As some of you may already know, I’m not a big fan of Valentine’s Day. If you think that makes me unromantic, well…I don’t really care. I won’t give you my arguments against the holiday, as I think I’ve made my case against it here and here.
But I will reiterate my contention that Valentine’s Day is not so much about love, but about expressing love. Not a bad thing, of course. We all need to be loved. My problem with the holiday is with all those who feel so completely unloved by their exclusion in the festivities. I’m not suggesting a boycott of the holiday, I just don’t personally celebrate it.
For all of you who face this week with trepidation–worried that you won’t give or receive enough to feel loved, I’m going to break my self-imposed ban of Valentine’s Day to send out a very special message of love. It’s one I’ve posted here before, but one I need to be reminded of often.
Maybe you do, too.
Brennan Manning said:
The Lord Jesus is going to ask each of us one question and only one question:
Do you believe that I loved you? That I desired you? That I waited for you day after day? That I longed to hear the sound of your voice?
The real believers there will answer, “Yes, Jesus. I believed in your love and I tried to shape my life as a response to it. But many of us who are so faithful in our ministry, in our practice, in our church going are going to have to reply, “Well frankly, no sir. I mean, I never really believed it. I mean, I heard alot of wonderful sermons and teachings about it. In fact I gave quite a few myself. But I always knew that that was just a way of speaking; a kindly lie, some Christian’s pious pat on the back to cheer me on. And there’s the difference between the real believers and the nominal Christians that are found in our churches across the land. No one can measure like a believer the depth and the intensity of God’s love. But at the same time, no one can measure like a believer the effectiveness of our gloom, pessimism, low self-esteem, self-hatred and despair that block God’s way to us. Do you see why it is so important to lay hold of this basic truth of our faith? Because you’re only going to be as big as your own concept of God.
Do you remember the famous line of the French philosopher, Blaise Pascal? “God made man in his own image, and man returned the compliment”? We often make God in our own image, and He winds up to be as fussy, rude, narrow minded, legalistic, judgemental, unforgiving, unloving as we are.
In the past couple of three years I have preached the gospel to the financial community in Wallstreet, New York City, the airmen and women of the air force academy in Colorado Springs, a thousand positions in Nairobi. I’ve been in churches in Bangor, Maine, Miami, Chicago, St. Louis, Seattle, San Diego. And honest, the god of so many Christians I meet is a god who is too small for me. Because he is not the God of the Word, he is not the God revealed by it in Jesus Christ who this moment comes right to your seat and says,
“I have a word for you. I know your whole life story. I know every skeleton in your closet. I know every moment of sin, shame, dishonesty and degraded love that has darkened your past. Right now I know your shallow faith, your feeble prayer life, your inconsistent discipleship. And my word is this: I dare you to trust that I love you just as you are, and not as you should be. Because you’re never going to be as you should be.”
Do you believe that He loves you?
Is it just me, or does the new year not feel very new? Maybe it’s because after an excruciatingly long campaign season, we have the same president, the same congress and the same Washington bickering and gridlock. I grew so weary of the same old same old that I took time off from watching the news. Sadly, when I lifted my self-imposed boycott, nothing had changed. Not even the commercials.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t begrudge companies and their ad agencies for trying to make a buck in these tough economic times. I don’t even mind people like Fred Thompson, Henry Winkler or Robert Wagner pimping reverse mortgages, whatever those are. But there are some commercials that I feel have run their course. It’s time for some fresh ideas. It’s time to move forward.
So as a public service, I submit to advertisers, in the interest of the public welfare, my top ten list of commercial celebrities that need to find a new gig.
10. Joe Theismann for Super-Beta Prostate
I grew up in a household of die-hard Washington Redskin fans. Mention the name Joe Theismann and what comes to mind?
His famous passing stance?
Maybe the infamous sack by Lawerence Taylor that ended his career?
That used to be the case. Now, when I form a mental picture of the legendary quarterback, it’s of him waking up in the middle of the night to pee. Thanks, Super-Beta Prostate!
And speaking of men made famous by the game of football…
9. Jimmy Johnson for ExtenZe
How much money is enough? Can you amass enough by coaching two high profile college teams? What about if you coach for two high profile professional teams? One would assume having a weekly gig as a commentator for Fox Sports would keep you living high on the hog, but apparently not. Why else would Jimmy Johnson agree to be the pitchman for ExtenZe natural male enhancement?
Yikes. Double yikes.
8. Jimmy Fallon for Capital One
You know…we get it. The baby is cute. She just doesn’t want to receive 50% more cash, no matter how many times you rehash that tired old premise. Of course, Fallon may have made the list for the simple reason that I just don’t think he’s funny. Am I missing something?
7. Sarah McLachlan for the ASPCA
I don’t dislike Sarah McLachlan. I’m actually a big fan of her music. I’m also not against preventing cruelty to animals. What I am against are PSAs created to guilt people into supporting a non-profit organization which was given an “F” grade for money mismanagement by Charity Watch. I’m also not a proponent of giving money to an organization which, in 2012, a CNN investigation found had raised almost $27 million but spent nearly all of that money on fundraising expenses paid to a direct mail company. Of the $14 million that SPCA raised in 2010, the organization spent only $60,000 in cash grants to animal shelters across the United States. How cruel is that?
6. That annoying local guy who makes his own furniture commercials
This isn’t just a Houston phenomenon is it? Oh, and extra points if you manage to get your kids in the commercial to pimp your cheap furniture.
5. Mesothelioma Families Spokesman Doug
Finish this sentence: “Hi, my name is Doug…” In case you’re one of the 5 people in the United States who haven’t seen this commercial, the rest of that sentence is, “and I have mesothelioma.” By all accounts, Doug Karr is a fine man. A veteran who served his country with honor. I don’t begrudge him any compensation he has received due to exposure to asbestos. But mesothelioma is an extremely rare form of cancer. What’s with the deluge of commercials urging potential victims to come forward? The answer: A big, fat pile of government money–thirty Billon with a “B” dollars– set aside to compensate those exposed to it, and a bunch of lawyers chomping at the bit to get their cut.
4. William Devane for Rosland Capital
Thus far, William Devane has invited us to invest in gold while fly fishing, sky diving, riding horses, driving around in a yacht and other activities rich, old white guys participate in. We get it, Bill–you’re rich. We’re all happy for you.
3. The Charmain Bears
Yes, I know they’re cartoon bears, but still. Who’s your target audience here? Is there anyone who thinks big, furry cartoon bear butts with toilet paper dingleberries hanging off of them is cute? Bears, keep your s**t in the woods where it belongs.
2. The Geico Gecko
This guy was only moderately cute and amusing about a million commercials ago, and I have to wonder how a company can save me money on car insurance when I consider what they must spend constantly bombarding the airwaves with commercials. The gecko is just one in a long line of characters: the caveman, the pig, the googly-eyed stack of money, the Joe Friday guy, and the rage-aholic therapist (Loved that guy, but they fired him.) Apparently in advertising, less is not more. More and more is more.
1. The Burger King King
This guy is, in a word,
Please make it stop.
So what say you? What other celebrity endorsers need to find a new gig?
I wasn’t planning on posting anything today. The first week of school has been filled with piles of paperwork, schedule changes, football games and band events. I’ve just been trying to keep my non-virtual life in order. But my friend Michael Perkins needs our help. Please click over to his blog, and if you can help in any way, please do so.
You will find him here: The Handwritten
I’m sitting in my office checking my email at my computer. My 14 year old son walks through the back door and into my office holding a birdhouse.
Son: Happy Mother’s Day! I made this for you in Tech Class.
Me: Thank you! You did a great job. What’s this inside?
Son: It’s a card. I made that, too.
Me: That’s great. Mother’s Day is Sunday. Were you going to paint the birdhouse for me?
Son: No. Why would I do that?
Me: Yeah. What was I thinking? Well, thanks!
It’s that kind of unabashed honesty that makes the poem he wrote for me inside the card all the more special, because I know he meant every word. I won’t be sharing that gift, though. Some things are meant to be shared by only the giver and the recipient.
But I will share the birdhouse:
Hope you all have a wonderful weekend. Especially all you mothers out there.
I came across a passage in a book I read a couple of years ago that beautifully reflected the heart of an artist who has chosen to follow Christ. “The God Who Smokes: Scandalous Meditations of Faith”(1) by Timothy Stoner (yes, that’s his real name) has served as a much needed reminder that the God of Mercy is also the God of Wrath. May I never forget that!
Anyway, just a bit of encouragement for my fellow artists:
The artist who follows Jesus explicitly resides in the world and participates in culture in a truly unique way. She helps others pay attention to, take notice of, and celebrate the goodness of the good creation. She does not shy away from the dark and the broken, the sorrow and terror–but crafts it in such a way as to point toward hope. It is revealing a pathway out of despair and chaotic meaningless. Her work is a candle that flickers and flares.
Her art is for the good of the world.
She does it for the blessing of the world.
She is intent not on reinforcing the curse but breaking it. She has and is a gift. She is sent, like Jesus, to open the eyes of the blind, open the ears of the deaf, or give words to the mute. She is sent on a mission of freedom. Her mission mirrors that of her Savior. She is sent to break chains of despair, set at liberty those tied up with cords of emptiness, futility, and death, and bring sight to those who have lost the capacity to see. She is sent to give us the forgotten vision of the glory that peeks out behind the bush and branch and sea and life as it was meant to be. She sings and shrieks and falls to rise again, to give voice to what we’ve forgotten or refuse to hear.
She pours out her blood that a world may be saved.
She serves not always willingly or well but in her best moments, when she has forgotten herself, she serves.
Still, her loyalty is not here. She has had her idolatrous attachment broken. She is free to be in but not of . She is not slavishly loyal to the patterns, the values, the demands, and commands of a world in love with itself. Her eyes look up even as she looks out, and in looking around she sees through. She is not bewitched by appearances nor overly and permanently distraught. She has seen a city whose builder and maker is God, and she pines for the day when it will come here so there will be light forever.
And the light will be the love and the joy of her life.
She has this secret. Her heart has been captured by a lover who is out of this world. But He is coming back. She wants to make herself ready and her friends and ever her enemies , too. So she does her work as best she can and prays that it is good, that it will shine so brightly as to bring glory not to her but to Him.
(1) Stoner, Timothy.
The God who smokes: scandalous meditations of faith
published by Navpress, 2008
A mix of pride and sadness came over me yesterday as I watched the Space Shuttle being piggybacked on a 747 to its final home at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C.
There is no strife, no prejudice, no national conflict in outer space as yet. Its hazards are hostile to us all. Its conquest deserves the best of all mankind, and its opportunity for peaceful cooperation many never come again. But why, some say, the moon? Why choose this as our goal? And they may well ask why climb the highest mountain? Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic? Why does Rice play Texas?
We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.
President John F. Kennedy, September 12, 1962, at Rice University, Houston, Texas
As we say goodbye to an era, I hope and pray that we as a nation do not abandon the desire to do great things because there are great things yet to do, and to once again boldly go where no man has gone before.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
I’ve been cooking and getting ready for my extended dysfunctional family to arrive, so rather than write a new post, I thought I would share my daughter’s turkey project from a couple of years ago…
Please Do Not Eat Me
As a parent, I secretly delight when I see my children take interest in or excel at something that I’m into. Just as I cringe when I see a less desirable trait that I share, like forgetting where they put anything, rear its ugly head. But in all honesty, as long my kids are true to who they are, I’m good with that.