Thursday, December 23, 2010

Lessons Learned, Day 3

Well, 2010 is 8 days away from being in the history books. Quite an amazing year, went by amazingly fast!

I've been considering things I've learned in the last year. Lesson 1 and lesson 2 are already up. What is the 3rd lesson for the year?

Lesson #3: Love a lot.

A friend of mine recommended I check out "The Peasant Princess" podcast series by Mark Driscoll at Mars Hill Church in Seattle. I'm not turning into a Reformed acolyte any time soon, but there were many good things in that series. I noticed he liked to talk about being a servant and being generous, and that sums up a heart of love. I have tried to show love to my wife more in the last few months, and I think it has made an impact in both our lives.

Once we get past our selfish nature, loving isn't a hard thing to do. We can do a lot of little things to show love around. I was in a Christmas gift exchange game this week, where we traded around DVD's. When it came to my turn, the movie I wanted was "locked" by being traded too many times, and there wasn't really anything else interesting. One woman was stuck with a set of creepy movies, and was bummed about it, because no one would steal hers.

So I did.

She got to pick out another movie, and was happy to get a chick flick. I don't want the creepy flicks, but it seemed simple to let her have another chance to find a good movie. She was really touched by it. Not a big deal to me, but it meant something to her.

It's a good lesson for this time of year: show some more love, people! Find a way to serve someone, to be generous. You'll get a reward just as good back, I bet.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Lessons Learned, Day 2

On Tuesday I posted the first of a series of "lessons learned" for 2010. At the end of the post I mentioned that there was a corollary lesson that came from the same event.

Lesson #2 - The Little Things Matter

The things we do day by day matter. Little things can be a blessing to others or come back to bite us. In my first post I talk about a situation that may be overblown, but people are judging harshly. The flip side is that, if the person I know did things a little bit differently, they may not be dragged into this mess at all.

We never know what effect our actions will have. I realized a long time ago that if I act rude to another driver, I could be seeing them the next day in my job, or run into them in a position of needing their help. How would that go over if I acted like a jerk?

When we talk about God as watching everything, that should motivate us to walk in integrity when alone as well as before the crowds. Sadly, it seems we still need motivation. It comes down to our selfishness, doesn't it? We give in to acting without thinking, being petty, joining in with the gossip, the bashing people behind their backs.

Still, I have had experiences where someone commented on something I did that was positive, that touched them, and I don't recall it being a big deal. Little things matter both ways - for good or ill.

Lord, this reminds me of the importance of walking in Your Spirit daily. If we keep Your word in our hearts, if we keep our ears attuned to the still, small voice, if we put first the the Kingdom of Heaven, what a difference it makes in our lives. It also spills out to the people around us. Help us to learn to live like this more each day!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Lessons Learned, Day 1

Last week was the first time I totally whiffed on a Christian Sci-fi and Fantasy blog tour, featuring The Charlatan's Boy by Jonathan Rogers. I felt bad about it, but some things were going on that took away any spare attention I had (aside from work and family), and I hadn't read the book. Anyway, I heard good things about it, and should perhaps check it out.

One thing that came out of the events of last week: I learned an important lesson, and it made me think about other lessons I've learned through the year. Sounds like fertile ground for a series of blog posts!

Lesson #1 - We are quick to judge

There is a local case of some young men being charged with some crimes. Normally, I would shake my head and condemn such hooligans, and move on with life. In this case, I knew one of the men well, and was sure that he wouldn't be party to such things. Through the week news started to trickle out that brought a question to many of the charges, especially why the one young man was even included in this event.

The reaction from the community has been ugly. Most people are doing what *I* would have done, namely condemning the men and slandering them with nasty comments. The internet doesn't help things, between people leaving comments on articles from local news sites to Facebook. On one news site I posted a comment regarding people being innocent until proven guilty. That...didn't go over well. I reiterated the point, and another reader wrote, "your position is admirable but not practical in our society."

Is that sad, or what?

In this instance, I believe I have inside information that makes me see the case opposite of many people. I have been disheartened by the responses, but I have to confess I would be making similar judgments if not for my familiarity with one of the accused and the case.

Certainly victims of crimes should be treated with respect and taken seriously. I worry though that our instant culture has produced instant judgment. The due process of our judicial system isn't given a chance to work. No matter what comes out later on in this case, there will be a taint on these men.

It makes me realize that I should slow down, consider both sides, and realize a couple of things:
1. I don't have all the information.

2. I am not the final arbiter. Ultimately God is. He knows the hearts of the accusers, the accused, and me as I judge them all.

There is a corollary to this lesson, and I'll share that in the next blog post.

Lord, help me to judge not, lest I am judged. We are so quick with our opinion in this internet age, when it is easy to spread it out quickly and often without consequence as we hide behind "screen names." Help me to see with Your perspective when I am presented with a judgment call, to know Your heart above all.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Holiness and Leslie Nielsen

"Surely you can't be serious!"

"I am serious. And don't call me Shirley."

The Net was abuzz this week with the sad passing of Leslie Nielsen, the actor who defined the slapstick genre of movies with Airplane!, the Naked Gun series, and numerous other movie spoofs. What a great story. The guy was in the movie machine back in the 50's as a standard handsome leading man, and then was able to find success in his love of comedy after Airplane! took off (groan) in 1980. My mom's name was Shirley, so we always loved that joke and played off of it and the irony for her saying it.

A child of the 80's, I really enjoyed these movies. The slapstick and play on of words were great, but there were lots of things I didn't get watching them initially as a teenager (I was rather naive, thankfully). There's a ton of sexual innuendo, but I didn't understand much of it. I thought they were harmless movies.

In 1991 I went on a Discipleship Training School with YWAM. We had three months of training in Montana, learning about the character and ways of God, the Bible, prayer, evangelism, worship, etc. Then we had a two month practical outreach in Thailand. It was a such an investment for me to make, right out of high school. It really changed so much of my perspective, from learning so much about God and who He is, to seeing the bigger world and all the needs out there. Quite a perspective for this Idaho boy.

What does this have to do with Leslie Nielsen? It's not a cheap attempt to draw search engine traffic here. On the flight back from Thailand the movie was The Naked Gun 2 1/2 (gotta love the 1/2!). I had watched it prior to the DTS and thought it was hilarious. Something was different this time. I saw so much that went against God's standards and ways. It was like I had a different lens to look through, and there was so much junk in it. Maybe it was that my internal lenses were cleaned, and I could see garbage for what it was.

I didn't enjoy it the second time, and I think I ended up not watching the rest of the movie.

Leslie Nielsen was a remarkable comedic actor, with great timing and funny faces galore. Still, those movies too quickly went for lowest common denominator humor. As an immature 17 year old, it was awesome. After spending 5 months pursuing the Lord in a concentrated manner every day, it was repulsive. The show didn't change. I did.

I think of that experience sometimes when I see what goes on in popular culture. I wasn't trying to be holier-than-thou about it, but it was a natural response after getting close to Him. I'm sad to say that I probably am not bothered by a lot of things I watch anymore, because I have to live in "real life" and don't have the time to dedicate to Jesus like I did in those days. When you get to live like that, then your spiritual sensitivity naturally goes up.

I have no excuse for not being there now. I could do a lot better in my relationship with the Lord, even though the DTS was a special time that is hard to replicate in the day to day of living.

So strange as it may seem, when I think of Leslie Nielsen, I think of holiness. I am reminded of such a wonderful time in my life. And I think of Shirley. A laugh, a tear, and a sigh mixed together.

Thanks for the chuckles, Mr. Nielsen, and for the memories. Here's hoping God's grace finds you.