Month: December 2015
And, the ‘new series’ to compliment the new category ‘Question the Magic (QTM)’ is ‘STM’ (stuff that matters).
There is a flurry of stuff, especially in tech, flying at us. Most of that is white noise, but all of it matters because I’ve learned from people (like my ghost writer) that you are either travelling down the slippery slope to bondage under corporations and government, or freedom and civil rights. You are on a path right now.
Today this article really caught my attention. I already have Owncloud running in my home to make sure I have a convenient way to access my personal data. I know this system is amazing and ‘somewhat open source’ base on my limited review of the licensing and companies behind it. It’s by far the ‘most free’ and ‘most cool’ one out there. I also used to use Pogoplug, but became quite concerned that although the machine was physically in my home, you had to log into the machine through the pogoplug servers…. that seemed to me at the time like the wrong path to travel. I even hacked it and made it work with a different OS but it never worked awesome.
So what does it all do? It’s having your own ‘cloud’ but having it safely in your house, instead of the possibly corrupt households of others like google, apple, and the like. Right now most people are syncing their personal lives, usually unknowingly, onto computers of other people. Everything they have said and done for the last few years is sitting on someone else’s computer. Not good.
This new ‘team’ of a well-funded corporation like Western Digital has a lot of potential – depending on the ethics of WD. I honestly don’t know anything about them. The ‘corporation-meets-free-software’ relationship works very well for the free Ubuntu project with Canonical as one of it’s funding machines to make sure a good thing doesn’t fade into ‘just another good idea’ category.
If WD really gets behind owncloud, and I were the corporation of Alphabet soup, I’d be very, very concerned.
And this will tie into another ‘STM’ article that I will publish either tomorrow or the next day depending on availability of coffee.
As part of my ongoing ‘battle against the spirit of christmas‘ which started years back now, I continue to dig in deeper each year. This year the fire was truly kindled when our family decided that we may not go to our church’s ‘christmas service’ next week as a form of ‘personal separation’ (call it protest if you want but we aren’t feeling any hostility) from a practice that we believe has pagan roots.
As this is a big decision with possible implications for us and the church, I continue to study the topic. Today I came across perhaps one of the best articles defending Christmas for Christians. This article nailed down most of the items and did a fairly good job trying to defend them from a biblical perspective. I will, below, take the point, summarize it, and then comment on it:
The word ‘Christ-mas’ means ‘Christ’s Mass’
The author uses this as kind of a ‘proof’ of its Christian origin, saying that ‘Christianity took this idea from its Jewish roots’ and even goes so far as to suggest that there is a possibility that ‘the pagans may have adopted an already existing Christian celebration’. Unfortunately all other sources I’ve read up to this point suggest unanimously that Christmas didn’t exist anywhere near the first church until somewhere around 300AD. Most sources agree that it was put in by the Roman Catholics. And, just the fact that he pointed out the ‘mass’ is a good proof that this entire Christmas thing is rooted in ‘something outside of the Bible’. Mass is very much associated with the catholic church. Even if mass is considered an ‘ok ritual’ the question is ‘why the focus on Dec 25th’ and the ‘magnification of the day’? And the question remains for me “Is Christ the reason for the season or was a pagan celebration slapped with a Christian-looking label and finessed for the church to try to make it fit?” But this final quote is a good quote, and a good one to support Christmas as being ‘ok’ for Christians to join: “We hold this day holy, not like the pagans because of the birth of the sun, but because of Him who made it.”
This section, honestly, is so weak that I didn’t read it twice. Almost every source I read and most academia are in agreement that Jesus was likely *not* born anywhere near December 25th. But this author worked very, very hard to build a big defence story for keeping it on Dec. 25th – which, is kind of interesting to me….
This section was also quite good. I also know that throughout the Bible the tree has significance and often positive. “Cedars of Lebanon” and such terms of strength. His Hosea 14:8 scripture find was a great one. However, it doesn’t wipe away the very most key point of the Christmas tree debate. It’s not about the tree, it’s about the ritual. No one would deny his tree support scriptures. There are also other wonderful symbols in the Bible like Jesus being the Living Water and the Rock. And the Holy Spirit being like a flame and such. So a tree may represent strength and the evergreen more so. No problem. However…. what happens at Christmas is the tree is (traditionally) chopped down, dragged inside, and decorated! Come again? First of all, I’ve always thought that God did a great job creating the fir tree by itself and made it look pretty great. I’ve not felt the urge to decorate them. Then there are songs like “O’ Christmas tree’ which, quite frankly, should creep out any born again believer. Of course, it also doesn’t wipe away Jeremiah 10 which seems to be painting a pretty vivid picture of a ritual of idolatry related to a tree. Read this and you will see that God is not a fan of this practice. Try as hard as you want, but you really do have to fight hard to deny that this tree thing is steeped in something ungody that has crept into homes and even churches. I remain firm against the tree, the more I study.
Interesting to read, interesting to learn about but I still see it as a ‘pagan tree concept brought into the church’. It’s very interesting to me how hard we fight to keep this tree in our homes! To me, this might be the biggest marvel.
Again, the author takes and focuses on the ‘christian history’ of the wreath but going back further shows that the wreath can be found in pagan rituals. I don’t have a big issue with this one so far because it kind of reminds me of the crown of thorns Jesus wore – but what has that to do with his birthday? Not much…. so… strike that one, too.
As a side note, I also tripped across this nice summary of mainly what I have come to believe about Christmas.
The current debate that we are having with some leaders at our church is whether or not it’s ok to ‘celebrate Jesus’ in this way and at this time or whether by doing so we are getting in bed with a ‘pagan thing’. Here are some bullet point questions that we are grappling with moving forward:
- Did the first century church ‘do Christmas’?
- Does it matter if the first century church ‘did Christmas’ or are we allowed to tack on some new things as we move forward?
- Is there any biblical basis for celebrating Christ’s birth?
- Did Christ Himself ask us to focus on it as one of the most important days of the Christian calendar or is that something we have done?
- If a ‘day’ was originally dark, pagan or otherwise (ie. satan’s birthday to be vivid) does that day hold any power over us?
- Can a ‘day’ be dark, demonic, dedicated to satan or otherwise?
- Is there a spiritual benefit to celebrating Christmas?
- If it were decided that Christmas was even ‘partly pagan’ is it ok to keep ‘doing Christmas’ for the sake of the unity of the church (ie. not going so might send them fleeing to other churches)?
- and more.
A few analogies that are in the middle of being debated are:
- If one were to take AC/DC’s Highway to Hell song, keep the music, and change the words to “Highway to Heaven’ is the song now redeemed and ok for church/worship? The analogy here is that the ‘Christians’ have taken a pagan holiday and then thrown a ‘Christian cover’ on it.
To counteract that example given, the following was given:
- If a building used to be a whore-house, night club, casino, or concentration camp execution chamber, could it be now used as a place of worship for the children of God to gather and worship? The analogy here is that yes it’s ok to ‘redeem a day’ if the motives are for Christ.
And so because of these two ‘truths’ I have yet been able to conclude my position. Both seem to be true and applicable to christmas.
It will be most interesting to see where this week goes.
I will attempt a post-Christmas review.
- Article by a 15 year ordained minister with his top ten reasons why he doesn’t do Christmas. The comments at the bottom of this post are also very thought provoking.
- This is a good article, from a reliable source. The article tries very hard to explain the history of the celebration of Christmas yet, even here it falls short of convincing me that Christmas deserves our focus. In fact, oddly it further cemented to me that history backs the pagan perspective.
Is it better to meet in a church building or be part of a house church? I have asked myself this question for over 10 years now. Perhaps it’s because all the ‘downsides’ of brick and mortar churches is repeated to me every seven days like clockwork, but it’s due season for me to spit my thoughts out here.
Please also understand my heart before reading. I want nothing more than to be as effective for my God with the limited time I have left. The purpose of writing this is that I’m hoping to make some big life decisions that will glorify the God who saved me and increase my effectiveness for Him on this earth. Please also note that I would like nothing less than any further division in the body of Christ. I hunger for the day when all the brothers and sisters will worship together in preparation of the wedding feast.
However, I am compelled. It’s like a bitter scroll in my belly…. so let’s get into it, shall we?
To begin, I thought it would be best to create a simple pros and cons bullet list for each which could be edited over the years. Perhaps someone might read this post and even feel compelled to participate.
Clarification: please note that the usage of ‘house church’ or ‘home church’ does *not* mean watching your brick and mortar church’s sermon on a live internet stream from the comfort of your bed.
Pros and Cons of Traditional Brick and Mortar Church Systems
- Big Brother Approves. Is approved by governments, municipalities (and all those creeps who spy on you) and should therefore be left alone until official government sanctioned persecutions begin.
- Unilateral Theology Controls. The theology can be ‘kept in line’ by the pastor or trained clergyman (or whatever title they get) and rogue spiritual renegades can be shut down before they mess up the faith of others.
- Nice Building. Convenient church building designed for the assembly of large groups together
- an unbeliever might feel more comfortable showing up to a church to hear about God rather than your living room or patio (have not surveyed to find out)
- Separated Children’s Church. Yay “Children’s Church”! (get those noisy kids outta there!)
- Cell Group Option. Can implement ‘cell groups’ to counteract the con list below and simulate a ‘house church’
- Potentially Local. Could be ‘local’ if the brick and mortar building happens to be near your house. Or, you could seek out such a church.
- Building Rental Option. Could rent space in existing building instead of buying or building a church to save funds. Also, sharing with another congregation, like we do, is possible. But that’s another entire series of ‘pain’ not to be discussed here.
- Big Brother is Watching. Is perfectly known by governments, municipalities (and all those creeps who spy on you), and when official government sanctioned persecutions begin, every single member who has made a charitable donation can be found and ‘dealt with’ even if they don’t happen to show up that week for the cattle herding. If you don’t believe me, try searching out your favourite Canadian church here and realize that your SIN number is connected to this charitable tax number. You can run, but you ain’t hidin’.
- Unilateral Theology Stream. The theology of the person delivering the messages might be messed up. In fact, the person him or herself might be messed up both spiritually and personally. Their theology and theirs alone will likely be the only teaching you get
- Shallow Relationships. Many believers find the large, convenient building of the church to be cold, disconnected, and impossible to find relationships in, even with the help of friendly ‘greeters’ and ‘fellowship champions’ (it’s easy to get lost in a crowd). It’s very difficult to build deep relationships with your brothers and sisters. In our case, we have a great meal every single week, prepared by the members yet it is only a rare occasion where the deep things of God are discussed and lives are penetrated. The depth of penetration into each others lives, from my experience, is average at best, but even superficial as a norm where it is not uncommon to not even communicate with someone for half a year.
- Atmosphere of evangelism. An unbeliever might feel more comfortable showing up to your patio or living room to hear about God rather than a scary church where their only goal is to preach damnation and sin (that’s what many think)
- Separated Children. Almost 100% of brick and mortar churches have “Children’s Church” which is, essentially, firing them off to a separate place. Should children be separated from worship with their parents? The debate is on…
- Cell Groups as a Program. Although there may be a “cell group” system in place, the physical brick and mortar con list (ie. costs, drive to main meeting, etc, etc) remain and the cell group is really just another “program” from the main church subject to the same folks and agendas.
- Waste of Time and Gas. In our case, we drive nearly 40 minutes each way to go to a building which is composed of probably 50% members who live where I drove from! This is folly for the following reasons:
- it blows gas into the air which makes our air suck
- the gas costs money which could have been pumped into your favourite ministry. On today’s standard for a quick calculation, there is no way that trip is going to cost me less than $5 each way or $10/week if we just go to one meeting. My wife goes twice so that’s $20/week. $20 x 52 weeks/year is $1040.00. Read that again. Now think about the World Vision ads and think that you could have kept *THIRTY FIVE* children alive last year instead of death by famine. I’m just saying. This one hits me real hard with kids of my own… I almost want to say ‘shame on you’ but I know that we are all doing the best we can with what we know. Carpooling would obviously reduce this but still…
- unless your stereo is turned off, there are no smart phones or tablets, and you are hyper-focused on speaking to each other, it’s a waste of time
- Locally irrelevant. With a house church you can penetrate and focus on your geographical area. Realtors call this ‘farming their area’. Is there any hope of us farming a 25 km area for Christ? Do I give a spiritual rats behind about a community 25km from my house? It’s so far away you might as well call it a missions trip! What I see in the Bible when I read it, is ‘hyper-local’. The people who meet together also live there and serve there, with the exception of the missionaries, evangelists, etc, who are always moving on.
- Geography over Theology. In order to be as local as possible, if you agree that local is better, you are forced to accept a church and its beliefs because it’s close to your home, not because it’s close to what you believe.
- Performance Atmosphere. No matter how you design the brick and mortar building, it always ends up looking like an stadium or auditorium where one person is up on a platform (and usually their musical rock stars as well). It’s hard not to view the entire experience as a ‘performance’. Those who need accountability will often find none and when questions come up, one is forced to ‘save it for later’ rather than simply ask. One might ask ‘how do we reach the deeper parts’ like this? Also, except for when preaching to the sinners is happening, I don’t see any example of this format in the Bible…
- It’s expensive. If you happen to have $500,000 to $3,000,000 to build a basic local church, that’s just the beginning of your pain. The operation costs can be fierce. With a house church the infrastructure is already in place and being paid for. The ‘landlord’ can be paid with milk and cookies or a kind word of encouragement.
- Sitting Ducks. If you read the end time prophecies at all, tying your place of worship to a piece of land seems, at best unwise. Should persecutions arise, all the enemy has to do is read the sign on the billboard and show up Sunday morning with their thugs.
- Immobile. As they say in real estate, it’s impossible to move land. What if something changes where, say, 75% of the congregation moves 30km away from the church? Too bad you just spent $3,000,000 on that fresh building with the big sound and screen…
- Tradition Rules. What if God wants to do something new and fresh? It seems like just walking into a brick and mortar building breeds an expected protocol that looks something like this: meet a greeter, take your seat, kid’s truck off to children’s church, rock band plays a few songs, choir sings a few songs (to appease the oldies, of course), the Lord’s prayer is repeated, the Apostles creed is repeated, some opening prayer happens, the sermon happens, communion may or may not happen, closing prayer, blessing, the people chat, the people eat (optional), the people go. Repeat seven days later. In fact, some churches even write this order into their bulletin board so newcomers can be sure to fall back on the paper if they don’t know how the program is going. Ok. No secret, this one really bugs me. I don’t see God as being so small that we can put him into our program or box. What if God says “Keep the music going. I like this.” Would you look at the clock and follow the bulletin? Or would you listen to God. I think in a house church there is a much greater chance of listening to God, but – I could be wrong. I’m not against order, but I’m against the order being above our God and having it tell us where to go rather than God.
Well, I feel like I’ve missed some so this will probably be a work in progress. I would love for others to throw some comments in here so that I and others can make the best choices as we move into the future.
May all of you readers be blessed wherever you are, though. I love you in Christ.
Normally in the past, it was very easy for me to flash from android to Ubuntu for phone. I just used the usual ubuntu tutorial and it worked.
Then, somewhere in the middle I switched to Cyanogen mod (android) as the ‘lesser of two evils’ while I was waiting for bluetooth to improve.
I heard today that everything is working so I went back to flash and boom. Snagged. It woudn’t recognize adb devices when I was in fastboot mode.
I searched and tried a hundred commands but the answer turned out easy. I just had to switch to recovery mode, not fastboot mode.
How you do that is on your green robot screen you just push the down arrow (volume) until the screen says ‘recovery mode’ at the top and then press the usual power button at the top right.
Then you go back and follow the install instructions from this command:
ubuntu-device-flash touch --channel=ubuntu-touch/stable/ubuntu
All good in the hood.
EDIT: All was NOT good in the hood. I got stuck in a perpetual Cyanogen Mod recovery mode loop. It turns out that nothing else worked for me. The ubuntu flash process from the above command worked. I could see all the images going to the device. But it would continually reboot back into CM.
The solution? Oddly, all I had to do was add back in the –bootstrap at the end of the command and everything worked instantly. So the command looked like this:
ubuntu-device-flash touch --channel=ubuntu-touch/stable/ubuntu
I suspect this is not ideal because the official tutorial shows clearly you should only need the bootstrap option at first install only but mine always needs it. If anyone knows what’s up it would be cool to know. Please comment! Otherwise, we’re back to Ubuntu – hopefully forever.
The existence of aliens has been debated for a long time. It’s time to end the debate.
Aliens are real – and they are among us today.
However, the true aliens have escaped us because of those deceptive fake aliens (those green things on TV and in the movies). It is the goal of the fake aliens to make us feel that there is hope in them (external) when in fact, when the truth is that hope lies within (internal). It is the goal of the fake aliens to divert our faith to think that salvation is found in them, but it is the ‘true aliens’ themselves, and them only, shall be saved from the certain end times destruction.
And I suspect that you might be one of them – a true alien.
I know very well a man who, since he was a very young boy felt like he never really fit in. As a boy he would speak of there being ‘something more out there’. He would ask questions like ‘what happens to people when they die and where do they go?” The people around him never had confidence in their answers. They had nice fluffy answers like ‘Everyone goes to heaven, but not really bad people.” He was then left to ask himself whether or not he was going to make it. On more than a few occasions he ended up in a secluded place, far from the city lights, and far from the noise. He looked up into the vastness of space. He saw the order. He saw the majesty. Deep inside of himself he *knew* – beyond the shadow of a doubt – that this was all planned. There was order here. Although he grew up having never heard about a ‘god’ as creator of all of this, he saw and noted the absurdity of the ‘monkey-to-man’ theory. Deep within himself he knew something was wrong. He could feel the deception. He could feel the lies. He could feel them everywhere. He felt like he was different – like he didn’t belong.
At age 14, while watching TV, a string of advertisements came on. I remember him explaining how he could feel the ‘manipulation from the ads’ and how it was ‘changing him’. From that day forth he never turned it back on. At around that age he asked his best friend if he ‘believed in God’. He didn’t but he invited him to join his family at a standard Christian church. His dad always provided candy and bubble gum afterwards so regular attendance was no problem. I remember him explaining that even at this church he felt that ‘something was wrong’. And so he quit church, too.
At public school he observed that the ‘cool people’ weren’t people that he could endure – the superficiality and drive to be the coolest was as obvious to him as a plastic mannequin. But he also didn’t fit in with the academics and their insatiable and vain pursuit of intellectual superiority. He found his temporary place somewhere in the middle: with a group of people who similarly didn’t quite fit in with the established social systems.
Throughout those years, drugs, sex, rock and roll were used as a hopeful avenues to find his position and his place in the universe. He moved from relationship to relationship, drug to drug and song to song, only to find himself more empty, more lost, and fitting in less than ever before. His ‘searching for god’ was replaced with deep sadness and hopelessness as were his desires to ‘change the world.’ He began to notice how everything was broken, nothing was perfect, and everything was messed up – especially himself.
Not only did he know for sure that he didn’t fit in, but now he had simply accepted his place in this foreign land that wasn’t meant for him – like how a prisoner of bonds might accept the whip of their taskmaster.
And then it dawned on him.
The reason why he didn’t fit in and why he was never satisfied is because he himself was an alien!
This was not his true home!
And he longed so deeply for his home.
Only then did he remember a high school student who pulled him aside on the last day of school and told him that a man can be ‘born again’. Then it seemed as it were dark folly but now an intriguing proposition.
Only then did he remember how his friend had not only separated himself from their unholy gatherings of hopelessness but it was obvious his entire character of who he was as a person was changed -forever – and for the better.
The young man met him alone and asked him what happened to him and why he was so different now. He revealed that he was an alien. At first it seemed weird and grounds for psychiatric evaluation but he listened on.
He explained how the world was lost in darkness but that it was not the way it was designed nor created. He said that God – the God of the Bible – had created everything and a certain way but the current system was corrupted and destined for swift destruction. He explained that it was designed perfect and designed for mankind. At that point our young man reflected on those moments gazing at the majesty of the stars, and the breadth of the creatures of the world and the beauty of nature and it all started to make sense. He went on to explain that the reason he never fit in was because he wasn’t supposed to fit in. In fact, fitting in guaranteed certain destruction in both this earth and the world to come. It turned out that this young man was correct about his long suspicion of deception.
He was deceived.
He was alienated from God.
He was an alien in the earth wandering to and fro trying to figure out where to go in darkness.
‘And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness’ – 1 John 5:19
‘Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart’ – Ephesians 4:18
How backwards everything was!
The young man immediately received Jesus as his Lord and Saviour and was born again as described in John 3.
Right away, he realized that he had just become a ‘true alien’.
No longer could he hang out with his old friends who loved their sin and darkness.
No longer did he fit in with the world’s systems.
He was alienated from the world, but, God drew very, very close to him. So close, in fact, that nothing else mattered. Knowing where he came from, why he was in the world and where he was going totally transformed his life.
Complaining was replaced with thankfulness.
Hopelessness was replaced with hope.
Deep unforgiveness was covered by love.
Pride was washed away as all his sandy foundations were knocked out from under him and a new foundation of rock was established.
He was now a true alien – called to be separate from this world.
And his joy was made full.
Maybe you, too, are finally ready to be saved. God doesn’t want any of us to perish in this destruction. He wants all of us to become true aliens in this world.
Come to Jesus and become a true alien in this world.