Coalesce lava lamp Christianity

lava-lamp

I am not a word smith.  A friend of mine who helps me write better blogs reminds me often, less is more.  In other words, my writing is too wordy and too long. Authors and poets have a great gift for using just the right combination of words to create powerful images.  And they do so with very few words.  The trick is using words powerful enough to convey large concepts.

 I like words that can do that.  Words like; love, redemption, restoration, forgiveness, and Red Sox.  Each word carries with it weight and meaning, history and hope.  I came across a couple words recently that I am working on making into a concept for ministry.

Coalesce and disperse.

Coalesce means to come together to form one group or mass or to unite for a common end.  Disperse means to spread out over a wide area.  I like this idea for ministry.  The body of Christ comes together for a time to do a specific task with Christ, we serve, then we disperse to coalesce elsewhere and continue the work of Christ.

I like to use the image of a lava lamp for this.  Lava lamps work through the Archimedes principle.  Basically lava lamps are made with water and wax (lava).  Both have very similar densities, but the wax is more dense.  As a rule it should always sink.  However, when heated by the lamp or coil at the bottom, the wax’s molecules speed up and become less dense and become more buoyant and float to the top of the lamp.  Once there it cools and sinks again.  The cycle repeats itself over and over.

What does this have to do with coalesce and disperse?

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5 things associate pastors need to survive

survive

The work of an associate pastor often does not receive the high praise or support compared to their senior pastor. Associate pastors have the challenging task of supporting the mission and vision of the church under the leadership of their senior pastor. Often, in the course of this supportive role, associates experience disagreements and their frustration can undermine staff synergy.

Church leadership and senior pastors need to realize the unique nature of associate pastor ministry. There are several key support mechanisms that need to be in place for associate pastors:

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Is a funeral selfie appropriate?

It was the funeral selfie heard seen around the world.

British Prime Minister David Cameron, Denmark’s Prime Minister Helle Thorning Schmidt and President Obama took a selfie during Nelson Mandela’s (funeral) memorial service. To the right, Mrs. Obama does not look impressed. Social media quickly reacted in disgust, support, shock, and confusion:

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3 Reasons why Bill O’Reilly does not get Jesus and the poor

Bill O’Reilly released his book, Killing Jesus which attempts to trace the historical events and movements leading up to Jesus’ earthly life. However, it seems that O’Reilly could have read and study the Gospels more closely when it comes to Jesus and the poor.

On O’Reilly’s program, a video of Rep. Jim McDermott played with McDermott addressing the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). O’Reilly went on to say:

The problem I have, as I stated is that you’re helping one group by hurting another group and a bigger group, and so I don’t know if Jesus is going to be down with that…Ok but would he [Jesus]  impose a system that hurts one group to help another group? …Some of the people who don’t have enough to eat, it’s their fault they don’t have enough to eat…If you are an alcoholic or a heroin addict or a drug addict and you can’t hold a job and you can’t support your children and that’s the circumstance of millions and millions of people not most but a lot a substantial minority ok.

Here are 3 reasons why Bill O’Reilly just doesn’t understand Jesus and the poor:

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Be a peace-wager like Nelson Mandela

As the world reacts to the death of Nelson Mandela, we cannot help but read and understand his amazing history of peace. Fighting against injustice and apartheid in South Africa were his notable achievements, but Mandela did so much more.

Mandela spent 27 years in prison for fighting for his beliefs and for justice. Emerging for oppressive imprisonment, Mandela spoke about peace, reconciliation, and forgiveness. How can someone emerge from such hate, injustice, and pain to take about reconciliation? He became a symbol of truth, reconciliation, grace and peace.

Many talk about peace, but few understand what it takes. It’s easy to speak about peace but if one truly wants to achieve peace, one must “wage peace”. Nelson Mandela died in the midst of Advent, the precursor to Christmas. The story of Christmas is the story of God waging peace with the world. Making peace is not an easy business. Mandela was a peace-wager.

Peace amid tragedy is challenging. Mandela was one who could find peace in tragedy.

The message of Christmas is this: Christ was born to all the world for the redemption of the world. However, as Christians, we often believe that peace is to be something to pray for yet it is never accomplished. It is common for Christians to think that peace is to be prayed for and never acting on.

Jesus said,

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Advent devotional dropped to your inbox

advent1

Looking for a great, spiritual, and thought provoking Advent devotional dropped into your inbox daily?

Look no further than the folks at Blue Truck Publishing to give you what you want!  Each daily devotional are emailed daily. The daily devotionals draw from the rich Biblical texts surrounding the birth of Jesus, as well as the prophecy of his coming. Not only are the devotionals useful for personal growth but could also be used with:

  • Interesting opening to lead a class or small group.
  • Quick ideas for public speaking.
  • Sermon starter
  • Friends & family gifts

What’s great about Blue Truck content is that it is very affordable and usable. Blue Truck Publishing writers are leaders, speakers, pastors, and authors who specialize creating content and devotionals that address contemporary topics. This Advent devotional is only $1.99, which is delivered daily for the season of Advent. This is a great price for a devotional sent to you for the Advent season.

Check a sample:

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Thanksgivingization

It seems every year retailers are pushing holiday seasons earlier and earlier. I walked through the home improvement giant, Lowe’s the day after Halloween and saw Christmas decorations, holiday goodies, and Christmas lights already on sale. Was that too early or is it just me?

This year, maybe my anecdotal evidence is backed up with fact. The Associate Press published an article entitled, “All Day Shopping Frenzy on Thanksgiving?”. The article reports on how retailers are trending to open  stories on Thanksgiving instead of the day after:

It’s a break with tradition. Black Friday, which typically is the year’s biggest shopping day, for a decade has been considered the official start to the busy holiday buying season… Meanwhile, Thanksgiving and Christmas remained the only two days a year that stores were closed.

Now Thanksgiving is slowly becoming just another shopping day. Over the past few years, major retailers, including Target and Toys R Us, slowly have pushed opening times into Thanksgiving night to one-up each other and compete for holiday dollars.

This year, more than a dozen major retailers are opening on Thanksgiving, including a handful like Macy’s, J.C. Penney and Staples that are doing it for the first time… Indeed, retailers say they’re just doing what shoppers want… That’s an important opportunity for chains, which can make up to 40 percent of their annual revenue during the last two months of the year.

Based on this evidence, retailers are pushing up holidays to sell goods. More and more, our holidays (both religious and non-religious) are turning into opportunities for retailers to draw in consumers to buy and well, consume. Thanksgiving is now no different. What remained as the last holiday were retailers did not make their employees work, has now turned Thanksgiving into another shopping mecca.

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Using social media during crisis

Churches and organizations will face an opportunity where social media can greatly impact how you respond to a crisis. Whether the crisis is a natural disaster, community problem, or an internal church conflict, how a message is crafted can produce positive results if done correctly.

During the recent #chsocm chat that I moderated, our church social media group discussed the best practices for using social media during a crisis. Here are my 4 topic/questions that we discussed:

  • T1: Name a crisis that emerged in a ministry community and how could it have been improved by social media? Could be your church or another.
  • T2: What tools or strategies can churches use during a crisis to improve communication & trust?
  • T3: How should an external community crisis be handled differently than an internal church crisis via social media?
  • T4: What can be shared via social media from a crisis that reveals a greater truth about God?

Here were some good ideas and responses to the topic of using social media during crisis:

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I’m moderating #chsocm tonight

I’m moderating #chsocm on Twitter tonight @ 9:00 p.m. If you are a church-ie social media type, just join in on Twitter with the search and hashtag #chsocm. It’s pretty easy to join in. Just keep #chsocm in your search on Twitter and follow the conversation.

My topic tonight will be centered around handling crisis within the church using social media. 

A lot of you are wondering, “What the heck is #chsom?” It’s Church socialmedia. #ChSocM (ch-sock-em) is a weekly Twitter-based chat about using social media to build church and faith. Welcoming, informative, ecumenical. Tuesdays, 9PM, ET. Commentary, interviews, transcripts, and fun stuff on the blog.

My good Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest friend Meredith Gould started the Twitter chat topic/community about 2 years ago. Since then, it has grown into a weekly meet up for lay people, pastors, seminarians, and social media church geeks (that includes me).

Don’t be a non-participate observer! Join in! (I loath the word “Lurker” or “lurking” for social media listening. It’s too creep-stalker-ish. See you tonight on #chsocm!

FREE EthicsDaily.com netcast for small churches

Tomorrow, EthicsDaily.com will host a free netcast on their website focusing on small-church expectations of pastors, avoiding burnout in the small-church pastorate, and advice for those ministers working in a small-church environment. The streaming netcast  Oct. 22 begins at 11 a.m. ET.

Zach Dawes, former small-church pastor and now managing editor of EthicsDaily.com, and Chuck Warnock, pastor of Chatham Baptist Church in Chatham, Va., will join EthicsDaily.com’s media producer, Cliff Vaughn, online for the conversation. Using  Google Hangouts, EthicsDaily.com will broadcast live on their site.

Anyone can watch the netcast on the main page of EthicsDaily.com, in the video hub (near the bottom-right of the page). After the netcast, the content will be available as a recorded video.

Ethics Daily now features 60 Skype interviews on their Vimeo channel. The expert discussions feature topics like prison ministry, beauty pageants, the Korean church, Thomas Jefferson, the church and technology, and much more.

 

How N.T. Wright changed my faith

Greg Mamula is an ordained minister and the Associate Executive Minister of American Baptist Churches of Nebraska.

“Despite what many people think, within the Christian family and outside it, the point of Christianity isn’t ‘to go to heaven when you die.'”

–Simply Christian,  N.T. Wright

I did not grow up going to church on a regular basis, but went often enough to catch the same glimpses of faith many people see with only a cursory glance at Christianity.  Like many people I was taught that Jesus was my personal helper in time of need and the gate keeper into heaven. So when I prayed for something like my dad not to leave for months on end for work or to not have to move over and over again and God didn’t deliver I questioned his power and existence.

I believed that the Christian faith was ultimately about going to some ethereal heaven someday.  I believed I had to intellectually assent to the reality that Jesus died only for my individual sins, and simply admit that I was a worthless sinner and ask for forgiveness. I struggled with the purpose of Christianity even as I felt a call into vocational ministry. What is the point of belief in God if he seems to be a failed helper?  Is the only purpose of Christ to get us into heaven so I don’t burn in hell?  That seemed like a very unfulfilling and vindictive God.

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