Thursday, April 22, 2010

A note from Gabriel (today)

The story starts three days ago. As a principal of a creative strategy firm (Blackwell and Co.) I consider myself somewhat off-the-cuff, scatter-brained, OCD, ADD—and do my best to keep all my thoughts and notes organized in my Franklin Planner and Moleskin sketchbook. That is it. I have files, and stacks, and drawers, and binders...but my lifeblood is poured into one of these two books. Well...I lost the sketchbook. What a bummer! It actually made me sick to my stomach, plus it came with a good dose of rage that was hard to keep in check. How could I have been so careless!

On the second day, I got home from work and was reading the news on FB and clicked on a link to a story about some political stuff. BAM! Like a bolt of lightning I found myself eye-to-eye with some type of virus on my phone. As fast as it happened it was over. The phone was dead. I called my friend Jens who offered up some encouragement, but it didn't really help. A lost sketchbook and now a dead phone. Whoa is me. (I do know that in the scheme of things this really isn't a big deal, but it does get better.)

Oh well, today was a new day. I usually start each day out with a nice hot shower and a little prayer for my family and friends. Despite my previous blunder, I am still a pretty thankful man. Anyway, at the end of my prayer, I slipped in a little request to God and asked if I could please see a way to get my sketchbook back—and here is what happened.

I got back from lunch around 130pm and Allie (our Account Coordinator) says she got a strange message for me...Someone called and had the sketchbook. They did not want to share their name, the did not want to share a phone number, and did not want me to meet them. They said that they would take the book back to where they found it (Chase Bank), and that it would be available after 2pm. So around 215pm I went to the bank, asked the teller if anyone left a package for me and sure enough they did—the book!

This book was pretty new, but had several thumbnails and scribbles as well as some of my thoughts regarding certain accounts and certain prospects. I am a faithful guy and try my best to keep Christ focused...and a lot of my notes (to myself) and about certain situations often refer back to how "something" relates back to Christ. Now I am no saint, and that is for sure—so don't take any of this the wrong way. If you ever see me having a hotdog and a cold beer, I am not a hypocrite, I am just a regular-old-man. Anyway, as I was paging through the book I found a note stuck to a page with some tape—it read:

From Gabriel

Hmm...Humans are so very interesting and so very confused at times. No matter what this "Christian" venture is your company is pursuing, if God has not ordained it, it will not prevail. Always remember that it is by the Lord's spirit; not by works!

Without sharing too much information, the note followed a section in my book, regarding my thoughts about a prospective client that I believe was "out of focus". So, the note was positioned in a very appropriate spot. But wait! There is more. Shortly after I picked up my sketchbook, I headed out to run an errand. While I was out I had a visitor stop by. It was a familiar local homeless person who we often call "The Shem" (I know that sounds bad...but its the truth.) This is a very tall, lanky, dark-haired man, who dresses as a woman. He/she has been around Charleston for many years wearing the same hose and skirt. I often see him sitting on the ground in front of some of the area storefronts talking to himself, and have at least on one occasion caught him relieving himself in my back parking lot. In my 13 years of business, I have said hello to him, bought him some coffee, and maybe some food—but I never had a conversation with him, and he NEVER came to my office—not one time—until today. He came in the front door, asked to speak with "Steve Blackwell", and as someone went back to my office to get me, he left.

Weird. Crazy. Strange? Could he have been the guy that kept my book for three days? Could he be Gabriel? Is Gabriel a real guy that found my book? Is this some kind of joke? Could this be "Gabriel" the angel? Did God answer my prayer? Is the "Shem" part of this or was it just a coincidence? I don't know. But for a guy who believes that God sent His son, who died on the cross, was buried and rose from the grave on the third day—and who now lives with the Holy Spirit inside him...I wouldn't discount it.

I don't know much about the angel Gabriel, but found this on Wikipedia:

Gabriel is usually portrayed as male, but sometimes also androgynous or female, as in some contemporary art imagery, in popular imagination, and various new age beliefs that say that although all angels are androgynous, Gabriel is more female than male based on astrological properties.[4][5][6][7][8][9][10] However, according to the traditional Christian Bible, all angels are neither male nor female, and they also do not reproduce or marry.[11]

iPhone fixed (thanks Jens!), sketchbook back (thanks Gabriel, stranger, or whoever), and thanks God—I enjoyed another day. What a day!

Peace. & Thanks!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Jesus is a Purple Cow

As I celebrated Easter this year, I spent Good Friday morning watching Mel Gibson's, "Passion of the Christ" with my friend Jens. I can't say that I enjoyed the movie, but it really helped me to reflect on what Christ did for us. (As tough as it was to watch, it is something that you should see if you haven't seen it yet.) I spent some time reading these accounts in the Bible this weekend and was reminded once again of our historic passion for money and power. From my perspective it usually gets in the way of everything. But from God's perspective it was just part of the plan.

Everybody was giddy and blown away by Jesus, His knowledge of the scriptures, His miracles...there was a buzz in the air. I always hear people talk about change, and their sincere desire to make change...until you mess with their money or their power. The same thing was going on thousands of years ago. The existence of Jesus threatened the power and stability of the Sanhedrin, and the abuse of power and money lived on as the story unfolded.

Leading up to His death, he had performed some remarkable feats. He walked on water, He healed people, He foretold the future, He healed the blind, and raised the dead. No PR machine, no iPhone, no agency, He just did amazing things that people talked about (and still talk about). That is what author Seth Godin might call a Purple Cow (I would certainly call it that). Don't get these stories confused with a Disney movie or a Greek myth. Jesus was a real person. He did not perform the ridiculous, He performed the remarkable. He is the red thread that ties the entire Bible together. It wasn't a storyboard by Pixar, but a plan from God. That red thread was foreshadowed and concealed in the old testament and then later revealed through the gospels in the new testament. A good friend shared it to me this way, "the old testament of the Bible is the new testament concealed, and the new testament of the Bible is the old testament revealed." —What a plan!

A virgin birth, a life with temptation but without sin—a brutal punishment, and crucifixion, coupled with darkness an earthquake and a mass of bodies rising from their graves as Christ died on the cross, and arose from the grave three days later. Not for money and not for power—and not because we deserved anything, but because He loved us...Now that is a Purple Cow!