Believing... Faithing... Trusting

There are three letters that make us know that an action is in progress, that it is continnual. ING... running... jumping... swimming... believing...

Believing God is an action that must and always be continuous for the action to be effective. Once we stop believing God, all the lions and tigers and bears start crowding our thoughts, which leads to fear.

Fear is of Satan.

Gen 22:5 And Abraham said to his young men, You stay here with the ass. I and the boy will go over there that we may worship and may return to you.

Fascinating passage. God had just asked Abraham to sacrifice his son by his beloved wife Sarah, to put him on the altar as a burnt offering.

Fear could so easily have engulfed Abraham. So often we tell God "Your will, not mine, LORD." Then when God asks us to do something, we say... "Um, I know I didn't hear You correctly, LORD. I think you actually meant this and such." Or we tell God that we've decided to do something else altogether. Sometimes it may take a month, or a year, but those who really love the LORD will come to the realization that God literally meant what He said and we must do what He says.

What we so often forget is that God can do what He says He can do. He is the Creator after all. He is in control, if we let Him be in control. Things actually do turn out a lot better when He's director of our feet rather than an observer of our path.

Abraham did not say, "Uh... wait a second God. You just gave me this boy 15 years ago. He's the promised one to me and now you want me to do what???"

No. Abraham knew beyond any doubt that God would provide the sacrifice. He would follow through with the sacrifice exactly as God asked. He had the knife in his hand to slay his son and suddenly an angel cries out for him to stop.

Can you imagine Isaac's relief? Can you imagine the burgeoning joy that floods Abraham at the realization that he would not have to follow through with the sacrifice of his son. I do not know if Abraham thought that God would bring the boy back to life, of if Abraham thought that God would give him another son, or if he knew that God would stay his hand at the last minute. I do know, though, beyond any shadow of doubt that Abraham knew he and Isaac would return down off Mount Moriah, back to his men and the donkeys, for this is what he said before they ascended the mount.

That is Believing.

But, that is not the end of the story. Because of Abraham's believing and because of his unquestioning obedience both in deed and in thought, God blessed him.

Gen 22:16 And He said, I have sworn by Myself, declares Jehovah, that on account of this thing you have done, and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 that blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens, and as the sand which is on the shore of the sea. And your Seed shall possess the gate of His enemies.

Blessing follows obedience. It always has. Perhaps God asks the impossible of us, but He never fails to provide what He asks. Time, talent, money, children, family... God requires many precious things from us, and He is fully trustworthy with them. He never fails. He always prevails. Have faith in God... Have faith in God.

Is there a power greater than that which raised Jesus from the dead?

Revelation 4:11 tells us that the LORD is worthy to recieve all honor, glory and praise. No other was found to be worthy. The Lamb who was slain was found worthy. All things were created by Him and for His great pleasure.

Hebrews 11:6 tells us that our faith (belief) brings Him pleasure, without no one can please Him. It is a simple thing, yet so hard.

It is easy to believe there is God. He created the heavens and the earth in all their glory. The universe is vast beyond our wildest imaginings, but the Bible tells us that it can be measured by his hand's breadth. A newborn's cry is a testimony to God's presence for He created life. His signature is in the stars for He named each one of the billions of billions of stars. Just look at some of the photos that the Hubble Telescope takes. The dogwood's flower gives testimony.

But to believe God. That is harder to do. When you don't "feel" the presence of God, how do you know He's there?

That is when we must go with what we know rather than our feelings. I love to remember the times we have had together and to draw my comfort from those things He has done for me, from the fact He has never failed me, ever. I know He will fulfill His promises because of all the promises He has already fulfilled. He made the sun stand still. He made the wet bottom of the sea dry as toast. He cause it to rain, and He caused the rain to dry up. He raised Jesus from the dead.

That kind of power flows through Him and yet, He is mindful of me. He knows my name and how many hairs are on my head and the number which are gray and the number which are brown. It matters not to Him how many wrinkles I have, for He has taken me Just As I Am.

Is there a power greater than raising Someone from the dead? Perhaps it is the power of changing lives, the power of forgiveness, the power of mercy, the power of grace. Without those, Jesus would not have needed to be raised for He wouldn't have given Himself as sacrifice.

Psalm 5:11 But let all who put their trust in You rejoice; let them shout for joy forever, because You cover them. And let those who love Your name be joyful in You

Such simple words and yet they hold all the comfort of a snuggly quilt and a warm, cozy fire complete with hot cocoa and a purring cat on the lap.

God's asks a lot of us. We can't see Him. We can't touch Him. Why should we believe Him, trust Him, have faith in Him?

Because He said so.

If that isn't enough, then there is plenty of evidence that He is real, that He does exactly what He says He'll do, and that He answers our prayers, that He loved us enough to die for us. There is no greater love than that, except He also loved us enough to rise from the dead. He is alive, back from the dead and that, my friends, is a feat great enough to silence the most scornful voice.

Prophecies point directly to Jesus as Messiah

I was hunting down promises fulfilled by God and ran across this interesting article. What I found is a treasure trove of concise prophecy that Jesus fulfilled that He could not possibly had control over unless He was truly the Son of God, and was absolutely the Messiah! Check this out...

The Messiah must...ProphecyFulfillment by Jesus
Be born in Bethlehem Micah 5:2Matthew 2:1; Luke 2:4-7
Be adored by great persons Psalms 72:10-11Matthew 2:1-11
Be annointed with the Spirit of God Isaiah 11:2, 61:1Matthew 3:16; John 3:34; Acts 10:38
Be hated without cause Isaiah 49:7; Psalms 69:4John 15:24-25
Be undesired and rejected by His own people Isaiah 53:2, 63:3; Psalms 69:8Mark 6:3; Luke 9:58; John 1:11,
Be plotted against by Jews and Gentiles together Psalms 2:1-2Acts 4:27
Be betrayed by a friend Psalms 41:9, 55:12-24Matthew 26:21-25, 47-50; John 13:18-21; Acts 1:16-18
Be betrayed for 30 pieces of silver Zechariah 11:12Matthew 26:16
Have his price given for a potter’s field Zechariah 11:13Matthew 27:7
Be forsaken by His disciples Zechariah 13:7Matthew 26:31, 56
Be struck on the cheek Micah 5:1Matthew 27:30
Be spat on Isaiah 50:6Matthew 26:67, 27:30
Be mocked Psalms 22:7-8Matthew 27:31, 39-44
Be beaten Isaiah 50:6Matthew 26:67, 27:26, 30
Be thirsty during His execution Psalms 22:15John 19:28
Be given vinegar to quench that thirst Psalms 69:21Matthew 27:34
Be considered a transgressor Isaiah 53:12Matthew 27:38
Be buried with the rich when dead Isaiah 53:9Matthew 27:57-60
Be sought after by Gentiles as well as Jews Isaiah 11:10, 42:1Acts 10:45
Be accepted by the Gentiles Isaiah 11:10, 42:1-4, 49:1-12Matthew 12:21; Acts 10:45; Romans 15:9-12
Now that you have seen this comparison, you must answer this question, “What will you do about Jesus?”

Thank you Biblical Prophecy Resource Center for fleshing this out so succinctly!

God woos His wife Israel

I was reading about and comparing the New Jerusalem with the Millennium Jerusalem something quite startling occurred to me. There is a distinction and very definite distinction between the Wife of Jehovah and the Wife of the Lamb.

It goes back to Israel committing adultery with other gods. This broke the marriage contract Israel had with God which is found in Deuteronomy. This adultery which broke the covenant wasn't just a one time, fling... It was a constant thing. It was extremely degrading and embarrassing to the One True God, because it declared to the surrounding nations that He was a cuckold.  And Israel was different, she "paid her lovers". Ezekiel describes this extensively in 16:15-34. Isaiah tells us that God didn't divorce Israel right away, he separated from her as a punishment to bring her back. He withdrew the blessings and rain didn't fall etc. But Israel continued to embrace other gods and Hosea tells us that this produced illegitimate children "children of whoredom" Hosea 2. Then in Jeremiah 3, we see the bill of divorcement. Actually, the book of Jeremiah shows the unrepentant Israel and why the bill of divorcement was necessary. Ezekiel and Hosea also describe the punishment. The punishment was to stop Israel from sinning with idols. The punishment was necessary because Israel broke the marriage contract 16:58-59, and showed no signs of repentance. In fact the book of Hosea is the surface story of God and Israel. Please note when you read Hosea’s story that the adulterous wife forgot her Husband, God said He would allure her. He also would betroth her in faithfulness.

Therefore, despite the punishment, there is hope for Israel... there is a call to repentance Jeremiah 3. But to no avail. God didn't divorce Judah... to do so would have made Jesus illegitimate. He suffered Judah's harlotry until she rejected Jesus, her own Son. So now we have a situation that continues today. Israel and Judah are still in punishment. What makes it exceedingly worse for them today is the clear evidence that Jesus is God's Son and is the Messiah. They continually reject this evidence which heaps more punishment upon them. God promised to give them back their land, which He did. Yet, they still reject.
In Jesus day, they had the opportunity to become sanctified but rejected it as a nation. Individuals believed and were saved and entered into a new marriage contract as the Bride of the Lamb. But the nation rejected thus the Woe curse and the scattering and the destruction of 70AD.

Hosea tells us of how God will woo back His wife. V 14, He will "allure her into the desert and speak tenderly to her". Several places, one being Matt 24, Israel is told when you see these signs "flee into the mountains". All their needs will be provided for... food, water etc. and this is basically when Israel finally turns back fully and wholly to God and calls him "my husband", not "my master" Hosea 2.

Now, compare Gomer a soiled wife with the Bride of the Lamb in 2 Corinthians 11:2, being presented as a "pure virgin to Christ" and in Ephesians 5 "the washing of water with the Word, that He might present the church to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing...holy and without blemish." To me, this describes the sanctification process; a continual process of emersion in the Word of God, being conformed by it and cleansed by it. It is the actual maturing of the Bride. She was betrothed as a baby and had to grow in her understanding as a whole as well as in numbers "until the fullness of the Gentiles is in..."

Now, here is another distinction. In John 3, John the Baptist called himself "a friend of the bridegroom". I had always wondered about that. Then Jesus says John the Baptist was the greatest of all, but the least of these is greater than him. How can that be? The only way that could be is if John the Baptist was the last of the OT prophets and not a member of the Bride herself. And the only way this could be is that John the Baptist died before Christ rose from the dead. This draws a clear distinction down between the OT saints and the NT saints or rather the church, the Bride of Christ.

So why the sacrifices? Because before the Millennium, the marriage between the Messiah and His Bride takes place. Revelation 19. This does not mean that the blood of Jesus does not cover the Millennial saints. It does. But ONLY after they receive their glorified bodies. They have to go through the sanctification process, just like the church did. They are human and subject to sin. Everyone will live at least 100 years (Isaiah 65). The unbelievers dying at that age and the believers will continue to live until the 1000 years is finished. God is holy and for Him to reside in the Temple amongst flesh and blood with sinful natures, these humans must be sanctified. God accepts His wife back with a deep love and tenderness, however, it is in her human state, she must be sanctified to live with Him...In His presence. We don't have God as an earthly presence now in the same manner that He will reside in the Temple during the Millennium. The blood of Jesus sanctifies and justifies us before God, but as a human I cannot stand in front of God (1 Corinthians 15). Once my physical body has passed on and I am renewed, refurbished in the spiritual realm, washed clean with the only perfect and acceptable sacrifice that will satisfy the holy law of God, only then may I stand in front of God. This is why the OT saints had to wait in the "holding tank of Paradise". The blood of Jesus was needed to make them "righteous in spirit" to enter heaven and the presence of God.

What would you do?

Today, I'm frantically working on my research proposal (studying motivations of Christian bloggers)  that is a major portion of my grade this semester, and I'm checking out some Christian blogs from a 2007 survey to see if they are still in existence. I click on Mark Kelly's blog Kainos and find this piece of news

Today, a federal court denied a request to halt enforcement of the abortion pill mandate which forces the Christian-owned-and-operated Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., to provide the “morning after pill” and “week after pill” in their health insurance plan, or face crippling fines up to $1.3 million dollars per day…

Hobby Lobby is the largest and first non-Catholic-owned business to file a lawsuit against the HHS mandate. The Green family has no moral objection to the use of preventive contraceptives and will continue covering preventive contraceptives for its employees. However, the Green family’s religious convictions prohibit them from providing or paying for the abortion-inducing drugs, the “morning after” and “week after” pills, which would violate their most deeply held religious belief that life begins at conception. Retrieved from the Beckett Fund website.

There is something horribly wrong about this that just sticks like a boulder in my craw. I cannot imagine our forefathers ever dreaming this could happen in their beloved land that they gave heart, soul and shed blood to build. That isn't even close to what Jesus must be feeling right about now.

What so many do not realize, including Christians, is that God hates it when you mess with His children and that includes the brand new lives He has created in their mother's wombs. That He knits them together, and He knows their every twitch and move before their eyes even see the light of day.

I ache in my heart over this. Please God, forgive this country for this disrespect for human life. Forgive us Lord for not raising hands and voices in protest over the shedding of innocent blood. Help us Lord to get this mandate rescinded and help our country to move back from this insane precipice. 

Mark Kelly advises: You can take a stand for your faith freedom by learning more from the ERLC or the Manhattan Declaration websitesigning a petition, donating to a religious liberty organization like The Becket Fund, and contacting the White HouseHealth and Human Services, and your Congressman.

SEO killers

I subscribe to SiteProNews that gives me excellent advice on a lot of things Internet related such as SEO (Search Engine Optimization - helps other people find your blog or website through search engines like Google), web design, blogs, social media and other stuff.

I found something today that made my heart sing! Jill Whalen has studied websites for more than a year to discover whether SEO is actually dead or on life support. What she found is very encouraging and that is this little tidbit from her article:

Have a Real Content / Social Media Marketing Strategy
Forget about old-fashioned link building. Google now really does consider it to be web spam. (Yay!) If you can add a link to your own site just by submitting it somewhere, you can assume that it won’t count for much (or anything) by Google. In other words, forget about useless directory submissions, article directories, link wheels, forum signatures and comment spam. That’s all done, kaput, a useless waste of time. Read more...
 Hooray! That means all you people who are posting SPAM as comments on my site can pretty much use that time for something more useful because spam comments, and footer links just don't work anymore to drive traffic to your site. Besides the fact that I weed out all those by hand anyway.

Here's some more things that dilute your web presence to the back of the search, and as Whalen says, they are in no particular order.

1. Duplicate content
2. Keyword stuffing
3. Doorways
4. Footer links
5. Auto anchor text
6. Spammy comments
7. Low-quality pages
8. Poor presentation
9. Content below fold
10. Technical problems
11. Poor writing
12. No content
13. Splitting link pop
14. Merry-go-rounds
15. Unnatural links
16. Semi-hidden text
17. Rich snippet abuse
18. Trustworthiness (I'm sure she means lack of, here)
This applies to all web content, not just professional, company sites, but blogs and personal journals, too.

Engraved in His palm,

Great as an elephant, least as an ant...

Continuing from yesterday

Here are two creatures side by side: one of the world’s largest creatures and one of the world’s smallest. The elephant, even in all his great size and mighty strength is still meek in the hands of man doing his bidding and serving his master. The ant serves his whole life never stopping to think if his own life is more important than his brothers’ lives, he gives it freely to protect them and his queen. The ant, unlike most creatures of the earth, can carry up to 50 times its own weight. So many things we can learn from the elephant and the ant one being that serving others is a noble way of life.
One of the motivational spiritual gifts Paul talks about in Romans 12 is the administrator or organizer. Jesus was the greatest of these and exhibited a tremendous ability to organize and lead through all these characteristics delineated by Greenleaf. It is through Jesus’ teaching that we understand how great it is to be a servant leader. Last week we talked about Greenleaf’s first five characteristics of servant leadership. Today, we’ll consider the other five characteristics from the biblical perspective.

6. Conceptualization: Being able to see the big picture is a gift. People who can back up and see what a huge project should look like when it is finished has this gift, much like Nehemiah had when handing King Artaxerxes his wine cup. Artaxerxes asked him, “What are you so sad-faced, Nehemiah?” The king’s servant had prayed hard before speaking then told him about Jerusalem’s walls in ruins and the crouching enemies. Nehemiah was 700 miles away, but he could see the result of rebuilt walls with the authority of the reigning king who financed the whole project. Read more…

7. Foresight: Spears (2004) points out “Foresight is a characteristic that enables the servant-leader to understand the lessons from the past, the realities of the present, and the likely consequence of a decision for the future. It is also deeply rooted within the intuitive mind” (p. 9). We can see how Jesus exhibits this attribute so many times in his teachings one being from the Sermon on the Mount: Matthew 7:18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them..

8. Stewardship: This attribute has been defined as holding something in trust for another. Jesus taught about it in several parables both from a financial perspective (the servants being given one talent, two talents, and five talents), and from a people perspective with His continued dictum to love one another. What we do with what we are given by God determines how well we serve Him. Jesus reminded His disciples, “What you do for the least of these, you are doing to Me.” Treating employees, co-workers, and bosses with respect and love is crucial whether or not they are believers. “Others will see Me through your love for one another,” Jesus said. (John 13:35).

9. Commitment to the growth of people: How much this is like Jesus. He chose His disciples, and He taught them for three and a half years so they might receive the Holy Spirit and spread the Good News by following the Great Commission. Spears (2004) points out “Servant-leaders believe that people have an intrinsic value beyond their tangible contributions as workers” (p. 9). This directly relates to stewardship, but also is an attribute intrinsic to the good leader. The goal of a parent is to train up her child in the way of the Lord and when he is old he will not depart from it. Good leaders train more good leaders, and guide workers to do great things.

10. Building community: The sense of community has been defined as “part of readily available, mutually supportive network of relationships on which one can depend … characterized by feelings of belongingness, interdependence, being needed, and identification with some common overarching values; and it counters loneliness and social isolation; and it is determined by shared emotional connections, integration and fulfillment of needs.” It is also characterized by a sense of contribution which Jesus has instilled within each Christian, just as He did in His disciples. “On this Rock I will build My church!” The declarative statement shows how Jesus is working to build the community. “We are joint heirs with Christ.” Our sense of belonging is depicted as not only God’s children, but as joint heirs of Heaven’s great riches. The servant leader will make sure each person feels connected through a sense of purpose and the mutually supportive network of relationships. The more healthy the network, the least likely a demonic or satanic attack will puncture through to the heart of the community and destroy it.

Servant leadership is a growing concept in the business world. While the arrogant would deem servant leader an oxy-moron, the wise see it as the only way to lead effectively. We are not like ants that are genetically programmed to perform one task; we are more like elephants in that we can be trained for different tasks. How much more wonderful it is that we have a Servant Leader in Christ Jesus who bestowed upon us the Holy Spirit who gives us our motivations to serve God without burnout and with great love for one another.

Spears, Larry C. "Practicing Servant-Leadership" Leader to Leader. 34 (Fall 2004)7-11.

Servant Leader

At I wrote a column on Jesus as the servant washing Peter’s feet in an act of servantship as well as cleansing and forgiveness. What of the servant as leader?

In the 1990s Robert K. Greenleaf “discovered” the truth that “a leader is best experienced first as a servant” (Spears, 2004, p. 9). Jesus exhibited this axiom better than any other leader before or since He rose from the dead. While Spears does not bring out this biblical truth, he does point out ten of Greenleaf’s ideas about the characteristics of a good servant-leader, but he says nothing about the scriptural basis for these ten attributes. To explore each one, we’ll study half this week and the rest next week.

I point out here the biblical foundations for the attributes Greenleaf “discovered”.

1. Listening: A good leader is a good communicator. This means active listening. I wrote about the Art of Listening several years ago. There are two verses that stand out starkly: Luke 2:46 Now so it was that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. This does not necessarily mean Jesus was asking questions to learn. Jews taught by asking questions. Teaching and listening, asking questions to get the mind cogs whirling was the way they taught. The fact that all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and His answers means He had an uncanny grasp of Scripture even at 12 years old. Proverbs 19:27 Cease listening to instruction, my son, And you will stray from the words of knowledge.

2. Empathy: This attribute is not sympathy which implies pity. Understanding a person’s situation and identifying with it in a compassionate way is illustrated in James when he points out it really does no good when a Christian sees a person hungry and cold and says, “Be warm and be full!” without doing something to better that situation. From a leadership standpoint, Jesus was talking to a rich, young ruler (the story told in Mark 10:17-22). The young man asked what he could do to be saved. Jesus mentioned the six commands dealing on a horizontal level—human to human—and the man said he had kept all these commands. Jesus looked at him and loved him. This is the height of empathy and compassion: Despite the arrogance of the man and his assertion he had never broken even one of those commands Jesus loved him anyway. Jesus loved us while we were yet sinners. He put aside all the riches of Heaven to become lower than the angels so we might know Him, understand Him, and trust Him.

3. Healing: The ability to heal is crucial to a servant-leader. God gave us a body that miraculously heals itself given time and proper treatment. The lesson is that humans suffer tumultuous hurts both from self-infliction by deliberate sin, and from other-infliction from those who brutally use us for their own purposes mostly because they hate Jesus therefore they strike out at those in His image. The empathy attribute shines a light on emotional hurts, and the healing attribute in a servant-leader exerts to help make whole that which is broken. There are so many examples of Jesus healing, but one stands out that illustrates both empathy and healing. Luke 7:11-17 tells of when Jesus and His disciples went to the city of Nain. A funeral was happening and Jesus saw the plight of a lonely widow whose only son had died. He stopped and commanded, “Young man, I say to you arise!” The dead man sat up and Jesus gave him to his mother. Greenleaf writes: "There is something subtle communicated to one who is being served and led if implicit in the compact between servant-leader and led is the understanding that the search for wholeness is something they share."

4. Awareness: Greenleaf is focused here on general awareness and even self-awareness. The attribute lends very well to knowing the true situation of each person involved. He notes, “Able leaders are usually sharply awake and reasonably disturbed.” For instance when Jesus is overlooking Jerusalem, He breaks into weeping declaring, “Oh, Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how I wanted to gather you under my wings like a mother hen gathers her chicks. But, you would not allow me to; and you would have none of Me.” Awareness doesn’t mean that a problem will be solved, rather that the first step to solving a problem will be completed, and that is to recognize there is a problem.

5. Persuasion: Relying upon positional authority to make someone do their job or to give something to a task is not good leadership. It is bullying. The art of persuasion has been the topic of teaching since the first wheel was sold. The servant-leader seeks to convince others into an avenue of action rather than coerce into action. It is the very reason why Jesus said, “Come to Me ye who are weary and heavy laden. I will give you rest.” There is no coercion with Jesus. Agrippa told Paul, “Almost you persuade me to become a Christian.” How awful to come right to the brink of decision, and then like King Agrippa prefer this world over the treasures of Heaven; or like the young ruler go away disheartened because there is too much in this world that has you locked in its grip, like riches or power or foolish desires.

Proverbs 4:26 Study the track of your feet, then all your ways will be established.

Continued tomorrow.

Spears, L. C. (2004). Practicing servant-leadership. Leader to Leader, 34, 7-11.

A book left my site this month

I started using to track information that is being found and is leaving my site every week. It is a great tool, but is limited to keywords and number of words that are leaving my blog. So, I don't know who is copying or where it is going.

Don't get me wrong. I love the fact that people are finding things on this blog they believe is worthy enough to repeat. That means that God is working through this blog, and is the "deal" we made together back in 2005. I knew this would be a huge responsibility and could make a difference in that God would use it to shine His light in a dark world. I wanted to be that reflection to others.

This is why I have kept this blog free of advertisements, and why I work so hard at it. According to Google Analytics, I get thousands of hits/page views every month which is great--that is part of what this blog is for, so that means it is working.

Last month a couple of friends used a paper I wrote for a class assignment on their blogs. I was so happy they let me know and even asked permission to use it. My site is protected by Creative Commons, meaning that the posts here are protected by copyright, and that whoever uses the information from here must give the author credit. I don't intend to charge for it. That's why I wrote my book :)

However, I would very much like to know where everything is going. That is one reason I put tynt publishing tool on my blog. Another reason is that last month more than 50,000 words left my blog and I am very curious to know where it is being posted or used. I'd also like to know if I can help anyone who is using posts from here by explaining or clarifying points. I would very much like to visit blogs that use these bits and pieces of posts to encourage comment and discussion. It is how God uses His children to spread the Gospel.

So, you are welcome to use any and all information you find here. You are welcome to challenge my thought processes. I would just ask that you please post a comment note telling me you've taken a post or part of one and where you are using it. I hope that is not too much to ask.

Just pondering some scientific problem

I have always known that God created the laws of physics.

Take a look at this article and see if you see the same thing I saw:

No, really. At least look at the three paragraphs.

Now... Here is a point to ponder. When the Bible tells us in Genesis that the flood waters came from below, and that there was great upheaval within the earth doesn't this article explain why there was great upheaval? God designed it to work that way. It just struck me when I read through this news article that sometimes we have to way centuries to understand why something happens, then other times God explains it in a flash of supernatural intuition.

The universe is an astounding creation. I am bumfuzzled at how scientists can remain atheists when proof of truth such of this rises to the surface every day. That's one of those things that make you go hmmmm.

Things haven't changed

October 7, 1984. First presidential debate

I'll tell you what I think has been the most outrageous thing in political dialog, both in this campaign and the one in '82. And that is the continued discussion and claim that somehow I am the villain who is going to pull the Social Security checks out from those people who are dependent on them.

And why I think it is outrageous -- first of all, it isn't true. But why it is outrageous is because, for political advantage, every time they do that, they scare millions of senior citizens who are totally dependent on Social Security, have no place else to turn. And they have to live and go to bed at night thinking, "Is this true? Is someone going to take our check away from us and leave us destitute?'' And I don't think that that should be a part of political dialog.  Ronald Reagan, 1984

 It looks like after almost 30 years that tactics would have changed, that things would be better, that our politicians would have learned a thing or two about what works and what doesn't. 

Things haven't changed.

Biden, Cranky old man vs. Ryan, debonair

If you watched the debate last night, then you were either disgusted or delighted, but regardless you were entertained. #LaughingJoe had more than 7,000 followers on Twitter within an hour.

I was in the disgusted bunch. Someone asked, "Would you really be comfortable with that man as president?" A resounding, Heck No came out of my mouth. As rude as he was, he did make some good points. Too bad, I couldn't see past his smirk to actually listen to what he had to say. However, I am really glad that Joe Biden has not gone overseas anymore than he has because if he acts that way in front of millions of people on a split screen, to an opponent who treated him with great respect, then how bloody awful would he treat world leaders in private?

He acted like a cranky, old man who had not matured since he was 17, even after 35 years of political service. It looks like someone who was able to treat another VP candidate, Sarah Palin, with proper respect, he could do the same this time around. Apparently, he was trying to outshine Obama, more's the pity. He completely over did it.

Paul Ryan spoke well, made some excellent points, and stated that life begins at conception. While Joe Biden hemmed and hawed about his Catholic faith and said that they were not making the Catholic priests do anything against their faith. Ryan shot back, "Then why are they suing the federal government?"

Excellent point, but Martha and Joe walked all over him.

Last night proved to me that Paul Ryan is excellent material for our next to highest office, and if something horrible happened, I would be proud for him to be our president.

How does social media relate to businesses?

I just found this buried in some files on my computer. I wrote this 6 years ago. I didn't know I was that smart 6 years ago :D
Is it real, or is it… Perception is reality
By Gina Burgess

Remember the pink tie craze, and before that it was the red tie? It was a statement of power and of authority and pretty much a subtle message that you are talking to The Guy that makes things move and shake. Did you know that before you were told what it meant? Most likely not. Once that “message” was planted, everyone jumped in the pool and then we had more red ties than June bugs in June.
Wearing a red tie did not create authority, it only suggested it. So actually trusting a person with a red tie on is not an automatic thing. In sales, a person is more likely to trust the judgment of a friend or relative because the source of the message is much more reliable than a red tie.
Fair enough. But, where did the friend or relative get their information?  If it was through experience, that is powerful. If it was through an advertising message… hmmm. Shel Holtz, a veteran communications expert says on his blog, that influence is not relative to trust. He says, “after all the friend must get his information from somewhere.”
A recent study says that 80% of 1,100 adults surveyed would consider using a product recommended by a friend rather than one by an influential blogger or found on line. But, where do people go to get the most up to date information? The Internet, of course.
This brings up another term called “Social Media”. This is a medium which is all opinion which may or may not include cold, hard facts. Bloggers are a form of social media. FaceBook and Twitter qualify as well. Talk show hosts, such as Oprah, are social media stars. But, still it is mostly opinion.
There is where the rubber meets the road. Opinion is that slippery relative factor that drives the “Word of Mouth” advertising which is generally the absolute most effective advertising. “The food is good,” is opinion. What if I don’t like so much garlic in my sauce?  But, “They give you a rental when servicing your car,” is a cold, hard fact that can be tried and found to be true. However, many people shuffle off to a restaurant because their friend, brother, cousin said, “The food is really good.”
A Chilton study years ago found customers will relate a good experience about 5-6 times, but will expound upon a bad experience 20+ times. Which is why making sure your customers have good experiences, or at least fixing the bad experience is crucial. What is scary is that you may never know about a bad experience. Some customers will quit doing business with you before initiating a conflict or just telling you they didn’t like the color of your tie.
What’s a business do about that?
Talk about it. Ask them. Show them you value their opinion, and then ask them to talk about you.
Paul Rand, president of a major marketing firm in Chicago, has gone out on a limb and said, “Word of mouth is the fastest growing sector in all of advertising.” According to MEDILL Reports, expenditures on Word of Mouth advertising will exceed the $1 billion mark this year. Companies are not looking for cheaper advertising, they are looking for effective.
We’ve become a tune-out society because of all the background noises we’re bombarded with every day. People decide where they’ll put their concentration and block out all the other “noise.” Al Munez, associate professor of marketing at DePaul University stated consumers are exposed to “roughly 3,000 commercial messages a day...effective marketing will cut through that clutter and word of mouth is the best at it.”
Does it replace traditional advertising? No. You cannot reach 1,000 people with Word of Mouth in a reasonable length of time. People are not wired that way. So the message you send won’t be about a Spring Sale, or about your daily specials. It will be more about you and what you do. Is that scary? Sure it is. But, you are marketing by word of mouth every time you serve a customer or speak with a client. It is the experience that sells. The experience will determine if you’ll do business with that customer again… and with her mother, his sister, her cousin, his uncle. It really is a family thing. 
 ©Copyright 2008, all rights reserved. Reprints by permission.

 What do you think? How much does reality play into our perceptions?

Publishing tools keep you in the know

For the past few months, I've been using tools. I get an overview of what's going on through my blog which is rather exciting and frightening at the same time. The trend is that 30,000 words leave my blog every month and I have no idea where they are going or who they are helping. I only assume they are helping else why would anyone want to copy what I say here? I do not even know which words they are.

I'm thrilled that people find what God is saying here. I'm delighted that He is using me to reach others with His light in this dark world. It is also very humbling.

This past month, two people asked permission to reprint which I gladly gave promptly with a prayer of thanksgiving. But, the others I have no clue about.

It is one reason why I'm using because it automatically provides a link right back to my blog so that there will be attribution given to me. It is just one more little thing to help keep people honest which is the way I'm looking at it.

If you have a blog, I recommend this handy tool. I also ask that you leave a message on the posts that you may be copying to use elsewhere. I'd like to know where it is going so I can support you, too.

Thank you!

Engraved in His palm,

Paper: Blogging is the new town square

Running head: Blogging is the new town square

Blogging is the New Town Square: Understanding Why Christians Blog
Regina Burgess
Spring Arbor University

Blogging is the New Town Square: Understanding Why Christians Blog
            Web logging or blogging began in the 1990s as personal expressions of opinions in a vast arena of subjects. In 2006, there were more than 36 million blogs (NeilsonWire, 2012), and today according to Neilson Wire (2012), approximately 181 million blogs exist in the virtual space called the blogosphere. Most bloggers are women, with more than half being moms, and all bloggers are well educated with seven out of 10 having at least some college. Bloggers are active across social media with a blogger being three times more likely to post or comment on message boards and in forums. Chen (2011) studied the needs that drive women to blog; and how blogging met those needs. The results of this study caused me to question why Christians blog, and what Christians thought about the ethics of blogging. I chose the study by Martin Kuhn (2007) as a focal point for my study on Christian bloggers. I expected to find one of the needs that drive Christians to blog is the Great Commission; and I expected to discover Christians use biblical principles as the plumb line for blogging ethics. I was not disappointed.
Theoretical and Ethical Framework
            Chen (2011) discovered the data collected supported that women need to express self-disclosure and their voice to influence others; and that these two interconnect in women bloggers. However, it is not the full story. The time spent blogging correlated with the need for affiliation and the need to influence slightly. This lends support to the thought that “needs do not operate separately, but may work in concert as need for self-disclosure and need for affiliation were found to do” (Chen, p. 179). Christian bloggers have exhibited an approach to blogging that does not challenge traditional sources of authority (Campbell, 2010). The themes of blogging in recent years have risen similar to those of Thomas Paine’s cry of “give me liberty or give me death.” The essential component of secular blogging is opinion, be that political, pundit, or agenda related, however Christian bloggers have a grip on factual truth and bow to God’s authority (Campbell, 2010). Over the years, the Internet has been able to traverse boundaries and level hierarchies; and to furnish voices to those without voices (Pullen, 2000). Campbell discovered that instead of resisting traditional authority, Christian bloggers are more likely to affirm that authority with “affirmation of religious leaders the most common followed by religious text, theological ideas and religious structures” (p. 269). In her study, Christian bloggers used references to scripture with God being the most common referred to authority followed by many Christian authors such as John Piper. Christian bloggers will journal about their spiritual journey and offer up apologetics with the most common theme being the daily practice of Christian principles, with the education of others being the central purpose (Cheong, Halavais, and Kwon, 2008). Many Christians use their blogs to give a glimpse into their religious roles such as the pastorate, or other church roles (Campbell, 2010) along with encouraging words.
            Social presence theory lends a strong explanation for why Christians blog. Biocca, Harms and Burgoon provisionally define social presence succinctly as the ‘sense of being with another’” (2003, p. 1). This aligns with Walther’s (2002) discovery of a strong relationship between the online communications and personal perceptions of the one being communicated with to the point of strong intimacy. Norton (1986) identified 10 communication styles that can be associated with online communications (making an impression, litigious, open, dramatic, dominant, precise, relaxed, friendly, attentive, and animated). Christians have that sense of being with the highest authority, God, and with each other. However, the secular blogger is basically behind John Rawls’ veil of ignorance in that no one truly knows who is being impacted by what is being said. The Christian blogger has a greater knowledge of his position in Christ and the work He prepared for each Christian to do even before time began.  Christians are behind the veil of ignorance because the mind of Christ places them there; and because the Great Commission perspective of viewing from the worst-off members of society (the lost) is magnified:
And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age." (Matt.:18-20, English Standard Bible)
 This is one reason Christian bloggers cling to God’s authority.
Once I had my thesis questions pinned down, I searched for a previous secular study with questions that aligned with my hypotheses in my own field study. Martin Kuhn (2007) probed into the question of ethics in blogging. It was the closest to Biblical principle questions I could find. His questions about why the blog was started also gave insight into my question of what needs drove Christians to start a blog. Therefore, I prepared a questionnaire using his exact questions; and sent them to about 300 of my LinkedIn contacts of whom I was fairly certain were bloggers. I also posted the questions on my blog, and in my LinkedIn group called Christians Authors, Editors, Publishers, and Bloggers. I compiled all responses to each question and combined like responses. The respondents were asked to rank in order of importance six values with 1 being most important and 6 being least important. The values guiding each blogger were compiled according to how often a value appeared in the top two positions, and then the top three positions.
Within two weeks I had received 30 responses, and in another week I had received three more responses for a total of 33 respondents. Of those, only 24 responses were from Christian bloggers. Eight were from men, and 16 from women. Two women had more than one blog, but the others submitted one. The median age was 36 with the youngest being 24 and the oldest being 68.
            RQ1: What drives a Christian blogger to blog?
            The common response was reaching out to Christians to offer encouragement and as “Lynn” phrased it, “focus on Bible-based beliefs…to promote good press and Good News”. The underlying need was to help others better understand God and His purposes. “Sylvie” is concerned for those who are questioning their sexuality and who “debate God and homosexuality”. She lived that life for more than 14 years. She seriously takes God’s directive to reach out to the gay community as she said, “to give God the glory by being in His service. With that as my guiding principle, I try my best to do so as Jesus would, since my topic is the gay lifestyle and the truth of Christ and free will—you are not hard wired.” She went on to note, “Blogs are the new town square, where people can meet to express their views. Today, blogs break news, provide advice and solutions, support and have become a trusted source for information.” Mark expressed the common desire of the respondents this way,I want the blog to reflect the personal work of the Holy Spirit in my life, the transformation he is doing in and through me, and to share insights into culture that may enlighten others.” Kristine said, “I wanted to share my experiences as I walked my Christian journey. I wanted to inform Christians about the dangers of the occult which they might not be learning from church leaders or popular media.”
            As Cheong, Halavais, and Kwon (2008) said, “In some ways, religious blogging reflects the standard interests of bloggers everywhere. There is a focus on documenting personal experience, followed by interest in teaching and learning, as well as monitoring and making sense of the mainstream news” (p.117). However, as a whole, this study’s results support Campbell’s (2010) findings that religious blogging affirms traditional religious authority which, in the minds of these respondents, is God. Overwhelmingly, the purpose of their blogs relates (either directly or indirectly) to the Great Commission Jesus commands in Matthew 28 stated above. They use their blogs as the Town Square where people can exchange opinions, build community, and have a safe place to build relationships.
            RQ2: Are Christian bloggers’ values Biblically based?
            I chose the values that were ranked from Kuhn’s blogger ethics study. The findings are not all that dissimilar. The secular bloggers in Kuhn’s study mentioned factual truth most often as most important, the next two most important were transparency and minimizing harm. I received the same results.
Factual Truth 15 #1-2
Transparency 10 #1-2
Minimizing Harm 13 #1-3
Accountability 9 #1-3
Free Expression 7 #1-3;
Etiquette 2 #1 & 3
Factual truth was ranked either first or second fifteen times; transparency was ranked first or second nine times, and so forth. The disparity of numbers occurs due to the double and triple positions in which the value appeared. The values of truth, honesty, and minimizing harm all have multiple related Bible verses which include: Jesus is the Truth (John 1:17 & 14:6); Honesty (Luke 2:35); and harmless as doves (Matthew 10:16).
I also asked what things a blogger must do to be considered a good blogger. The most common responses included abstaining from plagiarizing, lying, and copyright infringement, as well as a commitment to fact checking which aligns with the value of truth and transparency. One response was simply, “Employ the Fruit of the Spirit.” Honoring God, respect for others, community building aligned with minimizing harm to others are values Christian bloggers consistently employ incorporated within the Agape ethics mentality adhering to Jesus’ command to love your neighbor as yourself.
Not so surprisingly, in answer to my question about what things a blogger should never do, the respondents stayed true to their mission and values of truth, transparency, minimizing harm by remaining true to God, and additionally never compromise His word. A common theme was to not take criticism too seriously, “have rhinoceros skin”, but to invite feedback and use it to facilitate discussion. Only one person mentioned never [d]ivulge personal information about themselves or others (their whereabouts, security stuff).” Another mentioned, “Privacy for a response to some readers is important. I won't air their pain and hurt in public or betray their confidence in me,” which is an example of minimizing harm. The nurturing nature of Christ is abundantly apparent in His body of bloggers.
            This study has affirmed research already conducted which is encouraging. The dearth of research on Christian bloggers is slowly being filled. Christian bloggers are taking God’s Great Commission seriously, using blogging as a way to seek out disciples, teaching them Jesus’ commands, and also using their words to lift up the weary and disheartened with the consolation of God’s word. This study asked two main questions the first was: What drives a Christian to blog? The common theme was obedience to God’s call. What they are accomplishing is the Great Commission to the lost and to the Body of Christ.
The other question: Are Christian bloggers’ values Biblically based? The interesting answer is that ethical concerns no matter the religious affiliation are the same in the blogosphere. These values are Biblically based, and that is what is so interesting. Kuhn’s results highlight basic principles which drive people who are writing publically are based on the values truth, transparency, and minimizing harm. Those values come from God’s word. This study’s results support a deeper perception of God’s ambassadors to bear His image and to make Him proud that Christians who happen to be bloggers are being obedient to Him.

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