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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Oh, Christina!

Now that we have had a few days to recover from the Super Bowl, I'd like to reflect a little on the drama ... or maybe the pageantry ... or maybe the food ... or maybe the commercials ... no, the National Anthem. Oh, Christina!

Now, I am not jumping on the Christina Aguilera-bashing bandwagon. Stay with me for a few lines. First, I'd like to compliment her on her very modest and respectful attire. I thought she looked pretty classy. Second, while I am not a fan, she does have a really nice voice. Third, on that worldwide stage, anybody could lose a line or a verse of the most familiar song. It happens.

I am not even going to bash her for her personlizing of the arrangement eventhough that is the topic of my reflection. I am admittedly a purist when it comes to the anthem. I am not a big fan of vocal gymnastics that put the attention on the singer rather than the nation. But it was certainly not the worst I have ever heard.

The question I want to ask is what you and I can learn from Christina. Yes, you read that right. What can she teach us? Here's the lesson ... are you ready ... complicated and flashy are not always better. Sometimes less is more. Sometimes simple, focused, and pure allow us to really get our message across.

It's true in our personal lives. Think of the people whose lives you really want to impact. Do you think they are more impacted by how cool you are or by how genuine you are? Are they more impacted by your talent or by your integrity? If you are deficient in integrity, should you work harder on hiding it or on changing it?

It's also true in businesses and churches. Flashy, complicated, and even efficient may be attractive for the short term. But simple, pure, focused, and effective are qualities that endure. People may be drawn through the door by flashy. They become customers and members because they find something that really matters to their lives.

Now before you start accusing me of saying church is just like business, let me disavow that. I am not saying they are the same. I am saying that people are the same. People are not looking for ways to complicate their lives. They are looking for businesses that make their lives easier. They are looking (whether they consciously understand it or not) for churches that make their lives make matter.

It reminds me a little bit of a question that was brought to Jesus once by people who had really complicated the whole religion thing. "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" Jesus replied: "'Love the Lord you God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." (Matthew 22:36-40, NIV).

Now, how complicated is that? Love God and love people. And the action still works even if you forget some of the words.

Don't forget ... your life matters.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


I am writing this on a gray, snowy day. Baby, it's cold outside! Temperature is 18 degrees with wind chill of -1. Glad I can sit and look out the window and not try to go anywhere. I am trying to use today for some focus time. Do you ever feel like a juggler that is just trying to keep too many balls in the air (or too many plates spinning ... pick your metaphor)? And to take it a step further, do you ever feel like your juggling is on display for a crowd who is judging your performance? If you can't relate, you can probably stop reading now. Have a great day!

If you CAN relate, stick with me for a few more lines ...

I was recently working with a coach who helped me focus on why I want to write and attempt to be creative (notice "attempt"). After all, I have plenty of things to do. Plenty of tasks to complete ... phone calls to make ... meetings to attend and/or facilitate ... questions to answer ... you get the picture. You probably get the picture because it looks a lot like your life.

So why am I frustrated by not having time for creativity and writing? Do I have a need to be noticed and acknowledged? Am I just one of those artsy persons that needs to have an audience to be fulfilled? Maybe there is a morsel of truth there. But that is not the main reason. The main reason is that I believe God has gifted me to communicate truth in a way that is simple and practical and can bless and encourage those who read or hear. I know that He has given me a passion to be a blessing and encouragement. In fact, I have determined that my life's mission is to bless, not to impress.

So, that means that sometimes I am in the spotlight, but more often I am in the shadows. The question for me is to find out who is casting the shadow that makes it a little darker where I am. The late Dottie Rambo wrote a song that I sang about 30 years ago. A line from the song said that I am "happy to stand in the shadow and give Him the praise."

I read this morning in Psalm 91, "The one who lives under the protection of the Most High dwells in the shadow of the Almighty." That is a good shadow to be in. So, my prayer for today is that I would be overshadowed by the Almighty. So, how do I reconcile that with the idea of "letting my light shine"? I'll talk about that next time. Will you join me?

Don't forget that your life matters to God.