Louis Zamperini – After “Unbroken” | Denny Burk

Here is the documentary concerning Louis Zamperini the subject of the movie “Unbroken” by the Billy Graham association.  (see the link below)

Louis Zamperini – After “Unbroken” | Denny Burk.

What a wonderful experience to see Louis Zamperini describe his own life.

I greatly encourage you to watch it.

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Looking for Work?

I have been praying with a number of people in the last 180 days who are looking for work.

I have recommended a few resources to these job seekers  that have been extremely helpful and practical.

Micheal Hyatt has a free Life Plan that I highly recommend. It will help the job seeker clarify what it is they want to do with their life. Here is the link to it: Creating Your Personal Life Plan. He is worth following on a regular basis for his expertise in social media and setting goals.

A wonderful book to walk someone through a job search is 48 Days to the Work You Love: Preparing for the New Normal: Dan Miller, Dave Ramsey: 9781433669330: Amazon.com: Books.  Dan Miller, the author, has an awesome networked community. Many libraries have his book for free.

Being out of work is discouraging. It is easy to lose hope. My favorite book of 2014 is: The Hope Quotient: Measure It. Raise It. You’ll Never Be the Same.: Ray Johnston, Dave Hoffman: 9781491522783: Amazon.com: Books.

 

 

Mobile Technology and the Modern Church

The ability to leverage technology to communicate, track, mobilize the faithful, and reach the uninvolved is the greatest crisis and opportunity facing the church.

A good location, adequate parking, and enthusiastic, well trained volunteers have always been key factors in church growth. And they probably will be until Jesus comes again.

But how the Church deals with advancements in mobile technology maybe just as important as the parking lot.

Advances in technology have always influenced society and the local church.

Television brought us a shortened attention span and TV dinners. Now if the speaker goes over twenty minutes in church we panic. We can’t miss a moment of the NFL.

Automobiles brought us the ability to travel across town to a “better” church. So we didn’t have to stay and work through personality issues.

Today, many of our congregation read their Bible on a mobile device. They communicate almost instantly through their mobile device.

Some are already using Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, as their primary form of communication.

Are we adaptable to their communication preferences?

Are we still married to mass mail outs and circulars?

Are we certain that everyone prefers to receive their communication by phone or snail mail?

Are we becoming all things to all men that we might save some?

Maybe it’s time to survey your people and ask them what they prefer.

It’s the message that’s important, not the method of delivery.

My Love Affair with the Old Testament

My love affair with the Old Testament began when I was a small boy.

I was fascinated by the characters and the larger than life shadow that they cast.

I imagined myself as Moses crossing the Red Sea on dry land, Red_Seaor Joshua making the sun stand still.

Joshua Commanding the sun to stand stillI spent endless hours trying to learn to sling a stone like David while slaying the giants in my own life.

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But as I got older my love of the Old Testament labeled me a Bible Nerd at Church. All the cool stuff was in the New Testament according to my friends. The birth, death and resurrection of Jesus were in the New Testament. The development and history of the early Church and the letters of the Apostle Paul.

What my friends did not understand was that I viewed the Bible as one book with one central message. I loved the whole book. I understood that God wrote it all for my benefit.

Not reading the Old Testament would be like skipping the first 300 pages of a top selling 450 page novel. Keeping up with the characters and their motivations would be impossible. The interest of the reader would fade and the book would probably be abandoned.

By reading the Old Testament I understand the characters and their motivations. I can see events foreshadowed before they occur.

I can see a portrait of the coming messiah being slowly revealed before my very eyes.

I love the Old Testament because it makes the New Testament come alive with depths of meaning that I would not have considered.

When God Sings

It is difficult for me to imagine the God of the universe singing.

But Zephaniah 3:17 NIV clearly says that he does.

“The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”

It also describes him as a mighty warrior. So he is singing songs of victory and truimph. Can you picture that?

I assume that God has a great voice.

It is impossible for me to imagine that the creator of the universe would sing off key.

And he is singing over me. And you.

Just imagine God standing over you, smiling, laughing and belting out a chorus of “We Are The Champions” by Queen.

Does that thought make you smile just a little?

Or why not read that verse and insert your name?

“The Lord your God is with (insert your name), the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in (insert your name); in his love he will no longer rebuke (insert your name), but will rejoice over (insert your name) with singing.”

I want to give God a reason to sing joyfully today.

Online Giving

I remember when the only way to give to the church was to put it in an offering plate. If you missed the plate you had to wait until the next week to give. But things are changing, I now do the majority of my giving online.

Church Giving Tops $50 Billion A Year In U.S.—And Its Future Is Not A Collection Plate | Fast Company | Business + Innovation.

As a child I did not understand why they passed an offering plate. If God owned everything why did he need my money? Was my quarter really going to make a difference to God?

Why was the pianist playing such a loud and energetic piece of music while they passed the offering plate?

Why were the ushers in such a hurry to complete the task before the pianist finished?

As an adult i now understand the role of giving as worship. I have a budget. I have bills and obligations.

I understand that God does not need my gifts to operate. But my heart tells me I need to give back to one who created me.

Giving online is a very different experience. There are no distractions. It is very quick. It is very convenient.

But am I giving with a cheerful heart? Is my focus really on God?

Maybe my church needs to add an optional media player button that plays a selection of music while you give online.

A Great Book

The Bible is a perennial best seller. There are more copies of it in print that any other book. Yet we have a tendency to take this great book for granted. I would like to share with you why I consider it the greatest book ever written.

Most book critics would suggest that there are 5 common elements found in a great book. They are: a great opening line, a complex and believable central character, a real and dramatic conflict, a complex and believable character who respond to the conflict, and a satisfying ending that resolves the conflict. Let’s talk about each of these elements in greater detail.

A great opening line. Opening lines are very important. They grab our attention and they set the stage for what is to come. In the comic strip Charlie Brown, Snoopy was always trying to write the great novel. His first line was where he always stopped. “It was a dark and stormy night….”

Here are a few opening lines from some great books.

“In our family, there was no clear line between religion and fly-fishing.”             Norman Maclean in A River Runs Through It.

“It was the best of times; it was the worst of times…”A Tale of Two Cities” small

All children, except one, grow up.” J.M. Barrie in Peter Pan.

“Call me Ishmael.” Herman Melville in Moby Dick.

“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.” Jane Austen in Pride and Prejudice.

What is the opening line of the Bible? Most people can recite it from memory and even those who can not remember it immediately recognize the quote as soon as it begins.

In the Book of Genesis we find these words, “In the Beginning God created”. Authors have been trying to improve on that line since the beginning without success. Opening lines are very important. They grab our attention and they set the stage for what is to come. Most of us would think it was foolish to try and jump into the middle of a novel and expect to understand what was going on.  Yet, many people will read the Bible without an understanding of how it started and the context behind what they read. Is it any wonder that they have limited their own understanding and enjoyment of the text?

With that in mind, look at the opening words of the Bible again and listen with a critical ear to the very first thing that God wants us to know. “In the beginning God created…”

Moses, the author is setting up the premise for the book of Genesis and the Bible as a whole.  Moses wanted us to know that God has always existed. God created everything, including time. In the beginning God was, is, and always will be. That is a lot of information in 5 short words. We could talk about these 5 words for the next month and never run out of things to explore. What a great opening line.

A complex and believable central character. The central character will carry the story and remain the primary focus through out the book. Secular Literature is filled with many great leading characters. From Robin Hood, to King Arthur, to Sherlock Holmes, the list could go on and on.

But who is the central character of the Bible? The answer may surprise you. If you look in the 1st chapter of Genesis you will see that the central character of the Bible is mentioned about 30 times. Surprisingly, the answer is not man but God.

This is God’s story about his relationship with his creation man. It is not about us, but about the God who wants us to know Him.

If we read the Bible and fail to understand this is about a relationship with Him, then we have wasted our time. We will have missed the point. It is not simply a self-help book or a collection of cute moral based stories. It is an invitation to come and get to know the God of the universe.

The more I have read this book through the years the deeper my hunger has grown to know God the central character of the Bible.

A real and dramatic conflict – It must present real choices that involve opposing points of view to keep our interest.

Some of the greatest stories of all time have made us pull for the hero but yet sympathize with villain because their opposing views were both attractive to us in some way.

In the Bible we see a great conflict, the conflict of good and evil. We see on every page what man is like and the evil that he is capable of.

The truly frightening and sobering thought is when we realize the evil that even good men are capable of. From Adam and Eve’s original sin, to Cain killing his brother Abel, to King David committing adultery and killing a man to cover his sin, it is not a pretty sight. Our own lives and our struggles with doing the right thing are a ringing validation of this truth.

We all need someone to save us from ourselves. The Bible presents us with a great conflict, the war between good and evil.

We have a complex and believable character and we have a great conflict but what makes the book interesting is how this great character will respond to the conflict.

Secular literature is filled with examples of this. Our hero has to determine whether he will save his wife or the nation of England. He can only save one. Who will he choose? What will his choice tell us about him as an individual?

How is this presented in the Bible? We see God responding to the conflict, coming in the form of a man, Jesus Christ taking on flesh in response to our failures in the conflict of good and evil.

We see him willing suffer and die for our sins even though we are undeserving of this precious gift of forgiveness and eternal life.

In the Garden of Gethsemane we see this internal conflict as he prays, Father take this cup from me… We see the Son of God struggle with his choice and we know the conflict is real and will have an impact on him. It will cost him everything he holds dear to make a way for us. What will he choose?

This conflict in secular literature is usually followed by a satisfying ending that resolves the conflict.

In fairy tales they all live happily ever after. In suspense novels the mystery is solved. In horror stories the evil is vanquished or else every one dies.

In the Bible we see a great ending, a triumph over death and the grave, lives changed and transformed by his continued resurrection power and renewed hope in our lives because of this message.

Great books extend an invitation for us, the reader, to become a part of the story.

The Bible, documents God’s personal invitation to us to become a part of His story.