Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Who's missing more? Reader or Author?

Truth be known, I had a hard time looking at the cover of this book each time I picked it up to read. Whether it was personal guilt from knowing that I had two arms and two legs, or disappointment with God that He would allow this seemingly cruel condition, or both, I struggled. By the end of the book, I realized that I was lacking more than Vujicic who had made peace with his imperfection. No, it wasn't easy at first, as Vujicic shares the struggle his parents had at his birth to accept him as their child, as well as the time he thought about jumping off the kitchen counter at age 10 in a suicide attempt. Still, as Vujicic grew in his relationship with God and learned to make the most of what he could not control, he grew in his acceptance of who he was and now includes humor in his writings and his public speaking... like asking a lady to give him a hand, having a friend place him in the carry-on compartment of an airplane to welcome fellow fliers or riding the luggage carousel at the airport just for fun. Vujicic embraces positive thinking throughout his story and encourages the reader to be intentionally ridiculous in the risks taken.

He writes:

But each of us has the capacity to add our own flourishes, to pursue our purpose, our passion, and our pleasures with reckless abandon and ridiculous enthusiasm... I've recounted my adventures as an airplane carry-on and an airport carousel rider, as a scuba diver and a stunt-man, as a fisherman, a drummer, and an orchestra conductor. My question to you now is: If imperfect me can have that much ridiculous fun, if I can push the limits and enjoy life so fully, what about you? ... dare to be ridiculous, and you will be ridiculously happy.

One of his favorite quotes comes from Marilyn Monroe and sums up his thoughts. "Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius and it's better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring."

His stories, his life and his challenges will help you stop feeling sorry for yourself no matter what your story or condition is and will inspire you to do ridiculously more with your life. So, go for it!

Videos of Vujicic's first movie role in "The Butterfly Circus" and interviews/speeches can be easily found on YouTube.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Lite-Brite and Salty!

Despite the play on words (and spelling) that's the kind of world we should be leaving behind as Christians, especially as next Christians... one that has been lit up and salted.

I've always thought that if we could boil God's occupational responsibilities down to two requirements, they would be to 1) Redeem His creation and 2) Restore His creation. Seems He is always doing one or the other ... even if not always obvious at times.

In "The Next Christians", author Gabe Lyons makes note of the passage in Luke 4 where Jesus is quoting ancient texts that proclaim His annointing to proclaim good news to the poor, fredom for the prisoners, to set the oppressed free and to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor. Lyons says "In other words, Jesus is saying, 'Enough of what is; I see things in terms of how they ought to be, and I'm here to do something about it'. Conclusion? So are the next Christians.

Next Christians are provoked to do something about changing their world, and not always with a religious slogan or identity posted somewhere. Next Christians serve for the common good, they join together in community to make a difference instead of isolating themselves. They don't work at jobs, they serve in vocations which they see as "occupational placement" for God's "greater mission." They are embarrassed by false representations of the Gospel and communicate "something authentic and true through their lives that gives pause to those who encounter them." They "create culture that promotes beauty" giving others a glimpse of the beauty of God.

Basically, true Christianity means we choose to be part of the world we are in and become part of the solution to make the world what it ought to be through being the salt and light that Jesus spoke of.

Lyons is great at giving many examples of people who have made very specific, sacrificial decisions to be part of this surge that is under way, but is careful to point out that first things must be first. Jesus Himself said to "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and all these things will be added." Lyons feels we must first and foremost relearn the Gospel story, "recovering the theme of restoration that runs throughout the whole of Scripture." The Gospel is: beautiful, redemptive, faithful, demanding, reconciling, all-powerful, restorative, atoning, grace-abounding, soul-quenching, spiritually fulfilling good news of God's love.

We must first be restored before we can help to restore our friends, neighbors or community.

This book will stir you, convict you, encourage you, challenge and inspire you. I dare you to read it. Just be careful though, because if you do, you may get a little too salty and make others around you a bit thirsty!