Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Why I Would Dislike a "Dislike Button"

For months FaceBook (FB) users have been bugging FB to add a "Dislike Button" and for months FB has refused to relent to their pleas.  Even a quick scan of FaceBook's official blog shows that they are not discussing it (at least in public - I'm sure that they are inside the FB headquarters).

I would never pretend to know what they are thinking at FB headquarters, but if I had to guess it would be something like this...

Adding a "Dislike Button" may seem like a good idea on the surface, but would only cause problems in the long run.  The way I see it, the purpose of a "Like Button" gives FB users a way to give props to someone or to agree with something someone says.  It's a simple, friendly way of showing support or just casual interest in a FB post, picture, video, comment or anything else you can "like".

If you add a "Dislike Button" now it becomes something completely different.

Now it becomes a "vote" and it turns everyone into a critic and every item on FB into an issue.  If Joe posts a picture of his puppy on his profile he could come back a day or so later and find out that it has a negative rating!  Add to that...now...your "Like" gets canceled out by someone else's "Dislike" and it counts for nothing...

Which brings up the big problem - give everyone the choice of  "like" AND "dislike" and it is now a rating system - that is completely different than what it is now.

I say keep the "Like Button" and forget about a "Dislike Button" - when you choose to "like" a FB post you give it your props - if you don't you didn't.  It works, but now it's not a negative exercise...

Also, remember, that in the end FaceBook is going to do what they want - I, for one, hope they just leave it alone.

P.S. 11/5/2009
Mashable posted  information about a Firefox plug-in that will give you a "dislike button".  If you read closely, it sounds like Mashable doesn't like the "dislike button" idea either... 

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

How to Get me to Follow you or Dump you on Twitter

As I was just reading Scott Williams' blog post "5 Best Twitter Tips Of All-Time" I remembered that I have wanted to share the things that I like and don't like about Twitter users (A.K.A. why I follow or dump Twitterers).  By the way, Scott's comments were excellent I just have a few more things to say about tweeting...

First of all, Scott pegged it perfectly - "Twitter is a river, not a lake", it changes how we communicate and using preexisting technologies as examples of how to use it can be dangerous.  Dip your ladle in and take what you can, make sure that what you put in it is clean, safe and usable for those downstream and don't get upset if your contribution just flows on past - it happens.

Let's get on with it...

If you want me to follow you:
  • Put a picture on your profile of you or your brand.  Also, Twitter is not so much like FaceBook where you might change your profile picture for fun - find one you like and only change it when completely necessary.  That picture is often how I know to stop and read your tweet while quickly scanning my time-line.
If you want me to dump you:
  • When I see the twitter bird I move on.  When I see one of the few dozen hot women pictures that spammers use I block it.
If you want me to follow you:
  • Fill in your profile bio.  When you write it think about what you would want to know about someone if you were deciding to follow them or not.  Who are you and what is important to you.  Indicating where you are is a plus (and not completely necessary) only if you have a descriptive bio.  
  • Give me a link to your website (if you have one) - if I'm not sure based on what I see on your time-line and bio I go there.
If you want me to dump you:
  • If you use a URL shortener for your website link consider yourself blocked.  If you can't show me where I am going when I go see your site then you must not want me to see it - gone. 
  • Tell me that you know how to get me hundreds or thousands of followers and your blocked.  I'll just say it - people like you are sucking the life out of Social Networking.
If you want me to follow you:
  • Show me that you interact with the people you currently follow.  I'm OK with one-dimensional brand Twitter accounts (I expect Jimmy John's or Confluence Coffee to mostly talk about their businesses), but when I see 25 straight posts about "herbal enhancement products" that's a quick block.
  • If you're new - do this stuff above (a good, quality picture and bio) and show me that you have started using Twitter.  Share your thoughts, add to the flood of comments about things going on and just be honest.
  • Share information that is important to you and that would be important to everyone else.  See something happening around you that's of interest - snap a picture and share it with the rest of us.  Have something to say about the current news of the day - chime in!
If you want me to dump you:
  • If you are following 1,000 people and have 2 followers that's problem.  Think about the EBay seller that has sold 1,000 items and has %50 rating - would you buy from them?  
  • I've been immersed in Twitter enough to pick out fake accounts and one of the giveaway's is seeing 15 stereotypical tweets from a new Twitterer - real Twitterers don't have a specific style!
  • When I see a pattern of tweets from you that get me thinking that the only thing you are interested in is getting traffic to your site/blog/whatever or so you might get some more followers then I get tired and will eventually dump you.
  • When you can't express yourself without spewing out fowl language then you're gone.  Do I believe and occasional curse in exclamation is a big deal - no - but, use your brain in figure out how to communicate without being offensive.
Bottom line - I really enjoy Twitter, it's where I get most of my news of the day.  I am more in tune with the world than ever - it's fun to "meet" new people with which I have things in common and when we do have things in common it's obvious over time.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Satan is alive and well and living on Facebook (too)

Yes, Satan is alive and well on earth and social networking hasn't skipped his radar...why would it? Satan is cunning and will use every method you can think of and more because he is DESPERATE.

So, when we as Christians see things like the "F**k Jesus Christ" group on FaceBook we shouldn't be surprised. In fact, we should expect such nonsense as a desperate attempt by the prince of darkness to push one more soul over the brink and away from God. We should see it for what it is and realize that HE IS LOSING!

Does that mean we can relax and let our guard down because he is losing - NO - it means that we should continue with God's good work. This includes praying for just such people as Derek Munson, Costas Katenidis and Adam Ajaja; the officers of the FaceBook group and others like them that are lost and hurting.  Jesus came to this earth and died for these three lost souls just as much as He came for you and for me.

We as a Christian community should also stop being afraid to deal with nastiness like this because we don't want to get our hands dirty even talking about such things.  When we fear such frontal attacks Satan wins the battle.  Satan will lose the war, but we Christians need to stand firm against this nonsense, defiance and blasphemy and bring it out in the light - out in the open - because, "everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed" (John 3:20).

I'm not asking you to join a new FaceBook cause asking FaceBook to delete the group - there are plenty of those and the group is still there, besides FaceBook is not the culprit.  FaceBook is just another normal, everyday thing that Satan is using in his desperation to collected broken souls.  I am asking you to make your presence known each day as Christians and show the darkness the light.

Yes, Satan is alive and well - but he will lose the war.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.  John 1:1-5

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Ignorance Isnt Bliss

Yesterday I watched an interview with the pastor of Amazing Grace Baptist Church in Canton, NC from my local NBC affiliate.  In this interview he stated that his Church is having a "book burning" on Halloween where they would be burning "satanic books".  Sounds weird...not something I would do...but, to each his own...right?


Then he started listing off some of the main items they would be burning which includes EVERY VERSION OF THE BIBLE OTHER THAN THE KING JAMES VERSION.  Yes, you heard it right, this guy and the rest of his "flock" are going to burn bibles, because they believe that the only true inspired word of God is one released in 1611 for the Church of England and commissioned by King James I.

Like I have stated here many times, I grew up in a rather conservative culture - one with tons and tons of copies of the KJV - the bible I took to college was a KJV (although, it quickly gathered dust in place of my NIV).  For many years the KJV was the only readily accessible translation of God's word and many, many people have come to know the Lord using it as their guide.  I do not believe there is anything really wrong with the KJV if you prefer it, then use it - wear the pages out - that is awesome...

However, what I do have a big problem with are people that condemn others for using anything but that version of the bible.  For me, the decision is easy, the New International Version (NIV), is accurate (over 100 scholars worked for over 10 years on it), and easy to read and understand and it has held up well over the years as a reliable bible version.  There are still very many people that prefer the KJV and I embrace them, because it is God's word.

Marc Grizzard, however, is a different story.  Not only does he prefer the KJV, he believes it is the only true interpretation of the bible and that the others are works of Satan.  Then he get's his face on the news and the next thing you know it goes "viral" and thousands of people get to hear his ignorant message.  To some non-Christians, he becomes the face of Christianity.

Mr. Grizzard, I wish you would shut up and keep you lunatic ravings to yourself and your hand-full of followers - burn your bibles and whatever else you need to keep you fire going and do it next to your Church building and be quiet.

I do have one question...did the apostles carry the Thompson Chain-Reference edition or just a simple Zondervan Study Bible in the 1st century?

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Book of Our Life

We all have at least two versions of the books of our lives...some have more than two versions. What we do with those versions says a lot about how we REALLY feel about those we show our books to.

Assuming that there are only three versions:

Version "C" is the version that shows us as we want the world to see us. Every event has a purpose and a simple, positive explanation. Every thought has meaning. Every crisis a happy ending. We are the hero, never the villain, our motives are always pure.

Version "B" is the version that shows us as we want our friends to see us. Pretty much the same as the "world version", but with a some selected weakness. The kind of weakness that only goes to prove how human and sensitive we are. It's like the answer you give your potential boss while being interviewed about your "biggest weakness" - we take a potentially negative answer and spin it so that it sounds like a strength. This version has a few missing details from the "C" version and maybe even a few accounts that are not there. We are occasionally the villain, but we have learned from our mistakes.

Version "A" is the REAL version. It is the one that we would write to God in our weakest moment - knowing that He already knows how it went so there is no reason to skip any details, no reason to spin anything. It's unabridged and uncensored. We are villain, hero, pawn, king, patsy, queen, shepherd, leader and follower...

Here's the thing about Version "A" - what you do with this version says A GREAT DEAL about who you REALLY ARE...
  • Some will never even write it. Yes, I believe that many of us will never write this book. They replace it with either Version "B" or Version "C" - yes they CALL it Version "A", but it is censored before the ink hits the page. The idea of accepting who we are - the way we are is incomprehensible...no sense in opening ourselves up to ourselves and to God.

  • Some will never share it with anyone. They may share it with God in private, but those pages will never be exposed to more than the two eyes God gave them. Their "B" version may fly off the shelves, but this version is locked away in a safe place - hidden from all.

  • Some share it with others:

    • Some share it with close friends and family - I can speak from experience here - this is dangerous...fraught with risk. But, as with other things in life, high risk has the potential for high gain. Sometimes you get a big payback and things are great!

    • Some share it with their best friend and spouse - this has some risk, but much less risk than the previous, the rewards can be great too.

    • Some share it with only their spouse - what a wonderful gift to the person you love - your soul mate. A beautiful, open, loving relationship has the book out in the open, on the table next to your bed...open. You take it with you on walks in the fall, you take it with you on drives to see the family, you take it with you when you answer the phone when the debt collector calls, you take it with you when you find out you may have cancer... You write in it and your spouse reads it and remembers and loves every word...
"The Book of Our Life" has only one real version, but may have many arrangements or abridgments. God knows the real version, but He has also read all of the abridgments - He knows what we want everyone else to read about us, He has seen all of the things we want to forget...and...HE LOVES US ANYWAY.

In fact, He loves all the versions of our book, but wants us to share the real version because He's the author (we penned it) but he wrote it and because of that it is beautiful.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Social Networking and The Church Part 1

I'm working on a proposal for managing Social Networking at my Church... I thought I would just let if fly here while I'm working... Silly me...

Communication is critical to success in life – this is nothing new. If you don’t think so, historians around the world believe that one of the greatest achievements in the last 1000 years is Gutenberg’s printing press in or around 1440. It’s interesting to realize that the one of the first things ever printed in Europe was The Bible. Communication was coming out of the “dark ages”, but no one then would have dreamed where that first book would take us.

Fast forward about 569 years and the world is very different, how we communicate has changed a great deal, but our need to communicate is stronger than ever. If there was anyone in Gutenberg’s time that thought what was happening wasn’t important they have long since been forgotten. One of the reasons that the movable printing press was so important in the course of history was that it allowed information to reach people that had no way of getting it before. Now, more common people had a chance to own a copy of God’s word or some other important communication, to read for on their own. 569 years later we take communication for granted, we don’t just like it – we expect it, we crave it and we live for it.

Gutenberg’s printing press was “bleeding edge technology” – I can only imagine those around him clamoring to find out what was next, how it worked and how they could get in on the action – just like some of us do with technology today. Technology is a word that we throw around a great deal in our society and when we do with often put the technology before the purpose behind it (“form over function”). When we do that we often get into trouble and the message get’s lost and our credibility disappears with it which then affects our effectiveness of spreading God’s word. Christ would want us to be as effective as possible with our marching orders in Matthew 28:19,10

“go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you”

using every tool available to us and using those tools in such a way as to allow us to be successful in spreading His “good news”.

Knowing this, we need to be diligent, careful and creative with the communication tools at our disposal in order to be as effective as possible in our mission to tell the world about the good news of Christ.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Jesus is Coming Soon...

"...morning or night or noon..."

Robert Emmett Winsett wrote this song and it made it's way into the "Gospel Music Hall of Fame", I grew up singing this song and pretty much know it by heart. It wasn't until I attended a Winston-Salem Church of Christ that I found it (to some) suffers from stigmatization not originally intended by it's writer.

The preacher at the Church that I attended for about 12 years (who was also an elder) all but banned this song from being led in worship - I knew this because I led it and found out pretty quickly after I was done that day. The problem with "Jesus is Coming Soon" is not the message, which I'll get to in a moment, but that it was perceived (by some) to be the "theme song" for the premillenialist movement. Soon after this I realized that I was an amillenialist and just didn't know it. The ridiculous thing about banning this song to me was that (as far as I can tell) "Jesus is Coming Soon" is an amillenial song!

In 2nd Peter 3, Peter (yeah, I know it's debatable if Peter himself wrote this book, but it is God-breathed word) addresses "The Day of the Lord" and makes if very clear that the people of that time believed that Jesus would be returning soon. I would suggest reading the entire chapter, but just to point out a couple of statements from the Holy Spirit through Peter.

"By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men." 2 Peter 3:7

"But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness. So then friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him."
2 Peter 3:13,14

Peter was reminding the Christians of his time that they needed to be ready because Jesus would come soon - possibly in their lifetime. He also states that "the day of the Lord will come like a thief..." (v.10), quickly and without warning.

Sunday, our teacher asked the class to name some things that led them to believe that the end times were approaching. The class listed a number of things that - for me - were irrelevant because Peter made it clear that the "end-times" are now - meaning when he penned the words of the Holy Spirit.

But even if you allow yourself to enter into a discussion about "end-times" it's all academic. Like many theological discussions of our time, it's interesting at best, but serves no purpose in our personal salvation. Peter says all that really matters to us..."make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him".

I love my new Church, but I get tired of this academic discussion...

Jesus IS coming soon and the reason it seems like it is taking so long to us is that "He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance" (v.9), thank the Lord for that....

Monday, July 06, 2009


As I have mentioned many times here, I was raised in what I now call the "A Capella Church of Christ" and over the last 5 years (really, more than that) I have followed God, opened my eyes and my life to a bigger world. I doubt that I could go back...

During this continuing journey I've had to face a number personal hangups about things (big and small) that I have had to decide if they were real issues or just another step towards that "bigger world". Things like "do you have to be baptized to participate in the Lord's Supper?" and other much more trivial things...

When I first started attending my new Church (Pinedale Christian Church) I was confronted with a term that I was very familiar with being used in a new way - for me. When people at Pinedale referred to the "auditorium" they often called it the "Sanctuary"...my first thought was..."how odd". I mean here is what is basically an "Instrumental-Progressive-Church of Christ-that changed their name", a Church that under the stuff that gave many of my former "pew-mates" the willies was the same - but calling thier auditorium a SANCTUARY?!? I was confused...

Why would such a little thing as a word make such a big deal to me? Well, first of all, it wasn't that big of a deal, just...confusing... Wikipedia states that a Sanctuary is "the consecrated area of a church or temple around its tabernacle or altar" - which is exactly how I understood the term. Some of you may be scratching your head right now and asking yourself what the problem is...well it's simple. All of my life, including this moment, I stongly believe that a Church building is just that...a building that a body of believers has decided to use for God's work, to promote community and regularly worship in. That building could just as easily be an old warehouse, a tent, a home, a theater or town's square. Putting any holy designation at all to the building is giving it a higher designation that it does not deserve.

When Christ came, died and rose again he brought with Him a new covenant:

For what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory. And if what was fading away came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts! 2 Corinthians 3:10,11

This new covenant discarded the old covenant that had God at a distance from us and brought Him to our homes, our streets, workplaces, parks and yes, our Church buildings, but none of these places are more holy than another. The "alter" we refer to when coming forward during our time of public worship is a place between God and His child - it can happen anywhere!

So, yes, I give a Church auditorium no special, holy distinction because it has none.


An alternate definition of "sanctuary" is "place of refuge" or "a reserved area in which birds and other animals, especially wild animals, are protected from hunting or molestation". When I think of my Church being a "sanctuary", this is what I think of..."my safe place". As a teenager and young adult, my Church family saved my life...they looked after me, loved me for me, cared for me and protected me...so, my "sanctuary" IS the Church and when I am with my brothers and sisters, especially in the building we worship in, I feel safe, protected and loved. It's the place where the rest of the world vanishes for a time and I can feel safe and closer to God.


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Things I Learned on FiveAndTwo Tour 2009

Another tour has come and gone... It all hit me last night and this morning and the exhaustion set in. The great thing for me is that unlike the other two tours with this group I didn't have a meltdown! Also, as a group, we handled a lot of things that were thrown at us and turned possible setbacks or disasters into blessings...wait, did I say WE did that? I mean God did that...we just helped a little.

If I had to come up with a theme song for this tour it would be "Nothing Ever Goes As Planned" by Styx.

Some things I learned:
1) Never bank on Atlanta traffic - I already knew this, but I must have forgotten...

2) I love my new Blackberry! Used it tons on this trip from uploading pics directly to Facebook for family and friends to see... To figuring out where we could go INSTEAD OF the Coca-Cola Museum because we were stuck in traffic for and hour and a half... To managing 29 kids' and their parents' cell numbers without paper...

3) Always give your best, even when you don't feel like it.

4) Make a "contract" with those you are visiting to share the program with so they don't change the venue AT THE LAST MINUTE outdoors with no video and a CD player that only works half the time during a heat wave.

5) Make the best of it even when you are stuck in a place you don't want to be...let God provide the increase!

6) You CAN go to "the beach" and never see the ocean.

7) Kids are gonna do stuff you told them not to do or vice versa...no reason to take it personally...

8) I LOVE hotel room air-conditioning...slept like a baby...

9) Pulling up to a restaurant with 37 people and telling them we just want to eat during an economic downturn is really easy and you end up being well taken care of...or maybe they are just nice...thanks Mellow Mushroom!

10) Yes, a teenager can eat sausage, eggs, biscuits, cookie ice-cream sandwich and a pint of Hagen Daz ice-cream for breakfast!

11) Dropping a cell phone in the sewer makes it a very expensive toy that does nothing (it wasn't me).

12) I'll do it all again next year - if the elders let us, if God provides and the kids are willing...

Thanks for a great tour!

Monday, May 04, 2009

Jury Duty

Well, tomorrow I get to participate in the great American judicial process...

Jury Duty.

I'm less than thrilled, but what are ya' gonna do? The reason I'm "less than thrilled" isn't the reason you might think. I think it would be interesting to participate in the process - but I know what will really happen...

I'll spend most of the day reading a book in a crowded room waiting for someone to tell me I can go home. Luckily, I just started a new book, so I'm good there...

Friday, May 01, 2009

Slightly out of reach

How small do you want me to be?
Weighed in the balance left lonely
So much can be said through silence
As hard as it seems
All that we need is to close to be seen

Our lives
You build your walls for me to climb
A billion walls for me to climb
You build your walls for me to climb

Travels the very nature we'll live in
Seasons to cycles children to men
Mislead and misread
Company or companion
With all of our hearts we follow our dreams
Slightly out of reach

Our lives
You build your walls for me to climb
A billion walls for me to climb
You build your walls for me to climb

Seasons to Cycles, 10 Years

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Ultimate LOTR Trivia Question

I found another, so now here is the full question and it's answer:
4/21/09 - I found another!

There are 10 actors/actresses in the LOTR Trilogy that have ties in 13 other "blockbusting" trilogies - who are they, what are the other trilogies (or more) and their roles?

Hugo Weaving (Elrond) LOTR & The Matrix (Mr. Smith)

Orlando Bloom (Legolas) LOTR & Pirates of the Carribean (Will Turner)

Ian McKellan (Gandalf) LOTR & X-Men (Eric Lehnsherr / Magneto)

John Rhys-Davies (Gimli and Treebeard) LOTR & Indiana Jones (Sallah)
** He didn't appear in "The Temple of Doom"

Christopher Lee (Saruman) LOTR & Star Wars (Count Duki / Darth Tyranus)
*** Star Wars II & III (I consider them 2 separate trilogies) - check LOTR:Return of the King EXTENDED version (to consider him in all 3)

Ian Holm (Bilbo) LOTR & the Alien Quadrilogy (Ash)
*** LOTR 1 & 3; Bilbo did not appear in "Two Towers" - He was only in "Alien", the first of the "Quadrilogy". Also interesting, is that Ian played in "Alien" with John Hurt who had just played Aragorn in the first "Lord of the Rings" movie in 1978.

Karl Urban (Eomer) LOTR & The Riddick Trilogy (Vaako) & The Bourne Trilogy (Kirill)
**** If we include Bilbo, we have to include Eomer. LOTR 2 & 3 (Eomer did not appear in "Fellowship of the Ring") - He was in "The Chronicles of Riddick" which is just barely a "trilogy" because there are 2 live action movies (including "Pitch Black") and a third amime movie that sits (chronologically) between the two.

***** He was also in "The Bourne Supremacy" which (at this point) is a trilogy. (thanks for the help on this one).

Cate Blanchett (Galadriel) LOTR & Indiana Jones (Agent Irina Spalko)
****** OK, this is gettin crazy - Cate is in all three LOTR movies and she is in the new Indiana Jones movie "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull"

Brad Dourif (Grima Wormtounge) LOTR & Alien Quadrilogy (Dr. Jonathan Gediman) & Child's Play (Charles Lee Ray/Chucky) & The Exorcist (James Veranum)
******* OK, stay with me...
Brad is a busy guy... He is in the last two LOTR movies (extended versions), Alien Resurrection, All three "Child's Play" moves and The Exorcist III...wow.

Elijah Wood (Frodo Baggins) LOTR & Back to the Future Trilogy ("The Video Game Boy)
******* Ok, Obviously, Elijah is in all three LOTR movies, he is in Back to the Future II - even though it's a small part (actually, his first). http://my.spill.com/profiles/blogs/child-actors-then-and-now

Monday, April 20, 2009

Incomplete Directions

Imagine with me...if you will...

I'm throwing a BIG BASH for everyone that I know...everyone is invited and the party is going to be awesome I want everyone to be there. This party is really important to me and it will be a uplifting and beneficial to everyone I know.

So...I send out the invitations - hundreds of them. The invitations tell about the party and how great it's gonna be, how much I want them to be there, how they will be glad that they came. It also tells them the date and time, the name of the hall and the directions to the hall...


Not exactly I tell them how to get within about half a mile from the hall, but the directions are missing the last bit - it gets them to the vicinity of the hall, but not all the way there. I figure that's good enough - I mean getting them close to the hall is better than them staying home and not going anywhere. Besides, I would confuse them with all those details - I don't want to scare them away!

Here's what happens:

1) Some of my friends read their invitation and realize the missing information, go to the phone book or better yet just hit the Internet and their favorite map site and find the specific directions themselves. They make the party without a hitch.

2) Some of my friends read their invitation and just know they'll figure it out once they get there and they do. They make the party.

3) Others take off for the party, get to the end of the directions and spend a while searching, stopping for directions, asking people on the street and just happen upon the hall by luck (maybe they just see all the cars parked around the hall and recognize my car) or the good-will of passers by. They make the party, but are confused why it was so hard to get there.

4) Others take off for the party and never make it. They wander around aimlessly, some give up - others (really wanting to make the party) spend the entire duration of the party searching... They don't make the party.

5) Others read the instructions and see something fishy and never even leave their house. They don't make the party.

My attempt to keep my potential guests from being confused or bogged down with details means that some never make it, some are smart enough to figure it out for themselves and others just eventually fall into place. Why not just give them the complete directions to start with!

Obviously, this fictional story has a real life connection... Enter the "Sinner's Prayer" (A.K.A. "A Simple Prayer", "Prayer of Repentance").

By itself, there is absolutely nothing wrong with the versions of this prayer I have read. It IS a simple prayer that recognizes Jesus as Savior, asks for forgiveness and repentance. These are all great things and a great start (just like my instructions above), but the prayer itself does not get us all the way. Some who commit themselves to Christ in such a way will read God's book (the Bible) and immediately see the missing piece, others will be shown the piece, others will eventually stumble on to it, others will never get there.

My question is this - why give a lost soul an incomplete road map to salvation when the complete directions are so easy to follow?

This is NOT about EXACTLY when we are "saved" - I realize that my belief on the subject of the exact point a person is saved is extreme to some and I don't force that understanding on others. However, even if you take the whole, "at what point are we really saved", discussion off the table "The Sinner's Prayer" is STILL incomplete. You don't have to look very hard to figure it out, start with the last instructions Christ told his disciples.

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
Matthew 28:19,20
Otherwise known as "The Great Commission", it was the last set of instructions Christ left with his disciples. Kind of like "don't forget to turn left on Main street and look for the big building with the statue in front of it!".

Another quick message from Jesus himself:

"Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned..."
Mark 16:15,16
So I just have to know - why give out incomplete directions?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

I learned something new today...

While cruising the Internet I ran across something that caught my eye and I felt a need to see what it was... It was link to Scum of the Earth Church in Denver, CO. Considering that for almost the first 4 decades of my life I thought the only "scriptural name" for a body of believers was "The Church of Christ (Romans 16:16)", seeing a name like this was at the very least...intriguing.

I mean by what mandate can they call themselves "scum of the earth" - that's not even biblical!

So, I followed the link and read about them - a group of believers that are reaching out to those that are broken - just like Christ did. They obviously have some new ideas about what Church is about and how to spread the Gospel. Almost immediately, I saw - at the very top of the web page - the scripture. The very kind of thing I have done myself - a scripture that describes their personal mission and drive...below it quoted the previously mentioned scripture. As I read I was CERTAIN that they were using some strange pseudo-translation (commentary) and I was also CERTAIN that they had used creative licence on the "scum of the earth" reference. So I pulled out my trusty NIV and here's what I read...

1 Corinthians 4:11-14

To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless. We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; when we are slandered, we answer kindly. Up to this moment we have become the scum of the earth, the refuse of the world.

I had to read it twice, then I went back and read the whole chapter. I remembered the chapter, but the part that we always focus on when studying this passage is Paul chastising Apollos and his followers. It really says scum of the earth!?!? (yeah, KJV says "filth of the earth", but I still don't do the "King's English" very well).

Reading back through the passage the part that really calls to me is this - "when we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; when we are slandered, we answer kindly". I have been called to endure much in the last few years and the way that I have responded to much of it has been a topic of debate and dismay for my friends and family. They want me to rise up and stand up for myself - to get what I am entitled, to play dirty like those around me...to stoop to their level.

Paul got it - he was (and IS) trying to tell us that you can't stoop down farther than you already are! How do you stoop down to someone else's level when you are already at the bottom - already the "scum of the earth"? Answer - you don't. You answer kindly...

Earlier in the chapter Paul says that we have no business judging others - that's God's job and God will take care of it. "It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men's hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God." 1 Cor. 4:4-5 He goes on to say "For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?" 1 Cor. 4:7 God provides - he provides everything we need including judgement for those around us...leave that to Him.

I learned something new today - don't judge a book by it's cover or a Church by it's name.

Friday, March 13, 2009


It turns out that I am somewhat of a "sandwich connoisseur" and I didn't even know it. I love all kinds of sandwiches.

Today I'm thinking about subs...this may not be very interesting, but it's what's on my mind.

For years about the (seemingly) only national chain that served decent subs was Subway and in the late 90's a group of friends and I where I used to work ate at Subway up to 3 times a week. Back then, Subway was owned by a group of doctors that wanted good food that could be good for you too. This went on for a while, but things have changed...have they ever.

We've stopped asking my youngest son where he would like to go eat if we are grabbing a bite out because he always wants to go to Subway... It reminds me of conversations between my mom and my brother and I when we were very young. We ALWAYS wanted to eat at McDonald's because...it was McDonald's! Now that I am an adult I realize what McDonald's is and where it resides in the world of cuisine. The idea behind McDonald's is that it supposed to be the same everywhere - not the best - just...very familiar...and it is. If I get a double cheeseburger in Cleveland and another in Amarillo I would expect them to taste EXACTLY THE SAME - and they (generally) do.

Subway is now the McDonald's of subs - they are everywhere and there are rarely any surprises when you eat there. However, I can also remember the growing pains that McD's went through in the late 70's and 80's. Up until then, McD's was known for good food, fast and cheap. The "cheap" part got harder and harder to do with the same quality standards and the prices went up and the menu changed. Yeah they still have hamburgers, but they aren't as big anymore... I can still remember getting a Big Mac in the 70's where the patties looked like silver dollars...

I just finished eating lunch at Subway and my experience there is indicative of that same process. 8 years ago if I had ordered a foot long BMT and attempted to eat it in one sitting I would have rolled out of the place. Today I just kept looking for the meat and wondering if there was a sub buried in all that bread. It was pathetic - what good is a $5 foot long if to get it to me at that price you have cut half the meat off of it and put the toppings on with a toothpic?

Not too long ago when they started the original "5 Dollar Foot Long" campaign I called it. I told my family to watch and that something was going to change after the campaign was over.

I called it right.

They kept the $5 fool longs, but only for their cheapest subs and then raised the prices of all the rest hoping that we would all forget how much they had originally cost before the campaign! Now it's back and here's what I see.

When this one is over - it's over - and the "cheap" subs will be priced just like the other subs. Also, the subs that used to taste so good and fill you up will leave you wanting for more. They built a sub empire that can't be maintained and it shows.

My solution?

Run, do not walk, to your nearest Jersey Mike's or Jimmy John's and never go back to the "McDonald's of subs" again. If you want McDonald's- go to McDonald's - they have had a couple decades to re-invent themselves and they did a pretty good job. Also, JM and JJ are getting to do it right from the beginning after seeing Scrubway flounder around - at least someone is learning from their mistakes...

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Too smart for your britches...

The Bible is simple.

Forget the mountains of books, articles, blogs, discussions, sermons, pamphlets and commentaries that try to "explain" it - the facts of the Bible are simple and easy to understand. Why would our God, who loves us deeply, and wants all of us to succeed make His word hard to understand?

The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9

I believe that if you talked to any child that has been taught about God and knows the stories from the Bible they can easily tell you how simple God's message is; God loves us, we should love Him and we should do what He says...

As we mature in our faith we learn to understand HOW we do that and start developing a sense of boundaries (WHERE God wants us) and WHAT we need to do. Then we start analyzing the word, trying to find that nugget of information that will get us closer in our understand of the God we love. This is awesome and worthy of our time and God is worth the effort.

Sometimes we get too smart for our own britches...

After living on this earth for over 4 decades ONE of the things I've learned is this:

Just because something is right
does not make it IMPORTANT.

Here's an easy one. We know that Jesus washed the disciples feet and we know that it was a powerful statement of how he wanted us to treat each other. However, I have never washed my brother's feet, nor has a brother washed mine. Why? Because we understand what that meant and that He was not telling us to specifically wash the feet of those around us, but to attend to their most basic needs. That there is nothing we shouldn't do for our fellow man. That one is easy...

This Sunday in our bible class we were talking about Joseph and the teacher took us off on a tangent that was more confusing than anything. IMHO, it was an attempt to look smart or at the very least just ill-advised.

Through a series of true statements and bible concepts the teacher showed that you could exchange the word testify for prophesy. That prophesying was simply bringing a specific message from the bible to someone that needs that message. It happens all the time...no doubt.

However, he muddied the lines between being a "prophet" and (as he described it) "prophesying". Christianity runs into this problem all the time...SEMANTICS.

You say "prophet" and I think Jeremiah, Abraham, John the Baptist, Jesus. Others (some who claim to be "Christian", others who do not) in our world think Jesus, Joseph Smith, Muhammad, Ellen G, White, Benny Hinn. Any responsible, mature Christian understands the rift between true biblical representations and the world view of "Christianity". Sunday, our teacher made it easy for less mature Christians and non-Christians in the class to make an erroneous connection between prophets declared by God in His word to "modern-day" prophets. I know that he did not tell the class that we have prophets today, but here is my question:

What USEFUL purpose is served by introducing such an extremely loaded word such as "prophesying" to our class when we already understand the concept and call it testifying or ministering.

My answer...none...other than to make yourself look smart or cause confusion. Leave such theological discussions for your trip to Starbucks with other mature Christians.
"...Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit." 2 Corinthians 3:7-18