Monday, May 25, 2009

Living In a Sound Bite World

Looks like North Korea has continued with their plan for unilateral insanity and it smells like Iran is not far behind. People are still dying in Iraq and Afghanistan. The economy is on the wagon for a while but who knows when it will take off on another bender. Swine flu is still spreading but we all got side tracked by the American Idol winner. And another kid committed suicide allegedly because he was being bullied. Gas prices are up slightly and Jay Leno will soon be prime time.

I say all that because it seems like we’re on course to compress more and more gravity into more and more sound bites (or video bites) with less and less impact to really change us from within. I mean really, if the media can flood us with enough rapid fire info streaming at 10mbps plus, is it even possible to soak in the depth of meaning behind any of it? When you compress gravity so much, doesn't it turn into a black-hole?

For that matter, even as I type these words my son and a friend are in the family room playing xbox360 at thumb-eye-and-brain speeds that even Evelyn Wood could have never imagined possible. But are they better off for it?

With attention spans shrinking year after year and the gravity of global events getting greater and greater, will the next generation even have time to ponder things like the long term effects of battery powered cars or nuclear weapons small enough to make it into the class room some day?

If all we are is a culture that is texting and sound biting, is there any hope for real relationships and contemplation over the bigger things in life? I wonder?

The days of people getting one or two bits of information regarding a topic and then allowing that info to percolate and assimilate into minds that were taught to think and process with wisdom and foresight may all but be over.

The Value of Stopping

My final thought for the moment, before I fire up the grill is this. Since many parents have ceased using the word “no” or “stop” when they communicate with their little ones, and anything goes and very often does. My concern is a generation that has no understanding of the value of stopping. Go, go, go seems to be the mantra for all too many families today.

Will there be anyone left who simply stops and takes time to listen, to smell, to observe, to wait, to be quiet, to think, to rest? I could go on but I won’t.

Let me close with this. Stop. Rest. Think. Listen. And by all means try not to live on sound bites and Red Bull. Remember man does not live on bread alone, but on EVERY WORD that is vital to life. Not just the blur of ones and zeros that fly through the air as we carelessly go about life. Remember that every word matters. Every event matters. Every person matters. Every second matters.

Saturday, May 16, 2009


Have you ever looked at old family photos or pictures of yourself from way back when? I know that when I do that I look at myself and wonder who is that person?

Maybe I’m kind of weird like that, but old pictures of me make me ask that question? We all tend to look back into our lives and use the power of hindsight. Yet hindsight can never explain the sense of mistaken identity we lived with at the time the photo was taken or the event occurred.

At any given point in our lives we think we know ourselves and we hope others know us accurately, but in all reality, time and hindsight are the only true identifiers of who we are.

Time allows for growth and change and ultimately lessons learned by mistakes or deliberate steps toward transformation. Hindsight gives us the choice of learning from our previous wanderings or winnings, so as to hopefully make us wiser in all our decisions.

Many years ago a local pastor made a judgment call about me. He based his opinions on my outward appearance and some rumors that he heard and believed to be true about me. The unfortunate fact was he did not know me. He didn’t have a clue about what made me tick or who I really was from the inside out. All he did was develop a bias and bigotry based upon externals.

It was a case of mistaken identity. I wonder how often I do the same thing. I wonder how often we drive people away from Life and Hope that only God can give, simply because we choose to identify them based upon what we see and hear.

Who among us, with the exception of a few prophets, can know the insides of someone? What motivates them? What causes them to have apathy? Why do they think and feel the way they do?

All too often it’s easier to judge someone wrongly, instead of loving them rightly. Loving them rightly means we get close enough to smell what their life has been rolled in. Most people get rolled in some pretty bad stuff and they usually don’t ask for it.

So the next time you make a mistake about someone’s identity, based upon your perception, ideology, dogma, religion, fear or the pain of your own life, remember people did the same with Jesus.

Following a wonderful and stimulating lunch with an old friend, my wife and I found ourselves savoring a fresh cup at Zanzibar’s Coffee Adventure. I love places where business executives are there hashing out some new marketing plan, med students are cramming for there next exam, neo-hippies are lovingly hanging on each other and painters are welcome.

I thought about my visit to this coffee shop and some of the bars I used to frequent. The beauty of places like that is because everyone seems welcomed and no one is an outsider for very long. Regardless of their identity common ground is found. We all just wanted to be where someone else is and to have something refreshing to drink. That’s a pretty simple church growth formula.

May God help me to foster a community where common ground becomes uncommon experience? And may God help me to never again mistake someone’s identity simply because of how they look, act or what I’ve heard about them. May I earn the right to know them by spending time with them, before I make that judgment call, before it becomes a case of Mistaken Identity?

Let’s have coffee and get acquainted.