Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Power of an Ant and a Dump Truck

"You think you can stop the future? You're just a thief!"

"No, I'm the Ant-Man!...I know, it wasn't my idea."

The other day while driving on a busy road I noticed a dump truck full of concrete storming by.
What came to mind wasn't the reckless way these guys drive, but the power these guys must feel when driving these monstrosities on the road. Oh to have that kind of power, not just on the road but everyday and in every situation.

I recently viewed the new superhero film The Ant-Man and found it to be a lot of fun and quite moving in it's message on power. I don't believe that it was meant to bring forth a message as much as to entertain, but it was most definitely thought provoking.
I won't indulge you with much of the film, but I do suggest you see it; you and your kids will thoroughly enjoy this film.

While the main character Scott is learning how to use the Ant-Man suit and how to miniaturize himself to the size of an ant, he also learns all about the variety of ants there are and how to use them to his advantage. Here are some facts about ants you may not know:

1. Ants can survive and thrive in conditions that would challenge us individuals.

2. Ants are capable of carrying objects 50 times their own body weight.
Ever see an ant carry a french fry?

3. There are at least 1.5 million ants on the planet for every human being.

4. Ants will enslave other ants, keeping them captive and making them do work for the colony.
Ants will work together to get their mission accomplished, even if it's carrying a bread crumb for everyone to feed on.

And, in case you didn't know, ants are even mentioned in the Bible:

Take a lesson from the ants, you lazybones. Learn from their ways and become wise.
- Proverbs 6:6

Ants- they aren't strong, but they store up food all summer. - Proverbs 30:25

In a biblical sense we are taught to be wise like the ant, but what about the power?

I think we can all relate to the comparison of a dump truck versus the ant. Especially us kids who were involved in sports. I may not have been the biggest or strongest of the kids on the teams I played on, but I did carry with me an inner strength; a drive to excel no matter how big the competition was.

Sometimes we get caught up in that whole power struggle whether it's in sports or in the business world, and may even second guess our abilities. But no matter what we say or think, God says differently,

"For I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." - Philippians 4:13

Whether you feel like the size of an ant at certain times you can have the power of a dump truck, you just need to believe.

"Scott, I need you to be the Ant-Man."

"One question...Is it too late to change the name?"


Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Road Trippin'

"All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware."
- Martin Buber, an 1800's German Philosopher

Ahh, who doesn't like a good road trip? A time to get away and view the sights and sounds of America. What makes road trips so great is not the getting to the destination part, but what you may find along the way. I love reading on social media, in particular Face Book friends,  their road trips and the photos they take along the way. They say everyone has a story to tell, but even more so when on a road trip; stories to tell your kids, your grandkids, and memories no one can take from you.

As a kid growing up in the early 70's I carry fond memories of the road trips my parents took me and my 4 siblings on. I do admit sometimes they weren't so enjoyable, especially when your riding in the backseat of a station wagon and the only windows that actually rolled down were in the front seat of the car.. But our trips had their moments.
With technology not so advanced then, we either had a book to read, or our imagination as we viewed the scenery along the way. On the radio my father would be playing country music, old school style to kids today. At the time I couldn't stand listening to it, but once I grew older my appreciation for music expanded to where, dare I say it, I enjoy old school country music. Mostly because they stir up fond memories from my childhood.

As for the staring out the window and letting my imagination run wild, it was those road trips that brought me to my love for nature and the creativity that I can use to want to explore nature more. I think Rod Serling's Twilight Zone narration said it best,

"You unlock this door with the key of imagination. Beyond it is another dimension - a dimension of sound, a dimension of sight, a dimension of mind. You're moving into a land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas. You've just crossed over into the Twilight Zone." 
Though we may not literally be traveling to the twilight zone, although it my feel like it when traveling through Iowa corn fields and cow patches when you live in the city, but every road trip can bring you closer to who you desire to be.
One of my favorite moments in the film Elizabethtown is the road trip Claire, played by Kirsten Dunst, has her love interest Drew take, upon his trip back home from his dad's funeral. Drew is bringing the remains of his father back home:
Claire tells Drew to take one final trip with his father, giving him a map and marking special stops to make along the way. Drew follows the map home, spreading his father's ashes at memorable sites until the map gives him a choice; to either follow the map home, or follow new directions. He chooses the latter, which leads him to a small town fair, where he encounters Claire waiting for him. The two kiss and Drew finally realizes what Claire has been telling him all along: life is going to be filled with fierce battles, but through the battles, redemption is found and results in a glorious life.
 What makes this such a great, memorable moment is the map Claire gives him also contains a soundtrack of a whole variety of music to listen to on the way. After viewing this film many times, I have taken up the idea of getting away from my natural day-to-day music listening, when going on road trips. Kind of like revisiting my past and the variety of music I listened to along the way.

Music is an important part of any road trip. Don't be afraid to not only explore the great nature that surrounds us, but add a little a variety to that soundtrack, a great way to set the mood for any road trip.

No matter what part of the United States you live in, there's a road trip to be had. If your looking for some real adventure, checkout www.roadtrippers.com. There you will find some off-the-beaten-trail sights
that you've never even heard of.

Summer's almost over, time to pack those bags and get road trippin'

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Deception is Cruel

"There's a fine line between fishing and just standing on the shore like an idiot."
- Steven Wright
 A recent conversation I found myself engulfed in, reminded me of the evil practice of deception and how some people are so good at it. Just after my high school years, a friend had coaxed some of us to go on a one week autumn fishing expedition deep in the northern woods of Wisconsin. He showed us a photo of a gorgeous cabin that his father owned, a cabin that included some exquisite amenities. And course, we all bought in hook,line and sinker. Yet, once we got up there it was nothing like the cabin in the photo. In fact, it was the complete opposite and resembled more of an outhouse than a cabin. The bathroom contained a toilet and a small basin sink, the heat to the one bedroom cabin came from a wood burning stove in the living room. The kitchen was probably the only normal room in the cabin, but at least there was electricity.
Although I  am an outdoors-kind-of-guy, I do not like tents but love the idea of being in a log cabin, yet I still love those morning showers to invigorate and awaken me. One thing was clear, this was not the week I would be getting that shower. Needless to say I survived the week, but when I got home it was a different story, as my mom was hesitant in letting me in the house, for I smelled like dead fish, let alone she didn't even recognize me from my not shaving all week,too. A smelly disaster was this trip.

A few years later my brother and I decided to take a trip to San Diego for the first time. I booked a hotel from an applicable website, and of course, yet again, the photos of the hotel were misleading. Let's put it this way, our balcony view was of a Larry Flint Strip Club. Yes, deception is cruel and it's all around us.
Whether it's the media, the politicians, false teaching preachers, the communities we live in, our friends, websites that sell stuff, it's everywhere and we need to be on guard at all times.
For all the negativity that deception brings, there is one story about deception that brought victory. A story that has always intrigued me. Who would have thought just the very first two sentences of any story could reel you into wanting more of the entire story? Yet, the Bible is full of so many of these. 

Now Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Syria, was a great and honorable man in the eyes of his master, because by him the Lord had given victory to Syria. He was also a mighty man of valor, but a leper.-  2 Kings 5:1

Imagine that, Naaman, a leper, would put on his armor everyday to cover up his illness, and then go out and do battle and come away victoriously. Oh sure, Naaman would later go and seek out a prophet and get healed, but this?  To do battle and win? Oh my, what great victorious deception!

What brought Naaman victory in his battles is plainly stated, from the Lord. How encouraging this is for all of us with the deception that surrounds us everyday. When God instructs believers to put on the whole armor of God each day, he doesn't say if you are whole,or if you are in good health, or if everything is perfect in your life at that moment. All He says is to be strong in the Lord.

 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.  Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. - Ephesians 6:10

How awesome is it to know that in our weakness He is strong. It doesn't matter what you are going through, just keep putting on that armor of God each day and just stand.


Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Persistent Hope

"Hope is patience with the lamp lit." - Tertullian, an early Centurion Roman author

Just recently an elderly woman passed away just hours after her husband, they had been married for over 70 years. Thanks to the sufficiency of the internet I was able to find out that this is not uncommon for elderly couples being married over 60 years. In fact it happens quite frequently, almost on a weekly basis.
I suppose that after being together that many years and counting on each other and loving each other, the still living spouse's flicker of hope may have ran out when their other half passes away. When a couple are married that many years, I am sure their hope had become entwined together as one. Which makes love and hope the most sought after four letter words in the English language.

I've always admired the strength and hope of those born generations before me. Those that I have come across to know personally who were born in the 1940's and 1950's, I have come to admire the most. It seems as though their generation's stamina was built on a persistent hope, one where the lamp of hope always stayed lit to the very end.

One of the most unusual stories of hope dimming it's light in the end, happened in 2004. The Boston Red Sox won the World Series for the first time since 1918. Oh, they came close many times but failed. Whether it was their first baseman Bill Buckner letting a ground ball go between his legs in a World Series game to which they eventually lost the series, to 2003 Championship Game 7 and losing in the bottom of the 11th inning to the Yankees. Some Boston fans called it a lifelong curse after they traded away Babe Ruth in 1920.

Boston Red Sox fans are like Chicago Cub fans, becoming a fan is passed down from generation to generation within their own families. Therefore they are considered true die-hard fans, sticking with their team who's losing ways has been long and frustrating. You could probably add Cleveland in this category,too.

Amazingly, in the next few days after the Boston Red Sox finally won the World Series in 2004 after a drought of 86 years, there was a steady decline in the elderly Red Sox population. In dramatic fashion it seemed as though they held on just long enough to see their beloved team finally win a championship, then were able to pass away with their hopes victoriously completed. They kept their hope alive just in time to see it not fail. They died in peace.

A persistent hope is what we all cling to, whether it's for our favorite sports team, the one's we love, for our extended family, or even just for life in general. And there isn't anything wrong with that.
So keep that hope light lit, victory is just around the corner. Even if your a Chicago Cubs fan.