Tuesday, February 25, 2014

How to overcome evil against you



Have you ever stopped to think about the amount of violence we’re exposed to in our culture? I read a recent study that said the average child today will see 200,000 acts of violence (including 6,000 murders) on television by the time he or she reaches age 18. It’s alarming!

This epidemic of violence in the media is hardening our society to the point where many have become numb when they hear about real problems. We see genocide around the world, murders in our cities, and infanticide in the wombs of many mothers right here in America, and many people don’t even care.

Thousands of years ago, God gave the commandment to the Israelites, “You shall not murder” (Exodus 20:13). And throughout history, the act of wantonly taking the life of another has been condemned… all the way back to Cain and Abel, the children of Adam and Eve. That’s because one of the most horrific results of the sin is hatred between people, which often fleshes out in murder.

So what can we do to counter this epidemic of violence? Well, it begins in the home by creating a culture of life, not death. Be careful about the type of media you and your family allow to enter your mind. Help stem the tide against violence by loving life, not death! (1)

Here’s the vast difference between a godly person and a worldly person. A worldly person just tries to “make it through” dark times. But a godly person trusts and finds God at work in and through all things.

Maybe today, you’re on the receiving end of someone else’s cruel behavior. Or, perhaps you find yourself on the giving end of cruelty. Wherever there is hatred and anger, combat it with the truth wrapped in love. Overcome cruel behavior by fighting evil with good and speaking the truth in love!

“Difficult times will come.” It’s a fact of life, isn’t it? There are good times and bad times in everybody’s life. We are fallen beings living in fallen bodies in a fallen world, surrounded by other fallen people. And  that is only going to get worse as we move towards the “last days”.
God allows us to experience the fallenness of life, just like everyone else. It is in our spiritual response to the difficulties of life that God is most glorified.

What is God saying to you through this passage today? If you are experiencing dark times, don’t think it is unusual or that God has abandoned you. God wants you to know that until you go to be with Him, you will have the stress of life in a fallen world. The difference is that God walks through that experience with you, transforming both you and those you touch.

Reference:

 (1)  Dr. Jack Graham, “How to overcome evil against you”, PowerPoint Ministries.


Blessings,

Raj Kosaraju


Sunday, February 23, 2014

The digital world is huge and complicated and explosive



The digital world is driven by its entrepreneurial and ideological pioneers and cheerleaders, and they are a multitude. The numbers are staggering. The World Wide Web is, for all practical purposes, less than twenty years old. It now reaches every continent and country, linking over 2 billion people.

There are now 5.9 billion cellular subscribers, and that means 87% of the world’s population. Cell phones, originally the toys of the very rich and powerful, are now more popular than landline phones in the poorest regions of the globe. The telephone pole will soon be an antique.

The blogosphere was unknown to humankind until the last fifteen years, but just one blogging platform (WordPress) logs over 300 million users each month, who blog more than 2.5 billion pages. The world now turns to Google before even thinking of reaching for a dictionary or encyclopedia. Most Americans under age 30 cannot imagine a time when you had to go to a brick and mortar library for information.

The central fixture of social media (for now), Facebook, was launched in February of 2004, and now links more than 900 million users worldwide. Twitter, the micro-blogging sensation was launched in May of 2006 and boasts 140 million users who post 340 million tweets each day. Even more amazing is the fact that more than 1.6 billion search queries are performed on Twitter each day. For many Americans, Twitter represents the leading edge of news and communication.

The digital kingdom is massive and transformative. Older media are migrating to the Web, even as social media increasingly supplant voice technologies. Smart phones are actually small computers, used occasionally for voice calls.

The digital world is the wild west of information sharing and conversation. Just about everything can be found on the Internet, usually within a couple of mouse clicks. This includes everything from preaching to pornography, with politics and entertainment added to the mix.

The Internet and digital technologies connect people, and disconnect them. So much information and entertainment is available so instantly that it seems that the entire globe is developing an attention deficit problem. At the same time, these technologies have led to the greatest democratization of communications since the advent of spoken language. Christians can take the Gospel into China, leaping over the “Great Firewall,” as many Chinese citizens refer to the efforts of their government to keep information out. North Korea struggles to isolate its people from the outside world, but cell phones (from Egypt!) are increasingly common, though illegal.

But the Internet has also disrupted the stable hierarchies of the old information age. A teenager with a computer can put out a blog that looks more authoritative than the blog written by the CEO of a Fortune 500 corporation – and perhaps read by more people as well. Most of what appears on the Internet is unedited, and much of it is unhelpful. Some is even worse.
And yet, if you are not present on the Internet, you simply do not exist, as far as anyone under 30 is concerned. These “digital natives” rarely receive and even more rarely write letters. They know nothing but instant information, and studies indicate that they multitask by instinct, utilizing several digital devices at once, often even when sitting in a classroom.

The digital world is huge and complicated and explosive. It contains wonders and horrors and everything in between. And it is one of the most important arenas of leadership our generation will ever experience. If you are satisfied to lead from the past, stay out of the digital world. If you want to influence the future, brace yourself and get in the fast lane. (1)

There are many who hide from life in a computer, on the Internet, or in a game. They aren’t happy with life, so they attempt to create a virtual life that takes them over. More and more time is spent in this “virtual reality” and before long, which life are they living? Which life will amount to something?

Modern society has become so obsessed with entertainment that it becomes the ultimate goal of every other activity. People are unhappy, so they look to entertainment to make them happy. Technology is a tool for people’s entertainment as well. Where is this going to get someone? Will all this entertainment help them reach heaven? Or maybe it might be the stumbling block to prevent them from reaching heaven? Entertain- ment is not a bad thing, but in moderation. Balance is important. Our service to God is important. We are expected to be “redeeming the time” (Ephesians 5:16). We will have to give an account to God for what we do, and for what we don’t do. How will He look at your activities?

Yet with every strength and opportunity with social media there is a corresponding weakness and danger. False teachings are often promoted through social media (cf. 2 Peter 2:1-3). Just as we can seek to reflect the Lord Jesus and promote the Gospel through social media, the danger exists that we might turn people away from the Gospel instead. Many times pictures and messages are posted or shared that do not honor the Lord Jesus but promote the gratification of the flesh (cf. Galatians 5:19-21). Some seem more interested in bashing or praising politicians and political parties than in promoting the Kingdom of God (Philippians 3:20-21). Social media relationships can prove rather superficial and are no substitute for substantive, deep relationships with other people in real life, especially within the local church (Romans 12:3-8, 1 Corinthians 12:12-28).

Christians have the liberty of using and enjoying social media. Do we seek to honor Jesus through social media, giving reason for others to glorify God, or does our use of social media expose us as hypocrites, giving reason for others to blaspheme? Let us reflect the Lord Jesus through social media, and honor God!

I want to make one final point about all of this. Staying in touch through technology has been great. I wonder if we don’t lose something though. We lose the “personal touch” when this becomes the only avenue we use to reach out to others. We need a bond with each other. An email can be impersonal when someone needs more. Let us not neglect each other for the sake of convenience.

Technology has changed our lives so much. Let us be careful to be certain these changes are for the good of our souls and our brethren!

Reference:

(1) Albert Mohler "The Christian Leader in the Digital Age", www.AlbertMohler.com

Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr., serves as president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary -- the flagship school of the Southern Baptist Convention and one of the largest seminaries in the world.


Blessings,

Raj Kosaraju


The Challenges of Spreading the Gospel in the Information Technology Age



In their new book The Hyperlinked Life, David Kinnaman, president of Barna Group, and Jun Young, founder and CEO of ZUM Communication and former Microsoft employee, explore some of the data and trends that are producing this new iWorld. More importantly, they look at what it means for God’s people to thrive and bear witness to something greater than ourselves and the plethora of information at hand.

In the past fifteen years a revolution has taken place. You know about it because you’ve lived through it, but you may have missed its profound implications. Everyone’s heard of the digital revolution, but this is so much more. It’s the knowledge revolution.

Here is what this revolution looks like:

Not so long ago, we had to wait for information about our world to come to us. Books and other print items were among the first media that collected and distributed information in a relevant package for humans. Then came radio and television — electronic media that helped satiate human beings’ thirst for more immediate knowledge. But all the media thus far have the disadvantage of being limited to bursts of information packaged for the largest possible audience. In other words, the information we gain via television and radio and newspapers is knowledge for mass consumption.

We still have access to information produced for mass consumption. But the knowledge revolution — with information now available through interconnected digital devices such as smartphones, tablets, and computers — is about personalized knowledge. It’s not simply information for the masses; it’s customized, personalized, on-demand information.

The knowledge revolution is the rise of the hyperlinked life: access to what we want to know when we want to know it.

Living in such a world requires a certain amount of adaptation. We had to adapt to the Industrial Age, and we will adapt to the Information Age. But we have to recognize there are both pitfalls and potential in adapting to this new world — a world in which we are all hyperlinked. (1)

Speaker and author Robert Ringer says, 'The world is saturated with intelligent, highly educated, extraordinarily skilled people who experience ongoing frustration because of their lack of success. Millions of others spend their lives working hard, long hours, only to die penniless.' What's the solution? Ringer says: 'Remember, life is nothing more than the sum total of many successful years; a successful year is nothing more than the sum total of many successful months; a successful month is nothing more than the sum total of many successful weeks; a successful week is nothing more than the sum total of many successful days. That's why practising successful habits, day in and day out, is the most certain way to win over the long term.'

The Digital Age is upon us. In the span of less than three decades, we have redefined the way humans communicate, entertain, inform, research, create, and connect – and what we know now is only a hint of what is to come. But the greatest concern of the church is not a technological imperative, but a Gospel imperative.

The digital world did not exist a generation ago, and now it is a fundamental fact of life. The world spawned by the personal computer, the Internet, social media, and the smart phone now constitutes the greatest arena of public discussion and debate the world has ever known.
Real communication is happening in the digital world, on the Web, and on the smart phone in your pocket. Real information is being shared and globally disseminated, faster than ever before. Real conversations are taking place, through voice, words and images, connecting people and conversations all over the world.

"Social media" might be only a decade or so old, but it has grown astronomically and has gained in popularity throughout the world. Social media, broadly defined, is virtual engagement and interaction with other people on various online networks, platforms, or systems; practically speaking, social media includes popular social networking websites like Facebook and Twitter, weblogs ("blogs"), video websites like YouTube, customer review websites like Yelp, and online communities like Pinterest or Reddit. Through these various forms of social media people are able to maintain virtual friendships, collaborate on projects, post information, and/or discuss all sorts of subjects. We do well to consider how we can effectively promote the Gospel and glorify God through our use of social media.

Social media often brings down some barriers found "in real life," especially geographical barriers. Through social media Christians have the opportunity to associate with fellow Christians who live nearby as well as halfway around the world. Christians from different parts of the world can participate in real time Bible studies through Skype or a Google+ hangout. Spiritual material which might otherwise have received limited exposure in a certain area can now be accessed by all sorts of people around the world. Many people are exposed to the Gospel of Christ through various forms of social media who otherwise may not have heard (cf. Romans 10:11-18).
                                                   
Through social media Christians can develop, maintain, and nurture connections not only with fellow Christians but also people of the world in order to encourage them in the faith or to reflect the light of Christ before them (Matthew 5:13-16, Hebrews 10:24-25). 

Remember, if the leader is not leading in the digital world, his leadership is, by definition, limited to those who also ignore or neglect that world, and that population is shrinking every minute. The clock is ticking.

Owen. D. Sratchan, Professor of Boyce College emphasizes to use technology to promote the gospel and enhance personal ministry. The crucial challenge for us is not to allow technology to master us, which all of creation — trees, wind, phones, images — tries to do in a post-fall world (Gen 3:17-19). We must instead master it. Once healthy patterns are established and accountability is in place, Christians should feel free to use technology and new media to promote actively and enthusiastically the gospel. We can be tempted to be modern Luddites, but gospel concern and church history won’t let us. The Reformation that birthed the Protestant and evangelical movements was driven by the printing press, a revolution in itself. Even as Luther and Calvin and the early Baptists spread their ideas like wildfire through printing, so we spread the gospel through Facebook, Twitter and whatever else is coming down the pike.

In summary, we need to be careful in handling technology. But we should not fear the new digital engagement. Prayerfully, wisely and out of love for God and his gospel of grace, we should practice it. We may need a few jabs in the ribs as we go; technology must not master us. Provided we establish godly rhythms, we can, in fact, master it, and turn the digital world upside down for Christ. (2)


References:

(1)  David Kinnaman and Jun Young, The Hyperlinked Life: Living with Wisdom in an Age of Information Overload

(2) Owen D. Strachan is assistant professor of church history and Christian theology  at Boyce College, the undergraduate school of Southern Seminary


Blessings,

Raj Kosaraju 

Friday, February 21, 2014

It is all Nothingness and Futility



To unsaved people, Christianity is nothing more than a philosophy. So when they decide to change their philosophy, they are sincere when they say... “I used to be a Christian.” Now, they may have once been in a Christian church, and had learned Christian teachings; but they certainly never found Christ as their personal Savior. Many people join a church, listen to the Gospel message, but they have NO faith in God. This is exactly what happened to the Jews in the Wilderness in Moses' time... “For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.” Many people hear the saving Gospel message of Christ crucified, but they have no faith in what they are hearing. Our churches are packed full with such Christ-rejecters. What a sad paradox!

The fact is that many who claim to be Christians have never been born again. They wear the label of “Christian,” but there has been no true change of heart. Many who do not even believe the Bible to be true presume to teach it. They claim to speak for God yet live in a state of unbelief. Most false interpretations of Scripture come from such sources.

It is impossible for an unbeliever to correctly interpret Scripture. “The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14). An unsaved man cannot understand the truth of the Bible. He has no illumination. Further, even being a pastor or theologian does not guarantee one’s salvation.

An example of the chaos created by unbelief is found in John 12:28-29. Jesus prays to the Father, saying, “Father, glorify your name.” The Father responds with an audible voice from heaven, which everyone nearby hears. Notice, however, the difference in interpretation: “The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him.” Everyone heard the same thing—an intelligible statement from heaven—yet everyone heard what he wanted to hear.

Evangelist Daniel Kolenda  mentions in his book “Live before you die”  the numerous examples of God’s grace towards his people.

The Lord told Isaiah to cry out and to prophesy these words that still ring like an anthem to our world that chases feverishly after possessions, glory, and gratification.

Notice that Matthew 6:33 says if you will seek the kingdom of God first, “all these things shall be added unto you.” The Greek word translated added is a mathematical term. From a perspective of real value, addition is meaningless unless we are dealing with numbers greater than zero: 0 + 0 = 0. This is true ad infinitum. One could add zeros together until they stretch around the globe, and still the value of all those added zeros would be zero. Zero is the ultimate value of all of the accessories we seek in life. The writer of Ecclesiastes said it best:

“Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.” What does man gain from all his labors at which he toils under the sun? Generations come and generations go, but the earth remains forever. The sun rises and the sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises. The wind blows to the south and turns to the north; round and round it goes, ever returning on its course. All streams flow into the sea, yet the sea is never full. To the place the streams come from, there they return again. All things are wearisome, more than one can say." —Ecclesiastes 1:28, NIV

The Lord told Isaiah to cry out and to prophesy these words that still ring like an anthem to our world that chases feverishly after possessions, glory, and gratification.

A voice says, Cry [prophesy]! And I said, What shall I cry? [The voice answered, Proclaim:] All flesh is as frail as grass,and all that makes it attractive . . . is transitory, like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades, when the breath of the Lord blows upon it; surely [all] the people are like grass . . . Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket and are counted as small dust on the scales. . . . All the nations are as nothing before Him; they are regarded by Him as less than nothing and emptiness (waste, futility, and worthlessness). —Isaiah 40:67, 15, 17, AMP

Movie stars, world leaders, and business tycoons all think they are very important, and nightly news reports would have us believe the world revolves around these people and their influence, power, and wealth. But from God’s perspective it is all nothingness and futility. All of their wars, struggles, and efforts to rise to the top of the ladder are all worthless. And if this is so for the most powerful people, how much more for us? When all is said and done, what is the purpose of everything we do? We struggle and toil all our lives, pushing, striving toward something, some purpose, but what?

In an attempt to find meaning, we tell ourselves that we are doing it all for our children, but what do we teach our children? From us they learn to add zeros together, and thus they inherit the same meaningless futility with which we have lived. All the goods we acquire soon rot, precious moments are forgotten, and money evaporates as the dew. The world keeps spinning and changing as people and kingdoms come and go. The wise will see that “the Teacher” was right—everything in this world is utterly meaningless and has less value than a zero. Yet people spend their entire lives adding these meaningless zeros together.

But when we are seeking first the kingdom of God, it means we have made God’s kingdom the priority in our lives. And when God’s kingdom is number one, suddenly all the zeros after it have meaning: 10; 100; 1,000; 10,000; 100,000; 1,000,000! All the zeros of life are meaningless unless God’s kingdom is first! But put God’s kingdom first, and not only will you find ultimate purpose and meaning in life, but also even the small things will also take on significance.

We prepare for the Kingdom by living according to the rules of the Kingdom now. Explaining how one might enter the Kingdom of God, Jesus told Nicodemus that one must be “born again” (John 3:1-8). This process begins with baptism, which signifies the death of the former sinful man and the beginning of a new life dedicated to Christ (Romans 6:1-5). It culminates in a change from mortal flesh and blood to immortal spirit at Christ’s return (1 Corinthians 15:50-53; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).

Once we embark on this process, we are symbolically “conveyed” into the Kingdom (Colossians 1:13) and our “citizenship” is now described as being in heaven (Philippians 3:20). At the completion of the process of being born again, we will be changed into immortal beings and become kings and priests serving in God’s Kingdom on earth (Revelation 1:6; Revelation 5:10).

Even though the Bible speaks of our “citizenship” as being in heaven after we are baptized (Philippians 3:20), in order to enter the Kingdom of God, humans must be changed from flesh and blood into spirit, from mortal into immortal, at Jesus’ second coming (1 Corinthians 15:50-53; Hebrews 9:28). When the Kingdom of God comes to earth, it will rule over all the “kingdoms of this world” (Revelation 11:15).

We prepare for the Kingdom by living according to the rules of the Kingdom now. Explaining how one might enter the Kingdom of God, Jesus told Nicodemus that one must be “born again” (John 3:1-8). This process begins with baptism, which signifies the death of the former sinful man and the beginning of a new life dedicated to Christ (Romans 6:1-5). It culminates in a change from mortal flesh and blood to immortal spirit at Christ’s return (1 Corinthians 15:50-53; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).

Once we embark on this process, we are symbolically “conveyed” into the Kingdom (Colossians 1:13) and our “citizenship” is now described as being in heaven (Philippians 3:20). At the completion of the process of being born again, we will be changed into immortal beings and become kings and priests serving in God’s Kingdom on earth (Revelation 1:6; Revelation 5:10).

Even though the Bible speaks of our “citizenship” as being in heaven after we are baptized (Philippians 3:20), in order to enter the Kingdom of God, humans must be changed from flesh and blood into spirit, from mortal into immortal, at Jesus’ second coming (1 Corinthians 15:50-53; Hebrews 9:28). When the Kingdom of God comes to earth, it will rule over all the “kingdoms of this world” (Revelation 11:15).

References:

(1) Daniel Kolenda, Part 4- Meaningless! Meaningless! Secret #1 - The Kingdom Comes First, Chapter 6, Live Before You Die

(2)“The Kingdom of God Is Within You”—What Did Christ Mean? by David Treybig

Blessings,

Raj Kosaraju


But you can take it or leave it



“You have cancer.” “I want a divorce.” “Your position has been terminated.” “Your electricity has been shut off until you make a payment on your bill.” “You have not been accepted into our program.” “I’m sorry, there has been an accident…”Sometimes we come face to face with complicated matters that we simply are not expecting. Life can turn us upside down in a moment’s notice and leave us gasping for breath, grasping for strength, and searching for answers.

Have you been there? Are you or is someone you know is there now? Keep reminding and try to recollect....

The Bible tells us that God will never leave us nor forsake us. But this does not mean that bad things won’t happen. And it also does not mean that we will never experience pain, disappointment, or devastation. It means that no matter what we face, God – Emmanuel – is always with us and His peace is always available… whether He chooses to deliver us from the trial, through the trial, or in the trial.
                 
Yes indeed, as offensive as it may be to you, it is reasonable for God to put people to death for ANY sin, any time, any where. God determines when each of us will die, and where. Some today, some tomorrow. None are spared from this. He chooses to delay the punishment for some but all will soon face the reality of death for their sin, however small. That is not an opinion but a fact. That it is God's prerogative is obvious by the simple fact that you cannot avoid the inevitability of your own death. Even if you were very moral all your life it woefully falls short of God's holiness and will end in death (because it is so offensive), apart form Christ.

That we are all enslaved to sin resulting in death is the very condition we all willingly and actively participate in as rebels against God. All of us. If you have not figured it out yet, God puts human beings to death every day this world goes on. He could have wiped us all out at any time and He would have been right and just in doing so... but instead of wiping us all out He actually bore the punishment for sin upon himself so we would not ultimately have to. This teaching about death is not something hidden away in some back corner of the Bible. This is the main message. Humans are in trouble. Christ is your only hope. So you are not exposing anything new that will shock us when you bring up what seems shocking to you. Death is offensive? Yes indeed... because sin is so much more offensive. Christians all know this all too well.

Of course, you have freedom of conscience as long as you live. You can choose to reject Christ now. It is a free country you live in. We are not going to, nor can we force you to believe... We are simply declaring the truth about your situation because we care and hope you take hold of Christ to escape the wrath to come. But you can take it or leave it.

Also .....

I am daily amazed at the implosion of just about every aspect of both American and global life. The decline of morals, the persecution of the Christian religion (higher now than ever in history), declining economy, craven entertainment, unscrupulous personal and governmental finances, rising lack of conscience, the emergence of technologies, church tares over-running the pews, extreme weather, geo-political collapses (Kiev anyone?), natural disasters, all occurring at once and so constantly, and with ever increasing extremity, all serve to show me and perhaps you too that truly the end is near.

The simple truth is that if we try and do something to cause ourselves to suffer in order to make ourselves right with God, we are insulting God and the very work of Christ on the cross by attempting to please God by our works.  This must be avoided at all costs.  Let me restate this yet again.  Penance is sinful when it is aimed at making ourselves right with God.  The only way we can be right with God is by throwing ourselves at the cross and asking forgiveness from the Lord Himself.

Do you have sins of which you need to repent?  Are there some old habits, some new sins, some people you're not reconciled with, or something else that is contrary to God's word that you have not turned from?  If so, then confess it to God and repent.  Don't try and please God through your efforts to make up for a sin against Him.  Please God by completely and totally relying on Jesus -- and turning from your sins.  You need to know that God is there to forgive you and to love you.  He is good and kind and patient with you.  "Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?" (Rom. 2:4, NASB).  Remember repentance is a holy command of God.  It is something He can give to you (2 Tim. 2:5) through the grace of His Son Jesus.  Seek God's holiness and turn from that which is unholy.

Blessings,

Raj Kosaraju

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Impacting Morality and Culture




I recently read an article on “Morality is definitely on the decline”. It reflected the reality of issues in everyday life. Where can you find relief? Alcohol, drugs, relationships, work, money, sex... the list goes on? If so, you've found relief that simply won't work long-term. The Bible says, 'Anxiety in a man's heart weighs it down', causing hopelessness and depression.

Let me ask you something. Have you watched TV lately? There are shows like Jersey Shore, Skins, The Secret Life of the American Teenager, and last but not least, 16 and Pregnant. I also fail to mention that all the reality TV series that are aired are not even "reality", those shows are full of lies. Every time I turn the TV on, there is at least one sex scene on almost every show. Sex is everywhere on TV, and don't forget those movie trailers. The shows are one thing but the music that is played now a days is trash. The lyrics are full of filth, like getting drunk as if there is no tomorrow, having one night stands, and getting high while using the expression "yolo". 

I have been watching the news and it saddens me that most of the people in the government who are representing us are quickly changing their minds and supporting gay marriage. I'm sorry if people feel offended by what I am about to say, but marriage is supposed to be between a man and a woman. I do not like to hear things like: "God hates gays", because he doesn't, he loves everyone, but he does not love the sin that is being committed, and that's the major difference. Another issue is the separation of church and state. What ever happened to the phrase "in God we trust"? Now this is a nation that believes that there needs to be scientific evidence to back everything up. Well I hate to break it to you, but God is everything he knows everything, and he created everything, including every scientific thing you could possibly imagine and that will never change.

There is much written today about how the world has lost touch with God and morality. It's easy to view the past with rose-tinted glasses, to believe in "the good old days" or reminisce about a golden era.  We do this in the Church all the time, often pointing to one practice that, if resurrected, would surely turn this generation around.


"The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers."

How often have I been tempted to mutter these words when encountering today's teenagers? But this quote is attributed to Socrates by Plato. Apparently teens weren't doing so well in the ancient world either. The fallen nature of man has followed us through the ages, plaguing the young and old alike. Our broken nature manifests itself in so many ways… from the darkest sins to our lack of basic manners and courtesy.

We may not always have the most information or the best background, but we know that nothing of real value can occur apart from the Lord. When God is present, souls are converted, the simple are made wise, and miracles begin to happen. Remember the Lord in all that you do.

Where does this lead into.....worth a look for sure.

Greg Laurie has given another important topic on Impacting Culture without Compromise?

Let us examine every aspect very minutely: What is the biblical worldview on our culture? Are things getting better? Is humanity improving the world around it? The Bible is really clear on this one: our culture is dark, and it is getting darker. That is what the Bible teaches. It is not going to get better; it is going to get worse. Despite the fact that humanity has increased in scientific, medical, historical, educational, psychological, and technological knowledge to an astounding degree, we have not in any way, shape, or form changed our own basic nature. And we have not improved society.

Our confidence has increased, but our peace of mind has diminished. Our accomplishments have increased, but our sense of purpose and meaning have all but disappeared. Instead of improving the moral and spiritual quality of our lives, our discoveries and accomplishments have simply provided new ways to show ourselves for what we really are: depraved, sinful, and wicked.

Modern man has simply discovered new ways to corrupt and destroy himself. We go from war to greater war, from immorality to greater immorality, from perversion to greater perversion. The spiral is downward, not upward.

Some Christians try to isolate themselves from the world around them. But that is virtually impossible. You may remove yourself and your children from the culture, or at least attempt to, but know this: your culture will find you.

Withdrawing to a Christian subculture is not what we are supposed to do. Jesus prayed this for us: "I'm not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one" (John 17:15). The objective of believers is not to isolate, but to infiltrate; not to evade, but to invade. We are to impact our culture without being compromised by it. (1)

Reference:

(1)  Impact Culture without Compromise? ,Greg Laurie, Taken from "Infiltrate, Not Isolate" by Harvest Ministries (used by permission).

Blessings,

Raj Kosaraju



Monday, February 17, 2014

Upside Down


I liked Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein’s article on Personal Responsibility. Maybe you’ve seen the following satirical illustration about personal responsibility. The first frame shows a picture of an obese man eating a burger and fries with the text, “McDonalds made me fat.” In the next frame, the same man is seen chain-smoking cigarettes with the text, “Phillip Morris gave me cancer.” Next, the man is pictured driving his car into a wall while the text explains, “Jack Daniels wrecked my car.” In the last scene, the man appears livid as the text reads: “Now they must pay for all the suffering that they caused!”

It’s much easier to blame others than take responsibility for our own actions. But in the end, we harm ourselves more than those we blame.

God knows the truth. God knows who is responsible and who is innocent. Those who shift the blame will ultimately bring damage upon themselves.

While it may be tempting to shirk responsibility, we cannot escape the results of our actions. So while it may seem easier to hide from accountability, in the end it only complicates our lives. It is only when we accept responsibility for our actions that we can rectify our mistakes. The moment we take responsibility for our lives is when we can change almost anything. It’s only in owning up to our failures that we can truly succeed.

Your Key

Your habits determine your future. Psychologists estimate that 90 per cent of your behaviour is habitual - 90 per cent! Habits can help you do things more quickly and remove mental clutter so that you can think about more important things. But they can also be detrimental and lead you in a direction that is out of line with your dream. Think about the person who dreams of winning an Olympic gold medal in the marathon, but smokes two packs of cigarettes a day. Or the person who dreams of being a fashion model, but eats 6,000 calories a day without exercising. Or the business person who dreams of leading a winning team, but habitually insults and belittles employees. Habits have a cumulative effect, and often the results don't show up until much later in life. If your habits are bad, by the time the damage is evident it's too late to alter your results.

That's why you need to take control of your habits, now. Unless you are willing to confront the habits you need to change, and institute new ones, you can stand on 101 different Scriptures, claiming God's promises, but you'll get nowhere.

Just think about it:

“They were all filled with the Holy Spirit” – Acts 2:4

     The early Christians had no building, no airplanes, no automobiles, no printing presses or television or radio.  Yet they turned their world “upside down” for Christ.  They started a spiritual revolution that shook the very foundations of the Roman Empire.

     In the face of opposition and overwhelming odds they stayed courageous, bold, dauntless, and full of faith.  They lived their lives daily for Christ, no matter what others thought.  They gladly suffered scorn, persecution, and even death for their faith in Christ.

     What was their secret?  The Bible gives us the key; “They were all filled with the Holy Spirit.”  The Holy Spirit changed their lives, and those they met couldn’t help but be impressed by their love and the quality and purity of their lives.  What keeps us from turning our world “upside down” for Christ? – Billy Graham


Blessings,

Raj Kosaraju