Tuesday, December 28, 2010

a safe place

Being Safe Places for Others

When we are free from the need to judge or condemn, we can become safe places for people to meet in vulnerability and take down the walls that separate them. Being deeply rooted in the love of God, we cannot help but invite people to love one another. When people realise that we have no hidden agendas or unspoken intentions, that we are not trying to gain any profit for ourselves, and that our only desire is for peace and reconciliation, they may find the inner freedom and courage to leave their guns at the door and enter into conversation with their enemies.

Many times this happens even without our planning. Our ministry of reconciliation most often takes place when we ourselves are least aware of it. Our simple, nonjudgmental presence does it.
- from Henri Nouwen's Bread for the Journey (Dec. 28)

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

the only difference between men and boys...

...is the price of their toys!

This truly is TOO much... in a worship service even!!



maybe now I can justify adding an iPad to next year's worship budget?? HAHA

Merry Christmas!

Friday, November 05, 2010

amazing video

How fun must this have been?


Monday, August 30, 2010

the way it ought to be

This is one of the most excellent "arguments" for a unified worship style that I have ever read. Written by William Graham Tullian Tchividjian (pronounced cha-vi-jin) - a Florida native, the pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale, a visiting professor of theology at Reformed Theological Seminary, and grandson of Billy and Ruth Graham. His blog and the original article are here.

This Is The Way It Ought To Be

Given the amount of attention and feedback we’ve received this week with regard to removing the “traditional/contemporary” split in worship at Coral Ridge in favor of a blended format (you can read about it here) [and below, DT], I thought it would be a good idea to do a follow-up post going into even more detail regarding why we made the decision we made. Later this week I’ll do a post answering some of the questions we’ve been asked.

First of all, this was not first and foremost a music decision. It was a gospel decision. In other words, while I certainly don’t claim to know each and every situation in each and every local church, I don’t think a local church can experience the degree of deep, rich unity that Jesus prayed for the night before he went to the cross by having a “traditional/contemporary” split in worship. I think by segregating ourselves this way we miss out on some choice blessings that Jesus intends for his one body to enjoy.

Let me tell you a story.

A couple years ago my wife and I went to my daughter’s end of the school year kindergarten musical. As I sat there watching her sing and dance and laugh on stage with friends she adores—I was surprised by a rush of sadness that overcame me.

Some of Genna’s friends are white, some Hispanic, some black. Some come from families having very little, some from wealthy families. Some come from single-parent homes, others from homes where Mom and Dad are happily married. Some are physically uncoordinated, while others are already remarkably athletic. But to my then six-year-old daughter and her friends, none of these differences made a difference. They didn’t even seem to notice those things that, in time, will tend to separate them.

By the time Genna and her friends are in high school, our culture will have tried to convince them to join “their own kind.” Over time they’ll be informally segregated into cliques: cheerleaders with cheerleaders, nerds with nerds, jocks with jocks, artists with artists. The rich will be influenced to stick with the rich, the poor with the poor, blue collar with blue collar, white collar with white collar. Movies, magazine covers, and TV shows will influence them to believe that “beautiful people” should enjoy life with other beautiful people, leaving the unattractive to their own groupings.

By the time they reach adulthood, many of these young friends will be torn apart by the very differences God intends for us to celebrate and enjoy—differences that make each one of us unique.

During the musical, my daughter’s eyes met mine, and she waved and smiled. I did my best to hold back my tears and smile back. Unexpectedly for me, a time intended for sweet memory-making had brought a moment of sorrow. I sat there groaning inwardly for my daughter, who would soon be pressured to view human life and community very differently than she does now—very differently, in fact, than God intended.

What I experienced that afternoon was the sad reality that this world is irrefutably tribal. In spite of how open and freethinking we believe our society has become, segregation is still fashionable—now more than ever, in some ways.

We segregate by age and socio-economic classes as well as by race, physical appearance, and cultural background. We’re grouped according to likes and dislikes, preferences and personality traits. We form clans of people who all look, talk, think, and act the same. Some of this separation is both understandable and unavoidable. From elementary school through high school, academic institutions separate students according to age, recognizing the benefit of age-appropriate teaching. But for the most part, when people separate from those who are different, they miss out on so many things intended to enhance human life and relationships.

In The Four Loves, C. S. Lewis mentions two friends, Ronald and Charles. After one of them died, Lewis realized there was no consolation to be found in the possibility that he and the surviving friend might now actually “get” more of each other as a result. “Far from having more of Ronald, having him ‘to myself’ now that Charles is away, I have less of Ronald.” He would never again, for example, observe Ronald’s unique reaction to one of Charles’s jokes. Lewis notes, “In each of my friends there is something that only some other friend can fully bring out. By myself I am not large enough to call the whole man into activity; I want other lights than my own to show all his facets.”

The same dynamic of relational loss is at work when we segregate according to kind. We see and experience much less, not more, when we gravitate toward, and surround ourselves with, those who are just like us. When young are separated from old, rich from poor, black from white, “traditional” from “contemporary”, our world becomes a much smaller and less remarkable place. Our preferences and perspectives remain plain and narrow. We lose sight of the beauty and the brilliance that accompany gospel wrought diversity.

You see, when the gospel really grabs you, something happens.

Some of my closest friends today are people I would never have hung out with in high school. That’s as it should be—the work of God the Son reconciling us to God the Father must also result in our reconciliation with one another. When we come to God through repentance and faith in Christ, we come into a new relationship with God’s people, many of whom are quite different from us. The church ought to exemplify a radically unusual social order because it integrates people who are very unlike one another.

In Paul’s day the world was rigidly divided between Jew and Gentile, slave and free, male and female. Those walls of separation were thick, and the groups on each side were hostile. But that didn’t stop Paul from boldly proclaiming God’s intention to establish a new community—the church—that not only included all these but also allowed them to enjoy deeply interdependent relationships. As Paul argued for the Gentiles’ place in God’s redemptive plan, he said, “There is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call upon him” (Romans 10:12). As Paul decried certain Jewish leaders for teaching that the sign of circumcision was a condition for justification, he wrote, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). And when he addressed class distinctions threatening to divide the church, he asserted our newness in Christ, in which “there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all” (Colossians 3:11). If he were writing to the 21st Century church you could almost hear him say, “There is neither ‘traditional’ nor ‘contemporary’ worship; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

Paul kept affirming a foundational reality that always accompanies true gospel belief: when God makes us one with Christ, he also makes us one with each other, removing the barriers of separation erected by our society. In contrast to the tribal-mindedness of the world around us, the church is to bring together people who would remain separated in any other sector of society. The divisive and fundamentally worldly notions of class, race, economics, and age prove to be painful sources of loneliness, fragmentation, and alienation in the modern world—things the church should strive against in establishing a new community.

The primary reason, though, that stylistic segregation in worship shrinks our souls is because it prevents us from knowing God deeply. The only way to know him deeply is to have many different types of Christian people in your life, since each person will help to reveal a part of God that you can’t see by yourself. This means the great tragedy of segregation isn’t so much that we see less of each other but that in separating from each other we see less of God. All of us need other lights than our own to see more of his myriad facets.

So, we miss out on some great things God intends for us to enjoy when we separate in worship according to musical tastes. The idea to do this comes, not from the Bible, but from American consumerism and we adopt this practice to our own peril.

As my friend Steven Phillips rightly says, we ought to use the best music, prayers, and traditions of our Christian past, so that our worship is guided and enriched by our fathers in the faith. In doing this we demonstrate that our Christian faith reaches back thousands of years. And we ought also to use the best new songs and styles – to “sing a new song to the Lord” as the Psalms say – so that we can demonstrate that the grace of God is ever new. God’s saving power is available now, in the present day, to all who call on Him in faith.

By musically blending things in this way we exercise love toward those who resonate with different musical tastes than us. We recognize that our worship service is a shared time and a shared space, so that if a particular song or style doesn’t inspire us, we can still look across the sanctuary and give thanks from our hearts for the diversity of people who are here. The gospel of Jesus Christ invites us to look across the aisle and say, “Though this song or style may not appeal to me, I see that God is using it to move you. I love you in Christ and I’m glad you’re here.”

Brothers and sisters, this is the way it should be–especially when we gather for worship! And thank God, this is the way it now is at Coral Ridge!


We Are One

Today was a monumental, historic day at Coral Ridge.

For many years Coral Ridge had two very distinct worship services–one contemporary and one traditional. The result was the unintentional development of two different churches under one roof. It wasn’t healthy. So back at the end of Spring we started talking about what we could do to unify our one large church.

Given our desire to re-plant Coral Ridge around a holistic and comprehensive understanding of the gospel we concluded that we needed to make a change. After all, since the gospel is the good news that God reconciles us not only to himself but also to one another, the church should be breaking down walls, not erecting them. God intends the church to be demonstrating what community looks like when God’s reconciling power is at work.

Most churches would agree that any segregation arising from racial or economic bigotry runs contrary to the nature of the gospel and should not be tolerated. But there’s another kind of segregation, perhaps more subtle, that many churches today have unapologetically embraced.

Following the lead of the advertising world, many churches and worship services target specific age groups to the exclusion of others. They forget that, according to the Bible, the church is an all-age community, and instead they organize themselves around distinctives dividing the generations: Busters, Boomers, Millennials, Generations X, Y, and Z. Many churches offer a traditional service for the tribe who prefer older music and a contemporary service for the tribe who prefer newer music. The truth is, however, that if the only type of music you employ in a worship service is old, you inadvertently communicate that God was more active in the past than he is in the present. On the other hand, if the only type of music you employ in a worship service is new, you inadvertently communicate that God is more active in the present than he was in the past.

The only way to musically communicate God’s timeless activity in the life of the church is to blend the best of the past with the best of the present. In other words, we must remember in our worship that while “contemporary only” people operate with their heads fixed frontwards, never looking over their shoulder at the stock from which they have come, and “traditional only” people operate with their heads on backwards, romanticizing about the past and always wanting to go back, the Church, in contrast from both extremes, is called upon to be a people with swiveling heads: learning from the past, living in the present, and looking to the future. That’s the only way to avoid in worship what C.S. Lewis called “chronological snobbery.”

You see, when we separate people according to something as trivial as musical preferences, we evidence a fundamental failure to comprehend the heart of the gospel. We’re not only feeding toxic tribalism; we’re also saying the gospel can’t successfully bring these two different groups together. It’s a declaration of doubt about the unifying power of God’s gospel. Generational appeal in worship is an admission that the gospel is powerless to join together what man has separated.

Building the church on stylistic preferences or age appeal (whether old or young) is just as contrary to the reconciling effect of the gospel as building it on class, race, or gender distinctions. In a recent interview J. I. Packer said, “If worship services are so fixed that what’s being offered fits the expectations, the hopes, even the prejudices, of any one of these groups as opposed to the others, I don’t believe the worship style glorifies God.” One of the leading ways the church can testify to God’s unifying power before our segregated world is to establish and maintain congregations and worship services that transcend cultural barriers, including age and musical styles.

So, I am thrilled that as of this morning Coral Ridge broke down a thick wall that had been separating this church family for years. Because of our firm commitment to and love for the gospel, we worshiped together as one body around one table united to one Christ by one Spirit–and we felt God’s infinite approval!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

listening with our wounds

Listening With Our Wounds

To enter into solidarity with a suffering person does not mean that we have to talk with that person about our own suffering. Speaking about our own pain is seldom helpful for someone who is in pain. A wounded healer is someone who can listen to a person in pain without having to speak about his or her own wounds. When we have lived through a painful depression, we can listen with great attentiveness and love to a depressed friend without mentioning our experience. Mostly it is better not to direct a suffering person's attention to ourselves. We have to trust that our own bandaged wounds will allow us to listen to others with our whole beings. That is healing.
- Nouwen, Bread for the Journey (July 10)

Monday, June 14, 2010

thanks for 25 years!

Following is the text from my thank you to Truth Tabernacle of Praise on the occasion of my 25 year ministry anniversary celebration yesterday...

Well surprise! This seems like an episode of the surreal life...

It's hard to believe I've been doing music and leading worship in church for 25 years! When I started doing this on June 2, 1985 as an interim, I had no idea my life would take this crazy 25 year journey.

All I know to say is that I'm very humbled and so appreciative of your presence on this occasion - so many of you have traveled great distances to be here. Am I surprised? I have to say that I did find out last week from someone via email who obviously didn't know this was to be a surprise... BUT I am surprised so many of you would come to be present today!

I have to thank some people specifically, and I'll try to make this quick, but you only celebrate 25 years in the ministry once, right?

A special thanks to each of you... from each 4 of the different churches I've served

First Baptist Church of Callahan, FL - my home church - where I started as an interim and ended up staying for 12 years. For most church members to have known you since you were born, and still follow your leadership for 12 years - is nothing short of amazing. I thank each of you, and Pastor Lynn Hyatt for believing in me and seeing something that I didn't even see myself. For going along with some of my grandiose ideas back when I was young and stupid and didn't know some of the things we DID "couldn't be done", and for helping me grow up - I'm grateful. Also want to recognize my good friend, Steven Clifton, who served as our children's pastor, and got me started hacking around on repairing/upgrading computers! (He adopted my mom & dad, and they call him "son" as well)

Mabel White Memorial Baptist Church in Macon and Pastor Steve Johnson. Probably the most gifted "large" choir I ever had the honor of directing... and an amazing group of soloists! I learned so much about leadership and team building from Steve. We really had some incredible times of corporate worship there - made the first CD ever released by the choir there - relocated from the old church on Eisenhower to the new location on Bass Rd. It's there that I met David Duncan who became and has remained one of my closest friends, through thick and thin, and so many ups and downs. Thank you, David, for being here today, and for being a friend, like Jesus, who sticks closer than a brother!

I'm also very thankful for my time at Rehoboth Baptist Church. That statement is probably hard for some of you to fathom, but I have always and still firmly believe in the sovereignty of God, and that each assignment God gives you is in some way preparing your for your next assignment. Had I not been called to Atlanta by Pastor Bobby Atkins, I would not be here today. Even though there were some very dark days there, there was a remnant of people who really wanted the freedom in worship that Pastor Bobby and I attempted to facilitate. ..... Another reason I'm thankful for Rehoboth, is because without Rehoboth and everything that some of us experienced there, there would be no Truth Tabernacle of Praise. Romans 8:28 is true... ALL things work together for our good.

What can I say about Truth Tabernacle of Praise (affectionately known around here as TTOP)? This IS a place of freedom... a place for broken and wounded people... where ANYone is welcome, and in the spirit of adoption, invited to become a part of this family of believers, which truly is like a family. The people that make up this body have shown me what the kindness of God looks like. Although small and few in numbers compared to many churches, they have the biggest heart of compassion I've ever known. Thank you for sticking in there through thick and thin, and for making this a safe place of rest, refuge, and restoration for everyone - even pastors! After leaving my home church, I feel that I'm finally back at a place I can call home - Truth Tabernacle of Praise!

Yvette & all of her "helpers". My family. One of the reasons I'm not surprised today is that my wife is one of those people who just cannot let a special occasion go by without some sort of celebration, so in my mind it was really not a matter of IF but of WHEN. Honestly, this celebration really should be about her - someone who really had no interest in being in the ministry 25 years ago, but was willing to go along with the idea to be with me. Why she would agree to be a ministry wife or marry me is still a mystery, but I feel like SHE has become the REAL minister in our family. I think at least a few of the churches we served tolerated me so they could keep her! Anyway, thanks so much, dear, for standing beside me and working as hard if not harder than I do every day - I love you for it.

Needless to say I am very humbled by it all. Your part in my 25 years of ministry celebration will not ever be forgotten.

So, what have I learned in 25 years? Many things, but I'd like to share just a short list of what I feel are the most significant things.
  • never say never
  • you can't make anyone do anything; you can try to manipulate, but it only makes you and the other person miserable
  • you never REALLY know what someone has gone through or is going through unless you've walked in their shoes
  • God's grace is big enough for everyone, and can cover whatever you've done or will do
  • God can use you in spite of yourself - he has done that most of my 25 years ministry...
  • finally, and most importantly; the story of the prodigal son is for all of us, and applies to each of us... I've been the brother who stayed home, resentful of the other brother who went out and enjoyed the wild life. I've had my years of being the prodigal - drifting further and further away from God in my own selfishness. And now it's my turn to be the father in the story... one who sees both sons, and can offer a place of safety to come home.
You know, each of us is someplace on that journey - either home, away from home, leaving home, or on the way back home - the beautiful thing is the Father (our Heavenly Father God) already knows we were going to be where we are, but He's always there - waiting, watching, and looking for us so He can run meet us and welcome us back home!

Why do I worship the way I do? ...seems crazy and out of control to some along the years... I guess it's because I've always really known me, and knew that God even knew me better than that, but still He loved me anyway. That can't help but make a messed up, imperfect sinner (turned saint by His grace and mercy) sing out loud, shout, dance, kneel, or fall on the floor in His presence.

I’m just one beggar, trying to point other beggars to bread, really. One who is still discovering the freedom God desires for us in worship and that wants to encourage others toward the same. Thank you for your love and support over these last 25 years. I would definitely not be the person that I am today without each of you. Keep worshiping God with all your heart, with all your mind, soul and strength!!

Thank you!

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

our best effort

Great quote from Francis Chan (read full article here)
Churches that are built through our effort rather than the Spirit's will quickly collapse when we stop pushing and prodding people along.

Now we should push, prod, and persuade men, but I've learned to spend a lot more time praying and asking the Spirit to move and begging God to send forth laborers.

The more you look at Scripture, the more you realize that nothing happens unless God is behind it. Jesus is building his church. I just want to be a part of that. I'll keep doing my work, but the fruit is up to him. We can only pray, "Please, please, please let us see your Spirit at work. May it be like a mighty wind that moves us."

Friday, May 14, 2010

Friday video - hilariously sad but true

Oh my, I can't tell you how many times I've seen this done...

Friday, May 07, 2010

supper tonight (off topic)

What was for supper tonight? (with Dad cooking!)

Easy Cajun Tilapia
my variation: sprinkle with breadcrumbs while sauteing in skillet.

How was it? very yummy, if I do say so myself!

Also saving this for next time...
Baked Tilapia with Cajun Bread Crumb Topping

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Monday, April 26, 2010

2 good days from Oswald

The last two days from My Utmost for His Highest have been outstanding.
The Warning Against Desiring Spiritual Success
Apr 24 2010
Do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you . . . —Luke 10:20

Worldliness is not the trap that most endangers us as Christian workers; nor is it sin. The trap we fall into is extravagantly desiring spiritual success; that is, success measured by, and patterned after, the form set by this religious age in which we now live. Never seek after anything other than the approval of God, and always be willing to go “outside the camp, bearing His reproach” (Hebrews 13:13). In Luke 10:20, Jesus told the disciples not to rejoice in successful service, and yet this seems to be the one thing in which most of us do rejoice. We have a commercialized view— we count how many souls have been saved and sanctified, we thank God, and then we think everything is all right. Yet our work only begins where God’s grace has laid the foundation. Our work is not to save souls, but to disciple them. Salvation and sanctification are the work of God’s sovereign grace, and our work as His disciples is to disciple others’ lives until they are totally yielded to God. One life totally devoted to God is of more value to Him than one hundred lives which have been simply awakened by His Spirit. (emphasis added - dt) As workers for God, we must reproduce our own kind spiritually, and those lives will be God’s testimony to us as His workers. God brings us up to a standard of life through His grace, and we are responsible for reproducing that same standard in others.

Unless the worker lives a life that “is hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3), he is apt to become an irritating dictator to others, instead of an active, living disciple. Many of us are dictators, dictating our desires to individuals and to groups. But Jesus never dictates to us in that way. Whenever our Lord talked about discipleship, He always prefaced His words with an “if,” never with the forceful or dogmatic statement— “You must.” Discipleship carries with it an option.

"Ready in Season"
Apr 25 2010
Be ready in season and out of season —2 Timothy 4:2

Many of us suffer from the unbalanced tendency to “be ready” only “out of season.” The season does not refer to time; it refers to us. This verse says, “Preach the Word! Be ready in season and out of season.” In other words, we should “be ready” whether we feel like it or not. If we do only what we feel inclined to do, some of us would never do anything. There are some people who are totally unemployable in the spiritual realm. They are spiritually feeble and weak, and they refuse to do anything unless they are supernaturally inspired. The proof that our relationship is right with God is that we do our best whether we feel inspired or not.

One of the worst traps a Christian worker can fall into is to become obsessed with his own exceptional moments of inspiration. When the Spirit of God gives you a time of inspiration and insight, you tend to say, “Now that I’ve experienced this moment, I will always be like this for God.” No, you will not, and God will make sure of that. Those times are entirely the gift of God. You cannot give them to yourself when you choose. If you say you will only be at your best for God, as during those exceptional times, you actually become an intolerable burden on Him. You will never do anything unless God keeps you consciously aware of His inspiration to you at all times. If you make a god out of your best moments, you will find that God will fade out of your life, never to return until you are obedient in the work He has placed closest to you, and until you have learned not to be obsessed with those exceptional moments He has given you.

have questions?

We spend a lot of time and energy raising questions. Is it worth it? It is always good to ask ourselves why we raise a question. Do we want to get useful information? Do we want to show that someone else is wrong? Do we want to conquer knowledge? Do we want to grow in wisdom? Do we want to find a way to sanctity?

When we ponder these questions before asking our questions, we may discover that we need less time and energy for our questions. Perhaps we already have the information. Perhaps we don't need to show that someone is wrong. For many questions we may learn that we already have the answers, at least if we listen carefully to our own hearts.
- Henri J.M. Nouwen - Bread for the Journey - April 25

Monday, April 19, 2010

freedom attracts

When you are interiorly free you call others to freedom, whether you know it or not. Freedom attracts wherever it appears. A free man or a free woman creates a space where others feel safe and want to dwell. Our world is so full of conditions, demands, requirements, and obligations that we often wonder what is expected of us. But when we meet a truly free person, there are no expectations, only an invitation to reach into ourselves and discover there our own freedom.

Where true inner freedom is, there is God. And where God is, there we want to be.
- Henri. J.M. Nouwen, Bread for the Journey, April 19

Going on 25 years of working as a church staffer this year, sadly, I've observed first hand that so many "church people" are not free, but are "full of conditions, demands, requirements, and obligations". I wonder what the church would look like if we truly were free, and did nothing but unconditionally love each other as God loves us.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

3 great questions

...for worship leaders (great questions for anyone actually)
  1. What does God desire?
  2. What does God require?
  3. How should we aspire?
Haven't read it (yet), but the questions were taken from "Levite Praise" by Dr. Cheryl Wilson-Bridges, Creation House Publisher (Questions sourced in March/April 2010 worship leader magazine)

Monday, April 05, 2010

deep roots

Trees that grow tall have deep roots. Great height without great depth is dangerous. The great leaders of this world - like St. Francis, Gandhi, and Martin Luther King, Jr., - were all people who could live with public notoriety, influence, and power in a humble way because of their deep spiritual rootedness.

Without deep roots we easily let others determine who we are. But as we cling to our popularity, we may lose our true sense of self. Our clinging to the opinion of others reveals how superficial we are. We have little to stand on. We have to be kept alive by adulation and praise. Those who are deeply rooted in the love of God can enjoy human praise without being attached to it.

- Henri Nouwen, Bread for the Journey, April 5

Sunday, March 21, 2010

God knows you...

is that disturbing or comforting?
I know what I'm doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. Jeremiah 29:11 (MSG)

Knowing the truth - that God knows everything in your life, can either be very disturbing or very comforting. It depends on your relationship to Him, whether you're trying to fool Him or not.

Have you been acting as if God is totally unaware of your life in any of these five areas?
  • God know your faults and failures, but he still loves you unconditionally.
  • God knows your feelings and frustrations, and he sees your hurt more than anyone else can.
  • God knows your future, so he can tell what you need to know.
  • God knows your fears, and he wants you to hand your worries over to him.
  • God knows your faithfulness because he sees every good thing you do.
The fact that God knows everything is a tremendous motivator for me to live a godly life. I realize that nothing in my life is in secret; nothing I face will hinder his ability to help me; nothing that is to come will catch him by surprise; nothing I fear will be too big for God's strength; and nothing I do in his name is ever done in vain.

God says, "I know what I'm doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for." (Jeremiah 29:11, MSG)
- Rick Warren

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

global warming

this is what global warming looks like in Hotlanta today... 11:30 a.m.


and to think our old pal Al Gore goes ballistic again over this stuff... here
and another great observation from here

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

iPad = iRad or iFad? (off topic)

Okay, this is an off topic post, I guess... Yes, I admit to being a tech geek. Who doesn't love a cool electronic gadget? On today's big announcement from Apple, the iPad. (I'm sorry... the name makes all this just too easy!!)

Today's iPad "show"... my thoughts... few words come to mind:

  • iPad - cute name, but i think iSlate would have been cooler. What about iTablet with a whole Moses tie in of biblical proportions? Yes, I get the whole iPod, iPad thing, but the name makes it all too easy to do what I'm about to do...
  • iSad - what I was after realizing there was not "one more thing" and that iPad was all that we were going to get from Apple today (other than a few tweaks of their software). Also iSad = the Kindle and other ebook readers... all about to become extinct with a pretty good price point offered on Apple's version of a "kindle" that has received it's glorified body. :-)
  • iRad - what the iPad could have been if Apple had been a little more forward thinking and listened to the wishes and dreams of users. And believe me there was no lack of wish lists floating around cyberspace on the subject of an Apple tablet. Unfortunately the iPad "show" (IMHO) did not live up to all the hype. I guess we can all dream of the Summer refresh hinted at today.
  • iGlad - AT&T executives, upon receiving yet another reprieve from losing their sweet Apple exclusivity deal with Stevie baby. Did you hear the sigh of relieve coming from AT&T headquarters?
  • iMad - what many of us were after realizing that (1) the 3G version of this thing will be tied (at least for the foreseeable future) to AT&T and (2) the "one more thing" that many of us hoped for was not going to happen - i.e., a refresh of the iPhone line with the option of getting one from Verizon!! Did you hear the groans from all the Verizon customers waiting to get their hands on an iPhone as well as the groans from all those locked into AT&T and tired of horrible service? Huddled masses yearning to be free (from AT&T)! Yes, Mr. Jobs, there's a MAP for that!!!
  • iBad - not offering the thing for less money on a 3G network... what happened to subsidizing the cost of new equipment? Shouldn't you get a break if you sign up for (subpar) 3G service with AT&T? Instead, you'll get to pay more for your iPad if you want 3G connectivity. That makes no sense. Also in the iBad category - not having it available today... how long have we been waiting for this thing? How long have the rumors been circulating? In the Apple hay-day, you'd hear the words, "and it's available TODAY" (instead of 60-90 days after the big event), right before you heard, "and one more thing." I guess those days are over... which brings me back to iSad.
  • iFad? probably not. There are too many addicted to having Apple's latest gizmo for this thing to be a fad. It probably will eventually change the way we use technology and computers and read magazines and newspapers - the latter being 2 things that may go the way of the dinosaur if Apple has it's way. I'll wait until the next refresh at least before being tempted - let them work out the bugs and add a few more cool features. Let the early adopters pay for the R&D and be real time beta testers. Which begs the question, how will they push updates to this thing - I guess via the iTunes store like they do with our iPods.
Alright, that's my two cents worth on this momentous day. After all that hype about their "latest creation" - a big let down - at least for me.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

incurvatus in se

The great reformer, Martin Luther, in the Lectures on Romans (1515–1516) gives the depiction of the sinner as incurvatus in se, “curved in on self”:
“due to original sin, our nature is so curved in upon itself at its deepest levels that it not only bends the best gifts of God toward itself in order to enjoy them (as the moralists and hypocrites make evident), nay, rather, "uses" God in order to obtain them, but it does not even know that, in this wicked, twisted, crooked way, it seeks everything, including God, only for itself. As the prophet Jeremiah says in Jer. 17:9: "The heart of man is crooked and inscrutable; who can know it?" i.e., it is so curved in upon itself that no man, be he ever so holy, can know it (apart from a testing experience). As it says in Ps. 19:12: "Who can discern his errors? Clear thou me from my hidden faults!"

stepping over our wounds

Stepping over Our Wounds

Sometimes we have to "step over" our anger, our jealousy, or our feelings of rejection and move on. The temptation is to get stuck in our negative emotions, poking around in them as if we belong there. Then we become the "offended one," "the forgotten one," or the "discarded one." Yes, we can get attached to these negative identities and even take morbid pleasure in them. It might be good to have a look at these dark feelings and explore where they come from, but there comes a moment to step over them, leave them behind and travel on.
- Nouwen, "Bread for the Journey" (Jan.9)

Monday, January 04, 2010

successfulness and fruitfulness

So many pastors and churches want their ministries to be successful. Perhaps that is the wrong focus. How great to be working toward a fruitful ministry instead. Success passes, but fruit remains (John 15:16).

Another great quote from Nouwen...
Fruits That Grow in Vulnerability

There is a great difference between successfulness and fruitfulness. Success comes from strength, control, and respectability. A successful person has the energy to create something, to keep control over its development, and to make it available in large quantities. Success brings many rewards and often fame. Fruits, however, come from weakness and vulnerability. And fruits are unique. A child is the fruit conceived in vulnerability, community is the fruit born through shared brokenness, and intimacy is the fruit that grows through touching one another's wounds. Let's remind one another that what brings us true joy is not successfulness but fruitfulness.
- Nouwen, Bread for the Journey (Jan. 4)