Thursday, September 30, 2010
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Carmelo is playing in Denver this year. He may opt out after the season, or he may get traded in February at the deadline, if he won't commit to the team.
But, he's not getting traded before the season starts. Most of this has been hype. The only thing we know for sure is that Carmelo doesn't want to be in Denver for 3 more years. He's happy to play this year out. And, with the collective bargaining agreement expiring. . who knows how much he will be able to get paid next year. . . or if there will even be a "next year" for the NBA.
So, he's playing in Denver this year. . buckle up.
(if Carmelo is traded in the next few days. . this post never happened, and I knew it all along)
Thursday, September 23, 2010
Pastor Dave Bruskas:
. . . . . . But this means prioritizing worship (both private and public) in my life like Mary then planning for it to happen like Martha.
I think this has huge implications for us as a community. I have noticed recently many of our members inconsistently attend worship gatherings. There are good reasons to miss worship such as sickness and planned travel. So without creating legalistic rules, but with the hope of giving you a guideline for evaluation, let’s give some definition to “consistently”.
I think with a generous vacation plan to include 4 weeks a year and the healthy individual to be contagiously sick 2 Sundays per year, this would mean attending 46 out of 52 Sundays. Or missing one Sunday every other month. Please know that if your work causes you to miss worship from 9AM until 7PM Sunday, you really should consider finding another job that will allow you to be a part of community.
#2. This post is something that every youth pastor has wanted to scream at the top of his lungs. As a parent, I found it very convicting and challenging. Use the sarcasm in this post to look at some of the ways we can prioritize loving Jesus right out of our kids' lives. It's really long, so I'll give a link. . . Here. And I"ll copy the post: Go Marko!
open letter to parents of teens
SEPTEMBER 22, 2010
a youth ministry friend pointed out this amazing blog post, by scott linscott (didn’t his parents realize he already had a “scott” in his last name?). he writes as a parent of young adults. this is what so many of us youth workers have wanted to say to (some) parents over the years; and scott says it so well. with his permission, i’ll post it in its entirety here:
The church in America is puzzled. Young adults are leaving in droves. Magazines, books and blogs are wagging the finger of blame to point out who is responsible. Some say it is a failure of youth ministry, some point to church budgets and some nail the blame on outdated, unhip worship services. We parents are shocked that our kids just really aren’t all that into Jesus.
When I look for someone to blame I head into the restroom and look into a mirror. Yupp, there he is. I blame him. That parent looking back at me is where I have to start.
If you’re a parent, I’m might tick you off in this post. But, hear me out. I think that we, as parents are guilty of some things that make it easy for our kids to put faith low on their priority list.
Keys to Making Your Kids Apathetic About Faith
1) Put academic pursuits above faith-building activities. Encourage your child to put everything else aside for academic gain. Afterall, when they are 24 and not interested in faith and following Christ, you’ll still be thrilled that they got an A in pre-calculus, right? Instead of teaching them balance, teach them that all else comes second to academics. Quick … who graduated in the top 5 of your high school class? Unless you were one of them, I bet you have no idea. I don’t.
2) Chase the gold ball first and foremost. Afterall, your child is a star. Drive 400 miles so your child can play hockey but refuse to take them to a home group bible study because it’s 20 minutes away.
2b) Buy into the “select,” “elite,” “premier” titles for leagues that play outside of the school season and take pride in your kid wearing the label. Hey now, he’s an All-Star! No one would pay $1000 for their kid to join, “Bunch-of-kids-paying-to-play Team.” But, “Elite?!?” Boy, howdy! That’s the big time!
2c) Believe the school coach who tells you that your kid won’t play if he doesn’t play in the offseason. The truth is, if your kid really is a star, he could go to Disney for the first week of the season and come back and start for his school team. The determined coach might make him sit a whole game to teach him a lesson. But, trust me, if Julie can shoot the rock for 20 points a game, she’s in the lineup. I remember a stellar soccer athlete who played with my son in high school. Chris missed the entire preseason because of winning a national baseball championship. With no workouts, no double sessions, his first day back with the soccer team, he started and scored two goals. Several hard-working “premier” players sat on the bench and watched him do it. (Chris never played soccer outside the school season but was a perpetual district all-star selection.) The hard reality is, if your kid is not a star, an average of 3 new stars a year will play varsity as freshmen. That means there’s always 12 kids who are the top prospects. Swallow hard and encourage your kid to improve but be careful what you sacrifice to make him a star at little Podunk High here in Maine.
2d) By the way, just because your kid got a letter inviting him to attend a baseball camp in West Virginia does not mean he is being recruited. You’ll know when recruiting happens. Coaches start calling as regularly as telemarketers, they send your kid handwritten notes and they often bypass you to talk to your kid. A letter with a printed label from an athletic department is not recruitment. When a coach shows up to watch your kid play and then talks to you and your kid, that’s recruiting.
3) Teach your kid that the dollar is almighty. I see it all the time. Faith activities fly out the window when students say, “I’d like to, but I have to work.” Parents think jobs teach responsibility when, in reality, most students are merely accumulating wealth to buy the things they want. Our kids learn that faith activities should be put aside for the “responsibility” of holding a job. They will never again get to spend 100% of their paychecks on the stuff they want.
3b) Make them pay outright for faith activities like youth retreats and faith community activities while you support their sports, music, drama and endeavors with checks for camps and “select” groups and e8pensive equipment. This sends a loud and clear message of what you really want to see them involved in and what you value most. Complain loudly about how expensive a three-day youth event is but then don’t bat an eye when you pay four times that for a three-day sports camp.
4) Refuse to acknowledge that the primary motivating force in kids’ lives is relationship. Connections with others is what drives kids to be involved. It’s the reason that peer pressure is such a big deal in adolescence. Sending kids to bible classes and lectures is almost entirely ineffective apart from relationship and friendships that help them process what they learn. As kids share faith experiences like retreats, mission trips and student ministry fun, they build common bonds with one another that work as a glue to Christian community. In fact, a strong argument can be made that faith is designed to be lived in community with other believers. By doing all you can to keep your kids from experiencing the bonds of love in a Christian community, you help insure that they can easily walk away without feeling like they are missing anything. Kids build friendships with the kids they spend time with.
5) Model apathy in your own life. If following Jesus is only about sitting in a church service once a week and going to meetings, young adults opt out. Teenagers and young adults are looking for things that are worth their time. Authentic, genuine, relevant relationships where people are growing in relationship with Jesus is appealing. Meaningless duty and ritual holds no attraction.
There are no guarantees that your children will follow Christ even if you have a vibrant, purposeful relationship with Him. But, on the other hand, if we, as parents do not do all we can to help our children develop meaningful relationships in Jesus, we miss a major opportunity to lead them and show them the path worth walking.
I want my kids to see that their dad follows Jesus with everything. I want them to know that my greatest hope for them is that they follow Him too.
Mt. 6:33 Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. (The Message)
On a personal note: I know the struggle. My wife and I have lived the struggle firsthand. My son was recruited by a few D1 NCAA schools for baseball and opted instead to attend a small D3 school. My daughter was recruited to play field hockey by a couple D2 programs and ended up playing D3 when the scholarship offer was not enough to make her top school affordable. Both played in “premier” leagues. Both got A’s in high school though we often told them not to stress out too much over it. Both are in honor societies in college and my son now has offers from UNC, Univ. of Wisconsin, Johns Hopkins and Weil Cornell for a Phd in Pharmacology. Neither ever missed a youth group retreat, conference or mission trip because of their sports or academic commitments. Both missed a game or two to attend faith-based activities. Both missed school for family vacations. Both held down part-time jobs in high school and learned to give employers advance notice for upcoming retreats. My son often changed into his baseball uniform at church to arrive in the third inning of Sunday games. Robin and I did all we could to make sure they connected in student ministry even when it meant driving straight from a tournament to a music festival at midnight so that they would not miss out. It was that important to us. My youngest, a culinary student, lost a restaurant job because he went on a mission trip. That’s fine. Thankfully, all 3 have strong faith walks today. That is due only to God’s grace. But, I do believe that our efforts and example helped them long for a community-based faith.
Monday, September 20, 2010
Sex Isn't Selling
- Tim Challies
several months ago, rather on a whim, I subscribed to Canadian Businessmagazine. It was one of those deals where I’d only pay a couple of bucks for the first 6 months and then the price would increase to normal levels. And for the first time ever, I actually went for it. But it’s worked out well; it’s quite a good magazine and I’ve been enjoying it. The very first article of the very first issue I received gave me a great starting point for a chapter in my book. That alone made it worth it to me.
This month’s issue features an article titled “Sex Isn’t Selling.” Of course it’s long been one of the truisms of marketing—sex sells. But this article contends that, for the first time in recent memory, sex is no longer selling. Sex no longer accomplishes what it once did; sex no longer piles up the profits.
The focus of the article is pornography and its coming decline. It seems that pornography has been unable to adapt to the realities of Web 2.0, realities that dictate that everything must be free. Or nearly everything. Porn producers are saying that they have seen revenue fall 80% over the past three years; Playboy is bleeding money and laying off staff; actors who were once paid $2000 a scene are now being paid just half of that; revenue for major distributors has fallen 30% in just the last year.
Pornography’s woes can partly be blamed on the economy—when people are in danger of missing a mortgage payment or are out of work, splurging on porn can be a bit of a stretch. But even more so, pornography has been victimized by a cultural shift. “The characteristics that once made sexual content a valuable commodity—the inaccessibility, the taboo—have evaporated. Cable television now offers naked vampires (HBO’s True Blood), naked gladiators (Startz’sSpartacus) and naked polygamists (HBO’s Big Love).” Such a change has been rather swift; it wasn’t too long ago that a movie like Basic Instinct was considered shocking and edgy; today it would barely make a ripple. “In 1995, Calvin Klein faced an investigation by the U.S. Justice Department on allegations its advertisements constituted child pornography; now, American Apparel can barely draw press coverage by using actual porn stars in porny poses in its ads.” The dirtiness of what made porn enticing, the allure of it, is now gone, lost in the background of a sexualized, pornified culture. That’s not to say that people don’t want sex and porn anymore—just that they won’t pay for it and that it won’t compel them to spend money. It’s become a boring kind of addiction or obsession, not a particularly interesting or exciting one.
There is a third factor cutting into porn’s profits and it’s the simple reality of Web 2.0—people want everything to be free and if it’s not, they’ll simply take it. We have grown accustomed to hearing that pornography is a business that grosses $10 billion a year in the United States. Pornographers say this is ridiculous; some suggest the actual number could be less than $1 billion. Not only is pornography pirated in a huge way, but it has also been unable to make the leap to Web 2.0. “Porn has been at the forefront of every modern leap from VCRs to the Internet, but Web 2.0, dominated by these tube and file-sharing sites, is the first technology in a century that pornographers have failed to exploit.” The industry has been forced to react by giving away more content for free which necessarily cuts into profits. There’s an old saying on the Internet: if you paid for porn, you flunked the Internet. This is more true today than ever. The new reality on the Net is that if it’s not free, people will either ignore it or pirate it. But they won’t pay.
This article in Canadian Business suggests that the porn industry is not only in decline, but in danger of imminent death. Unless it finds a way of reinventing itself, and doing so soon, it will go into eclipse. The dollars and the cents of it dictate a decline.
This is a good thing, obviously. Of course pornography itself won’t go away entirely. It’s too compelling, too alluring to just disappear. But it seems that, as with so many other areas, it will go from the realm of the professional to the amateur, from the big industry to the cottage industry. Many of us will cheer to see the industry crumble and fall apart.
And yet it’s not all good. What struck me as I read this article is this: I’m glad that the porn industry is struggling. I’m glad that they are going through particularly difficult times and I’m glad that people are beginning to forecast the end of the status quo. And yet I see as well that it is all happening for the wrong reasons. Pornography is suffering because of reasons related to morality, and yet it is a lower rather than a higher morality that is making the difference. It’s not that as a culture we are objecting to pornography on the grounds that it objectifies women or hardens the hearts of men. Rather, the culture has decided that it won’t pay for what it consumes and that it will take whatever it desires. And even worse, the culture has become so hardened to what used to be shocking, that no allure remains. “Sexual content has gone from scandalous to stale. It’s become the background noise of the culture.” Against the backdrop of all the smut around us, the mainstreaming of what used to be shocking, few consumers can muster outrage at much of anything.
In other words, pornography has succeeded so well that it has forced itself into decline. It has made sex so pervasive that it has become boring, so omnipresent that it no longer entices. It has no one but itself to blame.
Sunday, September 19, 2010
Saturday, September 18, 2010
I thought this was an insightful comment left here on the blog from Paul Ireland—worth highlighting:
In the whole discussion about Mormonism, I think we’re missing a big part of what is going on with Glenn Beck. The problem is not simply Mormonism. The problem is idolatry.
People who follow Glenn Beck may not become Mormon and reject the Trinity, but they will likely follow his Americolatry—his worship of our nation. His view of life rises and falls on the state of our country. Christians I know who follow Beck quickly get pulled into his idolatrous fervor that declares that our nation can be our savior.
Both the left and the right subscribe to this Americolatry. If our government does X, Y, and Z, then we will be joyful, satisfied, safe, and complete. Then we will live in heaven. But if the other guys get their way, it’ll be hell. In that equation, God is no longer our joy, our comfort, our satisfaction, our all. If God is brought into the conversation at all, it is to use God as a means for our own idolatrous ends. This kind of idolatry is very alluring and dangerous for Christians.
Friday, September 17, 2010
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Sunday, September 12, 2010
Saturday, September 11, 2010
Psalm 118:6-7 (New International Version)
6 The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid.
What can man do to me?
7 The LORD is with me; he is my helper.
I will look in triumph on my enemies.
And to my buddy who got his car dinged. . . I'm glad insurance is doing what they were paid to do. Enjoy the new body job on your car.
Thursday, September 9, 2010
Cut from the sides of these mountains