MInTheGap

Standing in the Gap in a Society that's Warring with God.

What We Learned Today

May 31st, 2007 Viewed 1021 times

Open Bible
It’s amazing the different avenues that God’s Word is being proclaimed and yet the promise stands firm– God’s Word does not return void. It seems that every day there’s something new to learn either about God or about ourselves– the way God sees us.

So, I was sitting down the other day, watching the latest VeggieTales episode (VeggieTales – Moe & The Big Exit) when I got to thinking a few things that I hadn’t thought about before.

The things that I learned coincided with the things that were shared by the Evangelist we had at our church a few weeks back– and that still resonate with me as I mull over them in my head.

The biggest thing that I can’t “get” completely is that God is active and He wants us to work with Him toward a goal. Well, I can understand that part, but finding out what God is doing is not always easy– at least it’s not always evident to me. I know that He is at work saving souls– and I need to be out there witnessing what He has done in my life– but the bigger things, how do I know what He is doing in even the lives of everyone that will read this post? Do I know what His total purpose for this blog is– or is this blog helping in His work?

It’s important to be where God wants us to be doing what God wants us to be doing– and that means joining with Him in the work of bringing sinners to repentance.

Are You Making a Difference?

May 30th, 2007 Viewed 1672 times, 1 so far today

Wonderful LandscapeWhat are you doing in your daily life to make a difference? I know, it’s a tough question, but it’s one that we should face squarely each and every day that we have. You see, the problem is that we have limited time to make a positive impact in this world. Note I did not say we have limited time to make an impact. That’s because we make an impact with everything we do– or do not do.

Now, I don’t know that I will go as far as “It’s a Wonderful Life” and say that if you do not go out and help the old lady across the street then that woman will end up in jail, the U.S. will lose the war in Iraq, your hometown will be bulldozed for a strip mall, and your wife will end up an old maid, but what I am saying is that you will miss out on the opportunity to be a blessing in someone’s life.

Take this week’s weekend kindness for an instance. We are attempting to be a blessing to some neighbors who have recently lost a loved one. What we’ve missed is the opportunity on two occasions to help a stranded motorist. (We’ve been more alert to those in need since a sermon on being a Good Samaritan, but I’m sorry to say that though we’ve seen the need, we haven’t yet been able to act upon it until now.

Are you aware of the needs of people that are around you? Are you trying to meet needs, or are you only concerned about yourself?

In this country we are blessed beyond measure, but we also have a greater preoccupation of it being “our” money, “our” house, and “our” car. We need to start looking at situations as opportunities, as those in need as people that we can show the love of Christ to, and start thinking of others more than ourselves.

Your Church Should Have a Website!

May 29th, 2007 Viewed 1516 times

Does your church have a website? If not, it should. We live in a time where more people are finding their information through the web– and the church of Christ cannot afford to not have information about who they are and what they stand for.

Purely Virtual LLC is a company started by a couple of friends of mine have done some design work and they are hosting websites on the web. (Full Disclosure: They are also hosting this blog.) Recently they started PurelyChurches.com to focus on the process of designing low cost, easy maintenance websites for churches.

They’re starting a series of posts talking about why your church should have a website. I agree with their first point, that you have to get who you are out there, whole heartedly.

One of the first things that you learn when you decide to blog “for real” is that you should get your own hosting and domain so that people can find you. Certainly, having your own domain for an e-mail address instead of so-and-so@yahoo.com is a great step forward to making a good impression.

So, check out the blog, give them some encouragement, and if you or any church you know has a need for a site, please let them know of PurelyChurches.com and the desire these people have to help them get a place on the web.

What Will You Be Remembering?

May 28th, 2007 Viewed 1329 times

Flags
Memorial Day is an interesting time. It’s a time where the car dealers are asking you to come on in and get great deals. Web sites are offering free shipping. The weather is warming up, so some people are out camping and enjoying the outdoors. Businesses close for a day, giving people three day weekends. A lot of people are on the road.

Oh. And there’s that remembering thing too. What was I supposed to remember?

A memorial is an interesting thing. We put things up so that we don’t forget something important. Like those high school papers I have in the attic that remind me of days gone by, everyone does or has something for things that are truly important.

This day, we take time to remember those that have given the greatest sacrifice so that we can be free. We take time to remember those that have fought for this country on the front lines, in support, and continue to fight so that we do not have to.

My grandfather was one such man. Even though this will be the second memorial day where he will not be with us on this Earth, I remember things about him. Well that’s not the only time, I remember him every time there’s an appliance in my house that breaks! He sold and repaired appliances– especially refrigeration– up until the day that he couldn’t walk on his own anymore. In fact, the last conversation that I had with him where he was lucent was one where I asked him about my dishwasher.

As I think about my grandfather, the impact that he had on me and future generations, I have to be in awe of the “stuff” that makes up the man that goes to battle for his country. I don’t necessarily believe that all that go on the foreign field go there with the thought in mind that they are going so that I don’t have to– they probably don’t even know who I am!

And yet these people are brave– they are performing a duty that is dangerous! They are living lives of adventure and routine all at the same time. They desire to be at home, and yet must focus on the every day. They have to be ones that complete their task– leaving nothing unfinished. They have to be diligent to follow their leaders. They are disciplined, and do what they are told.

Who will you be remembering? A loved one, a friend? Thank God for them, and pray for those that are in harms way, fighting for you.

Look, here is water. Why shouldn’t I be baptized?

May 27th, 2007 Viewed 1268 times

Baptism
One of the most interesting things about baptism and being a Baptist is that we are very dogmatic about certain things. We truly believe that the Bible teaches that one must be submersed in water to be baptized. We believe that baptism is a step of obedience– a symbol of our relation to Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection– but nothing more. We don’t believe that it saves you. We don’t believe that you should be baptized unless you have a clear confession of faith in the Lord as your Savior and that you have repented of your sins.

So far, no problem. What is interesting, however, is that we place a lot of emphasis in baptism in our sermons, but, in practice, we don’t seem to make it out to be as important as we say. What do I mean? Well, I have been in two or three different Baptist Churches in my lifetime, and most of them will have a set day (sometime in the future) that will be a night of baptism. We hold courses, in some cases have a test, and have an interview with the church deacons.

At the end of all of this, the candidates have a baptism inside the church, in a “tub” or “baptismal tank” in front of usually the congregation and maybe families, and then, in some churches, we have a vote on them to become members.

However, for all of our emphasis on the New Testament mode, we aren’t following the rest of the patterns laid out in the Bible!

Check out this chart and see how we compare…

Biblical Baptism Today’s Baptisms
Occurred immediately following salvation. Occurs days, weeks, months, years (!) after salvation.
Done in a public place. Done inside a church building.
Done by immersion. Done by immersion.
Were a testimony to the public. Were a testimony to those that are in the church (primarily) and anyone the candidate can get to attend.

So, the question I have is, if we’re going to be dogmatic about immersion, what about all of these other factors? Some of these other points seem to be pretty important too, and yet we are very dogmatic on the mode and not everything else!

Gossip Can Cost You Your Job

May 26th, 2007 Viewed 1109 times

It’s happened many times before.  There’s a piece of news that’s not common knowledge, but you or someone you know has found something out about the company or someone in the company.  What do you do with that information?

It’s no longer just something “that women do”, gossip that happens when someone knows something that he believes someone else does not know– whether they need to know or not.

In the town of Hooksett, N.H., gossip cost four women their job:

Four town employees with 46 years of service between them were fired, in part for gossiping and discussing rumors of an improper relationship between the town administrator and another employee that Hooksett residents now agree were not true.

The administrator complained, and after an investigation the town council fired the women, finding, “Gossip, whispering, and an unfriendly environment are causing poor morale and interfering with the efficient performance of town business.”

The women were incredulous– after all, they talked about it at lunch and it stopped there.  Only, it never ends there.  Someone else hears it, “news” spreads, and before you know it a reputation is ruined for something that is usually untrue.

It’s hard to deal with this kind of sin because “everyone does it.”  We like to know something someone else does because of what it does to our pride, how it can boost other’s opinion of ourselves as an information source or as someone who is better than the person we are gossiping about.

This isn’t something a Christian should be doing for those reasons alone, not even taking into account the fact that what we hear is seldom the whole story.

What should we do when we hear gossip?  Ask not to hear it!  If you can’t, ask the teller if they would mind if you checked the story out with the one they are talking about.  Usually the person will not want you to go back to the subject.  You should, though.  The person needs to know what was said about them.

Focusing on the Woman

May 25th, 2007 Viewed 1024 times

The press is beginning to see a difference in the Pro-Life movement, especially after the recent Supreme Court Victory that upheld the Partial Birth Abortion ban.  What are they seeing that they hadn’t seen before?  That Pro-Lifers care about women.

Now, even since I went through training for our local Crisis Pregnancy Center (now CareNet Pregnancy Center) back in 2000, we were instructed that part of the downfall of the Pro-Life movement was that we came across as not loving the mother– as to only being worried about the baby, so I can assure you that this is nothing new.

What is working, and what is logical, is the concept of equating the Abortion Industry to the Tobacco Industry.  Sure, women are going to do both, but neither are something that they should do or are in their best interest.

The International Herald Tribune has an article talking about this “new” focus on women:

It is an argument that has been building for a decade or more, advanced by groups like the conservative Justice Foundation, the National Right to Life Committee and Feminists for Life. “We think of ourselves as very pro-woman,” said Wanda Franz, president of the National Right to Life Committee. “We believe that when you help the woman, you help the baby.”

It is embodied in much of the imagery and advertising of the “pro-life” movement in recent years, especially the “Women Deserve Better Than Abortion” campaign by Feminists for Life, a group that counts Jane Sullivan Roberts, the wife of the chief justice, among its most prominent supporters.

This concept is being used to help states craft “informed consent” counseling laws, and while the pro-abortion side may continue to say that this is politics and an attempt to abort a woman’s right to choose, how can they argue that a woman should not receive counseling?  How can they argue that they shouldn’t receive information and know about what they are about to do? 

The High Court agrees.  Justice Kennedy wrote in the prevailing opinion from the ban on Partial Birth Abortion:

“While we find no reliable data to measure the phenomenon, it seems unexceptionable to conclude some women come to regret their choice to abort the infant life they once created and sustained,” [Justice] Kennedy wrote, alluding to the brief. “Severe depression and loss of esteem can follow.” Given those stakes, the justice argued, “the state has an interest in ensuring so grave a choice is well informed.”

We need to make sure that we are caring for those that are hurting as well as protect those that are living.  Thank God that we are getting better at being able to do both.

Personalization vs. Privacy

May 24th, 2007 Viewed 1868 times

Technology can be an amazing thing.  The sheer amount of things that you can do, both online and in physical life, is amazing.  It was only a few years ago that you had to see a teller in order to get cash processed at the bank, you had to use a phone book to look up a phone number, and the list continues.

However, with the advent of all this technology and with the rate of increase of our interconnected lives, there is more data out there to be had easily by machines that can track down the most simple things and record it permanently.

Take, for instance, MyBlogLog.  This website lets you put a script on your site that does some statistics keeping but the main benefit (that I can see) is the ability to see who has come to your site– even if they chose not to leave a comment.  This is a trade-off of privacy for the fact that you can leave your mark on a site without commenting, and maybe the site owner will come back to see your site.  Should you find yourself on a site that you did not wish to be at, or do not want to leave a record of your visit, you can delete your mark.  Same thing with whether you want to leave the record of someone who visited your site.

However, that’s only the tip of the iceberg.  You see, we all know that many more people visit our sites than comment, can be seen as a MyBlogLog icon or have any form of identity about them.  We may not know about them, but our increasingly interconnected web does.

Do you have a Google account?  I find that many times when I visit blogger sites, I have to make sure that when I comment I choose not to use my real name and link, but change it to my pseudonym with a link to this site.  It knows my name.

Do you have an Amazon account?  Ever notice that certain sites have a badge that lets you donate money and refers to you by first name?

How about those sites that let you peek behind the curtain and see that computers know your general location, your speed with accessing the web, what operating system you are running, etc?

I’m not trying to scare you, but this next generation of computing is going to be much more information based– information that they are collecting each time you go online.  Google says as much:

Google’s ambition to maximise the personal information it holds on users is so great that the search engine envisages a day when it can tell people what jobs to take and how they might spend their days off.

Think about how many tools that you use that are Google’s…  GMail, Widgets, Desktop Search,  AdSense,  Analytics,  Docs… the list goes on.  You have to know that the ads you see in your e-mail come from AdSense that read your e-mail looking for keywords to choose the ads that it showed you.

I’m not saying that there are people that are reading everything you do– but that a computer is and that the information is there.  At some point we each have to come to realization that we are trading Privacy for Personalization– and make sure we’re ok with that.

WordPress Database Backup

May 23rd, 2007 Viewed 4207 times


One of the most basic things that every blogger that is self hosting should be doing is creating a backup of their database on a regular basis. Why? Because you are not running your own service (i.e. running your blog on wordpress.org or the equivalent place in blog platform of your choice) and having them backup your data, you need to have some protection in case their server crashes, your site gets hacked, etc.– if only for the fact that you will probably have a better grasp of what is truly going on at your site compared to those that are hosting it.

Truth be told, you should both have a copy of your current working files (the files you uploaded or FTP-ed to the site) and the database, but since the most important things for your blog (your posts, comments, settings, and options) are all saved in your database, it is crucial that this data is readily accessible should the unforseen happen. Like Stephen when he put his site back together and told us it is possible to gain a lot of your post content material back from Google’s cache, but he lost some comments. If you had a database backup you’d use less.

Ok, you say, you’ve convinced me. What do I do now?

Go and get the WordPress Database Backup Plugin. This plugin, once installed, will give you the ability to not only select what you want backed up, but, best of all, it will let you pick a scheduled frequency (hourly, daily, weekly, …) and then let you specify an e-mail address to have your backup e-mailed to. I have mine set up to send me an e-mail with my database backed up every day!

You may need to grant write permissions to a specific directory after installing the plugin, but other than that, installation is straightforward. You get a new menu under your Manage tab that says “Backup” and you can test it there as well as configure the daily backup.

So, what are you waiting for. Go get the WordPress Database Backup Plugin today!

Fashion Industry Concerned About the Wrong Thing

May 22nd, 2007 Viewed 2617 times

Karen

Recently, many of the places of high fashion have been drawing attention to the weight of the models that parade up and down catwalks showing off the different creations of those minds that think up high fashion.  They’re concerned about the effect these “size 0” models will have on young women everywhere as far as what regular sized women will expect their bodies to look like.

And they rightfully should be concerned about the impact that the weight has on women.  But deeper than that, they should be concerned about what messages they are sending about what they wear, not just how small the girl is that wears it.

If you’ve ever seen photos from one of these runway events some of them are quite comical.  I don’t know who comes up with the hats that they wear.  I have no idea why they match the colors they do.  And perhaps that is why I’m not a fashion commentator, just a guy with a blog that talks about ethics, morals, and Biblical things.

However, what I have found is that many of these fashion designers like to push the envelope as far as sheer material, they like to expose flash that should be hidden, they like to tease about what can and cannot be seen, or (if they’re a particular fashion show) they wish to display that which is supposed to be a “secret” but is anything but a secret.

You see, the whole industry, to me, seeks less to provide men and women with sensible things to wear as much as to draw attention to itself.  The designer puts together strange items in weird colors or shows off a model’s private parts to get attention.  The model wants the best shows and so she’s willing to show off her body and work down to the “size 0” so that she will be seen.  The people who watch these things (and I only see the photos taken after) look at these women– not to figure out what’s in style– as much to stare at the women for less than noble purposes.

To me, even if it made sense at one point in time to parade clothing on models (something that could be done on mannequins) for the purpose of determining fit has now become a circus– spending more time designing clothing for women that statistically are few, parading around in impractical clothing that you’ll never see walking down the street, and leading to a mess that could totally be avoided.

The whole weight discussion is a symptom of the problem– an industry that is now more concerned with itself than being of service to the public.

MInTheGap

Standing in the Gap in a Society that's Warring with God.