How cool is it, that when God gives us a different kind of precipitation for the coldest, darkest part of the year, He gives us one that reflects and distributes the little light we have left? I like the beauty of winter, but i have a hard time getting used to the cold. I'm pretty sure cold weather is part of the curse on the earth, but a couple of weeks ago i noticed something new about it. I was walking my dog before dawn and realized that it was a lot lighter outside than it usually was that time of day because of the snow. Starlight, moonlight, streetlights, and sunlight all result in a brighter landscape when snow is present. Could it really be a coincidence that winter precipitation makes the most of limited light? I guess it could be, but i doubt it. God's little mercies amaze me.
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Thursday, December 06, 2007
Last night i watched Kid Nation for the first time. I only caught the second half of the episode, but it was pretty interesting. The kids had to work together to complete challenges, and it was a lot like survivor except there were no alliances being forged because no one was getting voted off. Instead, the climax of the show was watching the council of older kids chose one town member to honor with a real (large and solid) gold star.
Anyway, the part i wanted to blog about was a comment one kid made at the end of the episode. Apparently they're nearing the end of the experiment, and all the kids were sitting around a campfire talking about their experiences so far. One boy made the statement that "I was never accepted before i came here." I haven't seen enough of the show to know for sure, but it seems like what has happened is that the producers have created an environment of real competition (not just grading kids on their performance, but providing real rewards when they succeed and withholding them when they don't), along with real teamwork (the kids have to figure out how to work together to win the rewards), which means: every kid is needed. Which means: every kid has a chance to earn acceptance by having a good attitude and working hard to help.
I think needing someone is one of the most natural forms of acceptance we have. It's not forced, so it's not hard to show or to receive. All of us will put up with a lot more of what we don't like in a person when we need that person, because then we recognize their value. All of this makes me think that part of what we lack in churches and youth groups is that we don't need each other enough. Among adults - that's probably because we don't have big enough goals that we're trying to reach together, so we really don't find ourselves needing each other. In youth ministries (like mine) i suspect the problem is that we don't depend on our teens enough. We don't give them enough responsibility in carrying out Christ's mission, and we don't hold them accountable for their work. When we don't need them and they don't need each other, its a lot harder for us to truly accept each other, because we don't appreciate each other's value.
Teens can be unreliable, but they can tell where they're needed and where they aren't - and the people who need them get their greatest commitment and effort. Not to mention, isn't part of discipleship helping people to understand that they are needed in God's kingdom, and that we all (including God) are depending on them to help with its work?
P.S. There's an excellent article about trusting God and how it relates to trusting our teenagers in this month's e-newsletter from NNYM.
Monday, November 19, 2007
This weekend our youth ministry held its first lock-in on-site at the church. On Friday i expected the next 72 hours of my life to be some of the busiest and most stressful i'd ever experienced. I had to finish getting ready for the lock-in that day, try to stay awake and clear-minded throughout the event that night, grab some sleep the next morning, attend a friend's wedding on saturday afternoon and evening, spend the rest of the evening cleaning up for the weekend, put the finishing touches on my sunday school lesson that night, try to get some more sleep, teach, worship, prepare another lesson, teach, come home and try to relax, try to get a good night's sleep, try to take a day off on monday, and then start the week all over again on tuesday.
It's now monday evening, and it's amazing how differently the weekend turned out. The lock-in went really well for about 3 hours, and then had to be ended early due to sewer problems. This meant that we got to accomplish most of what we had hoped to with the lock-in (i.e. connecting with the teens in the community), but with the added bonus of getting to go home and go to sleep early. The massive amount of clean up that was going to be required resulted in us skipping the wedding. Even though we spent most of the day at the church, it was a lot of fun (for me) because it meant hanging out with people and doing work that wasn't too difficult. The sewer still wasn't fixed by saturday night so Sunday school and youth group both got cancelled. This meant that i didn't have to work on any lessons on saturday, and that i'll have a lot less work to do this week since i've got two lessons half-ready that i wasn't able to use this weekend. Which means that i'll actually get to take a few days off for thanksgiving this week, which i wasn't sure i was going to be able to do.
It's just amazing to me how God can do things so incredibly unexpected. We never know what's getting ready to happen. I'm not sure that God allowed the sewers to back up to make things easier on me and some other people in the church (and maybe its sheer arrogance that i even think it's a possibility), but it just reminds me that we never know what God is going to do. Which means that no situation is impossible, because even when it look like something has to happen, it might not (think Red Sea). And when we worry, we never know if what we're worried about is even going to happen. Same thing with fear. Life is just predictable enough to get us in the habit of predicting it though, and i guess i need to always remember that anything could happen at any moment.
Ok, i take it back. I just couldn't bring myself to feel good about starting a blog series whining about commercials. Any way i cut it it's still complaining, and i think if Jesus had a blog He wouldn't spend His time griping about commercials that disrespected him. Of course, he would have needed a blog and a television, or else he wouldn't have any commercials to complain about. Unless he went to a friend's house.
So if you are an executive or a marketing professional, I politely request that you respect the essence of Christmas in your holiday advertising. But beyond that, i don't think there's anything constructive i can say.
Sunday, November 18, 2007
I'm going to try to do this one lovingly, without spite or bitterness, but i think i'm still going to do it. Tis the season of one of my pet peeves - really lame Christmas commercials, and i plan to chronicle this year's crop here. For me, it's the ones that have nothing of Christmas left in them. My favorite from last year: "Happy Honda Days." This year's first installment: "Happy Holi-duh" (Hundai's new favorite word is "duh.")
For some reason i don't mind companies using Christmas to sell their product, as long as they leave some shard of the real thing intact. Something about love, or families, or giving, miracles, anything. Just more than a choir singing "duh duh duh duh duh, duh duh, duh, duh." This is a day that celebrates an event held sacred by about a third of the world's population. Can we show it a little respect, please?
Thursday, November 15, 2007
The other day one of my teens alerted me to the fact that Jesus now has a Myspace page. Or He has at least one of them. It wouldn't surprise me if there were several of them out there. The one she found was created by someone who won't reveal their own identity, but they state in a blog post that they made the page so people could add Jesus as a friend. Its actually kind of a cool page, with a couple of quotes of Jesus from the gospels under the "about me" section. (You can see the page here.)
It seems like he or she has a pretty solid Biblical understanding of who Jesus is and is trying to represent Him accurately, so i added "Jesus" to my friends list. I'm not entirely sure whether this is a meaningful way of acknowledging (and promoting) my Savior on my page, or if having Jesus on my friends list will just cheapen Him and annoy the people who visit my site. But, the first option seems more likely, so I've made him my "top friend." I'd imagine some people will roll their eyes and think I'm being excessively churchy, but isn't that the same reaction we always get whenever our faith causes us to stick out?
Anyway, I'm curious to see what other Christians on Myspace will do. What would you do?
Friday, November 09, 2007
Today i got a blog post in my email that linked to another blog post, and together the two of them gave one interesting piece of advice - how to steer an interview in the direction you want it to go even when you can't choose the questions you'll be asked. Both posts are by Penelope Trunk, and the first one tells what talking points are, and the second one explains better how to use them.The quote i found most interesting was this:
When President Bush walks into a press conference, he doesn’t worry what journalists are going to ask him because he already has the answers he’s going to provide — no matter what the questions are. Such answers are called talking points.Her main emphasis is that this is a good tool in job interviews, but it seems like it would be really useful for youth ministers in a lot of situations - anywhere that we want to present ourselves well and get our message across clearly, like when someone is asking us why a particular ministry is worth the time/money/effort/mess/hassle/noise.
Politicians want to frame an issue, so they listen to a question and then decide which of their talking points they’ll use to answer that question. In this way, each question they’re asked is an opportunity to get their own points across.
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
I got this update from Tim Schmoyer's blog and thought some of you may be interested:
Tonight I’m teaching a seminar for my youth group parents on teen Internet hangouts like Facebook, World of Warcraft, YouTube and some upcoming sites to be aware of. In order to help equip others who are interested in learning more about this, we’ll also have a live video feed online where you can watch the seminar and even interact through the adjoining chat room. It all starts at 7:00PM central time. If you’d like more information about what we’ll cover in the seminar, check out my previous blog post about it.
Watch the video feed using this direct link to the video feed or the embeded stream below.
Some things take entirely too long.
Every month i put together a few excerpts from articles on the internet that i think would be educational for our youth ministry's adult leaders. Whether due to the difficulty of the task or just my perfectionism, the time it took to compile the last one seemed to far exceeded the good that will be done by them reading it. So, since i can't go back and invest less time in it, i figure the only thing to do is make it available for more people so maybe it will do more good and come closer to justifying the time spent. So i'm posting it here for your enjoyment and (hopefully) education:
Youth Culture notes – 11/4/07
Maine middle school to offer birth control - updated 10:27 a.m. EDT, Thu October 18, 2007
PORTLAND, Maine (AP) -- After an outbreak of pregnancies among middle school girls, education officials in this city have decided to allow a school health center to make birth control pills available to girls as young as 11.
King Middle School will become the first middle school in Maine to make a full range of contraception available, including birth control pills and patches. Condoms have been available at King's health center since 2000.
Students need parental permission to access the school's health center. But treatment is confidential under state law, which allows the students to decide whether to inform their parents about the services they receive.
There are no national figures on how many middle schools provide such services. Most middle schoolers range in age from 11 to 13.
"It's very rare that middle schools do this," said Divya Mohan, a spokeswoman for the National Assembly on School-Based Health Care. [. . . .]
Supporters said a small number of students at King are sexually active, but they need better access to birth control.
"This isn't encouraging kids to have sex. This is about the kids who are engaging in sexually activity," Richard Veilleux said.
The Teen Film Revolution
by Troy Lanier and Clay Nichols
[The producer] leans over the director’s shoulder “Two more takes. Period.” The director rolls her eyes and walks over to the lead actor. He’s well-known with the crew for his stage work, but in this scene his gestures are about to knock the camera over. The DP takes the bounce board out of a grip’s hands and puts the light where he wants it: “Right here, okay?” The grip looks sheepish, stepping back in to take the board.
It’s a pretty typical set for an independent short. Except that none of the players here are over the age of 18.
Not that teens making movies is big news. Lately, however, they’ve been growing more ambitious. They don’t just want to make a funny home movie. They want to make a real movie.
Festivals, summer camps, schools and non- and for-profit organizations promising to support the work of teen moviemakers have mushroomed. Moviemaking is finding its way into high schools, too. While it hasn’t replaced the school play just yet, some programs put up a good fight.
Kids used to save up to buy a car. Today, at least one kid on the block saves up to help his parents with the camera. Many parents will plunk down the change themselves, assuming that moviemaking has to be more constructive than, well, almost anything else teens do. Maybe it will even get them into college. Austin senior Carleton Ranney, labeled a “Moviemaker to Watch” by the movie-savvy Austin Chronicle, won the gamble. He will be attending the School of Visual Arts in New York City and majoring in film.
Many festival directors have observed that the top tier student films are improving, too. Although most kids can’t afford a boom pole or shotgun mic, they are paying close attention to sound and light, taking their cameras off auto mode.
Many adults fret that reading is on the decline while media consumption is up. Perhaps there is some consolation in the increasing levels of media literacy expressed by these young moviemakers. They are experimenting with a new digitized visual language and are finding their own voices. They may be just a bunch of kids fooling around—or they may just be revolutionizing the industry. MM
A Consumer’s Spot for Apple Grows Up - October 31, 2007
By STUART ELLIOTT
THE idea that you do not have to be a professional to create a good commercial is becoming widespread, in a trend known as consumer-generated content. Leave it to Apple to — paraphrasing the company’s old slogan a bit — think differently.
A television commercial for the new iPod Touch from Apple, which began running on Sunday, was created by the longtime Apple agency TBWA/Chiat/Day. But it is based on a commercial that an 18-year-old student in Britain — an Apple devotee named Nick Haley, who says he got his first Macintosh when he was 3 — created on his own one day last month.
Late last week, Mr. Haley’s spot had been viewed 2,131 times on youtube.com. Among the viewers, Apple executives said, were marketing employees at Apple in Cupertino, Calif., who asked staff members on the Apple account at TBWA/Chiat/Day to get in touch with Mr. Haley about producing a professional version of the commercial (which, truth be told, had the same look and feel as many of Apple’s other ads).
He traveled to Los Angeles in October, in his first visit to the United States, to work on a broadcast-ready version of his spot with creative executives at TBWA/Chiat/Day.
Consumers creating commercials “is part of this brave new world we live in,” said Lee Clow, chairman and chief creative officer at TBWA Worldwide.
“It’s an exciting new format for brands to communicate with their audiences,” Mr. Clow said. “People’s relationship with a brand is becoming a dialogue, not a monologue.”
Joy's Summary of “User-generated content”
OK, I couldn't find a satisfactory explanation of this on the web to quote, but basically “UGC” is anything that the consumer produces that helps sell the product. This ranges from customers making commercials, to people designing their own Myspace page (which Myspace makes money off of by placing ads), to people uploading their own videos of products on those products' webpages, to portions of a site's content being submitted by users (ie Amazon book reviews & tags). It's apparently a huge buzzword in marketing and is being used by all sorts of product brands, websites, and TV channels.
It's not exclusively used when targeting teens, but when it is, the idea is that young people will be more likely to watch content created by other young people, and that the excitement of having their own content displayed will encourage brand loyalty as well as word-of-mouth advertising.
P.S. after i wrote this i saw Tim Schmoyer's blog post with his notes from a lecture by Walt Mueller about the way teens are marketed to, it contains some revealing information about why brand loyalty is so important for companies to establish - you can check it out here.
Monday, November 05, 2007
I don't know if larger churches have an easier time with this one, but at least in my experience with smaller churches there is always an issue of how picky to be when choosing volunteers - especially in the music ministry. Alan Nelson wrote a post at Rev.org about this - it's not really long and i'd appreciate more examples, but it offers some good ideas. Check it out here.
Posted by Joy on Monday, November 05, 2007
Saturday, November 03, 2007
Last night i had a dream. Actually it would have been this morning between 5:30 (when Phil got up to take Kodiak out) and whenever Phil and i finally woke up. It was really long and centered around my vain hunt to find the perfect new purse. The purse part wasn't really surprising, i've been thinking about buying a new one, and the way i took forever to make a decision in the dream is only a slightly exaggerated version of what would have happened in real life. But the thing that surprised me this morning as i woke up was all the extra details: the conversation of the two guys who were sitting in the purse section at KB toys and discussing how someone they knew had stolen a car and were now selling it; and the details of the Bible commentary video that came with one of the purses. Both of these were so original. Neither is entirely surprising - i had seen a car for sale yesterday, and if you were going to try to sell me a purse throwing in a Bible commentary would possibly be a good move, but the dialogue and the images in both situations were truly original. It really surprised me to think about the creative potential of my unconscious mind - that it could write script for an original composition and compose new images. One of the birds in the Bible commentary video was something that, as far as i know, I've never seen before. It had an unusual beak and that was part of what the commentator was talking about. And that was only one element of the video. My mind drew on elements present in it but created something truly new - the video, the conversation, the design of the purses.
I don't think you could claim that my dream was formed without intelligence. The pieces didn't just fall together at random - they were assembled. The conversation and monologue made sense. It just amazed me that my mind had such abilities, even when running on autopilot.
Last weekend i gave a short presentation on creation and the problems of evolutionary theory to some teenagers at a retreat, and one of the points on my notes was that the physical brain doesn't create or house the mind. Supposedly, even if evolution could explain where the brain came from, it can't explain the mind because the mind isn't something physical and therefore couldn't have been formed by anything in the physical world. I don't know enough about neuroscience to be able to verify that for myself, but either way, i don't think the mind could have been formed without intelligence. The fact that it is intelligent, that it can take disconnected elements and put them together to create something both new and meaningful, tells me that undirected, natural processes and random chance could not have put it together. Think about it, random forces couldn't have created my dream. Its obvious my mind knew what it was doing - it understood how to form language and it knew what were normal patterns of behavior for the characters. It knew that it would take me forever to find a purse. If something as common and comparatively simple as a dream obviously required intelligence, wouldn't the formation of something as complicated and capable as a mind require intelligence as well?
Posted by Joy on Saturday, November 03, 2007
Thursday, October 25, 2007
About an hour ago I was reading this weeks YS update and was literally flailing with glee when i saw the information about this year's CORE training. I wasn't expecting it so soon but i'm really excited. I love these events because they're not very expensive and the one-day local format cuts out a lot of travel and lodging costs that you face with other events. Pretty much all we have to buy besides registration is a little gas and lunch. I recommend it for anyone who works with teens (even if its not in a church), and i think its especially fit for people in small ministries where funding is limited. Seriously, registration is about $55 - less if you sign up early. Even many tiny churches could afford to send their youth volunteer to that.
Anyway, this year's title is "Generation Change: Calling Students to Change Their World." Last year i brought my pastor, my volunteers, and a friend who is a nurse and works with adolescents. This year I'm considering inviting my teens' parents as well. Not being a parent myself, or nearly as old as any of them, this is one of the few ways i could provide growth opportunities for them.
Their website is http://core.go.youthspecialties.com/. Maybe I'll see you there :)
Posted by Joy on Thursday, October 25, 2007
Saturday, October 20, 2007
I don't know how much of it is to our credit, but part of what i hoped for has happened in regards to Mynamar/Burma.
- from http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20071020/ap_on_re_as/myanmar
"Bush announced Friday that Washington would expand sanctions imposed last month to punish the military-run government and its backers for the crackdown on pro-democracy protesters.
"Bush ordered the Treasury Department to freeze the U.S. assets of additional members of Myanmar's ruling junta, and tightened controls on American exports to the country. He also urged China andto do more to pressure the government of neighboring Myanmar, also known as Burma."
- from http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/7046267.stmJapan adds to pressure on Burma
Japan is halting $4.7m (£2.3m) in funding for a human resources centre in Burma, as economic pressure mounts on the military government there.
The move follows the death of a Japan's journalist during the Burmese military's bloody suppression of anti-government protests last month.
It reflected Japan's "strong concerns" over the situation, a minister said.
On Monday, the EU upped sanctions on Burma and the US urged "consequential" action against its leaders.
Japan is a leading aid donor to Burma and has been criticised in the past for failing to take a harder line against the military government.
The funding, promised in 2005, was to have been used for a centre at Rangoon University, where courses in economics, management and Japanese would have been taught.
But the shooting of video journalist Kenji Nagai, 50, sparked outrage in Japan and has led to a tougher position.
''Japan has to show its stance and we can't effectively be supporting the military junta at this point in time,'' said Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura.
The funding represented about one sixth of Japan's annual aid to Burma.
But Japan stopped short of ending all aid and remains one of the military junta's significant trading partners - leaving it unclear exactly what effect the cancellation might have.
I don't know how many of you signed a petition, e-mailed diplomats, or encouraged others to do so (if you did I'd love to know), and i don't know if I or any of you reading this made any difference in the outcome. But we might have :) We'll never know if it would have been any different without us, but we know we didn't sit still.
I really hope things get cleared up over there. It would be so cool to look back in a year or two and see that the crisis was resolved and the people of Mynamar now have freedom and stability. If you haven't done anything to help yet, I have the link to one petition and two diplomats' email addresses here. And if you know of any other petitions out there, let me know.
Posted by Joy on Saturday, October 20, 2007
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
One of the reasons i haven't been blogging as much recently is that most of the really good information i come across seems to make it into a bunch of other blogs, so there's no point reposting it here. But i got an e-mail yesterday with some things i hadn't heard before - things that also couldn't be reposted too often.
I don't know how much you've heard about the crisis in Burma right now, but all I had heard until yesterday was neutral news reports of monks protesting and the government fighting back. But then I got an e-mail from an organization I trust called World Hope with some more information. I discovered that the Burmese government is truly oppressive, Christians suffer greatly there, and the protesters need to be supported by the global community. I'm frustrated that the news networks describe the conflict in vague terms and leave people with no sense of what the conflict is over or whether it warrants international action.
The e-mail I got from world hope (which you can read here) contained links to three ways to get involved - one petition and 2 e-mail addresses to write. I did all three, and I'm copying them here for you to use if this makes sense to you. The petition link also contains more information about the conflict. Also, if you have a blog, please consider re-posting this for your readers. Wouldn't it be great to know that you were a part of the global outcry that helped liberate an oppressed people?
- Avaaz: People power can win this. Burma's powerful sponsor China can halt the crackdown if it believes that its international reputation and the 2008 Olympics in Beijing depend on it. To convince the Chinese government and other key countries to intervene, Avaaz is launching a major global and Asian ad campaign including full page ads in the Financial Times and other newspapers to deliver its message. Avaaz needs 1 million voices to be the global roar that will get China's attention. Visit www.avaaz.org/en/stand_with_burma/t.php to sign the petition.
- You can email the EU President Luís Amado to strengthen the EU position on Burma at http://burmacampaign.org.uk/eu_action.html.
- You can also send an email to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon at firstname.lastname@example.org, urging him to coordinate a strong response to Burmese repression at the UN Security Council and reminding him that waiting, as the UN did in Darfur and Rwanda, could cause untold suffering.
Posted by Joy on Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Monday, September 17, 2007
Recently i got this article in my inbox about in-flight movies on planes. If you fly you've probably experienced 2 kinds of in-flight entertainment: the kind where everybody gets to choose what movie they want to watch on their own small screen mounted to the seat in front of them, and the kind where several screens are placed throughout the plane and everyone gets to watch the same movies, which are chosen by the airline. Apparently, some airlines have made the choice to show barely-edited versions of R-rated movies on planes with the latter entertainment system, regardless of the fact that these screens are perfectly in view of the children on the planes, all the way down to preschoolers. The article argues that the passengers are basically a captive audience - adults can choose to close their eyes but parents can't control what is shown to their children. So someone's written a petition, and i signed it, and maybe you would like to too. For more information about the petition or to sign, click here.
Posted by Joy on Monday, September 17, 2007
Friday, September 14, 2007
Ok, I'm not sure whether they're really trying to attract billionaires to their cell phones or if they just thought it'd be so hilarious that more normal people would pay attention to their ads, but Sprint appears to be actually selling a phone and throwing in a private island. Of course, that way the phone costs 10.5 million dollars. I don't know enough about the web to get the video to show up here but the link to it is here.
Posted by Joy on Friday, September 14, 2007
Friday, September 07, 2007
Check out this blog post about how a focus on excellence can get overdone. It's short and sweet, just like this one :)
Posted by Joy on Friday, September 07, 2007
Wednesday, September 05, 2007
If you're a young youth worker like me, you've probably struggled with the tension between doing big events vs. small group, relational ministry. I just got a link to a great article by Grant English that dissolves the tension and makes the whole thing seem oh-so-simple. In a really believable way. Check it out: It’s a Both-And Thing, The False Dichotomy between Events and Relationships
I got the link to this in the Youth Specialties weekly e-mail update, you can sign up for it here.
Posted by Joy on Wednesday, September 05, 2007
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Ok, so thanks to Brooke, I've now discovered Feedblitz. Actually, i knew about it, but i didn't know much. I knew that i could use it to subscribe to some blogs by e-mail, but i didn't know i could subscribe to any blog (and nearly any website) for free, and i didn't know that i could add it to my site for free, either. I assumed the blogs had to pay for it. So now if you scroll down to the bottom of the page you'll see a link where you can add your e-mail address and get new posts that way, and if you go to their website you can sign up for e-mail updates for just about anything else, too, like you're local paper's web updates. I have a feeling my inbox is about to get a lot busier.
Posted by Joy on Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Today i got this article in my e-mail about negotiating, claiming that to get what you want you have to start by asking for something else, instead of being completely direct. The author gives a convincing argument, and it does seem to make sense that sometimes we scare people off when we tell them what we really want up front. So i wonder how this might apply to church work. My first thought was with approaching potential volunteers - is it better to tell them up front what we hope they'll sign up for, and all of the accompanying expectations? Or do we get farther by starting small - like getting them involved in small capacities before trying to sign them up for the jobs with high expectations, or like talking in general terms about the job and then, laying out all the details a few conversations later when they're really interested?
I guess neither of these really counts as asking for one thing in hopes of getting another, more like asking for something but not describing it fully up front. But it still raises the question - how do we as pastors best "negotiate" for what we need, especially when recruiting volunteers? Last time i was looking to fill a high-committment volunteer position i struck out twice by approaching people with the full job description and asking for a yes or no. The third time i gave most of the job description up front, but invited the person to participate in the ministy for a few weeks so he could check it out while he was trying to make a decision. The rest of the details were hammered out when he was ready to commit. So far he's the most committed volunteer i think i've ever worked with. God's hand was in it - i think he really was the right one out of the three i asked. But i also think the way i approached the previous two - unloading all the information up front in a single conversation - probably helped scare them off.
Posted by Joy on Tuesday, August 28, 2007
After re-reading my last post i realized i wasn't entirely clear. I'm looking for some html i can use on this site in the left column that will automatically update from several blogs and websites, instead of having to create separate spaces for each site. I'm not sure if i can get what i want for free, but i thought it didn't hurt to ask. Thanks!
Posted by Joy on Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Monday, August 27, 2007
Hey, if there's anyone out there who knows how to do either of these or could point me to some good information - please comment!
- I have a new cell phone now with a web browsing feature. I was able to get to this blog but couldn't really read it because the html was not designed with a cell phone in mind. Does anyone know how or where to find blogger templates that will also render well on mobile browsers?
- I'd love to do an rss feed that pulls from multiple sites at once and puts the most recent article at the top - instead of having separate rss feeds for each site i connect to here. Anybody know how to do that?
Don't be one one them next year, please :) CNN's article.
In case you haven't heard, there's some new stuff out about Mother Theresa that reveals a very different side of her than we've seen before. The headline of the TIME article is "Mother Theresa's Crisis of Faith." A new view of Mother Theresa is going to necessarily affect peoples' view of the Faith itself, so it's really worth checking out.
Saturday, August 25, 2007
Ok, for any of us who don't take the Bible seriously when it says not to complain, at least one business columnist is saying the same thing. Check it out: Five Ways to Avoid Being Overworked by Penelope Trunk.
Posted by Joy on Saturday, August 25, 2007
Friday, August 24, 2007
Today in Rick Warren's e-mail update i found a link for an article about how advertising on TV isn't as expensive as many pastors assume. I don't know if our church is ready for it, but maybe yours is. Here's the article - Church TV Commercials for a Buck. No - it's not really just a buck, but it is pretty cheap and the article isn't trying to sell you a particular service.
Posted by Joy on Friday, August 24, 2007
Thursday, August 23, 2007
Well, it appears i am now officially a victim of identity theft. Yesterday i got one of those "returned mail" messages in my inbox, but i didn't recognize the address that the message had been sent to - and when i saw the subject line i knew i hadn't sent it. I e-mailed Yahoo about it (which by the way i've loved using yahoo mail for around 7 years now), and they said it looks like someone's managed to falsify the "from" or "reply-to" section of a spam e-mail that they sent. So now it looks like i sent the message. Worse, it appears that there's nothing Yahoo can do to find out who's doing this or to stop them. So all i can do is delete all the returned messages that come to me and pray that my legitimate messages don't start getting filtered out by spam blockers.
I guess it doesn't do you much good to know this, since i don't think there's a way to prevent it, but I just wanted everyone to know that the return address on the spam you get could be that of another innocent bystander.
Posted by Joy on Thursday, August 23, 2007
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
I found an article today by a police lieutenant giving churches advice on how to respond in case of an attack by a gunman, and how to become a little more prepared for that event. It's worth taking a minute to read. I know my tendency is to almost take pride in a church with minimal security - it seems like churches should be safe places as well as places where we trust each other - instead of places where you have to go through a security checkpoint. But the question is worth asking - should we be doing more to protect our sheep?
Here's the article : Security Against Shooters
Posted by Joy on Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Friday, August 17, 2007
For some this may be an obvious concept, but many, if not most, tattoos actually have deep stories behind them, and are not the result of some short-sighted whim. Unfortunately, i think a lot of times in the church, or at least a lot of times in the past in the church, we've assumed it was always just that. There's an article about this at the Center for Parent-Youth Understanding by Paul Robertson, and i highly recommend it if you find yourself wondering why anyone would choose to put such a permanent mark on their bodies.
Posted by Joy on Friday, August 17, 2007
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
I've let a whole month slip by without blogging :( Part of the problem is that i'd rather read the really good things other people are writing than write something halfway good and put it out there. So today i compromise and post a link to something really good that someone else wrote, hopefully furthering the world of good thought without watering it down.
Today i ran across an article at Race in the Workspace titled "How to respond to a racist joke." I'm passing it along because i'm sure a lot of other Christians and church workers besides me have a genuine desire to avoid participating in racism but aren't always sure what to do. I'm not convinced that this author's approach is going to work, but it might and it certainly seems worth a try, so check it out.
Posted by Joy on Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Thursday, June 14, 2007
A. It turns black
B. It shrinks up
C. It thickens
D. It releases a thin smoke that doesn't smell really good
E. It actually retains the numbers on its surface
So much for hoping it would melt into a pretty little puddle on the tinfoil.
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Today i ran across a link for a ministry i'd never seen before, and am really excited about. It's called Friendship Ministries, and it's a nonprofit that helps churches create a program for teens and adults with mental disabilities. I've been keeping my eye out for this kind of thing for a while, and until this morning i had found very little. Probably many of you, like me, know of someone in or connected to your church who you wish you could minister to better but who just doesn't fit well into your existing programs. Not to mention the fact that if most families with special needs children are unchurched (as i heard a while back), probably most teens and adults with special needs are unchurched too. They, their families, and their caregivers would probably be very excited to find a church that had such a ministry.
I have to admit that I may never become involved with this ministry myself (although right now i really wish i could), and so it feels a little hypocritical to be plugging for them, but I know this or something like it could help a lot of churches and I had to pass it on.
Monday, June 11, 2007
For any of you who might notice, my other blog with my old sermons on it is gone. Traffic to it was dismally low, indicating that it probably wasn't doing anyone much good. Realistically, would a person in need of spiritual guidance really take the time to read one of my long sermons? And i posted to it so rarely that probably most of the people who would have benefitted from it would have lost interest between posts. And, after reading an article about the perils of sermon plagiarism, the thought of having my old sermons out there seemed even more needless.
So yeah, it's gone, in case you noticed.
Saturday, June 09, 2007
I've finally made the leap! I've been thinking for a while about adding a third collumn and RSS-ing some of my favorite blogs in it so that visitors here can quickly see what's new there. I figured something that could make my site more usefull and make people aware of some other good blogs couldn't be bad. So check out the feeds on the right, and if you have a suggestion for a good blog to add to the list feel free to tell me about it in a comment. I'm sure i'll get about three zillion suggestions but i figure it can't hurt to ask, right? Anyway, i hope this site helps connect you to what at least a few thoughtful people are saying out here on the web about life and ministry.
Just thought i'd mention that the most recent post at the Out of Ur blog is really good - it's titled "Success Covers a Multitude of Sins" It talks about how character formation is slow, so a lot of pastors avoid it because it slows them down in the pursuit of tangible outcomes from their ministries. It made a lot of sense, but my question as i read was whether inner character development and external, tangible results can or should be separated. I've thought for a long time that some "results" can be generated by human effort, but that true character transformation will always result in visible, noticeable transformation of the person, the church, and the community. So, will a focus on character transformation really slow us down in seeing results in our ministries, or will it just slow us down temporarily before resulting in even more dramatic "results"? Or are we really meaning "attendance numbers" when whe say "results"? In that case, of course "results" will come slower, but it seems to me that there'll be more fruit in the orchard, even if it's a smaller grove.
Friday, May 18, 2007
This is a post about a topic about which i am entitled to say little. The issue is Aquire the Fire and particularly their Battle Cry events. The reason i'm unqualified is because i've never attended any of them. But i am developing an opinion nonetheless, based on what i'm hearing from others who have attended, and based on what i see in their advertising. Their advertizing turns me off with its near-promises of dramatic revival if you just get your teens to the event, but it is, of course, still possible that if i took my teens there would be dramatic revival. I've never tried it. But a lot of other youth workers have and my doubtful vibes have been reinforced by their comments. Honestly, i'm not sure i've ever heard a completely positive review of Battle Cry or Aquire the Fire from a youth worker.
Anyway, for anyone who's trying to make up their own mind, or who needs to be able to quote a couple of other youth workers when defending their decision not to attend, here are some links to some blog entries that i found on this very topic, all of them (if i remember correctly) by people who have actually attended the events and know more than i do about what they're talking about.
A lot of these refer to Planet Wisdom as an alternative, which i've also never attended, and some of the youth workers i talk to personally highly reccommend Dare 2 Share, which i've also never been to. So i can't reccommend either of these either, but they might be worth checking out.
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
. . . you've discovered that "incarnational" isn't recognized by your spell-checker.
Thursday, May 03, 2007
Last week on my week off i attended my own private theology conference with Brian McLaren by immersing myself in his book and wolfing it down until finished. I wont' write an extended reveiw but it was very thought provoking in a very good way. He pushes the edges of what many conservative Christians (like myself) believe, but he really makes you see things in a new light. If i try to start hitting the highlights i'll write far longer than i have time to because it would be so hard to do justice to . . . well i can't even really describe what he does without taking forever to do it. He makes you think. And i highly reccomend it, especially for pastors.
Ok, I hope it's not blasphemous or irreverent or immature of me, but i actually find these quite funny! I found them on exchristian.net, a profoundly anti-Christian website, so the author was most likely not "laughing with us," but i think it would do us good to see ourselves for a moment as many non-Christians see us. And i think they're hilarious!
- You vigorously deny the existence of thousands of gods claimed by other religions, but feel outraged when someone denies the existence of yours.
- You feel insulted and "dehumanized" when scientists say that people evolved from other life forms, but you have no problem with the Biblical claim that we were created from dirt.
- You laugh at polytheists, but you have no problem believing in a Triune God.
- Your face turns purple when you hear of the "atrocities" attributed to Allah, but you don't even flinch when hearing about how God/Jehovah slaughtered all the babies of Egypt in "Exodus" and ordered the elimination of entire ethnic groups in "Joshua" including women, children, animals and trees!
- You laugh at Hindu beliefs that deify humans, and Greek claims about gods sleeping with women, but you have no problem believing that the Holy Spirit impregnated Mary, who then gave birth to a man-god who got killed, came back to life and then ascended into the sky.
- You are willing to spend your life looking for little loopholes in the scientifically established age of the Earth (a few billion years), but you find nothing wrong with believing dates recorded by Bronze Age tribesmen sitting in their tents and guessing that Earth is just a few generations old.
- You believe that the entire population of this planet with the exception of those who share your beliefs (excluding of course those in all rival sects) will spend Eternity in an infinite Hell of Suffering. And yet consider your religion the most "tolerant" and "loving."
- While modern science, history, geology, biology, physics and textual scholarship fail to convince you that the Bible may be less than reliable, some idiot rolling around on the floor speaking in "tongues" is all the evidence you need to "prove" Christianity.
- You define 0.01% as a "high success rate" when it comes to answered prayers. You consider that small percentage to be evidence enough that prayer works. And you think that the remaining 99.99% FAILURE rate was simply God saying "No."
- You actually know a lot less than many atheists and agnostics do about the Bible, Christianity, and church history, but still call yourself a Christian.
Thursday, April 19, 2007
Just a note, if there are any of you out there wondering if there are any brands not affected by the pet food recall, the one i use, Chicken Soup for the Dog Lover's Soul, appears to still be safe - their website says they don't even use wheat, wheat gluten, or rice protein, so it looks like they probably won't be the next one added to the list. Their website is here, and they make cat food too. We get it at our local Market Place Pet Supplies. Good luck :)
Friday, April 13, 2007
At least since i began attending my Christian university 8 years ago, and maybe before, i've been familiar with the term "Christian worldview." It refers to a particular way of seeing the world, history, and the future, supposedly from a biblical perspective. At IWU it was presented thus: time is linear, not cyclical; the world is not inherently good or inherently bad but fallen; history will come to an end; etc. It kind of made sense to me at first, but currently i've got some doubt about the idea.
This really became clear to me yesterday as I read the press release for George Barna's latest book about parenting. In an effort to discover what kind of parenting is most likely to produce "spiritual champions," or solidly Christian young adults, he began by identifying a number of these "spiritual champions," whose upbringing he could then study. One of the criteria for these young people was the posession of a "biblical world view":
Each of these young adults possessed a "biblical worldview," based on their responses to a series of questions about their view of life. In essence, they contend that absolute moral truth exists; such truth is defined in the Bible; God is the all-knowing and all-powerful creator and ruler of the universe; faith in Jesus Christ is the only means to salvation; Satan is a real being; Jesus Christ lived a sinless life on earth; and all of the principles taught in the Bible are true and accurate. link
I thought it was worth noting that Barna's criteria didn't involve any observable behaviors other than participation in a church, such as helping the poor or being a person of integrity. That aside, the article made me wonder whether we tend to define too narrowly what it means to think like a Christian.
I wonder what it would look like for a member of a non-western culture to have a "biblical worldview." I remember watching The End of the Spear and hearing one of the primary characters, a Waodani man living in Ecuador who had accepted Christ after participating in the murder of several missionaries, talk about entering the afterlife as "jumping the great boa." Assuming that the movie didn't fictionalize this part, we have a man who has accepted Christ and understands that salvation is through Jesus, still understanding the world in the terms of the natural environment that he understands. Is his any less of a "Christian" world view? How much of our "biblical world view," with its emphasis on absolute knowlege and the approved sources of truth, really came to us from the Bible? How much of it is really from our cultural influence from the enlightenment emphasis on the aquisition of knowledge?
I guess i'm not really challenging whether a biblical world view exists, since it's clear that the Gospel will eventually change the way we see the world. But i do wonder if we've really taken the time to dialogue with Christians from other cultures about this to make sure that the litmus tests we come up with really are purely biblical and not the Bible as read by the western world.
And i also question whether it's really that important. It seems like we at times judge whether people are real christians by their posession of such a perspecitve on life, which is going far above and beyond the biblical litmus test: faith in Christ that makes a difference in the way we live. I want really badly to say that i'd rather have a Christian that fails the biblical world view litmus test but trusts Christ alone and gives sacrificially, than one that passes the test but is hard-hearted and selfish, but I guess i can't quite take it that far for fear of eventual apostasy due to poor theology in the church. But i know which Christian i'd rather try to pastor.
Tuesday, April 03, 2007
Ok, so first i had blogger. Then i got a myspace and saw that there was room for a blog on it too. I posted a little, but i really don't like having two blogs. Then i got facebook too and it's basically set up to have it's own blog as well. Well, i finally figured out that i can set up facebook to automatically import blog posts from my blogger blog! My virtual reality has become slightly more integrated :) If you're in the same predicament, just go to your "my notes" section on facebook and there will be an option to import notes from your blog if you just type in your blog address. Now if only myspace would do the same thing . . . .
Monday, March 26, 2007
It's been exactly a month since i blogged anything substantial. Ironically, i've been getting more hits these days, probably because of the frenzy of new links to my blog created by everyone posting the list of bloggers who participated in that Christian bloggers survey. The increase in people trying to read what i have to say combined with the decrease in me saying anything is frustrating. Part of it is always busyness, but i think the big thing is a problem i'm not going to be able to completely fix - it's not easy blogging as a minister. Most of what i'm passionate about, what i read about, and what i could write about has to do with ministry. Some of it is abstract enough to blog about, but a lot of it, and usually the best material, has to do with real stuff i'm facing in my ministry - my concerns, struggles, theories, and victories. And since churches and ministries are made up of people, all of these things are directly related to real people that i know - which means i've got no business airing my opinions about these things on the internet. Unless of course i was blogging anonymously, but i'm not.
One of the primary ideas behind blogging is creating a window into a person's experiences in the world - but as ministers who genuinely care about the people they interact with, not to mention being obligated to protect the confidentiality of those people, there's actually very little left of our lives that's OK to blog about.
So i guess i'd better read another book to review :)
Ok, i really don't think it means much, but it feels really cool. ReverendFun is one of the cartoons i read on the web, and i've submitted my first idea for a cartoon and they used it!! And i know i'm biased but i think it's hilarious.
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
. . . you've discovered that "unchurched" is not recognized by your spell-checker.
Monday, February 26, 2007
I wonder if the reason grace is so hard for us to accept is because we were originally designed not to need it.
It all started out so innocently. I found out about a survey of Christian bloggers and thought i'd help out by donating a few minutes of my time for the cause of research. I've been on the other side of surveys and been quite frustrated by low response rates, so i try to return surveys when i can. But now apparently i've obligated myself to post the results of the survey and the list of all the other bloggers who participated.
I guess i shouldn't complain - free material to update my blog! And i think i'm already seeing more traffic from other people who posted the link to my site, so perhaps its the least i can do :) Unfortunately, however, the link to the full results of the survey doesn't work anymore. (Guess i waited too long) The best i can do now is the results summary still available on the surveyer's blog. First is the results, then my comment about them and the researcher's reply, and then the list of participants.
By Cory Miller | February 21, 2007 |
Here are some snapshots of the survey:
- Total Number of Blogs In Survey: 367 blogs
- Most Popular Blogging Platform: Blogger with 184; WordPress was next with 77
- Length of Blogging Tenure: 122 blogging for one to six months; followed close by 121 who have been blogging one to two years
- Frequency of Posting: 175 indicated “one to 10 times a month”
- Gender: 309 were males
- Age: 136 are between 31 to 40 years old
- Ministry role: 128 respondents were “senior pastors”
Joy on February 22, 2007 6:50 am
Joy, yes, it definitely wasn’t scientific or an all-encompassing survey. We relied on the traffic from Pastors.com and this site as well as those who were gracious enough to promote it.
I’m hoping for more next year … and with your help and others … a more complete response.
Christian Blogger Survey participants
The bloggers below participated in the Christian Bloggers Survey.