Thursday, October 28, 2010

Cool Droid Apps

As most of you know I am a technogeek. I have been exploring the new and exciting land of Droid and the many apps available to Droid smart phones. Here are a few apps I have found that are useful and cool.

Uverse (for those who are ATT Uverse subscribers). - set your DVR for shows anytime or visit the library to download certain shows to your phone to watch.

LogMeIn Ignition - this is an app that allows you a remote desktop connection to your home computer both through the web in a browser window bit also with this nifty Droid app on your phone. This works real well if I ever need to do a quick support task on my web server or access pictures or files on the personal pc.

BeyondPod - This app consolidates RSS feeds for news, blogs, and video and audio podcasts. One of the best apps for feed consolidation where it can handle all the feed activities without having to send you directly to the site.

There are other apps such as ShopSavy that scans bar codes and searchs for the same product online to find the lowest prices. Pretty handy on big electronic purchases. So far though these are the apps that have been useful to me. I guess just the fact that I am entering this blog post from my Droid is a bog deal compared to the old days.

Happy geeking out!!!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Crusader Update???

Alright I have been silent for many months in the area of debating those I affectionately named the Confessional Crusaders. It has been a lesson about be careful the terms you coin, you just might become one.

I have spent the time still observing debates but moreso just studying and absorbing than participating. I would like to announce that my views are quite a bit different and muted than they used to be when I took up the supposed arguments. So to update those who may care, here is a more revised statement on the issues I used to fight for so much in the past.

Contemporary Worship

Indeed we still participate at Victory and are active there. We are active there because I believe Victory is still true to its Lutheran origin. We work hard to maintain our Lutheran hymns in worship despite their being done in a contemporary way. We stick with the basic CW liturgy. We visibly and regularly promote the Sacraments and pastor still gives law/gospel sermons of his own creation (not hijacked from some non-dom site like lifechurch or groeschel). However, I will confess this, as the church grows the dangers of evangelicalism and non-dom’s that many have warned of are there and continually and increasingly require attention. Increasingly I hear comments by newer members who want to reduce the number of hymns and replace it with that ewwy gooey modern crap that use endless refrains to say absolutely nothing. Members who want to be even more contemporary than we are. Basically new Christians (praise God) that want the more emotion based worship (sigh!!) Now we are working on calling a second pastor and hopefully the introduction of a pastor that can work with new members and lead bible studies and congregation education can add more meat and potatoes to the new Christians we are gaining. This is ever so important so as not to develop a church that has no knowledge of what it means to be Lutheran.

Doctrines and Trends

This is my biggest fear. That if the vigor of maintaining Lutheranism ever waned at Victory, that it too will fall the way of other WELS churches that seem to be caving in totally to the non-dom or emergent church model. It is sad enough to see some relatives fall away from the doctrinal soundness of the confessions, and forgoing the benefits of the sacraments, the dangers of decision theology, and focusing on all the sanctified living kind of thing of a Baptist non-dom but at least it is clear because it is a non-dom. You expect a kind of “feel good” church light in doctrine and heavy on goo when you think of that model. It is so much worse if a Lutheran church pretends to be Lutheran but in its essence is a non-dom. That is the sad part of what I have been observing more recently in some WELS experiments.

I think that a number of WELS churches and ministries are starting to cross the lines of Lutheranism. It is sad that we are not doing more to draw some lines in the sand. I have heard some sermons at some of the oft cited synod “bad boys” churches and have to admit they were poor. Basically more about sanctified living and vague gospel notions. No law…very light on the proclamation of the gospel work of Christ as a response to the preaching of the law. I think it is unfortunate these kinds of churches are not called on the carpet more often. There is no excuse for borrowing from other denominations for sermon series. There is no excuse for preaching a watered down message filled with sanctification and “goodness”. It is sad that a church who I think does traditional Lutheran music in a contemporary way probably the best as can be done, then blows it big time with a sermon that is filled with blehhh. However it’s not just the churches the WELS is cropping up all kinds of ministries…particularly on campuses…that if adopted to the WELS mainstream will put the confessional stance of the synod in serious jeopardy.

There is a particular debate that continues nearly non-stop regarding universal objective justification that I must say I have learned a lot about and definitely feel the synod should clean up its position on. Their statements on this doctrine are sloppy and misleading for some. I think most people like me who were confirmed 30 years ago (using the old brown KJV Luther’s catechism from days of yor ) the doctrine is clear and often in the debates we are all arguing for the same thing using different definitions for terms trying to find a way to make the current statement on justification from the WELS fit the doctrines we learned years ago. In this department I have appreciated the debate and the clarification of terms. I regret many of my statements of two years ago and I will say that I have grown a lot in this area. I have elected Joe Krohn to be my spokesman in this area and rarely need to add more.

To one degree I wonder what difference the minute distinctions being made effect the day-to-day life of the WELS churches as so far I have not seen a WELS church take the implications of a poor understanding of UOJ to the ultimate extreme warned about and illustrated in the Blogosphere. However I guess I do see it illustrated in what is loosely called a Lutheran (or even Christian) church, the ELCA. So whereas I don’t see the WELS sloppiness on the issue leading to such dire consequences…it is something to watch out for… just like those members who want to take the church the non-dom route. I guess as I read out there somewhere “What is the harm of clarifying this one up all nice and tidy?”

What does this sum up to? I am definitely a more cautious individual and I scrutinize a lot more. If I hear a song played in worship that reeks of sanctification I call it out. If a sermon is weak in law or gospel I make a note of it. I want to promote the sacraments more. I am studying a lot more and am more cautious about a blanket endorsement of all things contemporary. Restraint and respect for Lutheran doctrine are still necessary and even moreso today. We need to police ourselves better and resist the urge of ecumenism and doctrinal compromise. To undo the statement of Groeshel who said “we must do everything short of sinning to reach people.” I say not true as ignoring doctrine in order to reach people is not doing any Christian a service. So I guess when I use the term Confessional Crusader these days I don’t mean it with derision as I use to. I have found it is indeed something we need to keep close and study or indeed we will lose the truth restored to us at the reformation one little piece at a time.

A Niedfeldt Update

Ahhh…It has been a long time. However I am not writing this today to make any new commitments to blogging more. I doubt my current trend will improve. First and foremost is that I just don’t have the free time to blog. I do have time to ponder things but rarely have the time put them online. Work has been extremely busy the last year. I have also taken on some personal projects that take more free time out of my day.

My main “project” has been my personal health. On March 15th I restarted running after an abbreviated return to running in the fall of 2009 when I re-injured my Achilles (after partially tearing it in the spring of 2009) I ran in the mornings with the track team and added an additional run at night. In June I added biking to work. Followed by running at night. In July I started doing fun runs, and in August Duathlons. I also coach CC at St. Marcus and at HOPE High School to Mid-October. I bike about 120-140 miles a week. I run about 35 miles a week. I have a schedule of fun runs including two half marathons coming up for the winter. When I finally have to put the bike away for winter, I will keep running but will spend more time in the weight room. I have realized now that all the fat is gone that I actually have no upper body muscle. A big throw back to high school days for sure.

All this athletic training has taken up some time to be sure. However, the results have been dramatic. I have lost 66 pounds as of today. I am 4 pounds from my goal of getting to 170. I hope to have this goal accomplished by November 1st. I have changed my diet too to eliminate excessive fat and sugar. Nothing crazy, most of my diet is to avoid the obvious bad stuff and keep the portions in a reasonable amount. These results have been good too in that my cholesterol has dropped from 232 down to 178. My blood pressure is 109/66. My heart rate is 49. My BMI is 24 is in the middle of normal weight.

So now that the weight and health goals are close to where I want them, I have been focusing on the competition of running and the Duathlons (running and biking). I have been improving and placing in the top 10 percent of the races I’ve been in. My best official 5K time is 18:54 where I finished 26th out of 350, although I got 17:53 at the 3 mile mark of the Briggs and Al’s run last week. My best Duathlon has been 1:24:45 where I finished 37th out of 791 but I finished 9th overall last weekend at the Pewaukee Duathlon with a time of 1:10:44 on a smaller bike distance. My goals for next summer are to achieve under 30 minutes for 5 miles. 4:45 for one mile. And 1:17 for a 2/20/2 Duathlon.
The most recent family events have just been Zach being home for two weeks on leave after he completed a 1 month long exercise out at sea. It was a nice visit. He got his RX7 running again after being stored in the garage for two years. We got the turbo in the Volvo fixed from my epic vacation in June. My car had been sitting in the garage unused as I am on my bike for everything. That was a fun repair to do. He finally was able to do the engagement pictures with Chrissy. We also tested a restaurant for the rehearsal dinner. Although Chrissy is dealing with the brunt of the wedding planning, it is definitely a fun thing going on in our lives. I find it fun of course as my role is limited.

Kt is working full-time as a preK4 assistant teacher at a daycare center in Muskego. She works with Chrissy actually. It is a challenging job and Kt spends a lot of evenings napping to recover. She will be attending classes in the Spring semester as well working on early childhood education. Kt and her friend Bonnie are working on a plan to get an apartment together and live some adventures. Right now they are saving money and maybe by summer they will be able to execute their plan.

Ike has been taking to his virtual online high school. He has all A’s and a B right now. That’s a big deal!! He is also on pace and taking responsibility for his assignments. He has said he sort of misses having the social parts of school readily available to him like passing times, lunch, goofing off in study hall, etc.. However he says the education part of it is far better. He is filling in social time by visiting his various friends from various schools and packing it in on the weekends. He also likes being able to do school at night, weekends, stay up late sometimes, wake up at 9:00am or whenever basically. He can run and get a snack whenever he likes or even sit in a “lecture” in his underwear while chewing gum if he so chooses. Ike said the best part has been that he has the time he needs to complete all his assignments. Often his problems in the past were not a product of understanding but more a result of time limits. So far this has been a good thing. It does strip out a lot of the “nonsense” of school and focuses just on the education. There is no dealing with dress codes, tardies, unexcused absences, scheduling, computer labs, cell phone use, teacher access (in virtual school they are available 9 hours a day…and even longer by multiple methods such as email, text, or chat), etc. Even if he is “talking” in an online lecture through chat or voice when he is not supposed to…the teacher can simply disable him and voila …classroom is controlled. In General this choice seems to be working out very well.

So that will have to do for an update for now. Perhaps by Christmas I’ll have another one.