Friday, March 28, 2008

Cool implementation of an online album

Another example of some of my recent work.

What could be a better way for a coffee company to display pictures than a pictures spread out on a coffee table.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Distilling the world down to 100 people

This powerful and impactful video is what the world would look like if everyone were proportionally distilled down to a village of 100 people.

If we could turn the population of the earth into a small community of 100 people, keeping the same proportions as we have today, it would be something like this...

Thanks to Nigel Barham for drawing my attention to it.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Time to hold my tongue (or keyboard in this case)

One of our Pastors recently released a video on YouTube. It was a very impactful video and very well done. However, I found myself not completely agreeing with his basic premise.

I said to myself, "I should write a blog about the topic." Well a couple of days went by without having the opportunity to write about it, and upon further reflection this was fortunate.

Here are some reasons why you shouldn't blog about what your Pastor has said, or written (unless of course it is in a very positive vein.)

  1. You risk undermining the message and/or the authority of the Pastor.
  2. Most don't look favourably on disputing with a Pastor in a public place, and you can't get more public than the Internet.
  3. Pastors need our support so much more than they need our criticism. You should always aim to withhold your criticism unless it is absolutely necessary.
  4. God may have given your Pastor a vision that is different than the one you have for the church. God has placed him there to lead, so follow!
  5. Just because you disagree doesn't mean that the Pastor is wrong.
  6. Encouragement should be frequent and often public. Criticism should only be constructive, and if at all possible be private.

Someday I may choose to blog about this, as yet unspoken, topic. When I do however, it won't be in the context of responding to what my Pastor has written. Pastors need and deserve our encouragement and support, not our criticism.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Why the change in the crowd? Part 1

A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,
"Hosanna to the Son of David!"
"Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!"
"Hosanna in the highest!" Matthew 21:8-9

22"What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called Christ?" Pilate asked. They all answered, "Crucify him!"
23"Why? What crime has he committed?" asked Pilate. But they shouted all the louder, "Crucify him!" Matthew 27:22-23

What a difference a week makes! In one week, the people have gone from shouting "Hosanna" to shouting "Crucify him!" Unfortunately, in almost every sermon I have heard on the topic, the pastor gets it wrong. (Not picking on any particular pastor here, I have heard this preached badly six or seven times.) The Pastor assumes that the crowd in Matthew 21 is the same as the crowd in Matthew 27. But this is not the case.

In Matthew 19 we find Jesus way north of Jerusalem, in Galilee, his home turf so to speak. This was where Jesus had grown up, based his ministry, and performed most of his miracles. Like most others he starts to make his way south to celebrate the passover in Jerusalem.

First he heads down to Judea, to the far side of the Jordan (possibly on the route that skirted Samaria.) He crosses back over the Jordan into Jericho, which we find him leaving in Matthew 20. He arrives at Bethpage and Bethany which he makes as his headquarters for Passover week (Matthew 21 & 26). Jerusalem was filled with pilgrims, and Jesus did what many others did who lived outside the immediate area, they slept in the towns surrounding Jerusalem, and then came into Jerusalem for the events of each day.

So when Jesus has his triumphal entry that we read about in Matthew 21, he is surrounded by his supporters from the north. They had also camped outside the city and were also coming in for the day.

In Jerusalem awaits the political elite, the leaders of the temple, who are quite happy with their lifestyle and the degree of autonomy that they have under Roman rule. Someone who might upset their applecart would need to be dealt with quickly.

So what does Jesus do? He drives the money changers and sellers from the temple, directly challenging the leadership of the temple. Then he heads back to Bethany for the night.

He comes back in the next morning, curses the fig tree on the way in, and then spends the day telling parables that insult the chief priests and pharisees. It is then that they decide to arrest him (Matthew 21:45-46). Note that the passage says that they were afraid to arrest him because of the crowd.

Christ continues to clash with the teachers of the law and the pharisees in Mattew 22 & 23. Jesus continues to teach in Matthew 24 & 25 and heads back to Bethany where we find him again in Mattew 26.

Meanwhile the chief priests and elders meet to plot against Jesus.

3Then the chief priests and the elders of the people assembled in the palace of
the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, 4and they plotted to arrest Jesus in
some sly way and kill him. 5"But not during the Feast," they said, "or there may
be a riot among the people." Matthew 26: 3-5

Notice that the plot involved getting Jesus away from his followers. That is the ones who camped outside the city.

Jesus comes back into town to pray on the Mount of Olives at night. It is at the Garden of Gethsemene that he is arrested at night (Matthew 26:47). Jesus himself comments (verse 55) that he was in the temple all day, why didn't they arrest him then? Why, because his supporters were all in the temple area during the day!

He is immediately taken before the sanhedrin for his first trial. Again, this was still in the middle of the night, and the sanhedrin had gathered for the express purpose of getting rid of Jesus.

Matthew 27 opens by saying that "early in the morning" he was taken before Pilate. It is when he is before Pilate that the crowd shouts "crucify him".

This is not the same crowd that shouted "Hosanna". The "Hosanna" crowd are still camped outside the city or making their way in. The "Crucify crowd" is made up of the priests, elders, and pharisees, and those that they have assembled, who wanted nothing to do with Jesus and just want him out of the way.

So why the change in the crowd? Two different crowds. The second crowd planted at a time when the first crowd could not be there.


Thursday, March 13, 2008

Are mega-churches destroying smaller churches?

I have heard or read four times in the last month that small churches are being destroyed by mega-churches. The argument typically goes that mega-churches offer so much in the way of family programming, skilled musicians, and outstanding preaching, that it is hard for a smaller church to compete.

It seems that this argument is a little short sighted for several reasons:

1. People tend to look for a reason to stay in a church, not a reason to leave. If people are leaving your church, it is time to take a good long look inward, and say "how are we not meeting their needs." Are they not being fed through the teaching of the word? Then how can that be changed. Are they experiencing issues with the music and worship? What can be done in that area? Are there few youth in the church? What can be done to reach out to the youth of the community?

2. If people are not excited about what is happening in your church, whatever that might be, then your church will not grow. They will find some excuse to go to the newer, bigger church down the road. What is an area of ministry in your church in which God seems to be working, and around which excitement can grow? How can you build on this area? What areas of ministry are serving as a drag on your church.

3. Strive for excellence! You don't want to practice Tuesday night for Sunday worship, then that is fine, but then you are excluding yourself from the Worship team. You don't want to take the Sunday School Teacher training? Well that is fine, then you don't teach Sunday School. People will see and appreciated excellence and be turned off by half hearted attempts.

4. Have key members of your leadership visit other churches that are growing. What is working for them that is not working for you?

5. Most importantly, work together with your leadership and your congregation to develop a vision and direction. If your people can see a positive future they will want to be part of it.

For the past 12 years we have been part of churches that have had less than 80 people. The energy that it requires to run a church of 80 well is not that different than the energy it takes to run a church of 300. Reflecting back over the last 12 years I wonder if we might have been able to accomplish a lot more for the cause of Christ, if our energy has been used to help a medium size church grow, rather than used to try and sustain a smaller struggling church. The mega-churches that I am familiar with around here seem to be doing a lot to introduce non-churched people to Christ. Unfortunately the same cannot be said for many of the smaller churches with which I have been associated.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Share acts of kindness - and have a donation made on your behalf.

Genuine Health is making a $0.50 cent donation to VitaminAngels on behalf of anyone who shares a "daily act of kindness". I encourage you to visit the site, and submit your own daily act of kindness.

Disclaimer: I helped in the creation of the site, so I know the offer is genuine.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The End of Religion?

Michael Spencer, The Internet Monk, has an interesting review of Bruxy Cavey's new book The End of Religion. While I have not yet read the book, and so cannot comment on it directly, I do find that ideas like "I'm not religious, I have a personal faith" or "It's not about religion, it's about relationship" are both phrases that really rub me the wrong way. Religion as defined by the American Heritage Dictionary is:
  1. Belief in and reverence for a supernatural power or powers regarded as creator and governor of the universe.
  2. A personal or institutionalized system grounded in such belief and worship.
  3. The life or condition of a person in a religious order.
  4. A set of beliefs, values, and practices based on the teachings of a spiritual leader.
  5. A cause, principle, or activity pursued with zeal or conscientious devotion.

I'm sorry, but trying to say that we are not "religious", just confuses the person with whom we are trying to communicate. Think of "religion" as being either the structure through which your "faith" or "relationship" is able to take expression, or the set of beliefs that guide your expression of your faith.

Fitness challenge

I started a fitness challenge today. Starting weight 257.5 lbs. It is about 5 pounds less than I weighed two weeks ago, so I have already had a good start.

My strategy is going to be:
  1. Gym every workday for 40 minutes.
  2. Porridge for breakfast. Sandwhich for lunch. Regular supper. Healthy snacks inbetween.
  3. No eating after supper.

My goal is to be able to play adult league soccer with my son when soccer starts 14 months from now. I figure that I will need to be under 220 lbs, and hopefully around 200.

I will keep you updated about once a week.

Monday, March 10, 2008

My latest work.

Just finished updating work on a site for International Truck and Engine.

You can view it at:

What will the future bring?

In a recent Bible study at church, our Pastor challenged three of us to prepare a ten minute presentation on one of three views of the millenium. The view that I was assigned was post-millenialism, a topic that, in spite of three years of theological education, I knew very little about. I grew up in churches that have a pre-millenial theology that believe that Christ will return to earth "imminently" to usher in his 1000 year (millenium) reign.

Post-millenialism on the other hand teaches that most of the book of Revelation was fulfilled in A.D. 70 with the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem. We are now in the Millenium where Christ is building his kingdom one soul at a time. Like pre-millenialists, post-millenialists still believe in the future return of Jesus Christ where he will come to judge the world.

I must admit I have not spent a whole lot of time studying this topic, and that is intentional because I think that we have more important things to worry about. So when it comes to end-times discussion, I would rather take a pan-millenial view. That, is, it will all "pan" out it the end.

However, if you are interested in finding out more about post-millenialism, Kenneth Gentry has some interesting free papers on the subject. I found the ones titled Apocalypse Then and Back to the Future - The Preterist Perspective expecially helpful. Another article that is a little more difficult to read, but details the biblical basis quite well is Blaising Rattles.