The Birds Are Angry

Hand Held GameThe 70s and 80s was a great time to grow up. Video games were being introduced for the first time. It was the golden age of gaming and I had a front row seat.

One Christmas morning in the 1970s I received a simple, handheld electronic basketball game. The game featured a little blinking red dot – more of a dash really – that you had to maneuver through other red dashes until you had an open shot to the goal. The dashes could only move around a fixed grid, and the “screen” was painted with the lines of a basketball court.

Ancient by today’s standards, but back in the day it was cutting edge technology – and I loved every minute of it. I played that game for hours on end.

Several years later, on another Christmas morning, I received an Atari 2600 game console. It was at this precise moment that I became an addict. For years to come I would play endless hours of Atari games, and when I wasn’t playing Atari, I was either talking or dreaming about Atari.

Eventually I grew up, went to college and left my games behind. No longer did I have the time or even the desire to play with such childish things.

Fast forward to the summer of 2010 when I became the proud owner of a brand new Android phone… the Droid X. Once again I became enchanted with the cutting edge technology that I held in my hand.

A couple of months later Angry Birds was released for Android… I installed it the day it was released. Why not? It was free!

They say an addict is never really cured. I thought my addiction to gaming was long gone… but at that very moment the addiction returned. In the months ahead I would spend waste ever more time playing.

It became clear that I had a problem. Angry Birds and the other games on my phone were not an innocent distraction… the games were robbing me of precious time. Time with my family, time with my friends, and worst of all… time with my Lord and Savior.

Eventually I worked up the courage to confess my addiction to the guys in my accountability group. Their advice was radical…. delete the games. What? Delete the Birds? Yes… go cold turkey (sorry, bad pun) and delete the Birds.

It wasn’t easy, but right there in front of my accountability group I deleted all of the games from my phone. Yes, the Birds are still angry… but now I have that wasted time back to use in ways that are infinitely more important.

Are there any birds in your life that need to be deleted?

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The Information Super-Highway & The Renewed Mind

“This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” Joshua 1:8

Unquestionably, this is the information age. Never before in history has so much data been accessible to so many people from every conceivable world region and demographic. If a question occurs to one, the answer is a few key strokes away. Want to know the GDP of Namibia, the population of Moneyreagh, Northern Ireland, or Adolf Hitler’s favorite composer? The answers are easily discoverable by means of the powerful search engines that comb the internet for facts and figures.

This abundance of accumulated knowledge works both positively and negatively in contemporary life. On the one hand, Bible translations and tools for studying them have proliferated on the web. Many out of print, public domain Christian books are now freely accessible thanks on websites like books.google.com and archive.org (these sites are searchable by author and title, so one needs to know which volumes one seeks.) A library that once was available only at much time and expense is now open to anyone with a computer and an internet connection.

The downside of this vast trove of information is that it can easily interfere with getting to know God through His Word.

Time that is better spent reading the Bible may be frittered away by endless and unrestrained surfing of the web. What is more, the essential discipline of meditation* on the Scriptures – mentally masticating them while prayerfully seeking the Lord’s mind and will – often is abandoned in favor of quick reading, skimming, and the short attention spans that are the negative byproduct of the information age. Joshua was told to meditate on the Word continually; this is something that characterized all of the great saints (e.g. the Psalms, which were the fruit of the meditations of the Shepherd-King David, as well as others – all by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, 2 Tim. 3:16.)

Pointing and clicking must not supplant pondering. The Word of God demands careful attention and reflection. It is to be hidden in believers’ hearts, and consulted in reference to every aspect of life. By all means, Christians must use modern technology to read, study, and proclaim the Word. But growth in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ will only come about through the time-consuming and somewhat painstaking discipline of meditatively considering the Scriptures.

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*Biblical meditation has nothing to do with the Eastern Mystical variety of meditation, which is actually its exact opposite. The Eastern variety – popular in Hinduism, Sufism, Buddhism, Transcendental Meditation, and New Age philosophy – tells one to empty his mind (sometimes by chanting a word like “Om.”) In contrast, the Bible’s use of “meditation” means to fill one’s mind with the words of Scripture and carefully consider them by prayerful and repeated thought.

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Slick Sojourning

Unlike previous generations, Christians today are blessed with a wealth of resources—and I’m not only talking about the amount of teachers around today. Living in a post-Guttenberg era we have the benefits of years of print and now years of digital information. This all means that we have access to information if not within 20 minutes (a local library) then right at our fingertips. Of course, this might all come with its own problems, but at the very least no believer living in the New World should be able to say “I just don’t have access to the right tools” when it comes to being trained in the faith.

So here’s only a fraction of the great resources and where you might find them:

OLD-SCHOOL

Inter-Library Loan. Our Library System in the States is interconnected and (usually) free and they have the ability to borrow books from other libraries and allow you to read from 2 weeks to a month and a half. If it’s in print and older than 6 months you will be able to find it in here. Check with your local public librarian.

University Libraries. Usually colleges in your neighborhood have a library that is accessible to the public if you have the right identification. That ID might cost you a small fee but it’s worth it for the periodicals and books that they might have available.

Amazon Marketplace. You don’t necessarily need the newest editions of books and commentaries—search the used books in Amazon and get them for a steal.

MULTI-PLATFORM

Dropbox. Perfect for syncing files across multiple computers but just as perfect for carrying electronic resources on the go. Seriously, this is a must.

Logos. Probably the best Bible Library software available but it comes at a hefty price. I personally think it’s worth it since it lets you deal with the text in Greek and read up on what others have said. Also, if you picked up Logos 4 for Mac or PC, you’ll have access to the full functionality of this free app: tons of resources on the Go.

PC

Open Office. If you don’t want to shell out the dollars for Microsoft Word, you have the ability to download a word processor with all of MSWord’s power and none of the price tag since it’s free.

E-Sword. Well-established Bible software with a bunch of extra modules (which are additions to the program like commentaries, multiple Bibles, and even scripts that convert your notes to Microsoft Word). Note that although most of the modules are free (like Keil and Delitzsch’s awesome commentary of the Old Testament) there are things in here that come at a cost. (Xiphos is also good)

MAC

Accordance. Great software that also has Mobile integration for on the go study and note viewing—just realize it comes at a cost.

MOBILE

YouVersion. A mess of Bible Versions which even allows you to add your own notes. Careful though: you’ll need a data plan or wi-fi to fully access it.

Olive Tree. Bunch of Bible Versions and you can even purchase premium Bibles and books.

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Tools – A Regular Feature

Another feature you can expect to find here at the Digital Sojourner is Tools.

There are many tools available to assist the Christian as he or she sojourns through the modern world. There are power tools, such as Logos Bible Software, that are highly sophisticated and relatively new. Other tools, such as a spiral bound notebook and pencil, are neither new nor sophisticated and yet are highly useful in their own right.

The key is to use the appropriate tool, at the appropriate time for its intended purpose. A surgeon might use a chainsaw to take down a tree in her backyard, yet she would never even think of bringing such a tool into the operating room. Tools, when used appropriately, will never become a distraction or a hindrance.

We will attempt to regularly share with you insightful articles about the tools we use in our sojourning.

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A Modern Day Paradox

No other generation has had access to as many tools and resources as believers do today. This is especially true in the English language.

Many Christian homes have more Bibles than people. Concordances, lexicons, dictionaries, atlases, and commentaries fill our bookshelves. Many of these tools have been digitalized and made available as computer programs or over the internet.

With the advent of mobile “smartphones” wirelessly connected to the internet there is an inconceivable amount of information that can be accessed at anytime and anywhere. One can even fact-check a preacher in real time without ever leaving the pew!

An Alarming Paradox.

Unfortunately no other generation of believers have been as unacquainted with the scriptures as ours. Walk up to the average Christian at the average church and ask a few mildly challenging questions. Who is the first man? Who is the second man? 1 Cor. 15:45-48. Or, what is meant by the term justification? More often than not you will be met with a blank stare and a quick change of subjects.

How Can This Be?

Have we become more fascinated with the tools than we are with the purpose of the tools? Are we more fascinated with technology than with the Author of the scriptures? This should not be, and yet I know that I have been guilty of this all too often.

God’s Word must be paramount, not the technology. Such tools exist to help us. May we always be mindful of their proper place; otherwise the very tools that were meant to help will become the greatest of hindrances.

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E-Pilgrims & E-Sojourners

“Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul” (1Pet.2:1.)*

In navigating the brave new world of the Internet, Christians must remember their identity before God. The Scripture above describes them as “sojourners and pilgrims”: two terms that set them apart from the rest of humanity, as well as placing significant responsibilities on them.

Believers are sojourners in the sense that this world is not their permanent home. The Lord Jesus Christ died on the cross to purchase them and so their lives are no longer their own (1 Cor. 6:20.) Instead, they have been called out from the world to live differently from the masses all around who are time-bound and earth-bound with no hope of eternal life with God.

The term “pilgrims” emphasizes that they are going to another land. Like Abraham who left the establishment of the fertile crescent for the strict nomadic existence of dwelling in an impermanent structure. The symbols of the patriarch’s life were the tent and the altar. A tent declared that this was not their final dwelling. While the altar demonstrated their focus upon the eternal God who called them to share His life – beginning in this world but also extending into the age to come (Heb. 11:8-10; 13-16.)

The onset of the information age, with its flagship the world-wide-web, does not change the character and calling of believers. They cannot settle down into this new digital world and be entirely comfortable, as if this is their home. They must use email, social networks, blogs, websites, and other exciting technological advances in a way that glorifies God.

Someday people will power down their e-devices for the final time and enter eternity. These modern tools ought to be used to bear witness to Christ’s gospel, as well as for the edification of His people. As in the real world, Christians must steer clear of that which defiles on the web; instead using the easily accessible information to think on things that are pure (Phil. 4:8.) They must also use mass communication tools to propagate the good news that Christ died on the cross for our sins according to the Scriptures and that He was raised from the dead according to those same Scriptures (1 Cor. 15:1-4.)

Believers must approach the web with stewardship in mind. E-commerce ought not to become an excuse for covetousness and materialistic indulgence. What is more, they must be responsible stewards of the time that God has given them. As Ephesians 5:16 says: “Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. A well-timed email can brighten a fellow-Christian’s day. Likewise, a timely Scripture posted on one’s Facebook page can turn another’s thoughts toward eternity.

The numerous Bible study websites and pages with millions of public domain volumes can be carefully used to augment our personal Bible study, while also gleaning excellent illustrations of God’s truth from different resources on the web. In short, the web is what you make of it: be an e-sojourner and an e-pilgrim!

 


 *Unless otherwise noted, all Scriptures are cited from the New King James Version.

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Are You a Digital Sojourner?

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God. Hebrews 11:8-10

God gave Abraham a command, “to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance.” In faith, the Scriptures tell us, he obeyed the command of God. He went.

In a similar fashion, God has given each of us a command. “But now, [God] commands all people everywhere to repent” Acts 17:30. Therefore, today, everyone is faced with the same decision like Abraham faced… to obey God’s command or not. I grappled with this decision… do I really need to repent? Am I that bad? As I considered these questions in the light of His word it became clear. God is right, I am a sinner… in faith I must go to the cross of Calvary and repent. (Jeremiah 17:9, Romans 3:30, Romans 3:23) Have you spent time seriously considering God’s command to repent?

 


Abraham was a sojourner.


 

As a result of Abraham’s obedience he left the familiarity of his homeland. He traveled as a stranger in a foreign land. He lived in tents, representing the transient nature of his life.

Today, those who truly obey God’s command to repent find themselves sojourning in a strange and foreign land. A world that has rejected the one true God, rejected His commands, and rejected His Son, Jesus Christ.

 


Are you a sojourner?


 
The modern world in which we live is fast paced and interconnected. Facebook, Twitter, smartphones, iPads and Androids. Instantaneous information 24 hours a day. Overwhelming and addicting at the same time. Some dropout, vowing never to touch a computer. Others have gone to the opposite extreme… checking their email before getting out of bed in the morning or ducking into a bathroom during the day to get a quick fix of Facebook. They have become digital junkies.

The purpose of this blog is to help the modern Christian in finding a healthy balance somewhere between the two extremes. How can we use technology to help us in the journey, without it becoming a false god? How can we use modern technology to glorify God?

So, welcome to the Digital Sojourner. Lord willing, and with God’s help some of the regular postings you can expect here are:

  • Reviews of helpful websites & software
  • Bible commentary
  • Simple how-to articles
  • Accountability in a digital world
  • Stewardship of resources
  • Interviews with fellow digital sojourners
  • Jottings… short quotes and thoughts

Today, the journey begins… pray that the Lord will use this blog to aid His people, and to bring glory to His name.

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