Friday, January 23, 2009

The Big Surprise


This has to be the best surprise ever...except maybe Denise calling me when I was in the States and telling me that we are going to have another baby...a baby whose due date is the day before Mercy turns one!

God is good!

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Packaging


I am waiting to go to the airport, loaded down with suitcases. I have 180 pounds of stuff packed into two suitcases and a carry-on. I went to the States with one change of clothes in my carry-on and everthing else was empty. While there, I purchased presents for all the kids for all of their birthdays and for Christmas next year! Not to mention about five pounds of Starbucks :) .



But, I had a huge problem. When I laid out all of the stuff that I had purchased, there was NO WAY it was going to fit into my suitcases. It was impossible. So, what was I to do?

I took everything out of the packaging. Guess what I discovered? The packaging was about 90% of the size and over 50% of the weight. I was able to get 10 boxes in the same space as one box with packaging. I started laughing at myself, and then started thinking about packaging.

What is the purpose of packaging?

1. It is to get your attention. The packages were always bright, cheerful, with photos of very happy people using the product or of really cool toys in neat environments. In every case, the first thing that I saw was the package.

2. It is to compete with others. There (at least in North America) was always more than one supplier of the product that I wanted, or more than one type of the product. The package was to get me to choose over other guys.
3. It is to portray an image. This goes back to #1, but the purpose of the package was to make me think that if I had this product, my life would be better...period. One thing that I noticed was that the package was really disconnected from the product. In other words, the package made the product look better or seem better than it was. The package was bigger, brighter, shinier and heavier than the product. For example, I purchased one headset for a phone. The package was approximately 8*10*2 or 160 square inches. It was a professional, sleek looking silver and blue box with glossy photos of a happy housewife and a successful businessman using the product and getting results. The packages weighed about 1 1/2 pounds and just conveyed this image of greatness. After I removed the dull black headset, it took up about 2 square inches of my suitase and weighed about 3 ounces. If you didn't know better, you would think that the product advertised by the package was not the same product that was in the package.

I was tearing into a huge toy box with a lot of yellow and shiny photos of the happiest kids in the world, and I thought of this in regards to our lives.
One of the things that we do in our lives is focus on image. We do this on the macro and the micro level of living. Image is more important than content. We do all that we can to look good, to appear good, etc. For example, why are so many people in trouble with consumer debt like cars and credit cards? Because we want to look like we can afford items (image) that in reality we cannot (content). We wear clothes with specific names and shop at certain stores, not because of better products (content) but because of image. A quick example of this on the macro level would be many of the churches that we go to. We rarely choose a church based mainly upon its theological content and Bible teaching. We go for the fanfair of image and programming. We will put up with mediocre Bible if the music is great. We will even sit through boring teaching if the kids have fun. Image is more than content. But...isn't it the content that really matters? What is it that we are sacrificing on both micro and macro levels for the sake of packaging?
Why do we concentrate on image instead of content.
I think that we want to be noticed. Rather than rest in the loving arms of God and our identity in Christ, we seek to have others accept us. We package our lives in such a way that the packaging will attract attention. People will see us. People will like us. But, unfortunately, like the toys on the shelf in Wal Mart, it isn't the product (the real us) that people see and like. It is the shiny package of someone pretending to have fun. Our desire to be chosen by people takes our focus off being chosen by God.
Another reason is that we see ourselves in competetion with others rather than in service to them. We compete for attention (see above), for promotions, for everything from the reward at work to the love of our children. So, we have to package ourselves in a way that makes us look better (not be better, but look better) than those we see ourselves in competition with. This makes us spend a lot of time looking at others and trying to conquer them than looking at Christ and living as more than conquerers.
However, the sad thing about this is that in our hearts we know what the content really is. We know that behind the glossy photos, shiny plastic and bright colors we are really just a broken item. This is why Jesus died for us. Not so that we would pretend to be better than we are, but so that He could recreat, repair, and refinish the brokenness.
When you realize this...that Jesus died for the REAL YOU, not for the PACKAGED YOU...there is such liberty. You can stop the ratrace and the image portrayal and just start letting Jesus form you into the person that He wants.
A lot of lessons from a playdough package....but I think that there is tremendous truth here. Why not cut yourself free from all the fanfair and just be loved by God.
Just A Thought,
Joe

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Monday, January 19, 2009

Hello From WV To My Family

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