Baby News

Missy is in the 5th month of pregnancy and the baby has been moving around quite a bit lately. Yesterday I tried to see if I could feel them and sure enough I could! What an awesome experience to feel that little guy kicking around in there. Can’t wait to meet him. We think he is going to be a gymnast.

Giving Death a Makeover

There is little wonder that a dead and dying world wants to give death a makeover. Why turn and have life when you can just give things new names?

Instead of pro-death they call abortion “pro-choice
Instead of adultery they call it “open marriage
Instead of calling sexual activity with underage children rape the school system calls it practicing “safe sex

On and on the list could go but the end result is the same. A dying world tries to repackage and redefine its way back to life rather than take an honest look at what it is really doing and realize something has to change.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.” – John 1:1-5

What a shame. When life and light and truth showed up, death and darkness and lies tried to cover it up and even kill and destroy it. But in the end life wins. Let me say it again, LIFE WINS!

Barack Obama Music Video – Move it From Yes We Can to Here’s the Plan

Every time I hear an audio bite or a video clip of Barack Obama I don’t hear any policy. Not a single plan. I hear hope, hope, hope, change, change, change. He is running off a flashy image and charisma but I have no earthly clue what he would do as president. They say the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. Given the fact that he has the most liberal voting record in the Senate what does that say about where he would take this nation?

Barack, educate us. Teach us how to achieve this lofty vision of hope you keep talking about. Stop telling us “Yes we can.” We get it. We can do it if we band together, break down walls, and shoot for the stars. But what are we aiming for here? You have convinced us we can pull the trigger on change but would you let us know what it is you want us to aim at? What is hope when you don’t know what you are hoping for? You say we can heal this nation. Yes we can, but how and from what? You say we can heal this world. Yes we can, but what is the plan?

I think the cry needs to develop past “Yes we can” to “Here’s the plan.”

It is nice that you have celebrities in your video like Jesse Dylan, Common, Scarlett Johansson, Tatyana Ali, John Legend, Herbie Hancock, Kate Walsh, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Adam Rodriquez, Kelly Hu, Amber Valetta, Eric Balfour, Aisha Tyler, Nicole Scherzinger and Nick Cannon and everything. It is a nice start but the true mark of a leader is not found in the ability to formulate moving and timely speeches or celebrity filled music videos. The mark of a true leader is the ability to rally people together around a common vision that is backed by a realistic and well communicated plan of action and that, without the push and drive of the leader, might never have the momentum to ever be accomplished.

I bet Hillary Clinton is pulling out her hair that she is losing to a junior senator who is passing her in the delegate count based on charisma.

Matt’s 20 Tips for Better Blogging

1 – Put the most important information at the top. People want to see what is new right away. Make sure the recent posts and comments lists are in an area visible when the page loads.

2- Blog with search engines in mind. Most important – your title. Next important – the first three lines (as that is about how much people can see in google’s preview in a search). Use key phrases and words most likely to be used in searching for what you are writing about. Avoid superfluous wording.

3 – Don’t say in 50 words what you can say in 10. Keep sentences short and to the point. People don’t want to read ramblings. They want to feel like what they are reading is taking them somewhere – to a conclusion, to an “aha,” or to find out what happens in your story. Lead them there. Don’t let them down!

4 – Proof read your post. Nothing is a bigger turn off than a bunch of misspelled words and poor grammar. I would explain this more but I would be in violation of Rule 2.

5 – Use humor. Humor doesn’t just come through telling jokes, it comes from just being you and letting what happens happen.

6 – Link to provide answers. If there is something in your post that will probably raise a lot of questions or generate interest people appreciate it if you link those key words or phrases to something that explains them or answers those questions without that person having to scour the internet for answers. Let’s reword that according to Rule 3 – If your post raises questions or generates interest in something outside your blog link to it. You have already done the thinking and research, put it out there.donnydillon.jpg

7 – Use pictures. 10,000 words in times new roman don’t catch the eye as fast as a picture or at least text formatting that organizes your post. Use headings when you change the topic, bullet lists stand out more than using a sentence full of commas. Use italics for certain things and be consistent. This blog, being religious in nature, uses italics for scripture and block quote large portions of scripture (that is done through the Code view in wordpress). Don’t throw in superfluous and unrelated pictures like the one to the right, unless your post is actually about Donny Dillon throwing a football at Gator Statdium!

8 – Don’t use a calendar showing when you posted. “Oh, but someone may want to know if they missed a post from four days ago!” If they know your blog that well then they are spending way too much time there…Remove that calendar widget.

9 – Provide a search engine for your content.

10 – Make subscribing easy by providing subscription buttons.

11 – Let people get to know you.

  1. Content
  2. Blogroll/links – people will see common interests
  3. About page – provide a way for people to email you
  4. Organization of the page. If you are typically a disorganized person…is it such a bad thing that your blog shows it? It can be a plus if your ADD comes through in your posts as long as there is a little humor in it. Letting tourette’s come through from repeating certain words or phrases may not work as well though.

12 – Use categories and tags. Search engines, technorati, wordpress, and other means of searching utilize these and people use them all the time to find new content. This is one of the best way to generate new readers. Use tags liberally. Use tags that are specific. Use tags that are popular when they fit- look at WordPress to see which ones are most used.

13 – Have a theme and mention it regularly. Branding is important. If I say my blog is about holiness and Christian spiritual transformation, people better see it. If I call it Kingdom Living I need to relate some posts back to that theme. Remind people where they are.

14 – Post regularly. People ignore you if they come by three of four times and nothing has changed. Also, people with feed readers will see that things are regularly updated, increasing your traffic. The more content you put up the more likely your blog will get traffic from search engines and email subscriptions.

15 – Promote dialogue over monologue. Ask for input in your posts [preacherman is king of this]. Contribute to the comments. Thank those who generate more conversation. People want to feel like they are being listened to, who better to respond than the author of the blog?

16 – Blog about what you know. It is good if people see your blog as a resource on something in particular, even if it is just your sharp wit and charming personality. Stick with what you know and do it better than anyone else. The most popular blogs on the web are those that stick to certain areas and do them better than anyone else.

17 – Use wordpress. WordPress makes it a lot easier to generate traffic than blogger because it is much better interconnected with other users than blogger is.

18 – Use a host rather than the free blog. I am still working on that!

19 – Commenter or Publisher? There are few people who are great at commenting on a variety of blogs and posting quality information on a regular basis at their site. There are some exceptions to that. Decide if you are better at responding to what others have written or generating your own content and spend most of your time on the one you are better at. I started off trying to read what everyone else was saying and commenting when I had input. I do that when I can but I have learned that I am better at providing content and don’t stress out about leaving as many comments other places.

20 – Keep humble. Don’t get too proud when your traffic goes up. Keep a humble spirit and treat all people with respect. Keep dissenting opinions out there among your comments but don’t be afraid to delete those that are not in good taste for your readers or are disrespectful – if they get mad about a deleted inappropriate comment, chances are it is better they don’t stick around anyway.

So Many Connections and So Little Connection

How many ways can someone contact you during any given day?  We have more ways to be connected than ever before: phones, cell phones, pagers, email, faxes, letters, internet (including blogging, facebook, myspace,,, flickr, friendster, LinkedIn, Twitter, Xanga, and about 500 other options…). We have never had this many ways to find people and be connected ever before. When I look through my facebook, I see people from high school, college, mission trips, graduate school, work, etc. all in one place. If you need to get in touch with someone there is almost no escaping it any more. When I was on call in the hospital during graduate school I thought I was really something. They gave me a pager to wear, which I thought was pretty amazing. Then I found out that people actually page you and expect you to answer and do something for them. Being connected all the time was not as much fun as I first thought.

Things have gotten so crazy that you can even slap a phone to the side of your head and talk away “hands free.” That is a schizophrenic’s dream – just put on bluetooth and no one will know you are actually talking to yourself! You have probably experienced the awkward moment when someone is looking right at you and talking…you figure they are trying to tell you something but they are just talking on the phone. I saw a couple the other day at Wal-mart and I thought they were married because they were standing next to each other talking back and forth…little did I know they both had bluetooth. I figured it out when they went their separate ways!

With all of these means for connection, how connected are we? It used to be that people had a few dozen connections and know those people extremely well. Today many of us have hundreds if not thousands of people that we are connected to in a very limited way. We don’t really know people like we used to because we give 1000 different people .1% each. What is the result? Community has been destroyed. Relationships are loosely connected even between husbands and wives, parents and children, ministers and Christians. What does that say about the relationship with have with God? How connected have we stayed with him? Have we realized that prayer is still the most important and effective means of communication that has outpaced any technology that the world has ever or will ever see?

How have you remained connected with God and others in a generation that has remained so loosely connected?

No Longer Ordinary – John 5

In John 5 we have the story of Jesus healing a man on the Sabbath. Like we saw in John 4, Jesus does not always do things that fall in line with our expectations. Before we get to that let’s have a look at the conversation with the lame man. It starts with a condition, paralysis that leads to a question, “Do you want to get well?” I think that parallels our relationship with Jesus quite well. The one who has the power to heal comes to us in all of our weakness and asks us the same question. If we respond through faith in the affirmative, he will come and make us whole as well.

Like this lame man, when the initial invitation comes from Christ for spiritual renewal, we probably will not completely understand the offer – we may equate it with things other than Christ. The words of Christ break ground in a life that has formed its opinions by what the contemporary culture has said in the past – try dipping in this pool or that, try to get in first or last, go here or there…these words of Christ give a seed of hope to a life that has heard all of the empty promises before. Faith starts to take shape as this new message competes with all of the old. As the conversation unfolds it becomes clear that healing is not found in pools or by magical or angel empowered water, it comes only through the Son of God. The next thing you know the legs have feeling again and the 38 year perspective of seeing things from three feet off the ground expands as he takes to his feet for the first time in decades and sees the Christ eye-to-eye.
The Jews had a real problem with Jesus healing on the Sabbath. It all boils down to an authority issue. Since they believed Jesus was not the Son of God then he certainly didn’t have any right to work on the Sabbath. The Jews acknowledged that some work was done on the Sabbath, one out of seven circumcisions would have been performed on the Sabbath, but that was an exception because God required that it be done (that is probably part of what Jesus was referencing in 5:17 – “my Father is at work to this very day.”). For Jesus to legitimately do work on the Sabbath was to put himself on level with God. That is precisely what he was doing. The Jews didn’t message the message behind the actions and that is why they wanted to kill him. He could have waited until Sunday or Monday or come a day early and done it on a Friday but he didn’t. He had a point to make – God is not constrained by our presupposition of what he can and cannot do. Neither is Christ, as God in the flesh bound by them. If they were we would have authority over them and they would have to fall in line with our opinions, rules, and regulations. Thank goodness they don’t!

Jesus goes on to talk about life that comes through belief in him and a resurrection that is in store for those who have faith in the Christ. We are reminded that believing in Jesus is not “ho-hum,” “run of the mill,” or “ordinary.” Many of us have believed since our youth that is seems quite ordinary to believe in Jesus. In reality it goes counter to all the messages that the world has to send our way. It is a light in the darkness, truth amongst lies, life in the midst of death. Church is plagued with people who have fallen into “status quo” Christianity, people who believe the message of Christ is quite ordinary. Tell me, when was the last time you saw God die for someone? Is that happening every couple of weeks to make it seem quite ordinary? I sure don’t think so. Let’s live mindful of the fact that the message we have for the world isn’t and never has been ordinary. No, it is extraordinary.


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