Friday, September 12, 2014

3 Things Every Family Needs

As we head into the weekend I am reminded of three things we all need.

1.  A Great Deal.  This morning the Market On the Mountain opens in the Student Center for a Fall and Winter Sale today (9 – 6 )and Saturday (9 – 2).  Market on the Mountain benefits Mountaintots Christian Day School. The sale offers children's clothing and shoes, maternity clothing, baby and nursery equipment, books, puzzles, and much, much more! There are great deals available for high quality items.  For more information check out Market on the Mountain. 

2.  Wise Counsel.  Every one needs advice and in the coming weeks we are offering two workshops for hot topics facing parents, grandparents and families.

Sunday, September 21
Understanding Technology in Youth Culture & Internet Safety Breakout
Immediately after 11:15am service - in the Student Center, FREE admission.  For free childcare and lunch click on:  Help Me Understand Technology! by September 14.

Sunday, October 12
Calm Parenting: Stop Defiance, Disrespect & Yelling
Guest speakers: Kirk and Casey Martin from Calm Parenting
4:00 – 6:00pm - in the Atrium, FREE admission.  For free childcare click on: Help Me Stop the Yelling! by October 5.

*Child care is provided for both events by reservation only.  Register Sunday morning in the Atrium or online at Mountaintop Parenting

3.  Encouragement.  We all need encouragement and you can find some this Sunday morning as we continue our Faith and the Modern Family series.  We will be taking on the topic of What Should I Do When Our Kids Are Rude?  We will be learning and sharing wisdom that will encourage us in all our relationships.   And if you missed the homework from Week One you can find it online at Mountaintop Parenting

Great deals, wise counsel and encouragement – that’s a great way to begin a weekend!

To the glory of God!

T Doug

Thursday, September 11, 2014

9-11 Remembrance

It’s been 13 years since the events of September 11, 2001 changed our world in profound ways.  With each passing year our memory of that morning fades.  Nearly half a generation has been born since the attack in New York and it seems that each day we are confronted with new tragedies to replace the old (the headlines this morning led with the story of the Oscar Pistorius verdict, followed by the President’s speech on ISIS and the NFL’s response to Ray Rice).  But it is important that we remember the events that shape who are and even more important that we remember God’s promises for who we will be. 

When He taught on the end of times Jesus told us:

“Watch out that no one deceives you… you will hear of wars and rumors of war but see to it that you are not alarmed… many will turn away from their faith and will betray and hate each other… Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.  And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations…”
Matthew 24: 4, 6, 10 – 14

The challenge for us remains to stand firm to the end, to never let our love grow cold and to hold on to hope.

During the service for a Day of Prayer and Remembrance at the National Cathedral in the days following 9-11 Billy Graham described that hope we proclaim:

There is hope. There's hope for the present because I believe the stage has already been set for a new spirit in our nation. One of the things we desperately need is a spiritual renewal in this country. We need a spiritual revival in America.  And God has told us in His Word, time after time, that we are to repent of our sins and we're to turn to Him and He will bless us in a new way.  But, there is also hope for the future because of God's promises. As a Christian, I have hope, not just for this life, but for heaven and the life to come.  And that's the hope for all of us who put our faith in God.  The Cross tells us that God understands our sin and our suffering, for He took upon Himself in the person of Jesus Christ our sins and our suffering. And from the Cross, God declares, "I love you. I know the heartaches and the sorrows and the pains that you feel. But I love you."

On this day of remembrance and each day as we face news of conflict in the Ukraine or violence in our streets, schools or homes our hope remains in the love of Jesus Christ.  I’ve found the following Scriptures useful to reflect upon that hope and God’s promises:

Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.
Psalm 20:7

Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Isaiah 41:10

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us… If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8: 18, 31, 32, 35 and 37 - 39

He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain…
Revelation 21:4

Until; that day comes, may we stand firm to the end, to never let our love grow cold and hold on to hope.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Tonight at Mountaintop (September 10)

A Bible that is falling apart is the sign of a life that isn't #bumperstickertheology

But we do want to be students of God's Word so tonight we continue with week 2 of our Wednesday Series on Biblical Hermeneutics – How to Read the Bible the Right Way (if you missed last week’s introduction you can pick up an audio recording of the message in Harvest).

Tonight Dr. Mathews will be helping us understand how to read Biblical Narratives.  Our homework assignment to get us ready for his teaching is to read Genesis 12: 10 – 20 (hint:  pay attention to the connection between verses 1 – 3 and 10 – 20).

We will start promptly at 6:30 so do your homework, bring your Bible and for extra credit bring a friend with you as we are learning and sharing from God’s Word.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Amusing Ourselves To Death

In 1985 Neil Postman published, Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business.  He begins with a comparison of alternative visions of the future presented in George Orwell’s 1984 (published in 1949) and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World (published in 1932).  In preparing for the message on September 21 – When Virtual Becomes Reality – I’ve been rereading Amusing Ourselves to Death and found the following observations prophetic:

 “We were keeping our eye on 1984. When the year came and the prophecy didn't, thoughtful Americans sang softly in praise of themselves. The roots of liberal democracy had held. Wherever else the terror had happened, we, at least, had not been visited by Orwellian nightmares.

But we had forgotten that alongside Orwell's dark vision, there was another - slightly older, slightly less well known, equally chilling: Aldous Huxley's Brave New World. Contrary to common belief even among the educated, Huxley and Orwell did not prophesy the same thing. Orwell warns that we will be overcome by an externally imposed oppression. But in Huxley's vision, no Big Brother is required to deprive people of their autonomy, maturity and history. As he saw it, people will come to love their oppression, to adore the technologies that undo their capacities to think.

What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy. As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny "failed to take into account man's almost infinite appetite for distractions." In 1984, Orwell added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we fear will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we desire will ruin us.

In 2014 it would seem that Huxley, not Orwell, was right…..

Friday, September 5, 2014


Finishing up the message for this Sunday I was reminded of a book by one of my favorite authors, A. J. Jacobs.  Jacobs is an immersion writer, which simply means he immerses himself in various situations and then writes about his experience (his books The Know It All, The Year of Living Biblically and Drop Dead Healthy are great examples).  My Life as an Experiment is a collection of essays on 10 different immersions such as living as George Washington for a month.  The first essay is based on a experiment in unitasking.  

We all understand multitasking.  Some of us were introduced to the idea as kids as smiling housewives in commercials told us that they were cleaning their ovens as they played bridge or polo or cliff dived - my memory of the commercials is fuzzy but I remember the punchline:  "I'm cleaning my oven!"  Easy Off brilliantly marketed the value of multitasking and we were sold.  In his book Dancing the Soul SalsaLeonard Sweet nearly makes multitasking (killing two birds with one stone) a spiritual gift.  But its more than a couple of birds that are getting killed.  Multitasking is killing us.  Here’s some of what Jacob learned:
  • Driving Under the Influence of Text Messages causes 630,000 accidents a year.
  • In her book Distracted:  The Eroision of Attention and the Coming Dark AgeMaggie Johnson warns that distractions are changing the way we think, rewiring our brains and making it harder to solve complex problems.
  • Multitasking increases the levels of stress-related hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol, prematurely aging us.  Distracted brains make us more depressed, less able to connect with people or form a conscience.
  • And mulittasking makes us dumber (just imagine how much better a sentence that might have been if I haven’t spent so many years multitasking).  Researchers at UCLA found that multitasking shortchanges the higher regions of the brain, the ones devoted to learning and memory.   And the sad truth is we really aren’t multitasking, the brain can’t handle more than one higher cognitive function at a time.  We are switch-tasking – bouncing between one task to another.
And as Jacobs simply puts it:  Multitasking is rotting our skulls.

I read this first chapter uncomfortably.  Do I check my email and facebook status while on the phone?  Ouch!  Do I fall to the distraction of web surfing when I am trying to finish a writing assignment?   It starts by trying to look up quote from Plato which leads to a You Tube animation of The Cave and the next thing you know I’m watching videos of the Ice Bucket Challenge.  Ouch!  Do I watch TV with my laptop open while listening to Kim tell me about something going on with someone somewhere?  Ouch!  I am addicted to multitasking.  The idea of trying to stay focused on one task at a time actually frightens me.

But Jacob’s article has convinced me to try.  So for the rest of September I am going to attempt to be a Unitasker.  When I am writing I won’t bounce from document to document, go online or constantly check my email (it’s been killing me not to do either as I write this post – I especially want to check to see if there’s any new Ice Bucket uploads).  When I am driving, I will drive and the iPhone (which is a must-have tool for multitaskers) will stay in my messenger bag.  When I talk on the phone I will shut my eyes (one of Jacob’s suggestions) so that I won’t be tempted to accomplish another task while on the phone.  I won’t text or surf the web during meetings.  I won’t play Words with Friends (words for nerds) while walking from place to place.  I won’t even text or facebook (is facebook a verb?) while watching tv and I won’t look up interesting trivia about the actors we are watching on IMDb (I love doing that).  For the rest of the month I will attempt to focus on one task at a time.

Starting right now – I am a unitasker!   Let’s see what happens.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Hermeneutics Homework

Last night was incredible beginning to Wednesdays this fall at Mountaintop as Dr. Kenneth Mathews helped us Dig Deeper into Scripture.  I shared with him afterward that one of the thoughts that will stick with me was his observation that:

God has more on His mind that what He’s revealed in 66 books – but what He has revealed is more than enough for us!

Last night was just the introduction – next Wednesday we will be digging deeply into Biblical Narratives.  Here’s your homework:

Read Genesis 12: 10 – 20 (hint:  pay attention to the connection between verses 12: 1 – 3 and 12: 10 – 20)

And for Extra Credit:  Invite a friend to join us next Wednesday (and this Sunday) as we learn and share that life really is better with Jesus!