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Electronic Gods

This will likely be my last blog of 2018, and it’s befitting that it’s on a Sunday after church because of the subject.

As many of you know, I serve in my church on the production team. For those of you who don’t know what that is…it’s the lighting, sound, camera, and all of the behind-the-scenes activities to broadcast services both live and online. When I started, it was for the purposes of lighting, but there was a greater need for people to run cameras, so that’s how I serve now. Normally, I am on a mobile camera onstage getting closeups of instruments and musicians, so I rarely get an opportunity to see what goes on in the services themselves. Recently, though, I’ve also been added to serve on a stationary camera in the auditorium.

On Christmas Eve, we had two services instead of having them on Sunday. At some point in the middle of the service, we had a candle lighting segment where the members held candles during part of the worship music. I had an opportunity to be in the sanctuary during this time videoing the event, which was quite beautiful I must admit. But I digress…

While I was trying to find interesting angles to film, I couldn’t help but notice the number of people who were on their cell phones in the middle of the service. It was blatantly obvious because of the sharp lighting contrast between the blaring phone screens and the warm candlelight.

I remember thinking at the time how horrible it was that those people couldn’t put their phones down for an hour and a half worship service at Christmas! They were checking e-mails, messages, and I would imagine every social media imaginable. In other words, their minds were on everything but the service which was about Jesus’ birth and Christmas worship music.

Fast forward to today. I was on the stationary camera on the right side of the auditorium. It’s on an elevated platform to get it above the members and to have a better focus on the worship leaders. This allows me to see the congregants really well.

During the three services that we have, there were people on their phones. Many of them have chosen to use a virtual bible rather than using a printed one, which if that’s what they want to do, I guess that’s OK. I don’t personally like it for several reasons. For one, it doesn’t allow you to read other parts of scripture at the same time very well, and sometimes the Holy Spirit will take me from one page to another when reading it. Secondly, you cannot take notes. Forget any notion of virtual notes. It’s not the same thing. Finally, it’s a distraction. Between having to scroll to the next verse as well as the constant temptation to check any messages or notifications, it’s an easy tool for the devil to distract.

That’s exactly what I observed today. There was one teenager sitting next to my platform who was originally using the virtual  bible app on his phone. But then it quickly changed to scrolling through music libraries, etc instead of focusing on the message. I saw SEVERAL people on their phones all within a short radius of each other. I could tell that one was reading text messages and answering them. Others were just browsing. Every one of them focusing on something other than the sermon.

Now I’m going to take a moment to backtrack a minute. I know I said that if people want to us virtual bibles, that’s OK; however, I remember thinking today that I wonder exactly how many people actually can find a bible passage in a real bible. Instead of having the books of the bible neatly listed where they can just select the appropriate passage, they would have to rely on their knowledge of how they are ordered in the bible. I remember having to memorize the books of the Old and New Testaments. It’s how I grew up, and to this day, I have not forgotten them. But I wonder how many cannot. It’s like having bible tabs but electronic.

Now before you write me and wonder why I wasn’t paying attention, you have to remember a couple of things. First, we have rehearsals, and often we hear everything before everyone else does. So by the time the service comes around, it’s not new to me as it is everyone else. Secondly, I also get to hear it every service. Yes, they are all slightly different. Who wants a cookie-cutter sermon?!? However, they are all still basically the same. Third, I actually do pay attention to the message. And any chatter in the headsets. And what’s going on around me in the sanctuary. You have to learn to multitask to be in production.

Now getting back to my original thoughts, I remember looking at the people in the services this morning as they watched their phones. And as I came home, the idea for this blog hit me like a brick in the head. I thought of them as electronic gods.

Read what scripture says:

“You shall have no other gods before Me.”

(Exodus 20:3, NKJV)

This is the first of the Ten Commandments. Most people associate this with an idol that is carved from wood or stone, and yes, those are other gods too. However, God addressed those in the Second Commandment specifically.

“You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God…”

(Exodus 20:4-5a, NKJV)

Notice that it is here that scripture says not to carve something and worship it, as was the practice of other Ancient Near Eastern cultures. And as I read these one day, it hit me that God meant something specific here when He phrased these commandments as He did.

And it occurred to me that in a broader context, the First Commandment meant anything that superseded God Almighty Himself. In today’s modern culture that can equate to any of the following:

  • Money
  • Sporting events whether televised or participating in them
  • The Internet
  • Food
  • Anything to which you are addicted
  • Video Games
  • Social Media
  • Television / Movies
  • Mobile Phones
  • Music
  • Books
  • Career
  • Friends / Family

I realize the last one on the list may be controversial, but I mean when you choose to spend all your time with those people rather than spending time with God. Basically, it means anything that is more important to you in your life than God is another god.

So as I watched these people today, I realized that they were so addicted to their phones and what came out of it than they were God. That’s true with much of society. If you don’t believe me, then look around you as you drive. You will notice people all the time viewing their phones while they drive (even if it’s illegal to do so) or they will view it at every traffic light when they are stopped. Observe the majority of people in a restaurant. They often have tables full of people, but no one is conversing with each other. No one is building relationships. They are on their phones. They are more focused on them than they are on the people who are choosing to spend time with them.

You cannot build a relationship that way! It destroys relationships!

Now, don’t misunderstand me. I am not suggesting that phones are evil. Neither is anything on the list above (unless you are addicted to something you shouldn’t be). There is nothing wrong with books, music, movies, etc. But scripture teaches moderation. It teaches balance.

Today’s sermon was on making a choice for God rather than choosing something trivial such as acceptance or anything else. The guest speaker made the point that when we just do what God asks, we please Him, just as we please someone with a gift at Christmas if we give them exactly what they ask for instead of something else.

My point to this, is that society as a whole has bowed its knee to the electronic god called the phone/tablet/computer. Electronic pulses of light supersede the Light of the World…Jesus.

People have chosen the phone over building a relationship with Him. That includes those I saw today in church who were more concerned about what their friends were saying in social media than they were what God was trying to tell them in the word…in the message…in the worship.

And we wonder why marital relationships are crumbling? We wonder why things are falling apart around us?

It’s because God is no longer guiding their thoughts, their lives, their opinions, or anything else. The phone and everything it has access to is doing that.

So what do we do? For one, we put the frazzling things down, especially at church or any other time we are trying to worship. I put mine on silent, not vibrate, when I am going to pray. I refuse to allow outside distractions stop that process.

Put them down when you are with your friends, your family, and anyone else who is important to you. Focus on building a relationship with them, and with God…not on what’s the garbage du jour.

If every Christian sets this example, then maybe…just maybe…it will have an impact on society. At the very least, it will teach our children that God is the most important aspect of our lives, not a palm-held device. It breaks the cycle…one family at a time…and it helps establish a better foundation for our futures…their futures.


Tomorrow, The Most Dangerous Word

I realize that for some people reading this that the title may be controversial at best. I am sure that some people may argue that there are other words more dangerous than the word “tomorrow,” and while I respect other people’s opinions, I simply disagree.

I believe that the word “tomorrow” is the most dangerous and most powerful lie the devil uses against humanity. Let me explain why… Continue reading →

Desire Awakened

Today’s sermon was exactly what I needed to hear. I am constantly in awe at how God manages to reveal Himself…how He chooses to speak to my heart.

I have been in fervent prayer over His will for my life. Each day I find myself pursuing Him more deeply than the day before. I am the farthest thing from perfect, but my heart beats so passionately for God. I do not know how else to explain it, and unless you have the same passion for Him, I do not know if you can fully understand what I am saying. Continue reading →

Almost a Year

It has been nearly a year since I posted anything to this blog.

Today, it is Christmas, and as I type this, I am listening to peaceful Christmas music and sipping coffee. So much has happened this past year. I have endured some of the most relentless and violent assaults from the devil that I have ever seen in my lifetime. I have also seen God’s promises constantly coming alive in my life to overcome each obstacle in ways that only He could have ever done. I will have other blogs touching on that at a later time. Continue reading →

Happy New Year, 2017

As we say goodbye to 2016 and begin 2017, it is my prayer that it be a year filled with God’s blessings and happiness in greater abundance more than last year. It is my prayer that you grow stronger and closer to God and that you find what He wishes to do with your life this year. May it be a year of prosperity, health, and peace!

Instead of setting unrealistic goals and expectations, I encourage you to seek God first in everything that you do. Let your goals be His goals and His expectations become your expectations! Let Him guide your steps every minute of every day, and He will not fail you! Continue reading →

Power

This is likely my last post for 2016, so I thought I would exit the year with an exciting topic.

In scripture, there are four Greek words that translate into a single English word…power. Now this is with a caveat in that there are many derivatives of these words, each with its own uniqueness in how it applies to one’s understanding of a particular verse. For the purposes of what I want to post here, though, I am limiting it to the four root words which are exousia, dunamis, kratos, and ischus. Continue reading →

Christ

I’m going to make this post very short because it also serves as the basis for many hours of sermons. However, because there is a disconnect with the actual translation of the word, I felt that something needed to be written here if for no other reason but to springboard into a longer post later.

The word Christ occurs almost 540 times in the New Testament (see Strong’s 5547 [Greek]). If the New Testament uses the word that many times, then there must be a reason for it, right? Often it is used either with Jesus’ name or it may be frequently found alone. So what does this word mean then? Continue reading →

Merry Christmas, 2016

As we celebrate this holiday with family and friends, let us not forget the real meaning of Christmas. It is not about the food or presents. It is not about greed and commercialism.

Today, we celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ without Whom none of us would have hope! He is the real reason for Christmas!

May this day be a joyful and safe one for your family and you this wonderful day!

Merry Christmas, from our ministry family to yours!

God Walked Through The Blood (Part 3)

You can read Part 1 or Part 2 if you have not already.

When I was meditating on the covenant that God made with Abraham, I was visualizing the broken pieces lying on the ground and the pool of blood that God walked through. This was the moment that the Holy Spirit shook me to my core with other imagery. He flashed forward in scripture to the very scene that I just described the day Jesus was executed. His body was broken, and His blood was spilled out. Continue reading →

God Walked Through The Blood (Part 2)

You can read Part 1 if you have not already.

Scripture paints a grotesque scene as it describes in vivid detail what happened to Jesus in the moments prior to and leading up to the Cross. All four gospels tell that Jesus was scourged before His execution. Let me take a few moments to explain this process that I have been studying throughout this year. Continue reading →

God Walked Through The Blood (Part 1)

There are three areas of the Old Testament that I really enjoy reading…the story of Abraham, the story of Moses and the Exodus (I enjoy reading the entire book), and the story of David. With each of those key figures, God established covenants that are pivotal in scripture. In seminary they are referenced as Abrahamic, Mosaic, and Davidic. Prevailing seminary theology teaches that they are separate and distinct with each one standing alone. While I do agree that there are specific elements that are unique to each protagonist, I see these covenants as a continual thread where God makes a promise about the future and seals it in blood, which scripture says was necessary (see Hebrews 9:16-22). The common denominator throughout these is the covenant and is what fascinates me the most. Continue reading →

Laodicean Epistle

I was reading the book of Colossians today. There is apparently a Pauline epistle that we are missing from scripture. According to Colossians 4:16 we read:

16 Now when this epistle is read among you, see that it is read also in the church of the Laodiceans, and that you likewise read the epistle from Laodicea.

Colossians 4:16 (NKJV, italics added for emphasis)

I’ve read this before, and each time it sort of surprises me. Paul had written an epistle to the Laodiceans that he wished to be swapped with the Colossians once each church was finished reading the one marked for them.

I wonder what happened to it? Given that the Church at Laodicea is one of the seven churches being admonished by Jesus in Revelation for being lukewarm, perhaps they destroyed it out of spite. Perhaps it was just lost or destroyed through the ages. Or what about the possibility that it is still yet to be discovered?

Now wouldn’t that be exciting?! I wonder what this epistle said and what extra information might be found in it. It’s something curious to think about.

Early Morning Shave

Pretty much all of my life, I have been clean shaven. Combine that with my normally short haircut, and it makes me look younger than my age (not that I’m old in the first place).

I must confess that every now and then, I end up going through some March hare notion that growing out my facial hair in some form or fashion will make me look older…or more refined…or wiser beyond my years. Most people say it just makes me look stupid. Continue reading →

Heaven’s Witness Relocation Program

I am convinced that Heaven has a witness relocation program.

I think that Adam and Eve had to have their names changed. Think about it.

It’s because of Adam the world got messed up. The reason why guys has to work so hard to make a living. Every guy who gets there is going to want to ask him, “What on Earth were you thinking?”

Because of Eve, women had pain in childbirth and monthly cramps. Women are gonna want some ‘splainin. So are the guys since they had to suffer in their own rights each month. Don’t believe me? Ask any PMS poster child, and he’ll tell you.

So I think when we get to Heaven we’re going to find a lot of people looking for Adam and Eve.

Only to find out their names have been changed to Bob and Francis. They are the only ones who are going to have a protection detail.

I can see it now. Everywhere they go, they will be surrounded by angels with sunglasses who are talking into their wings.

Otherwise, Bob and Francis…AKA Adam and Eve…are going to have a lot of people constantly asking them questions for all of eternity!

 

One Man’s Treasure

One day a very wealthy man died and went home to be with the Lord. Immediately, he began bargaining with God about taking something to Heaven with Him. The Lord told him that he’d have to leave everything behind.

Adamantly, the man stood his ground and kept hounding God about taking something with him. They went round and round, back and forth until finally the Father, weary of the fight, agreed. God said, “If it will get you to stop arguing, you can bring one bag with you.”

The man, now happy he’d won, got to the pearly gates, where he was met by Saint Peter. Peter also began to argue with the man telling him that he couldn’t take anything into Heaven.

Again, the man stood his ground and told Peter that he had special permission to bring his one bag into Heaven with him. The two argued for a while until the man told Peter to call God and ask Him. So Peter called the Throne Room to double check, and after a short time returned to continue the conversation with the new arrival.

“Well,” he said scratching his head, “I’ve never seen this before but the Father said it was OK, and if it’s OK with Him, then it’s OK with me.” So he let the man into Heaven carrying his bag.

The man proudly carried it under his arm. After all, he was the only one to pull off such a feat. News of his arrival and his possession quickly carried through all of Heaven. People stopped to stare at him as he walked past them.

Finally, the apostle Paul came up and started talking with him.

“Sir, I hope you don’t mind, but it is no secret what you’ve managed to accomplish. Never before has the Father ever let anyone come into Heaven with anything, much less a bag full of something. Would you mind, please, if I took a look at what was in your bag?”

The man, who was grinning ear to ear, was eager to show off his wares. “Why no, not at all. I don’t mind a bit,” he said. So he quickly opened up the bag and presented it to Paul.

When Paul looked into the bag, it was filled with solid gold bricks.

Paul, who had a puzzled look on his face, checked the bag two more times before speaking again.

“Uh, Sir? Why did you bring pavement?”

Time Wasters

I once heard a preacher recall something his father, who was also a preacher, said to someone. The elder pastor remarked, “If someone accused me of killing my own grandmother, I wouldn’t take the time to deny it.” The junior pastor then elaborated that the devil is skilled at putting little “fires” in our pathways in order to get our focus off the raging “forest fire” that is in front of us. He continued that if we ignore the smaller fires and keep looking at the big one, the little ones will eventually burn themselves out without our having to do anything. His dad’s comment illustrated his resolve not to let trivial things that didn’t matter get in the way of ministry. Continue reading →