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Wednesday, August 31, 2005

A great pastoral resource...

A great pastoral resource will soon be shutting down. Bruce Johnson (of brucedjohnson.com) is in transition. After 16 years at his church, Bruce and his board found that they had irreconcilable differences.

In the next month or so, Bruce will be shutting down brucedjohnson.com. If you haven't had a chance to read some of his great articles, make sure you take a little time over the next few weeks to read them before they are gone.

Thanks, Bruce, for all your work. I wish God's blessing as you follow Him where He leads you.

Monday, August 29, 2005

The People I Want on my Guest Services Team...





















Mark Waltz is on staff at Granger Community Church in Indiana (just down the street from Notre Dame). He says about himself,
I'm one of the pastors at Granger Community Church where my life and role are about people. Specifically helping them connect with each other, and ultimately with God. My comments here will flow out of that pursuit - helping people discover their significant design by God and find real connection with others. Not all my comments will necessarily flow from my role at GCC, but, hopefully they'll flow.
Mark's blog, "...because people matter" always has some great insights. Recently, Mark wrote a series of articles about "People I want on My Guest Services Team." It is a great series. I have provided the links for you below.

Thanks, Mark, for the great articles.

1 - Aligned People: eople who embrace and own our mission to help people take their next step toward Christ... together.

2 - People-People: People who love people.

3 - Marketplace Customers: People who remember their own guest service experiences – both desirable and undesirable.

4 - Image-Savvy People: People who look in the mirror before they leave the house.

5 - Disciplined Conversationalists: People who intuitively know how to carry on a conversation with others without feeling like the conversation has to be all about them.

6 - Excellence Champions: People who see, hear, and feel what's excellent and take initiative to fix what's not.

7 - Optimists: People who see the glass as more than half full.

8 - Servant-Hearted People: People who understand it's not about them; they do what they do to serve - both guests and fellow-teammates.

9 -Interesting People: People who draw others to themselves because they are appropriately interesting.

10 - Missional People: People who reach out to those who are seeking God.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Relevant...














I recently wrote (here) about what Bill Hybels of Willow Creek Community Church refers to as a "holy discontent." I wrote:
I feel a passion to do great church: to make it relevant, engaging, and connecting. I want church to be exciting - an event, if you will - that draws people to respond to God. I want to stand against dull, uninspiring, irrelevant, and unmotivating church services.
I was asked a couple of great questions in response by Ryan and Shaun. Here is what they had to say:
I agree with your discontent of churches who don't engage with their people. But, in your owns words what would or could a church do or not do to become "dull, uninspiring, irrelevant, and unmotivating?" Sorry about the awkward wording of that sentence! (Ryan)
Can you define "relevant" for me as you mean it? (Shaun)
Thanks, guys for your questions. I will try to give you a picture of what I mean.

Here is the short answer: I want church (more specifically the truth of God's word) to speak to the lives of people right where they are at - right where they live. Truth should be understandable and applicable. The Bible is for today. It should draw people in, not push them away. It should make them want to move forward in their spiritual journey. And it should connect them with God and other people.

OK. That's the short answer. Here it is fleshed out a little more...


Relevant: The dictionary defines "relevant" this way: "having significant and demonstrable bearing on the matter at hand."

As it relates to church, relevance for me means taking the truth of Scripture and presenting it in such a way that 1) it is understandable to the hearers - they know what you are talking about and what the passage means; 2) it is actionable - they know what to do with what they heard. In other words, you have helped them to understand how a 2,000 year old passage of Scripture works in their life today.

I also believe that it is critical that the truth that you communicate is in keeping with the historical context of the biblical passage. In other words, you don't proof-text to get a nice idea across. Rather, you let the context of Scripture be your guide to how it would have been applied specifically in the historical setting, while extracting the timeless principle for today. I'm all for topical preaching, as long as the passage you pull a particular verse out of actually refers to the topic at hand. But I digress...

Engaging: The dictionary says that to engage is "to hold the attention of" or "to induce to participate."

I believe that church is not a spectator sport. People should and can be engaged to participate (and want to participate) at all points on their spiritual journey. Whether they are someone who has not yet "come to faith" or they are a long-time believer, church should draw them in to cause them to want to be a part.

And what they should want to be a part of is not what WE are doing. Rather it is what God is doing. Church should open a window on the heart of God and His heart for people. It should portray God and the Christian life as something that is vital and powerful and abundant, not dull and boring and weak.

When people leave on Sundays, I want them to feel as though they have been drawn closer to something that is far bigger than themselves.

Connecting: Once again, Merriam-Webster has this to say about connecting: it is "to become joined."

We are made... we were created for relationships. Church should facilitate building important relationships.

First, it should connect people with God. If we are not doing that proactively, we are failing. We cannot just expect it to happen, although it might. We need to create an atmosphere that is conducive to people connecting with God... an atmosphere that reduces roadblocks... an atmosphere that gives opportunity - in their own way - to take the next step in their relationship with God, even inviting them to do so.

Additionally, church should foster community - connecting people with people. We are called to live out our faith in community with other believers. Church should foster community by communicating the importance of it - that it is not just an option. More importantly, its leaders need to model living life out in community.

Finally, the church should foster relationships with "the world." We are also called to connect with those outside the faith by being the "light of the world and the salt of the earth." Again, the church should both communicate the non-negotiable of this truth and its leaders model it.

Thanks, guys for the great questions. Hope this answers them to at least some small degree.

Photograph by Jules Frazier
Image #tr002753, from gettyimages

Saturday, August 27, 2005

On the computer front...





















Interesting news from the computer world:

  • Wireless has surpassed wired. As of December 31, 2004 there were 181.1 million wireless subscribers in the U.S., as opposed to only 178 million wired ones, according to the FCC.
  • Some have no wires at all. According to a recent Forester Research report, 5% of U.S. homes have no landline service and only use cellular phones.
  • Bite a fingernail, lose your data. Researchers at the University of Tokushima's Department of Optical Science and Technology have managed to encode data onto a human fingernail, In the future they are aiming to do the same thing for skin and teeth. The researchers used a femtosecond laser to record about 5MB of data on an average fingernail. The data is not permanent, though - it only lasts about 6 months, or about the time it takes a fingernail to grow out completely.
  • Gizmo is good. Gizmo is a VoIP (Voice-Over-IP) system that can be installed, including phone books, software, and call logs, onto a USB thumb drive. Company principals report that they run Gizmo on their laptops on Lufthansa flights that have 802.11 Internet connectivity and are able to make phone calls in-flight as they fly across the Atlantic!
  • Prices have dropped a little in 10 years. In 1995 a Toshiba Sattelite Pro 400 was advertised with a 75-MHz Pentium CPU, 8MB or EDO RAM, a 770 MB HD, a 10.4-inch display, a 4X CD-ROM, and a lithium-ion battery that would last for over 2 hours! And what did this marvel of technology cost, you wonder? List price: $4,899!

Friday, August 26, 2005

A simple response...














On my previous post (here) regarding Einstein and simplicity and the value of simple communication, I received two interesting comments. The first said:

I agree - it has to be simple for most people to get it. I think you can make things simple and still be able to challenge them in such a way that they will stretch and grow - baby steps.

The second comment said:

Too often I believe we treat people as if their spiritual babies too long. A person at one point or another needs to come to a realization that he/she must stand up and grasp the truths of God's Word. There is much at stake here, if one truly believes that we can know God and what he is like through his revealed Word! We cannot spoon feed people forever, and I think we do this all to often. Annette-I do agree with baby steps, but we cannot stay babies forever. One final thought-what do we do with those people who don't need to spoon feed anymore? Send them to another church so they can be feed by the in-depth teaching/preaching of God's Word?

Please don't misunderstand what I am saying. I am not saying that we must spoon feed people. Neither am I saying that we "water down" the truth of Scripture. Simply, I am advocating a simplicity of style that allows people - at all levels in their spiritual journey - to UNDERSTAND the truth.

In fact, simplicity does not keep people from wrestling with truth. On the contrary, in increases the likelihood that they will. When you understand the truth (and isn't that the purpose of preaching/teaching - to help people understand the truth... to reveal it to them?) you are moved to make a decision about the truth. Sometimes - even often - that decision will require you to give something up or stop doing something that you've been doing. You are faced with a choice... a crisis of faith, if you will.

That choice to follow truth or to not follow truth - obedience or disobedience - is precipitated by understanding. Understanding comes when truth is communicated in the "language of the people."

I could tell you that if you are struggling with circadian rhythm disorder there are certain things you must do. Would you know what I'm talking about? Would you know if that "truth" was for you to apply? What if I told you that you had jet lag? Would you understand me the?

Both phrases mean the same thing, however one communication style will be more readily understood and so more easy to act (or not act) upon.

Simple does not equal simplistic. It means not complicated - although acting on "simple truth" may be extremely complicated - it may involve letting go of an action or lifestyle that has become a big part of our life.

I now fear that in writing on simplicity, I may have said too much and am in danger of becoming unclear. So now, I will simply stop typing.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Willow Creek Summit Observations - Part 2


Rick Warren had a lot of great stuff in session 2. You can get a pretty good outline of it on Kem Meyer's blog, here.



What I think I loved the most was his quote he attributed to Einstein: "You can be the smartest person in the world, but if you can't communicate in a simple way, it's not worth much."

I have always taken this approach to me teaching/preaching. You can "wow" someone with your knowledge of original languages (and having that is good, don't get me wrong), but at the end of the day, if the cookies aren't on the bottom shelf where they can be taken and eaten, what good are the cookies?

I'm sure I will get a comment about the value of stretching people... making them reach for and work for the cookies. I agree that people need to be challenged. But the reality is that, if in our communication of the greatest truth ever know, if people don't get it, "it's not worth much," (at least in the practical application of that truth).

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Willow Creek Summit Observations - Part 1





The first session at the Summit featured Bill Hybels, founding and Senior Pastor of Willow Creek Community Church. Hybels spoke about our "holy discontent." He defined it as our "Popeye moment"... when we say, as Popeye did, "I've had all I can stands, I can't stands no more." Our holy discontent is that passion that drives us. As Hybels put it, it is that thing that wrecks us that also wrecks the heart of God.

What is your holy discontent? What is that thing that you just can't stands no more that you have to take action on. What is it that wrecks you that also wrecks the heart of God.

Personally, I feel a passion to do great church: to make it relevant, engaging, and connecting. I want church to be exciting - an event, if you will - that draws people to respond to God. I want to stand against dull, uninspiring, irrelevant, and unmotivating church services.

At the same time, I am beginning to feel the stir of God in my heart to connect with the world to address a social concern. More about that in the next entry.

For more complete notes on session 1, check out Kem Meyers' blog, here.

Updated August 20: Here's a great quote that I forgot to include before: "When a leader is gripped by a powerful passion, he often enters a different state of mind." (Robert Quinn)

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Willow Creek Summit


I've been at the Willow Creek Summit this week, so I've been a bit behind on my posting. I will begin posting some of the Summit nuggets on Monday.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Leadership and other stuff (Part 2)...


Here are some more great article and blogs on leadership (and a great article on creativity) that I wanted to post for you:

Don't miss Mac Lakes' three articles on his "Lessons from Disney" on his blog, Apply Within: here, here, and here.

Bruce D. Johnson has an excellent leadership blog, here. His article on "The Number One Mistake Most Preachers and Communicators Make" is fantastic.

Finally, here are a couple of creative bones: BusinessWeek online published a list of their "Top 20 Innovative Companies in the World." The "whys" are very interesting. It is definitely stuff we can apply to the church.

Also, Discovery Church in New Jersey has all of their creative resources listed online, here. Thanks, guys for a great list!

One more, from Mark Lee at This Guy Falls Down: an interesting blog by the authors of "The Future of Music : Manifesto for the Digital Music Revolution." Interesting site - looks like a book I may want to read, too.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Leadership and other stuff (Part 1)...


I am beginning to wonder if this post will ever get written. After writing it and attempting to post it, Blogger crashed and I lost the article. Twice! So here we are for the third time! (Actually, it's the fourth time - I decided to break this article up into parts).

I recently ran across some great article and blogs on leadership (and a great article on creativity) that I wanted to post for you:

Anthony D. Coppedge posted a great article by Ed Young of Fellowship Church in Grapevine, TX, about the "5 Ways to Stay on Track with Media and Technology."

By the way, Fellowship Church has it's own blog. It's well done and a good example about what a church blog can be - more than a mere prayer list. Not that there's anything wrong with using you church blog as a prayer list. It's just that it can be so much MORE.

Oh yeah, if you don't know about it, the CreativePastors website, is a great resource and idea site. It's a lot of the stuff that they do at Fellowship with resources by Pastor Ed Young. Ed also has his own site here, with his messages and materials. You can also listen to Ed's broadcasts here.

Whoops, I almost forgot: CreativePastors also has a blog. Good stuff.

Terry Storch is on staff at Fellowship Church (Chief Operations and Technology Pastor). He also is the Executive Director for CreativePastors. His blog promises visionary leadership, innovation, technology, and life tidbits from a pastor.

On Terry's site, I found a link to a great article in Christianity Today by Peter Drucker: "Your Leadership is Unique." Great insight on what a leader knows and what a leader does.

The crew at Granger Community Church in Granger, IN, are a creative bunch. A couple of their pastors also have great leadership blogs. Check out Tony Morgan's site here, and Mark Waltz's site here.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Another great recipe.



Here's another great recipe I've been using (in fact, we're having it tonight, along with some great corn). Although it's not a new one, it is worth checking out.

BEER CAN CHICKEN

1 can beer
1 chicken (whole - 3-4 pounds)
Basic BBQ rub (recipe follows)

  1. Open beer. Drink half. OK... only if you want to. Actually you can use half of the beer to soak some smoking chips. It's up to you. I just like the idea of a recipe that says, "open can. Drink half the beer." Sounds like a fun recipe.
  2. Set up your grill for indirect heat. If you are using charcoal, set up a drip pan underneath where you are cooking the chicken.
  3. Clean and towel dry the chicken. Drink another beer (just kidding). Sprinkle the BBQ rub all over the outside chicken, as well as in the cavity and under the skin.
  4. Spoon 2T of the rub into the beer can. Insert the beer can into the chicken cavity. Use the legs to form a tripod. Tuck the wing tips behind the ckicken's back.
  5. Put the wood chips on the fire (or into a smoking box, if using gas). Cover the grill (or close the lid) and cook until chicken is done - about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours (cook until it gets to 180 degrees on a meat thermometer). If you are using charcoal, you will need to add 12 fresh coals per side after one hour. Resist the urge to check on the chicken - it will only lower the internal temperature of the grill and lead to longer cooking times.
  6. Using tongs, carefully transfer chicken in its upright position on the beer can to a platter. Let the chicken rest 5 minutes, then carefully remove the beer can, being careful not to spill the hot beer on yourself.
  7. Quarter or carve the chicken and serve.

BASIC BBQ RUB


1/4 C. firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 C. sweet paprika
3 tblsp. black pepper
4 tablsp. coarse salt
2 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. onion powder
2 tsp. celery seeds
1 tsp. cayenne pepper

Combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl. Mix with your hands to break up and lumps of brown sugar. Store in an airtight jar away from light and heat - it will keep for 6 months.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Blu-ray is on the way...

What is Blu-ray, you ask? It is a process for burning DVDs that yields 25 GB for single-sided discs, and a whopping 50 GB for double-sided disks!



BenQ demonstrated their BW1000 in June at the Computex 2005 fair in Taipei. It will be a while before we see them and they will likely be expensive at first. BenQ plans on making them available in 2006 or early 2007. More on it here.

Toshiba has a competing technology called HD-DVD. More on it here.

Friday, August 05, 2005

48 Hour Film Project...



Here's your chance to make history! If you love shooting videos and making your own movies, the 48 Hour Film Project might be for you. Here's what it's all about...

Do you have what it takes to make a short film in one weekend!?!? The 48 Hour Film Project challenges filmmaking teams to make a movie from scratch - writing, shooting and editing - all in just 48 hours. Our 2005 Tour has begun. This year the 48HFP will visit 30 cities around the world.

Register your team today. Click the "2005 Cities List" button to see if we are coming to your city. If a city button is highlighted, we are accepting entries.

NEW GRAND PRIZE!
HD Filmmaker Showdown Sponsored By Panasonic & Avid

The competition is heating up this year and we've got an exciting Grand Prize. We've partnered with Panasonic and Avid to bring you the HD FILMMAKER SHOWDOWN!

In each city competition, local judges will select the best film team. From those teams, our national judges will select the top 5 teams and invite them to make a second 48 Hour Film. This time, teams will shoot with the new Panasonic HD camera and edit on Avid's HD Express. Each team gets to keep the Avid HD Express and the Avid Mojo. The winning team will keep the camera!

Ready... Set... Shoot!

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Great tools...



Here are some great tools I have come across for creating great visual stuff (video and print):
  1. Art Director's Toolkit: Designed for print designers, it also works well for video. One of the great features that I like is the swatch viewer for Pantone colors and with the ability to find related colors. (For Mac and Win)
  2. ColorTheory and ColorTheory Pro: Lets you pick our four colors that work with other existing colors (like an existing logo). (For Mac and Win)
  3. Director's Boards: Allows you to do quick storyboards and print them out or show them as a slide show. (For Mac and Win)
  4. SnagIt: Great for grabbing screen shots. (For Win only)
  5. GrahicConverter X: Reads over 175 graphic file formats and exports 75. Awesome. (Mac only)
  6. IrfranView: Reads over 120 file formats and exports 20. A great tool. (Win only)
  7. iTunes: The mac-daddy of all music library tools (even if you don't own an iPod). (for Mac and Win).
  8. TransType SE: Converts fonts from Mac to Win and vice versa. (For Mac and Win)
  9. Windows Media Encoder: Easy encoder to use (although you can't set a lot of options). It does support HD encoding, as well as variable bitrate, two-pass, and batch encoding. (Win only)

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Great sites...



Here are some really cool sites I came across recently:

  1. Hale Online: This is a quick, fairly accurate, four-question test that gives you your Meyers-Briggs personality test results. I am an ENTP. Leave your type on my comments page! BTW, TypeLogic has a great page to explain all the temperament types in more detail.
  2. RhymeZone: A fun site that rhymes words for you. Great for poets and songwriters. FYI, geriatric, pediatric, and psychiatric all rhyme with Patrick.
  3. Dave Barry: I am a HUGE Dave Barry fan. He and Patrick McManus are two of my favorite humor writer (along with David Feherty's column in Golf Magazine. Dave has both an old site, here, and his new site, here.
  4. 43 Folders: Billed as "A bunch of tricks, hacks, & other cool stuff," this is a great site. It also has a standing link to a site where you can buy the ever-cool moleskine notebook, so you, too, can be like Van Gogh, Matisse, Hemingway, and Chatwin.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Worlds' best corn...



On some days, I am adventurous. On others, I like to stick to what I know. When it comes to food, I figure why possibly ruin something that I know I can make well with a brand new recipe.

A few weeks ago we were going to have corn on the cob with dinner. I had seen this recipe a few years ago in CookingLight and figured one day I would try it. The day had come.

After making it, I can tell you that this is one of THE BEST ways to make corn on the cob that I have ever had. Make this for yourself. You won't be disappointed.

GRILLED MEXICAN CORN WITH CREMA

On the streets of Mexico, people line up at vendor carts to buy giant ears of roasted corn dunked in rich crema Mexicana and sprinkled with chili powder and lime juice. Crema Mexicana is similar to sour cream and can be found in many large supermarkets in the Mexican food section (it's canned). If you can't find it, use low-fat sour cream.

1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder (or any chili powder)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 ears corn
Cooking spray
1/4 cup crema Mexicana
6 lime wedges

Prepare grill.

Combine first 3 ingredients.

Place corn on a grill rack coated with cooking spray; cook 12 minutes or until corn is lightly browned, turning frequently. Place corn on a platter; drizzle with crema. Sprinkle with chipotle mixture. Garnish with lime wedges (make sure you squeeze the lime on the corn. It makes the dish).

Yield: 6 servings (serving size: 1 ear)

NUTRITION PER SERVING
CALORIES 160(29% from fat); FAT 5.2g (sat 2.5g,mono 1.5g,poly 1g); PROTEIN 5g; CHOLESTEROL 8mg; CALCIUM 24mg; SODIUM 228mg; FIBER 4g; IRON 0.8mg; CARBOHYDRATE 28.2g

Effectively and Strategically Leading Teams Through Blogging...



Here is a great article about "Effectively and Strategically Leading Teams Through Blogging" on the Purpose Driven website from Randy Elrod of Ethos.

Monday, August 01, 2005

What's your hidden talent?

Here's a funky little quiz to assess your hidden talent. Check it out here.