Win With God in 2016

The following is a sermon I delivered on Sunday, December 27 at Graymere Church of Christ. Feel free to use this in its entirety - and you can also download the Powerpoint or Keynote.

[1 John 5.4]

We love winners, don't we?

There may be no greater mystery in professional sports than the Buffalo Bills in the early 1990s. You'll recall that the Bills were able to advance to the Super Bowl in each of the seasons from 1990-94. Notice that I didn't say that they won the Super Bowl. 

In the recent documentary by ESPN entitled The Four Falls of Buffalo, it was remarked that "there is no greater joy in sports than winning the Super Bowl, and no greater pain in losing one." The Bills were a team that just couldn't finish, and in dramatic fashion. While hindsight is 20/20 and looking back it was certainly a great accomplishment to even play in four consecutive Super Bowls (4 of the 32 teams in the NFL have never even had the honor),the inability to just finish the season the way you started has haunted this proud football franchise for decades

Because it's not how you start, it's how you finish

What matters is what happens in the end. 

We're finishing up an entire season that most of the world dedicates to the birth of Jesus Christ. And while that is a significant event, it is no nearly as significant as how Jesus died and was resurrected. 

Jesus had what was the greatest comeback in history. To be put to death on a cruel cross and be raised by God from the dead three days later was the most focal point of global history. It not only showed him to be the one true Son of God, but it showed everyone he was who he said he was. 

It's not how you start, it's how you finish. 

Maybe you're finishing this year on a bad note. Maybe you're a little down. Maybe you're battling health problems. Maybe you're in a bit of financial bind. Maybe you're a little lost spiritually. Maybe you haven't been the Christian you wanted to be this year - maybe you didn't attend worship as faithfully as you wanted, you didn't get involved as much as you wanted, or you didn't study as much as you wanted to. 

A new year is a perfect opportunity for a fresh start. It's an opportunity to turn over a new leaf. Nothing really changes except the calendar, but mentally, there's something new and awesome about having a new year to get some things done. To resolve ourselves to change and make things better. 

The Buffalo Bills had not one, not two, not three, but four opportunities to finish strong. They didn't capitalize. But you can. 

Tonight I'm going to give you three reasons why you can win in 2016. 

 

We can win in 2016 with God because...

I. We Have the Power to Change

There seems to always be a guarantee in life that change will happen. Change is something we tend to fear and become anxious about because we do not feel in control of life. The good news is that God has a plan for your life to hope, future, and to prosper. If we trust in God and allow the change to grow us to become more like Jesus Christ in how we respond and act, then we are promised that all things will work together for good for those who love Him and keep His commandments!

As I look back on 2015, lots has changed for my family and I that I never saw coming. This time last year I was looking at planning the Church Street Youth Group for 2015, and I was really excited. I had become a little jaded in youth work and a little burnt out. But through some time off, some study, and talking with some mentors, I was back at work and fired up about 2015. I was working harder than ever and I really thought that was where I was going to be for a number of years to come. 

And then Graymere came knocking. And it was an opportunity that my family and I could not pass up. 

It has been a different kind of challenge working here - one that I didn't expect. But my family and I dealt with the changes that came to us and we responded in a great way. 

Change is inevitable. Sometimes people say "I don't like change" and to me, that's just an excuse not to push yourself, to not test yourself and realize the true servant that God would have you to be. 

But the greatest thing about change is that the power lies within us to make change in our own lives. We can also choose how we respond to changes around us. God has given us an uncanny ability to evaluate what needs to change in our lives and make it happen. 

A New Year is a great time to rededicate your life to serving God. We can have the assurance that God will be faithful to us in times of change, whether that's in our own lives or the lives of those around us. 

The well-known passage in Deuteronomy illustrates this perfectly for us:

31.6 - Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified of them, because the Lord your God goes with you, and he will never forsake you.

Just as we might take a walk with our spouse down a path, I like to imagine that God is with me, right beside me, where ever I go and whatever I do. And it's important to note that God will not change. Ever. We are the ones who must do that. 

The world and the devil have a great way of trying to convince us that God will conform to whatever box we try to fit him in. And that's just not how it is. 

[Malachi 3.6] 

I, the Lord, do not change.

I'm reminded of the well-known story of the battleship that was out at sea. The captain, who was worried about the deteriorating weather conditions, stayed on the bridge to keep an eye on all activities.

One night, the lookout on the bridge suddenly shouted, “Captain! A light, bearing on the starboard bow.”

“Is it stationary or moving astern?” the captain asked.

The lookout replied that it was stationary. This meant the battleship was on a dangerous collision course with the other ship. 

The captain immediately ordered his signalman to signal to the ship: “We are on a collision course. I advise you to change course 20 degrees east.”

Back came a response from the other ship: “You change course 20 degrees west.”

Agitated by the arrogance of the response, the captain asked his signalman to shoot out another message: “I am a captain, you change course 20 degrees east.”

Back came the second response: “I am a second class seaman, you had still better change course 20 degrees west.”

The captain was furious this time. He shouted to the signalman to send back a final message: “I am a battleship! Change course 20 degrees east right now!"

Back came the flashing response: “You change course 20 degrees west. I am a lighthouse.”

The Lord is our lighthouse, and no matter how much fussing or complaining or sin or the devil tricking us into God somehow changing, he won't. It is we who must do the changing. 

 

We can win in 2016 because...

II. Jesus Has Already Overcome the World

Jesus says himself in John 16.33 to "be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world."

That's great news. Because we can reason from that one statement that Jesus made that if he has already overcome the world, then there is nothing in this world that should overcome us!

In fact, Jesus says in this same verse that we will have tribulation. We will be tested. We will be tempted - by the world. He says these things so that we can have peace. He has already overcome the world. 

[1 John 5.4-5]

For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world - our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

This passage is all about victory. We sing the song so many times: Victory in Jesus. My savior forever, he sought me, he bought me with his redeeming blood. That's our victory. But what does victory have to do with a maturing love for God?

We as Christians live in a real world with real obstacles. Real temptations. Real pain. Sometimes you may read scripture or come to worship or Bible class and feel like it's not the real world. That the Bible isn't speaking to you - it's speaking to all those people without sin, distress, or pain. 

It isn't easy to obey God. It's much easier to drift in the world, make our own decisions, follow our own plan, and "do our own thing." 

But the Christian is "born of God." We may look at that phrase in scripture and gloss over it, but this is what gives us ultimate victory. This is what can help us win. "Whatever is born of God overcomes the world." 

The Greek word for victory is actually Nike (NÉE-Kay). Not the shoe brand. The word simply means victory, and those two words: overcome and victory are favorites of John, both in his Gospel and his letters. 

Our victory is the result of faith, and we grow in faith as we grow in love. 

There's an old legend of a soldier who was serving in the army of Alexander the Great. The soldier wasn't acting bravely, he wasn't fighting and pressing as he should have. 

The great general approached the young man and said, "What's your name, soldier?"

"My name is Alexander, sir," the man replied. 

The general looked at him straight in the eye and said firmly: "Soldier, get in there and fight - or change your name!"

What is our name? We are called "Children of God, the born-again ones of God." Alexander the Great wanted his name to be a symbol of courage - our name carries with is the assurance of victory. To be born of God means to share in God's victory. And when we're victorious, we have overcome the world. 

 

We can win in 2016 because...

III. You're Backing the Winning Side Already

We need to understand that God is on our side, and it's the winning side!

When you feel overwhelmed, it's important to go to God in prayer and confess your inability and inadequacy. You need to be honest if you're afraid and tell God exactly how you feel.

In 2 Chronicles 20:12, Jehoshaphat says to God in prayer, “We are helpless in the face of this large army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but we look to you for help" (GNT). 

Have you ever felt that way? Have you ever felt like there was a problem in your marriage, your career, or somewhere in your life that you thought was overwhelming? You start at the beginning of the week thinking maybe you can handle it, but by Wednesday you're out of power.

Maybe you've felt like the author of this poem:

"The world had a hopeful beginning
But man spoiled it all by sinning
We trust that the story
Will end in God's glory
But right now the other side's winning."

Have you ever felt like that? You pick up the newspaper, and it looks like the bad guys are winning. There are kids killing other kids in our schools! The moral and spiritual climate of our society is collapsing. It looks like the bad guys are winning in many ways.

So what do you do? You say, “God, we're powerless, and we don't know what to do.” You tell God exactly how you feel. 

It's interesting when you compare verse 12, where it says we're powerless, to verse 6, where Jehoshaphat says, "God, you have all the power in the world." It doesn't matter if you're powerless if God has power. If you put your trust in him, he'll take care of you.

I don't have to have power. You don't, either. And you don't have to pretend that you do. All you have to do is trust in God, who's got all the power that you need.

It's difficult to express our inadequacy, even to God. But when we turn over control to Him, we can trust that he will bring us the ultimate victory. 

 

Conclusion

The Buffalo Bills couldn’t win the one game at the end of the season that mattered the most. If we trust in God and fight those battles for him - it may even look hopeless and look like we’re going to lose, but we will have victory in the end. 

So this evening, how does your story end? What’s happened in the past doesn’t matter - only moving forward is what God cares about. We can win with God because we have that power to change. We can win with God because Jesus has already overcome the world. And we can win with God because we’ve backed the winning side already. 

The Sermon Podcasting Toolbox

Since this week marks 10 years of podcasting on the iTunes Store, I thought it was great to share this from ChurchMag:

According to Edison Research, 15% of Americans (39 million people) listen to podcasts at least monthly, with 13 million people tuning in to podcasts on any given day.

Chances are good that your church members are subscribing to, downloading, and listening to podcasts throughout the week. Are they listening to your message?

Some great tips for ministry podcasting, including hardware, software, where to host, and how to distribute. If your congregation isn't podcasting, they should be. Take a look at the full article over at ChurchMag.

5 Things You Need to Know About Bible Translations

Excellent point about Bible translations that I'd never thought about from Wes McAdams:

Because our English language is constantly changing, we will ALWAYS need new translations that help the text to maintain the correct meaning in the current vernacular. One hundred years from now, if the Lord hasn’t come back, we will need new translations because the English language will have changed.

Read the entire post over at Radically Christian.

Markdown Cheat Sheet

If you've listened to Ministry Bits for any amount of time and you have read anything about how I like to handle text, you'll know that I love to write in Markdown. And Beegit has an excellent little cheat sheet I saw today for help in writing simpler and better.

Markdown is a simple way of styling plain text. So instead of having a .txt file, you will have a .md file that can be styled yet still be opened with any app, virtually forever. The short story is that I write in plain text/markdown because I can open the same files ten years from now. All the things I've written in MS Word in high school are completely inaccessible now, and I don't like that.

Markdwon is easy. For example, putting a single hashtag (#) before a heading makes it an H1 heading, the biggest heading. Putting two hashtags makes it an H2, a slightly smaller heading that can be used as a subheading. One asterisk indicates italics while two asterisks tells you it's bold.

Go ahead and check out Beegit's Markdown Cheat Sheet and fire up your favorite text editor (I love Brackets for Mac) and get started with Markdown today. Write simpler, write better.

As A Minister: Why You Should Care About What Apple Said This Week

Monday in San Francisco, Apple kicked off WWDC, their Worldwide Developers Conference. As a minister, why should you care about such things? I'll give you few reasons why. 

The iPad is Changing. There may be some new products on the horizon, i.e. the rumored 12-inch iPad Pro, but even without that announcement yesterday (Apple has since stopped making major product announcements at WWDC and stuck to developer stuff), the iPad is changing. 

There was some stuff demoed that we will see with iOS 9 in the Fall that is amazing - it's what the iPad should have been all along. If you're a minister and you use the iPad on a daily basis, you're going to be impressed with what Apple is doing. 

Two of the biggest things on the iPad - working with text and multitasking - have been completely redone. Now you can have two apps running side-by-side in tandem and resize the windows. This isn't a revolutionary thing - Samsung has been doing it with tablets and even phones for a while now - but it's wonderful to have on the iPad. Now you can have two Bible apps open at the same time, or an internet site open in Safari on the left and a writing app on the right. Pretty sweet stuff. 

The other is text selection. We preachers live in text. At least I do. And Apple has designed an intuitive form of text selection that nearly looks like a trackpad. You can depress two fingers on the keyboard and zip around to highlight text and move your cursor. Very cool. Much faster than dragging your finger in just the right spot and getting frustrated when it goes below the line you wanted it to. 

The Mac isn't changing. I say that because Yosemite was a complete redesign of OSX, and yes, it has more bugs than an abandoned hotel. But this release, named OSX El Capitan (named for a rock face in Yosemite National Park...Leopard > Snow Leopard, Lion > Mountain Lion, Yosemite > El Capitan). El Capitan is focusing on performance and stablity, so in effect, Apple is slowing down the on new features in order to make the current ones work much better. 

Search on iOS is getting better. Universal search on iOS is going to be much better thanks to deeper integration. What does this mean? It means you can find more stuff that you need quicker. Siri will be lots more useful, a la Google Now on Android devices. Siri is more intelligent too - you can say "Show me photos from Florida last October" and it can fetch those photos, provided you have them synced in the new Photos app. 

The new Notes app. 

The new Notes app. 

Notes I can now finally recommend. The built-in Notes is an app that lots of ministers I know use a lot just to jot down things they come across. Notes wasn't very functional or useful in my opinio. You couldn't style text or insert pictures. Now you can. Not only that, the app has been redesigned for all platforms - iPhone, iPad, and the Mac. And it syncs via iCloud so you don't have to worry about it. I still think there are better note-taking apps for your phone and tablet - Drafts, Editorial, and Simplenote to name a few - but Apple is really making strides with the app that 75% of their users use because it's just there

This was only a few things that Apple announced of many, but these things will continue to improve my experience on iOS and the Mac and I know as ministers it will benefit you as well. 

May The 4th Be With You: Don't be a LUKEwarm Christian

What does it mean to be a LUKEwarm Christian? (See what I did there?)

According to Francis Chan, there are 18 ways that you can tell a lukewarm Christian. Wow.

1. Lukewarm people attend church fairly regularly. It is what is expected of them, what they believe “good Christians” do, so they go. Isaiah 29:13

2. Lukewarm people give money to charity and to the church as long as it doesn’t impinge on their standard of living. If they have a little extra and it is easy and safe to give, they do so, After all, God loves a cheerful giver, right? 1 Chronicles 21:24, Luke 21:1-4

3. Lukewarm people tend to choose what is popular over what is right when they are in conflict. They desire to fit in both at church and outside of church; they care more about what people think of their actions (like church attendance and giving) than what God thinks of their hearts and lives. Luke 6:26, Revelation 3:1, Matthew 23:5-7 4.

4: Lukewarm people don’t really want to be saved from their sin; they want only to be saved from the penalty of their sin. They don’t genuinely hate sin and aren’t truly sorry for it; they’re merely sorry because God is going to punish them. Lukewarm people don’t really believe that this new life Jesus offers is better than the old sinful one. John 10:10, Romans 6:1-2.

5. Lukewarm people are moved by stories of people who do radical things for Christ, yet they do not act. They assume such action is for “extreme” Christians, not average ones. Lukewarm people call “radical” what Jesus expected of all His followers. James 1:22, James 4:17, Matthew 21:28-31

6. Lukewarm people rarely share their faith with their neighbors, coworkers, or friends. They do not want to be rejected, nor do they want to make people uncomfortable by talking about private issues like religion. Matthew 10:32-33

7. Lukewarm people gauge their morality or “goodness” by comparing themselves to the secular world. They feel satisfied that while they aren’t as hard-core for Jesus as so-and-so, they are nowhere as horrible as the guy down the street. Luke 18:11-12

8. Lukewarm people say they love Jesus, and He is, indeed, a part of their lives, their money, and their thoughts, but he isn’t allowed to control their lives. Luke 9:57-62

9. Lukewarm people love God, but they do not love Him all their heart, soul, and strength. They would be quick to assure you they try to love God that much, but that sort of total devotion isn’t really possible for the average person; its only for pastors and missionaries and radicals. Matthew 22:37-38

10. Lukewarm people love others but do not seek to love others as much as they love themselves. Their love for others is typically focused on those who love them in return, like family, friends, and other people they know and connect with. There is a little love left over for those who cannot love them back, much less for those who intentionally slight them, who kids are better athletes than theirs, or with whom conversations are awkward or uncomfortable. Their love is highly conditional and very selective, and generally comes with strings attached. Matthew 5:43-47, Luke 14:12-14

11. Lukewarm people will serve God and others, but there are limits to how far they will go or how much time, money, and energy they are willing to give. Luke 18:21-25

12. Lukewarm people think about life on earth much more often than eternity in heaven. Daily life is mostly focused on today’s to-do list, this week’s schedule, and next month’s vacation. Rarely, if ever do they intently consider the life to come. Philippians 3:18-20

13. Lukewarm people are thankful for their luxuries and comforts, and rarely consider trying to give as much as possible to the poor. Matthew 25:34, 40, Isaiah 58:6-7

14. Lukewarm people do whatever is necessary to keep themselves from feeling too guilty. They want to do the bare minimum, to be “good enough” without requiring too much of them. 1 Chronicles 29:14, Matthew 13:44-46

15. Lukewarm people are continually concerned with playing it safe; they are slaves to the god of control. This focus on safe living keeps them sacrificing and risking for God. Matthew 10:28

16. Lukewarm people feel secure because they attend church, made a profession of faith at age twelve, were baptized, come from a Christian family, vote Republican, or live in America.

17. Luke warm people do not live by faith; their lives are structured so they never have to. They don’t have to trust God if something unexpected happens-they have their savings account. They don’t need God to help them—they have their retirement plan in place. They don’t genuinely seek out what life God would have them live—they have life figured and mapped out. They don’t depend on God on a daily basis-their refrigerators are full and, for the most part, they are in good health. The truth is, their lives wouldn’t look much different if they suddenly stopped believing in God. Luke 12:16-21

18. Lukewarm people probably drink and swear less than average, but besides that, they really aren’t very different from your typical unbeliever. They equate their partially sanitized lives with holiness, but they couldn’t be more wrong. Matthew 23:25-28, Luke 14:34-35

Review: The New Macbook, and Why It Might Be The Perfect Tool for Ministers (In Two Years)

I've recently had a chance to spend some time with one of Apple's new Macbooks. That's right, just Macbook. No Macbook Air, no Macbook Pro. Just Macbook

It's clear that Apple is pushing the envelope and showing us the future when it comes to this new machine. After spending some time with it, I could say that it might be the perfect tool for any minister of any type. 

First off, the specs. The new Macbook sports a 12-inch display that has 2304 x 1440 resolution at 226 pixels per inch. Basically that means it's Retina quality, meaning that from a standard viewing distance, you won't be able to distinguish any individual pixels. The screen, as you would expect on any Apple product, is fantastic. Colors are bright and there is no ghosting or glitching that you might see with cheaper panels. 

The machine does not have any type of optical (CD/DVD) drive. This is nothing new, since Apple stopped putting optical drives on their machines over 5 years ago. 

What is new is the ports, or lack thereof. There are only two ports - a reversible USB-C (think Lightning connector, but slightly bigger) and a headphone jack. That's it. More on that in a minute. 

There are only two configurations offered, both of which have only 8GB of RAM included. There is a 1.1 GHz option, and a slightly faster 1.2 GHz model. I was only able to test the 1.1 GHz model, and I did not notice any lagging or sputtering, especially when scrolling fast on a big website with lots of images. It was actually pretty impressive. In the new Photos app, scrolling fast was smooth as silk. I couldn't get the machine to actually stutter at all until I had 8 tabs open in Safari, all playing HD Youtube videos. At only 1.1 GHz (I currently use a 2.4 GHz Macbook Pro) I fully expected it to stutter and slow down, but it was pretty resilient in all of my tests. And coming from a machine on which I've had 8GB of RAM for the last two years and work heavily in Photoshop, Illustrator, and Final Cut, the 8GB is very acceptable, especially if you're not doing those intensive processes. 

The 1.2 GHz model that's $500 more doesn't just give you an extra bump in power, but it gives you twice the storage with a 512GB SSD. Apple claims that the new SSDs have twice the speed, and I wouldn't doubt it. Given my tests with BlackMagic Disk Speed Test, I'd say they were correct. Which brings me to an interesting point: we may look at the processor speed and say, "Wow, that is low. Not enough power for me." But unless you're working in Photoshop or Final Cut, this machine will be fine for your tasks: note taking, web browsing, watching videos, light photo editing, and even light video editing. 

 

The Cons

 

As stated before, Apple is really throwing the future in our faces with this new Macbook. Their relentless pursuit of thinness and simplicity is almost detrimental to the overall success of this new laptop. 

USB-C is the only port offered. For ministers who want to travel and present with this machine, that creates a problem. Mac users are accustomed to traveling with adapters for VGA for connecting to projectors, but this lone port brings about a whole new set of problems. 

First, the one port is where you power the machine as well. Granted, Apple claims 10 hours of battery life and, according to reports, it gets that and more, but the *last* thing you need is your computer dying in the middle of a presentation. 

Second, the cost for adapters is high. I expect there will be plenty third-party adapters in the near future, but right now, Apple themselves can't even guarantee you one of theirs until June. 

The keyboard is the next problem, but it may not be an actual problem. I would describe the keyboard as frustrating and extraordinary at the same time. It will take some getting used to, for sure. Because of the thinness of the machine, Apple had to basically invent a new way for keys to be depressed. It's innovative, and it offers up a full-size keyboard, but the key travel is so short that it feels more like typing on the glass of an iPad screen rather than a Macbook. I think that after a couple of days of typing on it that I would get used to it, and even like it. But for those of us ministers who do a lot of typing, it may be problematic and frustrating. 


The Pros

 

Portability. This is the thinnest, lightest Macbook ever made, and probably the thinnest and lightest in the world. That means you can take it anywhere. If you've always struggled with an iPad trying to get what you need done, to type fast on it, or have great portability like an iPad, the Macbook is for you. It's basically an iPad with a keyboard attached to it, but it runs OSX. 

Design. Apple shines again with this design, pushing the limits of what is possible in portable computing. The new Macbook is also available in iPhone colors: gold, silver, and space gray. I personally find the space gray extremely attractive.

Force-Touch Trackpad. Also available on the new 13-inch Macbook Pro, the Force Touch Trackpad features Apple's patented Taptic Engine and makes you feel as though you're physically clicking, but you're not. Your mind will play tricks on you when you use this. It's a great feature and it's going to be wonderful to see what they can do with this in the future. 


So all in all, would I recommend this new Macbook if you're in the market for a new Mac right now? Sadly, no.

 

The one thing that holds this machine up for ministers is USB-C, and the lack of current support for the platform. Ministers will need to plug a variety of things into their laptops, and until the support for USB-C becomes more widespread, I can't recommend this machine at this time. If Apple had shipped this Macbook with just one other regular USB 3.0 port, that would have changed my mind. For me, and looking at what most ministers are going to use this machine for, that's a dealbreaker. You can get around the lack of processor speed with a speedy SSD and 8GB of RAM, but you can't overcome the frustrations of having to daisy-chain multiple adapters together just to connect to a projector, connect to power, and have a USB thumb drive running at the same time. 

In 2 years, however, as USB-C becomes a standard, I see this being the ultimate minister's computer. 

What do you think? Do you agree with my review? Sound off in the comments.

The Absolute Truth

Experiencing-the-Way-the-Truth-and-the-Life.jpg

I sat in astonishment, with my mouth hanging open. I had just played the above 2-minute excerpt from a podcast I listen to from above (take a listen if you haven't), and then asked the question, "Is there an absolute truth?"

To which I got mostly questioned looks, but a few fairly confident "nos." 

"Really?" I said, in disbelief. "That's what you all really believe?"

I asked questions about a true right and true wrong. Why does the world's postmodern mindset say that "Everyone's religion is ok - and we're all ok," but yet something like stealing and lying is wrong? If we apply the same logic to religion, would that not infer that there is a true right and wrong religion

And if everyone's different religion is right, then why even believe in religions? What's the point?

Maybe I'm crazy. Maybe I'm not. But it seems to me that the general mindset of everyone in the world is that "You're ok, I'm ok, we're all ok and we're all going to heaven." 

That's just not the truth. 

I even had a very smart and intelligent 16 year old argue with me that it's not wrong from someone to believe in Buddhism, because that's what they grew up believing.

The single truth about all this is that our teens don't know what the absolute truth is. They know the difference in right and wrong, but the truth? They're foggy on that. And that astounds me. It was a great class that we had this week and I think a lot of the teens learned a lot, but we need to be preaching and teaching the one absolute truth: That Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of God and that he died for our sins. All other religions, all other ways that promise eternal life in heaven or some form of it are wrong

That will get you into hot water in the world if you say that. You'll be branded as an intolerant bigot. But it still does not answer the question:

If everyone is right, then who is wrong? 

Daily Devotionals with Remind + Day One [VIDEO]

Apps these days, man. It's amazing what they can do. Now you can do a daily devotional that people can subscribe to with nothing more than your iPhone. 

We started a Daily Devotional called 15for15 - we take the first 15 minutes of every day of 2015 and spend it with the Word. I wanted to think of a super-simple way to get kids in the Word every single day. Something where they could just pick up their phone and a message was waiting right there for them. 

That's when I started to use Remind for this. Remind was originally a service designed for teachers to communicate with classes but has evolved into so much more. And the best part is that anyone with a phone that sends and receives text messages can subscribe - they don't have to have a smartphone with Remind installed. Day One is a simple journaling app for OSX/iOS that lets you publish entries as nicely-formatted web pages. 

I've made a screencast below that I think you'll enjoy. If you would like to start a daily devotional for your ministry or congregation and you have an iOS device, this would be the way to do it. 

Note: the Publish feature is currently only available on iOS from Day One. No idea why you can't do it yet from the desktop version, but you can't. You can, however, compose your devos in the desktop app and then pull them up on your phone and publish them there. 

Ten Years with the Mac: My Most Valuable Tool in Ministry

My first Mac - a Mac mini desktop. 2005.

My first Mac - a Mac mini desktop. 2005.

People are always asking me: "why should I use a Mac?" I get calls from youth ministers, ministers, and church workers of all types about why they should go to a Mac. There's no really simple answer to this question.

10 years ago, I decided that I wanted to purchase a Mac. My first Mac computer of my own was a Mac Mini with a half a gig of RAM, which, in hindsight, wouldn't run anything today. I was able to get it used for about $450, got my own keyboard, mouse, and monitor and set out into the great undiscovered country. And I've never looked back.

There's no simple answer to why you should move to a Mac because there are many answers.

Apple's design is unmatched. Even hardcore Windows users will agree with that. The current aluminum designs have evolved over the last ten years to produce sleek and powerful computers. Yes, Apple may be obsessed with thinness, but can't argue that they have the best designed hardware in the biz.

It doesn't run Windows. When I left Windows a decade ago, XP was going on six years old. Microsoft was clearly riding the coattails and not innovating. I know some Windows users will scoff at my supposed shot over the bow, but the Microsoft ecosystem was seriously lacking in 2005. Office was confusing, XP was old. One of the biggest advantages for the Mac was that it didn't run Windows. When you control the hardware and the software on your machines, there's a lot you can do to maximize the experience. At this point 10 years ago, Apple was iterating and innovating on OSX, and I came in at OSX 10.3 Panther. That was seven versions ago. Safari was brand new. Wow.

In my humble opinion, OSX is far superior to Windows, even the new(ish) Windows 8. Although, I must admit that Windows is coming up again, not in market share, but in public opinion. Why is OSX superior in my mind? The sleekness. The speed. The stability. The only time OSX has crashed on me was when I did something I wasn't supposed to do on the machine.

The premium price tag is an illusion. You buy $9 shoes at Target and your feet are going to hurt. You get what you pay for. Same for computers. You may buy one Apple laptop for $1200, but how long will you keep that machine in the same time frame that you would have have two Windows machines? Or three?

Macs aren't as likely to get viruses. This isn't a myth, and this isn't something touted by Apple either. At the time of this writing, Windows holds a firm 85% market share in personal computers. That means that only 13-15% of the rest of the computers on the planet are Macs. So if you were writing a virus, which platform would you write for? The one who's odds are 8 out of 10 or 2 out of 10? Simple math will tell you that's why more viruses are on Windows.

High-quality software and apps. I haven't been on the Windows side of computing since I graduated from college, so I can't speak to the quality of Windows apps. But I can for Mac and iOS apps. The Mac App Store may not get the press that the iOS App Store does, but it has had as a huge an impact on how I work just as iOS has. Apps like TextExpander and 1Password, apps that I couldn't imagine working without, aren't available on Windows. Plus, where else are you going to find a Word Processor (Pages), a phenomenal PowerPoint replacement (Keynote), and a powerful spreadsheet app (Numbers) - all for FREE? These apps, along with GarageBand (audio editing) and iMovie (video editing that borders on professional-grade) are also made available for free.

Those are my answers for why I use a Mac. I'm not an Apple elitist, I just want to use the best tools for the job that I'm doing - and ministry is the most important job there is. Other than the Word of God itself and the people in the church, my Mac is the most important tool I use in my ministry to communicate, design, and move.