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Friday, February 11, 2011

The reality of Virtual Relationships
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“And before you say 'ahhhh' with that glint in your eye, let me hasten and add that online chat is not a lonely hearts club for frivolous banter and sex talk in the virtual town. It's a tool for reaching out to like-minded people across the world and bonding with them. It’s about wiring up people with common likes, interests and attitudes into a global communion.”
-  Shabina Kaur[1]

We need to connect with others!

That need leads us to spend time in the activity of communicating with others but there is a new intruder on the scene in this ever increasingly complex activity, it’s a computer mediated conversation and stimulator.


Today, as you searched for this blog, you are no longer in a world where you are totally in control, although the computer wiz kid’s would tell you differently!

We search for information and the information we receive is not always of the moral and ethical value that we want, that’s why there is an increasing need to have an inner guide that helps us decide what is of value and what is not.


This week I was horrified to find a cleverly worded email take in many of my Christian friends (including my own wife) in such a way as to mock Christians, but the average Christian would pass it on unsuspectingly, helping this scientific wiz kid get a laugh out of having Christians mock themselves!

Horrible actually!

Worse is the drugless addiction of online participation in gaming communities, chat lines, and social networks. Hours of “free” time are squandered with no thought as to the value they represent, or whether these activities build ourselves, others, or contribute to the world. If we do realize it, we often seem inable to do anything about it. We don't put God in control, we allow electronic control of our life!

Now don’t get me wrong, I am more computer savvy than most, spend many hours each week in these very activities, but I do evaluate the worth of my time in the relationships I build online.

I try to ensure it is with real people, people like yourself, people who matter to me, people who I pray for, people who have real needs and where the virtual world is providing real support and value into their lives. At least I hope it is!

The computer is a tool, a powerful tool! It has moved from business, into our homes, and now sits in our pockets in the form of our iPhones and smart phones. Texting is a continual stream of touching base with friends, family and, now via twitter, our public.


As a Christian, we must be sure that we choose wisely. We need to pray about what we select to do online, ask forgiveness for our excesses, and avoid inappropriate content.


Because the virtual world is so intrusive, and it adapts to our wants so easily, it captures our time and even emotions. Games, and online movies (which become more interactive every day) can absorb time and allow us to sinfully escape God’s purpose for our lives. These have little value in human terms and are generally a selfish consumption of time we are meant to spend in real relationships with others. An easy trap for the unwary! Particularly for that socially awkward person who is particularly vulnerable.

We need to face our fears with the power of Holy Spirit in our lives, not feed our addictions and fail ourselves further! We need Godly courage to live well.

I guess what I am saying is it comes down to balance!
The balance of having God in our lives directing all aspects of what we do. That includes our online, virtual activities!

Today, how about we evaluate how much of our online activity is Godly?

Then we can chat to God about how we can be more careful to be right in our relationship with God, ourselves and others online.


I want to be a good online citizen, what do you want to do virtually?

How often do you point people in the direction of good virtual content and relationships and limit the bad?


Today I want to help people make good choices, what about you?
Fri, February 11, 2011 | link          Comments

Thursday, February 10, 2011

I can’t tell you that you’re a sinner, but I know that sometimes I am!






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Many great people have commented on this theme:

An industrious sinner I much prefer to a lazy saint. - Sophie Kerr


Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future. -
Oscar Wilde

Be a sinner and sin strongly, but more strongly have faith and rejoice in Christ. -
Martin Luther

Saint: A dead sinner revised and edited. -
Ambrose Bierce

Don’t we dislike people point at others listing the selfish, ignorant, nasty, and stupid things others do, but hardly ever considering the fact we ALL do these things at one time or another?

Yesterday I picked up a cartoon pamphlet that was discarded on a shelf in the men’s washroom. It got me thinking!


It started out by asking if I thought I was a good person?

Considering this, I found I couldn’t really answer immediately!

Was I able to judge myself? Should I be able to judge myself? Would my saying I was good be even close to the truth? I know how many stupid, selfish, ignorant and nasty things I have done in the past!


However, I know Jesus clears all that away by his immense love and sacrifice, so I guess that makes me good, but all I have done is accept a gift, nothing more, so does that really make ME good. Jesus is good, but me?


These thoughts all flashed by in an instant!  Are we good?


What do you think of I wonder…


This pamphlet then asked if I keep the ten commandments. I thought I did!

Then it asked if I have ever lied. Yes! So I have broken that commandment not to lie at some point in time. Strike one!

Did I ever use God’s name as an exclamation at some point in my life? (like at another driver in a traffic situation!) Well a long time back, but I had done this, so that this was strike two. I had blasphemed!

Then the pamphlet asked if I had ever looked a women other than my wife and had an inappropriate thought? How dare it be so forthright! :) (I had!) Jesus says “Matthew 5:28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”


No getting past that one because a commandment is don’t commit adultery. Well there went strike three!


By now I was sure I was not good, but then the pamphlet pointed out we all screw up and that’s not the important part, it’s what we do once we know we have an option to make it better that counts.


Once we know Jesus died to pay for our screw ups, and that all we need to do is ask to be included in the pardon, then we can switch from the “I’m screwed” to “I’m pardoned and can be considered good” mode!


This is not really all there is to it, because once we get this gift and the relief it gives us, then we start all over again don’t we?

One of the most common screw ups is to look at others who say they are good and telling them they aren’t good and arn't doing it right!


We LOVE pointing fingers at others, don’t we?

The problem is that we are all in the process of moving towards improved living with God, and NONE of us is there yet.


How can I dare to tell another they are out of line when I don’t have the full picture to know how out of line I may be! Isn’t a a bit of the case of the blind leading the blind?


Really we need to love others with God’s love and let God deal with them at the right moment! They think they know where they are and God does know. I don’t really want to add complexity by thinking I know, do you?


This is why I think Jesus encourages us to forgive and love! No one is perfect except Jesus so we are all blind. When I lead another blind person I want to be sure they know I am blind as well. That way we can both cling to the only sighted person we know.


Today I want to have Jesus lead the way and I want to hold my friends close to me, sinners or not, we all need to have Jesus’ power to be successful today!
  
Thu, February 10, 2011 | link          Comments

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Did Albert Einstein believe Jesus existed as a real person?
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Asked of Einstein :
"You accept the historical existence of Jesus?"

His answer : "
Unquestionably. No one can read the Gospels without feeling the actual presence of Jesus. His personality pulsates in every word. No myth is filled with such life. How different, for instance, is the impression which we receive from an account of legendary heroes of antiquity like Theseus. Theseus and other heroes of his type lack the authentic vitality of Jesus."



"No man," Einstein replied, "can deny the fact that Jesus existed, nor that his sayings are beautiful. Even if some them have been said before, no one has expressed them so divinely as he."
[1]

 
Faced with truth we all have choices don’t we?

Some of us ignore it, others try to refute it and yet others accept it and do nothing with it.


A few, very few accept it and act on it!

These few are set apart from the others and lead our world in new and creative ways.

The question we each need to ask is what type of person are we?


It all really comes down to those that accept truth and act on it and those that don’t!

If you are interested in what Einstein said about religion there is quite a good site called
http://einsteinandreligion.com/ and I will be quoting material from this site in this blog. The reason I am focusing on this subject, is that yesterday one of these emails that argue for religion came across my screen, and at the end, it said it came from a paper Einstein vs. Science.

It didn’t!

It was in fact a poor reflection on good scientists, and very biased in the writing towards Christianity. Far too biased, to the extent that it mis-quoted good science and so in the end all it said was a lie, rather than the truth.

This is not good for Christianity because we are to always speak truth if at all possible.

Now if we don’t know something isn’t true then we may find such an article interesting. I need to set the record straight, the arguments and interactions in the article that were purportedly from scientists showed a misuse of science that Einstein would never have allowed.

Einstein had a focus on three things that he used as guiding lights in his life and unfortunately God was not one of them. Einstein’s beacons of light were Good, Truth and the Beauty of humanity!

These are great guides, and Einstein never says God does not exist, all he says is

The most beautiful and deepest experience a man can have is the sense of the mysterious. It is the underlying principle of religion as well as all serious endeavor in art and science. He who never had this experience seems to me, if not dead, then at least blind. To sense that behind anything that can be experienced there is a something that our mind cannot grasp and whose beauty and sublimity reaches us only indirectly and as a feeble reflection, this is religiousness.

In this sense I am religious. To me it suffices to wonder at these secrets and to attempt humbly to grasp with my mind a mere image of the lofty structure of all that there is.
[2]

So Einstein never subscribed to a specific personal God, but acknowledges there is more to nature than pure chance, and in so doing could be labeled as a agnostic. Agnostics are people who believe there is a God but fail to connect with that God!

Sad really!

One of the greatest minds this world has even known, one who acknowledges the mind cannot grasp the beauty and complexities of God’s creation, and a mind that could not submit to connecting with God. He failed, not because he failed to have faith, or think it important, but he fails in humilty. He fights for the right to have faith saying

“Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind


as quoted by his friend Abraham Pais.

So, he fails in being humble and submitting to this God! Except for this one critical failing he is a great man!

How much our scientists of today could learn from this man!

Einstein had faith that God’s creation, nature, was full of important laws to be discovered.

This has driven scientists over the many centuries since science was born (okay maybe only a few centuries, since science is rather a young child).

It also drives many of of our scientists, that are Christian, today!

Abraham Pais also points out Einstein said “Subtle is the Lord, but malicious He is not" and “Nature hides her secret because of her essential loftiness, but not by means of ruse."

So Einstein did love God’s creation and he stated God was not malicious.

Einstein also stated that science cannot prove the existence or non-existence of God.

Einstein understood there are human qualities that were outside logic and knowledge that drives us towards improving our world and it’s beauty.

He even went as far as pointing out Jesus is no myth!

However, like Gandhi and others, he failed to take that simple step of submitting to Jesus.

How proud we can be sometimes, right?

Perhaps great minds fail in the simple humility of submission, unable to allow a power greater than themselves to rule their lives. Reason locks their mind up, and keeps them from facing truth and using it! Perhaps because it is not provable!

Perhaps that’s why Jesus says, “Luke 18:7-50 (NIV ©2010)

And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?

We are enabled to approach God by faith, not fact. Facts point out God is there, Faith moves us into his arms!

Do you have Fact or Faith?

It is best to have Truth, Goodness, Beauty of humanity as well as Fact and Faith! These are not exclusive items!

Here we can know truth and act on it! We can have our cake and eat it! All it takes is faith! Do you have it?

Do you want to have your slice of this cake and eat it?


[1] What Life Means to Einstein: An Interview by George Sylvester Viereck,"The Saturday Evening Post, Oct. 26, 1929, p. 17.  

[2] Excerpts from ar a speech by Albert Einstein to the German League of Human Rights, Berlin, in the autumn of 1932 in the Appendix of White and Gribbon p. 262 as quoted on http://einsteinandreligion.com/credo.html

Wed, February 9, 2011 | link          Comments

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Feast of Unleavened Bread [part one] and where that bread was baked
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The Feast of Unleavened Bread, called the Passover, was near. The chief priests and the teachers of the law were looking for a way to get rid of Jesus. They were afraid of the people.
Luke 22:1 NIRV

Bread biblically always refers to a group of people when used symbolically!

Originally in the ancient days it was found in the tabernacle on a table called the altar of shewbread and each loaf represented one tribe. (see previous blogs)

Then in the first century Jesus was referred to as the bread of life and what is even more amazing, he was born in Bethlehem, which if broken into it’s Jewish word components, Beth means house and lechem means bread!

So Jesus was born in a place called the house of bread!


Isn’t that amazing?


Now let’s look at this a bit deeper. In a book called "the feasts of the Lord", a Christian rabbi, Hans Vanderwerff, explains that Jesus was born without sin because he did not have a natural father. He was created in Mary’s womb. Mary was a virgin!


[By the way I need to let you know so as to counter mis-information by guys like Bill Maher, the bible does say Mary was a virgin, and angel says to Joseph her husband

“All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:  ‘The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel’ (which means ‘God with us’).” Matthew 1:22-23

]


Okay so Jesus was without sin! Sin is linked to yeast when people spoke about bread in those days. Jesus being without sin and being refered to as the bread of life, would have been more correctly referred to as the unleaven bread of life!



Okay, so when was this feast of unleaven bread? (or translated, the feast of Jesus)



Well the bible records the following

“On the fifteenth day of that month the LORD’s Festival of Unleavened Bread begins; for seven days you must eat bread made without yeast. On the first day hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work. For seven days present a food offering to the LORD. And on the seventh day hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work.’” Leviticus 23:6-8



So the first  day is a sacred assembly and so was a special Sabbath.

It is surmised that in the year Jesus died this Sabbath fell on the fifth day of the week on the first month. i.e. a Thursday! Since the regular Sabbath was a Saturday, there was a day between the two days, the Friday. This is important to understanding some of the bible statements and predictions but I will not go into that here! I have written about it in the apst and will do so again in the future :)



Also, notice that there was seven days in the feast. Seven is an important number in the biblical perspective signifying perfection.

The Feast started at sunset and was celebrated at the start by the passover meal, and I have written lots about how that was celebrated.

So Jesus’ last supper was the start of this celebration. This was one of the feasts when all men were expected to come to teh city of Jerusalem, so the city was full of people! Ready to view and proclaim what happened to Jesus! Full of witnesses!


Jesus was about to die so that all these people could be saved! [If they understood this and acknowledged him they were saved, so it's a pity many didn’t gain this understanding. Perhaps they refused to let the knowledge in?]

The lesson in this feast is that we need to get rid of sin (selfish, ignorant, nasty and stupid things we do] and purify our lives.


The feast is still celebrated annually in Jewish homes!

Sometimes, before passover, the lady of the house takes breadcrumbs of yeast bread (leaven bread) and goes around the house sprinkling them everywhere. Then, the vacuum is taken out and the house is meticulously cleaned to ensure none of this leaven bread is in the house any longer! It is all removed from the house!



We need to look over our lives and try and remove the yeast of sin from our lives. We need to look under the covers of our lives and have the courage to admit we fail, we procrastinate, we deliberately hide things even form ourselves!

We need to bring these selfish, nasty, ignorant and stupid things into the open, and let God deal with them, removing them from our lives and giving us release from the pain that they cause!

That’s the challenge for today!

To be totally honest with God regarding our failings and ask him to help us unload the guilt and sin and get on with successful living!
 Have a good one!
Tue, February 8, 2011 | link          Comments

Monday, February 7, 2011

Sometimes, doesn’t that word “evangelist” make you want to vomit?
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Every culture has its dirty words.  ‘Evangelist’ has been a dirty word in the West for decades now.[1]

It’s true isn’t it! People react negatively to the word evangelist and particularly to the words “TV evangelist”, and probably for gut wrenching good reasons.

 
How often have Christians staggered under the criticism’s leveled at these people, who are supposedly doing something for the world, but when we look at the money, image and marketing that goes with them, makes their words dim under the light of true humility and compassion for others.

We have had to wait until information technology came along, to start to see the semantics change, as this industry uses it in terms like Microsoft and Apple “evangelist” to depict people who spread the good news of technology. Once again it is taking on the meaning related to  that of a town crier who publically notifies us of useful and important events.

Why do we hide our enthusiasm and love of our God, when surrounded by dissenting voices of friends, media and acquaintances?


Why does the sound of our voice speaking words of truth, somehow bring a shame to our hearts, or a flushed warmth to our faces?

Why can we not give our opinions openly and honestly?

Why do people like Bill Maher and his scathing and poorly mannered criticisms in videos like “religulous”, cause anger, apathy, or shame to flow in primal emotions as we encounter the criticisms?


IF we saw a young child walking out from a snow covered shoreline over the frozen lake to a stretch of thin ice, what would we do?

Would we stand by and stay silent? Would we turn away and ignore the danger of an unsuspecting soul?  What would the reporter who sees it happen say about the adult within reach who did nothing?

The outcry would be instant, the behavior labeled as scandalous and the person reprimanded, or do you think differently?

If the child fell through and drowned in the icy hellhole of the frozen depths, would the world allow the silent bystander to carry on life without being subject to harsh criticism?


 

Hardly likely, right?


Then why should Christians who honestly love and want to help, be criticized for wanting to tell others about how to keep themselves safe by getting to know Jesus?

They shouldn’t, right?

Unfortunately many Christians are more like the guy who seeing the child stride out onto the lake, pulls out their iPhone and starts to record the incident with the view to selling the footage of their death under the guise of warning others to stay off the ice.
Folk, that’s despicable behavior!

False evangelists and reporters both do this! They should never get encouragement or another job, but in this western business world, we not only give these people continued opportunity, we acclaim them, and promote them, and fail to see that we have just consigned lives to a living death!

What is wrong with our world, what is wrong with us?

Take another example...

Let’s say that there are three guys in a college dorm room. A Jew, a Muslim and a Christian and suddenly the door is flung open and a highly distraught young women storms into their room screaming. She demands to know if there is a purpose to life, pointing out she is about to commit suicide! It’s even more obvious because she is holding a loaded gun to her head with a finger on the trigger. “Is there a God, is there a reason to live?” she demands.

As a Christian what would you say?

Would you look at the people from the other religion and try and find a cleaver set of words to save the situation? What would you do?

The true Christian has only one true response!

A true Christian steps up to say something like ...

“Please know there is a very important reason to live, it’s because I love you and God loves you. To prove it I want to come and give you a hug, and if you feel I am dishonest or misleading you in any way, please shoot me instead! I love you deeply and that’s why you need to know that there is a purpose in life, that’s my purpose, to love you and God, and it can be your purpose to!”

Let’s be honest, the truth of Christian love is this, we should be willing to die that others can save themselves!

That’s who we are!

That’s evangelism!

So those fancy cars, churches, videos, and other stuff mean nothing!

Those criticisms and hateful things said to and against us mean nothing!

We don’t hate or even want to argue with people of other religions or cultures!


We want to love unconditionally!

That’s the true “good news” That’s the truth behind the real meaning of the word evangelize. So let it be known that I believe in telling others good news!

I don’t believe in manipulation of others, only freeing others.

That’s a true evangelist! Are you a true evangelist?


[1] http://www.crossoveronline.com.au/thoughtleader/evangelists-the-continuing-image-crisis

Mon, February 7, 2011 | link          Comments


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Rift in Evil

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A horrific mining accident results in Joshua Robyn's father being killed. Joshua struggles both with himself and his townsfolk as he tries to make sense of an incomprehensible situation. Is it an accident or a murder? Why is there a seeming link to evil? Why is his work environment suddenly threatening? What is the conspiracy about and what are they trying to do? As action moves dramatically from exotic African grasslands to the heart of North America's cities, the plot unfolds and the pace quickens. Will there be time? Why is a beautiful abused young woman in the center of this plot?

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