Leader vs. Elder or Overseer

My ESV only uses the English word "leader" twice in the New Testament. One is specifically in reference to Jesus:
"God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins" - Acts 5:31 
And the other is a warning to him who sees himself as a leader. That he should become as one who serves.
"But not so with you. Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves." - Luke 22:26
This is pertinent because when we read Titus, or the Timothys and read about the qualifications for elders and overseers, it's interesting to consider our cultural understandings (or perhaps misunderstandings) of these words.

A leader has authority over people. An elder is an example, not a leader. His role is to speak and live truth. How is that different from your concept of a leader? Or, perhaps more importantly, how proud are you to be a leader instead of an elder? And what do you find in the scripture about the kind of person you should be? Maybe the Bible is clear about it in Acts 5:31. Then again, I've yet to look at the original words to see how they're translated... Thoughts?

On Our Ways and Motivations (Proverbs 16:2)

The other day I was reading Proverbs (something which I do far too infrequently) and read this verse:

"All the ways of man are pure in his own eyes,
but the Lord weighs the spirit" - 16:2

It had me thinking of how we make our plans and think what we're doing is wise when in fact, our motivations are seldom (if ever) good.

For most of us we believe what we are doing is good or we would not do it, but only the Lord can know, weigh, and judge our spirit. To know where our hearts truly are.

Then later, in verse 7 it says, "When a man's ways please the Lord, he makes his enemies to be at peace with him."

Outside of a time of war this may seem insignificant, but what it says is that a man's ways CAN please the Lord. So at least occasionally man can do something out of good intention. Probably not without the help of the Lord but nonetheless, I found this to be an encouragement.

Maybe Your Church Sucks Because It Lacks the Holy Spirit

I just finished Francis Chan's Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit. To be honest I wasn't overwhelmingly impressed. I think the premise was good, but I also think people who are neglecting the Holy Spirit needed more of a kick in the back-side than he provided...

That said the interesting part of the book was in the introduction:
“If I were Satan and my ultimate goal was to thwart God’s kingdom and purposes, one of my main strategies would be to get churchgoers to ignore the Holy Spirit. The degree to which this has happened (and I would argue that it is a prolific disease in the body of Christ) is directly connected to the dissatisfaction most of us feel with and in the church. We understand something very important is missing. The feeling is so strong that some have run away from the church and God’s Word completely. 
I believe that this missing something is actually a missing Someone – namely, the Holy Spirit. Without Him, people operate in their own strength and only accomplish human-sized results. The world is not moved by love or actions that are of human creation. And the church is not empowered to live differently from any other gathering of people without the Holy Spirit. But when believers live in the power of the Holy Spirit, the evidence in their lives is supernatural. The church cannot help but be different, and the world cannot help but notice.”
I've read many books lately which argue, "There is something wrong with the church today and we all know it." Of course then each book attempts to address the issue from a different angle. Some think our preaching is lacking, either because it's not expository preaching, or because it's over 20 minutes long. Some think we shouldn't be "preaching" from the front at all, but rather our problem is that we aren't doing church like the first century Christians.

I've entertained several of these ideas and think many of them pose helpful suggestions. But at the end of the day I'm not completely convinced. However Chan's argument that what the church today is missing is God Himself (or more specifically the Holy Spirit) well... that's a pretty convincing argument. We do attempt to do church on our own strength. We preach methodology and more methodology when it might be that all we really need is the Lord.

The evidence for this being the case, in my opinion, is in the fact that the Lord is using churches with all kinds of methodologies. The guy from the inner city preaches to the church in the suburbs about how the Lord would use them if they would just move to the inner city. Or the minister from nowhere Africa says, "If you guys would just do church like the folks in the desert in Africa, then you would understand."

But the truth is the Lord is using all sorts of churches. Granted many are failing as well (perhaps those void of the Holy Spirit). But all over, in just about every broken model of church, God is at work.

God is at work and I think this is because the Holy Spirit is big enough to work through our broken models. But are we big enough to allow Him in?

For the record I'm not convinced you have to be a charismatic church to let the Spirit work. I think the Spirit is even big enough to work with people who are quite uncomfortable with Him. Just so long as they're aware of the fact that they're uncomfortable, and open with God about their understanding — seeking Him anyhow.

He is Risen Indeed

Lest I let Easter pass without mention: how stinking awesome is it that we worship a God who was willing to humble Himself enough to come live with us? To put up with our foolishness face to face, eat our fallen food and use our stinky toilets? How awesome is it that He gave up His life as the ultimate sacrificial lamb for the sake of offering us again a relationship with Him?

How amazing is it that Jesus conquered the grave? Rolled the stone away and walked out in an act so ridiculous many never believed Him? How awesome is it that Christ led the way and now we have hope for life even after death? For our sins to not be counted against us?

Holy snap this is good news.

He is risen!

The Newspaper is Dead

I don't write about tech stuff often (ever), though I read about it a lot. For that reason I considered submitting the following post elsewhere, but then I realized my opinion is not revered enough, nor are my thoughts innovative enough to warrant much for readership. And with that wonderful disclaimer, have yourself a treat:

The newspaper dead. I know you know this because you've read about it. Probably online. But I don't just mean the tree-destroying paper-pile we all loved as children because the print stuck so clearly to Silly Putty. I'm not talking just about that. I mean the news as we know it is dead. And here's how I know. I subscribed to The Daily for a week. The Daily is awesome, but at the end of the day it's nothing more than a reminder of a broken system.

The problem with the news is all the articles I don't care to read. And more than that, just about any writer worth reading is writing for their own website these days. I get my significant tech news from Techmeme, or Hacker News. And I listen to the NPR broadcast in the morning because it's under five minutes and keeps me tuned in to the world outside of tech.

But my RSS feed brings me Grubes, Shawn Blanc, a few theology writers, a poetry blog I read (and write for), and one or two friends of mine who happen to be excellent writers. I also have a feed from a Diigo account a friend of mine posts interesting articles to. And I read my RSS feeds ravenously every morning, several times throughout the day, and right before bed.

Reeder is the best publication I've ever known. Because it's 100% tailored to me, and because for (what is for me) the first time in RSS history, it is as beautiful as a regular publication; not to mention much much cleaner.

And Reeder isn't the only app. My wife doesn't know what RSS is, but with 15 minutes of my setting up a Google Reader account, and linking it to her Flipboard, she has never looked back. My wife adores Flipboard, and I'm sure she isn't alone. She subscribes to 0 paper magazines. To her credit she does occasionally buy some used magazines off some friends, but thats just so she can give our daughters something to cut up and glue when they're playing. She used to still need a few around for decorating inspiration, but Pinterest filled that final need. You could almost say it was the final pin in the coffin (publications may be dying, but cheese is still going strong).

But back to The Daily for a moment. This was the shining last hope for the news industry old guard. And it really is very very good — good looking, well written etc...  But no one who has an opinion I actually care about writes for them. Maybe I could grow attached to a writer or two over time but what is the point of trying? We have become loyal to people, and no longer loyal to publications. It's a strange shift, but very real.

Also, did I mention The Daily takes forever to download unless you're on a great network connection? Reeder takes about 15 seconds even when connectivity is slow.

The news industry is out. News is here to stay. The writers will stay, their publishers are simply no longer needed.

The news is out because:
1) There is too much fluff in the old news we don't care about and it's no longer necessarily bundled with the parts we do.
2) We've switched our loyalty from publications to individual writers. Tailored news includes writing from many different sources, including our friends.
3) RSS is a strange acronym, but things like Flipboard have made an understanding of it unnecessary. And apps like Reeder challenge 'big news' in beauty and usability.
4) RSS is fast. 
RSS has been around for a long time and people have been predicting it's takeover of the old news for a long time. It's actually happening now, and we're just now figuring out how to make the details invisible to the folks doing the reading. And it's brilliant.