The following links are additional blogs that focus on other areas of interest to me and I hope you enjoy reading these as much as you have on The Write Time!
The advent of Social Media saw a huge number of entries onto the world stage, but most of those attempts ended in failure. The internet public obviously has certain desires for their consumption of Social Media and up to now FaceBook has been the industry leader in this fierce battle.
That said, eventually even giants can falter.. The last couple of years there have been a multitude of changes with the way people can now interact on some of the leading Social Media sites and the responses have been lackluster. Add to that several high profile attempts at censorship on the part of these media powerhouses which have led many people to drop from the Social Media scene altogether. Others are quietly waiting out there trying to find somewhere new to call their "home on the web."
Zurker might just be that new place! Imagine a site that is owned mostly by those people who use it. Yes, new members to Zurker currently have the opportunity to earn credits that will eventually turn into shares of ownership. To think that just by being a member you actually have some level of say in how the site is developed is a giant leap forward in the Social Media spectrum. On top of that, Zurker promises no censorship of your contribution to discussions which is, for many, the real power behind Social Media in the first place.
I've become a member on Zurker and can say that I like what I see so far. The navigation is a little tricky at first, simply because we have all become accustomed to a single way of doing things. It only takes a little while though to overcome this small challenge and once you do, you will enjoy this new and exciting "world."
If you, like me, arent convinced that what you've been using so far is your ultimate Social Media destination, consider a move over to Zurker and give it a spin.
In the process of obtaining a college education I know that I am not the only Christian who has come up against ideas and teachings that are absolutely contrary to the tenets of our faith. Take one of the classes I am currently enrolled in, Issues in Environmental Science. One of my reasons for choosing this course is my firm belief that we as a people are not living up to God’s desire for proper stewardship of this planet. I wanted to learn more about the real issues facing our environment and how each one of us can play a part in being better stewards.
We are, of course, only part way into this class so I am hopeful that my goal will be fulfilled. That said, thus far the class has been little more than an indoctrination into the world of evolution. This isn’t the first time I’ve “ridden this bus” as anyone who has taken a natural science class, especially at the college level, can attest to.
The ideas and science of evolution do not bother me. These theories and conclusions are based upon the best means available to scientists. What does bother me is the growing animosity between the “people of faith” and the “people of evolution.” Everything, it seems, is polarized through political and social barriers which are only growing in strength and complexity.
Both camps spend a great deal of energy and determination in effort to demonize and ridicule anyone who falls on the other side of the discussion. The current prevailing thought is that the two ideas are so incompatible that the people who hold to them are no longer worth the effort to engage in civil discussion. The end result is a biosphere careening out of control faster than we can lay blame.
I even read a book for this class, The Creation: an Appeal to Save Life on Earth, written by Edward O. Wilson. The book is billed as a persuasive “letter” to a fictitious Southern Baptist Pastor in attempt to highlight the need for people of faith to join in the battle against environmental catastrophe. Without going into great detail about the book itself, I will say that I admire Wilson’s attempt. The problem with the book is its approach. The book is indeed full of great and valuable information about nature and mankind’s effects upon it. Where the book falls short is in its actual attempts at persuasion.
Wilson’s failure to persuade is the same failure I have seen and heard more time than I can count. The problems we face are real and it is powerful to bring to light the real and true scientific data that back up those facts. It is true that too many people are avoiding or downright ignoring their own impact upon our shared planet. Attempts at bringing these things to light are admirable, but knowing that the audience a person is addressing very likely has deep, personal beliefs that are contradictory, it just doesn’t make sense the wave that red flag in their face and tell them they are wrong. There is no persuasive power in that tactic whatsoever.
I believe it IS possible for people of faith and people without faith to work together on real and tangible goals without having to engage in a political battle of wits. We CAN agree to disagree on many of the processes which got us to where we are today. What we have to agree on is that humankind is making a drastic impact on the environment and we must ALL take action to reverse these troubling trends. One does not need to be a biologist to understand their own personal impact.
We need to stop fighting these “holy wars” and get down to the business of finding amicable ways of dealing with the very real dangers of habitat and biodiversity loss. Population control is a firestorm of potential controversy, but teaching about the impact of population growth and learning how to make smarter choices is not out of the realm of possibilities. We as a “species” have come so far in such a short time. We have overcome what have seemed to be insurmountable challenges. We CAN find ways to work together if we put aside our petty differences.
It doesn’t take a physicist to plant a tree and it doesn’t take a theologian to know that deforestation is poor stewardship. God has much to say in His Word about stewardship of our planet. None of those words include ignorance or outright hate against those who do not agree with your opinion.
What event or situation is foremost in your mind today? Challenges are a normal part of life, but how we approach each of those circumstances says a lot about who we are and what we believe. There are active and passive approaches to almost anything that crosses our path. It can be challenging just to see through the “fog” of any given hurdle enough to come up with a plan of action. For Christians, the very first step should always be to seek God, no matter how trivial or overwhelming the challenge may seem.
My wife and I have read from 2 Chronicles the past two mornings and within that text is a very important message about seeking God first.
1) The problem:
After this the Moabites and Ammonites, and with them some of the Meunites, came against Jehoshaphat for battle. Some men came and told Jehoshaphat, “A great multitude is coming against you from Edom, from beyond the sea; and, behold, they are in Hazazon-tamar” (that is, Engedi). (2 Chronicles 20:1-2)
2) The initial reaction
Then Jehoshaphat was afraid… (2 Chronicles 20:3)
3) The plan of action
… and set his face to seek the LORD, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. And Judah assembled to seek help from the LORD; from all the cities of Judah they came to seek the LORD. (2 Chronicles 20:3-4)
Jehoshaphat could have reacted to the immediacy of the threat with a calling up of the war council to develop an offensive or defensive strategy. Instead, he called together all of Israel to pray and fast. He sought the mercy and protection of the Lord and cast a vision for his people to do the same. He put his faith and hope in God rather than his own strength or that of his army.
4) God’s response
“And the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jahaziel the son of Zechariah, son of Benaiah, son of Jeiel, son of Mattaniah, a Levite of the sons of Asaph, in the midst of the assembly. And he said, “Listen, all Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem and King Jehoshaphat: Thus says the LORD to you, ‘Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God’s. Tomorrow go down against them. Behold, they will come up by the ascent of Ziz. You will find them at the end of the valley, east of the wilderness of Jeruel. You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the LORD on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.’ Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed. Tomorrow go out against them, and the LORD will be with you.” (2 Chronicles 20:14-17)
5) Jehoshaphat’s response
And they rose early in the morning and went out into the wilderness of Tekoa. And when they went out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Hear me, Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem! Believe in the LORD your God, and you will be established; believe his prophets, and you will succeed.” And when he had taken counsel with the people, he appointed those who were to sing to the LORD and praise him in holy attire, as they went before the army, and say, “Give thanks to the LORD, for his steadfast love endures forever.” (2 Chronicles 20:20-21)
6) The result
And when they began to sing and praise, the LORD set an ambush against the men of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah, so that they were routed. For the men of Ammon and Moab rose against the inhabitants of Mount Seir, devoting them to destruction, and when they had made an end of the inhabitants of Seir, they all helped to destroy one another. (2 Chronicles 20:22-23)
Jehoshaphat took the right first step by seeking the Lord, but he did not stop there. He not only listened to what God had said, he remained faithful, even in the face of almost sure destruction, and obeyed. As a result, his enemies never even approached his army. The enemies of Jehoshaphat destroyed themselves and all that was left for the people of Israel to do was to pick among the vast spoils of their vanquished foes.
“When Judah came to the watchtower of the wilderness, they looked toward the horde, and behold, there were dead bodies lying on the ground; none had escaped. When Jehoshaphat and his people came to take their spoil, they found among them, in great numbers, goods, clothing, and precious things, which they took for themselves until they could carry no more. They were three days in taking the spoil, it was so much.” (2 Chronicles 20:24-25)
There is no shortage of problems facing the people of earth today. Whether it be local, regional or global, there are ample troubles needing a solution. As individuals we cannot possibly tackle any of these challenges to a pleasing end, but by seeking God first, we can begin to rein in what at first seems impossible. When we first recognize that whatever faces us, whatever battle is ahead, belongs to the Lord, the plans to approach it become much clearer.
“And all this assembly shall know that the LORD saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the LORD’s, and he will give you into our hands.” (1 Samuel 17:47)
“Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the LORD our God” (Psalm 20:7).
“There is no king saved by the multitude of an host: a mighty man is not delivered by much strength. . . . Behold, the eye of the LORD is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy” (Psalm 33:16, 18).
“Upon this rock of faith in Christ as divine Savior I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18)
“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds)” (2 Corinthians 10:3-4).
“And God placed all things under [Christ's] feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way” (Ephesians 1:22-23)
“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against . . . the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12).
I have missed posting upon this topic for the past several weeks because God has put something important on my heart to share. I believe it is so important that I have been cautious to jump at writing about it too soon. The fact is, the subject is so compelling and all-inclusive, that I wasn’t quite sure how to put it all in an easy-to-understand format on my blog. That was until I heard a recent message from Chuck Swindoll. His great, Godly words included a que that bridges the gap between the two parts of the message I was planning to share.
The recent popularity of the followers of Christ coming together in political interest groups for the sake of American patriotism is, in part, a troubling trend for the church. Not because love for country is bad, but because the priority of country is growing in priority over the precedence of Christ.
In recent memory hardly a single month has gone by in which there is some popular, public rally for one political cause or another. Hundreds if not thousands of fervent patriots gather together with signs and megaphones demanding that the government of their State or Nation recognize their rights to this or to that. In many of these instances, the speakers of these rallies summon the spiritual roots of these said rights. They (rightfully) claim the proper source of our rights and freedoms.
What usually follows is where many of these well intentioned speeches go awry. The freedoms granted by our Creator are made plain, but then demands are placed against our government to recognize these things our Founding Fathers preserved in the Declaration of Independence. Why is this a troubling deviation for the Christian?
Where the trouble enters in, is that a growing number of people are petitioning their government for these freedoms, but the number of people petitioning God for the same privileges is ever shrinking. The focus has appeared to shift from our Creator to our government as the source of our freedoms and liberty. This is a symptom of the followers of Christ having forgotten their first love and instead placing demands upon a source not entitled or empowered to make these things attainable.
Christian, government can act in ways that appear to restrict your freedoms, but it is Jesus Christ who came that we should “have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). While this freedom is liberty from sin, is it not also a call towards a shift in trust from man-made institutions to a life fulfilled through faith in Jesus Christ?
Are we to live as slaves to a government, making demands and forsaking the time God has given us here on earth to spread His good news? Or are we to take advantage of our God-given freedoms and live at peace, expecting persecution, yet trusting in God’s provision?
To acknowledge that our governmental institutions do no longer provide protection of the Christian journey is a hard thing. It would be much easier to have a faith-friendly government which enables and encourages us to express our beliefs in every corner of daily life. Unfortunately we are no longer under the leadership of such a government and it is time we realize it.
This is not to say that we are to live lives in open rebellion as it is God himself who has placed these institutions over us. There is a point though at which we must seek God’s hand in matters of liberty and freedom through prayer and fasting and that should be done long before any petitions are made against any government agency.
We would do well to study the scriptures and see how those who have gone before us maneuvered through daily life under a repressive regime. Those are the examples we should follow and we should take note of the freedoms they enjoyed. To follow any other gospel is indeed a distortion of the gospel of Christ.
During the Civil War (and perhaps as far back as the Revolutionary War) soldiers recruited for the army often came from rural homesteads. The education these recruits brought with them was often inadequate in such rudimentary military basics such as knowing one’s right from their left.
This was no small thing for a new army unit to deal with. Marching and formation fighting required men in the ranks to know the difference between their front from their rear and their left from their right. Unfortunately for their instructors, there often wasn’t time for detailed education as some units were shipping off to war almost before the ink was dry on the muster sheet. So how were these soldiers trained so quickly?
The answer laid in the things these men were already very familiar with. In order to differentiate between left foot and right foot, the drill instructors came up with a basic, but very effective training aid.
The solution was to bind small bundles of hay to a soldier’s left foot and a bundle of straw to their right foot. During marching exercises, the Sergeant would call out “Hay foot straw foot” instead of “Left foot right foot.”
What I find ironic today is, in our “literate” society, there are probably a very rare few who know the difference between hay and straw. Admittedly, until I looked this up, I didn’t know either. In fact, I typically considered both of them to be one in the same and wondered how the soldiers would know the difference.
Well now it is clear and the two bundles are distinctly and visually different. Hay is the dried cuttings of grass or alfalfa and on a farm is used to feed livestock and it has a golden color. Straw on the other hand is the stalk or remnant of wheat or oats and when it dries it has a greenish tint. (See the picture below)
Four miles more
Then with a smack goes my pack on the floor
Come on, doggies don’t get sore
Get hep hep hep in your step
The sun grins with glee
And I start to shrink
I can’t grin like he
I’m carrying everything, but the kitchen sink
Three miles more
Where in the heck is this mechanized war?
Come on, doggies don’t get sore
Get hep hep hep in your step
On this tenth day of Christmas, we are reminded of the Ten Commandments found in Exodus 20:1-17:
The difference is that the gifts are specific personal qualities given to individuals. The fruits are the outward evidence that the Holy Spirit dwells within the believer. They are the manifestation of living a life that represents the holiness of He who lives within us.
The nine fruits of the Holy Spirit are:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
Who likes to pay government imposed taxes? I certainly don’t, and I suspect you don’t either. Of course there are some taxes that we pay with more understanding and charity than others. There are also those taxes we pay that infuriate us to no end. It is no easy thing to work hard each day only to see large portions of our income collected before we ever see the first penny.
The question here is not whether or not it is pleasant to pay taxes in general, but rather, how we as Christians should respond when the money taken from our work is used for actions and purposes that we do not agree with or support.
Case in point is the recent Obamacare legislation that is taking the entire nation by storm. The monstrosity legislation appears to be drilling down into nearly every aspect of our lives and is fundamentally changing the fabric of our society.
The most troubling of these many points in the bill has been the fact that a portion of the tax collected is utilized to support and promote abortion. Christians and many others who strongly believe in the fundamental definition of life and act to support an end to abortion rightly oppose this part of the legislation.
However, in the process of trying to fight this particular provision, many people on both sides of the discussion fail to understand a truth about Christianity and the God that we worship. Arguments are made that this tax forces Christians to act against their own faith, and I believe that is not entirely correct.
There is a difference between a government collecting taxes and using that money in a way contrary to Christian belief and a Christian freely supporting such contrary actions. I am not saying that it is not right and proper to openly oppose and attempt to overturn such things. This is a good and noble fight worth our efforts. On the other hand, when our attempts at overturning such offensive spending fail, it is important for us to realize that it is not our personal actions that are supporting such things as abortion.
I am reminded of the many stories in the Bible in which the people held disdain for tax collectors and the purposes for which these taxes were collected. During New Testament times, the Roman Empire levied taxes against all its subjects, including the Jewish nation. Some of the money raised from these taxes probably went to worthy causes, but much of it was spent on programs inconsistent with Jewish and subsequent Christian beliefs.
The disdain for such immoral taxation even led the Pharisees to attempt to find Jesus in a trap that would lead to his downfall. They approached Jesus with this question, “ Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” (Matthew 22:17 ESV). In response, Jesus took one of the coins from them and asked, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” (Matthew 22:20 ESV).
The Pharisee’s answer was that it was Caesar’s image upon the coin. Jesus’ answer to them was, “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” (Matthew 22:21 ESV).
Does this speak to you? What does it tell you about how God views taxation and the Christian’s responsibility to pay it?
Unlike you or me, God knows how each and every penny is spent by our government and He realizes that not only is it now being spent to support the abominable practice of abortion, but that these funds have long been spent in opposition to His plans and desires. Even so, God allows the process to continue and He knows the heart of every man and woman. He admires the efforts of His followers to fight against immoral taxation, but it is God that asks us to obey our government and its laws.
So, does paying taxes to support immorality cause Christians to act against their faith? Absolutely not! Does our heart ache when we know what the money we contribute to an immoral system is being used in ways that abhor us? Definitely! Even so, God can comfort us in such things and He will not let those who pass these unholy laws go eternally unpunished.
Our duty as Christians, when such a fight is lost is to continue to pray for these things we see as unholy. If God pricks our individual conscience in a way that informs us we must minimize the amount we send to the government (in legal ways), then those are the actions we should take. We should be careful not to rebel against the government in a way that would bring shame upon the name of God, the one who holds the very government we detest upon His own shoulders.
In Matthew 5:3-10, Jesus’ “Sermon on the Mount” records eight specific actions or attitudes in which a Christian disciple can receive blessings. These blessings are known as beatitudes and they were/are strikingly different from the Old Testament teachings of forced behavior. Instead, these eight actions of a joyful spirit focus upon humility and love.
On this, the 8th day of Christmas, we are reminded of these eight beatitudes, found in Matthew 5:3-11: