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Friday, February 29, 2008

PEACE BE WITH YOU.

I have some Rich Mullins on my iPod today and listened to him on the plane on the way down to Charlotte. The lyrics are cut and pasted from the Calling Our Your Name site. I love this song. As you read the lyrics think about sharing the Peace just before Eucharist in a worship service.

Peace
(A Communion Blessing From St. Joseph's Square)
Rich Mullins and Beaker

Matthew 26:26-30, John 6:32-58, Colossians 3:12-17

Though we're strangers, still I love you
I love you more than your mask
And you know you have to trust this to be true
And I know that's much to ask
But lay down your fears, come and join this feast
He has called us here, you and me

And may peace rain down from Heaven
Like little pieces of the sky
Little keepers of the promise
Falling on these souls
This drought has dried
In His Blood and in His Body
In the Bread and in this Wine
Peace to you
Peace of Christ to you

And though I love you, still we're strangers
Prisoners in these lonely hearts
And though our blindness separates us
Still His light shines in the dark

And His outstretched arms are still strong enough to reach
Behind these prison bars to set us free

So may peace rain down from Heaven
Like little pieces of the sky
Little keepers of the promise
Falling on these souls the drought has dried
In His Blood and in His Body
In this Bread and in this Wine
Peace to you
Peace of Christ to you

And may peace rain down from Heaven
Like little pieces of the sky
Like those little keepers of the promise
Falling on these souls the draught has dried
In His Blood and in His Body
In the Bread and in this Wine
Peace to you
Peace of Christ to you
Peace to you
Peace of Christ to you

Christianity Explored

Are any of you using Christianity Explored? It's a Christian exploration course similar to Alpha. David Virtue says of it, "[Virtue OnLine] heartily commends this ministry. It will take you deeper than ALPHA. You will be a true and full disciple of Jesus if you take this course." There is a Wikipedia article that says, "Christianity Explored is 'plainly an answer to the Alpha course'"

VirtueOnline: VANCOUVER: J.I. Packer threatened with suspension

Esteemed theologian J.I. Packer has been threatened with suspension by the Bishop of New Westminster, Michael Ingham. Apparently Dr. Packer's church has left the Anglican Church of Canada and joined the Province of the Southern Cone. Why that would be reason for suspension I'm not entirely sure.

Dr. Packer, Professor of Theology at Regent College in Vancouver, was ordained a priest by the C of E in 1953. He will be 82 this summer.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Next Major Religion? None of the Above. Secularism

A very long, fascinating article from The Atlantic makes the claim that potential world peace will be coming. Not from any major religion but from secularism. And The Winner Is...

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

What Is Your City's Sin?

Ever wondered what your city's biggest sin is or how sinful it is in comparison to others? No? Me neither, but apparently others have.

VirtueOnline: America's Most Sinful Cities? - Albert Mohler

I wonder what is Liverpool, NY's most predominant sin? Syracuse, NY? I'm guessing drunkeness but I'll have to give that some thought.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Tell The Story site

My friend York Moore posted on my site recently so I wandered over to his site: Tell the Story. I hadn't been there in a while and he's pimped it out nice with Flash. He's got some free audio available there, as well some books and DVD's for sale.

I first heard York speak at a PEN Conference in Harrisonburg, VA in 2005. You can go here to download audio files of his passionate and compelling presentation.

The following clip is long but York is great here. Here is what he writes on his Facebook page about this clip:
"Here is the video for the Price of Life main event message addressing the relationship between child sex slavery and the freedom available through the power of the gospel. I also address the idea of "remote consumption" of trafficking victims, making the U.S. complicit in child sex slavery and forced prostitution. 1,000 students attended this event at Michigan State University in November, 2007 and over 100 became Christians through the campaign. Enjoy!"

Worried About Fundraising During a Recession?

Today I drove from home to Camden, NJ. My cool rental car had XM so today was my first time to mess with it. I like it, though it cut out in the tunnels and steep hills through PA. Listened to lots of talk radio and news and everyone is talking about a recession.

In my business -- non profit, parachurch -- recessions are extra scary. When finances are tight, people will stop giving to us before their church and likely even before they seriously alter their lifestyle. We're one of the first cuts.

Anyways, a friend sent me a link regarding: Donor Power Blog: Fundraising in a recession. Useful blog overall.

Blond Joke: Horse back riding

A blonde decides to learn and try horse back riding unassisted without prior experience or lessons. She mounts the horse with great effort, and the tall, shiny horse springs into motion. It gallops along at a steady and rhythmic pace, but the blonde begins to slip from the saddle.

Out of shear terror, she grabs for the horse's mane, but cannot seem to get a firm grip. She tries to throw her arms around the horse's neck, but she slides down the side of the horse anyway. The horse gallops along, seemingly oblivious to its slipping rider.

Finally, giving up her frail grip, she leaps away from the horse to try and throw herself to safety. Unfortunately, her foot has become entangled in the stirrup. She is now at the mercy of the horse's pounding hooves as her head is struck against the ground again and again.

As her head is battered against the ground, she is mere moments away from unconsciousness or even death when Frank, the Wal-Mart manager runs out to shut the horse off.

Ark of the Covenant in Zimbabwe?

A Lead on the Ark of the Covenant - TIME: Doug Parfitt, 63, is a professor at the University of London's prestigious School of Oriental and African Studies. He thinks he's found the Ark of the Covenant. I remember being at Roberts Wesleyan College and we had a chapel speaker who came to talk about Noah's Ark and where he thought it was. He also thought he knew where the Ark of the Covenant was: in the ground below where Jesus was crucified so that his blood would have dripped onto the Ark.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Is Europe a Good Predictor of the Future of Religion in America?

Over half of Britons claim no religion -Times Online
I wonder how long it will be until we see this kind of statistic for the US? Missiologists are now suggesting less than 20% (conservatively) of the US population attend church on any given week. Can it be far behind that people will begin claiming no religion?

Friday, February 22, 2008

The Ultra Rev on Tour

Spent two days this week in western Pennsylvania. I stay in this gorgeous Hyatt in Cranberry Township, PA. We hosted a 2 day pastors conference with Dr. Robert Coleman and Dr. Elmer Towns. Dr. Towns gave me one of his books: 365 Ways to Know God. Both are the classiest gentlemen you could possibly meet ever.

Next week I get to visit Camden, NJ, Pottstown, PA and Charlotte, NC. The following week will be back in Butler, PA. I think I'm planning to stay home for Holy Week.

The people of western Pennsylvania — Butler County, PA and the surrounding areas — are really great folks. I've known them a only a few short months and they already feel like family. They are marvelous to work and go to dinner with. One pastor even bravely invited me to preach in his church after he heard me speak at one of our events. So I'll have the privilege of preaching in a church founded by German immigrants in 1817. Thank you Lord. I'm humbled.

Vineyard Church in Syracuse a Great Place!

Last Sunday my family and I took a trip "across the lake" to visit the Vineyard Church. It took a whole eight minutes to get there and is directly across Onondaga Lake from us.

It was a nice welcoming church. They read Scripture in the service and served communion, which endeared them to me right away. After the service we received a gift bag with a music and message CD, New Testament, candy and literature. Nicky, my 3 y/o also received a gift bag with a music CD. Even more importantly he came out of his class and told me about his memory verse.

The Children's Pastor sent a postcard to my kids thanking them for coming. I thought that was nice. Then today, Alyx and I received a card from Pastor John Elmer thanking us for visiting. Inside it had a postcard with a stamp on it for us to give them some feedback and they gave us a $5 gift card for Hess Gas — "You're next drive in is on us." I was really blown away.

Interesting worship service times: 9:30 am and 11:30 am. We visited the 11:30 am service.

Cracked.com Has Some More Irreverent Humor

20 Tacky Religious Products Guaranteed to Anger God | Cracked.com
A lot of these you have probably seen or heard of. The new one for me were the sandals that leave footprints in the sand on the beach. One foot leaves "Jesus" and the other one "Loves You".

People Are Tired of Church & Looking for Options

VirtueOnline: Millions Seek Alternatives to Church

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Infinity Alliance

"Imagine what God could do in your neighborhood, town, city or state if every man, woman and child who lived there was repeatedly confronted with a clear and relevant witness to the love of Jesus Christ." That is what the Infinity Alliance is about — reaching every man, woman and child of the 300+ million people in the US. I know I mentioned the on this blog the other day, but now their web site is up and running. Extremely well done. Thank you again to Jordan Stinziano for hosting last week's lunch with missiologist Dwight Smith of the Infinity Alliance.

If you are interested in connecting with missional Christians who want to partner with others to strategically present the Gospel to every last person on the globe you really must check out the Infinity Alliance site.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Bye, Bye PDF's. Hello iPaper!

Heard of iPaper? Meet iPaper | Scribd

Bridge Illustration Dead? What then? The Big Story.

A popular method to explain the central message of Christianity has been the Bridge Illustration. If you've never seen it, check it out here: The Bridge to Life (Navigators). David Fitch is wondering: The Bridge Illustration: An Idea Whose Time Has Come and Gone?

So how about a new idea called: The Big Story created by James Choung. Check out these sites with some fun little video explanations: The Big Story or The Big Story, Part 2. Would love to hear your comments on the Big Story.




Monday, February 18, 2008

Too Sexy For My Minivan

Kim Aliczi has a second blog that I didn't know about: Too Sexy For My Minivan. It's for heroes aka stay-at-home-moms.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Sex Promotion at Church

Relevant Church in Tampa has a 30-day Sex Challenge going on according to: Life: God wants you to have sex. They are encouraging their married people to have sex every day for 30 days and their single members to abstain for 30 days, even if they are in a committed relationship. From their web site:
People are not having enough sex. An epidemic of breakups prove the needs that lead to a great sex life are being overlooked. Dirty dishes, frumpy clothes, and a lack of authentic connections are killing the romance. A great sex life is a challenge and takes focus, determination, and planning. Some say it’s an unrealistic goal, but we disagree. We believe you can have a great sex life, in fact we believe God wants you to have a great sex life.

Relevant Church is proposing a challenge encouraging married couples to purposely engage in sexual activity for 30 days and singles to intentionally forgo sexual activity for 30 days. We know, it sounds crazy. However, we believe this challenge will not only improve sex lives, but also strengthen relationships. In this series married couples will review the obvious needs of him and uncover the forgotten needs of her and singles will cut through the illusions and consider the qualities that result in healthy relationships.

For far too long the church has remained silent on the subject, leading many people to believe that God is against sex, which is completely counter to what the Bible teaches. Join us February 17 - March 16 to find out what the buzz is about. Topics include:

- Business Time (Let the challenge begin)

- Your Way Right Away (Sometimes it's not all about you)

- Premature Consummation (Maybe there's another way)

- Taboos (Can you say that in church?)

- Building Stamina (From challenge to lifetime)

Some material may be inappropriate for younger audiences.
In a show of solidarity with my brothers and sisters in Tampa, The Ultra Rev encourages all his beloved readers to do the same. Hope as I run into you over the coming weeks that I see you all with smiles on your faces. Remember: God is the author of love and lovemaking. We as His people ought to be experts at both.

UPDATE: Lead Pastor Paul Wirth emailed me: "Thanks for the kind words on your blog. Enjoy the challenge. We will have a pdf version of the guide up on our site on Monday."

Charles Barkley Rips Conservatives as Fake Christians

Former NBA star Charles Barkley rips Republicans and says the word 'conservatives' makes him sick. He calls them "fake Christians". Barkley says he is for gay marriage, is pro-choice and the fact that Christians are against those things makes them judgmental and hypocritical. He feels that Christians are not following the Scriptures when they stand against those things and that they are unforgiving. Of course, such reasoning is idiotic, poorly thought out and ends with the logic that Christians should not judge anything at all and anyone's behavior, aberrant or otherwise should be acceptable. How foolish and ignorant.

Even if you are pro-gay, pro-choice and anti-Christian, don't embarrass yourself with the ridiculous logic that Barkley used here. Charles is just as judgmental as the people he condemns and just exposed himself as such on national TV. If you are going to honestly advocate for tolerance, you have to be tolerant of positions you find intolerant, otherwise you are the very thing you condemn.

Barkley says he just bought a house in Alabama and will run for governor in 2014 after he has met their 7 year residency requirement. I'm sure the fine people of Alabama will find a better choice.

7 Characteristics of Missional Churches

Thanks to Jordan Stinziano of Summit Church of Syracuse (soon to be Missio Church) for organizing today's lunch at PJ Dorsey's with Andrew Smith of Infinity Alliance. Thanks to the Mazz of Catalyst Church for inviting me.

Andrew Smith spoke about missional work happening all over the world including estimates that the church in India may be 130 million, making it bigger than the church in China at 120 million. He gave some great encouragement about ministries all over the world asking seriously of God, "What does the church exist for? What do you want for our city?" And then the cooperative effort to carry out God's will for a community. Here are my cryptic notes from his talk.

7 Characteristics of Missional Churches
  1. Target Driven: they know very clearly the group they are reaching. Not ethno-driven but geography driven.
  2. Interdependent Leadership: Churches that don't just have a pastor but an interdependent leadership team. Difference between missional churches and historically successful churches in the US: US churches have traditionally been led by a good teacher or evangelist, whilst international missional churches have been led by someone apostolically functioning in the world.
  3. Measurable + Incarnational Values: Are our people actually practicing what we are preaching? Honestly?
    • What percentage of your people are practicing the priesthood?
    • Are they telling the story of salvation?
    • Are they using and understanding their gifts?
    • Are they maturing in the fruit of the Spirit?
  4. Laterally Postured: always thinking outward.
  5. Empower People: 100% mobilized churches.
  6. Antioch Related to Other Churches
  7. ????
Smith holds the same concern I do that we are potentially less than a generation away from the Christianity being nearly extinct or non-functional in North America. He says the church in Wales is nearly non-existent.

Smith says that there are cities around the nation where the churches are beginning to function in unison as the body of Christ to reach their communities for Christ. Jordan is planning to be a catalyst for that in Syracuse. Thanks Jordan. The Infinity Alliance is a gathering of churches that are saying, "We'll take responsibility for our city."

We're talking about ministries of different theological flavors partnering together to present the Gospel of Jesus Christ in authentic ways to every man, women and child in Onondaga County. Finally, someone who speaks my language.

One other interesting anecdote. One of the dangers of the US church according to Smith is that we are so "attractional and gathering based." We are so set on growing a crowd of people and treating churches like warehouses to be filled so they can hear preaching. I've seen in church plants, especially in their early days, they have numerical benchmarks to meet -- in essence, causing them to be gathering based. It seems more important to be ministry and life transformation based.

It was a good day. Thanks again Jordan.

——————————————

Have you watched Summit's promo video? Check it out. Very well done.

video

Friday, February 15, 2008

R. York Moore: Wikifaith

York Moore has coined a new term: Wikifaith. Here is a fascinating entry from York's Facebook page. Imagine a merging of Christian Faith and Wikipedia.
I've been working on a second book and hope to start marketing it for a contract sometime this summer. One of the most controversial aspects of the book will be the concept I've coined "wikifaith," after Wikipedia. Wikipedia, as we all know, is an on-line, open-sourced, collaberative encyclopedia project where anyone can submit and edit articles on just about everything. One of the fears of such an encycolopedia is that the open-sourced nature of the articles would lead to an even greater manifestation of relativism, further sinking the concept of truth into the murky waters of self-perception. To the surprise of many, this project produced articles that are extremely reliable. Because of the communal editing aspect of Wikipedia, inaccuracies typically don't last long or go unchallenged.

This concept does involve risk but openning the definition process up to community, we have a greater sense of shared intellectual wealth and excitement as we, together, define the reality around us collaberatively. Unlike the leather bound coffins for ideas that sit on dusty shelves, forever embalming the truth on everything, this living encyclopedia has revolutionized the industry and has brought a new era of interest in the encyclopedia-something Microsoft's Encarta could never achieve.

There is risk and trust involved. Not trust in the individual but trust in the process. I believe that this same process in America needs to be embraced when it comes to faith and religion. I believe that the American Church has a limted piece of the article entry. This "piece" is rich with theological thought and practice but it is, in fact, incomplete. When it comes to who God is, what His Kingdom is all about, and what is truly important in the world, I believe the non-Churched world has much to say and contribute to our understanding.

When it comes to evangelism, for instance, we should no longer come to the transaction as expert educators as in the modern milieu. Instead, teaching others about Jesus should also include authentic listening. Listening should always be a part of sharing Christ with others, but today, I believe we can hear the voice and heart of God in the convictions and beliefs of those who are outside the Church. The vision of life that many have is much closer to the vision of Christ's Kingdom then most people in the Church in America today. We have so pragmatically limited what life and mission are all about in the Church that we have shut the door on the fuller understanding of life under the King and have thus removed the connecting space that many who are "out" would find otherwise.

Wikifaith is the more holistic understanding and practice to Christian living that comes when we take our understanding of God and His Kingdom and collaberatively live life and dialogue out with those many who are "out" but clearly have an understanding that is patently missing in the Church. This involves risk and faith. Not faith in the individual, but in the God who has deeply rooted himself in a generation, birthing in that generation a missing piece of Himself and His Kingdom. Wikifaith can lead to genuine societal transformation or the destruction (hallowing out) of the church. The difference is how we engage in the process.

Wikifaith requires theologians. Wikifaith requires sculpting a justice generation, not merely affirming their thinking about the world. While the Kingdom space in the hearts of this emerging generation is authentic, it is guided by brokenness and a world system that is, in fact, anti-Christ. Wikifaith is a process that God is calling the Church to today. We need to adjust our values, our thinking, our passions. We need to learn from those we seek to reach in humility and awe, awe in the great and mystical work of God who has planted himself in the hearts of a new generation-and that without our permission!

The Ultra Rev Invites Pope For Visit

According to an AP report: The Pope to Visit The White House. Since he is coming to the US and will be so close, I'm inviting him to my house. My new home in Liverpool, NY is fantastic, though not quite as big as the White House, and I would welcome a visit from Pope Benedict. We'll have a cook out. It'll be a great way to meet the neighbors. I'll email him.

There Go Those Catholics Again! Standing Up For What's Right.

I dugg this story today: Italian bishops condemned for urging actors to shun sex scenes - Times Online.

Biblical Archeology – The City of Lachish | Classical Hebrew Blog

Hey, learn a little about the city of Lachish from archeaology.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

HUMOR: Special Report: Snow in Toronto

video

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Catholic Church has Chuzpah

My Way News - Archbishop Objects to Clinton Rally

I love it that the Roman Catholic Church has backbone. Archbishop Jose Gomez has objected to the pro-choice female senator from NY who is running for president speaking at a Catholic University.
Gomez said he was not trying to tell people how to vote, but he noted that U.S. Catholic bishops have affirmed a statement calling on Catholics not to honor or give platforms to political candidates and officeholders "who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles."

Pastors & Churches Beware of Mixing Church and Politics

Breitbart.com: AP: Pastor: IRS Probes Huckabee Endorsement
Hmmmm .... let me get this straight: a Southern Baptist pastor wrote a press release on church letterhead endorsing a candidate (Huckabee), further endorsed him on his radio show and now he's upset that the IRS is probing him. I think the IRS has made it pretty clear over the years you just can't do that and expect to keep your tax exempt status.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Pimping My Friends

Mostly this is a blog about theology, culture and my ramblings but I like to promote my friends businesses or churches on here too. They don't give me any kick backs (yet) but I like to send a little traffic their way to encourage them and bless their business. Here's a couple of my favorites:

Best Coffee in Upstate New York and beyond: CafeKubal Roast House. Located on James St. in Sacred Melody Plaza and owned by Matt Godard. Matt is hoping to soon start roasting and selling at the Farmer's Market on Saturday mornings.

Best Food in Northern New York and possibly the universe: Cavallario's Cucina. Brenda Cavallario is the quintessential restaurateur and it shows in the classiest eatery in the North Country.

Best Graphic Artists I Know: White Ivy Design. Troy and Liza Anderson are wonderful people to work with and their portfolio is one stunning piece of eye candy after another. They also donated a Power Mac tower, iBook and iMac to my used Mac collection. Located in northern MN in the quaint little town of Coleraine.

Spring time is almost here and I know you are thinking about buying a boat for this summer. Now that I live less than 2 minutes from Onondaga Lake, I definitely am planning to buy a boat. Check out Bill's Auto • Marine and see what he's got. He sells cars too. Bill is in Dexter, NY.

New Book: Commentary on the New Testament Use of The Old Testament

Two Testaments, One Story | Christianity Today |

A new book for scholars belongs on your shelves. Christianity Today has an interview with Wheaton scholar, Greg Beale, who co-authored with DA Carson: New Book: Commentary on the New Testament Use of The Old Testament.

Monday, February 11, 2008

25 Incredible Skins, Resources & Tools for the Gmail Power User

Lots of people are having their email sent to one place and dealing with it through one client: GMAIL is the rage.

The Common Cause Partnership

There has begun a realignment Anglicanism in North America. A variety of Anglican groups, who are orthodox in their theology and separated from the Episcopal Church have made a commitment to further the Gospel together: The Common Cause Partnership

Researchers Say Same Sex Attraction Not Hardwired

Despite the media's endless portrayal to the contrary, the medical and research community is not united in the belief that same sex attraction (SSA) is genetic or hard-wired. The research at this site, My Genes Made Me Do It, is detailed and convincing that SSA is not genetic. Read their Summary Report and you will be shocked at what a different story science tells as opposed to the media.

Jesus As Ninja

The Bible as Graphic Novel, With a Samurai Stranger Called Christ - New York Times

This probably won't be the Bible I would be preaching from anytime soon but it sounds entertaining.
"Ajinbayo Akinsiku wants the world to know Jesus Christ, just not the gentle, blue-eyed Christ of old Hollywood movies and illustrated Bibles.

Mr. Akinsiku says his Son of God is “a samurai stranger who’s come to town, in silhouette,” here to shake things up in a new, much-abridged version of the Bible rooted in manga, the Japanese form of graphic novels."
We'll have to add a new section to our systematic theology classes: Jesus as Ninja.

Judges Press IRS on Church Tax Break - February 8, 2008 - The New York Sun

The Scientologists make a lot of news these days, though very little of it is import. The linked article above is about a Jewish couple's attempt to get a tax break that is allowed by Scientologists.

Apparently Scientologists undergo a training of some kind where they are required to shell out some cash. After years of lawsuits, "the IRS agreed to allow Scientologists to deduct at least 80% of the fees paid for "religious training and services.""

It seems that the Jewish couple wants to deduct expenses for sending their kids to a religious school. The IRS doesn't see that as the same thing. The Court wants to explore that but the IRS isn't being helpful.
"...
the training Scientologists can deduct is not the same as religious education. "The use of the word 'training' in Scientology is not analogous to education," she said. "It's just another way of advancing spiritually in Scientology."

I wonder if this will have any impact on Christians and their ability to deduct expenses related to "advancing spiritually" in Christianity.

Christians Wrong About Heaven, Says Bishop - TIME

Here's a great TIME interview with N.T. "Tom" Wright, Bishop of Durham. He says traditional Christian views about Heaven are wrong. Instead of the traditional thought of: you die, go to heaven and that's it -- Wright advocates for an intermediary place where are with God, "resting and being refreshed" but then will be resurrected to a new creation.

The Catholic Church is Taking Satan Head-on

Articles continue to appear in the news of the Catholic Church renewing it's ministry of exorcism.

Ritual of Dealing With Demons Undergoes a Revival
"The Rev. Andrzej Trojanowski, a soft-spoken Pole, plans to build a "spiritual oasis" that will serve as Europe's only center dedicated to performing exorcisms. With the blessing of the local Catholic archbishop and theological support from the Vatican, the center will aid a growing number of Poles possessed by evil forces or the devil himself, he said."

Saturday, February 09, 2008

iFPHC.org | Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center

Interested in Pentecostal history? Try: iFPHC.org | Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.

Christ Covenant Church — Novi, MI

Check out this sweet eye candy: Christ Covenant Church web site aka digitalc3.com. Make sure you have your sound on for the explosions and funky music. Very well done. C3 is pastored by Nate Pawl, voted sexiest pastor in the Great Lakes Conference.

Watch out for that spooky eye. It's Nate. He's watching every move you make.

C3 has another web site but it's not nearly as fun or pimped out. What a great church. I want to move there.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

BWSSI: Professional Sound, Lights, Video, Production.

BWSSI has a new flashy web site. Dustin Bouldin is CEO of BWSSI and I have had the privilege of calling him friend for nearly 20 years. He has installed sound and lighting in 2 churches I have served and has provided sound, lighting and video services to my company for over 10 years. Dustin is also one of the Christian people I admire most.

He is based in central New York but he travels all over the east coast for installations and his portfolio reads like Who's Who of the music world and famous people including President Bush. If you need advice on sound, lighting or video equipment, are planning a concert or are installing equipment in your church -- contact Dustin Bouldin at BWSSI.

Daily Bits

An interesting tech blog: Daily Bits.

For Gmail users: 25 Incredible Skins, Resources & Tools for the Gmail Power User

Lent has begun.

Lent ‘beginning of 40-day journey’ for Christians - Utica, NY 13501 - The Observer-Dispatch

I love Lent and I love the church calendar year. It pains me to not be connected to a church with liturgical leanings at the moment. In a surprise of surprises, I surfed across The Vineyard Church of Syracuse's web page this week and found: they have an afternoon Anglican worship experience on Sundays AND they had an Ash Wed service last night. Outstanding! I like the thought of that. Imagine for a moment people coming forward for the imposition of ashes and being slain in the Spirit as the sign of the cross is made.

The BCP's Ash Wednesday is online.
"Dear People of God: The first Christians observed with great devotion the days of our Lord's passion and resurrection, and it became the custom of the Church to prepare for them by a season of penitence and fasting. This is season of Lent provided a time in which converts to the faith were prepared for Holy Baptism. It was also a time when those who, because of notorious sins, had been separated from the body of the faithful were reconciled by penitence and forgiveness, and restored to the fellowship of the Church. Thereby, the whole congregation was put in mind of the message of pardon and absolution set forth in the Gospel of our Savior, and of the need which all Christians continually have to renew their repentance and faith.

I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Church, to the observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and editating on God's holy Word. And, to make a right beginning of repentance, and as a mark of our mortal nature, let us now kneel before the Lord, our maker and redeemer."

Catholics Change Liturgy for Jewish Concerns

Vatican modifies prayer for Jews: The Washington Times, America's Newspaper

So as I read the article I find that indeed it seems that the Vatican changed the wording of a prayer in their liturgy to hopefully be less offensive to Jewish persons. It seems that the bottom line for certain Jewish groups was that the Catholic prayers not promote anti-Semitism. So they changed a prayer that almost no one uses:
"Father Massa said the overwhelming majority of Catholics will not hear this new prayer because only communities or parishes that exclusively celebrate the Tridentine Mass can use it in the three days leading up to Easter. Parishes with an occasional Traditional Latin Mass will use either Good Friday prayer."
Apparently no one is happy. Some Jewish groups don't like that Catholics still pray for them to convert and some Catholic groups don't want a new prayer because it insinuates there was something wrong with the old one.

The new prayer replacing the old prayer still asks "That our God and Lord may enlighten their hearts, that they acknowledge Jesus Christ as the Savior of all men ..." but it is slightly more gracious in that it does not pray "that almighty God may remove the veil from their hearts; so that they too may acknowledge Jesus Christ our Lord" or "hear our prayers, which we offer for the blindness of that people; ... they may be delivered from their darkness."

I had to laugh because I know evangelicals who pray for Catholics the same way that Catholics pray for Jewish people and not only on Good Friday. Lord have mercy on us all and lead us all into Truth.

Evangelicals a Liberal Can Love

Nicholas Kristof acknowledges what we already know, liberals are nearly as tolerant as they think they are. He should know. He is one. Yet in this NYT OP-ED piece, Evangelicals a Liberal Can Love, Kristof confesses that liberals need to open their minds to the fact that those who would be identified as evangelicals have changed and are not the monolithic group they used to be.

"At a New York or Los Angeles cocktail party, few would dare make a pejorative comment about Barack Obama's race or Hillary Clinton's sex. Yet it would be easy to get away with deriding Mike Huckabee's religious faith.

Liberals believe deeply in tolerance and over the last century have led the battles against prejudices of all kinds, but we have a blind spot about Christian evangelicals. They constitute one of the few minorities that, on the American coasts or university campuses, it remains fashionable to mock.

Scorning people for their faith is intrinsically repugnant, and in this case it also betrays a profound misunderstanding of how far evangelicals have moved over the last decade."
Thank you Mr. Kristof for this very honest and thoughtful piece. But honestly there have always been evangelicals concerned with justice and compassion. You've just never heard about them. Most of them were too busy doing it, rather than fighting for the spotlight with Jerry & Pat.

I wonder what this says about us as evangelicals, when a self described 'liberal' journalists finds us more likable. Either we have adjust to his expectations, or maybe we've become more like Jesus. I hope it's the latter.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Swedish Recycling Mayhem

The Recycling Myth - Per Bylund - Mises Institute
Apparently recycling in Sweden is mandatory and a huge hassle.

BBC NEWS: Catholic nuns and monks decline

I wonder why this data is just now being reported. This 10% decline happened 2 years ago. What if it was 50% in the 2 years since then? The Catholic Church's leadership continues to age and decline in number. Lord have mercy.
Newly published statistics showed that the number of men and women belonging to religious orders fell by 10% to just under a million between 2005 and 2006.

The downward trend accelerated despite a steady increase in the membership of the Catholic Church to more than 1.1bn.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Liverpool Community Church | Liverpool, New York 13088

Liverpool Community Church's new web site is up: Liverpool Community Church. Nice site. I still wonder why there is no staff info at the site: no pastor welcome, bio's, etc. Just names. No real way of finding out who is in charge of what. It was that way with the old site too. UPDATE: Chris says he's working on it.

Their Youth Pastor, Chris Szulwach, has a couple of nice pieces of eye-candy: his blog Coffee with Chris and site for Radeus, the church student ministry. Both are WordPress blogs and very well done.

If you live in Liverpool this is a great place to go to church. Denominationally, they are connected to the Free Methodist Church.

NEW! AMiA Church Planting Initiative: THE ANGLICAN INITIATIVE FOR MISSION

Though I am not on their payroll, don't attend their church and get no kick-back for this: I continue to promote the Anglican Mission in America (AMiA). Their enthusiasm for new churches and evangelism is exciting. I am definitely part of the AMIA fan club.

They recently held their Winter Conference 2008 and announced a major church planting initiative: The Anglican Initiative for Mission. Prior to the Winter Conference they held an Essentials of Church Planting Conference. See press release here.

These people are excited about planting new churches and expanding the Kingdom of God. They are kindred spirits with my beloved Evangelical Covenant Church. Their process is nearly identical to what the Covenant Church has done for several years with excellence and success: Insprite & Call; Train & Equip; and Send & Support.

I think the AMiA is a perfect match for the heavily de-churched, Catholic upstate New York -- especially the greater Syracuse area where there is such a huge need. I think their style of ministry would be well received here.

Here is the Church Planting Initiative promo video:

Saturday, February 02, 2008

How to search Blogger.com - A Consuming Experience

Maybe I'm not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but I couldn't figure out how to search Blogger.com for bloggers I wanted to find in a certain geographical location. So I had to do a Google search to figure that out and stumbled across this: How to search Blogger.com - A Consuming Experience

Scandia Covenant Church - Russell, PA

Scandia Covenant Church in Russell, PA has a new web site. The church is pastored by my friend James Swanson II, who is really a top notch pastor. I led a School of Evangelism there several years. They are absolutely a wonderful group of people.