Archive for July, 2013

Stand your Ground

 

Robert E. Lee and his horse, Traveller.

Robert E. Lee and his horse, Traveller.

Robert E. Lee’s greatest blunder: moving north into Pennsylvania and attacking the Union at a place called Gettysburg. Lee for all of his commission as General of the Northern Virginia Army stood on the principle that he fought and led to defend his home state of Virginia.  A West Point graduate and up until the secession by Texas in 1861, a Colonel of the First Regiment of Cavalry of the U.S. army. Lee did not believe in the breakup of the Union by the secession of Southern States, but with the threat of invasion by the Union army into Virginia was eminent, he resigned his post and took up arms to defend his beloved state. From that time forward Lee was successful in winning and maintaining strength in key battles such as Second Manassas (Southerners refer to this as Bull Run), Fredericksburg, the Wilderness, Spotsylvania,  Chancellorsville all of which were in his home state of Virginia. When Lee had the high ground and took his stand to defend, he took the field and won.  The battle in Gettysburg was suppose to be a formidable attack, but this time the Union held the high ground and stood their ground. At the end of 3 days they remained standing; it would be the beginning of the end for the Confederate army. Defense wins championships!

Paul’s letter to the Ephesians ends with this appeal; Stand your ground! In just seven short verses Paul emphasizes a defensive posture. Notice the wording; stand, put on, stand, take up, withstand, stand firm, stand, fastened, put on, put on, take up, extinguish, take up and take up again. Fourteen times in seven verses, Paul sounds forth the orders as a General on the front line of a battlefield; Get Ready! The battle will come to us!

The first thing that any soldier needs in order to fight or defend his ground is the assurance and confidence that his commander is there with him, bigger than life, strong and brave, ready to put his life on the line as well. General Lee demonstrated this quality on many occasions. It is well documented that in several key battles, all the men needed to see was General Lee sitting on his horse and their morale soared, compelling them to fight and face the volley of musket balls.  This is of course the first picture Paul wishes us to see Eph 6:10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.

The Lord is there with us! He sits upon His white horse (Rev.6:2; 19:11), with the crown on His head and the bow and arrow in His hand ready to strike down the enemy.  He is not in His tent on a far away hill waiting for the slaughter, but rather He is with me and His strength is mighty.  We are encouraged to draw from this might, to take it for my own and use it to stand up and be bold and courageous before the enemy that is all around me. Be brave, our Savior is with us and He is All-Mighty and Powerful.

One of the difficulties of taking a large army far into the enemies’ territory, is supplies.  Men need certain things in order to function well, especially under the stress and labor of battle. First, they need food, clean water and shelter. If they cannot have some or all of these qualities even in a limited amount, they will soon succumb and be of no benefit to their unit. Secondly they need good equipment. In order for discipline and morale to be maintained, they must have adequate clothing and armament.  Their rifles or firearms must be reliable, their shoes fit to wear, their clothing warm and their means of protection in place.  One of the goals by Lee, to take the confederate army into Pennsylvania, was designed to procure supplies, namely food from the abundant farm fields.  The blockade that the North had imposed around southern ports had begun to take its toll, and in order for an army to survive it must have certain necessities.

Paul exclaims that God has provided us that which is adequate and necessary to defeat the enemy; we need only take advantage of it and put it on!  Think about the resources that our General and Savior has provided; the bread of life, living water, an unmovable rock of anchor, an innumerable host that will fight beside us, and an assured victory. Not to mention a belt, shoes, breastplate, helmet, shield and a sword, forged by the creator Himself.

The fight will come to us, so let us hearken the plea by Paul to get ready, put on the armament, stand our ground, defend our faith and by all means communicate with the commander through much prayer.

 

Darryl Fuller

Let the record show…

Nestled on a ridge with an unprecedented view of the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina is the largest house in the United States.  At just over 178,000 square feet, the Biltmore Château, near Ashville, is as impressive inside as it is out.  Created by George Washington Vanderbilt II, he called the estate his “little mountain escape”.biltmore_house_at_sunset___asheville__nc_by_bulephotography-d4v0ugj

There is a record of this process and account of how the house was made, the history of it and the Vanderbilt’s and a history of all the contents within the house. One only needs to go to the Biltmore estate, library or the internet, to learn of it.  Some of what you will learn is how he came to create such a place in the middle of nowhere, inaccessible by road or rail. How he laid it’s foundations and completed all of it in just six years, then rested on the seventh year. You’ll come to understand how he filled the house with furniture and tapestries, hundreds of carpets, prints, linens and decorative objects from all over the world and especially Europe. Items,  that predate the foundation of the house by hundreds of years. How he planted a garden around it and filled it with the choicest of plants and herbs from around the world. How he brought in fruit trees and established a school of forestry.  He started there a poultry farm, cattle farm, hog farm and a dairy. It was a self sustaining estate that would later have groves and vineyards, fountains and parks and people from all over the world would come and walk through its halls and gardens and marvel at this architectural wonder.

The record says that he did this in six years, from 1889 to 1895.  That he had a railroad specifically built to the sight in order to bring material and men in to complete the task. The record shows that he hired an Architect from New York, a Richard Morris Hunt, to design his dream home. The record is authenticated by several of that day, and his descendants who have inherited this gift.  There are multiple copies of this record and a lot of witnesses, none of whom are alive today, who saw with their own eyes the creator, George Vanderbilt II and his creation.  Following is how a Darwinian advocate might see this.

It seems to me and with some reasonable assurance that it would and is quite impossible for someone, or anyone, to have completed such an undertaking in just six years.  After all, it took millions of years to form the Grand Canyon, and the Grand Canyon isn’t half as magnificent as that house.  Clearly the record is wrong or grossly inaccurate. It was probably changed by the National Parks service or the descendants of the Biltmore estate  in order to preserve their power and livelihood. They concocted this story in order to attract tourist and draw millions of people in.  People who would spend millions of dollars every year, just to walk in its gardens and marvel at its design.  All of these people are fools and have bought a pack a lies.  How on earth could you believe that someone would build a marvelous structure like this and then build it in six years?  The truth is and can be proven through scientific theory, that this house has been here for well over 3.5 billion years.  Samples chipped from the stone clearly show through carbon dating that it may even be older than 3.5 billion, maybe in the order of 4>billion.  Residue in the fireplaces, within the rooms show that the last known fires did not occur until well before the last ice age, some 350,000 years ago.  Of course all the books, lamps, electrical outlets, carpet, tapestries and other furnishings can be accounted for in the modern period, but to say that George Vanderbilt II put them there is jumping to wild conclusions.

As far as the flora that has come to inhabit this particular section of the geographical strata we call the Appalachian  ridge, we can only hypothesize.  Clearly a lot of the plant and flora are not indigenous to this area.  The growing sentiment is that this section of the Appalachian ridge was seeded by aliens from another world. Our estimate is that somewhere between 15,000 and 12,000 years ago, aliens from a warm earthlike planet, landed here, marveled at the huge house and decided to enhance its beauty with seeds of plants they had collected from other parts of earth, 1000’s of years earlier. In all cases, the written account of this estate does not equate with scientific theory and logical reasoning. 

Preposterous to believe such nonsense, isn’t it? But there are many such “experts” who readily believe this of God and His creation. They are equally not hesitant to dismiss the written record or question its validity.  They marvel at men’s ingenuity rather than God’s. I hate to tell them but the real creator of Biltmore was God!  It just took men thousands of years to finally put it up.

Darryl Fuller

Reinventing the Wheel

I’m not opposed to change, mind you, just wary of it. This past week I’ve succumbed to the inevitable by joining Facebook.  I feel like the last man on Earth who has resisted the dreaded bite of vampires or zombies, only now I’ve been overwhelmed and cannot resist the hordes at my doorstep. Okay, maybe I’m over dramatizing here a wee bit (I do not mean to imply that Facebook users are zombies or vampires) but some change in life is a bit, shall we say, frightening!  Now, to most of you out there who have been involved with this form of social media for some time, you’re probably thinking, “What is he so afraid of”? Pro 26:13  The sluggard says, “There is a lion in the road! There is a lion in the streets!”social_media_icons

Facebook is, as I’ve come to observe, a great way to communicate with friends and loved ones on a continual basis.  The exchange of ideas and events in one’s life to others no longer requires a correspondence through letters that may take a week or more turn around. People that were long ago friends or just mere acquaintances are, all of a sudden, my close friends.  I will, of course, use it to do my part in spreading and teaching the gospel. Perhaps, with God’s will, some friend of a friend or some associate will hear His voice through our exchanges and come to Him before it’s too late. In all such cases, Facebook should be a tool of letting our light shine, and strengthen one another through prayer requests and encouraging notes.  For this part of any social media, I say, “Amen!”

All of that being said, I will no longer seek to ridicule or lambast Facebook from the pulpit or the pen. However, I will, as it is my duty, seek to teach and encourage my friends and brethren to use this resource wisely and diligently, and understand its temptations and pitfalls.  Following are a few things to consider about the social media.

Social media enables the spread of unreliable and false information. 49.1% of people have heard false news via social media.1 On Sep. 5, 2012 false rumors of fires, shootouts, and caravans of gunmen in a Mexico City suburb spread via Twitter and Facebook, caused panic, flooded the local police department with over 3,000 phone calls, and temporarily closed schools.  Remember our Master’s words in John 8:44  You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. Whenever you post or read a post on Facebook, check your source of information carefully! Don’t be guilty of participating with Satan in spreading lies.

Students who are heavy social media users tend to have lower grades. Students who use social media had an average GPA of 3.06 while non-users had an average GPA of 3.82, and students who used social networking sites while studying scored 20% lower on tests.2 College students’ grades dropped 0.12 points for every 93 minutes above the average 106 minutes spent on Facebook per day.3 Two-thirds of teachers believe that social media does more to distract students than to help academically.4 Facebook may be a great way of helping your children stay in touch and communicate with other Christian children, but sacrificing their academics is not the goal. Pro 22:6  Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.

Social networking sites entice people to waste time. 40% of 8 to 18 year olds spend 54 minutes a day on social media sites.5 36% of people surveyed listed social networking as the “biggest waste of time,” above fantasy sports (25%), watching TV (23%), and shopping (9%).6  When alerted to a new social networking site activity, like a new Tweet or Facebook message, users take 20 to 25 minutes on average to return to the original task. In 30% of cases, it took two hours to fully return attention to the original task. We are supposed to demonstrate and practice good stewardship of the time God has blessed us with. These statistics bear truth to the fact that we are all pretty guilty of wasting our time socializing rather that evangelizing. Eph 5:15-16  Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise,  making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.

The use of social networking sites is correlated with personality and brain disorders, such as the inability to have in-person conversations, a need for instant gratification, ADHD, and self-centered personalities, as well as addictive behaviors.7 Pathological Internet Use (caused or exacerbated by social networking use) is associated with feelings of loneliness, depression, anxiety and general distress.8  The 2013 Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is evaluating “Internet Addiction Disorder,” for inclusion. A 2008 UCLA study revealed web users had fundamentally altered prefrontal cortexes9  due, in part, to the fast pace of social networking sites rewiring the brain with repeated exposure.10   This really shouldn’t come as a shock. The Bible clearly warns us that our mental state is to be guarded and filled with His goodness. Php 4:6-8  Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Social media causes people to spend less time interacting face-to-face. A Jan. 2012 Center for the Digital Future at the USC Annenberg School study found that the percentage of people reporting less face-to-face time with family in their homes rose from 8% in 2000 to 34% in 2011.11  32% of those surveyed were on social media or texting during meals (47% of 18-34 year olds)12 instead of talking with family or friends.  Our children are growing up in a world where personal, face to face, social interaction is being replaced by cyber-interaction. This in turn has profound effects on seeing other human beings as God-created, free moral agents with an eternal soul.  The urgency of sharing the Gospel wanes when all you’re dealing with is millions of pixels on a computer screen. Php 4:1  Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.

Social media posts cannot be completely deleted and all information posted can have unintended consequences. The Library of Congress has been archiving all public Tweets from Twitter’s Mar. 2006 inception forward.13 Facebook was named as a source of information in one-third of all divorces filed in 2011.

Criminals use social media to commit and promote crimes. Gangs use the sites to recruit younger members, coordinate violent crimes, and threaten other gangs. Offline crime, like home robberies, may result from posting personal information such as vacation plans or stalkers gaining information about a victim’s whereabouts from posts, photos, or location tagging services.

Social networking sites can lead to stress and offline relationship problems. A University of Edinburgh Business School study found the more Facebook friends a person has, the more stressful the person finds Facebook to use.14 According to a Feb. 9, 2012 Pew Internet report, 15% of adult social network users had an experience on a social networking site that caused a friendship to end, 12% of adult users had an experience online that resulted in a face-to-face argument, and 3% of adults reported a physical confrontation as the result of an experience on a social networking site. 15

Again, Social Medias such as Facebook can be used for good in helping us teach and preach the gospel to our friends and neighbors. As we go about using this great resource, let us do so mindful of the many dangers and pitfalls it presents for our families.  Become proactive in regulating its use with your children and yourself.  Remember always to let your light shine, for when others read your posts on Facebook; they’re reading from a servant of the Master.

Darryl Fuller

References

 

Pros and Cons.org

1 Kristin Marino, “Social Media: The New News Source,” www.schools.com, Apr. 16, 2012

2 Paul A. Kirschner and Aryn C. Karpinski, “Facebook and Academic Performance,” Computers in Human Behavior, Nov. 2010

3 Jimmy Daly, “How Is Facebook Affecting College Students’ Grades [Infographic],” www.edtechmagazine.com, July 2, 2012

4 Leslie Lanir, “Digital Information Overwhelms and Distracts Students,” www.decodedscience.com, Nov. 4, 2012

5 Victoria J. Rideout, Ulla G. Foehr, and Donald F. Roberts, “Generation M2L Media in the Lives of 8- to 18-Year-Olds,” www.kff.org, Jan. 2010

6 Mark Dolliver, “Social Networking: A Waste of Time?,” www.adweek.com, Oct. 7, 2010

7 ConsumerReports.org, “Facebook & Your Privacy: Who Sees the Data You Share on the Biggest Social Network,” Consumer Reports, June 2012

8 K. Wolfling, M. E. Beutel, and K. W. Muller, “Construction of a Standardized Clinical Interview to Assess Internet Addiction: First Findings Regarding the Usefulness of AICA-C,” Journal of Addiction Research & Therapy, 2012

9 Tony Dokoupil, “Is the Onslaught Making Us Crazy?,” Newsweek, July 16, 2012

10 David Derbyshire, “Social Websites Harm Children’s Brains: Chilling Warning to Parents from Top Neuroscientist,” Daily Mail, Feb. 24, 2009

11 USC Annenberg School Center for the Digital Future, “Special Report: America at the Digital Turning Point,” www.annenberg.usc.edu, Jan, 2012

12 Joann Pan, “Tweets at the Tables? More of Us Mix Social Media and Food,” www.mashable.com, Feb. 29, 2012

13Matt Raymond, “How Tweet It Is!: Library Acquires Entire Twitter Archive,” www.blogs.loc.gov, Apr. 14, 2010

14 David Gutierrez, “Facebook Is Making You Miserable, Scientists Find,” www.naturalnews.com, Nov. 29, 2012

15 Lee Rainie, Amanda Lenhart, and Aaron Smith, “The Tone of Life on Social Networking Sites,” www.pewinternet.org, Feb. 9, 2012

 

Exchange

In order to obtain the goods and services that one desires, some form of exchange is required. The Dollar is, of course, our means of exchange in this country, the Pound or Euro in Europe, the Yen in Japan. The value of such exchange is determined by several factors, but for the space of this article we’ll stick to the basics, supply and demand. When we (the United States) decide to print more Dollars, supply is increased and thus the value is diluted. Over a period of time this causes inflation in prices, interest rates increase and demand is stymied. In short, even when printing more money, more accountability or cost is extracted. There are no free lunches! Everything in life is this way.

If you want to lose weight and get in shape, you have to pay the price: reduce calories and exercise more. If you want to have more money in the bank; spend less, save more.  There are no shortcuts or gimmicks to get around this.  There are plenty of pills and get rich schemes on the market that offer to make you rich or lose all your weight overnight, and some do work, but there is a price to pay. You can go to the Doctor and he’ll prescribe medication to help you lose weight, but a lot of these have side effects that are costly.  To lose weight quickly without exercise or self control will still cost you something. There are plenty of ways to make money fast and furious without hard work, but again, there is a price to pay. A baseball pitcher can throw 100 mph fastballs for awhile, but by the time he’s 35 his arm is shot. His price for a few years of pitching in the big league, an arm and shoulder that will pain him till the day he dies.  Mohammed Ali was one of the biggest sports figures of my time. He often proclaimed, “I am the greatest”. One only needs watch him today to see the terrible price he is still paying. At the Olympic Games’ opening ceremony last summer, he was invited to participate in the torch relay. He needed someone to guide him the entire time. He could not even direct his own footsteps.

Most of God’s word is devoted to this understanding; for one’s action, there is an equal or opposite reaction.  God is telling or warning us of the reactions to our actions. He says that trespassing His will has a price:death!   Rom.6:23 For the payoff of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.  In order to free us from this debt, He paid the price, the death of His son.  Just about all that we see in the Bible reflects this exchange.  The price of David’s sins; the slow destruction of his earthly household.  The cost of Paul’s atrocities in persecuting the church; Paul being persecuted in proclaiming the gospel.  The children of Israel didn’t drive out the ungodly as they were commanded; they were later driven out by the ungodly.

The message that we should glean is to remember every day, Whatever action and decision that I make will have an equal of greater reaction.  If I choose to follow Jesus and obey His commands, the reward is great and everlasting.  If I choose to follow Satan and listen to his lies, the price I’ll pay is astronomical and non returnable. Matt.6:24 “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise  the other. You cannot serve God and money.

David once bought a piece of land on which to make sacrifices to God. It would eventually be the very site on which Solomon’s temple was built. The man who owned the land, Araunah, wanted to give it to David. David however insisted: 2 Sm.24:24 But the king said to Araunah, “No, I insist on buying it from you! I will not offer to the Lord my God burnt sacrifices that cost me nothing.”

These dynamic laws of exchange not only apply to the physical, but are paramount in the spiritual as well. Paul told the Galatians that if they would pay the price to the spirit, they would reap from that spirit.   When we set out to devote our time, energy and earthly goods to the service of God, God repays us accordingly. When we pay the price in study and meditation to God’s word and spirit, our spirits are equally rewarded.  If we only come to church once in awhile, or only read his word once in awhile, we’re really not paying a fair or reasonable price.  We get what we paid for. Fram Oil Filters in an ad years ago said it best: “You can pay me now, or you pay me later,  but you’re going to pay me!”

Darryl Fuller