Questions About Church

1. Who are my brothers and sisters? Who can you worship with, Baptists, Mormons, Catholics, Methodists, Lutherans, official govt churches?
I was raised Church of Christ, a very fundamentalist religious organization (of independent churches) that teaches strict adherence to their interpretation of scripture. And for thirty years I felt that we were right and most other religious organizations were generally wrong with a small amount of right. As I approached my late forties I ended up attending and becoming a member of a Church of Christ that included more liberal thinking and worshiping members. It was then that I started asking myself why we do what we do and how should we be doing it.

During those years I belonged to a small group of men who would meet weekly and ask ourselves hard questions. What is worship and how should we worship. I found it intensely exciting, and educating and it allowed us to build emotional and intellectual bonds with each other.
One of the things we would do is take the Lord’s Supper using regular bread (on a weekday this is a real no-no to conventional CofC members.
But the group eventually turned itself into a men’s encounter group and concerned itself mostly with personal and inter-personal issues.
Soon after that I quit my job and went overseas to teach English and other things. Finally the group disbanded after a few more years but I believe it was a great exercise and resulted in a lot of healing, education and worshipful activity.

Being a teacher and living in another country either opened my eyes or blinded me according to some folks. Questions that we would debate and divide over in America were non-issues here because here the issue was: no one knew who Jesus Christ was. I spent my time introducing Jesus in the very simplest of terms and pictures. Worship was not a formal 3 songs, a prayer, the Lord’s Supper, a sermon, a closing song and prayer. Worship become something more personal and primitive and exciting and short (usually an hour but with more time spent together in other activities). The old issues of instrumental music and women’s silence in the assembly and busing and church parking lots disappeared.

One of the things that happened was that I was encountering worshipers of other denominations. In Finland I had no choice but to sometimes worship with Lutherans. I met and spoke with a Lutheran minister in Tampere and came to the belief that we were in fact worshiping and following the same Jesus. That was my first real experience of renegade religious activity (other than a short stint at an instrumental CofC).
Eventually I ended up in China where I have spent the last seven and half years.

Here in China I spend my time showing who Jesus is, sometimes not even talking about him – but it always shows. I have had kids (college students) just appear out of nowhere and ask me, “are you a Christian?”, or “why are you different than other foreign teachers?”
We would even share the Lord’s Supper with new seekers who were not follower’s (anathema to a strict CofC soldier).

So now I come to the answer of question number one. If someone regardless of their religious persuasion wants to worship Jesus with me, I do it. Now the Jesus part is what weeds them out. Those who say he isn’t the son of God don’t want to worship with me because they don’t want to, not because I don’t want them to. All other differences melt into the background. It really becomes that basic. Differences of formalities committed during worship dissolve away like salt into the sea. Worship becomes a sharing of who Jesus is. We don’t fall asleep during worship (though cell phones sometimes interrupt), we don’t think about the meal afterwards, we don’t worry about what worship looks like to an outsider. We just try to identify with and pay attention to Jesus and each other. It isn’t always perfect and often it is awkward. But it isn’t superficial.

Ok, not a great earth-shattering answer but if I had read this little blurb when I was a dogmatic Church of Christer I would have never believed these were thoughts I would ever have entertained.

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How Should Church Look

I have listed some issues that I have thought about concerning what church should look like. These are statements and questions that have arisen during my work abroad over that last 8 years. Will deal with each one of  them in time as occassion and desire permits.

Questions About Church (at home and abroad)
1. Who are my brothers and sisters? Who can you worship with, Baptists, Mormons, Catholics, Methodists, Lutherans, official govt churches?
2. What day can you formally worship on (mostly LS I guess)?
3. Is fasting necessary? Have you ever fasted for religious reasons?
4. What is worship? Is it a one hour a day on Sunday?
5. What does the format of worship need to look like? A rock concert, a funeral, a hospital, a summer camp,an American church?
6. Are elders required to lead the church today. What about a businessman organization? A church without leaders?
7. What does living and working together in peace mean?
8. How much should I give to the collection plate? Do we do it only on worship day? Should we make missionees follow our example? Can we give only when it is needed for a specific purpose? Do we have to give the same amount every time.
9. What comprises a worship day?
10. Can every day be a worship day? Including LS?
11. Can a xtian smoke? Can a xtian drink? Socially?
12. Are women allowed to lead songs (start songs), lead prayers, ask questions, direct a lesson?
13. Are all worhip services equal?
14. Should we pay church workers retirement benefits?
15. How should church property be utilized?
16. Should we pay to build large church buildings? Where is the fit for house services?
17. How long should church services last?
18. Can LS be observed with a regular meal?
19. Can we use regular bread in the LS?
20. Are we free to make organizational, even doctrinal changes unlike those mentioned in the the early church?
21. What are our absolute core beliefs, how few can we get by with?
22. If you don’t have grape juice and crackers, what can you use for LS?
23. If you had a mssnry effort going and new mssnrs moved in who have their own ideas about how the effort should be conducted and who
were not amenable to your ideas, how would you react? What would be an appropriate protocol for both parties?
24.Should we worhip in secret? Should we sing loudly if there is a chance we could be overheard? Should we not sing at all in certain situations?
25. Should the locals be taught in their own language? What if they prefer English?
26. What to do about young women who come to worship in short (I mean really short) skirts and revealing clothes?
27. What to do about students who say Oh my God!?
28. Should we institute American style wrshp or encourge them to find their own?
29. How much should we be at the mercy of dogmatic elder support from home? Elders who have no idea of the problems we face?
30. How much should poor students have to give if we force them to give as we do?
31. We all as teachers sign contracts that say we will not engage in mssnry effort? Is it ok to lie for your faith?
32. Can a single mssnry worshp alone? Can they take the LS alone?
33. Can mssnrys work and worshp separately though they serve the same school, area?
34. What to do about other mssnrys who are obviously doing wrong things?
35. If you cannot get along with other mshnrs in your area, should you leave for that reason?
36. Must mshnrs be formally trained? (haha)
37. Should we bounce around from school to school, year after year?
38. If your boss here asks you to do something dishonest, what will you do?

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2000 Years Ago Jesus was about 18

It seems amazing that exactly 2000 years has passed since the time Jesus walked as a man on Earth. It is hard to picture to myself the Saviour of mankind as a teenager, who would begin his final ministry only 12 years later. Perhaps we only have 12 years to work our final ministry too. The signs of the times seem to be more apparent in every news report. We who are hopeful – watch and wait.

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My Guitar Music

Some of my homegrown guitar songs – gospel music, folk, etc

 

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Self Balancing Mechanical Gyroscope Experimentation

I am going to start posting some results of my experiments with self balancing gyroscopes (mechanical) here.

Currently I have a working self stabilized two wheeler that uses a free precessing mechanical gyroscope which is very smooth with very little oscillating back and forth like you see on some self stabilized vehicles. The gyroscope is kept actively balanced by a servo that swings a counterweight back and forth. The downside is that a large force on the vehicle or sharp turn to left or right will cause the gyroscope to tumble (fall over). So I have been experimenting some with actively controlling the gyroscope gimble which is much more forceful in correcting the attitude of the gyroscope but also difficult to control. I have seen other efforts and the computer controls the gimbal but the vehicle always exhibits a bit of jumping back and forth – not too smooth.

I am thinking about working on  some sort of hybrid gimbal control  that allows free precessing but with gimbal correction.

Experiment 1: From studying some patents on the subject I saw one idea where they have tilted the entire gyroscope forward or backward rather than use a gimbal. That might be less abrupt in correcting the gyro than directly controlling the gimbal so I will try that.

Experiment 2:  Also, I noticed that a gyroscope can be somewhat self correcting when it “loses it’s balance” by allowing the motor/gyro rotor to slide back and forth on the gimbal axis and  allowing the natural precessing of the gyro to correct it’s out of balance state. I accidently observed this happening with my first self balancing gyroscope.

So these are two experiments I want to conduct in the near future.

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Gyro Stabilized Two Wheeler (ver 5) with Steering

Continuing development of mechanical gyroscope stabilized two wheeler – now with ability to steer. Uses Arduino to control rotor stabilizing counterweight. Rc radio controls rear motor and steering.
More details at http://letsmakerobots.com/content/gyro-stabilized-two-wheeler-v5-steering

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Self Balancing Gyroscope (V3) Using Arduino and Pot for Tilt Sensor

Here is my continuing saga of my gyroscope – in this version I use an Arduino Uno and a potentiometer to swing a counter weight to balance a precessing gyroscope so that it will balance indefinitely on two chopsticks.
More details on my blog at Lets Make Robots under user demej00.

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