Feature Friday — Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Challenge

Good morning readers! Today is Feature Friday. Today we are going to be featuring a blog post from Brian Cromer. Brian is a friend of mine and also the Student Pastor at NorthChurch.tv. His Blog is BrianCromer.com. Below is the  post on his blog from Feb. 15, 2010.

(This blog post was originally posted on February 18,2009 )

I have subscribed to Sports Illustrated for years. As a subscriber to Sports Illustrated, the annual Swimsuit Edition (first published in 1964) gets sent to my house every February.

Here’s the cool part…

I have not seen one picture or one article from the Swimsuit Edition in years. Every year my incredible wife gets that particular issue, rolls her eyes at the super models who are not wearing their swimsuits, and immediately throws the issue in the garbage.

My 2010 issue came on Friday. It went in the trash on Friday and I never knew it came to the house.

I love that she does this for me. The raw, honest truth is that I probably do not have the strength to do it myself. Granted, I might throw it away but not without first taking a peak. (I care here you thinking “but you’re a minister!” Yeah, you are right, I am a honest and real minister.) I cherish the fact that my wife cares about my purity enough to help me succeed. She gets it. She makes me a better person. She makes me a better follower of Jesus.

Some people might think “who cares?” or “what’s the big deal?”

Here the truth…

I know I am not missing anything. My eyes have better things to look at. I have better thoughts to think about. I got a hottie that I am madly in love with and who loves me back. Who needs the Swimsuit Edition? I know I don’t.

________________________

Here’s the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Challenge…

Follow my wife’s lead. If you get the Swimsuit Edition, throw it away. If your husband/son/brother/friend gets the Swimsuit Edition, take the initiative and throw it away for him (like me, he probably doesn’t have the strength to do it himself).

You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.” – Jesus in Matthew 5:27-29 (NIV)

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I hope you like today’s Feature Friday. Go check out more at Brian’s blog. I know you will enjoy what you read.

Until next time readers, God Bless!

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Scripture Thursday– Romans 12:9

Morning readers! Today is Scripture Thursday! Today we are going to look at a verse in Romans.

Romans 12:9

Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. (NLT)

Now let’s look at it in different translations. I think it is interesting sometimes to do that, because the translation can say something different.

(ASV) Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.

(The Message) Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good.

(KJV) Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good

Love is really the answer, no matter how you say it. Don’t pretend to love someone. Love them as Christ would.

Until next time readers, God Bless!

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News Wednesday — Mark of the Beast

Hello readers! Today is News Wednesday, and what an important article I have to share with you. Ever heard of the Mark of the Beast?? Click here. The Bible verse that is normally referenced the most when the Mark of the Beast is mentioned is as follows:

“If anyone worships the beast and his image and receives his mark on the forehead or on the hand, he, too, will drink of the wine of God’s fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath.”Revelation 14:9,10

I found an article referring it the Mark of the Beast and Virginia lawmakers that I found interesting. The following is taken from here.

Human microchips seen by some in Virginia House as device of antichrist

By Fredrick Kunkle and Rosalind S. Helderman

Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, February 10, 2010

RICHMOND, FEB. 9 — The House of Delegates is scheduled to vote Wednesday on a bill that would protect Virginians from attempts by employers or insurance companies to implant microchips in their bodies against their will.

It might also save humanity from the antichrist, some supporters think.

Del. Mark L. Cole (R-Fredericksburg) the bill’s sponsor, said that privacy issues are the chief concern behind his attempt to criminalize the involuntary implantation of microchips. But he also said he shared concerns that the devices could someday be used as the “mark of the beast” described in the Book of Revelation.

“My understanding — I’m not a theologian — but there’s a prophecy in the Bible that says you’ll have to receive a mark, or you can neither buy nor sell things in end times,” Cole said. “Some people think these computer chips might be that mark.”

Cole said that the growing use of microchips could allow employers, insurers or the government to track people against their will and that implanting a foreign object into a human being could also have adverse health effects.

“I just think you should have the right to control your own body,” Cole said.

The religious overtones have cast the debate into a realm that has made even some supporters uneasy and caused opponents to mock the bill for legislating the apocalypse. Del. Robert H. Brink (D-Arlington) said on the House floor that he did not find many voters demanding microchip legislation when he was campaigning last fall: “I didn’t hear anything about the danger of asteroids striking the Earth, about the threat posed by giant alligators in our cities’ sewer systems or about the menace of forced implantation of microchips in human beings.”

Microchips, which use radio frequency identification, have been used in pets to identify and track them. Proponents suggest that such chips could be invaluable in making people’s medical records portable and secure and in helping to identify and find missing children. Others have urged they be used with Alzheimer’s disease patients.

But the growing use of microchips has collided with the Book of Revelation. The biblical passage in question is in Chapter 13 and describes the rise of a satanic figure known as “the Beast”: “He causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.”

David Neff, editor of the magazine Christianity Today, said that some fundamentalist Christians believe that bar codes and implanted microchips could be used by a totalitarian government to control commerce — a sign of the coming end of the world.

“This is part of a larger attempt to constantly read current history in the light of the symbolic language of the Book of Revelation,” he said.

That book has been sifted for clues to contemporary events almost since the ink on the parchment dried, and Caesar, Nero, Napoleon, Hitler and some of history’s other controversial one-namers have been identified as possible antichrists. Now, it’s President Obama’s turn, as tea partyers and others warn of federal intrusions into the debate over health-care reform.

Now, the book is giving new life to worries about microchips.

Such fears seemed futuristic until veterinarians began implanting microchips in pets in the 1990s and especially after a Delray Beach, Fla.-based company, VeriChip, introduced an implantable FDA-approved chip in 2001 that could store a person’s medical records.

A voluntary initiative by the federal government to control disease outbreaks by tracking livestock using microchips and 15-digit numbers has also whipped up fears of government intrusion in some farming communities.

“I think it’s kind of a lot of things. It’s everything from civil liberties to privacy rights to the mark of the beast,” said Katherine Albrecht, a nationally syndicated radio host who co-wrote “Spychips,” a book about corporations’ use of microchips and other potentially invasive technologies.

Several states, including Wisconsin, have approved bans such as the one Virginia is proposing, and the Georgia Senate passed a similar bill last week.

Virginia Del. Charles W. Carrico Sr. (R-Grayson) said that he would probably back the bill because his rural community is leery of government intrusions. But Carrico said he also gives credence to biblical teachings on the importance of being vigilant against an antichrist.

“As a Christian, I believe there is a time that Christ will come back to receive his people home, and that’s just the basis of what the Bible shows, and that there will be an antichrist that arises during that time, and those that remain, to buy or sell anything, they will have to take on this mark,” Carrico said. “I don’t know that it’s a microchip.”

As the measure moved through House committees, Del. David B. Albo (R-Fairfax) said that lawmakers wrestled with whether the military or military contractors should be able to require that employees receive implants as a condition of employment.

“This whole end-of-days thing I just heard about through rumors,” Albo said. “The fact that some people who support it are a little wacky doesn’t make it a bad idea.”

Others dismissed the legislation, calling it a sideshow as lawmakers grapple with a huge budget gap.

“We’ve got a $4 billion hole, and we’re spending time on microchips,” said Del. Albert C. Pollard Jr. (D-Northumberland). “At least when Nero fiddled, they got good music.”

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So what do you think about the Mark of the Beast? Something we have to worry about in our time?

Until next time readers, God Bless!

* In no way am I or this blog getting paid to share this article with you.

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Tech. Tuesday– Churches and Technology

Good morning everyone. Today is Tech. Tuesday! Today I wanted to share with you an article I found relating to technology and today’s church. I live in Oklahoma City, and each week, a new issue of a free newspaper comes out called The Gazette. They write articles on different things, and I thought this was interesting. Enjoy!

Metro churches turn to technology to spread the good word

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

By Malena Lott

According to the New Testament, Jesus’ jour­neys were mostly relegated to modern-day Israel and the West Bank. His message and ministry, primarily by word of mouth. His mode of travel, primarily by foot. Yet despite his limited geographic reach, his message went viral, bringing in crowds from near and far to hear him speak.

Today, “going viral” has a new meaning: utilizing technology, and specifically social media, to spread messages, where just a decade before, we relied on print communication outside of the pulpit. With one click of the mouse, a message can be sent around the world. It begs the question: If Jesus were alive today, would he Twitter? Have a Facebook profile? Flickr account? Post proof of his miracles on YouTube?

Like no other time in history, it is possible to be “everywhere at once,” even if you’re not an omniscient being. In the fast-evolving world of technology, does “church” as a physical place of worship matter as much as its mission? How is spreading the word of the Gospel changing?

“If Jesus were alive, I don’t think he’d have to use social media,” said Tony Steward, online community pastor at LifeChurch.tv. “His followers all have mobile phones. They’d be spreading his message for him. He loved to be around people, from prostitutes to tax col­lectors. He’d still go where the people go.”

Striking a balance

Jeff Wilson, the pastor of innovation and communication at Henderson Hills Baptist Church in Edmond, thinks Jesus would encourage his fol­lowers to use every option available to spread the good news, as he com­manded in Matthew 28:19-20: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptiz­ing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I commanded you.”

Wilson manages the Twitter account @HendersonHills, which currently has nearly 200 followers, but doesn’t follow anyone back. That means he uses the microblogging service to push con­tent instead of building relationships. Some pastors are more active, like Scott Williams (@ScottWilliams), a campus pastor at LifeChurch.tv on Northwest Expressway, who has 31,783 followers and follows 23,170 and counting. For example, on Dec. 1, Williams posted, “Just finished talkin w/ a guy having some marriage problems. I digg provid­ing tools & steps: God, Communication, Comittment, Date Nights…”

Even older churches are beginning to use high-tech tools, including Bethany First Church of the Nazarene, which recently celebrated its 100th birthday. Its communications pastor, Bob Miller, said the challenge is to strike a balance.

“We have many in our fellowship who are not tech-savvy and don’t have Internet access. There are many who think e-mail is old-fashioned and only communicate on Twitter and Facebook. The goal is to communicate in a way so that each person has an opportunity to know, act or respond, which requires mul­tiple avenues of communication,” he said.

The role of managing the church communications continues to grow, including adding volunteers and even an IT staff to keep up. Area churches use services such as YouTube and iTunes for podcasts, Flickr for sharing photos, and Twitter and Facebook for promot­ing its events and building community. If you’d like to hear more from the pas­tor than his pulpit message on Sunday, well, there’s a blog for that, too. For one, Henderson Hills pastor Dennis Newkirk’s blog, “From Dennis,” gets a link from the home page of the church’s Web site at http://www.hhbc.com.

Online Church

While the usage of social media appears to be promoting the church more than the message of Christ, Steward believes that’s a natural step in the progression of adapting tech­nology, including providing “online church,” something he described as a part of LifeChurch.tv’s DNA, making it perhaps the most high-tech church in the metro area. Founded in 1996, LifeChurch.tv began using video teaching in 2001 and offers free wor­ship resources to networked churches around the world; it recently surpassed 1 million downloads of such material.

People can not only watch LifeChurch.tv’s online services from anywhere around the world, but are able to interact with a volunteer team led by an “experience host,” get questions answered and have people pray for them.

Online isn’t just relegated to the computer anymore, either. Steward sees mobile applications as the next “big thing” in technology, and LifeChurch. tv even encourages its members to  follow along with the pastor’s weekly talk on their Web-enabled phones, to access the Bible via YouVersion. com, take notes and even e-mail the talk to others, all during the service.

Henderson Hills will follow in LifeChurch.tv’s digital footsteps, adding live, interactive ministry to the online service experience, and Bethany Nazarene recently added sermons to its Web site at http://www.beth­anynaz.org, although they are neither live nor moderated.

Not a replacement

Does this new technology mean you can skip church altogether and just watch at home in your PJs or while sipping coffee at Starbucks? Not so fast.

“Scripture clearly says being a part of a fellowship is one of the direct commands of Jesus,” Wilson said, who believes watching the online service is a convenience for those traveling or homebound, but not a replacement for church in person.

Steward adds that online church is “not even competition, because most of those watching aren’t a part of a local church to begin with. We see it as another part of our ministry. It allows us to con­nect with more people and more places. One of the growth things is we stop tell­ing them how to connect with us, but instead value and honor them at their point of need.”

The pastors all agreed the Web site is the first stop for spiritual seekers to learn more about the church and even watch a few services before they visit in person. Tracking Web usage provides churches with helpful research to guide its mission, too.

In 30 days’ time, Bethany Nazarene’s site had 7,157 visits with 41,791 page views.

“This is up 5.75 percent over the previous month,” Miller said, noting that the online sermons and study guides were among the most popular pages. He said the church’s Facebook page, with 494 members, represents about 22 per­cent of its Sunday attendance.

LifeChurch.tv has online tracking down to a science, devoting a part of its site specifically to digital missions that explain the initiatives and providing a link to donate. The Web site states: “At LifeChurch.tv, God has led us to leverage every technology tool within our grasp to spread his truth and love across the planet. And he is working through these efforts more powerfully than we even dreamed possible. For just 7¢ a person, we reached 1,008,567 people in July 09.”

One of the things Miller loves see­ing churches do is use technology for instant feedback.

“We recently asked people to text us their prayer requests during a prayer time. And immediately they were read and were prayed for,” he said.

Face-to-face or Facebook?

While you may not be asked for text prayer requests during mass at liturgical churches such as the Catholic Church, Roxy Kostuck, a 32-year-old member of Holy Spirit Catholic Church in Mustang, said her technology require­ments are that the Web site be up-to-date with the latest information and events going on in the church.

“E-mail newsletters would be a nice supplement to the printed church bulletin and would help reduce paper waste, too,” Kostuck said. Although it’s not through her own parish’s Web site, she enjoys looking up Scripture online and sharing biblical quotes with her friends via e-mail and Facebook.

Dr. Jami Lewis, a member of First Unitarian Church in Midtown, said she no longer even notices the bulletins on corkboards at church, and rarely reads the printed newsletter mailed to her home.

“As parents, we rely on e-mail so much to stay informed,” Lewis said. “A lot of us are on Facebook, so we have started a few chats before, but it didn’t really go far. We do have a care and concern group on Facebook where we get updates, but not very often.”

While technology may be seen only as an “aid” in the church’s mission, it has already rapidly changed the way we live and work in just the last few years. The future of Christianity — or any reli­gion, really — likely won’t be driven by church elders or pastors of innovation at all, but by the youngest of the flock who may Google God and come up with a radically new way of experiencing him that we haven’t thought of yet.

Generation Z, those born between the mid-1990s to today, will be the most highly connected generation in history, with a true lifelong use of computers and media technologies, giving the group the label of “Digital Natives.” No doubt they’ll take digital to a higher power.

Got Jesus? There’s an app for that.–Malena Lott

*Taken from here

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So, what are your thoughts? Should today’s church be involved with Twitter, Facebook, and other social media? Should sermons be uploaded to podcasts? Should churches run  a website?

Until next time readers, God Bless!

* In no way am I or this blog getting paid to share this article with you.

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New Blog Schedule

Hello readers! I hope everyone’s Monday went well. I hope your Valentine’s Day was great as well.

I wanted to let you know of the direction my blog is going to go for a little bit. Right now, my time is really limited, so I will be scheduling blog posts in advance.

The following is the schedule I plan to keep to right now.

Monday: Music Monday.. An album review, song review, or anything related to Christian music

Tuesday: Tech. Tuesday.. Something related to technology and today’s Christian.

Wednesday: News Wednesday… Something interesting posted in the news from the current day or previous week.

Thursday: Scripture Thursday.. Thoughts on a verse or sermon I have read or heard from the current day or previous week.

Friday: Feature Friday.. Featured blog or Christian website

Saturday: Movie Saturday.. Upcoming movies and my thoughts about them.

Sunday.. Day of rest..

Well readers, that is what I think I will be doing for a little bit. I hope you like the changes.

Until next time readers, God Bless!

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Extreme Makeover Home Edition

GOOOOOD MORNING READERS!! I know that wasn’t as great as Ty Pennington does it when he knocks on the family’s door, but I tried.

Anyway, I just wanted to come on here and share what I get to do today. I get to go volunteer for an Extreme Makeover Home Edition build here in the Oklahoma City metro area. How cool is that? This is day five of the build, and I have heard with all the snow and rain that Oklahoma has had lately, that it is really muddy and crazy out at the build.

This is the Skaggs Family. They live on a ranch in the south central part of Oklahoma. The little guy has a heart condition that made him have a transplant at 10 months old. Read the full story here.

Please pray that this home is a blessing for this family, and that God is shown through the works of all the volunteers.

Until next time readers, God Bless!

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Are You… Lost??

Hello readers! The popular tv show Lost starts its final season tonight. I haven’t seen any episodes, but from what I have heard, it is a good show. The focus of this post is not about what is going on on tv tonight, but what is going on in the world around us and even what is going on in our own backyard.

There are so many people in this world that are considered to be “lost” or ” un-saved”. I can’t even fathom how big of a number it is. This is either by a decision to not follow Christ, or just simply not even having the opportunity to know Him.

The largest group of people who haven’t had the opportunity to know Him fall into what the church likes to call the  10/40 window. Most of the people groups still unreached by the gospel live in places stretching across the maps of northern Africa and Asia. For more information on the 10/40 window click here.

Now I would like to turn attention to an even more important topic.. Are you… Lost?

Here in the United States, most people have heard about the man named Jesus. But some of them don’t have a relationship with Him. Do you have a relationship with the Son of God? If not, here is some information on how you can establish that relationship.

The message of the Bible is abundantly clear. We have all sinned against God (Romans 3:23). Because of our sin, we deserve to be eternally separated from God (Romans 6:23). Because of His love for us (John 3:16), God took on human form and died in our place, taking the punishment that we deserve (Romans 5:8; 2 Cor. 5:21). God promises forgiveness of sins and eternal life in heaven to all who receive, by grace through faith, Jesus Christ as Savior (John 1:12; 3:16; 5:24; Acts 16:31).

If you would like to become a Christian, please pray this prayer with me.

Lord, I know I am a sinner. I am coming to you to repent of my sins. I believe that you sent your one and only Son to Earth, He died, and arose on the 3rd day. I am truly grateful for your love. Please come into me now and make me new.

In Your Name I Pray… Amen.

Until next time readers, God Bless!

*Thanks for reading! Please take a moment and subscribe to my RSS Feed or for an email subscription click ” Subscribe To This Blog” on the right side of your page.