Posts Tagged ‘Jon Acuff’

In 1986 I was four years old.  That same year Nintendo released a little game for it’s Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) called Metroid.  Something different than what had been done before, it was a side-scrolling game like Super Mario Bros. but the player also collected various items to enhance Samus Aran:  an inter-galactic bounty hunter that roamed this non-linear world (akin to the Legend of Zelda).  Due to the game’s vastness, it also included a password feature like the Mega Man games.  I was finally introduced to it a few years after it’s release and spent hours working to saves Planet Zebes from the Mother Brain and her dreaded Metroids; something similar to a “face-hugger” from Alien.  The greatest shocker to the original came during the game’s end credits, when you realized that Samus was a woman.  Samus Aran was the first real video game heroine.   Since that time, Metroid has gone on to become an impressive franchise of it’s own, spawning numerous sequels over various Nintendo gaming systems; all of which I own or had played heavily, as Metroid is my favorite video game franchise behind The Legend of Zelda. Metroid almost became a major motion picture that would have been directed by John Woo.

Sometimes I get nostalgic for first generation versions of games like Metroid, Mega Man, and The Legend of Zelda; ok, more than sometimes.  Recently, I found a few videos on YouTube of “speed runs” though the original Metroid and Metroid II:  The Return of Samus:  incredible play-through of these games in record times.  As I watched both of these – and yes I watched both in their entirety – not only did the memories return from when I was nine years old, but a I marveled at the perfection of the game-play.  The amount of time someone would have to play the game to know it so well, where very item is hidden and the optimum method and order to collect them.  The daredevil risks taken in the game for the sake of that record time: taking certain hits on purpose and rushing in to certain areas – seemingly unprepared – long before one should but emerging victorious precisely because you know the material, obstacles, and terrain so well.  That’s preparation.

My mentor, teacher, and dear friend Ken Rudolph often preaches a sermon about David’s Mighty Men each summer at Lake Ann Camp.  In the sermon he talks of how these men where men of practice, men of preparation; they knew their craft and knew it well, for this small band could have conquered entire nations by themselves; they were King David’s “Special Forces”.  These guys took huge risks, like breaking into enemy territory just to get King David water from the well of Bethlehem, his home town, but they were prepared.  These guys were like the Bible’s version of The Expendables.

I think that faith in Christ works this way too:  the more you know of Him, the more you see Him do, the more miracles – great and small – that you experience, the more your faith is built up.  The more your faith is built up and strengthened, the more you trust Him with the life He’s given you (yes, it is a weird paradox).  The more your faith is built and you embrace the greater Freedom of trusting Him, the more you can help others by loaning that faith out to others to build them up; Revelation 12:11 in real-life.    The more your faith in Him is built and the more you can trust Him, the greater risks you can take and step out all the more into the destiny He has for you; Ephesians 2:10 in real-life.  It sounds a lot like the journey of Samus Aran in Metroid and Link in The Legend of Zelda.

Right now, my risk is spending $500+ to go to Nashville, TN on September 21, 2012 for The Quitter Conference lead by Jon Acuff – not knowing a thing about what my future will look like after early November.  The board is set and the pieces are moving towards that day.

Are you prepared to step out?  What do you need to risk?

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I really like books; I like owning them, having shelves full of them, and reading them.  I’m currently in the midst of four separate books between various small groups and my own personal reading.  I started reading Frank Peretti at 11 years old and started collecting the Star Wars expanded Universe at 12; 17 years later my Star Wars  novels count is well over 80 and takes up three shelves of one of my bookcases.  I was obsessed with Christian apocalyptic fiction for most of Jr. High and High School thanks to the Left Behind books (but I won’t say anything more about that – except that I never finished the whole series).  When looking at my bookshelves, I never expected for it to hold a book by Donald Miller, the author of Blue Like Jazz (which is going to be released as a theatrical film soon)JRR Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Susan Cooper, G.P. Taylor, Chuck Colson, and two series on Philosophy and Popular Culture (Star Wars, Star Trek, Transformers, Terminator, Green Lantern, Batman, X-MEN, Battlestar Galactica, 24, LOST) sure, you’d find those, but Donald Miller?  Wasn’t he the guy that the “cool kids” read, those on the 21st Century cutting edge of Christianity?  Yeah, that was way too “Christian Hipster” for me when I actually thought about it, and I honestly would have rather read The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy books if given the choice (which I own but  haven’t finished).

All that changed one night a few weeks ago.  It was a cold Tuesday night and I’d just finished leading a C.S. Lewis reading group called “The Inklings” (what else would you call it?) when I ran into my friend Andy.  We hadn’t seen one another since the Leadership retreat for National Community Church a few weeks prior, so we got to talking.  Before we knew it we got talking about dreams, destiny, and how it takes intense conflict and perseverance to make a good story (all in “epic superhero/comic book movie” context as well as some of my own life story).  All of the sudden a light goes on inside Andy’s mind and he asks me “Have you ever read Donald Miller?”  I said “no”, and I wasn’t so eager to begin.    Andy began to explain that he understood my hesitation, as he didn’t like Donald Miller either, at first.  It wasn’t until he read A Million Miles in a Thousand Years that his perspective began to change (and he has now lead multiple smallgroups though this book).  In fact, my friend believed so much that I should read this book that he bought me a copy and had it sent to my house.  When that happens, you’ve got to give the book a shot because someone you respect sees it as a powerful vessel for wisdom, transformation, and change.  So I began reading.

This being my first experience with this author I didn’t know what to expect.  I had recently seen a trailer for the theatrical release of Blue Like Jazz and it looked very “indie and weird” (redundancy?).  I don’t really like “indie and weird”, except when it crosses over into “epic, super-ish, and full of awesome” like Scott Pilgrim vs. The World does (and SO WELL), because I live in the land of epic and I don’t’ like to stray outside those borders.  As I read I began to realize that one of the threads going through this book was the story of how Blue Like Jazz was going to become a movie: a ground floor account of the author’s life though that process and how it all went down (from characters, to conflict, inciting incidents, plot turns and the like).  I began to wonder “Has George Lucas done this?” and I found myself wishing the answer was yes.

Miller uses this book to look at his life as a story, and to ask the overall question of “what makes a good story and am I living one, a story worth living and inviting others to be a part of?”  As I read I realized that these were questions that I was (and am) consistently wrestling with in light of some of my experiences.  It brought to mind the ending of the two part episode of Facing Life Head On that I was featured in last year, when the host of the show, Brad Mates, says that I and my fellow interviewees had made our lives “stories worth telling”.  Does that mean that at the end of every day you have to be able to say that the day that just ended was worth it?  No, it does not, but worthwhile things have sure happened.  Often in our own stories it’s others that see the worth that we can’t as we’re in the midst of it, as I wrote about Kirk and Spock yesterday.

The book talks about how in Star Wars, the viewer can pause the movie at any point and ask the question “what does a certain character want and what do they have to overcome to get it?” and you know the answer.  Luke wants to become a Jedi and join the Rebellion; Leia wants to defeat the Empire; Han Solo want money so he can pay off Jabba the Hutt.  Ben Kenobi wants to teach Luke the ways of the Force.  Reader finds themselves asking, “what do I want and what do I have to overcome to get it?”  (Along that line of thinking I started to read Quitter by Jon Acuff and will blog about it when I finish the book).  I started asking myself, “is mine a story that is one others should be invited to participate in?” once the book raised this question.

In addressing this question, thoughts drift to The FENX (how can it not?)  I think of how that part of the my story touches and relates to so many other parts and is the fulfilment of some aspects (like wishing I were a superhero).  It’s also something that so many have been invited to be part of.  From Carl Sears and his wife Sheila at NBC to Brad Mates at Facing Life Head On; from radio show hosts Aleksander Danilov, Rick Amato, Anthony DiMiggaio, and Armstrong Williams to writers like Kate Tumerello and Roll Call newspaper.  Even two wonderful ladies who work at NASA and have become good friends of mine (one I actually went to high school with).  Not to mention friends in DC that find themselves part of the crazy incidents that happen on a regular basis and become wondrous tales.  It isn’t just my story anymore; they’ve all been invited to be part of it, and in accepting it’s become part of their story too.  One of the pastors at National Community Church once said that “everyone had that friend on college that was the crazy one that stuff happened to all the time; you either wanted to be around them or run from them because of that.”  I am fortunate to have friends that haven’t run away yet.

There’s still much ground to cover any always improvements to be made, and some of them monumental ones, but yes, I think my life to be a story worth living on the whole of it.  Remember that a good story requires intense conflict and perseverance – the road of The Greater Miracle is unpaved and sparsely trod – the Apostle Paul speaks to this in Romans 5:3-5 for a reason, venturing into the realm of suffering where Yoda dared not go.

What sort of story is your life, is it one that people want to be a part of?  Are you inviting people to be part of it?