Thursday, August 30, 2007

Thought I'd Let You Know

Here are some things I think you should know:

  • Madalyn Murray O'Hair is DEAD! as a DOORNAIL! Has been since sometime after August 27, 1995. All the gorey details are here. She is NOT suing the FCC to have God's name removed from the airwaves nor is she heading up a push to have Touched By An Angel (an already defunct TV show) cancelled and removed from television.
  • In God We Trust has not been removed from the new Presidential dollar coins. The phrase is on the edge of the coin...the U.S. Mint should know!
  • I have NO INTENTION of forwarding your emails promising God will answer my prayer, grant my wish, bring me good luck, etc. God is sovereign in ALL things. He's already got things worked out and He doesn't need an email to accomplish His plan.
  • Cell phones will not cause you to blow up at the gas pump. Shell Oil never issued a warning to this effect. Email hoax debunked here.
  • Boycotting gas on ANY particular day isn't going to make a bit of difference. Think about it- you can refuse to buy gas on Thursday...Friday or Saturday, but EVENTUALLY, you're gonna buy gas! The oil companies can wait. You need them and they know it.
  • Mars didn't show up. The email stated: The Red Planet is about to be spectacular! This month and next, Earth is catching up with Mars in an encounter that will culminate in the closest approach between the two planets in recorded history. The next time Mars may come this close is in 2287. Due to the way Jupiter's gravity tugs on Mars and perturbs its orbit, astronomers can only be certain that Mars has not come this close to Earth in the Last 5,000 years, but it may be as long as 60,000 years before it happens again. FAKE! I didn't get up in the middle of the night to see the spectacle--I did walk out into my backyard around 9:00 PM and didn't see a thing.
  • Elvis is dead. He does not work at a Kroger in Minneapolis.
  • Bill Gates is not tracking your email...and he's not giving away money, especially to YOU, just for using his software. Unless you're using a MAC--you're GONNA run his software pretty much whether you like it or not.

Friday Photo

Sepia Moon

This isn't Mars--it's just the moon shot through a tree in my backyard; camera effect set to "sepia."

flickr: Friday Photo Group

I Need a Break

I need a break from some of the blogs I read. A lot of what I read online is connected in some way with doctrine/theology/church life/etc. Some of it falls under the category of "critique" of other ministries, some of it deals specifically with and in defense of the "emerging or emergent church" (however you choose to label it).

After looking at this, this, and this, I've reaffirmed my belief that some of these so-called pastors exist simply to generate as much controversy as possible--to be as flippant, "in-your-face" irreverant as they can be. One of them actually states his goal is to "tick people off." A Biblically, noble, Christ-honoring goal I must say. It makes me sick and sad at the same time. They claim they are seeing conversions in droves, but what are the people converting to? least for now, I'm taking a break from reading their tripe. My blood pressure will be better for it.

An encouraging thought: it ain't gonna last. This fad will go the way of others before them. Two years ago, you couldn't swing a dead cat in a Christian bookstore without knocking over a Purpose Driven Steak Knife Set, Purpose Driven Swiss Army Knife or Purpose Driven Combination Mouse Pad/Daily Journal/food processor! These guys and their silliness will go away...I just hate to think of the bodies of unsuspecting "followers" that will be scattered along the wayside.

The emerging bloggers won't miss me...and I certainly won't miss them.

PS: I've got set a "Prayer of Jabez" lawn furniture listed on eBay if anyone is interested.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Small Town - Pt 3

School started around here last week. I remember growing up feeling excited and, at the same time, sad about the beginning of school. It meant summer was over. No more spending the day riding bikes, fishing in the ponds around our house, swimming at the "strip pits" or the city pool. It meant going back to a regular bedtime during the week and for sure, no sleeping in!

Going back to school also meant new clothes and new shoes. I think I was in fourth grade--I got a new pair of "PF Flyers" (we called them "tennis shoes" or "sneakers"); I could run REALLY fast in those things! The new school year meant school supplies, which depending on your grade, could be pretty simple or a little more involved. In first grade, we needed a "Big Chief Tablet" and two pencils...the big fat ones, and a box of Kleenex! In Junior High or High School you needed a couple of notebooks, some pencils, a pen, colored pencils (for coloring a map of all 77 counties in Oklahoma), a compass (if you were taking Mrs. Dutton's geometry class), and maybe a three-ring binder with some loose-leaf paper. Today? The list is an entire page and includes a $800 calculator that is REQUIRED for any math class. My first calculator cost over $100 (1974) and did basic math functions, square root, and a couple of geometric functions, i.e. sin, cos, tan, etc. Today's calulators have enough number crunching power to fly the first (or maybe even current) space shuttles!

I'll never forget my first day of school--first grade. I had already attended kindergarten in the city were we had lived prior to moving to "the country." Now, because we lived out of town, I rode the bus to school. I also rode the bus, because my Mom didn't drive. It was 1964 and she did not have a driver's license. Anyway, getting on the right bus was easy--it pulled up to our driveway that morning and I got on. Getting home that afternoon was a little different. Being all of 6-years-old, I hadn't paid attention to the number of the bus I had ridden that morning.

When the bell rang that afternoon, everyone ran out to get in the bus lines. I ran out too...and there they were--not just the ONE bus I thought would be there, but the ENTIRE FLEET of buses, waiting to take all of us home! I had no idea which "bus route" I was on--I just knew MY bus was yellow and it had a lot of seats in it. I grabbed a teacher and nearly in tears, explained my situation. "Can you call your Mom or Dad at home and find out which bus you're supposed to ride," she asked. "No" I replied. "We haven't got our phone hooked up yet." Now what was I supposed to do? I don't recall how she determined which one, but the teacher finally put me on a bus, assuring me "this one will get you home." "Okay. Everything's good," I thought to myself.

About ten minutes into the bus ride, I began to recognize some landmarks. Yes, I remember the dairy down the road--and there's the house with the swimming pool (not vey common back then). I'm close to home; I'm going to make it! I looked out the front of the bus and there it was...our new house...and there was my mom, sitting on the front porch waiting for me to get off the bus and tell her all about my first day of school in our new town.

Then it happened; not 100 yards from our driveway, the bus TURNED LEFT onto a dirt rode HEADING AWAY FROM OUR HOUSE! I jumped from my seat and ran to the front of the bus. "You missed my house!" I shouted at the driver. "You're supposed to drive by the MY house." The driver firmly told me to take my seat. "But my house!" I cried. He didn't seem to care and he made it known that he had no intention of turning that bus around. He had a specific route and he was not going to deviate from it! I slumped down in my seat. I was never going to see my mom or dad again...or my little brother. Why had the teacher put me on the wrong bus? Why wouldn't that bus driver stop!? I sat there. I sat there and watched the other kids, one by one, get off the bus until I was the only one left. THEN, the bus driver said: "Now, let's see if we can find your house."

"What in the world is he thinking?!" I thought to myself. I had no idea where I was. I didn't know our address (which at the time was "Rural Route 1 Box something"). I couldn't tell him where I lived to save my soul! And so, we drove and we drove and we DROVE for what seemed like hours, but nothing looked familar to me. The driver retraced the route, but I was all turned around and scared. Finally, the driver said he had to get the bus back to the "bus barn" and that we'd try to call someone when we got there.

I remember thinking to myself: "Why hadn't I just jumped out the bus window. ANYTHING would be better than this!" By now, it was getting late, or at least it seemed like it was to me. I was scared, tired, and hungry...and I was riding in a school bus going to who knows where in hopes of somehow, miraculously finding my house. We arrived at the bus barn and parked the bus. As we were getting off the bus, I woman approached the driver. Turns out, Mrs. Hargrove was a teacher at the elementary school. Why she was in the vicinity of the bus barn at that time of day I'll never know, but I was certainly glad to see someone I thought I recognized. The bus driver explained the situation and she agreed to take over the quest to get me home. Her plan? Drive me around town until I recognized something or someone. Great plan, eh?

Well, I don't mind telling you that I wasn't very hopeful by this time. My first day of first grade had been a DISASTER and we were'nt going to find my house. What a dumb plan!...and this woman was a teacher?! Now I was going to be an orphan and grow up without a family! I'd be taken to an orphanage far away and that would be the end of that! No more parents, no more little brother, no more new house in the country, no more...then it happened. I looked up and saw him. It was my DAD! He was driving right toward us on Main Street! And he was looking for ME!!!

"There's my Dad!" I shouted. "There's my Dad!" Pointing and waving, I continued to shout, while Mrs. Hargrove frantically pounded on the car's horn and waved, trying to get my Dad's attention. Dad saw us and pulled his car over; we did the same and I jumped out of Mrs. Hargrove's car! I've got to tell you, that's the best ride home I've EVER had. I told Dad all about how I had gotten on the wrong bus---I made sure I told him about the teacher, too. Then we got home and I told Mom all about seeing her on the porch and riding around with Mrs. Hargrove. What a day! Surprisingly, I don't recall saying "I'm never going back"; we did however make sure I knew which bus I was supposed to ride: bus number 3! I don't believe I ever got on the wrong bus again.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

How To Fix Your Church

The headline read: Once Thriving Church Closing Its Doors. The newspaper article stated: "At its peak, [the church] had more than 600 members. On one Sunday, 45 new members joined...The large education wing was bustling with children. Now it stands empty. 'There are no youths in our church,' [one member] said. 'The youngest members are in their 50s, and most are in their 70s and 80s. People got older and didn't come any more.'" A trustee of the church was quoted as saying: "The theatre churches are taking over. People like to be entertained."

I wish they had called me-- I think I could have helped them out. I've been watching this church thing for a while and I think I've figured out how to prevent situations like this.

The trustee is on the right track. People don't want to come to church; they "want to be entertained." That's where you have to start. You've got to change things up a bit. Make it more fun...and for gosh sakes, don't make it sound like CHURCH! Here's a list of things (in no particular order-and certainly not a complete list) you need to change in your church if you don't want to end up like this congregation.

  • DON'T use the terms "church" or "congregation." DO use terms such as "community" or "gathering"; they sound less formal.
  • DO NOT refer to the unsaved as "sinners." Nothing bruises an individual's psyche like making them feel inferior. DO refer to them as "non-believers" or "unchurhed" (hereafter UPs).
  • Ditch the "churchy looking building. See that pointy thing on the top of the church in the picture. That's a steeple--it's means "church." "Formal church." Formal church = bad. Meet in a movie theatre, old warehouse or even better an old brewery...EVEN BETTER, an existing brewery or pub! Unchurched people love that kind of thing.
  • Pack up the hymnals! Hymns are a big turn-off for the UPs. They don't know how to sing A Mighty Fortress is Our God, and they could care less about a "bulwark." Also get rid of the organ and piano and replace them with a keyboard, couple of guitars, a bass, and at least three backup singers (aka the "worship team"). A horn section is also a nice addition. Music should "rock the house."
  • DON'T refer to the preacher as the "senior pastor." DO refer to him as the "lead pastor." Also, refer to any additional pastors as the "leadership team." (Associate Minister is a no-no.) AND the Music Minister should be refered to as: Pastor of Christian Arts, Worship, and Drama.
  • DO NOT refer to others in the church as "Brother So-And-SO" or "Sister So-And-So." "DUDE!" works for everybody.
  • Encourage your pastor to use edgy language from the pulpit. He should say things like: "I think the Bible is a f***ing scary book (pardon my French, but that's the only way I know how to convey how strongly I feel about this)!" OR "That really s**ks!" Use of the words he** and da** should not be discouraged. This makes your pastor, er uh, lead pastor sound more down to earth to the UPs.
  • DO NOT refer to sermons as "sermons." DO refer to them as "talks" or "lessons."
  • Encourage your lead pastor to blog and post comments like: "My wife IS hot and ALWAYS WILL BE and I think its biblical to brag about it (Song of Solomon) and if that makes you mad I'm sorry your's (or you) is (are) ugly!" (Just in case you think I made this one up, click here.) This makes him sound really funny and again, down to earth--AND should cause you to wish your wife was as hot as his...although "hot" is in the eye of the beholder, but I digress.
  • Change the name of your church to something like "The Hill" or "The Orchard" or"Potters House", get the idea. Never use the word "church" in the name of your community.

Of utmost importance, a church that wants to avoid the demise of the aforementioned church should put their lead pastor through an "extreme makeover." UPs are NOT comfortable with coats and ties or anything else that resembles formality. Below is an example of what you can do to make your pastor look more relevant to the UPs.

The picture on the left is a typical Senior Pastor (not the pastor of the church in the article). The picture on the right has been altered to make the pastor more appealing to the UPs. Get rid of the jacket and tie and opt for the open sport shirt. (A gift certificate to the local tanning salon would be a nice touch.) "Rob Bell" style glasses say: "Hey dude! Welcome to our community. The worship band is off the hook this morning!" (I know this to be true because one of my sons has glasses like this, and he's "off the hook", too. He's not a pastor, though.) Your pastor should either shave his head OR go with the rockabilly look. Either one works. A goatee or "soul patch" finishes off the look.

So there you have it. If your church is on the brink of collapse or needs a little shot in the arm, implement some or ALL of the suggestions here---you're sure to pack the house. And someday you'll be able to say: "We're the fastest growing church in [fill in your town or city here]!" Glad I could help.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Jesus Songs

One of the blogs I frequent is a watchdog-watchdog site, i.e. they critique the content of blogs they DON'T like that critique the content of blogs they DO like. It makes for some interesting (and sometimes mind-numbing) dialog. They are particularly fond of words that NO ONE uses in everyday conversation, e.g. missive, missional, emerging/emergent, and abstruse. (I guess I should clarify "no one" as being me and the people with whom I, that sounded really pretty smart, didn't it?!) Anyway, they have a post today that I'm still trying to figure out:

  1. Is it real?
  2. I mean, do they really, REALLY think like this?
Here's part of the post. The writer is talking about a sermon series he is working on for Easter (next year, I guess):

I was toying with the idea of what entrance music would be appropriate for Jesus after the resurrection (or if you want to think of it this way, what could be playing on the soundtrack during/after the resurrection). The idea here is to capture the kind of moment that it is. The song doesn’t have to be completely relevant (as in some of the lyrics may not quite fit), but it should set the proper mood/feeling of the moment. This can be for the resurrection itself, or the appearances Jesus made afterwards. I only have two stipulations:

1. The song needs to be well known enough that people will generally be familiar with it.

2. Provide some explanation.

The writer then went on to make a few suggestions-- one of which REALLY caught my attention. He suggested, and I quote: "Back in Black – AC/DC. Mark Driscoll describes Jesus at the second coming as an ultimate fighter. Totally sweet, and he’s got a tattoo. The b***s to the wall attitude of this song is perfect. It lets everyone know that the man is back in town." (My edit)

You can read the rest of the suggestions and comments here. By the way, I was the only person that suggested hymns such as "He Arose" or "Christ the Lord is Risen Today." I know, I know. Too traditional, and not very easy to dance to.

PGA / Friday Photos

I'm not a golfer, but our company bought tickets to the PGA this week in I went out Monday and took some pictures. I went back Thursday, also. My brother is an avid golfer and fan, so I invited him to the first day of the tournament. We don't get to see each other very often (he lives in another state), so it was really good to spend some time together.

Friday Photos

Tiger - Nice Shot

Tiger Approaching 18th Hole

See the rest of my PGA pics here.

flickr: Friday Photo Group

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

All You Need Is Love

I saw this on a billboard yesterday--advertising for a church in the area. Wonder where they're going with this?

Friday, August 03, 2007

It's Like This

I've been trying to talk with some people¹ about a particular topic, but it seems almost impossible to get a straight answer.

It's like trying to do THIS!

Nailing Jello to the Wall


¹ I don't want to name names...but they belong to a church movement that begins with "e" and ends in "mergent."

Thursday, August 02, 2007

A Busy Week / Friday Photos

A Busy Week
A busy week at work; I installed a major re-write of an application I wrote several years ago that generates our "bill of material/parts" for the shop. So far no major glitches. The database that is generated by the program feeds our purchasing, receiving, and non-destructive testing departments. Not much time to do anything else.

I went to the funeral of a Sunday School member's father Thursday. I didn't know the father, but after the service, I wish I had. He and his wife had been married over 55 years! He finished well. "Well done, good and faithful servant."

Friday Photos

Painted Bricks

I took this picture a couple of weeks ago in downtown Tulsa, near a construction site. It looks like they just got tired of painting the wall and quit.

1 Corinthians 1:21

First Corinthians 1:21. One of my favorite verses. God chose to save people through the preaching of His Word. I don't know why He chose that method over any others; but He did. I don't know "how" He saves; but He does.

flickr: Friday Photo Group