Tag Archives: technology

Choices in iworld

My cellphone says it all. It’s all about me. I chose the phone from among dozens of others at the store. I chose the screen that I see when I open it. I chose the font of the letters, the brightness, how I want the date and time displayed. I chose the menu options. I chose the people on my speed dial. I chose the ring-tone, and when and if I’ll take the calls. I chose the pictures I took on it, and the pictures I deleted. That’s a lot of ichoices for a piece of plastic that is smaller than a peanut butter sandwich.

It caters to me, just like a lot of the other technologies I use. I like being catered to. I like things to be the way I want them. ichoice in iworld. iam the greatest judge of what ilike! What happens when we run into a Saviour who has a different view of i? Who chooses not to have things cater to him? A son of man who isn’t trying to be number one, who isn’t wanting to have everything his way. What does it mean when this teacher tells us not to put ourselves first, and when this master in fact models a way of being a servant for others?

This week we’ll be finishing the sermon series on technology by looking at Jesus, and his choice to head for Jerusalem. We’ll be examining what it means to be people who put the i aside, who live for Jesus instead. Jesus wants us to think not so much about i, but about we (a word that is not spelled here with two ii’s).

Spend a moment thinking about what we means, by looking at this three minute youtube video about Nathan and Jennifer’s niece Katie. As I’ve been thinking about choices in iworld, this video gave me hope for choosing to live as we.  www.youtube.com/watch?v=zRh4RbsxX84

I think it’s a prayer.

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A faithful look at techno-garbage

I took a mantel clock I inherited from my mother to a repair shop because it wasn’t working. It turned out it just needed a good cleaning. The repairman told me my clock was built in the 1930’s in Germany. He said, “Now that it’s cleaned, it should be good for thirty years or so.” Note to self: “2040. Take clock to be cleaned.”

The very same day I picked up the clock, I had spent a frustrating hour in the telephone store trying to buy a new battery for my two-year old cellphone. It turns out they don’t make batteries for a phone “that outdated”, as the clerk informed me. She showed me the vastly superior new models I could purchase.

How do I make faithful friendly-to-the-earth choices, in a world where so many tools I use are bound to be obsolete a few months after I purchase I them? I have resisted buying the latest things that come along, and have mostly only upgraded when something has broken down completely. But still, when I think of all the TVs, computers, tape recorders, stereos, telephones and digital whatevers that I have thrown away in the last twenty years, it would fill a good sized closet. Can you count how many computers your family has owned?

This Sunday we’ll be thinking about how our high-tech choices affect our relationship with God’s good earth, our mother earth.

Today’s prayer: Creator God, help me make creative choices about the technologies I use.

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Lessons from the Cat in the Hat

A lot of new technology is pretty fancy.  On my cell, I can phone or text people, and I can take and send pictures, it’s also an alarm clock and I use it as a flashlight when it’s dark.  It’s pretty handy!  The same with my computer.  I  bought it to type on, so I can write my sermons.  But now I use it for email, for watching dvd’s, downloading songs, writing a blog.  It has a calculator and a datebook and a camera and a microphone.  Pretty fancy.

In fact, some days I find myself doing all sorts of things at once on this computer, just because I can…in the middle of writing a sermon, I’ll quick look up some fact on the internet, but I hear a PING telling me that I just got a new email, so I open that program, where someone asks me a question, so I open the church database, and then I wonder what today’s date is, so I go to my calendar on-line.  Before I know it I have so many windows open, I’ve lost track of what I am really doing.

The danger is that if we have tools that can do everything at once, then we try to do everything at once.  When it works, we feel like the Cat in the Hat, who balances everything with grace (at least for a while!).  But sometimes things crash!  This week I invite you to watch yourself…do you do one thing at a time, or are you balancing doing all sorts of things at once?  Do you watch TV as you do your homework on the computer as you’re chatting on facebook as you listen to your ipod?  Maybe it’s working for you, maybe it’s not.  Come on Sunday prepared  to think about what it means to be a follower of Jesus in a world filled with multi-tasking tools.

God, thank you for all the amazing tools that we have in our hands.  Help us to know how to use them wisely and well. 

p.s.  If you are looking for the sermons, they are no longer included in this pastor’s blog, but have their own page…look at the top of this screen and click on the tab marked “Sermons”.

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Holy hot-line, Batman!

What kind of phone did you have in your house growing up? Ours was an avocado green wall model (rotary of course, because you had to pay more for touchtone), and it was in the kitchen. When you talked to people on the phone, everyone could hear what you said. I remember having a gossipy giggly conversation with my girlfriend, and feeling my father’s stern gaze upon me.

My fondest dream was to have a phone in my own room so I could have private conversations like the people in the movies. It was possible to buy an extension phone from Bell Canada in those days, but it cost a lot of money (probably $6 a month), and that was a luxury. Very un-Mennonite. I only knew one person who had two phones in their house. I also remember listening to my grandmother on the phone. She called my aunt the minute something newsworthy happened. My sisters and I called it “the hot-line to Virgil”.

Today in our house we have a landline with two receivers that you can take anywhere, even in the backyard, and we have an answering machine. And all four people in my family each have their own cellphone. Our cup runneth over with communication tools. Surely goodness and mercy will follow us all the days of our lives!

I wonder though, am I closer to my friends than I used to be? Is our church community more connected than ever because we’re all carrying cellphones? Do I communicate more on the phone than my parents did because I have more tools? When I think about it, I think I probably use the phone less than my parent’s generation, because I email a lot of people, so I don’t have to phone them. That’s ironic. It’s more convenient and easier to phone than ever before, but I look for ways to avoid phoning if I can. I guess to save time . Or something. Hmmm…what is it?

This Sunday we’ll be trying to put the words “God” and “cellphone”  in the same sentence. What will we come up with?

God’s answering machine message: “Why are you calling me? I’m standing right beside you!”

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Enhance: Living for God in a high-tech world

Lent begins today. For centuries, Lent was the period when people prepared for baptism, which was held on Easter. Lent has become a time when people examine their life soberly, and turn to God.   At First Mennonite, we are also going to spend time reflecting.

Our world in some ways is in a time of rapid change. Over the past 50 years (my lifetime), we’ve seen a remarkable change in technology and its accessibility. As a kid I didn’t own one toy that used batteries or plugged in. Not one. I had a doll with a ring at the back of her neck, and I could pull it and a string would come out. I would let go, and she would say, “Mama, mama.”  But when I was eight, my sister received a small tape recorder as a gift from an uncle. It was a real novelty at the time. The electronic revolution had begun in the Penner home.

Tools are good. Throughout time tools have enhanced our life. But the discerning Christian needs to make choices, especially in this time when electronic tools have changed our lives. Which tools do we want to use? How much should we spend on them? How often should we use them? When should we not use them? I’m starting a five-part sermon series entitled “Enhance: Living for God in a high-tech world”.

I’d like you to look around your house this week. What technological items are in your house that you would not have found there fifty years ago? How are they enhancing your life? More importantly, the question I want you to ask yourself is, “Have they helped me be a more faithful Christian?”

p.s. In case you’re wondering, I still have the doll, but the tape recorder is long gone.

Today’s prayer: Open our eyes in this season of Lent, to see what draws us closer, and what draws us away from you. Give us courage to do something about it.

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