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February 2010
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April 2010

The Social Media Revolution

Social Media

Click here to watch an educational video on the growing impact of social media.

Here are just a few statistics: 

  • By 2010, Gen Y will outnumber Baby Boomers
  • 96% of them have joined a social network
  • 1 out of 8 couples married in the US last year have met via social media
  • Facebook added 100 million users in 9 months
  • If Facebook would be a country, it would be the world's 4th largest
  • 80% of companies are using LinkedIn as their primary tool to find employees
  • 80% of Twitter usage is on mobile devices. People update anywhere, anytime. Imagine what that means for bad customer experiences?
  • In 2009, Boston College stopped distributing e-mail addresses to incoming freshmen
  • YouTube is the 2nd largest search engine in the world
  • There are over 200,000,000 Blogs. 54% of bloggers post content or tweet daily.

Could this be bigger than the Industrial Revolution?

 


Star Gazing

Stars I have always loved the night sky. The array of stars and planets, and even our own moon, make for fun gazing. I remember as a kid driving out in the country and being stunned at how bright the sky can be.

David wrote about this in Psalm 8 ...

When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers — the moon and the stars you set in place — what are people that you should think about them, mere mortals that you should care for them? Yet you made them only a little lower than God and crowned them with glory and honor. [Psalm 8:3-5. NLT]

A few years ago my wife bought me a telescope from an on-line auction and I'm just getting into using it a bit more. We live a little further out of town now so the night sky is brighter than what it is in suburbia. You can even see a great deal with the naked eye and even more with a basic pair of binoculars.

There is an excellent computer program called Stellarium for those who like to learn a bit more about the night sky. You can download it here for free. Click here to access a web site which is a good beginner's guide to astronomy.

The Lord counts the stars and calls them all by name. How great is our Lord! His power is absolute! His understanding is beyond comprehension! NLT [Psalm 147:4-5]


 


Healing (Pt.3)

RedWhat About Those Who Aren't Healed?

Every human being has been born in sin, and all of us are suffering the effects of the curse of sin. The ultimate effect of sin is death. This is the last enemy to be destroyed (1Cor.15:21-28). Jesus died to redeem us from sin, sickness and death (Gal.3:13). It is important, however, to understand the kingdom theology of the 'already' and the 'not yet' [refer to the writings of George Elton Ladd and Gordon Fee].

* 'Already' sin has been atoned for but 'not yet' do we see sin completely eradicated from the world or our lives.

* 'Already' death has been defeated but 'not yet' do we see death totally destroyed.

* 'Already' sickness has been taken by Jesus himself, but 'not yet' do we see sickness totally removed from the earth or our lives.

* 'Already' Satan is a defeated foe, but 'not yet' do we see his final punishment and judgment.

The second coming of Jesus will complete and finalise all that Jesus began at his first coming. Then there will be an age without sin, sickness, suffering, death or Satan's opposition.

Right now we are all getting older (graying, less agile, more frail, etc). Unless the Lord comes back in our lifetime (which he may), we will all die of something. The heart will stop beating sometime. Only the final generation will escape death in this life (1Thess.4:15-18). However, in reality, for the believer, death is ultimate healing! To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. Also, healing is not permanent. As far as we know, all people whom Jesus Himself healed eventually died.

Sometimes God heals and sometimes He does not. Jesus did not heal everybody. No person can give any fixed answers as to why. Only God Himself knows. He does what He does because He is God.Our responsibility is to pray and ask God to heal and help us (Jas.5:13-16), then to trust God with the outcome. Our attitude is not one of fatalism (“What will be, will be”), but one of faith (“We trust You, Lord, whether you deliver or not!”). When it comes to healing, let's have the attitude of the three Hebrew children who were facing a fiery furnance - "God is able to heal ... God will heal ... but even if not, we will still serve him (Dan.3:17-18)!"

P.S. For further helpful teaching on the subject of healing, I highly recommend the book Power Healing by John Wimber.

Healing (Pt.2)

RedPraying for Healing

All believers are called to pray for the sick. Here are some principles (not formulas) for praying for the sick.

1. Ask questions about the person’s need. Ask, “Where does it hurt?” or “What do you want me to pray for?” This is not a medical interview in which we probe for medical history or technical details. It simply helps us to know what the need is and how we should pray. Even Jesus never made assumptions about what a person wanted from him. To a blind man he said, “What do you want me to do for you?” (Mark 10:46-52). Other questions might include “Are you in pain right now?”, “How long have you had this?” or “Have you seen a doctor or specialist and if so, what did they say?”

2. Try to discern any root cause of the sickness. This next step is to clarify the root of the person’s problem. It asks, “Why does this person have this condition?” This determines the type of prayer needed to bring healing. We must also look beyond the natural surface reasons and be open to God giving us revelation through the word of wisdom, word of knowledge or the discerning of spirits. Symptoms in one area of our lives may be caused by problems in other areas. Be sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading and insights. Of course, don’t go overboard and try to probe to deep unnecessarily.

3. Choose an appropriate prayer. This step answers the question, “What kind of prayer is needed to help this person?” We must seek to know God’s specific will in the situation. This is the source of our confidence (1 John 5:14-15). There are two basic types of prayer: (a) Prayer directed toward God (intercession). Intercessory prayer involves you going between them and God out of deep concern for the person. We stand before God and ask for the person’s healing. Prayers should be simple and straightforward - “Lord, I ask you to heal John of this condition.” In some cases, you may want to get the person to pray for themselves. This is especially important in areas of unforgiveness and bitterness. (b) Prayer directed to a condition or sickness based on words from God (command). Jesus often used the authoritative word when healing people (Mark 9:25). We have been given power to break bondages and release God’s blessing (Matt. 16:19). We can declare or announce the truth of God’s Word. For example, you might pray, “I break the power of this condition in the name of Jesus.” Prayers like this are usually very short yet effective.

4. Pray in faith. Pray in faith, believing that something is going to happen when you pray for them – physically (immediately or gradually), emotionally (strength, comfort, joy) and spiritually (close to God, trust). Have an attitude of faith, hope and love. Lay hands on them (don’t push or lay your hands heavily on anyone), pray and possibly anoint them with oil (Jam.5:14 and Mark 6:13). Be sensitive to the person and the Holy Spirit. Be aware of your hand motions, tone of voice and volume of speech. Don’t do anything that would distract the person being prayed for or others nearby.

5. Check for any improvement or change. As you’re praying, watch to see what is happening in the person. Ask further questions to see what God is doing and if there has been any change. Ask them how they are feeling or if anything has happened. Pray again if necessary. Some people get completely better, others show considerable improvement, others some improvement and others none at all. Not all healing is instantaneous (see Mark 8:22-26; 5:8). Even Jesus prayed twice for a blind man to be healed. Jesus’ promise to believers is that the sick will get well or "recover” (Mk.16:19). At times this may be gradually. When people are not healed, reassure them that God loves them and encourage them to seek more prayer. Divine healing is sometimes a process.

6. If appropriate, follow up the person later. You may want to: ask them to get back with you as to how they are; refer them to someone else for further help; encourage them to continue to seek prayer; encourage them to continue to look to God for their healing; encourage them to get some medical advice.

Through God’s love and wisdom, we can be used to bring tremendous blessing to people’s lives. Not everyone who is prayed for is healed (see 2 Kings 13:14 and 2 Tim.4:20, two verses I've never heard a sermon on). However, virtually everyone who receives prayer is helped in one or another. Ministering Christ’s loving compassion is just as important as healing itself.

[Tomorrow - What if someone isn't healed?]

Healing (Pt.1)

RedAny visit to a hospital is a vivid reminder of how many people in our world struggle with sickness and suffering every day. The affects of The Fall are evident all around us.

So what about healing? God obviously still heals today but many people, including Christians, struggle with sickness. What's up with all of this? Here are a few thoughts on this important subject.

The Bible and Healing

When it comes to healing, we must begin with an accurate understanding of God’s character and nature. The Bible teaches us that, when it comes to our need, God knows (Prov.15:11. Psalm 139:1-10), God cares (Ex.34:6-7. 1 Pet.5:7), God is able to help (Jer.32:17, 27. Matt.19:26), and God is willing to help (Matt.8:2).

In response to this, there are three different camps in the Christian community:

1. “God knows, cares and is able but is not willing. This is not the time or the age;”

2. “God knows, cares and is able and always willing to heal you. If you’re sick and you’re not well, if you have a physical need and you’re not healed it’s because you lack faith. It’s always God’s will to heal and so there is something wrong with you if you aren’t;”

3. “God knows, cares and is able and is willing unless he has a higher purpose.”

The first camp (called “Cessasionists”) are strongly Biblical, but keep God in a box, in that they don’t believe that God still heals or does miracles today. The second camp (extreme “faith” teaching) has the strength of faith but the weakness of always putting God in a box to move a certain way without exception. The third camp has the strength of “balance” but must avoid a fatalistic attitude of “whatever will be, will be”. Our responsibility is to pray and ask God to heal and help us (Jas.5:13-16), then to trust God with the outcome.

The Bible teaches that God’s will for our life, generally speaking, is “health” (See Ex.15:26; 23:25. Psalm 103:1-3; 107:17-20. Prov.4:20-22. Is.53:4-5. Matt.8:16-17. 1 Pet.2:24). God’s provision is complete. He has done all that we need for life and godliness. He has made provision for our wholeness – spirit, soul and body. God desires health and wholeness for each one of us, as we walk in obedience to Him, so we can fulfil our life purpose.

However, like salvation, good health is not automatic. There are things we need to do to position ourselves to have the greatest possibility of good health. We need to have faith in God as our healer (Hos.4:6. John 8:32. Heb.11:6), obey his commands (Deut.28:58-60), maintain a healthy diet (Ex.16. 1Tim.4:4-5. Lev.11. Deut.14), exercise, rest and relax regularly (1Tim.4:8. Matt.11:28-30), and deal quickly with negative emotions (Eph.4:27-31. 1Cor.11:28-31. Matt.5:23-24).

There is no set pattern or formula in the Bible for healing. For instance, blind Bartemaus called out to Jesus and Jesus simply spoke to him and he was healed (Mark 10:46-52). Another blind man was not instantly healed. Jesus took mud and saliva, mixed it together and put it on his eye. As he went his way and did what he was told (“go and wash in the pool of Siloam”), he was healed. God’s healing power and anointing fell on a natural substance and flowed through it (John 9:1-12).

We can conclude that, “The pathway of healing that God has for you may be different from the one he has for someone else though you may have similar health problems.” Also, “At times God’s healing is spontaneous and instantaneous. Other times healing is a process and requires patience and perseverance as our healing is gradually manifested.” It could be an instant answer to prayer, a radical change of diet, a change of lifestyle or even a medical operation. If you are sick, pray for God’s direction, believe God’s promises to you from His Word, have others pray for you and talk to a reputable doctor.

We need a balance of faith (God’s part) and wisdom (our part). We should avoid extremes in either direction – having only wisdom (no faith) or only faith (no wisdom). lack of wisdom can be very dangerous. There are many sad stories of families with a loved one with a terminal illness who never even considered or talked about the possibility of death. Anyone with a terminal illness needs to exercise wisdom and talk about it with their family and loved ones. Then continue to believe God in faith for your healing. This is not unbelief, but it can save a lot of hurt and disappointment.

Also, prayer for healing does not make doctors and nurses obsolete. Sometimes natural means are appropriate (see 1 Tim.5:23), sometimes God chooses to heal miraculously, sometimes he doesn't and we often aren't sure why.

[Tomorrow - Praying for Healing]


Avatar

Avatar A few weeks ago, I went with my family to see Avatar, James Cameron's sci-fi epic - in 3D. What a cinema experience it was. The graphics and special effects are amazing. No doubt this is a huge step forward in movie-making, similar to what happened when The Matrix was releasedback in 1999, with its slow motion action scenes. Avatar is now the highest grossing film of all time.

Some Christians have jumped on the overt neo-paganism spirituality of the movie. I can see where they are coming from. Others have taken a more balanced approach. I can see where they are coming from too. in his book, Reel Spirituality: Theology and Film in Dialogue Robert K. Johnston shows us that we can see the fingerprints of God in all of culture - including art, film and literature.

On the positive side, I thought the film had a strong creation care theme, which is something we need to talk more about. It was also a story of redemption - laying down your life for the benefit of others. I like that too.


2010 Global Atheist Convention

Atheism Last week I had a call from a newspaper reporter asking if I was worried that the 2010 Global Atheist Convention to be held in Melbourne was sold out. I said, "Of course not." People of faith have nothing to fear in doubt or skepticism. No need to picket or boycott events such as this (though some Christians are seeking to take action about it). I believe that dialogue and discussion can be helpful in all areas of belief.

One of the main speakers is Richard Dawkins, one of the world's most influential atheists. I have read his book The God Delusionand it only strengthened my faith. It is written in very emotional language and he makes sweeping generalisations about religion and faith that can't be validated. In no way did it shake my faith or give reasonable objections to the classic reasons for believing that there is a God (see my previous posts on this topic here).

Yes, a lot of damage has been done throughout history in the name of Christ - but never in the spirit of Christ. But let's not forget the incredible good that has also been done through people of faith in every sector society - education, health, arts and literature, family, business, welfare and government.

I think that Dawkins should model a little more of the tolerance he promotes, rather than being such a militant atheist trying to eradicate everyone else's belief.

P.S. Melanie Phillips has a good article in The Australian worth reading.


Billy Graham's Suit

Billy Graham Here is an inspiring story about Billy Graham that was recently passed on to me.

Billy Graham is now 90 years old with Parkinson’s disease.

In January 2000, leaders in Charlotte, North Carolina,  invited their favorite son, Billy Graham, to a luncheon in his honor.

Billy initially hesitated to accept the invitation because he struggles with Parkinson’s disease. But the Charlotte  leaders said, ‘We don’t expect a major address. Just  come and let us honor you.’ So he agreed..

After wonderful things were said about him, Dr. Graham  stepped to the rostrum, looked at the crowd, and said,  ‘I’m reminded today of Albert Einstein, the great physicist who  this month has been honored by Time magazine as the  Man of the Century. Einstein was once traveling from  Princeton on a train when the conductor came down the  aisle, punching the tickets of every passenger. When he  came to Einstein, Einstein reached in his vest pocket. He  couldn’t find his ticket, so he reached in his trouser pockets.  It wasn’t there, so he looked in his briefcase but couldn’t find it.  Then he looked in the seat beside him. He still couldn’t find it.

The conductor said, ‘Dr. Einstein, I know who you are.  We all know who you are. I’m sure you bought a ticket.  Don’t worry about it.’

Einstein nodded appreciatively. The conductor continued  down the aisle punching tickets. As he was ready to  move to the next car, he turned around and saw the great  physicist down on his hands and knees looking under his  seat for his ticket.

The conductor rushed back and said, ‘Dr. Einstein,  Dr. Einstein, don’t worry, I know who you are No problem.  You don’t need a ticket.  I’m sure you bought one.’

Einstein looked at him and said, ‘Young man, I too, know who I am.  What I don’t know is where I’m going.”

Having said that Billy Graham continued, ‘See the suit I’m wearing? It’s a brand new suit. My children, and my grandchildren are telling me I’ve gotten a little slovenly in my old age. I used to be a bit more fastidious. So I went out and bought a new suit for this  luncheon and one more occasion.

You know what that occasion is? This is the suit in which I’ll be buried. But when you hear I’m dead, I don’t want  you to immediately remember the suit I’m wearing.  I want you to remember this:

I not only know who I am .. I also know where I’m going.’


Connecting Skills - 7. The Art of Encouragement

Encourage Jesus was a great encourager. He was always lifting people up and inspiring them towards God’s purpose for their lives. We see this in the Gospels but also in the book of Acts where Jesus appears to Paul in a dream or vision a number of times to encourage him during times of pressure and difficulty.

Most of your best friends are those who encourage you. You don't have many strong relationships with those who pull you down. You avoid these people and seek out those who believe in you and lift you up.

Everyone needs and responds to encouragement. People do better work and put forth greater effort under a spirit of approval than under a spirit of criticism. Encouragement brings out the best in people. The way to truly motivate and develop people is through encouragement and through believing in them. People tend to become what the most important people in their lives think they will become.

Encouragement helps us rise above difficult situations. Words of encouragement have great power. Trouble and trial don't destroy people, only the lack of care and encouragement during those times. When it is there, it gives us the energy to go through.

Here is what the author of the book of Hebrews says ...

Heb.10:24-25. Make opportunities to encourage others by meeting together, consider ways in which you can encourage and continue doing it.

Who can you encourage today?


Connecting Skills - 6. The Art of Loving Confrontation

Confront Jesus took time to lovingly confront people when they needed it – his disciples, the religious leaders, and the crowd.

We all have blind spots – things about us that we don’t see. We need others to show us these areas and help us to grow and change. The apostle Paul tells us to learn to ‘speak the truth in love’ to one another (Eph.4:15). We all need truth-tellers. The truth can set us free. Some people speak the truth but not in a loving manner while others are so loving that they never speak the truth.

We all need to be lovingly assertive, when appropriate. Avoid being overly assertive which leads to aggression. Avoid being under-assertive, allowing people to walk all over you.

Confrontation is not easy. In fact, it can be very difficult. We all fear being disliked. We may be afraid of making things worse. However, usually it is the attitude in which you confront that makes things worse, not the confrontation itself. We may fear rejection. We may find it difficult to share our feelings. We may think that confrontation will destroy love and trust. Actually, if done correctly, confrontation can build more love and trust into the relationship.

We can confront without hurting. We must not hang on to our anger and hurt. We need to take responsibility for our feelings. Share your feelings and thoughts honestly and openly. Always seek to maintain the relationship. Have the courage and the consideration to confront lovingly.

Assertiveness and confrontation always need to be done with the right spirit. We should not be either overeager or too hesitant to confront. We should confront, not because it makes us feel good, but because we are committed to the quality of our relationships. Confronting with the right spirit comes out of having the right goal in your confrontation.

Is there someone you need to have an open and honest conversation with? Don't leave it any longer. Ask God for wisdom to speak the truth in love ... as soon as you can. I think you'll be glad you did.

[Part 7]