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Monday, September 29, 2008

A Lesson Learned

I just watched two commercials on tv supporting Windows Vista. It seems they told several subjects that they were exposing them to the newest Windows operating system called Mojave. These people said they like it. I think Microsoft wants us to believe that all the negative talk about Vista is unfounded. If we would open our minds, we would like Vista.

I didn't interpret this ad positively. The subjects could not have known much about computers or they would have recognized the operating system as Vista. Evidently, they were not given very long to use the system or they couldn't have made the ad while they were still in the room. My conclusion is:

If you don't know much about computers and you don't use it for very long, you will love Windows Vista!

Obviously, I am frustrated with Vista. I don't like the fact that Microsoft put out an operating system that doesn't run much of the software I like. They have essentially said: We are so big now that we don't have to listen to the customers anymore.

However, this attitude is not exclusively Microsoft's problem. I think the Church has often done the same thing.

The Church has preached a message of what people have done wrong without emphasizing that God came to people who had done things wrong. The gospel message is not one in which we say to people, "Just deal with it," but one which we must listen to the people so that we can get the opportunity to share our message. The Church must understand why people are who they are in order to know how to present the message. The Church must share this message with compassion and mercy.

There are times when it must be said, "Thus saith the Lord," for sin will always be sin. But God's love will always overcome the shortcomings of everyone who comes to Him.

It is so easy for me to sit in my office preparing sermons without regard for those who will hear them. I have not walked in their shoes. My messages can easily be interpreted as, "If you don't know much and don't follow me very long, you'll really like my messages."

God continues to confront me with my need for His mercy. I must respond by giving mercy to others or I never understood that mercy. I cannot be one who does not care about those whom He came to love into His kingdom. Since God never says, "To Hell with you!" neither can I.

I guess the lesson I have learned from these ads has made a positive impact on me. Maybe Vista isn't all bad after all. . .not!!!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Breaking News or Making News?

I am from Texas and, therefore, watch news about my home state. The most recent has been the coverage of Hurricane Ike. Many people have evidently lost their lives and the flooding damage will run in the billions. These deserve news coverage.

The speculation, however, gets to me. Of course, more time is spent on worst case scenarios than what is likely to happen. Reporters are placed in harms way to show the extent of the damage or the ferocity of the storm. One "expert" after another prognosticates where the storm will go, what the storm will do and what that will mean for the economy.

I have a crazy idea. Why not just report what we know? Why not give a greater picture of the storm? Show the places where the things are good along with where the things are bad. Don't put the reporters in dangerous places. After all, you really can't show how bad it is on a television screen anyway. Videos of an event are just not the same as being there.

Unfortunately, the media has always flourished when the news is bad. "If it bleeds; it leads," is the mantra of nightly news. People seem attracted to destruction. "You, too, can own the dvd of the end of the world as reported right here!"

Maybe the media got their cue from preachers. We have been telling the world that it was doomed for a long time. The greater our ability to say that bad things are coming; the greater our crowds. Of course, we have reversed that trend to go in exactly the opposite direction. Now, preachers are telling everyone that God is going to make them stinking rich. It brings more crowds than the disaster stories. Will the media pick up on this too?

Both preachers and the media need to tell the story more accurately than to sensationalize just for the sake of drawing a crowd. Speculation and sensationalism is making news rather than breaking news. This may make both sermons and news programs much shorter.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Buying Back My Wrongs?

I ride a bicycle to work almost every day. One day of the week I have an early breakfast meeting and it just isn't practical. I leave my car at the church every day except that one so that I can still go to the hospitals or meet any emergency.

Some days the car is never started. It burns no gas this way. It emits no harmful emissions. It saves money. I get exercise. I have lost ten pounds doing this. I think everyone has benefited.

I hear that some people use a great deal of energy and somehow buy back "green points" or something like that. This solution to our energy and environment problems gives those who are wealthy an opportunity to keep their lifestyles as they would like. Then, they can demand that the rest of us be as "green" conscious as they are. Who are they kidding?

This sounds like I can do anything that I want to as long as I have some method of buying back my wrong decisions. I can't imagine telling the police, "Yes, Officer, I did just run that red light but I promise I will stop twice at the next one." Surely, this will make everything alright?

The better decision is to not do the wrong things in the first place. I can't buy back my wrongs anyway. I can pretend that this makes a difference but it does not take these wrongs away. It just makes me feel better about myself. However, this is a false absolution. The effect of the wrong is still there.

Maybe we get the idea from our faith. Do people think that they can do anything they want to if they follow it up with a lot of good things? I certainly don't think so.