Even I Can Use Instagram — Post by Mary C. Findley

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I haven’t written an actual “writing” post for awhile. As I posted not too long ago, it’s been a year of upheavals and little or no writing for me. Still, I have picked up a few ideas for writers in my stumbling, fuddy-duddy way, that might help. I tend to discover things other people have known and used for a long time, and one of those is Instagram.

Unfortunately, I discovered it after I dunked and destroyed my first and only smart phone. I’m back to a regular old keyboard phone for now. I joined a group of authors on a lovely new blog called Candidly Christian (see my first post here)  http://candidlychristian.com/life-lessons/ .

The moderator asked us to join Instagram to help promote. I did that, on my laptop. I discovered that I could join, follow, and like (or heart) posts, but I couldn’t post anything myself from my computer. I kept getting messages in my email to download the app, tormenting me with the memory of my dear departed smartphone. So I figured I was doomed to never know the joys of true Instagram participation. I flashed back to the days I started using Twitter and didn’t have any tweets. https://elkjerkyforthesoul.wordpress.com/2012/01/09/curiouser-and-curiouser-an-authors-adventures-in-twitterland/

Or so I thought. I do know that in the world of devices there is usually some kind of workaround. It didn’t take long to discover that there is indeed a Chrome extension for Instagram that works on laptops and desktops. The picture at the top of the article, which is Ruth, daughter’s “hearing-aid” cat, referred to in my first Candidly Christian post, is also my very first Instagram post. I know, I know. In the future I will crop and clean up images better. But I like to share my struggles as well as my successes with struggling fellow writers.

When you set up your Instagram profile, you might fetch up against the daunting task of including your self-description. Describe yourself and your reason for being there in 140 characters. Not easy. I based my profile description on my Amazon author page. Here’s the highly distilled, Instagram version:

Cover artist❤ pets cross-genre author w/never-say-die heroes crazy smart husband 3 kids 18-wheeler shotgun Proverbs 16:3 Book midwife elkjerkyforthesoul.wordpress.com

Here’s a link for a Chrome Instagram Extension. https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/instagram-for-chrome/opnbmdkdflhjiclaoiiifmheknpccalb?hl=en-US

Here’s my Instagram profile. https://www.instagram.com/marycampagnafindley/ It’s lonely over there, and I’d appreciate follows and whatever else you do on Instagram. (still figuring that out.) And pointers.

And, oh, dear, I hear there’s something called Snapchat! eeps!

 

 

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What Did Jesus Do? — Post by Michael J. Findley

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Sheldon’s question, “What Would Jesus Do?” has driven some people to attempt great deeds for Christ. It has driven others to do things which can best be described charitably as questionable.

Few people invest the time and energy to study what Jesus actually did. When Jesus knew that he had less than a day before he would be crucified and return to the father Jesus spent his last hours fellowshipping with and teaching his disciples.

“Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know?” Jesus asked him. “The person who has seen me has seen the Father. So how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?” (John 14:9 ISV)

Jesus spent his last hours with his disciples. Not all, or many or even most of disciples, but Jesus chose to be with just the twelve; eleven after Judas left. We do not know if there were servants or children or others who were not mentioned. Jesus chose to spend all of His remaining time fellowshipping with and teaching his disciples. Instead of trying to reach more people, Jesus spent His time teaching those who were the most knowledgeable; people who were already well taught.

After His resurrection, Jesus walked over seven miles with two men. Then Jesus told them, “O, how foolish you are! How slow you are to believe everything the prophets said! The Messiah had to to suffer these things and then enter his glory, didn’t he?” Then, beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them all the passages of Scripture about himself. (Luke 24:25-27 ISV)

Jesus then met his disciples in a locked room in Jerusalem.
Then he told them, “These are the words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms had to be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds so that they might understand the Scriptures. (Luke 24:44 ISV)

Jesus met with his disciples several times after his resurrection. Probably the most well known is the meeting with seven disciples in Galilee when Peter goes fishing. After his resurrection, Jesus spent his time either teaching or building relationships with his closest disciples.

We certainly have many other responsibilities that we read about throughout God’s Word. But teaching the Word of God and building relationships is very important. Based on what Jesus did, we certainly need to make teaching and building relationships a priority in our lives. We need to understand what Jesus did. His relationships were based on obedience to the Word of God. And the doctrine He taught drew men into a closer relationship with Himself.

Relationships based on this world will fail. Doctrine which is not taught to others fails to build relationships. And without a relationship with Christ built on a correct understanding of the Word of God, relationships with other people will also fail.

And be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another just as God has forgiven you in the Messiah. (Ephesians 4:32 ISV)

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Image Credits: WWJD? graphic by Mary C. Findley

Stained glass at St John the Baptist’s Anglican Church [1], Ashfield, New South Wales. Illustrates Jesus’ description of himself “I am the Good Shepherd” (John 10:11). The memorial window is also captioned: “To the Glory of God and in Loving Memory of William Wright. Died 6th November, 1932. Aged 70 Yrs.” Stained glass: Alfred Handel, d. 1946, photo:Toby Hudson Wikimedia Commons

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What Is The Gospel? Part Five: The Eternal Gospel

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But we do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, about those who have died, so that you may not grieve like other people who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so through Jesus God will bring those who have died with him. For we declare to you what the Lord has told us to say: We who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who have died. With a shout of command, with the archangel’s call, and with the sound of God’s trumpet, the Lord himself will come down from heaven, and the dead who belong to the Messiah will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. (1 Thessalonians 4:13-17)

According to the Latin word translated here as caught up, this describes the rapture. The moment this takes place, there will be no believers left on earth to proclaim the gospel.

Not all of us will die, but all of us will be changed—in a moment, faster than an eye can blink, at the sound of the last trumpet. Indeed, that trumpet will sound, and then the dead will be raised never to decay, and we will be changed. (1 Corinthians 15:51-52 ISV)

As a trumpet sounded on Sinai, so this trumpet not only signals the resurrection of the Church, but alerts the inhabitants of earth to God’s change in His methods.

This begins another phase in God’s plan of redemption. Satan will be cast out of heaven, his time will be short and demonic forces will have greater access to those alive on earth at that time. Many who accept Jesus as the Messiah during this time will face rapid martyrdom. It will be the time of 144,000 Jewish witnesses, 2 special witnesses, and an angel flying through the air to proclaim the gospel.

Then I saw another angel flying overhead with the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on earth—to every nation, tribe, language, and people. He said in a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, because the time for him to judge has arrived. Worship the one who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water.” (Revelation 14:6,7 ISV)

Image Credit: Unknown  illuminator An Angel with the Eternal Gospel Date about 1255 – 1260 Getty Center Source/Photographer KwFA0VOH3o96DA at Google Cultural Institute Public Domain Wikimedia Commons

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What Is The Gospel? Part Four: Our Responsibility

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In the beginning, the Word existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. Through him all things were made, and apart from him nothing was made that has been made. (John 1:1 ISV)

New Tribes Mission was founded in 1942 to evangelize unreached people groups who have no knowledge of either the God of the Bible or the history of Israel. According to their website “Unreached people groups have no concept of the God of the Bible. So Bible teaching begins at the same place God began with His chosen people: at the beginning. Chronological Bible teaching presents a foundation for understanding Jesus’ death and resurrection.”

Paul used this formula when he spoke to the Athenians. After beginning with the legal requirement of not introducing a new religion, basing that claim on their statue to the unknown god, Paul introduced, “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth.” (Acts 17:24 ISV)

The problem Paul and every Christian up to Augustine had with the Greeks and the Romans is that many believed the earth was brought into existence around 1500 BC. They mocked the Jews for believing that the creation was so old (4000 BC). Ovid’s Metamorphoses is one example. Ovid, like most pagan authors, has creation followed by a Golden Age, a Silver Age, a Bronze Age, and finally the Iron Age.

After teaching the creation, the fall, the flood, the founding of the Jewish nation, God’s call out of Egypt, God’s judgment on the sin of the nation, then we teach the life, death and resurrection of Christ.

Now I’m making known to you, brothers, the gospel that I proclaimed to you, which you accepted, on which you have taken your stand, and by which you are also being saved if you hold firmly to the message I proclaimed to you – unless, of course, your faith was worthless. For I passed on to you the most important points that I received: The Messiah died for our sins according to the Scriptures, he was buried, he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures—and is still alive!—and he was seen by Cephas and then by the Twelve. After that, he was seen by more than 500 brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. Next he was seen by James, then by all the apostles, and finally he was seen by me, as though I were born abnormally late. (1 Corinthians 15:1-8 ISV)

We must understand that Paul lived in Corinth for two years teaching the Old Testament. Paul taught the nature of God, the nature of man, the nature of sin, the need for atonement, and the fulfillment of this need through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

But in the modern western culture, Christians have an additional barrier to overcome. Western Culture has made Secular Humanism an established religion. A person born into a culture with no knowledge of God has to begin with Creation.

But a person born into the indoctrination system of secular humanism must first understand that they have been indoctrinated. So the person with no knowledge of God who does not have to unlearn indoctrination is easier to teach than the person who is indoctrinated.

It is possible that John wrote what we call the first epistle or 1 John as the last book of the New Testament, making it the last book written of the entire Bible. He faced a very similar problem in Ephesus after being released from Patmos. His answer was to affirm the validity of what they witnessed about Jesus.

What existed from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we observed and touched with our own hands—this is the Word of life! This life was revealed to us, and we have seen it and testify about it. 1 John 1:1,2 ISV

This is the definition of science. Heard, seen, observed, touched, and testify. There are standards for examining evidence. If the scientific evidence for Jesus is ignored and rejected, then history, any history, is impossible to understand. Nothing in all of ancient history is documented as well as the history of Jesus.

But our responsibility when presenting the Gospel is to faithfully present the Word of God to people who are willing to listen. God is responsible for the results.

In the presence of God and the Messiah Jesus, who is going to judge those who are living and those who are dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I solemnly appeal to you to proclaim the message. Be ready to do this whether or not the time is convenient. Refute, warn, and encourage with the utmost patience when you teach.

For the time will come when people will not tolerate healthy doctrine. But with itching ears will surround themselves with teachers who cater to their people’s desires. They will refuse to listen to the truth and will turn to myths. But you must be clear headed about everything. Endure suffering. Do the work of an evangelist. Devote yourself completely to your ministry.

I am already being poured out as an offering, and the time for my departure has come. I have fought the good fight. I have completed the race. I have kept the faith. The victor’s crown of righteousness is now waiting for me, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on the day that he comes, and not only to me but also to all who eagerly wait for his appearing. (2 Timothy 4:1-8 ISV)

Image Credit: Codex Alexandrinus of the end of 2 Peter and Beginning of 1 John Public Domain photographer unknown Wikimedia Commons

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What Is The Gospel? Part Three: The Gospel According to Paul

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Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel (Timothy 2:8 ESV)

… on that day when God, through Jesus the Messiah, will judge people’s secrets according to my gospel. (Romans 2:16 ISV)

Now to the one who is able to strengthen you with my gospel and the message that I preach about Jesus, the Messiah, by revealing the secret that was kept hidden from long ago but now has been made known through the prophets to all the gentiles, in keeping with the decree of the eternal God to bring them to the obedience that springs from faith – to the only wise God, through Jesus the Messiah, be glory forever! Amen. (Romans 16:25-27)

Paul is the only New Testament author to use the phrase “my gospel.” His good news, gospel, differed from the gospel of Jesus in two important ways. Paul, with the gift of the Holy Spirit, had information given to him which Jesus had not revealed before ascending into heaven.

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and remind you of everything that I have told you. (John 14:26)

For I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel that was proclaimed by me is not of human origin. For I did not receive it from a man, nor was I taught it, but it was revealed to me by Jesus the Messiah. (Galatians 1:11,12 ISV)

But when God, who set me apart before I was born and who called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me so that I might proclaim him among the gentiles, I did not confer with another human being at any time, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before me. Instead, I went away to Arabia and then came back to Damascus. Then three years later I went up to Jerusalem to become acquainted with Cephas, and I stayed with him for fifteen days. (Galatians 1:15-18 ISV)

Paul knew mysteries revealed to him Jesus and the Holy Spirit that no one else knew, including the other disciples.

Paul was also set apart from all the other apostles with a special gift from God. Paul was the apostle to the Gentiles.

I am an apostle to the Gentiles. (Romans 11:13 ISV)

This means that Paul had to do a great deal of background teaching. Many of his audience knew little or nothing of the Word of God. And sometimes Paul was driven away soon after arriving at a city. Paul had to simplify his message to what he considered to be the most basic points. Except for Romans and the two Corinthians, Paul’s letters are very short; six brief chapters, usually less. Paul’s gospel was the combination of new revelation and brevity. This combination became the foundation for Gentile churches.

The basic argument against “Paul’s gospel” was made by Jews who insisted that Gentiles become Jews in order to be saved. These men followed Paul and caused problems throughout the gentile churches. Paul wrote the book of Galatians to correct these problems. When Paul came to Jerusalem, a council to met to determine and make a rule on “Paul’s gospel.”

The Jerusalem Council was not ruling on everything the gospel included. But it did rule on what was the absolute minimum requirement for Gentile believers.

Greetings. We have heard that some men, coming from us without instructions from us, have said things to trouble you and have unsettled you. So we have unanimously decided to choose men and send them to you with our dear Barnabas and Paul, who have risked their lives for the sake of our Lord Jesus, the Messiah.

We have therefore sent Judas and Silas to tell you the same things by word of mouth For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to place on you any burden but these essential requirements: to keep away from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, and anything strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you avoid these things, you will do well. Goodbye. (Acts 15:24-29 ISV)

Later, Paul had the opportunity to put this into practice in Athens. When brought before the Athenians at the Areopagus, Paul had very little time. He had to get their attention and present as much of the gospel as they would accept before they force him to leave.

So Paul stood up in front of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athen, I see that you are very religious in every way. For as I was walking around and looking closely at the objects you worship, I even found an altar with this written on it: ‘To an unknown god.’ So I am telling you about the unknown object you worship.

The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth. He doesn’t live in the shrines made by human hands, and he isn’t served by people as if he needed anything. He himself gives everyone life, breath, and everything else. From one man he made every nation of humanity to live all over the earth, fixing the seasons of the year and the national boundaries within which they live, so that they might look for God, somehow reach for him, and find him. Of course, he is never far from any one of us.

For we live, move, and exist because of him, as some of your own poets have said: ‘… Since we are his children, too.’ So if we are God’s children we shouldn’t think that the divine being is like gold, silver, or stone, or is an image carved by humans using their own imagination and skill. Though God has overlooked those times of ignorance, he now commands everyone everywhere to repent, because he has set a day when he is going to judge the world with justice through a man whom he has appointed.

He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead. When they heard about a resurrection of the dead, some began joking about it, while others said, “We will hear you again about this.” And so Paul left the meeting. Some men joined him and became believers. With them were Dionysius, who was a member of the Areopagus, a woman named Damarius, and some others along with them. (Acts 17:22-33 ISV)

Apostle Paul by Rembrant Widener Collection Photographer National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. Wikimedia Commons

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What Is The Gospel? Part Two: The Gospel According to Jesus

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Then Jesus returned to Galilee by the power of the Spirit. Meanwhile, the news about him spread throughout the surrounding country. He began to teach in their synagogues and was continuously receiving praise from everyone. (Luke 4:14,15 ISV)

Soon after Satan tempted Jesus, Jesus returned to Galilee. Luke, written to Theophilus, a Greek, does not use the word gospel here. It only says that Jesus began to teach. Matthew and Mark record the same event with the word gospel.

Then he went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every disease and every illness among the people. (Matthew 4:23 ISV)

Now after John had been arrested, Jesus went to Galilee and proclaimed the gospel about the kingdom of God. He said, ‘The time is now! The kingdom of God is near! Repent, and keep believing the gospel!’” (Mark 1:14,15 ISV)

The first time Luke uses the word gospel is when Jesus read from Isaiah 61:1 in a synagogue.

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me;
he has anointed me to tell
the good news [gospel] to the poor.
He has sent me to announce release to the prisoners
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to set oppressed people free,
and to announce the year of the Lord’s favor.
(Luke 4:18,19 ISV)

The gospel Jesus proclaimed was not a new teaching. As Jesus was the lamb slain from the foundation of the world, so the gospel Jesus proclaimed was the same message proclaimed from the foundation of the world. It is the good news of salvation. But to understand salvation, we must understand sin, our need for a savior, and God’s righteous requirements for atonement.

When Jesus walked about teaching in Israel, He taught the same message over and over again. But he taught people who knew what we call the Old Testament. Jesus taught the gospel continuously throughout his life. To large crowds he taught in parables because many people in his audience were unwilling to accept everything included in the gospel.
The gospel according to Jesus included the entire Old Testament. It was not a simple list which could be accepted or rejected after a ten minute presentation.

When Jesus returned after his resurrection, he continued to preach the gospel. But he spoke only to his disciples. Jesus found two disciples, and walked with them over 7 miles, teaching as they walked.

Then Jesus told them, “O, how foolish you are! How slow you are to believe everything the prophets said! The Messiah had to suffer these things and then enter his glory, didn’t he?” Then, beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them all the passages of Scripture about himself. (Luke 24:25-27 ISV)

When Jesus left them, these two disciples ran back to Jerusalem to tell the other disciples.

While they were all talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and told them, “Peace be with you.” They were startled and terrified, thinking they were seeing a ghost. But Jesus told them, “What’s frightening you? And why are you doubting? Look at my hands and my feet, because it’s really me. Touch me and look at me, because a ghost doesn’t have flesh and bones as you see that I have.”

After he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. Even though they were still skeptical due to their joy and astonishment, Jesus asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate it in their presence. Then he told them, “These are the words that I spoke to you while I was still with you – that everything written about me in the Low of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms had to be fulfilled. Then he opened their minds so that they might understand the Scriptures. (Luke 24:36-45)

The gospel of Jesus: everything written about me in the Low of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms had to be fulfilled.

Image Credit “The Road to Emmaus” by Robert Zund St Gallen Museum of Art  Photographer joyfulheart upload by Adrian Michael Wikimedia Commons

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What Is the Gospel? Part One: What the Gospel Is Not

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“As you go into the entire world, proclaim the gospel to everyone.” (Mark 16:15 ISV)
The gospel, τὸ εὐαγγέλιον, can be translated good news. But it is not just any good news. A friend getting married, a job promotion, a medical checkup free of disease, and many other types of good news are not the gospel Jesus commands us to proclaim.
This is the beginning of the gospel [good news] of Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God. (Mark 1:1 ISV)

Mark wrote to Romans who knew little or nothing of God and the history of God working in mankind. But the Romans were busy with the activities of this material world and spent little time examining the religion of foreigners. So Mark had to educate his Roman audience about the gospel.

Then [Jesus] went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every disease and every illness among the people. (Matthew 4:23)

Matthew wrote to Jews who knew the Old Testament, but were blinded by additional traditions. So Jesus performed signs to proclaim the gospel to the Jews. When the signs had their attention, Jesus taught them that all of God’s revelation testified of Him. Was the gospel of kingdom which Jesus taught in the synagogues of the Jews different from the gospel of Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God that Mark wrote about to the Romans?

I am astonished that your are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of the Messiah and, instead, are following a different gospel, not that another one really exists. To be sure, there are certain people who are troubling you and want to distort the gospel about the Messiah. Galatians 1:6,7 ISV

But those who are deceived do not realize that they are deceived. Millions of people throughout the world claim to be Christians but display none of the characteristics of Christ. Paul’s concerns were well-founded. Certainly there are babes in Christ who need to grow in Christ. But there are millions who are self-deceived, who believe that they are Christians, but have nothing of Christ in their lives.

This need to define what is and what is not Christianity, at least to the extent that sinful humans can evaluate other sinful humans, resulted in Fundamentalism in America, Canada and to a lesser extent, England. Fundamentalism made creeds of what was minimal for what was and what was not necessary to believe for saving faith.

The ecumenical councils of the early church also examined the Scriptures to determine what beliefs were orthodox and what were heretical. Unlike Fundamentalism, which determined the minimal belief necessary for salvation, the ecumenical councils defined individual orthodox doctrines when individual heretical doctrines became popular.

What is the Gospel of Jesus Christ? There is no simple answer. Only God knows the heart of the individual. But many who claim the name of Jesus are not part of the body of Christ.
Jesus is not a commodity. That it, proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ does not mean that we are eternal life insurance salesmen. Accepting Jesus as the Messiah does not mean that we can live the way we used to, just adding Jesus to an already crowded life.

Image Credit: An illuminated manuscript painting by Sargis Ptisak, who was a 14th century Armenian artist. First Page of the Gospel of Mark, Cod. 2627, fol. 436 r. (Matenadaran). Work of Sargis Pitsak scanned from B. Choukaszian, Sargis Pitsak, printed in Finland, 1986. from Wikimedia Commons

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