Sunday, December 30, 2007

Misc.

We've been traveling 'n stuff, so I haven't had much chance to blog. Here are a few highlights to keep you entertained.

My brother-in-law and his girlfriend have a dog (an english bull dog, if you must know) and they named it Boobies. Because everyone loves Boobies (I did enjoy playing with Boobies, she's a cute puppy).

We went to Tahoe to meet up with family who had been skiing/snowboarding, but since we didn't have the time or money ourselves we went to a place that rented tubes and we slid down a hill for an hour. The real fun started when it was time to leave the parkinglot and a minivan couldn't quite make it over the ice. Every time the van started to slide the driver would slam on the brakes in a panic. After getting advice from about 52 people and an aborted attempt to put on chains, a solicitous individual offered to drive the van out, which he did successfully. Now it's time for fun with stereotypes - the owner of the van was Persian, the hero was Asian. Now you know how they rate on their snow-driving skill.

Note: I am not racisit! Stereotypes exist for a reason (usually); they do not exist to judge people, nor to discriminate against them. Any appearance of racism is completely accidental. Have fun, people - go watch Carlos Mencia or something.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Saturday, December 15, 2007

The finals are done, man.

Does anything feel so good as getting through a semester? All this stuff that I've been worrying about for the last four months is now done.

--big sigh--

Friday, December 07, 2007

The Cluetrain Manifesto

I came across this site the other day and it struck me how easy it would be to substitute "the church" for "companies/corporations" and "the unchurched" for "markets" in nearly all of these points. There are some profound statements made:

14. Corporations do not speak in the same voice as these new networked conversations. To their intended online audiences, companies sound hollow, flat, literally inhuman.

16.
Already, companies that speak in the language of the pitch, the dog-and-pony show, are no longer speaking to anyone.

19.
Companies can now communicate with their markets directly. If they blow it, it could be their last chance.

20.
Companies need to realize their markets are often laughing. At them.

21.
Companies need to lighten up and take themselves less seriously. They need to get a sense of humor.

22.
Getting a sense of humor does not mean putting some jokes on the corporate web site. Rather, it requires big values, a little humility, straight talk, and a genuine point of view.

23.
Companies attempting to "position" themselves need to take a position. Optimally, it should relate to something their market actually cares about.

24.
Bombastic boasts—"We are positioned to become the preeminent provider of XYZ"—do not constitute a position.

25.
Companies need to come down from their Ivory Towers and talk to the people with whom they hope to create relationships.

26.
Public Relations does not relate to the public. Companies are deeply afraid of their markets.

27.
By speaking in language that is distant, uninviting, arrogant, they build walls to keep markets at bay.

28.
Most marketing programs are based on the fear that the market might see what's really going on inside the company.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

mmmm papers


Yup, I'm writing papers (again). Who am I kidding? I pretend to hate all this stuff, but when it comes down to it, I really enjoy the academic pursuits. I'm excited to share what I learn. Here's a teaser - I'm writing now on how the internet has changed the way that we think and how preaching needs to respond to that change in order to continue to be relevant.

Update: I'm done! I'm not sure if it's any good, but I'm done. So, if you want to wade through my writing you can check it out here. I promise I won't be mad if you have some constructive criticism for me (I actually like it).

Friday, November 16, 2007

Skyler from the AV club


So we received free tickets to see Beowulf at an advanced screening on Tuesday. I'm always stoked about something free. We probably wouldn't have seen this movie in the theater if it wasn't free. Overall a pretty good deal.
Obligatory Review:
I liked the creative liberties that they took with the story. The author Neil Gaiman helped to write the screenplay, so it has some great fiction elements. I was caught up in the story hoping and fearing with the characters. The action was fun, fantastic, and beautifully rendered. I will say that there are no truly dynamic characters - this is more of a character study than it is a character development.
The CGI is phenomenal. I'm just amazed at the level of the technology (and I still love technology . . .). It's still not a complete replacement for live action, but when there was no motion the images were photo-real. The CGI is betrayed by the motion; it was the little things like a stiffness in the cheeks or lips as they talked or in their arms and legs as they walked. So close, but not quite enough to fool me into thinking that it's real.
Blog entry thoughts:
So for all the free-goodness of this movie experience, there were a few flaws that crept into the experience. First, it was in 3D - which was kind of cool, but there were certain scenes where they played with the effect a little bit too much. It was distracting at times to have a spear leaping out of the screen or having horses leaping over my head.
Second, this event was hosted by some radio/TV hosts from local stations. I saw them talking to each other in the front of the theater and a thought occurred to me, so I shared it with the wife: TV and Radio hosts are the kids who were nerds in the AV club in high school. The desperately wanted to be cool, but were shut out from the popular group. After growing up they found their chance to "be cool" by being on TV/Radio, but their definition of cool is still based on high school. That's why DJ's tell some of the stupidest jokes and laugh constantly about farts. The wife says, "Maybe."
So, before the movie started they took it upon themselves to work the crowd: "Is everyone excited?! I can't hear YOU!! OK, show me you're excited by chanting: Beowulf, Beowulf, BEOWULF!" The wife looks at me and says, "You're right." Sad as it is, they were doing everything they could to be "cool" for the ghosts of their high school disappointments.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Geek-crush

If anyone remembers the movie "The Last Starfighter" from ought-4, er, I mean '84, then you will probably know my pain that they never actually made the game that was played in the movie . . . until now. That's right, someone found the old movie prop cabinet and got the game from Atari - presto-chango - it exists now.

That is all.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Saturday, October 27, 2007

blog-therapy

I think that it might be possible to determine my mood and level of productivity by the frequency of posts on my blog. Of late I have been in a funk and obviously not posting much. It came to a head with a much needed (and much avoided) conversation last week. The public version is that I was confronted with some stuff in my life that I was trying very hard to avoid, but it is for the best. My motivation and organization skills are lacking and they need to be bolstered for me to be effective in ministry (especially in church planting).

I'm trying to use the method that Ike recommended, but I have yet to find a tool set that works for me. Google Calendar is too light (I can't create sub-sets for projects etc.), Outlook is too, I don't know, too Microsoft--I guess. I've never been successful using a day planner or a Palm Pilot to keep myself organized. I need a tool that is ubiquitous, transparent, and powerful. Any thoughts?

Friday, October 12, 2007

Literally

I know that this has been annoying people for quite a while (anyone remember the SNL skit?), but it seems that recently there has been a rash of incorrect use of the word 'literally'. I just heard a local weatherman refer to the temperature change in the coming week by saying: "The bottom will literally drop out."

I don't claim to always employ perfect grammar, but flagrant misuse of the language easily annoys me. When using a figurative metaphor (the antithesis of 'literal') one ought not refer to it as literal; especially when one's profession is to communicate.

I just noticed that I've tried really hard to write this post using correct grammar and syntax - isn't that ironic?*


*I'm laughing to myself thinking about the fact that 'ironic' is another word this is often misused (as I just did, thereby making the entire post somewhat ironic). Oh, man - I'm so funny (to myself).

Thursday, October 11, 2007

I'm famous . . . er . . . something



Due to my mad commercial-identifying-skillz I was rewarded with a blog about me over nyah. I thought it was pretty funny (haha funny, not the other kind of funny). Chiggity-check it out . . . if you want to.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Reformation, Restoration, Reclamation


For those who are not familiar with church history here is a brief overview (with generalized dates):
AD 33 - The Way starts in Jerusalem
400 - Christianity is State religion of the Roman Empire
1000 - Catholic Church splits from the Eastern Orthodox Church
1500's - The Reformation breaks from the Catholic Church (and creates other denominations.
1800's - The Restoration Movement seeks to continue the work of the Reformation and restore the church to the first century teaching and practice.

Ok, are you still with me? Thanks. So in my school work I've been reading the biography of a guy named Walter Scott (you can find it here). He was one of the founders of the Restoration movement (today the Churches of Christ, Christian Churches, and Disciples of Christ). People of his day were keen on seeing themselves as reformers in the vein of Luther et al; today people are talking about a new Reformation. I used to agree (and I may still, I'm not sure), but now I think we need something different. Luther and Scott and all their contemporaries had the luxury of working to change the church which lived in a culture that was mostly Christian. Today we live in a culture where Christianity is moving more and more to the fringes of society. We don't have the luxury of trying to change other people within the church when so many outside the church are living without any relationship with God.

So here's my plea: let's start a Reclamation Movement. Stan Granberg has said on many occasions that it is the job of the church to love God's lost people, but we usually only love those in the church. We need to work to reclaim God's people from sin and pain and poverty. We need to pour our passion and energy into reuniting God and his people. Reformation and restoration will happen within the church when we focus on Reclamation, but if we keep our focus on restoration/reformation then the reclamation may never happen. So, who's with me? Who wants to join the Reclamation Movement?

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Wow

This is from: "Unchurched want undiluted preaching, most value Bible," Thom S. Rainer, 30 Jun 2004.


Mandy L., a formerly unchurched woman from Montana, spoke softly but firmly. "When we were lost, we were looking for something that would not be like the world we were in. We were looking, even if we didn’t realize it at the time, for the supernatural, for beliefs that transcend the unbelieving world around us. It was really sad to go to churches that thought they were being relevant when they were really just being worldly. I got out of those churches as quickly as I could."


I was reading this for a class and had to share it.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Mac vs. PC

I think these are pretty funny and I hope you will too, but here's the rule: don't get all mad at me for thinking these are funny. Ok? Ok.

Enjoy







Thursday, September 20, 2007

Robo-Bambi's first steps

I've been sick lately, so you'll just have to be satisfied with this. Note how robots are trying to look cute, so as to allay our fears . . .

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Liberals think faster, Conservatives think harder


So the folks over at UCLA did a little study on the brain activity of political liberals and conservatives. They asked people who consider themselves to be very conservative or very liberal to participate in a study which measures the difference between reaction and habit. Read the article if you want more information.

"Exploring the neurobiology of politics, scientists have found that liberals tolerate ambiguity and conflict better than conservatives because of how their brains work.

Previous psychological studies have found that conservatives tend to be more structured and persistent in their judgments whereas liberals are more open to new experiences. The latest study found those traits are not confined to political situations but also influence everyday decisions.

The results show "there are two cognitive styles -- a liberal style and a conservative style," said UCLA neurologist Dr. Marco Iacoboni"

The article goes on to say that there can be no value judgement between the different thinking styles - both have their strengths and weaknesses. This may, however, explain why it is so difficult for liberals and conservatives to agree. Where do you find yourself on this spectrum? Does this explain how you think & vote?

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Where do I belong?



So I'm sitting in a Christian coffee shop (free wi-fi = good) and working on some homework and stuff. As I'm sitting here I realize that I feel pretty out of place. They're piping Jesus-music over the speakers and they have autographed pictures of Jennifer Knapp and Third Day up on the walls. I remember a time when this would offer me a comfortable feeling, knowing that I'm surrounded by my "own kind". But now I'm not one of these people.

The odd thing is that I don't feel totaly comfortable in a "secular" environment either. I wonder if that's how I'm supposed to feel - never comfortable anywhere, really. That reminds me of a conversation I had recently about living life like a missionary. Maybe that's a part of the problem with North American Christianity - we've made it our goal to be comfortable, when all along we should be living like our comfort doesn't really matter that much. I don't know really.

Note: I really hate the use of the term "secular". In my experience it's used by Christians to demonize and denigrade anything that is not produced by Christians (e.g. secular-music). I think what pisses me off the most is that by calling the other stuff "secular" it makes the assumption that what is left is "sacred" as those are the only two possible categories, and I'm not ready to label much of the product of the Christian Corporate Machine as sacred. I think that category should have more meaning and power.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

I like football, not football


I like football. It's finally back with all the excitement of college football's season-long playoffs and professional football's unfolding drama. Amazing plays, hard hits, last second field goals (thank you Josh Brown).

Here's what bothers me: all these comercials about soccer (a.k.a. football) that are trying to convince me to like the sport or something. Blah-blah-Beckham, whatever. I know that it's the job of the advertisers to get me to like something, but it's the tactic they use that really bothers me. Don't tell me that if I really watched soccer I would like it, or if there's a big star I would like it, or that the rest of the world likes it so I should too. That's all pretty specious reasoning. Can't I just not like the game based on having given it a try?

I don't care if you like soccer (I don't care that most of the world likes soccer). Just don't try to make me like it with you. I've tried it, several times, and it hasn't gotten any better. I also don't like watermellon, I never have really. Every once in a while I'll try a piece again just to make sure: yup, still don't like it.

By the way, Beckham is already injured and may be out for the season.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Sexual Harrassment . . . Monkey?


I couldn't make this stuff up - I just couldn't.


From the source article:
If you live in the small village of Nachu in Kenya, watch out, because a group of approximately 300 marauding monkeys is out to steal your food, sexually harass your women and attack and kill your livestock! In a truly amazing incidence of interspecies communication, a group of vervet monkeys, Chlorocebus pygerythrus, is using sexual harassment to intimidate women and children, who are responsible for growing maize, potatoes, beans and other crops for their farming community, causing them to lose their main food supply so they now are dependent upon famine relief to survive.


So these cute little monkeys are terrorizing women and children with "sexually explicit gestures" so they can steal some corn. Stick that one in you mental picutre maker and see what comes out.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Catharsis


So I've been thinking about atonement metaphors and stuff. I've heard about these missionaries who go to a tribe and have to figure out how to express what Jesus did to this new culture. Sometimes they have to get pretty creative to figure out a metaphor that connects with the culture.

So has anyone guessed where I'm going with this? You're so smart!

I've become more and more convinced that our standard slew of atonement metaphors no longer connect to our culture. Without a solid moral standard it's hard to convince people that they need to be relieved of their guilt. People are often deeply offended by a God who would demand his son's death to appease his wrath.

So what's the answer? I have a suggestion. Let's talk about atonement as a healing process (the Greek work is katharsis from whence we get the word cathartic). It's a biblical concept (1 John 2:1-2) and it lines up with a lot of things that our culture is hungry for. The salvation process is about healing broken people in a holistic manner (salvation includes physical, emotional, and spiritual aspects). Healing is for everyone, not just those with certain sins - we're all in need of healing and we will always be in the process of healing.

What do you think? Is there really this need? Is this a good metaphor?

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

The blog about nothing

I'm sorry for the lack of good blogging lately. I just haven't been inspired to share much with the online world. It's not as if life has stopped, but there's just not anything that makes me want to blog right now.

The wife got a job (at The Alma Matter), so I'm stoked about that.

We've been trying to find a place in our new church and a place in Portland. To be honest we still feel like we're imposters sometimes, like we're not really church planters or not really Portlanders.

I'm trying to figure out how to finish school. I thought I had things so well planned, but now that I'm 2000 miles away it's less easy than I anticipated.

We're excited to have some friends coming to visit in a few days (but it's still a little stressing to get our house in working order before they get here).

Still working on raising support and all of those things necessary for church planting.

I'll try to post something funny or philosophical or robotesque in the near future.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

What are you doing on Friday?

According to this website this is what I would look like as a character on the Simpson. You would think they're trying to raise simpsons awareness or something. It's almost like there is something happening this week that relates to the Simpsons in some way.

Friday, July 06, 2007

It's funny

Even though it has been a while since I've posted about robots, there are still people who know of me through my blog--and they only know me as the 'robot guy'. Well, in order to maintain my world fame, here's a little bit more coverage of the rise of the machines - beware . . . er . . . something.

First up: Soccer (a.k.a. futball) will soon be ruled by the machines, and since we know that 95% of the world lives and breathes 'futball' this will spell the end for every nation except the good ol' USofA. I have to wonder if the unexplainable popularity of soccer is in fact due to the plans of the machines. Good job America! Don't give in to their plotting, we may yet survive to power the machines with our BTU's!




Finally, the Australians have made it clear that the mob will soon employ robots to dominate the world. I can't say it better than the article itself:
"Technology such as cloned part-robot humans used by organised crime gangs pose the greatest future challenge to police, along with online scamming, Australian Federal Police (AFP) Commissioner Mick Keelty says."

Monday, July 02, 2007

Neo-Platonism Sucks

So, I spent some time looking in to the major questions posed by atheists to theists. They usually take the form of questioning reality in light of the nature of God. So: If God is so good, why is their pain and suffering? Or: If God is all knowing, then how can we have free will?

So, here's my problem: these descriptions of the nature of God do not come from Judeo-Christian teachings, but from Neo-Platonic philosophy and other external sources. Way back in the day when Christianity was trying to find its own place in the world a guy named Justin talked about how much Christianity lines up with the teachings of the great philosophers. He did this so that Christians would face less persecution and as a way to try and convert his peers. The problem is that he began the process of integrating this pagan philosophy with Christianity and we're still dealing with the results.

So these philosophers said that the ultimate creator god was unchangeable, all powerful, all knowing, etc. And these ideas were applied to the Christian God early on. The problem lies in the fact Yahweh never presents himself in these terms. Yahweh is jealous and forgiving and loving and creative and angry and merciful - far from being unchangeable. Yahweh is limited in power - either due to his own choice or due to his nature or some unknown other reason - it is clear though that there are things that Yahweh cannot accomplish. Yahweh has limited knowledge - he knows far more than humans do, but it is not clear that he knows what we will choose or exactly how the future will unfold (though he has a much clearer idea than we do).

I could go on, but then I think people would get bored and stop reading. I'll stop now and let the arguments begin.

Now here's the tricky part . . .

I don't know what to say about this. Movie branding at a whole new level. You would have to go to Seattle or San Francisco to find one near you.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Portland is Good

So, for our date this week (we made a commitment early in our marriage to date once a week), we walked over to the Rose Garden at Washington Park in Portland. Yes, we walked - we're that close and it's that nice out. Portland Rocks!

Check some pictures from our jaunt.



Thursday, May 31, 2007

Update on the Move

So the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry (or so I've heard). Due to the need for a permit from the city of Portland we won't be able to have our stuff delivered until Tuesday, June 6, so please don't show up on Monday looking to help because there won't be much to do. We'll have the truck delivered between 9 and 10am on Tuesday morning so we will probably get started moving stuff into the apartment around 10:30 or 11.

Give me a call if you can help and I will tell you where to go. Five-zero-three - four-nine-zero - eight-two-eight-three.

We look forward to seeing all our Rose city friends very soon.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

It's Here!

So they just pulled up and parked our trailer for moving. It's really real . . . for reals.



We're using a company called Upack where they park a comercial trailer and we fill it up with all our crap . . . er stuff. Then we install a divider and they fill the rest of the trailer with pallets of beanie-babies or something. Then they send it across the world to where we want to live and we unload it in Portland.

It's cool because we get to drive our own car and take our own sweet time and we get to see family on the way - awesome!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Guess what

We're moving back to Portland!

We are leaving Memphis just before Memorial Day and should be in the Rose City by the end of May. We're moving to NW Portland to be close to where the Agape church of Christ is meeting and to be close to where we want to plant a church in 18 months.

I'm through 3 years of my Master's degree and will finish from Portland while working with Ron Clark and the Agape church. That way the end of my degree will shape me for the next phase in our ministry: church planting in Portland.


We could use some help if you are up for it:
1. Praypraypraypray - God is in charge of safety and provision please talk to him about us.
2. Lift-n-move - On June 4/5 we will be unloading our stuff into our new diggs it sure would be nice to have some help (pizza bribes will be offered).
3. Networking - I'm working on transferring within Starbucks, but right now Andrea doesn't have a job. We've sent out some resumes, but don't have anything lined up yet. If you know of anything would you please let us know?
4. Support - If any of you blog-reader-type-people are being financially blessed right now would you consider supporting us? We're working with Kairos so any support should be sent to them with my name in the memo field. That way it will be tax deductible and all that good stuff.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

600 year old music

If you like music or history or science or all of the above you will be facinated by this story and the video below.

The short of it is that some people discovered a musical notation system embeded in the stone in a Scottish Church. They were able to decode it and now the music is being sung again. I can't describe the coolness of the notation system better than the video shows it, but basically the notation is a picture of what the soundwaves look like, so it is possible to specify an exact pitch.

Watch the video!

Friday, April 13, 2007

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

pomo-scopic


If it's true that pomo's reaction to mo isn't really a worldview - then what is? I mentioned in my previous post that pomo might be akin to the wilderness wanderings of the Israelites after they had left the slavery of Egypt but before they made it to the promised land of Palestine. So, I want to think a little bit about what the "promised land" might look like.

There are a few ways to get there: we could look at the philosophical conclusions of the moves that pomo has begun, or we could talk about the deficiencies of mo that need to be corrected (similar angle), or we could look at similar shifts in the past and draw some parallels.

For my part I’m not sure that the reaction to or deficiencies of a particular worldview can necessarily predict the nature of the worldview that is yet to come (a.k.a. I’m not going to try the first two ways). I think our history has a lot to tell us about our future. The last time in history where there was a huge shift in worldviews (like McLaren et al are suggesting we are going through now) was the Reformation. What was going on during the Reformation that is similar to life today? Church life? World politics? Scientific thought? Maybe, but I don’t think so.

I think that the major similarity between the Reformation and today is the advent of a major change in the way that humanity uses language. Check out the snazzy graphics:


Now, if you’re not swayed by my astounding cgi skilz, I will attempt a cogent argument (a.k.a. blah-blah-blah). Thought and language are inextricably intertwined (maybe even equivalent). Way back at the beginning people had only oral language. Then not-so-far-back in the other-day some smarty-pants invented writing (spam came about 10 minutes later). Then between brats and beers, Gutenberg managed to crank out a printing press. So, the change in language from the written word to the printed word radically changed the way that human beings use language, which changed the way that we think. The advent of the internet has (thank you, Al Gore) produced a similar change in the use of language. Therefore, the changes in thought that we see are less about philosophy (postmodernism) than they are about the tie between language and thought.

I have some thoughts about what all this means, but I want to hear from you first.

Do you agree with my premise?

How does this language shift align with pomo?

How does it go beyond pomo?

If this is true, then what will the “promised land” look like?

Thursday, April 05, 2007

pomo-thropic


So my friend Tabs asked: "is this like a pomo anonymous meeting or something? and is there more to this question that we need to delve into?"

To that I say an emphatic: idunno!

A part of me feels like the pomo discussion is all played out (but I've been in grad school forcing people to discuss it with me for the last three years). Then I get a reminder that these ideas are making their way around and it's good to revisit them once in a while.

Maybe if we work really hard we can come up with some sort of result from postmodernity. Most of the "cutting edge" churchy-pomo people are done with the term "postmodern" because it has so much baggage (art, philosophy, architecture, The Simpsons) and because (as Ty, Tim, Matt, et al pointed out) it is really just negative and reactionary.

Do you ever feel like the Israelites in the wilderness? Sometimes I just want to go back to "Egypt" where things were simple and rational and easy. Most of the time I happy to be out of "slavery", but I'm impatient to get to the "promised land". Perhaps there is value in the "wilderness" through which we travel.

Monday, April 02, 2007

pomo-phobic

So my friend Bob said the other day that some people are pomo-phobic. That is, people who are affraid of postmodernism and/or postmoderns.

Have you met a pomo-phobic? Are you one? Is this just a fear of what is different?

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Brand Gap or How Do You Brand a Church?

So, I found this presentation that discusses branding. I found a lot of parallels to the task of church planting. You might check it out if that kind of thing interests you.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Hook me up!

So I entered this contest at this website. If you go there or here and register and vote for me I could win an iPod. Please.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

fundies are terrorists

So here's my thought process:



Terrorists blow crap up and take hostages and stuff, right? What is the effect? Tighter security and more regulations and less stuff that regular people are allowed to do. You can't wear your aquarium-platform shoes on a plane any more.



Terrorists ruin it for the rest of us. That is the effect of terrorism, all of the rest of us have to suffer because some people couldn't play nice.

Then, I'm surfing around my interwebs and I find this post about GodTube, which is supposed to be YouTube for Christians or something like that. Anyway, one of the videos talks about how a banana is supposed to prove that God exists, because it's easy to eat and hold. How are people supposed to take Christians seriously when that is what they see?

Or what about the people that claim we are losing the war in Iraq because of homosexuals?

Or what about the people that promise God will give them a boat and a car if they pray over a paper hankie?

What are they accomplishing? They just get everyone else to think that all Christians are nut cases that should be mocked and feared, but never taken seriously. They're ruining it for the rest of us.

Therefore, fundies = terrorists

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

I am so freaking productive

According to this article, messy people tend to be more productive than neat people. Apparently, a little bit if disorder is good for productivity - not wasting time neatening things that don't need it, not wasting time dealing with stuff that doesn't need to be dealt with now.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

A Community Exercise pt. 2

Update: So I preached the sermon this morning. You can listen to it here or you can watch the video here. If you get a chance, let me know what you think. You can see the video that I played at the beginning here (it's pretty funny).

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Reflections on the "church"

So it's paper time again - and I want to share with you some of the tidbits that I'm learning in my "ivory tower".

So for this go I decided to look at the Hebrew antecedents to the Christian church. In the New Testament the Greek word translated as "church" is ekklesia. This was just a Greek term that meant "assembly" until the Jews/Christians got their hands on it. About 300 years before Jesus the Jews translated the Hebrew Scriptures into Greek (called the Septuagint) and the word ekklesia shows up in there about 100 times.

Most of the time ekklesia translates the Hebrew word qahal which also usually means assembly. Ekklesia never translates the synonym of qahal, 'edah - for that they use the Greek word synagogue - a gathering.

The earlier Hebrew Scriptures tend to use the word 'edah to refer to the covenant people of God, where the books written after the exile tend to use the term qahal to refer to the covenant people. Most people think that it is durring the exile that the Jews developed the Synagogue as a meeting place (since the temple was destroyed). So, after the exile 'edah/synagoge actually referred to a building.

When the Christians needed a term for their meetings they wanted to choose a Scriptural word (the Septuagint was their bible), but they didn't want to have buildings (Synagogues) but rather communities of God's people. Therefore, they chose the word ekklesia.

Fast forward to the future and another word comes into the picture - kurios-oikos (Lord's-house from the Greek) begins to metamorph into Latin and from there into the Romance languages and is the root of our word 'church'. But at that time the New Testament was in Latin and Greek - when the Reformers started to translate the bible into the common languages they sought a term to translate ekklesia and they chose (after much debate) the word 'church', even though that meant a building, not a community of God's people.

So, we are facing the same problem now that the first century Christians faced - we don't want to be identified by a building or a place, but by the God who has called us into community and has made us a people.

Spiritual Pathways

If you're curious about your own ways of connecting to God you might check out this little assessment (it's a pdf file). It's not the best tool (sometimes the questions seem a little too obvious), but it's interesting to see the ways that I connect to God and the ways that I don't really connect to God.

I'm:
Creational/Intellectual - 15
Activist/Contemplative - 12
Serving 7
Relational 6
Worship 5

That explains to me why I feel dry when I don't spend any time outside and alone. I remember times when everyone would be standing around and singing in a group and I just wanted to go outside and be away from them all. People, with every good intention, would try to bring me back to the group.

This is important to me, because it tells me that people connect to God in all sorts of different ways. As a church planter I need to empower everyone to connect with God - even if it's not the ways that I want to. Most traditional churches focus in on Worship and Intellectual and leave the other types of connection out.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Challah


I learned how to make Challah (חלה) which is Jewish Sabbath bread. This is the bread that they would bake on Friday to eat on the Sabbath. "The term challah actually refers to a small piece of dough—about the size of an egg—which is separated from the main quantity of dough" and intended to be offered to the priests. Since the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem this piece has been burned.

Our LIFE group shared this bread on Sunday night. We passed around the loaves and broke off chunks (as the Jewish Christians would have done on the Sabbath). We also shared watered down wine, similar to what they probably had two millenia ago. When it says that they blessed the bread it probably means the traditional blessing: "Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha'olam, hamotzi lechem min ha'aretz." Translated, this means, "Blessed are you, Lord our God, King of the universe, who brings forth bread from the earth".

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Because I like you


Beware-the-Ides-of-March, Shmeware-shme-Shmides-shmof-Shmmarch!


Two days hence (March 15th) Starbucks will be bringing you a free cup of coffee (you can thank me later). Between 10am and 12pm local time - go get you some!

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

What's the point?

I heard a story on NPR the other day about James Dobson and the book about him: The Jesus Machine. The author points out that Dobson doesn't want evangelicals to get involved in working against global warming or AIDS in Africa or other issues so that they can focus on the important moral imperative of ending abortion and defining marriage as between one man and one woman. Now I don't want to attack Dobson over this position, but I wonder if those two issues are really the most important for Christians.

Before abortion was legal women got abortions, even if it is outlawed women will still get abortions. This issue isn't the law, but the lives and choices of women. Shouldn't Christians be "pro-life" by helping women to have whole, healthy lives that minimize the "need" for abortions?

Homosexual marriage has been legal in the past, and even if it is legal in the future it won't change God's definition of marriage. God isn't subject to the laws of nations and marriage won't cease to be if homosexuals can sign a government contract that recognizes them as being married. What I have with my wife has very little to do with the government (they give us a tax break is about all) and almost everything to do with the work of God in our lives. Shouldn't Christians be "pro-marriage" by having marriages that are centered on God and full of mutual submission-type love?

A Community Exercise

So this dude named Doug wrote a book about preaching that caught my eye. In it he says that preaching has been the authoritative act steeped in individualism and modernity which he calls "speaching". He wants to "re-imagine" preaching as something that is rooted in the life of the community and is conversational at its heart.

So what he does is to work through his sermon text and come up with some discussion questions. Then he has a discussion with a small group. Out of that discussion he crafts his sermon. And even though he is the only one speaking in the sermon time, it is the fruit of a conversation in community.

I like the idea, and I'm wanting to put it into practice. I'm preaching in just under two weeks and I would like for you to help me. Will you have a conversation with me through comments to help me create a sermon that flows out of conversation and community?

If so, read on.

Text: Luke 21:1-4 (TNIV)



The Widow's Offering

1 As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich
putting their gifts into the
temple treasury. 2 He also saw a poor widow put
in two very small copper coins.
3 "Truly I tell you," he said, "this poor
widow has put in more than all the
others. 4 All these people gave their
gifts out of their wealth; but she out of
her poverty put in all she had to
live on."
To me, this is a very difficult text. I'm preaching as a part of a sermon series through the book of Luke that is leading up to Easter Sunday. The main emphasis of this series has been that kingdom people will give to the poor. On Easter we will take up a collection for the poor. So this text was chosen for me as a part of this series.

Context:

Jesus has entered Jerusalem as a king and is now in the temple courts. The Law-teachers approach him in order to trap him in some theological or political point so that they can carry out their plans to arrest him. They ask him about his authority and he responds with a question about the authority of John. Score one for Jesus. Jesus then tells a parable about wicked tenants that the Law-teachers knew was directed against them. Score two for Jesus. Now the Law-teachers are really steaming.

They try the political tact and ask Jesus about paying taxes to Rome. Jesus game of show-and-tell foils that scheme. Hat trick. Now the Sadducees ask Jesus an old question about marriage in the Resurrection. This is one of their favorite baits into one of their favorite arguments. They know all the possible responses and all the ways to win. Well, almost all the responses. Jesus points out that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is not a God of dead men. Oops. Four for four.

Now Jesus pushes back again - this time he turns to Scripture and asks them about interpreting the Psalms. If the Messiah is supposed to be David's son, then how does David prophecy about the Messiah and call him his Lord? How can the Messiah be both son and Lord to David?

Not even a peep out of the smarty-pants.

Then Jesus really puts the pressure on by telling his disciples to watch out for the Law-teachers. They dress in the finest of clothes and go to the best banquets, but they "devour widows houses" and they will be punished for it.

Then we get the four verses about the widow's gift and then Jesus' disciples ask him about the temple and he spends the next chapter talking about how the temple will be destroyed. So where does the widow's story fit in all this? It's not a question by Jesus or the Law-teachers. It doesn't seem to connect to the following teaching about the temple. The one verbal queue that we have is Jesus calling the Law-teacher people who "devour widows houses".

How is this widow an example to us?

She stands in contrast to the Law-teachers as an example of right action and right priorities.

She is an example of sacrifice - just as she gives all that she has to live on, so will the Christ give all he has, so should Christ-followers.

The funny thing is that Jesus never uses her as an example of giving. He's not shy about telling people to give (all through Luke he's telling people to give and to sell their possession and give to the poor). But Jesus instead focuses on her sacrifice. We never find out what happens to her. Though elsewhere Jesus says that if we seek God's kingdom first then he will provide for our needs, here we see a widow giving all her money away - we don't know if God provided for her (though we hope and trust that he did).

Why is this story here?

Jesus has been firing back at those trying to trap him. With his question about Psalms he gets them to be silent, but now he tells them that they will be punished for their excess. The exclamation point is the widow who out gives them all. They can say nothing else against Jesus in the face of such an act.

Or perhaps Jesus is tired of this endless debate about the minutiae of the Law and he want to re-focus the discussion. Here sit a bunch of rich people arguing their intellectual positions while there is an anonymous woman who is on the brink of starvation. How can they think anything else is as important as a widow who needs food? How can they think the temple is so important when a woman is about to die? She is about as low as one can be on the social ladder and still enter the temple, but she is the one that Jesus notices when he look up.

What does this look like today?

How much money goes to fighting political battles over prayer in the schools or evolution vs. intelligent design? How many people die for want of that money?

How many books are published about the wrong position of other religious groups? How many books are published about working to help the outcast?

I am so guilty.

How would you visualize this?

What pictures, videos, songs would capture this message?

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

tiggidy-tagged

I'm it (that's what Mark says anyway).

6 weird things about me:

  • I get a little ego rush every time I click the spell-check button and it does not find any misspelled words.
  • Pretty much everything I hear reminds me of a TV/Movie quote or a song.
  • About every six months I will get the "Planet of the Apes" musical (from The Simpsons) stuck in my head. ~"I hate every ape I see, from chimpan-a to chimpan-zee."
  • I've worn pantyhose on two separate occasions, but I've only dressed as a woman on one occasion.
  • I don't really care for peanut butter and chocolate together.
  • I can only think of 5 things

Uh . . . tag yourself if you want to do this. If not, then have fun on your own doing all your non-weird stuff. Just comment to let me know if you self-tagged and I will come see all your weirdness.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Panography

Thanks to some inspiration from a friend I made this panograph:




That's one of the lakes at Bonne Terre where Andrea and I went for Valentines day. We had a fancy dinner and stayed in a luxurious room and it was pretty much awesome.

Us all fancified for dinner:











Our sweet room:

More sweet pics

Hey Ya?

Ok, this is a cover of the Outkast song, "Hey Ya!". You have to hear it to believe it. It's a soulful, acoustic version by a guy who lists his musical influences as: Dave Matthews, Jars of Clay, and Pedro the Lion (just to name a few). Check it.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The "Liberal Media"


Just to give you the background: this guy started talking about how the media has a liberal bias and this guy took umbrage. That whole debate got me to thinking about the issue and of course that means you get to enjoy my rant.






The media does not have a liberal bias. That's giving them too much credit for being politically and socially aware. It has very little to do with the actual beliefs of the media and just about everything to do with what will get people to watch/listen/read. This guy makes the same point about the local news. Do any of you remember that painfully slow summer where there was just about nothing on the news . . . until the Sharks Attacked! Time Magazine labeled it the "Summer of the Shark" too bad there were fewer shark attacks in the summer of 2001 than in previous years. I bet the media sources were happy that the news picked up at the end of that summer.






Sure, pretty much every media channel (The 700 club doesn't count as real media) likes to make fun of Bush. But here's the thing: making fun of people is good TV. And it's even better TV when you make fun of someone who gets their panties in a wad because of it. Have you ever listened to or watched one of the conservative programs? Rush Limbaugh pretty much has an aneurysm on cue. Now if your job was to be on TV and you knew that you could make all the little Rushites out there fill their pantaloons if you just said a mean thing about W, what would you do? I know, you are all very nice people that respect the truth and want to see justice done in the world. Too bad you don't work in the media.






Is the media liberal? Naw. Are they conservative then? Nope. The media are ratings whores. And what do whores do? Yup, you guessed it: whatever gets them paid.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Random

So February is perhaps the most random month.

It's the only month that is consistently mispronounced.

It's the only month with 28 days.

It's a month without any real holidays (c'mon Valentines day is so freaking made up - we celebrate love on the anniversary of a massacre? sure thing . . . Halmark, I'm on to you). I think that they moved the Superbowl to February just to give the month a boost.

I love the whole black-history angle, but it seems kind of cheap that they have one (real) ethnic history month and they use the shortest one.

And have you noticed that the movies in February are just about the worst all year? It's the longest possible time to the Oscars and several months until the summer blockbusters so we get the fine cinematic masterpieces like: Norbit, Hanibal XII (Teething Ring of Gore), Ghost Rider, The Astronaut Farmer, and Jim Carrey's latest comedy: The Number 23 (I think it's about how they make Dr. Pepper).

I vote that we sleep through February. We could celebrate Mexican history and take all of our siestas from the entire year in one month.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

State of the who?

So, thanks to the advice/example of several people (some of you out there in the blog-o-sphere, even), my wife and I just completed a State of the Marriage retreat. We went out to a hotel here in town and spent last night and most of the day today talking about our marriage and looking toward the future.

If you're a married person I highly recommend such an activity. This gave us a chance to discuss pretty much all of the important stuff in our marriage without getting in a fight about it first.

We started off by discussing a purpose statement for our marriage and then we looked at our basic beliefs as a couple. Based on those we crafted some core values and some key practices and habits. Those of you who are involved in church planting may recognize some of the methods we used. We pretty much stole them, and they work for marriage too.

This led us to talking about money and ministry and sex and kids and school and chores and just about everything else. It took us quite a bit longer than I thought, but every minute was worth it. The purpose of our marriage is taken from Ephesians 5: "The purpose of our marriage is to be an example of the relationship between Jesus and the church."

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

State of the what?

Tonight President Bush is presenting his State of the Union address before Congress. Guess what that means . . . yup there's no TV tonight. What's the deal? Why does this one thing need to be on ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, PBS, CSPAN, CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, MTV2, Bravo, Lifetime, and Animal Planet? I think this should be on TV, but why do we need 1200 broadcasts? Maybe PBS could cover the event . . . or even PBS and CSPAN, that would be more than enough.

The same thing happens whenever there's some news event - every channel has to show the same crap. I was in Tacoma in 1996 and there was an earthquake (like a 5.1 or something). We were watching TV and felt the quake and said "I think that was an earthquake." Sure enough in a couple of minutes the news came on and informed us that, in fact, it was an earthquake. Great, thanks for the confirmation. What I didn't need was the next hour and a half of "news coverage" informing us that there were no reports of injuries or damage . . . "but we'll keep you posted." How much more posting do I need? Why does every channel have to be keeping me "posted" with the same crap that I don't even need on one channel?

I think all the stations should just stop reporting the "news" anyway (I'm not including CNN, Fox News, etc. in this, just network stations). If I want news I will check out my news station of choice. The old-school networks need to stop trying to do everything. Cable has shown that specialization works. We already see it: NBC has funny stuff that they stole from the BBC, Fox capitalizes on the worst in society with Cops and American Idol (wouldn't you like to see those two shows merge?), CBS has CSI on every night, and ABC . . . uh . . . I think they're still on the air. So just go with it. Don't try to be a "news" station too. We're good. Thanks for trying though.

So, Bush, in the waning moments of your presidency maybe you could have the FCC mandate that one station gets to run the important speeches (it could rotate among the networks--or you could sell it to the highest bidder, like the Super Bowl and make some scratch to cover the budget short-fall). I know where to find you when I want to watch (ahem . . . or when I want to watch the Daily Show make fun of you) and then all the rest of TV can on with life as normal. You realize that if all of TV is the same . . . well that's pretty much Communist, and if we turn communist then the terrorists have won. Bush, fight the war on "terruh" and give me my TV back!

Monday, January 15, 2007

Da Bears

Right down to the end
the 'Hawks and Bears fought the fight
the wrong kicker won.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

What can I say?

This picture pretty much says it all. It was pure chaos. My heart was in my throat until the final seconds clicked off the clock--and even after that. I think I might have an ulcer.






Seahawks 21 ---- Cowboys 20