“Times: they are a-changin.” Bob Dylan made that phrase popular during the 60’s. It may have been true in that season, but it has never been truer than today.
When I say that, you might think that I am talking about the negative changes in our society, with its lawlessness and its rebellion against God and His Word. But that’s not what I am talking about. I am talking about some good changes. In fact I believe the changes I’m talking about are gifts from God . Changes to help us navigate the waters of our current society, throwing out life boats to all who will pay attention.
So what are these gifts? Let’s take a little trek back through history, and I think that we will see God’s new gifts with more perspective. Throughout the centuries, God has inspired creativity to flow through the minds of men so that inventions could elevate their lives – bringing comfort and opportunity.
1450 was one of those significant moments for western civilization. Prior to that date, messages were hard to deliver – whether those messages were political, religious, or of newsworthy events. Every message had to be written by hand and even carried by a courier to reach its appointed destination.
In 1450, Johannes Gutenburg revolutionized the world with his invention of the printing press. No longer was the sending of messages so time-consuming. Now books and other writings could be mass produced and distributed with greater ease. Yet the sending of these written materials was still difficult – with couriers on foot, horseback, or in wagons doing the job. The manuscripts could be written, but they were still expensive and hard to come by. Only the elite and educated could benefit from this revolution.
Fast forward a few hundred years, and we see a century which brought more dramatic changes than ever in history. As the nineteenth century turned over to the twentieth, transportation began to come of age. Trains, automobiles, and airplanes introduced incredible opportunities for people to get from one place to another quite quickly – and for the written materials to get from one place to another, as well. Books, magazines, and newspapers gained in popularity.
People could read the messages, but couldn’t hear them. So the inventions which surrounded the ability to transmit sound came on the scene. The telephone, phonographs, and the radio again changed the way people lived. Most of us have seen pictures of a family gathered around a huge radio as they heard President Roosevelt tell the nation that we were at war. Or as they listened to Orson Wells deliver his drama. So the message could now be heard.
Soon to come was the introduction of seeing the speakers as well. Motion pictures, and then television, transformed society. Even to this day these two inventions are significant in molding the thoughts of people throughout the world. Sometimes influencing for good – and sometimes influencing for evil.
Well, the last of the twentieth century introduced the most amazing discovery of all times. The computer. At first, it was cumbersome and slow – as businesses (and only the largest, at that) had equipment rooms the size of small houses in order to hold the necessary machinery. Yet, as we all know, that too has changed.
Today we are still in the middle of a technological revolution. With the introduction of the internet , the cell phone, and much smaller computer devices, we have access to information from around the world at our fingertips. The most remote parts of the world are available to us in a moment any time, day or night.
When you stop for a moment and think about it, this is truly amazing!
We can clearly see that God Himself has been behind this revolution and it is so important for us to “get this right.” God has given us an opportunity to reach mankind in an unprecedented way. I want to be a part of His great plan, and I realize that it’s up to me to take that opportunity.
Now all of these inventions throughout the generations have been conveniences which were neither good nor bad in themselves. At every juncture of advancement, there have been some who used the new means of reaching people in a godly way and others in an ungodly way. The same presses which could print tawdry novels, could also print the Bible. The television, which could send pornography to your home, could also allow you to participate in a world-wide revival event.
I remember years ago hearing some Christian leaders lament the fact that Christian groups had not embraced the television soon enough. When TV first came out, many Christians thought that it was a tool for evil, and shunned it altogether. Years later, some leaders thought how different society could have been if the leaders had embraced the technology immediately – bringing God’s message and good Christian programming to the world from the start.
Today, something similar is here. There are those who sit back and see the newer technologies as only evil. They just want their people to stay away from the devices.
I see something different.
I believe that we have an unprecedented opportunity – given to us by God – to deliver His message of hope to all the world.
Not even radio or television had the ability to go into all the world. The internet does. Even the most remote villages around the world are being targeted for some form of internet service.
The internet is more effective than any invention in history when we use it well. And not only is it effective, it’s surprisingly inexpensive.
Publishing books the old fashioned way can be expensive. Running radio or television programs can go into the millions.
The cost of getting your message online can be almost nothing.
What a powerful blessing we have at our fingertips!
So let’s do it! Join me in a mission to impact the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ and the good life which goes with it.
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The year was 1985 and our family was visiting my parents on the southeastern coast of Georgia. This is where I had spent my “growing-up” years, and I loved it. As my husband and I drove over the causeway to Sea Island, we were overwhelmed with the beauty – the huge Live Oaks, the windswept trees, the sand dunes, the meticulous landscaping, and the array of extraordinary vacation homes. Each home was unique, but each was manicured to perfection – and very expensive.
I had taken this drive many times over the years and had loved it. It was refreshing and intriguing to see the variety of homes and landscapes, and awesome to think of the money required to maintain such a lifestyle. Splendor and more splendor…
But this time it seemed different. (more…)
I often tell a story about my granddaughter, Lauren. When she was in second grade, as a school project, Lauren had to give an oral report on her favorite state. Since she lives in Atlanta, we were flattered that she chose Mississippi, where we live. Her accompanying prop was a white poster board with many symbols of our state. The symbols included a Magnolia blossom, items related to the zoo we visit, certain facts, and a tiny (and I do mean tiny) dot with the words “Blue Mountain,” our town. The dot and words were cut out of a map and placed right in the center of the poster.
We couldn’t help but chuckle. From the display, there was no context at all. Just a tiny dot and tiny words. There was no way of knowing where the town was located, or anything else about it – except that it was small.
I think that we are like that about the Bible sometimes. We pull verses out of the Bible and put them on the refrigerator. Without the proper context, there are times when we totally miss the meaning. The words would mean so much more if we would read them in the framework around them.
Thus my 2013 project. I want to read the Bible through with a group of people who want to discuss it. If we break it down into daily bites, it’s a doable project even for the busiest among us.
So starting January 1, we will have assignments of our daily reading. I will have a group going on Facebook and we will do it here also. I would love to have you join us. Just check in, read with us, and add your comments, if you like.
I think that 2013 is going to be a significant year for those who want to follow God. I believe that we will see many dreams come into fruition – many dreams that have seemed elusive for a long time.
Hope you can join the venture.
Many blessings, and forever upward!
So what is a nephron? A kidney cell. Strange, huh? What kind of spiritual lessons could we learn from the kidney cell? The answer: lots.
I have found – as I’m sure that you have- that God teaches us by what we already know. In other words, if we are farmers, he’ll teach us lessons using the soil, the seed, planting,etc. If we are fishermen, he’ll use that imagery to show us other important concepts. O.K., so why the nephron?
A few years ago, I was a pharmaceutical sales representative in the Atlanta area. Part of my training was a “crash course” in pharmacology presented by the Medical College of Philadelphia, and since one of our drugs was a diuretic, I had a “crash course” in the kidney and its function. I was absolutely amazed with this important organ.
Years later, after I had left the job, and my husband and I were preparing for ministry, I had a very unusual day with the Lord. He reminded me of the nephron, the kidney cell, and He began to speak to me all day relating the concepts with His church.
The kidney is made up of very specialized cells called nephrons. Each kidney has between 800,000 and 1.5 million of these cells, which are so small that they cannot be seen with the naked eye. If you go to Wikipedia, you can learn more about these, but I want to concentrate here on the spiritual concepts.
The kidney has many functions which are life and death matters for our bodies. Every ounce of blood in our bodies, goes through the kidney every day to be cleansed and regulated. Waste products are removed, and electrolytes are balanced so that our other organs can function properly.
I had always thought of the kidney as functioning as a whole. I had thought that the organ worked like a muscle, to perform all of its functions. But no. That’s not the case. All of the functions which are done by the kidney are done on the cellular level. What do I mean? I mean that each nephron, so small that we cannot see it, removes waste, regulates, sodium, potassium, and other ions, regulates blood pressure, etc. In fact, as blood passes through the nephron, certain places on the cell perform each of the tasks. Everything is very specialized.
So what are the lessons? As a body of Christ, we think of all of our work as occurring by the whole. We think sometimes that while we are in church we are accomplishing all that God wants. But this is not the case. The true work of the church is accomplished by each cell – each person – as they are performing their function in the world. They may be so small that no one even sees them, just as the nephron, but their work is important. In fact, the very life of the body depends on the work of all of these no-name, faceless members of His body.
So often, we gather and have wonderful meetings and feel so revved up and energized for the Lord. But if we are truly the Body of Christ, we need to go out and perform our function. That’s really the only way anything gets done. God is a one-on-one God. Whether we are going to change our churches or change our communities, everything is personal. Even when we talk about “taking mountains,” the culture only gets changed by individuals turning to the Lord and changing their mindsets.
But there’s more. Even though the work of the kidney – or the ministry- is done on a cellular level, by each one doing his part, if you cut some of the cells away from the kidney, they will die. Even though they do the work themselves, they depend on the blood flow from the kidney as a whole to survive. They don’t work or even survive alone.
So is the Body of Christ. Though the work of the ministry is done by each individual doing his part, that individual needs the corporate anointing, as the church comes together, to fulfill his call. The anointing, the teaching, the sharing,and the “iron sharpening iron” that goes on as the church meets as a whole, are absolutely essential for each member to thrive in his calling.
We need each other, but each one is important. I believe that in this time in history, we are going to see individuals rising to their place like never before. We will come together; then we will go out. We will be refreshed and energized by the anointing and by the words; then we will go out into the world, carrying the torch of awakening. We know our significance – and we see the significance of those around us. We are all important.
After all, together, we make up the Body of Christ, and we have an important work to do for Him.
Let’s do it!
How do you define a Christian? We all have our preconceived ideas. Of course they have to believe in Jesus Christ and receive Him as their Lord and Savior. That goes every time. But what about the rest?
In our society we have images which pop into our heads. We might imagine a man in a suit and tie and a woman in her heels. (Or if you run in the circles I do, you imagine a man not in a suit and tie, and a woman in pants or jeans). In either case, we think of dedicated church goers, with Bibles in hand, leading in prayer, having solid families. Usually they are leaders in the community.
But is that all? Is everyone that way? What about Mark?
Mark is a man who is now in his seventies and had never been in a church until about four years ago, when he came and prayed to receive Jesus. His wife passed away much earlier, and he was very lonely. He lives in a small mobile home at the edge of the town with his grandson, whom he raised. (Now the young man is in his mid twenties, but he doesn’t work and counts on his grandfather for support).
Mark is a quiet man, but every now and then he’ll tell a story which gives us a glimpse of his life.There is a reason that he never learned to read. When he was in the second grade, his father took him out of school so that he could help with the farm chores. (They were sharecroppers). He worked hard, long hours on the farm. But that’s not all that he did.
His grandfather was a moonshiner. He had a still back in the woods, and when the old man had an order, he would have Mark travel by foot to deliver the brew. It was risky, so the young boy learned how to look out for the “law.” On occasion he might have to duck into the edge of the woods, so as not to be seen. This grandfather was a hard man. If the young lad didn’t make it back in time for dinner, he wouldn’t get his food. Food was served twice a day, and anyone not around for the meal would have to wait until the next one.
Mark later got married, had children, and raised a family. Over the years, his farming and moonshining gave way to factory work. He worked at a local plant, running machines, and doing janitorial work. His attendance record was almost perfect. One of his greatest possessions was a jacket which he earned as “Employee Of The Year.”
Mark told me that while his wife was alive they would “fuss a lot.” He feels bad about that. He says that “he didn’t always do what he should have done.”He’s glad that he can pray and that Jesus has forgiven him.
He has been retired a few years, but Mark still does odd jobs. And he walks. He walks several miles a day – sometimes to the store, to a working assignment, and sometimes to church. He loves to work and he loves to walk. It makes him feel better.
Mark doesn’t bring a Bible to church, since he can’t read it. But every Sunday, for the last few years, he has sat on the front row on the far right of the church. And every Sunday, he has listened attentively as sermons were preached or testimonies given. His heart is tender, as he kneels and prays at the altar. He wants to “keep things right with God.”
We need to broaden our perspective. We need to realize that out there – in the masses of people who throng by every day, there are other Marks. They might not look like they would be interested in Jesus. And they might not act like it. Yet within their hearts is a desire to connect with their Maker and to connect with the truth. They want to know what the Bible says, and they want to learn how to pray. They might be outside of the box we expect people to be in, but they are not outside of the box in Jesus’s eyes.
I don’t know about you, but I want to look for more of the Marks. I am asking God to open my eyes and ears to see and hear what he wants to tell me so that I can reach others who are seeking the truth. I’ll try not to judge by what my natural eyes see, but I will try to judge by my spiritual eyes.
Dear Lord, help me to do this. I know how special these little ones are to you. Help me to do this.
“When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice.” Proverbs 29:2.
Today is the day to make your voice be heard in our great democratic republic. Sometimes people may think that their voice doesn’t count.; it’s just one of many. But throughout history elections have been won by a few hundred votes. Remember the 2000 election? A virtual handful of votes in Florida decided the outcome. Just think if those few hundred had not voted, what would the outcome have been?
I have included some great historical quotes furnished by http:www.wallbuilders.com. They will inspire you to fulfill that great public trust we have been granted.
Pray and choose well. Then vote!
We electors have an important constitutional power placed in our hands; we have a check upon two branches of the legislature . . . the power I mean of electing at stated periods [each] branch. . . . It becomes necessary to every [citizen] then, to be in some degree a statesman, and to examine and judge for himself of the tendency of political principles and measures. Let us examine, then, with a sober, a manly . . . and a Christian spirit; let us neglect all party [loyalty] and advert to facts; let us believe no man to be infallible or impeccable in government any more than in religion; take no man’s word against evidence, nor implicitly adopt the sentiments of others who may be deceived themselves, or may be interested in deceiving us.
[John Adams, The Papers of John Adams, Robert J. Taylor, ed. (Cambridge: Belknap Press, 1977), Vol. 1, p. 81, from “‘U’ to the Boston Gazette” written on August 29, 1763.]
Let each citizen remember at the moment he is offering his vote that he is not making a present or a compliment to please an individual – or at least that he ought not so to do; but that he is executing one of the most solemn trusts in human society for which he is accountable to God and his country.
[Samuel Adams, The Writings of Samuel Adams, Harry Alonzo Cushing, editor (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1907), Vol. IV, p. 256, in the Boston Gazette on April 16, 1781.]
Nothing is more essential to the establishment of manners in a State than that all persons employed in places of power and trust be men of unexceptionable characters. The public cannot be too curious concerning the character of public men.
[Samuel Adams, The Writings of Samuel Adams, Harry Alonzo Cushing, editor (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1907), Vol. III, p. 236-237, to James Warren on November 4, 1775.]
Consider well the important trust . . . which God . . . [has] put into your hands. . . . To God and posterity you are accountable for [your rights and your rulers]. . . . Let not your children have reason to curse you for giving up those rights and prostrating those institutions which your fathers delivered to you. . . . [L]ook well to the characters and qualifications of those you elect and raise to office and places of trust. . . . Think not that your interests will be safe in the hands of the weak and ignorant; or faithfully managed by the impious, the dissolute and the immoral. Think not that men who acknowledge not the providence of God nor regard His laws will be uncorrupt in office, firm in defense of the righteous cause against the oppressor, or resolutly oppose the torrent of iniquity. . . . Watch over your liberties and privileges – civil and religious – with a careful eye.
[Matthias Burnett, Pastor of the First Baptist Church in Norwalk, An Election Sermon, Preached at Hartford, on the Day of the Anniversary Election, May 12, 1803 (Hartford: Printed by Hudson & Goodwin, 1803), pp. 27-28)