Tuesday, October 5, 2021
Tuesday, September 28, 2021
Click here for the entire Powerpoint Deck on Google Drive: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1UWEWVgaSw_anwYLC3ZdckT7lcVQOM0kO/edit?usp=sharing&ouid=110624967174873690415&rtpof=true&sd=true
Wiles will bring you hope and a laugh as he guides you through simple effective website platforms and the “must-haves” for your church’s online identity.
Worst Websites! You have got to see these!
Bad church site: http://www.jesus-is-savior.com/
Bad Non Profit Website: https://www.art.yale.edu
Bad Business Website: https://www.lingscars.com
Worst Navigating Site & Mobile: https://arngren.net
CofC Networks Polled
Harding’s Preacher Stuff: DWilliams@Harding.edu
Facebook Private Group: Compadres
· 39% - Wordpress
· 11% - Squarespace
· 8% - Cloversites
· 5% - Wix
· 5% - Weebly
· 5% - Congregate
- 5% - Dreamweaver
Legit Book Resources
Available on Amazon for Kindle Download
by Brian Jaeger in 2015
By Lisa Sabin-Wilson in 2019
by David Karlins in
Web Design Platforms and Content Management Systems
Topher’s Other Tech Tools
• Sharefaith.com – Website, Graphics, Giving, Curriculum, App
• Text-em-all.com – Mass Texting & Phone Calling
• InstantChurchDirectory.com – I found out about it at Harding Lectureships 2015!
• Buffer.com – Post to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest
• Boxcast.com – Livestreaming Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Roku, Amazon Fire, Apple TV
Tuesday, August 31, 2021
|Junior Evan Ferris leads freshman |
Gabriel Wiles in dynamic stretching
|Senior Abigail Welch gives starting|
line encouragement to freshman
Gabriel Wiles, senior Dean Limper,
& junior Evan Ferris
|Junior Evan Ferris|
|Senior Dean Limper|
|The ladies get ready for the starting line: sophomore|
McKenzie Tuck, senior Abigail Welch, freshman
Breanna Powell, freshman Poppy Shank, and
freshman Luci McKee.
(Photo Credit: Crissy Shank)
|There were about 1000 runners in this race!|
Tuesday, August 3, 2021
by: Topher Wiles
It’s really easy to get caught focusing on the gold, silver, and bronze medals decorating the elite at the Olympic games. Take a good look at the medals coming out of Tokyo this year. They are a marvel of intricate metal machine work with ribbons of chemically recycled polyester fibres and hardwood cases. Obviously a lot of thought and care has gone into the metal tradition that was started in 1896 at the Athens games. (Click this for more info and a 1 minute Youtube video.)
|(photo from Olympics.com)|
"Charge our chariots strong & sturdy.
Vanquish without any mercy
Enemies of our valiant army
And give to us a divine glory
Furnished with medallions & jewelry
Everything that is worldly
Is only ours by your decree
We worship thee on bended knee."
The Goddess Nike is an ancient tradition of war & games victory which lacks mercy & compassion. It’s an interesting modern choice for the medals at the largest worldwide competition existing today because so few believe in the ancient Greek pantheon. "Hellenism" may have as many as 2,000 legitimate adherents today according to archeology.com, and Nike isn't even one of the twelve main gods/goddesses worshipped in Greek culture. (http://archive.archaeology.org/0501/abstracts/letter.html)
Why has the world kept this tradition rather than honoring a diety that much of the world follows today? Why not make the medal symbol one of the Jesus, since approximately 32% (2.4 billion) of the world claims Christianity as it's religion? He also symbolizes victory and peace at the same time. I surmise choosing to honor Christ on the Olympic medal could usher in boycotts from the world's 1.8 billion Muslims, or 1.1 billion Hindi's, or 1.2 billion unaffiliated. The Olympic committee would likely be unwilling to alienate so many using an Olympic symbol from a modern religion, even if it did promote more better the Olympic mission (to build a peaceful and better world) than NIKE. (https://olympics.com/ioc/beyond-the-games)
Perhaps we should focus more of our time and attention on the people on whom the medals hang rather than the image on the prestigious medals themselves. I’m so grateful for Olympic medal winners such as Caeleb Dressel (attends Campus Church of Christ, Gainesville, FL) who chose not to honor and thank goddess Nike for his wins and abilities, but chose to honor God for the opportunity to represent Him to the world. Consider how much more merciful our God is than that of Nike, as evidenced in this prayer, recited by 2016 Rio Olympian Sarah Scherer whenever she gets nervous.
"Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil." - Matthew 6:9-13 ESV
The symbol on the prestigious medals may not be anything we want to model our lives after, but some of the people are worthwhile examples of faithful and compassionate victors on the world’s greatest sporting stage. May we give the God of victory and compassion all the honor & praise for the triumphs of the athletes and for our triumphs as well.
To follow more believers in Tokyo, consider reading in The Gospel Coalition’s about Sydney McLaughlin, Kyle Snyder, Helen Maroulis, Micah Christenson, Michael Andrew, and Melissa Gonzalez. https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/christian-athletes-tokyo-olympics/
Tuesday, July 6, 2021
by: Topher Wiles
How many of you were like us? I thought that we would tie the proverbial knot, carry Ashley over the threshold, and as the fair tales say, “live happily ever after?” We dated for two years, were engaged for one, and had a beautiful wedding. Now after 17 years of marital ups and downs, we discovered that a good marriage is so much more than a loving feeling, a lavish ceremony, and having a lot in common. I wish we had gone through some sort of organized premarital counseling.
If we’re being truthful with ourselves, that whole “till death do us part” in the marriage vows is increasingly ironic. According to Les & Leslie Parrot (authors of “Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts”) things are changing. In the 1930s, one out of seven marriages ended in divorce. In the 1960s, it was one out of four. On survivedivorce.com, that figure is now around 40 percent of marriages today ending in divorce. That tells us that so many couples toss the bouquet, return the tuxedos, and assume they’re heading for marital bliss while their ship is really sailing toward wedded disaster.
We believe God has more in store for your family forte than what our current culture provides.
Here at Central Church of Christ, we believe God has set the standard on what a loving relationship is and we are preparing ourselves to help members in the community get ready for the best marital relationship possible. That’s why I and others at our church have gotten certified to offer pre-marital counseling through the SYMBIS (Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts) system to our community. This 30 minute pre-marital assessment tool and five accompanying counseling sessions are designed to give couples the following: healthy expectations of marriage, a realistic concept of love, a positive attitude and outlook toward married life, a better way to communicate feelings, an understanding of gender differences, the ability to make decisions and settle arguments, a common spiritual foundation, and a deep and abiding commitment to the bonds of marriage together. This is the broader concept of what invincible love looks like day-in and day-out in a marriage.
It doesn’t matter if you go to church or not, you are welcome to enjoy premarital counseling with us at Central Church of Christ as we strive to strengthen families in our community through the SYMBIS assessment and premarital counseling. If you’d like to learn more about marriage and more, just contact me, Topher, at firstname.lastname@example.org or call our office at 931-836-2874.
Marriage doesn’t have to be a gamble. Your lifelong partner is better than a roll of the dice. Your marriage can be better prepared to weather the storms that will come. You can enjoy “invincible love.” We’re here to help.
Hang my locket around your neck, wear my ring on your finger. Love is invincible facing danger and death. Passion laughs at the terrors of hell. The fire of love stops at nothing— it sweeps everything before it. Flood waters can’t drown love, torrents of rain can’t put it out. – Song of Songs 8:6-7
Tuesday, June 8, 2021
By: Topher Wiles
Instead offering my own marriage experience for your inspiration, I want to share with you thoughts on marriage that inspire me from a collection of letters from another's extraordinary life. Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German protestant minister who wrote from prison before his 1945 execution at the hands of Hitler's Nazis. On May 15th, 1943, approximately 6 weeks after his arrest and missing the wedding ceremony of close friends due to being held in prison, Dietrich wrote these thoughts on marriage to the newlyweds.
Today, I find Dietrich Bonhoeffer's letter writings on marriage from a Nazi prison to be refreshing and empowering. I believe the modern view marriage has often been reduced to an extravagant party or a temporary civil union. Bonhoeffer’s marital declaration bolsters my resolve to care for the marriage God has given me with my wife. It reminds me of my marriage's purpose as a practical use in humanity but also as an example of God's designs for others. Bonhoeffer's writings echo the strong sentiments of scripture about marriage such as these writings from other letters:
"For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband." - Ephesians 5:31-33
If we can help you strengthen your family by encouraging your
marriage relationship, offering marital resources, or by praying for you to our
God, please let us know. May your family
be blessed with fortitude through marriage!
Tuesday, June 1, 2021
by: Topher Wiles
Sweat was dripping everywhere from my aching body as my legs screamed at me. Then, the cheering erupted. High fives and hugs dominated the moment as the gracious volunteer hung the heavy metal around my neck and wrapped me in a “space blanket” on that cold December day. My feet felt like weighty concrete but my heart was as light as a feather.
Perhaps it was the five caffeine laced gelpacks I consumed in my four hour 26.2 mile marathon run that kept my heart racing. Maybe my heart was light because, unlike the first unfortunate marathoner who died after his run, I knew had successfully survived the brutal assault on mind and body. It’s possible that the light feeling was the result of the St. Jude’s cancer patients and survivors showing signs in the last mileage that read, “You’re doing this race for me!” Yet, I believe the biggest motivator was the accolades and praises of my training coach that made my runner’s high continue from the Memphis St. Jude’s Marathon all the way home.
Sure, Tough Mudders were a blast, half-marathons were fun, and sprinting 5k’s to a gold medal win was exciting, but they weren’t the same as that Marathon with Don. My friend Don was at least 10 years my senior and has run in the Boston marathon, which means he is a high level runner. His wife was also a cross country coach while he raised four cross country running kids. This guy knew how to train me to run a marathon. Back in the day when I would proclaim, “I’m not a runner and I don’t like to run,” Don took me under his wing and educated me on all things running. I still don’t like to run, but I’m a proud runner today because Don’s patient training pulled me along to the prize and that amazing runner’s high.
Don’s secret training methods weren’t about buying Eliud Kipchoge’s record breaking shoes or the latest breakout training routine. Don simply pulled me along and encouraged me every step of the way. For months he texted me frequently to coordinate running schedules together. He helped me rehab through injuries and gently corrected my form offering little tips along our journey together. During the long runs, when Don could tell my body was starting to give up, my training partner would always run two steps ahead of me, shielding me from the headwind, pacing me with his time, and constantly encouraging me with his words. Even during the race, Don would pull just a couple steps ahead of me, challenging me to quicken my pace all until the last half mile, when he shifted behind me encouraging me to take the lead and the photo finish glory in the home stretch. I was ecstatic crossing the finish line because I had reached not only my goals but I made my training coach proud.
After multiple races totaling hundreds of miles since my marathon run of 2014, I’ve only been able to duplicate that runner’s high feeling a couple times, with one happening a few weeks ago. That lighthearted feeling lasted all day after the race and well into the week, except this time, it was me who crossed the finish line a half step behind a runner. My son, Gabriel (8th grade), had never run more than a 5 miler before he expressed interest in running the Sawbriar half-marathon in Jamestown, TN. I was worried about whether or not a 14 year old could accomplish this extensive distance, considering there just aren’t any real middle school cross-country options nearby to train him. So every week I monitored Gabriel and his progress while sharing little tips that I have learned in my years of running. When we ran together on long runs, Gabriel was silently conserving every breath for his lungs and legs while I chattered away about life, running, and God to keep his mind from focusing on his aching legs and burning lungs.
On race day Gabriel was visibly nervous about his first ever 13.1 mile race, especially since it was rainy and cold, but our prayer together with church elder Ty Webb at the starting line lowered his heart rate and helped set the stage for one of his biggest achievements in pursuit to date. Like my training coach had done for me years ago, I stayed two steps ahead for the first 12.5 miles. Then, as we sprinted to the finish line, my smile lengthened and my heart skipped a beat as I watched Gabriel out run me by a half step, accepting the cheers, hugs, and high fives of family and friends. My achievement in the Sawbriar Half was not my personal record, but I finally duplicated that amazing runner’s high of 2014 as Gabriel lifted his award for first place in the under 18 division.
Friends, we may not all be called to run the road, but we are called in this life to be like a training coach like Don, patiently pulling other people to the prize. You may be called to focus on your family as you help a child set and reach their goals in family, education, or their career. Your calling may be toward a young person at church as you pull, train, and cheer them to reaching spiritual milestones. A struggling family in the community may be your aim as you patiently guide them through the trials of life. Whoever it is, remember that reaching those same milestones you’ve already eclipsed takes patient time in training, helpful and positive tips from your experience, and a lot of encouragement along the way. There are few greater joys than helping others succeed.
Now, who are you going to patiently pull to the prize?
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” – Hebrews 12:1
Tuesday, May 18, 2021
By: Topher Wiles
It’s not just teenagers that get a thrill from watching the number by the flame grow day by day. People of all ages enjoy the feature that Snapchat has dubbed “streaks”. A 2017 Business Insider article gives us this information on a Snapchat streak. “A Snapchat streak is when you send direct snaps back and forth with a friend for several consecutive days. The longer you go without breaking the chain of communication, the longer your streak is. Snapchat rewards longer streaks with special emojis, such as the ‘100’ emoji for streaks lasting 100 days, or a mountain emoji for an extremely long streak. Many teens (and adults I know) invest an inordinate amount of time keeping streaks alive. There's nothing more devastating than losing a streak you've put months of work into.” 1 (see endnotes)
I have an adult friend who surprised me one day stating, “I have a couple streaks that are over 400 days long.” That means they’ve snapped someone on their phone every day for over a year straight. As for me, I’ve explored streaks as I’ve tried to learn more about the opportunities and pitfalls of this social media messaging platform that more of our church members are using. My longest streak was 76 days, a paltry number compared to the record that suntrics.com has listed as of May 2021. That record is considered to be 2165 consecutive days and counting.2 Can you believe that Ally Zaino and Kait Bruneau have sent messages to each other every day for nearly 6 years? That’s almost as long as the streak was introduced on April 6th, 2015.
Snapchat streakers feel strong emotions when considering losing their streaks, as if they are losing a tangible commodity that they’ve worked hard for or losing an actual relationship with a friend. I know anxiety rides high for some Snapchat Streakers when friends don’t snap back in a timely fashion, threatening to reset that precious streak number to zero.
Yet, I think it is entirely healthy to break a Snapchat streak. We aren’t designed to be tethered 365 days a year to our cell phones.
One of the events that recently broke my Snapchat streaks was a camping trip with the boys to Standing Stone State Park. It had beautiful trails, overlooks, a gorgeous old dam releasing water from the lake, streams to cross, tennis courts, and a live little scorpion found in a campsite by a neighboring camper. Standing Stone was a delightful bliss of a two day getaway for my three sons and I. The park had everything we needed. What it didn’t have was cellphone reception on my network or accessible wifi from the campsite. I was completely unplugged from the communications world, tuned into enjoying the outdoors with Gabriel, Ethan, and Micah, and I loved it. From the smiles and laughs as we sat at the Dairy Queen in Livingston rehashing our highlights from the trip while downing delicious Blizzards, I’d say the boys were glad I unplugged as well.
Sadly, I’m one of those people who stay connected as my cell phone serves as my Bible, prayer list, note taking device, to-do list, calendar, and communications hub. The boys and I were taking guesses as to how many notifications I would receive at the end of the two day camping trip when I reached cell signal again. Gabriel won as my 2-day notification tally sent my cell phone into a vibrating spastic seizure surpassing 300 alerts from social media platforms, text messages, and emails. Many of you are like me, tied to your cell phone with constant communications and uses. Many of us are even addicted to our smart phones, Facebook feeds, and Snapchat Streaks. Take a look at some of the information on smartphone addiction from disturbmenot.co.
“Nomophobia is the official term for smartphone addiction—a rising issue in modern society among both the young and the old.
· 66.53% of the world’s population has a mobile device.
· People tap, swipe, and click an average of 2,617 times per day.
· iPhone users unlock their phones an average of 80 times per day.
· Users spend an average of 2 hours and 51 minutes a day on their smartphones.
· 26% of car accidents are caused by smartphone usage.
· 52% of American teens want to take steps to cut back on their use of smartphones.”3
Over half of American teens would like to cut back that smartphone usage, yet features like the Snapchat Streak count, Facebook Like, Instagram Heart, and Twitter Re-tweet are designed to keep us plugged in and addicted. I recommend looking up the adverse effects of cell phone addictions that are listed on numerous websites, such as psychguides.com. I won’t go into detail here, but I was surprised to read that male infertility, neck strain, OCD, and depression are among issues connected with cellphone over-usage.4
For our family’s strength, health, and relationships, I believe we need to encourage each other to break the Snapchat streaks, because being connected to your cellphone daily for 6+ years is going to have net negative consequences. While it won’t be popular with those addicted, especially teens, (it may potentially induce short term anxiety, irritation, and restlessness) breaking cell phone streaks and addictions needs to happen from time to time for us to rest and focus on the highest priorities in life. Take a camping trip with your kids, go on a cruise with your friends, or declare a “no-cell phone” weekend in your house while you read actual books and do things that make you feel good. Enjoy distraction free time together as a family and focus on God’s blessings around you. My streaks are broken, and I’ve been set free. Consider how you can enjoy freedom with your family too.
“For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.” – Isaiah 55:12
|Check out that little scorpion from Standing Stone!|