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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

How Did We Get This Credit Crisis?

The Crisis of Credit Visualized on Vimeo

The Crisis of Credit Visualized from Jonathan Jarvis on Vimeo.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

NEW Book on Intimate Relations: LEADing to the Bedroom: Using the Bible to spice up your sex life - Atlanta conservative | Examiner.com

LEADing to the Bedroom: Using the Bible to spice up your sex life - Atlanta conservative | Examiner.com

Yet another book by an evangelical Christian leader dealing with intimate relations for husbands and wives. The books, sermons, web sites, etc. all keep coming. I suppose that just as Kevin Leman, Linda Dillow and others have improved upon Ed Wheat and Josh McDowell, there will be someone improving upon all of them. This trend within evangelicalism remains strong.

While it grows tiresome, it is still needed. I continue to be amazed at how many Christian guys are involved in pornography and how many Christian wives just don't have relations with their husbands. It's painful.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Lutheran Demise and Renewal

It was 2002 when I left OH and moved back to my beloved home in upstate NY.  It really wasn't the best of circumstances but it was gracious in so many ways.  After several months of no work, I came into the employ of Trinity Episcopal in Watertown — truly a group of people with a lot of unconditional love.  Even people who didn't like me were nice to me.

While I was there I began this blog in 2004 and some of the early posts here were related to The Episcopal Church's (TEC) crazy theological hermeneutics, their plans to ordain an unusual bishop and mine and others predictions about the demise of the TEC. There were some derisive and skeptical comments send my way about how schism would never happen.

Fast forward to today and sure enough, what was once thought to be rubbish and nonsense has now come true.  TEC has experienced great schism with a whole new Anglican body being born out of it.  And in reality we are now seeing the schism of the entire worldwide Anglican Communion, though it is not officially on paper yet.  (Just read today's report from Uganda by David Virtue)

You would think that watching what TEC has been through with expensive lawsuits and factions that other churches would want to avoid this stuff.  We're about to watch the whole ugly scenario play out all over again in the Evangelical (HA! HA! oh, you guys kill me .... who writes your stuff ... that always makes me laugh) Lutheran Church in America.

VirtueOnline: COLUMBUS, Ohio: New Church Body to be Formed for Lutherans in North America

Not only that: I thought it was just the TEC that had the wacky stories of crazy pagan liturgies and stuff.  Nope.  TEC no longer owns the market on whacked. David Virtue also reports:
"The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America recently added seven pastors who are gay, bisexual or transgender, to its clergy roster. This occurred at a Rite of Reception service.

Here are a few things you may not have heard concerning this.

During the "festival Eucharist celebrating the reception and reinstatement of pastors," the congregation recited the "Our Mother who is within us" prayer taken from the Goddess Rosary. The prayer goes like this -

"Our Mother who is within us we celebrate your many names. Your wisdom come, your will be done, unfolding from the depths within us. Each day you give us all that we need. You remind us of our limits and we let go. You support us in our power and we act in courage. For you are the dwelling place within us, the empowerment around us, and the celebration among us, now and forever. Amen"

And you thought only The Episcopal Church could be that stupid. Please readjust your spectacles."

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Genealogy, Family & Beer

Have done a lot of genealogy work over the past couple years.  A couple of important discoveries:

My great2 grandfather John A Schreck was one of the first beer truck drivers for West End Brewing, which is now Saranac-Matt Brewing in Utica.  The picture above is from this past summer when I was down in West Utica doing some surveillance work.

And secondly, I might have a little Viking in me, possibly being related to Thorfinn the Skull Splitter, who has his own Wikipedia entry and a beer named after him.  According to another person's tree, here is how I am possibly related to Thorfinn from Henry Lewis Hawley.  HLH was my great3 grandfather

Home | The Orkney Brewery

Strippers and Churches in Contrast

Here are two churches that stand in contrast:

Christian Standard: Church Ladies Spotted at Strip Clubs

Church protests strip club, and vice versa - Boing Boing

Southland Christian Church in Lexington, Kentucky sends ladies to strip clubs to serve a warm, homemade dinner to the dancers and staff, pray with them and try to meet other needs as they are able.  They have over 200 people serving five clubs once a week.  New Beginnings Church in Warsaw, OH protests strip clubs and harasses the women, though it says if the girls leave they will pay their bills and feed their families. Seriously, after you have been harassed and degraded by someone do you really want to join them?

Which church would you want to be involved with?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Isaiah 60

I was at Teen Challenge the other day down in the city. Miguel recited Isaiah 60 and a couple of Psalms from memory.  The Isaiah passage touched ... as well as Miguel's passionate recitation.  It's about God's restoration and blessing of his people.  This is what God is doing with me: restoring me.  I'm coming back with a vengeance.

Isaiah 60
[60:1] Arise, shine, for your light has come,
        and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.
     [2] For behold, darkness shall cover the earth,
        and thick darkness the peoples;
    but the LORD will arise upon you,
        and his glory will be seen upon you.
     [3] And nations shall come to your light,
        and kings to the brightness of your rising.

    [4] Lift up your eyes all around, and see;
        they all gather together, they come to you;
    your sons shall come from afar,
        and your daughters shall be carried on the hip.
     [5] Then you shall see and be radiant;
        your heart shall thrill and exult,
    because the abundance of the sea shall be turned to you,
        the wealth of the nations shall come to you.
     [6] A multitude of camels shall cover you,
        the young camels of Midian and Ephah;
        all those from Sheba shall come.
    They shall bring gold and frankincense,
        and shall bring good news, the praises of the LORD.
     [7] All the flocks of Kedar shall be gathered to you;
        the rams of Nebaioth shall minister to you;
    they shall come up with acceptance on my altar,
        and I will beautify my beautiful house.

    [8] Who are these that fly like a cloud,
        and like doves to their windows?
     [9] For the coastlands shall hope for me,
        the ships of Tarshish first,
    to bring your children from afar,
        their silver and gold with them,
    for the name of the LORD your God,
        and for the Holy One of Israel,
        because he has made you beautiful.

    [10] Foreigners shall build up your walls,
        and their kings shall minister to you;
    for in my wrath I struck you,
        but in my favor I have had mercy on you.
     [11] Your gates shall be open continually;
        day and night they shall not be shut,
    that people may bring to you the wealth of the nations,
        with their kings led in procession.
     [12] For the nation and kingdom
        that will not serve you shall perish;
        those nations shall be utterly laid waste.
     [13] The glory of Lebanon shall come to you,
        the cypress, the plane, and the pine,
    to beautify the place of my sanctuary,
        and I will make the place of my feet glorious.
     [14] The sons of those who afflicted you
        shall come bending low to you,
    and all who despised you
        shall bow down at your feet;
    they shall call you the City of the LORD,
        the Zion of the Holy One of Israel.

    [15] Whereas you have been forsaken and hated,
        with no one passing through,
    I will make you majestic forever,
        a joy from age to age.
     [16] You shall suck the milk of nations;
        you shall nurse at the breast of kings;
    and you shall know that I, the LORD, am your Savior
        and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.

    [17] Instead of bronze I will bring gold,
        and instead of iron I will bring silver;
    instead of wood, bronze,
        instead of stones, iron.
    I will make your overseers peace
        and your taskmasters righteousness.
     [18] Violence shall no more be heard in your land,
        devastation or destruction within your borders;
    you shall call your walls Salvation,
        and your gates Praise.

    [19] The sun shall be no more
        your light by day,
    nor for brightness shall the moon
        give you light;
    but the LORD will be your everlasting light,
        and your God will be your glory.
     [20] Your sun shall no more go down,
        nor your moon withdraw itself;
    for the LORD will be your everlasting light,
        and your days of mourning shall be ended.
     [21] Your people shall all be righteous;
        they shall possess the land forever,
    the branch of my planting, the work of my hands,
        that I might be glorified.
     [22] The least one shall become a clan,
        and the smallest one a mighty nation;
    I am the LORD;
        in its time I will hasten it.

Furious Love

Furious Love Official Website

I recently posted about treasure hunts and the Finger of God video by Darren Wilson.  Darren has a new video:  Furious Love.  This documentary goes to some dark places on the continent and chronicles God's overcoming power expressed through love and prayer.  This movie is available free as a torrent is only available on DVD for purchase and isn't freely available on the internet like the last one.

Furious Love Official Trailer from Wanderlust Productions on Vimeo.

Expect Some Changes Around Here ...

I start a web design class on Monday. 22 Weeks. Excited.

150 Years of Free Methodism

The Free Methodist Church is celebrating 150 years as a movement. Their promotional video is all about the word "free" and what that has and currently means for them.  The video is well done.  It's almost like an explanatory video as to why they are the Free Methodist. Oddly, there isn't any explanation as to what it means for them to be Methodist.  What a great movement of people and great thing God has done through this church.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

10 Ways the Internet Is Changing Evangelism and Missions

The following article is re-posted here without permission and in hopes of grace. Please click the following link see it's origin and other interesting articles and resources at Lausanne World Pulse.

Lausanne World Pulse - Ten Ways the Internet Is Changing Evangelism and Missions

Ten Ways the Internet Is Changing Evangelism and Missions

By John Edmiston
August 2010

There are currently 1.7 billion active Internet users; another three billion are expected to be added in the next five years. The developing world will soon go online as cell phones become smartphones and as cheap digital devices such as netbooks and e-readers proliferate. The rollout of fiber-optic cable in Africa and massive satellite communication projects will also mean that bandwidth availability and reach will increase.

Within five years, at least half the globe should be online; within fifteen years, Internet reach should be almost universal. Global proclamation will soon be within the reach of any Christian with a computer.

The changes are not only quantitative, they are also qualitative. The very nature and dynamic of Christian ministry are being fundamentally altered due to the new possibilities for relationship, connectivity, and information delivery that the Internet has brought about. The very heart of how we minister is being changed forever in at least ten significant areas.

  1. Information. The Internet is bringing an enormous amount of timely strategic information into the hands of even the smallest church or mission agency. These include religious and cultural statistics, demographics, compilations such as Operation World, and research websites such as Joshua Project, Caleb Project, and StrategicNetwork. This is allowing us to see the big picture better than ever and to drill down to the small details that affect how we implement our evangelism strategies.

  2. Ratiocination. People “think aloud” in cyberspace. The theology and practice (including ecclesiology and missiology) of most Christians is now primarily formed as a peer-to-peer online process with occasional expert input. There is less and less reference to decisions promulgated by the central governing ecclesiastical bodies of the major world religions. People do their own thinking, and they do so increasingly online through sources such as Wikipedia; out-of-copyright commentaries; and through browsing various websites, e-groups, and postings on social networks. Those ministries who wish to influence opinion need to start doing so in cyberspace, because that is where Christian opinion is now largely being formed.

  3. Exploration. People do their private, personal, and controversial thinking online. If a person wants to find out about a suspected medical matter or investigate a forbidden political opinion, they first check it out online. A Muslim wishing to find out about Christianity is not likely to ask his or her family or imam; rather, he or she will look at Christian websites. About one-quarter of all Internet users make regular queries about religious matters. They are exploring their own and other faiths. The Church needs to have an evangelistic, apologetic, and missionary presence in this new global marketplace of ideas.

  4. Collaboration. The Internet is facilitating collaboration across denominational boundaries and across national borders. Experts are now able to link up with other experts in fields such as church planting and theological education. This collaboration is making the denomination almost obsolete. Most Christian workers now operate in networks rather than in denominational silos. People are partnering with like-minded specialists in their area of interest rather than with people who totally agree with their formal belief system.

  5. Validation. People use the Internet to check things out. This applies to everything from a “too-good-to-be-true” investment scam to the local church they plan to attend when they move to a new city. One oft-quoted statistic is that eighty-five percent of young people check out a church's website before deciding whether or not to even visit that church in the first place. Churches and organizations that are easy to validate online have a huge competitive advantage. This includes having a clear statement of faith and making your ethos, programs, meeting times, address, contact information, operating principles, and finances clear and above board to the honest online enquirer.

  6. Allocation of Resources. The Internet is allowing donors, foundations, and churches to efficiently assess projects and receive applications for funding across national boundaries. Groups such as JIMI (the Joint Information Management Initiative of the WEA-MC) and the Global Missions Fund are trying to refine this process of allocation so that the ministries who are most worthy are most funded. A big part of this is having trusted mission information facilitators who regularly supply quality information in a secure format so that it can be used for resource allocation purposes.

  7. Proclamation. The gospel is being proclaimed on websites, in chat rooms, on YouTube, on cell phones, and on numerous Internet-connected devices. Evangelistic crusades are using the Internet both as a decision mechanism and as a follow-up mechanism. Organizations such as Global Media Outreach, Jesus Central, TopChretien, and GodRev specialize in purely online outreach, while many churches and organizations use the Internet as an augmentation of existing outreach strategies. The Internet is an economical means of proclamation and Internet missionaries do not need visas!

  8. Education. Online education has been a huge success and has revitalized Theological Education by Extension (TEE) and distance education. Groups such as MAF Learning technologies are working at developing highly effective Internet-based pedagogy. Many Masters and PhD programs are now partly or wholly via Internet-based distance education.

  9. Mobilization. The Internet facilitates making connections and imparting information and motivation necessary for effective mobilization of pastors, evangelists, and missionaries into the global harvest. ChristianVolunteering.org matches tens of thousands of volunteers with Christian agencies. A ministry without an online presence will soon find it very challenging to gain new recruits, since for many people, the ministry simply will “not exist.”

  10. Multiplication. The Internet brings leverage to networks and enables contacts to be made for the multiplication of house and cell churches, church-planting movements, and small TEE-based Bible colleges resourced via an Internet-based curriculum.

Many people start searching for a new church by going online, start their search for information about God online, and start forming their theology online. Missionaries deciding which organization they will serve with, or students deciding on which Bible college to attend, will use online information to narrow down their choices. The Internet is not the be-all and end-all of ministry; however, it is quickly becoming the starting point for most ministry. I used to think of the Internet as a tool for outreach, much like having your own radio program. Now I see it as an ocean in which we must sink or swim.

Pages: ALL 1 2

John Edmiston is chairman and CEO of the Asian Internet Bible Institute and www.Cybermissions.org.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Unhealthy Pastors and Seismic Shifts

Pastors are Fatter, Sicker, & more Depressed | Out of Ur | Conversations for Ministry Leaders

I'm telling ya people ... we're living on the cusp of seismic change happening in the church and this kind of unhealthiness amongst the clergy is a sign of it.  Seismic shifts are coming. Ones like Phyllis Tickle mentions that happen only every 500 years.

Maybe I'm reading a lot of the wrong things but I see a growing disillusionment with evangelicalism, a young adult exodus from church, unhealthy clergy and a lack of spiritual growth and depth.  We can't keep doing what we're doing.

On the one hand I love church planting. On the other I think new models of doing church are needed — ones that don't exist yet. And sometimes I'm afraid of planting new churches that are perpetuating something that isn't going to last. Yet we need more churches more than ever. We can't keep doing what we're doing.  Lord have mercy.

Just saw this after I posted:  A forum of articles about the future of Evangelicalism with a post from Ed Stetzer

Dr. Roger Olson is Blogging!

Dr. Roger Olson is blogging: Roger E Olson | My evangelical Arminian theological musings Dr. Olson, Professor of Theology at George W. Truett Theological Seminary of Baylor University, is a noted scholar, who writes and speaks extensively on classical Arminianism. Here is his bio.

I enjoy reading Dr. Olson's posts and listening to him speak. He is noted for being gracious and humble in his defense and presentations about Armininism. He has really helped me in my theological thinking in recent years. You can listen to an mp3 of him in my Public Folder. Look for the file "RogerOlson-Arminianism.mp3".

The classical Arminian position that Dr. Olson argues for is probably different than the Arminianism many are familiar with.  He argues for the Biblical understanding espoused by James Arminius and John Wesley which is very different than the Arminianism that is argued against by popular teachers like Driscoll, Piper and others.  It's also different than some Wesleyan, pentecostal and other modern Arminianists.

Wrestling with the issues in the Calvinism and Arminian debate has been enjoyable for me, and coming out of the closet as an Arminian has really brought me a sense of peace and confidence in my faith.  I have blogged on this previously:
Most think the central dividing issue is free will vs. predestination. That is wrong also. Roger Olson rightly points out that the difference is a fundamental shift in how the two understand who God is and His character. Dr. Olson says, "Arminianism is the belief in the universal love of God and God’s will that all be saved. That God is not willing for any to perish and that He does much to bring people to repentance and does not select some to whom He does not offer the same chance." That's why I am Arminian. It's how I understand the character of God as revealed in the Scriptures.

Also of interest:
Society of Evangelical Arminians
Classical Arminianism
Wesleyan Arminianism

Survey: Are You an Arminian and Don't Even Know It? | Society of Evangelical Arminians

Sleep, Shabbat, Spirituality

God rested on the seventh day.  Not entirely sure what that looked like for God to rest but it does appear that it involved a cessation from the creating, naming and guidance work of the previous six days. I wonder, was God rejuvenated on the Sabbath. Rest normally constitutes relaxation or leisure.  What did that look like for God?

Eventually God gave Moses the 10 Commandments, that have been passed down to us.  Of the 10, one of them says, "Observe the Sabbath and keep it holy."  He wanted his people to rest  Again, a cursory glance leaves us with questions like "How are we to observe the Sabbath?" and "What does it mean to keep it holy?" but it is pretty well understood that the Sabbath is a day of rest modeled on God's seventh day of rest.

Jesus observed the Sabbath albeit not within the generally accepted religious norms of the day, as he and his disciples brought consternation on themselves from time to time for their unorthodox observances.  But he did observe it.  He didn't do away with it.

Several years ago I thought I began to see signs in the Christian culture that the Sabbath was going to make a revival — not anymore.  Shabbat seems to be shot.  Everyone is busy — every day and in some cases, at night.  People are tired and in desperate need of rest.  Perhaps God was onto something with the Sabbath idea.

Through some personal experiences and observances of others, I'm becoming increasingly convinced that our spiritual life and ability to connect with God and His people is greatly hindered with inadequate rest.  Our ability to pray, worship, read the Scriptures and relate with those around us is deeply affected by our "restedness quotient".  A vibrant healthy spirituality involves some version of Sabbath in our lives.

I'm not entirely sure how it is to be lived.  I don't have the answers for my questions about the fourth (or third if you're Catholic) commandment yet.  But I am convinced that we must begin to seriously wrestle with the truth of God resting and commanding us to rest.  I don't think it just means taking time off from our paid job to do the work/chores/stuff around the house that needs our attention.  Nor is it to ignore those two things for us to do work in the church.

Sometimes when advising people to begin tithing, they are encouraged to begin to become faithful in something small, like 1% of their take home pay.  And then they are encouraged to increase it by a percentage point every year working their way toward 10% or more.

I wonder what it might look like in our lives to begin to devote "10%" of a day toward keeping the Sabbath holy and increasingly working toward a full day of Sabbath.  Let's begin by giving reflection to what does it mean to observe and keep the Sabbath holy, and what does it mean to profane the Sabbath?

Sleepy teens: Technology hurting sleep quality - chicagotribune.com