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Monday, July 31, 2006

Weather Hazards for Watertown, NY

Like most everyone else in the US we're having some heat issues here in the north country. The next 2 days are going to be serious. I just got a phone call from our church's automated phone system with a recorded message that the church will be open tomorrow with the a/c on for anyone who needs to escape the heat. If you need to escape the heat, head to the Church of the Nazarene on Thompson Blvd.

Churches Seeking Staff - Evangelical Covenant Church

39 Senior/Solo/Lead pastor openings in the Covenant Church outside of Canada or Alaska. 52 staff positions available. What's the deal with North Miami, FL? Been open for a long time. Someone must be called to Miami. How could you not be called to Miami? Even if the church rots at least it rots in Miami. That's gotta count for something.

ChurchReport.com:Top 50 Most Influential Churches

Is your church on the list of the top 50 most influential churches in the US? Mine isn't. Nonetheless, God shows up every Sunday in my church and I don't think it's hurting His reputation any.

I've attended 2 of the top 50 in my life. Visiting in CA one spring for the church planter's assessment we visited #20 Bayside. For our entire first year of seminary we attended #1 Willowcreek and loved it. I admit it. I'm a huge Willowcreek apologist and have absolutely no tolerance for people who rip Willow or other mega churches.

Two Covenant Churches Among Top 20 in U.S. - Evangelical Covenant Church

Great things are happening in the Covenant Church and these are just 2 great examples. Thanks be to God.

"CHICAGO, IL (July 31) - Two Evangelical Covenant Church congregations are among the 20 most influential in the United States, according to a poll conducted by The Church Report magazine.

Life Covenant Church in Edmond, Oklahoma, was ranked number seven, and Bayside Covenant Church of Granite Bay, California, was listed as number 20. The magazine conducts an annual listing of the top 50 churches. It mailed surveys to 2,000 pastors in April and May and announced the results earlier this month.

Both congregations are multi-site churches with congregations in different cities. Life has campuses in Oklahoma, Texas, Arizona, and Tennessee, as well as an Internet campus with live Internet broadcasts of its worship services. The church has a combined membership of more than 14,000 people.

Bayside has six campuses with another scheduled to begin services soon. Bayside churches have a combined attendance of more than 9,000 individuals."

VirtueOnline - Obituary: Leon Morris

The following excerpt is from David Virtue regarding the passing of Biblical Scholar Leon Morris. I find it incredible that as brilliant a scholar as Dr. Morris was, he was "self taught". The Holy Spirit doesn't need seminary to train His ministers and kingdom workers.

From Virtueonline.org:
"OBITUARY. Sadly we announce the passing this week of Dr. Leon Morris, Australia's most prolific biblical and theological author. He wrote over fifty books of theology and biblical commentary which have sold nearly two million copies worldwide and been translated into many languages. He was well-known throughout the Christian world as a careful, conservative biblical scholar. Extraordinarily, Morris received no formal theological education, apart from two years of supervision for his doctorate in Cambridge. He was a self-taught theologian who brought his rigorous and disciplined training in scientific enquiry to his study of the Bible and theology. He was 93.

His book, The Apostolic Preaching of the Cross, became seminal for modern evangelical theology of the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ. He was encouraged in his study by Professor, later Archbishop, Michael Ramsay. In 1961, Morris accepted the position of Warden at Tyndale House in Cambridge, a significant evangelical biblical research centre. In 1964, he courageously left this ideal academic post and returned to Ridley College as Principal when the college was in severe difficulty, convinced this was God's call. During his fifteen years as Principal, he strengthened the college, gave it a worldwide reputation, built a new chapel and established Ridley College as an official residential college of Melbourne University, the first college to take both men and women. In 1966 he was runner-up in the election of the Archbishop of Sydney.

He and Mildred were loyal members of Holy Trinity Doncaster near Melbourne, where he preached his final sermon, on the opening verses of John's gospel late in 1997. Morris was well known for his humble manner and gracious Christian character. He leaves a vast legacy of theologically equipped ministers throughout the world upholding biblical Christian faith centered on the atoning death of Jesus Christ. He is survived by his brother, Max. His wife Mildred predeceased him in April 2003. They had no children. The Leon and Mildred Morris Foundation continues their generosity to many good causes. SOURCE. The Rev'd Canon Dr Peter Adam, Principal, Ridley College, Melbourne."

Friday, July 28, 2006

Mainline denominations losing impact on nation

Do there really need to be any more articles written about mainline denominations and their decline? Seriously. Is it news any longer? Might the very fact that the articles suggest that the culture has lost interest in mainline ideology also suggest that its no longer news we care to read about?

They're dying. It's now old news. No one cares. Good bye mainline denominations. Buh-bye. Perhaps the journalists could just inform us again when it's over.

One humorous and sad article I saw recently mentioned that one denomination has set a goal of stemming the tide of their loss to something like only 5% rather than the typical 10-15% loss they normally experience. Their goal was merely to slow their decline.

Don't be deceived into thinking this is about worship styles. This is not about churches using some old worn out liturgy and music that young people just don't connect to. This is about theology. Their are plenty of churches using old prayer book liturgy and growing like crazy because they are preaching the Biblical message of hope and salvation through Jesus Christ, and that our lives need to be oriented around His truth as revealed in the Scriptures.. There are very few churches that grow whilst preaching something else.

The Clash of Worldviews - Prison Fellowship

This article by Chuck Colson is a lesson in theology, history, politics and culture. You may not be deeply interested in any of those topics but I implore you to read it. Colson attempts to give a history of the current West vs. Islam culture clash and reminds us that this isn't going away any time soon.

In many of our minds we're just waking up to this clash over the past 4 years since September 11th. In the minds of fundamentalist Muslims it's been going on since before September 11, 1683!

Colson writes:
And we believe in religious liberty, because we believe the truth will always win out. The Muslim doesn't. The Muslim believes in theocracy. Not just a state church, but a church state. What you have to understand about the Islamo-fascist movement is that what they are looking at is a war that started in the seventh century and is continuing today. We don't think that way. We think it's September 11 to today. "Oh, man! Four years of this is terrible!" That's what Americans are saying. Muslims are thinking about this as centuries old.

You have to understand that many Muslims are still smarting over the fact that their armies were defeated just short of Paris at Poitiers in 732 (halting Islam's advance in Europe). Crusades, then counter-Crusades, and so on until eventually the armies of the Ottoman Empire got as far as Vienna in 1683. Bear this in mind: It was a decisive battle when the Polish and German infantry turned back the Turks at Vienna. Do you know what day it was in 1683? September 11. If you tell me that bin Laden just picked that date out of the air, I've got some costume jewelry to sell you later on.

Bin Laden knew exactly what he was doing. He was resuming the war. He was avenging the defeat of Muslim armies that happened four hundred years ago.
I also found interesting Colson's comments about Christians are to take the culture back for God. He bases these comments in his theology from Genesis 1-2 where humanity is given the role of exercising dominion over the world. I have mixed feelings about that. On the one hand St. Paul said we are aliens in this world but perhaps as aliens we are to be taking dominion.

The part I really struggle with is Christians taking back the culture. Take it back to what? Is there a biblical version that the culture should be identifying with? Certainly there are biblical values we should adhere to. But I'm not sure we all agree on what those are and how they play out in the realm of morality.

For example my web blog has the occasional wine review and it has a small picture of my favorite Bouguereau print, "Jeune Fille se Defendant Contre L'amour", translation = "Young Girl Defending Herself Against Cupid". Some would find both of those reprehensible and inconsistent with the Christian faith. I don't.

I would love to see a dominant Christian culture that promoted a healthy respect for life, sexual purity, forgiveness & grace, reverence for Almighty God, justice, mercy, care for the poor & needy, and prayer. But there are value perspectives on the Christian faith from within evangelicalism that I just don't appreciate nor think are Biblical. I don't want to see them take the dominant role.

Camp Mission Meadows

I was at Camp Mission Meadows briefly this summer. What a great place. Every time they ask me to speak I do everything in my power to clear my schedule and make it happen. We got out of the car and my kids looked around. One of them said to the others, "Wow! This is heaven!" They love MM.

Buildings and grounds are what they are. Many camps have them. Some are better than others. MM is great and improving. But the best thing about MM is the staff. Karen & Mark and their team are godly people who have a great way of sharing God's love with everybody who shows up there. Countless people have heard their calling to ministry or come into a relationship with God through MM's ministry.

Take a visit to their site and make a donation to their new chapel.


The DISC Test is a perseonality inventory. This is not the actual DISC test by similar. I have taken the DISC several times over the years. A lot of HR people or head hunters use it. This time my results were: D: 12, I: 56, S: 24, C: 8. I always score real high on the "I". What's your score?

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Find an Anglican Church

Many people are leaving the Episcopal Church. That's not really news. But many are leaving sadly at the moment. They love the Anglican way of worship. The Anglican way is not really just something one does at a particular Sunday service but it is really way of life that seeks to honor God. People love it. I like it. To worship by the BCP is to orient one's life around God by honoring Him through reading the Scriptures, praying without ceasing and celebrating the work of God in the church. It's organized and beautiful.

With so many leaving they are looking for a new church in the Anglican tradition. This link leads to a map showing churches in the Anglican tradition that are not a part of ECUSA, or as they now prefer to be known The Episcopal Church (TEC), but are under the auspices of more orthodox bishops. The title of the page is actually "Find an AMiA Church" but it also lists churches affiliated with Nigeria, Kenya, Southern Cone, Uganda and Brazil.

That's certainly not to say that all TEChurches are bad or heterodox but they are not on this map.

I find it interesting that the majority of these churches are along the eastern seaboard from NYC south and heavily in the southeast. There is one in upstate NY located about an hour and a half from me on the south side of Syracuse.

I wonder if the majority of them being in the southeast is merely a result of a handful getting started there which mushroomed into more. Or is it a reaction to churches in the southern evangelical tradition? What makes that southeastern culture attracted to the Anglican way? It's possible they're just a bunch of displaced northerners but I doubt that's it. Any ideas?

Thursday, July 20, 2006

MARITAL AIDS: Covenant Spice

These nice folks asked me to link to their site. I am always in favor of encouraging happy marriages. Please go visit them. If you purchase something please mention "The Land of the Ultra Rev". They have a generous referral program.

Covenant Spice is dedicated to strengthening marriages and increasing playfulness and intimacy in your sex life. We believe God created marriage to be a lifelong passionate romance. From bedroom toys to Christian sex manuals, from body toppings to romantic games, we have everything you need to keep the sparks flying in and out of the bedroom.

Monday, July 17, 2006


RetroRocket is a great local band. The link above is to their new myspace site. Go and listen. You can even watch a short video clip. Bass player, Seve Ladouceur plays in the band at my church. They have a great sound. Rock on!

Thursday, July 13, 2006

atc_teenbuzz.mp3 (audio/mpeg Object)

So here is the cell phone ring tone that teens are using in places where they don't want "older" people to hear the ring. I play it and barely hear anything — just barely. I just called my wife in the room and played it for her and she literally flinched. I guess she's not old. I did rob the cradle afterall.

La Playa Vineyards - Chilean wine

La Playa Vineyards - Chilean wine

Stupid Church People

Before you click on the link above, just a warning that you might encounter some f-bombs at their site. Stupid Church People is a blog seemingly written by some cynical Christians who are on hiatus from attending church. Some of you are not going to like it but I hate to tell you how "normal" these dudes are. I know pastors and others who are this cynical and fed up with church.

Apple - Get a Mac

If you know me, you know I'm a Mac user. I used an Apple II in high school. I used a Mac at Roberts Wesleyan College where I used PageMaker 1.0 to do the school newspaper. I was a graphic artist at the Scotsman Press in Syracuse when they first got some Macs and I was the only in the building who knew how to use them.

The first one I bought was a Centris 610 with a LaswerWriter NTR. My first church I served bought a Performa 6300CD with a LaserWriter 400. Then I was given a Performa 6260, bought a used PowerBook 100, then received the donation of a PowerBook G3 WallStreet edition, a friend gave me an iMac revA, another friend gave me a DuoDoc system and I received a couple other gifts of monitors and cpu's. Eventually I bought an eMac and received the huge donation of 4 iMac's and 6 Mac G3's.

I have 23 Mac's, 3 LaserWriters, a Newton, 3 QuickTakes, several monitors and some other stuff.

You get it. I like Macs.

I used to be really rabid about the whole thing poking fun at PC users, debating the merits of the Mac OS, reading all the latest Mac gossip and rumors, etc. I'm over that now.

But I never owned a PC. I occasionally helped my dad with his and helped people in the computer lab at North Park but never really used one on a day in day out basis.

My company recently sent me a Compaq laptop. I've used it for a couple weeks now. I'm used to being a power-user and now I feel like an absolute idiot. Never in my life have I had to find the right "driver" or seen a C-prompt (C:...) or had to do so much configuring to get stuff to work. On the other hand, web browsing is a little faster. In general, PC computing is not fun. If you never had one, show yourself some love and Get a Mac.

The WILD Center | Natural History Museum of the Adirondacks

The WILD Center | Natural History Museum of the Adirondacks has just opened in Tupper Lake, NY. I hope to visit soon. It's about 1:45 away into the Adironkack Park and will be a magnificent drive.

CNN.com - Alleged Coke secret-sellers face court - Jul 6, 2006

This story reminded me of when Jesus encouraged his followers to love their enemies. Pepsi and Coke are certainly arch rivals in a very fierce competition for sugar water market share.

An employee of Coke conspired with some others to sell trade secrets of their employer to Pepsi. Pepsi officials blew the whistle on them. Very classy.

A quote from the article:

A Pepsi spokesman said the company was glad to help.

"We did what any responsible company would do," the spokesman said.

"Competition can be fierce, but it must also be fair and legal."

VirtueOnline: WASHINGTON, DC: Gay issues slowly erode Episcopal membership

Love the AMiA!

VirtueOnline: WASHINGTON, DC: Gay issues slowly erode Episcopal membership: "Other Episcopalians have departed for the Anglican Mission in America, a breakaway group allied with the Anglican bishop of Rwanda. This makes it part of the 70 million-member worldwide Anglican Communion, bypassing the communion's U.S. affiliate, the 2.3 million-member Episcopal Church.

The Anglican Mission in America (AMIA), based in Pawleys Island, S.C., has created 22 congregations since January. Ten of them include Episcopal clergy who have fled the denomination, along with a 'substantial' number of Episcopal congregants, according to AMIA Executive Director Tim Smith. 'We're busy,' Mr. Smith said. 'Phone calls, letters, e-mails, personal visits.'

In its almost five-year history, AMIA has consecrated five new bishops and amassed 72 churches encompassing 15,000 members. Colorado has the most congregations at 12, followed by Florida with nine. AMIA spokesman Jay Greener says Episcopalians seem to be 'in shock.' "


I have a friend who serves on the Elder Board of his General Conference Baptist Church. The elders told their pastor, "You cannot be effective in the pulpit when you do not have healthy balances and boundaries in your life." They expect him to work 40-48 hours a week and that he takes at least a full day off. They understand the ebb and flow of ministry. The occasional week might require more than 48 hours and there would be flex time to compensate. But over the course of the year, most weeks have a max of 48. There's no timesheet but if burn out appears questions will be asked.

I know it is hard for clergy to not work a lot. We love it. It feeds our egos. We genuinely like to help and the work is literally never done. We're "working for the Lord". I love adrenaline as much as the next guy. But ...

TRUTH: You are not working for the Lord when you are neglecting your family.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Yates Cellars – Home

For a variety of reasons I have not blogged about wine in recent times. However, tonight at dinner I had the most delightful semi-sweet red, "Trail Riders Red" from Yates Cellars.

Allen's Liqours on Rt. 342, the liquor store I frequent, has a shopping cart right when one enters the store that is full of discounted wines. I got this one out of the cart for $5.99, marked down from $8.99. The Yates web site is selling it for $12.00.

I highly recommend it. Not too sweet and it finishes well.

Brad.Boydston.us: On reading scripture

For the past couple weeks I've been thinking about buying NT Wright's book Simply Christian. St. Brad of Abet had this quote on his blog, which has convinced me I need to order it before I go to bed tonight:

Brad.Boydston.us: On reading scripture: "On reading scripture '...my point at the moment is simply this: reading the Bible aloud is always central to Christian worship. Cutting back on this for whatever reason -- trimming readings so that the service doesn't go on too long, chanting scripture passages so that they become a part of a musical performance, or reading only the few verses the preacher intends to preach about -- misses the point. The reason we read scripture in worship isn't primarily to inform or remind the congregation about some biblical passage or theme they might have forgotten. Likewise, it's much more than a peg to hang a sermon on, though preaching from one or more of the readings is often a wise plan. Reading scripture in worship is, first and foremost, the central way of celebrating who God is and what he's done.'

N.T. Wright, Simply Christian, p. 150"

That is so right on. Even in a digital, multimedia, ADHD, sound-byte culture we need to read the Word publicly.

One of the wonderful things about the Anglican liturgy that I enjoyed whilst serving in the Episcopal church is the abundance of Scripture read to alluded to in every worship service — whether the daily office or a full blown Eucharist. Every Sunday we chanted a Psalm, read the OT & NT lesson and stood for the reading of the Gospel lesson. Fr. Turner used to have the book with the Gospel lesson on the high altar. He would journey up to get it and as he came down to read it in the midst of the people, two of the altar servers would flank him on either side with lit candles. The symbolism was rich.

One of the things that I appreciate about my current fantastic pastor is that he makes us stand "inreverencee for God's Word" and this in an extremely low church setting. The contrast in styles is striking and effective. I only wish we read more Scripture.

On the other hand ...
I find it amazing how much Scripture is read in the Episcopal liturgy yet how pervasively Biblically illiterate they are. Public reading does not always mean that it impacts one's thinking.

I also advocate for communicating in culture friendly ways. It would seem that just the plain reading of long passages ofScripturee might not seem to be the most user friendly strategy. Yet I still think it is a "must" for Christian worship.

I wonder what NT Wright might say about Scripture readings done on video. Does anyone have his email?

Monday, July 10, 2006

State court rules against same-sex marriage -- Page 1 -- TimesUnion.com

State court rules against same-sex marriage -- Page 1 -- TimesUnion.com: "The 70-page decision was posted just after 9 a.m. on the Web site of the state Court of Appeals. It has been eagerly awaited by the state's 45,000 same-sex families"

45k? I'll be 44k live in NYC.

It's interesting they are called "same-sex families". I think I've seen other journalists use the word "partnerships" or something similar. I wonder how they define family. What criteria do they use? Must they live together? For how long? Is it expected that they are monogamous?

All of these questions could and should also be applied to heterosexual couples also. When a journalist uses the term "family (-ies)" what do they mean?

In some ways it is interesting that the journalist calls them "families" when, essentially, the ruling by the court says they are not.

And for what it's worth ... the article also notes that NY allows first cousins to marry but obviously only heterosexual ones.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

VirtueOnline - News - Theology, Research ... - Does Addressing God as 'Mother' Violate the 3rd Commandment?

Interesting article by Professor Michael Williams with a portion posted at VirtueOnline: Does Addressing God as 'Mother' Violate the 3rd Commandment?

The full article is at Covenant Seminary.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Welcome to St. Andrew's in the Valley

Formerly(?) an Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Central New York, St. Andrew's in the Valley is now listed at the AMiA web site. Interestingly enough, it is still listed here at the Diocese of CNY site also. I wondering to whom they belong: AMiA or ECUSA?

I often hear really great stories about this church and hope to visit sometime.

Lesser Franciscans

The AMiA is a marvelous thing. Also listed at their site is the ministry of the Lesser Franciscans, with a location listed at Attleboro, MA. If you have any interest whatsoever in monastic spirituality and I do, this is a very intriguing ministry.

Anglican Mission in America - Anglican Prayer Initiative

Here are the links from the AMiA - Anglican Prayer Initiative web site:

Monday, July 03, 2006

New York State Parks :: Thousand Islands Region

There are a ton of great State Parks in New York. Tonight we drove up to Cedar Point outside of Clayton for an evening swim. Caught a few bass too. Here are the parks nearest to me: New York State Parks :: Thousand Islands Region.

The Seattle Times: Nation & World: Willie Nelson rescues a church

The picture caption says, "Nelson and his sister purchased the church and reopened it on Sunday." Is it still Methodist? Does that make him Bishop Willie Nelson? It's interesting that the church bulding means something to Willie but the faith that is supposed to go with it doesn't interest him so much.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Population Estimates for All Places: 2000 to 2005

For those of you who work with population estimates as I do, here is the recent data from the Government Census Estimates.

Population Estimates for All Places: 2000 to 2005