A Modern Parable: Computer and Our Spiritual Journey

20140210-153759.jpg“Our lives are run [enabled, controlled] by one of two ‘operating systems,’ either the [natural] flesh or the Spirit [supernatural]” -Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

THAT was the statement made on this morning’s radio program “Revive Our Hearts” that spurred this post.

Suddenly I was developing an analogy between the computer and our Christian walk. Sort of like the object lessons that Jesus would use to explain spiritual concepts, my creative mind hurriedly captured the thoughts for a modern day parable. Any brand names are used for illustrative purposes only.

Let me start with the initial phrase and build from there:

Computer and Our Spiritual Journey.
Our lives are run [enabled, controlled] by one of two ‘operating systems,’ either the [natural] flesh or the Spirit [supernatural].”Computer and Our Spiritual Journey
The pure operating system was made by the Creator to work perfectly: powerful, useful, pleasurable and efficient. When initially installed properly the OS works great in and of itself.
But we users [people, believers or not] make operator errors. We must interact with other programs and the internet [world] which are infected without becoming infected ourselves. When, not if, we do encounter problems [sin, embedded patterns of behavior] we must turn to the manufacturer [God, personally in prayer] and/or the manual [Bible, THE source] to know how to identify the problem [discern and identify sin] and how to properly fix it. [The Word of God instructs us how to repent and reconcile, purge and correct].
WE, ourselves, must be diligent at installing [applying] the latest upgrades [truth of God’s Word] and pay attention to ‘error messages’ [warnings] to prevent ‘bugs, viruses & crashes’ [sin in thoughts, patterns and behavior] from slowing our progress. It is our responsibility to exercise care.
We must stay alert for unwanted ‘spam’ [diversions] and “false links” that hijack us to a foreign place or plant a “worm” [not so unlike that ‘snake’ in the garden] which causes bad things to happen [as we stray from pure truth], often when we are carelessly unaware.
Carelessness can result in having the Enemy be able to steal the contact info for all our friends or even our passwords. Then the enemy will not only infect our system, but also those of others. He can send out all kinds of junk [problems] to all our contacts [loved ones] without our even being aware of it via background programs running invisibly. [we war with not just the “seen” but the unseen]. Worse yet…these false links are sent out in OUR name. Our testimony , reputation and relationship with others is damaged! The Trojan Horse is allowed into the gate because your friend trusts you not to harm them.
We ALL need to be discerning when receiving messages; even from friends, lest we ensnared.
How do we do that?

These are just some of the basic things that I have learned:

1. Know your Operating System (OS)
– If you have a MAC based [Christian] system, then you need to know that a Windows program [non-Christian] will NOT work with it, and vise versa, UNLESS there is a [conversion] program [Holy Spirit] is at work as well. Likewise, if you are used to working on an Apple based computer at home and then at work they use an IBM, you will NOT be able to operate in the exact same way.

2.Know where you are going and why.
-A link (place you are heading) sent without any explanation (no ‘Re:’ in an email’s topic field) or one that makes promises of instant gain or other “too good to be true” outcomes are earmarks of trouble…EVEN IF sent from a friend or family member! [God’s Plan is Understandable, true and knowable by our purposely seeking God and His ways]. Appearances can be deceiving- false labels and promises [deceit and lies are Satan’s forte] are more easily recognized when we study the truth [Bible and its teachings].

3. Know your “friends”.
– Really know who they are and help them know when you believe they are under attack.
-The definition of the word “friend” has been warped to include not just our true friends, but also acquaintances, service or business contacts and previous strangers. The nature of the Internet allows some people to assume false identities and to put forth falsehoods much too easily. By personally knowing your friends…you can watch out for one another against the various dangers surrounding us.
[the book of Proverbs speaks to the importance of keeping good company, dangers, and the need to not only beware of enticements but to put distance between evil and ourselves.]

4. Know the SOURCE!
– There are many places that offer us information and even FREE programs, items, music, computers and devices. In this I quote an oft repeated Army phrase– “STAY ALERT; STAY ALIVE!” [Bibles numerous warnings on deception and staying alert and wickedness] Remember that problems often enter by posing as temptations and pretty packages. [remember the temptations of Jesus Himself by Satan who twisted the truth. The victory came as Jesus quoted God’s Word… not an interpretation…the ACTUAL words of Holy Scripture revealed and overcame the deceit].
Likewise, There are ways to check if a link is taking you to where it “says” its taking you (view sources). In general, the old rules of common sense is right on, “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” AND “nothing is FREE”. Also, the more familiar you become with Truth, the more easily recognized is deceit.

5. KEEP CURRENT. [don’t stop growing in righteousness]
“Use it or lose it”. The longer that you’ve been away from your computer, the greater the chance that there may be more work to bring it up to date. Everyone can see this in that a daily attended E-mail box has hundreds less waiting items than does one that hasn’t been opened in a week! The junk builds up, important items may be overlooked and opportunities and deadlines missed.
It’s important to install updates and upgrades, because they most always have improved filters of junk and fixes of problems. BUT…even with those… KNOW the source. It is possible to get a blindly sent email CLAIMING that you just need to install this onto your computer or click this link or tell them your password, birthdate and Social Security ID! Don’t fall for it! There are legitimate ways for real people to get those private pieces of information and it does NOT involve email where we don’t REALLY know who is asking or what they intend to do with the information.

Although God created man in His own image and pure. Because of sin, this Life is NOT problem free! We must turn to God [the Creator, manufacturer] for a rebuild [forgiveness and grace; the application of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross paid for our sin=justification] and then subsequent training and upgrades [sanctification, growing in Godliness]. God’s way is not just an “additional” program or “add-on app”! God’s way is the Operation System! We can do NOTHING (good, holy, right) without Him!
I pray this modern day parable is helpful to you in some way. I hope you have enjoyed this little analogy and that it has given you pause to think about other ways that God uses in our everyday life and activities to continue to teach His ways to us. Of course, it is MOST important to be reading, learning and applying the Bible to our lives. But it is nice that He uses things all around us to turn our minds toward Him.

I would love to hear your own thoughts. Please leave a comment below.”

Taking it Up a Notch

Take it up a notch – Acts 19:8-10 The Apostle Paul & the Halls of Tryannus.
I LOVE GOD’s WORD!! It is forever enlightening me to God’s wondrous ways! It fascinates me how God’s word is overflowing with discoveries of treasures that I have passed right over in previous readings. Suddenly a word, thought, term, place or person will “jump off the page” and stir my curiosity, enliven my spirit, or in some other way cause me to dig deeper.

That is what happened this morning! I made an interesting observation while Bible reading in preparation for hearing the next in a series of messages taught by my church’s pastor on Sundays. God’s Holy Scripture says: “And it happened that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the inland country and came to Ephesus. There he found some disciples. And he entered the synagogue and for three months spoke boldly, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God. But when some became stubborn and continued in unbelief, speaking evil of the Way before the congregation, he withdrew from them and took the disciples with him, reasoning daily in the hall of Tyrannus. This continued for two years, so that all the residents of Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks. (Acts 19:1, 8-10 ESV)”

Here is what jumped out at me. Initially, the apostle Paul was holding true to his pattern of behavior while on mission trips (this was known as his 3rd missionary tour) he would always go to the synagogue (or closest thing to it if there wasn’t one) and preach, teach, reason and debate according to the Word of God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. These visits were usually cut short by arrests, jail time and/ or beatings and being run out of town.

But here we see Paul “step it up a notch” as he entered the city he “found some disciples” and Paul took them into the synagogue WITH him where Paul spoke boldly, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God. After three months, when some were not only stubborn in their unbelief, but also spoke evil against “the Way” (the Gospel), Paul withdrew from them because those in the synagogue had hardened their hearts against truth and were now rejecting the truth of Scripture and Paul’s Gospel message.

So Paul left… taking the disciples with him. It appears that Paul didn’t want those he was discipling to hear such evil, nor to sit under false teaching so he took them WITH him. He led by example and did not return evil for evil, nor insist on his own way. He was learning through experience how to continue despite adversity and opposition. Paul remained faithful to the mission, the Word, the Gospel AND to those he was training.

But where did they withdraw too? I noted a place unfamiliar to me; “the Halls of Tyrannus”. I have read over this phrase several times. What IS this place? From my limited Web search I discovered this place may have been like a university or place of learning that was owned by a fellow named Tyrannus. It’s not a very creative University name, but I guess it is distinctive.

Tyrannus himself may have been a scholar who lectured here and was sympathetic to Paul. Some articles on the internet suggest that Tyrannus lectured up until 11am and then again after 4 pm, daily. The culture at that time was such that work ceased daily from 11am to 4 pm because of the extreme heat. So this “leisure time” was a time when Paul could reason, speak and evangelize from within these halls of learning to great congregations. A secular place being blessed by Holy teaching. I wish we had that going on at All of our schools today.

Profound things that I’ve noted in just these three verses from Acts: (1)Paul is now actively finding and training disciples IN the place he evangelizing. He used to bring disciples with him that would typically continue on with him. Here I see Paul is actually training up native disciples that live there.
(2) Paul is not going into just the synagogue of jews any more. He is now teaching and evangelizing jews, greeks and anyone and in a secular place. As a result of Paul withdrawing and not fighting in the synagogue, by following the wisdom found in the Scriptures to live at peace with all men inasmuch as it depends upon you … shake off the dust off your feet and move on… the Word of God never fails to accomplish what God intends).

The Gospel is NOW being spread. Did you see that?! It says ALL the residents of Asia! No longer confined to just the men within the walls of a single synagogue, the Truth of God’s Word and the saving Gospel are being proclaimed everywhere! To everyone who are actually seeking and it is being received. This is a stark contrast to the close-minded, stubborn group he left back at the synagogue.

(3) I think it is especially worthy of note that Paul taught DAILY at the Halls of Tyrannus… for TWO YEARS. 700 days of such a passionate teacher of the Gospel that Paul was, can you even imagine that? What an impact that had on the Kingdom of God growing among men!! Plus, I am sure that Paul much preferred the accommodations of this great hall and the type of people interactions that he had here in contrast to the dingy, dank cells of imprisonment in which he had previously been contained.

Finally, I wish to close with the main thought that repeats throughout the book of Acts. “Regardless of the circumstances we face in life. The Message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ WILL be proclaimed. God’s Word will never fail and His gift to us of the Holy Spirit will help us to live out the Greatest Commandment to love the Lord, your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength AND to love your neighbor as yourself. Then that same Spirit will help us accomplish the Great Commission of going out into all the earth proclaiming the Good News Gospel which saves the lost and condemned thru the sacrificial blood given on behalf of all who will believe and place their trust in Jesus Christ.

We are so blessed to be given this glorious Word of God! Our Savior Jesus Christ is a treasure to us for eternity. The Holy Spirit can work through and with us to make a difference. Now!, right this moment, there are people who’ve not even heard or don’t even know how God wants to love them. I am sure you know of at least one person; someone near you right now. 2014 is a new year. Will you join me in purposefully “looking” for disciples? I am continuing to pray for revival among the people of God, not just IN the churches, but even moreso outside those walls and amongst the people. For one Day EVERY tribe, tongue and nation WILL proclaim that Jesus is Lord, but those who continue to reject Him now will been viewed as an enemy and not a beloved child.

We have a mission… every single one of us! We do not need to preach from a pulpit or lecture to a crowd to impact another for all eternity. Right now, with what the Lord provides, YOU and I can make 2014 be a year in which people enjoy true rebirth that will last forever. All we need to do is “take it up a notch”.

Reflecting on Good Friday

JesusCrossDaubDark copyHello Friends! Today is a special day out of the yearly calendar . . . Good Friday. It is a time when I take the entire day to intentionally contemplate the great sacrifice that Jesus Christ made on behalf of all mankind who choose to accept the precious gift of God’s grace. We can never earn our way to a Holy, perfect God. Yet, God Himself arranged for the price of sin to be paid so that we (any who choose to) may exchange the punishment that we deserve for God’s grace that we do not.  To anyone who has been hesitant in accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior… I have but one question… why?

What person who has thrown an expensive party and then had the party coordinator come to them with hundreds or thousands of dollar’s worth of bills come to him before the entire party and torn those expense statements all up with the announcement “I am not charging you a single penny!”…which person would then reach for his wallet or checkbook and not graciously accept the gift?!

You see, that’s what God did for us. He took the debts we owe and cancelled them. We deserved God’s wrath, but instead God provided the perfect payment… His spotless sacrificial Lamb (Jesus Christ). The sinless took on all the sin for all time! Because Jesus paid it all, we are allowed to be called “children of God”. The price has been paid. . . so put your wallet of “good deeds” away! Accept God’s grace and pay it forward in how you treat others. As God has forgiven, how can we not forgive? As God has given, how can we not receive?

Salvation can be yours and there is no better time than RIGHT NOW! Yes it is Friday and a terrible price was paid, but . . .Sunday is coming and there is a glorious future coming!

Here is the link to the Good Friday Poem that I wrote. http://ellen5e.com/p/good-friday-poem/