Category: Uncategorized (page 3 of 4)

Things Don’t Change Much Do They? (Sermon Audio)

Things Don’t Change Much, Do They?

July 24th, 2016

First United Presbyterian Church of Tarentum

Luke 11:1-13, Psalm 42

Audio Only

Reflections on “Skin in the Game” with Andy Stanley

I’m white. Like, really really white – I grew up in the suburbs, went to a overwhelmingly white high school, almost 100% white college, a majority white seminary (even in that setting, the non-white students were peers pursuing graduate degrees in theology). I’ve served a church that is totally white that is part of a community that is, you guessed it, really really white. On a day to day basis (as of now) the average number of non-white individuals I interact with on a daily basis is: 0.

That being said, I have friends who are non-white and I value what they post online as it reminds me that the experience of being non-white is different. And when, as a society, we’re confronting the issues that last week’s events have brought into focus, I value their voices even more.

So a day or two ago a friend of mine posted the link below. As a long time listener of Andy Stanley I put it on my mental to do list to listen to this message. Tonight, during my lawn mowing time, I did. And I truly believe it is one the most helpful things I’ve listened to in a long long time.

To my white friends, whether you’re conservative or liberal, Christian or non-Christian, please take an hour and listen to this. If it not’s worth your time, let me know and I’ll pay for coffee sometime and we can discuss why.

To my (few) non-white friends – thank you – please keep posting – keep reminding me that your experience and mine have been different.

All about digital marketing

Digital marketing is something every company has to give due consideration to. Not an online business you say. Too bad because that doesn’t excuse you from anything. Even local, land-based businesses have to focus on the online arena, as that’s where their target audiences are.

Here are seven things about digital marketing heaven you absolutely have to know, it is still essential to know these few things even if you are planning on hiring a Digital Hyve Marketing agency.

1. Mobile Is Now

Audiences aren’t shifting more to browsing via mobile devices. They are already there. Over 50% of all Internet users are now operating exclusively on mobile devices. If you haven’t made your site responsive and geared everything towards smaller screens, you’re in trouble. First, Google will actively penalize you in the search results, consequently reducing your audience. Second, your existing customers will become increasingly frustrated and alienated.

2. Micro-Moments

The easiest way to define this is by relating it to impulse shopping. Portability and accessibility in the business world has led to the rise of micro-moments. You have mere seconds to fulfill a customer’s need. Your company has to have a platform that operates 24/7 in order to cater to anyone wherever they are.

3. Using Apps

Apps are becoming the ultimate way to reach your audience. A quick look at the TV and you will see just how many companies are advertising their apps instead of their core businesses. This is because many customers are ignoring browsers and going straight for apps. If you don’t already have a related app for your business, now is the time to address that.

4. Consider The Internet Of Things

The Internet of Things is a modern phenomenon relating to how ordinary every-day objects can, and are expected to, connect with a network. In other words, our phones turned from a simple way to make calls to connecting to the Internet. Smart home technology is another example of how the Internet of Things is taking hold. This is yet to become an absolute ‘must’ for businesses as it’s still in its infancy, but you should already be considering what you’re going to do about it. For now, this may be as simple as an app or thinking about the wider impact of your products and services.

5. Branding and Brand Management

The definition of branding for digital marketers has changed. It once referred to printing business cards, coming up with a website, and slapping a logo on it. Your brand extends to everything, now, especially how you are going to communicate with customers. Branding for businesses in 2016 must be holistic. It must include delving into potentially difficult topics like reputation and crisis management. Brands that succeed in the long run plan for every possible eventuality. All it takes is a co-worker to say the wrong thing and it can completely smear the company’s reputation.

6. Pushing People Through The Door

According to Edward James, CEO of Go Up, “SEO was once measured by the amount of traffic flowing to a website. Digital marketers made their money through getting people through the door. Tap here to read the article. What happened afterwards was none of their concern. Now the responsibilities of the digital marketer have changed. It’s less about pushing people through the door and more about monitoring them throughout the entire purchasing process.” The digital marketer must concentrate on all steps of the buying process. In addition, after that they have to think about how they are going to retain customers in the long-term.

7. Live Streaming

Live streaming through platforms like Periscope and Twitch are on the up. Many companies have dismissed them as novelties that don’t need to be considered. Nevertheless, digital marketers have managed to turn them into dollar signs. Don’t underestimate the desire of customers to see what’s going on inside an operation. While we can’t give you any concrete tactics for how to utilize live streaming for the benefit of your business, what we can say is this is something to watch. Digital marketing is set to become more interactive than ever before, and part of this revolution will come from harnessing the potential of live streaming.


Digital marketing isn’t something you can ignore if you want to make your organization into a success. The time is now to take advantage of it. If you don’t know enough about it, hire someone. Nevertheless, whatever you do don’t let your competitors pass you by.

Ten Things We Wish Others Knew About Relationships

During January our Jr. and Sr. High Students finished our “Obsessed Series” that focused on dating and relationships.  After the 1st week, we split into three groups and made some top ten lists.  All three lists are un-edited

Ten Things Guys Wish Girls Knew about Relationships:

  1. Be more straightforward
  2. Don’t take everything personally
  3. You can eat around us
  4. Be patient with us (we’re stupid)
  5. We need our freedom (put down the whip)
  6. Let things go/no grudges
  7. Our wallets are not bottomless
  8. Prior commitments come first
  9. The world doesn’t need to know (social media)
  10. Don’t make us change ourselves

Ten Things Girls With Guys Knew about Relationships:

  1. Be courageous!  Just ask us!  We want you to ask us and show us you are dedicated to dating us
  2. Realize there is more than physical relationships
  3. It is ok if we are better or stronger than you.
  5. There is a face above the boobs – “Up here, buddy”
  6. Don’t make me into something I’m not.  I’m not something to just show your friends
  7. Please WEAR DEODORANT!  At least try to be a little clean
  8. Sometimes, if something is wrong, just comfort us.
  9. Sometimes we are more gross than you (some of us just like to wear sweatpants)
  10. Build us up, don’t knock us down (NEVER GONNA GIVE YOU UP!  NEVER GONNA LET YOU DOWN)
  11. No catcalling
  12. We added two more numbers to show that in a relationship we can make the rules.

Ten Things Leaders* Wish High School Students knew about Relationships

  1. PDA is never appropriate or needed – you just look stupid
  2. TV gives you a really unrealistic view of dating and sex
  3. Love and know yourself before you can be of any value to anyone else
  4. Physical and mental abuse is never acceptable or normal
  5. If you feel the need to compromise your core values – something is wrong
  6. All relationships will end (except one)
  7. Emotional intimacy is as important as physical intimacy
  8. You should be friends too – more than intimacy
  9. If you can’t disagree constructively then you need to get out
  10. Sex is a big deal, but not the way you think.  It’s sacred and powerful and can be easily misused.
  11. This is one of the most important decisions you make – we expect you to choose wisely.

* – Leaders were in age from Mid-20’s through Mid-50’s, men and women, mostly married but not all

Farewell Uncle Tom

“If there be any truer measure of a man than by what he does, it must be by what he gives.” – Robert South

I grew up as an only child, which means that I spent a lot of time around adults.  And it must be said that I had a fantastic group of parents, family members, Sunday school teachers, mentors, teachers, and coaches who influenced me to become who I have become today.  But if I had to pick one adult outside of my parents, the person who influenced me the most would be my Uncle Tom.

I had the fortune of growing up in the same town as my Aunt Marian and Uncle Tom (in fact, my Aunt Marian was my sixth-grade math teacher).  What that meant was that I saw them often, in particular, at church each and every Sunday.  I remember as a young child sitting in church eagerly awaiting my Uncle’s arrival.  In my line of work now, I’ve come to recognize just how important that was in shaping my view of church at a young age.  After all, your parents, they have to care about you.  But my Uncle took a genuine interest in me and made coming to church something I looked forward to.

My Uncle Tom was also the first one who put me in front of a computer, and for those of you who know me well, I am a hopelessly addicted tech geek who has loved the Mac computer since the mid-80’s.  Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? started me off but the list went on.  I remember my Mom saying to my Uncle “Are you sure that’s ok?” and he’d reply with a smile “Anne, he can’t hurt it”.  My Uncle Tom trusted me and was willing to let me explore something new on my own, knowing full well that I might in fact mess something up.  But, I had the freedom to explore, because I knew that if I did mess something up, Uncle Tom would find a way to fix it.

Perhaps most important, my Uncle Tom taught me never to accept an easy answer to a hard question.  My Uncle’s hero in the bible was “Doubting Thomas” and he thought it fitting that their names were the same.  Needless to say, as I pursued a call to ministry, topics of faith and theology often came up.  I distinctly remember meeting up for lunch with my Uncle when I was home from college.  In the course of our conversation, the topic of AIDS came up. He asked why God would allow such a thing in the world if God was in fact so loving.  I responded with some freshman-at-a-Christian-College-response that I am sure was theologically correct.  My Uncle smiled, smirked even, and said “Right, but he could do something, but he doesn’t”.  My Uncle quickly recognized two things.  I had in fact given him a theologically correct answer, but the answer wasn’t appropriate to the question because it was too easy.  As many of my youth group kids will attest, I am often pushing them to think deeper than the correct but easy answer and instead think about the issue on personal and theological grounds.  I credit much of that to my Uncle, who would often push and push and push as I struggled to answer the tough questions he posed to me.

As I reflect on his life and now his death, I have mixed emotions.  On the one had, there is the pragmatic side of me that recognizes the facts.  He was 83, he had battled bladder cancer, and he was ready for his life to end.  All things considered, he had about one bad month right at the very end.  Up and until then (these are his words) “I was strong, I could do what I wanted”.  As someone who has watched people suffer for years at the end of their lives, I am grateful for the blessing of only one month.  The personal side of me though isn’t nearly as pragmatic.  While it hasn’t hit me fully yet, I know it will, in particular the first time I walk into my Aunt and Uncle’s house and see the office where I spent so many hours of my life.  The stark realization that my Uncle is gone will hit me and hit me like a ton of bricks.  My Uncle is gone.  There will be no more lunches at Applebee’s.  There will be no more phone calls discussing politics, football or the Yankees.  Those are gone, that chapter in my life is officially closed now.  And there is loss there.

There is much in life my Uncle has taught me, and so much I am grateful for.  In particular, I am grateful that my Uncle gave (and gave, and gave) of his very self. His obituary has two lines in it that are as perfect as they could be: “… and his beloved nieces and nephews” and “His later years were focused on his grandchildren…”  My Uncle invested in the lives of his grandchildren and nieces and nephews in real and tangible ways.  He adored his grandchildren and that was evident to anyone who knew him.  And he loved the nieces and nephews.  Perhaps my most profound sadness in this whole situation is that my two children will have but fleeting and brief memories of this great man.  This was a man who had an important job and a Doctorate in Education, but he would count all that as loss compared to his deep love for his family.

My hope is that my kids can have an adult in their life like my Uncle Tom; someone to encourage, support and challenge them as they navigate through life.  And my hope is that when my dying day comes, there will be those who will think of me the way I think of my Uncle Tom.

Reason why taking the time to sleep is important when having a busy life

You are probably very busy—we all are—but if you want to be healthy, wealthy and beautiful, you need to sleep., and not in a regular bed, you need the best mattress there is. Perhaps that is why Arianna Huffington entitled her TED Talk as follows: “How to succeed? Addiction Advocates is a group of people that have worked in the treatment space for years. If you are not sure if someone needs luxury drug addiction care, they can work with you to learn the signs of addiction. Of course, they can help in anything with your problem. Get More Sleep.” Here are 10 Reasons why you need to sleep more even though you are busy.
1. You’ll have better physical health.
Study after study shows that denying yourself sleep has many serous health consequences. Chronic lack of sleep increases your chances of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, heart attack and high blood pressure.
In addition, in order to stay awake during working hours, your a sleep deprived brain craves excess caffeine, alcohol, nicotine and other stimulating drugs—all of which are contributors to various health risks, and then you will find yourself looking for a company that supplies drug test solutions, you’d be trying to get updates from them, to not get noticed. Learn more
2. You’ll be in a better mood.
When you are rested, you are in a better mood—that is why you need to sleep. You probably have noticed that when you are sleep deprived, you are moody, cranky, irritable and ready to snap at anyone. On the other hand, when you are well rested, you are generally more content and happy.
3. You’ll be at lower risk of getting injured.
Think about it: most accidents happen when people are exhausted. In her book: Sleep Deprived No More, Professor Mindell PHD states “When you’re overtired, you’re more likely to trip, or fall off a ladder, or cut yourself while chopping vegetables.” In the US alone, one hundred thousand car accidents per year are caused by sleep deprived drivers.
4. You’ll look better.
Another reason why you need to sleep is because when you are rested, you look better. We have all heard the expression, I need my beauty sleep—well rested people look better. If you are exhausted, you just don’t look as good. Plus, when you are rested you are more likely to smile, and nothing enhances your good looks more than a smile. When you are sleep deprived, people perceive you as more tired, less attractive, less healthy and older than you actually are.
5. You’ll have a healthier weight.
When you sleep well, you have energy to exercise, cook a healthy meal, play soccer with your children, and you are more likely to make healthier food choices. On the other the hand, when you are tired, you need more energy, and you often find this energy in not so healthy foods—high calorie carbohydrates and sugar in particular. Your brain is literally telling your body to stock up on food by releasing the hunger hormone ghrelin. And obviously you are still too exhausted to exercise and play with your children.
6. You’ll have better relationships.
Lack of sleep is likely to affect your mood, which indirectly affects your relationships. People who are in a bad mood are often are negative, irritable, impatient and plainly rude. We generally don’t like to hang around people who are in a bad mood.
7. You’ll be able to think more clearly.
In her book: Sleep Deprived No More, Professor Mindell, PHD states that lack of sleep “impairs your cognition, your attention, and your decision-making.” You know how you feel after pulling an all-nighter to finish up a paper. You’re not really at your best to take the final exam, are you?
In addition, the ability to find novel solutions to complex problems are dramatically enhanced by sleep, says neuroscientist Russell Foster in his TED talk “Why Do We Sleep?.”
8. You’ll improve your mental health.
People who are chronically sleep deprived are in more mental distress and more likely to be depression alliance. Russell Foster in his TED talk “Why Do We Sleep?” shared his new research that demonstrated a clear link between mental health, mental illness and your sleep habits.
9. You’ll remember more.
Russell Foster also shares his research concerning how good sleep promotes and supports good memory, while lack of sleep impairs memory. He explains that while we sleep, our brains process and consolidate memories from our day.
10. You’ll get sick less often
One preliminary study suggests that people who sleep less than seven hours per night are three times more likely to get sick. Sleep deprived people are more stressed and this leads to suppressed immunity. Perhaps you can remember your end of a semester exam time, you worked hard, you slept little for 2 to 3 weeks and when it was all over, you came down with a major cold.

For What It’s Worth: College Decisions

On Sunday night (April 13th, 2014) I did a lesson on the value and importance of being in relationship with others in order to be encouraged in our faith (Referencing Hebrews 10).  As part of that, I gave my first ever mini-lesson on college decisions.  After I finished, I thought “Hmm…. maybe parents would be interested in hearing this” so I sat down this week and recorded just that section of the lesson.  I was able to add a few things as well.

  • The post I reference about the emerging value of the Associate’s degree is available on Jesus Creed
  • The part I left out both times around that I found really helpful was a discussion I heard on NPR last week.  They talked about following your dreams but having a back up plan.  So, if you really want to study Psychology, double major in Psychology and Business.  Or, if music is your passion, study music and business.  Those “dream” major often need an accompanying major to make you more marketable and applicable.  In this case, someone with a degree in sociology and Med marketing might be considered more qualified for a job because of their background in sociology. See post – WebDesign499 for more information. Or, if you do music and business, that helps you further your dream because after all, music is still a business.  I thought that was a very good insight. Meanwhile, if investing is more up your alley, you might want to consider reading this Qprofit System review to learn more about investing in binary options trading. This tool is an automated bot and can be a good starting point to earning passively while you wait out other opportunities.


Youth Ministry Meanderings – Part 5: The Example of Peter

Today I am in the process of revising and rewriting my Confirmation curriculum.  In my time in ministry I have always followed Mark Oestreicher’s advice when it comes to curriculum: “The best curriculum isn’t the one you buy or the one you write, it’s the one you modify”.  However, I have yet to find a curriculum for Confirmation that does everything I am looking for, so I wrote my own a few years back.  Since then I’ve gotten input from others who have used it as a model and am re-writing it to be more user friendly and provide students with more guidance as they are completing the bible readings.  All that to say, I normally don’t write curriculum.  But, today I was looking over Luke 5:1-11 and I realized it’s the perfect example of the twin building blocks concept that I talked about in Part 4.

In the story, Jesus is teaching from a boat.  When he’s finished, he tells Simon (Peter) to put down their nets once again.  Peter protests, but is ultimately obeys and is rewarded with a overflowing catch.  Peter’s response is almost startling: “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” (Luke 5:8b, NIV).  Jesus response is even more startling: “Don’t be afraid, from now on you will fish for people” (Luke 5:10b, NIV).

This is a perfect example of the healthy tension that I believe ministry needs in general, but specifically youth ministry.  One way to read this text would be to say “Well, what was really important was that Peter realized he was a sinner and wasn’t worthy of Jesus. That’s what we most need to teach students”.  Another way to read this text would be to say “No, Jesus wasn’t concerned about Peter’s sinfulness, he wanted followers to do his will”.  The tradition I grew up in (mainline protestant) would emphasize the latter, while the evangelical tradition that I came into during my college years would tend to emphasize the former.  My argument is that right within this one passage we see how easy it is to lose the balance we need in order to understand Jesus’ message.

The traditional evangelical emphasis of recognition of one’s own sinfulness and the need to repent is demonstrated here.  After all, Jesus invites Peter to “fish for people” precisely because Peter recognizes who Jesus is.  But to emphasize that at the expense of the latter call to be Jesus’ disciple is just as dangerous.  Jesus very much wants people to recognize their own sinfulness and need for his grace in their lives, but also wants people to understand that with that recognition, there is a call to be his obedient disciple.

One point I need to add on.  There is, I believe, a temptation to equate “fishing for people” to evangelism, a jump I don’t think is justified.  If we look at what it was Jesus commanded his followers to do when he sent them out on their own in Luke 9 we see that the role of a disciple is much broader than what we would traditionally consider evangelism.

I think Youth Ministry needs a healthy balance between conversion and obedience.  One without the other collapses into either cheap grace or works righteousness, both of which are heretical in their own right.

Youth Ministry Meanderings – Part 4: The Twin Building Blocks of Youth Ministry

As a kid, I hated gymnastics. No, you don’t understand, I hated it. Like, crying-in-bed-the-night-before-report-cards-came-out-because-I-was-going-to-fail-gym-class hated it, ?I would beg my mom to stop being in the list of the gym management software. (For the record, my gym teacher taught me an early lesson in grace because I definitely deserved to fail). In any event, there were only two elements that were even worth my time to try: the parallel bards and the balance beam (The floor routine was out of the question – I couldn’t even do a cartwheel). I actually preferred the balance beam (although my sense of balance to this day is terrible) but I always ended up doing my parallel bar routine for a grade. While I was terrible at that, parallel bars and the balance beam offer two analogies for ministry.

The bible is chock full of verses, that’s without question. And often these verses can seemingly contradict one another, and that’s one thing about the bible I love. Not just like, but love. When someone says “but that contradicts what it says here….” I get all warm and fuzzy inside, because for me that’s what faith is fundamentally about: learning to live in an uneasy tension. Now, keep in mind, I was a Physics major in college. I like things black and white, but I’ve found that in the life of faith there’s a whole lot more gray that we have to contend with.

There’s an inherent danger I believe in staking our theological approach to ministry one a single theological axiom. For example, one might say that the goal of Youth Ministry is to have a student begin a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. There is nothing wrong with that goal by itself, but left alone it allows us to develop tunnel vision. Ministry tunnel vision takes on an almost Machiavellian approach – it doesn’t matter what it takes as long as we accomplish our goal. So one can justify just about anything by saying “What if just one of those kids commits their lives to Jesus – wouldn’t it then be worth it all?”.

I find it more helpful to use the parallel bars as an analogy for ministry. Two bars and we rely on both of them. At points, we lean more heavily on one or the other, but ultimately, we need them both. For me, there are two verses that I find helpful in forming these bars:

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30, NIV)

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:25, NIV)

I choose these two verses for a couple reasons. The first is that they both emphasize the concept of discipleship. In the Matthew 11, Jesus is inviting his listeners to adopt his way of life (his yoke). In the second, Jesus is laying out a clear warning to those who would follow him and in this case, it’s seems anything but “easy and light”. But that’s precisely while I love this set of verses. Being a disciple of Jesus is easy but it’s also incredibly demanding. If you lose one of those who points, I think you fail to grasp who it is God calls us to be as individuals and as a community. Second, the verses how to seemingly contradictory portraits of Jesus. The first is the kind, gentle, almost lovey-dovey Jesus “I am gentle and humble” while the second portrays Jesus as almost a jerk: You cannot be my disciple unless you let me be first in your life – period. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. But again, this is the picture of Jesus we find in scripture.

For me, I believe that our task can be bounded by these two verses. Yes, we need to emphasize how much God loves our students and the great lengths to which God has gone to show that love. But we cannot only do that. In the same way, we cannot only tell students how demanding and difficult following Jesus is. To do one or the other would fail to represent Jesus’ attitude toward us. I want my students to know how much God loves them and how they are his beloved children, created by him and adopted into his family through Jesus Christ. I want them to know the joy of following Jesus, how easy his yoke is and how light the burden. At the same time though, I want my students to understand that the life-giving and life-fulfilling call of Jesus is demanding and it requires a lot of us.


When you have been in an accident and need the assistance of a legal professional, you need to hire an attorney at a personal injury law firm to help you, such as the rear end collisions and crashes | Babcock Partners, LLC. However, you do not want to simply hire the first name you come across after a quick search. You need to put a bit of research and filtering before deciding on who to work with. Here are a few basic dos and don’ts to keep in mind during your search that will help you make the best decision.

To find out what your options are in the St. Petersburg area, you will need to do some research. Pull up your favorite search engine and see what firms and attorneys pop up that are nearby. Find a few names, check out ratings and reviews, and read their websites to learn more information. You need to know what services they offer, how they can help you, and whether you are a good match. If the reviews are strong, the website offers promising-sounding information, and you feel like one of the personal injury attorneys would be a good fit for you, contact them to schedule a consultation to discuss your case.

If your neighbor or co-worker recommends the name of a personal injury law firm in St. Petersburg who helped them when they were in a bind, that is great! However, you need to make sure that the attorneys are a good fit for your case as well, so make sure you go for an attorney like the boulder law firms. Call them to discuss your case and set up an in-person consultation to determine whether they will be a good fit for you.

Most attorneys in St. Petersburg offer free consultations, so during your meeting, ask as many questions as you feel is necessary to get a solid feeling for the law group.

Who will handle my case?
Who is my direct contact?
Can you tell me about a case similar to mine and what the outcome was like?
How many of your cases go to trial?
What makes your personal injury law firm different?
Based on their answers, you should get a strong feeling whether you want to pursue a relationship with this personal injury law firm.

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