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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!
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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.”

Runaway Pursuit

Pursuit with Passion!

 

 [Remember: Runaway Pursuit plus encouragement (even thru suffering) =transformed lives.]

Today finds me in a prison of sorts… unlike the Apostle Paul, mine are not physical chains, but chains of my uncooperative physical body. Like Paul, I used the time 0f solitude to focus on the things of God.  Listening to Moody Bible Institute Radio, I heard a Christian teacher talking about Onesimus..  I’d like to learn more about the lives and bibliography of Ignatius and Onesimus.  I became inspired to write this.

Ignatius of Antioch was an early church leader who wrote letters of encouragement to different churches even while being escorted to be martyred in the Roman Colosseum by lions.

The Biblical “postcard”of Philemon (an epistle written by the apostle Paul that is a part of the canon of Scripture) tells about a man named Onesimus. We are told that Onesimus was a runaway slave of a Christian named Philemon who Paul also formerly saw come to faith in Christ. The Apostle Paul took on the plight of Onesimus as one would a son. Paul told him that he needed to return to the master he’d wronged (Philemon). However, in a letter that Onesimus carried with him, Paul pleaded for the runaways debts and punishment to be accounted to Paul himself. He offered to take the wrong upon himself for the sake of another! Does that theme sound familiar?

In obedience, the runaway slave stepped out in faith and repented. He returned to the master he’d wronged and not only was granted grace-filled forgiveness, but, as a result, Onesimus became better equipped to live out that grace. According to history, Onesimus… this disobedient runaway slave… went on to become a bishop at Ephesus! How awesome is that?

EVERY Christian was once a runaway. The Bible teaches that we ALL have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. We ALL like sheep have gone astray and turned to our own way.

Yet, it was when the shining light of God’s spirit and truth pierces our sinful heart that we are freed from sin’s hold on us. We are delivered by the saving work of Jesus Christ when He took the penalty for our sins. He did so “once and for all”! Hallelujah, what a Savior!

If God so greatly desired a right relationship with me that He sent His only son to die, what will I sacrifice for right relationships and for eternal purposes?

This prayer that I pray today is not only for myself, but for all of my siblings in God’s family. >>

I pray that I never live so long in the family of God, that I have forgotten having once been outside of it. May I always remember that my own unpardonable sins have been forever forgiven. May I actively pursue the mission of the Gospel gift … that grace and forgiveness are still the means for welcoming others into God’s family.
God please empower us with your Spirit and use us to reach the runaways. Help us to pursue them with the love that they need– the Love that is You!
All for Your Glory, Amen.

May our runaway pursuit (passion for the Gospel) drive us to pursue the runaway!

Sharpening the Axe

 I like this :  “If I had eight hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend six hours sharpening my axe”   —Abraham Lincoln

 

I want 2012 to be a milestone of change and it starts now… here… with me “getting my house in order.” So, I am intentionally honing at the first of 2012 in a way that I trust will lead to some serious cutting away of the unnecessary in favor of a sharper, more impactful use of my future. I want to disentangle myself of the “clutter”; simplify and streamline so that I will be more available for what the Lord would direct me to do with my life. Once I get through the tediousness of reorganization I believe I will not only be freed from the space-hogging “stuff” of things and superfluous obligations, but will also free up time which I KNOW can be better spent.

How am I doing it? First, I have gone to greater lengths to seek God’s will. I am still dedicating daily time to reading God’s Word. I have been blessed by the “read through the Bible in a year” discipline for the last three years. Every single time I come to portions where I say “I don’t remember ever having read THAT before”.  I can testify that the Word of God is “living” just as  the Scripture itself testifies. It has great power for change. So I am starting year four of reading through it cover to cover on top of my other in-depth studies. After all I cannot “hide God’s Word in my heart” if I don’t read or hear it.

I further sharpen the axe, so to speak, by prayer. This one has become ever more important to me. Almost exactly a year ago, a very dear elderly woman in our church passed away. At her funeral service I was profoundly struck by the number of people that spoke of her as a prayer warrior. It was especially gripping when children and grandchildren testified to finding list upon list in her handwriting of specific prayer requests, with dates of prayer concerns and dates answered or additional updates. This prayer warrior had gone before God’s throne with concerns and praises of hundreds of people. . . she had interceded in a very actionable way… naming them specifically (whether dear family member or stranger) . The hundreds of names that this woman left behind and her children found shook my prayer life to its core. “WHY? Why Ellen, don’t YOU pray more? What impact are YOU having through prayer?”

When it comes to praying for others, my method of praying over the years has been more of a series of darts thrown heavenward. I guess because I am visual, I rely heavily on cues to remind me to pray for a certain person. My kitchen faucet is assigned to those who I continue to pray for salvation. My refrigerator door handle reminds me to pray for provision. My bathroom ( medicine cabinets) remind me to pray for those suffering physical needs. Newstime on TV… lots of prayer cues there, but also reminds me to pray for our government and public servants. When I see an emergency vehicle, traffic accident, obvious suffering, I immediately shoot off another prayer dart. I don’t mean to belittle this method of praying, but one thing it does NOT do, is it doesn’t keep an account like a prayer journal would do.

So – – – I resolved in 2012 to start a prayer journal. But that left me with the big question of HOW exactly do I DO that?!  I mean, when I was a teenage girl I started a diary (complete with lock and key to keep out nosey siblings) just as many of my friends did. However, inevitably I’d vow to write in my diary every day, and by early February I’d miss a day or two. My life just wasn’t that noteworthy. I’d feel guilty for missing my entries, then sharpen my resolve and maybe get an addition week or two of entries in a stretch. Next thing you know, I’d not have another entry for months and that one would be some special event had happened like a family 4th of July gathering or something!

Well, I’ve decided to walk as a Christian . . . by FAITH.  That faith is not in myself. No way! I am going to trust in God to give me both the direction AND the strength to achieve what HE wants me to accomplish. I know that I might fail. uh..strike the word “might”. . . I  will fail. Maybe repeatedly. However, this is NOT all about me. It’s about Jesus Christ. It’s about my wanting to be more like Him; to truly intercede for people on behalf of what has not only current ramifications for the person(s) I am praying for, but everlasting consequences. I truly ache for those who struggle through life without a Savior. I feel that ache as I visualize Jesus outside of Lazarus’ tomb and the gates of Jerusalem crying. So prayer is too important of a privilege for me to take lightly. Not that I was in any way insincere in my “prayer without ceasing” method of praying “darts” throughout my day, but I need to add something more.

I believe I need to start journaling prayer. It is not going to be easy for me, but I think of the ebenezers that were set as memorial stones of remembrance throughout the Old Testament. These were lasting testimonies to what God had done! So I have consulted a few friends to ask for ANY suggestions on HOW they prayer journal. Any advise at all is welcome. I know it is not a one method fits all proposition. I am handicapped in not having a step by step instruction method before me on this one. However, I believe that I must purpose to do this for the benefit of being able to look back on those lists, all the names, all the prayers and answers to prayers, listing the many praiseworthy “only by God’s grace” occurrences that people explain as miracles, etc.  I think that perhaps this will be a wonderful tool to remind me of God’s active involvement in our lives.

In regard to prayer. . . the very beginning of 2012 has brought to me a new spiritual discipline as our church has encouraged people to engage in prayer in fasting during the first 40 days of 2012. Not that I have never, ever fasted before. But this time I planned ahead; I took time to prepare for the time of fasting and prayer. All the other times were more like emotionally entering a short time of fasting contemporaneously. This time; like my determination of being more intentional in all the areas of my life, I am taking the time to grab up the axe of action and not just start chopping, but to take the time to grind that axe to a very sharp edge by using the Lord’s honing stone to sharpen me “before” I can be used more effectively.  “Grind on Master . . . I know there is some shiny metal under all of this rust and if anyone can get to it, You can!” In the meantime I would much appreciate your prayers as I press myself against the grinding stone that will reshape my future. Likewise, if you have ANY comments about how you handle this area of spiritual development I would be very grateful if you shared them with me.

 

 

 

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