Monday, February 25, 2008

You watch that show?!

I don't watch much reality tv. I really don't enjoy many of the programs- thank goodness the writers' strike is over and new episodes of my favorite scripted shows will soon be airing. However, one of the few "reality" shows that I do enjoy is Rob and Big. Now, before you judge- yes, it can be stupid, and pointless, and random. But I do like seeing people that know how to enjoy life. Rob and Big seem like guys that genuinely love what they do. But, many of us would argue that we'd love what we do if we had already made our millions and could have an incredible amount of financial freedom. Rob made his money early in life- becoming a professional skateboarder at the age of 16, and making his first million before turning 21 after he helped to create the first "skateboarding shoe" with the brand DC Shoes. Rob's wealth shows through in the different activites that he and his bodyguard/friend "Big" experience on each week's episode.

Last week's episode took on a slightly different tone. At the start of the 30 minute show, Rob and Big encounter a man giving away free ice cream from an ice cream truck. The duo then accompany the ice cream vendor as they travel around town giving ice cream away to motorists, pedestrians, and even a street performer! Well, this inspires the guys to go home and pack up all the clothes that they never wear in large plastic bags, then hand them out to people living on the street. After they give away at least twenty bags of clothes, the two commence with their usual nonsense activities as they dare one of their friends, "Big Zeus" (he's 6ft 9in tall, thus the name) to try to ride a bmx bike over a ramp. After the slapstick comedy and a few falls, Big Zeus completes the task and Rob and Big decide they still need to give more. Big has the idea of spending some time with residents at a local senior living center. Rob is hesitant, claiming he doesn't like old people because they can't relate to what he likes: skating, rap music... But the two go and enjoy some time with the residents. Both men leave in good spirits and are excited about the rewards of blessing others with their time and money.

So what can you give? If you're not yet working, you may not be able to give money to the poor. But maybe you have some clothes that you don't wear to give to a thrift store or the salvation army. And, despite what most people will say, everyone has time. You can give your time to seniors, to people younger than you, to friends in need...the opportunities are there if you just keep your eyes open. Challenge yourself to spend at least one hour a week in service to others, and I think you will soon find it is something you enjoy and can be the highlight of your week.

Verse for the week: 1 Timothy 6:17
"Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment."

Monday, February 18, 2008

Saying a lot...not doing much's one of those things we hate to hear, but we expect everyone to listen when we're the one with the problem. We complain when things don't go our way, when we get impatient, when things don't go as well as we had expected, when we think we can do better than whoever is in charge, or when we get irritated with people for not carrying out our plans like they were supposed to.
We all feel like complaining sometimes, but here are a few questions to ask yourself before the next time you feel like complaining.
  1. How much do you complain? How much is it about the same thing(s)?
  2. What are you complaining about? Refer to the reasons we complain listed above.
  3. Do you have any power to change it? And, if so, are you willing to make an effort to change it?

One of the things I was reminded of last week is that when you're doing anything worth doing, you're going to have struggles. You're going to get frustrated- with yourself, with your task(s), with others....This is perfectly fine. But it's one thing to shake your head and complain, the more noble thing to do is to take action...instead of just pointing out the problem, offer a solution and help to create a plan of action for that solution. But understand that it may not be as easy as you had hoped.

Our youth group has taken action in trying to solve a problem. The situation in Iraq is far from ideal. Click here to find out what we'll be doing this Sunday and over the next few months to take action instead of just talking about how bad it is over there.

If you're frustrated and find yourself complaining- consult your peers, friends, and better yet, God to seek guidance for dealing with the situation. Be a person of words and action. Here is a quote and a scripture to look up (or just click on the link):

"It is no use walking anywhere to preach unless our walking is our preaching."

-St. Francis of Assisi

Joshua 24:14-15

Monday, February 11, 2008

I think I remember...

It's one of those vague memories that you're not sure if you really remember it, or if it's been created by hearing the stories families tell again and again. But, I think I remember a time when life was of the things that I enjoyed was going outside with the whole family. I'm the youngest, so I was the last to learn to ride a bike. So, when my family enjoyed an afternoon/evening bike ride, I would ride in a little orange seat that was attached to the back of my father's bike.
But, you need to understand that this was before the time of the sleek looking strollers and pull behind carriages that today's toddlers enjoy- things for me weren't so luxurious. My seat was directly behind my father. I was short, wearing a helmet and sitting in a seat that was designed to keep me from falling out...if you don't know where I'm heading with this, I'll spell it out- vision was limited. Now, don't get me wrong, I loved bike rides...the thrill of the outdoors, the wind through my hair- or at least the slits in the helmet I was wearing....the fascination of watching the pavement pass quickly underneath me...all this without having to pedal the bike. It was great!
Now that I think about it, I'm not so sure I would appreciate it as much. Why wouldn't I like a free ride? Here's a few reasons-
  1. Because I couldn't see what was ahead...looking forward gave me the familiar site of my father's never changed that much.
  2. I was not in control of where we went- I have real issues with this. I like having control of the TV, of the computer, of the car I'm in...and if I knew how to fly a plane, I'd want to control that too!
  3. I wasn't in control of how fast we went- my sister is only a few years older than me, so I can imagine that I bugged my dad to "go faster!" But we couldn't leave everyone else behind.
So, why was I ok with it then?
  1. I think as children we're much more likely to trust people. Which is why you have to educate children on things like not talking to strangers, or getting in the car with someone they don't know. Children are usually optimists- they don't think the world is out to get them...yet.
  2. I knew my father loved me and was aware of my presence- I do recall him turning his head and asking, "Are you ok back there, buddy?" and even reaching back to squeeze my foot as a way of saying, "I know you're there. I'll keep you safe."
  3. I hadn't experienced what it was like to be in control- as far as I was concerned, this was as good as it could ever get...and I don't remember desiring to pedal and steer until later in my young life.
So, what's all this got to do with life today? What's it got to do with God?
God is omniscient (he knows everything), my father could see everything...or at least what was ahead, beside, and if he turned his head, he could see where we had been. From my point of view, I could only see where we were currently. The things that were directly underneath the bike...and it passed quickly. I my perception, at least visually, was extremely limited by my current condition. And, I was fine with it. Now, if you were to put me in the same situation, I'd be irritated and wanting to know where we were, where we were going and know where we had been.
Often times we experience the same relationship with God. The early stages of our faith walk is new and exciting. We know Jesus loves us and that God will take care of us. But then we gain knowledge and start thinking that we know what's best, because we have a plan for ourselves. That's when the trouble starts- we get angry with God when we can't see how what we're doing right now is going to work into our plan. We can't understand why we can't go where we want. I could go on, but you get the point. So what do I do when I feel like this? Find peace of mind in this:

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you." Jeremiah 29:11-12 (NIV)

Friday, February 8, 2008

Leading off

After a long hiatus of personal blogging, I'll pick up where I left off- sharing bits of my life as well as devotions as I have realizations and observations from my experiences on this road we call life. I will do my best to post once a week- usually on mondays (I hope). So check on occasion to see what's new.