Software

Looking for software that won’t break the bank?  Some free options to the expensive big boys?  So this is not my typical type of post but it is something to look at.  I have used some of these but not all of these,   I have looked for options to some of the big boys and found a few of these very helpful and I hope you do to.

Instead of MS Office, try LibreOffice or OpenOffice
Instead of Microsoft Publisher or Adobe InDesign, try Scribus
Instead of Microsoft Outlook try Mozilla’s Thunderbird use the Lightning extension to add calendar feature.
Instead of Intuit’s Quicken and QuickBooks Pro try AceMoney Lite or GnuCash
Instead of Adobe Photoshop try GIMP, Artweaver or MyPaint, Inkscape, or Blender.
For Video editors try Live Movie Maker
Instead of Internet Explorer try Chrome or Firefox
Instead of Windows Media Player try VLC
Instead of iTunes try DoubleTwist
Instead of Microsoft Project try ProjectLibre

God’s Word, is it enough

So I was reading an article recently on the heresy of worship entertainment:
The heresy of worshiptainment
http://mikelivingstone.com/2014/12/17/the-heresy-of-worshiptainment/

There were a couple of quotes I wanted to share:
“Tozer said: “Christ calls men to carry a cross; we call them to have fun in His name.””
““People are hungry for the Word. There’s really nothing special or creative about it. It’s just the study of the Word …. The Word itself does the work!””

So I was thinking, how true is this article, how much are we drawn to a church for the purpose of having ourselves entertained, rather than mainly for the Word of God?

Would we still go if the air conditioning went out, and if we did how much would we complain?

What would we go through to hear the Word of God?  Christians are being killed around the world for their commitment to the Word of God, are you willing to put yourself at risk?

I look at our city and think, maybe 20% are in church on any Sunday, but is that a good reflection of commitment to God’s Word?   I also wonder if those in church, the 20%, are really there for “God’s Word” or just to be entertained.  How much are we studying the Word, or are we there just to socialize and sing a few songs and here a short sermon and tick it off as doing our good deed for the week?

It is a challenge for me!  There are times where I feel like I don’t get God’s Word in church that it is all about entertaining the masses and not offending anyone.   There is a sense that the word is “Proclaimed” but not to much as not to offend.  I think meany leave the church doors dry and thirsty for the Word of God that they did not get.

When the church I attend was challenged with monthly communion and Easter happening on the same day, they moved communion so as not to offend.  Is this a symptom as described in the article?  I do not know but I think it falls in the “lets not offend” category.

I struggle with what I can do about it, I am not in church leadership but does that mean there is nothing I can do?  Can I be the won to make change, and if so HOW?  I do not have good answers but I know there is more that can, and should, be done.

Love One Another

From the Christan Standard Sunday School Lesson

Lesson for April 12, 2015: Love One Another (1 John 3:11-24)

This treatment of the International Sunday School Lesson is written by Sam E. Stone, former editor of CHRISTIAN STANDARD. It is published in the April 5 issue of The Lookout magazine, and is also available online at www.lookoutmag.com.
_____

By Sam E. Stone

Love is the hallmark of God’s community. It is also the theme of the apostle John’s epistles. The first-century believers to whom John wrote received tremendous encouragement as well as great challenge from his inspired words.

Love as Action | 1 John 3:11-18

In the verses just before our printed text, John affirmed the greatness of the Father’s love for his children: “Now we are children of God and what we will be has not yet been made known” (v. 2). Christians have a unique relationship with the heavenly Father. Being like him is essential as we respond to his commands. From the beginning we are taught to love one another. After applying the test of righteousness (vv. 3-9), John mentioned again the test of love.

Do not be like Cain. Scripture records that Cain killed his brother Abel because his own actions were evil and his brother’s were righteous. John cited Genesis 4:8 to explain the reason for Cain’s action. (See also Hebrews 11:4.) All evil begins in the heart (Matthew 15:18-20).

For the follower of Christ, it should not be surprising when he is hated by those in the world. The wicked cannot abide those who are righteous (John 15:18-25; 17:14). Peter offered similar counsel (1 Peter 4:12-19). Obedient love is the dividing line. We know we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. If a person does not love others, he remains in death. Love is the preeminent Christian virtue, listed first with the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22, 23). Jesus’ love is our supreme example. If one hates his brother or sister, he is a murderer. Such a person does not have eternal life in him, as John had previously stated in his letter (1 John 2:9, 10).

Jesus is our supreme example in loving one another. Like him, we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters (John 3:16; 10:11, 17, 18; Philippians 2:5-8; 1 Peter 2:19-23). John cited Cain as the supreme example of hate, but presented Christ as the supreme example of love. While Cain’s hatred resulted in death, Christ’s love brought life.

Love is shown by how we use our material possessions. If one sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? We may not be called upon to die physically for others, but we will certainly have opportunities to help them as we live (James 2:15, 16). We put feet on our love when we assist others. Deeds, not words, are the real test of love.

Love as Truth | 1 John 3:19-24

The way to confirm that we belong to the truth is when our hearts are found at rest in God’s presence. God is greater than our hearts. He knows everything. The devil accuses us even when we are not guilty (Revelation 12:10). Despite our inadequacies and mistakes, however, we can still put our trust in the all-knowing and merciful God (Psalm 103).

John R. W. Stott said, “The inner voice is not to overcome us. We are rather to assure our hearts before him, that is, we must be able to do so in the sight of God.” Although we are not sinless, by God’s grace we can come into his presence because of Christ (Hebrews 4:16). As Westcott put it, “The fruit of love is confidence.”

John then tied together these two obligations: Believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ and love one another as he commanded us. These two statements summarize the Lord’s will for his children. If we obey his commands, he lives in us. This is confirmed by the Spirit he gave us. Obedient trust in Jesus brings the presence of his Spirit into the life of each believer (Acts 2:38; John 14:23, 24). He empowers us to live a holy life and to love others (Galatians 5:16).

Stott concluded, “With this verse John unites the various strands which he has been unfolding separately in these first three chapters of his Epistle. No one may dare to claim that he abides in Christ and Christ in him unless he is obedient to the three fundamental commandments which John has been expounding, which are belief in Christ, love for the brethren and moral righteousness.”

________

*Lesson based on International Sunday School Lesson, © 2009, by the Lesson Committee. Scripture quotations are from the New International Version ©2011, unless otherwise indicated.
Lesson From:
http://christianstandard.com/2015/04/lesson-for-april-12-2015-love-one-another-1-john-311-24/

marriage

Watched a few videos on YouTube recently on marriage.  Some funny but great advice.

Mark Gungor Tale of Two Brains Full
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=814eR5K7KD8

The Key to An Incredible Sex – Mark Gungor
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lrzwaOVJgOs

The No.1 Key to an Incredible Sex – Mark Gungor
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=38TTWDUhQSE

 

They all come from

http://shopping.laughyourway.com/
Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage DVD captures all the fun and facts of Mark Gungor’s view on life, love, and marriage.

You will experience all the facts and side-splitting fun of Mark’s look at life, love and marriage including:

The Tale of Two Brains (session 1-73 min, session 2-55 min) – laugh till you hurt as Mark explains what he calls “the laws of relational physics” – how men and women are wired differently and why.

Why Does He/She Do That?(45 min) – through a tool called the Flag Page, Mark is able to show husbands and wives a new way to discover what makes their spouse tick.

The #1 Key to Incredible Sex (session 1-39 min, session 2-35 min) – this is it…the “yo mama” session you’ve been waiting for. Mark goes through the five steps couples need to know to experience incredible, mind blowing, married sex…don’t miss it!

How to Stay Married and Not Kill Anyone (35 min) – through this session, viewers will discover the power of forgiveness in their marriage…or what Mark likes to call, “The Reset Button”.

FAQs with Mark (60 min) – Mark answering frequently asked questions on marriage on the bonus DVD.

Ephesians 1:13-14

So in the sermon I listened to recently the referenced we were sealed in Christ with the Spirit and gave the reference to Ephesians 1:13-14.  I wanted to see what it said, how it was using the reference and if it was a good tie in.  I was impressed with the overtone of how we are sealed with the Spirit in Christ.  How we can know we are saved if we are sealed.  And what was the seal, or when did we get the seal?

Back to:
So you will see I believe a saved person is one who has heard the Word of God, the Gospel (Good News), Believed it’s message, Repented of his past actions – a sinful life, Confessed to God his sins and been Baptized to receive forgiveness and the gift of the Holy Spirit. The believer must then grow in Christ, drawing near to God through his life.

Or to put it another way:
‘”By grace” shows that grace is the basis of salvation. “Through faith” speaks of the means by which it is received. “In baptism” indicates the time when it is received. “For good works” makes it clear that the good works of the Christian life are not the basis or means but the result of being saved.’

I also thought this might help, from “The College Press NIV Commentary: Galatians & Ephesians”.  Notice in particular the line “One must conclude that either half of the above verses are in error, or that baptism and faith are meant to go together. the promised Holy Spirit, ” Read through this and think about how you are “sealed” into Christ and “when” you are sealed into Christ!

– – –

Ephesians 1:13-14

1:13 And you also were included in Christ 

“You also” is a dominant theme of Ephesians. The Gentiles were formerly excluded, but are now part of God’s family (2:11-22). They are fellow members of the body (3:6) bound together in the unity of the Spirit (4:3). when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. 

When Paul taught daily in the lecture hall of Tyrannus, Luke reports that “all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord” (Acts 19:10). The Gentiles were not introduced to God by an accident of birth, but by hearing the good news about Jesus. Paul knows this message to be the “word of truth,” the means by which men are saved. It is called the truth “because it reveals man’s true condition, proclaims and advocates the only true way of escape, and admonishes saved sinners to show true gratitude in their lives.”E1-32 Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, 

Those who heard, believed. This was not merely a mental acceptance of a theological proposition. It was putting their trust and commitment in Christ. In response to their decision, God marked them with an official seal. This seal, the presence of the Holy Spirit, proved they belonged to God.E1-33 To seal (σφραγίζω, sphragizō), as with the brand marking the ownership of cattle and slaves,E1-34 had nothing to do with preservation.

While the coming of the Holy Spirit is sometimes connected with baptism in Scripture (Acts 2:38-39; 5:32; 1 Cor 12:13), other passages base his coming on our faith. (In addition to this verse, see Acts 19:2; Gal 3:2, 14; Eph 3:17). One must conclude that either half of the above verses are in error, or that baptism and faith are meant to go together. the promised Holy Spirit, 

As Peter reminded his Jewish hearers at Pentecost (Acts 2:17), God had promised a time when he would “pour out his Spirit on all flesh” (both Jew and Gentile).

As Peter reminded the Jewish believers at the Jerusalem Conference, the coming of the Spirit on Cornelius was proof that the centurion had been accepted by God.E1-35 While that event was special and spectacular, all believers have the confirming presence of the Spirit in their lives.

1:14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance 

The “deposit” (ἀρραβών, arrabōn, “earnest money”) which guarantees our inheritance is like the down payment that is made on a real estate transaction. In the early days of trade it was “a commercial word denoting a pledge—some object handed over by a buyer to a seller until the purchase price was paid in full.”E1-36 The arrabōn guarantees that a person is in earnest about his intentions. Often the deposit is a first installment of similar payments to be made in the future.E1-37 The presence of the Spirit is thus a foretaste of heaven!

Also interesting is the fact that arrabōn is the word in modern Greek for an engagement ring.E1-38 It is a lovely parallel that the church, the bride of Christ, should now wear the token of his promise. We have this guarantee of heaven, that we shall share in the wedding feast of the Lamb (Rev 19:7-9). until the redemption of those who are God’s possession 

Literally, “unto the redemption of the possession.” While the rsv has “until we acquire possession of it,” the niv and nasb focus on God redeeming and possessing his people. God’s Spirit in our lives is thus God’s promise that he will finally claim us for his own and take us home to heaven. —to the praise of his glory.

How we should praise God for his spiritual blessings! This phrase, now proclaimed for the third time, echoes the words of God in Isaiah 43:20-21,

…my people, my chosen,
the people I formed for myself
that they may proclaim my praise.

The College Press NIV Commentary: Galatians & Ephesians

 

Reflection

For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
1 Corinthians 13:12

Another new year!  Time to reflect back on the past and look forward to the future.

Reflections of the past bring both joy and sadness.  Joy in accomplishments and sadness in missed opportunities.  Could I have done things better?  Could I have followed God with more passion and desire?  Could I ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ (Luke 10:27)?  It saddens me to say YES, I could have done better.

But there is great Joy in the Grace of God.  He died not because we are perfect and do everything right, but precisely because we are not!  It took me a long time to realize this, that he died not because I deserved it but exactly because I did not and could never be that good.  This is why he died. GRACE!  It brings tears to my eyes when I think about the day this idea finally settled into my brain and His Grace saved me!

There are some who think God gives up on you after a certain point, this is not true!  He will peruse you until the very last possible moment, He loves you and wants to spend eternity with you!  He gives us the choice though, we can choose to accept Him or reject Him.  We can not however blame him if we choose to reject him, the blame rest on us.  He will do all he can to convince us he loves us but if someone rejects this idea then He will allow them to do so.

It is a sad truth that many will reject him and spend eternity without him.  They will curse him and accuse him of being unfair when in reality it is our choice, one He has given to us.  So as the new year dawns and we reflect on the past the question is: Is Jesus your Lord and Savior?  If not why not?  He stands at the door knocking, just waiting for you to answer and let him in.  The choice is yours, what will you do.

If Jesus is your savior what will you do this year to show others He is Lord of your life?

Reflections, past, present, and FUTURE.  What will you do?

 

Read!

Read!  With one word you project a lot of information.  Read!  Read what you might say.  Well read lots of different items though the year, expand your horizons in what you know, learn!

But most of all read Gods Word the Bible.  Today is January 1st, the day of new things, new year, new thoughts on what to accomplish.  So why not start a Bible reading plan.  There are many available on the internet and through bible apps.  Read His Word!!!
52 week plan
http://www.bible-reading.com/bible-plan.html

Bible Gateway Reading Plans
https://www.biblegateway.com/reading-plans/?version=NIV

Navigators
http://www.navigators.org/Tools/Bible%20Study%20Resources/Tools/The%20Bible%20Reading%20Plans

Find one and start!

Are you Different?

Are you different? Do those around you notice that you are different than those in the world?

God’s Razor of Judgment
7 “Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: You have been more unruly than the nations around you and have not followed my decrees or kept my laws. You have not even conformed to the standards of the nations around you.
8 “Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I myself am against you, Jerusalem, and I will inflict punishment on you in the sight of the nations.
Ezekiel 5:7-8 (NIV)

God was Judging Israel for not being different than those around them, in fact this implies they were worse than those around them.  He was going to judge them and call accounts due.

Harsh, maybe but he is a God who gives us the choice to follow him, if we choose not to then yes there are consequences to be met.  We are responsible for what we do, not someone else.

I have seen studies that show “sin” rates are no different in the “church” than outside the church.  This is used in some cases to show the ineffectiveness of the church and reasons not to be part of the church.  Oh how we have failed God when we are like this.  We claim to be followers of Christ then our actions seem to indicate otherwise.  I am not saying we should be without sin, even God does not say that.  What there needs to be though is an obvious difference between those who follow God and those who do not.

Part of this comes from those who discount the Word of God and yet at the same time say they are “Christians”, those who openly practice sins listed in the Bible with no intent of changing and with an actual attitude that they are OK.

19 The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Galatians 5:19-21 (NIV)

Many groups practice such openly and with approval as this is good, and at the same time profess to be followers of Christ.  Is this right?  Certainly not!

It is not that we are without sin, but let us not openly say sin is ok, let us not say we can do such an such because the passage no longer applies because of such and such.

God’s word is His word, it does not change.  Sin is sin and all have sinned, all still sin.  It is our attitude towards sin that matters.  Do we embrace it and say this is good or do we regret sin and repent of it.  Do we seek self or do we seek God.

Examine yourself to see where you fall.  If you need to repent and see the face of forgiveness in God.  If you are part of a christian group who supports sin, leave.  Find a group who believes every word of the bible is truth, God’s word given to us such that we can follow him.

Pray for God’s forgiveness and read his word every day to learn what He would have you do.  Try to walk in his steps, seeking his will over your own.  It won’t happen over night but you will change if you seek him.  He is calling, what is your answer?

 

A Watchman

Ezekiel Is a Watchman
16 Now it came to pass at the end of seven days that the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 17 “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore hear a word from My mouth, and give them warning from Me: 18 When I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life, that same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand. 19 Yet, if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul.
20 “Again, when a righteous man turns from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and I lay a stumbling block before him, he shall die; because you did not give him warning, he shall die in his sin, and his righteousness which he has done shall not be remembered; but his blood I will require at your hand. 21 Nevertheless if you warn the righteous man that the righteous should not sin, and he does not sin, he shall surely live because he took warning; also you will have delivered your soul.”
Ezekiel 3:16-21

Ezekiel was charged by God to go into the world and proclaim the message of God.  He was told that if he did not the blood of the lost would be on him.  What a responsibility was placed on this prophet!  At times I wonder how could God place the eternal life of someone else on one person?

If you read carefully He is not placing the eternal life of someone on the prophet, he is placing the responsibility of warning the others on the prophet.  If they hear and repent is up to them but the blood is no longer on the prophet.  This is still an awesome responsibility to be placed on an individual.

One might say, well that was great for a prophet, but God does not have such a person today that he places such responsibility on.

NOT SO FAST!  God has given all of those who follow Him this responsibility, to warn others, to go out and preach his word.  Could we be responsible for those who do not believe, NO, but we can be responsible for those who do not hear!

The Great Commission
14 Later He appeared to the eleven as they sat at the table; and He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen. 15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.
Mark 16:14-16

Jesus gives his followers the same responsibility that God gave Ezekiel, GO and tell the world, if they hear and obey (believes and is baptized) they will be saved and if they do not believe they are lost.  But if we do not go and tell the world then I think we must look at what God told Ezekiel, the blood of the lost will be on our hands for not going and telling about God.

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;
1 Peter 3:15 (NKJV)

Are you ready to give an answer, are you GOING into the world to tell people about the Gospel of Jesus Christ, Lord and Savior of the world?  Are you moving out of your comfort zone to reach out to those who have not heard the Gospel message?  Pray for those around you and pray for ways you can reach out to those who need to hear the Word of the Lord.  Pray for the lost, then reach out to them with the warnings God gives about the lost.  Be the feet and message of God.

Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter:
Fear God and keep His commandments,
For this is man’s all.
Ecclesiastes 12:13 (NKJV)

Effective Keys to Prayer

Years ago I attended several Christian Men’s Network (CMN) events led by Edwin Louis Cole. I first heard Dr Cole speak at a Promise Keepers event. His book Maximized Manhood had a powerful effect on the Men’s movement.

One item that came out of CMN was 9 Keys to Effective Prayer. Below is from a link I found of the list put out by his son Paul.

9 Effective Keys to Productive Prayer
1. CONFESS ALL KNOWN SIN FROM YOUR LIFE. Psalm 66:18 If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear. I Jn 1:8,9 8If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
2. ADMIT NEED OF THE HOLY SPIRIT TO DIRECT YOUR PRAYER. Romans 8:26 Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
3. DIE TO YOUR OWN IMAGINATIONS, DESIRES, BURDENS. Proverbs 3:5 5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. Isaiah 55:8,9 8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD. 9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.”
4. ASK GOD TO FILL YOU WITH HIS HOLY SPIRIT. Ephesians 5:17-20 17 Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, 20 giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ
5. PRAISE GOD IN FAITH FOR THE PRAYER TIME YOU ARE ENTERING. Psalm 100:4,5 4 Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. 5 For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations.
6. DEAL AGGRESSIVELY WITH THE ENEMY. James 4:7,8 7 Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
7. WAIT EXPECTANTLY FOR WHAT GOD BRINGS TO YOUR MIND. John 10:27,28 27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. 28 And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.
8. CONFIRM PRAYER WITH THE WORD. Psalm 119:105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
9. PRAISE GOD FOR HIS MARVELOUS WORK IN YOUR LIFE. Romans 11:36 For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen. Psalm 92:1,2 1 It is good to give thanks to the LORD, and to sing praises to Your name, O Most High; 2 To declare Your lovingkindness in the morning, and Your faithfulness every night

These are some favorite scriptures relating to prayer…
Philippians 4:6,7 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Mark 11:24 Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when you pray… *24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. *24 That’s why I urge you to pray for absolutely everything, ranging from small to large.
Deuteronomy 20:1-4 1 When you go to war against your enemies and see horses and chariots and an army greater than yours, do not be afraid of them, because the LORD your God, who brought you up out of Egypt, will be with you. 2 When you are about to go into battle, the priest shall come forward and address the army. 3 He shall say: “Hear, O Israel, today you are going into battle against your enemies. Do not be fainthearted or afraid; do not be terrified or give way to panic before them. 4 For the LORD your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory.”
Paul L. Cole President CMN Worldwide

So as you consider prayer, consider these 9 keys and how they may impact your prayer.