God’s Big Adventure Book Signing

Book Signing

I’m super-excited to announce that I’ll be signing copies of God’s Big Adventure at one of my favorite places in the world, Daily Offerings Coffee Roastery, located in downtown Lexington, across from Rupp Arena.   I’ll be there from 2:00 – 4:00 pm, Saturday, October 24th, signing books and hanging out.  If you haven’t had a chance to pick up a copy of God’s Big Adventure, we’ll have plenty on hand.

Daily Offerings is run by an amazing Christian family and offers the best coffee I’ve ever had in my life.  No exaggeration.  If you haven’t had a chance to check it out yet, this is a great excuse.  I hope you can join me there on the 24th!

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A Profile Picture Worth a Thousand Words

photo (36)

Image: ‘You Always Make Me Smile’ http://www.flickr.com/photos/11248435@N04/8068554087
Found on flickrcc.net

You can tell a lot about a person from their Facebook profile picture.  I’m talking about that postage stamp size photo that accompanies every status update and adorns their wall.  Most of them fall into seven major categories that reveals far more about the person than they intended.

The Casual Snapshot

This is the classic Facebook profile pic.  It says one of three things about that person:

  1. Hey, this is me, an average Joe on an average day.
  2. I worked for hours and took at least 20 pictures to look like an average Joe on on an average day.
  3. My wife stuck this on here.

The Punchline

This is anything funny.  A rubber chicken, an amusing celebrity (think Richard Simmons or Mr. T), a silly expression or outlandish costume.  This one says,

  1. I don’t take myself too seriously.
  2. I hide my insecurity behind a mask of humor.
  3. I really am Richard Simmons or Mr. T.

The Wishful Thinker

The Wishful Thinker takes many forms.  It may be a studio picture, wedding photo or other professional portrait.  The picture taken twenty years or twenty pounds ago also falls into this category.  A variation of this is the sultry glamour shot with special lighting and a feather boa.   This one says:

  1. I value Facebook and only want to give my friends my best.
  2. I’m living in denial.
  3. I’m living in denial.

The Long Shot

In the Long Shot the person is too far away from the camera to make out any distinguishing features.  This one tells me:

  1. I am proud of the landscape around me.
  2. All of my friends have incredible eyesight.
  3. I don’t know how to crop a picture.

The Couple Pose

The Couple Pose is one of the most popular by far and the one I personally use.  A variation of the Couple Pose is the Insecure Couple Pose where one of them is physically holding on to the other as if to say, “Mine, mine, mine!”  Either variety tells me:

  1. Back off folks, I’m taken.
  2. I really did find someone to date or marry me and this is photographic evidence.
  3. I finally learned Photoshop and just pasted this random stranger in beside me.

The Kid/Pet Substitute

This one is totally confusing, especially if the person’s name is only vaguely familiar.  These people substitute a picture of their child or pet for a picture of themselves.  This tells me:

  1. I am so proud of my child or pet.
  2. I am not easy on the eyes.
  3. I am a fugitive from justice and don’t want to be identified.

The Family Portrait Shell Game

This is a variation of the Kid/Pet Substitute.  In the Family Portrait Shell Game, the person actually appears in the picture but uses their adorable family to divert attention away from themselves.  It works like this.  Hey, look it’s Frank.  Boy, he’s really put on some weigh-awww, look at those kids!  Wow, Frank has a beautiful family!  It’s a classic bait and switch, a Facebook shell game that any New York city street hustler would recognize in an instant.  This one says:

  1. I’m a genius.
  2. I’m dishonest.
  3. I’m banned from casinos in three states.

Okay, okay, maybe I’m being a bit superficial here.  Maybe you really can’t tell that much about a person from their Facebook profile or any other picture.  Maybe I’m making snap judgments based only on appearance.

Don’t we all?

Online or in real life, how many times do we judge people based purely on what we see on the outside.  We make instant assumptions about the person’s background, education, financial status, likability and general worth.

Fortunately there’s a God who knows us inside out, a God who knows we’re so much more than what meets the eye.  A picture may be a worth a thousand words, but God’s words about you are worth far more than that.

The Bible tells us, “People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”   You are not your weight.  You are not your wrinkles.  You are not your clothes.  You are a unique, beautiful creation of God, a masterpiece crafted by the King of the universe.

Imagine if your Facebook profile picture had no image, just the word “Beautiful,” and beside it, you’ll see that God hasn’t just clicked, “like”, He’s clicked “love” over and over again.  It would be the only accurate and honest picture online.

What’s My Motivation?

They say you never get a second chance at a first impression.  My friend Eric might just agree, but the whole misunderstanding was really our friend Dal’s fault to begin with. 

See, both Dal and Eric love sports, and both of them subscribe to Sports Illustrated, which, as you probably know, publishes their annual swimsuit issue every February.  Dal was flipping through Sports Illustrated one night when he saw a blurb announcing the fact that you can now actually opt out of receiving the swimsuit issue.  You even get the issue credited to your account and everything. 

Let me just digress by saying this is a brilliant move by Sports Illustrated.  It allows them to not alienate their female readers by sending them unrealistic pictures of supermodels in bikinis, and it also allows them to keep their male subscribers who don’t just love sports but also love God, their wives and their kids. 

Now back to Dal.  He was so excited when he read about the Sports Illustrated deal that he called our friend Eric right up and told him the news.  Eric happened to be riding his stationary bike at the time, completely out of breath as he finished his fourth mile.  This would have been no big deal except Eric decided to call Sports Illustrated right away. 

So just imagine this guy, gasping and panting, when the poor Sports Illustrated operator answered the phone.

“Sports Illustrated, may I help you?”

Heavy breathing.  “Yeah, I’m calling about the swimsuit issue.”  Gasp.  Wheeze. 

Suffice it to say that even though he meant well, Eric did not make the best first impression.  I think he’s just lucky she didn’t just hang up on him or call the police. 

You’re probably not as dumb as me and my friends, but have you ever had someone misjudge your motives?  Have you ever been trying to do the right thing, only to have it blow up in your face?

Maybe you offered someone advice about a relationship or their job, but it didn’t go so well.  Now suddenly you’re the bad guy.  Or maybe you were minding your own business, just doing in your best in life, but now somehow someone else’s are all your fault.  If only you were a better spouse, boss or parent, then they wouldn’t be in the jam they’re facing.  At least that’s how they see it.  From your point-of-view, however, all you’ve ever done is try to help them.

If you’ve ever had your motives questioned, you’re in good company.  When David started asking around the battlefield about why no one was willing to stand up to Goliath, his brother accused him of being conceited and wicked.  When Jesus reached out to the marginalized and the poor, the religious leaders accused of being in league with the devil.  When the apostle Paul starting telling the world that Jesus came to give everyone access to God, people tried to kill him time and time again. 

Maybe that’s why the Bible is so down on being judgmental and jumping to conclusions.  It basically says to leave the judging to God because, ultimately, He will expose the motives of men’s hearts.  He’s the only one who really understands them anyway.

If you get off on the wrong foot with someone, don’t sweat it.  Eventually, God will reveal your true character and heart to those who need to see it.  As for the rest, their opinion doesn’t really matter anyway.  You already have a Dad in heaven who knows where you’re coming from.  Of course, you might want to give your accuser the benefit of the doubt too.  After all, you’re no more of an expert on their motives as they are on yours.

So if you happen to be an operator for Sports Illustrated and take a call from a guy on an exercise bike, cut him some slack.  Though a little misguided, he may just be trying to do what’s right.