THE Big Story

Here’s an interesting presentation of THE Big Story of God, humans, and the world:

Please bear in mind that this is a three-minute summary, so do give the presenter some leeway if he does not include some details we would prefer to see if we were the ones to present a Big Story 😉 .

What do you think?

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Note (added 10/10/08): This presentation was developed by James Choung, who explains it further here.

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Animoto.com—Create Your Videos Online

I received an email from Web Evangelism, where they featured this neat Web app at http://animoto.com.

Animoto will create videos for you from your own pics and choice of soundtrack music. You can choose soundtracks from their library or from your own music collection. They promise that no two videos will be the same. You can use the same collection of pics and same music, but they will remix it to come up with different videos every time.

Free videos will last only 30 seconds. You’ll have to pay for longer ones.

Just to see how good they are, I tried them out with some pics from when Perry and I were in Italy. Here’s what they came up with, in less than seven minutes:

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[clearspring_widget title=”Animoto.com” wid=”46928cc51133af17″ pid=”48bcb0ef4452744b” width=”432″ height=”260″ domain=”widgets.clearspring.com”]

You can then post the videos in your blog (as I did with this sample), in WordPress, MySpace, Friendster, Facebook, Multiply, etc. You can invite your friends to view them, or upload them to YouTube.

Great tool for 30-second promotional messages for your services, organization, church, etc.

Pretty cool for a free service, huh?

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Related posts:

Kudos To My Beautiful Wife (Perry)

Anyone Out There Need 50GB of FREE Online Storage? (Another excellent and FREE online app)

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Help Provide Safe Drinking Water to Thousands in Africa

For only US$ 33, each of us can help provide clean, safe drinking water to tens of thousands of people in Africa.

I just received an email from BirthdayAlarm. They have teamed up with the non-profit organization charity:water . The vision of Charity: Water is to help provide clean, safe drinking water to billions of people all over the world who don’t have access to it. Its founder, Scott Harrison, had the inspirted idea to celebrate his 32nd birthday in September last year by asking for donations of US$ 32 each from concerned individuals to help benefit needy people in Kenya, particularly a hospital which sees about a hundred patients a day, but out of whose taps can come only muddy water.

92 people responded, and most gave more than $ 32 each. They were able to raise $150,000. They dug a well which gave that hospital and the community around it access to clean drinking water.

The idea worked. So this year, they’re aiming to raise ten times that amount, in order to help provide water in Ethiopia. They want to provide wells to at least 300 villages in that country.

For his 33rd birthday this September, Scott is asking for $ 33 from people whose hearts are moved to help provide this very important resource. Most of us take water for granted, but there are tens of thousands in less-developed places who don’t have ready access to it.

Thirty-three dollars. It’s worth it. Give a gift of life. Let’s give a gift of drinking water for thousands of our fellow human beings.

Check it out here:

http://www.charitywater.org/birthdays/intro/trailer2.html?MID=15

or at

http://borninseptember.org.

 

God bless you, Scott!

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16-year-old Charice Sings with Andrea Bocelli

Yeah, yeah, I know, I’m late again 😦 .

But I’m still happy that Charice Pempengco got to sing with Andrea Bocelli. I’m sure that thousands of other Filipinos have already seen her videos on YouTube. So? I still want to post links to her videos in this blog. Hey, I’m a fan 🙂 .

In the Wikipedia article on Bocelli, the tenor is quoted as saying that he was actually looking forward to promoting Charice, whom he called a “force of nature” 🙂 . Here’s what he said, according to the Wikipedia article:

In an interview, Andrea Bocelli said that “In realtà il mondo è pieno di grandi voci e ho avuto la fortuna di cantare con tanti artisti, da Christina Aguilera a Bono. Ma, se proprio dovessi trovare una nuova interprete, punterei su Charice, una ragazza delle Filippine che a soli 15 anni è una versa forza della natura. Ne sentiremo parlare.” or “In reality, the world is full of great voices and I had the opportunity to sing with so many artists, from Christina Aguilera to Bono. But, if I would like to look for a new voice, I would push for Charice, a girl from the Philippines that only at 15 yrs old is a flush force of nature. That we shall be hearing.”

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So here they are, Charice and Bocelli, singing “The Prayer” (the video is a bit shaky, since it was just taken by an audience member, but their voices were sure and steady 🙂 ):


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For more news on this wonder kid, click here. There are also more and higher-quality videos of her various performances with different artists in other countries at this site (including her performance at the Paul O’Grady Show in England).
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The following news clip on Charice features a snippet of her fantastic performance at the tribute concert to David Foster, held last May at the Mandalay Bay Resort in Las Vegas. The news is in Tagalog, but the praises heaped on her by the 14-time Grammy Award winner Foster and by Josh Groban (!) are, of course, in English. She received standing ovations for her renditions of “I Will Always Love You“, “I Have Nothing“, and “And I am Telling You“.

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And here’s an interview on a Philippine entertainment show:

 

Hats off to you, Charice! Man, if you’re this good at 16, who can tell where you’ll be, even just 5 years from now? I do hope you stay humble, and that you never ever forget the Creator who gave you your gifts. God bless you!

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Related posts:

Charice and Celine

Super Filipina Kid

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Christian the Lion, an Internet Sensation

Couldn’t update the blog as much I would want. Couldn’t even visit it as often as I would want 😦 !

Busy with the project, and a day job found me 🙂 ! Oh, well…

But my sister sent me a link to this beautiful video, as posted at the Times Online (UK), and I just had to post it, just in case a visitor here hasn’t seen it yet. The link at the Times is Lion Becomes Internet Sensation.

The Times article links to this video on YouTube:
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Beautiful!
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Dying for Rebels

(…continued from To Understand, Stand Under)

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And what does the Bible say?

That the Almighty Creator God, who is love [1], loves us so much that Jesus Christ died for us to take the penalty for our sins [2].

We are by nature rebels, shaking our fists at God, thumbing our noses at Him and declaring that we don’t need Him, and that our standards of right and wrong are better than His. Because of this we do not deserve to be in His presence. The penalty for our rebellion against the very One who created us is death—eternal separation from God. I have discussed this in my post Will Dead Babies Go To Hell?

But God loves us so much that Christ died for us—even while we were still rebels [3]! Even while we had not yet given any indication that we were willing to lay down our arms, to set aside our desire to live separate from Him, in fact even to live in a world where He does not exist—even while we were still sinners, as the Bible says, Christ died for us!

The King of kings dies for the sake of rebels against Him

The King of kings dies for the sake of his rebellious subjects

THIS is the difference between Christianity and other religions or philosophies. If you analyze them closely, other religions are ultimately about what human beings can or should do in order to gain the favor of the god or gods in that religion, or to progress from one level to higher levels of existence. There are rules to follow and specific behaviors or actions that must be performed. This is the common denominator among the other religions. Unfortunately, this common denominator, and the expectation among many people that it is a necessary part of ANY religion—that certain behaviors must be done first before the god(s)’s favor can be earned—has been exploited by various cults which have taken advantage of so many people through the centuries.

But Christianity is different. Where other religions would say that we have to earn a god’s favor, and teach what we should do in order to do that, Christianity says that God, the true God, the One who created us, already loves us—even while we were and are still rebels. His love, His favor, is already on us. We do not have to do anything to earn it. And His love is so great that He actually died for us, in the person of Jesus Christ, in order to pay the penalty for our rebellion, so that we can enjoy a blessed life with Him in eternity.

The other systems talk about what we should do in order to gain heaven (or higher levels of existence, or whatever else they call it in their systems).

Christianity is about what the Almighty Creator God has done so that we can gain heaven.

The other systems are about what human beings should do. The Christian God, the one true God, says, “I have already done what needs to be done. What you have to do, for your part, is to believe that I have indeed done it.”

If we do that, if we believe that Jesus Christ, in dying on the cross to pay the penalty for our rebelliousness, has done what needs to be done in order to reconcile us rebels to God and to make us deserving to live in eternity with Him—if we believe this first, then we will understand the rest.

Then we will be able to obey what needs to be done next—to lay down our arms, give up on our rebellion, and surrender to the One true God.

To be continued…

[1] Read 1 John 4:8
[2] Read John 3:16, 1 John 4:9-10
[3] Read Romans 5:8

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This is Part 4 of a series. Other posts in this series:

Part 1: Judging God

Part 2: Original Sin

Part 3: To Understand, Stand Under

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To Understand, Stand Under

(…continued from Original Sin)

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Don Carson has called this the de-godding of God.

It is putting ourselves above our Creator, judging Him, assessing Him.

Which of course is impossible. How can a created being truly understand its creator? As the apostle Paul says,

Who in the world do you think you are to second-guess God? Do you for one moment suppose any of us knows enough to call God into question? Clay doesn’t talk back to the fingers that mold it, saying, “Why did you shape me like this?”

Romans 9:20-21

And as God Himself says, according to the prophet Isaiah,

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
….neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
….so are my ways higher than your ways
……..and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Isaiah 55:8-9

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But the good news is, our Creator, God, is allowing us to have a relationship with Him. But it has to be on HIS terms. He has graciously taken the initiative and revealed Himself to us (and by “grace” I mean “unmerited favor”, meaning we did not do anything at all to deserve what He has granted). He has revealed Himself first through His messengers the prophets (like Isaiah, quoted above), and ultimately through Jesus Christ (Hebrews 1:1-3). This gracious self-revelation of our Creator is recorded in the Bible, rightly regarded by Christians as THE written Word of God.

And through His written Word, God has not only revealed who He is, but also who human beings really are—the only beings in all of creation who are created in His image, offered the incredible privilege of enjoying eternity with Him—forever!

Moreover, the Bible reveals not only  who God is, and what human beings really are, but also what is good and what is bad for us. Not just what is morally good and bad, but indeed what is truly good and truly bad for us, as graciously revealed by our Maker—who of course knows infinitely more about us than we ever can find out on our own.

But, just like Adam and Eve in the story, human beings rebel at this. We prefer to retain the idea that we can, in time, understand the whole universe, the whole of creation, including ourselves, without help from the Creator.

And some people, in response to the assertion that the Bible is the Word of God, get sidetracked in endlessly trying to prove that it is historically inaccurate and contains accounts which contradict one another and cannot be reconciled. The reasoning is that if it can be proven that there are errors or inconsistencies in the Bible, then it cannot be the revelation of an infallible God.

But so much precious time is wasted in this. I personally believe that everything in the Bible can indeed be proven to be historically accurate, and that the accounts there do not contradict one another. However, I also believe that concentrating in such efforts to “prove” and “disprove” every little account and detail could be a fatal waste of time.

As John Stott says,

The Bible is essentially a handbook of salvation.  Its overarching purpose is to teach not facts of science (e.g. the nature of moon rock) which men can discover by their own empirical investigation, but facts of salvation, which no space exploration can discover but only God can reveal.  The whole Bible unfolds the divine scheme of salvation—man’s creation in God’s image, his fall through disobedience into sin and under judgment, God’s continuing love for him in spite of his rebellion, God’s eternal plan to save him through his covenant of grace with a chosen people, culminating in Christ; the coming of Christ as the Saviour, who died to bear man’s sin, was raised from death, was exalted to heaven and sent the Holy Spirit; and man’s rescue first from guilt and alienation, then from bondage, and finally from mortality in his progressive experience of the liberty of God’s children. [1]

The pursuit of proofs pro and con the historicity and integrity of biblical accounts is, of course, useful—to a point. It is of course important to be assured that the BIble, in the forms that we have it today, is indeed a reliable transmission of the original documents. It is important to be assured that there are no historical errors nor unexplainable “contradictions” in the biblical accounts [2]. However, it is easy to focus so much on the pursuit of proofs and arguments pro and con these matters that one misses THE point: the need to have a right relationship with our Creator, and how God Himself has provided the means for such a right relationship.

No, created human beings can never fully understand their Creator. They cannot even truly, completely, understand themselves, and what is truly good and bad for them, without help from their Creator.

The only way to truly understand and know God, is to bow before Him in humility and to accept that He is God, and we are not. The only way to understand the Bible is to stand under it, accept it as the Word of the Creator, as indeed it is, and to obey His will as revealed in it [3].

We cannot stand in judgment of God, and say to Him, “Alright, big guy, if you can explain yourself to me, then I’ll do as you say.” No, that won’t work with God. Man’s way is “Let me understand first, then I will obey”. That may  work out fine in relation with other human beings and human authorities. But that is not the way we are to relate with our Creator. God’s way is: “Obey first, THEN you will understand“.

There is only one God, one Creator. We can have a relationship with Him, and we can know Him, and thereby also fully and truly know ourselves. But it has to be on His terms. The good news is, if we come to Him on His terms, He will reveal Himself more and more to us—as we continue to trust and obey Him. If we obey, then we will indeed understand. He will grant us wisdom and understanding—not only for this life, but for eternity.

He will not only guide us into the knowledge of good and evil, but also allow us to enjoy the fruit of the tree of life.

To be continued…

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[1] From “The Message of 2 Timothy” (The Bible Speaks Today series: London and Downers Grove: IVP, 1973), p. 102, as quoted in the May 21 2008 issue of the John Stott Daily Thought e-newsletter. Emphases mine.

[2] See, for example, the posts Are the New Testament Documents Reliable? and Are the New Testament Documents Reliable? What About the Differences in the Manuscripts?, and the comments to them.

[3] In his post Are There Errors in the Bible?, Tim Challies says, rightly:

After all, if something is the ultimate authority, to what else can it appeal? Were the Bible to appeal to our reason to substantiate its authority, it would implicitly show that human reason is a higher authority. 

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This is Part 3 of a series. Other posts in this series:

Part 1: Judging God

Part 2: Original Sin

Part 4: Dying for Rebels

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