Christians Looking For Love: A Christian Mingle Review

Christian couple

Many Christians I know, young and old, are currently looking for a fulfilling relationship. One of my close personal friends just told me a story about finding the love of his life on ChristianMingle.com. They have been together now for almost two years, and they are perfect for each other! He suggested that I do a review encouraging other Christians to utilize this great resource to find the perfect partner. He was so passionate that I just had to take his suggestion!

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Posted by David Morris - July 6, 2013 at 11:04 pm

Categories: Ideas & Reviews, News, Philosophy   Tags:

An Easy Church Fundraiser Idea

shutterstock_111888083As many of you know, among several other duties at my church, I am responsible for helping to raise funds for our youth groups.  This year, as in years prior, the high school youth group is looking to travel to a one of the many divisions of Habitat for Humanity, where they’ll assist in the construction of a home for a family in need.  Although this is a volunteer event and we make every effort to keep costs low, there are still, obviously, some costs associated with such a trip. Housing is typically provided for by a local church… where the kids can “set up camp” in the basement, prepare meals, take showers etc.

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Posted by David Morris - July 4, 2013 at 4:16 pm

Categories: Ideas & Reviews, News   Tags:

Why The Family Foundation Is So Important And How To Preserve It

ccc-cce.ca Family Foundations - Cathedral Interior

The pillars of family have been the catalyst for the rise of Western civilization for hundreds of years. From the Roman Empire, to the United States of America and everything in between, the Christian family unit has been tremendously important in holding civilization together. There are a number of factors that make Christianity crucial for building empires. Morals, accountability, responsibility, and doing good in the name of God are important to building a civilization, but the glue that Christianity provides to the family unit is the most important.

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Posted by David Morris - June 27, 2013 at 8:43 pm

Categories: Community, News   Tags:

Windows For Religious Organizations

windowYou’ve seen them. The old, rustic, stained windows that line the halls of old churches and cathedrals. Pictures of the apostles, and Jesus Christ, stories of the bible and stories of God. These windows were the most popular in mid-evil times. This is what they call stained windows. Some are over a thousand years old. In this article I will go over some of the most popular stained glass windows in the world from door windows to patio doors.
Notre Dame in Paris, France. This is a site that you need to include on your bucket list. Built in the 12th century, Notre Dame’s stained glass windows are some of the most fantastic pieces of mid evil art that you will ever see. These rustic images are so astounding because of their sheer time lasting in the cathedral. For almost a millennia, these windows have wrapped this cathedral in colorful works and images of bible characters and stories. On one end of the cathedral, the most noticeable piece of work is the windows above the organ. Shaped like an organ, these windows have stood the test of time and are bright with beautiful orange and red colors that are in perfect geometrical alignment. Luckily we have modern manufacturing process to make this easier.

Chartres Cathedral. A 13th century painting put up on the walls of the Chartres Cathedral depicts 5 men standing around a table and enjoying a pleasant dinner of bread, meat, whine and a red fruit, likely figs. On the border of this stained glass painting are 4 flowers in each corner of the painting, giving it a nice border, which is then encompassed by a blue ring, and a red ring. It is interesting to note that the man in the middle is wearing a crown, which is likely to mean that he is the king eating with his servants.

In the Poitiers Cathedral sits one of the most renown stained glass paintings in existence. It is a painting of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. It is a tall, rectangular glass that is rounded at the top. At the rounded top sits the father, surrounded in his glory by angels worshipping him. Blow the father is Jesus Christ on the cross. Next to Jesus are the roman soldiers, and next to them sit the woman that were close to Jesus, watching on as he takes his last breaths of life. On either side of the upper part of the cross sits 5 figures, for a total of 10. The majority of the figures are looking up at the father, while some are looking down at Jesus on the cross. Below Jesus is the disciple Peter, who is hanging upside down on a cross. This is in a smaller frame, representing Peter’s own statement of not being compared to his master, which is why he was on the upside down cross in the first place. Next to him are a myriad of people watching on, and at the bottom of the glass in the middle there are two woman holding on object and looking up at Peter.

Learn more about stained glass windows here: Window City

Posted by Spencer Lancaster - November 25, 2013 at 4:05 pm

Categories: News   Tags:

Why Should Christians Recycle

recycleWhen God commands us human beings to have dominion over the earth (Genesis 1:28), he does not mean for us to lord it over all the lesser creatures and living things and use them and exploit them for our own ends. God does not mean for us to be autocratic bosses. We are to be boss the way God himself is boss – kind, generous, compassionate. We are to have dominion the way he has dominion. We are to be extensions of his justice and his mercy, agents of his creative power.

God does not waste. Nothing is too old, too barren, too ruined, too sinful, that God can not make it whole, fruitful, and beautiful. Out of darkness and chaos, he has created the cosmos. God the good shepherd will go out and seek the lost sheep. God makes old, shriveled wombs fertile. God is the Father who never gives up hope that his wayward son will return to him. He makes saints out of prostitutes and corrupt tax men, ignorant people, weak people.

At the heart of it all is our love for God, and our gratitude and appreciation for his gifts. And the thing is… everything is gift. All that we have, all that we enjoy, our money, talents, and resources – they all come from God. And what kind of ingrates would we be if we threw away or wasted any of his gifts? When our kids bestow us with their little tokens of love – we treasure them and keep them always. When God gives us a sandwich to sustain our life, we should not take a bite and throw the rest away. When he gives us air, we shouldn’t pollute it.

So YES, Christians should recycle. We should avoid wasting and throwing away God’s gifts and letting them pile up in dumpsites where they do more damage to the air, to the seas, and to creatures. Sometimes that means reusing those glass bottles and jars instead of throwing them away. Sometimes it means sourcing foam containers from companies like Ken Dart’s Dart Enterprises, which has facilities for collecting and recycling its foam products.

Posted by Spencer Lancaster - November 22, 2013 at 2:43 pm

Categories: Ideas & Reviews   Tags:

Rent a Temporary Office Space

rvOur church recently decided to expand our community facility which was going to put our office building out of commission during the construction project. So we needed to find some sort of replacement working space to use. At first we were going to rent out office space in a completely different location for the duration but instead we decided to look in to renting office trailers so that our staff could remain on the church property and still maintain a working environment. I am happy to say that a delivery of a few office trailers later and a weekend of moving file cabinets and endless boxes of paperwork and the computers, we are back to a working office environment.

At first I was skeptical of moving everyone in to an office trailer especially because the winter months were soon approaching but I was pleasantly surprised at how nice those trailers could be modified to fit your specific needs. The trailers have full amenities. We have fully working heat and air conditioning, plenty of space and the company we rented them from even did some minor construction inside the trailers to customize the space for our needs. We have fully separated office spaces with doors and walls that fit our existing office furniture.

If you are going to be doing any sort of construction work that requires you to find new working space during the interim, you should consider renting an office trailer or two. Find a reputable company that is willing to customize the trailers to your needs. They can put up walls and paneling, partition off office spaces and even put up doors to keep the office spaces separate. These office trailers come fully equipped to handle feeds for electricity, internet, heat and air conditioning. Lots of times these services can be tapped directly from existing services located in the building where the trailers will be situated by.

The prices are beyond reasonable and the office trailers allow you to stay on the grounds where you are used to being normally. This is a huge benefit to employees as well since they won’t have to change their commute. This will also be beneficial to customers who need to visit the office space. Although we weren’t in that position, the company we rented the trailers from, told us that they could even build out a reception area if we needed it. Basically renting office trailers allows you to conduct business as usual without any downtime even if your construction project is a major undertaking.

You don’t pay anything extra for the build out of the construction trailers unless perhaps you have extensive work that needs to be done to prepare the trailers. As I mentioned before, building out specific office spaces, putting up walls and doors etc is all part of the rental agreement so you might be as pleasantly surprised about renting office trailers as we were. The process has been so smooth that we might be expanding our construction project while we have the office trailers under lease.

Posted by Spencer Lancaster - November 16, 2013 at 4:13 pm

Categories: News   Tags:

Expanding the Church with Self Storage

bigstockphoto_Cardboard_Boxes_-_Moving_Homes_926336One of the best decisions the church has made this year was getting a large storage unit nearby with storage Vancouver. Since starting annual missionary trips to Kenya, Africa, we had to store a lof of supplies. When we started accepting donations that we would deliver to the kids of the orphanage we go to in our main missionary trip, we were able to accept so many more items. The kinds of items we accept are mostly clothes of all sizes. Jackets, jeans, and footwear take up the most space. Without using self storage, there would have been no way we would have been able to deliver all of church’s donations and supplies to the Kenya orphanage, Helping Hands.

Additionally, this storage unit is also being used by other departments in our church, such as middle school and high school ministries, decorations, furniture, pianos, lights, equipment, etc. If we didn’t use storage, our only option would have been to expand our building. While a better solution it unfortunately would have cost much more money to build the extra room and we would have had to get permits from the city. Additionally, there wasn’t much room to build anywhere either unless we wanted to remove some of the parking lot. In the end, self storage was the best option. If you think you could use a self storage unit, you should check out their website.

When people make donations during our Sunday services, we use a portion of those funds to help pay for the storage fees. We are very thankful to be able to get enough donations to pay for this storage space and continually go on mission trips to Help Hands in Kenya. Many volunteers come with us to Kenya and help out. It has become one of the biggest ways our church has been able to give back to the world. In the future, we are planning a second missions trip at the other end of the year to go Mexico. Mexico is a bit closer than Africa to our church and there are a lot of orphanages and families in need in many parts of the country. We will be accepting more donations for clothing that will be allocated to our Mexico trip in the future. These goods will also be taken to our storage unti every week.

When it comes time to go to Kenya or Mexico, we load up our goods in large crates that are specially delivered to the orphanage so all the goods are there on the first day we get there, we then attached the crates to trailers and pickup trucks that we use to get to the orphanage. Renting trucks, trailers, and paying for shipping is very expensive, but we are lucky enough to be able to receive enough donations to cover all these expenses. If it wasn’t for the church, these kids wouldn’t be able to get the care we’re giving them or the buildings we build for them. If you have any extra clothing items, please bring it with you next service so you can drop it off with our donations center and we deliver your used clothes to these kids in either Kenya or Mexico.

Posted by Spencer Lancaster - November 13, 2013 at 8:40 pm

Categories: Community   Tags:

Creative Ways of Making Money For Your Congregation

dollars6oney is tough to come by in today’s economic environment, so groups and individuals need to become better prepared and better informed on ways to bring in extra money.

Churches, like any business, need revenue to survive. With this in mind, we have reviewed a number of websites that features ways for individuals to bring in extra income from home. Many of these ideas can also be used by groups and organisations, such as church groups, to create additional cash funds.

Australian home based business website www.homebusinesshub.net.au has some fantastic ideas on how to make extra money and we have featured a handful of such ideas below.

Provide Childcare Services

If you adore children, have enough energy and patience, then this is an opportunity to make money from home. You will probably need to have some training and experience to do it, but you can start by watching neighborhood kids while their parents are still at home. With time, you will be able to perfect it and earn good money out of it.

Another way would be to use a few of your evening time and get to work for parents who are desperate to go out. You might need to be certified for you to offer these services and you can attend training sessions required for certification.

For church groups, many individuals could band together and rotate with one voluntary day per week which would allow the church to take 100% of the revenue without having to pay staff.

Host a Church Art Sale

For artists who are yet to be recognized, selling art from home is an awesome way of making some money. For church groups, that have access to dozens of hundreds of families, surely there would be a handful of crafty individuals that would have artistic skills.

Individuals who know that they are good in drawing art which is appealing to people can make a living out of selling art from home whereby they can have a yard sale through where they can display their art.

Displaying them on weekends happens to be the best days since most individuals are not at work and this gives them time to come and have a look and when they are priced affordably, an individual could end up making good money on one weekend as opposed to the person working in an office setting.

Start An Investment Portfolio

Imagine if each member of your congregation contributed $50 or $100 to a church-run investment portfolio… There are some absolutely brilliant investment strategies out there, ranging from trading gold and silver, Forex, Binary Options (see www.bancdebinary.net.au for more), stock, shares and so much more. The dividends and capital gains can be used to fund church activities!

Grow & Sell Food

A fertile backyard can well be used to generate money right at home. All you need is to buy a variety seeds then grow them organically because many people prefer that way. They could be vegetables, fruits or flowers. With these and more around the neighborhood, many would not need to buy them from the store. In fact, growing the food and having all congregation members purchase from church-aligned home-based gardens could provide a handy income boost. Just think about it, everyone needs to buy fresh fruit and vegetables right? Why not buy from church-run garden markets?

Remember also to grow varieties that are not readily available at the local store. You may ask to deliver to them seasonal fruits or the available garden harvests on a regular basis. A creative way would be to raise pumpkins for Halloween or flowers on special days like on Valentine.

Deal With Collectibles

One can collect certain kinds of products then sell them on eBay, Amazon, Half.com or AbeBooks. They could range from cards, videos, books, or any collectibles that are within your reach. What you will need is an ample space to store them and ensuring that they are in good condition. Also, track all the involved expenses and ensure you sell them at a profit. The church could run a church-led online marketplace with congregation members donating valuables and/or the time to manage the e-commerce store. Makes great sense right?

Hopefully these ideas get the fundraising juices flowing!

Posted by Spencer Lancaster - November 6, 2013 at 4:19 am

Categories: Community, Ideas & Reviews   Tags: , ,

Finding a New Home for Karen

homeWe are very happy to announce that from our donations from our Sunday services have accumulated enough to buy a home for Karen. Karen, as many of our church members know, has been homeless for the past 13 years. She has been coming to our church for the past 4 years and she has been working with us to help out with the many services we offer. In exchange, we gave her a place to sleep at night and free food during any service where food is served. Just over the past year, donations from our members have reached a point where we are able to put a large down payment on an inexpensive home in the local area for Karen. She will be working here full time and she will use that income to help pay for her mortgage payments and daily necessities. Without the help of the church, this never would have been possible and it’s all thanks to you guys out there who donated what they could each and every Sunday. Karen and the church leadership cannot express our gratitude enough.

Buying an inexpensive home is not easy in Vaughan, however. Our plan is to buy a home that needs fixing and send a few contractors and volunteers to help her fix up the major problems with the house. This can include broken fencing, broken doors, broken plumbing, and broken electricity outlets. The first thing we need to do though is research the market. Unfortunately for our situation, Vaughan homes have increased in price by 3% in 2013, which makes it difficult to find a good deal, but we didn’t give up. We looked all over with the help of a church member who is also a real estate agent who graciously volunteered to help us find a home for Karen. She helped us and Karen use a mortgage rate calculator so we knew exactly how much we could afford to spend on this home. We didn’t want her mortgage payments to be too high, because she would have to be paying them in addition to her daily necessities.

After much looking, we couldn’t find anything in the Vaughan area, so we had to look outside a bit to Toronto. We found a few bus routes that lead directly from Toronto to the church so she could always have easy access to get to the church to go to and from work. Although prices still increased, Toronto real estate prices are up by 2% this year, which is 1% less than Vaughan. We hoped to find a better deal in Toronto and… we did! With the help of our agent, we found the perfect home we were looking for at an incredible price. We put in the offer last week and with a little back and forth, the owner accepted our offer.

Karen will be saying a little thank you in front of the church this Sunday and be talking more about the house hunt and how she will continue to be helping out the church moving forward. We are very thankful to have a church as giving as ours.

Posted by Spencer Lancaster - November 2, 2013 at 2:42 pm

Categories: Ideas & Reviews   Tags:

How I Helped a Friend from Church with Drug Abuse and Alcoholism Problems

drugabuseBeing in church is not an ultimate guarantee of a problem free life. It helps, though, somehow. Last year, I came across a shocking truth. One of my closest friends in church was suffering with drug abuse and alcoholism. It came as something new because we couldn’t have guessed that he was already suffering from those problems. Everytime we see him, he seems fine. Little did we know that behind his mask of happiness, was a troubled conscience. When he finally opened up about his problem, I personally decided to help.

It all started with using prescription drugs to cure his allergy. Later on, that substance became not just a medicine, but a regular, recreational intake. He never thought of the negative consequences of his addiction. There even came a point when he began trying out on another substance in order to experience a special kind of satisfaction. The bad thing is, he also succumbed to alcoholism. It was then that we, as his friends, have finally decided to help him out. I have decided to include in this article the things which helped us, hoping that it can be of help to other people too.

Accepting the Fact

Sometimes, denial on both the side of the victim, and the people around him will slow down the recovery process. Therefore, it is very important that we accept the fact that there was a problem. By doing so, we have also accepted the need to take some steps to totally solve, if not, lessen, the problems involved.

Understanding the Facts

In order to battle with the enemy, knowledge is important. The next step we took was to get as much drug abuse facts as possible. For that, we were able to identify was caused his addiction. Then, we began taking necessary steps to prevent him from being exposed in a situation wherein temptations may arise. I even moved in with him for a month to monitor his progress.

Get professional help

After a month, I realized that whatever I was doing, was of little help. He couldn’t fully get rid of it, and is having a hard time withdrawing. Another friend finally suggested getting help from a professional. Eventually, we had to enroll my friend to a rehabilitation center. We chose a facility which was also recommended by his family physician. It turned out to be a good move. Just after two months, he was able to completely break free from alcoholism first. Then, he slowly turned to breaking free from his substance abuse. It was tough. But with the patience of the staff and with the support of family and friends, the process was quite successful. After a whole year, he was able to completely break free from his addictions.

The case of my friend was quite challenging. It could have been easy to help someone with drug abuse, or alcoholism. But to have both in one person was one painstaking ordeal. However, with the New Awakenings made available these days, it was quite easy to do so.

Posted by Spencer Lancaster - October 31, 2013 at 4:01 pm

Categories: News   Tags:

The Great Home Insurance Company My Church Friends Recommended

homeinsuranceIn these times where unforeseen occurrences and unexpected events may happen anytime, security is very important. This goes the same with my home. As a homeowner, I was righteously concerned with the security of my newly built home. After all, I have spent almost all of my savings, plus loans to build it. I wouldn’t allow anything to threaten its security and existence. For this, I turned to my friends in church for recommendation on the best home insurance company.

Why Everyone Needs Home Insurance

The fact is obvious: the best way to look for the best home insurance company is to search the company that can insure everything that you need to insure, and insure them at a price that is affordable for your family. It sounds simple, right?

However, many homeowners like me succumb to the mistake of purchasing a policy from a company without knowing the actual condition of their homes. They often create a list of the possessions, lock valuables, and gather up receipts, gathering them all in safety deposit boxes in different banks, believing that the insurance company will take care of the rest. However, this is often a wrong idea. An insurance company will only handle what you let them handle.

How to Select the Best Home Insurance Company

There are several factors that need to be considered when selecting the best assurance habitation company.

Experience – Insurance companies which have been around for a longer period of time generally have more experience in developing systems and processing claims.

Financial Stability – this type of stability is a means to a large support to pay claims, higher financial rations, and back reinsurance.

Risk Diversification – this involves a core foundation of policies which generally include a good combination of newer and standard policies. At the same time, the company should have an expanded their policy base all over the country.

Customer Service – A good home insurance company also needs to have a good reputation in terms of customer service, and not to mention a reliable record of fair and fast processing of claims. They should also be available in different means: phone, website, email, and if possible, chat.

The Final Recommendation – Who I Chose for Home Insurance

Most of my friends in church recommend www.belairdirect.com, being policy holders of the same company. They have mentioned that all the things I am looking for in an Insurance company, as stated above, are found in this company. For more information about this company, cliquez ici.

Indeed, security is one of the most important things that homeowners like me, need to consider. When it comes to security, it is important to protect the assets – your physical place dwelling. By taking advantage of potential insurance claims, you will have a peace of mind, thinking that you do not have to worry about starting all over again, should unexpected situations arise. As a result, I have availed of the services offered by the insurance company. I did not regret doing so. I feel satisfied with the services I have so far.

Posted by Spencer Lancaster - October 30, 2013 at 4:01 pm

Categories: News   Tags:

Keeping Fit in Mind, Body and Spirit

Keeping Fit in Mind, Body and SpiritKeeping your body healthy is a whole lot simpler than having treatment for an illness or a disease. And yet, people overlook some basic steps until too late. Just thinking about the pace of life as people juggle work, home, business, and squeeze in faith is enough to tire one out. The thing is, if you don’t take the simple measures to ensure your health today, you can easily spend the next few ones working with a health practitioner to regain to get your body to work normally again. It’s still true what they say, good health is wealth.

Campaigns on preventive health care have increased in recent years to encourage people to take charge of their health and go through the necessary procedures to be in better condition. The combination of proper diet, regular exercise and observing good practices such as consulting with medical professionals at the first sign of trouble are components of disease prevention. These activities help ensure that health issues are addressed promptly and allow you to live a better quality of life.

Start by having a complete physical examination done by your family physician. This gives him an opportunity to check the function of the different systems of your body. It includes routine laboratory tests which can indicate if there’s an internal problem that he has to double check. Complement this with a visit to your family dentist. A dental exam is as essential as a medical check-up and is also part of preventive health. It gives your dentist a chance to check the condition of your teeth and give you instructions on how to keep them healthy. The exam can also help indicate the presence of certain medical conditions.

Aside from cleaning your teeth, your dentist can inspect if your gums are inflamed which is a definite be sign of infection. If this is caught in its early stages, it will save you a world of pain. Dental checks are especially important for young children because their teeth are still in the process of developing and require regular monitoring. This is also preventive care for their part because the objective is to let them grow a healthy set of teeth.

The value of having good teeth can last a lifetime which is why a lot of people consider it a reasonable investment. Having cosmetic surgery in Mississauga or anywhere near your place or residence is understandable because it can contribute to better oral function. The procedures can be costly though so if you do not have a regular dentist yet, make sure that you do background checks on the ones that you are considering. It’s easy enough to check them out here on the internet for the company profile before going for a physical check of the facility. You cannot be too cautious when it comes to matters of health because you’ll be the one who’ll enjoy the benefits for a really long time.

Posted by Spencer Lancaster - July 23, 2013 at 8:12 pm

Categories: News   Tags:

Strengthening Family Ties

Strengthening Family TiesRaising strong and grounded children is a major challenge to parents these days. The role of technology and different forms of media in shaping a child’s perspective and values has become stronger and this has caused parenting to become more difficult. Each new invention and trend seems to chip away at the core of strong family ties and parents have to work double time to ensure that their children retain the right values.

Happy individuals usually come from families with strong ties. The bond between family members is not something that happens by accident. It is the result of observing practices, some would call it traditions, that are intended to keep the members of a family close to each other. It involves mostly, spending time with each other, both in good situations and problematic ones. Some of the ways that can help you create this environment for your family include:

• Setting a specific time for recreation. Taking a break from your daily routine is a welcome activity for everyone. And it doesn’t always have to involve going out of town for a trip. Taking in a movie or eating at your favorite restaurant can be memorable experiences just as well. The key here is to be consistent about the schedule which can become more difficult as your children grow up. Take the cue from other families and research on other forms of entertainment that you can take in.

• Eat your meals together. It is so easy to become lost in each other’s schedule for the day and allow an eat-when-you-can scenario to exist. While it is convenient, it will affect the relationships between you and your children and can destroy communication lines.

• Be encouraging of each other. Express your support for your spouse and children openly. This is a great way to start their day. It will boost their confidence and allow them to tackle any concerns for the day. There would be times of course, when someone would require more than just an encouraging word. Make sure that you handle this well by spending extra time with that person. Having strong bonds sharpens your senses to these problems and gives you a way to handle them properly.

• Do different activities together. This includes doing household chores, going to church, attending an event to support a family member or going to the grocery. Give them opportunities to do simple tasks for the family. For instance, you can ask your child to confirm an appointment at http://www.drbautista.ca for your regular dental consults or check online for places that you can visit in the future. Situations like these strengthen their value for family and keep them grounded.

The impact of having strong family bonds is seen in a person’s character and personality. It affects the way that he views life and how he handles himself in any situation. In time,it will become one of his greatest inheritance, one which he can pass on to his own children.

Posted by Spencer Lancaster - July 17, 2013 at 7:29 pm

Categories: News   Tags:

Through The Eye Of A Needle: A Book Review

Peter Brown Through The Eye Of A Needle

“And again I say unto you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God”  -Matthew, 19:24

These fateful words, spoken by Jesus unto his disciples, paints a contrarian picture of Christianity’s view on wealth before the fourth century until today, when churches amass priceless artifacts and huge riches. So how did Christianity’s view on wealth change from the time of Jesus until today? When did this mindset shift occur, and how does the church justify its outlook on wealth that is so drastically different than what Jesus taught? Peter Brown seeks to explain tall of this and more in his book, “Through The Eye Of A Needle: Wealth, The Fall Of Rome, And The Making Of Christianity In The West, 350-550 AD.”

By the time the Roman Empire was beginning to disintegrate, the Christian church was growing enormously in wealth and power. How did money, once viewed by Christians as the root of evil and shunned by Jesus’ followers, become not only an acceptable pursuit, but an encouraged one by the church? This book is a fascinating read: both historical and philosophical at the same time, it will keep your eyes glued to the page as you discover the changes in attitudes at the end of the most powerful empire on earth.

Rome

Curators in ancient Rome. Oil on canvas by Giovanni Paolo Panini.

Many falsely attribute the Church’s rise in power as responsible for the decrease in power of Rome. While there is a sliver of truth to this notion, it’s not the whole story. Peter Brown dissects this period of history with tact and grace, but the real topic of discussion is the Church’s view on wealth. Essentially, the Church began to take an interest in charitable giving. The rich of the empire who identified as Christians were encouraged, and sometimes required, to donate a large portion of their wealth to the poor and church programs designed to fund civic causes and public buildings.

The Bible teaches to help the poor and less fortunate, and this took on a new purpose as the Church took a leading role in the feeding, clothing, and care of the poor and sick. Before, as rich gave directly to the poor, there was a lack of organization and effectiveness in individual transactions. Now, there was a more organized movement to helping the less fortunate on a larger scale. This resulted in a large funnel of wealth into the Church itself as it received donations from the rich which were utilized for building care centers, housing, sick wards, and more churches for outreach and giving.

Peter Brown does an amazing job of keeping the history engaging. “Through The Eye Of A Needle” reads more like a novel than a textbook. He intersperses his historical discoveries with the stories of five Romans who lived at the time. St. Augustine, Ausonius, Symmachus, Ambrose of Milan, and Paulinus of Nola were all notable figures in Rome during that time period. He tells the story of each of them, touching on their thoughts and actions regarding Christianity’s transition into wealth. The stories are woven together neatly, tying each storyline into their views and roles of the church with their views and roles in Rome.

Ultimately, with the Roman Empire crumbling, it was actually the Church who took on many functions of the government at the local scale. Its increasing wealth coincided with the empire’s decreasing wealth, and the Church’s role in civic care would carry on into the Middle Ages. To define how the Church justified amassing wealth and making it acceptable to be a rich Christian, St. Augustine said it best: “Get rid of pride, and riches will do no harm”. As long as the wealth you acquire is used for good, then it is justified in its acquisition. This goes for both churches and individuals.

A riveting read that comes highly recommended by me and my wife. If you like history, Christianity, and drama-filled story recreations, you would do well to purchase this book. Enjoy!

Posted by David Morris - July 11, 2013 at 9:38 pm

Categories: Ideas & Reviews, News   Tags:

The Impact of Religion On Children

Children Community

 

Of the many religions in this world and their many differences, many agree that one thing remains the same–the teachings of religion to youth may expose a child to a world of knowledge, ethics and beliefs. This simple distinction can significantly shape the course of ones life leading to a life of purpose and motivation and ultimately, a successful one.

Many children brought up in this increasingly changing world full of different religions and cultures find it difficult to pinpoint a sense of identity. Through the ideals of religion, its main teaching is a stable constant path full of the central praise of God. In these teachings, children gain insight into a deeper meaning of life and one’s purpose here on earth.

But perhaps more importantly, children are supported by a community and are taught that family is of utmost importance. Positive messages and stories of helping others and spreading blessings are a way to find the best of life’s blessings. Whoever first said “It takes a village to raise a child” was right. The most well-rounded and successful people have a strong family unit, but also a tight-knit community that their families are involved in.

The differences between a child with some religious influence compared to one without is significant. There are many obvious reasons; These kids generally are more independent, confident, respectful, obedient. They believe in, and emulate, the wisdom and teachings of Jesus Christ.

Of the many “non-religious” population of today, exposing children to religion could give them a foundation for their future and any differences they may encounter. Children’s sense of identity will be tied to their sense of community growing up.

 

The Impact Of A Close Traditional Family Unit On Children

Below are some results  of studies from the New Family Structures Study, from Social Science Research. The study was called “How different are the adult children of parents who have same-sex relationships?”

Impact of Biological Families Study

Now, I really don’t want to get into THAT whole discussion, so I’d rather keep it focused on topic of the best environment in which to raise children.

The conclusions that are determined here are clear: kids raised by intact biological families outperform every other type of family. This scientific study shows as clear as day why both religion and a traditional family are so important – this study does not take into account any religion, BUT, we know that Christianity heavily encourages a traditional biological family. Therefore, Christianity is extremely important to building strong and moral children. Of course many of the other major religions encourage such family structure as well.

If we want to build strong communities, I believe that starts with the children. It certainly takes a village to raise a child, but villages are composed of whole families, ideally with strong moral and religious backgrounds. When you start to see the glue of family dissolve, you begin to see real problems within cultures and the signs are clearly starting to show in Europe, Canada, and America. Let’s pull it back together, everybody: start with the kids. As always, thanks for reading!

-David Morris

Posted by David Morris - July 8, 2013 at 11:39 pm

Categories: Community, News, Philosophy   Tags:

How Simply Going For A Walk Can Help Get You Closer To God

Path In Nature

There are times of the day where we just feel disillusioned by it all. We can feel disconnected from what’s important when the bills start piling up, or when work is soaking up too much of your time. Whatever your issues may be, we need some alone time to reflect on our lives, take some deep breaths, and get closer to God for a little while. What better way to do this than a short stroll through a sunlit path in the woods?

Going for walks in nature have been extremely important for me during hard times. The golden hour near sunset is ideal for relaxing and taking in big breaths of fresh air. While I’m on the gravel path through the woods near my house, I like to clear my mind of any nagging thoughts that have been causing me trouble. I like to focus on my breathing and getting into a good walking rhythm. When my mind settles, I’ll say a few words of thanks and prayer as I soak in God’s natural beauty.

I like to make sure I walk for at least thirty minutes. Anything shorter, and I don’t get the full benefits of the therapeutic activity. When I get back home, I try not to engage my mind on the returning problems of reality. I like to do something trivial like start cooking dinner or sorting laundry for a bit before I let myself delve back into the stressful thoughts that filled my day.

Just a couple walks a week is enough to allow me time to reconnect with God and His beauty. The weeks where I don’t have my available exercise time can really get me down. Scientists are even pointing out studies about the benefits of even brief amounts of daily exercise. This is something humans have always known (leave it to the scientists to state the obvious in more confusing terms!) but it’s good to know that they agree with my experience.

There has been much written over the years about the importance of meditation and alone time for a clear head and balanced life. When you are able to get away from the rat race for a while each day, you can absorb the calm energy that exists in nature and use it for your own healthy state of mind. I feel sympathy for those of you who live in cities! Try to go to a park in the afternoon at golden hour for a bit of calm away from the hustle and bustle. If possible, take a few day trips outside of the city limits to walk through some of God’s natural creation. Your mind will thank you for it.

Woody Trail

If you are feeling pulled away from what is really important, try fitting some walks through nature into your weekly schedule. It has helped me tremendously over the years to get closer to God and allow me some prayer time. It always leaves me with a clear head and a fresh perspective. Thanks for reading.

-David Morris

Posted by David Morris - July 8, 2013 at 11:04 am

Categories: News, Philosophy   Tags:

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