Who is Watching?

surveillance-signs-y4397371-80618-l11955-lg (1)Have you ever had that feeling that you’re being watched? It may be more than just a feeling. Comparitech, a company that is known for its, Thousands of hours of in-depth tech research, has discovered, the world’s most-surveilled cities.

After studying the use of closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras, the researchers at Comparitech have discovered the top 20 cities in the world that are the most surveilled. Of the cities that made the top 10, all of them were in China except London and Atlanta.

The proponents of CCTV cameras say they are excellent tools to help prevent crime and to monitor the flow of traffic. There are many, however, who see a sinister use of this technology. Specifically, the detractors are concerned with the development of facial recognition and the prying eyes of big government: Will the use of this technology make for a safer society at the expense of individual liberties?

While big government might abuse and misuse this technology, it’s much different with our Big God. Solomon said the eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good (Proverbs 15:3, NKJV).

When God sees the evil and the good in the world, we need to remember that His justice is balanced by His love, mercy, and grace. In Genesis 6:5, the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually; however, three verse later, we see that Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.

What does God see when He observes your life? May it be a life of justice, kindness, and humility (Micah 6:8).

iCan

canWe live in a fast-paced age marked by technological advances that have changed the way we live. Thanks to Samsung, people think of the Galaxy more in terms of a cell phone than they do the planets and stars.

As a child, I can remember being taught that an apple a day keeps the doctor away.  Today, however, many people think they can’t live without an apple, as in iPad, iPod, and iPhone.

While it’s true, that in some cases, technology has made life much easier, it has also made it more complex and less simple. With this in mind, let me share the simple truth of my iCan approach to life.

The basis of my iCan methodology is found in Philippians 4:13: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.  I believe I can:

  • Find the strength I need in times of trouble—Psalm 37:39: the salvation of the righteous is from the LORD; He is their strength in time of trouble.
  • Find the confidence I need to face the challenges of life—2 Timothy:1:7: For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
  • Find the light to lead me out of the darkness—Psalm 27:1: The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
  • Find the strength to persevere—James 1:2-4: Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
  • Find the grace I need for today—2 Corinthians 12:9: My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness

I encourage you to take an iCan approach to your life, and remember that, God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work (2 Corinthians 9:8).

Space: A New Discovery

early-manned-spaceflight_939_600x450Mesmerized is the best word to describe my state of mind on May 5, 1961, and I was not alone.  There were another 44,999,999 other people glued to a black and white TV—all 45 million of us were fixated on NASA’s herculean effort to launch Mercury-Redstone 3 into space, and the heroic exploits of Alan Shepard, Jr.

Today, nearly 56 years, NASA will be holding a press conference to release information on a new discovery.   The space agency will share information concerning their “new findings on planets that orbit stars other than our sun, known as exoplanets.” nasa-kepler-452b

The word I find interesting in the paragraph above is “discovery.”  NASA has not created these exoplanets, they have discovered them; and this is true of all truth and scientific findings—they are discovered and not created.

The nature of truth is a frequent topic of discussion in the writings of Norman Geisler and Frank Turek:

  • Truth is discovered, not invented. It exists independent of anyone’s knowledge of it. (Gravity existed prior to Newton.)
  • Truth is transcultural; if something is true, it is true for all people, in all places, at all times. (2+2=4 for everyone, everywhere, at every time.)
  • Truth is unchanging even though our beliefs about truth change. (When we began to believe the earth was round instead of flat, the truth about the earth didn’t change, only our belief about the earth changed.)
  • Beliefs cannot change a fact, no matter how sincerely they are held. (Someone can sincerely believe the world is flat, but that only makes the person sincerely mistaken.)
  • Truth is not affected by the attitude on the one professing it. (An arrogant person does not make the truth he professes false. A humble person does not make the error he professes true.)

It was Jesus who said: “You shall know the truth and the truth will set you free.” Truth, according to Jesus, can be known; however, the fly in truth’s ointment is that people give little effort to knowing the truth, but they are fully engaged in the pursuit of happiness.

This cart before the horse perspective will only lead to the mire and the muck of Pilgrim’s slough of despond—the more one struggles to find happiness apart from God the more he is stuck in the mud.

I’ll close with this comment by Timothy Keller: “While other worldviews lead us to sit in the midst of life’s joys, foreseeing the coming sorrows, Christianity empowers its people to sit in the midst of this world’s sorrows, tasting the coming joy.”

Think about this truth; it just might set you free.

Motor Mouths and Idle Chatter

 

ConfidentialWhen I purchased a new computer several years ago, Best Buy packaged it with a copy of a virus protection program called Kaspersky.  I liked the program and would have renewed my subscription except for the fact that it was a Russian company.

I was a bit puzzled by my reluctance to re-subscribe and wondered if it was due to living through the Cold War era. It just didn’t make sense to purchase a virus and spyware program from a country noted for its spying and corruption.

Kaspersky is making news again this week, and guess why—it’s for spying.  The company has developed a program that allows a government or an employer to eavesdrop on your mobile calls. InfoWatch, a subsidiary of Kaspersky, is using technology originally developed for the Soviet KGB, and, they’re trying to market it to businesses and government agencies around the world.

The Russian software company isn’t the only one who has been listening to confidential conversations.  God has been doing it for quite some time, and Jesus issued a warning to motor mouths and their idle chatter: I say to you that for every idle (careless or irreverent) word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment (Matthew 12:36).

In his classic work, Matthew Henry offers an interesting commentary on the words of Jesus: The heart is the fountain, words are the streams. A troubled fountain, and a corrupt spring, must send forth muddy and unpleasant streams. Nothing but the salt of grace, cast into the spring, will heal the waters, season the speech, and purify the corrupt communication. An evil man has an evil treasure in his heart, and out of it brings forth evil things. Lusts and corruptions, dwelling and reigning in the heart, are an evil treasure, out of which the sinner brings forth bad words and actions, to dishonour God, and hurt others. Let us keep constant watch over ourselves, that we may speak words agreeable to the Christian character.

Which is more unsettling to you: the eavesdropping of Big Brother Kaspersky, or the thought that God hears every word you say?  As you think about this, I’ll leave you with two other statements for your consideration:

  • 2 Timothy 2:16: Avoid irreverent, empty speech, for this will produce an even greater measure of godlessness.
  • Proverbs 14:13: Idle chatter leads only to poverty.

A Lesson From The Swan: Stick Your Neck Out

swanI’ll have to admit that I’m more than just a little intrigued by drones and the cameras offered by GoPro.  I’ll admit something else: After watching the jerky footage and less than fluid movies they produce, I almost succumb to motion sickness.

Researchers at Stanford University think they’ve discovered a solution that will stabilize the cameras used in this frontier technology.  Surprisingly, the answer may be found in the smooth and graceful flight of the elegant swan.

In an article at Quartz, Mike Murphy has reported that, “A swan’s neck acts like a car’s suspension, compressing and expanding as the bird’s body bobs up and down with the flaps of its wings, and ensuring the head stays still.”

When the 20 vertebrae and more than 200 muscles on each side of the swan’s neck move in a fluid and coordinated motion, the bird’s head doesn’t bob up and down.  It remains steady, which leads to aerodynamic efficiency and enhanced and focused vision.

If you do a little research in the book of Proverbs, you’ll find how important your neck is to you:

  • In Proverbs 1:8-10, you are encouraged to wear the wisdom of your parents as “a badge of honor and maturity, and as fine jewelry around your neck.”
  • In Proverbs 3:3, Solomon said you should, “Stay focused; do not lose sight of mercy and truth; engrave them on a pendant, and hang it around your neck; meditate on them so they are written upon your heart.
  • In Proverbs 3:22, Solomon encourages you to, “never lose sight of God’s wisdom and knowledge: make decisions out of true wisdom, guard your good sense, and they will be life to your soul and fine jewelry around your neck.”

Life is full of bumps and bruises and it has its ups and downs, but you might experience less turbulence if you stick your neck out for God.

The Single Wrapped Cursing and Blessing

sweet_sourSweet and Sour or bitter and sweet, some polar opposites of life are single wrapped and served for your pleasure.  Too much of one ruins the other, but without the correct mix you are left with something that is bland and tasteless.

If a glass of lemonade was all lemon and no sugar, it would be much too sour.  If it was just a squeeze of lemon and two cups of sugar, it would be far too sweet.  The same is true with life in general:  You need to get the right blend or you’ll be mixed up but not balanced.

How balanced is your life when it comes to technology?  I’m a news-hound, so I watch it on TV, and read it on the internet, and I enjoy watching sports on TV.  I also have a Kindle Fire, and download books to it for reading.  But, it’s possible to spend too much time with technological gadgets and too little time with God.

A disciplined life is an essential.  Peter said that a person should “be disciplined and stay on guard. Your enemy the devil is prowling around outside like a roaring lion, just waiting and hoping for the chance to devour someone (I Peter 5).”

Is your life balanced or have you left the door open to roaring lion?  Are listening more to Hollywood or the Holy Word?  In your life, which of the two is the powerless microphone or a powerful megaphone?

While this is an important question for adults, it is even more serious when it comes to our children.  The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that there should be no screens in kids rooms, including televisions, video games, and mobile devices; and no screen time for children under 2 years of age.

  • The AAP has reported that the average 8 to 10 year old spends nearly 8 hours a day using media and teens spend more than 11 hours a day.
  • The Pew Research Internet Report reports that 78% of teens have a handheld device and 97% use the internet.

This can be good, but it can also be bad.  I think there is a correlation between some societal problems and the proliferation of technology.  Focus on the Family has reported that the average at which a child is introduced to pornography has dropped to 8 years old.caged_lion_1397649c

Sweet and sour or bitter and sweet—is your life full of the enticing, the entertaining, or the educational.  Who is controlling the gateway to the eyes and ears of your family?  Is the roaring lion in the cage or is he running loose?