Don’t Miss Out On God’s Plans & Promises!

The story of the twelve spies in Numbers 13-14 is one of the more popular stories from the Old Testament we may usually hear in church.  In Numbers 13:30-32 (NASB), we read: Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, “We should by all means go up and take possession of it, for we will surely overcome it.” 31 But the men who had gone up with him said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are too strong for us.” 32 So they gave out to the sons of Israel a bad report of the land…”

 

As we look over some details on this story of doubt and faith, we can draw lessons to apply in life.

 

Valid Concerns

From verses 1-17 of chapter 13, we see God commanding Moses to send out twelve spies (one chosen from each tribe) to spy out the promised land.  As Moses sent them, he instructs them in verses 18-20 to:

  • check out what kind of people there were and how many they were (v.18),
  • check out what visible prospects there were in the land (v.19-20),
  • check out what provisions were readily available (v.20), and
  • check out what possible problems they might face when they tried to conquer (v.19).

 

All of these concerns were valid. To know what kind of oppositions to face and address and what opportunities are foreseeable and available are legitimate concerns for anyone making a plan of action for whatever endeavor.

 

Different Perspectives

As the mission of the twelve spies ended and they have gone back to report, the Israelites then faced two conflicting conclusions. All twelve spies agreed that the land was rich and full of opportunities but ten spies believed it was impossible for them to conquer, overwhelmed by the size, strength, and number of the opposition along with the difficulty of the fortifications they will need to deal with (13:28-29, 31-33).  Only two of the spies (Caleb and Joshua) were confident that God will deliver on His promise to them (13:30; 14:6-9).

 

Ten spies strongly doubted their chances because they focused on their own natural abilities. Joshua and Caleb knew they could’ve conquered right then because they believed in God’s supernatural assistance.

 

Consequences of Doubt

When you doubt you miss out! But in this story, we might as well say, “when you chicken out you miss out!”

 

The Israelites’ rejection of God (another way to understand the word “spurn” in 14:11) resulted in everyone from that generation (except Caleb and Joshua) not being able to claim for themselves what God had promised them as a nation (14:22-23, 29-30).   Entering the promised land was a privilege they could’ve experienced right then if they had only believed God.

 

Consequences Worsen

After the ten spies were judged (14:36-37), the Israelites then decide to supposedly “follow” God’s first command by disregarding the judgment God had placed upon them.  Their sudden effort to conquer the land against God’s will resulted in their utter defeat (14:39-45).

 

This part of the story is a reminder for Christians who try to follow God by their own terms.  No amount of sacrifice that does not follow God’s designed path or process can ever make up for continued disobedience.  God desires simple, plain obedience to what He commands us to do (1 Samuel 15:22).

 

Faith Rewarded

The ten believe they couldn’t because they didn’t have the ability. Joshua and Caleb knew also they couldn’t that’s why they believed in God who had all the ability (14:8-9).  Joshua and Caleb believed in God and trusted His promise and they were rewarded graciously (14:24, 30, 38).

 

Our fears of taking steps of faith (like the ten spies) is a reflection of how much we do not know God and how we’ve neglected the kind of relationship He desires of us.

 

Let’s Ponder

Remember, God’s guidance and His call for obedience will always lead us to where His grace abounds.  Obedience is a step of faith that looks to God for confidence and banks on Who He is. Don’t miss out on what God has planned for you and what

Wikipedia

Is Wikipedia Biased Against Christian Content?

From its home page, Wikipedia describes its site as “the free encyclopedia [that] anyone can edit”. On a self-described page of what it is and what it is not, Wikipedia claims that it is not censored. For content guidelines, there are only 3:

  1. Content must be neutral in form. It must not take sides, rather, it should explain sides fairly and without editorial bias.
  2. Content must not be original research. It should be attributable to an existing source or reference material.
  3. Content must be verifiable. It must be verifiable from a reliable, published source. The information presented must not be made up.

 

Reading all these causes us to believe that Wikipedia is an unbiased platform. Indeed, you may come across Wiki pages that need updating and correcting. But as a whole, the site seems to be an open resource site that makes room for all kinds of useful and relevant information, especially such that are Christian in nature or theme.

 

Then we come across news of a Christian page being taken down and we start to wonder how often Wikipedia removes Christian pages. More importantly, why? Is there unfairness in the upholding of standards or policies?

Let’s cite one Wikipedia page about Gunter Bechly. The original page written in German is up and online still. However, the English translation looks to have been erased. Gunter Bechly is a reputable paleontologist and entomologist. He was once an atheist and a supporter of Richard Dawkins. But, comtinued studies will open his eyes towards a strong belief in intelligent design. A complete reading on the German Wikipedia page will show you that the entry is purely biographical. There is no bias towards a certain viewpoint. The facts are verifiable and there is no original research presented. So, why isn’t an actual English page available for access?

Let’s cite three more Wikipedia pages. We can find a Wikipedia page that talks about “Lists of Atheists”. We can also find a Wikipedia page that talks about “List of Atheists in Politics and in Law” But, check out a Wikipedia page that talks about “Christian Wikipedians” and you’ll only read this disclosure there: “This page is being considered for deletion”.

 

It is true that as anyone can just edit Wikipedia, anyone can just report a page for violation. But when it comes to deciding to finally delete a page, who makes the decision? And, are the same standards applied on both Christian and non-Christian content? We won’t know for sure. We can only maintain our hopes and prayers for equal opportunity and fairness for Christianity, online.

Have Church While Cooking Your Sunday Roast

The digital age is great, but has it taken over? In this blog, I discuss whether it’s a positive thing for the Church and Christian organisations to go digital.

So, I attended the Premier Digital Conference on Saturday 3rd November in London. For those of you who are not familiar with this event, its an event to help the Christian community take advantage of all the opportunities brought about by our digital age. Their aim is to inspire with what is possible, equip with new ideas and skills and connect you with people and organisations that can help you achieve your aims.

As you can imagine, as a virtual ministry assistant, this was an amazing event for me, and it proved to be just that.

To me, this event really brought to question, whether Churches, and Christian businesses were now becoming in tune with the digital age.

Why do Christian organisations, more specifically, Churches, find it so difficult to move with the times and become more digital / virtual?

Is it because Christianity is all about community, communication, being present with one another?

In todays age, we now have Church apps where you can download your Church sermon, or Church newsletter; Bible verses posted on Facebook or Instagram, view Church sermons from YouTube while on the go. We have so many online Churches. A lot of Churches aspire to get their Church online. So, do less people now physically attend Church now that there are so many online Churches? You could now literally have Church while cooking your Sunday roast! Will it eventually get to a point where there will be no physical Churches, and everyone will be at home in their families, or worse, on their own listening to their Church sermon online?

 Of course, the flip side of this is that tens of thousands of people can easily hear the word of God. People who may not have usually attended Church can just tune in to hear what its all about. People who are house bound can experience Church in their homes.

As a virtual assistant, Im all for the digital age. Most of my work and interactions with Churches, pastors, Church leaders are done digitally, and it works well. But it is very slow to catch on. In times of such great change, it is important to take the positives of the digital age. We can reach so many people in different cities, countries and even continents. We can work and bring together a vast amount of different ideas from different cultures and generations.

Nevertheless, we must not lose our human connections. We must not forget what Christianity is about. Loving your neighbour, helping and supporting each other and working together.

As a Christian community, we must be known to not only love Jesus Christ, but to also love one another, and to live in fellowship with one another. When the world sees this, our light will shine before others, that they may see our good deeds and glorify our Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:16)

 We need to find a happy medium where we have an option to connect virtually and digitally, but also not loose touch of our human contact.

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The Son of God?

The Son of God?

As Christians we always talk about Jesus being the Son of God but I dont think that we do a good job of helping others understand what this means, in fact, I have known many Christians who struggle to articulate the truth that Jesus is the Son of God. For this reason, I want to take a moment and clarify this concept in order to add a layer of depth to our faith. I will do so very quickly so as not to complicate an already difficult topic.

The short and sweet of it is this: The phrase Son of God or Gods One and Only Son is not referring to Jesus being a child of God as a result of his sexual interaction with a spiritual female in heaven. It is important to know that our Mormon friends believe this to be case, which is different from Evangelical Christianity and its belief that Jesus Christ is completely equal with the Father and that they have always existed together as One. Jesus may have (certainly was) been born on earth from a human woman, but he was never born in heaven–He just was. The truth is that it means Jesus is the perfect mirror reflection of God the Father. When we see Jesus we see God the Father and we see the Holy Spirit. This is the relationship that is described. The verse that does the best job in clarifying the topic is this:

Hebrews 1:3 The Sonisthe radianceof Godsgloryandthe exact expressionof Hisnature,sustainingallthings by Hispowerfulword.After makingpurificationfor sins,He sat downatthe right handof theMajestyonhigh.

When you read the Gospel of John it becomes very evident that the Jews, who stated that they believed in God the Father, truly did not believe in the One true God because they did not believe that Jesus was equal with Him. When they saw Jesus they did not see God; they saw only a man (The Son of Man). But those who believe in the One true God see the Father when they see Jesus.

We see the conflict in John 10:31-33, which reads:

Again the Jews picked up rocks to stone Him. Jesus replied, I have shown you many good works from the Father. Which of these works are you stoning Me for?We arent stoning You for a good work, the Jews answered, but for blasphemy, because Youbeing a manmake Yourself God.

What they refused to believe was that they were looking at the image of Father God when they looked upon the person of Jesus of Christ. It would have been OK for Jesus to claim to be a prophet, or even a perfect human being perhaps, but not God in Flesh. Or some religions are OK if you believe that Jesus is literally a son of God, one of many gods, but not equal with God in every way.

Give and Get More this Christmas Season

Give and Get More this Christmas Season

The holiday season is when most people spend and do a lot. From statistics and survey results, we know that this is a global trend. Summary data just from 8 countries covering a 10-year period revealed the top spot belonging to Canada with the U.S. taking second place.

December is the biggest month of shopping. People are buying stuff. People are getting stuff. People are going places. People are cleaning up, cooking up, setting-up parties, and more. Its busy, busy, busy. Its things, things, things. Its activities, activities, activities. The Christian family (especially the parents) needs to be careful not to allow themselves to be molded into this kind of Christmas culture. Young ones need to grow with a proper understanding of the meaning of Christmas. They must grow with more meaningful experiences and memories of spending Christmas and New Year holidays.

So, how can we give and get more during the Christmas Season?

  1. Instead of buying for people, do more for them. Let help be your gift. That will be more memorable. Ask friends and family who are nearby (and those at home), What can I do for you this Christmas? and let that be your gift. Maybe mow someones lawn or do some laundry and clean-up. Babysit kids or pets so a couple can go out on an unhurried date.
  2. Prioritize meaning and purpose over price and aesthetics. Give better gifts. These dont need to be expensive. People dont need more mugs, shirts, or shoes. How about short meditational books that give spiritual benefit? How about worship music CDs? How about a simple cup of coffee and meaningful chat?
  3. Prioritize time together with your most important relationships. Parties and meetings will be everywhere but time with your spouse, kids, siblings, and parents are most important. You wont be together forever. Build stronger relationships with them while you can. Put time towards improving primary relationships.
  4. Choose simple over effort-consuming plans. Its nice to plan for Christmas activities. Its nice to want the best time for your family. Many times though, preparations suck the life out of you. By the time you are able to sit down and eat, no one is in the mood. Its because tempers were lost and levels of frustration are high. Someone was late. Some food wasnt cooked enough (or cooked too much). Think how much better it would be to just have minimal cooking and more enjoyment. Save your energy. Save your focus and joy. Eliminate the unnecessary tasks and go straight down to the business of just enjoying time together.
  5. Worship and remain worshipful. Christmas is not a once-a-year thing. It happened once but it changed everything for you and me. Hes done great things for us and Hes still accomplishing great things for us, in us, and through us today. Include Him in the festivities. Make time to be still in His presence. Worship as a family. Worship in solitude.

Steer your heart and mind away from the current trend of materialism. Pursue intangible and more meaningful ways to celebrate the birth of Christ. That is how you give and get more this Christmas season.