This is a great look at preaching today, all the way back from from John Calvin, to A.W. Tozer, and on to John MacArthur who is quoted as saying “Worship services in many churches today are like a merry-go-round. You drop a token in the collection box; it is a good ride.” For an in-depth look at the history of preaching and what it means for our churches today, check out this article called “The Centrality of Preaching,” it is well worth the read.

Reformed Baptist Fellowship

By Pastor Tom Lyon of Providence Reformed Baptist Church of University Place,Washington

Preaching has fallen on hard times. The great Protestant Reformer, John Calvin, wrote: “At the present day there are many who are well-nigh sickened by the very name of preaching, because there are so many stupid, ignorant men who blurt out their worthless brain waves from the pulpit.” That was 450 years ago! Today not only has preaching been decentralized, but the greater part of what is called “preaching” no longer deserves to be at the center. This has created a vacuum and few have raised a voice while a Pandora’s Box of replacements has rushed in to fill the void.”

A.W. Tozer said of the danger: “One of the most popular current errors, and the one out of which springs most of the noisy, blustering religious activity in evangelical circles, is the notion that as times change…

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Letter Explains Mitt Romney for Commencement Speaker at Liberty University

Mitt Romney at Liberty University

Every since Liberty University announced that Mitt Romney was going to be the Commencement Speaker (see also the Washington Post, the Huffington Post, the CBS News, and even the POLITICO) for this year’s graduation class [some] people have been in an uproar (so says the Daily Kos anyway, the people I know had no problem with it at all). Most of the uproar comes in the form of the fact that Romney is a Mormon, and doesn’t align with Liberty’s theological vision, which is correct, he is, and he doesn’t.

Yesterday, the Office of the Chancellor, or Jerry Falwell, Jr. addressed concerns with the statements below. I guess at some level an explanation was needed, but the one presented below is a great example why this is no different than any other speaker Liberty has had in the past. I for one am glad that they have such a wide variety of speakers at Liberty. I’m sure there are those who can shred the theological explanation below, but it’s good enough for me, and it goes beyond just the criticism of having a Mormon speak at graduation, the letter explains why Liberty’s mission statement, to train Champions for Christ, includes welcoming Mitt Romney, regardless of his faith or politics.

Dear Students,

My office has received hundreds of messages from students and 2012 graduates who are thrilled and honored that the presumptive Republican nominee for president of the United States will be our Commencement speaker. Some graduates have also inquired about Liberty’s policies regarding the doctrinal beliefs of graduation speakers. These same questions seem to surface every spring and I am writing you in response to those inquiries.

First of all, it is important to remember that Liberty actually has two Commencement speakers each year. Long ago, most universities ceased their practice of including a Baccalaureate service during their Commencement weekend, but we have insisted on keeping this service as a demonstration of our Christian commitment to the Great Commission and the Great Commandment.

This year our Baccalaureate speaker is Luis Palau. Dr. Palau is an evangelist who has preached the Gospel to a billion people. Palau is often considered second only to Billy Graham in his influence for the Gospel, and, as is our tradition, he will be clearly delivering the Gospel at Baccalaureate.

For twenty-five years Liberty has traditionally had leaders from the worlds of politics, business, and entertainment speak during the Commencement ceremony on Saturday. Most of these leaders have not traditionally shared Liberty’s doctrinal convictions. In the last few years, our Commencement speakers have included an evangelical filmmaker (Randall Wallace), a Mormon commentator (Glenn Beck), a Jewish economist (Ben Stein), an evangelical actor and athlete (Chuck Norris), an evangelical – now Catholic – politician (Newt Gingrich), a Catholic commentator (Sean Hannity), a Southern Baptist senator (John McCain), and an Episcopalian chief of staff to President Bush (Karl Rove). In all, at least 20 of Liberty’s 38 Commencement speakers have fit in this category.

My father’s vision for Liberty University was both a theological and a cultural vision. Theologically, it was to found the world’s preeminent Christian university where every faculty member professed faith in Jesus Christ, agreed with our doctrinal statement, and sought to fulfill the Great Commission and live the Great Commandment. Culturally, it was to found a university that held in high regard our nation’s founding principles of limited government, the free enterprise system, and individual liberty. Liberty’s tradition has been to focus on the first part of this vision during the Friday night ceremony and the second part on Saturday morning.

Liberty’s commitment to an annual Baccalaureate service has ensured that we have never held a Commencement that did not include a strong gospel message from an evangelical leader.

I am sure that members of the Liberty University community will treat Gov. Romney with the respect he deserves, regardless of whether they agree with his religious or political beliefs.

When my father traveled the nation speaking at many secular universities, he was often met with boos and hisses by those who held different theological beliefs than he. I am so proud that Liberty students have gained a reputation for treating those whose beliefs are different than their own in a Christ-like manner. You have shown respect to speakers as divergent from Liberty’s worldview as Ted Kennedy, Bob Beckel, and Tim Kaine.

Gov. Romney is a man who has excelled in business, governed a state, and even managed the Olympic games. He has been faithfully married to his wife, Ann, for 43 years, and they have 5 sons and 16 grandchildren. Gov. Romney is a leader of global significance, who might eventually be the leader of the free world, and we are honored that he accepted our invitation.

An invitation to speak at Commencement is not an ad-hoc endorsement of a presidential candidate or even of that particular speaker’s religious or political views. The ultimate purpose of having a prominent Commencement speaker is not to promote the speaker or his views but rather to inspire and challenge the graduates and showcase Liberty and its mission.

My prayer is that having the presumptive Republican nominee as our speaker will cause many who have never heard of Liberty to take notice of what Liberty is doing to train a generation of Champions for Christ. Perhaps, many of them will consider a Christian education over the secular alternative.

Sincerely,

Jerry Falwell, Jr.
Chancellor and President

That explanation won’t cut it for some, but for many, no explanation would suffice at all.

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Google Drive vs Dropbox, Amazon, or Microsoft Sky Drive for Cloud Storage?

Google Drive Storage

There was some great news from Google this week concerning cloud storage, and while it isn’t up to what I want in replacing your hard drive, Google Drive is a great step forward in drive cloud storage with 5GB free, and apparently I’m grandfathered in to my 20GB $5/year plan (see screenshot below). Finally Google put some effort into developing something we can truly use instead of trying to beat Facebook or Twitter at social networking. Eventually, this type of storage is going to do away with our need to keep purchasing more and more hard drives to store our files with only a small flash drive needed on the system for the OS. I have almost 8TB’s of data stored on local hard drives at this point, so this lousy 5GB of storage won’t help that, but it’s a start.

If you aren’t familiar with using cloud storage, until now, there was really only one real option, and that was Dropbox. Yes there are those like Box.com and Amazon Cloud Drive (provide 5 GB), and Microsoft’s SkyDrive (offers 25 GB) who just made some nice improvements this week, probably in anticipation of the release of Google Drive. Each of those have some significant disadvantages, and I don’t ever really consider them to be viable options because of their limitations or issues. Apple’s iCloud is great for backing up devices, but it doesn’t even offer an option for drive storage in the cloud. While I love Dropbox, the basic computer user still isn’t really familiar with Dropbox, and they are with Google. That doesn’t make Google better than Dropbox, but it does make Google Drive easier to integrate with your friends or family to share files. So which one is better, Google Drive or Dropbox? There services seem to be almost identical, but Google has some significant advantages over Dropbox.

Google Drive Storage 20GB $5 year

The biggest news, at least to me, about the Google Drive launch in the fact that they are going to allow you to keep up to 100GB of data stored for a reasonable price of $5.99, it’s just too bad once you get above that, it’s outrageous, but that too will change. This is great on multiple levels, and something probably only Google could do with some massive data centers that companies like Dropbox, and perhaps even Microsoft, just don’t have. When you are looking at possible server farm potential for cloud storage, the biggest possibilities right now are Google, Amazon, and of course Apple who just built a massive cloud server farm in North Carolina, which is even visible from space now. All of this is good for those who want all files stored in the cloud instead of on local home hard drives that fail.

Advantages and Disadvantages in Google Drive vs Dropbox

  • More storage – 5GB of Storage on Google compared to 2GB on Dropbox (you can gain more on Dropbox)
  • Blanket Existing Coverage  – most of us already use Google for just about everything from email to Internet searches
  • Google Recognition – sometimes this is negative, but in this case, everyone has heard of Google, tech-nerds know Dropbox
  • Integration and Development in OS – both have ability to run within MAC OS-X or Windows but Google has greater development potential. The biggest plus here is with Google Docs and other Google products.
  • Automatic Syncing – both have this as well, that’s the point of cloud storage
  • Works with iOS and Android – both have this too (Google Drive says coming soon on iOS), but the Dropbox versions could use some better features, hopefully Google will do this
  • Backup – this is a big question for me, what happens with my account and my files if the company goes Chapter 11. Google has less chance to do this.
  • Potential Increases in Storage – Google is known for increasing storage size constantly, and to me, the more storage the better
  • Integration with Google Apps – Not sure how soon this is on their radar, but at work we use a Google App account
  • No URL Links – Dropbox just released this feature this week, a feature that lets you have a unique URL for each file. I see no mention about this in the Google Drive information but it has to be in the works, they couldn’t have just overlooked this feature. For now, I only see this available on Dropbox.

For now we all have to wait until Google actually rolls it out instead of just giving us the information, and of course, they developed the Android OS before the iOS, so us Apple iPhone and iPad users will have to wait even longer. Still, it’s a step in the right cloud storage direction!

Project 365 [Day 145] Photo Editing Day for Project 365

Project 365 [Day 145] Editing Day for Project 365 on My 27" iMac

Today was editing day for Project 365. I am truly amazed at how difficult it has been to keep up with this seemingly simple task of taking one image a day for 365 days. I have managed to keep up ok with actually taking the image, although some days it has come right down to the wire, but trying to keep up with posting said images has been a difficult task. I could have made it a little easier on myself and just posted raw unprocessed iPhone images on Instagr.am every day, but that just isn’t my style. So this photo above is, yes, a photo of my office where I am processing my photos, but that’s what I did today. To see the other P365 (or posts) images just go to the gallery at http://p365.me  over on my Flickr site where they are arranged day by day.

Auburn’s Heisman Trophy Winner Statues for Pat Sullivan, Bo Jackson, and Cam Newton

Auburn Bo Jackson Heisman Trophy Winner Statue

Auburn Cam Newton Heisman Trophy Winner Statue

Auburn Pat Sullivan Heisman Trophy Winner Statue

Before the annual Auburn A-Day Game this year (see Auburn Tigers Football A-Day Game Photos For 2012 from last weekend), Auburn unveiled the new Heisman Trophy statues, one by one, Pat Sullivan, Bo Jackson and Cam Newton, who accepted their honors with a short speech at the ceremony (you can watch all three videos here from AL.com). We did not come early for the unavailing of the statues, but since we live in Auburn, we can come down and see them any time we like I guess. These shots are of the three statues that now reside at the from entrance (east side) of Jordan-Hare Stadium, taken last week before the A-Day game.

I’m sure I will take some more additional shots of the statues later when there aren’t any crowds clamoring to get at them. The detail is pretty exquisite even if you aren’t an Auburn fan, they are detailed all the way to the cleats each wore, with a nice “AU” on the back of Sullivan’s shoe. The thing that really amazed me about these three athletes, and their corresponding Heisman Trophies, is their span of time. Each of the three represent a unique generation. I took my nephew to the A-Day game who is the biggest Cam Newton fan ever, but of course he doesn’t remember watching Bo Jackson run down the field, and neither do I remember watching Pat Sullivan throw a pass, and my dad, who was also at the A-Day game, can remember just about every game and play Pat Sullivan was in. It’s a little creepy, and a little cool, The three generations go my dad, me, and my nephew, each who grew up watching their own generations Heisman Trophy winner from Auburn. War Eagle!