Archive for October, 2006

Quote of the Week

Posted: 27 October, 2006 in Quote of the Week

For this week’s quote I decided to follow up on the quote from Spurgeon two weeks ago.
You may recall that the last quote was about Spurgeon working so hard and burning himself up for the Gospel. I think it would be good to balance that comment out with another of his utterances concerning rest. In Genesis in the Creation account God rests on the seventh day and expects us to do the same, he didnt rest because he was tired, but He knew that we are but dust and we need rest. He rested for our benefit and if we dont take rest seriously then it can have detrimental effects on our life!
Spurgeon chose to keep wednesday as his day of rest when possible (since he was a pastor his day of rest could not fall on a sunday – sunday is the culmination of a preacher’s week)

He says:

“Let no tender conscience doubt the lawfulness of going out of the harness for a while”

“A mouthful of sea-air, or a stiff walk in the wind’s face would not give grace to the soul but it would yield oxygen to the body which is next best”

The Idiot Box

Posted: 21 October, 2006 in My thoughts

On the table today we have “The Idiot Box”

So to use the words of Michael Collender from St Anne’s Public House: “Please, find a seat, grab yourself a sledgehammer and enjoy the conversation” D

You might be interested to know that TV wasn’t actually invented by The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, but rather by a guy called Philo Farnsworth. He was the man who first brought motion pictures into the house, but little did he know what an impact that would have on people living in the 21st century!
Unfortunately he lived in obscurity for the rest of his life.

Why movies and TV are different:
I don’t want to be mistaken here – I am by no means against entertainment and I do see a definite difference between television and watching a movie. Firstly, you pay before going to see a movie whereas TV is relatively free so long as the viewer agrees to be a customer – if he does not, TV has failed. For a movie to be successful it needs to have a good story or else it is shot down by the reviewers… TV on the other hand simply needs to be interesting enough to keep your eyes fixed to the screen until the next advertisement. Commercials pay for the programs and the programs keep the number who view the commercials up. And lastly, movies can be reviewed, and recommended by another person, whereas TV cannot. I cannot count how many times I have been disappointed by a dodgy scene on one of my favourite shows?

Almost three years ago my dad came up with the crazy notion of not having TV.
“Not having TV???,” we all cried – is there such an animal alive that does not have TV? What sort of low levels of survival will we have to accept without TV? What will we do with ourselves without TV, I mean I’ll be bored out of my mind wont I?

Well at first I told myself not to panic, I was sure this disease of my dad’s mind would be cured somehow and we would all live, but it only got worse, until finally the day came when I arrived home from school turned on the TV only to watch some oddly coloured snow being blown around the screen. I ran outside and saw that the TV aerial was missing! My dad had done it!

At school of course all my friends looked at me with such pity as might be expected for a person with a deceased relative. One of them told me vehemently that if his dad took the aerial down he would climb right onto the roof and put it back! (At the time this sounded like a good plan)
For at least a month I was angry with my dad for what he had done, until I started to think. I realised that I really wasn’t missing TV that much and I actually began to consider the advantages of having no TV in the house.

You may not have noticed how consumerist our culture is. Everything is driven towards consumerism. You cannot go anywhere without someone or something telling you why you should buy a certain type of lice shampoo or brand of nose hair shaver? If someone were to walk into a room wearing plain clothes – decent, but simple none-the-less and another person walked into the room wearing a Billabong top, Oakley sunglasses and puma shoes wouldnt you (if not consciously, then subconsciously) think more highly of the person wearing the brand?
It is no wonder why people are willing to pay two thousand rand for a pair of shoes which may not be anything special except for the little tag that says: “Nike” ?

This has been steadily affecting churches! I’ve heard of a church in the USA who advertised their services because of their wireless hotspot so that people would not be limited to listening to the sermon but could surf the net on their palmtops when they grow bored.
All over the world one can see an increase in the amount of “programs” used. The gospel alone is no longer good enough; we need to get something out of it as well. Salvation is no longer a forgiveness of sins, but a contract with God who will give you success in all spheres of life.

One might think: “That is fine, all that is ‘out there’”, but if you took a look at your own prayers you would find that the majority of your time spent in prayer asking God for things? We don’t spend much time praising him for who he is and not just for what he has done? Our prayers can sometimes sound much more like shopping lists than a humble thankfulness to God! We have so much to be thankful for but we so easily ignore all that – we want more and more and more!

I trust you are beginning to see how commercialised, consumeristic, and focussed on materialism we have become without realising it!
What could be the reason for this? I put it to you that TV plays a major role.
It makes us discontent, it causes us to lust, to covet and to become dissatisfied with humbleness and start to adopt the world’s way of thinking!
I have but scratched the surface here, TV could easily be called the root of so many evils.

Michael Collender makes the point that TV has moved the shopping mall into our homes! This is beginning to become scary! See how much of our lives we have allowed this little black box to take over and define for us.

You might have noticed how short the concentration span of younger children has become. This is a new trend and can be attributed to the fast-paced action of TV. Images on TV are constantly changing to keep the viewer watching and kids are no longer interested by listening to a story which takes a little time to reach its climax. (For those of you who have the chance to watch the kids in AWANA when my dad tells them a story, take note, you can see them switching off as soon as the action dies down even slightly… this is a major problem for teachers especially!)

The other thing I have noticed and you might disagree with me on this point, but surely the cartoon characters are looking warped? Sometimes you have to really exercise your imagination to figure out what type of animal the character is! But that’s just a personal pet peeve I have )

I’m not writing to promote reading at the moment, but you must notice the difference. When you read your mind is engaged in interpreting the squiggles on the page, joining thoughts together and formulating a mental image of what is being described. Television on the other hand is completely passive entertainment, someone is thinking for you, giving you a picture of what is going on, and all you are required to do is to sit back, switch off and glue your eyeballs to the screen. This is why I thought that “the idiot box” would be a fitting heading – it doesnt take much more than an idiot to stare at a black box for hours on end and be entertained by it.

So after thinking on all of these points I came to the conclusion that not only was I better off without TV, but that I was living a life more free. Free of bondage to the little black box, free of hours wasted sitting watching stuff which really did me no good whatsoever. I actually came to be thankful to my dad, and I realised that it was the best thing he could have done for us.

Some of us have adopted the motto of The Rebelution: “Rebelling against the low expectations of an ungodly culture”, well surely if there ever was a way to rebel against the rot that the world is offering it would be to trash the TV’s at home? Imagine what a testimony it would be if Christians refused to be brainwashed into little consumers and trashed their TV to concentrate their lives more on the things of God and were truly living in this world but were also truly alien to it?

Getting rid of your TV is a radical thing to do in the eyes of the world and doesn’t go unnoticed, although I promise that you won’t regret it. It really isn’t as hard as it sounds.
I’m not calling for no entertainment, but I hope I have at least caused you to think, and beware of the wiles of the world which you are being offered daily and accepting with sickening gusto.

I by no means look down on Christians who choose not to do as my family has done, for not everything on TV is bad. In fact there is a lot good on TV, and perhaps abstinence is ‘the easy way out’, but if my post has at least caused you to be on your guard then it has succeeded.

We have been called to make a difference, and I truly believe this a way that we can do this in our own lives. By being selective over what we watch, and guarding our minds. Paul says: “And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.”

Our family pushed the little red button in time, will you be able to find it before it’s too late?

Quote of the Week

Posted: 16 October, 2006 in Quote of the Week

I recieved an email the other day from one of my friends. In this letter we spoke about abortion which brought a brilliant quote which I came accross when I was still at Springs Baptist.
I was musing about how on earth people can justify abortion! Just imagine how numb your concience must get as a doctor who does abortions!

If there is anything worse than our sin, it’s our infinite capacity to rationalize it away” ~ Charles Colson

It’s pretty sobering to think how quickly your mind makes all sorts of excuses for sin but if you just follow the path it takes you down you find that pretty soon your mind has rationalized abortion, fornication, murder and every thinkable sin away as necessary or “not so bad”. I think thats scary.
Lets not conform to the culture and never stop thinking – when a people lose their ability to think for themselvesm, and instead just accept things because they are normal they have put themselves in a very dangerous position.

In Plato’s Republic he likens some people to men who live in a cave an cannot move their necks at all. They stare at the back of the cave all day and watch the shadows of the outside world moving around. They are taken up with these shadows because it is all they know. He claims that it is the job of a philosopher to slowly turn them around and show them the real world.

My point in this story is to simply this. If we never wonder where the shadows are coming from, never wonder what is causing them we will be happy to spend the rest of our lives staring at those shadows. Never accept things because they seem “normal” – it may be a detrimental mistake! Always question and search things out in the Bible (our untimate authority) If we do not think then we will easily find ways to justify abortion, murder, and every other type of sin because the arguements past down to us will seem convincing. Imagine what judgement we could bring on ourselves if we stop checking things out in the scripture and thinking in general?! If we never set a standard and stick to it where will we be in 50 years? The standard is the word of GOD!

Quote of the Week

Posted: 8 October, 2006 in Quote of the Week

Hey guys

Just looking at the quotes that Allison finds to put up on the YP/YA board every week and realising the motivating effect some words spoken by a godly man or woman can produce I’ve decided to start a “Quote of the Week” section of The Silver Sword.

I’ve started reading part 1 of Spurgeon’s 2 volume autobiography and this man has already challenged me in hudreds of ways. I hope to write more about him when I’m done with the bio’s.
He really was an amazing guy with a zeal for God second-to-none I’m sure!
As some of you may know, CH Spurgeon was an increadibly hard-worker, he: looked after an orphanage which he started, he had a church of 4000 members, (marriages and burials), weekly sermon to be revised, The Sword and Trowel (magazine of which he was the editor) to be edited, and besides that, a weekly average of 500 letters to be answered!

This was only half of the duty of spurgeon

  • He had established many churches and was closely connected with the things thereof.
  • At his 55th birthday they listed 66 institutions he had founded and was overseeing.
  • He read 6 books of theology every week and could remember what he read and tell you on which page it was found.
  • He often worked 18 hours a day.

David Livingstone asked him how he managed to do the work of two men in one day and he replied: “You have forgotten, there are two of us”

Wow! He’s right – lets not forget it!

Hey guys, I know I havent posted for ages – I’m sorry. Seeing as I’ve just started homeschooling I’ve been really busy trying to catch up the year. But anyway, I’ve got the house to myself this afternoon and a spare hour so I’ll post again!

The Copyright Law ©

The symbol “
©” can cause so much trouble in some people’s lives, while others might not even know what it is. The copyright law in plain simple english can be defined as follows:

Copyright is a protection that covers published and unpublished literary, scientific and artistic works, whatever the form of expression, provided such works are fixed in a tangible or material form. This means that if you can see it, hear it and/or touch it – it may be protected. If it is an essay, if it is a play, if it is a song, if it is a funky original dance move, if it is a photograph, HTML coding or a computer graphic that can be set on paper, recorded on tape or saved to a hard drive, it may be protected. Copyright laws grant the creator the exclusive right to reproduce, prepare derivative works, distribute, perform and display the work publicly. Exclusive means only the creator of such work, not anybody who has access to it and decides to grab it.” http://whatiscopyright.org/

To some of you this may mean nothing, but to other christian computer users this is a pretty big issue which cannot just be overlooked. If my own conscience is anything to go by, this is a difficult law which I have often wished didnt exist. But it does and we need to find out how this affects us and avoid sinning.

There are two clear Biblical commandments which apply well to this law.

Exodus 20:15 states it so clearly that even a child could not misunderstand the commantment: “You shall not steal.” There is no way around that one, no matter how you twist it the words still stand “You shall not steal”.

Secondly: Heb 13:17 “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves…”

Ok, so there we have it – we must obey our governments who came up with these laws, and we must not steal.
Your next question might be: “Well what am I stealing when I copy a program/game/song? I provide my own disk or hard drive which I bought legally from a shop
This brings up the weird realm of intellectual property. Intellectual property is something which is intangible, yet it can be owned eg. ideas, or information etc.
I call this “weird” because when you think about it for any length of time it begins to make sense and no make sense at the same time – does that make sense? 😀

This means that you can own a thought as long as you have recorded it on some tangible medium!

The practical implications of intellectual property means that copying a song from a cd is stealing the artist’s idea. The artist has the sole-right to copy his idea and market it.
This brings forward another strange concept… you dont own a single program on your pc, or a song on your cd’s no matter how many you think you own. Not one of them is truly yours! You may think you have bought Windows XP, when infact all you own is the right to use Windows, play that song or utilise that program – Believe it or not.

There are open – source, freeware, and shareware software which may be copied, but I wont go into detail with these – they make it abundantly clear that they are free – Linux is a good example.

Mp3 downloads are also illegal unless they come from a site that pays a percentage to the artist for every download – these will most likely make you pay for the song too. This is still much cheaper than buying the cd, and is nice because you dont need to download the whole album either.

Ok – so maybe you’re still unscathed? Unfortunately even most pictures on the internet are copyrighted. This means that a lot of the pictures we use on forums etc may be “stolen”!

BUT… as long as you credit your source you can still use the picture. If you do this properly it takes ages to write it all out, but a simple http addess and the name of the website should do.

When I was reading up for this post I found something which I disagreed with, but its true none the less. Al lot of Bible versions are copyright protected! This is the reason the KJV is often used by churches like my own who print Bible tracts, and gospels. The NIV on the other hand is copyrighted and is extremely hard to come by with regards to Bible programs. (E-sword is public domain software and is a really brilliant program! http://www.e-sword.net/ -their motto is great! “Freely you have received, freely give”) Just in case you get a fright, you are allowed to quote passages from the Bible, just not extended portions like a whole book… I’m not quite sure how they define that though… I think it’s ridiculous!

There are “fair uses” of stuff though… you need proof for these, so its a bit dodgy 😐
Fair use of copyrighted material allows you to use the stuff without permission for educational purposes, parodies (like Appologetix), news reports and research.

Some conclusions I’ve come to:

  • I’ve spoken to many people about this, and some older men who I respect find nothing wrong with copying a program to test it. I see no fault in this either. The trial versions are always very limited and dont give an acurate impression.
  • You are entitled to a single copy of a cd that you own. This is for your own use though and try though you might, you cant justify copying someone elses stuff like this.
  • I dont think there is anything wrong with playing your music at a party, get together of your friends
  • I dont believe that you need to buy a licence to share a game with your friend for a LAN over a weekend for example provided he deletes it afterwards.
  • I believe there are exceptional circumstances which allow for copying, but they are few and far between
  • Quite aside to all this, I’ve come to the conclusion that cracks are good things! They are completely legal as long as you own an original copy of the program – this saves cds big time! (Cracking programs is downloading a piece of code some geek has written which overwrites the code in a program which requires a cd to be present in the CD-ROM before it will run. Pirates use this to copy games, but it can be used to preserve cd’s and save the hassle of putting a cd in, and taking it out…)

You might have come across websites which claim to have free mp3 downloads… 99,9% are lying. But here’s a principle to use: If you have any doubt as to whether or not the stuff is copyrighted, dont use it.

A few months ago I was convicted of this sin… I didnt have much copied stuff, but I still had a few cd’s and other things. I made up my mind to do the hard thing and throw them all away. You can try every way thinkable to justify copies, but you just cant. It’s wrong and although you will probably never get caught for copying something, 1 Chronicles 28:9 says:

“And you, Solomon my son, know the God of your father and serve him with a whole heart and with a willing mind, for the LORD searches all hearts and understands every plan and thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will cast you off forever.”

God sees all hearts and Romans 14:12 reminds us: “So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.”

So to all those who like me know you are breaching this law I encourage you to do the hard thing for the sake of righteousness!