Quote for 08/03/2020

being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;    Philippians 1:6

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St, Paul is writing about how God has called them and started them on their road to salvation and a life pleasing to Him.  They should be confident of that; they’ve already seen it!

They should also be confident of the future.  God is not a quitter!  Since Creation, He has kept every promise He made.  Even a cursory reading of Scripture shows us that God has consistently moved His plan ahead to save humanity from sin.  Scripture is also shows many times when God has worked His plan in individual lives.

The Philippians – and we – have every reason to expect that God will never start something and not finish it!  His plan for everyone will be complete in heaven for eternity.  His plan for every individual will proceed here on earth, seeing each one of us safely to His promised land!

Quote for 08/02/2020

But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.    Matthew 6:6

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What is prayer in your life?  Is it the grapevine?  Is it an advertisement for how great you are?  Are you really asking God for anything, or are you just looking for peer approval?  You might even pray hoping someone will hear and give you something.

If that’s all prayer is for you, you might gain some earthly advantage of people giving you a hand with something.  You might become a respected source of gossip.  You might gain a reputation as a noble person.

What you won’t get is God’s approval.  You might not even get salvation, because you’re counting on what you do and what you can get people to do for you.

How to avoid the temptation of pride in prayer?  How to make sure you are praying to and for the right Person?  Skip the audience!  Pray in private; just you and God.  No one else.  Find a quiet place in the house without distractions.  Maybe go outdoors.  You might even go to your church and sit in the sanctuary alone where there are no earthly distraction and just reminders of God and His work on earth.

And in your life!

Big Brother vs Big Father

“Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.    Matthew 6:31-34

Should You Trust Big Tech? by Justin M. Frazier dated June 16, 2020 tells us a lot of what we already know.  The internet, while good for a lot of things, is also a master spy into our personal lives.  That includes the apps on our phones.  Every click, every swipe, every drive, every walk tracks everywhere we go and everything we do.

Here’s what happened to me the other day.  I bought some vitamin supplements online.  The next time I visited the London Daily Mail news website, guess what bombarded and filled the space on the right side of the screen?  Not just vitamins, but the exact things I just bought!!

Do you use a GPS app on your phone for directions?  If so, you’ve probably experienced it sometimes suggesting an alternate route due to construction or an accident.  As you approach the congested area, you see your current route turn orange and then red.  That information doesn’t come from police scanners.  It comes from that very app registering a major slowdown on a road designed for faster traffic.  Everyone’s phone is sending their place and progress back to the app.

We might say, “So what?”  But you’ve also heard how internet providers, social media platforms and more sell information you give them via your “clicks” to the highest bidder to ensnare as many people as possible into buying their products and services.

Anyone paying attention to the current COVID-19 situation knows that the government has been harvesting cell phone data to determine whether people are staying home and restricting travel as the government determines.  It’s both a matter of aggregate numbers, but they can also track individuals.  If you’ve been diagnosed with the virus, the government can track where you’ve been and where you go, using your phone, to determine if you’re being a responsible citizen and seeing who you might have encountered.

All this information is useful for companies, but the government likes it too.  As freedoms erode ever so slowly, the government can use all this data to start ensuring social compliance.  If you think not, look at what’s been happening in China.  They are already there with closed circuit cameras tracking people – not too different from London.  But the Chinese have also started implementing a system of social control which tracks everything you do.

Citizens start out with X number of points to their name.  You can buy and eat what you want, but if those things are graded poorly by the government, you lose points.  The fewer points you have, the more restricted your access to government services and medicine.

The article linked above has some interesting comments; 71% of people polled are concerned about Big Tech and want the government to do something about this privacy invasion.  Roughly 30% are afraid of government using their data to target them.

My favorite quote from the article: “If you’re not paying for it, you are not the customer; you’re the product being sold.”

Here’s a case in point from the article:

Charles Duhigg investigated how companies use data to personalize advertisements. In a 2012 New York Times article, he recounted a story about an angry father yelling at the manager of a local Target store for sending baby-themed ads to his teenage daughter. The manager knew nothing about the advertising but apologized for the ads. He called the man a few days later to apologize again. The father told him that his daughter was indeed already pregnant. The ads revealed something the teen wanted to keep secret.

Privacy is gone.

Now, there are those in government who try to introduce legislation to regulate such data use.  However, if you think about it for just a moment, it is not in the government’s interest overall to do so.  I sincerely doubt those who mean well will succeed in the long run, but such regulation is not in the government’s long-term interests.

This has historical precedent.  When the phone system was first being assembled, law enforcement agencies worked with those first phone companies to ensure there was a “back door” for them to enter the system to check on criminals if need be.

Big Brother is very real, both in reality in parts of the world and lying dormant waiting for his moment in other parts.

My daughter rarely reads the news anymore.  It’s just too depressing and worrying.  But her is her comfort as well as mine and yours – Big Brother might be watching, but we have a Big Father over him…and everything else!  We need to be aware of what’s happening in our world; that’s why Jesus and the prophets have given us glimpses of the future.  That’s why Jesus told us to watch.

The Anti-Christ will most likely be the head of a one-world government with tight controls on everything.  The sort of control through technology that we see growing today makes a great prelude to his arrival!  I’m not saying I think it’s going to happen soon, but, as Jesus instructed, I try to keep watch.

Our big heavenly Father is watching over everything and everyone.  The world will proceed, and time will unfold according to His plan for our welfare.  The Old Testament prophets give us example after example on how God ultimately preserved His people on earth.  They deliver promise after promise that He will deliver us all permanently.  All we need do is cling to Him in faith and obedience.

Big Brother vs. Big Father??  That one’s no contest!!

Quote for 08/01/2020

I will worship toward Your holy temple and praise Your name for Your lovingkindness and Your truth; For You have magnified Your word above all Your name.    Psalms 138:2

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Think back to the last time someone gave you a great gift or maybe guided you to a wonderful opportunity.  Did you spend any time thanking them?  Was your thanks profuse?

God has done so much more than give us earthly gifts and given us opportunities to do good in this world (For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10).

He created us.  He put in place a plan to save us from our disobedience at great personal cost!  He forgives us and continue to do so day after day.  He loves us unconditionally and has prepared a beautiful, perfect eternity for us to simply say “Yes” to.

He said He would do it all.  And He did!  That is worth praising Him!  That is a motivation to always give Him your gratitude and praise!

Quote for 07/31/2020

Blessed is the man, who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night.    Psalms 1:1-2

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Yesterday I wrote about how troubles can come, and we can never be too sure whether it’s just sin doing its thing or if God is correcting us about something.

But there is one way to be fairly certain of the reasons.  If we avoid sinful ways ourselves, we can avoid the results of doing bad things in the first place.  There will still be evil in the world, there will still be mud holes, but we can give ourselves a leg up by not playing in them!

We avoid them by studying God’s Word, which tells us what is pleasing to God and how to recognize those “mud holes.”

Sin still happens, but there are also blessings to be had by staying away from evil and by standing on the firm foundation of God’s wisdom and Word!

Quote for 07/30/2020

And in that day you will say: “Praise the Lord, call upon His name; Declare His deeds among the peoples, Make mention that His name is exalted.    Isaiah 12:4

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There will be days of turmoil and sorrow in everyone’s life.  Sometimes it’s a matter of being in a sinful world and, frankly, stuff happens.  Jesus pointed this out when He referred to the disaster of the Tower of Siloam, which fell and killed several people.  He said that the people who were killed were no more sinful than anyone else.

Sometimes God uses troubles to correct us as when the Israelites were taken captive to Babylon in retribution for forsaking the Shemitah for 490 years and sacrificing their children in the fires of Molech.

When we go through hard times, we can never be too sure why.  Is sin simply impacting our lives, or is God allowing this sinful world into our lives for a specific purpose as in the Babylonian captivity?

I submit that “Why?” is the wrong question, the wrong response.  First, evil is not God’s doing.  It’s ours.  Adam and Eve chose Satan over God and gave him the “keys to the kingdom.”  God is not to blame.  However, He can use evil to get our attention.  Just remember that, even though God used the Babylonians to accomplish His purpose, they were still obliterated for their evil.

So…what is the right response?  Isaiah tells us along with the Israelites he was talking to.  Call on God.  He will ultimately pull us out of our troubles.  We just need to learn to trust Him to sustain us through whatever this sinful world throws at us.  In that day, we will praise Him and tell others how He has rescued us from our troubles and our sins.

To Mask or Not to Mask

Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things. For one believes he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats only vegetables. Let not him who eats despise him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats; for God has received him. Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand.    Romans 14:1-4

Just a couple things to get out of the way before I dive into this.  First, I hate masks.  I avoided wearing them as long as possible, but local authorities have now made it mandatory, so I comply.  Don’t like it, but I do.  Why get myself into trouble I don’t need?

Why don’t I like them?  Because even the WHO says hand washing is the only sure thing.  Gloves especially have minimal to no impact.  If it helps you sleep better, fine, but it’s a false sense of security.  Masks?  Studies have shown they can cut the risk of transmission, but, again, hand washing is the real key.  I don’t like not seeing someone’s entire face when talking to them.  Call me old-fashioned.

Second, we’ve all read how the experts predict there will be multiple waves or peaks in infection rates, which we’re already starting to see.  Think about it; how does that happen without more and more people being infected?  In other words, everybody is going to be exposed sooner or later.

The mortality rate has hovered at about 5%, which is drastically higher than your average flu, but what we rarely ever hear along with that is that the highest rates occur to people in their 70’s.  The next tier of mortality is people in their 60’s.  That means that most of the population’s mortality rate is going to be much lower 5%.

In short; masks help some, but hand washing is the real answer.  Everyone’s going to be exposed sooner or later, so why have we destroyed the economy and people’s lives, many even to the point of committing suicide??

I’m aware there are counter arguments, so don’t bother.  I’m just relaying my point of view to say this…

None of this is worth getting into it with anyone over whether they choose to mask up.  I am not going to bust anyone’s chops over whether they’re doing what I think they should be in this whole mess.

Do you want to mask and glove up everywhere you go?  Fine by me.  If that gives you any peace of mind, go for it!  Are you like me and find the whole thing horribly overblown?  Fine too!

Although we’re not talking about salvation here as St. Paul was in his letter to the Romans above, it’s very much the same principle.  At that time, people were getting into each other’s business over whether they should eat meat or not.  Each side of that issue was behaving in ways that did not respect other people’s point of view.

Like today.

For the Romans, if someone was a strict vegetarian to the point they felt it was part of their walk with God, no one was supposed to bring a succulent steak to that person’s party or berate them over their belief.

For us now, if someone doesn’t want to wear a mask, let them.  If someone wants to, don’t give them a hard time.  For the sake of community and being considerate, I advocate wearing a mask even though I don’t want to…a lot!

There are way too many news articles about people getting into physical fights over the whole mask thing.  I just saw a news article on London Daily Mail about a couple guys who threatened to come back with a gun after some store employees said the policy there was to wear masks.

This was worth shooting someone over?!?

Isn’t this sort of tolerance and respect missing in society now as we become more polarized every day over multiple issues?

Is any of this what God had in mind??

I didn’t think so!

I like this one better than the others

Quote for 07/29/2020

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.    Hebrews 12:2

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St. Paul often compares our journey toward eternity with God as an athletic event.  We must train ourselves spiritually as athletes do physically!  We must leave all that ensnares behind; no “junk food,” no lazy days without training.  We need to press on to the finish line.

And, just as with athletic events, we have “the roar of the crowd!!”  We have a crowd of witnesses who have already crossed the finish line and now look at us from the winner’s circle, willing us to finish strong.

You’ve heard of near-death experiences where people are greeted by loved ones who have already passed.  Yes, there is a cloud of witnesses who inspire us cheer us on!

Quote for 07/28/2020

The Lord will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one Lord, and his name the only name.    Zechariah 14:9 NIV

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The world seems to be moving toward a one-world government, a new world order.  There is evidence of it even now.  Both the prophecies of Daniel and John’s revelation assure us it will happen.  Then the 666 Beast will con the world and take power only to destroy.

But we are moving toward a one-world government beyond what sinful men concoct!  There will be one King, Jesus!  He will rule eternally in love and peace.  No lies.  No violence.  Just Him, us, and a perfect eternity!!

Quote for 07/27/2020

Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.    2 Corinthians 4:16

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I’ve become painfully aware of my mortality over the years.  I’ve brushed up against death three times, including two near-fatal surgeries.  Now in my later years, I grow ever more mindful that my “outward man” is perishing.  My weight is harder to control.  My hair is thinning.  The mirror seems to grow less friendly every day!

Thanks to God, it is all a  reminder that my “inward man,” my soul is constantly being renewed through reading God’s word, attending worship, Holy Communion.  I am assured that my soul will someday be welcomed into heaven and given a new, perfect body!