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April 13, 2015

Five by Five by Five

The leaders of our church did a prayer challenge a couple of months ago, where they prayed at 5am (for one hour) five days a week, for five weeks. They challenged us to join then for one day in a couple weeks at the end of the current message series… Which is great, but I figured why wait? And why not go all in? So I started the 5am Bible reading time this norming. I’m feeling pretty good about this challenge, I haven’t been great about my prayer life, and that’s lead to a severe lack of work being done on Agape Beacon. I think this 5am challenge is just the disruption to my apathy that I have needed.

Once work on Agape Beacon was done, well, not done, but to a point to where it is more useful. At the very least getting the Bible Meme Generator working… Anyways, once I had that running I wanted to fast for at least 7 days, while I worked on the parts I have never been good at (promotions). I feel like this 5am challenge is a great beginning path to get closer to that goal… perhaps they can run right into each other. Hopefully the 5am challenge will get my mind in the right place every day to get the work done that I need to in order to move forward with Agape Beacon.

January 21, 2015

A big update for AgapeBeacon is planned

Okay, I have a big update to make to AgapeBeacon. The idea is sort of like a Meme Generator… just for Bible Verses. This will help with my lacking in the area of Social Media Guru. The undertaking is huge though, first and foremost is making a database of Bible Verses, now part of that work has been done for me by BibleHub.com but the connections aren’t there the way I would like in order to make a coherent CakePHP app. So the first step is to create that database. Then I will need 20 or so free images that I can use as backgrounds that people can choose from, and we’ll see what I run into from there. I know I will have to update the challenges database as well… since I want the main idea behind the generator to be to create preview images for challenges. I’m also going to have to get into the dreaded AJAX zone, since the verses will be from a database only (not allowing people to put in their own text just yet, even though that would be easier) the user will have to select the version of the Bible, then the Book, and starting/ending verses respectively. I also want a preview to come up and the images will be drawn with PHP just like the other generators around so yeah… uncharted territories.

March 6, 2014

Asking

“Ask(and keep on asking), and God will give to you. Search(and keep on searching), and you will find. Knock(and keep on knocking), and the door will open for you. Yes, everyone who asks will receive. Everyone who searches will find. And everyone who knocks will have the door opened.

If your children ask for bread, which of you would give them a stone? Or if ask for a fish, would you give them a snake? Even though you are bad, you know how to give good gifts to your children. How much more your Heavenly Father will give good things to those who ask Him.” – Matthew 7:7-11

As a parent the second half of this verse stands out more to me now than it ever had before. I also added the (and keep on) bits to be more accurate, and give perspective to those who do not know that in the Greek those words were written in the present participial for those grammar nerds out there… which means they are ongoing actions, not just something you do once. The second half of this verse is a bit more interesting to me though… For a couple of reasons. First off Jesus gives examples of what a child may ask for, but doesn’t say that is necessarily what they will get. I know my son asks for ice cream, and candy a lot. And while I don’t hand him stones and snakes, I also don’t give him the ice cream and candy as often as he asks… more often than not I give him carrots and kale (yes my son actually likes fresh kale, at least what we grow). A lot of times we make assumptions about this verse based on our limited knowledge, and our limited English language. God will not necessarily give you what you ask Him for, but as He is able to see through our requests to our needs and true desires He will give us what satisfies and sustains life.

February 22, 2014

Why I beat your child up at the park…

It’s been pretty cold out lately, so I haven’t been to the park for a while… I just got a good reminder today of who I really work for. Okay, so I’ve been working on maxing out some freebies online, the original reason why I split off to work on these freebies is so that when I get AgapeBeacon.com up and running I can use these freebies to spread God’s word. As a stay at home father I don’t have tons of my own money to give away, our family doesn’t have a huge expendable income. There’s nothing wrong with using the money corporations give out to get users to spread the love of Jesus in practical ways… it’s just that I got very focused on these freebies. There are people out there that make a living by collecting and promoting freebies like this, couponers, and what not. The problem is I really don’t need to be focusing on this stuff right now, it’ll be good to be able to use in the future, but for now I need to keep my focus on developing AgapeBeacon and encourage others to be the hands and feet of Christ.

Anyways, so I got a reminder of this today. I got reminded that I need to play the background because it is not my schemes that will bring Glory to God, but His will. Christ is life, all else is a vain pursuit… so where does the park come in. Well as I was thinking about this my mind wandered to one of my favorite things, when my son lets me play with him at the park. Most of the time when we go to the park he wants me to sit by as he plays with the other kids, but occasionally he wants me to play. When I do play with him it’s inevitable that I will be dragging around 3-10 other peoples kids that I don’t know. I chase other peoples kids, I wrestle with them, I drag them around clinging to my ankles… I have fun with it when other kids want to play with us. Their parents sometimes get angry, either at their kids or me. And with the stories you hear of violence all over the news often against little children… I get it.

About those kids I have to occasionally beat up at the park. You can always tell the kids who don’t get to rough house at home with their parents, those kids are always just a touch too violent, I keep them at arms length which typically frustrates them. A lot of the kids who don’t get to rough house at home don’t get the unspoken rules of rough housing… primarily that it must be fun for everyone, and in that one cannot win all the time. When a child I’ve never met before gets too rough with us at the park, hitting where they shouldn’t, kicking, biting, etc. I grab them, wrestle ’em to the ground and put enough weight on them that they can’t move much, but not so much that they are hurting or can’t breathe. When I let them go I take a couple of steps back and wait for their response… most kids “get it”. What do they get? Well it’s a simple message that kids who get to rough house often inherently know. I am bigger than you, and I am holding back so that you don’t get hurt, I will play with you and have fun, but if you cannot keep it fun you need to find something else to do. Most kids will stand up, calmly look you in the eyes, and give you a little head nod to let you know they understand the message.

So why would I bother playing with other peoples children? I mean, it’s exhausting, you’ve got to deal with kids who don’t know the rules, and it’s more about the fun of the other kids… so why not focus on my own? I believe in rough housing… there’s a lot of good research that shows that rough housing teaches more than just exercise… and contrary to what some believe it actually discourages violence. I love rough housing with my son, and I know there are a lot of kids who just don’t get that kind of attention at home. Psalm 68:5 says that God is the father to the fatherless, Jesus tells us to Agape our neighbors (I say Agape instead of Love because the type of love He is speaking of is an action, a type of love that is practical, and intentional). Jesus wants us to show our neighbors His practical, intentional love… That’s why I will gladly beat your child up if I see them at the park 😉

January 26, 2014

People will see what they want to see

So recently an ancient Mesopotamian text (on a stone tablet) was discovered or rather decoded, it was discovered a while ago. A stone tablet that depicts “Noah’s Ark” as a round ship. It was actually a fairly common type of ship from Mesopotamia. The author that deciphered the text wants people to see a discretization of the Biblical account of Noah’s Ark, and he expects outrage from Christian’s… I don’t feel the need to give him such satisfaction. He says the Jewish culture likely copied the story after hearing it from the Mesopotamians… I see a different possible account for the story. Noah was supposed to have landed in or near Iraq I don’t know off the top of my head the exact modern day location… but it is very close to where this clay tablet was found. And if the earth was truly repopulated by Noah’s descendants wouldn’t they have likely known the story, at least for a time? I don’t see this tablet as discrediting anything from Christ’s word, but rather as a validation. As is usually true, the Bible’s account of the flood is the only one that gives a full explanation of events that can even account for these other records of the event.

In high school we studied an ancient pictograph text of a Native American creation story (I don’t remember exactly which one but both Apache myth 1 and Chippewa myth 2 from this page http://www.crystalinks.com/nativeamcreation.html have similar elements to the story I read back then). Anyways, we know that the Native American’s didn’t have direct contact with the Jewish culture, and these stories were told long before English settlers came. I only see these stories similarities to the Bibles account of creation as affirmation of its truth.

January 19, 2014

Hypnosis… and Christians

Okay, I honestly just learned that there are Christians who have huge issues with hypnosis… Like it makes them violently angry. Well, I say that, but I’m a Christian and I’ve never really heard anything bad or evil about hypnosis until now. Here’s the deal as I see it though, hypnosis hasn’t been fully explained by science… it truly seems magical in many ways being able to control subconscious behavior like blood flow, and pain in patients on the operating table. It’s easy to label something that we cannot explain as heresy and throw it out the window…

Now it’s obvious that this world is full of evil, and sin… so much so that the greatest things we do, if we do them for the sake of being good and trying to earn our way to heaven at least, are as offensive to God as if we were trying to pay a blood debt with used menstrual rags. I see hypnosis as a gift, one that we can use to change evil subconscious behaviors in ourselves, and add to the good we do for God’s glory in this world… I also see sex as a gift from God to give us a glimpse of the affection He has for us. Just because some use sex for evil purposes doesn’t make it any less of a gift… and just because hypnosis is used for evil some times doesn’t make it any less of a powerful gift for us. Hypnosis is a natural state of mind where you can change subconscious behaviors, and it works much like meditation… because hypnosis is a relatively new term, you won’t see it in the Bible… but that doesn’t mean that the Bible doesn’t mention it. There are several references to meditation and prayers that drove the person into a deep trance… in modern terms they very likely entered a hypnotic trance, and there’s plenty of evidence pointing to say that is the case.

December 10, 2013

Let Love Prevail

Something I’ve been mulling over for some time… not provoked by any particular incidence so much as a general misunderstanding of the situation. There’s a question that I have seen seasoned pastors, and fresh young Christians freeze up over… a question that is self fulfilling, so it is a wonder that anyone gets stuck on it. However, at the same time is so simple, we convolute it with intricacies that make it far more complicated than it should be. I have been guilty of this, and until recently was blind to the simplicity of the situation. You see, the answer to the age old question “If God is so good, why does evil persist?” was answered to me shortly after hearing about the story of Ariel Castro and the three women that he tragically held captive for 10 years… I’ve not been naive to the fact that there are still millions of slaves in the world… mostly young women used as sex slaves… but somehow putting a face to an assailant brought a revelation that I had never seen before… I’ve even known the answer to the question… but giving it a face woke me to a reality that never existed before. I do not intend on convincing anyone of anything that they have never believed before… science shows us that we find truth in our pre-conceived ideas, and even with correction only find reaffirmation of those ideas no matter what the facts or corrections say.

What people are really asking “If God is so good, why doesn’t he hold us captive and force us to his will?” For some reason we are receptive to the idea that a human keeping someone else captive for their pleasure is evil… but if God does it he is good? I think not! Evil, is evil, and God cannot have any part of evil… However, God desires relationship, even love, but how does the Infinite Being have company without captivity? Anyone, or anything that He creates must be perfect… and in perfection is a captive… therefore the answer to this perplexity must be two fold. First God must create a being that reflects Hist glory so much so that this being sees perfection in His shadow, and falls into nothing but shadow. Then God creates a being that is designed to Love Him… But how can Love exist without evil? You see, if God forces Love on us, nothing but evil exists… So God must allow Evil to exist for a time, in order for Love to exist. Without choice, Love does not exist… How can one love their captor? If God took us at his pleasure, could love exist for any of us?

The popular saying goes “Bad things happen so that we can recognize the good that is around us.” assuming that we would become numb to and bored with the good if nothing bad ever happened… this is only partially true, if only “good” existed we would never become bored with it, only delight in it… but if only good existed we would be trapped, in turn that “good” would be evil as their would be no escape… not even the existence of death. You see, evil exists not because God is powerless to extinguish it… but rather because without it there is nothing but emptiness. An emptiness that can only be quenched with Love… a Love that may only exist with a choice… a choice that requires a stark contrast that is evil. Evil does not have to persist forever, but must be allowed to prevail for a time to give the choice of Love to those who would choose it.

November 8, 2013

Agape Beacon Being Born

I’ve held onto AgapeBeacon.com for over five and a half years now. I originally wanted to build it out into a Christian social netowork… Shortly after I registered the domain I got my job back with MTV, then discovered other Christian social networks, and Connor coming along delayed the progress of it.

A week or so ago I came up with a new use for the domain, a site for organizing Christian acts of Agape Love. More than just fundraising… but a place that lets people share their experiences and organize campaigns.

What sparked this idea was a notion I had seeing a group of homeless people that have started standing at the corner outside the hospital. After passing many times with nothing to offer… I finally decided to buy a case of water bottles and hand them out. Originally I wanted to cover up the labels with a Bible verse or something… I never figured out a verse that seemed appropriate. I’ve been handing out the bottles but wanted to share the experience, and maybe some brainstorming with others.

Today, I laid the first line of code for AgapeBeacon… and will be working dilligently to get it operational within what I hope to be a 6 month development cycle… but I know life happens so maybe this time next year is more realistic

Of course I am also open to any help, suggestions, ideas, etc.

October 11, 2013

The sum of all of your parts…

http://www.buzzfeed.com/h2/fbsp/fordandisbetter/16-things-that-are-greater-than-their-parts

Don’t ask me why I’m still up… but this popped into my feed as I was considering going back to bed…

I know this isn’t the point of the article, it’s really just a bunch of pictures of devices taken apart. It’s really nothing more than an advertisement by Ford. And yet I saw something completely different.

First off, I have this camera! It’s sitting right next to me! And would you believe I’ve never taken it apart. I’ve never taken a look at all the little bits and pieces that go into the thousands of pictures this camera has captured over the years (2,717 just on this latest SD card, and it’s not the first SD card that has burned through pictures in this camera).

Not that big of a deal, it’s just a camera, and now that no one needs to buy film every time they snap a picture we all snap more pictures than we probably realize. A single screw loose though… and dust gets into the wrong place and the whole thing dies.

Honestly as weird as it may sound, I thought of the church today… the first century church sold everything they had as they became believers, they moved in with one another, and none went wanting. They were also able to serve and grow the church at an exponential rate. The church today is too often scattered and quite frankly useless. Jesus described the church as a body, but today we’re a Camera because we have a picture of one taken apart to examine. So maybe you’re a screw, you hold things together, and once a week you are in the same room as those other bits and pieces that you are designed to hold together… but just as the parts of this camera laid out on a table are nothing more than bits and pieces… sitting in the same room as other Christians doesn’t make you an effective service vehicle.

Screws need cases to hold together, photo receptor chips need lenses to focus the light, capacitors need batteries to charge them up… and on… and on… and on. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could just function together as a well oiled machine to serve as Jesus, and the early church did?

September 27, 2013

God the Father

Sometimes I think I’ve learned more about who God is in the few short years of being a father than I did in the 24 years that proceeded. So it’s 10 o’clock at night right now… I don’t expect to finish this post yet, just getting some thoughts down. Why am I up at 10 o’clock writing posts? Well, I tried to go to bed at 8:45, now that’s early for me… but being an introvert I like my “me” time which for the longest time has been nights that the wife works, Connor falls asleep in the car and I get a few hours to myself… both the wife and son are extroverts, and quite frankly drain me to death! Well, I a few weeks ago I got into a good rhythm of things, I got plenty of me time, got to spend time with Connor during the day, even got a boat load of coding done… problem is I was doing all the coding and me time at night (nights that the wife was working) and it eventually caught up to me. Then I started sneaking naps in during the day and not taking Connor out as much (the odd August heat wave we’ve got didn’t help me want to leave the house). That deprived Connor of his much needed energy source of other people… and it’s spiraled a bit out of control. He still falls asleep in the car ride taking Mommy to work… but now he wakes up at around 9 at night… and won’t go back to sleep without me.

This routine is driving me mad… Without some recharge time I’m running short on patience… and honestly it really makes me think of how amazing God is as God the Father. I see traits in Connor that I see of myself when looking back at my relationship with God and myself… and I just wonder how He does it… how He can be so perfect. I know that comparing ourselves to God we will always come up short… but I can’t help myself some times, especially when I lose my temper and yell at Connor for something so simple as asking the same question for the 1,000th time that minute… when all I want to do is sleep. So, here’s to seeking to be more patient and loving as God the Father only could truly be.