Battle For The Net

If you woke up tomorrow, and your internet looked like this, what would you do? Imagine all your favorite websites taking forever to load, while you get annoying notifications from your ISP suggesting you switch to one of their approved “Fast Lane” sites.Think about what we would lose: all the weird, alternative, interesting, and enlightening stuff that makes the Internet so much cooler than mainstream Cable TV. What if the only news sites you could reliably connect to were the ones that had deals with companies like Comcast and Verizon?On September 10th, just a few days before the FCC’s comment deadline, public interest organizations are issuing an open, international call for websites and internet users to unite for an “Internet Slowdown” to show the world what the web would be like if Team Cable gets their way and trashes net neutrality. Net neutrality is hard to explain, so our hope is that this action will help SHOW the world what’s really at stake if we lose the open Internet.If you’ve got a website, blog or tumblr, get the code to join the #InternetSlowdown here: https://battleforthenet.com/sept10thEveryone else, here’s a quick list of things you can do to help spread the word about the slowdown: http://tumblr.fightforthefuture.org/post/96020972118/be-a-part-of-the-great-internet-slowdown Get creative! Don’t let us tell you what to do. See you on the net September 10th!

via Battle For The Net.

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Storytelling Rules.

Storytelling is used everywhere! As a church we have the most incredible, life-changing, powerful story to tell and share with the world…the Gospel. Churches mainly use storytelling in testimonies, cantatas, videos, promo videos, etc. Maybe your church has even more things it does when it comes to storytelling. Here are a few tips I grabbed on to on storytelling…from Disney Pixar’s own, Emma Coats. Yea…she’s legit. Although she is now a director in L.A she knows a thing or two about storytelling:

#1: You admire a character for trying more than for their successes.

#2: You gotta keep in mind what’s interesting to you as an audience, not what’s fun to do as a writer. They can be v. different.

#3: Trying for theme is important, but you won’t see what the story is actually about til you’re at the end of it. Now rewrite.

#4: Once upon a time there was ___. Every day, ___. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally ___.

#5: Simplify. Focus. Combine characters. Hop over detours. You’ll feel like you’re losing valuable stuff but it sets you free.

#6: What is your character good at, comfortable with? Throw the polar opposite at them. Challenge them. How do they deal?

#7: Come up with your ending before you figure out your middle. Seriously. Endings are hard, get yours working up front.

#8: Finish your story, let go even if it’s not perfect. In an ideal world you have both, but move on. Do better next time.

#9: When you’re stuck, make a list of what WOULDN’T happen next. Lots of times the material to get you unstuck will show up.

#10: Pull apart the stories you like. What you like in them is a part of you; you’ve got to recognize it before you can use it.

#11: Putting it on paper lets you start fixing it. If it stays in your head, a perfect idea, you’ll never share it with anyone.

#12: Discount the 1st thing that comes to mind. And the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th – get the obvious out of the way. Surprise yourself.

#13: Give your characters opinions. Passive/malleable might seem likable to you as you write, but it’s poison to the audience.

#14: Why must you tell THIS story? What’s the belief burning within you that your story feeds off of? That’s the heart of it.

#15: If you were your character, in this situation, how would you feel? Honesty lends credibility to unbelievable situations.

#16: What are the stakes? Give us reason to root for the character. What happens if they don’t succeed? Stack the odds against.

#17: No work is ever wasted. If it’s not working, let go and move on – it’ll come back around to be useful later.

#18: You have to know yourself: the difference between doing your best & fussing. Story is testing, not refining.

#19: Coincidences to get characters into trouble are great; coincidences to get them out of it are cheating.

#20: Exercise: take the building blocks of a movie you dislike. How d’you rearrange them into what you DO like?

#21: You gotta identify with your situation/characters, can’t just write ‘cool’. What would make YOU act that way?

#22: What’s the essence of your story? Most economical telling of it? If you know that, you can build out from there.

Emma CoatsTwitter: @lawnrocket

Leadership Lesson…Take 2!


I have never been one for taking initiative. I have never been one for taking risks and chances on things. So, I have never been one for remotely considering myself as a leader. And that’s ok…right?

I have been blessed to be part of an organization that has bombarded this extremely Type-B personality with biblical lessons in leadership. I have learned that ultimately anyone can be a leader…because leadership is influence.

Leadership = Influence

Here’s where my habit of over thinking things comes into full force. For me, a definition like that gives me the idea that I, as a leader, should for the most part have the answer. If I am going to influence people, they are going to look to me. Here’s my problem…I don’t have all the answers. But that’s ok because its not about having answers to give others to then influence them.
I think its about seeing something and not just showing others where to go, but taking them by the hand and involving them. I still have a long way to go with this and I’m ok with that too. God sent Jesus as the ultimate example of what it means to lead others and I pray I can learn through His word what it means to be a leader for His glory.

___________________________________________________________


Am I going crazy?


Ok, this guy is crazy.
Why is he playing clarinet? I would’ve liked to seem him play a Sousaphone.

Anyway, I have figured out that leadership is hard. Balancing getting work done and leading a team can be frustrating at times. I think it’s easy for potential leaders (like me) to feel like a total failure or even burn out. I know I have felt this way and are still having moments of feeling this way too. Here’s where I think my problem is…and it may be the same for you. I thrive on doing my job alone. A better way would be I thrive on individual accomplishment. But I don’t like being alone in my accomplishments. I love working with teams and impacting others.
Am I going crazy? Is this normal? By working on what I am doing individually, am I focusing too much on being a “me” player instead of a team player? Am I owning all the pieces or just mine? This is frustrating.
I have 3 things working alongside me that is making this more difficult:

#1. Perfection = ?

I’m somewhat of a perfectionist. I’m not on medication for OCD or anything like that, but I do struggle with letting go. I find I often say to myself “Geez, it’s so much faster if I just do it myself!” Please tell me I’m not the only one out there that says things like this. ☺ Ultimately, I know replacing myself is necessary if I am going to be effective to my organization.

#2. Rut Row. (Scooby Doo)

I have tasks, deadlines, goals, etc. and I plan to finish them. So, I begin my race and go, go, go until it is finished. Once I cross the finish line, I start immediately on another race. No time for anything else because I am constantly at a starting or finishing point. More of a never-ending cycle.
The problem is if I’m here to long…I feel jammed. Stuck. Rut Row!

#3. Good Stress. Bad Stress.

If one of our senses is damaged or lost, the others are heightened. If we have a whacked out muscle or group the others jump in and help the rest of the body. Something sacrifices attention from its job to serve and help the others. This is both good and bad stress in my opinion. It’s great because it is demonstrating the example of teamwork. That’s the good stress. Overtime though, it can pull the life out of the team. That’s the bad stress.

So am I alone in this? I pray that I am not. I have a feeling I’m not. But in the meantime, I will be looking to what God’s word has to say and will be sharing that with you all soon. Don’t be discouraged. Learn to understand that these issues are normal and work through them. We will all end up better people and better leaders not just for others, but more importantly ourselves.

Pursuing Christ. Creating Art.

PURSUING CHRIST.CREATING ART. from Floodgate Productions on Vimeo.

One of the partners at Floodgate Productions (Gary Molander) has written a book for artists who are also pursuing a life of faith in Christ. Head over to GaryMo.com for more information.Pursuing Christ. Creating Art. is a series of faith-based explorations into the overlap between life as a Christ-follower, and life as an artist. It's going to be an AMAZING read and I look forward to writing my contemplations about Gary's new book. About our Creator, faith, creativity, art, life, and everything in between.

So go and pre-order Gary's book, Pursuing Christ. Creating Art. It's going to be great and I'm confident that God has placed this on Gary's heart for His purpose....for such a time as this.

Culture, Carpenters, and Jesus.

I’ve been recently thinking about how we define our church culture. Only recently has this even been something of importance to me. I have always just been taught that the words “church” and “culture” don’t ever go together. Because we are to be “in” the world, not “of” the world. But lately, I can’t seem to get those two words separated. And I understand about that whole “in” and “of” the world thing. This is totally a different, deeper thing though. Here’s a quote I read sometime ago that has recapitulated itself in my head.

(Yes. I just used a musical term for repeating a phrase in a Sonata-form piece):

Culture is: “…the sum total of the ways we express ourselves and relate to each other in the institutions we build to express ourselves and relate to each other”. -Ron Martoia

The church is supposed to be salt and light in the community, right? We shouldn’t band ourselves in our buildings. Packing ourselves in our huge and mighty fortresses and castles, warding off “evil” is not our purpose. Shouldn’t we instead use our minds to embrace the grace and truth that is the Gospel message and have dialogue and build intentional relationships with those searching for it?

I believe we must engage the battle as soldiers, not willing to retreat, with the full armor of God.
The bible says this in Eph. 6:10-13:

“A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm.”

It clearly says “…for we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world…” I think many times the church misunderstands that to be that we are fighting against “flesh and blood”. Against each other. Against those who aren’t Christ followers. The church cannot impact culture by condemning it…we must show love and compassion, as Jesus did, only then will they see God’s grace and mercy.

(But when the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with such scum? When Jesus heard this, he said, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do.” Then he added, “Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy,
not offer sacrifices.’ For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.” -Matt. 9:11-12)

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Do you ever wonder the reason Joseph was a carpenter? I mean why was Jesus’ earthly father a carpenter? Why not a fisherman? or a herdsman? a merchant? or even a doctor? Is there something there for us to see?

I thought about this and came to this (sort of) conclusion….

My grandfather is a carpenter. He makes tables, chairs, desks, boats, and even birdhouses. He can make what other specify they want, and also takes those chairs and tables and molds the idea into something original. But he also creates beautiful original things. He is extremely talented and has always enjoyed what he does. He’s a craftsman. An artisan.

Maybe God wanted us to look at our lives through the eyes of an carpenter…an artisan for a reason. Maybe with our lives we are artisans, but instead of showing off what ‘we’ create….we are displaying the creativity of God. Each of us are different and unique and through those differences in each of us God is glorified! I think the point is for us not to retreat or withdraw from culture…but to shape it through the story of Jesus.

What are your thoughts? Am I completely thinking too much or is this something you all have ever thought about as well?

CSS.

I’ve wanted to get into learning how to build a website lately. The only problem for me is that I have no idea what I’m doing. Where do I start? I’ve always thought that CSS would be a great place to begin…or maybe HTML?…or JavaScript? But what do I know? I just see and hear these terms everywhere. Anyone out there have any idea or any free resources on where I need to start? I’ve checked out 8bit’s ChurchCode site…but its a bit overwhelming considering I don’t know where to begin.

Building websites are another world for me. But it has got me thinking that they are a very important part of our everyday lives. Globally, the internet is our connecting point with so many different people of so many different cultures and ways of living. Now for me the question is…Does my personal, church, business, or non-profit’s website need to be updated?
Should it be? Why are we going to invest time and money into our site?
Some questions to be thinking and praying about. A couple words that come to mind….Global Outreach. We have such an opportunity to reach people we couldn’t 20 years ago.

For our churches, we should define what is important at every level of our ministries and I believe that includes our websites.
So, just some thoughts to go with my thoughts.

Oh, I think I just like the way CSS looks and sounds.