Archive for the of the spiritual Category

After Success, Pray

Posted in life of linne, of the spiritual on January 20, 2010 by Aaron

One of the things I continue to struggle with in my life is knowing just how to deal with success.  Because we are taught to remain humble and because I know that all good things come from God, it sometimes feels almost like I’m doing something wrong when I acknowledge that, yes, I did something good.

A while back I was honored to be in a group who got to hear from the producer of the movie Fireproof and one of the authors of Love Dare, Alex Kendrick.  As he discussed how they went into development of the film, he said over and over again that everything they did was prayed about.  There was only one thing that he could attribute any success to, and life-change to – and that was prayer.

This week there’s going to be a few posts coming up on the blog about some successes I’ve had recently.  Some dreams that have come true, goals of mine that I believe were God-given that have seen fruit.  I think it’s important that we share in one another’s joy.  I think it’s important that we pause and enjoy the gifts of success that God has allowed us to partake in.

I think we need to embrace success more often.

But, in doing so, just as we need to pray from the onset of any endeavor, we need to pray during and after it as well.  Prayers of thanks and prayers of humility.  Prayers that any struggles or battles we fight along the way are there to make things better, to make us fight harder or, in more cases that we care to admit, to get our attention that we’re doing it wrong.

Even now, even as I’m writing this, I still feel like it’s taboo to say, “Hey! I’m excited about this thing I did! Look!”  Or even the thought that a part of me worries that this post is really communicating to you: “Guess what! I prayed! I really did!”  Its so hard to find that balance of self-awareness of your personal success vs being prideful.  I think that’s one of the reasons I’ve blogged so seldom lately.

But… the fact of the matter is that the Lord has given me a season of success.  It could easily be gone tomorrow with one wrong word or one late project.  So I’m choosing to rejoice in the things that God has blessed my life with, labors that have seen success and – hopefully – will serve in their own way to spread the good news of hope and love.

And thanks to all you who help teach me, give me grace, and convince me to share my thoughts with the world.


Disciple Me

Posted in life of linne, of the spiritual on January 19, 2010 by Aaron

It’s a subject that my wife and I talk quite a bit about:

We need to be discipled.

Not merely an all-inclusive general “we,” not a community-based program in our church “we,” but a very granular, specific “we” as an she and I.  We have great days, experiences and conversations where we sharpen each other.  We have people of all ages who speak into our lives, that we grow in Christ with, that we can learn from.  But… there are so few people who we can point to and say: this person specifically took time to teach me, to disciple me, to pass on wisdom, love, rebukes and passion for the Word.

As my life fills up with more school work, with greater job responsibilities, with the lives of people that we’re trying to teach and disciple… I worry that I will somehow miss the chance to even allow someone to speak into my life.  I worry that some day I might think, “Yes! I know enough!  I have achieved what this world calls success!” and – at that moment – somehow deny or ignore someone whose journey was meant to connect with mine.

There are people I look up to, who I consider mentors-from-afar.  I have people who teach around me.  I have people I observe and learn from.  But I still feel a yearning for someone to develop that discipling relationship with me.  To hold me accountable to the plans God has for me and my family.  To teach me some of the so-many-things-I-don’t-know.

I don’t know if it’s just that the part of the people of God that I interact with have lost the art of discipleship, or if people for some reason think I don’t need it.  I don’t know why I’ve gone to great men of God and said “this is a need!” and then… nothing.  And I’m left still feeling that need, wanting desperately to fill a void that I know is in my life.

But, as desperate and hopeful as I am about finding someone, or someones, to take an interest and disciple this child, I do so little to pass my little wisdom on and let others know that I am praying for them.  And, though I’ve (in)directly asked people to disciple me before… it’s not like finding a mentor was actively on the top of my to-do list for 2009.  It was there… just not always at the very front of my mindset.


What do you do?  How do you find a mentor?  What do you look for in someone else to disciple?  What’s your discipleship story?

The Near Future of the Bible: Audio from BibleTech 2009 Now Available

Posted in bibletech, future of the Bible, future studies, futurist, next questions, of the spiritual on April 18, 2009 by Aaron

The good folks that run the BibleTech conference have made the MP3s of each of the sessions available for your listening pleasure!  If you care to hear my voice and ideas for 45 minutes or so, click on this link to get to my conference presentation.  Enjoy!

The Microsoft Question: Supporting a ‘Cesspool of Evil’?

Posted in culture, life of linne, of the spiritual with tags on July 28, 2008 by Aaron

A while back I added some contact information to my blog page so people could easily get ahold of me.  It’s my personal opinion that, with the kind of blog I write, to be as transparent as comfortably possible.  If people want to get ahold of me, I’d love for them to.  I’m open to conversation and I love meeting new people.  Through people coming to this blog and through me reading other blogs, I’ve already gotten to meet some pretty amazing people.  Tonight, I got my first random phone call.

I did not get a chance to ask if I could talk about him on the blog, so I’ll call him Bruce (not his real name).

Bruce called and quickly introduced himself to me over the phone before launching into his reason for calling: Bruce wanted to know how I, as a Christian, could support Microsoft.

Now, let me first put a bit of context around my response.  The most important disclaimer is that, during this conversation and, as such on this bog, I made it very clear that is a personal blog and I do not speak in any way, shape or form as a representative of any Southern Baptist entity on this blog.  While I have the freedom to occasionally talk about my work or make note of the digital products LifeWay has released, the context of this blog is as digital media practitioner, who happens to be a LifeWay enthusiast, a gaming enthusiast, a comic book enthusiast and, of course, a spiritual matters enthusiast.

Bruce’s concern is that he sees a Microsoft as, and I quote, a “cesspool of evil.”  According to Bruce, Microsoft is the number one proponent of abortion and “gays” in the world.  He later clarified that it was actually the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that was the number one proponent, but – according to Bruce – Microsoft and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation are the same thing.

Instead of supporting the evil that is Microsoft, Bruce – a Linux enthusiast – I, as a Christian, have a moral obligation to use an alternative operating system (specifically, Ubuntu Linux).

My Technical Response

Bruce was quite concerned that I own a Zune, that I attended a Vista launch party, and that I like the Xbox.  In his mind, there were alternative MP3 players, that Ubuntu is better than Vista in EVERY way (literally), and that gaming is, well, evil.

When it comes to computing I am, for the most part, platform-agnostic.  I choose the best technology for the job, the best software for the tool.  I like Final Cut for editing, but use Microsoft Expression Encoder for any encoding.  I like Motion for simple lower thirds, but love After Effects for the complex stuff.  I like Photoshop and Illustrator for image design, but Like Microsoft Expression Web for webpages.  I used OpenOffice in college, but like the advances Office 2007 has made.  I’ll only code in Microsoft’s programming tools because they are so darned perfect for beginners like me.

From a purely technical standpoint, if you a creating content to be utilized by the widest possible range of people, you MUST have a Windows box.  At the very least, to test on.  It’s a must.  To ignore at least doing some quality assurance on a Windows box is equivalent to not testing your content for 95% of your audience.  It’s content-suicide to ignore Windows users.

I thought it was interesting the Bruce suggested that I just run Windows as a virtual machine on a Linux box.  Doesn’t that defeat the point of “not supporting evil Microsoft” by… well… supporting them?

I appreciate the fanboy support for alternative systems.  Like I’ve previously said on the blog, I used to be quite the Apple fanboy.  But there comes a time when you’re in the actual business of producing content that you realize that every system has it’s strengths and weaknesses.  You may not see them in your daily work, but other people use systems differently.  Is Vista perfect?  No.  Is OSX?  No.  Is Linux?  Yes (according to Bruce).  Sorry, but that narrow-mindedness just doesn’t work in a true business situation.

Linux machines are great for hosting webpages.  Unix machines are great for databases.  Macs are great for creative productivity and home usage.  Windows machines are great for office productivity, gaming and home usage.  I appreciate your passion, Bruce… but as someone who currently has a Mac G5, two Vista machines and two PCs with linux distros installed on them (that haven’t needed to be turned on since we moved to the new house)… I know how to use the best tool for the job.

My Spiritual Response

So the question remains (even though the majority of our conversation was Bruce explaining to me how/why I should use Linux): what is the moral and spiritual ramifications of using Microsoft tools and – thus – supporting them and their supposed support of immoral activity.

Let me just be upfront and be transparent in my ignorance: I simply do not know how Microsoft invests its money nor how it is they may support immoral activity.  When pressed for examples, Bruce said he had articles about the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation supporting planned parenthood in Africa (a quick Google search pulls up this article on the topic).  Here’s my problem with Bruce’s line of thought on this particular issue: Microsoft is a separate entity to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

As I tried to seperate the two in the conversation, Bruce adamantly said that “we all know that Microsoft is Bill Gates and Bill Gates is Microsoft.”  I find this a troubling perspective on an organization, the undermines the lives (and opinions, families, morals and souls) of any organization’s employees.  I also think that the nearly 90,000 Microsoft employees would disagree with Bruce and suggest that Microsoft is made up of more than just a retired founder.

Irregardless, we’re still left with the lingering question: is it morally ok to purchase products or content produced by a company who we’ve been told support immoral activities (whatever you define as immoral)?

I’m not 100% sure what my opinion on this topic is.  In Acts, Paul uses a statue of an unknown god to tell the story of Christ.  He doesn’t chastise theme for creating the sculpture, but instead utilizes the ways of their culture to tell the story.  Are we not allowed to do the same with today’s story-telling mediums, of the digital kind?  Where this breaks down, of course, is that Paul did not pay the sculptor to chisel out the statue.

I don’t know that I have an answer for this particular question.  I think that it’s ok to have some tension in our spiritual decisions.  On the specific topic of Microsoft, I’m as of yet unaware of any intentional “immoral activity.”  Which leads to another spiritual question: if I’m ignorant of a corporation’s wrongdoings, does it absolve me from any personal wrongs in supporting their questionable activity?  And, of course, this leads into one more question: what makes a corporation’s activities “immoral?”  In my MBA courses we would talk extensively about social responsibility of corporations and there are some definitive wrongdoings (breaking the law, killing people, etc etc)… but a corporation’s culture can never match all of the opinions of all of its customers (and non-customers who want to critique said company).  This will continue to be a topic for me to think about and explore.


In our conversation, I told Bruce that he sounded more like he was angry with me than he was concernedabout me.  He agreed: he told me that he was angry at the sin and that we are supposed to hate evil.  That Microsoft was evil and that my support of them is evil.  At this, my heart broke.

I don’t really know what Bruce’s intentions were.  I found some of his comments on other blogs on the topics of politics, fundamentalism and, of course, linux.  Bruce does seem to be passionate and have strong opinions.  But so much of his language and posts (and our conversation) seemed fueled by anger, hatred and pride.  There is no question to me that he deems himself a better person, more “holy,” and wiser than me because he uses the Ubuntu and I use Vista.

Ultimately, in the end, I’m not sure Christ is going to judge me based on what operating system I used to mesh my physical and digital lives.  I’m not sure Christ is going to care whether I used Final Cut or Adobe Premiere to edit video to tell His story, the story of LifeWay, or the snippets of my life on YouTube.

What concerns me is how things like this must look to people outside the church.  If Christian fight over the morality of operating systems… where is the love there?  Where is the grace?  If a brother in Christ prayed before calling me and approached me in anger – and he admitted he did both – where does that bring in the holiness and morality Bruce was seeking in choosing the “right” operating system?

Bruce: I appreciate your sincerity in calling me and sharing your passions with me.  If you have found a company to be of immoral repute and feel the need to educate and question people’s support thereof, I encourage you to do so in a mature, loving manner.  But next time let us talk about the spiritual matters and cultural ramifications.  Here’s to hoping this post did not offend you, nor is of immoral substinance.  It was, after all, written using Internet Explorer running on WIndows Vista.

is it ok to want to excel at my career?

Posted in business, life of linne, of the spiritual on May 19, 2008 by Aaron

A while back, I wrote about my struggle with being a “career Christian.”  I am still struggling with what this means.

Last week, there came a day when I was tired and – to be honest – a bit frustrated.  My boss swung my office to just check in and see how my day was when I let my guard down and expressed my frustration.

My current position was created with some very specific expectations upon it to be considered a success.  The expectations were settled upon with the idea that there would be two of me.  In my first full quarter, we hit 75% of the expectations for the year (and there’s only one of me).  In other words, I did pretty well and far exceeded expectations.

I’m not saying that to be bragadocious; just practical.  It is also important to note the the various people throughout the organization who touch the work also deserve tons of credit for being able to handle the flow of work that my products added to their load.

Unfortunately, we hit a snag or two this quarter on getting my content released.  So when my boss asked how I was doing I explained my two frustrations:

1) We have content that should be available, that’s not.  This means a loss in revenue and – if we truly believe that our products spead the Gospel – it means people aren’t hearing the Message as we planned (in digital format).

2) Last quarter I was a star for getting 75% of the expectations in one quarter.  This quarter I wanted to be a super-star.

Now then… we should be getting the flow of content going again this week.  This post isn’t about that.  This post is about how I felt after saying I wanted to be a super-star.

It hit me hard that what I was saying and wanting was, simply put, not humble.  It wasn’t me trying to help raise the calibur of my co-workers.  It wasn’t me being meek or quiet or going with the flow.  I wanted to be recognized for the work I’ve done and I wanted to be given the freedom to do even more, better work.

So I’m torn, trying to figure out the balance.  Is it ok for me to want to excel at my career, wanting to be the best, wanting to succeed head-and-shoulders above what was expected of me?  Is it ok to fight to go from doing 75% of my year’s expectations in one quarter to try and get 100 or even 150% of the expectations the next quarter?

Or, am I supposed to be humble and just accept the things get in the way and that things just are the way they are?  Am I supposed to be content with being a star when I feel like we could have done so much more this quarter?  Am I allowed to challenge myself to levels of success for my area that are far beyond what LifeWay envisioned, or should I be content in knowing that I could simply relax and do nothing until July and my work still be considered a success?

I don’t want to be content with great if I know that my work could be excellent.  I don’t want to be excellent if I know that my work can be stellar.  But how do I balance success beyond anyone’s expectations with humbleness?  Do I have to push down my own expectations of myself and my role so as to not be “too successful” or “too agressive” in making a great product?  Is there such thing as too good of work?

What’s Really Happening with Rob Bell

Posted in culture, life of linne, of the spiritual with tags , on May 8, 2008 by Aaron

Rob Bell seems to be a touchy subject for a lot of Christians.  So I’m not going to touch any of that… I just wanted to explore about with what’s actually happening with Rob Bell.

Last weekend, we got to have dinner with our good friend, Finn, and his family to celebrate his graduation from Belmont University.  We sat across from this grandparents, and we talked about ministry and churches all night long.  It was wonderful to have the ears and attention of solid, devout Christians who were older, more mature, and knew more than us.  One of the topics that we talked about was this:

Preaching is becoming an archaic, specialized form of communication.  We could only come up with two things in life that are similar in the approach and methods of most sermons: university lectures and formal presentations at work.  As such, it seldom matters how good a communicator is or what their topic is… most people nowadays simply don’t know how to process a sermon.  It’s either too much information or not presented correctly (for me, it’s too slow… I take in much more information in a much shorter time period every day at work).

Now then, if this is a problem for Christ-followers… what must it be like for a new Christian or someone who is just exploring faith and life?  To never have been exposed to a “worship service” before and to walk in and have to follow the lead of the crowd around them and listen in a way that they simply have never done before… is that a good perception ofwhat it means to be learning?  What, then is the point of preaching if not to teach… and if the point is to teach, then what are our churches learning?

So why is Rob Bell being so successful with preaching?  If you don’t think he is, that’s ok.  But there are few people who have as many DVDs of their teaching as Rob does, and less that have gone on tour with their sermons (and then sold them as successful DVDs).

Rob’s teachings are like songs.  They crescendo and repeat and become famliar.  He teaches in a way that introduces you to ideas and concepts like you already knew them.  He’s turning teaching into art.

I don’t want to talk about whether his content is good or not; this isn’t the place for that and – quite humbly – I’m not enough of a Biblical scholar to tell you a valid opinion to your arguments.  But what amazes me is how he turns delivering a message into an art.  Just check out one of his nooma videos; one glance will tell you that he’s got skilled people working to make a short film and they are passionate about doing so.

Rob isn’t alone.  He has a team that put together the message into an artform for those videos – I know, because their names are on the credits.  And in his sermons at his church, he often tag-teams with other speakers, to get the message just right.  Regulary, he turns into a character on the stage, turning to the theatrical.

I’m not sure what’s happening with sermons across the expanse of the church in the United States… but what’s happening with Rob is he’s turning it into an artform.  And I will listen and learn and recall a song long before I can recall a sermon…

Jon Foreman’s “Your Love is Strong”

Posted in life of linne, music, of the spiritual with tags , , on April 22, 2008 by Aaron

I love dramatic, emotionally moving music.  It gives me a taste of another artists dreams/struggles/desires and helps to rekindle thoughts of my own.  95% of the time, however, the really good stuff is about breaking up or things of that nature.

So upon listening to Jon Foreman (of Switchfoot)’s “Your Love is Strong” three times in a row today because it hits that emotional chord just right for how I feel spiritually, full of hope and yearning for God to simply be God… I figured I’d throw it out here, just in case you (yes, you!) hadn’t heard it yet.

You can listen to it here.

Lyrics are here.