Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Create vs. Consume?

After 36 years now, I've come to realize that I'm not a very artistic person.  I am greatly limited in my abilities to draw, or paint, or create music, etc.  In fact, this accompanying picture is a sketch entitled Dinosaur Jumping on a Trampoline.  Granted, I was under the time constraints of the game Telephone Pictionary, but I believe my boss has art from his young son decorating his office wall that makes my work pale in comparison. 

However, thus far, I have not tried to develop any creative abilities.  I've not taken a class on photography, read a book on drawaing, or even approached my uber-artistic wife to teach me something inventive.  For most of the previous 36+ years of my life, I've been ok with my limitations. 

I have been a consumer of creativity.  I constantly have music blaring.  I am really hitting my stride as a reader And even  take my wife to an art museum and had a blast enjoying individual creative endeavours. I adore learning new and exciting things, which include actively learning more about the One who loves me unconditionally.   
I just think that if our heavenly Father is the Master Artist who created everything that we see and appreciate, and I am created in His likeness, then there's gotta be some untapped vein of artistic ability in me.  I want to be more than just a consumer - I want to be a creator too.

So I am now on a quest to find that vein.  I want to improve and broaden my creative talents.  Part of the reason of why I blog is to become a better purveyor of stories and ideas.  Obviously, it's a work in progress, but I am enjoying it more as time progresses (hope you are too).

My question to you - What's your artistic release, and what would you recommend for me to explore creativily as a novice?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Germany surrendered on the 11th Hour of the 11th Day of the 11th Month

I have a deep respect and fascination for those who serve or have served this great nation as part of our military.  To constantly put yourselves in harms way, with little appreciation or compensation, is admirable.  The freedom we enjoy as Americans comes at a cost.  Ronald Reagan said it best with this quote - "Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same."

Having not served, I know I cannot appreciate all that is involved with this level of sacrifice.  I can read books, listen to those who have served, and watch movies and documentaries - but without being there, I cannot fully digest this level of commitment.

Having said that, there are some movies than can give us a glimpse of what it's like to be involved in battle.  One of the more visually descriptive movies of World War II, especially the Normandy landing, is Saving Private Ryan.  I remember that, as it was released, the intense opening sequence (which cost $12 million dollars and required 1,500 extras to recreate) was causing veterans to experience intense flashbacks.  I highly recommend this movie if you want to see a bit of what war is like, but be warned - it's intense.

In the movie, Tom Hanks portrays the laid back Captain John Miller.  He and his men are charged with the task of finding a needle in a haystack, one Private James Ryan, who parachuted in somewhere unknown. This team is not excited about the task, and bickering breaks out along the way.  Watch this clip to see how Tom Hanks' character handles this situation and explains his thoughts on what was going on around them.

Movie Videos & Movie Scenes at

So to all of those who have or are actively serving in the Army, Air Force, Coast Guard, Marines and Navy, we, as a nation, say thanks.  One day alone does not begin to echo the sentiment of a grateful country, but Veterans Day is a great place to start.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Sticks and stones may break my bones but words....?

I find it interesting that, as the years advance, I learn that things I had previously thought to be accurate are actually incorrect.  As a child, at some point, I realized Santa wasn't real, and that the Tooth Fairy was just my parents slipping some money under my pillow as I slept.  In my teen years, somewhere in that time of confusion and awkwardness, I discovered I didn't know everything (something I still have to be reminded of at times), and that my parents actually did have a clue.  As a married adult, I've learned that piling up credit card debt is not as much fun as it sounds, and that digging out of that is much more painful then the frivolous purchases that have long been forgotten. 

Anyone remember the childhood rhyme - Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me?  I dare say we've all quoted that saying at some point in our lives.  It sounds simple, but is it?  I can still remember specific moments when things that were said about me hurt (to be fair, I did give people plenty of opportunities).  I believe we all have those memories.  Maybe we still have those hurts.  Maybe things said recently have cut like a knife.

That's the easy part - remembering how you were hurt.  But now try this exercise - Think of words you've said that have hurt others?  Oh, now THAT stings.  Now instead of being the victim we are the offender. We are the cause of the pain others feel because of the words we've chosen.

On September 2, 2005, in front of a live nation audience, Kanye West proclaimed "George Bush doesn't care about black people."  Those are strong and powerful words.  Once shared, there was no taking them back either.  How did those words resonate with President Bush?  In a recent interview with Matt Lauer, he shared that he views those comments as "One of the most disgusting moments in my presidency."  Imagine that.  After all that happened during his presidency, THIS is one of the worst things that happened during his tenure?

Proverbs 15:4 reminds us - "Gentle words are a tree of life; a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit."  Don't tell me words can't hurt.  They can devastate.  But they can also build up and encourage and spread love.  It's your choice.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Go and Be Intentional

Earlier this week, I witnessed a motor vehicle crash happen - I believe that this was only the second time in my life that I've watched the actual event unfold.  A car decided to turn left directly in front of a local deputy sheriff's car.  Fortunately both were only doing 20-25 miles per hour in a congested area of downtown, and there were no injuries to report.

Getting into an crash with a law enforcement officer has got to be about the worst possible way to start a day.  Accidents are bad enough, much less to do it with one of those responsible for responding to an accident (and determining fault and issuing tickets).  Why not just hit an ambulance?  Were there no school buses in the area? 
These crashes are called accidents for a reason - generally speaking, most crashes happen accidentally.  Sure there may be extenuating circumstances that lead up to the crash (distracted drivers, sudden surprises, impairment, etc), but most drivers don't physically engage other vehicles intentionally.

There is no such thing as a coincidence.  I believe that each day we are introduced to people who can benefit from our positive impact.  It's whether we choose to be a blessing, a curse, or just remain silent that dictates our impact on each person.  Doing nothing comes naturally and requires no additional effort.  Impacting people, however, is difficult, requires practice and preparation, and sometimes involves rejection.  Yet there is no greater investment we can make than intentionally impacting others positively for His Kingdom's purpose.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Election Day is tomorrow - No more ads!!!!!

Unless you've just returned from the moon (wait - didn't someone just tweet from space? - there must be internet access up there too), you know that tomorrow is Election Day.  There is no way you could have missed all of the mailers, the signs, the commercials, the advertisements describing in detail why one candidate is the best choice for their particular office.  Tomorrow is the day where all the wrongs from the previous elections will be righted, where new candidates will make all kinds of crazy improvements to the system, etc. etc. etc. I personally look forward to the days after Election Day where commercials go back to just being about cars and medicines and not smearing those running for office, a time where our landscape returns to fall colors and not political signage.

Regardless of which candidate you support, or which party you are loyal to, I do ask that you consider candidates based on their beliefs and views vs. whether they wear a donkey or an elephant badge on their jacket. Maybe - gasp! - they aren't even part of the Democratic or Republican parties!  (Yes, it's ok to think outside the box).  If you are planning to vote, then do your homework.  Your Sunday newspaper (that dirty printed paper you use to pack the forthcoming Christmas packages to mail to far away friends and relatives) should have enough information regarding the major stands of each candidate running.  You can also utilize technology to help you cast an informed vote tomorrow.

Remember that we as believers serve a Mighty and Powerful King.  One day He will return and set up His kingdom.  Until then, He commands us to respect those who are in authority here on earth - whether we approve of their policies or not (1 Peter 2:13-14).  In fact, Romans 13 tells us that God has placed leaders to serve Him as His servants.  Scandalous, I know.  You might not agree with each and every person in authority, but they are there because God placed them there.  Please leave the hate and disrespect behind. 

I serve a risen King who transcends political and religious affiliations!  How about you?