Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Skype Nixing Skypecasts

Today, this sad news from Skype that their Skypecast service is being ended.

Anyone have other alternatives that you can recommend?

Four Brief Items of Interest

  1. I signed up for a Facebook account yesterday but will not continue using it. I love the concept of Facebook but don't appreciate the advertisements I was getting. Anybody have a better alternative?
  2. An interesting robot that will carry 340 pounds across very rugged territory. Amazing how scientists and engineers can design something almost as good as the creatures that they believe evolved from primordial slime. Click here to watch a short video about it.
  3. A great article on why some home schooled kids turn out bad. Click here for it.
  4. Desiring God has an extensive web site section with lots of free, helpful messages about fighting lust. Check it out.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

A Sobering Reminder to Flee Youthful Lusts

Recently I visited an old friend. I mean literally old--old enough to graduate from college in the early 30s! He's not a Christian, sadly, but I have generally regarded him as an anomaly--an unusually decent fellow, for someone who hasn't been rescued from his sins by Jesus.

This time, the conversation took an unexpected turn and I learned about a side of him I'd never known before. Perhaps in his advanced age, his speech is less guarded than he would have preferred in previous years. He began telling me about how promiscuous he had been before marriage.

I was not sure what to be most surprised about. Americans were this immoral in the 30s? Looking at black and white photos of my friend and his classmates, it was hard to believe that these clean-cut, suit-and-tie-wearing young people harbored such lusts. Why didn't he feel more remorse? He seemed to feel neither guilt nor pride. He talked about his sexual partners with casualness, like selecting a new shirt at Penney's. Where were the Christians? Flipping through his yearbook, I read some comments of his friends. The penmanship was beautiful, the words clever, but the messages were empty. Were there no Jesus-followers in his class?

Two lessons stood out to me.
  • Sex can be gotten cheaply; love is priceless. He told me that he would never have married any girl who had premarital sex with him. By doing so, they cheapened themselves in his eyes. He would keep going with them as long as they gave him what he wanted, but when they stopped--he dumped them. Ironically, although he had no problem compromising his own morals before marriage, he didn't want to marry a woman who did.
  • He still is emotionally connected to his previous "girlfriends", even after all these decades. And he knows it. Did he ever imagine, in those moments of fleeting youthful pleasure, that the "soul ties" created would still haunt him in the next millennium?
Lord Jesus, help me to "flee youthful lusts". The price is too great.

Clarification about spam evangelism

My comments about evangelizing spammers have drawn some positive attention. I want to clarify one thing. Unfortunately (for evangelistic purposes) most spam does not contain the real email address of the spammer. Evangelistic replies could simply result in a lot of "undeliverable" messages bouncing back to you, or--worse--be routed to an "innocent bystander" whose email address has been "borrowed" by the spammer to list as the sender. (I know this happens. I get spam messages that say they're from me!)

Over time I have learned to recognize the spam that has legitimate reply email addresses. Usually they take the form of messages saying the sender is dying and needs help distributing a large sum of money to an honest person, or wanting to buy a large quantity of products from my business.

When I reply to these spams, I almost never get an "undeliverable" message back. Most of the time the spammers do not reply, but at least I have the joy of knowing that they received and read my message. May Jesus water the seed of His Word in their hearts and cause it to bear fruit in due time.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Pray for (and Evangelize) Spammers

I don't know about you, but normally I see spam as an irritation rather than an opportunity. It's hard to remember that behind every spam there is a real human being. But for the grace of God, I could have become a spammer myself.

I have begun writing back to a certain class of spam, the Nigerian fraud messages. In my reply, I say:

Due to the 99% chance that you are engaging in criminal activity (theft), we have no desire to do business with you. However, I do desire that God bless you. If you are indeed, as I suspect, a thief and a liar, please, give up your wickedness. Jesus will take away your bad heart and give you a new, good heart if you will allow Him. Please read a Bible and find Jesus before it is too late. All thieves and liars will go to hell. (Revelation 21:8). I don’t want that to happen to you.
Occasionally, the spammer writes back. Not often, but it does happen. Just yesterday I received a message from one (spelling not corrected):

I understand every single words in your email but you see, I do not really like this work but I just have earn a living . Am graduate for 4 years no work to do .i do not want to stay idol so I decided to be doing some I know that it will give me some money no matter what. Am telling all this because of the prayer from you to me. Am a Christian ,I go to church too ,I Know every thing you said but I can just let my life waste away, neither do I want stay hunger. I can see it that you are a good person and Christian the way you put every words in your email . Is there any way you can give me some assistance or Help me out of the situation . If you can plz be free to contact with my really number {he listed a Nigerian number}. Am give all these because your manner of approach in your email and you gave your details too. I think we can good friend .am 28yrs old Africa,

Let's pray that this young man becomes a genuine follower of Jesus and that God provides him with a good job. It must be really tough living in Nigeria, beyond what we Americans can imagine.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Brad Melton visited our church too!

Two Sundays ago Brad Melton spoke at my church. Interestingly, I had bumped in to Brad and his wife a few days earlier at the Arizona homeschooling convention in Phoenix.

Brad has a very interesting story. He was raised in a dysfunctional family, got involved in a Baptist church in his teens and "got saved", then became a Mormon! He went as a Mormon missionary to Argentina, then got totally disenfranchised with the LDS church and became an atheist!

Four years later he was genuinely and gloriously saved by Jesus, and now has a ministry providing Biblical worldview and apologetics training.

Unlike James White, who is bold, witty and somewhat over-awing, Brad is more quiet and "approachable". I actually enjoyed my one on one talks with Brad more than his teachings. His fact sheet on Mormonism is by far the most succinct and clear summary I have ever encountered. He also makes ministry to and with his family a priority--something that is tragically rare in today's American churches.

I highly recommend you visit his web site and sign up for his free email newsletter, which provides some in depth, thoughtful articles.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Fight Lust (part 3): Eliminate "Provisions"!

For part 1 ("Get Saved!"), click here. For part 2 ("Run to the Light!"), click here.

Paul told the followers of Jesus in Rome:

The night is almost gone,
and the day is at hand.
Let us therefore lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.
Let us behave properly as in the day,
not in carousing and drunkenness,
not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality,
not in strife and jealousy.
But put on the Lord Jesus Christ,
and make no provision for the flesh to fulfill its lust.
Romans 13:12-14 (NASB)
What is a 'provision for the flesh'?

Let's say you struggled with alcoholism. For you, a provision would be keeping a rack of wine bottles in your basement. For someone fighting drug addiction, his handwritten list of phone numbers in the dresser drawer ("just in case I need it for medical reasons some time") would be a provision. The glutton's provision might be driving past the donut shop on the way to work.

And for someone battling lust, a provision could be something very simple. Even things that are not bad in themselves, like TV, unfiltered Internet, the newspaper, going to the beach, or working in a clothing store.

After telling us that lust is mental adultery, Jesus added, "If your right eye causes you to stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you that one of the parts of your body perish than for your whole body to be thrown into hell" (Matthew 5:29, NASB).

We all know our physical eyes are not responsible for lust. Even a blind man can lust, because lust is a heart problem. Jesus statement was meant to shock us into realizing just how seriously we need to take the fight with lust. It's a life or death matter. No matter how "essential" we feel our "provision" is to our happiness--if it's causing us to stumble, we need to throw it away from us!

As much as I would like to tell you what provisions I have had to "throw away" for my own battle, I think that would be counterproductive. It's far to easy to simply adopt someone else's "checklist" instead of taking time to hear from God. I will simply give you a few principles that have helped me:

  • Does Scripture itself have any specific direction or general principles about the possible "provision"?
  • "Others may, I cannot." (Just because another believer can do it without stumbling does not mean I can.
  • If I keep this possible "provision" and it doesn't cause me to stumble, what will I have gained? If I keep it and it does cause me to stumble, what will I have lost? Weigh the two against each other.
  • If you are still not sure about it, ask a mature Christian (who has victory over lust) for his advice.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Defending the Gospel: James White

On Saturday, Dr. James White of Alpha Omega ministries spoke at my church's 2008 men's conference. His messages were excellent.

Check out:

His ministry web site here
His YouTube channel here
Our church web site here
Full audio recording and pictures from the men's conference here

Here is a YouTube video of his first message on Saturday.