Category Archives: Opinion

Does Any of this Really Matter?…05/17/2017

I remember a time when people were so mad about who had been elected president that dumb news stories, whether they were true or not would get posted. I got so tired of it, that I unfollowed people on my Facebook or just stayed off of it for a time. Fast forward 8 years and now I see it again.

I’ve gotten cynical about the whole political scene. Most of which is done for show on TV. The 24 hour news channels eat it up or make it up so that they can sell advertising.  Most people don’t realize that they are basically being sold to those to the advertisers.

I’ve long subscribed to the saying, “If it bleeds, it leads,” to the whole of the news media. I try very hard to pick and chose my sources carefully, and then double and triple check them for facts left unsaid, or left out, because all the journalists are political operatives with a byline.

I see friends and family being lead down the path. I was there a long time ago. I turned a corner about halfway through Bush 2’s second term, realizing all that was happening. I tried to tell people that they are being used, but to no avail. As humorist Scott Adams says (I’m paraphrasing here), they are living in their own movie, and so are we. I’m not adept to being a persuader. I have to be careful with who or what I listen to. It is possible that if I look at Facebook too long, I’ll get depressed. I’ve pretty much stopped looking at twitter. I listen to a new deconstruction podcast, which helps to lighten my moods, because they are pretty funny, but my moods still swing.

As I watch the news, there are those that tell me that I’m irrelevant. That my opinions don’t matter, because I am privileged, judging me before I even open my mouth, or do anything. The pendulum swings, “fight the (blank)!” The pendulum swings back, “fight the (blank we said was good before)!” I’m beginning to realize the meaning behind the book of Ecclesiastes. “Meaningless! Meaningless!”
    says the Teacher.
“Utterly meaningless!
    Everything is meaningless.” – Ecclesiastes 1:2 (NIV)

Fight, fight, everything is fight. What about Love? I realized recently that nobody wants to love unconditionally, because they don’t want to love those that wronged them, the original sin. They say they follow Jesus, but really they follow Moses (the law). And now we have fallen into the time of the book of Judges (Everyone did as they saw fit).

My Dog Showed me This…01/28/2017

About a year ago, our household acquired a young male dog. He was a year and a half pit/boxer mix. He was hard for me to train. Over time he has gotten into the groove of his pack (our family), and is much better behaved than when he showed up. 
 
There are a few things that I haven’t been able to break him of. Getting into the bay window, and barking at other dogs, and trying to dominate my female black lab. Mia is 13, and is still pretty active for a geriatric dog. In fact, when Niner is bugging her and biting at her, her teeth come out. Niner knows to respect his elder, well sort of. As I’ve studied dog behavior, he’s still trying to assert himself ahead of other dogs in the pecking order.
 
I see lots of protests online, and ignorant blow back between lots of people. The problem that I see, if you look at it from non-spiritual lens, we are doing the same things as my dogs.
 
If, for a moment, you recognize that we humans are biologically, animals. The fights online are nothing more than us fighting for dominance within our pack. A lot of the women’s rights issues, are overlooking the evolutionary thoughts that are ingrained in our species. It’s not to say we shouldn’t allow women the same rights as men. Rather, the progressives that think there is no God, overlook their same belief of evolution. That we are no different from the social orders of other mammals.
 
I guess that’s why I’m believe in a God that says He sees neither male nor female. Jew or Greek. Just people. That we all have a spirit, that he has imparted to us. We are more than animals, fighting for pack dominance. We should be striving for a kingdom here on earth, where we, like God, see neither male nor female. Jew or Greek, or for that matter, black or white or hispanic or…
 
I think that other christians fighting for the rights of others, need to remember this fact. It would help with their patience and the somewhat incendiary attitude that I see online.
 
As I have seen it, love is what is needed. As Jesus said, love your enemy. Anyone can love your neighbor. Love the unlovely. This goes both ways. It’s one thing to be prophetic and critique society. It’s another thing to go around and label people without knowing them.
 
I know this goes against the pack mentality, but then again, we are more than animals.

Should I stay or should I go from Facebook…05/09/2016

I’m on the verge of leaving Facebook, again. Every time, it seems to be something similar. The drama, the imagined slights, the mob mentality. There are times when Facebook is good. It is there to share pictures, keep me in touch with my family; when they are 3 time zones  away.

And then there’s now. Posts that accuse others, shame others. The spirit of the accuser, or Ha-Satan in Hebrew. I usually stay out of most of these conversations. They begin to depress me.

It’s hard to write about these things. I try to be general in talking about what is going on, and to speak into the matter. Yet, I feel useless to do so. I’m not one to take a side, or rather I’m not one to go off on one side or another. There may be someone who is wrong, and who is right, but on Facebook, you are either with me or against me. So I stay out, further sliding into the despair. I want people restored!

Unfortunately, most want retribution. I see spirit of the accuser, running amok. Whipping up the mob, so that there is a cyber lynching. There must not be bullying, but what if the mob that was being bullied, turns into the bully? Most would say that turn about is fair play.  But in the Christian realm, we are to forgive, restore, and love, even those we do not want to love, restore or forgive.

What would I do if I left? probably remain on Instagram and YouTube, and continue taking pictures and video. Keep my blogs open.

But I know I won’t.

Star Wars 7…12/17/2015

No spoilers, No spoilers…

When I read a headline from a reviewer that said something like “the magic is back!” I was hoping for something like that…and it was!

There was a formula that called back to the originals (4,5,6), especially 4, “A New Hope.” However, that was the only thing I saw that some may quibble about. However, no matter what you see that is a call back to the old movies, there is more, and it leads you down a trail, guessing what happens next. With all the speculation from the teasers and trailers, I was wondering when something would happen and when it would appear.

There is a shocker. I don’t want to spoil that.

If you are a big Star Wars nerd like my wife and I, then you will love this story.

J.J. Abrams did well.

Transformational Love vs Behavior(cultural) Modification…11/11/2015

I’ve been trying to attend our men’s bible study at noon, when my schedule allows it. Today, we were in Daniel 5 about the hand writing on the wall. The principles to live by were good diving into  some of Paul’s teaching, which is when I got this revelation…that part of the Christian community that gets offend at Christmas about things not Christian, are trying their on version of behavior modification. This is something that I’ve had to fight in youth ministry for a long time.

Parents want their teens to be good, and if their good kid meets up with a kid that they think is disruptive, or disrespectful, then I’ve had parents wanting to kick that kid out of youth group. What they are looking for is behavior modification, and not the transformational love that God has us give.  Part of this comes from Pastor Bernie Bloukamp’s message at our church this past Sunday.

So when I see something in the news calling for some boycott, I realize that they want the change to come through cultural modification, and not through the transformative love, that God commands us Christians to do.   Do it through coercion and not loving your enemy.

Here’s a company that is using red cups with nothing on them for the holidays (or holy days if you like), and people think they aren’t christian enough. Newsflash. It is a corporation with a board of directors whose goal is only to make money. If they decide that they can make more money by being generic, then that’s their prerogative.  You only feed them more money, but complaining and giving them free advertising.

The better thing to do is show the people in the corporation love, and maybe they will come to know Christ, and in turn influence the corporation that it should show more selfless love. Maybe they will always keep their red cups, and then again, maybe not.

everyone what was right in their own eyes…10/08/2015

Recently, I’ve been pondering the way society is going. We have always had the previous generation complain about the current generation. That seems like that has always happened, and will continue. However, if you look at it biblically, it makes sense. Each time there had been a major move of God with miracles, and very well seen evidence of Him being, as the years go by, people slowly lose perspective, and they fall away. As Solomon said in Ecclesiastes, “there is nothing new under the sun.” With the youth group, I always have to say, that Solomon isn’t talking about the things we build, but rather peoples emotions and attitudes. It’s a good read, a little cynical, until the end when Solomon’s meditation of everything is futile, or vanity, or fleeting depending on your translation, brings forth the remark of

13″Now all has been heard;
    here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments,
    for this is the duty of all mankind.
14 For God will bring every deed into judgment,
    including every hidden thing,
    whether it is good or evil.”

That’s what no one wants to own up to.  As it says in Judges, “…People did whatever they felt like doing.” (Judges 21:25, Msg) and I see this within the Christian faith. As Pastor James was preaching this last Sunday, we don’t heed what God is telling us.

Some would ask me, then why doesn’t God do anything about it? I think he has been. I’m a strong believer in the idea, that God purposely limits himself to work through people. So if in your brain you get this feeling that some things are not right, and there is something you can do, then I purport that is the Holy Spirit, trying to work through you. If you say no, then he moves on to someone else, and I’m starting to think there are fewer people willing to listen.

Does Jonah Apply to us Today?…09/19/2015

I was driving around recently, as I was looking for some shots of Boyne City, and was listening to the podcast from Word of Life Church in St. Joseph, MO. They have been doing a series on some of the prophets in the Old Testament. Which got me to thinking about a few of them, when I felt like we were being given the sign of Jonah (Matt 12:38-42, and Luke 11:29-32), when Jesus was talking to the pharisees. It felt like we are missing the point on the sign of Jonah, if you stop reading a verse too short.

A lot of people stop at the verse that says (from Matt 12:38-42, The Message), “Like Jonah, three days and nights in the fish’s belly, the Son of Man will be gone three days and nights in a deep grave.” And while this is true, there is more to this section, like the next verse: “On Judgment Day, the Ninevites will stand up and give evidence that will condemn this generation, because when Jonah preached to them they changed their lives. A far greater preacher than Jonah is here, and you squabble about ‘proofs.'” Other translations are very similar with the next verse in Matthew about the Ninevites condemning this generation. I think as Stephen Grabill says in a recent Seedbed video, that the church is struggling with not being the dominate force in the culture. So we have become like Jonah. The church currently comes across as loveless, like Jonah, and would rather see our “enemies” destroyed, than repent and be saved.

So many times in my Facebook feed, I see angry Christians with their conservative bent, sharing articles that seem more like they would prefer their enemies smited, than loved in to the kingdom. If you look at Jesus who says, “take up your cross and follow me,” but little do we realize, that if we follow him, we may have to die, literally, to do his will. This may mean to challenge the status quo. However, the church isn’t into challenging it, but rather would put out anyone that doesn’t hold together with the health and wealth gospel (notice that is with a little g) afraid someone is coming for them, when they rarely step out and look at the systemic sins of our society. You know the systemic sins of society, slavery, lack of justice, or when there is justice, lack of mercy. Fear of the foreigner, etc.

I also have liberal friends that would rather that the conservatives be smited, than loved into the kingdom as well. So many times the P.C. bullies talking about microaggressions, while they use just as hurtful and words and tactics on conservatives.

Part of the problem is they all listen and put their faith into the fear mongering stations of the cable news system (and I mean all of them, from MSNBC to Fox News) which constantly spout half true, superficial stories meant to make you cower under your blanket with your guns, if you are conservative, or your drug du jour to numb you if you are liberal. They say they are there to inform you, but they are all accountable to large corporations, bent on making money and if they threaten to pull their money, then stories are whitewashed.

But what do I know…

Facebook’s Decisions Have Forced Me to Begin to Make Some Decisions…04/13/2014

4597216399_d885d9bff1As you may or may not know, I have three blogs. My about page can tell you how I got to this point, and for the most part, the blogs themselves are fine. The weather blog (NMIRecWx), the “microblog”(wxym.blogspot.com) where I share smaller post and pictures, and finally the main Ministry & Meteorology blog, where I usually discuss my thoughts and feelings about youth ministry from time to time. In the mix is Twitter,  Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube for helping to spread the information. Originally, when I started blogging back in 2004, and then trying to podcast, this was an avenue to allow me to create website content and see what I could do. The three blogs grew some, but growth wasn’t what this was about. These places have been my “sandbox,” as a friend who works in radio once described a station that wasn’t part of their regular network. Basically, just things to experiment with.

I’m still planning to utilize the blogs as they are, but the changes I foresee are with Facebook. Recently, Facebook has been changing the way that pages, not people’s profiles, are distributed, and this has lead me to think about my future on Facebook as a hobbyist blogger. I’m thinking that I will leave my twitter feeds in place, since they haven’t messed with the way my information goes out, but Facebook has gone to using algorithms, that unless you post a lot, and you can get people to like them, then they don’t show up in people’s newsfeeds. I posed that question to Facebook in a customer feedback survey. I asked them how is a hobbyist, like myself, who have people Like (aka subscribe) to a feed supposed to compete with no money, and expect people to get any information about the subject that you write or podcast?

I haven’t made any final decisions, yet, but I’m beginning to think that I may close down the Facebook pages for Ministry&Meteorology? and Northern Michigan Recreational Weather and just put them through my profile again. I used to separate them so that I wouldn’t inundate people’s newsfeeds with shared things, or such. I don’t share as much with the articles on Ministry & Meteorology? as I used to, and most people like the weather things I share, and since the post views on NMIRecWx’s Facebook page are so low and most of my friends have expressed interest on what I post on the weather, I might as well.

I’m going to think about this a bit, but I’m really leaning toward deleting the other two feeds. I’m not sure that it’s worth it. Twitter is different. There are ways for me differentiate the feeds, although, I may post on both. I do have a small following on Twitter with the weather feed. I’m kind of a sentimentalist with things at times. I hate having to say good bye to things that seemed to be fun, but when something doesn’t work, you need to throw it out. I knew there would come a time when Facebook would truly begin to undo itself, and I think that over the last year or two it has, it will be several years, before  they really see what they have done, but it’s coming. I’m just the beginning…

Cross-posted on Northern Michigan Recreational Weather.

We Would all Love Instant Transformation…01/30/2014

j0312654Since becoming the youth ministry leader with Mary, I have felt that I need to teach about the Old Testament stories, with the emphasis on love. Now, I’m feeling the need to stress more out of Jesus’s teaching on the “Sermon on the Mount,” (Matt. 5-7 or Luke 6). However, it can be frustrating when you don’t have instant changes. It is a slow process, that depends on relationship building with the youth, and for that matter, adults too. After 15 years in youth ministry, I still stumble with this. Just as it seems you are getting somewhere, one of the kids does something that is disappointing.

I realized, while Mary and I were on our vacation, that everything is a journey. That we all carry God’s image. That we all need each other to help raise each other up. However, the observations that God made in Genesis 3 (yeah, it was translated as curses, but that makes it sound like God put them on us. ) shows us how self-centered we are when we reject God’s image in us, and His ways. The internet has brought this out even more, as I read the comment sections on news websites. I read of some tragedy, and then I read the compassionless comments. The ones that are judgmental, like they know the best way to resolve the tragedy and deliver the punishment. Some call it justice, but most often it is revenge filled spite for with no mercy or grace.

I recently read the book of Jonah to the youth group, only I put in local places, and changed things up a bit. Since then, I have read over Jesus saying that the only sign of Jonah (Matt 12:38-41) will be shown to this generation. After reading Jonah, I wonder if we aren’t seeing this. The church in general sometimes gets so into the rules that get legalistic. So when someone preaches about love and grace and mercy, they are shouted down, or even asked if there is a sign that God has given them. The sign of Jonah that Jesus was talking about was about him dying and rising again, but I wonder if we can’t learn something about our generation here.

Jonah was told by God to go to Nineveh and prophesy to them, because of the wickedness they were doing. He didn’t want to go, so he ran somewhere else. When he finally went where was supposed to go, he did so angry, and even when the Ninevites listened to him, and repented, he still wanted them destroyed. I wonder if this is the sign of Jonah to our generation. God is so full of love that when we reluctantly witness, we have no grace or mercy to really want them to change. Of course, if they do change then we pile all sorts of rules and stuff on them as Jesus says in Matt 23:15, and make them “twice as much the child of hell that we are” (Paraphrased).

So as I went on my rant…my point is that transformation is not instant. There needs to be love, grace, and mercy involved. The justice that is meted out should not be in vengeance, but a justice that corrects in love. This is the tension that I live in…