Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Apostolic Success?

On sister blog Word, Lee Ann wonders why the overall successes of the Apostolic movement are largely ignored/overlooked? There are plenty of comments in reply.

Why don't you add your thoughts?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Short of Drilling for Oil in America...

...this may be the only way to lower gas prices.  Me, I've got my containers lined up, and I'm looking for a prophet .


Josh R



Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Do You Mobile Web??

According to recent studies mobile web usage is swelling.

The report, researched and released by In-Stat, forecasts that by 2012 more than 229.5 million people worldwide could be using mobile social networking services.

Social networking aside, IBM estimates that by 2011 the number of mobile Web users worldwide will approach one billion, a 191 percent increase from 2006, according to a study released last week.

When I moved to New York three years ago all of the attorneys at the firm I work for had a Blackberry that they used largely for work purposes. People you saw on the train with them were obviously using them for work as well. Today, not only do the attorneys have them, the secretaries, messengers and receptionists all have them and it's not because of work, it is purely for pleasure. I love my Crackberry. I use it for email all day long, in class if I need to look something up via Google quickly and for other random purposes. Wanna know if it's raining? Crackberry. Need to see if tickets are still available for that event this weekend? Crackberry. Bored on the train and need something to do?? Crackberry!!! People at school have them, people at church have them, they're everywhere. The world really is at our fingertips.

So the Point Is???

It means that if I were you, I would seriously consider advertising on the mobile Web. The In-Stat report estimates that businesses will spend $1.5 billion in mobile Web advertising this year, but that’s only a small fraction of the $486 billion expected to be spent on advertising as a whole.

In a few years nearly one billion people will be carrying Web access with them everywhere they go. That’s quite an audience, so capture it now. It’s true that the mobile Web still has a few kinks to work out, but it’s going to take off, sooner rather than later.

I don't know how I feel about this. I wouldn't want pop-up ads ruining my love of my mobile web device.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Books & Music & Fiction

There's lots happening in our sister blogs and if you don't peruse the Friday updates, you're cheating yourself.

Over at Notes, our Music blog, one writer wonders why there's an unnecessary rift between so many pastors and their music ministers. Got an opinion?

Over at Word, there's some unlikely Apostolic fiction, but read the intro first!

Finally, a title to look out for in November (yes, November) that Publisher's Weekly gives a starred review by the esteemed Phillip Jenkins, a continual fresh voice on the religion front:

The Lost History of Christianity: The Thousand-Year Golden Age of the Church in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia
Philip Jenkins. HarperOne, $26.95 (304p) ISBN 978-0-06-147280-0

Revisionist history is always great fun, and never more so than when it is persuasively and cogently argued. Jenkins, the Penn State history professor whose book The Next Christendom made waves several years ago, argues that it's not exactly a new thing that Christianity is making terrific inroads in Asia and Africa. A thousand years ago, those continents were more Christian than Europe, and Asian Christianity in particular was the locus of tremendous innovations in mysticism, monasticism, theology and secular knowledge.

An interview on the book is here. 90&9 has been reporting on Jenkins as far back as 2002, sharing his thoughts on a worldwide Pentecostal revival in both.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Oil Prices Are At Least Educational

Just as Ambrose Bierce one said that war was God's way of teaching intermittent geography, rising gas prices are dumping a Henry Hazlitt double-energy shot right into the American 32 oz, Jamba Juice of ignorance.

The lesson? Depend on middle-eastern nutcases for your fuel, and you place yourself at the mercy of middle-eastern nutcases--who also seem to have the American media convinced that trading living Hezbollah fighters for dead Israeli soldiers is a "fair deal."

So here sits nine million acres of frozen Alaskan armpit, with tons of oil underneath a few thousand square acres of it. And Barack Obama doesn't want to drill it. Or, should I say he doesn't want to drill it--yet. But I have faith. He'll discover the virtues of drilling, just as he suddenly discovered:

1) the validity of the second amendment.
2) the need to listen to the phone conversations of people smitten with flying our passenger jets into our skyscrapers.
3) that people that "cling" to their faith may actually know how to vote. And may be smart enough to ignore guilt trips and Chris Mathews.

As I told my workplace, arch-political nemesis, if Barack Obama veers any further right in his blatant and arrhythmic pandering, he may wind up being called a Reagan Democrat. But I know one thing: let gas go to $10.00 a gallon, and Barack Obama will bulldoze an abortion clinic if he thinks there might be oil underneath it.

Addicted to oil? Sure. I'm also addicted to oxygen. So far, the alternative, Helium isn't working either.


Cheap Theatrics

This pastor in England decided to preach a powerful message to his congregation.  Instead of screaming or jumping, though, he merely sat.  He dressed himself up as a bum and parked himself in front of the church with some scattered beer cans and syringes.  Most people, he said, ignored him.  The ones that had something to say were telling him to get lost.  Nobody offered to help him in any way.  Then, after the service got started, he walked into the church and revealed himself to his congregation.


I wonder how I would have respoded.  I wonder how my church would have responded.  How would most Apostolic churches have responded?  How would we have responded if someone showed at the front door of one of our conferences  (General, youth, campmeeting)?  As the pastor points out in this article, it's easy to say that you would have handled the situation correctly.  But do some soul-searching.  How have you responded in the past, maybe not at church, but anywhere?  What thoughts generally enter your mind when you see someone who looks homeless, or even just very poor? 


It's amazing how little we think of the poor in America and how much Jesus loved them


Josh R.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Who Knew . . .

Even the Statue of Liberty is a Cardinals fan!!

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

An Ideal Husband - One Who Won't Maul Your Happiness

Try not to pass out from shock. This is indeed my second post of the week. (I'm procrastinating on doing my International Law reading)

"But there is one thing worse than an absolutely loveless marriage. A marriage in which there is love, but on one side only; faith, but on one side only; devotion, but on one side only, and in which of the two hearts one is sure to be broken."
Oscar Wilde, An Ideal Husband

A friend sent me the following story and in a world where divorce has become so sensational that it consumes the headlines - thank you A-Rod and Christie Brinkley - I couldn't help but appreciate its relevance. What happens when you wake up one morning and realize that the person sleeping next to you isn't the person you thought you'd married? "Father Pat Connor, a 79-year-old Catholic priest has spent his celibate life — including nine years as a missionary in India — mulling connubial bliss. His decades of marriage counseling led him to distill some “mostly common sense” advice about how to dodge mates who would maul your happiness."

“Hollywood says you can be deeply in love with someone and then your marriage will work,” the twinkly eyed, white-haired priest says. “But you can be deeply in love with someone to whom you cannot be successfully married.”

Oh so true. I will never forget the story Pastor Ken Gurley told during a Worth the Wait seminar once about a (very young) couple who wanted to get married and when he asked them how they were going to survive financially they actually had the audacity to tell him they would "live on love." Right. Good luck with that. Let me know how it goes when he asks what's for dinner and you say "love" or when the electric company sends the bill and you write "love" in the paid by line.

Father Connor's marital advice can be summed up in the following 9 points:

1. Never marry a man who has no friends.

Amen! Hallelujah! Glory to God!
This usually means that he will be incapable of the intimacy that marriage demands. I am always amazed at the number of men I have counseled who have no friends. Since, as the Hebrew Scriptures say, ‘Iron shapes iron and friend shapes friend,’ ask yourself - what are his friends like?

2. “Does he use money responsibly? Is he stingy? Most marriages that founder do so because of money — she’s thrifty, he’s on his 10th credit card.

3. Steer clear of someone whose life you can run, who never makes demands counter to yours.
It’s good to have a doormat in the home, but not if it’s your husband.
Here's a personal tid-bit for you. I've never met a woman who thinks that wimpiness is attractive. There's a reason that manly men are more attractive.

4. Is he overly attached to his mother and her mythical apron strings?

I know some men who could benefit from this advice.

5. Does he have a sense of humor?
That covers a multitude of sins. My mother was once asked how she managed to live harmoniously with three men — my father, brother and me. Her answer, delivered with awesome arrogance, was: ‘You simply operate on the assumption that no man matures after the age of 11.’ My father fell about laughing.

6. A therapist friend insists that ‘more marriages are killed by silence than by violence.’ The strong, silent type can be charming but ultimately destructive. Ouch. That's a bit harder to swallow. I love the strong silent types. ~sigh~ John Wayne.
That world-class misogynist, Paul of Tarsus, got it right when he said, ‘In all your dealings with one another, speak the truth to one another in love that you may grow up.’

7. Don’t marry a problem character thinking you will change him. People are the same after marriage as before, only more so.

8. Take a good, unsentimental look at his family — you’ll learn a lot about him and his attitude towards women.
Is there a history of divorce in the family? An atmosphere of racism, sexism or prejudice in his home? Are his goals and deepest beliefs worthy and similar to yours? Imagine a religious fundamentalist married to an agnostic. One would have to pray that the fundamentalist doesn’t open the Bible and hit the page in which Abraham is willing to obey God and slit his son’s throat.

9. Does he possess those character traits that add up to a good human being — the willingness to forgive, praise, be courteous? Or is he inclined to be a fibber, to fits of rage, to be a control freak, to be envious of you, to be secretive?

Well, that certainly narrows the field but a guy (or gal) like that would definitely be worth waiting for.

Everyone's Apostolic

Late last week Kent asked me to check out a new web-networking site he'd been invited to join - Everyone's Apostolic. Well, what with my busy holiday weekend galavanting around the city with my family I didn't have a chance to look into it. So imagine my surprise when I showed up at work this morning and had an invite of my own (and no, not from Kent, I do have other friends)!

About five years ago, Everyone's Connected became a huge craze among Apostolics - even though it was never intended to be solely for Apostolic use. It was a cleaner, safer environment than MySpace and it wasn't long until it seemed you could find anyone you may have ever known in Apostolic circles on EC. Sometime in the past six months or so (I honestly have no idea when) EC became Ubuti and there is simply no polite way to put it - Ubuti stinks (so maybe that was semi-polite). Well, someone finally got the bright idea to create a site for Apostolics modeled off of the networking site craze and that's where Everyone's Apostolic comes in.

I spent about an hour on the site this morning setting up a profile and looking at some of the features. So far I can only say GREAT things about it. It has the simplicity and the best features of EC/MySpace/Facebook combined. You can upload photos, blog for everyone to read, upload and share music and join all kinds of groups that share your interests - Apostolic Chef's, Apostolic Hair-Dos (very important with it being camp season and GC coming up). There is also space for advertising if you have a business you'd like to promote. By far my favorite feature is just how easy it is to search for potential friends. You can search by name, location, age, relationship status, AND church attending.

It is by invitation only so if you're interested in joining let me know and as long as I can vouch for the fact that you're not totally debauched we'll see what we can do. If you're already on there I'd love 1) be your friend and 2) know what you think about it!

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Faith and Film

Here is a link to an interview of one of my favorite writers, Craig Detweiler.  He is one author who carefully examines the fruit of pop culture (specifically films) to find depth and even the sacred among what high-culture lovers sneeringly call "the entertainment of the masses."  In this interview he discusses his upcoming book, this summers' popular films, and some of the greatest films of all time.  If you love God and you love movies, you won't want to miss it.


Josh R

News Flash!: Jesus Maybe Messiah After All!

An ancient tablet has come to light that could transform biblical scholarship. This three-foot stone contains 87 lines of Hebrew text written in ink, not engraved, on its face. Dating from the decades before Jesus' birth, it seems to describe a coming messianic figure who will suffer and die, but be raised again after three days. If this is the case, it would suggest that there was the idea of a suffering messiah in Israel before Jesus.

The scholarly assumption has been that there was no such idea before Jesus--that Jesus' role as a suffering messiah was completely unique. Of course Jesus being merely a Jewish teacher would never have claimed such a novel role for himself. The idea of Jesus as suffering messiah must have been added only after his death by his followers seeking to find meaning in the crucifixion. Such assumptions also lead to the widely discredited idea that Paul was the true architect of Christianity, basing his own teachings on a warped view of who Jesus actually was. This discovery has the potential to turn all that around.

If this was an idea that was already popular in Jewish thought, it would allow Jesus to have been a Jewish teacher, and everything else the Gospels claim for him. Of course, the idea of a suffering messiah does no more to dilute Jesus' mission than the idea of a messianic triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Such a prophecy as the one presumably written on this tablet could be an indication of God's voice being heard by those listening in preparation for the birth of Jesus. This would not be unprecedented, as even the Magi astrologically divined the birth of a king and the exact location.

It will be interesting to see how all of this turns out. As more scholars are able to view the text itself, there will be more interpretations as to what is actually being proclaimed (the condition of the artifact reflects its age, many of the words are missing or faded). This could turn out to be a very interesting historical addition to the story of Jesus, giving us more insight into the world that he grew up and ministered in. For a theology nerd like me this is very, very fascinating.

Josh R

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Fresh Thoughts: Aspen Ideas Festival

The ridiculously expensive (read: I'm completely envious) Aspen Ideas Festival is in progress in Aspen, Colorado.

World (thought) leaders share panels, give addresses & generally offer exceptional insight into our contemporary world on culture, politics, media, and so much more. Blogs and video clips here.

Guerrilla Gardening?

You know, the fourth of July is all about remembering the founding of this nation. But when I think about our nation's founding, I think about rebels who were willing to die for the cause of freedom. I think about people who stood against a king because they felt that they should be free to govern themselves. To tell you the truth, if I think too much about it (like if I watch The Patriot or something) I start getting in a revolutionary mood myself. But what to rebel against? What cause can I support that fights The Man, but doesn't go against my Christian morals?

Then I discovered guerrilla gardening. People who desire to see more beauty in their cities, but find cutting through red tape and government bureaucracy nigh impossible, are taking matters into their own hands. Guerrilla gardening can take on many forms. Some people sneak in under the cover of darkness and plant flowers and other plants in the medians of highways. Others find a vacant lot and start a vegetable garden. Still others simply take care of areas that are neglected by the city.

Guerrilla gardening has in the past been tied to radical environmentalist groups seeking to redefine land ownership. But it has grown beyond those beginnings to include many people who just want more beauty in their cities. Taking ownership of the problems is a serious step toward a solution. And taking ownership of caring for your city is certainly a noble cause. In a way, it's like getting involved with God in creation--getting back to humanity's original task, tending the garden.

So this weekend why not get together a group of friends, make a quick trip to the local plant store, and bring beauty where there was none. You know deep down inside your a rebel anyway.

Josh R

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Independence Weekend!!!

Yes, the 4th of July has become such a big deal that I can no longer celebrate it in just one day. Sort of like my friend Andy who doesn't celebrate just his birthday but the entire week of his birth so that we're blessed with what has been termed "Andy-gras".

Anyway, back to the topic at hand. It's Independence Day eve here in the Big Apple and I thought I'd give you a little peek into how the city celebrates. Last year I shared my fireworks pictures with you but since the fireworks aren't until tomorrow this year we're going to play a little game. Too often people think of Boston, Philadelpia, etc. when they think of how the U.S. gained her independence. However, New York also played a pivitol role. So without further ado, I give you:

10 Fun Facts About New York and American Independence

10. Three-times as many patriots died in jails in New York and on prison ships in the harbor as the number killed in all the battles of the eight-year war. Approximately one-third of the skirmishes and engagements of the war were fought on New York soil.

9. Nathan Hale, the most famous martyr to the cause of American liberty, was hung in Manhattan after making his famous statement, "I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country." Hale, a Yale graduate and school teacher, had enlisted in the American army as a lieutenant and been promoted to captain of an elite unit. He volunteered to enter New York after the British occupation as a spy to gather information for George Washington. He was captured with valuable intelligence stored in his boots.

8. St. Paul's Chapel is the only surviving church in New York of the Revolutionary era. St. Paul's was completed in 1766 on what was then the northern edge of the city. Washington came here for a special service after his inauguration on April 30, 1789. He continued to attend services at the chapel during the two years that New York served as the capital of the United States.

7. Trinity Church was chartered by King William III in 1697 but was destroyed when the British burned New York in 1776. When the British evacuated the city on Nov. 25, 1783, the Americans marched into New York and stood near Trinity Church as a salute of 13 guns was fired marking the end of the war. Alexander Hamilton is buried there and there are several war monuments in the surrounding grounds.

6. The steps of Federal Hall were the site of Washington's inaguration as first POTUS (President of the United States) on April 30, 1789 and on September 25, 1789 Congress adopted the Bill of Rights inside Federal Hall.

5. Fraunces Tavern was a meeting place of the Sons of Liberty prior to the start of the war and continued to serve as host for meetings and government offices well after the war. On Dec. 4, 1783, Washington met here one last time with his officers before resigning in the hopes of avoiding the fate of many republics that turned quickly to military dictatorship.

4. On July 9, 1776, after hearing the Declaration of Independence read in City Hall Park, the people and soldiers headed to Fort George at the tip of Manhattan where they proceeded to pull down the statue of King George III and melt it to make bullets.

3. The first submarine attack took place just off of Liberty Island (then known as Bedloe Island) in August 1776. During training to work the submarine - the creation of a local engineer - fishermen reported stories of a sea monster in the harbor. It wasn't successful in destroying the British ship but the use of a submarine was unprescedented.

2. The Battle of Long Island (or the Battle of Brooklyn) was the largest battle of the war and was the first battle fought after the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Spanning just over 24 hours it is estimated that between 350 - 600 Americans died while over 1,100 were captured. The following night Washington and his commanders stealthily sneaked the remaining 9,000 American troops across the East River into Manhattan - past 400 British ships. **side note** I love this information because I'm living in Brooklyn right on top of where all this happened. Who knows who was marching or camping where I'm not sleeping.

1. John Greenwood is buried in Green-Wood Cemetery (no relation). Greenwood was not a general or some other hero. Rather he was a dentist. The dentist who made George Washington's false teeth in fact (and no, they weren't actually wooden).

So the next time you stop to think about how America gained her Independence remember to think about all that New York sacraficed too. Historian David McCullough brought the point home while discussing one of the earliest drawings of the city of New York.

"It was some houses and a dock for boats. And I looked at the drawing of that little place and thought not just of the history that would take place there, but of all the music that will be played there, the books that will be written there, the poetry, drama and the architecture that will come from there. There will be no city like it on earth."

Have a fabulous 4th!!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

In Promotion of Un-Illiteracy

As evidence that I really can read (and non-fiction too!) allow me to recommend this book review.  Featured on the Barnes and Noble website is a review of the book Original Sin: A Cultural History by Alan Jacobs.  Original sin is the concept that we are born sinful, and that even infants are in need of the redemptive work of Christ.  Wrestling with the concept of who needs salvation and the grace and fairness of God is surely no easy task.  Jacobs tackles this task head on in such a way that even non-believers would find informative and "worthwhile."  His approach, addressing an important theological concept using a historical approach, has earned this book a spot on my Amazon wish list .  (But if you decide to buy me anything, don't forget to go through the 90&9 link).


Josh R