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Things I Think

January 11, 2010 — 2 Comments

Just wanted to share some random thoughts tonight.

  • I enjoyed spending the day with my family in Christiansburg and Blacksburg today. Emma was able to go with us since school was canceled due to a power outage.  It’s always great going to Hokie country, and I’m slowly getting my kids used to the campus. It’s such a great town.
  • I unplugged completely from church activities today. I need to do that more often since our weekends are so crazy. Honoring the Sabbath is not a suggestion, but a command, and I need at least one day a week where I can rest and enjoy my time with God and family.
  • Speaking of a crazy weekend, Cornerstone was awesome this week. We had a great leadership retreat on Friday and Saturday, planning and dreaming with our elder team and administrative team. I’m excited about the direction we are going and the unity we are building in our group. God is blessing us with talented and gifted people who are in love with Jesus. I’ll be sharing more about some of the exciting new things that are in store for this year.
  • Sunday was incredible as well. We had the highest weekend attendance ever this week and I saw many new faces in both of our services. You don’t hear me talk about numbers very often, but I want to share with our Cornerstone family that we had 330 people in attendance this week. For a small church in a small town, that is exciting! And I think we’re just seeing the start of what could be. I have heard so many people talking in the community about how God is moving and working at Cornerstone. Keep investing and inviting.
  • I’m really enjoying our series on 20/20 vision. This past week we talked about discovering and following your Holy Discontent.  For those of you wanting to find out more about what that could mean for your life, check out the book Holy Discontent: Fueling the Fire That Ignites Personal Vision by Bill Hybels. It goes into far more depth about some of the things we talked about this weekend.
  • And finally, I’ve been spending a little time on facebook recently.  Why can’t young people spell? I’m not sure what the root of the problem is. I don’t think it’s texting, because most of the misspelled words are longer than the correct spelling. You can’t blame it on public schools either, because I see the same thing in many of the homeschoolers.  I’m thinking we are seeing the results of a generation raised on Hooked on Phonics and spell check. Just sound it out and it’s close enough. Are there any teachers out there who know why there is such a decline in basic spelling skills?

    Having a Backup Plan

    January 7, 2010 — Leave a comment

    I finally got around to setting up a good backup strategy for our church computers. Over the Christmas holiday I found a great deal on the Netgear ReadyNAS Duo file server.  I got one for the church for only $239, and it has worked flawlessly. This is a dual drive 1TB network storage device and works great for homes or small businesses. You simply plug it into your network and access it from any computer on the network. I’m using it with Apple time machine to backup my mac, and I’m also backing up our windows computers to it.  It also functions as a great media server and file server.

    Let me urge you to think through your backup plan. Eventually you will have a hard drive crash, so what will happen to your data?  By having a regular plan in place, you can save yourself from all the despair of losing important files. I recommend having a network storage drive or an external hard drive as your primary backup, and also using an online backup service to protect your most important files. If something happens to your building or home, it is great to have a backup that is not at the same location.

    At home, I’m using MozyPro, which is an online backup solution.  My computer uploads any changes to their offsite servers during the night. It has worked great and is only $4.95 per month.  Other good online solutions are BackBlaze and Carbonite.

    Dropbox is also another great way to backup important files. It synchronizes files between different computers. It has been a great way to backup some important files and transfer files from my home computer and my laptop to the church computer.

    Whatever you do, DO SOMETHING. Don’t wait until a failure, develop a plan and start backing up. You’ll thank me later. :-)

    If you’re interested in the Netgear ReadyNAS Duo, here is some more info.

    The Google Nexus One

    January 5, 2010 — 2 Comments

    Google announced their new phone today and it looks sweet. I’ve been waiting for a iPhone to come out on a different network, but this has definitely got my interest now. Especially since it will be available on Verizon in a few months. Check out the video below

    20/20 Vision

    January 2, 2010 — 1 Comment

    We’re starting a new series at Cornerstone this week on Vision. We all need fresh revelation from God. Vision gives us focus, endurance, and peace. Proverbs 29:18 NIV reminds us that “where there is no revelation, we cast off restraint….” In other words, we end up imitating culture rather than influencing it (read 1 Samuel 8 as an example of what happens when we seek imitation over revelation).

    Our minds alone can’t even conceive what God has prepared for us. The Spirit, however, searches all things, even the deep things of God, and reveals them (1 Corinthians 2:9-16). This is a great way to start the new year, so invite your friends. My prayer is that we will develop our spiritual vision to clearly see God’s plan for our lives. Here is the video intro for the series.

    20/20 Vision: Video Intro for Sermon Series from Mike Morris on Vimeo.

    Using Keynote to Create Videos

    If you’re interested on how I created the video, I’ll let you in on a secret. I didn’t use any high powered software to create it. I didn’t have much time to spend on this project so I cheated on this one. I did a little work in Photoshop Elements to create the logo, and then I used Apple’s Keynote to create a slideshow for the movie. I used the built-in transitions and effects to handle all the text and images. I setup timings and delays and then set each slide to automatically advance so that it was one continuos slideshow with no clicking. Since most video editing software is pretty tough to use, I have a feeling that more people know how to use presentation software.

    Keynote gives you the ability to export a slideshow as a quicktime movie, so I used that to create a high res version. The quicktime file is not a true movie, but it is a slideshow playable on both macs and windows. I loaded it up in Quicktime Player 7 on the mac and exported it as a quicktime movie.  I then loaded the movie into Garageband and added the audio. All together, it took just a couple of hours start to finish. If you are dealing with mostly text, then Keynote may be a better option than a full-blown video editing package.

    Thinking Through the New Year

    December 30, 2009 — 3 Comments

    If you haven’t noticed, my blog has been pretty quiet for the past few weeks. It’s been a busy time with all the excitement of the Christmas season, and I have definitely been doing a lot of planning and thinking. For the first time in my life, I’m thinking through some long term goals. In order for me to be the best husband, father, and pastor that I can be, I am making some changes.

    One of the biggest changes is the amount of time I use the computer in the evenings.  While it may seem minor, I am making sure I am fully present for my family. That means I am disconnecting from much of the tech world after I get home until the kids go to bed. Although, I’ve had much less time to work on the blog, there is no doubt that I am making the right decision. I will continue posting to the blog, but it will not be as frequent as in the past. My goal is 3 high quality posts per week. I simply don’t have the time to do more than that right now with the demands of a growing church and a busy family.  I will still be on twitter for other day-to-day thoughts, so you can follow me there.

    I am also making changes in the way I take care of myself. I want to finish strong and I want to finish healthy.  That means I will be working out and eating healthier and taking more time off. I’ll share some more of my goals for the next few years in a future post. I am excited about the changes and I want you, my blog readers, to know that this site will continue to have great information about church technology, about ministry in a small town, and about the lessons I learn along the way.

    YouVersion Reading Plans

    December 23, 2009 — 1 Comment

    One of the most used apps on my iPod is the YouVersion Bible app by Lifechurch.tv. I have blogged about YouVersion numerous times in the past (see the posts here), and I am excited about the continual updates that the digerati team at Lifechurch keep pushing out. Last week they announced a new milestone. YouVersion users have spent one billion minutes reading the Bible on mobile devices! But they didn’t stop long to celebrate and now they have added the ability to track a personalized Bible reading plan on your mobile device. The feature came out today for the Blackberry application and is coming out soon on the iPod/iPhone. It is also available on their website.

    I have kept a little printout in my Bible for a long time that I use to track my reading progress. It works great until you lose the sheet, which I have done several times in the past year.  I’m planning on switching over and using this to track and guide my reading starting January 1st. There are multiple reading plans to choose from, so what’s holding you back? Will you join me in reading through your Bible in the upcoming year?

    If you want to find out more about how this works, check out the video below.

    ChurchCrunch had the news about this yesterday.  If you want to utilize technology for ministry, then definitely check this website out. It is a great blog with an active forum of church tech users. Definitely one of my favorite ministry websites. Check it out at www.churchcrunch.com.

    I wanted to let you know about Mark Batterson’s new book Primal, which was officially released today.   I received an early copy from the publisher, WaterBrook Multnomah, to read and review and I can assure you that this is a book you definitely want to buy.  I am a huge fan of Mark Batterson who is the pastor of National Community Church in Washington, DC.  I was able to attend his church this summer with my family when we were on vacation and we really enjoyed the hospitality that his church showed our family.  Mark has a great blog at Evotional.com, and his previous two books have had an incredible impact on my ministry. In a Pit With a Lion On a Snowy Day was about seizing the God given opportunities in your life while Wild Goose Chase encourages believers to follow the Holy Spirit on a wild adventure.

    In Primal: A Quest for the Lost Soul of Christianity, Mark breaks new ground by returning to the roots of our faith.  We live in a complicated world, but the answer to many of our problems lies in a return to the simplicity of following the Great Commandment. To love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Here is how Mark describes the quest:

    The quest for the lost soul of Chrisitianity begins with rediscovering what it means to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength … It’s not enough to love God with just your heart or soul or mind or strength. We are called, even commanded, to love Him in all four ways …

    • The heart of Christianity is primal compassion
    • The soul of Christianity is primal wonder
    • The mind of Christianity is primal curiosity
    • And the strength of Christianity is primal energy

    I always read books like this with a highlighter in hand. There are so many great quotes and illustrations to capture and think through.  I may be a little strange, but while reading, I keep coming up with new ideas for sermons and series that I could teach.  There is so much here to meditate on, and I urge you to read it slowly.  Mark is a story teller, and he is able to weave you into the story.  I was challenged in the way that I love God, and I think you will be as well.   I enjoyed his use and application of science and I enjoyed how he wove his life story into the book.  I read through it in two days, and I want to read through it again.  You can buy Primal at Amazon (through my affiliate link), or you can find it at your local Christian bookseller. You can also find out more about the book at the official Primal website.  Let me leave you with this challenge from the book.

    Do you love God for what He can do for you? Or do you love Him for who He is? In its purest, most primal form, loving God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength is loving God for God. Nothing more. Nothing less. Nothing else … Reformations are born out of rediscovering something ancient, something primal. They are born out of primal truths rediscovered, reimagined, and radically reapplied to our lives.

    This entry is part 6 of 7 in the series Crazy Love Review

    crazy loveChapter 7 is titled “your best life ….later”  I’ll let you figure out how he came up with the title. :-)

    You have probably heard throughout your life that following Christ is easy, that everything will work out fine once you place your faith in God.  I don’t know how many times I have heard the phrase “the safest place to be is in the center of God’s will”  But is that true?  Is it really safe and easy to follow Christ?  I don’t think it is, and this chapter does a great job of explaining the challenges and possible consequences of following Christ. It’s a great argument against the prosperity gospel that is being spread through the church today.

    The chapter starts out with the following statement:

    By now you’ve probably realized that you have a distinct choice to make: just let life happen, which is tantamount to serving God your leftovers, or actively run toward Christ. Do you recognize the foolishness of seeking fulfillment outside of Him? Do you understand that it’s impossible to please God any way other than wholehearted surrender?

    Chan uses Hebrews 11:35-38 to show that even those who have faith may encounter trials, troubles, persecution, and danger.  Following Christ is never safe, in fact Chan says that we simply cannot live in safety if we desire to please God.  If we want to truly follow Christ, then 1 John 2:6 tells us that we must walk as Jesus did.  Chan uses the rest of the chapter to talk about our responsibilities to live out our faith. This is a challenging chapter to read, because the church in America has become so comfortable and safe that we don’t take all the commands of Christ seriously.  Here are some quotes from the chapter

    • We see Matthew 25:45 as a fresh perspective on poverty rather than a literal picture of impending judgment.
    • How would my life change if I actually thought of each person I came into contact with as Christ?
    • Basically, Christ is connecting the command to “love God” with the command to “love your neighbor.” By loving “the least of these,” we are loving God Himself
    • One of the clearest ways we love “with actions and in truth” is through giving to others.
    • Imagine if the disciples had simply held onto the food Jesus gave them, continually thanking Him for providing lunch for them. That would’ve been stupid when there was enough food to feed the thousands who were gathered and hungry.
    • The concept of downsizing so that others might upgrade is biblical, beautiful … and nearly unheard of.
    • Walking in genuine intimacy and full surrender to God requires great faith.
    • What are you doing right now that requires faith?
    • Life is comfortable when you separate yourself form people who are different from you
    • But God doesn’t call us to be comfortable. He calls us to trust Him so completely that we are unafraid to put ourselves in situations where we will be in trouble if He doesn’t come through.

    So are you living a safe life? A life of great faith?  A life of comfort and safety?  I urge you to take seriously the commands of Jesus to completely surrender your life to Him.  Following Christ may not be safe, but it is fulfilling.  If you have read this book, how did this chapter speak to you?  I think it was one of the most thought-provoking and challenging chapters in the book.  It made me want to start selling all my ‘stuff’ and downsize so that I could better minister to others.  Let me know what you think in the comments below.

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