Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Q: The Christian TED


Q is the Christian equivalent of the highly regarded TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) Conference. The basic concept is cutting edge minds, in their respective callings, share talks of no more than 18 minutes. Both offer incredible content to ponder and apply.

For instance, listen to "Christianity in 1,000 Years" by the co-creator of Wired magazine. You'll be thinking about his points for quite a while.

Then tell us what you think!

Monday, June 29, 2009

My Calling: How Do You Encourage Others?

This week's cover story offers several opinions on the best way to help others pursue their calling from God.

You've read theirs, now let's hear what you do when you encourage other believers.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Twitter in Iran


"Twitter on the Barricades: Six Lessons Learned" is an even-handed analysis on the effects of Twitter on the Iranian demonstrations—and a peek into the future of its liabilities & assets for future movements and the media that covers them.

In The New York Times, Noam Cohen writes:

“But does the label Twitter Revolution, which has been slapped on the two most recent events, oversell the technology? Skeptics note that only a small number of people used Twitter to organize protests in Iran and that other means — individual text messaging, old-fashioned word of mouth and Farsi-language Web sites — were more influential. But Twitter did prove to be a crucial tool in the cat-and-mouse game between the opposition and the government over enlisting world opinion.”


It is interesting that is (somewhat) concludes that Twitter continues to be oversold in the West.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Timing Is Everything


To prove South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford is an even bigger idiot than we thought yesterday, if he would have waited just 24 hours to make his adultery revelation, no one would have cared because the king of pop died of a heart attack. Timing is everything in politics!

We're gonna get Princess Di coverage for the next 2 weeks & an adulterous governor from a small state wouldn't have caught anyone's attention but political junkies. Probably no one would've been at the news conference.


Still True

"Always release bad news on Friday afternoons" (or in this case, Thursday afternoons), has never been truer.

So where were you when you heard Michael Jackson died? (My son called me from home while I was at work. Many co-workers were stunned into silence.) Is this a significant cultural moment?

I'd like to see what some Pentecostals think!

A Former Pentecostal, An African-American Woman, and a Jewish Rabbi Walk Into a Synagogue...

Alyssa Stanton is about to become the first African-American woman to be ordained as a rabbi by a mainstream Jewish seminary.  As if that were not an interesting enough combination, she is also a former Pentecostal.  Such a journey has been difficult to say the least.  "Most of my Christian friends thought I’d grown horns,” she said. “Many of my African-American friends thought I’d sold out. And the Jewish community was less than welcoming."  But such difficulty has, if nothing else, helped her to stay humble in spite of the historical nature of her appointment.  “I feel awe and a healthy dose of fear about being the first,” she said. “I try to keep it simple. I am a Jew, and I will die a Jew.”

 

josh r

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Kid's Power Up!


Hi,

I’m Mike the Microphone, and I live at Hope Church with my friends, Melody the Keyboard, Pete the Pulpit, and Ben the Bible. We have some wonderful adventures at Hope Church. After everyone goes home from church, things (that’s us) really power up!

If you want to get in on the fun, all you have to do is go to www.kidspowerup.com and click on the stories listed there. You can join us any time and have your pick of stories. We’ll be looking for you.

++++++++

It might be what you're looking for for your 5-7 year-olds!

Does Your God Suck?

This article is not for every church, but it is very thought-provoking.  Does your god suck?  Is the god you serve truly the God of the Bible, or an American god of convenience?  Good read.  Let it challenge you.

 

For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough.

2 Corinthians 11:4

 

josh r

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The End of Christian Media?

As the Internet makes everything more accessible, the bursting of the Christian/Evangelical sub-cultural bubble appears to be imminent.  Christian magazines are disappearing from print like believers in a Left Behind Rapture scene.  But, as this article from Newsweek points out, it goes deeper than the general trend away from print media. 

 

Christian magazines are having a difficult time staying cutting-edge because similar content can now be found in many popular magazines or websites.  Christian bookstores are also suffering because people can now purchase or read books online for much cheaper.  But these effects are being felt by magazines and bookstores everywhere.  Products that label themselves as "Christian" also have to deal with the breaking up of the Evangelical movement as a whole.  More and more Evangelicals are becoming less willing to identify themselves with the Evangelical movement as a whole.  Consequently, they are more open to other sources of information and advice.  "This next generation, they can read a marriage magazine or a parenting magazine and filter it through their Christian worldview..."

 

So what is happening to all the Christian artists?  Some of them are finding acceptance in the scary world of mainstream culture.  Christian singers, film-makers, and yes, even writers are finding a more welcoming environment for quality art, even what we have typically labeled "Christian."  Seems like a good time for APs to be pursuing "unusual" callings .

 

josh r

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Facebook Status Updates and Youth Camp

I promise to blog about something other than Facebook and Twitter in the near future. But this is just too good.

My 17 year old daughter (really adopted niece for those of you who accurately pointed out that I'm not old enough to have a 17 year old) agreed to feed the neighbor's animals while they are on vacation this week.

Problem: this week is Louisiana Senior Camp and she is there. Solution: Daddy feeds the animals.

So all I did was update my Facebook status with a simple question about the trickle down effect of animal feeding duties.

My daughter texts me within two minutes because apparently they could have just as well made a special announcement during church.

I'm lovin' mobile technology.

Monday, June 15, 2009

My Weird Ministry


We asked a panel of Apostolic believers what to do if God seems to be calling you into an unusual, even a weird, ministry. Here's what they said.

Now we'd like to hear what you say. Comment here.

Pictures Of Tyranny


Want to see how confident Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is in his "landlside" Iranian victory? In high-resolution?

Click the image to see what happens when one challenges the Imamic supremacy of a pint-sized, islamic nutcase with a members-only jacket. My only question is: was ACORN somehow involved with this?

I will invoke a content warning at the outset. The picture above is consistent with the series you're going to see, with a few very bloody photos blacked out--ones that require you to click them in an elective fashion. My advice? Click them. Click them and understand two things:
  1. That the Obama administration wants roundtable talks with these people "without preconditions."
  2. That he thinks nuclear technology is safe in the hands of these people.
-R

Lettermen Apologizes To Sarah Palin

The immediate thought says that it's the burgeoning protests outside his studio, along with a surprisingly-building snowball of outrage driving this, but it looks like David Lettermen apologized for his crass, disrespectful-and-worthy-of-a-father's-smackdown joke.

Maybe it's because even perpetually-outraged National Organization for Women--not known for acknowledging the humanity and femininity of women to the right of Margaret Sanger--also weighed in with a denunciation.

Either way, Dave's done the right thing--even if for the wrong reasons and even if he does try to initially create a gulf of triviality between targeting Bristol instead of Willow. Full text, as aired tonight:

All right, here - I’ve been thinking about this situation with Governor Palin and her family now for about a week - it was a week ago tonight, and maybe you know about it, maybe you don’t know about it. But there was a joke that I told, and I thought I was telling it about the older daughter being at Yankee Stadium. And it was kind of a coarse joke. There’s no getting around it, but I never thought it was anybody other than the older daughter, and before the show, I checked to make sure in fact that she is of legal age, 18. Yeah. But the joke really, in and of itself, can’t be defended. The next day, people are outraged. They’re angry at me because they said, ‘How could you make a lousy joke like that about the 14-year-old girl who was at the ball game?’ And I had, honestly, no idea that the 14-year-old girl, I had no idea that anybody was at the ball game except the Governor and I was told at the time she was there with Rudy Giuliani…And I really should have made the joke about Rudy…” (audience applauds) “But I didn’t, and now people are getting angry and they’re saying, ‘Well, how can you say something like that about a 14-year-old girl, and does that make you feel good to make those horrible jokes about a kid who’s completely innocent, minding her own business,’ and, turns out, she was at the ball game. I had no idea she was there. So she’s now at the ball game and people think that I made the joke about her. And, but still, I’m wondering, ‘Well, what can I do to help people understand that I would never make a joke like this?’ I’ve never made jokes like this as long as we’ve been on the air, 30 long years, and you can’t really be doing jokes like that. And I understand, of course, why people are upset. I would be upset myself.

“And then I was watching the Jim Lehrer ‘Newshour’ - this commentator, the columnist Mark Shields, was talking about how I had made this indefensible joke about the 14-year-old girl, and I thought, ‘Oh, boy, now I’m beginning to understand what the problem is here. It’s the perception rather than the intent.’ It doesn’t make any difference what my intent was, it’s the perception. And, as they say about jokes, if you have to explain the joke, it’s not a very good joke. And I’m certainly - ” (audience applause) “- thank you. Well, my responsibility - I take full blame for that. I told a bad joke. I told a joke that was beyond flawed, and my intent is completely meaningless compared to the perception. And since it was a joke I told, I feel that I need to do the right thing here and apologize for having told that joke. It’s not your fault that it was misunderstood, it’s my fault. That it was misunderstood.” (audience applauds) “Thank you. So I would like to apologize, especially to the two daughters involved, Bristol and Willow, and also to the Governor and her family and everybody else who was outraged by the joke. I’m sorry about it and I’ll try to do better in the future. Thank you very much.” (audience applause)

-R

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Pentecostal Job Opportunity

President Timothy A. Dugas Resigns
Trustees Begin Executive Search

SAINT LOUIS, MO - May 22, 2009 - Reverend Timothy A. Dugas has announced his decision to resign as president of Gateway College of Evangelism. His sixteen years of service as president mark the longest tenure in the history of the College. President Dugas is an alumnus of Gateway, and prior to serving as president, he was a member of the board of directors of the College.

Gateway has made significant progress in every area of operation during his tenure as president, including improvements to the campus buildings and property, enhancements in faculty retention and educational qualifications, and an aggressive pursuit of regional accreditation. President Dugas and Gateway remain committed to the challenging accreditation process, which has already resulted in across-the-board improvements in the operation of the college.

The board of trustees has appointed a presidential search committee to search for suitable candidates for the office of the presidency. Until this process is complete, Reverend Dugas will continue to serve the College as president. He remains committed to the mission of the College and has pledged his active support for Gateway College of Evangelism.

Friday, June 12, 2009

A Rejoinder Of Class

The video below, if it does nothing else, completely obliterates the aura of idiocy concerning Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.

Chalk it up to the constraints placed upon her by the woefully-inept McCain camp, and buttressed by the air-headed front-loading of her image by Saturday Night Live's Tina Fey, but neither image are in play as she graciously deflects Matt Lauer's tepid defense of David Lettermen.

First off, when it comes to Alaska energy policy, the woman's a Jedi. When it comes to a gracious defense of her family, even Lauer has to concede (albeit backing up to do it) that Lettermen comes off as some "aw-shucks, erstwhile supernova with a hankering for underage girls. Although, those are my words:

Visit msnbc.com for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy



And all done without waving off her opposition as peasants and building her rhetorical legacy on the teleprompter.

-R

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Sarah Palin Derangement Syndrome

I blogged once, rather satirically, that the reason the hard political left hated Sarah Palin was because she didn't live up to Team Feminism's creeds about not allowing a Down Syndrome baby to see the light of day.

Now, I think that's part of it, but with some amendment.

I also blogged about how a flamboyantly gay man (Perez Hilton) was allowed to to refer to former Miss California titleholder , Carrie Prejean, in incendiary and sexually-degrading terms on a mainstream news outlet with not a single register of outrage from that same media strata. In their defence, they perhaps saw this as a fight between two women, but I doubt a hard, biological vetting would come to the same conclusion.

Either way, any and all press referrals to Miss California (including her recent title loss) always--always include her supposedly "controversial" imposition of her opinion in an otherwise static environment.

Let's look at this bit of stupidity in loose syllogistic form:

  1. Over the top, effeminate dandy asks Miss California a question that requires her to disseminate between two viable options: "yes," and "no."
  2. Under dressed, but far more-appealing than Hilton, Prejean, picks option number 2.
  3. All the Western world erupts as if she picked a third option, outside the parameters of the question.
And it has become vogue to still continually trash her. I mean with palpable hate. All because she (graciously) allowed her conviction to be known--when solicited for it.

But is was David Letterman's recent, out-of-remission bout with Palin Derangement Syndrome that got me thinking about what Ravi Zacharias contends as the philosophical argument having the most effect at the visual and artistic level. To wit: Family values based on biblical principles seem to be at least perceived to have more impact when delivered by beautiful women with grounded principles. And they must be stopped dead cold.

Why else would Mr. Letterman need to refer to her as dressed like a "slutty flight attendant" in one monologue and then joke about her underage daughter being sexually assaulted by Alex Rodriguez in another? On his mainstream show?





Where along the road to discourse did the supposedly "tolerant" left get idea it was okay to blatantly assault the sexual virtue and purity of people who simply disagree with you on abortion and gay marriage? Or--go after their children? You hear a single person booing that joke? I didn't. I heard the applause from Nero's coliseums.

And people think the wholesale corralling of the Christian couldn't happen in this country. Think again. It will happen someday--with impunity--and Letterman will still manage a rim-shot punchline over lions and orphaned children.

If the world hates the virtues of Christ so much, and are willing to destroy the possessors of those virtues, then wait until they simply find it more convenient to eliminate the source of those virtues and the ones who possess Him.

Are you ready? Because it's getting cold in here. And fast.

-R

Monday, June 08, 2009

Calling: How Do You Know?

This week's cover story on 90&9 examines the pressing question: "How do you know what you’re called to do by God?"

We asked a host of believers in many walks of life from many geographic locations to share their thoughts. Happily, there is a fascinating set of answers.

Now we'd like to hear from you: "How do you know?"

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Another Reason for Optimism

New Life Center in Bridgeton, MO has had a thriving Spanish work/church for several years now. They host services in our gymnasium, with socials, etc on their own schedule.

About 3 times a year, we have a joint Spanish-English Sunday night service w/the Spanish church hosting the service - leading songs in both languages, testimonies (w/translation), & of course the preaching with a translator. It's always a wonderful time w/a strong move of God. (Plus, 3-4 people received the Holy Ghost!)

Except Tonight . . .

CNN was there w/a cameraman and microphone guy (gaffer?) racing about service the entire time. Seems CNN is compiling footage for a special report on why so many Latinos in America are leaving the Catholic Church to become Pentecostals.

David vs Goliath

The May 11 issue of the New Yorker is especially meaty & juicy, w/fascinating articles on neuroscience, Gerard Manley Hopkins (the Catholic innovator of English poetry), China's first(?) great contemporary filmmaker, Eugene O'Neil's love triangles & more.

The best piece though is Malcolm Gladwell's fascinating "How David Beats Goliath," in which he dissects girl's basketball, Lawrence of Arabia, modern & ancient warfare, and yes, one reason young David beat the gigantic, professional warrior. Or as Gladwell writes:

"When they finally arrived at Aqaba, Lawrence’s band of several hundred warriors killed or captured twelve hundred Turks, and lost only two men. The Turks simply did not think that their opponent would be mad enough to come at them from the desert. This was Lawrence’s great insight. David can beat Goliath by substituting effort for ability—and substituting effort for ability turns out to be a winning formula for underdogs in all walks of life, including little blond-haired girls on the basketball court."

and

"Insurgents, though, operate in real time. Lawrence hit the Turks, in that stretch in the spring of 1917, nearly every day, because he knew that the more he accelerated the pace of combat the more the war became a battle of endurance—and endurance battles favor the insurgent. “And it happened as the Philistine arose and was drawing near David that David hastened and ran out from the lines toward the Philistine,” the Bible says. “And he reached his hand into the pouch and took from there a stone and slung it and struck the Philistine in his forehead.” The second sentence—the slingshot part—is what made David famous. But the first sentence matters just as much. David broke the rhythm of the encounter. He speeded it up. “The sudden astonishment when David sprints forward must have frozen Goliath, making him a better target,” the poet and critic Robert Pinsky writes in “The Life of David.” Pinsky calls David a “point guard ready to flick the basketball here or there.” David pressed. That’s what Davids do when they want to beat Goliaths."

and

"We tell ourselves that skill is the precious resource and effort is the commodity. It’s the other way around. Effort can trump ability—legs, in Saxe’s formulation, can overpower arms—because relentless effort is in fact something rarer than the ability to engage in some finely tuned act of motor co√∂rdination."

Read it all, then read some response on Gladwell's blog. It'll make you rethink any type of leadership you're part of!

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Obama's Blackberry

Excerpts from the hilarious upcoming book are here.

I think I like the Biden message best. No, the Clarence Thomas one. Nita likes the Schwarzenegger one best.

Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Angels Singing With Eric Bibb

I know I've posted about him before, but I had the opportunity to take in a concert by one of my favorite blues/gospel singers, a one Mr. Eric Bibb. This time, I drove a few hours to see him. Last time, I was his courtesy driver.

To say that he a is a most gracious and humble human being would still be an understatement. If everyone in world had the spirit this man has in person, there would be little or no human abrasiveness. I've met many in show business, but Mr. Bibb goes on record as being the nicest in my experience.

Plus, he has the ability to turn a largely secular audience into a live church service with most of his stuff. While this clip is not from the show I was at (he was solo), I yelled "That'll preach, Eric at the end. He says, "looks like we've got a genuine holy roller sitting out there," as he smiled.

Enjoy the clip, with its room-ambient quality and all.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Abortion, Dialogues, And The Murder Of Dr. Tiller

Bruce Lee once said that "the greatest response to a punch is to not be there." In my life, being a guy who is considered reasonably funny, jovial with an opinionated backdrop, I have tried to apply this axiom when someone attempts to hem me in publicly over a hot button issue. What can be easily turfed off as dismissive sarcasm really acts as a valve; a sort of verbal disarmament that allows me to reduce the rancor to tolerable levels of audibility.

When I read that high-profile doctor and gleeful performer of partial birth abortions, Dr. George Tiller had been gunned down by an at-the-time-unknown assailant, I knew I would be called upon by a certain acquaintance to square my unequivocal opposition to abortion to the fact that Mr. Tiller was ushering in his house of worship. I was right on time about it, too.

"So, does the fact that Tiller was shot at church strike you as the least bit ironic?" he asked.

"Bet they had a small nursery," I said.

He just stared at me and then said "Man I hate you sometimes."

Now, left to itself, the acidic irony of my response alone is a shutter-upper. I did it precisely to stop what he thought would be a public garroting of me in front of others. But that wasn't my entire goal. I of course immediately condemned the murder of this man. But it allowed me the opportunity to take the lead. Because my pro-life position neither caused this, nor fomented an atmosphere that condones it. And they that obsess over killing babies are not going to get away with being that intellectually lazy about their obsession when using me as their whipping boy. If they're going to paint me as a supporter of violence on this level, then they simply are going to have to work for it. And that includes my friends.

"The problem is, between the two of us, I am the only one with a consistent belief about this situation." I said. "I believe Dr. Tiller was murdered. I also happen to believe he was a state-sanctioned killer himself. So I am valuing human life on both ends of the equation. You can't even solve for 'x' on this one."

He denied the inequality, on the usual grounds, but admitted I was more consistent. And really, his Darwinistic worldview would be more consistent if he simply found nothing wrong with doctor Tiller's murder, which of course, he doesn't (nor would I admire for consistency's sake). And I am becoming more and more convinced that the almost infernal fervor that surrounds the abortion advocacy can have much of its DNA traced to The Origin of the Species. Even Darwin himself complained of nausea, and cold chills by even contemplating the complexity of the human eye. Advocates take on a palpable tremor, a vociferating glottal fry to their passion that transcends a simple concern for the sovereignty of the body. Prostitution advocates, recreational drug-use advocates and the like do not raise the urgency of their causes to preposterous levels of spiritual gravity.

But then again, they are not staring right into the womb, and thus right into the face of God. Abortion is a futile attempt to nullify the creative process at the only place it can originate; a feckless and deadly attempt to burn down the Garden of Eden.

Some news organizations have said this occurrence has the pro-life community on edge about their latitude to discuss the issue. I happen to feel just the opposite is true. Despite Mr. Tiller's devout adherence to a Reformed Lutheran faith, he took a particular, Sweeny Todd-like joy in dispatching over 60,000 babies--many of them in fashions and at stages that made even many in his own camp wince.

It is therefore, the discomfort of the pro-choice community, to have to re-explain and re-convince an increasingly pro-life culture that a woman can contract a disease--incurable by any hippocratic medical standards, and unmanageable by any medicinal mitigation, that requires vacuuming the brains from a fully-developed infant, delivered breach save for it's head, in order to save a mother's life.

And this--is where the dialogue needs to stay.