12 Witnesses

Let these stones be a witness to what we have done here this day.

Phriday foto: 10-31-08


If you want to see more, be sure to check out my photoblog or flickr.

Been a while since I posted pics on Friday.  Sorry about that.  I’ve been so busy lately that I haven’t even had time to take pictures, must less download and process them.  Which is all a shame, too, since I had just saved up to buy that 10-20 mm Sigma wide angle lens that I love so much.

So a couple of weeks ago, I went on vacation with my bride to a cabin in Beaver’s Bend State Park, in Southeast Oklahoma.  Got enough pictures to last until next year, if I choose.

Here’s a set from the porch of our cabin taken of the night sky with use of a tripod.  The first picture is taken at 1600 iso and was an 8 second exposure.  The next was was at 400 iso for 8 mins and the last was at 400 iso for 30 mins.  All were taken at f/4.0.

Click on a thumbnail to see the full picture.

Couple of things to note…

You can see the North Star through the trees and all of the other stars seem to rotate around it.

The Milky Way (our galaxy) can be seen in all three pictures.

If you go to Flickr and look at the really big sized versions of the pictures that show motion, when you zoom in really close, there are billions of stars that don’t appear to move at all, though faint and very far away.

Do you use October 31st?

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From Fall Festivals to Harvest Festivals, to All Saints Celebrations (where kids dress up as Bible Characters) to Hallow Him, to Trunk or Treat, to Hell Houses (where actors show insights into Hell [supposedly] and the consequences of a sin filled life), churches across America will be offering “alternatives” to Halloween this October 31st.

Two Questions:

1.  Is yours intended to give the Christian families of your church something “non-worldly/non-satanic” to do, or is it intended to reach out to the lost who don’t know better?

2.  How do you do it?

Can your church vision fit on a napkin?

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Had a great conversation yesterday with a church member, leader and friend who challenged me to communicate the vision of our church more and in a more memorable way.  He asked me to state the vision quickly and efficiently.

Great question.  It runs along the lines of The Napkin Test.

Here’s what I wrote:  SDBC – Living as light to our world.

Here’s why:  It’s incarnational (living as light); it’s missional (to); it’s relational (our world); it’s simple; it’s memorable.

You got one?

God’s glory in our churches

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We often say that we want God to do that for which only God can get the credit in our churches, but then we only allow for the things that we can accomplish without Him.

William Carey preached and wrote that we should, “Expect great things from God; [and] attempt great things for God.”

I wonder how we are measuring up?

More Missional Cooperation in the Post-Denominational Culture

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So, the bottom line from the group with whom I have been meeting is that we are all doing missions.  All of us.  Not one person is not connected to a stretching, servant oriented engagement in a far away place.

And we are already networked.  We all know each other and we are all interested in each other enough to drive to where we are to see each other and talk about it.

And we are all Southern Baptists who talked about trying to leverage the established infrastructure to accomplish what we are trying to accomplish, but found through several experiences that it just won’t happen.  That’s a long story and I’m not interested in rehearsing it or defending the observations of others, so I’ll leave it.

Because it’s not the point.

What is happening is that we are going ourselves, funding our own going and telling others about it in order to invite them along.

And God is doing amazing things.  Our churches are taking a externally focused, servant messenger position and it is changing… us.

I know.  You thought I was going to say it was changing the world.  God is certainly doing that and we are certainly privileged to be a part.

But the biggest change is in us.  We are more captivated and more excited and more engaged locally and more aware of those far from God than ever.

At this point, the only thing that we really lack is a more intentional process of involving others in what God is doing in and through us.

The rest is already done.

Missions in the New World

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So, I’m meeting with some pastors this week and we are discussing how to get the message out to the world in ways that work since the world has changed so greatly since the last paradigms were formed.

Just casual discussions so far, but it is clear that we are all in agreement that churches (we are all Southern Baptists) have generally moved to a default position of paying others to do their missions for them.  This has been fortified by the party line that “by participating in the Cooperative Program, you participate in the spread of the Gospel to the far reaches of the world by providing for x number of Missionaries in y number of countries touching the lives of z number of people groups.”

Which is true.  But.  It’s also misleading.

A little bit makes it there, but mostly our CP dollars go everywhere but the field.  It’s just that missions is the poster board issue that gets churches to give, but they get only a fraction of the money we designate to the CP.  I’m not here to poke at the SBC today (maybe some other time) so take a deep breath fellas.  I’m not coming out of retirement to once again publicly expose the faults of my own convention.

I am here, though, to say that simply giving to the CP (or whatever other fund other denominations have) while sitting on our backsides is a tremendous waste of money and spiritual gifts.

I think the most efficient way to spread the good news of salvation is for churches to actually take the process into their own hands.  They can do more with the money and their own energy than any bureaucracy could alone.

I’ll probably write more on this later, but I’m going to bed now.  I’ll let you know what we come up with, if anything.

Oh.  One more thing.  We are NOT coming up with a competing denomination, so everyone getting ready to pounce and defend the SBC, relax.  I have no inclination to threaten its existence.  I think it is doing a fine job of that on its own.

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  • Published: Oct 18th, 2008
  • Category: Fun
  • Comments: Comments Off on Pranks from Japan

Pranks from Japan


If you used to like Candid Camera, here is some of Japan’s version…

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  • Published: Oct 16th, 2008
  • Category: Economy, Politics
  • Comments: Comments Off on Small, Hidden Economic Stimulus

Small, Hidden Economic Stimulus

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One of the smaller and not often noted additions to the economy is the increase of margins with the decrease of fuel costs.

Many suppliers cut their margins to keep their products as close as normal when rising fuel costs increased the cost of everything.  For them, the fall of prices brings their margins back to a more comfortable place.  For those who did not cut their margins, they are facing larger than normal profits.

All of this is based on the presumption that the prices that went up quickly following the fuel costs will not fall as quickly as they are dropping.  Anyone think that is an unrealistic assessment?

If not, then small businesses should stabilize somewhat and some may even flourish.

More Missional from David Phillips

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The MIROR: Relational God and Relational Ministry | W. David Phillips.

From the article:

How do we begin to cultivate a relational mentality in our churches?

  1. Move ministry away from the church campus.
  2. Help people see that a dinner party to build relationships is evangelism.
  3. Celebrate publicly families who cultivate relationships.

Ed Stetzer Resources

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One of the great things that has happened with the advent of the internet, and dare I say the blogosphere, is that resources have become available to everyone.  Moreover, there has been a surge of people desiring to produce material that is free to be used by anyone who is interested.

Into that mix has come Ed Stetzer, now President of Lifeway Research, and Lifeway Christian Resources.

Let me direct you to a couple of things released by Ed lately that may be of some benefit to you:

At Catalyst last week, Ed presented some stats from his upcoming book, Lost and Found:  The Younger Unchurched and the Churches that Reach Them. He has made his power point available for download on his blog, edstetzer.com.

Currently, Ed is in Eastern Europe and has posted a couple of YouTube videos about reaching the lost there.

Interview with a Church Planter in Krakow (less than 3 mins)

Ed Stetzer passionately makes the case for American Churches to plant churches in Eastern Europe (about 30 secs)

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