Growing Apologist

Becoming a Defender of Truth

Where Better to Start?

Here I am, on the path of growing apologetic’s– which is nothing like growing pains I hope– and I thought to myself, Self where better to start than the bible.  Or more appropriately, Catholic Answers pointed me in that direction, but that is hardly the point.  The point is that I’ve done a series of posts on the Rosary, Communion of Saints, Advent, and Prayer.  But I have not yet done one on the bible.  It is very prudent that my first series of posts since a long batch of silence would be on the thing that has been giving Christians hope and inspiration and teaching for a very long time.  Just how long? Read the rest of this entry »

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Media Review: CHSS Ministry & eBible

Another Word for Heaven

I must confess—I am a resource junky.  My profession as an engineer has fed this addiction, as there is nothing better to an engineer than a great resource.  In fact, an engineer is only as useful as his (or her ) resources.  Being a believer in the unseen (three cheers for God and electrons!), I search for all the  books, web pages, audio files, PDF’s and blogs out there that accurately explains and describes the truth.   Read the rest of this entry »

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Weekly Media: YouVersion

This is a new type of post that I will begin posting every week. The purpose of these posts are to give my readers an overview of a media that I have found useful in my walk with Christ. The media could be anything from websites, books, podcasts, apps and technology.

Have a media that you love to use? I would be glad to review it and provide a post on it with you and your website attributed to it. Just send me an email through the Feedback! Page.

This Weeks Media: YouVersion

Overview

YouVersion is an online bible community owned by LifeChurch.tv. The homepage of YouVersion is a bible reader on the left side of the screen while the right side is the Organizer (see screen shot below). Through the Organizer, bible verses can be bookmarked, relevant notes written by other users, a section for your own notes, accessibility to reading plans, and an audio bible app. A dropdown box allows the user to select a version of bible, search for particular verses, or browse to a book/verse in the bible. YouVersion can also be installed on other devices that use apps or have access to the web such as smart phones and tablets.


Likes

The interface for the online bible is one of the best that I have found to date. It has the look and feel of a scrolling eBook rather than hyperlinked websites. Around the bible reader, several tools and communities have been built. For example, the user can subscribe to a reading plan for reading the bible in a year, a particular book over a set timeline, or topic based such as verses or books relating to relationships, humility or Christmas. The notes allow the user to read other peoples thoughts on the bible verses or to share their own thoughts. As the user scrolls through the bible in the reader, relevant notes that other users created populate under the organizer. This allows people to build on each other’s knowledge and to share their thoughts. The user can also join a group that share the same religious backgrounds or values in order to create a community that encourages and share knowledge.

The community developed around the bible reader is an exciting idea. It brings a whole new perspective to the social media arena, but does not attempt to compete with the likes of Facebook. Instead, the developers at YouVersion are carving their own niche by creating a community centered on bible sharing.


Dislikes

My biggest complaint is the usability of the site and the availability of help resources. Some of the features do not have logical access. For example, I have created a group for Growing Apologist, but I have yet to figure out how to post any bible bookmarks to it or share notes on the group’s page. I thought to myself, no big deal, I will go to the support page and figure it out. There was no information on groups on the support page. That being said, YouVersion seems to be a newer community, and it takes time to develop usability and help resources.

Note:  I discovered that there is not a specific way to post to the group, but any activity recorded to my username will automatically be posted to any group I am part of.

Check it out!

Over all, the idea behind YouVersion is unique and beneficial. The site is still being developed as it is a newer social media. The downfalls far outweigh the benefits that a follower of Christ can gain from using this site. Join YouVersion to reap these benefits and while you are at it, check out the Growing Apologist group.

What do you think of YouVersion? Let us know in the comments section.

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Magnifacant, St. Mary’s Newsletter (10/13/11)

For those of you unfamiliar with the Catholic mass, we always have three readings from the bible at the beginning of mass: one from the Old Testament, one from the New Testament, and then one from the Gospel.  Every week, I receive a newsletter from my church in my email usually with an article relating to the Gospel.  This one comes at an interesting time for me and my family, as a relative of mine is struggling with paying taxes on their house.  Here is the article for your enjoyment.

*[10/16/2011 Edit] It occurred to me that it is rather difficult for an article on scripture to mean much without knowing what scripture said article is based on.  This is based primarily on the gospel reading from Mathew 22, 15-21, but also the old testament reading Isaiah 45, 1-6 and the new testament reading 1 Thessalonians 1, 1-5.*

Render Unto Caesar
 Dr. Marcellino D’Ambrosio
Despite their flattering words, they were trying to trap him, to force him into a no-win situation.
Consider the circumstances.  They are living under the iron boot of a brutal empire which filled the earth with its idolatry.  Patriotic Jews longed to throw off the yoke of the tyrants.  They prayed for an anointed king who would free them from the Romans as David had freed them from the Philistines. Anyone advocating collaboration with the invaders could not possibly be the hoped-for Messiah.  No, he would appear as a traitor.  But on the other hand, anyone preaching resistance to Rome would be branded an enemy of the Empire and would wind up suspended from a cross.
So the Pharisees decided to put Jesus on the spot in front of the crowd.  They asked him a question bound to get him into trouble one way or the other. “Is it lawful to pay taxes to the Emperor or not?”

First of all, Jesus teaches us how to deal with a bogus theological question.  He unmasks it for what it is, an effort to trip him up rather than an inquiry proceeding from a sincere desire to know the truth.  And then, rather than letting himself be controlled and put on the spot, he takes charge of the conversation and puts the Pharisees on the spot.  He answers a question with a question.  “Whose head is on that coin that you have in your pocket, the coin that you are using to pay for the temporal necessities of life?”  “Caesar’s.”  Next Jesus says something that makes them think, much like he did with the men eager to stone the woman caught in adultery (John 8).  “Then give to Caesar what is Caesar, but give to God what is God’s.”  (Mat 22:15-21)

Jesus wins the battle.  He transforms an attempt to make him look bad into a teaching moment recorded for all time, providing all peoples and ages with some very important food for thought

Government is a fact of life.  Rulers, laws, police, taxes.  What should a worshipper of God make of it?

One thing Jesus points out to the Pharisees is that they participate in this societal infrastructure.  They don’t live on a deserted island but are dependent upon the imperial system for everything from the food in the marketplace to protection from thieves.  One rural community in the US recently celebrated their independence after seceding from the nearby township and its taxes.  A few days later, they were unpleasantly surprised when the town trash trucks failed to show up.

Jesus says we can’t have it both ways–if we benefit from secular society, we need to support the infrastructure of society.  This can take the form of taxes, military service, jury duty, and informed, conscientious voting.

On the other hand, Jesus says that we need to give to God what is God’s.  This is the real punch line of the story.  For God has given us everything.  In fact, it is he who raises up kings and nations and through them provides for us.  The Lord used the Babylonians to punish the stubborn disobedience of the kingdom of Judah.  But when the time of exile was completed, God used the pagan Persian king, Cyrus, to break the stranglehold of Babylon and allow the Chosen People to return home.  The prophet Isaiah even calls this unbeliever the messiah or anointed one! (Is 45:1-6)

But there are also times when political rulers overstep their authority.  Sometimes, they demand to be worshiped, like Caesar did.  Other times they attack human dignity, violating natural law which demands that innocent human life be respected and that liberty be protected.  These are times when Christians have a duty boldly to insist that while Caesar is owed his due, we won’t stand by and silently watch him step on God’s toes.

Dr. Marcellino D’Ambrosio’s Website click here

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