Tag Archives: Modern Technology

E is for Everlasting

Lord, you have been our dwelling place
throughout all generations.
Before the mountains were born
or you brought forth the whole world,
from everlasting to everlasting you are God.
(Psalm 90:1-2 NIV)

With today’s fast paced world, it’s difficult to think of anything everlasting. That new gadget that just hit the market will be forgotten, replaced and superseded in an increasing short period of time. We watch as people declare their love for one another before God and then dissolve their union a few years later. Church members jump from congregation to congregation at the least hint of dissatisfaction.

My head spins when I think of the breakneck pace of change. Working in the computer world I see this daily and it’s difficult to keep up with all the changes. Nothing stays the same. I seem to always be struggling to keep up with the change. It’s a fruitless endeavor that is seldom accomplished for more than a day before something changes again.

I’m glad the same cannot be said for God. Just think of how difficult it would be to have faith in something which was constantly changing. The writer to the Hebrews reminds us of God’s immutability as evidenced in His incarnation. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8 NIV)

We can count on consistency. If the Lord tells us to believe and we will be saved, that is as true in the first century world as it is today. “For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.” (John 6:40 NIV)

The goal post is NOT moving. Salvation is a matter of belief. We are the ones constantly changing and, while on this earth, subject to the ravages of time. Peter tells us, “All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord endures forever.” (1 Peter 1:24-25 NIV)

This world is deteriorating and will eventually decay into nothing. Our desires in this world will go up in smoke. John reminds us, “The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.” (1 John 2:17 NIV) If we place our hope and life in the hands of the world we will be disappointed when it all comes crashing down.

God does not change. The grace of God is evident throughout history to those who seek His face and accept the substitutionary sacrifice of Jesus. This hasn’t changed and is everlasting. John writes the most spectacular everlasting declaration, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16 NIV)

Has this changed? Nope! Nada! No way! There is comfort in the everlasting love of God. There is excitement in the everlasting care of Jesus. “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” (John 10:27-30 NIV)

Perhaps we should stop looking for the everlasting in a decaying world. I think it’s best to look at the everlasting love and grace of God. There we can find comfort today, tomorrow, and forever.

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:18 NIV)

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Digital Selection

Sometimes I feel young at heart even though I’m getting older. When it comes to modern technology I usually feel ancient. Although working with modern computer systems and knowing more about the systems than most people I meet I’m still like a dinosaur when it comes to using these devices in the modern social media inundated digital age. I’m into Facebook (to keep tabs on my children and grandchildren), email (a dinosaur), texting (formerly SMS), cloud storage, and a host of modern technological marvels which attempt to improve my life. I think I’ve got it figured out until I start interacting with the next generation’s immersive lifestyle of technology.

My wife coined a great phrase, “Digital Selection.” It started when some young upstart commented that finding such and such on the ministry’s home page was simple and intuitive. It was then we decided their definition of simple and intuitive was different than ours. I figured with my extensive background in computers, web page design, and the like, I could find what we were looking for. No success. I’ve become a victim of Digital Selection.

What is Digital Selection you might ask? It isn’t using a search engine to find the cheapest price for a new tablet or notebook or to decide the proper resolution for your new high definition television. It’s when the ability to easily wade through modern technology to the desired destination is hampered by an aging understanding of how things work in the digital world. We’ve been Digitally Selected to be out of touch with the younger generation. Beth says, “They’re going to put us on an iceberg and float us out to sea.”

Originally electronics and computers were purely logical. That I can understand. Unfortunately, with the proliferation of social media infecting the mental growth and processes of the next generation what used to follow rules has been reprogrammed to follow the circuitous pathway of the younger mind in a media saturated generation. Pure computer logic has given way to what can appear as random chaos similar to a planned life-giving way to going with the flow. In my mind, the algorithm of the program isn’t easily discovered, almost like the perfect security cypher.

For those raised in such an environment it makes perfect sense. All the pieces fit together smoothly in their concept of the digital age. Unfortunately, it leaves the older generation confused trying to put the square pegs into the round holes. Sometimes we just don’t see the connection. We are therefore Digital Selected to be relegated to the outer circle of fellowship and communication. While I poke fun at this the centuries have demonstrated the division of one generation from another almost proportionally related to the advancement in technology.

When I was young the use of electric guitars, electronic pianos and electronic organs started insinuating themselves into the fabric of modern rock and roll music as well as creeping into bastion of the classic orchestra and even, gasp, into church music. This confused parents who were familiar with the smooth tones of classical wind and string instruments, pianos and pipe organs. It was a new sound and while some parents embraced the changes many of their generation relegated it to the deepest depths of degradation and evil. There’s was an error of Electronic Selection threatening to drive a wedge between two generations.

Other things have separated the ages. Changes in cultural beliefs and activities, the redirection of skills from rural to urban work spaces, and any technological advancement from the steam engine to the multicore processor have created segments of selection. Often the selective nature of these advances isn’t perceived as a change by the generation in which they develop but as the norm. The concept that the older generation might not comprehend this shift doesn’t seem to motivate the new generation to understand the change and work towards an effective stitching together of the two worlds. So, it falls on the ousted to decipher the recent technology and introduce it to their lives in a way which will once again connect them with the new generation.

Things move forward. I’m sure there is more ahead of me to learn than I dealt with in the past. I just hope I have the where-with-all to comprehend and make use of the advances which become so ingrained in our lives. I don’t want to be Digitally Selected forever. In the church, we must be careful not to Digitally Select (exclude) those interested in helping because we have some new high-tech sign up site which appeals to the young and confounds the less young.

As a Christian, I’m glad God doesn’t use a Digital Selection scale for eternity. I’m looking forward to simplifying things and reducing my digital footprint. I figure if I’m in the presence of God I don’t think there’s a need for a Facebook status for Him to know what I’m doing. But for now, . . . I guess this is the season of the tablet, phablet, smartphone, social media and whatchamacallit and I better keep up with my skills to avoid Digital Selection.

For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven:” (Ecclesiastes 3:1 WEB)

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Ministry Thoughts or How to Inspire a New Generation

“We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.” (2 Corinthians 5:20a NIV)

When I consider all the events of the last few decades, how do I sift through everything to determine what’s encouraging and exciting to share with others and what’s boring? Another question is; how much detail do I include about technical matters I take for granted? Some folks like all the technical details while others soon have a glazed look in their eyes. It’s a fine line to balance when writing anything about ministry years.

As I think of it there’s also the question of security. Security is an issue when dealing with an evangelical ministry which brings the Christian Gospel message into countries who are religiously, culturally, politically and historically opposed to the message. Like a spy would say, “I’d tell your everything about my work but then I’d have to shoot you.” It’s not quite that bad in ministry but some things are best left unsaid outside of the work place for the safety of others in dangerous locations.

The impact of electricity, the booming electronic industry and the growth of media platforms in today’s ministry are enormous. Today’s young missionaries take it all in stride. They are part of the “connected” generation. They don’t remember life before the Internet, cell phones and social media. Seasoned missionaries, aka us older folks, are a bit reticent to apply the latest and greatest technology to our ministry. We see the good and the bad from personal experiences. Unfortunately, we often downplay a potential expansion of our ministry in fear of or due to a lack of understanding the new media platform.  The younger missionary candidate doesn’t see this problem and can easily race forward without carefully considering the fallout caused by a brash approach to distributing the message of salvation. There are bridges to be built and barriers to overcome from both sides of the age barrier.

I’d like to encourage the younger generation to commit their lives to the ministry of reconciliation. I’m not talking about just putting a toe in to test the waters. I want them to take the great leap of faith and jump in full body to see what God can do through their full commitment. The problem I’ve witnessed with toe testing is that they never get used to the water, they never adjust. It’s only when they’re willing for God to use them both in their comfort zone, (work they’re familiar with or trained to do), and out of their comfort zone, (work they’ve never done or where they have no training), do they experience the full reliance on His guidance, grace and care.  How do I share this with a culture effectively speaking another language?

Preaching at Grace Church

Preaching at Grace Church

I’m reminded of the mechanism I use to prepare sermons in a multi-language, multi-cultural environment. I write the sermon using the vocabulary I know best. I try to be concise and succinct with a careful selection of words and phrases. Then I give the written message to my wife. She sifts through the message and strikes out culturally specific phrases, complicated word combinations, or “big” English words from the text. I have to go back and find more common phrases and better words to insure the translator and the listener will understand my point. It takes a lot or work and the results make it worthwhile. So how do I apply the same approach to sharing the ministry with young folks?

I want the next generation to understand the amazement I feel when I see God supply, in unexpected ways, everything I need. He even supplies some of the things I just want! My desire is for another generation to see and long for that feeling of total dependence on God to provide. I want them to learn to not rely on their skills or training to be faithful. How do I convince them to hand everything to God and allow Him to manage their lives? How do I convince them that their training, schooling, and experiences are good tools but nothing is better than allowing God to choose what to use and what not to use? How do I share the experience of being dropped into unknown territory and relying completely on God to provide the skills, knowledge and application we need to accomplish His goals?

How do I do all this without losing contact, without driving them away, without creating confusion instead of clarity? Something to think about . . .

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