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Unconditional Love

unconditional loveInspired by the film Unconditional and Papa Joe Bradford’s outreach to at-risk children, My buddy Ben Stroup writes a new book called Unconditional Love.” Ben gathers real-life stories celebrating the best in ordinary people who have found extraordinary ways to act as the hands and feet of Jesus in their time and place. Through them we see what matters most in this life, we stir our God-made desire to help others in need, and the world becomes a better place.

I was able to ask Ben some questions about his new book. Hopefully Ben’s answers to these questions can give you some insight into the idea of “Unconditional Love” and a better understanding how how this book can have a positive impact on you, those who come in contact with you and the world as a whole.

1. In your new book “Unconditional Love” you make reference to the idea that love is rarely received in its purest form… What exactly do you mean by that?

It’s nearly impossible for people to act without thinking about how it might benefit them. Most people live with a little skepticism about people and their intentions anyway. We’ve all been burned. That’s why we are so surprised when we discover—or receive—kindness that has no strings attached. It’s so rare, in fact, that we never forget the experience or the person.

2. Why is the concept of unconditional love so complicated?

Because human nature is flawed. To do something without condition requires a great deal of soul-searching, risk, and willingness to fail. You are reckless when you give something like love away without any thought or guarantee it will be returned—especially to someone who hasn’t “earned” it. But reckless love is what it takes to establish a genuine connection with someone else and bring out personal transformation.

3. In what seems to be paradoxical in nature, you tell us the way to receive unconditional love is to give it away. What do you mean?

I think AA nailed this principle. “You have to fake it until you make it.” We can’t recognize unconditional love until we give it away. Perhaps more accurate is that we are not prepared to receive love without condition until we are humble enough to show it to others. Unconditional love is not a state of being but a verb—an action. It describes something that is in motion and being shared with others

4. The book Unconditional Love is inspired by the film Unconditional that profiles the real life ministry of Papa Joe Bradford. What inspired you most from Papa Joe’s story?

He didn’t have to share love and hope with others—especially other people’s children. He could have remained a quiet person who chose to live his life independent of the people around him. Any no one would have thought less of him for doing that. Instead, he chose to respond to the hope and promise so readily found within the eyes of a child. Joe Bradford became Papa Joe because he was willing to love children he didn’t have to love.

5. How can a book like Unconditional Love empower others to step out of their comfort zones and make a difference?

So many people will read the stories in the book and say, “I can’t do what they’ve done.” They will miss that each person included in the book said the same thing about themselves. But their desire to help someone around them in need was greater than their fear that their efforts would be in vain. Each person said yes to an opportunity to help someone in need. As a result of the purity of their intentions and willingness to go all-in, their impact was multiplied.

Just say yes when the opportunity presents itself to help someone else in need. Don’t worry about the rest. Unconditional love can be as simple as a handshake and a pat on the back or as complex as starting an international charity. Everyone can do something.

6. What are some questions we need to look in the mirror and ask ourselves as we try to discover how we can use our gifts to make an impact?

  • Who have I helped today?
  • What skills, talents, or resources do I have that others might benefit from?
  • How can I teach—and show—my children what it means to love without condition?
  • What is holding me back from responding to a need around me?
  • What do I need to change or adjust in my life to be ready and available to show unconditional love to others?

7. Last Question: In your book you pose the question “How will this idea make God famous?” Can you go a little deeper as to the heart behind that question?

The Bible tells us Jesus emptied himself of all privilege and power so that he could give himself away. In doing so, we have life forever. Our lives were given to us so that we—in turn—would give it away. Before we can show love without condition, we, too, must empty ourselves of all privilege and power. Then—and only then—can we be sure our actions, intentions, and sacrifice point to the Originator and Giver of unconditional love. The paradox is that we discover life in all its fullness when we give it away freely—and unconditionally.

You can pick up a copy of Unconditional Love here.

6 Life Lessons From Fast and Furious 6

fast 6 2This past Friday, my father-in-law came into town and we decided to have a fellas afternoon out. It consisted of lunch and a matinee viewing of Fast and Furious 6. This movie won’t disappoint moviegoers as it’s fast-paced, action-packed, adrenaline rushing, with a great plot and some moments that will make you jump along the way.

Fast and Furious 6 has a stronger moral message than its predecessors. Don’t get me wrong this movie is no G-Rated production; however it does hold true to it’s PG-13 rating some language, bikinis and violence. Outside of some unrealistic moments, which are to be expected Fast and Furious 6 was a great movie with some great lessons. Below are 6 Life Lessons From Fast and Furious 6.

6 Life Lessons From Fast and Furious 6

  • 1. You Don’t Turn Your Back On Family – This was an early quote from Torreto that really set the tone for the entire movie. Good, Bad or Ugly… family is family, don’t turn your back on them. Remember: Some friends are as much family as your biological family 
  • 2. If You Want To Hunt Wolves You Must Have Wolves – This may not be a direct and accurate quote from Torreto; however it was something to that affect. The bottom line is sometimes you have to have the rough and tough to catch the rough and tough, a killer instinct to catch a killer instinct, a former lost person to reach the lost, someone who has been there and done that to help someone that is there and is doing that.
  • 3. We All Have A Weak Spot – This quote from Shaw illustrates that we all have a weak spot, no matter how good we are, how tough we are, how great we are… we all have a weak spot and we all have room for improvement.
  • 4. There Is Never “Nothing,” there is always “Something” – This quote from Luke Hobbs (aka The Rock) illustrates that there is always something happening. Sometimes we can’t see it, smell it, hear it or even feel it happening, but something is happening. In the quietest of moments something is happening. When you think nothing is going on, remember something is going on. When you think that nothing is working, remember something is working. When you think nothing is going your way, remember something is about to breakthrough.
  • 5. No One Makes Me Do Anything, I Do What I Want To Do – This quote by “Letty” has a powerful and truthful message. There is power in embracing that you are responsible for your own actions and decisions. Often times people try to put the blame on everyone else instead of looking in the mirror. You will often hear comments like “The devil or so and so made me do it.” Stop giving the devil and “so and so” so much credit and take responsibility. No one makes you do anything; you do what you want to.
  • 6. Thank God For Family – This was a really nice moment was at the end of the movie when the crew was gathered together at a modest old house in Los Angeles sitting around the table holding hands and about to say grace before their meal. One of the first words out of Roman’s mouth was Thank God For Family. He went on to say thanks for fast cars. This moment is a great reminder that no matter how much we thank God; we still have not thanked Him enough.

Just as in life if you want to find some great lessons from Fast and Furious 6, all you have to do is look, they are right there on the big screen. The movie is a fast and furious ride on the streets of life. The journey gives us some insight as to the importance of family, the virtue of loyalty, the value of life, the ideal of putting others before yourself and the understanding that fighting for something greater than yourself is awesome.

What life lessons did you learn from Fast and Furious 6? Do any of these 6 lessons resonate with you?

7 Life and Leadership Lessons From Men In Black 3

Yesterday was the Williams’ family Sunday afternoon movie day. We do this at least once a month and we rotate who decides the movie. Yesterday’s movie was selected by our 13 year-old son Wesley – his selection Men In Black 3. It was a great selection I might add. We had all seen the prior two Men In Black Movies; however it’s not totally necessary to have seen the Men In Black 1 and 2 to enjoy Men In Black 3.

I always take notes of quotes and thoughts during movies and I wanted to share these 7 Life and Leadership Lessons From Men In Black 3:

  • 1. “Don’t ask questions you don’t want to know the answers to.” Agent K. || Think about this quote, lots to ponder here.
  • 2. “Do you know what the most destructive force in the Universe is? Regret!” ~Agent K. || Sentences beginning with “If I had only” “What if I” “I should have…” Regret eats people alive, it forces people to live in past.
  • 3. “A miracle is what appears impossible, but happens anyway.” ~Griffin || Miracles do happen, nothing is impossible, believe, believe, believe.
  • 4. “The bitterest truth is better than the sweetest lie.” ~Griffin || This is something that we learn as a very young child… Always tell the truth.
  • 5. “We’re running out of time, we’re running out of clues, and there’s an invasion coming, so really we need to go right now!” ~Agent J. || I’ll allow you to get creative with tis one. Think, Think, Think.
  • 6. “Where there is death, there will always be death.” || There is lots of metaphoric truth here… where there is darkness, there will always be darkness.
  • 7. “There are things out there you don’t need to know about.” Agent K. || Truth for all ages.

Share your thoughts on this movie or these quotes.

Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows – Should Christians Watch The Movie?

Should Christians watch or read Harry Potter is one of those questions that keeps popping up and popping up and well… popping up.  With the release of the Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows – Part II at midnight tonight, the question will continue to be asked and the subject debated.  As a matter of fact there are thousands of Christians that will be lined up at the strike of midnight to be the first to check out the movie.  so

I thought it would be a good time to take this discussion to the people, that’s right the people of BigIsTheNewSmall.com and the online community in general.  Not long ago, I was able to listen to, engage in and play devils advocate during a Harry Potter Debate amongst Christians and ministry staff.

According to an on-line Bible ministry that answers questions through a Biblical framework, they said this about Harry Potter and the debate: “Harry Potter books and films are full of stereotypical magic. Witchcraft and wizardry are central themes, and the lead roles are played by wizards, witches, and other magical creatures. Although the characters practice casting spells, reading crystal balls, etc., they do not communicate with spiritual (supernatural) forces. While this may be considered a positive, one definite negative is that there is no higher power to answer to at all.”

I’m not sure exactly what all of that means from a contextual perspective, because I have not seen any Harry Potter Movie or read any Harry Potter Book.  I have not made the choice “to see or not to see” because of any specific reason, thought or belief.  I simply have never watched it.  I used to watch this cartoon called Hip Hop Harry with my youngest son, but I think that may be a different show. 🙂

The scripture that those arguing against indulging in Potter is Deuteronomy 18:10-12 “Let no one be found among you who sacrifices their son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord; because of these same detestable practices the Lord your God will drive out those nations before you.”

Those on the other side of the argument, say “Why stop there the list could go on and on about the types of movies you should and should not watch.”

What do you think?

Should Christians Watch or Read Harry Potter?  Is it different for adults and children?  Are you going to see Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows – Part II?  Share your reasons for or against.  Ready, Set, Go!

Step Up 3D Review

The fam. and I went to see Step Up 3D tonight, as it was just released today.  My two boys 7 and 11 years old absolutely love these types of movies.  They enjoy watching “So You Think You Can Dance” and like “America’s Next Best Dance Crew” even better.  Any time they watch these type of shows you can count on our living room turning into their own street dance studio.  Suburban studio that is!

I really didn’t know what to expect with a dance movie in 3D, so I thought I would share my impressions of the movie overall.  Here are my bullet point impressions of Step Up 3D:

  • Family friendly in my opinion and was on the more appropriate end of a PG-13.
  • Predictable but still captured your attention throughout the movie.
  • Love story intertwined with understanding for the passion for dance.
  • 3D experience was well done, smooth, not over the top and effective.
  • Featured several all-stars from “So You Think You Can Dance.”
  • Best Quote – “To travel is better than to arrive.”
  • The closing credit experience definitely is worth staying for.
  • Overall good movie and worth the price of admission. Not amazing, but really good.

We had a good time at the movies and be warned your kids will come out of the movies wanting to do flips and dance moves.  My youngest son was flipping, spinning and jumping on the concrete in the shopping mall parking lot.  Not to mention trying out some of his new moves as soon as we got on the elevator.

My wife would have preferred to not see in 3D, however the rest of us definitely think 3D is the way to go.  My boys said it was better than The Karate Kid, however I believe that is the result of the “What have you done for me lately” syndrome.  Nonetheless, it gets a positive review form the Williams’ Family.

Are you planning on going to see Step Up 3D? If you have seen the movie, or plan on seeing it, please share your thoughts on my review or your personal thoughts on the movie.

The Karate Kid Review

My family and I just saw The Karate Kid this evening, as it was just released today.  I’m not going to lie, my wife and I were just as excited to see the movie as our sons were.  We made the decision not to let the boys watch the original The Karate Kid movies until after they had seen this one.  I thought I would share some highlights, without totally ruining the movie.

The Above Video is a review straight from the mouths of my 7yo and 11yo sons, immediately following the movie.

  • The movie had a great story line with some great life lessons.
  • A little bit of a love story twist.
  • There is a lot of action and fighting kicks off early in the movie and throughout.
  • Jaden Smith “Dre” did an excellent job acting and was definitely believable.
  • Jackie Chan “Mr. Hahn” demontsrtaed some classsic Jackie Chan moves and did an amazing job of playing an older character than we are used to him playing.
  • Taraji Henson “Sheri Parker aka Dre’s Mom” did a solid job acting; however her role was somewhat forgettable.
  • Overall Theme- New Kid On The Block Meets Bullies, Has A Crush On A Girl & Plenty of Fighting Throughout.
  • “Jacket On, Jacket Off” is the new “Wax On, Wax Off.”
  • There are couple of instances where “Dre” uses the word a$$.  I thought they were tastefully appropriate and remember our 7yo and 11yo sons were with us.
  • Favorite Quotes-  1. Being still and doing nothing are two different things.  2. Life can knock us down, but we can choose whether or not we get back up.
  • Overall- I thought it was excellent, I don’t want to set expectations too high, but it was just a good solid movie.
  • There are definitely enough questions and intrigue at the end to warrant a Karate Kid II.
  • You will have to watch the video to find out what my son’s reviews were on a scale of 1-10.

The classic moment is that the movie ends with Jackie Chan “Mr. Han”  and Jaden Smith “Dre” giving one another a #FistBump.  So let’s end this review with a #FistBump.  Put your fist to the screen… Now blow it up!

Are you planning on going to see the new The Karate Kid? If you have seen the movie, or plan on seeing it, please share your thoughts on my review or your personal thoughts on the movie.

Little Town Of Bethlehem

Tomorrow I get the opportunity to travel to Memphis, Tennessee and hang out with Black Civil Rights Leaders, Community Leaders and Ministry Leaders.   We will be watching the screening of a new documentary film, Little Town Of Bethlehem. This will hosted by Emmy Award Winning Director Jim Hanon, who happens to be my friend and a member of my church.  The screening will be co-hosted by Grammy award winning Jazz Artist Kirk Whalum.

This film deals with the Arab and Western and Christian and Muslim conflict, as it relates to the burden of non-violence.  I’m looking forward to the screening and sharing insights, right here at BigIsTheNewSmall.com.

Watch the above video of the Director’s commentary and share your thoughts.

The Blind Side

the blind sideYesterday I had the opportunity to have a family movie day with my wife, my two boys and my in-laws.  We went to see a movie that I had great anticipation to see; The Blind Side.  In case you don’t know the details about The Blind Side I will provide an overview, a quick review and some life applicable thoughts.

The Blind Side movie is based on Michale Lewis’ book “The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game.”  This remarkable true story of Michael Oher aka “Big Mike,” a homeless African-American youngster from a horribly broken home.   Michael was taken in by the Touhys, a well-to-do white family who help him fulfill his potential. At the same time, Oher’s presence in the Touhys’ lives leads them to some insightful self-discoveries of their own.

Living in his new environment, the teen faces a completely different set of challenges to overcome, as a football player and student.  Oher works hard and with the help of his coaches and adopted family, becomes an All-American offensive left tackle. In the latest chapter of his inspiring story, Oher was a First Round draft pick in the 2009 NFL Draft, selected by the Baltimore Ravens. The Touhys were there to share the moment with him.

My Review: This movie was one of the all around best movies that I have seen in a really long time.  The movie had excellent acting, suspense, reality and it was a tear jerking inspiration.  The movie is rated PG-13 for one scene involving brief violence, drug references, mild sexual references and some language.  In my opinion the scenes were appropriately contextual.  Outside of those scenes, the movie was overall excellent and family friendly.

Sandra Bullock’s acting was superb and one of my favorite characters was S.J., the younger brother played by Jae Head.  The Blind Side is a must see and I will actually go see it again!

The Lesson: A left tackles responsibility is to protect the quarterbacks Blind Side.  Michael learned to not only protect the quarterbacks Blind side, but he showed that if you care about people you will be willing to protect their Blind Side.  In my opinion a good leader will develop a group of leaders that will not only point out his or her Blind Sides, but they will protect them from Blind Side hits.

Life is about exposing, realizing and protecting Blind Sides.

Share your thoughts on the movie “The Blind Side” and the Blind Sides of Life.

Weekend Movie Reviews

movie reviewDid you watch a Movie at the Theater this weekend?  Do you have an opinion or thoughts about the movie?  Please Share!  You can share any information that you would like; however the only information that we need is: The Name of The Movie,  your Star Rating out of 5 Stars and any additional comments.  You are  now officially a Movie Reviewer… GO!

Madagascar 2… Life's Little Lessons

madagascar-2.jpgYesterday I decided to leave the office a little early so that my wife and I could surprise the boys by taking them to see Madagascar 2.  You know we had to get there before 6:00 to get the big $3.50 matinee movie discount.  I told the boys that we were going to a furniture store (their least favorite place) nonetheless when we got to the movies they were pleasantly surprised.

I don’t know if I am the only one out there who does the following: remembers themes within the movie and takes notes of quotes that catch there attention, applies circumstances to life, applies nuances to leadership… but that’s me.  The one quote that made it to my iPhone from Madagascar 2 was in reference to  Alex the Lion (Ben Stiller) was talking to his buddy Marty the Zebra (Chris Rock).  Marty was hanging with a big herd of Zebras and Alex was telling Marty that he was different than the other zebras and unique; here is the quote “These guys are all white with black stripes and you are black with white stripes.”  A theme that made it to my iPhone “Just because you are a King/The man over there, doesnt’ mean that you will be the King/The Man over here and vise versa.  Maximize your strengths!”  Alex was able to Transcend The Isms

Life is about perspective: cup half empty or half full, white with black stripes or black with white stripes, gray hair=good or gray hair=bad, this season sucks or necessary pruning season… perception can become reality. 

Quick Madagascar 2 Review: Wife said it was cute; the boys said it was cool, funny, tight and awesome; I said it was worth the money, a little love story, had some relative leadership/king application and it was funny.  Funny Quote from Motto-Motto “Girl you so huge!”

I Like To Move It Move It, I Like To Move It Move It, I Like To Move It Move, Ya Like To (MOVE IT!)  That song was in my head all last night, so I figured it needed to be in yours all day today!

  • Do you take notes or remember themes, nuances… while watching a movie? 
  • Share your thoughts on Madagascar 2!
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