Monthly Archives: March 2012

April Series: We Are

Through the earlier years of my life, my idea of what I wanted my career to look like changed constantly. As soon as I understood the concepts of space, rockets, and anything extraterrestrial, I wanted to be an astronaut. That lasted for a long time, but eventually I changed my mind to wishing to be an engineer. Then an astronaut again. Then an engineer again. Then in the Air Force. Then an engineer in the Air Force. Then a politician. After a couple years of being fickle, I decided to stop setting my mind to things for a while. I was like any kid or teenager; I was searching for my identity. The beautiful thing is–and that we had ought to tell all our teenagers–that our identities are already found in Christ.

In the posts to come in this month’s series, we’re talking about the identities that we have in Christ. I wanted to give a quick shout out to let you know what our coming Geeks on Faith posts are all about this April. Check up on Tuesdays and Thursdays to get your twice-weekly mini-message.

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Whitewash (The Lie)

Because they lead my people astray, saying, “Peace,” when there is no peace, and because, when a flimsy wall is built, they cover it with whitewash, therefore tell those who cover it with whitewash that it is going to fall. Rain will come in torrents, and I will send hailstones hurtling down, and violent winds will burst forth. When the wall collapses, will people not ask you, “Where is the whitewash you covered it with?”” Ezekiel 13:10-12

Do the photos on your Facebook wall reflect God’s perfect image? Is what you tweet or chit-chat about cohesive with having a mouth for worship? The supposed prophets in the above quote really weren’t who they wanted you to think they were. They were faking it. They were pretending they were something they were not. Not only that, they threatening God’s name and the church by doing so.

Countless people try to fake it. Whether it’s for their friends, family, or for themselves, many pretend they are Christians when they have no trust, care, or understanding of God–no relationship with him. It might seem easy to cover it up, but really–it isn’t. It’s a sin against the church. Don’t believe me? Just look at what happened to Ananias and Sapphira.

Just like the lying prophets from Ezekiel, Ananias and Sapphira set a terrible example for the church, and God knew that at that point in the early church, the congregation may not have recovered from this rebellious act, causing more and more followers to fail. God values his church and his people so much that he doesn’t want any half-hearted efforts or corruption. He wants to bless us, he wants to love us, but he also wants some enthusiasm. This works hand-in-hand with Tuesday’s message on being lukewarm versus being on fire for Christ. But to be on fire, we need to live literally honest-to-God. We need to live passionately, promoting the church; strengthening the Body of Christ. There is only so much that can threaten this body, but one of those things is corruption and lies from the inside.

Throwing white paint on a broken wall may make it look better, but it doesn’t fix it. We need to do more than whitewashing our broken lives. With Christ, we can be truly repaired. Just the same, living like something you aren’t is never a good idea, especially when you’re pretending to be a Christian. Even aside from all this, sooner or later you’re going to be exposed if you’re only faking it. At some point, those who really follow God will be separated out from those who are simply whitewashing their stained lives.

 

Set Your Lukewarm to Flame

This one’s for those of you like me, who live the so-called “average” American life. A home, a family, a nice little suburbia: it seems like the norm, right? While we all seem to prefer blissful idealism, it’s important that we have a realist for a reality-check every now and then. We need to not just live–but live on fire!

I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” Revelation 3:15-16

Today, I’m aiming to be your reality-check (and mine), in remembering that the world is so much bigger than our first world countries and our suburbia. Even if you don’t have that kind of lifestyle, it can still be just as easy to forget. We can’t settle for standard. We can’t settle for the world’s mentality. We need to be the hot; the blazingly passionate people. It’s when we lose our perspective that we come think that everything is so small and simple. Getting caught up in thinking all this leads to one thing. Apathy.

There are lots of things the bible tells us to know and do and to not do. Below is a few tips to help you get started turning your lukewarm to flame.

  1. Live out loud! Be big and bold and let people know the truth. (Isaiah 58:1)
  2. We are supposed to relay God’s message to everyone. Yes, as in everyone. There’s still a lot of unreached people. (Matthew 28:19).
  3. Before I get you too riled up, remember not to be an idiot. (Acts 19:36)
  4. Have one primary goal in life: the pursuit of God’s kingdom; don’t be double-minded.  (James 4:8)
  5. We have the Lord in our hearts! Don’t forget he’s right there with you. (1 Corinthians 3:16)

These five things will go a long way to turning your average lifestyle into a passionate one. On Judgement Day, there will be a few kinds of people: those who oppose God or don’t care, those who knew of or about him, but never truly sought him, and those who searched for him with everything they had. In short, there are the cold, the lukewarm, and the hot. How do you think you’d be classified?

The War

We all love epic stories. The epic characters, sagas, and conflicts of movies, shows, and games fascinate us. All of these things are cool and compelling, but when it comes to wars of gigantic proportions, no historic or fictional conflict can compare to the one we are a part of every day.

Many people have a very wrong understanding of angels. These heavenly creatures were created to glorify God, but also to be his warriors. These folks are for real. No wimpy Cupid nonsense. And every minute that goes by, people around the world are making the choice between good and evil–something which spiritual forces on both sides attempt to sway. God’s faithful warriors protect his followers as they go about. We can’t even see all that goes on because it is so beyond our understanding. But at the same time, all of this takes place right here on Earth. This is because these angels are in a different part of our world: the spirit world. This other part of our world, that we can’t see, contains the very literal part of the war.

But just because we can’t tell, doesn’t mean we aren’t in the middle of a battleground.

The Israelites fought for God constantly throughout their history. God simply told them to go and they did (though maybe after some complaining). One such example is below:

He shall say: “Hear, O Israel, today you are going into battle against your enemies. Do not be fainthearted or afraid; do not be terrified or give way to panic before them.”” Deuteronomy 20:3

It’s not as if good and evil just fight for the heck of it. The war that goes on has a huge purpose–or why would it occur? It’s not just about power, it’s about power over the souls of humanity. As much as that sounds like something out of some old horror movie, this is real. The great part is the power over our heart is ours to give. We still have the choice. The war is deciding in our lives and in everyone’s, the victories mean lives saved by Christ, and losses are those without.

Blind Date

Out on a blind date, you have a hard time knowing what to expect. In fact, you don’t know what to expect at all. You are placing some degree of trust in the organizer of the date that this person may be for you. But, you are doing it often with very little evidence to base it on.

The Israelites are put in a similar position, but with the stakes a little higher. You would think that the Israelites would react with something like “Are you kidding me God?!”. Isaiah prophesies the nation’s punishment and exile, and yet we are told God wishes the people not to fear this, as if to surrender to their foe.

Therefore, this is what the Lord, the Lord Almighty, says, “O my people who live in Zion, do not be afraid of the Assyrians, who beat you with a rod and lift up a club against you, as Egypt did.”” Isaiah 10:24

This example is somewhat unusual, in that God has been prophesying to the Israelites that basically they are going to be punished via the Assyrians, and he then tells them not to sweat it. Any reasoning person would surely question this. The bible has plenty of passages which tell us to not fear, and to trust in God (try Psalm 112:7, Exodus 20:20, Isaiah 41:10, or 1 Peter 3:14.). But it makes it one heck of a lot harder when we are told to juggle that with impending death from one of your worst and most vicious enemies.  

There’s plenty of times which there is reason to be afraid. It just so happens that a lot of those times, it’s mostly our fault. But even among this, awaiting what is to us due, we have to realize that even then, even in the moment of absolute darkness, we are to trust God.

A lot of people call it crazy. Blind love?  Blind trust? Blind hope? I call it obedience. And it isn’t blind, either. When we allow ourselves to trust God, and invest fully in him, he will make sure that we are anything but blind. The Lord we serve prepares us for what’s ahead, though sometimes we don’t listen to the warnings and conditioning he gives us. That’s why it’s key that even when we’re not in times of trouble, we still maintain trust in God–that we’ll stay out of trouble.

In the following quote, it almost seems as if God is joking. He says that even among the punishment, it is only justice, and basically says he’s still giving Jacob a chance.

Do not fear, O Jacob my servant, for I am with you,” declares the LORD. “Though I completely destroy all the nations among which I scatter you, I will not completely destroy you. I will discipline you but only with justice; I will not let you go entirely unpunished.”” Jeremiah 46:28

My favorite part is when Jacob is told by God, “I will not completely destroy you.” Unlike the friend you have organizing a blind date, God will never be cruel or give you something you can’t handle. This trust is not blind in God though. With the countless examples in the bible and in life, people who trust in God succeed. You can always place your trust in God, even when it seems to be blind.

The [Coming] Story of The End

To wind up this week’s story theme, I’m going to be writing about a story that has yet to be told. Yesterday, I put together a post about the story of Sin, with Passion, the Trinity, and God’s Love earlier this week. Today, we talk about tomorrow.

It’s such a whimsical thing. The unimaginable future, holding who-knows-what. The descriptions we get in the bible are relatively vague when it comes to specific details, but there is some we know for sure.

Revelation has a lot to say on the subject, and summing up the book might be nearly impossible. Nonetheless, I can give the quick-take to you.

We know there is a lot that needs to happen before the world is going to end. Personally, I feel like we have a good while, but it is imperative that we all realize this:

“No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son,[a]but only the Father.”  Matthew 24:36

We are told that not even Jesus knows when the world will end! That’s why you don’t have to sweat conspiracy theorists, and those Christians who say they know when God is coming, or God told them obviously don’t know their stuff.

So what will happen in all of it? We know that Jesus will come, at some point, to bring up all of those who truly believe in him, and have him in their hearts. This is known as the Rapture. We also know the some pretty horrific stuff is going to occur in the End Times. It is somewhat unclear whether the Rapture will happen before or after the End Times, and it can depend on who you ask.

Nevertheless, we have yet to see real signs of the End Times, and it has been a little while since the early church. This would be quite astonishing to the early church in Jerusalem, I would think, because they seemed to think that Jesus would be returning perhaps within their lifetimes.

And even if Jesus doesn’t return for 1000 years or longer, we need to live like that. We need to live like there’s no tomorrow. Ever heard that before? But it means more than partying like it’s the apocalypse (and I don’t recommend it). This means we have to lead a life for Christ like this may be our last chance to bring our friends, family, and the world to Christ.

People complicate the end of the world. Truth is, you can spend your life trying to decode Revelation, or you can trust that God has it all planned out.

The second-to-last verse in the entire bible, Revelation 22:20, describes this wonderfully:

He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.”

Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.”

This verse, referring to God, describes how we are told the Lord is returning soon. Soon in God’s time, however could be an extremely long time to us, so we’ll just have to wait on that one. But after this, John says, “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.” Amen, meaning basically “let it be”, and “Come”, shows how he is ready and willing. He is ready for Jesus coming. Are you?

The Story of Sin

Sometimes it’s difficult to tell the stories of the world and all in it. That’s why I want to start this post out by saying this:
I’m not perfect, and I absolutely do not know everything. I am not a lunatic who claims to know anything and everything about God.

All right, now that that’s over and done with, we can get started on today’s refresh on the how and why of sin.

First of all, sin came into the world, as we all know with Adam and Eve. It was with the wrong choices they made that they were separated. They fell into temptation and ruined it for all of us. But surely God didn’t base everything on two people’s choice. And he didn’t. We choose to separate ourselves.
But you’ve heard about that. Sin is here in our world and causing pain as evil is so prominent in our society and throughout our planet.

But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of coveting.” Romans 7:8

This is a description about one case of sin encouraging someone to sin.
We all face evil of three kinds:
The Flesh – Our natural tendency to sin, along with our desires which are sometimes out of place.
The World – The societies of our planet are filled with temptations and terrible examples for how to live our lives.
The Devil – Spiritual forces of darkness are acting against us all the time, whether the devil or his demons. (Note that God guarantees that with him in our heart, we are protected!)

We are faced constantly by sin, and we have to understand that that is a natural part of our world, and we have to overcome it through Jesus.

The Story of Passion

Believe it or not, Shakespeare was not the first to write of passion. And he also did not write about the kind of raw passion that I’m talking about now. Today, we are talking about the true and real passion that God has for us, and how that changes everything. The story of God’s love is amazing, but it isn’t nearly as incredible without one essential piece–passion.

God doesn’t just care about us. No, Jesus didn’t just die on the cross because he was playing his part in the Trinity. God loves us more than we can fathom, and that means more than you think. He doesn’t just gawk at us, saying, “Isn’t that nice.” or “Oh, I love her” and “I love him”. God puts action in his passion for us, and that’s what we have seen throughout all of time.

In accordance with your great love, forgive the sin of these people, just as you have pardoned them from the time they left Egypt until now.” Numbers 14:19

This scenario talks about how because God loved the people, he had taken them out of their misery in Egypt, and forgiven them for the sin in that time. The Lord cared about his people to save them once, and he would do it again and again.

In Judges, the Israelites fall out of following God countless times, but after realizing only the one true God could save them they would repent and pray for forgiveness…and then they would fall away again. This process was called the Cycle of Apostasy, and went on for generations. Nevertheless, God forgave the nation countless times and rose up leaders, or judges, to rescue the nation. God loved his people so much that he did what it took to bring them to him. To their misfortune, they kept making the wrong decisions and would stop following him after so much time.

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.” 1 John 4:7-9

God loved us so passionately that he gave us his son. And we are to love the same way. This verse does not mean that those who aren’t Christians don’t love their families or friends, rather, it means that they cannot love like love is meant to be in its greatest form: love from God, “for love comes from God.” We are to bring to all people this wonderful blessing of true passion. There is no passion like God’s.

Dictionary.com’s definition of passion words it very well: “a strong or extravagant fondness, enthusiasm, or desire for anything”. God has enthusiasm and fondness for us. God is excited about you. He only wants you to be passionate for him.

Microsoft’s Universal Translator

The research prototypes and early models that come out of Microsoft’s research department never cease to amaze. Microsoft Research in Asia has recently unveiled a new speech recognition technology at TechFest 2012 that can, after fine-tuning it to your voice, can translate it recognizably into other languages.

Understanding that accent and how you say things is important, the program keeps accurate speech in a consistent voice. The program builds a model of any voice, so upon programming or specializing it to your voice, it can effectively “speak” for you in other languages. They also showed with all this that they were able to make a 3D model of a person which can conform to apparently speak the translation, likely after yet more fine-tuning.

Keep in mind that this is, of course, a prototype, but tit can already do some pretty impressive stuff. Don’t forget to check out Microsoft Research’s video with the Microsoft reps showing off the new toy about 15:00 minutes in, though the full keynote starts at just after 12:00 minutes.

Source: Extreme Tech

The Story of The Trinity

This week, we continue to talk about stories of the past which so fatefully affect our future. We started with the story of God’s love for us, and a step-by-step analysis to that. Today, we’ll talk more specifically about God himself, and who he is.

God cannot be truly (or at least fully) understood, and therefore so much of what we say is a bit of speculation, but it is all based in his word and there is a lot that we know for sure. Firstly, we talk about the Trinity and how this came about.

The idea of the trinity was developed by the early church to make sense of things, basically. While it seems a little confusing, it does makes sense. Why? Because it doesn’t make sense.

The trinity is the three parts of God: God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The three are all one God, but are somewhat of individuals. While we cannot comprehend it, it is to be expected that as humans we cannot understand the nature of God.

Now for some history. However long you believe it took the earth to be formed, the Trinity existed before anything else.

 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.” Genesis 1:2

We are told basically that the universe is kind of a blank slate with God there watching. Then one day, he suddenly decided to use his omniscient powers to create the earth and all of humanity. So there you go.

God is infinite, so it makes sense that he could just as well be of different parts. Each has served and is serving its role in all of history. The Father has watched the world, and delivered Jesus to us. Jesus was delivered, and died for all of our sins. The Holy Spirit is with us today, here, so we can have a relationship with God and a connection to his power.

The Trinity is a living, breathing divinity which we cannot comprehend, but it is the sovereignty of all the universe.

Still have questions? Let us know and we’ll help you out.
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