Archive for June, 2002

Important Things

Thursday, June 6th, 2002

The most important time:

Now

The most important person:

The one you’re with

The most important thing to do:

Good

Rules of E-mail

Thursday, June 6th, 2002

I have these taped to my monitor at work. These were helpful when I was doing computer support.

  1. Does your e-mail indicate that you really care about the person and solving their problem?
  2. Have you researched the problem? Have you checked the available resources before bothering other people or implying that others might be at fault — which you should not do anyway?
  3. Do you have permission from the proper authorities to do what you have promised?
  4. Does everyone need to be CC:ed? Has anyone been left off that should be included?
  5. Can anything you have said be misconstrued as an insult? If you are numberswiki.com

    feeling hostile, have you prayed about this? Perhaps you had better send it later. Do not say anything about anyone that you would not say to their face.

  6. Check your pride in at the door. There is no need to build yourself up — just do a good job. If you need to apologize, then do it. Even if you don’t think so, pretend that the person knows what they are saying. Perhaps they do!
  7. Remember that God is watching. Is what you are doing pleasing to Him? Is what you are doing helping others to see that God is good?

A Promise to Reflect

Thursday, June 6th, 2002

I promise to take time each day to think about my thoughts and actions and judge them
in the light of God’s Word. If I have done something right I will attempt to keep doing it
and give thanks to God. If more info

I have done something wrong, I will ask for forgiveness, make
restitution, and take steps to prevent future errors I will seek God’s help in these
matters through His speaking to my spirit, through His Word, and through the counsel of
godly people.

The Prince and the Beggars

Thursday, June 6th, 2002

Soon it would be night, and a beggar sat by the fire to warm himself. A fellow beggar joined him.

"The strangest thing happened to me today," the second beggar began. "I was sitting by the gate as I always do. A carriage stopped and the Prince came out to me. I was hoping he would take pity on me and give me a coin. Instead he held out his hand and asked, ‘What will you give to the King?’

"This made me angry. ‘You are the Prince and I am a poor beggar,’ I said. ‘I have been sitting here all day and barely have enough to feed myself. I have nothing to give to the King.’

"Then he said to me, ‘Then I can give you nothing.’ Then he turned and left. I was glad to see him leave."

Just then, a third beggar joined them.

"The strangest thing happened to me today," the third beggar began. "I was sitting by the road as I always do. A carriage stopped and the Prince came out to me. I was hoping he would take pity on me and give me a coin. Instead he held out his hand and asked, ‘What will you give to the King?’

"This made me afraid. ‘You are the Prince and I am a poor beggar,’ I said. ‘I have been sitting here all day and barely have enough to feed myself. However, you are the Prince, so I will give you what I have.’ So I gave him the smallest coin I had. I was surprised when he gave me a small gold coin in return.

"Then he said to me, ‘If you had given more then I would have given more.’ Then he turned and left. I was sad to see him go because I could not offer him the rest of my coins."

They then asked the first beggar, "And what about you?"

"The strangest thing happened to me today," the first beggar began. "I was sitting in the market as I always do. A carriage stopped and the Prince came out to me. I was hoping he would take pity on me and give me a coin. Instead he held out his hand and asked, ‘What will you give to the King?’

"I fell down on my knees. ‘You are the Prince and I am a poor beggar,’ I said. ‘I have been sitting here all day and barely have enough to feed myself. Please take me into your service and I will do whatever you ask of me.’

"Then he said to me, ‘Wait then. I will send the carriage back to take you to the castle. Do not take anything with you because I will provide everything you need.’ Then he turned and left. I have been eagerly waiting ever since."

Just then, the Prince’s carriage stopped in front of the three beggars. The coachman motioned to the first beggar, and he went to the carriage, leaving his few possessions by the fire for the two remaining beggars. From that day on, the first beggar became the doorkeeper for the King. He ate in the King’s court and no one entered the King’s presence without the first beggar’s permission.

"Whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it." – Mat 16:25

Quotable Quotes

Thursday, June 6th, 2002
  • We must be confident in God’s ability.
  • It is not the amount of faith we have, it is Who we have faith in.
  • It is not that one has great faith in God, but that he has faith in a great God.
  • Anything less than faith in God is idolatry.
  • The message of Scripture is quite clear. We should not look to add unnecessary complexity.

How Do We Come To God On His Terms?

Thursday, June 6th, 2002
  • Take the Bible as Truth.
  • Believe and obey even when we do not understand or agree.
  • Seek with the expectation of finding the answer, and then using what we find.
  • Acknowledge and include God in our studies of the Scriptures.

The Church as a Relational Entity

Thursday, June 6th, 2002

There are many organizations in the world today, each with their own set of rules, regulations, and customs. Those who meet and keep the criteria set forward by the organization can be members. The Christian Church in its early days did not have much structure. It was built up of small groups meeting in various houses almost every day of the week. The two things that held the Church together and caused it to grow were the Good News of Jesus Christ and the loving fellowship of the believers.

Jesus said, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35 NIV). The thing that is supposed to distinguish the Christian Church from every other organization is our love for one another. You will not find this in any corporate mission statement.

As the Church grew, however, it became more necessary to establish rules and codes of conduct so that everyone would understand what God expected their behavior to be as believers. Most of these rules were modeled after what Jesus said and did. The rules were not bad in and of themselves. However, how people viewed these rules began to change. These codes of conduct were to be examples of how a Christian should behave in response to having God’s power dwell within them. The behavior was to be an outgrowth of the salvation experience the believer had with God and with his fellow Christian. The foundation was to be love for God and love for people.

How the view changed was subtle, yet very serious. People found that it was possible to follow the “rules” without following God. The same thing had happened to the Jewish culture from which Christianity sprang. For instance, God said “Thou shall not murder.” For most people, this is easy to keep. However, they do not have to keep this command out of reverence for God, and so for the pagan, it is of little eternal value if they keep this command but deny God. The Parisees of Jesus’ day had built a whole religious legal system that could be followed by people who did not know the God they were claiming to serve. An example from the Christian church is Sunday morning services. It is customary in most parts of Christendom for Christians to gather once a week for an hour in a building to hear a lecture. People who have followed this tradition (perhaps from an early age) might consider themselves Christians. However, people can “go to church” and never once make a commitment to God. Even worse, it is possible to go to church and not have to speak with anyone. We call this “fellowship,” but it really is not.

The result is that today the church (specifically the Western church) has little power. There seems to be a trend towards larger and larger churches. However, as the church bodies grow it becomes more and more difficult to really meet with people on an individual level. There also seems to be less and less solid biblical teaching as pastors attempt to avoid offending members of their congregations with calls to repentance, faith, and purity.

In so doing we bypass the true purpose of the Church: to love God and love people. The congregations may “worship” their rules, regulations, programs, and church buildings, but they do not worship the Living God who Saved them through His only Son, Jesus. A church may have services, Sunday school, and other “programs,” but most do not encourage the true fellowship that can only occur in small group settings. Furthermore, congregations tend to rely on their pastors to do all the “spiritual” work, while they forget that Jesus called us to be a “kingdom of priests.” This means that each member of the congregation is really a servant of God and should be actively engaged in spiritual work. Part of this work is the mutual love and edification of one another. It also involves getting into each others lives, to hold each other accountable, and to aid them in times of need.

How will the world know we are Christians if we do not love one another? Why would anyone want to join an “organization” like a church if they are not taught about God and truly experience His love directly and through fellowship? Love is foundational because it identifies us for who we are and Who God is. Rules, structures, and organizations are no substitute for the love that can only exist among believers.

I am not recommending that we abolish organized religion. This is a call for us all to rethink how we relate to one another and how we relate to the world. I have seen large churches develop small group systems within their organizations. Congregation members need to be encouraged to be available to one another throughout the week, not just on Sundays or other scheduled times. Friendships among the members must be encouraged. Not just handshake friendships, but deep, personal, transparent, accountability relationships. People need to feel loved, and that can only happen in a one-on-one basis.

Our churches today are filled with lonely people. People who’s lives are riddled with sin because no one cares enough to correct them. People who have become lazy or have lost hope because no one encourages them. People who are frightened and timid because no one trains them. This must change if we are to be effective witnesses for Christ. We must establish loving relationships with one another if we expect to be used by God to change the lives of those around us.

Not many of us have the courage to take the first step. However, if your heart is stirred by God in this matter, then please, please take the first step. It may involve asking just one person to keep you accountable. You may be bold enough to go before your congregation and ask for a list of people who want to be in small groups. Love should not be difficult for us since the God of Love dwells within us. Sometimes it takes encouragement, so be encouraged. Show your fellow Christian that you love him or her today in the name of Jesus.

What is Fair?

Thursday, June 6th, 2002

Introduction

People complain about things not being fair, but what people are not clear on is what “fair” is. Another problem with fairness is that its application tends to be subjective and situational, and thus inherently inconsistent. There are at least six ways fairness can be implemented in organizations. All center around who sets the vision and mobilizes resources.

Organizational Schemes

Anarchy

There are no rules, and everyone does whatever they want.

Lowest Common Denominator

Only those activities, ideas, and people unanimously agreed upon by all are acceptable. If even the smallest minority opposes a proposition, it is rejected.

Minority Rule (Dictatorship)

One person or a small group makes the rules, and everyone is expected to abide by them.

Proportionality

Activities, ideas, or people “win” in proportion to the distribution of desires. For instance, if 10% of the people want one thing done, and 90% want something else done, the resources are divided up proportionally between the two groups.

Majority Rules

In the purest sense, this is what democracy is. People vote, and whatever activity, law, or person being decided on that ends up with the most votes wins. The minority is expected to abide by the results.

Theocracy

God makes the rules, and all people are expected to live by them.

Strengths

Anarchy

Offers the most freedom. There is no accountability and no opposition. There are no rules, everything is considered right, and thus there is no wrong, guilt, or shame.

Lowest Common Denominator

Commonalities are found where no one is offended. What is unacceptable is easily identified and tossed aside. Only that which is acceptable remains.

Minority Rule (Dictatorship)

Rules can be quickly established and revised.

Proportionality

Tries to satisfy all participants by giving them a portion of what they want.

Majority Rules

The majority of people are satisfied completely. It is more difficult to corrupt the majority, but not impossible.

Theocracy

God is the only being who makes rules that are impartial and beneficial to all. People live satisfying lives where all their needs are met.

Weaknesses

Anarchy

In its pure form, anarchy eliminates all personal interaction. People’s propensity for selfishness tends to harm others. Our natural desire for relationships prevents anarchy from existing on any measurable scale for any length of time. Because of its isolationist characteristic, it is impossible to mobilize resources in anarchy.

Lowest Common Denominator

Allows for only limited interaction. In its pure form, neither the majority nor minority would be able to share in the unique offerings of the other. Only the minimum amount of progress can be accomplished because only rarely is a new idea acceptable to all. Difficulty in reaching consensus increases with the number of individuals involved.

Minority Rule (Dictatorship)

Only the minority is completely satisfied. Oppression results if the minority uses its position to serve itself rather than the interest of the society. It can quickly degenerate into Tyranny where an elite minority is satisfied at the expense of the rest of the population. Bribery and corruption can quickly become a problem.

Proportionality

This rarely pleases everyone. Some projects require resources that exceed the proportion of what is allotted. In some scenarios, resources would be spread too thinly to accomplish any of the goals set forth by any of the groups.

Majority Rules

Can lead to ignoring the needs of the minority. In its extreme, the minority is oppressed or even eliminated.

Theocracy

God has not yet taken control of governing systems. Theocracy is currently limited to individuals or small groups that often have difficulty discerning exactly what God wants them to do. Theocratic subjects currently live within other political systems where conflicts can occur where the two systems do not mesh.

Is Psalm 118:8 is the center verse in the Bible?

Wednesday, June 5th, 2002

he 118:8 “center” comes from someone incorrectly identifying 118 as the center chapter and then asserting that verse 8 as the center verse of the center chapter. However, on the first point, it is easy to see that someone miscounted. 117 is actually the center chapter in the Bible. Secondly, 118 has 29 verses, making 8 the incorrect “center of the center.”

There are two reasons why these incorrect numbers are so widely reported. One is that an e-mail with this information became widely distributed a long time ago, in a way that is similar to how virus hoaxes are perpetuated (i.e., “pass this along to everyone you know”). It has been shown repeatedly that people will forward information without verifying its validity. The second reason is that other “statistics” were included in the e-mail, supposedly showing a general pattern of “1188” comes through counting chapters. The claim is that this pattern shows the “perfection” of the Bible. Unfortunately, all of this is based on faulty math!

Perhaps it is ironic that 118:8 speaks to trusting God rather than man. We can only guess about the person who sent the original message. If someone attempted to “prove” the validity of Scripture through numerology, they only proved this verse by coming up with the wrong answer through human error. Of course, the correct proof of Scripture is in the historical facts, the present changed lives, and the future fulfillment of the remainder of prophecy, not the supposed symmetry of Scripture. Such faulty logic is further compounded by remembering that the original text did not have chapters or verses. On the other hand, if the person was malicious, they probably set out to “prove” that Christians are gullible. I doubt that Christians are any more gullible than anyone else, but perhaps it shows that we are not as careful with information about our most important book as we could be. It might also show that we focus too much on trivial information.