Friday, March 16, 2012

My Ultimate Coat? Unfortunately...uh...NO!

I saw this coat advertised on the net recently...You can find details by clicking on the picture! Will I get one? Well, I might have until I found out something very, very important. Here is a picture I took recently with my beloved Panasonic Lumix ZS7 camera which I use for 95% of my photography these days. Do you see that ugly hair-like smudge in the middle of the picture? Well, I thought it was on my lens, so when I saw this, I cleaned the lens. It was then that I found the little hair was not ON my lens, but IN the lens!! Now think about it...a $300 camera rendered almost useless (Okay, at least SERIOUSLY flawed) by a little hair fragment!

Getting it removed may cost as much as a replacement, or at least enough to justify updating a three-year-old camera. (Wait, is that a bad thing? Oops...let me get back on track!) So here's the deal. I take a lot of pictures, and one reason I can do that is that I often carry my camera in my coat pocket. As I researched this problem (that other people seem to have frequently), I found that while the camera is in my pocket it is collecting all manner of dust, lint, and, yes, hair fragments!

When I switch it on, it automatically extends its impressive zoom lens (16x optical from your photo buffs!) which makes it ready to capture reality with stunning clarity. Unfortunately, the extending of the zoom lens tends to suck in all the aforementioned dust, lint and hair fragments!

The spiritual moral of this situation! Small things can mess up bigger things! Up until now, I never notice the collection of filth lurking in my coat pockets. Now I notice!

We don't tend to notice the small things we let collect in our relationships. Look at some marriages. Little comments, sarcasms, criticisms go unanswered. Without even realizing it, couples can slowly arrive at a place with nothing positive is said. Friction, though not noticed at times, slowly wears down the harmony/intimacy that once existed.

Garbage collects and somewhere along the way, in the stress and busyness of life, the negative emotional lint and dust gets sucked into our psyche, messing up the picture of our relationship...pushing us apart. The picture of love we started with is now marred, and though there is still much good in "the picture," our attention is eventually drawn to that ugly hair that is suddenly so noticeable. If not corrected, this situation can make each partner easy prey for looking elsewhere for affirmation/satisfaction like porn, affairs, etc. They may simply opt for mediocrity. This is not the picture of marriage our Father intended for us.

Some couples wisely get busy cleaning the lens of their relationship. Smudge cleaning is NOT done by jumping into blaming each other first. True cleaning should begin with each realizing his or her responsibility in the situation; confessing his/her contribution to the breakdown of communication; and then by each partner renewing his/her commitment to the marriage. It is so easy to jump to the BLAME stage, bypassing the "lens cleaning" we each need to do first. (Did you see the blog post I did yesterday on getting the plank out of your eye, before looking for the speck in someone else's eye?)

The same process occurs between friends, too. Oh, and it also occurs in our relationships with our Father (except He's never at fault!). We dabble in little sins, not realizing the damage they do when we let them get sucked into our lives as habits that mess up the picture of our witness and ministry to others.

So whether it involves your relationship with someone else, or with your Heavenly Father, don't neglect the dust and lint of your own sin. Deal with it! Scripture promises that If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9) Nothing cleans the smudges that ruin the pictures of our lives like forgiveness!

In The Mood for Quality Entertainment? Good Luck with That!!

I like to check out the website ROTTEN TOMATOES for movie reviews because it gives scores based on a lot of movie critics. If a movie receives over 60% positive reviews, it is certified as "fresh" and worth considering.

If the movie receives under 60% positive reviews, it is certified ROTTEN. This week (3/16) I thought it funny (and a bit telling of Hollywood's ability to produce films of consistent quality) how the current top grossing films at the box office rated with Rotten Tomato critics.

Here is the list and their ratings:
Well, "The Lorax" almost made it into the fresh category!

Check out what some are calling the lowest rating movie of all time: Eddie Murphy in A THOUSAND WORDS: OUCH!

Philippians 4:18 reminds us: Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. From this week's list of top grossing movies, doing this might prove difficult in your local theater.

What's a discerning person to do? Hmmm...what about a good book!? Hey, what about picking up THE GOOD BOOK!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Be Care About Speck Obsession!

I was humbled this a most unexpected way. I was in Charleston visiting with Joel and Patty Jones, very dear friends for over three decades. Patty has been battling lung cancer for two and half years, and has responded to a number of chemo therapies. She has been in a trial for a new drug that her doctor thought held promise, and I went down to be with her and Joel as they would get a report about whether or not the new chemo was working. They got good news that her cancer was stable and not spreading. This meant she could continue immediately with another round of chemo.

While waiting with Joel for Patty to get situated with an IV, I decided that a little humor would be in order. I noticed Joel was wearing a pair of sandals and socks and I commented that I thought that footwear was only appropriate for grandfathers. He smirked and said it didn't bother him, and that was that...until we went back to keep Patty company as she received an hour and a half of chemo.

As I sat down in the well-lit alcove with Joel and Patty, I looked at my feet, and noticed something I had not noticed all shoes! Here is what I saw:
I knew I should have replaced that burnt out light bulb in my bedroom! Yes, I showed them to Joel and Patty, and yes we had a good laugh (as did her sister later when we told her; and my church Wednesday night at Prayer Meeting when I told them!). In an instant I was reminded of Matthew 7:1-5: “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, "Let me take the speck out of your eye," when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye."

Thankfully, my object lesson was relatively painless, but it did remind me of how often I'm tempted to criticize someone prematurely without considering my part in whatever issue is at stake. To be a little more pointed let me remind you to pause before criticizing anyone in a particular situation.

In that pause, consider your words. THINK!!! Is what you are about to say:
God-INSPIRED? (Would He approve?)

We are all flawed. I'm not saying (and I don't think the Bible is saying) to never comment on another person's failings. I am saying to pray for the wisdom to be "redemptive" in your comments in such a way that the person realizes you are speaking with a sincere desire to help them have a better life. We need to SPEAK THE TRUTH IN LOVE (Ephesians 4:15) with a sincere commitment to be part of their journey of change (if, in fact, they are the ones (and not us!) needing to change!).

It is so easy to become obsessive about specks in the eyes of others while being totally unaware of our own "plank blindness!" Better tend to your plank first, before you go hunting for eye specks in others, while being totally oblivious to the unmatched shoes you are wearing!