Neoblogs: A New Home

We are currently in the midst of recreating our blogosphere in hopes to bring back the many neobloggers in the fellowship.

  • New additions include now a base site that displays all the most recent posts from current authors.
  • Linked sites for better navigation
  • Updated user functionality for both readers and authors

If you would like to start your own blog or migrate your existing blog back to our new home feel free to contact me at interns@neoxenos.org

Current users may also contact me for support with updating themes and looks for their blog site.

To access you blog site just click you name listed on the site to take you to your blog page, then just click the login link on the side!

UPDATE!!!!

As those of you who have blog sites may have noticed, you should have received an email to set up a new password. This was cause by a transition in our database to make future endeavors much simpler. If you have ANY issues logging in please contact me.

As far as linking social media with your blogs, we will be using Jetpack, you can find this on your dashboard. To do this follow these steps:

1) Log into WordPress and go to your dashboard
2) Towards the top left-hand side click on the “Jetpack” tab
3) It should go to a screen with a giant banner saying to log in with your wordpress.com credentials, along with 6 bubbles of options below it. Click on the giant banner to login and create a new user for yourself (its really easy)
4) After this go back to the previous page and click on the “Sharing” bubble.
5) Once there drag in the social media forms you would like, i.e. twitter or facebook. Make sure you are logged into those accounts. Then simply click the connect button.
6) Before you save at the bottom make sure to change the “Button Style” to “Official Buttons” and then on the “Show Buttons On” section, click the “Posts” tab.
7) Then save and it may take a few minutes to show on your blog, as always if you have any issues, shoot me an email (interns@neoxenos.org)

Camouflaged Darkness & Incontestable Light

Darkness

It’s that time of year again when I put my hunting clothes through a wash of unscented detergent and take to the woods with my pal Corey. It’s a later life sport/hobby that I have picked up, and I really have come to enjoy hunting. The point of camouflage clothing is to be virtually unseen. Deer are hyper-aware of their surroundings and have a great sense of smell. It is imperative to blend in with your surroundings both visually and audibly. Sometimes this is difficult when your hunting buddy smokes cigarettes while hunting, but that’s beside the point.

Hunters aren’t the only ones that use camouflage to hide themselves and what they are trying to do. It dawned on me after my recent business trip to Las Vegas that this is essentially Satan’s modus operandi in America. Camouflage. So much of what he does day to day is not always obvious. It can be very covert. We can also end up being manipulated into believing that nothing sinister is even afoot. We must remember 1 Peter 5:8.

“Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour”

Even in the “City of Sin” Las Vegas, Satan operates under a clever cloak of camouflage. The first time my company sent me there, I was naive and not really in a great place spiritually. I knew the dangers of that place just from what I had heard, and many people warned me of what it offered. Despite that, I went to Vegas completely unaware of what was going on around me. I was enamored by the beautiful skyscrapers, lights, party lifestyle, and cars (I go there for a car show). While I don’t think I dove into a intensely regrettable Vegas experience (Thank God), I most definitely let my spiritual guard down and basically took a spiritual vacation in 2016.

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Vegas is like a machine. It draws people in and churns them out on the other side. The machine operator (Satan) sits there and happily runs the show. I went to Vegas again this year and this insight was much more evident to me. My brother took his first flight out half way through the week to spend the majority of time there with me. It was a blast with him being there! We got a first-person view into Satan’s camouflaged machinery together and we got to discuss it and pray about it!

You get a true sense of the sadness and depravity around you when it comes to people watching. When walking through the casinos we saw 1000’s of slot machines. At many of these slot machines, you will see people that look like the cast of The Walking Dead pressing buttons over and over again hoping to hit big. I didn’t see a single person hit big. I only saw a bunch of sad faces. Then you’ve got the higher stakes gambling like poker and blackjack. Even there you don’t see many people smiling or even seeming to enjoy themselves. Everyone looks serious and stressed. I tried my luck on the blackjack table and found myself having a hard time having good fun to be honest. I’m very pessimistic when it comes to gambling..

On every corner of “the strip” in Vegas, there are people wearing neon colored shirts with the words “orgasm clinic” written on them. These people have the job of handing out Las Vegas’ famous “trading cards”! Just kidding, they are “escort cards” for your next 1 night stand. Sometimes these cards are just thrown into the streets for anyone. As sad/depraved as that is, my brother and I couldn’t resist having some fun with it. Every time they tried to hand my brother and I a card we would both say “Jesus” or “what about Jesus”. I am not kidding when I say this, but some of these people quite literally retracted in horror when we said that. One of the guys said, “I know about Jesnuss. He wrote Genus”. To translate, I think he meant to say, “I know Jesus, he wrote Genesis”.

Light

My brother and I are pretty outdoorsy guys and love to hike. Personally, I’ve never traveled out west to camp or hike. Ryan has gone to Colorado before. Regardless, we decided to take advantage of the opportunity and see some of the awesome sights near Las Vegas. We visited the Hoover Dam and Red Rock Canyon National Park. At the Hoover Dam you are hit with the vastness of Lake Mead and the significant drop of the Dam into the river below. I think I can speak for my brother and I and say that, what was truly beautiful, was the national Park area.

We stopped at one of the trails and hiked up about a 1/2 mile or so to an overlook. It was breath-taking. Miles and miles of red mountains, canyons, and desert plants. On the overlook there was about a 300 foot drop and there were some folks rock climbing on the side of the mountain we stood on. We sat down to just experience the view for a little while.

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Once we became a little thirsty we got some water and went further into the park. We traveled in our little Mazda Miada we had rented along a 13 mile loop that wove in and out of the canyons. Every mile or so would be a pull off for hiking trails. Unfortunately, we were unable to stop much because you can only do so much in one day! The views were yet again, mind blowing. It was about 75 degrees out with a cool breeze. The air was fresh. I really felt peace and joy on that drive with Ryan.

It dawned on me the stark contrast we were observing. While Vegas is truly an impressive sight to see with all of its lights and structures, it literally cannot even contest with God’s creation in nature. It actually made Vegas seem even more pitiful. It’s like God told Satan, “I see what you did there. Your city is pretty cute, but check this out…” That’s how I like to imagine it at least. I think it would do some people well to get out into God’s creation in nature more often. Take a prayer walk on a trail in a park or go somewhere with your friends. Let God impress you.

I was studying for a teaching I did for some youths at a Juvenile Detention Center yesterday and we were going over John 1:4-13. These kids know darkness exists. They even said, “Man, that’s why we here…darkness”. There is so much darkness in this world. We are all surrounded by it, not just kids in juvey. I am so grateful for our savior Jesus Christ. Without our savior we would be consumed by darkness. Christ gives us the opportunity to see the light and experience real LIFE. He IS the Life. He offers that life to the lost people in Vegas, the kids in juvey, and you and me. All Christ asks from you is to receive Him and believe in His name. John 1:4-13

In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.

The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

Thanks for reading,

-Jordan

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A Brief Guide to “Evidence Unseen”

Many of us by now have heard of James Rochford’s website “Evidence Unseen.” If you’re like me, you’ve used the Columbus Xenos Elder’s website (or book) in the past for articles/sections like apologetics, comparing world religions, the Case for Christianity, or Theology questions. These are all great resources that I highly recommend.

However, the point of me writing this short guide is due to a different area of the website. I was stumbling along his website recently and found an entire section I had never seen before. So, let’s get to it. First, click on the tab Bible Difficulties. The home page of this section itself explains in detail 10 principles of Hermeneutics, or how to study and interpret the Bible.

There is also a section in the “Bible Difficulties” tab for both Old Testament and New Testament difficulties. These sections are full of numerous, specific common questions we may ask when reading through God’s Word. Not only that, but each question is a link you can click and find a succinct, Biblical answer to said question! For example, in the NT Difficulties section, under “Romans, 1 & 2 Corinthians, Galatians,” scroll down to Romans 5:12, 14. If you click that link, you will find a detailed answer to the question: “How can God judge all men for Adam’s sin, when it wasn’t their fault?” This is just one of many, but I wanted to highlight how specific the website gets and how useful it can be for all the questions we or others may have.

Moving on, if you go back to the top of the website and hover over the “Bible Difficulties” tab again (top right) you will see two sections titled “Old Testament Survey” and “New Testament Survey.” This is the section that got me really excited. Rochford wrote a guide for using these sections: 

“Before studying each book, read these short articles that give an introduction and background. In each article, the reader will find information regarding authorship, historical background, theological themes, and a teaching rotation. Additionally, the reader will find a series of discovery questions that are helpful for teaching and leading discussion.”

In other words, these sections are essentially free and fairly exhaustive commentaries on every single book of the Bible. At the top of each book’s page, for example, Acts, there is a detailed explanation of the book itself (covering authorship, date, historical background, theological themes, emphases, etc). Then, if you scroll down (get used to scrolling on his website- each page is long), you will find a verse-by-verse commentary for the book. Not only that, but at the end of most chapter’s commentary he either has a section on Application or Discussion Questions. These sections are awesome for just thinking through a passage in depth or for preparing to teach.

There is probably a lot more to Evidence Unseen’s website than I have detailed here, but it would take days upon days to read through just the Old Testament and New Testament Survey sections alone. This website could be so useful for getting into the Word, answering questions, and helping other people do the same. After buying many costly commentaries myself, I am amazed that this resource is so exhaustive, relevant, detailed, and best of all- FREE! Use it!

*Also, feel free to comment on here if you have found other helpful resources on Rochford’s website or elsewhere!

October

This is what I have to say:

If I could leave the world a word
I know it would go unheard.

But if anyone would care to share
This is the message I would bear:

God came down a person, real
to help, to hear, to start to heal.

He came to show all of the hope
that allows us in this darkness to cope.

I’d say to you: this isn’t a choice,
He’s a real being, a real voice.

I’d tell the ones I love to CEASE:
God is offering a great peace!

That you cannot get on your own
So stop living life as just ONE!

He offers forever with him,
Please: go out on a limb.

Ask him to allow you to understand
I assure you, he will stick out his hand.

He will show you that we are broken
and that is hard to hear once spoken.

But not without hope for he has an offer.
Forgiveness it is and he is the author.

So, please, reach out to the greatest Father,
Who wishes us all be sons & daughters.

September

Helper

I have been viewing losses as fail
And effort like breaking out of jail.

I’ve looked and said: “please, help!
I’m searching & there’s no hope I’ve felt.”

Yet, you’re always guiding, turning
Me and answering my yearning

Telling me: “Daughter, it’s going to be okay!”

Since his will is perfect & good
And his love is more than it should.

And even if I lose every single thing
To him, my heart, I will still cling.

At the gates he’ll yell: “what did I say!”

And every single thing will be okay.

That Hideous Strength

Here’s a little excited update on what I’ve been reading! A fiction book! AHH – it’s been so fun. Here are my passion-filled thoughts:

Those who know me know my love for fantasy – I’d call it extreme fantasy. Like, I would like to be transported into another world without any trouble getting there, smooth ride with no connecting flights. So, naturally, The Lord of the Rings (LOTR) has been an all-time favorite since I can remember. However, during my college years, I started falling in love with C.S. Lewis’ The Space Trilogy. Well, that changed my mind. As beautiful and explosive as LOTR is, it took precedent.

The Space Trilogy set the bar for books from then on. However, I only read Out of the Silent Planet (the first book) and Perelandra (the second book). I tried reading the third in the series, That Hideous Strength, which sounded so captivating, but could not finish. Those who have read it understand that the first chunk is pretty painful for those of us who aren’t scholars! It’s set in a university – with the a bunch of lofty dialog, theories, and college politics to start. You have to wonder – what is Lewis getting at? Dispersed between these (droning and draining) conversations and people, you meet a more interesting character. She is the wife of one of these sociology professors, Mark, and isn’t apart of the college politics. (Although, she is getting her PhD from the college – Bracton if I haven’t mentioned the name yet.) Her name is Jane. She is young and forward for the time, meaning, she is independent and isn’t all about the structure of lady-hood nor marriage. She seems to tip toward feminism and is definitely a logical thinker – she prides herself in this. I believe you are supposed to think at first highly of Mark Studdock – he seems like a smart, legit, but human person. We quickly know of his downfall, though, as he enters an undefined position with an unseemly organization and becomes obsessed with getting to the top of said organization without really caring what the organization is actually about… which isn’t admirable at all.

During the time Mark is checking out this job – and starting it – with this mysterious organization (ironically named N.I.C.E.) his wife discovers that she is mentally ill – or what she thinks is mental illness. She has reoccurring terrible dreams that feel so real. After telling a friend about these dreams, the friend refers her to a sketchy place – not the therapist she thought she was going to meet. This introduces a new side, the other side, in this story. We have the N.I.C.E. and we have the party at St. Anne’s. (I won’t mention their title for it is more fun to figure it out!) Eventually, without spoiling the details, Jane finds herself at St. Anne’s again to discover deeper secrets of the party assembled there all the while Mark slowly becomes deeply acquainted with the secrets underlying the N.I.C.E. or “the Institute”.

This story is a fantasy, yet too real to be so. The other books in this timeline take you to wild worlds I could never begin to imagine. But this one keeps you on earth – both literally and metaphorically. The reason for writing this little piece is this: the things Lewis describes happening in this fantasy war are things that could happen here, today! (Well, not all the time. Much of it is magic and mystery and history all combined, but the ideas behind it are very, very timely.)

Here are some extremely shocking and thought-provoking points Lewis makes in That Hideous Strength: (Mind you, this book was published in 1945…)

  1. In this time period, people are beginning to believe whatever they read if it sounds legitimate. This becomes a tool for the bad guys to use to gain their agenda with the masses to the point where they have so much sway and influence, people listen to what they say without even questioning it… Sounds familiar, eh? The bad side uses this naivety through the media. They write persuasive articles full of untrue facts about certain things that cause riots in the streets – over what? They don’t exactly know! We have some details about what they include, but the enemy is vague in the articles and people are without reason for their rioting… Interesting. Shooting at an enemy that you can’t really put into words…
  2. The prideful view of higher power. Jane finds herself resistant to any ideas of a godly realm. She’s always known that, but even as she becomes face to face with it, she digs her heels in. It isn’t until the Director of the party she becomes affiliated with pushes back on her ideas does she admit WHY this is. The why is this: her pride. He points out that in every area of her life, she is in control and never wrong. He points out how evil this is, with a vision to help make the point. She digs her heals in even further, but it gets her thinking… Is this really who I am? Someone so evil?
  3. The lack of Christians actually sold out to Christ. At one point, an interesting character (too good to name!) appears into the story. The Director of the previous book catches him up on (some) history he has missed. The story is central around Christians – those who are and those who aren’t. Everyone seems to identify those who are by the name, but then if they were raised that way versus actually devoted to it. At one point the interesting character asks the Director, in Elli’s paraphrasing, “Can’t we seek help from the surrounding Christian nations?” And the director replies: “There are none.” The character responds: “None? What about these values, have they spread East? Can’t we find some around the globe?” The Director replies: “You can go as far East to end up back here in the West, and you will find none.” Character: “Are there no dedicated Christians that are not leaders? Just normal people?” “No, the few that are remain in this house.” To that the character replies: “Is this then the end?” The Director agrees: “This Hideous Strength has the earth in its fist to squeeze as it wishes.”
    1. Interestingly accurate, is it not? I believe this is set to be nearing to the end times, or at least a picture of what it will look like. Lewis is saying that it already has begun, that Christians who identify as such aren’t really. They don’t know anything about their faith and are quick to abandon it to what the world says. SO INTERESTING!!

I love tales that hit home themes and ideas that are culturally relevant – as well as themes that deal with spiritual issues and faith. (This is one of the reasons I love LOTR.) This book made me think a lot about how we see these issues here and now.

I’d love to hear from other readers… I’ve been reading threads of analyses from people around the world and throughout time, old and new opinions and it is fascinating. But it’s a wonderful thing to have the best of both worlds – aka: get my fill of fantasy, but also be able to emerge with a greater understanding of reality. That’s why I wrote this little report on what I’ve been reading – to appreciate the just about prophetic analysis Lewis has on humanity and also to show what amazing things we can take out of novels that shed light into humanity.

August

To death!

 

I wonder what it’s like knowing not of death –

Breathing in freely, each being a long, lasting breath.

Not fighting, but staring up, up at the sky!

Enjoying, refreshing, knowing I will never die.

 

Much of my life I’ve thought of death –

I’ve thought about how this could be the last breath.

I’ve looked up and shouted, “take me in, sky!”

Hoping, wishing, waiting, pleading to die.

 

Then, others fear the end as final – death-

They charish every single, little, frail breath.

They shout, “Please! Don’t every take me, sky!”

And wonder why, oh why, do I have to die?

 

Either way, I know – I do not fear death –

Able to be grateful, but not cling to every breath.

We eternal can go fly up, up to the sky!

And know my Father did not create me to die.