Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Poll Everywhere

This looks like an incredible tool for presentations. You allow people to respond to you on the fly, and the results are instantly added to your presentation. Pretty cool!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Corrupted Bible

Though I like a lot of the Apple products, I'm certainly not oblivious to the fact that they have their shortcomings. My friend Charlie leaned over to me Sunday morning at Church to show me what happened when he was trying to load a passage on his eBible program. Not an encouraging message.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Giving Tree

I just really get a kick out of this picture. And I grew up liking the book.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Last Will and Testament of Springfield Presbytery

In 1803, some ministers, including Barton W. Stone, withdrew from the Presbyterian Synod of Kentucky over some controversial teachings that these men were espousing. They formed the Springfield Presbytery, only to decide that all forms of denominationalism and division are contrary to the will of God. So they disbanded on June 28, 1804. In doing so, they all signed a document called the Last Will and Testament of Springfield Presbytery. In this document they laid out many principles that have continued to be central to what developed into the American Restoration Movement, from which Churches of Christ, Christian Churches (Disciples of Christ), and Independent Christian Churches evolved.

I've been researching a lot recently at the Disciples of Christ Historical Society. Their director of research, Mac Ice, gave me a copy of an 1808 reprinting of the LW&T. It was in the form of a 1-page pamphlet. Though it can be copied, there are a lot of stains and scratches (not to mention a tiny font) that make it hard to read. I wanted to try and recreate this document as closely as possible in a PDF format for anyone to download and print. If you are ever involved in a class pertaining to Restoration history, I believe this is a great handout to have people look over and discuss. Why not assign several groups of 2 or 3 a different Item to read, then talk about?

I think the study of history is very important, and am always interested in how we can help people get in touch with what all has happened in the past in relevant ways. You can download this document here.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

For You Fans of Photography

They've developed some new technology where you can focus your picture after you take it. Pretty amazing. That would have sure been handy in a lot of the old family photos. That would also help at sporting events where you're trying to take pictures through fences.

Check out the link.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Best Stump Speech Ever

I don't think I've ever seen a more intense plea for a nomination than this guy's. Wow. Rather unfortunate that we share some of the political leanings.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A Big Milestone for Me: My First Book

Now that it is actually in publication, I am pleased to announce that my first book is available for purchase. It is part of the brand new Flex curriculum published by 21st Century Christian.

Many churches consider curriculum, but for decades, curriculum has been on a set rotation of subjects that are only available at specified times. They have now produced a set of a la carte curriculum that is simply available to you whenever you want it. They have 2 options so far, with 2 more coming in August, and they will continue to add to the options in the upcoming months.

The advantage of this is that they are keeping the costs down, so as opposed to buying everyone a $16 book for your Bible class, you can get everyone one of these at $3.75 each.

My book is called The Story of God's People, and it is a very panoramic look at all of Biblical history from pre-creation up to what Scripture teaches about the end of time.

This comes from a class I taught at Old Hickory. I made a series of sophisticated handouts--if I may toot my own horn, which I pitched to 21st Century Christian. They told me that with a little reworking of the format, they wanted to publish them. I sincerely hope that this book will be a blessing to people; especially to those who want to understand more about how the Bible fits together.

I would be flattered to have you take a look at it. It is available here.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Dick Cheney Has No Pulse

No, seriously. Some kind of new heart technology. Dick Cheney actually doesn't have a pulse any more. That is bound to be some good fodder for the late night comedians.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Sometimes Failure Isn't Necessarily Bad For You

I found an interesting article at the Chicago Tribune about the inability of the younger generations of today to accept criticism or disappointment. Where parents have desired to surround them with completely positive support to help build their self-esteem, there is apparently some sort of balancing point there, also. We need to learn how to handle disappointments and setback, because they are very much a part of life. I'm not an advocate of some of the harsh methods that some people use with their children, where they feel unable to measure up to their parents standards. But on the other hand, we're not doing kids any favors if we let them think that all of their wildest dreams will come true, and that they should expect the world just to give them whatever they want when they want it. My failures have become some of the more valuable experiences I've had in life, and though I wouldn't wish disaster on anyone, I also wouldn't with for them a life completely devoid of disappointment.

By their estimation, today's young people have been praised so much that some flail at their first taste of criticism or failure. Others develop a keen sense of privilege, believing they'll coast into a golden future regardless of their actual talents, accomplishments or willingness to work.
I would encourage you to take a read. I found this article very insightful.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Exegesis of a Stop Sign

If you have at least a moderate level of exegetical training from a seminary, this might just be the funniest thing you've ever read. I found it here.

The Exegesis of Stop Signs

Suppose you're traveling to work and you see a stop sign. What do you do? That depends on how you exegete the stop sign.

1. A postmodernist deconstructs the sign with his bumper, ending forever the tyranny of the north-south traffic over the east-west traffic.

2. Similarly, a Marxist sees a stop sign as an instrument of class conflict. He concludes that the bourgeoisie use the north-south road and obstruct the progress of the workers on the east-west road.

3. A serious and educated Catholic believes that he cannot understand the stop sign apart from its interpretive community and their tradition. Observing that the interpretive community doesn't take it too seriously, he doesn't feel obligated to take it too seriously either.

4. An average Catholic doesn't bother to read the sign, but he'll stop if the car in front of him does.

5. A fundamentalist, allowing the text to interpret itself, stops at the stop sign and waits for it to tell him to go.

6. A suburban preacher looks up "STOP" in his lexicons of English and discovers that it can mean: 1) something which prevents motion, such as a plug for a drain, or a block of wood that prevents a door from closing; 2) a location where a train or bus lets off passengers. The main point of his sermon the following Sunday on this text is: when you see a stop sign, it is a place where traffic is naturally clogged, so it is a good place to let off passengers from your car.

7. An orthodox Jew does one of two things:

1) Take another route to work that doesn't have a stop sign so that he doesn't run the risk of disobeying the Law.

2) Stop at the stop sign, say "Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, king of the universe, who hast given us thy commandment to stop," wait 3 seconds according to his watch, and then proceed. Incidentally, the Talmud has the following comments on this passage: R[abbi] Meir says: He who does not stop shall not live long. R. Hillel says: Cursed is he who does not count to three before proceeding. R. Simon ben Yudah says: Why three? Because the Holy One, blessed be He, gave us the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings. R. ben Isaac says: Because of the three patriarchs. R. Yehuda says: Why bless the Lord at a stop sign? Because it says: "Be still, and know that I am God." R. Hezekiel says: When Jephthah returned from defeating the Ammonites, the Holy One, blessed be He, knew that a donkey would run out of the house and overtake his daughter; but Jephthah did not stop at the stop sign, and the donkey did not have time to come out. For this reason he saw his daughter first and lost her. Thus he was judged for his transgression at the stop sign. R. Gamaliel says: R. Hillel, when he was a baby, never spoke a word, though his parents tried to teach him by speaking and showing him the words on a scroll. One day his father was driving through town and did not stop at the sign. Young Hillel called out: "Stop, father!" In this way, he began reading and speaking at the same time. Thus it is written: "Out of the mouth of babes." R. ben Jacob says: Where did the stop sign come from? Out of the sky, for it is written: "Forever, O Lord, your word is fixed in the heavens." R. ben Nathan says: When were stop signs created? On the fourth day, for it is written: "let them serve as signs." R. Yeshuah says: ... [continues for three more pages]

8. A Karaite does the same thing as an orthodox Jew, except that he waits 10 seconds instead of 3. He also replaces his brake lights with 1000 watt searchlights and connects his horn so that it is activated whenever he touches the brake pedal.

9. A Unitarian concludes that the passage "STOP" undoubtedly was never uttered by Jesus himself, but belongs entirely to stage III of the gospel tradition, when the church was first confronted by traffic in its parking lot.

10. A divinity professor notices that there is no stop sign on Mark street but there is one on Matthew and Luke streets, and concludes that the ones on Luke and Matthew streets are both copied from a sign on a completely hypothetical street called "Q". There is an excellent 300 page discussion of speculations on the origin of these stop signs and the differences between the stop signs on Matthew and Luke street in the scholar's commentary on the passage. There is an unfortunately omission in the commentary, however; the author apparently forgot to explain what the text means.

11. A tenured divinity professor points out that there are a number of stylistic differences between the first and second half of the passage "STOP". For example, "ST" contains no enclosed areas and 5 line endings, whereas "OP" contains two enclosed areas and only one line termination. He concludes that the author for the second part is different from the author for the first part and probably lived hundreds of years later. Later scholars determine that the second half is itself actually written by two separate authors because of similar stylistic differences between the "O" and the "P".

12. A rival scholar notes in his commentary that the stop sign would fit better into the context three streets back. (Unfortunately, he neglects to explain why in his commentary.) Clearly it was moved to its present location by a later redactor. He thus exegetes the intersection as though the stop sign were not there.

13. Because of the difficulties in interpretation, a later scholar emends the text, changing "T" to "H". "SHOP" is much easier to understand in context than "STOP" because of the multiplicity of stores in the area. The textual corruption probably occurred because "SHOP" is so similar to "STOP" on the sign several streets back that it is a natural mistake for a scribe to make. Thus the sign should be interpreted to announce the existence of a shopping area.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

When God Prepares

I am currently studying Systematic Theology, working on my masters of divinity. The chapel services at the grad school are really excellent. These guys are so sincere and so deep. I always get more out of my one-week short courses in chapel here than I usually do out of the rest of the year of church services. (When you're the one who is always preaching, you can never really participate in worship, because you're too worried about what you're about to have to get up and say)

Today the speaker was a guy named Augustine who is from Ghana, I believe. He is in charge of a Christian school over there. He had a really good talk about the importance of not seeking credit for the good that we do. What hit me the most was how he prayed.

He began by addressing God in very missional terms. I can't quote him exactly, but it was something like this: 'O Mighty God, who is already present in every village before we seek to teach them the Gospel; who is already on top of every mountain before we can even climb it to survey the people below and think about how to evangelize them; O God who always goes before us, preparing the way for your Word before we can even arrive; O God who uses us to spread your Kingdom, though we are weak and inadequate for the task...'

I liked his very active understanding of God. God is not the god of deism who wound up the clockwork of the universe and then sat down for a nap; neglecting us like a child who's lost interest in a new toy. God is the God who hears us and even goes before us, preparing the way for the Gospel to be spread, giving us the very words to speak and the very message to teach.

Many will approach evangelism with the thought, "I'll bring God to the inner city" "I'll bring God to this village". We'll think this, only to find out that God has been preparing the minds and hearts of people to hear his Word long before we've thought of teaching it to them. God is already working there. People are already hoping for something better than what they have. The fields are ripe; we must pray that God will raise up workers who are unafraid to march out and carry his good news to the ears who are aching for hope.

Monday, May 24, 2010

What do we really know about Mark Twain?

I have long been of the opinion that historians and biographers need to write with a great deal more humility. We're always searching for the 'key' to understanding a person, or for the right moment or metaphor through which to interpret everything else about someone. The truth is that people are complicated, and according to C.S. Lewis, who was able to see people write about him in his own life time, most people who try and guess about another person's motives for what they do are wrong the vast majority of the time.

Mark Twain apparently valued his celebrity status during his life, and for whatever reason, decided to make sure his autobiography would not be published until 100 years after his death. Well, volume one is on the way soon. Sorry, everyone who has ever written a Twain biography, your work is about to be completely outdated. I bet it is all going to be a fascinating read. You have to admit, there are very few people who have the influence in this world to create gossip about themselves over 100 years after they are dead.

Friday, April 23, 2010

A Little Bragging

Just wanted to say again for the record how proud I am of my dad, who has worked very hard for many years in HR at MDHA. He has always treated people well, and has done all he could to care for the people he works with as individuals. I have never been with him at his work place where I saw him pass a single person whose name he didn't know. He was elected as President of the Tennessee Personnel Management Association for 2008-2009, and did such a good job, they elected him for a second year in 2009-2010. I don't think anyone else has ever been chosen to serve back to back years. It feels good to see a deserving person be recognized for their work and integrity.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Mo Money Taxes Commercial

I just saw this commercial on TV, and it would have left me speechless if I weren't laughing so hard. Mo Money Taxes.

If you're reading on Facebook, click "View Original Post" to see the video.

Friday Smiles: Time Travel

Friday, January 01, 2010