MInTheGap

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

Some More Speed Linking

June 30th, 2007 Viewed 1209 times

There comes a time in a young man’s life– wait, that’s the subject of a different post.

Truthfully, there are so many things that I read on a daily basis, and so many things that catch my attention that I feel that I’ve got way too much to talk about and no time.

So, it’s at times like these that I’ll just point you at some articles I found interesting with a couple of quick notes, and then you can think and comment about them and we can discuss them!

The Worse You Play The Greater Number of People That Will Be Saved – All the more reason to be a poor golfer!  With the Gospel printed on golf balls, it’ll pay eternal dividends if you lose them in the woods, right?

Erotic Church Service – Some people have no problem doing whatever will get them a crowd.  In this case, the Protestant Church Assembly used an erotic dance dressed in a skin colored stocking crawls on the floor, gives forehead and hand massages to those that come, and helps them to get more relaxed.

Clown-Led Worship – Nothing brings more glory to God than a clown leading worship, right?

McClure United Church in Edmonton, Canada is the latest church to join the ranks of those churches that have offered ‘Clown-Led Worship’. Their service was sooooo unique and sooooo meaningful that it was covered by their local newspaper.

Whatever happened to reverence in the house of God?

Apparently that is long gone. It has been replaced with circus acts.

How to Grow Your Church – Finally, here’s a short video from YouTube telling you how you too can grow your church.  It goes into detail about how to attract a crowd, but then compares the current methods to those of the Bible– this one’s right on.

So, How Was Your Field Trip?

June 29th, 2007 Viewed 1482 times

Some schools take you on trips to the park.  Others to the zoo or an historical landmark.  In Manchester, New Hampshire, forty one middle school students were taken to Planned Parenthood:

On Wednesday, students in the STAY program, created for at-risk children, took a tour of nonprofit agencies.

STAY, in collaboration with the Greater Manchester YMCA, took the students on the trip.

Several protesters were outside the Planned Parenthood when the students arrived. They were yelling and trying to give the students anti-abortion literature.

“It is inappropriate for a school program to be bringing middle school children to Planned Parenthood,” said Manchester Mayor Frank Guinta.

The sad part is that we’re supposed to think this is just a slip up, and that it won’t happen again.  To me, that’s the part that is the most absurd.

Abortion is one of (if not the) most divisive issues in American politics.  Supreme Court nominees are grilled on it.  Presidents have to state their position to their parties, and must not go against the grain.  The right to murder one’s baby is very controversial.

So, if it’s such a polarizing issue, why did this YMCA take these kids there?  Did they think that they were just teaching them to be prepared?  Did they honestly think that people wouldn’t have a problem?

I just don’t get it.

Hey, Check Me Out!

June 28th, 2007 Viewed 8404 times, 1 so far today
This entry is part 2 of 8 in the series Modesty

There are many events in a person’s life that they will never forget.  Times where they want to look their best.  Times when they want pictures and the memories to last forever.  It is at these times that we think most about what we wear.  We spend days searching through catalogues trying to find the perfect dress.  We spend money on a suit that we’ll only wear for a short time.  We make sure our teeth are cleaned, our hair just so, and our nails polished.  Well, if we’re a girl.

One of these events that we want to remember is our wedding day.  This year, my brother is getting married, and just like any other bride, his wife will spend lots of time and money (and already has) making sure the special day is right, but nothing compares to how much time and “surprise” is built into the dress.  Why else would it cost so much, need alterations, and does the groom be told that he can’t see it or her in it until the wedding day?

In other cases, it’s the prom, the graduation, the special dinner out, the anniversary dinner– it’s at these times that we actually stop to think and consider what we are wearing and what effect it will have.  The problem is that we should be paying attention to what we wear every day– not just on these special occasions.

We Cannot Effect How Our Clothing Impacts Others

There is an inherent problem with a conversation about modesty.  Primarily, that clothing effects people in different ways depending on the culture, sex, sensitivity.

Times change, and the culture changes with it.  It would have been common in the Old Testament period for men to wear skirts, and long flowing robes.  Even as early as the Middle Ages we see men in what would look like skirts.  Times have changed to have men now wear pants and ladies skirts– just look at the non-written indicators for restrooms– but that is not to say we should just absolutes purely based on culture.

Whether you are a man or a woman has a lot to do with how clothing effects you.  For a man, clothing can react in an attraction way– it can appeal to lust and cause temptation.  The same article on the person could be simply repugnant to the woman.

Modesty SurveyAnd sensitivity is one of the key factors here.  If you check out the Modesty Survey besides finding some really interesting answers to questions you will see a common theme repeated.  That even in the questions where an overwhelming majority find something modest, there will be a group that disagrees.  Now this can partly be explained by the fact that answering a dry question versus seeing an article of clothing on a person can be two different things, but I think that it is also the case that each person has their own sense of what is modest and some may be more conservative that others.

My point is that we can dress in such a way that some think is modest, and yet still fail to be modest by someone else’s standard.  Ladies can dress in long flowing dresses and wear a vail or head covering, and men may still fantasize about them.  We have no control over what others do in their minds.  We do have some control of how much we give them to look at, and whether we encourage the glances, but that cannot be our only reason to dress modest.

Inside a Reflection of the Outside

Modesty must first come from within a person.  It springs from a heart of humility– one that desires someone else or something else be elevated.  It’s a heart that yearns for attention not on self, but on something or someone else.

Take a quick look around the Internet or mall and you’ll see why modesty is such a big problem.  Humans are born with a desire for attention.  From the smallest baby to the oldest adult we want people to notice us– and for a majority of the people that we come in contact with they will only see how we look.  And there is much attention showered on those that will show, that will tease, that will display their bodies.

But there is also freedom in modesty.  A freedom that states that who you are as a person is not judged by what you look like, but for who you are.  It’s more about how you think than how you can put on makeup.  It’s more about your passion than displaying body parts.

That’s what Peter is talking about when he says:

Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of [braiding] the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.

A. W. Tozer has something great to say about this passage in his book I Call It Heresy where he states:

[T]he teaching is plain: don’t let your apparel be your true attractiveness.  Don’t try to substitute gold jewelry for the true beauty of the being!

Peter and Tozer are both saying the same thing– you should be more interested in your character– on your inner man/woman– than you are in your clothing and what you look like.  For some of us, that would take some doing.

So, Then How do I dress?

The point is not that we should dress in sack-cloth and ashes, but that our dress should not be the thing that draws our attention as much as it is a reflection of who we are on the inside.  We should not neglect showering or wear smelly clothes because “it’s the inside that counts,” but the point is also not to seek to draw attention because we’re baring our navel, wearing expensive clothes, or showing off our muscles/cleavage.

Tozer sums it up in four words: “clean, neat, modest, appropriate.”

We’re not to dress to draw attention to our form, to our looks, or toward the outward appearance.  We can’t control what others will think of what we wear, but we can control what we show them.  And we should attempt to be modest and show our inner person, not our outer.

Meebo– IM On the Go

June 27th, 2007 Viewed 1352 times

How many of you use some form of Instant Messaging?

I think that I’ve been using instant messaging since 1998 or earlier.  Back then you had two choices, AOL Instant Messenger and ICQ.  Today, there are many different types from all different providers as well as the crossovers that let you maintain your buddy lists across all of the different brands.

The problem is, you have to download a client (either an all-in-one or each of them depending on the features you want) and install it, and it comes up when you start windows, etc.  And then there’s the updates that you have to install, and rebooting your PC.

Meebo changes all of that.

Meebo’s Signature Feature

I first found meebo as the flash object (like the one on my right sidebar) on someone else’s blog, and I knew I had to try it out.  Basically, you can create a meebo widget that you can place on any site that you own and people can chat with you while they visit your site.  You can also see how many people are on your site at any given time.  This feature, though only a two-way conversation, makes it easy to contact the blog or site author and talk about anything!

Meebo’s Site

To use meebo on the site owners end, you have to enter their site, but it was when I went there that I started to fully appreciate what meebo had to offer.  You see, not only do you get to see your widgets, you can login and and store all of your IM services in one location.  The best part is that they do all the upgrades for you– no more client on your PC except for your web browser!

Special Features

Meebo comes with a few added features like meebo Rooms– which is a room established around your site that people can come and chat and the room stays up and running.  It also follows you to whatever computer you choose to fire up– so that you can see the last few statements you’ve made with someone wherever you are.  And if you get the right greasemonkey script, you can login automatically– just like windows signon.

Drawbacks
  • I haven’t had that many people actually communicate with me.  Though this is both a blessing and a curse, I don’t know how beneficial this feature really is.
  • If people are talking with you through your webpage, if they navigate off of it they will lose connection.  On a blog, this could happen with just clicking to comment.
  • If you reload your meebo page, you get a warning that you are closing your session.

So, what are you waiting for?  If you have IM, you should try out meebo.

Pay Per Post – A Different Way of Blog Marketing

June 27th, 2007 Viewed 1264 times, 1 so far today

Pay Per Post is an interesting concept.  If done right, I believe that it can be a thing that can help bloggers in many ways, especially in the area of blog marketing.

The Concept

Basically, like any other form of advertising, a customer wants to get his product in front of people.  They want others to be aware that they are offering services.

In this case, instead of placing ads in people’s sidebars and paying per impression or clicks, a person is paid to write a post on a given topic, item, or review a site or service.

How it Works

After registering with Pay Per Post, you install some javascript on your site.  It takes up to 48 hours to verify that you have it on there– something that originally threw me off because I expected something more immediate.  After that, you are able to see jobs for your specific Google Page Rank and Alexa Ranking.  You can then choose to write a post on any topic available.

After you’ve written the post you provide them with a link, and they pay you via Pay Pal.  I’ll let you guess how much they pay to write this post.

How does this fit with MInTheGap?

Well, this blog is self hosted.  I run ads for those people who do not log in to the site.  I also pass along to you books from which I have read something interesting.  I view Pay Per Post as just another way to help defray the costs of keeping the blog running smoothly as well as passing along to you things that are of interest.

I will not lower my standards to make money.  I’ll be very careful as to what I will write a post about.  I do not intend to do more than one of these a week, and even then it will only be if there’s something interesting.

At the same time I’m interested in your feedback.  Do you view sponsored posts as cheapening the site?

In Short

I think this is a great service to bloggers that want to make some cash, and it allows for irregular ads rather than constant ads.

I’ll let you know more how it works out as things progress.

Gisele Bundchen Speaks Out on Abstinence

June 26th, 2007 Viewed 1160 times

Gisele BundchenJess, over at Making Home, posted recently about watching one of the Back to the Future movies and how corny it was, how they stereotyped people, and how they took the Lord’s name in vain.

My comment was that what seems acceptable at the time seems shocking when we look back, and I wondered aloud what would be the thing that we look back in 10 or 20 years and think is shocking about our current entertainment.

I would hypothesize that it will be the amount of sexualized content that we have.  From Victoria’s Secrets models parading in commercials, to sex in shows and movies, I think that there are some things that we may be tolerant of now that when we go to watch them in the future, we will find that we aren’t so tolerant of them!

Which brings me to Gisele Bundchen.  It is in this very sexually charged culture that one of the icons of said culture is speaking out:

Today, it is important that all women maintain their virginity as long as they can.  It is imperative both to prevent disease and to elevate the cause of womanhood.  To treat one’s body as something to use whenever you’re in the mood cheapens being a woman for all of us.

As far as contraception and abortion goes,

If today’s woman were to practice abstinence, then we would not have a need for either of these things.  Disease would be a thing of the past– or at least highly localized– and abortion would only be for life threatening situations.  It is a shame that we need to produce and promote such materials in the name of “free love.”

Or…  That’s what we wish she said.

Instead, Gisele said this:

“Today no one is a virgin when they get married … show me someone who’s a virgin!”…

Asked about abortion, she said…

”If she thinks she doesn’t have the money or the emotional condition to raise a child, why should she give birth?’…

“‘It’s ridiculous to ban contraceptives – you only have to think of the diseases that are transmitted without them. I think it should be compulsory to use a contraceptive.”

The AP added:

“How is it possible to not want people to use condoms and also not have abortions? It’s impossible, I’m sorry.”

You see, there’s a great disconnect.  Obviously Gisele hasn’t even thought through the words that I put in her mouth.  And yet there is a lot of truth in what I’ve said.

However, I don’t know how much one can expect from a woman that makes her living by posing for pictures in magazines in her underwear and less, and has no problem marketing things that should truly be a secret to the whole world.  Especially for a company who’s main pitch is trying to get men to get the women in their lives to buy their wares based on an “ideal” sexualize form that said women do not have…

But I digress…

Hat Tip: Jill Stanek

Who is Influencing You?

June 25th, 2007 Viewed 1417 times

Silhouetted Friends Header
I first encountered Amanda on an atheist blog that chose to challenge the existence of God. After a few volleys, I left that comment discussion because I realized that it had devolved into exactly what I thought it would– a chance for Christians to be on an Atheist home turf to be mocked and laughed at as a clown. Rarely is it actually an open an honest discussion– even if there’s not a comment saying as such, you can be sure that those that are reading that site are sitting behind either laughing or shaking their heads about “the foolish” Christian. The Bible said that the Word of God is foolishness to the Greek– so we should not be surprised.

At that point, I stuck her blog in my feed reader, and have followed what’s going on over there ever since. Until this last week, everything was fine. Until last Wednesday when she went on an, albeit brief, Hiatus. Now, I know that bloggers have the tendency to get bogged down, to need a break, or just leave. So I offered prayer and help, and then she came back with a post saying that “I want God to leave me alone and to be happy with me leaving Him alone.” She rightly comes to the conclusion that if she were to say that she no longer believes in the God that she has always said she proclaimed it will bring her blog to naught. Some things are downright scary and have me wondering if she was a true Christian at all:

For my entire life, I’ve always done what’s expected of me – even where God is concerned. I know that there have been periods where my desire for God has been real, but I think that most of it has been me doing what I’m supposed to do.

And I’m tired of it.

Donald Miller said, “I began to wonder if becoming a Christian did not work more like falling in love than agreeing with a list of true principles.”

Well guess what? I’m not in love with God! Or Jesus, for that matter.

He also described me pretty well when he said, “I grew up believing a Christian didn’t have to love God or anybody else; he just had to believe some things and be willing to take a stand for the things he believed.”

That’s me. And I think I’ve done those pretty darn well. But it turns out that’s not what God wants from me. But do I really want to give God what He wants?

And that leads to yesterday when she declared that she no longer believes in the God of the Bible, but has taken at least a more deist tack– a watchmaker god that created the world and left it alone. A probably real Jesus, that was inflated and twisted in writings by His followers.

I believe that this was brought about by how I lead this off. Left around Atheists and Agnostics long enough to feed doubt, those that have grown up in the faith have the same crossroads they must face as those saved later in life– mainly, who am I and what do I really believe?

Start with a Christian Foundation from an Early Age

You see, unlike those that are saved out of a life of deep sin, those of us that have a very young conversion experience usually do not have as good of a before and after picture. For me, I can always remember being the “good kid”– and those that claim salvation even younger always believe they were saved. Without the stark contrast, one can get older never knowing a difference which can feed the idea that “I’ve always been able to be moral and good, and I don’t need God.”

Add in Some Differing Views.

The longer we spend time around people of a specific belief, the more influenced we are by it. People seek out those of like thought for many reasons– common bonds, things to talk about, reassurance, and reinforcement. All of these things happen, even if you aren’t looking for them.

This is true for families– the longer time that you spend in a home with a given set of rules, the more comfortable you are with the rules. It is only when there is a conflicting set of morality or rules enters that there is a choice: Do I continue with what I know or do I choose another?

The same is true here. Amanda grew up believing one thing, she has had it reinforced, and she truly believes/believed it. However, she has not spent considerable time talking with atheists and those that question the very things that she holds foundation to who she is/was. She now is at a crossroads of who she will become.

And now you have doubt

Let this be a sign for those that would spend time in discussion of things that disagree with their beliefs. At some point you’re going to have doubts (grass is always greener effect)– and how will you cope. And this is not isolated to Christianity, Atheism, or any religion– as people change what they believe based on who they are around all the time. Since we are beings that are thusly influenced the question of what really is truth is important.

For Amanda, she now even doubts the very thing that she has been saying to the Atheists. And, like I said, she understands the impact she is having. Atheists are already saying they are witnessing the butterfly coming out of the cocoon– meaning that she is finally becoming enlightened throwing off the old belief in religion. She’s starting to talk about how the Bible was written by men with an agenda. She’s beginning to undermine everything that she believes/believed and in the process give the very people she has been trying to minister even more hardened hearts so that they may, in turn, mock those that believe the more.

Who is Influencing You?

Who are you choosing to spend your time with? What thoughts are you entertaining that are at odds with what you believe? Are you engaging in activities that go against your faith? Is your faith based on works and what you’ve done, or a love for God. The latter is the key. Regardless of when you came to Christ you are a changed being. Now you must live like it.

Prayer

June 24th, 2007 Viewed 1458 times, 1 so far today
This entry is part 6 of 6 in the series How To Reach Them

The biggest impact that we can ever make is getting on our knees before the Throne of God.  You see, we can think of great plans, and try to do many things in our own strength, but without the working of the Holy Spirit in the lives of those we are trying to reach, our efforts will be in vain.

Pray for the Lost to Seek Christ

The size of the hurdle that is between the Lost Soul and Christ seems to grow higher each day.  Secular Humanism is running rampant in our schools, our colleges, and from society.  The concepts of “if it feels good do it” and the “I’ve got to have it my way right now” are in full force through advertisements, money, etc.  Philosophers have declared God dead.  Science has tried to explain how we got here through chance.  And churches are trying to become like the world in order to reach them.

James Madison

June 23rd, 2007 Viewed 1424 times, 1 so far today
This entry is part 7 of 7 in the series We Hold These Truths

Any in depth look into the Freedom of Religion in the U.S. Constitution must, at some point, take up the subject of James Madison.  He is the writer of the current text, and was very influential in the founding.  It is through his documents that those looking for the Founder’s mind go to as they ponder these questions.  We’ll look at some of his documents, his actions in Congress, and his writings later.

His Early Documents

Fired From the CIA

June 22nd, 2007 Viewed 1149 times

The axeIt is the classic tale, but not anything like you would imagine.  Here I am, sitting on my bed wondering what could have happened…  Well, best start at the beginning.

It was a usual day.  I had awakened early, as usual, and was getting for the day ahead.  The forecast was cloudy– as if the weather knew something that I didn’t.  I picked up the morning paper outside my apartment before riding the elevator to the parking garage and getting in the car.

It was a quick drive to the CIA office.  I showed the guard at the door my badge.  “Michael Weston.  You’re cleared to enter, Mr. Weston.”  I nodded and walked inside and took a place at my desk.

“Weston,” someone called from behind me.  It was a colleague in my division, “That’s some pretty interesting stuff you have on your blog.”

“What blog?”

“You know– your girlfriend’s blog.  She has written all sorts of things about you.”  It was at this point that I wish I could have said something– but it was too late.

It was at this point that I heard the clip clopping of shoes headed toward my desk, as two men in suits approached me.  They asked for me to follow, and I did not refuse.  I was taken in to the director’s office, and asked to sit down.  I complied and the men left.

“It appears,” said the director, “that you have some pretty interesting after hours activities, Michael.”

“How so, sir.”

“Well, this blog that we’ve found says that you’re actively involved in a local church.  It says here that you’ve actually been out in the area passing out literature and going door to door telling people about your religion.”

To this I was not sure what to say.  Surely these activities would not be a problem.

“Unfortunately, this means that you’ve drawn way too much attention to yourself.”

“How so?”

“Well, your pictures and name are all over this blog.  See,” he said, turning around his laptop, “here you are at a social gathering.  Here’s another on a church van.  This just won’t do.  We can’t have one of our operatives being so exposed, so I’m afraid that we can’t have that kind of activity.  So, you’re either going to have to dispose of these pictures and stop attending church functions, or I’m afraid that we’ll have to ask you to leave.”

Of course we all know what happened next.

And here I am.

Of course, this story I, MInTheGap, made up to justify why I would want to be fired– for taking a stand for Christ.  To find out why the character Michael Weston of the CIA gets fired in USA Network’s Burn Notice, you’ll have to follow the link.

MInTheGap

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