Archive for the 'Religion' Category

A Different Perspective on the Inauguration

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Click for super large version

I heard part of the inauguration on the radio, I saw part on television, and now I have seen it through the eye of a satellite. Clicking on the image above will show you the view of the Mall from 423 miles up at a half-meter resolution.

This made me think of Isaiah 55:8-9:

8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the LORD.

9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

There are vast opinions out there, even in the Christian community alone, about what happened yesterday (1-20-09), but the one I hope wins out is the view from they eye of God from the distance of eternity with the resolution of every persons heart. Obama is not the second coming of Christ, and I am going out on a limb and saying he probably isn’t the Anti-Christ. He is a man with a job to do and a country to lead, and as Christians we need to work with him to accomplish God’s desires.

There are even more super larger images here.

This American Life’s Mousetrap

I listen to “This American Life” more often than I used to now that I can get it on line. Recently I was pointed to a recent episode discussing some about the current financial crisis.

Their episode on “The Giant Pool of Money” back in May had a good explanation of the global issues that lead to much of the crisis (too many people with too much money and too little to do with it). On October 3rd, they ran “Another Frightening Show About The Economy“with a follow-up the next week in a replay of an old episode “A Better Mousetrap 2008.” This one is a replay of an episode from 2006, but with a couple different stories mixed in.

I just finished listening to the one from 2006 “A Better Mousetrap” and found the portion about creating a new religion to be very interesting. Anyone in ministry can immediately recognize the eye-roll inducing sentiments.

You can download the most recent episode from the podcast or the link on its page for a period of one week starting the week after it airs. After that, the only links available are for listening online or purchasing through iTunes. If you wish to download it directly in spite of these restrictions, you can use the following formula:

Start with
http://audio.thisamericanlife.org/jomamashouse/ismymamashouse/365.mp3

Then enter the episode number in place of the “365″ above.
For example, the episode from 2006 is #311 so the link will be
http://audio.thisamericanlife.org/jomamashouse/ismymamashouse/311.mp3

Purpose Driven Church on TWiT

“People who are rowing the boat don’t have time to rock the boat!”

That is the quote that Jason Calacanis chose from “the Purpose Driven Life” when asked what books he was listening to on TWiT 150.

As someone who has tired out on ministry books, I did appreciate that he said he was reading it because he got tired of all the tech books sounding the same. He related “The Purpose Driven Church” to business start-ups.

But don’t worry, Leo Leporte went from expressing interest in reading “The Purpose Driven Life” to asking about erotica books in just a few seconds. He didn’t want to sound too religious.

Note: I just realized that it was almost exactly 10 years ago right now that I purchased my copy of “The Purpose Driven Church.” And yes, I did read it.

A Church Ombudsman

Do you know what an Ombudsman is? You should. It is an important role.

An ombudsman is a person who stands between two connected groups and keeps the communication flowing. They are an ambassador of sorts, but instead of functioning for the sake of one party they function for both.

In the military, an ombudsman has the responsibility of keeping the humanity of the leadership and the soldiers in mind even when it gets easy to for each to look at the other as just “the brass” or “the grunts.” It creates an amenable short circuit in an otherwise separate hierarchy. How can the average corporal’s wife demand information from a colonel without fearing repercussions without an intercessor?

This has been in my mind because of a recent episode of “The Leonard Lopate Show: Please Explain” (March 21, 2008) where they interviewed the NPR Ombudsman. I had heard an interview with the previous ombudsman a while back, but this one got me thinking about ombudsmen again.

I decided to post this while listening to Buzz Out Loud #690 (at 3min 45sec) where Molly Wood expressed a “life theory”/”one big fortune cookie” saying used as: “It is rarely the situation, it is almost always the communication.”

When a church is small a few negative voices can rip the church down, but as it gets large you have a BB vs. a Battleship situation happening. While the leadership can feel more secure knowing that the people who just tend to be disagreeable will be quickly plowed under, the same thing happens to sincere people with real concerns. In the same way, bad information gets spread around and the leadership is stressed because nobody is coming to them to get the story straight.

  • How does your church do with this type of communication?
  • Do you perceive “ombudsman” as a promising position in the church?
  • Would it be a volunteer position?
  • Do you think this is really the job of the Pastor or Elders?
  • Is this just a crazy idea?

Losing Faith In Lousy Ministers

A nice thing about the internet is the ability to read stuff you don’t agree with without having to actually debate anybody personally. I often read a particular blog that I am not willing to link to here, but it does have an interesting article / rebuttal considering Christian faith.

The post has a link to an article about the LA Times religion reporter losing his faith. This type of thing is very typical for the blog. They follow Christianity for the sole purpose of finding flaws and mocking Christians. They preach tolerance, but only for beliefs they agree with.

The surprise is that they posted a nice rebuttal from someone who appears to be a Christian. Troy made some excellent points that I expect to be attacked soon.

“I would argue that Lobdell put his faith in the wrong thing to begin with. Christ didn’t call us to put our our faith in a church — an organization of people after all — but in Him. (. . .) No one, but a fool believes in human perfectibility.”

Too see the post, remove the Gap:

boingb oing.net/2007/08/13/la_times_religious_r.html

3 Reasons Google Blogs, And Why Your Church Should Too

Despite all the worries I have about Google going evil, I am still an avid user. I get my news from RSS feeds and News.Google.com. I even have a large list of searches that Google sends to my gmail account via Google Alerts. So, when I heard that Google News has a blog of its own I checked it out and I liked the first post enough to comment on it.

I like their list of reasons for doing a blog, and I am going to add this into my arguments for better usage of blogs in the church.

  1. They don’t issue many press releases. They don’t have too. The people that Google wants to inform are already looking for the information. The same goes for your church. Believe me, the people at your church want information; and if they don’t get information they will either miss out on something meant for them or gripe about how nobody knowing what’s going on.
  2. They don’t want to fill your inbox. I can’t stand mailing lists from companies and organizations. The information tends to feel more self serving than informational. Even if I do subscribe to a list I tend to skip over them when I am doing my first trip through the inbox and then a few days later I delete them figuring them to be out of date. E-Mail is outdated, it is unpredictable, and troublesome.
  3. A blog is more direct and informal. Not every piece of news is mail worthy, and much of it isn’t even email worthy. Yet, there is a lot of that news which people would be interested in knowing. It is the type of news that builds familiarity.

I would also like to tack on another point about that 3rd point. If the church sends you an email with something good in it and you want to share it with a friend then the best way to do that is to go back to your computer and forward the email to them. There are problems with that.

  1. Forwarded emails, which are not properly reformat, are horrible. Especially if you were crazy enough to send it in html (html email is a detestable chimera).
  2. You have to go back to your computer to do it. Chances are I will forget, suddenly consider whether the person really wanted me to bug them with an email, or procrastinate on it until it is too late. It is better to just say “Hey, check out the news blog at TheChurchIMentioned.com/news, it should still be on the first page.”
  3. Give a man a fish and he will feed for a day, give a man a feed and he will fish for your news. With regard to that last sentence, I apologize. A blog/news site makes it easy for people to connect with what is going on. They can hear the heartbeat of your ministry from the comfort of their own keyboard.

For the record, I have subscribed to the Google News Blog in my Sage live bookmark feeds. I’ll see how it goes, and if I decide that I don’t want to keep up with their information on my schedule then I will delete the link and not worry about it again.

Jacksonville has a local video site.

I am subscribed to several local news feeds to keep up on things happening in the quaint backwater town of Jacksonville, FL, and JaxDaily.com is one of them. They have been working to encourage an online community and have gone a step further by creating a local video site at JaxVideos.com. The cost of this site is negligible since it runs on WordPress and they don’t actually host the video, they just display video submitted from mainstream online video sites. It has been up for just under 1 month, has nearly 30 videos, and local ministries have already taken notice.

This is a nice idea for a community reaching site. For a small price and a bit of moderation (encourage family friendly posts) you could provide a service to your community with local amateur news postings as well as church related items.

Check out this American Idol take-off from a local church (Copyright Questions?).

There is also a video of set-up at the local Christian band venue (Murray Hill Theatre) if only it was a little more exciting. It was a bit more exciting last time I was there, of course that was 8 years ago at an Insyderz concert.

Can you test the “Cheerful Giver”

We are preparing to do e-giving at the church, and this has caused me to think a lot about my weekly offering. Don’t worry, I’ll yak on that too long in a few lines.

First, you need to check out a post from the Freakonomics blog about a coffee shop with no prices. The Terra Bite Lounge is a purely capitalist venture, with no political or religious motivations, that relies on people doing the right thing for them to continue their business. You choose what to pay for your food and drinks, and you choose when to pay for it.

While a church would have spiritual motives for its work, I believe the concept here is similar in most cases.

“We teach and train you and your family while carrying out God’s work around the world. In order to continue with this venture we need you to give what you can when you can. We do emphasize tithing, but it is not required for fellowship or salvation.”

Continue reading ‘Can you test the “Cheerful Giver”’

MyCrappySexLife.com SHOCKING!!!

But it gets attention.

I keep seeing Granger’s program from from last year popping up around the country, and it seems to be getting attention.

I have read dozens of stories from people who hate Christianity using this as an opportunity to bash the church, but they would bash us for reading Song of Solomon.

I am still undecided about how this would go over with our church, but then that isn’t my decision.

The Lone Ranger’s Creed

I believe in making announcements interesting and a bit creative. Today I sent one out with a Lone Ranger theme and while looking up a bit of info I came across the Lone Ranger’s Creed.

I believe…..

That to have a friend, a man must be one.

That all men are created equal and that everyone has within himself the power to make this a better world.

That God put the firewood there, but that every man must gather and light it himself.

In being prepared physically, mentally, and morally to fight when necessary for that which is right.

That a man should make the most of what equipment he has.

That ‘this government of the people, by the people, and for the people’ shall live always.

That men should live by the rule of what is best for the greatest number.

That sooner or later…somewhere…somehow…we must settle with the world and make payment for what we have taken.

That all things change but truth, and that truth alone, lives on forever.

In my Creator, my country, my fellow man.

This look like good sermon, Kemosabe.