Archive for March 2014

Big Break or Breakthrough

March 25, 2014

by Steven J. Callis

Reality television has certainly changed over the years, especially since its prominence significantly rose in the 1990’s. We’ve gone from Candid Camera, The Dating Game, and This Old House to Wife Swap, Real Housewives, and Pawn Stars. With this explosion of popularity, the meaning of “reality” has become a bit obscure, and often is a misnomer for shows that are classified as such.

Big Break is a reality show that appeals to golfers, and one that does not appear to be scripted or fake. Non-professional golfers compete for cash, prizes, and the opportunity to play in a PGA or LPGA tour event. Rather than competing in traditional golf matches, contestants are placed in various skills situations playing for immunity from elimination. At the end of each episode, one golfer is eliminated and sent home based on their performance that day.

On a recent episode, 18- year old country girl Dallas Odom, the youngest in Big Break history, was eliminated, and her exit interview was somewhat atypical of most who are determined to continue working and practicing and pursuing their dream of becoming a professional golfer. While she enjoys the game and is confident that she can play with the pros, she’s not certain that it is her dream.

She heard the other girls talking about life on the road and being away from home the majority of the year, and Dallas was raised in a close family atmosphere. “I wasn’t raised like that and I just kinda want to be home and have a family…’cuz this really is just to have money and just have an easy way in life. I’ll take some positives away, but I’m not sure this is really what I want.”

The statement that truly showed her maturity declared that pursuing this dream did not make her as happy as it seemed to make other people. Assessing her values and priorities, home and family are more important than fame and fortune. At this point in her life, she is not certain the risk is worth trying to have both.

Reality shows based on competition create high levels of stress that cause contestants to examine their values and ambitions. Experiencing a taste of that life brings them to count the costs of pursuing the dream. In the same way life’s crises press each of us to honest evaluation of what truly matters to us. The things we value determine the priorities we establish.

When we relax, priorities can easily become askew, causing us to make decisions that are not in line with our values. Crises, difficult as they may be, serve to help us realign our lives with the things we deem most important to us. The apostle Paul advised, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Let’s stay focused on our reality with steady reminders of the things that drive us.

You Might Be a Disciple

March 17, 2014

by Steven J. Callis

I recently attended a funeral where the life and ministry of a saintly woman was celebrated.  At least twice while highlighting her accolades and ideals, speakers clarified that this woman was not a legalist.  In his remarks, the preacher noted that she was in church Sunday mornings, Sunday nights, Wednesday nights, and all revival services, but that her faithfulness was more than a force of habit or legalism – – she just couldn’t get enough of the Lord and His people; she just couldn’t get enough.

As I have pondered that statement, my mind began to imagine…If a company man is an employee who works for the good of the company rather than for mere personal gain or satisfaction, then what is a countryman, or a churchman?  Jeff Foxworthy is famous for his “you-might-be-a-redneck” jokes.  Here is my twist to it: you might be a disciple.

If you research and consult sources other than your Sunday School lesson book to teach or prepare for your class, you might be a disciple.

If you generously give your tithes and offerings rather than giving a token offering or computing the required amount to the exact dollar, you might be a disciple.

If the fact of your conversion is not enough, and you sincerely desire a daily, vibrant walk with Jesus Christ, you might be a disciple.

If you realize that a vibrant walk with Christ necessitates more than a couple of hours each week attending church, you might be a disciple.

If you practice daily spiritual disciplines for the purpose and pursuit of the holy life, you might be a disciple.

If you care about enhancing your knowledge and skills to better understand your ministry focus and implement newly discovered ideas, you might be a disciple.

If you are open to the leadership of the Holy Spirit to move you out of your comfort zone, you might be a disciple.

If prayer is a blessing and not a burden, a privilege and not a necessity, communion with the heavenly Father and not a mere list of demands and wishes, you might be a disciple.

If you consider how your absence from a church service or event might affect your fellow believers, you might be a disciple.

             This certainly does not exhaust the list, but it is a good place to begin personal reflection.  The true “churchman” is committed to the purpose of Christ and His way rather than seeking mere personal gain and satisfaction.  For the disciple, it really is about Him, and not about self.

Happy Birthday Barbara Millicent Roberts!

March 10, 2014

By Steven J. Callis

Happy Birthday, Barbara Millicent Roberts!  At the age of 55, she continues to stand tall in her part of the world, leading quite a life.

She has owned more than 40 pets, including a Panda, a lion cub, dogs, cats, horses, and a zebra.  She served as a flight attendant and holds a pilot’s license.  Among her many careers, Barbara has been an astronaut, a doctor, and a NASCAR driver, an Olympic gymnast, a news anchor, and a teacher of sign language, Spanish, dance, art, and elementary education.

Unlike most of her kind in those early days, Barbie came on the scene as an adult.  Her producer, Ruth Handler, had watched her daughter play with paper dolls, and often giving them adult roles to play.  Mattel was not favorable of the adult doll idea at first, but Ruth returned a year later from a trip to Germany where she purchased 3 “Lilli” dolls.

She gave one of the dolls to her daughter, Barbara, and the other two to Mattel.  Ruth then redesigned her original idea based on “Lilli” and Barbie made her debut at the American International Toy Fair on March 9, 1959.  Mattel bought the rights to Lilli, and many careers, outfits, accessories, and friends later, Barbie still enjoys a high profit following.

She originally sold for around 3 dollars, and nearly 350,000 were purchased in her first year.  So, how much is she worth today?  A mint boxed Barbie from 1959 sold for $3552.50 on eBay in October 2004!  Today’s average Barbie collector is a female in her 40’s who spends nearly $1000 annually purchasing Barbie products.

You may be thinking by now, “This guy knows way too much about dolls!”  Well, I am not a Barbie enthusiast, and the above information is not the result of my personal knowledge of her history.  I do find it remarkable, however, that she has managed to overcome more than 20 law suits and controversies during her lifetime, yet continues to thrive as a profitable, marketable product.

Of course, it is the genius of Mattel that actually managed to fight through the many legal and public relations battles over the years on her behalf.  But consider how many thousands of products have been laid to rest over much less of a fuss.  Apparently, there is something about Barbie’s “character” that continues to win public appeal.

Is there something of your character that holds sway among your peers?  Is there something of the genuine “you” that is able to rise above conflict, ridicule, criticism, and oppression?  In the Bible, the man Job discovered the key to such character amid his trials and tests.  He declared,

“When he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.  My feet have closely followed His steps; I have kept to His way without turning aside…I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my daily bread.”

In the book of Proverbs we read this exhortation: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”