Wednesday, November 29, 2006

We're Toast

I saw this and thought it was so cool! The rolling toaster.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

There is a feud afoot

Ok, I think I am mixing metaphors (Hatfields & McCoys with Sherlock Holmes) but I suspect you get the drift.

For the last 2 or 3 years, I moved from Internet Explorer to Firefox, at least for home use. One of the big reasons is the tabbed browsing, a feature I use extensively. Now Internet Explorer has released a new version (7.0) with tabbed browsing.

At about the same time, Firefox has released their latest and greatest 2.0.

As with any new code, there are bugs, incompatibilities and, at least with browsers, security holes. As a result, you may want to wait awhile before upgrading...

In spite of that, I have moved to the latest of both.

During that move with Firefox, I realized one of my favorite features is the "add-ons" which are typically user written. One of my favorites was a "link visitor" which allowed you to mark all links on the page read or unread. This makes looking for new content quite a bit easier. It wasn't compatible (at least I thought). I found that the Link Visitor website had a work around so I now have my favorite plug in back.

High (Church) Tech

One of my favorite "geek" things to do is to listen to the "Creative Synergy Podcast". The guys who do the podcast know what they are talking about.

This month, they have an interview with the operators of the "Church Marketing Sucks" website. One of the take aways from that interview is that you are always marketing, whether it is your beliefs, your church or your business.

Another thing we tend to think is that our competition is the "other churches in the area". The reality is, your competition is the movie theaters, the football game, anything that may come up to distract someone from God. Just think, the coffeehouse down the street out markets many churches.

One of the distinctions that they draw in the interview is the difference between branding and marketing and the synergy between them.

It's a great interview.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Winter Wonder Slam

Tonight I took Kyle to the Toby Mac Winter Wonder Slam.

I didn't know what to think prior to getting there. Wow, what a show. He brought in his favorite acts. Some crazy some great but quite diverse.

His show? Kyle loved it, I was impressed!

One year...

Tomorrow (Nov 27) is my first year anniversary of blogging. During that time my friends and family have tolerated my joy, frustration, amazement and just babbling.

A quick note, if you do a quick calculation, I have posted an average of once every 2 1/4 days this year.

I'm back...

In August, Marj made it clear that she didn't like something... my attitude.

The reason was that this summer flew by because I made myself too busy. Along with bass duties at church, I was also running sound and playing at another church.

Her answer (correct as it turned out) was to take a couple of months off. Although I fought it, almost immediately after making that decision known, my attitude got better, even making my final month of service tolerable.

I wasn't supposed to play again until December but the bass player that was scheduled to play was out of town. Since he had picked up a week for me, I volunteered to be the "ace in the pocket" so he was free to go. Nobody else offered so there I was.

What is it like to be back? My fingers got sore faster, my hand tired and I didn't know the music (we played only one familiar song -- things change fast). It was great!

What did I learn? It is well explained in this (.mp3) sermon from this church titled "The temptation of practical goodness". The short answer is, however, being busy doesn't mean a whole lot to God if you are not doing what you are supposed to be doing with your time.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

You gotta watch what you're doing

You gotta watch what you're doing, didn't you know
You gotta watch where you're going, didn't you know
-- (chorus) Watch What You're Doing, Larry Norman
This doesn't really fit into the context of the song above but as I was thinking about the following, the chorus kept coming into my head.

I started this blog because I had thoughts running through my head and needed a way to get it out onto a media that I could see it, organize it and, even be criticized (constructively I hope) on it.

Throughout this year, I have started re-examining many things about my beliefs. No, not about my chosen beliefs about Christ but more about my beliefs within that context.

To explain a little, let's dial the way-back machine to where and how I grew up. I grew up in Iowa in a small town. The challenge for those in that small town, especially in that time, there were not a large choice in churches. My parents were members of the non-denominational church.

If you remember, I mentioned here that I related to a culture where the realization of God's grace happened a generation ago and I had been taught the taboos of the Christian faith which, both protected me but also would serve to guide me to that grace also.

The problem with this is that the taboos don't necessarily line up with what the Bible says. What does that do to the faith of those around you that you have spiritual input with.

Here is an example. At the time I was growing up, dancing was frowned upon in the church, in fact, it was considered taboo.

Then, when reading the Bible, you read 2 Samuel 6:17-23, the story about David dancing before the Ark of God (in his underwear no less). Now as a kid, you have several possible responses to that:
  1. I am going to ignore this because the adults (or those around longer if you are an adult) know best. An approach I would call the turtle approach to life. Where this approach fails is that when you are approached by someone who has "better" guidelines, you follow them without looking at Scripture.
  2. I am going to ignore both those around me and God because obviously they are "full of it". An approach that best fits with the rabbit view, running away from anything that may be a challenge.
  3. I am going to figure out what Scripture says about this and ignore unscriptural taboos. This is the hardest stance to take because ultimately, it means standing alone until the next person like you comes along. You get judged (and possibly rejected) by both sides above. This is the approach I have chosen to take many times, especially lately.
Now, how does that relate to my life? My son goes to Cornerstone Christian Academy. It is quite a good school both academically and spiritually. They, like most institutions, have rules for various reason.

Like most compliant kids, Kyle takes many of the rules at face value. I see this as a danger and ask him to question everything. The High School principle, on the other hand, teaches a class that encourages the kids to do exactly that!

I really appreciate advice given by one of my college Teachers Assistants. "Be skeptical about everything, cynical about nothing."

Sunday, November 12, 2006

The Sunday Service

Today's church service was a unique blessing.

Dave and the worship band lead off with "You are Good" and "Your Grace is Enough". Scott introduced our other worship leader Dan who gave the message on being alone and God never leaving you. His take-aways:
  1. Listen to the Holy Spirit
  2. Pray continually
  3. Read the Bible
You can listen on line at in a few days.

In the twighlight zone?

Yesterday evening, listening to the local radio stations was like being in the Twilight Zone.

While on a trip to the local Radio Shack, I tuned into one of the local Christian radio stations. On the show was a woman host who, from what little I heard, made Rush look liberal. From what I heard, America should be doing more against Iraq and Al Queda. The rant I heard was for a simpler term "Spouting Hate". I then turned the radio off to talk to Marj.

A few miles down the road, I flipped on one of the local AM talk radio stations, one that is usually pretty conservative but is not particularly religious in nature. The host there is talking about an Elton John statement suggesting that we ban religion banned. The news stated:
Elton John has declared that organised religion should be banned, as it turns some people into "hateful lemmings".
The host on this station was telling how Christians are told to love and how his church (I don't know which one) does that. This is a host who, from his language and demeanor on the air does not strike me as a particularly "Christian" individual.

I was struck by the irony. The station who is the "outreach" to the unchurched is spouting hate against it's enemys. The station that has no commitment to any "Christian" values is sending out a more "Christian" message.

"Here's another old saying that deserves a second look: 'Eye for eye, tooth for tooth.' Is that going to get us anywhere? Here's what I propose: 'Don't hit back at all.' If someone strikes you, stand there and take it. If someone drags you into court and sues for the shirt off your back, giftwrap your best coat and make a present of it. And if someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously.

-- Matt 5:39 (The Message)

My beloved friends, let us continue to love each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God. The person who refuses to love doesn't know the first thing about God, because God is love—so you can't know him if you don't love.

-- I John 4:7-8 (The Message)

"Hope is like a lighthouse keeper's beam.
Hope - the master cobbler of our dreams.
For Hope believes in desert streams.
The mightiest of stars,
the microcosm in a jar -
vast or small they all revolve on Hope."

-- "Hope" - Klaatu

Years ago in college, I bought an album (yes, vinyl) from a band I had never heard about but had this wonderful album cover, Klaatu. The band had a sound that was similar to The Beatles but the lyrics were "Sci-fi rock".

I think often about the word "hope" as I go through my day and the quote above has stuck with me for many years as somewhat profound. I have many hopes and dreams. Where does that fit into my life? I Cor 13:13 says:
But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Sickness and health

I was reminded of that phrase because we had friends stay at our house this week for a couple of nights.

Claes and Diane, friends from our college years, called a couple of weeks ago and said they were going to be in Denver then up to Estes Park to do some work with the Weekend To Remember. They were wondering if we could get together sometime when they were in town. We were able to put them up for two nights before they headed up hill.

The problem we had was that first Kyle and then Marj came down sick so I don't think they felt that they were much fun to be with. So far, however, I haven't caught it.

It was wonderful being able to catch up with them!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Thanks Brian

Thanks to Brian Bailey at "The Blogging Church", I have one more thing to point you at today.

Read the Ed Young article he points us to in Relevant Magazine.

The quote that blew me away?
Have you ever wondered where that phrase, "a fall from grace," comes from? Galatians 5:4, "You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace" (NKJV).

How telling that we use that particular terminology to describe an incident (usually of the high-profile variety) of moral failure. By doing so, we tip our theological hand. While we talk a lot about God's inexhaustible grace and unconditional love, when it comes right down to it, we still believe that grace is exhaustible. We know that we owe our salvation to Christ's grace-giving work on the cross. But it doesn't take long before we trade in that boundless grace for the boundaries of the law.
Sorry about the 2 link jump but I really wanted to let the original author have his credit.

I am sad about the election

No, not necessarily the results but the money spent.

We had 2 big ballot initiatives, one an amendment to define marriage between a man and a woman, the other a referendum to allow "civil unions" between same sex couples.

I don't want to debate the merits of either. I do want to comment on this.

I heard that one organization who supported the marriage amendment and opposed the civil union law spent$1,000,000 in advertising. That is a 1 with six zeros behind it.

Let me put that in a little different perspective.

The average wage in Colorado is $43,000. That is enough to pay 23 of the the average wage earners here.

You could generously feed 5000 families for one week with that same money.

If given to World Vision, you could feed over 2000 children for one year.

This makes me quite sad.

It's all over but the crying...

The election polls have closed and our election officials have been counting the votes.

The best part? I don't have to watch any more advertisements slamming the opponents.

I'd scream but you wouldn't hear.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

More thoughts on Pastor Ted

As I mentioned below, we have been having a media storm here in Colorado due to the elections (I am glad this is the end) and the actions around the pastor in Colorado Springs.

Since the weekend, he resigned from the church he lead and is undergoing personal counseling.

My observation? In spite of the fact he was a very public figure, way to many people are talking that are involved. People involved in the pastoral staff were talking in ways I would say was inappropriate when the story of Ted stepping down from NAE. I heard interviews with those involved in the overseeing process who told much more than was made public. The latest are interviews with those who are monitoring his recovery.

I don't know the terms of his recovery program so it could be legitimate but this bothers me.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

A King and a Kingdom

I was listening this evening and heard this chorus. I felt it applied to this election

my first allegiance is not to a flag, a country, or a man
my first allegiance is not to democracy or blood
it's to a king & a kingdom

From Derek Webb's Mockingbird album.

Freeing the mind?

Thursday and Friday of this week were spent working from home. It is quite nice that Qwest allows this.

On the other hand, one of the bad things about my job is the amount of time I spend on the phone in meetings.

Something happened yesterday that was quite interesting. I was on a call and one of the people sharing his desktop so that all could see was using an application called FreeMind. FreeMind is a "mind- mapping" tool.

According to the Wikipedia mind- mapping link:
Mind maps (or similar concepts) have been used for centuries, for learning, brainstorming, memory, visual thinking, and problem solving by educators, engineers, psychologists and people in general. Some of the earliest examples of mind maps were developed by Porphyry of Tyros, a noted thinker of the 3rd century as he graphically visualised the concept categories of Aristotle. Ramon Llull also used these structures of the mind map form.
FreeMind is a Java application which allows you do do basic mapping. I thought I would try it out next week... maybe my mind will be freed.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Political Dramas

Over the last two days, I have seen a spark of accusation turn into a firestorm of news as we watch a larger than life pastor here in Colorado be vilified.

I have watched as political critics such as willzhead and Jim Wallis have said very little, an act consistent with what I have seen from them before. I have also watched as the traditional "religious right" have offered compassionate pleas for prayer. I now have friends that have offered their thoughts here and here.

I agree with the requests asking for prayer for the pastor and his family. These are my thoughts...

Many times, I am not content to sit back and watch. One of the characteristics of my personality is being somewhat analytical. This came out as I was thinking about the situation. What can we learn from what is occurring?
  • None of us are immune from sin. We often times hide it, sugar coat it, build a facade around it but it is still there. We need to remember that outside of God's grace, we are all the same. Inside God's grace we can be clean.
  • While I agree we need to pray for the people who attend church. I don't know that we should ask, however, that their pain, grief and other emotions are made easier. Scott Hamilton spoke at chapel at Kyle's school last week. The topic was struggling (or wrestling) with God. His point (second hand here) was that in the ancient Jewish culture, struggling against God was a badge of honor. Here in this country, we look at struggling with God as a bad thing. I hope that his church do struggle against God to understand why this is happening and through this, see God face to face.
  • It shows us that we should never put my spiritual leaders up on a throne as they are as prone to sin as we are.
  • It shows us that the politics of this world do not matter nearly as much as the politics of the Kingdom of God.
I am very impressed with the actions of the leadership church involved. Way too many churches would have "run the pastor out of town".

Just in time...

I voted (early) yesterday... And just in time too!

It seems the 11th hour efforts to discredit the issues and/or candidates are in full force! If there is any question that politics are not what God would have us concentrate on, these last few hours of this election may serve to convince us otherwise.

The things that hit me on this years elections were:
  • I used the new Diebold electronic voting machines. There is quite a lot of talk swirling around the internet about vulnerabilities since it is software based. On the other hand, at least the models my county uses have a paper trail that prints out prior to your vote officially being cast.
  • Kyle was off school yesterday so I was able to take him along to watch Dad do his civic duty. I remember doing something like this with my parents many years ago with the mechanical voting machines.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Whatever happened?

I recently heard that in the 1950's "futurists" were predicting that technology would give us a 3 day work week....

I have heard that the head of IBM in the 1940's stated that there would never need to be more than 5 computers in the world...

Your digital watch has more computer power than the computer power that put man on the moon in 1969....

The computer you are reading this on is likely to have more processing power than the computer used for the computer animation in the movie "Tron"...

The first computer I purchased in the 1980's cost me about $2000. The computer I would love to have would cost me about $2000...

Seems like the more things change, the more they stay the same.