12 Witnesses

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

Why is it?

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Why is it that after a prolonged absence, we feel the need to explain where we’ve been to the odd half dozen or so folks who still check in from time to time?  Really, most of the traffic (I still get some, can you believe it?) comes from search engines that are funneling folks to specific articles I’ve written in years past.  A few still hit my home page, lately to find my last article from October 31, 2011.  Yes.  8 months ago.

It almost begs an explanation, though I recognize that I’ve already published several over the last couple of years.  The only thing to do is ignore it or come clean.  Never one to miss an opportunity to over share, let’s go with coming clean.

Several things have conspired to to keep me from writing.  Among them

1) Discovering an emptiness in the topics of political observation within the SBC.  Old news and no reason for further comment.

2) Busy-ness within the responsibilities of the Pastorate that kept me from managing this blog and my church responsibilities.  I was new to the pastorate in 2006 and new to my church as well.  It takes a while to become fluent with the minutiae of any job and I had plenty on my plate.  Add to that the changes that we were working through and I was tired of writing.

3) (This is the coming clean part…) I had several church members that were frequenting my blog, often misconstruing or just misunderstanding what I had written (sometimes years before) and then repeating their misconstruction/misunderstanding to others at the church.  It’s no secret that change is rarely embraced readily by all and we had all our plates could handle moving through ours.  When some were adding the misinformation coming from others claiming this blog as the source, it just wasn’t worth it.  So I quit writing to remove a source of misunderstanding.

I should add that I am not accusing everyone from my church who read my blog of misrepresenting me to garner political support within our church.  I think that was actually quite rare.  Nevertheless, any stream of misunderstanding that can be removed, should be.  I prioritized the church over this blog and I doubt anyone would second guess that decision.

So what’s changed? Several things!

I’ve had a personal spiritual growth like I’ve never experienced before.  Call it a Gospel Awakening.  I’m sure we’ll get to that in the near future.  For now, simply consider that God, in His mercy, considered it His pleasure to crush me in order to shape me in an image more like His Son.  For this, I am grateful.  Honestly, “grateful” doesn’t cover it.  Even for an aspiring writer, I have no words for how I feel about this.  I consider it worth everything.  More later.

The church has come to a place of peace.  We still have some issues and we honestly need to move forward in some areas, which means change.  Small ones, but still…  Nevertheless, Earlier this year, God wrought a situation that allowed us to finally air our heart in a loving way.  It has brought a tremendous peace on the church and we gather together without fear of dissension breaking out.  We are praying for Spiritual Awakening and have been since the Spring.  We are beginning to see the fruits of it and have enjoyed God moving among us significantly over the last couple of months.

With my life and the church in the throws of burgeoning renewal, the desire to write as presented itself once more.

And since I’m paying good money to host this blog, I thought I would be a better steward of that opportunity.

If you’d like to subscribe to an email notification, there is a box at the top right to let you do that.  Every time I write a new article, it will let you know and should give you a preview of what’s here.

So I’ve decided to be a blogger

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For those of you still checking in faithfully over the last, what? Three weeks? You deserve to know what’s been going on.

I’ve been busy.

I know.  Life’s busy and if you’re going to be hosting your own site, then you owe it to the good folks who have come to depend on the sage advice, probing questions and stupid videos that you post to actually dispense these things.

Inquiring minds want to know.

Sorry.

I actually faced a bit of a dilemma with the whole situation.  I’ve been so busy with pastoring and then my personal life (had you heard I’ve taken up cycling?) and then my family’s personal lives (I’m now the chauffeur for … never mind.  If you know, you know and if you don’t, I don’t think I’m allowed to elaborate on the blog) that I have been too exhausted to write in the evenings when I typically craft my blog posts.

I considered shutting it down.

Some of you have heard that I have agreed to be an editor/contributor to a group blog called MissioScapes with some of the usual suspects.  In fact, my initial article dropped there last week.

I thought that my occasional post there my tide over my writing jones. Scratch the itch. But then, no. I don’t think it will.

Then, I thought I might start an entirely new blog.  An anonymous cycling blog from the eyes of a newbie cyclist.  So much uncovered territory.  So many obvious and yet unassaulted targets in the cycling community.  You have no idea.  I’m not even talking about the Lycra, either.

Still might do that, but then, maybe not.

If I’m too tired to write about the established aspects of my life, what makes me think an anonymous and yet unread cycling blog would drive me to shake off the web of slumber and expose the spandex clad, two wheeled, helmeted, free wheeling crowd to an audience that doesn’t even exist?

No.

The writing’s the thing.  It’s not the subject of the blog.  Do I want to write, and if so, will I set aside time to do it?

Yes.

I have decided that this is worth that and, frankly, it is you who have shown me that I should.

You’ve not said a word.  No notes. No comments.  No email.

But you’ve come back.  Daily for over a month with barely a word from me beyond unfulfilled promises of posts to come, you still drop in and read what I have not written.

Thanks.

And since you’ve apparently cared what I have to not say, I think you’ll be immenantly more interested in the things that I hope to say, so…

I’ve decided to be a blogger.

By that I mean not just the random thought or question but something interesting – or at least something I think is interesting – more than once a week.

There you have it.

Sorry, for the impromptu time off.  Thanks for sticking around.  See you soon.

The Great Commission Resurgence, MissioScapes and Partnering with the Unholy

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Right now, over at MissioScapes, you can read an article from Marty Duren that is the beginning of a series entitled, “If we were the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force.” It’s Marty being Marty on the SBC and I know some of you have missed that stuff. My article will be there in a few weeks.  There are a few scheduled to drop between now and then, but all will be worth your while, I think.

Oh, and please remember that the MissioScapes blog is ideological, not political, and not focused on the SBC.  Rather, since the SBC has made the move to further its ability to fulfill the Missio Dei, it seems that we are focused on the same things at the moment.  No, I don’t think we are always focused on the same things as the SBC, if that question crossed your mind.

Not to ignore my postings here at 12 Witnesses, I’ll be dropping an article this week about Christians intentionally partnering with the unholy.

I hope to pique your interest by saying that I think we should do it.  Alot.

No more comment security code

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I’ve had the comment security code in my comment field for a loooong time.  At one point it served to keep spam generating programs from commenting on my posts.  I think I can let other programs work behind the scenes to accomplish that now.

Why now?

Because I just had a brilliant piece of writing eaten by the exact same code on another blog.  Something that have neither the time nor inclination to attempt to duplicate…

And it caused me to think that others who might like to comment on this blog might have had the same thing happen to them.

And since I want discussion on this blog, things that might inhibit discussion should go.

So it has, at least for now.  We’ll see how it works.

I hope this will encourage more opinions in the future.

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Update

Ok.  Less that 24 hours and three spam messages.

Security code is back in.  Sorry.

For those who have had comments swallowed by a message that says you have an invalid security code, only to hit the back button and have your comment gone forever…

The only way around this that I have found is to make sure you highlight and copy your comment before submitting it.  I know it is a hoop through which to jump and one easily forgotten, but I fear I have no other suggestions.

Sorry.

Video Blogging

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I know that downloading and watching video is a time consuming task, so I won’t give you hours of video, but I do want to show you what I see when I go overseas in just over 5 weeks.

As a result, I have set up to video blog. Below is the opening video, which you can dowload or stream, whichever you choose. I have also loaded it to youtube.com/12witnesses, but the quality bottoms out significantly. Of course, WordPress and YouTube don’t always play nicely together, so I won’t depend on them to get you the videos.

I intend them to be short and worthwhile. Here’s the index for this one:

  • Why I’m doing it
  • Future pre-trip posts – tech and travel
  • Run Time: appx. 2:31

[display_podcast]

BTW, if you are picking this up in a feed and want to stream the video, click the “enclosure” link at the bottom of the feed. If you want to download it, right click the link and then select the “save as” option in IE and the “save link as” option in Firefox. It is a .mov file which you can import to your iPod, should you care to take me with you. :) All you have to do is import it in iTunes, right click on it to pop up a menu and then select convert for iPod.

[edit] Future videos will, I hope, be in mp4 format, which is what iPods use, so you can skip the conversion proces as I’ll do it myself. Your Quicktime player (which plays .mov) will play mp4 as well, so you should notice no difference on your computer.

Simple Blog

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Think Thom Rainer’s book Simple Church only applies to church? Apparently not.

I’ve been wanting to blog about our upcoming Mission Trip to Vietnam and the Hmong (the “h” is silent) church that we host in our church facility. The Hmong people group is one of the primary people groups among whom we will be ministering in Vietnam and our relationship with them here is just chockerbock full of God stuff.

That will have to wait for several reasons. I want to give it the time it deserves, I want to post a Phriday foto tomorrow and I have to post quickly now.

So why has it waited all this week? What does this have to do with Simple Church?

Well, it seems that I had installed a plugin to my WordPress powered blog here called, “Bad Behavior.” This plugin helps keep spammers off of your sight by adding them to a blacklist when they try to spam your blog. All of a sudden, this script was running on anyone who tried to login to the administration page – me, the tech support guy at Bluehost (my hosting service) and even David Phillips was stuck. For a half a day, anyway, until he got to a computer and figured out the problem.

What we did was remove the plugin all together and – tada – 12 Witnesses is back in business. Yea.

While I was in Jackson for the Baptist Identity Conference, I had one script go crazy and start running up my load on the server, which caused the server to shut my blog down in order that I might not overload, crash or just not take more than my fair share of, the server resources.

In discussing the issue, I determined that I should go through and clean out a lot of the plugins that I have in my system. I don’t use quite a few of them and even more aren’t necessary.

Bottom line: The more scripts you have running in the background of your blog, the more likely you are to grind to a halt because something goes wrong or your resources become consumed and you are unable to perform the functions for which you were designed. Therefore, over the weekend I will be deleting all but the most necessary plugins that I have.

Simple Church? Simple blog.

Pastoral Blogging, Pt. 7

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I am cleaning out my feed reader. After a while, you just have to start pulling some of the things you don’t read all the time. Honestly, I track those blogs I really like in a folder of “live bookmarks” on the bookmark toolbar in Firefox. There are five there and I check them a couple of times a day.

If you don’t know what a live bookmark is, your browser has an option when you click the rss feed chicklet:

(umm… if you don’t know what an rss feed is, you should probably read my previous posts on this subject, but I’ll give you a reprieve and offer this cool link: video – rss explained in plain english [ht: Desiring God Blog]

Most of the time, I use bloglines, but for those select few blogs, I opt for a live bookmark which is a drop down menu that shows the latest posts. It updates mui pronto and I don’t have to log into bloglines and sort through all of the other feeds that I don’t want to read at the moment.

Which brings me back to my original purpose. Sometimes you have to weed out feeds you aren’t reading. A lot of times, when you decide to subscribe to a feed, you feel sort of obligated to hang in there. Listen, there are plenty of times I have read an incredibly thoughtful post from someone and thought, “Hey, there’s gonna be more of this good stuff.” Generally there is, but too often, it is a long time coming. Sorting through their other posts waiting for the really good stuff is why I got a feed reader, so I could skim.

When I got back from camp, though, and found 300+ feeds waiting on me, I had had enough. I spent a couple of hours on my couch just sifting. By the time I finished, it was midnight and I was supremely irritated from the process. I’m glad everyone was asleep, or I would have been likely to have snapped at my family just for being alive at the moment. When something puts you in that frame of mind, it is time for a change.

Also, I am dumping almost all of my SBC politics feeds. I used to keep track of what everyone was saying because I had to be current. Truth be known, I had pretty much quit reading most of them months ago unless someone linked to them. I was skimming, but my heart has been out of it for a while.

At this point, I have a hard time keeping up with just the stuff coming from SBC Outpost, and I’m a contributor.

There have been a few, more thoughtful blogs, to which I am subscribing, and I thought you might like to know who they are.

Tops of my new interest is Emily Hunter McGowin. That girl knows her stuff and is deep like big water.

Lu has caught my interest and secured a feed in bloglines. She is a former missionary and current Nashvillian. She likes her blogging so much, she is willing to pay to do it (she uses typepad). Who am I to talk? I own my own domain.

Joe Ball is the Student Ministry guy for the Kentucky Baptist Convention and a long time friend. He keeps me hooked up with thoughts on Youth Ministry at Despising None Blog and Podcast.

Finally, I recommend to you an old blogging ally and someone who has made a huge leap from SBC politics to serious cultural engagement and thoughtful cultural commentary/conversation, Kevin Bussey.

Along with these changes, and more, expect my blogroll to change. Almost every SBC politics is going to come off of it. Please don’t get your feelings hurt you are there and get dropped. All things must grow and change and 12 Witnesses is doing that, as well.

[edit]

What the heck!!! I forgot to commend to you the fine blog of Timmy Brister, Provocations and Pantings. Timmy rocks with some massive depth, but also will give you phenominal knowledge on photography, family and life. I guess I forgot him because I have been reading him for a while, but in editing my blogroll, I realized I had never added him. My bad, TB.

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