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Choices

Cars I just saw Pixar’s latest release "Cars." Besides the great animation, and the ability to make a Hudson Hornet not only look and sound like the original, but also like Paul Newman, there was a layer of real life navigation throughout.

A young and talented race car, (slip in the name of a bright ego-centric up-and-comer here) named Lightning McQueen has been taking the racing world by storm. As a result of his incredible ability to think only of himself, he finds that he is very lonely…no crew chief, nor pit crew left will work with him due to his arrogance.

On the way to the big "Piston Cup" Lightning accidentally rolls out of the back of the team semi while he was sleeping, and gets stuck in a small town called Radiator Springs on Route 66. After doing some damage to the town, the young race car is sentenced to rebuild the road he destroyed…and this is where the journey of discovery begins.

It seems to me that all the stuff we go through in life captures us in the moment, and causes us to believe that the moment is all there is. Unable to see beyond and dazed from the events of the past, we get stuck. In the movie, all Lightning wanted to do was to get unstuck, to get out of Radiator Springs as fast as he could. He was so self-focused that he didn’t see the story he had fallen into, the stories that surrounded him, nor the help next to him that he so desperately needed.

That is so much like us yes? Our moment is all there is… Our self is our consumption…Our location exists only to move beyond…Our dreams are always someplace else…

Since Lightning was stuck in Radiator Springs until he fulfilled his court ordered civic duty, he had to slow down enough to see the story that surrounded him. The entrance of friends, lovers, mentors, partners…authentic community in the most obscure place.

I think God gives us many Radiator Spring moments in life…moments where He has sovereignly orchestrated a dead-end, or a seemingly purposeless stop along the journey that is anything but purposeless or accidental…it is divinely inspired to slow us down enough so that we begin to experience His story that is unfolding around us all the time. Then, we enter into the stories of fellow travelers, who here-to-fore we didn’t even know were on the road.

As we slow down and enter into each others journey down Route 66, God gives us the ability deep within to move beyond ourselves…this movement unleashes within us a capacity to choose differently…leading to a different outcome than we had previously been experiencing. From self-centeredness to selflessness…from pride to humility…from serve-me to let me serve you.

As Lightning enters into the lives of those around him, he receives a mentor that will ultimately help him with his dream. Before, the mentor seemed nothing more than an older car who knew nothing about the world, but as Lightning learned his story, he was open to be taught from someone who had been right where he was at. He also experienced the joy that comes when we overlook the quirkiness of our traveling companions, and how they complete empty patches of our soul.

Perhaps what caught me the most was the choice Lightning made a the end of the movie…with the Piston Cup firmly in his clutch, he sacrificed his "dream" to go back for a car that had been forced off the track, and pushed him across the finish line…

The Radiator Spring stops of life help us make the choices that matter. Winning isn’t everything…how you win does matter… and how you define winning will either transform you into a person that is contagious and influential or merely a trophy collector.

What is it within us that causes us to cheer on and applaud the one willing to sacrifice what we are all striving for…on the outside it doesn’t make sense…we all want to win, we all work to win…we all long to hold the trophy and stand receiving the glory in the winners circle…yet when we experience Lightning stopping at the finish line to do the right thing,  we draw in more breath, our eyes widen ever so slightly and the endorphins of joy scream through our body! Why?

Because built within us is the greatest story of sacrifice the world has every known…This story is the why of our soul. it makes every Radiator Springs moment of life ripe with meaning and hope. It is the cosmic Meta Narrative that God loves you and was willing to loose all to gain you…humbling, mesmerizing…confusing.

Make the right choice not the convenient choice. Make the Godly choice not the me-centric choice. Make the sacrificial choice not the path of least resistance choice…you become a creation of the choices you make in life, good, bad, and other. Everyday God gives you divine opportunities to choose wisely…to do this we need to slow down enough to see the story, our story, their story, His story…that battered up old car that you may think has no value just might hold the keys to unleash God’s plan in your life, and those quirky friends along the Route will carry you ac cross the finish line of life.

So, are you trying to get out of Radiator Springs? Maybe you should take a look at the surroundings and see what God is saying to you…there are no accidents in life only opportunities! After all, when you win that "Piston Cup" all you have is an empty cup.

Illuminate Deo,

Monty

On Seeing

Shutterstock_1384418

An eye for an eye makes us all blind.

Mohandas Gandhi

I can remember it like it was yesterday. I had wanted it for so long. The T.V ads had completely captured me, this had to be the finest product ever made by man, and my birthday was coming. I implored every saint I could name, and a few that I made up just so that I would impress God, in hopes that heaven might sway my parents into buying me the greatest toy ever invented…the Evil Knievel wind up stunt cycle with the Evil Knievel action figure actually riding his red white and blue motorcycle!

You wound it up…hit the release button, and the imitation burst into life just like the real, and would jump creeks, curbs and small cats! My fingers flexed in anticipation as I slowly began to open the package on the day. First one corner, then the next…with breath held tightly I removed the entire lot of paper, and saints be praised, there was Evil atop his motorcycle in all his daredevil splendor!

Evil
I took that thing everywhere…in fact…I took it to too many places. One day it came to school with me, and by the end of the day I would be faced with a theological issue that was soul deep…vengeance.

At recess you could find me and Evil next to the tether ball pole amazing the onlookers with various stunts and jumps…and then it happened…someone grabbed Evil, and broke it. My heart was crushed, my eyes teared up, and then I was transformed, but not in a good way.

It amazes me how quickly the human heart can move from joy to retribution. Evil was broken, and somebody had to pay! Perhaps this is what Darwin was aiming at when he was postulating the "Survival of the Fittest." That we humans have a way of protecting what is ours at all costs, even if that means inflicting pain on another.

In truth, this is base level behavior yes? This is living "an eye for an eye" and "if you hit me I hit you" kind of life. This is how animals live…and humans who have been hurt.

You don’t have to practice it…you don’t need a class in it…there is no DVD curriculum to help you master it, no, we all have a natural tendency to be judge and jury, to meet out justice…to return evil for evil.

Even as we grow, mature, and begin to live above a base-level existence, we have countless opportunities to practice the transforming act of moving beyond an eye for an eye life. I like what Gandhi said, "an eye for an eye makes us all blind." Powerful…True…Profound.

Shutterstock_961695
The lifestyle of an eye for an eye not only makes us all blind physically, but spiritually as well. You see, this kind of blindness is a blindness to everything and everyone else, yet complete sight  for self. This blindness has an uncanny ability to have 20/20 vision when it comes to seeing what it desires, wants, covets, or thinks is important, which is generally something that feeds the self, ego, or pride…and that is the most blinding combination in the world.

This blindness breaks up marriages, families, and relationships because there are no eyes looking into the heart and soul of the other…instead the gaze is to the mistakes, blunders, and areas of un-beauty. These things are magnified, and the spiritual eye shrivels into oblivion. This blindness is never empathetic, sympathetic, nor grace filled…but instead it demands its own rights, blind to the rights of the other.

This is really the mantra of our culture and society, and the mantra is embedded deeply into the fabric even of the church…sons and daughters of the king walking around in self-blindness, angry at another blind wanderer for bumping into them and disturbing their darkness which they believe to be light.

Self deception is a trademark of this blindness, but self deception is a sly enemy. You are never really sure if he has you, and when you figure it out, there is generally a trail of brokenness. Men and women wonder why life isn’t working…why they struggle even though they go to church…why all these people are causing them so much pain and frustration…all the while never seeing.

Shutterstock_353813
The beauty of Christ is that He longs to warm his hands in slow circular motions, then with love, mercy, and grace, place them over our myopic state, and invite us to experience sight.

They way to see is really not that perplexing. It is to take the words of the master and do with them something more than believe them…to live them out even when someone has broken your Evil Knievel Stunt jumper.

God’s truth is that every relationship can be healed, resurrected, restored and given  new sight, but the hard work is in laying aside our old nature of vengeance and self-vision, and ask Christ to infuse us with His holy sight that sees others as He does, even when they wrong or hurt us. Isn’t that the miracle of salvation? That even when we were still stuck in the blindness of our sinful life, Jesus died for us…even though we treated Him with the opposite of love.

You should be screaming, "I can’t do that!" You are right, you can’t. But since you have the creative force of the universe dwelling inside of you, you have the ability to choose to let Him empower you to do the impossible…live a life of grace and truth.

When we demand our rights above all else, we miss the whole gospel, and we miss the keys to the abundant life, they are found in giving up our rights even as Christ did (Phil 2) and choosing commitment over convenience or perhaps human justice.

God has your back, He will deal with those who wrong you. The example of Christ is to live above the natural human tendency to blind each other. What relationship are you demanding your rights in without also sacrificially giving your life too? Perhaps this is the time to mirror Christ in that relationship, allowing His kindness and grace to bring about repentance, restoration, and resurrection.

Shutterstock_354357
As the recess bell rang I had an option, blind my friend, thus blinding myself, or grieving my loss,and talk to my friend in such a way that we remained friends even though I was angry, hurt, and experiencing loss. Now when you are 8 years old, these are not the exact thoughts that roll through your mind, as your thinking is not yet so refined, but the thought patters are similar…I chose the friend over the toy.

Amazingly, the things we want are always much shorter lived than the relationship that risks mutual blinding…God calls us to choose the relationship over the injustice, the heart over the heart-ache…in this we find life and sight.

Illuminate Deo,

Monty

 


On Seeing

Shutterstock_1384418

An eye for an eye makes us all blind.

Mohandas Gandhi

I can remember it like it was yesterday. I had wanted it for so long. The T.V ads had completely captured me, this had to be the finest product ever made by man, and my birthday was coming. I implored every saint I could name, and a few that I made up just so that I would impress God, in hopes that heaven might sway my parents into buying me the greatest toy ever invented…the Evil Knievel wind up stunt cycle with the Evil Knievel action figure actually riding his red white and blue motorcycle!

You wound it up…hit the release button, and the imitation burst into life just like the real, and would jump creeks, curbs and small cats! My fingers flexed in anticipation as I slowly began to open the package on the day. First one corner, then the next…with breath held tightly I removed the entire lot of paper, and saints be praised, there was Evil atop his motorcycle in all his daredevil splendor!

Evil
I took that thing everywhere…in fact…I took it to too many places. One day it came to school with me, and by the end of the day I would be faced with a theological issue that was soul deep…vengeance.

At recess you could find me and Evil next to the tether ball pole amazing the onlookers with various stunts and jumps…and then it happened…someone grabbed Evil, and broke it. My heart was crushed, my eyes teared up, and then I was transformed, but not in a good way.

It amazes me how quickly the human heart can move from joy to retribution. Evil was broken, and somebody had to pay! Perhaps this is what Darwin was aiming at when he was postulating the "Survival of the Fittest." That we humans have a way of protecting what is ours at all costs, even if that means inflicting pain on another.

In truth, this is base level behavior yes? This is living "an eye for an eye" and "if you hit me I hit you" kind of life. This is how animals live…and humans who have been hurt.

You don’t have to practice it…you don’t need a class in it…there is no DVD curriculum to help you master it, no, we all have a natural tendency to be judge and jury, to meet out justice…to return evil for evil.

Even as we grow, mature, and begin to live above a base-level existence, we have countless opportunities to practice the transforming act of moving beyond an eye for an eye life. I like what Gandhi said, "an eye for an eye makes us all blind." Powerful…True…Profound.

Shutterstock_961695
The lifestyle of an eye for an eye not only makes us all blind physically, but spiritually as well. You see, this kind of blindness is a blindness to everything and everyone else, yet complete sight  for self. This blindness has an uncanny ability to have 20/20 vision when it comes to seeing what it desires, wants, covets, or thinks is important, which is generally something that feeds the self, ego, or pride…and that is the most blinding combination in the world.

This blindness breaks up marriages, families, and relationships because there are no eyes looking into the heart and soul of the other…instead the gaze is to the mistakes, blunders, and areas of un-beauty. These things are magnified, and the spiritual eye shrivels into oblivion. This blindness is never empathetic, sympathetic, nor grace filled…but instead it demands its own rights, blind to the rights of the other.

This is really the mantra of our culture and society, and the mantra is embedded deeply into the fabric even of the church…sons and daughters of the king walking around in self-blindness, angry at another blind wanderer for bumping into them and disturbing their darkness which they believe to be light.

Self deception is a trademark of this blindness, but self deception is a sly enemy. You are never really sure if he has you, and when you figure it out, there is generally a trail of brokenness. Men and women wonder why life isn’t working…why they struggle even though they go to church…why all these people are causing them so much pain and frustration…all the while never seeing.

Shutterstock_353813
The beauty of Christ is that He longs to warm his hands in slow circular motions, then with love, mercy, and grace, place them over our myopic state, and invite us to experience sight.

They way to see is really not that perplexing. It is to take the words of the master and do with them something more than believe them…to live them out even when someone has broken your Evil Knievel Stunt jumper.

God’s truth is that every relationship can be healed, resurrected, restored and given  new sight, but the hard work is in laying aside our old nature of vengeance and self-vision, and ask Christ to infuse us with His holy sight that sees others as He does, even when they wrong or hurt us. Isn’t that the miracle of salvation? That even when we were still stuck in the blindness of our sinful life, Jesus died for us…even though we treated Him with the opposite of love.

You should be screaming, "I can’t do that!" You are right, you can’t. But since you have the creative force of the universe dwelling inside of you, you have the ability to choose to let Him empower you to do the impossible…live a life of grace and truth.

When we demand our rights above all else, we miss the whole gospel, and we miss the keys to the abundant life, they are found in giving up our rights even as Christ did (Phil 2) and choosing commitment over convenience or perhaps human justice.

God has your back, He will deal with those who wrong you. The example of Christ is to live above the natural human tendency to blind each other. What relationship are you demanding your rights in without also sacrificially giving your life too? Perhaps this is the time to mirror Christ in that relationship, allowing His kindness and grace to bring about repentance, restoration, and resurrection.

Shutterstock_354357
As the recess bell rang I had an option, blind my friend, thus blinding myself, or grieving my loss,and talk to my friend in such a way that we remained friends even though I was angry, hurt, and experiencing loss. Now when you are 8 years old, these are not the exact thoughts that roll through your mind, as your thinking is not yet so refined, but the thought patters are similar…I chose the friend over the toy.

Amazingly, the things we want are always much shorter lived than the relationship that risks mutual blinding…God calls us to choose the relationship over the injustice, the heart over the heart-ache…in this we find life and sight.

Illuminate Deo,

Monty