I know I need to listen to this one over and over. Enjoy, and let it give you a heart tune up heading into this weekend. Mandisa's "The Truth About Me."
Friday, September 30, 2011
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Recently, I saw Brad Pitt’s new movie, Moneyball, based on the true story about the Oakland A’s baseball team rebuilding to compete in the Major Leagues at a fraction of the budget of other powerhouse clubs. (For my review CLICK HERE).
This post, however, is about an important POV I garnered from the movie, something I think the game itself teaches.
Here’s the gist. A loss does not automatically equal failure.
See, in the movie, Pitt’s character, General Manager of the A’s Billy Beane, took a team of has-beens and hurt players, paid them the minimum because that’s all he had, and ended up with a winning season. They even set a League record of most consecutive wins (20) in a season. At the end, though, Beane laments over their loss in the post-season that ends their bid for the World Series. He felt that if they didn’t win the big game, the rest of the season was a failure.
He discovers, however, through the help of a colleague and his 12-year-old daughter that what he and the A’s had accomplished that season was phenomenal, record-breaking, and impressive. He’d ‘won’ in a manner of speaking. He just couldn’t see for the forest for the trees, or the trees for the forest. Either way.
How many times did Babe Ruth strike out during his career? In reality, he struck out twice as often as his contemporaries, 1330 times in regular season play. Yet, he’s known as one of the best, if not the best, player of all time.
It’s because baseball is about milestones – stats and records and reaching bars set by those who came before. Sure, they tally losses and errors, but a successful (or winning) career is based on much more than that column in the stat book.
Life is the same. No one can get to the end of it with ‘wins’ in every column. No one bats 1000. No one pitches perfect every game. No one never drops a fly ball.
Perfection is a tough business. In fact, no one can do it. Only one Person in history has, and He was not only human, but God as well.
We should give ourselves a break. What’s more, we should give other people a break.
Yes, Jesus said to be perfect, as He is perfect. Thing is, He didn’t mean for us to do that in our own power. He knew we couldn’t do it apart from Him.
I think I’ll try looking at life a little more like baseball. Of course, the aim is to catch the ball every time, throw a strike every time, win every contest – aka Do My Best. But when I don’t, I’m going to keep on swinging - concentrate on milestones, on my step by step journey as I move forward. I’m going to live free of condemnation because Christ has paid everything for me to have the privilege. In fact, His name in the ‘win’ column is all that’s needed.
Hope you’re having a great week, Dry Ground friends! Be blessed! Remember, to quote a movie fave: Don’t let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game! (Cinderella Story, 2004)
Monday, September 26, 2011
You’ve heard of the Man Who Knew Too Much, but have you heard of The Man Who Knew Too Little? Well, that’s Bill Murray in a movie of the same name from 1997. And it’s hilarious.
Bill plays Wallace Ritchie, an average Joe from Des Moines, IA who flies to London, England on his birthday in order to surprise his brother, an up-and-coming finance banker, living there. Problem is, brother James, played by Peter Gallagher, has important investors coming over for dinner and having Wally around just wouldn’t be a wise idea, as we soon find out why. So, figuring out a way to get Wally out of the house for a few hours, James signs his brother up for the Theatre of Life, a reality television program that plunges the ‘contestant’ into a dramatic situation that expects them to ad lib through a virtual adventure. It starts with a phone call. Instructions are given to get the ball rolling, then the rest is a glorified evening of Improv.
James takes Wallace to the prescribed public phone booth and waits with him to get the phone call. But a group of spies and assassins happen to be using the same phone booth, and their call comes in first. James and Wallace believe that’s the Theatre of Life call they’ve been waiting for. So Wally dives into a world of murder and mayhem, all the while believing everything is an act. His unintentional ignorance creates laugh after laugh.
With the help of Alfred Molina, Joanne Whalley, and other satellite characters, Bill Murray follies his way to saving the world without even realizing it.
I like this movie mostly because I laugh every time I watch it. But it also gets me thinking. Wally’s able to accomplish what he does because all his actions are free of fear due to the fact that he believes it is all make-believe. Short of ignoring the realness of real life (we shouldn’t be ostriches with our heads in the sand), how different would life be if we lived it without fear? Throughout Scripture, God is encouraging us, imploring us, not to fear. Maybe that’s because He knows how potential blossoms when freed of fear.
So in a way, Wally’s an inspiration. He’s also a great source of entertainment.
Check out The Man Who Knew Too Little! And Happy Movie Watching, Dry Ground friends.
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
No one wishes for a trip to the emergency room.
From traumatic accidents to blind-siding illnesses, there’s never a pleasant reason to visit the ER.
Of course, the good thing is when the doctors and nurses are able to help, and life is saved or remedied enough to regain a measure of comfort.
Let’s face it, we’re better off that emergency rooms exist even though we never want to have to go to one.
When was the last time you went to the ER? I bet the whole time you were there, you were thinking to yourself, Man, this is SUCH a blessing!!
Am I right?
It’s difficult for us to perceive suffering as a good thing let alone something to be thankful for. Any benefit we garnish from suffering usually comes to light after the fact, not in the middle of puking out your stomach lining or holding your split chin closed or trying to keep from looking at the bone sticking out of your elbow. I’m pretty sure that time I had the stomach flu, I was not praising Lord Jesus for the monster mash twisting my guts like a Tasmanian devil.
Perhaps my relative, however, after this past weekend, will see trips to the ER differently from now on. And because of him, we can too.
See, he lives in Reno, NV. And last week, he had to take a trip to the emergency room. I’m not even sure why. But it was bad enough to keep him at home and in bed all the next day. That was a bummer, though, because he had been given free, expensive, choice, grandstand seats to a local event and he was looking forward to attending. But because of his emergency illness, the whole family stayed home.
You know what that local event was?
The air show that you heard about on the news, the one during which a plane crashed into the grandstand, killing and injuring dozens.
Yea, the same grandstand my relative would have been sitting in were it not for the emergency room visit he’d suffered through the night before.
Now, from my perspective, naturally since we’re talking about my loved one, I see this as the hand of God protecting him and his family. Of course, I grieve for those who did lose their lives. I don’t know about the hand of God in their situation. Since He knows every day we live before we’re even born, it could be that Saturday was those people’s appointed time to die. Doesn’t help the family members mourning them now.
But it wasn’t my relative’s time, and God used suffering as a way of making sure of it.
We all experience suffering and disappointment in life. Some day-to-day irksome things and other huge, life-changing things. But if we’re still breathing, then it is all for a reason, His reason, His perfect plan. Often times, we find this out way down the road, and can be thankful circumstances played out as they did even though they hurt. Other times, we have absolutely no idea why we endured such a painful experience. And rarely do we ever thank God in the midst of the suffering.
But I think this example in the life of my relative proves that we can and we should praise the Lord Jesus in all things, maybe even especially in the sufferings. You never know what He’s protecting you from that could be much, much worse.
God is sovereign. He’s also good. He’s not causing or allowing pain to be a jerk. He loves us so much, He causes or allows it for a good reason that is always, always for our good. (Rom. 8:28) So we can thank Him. In all things.
Be blessed, Dry Ground friends.
Monday, September 19, 2011
Stanley Kubrick directed such cult classics as A Clockwork Orange, Full Metal Jacket, and 2001:A Space Odyssey, none of which I have seen. I mean, when I was growing up, everybody knew that his movies were just freaky. I’d also always heard of today’s pick, but its notorious title and surreal clips shown on TV specials kept me at bay until I started working my way through the Academy Award Best Picture nomination list.
I’m talking about Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb from 1964.
This political satire filmed in black and white stars funny man Peter Sellers (in three roles), and the much funnier (in this case) George C. Scott. In fact, Mr. Scott is the main reason I watch this one over and over. His performance is off the charts.
But of course, there’s a story. Here’s what happens. A paranoid Brigadier General, played by talented Sterling Hayden, goes off the reservation, locking down the base he’s in charge of and issuing the irreversible code to the bombers over the Pacific to attack the Soviet Union. The defense department scrambles to undo this potential world-ending event.
Peter Sellers plays the president of the United States, a Captain at the locked down fort, and Dr. Strangelove, the sort of former Nazi who created the catastrophic weapon. He’s amusing and delivers many ironic lines that makes me laugh such as, “You can’t fight in here! This is the war room!”
But as I mentioned, George C. Scott, playing General Buck Turgidson, steals the show in my opinion. The whole movie is worth watching just to see his expressions, his comedic timing, his brilliant performance. From his character’s manic obsession with chewing gum to his arched eyebrow, the man who played Patton gives one of the funnies performances I’ve ever seen.
You don’t even have to get or agree with the politics being satirized here to enjoy the film. And from beginning to end, it absolutely can be considered ‘strange’ but that’s part of the point, right?
It’s smart, though, if you feel like thinking it through, and has some dialogue that might make you go “What?” but then the light bulb flickers on.
If you’re willing to step out of the box for the sake of a few, smart laughs, try Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.
Happy Movie Watching, Dry Ground friends!
Friday, September 16, 2011
Even though this isn't my favorite version of this song, it's still encouraging because the words are just awesome. Hope it helps you today! In the Waiting, by Greg Long...
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Well, here we are, safe and sound, and temporarily settled in St. Louis. It’s been a busy and tiring, though uneventful yet enjoyable week.
Now for more waiting. Waiting to find out what job my Daniel will be blessed with. Waiting to find out what city that might be in. Waiting to find out where we will live (as in not my mom’s and Jay’s basement). Waiting to see the new thing the Lord has for us.
I feel like I’ve done a lot of waiting in my 37 ½ years. I’m sure I’m not the only one. And not all of it has been bad. But it’s not my favorite. Sometimes, I even complain.
Recently, however, I’ve been reading the story of Sarah, Abraham’s wife, in Genesis. Wo! Talk about someone who did a lot of waiting in her 127 years! Her example gives me great perspective on my own story of waiting.
Firstly, Sarah’s story is told almost entirely from Abraham’s perspective. We don’t get to find out what she thought about finding herself TWO TIMES in the harem of TWO different kings because Abraham told them she was his sister (which was less than a lie, but not the entire truth). Both of these events seem to be long-term happenings, as one of them indicates that the other women of the harem were struck barren as punishment to the king planning on taking Sarah, a married woman, as his wife, even though he wasn’t doing it intentionally. How long was Sarah there before they knew the other women were barren? Had to be several weeks at least, right? Think about the waiting Sarah had to do then.
Next, for thirteen years, Sarah had to watch her husband bond with a son who was not hers. Sure, it had been her idea in the first place, but only because of intense grief over being barren herself. And, I might point out, Abraham didn’t argue the point with her. Sleep with your maid servant? Heck, why not?
Sarah is most known for waiting for her son, Isaac, to be born, a promise of God even though she was nearly a hundred years old.
In my own wait for a child, I’ve thought about Sarah’s situation in depth.
Even if she knew from young adulthood that she’d have a child, but not until she was 90, that’s a long wait. Excruciating, even. But Sarah didn’t know from young adulthood that she’d ever have a child. All she knew was that she was barren.
Abraham received a promise from God for Isaac when he was in his early 80s, so Sarah would have been in her early 70s. If Abraham shared with her this conversation he had with God, then she didn’t find out about even the possibility of a son until she was seven decades old! What if, however, he didn’t tell her? What if she didn’t know until she overheard the Lord and the two angels talking with Abraham over their picnic lunch? The time when she laughed… and all of us righteously think how could she laugh at such a thing?? Well, if she was already 90 years old and been barren all her difficult, dramatic life, then I’d say laughter was quite natural. Honestly, I would have.
Then, whether she believed it or not, she had one more year to wait. The angels told her this time next year. And we think counting the minutes until TGIF is bad.
More than feeling Sarah and I belong in the same club just to bemoan our waiting circumstances, I take heart in her story because God does promise and God does come through … every time.
When Sarah delivers her son, the Bible describes it like this…
The Lord kept his word and did for Sarah exactly what he had promised. She became pregnant, and she gave birth to a son for Abraham in his old age. This happened at just the time God had said it would. And Abraham named their son Isaac. (Gen. 21:1-3)
What are you waiting for? Has God promised you something that has yet to be fulfilled? I encourage you to HOLD FAST. Do you feel forgotten? HOLD FAST! Do you feel like time is running out? HOLD FAST. Why? Because God is good and He is great. His Word is full of promises meant personally for you. Our job is to rely upon and trust in His perfect timing.
Not so easy. Sarah laughed at Him. But God was faithful, even to Sarah, to do what He said He would do.
I hope that thought gives you peace in your time of waiting.
Happy Wednesday, Dry Ground friends! Be blessed!
Monday, September 12, 2011
Okay, so I’m repeating myself a little again, but I couldn’t pass this one up.
This week’s pick stars, along with Carole Lombard, William Powell, whom I especially like in the Thin Man series. However, My Man Godfrey outshines anything these two have ever done, as well as many of its contemporary films.
Set in America’s Great Depression, Godfrey is a ‘forgotten man’ living in a kind of shantytown at the city dump. One evening, a limo pulls up, and out pops three high society swells, two women and a man, on a scavenger hunt. One of the items on the list, the thing that will fetch the most points, is a ‘forgotten man.’ The two girls are sisters, and the older strolls up to Godfrey with great confidence and offers him five dollars to go with them. Her assuming attitude does not amuse Godfrey and he pushes her into an ash heap. That deeply tickles her sister, Irene (Lombard) who is used to seeing her sister win at everything. She sits down to talk to Godfrey, and her childlike innocence convinces Godfrey to go with her so that she can win the scavenger hunt and beat her sister at something.
One thing leads to another and Godfrey is made the butler of the sisters’ household, which also includes their parents and their mother’s ‘protégée,’ a Russian musician and freeloader. Godfrey soon finds out that this family is quirky to say the least, made eccentric by their ridiculous wealth in a time when most have so little. It’s also soon obvious that Irene is in love with Godfrey, while the older sister is intent on disgracing him all on the account that he pushed her into the ash heap. They all find out, however, that Godfrey is more than he appears.
What ensues is comical and chaotic, but not in a confusing way. Every line has a purpose, each wisecrack building an intelligent and socially pertinent story. The end result is brilliant, entertaining, and so delightful you’ll want to watch it all over again.
Of all the classic films, this has to rank up there in my top ten favorites. It’s a true gem.
I hope you’ll give My Man Godfrey a try!
Happy Movie Watching, Dry Ground friends!
Friday, September 9, 2011
They just don't sing them like this any more. Call me silly, but listening to this song perks me up, makes me smile, reminds me that life, indeed, is grand. I dare you to try it out for yourself!!
Wednesday, September 7, 2011
Well, here we are again – it’s moving day for the Lundquists.
Since this is the 12th moving day in our 16 years of marriage, I’m pretty used to process. I’ve got an actual routine now, which is either really sad or just good sense.
At any rate, my POV is that I’m always moving toward something better. I don’t know why things turned out the way they did. Despite the sub-zero winters and isolation of living in the middle of nowhere, I was prepared to make a home here in MT. But it was not to be.
So I look to the next step with hope, excitement, sure a little anxiety, but above all else confidence in the One who holds me safe and secure no matter what. In light of Heaven, I can always say the best is yet to come, but I prefer to apply that to the here and now as well.
My point this week, besides letting you know that the dust of MT is being shaken from my toes, is to remember that perspective is a matter of choice, and that’s the truth no matter what kind of day you’re having.
See you in St. Louie, Dry Ground friends!
Monday, September 5, 2011
No, not the Jolie/Pitt version from a few years ago, though I do like that one.
This Mr. and Mrs. Smith debuted in 1941 and stars Robert Montgomery and Carole Lombard in a quirky romantic comedy.
One morning at breakfast (after three years of marriage), Mrs. Smith asks Mr. Smith, if you had it all to do over again (get married) would you? Mr. Smith, going along with the rules Mrs. Smith has applied to their relationship, opts to answer truthfully – no, he’d have remained single.
But he didn’t mean it the way she took it. Of course not.
Well, Mr. Smith goes on to work at his law office only to get a visitor. A member of the city council in the little town Mr. and Mrs. Smith got married in arrives to tell him that their marriage isn’t legal due to a licensing technicality.
Mr. Smith thinks he’ll have some fun with this, but Mrs. Smith misinterprets Mr. Smith’s shenanigans. The twist happens when Mrs. Smith tells Mr. Smith she doesn’t want him any more (only because she’s mad). But Mr. Smith realizes that he does want Mrs. Smith to stay Mrs. Smith, and has to re-win her heart.
Directed by the King of Suspense, Alfred Hitchcock, this story champions the bonds of marriage in a whimsical, entertaining setting.
Happy Movie Watching, Dry Ground friends!
Friday, September 2, 2011
To those of you who've lost loved ones this week, like my sister-in-law and family, I hope this song is an encouragement to you as it has been to me.