Saturday, February 29, 2020

Ministry Update and Shout-outs for Leap Day 2020

Here are a few random items to close out February for this leap year.

Updates you may have missed:

We’ve finished and uploaded our Introductions to the books of Jeremiah and Lamentations, and the book of Galatians is in progress. When we first started this section, my original goal was to complete all the Bible’s books and sections by the end of 2012. Obviously, we’re not going to make that overly ambitious goal, but we’re now over halfway there and hope to pick up the pace. This is still one of our top priorities and we’ve expanded each article to include not only general information, key verses, authors, timelines, themes and purposes, but also brief surveys, historical backgrounds, theology, and interpretation hints and challenges. These articles have also resulted in many spin-off writings.

We’ve-formatted our Bible Reading Plans section for easier navigation and clarity for those who’d like to start a new plan this year. Our Bible reading plans are setup so that anyone can start and end anytime, not just at the start of a new year.

We also added SSL encryption to our main website and our Real Issues Blog for additional reader security by encrypting all data passing back and forth between our server and the browsers of our readers.

Personally, I’ve finally been able to cut back my hours on my regular job to free up more time for research, writing, and additional website updates. For the handful of readers that may be interested, I recently posted a A Personal Mini-History regarding my work over the past ten years or so.

A Couple of Shout-outs:

The first one is about 18 months overdue. In 2018, I received a very cordial email from Evan Plant, director of Mainsail Ministries. Evan has also been serving as a question responder for over ten year at Got Questions Ministries, one of the top Christain sites on the web. He notified us that he had used one our articles on the intermarriage of Ruth and Boaz as a resource for the question Should Ruth's being a Moabite have excluded David from being king?

We were very excited to hear this, and after exchanging a few emails, I also learned that Evan and I had similar technical backgrounds before he retired to concentrate full-time on his ministries. Hopefully, I'll be following him along a similar path soon. Thanks again Evan for using our article in your work. I highly recommend that our readers visit the Mainsail website for additional fine articles.

The second shout-out goes to Emerson de Oliveira of Logos Apologética Cristã (Christian Apologetics Logos). Emerson translated and published our article Benefits and Blessings of Studying Theology at Os benefícios de estudar teologia. This was also done in 2018 but I only stumbled onto it recently by accident.

I’ve always wanted to get some of our articles transferred into other languages but haven’t had the knowledge or the resources. I’ve issued engineering documents in Spanish and German in the past, but only did the technical terms myself. I always had to get help in creating sentences with proper grammar. Thanks so much Emerson for translating our article. We highly recommend Emerson’s site to our Spanish speaking readers.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Born this Way?

Guest Post by Jim Beatty – a fellow Servant of Jesus Christ

Webmaster Note: Jim wrote this excellent article after the Lady Gaga song and album came out, but his writing had been previously rejected by others as being “too controversial” and/or anti-gay. Yet, an honest reading of the article makes clear that Jim is addressing a universal condition that affects each of us, both homosexuals and heterosexuals alike.

“Baby, I was Born This Way!” - Lady Gaga, 2011

But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” Genesis 3:4-5 (ESV).

It was the incident in the Garden of Eden that gave each of us all our sinful nature. In Romans 5:12, Paul says “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned”. Jeremiah 17:9 explains “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” David said in Psalm 51:5 “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me”. Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 7:20 “Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins”, and in Romans 3:23, Paul said “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”.

While I don't think that anyone’s theology should be based on some pop/rock song of the past, Lady Gaga does make a good and true point that we're all “born this way” (I can't say that I agree with the rest of the song though, but you can find the lyrics on your favorite search engine and judge that for yourself).

We’re all “born this way”, myself included, which is to say we’re all born with a sinful nature. This sinful nature grows differently in different people and manifests differently in each of us - blossoming into different “flavors”, one might say. A thief is “born this way”, as is an adulterer, a murderer, a liar, a gossip, a greedy person, a swindler, a fornicator, or anyone who oppresses the poor and feeble are all “born this way” (Ref: 1st Corinthians 6:9-10, Galatians 5:19-21, Colossians 3:5-6 and other passages).

God does not want us to stay “this way”, however, as is made abundantly clear throughout scripture, in fact we are at enmity with God when we are “this way” (Genesis 3:15).

God does love us however, and offers us all a way out of our bondage to this sinful nature! Jesus is quoted in Mark 2:17 “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners”. Paul also tells us “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:6), and although we are “born this way” God gives us the opportunity to change all that!

Matthew 3:3-5 says that Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God”. Nicodemus then asked him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God”. The way to change from being “born this way” is to be “born again”.

So although all of us were truly “born this way”, we don't have to stay this way! Therefore if any man be in Christ he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new (2nd Corinthians 5:17), and Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1).

Thursday, February 20, 2020

A Personal Mini-History and Notes

We began our blog (in its current form) in the summer of 2009. As longtime readers have probably noticed, the frequency of our posts steadily decreased after the first few years due to the external workload of the primary blogger (me) sharply increasing. In 2012, I took on several new electrical engineering design projects such as the largest shipping terminal in Costa Rico, a new Substation for the US Coast Guard in Puerto Rico, a Naval Base in Florida, and a major maritime port in New Jersey. Then, from 2013 – 2016, I took on the Substation, Transmission and Distribution, and Telecommunication design of several industrial cities in the Middle East, during which a veteran engineer and great friend whom I’d been splitting some of the work retired.

After getting a few weeks break in the summer of 2016, I then took on several major Ports and Maritime projects along the East Coast, with scarcely a day off (including weekends and holidays) for the next two years. I was then contemplating retirement, but took on another project for the Navy in which the design phase ended last week. So, I’m once again seeking God’s will whether to retire in order to research, write and minister full time, or to continue working. Whatever happens, I’m hoping to at least cut back on my engineering work, perhaps to a part-time consultant, so that I may spend more time on our website, blog, and other ministries. Thank you for your continued prayers and support.