NOTES FROM THE VALLEY
November 2, 2003
"Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of
death, I will fear no evil for you are with me." Psalm 23.
Computers are amazing tools and they offer us some tremendous
capabilities. Good news or bad news; positives or negatives; sin or
salvation - whatever the message, it can and is being spread through
a communications network that literally spans the globe and reaches
tens of thousands of people in a heartbeat. But are we enjoying the
benefits of computers or being driven by them? Do we control the
computers or are they starting to control us? If you've experienced
the frustration of being caught at work or out shopping when
the "computers are down," you've asked these questions yourself. As
Christians, the computer question takes on an even deeper focus.
Should Christians be using computers and the Internet to carry out
God's calling or are they corrupted by evil and unfit for our use?
Obviously, I believe that Christians need to be using the absolutely
awesome capabilities of computers to spread the Gospel. Internet
connections literally cover the globe like a gigantic spider's web
waiting to be used. And I firmly believe everything has been created
by and is under the control of the Father specifically for this time
and His purposes. Each of us in this network has been prepared for
our role in what God is doing. It's harvest time and we're part of
the harvest workers. There are millions of computers in homes,
businesses and power centers everywhere. There is virtually no place
the message of the Gospel can't reach through links to those
computers. And millions of believers are on those networks, using
their computers to forward the message of God's love and grace to
every corner of the world.
But there are some very real dangers involved in this work. Many
users have been made painfully aware that there are unscrupulous
people using this powerful communication tool to pedal their filth
and lies. Pornographers, cults followers and atheists spread their
ideology of sin, hate and unbelief, often from sites co-located on
the same public servers we use. And dedicated hackers use their
viruses and other invasive tools to fulfill their singular goal of
shutting our computers and websites down. The Internet has literally
become the new battleground for people's hearts and souls.
Computers are neither good nor evil. But they are powerful weapon
for all those who use them. We serve (and are led by) a mighty God.
Our enemies serve a liar and a worm. Even so, we must never
underestimate the power of our enemy or the forces he commands. We
must understand his weapons and tactics and how to defend ourselves
against them. That includes his destructive use of computers. We
must train in the proper use of the weapons we've been given to use
against him. And we must understand and act upon the commands of the
one we follow without doubts or hesitation. That's pretty much how
it works in any army.
What makes this army unique is that our leader is also our
omnipresent and omnipotent Heavenly Father. And our Abba Father
never wants any of us going into battle without Him. Like other wise
Generals, He sees to our proper training and equipping for the
battle. But this General goes one step further and takes up a
protective position beside us for every battle. As I place my hands
upon the keyboard and commit my time in service to Him, I feel the
touch of His guiding hand upon my shoulder. Then and only then, do I
know I'm ready.
"No weapon formed against (me) shall prosper, and every tongue which
rises against (me) in judgment (I) shall condemn. This is the
heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is from
Me, says the LORD." Isaiah 54:17.
I hate the filth that is infecting the Internet. My heart aches
every time we receive a bit of hate mail from a lost soul or an
unsolicited "pop-up" ad for some form of filth. I'd rather not be on
a server that allows that kind of material to be distributed. But I
believe we are called to spread God's light into every dark corner
the devil attempts to occupy.
I am reminded of the time in the Book of Matthew (Chapter 9) when
Jesus sat down to dinner in Matthew's house and many sinners came to
eat with Him. The Pharisees questioned why He would eat with them.
On hearing this, Jesus said, "It is not the healthy who need a
doctor, but the sick . . . For I have not come to call the righteous,
but sinners." Verses 11 to 13.
I don't believe God wants us to run away from confrontations with the
devil, but calls us to expose him and his lies at every opportunity.
We are called to offer the love and grace of our Lord, the light of
His truth, to those lost in sin - wherever we can find them. Notes
is distributed through some of the largest free server networks in
the world with a potential audience of millions. Every form of sin
you can imagine is peddled on those networks because of the size of
the potential audience. It is an audience that also desperately
needs to hear the "Good News" about our Lord and Savior, Jesus
Christ. So we continue to use those servers. I pray that no one is
offended by that decision.
If anyone feels the need to leave one of our current sites because of
offensive advertisements or "neighbors" on the server, we've set up
new alternate sites for the distribution of "Notes." If you'd like
to continue receiving them, but not through your current group,
please let me know and I'll relocate you to the new site. Your
prayers and understanding are needed and appreciated as always.
I remain sheltered under His wings
and overwhelmed by His love,
"NO MORE LEGAL MOVES"
(Author Ellis Bush, Jr.)
When you buy any version of the Windows operating system software, it
comes with several games installed, one of which is a card game
called FreeCell. FreeCell could best be described as an advanced
Solitaire. You must move cards around like Solitaire (Red seven on
Black eight, etc.) but this game requires you to plan the moves you
will make. You need to strategize and think through your next few
moves. You plot and plan and play mental "what if" games before you
start moving cards. Even with the best planning, you can reach a
point where there are no more opportunities to move. When this
happens, a very frustrating message appears: "You Have No More Legal
Moves!" It is almost as if the computer is laughing at you! "You
tried your best and you couldn't figure this one out! You have a
Master's Degree and you can't even figure out how to stack cards in
sequence! You can plan and plot and strategize all you want, but you
still end up with 'No More Legal Moves!' Ha! Got you again!"
"All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is
written: "Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything
written in the Book of the Law. . . So the law was put in charge to
lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith." Galatians
3:10 and 24
You probably cannot remember the first time you heard of the Bible's
Ten Commandments. Maybe it was in Sunday school, or in a history
class, or at the movies with Charlton Heston. These Commandments were
just ten of many laws that God established to govern the relationship
between man and God. But humans proved unable to keep these laws and
there came a point in history where God simply said: "You have no
more legal moves. Something else must be done. You need a Savior."
And He replaced this legal system with a relationship. A personal,
individual relationship with His Son, Jesus. But it seems we humans,
even we Christians, are more comfortable with Laws than Relationships:
God calls us to prayer, so we set up a prayer guide with an outline,
workbook and rotation schedule then become frustrated when not enough
people sign up.
God calls us to represent Him in the world, so we hire consultants to
teach training seminars and plan strategies to "reach the lost"
(which we'll refer to as "heathens" or "pagans" until further
God calls us to enter into His presence and we schedule this into a
one-hour time slot with meetings before and after. Meanwhile, God
quietly whispers to us: "There are still no more legal moves. There
is no sign-up sheet, time schedule or strategy that can replace a
relationship with Me."
Are you still chasing Laws? Are you tied up in duties, schedules, and
Christ is calling you into a relationship. A relationship that is
not limited by the time schedules and sign-up sheets that we put in
place. But a relationship that is unlimited by the love and grace
and mercy that He wants to share with us. Set aside the Legal
Moves. Rest in the relationship.
Jesus and the Devil had an argument one day about who was the better
computer programmer. The argument went on for a number of hours
until finally they both agreed to a contest with God as the final
judge (how appropriate).
They met at the appointed time and place for the contest, set
themselves before their computers, and on signal they began. Each of
them typed furiously, lines of computer code streaming up their
monitors. Just seconds before the competition was to end, a bolt of
lightening strikes, taking out the electricity. Their screens go
blank. Moments later, the power is restored and God announces that
the contest is officially over. He asks the Devil to show Him what
he has come up with in his program.
The Devil, visibly upset cries, "Nothing, absolutely nothing! I lost
it all when the power went out."
"Very well then." says God, and He turns to Jesus. "Did you fare any
better than the Devil?" He asks.
Jesus enters a command and His screen comes alive with vivid displays
of color moving in harmony with the stereo sound of glorious angelic
choruses streaming forth from His computer's surround sound
The Devil is astonished and stutters, "But how? I lost everything
and His program is still in tact. How could He do that?"
God chuckles and says, "You should know Devil. Jesus saves!"
A CLOSING THOUGHT
(Richard L. McCandless in Leadership)
The first great communications revolution followed the invention of
the printing press. The first thing they printed was the Bible. The
second communications revolution was due to the computer, and the
first things computed were missile trajectories. Is this that
Copyright © 1998 - 2003 by Stephen J. Hall - Letters of
encouragement to Christians written by Stephen J. Hall unless
otherwise indicated. Notes from the Valley and Humor from the Valley
are meant to brighten your day and encourage you along the way. Most
of "Notes" and "Humor" are a collection of items provided by
subscribers and friends. Credit is given to both the contributor and
to the true author, where known. If you are blessed by them, please
feel free to make copies and pass them along to others. If you
have something you'd like to contribute to a future edition, would
like to ask a question or make a comment, please contact us at:
"Your love, God, is my song, and I'll sing it! I'm forever telling
everyone how faithful you are. I'll never quit telling the story of
your love . . . " (Psalm 89:1-3 The Message)