Newtown

News Reports of the Shooting a Newtown Elementary School

News Reports of the Shooting a Newtown Elementary School

Our wounds come at first breath
In the blood of a garden at rest
Toil cursed upon our commute
Commissioned to die in our youth

Hope like a blanket will be
At the coming He will set us free.

There are virtually no words to describe the news today. Is this our culture, our time, in which history will judge. I’m sad for all those involved today, God be with those families.

Newtown by Scott Fillmer

5 Descriptions of What Makes a Great Tweet on Twitter

What Makes a Great Tweet

This Actually is My 20,000th Tweet

This post is actually going to mark my 20,000th tweet on Twitter since I joined back on November 1st, 2007. Over that period of 5 years I have tweeted approximately 10 times a day, from 3 different countries, on 3 different continents, posted approximately 1,000 original images, and 1,000 original blog posts, while following around 1,000 unique very specific individuals. In honor of this pointless historical marker I have published my next list, 50 Reasons Why I Still Love Twitter, and give you 5 examples of what makes up my favorite tweets below. By the way, the Twitter favorites (star) is the greatest ever feature of twitter, and you can even create your own rss feed for your favorites list.

Twitter as an Essential Tool

Twitter has become an essential tool of our culture, and that’s where Twitter gets it’s power, it’s a tool, and a useful one. My very first post about Twitter on my blog back in 2008 asked just that question, Is Twitter Really a Useful Tool for Your Business? While that post is now far outdated, at the time, I really didn’t know the answer to that question. Back then people would tell me I don’t want to know what you are having for lunch, but now Twitter can facilitate changes to governments like we saw in Egypt and elsewhere, it’s gone beyond expectations. Many still choose to ignore it’s significance, but the power of Twitter has an almost undeniable usefulness the world has never seen.

What Makes a Great Tweet

So what makes a great tweet? Harvard Business Review did this study on just that very subject, and provided their results in this superb graphic shown above on what makes a great tweet and what makes the worst tweet. Overall, their conclusions seem to be spot on, but it can also be summed up in saying the overall best tweet is one that leads to something else. It provides some useful piece of information, or some unique insight such as this post I came across yesterday, What Would Peter Tweet?, and then leads the reader to take some action. So here are five descriptions that makes an overall great tweet.

  1. One that calls you to an action of some kind
    This can be anything from going to buy a pair of shoes from Toms because they do good things to doing the mundane
  2. A tweet that sends you to something bigger than the tweet itself
    Many times this can be as simple as providing a link to a book that the majority of your readers may not be familiar with, often this is a link to a news article or a blog post that will send the reader off to another site other than twitter
  3. A message that gives the reader some unique insight into your own personal life
    Too many tweets are party line tweets, whatever that party line is for you. It could be theology, it could be politics, or just pick something, but this is meaningless without being able to get to know the writer. All business and no play makes for a boring repetitive tweets.
  4. One that asks a question of the reader
    It doesn’t have to be a hard question, it just needs to invoke a response from the reader. This can be totally overdone, but this creates interaction, and that creates community, and Twitter is a community of followers and followees.
  5. One that shares a general piece of knowledge or information
    This is the biggie for me. There is so much noise on the internet and in the world today. Provide me with some useful knowledge about my faith, about the world we live in, about how other people live, about different unfamiliar communities. Twitter’s greatest power comes from its free flow sharing of information and knowledge, and this is the great advantage to society as a whole.

The worst tweets, totally not worth reading, are those that are complaining about something else or someone else. I personally can’t stand reading tweets from my followers who only say what’s wrong with this person or that (even if that actually is the case), and I will often quickly unfollow that user. Give us some insight into your life, in a positive way, and send us on our way better than when we came.

Some Recent Examples of Great Tweets

Those are just a few examples of great tweets from my most recent favorites list, and there you have it. My 20,000th tweet 740 words instead of 140 characters. Coincidentally, much of what makes a great tweet also makes a great blog post as well, but that’s for another day.

A Look Inside My Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day Brings Opportunity for Christians

Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day

Crowds at Chick-Fil-A Store #1445 at Tiger Town Shopping Center in Auburn

This is the last Chick-Fil-A pro marriage homosexual theological chicken eating post, promise… I think… maybe. This above photo was the scene at our local Chick-Fil-A Store #1445 today around 2:45-3:00pm(!), and what an awesome scene it was. There were lines of cars wrapped around the building, out into The Home Depot parking lot, and out into the streets. There was even a line at McDonald’s across the street to get over to the Chick-Fil-A parking lot, now that’s funny. From last word, the Chick-Fil-A in Prattville had to close after they sold out of chicken, and it’s possible ours will too. I love my Chick-Fil-A, and that’s how it feels to me, it’s not “the” Chick-Fil-A, it’s my store. I know people who work at this store, they have the best customer service hands down of any fast food restaurant in town ten-fold, and they have great food.

I have had many conversations with people about this “event” today, for lack of a better word, and it’s all across the board. Some Christians were saying don’t eat chicken today because of this and that, some were saying if you don’t eat chicken today you’re not a “Christian” and so on. From the reasonable to the absurd.

My question here, is, now what.

To be a Christian means to follow Christ, to become Christ-like. We the church body obviously have a huge reserve of people, many of which I think have been sitting on the sidelines, until eat chicken day came along. When we read the book of James we see the example Jesus’ brother gave us, to be people of action, and not just on Chick-Fil-A Appreciate Day, but 365 days out of the year, or 366 days this year. So where are we chicken eating people the other 364 days of the year? I mean here in Auburn, we Chick-Fil-A loving chicken eating people are pretty much the overwhelming majority, so it wasn’t too much of a stretch to eat there again today. Don’t get me wrong, today was definitely about eating chicken, and that was what we good chicken loving Bible Believers should have done today. But what about tomorrow? How do we show the love of Christ, and support uncompromising values and truths of Scripture the rest of the week?

You probably tracking with me so far, but here’s the kickers. Ever since today was dubbed Chick-Fil-A Appreciate Day, we social people (that’s all of us) have been throwing around opinions faster than the news can actually absorb them. Today was a great example of the reason churches should embrace social media, learn it’s power, and use it to point people back to Jesus as the Messiah. While the outpouring of support for Chick-Fil-A seems phenomenal all around the country, it does give the church body a great opportunity to reach out to gay people, to show them the love of Christ.

Scripture has example after example of Jesus eating with “sinners” like tax collector and prostitutes, perhaps we should be sitting down with gay people in our cities and talking to them about Christ as well?

Many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and his disciples, and when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”

…and Jesus responds by saying these are the people I came here to save (Matthew 9:10-13).

It’s a fine line we walk today. If we are going to make a point to go talk to homosexuals about Christ why not our next door neighbor? The homosexual groups see some Christians as hate mongers, hypocritical people who don’t follow what Christ teaches, and we see them as a people living in perpetual sin. There are absolute truths in Scripture that should not and can not be compromised. But there are ways to follow in Jesus’ footsteps without compromising what we believe. Perhaps this is done by sitting down and having a meal with someone you disagree with on such a fundamental level that the only way to agree is to allow the Holy Spirit to do His work?

I don’t know what today means for tomorrow. Come Friday when the homosexual “kiss-in” is supposed to happen, we may see the reverse of today. When that happens the only thing we may have accomplished will be to really irritate PETA for devouring so much chicken in one week, which is ok by me. If we come out today to buy chicken for ourselves, why aren’t we Christians going to come out Friday to buy lunch for some kissing couple?

There must be something learned by all this. There are theological truths to be learned here. There are opportunities to teach being handed to pastors on a silver platter. And there are opportunities to talk to people who do not know the love of Christ, and the salvation that comes with trusting in the Messiah. Would Jesus have eaten a chicken sandwich today, or would he sit down and eat with homosexuals on Friday, or both? Scripture seems to indicate both, but it matters because this is not life or death, this is eternal life and eternal death.

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Thanks Mayor Rahm Emanuel It’s Now Our Moral Obligation to Eat @Chick-Fil-A

Chick-Fil-A Gay Marriage Prayer

Thankfully it is now our moral obligation to eat at Chick-Fil-A, not just a place you go when you want good chicken. This of course is due, in part, to Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino who apparently want to lead the way in being the two most stupid mayors in the country, and thus pushing both sides to action. Ever since word got out Chick-Fil-A was a Christian company a few days ago, (oh wait, haven’t they always been?) these mayors have insisted on displaying their lack of knowledge on how our country was founded. Like a mob boss from the 1960’s the mayor of Chicago greatly discourages Chick-Fil-A from coming to Chicago where they are not welcome, and the Boston mayor Vows To Block Chick-Fil-A From Opening Restaurant After Anti-Gay Remarks. I hope the ACLU sues both of them seeing how the ACLU actually agrees with Chickfila’s right to move into any city they choose.

This is an amazing time we live in when the words of a person who owns a private, family run business, can cause a fire storm by say, “guilty as charged.” He didn’t say, “I want to kill gay people,” or “I’m going to bomb a gay politician,” he didn’t even go as far as those stupid people in Topeka, KS led by Fred Phelps at Westboro, and he didn’t actually DO anything. From those three words though, eating a Chick-fil-a sandwich has now become a political statement, and a moral obligation to those who support traditional marriage.

I’ve got news for these mayors. You know why most of us, even those who oppose gay marriage, eat at a restaurant? Because they have GOOD FOOD! Deborah loves eating at Hooters because she thinks they have the greatest wings, and trust me, she’s not going there because she wants to see anything besides the wings. I don’t particularly care for Hooters wings, so I generally prefer the local chicken finger place down the road.

But now, you mayors Emanuel and Menino have awoken the dead and sleeping, and have made it a necessity to support Chick-Fil-A even more by your idiotic statements (I’m not quite sure how I can personally do that though since I already eat there several times a week). Now, thanks to your careless disregard for the constitution, you have even awoken and united those toughest of baby boomers who would sooner give up part of their 401(K) than to hold a protest sign, and lowered them to “Eat Mor Chikin.” Even Billy Graham Defends Chick-fil-A, Traditional Marriage Amid Uproar, and he is a far more powerful individual in history than either mayor.

This is the defining social agenda of our day. Amazing. It is not what a terrible economic situation our country is facing. It is now how to best celebrate the sin of homosexuality and make sure everyone agrees that gay marriage is acceptable by all. As it was written recently, Gay Is Not the New Black, and this redefining of marriage is not something orthodox Christians are going to ever give up. This is core to Scripture’s teaching, and not because homosexuality is a sin, which it is, but because Scripture presents us, the Church, as the bride of Christ. Those churches who have given in to the pressures of homosexuality have violated the marriage between Christ and their church, they have become an adulterous church.

Society and culture may keep trying to waste away the beliefs of some when it comes to homosexuality, just as they did with abortion convincing millions this horrific act is not the actual killing and murder of another person, but they will never be able to change the Word of God. There are few things in Scripture that are more clearly defined than the sin of homosexuality, and there just isn’t thing one any mayor can do about that. As society tries to convince the faithful that homosexuality and gay marriage is acceptable in God’s eyes, they show their understanding of the issues to be one like Homosexuality, Polyester, and Shellfish. The more they protest, the more they show a total and complete misunderstanding of basic hermeneutical principles of the Bible.

Did you know there is actually something that orthodox Muslims, Jews, and Christians all agree on? That homosexuality is a sin. Now there is something the ACLU and Chick-Fil-A both agree on, the Freedom of Speech that clearly allows Dan Cathy to say what he wants, without the threat from thugs in Chicago.

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There is no Frigate Like a Book from the Pen of Emily Dickinson

The more I try to learn and understand how prose and poetry works, the more I realize that I can’t recapture the the years of ignoring virtually all literature from my childhood. It’s like starting in grade school again and working your way up, only now you don’t have time to do so because of bills and life and work and school and family and so on. This part of literature now gets relegated to learning a tiny snippet then when another writer (Lenard Sweet in this case via Viral) points out how important poetry is, then picking it back up again and learning a little more. I’ve done this for almost 5 years now, and I’m not sure I’ve learned a whole lot, but I’ve learned more than if I never picked up poetry at all.

Lenard Sweet in his book Viral spends a great deal on the importance of poetry in one chapter, and then goes on to show how much the Google generation has rejected this form of literature (and mine too for that matter), to replace it with the world of images and graphics. But the more our world, culture, and societies as a whole forget how to write in cursive, the more we should continue to write in cursive ourselves, lest we forget the power of words. Same goes with poetry, and especially in our churches!

If you are a Christian, no matter how much you try, you can’t get away from the fact that God’s way of communicating with us is in words, and the greatest poetry ever written is found in Scripture. It’s no wonder. Poetry, in one form, is a way to say something that can’t be said in words, and much of Scripture is just that, too great for words. There are countless examples, but I like the this reason from the book of John… “If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things?” (3.12). The Spiritual world of God uses poetry for a good reason, it helps to explain the unexplainable, something that needs a parable to show its depth.

I love short poems that are easily digestible at this point, it will take me years to work up to appreciating Shakespeare, but here Emily Dickinson explains the power of a book.

There is no Frigate Like a Book

There is no frigate like a book
To take us lands away,
Nor any coursers like a page
Of prancing poetry.
This traverse may the poorest take
Without oppress of toll.
How frugal is the chariot
That bears the human soul!

~Emily Dickinson

It just conveys so much more meaning to compare the power of a book to a warship of immense power and beauty. Much like a product of my generation, I know my weakness in understanding literature is the image. Being a photographer for so long, the image is what I created through capturing light, not an image in my mind through capturing words read. Trying to relearn how words express their own images, without the need for a graphic is quite hard in the 21st century, I can’t imagine how hard it will be in the 22nd century, but it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.

Do We Publish Anything With Meaning and Longevity Today?

Edwards Sermons Publication

How much do we write that has meaning and longevity today? While we aren’t, and can’t, all be Mark Zuckerberg (see Mark Zuckerberg and the Biblical Meaning of Success), it got me thinking about the value (and noise) we add when it comes to our photos, videos, and  our writing today. Much like photography when the digital camera boom happened, there was a flood of “uncle Bob” photographers that rushed on the scene, flooding every corner of the Internet with second rate photos. Now 10 years later, photographers, pros and amateurs alike, are adding a staggering 200 million photos to Facebook PER DAY, or around 6 billion per month, and that’s just Facebook, Flickr from February and March 2012, has reached the pace of 1.8 million photos a day, that is up to 28 photos per second in peak times. Same goes with video, YouTube is now receiving 72 hours of video uploads per MINUTE, and I’m sure the same goes with the music industry.

So what about writing? WordPress (the blogging platform of choice for many writers and bloggers, added 937,374 new posts, 1,492,356 comments, & 197,044,567 words TODAY on WordPress.com, which doesn’t even include self-hosted WordPress blogs making that number about double. When you add Twitter in at something in the range of 300-350 million tweets per day, you really start to see the massive amount of data we put out each day. Perhaps volume of information written degrades the overall quality of our writing? Would someone who wrote in the 15-17th century have actually had an advantage to writing in the 21st century? Less noise, less Tweeting, Facebooking, blogging, Instagr.am-ing, etc, would probably have given Calvin or Luther more time to write, and write well, right?

This morning I received a notification from the Jonathan Edwards Center at Yale that Wipf & Stock Publication has released previously unpublished writings of a series of sermons preached by Jonathan Edwards between 1737-1738. Here is a man who wrote profusely when it couldn’t be done on a computer. He had to write by hand, and even at that often times he didn’t have paper and had to use any scrap he could locate. In fact, he wrote so much that a whole team and museum of people are still sifting through his writings, trying to compile them into volumes. I wonder how much he could have written in the 21st century world. Maybe it would have been less… and not nearly as inspired as it was?

Is True Christianity Represented on CNN, Discovery, and History Channel?

CNN Belief Blog

Can we really know the true meaning of Christianity today? The answer of course, is an emphatic yes, of course we can, but the answer always seems to change depending on who you ask. Our culture is filled with blogs and news articles like the CNN “Belief Blog” and the Washington Post “On Faith” section, which constantly adjust the meaning of Christianity to suit their own needs, mostly to be politically correct. Make no mistake, these are secular institutions, writing for a single collective purpose and goal in mind, to make a monetary profit. These are businesses, and in business to make money (nothing wrong with that).

These news blogs ask good theological questions like Are Mormons Christians?, because they are hot-button topics, but they often give politically correct answers, ones rarely correct to true Christianity. The Mormon question is a great example, where the press wants to find some way for Christianity to accept Mormons as Christians. If they knew the differences between Christianity and what the Mormon’s say they believe, they would understand why this is just never going to happen (see a good article A Comparison Between Christian Doctrine and Mormon Doctrine). To a learned Christian, Mormons will never be considered “Christians,” even if the Mormon’s say they are, and that is just one small hot topic today of thousands.

I love the Discovery Channel series “Who is Jesus,” and the History Channel’s The Shroud of Turin, but taking serious Christian spiritual or doctrinal advise from these places would be like determining the true meaning of Christianity via the Discovery Channel and History Channel. Sadly, I’m guessing this is where many people in our culture today decide what true Christianity is and isn’t.

The truth of Christianity of course is only found from Scripture, period. If that’s so can a true biblical view also be presented to our culture by means of a secular for-profit company? I think Charles Schultz was one of the first to try and answer that question in our current day when he had Linus read from the book of Luke. After reading another blog post this morning asking “Can we really know the true meaning of Christianity today?”, it made me think… how quickly could you/we/me answer the question? Would the answer come from our deep seeded bias’ we all carry, or would it be a Biblical answer?

There are almost countless ways to answer that question in truth, but here are two quick ways to explain the true and real meaning of Christianity. It’s simple… we make it complex.

  • John 13:35 Jesus says :: “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (something also expanded on by Paul in Romans 12:9-21)
  • Romans 10:9-10 Paul says: That is the outpouring of our decision for Christ… “because if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead you will be saved”

Those are just two quick ways to answer that question, there are many more.

Gay Dallas Judge Tonya Parker Refuses to Marry Homosexual Couples in her Court

On the surface, if you are one who stands behind Paul on Romans 1:24-27 (among many other verses of course), you would think this judge refusing gay marriage in her courtroom is a good thing (see YouTube video Judge Parker talks about LGBT issues in her court). But today of course, you can never look at something on the surface level, or by the headlines, and really get the full picture. This judge is taking her stand as a form of protest that the Texas legislature has not passed a law permitting Gay marriage, so she is refusing to marry gay couples in her court room, and instead is choosing to pass the buck down the line to her fellow judges (I’m sure they appreciate that) to wed all the gay couples coming to her courtroom. She says:

“I use it as my opportunity to give them a lesson about marriage inequality in this state because I feel like I have to tell them why I’m turning them away,” Parker said. “So I usually will offer them something along the lines of, ‘I’m sorry. I don’t perform marriage ceremonies because we are in a state that does not have marriage equality, and until it does, I am not going to partially apply the law to one group of people that doesn’t apply to another group of people.’ And it’s kind of oxymoronic for me to perform ceremonies that can’t be performed for me, so I’m not going to do it.”

I pick this topic up this morning briefly (this is a great post too), as I have about once a year, because of the similar nature it has to do with a post I did years ago that still resonates with the gay marriage debate, Christian Photographer Who Refused Gay Wedding Lost Lawsuit. Our culture is at such a point today where we have utterly refused to see the Truth that before long, posts like this will be considered hate speech. It is already to a point where in Colorado you can’t openly speak what the Truth of Scripture says about the homosexual lifestyle, something you haven’t been able to do in Canada in a long time.

Frankly speaking, I’m tired of this country acting like the homosexual debate is a matter of civil rights, but that’s what happens when we blend Truth with sin. Eventually when the state of Texas makes it legal for Gay couples to marry, as I am pretty sure all states eventually will, I hope as the post above stated, they will offer the same courtesy to a judge who refuses to perform Gay weddings due to their religious beliefs, though that judge will probably be sued. My point is basically this… I am for equality, free speech, and the freedoms this country were founded on, but don’t exchange one freedom for another like they seem to have already done in Canada and elsewhere. I have the right to say homosexuality is a sin according to God’s word (one that is equal with any other sin we all commit on a a daily basis, both needing of repentance), just like others have the right to say it isn’t. My question is, when does openly speaking about Romans 1 become “illegal” in America?

None of this changes Paul’s words in Romans. Nothing ever will. No matter how much we debate the topic in this country of whether homosexuality is a sin or not, God’s words in Romans (and many other places) will never change. You can change the laws in the country, you can even put people in jail or sue them for speaking the Truth or taking a stand for their beliefs, but even if Heaven and Earth pass away, God’s words will never pass away (Luke 21:33).

Sunday with The World State by G K Chesterton :: Poem

I think it has literally taken me a few years to adjust to Sunday being a work day, and I have grown to absolutely love late Sunday afternoons after all the services and meetings are over. It’s one of those few times during the week I get (usually) a few quiet uninterrupted hours to spend with Deborah watching a game or to read. A while back on the recommendation from Piper on the Role of Poetry in the Christian Life I picked up the book A Sacrifice of Praise, An Anthology of Christian Poetry in English from Caedmon to the Mid-Twentieth Century (yes, I seem to just find books with long titles). I came across this poem by Chesterton, with a short title, called The World State I thought I would share below.

The World State

Oh, how I love Humanity,
With love so pure and pringlish,
And how I hate the horrid French,
Who never will be English!

The International Idea,
The largest and the clearest,
Is welding all the nations now,
Except the one that’s nearest.

The compromise has long been known,
This scheme of partial pardons,
In ethical societies
And small suburban gardens—

The villas and the chapels where
I learned with little labour
The way to love my fellow-man
And hate my next-door neighbour.

I love the subtle in your face presentation of the “second greatest commandment” here found in Matthew 22. There is just something about the Brits and the French that make me laugh and I can hear this poem being read aloud in a British pub somewhere like The Eagle and the Child in that awesome British accent. Chesterton was a poet, writer, and literary critic in the very early 1900’s and was friends with H.G. Wells, Bernard Shaw, and others. He also wrote, among many other things, Saint Francis of Assisi.

Cultural Priorities and the Breakneck Speed of the West

I love this shot of Jason, Eddie (our driver in Uganda), and myself. If you are holding a machete in the middle of the woods-jungle I think it’s a rule, you have to stop to have a photo taken. Jason and I were attempting to clear a few branches away for a lady who lived on the property and to say thanks she gave Eddie these awesome avocados (you can just see her in the photo in the upper right background). Actually, we both thought it would be really cool to get to use a machete to do some actual real work, and I ended up with the machete and Jason the axe pipe thing (sorry Jason).

I know I have said it before but it still amazes me. The speed and priorities of life in Bulboa where this lady lives is so extremely different from the west, even different from just up the road in Kampala. Life down in Buloba isn’t really run by a clock on a wall like we know it, and no one seems to be in a hurry to do anything, it’s just TIA (this is Africa). I didn’t really hear that said too much while I was over there, but I did hear it a few times, which generally refers to “whenever”. I personally loved that and enjoyed the down time, especially since that pretty much doesn’t exist at all on this side of the world. I fight for it every week but it’s certainly not the norm no matter how hard you try to slow things down. The little wood we chopped up was supposed to last her about a month, although I’m not sure how, the same bit of wood wouldn’t have been enough to start a fire to me. We did spend about an hour or two walking around this neighborhood while others in our group worked on some painting. It was very low key, very laid back, very TIA.

Over here this week life moved along at our normal breakneck speed. Nothing inherently wrong with that but every minute of every day is packed full and it didn’t take me any time at all to fall back into life at hyper-speed where you have to fight for margin. Margin is where life happens, where we meet with God and remember why we do what we do.