Internet Accountability

Internet accountability Lock Screen

Internet Accountability

by Dr. Sharon Short
I was shocked and horrified recently to learn that a highly esteemed academic colleague of mine had been arrested. Ripples of damage continue to spread to the institutions where he taught; the professional associations to which he belonged; the publishers of his writings; and students, faculty, administrators, and friends with whom he worked. If he is convicted, his career will be destroyed and his reputation ruined. Much is still unknown and the legal processes have barely begun, but even in these early stages it appears that illicit internet use brought about this dreadful downfall.
This tragedy serves as a sobering reminder that not one of us is immune to the insidious lure of sin. If “the last person on earth” whom we would expect to commit a particular crime is found entangled in it, then we too could fall. Therefore we must all be aggressively intentional about avoiding even the appearance of evil and about building reliable warning and accountability structures into our lives.
Specifically with regard to online practices, many of us are still far too naïve about the potential dangers of internet involvement and about the addictions that can result. We might think that we are safe because we are perusing sites and sending messages from the seclusion of our own homes or offices. The reality of course is that, in spite of all those “privacy policies,” the internet is anything but private. It quite literally is a worldwide web through which anyone in the whole wide world can potentially find out what any other person has been up to. The obvious application is to never view, post, download, “like,” or forward anything that we would not be equally willing to print in a newspaper, preach from a pulpit, paint on a billboard, or publish in a book, nor to say or do anything via the internet that we would not want anyone else in the whole world to know about. Recognizing the internet for the totally public information-sharing forum that it is will go a long ways toward deterring usage that could lead to immoral or illegal behaviors.
Many of us are also unaware of the excellent safeguards that are currently available. It is possible to install software on our personal and work computers that records and reports to our designated accountability partners every image we view and every word we write. The prudent move of voluntarily submitting to internet accountability and surveillance software now—well before we encounter any actual temptation—could spare us, our families, and our associates incalculable grief in the future.

Maundy Thursday Inspirational Art

Maundy Thursday

The week prior to Resurrection Day is called “Holy Week.” Thursday of this week is sometimes called “Holy Thursday” or “Great Thursday” or historically, “Maundy Thursday.” Maundy (“mondee”) is from a Latin Word, mandatum, which means “commandment” signifying the command Jesus gave at the Last Supper on Thursday– to serve one another and to remember His sacrifice. Many free Protestant churches don’t celebrate the holiday specifically or have special services, but where it is celebrated it sometimes includes footwashing as an act of service. Since Footwashing is only mentioned once as a religious practice in scripture (John 12), and not using the same language and type of instruction of the “ordinances” of baptism and the Lord’s Table (communion, eucharist), it is typically not considered an ordinance and only a very small number of Christian denominations practice it regularly as an ordinance. Even so, it is sometimes done in association with Maundy Thursday as a devotional practice.
In commemoration of this year’s Maundy Thursday, I wanted to share this expandable (click to expand) image of Bellini’s Agony in the Garden, signifying Jesus after the Last Supper in Gethsemane. It’s stylized for that time period, of course, but it gives a glimpse of how the event was characterized in art, and it provides inspiration and opportunity for reflection. Enjoy!

The Agony in the Garden (Giovanni Bellini, c. 1465)

Giovanni Bellini, active about 1459; died 1516 The Agony in the Garden about 1465 Egg on wood, 81.3 x 127 cm Bought, 1863 NG726 http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/NG726
Giovanni Bellini, The Agony in the Garden (c. 1465)
The Agony in the Garden is an early painting by the Italian Renaissance master Giovanni Bellini, who painted it around 1459–65. It is in the National Gallery, London.  It portrays Christ kneeling on the Mount of Olives in prayer, with his disciples Peter, James and John sleeping near to him.  The picture is closely related to the similar work by Bellini’s brother-in-law, Andrea Mantegna, also in the National Gallery. It is likely that both derived from a drawing by Bellini’s father, Jacopo.[1] In Bellini’s version, the treatment of dawn light has a more important role in giving the scene a quasi-unearthly atmosphere. Until the mid-19th century Early Renaissance paintings were regarded as curiosities by most collectors. This one had probably belonged to Consul Smith in Venice (d. 1770), was bought by William Beckford at the Joshua Reynolds sale in 1795 for £5, then sold in 1823 with Fonthill Abbey and repurchased by Beckford at the Fonthill Sale the next year (as a Mantegna) for £52.10s. It was bought by the National Gallery for £630 in 1863, still a low price for the day.[2]  Source

Call To Action

  • Read the passage in each of the Synoptic Gospels

Matthew 26:36-46 (NIV)
36 Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled.38 Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”
39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”
40 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. 41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
42 He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”
43 When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. 44 So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing.
45 Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour has come, and the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. 46 Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”
Mark 14:32-52 (The Message)
The Message is a modern paraphrase of the Bible. Though a loose ‘translation’ or, better, paraphrase of the text, it still provides inspirational insight into God’s Word and is beneficial for reading. Try it.

32-34 They came to an area called Gethsemane. Jesus told his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” He took Peter, James, and John with him. He plunged into a sinkhole of dreadful agony. He told them, “I feel bad enough right now to die. Stay here and keep vigil with me.”

35-36 Going a little ahead, he fell to the ground and prayed for a way out: “Papa, Father, you can—can’t you?—get me out of this. Take this cup away from me. But please, not what I want—what do you want?”
37-38 He came back and found them sound asleep. He said to Peter, “Simon, you went to sleep on me? Can’t you stick it out with me a single hour? Stay alert, be in prayer, so you don’t enter the danger zone without even knowing it. Don’t be naive. Part of you is eager, ready for anything in God; but another part is as lazy as an old dog sleeping by the fire.”
39-40 He then went back and prayed the same prayer. Returning, he again found them sound asleep. They simply couldn’t keep their eyes open, and they didn’t have a plausible excuse.
41-42 He came back a third time and said, “Are you going to sleep all night? No—you’ve slept long enough. Time’s up. The Son of Man is about to be betrayed into the hands of sinners. Get up. Let’s get going. My betrayer has arrived.”
 
Luke 22:39-46 (CSB)
39 He went out and made His way as usual to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed Him. 40 When He reached the place, He told them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” 41 Then He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, knelt down, and began to pray, 42 “Father, if You are willing, take this cup away from Me—nevertheless, not My will, but Yours, be done.”
[43 Then an angel from heaven appeared to Him, strengthening Him. 44 Being in anguish, He prayed more fervently, and His sweat became like drops of blood falling to the ground.][a] 45 When He got up from prayer and came to the disciples, He found them sleeping, exhausted from their grief.[b] 46 “Why are you sleeping?” He asked them. “Get up and pray, so that you won’t enter into temptation.”

  • Next, meditate on the experience of each of the people in the painting
  1. How might Peter have experienced the Garden of Gethsemane and its events, especially when Jesus personally confronted him?
  2. How might James and John have experienced the Garden of Gethsemane, especially when they were found sleeping while Jesus was in his pain?
  3. How might Jesus have felt and what was He experiencing, knowing that He was soon to be falsely arrested and would soon have to suffer separation from God for the sins of humanity at the crucifixion?
  • Finally, end with a time of prayer, asking God to give you the grace to serve others as He did.  

Devotional Questions:

  1. How can I serve God more?
  2. How can I serve my spouse/significant others more?
  3. How can I serve my children more?
  4. How can I serve my parents more?
  5. How can I serve the world to show them God’s love?

Amen.


Relationships Among Research Methods and Paradigms

Research methods and Paradigms

Relationships Among Research Methods and Paradigms

 
by Dr. Sharon Short
 
During the past several decades, considerable debate has raged between those who favor empirical (generally termed “quantitative”) research and those who prefer interpretive (generally referred to as “qualitative”) inquiry. Those who draw the lines most dogmatically argue that, since these research methods and paradigms are based on fundamentally conflicting views about the nature of reality, the researcher must commit to the one approach that corresponds to his or her philosophical position. One cannot endorse both paradigms because they represent reality in essentially contradictory ways and are therefore incompatible and mutually exclusive.
Several thoughtful scholars, however, have argued for complementarity among research paradigms rather than exclusivity (Eisner, 1981; Salomon, 1991; Soltis, 1984). As I struggled with these issues in the preparation of my dissertation proposal, I eventually concluded that those who claim that reality is either objective and external or socially constructed are claiming to much, and that it makes more sense to recognize some aspects of reality as objectively real and stable and other aspects of the same comprehensive reality as socially constructed. Salomon explains it in these words:

The very logic that underlies the acceptance of reality as social and research paradigms as human-made, admitting therefore a variety of these, ought also to accept the notion that no single paradigm or set of assumptions is necessarily superior to others….Rather, paradigms are ways to study selected aspects of the world, and thus their selection must be a function of that aspect chosen for study. (p. 15)

I think it is fair to say that reality is both stable and consistent (in general) and idiosyncratic and individualistic (in particular). This claim is much more true for the social sciences than for the physical sciences, and that may be the source of the trouble. Social scientists began by imitating the scientific methods of physical science, and these methods worked for them up to a point. But then there was so much more unexplained information than one would find in physical science, so much more variation and inconsistency, that some theorists rejected the paradigm entirely in favor of a different one, when in fact both of them could helpfully tell a part of the whole story.
Different aspects of education may appropriately be researched from each perspective. There is enough consistency, for example, in the way children develop cognitively, linguistically, and so on for general “laws” to be discovered, but there is also enough variation and individuality for research into specific cases to be important. More so than in the physical sciences, educational research needs to be approached from both ends of the spectrum if the reality under investigation is to be represented comprehensively. The correct paradigm, then, is the one that corresponds to the particular aspect of reality that is being examined.
Sources:
Eisner, E. W. (1981). On the differences between scientific and artistic approaches to qualitative research. Educational Researcher, 10(4), 5-9.
Salomon. G. (1991). Transcending the qualitative-quantitative debate: The analytic and systemic approaches to educational research. Educational Researcher, 20(6), 10-18.
Soltis, J. F. (1984). On the nature of educational research. Educational Researcher, 13(10), 5-10.

Christianity: Comparing the Christian Faith to Other World Religions

Part 4 of a 4 Part Series on World Religions

Comparing World Religions 800 x 800
What are the major beliefs of Christianity? What are the major divisions of the Christian faith and how did they develop? What is an Evangelical Christian and why are those foundational beliefs so important to Christians? How do the major beliefs of Christianity compare to other world religions? And finally, don’t all religions teach essentially the same thing? We’ll consider these and more issues in this final part of the four part series on World Religions.

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Islam and Extremist Islam: An Overview of the Muslim Faith

Part 3 of a 4 Part Series on World Religions

Comparing World Religions 800 x 800
Islam is a faith having up to 1.6 Billion adherents worldwide. It is a religion partially understood, but that has confusing and concerning areas of belief and practice that need clarification in people’s minds. This slide show is heavily documented and provides answers to some important areas on the minds of people outside of Islam.

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Buddhism: An Overview of the Buddhist Worldview

Part 2 of a 4 Part Series on World Religions

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Buddhism is the worldview of hundreds of millions of adherents around the world. It shapes the thinking of much of South Asia and the Far East hemisphere through its two major schools of thought, Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism. Here you will learn more about its colorful history, beliefs, and practices, along with some interaction between it and the Christian faith.

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Accordance Bible Software (White Paper)

Accordance Bible Software on Soapbox.Network

Video Introduction

White Paper

Accordance Bible Software

Description
Accordance is a Bible software program that emphasizes the ability to search the biblical (and extra-biblical) texts. Accordance features an interface that allows users to view multiple translations/texts side by side. Users can also build an “e-library” of Accordance-compatible reference works that can be read directly on Accordance, side by side with biblical texts. Some of these reference works include interactive Bible atlases, timelines, Greek and Hebrew lexicons, and commentaries. One signature feature of Accordance is the Greek and Hebrew “construct.” The construct window allows users to search complex grammatical constructions, using graphs and charts.
Locating or Acquiring this Resource
Accordance can be purchased online at http://www.accordancebible.com. Currently, the most basic Accordance package can be purchased for $59. The basic package includes Accordance 11 along with a starter collection of various reference tools. Moreover, many Christian stores, including on-campus bookstores, also sell Accordance.
Using this Resource in Academic Teaching
There are various ways in which Accordance can be useful for teaching and enhancing effective student learning both in and outside the classroom:

  • Professors who teach intermediate or advanced Greek or Hebrew can illustrate real examples of complex grammatical concepts (e.g., Granville-Sharp) all in one convenient window.
  • Accordance is invaluable for exegesis of the biblical text. The kinds of searches that can be performed on Accordance are limited only to one’s own creativity. It can be as simple as searching the occurrences of a particular Hebrew word or activating a list of every optative verb in the New Testament. The searches can also be refined—narrowed or broadened—through the use of Boolean phrases. For example, one can broaden their search from every optative verb in the New Testament to every optative verb and every imperative.
  • For people who do not mind reading extensively on a computer screen, Accordance allows students and professors to purchase Accordance-compatible reference tools (e.g., commentaries), usually at significantly cheaper prices than their paper counterparts.
  • Accordance provides a convenient means for projecting the biblical text for a classroom lecture or seminar. Not only can professors project the biblical text using Accordance, they can also demonstrate on a projected screen how computerized searches of the biblical text can enhance exegesis and exposition.

Accordance Videos on YouTube
Disclaimer: As software is updated, some information may become obsolete or incorrect. Check the company website for details.

Waiting (for an Academic Position)

Waiting (for an academic position) Bond Chapel university of Chicago

Waiting (for an Academic Position)

by Steve Huerd

Within the pages of Scripture, we find many saints who had to wait upon God to fulfill their life calling.
 
The Wonder of Waiting.  Abraham had to wait for a son, Joseph had to wait to see how his dreams would be fulfilled, Moses required forty years of preparation, Caleb finally conquered Hebron after waiting forty years for an entire unbelieving generation to die in the wilderness, and the list goes on and on.  Waiting is one of God’s primary tools he uses to shape us into the kind of men and women he desires us to be.  God often gives us dreams, aspirations, and desires of what he wants to do through us to bless others.  It is during these years of waiting where God builds Christ’s character in us (Rom. 8:29) through sifting and pruning us (John 15:1-5) that we might truly know him and become even more fruitful.

The world and many who wish us well continually tell us, “You must do this and that” to get to where you want to go.  You need to complete your education, be published, attend the right types of academic communities, intentionally build strategic relationships, and so forth in order to make yourself the best candidate you can be possibly be.  Granted, there must be a balance between the waiting and preparing oneself, and these two need not be separate entities (though often it seems that even with the best of human preparation, there remain long seasons of just waiting upon God)  


Tony Stolzfus, who serves as a professional pastor’s ministry coach claims:
In God’s economy, the power of your ministry is a function of the depth of your processing. In other words, the more deeply Jesus’ character gets worked into you, the more you have to give. The more years God has to sift you and refine you and prune you for greater growth, the more potential you have for world-changing impact.”
 
The Divine Perspective About Our Academic Careers.  The biblical examples mentioned above along with particular verses seem to affirm these truths.  For example, the Psalmist declares, “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman keeps awake in vain” (Psalm 127:1-2)  David also claims “And in thy book, they were all written, the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them.”  Paul states that, “We are his workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works which God has prepared beforehand” (Eph. 2:10).  These and other verses surely affirm that God has prepared a specific place for us to accomplish the good works he has prepared for us.  God sovereignly works on both ends, both for those seeking academic positions and for those seeking to fulfill them, to accomplish his agenda with the person of his choosing.
Often we fret and worry, becoming impatient with God and demanding for him to grant us the position we feel we deserve.  Yet even in waiting, there is danger as Stoltzfus states, “It is so easy to end up resisting the very thing that will take us where we want to go! We are protesting and squirming and trying to get out from under the knife, while God in his mercy is saying, ‘If I let you go now, you will never become what you are capable of becoming.’ If we truly demand release, God will honor our request and let us go forward into a shallow shadow of our call, but He is in no hurry to release us from the wilderness.”
 
Pondering upon these thoughts causes me to rethink my perspective and relax knowing that a loving God is working behind the scenes in ways I can’t see.  It causes me to read again Andrew Murray’s classic book entitled “Waiting Upon God,” while journaling my thoughts and prayers.I find that I have to continually remind myself of this perspective time and time again when I become anxious and insecure.  When I do trust in him, I can take one day at a time, experiencing the peace he promises in Phil. 4:6-7.  I want to yield myself fully to the Master Surgeon, giving him full access to all areas of my life letting him take the time he needs to shape me into the professor that I believe he is calling me to be.