Saturday, October 31, 2009

Fw: Christians and the Internet

Oh the wonderful world of the internet. In a matter of seconds you can find anything you want to read about or see. Obviously, this can be either amazingly beneficial or detremental to a person. Over the past few years I have become increasingly fascinated with technology and how it affects us as people, especially those of us who are Christians.

While distrusting the world and its "lies", most Christians tend to believe what they hear or read if it comes from another person who claims the name of Christ. This is not a bad thing but can get us into trouble, especially when it comes to the internet. Call me a cynic that has been overly influenced by my postmodern surroundings, but I never really trust anything on the internet. This is especially true if it comes from (A) a blog, (B) a website that is unaffiliated with a reputable organization, or (C) an email forward. Now I realize the irony of my previous statement and I'm sure you do as well. Feel free to not listen to or believe anything on this blog. It's mostly just pictures of my kids and you'll have a bit of a problem trying to prove that they don't exist. I'm just saying that we need to take things on the internet, including this blog, with a grain of salt.

Anyway, back to the Christian life and responsible use of the internet and email. Don't be gullible! Various websites and email forwards will frequently use misinformation to get believers to support or protest something in large numbers. Do some homework when you get an eamil from someone claiming that X group or organization is trying to petition the White House to mandate that all manger scenes contain Santa Claus instead of Jesus. Double check when someone posts a "story" without any citations or verifiability.

My heart for this is not to make fun of anyone who sends email forwards or believes most of what they hear or see. As someone who has been duped by stuff like this I simply want Christians to be lovers of truth. Jesus said that we would know the truth and that it would make us free. Unfortunatley there are many people in this world, even Christians, who would rather contrive something to help further an agenda than to live in the light of Christ's truth. Be careful who and what you believe on the internet. Don't fall victim to the Christian version of Nigerian scams.

Here are a few websites you can use to help verify emails you get or stories you read on blogs.
http://www.snopes.com/
http://www.truthorfiction.com/
If you've read an email forward claiming that these sites have an evil liberal agenda you can check out http://www.factcheck.org/

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

K├╝rbisfest (Pumpkin Festival)

Pumpkins. You know them. You love them. Could there be anything better than walking around a small town that is surrounded by pumpkin patches and takes Halloween a bit too seriously? I submit to you that there could not. So, last Saturday we headed out of Vienna with our friends Jeremy and Kristi and went to a pumpkin festival.

Here was the poster for the event. Scary huh? The one thing I noticed was that apparently they don't take much care in carving their pumpkins, maybe because they carve so many. The sloppy nature of their work runs contrary to everything I learned from my father about pumpkin carving. Therefore, I viewed all of their jack-o-lanterns with disdainful condescension, knowing that dad and I could've done much, much better.
Ah paganism, you just thought it died out with the Druids. Well, it's apparently still alive and well in upper Austria. I happened upon this oddity while eating my cinnamon and sugar encrusted almonds. Ironic, because we all know that nothing goes better with paganism than sweet, fresh roasted almonds. I stared at this thing for awhile in utter disbelief...I was also waiting to see if the raven would say "nevermore".

Anyways, a good time was had by all. We ate some good food and even had cappuccino with pumpkin in it that was surprisingly good. Hurrah for pumpkins and the festivals that celebrate their important countributions to humanity.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Pumpkin Pabulum


EEWWWW! Dad how could you make me do this??



Well all the pics are reversed in order... just to throw you off...or maybe it's because I forgot to enter them other way.
But this was our pumpkin carving evening. We got roasted pumpkin seeds and pumpkin puree from it!
Not to mention a nice little light in our living room in the evenings :)

Monday, October 19, 2009

Preaching

I'm not sure why God keeps giving me opportunities to share and preach the same ideas. I guess it's all ok because He's the one that gives the opportunities and inspires the scriptures that I've been teaching.

So I had the chance to preach yesterday at our church, The International Chapel of Vienna (http://www.viennachapel.org/). Our Pastor James, who despite being a Chelsea fan is a great guy, asked a few of us in the church to be on a preaching team that meets regularly throughout the year. We disuss the section of scripture he will be teaching from each week (currently 1 Peter).

We go through books of the Bible verse by verse, but cover ground a bit quicker than some other churches. One positive of this type of study is that you get a very managable picture of the themes throughout a book of scripture without getting bogged down in intricate, exegetical details. One of the negatives, however, is that some themes that need to be expanded on may not get the full time they need. As a result, James decided that he will preach the book verse by verse and, when certain topics or subjects arise that need to be further expanded, he wanted a few of us from the preaching team to tackle those issues. I thought this was really cool because it gives the Pastor a break every month or two and makes sure he is also under the teaching of the Word.

So yesterday I got to expand on the idea of being an elect exile (a major idea discussed in 1 Peter). I'll post a rought outline and some thoughts on the text later on.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

How Big Am I?


When a little boy is curious about how big he really is, it is natural to measure himself with his Daddy's pants! I mean, he is supposed to look to his Daddy as the standard. We want them to grow up and be like their Dads, so we might as well use them as the measuring stick!


We now know that he is not as big and will need some time to grow into those pants. It was a very educating experiment for him....

*** I should note that Ian fit into one side of Daddy's pant legs... but no picture was taken :(

Monday, October 05, 2009

Senior Class Rib Party



When the Lord has made you prosper and you say "I would like some meat," then you may eat as much of it as you want.

-Deuteronomy 12:20


That verse is slightly paraphrased and massively out of context (just call me Joel Osteen), but what a great verse for a BBQ! We had a great class party on Saturday for our Seniors and enjoyed eating ribs. It was really the only food we had. Just ribs and ribs and more ribs. I really didn't even know you could eat meat for 4 hours and not die. It ruled.

Here are a few more pictures of the afternoon. These were taken by the students and we'll put a few more up when we get them off of our camera.



Saturday, October 03, 2009

Publications Project

Thomas was asked to write an article for a "publication" the middle school creative writing class was putting together. Here is what he contributed.

THE HIGH-TECH HEART

In the movie Contact Matthew McConaughey portrays Palmer Joss, a former priest studying the effects of technology on third world cultures. Later on in the film while being interviewed on the TV show Larry King Live he asks the question, “Has science and progress made us happier?” This is a profound statement from the mouth of a fictional character. With all of the high-tech gadgets available in the modern, industrialized world, have we become better people?


There can be no doubt that when we study history we see that technology has brought about progress and improved society. In the 16th century, Europe emerged from the Dark Ages and entered a new period of learning with the invention of the printing press. This technological advance allowed books and other forms of writing to be copied quickly and widely distributed. This led to an increase in the desire for, and necessity of, literacy. This intellectual and educational progress fed the Scientific Revolution as well as the Enlightenment. One of the most important contributors to the time period was Denis Diderot, who compiled and edited The Encyclopedia. Diderot, however, sensed where the increase in printed materials could lead and remarked that a “time will come when it will be almost as difficult to learn anything from books as from the direct study of the whole universe.” He continued, noting that eventually “the world of learning—our world—will drown in books.”


While it would be difficult to say that our world is drowning in books, the world of 2009 could certainly be accused of drowning in information. According to some estimates, in recent years the amount of information available to the average individual in a modern society has doubled almost every two years. This vast amount of information that is only a click away has led to an increase in the amount of trivial information that people encounter and a decrease in the amount of time that people spend analyzing the value of that information. With this loss of focus in how we analyze what is put before us, we have a tendency to either accept whatever we read or see, or to become overwhelmed and apathetic. Either choice produces negative consequences that effect who we become as people.


The modern technologies that are available to us, cell phones, laptops, iPhones, iPods, and the like have all become integral parts of our lives. The question is have they encouraged us to grow as human beings? Sadly, most of the technologies discourage rather than encourage important things such as community. As recently as the latter part of the 20th century people rode on public transportation either in silence or in casual conversation. Now everyone has their ears plugged with buds from their mp3 players. One of the most popular places for people to gather for community is a coffee shop. Hilariously, if you go into a coffee shop what you find are lonely people seeking community by putting their earphones in and working silently on their computers.


In the first chapter of Genesis we are told that man was made in the image of God. This included the ability of man to be creative and improve his conditions. Unfortunately, man chose to sin in Genesis 3 and this brought about problems with this technological progress. Advances in technology have certainly made things better, but man’s tendencies frequently lead him to worship these advances rather than the God who inspired them (Rom. 1:25). This leads to negative consequences for people and slowing of their growth in relationship with both God and each other. Until people slow down and analyze the impact of technology on their lives, they will continue to be troubled by the unfulfilled longings of their high-tech hearts.



Quotations taken from the book Habits of the High-Tech Heart by Quentin J. Schultze.