4 episode entitled Yellow Fever, the folks of Supernatural treated fans to a hilarious clip of Jensen Ackles lip syncing Eye of the Tiger by Survivor. I have seen this clip so many times, yet every time I watch it I laugh uncontrollably. This represents for me, just one of the simple things in everyday life that make me happy. I hope you have as much fun watching it as I do. Enjoy!

Women, Faith and LOST

Television as a medium has a long way to go in its portrayal of both women and Christians, but in my rewatching of past episodes, ABC's LOST may be a promising start. It's not surprising to discover that TV is lacking in sophisticated portrayals of both women and Christian faith.

One of my favorite directors in television is Joss Whedon. Whedon is the creator of such shows Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel and my personal favorite, FireFly. Despite the fantastical circumstances his female characters find themselves in, Whedon has been unusually successful in bringing them to life by grounding them in the common experience of women, and portraying that experience with a sympathy and a realness that is often a rarity in male directors. But what about the "common experience" of faith?

I'm hard pressed to think of a female character on television today who thoughtfully approaches issues of faith, but one that comes to mind is the character of Rose on LOST. For me, this show is one of the few on television that actively engages themes of faith. At its center is the fate vs. free will debate. Though it does so mainly through its male characters. Rose, albeit a character who screen time is dwarfed in comparison to the male characters of the show, embodies a thoughtful, confident faith that does not resort to stereotypes of religious folks. In one of the most moving scenes of the series, Rose prays with Charlie, a character struggling to make sense of a difficult situation. Her prayer (to "our heavenly Father") comforts Charlie and her faith impacts all those who come into contact with her.

I would love to see more of this kind of character, both to process my own faith and to help others understand the unique viewpoint of Christian women. LOST's subtle portrayal of faith has led to constructive conversations with millions of fans who would normally dismiss Christianity because of TV's portrayal of them as silly, judgmental or unintelligent. While TV has a long way to go, LOST represents small steps toward engagement with the issues of faith that make up our stories.

37 Seconds

I have just finished watching Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium. I have lost count of how many times I have seen this movie. I still get sucked in by the magic and wonder of the story and it feels SO good to be captivated by the special things in life.

The story is about a magical toy store run by Mr. Magorium who is 243 years old. The toys are alive and bouncing and it is a haven for children of all ages. The secret is that Mr. Magorium believes in the store but one day he announces that he is leaving. In fact he says that he is "leaving this world" and he hands over the store to his young assistant.

The assistant is horrifed. She doesn't want Mr. Magorium to "leave" and to make matters worse the store reacts badly and eventually shuts itself down and all the magic departs as well as the customers. The movie has a wonderful moment when assistant takes Mr. Magorium on a special day to help him see the magic of life. He understands at the best last day of life ever. They jump on beds in a bedroom store; they roll out a giant sheet of bubble wrap and dance on it to the sound of popping and laughter and they set all the clocks in a grandfather clock shop to the same time so the whole store breaks out into chiming at the same time.

As the film continues the assistant must either sell the store or discover the source of the store's magic. There is a point in the movie when Mr. Magorium's assistant said that they needed to wait 37 seconds for the clocks to start chiming. He replied "No. We breathe. We pulse. We regenerate. Our hearts beat. Our minds create. Our souls ingest. 37 seconds, well used, is a lifetime."

I sit and ponder this statement. How many of us are too busy to take just 37 seconds out of our lives to talk to God? Too busy to take 37 seconds to marvel at the magic of this world? I am one of the guilty one to be sure. On some days, I take more time with my smoking than I do with my Creator. There is so much in this world that I am thankful for. Taking 37 seconds to talk with God shouldn't be hard. I am not looking for an answer, I just wanted to send the question out there. In closing I will leave you with this, there is still magic in the world if only we take the time to look and realize that 37 seconds well used is a lifetime.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Begining of the End

Ninety-nine percent of all American homes have a television set. Like it or not, TV is a part of our everyday lives. We can't write if off as trivial; we're watching it, and so are our friends, family and neighbors. There's a lot of junk out there sure, but great TV, which admittedly is rare, is no less worthy of our attention than a great movie or book. At its best, a good show expands our understanding of who we are and what it means to be human. It affirms what is universal to the human experience and challenges us to consider the world from another point of view.

After months of waiting, fans of the ABC drama "LOST" can rejoice: the show returns for its final season tonight. But, if promotional materials depicting the cast as characters in DaVinci's "The Last Supper" are any indication, "LOST's" roughly 23 million followers may be surprised to find a great deal of religious imagery in their favorite fantasy show this year.

According to theological experts, the show's characters and themes are steeped in a profound biblical message. All the evidence in "LOST" is pointing to existence of a truly good higher power, and in turn, to the existence of evil. Though the show quotes a wide range of philosophers and has made references to various religious terms, like the dharma of the Hindu and Buddhist faiths, "LOST" for the most part thrives on the Judeo-Christian narrative, particularly from the Old Testament.

Consider the character names, for example. There's Jacob, who is the biblical father of the 12 tribes of Israel. And then there is a baby named Aaron, the name of Moses' brother. "LOST" mirrors the Book of Exodus, when the people of Israel are led out of slavery into the Promised Land. But while the Jews were literally enslaved, the characters of "LOST" wear emotional shackles instead. Indeed, each character has a burden to bear. From a murderer to an alcoholic to a former Iraqi solder who used torture tactics, the characters all have baggage. And this, reaches out to viewers. Deep down, we all know we're not perfect ,That is our personal "land of slavery."

We find ourselves in a context of evil and suffering in the world and the randomness of it all -- 9/11, Katrina, the Haiti earthquake, We've been made for mercy and justice [and yet we] live in a world where those things are out of order, in chaos. We are clueless. We are "lost."

So what can fans expect when the final season premieres tonight on ABC? Speculations are that if the show follows the Bible's narrative, the characters will spend their final season searching for home. Everyone is trying to find a way home for salvation, They are looking for someone to show them the way to the "land flowing with milk and honey."