Do you remember turning on your first laptop and being memorized by the beautiful wallpaper screen that popped up? The colors were so crisp and bright, unlike anything you’d seen up to that point. I’ve had two laptops so far in my life. I specifically remember the first time I turned them on and wallpaper images that greeted me.
Windows XP operating system has a default wallpaper called “Bliss”. Green rolling hills meet a brilliantly blue sky; are you familiar with the image? It has been called the most viewed image in the world. And rightfully so, it has been viewed by over 1 billion people since it was chosen in 2001. Microsoft recently posted a YouTube video that explains the origin of the image by interviewing the creator Charles O’Rear. This video serves as a farewell to Windows XP (and “Bliss”) since Microsoft is no longer supporting the operating system as of April 8th, 2014. They may have moved on but since this image has been etched into our brains it will not be easily forgotten. Photo Credit: oddsock via Compfight cc
Shelby Systems would like to wish everyone a Happy Easter. May our hearts comprehend the completeness of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. May we realize our need for forgiveness not just during Holy Week but every day. May we rejoice in the sacrifice the Lord has given us and our hearts be so full of gratitude that our lives drastically change. Glory to God for the things He has done.
Shelby Systems will be closed tomorrow, Friday, April 18th as we celebrate Good Friday with our families and friends. We will be back to normal business hours on Monday, April 21st.
This past weekend, my 4th and 5th graders and I learned about Jesus entering Jerusalem on a donkey; better known to some as the triumphal entry. The crowds cheered as He approached the city. They had heard of Him but most people had not yet seen Him. They were prepared to be blown away by the royal procession of this warrior King who they expected to be much like His ancestor David. This Warrior would fight for them and give them victory over their oppressors. He was the Messiah whom they had long awaited and He was here!!!
Were they disappointed when they saw their King; whose royal procession consisted entirely of a humble donkey and his followers on foot? Did they have second thoughts when He was not built like a solider and when He did not wear garments fit for a King? He was rumored to have done miracles; so hopefully He could do just one more and out smart Caesar and his legions. As we look back, we know Jesus had a different agenda. This agenda was not to save Israel from Roman rule but to save all humanity from their sins and death. He would restore the relationship between God the Father and His beloved creation.
As a learning technique I often tell my kids to picture themselves within a story. It is interesting, that as humans we usually pick the “good characters” within a story as the roles in which we most relate. However, this story poses a problem to that instinct because all characters, including Jesus’ dearest friends, are unfaithful and tainted with sin. The truth is we are all sinners. So we fit in this story quite well.
Your personality might find it difficult to imagine; after all imagination is not “real” so maybe it should be reserved for children. Well, if that is the case I would propose that we aren’t as grown up as we might have thought. Our imaginations are working overtime trying to convince ourselves that we aren’t “that bad”; when in reality all have sinned and sin = death. If you have never sinned then you do not need forgiveness. If you are the “good character” in the story then you are forfeiting precious forgiveness that is freely offered. Yet if you are the “bad character”, or a sinner, then realizing your personal offences against God (sin) makes the forgiveness that much sweeter. This realization has helped me embrace my real character and trade it in quickly for forgiveness.
I pray that by His gracious mercy He will cultivate in us hearts of true repentance so we might truly see Him for who He is and receive the forgiveness that is ours to take. And when He does cultivate our hearts, may He receive all the glory He deserves. Happy Easter everyone!!
Summer is fast approaching and for those of us in ministry that means lots of planning, packing and sending people out on mission trips. It is always an encouraging experience to take part in these trips whether you serve or whether you support the team and pray from home. One of my favorite aspects of mission trips is when the team returns and shares about their experience. It is always encouraging. The truth is you might not see fruit from your efforts while you are on the trip, especially if you are only there short term, but in my experience the Lord is gracious and always cultivates much fruit in the heart of those who were faithful to go and serve.
I can speak from experience, seeing life in another culture has impacted me greatly. A few years ago I went to Brazil for two months. There is nothing quite as humbling as being completely helpless and unable to communicate in a culture that is not your own. The Lord showed me how truly dependent I am. He provides for my every need but I learned through this experience that I often think that I provide for myself. #humbled
Out of all the lessons to be learned on a mission trip the one that stands out above the rest is a greater understanding of the gospel. We may go on trips that allow us to serve in various ways; yet when we share the gospel with those who have never heard it or who do not speak our language it requires us to think deeper. The truth that changed your life can be easily downplayed in this world. Meaningful words can lose their meaning. However, when all of a sudden you are no longer on the receiving end but you are now the one ministering to others you search hard for the right words. This is a pivotal moment of growth.
Nothing can substitute for the time spent wrestling to understand and explain the gospel. Yet thankfully we are surrounded by such a cloud of witnesses that others have created resources to aid us in learning and teaching the gospel. One of my coworkers recently told me about KnowTheGospel.org. This site is one of many that offers witnessing tools. I especially like these resources because they are simple and backed up with scripture. Hope you find this helpful.
Where are your churches headed this summer? What has God taught you while serving on a mission trip?
Shelby Podcast: Big Daddy Weave – ISC 2014 Worship Leaders from Shelby Systems Media on Vimeo.
Big Daddy Weave will be performing a live concert on June 5th at ISC 2014 in St. Louis, MO! Lead singer Mike Weaver joins us today to tell us what to expect during worship and praise time at the conference this summer. In this brief interview, discover the origin of their band name, how they met, their biggest musical influences, what it was like touring with Mark Schultz, why their new album has been so successful (three #1 hits), and don’t miss the poignant story behind the writing of the hit song “Redeemed.” Make sure you watch the end of the video for a mini-concert of Big Daddy Weave songs guaranteed to bring a smile to your face and get you excited about the conference.
Who is God? What is the meaning of the cross? Many have learned the answer to these and many other questions while sitting under the teaching of Dr. Billy Graham. Dr. Graham has preached to such an array of people that it is likely you know someone who came to the Lord through one of his crusades. I know I do! The director of my college ministry came to the Lord while watching Dr. Graham on television as a teenager!! Thankfully Dr. Graham is still broadcasting the gospel on television at age 95. This video was made by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association it was shown on national television in late 2013.
Dr. Graham says, “sin is a disease in the human heart that affects the mind, and the will, and the emotions; every part of our being is affected by this disease. How can we break this bondage? How can we be set free? God helps us break those chains. The bible says if any man be in Christ he is a new creature, old things past away, everything becomes new. He can make you a totally new person.”
To say life on this earth is “hard” would be a severe understatement. Life is beyond hard for each of us but thankfully there is a Savior who died for our sins. Jesus offers us true forgiveness and life by faith in the Son of God. This video is encouraging to watch as it depicts the journeys of two individuals whose lives have been forever changed by Christ. You will not regret the time commitment of watching this one.
John Calvin said the human heart is an idol factory. Which means our hearts are consistently creating self-salvation strategies’; constantly creating competitors that take the role that Jesus wants to play in our lives. We often act from a mindset; if I can just do something to get away from life then I will be happy, have purpose, feel relieved, be joyful and obtain affirmation. The question is, what do we turn to for this fulfillment?
Idols are subtle. You could say they are like a thief in the night, we often do not see them coming but we realize later that they have been there after they have stolen all of our joy. We usually get in over our heads before we even realize we have bought into the deception. Idols always over promise and under deliver. Jesus always delivers and never lets us down. He is faithful yesterday, today and forever. An important part of trusting Jesus is that we must turn away from the idols our hearts have manufactured. We must identify our idols so we can turn from them and run to the ultimate relief offered in Jesus.
Here are some diagnostic tools to help us identify these idols in our lives.
1. What do I worry about most?
2. What, if I failed or lost it, would cause me to feel like I did not even want to live?
3. What do I run to in order to comfort myself when things go bad or get difficult?
4. What makes me feel the most self-worth? Of what am I the proudest? For what do I want to be known?
5. What do I often lead with in conversation?
6. Early on, what do I want to make sure people know about me?’
It isn’t pretty. Chances are you just uncovered a whole mess of issues some that you were aware of and some that are just now surfacing. It can be overwhelming, but before you let it get too far, give these burdens and guilt to the Lord. Trade it for the forgiveness that is so rightfully yours thanks to Christ. Identify the idols, turn away from them, give the struggles, fears and failures to Christ and receive the joy that comes freely. Repeat.
Photo Credit: Blue Pylons via Compfight cc
Hear what ISC Keynote Speaker Anne Marie Miller has to say to you about the upcoming International Shelby Conference. Watch this video. You can sign up for ISC here.
ISC 2014 Promo – Anne Marie Miller from Shelby Systems Media on Vimeo.
Oxford University Philosophy Professor, Dr. Vince Vitale, informs viewers through a Ravi Zacharias International Ministries sponsored You Tube video that “God’s Not Dead”. Vitale sets out to contradict the current notion that the world is moving farther and farther away from being able to prove that God is real and alive but instead notifies viewers of the exact opposite. God is alive and active and is revered even at the top universities around the world.
Vitale quotes well-known atheist philosopher, Quentin Smith, who admits debates between religious philosophers and philosophers that do not specialize in religion will end in favor of the religious philosophers in every argument. He speaks of sociologist Peter Berger who at one time predicted the secularization theory; he believed the more modern and technical the world becomes the more secular it will become. Berger has since abandoned this theory that he once stood by simply because evidence proves the contrary. Vitale also speaks of the works of prominent British philosopher of religion, Richard Swinburne, who concludes that based on evidence today it is 97% probable that Jesus Christ was resurrected from the dead. His theory is supported with probability and expressed in his book The Resurrection of God Incarnate. This must be a very strong case for Oxford University to publish such a book. God is not dead. Rather He is alive and being sought after by some of the highest intellectuals today.
Vitale concludes by sharing a quote from famous German atheist Friedrich Nietzsche as saying “if there were gods how could I bare not to be a god”. Which reveals the human nature to focus on and worship self. Self: a finite being that has no control over anything much less one’s self. One question that was pivotal in Vitale’s faith, “If we think it is our minds that keep us from God then we might not be dealing with the arguments at the highest level”. Which I interpret to mean, if we cannot remove ourselves from the equation long enough to entertain the idea of a greater One existing, then we need intervention. Thankfully there is a gracious God who is alive and active who loves His creation so much He does not leave them in their sin!!