Friday, December 30, 2011

Dangers of Online Socializing

Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: (Ephesians 4:29, 31 KJV)

Social MediaKeeping in touch with friends, colleagues, and people we know used to be about making phone calls or meeting up once in a while. These days, however, staying connected often relates to the social media—how we live the digital lifestyle of technological convenience through using applications on the Internet. We need only to press or touch a few keys on our mobile phones, tablets or computers, and we can communicate, share text, photos, videos, music and other media files to anyone in the world.

According to TheSocialMediaGuide.com, one of the many definitions of social media is "any media form that displays itself to an open public and encourages interaction between the host and all observers." This definition sums up two key aspects of the social media. The first is the use of any type of media form for sharing over the Internet, and the other is interaction. Social media, therefore, involves the sharing of media files, and participating in activities on the Internet through blogging, commenting, social networking, instant messaging, and the likes.

The ability to socialize and interact with people online through the social media is reckoned by many as one of the greatest breakthrough since the introduction of computers and information technology. Despite the many advantages of social media, however, there are drawbacks which few people realize. These drawbacks include the monitoring and tracking of our behavior patterns through what we post, share online, and the sites we visit to allow related advertisements to lure us into other commitments and sites.

Besides unsolicited ads, another drawback of the social media is the danger of sharing too much about our private lives to the public. Online sharing can affect others or how others view us. Our bosses, colleagues, relatives, and friends, for example, may think of us as weak or ill-mannered reading some of our status update on social networks. Sometimes, leaks through words of mouth can also spread and cause damage to relationships because of people sharing what they read from our social media postings.

The Bible warns us not to let corrupt communication proceeds out of our mouths, but to let what is good and edifying minister grace to the hearers. We are to put away bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking, along with all malice (Ephesians 4:29, 31).

This warning and instruction from the word of God, although refers primarily to the use of speech, is also applicable to how we should communicate on the Internet. We should not let negative words proceed from us, for such words can hurt others and expose us to ridicule. Remember, we are to give account every careless word we use on the day of judgment (Matthew 12:36).

If, therefore, we have a message of encouragement for the people, we should share this instead (Acts 13:15). Whether we are using videos, images, music or other types of media files, let us always share only whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, or praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8).


Dear Lord, forgive us for too often sharing to the world things that do not edify or minister. Help us not let our bitterness, wrath, anger, thoughtless words, and private lives hurt or mislead others. Remind us constantly Lord to share words of encouragement and things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable or praiseworthy. Protect us from the vices that constantly attempt to lure us away from You or into unnecessary commitment. Do not allow us to fall prey to the evil one O Lord, but guide us by Your Spirit to use tools like the social media carefully and wisely for the extension of Your kingdom.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas 2011

MERRY CHRISTMAS!
Merry Christmas
LET US CELEBRATE
THE BIRTH OF CHRIST!


"BEHOLD, THE VIRGIN SHALL BE WITH CHILD
AND SHALL BEAR A SON, AND THEY
SHALL CALL HIS NAME IMMANUEL,"
which translated means,
"GOD WITH US."
~ Matthew 1:23 (NAS) ~

Friday, December 23, 2011

A Life Decision: Testimony of Joyce Schneider

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV)

Joyce SchneiderI experienced an abortion in 1985. At that time, I was unmarried, alone and ashamed to tell my family. I was involved with sex, drugs and alcohol, and ended up pregnant and confused.

I had been brought up in the church, but I did not have a personal relationship with Jesus. As a result, I rebelled early in life and went off on my own path, which took me down many rocky roads.

After my abortion, I spent the next 17 years of my life filled with guilt and shame, hating myself for what I had done.

My abortion affected all aspects of my life, including my relationships with others and my own self-image.

In September of 2000, I gave my life to Jesus, and asked for forgiveness for having that abortion. And although I knew that God had forgiven me, I could not forgive myself.

I lived in a world of constant suffering, denying myself the pleasures of enjoying the family that God had given to me.

In July of 2002, I was finally able to accept God's amazing grace, mercy and forgiveness, and let go of the guilt and shame of my past.

The freedom the Lord gave to me that day set me free!

The burden of that terrible sin was gone. In its place, was the desire to share my story with others, with the hope that I might encourage someone to reconsider this life changing decision and the consequences it would have on their tomorrows, as well as the encouragement that there is hope and healing through the love of Jesus for our past mistakes.

God has taken the pain of my past and turned it around for His purpose and in the process, my life has become full!

And He is ready, willing and waiting to do the same for you!

Take that step of faith ... you deserve to live the life God planned for you!

It's all because of Jesus. Joyce Schneider

Friday, December 16, 2011

Internet Piracy

You shall not steal. (Exodus 20:15 NAS)

Cloud ComputingUsing applications on the Internet is probably not something new to most of us. We frequently access, download, store, and share files over the Internet via computers, mobile phones, tablets, and other devices. All these are possible because of personal cloud computing.

Personal cloud refers to the adoption of Internet computing for personal use. In computer network diagrams, the Internet is symbolized by a cloud, hence the term ‘cloud computing.’ Cloud computing relates to the applications and files we access and operate over the Internet. These applications and files are usually stored at a remote location, accessible on the fly through mobile, hand-held, or other computing devices. The remote location may be our home, a data center, free space on the Web, or anywhere else connected to a storage device, such as a computer, server, or network attached storage, with network access to the Internet. We can upload and download data, music, videos, and other media files to and from this remote location, as well as share them with friends, family and colleagues anywhere, anytime.

Today, with cloud-enabled devices like iPhone®, iPad®, Android®, and other smart phones, sharing and accessing files stored in remote places is easy and convenient. Such convenience, however, can give rise to a certain danger. We tend to share files with others without much thought, even those we are unsure if they belong to the public domain, or are copyrighted.

According to an article 'Piracy: Legal vs. Illegal Downloading' by the Federal Trade Commission at KnowWhereTheyGo.org, "downloading copyrighted material without expressed permission, (that is, without paying for the works), is illegal." However, “downloading music and movies from the Internet, under certain circumstances, is legal.”

Too often we have taken for granted and assumed all things on the Web are free. We frequently download ‘free’ things from the Internet, and distribute them to others via file sharing and e-mailing. Such an act is not much different from theft, if the materials we send are copyrighted. Storing and sharing things that are not ours is stealing, and can affect the livelihood of the rightful owners.

Unlike the dangers involving the upload and download of materials over the Internet, there is something of spiritual equivalence we can safely do that is quite the opposite. We can pray to God, and be assured our prayers rise up before Him (Revelation 8:4). That’s an ‘upload’ we can count on God to hear! We can receive God’s overflowing blessings poured down on us that will keep us having all sufficiency in everything, if we willingly give to God’s work (Malachi 3:10; 2 Corinthians 9:7-8). That’s a ‘download’ full of blessings!

So, what should we do? We should not steal (Exodus 20:15). This means we should always ensure our uploading and downloading over the Internet or the cloud is legal. Never take for granted to think everything available on the Internet is free, or share materials we are unsure of their intellectual property rights. Give willingly to God’s work; bring our prayers to God; and expect a down pouring of God’s blessings from the clouds of heaven.

Receive our prayers O God as we bring them to You, and pour down Your blessings on us as we willingly give to Your work. Forgive us Lord for sometimes taking for granted to assume everything is proper and good without verifying and paying for what is due. Grant us wisdom Lord to know how to differentiate between free sharing and stealing, that we may not unwittingly commit a wrong and deprive others of their livelihood.

Friday, December 9, 2011

A Tangled Web

For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment; (2 Peter 2:4 ESV)

Tangled WebToday, a good friend and a sister in Christ grasped my hand in one of hers, and my pastor's hand in the other, and as we formed a circle she prayed for our church and our staff. She might not have known, but God surely did, how apropos was one line that crossed her lips, and how much of a blessing it was to me.

Last night as I stood on my deck, I contemplated a spider web seemingly sleeping in his web. The light from the den shone bright on the intricate weaving strung between the window and an outside wall, and I studied the webbing paying little attention to the spider perched in its corner. That is until a flying insect dive bombed straight at the web just centimeters from the waiting spider.

The beast sprung into action. It was upon its prey in a fraction of an instant. I watched, amazed, as the spider played that insect like an instrument; tiny legs moving to its internal rhythm as the insect was held captive, motionless, and bound tightly in silk. The spider moved away for a moment, then dashed back to reinforce the insect's wrappings. Satisfied that the prey had been subdued, he moved away and again was still.


As my sister prayed today that Christ would snare satan in His web and bind him like a spider does his prey, the image of my spider came rushing back. I have seen the results of a spider's dominance before, the mummified cocoons of its prey, but have never seen the dispatching of its victim in action. I know that I was shown this working of nature for this very time and this very purpose.

Now I have a glorious picture of Jesus, my Savior and my Lord, ruling over satan, binding him as effortlessly as that spider was master over the bug. Catrina Bradley

Friday, December 2, 2011

Filtering Spam

Then he said, "Oh may the Lord not be angry, and I shall speak only this once; suppose ten are found there?" And He said, "I will not destroy it on account of the ten." (Genesis 18:32 NAS)

Stop Spam!Removing spam e-mails consume much of my time—a chore I dislike to do. Despite having an anti-spam filtering application installed, I still receive about one to two hundred spam e-mails every day. The filtering application can be trained to recognize various types of e-mails to move to a quarantine or junk folder, but the routine of doing that eventually overtook me, and I have given up trying. Receiving junk e-mails has now become part and parcel of life. These days, I would just take a quick glance into my e-mail Inbox, check for senders who are unfamiliar or subjects that do not interest me, and then multiple select them for trashing.

"Over the years, I’ve discovered many [anti-spam] methods that worked for a while, but never permanently," said Farhad Manjoo who wrote the article 'An Empty In-Box, or With Just a Few E-Mail Messages?' in The New York Times. "For a while, I set up elaborate filters meant to automatically categorize every incoming message according to who sent it ... But eventually every finely honed trick to tame my mail would collapse, and I’d backslide into a messy, undisciplined in-box."

After much experimentation with various experts' tips, Manjoo wrote that she has finally found several basic rules that can help reduce e-mail anxiety—the feeling of guilt for being late in responding to e-mail messages. The rules include turning off all auto-notifications that alert us to incoming mail, setting aside an hour or two to respond only to important messages, and moving all the rest to a separate folder.

Like me and Manjoo, many of us are not unfamiliar with spam e-mails. Time and again, we see them increasing because senders of such e-mails are constantly finding ways to outsmart e-mail recipients from filtering spam. We do whatever we can to eliminate them, but we may sometime reach a point we give up trying, pay little attention to them, or simply discard them. Ignoring things that bother us, such as spam e-mails, unfortunately does not help us solve the problem.

Suppose we have a ten dollar bill in a heap of counterfeits. Would we willingly let the bill be thrown away just because it is among counterfeits? Not unless we are unaware or have too much to spare! Similarly, the Bible mentioned a time before Sodom and Gomorrah was destroyed, that Abraham asked God, "Will You indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked?" God’s answer was clear. He would spare and not destroy even on account of ten righteous (Genesis 18:23, 31-32). What do we think, if a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go and search for the one that is straying (Matthew 18:12)?

Whether it is a ten dollar bill among counterfeits, or ten righteous people among the wicked, we should never 'trash' them or ignore them because of the overwhelming fakes or evil around. Just as we continue to read our e-mails amid the spam, we should also continue to focus our attention on saving the lost, even if only one of them has gone astray. Instead of being overwhelmed by too many things vying for our attention or feeling guilty for not responding fast enough, let us purposefully set aside time to attend to the more important and most needful first. As for the rest of the things that keep us from our main focus, let us move them to the attention of another for follow-up, prayer and intercession, or to our To Do list for later attention.


Dear Lord, forgive us for sometimes neglecting to pay attention to the needs of others at the right time. Help us set our priorities right Lord, that we will purposefully set aside time to minister and bless others, as well as snatch the yet unsaved from the wicked. Do not allow us to be overwhelmed by the things happening around us, so we may not backslide into undisciplined focus. Tame us as You will O God, that we may not collapse or fall, but stand firm and immovable in the faith all the days of our lives.

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