Luther Quote: We do nothing even when we do much

“We set forth two worlds, as it were, one of them heavenly and the other earthly. Into these we place these two kinds of righteousness, which are distinct and separated from each other. The righteousness of the Law is earthly and deals with earthly things; by it we perform good works. But as the earth does not bring forth fruit unless it has first been watered and made fruitful from above – for the earth cannot judge, renew, rule, and fructify the earth, so that it may do what the Lord has commanded – so also by the righteousness of the Law we do nothing even when we do much; we do not fulfill the Law even when we fulfill it. Without any merit or work of our own, we must first be justified by Christian righteousness, which has nothing to do with the righteousness of the Law or with earthly and active righteousness. But this righteousness is heavenly and passive. We do not have it of ourselves; we receive it from heaven. We do not perform it; we accept it by faith, through which we ascend beyond all laws and words. “As, therefore, we have borne the image of the earthly Adam,” as Paul says, “let us bear the image of the heavenly one” (1 Cor. 15:49), who is a new man in a new world, where there is no Law, no sin, no conscience, no death, but perfect joy, righteousness, grace, peace, life, salvation, and glory.”

-Luther’s Works. Volume 26. Lectures on Galatians. p. 8

The Greatest Scene in LotR

Quote

‘I don’t like anything here at all,’ said Frodo, ‘step or stone, breath or bone. Earth, air and water all seem accursed. But so our path is laid.’

‘Yes, that’s so,’ said Sam. ‘And we shouldn’t be here at all, if we’d known more about it before it started. But I suppose it’s often that way. The brave things in the old tales and songs, Mr. Frodo: adventures, as I used to call them. I used to think that they were things the wonderful folk of the stories went out and looked for, because they wanted them, because they were exciting and life was a bit dull, a kind of a sport, as you might say. But that’s not the way of it with the tales that really mattered, or the ones that stay in the mind. Folk seem to have been just landed in them, usually — their paths were laid that way, as you put it. But I expect that they had lots of chances, like us, of turning back, only they didn’t. And if they had, we shouldn’t know, because they’d have been forgotten. We hear about those as just went on – and not all at a good end, mind you; at least not to what folk inside a story and not outside it call a good end; at least not to what folk inside a story it call a good end. You know, coming home, and finding things all right, though not quite the same – like old Mr. Bilbo. But those aren’t always the best tales to hear, though they may be the best tales to get landed in! I wonder what sort of tale we’ve fallen into?’

‘I wonder’, said Frodo. ‘But I don’t know. And that’s the way of a real tale. Take any one that you’re fond of. You may know, or guess, what kind of a tale it is, happy-ending or sad-ending, but the people in don’t know. And you don’t want them to.”

‘No, sir, of course not. Beren now, he never thought he was going to get that Silmaril from the Iron Crown in Thangorodrim, and yet he did, and that was a worse place and a blacker danger than ours. But that’s a long tale, of course, and goes on past the happiness and into grief and beyond it – and the Silmaril went on and came to Eärendil. And, why, sir, I never thought of that before! We’ve got – you’ve got some of the light of it in that star-glass that the Lady gave you! Why, to think of it, we’re in the same tale still! It’s going on. Don’t great tales never end?’

‘No, they never end as tales,’ said Frodo, ‘But the people in them come, and go when their part’s ended. Our part will end later – or sooner.’

‘And then we can have a rest and some sleep,’ said Sam. He laughed grimly. ‘And I mean just that, Mr. Frodo. I mean plain ordinary rest, and sleep, and waking up to a morning’s work in the garden. I’m afraid that’s all I’m hoping for all the time. All the big important plans are not for my sort. Still, I wonder if we shall ever be put into songs or tales. We’re in one, of course; but I mean: put into words, you know, told by the fireside, or read out of a great book with red and black letters, years and years afterwards. And people will say: “Let’s hear about Frodo and the Ring!” And they’ll say: “Yes, that’s one of my favourite stories. Frodo was very brave, wasn’t he, dad?” “Yes, my boy, the famousest of the hobbits, and that’s saying a lot.”’

‘It’s saying a lot too much,’ said Frodo, and he laughed, a long clear laugh from his heart. Such a sound had not been heard in those places since Sauron came to Middle-earth. To Sam suddenly it seemed as if all the stones were listening and the tall rocks leaning over them. But Frodo did not heed them; he laughed again. ‘Why, Sam,’ he said, ‘to hear you somehow makes me as merry as if the story was already written. But you’ve left out one of the chief characters: Samwise the stouthearted. “I want to hear more about Sam, dad. Why didn’t they put in more of his talk, dad? That’s what I like, it makes me laugh. And Frodo wouldn’t have got far without Sam, would he, dad?”

‘Now Mr. Frodo,’ said Sam, ‘you shouldn’t make fun. I was serious.’

So was I,’ said Frodo, ‘and so I am. We’re going on a bit too fast. You and I, Sam, are still stuck in the worst places of the story, and it is all too likely that some will say at this point: “Shut the book now, dad; we don’t want to read any more.”‘

5 Easy Ways to be Respectful

showing-respect-picturesIt really surprises me that I have to write something like this, but I’ve been seeing it happen with increased frequency in my personal and professional circles. These are things which I strive to do and that annoy me when they aren’t done. Really, they are fairly easy ways to show respect to people who you work with or interact with on a regular basis.

  1. Show up on time. Actually on time. If you have an appointment set with someone at 3pm be ready to start the meeting at 3pm. You shouldn’t just pulling into the parking lot or walking in the door. Your coat should be off and any notes or resources ready to go. Same goes for when your workday starts. Same goes for when class starts whether your a teacher or student. But I understand that sometimes unexpected things come up which means you should….
  2. Call if you’re going to be late. Let whoever you’re meeting with know that you’re running a little late. Give them an idea of when you’re going to be there and if your idea ends up being wrong, call them again to let them know. You should call before your scheduled meeting time. If you’re scheduled to meet at 9:00 and you call at 9:01 they probably have a pretty good idea that you’re running late already. Give them a heads up. Give them an idea of when you’re going to be there.
  3. Respond to emails. This one really amazes me when it doesn’t happen. Most people are either sitting in front of their computer most of the work day or have their emails going directly to their phone. You should respond to emails within 24 hours of receiving them. If the email requires more time than you have to respond right now, let the sender know that and give them an idea of when you’ll be able to respond. (The exception to this is over weekends. If I send an email late Friday night, I generally won’t expect a response until Monday. I also try to catch up on any emails that I received over the weekend by lunch on Monday.)
  4. Don’t interrupt other people while they’re talking. Seriously. You were taught this since you learned to speak in sentences. It’s rude. It’s disrespectful. Don’t do it.
  5. Listen. The key to effective communication and productivity is listening. If your boss is giving you instructions as to what to do, listen and take notes. Don’t make them repeat it. If someone who usually doesn’t speak up during meetings starts to say something, make a conscious effort not to talk over them even though you weren’t expecting them to say anything. If someone is criticizing your work, don’t be quick to speak up and defend yourself. Listen to what they have to say, take it constructively, formulate a response and then respond.

So, there you have it, five ways to show respect to the people you work with and interact with regularly. If do these maybe those around you will start doing them too!

Facebook Problems

The video above is very good for the most part. You should watch it.

I’ve noticed more and more that the Facebook reach of posts on the pages that I manage, keeps getting smaller and smaller. On the Higher Things page we have just under 4,400 Likes. The average organic Facebook reach on the page is around 800 people. That’s less than 20% of people who have actively indicated that they like our content who actually see it. It is basically the same with the other pages that I manage. What’s up with that?

To be fair, Facebook posting on behalf of an organization is a giant marketing game. Pick the right times to post to maximize people that see it. Write engaging content so that people interact with it and it gets passed on to their friends who might not like your page. Not to mention Facebook making it even harder by weighing different types of posts differently. Pictures and plain text posts tend to get the most love from Facebook and appear in the most feeds.

While pictures might engage the user more, I can post the exact same thing that includes a link and if I don’t have the link embedded in the post it reaches a greater number of people than if the link is embedded. It’s about 12% more of the people who like the page.

I don’t think the trend among personal friends is that bad (yet!). If you make sure your feed shows you the most recent posts and you have selected to see all updates on a friend by friend basis you can still see most if not all of your friends posts if you so desire. But, as the video mentions, you can also pay to promote your own personal posts posts. So, who knows how long that will be the case.

I think my friend Stan touches on part of the problem in this post about the Demise of Posterous. When Facebook was created, it was really cool. But it didn’t have any way to make money to support it. They’ve tried to incorporate ways to make money by introducing ads and providing user’s information to companies to target ads toward them. They’ve allowed Pages to send ads targeted at specific groups of people. They allow users to pay to send gifts to people and other small strategies here and there. But none of it seems to work as well as they would like. The pressure to make money increased when Facebook became a publicly traded company.

So what do we, the Facebook users, do?

I think it will come down to one of two things:

1. The users revert to using Facebook the way I did before the introduction of the News Feed (introduced late-2006). I actively went to my friends profile pages to see new posts on their Wall. So we can still actively go to someone’s or some company’s Timeline and see everything that they post. This will leave lots of advertisers out of luck though.

2. (and perhaps the most likely) we find other places to keep in contact with our friends, family and favorite organizations. The decline in Facebook usage among high school students today should be very telling. Facebook isn’t cool anymore. It’s where teen’s parents and grandparents are. It’s where they are subjected to cat pictures, political arguments and advertisements. So, what I think will happen is that people will leave Facebook and go to other social media sites like Twitter, Tumblr, or Instagram where posts aren’t filtered (yet) by the service effectively telling their users what they want to see.

Recently. I have seen myself spending more time and posting on Twitter. (@jonkohlmeier) It will be interesting to see where this next age of social media takes us.

What are your thoughts? Is there any hope left for Facebook, or are we in the early stages of watching it kill itself?

When evening in the Shire was grey

Gandalf_and_frodoIt used to be that when I came across a song or a poem within a novel, I would just skip over it. Thankfully, that is no longer the case. In fact, the songs included in The Lord of the Rings are some of the most beautiful portions of the book.

When evening in the Shire was grey
his footsteps on the Hill were heard;
before the dawn he went away
on journey long without a word.

From Wilderland to Western shore,
form northern waste to southern hill
through dragon-lair and hidden door
and darkling woods he walked at will.

With Dwarves and Hobbits, Elves and Men,
with mortal and immortal folk,
with bird on bough and beast in den,
in their own secret tounges he spoke.

A deadly sword, a healing hand,
a back that bent beneath its load;
a trumpet-voice, a burning brand,
a weary pilgrim on the road.

A lord of wisdom throned he sat,
swift in anger, quick to laugh;
an old man in a battered hat
who leaned upon a thorny staff.

He stood upon the bridge alone
and Fire and Shadow both defied;
his staff was broken on the stone,
in Khazad-dûm his wisdom died.

Tolkien. The Lord of the Rings
Fellowship of the Ring. Book II Ch. VII.

Password Security

CIAOn December 3rd, the Information Security Company, Trustwave Holdings, published their findings of a massive data breach where hackers successfully stole about 2 million usernames and passwords. These credentials were stolen from more than 93,000 websites including many popular sites like:

• Facebook
• Google (Gmail, YouTube, Google+)
• Yahoo
• Twitter
• LinkedIn 
• ADP

This was announced just weeks after Adobe announced the data breach of e-mail addresses and passwords on their systems.

Why Should I Care?

Even if you aren’t worried about people accessing your personal data (name, address, banking information, etc.) that is kept on your computer or any of the websites you use, there are a couple reasons that you want to make your computer as secure as possible.

1. Your Computer Itself – The number one thing that hackers want is your computer. They link a bunch of computers together in what is called a botnet and use that botnet to attack more lucrative targets like Google or government data centers.

2. Your Contacts – You have access to many names and addresses in your contacts. To an attacker, these are other easy targets.

3. Organization Data – If an attacker is able to compromise your account they can gain access to your work database and other company data. There they can find more personal information of people on your servers, intellectual property, and most of the files that make things run smoothly in the organization.

What Can I Do?

There are several things that you can do to be more secure in your personal and work computing:

1. Change your passwords – Chances are that if you haven’t changed your password in over a year it has been compromised.

2. Use a unique password for each website on which you have an account – This protects you when your password files are taken from a website’s server. If the attacker gets your information from one site he doesn’t automatically have access to all of your other accounts if you are using unique passwords.

3. Use separate e-mail addresses for personal computing and work computing – In addition to that, use your work email address when you sign up for work related accounts and your personal email address when you sign up for personal accounts.

How Do I Create a Strong Password?

Strong passwords:

• Contain most or all of the following character classes:

o Lower-case letters
o Upper-case letters
o Numbers
o Punctuation
o “Special Characters” (e.g. @#$%^&*(){}[]/ etc.)

• Contain at least ten (10) characters.

• Do not contain a word found in a dictionary (English or foreign).

• Do not contain common usage words such as: o Names of family, pets, friends, co-workers, fantasy characters, etc.

o Birthdays, addresses, phone numbers, or other personal information.
o Any words or derivation of the company name.
o Any of the above spelled backwards.
o Any of the above preceded or followed by a digit (e.g. “password1”, “1password”).

How Am I Supposed to Remember Passwords Like That?

There are a couple ways to make remembering strong passwords a little easier.

1. Create passwords that can easily be remembered. One way to do this is to create a password based on the first line of your favorite song, poem, book, etc. For example, the phrase might be: “A Mighty Fortress is our God” (LSB 656). The password could then be “@mfioG#656”, “AMFioG-LSB656”, or some other variation.

(Note: Do not use either of the above examples as a password!) 

2. Use a Password Vault – There are services like LastPass and 1Password that will generate strong random passwords for each account that you have and keep them in an encrypted vault that you gain access to with a single strong password.

Information Security is an ongoing and evolving task. The above suggestions are just the beginning steps to take in the fight against hackers and other cyber-attackers. By using strong and unique passwords you begin your task in being more secure in your personal computing and help to protect the confidentiality, integrity and availability of digital resources that you have access to.

Fridays

cslewis-pipeI woke up this morning wondering why everyone thinks Fridays are so awesome. It’s harder to wake up in the morning, especially when it’s still dark as night outside. Work seems to take forever. By the time you get home you’re exhausted. On Mondays I’m usually well rested and the most productive.

Then I looked out the window and saw snow on the ground! I also remembered that today is the anniversary of the death of C.S. Lewis (one of my favorite authors) so there will be all sorts of quotes and articles remembering and celebrating his works and life throughout the day.

And now it’s time to enjoy a fresh, hot cup of coffee. It’s the little things.

So, yeah. Fridays are awesome. At least this one is so far.

What’s in a name?

…that which we call a rose
by any other name would smell as sweet.

whatsinanameRoses smell the same. Bloggers blog the same. But as the young Montague and Capulet realized the hard way, names do mean something.

My name Jonathan Daniel Kohlmeier means “gift of God – God is my judge – cabbage farmer.”

The name of this blog has always had meaning. When it was first created back in 2006 the name was “Libertatum.” A couple years later it changed to Monk of Mequon said something about me. Then my location changed and Monk of Milwaukee has been the name for the last nearly 4 years.

Since my last post, I was offered a job in the Iowa East District Office, I accepted that job, moved to Iowa, and started my first full time job. So, Monk of Milwaukee no longer fits.

Now I have a couple choices. I live in Hiawatha and work in Marion. So my first instinct is to change the name to Monk of Hiawatha. In order to keep the alliteration Monk of Marion is also an option.

The third choice is to come up with a new name all together.

Same blog… new name coming soon.

But what is the name?

Not the Future, but the Church!

back-to-the-futureIt’s heard a lot around youth events or at confirmations and graduations. “You are the future of the Church,” the youth are told. Observers say, “this is the future of the church,” or “I’m no longer worried about the future of the church.” Add to that the trend of having High School worship services, where the high school youth go to one service and everyone else goes to another, and the impression is given that they aren’t really the Church at all, they are their own separate community.

That’s simply not true. The youth aren’t the future of the church and they aren’t a separate church.

They are the Church. 

Why? 

Because Christ has died for them. They have been baptized into Christ’s death and resurrection. They need the same Jesus as adults. They need to receive the same forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation as their parents. They need to be rescued from sin, death and the devil just like everyone else!

The youth of the church are intelligent. Talk with them and see that they have probably thought through things more deeply or more analytically then their adult counterparts. The church’s youth can apply Law and Gospel to things many people haven’t even considered. They know that they don’t know everything yet. So they hunger for more knowledge, more hymnody, more baptism, more Lord’s Supper, more Jesus!

Youth are the Church, but they aren’t the only ones. Their parents and grandparents are the church. The 80 and 90+ year old homebound members are the Church. The young children who escape their parents and their pews on Sunday morning are the Church. Even the infant who makes a joyful noise by screaming and squealing during pastor’s sermon is the Church.

The Church is composed of the young and old alike who receive the gifts of the Lord in Word and Sacrament. The future of the Church rests not in the hands of a portion of the Church, but in the death and resurrection of Christ.

10 “For thus says the Lord: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. 11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. 13 You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.

- Jeremiah 29

Tolkien Quote: Death and Deathlessness

Quote

But I should say, if asked, the tale is not really about Power and Dominion: that only sets the wheels going; it is about Death and the desire for deathlessness. Which is hardly more than to say it is a tale written by a Man!
 
 
 
-Tolkien, J. R. R. Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien. #203. To Herbert Schiro. 17 November 1957