Saturday, April 3, 2010

The Eve of the Resurrection

The stone rolls away tomorrow

Bear is surprised by how much listening to the passages about Jesus' time right before the cross (and on the cross) on the Den's Bible radio helped her. After being a Christian 18 years, and of course, having read those passages many times already, a bear tends to get to feeling a bit complacent concerning the need to review such foundational Scriptures in a focused way just because it happens to be Easter coming up.

But Bear is so thankful the Holy Spirit drew her to it.

On Good Friday, she listened to all the passages about it, in straight King James Version, no music, no drama -- just to get the basics. (Matthew 26-27; Mark 14-15; Luke 22-23; John 13, 18-19) But then today, she felt like going back, and trying out the dramatized King James Version with the same passages, to see what that would be like. And, since she wasn't feeling very well, she got comfortable on padded furniture, and listened to the radio from across the room. So Bear ended up listening to the passages in Matthew, Mark and Luke that way, again.

Surprisingly, listening to the dramatized version helped her understand the whole picture better. Because that version has different actors speaking, like in a movie or a play, and that makes it much easier to focus on and to follow, than when just listening to the straight account. The soldiers sound like soldiers when they say things. The crowds yelling things sound like a mob. Etc. Yet it is actually the Bible being read, word for word -- just dramatized by various voices and sound effects.

(To find that version on the Bible radio, click the left arrow in the menu bar and type in "English" in the search box that appears. Then scroll through the list, looking for King James Complete Audio Drama Bible. Then follow the directions below the radio to select the chapter to start listening at).

A few things leapt out to her, that she had kind of breezed by without major impact, on Good Friday.

The main thing that struck Bear, is the depth of Jesus' forgiveness on the cross. Basically, He was tortured and mocked in at least four different places by four different groups of people while on the way to the cross and on the cross -- more actually, but these are the main ones that Bear noticed . . . The priests and scribes (where Peter denied Him while waiting outside); by the Roman soldiers; by Herod and his soldiers when presented to Herod; and while on the cross itself, by the religious leaders and people in general. Beaten, whipped, mocked, spit on, blindfolded, stripped naked, a thorn of crowns shoved onto His head, His very clothes gambled for . . . on and on and on.

After Bear had listened to the account of all that about seven times, and yet still heard those words of His ringing from the cross . . .

 "Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do . . ." (Luke 23:34, KJV)

. . . Bear was struck by how incredible that type of forgiveness is. At one point, she was brought to tears and deep comfort. It drove home much more deeply the forgiveness and Grace that God grants Bear. She realized that if Jesus can petition the Father for forgiveness for all that, in the midst of having people gamble over his clothes, yelling terrible things at Him while He was being tortured, and all those people being in agreement that it was right for Him to be tortured . . . then she could be even more assured that He has certainly forgiven Bear for all of her sins (past, present and future) as the Bible teaches.

And it also set a benchmark for her to continue to strive towards in her own life -- learning to forgive more, and to grant more grace to others, in the midst of whatever comes down.

But, it was hard to listen to all that brutality towards the Lord surrounding the cross, these past few days.

And Bear is much looking forward to tomorrow, and hearing again about that stone rolling away, and angels, and shocked disciples, and those same High Priests and Scribes scrambling to try and explain a suddenly empty tomb.

For anyone else who might have time to listen in the Den, between Easter celebrations and festivities, those chapters covering the Resurrection and His walk before the Ascension are:

Matthew 28
Mark 16
Luke 24
John 20-21

Happy Resurrection Eve!
Bear's news and free multi-media Christian resources: Bear's Writing Den

Friday, April 2, 2010

It was indeed a Good Friday

Halfway through the Bible passages

I alternated working on figuring out more about Facebook with listening to the Bible passages about the Lord's journey to the cross today. I'm about halfway through the list I posted yesterday, and figuring on catching the rest before bed.

It's hard to stop at the cross though, without continuing on to listen to "the rest of the story", in the next chapter(s).

But I'll restrain myself for a bit on that part -- I want to save it for Easter.
Bear's news and free multi-media Christian resources: Bear's Writing Den

Good Friday

Good Friday
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16, KJV)

Bear wants to keep focus on that today, thanking God; so is going to be using the Den's new Bible-reading radio to listen to the Gospel accounts of Jesus headed for the cross, and of the cross itself.

(And she plans on listening to the Resurrection passages on Easter.)

Bear did check around for a good video to play for today, appropriate to Good Friday. And she went through quite a few Passion Plays, Movie Clips, songs about the Cross, etc. . . . (The videos in the Den's Worship Room are more Easter Day type, than Good Friday.) But, although some of the ones she went through were very good, nothing can quite relay the full impact of such an event except the Bible itself. All words, dramatizations, and music just seemed to fall short for Bear, and she found herself longing to hear it straight from the Bible.

For anyone who wants to listen with Bear during the day, in the Den, the Gospel passages are these:
  • Matthew 26 - 27
  • Mark 14 - 15
  • Luke 22 - 23
  • John 13 (14 - 17 covers prayers and discussion with the disciples)
  • John 18 - 19
(And for those who want some more dramatic versions, the Radio does have some Bible versions that are dramatized -- similar to listening to a play or movie -- and also has some with music background, while still using the Bible as their text . . . )

May God lift us above the busyness of the world this day, and draw us all, by His good Spirit, to an ever deepening revelation of the Cross.
Bear's news and free multi-media Christian resources: Bear's Writing Den

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Bear sets up a Facebook Fan Page

Facebook progress

Well, Bear made some progress on figuring out Facebook more today, and is feeling encouraged. The biggest thing she learned is that, because she's a writer with a website, she can set up a "Fan Page" for the Den, as well as having her own individual Profile.

So she went ahead and did that. And now things are working out much better. She uploaded the Den's Living Room Journal as a feed into the "Bear's Writing Den" Facebook Fan page. And then put a Facebook Fans' button right on the Den's wall here, in the sidebar, so people can become "Fans" from here inside the Den, (or instantly go to the Fan page from here, instead of being led to her Personal Profile Facebook page). Or, they can find the Fan Page while on Facebook, and become Fans from there also.

The biggest advantage of having a Fans' page, is that it eliminates the "Friends" issue from the Den's Facebook presence -- it makes things MUCH easier for Bear to understand concerning how the "news feeds" and "stories" and such will work for the Den.

So Bear is starting to relax on Facebook Planet more, and the skies are turning less cloudy, and becoming ever more bright with warm spring sunshine. Thanking the Lord!
Bear's news and free multi-media Christian resources: Bear's Writing Den

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

New Multi-Language Audio Bible player in the Den!

A Radio that God broadcasts on . . .

Bear is very excited to have found the new Bible Radio for the Den! It is incredibly awesome! It is hooked into a free service that reads the Bible aloud in all sorts of languages and versions. And anyone can use it while visiting the Den. She can't believe she found it. God is so good!

Bear was pretty tired after having spent quite awhile today out roaming through the forests and fields away from the Den. She had a great day doing it though. It was so nice to see sunshine, and be out and about in beautiful spring weather, after all the time spent getting things arranged in the Den this past week (and all the the time spent on Facebook Planet). It made her feel refreshed and more alive, feeling the unseasonably warm breeze blowing through her fur.

While she was out and about, she got to see the baby goats at her friends' farm, where she gets her goat's milk. Bear loves goat's milk. And she also loves to see the newborn goaties every spring, because they're so cute. They were born about a week ago, and they're already strong and fast on their little feet -- about the size of adult dogs -- with their long ears flopping about as they frolic in the hay in the stall. Their eyes are so bright and intelligent, already fascinated by everything around them. Bear patted them on their little heads with her paw, and marveled that anyone could look at such creatures -- so fully and perfectly formed, even though only one week old -- and ever doubt that they were made by a Creator of awesome Wisdom and Love and Power.

So, although it had been a very fine day, and a good break for Bear, she was very tired by late-night. And wasn't intending to work on the Den at all. But she had been thinking about Good Friday coming up. And wishing that she could find a version of John 18 and 19 read aloud, about the crucifixion, to listen to in the Den on Friday. So she was browsing the Web, hoping to find those two specific chapters at least, in a format that could be transferred legally to the Den.

But she wasn't having any luck at all, after about an hour of searching. And actually gave up and went to bed, discouraged. Then a friend called, getting her out of bed; so after the call, she decided to try for just a little longer.

And that's when she found this incredibly awesome Bible Radio player. It's sponsored by a missionary group that's working to get Audio Version Bibles available in all different languages to people around the world.

And they've set it up, with their blessings, to be used in the Den, and on other websites like the Den! And they made it very easy for Bear to bring it here.

Bear couldn't believe it! It has all sorts of versions of the English Bible . . . some with music background, some without music; some dramatized, some not; even has an Australian version, and a special Kidz dramatized Bible version for kids. And those are just some of the English versions. It also has a couple of Spanish New Testament versions for her Spanish friends, though it doesn't have Spanish Old Testament. And all sorts of other languages.

And it's so easy for people to use it. They just need to pick their language, then select their chosen Bible version, then select the Book and Chapter they want to start at, and click Play. And the Bible Radio will play from that starting point, until they click the stop or pause buttons.

The radio's colors kind of clash with the Den's decor. And Bear tried to paint it a new color, using HTML code, but it turns out not to be doable, because it's connected to its Home source. But Bear decided she doesn't care. She's so happy to have it in the Den. There are people in some countries, where Christians are persecuted, who would literally be willing to risk their lives to get their hands on such a resource. And Bear isn't about to quibble over color.

Instead, Bear's dropping to her knees and thanking God it's available for the Den.

So, the Easter video (that was displayed where the radio now is), has been sent to the Worship Room, in order to give the radio space.

Eventually, there will be a Dining Room added to the Den, Lord willing. And a lot of the Bible resources will probably end up in there, because Bear knows God wants her to feed on His Word, as well as on food. But Bear's not sure she's going to be willing to tuck the radio into the Dining Room.

She loves it right where it is, and may just keep it there forever. And looks forward to many hours of happy listening while working around the Den.
Bear's news and free multi-media Christian resources: Bear's Writing Den

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Warning: Facebook frustrating for Bears

Facebook very frustrating!

Bear spent many hours today trying to learn more about Facebook. And thinks she has never been to such a frustrating place before, as Facebook Planet.

She's still having trouble understanding the Privacy Settings. For example, if she sets her Privacy settings to "Everyone" for the Wall, does that mean that everything she publishes on her own Wall is sent out as a "news feed" to all her friends and friends of friends? Or does it just mean everyone can SEE her wall?

And that's just one area of confusion among many.

Some things did become somewhat clearer, as she spent hour after hour combing through Help files, plus articles about Facebook on the Web. But much is still deep in fog.

Another example: why does her email address keep appearing in her Profile for others to see, even though she's set it on "Me Only" privacy setting?

And can she even trust Facebook's Privacy settings? While she was reading one Help file, she stumbled onto a Facebook notice apologizing that people's Photos were not visible at all for a short time, when they were set to Friends privacy. And apparently there are other glitches that happen like that from time to time. What kind of "privacy" is it, if the settings go on the blink from time to time?

She found one article on the Web, where a person claimed that, when he signed onto his Facebook account via mobile, he could see all his Friends' email addresses, no matter what privacy level they were at. That was back in 2007 or 2008, but if it could have a glitch then, couldn't it again?

Bear wonders.

Maybe Bear is just dumb, but she's never seen a "Help" documentation system set up so poorly, that confused her so much.

At one point, Bear was even about to delete her account and forget the whole thing, she felt so frustrated.

But she consoles herself with the thought that she did at least learn some of the basics; and after taking a Deep Bear Breath, has decided to work at being a little more patient.

She even learned how to upload all the Den's Journal Entries onto Facebook Notes tab, using a feed, and thought that was pretty nifty for awhile. But then she took them down again, deciding to use the Notes tab to put her Writing Challenge entries on (after judging is over, each week), as a sampler of her writing for editors to see.

So, instead of putting the Den's whole Living Room Journal in Notes (and having it automatically updating itself there), she'll just share some of the Journal's entries/posts on her Wall from time to time, using the share buttons in the Den to send them to her Facebook Wall.

Also, she has pretty much decided to just forget about Privacy Settings, and just put info on Facebook that she's willing to let the whole Internet World see.

The more Bear learns about the way Feeds work, and Subscriptions work, and Sharing works -- just a click of the button usually, to link or post a whole web-page in a brand new place -- the more she thinks that the words "Privacy" and "Internet" are just no longer compatible at all, no matter how much people may try to combine the two.

Bear has decided that she is only going to post on the Internet (at FaithWriters, Facebook, etc) writing that she's willing to give away free, or that she can use as a sampler for editors, or writing that has already been published elsewhere. And she's going to keep off the Web anything she actually hopes to sell, (unless she's selling it to someone on the Web.)

She may change her mind on that later. But it seems rather pointless to put writing ANYWHERE on the Net and then try to sell "First North American Serial Rights" to a publisher afterward, when it's accessible for the whole world to read already.

It will be very interesting to see what the Internet metamorphoses into during these next four or five years, Bear thinks, with so many options for instant, one-click "sharing" of information multiplying at such an exponential rate.

At any rate, after restraining herself from deleting her Facebook account completely (and stopping herself from dwelling too long on happy images of throwing the computer monitor out the front window of the Den), Bear prayed enough to settle down and to start to look on the bright side of Facebook Planet again. And just decided to learn to work with its good points, and work around the problem areas. And to be more patient during the learning phase.

She'll just try to picture blue Facebook skies ahead, with a few of those nice, puffy white clouds peacefully floating around, just to give the picture a bit of interest and contrast.
Bear's news and free multi-media Christian resources: Bear's Writing Den

Monday, March 29, 2010

More resources added to the Den + Review of "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed" Documentary

Bear adds more resources to the Den
Late Last Night

Bear had a good time at church.  Then rested a lot.  Then did some more learning about Facebook and more work on the den.  She also added a bunch more resources to the Christian Resource Annex, including lots of online Bible Study tools, a search engine that is filtered to search only Christian Websites (so you can search for various resources on the Web and get a list of Christian Resources specifically), and info and a link to a free desktop Bible Software package that is as good (or better) than some you might spend several hundred dollars on.

Plus, Bear gave Euan Murray a spot on the Balcony so people can catch his testimony there, in future.

Plus learned how to put the Share and Subscribe buttons all around the Den Rooms, and even on each individual post, so people can export content from the Den to just about any social networking group on the Web (Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Yahoo, Google, you name it -- Bear doesn't even recognize half the sites on the list, there are so many), and so they can also subscribe to receive the Den's journal entries daily through a wide variety of feeds or via email.

Which is probably more than Bear should have done on a Sunday night, she's thinking, but it was fun.

"Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed" Documentary -- Review

Bear just did a few "cleaning up loose ends" types of thing on the Den today, trying to get things consistent throughout all the rooms.  Then took some time off to watch the Documentary "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed" by Ben Stein, that has set off so much controversy.

It's about Evolution vs. Intelligent Design.  But Stein is not proclaiming that one is true and the other is not -- that's not what the documentary addresses (although in the end, after he's done all his research, he's clearly leaning towards Intelligent Design over Evolution, while at the beginning it was the other way around).  Rather, it is an investigative journalistic type of report (with some humor thrown in, but very serious at the end), looking into charges that scientists who advocate Intelligent Design are being blacklisted and arbitrarily blocked from jobs and University positions.  And he takes it to the next step, saying that there's no real freedom in this country anymore, at the scholastic level.  That unless you believe what a certain group believes, then you are very effectively blocked from making your case, through a wide variety of intimidation tactics and repression.

Plus, it goes into a lot of oher issues resulting from a country's unwillingness to allow anything but Evolution to be considered.

Bear didn't like the beginning 20 minutes of it.  Stein's sense of humor kind of grated on Bear, and Bear was wondering if she should be really watching it at all.  He made some comments about conservative Christians that weren't exactly kind.  Which made it even more interesting, when Stein ended up coming down on the side of Intelligent Design pretty strongly, once he had done the research.  And he now is leading petitions to send to Congress, for a new "Academic Freedom" act, based on his research.

In fact, it ended up being a very fascinating video, and Bear was very glad she hung on through the beginning and watched it all.  She might even watch it again tomorrow.  (It's a rental and has to be turned back in soon.)

It was nice to wind down a bit, away from Den-cleaning.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Bear has something to share this Sunday

Sunday Morning
Euan Murray Visits!

An internationally famous rugby star whose faith is tested on the field, in the locker room, and when facing the pressures of fame, professional contract negotiations, and media coverage...

This is an incredible interview with Euan Murray about God's Grace and leading in the life of this young Scottish rugby star, provided by Gilcomston South Church from Aberdeen, Scotland.

He's a very charming, funny, yet serious-about-his-faith player whose favorite part of the game is tackling people in that violent manner that rugby players have . . . while at the same time he tackles issues concerning how to walk as a Christian and best honor and serve the Lord as a top "star" in Scotland's sports, in the midst of that rough and tumble world of rugby.

This interview was done shortly before Mr. Murray declared publicly that he would no longer participate in Rugby matches on Sundays, and successfully worked that clause into his contract as a professional player, releasing him from obligation to do so. And in that way, his life reminds Bear almost of a "Chariots of Fire" type of theme and story.

However, the conversation covers much more than that, and is just outstanding, overall. Bear has listened to it a couple times already, and it has stirred in her a deep desire to become a better witness for the Lord in her own life.  And she'll be listening to it again herself today.

The first 10 minutes cover just a general "what it's like to be an internationally famous Rugby star" type of talk and joking. Then it moves into discussion of what it's like to walk as a Christian in the midst of the rugby crowd, and continues in that vein until the end. Total length about 60 minutes. (The play slider on the player can be moved to start it playing 10 minutes after the beginning, if you want to skip most of the strictly-rugby-talk-stuff; but Bear even enjoyed that part, as this young man has a sterling sense of humor.)

Thumbnail bio provided by Gilcomston South Church: "Euan Murray (born 7 August 1980) is a Scottish rugby union footballer, currently playing for Northampton Saints in the National Division One competition. He has also played for the Scotland national team. He was a part of their 2007 Six Nations squad, and scored a try in their final game against France. His usual position is as a prop."

Bear is most honored to have Euan Murray visiting the Den this Sunday morning, for this chat, before she heads off for church.