Heartland: If all TV was this good, I’d watch TV.

My mother is a true Texan cowgirl at heart.  If she had gotten her childhood dream-come-true, then I would probably have grown up on a Texas ranch, enjoying the open hills and tending to horses as my daily chores.  Mom loved horses that much.  (She still does.)

Instead my father was a part of the Air Force and so our family moved all over the world.  Mom followed him wherever he moved to, taking care of us kids as best as she knew how.  She was content with her life, but it came as no surprise when I learned a few years ago that her favorite show on Netflix was Heartland. She wanted to share her favorite show with Lacy and me.

Heartland is a Canadian show based after the book series with the same name, which I have never read.  Mom’s right: it’s great. And lately, it’s gotten even better.  Keep in mind that Netflix keeps us 2 seasons behind so we just finished season 9, but I’m very impressed.  It’s a wholesome, clean family show with a great cast.  Amber Marshall, Shaun Johnston, Chris Potter, Graham Wardle, and Michelle Morgan, along with one of my favorites in the cast Jessica Steen, make the show a heartwarming inspiration.

Heartland has always been enjoyable, but since the introduction of Alisha Newton, who plays Lou and Peter’s adopted daughter Georgie, the show has become my favorite.   Alisha plays her part well, making the social issues and family insecurities of an orphaned foster child very realistic.  My favorite characters used to be Lou and Peter, but the past season has moved Georgie into my favorite, along with Amy and Ty, whose relationship I have grown to like very much, recently.

*Major spoiler ahead*

The only complaint that I have with the show comes from a pet peeve that I have.  As a child, I had the perfect example of what a self-sacrificing, family-loving woman should be.  My mother gave up everything to be married and take the role of being a good wife and mother.  I am not saying that the homemaker’s life is for all women; what I am saying is that my mother chose to live the life that she believed God wanted from her, and that my life -as her child- was blessed greatly by that choice she made.

And so having parents that have been married for 40 years now, it breaks my heart to see the choices that the show has Lou and Peter make “in the best interest of their children”. The divorce was an injustice: not only for Lou who loved Peter when she discovered his girlfriend in Vancouver; or for Peter when he rediscovered his love for Lou after she had already moved on; but also for Georgie, who had already faced the loss of both parents as well as abandonment issues from her life in foster care.  How can her adopted father and mother’s separation and divorce be in her best interest after they had just gotten her over her separation and abandonment issues? (That’s not even getting into little Katie, who will now have to live with a broken home. It’s a tragedy when a child’s parents lose their love for each other.)

Unfortunately, divorce is a very rampant reality in our world today: the lie that a person has the right to do whatever makes them feel good, despite the hurt feelings that may occur to all the people around them. It makes me truly sad. :(

All in all though, Heartland is a wonderful story.  It’s hard to find a show that’s got true family moral values.  But to quote my mom: “Television shows now-days always feel like they have to have a villain that you need to hate; but in Heartland, all of the characters are just normal people with normal everyday family and life issues.”  And since every show I choose to watch always has my favorite character go rogue and turn evil, I really couldn’t have said it better myself.

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Hungry for Salvation

“At high altitude, the body's caloric needs are astronomical ... we were starving in earnest, with no hope of finding food, but our hunger soon grew so voracious that we searched anyway ...again and again we scoured the fuselage in search of crumbs and morsels. We tried to eat strips of leather torn from pieces of luggage, though we knew that the chemicals they'd been treated with would do us more harm than good. We ripped open seat cushions hoping to find straw, but found only inedible upholstery foam ... Again and again I came to the same conclusion: unless we wanted to eat the clothes we were wearing, there was nothing here but aluminum, plastic, ice, and rock.”              

Miracles in the Andes: 72 Days on the Mountain and My Long Trek Home, by Nando Parrado

“As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants after you, God.” Psalm 42:1 (WEB)

As Christians, we are reassured that “Blessed are those who hunger (Greek word peinaó: to be needy or desire earnestly) and thirst (Greek word dipsaó: to suffer from thirst) after righteousness, for they shall be filled.” Matthew 5:6 (WEB)

If we earnestly desire for God’s will to be done in our lives, then we will be strengthened by God.  Like a survivor of a flood who climbed to the roof of their home to wait for a boat to rescue them, we need to understand that we need a savior too.

I’ve been blessed not to know hunger like Nando Parrado and his Rugby teammates when they were stranded in the Andes after their Flight 571 crashed in 1972, but spiritually-speaking, we need to seek for sustenance; we need to hunger and thirst for righteousness.

Luke 18:18-23 tells of a certain ruler who asked Jesus, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”  This man wanted salvation, but he wasn’t hungry enough for the answer that was given to him.  Jesus’ response made the man very sad.

The men in Luke 9:57-62 weren’t hungry for righteousness either, when Jesus called to them “Follow me!” and they tried to stall their obedience by saying “first allow me to say goodbye to those who are at my house” or “allow me first to go and bury my father.”

To hunger and thirst for God’s righteousness, you must be willing to seek His will and ready to obey.

In order to survive the 72 days in the freezing mountains, Nando and his comrades were driven to do what they believed was despicable and unthinkable; they had to eat the flesh of their own friends and family who hadn’t survived the crash.  It was the only way that they could survive the environment and find life.

We too, may face a task that we believe is too big for us, or one that goes against what we think is morally true. I’m assuredly not saying that the Bible tells us to eat our family or friends, but Jesus does say in Matthew 10:34-38,Don’t think that I came to send peace on the earth. I didn’t come to send peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man at odds against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. A man’s foes will be those of his own household.  He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he who loves son or daughter more than me isn’t worthy of me. He who doesn’t take his cross and follow after me, isn’t worthy of me.” 

Jesus’s response to the rich ruler was “You still lack one thing. Sell all that you have, and distribute it to the poor. You will have treasure in heaven. Come, follow me.” (Luke 18:22)  And Jesus’s response to us is “If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me…for whoever will be ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed, when he comes in his glory, and the glory of the Father, and of the holy angels.” (Luke 9:23, 26)

 

“But you who forsake Yahweh, who forget my holy mountain,  who prepare a table for Fortune, and who fill up mixed wine to Destiny; I will destine you to the sword, and you will all bow down to the slaughter; because when I called, you didn’t answer. When I spoke, you didn’t listen; but you did that which was evil in my eyes, and chose that in which I didn’t delight.”

Therefore thus says the Lord Yahweh,

“Behold, my servants will eat, but you will be hungry; Behold, my servants will drink, but you will be thirsty.  Behold, my servants will rejoice, but you will be disappointed; Behold, my servant will sing for joy of heart, but you will cry for sorrow of heart, and will wail for anguish of spirit.”  Isaiah 65:11-14 (WEB)

“And the effect of righteousness will be peace, and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust forever.”   Isaiah 32:17 (ESV)

Today’s Hymn: Immortal, Invisible God

I was doing a Youtube search for the hymn “Immortal, Invisible God Only Wise” and my favorites I will share with you, but something about the lyrics struck a chord in my heart. The lyrics are old; the meaning is magnificent.

First, the lyrics:

Verse 1
Immortal, invisible, God only wise,
in light inaccessible hid from our eyes,
most blessed, most glorious, the Ancient of Days,
Almighty, victorious, Thy great name we praise.

Verse 2
Unresting, unhasting, and silent as light,
nor wanting, nor wasting, Thou rulest in might;
Thy justice, like mountains, high soaring above
Thy clouds, which are fountains of goodness and love.

Verse 3
To all, life Thou givest, to both great and small,
in all life Thou livest, the true life of all;
we blossom and flourish as leaves on the tree,
and wither and perish, but naught changeth Thee.

Verse 4
Great Father of glory, pure Father of light,
Thine angels adore Thee, all veiling their sight;
all praise we would render, O help us to see
’tis only the splendor of light hideth Thee!

 

Next, how it touched me:

In worship, there was a reading of the lyrics before singing the hymn, so we could better understand the old song’s message. What I interpret from it is this:

  • Verse 1 tells of the unsearchable quality of God, how he is light and yet his light we are not aware, even as we praise him. “Too vague a God” skeptics say, and too big a concept for any of us to fathom, really, but Jesus Christ gives us reason to believe (recommended reading: “A Case for Christ”  by Lee Strobel)
  • Verse 2 expresses the simile “silent as light” which my brain wants to replace the word light with night, due to the popular song “Silent Night”. But then I actually think about it, and how much more silent can anything be, than light? God’s mighty presence is all around us, his handiwork in the sky and mountain peaks.  His plan is carefully brought about by his perfect love. Even in the hurricane, his love never ceases.
  • Verse 3 strengthens the point he is ruler, unchanged by fleeting lives and seasons. Even when the hurricane comes and goes, and the flowers bloom and the grass grows for months on end afterwards, once it is all over, God still remains.
  • Verse 4 finishes the point with the majestic request for God, the invisible, to not let our lack of sight be a hindrance in our faith. God and the angels are there, but our hearts pray, please don’t let our eyes hinder us from seeing the light and believing God is within it.

Last, the spotlight videos from international sources:
Sang by American music group Out of Eden (live performance), along with the song Meditate

Sang by African worship group Soul Winners Worship, an African worship group

Sang by American artist Fernando Ortego

Piano Solo by a member of Singapore church, Life Missions Church

 

Inherit the Earth!

Want to know how to inherit the earth? First, I’ll tell you what happened to me today. After that, I’ll explain.

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Today I learned that bird-watching is a good test of one’s patience. Your eye has to be skilled, watching and waiting for the bird to appear. My family got a hummingbird feeder for our backyard, filled with bright-red, citric hummingbird food, and it hangs outside on the white arch.  From the window, you can watch for the little bird. It comes every 15-20 minutes on the clock. When it comes it is sudden: the hummingbird in a flash appears and feeds for 10 seconds or less, zooming off, and then you’re stuck waiting for it to come again. (Taking a picture is even harder than waiting.)

I’ve seen videos where others have the perfect spot for hummingbirds, bringing large enough numbers so that the buzzing noise their wings make, collectively, is loud enough to be heard even at a distance. Maybe someday my feeder will do that, too, but as of today, I saw only two hummingbirds come at the same time and one ran the other away – that little green one was possessive of her food saying (I can imagine) “It’s mine! Go away,” dive-bombing at the other one, making him leave.

It’s odd, yet amazing, how animals act as the defenders of their good green earth. There’s this narrative society declares, about how peaceful nature would be if only humans would stop their wars, and although I understand, it makes me surprised when I see animals angry or possessive, bickering at one other about what they think is theirs. My Dad saw the birds fighting and said, “They should know, it’s not private property! The feeder belongs to everyone.” Ha! Absurd to think the human is telling the birds to be nice, considering I favor that popular nature narrative I told you about.

____

I continually ask myself, what is meekness and what is meek? Even a person who is said to be sweet, gentle at heart, or a humble person can find him or herself thinking, “I’m meeker than my Christian brother” and comparing their blessings, or comparing their lives to see which is more blessed. In reality, in the moment a person revels in his own meekness, is the moment of weakness instead of meekness.

Let’s repeat that thought:
In the moment a person revels over his meekness is a moment of weakness, not meekness.

No matter who you are, becoming meek needs discipline. That’s why God tells parents to discipline children, wives to submit to husbands and citizens to obey governmental authorities. If a person is not disciplined, meekness is only but a concept, and not a precept.

Without discipline, meekness is a concept not a precept.

Once a person becomes an adult, becoming meek needs self-control. You have to control yourself to be a meek adult. That means controlling what your body does, controlling what your mind thinks, and controlling what your mouth says. Like reins direct a horse’s will and body strength, self-control directs a person’s body and makes a temple for the Holy Spirit.

Self-control allows the Holy Spirit to take the reins.

Listed below are four ways you can be meek:

1. Live Confidently Knowing God’s Power.

Job 1:21 When Job heard that all his servants, his livestock, and his children died disastrously all the same day, he glorified God with these words: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord.”

Luke 1:38 Mary asked the angel how she was pregnant since she hadn’t been with a man, and he told her with God nothing is impossible. She said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” Her willingness is an example on how to receive God’s power over our lives.

2. Live Obediently Submitting to God’s Authority.

Luke 22:42 “Not my will, but Yours, be done.” Jesus prayed in the garden with his friends nearby, relinquishing his will obediently to God, knowing his fate would always be to die on the cross for the sins of humanity, but he prayed with the desire for God to change His mind, anyway. He gave up his will for his Father’s.

Acts 8:3, 9:1, 9:6 Saul threatened, imprisoned, and punished Christians fervently up until the day he saw the light (literally) in which he asked Jesus, who appeared to him in the light, “Lord, what do You want me to do?” Instantly, he was meek enough to know all he did was wrong and Jesus truly was the Messiah.

Jeremiah 18:1-11 God, the Potter, and mere mortals, the clay: the Lord said, “Look, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel!  … Return now every one from his evil way, and make your ways and your doings good.” He spoke to His people Israel. Presently, God is calling us to submit to Him in Christ Jesus for the salvation of our souls.

3. Live Unselfishly Taking God’s Direction.

James 1: 21 “…lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word…” The man who endures in good even when evil tempts, tries to love the lowliest of persons, and gives up personal pride is living by “the implanted word”.

Psalm 25:4-5 A prayer from our mentor David, asking for God’s guidance: “Show me Your ways, O Lord; Teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me, For You are the God of my salvation; On You I wait all the day.” That’s how we should talk to God.

4. Live Honestly Keeping the Peace.

1 Peter 3: 15-16 “… sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed.”

Ephesians 4:2-3 “…walk…with all lowliness and gentleness, with long-suffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” I think the way to do that is to not think too highly of myself, and listen sooner than I speak.

Application of “Inherit the Earth”

The Jews in Jesus’s time were aware of his meaning when he said, “the meek will inherit the earth”. Like our popular idioms nowadays (i.e. “Hit the nail on the head” means exactly on point, you can picture a nail being hit by a hammer), the Jews knew to imagine great fortune and blessings when he said the phrase “inherit the earth”. Psalm 37:28-29 says, which the Jews also lived by, “For the Lord loves the just and will not forsake his faithful ones. Wrongdoers will be completely destroyed; the offspring of the wicked will perish. The righteous will inherit the land and dwell in it forever.” The Promised Land was a gracious gift to Israel from God, with the promise it would be theirs forever, as long as they obeyed God. Therefore in the Hebrew culture, it was common knowledge that God blessed those He loved with an inheritance of land and people, so Jesus Christ could say to his listeners this concept and immediately they would gain encouragement. When Jesus said, “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth”, his listeners understood that he was comforting the common folk and lowly people of the land, and the ones who served God without trying to possess or gain anything in return.

In conclusion… Here’s how I sum up Creation vs Creator after today:

NATURE: It’s a dog eat dog world. (I learned that from hummingbirds.)

HUMANS: Bombers and missiles and nukes, oh my! (I learned that from news about North Korea.)

GOD: There are many rooms in my house. I am preparing a place for you. My Son Jesus will come back and take you there when it’s time. (I learned that from the Bible.)

 

Meekness Defined

“Pop, pop, pop! Bom, bom, bom!  throughout the day. No time for memorandums now. Go ahead! Liberty and Independence forever.”

~Davy Crockett, the last entry in his diary, on the 5th of March, 1836

In the battle of the Alamo, do you think you would you hear Davy Crockett telling his fellow patriots “Proud men, we’ll need to be meek in this battle!”  To call the battle of the Alamo meek would be like trying to pronounce Hurricane Harvey as a meek storm in the wake of its devastation at Rockport and its torrential downpour over Houston this weekend. The defenders of the Alamo fought courageously, and the Tropical Storm Harvey still threatens Southern Texas with its strong winds and flooding waters. That’s not the image of meekness, is it?

In today’s world, meekness is labeled as weak.  The Merriam-Webster explains the word meek with 3 definitions.  The first is “enduring injury with patience and without resentment: mild”; the second definition states “deficient in spirit and courage: submissive” and the third says “not violent or strong: moderate”.

The definition of the Greek word πρᾷος, or práos, according to the biblehub.com is “mild, gentle, meek, kind”. HELPS Word-studies gives the example: “the necessary balance of exercising power and avoiding harshness”.

As Christians, we need to show meekness.  But what defines meekness in God’s book?

“So I am not the one living now—it is Christ living in me. I still live in my body, but I live by faith in the Son of God. He is the one who loved me and gave himself to save me.” Galations 2:20 (ERV)

Since it is Christ living in us that inspires our actions, and Christ says “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls” (Matthew 11:29, ASV), we should strive to be meek like Him.

John 2:12-17 shows us an example of Jesus’s meekness.  While God’s temple was supposed to be a house of worship and reverence to the Lord where people would come to find forgiveness through sacrifices that they offered, the Jewish leaders had set up stalls and tables in the temple, and the people were told to buy the perfect sacrificial offerings from the temple, when their own offerings didn’t match the priests’ standards.

…it was almost time for the Jewish Passover Feast. So Jesus went to Jerusalem. In the Temple he found men selling cattle, sheep, and doves. He saw others sitting at tables, exchanging money. Jesus made a whip out of cords. Then he forced all these men, with the sheep and cattle, to leave the Temple. He turned over the tables and scattered the money of the men who were exchanging it. Then he said to those who were selling pigeons, “Take these things out of here! Don’t make my Father’s house a place for buying and selling!”

When this happened the followers remembered what was written in the Scriptures: “My strong love for your Temple completely controls me.” (ICB)

HurricaneHarvey-HibiscusLeaf_2017-8-27

Quoting Psalm 69:9, this is a good example of what meekness truly means.  “My strong love for your Temple completely controls me.”  It’s not mildness or submissiveness or the lack of strength as the world sees it.  It’s zealously letting God’s will be the one to control the actions that you take.  Like Moses, who was called the meekest person on the face of the earth (Numbers 12:3); like Stephen, who portrayed a godly meek spirit with a powerful speech (Acts 7); like Daniel, with his meek request to disregard the king’s orders (Daniel 1:5-21); like Paul, who boldly wrote letters to Christ’s churches “by the meekness and gentleness of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10-13); and like David’s meekness when he wrote his psalms and praises to the Lord; we need to represent Jesus’s “meek and lowly” spirit in our own lives.

 

 

Psalm 46:9-11, ESV

“Come, behold the works of the Lord,
    how he has brought desolations on the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
    he breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
    he burns the chariots with fire.
“Be still, and know that I am God.
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth!”

The Lord of hosts is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress.”

 

Psalm 69:9, 16-20, 30-36, ESV

“For zeal for your house has consumed me,
    and the reproaches of those who reproach you have fallen on me…

“Answer me, O Lord, for your steadfast love is good;
    according to your abundant mercy, turn to me.
Hide not your face from your servant,
    for I am in distress; make haste to answer me.
Draw near to my soul, redeem me;
    ransom me because of my enemies!

You know my reproach,
    and my shame and my dishonor;
    my foes are all known to you.
Reproaches have broken my heart,
    so that I am in despair.
I looked for pity, but there was none,
    and for comforters, but I found none…

I will praise the name of God with a song;
    I will magnify him with thanksgiving.
This will please the Lord more than an ox
    or a bull with horns and hoofs.
When the humble see it they will be glad;
    you who seek God, let your hearts revive.
For the Lord hears the needy
    and does not despise his own people who are prisoners.

Let heaven and earth praise him,
    the seas and everything that moves in them.
For God will save Zion
    and build up the cities of Judah,
and people shall dwell there and possess it;
    the offspring of his servants shall inherit it,
    and those who love his name shall dwell in it.”

 

“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” Isaiah 26:3 NIV

Jabber Worthy: Progress Update

Last week, we were re-evaluating our rules for the Jabber Worthy game that we’re making, and this week we’ve got our full-time play-testers (that’s us!) busy testing our new simplified rules.

The changes that we made won’t take out any of the great swashbuckling aspects that we’ve promised, but it makes the game more streamline and easier to play.  (That’s a good thing.)

The game may even be able to be compared to the popular card games: Gin Rummy, Crazy Eight, Ninety-Nine, and Go Fish.

It’s got some positively pirate features too, including collecting doubloons, making bribes, battling cannonballs, collecting maps to find buried treasure, and fighting notorious pirates, most of which are historical from the Golden Age of Piracy.

Right now, we’re still currently working on trying to fit the game into a good length of time.  Please do me a favor, take the poll down below and tell us how long you think a good game-time would be.

The Holy Spirit, Our Paraclete

Have you ever heard the word paraclete? I had not heard it before today, although I should have, because I took Ancient Greek in 4th grade. (Shows how little I’ve read my Greek Bible since I was nine!) Paraclete is a word describing the Holy Spirit, our advocate, comforter, helper, and parakletos is the ancient Greek word with the same meaning. The word was originally used by the apostle John. I will share with you the four Bible verses that use the word parakletos, with the original Greek, and the literal English translation. It’s awesome. I got this from my Greek bible:

John 14:16

“καὶ ἐγὼ ἐρωτήσω τὸν πατέρα καὶ ἄλλον παράκλητον δώσει ὑμῖν, ἵνα μένῃ μεθ’ ὑμῶν εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα…” (“And I will ask the Father, and another Paraclete he will give you, that he may remain with you forever.”)

John 14:26

“ὁ.δὲ παράκλητος, τὸ Πνεῦμα τὸ Ἅγιον, ὃ πέμψει ὁ πατὴρ ἐν τῷ ὀνόματί.μου, ἐκεῖνος ὑμᾶς διδάξει πάντα, καὶ ὑπομνήσει ὑμᾶς πάντα ἃ εἶπον ὑμῖν.” (“But the Paraclete, the Spirit the Holy, whom will send the Father in my name, he you will teach all things, and will bring to remembrance your all things which I said to you.”)

John 15:26

“ὅταν.δὲ ἔλθῃ ὁ παράκλητος, ὃν ἐγὼ πέμψω ὑμῖν παρὰ τοῦ πατρός, τὸ Πνεῦμα τῆς ἀληθείας ὃ παρὰ τοῦ πατρὸς ἐκπορεύεται, ἐκεῖνος μαρτυρήσει περὶ ἐμοῦ·” (“But when is come the Paraclete, whom I will send to you from the Father, he will bear witness concerning me; also ye and bear witness, because [the] beginning with me ye are.”)

John 16:7

“ἀλλ’ ἐγὼ τὴν ἀλήθειαν λέγω ὑμῖν· συμφέρει ὑμῖν ἵνα ἐγὼ ἀπέλθω. ἐὰν.γὰρ ἐγὼ μὴ ἀπέλθω ὁ παράκλητος οὐκ ἐλεύσεται πρὸς ὑμᾶς· ἐὰν δὲ πορευθῶ, πέμψω αὐτὸν πρὸς ὑμᾶς·” (“But I the truth say to you, It is profitable for you that I should go away; for if I go not away the Paraclete will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.”)

Our modern English Oxford dictionary defines it the same:

Noun

(in Christian theology) the Holy Spirit as advocate or counsellor (John 14:16, 26)

Paraclete is a wonderful word that has disappeared from modern versions of the Bible, where we simply use the words Comforter, Helper, or Friend. I understand why, because a lot of modern people don’t know what that word means, but I think that should change. We should begin to use the word derived from the Greek again!

 

Be Comforted by the Rock of Ages

Today during worship, I sang the old hymn, Rock of Ages. It is a beautiful song, especially sung by the Mennonite Choir in the video above, and it’s also sung around the world; below there’s another sing-along video with the lyrics both in English and Khmer (the language of Cambodia), and also a third video by the choir at Michael’s Children Home. The choir in the third video has a mesmerizing new arrangement, starting at 1 minute and 28 seconds; I strongly recommend you take a listen.

I believe the diversity we have in Christ, and in our brothers and sisters around the globe, is indeed a pleasure to behold. I invite you to join me in song and praise, wherever you are, so we can make Christ’s joy complete.

To Sign or Not to Sign: Filmmakers’ Freedom

“’Youtube should support the right to free speech without censorship and discrimination.’

“Please go and sign, please go and sign the petition. You know what, we’re not just fighting for us – I hate to use that word fight. I’m not challenging their decision just for us. I’m challenging [Youtube] for ALL of you all, that if you have a conservative voice, or even if you have a voice and is being censored it’s wrong. Because still, that is still, a violation of your freedom –your 1st Amendment your freedom of speech- and you should be able to speak what you want to speak without somebody discriminating against you. Especially if you not even speaking hate speech. You just telling the truth about some things. Hun, they prefer to – Listen. They would prefer to hear well-dressed lies than the naked, nasty truth. And listen. I have to speak my mind, because it hurts me to bite my tongue. I can’t bite it, ya’ll!”

-Diamond and Silk, in a live video tonight (August 16, 2017) on Facebook

According to the Republican TV personalities Diamond and Silk, Youtube has plans to ostracize, isolate, and in a sense silence the voices of those who exercise their freedom of speech by uploading videos, whenever Youtube deems it “hate speech”, “violent extremism”, “controversial”, “religious”, or “supremacist content”. The videos will not be completely removed, only they will be limited to where comments, ads, and recommendation features are all disabled, so that people cannot support the users, and advertisers won’t have to pay for their ads to show on what seems to be offensive content.

How does this affect us as Christians, and how does this make us stronger rather than pull us apart?

Now, there are some things about Diamond and Silk I do not prefer. They use harsh language (which they frequently apologize for doing), they are somewhat extreme I will admit, and some may label their videos as hate speech, but unless either one of them actually commit a crime like stealing, murdering, vandalizing property, or harassing a person in a way that can be taken to court, I don’t agree that their freedom to speak their opinions should be limited, or if so, be fair about it and limit every single video where anyone is stating harsh views, including Republicans, Democrats, Christians, Muslims, LGBT activists, or anyone who expresses any strong viewpoints that are not acceptable to the opposite viewpoint. (I’m not for Youtube limiting everyone, I’m just making the point it is unfair to limit some, not others.) The question I want to ask: why is The Viewer’s View (aka Diamond and Silk)’s expression of views considered hate speech, and deserve a disabled and limited access to Youtube, whenever The View  (aka Joy Behar, Paula Faris, Sara Haines, Whoopi Goldberg) continues to receive all the benefits of monetization, etc? Only one answer: discrimination.

To speak in defense of Youtube for a minute, I had a conversation about this with someone else and she had a great point: if you don’t like how Youtube does it, go somewhere else and do business. As a business, maybe Youtube (owned by Google) should be able to deny their services to religious activists and extremists, and you may agree depending on if you are for or against that viewpoint.

If you do not agree with Youtube, and want for the video community to stay deep, diverse, inclusive, and accepting, please consider signing Diamond and Silk’s petition, which you can go to and sign at the link below. (Click on the picture.)

Diamond and Silk's Petition

Either way, Kat and my Youtube channel (Autumn Angel Art) will not be affected by the demonetization strategy, because we have chosen not to display ads. We have always wanted to keep our channel clean and without distraction; also, to keep our work as a ministry with no worship of money. That, however, is a personal choice and other religious (and not religious) users, I believe, should have the right to make money like anyone else, if that’s what they think is right for their needs.

Therefore, we have decided to sign the petition in respect to all filmmakers’ freedoms and rights, their equal standing with the world, but I also pray that other video sites prosper outside of Youtube. Soon, it may become a matter of conscience for video makers (Christian or not) to do business elsewhere. I know I will be doing research to find other places to upload and include my videos, in case the discrimination levels grow far worse and my channel is also affected or deleted. Perhaps Godtube and Vimeo are other choices?

 

Cure for the Guilty Conscience

Paradox of Matthew 5

“What joy of those who mourn…”

Matthew 5:4, paraphrased by Ted Kell

In Matthew 5:4, Jesus tells us that we will be blessed when we mourn. He’s not talking about the mourning that comes with a tragic event or with anxiety of tomorrow.  Nor does he refer to the despairing sorrows of the world or morbid self pity.  There’s a special kind of mourning that Jesus speaks of that brings us blessings.

It’s human nature to want to run away from something that you know you’ve done wrong.  Maybe you want to hide from it or brush it away and try to ignore it as best as you can.  But as Christians, we are called to mourn for our sins.  We mourn because we realize that we will never be perfect.

We are told in Hebrews 12:14 to “Make every effort to live in peace with all men and be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord” (NIV).  We must live a holy life to be an example for the people around us; but to be holy one must reach perfection, and it is impossible for us to live a perfect life, so we mourn because we fail our calling.  Like David when he wrote Psalm 38:17 & 18, “For I am about to fall, and my pain is ever with me. I confess my iniquity; I am troubled by my sin…” (NIV) and Isaiah in Isaiah 6:5 when he declares that ” ‘Woe to me!’ I cried. ‘I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty…” (NIV) we must recognize our sinfulness and we must mourn for it, because it’s our sins that lead to our death.

2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us that in Christ we are a new creation: “…the old has gone, the new has come!” (NIV) But when we sin, we return to our old sinful nature, and so we mourn.  We mourn because it is our sins that sends us to death, but Jesus took our place.  He was nailed on the cross for our sins.  We can never be perfect the way that He was perfect.

“Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.” Psalm 32:1

In our mourning because of how sinful we are, God sees our grief and He forgives us.  We can take comfort in His forgiveness and be joyful: our sins are erased and we are made alive when we believe in Christ and accept Him as our Lord and Savior.  (Ephesians 2:1-10) Our sinful death has become a merciful resurrection.

A letter from Paul to the church in Corinth, concerning godly grief and forgiveness (2 Corinthians 2:5-11,NIV; 7:2-16, ESV):

“If anyone has caused grief, he has not so much grieved me as he has grieved all of you to some extent — not to put it too severely. The punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient. Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him.  Another reason I wrote you was to see if you would stand the test and be obedient in everything. Anyone you forgive, I also forgive. And what I have forgiven — if there was anything to forgive — I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.  (2:5-11, NIV)

Make room in your hearts for us. We have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have taken advantage of no one. I do not say this to condemn you, for I said before that you are in our hearts, to die together and to live together I am acting with great boldness towards you: I have great pride in you; I am filled with comfort. In all our affliction, I am overflowing with joy. 

For even when we came into Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but we were afflicted at every turn — fighting without and fear within.  But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus, and not only by his coming but also by the comfort with which he was comforted by you, as he told us of your longing, your mourning, your zeal for me, so that I rejoiced still more  For even if I made  you grieve with my letter, I do not regret it — though I did regret it, for I see that the letter grieved you, though only for a while.  As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting.  For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us.

For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.  For see what earnestness this godly grief has produced in you, but also what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what punishment! At every point you have proved yourselves innocent in the matter. So although I wrote to you, it was not for the sake of the one who did the wrong, nor for the sake of the one who suffered the wrong, but in order that your earnestness for us might be revealed to you in the sight of God. Therefore we are comforted.  

And besides our own comfort, we rejoiced still more at the joy of Titus, because his spirit has been refreshed by you all. For whatever boasts I made to him about you, I was not put to shame. But just as everything we said to you was true, so also our boasting before Titus has proved true. And his affection for you is even greater, as he remembers the obedience of you all, how you received him with fear and trembling. I rejoice, because I have complete confidence in you.” (7:2-16, ESV)