Manic Monday: Coffee Woes…

Switching between coffee blends can be a traumatic experience. Recently Kelly and I enjoyed Starbucks 40th Anniversary blend. Great stuff! This week we had to switch to a normal non Starbucks blend we drink. It tastes weaker and not as robust as the previous blend. It lacked the spice, kick and sheer joy of the previous blend. Sigh.

In coffee there are extraordinarily blends, horrid blends and normal blends. Each should be enjoyed for what they are. Yes, I said and mean we should enjoy our horrid blends.

The horrid let’s you know that you still have taste. It tests your character and values. Are you focused on what’s most important? Horrid blends let you better appreciate the better, but also help you cling to what is most important.

The extraordinary blends let you still be surprised and delighted by coffee. We often view average as evil, but I think that is a poor view of average. You cannot reproduce the extraordinary or it wouldn’t be what it is. But, to enjoy the extraordinary takes practice, discernment and readiness for when it happens. It takes being a student of coffee. Are you well trained in the art of coffee so you can be ready and fully able to enjoy the extraordinary?

The bulk of life is the ordinary. Average normal ordinary blends move life. Meeting expectations is a good thing. You know what you are getting. What you are getting is a let down compared to the extraordinary. However, in the ordinary is contentment and enjoying the gift of coffee that God gave us. Ordinary is about enjoying the little things in life. It’s about enjoying coffee as coffee.

Here is to my ordinary blend! Enjoy your coffee!

(especially on Monday)

Manic Monday: My Social Media rules of thumbs

How do I engage in social media? My rule of thumb is be discerning and intentional. Everyone engages differently, and that is a cool aspect of it. Here are some to the conventions I follow:

Social media is public no matter how closely I guard privacy settings. Facebook is most personal, twitter is in-between leaning towards my vocation, this blog is vocational.

I re-whatever based primarily on ministry interests or for things to consider. A re-whatever does not mean I agree or disagree with something. Discernment should always be exercised.

I do not re-whatever on hallmark comments (emotional and often well stated comments). This doesn’t mean I disagree with them, but I’m content with being a part of the 97% that don’t. One exception- I do on occasion re-whatever comments that make fun of hallmark comment’s thirst for re-whatever-ing the comment.

I’m more inclined to re-whatever things that do not contain the nefarious 3% guilt trip. Justsayin.

I talk tons about my kids because of their grandparents. Grandparents and family are part of my audience. And, let’s face it, as much as they love my wife and I, they want to hear about the grand kids, and that’s totally ok.

I am very cautious about negative comments. I do post them on occasion as it’s part of being real. Life isn’t Disneyland. Even these I try to put in a humorous tone. Praise in public, criticize in private is a great rule of thumb to follow.

I prefer to be a-political. While one may guess or otherwise already know my political leanings, the Gospel is most important to me. I chose to not have politics as part of my public discourse.

I think social media is give and take, Contribute and engage with others. I like that. I do not think it replaces human interaction, but it does help in one key aspect: it allows human interaction to focus on what can only happen in person, making the sharing of coffee that much better.

The bottom line is to be discerning in how you engage in whatever you engage in.

(especially on Monday)

Manic Monday: Appreciate the little things…

Monday is a huge day in my household. It’s garbage truck day… Seriously.

I smile at people’s reaction to what has become bigger than football at our house. (Of note pretty much anything that makes your kids smile makes you smile- other than fine china being dropped and shattering in slow motion.) The oft-repeated phrase “you need a life.” is stated. Ok, here’s the lesson…

Kids appreciate the little things in life. What we take for granted, they see as wonders of science. The garbage truck has what every boy loves: horsepower, noise, banging sounds and it’s big. (The garbage truck is also a significant support actor in the movie Toy Story 3,)

Imagine a world without garbage trucks, plumbing, electricity or Toy Story 3, and you’ll gain an appreciation for what we consider a little thing in life.

(especially on Monday)

Manic Monday: Love, exciting and true…

Translation 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Love is patient, love is kind, love is not jealous, not bragging, not being conceited, not behaving improperly, not seeking its own, not being provoked, not calculating evil, not rejoicing in unrighteousness, but rejoicing the truth: [love] puts up with all, believes all, hopes all, bears all.

Thoughts on the passage
Paul describes the actions that love involves. Interestingly, these actions are of an emotional and attitude verbiage. Of the fifteen verbal descriptions of love, seven are stated positively, eight are described in a negative format: this is what love does, this is what love does not. More than giving a definition, Paul gives a picture of what the “fruit” of love looks like.

Each of the verbs Paul uses to describe love carries the idea of something that is ongoing, and not complete. Viewing love as a process denotes work and consistent focus. The words are fairly self-explanatory. The interesting thing is they are profoundly lacking in the Corinthian church. If “the list” is absent from one’s church or life, then love is also lacking. The verbal actions of love boil down the very definition of love: to prize, to hold as precious. If love were truly ingrained in the church, then 1 Corinthians would have been a very different book. If I prize people, if I hold God’s people as precious, it will actively demonstrated in how I interact with them. Paul defines love via its actions.

The bottom line:
Show some love

(especially on Monday)

Manic Monday: A return to story

Story is everything. It captures. It captivates. Throughout history, story carries knowledge and teaching above any other medium. Story and narrative carries what a bullet point, an outline or a technical guide cannot.

In a view documentaries about Pixar one key point stands out: Story is everything. Pixar’s successes clearly shows this.

For Christians we struggle with the concept of story. This is interesting since the primary genre in the Bible is narrative. Even the New Testament letters are a pieces of a greater story. I think the issue is being overtly Christian.

There seems to be an unwritten law that to be a Christian story-teller one needs to have a conversion or a distinct struggle and return to God. This comes from two things: 1) We have a distinct message we must carry out. 2) We are very passionate about that message from our own encounter with it.

Mission, or the carrying of our most important message, has both an overt and a covert aspect. Overtly it is the clear presentation and proclamation of what we believe. Covertly it is being in the world and not of it. We fear that being “covert” violates proclaiming our most essential message or being off mission. It is not. The idea seems more spy like- its most frequent usage- instead of the other aspect of covert- not openly displaying something.

We need more covert stories. Story for story’s sake, or art for the sake of art. Here is the concept of being in the world but not of it:

The best person to reach teenagers is a teenager.
The best person to reach a musician is a musician.
The best person to reach lawyers is a lawyer.
The best person to reach a writer?

Being covert- doing life with people- allows builds credibility to share what is most important. It’s allowing people to see our story, our faults and successes, and in God’s timing the core of our story.

The best part of story is if forces us to look at, examine and engage life. More than the highs and lows of life, story deals with dreams, the little things and all that makes life a gift from God. For inspiration for story beyond overt struggle with or conversion  to God one only needs to look at Proverbs. Proverbs deals with the “other” issues of life.

There is a place for overt communication of the Gospel. Even with that urgency there is a place to write about the other aspects of this gift of life God gave us.

What’s your story? We need more story tellers.

(especially on Monday)

Manic Monday: Death by adjectival hyperbole

Whispers are heard loudest in a world of shouting. In reflecting on how we speak, I noticed, for whatever reason, our over use of adjectives and hyperbole. In a world of increasing virtual experience, reality needs to get back in vogue. A good number of us, me included are guilty of death by adjectival hyperbole.

Let it be what it is
The best descriptions are honest and clear ones. Describe something for what it is. Conferences often use death by adjectival hyperbole. The nature of selling things is to describe it well. In such, we do things by ascribing radiant, epic, great and awesome adjectives on what may be just normal. There are times when grand adjectives are proper, and hyperbole prudent. All the time or nearly every time is not such a time. Describe things as they are.

Let history be the judge
Death by adjectival hyperbole is a vain attempt to preëmpt history. At a men’s conference I attended the MC stated: “We’re about to continue with some great and wonderful music…” It wasn’t. A few years later I attended a back woods church hymn sing. The musical quality of the group was lacking. However, it was the most profound worship experience I had. People who had little to nothing, no musical talent gathered to worship their most precious relationship, God. History judges by the substance of things.

Lets be who we are
Let your greatest adjective be you. In history, seldom is greatness manufactured or sought. Gettysburg was epic and a mistake. The Boeing 747 was a result of past failure and basically a hail Mary for the company. The Battle of Bastogne was epic, where men did their job despite being overwhelmed and under supplied. Flight 93 was epic. Grandiose adjectives are best used for grandiose events. The substance and character of a person is found, forged and displayed in adversity. An unknown person or event often influences people to do what is epic. Focus on developing who you are and being a blessing to those around you. This is how great epics form.

Musical interlude, an analogy
We live in a world of ‘shouting.’ Alan Bloom in “Closing of the American Mind,” discusses his issues with rock music. Historically, great victories and religious celebrations were the place for the style and energy of rock music. In essence he thought younger generations were celebrating when there is no victory or substance to celebrate. He was not arguing against rock music, rather demonstrating what he viewed as its proper place. Like Ecclesiastes states, there is a time and place for everything.

The bottom line:
Whispers are heard loudest in a world of shouting. When everyone shouts the virtue of shouting is ignored. Our culture is increasingly asking and trying to discern what is real. The buzz words of genuine or authenticity show this point as well. Shouting is a metaphor for death by adjectival hyperbole. We can be colorful and enticing while still being accurate.

Perhaps now more than any other there is a need for more precise speech. Given our capacity for creativity, we can be precise without being droll, boring or bland. In working on developing who we are perhaps God, in his timing, will allow us to form something Epic.

(especially on Monday)