Category Archives: Opinion

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…

How one man put an end to his extended adolescence | Ministry and Meteorology? MicroBlog

How one man put an end to his extended adolescence | Ministry and Meteorology? MicroBlog.

 

This extended adolescence looks more like society has turned into little kids. Some of which is due to the adults saying that the kids are growing up “too fast” and the kids themselves not taking responsibility for themselves. I think this article addresses the latter.

Memoir: how I put an end to my extended adolescence | torontolife.com: “It wasn’t the suit that needed to change. I’d entered this process boyishly believing in magic. But standing there in the cluttered back room, I realized I had learned something from the time I’d spent with Frank: manliness was something I would have to work at every day. The suit alone couldn’t do it for me.”

What This Past Lent Has Taught Me

Don’t fear.

That phrase is in the bible from one person’s count, 365 times. As people have told me one for everyday of the year. As I have journeyed through this Lenten season. There have been several things, I feel, that God has been speaking to me on.

  1. Continue the less meat, higher veggie diet. 
  2. Keep the caffeine consumption low.
  3. Teach the Youth Group about not fearing things
  4. Continue to teach on Love your neighbor and your Enemy

I’ve been teaching on what it means to be the church, in the context of love. Which means I’ve be trying to tell them about loving others more than yourself.

There is one thing, though, that through the 46 days of Lent that has been continuing to resound louder and louder and that is don’t fear. The kids in the youth group are constantly bombarded by fear based things. We wonder why we end up in a culture that tries to medicate kids and teens, when they are just being kids.

So my next quest is to figure out how to communicate how to not fear, and love others to the point that others may hate you.

The Loss of a Friend that was Long Lost

I have a lot of friends from my past. I seem to lose touch with them. I have reconnected some of them through Facebook more recently, and that has been great, but I still haven’t reconnected with a lot of them. In this case, this friend was my colleague and boss while I was at the South Pole in 1994-1995.  Her name was Kathie Sharp.

In 1994, I was in between meteorology jobs, when I an ad in the magazine “Weatherwise” caught my eye. It talked about being a weather observer at the South Pole. I applied, and as it happened, the person that was supposed to winter over for that year, had just quit to take another job. I needed a passport, so I got the ball rolling, and Antarctic Support Associates of Englewood, CO invited me out to be interviewed. That’s where I met Kathie. She was to be the senior meteorologist for the winter. She interviewed me a couple of times during the day that I was in the ASA offices, as well as be 3 other people. By the end of the day, I was hired and I had a lot of things to do in the next two months (physicals, paperwork, etc.). Everything clicked. I could and have made remarks that this is where God wanted me. Too many things that happened that it couldn’t be coincidence.  In fact, Kathie also being a Christian was one of the reasons that I got the job.

During the interviews, I was asked what I do if I got depressed or lonely, something that happens during the Antarctic winter season when you are down to only 28 people on the station. I said something about my faith bringing me comfort and strength. So one of the other interviewers got a little worked up, afraid that I was some “Holy Roller,” and would be in other people’s faces about my faith. Kathie fought for me in the meeting. I was re-interviewed about my faith and had some questions asked about it, which I didn’t notice, as being out of the ordinary, until in discussion with Kathie in the middle of the winter, she told me about it.

So from October 26th, 1994 until November 5th, 1995, I was at the South Pole station in Antarctica. There was a hectic “summer period” then in Feb, 1995, the last of the summer people left us 28 souls for the winter-over period. The 28 of us, I would say were like a dysfunctional family that were cooped up too long after a blizzard. Kathie and I were to launch balloons, do weather obs, etc. and she was kind of a big sister to me the of the newbies. First time at the pole and I was wintering over. We butted heads a few times, but we were pretty decent friends along with Chris the Sci-tech.

I, unfortunately lost touch with everyone. The last time I talked to anybody was in 2001, when I went to Boulder to radar class. I was able to Call Chris and his dad, Cleve, who I also knew from “Pole.” We talked about some of those we knew from the crew and where they were, but for the most part that was the last time I talked to anyone from my winter-over year. I have done Google searches and Facebook searches. I reconnected with a few on Linked In, and Facebook, but Kathie eluded me.

However, I did run into a website a some years ago that is dedicated to the South Pole Station, by an “ex-polie.” I got on the site every few months to see who is wintering over,  and see who is blogging so that I could subcribe to it and . Since the new crew arrived for this season,  I went to that site the other day. As I scrolled through the news before looking at the blogger list, I noticed this little link.

Sorry, I didn’t get a chance to reconnect with you Kathie. You will be missed.

Love your…

Part of what I have been riffing on as of late is the whole grace vs. guilt, or mercy vs. sacrifice. Of course this all comes down to Love.

We are supposed to love…our God.
… our neighbors.
…our enemies.

When I see the American Christian church as of late, I see more people, drifting back to what’s comfortable. That is to say, finding a set of explicit dos and don’ts that will make us acceptable in the sight of God. However, we have become so rigidly adherent to the “rules” that we call heresy, if someone tries to stray outside the lines and love someone that they have told that God has turned His back on. However, as I have now listened to the Bible for the 4th or 5th year, and the New Testament the year before that, I’m realizing that as Jesus said in Matthew 23: 15 15 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are. (NIV)

I have looked through commentaries, and despite the interpretations to the positive, we still try to exclude and push away those that that are marginalized. We as a country are drifting away. Not all of us, but this country was based on loving your neighbor. At least that’s what I see when I study history. We aren’t to judge others sins. We are to love them, and through that love, we are win them, so that they will continue to pay the love forward.

As I listened to James Scheer preach this week at church, I was reminded of this. He preached out of James, which tells us we are no better than anyone else when it comes to loving God. The image of cartoon that I saw a week or two before called “Coffee with Jesus,” kept coming up in my mind. We are to love everyone. It’s difficult. When we fail, we have to realize that Jesus died for us so that our failures aren’t counted against us. We have to move on, and continue to figure out how to love everyone.

 

image from Flickr.com:

he(art)geek

Some Changes to my Blogs

Wait, what did I say? Blogs? I have more than one blog. To be exact, I have one blog and two microblogs. Well, I think of them as microblogs. Here is a brief history of how I got here and where I’m going.

I started Blogging in 2004. I started with a Blogspot/Blogger site that Google had already had taken over. After blogging for a couple years, and the fact that my wife decided that she wanted to try the online business, we both got our own domains (ministry-weather.com)and switched our stuff over to our respective domains.

I did that for a while, then in my research on social media, I stumbled upon Posterous. It allowed quick updating to a lot of social media services. I could tweet/Facebook without worrying about running past the 140 character limit on twitter, and have my pictures upload to Fb & Flickr, and videos to YouTube without having to go to the individual service and then send out links.

Then Posterous got bought by Twitter. In the social media world, that can mean that the service is going to be shut down and the people who put it together put on other projects. So in a moment of panic, I looked again at my blogspot blog. It was still there and I began using it again.

Then I read that Posterous isn’t going to be shut down, so I joined the two microblogs together. However, I have been getting more and more into wanting to blog the weather again. For those of you who don’t know, I used to have a clandestine weather blog that was aimed at people coming north for the weekend. I even podcasted with it. However, once we started to do a weather briefing at work, and I realized I just didn’t have the time for it, I outed myself, and closed it down. Well, now what I do, is if there is severe weather, thunderstorms, heavy snow, etc. then I put short posts out about it.

This blog has become the long winded opinion and ministry blog, and some times I put something about the weather on it. I also podcast on it, as I continue to research more about social media.

Well, now that you know where I have been, here is where I am going:  This blog will pretty much stay the same, I’ll probably podcast my stuff a bit more as I continue to figure things out about social media. The M & M Microblog on Posterous has become the M & M Weather Microblog. It will be entirely weather. The Blogspot M & M Microblog will be family stuff and short pieces where I comment a little more on some of the things I read.

This all helps me to find new technologies that can help me do my job or something else… So take a look at the microblogs.

More Grace and why I am on this kick

I’m not a great writer. I’m good, to the extent that I do get compliments when somebody reads these posts from time to time, but not great. Sometimes, I wish that more people read my blog and commented on what I had written, if only to learn from others as they read what I said.

However, it has occurred to me that 1. I’m searching for approval from my interactions. This is not what I wanted, I shouldn’t/don’t need validation, but those feelings have occurred, as I recently noted to my wife.  And 2. that I don’t think that I need to be out there among the Christian blogosphere writing who’s right and who’s wrong. Recently, there was another dust up between bloggers which you can read about here, and why that particular blogger decided to step away.

The post is long so if you go there, be prepared to sit and read the post for about 10-15 minutes. He feels that he needs to be a positive voice in Christianity, so closed down his current blog, and will be reopening a blog that will be more positive. I have to say that his take on the exchange between the other two bloggers was right on. There was a Calvinist and a non-Calvinist.  However, as I read the post, there was little grace or mercy. Oh sure, they talked about defending the weak and why they were right, but still there was no grace or mercy.

I’m big on grace and mercy as of late. With the move back to Gaylord, and some other issues, I have been struggling to not lose my cool, because things aren’t the way I want them. Don’t get me wrong, I try to effect change into the situations, but when the advice gets trampled on, I have to remember to show grace. Die to myself, just like Christ.

However, for the foreseeable future, I’ll write about grace and mercy. Everything I have been running into as of late has been pointing me in that direction. I will sound like a broken record probably in the months and years to come. However, I don’t care. I’m going to tell stories of grace and mercy. That is loving God and loving others. That’s what Jesus commanded.

As I have been in the process of writing this post two things have popped out at me. One, is what Rob Bell said in his latest video (at the bottom) and the other is Brian Zahnd in several sermons lately. It’s about the saying, “I’m spiritual, but not religious.” I think that Rob is right when he says that the problem is that we have lost the childlike wonder, because churches have told us dos and don’ts. Brian Zahnd says that the community of the church (body of Christ) is needed, but the church itself has been going down a dos and don’ts road for about 100 years or so. That there is a shift beginning to happen. I agree.

We can’t be loners. We must be a community. We must show grace and mercy to those within our community and those outside.  When they fail, and we will all fall sometime, we can’t be about dos and don’ts, but be about love. People (and specifically the media) give Christians such hard time because of what we are against, because typically it is said without love (not that they are interested in that, remember if it bleeds it leads). We should be more.

Jesus gave grace and mercy to the woman caught in adultery, not condemning her, but sending off with, “Go and sin no more.” What if we did this? What if we granted grace and mercy, and told people to go and sin no more? I’m starting to think that more people would be willing to come to church and live life together in love, than is happening now.

Here is what Derek Ouellette (the blog writer) concludes with:

Brothers and sisters, that’s why I’m moving on. That’s why I’m creating a blog around “inform.inspire.imagine.” That’s why I want to find new, creative ways to pass along my ideas, without tearing down another person. I want to exhort without attacking. I want to teach without ad hominem. I want to see people grow. And I want my place to be a place that contributes to a positive image of God’s Kingdom online.

This is the same tact that I am going to continue with on my blog. Maybe someday more will read it and realize that this is what we always should have been doing.

HT to John Meunier

The Jeff Show #7 – What Do You Desire?

Creative Commons license-some rights reserved by thanker212

Recently, I feel like God has been leading me into something. I’m not sure what, but the verse that much of this feeling is based on is Matthew 9:13, “But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners (NIV).” Couple this with  what one theologian calls  the “Jesus Creed,” Matthew 22:37-40, “…‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[c] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[d] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments (NIV).”

I see a lot of pain in this world. You can tell me that people should do “this or that,” but if the “this or that” (I’m talking about the Law) is hanging on to these verses, then don’t forget that we are to love one another, and show mercy.

During my time as an adult volunteer for the youth group, that is something that I have seen time and time again. Well meaning adults, telling the students what they should do, without any grace or mercy attached to it. This kind of starts a path down legalism within a person’s life. Which then reminds me of the line in the Orange County Supertones song Go Your Way,

“Not long after my rescue
I let my failures get me down
My sin had robbed me of the joy I had in you
Then you saved me from that too”

While I was listening to a sermon, within the last six months, the parable of shrewd manager was taught. So many look at the parables as morality stories, when they are so much more, and in this case, this parable isn’t a morality story. It has always puzzled me until I heard this sermon. If you’re not familiar with it (Luke 16:1-9), the manager was crooked, and the owner was going to fire the manager. Since the manager wouldn’t beg and was too old to do anything else he went to each of the people who owed the owner something and cut their amount owed. Now, the owner could have had the manager arrested and restored amount owed by the debtors, BUT…he didn’t, the manager risked that the owner, who was an honorable man would show him mercy and wouldn’t raise the amounts on the debtors.

God is like this. We are so crooked, but God will show us mercy.

With that in mind, I’m starting to see so much of the political process, not in left and right, Republican/Democrat, or anything else. I vote, but I don’t put my hope for change in anything that is tainted by humans, we are too self-centered. I vote for where the mercy is. I wrote that I lean libertarian. I’m willing to let people do whatever they want, but if they find themselves hurting, then I am willing to show them mercy. I’m here to love the Lord with all my heart, and all my soul, and all my heart; and my neighbor as myself. Which brings me back to learning what this means…I desire mercy and not sacrifice.