Monthly Archives: June 2011

Google+ – 1st Thoughts

Thanks to a friend I was able to grab a coveted Google+ invite before they apparently shut down the invitations. I jumped right into it this morning, and these are my very initial thoughts.

First, for those who are out of the loop Google+ is basically Google’s most recent attempt at getting into the social networking game. Buzz, has not panned out so well, but this seems like it may be a formidable entrant to the social networking scene. Do I believe there’s going to be a mass exodus from Facebook? No. Will it appeal to people who don’t like Facebook? Yes. Will it appeal to people who like Facebook? Maybe, but I’m not sure.

Main Thought:

Google+ actually mimics real life unlike Facebook. Facebook makes everyone on equal footing from the Best Man at your wedding to the person you met once at a party. They’re all friends. Google+ allows you to create circles and then share accordingly. So, for example I have a family circle, a friends circle, and an acquaintances circle. If I want to share something with just family Google+ allows me to do that. If I want everyone in all my circles to know something I can do that as well. This is called the way we communicate in real life. This makes Google+ attractive.

Secondary Thoughts:

1) On a scale of 1-10 of user friendliness I give it a 6. It’s not the most intuitive thing I’ve ever used, but it’s not the worst either. It takes a little time to get up to speed, and I’m not there yet.

2) Google knows a lot about us already. When I signed in for the 1st time it had already pre-populated my info with information I didn’t know they had.

If you have had a chance to use it, what do you think of it? Like it? Would it replace Facebook for you? Comment below.


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Why I Dislike Church Growth Strategies

That may be an unfair title. Sensational perhaps, but I’m going with it. “Leadership” has become the new spiritual gift du jour for Christians. If you want people to come to your conference talk about how you’re going to make them better leaders. Attendance at conferences designed to make better servants is at an all time low, but everyone wants to be a leader. All that cynicism aside I definitely believe in the value of solid, biblical leadership. It’s needed. I also believe in the value of a gospel-centered church growth strategy.

However, like anything else we latch onto, what we say is based on the Bible (i.e. leadership or church growth) can quickly usurp the place of the God of the Bible.

If you check google you can find about 92,500 links to tell you all about church growth.

I’ve seen quite a few of them which don’t seem bad. However, I generally get the feeling that you could take most of those strategies word for word and apply them to any organization or corporate enterprise and it would be just as applicable. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. I’m a former corporate hack myself so I value efficient, effective strategies. But at what point is your strategy simply an organizational growth strategy instead of a church growth strategy? Simply put are we using spiritual means to achieve spiritual results or are we using worldly means to achieve worldly results?

I say all of this because of Acts 9:31

So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit , it multiplied.

What? No demographical emphasis on young families? No on site coffee shop? We have to get to a point where we teach and preach walking in the fear of the Lord and the comfort of the Holy Spirit more than we strategize. If we’re strategizing and sprinkling a little prayer on top we’re in trouble.

I don’t have this figured out at the church level or the personal level. On the personal side, I use a lot of “strategery.” I often try to strategize my personal spiritual growth by the latest quiet time strategies, prayer cards, journals, etc. This is first and foremost a lesson I need to learn. Walk in the fear of the Lord. Walk in the comfort of the Holy Spirit.

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Weekly Rewind – 6/25/11

As mentioned before I’m moving to a weekly digest instead of a daily digest for time management’s sake. For the Daily Digest I was mirroring the format of Tim Challies’ blog here. For the Weekly Rewind I really like the way Ben Arment does his weekly post. Here’s a sample:

  • Ainsley’s mom came through brain surgery yesterday to remove a cancerous turmor. They removed the right occipital lobe of her brain, but she was lucid after she woke up. She’s in ICU for a few days. Thanks for your prayers
  • I’ve been watching our three cowboys non-stop for the past few days and loving it. We rode a ferry in Norfolk’s harbor yesterday to the Portsmouth children’s museum.
  • The moving truck pulls up next Tues. (gulp)
  • 3-dimensional set for the Amon Tobin tour. This is an incredible sight to behold (via @shawnlandis)

You can see how he has some personal notes, but also has his fair share of links. You can view his whole post here.

Hopefully these guys view imitation as the sincerest form of flattery and not copyright infringement.

So, without further ado, here is this week’s Weekly Rewind:

  • Neighborhood news: a lady managed to total her car by somehow running into the back of a parked truck owned by a police officer.
  • Weather news: We’re dealing with wildfires in our area. You know it’s bad when you’re current weather condition is this:
  • Sports Highlight: Auburn man, Tim Hudson, threw 8 innings of shutout, 1 hit ball AND hit a 2R HR in the Braves’ 2-0 victory against the Blue Jays. I believe they call this the “total package.”
  • Great article on the pitfalls of leadership. It comes from a Harvard Business School professor and is applicable in all areas of leadership, ministry or otherwise. H/T John Gunter.
  • Are people in our ministries overly busy because the leaders model busyness? Read here about the importance of establishing a pattern of engagement and retreat for effective ministry.
  • The typical Christian is not the image we often have of a white, American. A needed article here.
  • Another reason why you should teach your kids not to talk to strangers. Hint: It’s not for their safety.
  • Just started into Job in my Bible reading plan which always makes me fearful that my life is about to fall apart.
Comments always welcome and encouraged.

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People I Don’t Understand #2

Our 2nd entrant into the PIDU series is…Person who doesn’t know how to cross the street and crosses with their hand extended. That was a long title. You know who I’m talking about though.

You’re sitting at the red light. The light turns green. At this point a person or family decides now is the ideal time to walk in front of traffic. And to add a degree of safety they extend their hand to stop your 5.4L V-8, 6000 lb F-150 (Hypothetically speaking of course).

My problem with this is two-fold. 1) Learn to obey the traffic signal. It’s your friend. It’s there to protect you. Once you’ve learned good judgment you can choose to disobey it if there aren’t any cars within 2 miles of your location. 2) Your hand signal is worthless. Either the person you’re annoying at the light will run over you, at which point your hand extended won’t matter (See exception for Smart Cars) or they’re smart enough to see your dumb self in the road and will wait for you to slowly walk across the street. Apparently extending the hand is a deterrent to walking quickly.

My goal is not to deal with individuals in these posts, but in generalities. However, each of these has an inspiration and tonight’s was special because of the shirt she was wearing while engaging in above behavior.











So true. How about you? Ever had someone make you wait while they sauntered across the crosswalk?

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New Series: People I Don’t Understand

The Daily Digest will soon convert to more of a weekly digest so that I can free up some time every day and so that I can concentrate on more original content. Part of that original content is a new series titled “People I Don’t Understand.” It’s pretty self-explanatory and will make an appearance whenever I encounter someone I don’t understand.

The inaugural entry goes to…..Waiter/Waitress who doesn’t write down your order! Congratulations!

This has been a recurring mystery to me highlighted by a restaurant experience this weekend. Here’s the set up: 5 adults ordering lunch. All lunches have multiple options (i.e. fries/onion rings, type of salad dressings, medium/medium well). If you took math and remember your factorials you know we’re getting into a large number of possible orders. But, our waitress decided she’s got this. She laughs in the face of a 5 person table. After she left my 1st comment was something along these lines: “I’m a lot more sympathetic to the waiter/waitress who writes down the order even if they bring out something wrong.”

Sure enough food starts coming out, and it starts coming out wrong. And it didn’t even make sense. Who orders a sweet potato as a side to a chicken salad sandwich?

So here’s why I don’t understand you waiter/waitress who doesn’t wring anything down:

There’s no point. You have failed to understand the risk/reward ratio. You are taking on additional risk for 0 additional reward. You don’t get paid any more for not writing stuff down. I go to a restaurant to eat, not to see what great memories their employees have.

Who’s with me on this? Are there former waiters/waitresses that can shed some light on this for me? Is there a pool among the employees that makes it worth the risk? Join the conversation by commenting below.


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The Idol of Independence

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. – John 15:5 (ESV)

One verse that I constantly struggle with is John 15:5. I struggle to believe that apart from Christ I can really do nothing. Once I inch towards believing that, then I struggle with trying to figure out why it’s such a struggle.

There are a multitude of reasons why this is a struggle. We live in a fallen world, we still war against our fleshly desires, and so on. However, one reason that hit me is the cultural reason.

From the time we are born until the time we die we are taught that independence is a sign of maturity. Kids need to learn to go to the potty on their own. They need to pick up their own toys and put them away. We move to the schooling years where the pinnacle of education is defined by writing a really large dissertation of independent, original thought. In the workplace, many evaluations or applications have a question asking if you can perform the duties independently or at worse with minimal supervision. To need help or be dependent on someone else means you haven’t yet arrived. You are lacking in some area.

We are conditioned to value independence as a sign of success. We want to have awesome quiet times, conquer some sin habit, design the perfect ministry. On our own. And then show it off to God so he’ll be proud of us. Then John 15:5 comes along and turns everything upside down. Independence in this spiritual realm means you’re lacking. Not only lacking a little, but lacking everything. It’s a bit overwhelming.

At that point of being overwhelmed we have 3 choices: 1) Try harder – Independence really is an idol, 2) Give up – I’ve tried as hard as I can, and it didn’t work. I’m done trying to have quiet times, war against my flesh, etc. or 3) Abide and rest – Come to me all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (Matt. 11:28)

Do you want to bear fruit? Abide. What does abiding look like for you? Please comment below and let us encourage one another.

Next week: I believe that lack of prayer is both a cause and a symptom of our independent bend. Look for more on that next Friday.

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6/16 – Daily Digest

Today’s Daily Digest is a variety pack. 1st we have a look at some of the biggest ideas of the year courtesy of The Atlantic. Secondly, we have a little church challenge. And we wrap it all up with a confession of sin.

The 14 Biggest Ideas Of The YearThe Atlantic describes these as, “A guide to the intellectual trends that, for better or worse, are shaping America right now. (Plus a bunch of other ideas, insights, hypotheses, and provocations.)”  It’s a very interesting read. Let me highlight one of the trends so that you get an idea of what this article is about. Trend #13 is called The Maniac Will Be Televised. Here’s an excerpt:

If the old advice to electronic communicators was to speak in sound bites and keep things simple, to cut through the noise by being straightforward and countering confusion with consistency, the new winning strategy is the opposite: embrace incoherence and become the noise. The cool self-control that was once considered the soul of telegenic behavior has been turned inside out, and the traits that people used to suppress when they appeared on television—the contortions and tics—are now the best way to engage an audience. Attention-deficit disorder, remember, responds to stimulants, not sedatives.

The Uncommitted Church – I think Kevin DeYoung nails it with his look at 2 Chronicles.

One of the reasons churches fail is because they don’t call their people to commitment. An ad 1860 for the Pony Express read: “Wanted: Young, skinny, wiry fellows not over 18. Must be expert riders willing to risk daily. Orphans preferred.” Amazingly, they never had a shortage of riders. Too many churches give the opposite message: “Wanted: vaguely spiritual, cultural Christians. Must attend church sporadically, give miserly, and serve if you are into that sort of thing. Will tailor music, aesthetics, and preaching to fit your style. Ethical standards are minimal and beliefs are negotiable.” The church needs to compromise less and call for commitment more.

Does your church do a good job of calling people to commitment? If so, comment below and let us know how it’s done. It’s a needed thing in our churches.

Are You A Sentence Hijacker? – Do you like to finish other people’s sentences? I do. So does this guy. Swap a few details around, lessen the quality of the writing, and I could’ve written this post. H/T @challies

So what do I do? If you pause mid-sentence to consider what to say next then I’ll frequently and shamelessly jump on the dangling sentence’s back and ride it on into conversational safety.

He mentions a few reasons why he does this, and I would have to say I have 2 primary reasons. 1) Lack of patience. I think I know what’s coming next so instead of waiting I’ll just save the time and blurt it out. 2) Competition. I know it sounds dumb, but if I go back to reason #1 and blurt out the wrong thing I just lost. If I blurt out the right thing I can pat myself on the back for being a mind reader. It’s definitely something I need to work on.

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