Monthly Archives: May 2014

90% Wrong but Going Strong

wiki-wrong

Since its launch in 2001, Wikipedia has become the most popular general reference site on the internet. But trusting Wikipedia for important things, such as medical diagnosis, is probably a huge mistake!

Did you know that, according to a study by Campbell University, 90% of all medical entries on Wikipedia include “factual errors?” Yikes! Nine out of every ten entries had information that ranged from serious “clinical implications” to potentially lethal results.

Some of the more glaring examples included:

  1. Potentially lethal information on how to diagnose and treat high blood pressure;
  2. Necessary medications that were inappropriately listed as dangerous for children;
  3. Potentially harmful side effects that drug companies had removed from references!

A study published in the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, shows that “as many as a quarter of women have misdiagnosed themselves on Google. A survey of 1,000 women in 2012 found they often wrongly diagnosed themselves as having breast cancer, thrush, diabetes, high blood pressure and asthma.”

And the worst part? Studies show that 70% of doctors and medical students admit to using Wikipedia as a source! That means 70% of doctors and medical students are using a source that has a 90% false positive rate.

But I wonder how similar this problem is in the church. Would Christians stand for preachers who had “factual errors” 90% of the time they speak about the Bible? Where do we get the information we use to preach and teach the Word of God? Do we spend time in the Word? Or have we become Wikipedia-ites too? Imagine what the false positive rate is on Wikipedia for matters of salvation!

Jesus longed for His followers to be steeped in truth: to know it and to be immersed in it: “Sanctify them by the truth, your word is truth” (John 17:17). Our message depends upon our accuracy. It is so important that Christians be found “trustworthy” (1 Corinthians 4:2).

Maybe it is time to quit letting Wikipedia be your witness. “Wiki said,” won’t present you as one who is “approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the Word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). Search the scriptures…and see if the things you hear and speak “be so” (Acts 17:11).

Don’t Call Me…I’m on the List!

man-phone-angry

After a long day, you finally get to sit down to eat a meal with your family, and RING! Someone wants to sell you something you neither need nor want. Why doesn’t somebody come up with a way to stop those calls??? Well they did…sort of.

Somewhere, out there, there is a list called the “Do Not Call” registry. And on that list are names of people who have said that they don’t want any more telemarketing calls. If your name is on that list, you are supposed to be left alone. But recently, people on the “Do Not Call” list have been getting calls…and they are annoyed!

Turns out, not everyone plays by the rules. And when telemarketing firms don’t respect the registry, they face fines. For example, Sprint, who has been warned in the past about violations, received the uncomplimentary award of being fined the “largest fine in ‘Do No Call’ history,” $7.5 million dollars.

Now, to Sprint, that is a slap on the hand at best. They had $8.9 billion in sales in the first 3 months of this year. And, there can be little doubt, that some of that was due to their aggressive sales tactics. So, they will pay the fine and move on.

But even if $7.5 million isn’t much of a hit to Sprint’s bottom line, the hefty price tag does show that people are getting serious about being left alone. Last week I wrote about the “right to be forgotten” ruling against Google. Now we are seeing the FCC lash out against registry violations.

As I think about these rulings, I can’t help but think of how they will impact the way the church shares its message in the future. After all, I think saving someone’s soul is important enough to knock on a door, call someone, or send them literature. But many in this world find evangelism annoying! They don’t want to receive the call. So what’s a Christian to do?

As hard as it is, we must learn to respect God’s example: He wants all to hear the call, but He allows them to be on the “Don’t Call” list if they choose. “I spoke to you again and again, but you did not listen; I called you, but you did not answer” (Jeremiah 7:13). Jesus longed for people to hear and receive His message, but they would not (John 1:10-13; Luke 13:34-35). Many have been invited, but few will come (Matthew 22:2-6).

What does that mean in practical terms? It means that I want to tell you about the love of God; I want to tell you about the saving blood of Jesus; and I want to tell you about the joys of eternity in heaven. But it also means that when you say, “I don’t want to hear that anymore,” I will respect your right to choose a “no call” status.

I won’t like it. It will be a very sad day for me. And while it might bring you temporary joy that you have gotten rid of that nagging Christian, it may be the worst decision you ever make. But until you say “Don’t Call,” I will gently, with love and grace, try to share the good news of Jesus with you in every way I know how.

The Right to be Forgotten

Man with question

In this digital age, privacy seems to be a fading memory. The details of our lives are available for others at the click of a button. Web searches reveal places we have lived, details about our purchases, who our neighbors are, information about family members, and some things that we would rather be kept private.

But in an effort to lash out at companies that thrive on what some call “freedom of information,” the top European Union Court recently ruled that Google can be forced to remove “irrelevant or excessive personal data from search engine results.” The ruling is based on a man who said that a recent search on his name caused him damage because Google had retained information about a 1998 home repossession. Why keep information like that? Because Google doesn’t forget…ever.

In the ruling, the EU court created an interesting precedent which is being dubbed, “the right to be forgotten.” Seems odd, doesn’t it? After all, isn’t one of the driving forces of life these days the desire to be remembered? Do some people want to be forgotten? Perhaps. But one thing almost everyone wants is to have their mistakes erased from history.

In a world where there is little or no “right to be forgotten,” isn’t it a comfort that we have a God who is willing to “forget” our mistakes? Now, don’t get the wrong idea; God has a better memory than Google. The Bible tells us that God sees all (Hebrews 4:13) and knows all (1 John 3:19-20). But despite knowing our worst, He is willing to forget all our sins (Hebrews 8:12).

God won’t forget us. He loves us to much for that. But our sins will be as good as forgotten if we have been covered in the forgiving blood of Jesus.

In fact, the “right to be forgotten” may be the greatest blessing we have in Christ. Even if Google remembers our mistakes, God will put them aside – if we are in Him. That’s better than a court order any day!

 

 

Honor Flight

Honor_Flight_t607This past week, almost seventy years ago, on April 30, 1945, Adolph Hitler went into his bunker, poisoned himself, his dogs, and his mistress, Eva Braun, and then shot himself, ending the idea of a 1,000 year Reich and his “superior” race. He was a sociopath, a true megalomaniac; he had absolutely no remorse or feelings for the millions of lives he destroyed.

Thankfully, there were those who were willing to go to their deaths, fighting against his tyranny and genocidal conquest. They were called the greatest generation, and they deserve recognition for their service and their sacrifice. And, thanks to a program that has really “taken off” over the last several years, these veterans are getting honored in a way that many never expected.

You see, as I post this article, five WWII and Korean War veterans are headed from our Rock Hill, SC area to Washington, DC. They will experience the great joy of taking an “honor flight.” The Honor Flight program honors veterans and thanks them for their service by bringing them to visit the memorials that were built for them and their fellow veterans.

As the web page for the Honor Flight states, “Of all of the wars in recent memory, it was World War II that truly threatened our very existence as a nation—and as a culturally diverse, free society.” With approximately 640 WWII veterans passing away each day, there is not much time left to honor these brave veterans who were a part of the “greatest generation.”

I wonder if their example speaks to the church today. As we fight against the original megalomaniac, Satan, will we look to their example? Ephesians 6:12 reminds us that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” In other words, our fight is a spiritual one, against an enemy who will never quit or commit suicide. It is a war against sin.

Will there be some among this generation who face the challenge to fight Satan and the power of sin? Will this be a “great generation” of those who are worthy to receive a crown of righteousness? And, if we remain faithful; if we “fight the good fight;” if we rise to the challenge of the spiritual fight…then what? A spiritual “honor flight” waits for us too!

Paul tells us in 1 Thessalonians 4: 17, “Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.” What a glorious day that will be. Reject Satan and his works; trust in Jesus and His righteousness; and remain faithful in the fight against sin, even unto death. Will you be on that flight? Will the Son of Man find faith in this generation? I pray we will be up to the challenge.