Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Moralistic Therapeutic Deism

I am learning about something new -- yet, not so new.  It is the name of something which I have observed among my peers first, and also among other generations -- both older and younger than me.  It is called "moralistic therapeutic deism."  I suspect it is a prime reason for the observed current decline in the Christian churches of both this country and Europe.

The article linked here is a good place to begin understanding.  Then, it should be followed by reading this rather lengthy discussion.

If you regularly attend church, let me ask you the following question:  Have you noticed a decline in attendance?  If so, to what do you attribute that decline?

If you do not regularly attend a church, my question is this:  Why?

Please feel free to answer the questions in the comments.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Mission: Backyards and Haiti

My friend Matt is going to Haiti this summer.  His life will be changed by his service to the Haitian people.  He told me that I inspired him to go.  I am humbled.  I am praying even now for him and the other men from his church that they will touch lives, that the people there will be prepared for their coming and that their own lives will be transformed by the trip.

I just completed the book "The Radical Reformission: Reaching Out without Selling Out"
by Mark Driscoll.  It talks about the mission in our own backyard and how we are called to reach our neighbors with the message that Jesus is the only way to life.  The book talks about how we must reach people where they are -- not expect them to come to us.  We must seek them out, just as Jesus did.  We must share their life, their pain, their struggles and their fears.  We need to show them that the Bible holds the answers to their life questions.  But, it also addresses the fact that we must confront them with the truth -- in a loving way.

Life is messy.  Christians are imperfect.  Only Jesus can cure our imperfections and reach into our messy lives and show us something better.Too often we allow our imperfections to get in the way of our sharing the truth.  We show non-Christians a false front with false expectations.  We fail to confront humanity with our own human frailty.

Jesus didn't shy away from those who were struggling with life's issues.  Instead, he sought them out where they lived.  He ate and drank with them.  He crossed cultural and racial barriers without hesitation.  He touched the untouchable.

We see in Jesus a willingness to confront the wealthy, the political and church leaders, the thieves and the liars with the truth.  He did so with the goal of showing them the way to life.  He didn't hide within the confines of his comfortable existence with those "like" him -- instead, he went to people of all stations.

In his book, Driscoll points to Jesus as the example we should follow.  He doesn't point to the church -- but to Jesus.  I highly recommend the book for anyone serious about the Christian faith.

Matt, I pray for you as you prepare to face the messiness that is Haiti.  Hold fast my friend.

"Then Jesus came to them and said, 'All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.  And surely I am with you always, even to the end of the age.'" __ Matthew 28:18-20

Random Note

It is amazing to me sometimes to suddenly realize how quickly time is flying by.  This blog reminds me frequently because of the amount of time that passes between posts.  I might think that I "just" posted something only to realize that it has been several days -- or weeks -- since the last post.

I am in Kentucky this week.  It is beautiful and green and a bit cooler than I expected.  I packed short-sleeved shirts.....

I know that I should post something profound but that is beyond me.  Instead, I'll post a link from USA Today.

http://www.usatoday.com/news/religion/2010-04-27-1Amillfaith27_ST_N.htm

Friday, April 23, 2010

Techno-dependency

I have become outrageously dependent on my Blackberry.  It is my mobile office.  That has become painfully clear to me because the e-mail has not been feeding to it correctly this week.  I don't know if it is a problem with the local cell provider or something bigger -- like a problem at ATT.

Normally, I am "buzzed" throughout the day by a steady stream of electronic communications hitting my Blackberry which is perpetually in "vibrate" mode.  Some of them are newsletters and things of that nature, but many of them are e-mails that keep me informed about what is going on within the company that I manage.  Yes, I use my Blackberry as a key piece of my management communications.

I get brief e-mails from personnel making sales calls, or if something out of the ordinary occurs at one of our seven locations.  I also receive frequent e-mails from key suppliers about various things going on in the industry.  I sometimes am involved in groups putting together meetings or other functions where coordinated activity results in frequent e-mail communication.  At certain times each day, I receive reports from each of our locations which let me know their activity for the day.

All of those things are important but, there is one that to me is critical.  I receive e-mails from many customers that expect rapid responses.  I'm not getting those in a timely fashion and therefore can't respond as quickly as I should.  To me, one of the keys to the success of our business is exceptional customer service.  When I don't get those e-mails almost immediately, I can't deliver the kind of service that they have come to expect.

Fortunately, I still carry a laptop.  I spent a good deal of time last night dealing with e-mail which normally I would have handled through the day.

I suspect this dependence on technology is not such a good thing but, it does make me more efficient when it is working!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

On the Eve of Muster

"Give me an army of West Point graduates and I'll win a battle. Give me a handful of Texas Aggies, and I'll win the war." - U.S. General George S. Patton

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Two If By Sea

Two hundred and thirty-five years ago Paul Revere made his famous midnight ride.  On this night in 1775 the British army had begun to move across the Charles River toward Lexington.  John Pulling held two lanterns aloft momentarily from the steeple of the Old North Church to let the Sons of Liberty in Lexington know that the British were crossing the river rather than taking the long way around by land.  The next morning, on the 19th of April, the battle of Concord was fought, signaling open hostilities in the war that would eventually result in the establishment of a new country on the North American continent.  That new country was founded on principles of individual liberty and limited government.

Today, we see an increasingly controlling government and the gradual erosion of individual liberty in that very same country.  The idea that one might achieve a level of happiness through personal pursuits of industry and innovation has been replaced to a large extent by one of dependency on the federal government for daily provision.  The enemy is no longer a power based on shores geographically removed, but is instead housed in halls philosophically removed by a much greater distance from the founding principles of this nation than were the halls of Parliament from the colonies.

The results of the Revolutionary War left our nation independent yet, divided in ways not dissimilar to what we see today.  At the time of the founding of our country, the divide was between those who would see a strong, centralized government and those who would prefer decentralization, with power concentrated locally or in the states.  The divide continued to grow until it ruptured in a civil war.

Perhaps our system of government can avoid a similar rupture from the current philisophical division in our country.  The system works best when the citizens become involved. 

Friday, April 16, 2010

A Fearful Disposition

Not everything that is plausible is true, for those who put forward plans for action have a psychological disposition to marshal the facts that support their position.” __ Henry Kissinger


I would add that we each have a psychological disposition to a particular “worldview” or “yardstick” by which we evaluate input. Each of us lives within a “point-of-view” shaped by our location, history, experiences, friends and family. It is difficult to truly see the “point-of-view” of another individual. We each have been shaped uniquely. That individuality is a key point of the concept of self.

This uniqueness of “worldview” presents the greatest difficulty between individuals greatly removed in each of the key shaping factors. The greater the difference in those shaping factors, the more difficult it is to find understanding.

Mr. Kissinger’s remark was made in reference to foreign policy arguments during the Nixon administration. I find particularly interesting his reference to the marshalling of facts to support a particular position. What makes this interesting to me is that when dealing with different “worldviews” we must consider that each accepts some things as “fact” that the other views as fallacy.

If we consider that some view it acceptable to lie in order to advance one’s own position, we enter into a world in which there is nothing that can be accepted at face value. We each must “prove” the “facts” offered. We also must weigh them against our personal self-interest and the “facts” that we can muster in support. The result is a world in which we can trust nothing and no one.

Is the lack of trust important? Yes, it is. Without trust there is only fear.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Who Is God?

John 3:13-17

No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven – the Son of Man. Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

So, we must ask, “What is eternal life?”

John 17:1-3

After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed:

“Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.

Now, we must ask, ”Who is God?”

He is the infinite
The almighty
The everlasting
Omniscient
Omnipotent
Omnipresent
Father of light
Creator
Sustainer
Righteous One
Beginning
End

How can we of finite mind fathom the unfathomable? How can we truly know God? We describe the infinite yet cannot grasp what we define. How can we know the unknowable?

He revealed himself to us in his Son. He reveals himself to us in his word. He makes himself known to us through his actions. He works in our lives by his love. Yet, like the wind, we only see the result of his passing. We see through a glass darkly. Faith must do the rest.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Shopping iTunes....

For Christmas I received $30 worth of gift cards to iTunes.  I thought -- no big deal.  I'll just load 'em up and buy some tunes.  I'm still shopping on that $30.

I don't know if it is because I'm too picky or what -- I have spent hours browsing songs and playing the brief snippets available to help you decide if it's what you want -- and I've only used about 1/2 of it up after all this time.  Holy Cow!  What does that say about my personality?

I like all kinds of music but there is only a small percentage of it that I would consider to be of enduring quality -- something that I want to listen to over and over again.  I don't want to just get best sellers, I want some eclectic stuff -- the ones that didn't make the Top 40 but, are still good.  I want some of the off-the-wall artists like the ones my daughter comes up with.

Then, after I've worked at it for a couple of hours and only chosen five songs, I wonder what makes it so difficult!  Oh, well, at least it generated a blog post.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Searching --- Relatively Speaking

Have you noticed the commercial on television about the person who is suffering from search engine overload?  About how they talk in snippets of information but their conversations are not cogent?  I understand the feeling.

There is an amazing wealth of information available to us on the Internet.  Weeding out the trash and finding the gems for which one is searching is a monumental task at times.  Just when I think that I've figured it out, I hit one of those frustrating times when I search and search and can't find something that should be readily available.

What, you might ask, prompted such statements?  I was searching for the date on which Einstein first introduced his Theory of Special Relativity.  The only sources that I am able to find are not especially credible.

Now, the next logical question is, why would I be looking for the date on which Enstein first introduced his Theory of Special Relativity.  Well, that was one of those search leads to question leads to search leads to question chain of events that sent me off on a tangent.  I guess it really doesn't matter anyway.  Perhaps I AM suffering from search engine overload!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Rough Transition

Spring sprung,
But winter hasn't given up yet.
Blossoms bloomed;
The freeze tonight will turn them brown.

Dust rises
As southern winds bring warmth.
Tumbleweeds roll
As northern winds bring cold.

Seasons change
But none transition smoothly.
People age
Few can do so gracefully.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Vegetating

Best of intentions
Don't get it done
Whatever IT happens to be.

I put it off
And make excuses
If it's not important to me.

Like those minor repairs
That seem to pop up
Every week or so

Or those projects I think
Would be really worthwhile
That I just seem to let go.

It makes me wonder
Why Saturday morn
Motivation seems to evaporate

While I just sit back
And accomplish nothing
Except perhaps, vegetate.
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