Friday, December 25, 2015

3 Underrated Life Lessons from ‘Elf’

Every Christmas, I somehow, some way...find myself taking in another round of 'Elf'; after all, you leave your TV on long enough during December, it's bound to happen.

Although the movie isn't exactly my cup of tea, I'd be a cotton-headed ninny muggins if I said there weren't any truths tucked within the movie's many memorable moments.

So in the spirit of modern day parables, here are three underrated life lessons inspired by the movie worth eating up this holiday season.



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Jovie: “It IS a crappy cup of coffee.”
Buddy: “No, it's the world's BEST cup of coffee.”

Believing the best isn’t always easy. I know for me, I’d rather ‘get real’ with what’s in front of me than entertain what’s outside of me. Yet, I also know, while honest assessment is certainly a fair practice, when it becomes boxed in by circumstances, opportunities to shine hope into them can be missed.

In the case of Buddy the Elf, his innocent ignorance, though awkward, actually opens the door for humility…

…humility for the coffee shop to step up to its potential…and humility for Jovie to believe it could happen.

Thus, I can appreciate how Buddy, though slightly delusional, speaks life into what could be, rather than reduce an entire identity to one subpar sip.

Bottom line: While there’s a time to be honest, a time to be transparent, there’s never a time to doubt, even if the best is out of sight, out of mind.


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Buddy: Deb, you have such a pretty face, you should be on a Christmas card.”

Like point #1, showing encouragement isn’t always easy either.

Political incorrectness...missing the punch-line…poor delivery mechanics…futile grudges…

…I mean…it’s crazy the excuses we tolerate all for the sake of not looking like a moron.

But with Buddy, not only do you find a model of self-security, but you also see what happens when driven joy and childlike faith collide in a relational context.

So despite his lack of filter, Buddy ultimately reminds us it's better to encourage as a function of determined giving as opposed to convenient action.


Bottom line: If you have something good to say, don’t just say it…give it.

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Buddy: “SANTA! OH MY GOD! SANTA'S COMING! I KNOW HIM! I KNOW HIM!”

I’ve often wondered why so many wear their faith like a security blanket, only to ditch it when the ‘heat’ is turned up.

It’s like…we have no problem investing in eternal insurance…but also have no problem catering to indifference whenever the ‘rubber meets the road’.  

But truth is: when we ‘selah’ on simply Jesus…and the joy set before us, it makes perfect sense to get excited…and to share that enthusiasm with those around us.

Thus, it’s interesting how Buddy’s reaction here captures the true spirit of Christmas…in the sense it reminds us how we’re to celebrate God’s past, present, and future faithfulness.

For when we consider the fact Jesus is coming again, to once more redeem humanity from depravity, we ultimately set ourselves up to trust Christ in a way that fuels an eagerness for that coming.

Bottom line: Stand up, be proud…live your faith out loud.

‘Cause seriously…we have the privilege of knowing the King of Kings & Lord of Lords.

How freakin’ awesome is that?

Photo creds: BuzzFeed, The Odyssey Online

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Monday, December 21, 2015

Prepare Him Room

I don’t know about you, but I love this time of year.

Granted, it’s 70 freakin’ degrees and our only hope for a white Christmas lies in a water and sodium polyacrylate amalgamation (thanks, El Niño blowtorch).

Then again…it’s not like Christmas hinges on what can be tangibly felt…be an emotion, a moment, or an unfavorable teleconnection with ridging tendencies.

Of course, you know me; I could go on about the Grinch-like weather and other seasonal interferences like a mopey cotton-headed ninny muggins.

But I figure a) nobody got time for that and b) there’s way too much goodness worth discussing.

‘Cause while the weather outside is NOT frightful…with certain situations far from delightful…truth is: God has given us a place that is rightful…
…where all is still well and all is still bright.

But perhaps you’re like many who aren’t feeling so hot1 right now, fatigued from a difficult year and/or stressed by the perilous times in which we live.

If so, then I encourage you: take heartfor you are not (or ever) alone

…nor are you hopeless, helpless…or unworthy of receiving the kind of rest and peace this time of year has to offer.

‘Cause when we talk about Christmas, we’re not talking about some annual tradition, a candlelit spectacle, or an excuse to be off work. Rather, we’re talking about an expectant hope made possible by God who has set things right for us (Jeremiah 33:16), who remains true to His promises2…all the while giving us a reason to know joy and fear not.

Thus, when we pause to consider what Christmas really means, we ultimately set ourselves up to look up…and experience a joy that merges with a peace that transcends all understanding (Philippians 4:6-7).

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Consider the innkeeper in Luke 2…a character in the birth narrative who gets a bad rap due, in part, to his lack of mention.

As a kid, I had this idea that the innkeeper was this snarky, Arab Ken Jeong type who opened the door, glanced at Mary and Joseph, and blared, ‘No room for you’… only to slam the door in their face.

But as I’ve revisited the story in recent years, I’ve come to realize the innkeeper was not only fulfilling his part in the prophecy (Micah 5:2), but was also doing his best to extend joy into Mary and Joseph’s situation through hospitality.

You see…at this point in the narrative, we often underestimate the contrast between what was being felt versus what was being done.

Personally, I believe the innkeeper was being true to his word (i.e. ‘there’s no room in the inn’), based on the time of the day, the time of year…plus you never lie to a pregnant woman who’s dilating on a donkey.

Yet, while it’s very brief in text, what the innkeeper does between the lines in offering his only ‘stable’3 option is actually super profound.

‘Cause what he did, in purest essence…was prepare Him room (i.e. He offered the only thing he could offer in the moment, wrapped it with humble honesty…and counted it all joy).

So when you think about it…the innkeeper, despite his minor role, captures what Christmas (and joy for that matter) is all about: being intentional in making room for Jesus in the midst of our chaos...and laying our burdens before the Lord so that the voids left behind can be filled with expressions of honor.

Therefore, be encouraged, my friends, to consider your Christmas contribution to Jesus this year…whether it be your time, your walls, your fears...and to seal it by preparing Him room in your hearts...

… all for the sake of saying, ‘Jesus, you are my joy, the answer to life…and the reason for the season.’

For when you ready yourself to receive Christ, you repeat the sounding joy by also receiving the continuous outflow of His blessings and grace…which is exactly why God sent His only begotten Son in the first place.

On behalf of Lyssah & I, we want want to wish you a very...



...and a Happy New Year! May you all be overcome by the richness of God's favor and love in the season ahead.

Blessings,

~ Cameron

Footnotes

1) Pun intended?
2) The celebration of this = Advent
3) Ha, ha…see what I did there? 

Photo creds: costamesa.rockharbor.org, http://data.whicdn.com

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Friday, December 4, 2015

Turning 30

They say turning 30 is a watershed moment in a person’s life, ushering with it a greater sense of confidence and clarity.

But for me…at least right now…I have no clue where to begin.

 After all…it’s not every day you phase into a new decade.

Granted, I can appreciate the hearty buzz of a “happy new year”, the cordial texts from family members, not to mention the amusing Facebook comments from “friends” you’d least expect.

But this year…I can’t help but feel clouded, caught amid a ‘spectacular now’ and the rocky roads far past…yet faintly visible in the rear-view mirror.

*Sigh* I suppose what I’m trying to say is: I’m not ready to be 30.

I don’t feel it, don’t look it, and quite frankly, want nothing to do with it.

Not to sound cliché or anything; I get why people audit their value1 when they approach meaningful age markers.

I guess it’s just…though there’s much to look forward to and much to be thankful for…I just don’t know how to process my 20’s. I figure if I find a solution…any solution… maybe I’ll be able to look back and smile without it rooted in the contrast between what is and what was2.

Yet, while I admit there’s much I don’t understand, what I do know is:

I’m not yet where I want to be, but I’m no longer who I used to be. 

And that’s okay, ‘cause I know despite what anyone says…I’m well on my way...
...in this inlet of transition.

Yes, it’s true I’ve been labeled before.

Unworthy, hopeless…even fake…

   …but deep down, I know who I am now

…even if it took me 25…26 years and a couple wildernesses to get there.

So here’s to turning 30 as one burning the boats back to who he used to be…

…whose journey is still young as he. 

I may be a shadow of man undone…

…but praise God, my life has just begun3.

                                    20                                                                        30                                            
 
No doubt...the best is yet to come...

Footnotes

1)      Or better yet, their sense of value, meaningfulness, etc.
2)      And the evidence of having moved on
3)      Inspired by Neulore’s ‘Shadow of a Man’
Photo creds: theblowoff.com, linkedin.com, Désirée Ayton

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