Posts Tagged ‘world vision’

Prophecy in the Ages of Silence

Thursday, February 19th, 2015

Prophecy in the Ages of Silence is another topic suggested to me by a friend.  It is a topic I have pondered for some time, so I suppose it is time for me to break my own silence on the subject.

Have you ever heard the phrase “History is written by the victors.”? Revisionist history is a fact. The basis for it is at the root of our human condition. Everyone has an opinion. Everyone will go to great lengths to defend that opinion, and those in power, church or state, have the power to publish that opinion for posterity as fact. This was true in the ancient world and is true today, so we must look at history from a spiritual perspective if we hope to uncover the Truth that God wants us to see.

In some cases, as in the events related in Matthew 1, multiple versions of history survive. A great divide occurred in the Jewish community in that d

ay, one side believing the events were the messianic prophecy unfolding, the other side, determined it was not. The Jewish New Testament Commentary by David H Stern states, “The early Rabbis developed a tradition that Jesus was the illegitimate son of Mary and a Roman soldier named Pantera.” Whatever their reasons, a small group of leaders could not accept the way this prophecy came to pass, and so discounted it. Those who believed became the ancient Christians, those who did not evolved into modern Jewry.

Prophecy in a historical timeline

Because I believe that God is ultimately in control, I believe that this divide was part of His plan, and similarly, the events unfolding in the world today are indeed part of His plan. We are witnessing another of the prominent religions, Islam, experiencing a great division between radical extremists interpreting their scriptures in a far different manner than a peaceful majority. Just as our Christian cannon of scripture paints the Pharisees and Sadducees as villains, a close look at the Jewish writings of the times paints them as primarily righteous leaders with a few radical extremists muddying up the waters.

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The Changing Face of Web Ministry

Saturday, April 13th, 2013

Web Ministry –  The Humble Beginnings


Back in the day… well actually not that long ago, the internet was new and we marvelled at how cool it was to be able to email instead of snail mail. At first it was small businesses that kick started personal use of computers, but as personal computers became more affordable, everything began to change – and it changed very quickly.  I remember the very first email I sent. It was actually in 1980 something when the company I worked for set up inter-office email.  Back then, no one even considered that someday there would be such a thing as Web Ministry.


Fast forward a few years and the middle class yuppies had embraced email as their favorite way to stay in touch with friends and family. I suppose it was because of the speed at which the messages were delivered, that the nature of the message content also changed. This, I believe, was the birthing place of what came to be known as Web Ministry.  There was much concern about the content that would end up flowing through cyberspace, and with good reason. The devil was going pounce upon the opportunity to have a hand in anything that could reach so many people so quickly, and likewise God’s people would respond with something uplifting.  Instead of the long letters we used to write about our summer vacation or the what had been going on at work, play, and school, the masses were sending, and forwarding dirty jokes and inspirational stories at an alarmingly increasing rate.  As the web expanded with business and entertainment content, dirty jokes gave way to a booming porn industry and inspirational stories gave way to the first attempts at real Web Ministry. I am sad to say the the devil got the bigger foothold initially, and God’s people were not yet prepared to battle for souls in this unknown territory.

Web Ministry – Coming of Age


It was early in 2007 when I first began to really engage online for business reasons.  I took a course in web marketing, and started learning about building websites. At this time, most churches had some kind of website to make information about the church available to the seeking public, and most of the big name evangelists had websites that offered some spiritual educational content and sold their books. I suppose we could call that the second phase of Web Ministry.  At the same time however, many individuals, myself included, felt a call to be the hands and feet of Jesus on the web, and that is when Web Ministry really began to take hold.


The project I undertook for my web marketing course, which was in stark contrast to my classmate’s commercial websites and sales funnels, was a 31 day study in The Book of Proverbs, offered via email subscription. That site is still live today, and ranks in the top 200,000 websites in the US, and the top 1.5 million worldwide. Considering there are an estimated 182 million websites worldwide (according to Netcraft), and my novice attempt at web ministry is in the top 1% based on traffic, it seems pretty obvious that Web Ministry works. But how far can we, or should we take it?


Web MinistryWeb MinistryWeb Ministry

Web Ministry – To Fulfil the Great Commission


The United Methodist Church, firmly rooted in the style of John Wesley “going to where the spiritual hunger is” has committed to and meticulously researched the potential for Web Ministry, responding with websites, web content, e-newsletters, and even their own social networking platform at ReThinkChurch.org. I am currently taking their online training to equip leaders for Web Ministry for the future. Ideas being discussed are things like live discipleship webinars, interactive calendars that link to your Google calendar, webcast worship services for the homebound, prayer partners via live chat, facebook pages and groups, online committee meetings, and much, much more.


There is still some push back from the traditionalists that hear the words Web Ministry, and understand that to mean that static informational site, and that response is understandable – change can be hard, but… reality is that prayer chains, worship, study, counselling, spiritual warfare, meetings, small groups, even healing services are all going digital. The face of Web Ministry is evolving and expanding, and that gets me very excited!


Blessings & Adventure,


Lynn “lynnibug” Rios


Stop Hunger Now

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

This past Saturday my church partnered with Stop Hunger Now

with the goal of packaging 10,000 nutritious meals for distribution to some of the world’s most vulnerable people.  What an amazing experience it was!  Stop Hunger Now has developed a process of bringing raw materials and volunteers together to accomplish the “moving of the mountain” of hunger in a way that energizes a spirit of service among the participants.


Stop Hunger NowIn the weeks leading up to the big day we promoted the event in our neighborhood and raised the necessary funds to pay for the food we would be packaging.  We had hoped to have about 50 volunteers for the event.  When we gathered in the fellowship hall at Forest Hills United Methodist Church just before 10:00 am, we had over 100 volunteers!  Groups had come from Temple Terrace UMC, Lake Magdalene UMC, First UMC of Lutz, Saint Timothy Catholic Church, Lake Carroll Baptist Church, Oak Grove UMC, and neighbors from all around us.


Robert Samuels, the Stop Hunger Now program manager for Orlando, FL instructed us in forming teams to perform the necessary steps and we went to work.  It was like a perfectly orchestrated symphony of human effort striving toward a goal that was larger than life.


Stop Hunger Now


Stop Hunger Now

“Stop Hunger Now provides meals to support school feeding programs in schools and orphanages around the world.


This is a pivotal step because children in impoverished areas are often sent to school if they will be fed.  The education they receive is the turning point at which many negative factors such as infant mortality, disease, and gender inequality are impacted and communities can begin to heal themselves.”

Stop Hunger Now

Stop Hunger Now


Now here is something that doesn’t happen often…  About 40 minutes into the project, our pastor asked that some of the people who were working please take a break so that everyone who came could have an opportunity to participate!  After about an hour and a half we had packaged a total of 10,040 meals, and everyone was talking about when we might be able to do this again.


Stop Hunger Now

Stop Hunger Now

Our Stop Hunger Now event was a great success in every imaginable way!


It was fun and engaging, and it infused a new level of unifying energy into our church.  It was a corporate experience of being the hands and feet of Christ together, evidence that when the Church comes together with a unifying purpose, much prayer, and a willingness to pitch in, we can speak to that mountain and it will move!


Blessings & Adventure,


Lynn “lynnibug” Rios


What is a Christian?

Thursday, February 9th, 2012

I have learned that the word Christian means different things to different observers.


The reason for this is that many who profess to be Christian do not reflect the true meaning of the word.  If you have followed my blog for any time at all, you know that I am not fond of denominations or any other kind of label we put on a group of people because people are individuals, and will align themselves with the doctrine of a group to different degrees, anywhere from cool,  to tepid,  to red hot fanatical.

The question “What is a Christian?” for me, first requires an exploration of the meaning of the word “Christian” and an assessment of  whether or not the doctrine is aligned with the meaning of the word.


In a sense, I am seeking to define what a Christian should be based on a pure definition.  So let’s look at the root word “Christ” and the suffix “ian”. Christ, according to the bible, is the Son of God who willingly came to join us in the flesh to reveal to us a living and loving God, and to be sacrificed  on our behalf.  The suffix”ian” or “an” indicates that someone or something belongs to a certain group. Thus, an Indian would be a resident of or someone who was born in India, a Faustian philosophy is one promoted by the character Faust, or one that reflects what Faust believed.  A Christian, then,  is a believer in or a follower of Christ, and a Christian philosophy would reflect what Christ believed.  More simply put, to be a Christian is to strive to be like Christ.  To be like Christ, we must first come to know Him.


Stop and think for a moment about the people you know.  We have acquaintances – people we know a little bit about, friends – people we know more about, family – people we have known all or most of our lives, spouses – people we are very intimate with.  The church is filled with the same degrees of relationship with Christ.  To some He is just an acquaintance, to others a friend,  but to succeed as Christians in becoming the bride of Christ as described in scripture, we will need to achieve a wide spread level of intimacy with Christ.


What is a Christian? What is a Christian?What is a Christian?

I recently studied a book by Richard Stearns titled “The Hole in Our Gospel“, which explores what Christ called the Church to be and do, and how the Church has fallen far short of that mark.  If we want to call ourselves Christians, the Truth is we need to raise the bar back up to where Christ set it.  If we are to achieve a level of intimacy with Him, it will be done His way, not ours.

1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.  2 The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.  3 Then God said, “Let there be light”; and  there was light.  Genesis 1:1-3 (NKJV)

There was nothing but darkness until God called light into being.  Thus creation began, and the earth, and everything on it and in it, belonged to God, and still does.  He entrusted it to us, with instructions from Christ.

35 Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?”  37 Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and great commandment.  39 And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’  40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”  Matthew 22:35-40 (NKJV)

If we profess to be Christian, like Christ, then we must acknowledge that all that we possess, in Christ’s reality belongs to God. He has entrusted us with it and called us to love our neighbor as ourselves.  When you love someone, you share what you have with them… you desire them to be happy, healthy, comfortable, and to have opportunities to be blessed and to share their blessings with others.


God created the world with such abundance there is enough for everyone to have it all, but the stewards entrusted with the greatest abundance seem to have a problem with distributing that wealth and investing it in the children of God who were unfortunately born into a less fortunate circumstance.  The distribution of wealth worldwide is becoming ever more disproportionate, and Christians who are at the upper end of the spectrum have fallen into the ways of the world rather than following Christ.


Global Wealth Pyramid

According to PrisonPlanet.com, “Figures for mid-2010 indicate that 24.2 million adults are above the threshold for dollar millionaires. While they make up less than 1% of the global adult population, they own more than a third of global household wealth. More specifically, individuals with wealth above USD 50 million are estimated to number 81,000 worldwide.”


I found more interesting statistics at www.pastorrickypowell.com.

  • Only one-third to one-half of U.S. church members financially support their churches.

  • Christians worldwide had personal income totaling more than $16 trillion in 2007 but gave only 2 percent, or $370 billion, to Christian causes.

  • Overall, only 3 to 5 percent of those who donate money to a church tithe (give 10 percent of) their incomes.

  • Giving by North American churchgoers was higher during the Great Depression (3.3 percent of per capita income in 1933) than it was after a half-century of unprecedented prosperity (2.5 percent in 2004).

  • Incomes have gone up nine to 10 times in the last 20 years while giving has gone down about 50 percent.

What is a Christian?What is a Christian?What is a Christian?

Based on those statistics, it is clear that those calling themselves Christians have taken the blessings of Christ for granted and sorely neglected His teachings.  They have taken what belongs to God and treated it as if it were theirs.  They hold on tightly to what they have, bottling up the abundance that would flow if only they would let go and allow God to fulfill His word.

“Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and try Me now in this,” says the Lord of hosts, “If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it.   Malachi 3:10 (NKJV)

Don’t get me wrong, this is not just about money.  It is about offering to Christ your time, your talent, and your treasure.  If those professing to be Christian were more Christ like, channeling their God given gifts, talents, and abundance, to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, heal the sick, and fight injustice, we would call down the mountain moving power of God and transform the world as Christ called us to do.


Blessings & Adventure,


Lynn “lynnibug” Rios


We cannot continue to call ourselves Christian while conforming to the world, and expect the world to come seeking God in our church.  We must first step out in faith, enter into an intimate relationship with Christ to become like Christ.  When we, as the body of Christ, lead by His example, then the  world will understand what it means to be Christian.

 

 

 

Hopes, Dreams, and the Reality of Freedom

Saturday, January 21st, 2012

The reality of freedom, freedom won and freedom lost, has become for me an issue of passion.


I watched an amazing video documentary the other day about the hopes, dreams, and reality of youth and young adults in Cuba. It was an eye opening presentation of a generation that longs for the very freedoms we are allowing to slip away.  As I watched, I could not help but compare their passion for freedom in a rigid political system, to our alarming trend towards allowing, or even worse encouraging a more socialist posture.


The revolution promised freedom, but yeilded decay.

In Cuba, “jobs” are government jobs, the pay is not enough to live on, and the rations the government supplies each month, last for only 2 weeks.  Young married couples must often live with relatives due to a shortage of housing, and for them, simple privacy is a rare luxury.  Promising students study hard to earn advanced degrees, and even with the skills and knowledge they have worked so hard to acquire, they have no hope that it will secure them a brighter future.  Only loyalty to the revolution offers one a chance at material success.


Without the freedom and resources to build and improve, Cuban cities are frozen in the past.

But young Cubans are no longer buying into the excuses the aging regime makes for their circumstances.  They have hopes and dreams of a better life, and they believe that Cuba has the resources to build a better future, if only they had the freedom to use them.  Sadly, those who speak out are subjected to censorship, beatings, and all manner of restrictions that will make an example of them, and deter others from being so bold.

If only our young people understood the value of the freedom we have enjoyed in this country.


If only they understood that there are decisions the government should not have the power to make for us. I find it terrifying that our government continues to become more and more like the regime we have opposed with economic sanctions since the Castro regime came to power.


Our middle class is disappearing as unemployment devastates once financially stable families.  Public assistance has become a quagmire of red tape for those who never needed it in the past.  Healthcare is already being rationed to those who cannot afford comprehensive health insurance.  More and more families have to rely on food stamps or charities distributing food, and the number of homeless grows larger each day.


Florida Straits, a dangerous path to Freedom for a persecuted CubansThe answer to all of these problems is certainly not more government intervention.  We need only look 90 miles south of Florida to see that governmental control and distribution of resources does not benefit all citizens equally.  In this country the current administration will always place the blame squarely on the previous administration, just as in Cuba, whatever is not working is blamed on the embargo.


So what has happened in the US that transformed us from a culture where hard work resulted in economic security, to a culture where nearly 17% of the population relies on the government to feed, cloth, and in some cases house them, while countless others desperately need, but do not qualify for assistance?  We can place the blame on many programs and policies, but what I see at the root of them all is corruption in our political system, and a huge shift in values, and if you really think about it, the corruption is indeed the result of that shift in values.

In the name of tolerance and freedom of a small minority, we have allowed references to God to be legislated out of public view.


By removing His Holy Presence in our schools, public events and government buildings, we have given that ground to the enemy and the enemy has rejoiced and flourished.  Politicians routinely abuse the power entrusted to them and bow down to the desires of lobbyists whose influence will keep them in office.   Public service has become the most self-serving occupation in the land.  The public, largely unaware of just how deep the corruption runs, demands change, lending their support and giving their vote to the most eloquent speaker making promises they have no power to keep.  Once elected, regardless of their job performance, they will reap the benefits of a tax supported gravy train for the rest of their lives.


The picture that emerges is one of a two tiered welfare state.  On one side, politicians, even those who lose voter confidence after only one term, receive huge sums of public assistance for life, with no need to go through the humiliating process of re-qualifying every few months, and on the other, common people whose jobs have been lost, struggle through a mass of red tape to qualify for meager benefits that keep them trapped well below the poverty line.


In the middle ground are workers whose real incomes continue to shrink as the economy devastates their buying power.  Earning too much to qualify for the great American giveaway, and too little to get ahead of their debt, their tax dollars supporting both tiers of the welfare state, they have become resentful with good reason.  Hard work can no longer be counted upon to result in economic security.


The stark reality of the situation can easily be understood when we examine the plight of a single mother of three,  attempting to give her children a better life by learning a profession and working hard.  She is forced by the system to quit her job at the first realization of success because she no longer qualifies for her children’s healthcare benefits, yet does not earn enough to pay a healthcare provider for those services.  The bottom line is her family is better off if she does not work.


We need look only as far as Cuba to see where our current path will take us.  This beautiful tropical paradise filled with a resilient and hopeful people, became a culture where a handful have much and the masses have little to nothing, where infrastructure has crumbled, opportunity is non-existent, and young people dream of living somewhere, anywhere else.  Their revolution was a forcible takeover, ours is a willing, and ignorant, relinquishment of our freedom.  The results have alarming similarities.  There is much we can learn from the grandchildren of the Cuban revolution.


I urge you to view this documentary and others like it.  I urge you to educate yourself about how people in other countries really live and what they must do to survive.  Many wise men and women have said that history repeats itself, and so I urge you to consider the true value of freedom lost, and prayerfully consider the actions of our current leadership and the candidates who compete to become our future leaders.


It is not too late to reclaim this land and transform it so that God will again bless America.  We need to begin by electing leaders that serve God and are trustworthy stewards of what He and the public have entrusted them with.  We are precariously balanced upon a dangerous precipice, and this country is in great need of change.  We must be wary of the change that seeks to control us, and fight for the change that will empower us with opportunity to achieve our dreams.


Blessings & Adventure,


Lynn “lynnibug” Rios


from RALPH WALDO EMERSON, Ode Sung in the Town Hall

For He that worketh high and wise, Nor pauses in his plan, Will take the sun out of the skies Ere freedom out of man.


 

The Biblical Model For Sustainable Living

Sunday, May 8th, 2011

The Biblical Model For Sustainable Living has eluded mankind throughout the ages.

While the common man has dreamed of a utopian society that could be achieved via a plethora of isms (capitalism, socialism, communism, and so on), that utopia has never been achieved due to mans corruption of the ideals of whatever ism is in place.

Yesterday I left a comment on a blog post about why purchasing quality coffee online made sense, and have found myself thinking about it a lot today.  When I consider how most products are produced and brought to market in our country, it just makes me shudder.  This business model is certainly not what God intended.

Young Girl Making Textiles

Let’s start with our buying habits. We live in a shop til you drop society.  We are always buying more and more stuff, and in six months to a year we will not want, not use, find broken, or deem no longer stylish, and in most cases, just throw it out.  We have been taught to consume, and to keep us consuming the manufacturers must provide us with a price point that keeps the treadmill moving.  So how do they do that?

Easy, they exploit workers in less developed areas of the world.  Men, women, and children in other parts of the world will work long hours in poor conditions for a fraction of what American workers get paid.  We want cheap prices, and so we turn our heads and hearts away from the knowledge of how all this stuff can get to market so cheaply.  What if we took the initiative to bring about change in the world?  There are a few things we can do that would impact the world in a positive way.Picking Coffee Beans

First, I believe we need to stop and think about things before we make a purchase.  If we would just stop buying so many things we really don’t need, we would have more money to invest in quality items that we do need, items that will last and remain useful for years to come.

Next, learn about the companies that make the products, and buy from the ones that have proven to be socially and environmentally responsible.  As an example, I don’t mind paying a little more for a pair of shoes from Toms.  When I buy shoes from Toms, I know a needy child somewhere in the world is receiving a pair also, so I am making that child’s world a better place.  When I buy certified fair trade coffee, I am supporting a better standard of living for the workers that grow and harvest the coffee beans.  And when I buy quality American made products, I contribute to our economy and help to keep American workers employed.

You see we have a choice to make.  It is not just the government that is out of control spending endless dollars unwisely, it is all of us.  We pay for convenience, we pay for instant gratification, we pay for the unnecessary, we no longer expect anything to last more than a season, and we indulge in excess.  We all want our piece of the dream, and we just don’t often give any thought to who got stepped on for us to have what we want.Young Boy in a Factory

God created our planet with an abundance of everything we need.  There is truly enough for everyone to have it all, if we are good stewards of the abundance that surrounds us.  That makes it our responsibility to do what we can to keep things balanced and equitable rather than take advantage of others misfortune.  It also means that we must hold our leaders accountable to the same standard.

The biblical model for leadership is King Solomon, who through wisdom achieved great wealth and splendor not only for himself, but for his people.  The biblical model for the employer is one who treats people fairly and pays them a fair wage that provides for them and their family, and provides a safe and pleasant work environment.  The biblical model for the employee is to work hard, be productive, and be mindful of both quality and value due to the employer.   For the self employed, the customer should be provided the best quality product at a fair price, with no deceit or trickery.

Returning to the biblical model will require effort on our part, and a change in our world view.  We will need to do our homework to learn about the companies offering us products and support the ones that earn our business by their actions, as we shun the ones built on greed and exploitation.   It will require sacrifice on the part of those who have much, to make a way for those who have little, and begin transforming this broken system into a sustainable way of life.  We can start today by becoming more responsible citizens of the world, and by our actions, cause change to come about.

The biblical model for sacrifice is Jesus, who gave His all for us.  By following His loving and giving example, we can be the change we want to see in the world.

Holy Spirit Rain Down

Holy Spirit, rain down, rain down
Oh Comforter and Friend
How we need Your touch again
Holy Spirit, rain down, rain down
Let Your power fall
Let Your voice be heard
Come and change our hearts
As we stand on Your word
Holy Spirit, rain down

Blessings & Adventure,

Lynn “lynnibug” Rios

 

Toms Shoes – Congratulations are in order!

Thursday, September 30th, 2010


TOMS One for One

I just got the announcement – Toms has given away 1 million pairs of shoes!  What an accomplishment that is.  Tom’s unique business model, one for one, has made them a shining example of a giving business with a mission and a responsible corporate world citizen.  More important is the fact that in a few short years, one million needy children have had their lives greatly improved by a gift of shoes.


The World Collage – A New Understanding of Community

Sunday, August 22nd, 2010

Most of us think of community as the group we hang with at school, at church, or in the city or town where we live.

We may, if we are church goers, consider ourselves part of the community of believers, which is a broader world vision, but still a community in which we do not personally know those we “commune” with.  Over the past several months, I have experienced a much broader sense of community as I have ventured into internet ministry.

Just for kicks, I decided to search this term I had come up with, ‘World Collage‘, and to my surprise I found artwork and even puzzles based on this phrase.  Photographer Guy Shachar has created a beautiful collage from pieces of photos from Israel, Vietnam, Thailand, Nepal, India, Austria, France, England, Mexico, United States and Canada.

Guy Shachar's World Collage

Since launching One Month of Wisdom, I have connected to a beautiful mosaic of precious people throughout the world.

What was once just a big blue marble, is now, in my mind, a World Collage…a smattering of this and that from across the globe, that is, in every sense of the word, my community.  I have chatted online with them, I have prayed with them, and I have even taken a walk down their street in Google® street view maps.  Oh how the world has changed!

With this change comes a change in our perspective of who we are.

I am indeed a citizen of Florida, and a citizen of the US, but my World Collage vision has me now thinking of myself as a citizen of the world.  Distant nations I have never seen are, indeed, my community.  The internet has given us the power to communicate.  There is a world wide social revolution going on that is changing not only how business is done (and where), but also how we relate to one another.

The world is getting smaller all the time, and we, as world citizens, have an opportunity to seize the power this affords us.  I do not need to rely on the news to tell me what is going on in Pakistan.  My Pakistani friends on Skype and facebook tell me about the victims of the recent flood and their needs.  I have, at my fingertips, art, music, articles, and video, from people just like me all over the globe.  With these new friendships comes the opportunity to better understand and appreciate other cultures and ways of life.

What I proclaimed as truth in a sixth grade art class project back in 1966,

not understanding how profound it was, nor that I would one day look back on it as a defining moment in my life, now is foremost on my mind. 

Love Conquers Over All...Peace Will Come

Through our personal relationships in this World Collage, we have the power to bridge the gap between what is true, and what the so called elite of the world would like us to believe is true.   We can be instruments of peace that have a far reaching and profound effect on the future of this planet.  I pray that we will learn to use this power wisely, and for the benefit of all mankind.

Blessings & Adventure

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