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Christian Internet Resources!

Just a list / personal reminder, although if it helps you guys, great! Hopefully I will keep this updated…

Firstly, google is your friend. So are God’s living Word, the Holy Spirit in you and your local church, pastor, etc. who God provides for us; and who can advise us on where to go for resources. But if you don’t know the validity of content on certain webpages or don’t know where to start, here are some of the more popular resources:

Mobile Bible:

  • A great bible is the AndBible app. No frills, just the Word, MANY translations and other books, commentaries, dictionaries (incl Strong’s), maps. It uses the SWORD project modules (open source bible software, which I love being a nerdy FOSS guy, I also use Xiphos on Linux).
  • Otherwise, you got YouVersion’s Bible app, which also caters to you iOS heretics =P out there. Another app Bible.is also lets you download audio bible chapters for offline listening, something YouVersion’s bible app doesn’t let you do.

Personally though, I use AndBible and ESV Study Bible on Kindle (from the scripture sketches link). I am glad they fixed the Kindle app for Android though, since for better half of a year it didn’t work and I had to use AndBible exclusively.

Jesus is Agape

Anonymous asked: Hi James! I would like to ask you what exactly is prosperity gospel? Is it all about finances, well-being and others, or is it something more. Like I heard people say "God wants you to have money, to be happy, and healthy", but I think there are also hidden message that revolve in the same area and I might me unaware of them because they are not so explicit and simply formed. Could you share your thoughts on this topic and how can we protect ourselves? Thanks

scripturesketches:

Hi Anon,

Always follow the example of the Bereans:

Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.

Acts 17:11

If the Bereans even tested Paul’s words against scripture, we should be testing everyone’s. And that includes the words of the prosperity gospel.

I can’t tell you what the prosperity gospel is all about, because I stop listening when I hear things that are clearly contrary to scripture—and I hear them right away in the prosperity gospel. But I’ll tell you what makes me stop listening.

Caring about the things of this world

The prosperity gospel preaches health, wealth and happiness. The gospel of the Bible, however does not.

Health, wealth and happiness are good things, and we should be thankful if God gives them to us. But they are not our goal, and they should not be the focus of our walks with God.

Blaming the victim

If God wants you to be healthy, wealthy and happy and you’re not, who’s fault is that? It can’t be God’s, so it must be yours. Maybe you don’t have enough faith. Maybe there’s a secret sin in your life. Maybe you just haven’t “named it and claimed it” like you’re supposed to.

This is the troubling implication of the prosperity gospel. It suggests that good things happen to good people and bad things happen to bad people. Sometimes it’s merely implied, sometimes it’s explicitly said.

But it’s not Biblical.

There isn’t a direct correlation between our circumstances and our walks with God. What matters is how we follow God in the midst of our circumstances—whatever they are.

Trying to control God

The prosperity gospel has more in common with paganism than with Christianity. Paganism is all about manipulating the spirit world to get what we want from it. And the prosperity gospel is all about manipulating God to get what we want from Him.

The Bible, however, is all about surrounding to God to get what He wants for us.

Any belief system that lets us feel like we are in control is attempting to pull us out of God’s control. Don’t let it happen—God knows what we need better than we do.

The True Gospel

Remember what Paul said:

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

Philippians 4:12-13

The Bible doesn’t teach us to pursue health, wealth and happiness. It teaches us to pursue Jesus—no matter where that takes us.

The good news is that it will ultimately give us something even better:

True prosperity is only found in the gospel of Jesus.

Peace, love and Jesus,
-James

The worst thing about the prosperity gospel is that they preach the prosperity idol and not Christ Jesus crucified. They don’t even preach the gospel out of selfish ambition (like when Paul refers to some people in Philippians 1:15-18), but rather, another gospel which doesn’t exist (as Paul says in Galatians 1:6-10, there’s only one true gospel).

And the saddest thing about it is that it infinitely short-changes us by replacing God with prosperity - the blessings of God - as an idol. How does money, earthly security, house(s), car(s), bodily health, earthly relationships or any other earthly thing compare to the glorious eternal riches of grace that God has poured out on us?

The gospel proclaims an eternal relationship with the loving God who adopts us as His children, and lavishes on us every spiritual blessing in Christ who made this all possible through His death and resurrection, taking our place of punishment for our sins against God. And He says, don’t worry about all these earthly things, seek God, and His kingdom, and God will provide all you need. Besides, none of these earthly things - which will pass away - satisfies (Ecclesiastes), only Jesus Christ our Lord does (1 Timothy 6:17).

We see throughout the bible, God gives all and every good gift to us, even when we don’t deserve it. But are the gifts better than the Giver from whom every good gift is given? Would you settle for a couple of yummy Christmas dinners or would you rather have loving parents and a great relationship with them? How infinitely better is God’s gospel of grace than any other ‘gospel’, especially that of “prosperity”!

Jesus is Agape
Jesus is Agape

Anonymous asked: I'm 18 and I won't exactly call myself a Christian but I am a believer in God and that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ died on the cross for us. Lately I feel as if I'm missing out on something in the world. I'm a virgin, a college student and I just want to explore and do new things. A tattoo/piercing to me is self expression, having sex with whoever I want to seems like the freedom to explore my sexuality. But at the same time I know it's 'wrong' and temptation. How do I overcome that?

scripturesketches:

Hi Anon,

I really appreciate the honesty in this question.

Are you a Christian?

This is important. Not only will your answer resolve the issue you’re facing now, it will affect your whole life into eternity.

If you are not a Christian, you have no obligation to follow Jesus. You haven’t surrendered your life to Him, so you’re free to make your own decisions.

But if you are a Christian, if you have been saved by grace through faith, then your life needs to reflect that. Your decisions should be guided by your trust in Him.

What are you missing out on from the world?

The Bible recognizes that sin is pleasurable for a season. So you will be missing out on something by following Jesus.

Expressing yourself, exploring your sexuality and being your own boss feels good. Doing what you feel feels good. …And being a Christian means giving that up.

But have you ever read the book of Ecclesiastes? In it, King Solomon uses his vast recourses to test everything the world has to offer.

“I said to myself, ‘Come now, I will test you with pleasure to find out what is good.’ …I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure.”

Ecclesiastes 2:1,10

And here’s what Solomon learned from his experiment:

“Everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.”

Ecclesiastes 2:11

All the good feelings this world offers us will eventually fade. But Jesus calls us to something better.

What are you missing out on from Jesus?

The Bible promises that we gain more than we lose by following Jesus. He doesn’t just offer us fleeting feelings—He offers us a full life, one that lasts.

…It just doesn’t always feel like it. But Jesus reminds us:

Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!

Matthew 7:9-11

God doesn’t hold out on us, and His instructions for us aren’t arbitrary. He is like a good dad guiding his kids toward what is best—even when it doesn’t feel like it to them.

And our Father offers us more than good feelings. He offers us salvation. He offers us peace. He offers us joy. He offers us freedom. He offers us hope. He offers us love. And more than anything, he offers us Himself.

I would rather follow the God of the universe who loves me than pursue any small pleasure the world has to offer.

As Jim Elliot, a missionary killed in Ecuador, wrote:

He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.

I hope that helps.

Peace, love and Jesus,
-James

Jesus is Agape

Bible reading plan - Devotionals - Update!

Remember this post? Well if you’re not a crawler bot you probably don’t. But anyway, after 2 years, I have finally finished 1 half of the yearly plan.

That means I took 2 years to finish the small 1-year goal of finishing the ‘Secret’ half of the McCheyne Bible reading plan I mentioned in that post 2 years ago. However that also means that I have read the New Testament and Psalms once through in the past 2 years, and half of the Old Testament.

While I almost read the entire bible in one year back in high school, I think I definitely read it better this time, with better understanding of exegesis and biblical theology (thank you bros and sis’s who taught me). I always thank God for His Word and you beautiful people who’ve taught me =).

I can also see that during the times I didn’t delve into God’s Word, whether it was because I was “too busy”, “didn’t need to” or “didn’t feel like it”, I consistently had some of the worst moments. We depend on God for our every breath and for every quark in the universe to continue to exist and obey the laws He made for them. It is a ridiculous idea that we don’t need Him. It should also be obvious that not practising His presence by not communicating - listening and talking to Him, primarily through His Word and prayer - means we’re throwing away so many wonderful blessings we have because God has called us His people (and we, Him our God,) and has chosen to be with us!

God wants to have this awesome relationship with us, and loves us so much, even to the point of sacrificing His own Son - Jesus, pouring incredible amounts of grace into our lives. He pursues us relentlessly. Not having this gospel, this great, wonderful, awesomely, GOOD news, in my mind, heart, soul and body and not focusing on Him and His kingdom has hurt me severely.

So as I start this new devotional ‘year’ on the 1st October, 2014 (starting on the Family part this time), I hope to do it daily and continuously for the next year, and to delight in the bible, not least because of “how He loves us so”. And hopefully I will meditate on His Word day (morning, perhaps commuting to work/study), and night (before sleeping), and all day long. Just like the wise Psalmists, and how God wants us to relate to Him in Joshua 1:8, and the guy being described in Psalm 1. It’s pretty much like “Stay close to me because I have le unique OP blessing aura I’m the one from whom all good things and blessings flow/originate”!

Hoping to read the ‘Private/Self’ part at night. [note to self: have finished Hosea and looking to finish the Psalms 140-150]

Jesus is Agape

The heavens rejoice when repentance happens

That moment when a sinner repents and accepts Jesus as both Lord and Saviour. (And by extension gets adopted by God our Heavenly Father, is indwelt by the Holy Spirit, and becomes our spiritual sibling).

- Life just got real.

8 “Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it? And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ 10 Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

- Luke 15:8-10 ESV

Jesus is Agape
Jesus is Agape

Know of any good Christian radio channels in Melbourne?

Been waking up to Melbourne’s 89.9 Light FM and being really disappointed in the lack of “Christian” in this ‘Christian radio channel’. Seriously, the ads mention more Christian stuff than anything else and aren’t very edifying. Loved waking up to the encouraging radio shows of One Way FM in Canberra with Christian music, short messages, topics and interviews clearly with Christian and gospel teaching and being greatly edifying. Definitely helped me get out of bed. =P Any Melburnians know of good Christian radio? (I live in SE suburbs; check my ask in my next post!).

Jesus is Agape

Dailies

So recently we’ve been learning the Agile/Scrum model at uni, how it accelerates feedback and allows for flexibility in systems you develop as opposed to the traditional sdlc waterfall model. This reminds me of the Psalmists (incl David) who meditate on God’s word day and night, or all day long. Or those whom pray continually as Paul calls us to.

The advantage is that your focus is always on the right thing - loving and glorifying your Lord, Father and Saviour, like a ship which continually needs to adjust the rudder and sail in winds and currents, just like how Agile allows for the client’s requirements to be changed and the system developed towards the new focus. Also, it allows for reviewing of what you did - what was good (keep doing), what was bad (stop doing), and what you could do (start doing) every day [lol Sprint Retrospective, what I did in life normally for everything]. I think a lot of my problems with anxiety and depression spout from not focusing on God in the first place, then A&D come in and narrow your focus and blind you and make you focus on the horrible things and your fears and make you fear, blinding you further in the cycle of doom. Focusing on Jesus so totally helps this. Even in the worst of times, we can hold onto the hope we have in Christ. =) And though we might not be able to smile, our hearts will have peace, hope and joy in the knowledge of our sure promise, for God is faithful.

It’s been so obvious to me that daily devotions just makes my whole life better, especially by focusing myself on what matters and getting my priorities right, and remembering God’s promises. After years of not doing it regularly and failing spectacularly, I don’t think I’d want to ever go that way again. God’s way is the best way =)

Jesus is Agape

Psalms and ISIS / IS

ughh … more news about ISIS/IS.

I’m going through the Psalms as part of the MCheyne bible reading plan I’ve been doing. (A 1 / 2 yr review will be posted later this month! =D ) But I’ve never thought the words of the Psalmists who talked about their enemies seeking their life and relentlessly hunting them down would apply to me literally - physically. But as I hear news of major persecution, most recent of which are the mass genocides and exiles of Christian people in Iraq, I can see how this plea can be so real and applicable, even in the present age - it’s happening right now! But, as usual, the Psalmists acknowledge God’s steadfast love, slowness to anger and abounding grace, and they hope in Him for ultimate salvation. A hope that does not disappoint.

Jesus is Agape

Christian Persecution in Iraq - ISIS / IS

I’ve already posted here about ISIS.

But seriously, if this source is true, in just 1 day, ISIS/IS has killed more people than Israel has in the recent Israel-Hamas Gaza conflict. (Not to mention terrorising and displacing a significantly larger number - refer to my previous post).

Here’s a good analysis as to why media might not report on persecution of Christians as much (which maintains the cycle of ignorance). According to this abc source, “four out of five acts of religious discrimination worldwide are directed against them [Christians]”. Wow. You don’t get that impression normally.

Thank God we, like Paul, have a hope that does not disappoint, and are able to bear all things through Him who loves us knowing that we will gain when we die. Please keep these in your prayers.

Jesus is Agape

Conflict - An imperfect world

So as soon as I saw the princess state her intention of going to Earth in Ep.1 of Aldnoah Zero I immediately knew what was going to happen even as I watched on in disbelief. The writter and producer etc. had already trapped me and made me form an emotional bond with her in her very first scene. -sigh- So much Gundam-like themes/tropes =P [I like where the story is headed after Ep. 3, the fighting’s pretty good - like Code Geass!] But I kept asking with a pain in my heart - “Why don’t they just stop killing each other???”

Then I read more news on the Gaza happenings (and indeed human conflict, brokenness and suffering in general) and laugh sadly at people trying to characterise the acts as “war crimes” or “crimes against humanity” or offering any justifications. I mean, people are DYING no matter what you say or classify it as! So many sad things in this world …
How I long for the New Heaven and New Earth. And thank God I have the hope that does not disappoint.

Jesus is Agape
Jesus is Agape

Anonymous asked: Love your blog. How can Christians who are divorced condemn gay marriage?

letsphysics:

peterdwebb:

I guess I don’t understand the question. Are you saying that people that have sinned can’t encourage others not to sin? That pretty much includes everybody. 

I’ve lied before. That doesn’t mean that I can’t say that lying is evil. 

I’ve lost my temper. It’s still way wrong.

I’ve lusted and coveted and disrespected and hated. That doesn’t mean that I’m exempt from preaching that the Bible is the last word on how to live rightly. How to live God’s way. 

I love that idea almost everyone in America seems to unanimously believe: if you can’t uphold the rules and standards set before you, you aren’t allowed to outline those standards to anyone else. Logically, this is an absurd notion: moral laws are true regardless of whether or not someone has broken them, and a person’s misstep is a hit against their credibility, not the validity of that moral code.

Although to be sure, the Christian message (gospel) is one of grace - it’s BECAUSE we sin and fail so badly that it’s good news we’re forgiven!

Jesus is Agape

I’m bach

Sup Tumblr? I’m back! (after a short long hiatus) And it’s great to be back! - So many encouraging and gladdening posts! =D (especially them gospel-centered ones =)

lol FF autocorrect tried to suggest “self-centred” instead of gospel-centered. NO. >=|  xP

Jesus is Agape