Things To Do After Going To Church With Your Family

The weekend is everyone’s favorite part of the week. This is the perfect time to relax and be with friends and family. Aside from going to church, what other fun activities can you do next? Here are 5 things you and your family can try out.

– Nail Art
Just like any type of artistic expression, nail art aims to go beyond what we usually see on a daily basis. A regular manicure/pedicure session can turn into a bedazzling experience of mixing and matching nail polish, beads, and glitters to turn your nails into beautiful canvases. Take for example Minnie, the creator behind the Youtube channel Nailbees.  She creates amazing videos about nail art painting that will blow your mind. Her nail art designs range from anime characters, holographic designs, and cute animal creatures that will surely make heads turn. Compare nail art designs with one another, or have your mom paint yours and vice versa.

– Plant herbs
Getting your hands dirty in planting is not a bad idea, and herbs are not very challenging to grow at all.  Recycle old plastic containers. Have your children decorate them using non-toxic paint. Punch holes at the bottom of these containers for drainage, and then add potting soil. Have your children choose what herbs they want to plant. Oregano, basil, rosemary, parsley, and cilantro are some of the easiest to grow. Place your containers in a sunny windowsill and remind your children to water them regularly. In a matter of days, notice sprouts coming out of the soil. This creates a feeling of accomplishment for your children.

– Film a cooking show
Stage a cooking show with your kids. Have them wear aprons, chef hats, and provide oven mitts or pot holders. Don’t forget to remind your kids with safety measures everytime they’re in the kitchen. Planning to cook a roasted turkey with stuffing? Now that can be complicated with children, but with proper guidance. It’s not as hard as you expect it. Speaking of turkey, did you know what temperature does the FDA recommend cooking a turkey to? According to the USDA, your oven must be set at 325F, and the turkey must have an internal temperature of 165F. Always have your food thermometer handy.

– Karaoke night
Everyone loves singing and let’s admit it, one of the best ways to do it is while bathing. Now, can you imagine doing this as a family bonding activity? That’s right, try having a karaoke night. You can sing your favorite Frank Sinatra songs while the kids jam over popular artists of today like Ariana Grande, or Sam Smith. It’s going to be a blast for sure.

– Movie or series marathon
Another way to spend time after going to church is having a movie or series marathon. Come up with a theme that everyone agrees to. You can try chick flicks, horror, comedy, and drama. For series shows, Netflix does not disappoint. Don’t forget the popcorn.

Barbecue For Food Offering

In ancient times foods were often associated with different deities because of perceived power they possessed. The most powerful foods were those that we would recognize today – beef, pork, chicken, and fish. These foods were powerful not only because they were delicious but because they came from the harvest of the land and sea and were enjoyed by all in their homes and at events. Though most of us no longer associate cooking meals with deities the tradition of enjoying meat lives on in our modern society.

 

No type of food inspires a cult-like following than barbecue, if the ancients had it they would have no doubt set up a
sign that read – barbecue for food offering. You can read Seriouslysmoked.com‘s Review regarding dealing with grilled foods.

 

But what is a barbecue and why is it so popular?

 

Barbecue perhaps the most broadly enjoyed and misunderstood of all gastronomically related terms. Barbecue is both a cooking method and apparatus for powering that method – contrary to thought, it is not actually a sauce. The method Barbecue is characterized by long, drawn out cooking times at low heat – in order to extremely tenderize the meat in question. The apparatus that powers this method is a kind specialized grilling designed often to impart a smokey flavor onto the meat being cooked.

 

Sauces used in Barbecue perform a special task as well, they lock in flavors by coating meats as well as keep meat hydrated during long cook times. Sauced for Barbecue contain a wide variety of ingredients including onion powder, sugar, salt, water, cinnamon, chives, honey, molasses and many many other – often rigorously defended trade secret – ingredients.

 

When someone asks our hypothetical ancients “Why Barbecue for food offering?” the ancient might respond simply by stating “the flavor!” or they might get really long winded and explain a deeper truth – community. Barbecue isn’t simply about food, it has its roots in the southern united states, in a time of deep spirituality and deep division. Often, the only time various groups of people got together to congregate was at Church on Sunday’s and large, group meals were a normal event. It was in this environment that Barbecue was perfected and transformed from a culinary on-off to a socially mainstream and recognizable form of cooking.

 

Many ask what can be Barbecued and what cannot, the truth is there are no real rules to it – if it can be slow cooked on a grill, drizzled with delicious sauce and made to taste great, it can be Barbecued. Having stated that just about anything can be Barbecued it is important to note that traditionally, some things lend themselves much better to being cooked this way than others. Perhaps the most widely cooked and famous of all Barbecue meats is pork, this is owing to the characteristics of tenderness and susceptibility to the methods of BBQ in the meat itself as well as the wide availability and low cost. No one can seriously say they have visited a Southern United States BBQ restaurant and not tried a pulled pork sandwich, can they really?

 

Whether you’re a modern day foodie or an ancient putting “ barbecue for food offering ” signs up, there is absolutely no denying it – BBQ is definitely here to stay.

 

Email Automation for Religious Activities

The use of Email is the new digital communication for both personal and official messaging service. The old way of hard copy communication tools like letters are slowly becoming extinct; although, the use of letters are still taking center stage for references, evidence, and manual signatures. Religion is a business enterprise as much as it offers spiritual nourishment and use of Email automation helps to increase the membership and provide timely communication via various Email automation tools. You will realize that letters are more used for formalities than the main channel of communication.

 

Email automation is the main component in any marketing automation tools. It helps to have an interactive platform for the religious organization employees and stakeholders. Every member is a potential market for a religious activity because of the emotional attachment and the food for the soul to help you manage the life challenges. The Email automation helps to communicate religious activities for early preparation among the target audience.

What are some of the functions of Email automation for religious activities?

  • Creation of Email campaigns

As a religious organization, you need to start a drive towards a noble cause. It could be a religious mission for the disabled in a remote village. You need the participation of members to ensure the mission is a success. Email automation solution helps you to develop an Email campaign with graphical features to give a practical illustration of the activity. This feature helps to increase the target audience such that you have more attendees, visit Gedlynk’s comparison here for the best approach on this.

  • Development of newsletters

You need to keep on communicating to your members on strategic plans, informative news, and updates on various religious activities. The Email automation tool is the best platform for this because of its affordable cost and a wider network irrespective of location.

  • Communication of upcoming events

A normal Email is at times boring, getting to job boards in various stores to check on any upcoming events is also not an ideal way to get information but with Email Automation tool, you are sure of organizing your calendar based on this for timely response and attendance.

  • Autoresponder Emails

Email autoresponders help to improve interaction between the management and members. How do you feel when you receive an Email acknowledging receipt of your Email? Of course, you feel valued.

  • Social media integration

Social media is the new platform to meet both formally and informally, a religious organization has no option but to create social media pages for interaction and getting first-hand feedback for positive criticism. Marketing automation tools have inbuilt social media integration to enhance the efficiency of the tool ideal for the marketing success of the religious organization. Look at Ontraport’s detailed product review on how this function to improve the management of a religious institution.

 

Email marketing automation toolkit for religious organization helps to increase the market for donors, sponsors, well-wishers for effective delivery of their projects which are mostly non-profit based. In addition, it helps run the entity from a business angle for professionalism and integrity.

Functions of church home tools

People go to religious institutions to seek solace and food for the soul. In as much as that is the basic purpose; you need to go to a neat and hygienic place to allow the body to relax and listen to the voice of God. Some churches employ a caretaker to maintain the church compound as well as clean, maintain and do few repairs. Other churches opt to use volunteers. Just as home, no cleaning, and maintenance activities will be successful when you use their bare hand, you need home tools to make work easier and simple.

What are some of the activities that need home tools in the church?

Cleaning

“Cleanliness is next to Godliness” you cannot be comfortable in the church with dust and bushy compound. You will not settle, what about if a snake crawls from the bushes to the church. An untidy church compound is a source of infections and allergies. Brooms, rake, shears, and slashes are among home tools to help in cleaning the church to enable the congregation to stay in a clean environment ready for the clergy to give them a message of hope and to strengthen their faith.

Cutting grass and bushes

The fact that there is little human movement within the church, grasses, and bushes are bound to grow faster depending on the prevailing weather conditions. The church management can buy a lawn mower or a volunteer can donate one to help maintain the right level of grass as well as clear the bushes, which might harbor predators and parasites.

Repair of electrical system

Electric appliances never miss in a church. They provide power to the lighting and the public address system. They are prone to electric faults, and of course, wear and tear. You need an electrical toolkit with all the basic home tools to help solve electrical repairs and maintenance.

Maintenance, renovations, and repair of furniture

Wooden furniture is very common in most churches, we reviewed a number of different wood lathes here. Prolonged use leads to breakages and loose nails, which might be harmful to church members. A woodwork toolkit comes in handy as a home tool to assist in handling any woodwork operations within the church. The kit has a mallet, nails of different sizes, tape measure, and screws among others.

Hitting nails

Anywhere there is woodwork, nails are inevitable; being metallic, they are prone to loosening making woodwork joint loose leading to breakages. Instead of disposing of the whole furniture, you just need nails and a hammer to screw them together and they still continue to provide comfort. In case they break, nails also help to make new wooden seats and tables.

Grilling

The furniture and electrical appliances most of the time are joined using screws. You need to look for the best home tools  like a drill in the church to help fix and remove screws during renovations of woodwork projects and electrical appliances.

The church is another home, although we spend few hours in a week. It needs to be clean, neat and tidy all the time. Investing in home tools for the church improves efficiency and effectiveness of workers doing various activities within the church compound.

Dogs In Religious Activities

Dogs are certainly the loveliest pets out there. If you take a look at the number of people who have pets and survey which pet do most of them have, dogs top the chart. Dog pets are most loved my human. Dog owners are willing to spend money for their pets. They have different kinds of materials for their dogs especially vacuum, there are many vacuums available for pet hair in the market. Dogs have been closely associated with mankind from the very early civilizations. Are dogs just pets? Do they have some significance in the religious activities? Well, the question may sound strange but the truth is that dogs play an important role in many a religious tradition we have today.

  • Dogs in Chinese Religious Traditions

Chinese astrology honors 12 animals and dog is one of them. They have even dedicated a day, the second day of the Chinese New Year, to celebrate the birthday of all dogs. People give respect and take special care of their dogs on that day.

  • Dogs in Aztec Religion

The Aztec peoples found in central Mexico attribute great symbolic and religious significance to the dogs. According to their belief, a dog-headed monster named Xolotl is the god of death. Historians have also discovered several burial sites of dogs in Mexico.

  • Dogs in Judaism

The Jewish law reminds the Jews to make sure that their dogs are fed before they are. Similarly, the Jews are supposed to feed their dogs or make arrangements for the same if they are to obtain them from someone else.

  • Dogs in Zoroastrianism

It seems that dogs are given the most respect in Zoroastrianism as compared to other religious traditions. They consider it as a righteous, clean and noble creature. They are advised by their religion to feed and take care of their dogs without any fail. When it comes to the religious or ritual side of Zoroastrianism, they consider the dogs’ gaze as a blessing because it has got the power to purify one and to cast away the demons. On the commemoration day of their dead, feeding the dogs is a special ritual for them.

  • Dogs in Christianity

Although dogs are not given any great religious significance in modern Christianity, you can see a lot of references to them in their religious scripture. In the Book of Tobit, it is seen that Tobias is accompanied by a dog on his journey. Similarly, St. Roch is recognized as the patron saints of dogs. Dogs are honored or symbolized in many local Christian churches in several parts of the world.

  • Dogs in Hinduism

Dog-related rituals are common in certain parts of India among the followers of Hinduism. During the five-day long Tihar festival which is celebrated in a northern state in India, dogs are worshiped and honored with great respect and care. The festival usually falls in the month of November. For the Hindu god, Bhairava, dog (called van in the local language) is the amount. The Hindu epic Mahabharatha notes that Yudhistira was taken into heaven along with his dog. Therefore, some sects of Hindus believe that taking care of the dogs is one of the many ways to secure heaven.

  • Dogs in Greek Mythology

You can see that dogs were dear to many of the characters in the Greek mythology as well. Hecate, Artemis, and Ares loved their dogs very much and were often found with them.

 

 

 

Two new stories about my journey

Religion News Service | Seventh-day Adventist Pastor plans to flirt with atheism for 12 months

(RNS) California pastor Ryan Bell has a novel New Year’s resolution. For one year, he proclaimed, he will “live without God.”

Ryan Bell photo courtesy of Ryan BellCalifornia pastor Ryan Bell has a novel New Year’s resolution. For one year, he proclaimed, he will “live without God.” Photo courtesy of Ryan Bell

It’s an odd resolution for an ordained minister, former church pastor, a teacher at two highly regarded Christian universities and church consultant. Yet for the next 12 months, Bell, 42, plans to refrain from praying, reading the Bible and thinking about God at all.

Instead, he will read atheist authors, attend atheist gatherings and seek out conversation and companionship with unbelievers. He wants to “do whatever I can to enter the world of atheism and live, for a year, as an atheist.”

Still, his resolution is only an experiment he is not, he said, an atheist. “At least not yet,” he wrote in an essay for The Huffington Post, where, on New Year’s Eve, he announced his plan and a new blog to document it.

“I am not sure what I am. That’s part of what this year is about.”

But so far, it has also been about loss. Since announcing his plans, Bell has been asked to resign from both of his teaching positions and lost a consulting job. In the months before his decision to, as he put it, “try on” atheism, his health and his family relationships suffered too.

But even this early in his experiment, Bell feels he has gained something. Among the 20,000-plus people who have visited his new blog are many who have written to say that they, too, dance with doubt, but feel they cannot do so publicly because of the cost.

“In a way, it is like being gay and not being able to come out to your family,” Bell said in a conversation from his home in the Los Angeles area. “There have just been so many people who said they have wanted to ask questions too and didn’t feel that they could. So they are living vicariously through my spiritual journey.”

“Which,” he added, “in a way, is a lot like being a pastor.”

Indeed, Bell’s path has been marked by controversy before. Born to Methodist parents who converted to Seventh-day Adventism, he eventually led Hollywood Adventist Church, a Los Angeles congregation known as a liberal outpost in a mostly conservative denomination.

Over the years, Bell’s once-fundamentalist views became more progressive, he said. He advocated for women’s ordination and the full recognition and inclusion of gays and lesbians, both prohibited by current church doctrine. He also took issue with the church’s literal interpretation of a six-day period of creation and its end-times teachings.

Last March, after eight years at Hollywood Adventist, he was asked by denominational leaders to resign. And that, he said, in part led him to his yearlong experiment with atheism.

“Not being a pastor for nine months has given me the freedom to not have to believe in something for other people’s sake,” he said.

Others have documented their yearlong spiritual quests, although usually from a more religious point of view. A.J. Jacobs tried to follow every arcane rule in the Bible for The Year of Living Biblically and Rachel Held Evans did the same for A Year of Biblical Womanhood. Others, including former Louisiana pastor Jerry DeWitt, have written about their loss of faith after the fact.

Linda LaScola, a clinical social worker and co-author of “Caught in the Pulpit,” a book of interviews with clergy who have lost their faith, said while no one knows how many clergy struggles with unbelief, various denominations deal with them differently. She knows of one Episcopal priest who admitted to a parishioner that he did not believe in the Nicene Creed, a core statement of Christian faith that’s recited every Sunday in Episcopal parishes. There were, she said, “no repercussions.”

“While it’s OK and even expected for many clergies to feel doubt with the assumption that it is a temporary situation that defaults back to faith clergy may hesitate to express their doubts openly to their congregation for fear it could affect people’s faith,” she said.

“For literalists like the Seventh-day Adventists and Mormons, there is little room for doubt. They know certain things to be true.”

Bell decided to share his doubts on a blog because writing has always been a way he processes his experiences. “Vocationally and spiritually, it was something I wanted to share with other people,” he said.

So far, the reaction from the atheist community has been lukewarm. Hemant Mehta, writing at his Friendly Atheist blog, commended Bell for exploring atheism, but said until he gives up belief in God, his experiment is flawed. Others, Bell said, have condemned him as a “mole” and a “fake.”

But Bell seems to have struck a chord among readers who can be classified as “nones” the 20 percent of Americans who say they have no religious affiliation, according to a 2012 report by the Pew Research Center.

“There are so many other ways to think about and experience life than through the lenses of dogmatic Christianity, or dogmatic atheism,” one such reader commented. “I hope you find one that resonates with you.”

That’s Bell’s hope, too.

“If I have to be absolutely certain that there is no God, I don’t know if I can ever qualify for that group,” he said. “And if I need to acknowledge with certainty that there is a God, I don’t know if I can ever be a part of that group. But I am excited because this feels like a continuation of my spiritual journey. People seem to think I am leaping into this, but really this is just the next step for me.”

__________________________________________

Salon | Enough of the year of stunts

Enough with the (Credit: lightkey via iStock)

Whether you want to eat nothing but artisan breakfast sandwiches for a year, or spend 365 days not believing in God, if it makes you happy, I salute you. But can I ask you to do it a little more quietly? Because of I’m ready to declare 2014 the year of not giving a damn what anybody else’s yearlong project is.

Maybe it’s all A.J. Jacobs fault. Over the past decade, Jacobs has spun his experiences of reading the encyclopedia, pursuing bodily perfection, following the Bible literally and other self-imposed Herculean tasks into New York Times bestsellers. He has helped spawn an entire industry of stunt quests in which enterprising individuals live like Oprah or have sex every day or exist entirely on Groupon deals for a year. The unusual limited-time endeavor spawned Morgan Spurlock’s Supersize Me and Julie Powells Julie and Julia and the guy who watched Julie and Julia every day for a year. And for a while, it was a fun idea. But now, a new crop of would-be adventurers find themselves grasping for novel endeavors, and the time-sensitive challenge has become as tired a trope as the found-footage horror flick. Just this week alone, as we crossed the finish line of one year and entered a new one, we’ve had international headline-making stories of Beyoncé and Jay-Z ending their month of veganism, the woman who subsisted entirely on Starbucks fare for a year, the couple who did a marathon every day for a year and the former pastor who, in a reversal of Pascals wager, is living 2014 as if there’s no God. If there is a God, I beg him, please make it stop.

Am I doing it wrong?

Today there were two interesting pieces posted about my Huffington Post piece. Many of you have probably already seen these. They are written by two atheists of serious intellect and experience, who are gently critiquing the methodology of my year long journey. I am grateful for their engagement with me and I look forward to incorporating their comments into my thinking about this journey. Many others have said very similar things in the comment here on the blog (I read every comment, by the way) so I understand that many atheists feel Im not sincerely or genuine in what I am doing. All I can say is, thank you for your insights and critique and time will tell.

Here they are. What do you think?

Synapses | A year without god

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Happy Atheist | To the Pastor Giving Atheism a Shot for a Year: You’re Doing It Wrong

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A Year Without God: A Former Pastors Journey Into Atheism

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What difference does God make?

About a year ago a friend and Episcopal priest, told me her atheist friend asked her this question. She found it harder to answer than she expected. He had batted away her first few attempts and she was now running it by me. We didnt end up discussing it for very long but the question has stayed with me. Recently I decided I would find out, by living for a year without God.

*******

I was more or less raised in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. My parents were United Methodists when I was born in 1971 in Parma, Ohio a suburb on the west side of Cleveland. When I was six years old my parents marriage started to come apart and in an effort to save it, we all ended up with my moms parents in Southern California. Part of the effort to save their marriage must have been a renewed commitment to their Christian faith, this time in the Seventh-day Adventist dialect of my grandparents.

From that time until early 2013, I lived within the family of the church. My relationship with God and the church has taken many turns a story for another time but I always managed to maintain the tension between the relatively unchanging demands of the church, my growing understanding of God, and my own personal experience of the world. I realize now that this tension was always there. These relationships were never easy for me. Whether during my fundamentalist phase, during college, or my growing progressive convictions in recent years, I always had a nagging sense that I didnt fit. So, naturally, I became a pastor. Since 1991 I have either been a pastor or in school developing my skills to be a better pastor. When I felt that I couldnt do it anymore I was convinced, by myself and others, that I could make my best contribution from inside rather than outside the church. So I stayed.

As it turns out, the day came when I really didnt fit within the church anymore. I had been an outspoken critic of the churchs approach to our gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered members that approach being exclusion or, at best, second class membership (we wont kick you out but you cant participate in leadership). Through the years, I had also been a critic of the churchs treatment of women, their approach to evangelism and their tunnel-vision approach to church growth. I was deeply committed to my community and its betterment something that won me the praise of some (and even an Innovative Church of the Year award from the North American Division) and the vitriol of others. I engaged in and sponsored interfaith relationships within my churches and in the community. I struggled alongside our neighbors for justice and peace. All of these things things I was most proud of in my ministry earned me rebuke and alienation from church administrators. I tried to maintain that I was a faithful critic a critic from within someone committed to the church and its future success but unwilling to go blindly along with things I felt were questionable, or even wrong.

This was on top of my theological concerns. I couldnt affirm the teaching that the Seventh-day Adventist Church was the remnant church Gods chosen people to prepare the world for the last days. If fact, there was a lot about the churchs beliefs concerning the last days (and the more proximate days) that troubled me.

In March, I stood my ground on these issues and was asked to resign. I didnt want to resign but I finally agreed. My family and my health had suffered over the past several years but my faith had suffered most of all. Since that time I have been a religious nomad. I have struggled to relate to the church and, if Im honest, God. I havent attended church consistently; I struggle to relate to church people, preferring the company of skeptics and non-church-goers. I havent prayed much and, without sermons to write on a regular basis, I havent studied, or even really read, the Bible.

So, Im making it official and embarking on a new journey. I will try on atheism for a year. For the next 12 months I will live as if there is no God. I will not pray, read the Bible for inspiration, refer to God as the cause of things or hope that God might intervene and change my own or someone elses circumstances. (I trust that if there really is a God that God will not be too flummoxed by my foolish experiment and allow others to suffer as a result).

I will read atheist sacred texts from Hobbes and Spinoza to Russell and Nietzsche to the trinity of New Atheists, Hitchens, Dawkins and Dennett. I will explore the various ways of being atheist, from naturalism (Voltaire, Dewey, et al) to the new religious atheists (Alain de Botton and Ronald Dworkin). I will also attempt to speak to as many actual atheists as possible scholars, writers and ordinary unbelievers to learn how they have come to their non-faith and what it means to them. I will visit atheist gatherings and try it on.

In short, I will do whatever I can to enter the world of atheism and live, for a year, as an atheist. Its important to make the distinction that I am not an atheist. At least not yet. I am not sure what I am. Thats part of what this year is about.

For this life-long Christian, and a pastor for nearly 20 years, this feels abnormal. Risky, even. It is as uncomfortable as a lifelong atheist trying on Christianity for a year. Many of my colleagues will fear for my eternal security (what if I somehow die during the year?), others will question my mental health, reasoning that the recent trauma in my life has sent me over the edge. Perhaps they are right. There has been some religious trauma in my life in the last year and it has shaken the foundation of my faith, but honestly, it was getting pretty shaky anyway.

My desire is, as always, to pursue the truth and do it in a sometimes serious, sometimes playful, way that might be insightful for others as well. During the year I will be blogging my experience here and working on a book. I invite you to follow along and share your thoughts.