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[ Friday
September 22nd 2006]

firerock_pro
I'm not sure if any of you have heard of this movie/documentary/not sure before, but it's called "Jesus Camp" and it's about this kids' camp that seems pretty extreme.

Here's a link to the trailer:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y_EKHK1C2IE

Here's a news story aBC news did on it:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7UWIb4FwHPg

I'm really wondering what other people's reaction to this is. I think maybe the trailer seems to paint it in a bad light and the movie itself might be really good...I don't know.

So watch and comment. Please. I haven't formed a formal opinion of it yet, I think, because I want to wait and see the whole thing. But the trailer did weird me out a bit.

Thanks all!
[Read] 1 [Comment]

softening hard hearts.. [ Friday
March 31st 2006]

_touchdownx_
TODAY'S READING: Leviticus 26:40-45
Disobedience has consequences. As God spoke to the people of Isreal through Moses, these were his final words. After outlining his commands to the people, God wanted them to be sure of two things.
Disobedience has consequences.
Obedience offers rewards.
Today we live under a different but similar agreement with God. You may wonder...different but similar? Exactly. Under the old agreement, God expected us to be holy and faithful to Him. He provided laws, regulations, and instructions.
The biggest difference under the new agreement is Jesus. Jesus came to bring a final, eternal sacrifice. Jesus came to show us God in the flesh. Jesus came to live out what the old agreement was supposed to look like. Jesus came to show that God wants to remove limits, not set minimum expectations. Jesus was the answer to a relationship with God that had become more about rules than transformation.
Whether it's the old agreement or the new one, the bottom line is the same. Following God is much more about your heart than your outward appearance. Didn't God tell Samuel, "The LORD doesn't make decisions the way you do! People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at a person's thoughts and intentions." (1 Samuel 16:7)
So what is the purpose of consequences? Why can't a loving God just rescue us from bad choices so we don't have to suffer? Because without consequences, true change will seldom happen. God's grace cannot be fully realized without recognizing we have done wrong.
We all have two basic responses to sin and its consequences. We can harden our hearts towards God and head further and further into destruction. Or we can allow our difficulties to soften our heart and allow the grace of God to heal.
Want to see an example of the two choices lived out? Let's look at Judas and Peter.
Judas sold Jesus out. He took money to betray his friend Jesus. And after his betrayal he stayed in his sin and allowed it to drive him to the point of suicide. His guilt killed his spirit. As far as we know, he never tried to seek forgiveness.
Peter on the other hand had a broken heart. When he denied Jesus and looked into the eyes of his friend, Peter went away and wept. And on that beach one morning he shared breakfast with Jesus and found the grace of God in full measure. It was only a few weeks later that the man who denied Jesus stood in the same city and proclaimed Christ to thousands.
Is your heart hard against God in some area of your life? Do you feel guilty about something? Do you feel like God has deserted you? If you feel any of these things remember the promise God made to the Israelites. "I will not utterly reject or despise them while they are in exile in the land of their enemies. I will not cancel my covenant with them by wiping them out. I, the LORD, am their God. I will remember my ancient covenant with their ancestors, whom I brought out of Egypt while all the nations watched. I, the LORD, am their God."
We serve a God who keeps His promises. Our God is faithful and will never leave us. The question is, are our hearts hardened to the point where we might leave Him?

stay strong.

Erik. S.
[Read] 2 [Comment]

Sin its fun, but is it worth it [ Thursday
March 30th 2006]

_touchdownx_
TODAY'S READING: Hebrews 3:5-19
There are some things about sin that are just plain fun. Let's be honest. If sin wasn't so fun at times would it really be so appealing? But that is the problem. It is fun "at times." More specifically, it is fun at the moment we are in it. Unfortunately, sin has a way of keeping us focused on the fun part and forgetting about the consequences that follow.
That is exactly what happened to the nation of Israel. After God rescued them from Egypt and they ended up at Mount Sinai, they forgot about their slavery. They were only focused on the homes and material things they had in Egypt. For some reason they forgot about the chains, the taskmasters, and the whips. They were deceived. In spite of all God had done for them, they complained. Even though God had freed them from the bondage of slavery, they wanted to go back. They saw the plagues, but wanted Egypt. They watched the Red Sea part, but they wanted Egypt. They receive the manna, but they wanted Egypt.
You and I may sit here and ask why they were so foolish. But will a future generation look at us and ask the same thing?
God freed us from the need for materialism, but we still seek fulfillment in how much we have. God freed us from the need for sexual impurity, but we still seek fulfillment telling tasteless jokes, watching movies and TV shows that glorify sexuality, and from inappropriate attention from the opposite sex. God freed us from legalism, but we still seek fulfillment by pointing out other people's faults while ignoring our own.
This list could probably go on, but I think Paul says it better than I do...
"Let there be no sexual immorality, impurity, or greed among you. Such sins have no place among God's people. Obscene stories, foolish talk, and coarse jokes--these are not for you. Instead, let there be thankfulness to God. You can be sure that no immoral, impure, or greedy person will inherit the Kingdom of Christ and of God. For a greedy person is really an idolater who worships the things of this world. Don't be fooled by those who try to excuse these sins, for the terrible anger of God comes upon all those who disobey him. Don't participate in the things these people do. For though your hearts were once full of darkness, now you are full of light from the Lord, and your behavior should show it! For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true." (Ephesians 5:3-9)
Ultimately, we must guard our hearts against sin. If we allow sin to deceive us, our hearts will become hardened against God. We will begin to blame God for things and get angry with Him for denying things we want. As that happens our hearts start to fill with evil and we stop believing in God. Then we turn away from Him.
The good thing is that God is always there waiting for us, even when we are walking away from Him. In the midst of our struggle with sin, God remains faithful. God wants to share all He has with us, but He can't share it if we leave Him.
If you feel your heart has hardened against God, seek Him patiently and realize that it takes time for a heart to soften. If you believe your heart is beginning to harden, turn back towards God. Even if you feel your heart is not hard, continue to draw closer to God. All of us have a hardening somewhere in our heart; we are just not close enough to God to realize it yet. As we continue to grow in our faith, God will reveal to us things we need to change. No one is ever perfect, but we must always seek to know God a little better so He can continue to mold us into the people He wants us to be. But to be molded we must be softened. Let God soften your heart.


Erik.S
[Read] 2 [Comment]

I'm back, sorry again [ Monday
March 27th 2006]

shendolin
Well, I vanished again. Sorry about that, and I'll do my best to keep this up from here on in. Similar reason, some issues I needed to deal with. It's kinda funny, I never realized how many issues I had untill I came to university. Well, maybe not haha funny, but funny to me. In response, I will do a double devotion today. One for everyone, which is something I realized that was reassured by the service at my school tonight, and one that is my own thinkings. The seccond is a guy approach, on a guy problem, with a guy's advice to guys. In case you didn't pick it up, it is geared towards the male part of the species. I'm not trying to be sexist, but I'm not a woman, and so, I can't do a similar post for women. So I'll leave it up to anyone else who is interested. And there are some good points in there for either gender. However, I will be speaking of some things quite plainly, and I won't be holding back on the language (No bad language mind you, just some words that are seen as taboo in many circles)


The first one, well, as I said, it's my musings, assisted by chapel tonight. The text used in chapel tonight was Luke 4:1-13. A story that many of us are probably fairly well knowing of. But there is one thing that I think we read so many times, we forget to realize it. Verse 13. "When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time." Look at the last little bit there, "an opportune time". The devil does not give up. He has been fighting Jesus eternally. However, he is not God. He does not know everything. In fact, I believe he didn't know what Jesus was at the time. But that's another thought for another time. The idea here is that the devil waits for the right moment, then attacks. The right moment comes in many forms. It can come in an individual, in a time of weakness. It can come to a city, in a time of crisis. Or it can come to a nation, in an age of apathy. We have all experienced the first, I am sure. The seccond, we may not have experienced, but we know of. Think about the crime and chaos in New Orleans when it got hit with the hurricane. And the last, we all live in that age now. An age in which spirituality is gloriously alive. There has probably been few to no other times in history where spirituality was not only as accepted, but as exalted as it is now. However, spirituality is anything but well in the world. We live in a world where there are new age movements, alternative religions, wicca, zen, tarrot, and the internet, allowing all to access all the information they could want, without having to worry about what others may think. This is a time in which I believe the devil has found a playground. There are people meddling with forces they do not understand, and inviting evil forces, and demons into their lives, into their hearts, without even knowing what they are doing. This is a time where studies on exorcism, and deliverance, have become more and more popular. Where they are more and more needed. However, this isn't a good thing. To paraphrase from C.S.Lewis, there are two mistakes that can be made. Either ignoring the forces of evil, or an unhealthy fixation. Either makes them equally glad. So there is something we, as christians, have to realize, to avoid the seccond. Yes exorcisms and deliverences happen. But they are not the frontline of this battle we have. The frontline is fighing the devil day to day. Resisting the temptation, fixing our eyes on Christ, and living for him. Every time we resist temptation, we further the kingdom of God, if only a little step.

While that is the important thing to remember, there is another thing I should add. As I said, exorcism and deliverence do happen. There are evil and demonic forces at work in our world. But we have power over them. That power is Jesus Christ, and if we believe that there are evil forces at work, either within us, or around us, we need only command them to leave, through the power of Jesus Christ, and they have no choice. They are forced to submit to his power, and if we ask in his name, he will give us that power.

Anyways, it's getting late, so I'm going to wrap up here. I will do the other one tomorow, as I really need my sleep right now. And for now, I'm not going to fix myself to an exact schedule (i.e. having devotions up every tuesday) but I give you my word that I will do my best to have one up each week, whenever I have internet access.
[Comment]

[ Wednesday
February 15th 2006]

lovelyladyjane
[ mood | productive ]

As promised, I have a Role Playing Game up and ready. If you're interested, go to www.playbyweb.com, click on Other, and then on Visiting Ancients. Any other questions, just ask. The background is a follows:

While exploring the archeological dig left by the Preservers of the Ancients, a group of students come across a rare and wonderful find. They are not entirely sure how it works; all they know is what it does. It takes the imagination and transfers it to a time many thousands of years into the past. It is, for all practical proposes, a time portal.

Envision fighting along with the Children of Israel at the Battle of Jericho. Imagine aiding the Queen Esther as she prepares for what could be her death-walk to see the king. Consider what it was like to be at the foot of Jesus’ cross witnessing the moment all history was created for. That’s what this portal does.

[Comment]

[ Thursday
February 9th 2006]

lovelyladyjane
[ mood | curious ]

Hey guys,
I was wondering if anyone would be intersted in a Christian text-based RPG if I were to create one on PlayByWeb. I really enjoy going on that site, but the one damper is, most of the games are deffinately not Christian. But the thing is, I can't play a game by myself. I need at least three other people. If anyone is interested, please let me know. If there's enough interest, I will make one and advertise it here.

Also, ideas would be appreciated right about now. If you've got an idea about what you want to play- like a sci-fi, end-times, bible times, etc sort of story- please let me know.

And for those of you who don't know the site, the adress is www.playbyweb.com.

Thank you for your interest.

Lady Jane

[Read] 2 [Comment]

Letter to the church in Thyatura [ Tuesday
February 7th 2006]

shendolin
The Revelation Churches Series.
Part 1: The church in Ephesus (http://community.livejournal.com/training_camp/24457.html)
Part 2: The church in Smyrna (http://community.livejournal.com/training_camp/24583.html)
Part 3: The church in Peragamum (http://community.livejournal.com/training_camp/25100.html)

First of all, I would like to appologise for missing last week. I was dealing with some personal issues, things that kept me away from the computer, dampened my mood, and, in general, kept me from doing it. Suffice to say that it wasn't merely a whim to not do it, there was a reason. Now, onto today's devotion.

Now this letter, fairly long, spanning from Revelation 2:18, to Revelation 2:29 (the end of the chapter)

It begins like thoe others. It praises them for what they have done. For their "love and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first." Now this is a point that I failed to make with the other letters. The ordering is very important. This is the first of the letter made, after affirming the authority of the letter, by sayin it is from Jesus. The fact that it is first shows us an important fact. God looks first and foremost at what we have done. More accurately, what we have done right. It also gives us a good, breif summary of how you can recognise a good chrsitian. The first is by their faith and love. This is more than their faith in, and love for God, it also extends to others. We are called to have faith in the good that is in creation, and love what God has created. We are called to love him first and foremost, but we are also called to love the rest of the world.

Secconldy, service and perseverance. We are called to be God's hand in this world, which is where the service comes in. But it isn't always easy. Sometimes, it can cause us great amounts of pain and trouble. That can make it hard to do as we should. It is when we are following God's will that the foces of hell attack us most ferverently. And so, that is where the perseverance comes in. We must keep doing as God wishes us to, even when it gets hard.

The last commendation they get is that of doing more than they were in the beginning I believe this is an especially important part. It means we are called to grow as christians. Similar to working out to build muscle, you can't keep doing the same amount of weight. Similarly, when building ourselves up spiritually, we are called to keep doing more and more for it. If we continue to do the same as we were before, than we will not grow. Instead we will become stagnant, and, similar to water, stagnant water is not much use at all.

The letter then moves into repremands. Specifically, for allowing the false prophetess "Jezebel". Now, there are two problems here. The first is Jezebel herself. The Bible contains many warning against false prophets, and talks about how to recognize them. And one of the main messages that is given to us is to look at what someone does, and how it lines up with the Bible, and use that to determine their validity. There is more, such as through the wisdom given to us through the spirit, but I believe the main one is comparing their words, deeds, and goals, to those of the Bible. Now, very few people will come forward to proclaim themselves prophets, but that doesn't mean we can let down our guard. In this regard, I believe it applies to all people. Especially people like pastors, who teach, as well as gaining their authority from, God. But there are many out there, who really have no interest in God. This can be seen through by looking at what they teach. Places that tell you things like "The spirit compells you to give double what you were planning to." (Yes, thats an actual phrase I heard come out of a pastor's mouth). Or if they are obviously in the position for the paycheque, not because they feel it's where God wants them to be. Basically, I think this part applies to us in that we have to be cautious about who we listen to.

The seccond problem is with the actions themselves. The sexual immorality. The issue with this isn't that they were tempted, because everyone is tempted at times. The problem comes in that they followed Jezebel, not because they thought she was telling the truth, but because it was what they wanted to do. This is an example of a sin of self delusion. They knew it was wrong, and went against the Biblical teachings, but they wanted to participate, so they tricked themselves into believing that it was the truth, that Jezebel really was a prophetess, and so, they were able to indulge guilt free. This is a warnding against fooling ourselves. I thing the most important part of it is showing that we have the ability and will to do it, given certian motivations, so we must have caution for it.

And at the end of this, there is a promise for those who remained faithful. Now, I will point out here, all that is asked of them is that they continue remaining faithful. They are living in difficult times, and it is realized that making headway is beyond their ability. Like someone caught in a raging river, they are holding on to a rock, but that doesn't mean that they can swim upriver. But salvation and power is promised if they can continue to hold on. I believe we are in a similar state in our world now. We are awash in the flood of immorality and debauchery, as well as corruption and chaos in this world. We are in a position where the only way we can make any kind of ground is through God given strength, and by our own power, it's all we can do to hold on to our own current position.

Well, thats the end of this letter. Next week, the church of Sardis.
[Read] 1 [Comment]

[ Tuesday
February 7th 2006]

mickydgit84
URGENT PRAYER REQUEST!!

A guy that works with my brother got hit by a car going 60 mph while he was crossing the street. They say that he is in really bad condition and may not make it through the night. All you prayer warriors, please pray! <3
[Read] 2 [Comment]

[ Wednesday
February 1st 2006]

mickydgit84
[ mood | restless ]

SPECIAL ALERT! NBC to mock the Crucifixion of Christ

NBC, fresh from giving us the anti-Christian The Book of Daniel, has decided to hit back at the Christian community by presenting an episode of Will and Grace which mocks the crucifixion of Christ.

On the April 13 edition of NBC's Will and Grace, Britney Spears will appear as a Christian conservative sidekick to Sean Hayes' homosexual character, Jack, who hosts his own talk show.

Jack's fictional network, Out TV, is bought by a Christian TV network, leading to Spears contributing a cooking segment called "Cruci-fixin's." To further denigrate Christianity, NBC chose to air it the night before Good Friday.

NBC does not treat Jews, Muslins or other religions with such disrespect. Yet the network demonstrates a deep of hostility toward followers of Christ.

TAKE ACTION



Call your local NBC affiliate and ask them not to air the April 13 episode of Will and Grace. Ask others to call. Click here to find your local NBC station. http://www.nbc.com/nbc/header/Local_Stations/


Click here to send a letter to NBC Chairman Bob Wright. (https://secure.afa.net/afa/afapetition/takeaction.asp?id=183) Ask your pastor to run a notice in your church bulletins and newsletters and request members to go to www.afa.net and send the email to NBC Chairman Wright.


Click here to print out a petition(pdf) asking your local NBC affiliate not to air the April 13 episode and distribute it to your Sunday School class and fellow church members. (http://www.afa.net/passalong/pdf/nbc_mocks_crucifixion.pdf)
Next, and this is very important, please forward this to your friends and family today!


Thanks for caring enough to get involved.

Sincerely,

Don

Donald E. Wildmon, Founder and Chairman
American Family Association

P.S. Please forward this e-mail message to your family and friends!

[Comment]

Revelation Church Series: Part 3: The church in Peragamum [ Wednesday
January 25th 2006]

shendolin
Sorry that this is late. Some internet problems last night prevented me from posting it then.

The Revelation Churches Series.
Part 1: The church in Ephesus (http://community.livejournal.com/training_camp/24457.html)
Part 2: The church in Smyrna (http://community.livejournal.com/training_camp/24583.html)

Today: Part 3: The church in Peragamum
So today, we are on the church in Peragamum. This letter is acutally a very short one, spanning verse 12 to verse 17. It commends the people for living how they did, "Where Satan has his throne". Now what this actually means can be debated much. For the purposes of this devotion, I will take the one most applicable to us in the present. It was a very immoral city. Now this applies to everyone reading this, because currently, everywhere on this earth is immoral. There are rising crime rates, the internet has a booming trade in immoral acts of all kinds, we subvert nature, forcing it to our will instead of bringing it to the fruition of God's will. Yet dispite this, we are called to remain true to his name. Now of course the question becomes, how far are we to go to be true to God's name? I think the letter makes that quite clear as well. It talks of Antipas, who was put to death. We are called to be willing to go as far as martyrdom, but at the same time, we are not called to violent nor even offensive acts. We are called, obviously, to act, yet those actions must be within the frame given to us by the rest of the Bible.

Which brings us to the seccond part. God calls them down for actions they have taken. For listening to others, instead of to God. This also is a quite obvious application in our lives. We reap what we sow, what we put into ourselves, determines our final outcome. We are called to listen to God and no other. We are called to test everything we hear against what the Bible says. Everything from a pastor, a friend, a parent. Indeed, I even expect that if you find something contradictory to the Bible, then I expect you to point it out to me, and either we can find a way to fit the two togeather in a way that makes sense and glorifies God, or I will admit I made a mistake. This is because there will always be people who claim to speak the worlds of God, but in truth, work only for themselves. This includes even things like commercials, saying that to be perfect you only need this item, or this insurance can be your salvation, or anything. Everything we see in this world must be viewed with a critical eye.

Finally, I would like to appologise. I realize that these tend to be fairly shallow devotions, however, being a prospective pastor/missionary, I fall into what my friend and I call being a "Rambling Religion Major" meaning I have to keep in concise, or I could go on for hours and hours about it. Which I don't have time with my busy schedule to do, and I'm sure you don't have time to read. However, I do enjoy going into that depth, and anyone else who wants to discuss, we can maybe start a group online Bible study or something. For this I was thinking set a time, and make a group conversation on MSN including everyone who wants to be a part of it. So if this sounds like your cup of tea, email me, or add me on MSN (Manatheren_Aemon@hotmail.com for both) and tell me, and I'll try to arrange a time that works for everyone.
[Read] 1 [Comment]

[ Friday
January 20th 2006]

shendolin
I'm trying to compile a list of Bible verses for a friend. However, my knowledge of this specific subject in the Bible is between minimal and nonexistant, so I'm asking for some help.

Specifically, my friend is going through a really hard break up, and I am looking for verses to help them. This includes verses such as ones that encourage telling us that God will continue loving us even if the world turns it's back, and anything else that could help them through this time. It's kinda a last munite thing I am putting togeather, as they are leaving tomorow, and I won't see them for a couple weeks at least, and I accept that most people don't have the verses memorized, but if you can even remember the gist of a verse related to this, it would be much appreciated.

Thanks for reading this, even if you can't help, please just say a little prayer for them in this tough time they are going through, and also please pray that God may give me the words to say to support them in this time.
[Read] 1 [Comment]

The Smyrna Church [ Wednesday
January 18th 2006]

shendolin
Alrighty, I would again like to ask forgiveness for this being late. I just feel bad about not doing schoolwork monday nights, and get wrapped up in it. So I'm going to likely officially move this to a Tuesday night devotion, because I have night class Tuesday, so I feel better about not doing work.

Anyways, on to the devotion. The seccond of seven weeks on the letters in Revelation. Last week, we went over Ephesus. We spoke about the praise they got from god, for being faithful, and ther chastisement for falling from their "First Love". I also related this to us, in our current day, and tied in the judgement, should they refuse to follow his command, and rewards if they do follow it.

This brings us to the church in Smyrna. This is the shortest letter, spanning only four veses (8-11), but I believe it is highly applicable in this world, especially considering the theme of this community. The letter begins again, with an introduction of the authority of which these words were spoken, "him who is the First and the Last, who died and rose again." Once again, this introduction reveals that these are more than just words, these are the words of the Lord. He then follows with a number of problems they feel they are facing, and encourages them on each one.

The first, is their poverty. He responds with merely "yet you are ritch!" This can be interpreted many ways. One is that it means that they are ritch comparatively, however, I prefer to opt for a more symbolic route. I believe it is refering to ritches in heaven, for their good deeds and faithfulness. The next subject he adresses is the slander from the Jewish people. However, again, the response brushes the problem away as nothing, calling them "synagogue of Satan". Now we have to be careful with this verse. The first danger we must avoid is the fact that this can be used to encourage racism. The verse is refering to those who are calling themselves Jewish people, and condemning the Christians. The other is we have to rememer that they have no power over us. Although they are declaired the synagogue of Satan, we are under God's power, and God is more powerful than Satan, and so protects us from him when we need it.

This, however, brings us to the next part of the letter. It is a warning from God to remain faithful. But beyond that, he tells about ten days of persecution the church will undergo. However, he promises the crown of life to those who persevere, even unto death. This however, at first sight, contradicts with the above. If God is all powerful, why must they undergo persecution? For this, I will employ another symbol. Not as modern as the girlfriend/boyfriend one of last week, this one only comes up to the middle ages. It is the symbol of a staff. Now when you were making a staff, you had to choose the wood carfully. You would then choose a suitable block of wood, which would, in this case be the church. However, a block of wood is near useless, as it is too large and clumbsy. So first, it must be shaped into a rough, smaller shape. This is done by numerous tools, which I would compare to the various forms of persecution. There is also a step of sanding it down, and waxing it. The sanding would be the grinding of time, loosing the chuch of those who lose their passionate love of God and Jesus, as outlined in the last devotion. You are then left with a quarterstaff useful in the hands of someone who knows how to use it, and as God is the Lord of All, he is certianly a master

The letter, similar to the other, ends on a hopeful note. It tells us that those who overcome, will not be hurt by the seccond death, confirming that Jesus will save us.


One final point of housekeeping. I was considering when I did series like this, to put links back to previous installments. But I don't know how usefull it will be, and it may just take up space that could be better used. So I would ask anyone with a preference to comment telling me what they think on this. Thanks.
[Read] 2 [Comment]

Sorry and Monday Bible Study [ Wednesday
January 11th 2006]

shendolin
First of all, I'm sorry to y'all about vanishing for a couple weeks. It didn't occur to me till I was away from school that I wouldn't really have an internet connection. So again, my appologies for vanishing.

But one advantage to being away from the internet for a time, is the time it gives you to think, to pray, and to listen. The past couple weeks have been full of that, and although I got back from school on Wed, the experience was so great that I made what I suppose was a somewhat selfish move, as I have obligations to fulfill on the net (this being one of them) and remained disconnected from all but a few. However, I have now got a new idea for a bible study, that I feel God has planted in my heart. It is a seven week long one, on Revelation. Not general, but very specific. I'm not going to be predicting the rapture by 2008, or talk about how we are living in the end days. I believe we are, but people have been saying that since Jesus' time, and even before.

I will be looking specifically at the seven letters to the seven churches. Now, a little background for those who don't know. Revelation was written by John, many people believe about 60 years after Jesus death. He was in Patmos, which was a prision camp, hard labor that usually resulted in death. He had all of the visions doctumented in Revelation while there, and one of the earliest halmarks was dictation of letters for the seven churches.

This first church was in the town of Ephesus. It begins at the beginning of Revelation 2 and contiunes to Revelation 2:7. It begins introducting the authority with which this is said. "Him who holds the seven stars, and walks among the seven golden lampstands." These are the words of God Himself. And he begins, reassuringly, with words of prase. Verses two to three talk about many things the church has done right, and well. Their deeds, their hard work, their perseverance. They have tested false apostles, and found the truth. They have endured hardships, and are still working with God, as the verse says, they "have not grown weary."

These people always remind me of many church members of the day. They think they are doing great works, great things for God. Their deeds are great. They work hard, and diligently, in whatever they do, for the glory of God. They think before they believe, helping them avoid such scams as Peter Popov (I think that was the name)

However, to those people, the next part would likely be quite humbling. Because nobody is perfect, this letter has of course, things God is holding against them. They have "lost their first love", and because of this, they have fallen. He calls them to remember what they once did.

Again, a modern image, because my belief is that in the old way of writing, it doesn't mean so much to us, but when we look back with a example we understand, it makes more sense.

This example is of a boyfriend and girlfriend. They meet first semester university, and it is love at first sight. They are always togeather, holding hands, hugging, talking, enjoying each others presence. Obviously true love, and they are in for the long haul. A year passes, and a seccond, they are now in third year, and just as strongly in love as before. The boy regularly meets her outside her classes, carrying her books. He surprises her while she works with flowers, all in all, he is pulling out all the stops, woo factor at full. Then, nearing end of December, he asks her to marry him. They do, and are wed just after winter term exams. They honeymoon, and return to school. The wife is now walking back from class alone, the husband no longer surprises her at work. All in all, it seems almost as if they are no more than friends around school. The love is still there, but the husband no longer feels the need to woo the woman.

This relates to the bible an amazing amount. When we first come to the faith, we are in that "First love" period. Everything is rose colored. We can't wait to tell everyone about God and Jesus, our lives are growing, reading the bible every day, volunteering, all with a pure and holy heart. Then we begin to fall out. We begin volunteering, not because we think it is a great idea, but because we always have. It is now a habit, not a work of love. We read the Bible, but we skim it. We tell people about God and Jesus, but not with the same fervor, and are silenced more easily. God is always calling us back to that beginning. Back to when he was everything to us. When we were "woo-ing" him, so to speak. Same as a wife still wants to be made to feel special and central in her husband's life, so God does not want to be a backseat part of our lives.

The end of the paragraph holds both a concequence, and a hope. The concequence is that God will remove their lampstand from it's place. Now I'll be the first to admit, I'm not sure what this means. Many possibilities, no certianties. But one thing is sure. It isn't a good thing to do, and not something we would desire. However, the letter ends with similarly, stipulations should they follow his commands. They are promised the right to eat from the tree of life, which is most definately a good thing, especially as it is "in the paradise of God" which means, tied to the promise of the fruit, is that we will get to joing God in paradise, should we follow his command, and return to the love we once had.


Next Monday, we will look at the church of Smyrna, verses eight to eleven.
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[ Monday
January 9th 2006]

christian_in_ky
I heard this in a bible study on the radio. Thought it was cute.

Acts 17:22,23
22So Paul, standing before the Council,[e] addressed them as follows: "Men of Athens, I notice that you are very religious, 23for as I was walking along I saw your many altars. And one of them had this inscription on it--`To an Unknown God.' You have been worshiping him without knowing who he is, and now I wish to tell you about him.


The people of Athens were like the woman who married four men in succession. She married a banker, then an actor, then a minister, and finally an undertaker.

She was covering all her bases.

She married one for the money, two for the show, three to get ready, and four to go.

Hope you got a laugh out of this. I did.
[Read] 1 [Comment]

Ripple effect [ Monday
December 26th 2005]

_touchdownx_
sunday in our teens class we talked about impacting other people. One of the things that kept coming up is "the ripple effect." The basic idea is that what we do is like throwing a rock in the middle of pond. The ripples go out from where the rock lands and they affect the things around them.
Paul wrote the church in Colosse, "And whatever you do or say, let it be as a representative of the Lord Jesus, all the while giving thanks through him to God the Father." (Colossians 3:17)
It is important that everything we do represents Jesus well, because it all has influence. Everytime we interact with someone, what we do will either draw them closer to Jesus or push them away from Jesus. Even the small things like the words we speak and the way we act will tell people a lot about our character.
People will "listen" a lot more to our actions than they will listen to our words. Our lifestyle must be consistant with our message. The apostle John wrote, "Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Christ did." (1 John 2:6) We can't just talk the talk, we must walk the walk.
The bottom line is this. If we are going to make a difference for Jesus in this world, our ripples need to be Jesus-like. Jesus Himself said, "You are the light of the world--like a city on a mountain, glowing in the night for all to see. Don't hide your light under a basket! Instead, put it on a stand and let it shine for all. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father." (Matthew 5:14-16)
When we are willing to live like Jesus and shine for Him, then we will send out ripples that will draw people to Him.

i am going to leave you guys with one of my fav verses

Hebrews 11:1, "What is faith? It is the confident assurance that something we want is going to happen. It is the certainty that what we hope for is waiting for us, even though we cannot see it up ahead."
[Comment]

"Christians" are the biggest obstacle to the gospel [ Wednesday
December 21st 2005]

_touchdownx_
When I talk to people about Jesus I often get objections. I guess I say objections because I worked in sales for a number of years and objections is our fancy term for excuses. Now, I don't say excuses to say that some are not valid. As a matter of fact, most objections/excuses that people have are legitimate. And most sincere objections can be overcome with discussion and evaluation.
But there is one objection that I struggle with overcoming. That is when people say that they don't want to follow Christ because of "Christians" they have experienced in life. Hypocrites. Self-righteous. Holier than thou. The list goes on and on, but the essence is the same. People don't want to follow Jesus because "Christians" don't always follow Jesus.
Now, before you overreact and start quoting bumper stickers (i.e. "Christians aren't perfect, just forgiven") let me explain. I understand that all sin and fall short of the glory of God. However, some don't even aim for the glory of God. It is hard to "fall short" when you are not even aiming for the target. There are a lot of Christians who wear the jewelry, sit in the pew, and dress the part. But many of these people fail to pick up their cross and follow Him. They would rather look like a Christian than live like one. This can be a dangerous proposition because it is dishonest. In his second (recorded) letter to the church in Corinth, Paul writes that we are representatives of Christ. That His followers are to be His ambassadors in this world. Our duty is to point people to the Christ. We must do that in the way we think, the way we act, and the way we speak. It is more than words; it is action!
Mark Steele writes in his book flashBANG...
Those who say, "I follow Jesus; follow me to Him," while not being responsible to actually live the truth consistently are in essence leading mankind somewhere else that God did not intend.
Where are we leading people? I ask this question to each of us as individuals and as a body. Are we leading people to the Christ? Or are we leading them to our self-selected, self-imposed vision of what "Christianity" looks like? Are we making them followers of Christ or followers of "the church?" The church is not the essence of Christianty. We should not practice Churchianity.
As I finish this rambling I guess I would look at my own life and realize that too often I have been all about the church and not about the Christ. Jesus is taking me on this journey that continues to draw me closer to Him and away from the obstacles that I have placed in my own life. I have allowed non-central items to act as central items and distract me from the real core of Christianty, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Maybe you are in a similar situation. Are you often torn between religion and relationship? Or maybe you're torn between church and Christ? None of these things are inherently bad, it just depends on who or what has preeminance. Our relationship with Jesus should shape our religion, not the other way around. Christ should define the church; the church should not define the Christ.
Are you an obstable to the gospel? I believe we all are at times. But as we are drawn closer to the cross we learn John's motto that, "He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less." (John 3:30)
Become less so that Jesus may be everything to the world.


In Him

Erik S.
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Beginning [ Monday
December 19th 2005]

shendolin
And so, I plan to begin a form of devotions, as I said in my last post. However, while most of them will be biblically based, this one is an experiential one. My experience in fact. See, last October, I was in Grade 12, completely sure that God had me destined for the sciences. However, he began to shut doors in my face. Some of them quite painfully. It took me quite a while to notice what was happening, and finally turn my eyes to God's leading. Over the next month, he showed me that he wanted me to be working in ministry, specifically, Youth ministry. However, even after I made that decision, for that with my life, I sitll was unsure about it. It is really miraculous how God works in us, and shows us the value of our decisions. Two major decisions came within the space of a year, and both of them, God reassured me all throughout it.

The first was, as I said above, practically a complete 180 in my life decision. At the beginning, I had some huge doubts about it. Mainly because I had chosen courses for grade 12 with the Science future assumption in mind. Many of my courses were year long ones, instead of the standard semester, and were all three advance placement sciences. And so, I had quite a few doubts. But God was faithful in reassuring me in opening all the doors I needed. My church was very supportive, especially our new Youth Pastor, there was CCUT (Christian Colleges and Univesity Tour), as well as just tonnes of information that he helped me find through many other resources. Through that, he reaffirmed my decision that I was doing his will.

However, that led to the seccond problem. There were no universities that I felt called to, nor wanted to attend, in Toronto. So I broadened my search to all of Canada. I found about five to ten that I wanted to attend, however I only felt God leading me to two of them. Redeemer, in Ancaster (Near Hamilton, about 40 mins south of Toronto) and Briercrest, out in the praries. So, trusting God again, I applied to only those two, dispite my friends and reason telling me that it was foolish, and that I should apply to all of them. And so, May 15th, the acceptance letter from Briercrest came in. I was happy, I had been accepted, but I was also, at the same time hoping that my Redeemer letter was somewhere as well, as Redeemer was the one I wanted to go to more. The next day passed without me getting it, and I was about to send my acceptance to Briercrest, when my parents told me to wait a week. After all, the deadline was in a month, a week wouldn't hurt anything. So I spent the next day in prayer to God, asking him what he wanted me to do, as I knew in the end, his plan would be better for me than what I selfishly wanted. The next day, the Redeemer acceptance came. However, dispite how excited I was, I waited the rest of the week. Praying, I finally decided that Redeemer was the place for many reasons.

And God has reenforced that decsision many ways. I have met a girl here. A very nice one, albeit quite short (I'm especially tall, so she looks especially short beside me). I've also made a ton of great friends, and it's a liberal arts university, meaning as opposed to dumping a million theology courses on me, as will happen in a few years at seminary, the basis is broader. For example, this year, I am taking Two history courses, Two theology courses, Psychology, Philosophy, English, Theatre, Political Science, and two half courses, Introduction to Worldview, and Phys. Ed. All of them are taught from a christian perspective, and all of them I have learned interesting things that will be usefull to my future in many ways.

So remember, whenever you make a choice, God will reinforce that it was the right one. And always remember one simple fact. There is always a way to know what decision is permissible in God's plan, and it is a simple test. If God allows it to happen, then it is part of his eternal plan. He will never let you stray from the path once you have started in it, and he will never drop you once you have put yourself into his hands.
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Long time [ Monday
December 19th 2005]

_touchdownx_
hey guys i am very sorry that I've been non active for a long time maybe a year. But i have been missing chatting with guys and posting my devos which I am starting write again. I hope you accept me back in the community Christian love Erik..

oh dont think i was not going to leave with out a devo lol here it is



NO RULES JUST RIGHT

Recognize this phrase?
This famous slogan for Outback Steakhouse could also apply to Christianity. Before you think I am saying that Christianity has no guidelines, hold on. Hear me through on this one. Take in the big picture.
So many today have turned Christianity into a list of rules that define "living right." Tell the truth. Don't steal. Speak kindly. Treat others with love. Don't cuss. The list could go on and on. So isn't that right? Well, I would say yes and no.
Will a follower of the Christ exhibit these traits? Yes. Will someone who exhibits these traits be a follower of the Christ? Not necessarily. I know plenty of people who try to look like Christ-followers. They say the right things. They do the right things. But many of them are miserable on the inside. Why?
Because they are living by the rules, not following the Ruler. They are obeying a religion of guidelines, not a relationship with the Savior. They are trying to earn acceptance by God though works, not finding the acceptance offered by His grace.
Lewis A. Drummond, in Reaching Generation Next, states, "No one can live out the ethics of Jesus without the transcendental experience of knowing Jesus personally in religious experience, because that is where the power to live out Christian morality is found. Moral precepts alone are not enough. They must be lived out in a person's life, and that can be done only through Jesus Christ."
I believe that this is precisely what is destroying our culture and our country. People are trying to live the ethics of Christ without the relationship. They are attempting to enforce His "rules" without introducing people to the One who frees us. Religion is becoming a burden as opposed to a release. We are returning to legalism instead of grace.
For some reason, when religious folks feel like they are "losing control," they want to enforce more rules and put pressure on people to conform. Jesus was never about that. He showed people His love, lived a life of righteousness, and invited others to join Him.
Jesus never converted a prostitute by calling her names. He showed her unconditional love. Jesus never converted a tax collector by rejecting him. He ate dinner with him and showed that he was a person too. Jesus reached people where they were. He was a doctor for the sick.
Let us strive to be servants of the Great Physician in our day. In Christ we have the only cure for this illness called sin. We will never cure people by telling them how horrible they are. But when we fulfill the law of Christ and love our neighbors as ourselves they will be drawn to the One who didn't come to create more rules, but came to bring a righteousness that can only be found in Jesus.


In Christ

Erik S.
[Read] 2 [Comment]

[ Saturday
December 17th 2005]

punkin589

Hey, guys....
I wanted to let you all know that I agree whole-heartedly with Jon's ideas for this community (incase you didn't read them). And since my parents decided to limit my onlince access to basically necessity only (they don't want me falling behind on my schoolwork this year), it's been difficult for me to maintain this place like I should be, and that makes it even more difficult to develope the relationships that Jon suggested we do (which I truly want to do). In light of these new obstacles, I've decided to appoint a new co-maintainer, at least until I can get it back together a bit more. I've decided it should be Jon, because he is the one who suggested the changes, and I believe he will be dedicated to helping you all out.

Godspeed and happy Christmas to all of you. Let us celebrate Jesus' birth with joyful and grateful hearts, not just this week, but everyday of our lives, because He's soworthy of being celebrated everyday, not just December 25th.

[Comment]

[ Tuesday
September 6th 2005]

kannon3
hey you guys i need some prayer im starting a youth group at my school i didnt know how it would work but its really takeing off but i need prayer going in so if you can pray for me i thank you dearly God bless-Ryan
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