- Web-site IssuesIf you have tried to come to the web-site over the last several days, you might have been told it was unavailable. Of, if you were able to reach the site it was unbearably slow. The cause had to do with a data migration our web-host is running. The process was creating unintended issues for [...]
- Technology, Reflection, and EncouragementThis past Sunday I allowed Central Baptist Palmyra to preview one of the videos which will be shown at Annual Session . The video is a heart-felt, deep, and shows how ABCNJ is involved in the mission of the Gospel. The congregation thought the video was wonderful, especially the part about a giant fish , [...]
- Web-site Issues
Tag Archives: Christian
People who see me as a “computer guy” often make the assumption I am of the opinion, “Old is bad.” They are inevitably surprised this is not the case. I love Tradition. I love the connection it gives me to the long history of God’s people gathering in community and experiencing the presence of the Kingdom through worship. Tradition is, to me, a mystical connection with both the Savior and those who have followed him before I existed. Things which happen to be “old” are notbad. They may be different, but there is a richness in that different-ness which I appreciate. I do have a problem, however, with “tradition.” This is the impulse which beats questioners into submission because it fears change. Contrary to popular opinion, both Tradition and tradition will utter the phrase, “We’ve always done it that way.” The difference between the two comes out only when you ask, “Why?” Tradition will embrace the moment to draw the questioner into the story. In contrast, tradition will respond with statements like, “Why can’t you just do what you’re told?”
Of course, my Roman Catholic and Orthodox friends chuckle any time I call a 150 year old hymn “old.”
Note: If you want to follow along with the Blog Tour for this book, follow this link to the ChurchM.ag site.
Several years ago I attended presented at BibleTech 2011 and sat in on a session led by John Dyer. I was immediately impressed. John highlighted things that I wanted to briefly touch on during my session on Sermon Painting, and did a stellar job. In him I found a person of theological depth, technological skill, and rare wisdom. John clearly embraced the use of technology, but tried to do so with his eyes open. He showed an understanding f how technology changes us when we use it, and managed to offer the freedom to ask “what will this cost us as human-beings?” without over-selling his point. As I said, I was impressed.
When I heard that John was writing a book based on his insights I thought, “I think I’ll have to read that.” when I heard he needed people to participate in a blog tour on the book I thought, “I need to do that.”. So here I am. In some ways I might appear to be an odd participant in this tour. I’m an unabashed geek-pastor who loves exploring the use of technology in ministry pursuits. To that end I’m on the regional staff of the American Baptist Churches of New Jersey to help teach others how to do the same. My congregation, and many folks in our denomination, think of me as a “gadget geek,” always ready to play with a new toy. They aren’t wrong, I love putting tech through it’s paces and seeing what uses I can come up with for it. Why, with my ministry focus and background, would I want to participate in a book discussion that might end up dampening my enthusiasm? A good question, with (I hope) an equally good answer.
The truth is, John and I are on similar projects. He uses his theological, philosophical, and technological understanding to ask questions about the impact of technology first on our common humanity and then how it impacts the practice of our faith. I move in a similar fashion. Beginning with the assumption that humanity has been changed by technology, and that not all of those changes positively impact the expression of our humanity*, I hope to encourage the Church to take up new technologies with wisdom. Technology changes us in both good and bad ways that require reflection and insights a lot deeper than asking, “How many hours should I be allowed to be on the Internet a day?” John asks these questions well, and I am grateful that he does.
So, over the next few weeks, look for my posts on From the Garden to the City. Or, if you’d like, go get the book yourself and join us on the journey. I’m sure you’ll be glad you did.
* The fact that I begin my project with an assumption shows that John is a more studious thinker than I am, but I read Ellul relatively early during my higher education so it’s been ingrained into my core.
One of the blessing of pastoring at Central Baptist is the near by locale of our denomination’s retirement home, Riverview Estates. As a pastor, I’ve been to many retirement homes over the years, and Riverview remains the only home I’ve ministered in that I don’t leave depressed. The staff and residents work together to make it truly a home, and many are still active in ministering the Gospel to others.
Over the years I’ve met some interesting people:
- A woman in her 80′s who wanted to learn how to fast and read a different translation of the Bible every year.
- A woman who, at 90, decided it would be a good time to learn how to paint.
- A 102 year old who had more spunk and fire for the Gospel then anyone else I’ve ever met.
- A man in his 80′s who is humble, joyful, and deeply committed to making connections with others.
This past week I videoed some of the staff and residents in order to make a short montage for Annual Session this year. Watch the finished product and meet some of these remarkable people!
Sometimes I hate looking at the world. There is so much going on as people struggle to eat, fight disease, overcome natural disasters, and battle oppression for the hope of a better today. Yet, I have the audacity to think that it’s normal to go through my day without many troubles at all. The problems of the world seem so big, and I feel so terribly small that the temptation to bury my head in the sand is very real indeed.
Then I have a moment when I see a thing of genuine beauty and think, “If something so beautiful can exist evil really can be overcome.” Until I remember that, like this sunset, all of our beauty comes with a cost – and a lot of it manages to perpetuate the very evil which sets the world aflame. It’s too much to get my head around most days – and the internal wrestling match is highlighted well in this comic. One day, all things will be made new – but as we work and strive to see that process underway now, the hoping is awfully painful.
Is there one person speaking, or two? I’m honestly not sure.
I’m preaching on 1 Corinthians 15 this Sunday, and as I worked on the text this week I came to appreciate something about the Apostle Paul. To be honest, I had seen it before, but as I looked at the text for my sermon I was enabled to pause and see it as one if the core realities of Paul’s life. He was deeply introspective.
In 1 Corinthians 15:8-9 Paul admits to a deeply divided fellowship that was unworthy to be called an apostle because he had persecuted the Church. Paul never forgot who he had been, and what he had done. It stuck with him throughout his life.
We would be wrong, however, to come to the conclusion that Paul was a guilt ridden wreck. This is far from the case! His memory of his past evils didn’t lock him in place, rather, it drove him forward in his pursuit of Christ. His work for the Gospel also wasn’t born from a divine guilt-trip. Rather, this Apostle worked “more than all of them” out of a sense deep gratitude. He declares in verse 10 that he is what he is by the grace of God. He may have been born in an untimely manner (εκτρωμα, in verse 8, refers to a birth takes place without a viable gestation period – usually a miscarriage or premature labor), but by God’s grace he managed to live. In verse 10 Paul picks up that image of untimely birth again and declares that the grace which was in him was not, literally, “born in vain.” He knows that he shouldn’t be who he is, by all accounts, but he celebrates that he is anyway. The reminders in both the beginning and end if chapter 15 seem to show that Paul wanted the Corinthians the develop a similar introspection.
This is something we can learn from. If we are to continue to develop as disciples of Jesus we must never forget what we have been. We did, indeed, need Christ to die on our behalf. Like Paul, however, we shouldn’t keep this memory alive in order to bathe our souls in guilt. Instead, we remember in order to develop a sense of gratitude and joy that we have been embraced by a loving God who has embraced us in Jesus Christ. It is from this sense of gratitude and joy that we remember to pass in this grace to others. How, after all, can we proclaim the Gospel of grace if we fail to remember that we needed it in the first place?
Google Video is shutting down, so I’m uploading to You Tube some of the videos I had hosted there. This video was created in 2006 for an devotional movement we were doing at Central. The character, Darth Nohope, was constructed to give the congregation a third-party villain as we leapt into a new narrative, It worked, but we still haven’t met his apprentice.
Holy Week is soon upon us, and with it will come the cacophony of voices crying, “It’s only a tradition!” This is, ironically, the tradition response if the non-traditional Christian the the idea of Holy Week. It used to bother me, as most if the Evangelical circles I walked in mocked the idea of a Church calendar and Church seasons. I felt bad that I was drawn to the rhythm of the calendar, and the emphasis it brings to worship and personal devotion. I actually felt that I was, somehow, less spiritual!
I don’t feel bad anymore, because I know how to respond to the comment in a way which shows how my embrace of the liturgical calendar is an expression of my deep desire to be bound to Christ in all things. Now I say, “Absolutely! It’s a tradition meant to remind us that we are part of the rhythm of a story that is beyond our own personal goals, likes, dislikes, and wants. It’s a tradition which seeks to remind us that together we are bound in Christ. It’s a good tradition.”
I see the liturgical calendar as a spiritual discipline for the Church to practice together, for the glory of our Lord and His kingdom. So, this Holy Week, be part of the tradition and become with the story of Jesus…together.
In case you were wondering where I got my idea for the online Bible study from, I must admit it’s a derivative idea. I’m not naturally that creative.
Father Matthew Presents is a hysterical look as aspects of the Christian faith from an Episcopal perspective – he does a great job! I particularly enjoy this video on marriage by him:
Update – looks like my comment on TC has be saved from moderation limbo, I’ll leave this up though since people are commenting.
Well, over at Think Christian I came across this post entitled “Five Reasons Not To Give Up Something For Lent.” I posted these responses over in Think Christian – but the ether ate them (I’m thinking that TC’s normally stellar moderation is on the fritz). So, read the post over on TC – then read below to get my responses to the reasons.
#1 – You’ve missed the point. Lent is a season of penance set aside to train our wills to be able to better follow Christ the rest of the year. It’s the same way that Advent is supposed to function. The point isn’t to say, “Yay, I got to the end how awesome am I!” It’s to get to the end and say, “Thank you Jesus for leading me in disciplining my life to more graciously display your glory.”
#2 – Sure, but that’s not the point either. As a Baptist pastor I marvel at the Orthodox fast for Lent of Meat, Cheese, Fish, Oil, and Wine. These are GOOD things, willingly laid down for a time in order to spend more time in spiritual discipline. I agree that giving up chocolate isn’t in the same league as that, but the money you’d spend on chocolate during Lent would traditionally be given to the poor. Again, at the end if you’ve drawn close to God maybe you don’t take a luxury back up and that money remains a gift to those who need it. Again, small steps, but they can be real.
#3 – Yes, which is why your understanding on #4 is wrong too. Sundays are ALWAYS feast days in the Liturgical tradition, Lent is not a time of self-flagellation but of penance so the Joy of the Lord can be experienced with ever greater exuberance. Having said that, the NT is pretty clear that the ABUNDANCE that we experience in the here an now is mixed with some serious suffering for the name of Jesus, that’s not a reality that should be blurred even unintentionally.
#4 – People have already covered this [note to my readers, see the TC comments for why Lent is 40 days]. You’re reason is wrong, sorry.
#5 – This is just a blank stare moment for me dude. Easter has a Sunday, yes, but it’s a SEASON which lasts until Ascension Sunday. The season of Easter corresponds to the time after Jesus’ resurrection when the taught his disciples the meaning of what had happened. Nate, I’m sorry but it really just sounds like you are pre-disposed against this tradition and wanted to justify that disposition. Your reasons really don’t stack up against the actual tradition of Lent.
This evening I tweeted that I’m reading A Case for Civility of Os Guiness. It really is an excellent book. By the time I got done with a Budget Meeting, and a short workout I found that I was suddenly being followed by the user vigil4civility. I went and briefly checked out their web-site and I have to say I’m quite happy with the idea (which I’ve been doing both from the pulpit and here for months now). Go on, check them out.