Thursday, April 11, 2013

2013 MS 182 (Houston to Austin)

In a little over a week I will be joining my daughter, Kelli, for the 2013 edition of the MS 150 – which I love to point out is actually a 182 mile (we take the challenge route) two day bike ride from Houston to Austin and don’t be misled – there ARE hills in Texas and often lots of wind!

My first ride was on a borrowed bike in 2009 and I rode after receiving a dare/challenge from a friend!

Since 2009 I’ve ridden as an independent rider (with a friend), on a team for a Health Club and last year with Kelli and Team Texas Children’s Hospital (awesome jerseys).  Riding with Kelli makes the weekend even more special and something the two of us look forward each year.  This year Kelli’s small group from Ecclesia Church decided to ride for Team Saint Arnold’s (really cool jerseys and carb loading options). 

What began as a dare and a challenge to ride a bike 182 miles has become something more important.  Every year I meet someone else who is battling MS and every year I am reminded of the courage it takes to live with MS.  I think of that a lot along the ride – especially when my legs are a little tired and there’s one more hill to climb.  We definitely are riding for an important cause.  On a personal note being able to ride with Kelli and do this together has also become something important to me.

The MS Society organizes 100 rides nationwide. The funds they raise fuel research aimed at treating and eventually curing MS; they also provide crucial services for persons living with MS.  Each one of us who rides – and those who support us - are helping the National MS Society move forward toward a world without MS and making a difference in the lives of 400,000 Americans battling multiple sclerosis today!

On this year’s ride I will carry a bandana with the names of people with MS written on it (something I learned from past MS 150’s).  I would love to add the names of any friends or family members any of you know with multiple sclerosis.

AND Kelli and I would LOVE your prayers – the truth is we NEED your prayers.  No matter how well we train – 182 is a long couple of days and the long range weather forecasts are for a rainy weekend.  We always pray for safety, cool temps, clear skies and if possible a tailwind!  But just as in life we sometimes experience headwinds, heat and rain but God has protected us every year.  So please keep us in your prayers.

Finally if you’d like to financially support the MS Society and my ride  or just want to find our more information on the MS Society just click on 2013 MS 150

The medium is the message

"The medium is the message" is a phrase coined by Marshall McLuhan meaning (at least according to Wikipedia) that:

 “the form of a medium embeds itself in the message, creating a symbiotic relationship by which the medium influences how the message is perceived.”

I read that phrase as an architectural student in McLuhan’s book, The Medium is the Massage”(legend is “massage” was a typo that the author liked) and it began a fascination (obsession) with communications.

As an architect that fascination drew me toward “storytelling” architects that ranged from Gaudi to Venturi (Learning from Las Vegas remains one of my favorite books).  As a pastor – who gets to communicate every Sunday – I am constantly learning from gifted communicators both in the church world and the marketplace.

Experts in communication agree on the importance of simple, repeatable messages.  Andy Stanley would call it the big idea. Chip and Dan Heath tell us that is what will make "it" stick.  Seth Godin returns again and again to the power of word of marketing.  Kem Meyer is a proponent of less noise and less clutter (which actually is an outflow of another architect’s - Ludwig Mies van der Rohe - who is the one who first said less is more  -van der Rohe is also the originator of God is in the details – there’s your architectural history lesson for the day)

But even when we attempt to keep it simple, communication is always a challenge.  George Bernard Shaw once remarked that the challenge of communication is the illusion that it has occurred.  And today the communication challenge is magnified by the constant changes in technology.

The rotary phone that sat on my dad’s desk (which is why we “dial” numbers and “hang up” from calls) bears little resemblance to the smart phone sitting next to me as I type this (and on which I am keeping track of the early scoring as play begins at The Masters).  Changes to technology and the increasing potential of social media continue to amaze me.  I now get most of my news, weather and sports via Twitter (though I am about ready to abandon Facebook which more and more feels like an exercise in egotistical voyeurism and a place to post political rants or pictures of cats with inspirational sayings).  

My latest fascination is with QR codes and the potential for using them to reduce noise and clutter.  For instance the QR code at the top of this blog links you to this page – I know you are already here, but imagine that you weren’t – where I could be giving you a list of upcoming events at Mountaintop (instead of rambling about communication).

Communication is changing – you just read a blog – and the medium is the message.  But in the end its all about telling stories and each week I get the privilege of telling the greatest story of all.

Maybe I should create a QR code as a link to the youversion of the Bible…..