Gunnar James Berger arrived earlier this morning via C-Section at 1:16 am. He weighed in at 6 lbs 11 oz and is 21 inches long. He’s pretty tall and skinny (surprise, surprise) with long toes and fingers.

Gunnar James Berger

You can keep up with new photos that will be posted to Flickr. I also will be posting more occasionally on Twitter than I do here on the blog.

Even though his due date was May 17, the little guy still hasn’t arrived. We’re currently waiting in the hospital for the first drug (Cervidil) to take affect. It could be up to 12 hours. If by the morning active labor hasn’t started, then we can go home until Friday morning. Friday morning we’ll come back and they’ll give Jessica Pitocin. We’re told that will definitely do the trick.

If you want the latest baby news, follow me on twitter. The latest (Jessica approved) pictures will show up on Flickr.

Dr. Albert Mohler has an interesting article about the culture shift that technology has caused.

Welcome to the world of the Digital Nomads. They can live and work almost anywhere, but tend to be concentrated in larger numbers in locales where the so-called creative class is also concentrated — in large metropolitan areas and in university towns.

Later in the same article he addresses how this shift affects the church (emphasis mine).

The Digital Natives and Digital Nomads also represent a significant missiological and evangelistic challenge for the Christian church. These groups are not easily impressed, nor are they as likely to be reached by some of the more traditional evangelistic approaches used by many churches. Newspaper ads mean nothing to a generation that never touches newsprint.

I had a conversation with someone at my church awhile ago about our church doing either billboard or online advertising. They said our church wouldn’t go for it. I asked if that was because our church didn’t believe in advertising at all (there’s a topic for another blog post). They said no, that probably isn’t the case because our church has paid for an ad in the local newspaper for years. I replied that the newspaper ad then tells me the church isn’t interested in reaching out to my generation. I’ve been in the Lafayette area for over a decade now and never once seen the ad. Now I know my church and I know they deeply care about telling my generation about Jesus Christ. So we just need to align our actions with our intentions a little better.

And Kossuth Street Baptist Church is doing that. They are investing some pretty significant money (especially for a church of our size) into a new website to improve communication among various groups (those already members of KSBC, believers looking for a church, those skeptical or with questions about Jesus, and to also be a resource to other churches are the 4 main groups we’ve identified). I’m praying the new site will be available soon. The importance of it is echoed near the end of Dr. Mohler’s article (again the emphasis is mine).

One major study published in recent years indicated that one of the main factors tied to numerical growth in churches was the strength of a church’s Internet presence. “Snail mail” addresses may be less important at first than a Web address, and increasing numbers of those in the digital generations assume that if an organization has an insignificant Web presence, it must be an insignificant organization.

A few of you may have noticed that I signed up for Twitter a few days ago. The main reason I did that was to test out the service to see if it would be helpful for a friend of ours, Tonya Small, that is living in South Africa working at a school for kids who have been orphaned because their parents died of AIDS.

Tonya can send text messages on her mobile phone a lot easier than to get access to a computer. She has a laptop but only a dial up Internet connection. So twitter takes her text messages and updates all of her followers. Additionally, her tweets show up in Facebook and on her own website automatically.

So if you want the latest updates from Bethesda in South Africa start following Tonya on Twitter or just head on over to her blog.

My grandpa passed away this past Saturday. Monday was the viewing and yesterday was the funeral. It was pretty neat to see so many people come out for a 93 year old man who has long outlived most of his generation.

I remember working on the farm with Dad, Grandpa, and my brother. In particular, I remember one afternoon I was probably about 14 when Dad sent me out to bale straw with just Grandpa. It was my job to drive the tractor with Grandpa on the back to stack all the bales. I hope I’m doing that well when I’m 78 and also as well as Grandpa was at 93 up until the just the last week of his life.

I was asked to read several passages of scripture at the funeral. The last one was 1 Thessalonians 4:10b-14

But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more, and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.

But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.

Living quietly, minding your own affairs, and working hard are pretty much how I would describe Grandpa.

My cousin Alicia has a nice post over on her blog.

It also seems that the papers only keep obituataries online for 30 days, so I’ve copied it here.

March 23, 1914 – Feb. 2, 2008

Harold Berger

NAPPANEE – Harold E. Berger, 93, of 1700 Waterfall Drive, died at 9:35 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 2 in Elkhart General Hospital, where he had been a patient for one week, after a brief illness. He was born March 23, 1914, in Nappanee to Ervin and Ella Bellman Berger. He was a lifetime resident of Nappanee and graduated from Nappanee High School in 1932. On March 24, 1940, he married Sarah Ruth Chamberlin. She preceded him in death on August 27,1977. His second marriage was to Virginia Reed, she preceded him in death July 2, 2006. Mr. Berger was a retired farmer and a member of the Nappanee United Methodist Church. He is survived by three sons, David (Karen) Berger of Nappanee, Robert (Maria) Berger of South Bend and Donald (Rita) Berger of Wakarusa; eight grandchildren, Robert (Jennifer) Berger, James and Todd Berger, all of South bend, Erin (Todd) Stammich of Lakeville, Mikel (Jessica) Berger of Camden, David Berger of California, Alicia (Matt) Hahn of Wakarusa and Kristina (Steven) Clark of North Carolina; and three great-grandchildren, Lexi, Robert and Cassandra Berger, all of South Bend. He was preceded in death by three brothers, Richard, Stanley and Dale Berger; and a sister, Bernice Knepp. Funeral survives will be at 2 p.m. Tuesday in the Nappanee United Methodist Church, with David Harrold, pastor of the church will officiating. Burial will be at Union Center Cemetery. Friends may call from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m. today in Thompson-Lengacher & Yoder Funeral Home, Nappanee, and one hour before services in the church. Memorial contributions may be made to the Nappanee United Methodist Church.
Published in the South Bend Tribune on 2/4/2008.

I saw on the news yesterday that the basketball coach at IUPUI coached barefoot in their game last Thursday. He did it to raise awareness for a charity that sends shoes to poor kids in Africa. Sounds like a great cause and a neat gimmick to get the word out. And it worked, more than 110,000 shoes were donated.

What a great story, but here’s how cynical I am. One of my first thoughts after hearing the story on the news was that rich Americans just shipped a bunch of shoes to poor kids in Africa that were made in sweatshops by poor kids in China. So the more shoes we give to the African kids the Chinese kids will have to work longer hours in the sweatshops.

I realize it’s pretty unlikely there is really a direct correlation, but that’s how my twisted mind works 🙂

Some friends of ours are in the process of adopting a child from Ethiopia. I’m testing out how to put a PayPal donation link in a WordPress.com blog for them. So don’t click on this link.

Testing the donation link

If you want to check out their story and/or donate to Ben and Janet head on over to Whipple Words

Canceled Church

Kossuth Street Baptist Church had to cancel services today because of the snow. Since we were stuck in the house I went to church online.

Facebook

The pastoral intern working with the youth at my church emailed me asking for my thoughts on Facebook for an article he is writing for the church’s newsletter. Below is the email I wrote up quick and sent him. If you’ve got any other thoughts, ideas, or resources let us both know by leaving a comment below.

As an aside, I recently setup a page for our church on Facebook. We’re not using it for much right now. Does your church have a Facebook page? If not, why not? If you do, what are you using it for?

[update] Jesse’s article has been published. Be sure to check it out.

First, I think it’s great you’re writing this. I’d encourage you to think not just about the newsletter but also how this will be on the church website. While we can put the exact same article on the website that goes in the newsletter, I’d suggest that when we put it the website we can include some extra or additional information. It could just be more thoughts you have that won’t fit in the space allotted in the newsletter or links to additional articles or whatever. The website version can live on as a resource for our church and others a lot longer than the newsletter article. (i.e. if a parent next year comes to you with facebook concerns, you can more easily point them to the website than find the old newsletter).

Anyway, my thoughts off the top of my head. Your job is to glean something useful from my ramblings.

Here’s a good article you should read from Mars Hill Church.

The main benefit of Facebook, MySpace, and other social networking sites is that it allows you to stay in contact or reconnect with friends and family. For me it’s been a way to stay in contact and keep up with the lives of people that don’t live near me and who I otherwise wouldn’t have a chance. I’ve had some direct and indirect witnessing opportunities by being involved and engaged in those people’s lives because of Facebook. However, for the most part this is mostly a superficial relationship. Not that this is wrong at all, we just need to realize Facebook isn’t going to replace those deeper relationships. Being my facebook friend doesn’t mean you’re my accountability partner.

I think a Christian needs to look at social networks as a mission field (just like they should look at their school, work, etc.). A Christian needs to be engaged and involved in our culture. For kids especially, this means they need to understand how a Christian should use these tools. God has these kids in this time and culture and I believe it is their responsibility to think critically about how those tools can be used and in some cases redeemed for God glorifying purposes.

I don’t think there are any fundamental differences between Facebook or MySpace. It is better for them to think critically about how they are going to participate than about specific features of a certain site or another. If the article focuses too much on a specific site, it will quickly become dated as the online world moves onto the next “cool” site or even as Facebook and MySpace change themselves to keep up with their competition.

There are some Christian-only social networks. I’m sure they fill some sort of purpose, but in general I don’t like them. If there is some valid reason to be on there, I’d encourage people to also be on Facebook/MySpace. I see those Christian-only sites as the virtual equivalent of a secluded religious compound. We are called to go out into the world and spread the good news, not to hide away in our virtual corner of the world.

I think the biggest danger for a Christian kid in dealing with these networks is that they could become very narcissistic. These sites are all setup to be all about me. My profile, what I’m doing right now, what I think about this or that, what music , movies, and books I like, etc.

The obvious worry is to be concerned about what data you share. Both sites have the ability to restrict who can see and what info they can see. Any user of these services really needs to understand who can see what. Also, they need to be discerning about more subtle “leaks” of information. For example, you might not give your address or even last name out, but if you have a picture of yourself online wearing your high school team sweatshirt and your first name, I can probably find out a lot about you just knowing your name is Mike and you play basketball for Lafayette Jeff (for example).

They need to realize that people aren’t 100% truthful or transparent on these sites. This isn’t just the 35 year old pretending to be 13 that you see on Dateline: To Catch a Predator. They need to realize people filter what they want you to see about them. Just as those kids are filtering what they say. We are all sinners. We all have dark sides but that is very rarely put up on your profile and I’m not saying that it should be. Kids don’t need to share that about themselves on Facebook (their parents or the youth pastor is a better option!), but they should realize other people aren’t as “perfect” as their profiles might play them out to be.

Despite what Ben thinks I don’t want a music-less society. It probably is because I’ve been hanging around with Ben too much that I think I now have a favorite hymn writer. That just sounds weird to me that I have a favorite hymn writer. I guess I always thought the songs in the hymnal at church just somehow magically appeared.

I seem to keep running across Phillip Bliss several times over the last several months. Two of my favorites are It is Well with My Soul and Man of Sorrows/Hallelujah, What a Saviour . Some links/media I’ve collected for your enjoyment.

Wikipedia entry

Video biography produced by Mars Hill Church as part of their Rebel’s Guide to Joy series.

Mars Hill Church version of Man of Sorrows

KSBC version (Joel Brovont and Ben Whipple) of Man of Sorrows

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