Monday, December 31, 2007

More on Breaking the Missional Code

Values of Leaders and Churches that Break the Code (Chapter 6)
Ed and David list the values that are demonstrated by leaders and churches that are breaking the missional code in their communities. They are identified as:
Spiritual formation; Reaching the unreached; Evangelism; Community; Experience; Service; Culturally relevant expressions of church; Spiritual warfare. I want to highlight the first two values.

Spiritual Formation
Effective leaders model these characteristics within their own spiritual formation:
Calling – these leaders throw themselves at the challenge of creating environments where the gospel can be planted and flourish. Leaders who break the code create opportunities, they either “find a way or make a way” (according to Mike Ditka).
Character – When a leader’s words and actions are aligned.
Competency – these leaders recognize that every context has its own unique challenges.
Comprehension – The most successful church planters make a point of reading everything on the subject – because it is the passion of their life. I would imagine that we could include collegiate missionaries in this equation as well.
Commitment – this requires hard work and requires an incredible amount of commitment.
Courage – high level of courage in regard to making tough decisions.
Discipleship – committed to making and multiplying disciples. Making and multiplying disciples involves three things:
1) Living like Jesus lived – he spent three years modeling the life that he intended
them to live.
2) Loving like Jesus loved
3) Leaving behind what Jesus left behind – he simply left behind people who
lived like him and loved like him.

Reaching the Unchurched/unreached
***Churches that are breaking the code are paying a high price for reaching the unchurched/unreached. They are discovering that churches that focus on reaching the unchurched/unreached often create a degree of discomfort among some churched/reached.***
Four questions –
1. Where are the unchurched/unreached?
2. Who are the unchurched/unreached?
3. Why are they unchurched/unreached? - Four barriers
a. The image barrier – relates to how people view Christianity. If we are going to develop relevant churches, it is important to identify through our research specific barriers and issues that answer this question of “why” a certain people group, population or those within a certain cultural environment as a whole are unchurched.
b. The cultural barrier – When secular people visit a church, it can be a culturally alienating experience. (Thus, what do we do about it when we invite someone into our community?)
c. The gospel barrier – the only legitimate barrier as far as we are concerned. We need to eliminate the other barriers but confront those who are seeking with this barrier.
d. The total commitment barrier – once a person crosses the gospel barrier, there is the call to total commitment.
We should do everything we can to remove all image and cultural barriers.
4. What is God already doing among the unchurched/unreached? – It is arrogant to assume that God is not already at work in most places. Let’s find out where he is working and join him.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Repeat: Thoughts on Joseph

For most young boys, there hero is their father. They look up to him, they think he is the strongest man in the world, the smartest man in the world. Jesus probably grew up with a deep appreciate for his earthly father. Joseph probably taught Jesus his trade (which seemed to be carpentry). Joseph must have been a very special man. God probably had a choice of descendants of David he could have picked, maybe even rich and powerful descendants, men of influence. But he chose Joseph the carpenter to be the one with the responsibility of being the role model of his son. That is why the man Joseph so intrigues me. What must he have been like? Jesus learned the scriptures through Joseph. He learned all kinds of things through Joseph. We are left to speculate on what kind of man Joseph was because Jesus' relationship with his heavenly father was more important.

What can we learn from Joseph? When you are totally committed to serving God, who know what awesome and incredible tasks he might ask you to perform.
Joseph’s task was incredibly difficult. What a great responsibility. Joseph could have been tempted to say, “No way! My first born son (who was very important to Jewish men) won’t even be mine. I am not ready for this." He didn’t." He took Mary in and, even though facing difficult circumstances, including several moves for the safety of his new child, he did just what God told him to do. And, as far as we know, he took his task very seriously.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

To Quickly Change the Subject...

Hey, Merry Christmas to me! I can think of something I can spend any Christmas cash on...How about dry wall repair? Here is a picture taken not too long after I fell through the floor of the attic. Combined with my fall on the ice outside today, I probably won't be able to get out of bed tomorrow. I can't tell if I've regressed to an 8 year old state or if I progressed to an 80 year old state.

On an Personal Note...

Just a quick update on my personal life (or just too much information)...
Finally visited the doctor today to examine what I thought were prostate issues. (You know the commercials that feature guys with the "growing problems")? I had been diagnosed by a general practitioner as having a slightly enlarged prostate. That's not good. I had displayed some of the symptoms for the last 10 years, mostly the frequent urination issues. I was talking to a friend a few months ago and asked him (a former general practitioner himself) and he said it did not sound like BPH (or the enlarged prostate issues). I finally visited a urologist recently and he confirmed that I do not have BPH. In fact, I thought I was going to get out of there without a "field examine." No such luck. But it did confirm to him that my prostate wasn't the issue. So, no avodart or flomax or and roto rootering or any of the other more invasive solutions. But, I still have the frequency issues. Now we have to figure out whether I have a small bladder or if I produce too much urine. What to choose, what to choose...I also received the peace of mind that my hernia (which was repaired in 2005) has not come back. But I still have some discomfort in that area.
So basically I know what's not wrong. Got to keep a "voiding diary" and watch how I work out. I'll keep you posted with probably some more uncomfortable revelations soon.

Back to "Breaking the Missional Code"

Transitions to Missional Ministry (Chapter 5)
What can we learn from The Church of the Apostles in Raleigh, NC in the way they organize their ministry around a number of teams designed to facilitate spiritual growth?
Their ministry teams:
Give members specific ways to serve Christ in their church and in their community;
Provide opportunities for them to grow in Christ by serving;
Allow them to grow in their relationships with each other by being part of a team who are serving together.

We need to decipher the communities in which we live. Like Jesus, we need to be spending time getting to know and evangelize lost people, not just looking for the next anointed style, program or method. We need to be deciphering our community and bringing the unchanging gospel to our community.

Instead of importing style and models, more pastors are genuinely asking the same questions that international missionaries do:
• What style of worship/music will best help this group to worship in spirit and truth?
• What evangelism methods should I use here to reach the most people without compromising the gospel?
• What structure of church (or organization) would best connect with this campus?
• How can this church be God’s missionary to this community?

Randy Frazee at Pantego Bible Church– he led the church to growth, not through the classic big service, but by challenging small groups to become incarnational expressions of Christ in their communities. They continue that by creating small groups geographically and expecting those in certain areas to attend certain small groups…and then for those small groups to transform their communities through presence, service and proclamation. (This is described as transitioning from attractional to incarnational).

In our DNA we need to move our members to go beyond “every member a ministry” to “every member a missionary.” How, also, do we incorporate into our DNA the belief that we will be multiplying our efforts, both individually and group wise?

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Christmas Songs Musings, Part 1

Mommy Kissing Santa Claus

How cruel is this song? Imagine, you are a little kid, believing in Santa Claus. You sneak down the stairs to see if you can get a glimpse of Santa eating the milk and cookies you set out for him. What do you see? Your mom kissing a man besides your father! How scarring would that have been? Would you ever look at your mom the same way again? Would you be tempted to tell your dad? Or would you let it gnaw away at you until you developed an eating disorder or developed some depression issues? That is a cruel song.

BTW, I used to love Christmas music. That is until the advent of 24 hour a day Christmas music stations that start playing in November. I used to love listening to my favorite stations and they would sprinkle in one or two of my favorite Christmas songs. Now it is non stop. And it is about the same five songs rerecorded by so many spares. Songs I hate: Rockin’ around the Christmas Tree; Holly Jolly Christmas; Jingle Bell Rock; Santa Baby (especially the Madonna version); Grown Up Christmas List. I’m sure there are others. Maybe you could help me out and list you least favorite Christmas songs. Look for my favorites coming up soon.

Monday, December 17, 2007

More Breaking the Missional Code

Responding to the Commissions of Jesus (Chapter 3)
Stetzer and Putman discuss missions in a general fashion in this chapter. That state that missions makes this point: it is not about us and our preferences. It is about HIS mission and the fact that he sends us. This is one of the biggest barriers to church growth I found in my limited church staff experience. I found that as a staff, we were often paralyzed from doing what we thought was best for the mission of the church because we were afraid of upsetting the preferences of certain people. In a way, we became people pleasers. That is not a good place to be when trying to be a missional church. We never could get the idea across that it was not about us and what we desired, it was first about pleasing God and then it was about reaching people. We were often not willing to give up our own preference of the packaging of our “gospel expression” in order to break through to reach to our community and find the way they would best respond to the gospel message.
They then provide the basic outline of our call to missions:
We are sent (John 20.19-21) – we are (the church and us as individuals) are God’s missionary to the world. Missions makes this point: it is not about us and our preferences. It is about his mission and the fact that he sends us. We need to get out of the evangelical subculture.
To all kinds of people – (Matt. 28.18-20)
With a message – (Luke 24.46-48)
Empowered by the Spirit (Acts 1.6-8) – whatever it takes we are going to reach this community.

The Missional Church Shift (Chapter 4)
Stetzer and Putman move next to discuss the intersection of Christology, missiology and ecclesiology.
How we do mission flows from our understanding of God’s mission and directs our missiology. How we do church is grounded in Scripture but applied in culture. Thus, we have the intersection of who Jesus is and what has he sent us to do (Christology); the forms and strategies we use to most effectively expand the kingdom where we are sent (missiology); and the expression of a New Testament church that is most appropriate in this context (Ecclesiology).

Rather than providing methods to grow a church, missional thinking helps the church leader to wrestle through who God has called him or her to reach. Missional leaders bring the gospel into a context by asking, “What cultural containers – church, worship style, small group ministry, evangelism methods and approaches, discipleship processes, etc., will be most effective in this context?”

Now, what do they mean by cultural containers? I think they mean by that the forms of preaching and celebration that we express when we come together as the Body of Christ. How do we express gospel truth in our Bible teaching so that our community understands those truths and can apply them to themselves? How do we praise and celebrate our love and adoration for God in a way that our community can embrace and join?

So all need to answer their question in our own communities, that is, “What cultural containers will be most effective in our community?”

Monday, December 10, 2007

Breaking the Missional Code Continued

Breaking the Missional Code (Chapter 2)

In this chapter, Stetzer and Putman give us the basic principles of breaking the missional code in any context. What one should do is learn from this principles and apply them in their context, in their community in a way that the people they wish to reach out to will embrace.

The process (of breaking the missional code):

  1. Calling from God – We need to be called by God to a certain people. The key to breaking the code of a community is to have the heart of the Father for that community. We need to guard against the urgency to press ahead before we have heard from God. So, who has God called us to?
  2. Exegeting the community – the example of Rick Warren, he surveyed his community and found why people in his community did not go to church. Warren developed his strategy from an analysis of the community. Since people had four common complaints, he determined to try to address those concerns in his outreach. We don’t use the same techniques, but learn from Warren how he exegeted his community. What are the questions we need to be asking at MU? As we decipher our community, we may discover similar methods that have been used effective in other like-minded communities.
  3. Examining ways God is working in similar communities – we need to ask what are some “successful” campus ministries at MU. What are some “successful” campus church planting movements at similar campuses?
  4. Finding God’s unique vision for our ministry – not every church (campus ministry) is called to reach the same people, worship using the same music, attract the same people, and appreciate the same values. Churches that break the code seek to communicate the word and connect through worship with local people and culture. This takes place as they enact God’s vision for their local church. In the process, they develop a unique vision for their church that both honors God and connects with their community.
  5. Adjusting that vision as you learn the context

Friday, December 7, 2007

Breaking the Code - Continued

The Emerging Glocal Context (Chapter 1)

The word “glocal” is the combination of the words “global” and “local.” It describes the world we live in. It does not take much to connect our local communities the world at large.

One of the duties of communities seeking to “break the code” is the recognition that there are visible and invisible characteristics within a community that will make its people resistant to or responsive to the church and its gospel message. Our goal is to discover those barriers to the gospel and ask, can we remove those barriers and still remain faithful to the gospel. And also, can we find areas of spiritual awareness in the communities we are seeking to impact and capitalize on those areas.

One of those areas where a team seeking to impact a college campus for the Kingdom of God is social justice and global awareness issues. College students have a strong passion for global concerns, social justice and advocating for the poor. As I walked around Mizzou last week, I saw a table set up trying to recruit students for the “One Campaign”, which seeks involvement to wipe out poverty and AIDS in developing nations. I also saw a student with a “Stand – Against Genocide” t-shirt. So that it is pretty apparent on Mizzou’s campus. How can we convey the message that the gospel speaks to those issues and getting “on mission” with the Church can impact these concerns for good?

I think we can learn from Jaeson Ma. Jaeson is the founder of the campus church network. [Link to Jaeson's website.] His desire was to impact campuses for Jesus. After studying the Chinese model of underground house church, “he realized that a church could be planted on a college campus if a trained missionary could pray and win a student of peace or natural leader for Christ”. (This is one of the major things I am praying for to happen at Mizzou.) The missionary would then teach the student leader to win his network of friends and from that network of friends start a small church.

In order for a community to truly impact the community for Christ, they need to truly love their community. Loving people means understanding and communicating with them. We do this with the goal of removing the cultural barriers that keep people from responding to the gospel yet presenting the gospel in a clear and faithful manner in the language of our target community.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Blogging on "Breaking the Missional Code"

For the next week or so, I am going to be posting some highlights of Breaking the Missional Code by Stetzer and Putman. I will also be providing some reactions to their work. I recommend this book highly for anyone who is seeking to be a missionary agent in their community and has the position to lead his/her church to do the same.


I read this book with a mind that is focused on my job as a regional collegiate ministry coordinator in central Missouri. One of my objectives is to begin a missional community that seeks to impact the University of Missouri for Christ. Our goal is to connect with our community, the University of Missouri and all that that implies. We are seeking to create a biblically faithful and culturally relevant outreach.

The book Breaking the Missional Code attempts to assist the reader in being able to think through your context, apply universal principles in your mission setting, and then identify and apply strategies that will make you more effective in your context.

Breaking the code does not mean just finding the best model for your community. Instead, it means discovering the principles that work in every context, selecting the tools most relevant for your context, and then learning to apply them in a missionally effective manner.

Mark Mittelberg, in his book Building a Courageous Church, states: “we must step back and figure out what our mission field’s cultural landscape looks like.”

Missional thinking forces us to see our geographical context through the lenses of people groups, population segments, and cultural environments.

Monday, December 3, 2007

What Would You Prefer?

I have been thinking of this topic for the last several days, ever since I heard of the murder of Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor. I always start to think of this whenever anyone dies in an untimely manner or by a act of random violence. I begin to wonder, "Did this person ask for this?" Hear me when I say this. I don't know if Sean Taylor was asking for it or not. The police in the situation are saying that this was somewhat random and that Mr. Taylor was not singled out. However, it is well known that Taylor had a checkered past. He had a history of involvement with unsavory characters and a history of trouble with weapons.
Here's where my wondering comes in:
Do I want to think the best of the person and just assume that this was a random act and that Taylor was the victim of some thugs looking to rob a rich man and he was shot because he happened to be home when they broke in? If I think that, then I feel a little vulnerable myself. If that could happen to a totally innocent victim, then who's to say that it couldn't happen to me or my family?
Do I want to believe that this man who has had a history of violence and questionable behavior got mixed up with the wrong people and it finally caught up with him? From all indications, he had recently straightened his life out and was making better choices. But if I find out that he was mixed up with some troublemakers, then that adds a little bit of sense to this tragedy. It is a shame that a young man like that had to die so young and with so much promise, but should it soothe my conscience knowing that for the most part this doesn't normally happen to innocent bystanders.
On the one hand I prefer to think the better of the man but I feel vulnerable to random violence.
On the other hand, a thug got mixed up with the wrong characters and he is not the innocent victim of random thugs.
What do you think?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

N. T. Wright on Evangelism

Here are some thoughts on evangelism from scholar N. T. Wright:

As I’ve said before, God is going to fix the whole world. He’s going to put the whole world to rights. But actually, the advance plan for that is to put human beings to rights in advance. And when that happens, which is what happens through the gospel, it isn’t just, Phew! I’m okay now so I’m going to heaven! It’s I am actually being put right, in order that I can be part of that ongoing purpose.In other words, it’s both conversion and call, which as it was for Paul… converted to see that Jesus is the Messiah, which he’d never dreamt of before, called simultaneously ipso facto to be the apostle to the Gentiles. And in the same way, when the gospel reaches an individual, it is so that they can take part in God’s larger kingdom project.

I once on a train was approached by a Japanese student who saw me reading a book about Jesus. He didn’t know much English. He said, “Can you tell me about Jesus?” I was about to get off the train. I simply told him (he didn’t know the story) that there was this man who was a Jew. He believed that God’s purposes to rescue the whole world were coming to fulfillment. He died to take the weight of evil upon himself. He rose to launch God’s project and to invite the whole world to join in with it and find it for themselves. How long did that take me? 35 seconds? That’s more or less it.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Big Game, but the Biggest Ever?

I just witnessed, arguably the biggest Mizzou game in my lifetime: MU 36 - KU 28. Mizzou wins the Big 12 North division and will play Oklahoma for the outright Big 12 Championship. The games will just keep getting bigger if they win. I have been hearing a lot of talk that this was the biggest game ever in this series. The game of 1960 might have something to say about that. Mizzou came into that game 11-0 with a chance to play for the National Championship (they were rated number 1). They lost to Kansas in the game. Mizzou went on to beat Navy in the Orange Bowl but were not voted number 1 (there was no BCS back then). However, after the game it was found out that Kansas had used an ineligible player and Kansas forfeited the game to Mizzou. Mizzou finished the season 12-0 but were not National Champions because the votes had already been cast. So, next week may just be the biggest in MU history, and if they win, the following game will be the biggest in MU history without a doubt.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

N. T. Wright on the Authority of Scripture

N. T. Wright is one of the leading biblical scholars in the world and has an evangelical leaning to him. Here is an interview with him a man named Trevin Wax (in it's entirety): Wax with NT Wright
I have excerpted a portion on his views on the authority of Scripture. I am a big fan of this man and his writings.

… I’ve been trying to stress that the risen Jesus does not say to the disciples, “All authority on heaven and earth is given to the books you chaps are going to go off and write.” He says, “All authority on heaven and earth is given to Me.” So that if we say that Scripture is authoritative, what we must actually mean is that the authority which is vested in Christ alone is mediated through Scripture.

That’s a more complicated thing than simply having a book on the shelf, full of right answers that you can go and look up. It’s more a way of saying that when we read Scripture and determine to live under it, we are actually saying we want to live under the sovereign lordship of Jesus mediated through this book.

But no, the authority of Jesus Christ is there to transform and heal and save the world, to make the kingdoms of the world become the kingdom of our God and of his Christ. So the question then is, how does the authority of Scripture serve that purpose?. And that’s actually much more interesting than simply using Scripture to settle or raise indeed doctrinal disputes within the church.

Thanks to Jason A for the notice on his blog: Subverting Mediocrity

Monday, November 19, 2007

Chris Berman is ruining sports for me

I want to explain something that Berman says each week that really only Midwestern hockey fans from the 90s can understand. Chris Berman refers to the NFC north as the "Chuck Norris" division. Where does that come from? In the 80s, hockey divisions were not named by their regions but by important figures in the NHL. The division that contained St. Louis, Chicago, Minnesota (North Stars), Toronto and Detroit was called the Norris Division, named after James Norris, the former owner of the Detroit Red Wings and hockey Hall of Famer. It was nicknamed the Chuck Norris division because those teams played a brutally tough style of hockey and they used to beat the snot out of each other each time they played.
With similar teams like Chicago, Minnesota and Detroit in the North Division of the NFL, the comparison was natural to the Norris Division. That explains Berman's reference to anybody born after 1980. But this is why Berman is ruining sports for me. He is given such a prime position at ESPN as a knowledgeable football person. His references are constantly classic rock songs that only baby boomers get. He ruins highlights by making a "whoop!" sound anytime any player makes even the slightest juke or turn or eludes a tackle. His nicknames are getting stupider and stupider. He has also made the Home Run contest at the All Star game unwatchable for baseball fans due to his references to local towns where long home runs are said to be headed.
It is a shame, because at one point, I loved his nicknames and I even thought up a few myself. (Mostly late 80s Cardinals like Tim "I shot the " Sherrill, and Bernard "innocent until proven" Gilkey). But he never updated his shtick and I cringe every time he is on the screen because he has ruined ESPN's coverage of the NFL.
Please, make him go away.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Who gets custody of the church?

Check out this story of a marriage and ministry gone wrong:

MINEOLA, N.Y. (AP) -- The estranged wife of a pastor claims her husband blended his professional and personal finances so thoroughly that his church should be counted as an asset in their divorce.
A judge agreed in a decision published this week to hear arguments on the claim, and he ordered a financial appraisal of the church. Lawyers said it could represent the first time anyone in New York state has tried to treat a religious institution as a marital asset.
The wife argues that her husband of 31 years used his Brooklyn church as a "personal piggy bank," setting his own income, spending the congregation's tithes as he pleased and running a catering business from the building...
The wife said $50,000 of the couple's money went into starting the church, and that the church property is partly hers.
"That church is no different than any other business he might have opened," said the wife's lawyer, Robert Pollack.
The pastor maintains he is simply a church employee, and the institution's funds should not be considered his, according to Diamond's decision.

So, who gets custody of the church?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Dryer or Paper Towel?

You probably didn’t realize that your choice of drying your hands after washing up after going to the bathroom impacted the environment. That is the plea of the automated hand dryers. They claim that they are more sanitary to use and fill less landfill than paper towels. Is that true? Actually, the dryers actually incubate germs due to the warm air and it takes electric power to operate them. Plus, the paper towels provide us with the ability to avoid handling the germy door handles on the way out. Think about that. If you are conscientious and wash your hands with soap after your business and touch the door handle on your way out, you are virtually shaking hands with every dirty human who went out that door that day. [Shudder]

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Erratic Posting

I really haven't felt like blogging lately as you can tell. I will have to get back to regular posting so that people will actually check up from time to time. Here are some quick hit thoughts:

I am hesitantly buying into the Mizzou Tigers this year. The A&M game was the hurdle for me. If they get beat by Kansas, then Kansas is just better (although it hurts to say that). Now if they can just get by K-State, which is no easy task if you have been following Mizzou's recent history.

I am reading a great new book: Breaking the Missional Code by Ed Stetzer. I am going to be blogging about it soon. I think it should be required reading for every church leader.

I am addicted to Facebook trivia. I answered all of the Seinfeld questions (I believe I scored in the top 100). My new addiction is St. Louis Cardinal trivia. My goal is the top ten by the end of the week (Jon Nelson needs to get there too).

I moved my weights into my garage as well as my treadmill. I have been back on the weight bench and have had two sessions on the treadmill. Goal is to lose ten pounds by Thanksgiving (realistically I should lose five).

I disappointed that the Cold War Kids canceled their show in Columbia. Not going to see Cowboy Junkies (saw them in 1990 at WestPort Playhouse in STL).

I am working through an old elementary Greek textbook. Man, I need a refresher course.

Look for some thoughts on Ed Stetzer's book in the next couple of days.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Conversion Experience?

There is a B-Side song on one of Wilco's singles from their latest CD. It could be perceived as having Christian imagery. Read some of these lyrics and tell me what you think:

I was dead at first/I had done my worst/When you came to me
Life had ceased/ I was lost and tired/
You set me free from this mighty fire

Now I will admit there are other lyrics that could be perceived as a love song:

I trust in you/I hope that one day you will trust me too
I wanna be what you are to me

So this song could actually be a love song that I am reading too much into, correct? But if you scour other Wilco (and Uncle Tupelo) lyrics, you find religious, even biblical imagery, like the song "Theologians": No one is ever gonna take my life from me/I lay it down (among other lyrics.) Why do I find Christian imagery behind the song? How about the title?

One True Vine

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Happy Halloween!

Creative Pumpkin carving again. Take a look. (Photos not that great, but the pumpkins turned out pretty good).

Thursday, October 25, 2007

No Longer Just Hip...

I used to look down on mac users. I thought that they were just trying to be different, iconoclastic, stubborn. I never considered using a mac because all of the software that I was using was PC based. I began to observe some mac users in action, saw their computers, bought an ipod and I was slowly converted. I bought a macbook pro last year and I love it. I just read this quote on line:
Shares of Apple rose almost 7 percent in after-hours trading after the company reported fiscal fourth-quarter profits that jumped 67 percent to cap a year of unprecedented momentum in the company's Macintosh computer business, as well as continued demand for iPods and the successful launch of the iPhone
I looked around at the coffee shop I was studying in today and of the 12 laptop users, 8 were using macs. Mac is really gaining right now. (Reality check, mac's only account for about 8 percent of the computer market. It’s funny, after I read how mac is gaining ground and becoming the popular choice right now, I wonder how long it will take Microsoft to become the underdog that mac was and people will convert to PC to be different. Or, will another movement come along to challenge the big two? My bet is on the second option. So, keep your eye out for it and then buy its second or third generation products as they become cool. By then, the pioneers will have moved on to another product to champion as the new underdog.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

A Pastor's Dilemma?

What role should a pastor play in politics? For about 25 years conservative evangelicals have been linked with Republicans, even to the extent that it is assumed that we all vote the same and agree on the same issues.

I ask because I saw a local pastor here walking in the Mizzou homecoming parade with a partisan candidate for office. The dilemma here is: should a pastor endorse a candidate on his own time? Is there the potential for parishioners who vote for the other party to get bent out of shape at his active partisan campaigning?

Now, I do not think that any pastor should endorse a politician or party from the pulpit. I encountered a situation in my former church. There was a certain Adult Bible Study class with a member who would openly campaign for the party he used to support. It was a little too early in my tenure to do anything about it, but I would have had them hush things if it would have continued. We even had an involved family leave our church because they were tired of the bias toward one party and antagonism toward the party they were members of.

I guess a pastor could do whatever he wants on his free time, but should he be concerned about parishioners who may disagree or be on the other side of the aisle, so to speak?

You tell me. As for me, I would probably choose to keep my political leanings to myself.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Stranger than Fiction

I saw a film today that just blew me away. (Actually I only saw the last two thirds, but I knew enough of the story to get up to speed on what was happening).
Will Farrell plays an IRS agent who is extremely uninteresting and boring. One day, he hears a voice narrating the story of his life. Upon consulting a professor of literature, he realizes that this particular author kills off all of her leading characters.
Farrell's character goes to the author and bargains with her to spare his life and not kill him off. He is allow to read the ending of the novel to see how he dies, he couldn't finish it so he asked his English prof to read it for him. The English prof has read it, claims that Harold (Farrell's character) has to die. This novel is the author's greatest work (of an already acclaimed career). There's no way out, but the ending is beautiful. Harold reads the story, and comes to grips with the ending, encourages the author to finish it and is resigned to his "fate."
Harold goes forward, knowing that he is going to die, but he knows that his death ultimately plays a great role in something wonderful.
Even as the author writes the ending, she cries out in anger, as if to say, "Why do I have to kill my creation off like this?"
I won't totally spoil the ending, but I went to to see if anyone else saw any of the Christian overtones. One forum poster laid out the theology of the movie. There was some disagreement. I don't see how. That film had so many Christian overtones. Ignoring some of the morality of the lead characters (don't necessarily lead what we would call "Christian" lifestyles) look at some of the scenes.
The lead character realizes his fate and asks for a different ending.
When assured that the ending must happen this way for something beautiful and meaningful to happen, the lead character is resigned to the ending, knowing it will cost him his life.
The omniscient, all powerful author is extremely distraught at what happens to the character.
Yet, because of the obedience of the lead character, there is a salvation (so to speak).
Any opinions on Stranger than Fiction? I thought it was extremely powerful. One of the best films I've seen in a few years.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Best of Both Worlds

Last Saturday at about 10am, I sat at my desk with two computers at the Ticketmaster website and my cell phone in my hand. My wife had her sister and her friend in KC manning their phones. My wife had her phone working and her mother's phone working. For what? To purchase a limited amount of Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus tickets in STL. They released 1000 tickets to the sold out show. I got through and got my wife and daughter two tickets to see this show with the Jonas Brothers as the opening act.
The show, Hannah Montana, is horrible but I will have to admit that she has a good voice. She really can sing. (But the music is awful, but she's not performing for me, but for 10 year old little girls).
The children have such a powerful demographic. If you don't believe me, look at the scalper prices for this concert ($1000!). The sad thing for me? In the past year, I have seen three critically acclaimed bands (one of those bands twice [Wilco], plus Spoon and Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin) and if you add all of the attendees to those concerts, they would not equal how many people are going to be at Hannah Montana concert in STL tomorrow night.
BTW, The Cold War Kids are coming to town in a few months. I am digging Columbia right now. Cowboy Junkies are coming (I saw them in 1991). Not going. Sold out in Columbia? Modest Mouse and Alice in Chains.
I will have to let my daughter write a review of Hannah Montana. I am glad I don't have to go but I would have for my daughter. At least she is scandal free and seems like she has a great support system with Achy Breaky Heart singer Billy Ray Cyrus as her father.

Friday, October 12, 2007

My Policy on Returning Calls

Have you ever dialed the wrong number, realized it mid-call and then hung up without leaving a message on voice mail? And then, about 4 hours later, you get a phone call from a complete stranger asking if someone from this number called them? First you wrack your brain to find out who this person is, ask yourself if you called them and then remember and have to explain to the person that, yes, I called, but I dialed the wrong number. That drives me crazy. So I have a policy. If you call me and do not leave a message, I will not call you back. I figure that it may not be important or that you dialed me by mistake and you did not NEED to talk to me so I won't call you back. Is that reasonable? Do you expect someone you call without leaving a message to call back? Are you nutty enough to call a completely unknown number on your list just to see who called? Why? To me, if I let it go, it's just one less thing I have to do or worry about.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Initial Reaction - In Rainbows

I just downloaded the new Radiohead release “in Rainbows”. You can’t call it a cd yet because they are not releasing it in stores or on itunes. You have to go to their website, decide how much you want to pay for it and then download it. That’s right, if you want to pay zip for it (Hunter), you can. If you want a hard copy, you have to wait until it hits stores in December. There is also a boxed set with artwork and several discs that are going to be available then. (I paid 4.5 pounds or about 9 bucks, or about what it would cost on itunes).

My initial reaction is very positive. I like three of the first four songs (“Nude” will probably have to grow on me). They continue to display why they sound nothing like anyone else. Ethereal lyrics, lilting vocals from Thom Yorke, but they still can rock out like anyone. Very versatile musicians who can play the gamut of musical styles from jazz to electronica.
Highlights for me on just a first listen: 15 Step, Bodysnatcher, Weird Fishes/Arpeggi; Reckoner; House of Cards.

Monday, October 8, 2007

A New Bike

I did something today that I haven't done since maybe I was ten. I bought a brand new bike. The last new bike I bought got stolen out of my back yard. I have had a few bikes over the years but they were always hand me downs (even as an adult). Columbia has bike trails all over and we are very close to the Katy Trail so I have wanted a bike.
I bought a mountain bike, but not a real high tier one. I want one that I can ride in the neighborhood but also take on a few moderate trails. Got a Gary Fisher "Mako." Don't know what that means but the bike fit my budget and does what I want it to do.
I rode it tonight and discovered just how out of shape I have become. I have probably gained 10 pounds since last May. I rode the bike for about two miles (with one pretty decent hill) and I was gassed. Got to go everyday now.
Now, I've got to make room for my weights in the garage and I will be set.
Where's MT and Jonny Rocket when I need them?

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Concert Review: Spoon at the Blue Note in Columbia, MO

Dragged my wife to see another band. This time it was Spoon at the Blue Note in Columbia, MO. I have been a fan of Spoon for the span of their last two cds “Gimme Fiction” and their latest “Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga” (I know, stupid name for a cd). These two cds are jammed packed with tight pop/rock tunes.
They opened the concert tonight with five straight songs off their new cd with highlights being “Don’t You Evah” and the very Motown influenced “You’ve Got Yr Cherry Bomb”. Once again, I heard a song live and it changed my perspective of a song (I did not care for the song, “The Ghost of You Lingers.” Highlights from the second cd were “My Mathematical Mind” and “Beast and Dragon Adored.” They played several songs off of some of their older releases, songs that I was not too familiar with. In fact, I had been checking some of their recent setlists and I saw several songs not played in recent concerts. The crowd enjoyed some of their older songs. The biggest reactions were for “I Turn My Camera On” and “That’s the Way We Get By” (which was featured on the Fox teen drama, “The OC.”)
They sounded pretty good, although it seemed like there was some unnecessary echo in places. Britt Daniel, the lead singer and lead guitarist, was also a little adventuresome on guitar breaks, which were a little too noisy for me.
We were probably a little too close to the amps for us, so you know what they say when you think it’s too loud…
Good atmosphere, the band really didn’t engage the crowd until toward the end of the show (which never bothers me too much). We were lucky because they are canceling the rest of their shows this week in order to prepare for Saturday Night Live where they are the musical guests this week.
This is a great band that has been overlooked by far too many.
My recommendation for download: The Way We Get By, Don’t You Evah, They Never Got You (probably my favorite song of theirs).

Monday, October 1, 2007

My Feeble Answer to the Question

In the beginning, when God created the universe, he looked at all he created each day and declared that it was good. When he created man and woman, he declared that it was very good. But things didn’t stay that way. The man and woman disobeyed the only rule God told them to follow, don’t eat from one certain tree. Of course they did not keep that rule, and everything changed. The Apostle Paul noted that when Adam sinned, it affected us all. Death entered into the human condition (see Romans 5). We get sick, not because God decrees it, but because humanity is flawed and infected by sin. And not only that, but if you look at Genesis 3 closely, it says “Cursed is the ground because of you…” The earth is under a curse because of sin. Paul tells us in Romans 8 that creation itself is longing for redemption from the bondage of sin. That, to me explains natural disasters. Something is wrong with our earth.

Now, why does God allow some of these things to happen to some people and not to others, I do not know, but I do not believe that God decrees that we get sick or for tornadoes or floods to strike us. I do believe that God can shine through our calamity for his glory and for our obedience. John 9 shows Jesus confronted by a blind man. His disciples want to know, "Whose fault is this?" It has to be someone's fault. He must have done something. Jesus replies that it wasn't his sin that caused his blindness, but his blindness was an opportunity for God to be glorified. In this case, God was glorified through the display of his healing power through Jesus. But, is it possible for people to glorify God without healing? I believe so. We see people like Joni Earickson Tada serving God in mighty ways in spite of an accident that left her a quadriplegic. I have talked to familied who have been blessed by having a sibling with Down's Syndrome. These are just a few examples of how God can be glorified through calamity or disability. Anyway, that is my reaction. I am sure if I was diagnosed with cancer tomorrow, I might have a different answer, but for now...

I am curious for any of your reactions.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Who's to blame?

I am curious. When bad things happen - death of a loved one, especially a young person; natural disaster; someone gets a terminal disease - who is to blame? Do you believe that God causes those things to happen? Did God instigate the tsunami in Southeast Asia 3 years ago? Was it God who gave the loved one cancer? Does God take people when it is their time?
I am curious what you think. Is there anybody out there who is mad because of their perception of God's injustice by letting a bad thing happen to a good person?
Tell me what you think and I will give my opinion over the weekend.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Thoughts on College Ministry

Hey everybody, I am wondering how many of you were involved in some kind of campus ministry when you were in college? Or if you are still in college, how many are involved in any kind of ministry on campus? What kind of ministry were you involved in?
If you weren't involved in college ministry, why not? Was is because of your spiritual condition? Were you interested in college ministry but there were no real opportunities?

I am curious because that is my job, overseeing college ministry in central Missouri. When I think back to my college days, I cannot recall any kind of serious evangelical presence on my campus. Would it have made a difference? Commuter schools are different. Can effective campus ministry be done on a commuter campus?

Help me, people.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Back on the Blog Horse: Review of Wilco Concert

Time to start blogging again. What do I start with, music of course!

Saw Wilco last week. They were playing in Columbia. I had almost bought the tickets weeks earlier. 25 bucks a piece, plus babysitter, probably over 70 bucks on the whole. I found out that they were playing outside. I wasn’t sure how good that would sound and I also asked myself, “Do I want to pay for a concert that I could hear for free?” Is it cheap of me? Sure. But I also want to see Spoon in a couple of weeks, so I decided to spend my money wisely. Plus, I saw Wilco in Springfield less than a year ago. We decided, however, to grab Maggie and go downtown and listen to a few songs. We missed the first song, from the new cd, “You Are My Face.” We came out of a neat coffee house and they were just starting “I Am Trying To Break Your Heart.” I was ready to stay for the evening. They proceeded to play songs from Yankee Hotel Foxtrot with one from A Ghost is Born thrown in (Handshake Drugs, my favorite from that cd).

On the whole, they played 6 songs from the new cd (they also played Side with the Seeds, Impossible Germany, Sky Blue Sky, Hate It Here, Walken). They played about that many from what many think is their best release Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (they also played I’m the Man Who Loves You, Pot Kettle Black, War on War, Jesus, etc., Heavy Metal Drummer).

We stayed almost to the end. I knew we had to get Maggie home, but to be honest, I thought we were leaving during the last song anyway. The next day I found out through a Wilco message board that they played three songs after we left. I couldn’t leave and I bribed Maggie, if she behaved, she could pick where we ate out that week. She did good. Probably didn’t really enjoy it. And if she did, she wouldn’t admit it.

The thing that made me sad was that these guys are musicians and songwriters at the top of their craft. Yet they were playing to a crowd of probably less than 2000. My daughter wants to go see Hannah Montana. She has sold out the Scotttrade Center (seating 20,000). They are scalping tickets at $200. There is no justice in the world. You can thank Adam for introducing sin into the world and hence, injustice.

The show was over 2 hours and they played 25 songs, true greatness.