Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Biblical & Political Non-Political Conviction

In America, it seems I am quite the odd-ball, a Christian who does not actively take part in the politics of the world.
You see, when I was in fellowship with brethren assemblies in Scotland, the common understanding was that a believer is a Citizen of Heaven (*1), and an Ambassador for Christ (*2). Based upon this Biblical thinking, which I agree with, we are to not get involved with politics, but rather to pray for the Lord's will to be done.

This morning as I was driving to Prestonsburg, KY, I listened to a series of cassettes containing ministry from the Aberdeen New Year Conference 2004. This set was given to me a few years back by Alan Taylor, my Father-in-the-Faith, a man who taught me well in the Scriptures, how to study and reason with them, and continues to be a wonderful source of support & information in my Christian walk.
The two tapes I listened to were by Jack Hay, an excellent teacher of the Word of God, who is from Perth, Scotland.
In his teaching from Romans 13, he read this portion of Scripture and expounded it:

Romans 13:1-7
1 Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.
2 Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.
3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same.
4 For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil.
5 Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake.
6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing.
7 Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.

Jack Hay also referenced this verse in his message:

Daniel 4:17
...In order that the living may know
That the Most High rules in the kingdom of men,
Gives it to whomever He will,
And sets over it the lowest of men.
(KJV = basest of men)
(Strongs = “lowliest (of station)”)

The cassettes are in the car, and I am currently sitting in a hotel room using my Asus EeePC 1000 Netbook, named Ervyn. Therefore I am at this time unable to review Jack Hay's teaching on this subject, and give you the words he used.
Suffice to give my own thoughts on the matter:

Since becoming a Believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, as well as reading and understanding these Scriptures, my own conscience has questioned being involved in the world's affairs.
This is not the absolute of why I do not get involved, but I always wonder that if I did go into a voting booth and voted for a candidate, and another believer voted at the same election for another candidate, is one of us voting against the will of God?

So, do I do nothing about local, state or national politics? No... actually I am quite active in praying that all those that have rule over me, for they are responsible unto God even if they do not know it.

1 Timothy 2:1-4
1 Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men,
2 for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.
3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior,
4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

These are my own thoughts and convictions. Not meaning to attack anyone, certainly not the many believers I know and love that get involved in the world's systems with a clear conscience.

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*1) Philippians 3:20
For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,

*2) 2 Corinthians 5:20
Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.
[Note that ambassadors do not have voting rights in the country they find themselves in.]

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Social Networking

Finally, a story (somewhat) that has actually spurned me to create a new blog update after almost a year of non-use. The story is that of Social Networking.

As you can see from the right hand side of my blog under "Where in the Internet is Spider?" I have been pretty involved online. That comes with the territory of now having been on the Internet for over 13 years, since February 1997. In that time I have spent a lot of time in IRC, newsgroups, forums, Second Life, and more recently in what is commonly called "Social Networking" areas. These have included Bebo & Myspace, along with Twitter & Facebook.
Bebo was fun for a while. I had quite a few friends on there from The Polyphonic Spree forum, and even met up with one of my Australian cousins in there.
Did try Myspace for a while, but never really got into that scene. It was good for checking out some bands and new music, but I did not spend much time in there.
Second Life has been a part of my life for over 3 years where I enjoy being a blue elf that lives in a land named Farhaven, part of the Elf Circle group of lands. A lot of the friends I have met there are now "real life" friends in Twitter and Facebook.

A couple of years ago I took interest in Twitter. It seemed a very interesting method of communication, giving short updates of 140 characters, and being able to follow other Tweeters with their Tweets. I set up my account, played around with search and started following some people. Currently I am following 138 people, and 102 are following me. Some "people" are actually information groups that are technology based (Linux etc) and even road condition updates for the local area. I do have some really good friends on Twitter, and some people that I have never met but seem to live very interesting lives.
The only celebs that I follow are @bobbyllew (Robert Llewellyn - Kryten from Red Dwarf) and @wilw (Wil Wheaton - from ST:TNG and Sheldon's nemisis in The Big Bang Theory). Both guys are pretty much down to earth and very interesting to follow.
A few months ago I went from a Sony Walkman cellphone with only a number pad to type into, to an iPhone. This event really increased my interest and participation in Twitter. On the iPhone I use an app called Twitterific to check my tweet traffic.

This brings me to Facebook, an online area that I had been avoiding like the plague. As an IT guy I had heard of and fully understood the horror stories behind the privacy issues in Facebook, or rather the lack of. Basically I knew that everything you posted or shared was no longer yours but was then owned by Facebook. This was something that I really wanted no part of.
So, how did I go from this ideal to now having over 400 "friends"? Well, just over a year ago on a Wednesday evening, Arianna and I were with our church fellowship and someone mentioned that a couple we knew were pregnant. This was great news to us as this couple had been part of the fellowship for quite a few years before moving away. Then on the following Sunday we were told that they were now parents. We were overjoyed, but at the same time started asking around why nobody had told us anything for the past 9 months!!! Everyone gave us the same answer: "Oh, it was on Facebook".
This was the event that made me rethink getting involved in the Facebook explosion. We both realised that we were losing out on the good side of social networking and keeping in touch with many good friends. I joined first, followed by Arianna.
Neither of us play any of the games whatsoever, and have been extremely careful what applications we run. In fact, apart from the default set of applications, the only one I have authorised is Qstatus. This is an app from my iPhone that allows me to post updates to both Twitter and Facebook at the same time.
We are both very careful in what we post, not giving any personal details away, such as phone numbers or addresses. You have to be. It truly is a dangerous world online.
At the same time, Facebook is a very handy social tool. It enables you to easily keep in touch with family and friends all over the world. I now talk and keep up with family that I have not even met, and have conversations with many wonderful friends.

Going back to @bobbyllew and @wilw, both of these guys will not have anything to do with Facebook mostly because of the privacy issues.
In fact @wilw tweeted these today:

> "There is a person (or bot) impersonating me on Facebook. This is NOT me, and is likely a scammer: http://bit.ly/cHMS32"

> "FTR: I don't use Facebook at all, because I find the company's cavalier attitude toward privacy outrageous and reprehensible."

> "I wrote some more about that Facebook thing on my blog: http://bit.ly/b2Pqk0"

I totally respect his viewpoint and why he will not use Facebook, but sometimes we need to ask "What alternatives do we have?". Facebook may be considered dangerous, but it is also a very fine tool for keeping in touch with friends and family. Twitter can do this too, but I have yet to find an easy way to follow conversation threads in that medium.

Social Networking is here to stay, but like the squad captain in Hill Street Blues used to say "Let's be careful out there."