Archive for December, 2007

Last night we had the privilege to join Karin Berquist for her birthday. If that name doesn’t sound familiar maybe you’ll recognize the band that she sings with: Over the Rhine. Her and husband Linford Detweiler, are the very core of the group.

OTR has a strong and dedicated following to music that is written from their Christian perspective but more often gets played in bars and clubs! We attended their concert last night at the Music Mill in Indianapolis and were treated to an awesome show with front row seats! (I think the show would have been awesome from any spot in the 250 seat crowd) We also ran into a good friend from Anderson, another Anderson Road Runner, some friends of Christy’s from IWU and spotted Jon McLaughlin.

Using an upright bass, cello, ukulele, guitar, drum kit, piano, and even a cookie sheet, they provide an awesome sound that is evocative. They also have a sometime hilarious, sometimes serious, but always fun stage presence. At one point I thought the drummer was going to leap from behind the drum set into the audience, but he was only dramatically grabbing the cymbals!

You should check out some of their music. To me one of their funniest and most appropriate songs for 2007-2008 is If a Song Could be President.

If a song could be president
We’d hum on Election Day
The gospel choir would start to sway
And we’d all have a part to play

The first lady would free her hips
Pull a microphone to her lips
Break our hearts with Rhythm and Blues
Steve Earle would anchor the news

We’d vote for a melody
Pass it around on an MP3
All our best foreign policy
Would be built on harmony

If a song could be president
We’d fly a jukebox to the moon
All our founding fathers’ 45’s
Lightnin’ Hopkins and Patsy Cline
If a song could be president

If a song could be president
We could all add another verse
Life would teach us to rehearse
Till we found a key change

Break out of this minor key
Half-truths and hypocrisy
We wouldn’t need an underachiever-in-chief
If a song could be president

We’d make Neil Young a Senator
Even though he came from Canada
Emmylou would be Ambassador
World leaders would listen to her

They would show us where our country went wrong
Strum their guitars on the White House lawn
John Prine would run the FBI
All the criminals would laugh and cry
If a song could be president

Thank you Sarah for the tickets!

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I have 326 friends or is it 210 or only 40? It depends on which social networking service I log into. What is a friend in the 21st Century, or better yet who are your friends?

Webster defines a friend as “one attached to another by affection or esteem or a favored companion.” Well I definitely don’t have 326 favored companions, I am a bona fined introvert so that would be way too many friends for me to engage with.

Fortunately, for me I am able to maintain my sometimes shallow friendships under this part of the Webster definition: “one that is not hostile or one that is of the same nation, party, or group.” This is how I would characterize most of my friendships on Facebook, Myspace, and LinkedIn, respectively.

TIME Magazine recently published an article that began by saying that:

Whether you realize it or not, social networking is something you do every day. Each time you tell a friend about a good movie, bore a neighbor with pictures from your kid’s birthday party or catch up on gossip at work, you are reaching out to people you know to share ideas, experiences and information. The genius of social-networking websites such as MySpace and Facebook lies in their ability to capture the essence of these informal exchanges and distill them online into an expanding matrix of searchable, linked Web pages.

The statistics are amazing almost half of Internet users or 83 million people visited Myspace or Facebook, two of the most popular social networking sites. Both sites are also bringing in millions of dollars for their founders and owners.

A local newspaper wrote an article shortly after TIME’s which explored some of the consequences of this boom.

It’s common for users to create “real” friendships out of their virtual ones. For example, one person will see another is planning to attend a concert of a band they both like and ask to go along. Before long, they’re hanging out regularly.

For members of Generation Y, this notion of broadcasting information about yourself in order to find friends is perfectly natural. One user of social networks called it “invited intrusion.”

In his 2006 book “Friendship: An Expose,” author Joseph Epstein praised the use of the telephone and e-mail to maintain friendships over distances, but said social networking sites “speak to the vast loneliness in the world.”

Some observers think the digital age is promoting relationships of greater quantity but less quality.

Jeff Bardzell, a professor at IU’s School of Informatics who teaches human-computer interaction, disagrees. As someone who uses and studies networking sites and interactive online games such as Second Life, he has used the technology to reconnect with high school friends and keep up long-distance relationships.

Rather than substituting for conventional friendships, Bardzell, 37, said digital tools are a way of maintaining “loose connections” that might otherwise wither and die.

“It’s almost like your Christmas card list. That list is much bigger than the people you regularly interact with.”

Many people using social networking tools insist that just because a friendship is virtual doesn’t mean it isn’t “real.”

I would agree that this is the high-tech version of the Christmas Card list and in some ways provides more depth.  Christmas cards might include a one or two page synopsis of the year with a couple of photos.  Social Networking sites allow real-time uploading of pictures, stories, and information that would often get left out of the letter.

Browsing through my list there are people that I never would have heard from again after high school, college, summer camp, or whatever.  This has provided a way to stay connected and have a “relationship” for the long haul.  Who knows when our paths might cross again.  A friend from college that I lost touch with lives in Minneapolis and we are going to connect when I move there. I would never have known that without Facebook.

I also use it to stay in touch with and keep tabs on what kids I work with at church are really thinking and doing. This can be good and bad! Stalking can be taken to a different, more passive level, which isn’t a good thing.  We all must understand the boundaries and realities of what we are posting.

I think this social networking craze is going to continue to grow and expand as will my friends list.  I will try and expand with it!

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I recently came across this great podcast Missionary Talks, where David Peach interviews missionaries and they talk together about their experiences overseas.

From the blog:

Missionary Talks has a three-fold purpose. Primarily it will help young people, and those considering missions, realize that missionaries are normal people fulfilling God’s will in their lives. It will also be a help to those church members who support missionaries know better how to pray for the men and women on the field. Finally, it is to be an encouragement to other missionaries as they learn about other fields of service and how God is working around the world.

I have just started listening and it has become a great addition to my podcast list. Just over a year old, podcasts are uploaded weekly and can be listed to through any mp3 player or even straight from your computer!

He also has a little section about unreached people groups on the right side column.

You can listen to a short introduction audio here (clicking the link will open a mp3).

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Christians have been urging retail outlets to put “Christ back in Christmas” and to “Remember the Reason for the Season.”  Now you can step back in rejoice in our success!!

The $15 Talking Jesus action figure is pretty much sold out at Wal-Mart according to the Consumerist. The action figure may still be available at Target, so you still have a chance to put Jesus under the tree! This action figure was first reported on by the Consumerist in October.

At that time Wal-Mart was taking a risk that the figurines would sell and it seems to have paid off!

“We sold out at Wal-Mart, and the toys are still available in a very limited supply at Target.com,” said spokesman Joshua Livingston. The company won’t restock again before Christmas.

The company who makes talking Jesus is one2believe which promotes Bible Based Toys for Children.  The company has a marketing campaign called “Battle for the Toy Box” through which they are promoting their faith-based toys to the faith community.

To me this kind of goes against the Second Commandment of not making “an idol or an image of anything in the heavens.”  I know we have taken great liberty throughout the years with that verse, so I guess we should be excited that these products sold so well in a “secular” market, since “Faith-based dolls are nothing new in Christian stores” according to an article in the Des Moines Register.

What do you think about Talking Jesus and literally putting Christ in Christmas?

Image from one2believe’s website.

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In exactly four weeks fellow Christians will begin the 15 week journey to learn what God has done and is doing around the world!

You can get involved! Last week I challenged you to invite 5 people, have you done that? Here are some other ways to get involved:

  1. Tell 5 friends about the class and direct them to www.perspectives.org or to this blog for information. Online registration is available! Accompany them the first two nights! (Registration is also the first two nights.)
  2. Volunteer to help on Monday, January 7 & 14
    • to welcome and direct people
    • to help in registration
    • to provide and serve refreshments
  3. Be part of a ministry team on a scheduled basis throughout the semester to
    • lead in worship (2-3 songs per night)
    • set up, serve, clean up refreshments (We ALL know how important this is in the evening!!!)
  4. PRAY FOR THE COURSE — STARTING TODAY!!
    • for those GOD is calling to hear and obey
    • for the Task Force to plan & prepare thoroughly, led by the Spirit
    • for speakers to be healthy, to prepare and to be anointed as they speak
    • for the host church tech people and equipment to be flexible & work seamlessly
    • for good weather and traffic every Monday night
    • pray that the enemy will be thwarted in his attempts to discourage, confuse and disrupt

Contact Diane or other task force members if you’d like more information about getting involved. Remember that Alumni are allowed to visit any week for free!

Also if you are on Facebook join our group!

Christians should not be doormats.  Too often Christians get depicted as “pushovers” or “weak” but we are not to be doormats. Lots of professional athletes help dispel this image to  a degree, but what does it really mean to make oneself meek and humble?

So Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else. Mark 10:42-44 (emphasis mine)

I know for me servant and slave are not words that I readily identify with.  Like Chris I have always read this passage and thought that to become a leader or first I must be a servant and slowly work my way up in an organization or group.  I don’t think this is completely incorrect, but Chris provided an alternate idea that really got me thinking.  In our society by being a servant and serving the needs of others we are being leaders of Christ’s kingdom, spreading His love.

Chris explains it much better than I, but basically the way we think about leadership and power is focused on the world, but when Christ thinks about leadership and power it is on a very different plane (one that we would think of as low).

Christ came to invert the world or to use the language from the message: Vertigo.  Vertigo is when our surroundings seem to whirl dizzily! Christ’s perspective can seem so different than ours that is whirls by us without ever truly understanding.

Christ was known by His love.  What are you known by? This is the famous tombstone or epitaph question. Christ doesn’t want us to be a doormat, but does want us to love others as He loved. He doesn’t want us to feel the shame that comes with being lowly but the joy that comes through loving service.

Another main point of the message was that we are called to give everything.  Many of us rationalize that when we “make it” or make our first million we’ll give a substantial amount to the church or missions.  That’s not what Christ wants, if the widow had waited to give 5 mites instead of her 2, she might never have been able to do it.  We are asked to remember that God has blessed us and we should give back to Him and honor Him now.

This point can also be hard, when your budget is tight and you are barely able to put food on the table, it makes sense that you should provide for your family’s needs before the others.  Yet, the widow “put in everything—all she had to live on” (Mark 12:41-44)

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CNN is reporting that two (so far) unrelated shootings occurred about 70 miles apart in Colorado on December 9th leaving 2 dead and several injured.

The first occurred at 12:30am at a YWAM (Youth with a Mission) training facility in a Denver suburb. A man walked into the center, asked for housing, and when told that wasn’t possible pulled a gun and shot 4 people.  Two died during surgery while the other two continue to recover. The suspect is still on the loose.

From YWAM’s Press Room (check back for updated information):

They were simply doing what they did so well: serve. Please pray for Peter and Linda Warren as they lead their staff of 127 through this tragedy, for staff and students, and the families

 

The second shooting occurred around 1pm in the parking lot at New Life Church in Colorado Springs. Associate Pastor Rob Brendle and the local police disagree on some of the specifics but several people were injured, including the suspect. The police say 3-5 were injured, the hospital hasn’t given a specific number.  The police state that no one was killed.  A pipe bomb was also found at the church. New Life was in the news in 2006 when its founder Ted Haggard resigned.  Evening services were canceled.

 

This is a sad day for these families.  Our thoughts and prayers are with them.

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