Archive for January, 2010

January 31, 2010

[843 Acres] Awe and the iPad

by Mattie

The net chatter has been getting louder for weeks about the anticipated release of the Apple Tablet (which we now know is called the iPad). Every major news outlet has buzz on it (I like David Pogue’s thoughts; or watch the promo vid), and I find myself wanting one. Bad. Then I’m reminded of Jesus’ admonition:

“Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” [Luke 12:15, NIV]

Yet, I’d like to think that my attraction to the iPad is less about greed and more about an expression of the wonder and awe with which humanity has been blessed. My fascination with remarkable new technology reminds me of the delight the Psalmist takes in God’s creation:

Those who live at the ends of the earth stand in awe of your wonders. From where the sun rises to where it sets, you inspire shouts of joy. [Psalm 65:8, NLT]

Being drawn to beauty, function, and form is a gift from God. Do I need an iPad? Certainly not. Can I see God’s incredible design in this magnificent new technology? Certainly.

January 29, 2010

[Morning Walk] The Greatest Letter Ever Written: Romans 1

by Bethany

Today’s Readings: Esther 6, Romans 1

Even though I may not know you, I know your biggest problem. It is not your stock portfolio, your micro-managing boss, your toddler’s temper-tantrum, or your cancer. It’s not that you don’t feel loved, don’t have a job, don’t have a baby, or don’t have plans for the weekend.

Our Ultimate Problem: God is righteous and we are not.

In the first two chapters of Romans (1:18-3:20), Paul is a prosecuting attorney. He argues that all of humanity is condemned because God is righteous and we are not. As a result, there is real guilt over every human heart because of sin and, since God is holy and cannot be in the presence of sin, there is real condemnation because of that sin.

As Paul writes,

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth … Though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them. 1:18, 32, ESV.

God is angry at our unrighteousness. He hates the way that we suppress and manipulate the truth to justify ourselves. We are sinners in the hands of an angry God.

This is our problem.

Our Ultimate Hope: God gives to us what he demands from us.

But God did not leave us alone with our problem. He rescued us from his wrath. Through faith in Jesus, we are made righteous and able to live in his presence forever. This is what he longs for because he loves us. This is the gospel.

And Paul was not ashamed to preach it. His thesis reads:

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” 1:16-17, ESV.

The gospel is the power of God for salvation, which comes through faith in Jesus Christ. It is strong and merciful to save. It penetrates our hearts.

Our Daily Lives.

If we know and love and live on the essence of the gospel as a daily reality, we are filled with joy and hope. After all, if our ultimate problem has been miraculously solved, then what else remains?

January 28, 2010

[843 Acres] President Obama’s Influences: Stories and Statistics

by amyjuliabecker

Anne E. Kornblut and Michael A. Fletcher report on the array of sources that influence President Obama in their recent story, “In Obama’s Decision-Making, a Wide Range of Influences” (Washington Post). In particular, they report that Obama reads at least ten of the thousands of letters he receives every day. In addition, “Aides say time and time again, at meetings, Obama brings up these stories, which sometimes affect policy.”

Obama insists upon data to substantiate arguments, and Kornblut and Fletcher report that he doesn’t let anecdotal evidence override statistics. But it was the role of stories in Obama’s daily decision making that caught my attention. On countless occasions, Jesus allowed the stories of real people to influence his course of action. To cite one example, he stopped what he was doing to heal a little girl and hear the story of a woman who had been bleeding for years (Mark 5:21-43).

President Obama is as flawed as any of us. He is not Jesus. But the fact that he is attentive to the real lives of real Americans may help him cultivate Jesus’ compassion for people, compassion that translated into sacrificial service for the whole world.

January 28, 2010

[Morning Walk] Hearing Vs. Understanding the Truth

by Perryn Pettus

Today’s Readings: Esther 5, Acts 28

Written by 843 Acres writer Perryn Pettus.

As a little girl, I wasn’t allowed to leave the dinner table until I had eaten everything on my plate, even the vegetables. I had to taste one of each dish that my mom had cooked. And, I had a strict bed time of 8:00 PM. I didn’t understand any of these rules during my childhood. Although my parents never ceased explaining why they enacted these rules, I would not believe. I heard them tell me the reasons, but I didn’t understand.

Thankfully, as an adult, I don’t live in the same contrarian mindset. I now know why they placed these rules on my siblings and me. As I grew older, I slowly began to understand the depth and impact of these seemingly nonsensical rules. I didn’t stay in the same place with my reasoning and logic and, today, I even agree with these constraints.

In Acts 28, the Jews came to Paul’s house to hear him preach and hear his views. He preached day and night to explain to the people about the kingdom of God and of Jesus, while some believed him and some didn’t.

In Acts 28:24-27, we see what happened when Paul preached the gospel: “Some were convinced by what he said, but others would not believe. They disagreed among themselves and began to leave after Paul had made this final statement: “The Holy Spirit spoke the truth to your forefathers when he said through Isaiah the prophet:

‘Go to this people and say,
“You will be ever hearing but never understanding;
you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.”
For this people’s heart has become calloused;
they hardly hear with their ears,
and they have closed their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts
and turn, and I would heal them.’

God is merciful to open our eyes, ears, and hearts to His truth if we turn to Him. Just as I can see how my eyes and ears have been opened to perceive differently than I did as a child, I also see and hear God’s truth differently. Pray that you will not be one who turned and walked away because you disagreed with God’s word. Turn to Him so that your heart may be always understanding and perceiving the beauty of His truth!

January 27, 2010

[843 Acres] THE Super Bowl Ad

by Neal

Google “Super Bowl Ad” this year and you won’t find links about frivolous humor but rather plenty on CBS’ decision to air a Focus on the Family anti-abortion ad featuring Tim Tebow. I’m not going to share my opinion that abortion is wrong, that CBS should indeed air the ad, and that Focus on the Family was right to pay millions for the spot (oops, I guess I did). Instead, I’m going to declare my love for Tim Tebow. Again.

It’s popular to hate him but I love him. I love that Tebow stands behind his beliefs. He’s a Heisman trophy winner about to enter the NFL and he spends his free time doing missions work in Asia as well as in prisons (this video is a must see). He lives his faith. It’s unmistakable. From the bible verses on his face to doing a Super Bowl ad against abortion, there’s nothing lukewarm about his faith. How many of us Christians can say that?

What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. James 2:14-17, NIV.

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