Thursday, March 31, 2011

What is BETA?

What does BETA mean?  If you check you will find multiple definitions ranging from "the second letter of the Greek alphabet" to "a brand of tape format for VCR tapes."  Neither of those are what I'm after.

Merriam-Webster's fourth definition is "a nearly complete prototype of a product."  That's it!  (Or at least close enough.)

When it comes to living and parenting and being a disciple and making disciples... and so many other things... I don't think we can wait until we've found the perfect plan before we get going.  I think we need a plan and then we need to start moving and see what happens.  Software and Internet applications are often in the "beta testing" phase for a long time.  Gmail (Google's e-mail program) was labeled as BETA for five years yet still had millions of users during that time.

Let me illustrate what BETA means for me and this blog:  I know I want my kids to follow Jesus.  I've got some decent ideas on how to lead them in that direction.  But by no means have I developed the parenting plan that will never change.  It's a prototype that will probably not ever be complete. 

What are you still planning that you need to get out and do?  Launch the BETA version and let me know how it goes.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Inspire Me: CS Lewis on the Love of God

Read this one slowly.
When Christianity says that God loves man, it means that God loves man: not that He has some disinterested...concern for our welfare, but that, in awful and surprising truth, we are objects of his love.  You asked for a loving God: you have one.  The great spirit you so lightly present: not a senile benevolence that drowsily wishes you to be happy in your own way, not the cold philanthropy of a conscientious magistrate, nor the care of a host who feels responsible for the comfort of his guests, but the consuming fire Himself, the Love that made the worlds, persistent as the artist's love for his work and despotic as a man's love for a dog, provident and venerable as a father's love for his child, jealous, inexorable, exacting as love between the sexes.
From The Problem of Pain by CS Lewis, Chapter 3.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Notes on Making Disciples of our Boys, Part 1

My wife and I LOVE our three crazy boys.  My current favorite story of them is here.

But along with funny stories comes a huge responsibility to show them how to follow Jesus.  What follows is some points in our plan to show our kids Jesus and encourage them to follow Him.  We're still putting an overall plan together, and hopefully as a result of this post (and follow up posts on the same topic) I'll eventually be able to offer a more concise and organized version.
  • Starting at age five, we want to take each child out on a "date" once each month, alternating between mom and dad.  Our goal is to get regular time together that will hopefully foster conversation as they grow.  (We still need to think of another name for these when it's me going out with one of them.  Some ideas are 'man-date', 'outing'... I'm up for suggestions.)
  • The Bible: We plan on working in a Bible into every-day life.  Currently this means some crazy acting along with a story before we go to bed.  As our boys grow we picture reading a passage of Scripture before eating dinner.
  • Speaking of dinner: We want to eat dinner together as often as possible.
  • At age 13 I want to take each boy on a "man-trip."  (I'm really struggling with creativity this morning.)  The basics to cover: relationships, sex, pornography, responsibility, etc.
  • We want to seek to make our home safe from sexual temptations.  This means an internet filter on the computer and being selective about what media gets brought into our house.
We'll start with those five points.  Look for additional posts on this topic in the future.  All of them will be labeled "BETA" as I have so much to learn about parenting.  (More on BETA in a later post as well.)

Monday, March 21, 2011

Why 'Why Evolution is True' Isn't

Over the last several months I read the book Why Evolution Is True by Jerry Coyne.  I read it along with a friend and we stopped to discuss it at various points.

This book did not convince me that evolution is true.  But as a believer in the Bible and Biblical creationism it did give me some things to think about.  Below are a few follow-up steps that I pursued for my own mental stability.  I don't offer them to say "Once and for all I've proved evolution false."  Rather, I'm saying "If something doesn't jive with a Biblical view of the world, do some research and find out why."
  • Find and read a "rebuttal".  It's not that I didn't trust Coyne's work... it's just that I didn't trust his work.  To be serious, the topic of evolution and creation is so loaded that there aren't any neutral parties.  I thought it was important to track down the opposite opinion and see what it said.  This article comes from a proponent of Intelligent Design with two Ph.D.s. It's long, but a good counter-opinion to a book supporting evolution.
  • Research Noah's ark and how many animals/species could fit on it.  This might seem random, but if I'm going to believe in Biblical creationism, then I also have to believe in the Biblical flood.  You can find several good articles concerning the space on Noah's ark.  Here's one of them that suggests all of the animals could fit easily.
  • Research the fossil record and dating methods.  How old is the earth?  I don't think we can prove the exact age, but I do know that the Bible doesn't fit the greatest with a 4.5 billion year-old earth.  (When is its birthday, by the way?)  This article offers some inaccuracies with the current dating methods used to arrive at billions of years.  (About halfway through the article a section titled "The Facts" details  volcanic rock formed in the 1900s being dated at millions of years old.) 
There you have it.  I'm sure there are many people who could blast away at any of these, but for this follower of Jesus, the Bible still wins.

    Thursday, March 17, 2011

    My Hierarchy of Communication

    If we were to stack up communication in a hierarchy of importance... here's how I see it:
    • In Person-  If someone is in front of you, stopping by your office or calling out 'Hi', they win.  Stop and respond and be real.
    • Phone Call- A phone call loses to a real person, but otherwise, you should probably answer it
    • Chat- (i.e. Google Talk, AIM, etc) If you decide to use a chat service, you should probably respond if someone sends you a message.  (Just not if you're on the phone or talking to someone... see a pattern here?)
    • Voice Mail- I'm not as good at this one.  If you miss a phone call and the caller leaves a voice mail, I think you should check it and respond to it before any of the below options.
    • Text Message- Personally I wish I could drop responding to text messages below Email in this hierarchy.  But if I did that, I might never respond to them.  For me, reading and responding to text messages should fall below real people, phone calls, chats, and voice mails.  I'm still working on it though.
    • Email- I love email, especially with the magical powers of Gmail behind it.  But you don't need to respond to it right away.  Picture it like an ongoing conversation that two people can have without actually being present.  I attempt to respond to email once a day: no more, no less.
    • Snail Mail- I almost feel I should rank this higher just for nostalgia's sake.  But generally when you get something in the mail, it can wait behind the rest of this list.
    So that's I rank communication.  What about you?

    Monday, March 14, 2011

    What I Learned From Leading a Conference

    Last Monday and Tuesday was the Christian Camp and Conference Association's Illinois Sectional Conference.  (Say that 5 times fast.)  I currently serve as the president of the cabinet that pulls off this annual conference.

    Here's what I learned from being the guy "in charge."
    1. You need a good team.  I had a cabinet of seven fantastic people surrounding me. To be honest, I was not all that "in charge" and relied on them throughout the conference.  (So here's a shout out to Paul, Jim, Wade, Mark, Kerma, Steve, and Pauly.  Thanks!  You were all awesome!)
    2. You need a serviceable plan.  I wouldn't call our plan over the top great, but it worked.  Having a plan helped us all know when we were supposed to be where and what we were supposed to be doing.
    3. You need good people.  It might be obvious that you should try to find the best speaker and seminar leaders you can.  But I think that getting great attendees is just as important.  I don't really have any advice on how to make this happen, but the crew we had last week was awesome.
    4. You need to get people talking.  Seth Godin just posted about what he looks for at a conference: The individual conversations.  When you get people talking, you bring out the collective wisdom of everyone, which is far more than any individual speaker can bring.
    That's about all my feeble mind could come up with.  We get to try the whole thing again next year and I can't wait!

      Thursday, March 10, 2011

      The Day Camp Pyramid

      Yesterday I led a workshop titled Day Camp Development at camping conference.  (I can't tell you how it went because I'm writing this on Friday March 4th!)

      I realize most of you won't be interested, but I'm putting this post up just in case.  I (and my fellow staff at Camp of Champions) would love to dialogue with you about starting a day camp.  Here's what my handout looked like... The Day Camp Pyramid!

      Monday, March 7, 2011

      Taking Your Temperature

      I don't make a habit of visiting hospitals.  But during the few moments I've spent there, I've run across a few questions are both annoying and laughable at the same time.  Questions like:

      "What would you consider to be an acceptable level of pain?"  (Is there any other answer than NONE!?)

      "What brings you here today?"  (I always want to say: 'Just out for a stroll and thought I'd stop by.')

      And a personal favorite: "How would you rate your pain on a scale of 1 to 10?"  (It's worth doing a YouTube search of Brian Regan for this question.)

      Let's flip that question to your spiritual health: "How would you rate your relationship with God on a scale of 1 to 10?"

      No really.  What rating would you give yourself?

      I'll go out on a limb and say that whatever number you thought of left some room for improvement. Isn't it ironic that the focus of our ministry is helping others grow spiritually, but we often fail to take our own spiritual temperature?

      My hope and prayer for you is that you can take a moment to evaluate your relationship with God, as well as prayerfully seek Him for the prescription to improve that relationship. 


      Note: This was written as a lead page for the conference notebook for the CCCA Illinois Sectional.

      Thursday, March 3, 2011

      BOOR March 2010: Driveby culture and the endless search for wow

      This month's Best Of Online Reading is a little longer, but well worth your read.  It's written by Seth Godin and titled "Driveby culture and the endless search for wow."  Click the link to view it.  Here are a few quotes to entice you:
      "Imagine if people went to the theatre or the movies and stood up and walked out after the first six seconds. Imagine if people went to the senior prom and bailed on their date three seconds after the car pulled away from the curb."
      "Should a charity focus on instant donations by texting from a million people or is it better to seek dedicated attention and support from a few who understand the mission and are there for the long haul?"
      "The interesting question here, though, is not how fast is too fast, but what works? What works to change mindsets, to spread important ideas and to create an audience for work that matters?"
      I continually see examples of organizations choosing to seek out a wider audience rather than going deeper with the audience they have.  Thoughts?