Debunking the term: “Out of the Box”

This entry has no spiritual significance, its just an opinion editorial.

Can we put an end to the phrase “out of the box?” or at least come up with a better way of expressing it?

The term out of the box is over-over-used. It’s an insult to clichés to call it cliché. Its phenomenally unoriginal, and yet millions of people still say it to announce their originality “Let’s think of something more ‘out of the box.” or “This idea is really outside of the box!” or “I think out of the box.” Really? Because you just used a phrase that was 1980s execu-speak. Its like a baby-boomer dressing in a disco suit and trying to blend in with a group of teenagers at Prom 2011 by announcing “I’m Fly.”

Russel Brand hosted SNL this past week and he made a great joke. He said “You should know that I’m much more famous in England than I am here…I take no pleasure in telling you that; it’s embarrassing! Fame really looses it’s edge if you have to tell someone that you have it.” Telling someone you’re creative in a profoundly uncreative way really takes the edge off of your creativity. So the next time you’re thinking of saying “I like to think outside of the box.” instead you should demonstrate that you’re creative; we need to see this ‘free thinking’ that you’re talking about.

Besides, at this point we’ve probably gotten out of and totally away from the box. Einstein, one of the smartest men to ever live, said this:

“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” – Albert Einstein

We got out of the box decades ago and it created new problems – now it might be time for something more revolutionary – more difficult; you may actually have to get back in the box to solve this next part. You’ve already changed your perspective, now you might need to change you.

When people say think “out of the box” they often mean “ignore the parameters” which sounds great until you wake up the next morning and realize the parameters are still there. I believe a true divergent thinker doesn’t ignore the parameters, he bends them to create something that no one thought could be done.

Me? I like to think outside of the dodecahedron. It’s harder to say, but I think it gets the point across.

Try thinking outside of this thing.

For the next cool device, have a look see at Looxcie

The Looxcie LX1 wearable camcorder is one of the coolest devices that you never knew you needed.

Not much larger than the normal Bluetooth headset, the Looxcie is a Bluetooth enabled camcorder that records what you see. Why bluetooth enabled? Well, with the appropriate app, this small wonder can be used to record to your smartphone for easy sharing over email and social networking sites. You can also use your phone as a viewfinder to easily see exactly what your looxcie is capturing.

One of the coolest features of this device is that you don’t have to hit record to capture something. Looxcie is always recording and anytime something cool happens you just tap the ‘instant clip’ button to save a clip of the last 30 seconds. So if you see something awesome just tap the button and you’ve got a clip to share. Hold the button for 3 seconds and it’ll automatically send the clip to a predesignated email address over your phone’s data connection. You can record clips directly to your phone of up to 30 minutes in length.

At the end of the day you attach looxcie to your USB connection on your Mac (because you don’t have a PC, right?) and transfer all the video recorded that day. The looxcie records up to 5 hours of footage and when 5 hours is up it automatically starts deleting the oldest footage – so you’ll always have the last five hours the your device was powered on for. (be sure to turn it off in the restroom, just sayin.)

It also functions as a bluetooth headset for your phone and it automatically mutes the audio you’re recording if you take a call while taking video. So how much for all these features in a tiny futuristic package? This little device is priced at $199.

Downsides? I can see a few. The biggest is the video quality: 480p which will look ok on youtube, but on an HDTV it’ll look pretty poor. In the sample video you can clearly see that the tiny CMOS chip has a pretty significant rolling shutter effect, which is to be expected, but is a bigger problem than most cameras since you’re wearing the device on your head. What this means is that when you shift your head quickly in any direction, you get a distinct ‘jell-o frame’ effect that looks pretty nauseating.  At first glance the price seems pretty reasonable but its still a $200 camera that gets lower quality than most $200 pocket cameras. (a la Flip Ultra HD)

Cool things you could do with this? Many. Pretty much anytime where it’d be cool to get a person’s POV of an event you can capture it with this device. Any time you’re somewhere and something cool could happen any minute, but you don’t know when – just hit the instant clip button and you have a clip of it saved to your phone. I’d like to wear one while playing frisbee and watch the whole game from my perspective. Do a whole sunday with lots of people wearing these and intercut the footage to make a highlight video. Youth videos? Awesome. Skiing videos? Awesome. Recap videos? Awesome.

 

Some features I’d like to see added in the next version? The main thing is HD video. You can tell that they’re just trying this device out. It’ll be serious when it goes HD. Next I’d like to see an image stabilizer to make up for the rolling shutter CMOS chip.  And finally I’d like to see them make a waterproof version. Imagine swimming around wearing one of these, or taking it water skiing? Awesome. So yeah, I’m excited about the possibilities here.

Don’ you go rounin’ roun to Re Ro

Its been a while since I just posted a goofy video and this one is the funniest think I’ve see on SNL in a long time. I love trailer parodies because it lets the audience fill in their own ideas of what the plot to the movie would be like if the parody were played out.

Quote for the day: Love

On Valentine’s day (or as people like me call it “Single Awareness Day”) I thought it would be appropriate to post a quote on what I think is one of the best definitions of love I’ve heard recently. It was asserted by a former math professor at Asbury. Dr. Rietz was never one of my professors, but I consider him a friend. See what you think about this quote:

Love, real love, is the aggressive pursuit of God’s best for someone else. – Dr. Ken Rietz

Love is often viewed as an emotion – when its really an aggressive pursuit.

Debunking the term: “Real”

I’ve heard lots of people talk about a need to get ‘real’ so I thought this would be a good choice for my first edition of ‘debunking the term’

Where have I heard ‘Real’

Lots of Christians talk about getting ‘real’ – they talk about certain churches being ‘real’ and certain preachers being ‘real’ – Specifically, churches that are more contemporary in their style are usually called ‘real’ – does that mean that traditional churches are fake? Certainly they can be, but I don’t think they have to be as a rule – I’ve been to some contemporary services where people were pretty fake.

Some will also use the term ‘real’ – when they’re talking about people; saying about a preacher ‘he’s just so real!’ or of their church ‘the people there are real.’

The problem is people don’t really mean ‘real.’

What I think people mean by ‘Real’

Most often when someone says ‘real’ they actually mean ‘understandable’ or ‘accessible to me.’ That’s why to some, real is rap music whereas to others its country; it’s just that with which they most identify. Some people say ‘real’ and what they mean is that they can simply understand it. That’s why when a pastor gets up and starts using lots of theological terms and obscure scripture references – some people might not think of him as ‘real’ – when if fact he is no less ‘real’ than the preacher that only refers to the most basic scriptures and tells funny stories about the crazy things he did when he was in college. Neither person is faking it; they’re both telling the truth.

The Problem with being “Real”

By calling something ‘real.’ You’re inferring that the alternatives are less than real, but this isn’t the only unintended implication of this phrase. I’ve been in situations where I’ve heard Christians say ‘we just want to get real’ or ‘we need to be real with each other.’ In this instance it means they want ‘no holds barred’ honesty, which is way overrated. Think about it:

  • Maybe you are ok with airing out the skeletons in your closet, but that doesn’t mean that its good, necessary or healthy for everyone else to do the same. While we are told to confess our sins to one another – we’re not told to confess our every sin to the whole community. Transparency is good – sharing each others burdens is great – presenting stumbling blocks for others by sharing your innermost secrets with people not mature enough to handle them… not so much
  • Often when a larger (20+) community gets into a pattern of sharing its most intimate secrets with everyone people begin to one-up each other with tragedies and sins – each week you’ll have people who want to sound more and more pitiful.
  • Finally people use this brand of radical honesty as an excuse to be rude, negative or hurtful. I’ve seen it myself and I think its a flagrant misuse of scripture to act as if rudeness is excused by scripture simply because ‘its the truth.’ Nor do I see cynicism in the person of Jesus. If being a consistently negative person is ‘real’ then I don’t believe it’s Christ-like to be ‘real’ by that definition. Bear in mind, “kind words are like honey–sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.” Proverbs 16:24

Here’s what is Real:

It is possible to live a life focused on the path that God has laid out for us. I’ve known many people who live this life – I aspire to be one of them. Would Christ ask us to do something impossible when he said “Be Holy as I am Holy?” (1 Peter 1:16) Impossible for us, certainly, but aren’t we also told that we can do all things through Christ? (Philippians 4:13) What force is more powerful: our sinful nature or God’s ability to sanctify?  – To say ‘all have sinned’ is only half the reality – the other half? Jesus died to free us from sin.  The scripture states ‘all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God’ (Romans 3:23) it doesn’t say “All will continue to sin….” – its past tense. Freedom from sin – that’s real.

I got my Confidence at Wal-mart!

I did a search on Amazon.com and there are around 8,000 books available for purchase that are on the subject of confidence. The listed categories of books range from business to Arts & Photography (“Drawing with confidence”) – it appears the everyone wants confidence in what they do. One of the popular statistics that’s been thrown around lately involves this subject. In an international study of teenagers it was found that (no surprise) American teens are bad at Math – some of the worst in the world apparently. What makes this statistic interesting is that American teenagers scored the highest in another area: Confidence. The same group of people that scored lowest in math scored highest in confidence.

The reason is clear – when my generation started arriving on the scene back in 1984 many of our parents and teachers decided that it was important that we be confident so they worked hard to make us feel good about ourselves regardless of what we were actually capable of. They gave us ribbons for participating even if we did a terrible job. They had people come to our schools who did magic tricks, gymnastics and motivational talks all of whom told us to be confident. They told us if we believe in ourselves that we can achieve our dreams as long as we just be ourselves because we’re unique and wonderful. This, of course, is total crap, but it actually accomplished something: many of us believed it and we developed disproportionate and totally unfounded confidence.

I’ve worked with some very talented people over the years, but the most impressive human trait I’ve seen is humility when coupled with skill. That’s because to be humble while possessing great ability is to be Christ-like.

“In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.

And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!”

Philippians 2:1-8

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having confidence, in fact I think that its safe to say that anyone who really succeeds has a healthy measure of it. I think that the real issue with confidence isn’t as much about having the right amount as much as it is getting it from the right place and putting it in the right person. You can put confidence in yourself, your parents, your pastor, your boss, your job, your spouse, your spouse’s job, your children, the government, your school, your sports team, your car, technology, your favorite author, a diet, your favorite news station… and the list goes on and on. As I said there’s nothing wrong with confidence. Look at these two verses from first Corinthians:

“Therefore, as it is written: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.” 1 Cor 1:31

“Such confidence we have through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God.” 1 Cor 3:4-5

I’m going to say something that might sound crazy to us americans. I believe that God basically doesn’t want us to have confidence in ourselves. I know that sounds crazy to some of us. He doesn’t want us to hate ourselves either – he wants us to have self respect; to believe that we’re vessels capable of containing the holy spirit. But he wants our confidence to be in him and him alone so that he can do through us things that we never thought were possible. Its like Oswald Chambers says:

‎”We can only be used by God after we allow Him to show us the deep, hidden areas of our own character. It is astounding how ignorant we are about ourselves!” – O.Chambers

Our ability to accomplish the work of God is directly corollary to our surrender to him; until we submit to him we have no way of knowing what we’re truly capable of. To reach that place of surrender our confidence needs to come from God and it needs to be placed back in God alone. But we have to believe we’re capable of being use by God – that his power can work in us and that it can overcome the challenges around us. Look at Peter when when Jesus calls to him to walk on water:

And He said, “Come!” And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Matthew 14:29-30

Based on this, I’d propose that confidence is a cycle. We submit to God and he gives us confidence saying “I’m giving you this task because I made you capable of doing this and I will strengthen you” we then say “I can only do this because God is strengthening me.” therefore we submit to God and he continues to strengthen us.

Just the other day I was talking to a friend who’s had an exciting, but daunting opportunity put before him. He admitted as the time drew nearer that he was getting nervous. He said he wasn’t sure he could do it. I told him that I didn’t think that he could either. That might sound like I was being a bad friend or just hurtfully honest, but I also said that I believed that God could do it through him. I told him that he’s having those nervous feelings is God’s way of drawing him closer. If you feel like you can’t do something that you’ve been called to do, maybe that’s because you can’t – and you need to realize that before you can let God do it through you.

False confidence can come from lots of places. And whether I buy the fitness magazine “Get in shape and everything will fall in place” myth or the Wizard of Oz “you had it all along” myth or the motivational speaker “you can do anything if you follow your dream” myth, I’ll never reach my full potential until I put my confidence in Christ.

“For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13

Quote: Dedication and Failure

I think one of the greatest failings in my generation is impatience and a lack of true dedication. We tend to pick a cause or project and chase after that for a stint, and at the first major failure we’ll give up and decide that we’re not chasing after the right goal. I’ve seen it in others, I’ve seen it in myself. The great film director, Cecil B.  De Mille said

“Most of us serve our ideals by fits and starts. The person who makes a success of living is one who sees his goal steadily and aims for it unswervingly. That’s dedication.” – Cecil B. De Mille

This reminded me of something Craig Groeschel said at catalyst this year

“This generation over estimates what God wants to do with them in the short term and under estimates what God wants to do in the long term.”  – Craig Groeschel

I know some people that at a young age are already angry because they haven’t reached celebrity status in their field. I think one of the greatest failures a young person can have is thinking that I have already reached a place where I no longer have any major lessons to learn. This mindset means that failure comes as a total shock and complete disappointment. Whereas a resilient, dedicated individuals remember Thomas Edison’s quote regarding his efforts with creating the first lightbulb.

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas Edison

My 3 rules for watching movies.

In my adult life, I have been called ‘stupid’ by a peer only twice. Both incidences involved a Christian who was commenting on my opinion regarding what kind limits Christians should put media they consume. In both cases I was defending why I thought some popular movie shouldn’t be owned or regularly viewed by a Christian. I’m not someone who gets a kick out of stirring the pot, but it was obvious in both cases I’d struck a nerve.

As a Christian who enjoys observing, critiquing and participating in popular culture I try to not set arbitrary rules – I look to scripture. Here are my personal guidelines and the reasoning behind each. While I’ve probably broken them all at some point, I can say that I’ve never been sorry when I follow them. I’m talking about movies, but they can really be applied to all forms of media.

  • I do not go see R-rated movies in the theater unless I am recommended it by someone who I know holds my same values. This may seem prudish, but the reason is two fold: First, what if you get caught walking towards that theater by someone who is struggling or is young in their faith – what if they happen to know the kind of content in the movie you’re about to see is not God-honoring? You wouldn’t want to cause someone to stumble. (Mark 9:42). Second, if you go to see that movie and you see something that you shouldn’t, it will effect you and you can’t unsee it, where as If you watch the movie at home you can skip parts of it. (Job 31:1) I recognize that I’m very unusual in this way as statistically, Christians are just as likely to go to an R-rated film as non-christians.
  • I don’t watch any movies with frontal nudity. The reason is simple: Ephesians 5:2 – no hint of sexual impurity. This one seems like a no-brainer to me, but when I told a Christian friend that I wouldn’t watch a particular movie because it had a number of nude scenes in it, he flipped. He said “Just because of that you’re going to miss a great movie.” Just because of that. Just because I’m trying to take the scripture seriously. I don’t do this because I think I’m better than anyone – I do it because I know I’m a sinner; I know the effect those movies have on me and I know I’m not the only one.
  • Finally, I try not to buy any any movies that I’d have to throw out if I ever had children – I thought this was just a good rule to have about life in general. What if all single young adults lived life as if one day they might have to sit down with their children and explain everything they had ever done. What if people began preparing for parenthood before they got married? You wouldn’t just have better parents, you’d have more responsible people – even if they never had kids. I told a Christian friend of mine about this philosophy and that’s when I got called stupid. I’m not going to write a whole manifesto to defend myself on this. I just don’t believe that it is stupid to live a life filled with a desire to be responsible, to be selfless, to be above reproach and to maintain the child-like state of innocence Jesus talks about in Matthew 18.

I’ll quote again from my favorite Pauline epistle:

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8

No matter what you’re doing in life, if you’re not sure if you’re on track with Christ, read this passage and ask – is this me? I do it all the time and honestly most of the time the answer is “no, not really.” – That’s where I know things need to change.

All In

I’m not a big poker player but on occasion I have caught clips of professional poker being played on ESPN7. I remember seeing part of a championship game of Texas Hold ‘em that had one particular player who was known for going ‘All In’ in almost every game he played. Apparently it worked – he made it all the way to the championship game using this method. In poker, when you go all in it forces everyone else in the game to do one of two things: they have to go all in or they have to get out of the game.

Today, the senior pastor at Frazer issued a challenge to the members of the Frazer Family; he asked that in 2011, all of our members choose to go all in for Jesus. Much in the same way that poker player did in every game, we have to decide if we’re going to take the plunge – take the risk and invest all we have in Christ.

The average American church-goer would probably tell you that the Christian life isn’t terribly difficult because we generally still get to have our comfortable, safe lives. That’s not the picture that Paul gives us in 1st Corinthians:

“If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.” 1 Corinthians 15:19

The early Christians were so invested in Christ that if it were all a hoax, they would have been men to be pitied. They knew that to be all in, they would have to give of themselves such that everyone around them saw the sacrifice in their life. It reminds me of something a friend of mine posted on his facebook page, I don’t know where he first heard it, but he said

“The kingdom isn’t advanced by technological progress, military tactics, or economic growth. The kingdom is advanced by sacrifice”

To be all in means to sacrifice. Many people have asked Jesus to be their Savior, but have they decided to be all in for him? I’ll leave you with the words of “I have decided to follow Jesus.” You may not know that this song is attributed to Sadhu Sundar Singh, a man who was born in India. He grew up in an entirely different religion until he had a vision of Jesus one night. When he converted to Christianity, his family forced him out of the house, only after his father tried to poison him. He witnessed for Christ for the rest of his life. Think about the sacrifice that he made – how he went all in, as you read these words.

I have decided to follow Jesus;
I have decided to follow Jesus;
I have decided to follow Jesus;

No turning back, no turning back.
Though I may wonder, I still will follow;
Though I may wonder, I still will follow;
Though I may wonder, I still will follow;
No turning back, no turning back.
The world behind me, the cross before me;
The world behind me, the cross before me;
The world behind me, the cross before me;
No turning back, no turning back.
Though none go with me, still I will follow;
Though none go with me, still I will follow;
Though none go with me, still I will follow;
No turning back, no turning back.

Music Video Friday: That’s not my name

The Ting Tings are a group from the UK who have made a big splash over the past few years – their song ‘great DJ’ has appeared in numerous movie trailers and shampoo ads. This particular song got stuck in my head yesterday and now I can’t get it out. Fair warning: 1) The refrain does have the word ‘hell’ in it, so it may not be a good one to play around the kiddos if you don’t want them repeating it later. 2) If you listen to this it will be stuck in your head for at least three days.

you’ve been warned.

I love the simplicity of the way this is shot: A turn table and a white background for most of it. The energy comes from the editing and the angles. It also shows the different musical layers visually in the latter part of the song. There’s some cool techniques applied here.