Tag Archives: truth

CDs May Be Out, But No Matter The Format, Spread The Word!

This summer marks the end of an era. Best Buy is announcing that, like K-Mart before them and so many others who are following suit, they will no longer sell CD’s. Goodbye. Eject.

If you’re like me, you’ve lived through a few music format changes. I used to own vinyl albums, 45’s, and cases of cassettes. I even had a friend who had an 8-track player in his car! Only niche listeners use those formats anymore. (see graph)

But when CD’s emerged, people praised their clear sound and portability. And, (unless you scratched them) they were supposed to last “forever.” Well, think again!

The announcement highlights an important fact – nothing in this world is forever.

Do you even remember what was the last physical CD was that you bought? These days, music is everywhere: Spotify, iTunes, Pandora, Amazon, etc. You can stream it, download it, or subscribe to a satellite radio. Automobile manufacturers even warn that CDs in cars will soon disappear.

One thing is certain when it comes to technology; it will change! And, this fact is a great reminder for Christians. While God does not change, adapting to new formats is important; nothing (on this earth) lasts forever!

Not long ago, churches agonized over using PPT in worship. Some preachers still insist on hearing “page turning” rather than digital devices for Bible reading. Many people don’t share blogs or sermons online because they won’t learn new formats.

Don’t get me wrong – CD’s will still be around for a while, and there is no need to throw away your printed Bible just because others use a Kindle, phone, or tablet. If you prefer the page turning that’s just fine with the Lord. But as we reach out to others, we should do everything we can to reach as many as we can (1 Corinthians 9:22).

Of course, we must never compromise the truth. Nevertheless, we must consider new formats that meet scriptural moral standards. The times may be a-changing, God doesn’t! (Numbers 23:19; Hebrews 13:8; James 1:17). The eternal truth of God’s Word never changes…no matter what the format.

It Didn’t Take Torture…Just Truth

Kim Hyon-hui is back in the news. You probably don’t know that name. It was forgotten long ago by most. But Kim gained notoriety 30 years ago, when South Korea hosted the Olympics in Seoul. She was a North Korean spy, and she placed a bomb on a 707 headed for Seoul, killing 115 people.

With the 23rd Winter Olympics set to begin this weekend in Pyeongchang County, South Korea, Kim’s story has resurfaced. And, it is an amazing story. She was recruited at 18 years old; she learned to perfect Mandarin and Japanese; she was given weapons and martial arts training; and she was taught to blend into other cultures.

Nevertheless, Kim’s 1st mission, the 707 bombing, would be her last. She was captured while fleeing, and unsuccessfully tried to take a cyanide pill. She was imprisoned, but eventually pardoned. At 56 years old now, she lives a fairly quiet life, working for the South Korean government in witness protection. She has raised 2 kids, and she is still hunted by the North Koreans.

Of course, when she was captured, Kim expected to be tortured in interrogation. But her captors chose a different path. A simple ride around town eventually changed Kim’s ideology. She had been lied to her whole life. She was told that South Koreans lived in squalor; they were terribly unhappy; and they would love to live in North Korea.

Driving through South Korea exposed those lies. People had smiles, enjoyed life, and were free to go where they wanted. When confronted with the truth, Kim, to her credit, changed her false belief system.

Consider this, friend: if someone had been taught that Christians were hateful, vengeful, sexist, racists, bigots, etc…would a “ride” through most churches help change minds? You see, reality immediately exposed the lies Kim had learned. Christian life should prove the love of Christ to any who are “riding through” our midst (Acts 2:44-47).

Kim still experiences a deep pain and shame for what she did. She wrote about her experiences and donated book proceeds to the families of her victims. She hugs and weeps with the families. She has been pardoned, but she still desires forgiveness.

Unfortunately, even though she has been to church, true forgiveness still eludes her. In an interview recently, she wondered, “Can my sins be pardoned?” Sadly though, she answered, “They probably won’t be.”

Kim hasn’t experienced the great joy of salvation. Paul told Timothy that he received mercy to prove that all people can be saved no matter their past (1 Timothy 1:15-17). John assures that our forgiveness can be known (1 John 5:13). If our faith remains, we expect the crown of life (Revelation 2:10).

It didn’t take torture to change Kim’s mind about her past sins; just being exposed to the truth did the trick. I hope that one day she learns the great joy of salvation – the confidence that comes through believing, repenting, confessing Jesus, and being baptized into the forgiveness of sins. I’ll probably never get to share that with her, but I’d love to tell you the same, and guess what? I just did.

Conflict Free Zone?

Another April article? Well, she is a special giraffe, but…

Last time we visited April the Giraffe, we talked about “watchful living.” As I noted, fans were growing impatient and dissatisfied with all the waiting. Since then, the number of “the dissatisfied” increased significantly.

Negative comments are pouring in from those who are upset that they are getting charged to know the gender of the baby. Also, people who paid for early warning alerts at the birth are complaining. Add those comments to the impatient people and the conspiracy folks who say the whole thing is a publicity scam, and viola…conflict!

The problem? The site says it is a “conflict free zone!” Silly giraffe, those don’t exist; at least not where humans are involved.

“Conflict free” zones on the Internet are a bit utopian and naïve. When people post with anonymity, their best side doesn’t exactly come out. Even a simple giraffe birth has caused conflict.

So here’s a question: how about the church? Does it have an example to offer? After all, it is made up of people. Are churches “conflict free zones?” Not if people are involved!

Nevertheless, we strive for something greater in the church. But if we rely on human nature, we will never achieve it. True freedom from conflict is in the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness faithfulness, gentleness, & self-control.

There are hundreds of verses that teach us to rid conflict from among us. Why hundreds? Because our fleshly desires put self ahead of others. The battle is to overcome those thoughts. Resolving conflict is, as Jesus put it, a blessing to “the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (Matthew 5:9).

“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:31-32).

So…“conflict free” giraffes? Maybe. “Conflict free” church? Definitely! But only when His people submit to the Spirit of Truth!

Dear Google, “Can You Just Tell Me What Is True, Please?”

cens_burnAh, the ultimate question: “What is truth?” Humanity has debated it for thousands of years. But thanks to new developments at Google, the struggle may soon be over. Google will just tell you what’s true! Wow, that was easy!

A miracle? No. It’s just algorithms and databases. But a recent proposal by a Google funded research team is striking fear and anger in the hearts of many. What’s the big deal? Who cares? Well, you should, and here’s why: Google shapes “truth” more than you know.

You see, under Google’s current methods, popularity tends to win the day. Google gives a higher preference to websites that are heavily used and pages that have the most cross-linked information. The basic thinking is like Wikipedia: more people will link to good information and report or comment negatively about bad information.

But Google figured out that there is a lot of garbage on the Internet. After all, people will say anything. And, even worse, people will share that “anything” without checking resources. But how do you stop people from finding sites with bad information on them? Google has a solution – trust them!

So the idea is this: Google would analyze the content of a web sites and give a “Knowledge Based Trust Score” based on how closely a web site matches the several billion “facts” in their “Knowledge Vault.” Web sites that match things that Google “knows to be true” will get preferential treatment. Web sites that do not match Google’s version of “facts” will lose ranking and hits.

Hurray! After all, we like facts, right? Don’t you love truth? Hmmm…wait a second…are Google “facts” always reliable?

Well, sort of. I like Google if I want an address, a telephone number, or the metric tons of bat guano processed at mines in Puerto Rico in the late 1800’s (100 metric tons/day, by the way). But what will Google do when conflicting sources disagree about the so-called “facts” of really important stuff? Who will get preference then?

The implications are incredible. Want to know if God exists? Ask Google. Want to know how the world started? Ask Google. Want to know how to get to Heaven? Ask Google.

Starting to see the problem? The vast majority of the public uses Google as their main search engine; they are the 800-pound gorilla. What if they start steering people toward a particular denomination or religion? Or what if they determine that those answers are best left to science? The query, “Google, how am I saved?” may return ten websites about penicillin!

Now, I’m not trying to be alarmist or a conspiracy theorist on this. But it does raise questions that are worth discussing. Where do you get your information? How do you determine what a “fact” is? And are you willing to trust Google’s database of “facts” to determine what books and websites are worth reading?

If your website is “flagged” as a source that Google does not agree with, then the consequences will be significant. Your page might not even register on a web search on a given topic. After all, most people never go to those buried 3rd and 4th pages on a search. Google won’t think of it as it “censorship,” but rather, “helpful suggestions” on what is the “right” information to read. 

Pilate once challenged Jesus with the question, “What is truth?” Some people believe Pilate was really asking Jesus for Words of truth. Others believe he was sarcastically saying that truth is whatever he says it is. Either way, we are still wrestling with this question almost 2,000 years later. Can Google end the debate? If only there were a book that had the answers! Oh, wait…there is.

You see, while I may not be ready to trust Google’s “facts” on salvation, Google is a great way to look up verses in the book that does have that information – the Bible! The Bible is the only true source of facts regarding eternity. It contains the God-breathed (2 Timothy 3:16-17) words of life. Don’t believe me? Just Google it! 😉