Posted by: Douglas Mehling | January 20, 2008

Staying awake

I have mentioned a couple times on my blog my concern about people falling asleep during my sermons and seminars, but I feel like sharing a few more thoughts on this phenomenon.  First let me say to those of you reading this who might have fallen asleep during some of my presentations, I’m not complaining.  I understand how difficult it can be to stay awake these days, especially with the challenge of getting enough sleep.  And I realize that some sermons or presentations can’t keep from being dry at times.  I also imagine it can be frustrating for you when you want to concentrate on a speaker but feel an overwhelming sense of lethargy and start dozing off.  I just wonder what can be done to help this situation.  Have we always had this trouble as humans, or is this just a recent phenomenon of our complicated and fast-paced society?  And does  responsibility for staying awake lie with members of the congregation or with the preacher?  Should church members try harder to get more rest and find ways of staying awake at church or should preachers try to make their sermons more interesting?  These are some of the concerns I’m sure I will be facing more and more.

Posted by: Douglas Mehling | January 12, 2008

The problem of getting carried away

Now that I have started doing PowerPoint with my sermons, the preparation time has increased quite a bit.  This will take an investment of time to keep doing this, and I might have to give something up.  Like many PowerPoint users, when you’re creating a presentation you can easily end up getting carried away with all the fine adjustments, and getting interesting pictures, and making the text look just right.  For this particular sermon, I wanted to include some maps of Paul’s second missionary journey.  I already had a good map on my computer that I could easily include, but I wasn’t satisfied with it.  I wanted to present the missionary journey progressively, so I loaded the map into Microsoft paint and carefully erased the line showing Paul’s route.  Then I redrew the route, and created four different maps each showing the different stages of the trip.  Just by reading this you get the idea that it was rather complicated and took some time.  I could have simply used the original map, but being the kind of person I am, it had to look just the way I wanted.  This is just one example of the kind of things I end up making myself do for my presentations.  Hopefully as I get in the habit of doing this, I will figure out ways to increase my efficiency.  Anybody have suggestions on how to keep from getting too carried away?

Posted by: Douglas Mehling | January 10, 2008

Fact of the day

This morning I learned that Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin were born on the same day, February 12, 1809. What tremendously contrasting legacies they left. Lincoln promoted the dignity and equality of human life, while Darwin put forth the theory that proclaims the absurdity of human life.

Posted by: Douglas Mehling | December 10, 2007

Is the Internet a waste of time?

Just a few hours ago I ran across a very interesting blog entry describing a well-known author’s rantings against the evils of the Internet.  Always on the lookout for interesting ideas, I wanted to read further on this intriguing subject.  The author in question was Doris Lessing who has just been awarded the Nobel Prize for literature.  According to the opinion of the blog writer, her entire acceptance speech was concerned with how the Internet is dumbing down people.  Obviously since I was reading this opinion piece on a blog, the author took great issue at what Lessing was saying, and made her sound like a grumpy old woman who is out of touch with reality.  At first, I was in agreement with the blog writer who sees tremendous value and power in the Internet.
The real truth
Having said that, I convinced myself that I should examine what Lessing actually wrote before parroting the opinion of that blog writer.  And am I ever glad that I did read it, because I quickly realized how biased that blogger was in his assessment.  In this very long speech of about 10 pages, only one paragraph mentioned the word Internet.  In fact, the speech really had nothing to do with the Internet, but with the incredible value of books.  She makes that point wonderfully by focusing on the extreme disparities between those in third world countries who have a hunger to read and no access to books, and the incredible access we have in the industrialized world and yet so many could care less about books.  Consider this striking example.  There are people in villages who have gone days without eating, but their only thought is “how can I get a hold of something to read?”.  That is an incredible statement and represents the human desire for things of value and quality.
Lessing’s only real critique of the Internet is that it is a substitute for reading material that has great value and substance.  Some people end up spending their time studying things that never elevate their minds or motivate them to think more deeply about life.
Making it personal
I have to agree with much of what Lessing was saying, because much of what I find on blogs and other websites tend to have a lot less value and usefulness in many books and only deal with rather lightweight materials.  But don’t take that to mean that we should stop reading everything on the Internet including blogs (as in this blog).  There is still a tremendous amount of useful material on the Internet that is freely available to anyone with a connection.  As in any subject, we need a balanced approach, otherwise we could be missing a tremendous blessing.
Your opinion
So what do you think; is the Internet dumbing down those who read it?  Does the quick access to information make us impatient and undisciplined?  Also, how do we motivate people (especially young people) who are so hooked on reading trivial things on the Internet to spend some time browsing through a real book?

Posted by: Douglas Mehling | December 2, 2007

More thoughts on “Using profanity for a good cause?”

The last couple days have been very exciting with all of the interesting comments on my last post.  Thanks everyone for your contribution.  This is the kind of thing I was really hoping to start with my blog.  A community where people can express a diversity of perspectives in a very open and constructive manner.

Anyways, because of all the good comments on yesterday’s topic, I have decided to add just a few more of my thoughts on it.  Personally, as a preacher I would never consider uttering anything bordering on profanity.  I think that no matter how serious of an issue you are addressing, there’s always an effective way to get the matter across using very clean and wholesome speech.  I know that Jesus said many things that were very offensive to the corrupt and hypocritical leaders of his day, but I believe it was on a totally different level than what Dr. Campolo was actually doing.  I simply cannot picture Jesus using profanity, no matter what kind of situation.  Having said all of this, I must admit the obvious lack of any mention I have made just now to the real issue Dr. Campolo was speaking to.  Am I am betraying a lack of concern for those 30,000 kids by zeroing in on profanity?  Obviously, their deaths mean much more to God than whether some preacher said something less than appropriate.  I’m only trying to illustrate the larger issue that Jhan made mention of, which is the age old question of do the ends justify the means.  I believe the answer is no.  On the other hand, God has been able to take the less than commendable means that his people have used to still accomplish his purposes.  But if we get in the habit of constantly thinking that the ends justify the means, where do you draw the line ultimately?  If Campolo was justified in saying that one specific word, then one could reason that Campolo could just have easily displayed on a screen a morally objectionable image.  Then Campolo could have said, “you’re more concerned that I showed you this inappropriate image than the fact that 30,000 kids died last night.”  Maybe this is a crazy illustration, but seriously, what argument could be made to justify what Campolo actually said, and not justify what Campolo might have shown on a screen?

Again, what do you guys think?  I look forward to your diverse responses.

Posted by: Douglas Mehling | December 1, 2007

Using profanity for a good cause?

The other day in a discussion forum, someone shared this quote from a speech made by the well-known theologian and sociologist, Tony Campolo.  Campolo began his speech by saying “I have three things to share with you today.  First, I’d like to tell you that while you were sleeping last night 30,000 kids died because of starvation and diseases related to malnutrition.  Second, most of you don’t even give a ****.  What’s worse is that you’re more upset with the fact that I said **** than the fact that 30,000 kids died last night.”

Here is what I said in response to that quote:

I must say that while the Campolo quotation does make a profound point, I would disagree about the underlying message presented. It is not necessary or right for preachers and theologians to use principles or methods that are in opposition to the character of God such as profanity, even if it does convey a point in a remarkable way. I know that from this response I sound like I am of the same mentality as the audience that Campolo was addressing. Yet, I am deeply concerned about the plight of others, and this concern does not take a backseat to whether someone utters profanity. But that does not mean profanity is acceptable. I’m sure that God was pleased that Campolo was trying to get people concerned about the needless suffering and death of children, but I wouldn’t say that he was pleased that he made the point in the manner he did. And why should we not be upset when a theologian speaks like this in addition to being upset about the plight of 30,000 kids?  Let me make it clear, I am not getting hung up about profanity. I am concerned about anything that is in opposition to God’s character that we attempt to use to promote his kingdom. And I could point to a million other examples besides profanity.

So what do you think?  Am I totally off base here, or is there actually a problem with what Dr. Campolo said?

Posted by: Douglas Mehling | November 18, 2007

About me

I have finally updated my about me page.  Hopefully this week I can get a picture of myself posted along with my bio.  Let me know what you think of what I have written and if I need to improve the style or tone.

Posted by: Douglas Mehling | October 25, 2007

Let the experiment begin

Hello friends. Thanks for stopping by to check out my new blog. This is actually an experiment as it is my first blog. You know, like every new blogger, I have the goal of adding new and interesting content to this blog on an everyday basis. Yet we all know how easy it is for such a goal to fall by the wayside. So I intend to do my best attempt to follow through on that goal. But I need your help. Not only do I hope you stop by frequently, but I also really desire your input. Feel free to tell me what you think I should add and what things I should do different.

One last thing I want to mention is my intended purpose for this blog. First of all, as a minister of the gospel my goal is to reach people who do not know Christ and to provide inspiration and encouragement for those who are already know him. So this blog will have a strong spiritual component with inspirational thoughts. I also plan on posting podcasts of my sermons in the near future. Secondly, as one who faces a serious disability, this blog will be a journal of the interesting and unusual experiences that I continually seem to encounter. I hope it will provide encouragement for those who themselves face serious disabilities as well as provide insight and understanding for those who do not have major disabilities.

Anyways, thanks for stopping by and come back soon for future installments.

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