Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Tech Expert Switches to Mac

You gotta love it. A nationally known computer security expert has declared Windows and the Intel processor hopeless. Apparently, a Windows machine out of the box will only last twenty minutes after being hooked up to the internet. Ouch.

His solution? Use a Mac. There's an article about his switch to Apple here. His blog, where he details his switch and defends it against upset windows zombies is here.

My theory is that more people don't switch to Mac for the following reasons:
  • Never tried it. Many people have not used a Mac running OS X for any significant length of time. Everyone I know that has used both, perfers a Mac. Essentially no crashes, no virus problems, easy set up, etc.
  • Too heavily invested. Some folks have gone to classes and paid for lessons and spent years learning all the tricks necessary to keep Windows running. They can't justify in their minds switching to an "easy" machine. It would mean they've wasted huge amounts of their time. Secretly, I think these folks actually like it when their machine crashes so that they can prove they know how to re-install and re-configure a computer. And of course some folks get paid to fix this stuff, so of course they have a preference for which computer you use.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Wishful Interpretations

What happens when you have a good idea and then go to the Bible to try to back it up?

Well, I heard that a church with which I'm familiar apparently has an official position against fundraisers (like bake sales, carwashes, church garage sales, et al.): they don't want to receive money from non-christians. No problem so far. But it gets a little iffy when they say the Bible prohibits such fundraisers. Where? 3John verse 7 which says, "It was for the sake of the Name that they went out, receiving no help from the pagans."

My literal translation of the phrase in question: “…taking nothing from the gentiles”

Looking at the context of 3John, that’s kind of a stretch to apply this to fundraisers in the church. The basic rules of interpretation (and common sense) ought to raise a few red flags:
  • Straight-forward understanding: This is not speaking about church fundraisers, it’s talking about the method of support used by missionaries in this instance, ie. church-supported vs. self-supporting.
  • Historical background: In ancient times, itinerant teachers would charge a fee to the locals for teaching their philosophy. The particular missionaries here were distinguishing themselves from those sophists by not charging the recipients.
  • Purpose: This is not proscriptive; it’s not a command against going and doing likewise. It’s obviously a factual statement about what happened in one instance. It’s commendable but not a commandment.
  • Contrary to other scriptures: What then would we make of tent-making mission work? Other missions were supported financially by the population to which it ministered. Wouldn't Jesus have violated this principle, at least at the beginning of his ministry? Was the early church wrong to not be supported 100% by Christians all the time? Does this principle extend to Christian-owned businesses as well? Where do you draw the line?
In general, I can understand why a church wouldn’t want to do a fundraiser (considering factors such as the church’s witness in the community or the stewardship responsibility of the believers involved). But we should always be careful not to make a habit of reading into the text, even if we believe our position to be right. Historically it has led to bad things.

Not Following the Crowd

Memorial Day Weekend is supposed to be the lowest attendance of the year at church (everybody is off solemnly decorating grave markers at the, uh… lake… er… softball diamond… uh…). But I'm starting to feel optimistic. There will be lots of folks on vacation, sure, but we're in line to have three families join the church Sunday. Pretty cool!

I just hope there's somebody left in the seats.

Friday, May 27, 2005

For my Birthday…

From the warped minds of one of those companies that make humorous/offensive t-shirts:

"Friends don't let Friends use Windows" -- see it here

***Warning*** The above site also contains objectionable material and extremely poor taste. Think about it, it's a t-shirt company. You've been warned.

And yes, I know. My birthday is in October. It's shameless. But a long-sleeved tee in blue is fine any time of year!

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Cool Mugs

Have you seen our new coffee mugs? We just got them in today. They have the church logo and church name and they look great.

We're giving them away to guests and allowing church members to have them also. If you'd like one we're suggesting a $5 donation. That pays for your mug and another which we'll give away. But if you just want one, that's cool too.

God bless!

Is Winning a Good Thing?

Carrie Underwood won American Idol and though I thought she deserved it, I'm not sure I'm happy for her. My gut reaction at the time of her win was, "oh no, I wonder how this will change her." She seemed so genuine and innocent, a condition most folks can't maintain in the entertainment industry. I hope that's not the case for Carrie but Reuben Studdard has had some issues since his victory, and anyone can be corrupted by bad company.

I guess we'll see; I'm just saying it wouldn't have been all bad if Carrie had gone back home to Oklahoma and had a normal, happy life.

Besides, Bo Bice was already living his life as a performer. He's a little older and had already been arrested for cocaine and moved on with his life. Bo has already been down this road--maybe he'd stand up better under the pressure. Maybe not.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Random Thoughts 5/23/05

  • We had a big discussion the other day about what to do with our vehicles. It seems like we're sitting on a ticking time bomb and we don't want to get caught with no vehicles, no money, and no solutions. When someone figures out how to have reliable vehicles when you don't have a lot of money to spend… let me know.
  • I was just thinking about Lost and Found. It's rare that you can listen to a music group and honestly say, "I've never heard anything like that before…" and mean it as a compliment. If you get a chance, see them in concert. Their humor will win you over.
  • It's been busy at my house recently. We watched the Anderson kids last night. That's five, count 'em, five kids four and under (of which only one is actually four). This morning, Shannon was baby sitting an 11-month old, and company came by with two little ones. For those of you keeping score at home, that was an all-time-record six kids, age four and younger. I walked out the door not completely expecting to find my wife sane and healthy when I returned. We've been saying we want another of our own, but this last 24-hours may be a deal-breaker.
  • Our ninth anniversary is a week from Wednesday. Cool. It's never been better.

Friday, May 20, 2005

The Soft Bigotry of Low Expectations

A term the other day really caught my eye: "The soft bigotry of low expectations." It immediately clicked with observations I had made but couldn't define properly until now.

Overt, aggressive hatred is obviously wrong. But there is a politically correct bigotry that I've heard from both sides of the aisle. Sometimes it sounds like, "Those people over there (the Arabs) don't want freedom. They wouldn't know what to do with democracy. We should let them stay oppressed; it's what they want." Other times it sounds like, "The illegals are happy to get those jobs; they'll do jobs we would never want. Besides it makes things cheaper for the rest of us."

Now you can't apply these low expectations to women or black people. Our ears have been trained to ferret that out and pounce on it:

Person #1 (probably a man): "Go figure, it's a woman driver."

Person #2 (usually a woman): "WHAT?! Are saying that WOMEN are not equal to MEN?! THAT'S OUTRAGEOUS!!!

Yet it's still acceptable for our culture to pass subtle judgment on Muslims, the poor, illegal aliens, the homeless, American Indians and many other groups where we snobbishly excuse their faults and shortcomings because we never expected much out of them in the first place.

Some folks are actually bigots. But others, I believe, lower their expectations in a genuine attempt to be gracious. But I believe we can show Christian love to someone, extend grace to them, and still have high expectations of them.

It's especially important to have high expectations because it's human nature to live up to (or down to) what's expected of you. Therefore it is a loving act to set the bar as high as is reasonable and encourage them to achieve. Grace can still be applied.

Root Canal Success

Two days later, I could not be happier with how the root canal went. The first part hurt pretty bad (I started sweating and squirming and my eyes almost popped out of my head) but after the nerve came out, it was a breeze. In fact, I was teaching Bible Study three hours later.

Thanks Dr. McKnight.

Now I can't wait to go back to the dentist.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Care for the Wounded

We received word last night and today that the soldier in Dan's unit is going to survive. He had successful brain surgery in Iraq and will be transported to Germany for reconstructive surgery. I've decided not to post his name on the internet but he was conscious before his surgery and was able to call his mom back in Kansas.

If you'd like to know more about Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI), read this.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Random Thoughts 5/17/05

  • I had my root canal postponed until Wednesday afternoon. Ugh…

  • We just had a prayer request for a soldier that was seriously injured just a few hours ago in Iraq. It's strange that we can know something like that so immediately; including his name and his exact injuries. I fear that I may have even found out before his family, and I'm not sure how I feel about that.

  • I'm pretty excited about the folks that are joining the church and/or getting baptized. There's actually a pretty good sized group, of which only a portion have acted on their intentions.

  • Does anybody else think that the Newsweek thing was pretty rotten? People died because some journalists(?) were trying to besmirch our country.

  • I just watched the Phantom Menace again last night. That movie is bad beyond words. The whole thing could have been summed up in the opening crawl of a better movie. And we would have been spared the suffering that was Jar Jar Binks.

  • Twists of fate: My neighbor's yard was a jungle of thistles and weeds last year. Mine wasn't. It's completely reversed this year. I'm trying to fix it but we have 100 times the weeds we had last year. Our new neighbors are enjoying their lush, carpet-like yard. Grrrr…

Monday, May 16, 2005

Root Canals and Other Fun Times

Well, it looks like I'm facing a root canal today. I don't know how I'm going to pay for it and I'm pretty uncomfortable with going to the dentist at all, but hey, it should be fun!

(Fear and loathing tend to bring out my sarcastic side)

I've endured about a week of cold, shooting pain stretching up around my eye socket and across the bridge of my nose, so I'm ready to get this fixed. I've got quite a bit of anxiety about the dentist but I've decided to go to one that I know to be a Christian and have met before. That'll help.

Well, now I'm stalling, so here I go.

Gotta go.

Still have to pry myself out of the chair and walk to my car.

Here I go.


Now I'm going.


Here I go.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Changes at OCC

Ozark Christian College has announced another smooth transition in leadership (they do that about every 25 years or so). The new college president is Matt Proctor. Ken Idleman, who has served as president for some 27 years, explains his new job as Chancellor.

Part of the reason that OCC stands out among other Bible Colleges is the quality of the leadership and the unity within the school. There just aren't many scandals and there just isn't any infighting. The atmosphere at the school is, in a word, Christ-like.

Is it any wonder that I expect church to be like this too? And shouldn't we?

Thursday, May 12, 2005

1000 Hits

Hey, my mom and brother have gone to my website over 1000 times! Congratulations to me!

(And thanks to the rest of you who've spent part of your day reading my stuff. God bless you!)

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Memorial Day Drop

In many churches, Memorial Day is the lowest attendance of the year. Where we live (KCK) Memorial Day is considered the beginning of Summer and most folks consider it routine to spend the weekend at the lake or at a softball tourney or whatever. I've even heard stories of churches calling off services for that weekend (I hope that's not true).

Looking back over the last few years of attendance statistics, Memorial Day has been rough for us at WCCC. Apart from ice storms (and one strange day in June of '03 when half the church was inexplicably absent), Memorial Day is the worst attendance by far, usually about 40% below average. Last year was the best with only about a 10-15% drop and I'm hoping that this year will be even better.

I'd like to think that our people are not thinking of church as something you need vacation from! Besides, a family might find great benefit to end a vacation a day early, come home, go to church, and take Sunday afternoon to rest before starting your week again Monday morning. So many of our vacations warrant a breather afterwards anyway; perhaps we should plan for that!

Another note on vacations: We are taking a break on Wednesday nights from July 13 to August 3, just before schools restart in mid-August. A late summer vacation will thus coincide with our church down-shifting its activities for a month.

Satan's Spell Checker?

I've been noticing that Blogger, the website that hosts my blog, doesn't recognize some of my vocabulary. Notably, the built-in spell checker wants to change "WCCC" to "wacko".


Monday, May 09, 2005

Marines in Iraq, Part 3

It must be allergy season because my eyes are watering.

Here's a touching story about a marine helicopter crewman sent to retrieve the body of fallen marine. This is well written and inspiring, please don't miss it.

Great Things He Has Done

We had a surprisingly huge turnout yesterday at church. We've been averaging about 135 people (and that was a 10% increase over six months ago) but now we're having a significant surge in attendance. Not only did we have 228 on Friend Day but we followed that with 182 yesterday. 182! That would have been a record just a few years ago!

We track the attendance on a spreadsheet that charts five-week averages and 13-week averages for each Sunday. Both lines are shooting skyward, now 35% above our old averages and climbing. And they have been edging up for months. It's really encouraging!

But even more important is the overall healthy atmosphere. In church, you always have a few hurt folks who throw stones from the sidelines and you can't help but have people who tend to rub folks the wrong way. That happens and we can love difficult people through their rough times. But it's becoming kind of infrequent around here.

I know churches that are absolutely overwhelmed by the infighting and discontent. It dominates the life of the church. But at WCCC people seem to be in a genuinely good mood when they're here. They are surrounded by people they like and seem eager to serve. This kind of atmosphere can't be manufactured--the majority of folks have to decide to act with grace toward one another for it to be this way. I think the Holy Spirit is the only one who can make that happen.

We now need to trust God as He leads us into a new phase in our church experience. There are already many new Christians that need to be nurtured and taught. There will be new ministries that were not needed before and old ministries that will now need to be re-imagined. We have needs, factors and circumstances that have never been true here before--and that's a little scary.

But I believe that God is behind this. I believe he's given us challenges that we can meet (by his grace). I believe that these new young families were placed here because the Lord who loves them wanted them to be somewhere healthy. I believe this is where God is going to do great things.

Saturday, May 07, 2005


Lots of great things are happening behind the scenes at church that demonstrates the Lord's work in our lives. Much of it is private and can't be discussed, but there are people who are making huge strides in counseling (with us and with outside professionals). Other folks are learning by leaps and bounds, growing in their faith and knowledge of scripture. Some people are trying new ministries and are having successes that they never thought possible. Others are making commitments to church and, even more important, to the Lord for their salvation. God is really good!

Tomorrow we have a family that will join the church (and there are others "on deck" but are waiting for various reasons), and after church we're having a baptism (again, there are others who are getting close here too).

I only wish I could share every victory. And it's so unfair because bad news travels fast. But God continues to bless us. May we remain faithful in our service and worship.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Poor Substitute

I got up with the kids this morning and let Shannon sleep in since it was my day off. Brennan and Tanner don't mind the departure from the routine but Elijah was less than impressed. I gave him a bottle (which he normally likes), changed his bottom (also good) and tried to play with him and hold him and talk with him, etc. You'd think he'd appreciate the effort… but no.

He fights and fusses and pushes me away and whines. He repeatedly throws his pathetic little self onto the carpet in exasperation. After about an hour, he's sobbing, I'm sobbing, and we're both sighing, "Ma-ma-ma-ma-ma." So I take him to our bedroom, drop him on the bed, and he flings himself onto Shannon, all smiles and cooing as he snuggles into her. He's good to go for the rest of the morning.

What am I? Chopped liver?

Apparently, yes.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Squeak, Squeak, Squeak

Our house has acquired a constant squeak, squeak, squeak sound recently. Elijah is learning to walk, and although he doesn't have the confidence to just take off on his own, he loves to push toys around. His favorite is a yellow train with a push-handle at just the right height. Eli stands up, latches on, and just starts running around the house. He's put so many miles on that little train you'd think the baby fat would just melt away (it hasn't yet).

The only problem is that this train has a squeaker that's tied in to the wheels, so every couple of feet we get this loud SQUEEEEK! And like I said, Eli can go for hours just doing laps in our kitchen. I'm starting to hear it in my sleep and at work. I don't want to take it away because it's so good for him, but the squeaking mechanism may just accidentally become disconnected…

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Letters from SSG Dan, part 5

I got another letter from Dan today. Knowing that I collect bulletins and newsletters from other churches, he sent me a bulletin from the Easter service at "Stagecoach Chapel" in Taji, Iraq. Pretty cool.

It turns out the guys have color printers and pretty nice paper. I was actually a little surprised at the paper because every time I've been out of the country, copier paper has been pretty light weight (as in barely one step above tissue paper). But my guess is that this is good old American 20-lb, non-recycled, bleached and coated paper that came from the states and has now returned home.

Dan writes:
April 22, 2005

Dear Jared,

Just thought you might like to see our church bulletin. It's really a tiny little chapel but our chaplain is a great guy and it's wonderful to be with other Christian brothers and sisters in this place.

Well Jared, I have to get ready for another mission. Please tell everyone I said hi and thanks for the prayers. So far no one has been hurt, although we have had some close calls.

Your brother,


Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Personal Follow Up

We had the question during Sunday School about evangelism. A guest asked, "According to your purpose statement your church wants to evangelize the lost. What are you doing to accomplish that?"

Good question. While it's true that we support various missions financially and our church participates in various "group" projects, there is another level that is substantially more important.

We urgently need to do evangelism on the personal level. Every Christian, regardless of giftedness and experience, is tasked with spreading the good news. We share the job of evangelism and it is everyone's responsibility. That means the following:
  • It's not just the preacher's job. That would seriously limit the church's impact in the world. Granted, the few Billy Graham's out there can do more than most of us combined, but that's not the norm. The Church best advances when all of it's members are involved in evangelism.
  • It doesn't necessarily mean going to a foreign land. God has given us abundant opportunity with the people we already have in our lives. We have cultivated trust and genuine concern with folks we have known for years. Friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers are often just waiting for us to share our most valuable treasure with them.
Friend Day was fantastic, but the ministry with the highest impact will not have happened on Friend Day, but will happen in the week after Friend Day around the water cooler or over the breakfast table. The most effective follow up will be each of us reaching out to our friends and asking questions and giving encouragement.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Friend Day 2005, part 3

Wow, Friend Day was a blast!

First, WCCC had its best attendance ever, 228 people! Our previous record was 197. We had people from out of town and from down the street. Friends, family, co-workers and neighbors all came and enjoyed our service.

The gift bags went over well. We gave away 30 stepping stones (inscribed with "Welcome Friend" on front with a picture of various birds and "Wyandotte County Christian Church" on back). About 35 gift bags were given away. They included pens, gum, candy, church brochures and other miscellaneous stuff. A big thank you needs to go to Pat Meza. She did a tremendous amount of work to get those bags put together. John Foley also did a lot of leg work to get the pens and the bags themselves. Thank you guys!

Dewey Bond joined the church and he gave his testimony. Wow. The Holy Spirit really worked through his story to affect a lot of hearts Sunday. We were all moved by his thoughts on the importance of a church family in his life.

The sermon seemed well received and the worship was fantastic! We had a funny episode with a bell that went off in the middle of Jarod's special music but no harm done.

Several people stayed after the service for coffee (which we actually ran out of) and donuts. My Sunday School class had about 40 minutes of Q&A with many of our guests listening in and even participating. We talked about euthanasia and Terri Schiavo, evangelism, and why bad things happen, among other topics.

Overall, it was a tremendous day!