Another season to focus on God!

This summer has been crazy with activities for the staff at ETM.  As you have noticed if you are following us on Twitter or Facebook, we had to take the summer off from writing articles, which we were sorry to have to do.

Life is not any less busy during the rest of the year, but most summer activities include a lot of breaks in the normal routine of things, making writing regularly difficult.  But that break is now over.

We have some awesome articles and book reviews coming in the next couple of weeks, so subscribe to our feed, follow us on Facebook, and keep an eye out for those.

Announcements

We are always trying to find ways to improve ETM so we are making a few changes to help move towards that goal.

Staff Down sizing

I hate to start out the announcements on a negative announcement, but that is just the way it goes sometimes.  Several of our staff members have too many commitments between family, school, other ministries, and other real life things to be able to focus much on ETM.  I commend the effort given by all of our staff members to date and welcome them back at any time if the Lord leads them.  Please keep them in your prayers during this busy season of their lives.  Also I ask that you would keep ETM in your prayers that we can continue with the shortage of staff, or that the Lord would bring staff members to help fill the shoes that are now left empty.

Article Frequency

With the fewer people writing articles we will now be releasing a new article every four to five days instead of every three to four.  We hope this schedule will still bring you plenty of quality, Biblical content and will encourage you in your relationship with God.

New Staff wanted!

Given this information it is obvious that we could use some help on staff.  If you have any experience in writing, or want experience in writing articles, we could use your help.  Not just writers either.  Gamers, editors, forum users, we want you all!  Check out the ETM Staff page to view the positions available and what the requirements are, then fill out our staff application to apply for the position.

We do not just want those who are the most experienced or who have the degrees.  Our main area of focus for staff members is first and foremost a dedication and love for God.  Without a daily relationship with Him this ministry is nothing.  Also we want people who are committed to ETM and want to see the ministry survive and thrive.

ETM Christian Gaming

There are several Christians who enjoy playing various online games together in a family-friendly environment that encourages Biblical discussions and pursuing God.  We know games are easy to get wrapped up in and sometimes want extra accountability to stay focused on Christ.  The Bible says “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31)  This includes time spent playing games.

In response to this we want to setup a network of Christian guilds, to provide support and tools needed to run their guilds or servers while maintaining Christian accountability and a family friendly environment.

If you are interested in helping us out in this endeavor, please consider filling out an application.  This is a fairly new idea so you can be there and help from the ground up, and take a part in actually shaping how these guilds will work.

A Baby is Born!

The wife of one of our staff members, Sean, is about to give birth to their third child!  Congratulate them on their new bundle of joy and keep them in prayer as they make this transition in their life.

That is all of the announcements for now.  Stay tuned for some awesome and challenging articles that will be published on the site soon.  If you have a Twitter or Facebook account follow us! 🙂

Should Christians celebrate the death of Osama Bin Laden?

Big news has hit the media, Osama (or Usama) Bin Laden is dead. With that news people are rejoicing a lot. My facebook page is flooded with messages celebrating the death of the Al-Queda leader.

But personally, as a Christian, I have mixed feelings on it…

Which leads me to ask, is it okay for Chrisitans to celebrate the death of Bin Laden?

Why all the celebration in the first place?

The first thing that needs to be asked, is why is all the celebration happening in the first place?  Osama Bin Laden is the leader of a terrorist group, Al-Qaeda, according to the FBI most wanted poster.  For this reason, I think it is a good thing that Osama was taken out. This is not to say that this will stop or even slow down terrorism, but the fact that someone who would take the lives of innocent people, or command others to take lives, overwhelmingly shows that such a person must be stopped.

In the Old Testament we even see God ordering the death of the unjust and declaring judgment on those who are against God.

Because you have ignored all my counsel and would have none of my reproof, I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when terror strikes you. (Proverbs 1:25-26)

Rejoice over her, O heaven, and you saints and apostles and prophets, for God has given judgment for you against her! (Revelation 18:20)

As the Lord took delight in doing you good . . . so the Lord will take delight in bringing ruin upon you and destroying you. (Deuteronomy 28:63)

So yes, the celebration is called for.

Does Osama deserve Hell?

Now for the tough question which I am sure will stir a lot of emotions up, but bear with me for a minute.

Does Osama deserve hell, any more than you or I?

Our instinct is to declare “Yes, he does! I am not like Osama, I am not a terrorist!” but that is side-stepping the question.  Osama committed horrible crimes against humanity, and for that he was dealt punishment by human hands. But when it comes to acts against God, you and I are no better off than Osama.

Every single time you or I tell a lie, look with lust, hate someone, or covet what we do not have, we are committing a sin against God.  Romans 3:9-20 states:

9 What then? Are we better than they? Not at all. For we have previously charged both Jews and Greeks that they are all under sin.
10 As it is written:

“ There is none righteous, no, not one;
11 There is none who understands;
There is none who seeks after God.
12 They have all turned aside;
They have together become unprofitable;
There is none who does good, no, not one.”
13 “ Their throat is an open tomb;
With their tongues they have practiced deceit”;

“ The poison of asps is under their lips”;
14 “ Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.”
15 “ Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16 Destruction and misery are in their ways;
17 And the way of peace they have not known.”
18 “ There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. 20 Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

When it comes to our standing before God, we are all guilty. The only reason we have been forgiven, is completely because of the works Christ did on the cross, and completely because God called us. Not because we are any better.

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. – Romans 3:23-26

We need to be careful when we try to pass judgment on someone eternally. We should be praying for our enemies and hoping for their repentance more than trying to destroy them.

Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord God, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live? . . . For I do not pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord God; so turn, and live. (Ezekiel 18:23, 32)

So yes, we are thankful that a terrorist can no longer harm others and thankful for the American troops who did their job to stop this criminal who acted against humanity, but at the same time we should be sorrowful that another person must spend eternity in hell. And no matter how much we think that person deserves hell, we must stop and realize that we, you and I and our loved ones, deserves hell just as much as Osama Bin Laden.

I saw a Facebook status…

The other day I saw a Facebook status…

When you carry the Bible, Satan gets a headache. When you open it, he collapses. When he sees you reading it, he faints. When he sees you living it, he flees. And just when you’re about to re-post this, he’ll try to discourage you. I JUST DEFEATED HIM! Copy and re-post if you can. Any takers?

While it seems cute, and all good, it caught my attention.  This, to me, is a prime example of American Christianity.  While it is cutesy, it is NOT Biblical.  One thing American Christianity embraces is cuteness, while it ignores the Word.  We are in a war, and we need to know the truth.  The truth is, Satan uses the Bible against us, he even used it against Jesus:

Matthew 4 “5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple 6 and said to him, If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, He will command his angels concerning you, and On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.” -ESV

This verse shows us not only can Satan use the Bible against us, but that he knows it.  When you sit there, with your Bible open and reading, most likely he is trying everything he can to ever so slighty twist the scripture into something that will benefit him.  Be AWARE! Satan is not just trying to get you to sin, or get people to do bad things, he is trying to destroy the church, without even knowing he is.

Some lines from a song that are interesting (Destroy the Runner – I, Lucifer):

…I’ll preach what I practice,
and I will practice on you…

…I speak of angels,
but host demons instead…

…I will sell them the scriptures,
and I will pocket your fame…

…I am feasting on bread and your wine.

We need to be in the Spirit always to know when something is from God or from Satan.

I encourage you not to just take the word of others on spiritual matters, but to back EVERYTHING up with scripture.  Do not be like so many who are complacent in their lives, who prefer to enjoy the “cuteness” and ignorance American Christianity.  The Word gives us the truth, and everything we post about our beliefs from Facebook statuses to blogs, should be fully founded in the Word.  The Word is not a joke, and needs to be taken very seriously!  THIS IS A WAR!

Lots of ways to get involved

ETM has been a great hit so far, thanks to you, our readers. But some of you are not satisfied with just being a reader, you want to do more. For that reason I wanted to take a few minutes to explain some of the ways that you could get plugged into ETM, as well as some of the changes we have made recently.

New Look

As you have probably noticed the website and forums have had a complete makeover. We feel that these changes make the website easier to navigate and read and improves the overall experience of our users. We have future plans to make navigation even easier for mobile users. You can expect those changes to roll out sometime over the next month.

Podcast

ETM now has a podcast! We find great sermons all over the web and we podcast the best of the best.  The sermons include great teachers such as Francis Chan and Leonard Ravenhill, as well as other great speakers. We hope that these sermons help encourage you in your faith to become a closer disciple of Christ and encourage you to live like Jesus lived. The podcast has a different feed URL than the normal blog, meaning if you subscribe to our RSS feed or get the articles delivered via email then you will need to subscribe to this separately or else you will miss them. Most audio programs can handle podcast subscriptions easily, such as Windows Media Player or iTunes.  All of the information you need, as well as a list of podcast speakers, is available on our podcast page.

Business Cards

The primary means of advertising that we use at ETM is word of mouth. One of the best ways to do that in-person is with business cards. ETM is currently in the process of finalizing a design for business cards. Once I have them ordered I will sell them in packs of 25 or 50 to anybody who wants some. (The price will be at cost, we are not going to make a profit from this.)

Share our Articles

If one of our articles speaks to you please consider leaving a comment to tell us how it spoke to you and share the article with your friends. There are several buttons on the bottom of each article to allow you to share in any way you like to. Email, Facebook, Twitter, and Stumble Upon, as well as other services, are all one click away from you sharing the article with your friends. As I mentioned earlier, our best form of advertising is word of mouth, and that is easily accomplished by each of you who clicks a share link under the article. We do greatly appreciate it.

Online Bible Study

Every other Monday we have an online Bible Study with members of Carriers of the Cross, our sister ministry which is a Christian World of Warcraft guild. You are welcome to join us, just visit our Bible Study page to find all of the information you need to connect.  We also add most of these studies to the ETM Podcast mentioned above.

Online Prayer Meeting

Prayer is to a ministry as water is to life. We recognize that without prayer all we are doing here is waisting our time doing the work of man with man’s power. Our goal in this ministry is to be servants of God. This is His ministry, not our own. It only makes since then that we seek the Lord’s will in everything we do. The ETM staff has a semi-monthly prayer meeting, which we have opened up to anybody who would like to join us. All of the information needed can be found on the Prayer Meeting page.

Once again we thank you for taking the time to read our weekly articles and we pray that God has used them to bless your spiritual walk in some way.  Please continue reading and consider getting involved in one of the ways mentioned above or remember us in prayer each week.

Jon

myPrayPal

App Name: myPrayPal
Price: Free
Platform: iPhone, iPad

As I promised in my review of Prayer List, I will give a review of the free prayer list app called MyPrayPal. Even though I personally like Prayer List better, myPrayPal has a lot of nice features that make it worth considering. To begin I will explain some of it’s shortcomings in my mind.

Cannot specified an answered prayer
The app has a button you can press to mark a prayer as answered which removes it from your main prayer list, but there no text field to enter how the prayer was answered. This may make it harder in the future if you want to look back on how God answered your prayers.

user interface
The user interface is just okay, but several things you try to do just do not work like you would expect an iPad or iPhone app to work. There are several actions, such as assigning a category where after you finish you expect the setting to hide but it doesn’t, because there is a save button for every setting that is placed at the top of the app. This may not be a problem for iPhone users but when viewing it on the larger screen of the iPad it can be easy to miss.

Design
The look of the app is very plain. This may not matter to most of you but to me if I am going to use an app daily it has to be pleasing to use. Along the lines of design the whole app looks like it is made for the iPhone first and iPad users just get a larger version of it. Sometimes while using this on my iPad the display looks like it reverts to an iPhone screen size.

Lack of settings
This app has absolutely no settings besides setting a pin. This is a good thing if you are looking for an extremely simple app, but if you are one who likes to customize your experience with an app this is a negative.

Categories
The way this app does categories is slightly off from normal. For one you cannot have something not be in a category or search for “uncategorized”. Also the category called “all” acts just like any other category except you cannot edit it. A prayer can be assigned to the “all” category which is a bit odd.

Now that I have mentioned what I do not like about the app let’s talk about what I do like about it.

Free
The main thing to like about this app is that it is free. It is awesome to see developers create software for the community without expecting profit in return. Although I am sure if there were a small fee for this app the developer could spend more time to support the app to make improvements quicker.

Last prayed for
My favorite feature is that this app keeps track of how long it has been since you have prayed for a certain prayer request. Prayer requests that have not been prayed for in a while are moved to the top of the list and it tells you how long it has been since you prayed for that request. There is a “pray” button you press to mark a prayer request as prayed for. Although a down side is that when you hit the button you are taken to a loading screen for 5 to 10 seconds before being returned to your list.

Pin protected
You can you a 4 digit pin to protect your list. Even though this is not as a full password like Prayer List has it gets the job done easily enough.

Reminders
A nice feature of this app is that you can setup push notification reminders for different prayer requests. You choose the time of the reminder and if you want it to be daily or on a certain day of the week. After the reminder goes off a red number badge appears on the app icon and stays until you hit the “pray. Button on the prayer request with the reminder.

Sharing
Prayer list allows you to hit a button to send your prayer to someone via email, but myPrayPal let’s you email, text message, tweet, or publish to facebook.

preloaded with categories
The final feature I like about this app which is kind of minor is that when you start it for the first time it already has several categories for you to use, making it easier to start adding prayer requests right away.

There you have it. My thorough review of two different prayer apps for the iPhone and iPad. Which app do you use, and why do you like it?

YouVersion.com…a great website for Bible stuff!

For the longest time I used biblegateway.com for my computer Bible stuff. But I hated how much it was lacking, and it’s horrid interface. Recently I have discovered youversion.com. It is one of the best Bible “stuff” doing thingy websites that I have seen…why? Let us take a look!

The first thing I noticed was the rather simple and straight forward interface. You simply type in the verse you need, and there it is! Not only that, but on the right there is a built in audio player for listening to the chapter you are on.

Anyways, time to stop boring you and get on the features, and what makes this such a nice site.

First off, you can make an account, which saves all your settings, bookmarks, notes, and a whole lot of other useful things, such as setting up your own Bible reading plan. There is also a built in social networking thingy, but I have not and am not going to look into that, so you are on your own on that one.

Lets look at some of the “My” features (the stuff worth mentioning anyways).

Bookmarks: This one is kinda self explanatory, it let’s you set a bookmark at a certain place, you can have as many as you want, across multiple translations.

Notes (my favorite feature): The ability to write a note about a certain verse(s) or chapter(s). This is very useful when trying to remember something you read, or something you want to share with someone (if you choose not to use the sharing options).

Reading Plans: This lets you set a reading plan. They have many reading plans with options for customization and support to help you stay on track.

youversion.com also gives you the ability to share a verse or verses via Facebook, Twitter, Email, or just grab a direct “short” link.

Their features are also available mobile via iPad, iPhone, iPod, Blackberry, Android, and webOS.

Well, that is all I am covering on the site. They offer a lot more than I mentioned here, but hopefully I got you interested enough to check out this awesome website for your Bible stuff.

Prayer List

App Name: Prayer List
Price: $1.99
Platform: iPad & iPhone

I use my iPad for pretty much everything, from reading my Bible to checking Facebook to writing articles for ETM. My goal lately has been to have a serious prayer life, so I started the search for an iPad app. I could just use any of the text editors, but I wanted something a little more specialized. I ended up finding two decent prayer apps. The first is called “Prayer List” and costs $1.99, the other is called myPraypal and is free. I liked Prayer List more so it will be the subject of this week’s Media Monday article. Tune in next week for a review of myPraypal.

Prayer List lets you enter a subject for your prayers as well as the full text. This makes a clean one line list when viewing a list of the prayers. You can also assign any prayer to a category and have the main window show just one category or all categories. You can mark prayers as answered as well as put a comment of how they were answered. One thing that makes this app nice is you can leave a prayer marked unanswered while still filling in the answered comments. This is useful for ongoing prayers which are being answered slowly over time. Once a prayer has been answered it is removed from the active list and moved to an answered list and the date answered is also recorded for future reference.

There are no default categories so you have to set some up when you start the app, but this is easy to do. The entire application works pretty much like you have come to expect ipad apps to work which makes the learning curve for this app very small.

Prayer List has the added advantage of being password protected, and not with just a 4 digit pin; full passwords are accepted. Another nice feature of this app is you can have backgrounds which make the app pleasing to the eye. You can adjust the contrast or turn the text white to make sure the text works with the background you are using. When viewing any prayer request you can press the envelope button at the bottom to email the prayer request to someone to help get others to pray with you.

One really nice feature of this app is sorting. They have various sorting methods, alphabetical, or date added, but my favorite is manual sorting. How I use it is to drag what I just prayed for to the bottom of the list so I have at the top of the list things I have not prayed for in a while. This allows me to make sure I cover everything in prayer.

You may say a prayer list is a bad thing because it just makes you go through prayer like a check list and not praying from your heart. I admit I fell into that trap a couple of times this week, but more often than that I just used this app to start me off in what to pray for and I prayed as the spirit led. When I was done I then went back to the app and put things that I prayed for on the bottom and then I prayed for the top thing and the spirit led from there. Or you can just pray for one category at a time.

The beauty of this app is that you can use it however you want to encourage and remind you to pray and it looks beautiful at the same time.

Happy New Year, 2011 is here!

Welcome to 2011! As the calendar turns to another year it gives many a feeling of being able to start over, a fresh chance to change what we have failed to change in the past year.   We at Eternal Truth Ministry are taking advantage of this chance to start on a fresh page.  ETM is officially being brought online, although this time with a different purpose.

In the past we have mostly been about a community, with forums and chat rooms being the primary focus of our ministry.  Today we are going to start on a new focus, writing articles that share the uncompromised word of God.  We are not going to get rid of the community aspect of the ministry, just chaning our primary focus.

Time is short.  There is not much time left for the world and the Christian church, God’s primary and only tool to reach the world is asleep.   We see a deep need in the church to wake up and get to the job Jesus set us to do, and we are commited to doing everything we can do to fulfill that purpose. 

We invite you to join us as we start this wild roller coaster ride, dedicating ourselves to denying ourselves fully and serving God.

How can you get involved?

Join the email list

The quickest way to keep up with the articles we write at ETM is to join our mailling list.  (It is safe, we promise not to sell your information or send you spam.)  Every article we write will be emailed to you, about 2 or 3 emails a week. To join all you have to do is enter your email address in the subscription box at the top right of our home page.

Follow us on Twitter

Are you a member of Twitter? Follow @EternalTruthMin on twitter to receive notifications of each article published, and new topics on the forum.  We also tweet a random article from the past every few days.

Join the prayer team

The easiest and absolute best way to get involved is to join our prayer team. The prayer team is dedicated to pray for ETM every day, since without the Lord leading us we would not be doing anything except by the power of man, which is useless.  The prayer team also prays for prayer requests that people send in. 

To join the prayer team all you have to do is Follow the directions on the prayer team page. Instructions on sending a message to the prayer team will be added to that page soon.

Join the forum

The ETM forum community has always been a great way to have Christian fellowship online.  Feel free to join our forum community and get involved in the conversations we have there.

Join our Facebook group

ETM has a Facebook group where we share prayer requests and share words of encouragement to the members of the group.

Have a happy New Year!

As you ring in the new year, take tonight to dedicate your life to Jesus, shed off all forms of sin and selfishness, and focus on God.  Make it a commitment to read the Bible every day and to spend time in prayer. If you can take a couple of hours to watch a football game, or play video games, can’t you take the time to spend with your savior?!?