Posts Tagged ‘Mark Batterson’

When GI-JOE:  Real American Hero premiered in the early 80’s as a television companion to already published comic-books, viewers were introduced to an eclectic cast of characters comprising the ranks of both “The Joes:  America’s Highly Trained Special Mission Force” and “Cobra:  an evil terrorist organization determined to rule the world.”  One of the craftier villainous characters was Destro, a partner to Cobra Commander in his nefarious plots at world domination and destruction who wore a metal mask.  Born James McCullen Destro, of Scottish clan McCullen, Destro was the founder and CEO of Military Armament Research Systems (MARS) Industries, a weapons manufacturer whose technology and profits often fueled Cobra’s evil missions of terror and world-domination, as clan McCullen had long been the suppliers of weapons in various conflicts throughout history (imagine an evil Tony Stark/Iron Man).  As such, Destro uses his wealth, position, and influence for evil and does so willingly.  Nevertheless, he would, and sometimes did, work against Cobra if it is in his interest as ultimately Destro served himself.

Recently, in a sermon at National Community Church, Mark Batterson told the story of a Scottish man named Thomas McClellen who was born in 1837.  In 1857, at age 20, young Thomas made a covenant with God in which he pledged all that he had, all that he was, and all that he might become to the service of the Heavenly Father and the cause of His kingdom.   Thirty years later, at 50, McClellen recommitted himself to this covenant and did so a third time at age 70.  At present, five generations of the McClellen family have followed in the footsteps of their ancestor and philanthropically distributed millions of dollars through grants to many people and organizations fueled by the Gospel to make the world a better place.  Thomas McClellen was the “anti-Destro” and left a legacy that needs no mask, metal or otherwise.

As you walk through the world, what sort of legacy remains in your wake?

Sometimes crazy ideas find their way into our minds.  A few days ago I caught one of those.  Last week, I finished leading a small group at National Community Church (NCC) that read through Pastor Mark Batterson‘s The Circle Maker (In full disclosure Mark is the Pastor at NCC).  In our final meeting as a small group, we embarked on an exercise of creating a list of Life Goals; things we’d like to have accomplished by the time our lives come to an end.  Personally I think it’s much wiser to start thinking about this at 29, or even earlier, as opposed to a later time.  In The Circle Maker, Pastor Mark has some pretty interesting life goals: making a movie, speaking at a commencement, and writing a New York Times Bestseller to name a few (which he has done with The Circle Maker).

Over the last few weeks I’ve spent some time watching a number of TED Talks, presentations given on various topics by leaders and innovators in different fields, who have ideas worth spreading or stories worth telling.  It could be someone talking about mobile technology and it’s uses in locating people as part of disaster relief, a discussion about Moore’s Law and continuing upward trends in technology, imparting the art of storytelling though enabling technology, the power of secrets, or even the energy future of our planet as impacted by a teenager who wanted to create a fission reaction in their garage and built a reactor to do it.  It’s impassioned people sharing their ideas and perspective on life to impact culture and inspiring people to think about the world around them.  Last week as I was working on this “Bucket List” of sorts I realized that one of my goals should be (and now is) to share my journey, and the story of the FENX, at a TED conference; to impart to that group of influencers the value of an individual life and how such a life forged by challenging experiences is enabled to see the world in a different light, and thus embark on a somewhat accidental quest to revolutionize the lives of others via unique mobility solutions.  To share what many see as a story of hope, courage, and family.

But it doesn’t end there.  After processing this thought on TED, something in me said “Why not an audience of 10,000?”  My inner geek immediately reacted “10,000?!  You could almost buy your own ship for that!” But why not 10,000?  Why not consider it a goal to be able to share this same story with a single audience of 10,000 people at a single event?  It could certainly happen; audiences of 1,000 and 3,500 happened in college and there was less story to tell then.

So here’s to “10,000 and TED”, right up there on the List with “writing a book by the time I am 35” and quite a bit higher than “Attending San Diego Comic-Con”

Riding Towards Eternity,

Aaron

To break the chains of routine or elude the bonds of habit, sometimes people do something spontaneous, acting on a whim.  It’s never been better captured than in the words of Sheldon Cooper on The Big Bang Theory:  “What’s Life without Whimsy?”  I did a bit of that this week when I decided to give blood for the first time.  I know it doesn’t sound all that earth shattering, but when you’re the one who tried to give blood in High School and were told “there’s not enough ‘you’ in you” – I think the reference was to a lack of mass multiplied by the acceleration of gravity, not a lack of awesome – then being of the proper combination of those two components is “kinda a big deal”.

My apprehension grew when I started investigating the whole procedure, wanting to make sure that I wasn’t missing a step somewhere.  Asking a donor to bring a list of all the pills you’re currently taking gave me pause as I scribbled it all out on a post-it I ended up not needing (thought that might knock me out of the running – first physics, now biology…you’d think I hated science, but then there are probably folks who would want my blood for the very reason of what was in it…).  Is it bad when one of the volunteers tells you they’re ready to start and you’re not because you are intently reading the list of medications to make sure you aren’t taking something that would prevent you from donating?   (At least my Mom will smile and laugh internally if she ever reads that; because I almost always read that sort of stuff…comprehension is another matter.)  Then came the questions.  Some folks are probably glad that you answer them on a computer because answering yes to some of that stuff to another person could be embarrassing, then again if I answered those questions the person asking might think I grew up in Puritania, Peralandra, or some other non-Earth place that CS Lewis wrote about (hint: I think that really only leaves one).

Lifting myself into the big black bed-chair, much to the surprise of the volunteer who was content to stick a huge needle in my arm, I recalled the exclamation of Wedge Antilles in Star Wars Episode IV upon seeing the Death Star:  “Look at the size of that thing” – it was quite the needle.  I was just glad there was so “Echo Base, this is Rouge Two, I’ve found ’em” in connection to trying to find a workable vein.  I guess there IS an advantage to being small and “Hobbit-ish”  Watching the application of the iodine brought back many memories from hospital days gone by, but the person working on me thought I was a bit too fixated there, I told her not to worry. It was at this moment I considered asking her to do a Midichlorian count; if the Force really was strong with this one, we’d know why, but I held my tongue.  (If I had asked, and she thought I had some mental condition I am pretty sure it wasn’t going to be “Awesome-itis” – no matter how often I would be ok with such a diagnosis.)

As the life began to flow out of me in hopes of one day helping to give the same to another in great need of it, I couldn’t help but think of the statement in Leviticus 17:  “The Life is in The Blood…” and the old hymn “There’s Power in the Blood”.  When the process was over, I certainly felt different, like something had honestly left me.  I began to understand in a small way the miracle that was Christ healing the women who had been suffering from bleeding for twelve years, understanding a bit better when Christ asked, “who touched Me?” because He felt something leave him and be imparted to the woman.  What’s more, and this is the most obvious one, you gain a bit more perspective on why Christians celebrate Easter when you do this:  give of yourself in this way to help save another.  Mere luck this experience happened during Lent?  As Obi-Wan wisely quipped” “In my experience there’s no such thing as luck”  As Ken Rudolph taught me years ago at Lake Ann Camp:  the words of Revelation 12:7 “And they overcame the Dragon by the blood of the Lamb…”

My pastor, Mark Batterson, has talked more than once about this idea of ‘The Tribe of the Transplanted”:  a concept coined by Charles Siebert after witnessing heart transplants.  He uses this term to describe how those who have been given successful heart transplants feel a deeper appreciation for life and how they often take on the desires of the person the transplant came from.  It’s crazy to think about, but I wonder if it ever works with transfusions too, and if some of my love for life and things like Heroes and making the most of the time I have on Jarsoom (Earth) could get passed to another as a positive cotangent in some sort of metaphysical miracle.  Don’t know, but it’s fun to ruminate on, much like thinking about sound waves at the edge of the Cosmos still creating because of God speaking the universe into existence and the properties of such waves.

Who knows what might happen next time, but there is always adventure in the little things if you look for it…

Two days from now I will be sitting at a table with (almost) my entire family eating turkey, enjoying their company, and reflecting on what I’ve been thankful for in 2010. It’s been a tough year in some respects, just like the previous year was. It’s sometimes easy for me to let the things that happen to me which are difficult or downright unjust crowd out everything else. I’ve learned a lot of hard lessons in 2010, lessons which the Master of the Universe sees fit to have me learn, lessons about identity; contentment; perseverance; trust; and owning who you are – embracing one’s destiny and calling no matter where it may lead, knowing it can alter and morph, even if it puts you in places you’d rather not be and you reside there longer than you want, often facing things which seek to damage the core of who you are, to diminish the person you are wired to be.

Passengers hate it when they are flying on a big commercial airplane and the captain comes over the speaker system to inform them the tower on the ground has put them in a holding pattern, forcing all those passengers on board to have to wait longer to reach their destination – and not one of the passengers on the plane has the power to change what is happening to them; the ultimate authority in air traffic gives a directive and it puts a wrench in things – I say this as someone who is flying home to celebrate thanksgiving and I’ll be at the airport a dozen hours from now. This is just on a plane; imagine such a scenario invading the rest of your life and not just your travel plans.

Sometimes I feel like screaming the same thing Anakin Skywalker did about Obi-Wan Kenobi (but in reference to God instead): “He’s holding ME back!” or “I can be a Jedi, Ben, tell him I can be a Jedi, I’m ready”. God just looks at me sometimes and, much like Yoda did to Luke Skywalker, lifts and eyebrow and queries ‘Ready?! Ready are you, what know YOU of ready?’ I’m pretty sure He does this because He’s Sovereign – He is the Master of the Universe after all – He spoke it all into being, neat when you consider the properties of sound and how it travels – there is no fate…but what He allows. Though I am eager, He knows I am not ready for what is next. Considering some of what I’ve been allowed to go through so far in twenty-eight short years and the trials I’ve overcome, this idea is still hard to grapple with and find peace in the midst of; enter The FENX Project.

The FENX Project is many things: an idea, a dream, a vehicle, advancement, an adventure, a shield, an extension of identity, and an incredible expression of love from father to son. Lately, it has become an alter; specifically, an Altar of Remembrance. In the Old Testament, Jehovah instructed the Children of Israel to often construct alters of remembrance so as to recall the provision and safety which He provided them at various times throughout their history. Pastor Mark Batterson of National Community Church (where I happened to attend in Washington, DC) often discusses this in the context of how humanity often remembers the things they should forget and forgets the things they should remember. Most of the time these alters are immobile while the FENX is quite the opposite.

The FENX Project has sovereignty written all over it. From the circumstances surrounding its inception (and yes my actions did firmly implant the idea in my father’s mind) to seeing it on National TV this year. Just the story of how it came to be on TV – which I’ve recounted on this blog in the past – is a total orchestration by the Master of the Universe, no question. Something like being featured on the blog for The ForceCast (the Star Wars podcast) is indeed beyond what I can ask or imagine – which is the realm the Master of the Universe often orchestrates from – although I can imagine quite a bit (to use Han Solo’s words).

Yet, in the midst of all of this, driving around in a living alter, I struggle. Control is such a difficult thing to relinquish, to be reliant upon Another when you were raised to be independent and to reach for the stars. Yet, this is what is asked of me at present to wait till the timing is right to see more of the FENX on TV and in print – to take the story of the FENX and my adventure to other places and talk of what the Master of the Universe has done; to move on in life to a place of sure footing, of solid ground; this is my hope for 2011, though I do not see it…yet. Presently, all I see is the past as I drive my mobile altar through the fog of uncertainty and into the future – focusing on the Undiscovered Country ahead of me.

Riding Towards Eternity,

Aaron