"Christians and the Internet" newsletter CATI, Vol. 1, No. 8: February 25, 2000.
Unless otherwise indicated, all material in this newsletter is Copyright (C) 2000 by Barry Traver, All Rights Reserved. For permission to reproduce material from this newsletter, contact Barry Traver at email@example.com. Permission is hereby granted, however, to pass along this issue to others, provided that (1) no changes are made and (2) it is passed along in its entirety. To subscribe, write to firstname.lastname@example.org, including "Subscribe to CATI" in the Subject line and including in the body your real name and the email address to which you wish CATI sent. (To be removed from the emailing list, also write to email@example.com, but include "Remove from CATI List" in the Subject line.) _______________________________________________________________
TABLE OF CONTENTS
1. PERSECUTED CHRISTIANS: INFORMATION ON THE WEB 2. FREE: 20-BOOK LOGOS-BASED BIBLE STUDY LIBRARY CD FROM E4 3. FAMILY-SAFE INTERNET: KEEPING KIDS SAFE WITH SURFMONKEY 4. SOME CHRISTIAN WEB SITES: UPDATES AND ADDITIONS 5. SUBSCRIPTION INFORMATION FOR THIS NEWSLETTER _______________________________________________________________
1. PERSECUTED CHRISTIANS: INFORMATION ON THE WEB
Everyone is familiar with the Jewish Holocaust, which occurred over 55 years ago: the execution of 6 million Jews under Adolph Hitler. That was a great and shameful tragedy on the pages of human history. We can do nothing to change the past, but we can resolve to do our best to prevent the happening again of a Jewish Holocaust.
Not as many people, however, are familiar with the Christian Holocaust, something that not only occurred in the past but also is taking place today: the persecution of Christians around the world. Right now "more than 20 million people in over 60 nations are being denied their basic human rights for one reason only: they are Christians."
That fact comes from the Rev. Johan Candelin, Director of the Religious Liberty Commission, World Evangelical Fellowship, in a discussion of "The Persecution of Christians Today":
Few people realize that more Christians were martyred for their Christian faith in the 20th century than were killed in the preceding nineteen centuries combined (and the 21st century does not seem to show any signs of significant improvement).
By the way, if you are not familiar with the World Evangelical Fellowship, it is more or less an international version of the National Association of Evangelicals in the U.S. (and in fact uses essentially the same statement of faith). To give you an idea of the organizations involved, here are a few of the WEF Associate Members:
Campus Crusade for Christ International Christian and Missionary Alliance International Bible Society Jews for Jesus Luis Palau Evangelistic Association The Navigators Nurses Christian Fellowship International Open Doors with Brother Andrew Presbyterian Church in America: Mission to the World Ravi Zacharias International Ministries The Salvation Army Scripture Union International Council United States Center for World Mission Youth for Christ International
For those who are interested in learning more about how and where the Church is being persecuted today, the WEF site has some helpful information, including "News Items Concerning the Persecuted Church":
Later I'll mention a number of other helpful sites in this area.
First, some observations.... Christians of the New Testament had an awareness of -- and concern for -- the suffering of other Christians who may have been geographically removed from them. Galatians 6:10 exhorts us all, "Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers" (NIV), and the various churches of the New Testament did not restrict the family of God to the local congregation (see Revelation 5:9). Thus many congregations outside Jerusalem (Berea, Thessalonica, Philippi, and Corinth) were involved with providing practical help to the suffering Christians in Jerusalem (see Romans 15:25-28; 1 Corinthians 16:1-4; 2 Corinthians 8:1-7).
Hebrews 13:3 commands, "Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering" (NIV). As it was then, so is it now. There are Christians who are mistreated (discriminated against in education or employment, perhaps beaten, perhaps imprisoned, perhaps executed or murdered) today, and we are called to respond to our brothers and sisters in Christ who are hungry, thirsty, strangers, naked, sick, or in prison (see Matthew 25:31-40, a passage which does not teach that we can earn our way into heaven by helping fellow believers, but does teach that if our faith is genuine it will result in our showing practical concern to others in God's family -- see James 2:14-17).
Since we (unlike the early Church) have available to us the resources of the Internet, there is little or no excuse for us to be ignorant of how Christians are being persecuted today in various countries around the world.
What can we do? The site for the International Day of Prayer (IDOP) for the Persecuted Church is helpful here, in helping us see what we should know and what we can do:
(IDOP began in 1996 through the efforts of WEF.)
One thing we can do is pray for the persecuted Church around the world. Actually, the IDOP site is not concerned with encouraging prayer just one day a year, but each day, for it includes daily prayer suggestions:
Here, for example, is the "Situation" (background) and the suggested "Prayer Point" for this past Sunday, February 20, 2000:
"Situation: A church in Makola, Sri Lanka was attacked on January 15. Not only was the church demolished, but all the Bibles were burned. The lives of the pastor and his family have been threatened. At a police inquiry on January 21, Buddhist monks represented the attackers and stressed that they would not allow a church service to be conducted in the village. The police tried to get assurance from the pastor that the church would not be rebuilt in order to preserve peace."
"Prayer Point: Praise God that no one was seriously injured in this attack. Pray for the safety of this pastor and his family and the encouragement of the congregation. Pray that the church would be able to forgive their attackers and 'love their enemies.' Pray for the attackers."
Persecuted Christians exist today in Afghanistan, Algeria, Bhutan, Brunei, Burma, China, Colombia, Cuba, Djibouti, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Laos, Libya, Maldives, Mauritania, Morocco, Nigeria, North Korea, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Yemen, and elsewhere.
Below you'll find some Web sites and some suggested reading that you may find helpful:
Some Suggested Web Sites:
The Bible League (formerly World Home Bible League) http://www.gospelcom.net/bibleleague/ Get Involved: Persecuted Church Awareness Kit (two free programs for churches) http://www.gospelcom.net/bibleleague/partner/persecuted.htm
Christian Freedom International http://www.christianfreedom.org/ Front Line News Page http://www.christianfreedom.org/FrontlineNews.html
A Cry in the Lion's Den 1999 http://www.tidalweb.com/lions_den/ Overview of Christian Persecution from Focus on the Family (Dr. James Dobson) http://www.tidalweb.com/lions_den/focus.shtml
International Christian Concern (ICC) http://www.persecution.org/
The International Day of Prayer (IDOP) for the Persecuted Church http://www.persecutedchurch.org/home.cfm IDOP Site Map (Next IDOP: November 12, 2000) http://www.persecutedchurch.org/site.htm What You Should Know http://www.persecutedchurch.org/know.htm The Situation (with links to photo gallery and different countries) http://www.persecutedchurch.org/situation/situa.htm Latest News (links to news from Newssource and Compass Direct) http://www.persecutedchurch.org/news/news1.htm FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) http://www.persecutedchurch.org/faq.htm Theology of Persecution (links to Ravi Zacharias and others) http://www.persecutedchurch.org/theology/theology.htm Resources to Order (including "Four Faces" video for $15) http://www.persecutedchurch.org/resource.htm International Day of Prayer Monthly Email Newsletter http://www.persecutedchurch.org/fax/fax.cfm What You Can Do http://www.persecutedchurch.org/do.htm Pray (Daily Prayer Calendar) http://www.persecutedchurch.org/pray/pray1.cfm Contact Advocacy Groups http://www.persecutedchurch.org/groups/groups.htm Support in Other Ways http://www.persecutedchurch.org/support.htm Write Letters of Encouragement or Protest http://www.persecutedchurch.org/write/write.htm
Open Doors with Brother Andrew http://www.opendoorsusa.org/ Worldwatch News and Highlights http://www.opendoorsusa.org/news.asp
The Voice of the Martyrs (Richard Wurmbrand) http://www.persecution.com/home.asp Global Prayer Map (click on country name and then on "Additional Information") http://www.persecution.com/country/default.asp
World Evangelical Fellowship http://www.worldevangelical.org/noframes/2home.htm News Items Concerning the Persecuted Church http://www.worldevangelical.org/noframes/2persec.htm The Persecution of Christians Today http://www.worldevangelical.org/noframes/2persecanalysis.htm
Some Suggested Books:
Hefley, James. By Their Blood: Christian Martyrs of the Twentieth Century. Baker Book House, 1994. http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0801043956/travertabletalk
Marshall, Paul. Their Blood Cries Out: The Growing Worldwide Persecution of Christians. Word Books, 1997. http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0849940206/travertabletalk
Schlossberg, Herbert. Called to Suffer, Called to Triumph: True Stories by Persecutions. Foreword by Brother Andrew. Multnomah Press, 1990. (Unfortunately out of print.)
Schlossberg, Herbert. A Fragrance of Oppression: The Church and Its Persecutors. Crossway Books, 1991. http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0891076263/travertabletalk
Shea, Nina. In the Lion's Den: Persecuted Christians and What the Western Church Can Do About It. Broadman and Holman, 1997. http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0805463577/travertabletalk _______________________________________________________________
2. FREE: 20-BOOK LOGOS-BASED BIBLE STUDY LIBRARY CD FROM E4
I am indebted to CATI subscriber Andy Day for suggesting this item for the current issue. Before I tell you the exciting details, let me tell you at the beginning that there are some "conditions for ordering the free CD" from the E4 Group at http://www.e4.net/ :
"There is no technical support. Only one CD per family. You can only order for yourself (friends and secretaries cannot order for you). You cover the $7.95 shipping (obviously our family cannot afford to cover the shipping for thousands of CDs). Agree to tell three other Christians about the free CD by email, flyer or verbally."
Yes, the "E4 Group" ("E4" stands for "Ephesians Four," with a special reference to Eph. 4:11-14) is a "family" (Bob and Lisa Brown) in addition to being a "501(c)3 nonprofit organization." Bob interrupted his seminary studies for the sake of this commendable project to get good Christian literature into the homes of Christians today.
I was unable to find a list of the people who are on the Board of Directors and Staff of the Ephesians Four Group, but here are some comments from Christian leaders who have endorsed the project:
"This free CD will provide a solid foundation in the great truths of the Christian faith. I highly recommend it!" --Jerry Bridges, author of The Pursuit of Holiness
"This free CD will be enormously helpful to pastors and lay leaders everywhere. I commend it with great enthusiasm!" --J.I. Packer, author of Knowing God
"These books have shaped the thinking and preaching of ministers and millions of lay-people." --D. James Kennedy, pastor and author of Evangelism Explosion
"A true classic not only stands the test of time, but also serves two vital purposes. It instructs and it inspires. A classic points us outward to our evocative God and we respond in awe and worship. This free CD puts such classics at your fingertips and then into your heart." --R.C. Sproul, author of The Holiness of God
"A great wealth of resources...in an easy-to-use format. I eagerly commend it to all students of Scripture." --John MacArthur, pastor and speaker on Grace to You radio program
Here's a list of the twenty free books included on the CD, many of which are published by Banner of Truth:
The King James Version Bible (NIV, NASB, NKJV, Greek, Hebrew, and Latin texts are also on the CD, but they are not free; they can be unlocked by Logos Research Systems for an appropriate fee if desired) The Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms
a Brakel, Wilhelmus. The Christian's Reasonable Service (vols. 1 and 2) Baxter, Richard. The Reformed Pastor Dabney, R.L. Systematic Theology Edwards, Jonathan. Jonathan Edwards on Revival Guthrie, William. Your Salvation Haldane, Robert. Commentary on Romans Hodge, A.A. The (Westminster) Confession of Faith Hodge, A.A. Outlines of Theology Hodge, Charles. Commentary on Ephesians Hodge. Charles. Sermon Outlines M'Cheyne, R.M. Memoirs and Remains of R.M. M'Cheyne Owen, John. The Glory of the Trinity Ryle. J.C. Holiness Smeaton, George. Paul's Doctrine of the Atonement Spurgeon, C.H. All of Grace Spurgeon, C.H. A Collection of Sermons Vincent, Thomas. A Family Instructional Guide Witherow, Thomas. The Apostolic Church, Which Is It?
The Ephesians Four Group believes that "...these are some of the most Christ-centered, solid Bible study tools available from the last 400 years." They further state, "We wanted to make this free Library the highest quality possible, so we took the greatest care in choosing which books to publish. Each book is a proven masterpiece, hand-selected for its impact in the hearts and lives of Christians in the past."
The books are essentially Christian classics in the Reformed or Presbyterian tradition. (Yes, J.C. Ryle was an "Evangelical Bishop" in the Church of England, but his theology was really basically Reformed in perspective, and the same could be said of a Baptist author like C.H. Spurgeon or a Congregationalist author like John Owen.)
The CD also includes "a 10,000-subject topic index that allows you to access the 20 Christ-centered free books as if they were one large topical encyclopedia, giving you instant quotes and teaching by subject or verse using the Logos 2.1 Bible software system."
What is this Logos Bible software system? It "is an electronic standard by which print publishers share a common display, search and retrieval engine for electronic editions of their books or periodicals.... Searching for a topic, word, or phrase may extend the search to a single book, a group of books or even the entire electronic library at the same time." The Logos software is included free on the CD for those who do not already have it.
Here's the home page for the Ephesians Four Group Web site:
The easiest way to go through the site is to start on that page and then click on "Next" after you read each page. You'll also find additional information about the Logos software on the following pages:
Endorsements of the Bible Software included with E4's Free CD http://www.e4.net/Logos_Endorsements.htm
More Details about Logos Bible Software http://www.e4.net/Logos_Details.htm
Finally, "Additional Libraries from E4" are described on this page, for those who decide they want to go beyond the library of Christian classics on the basic CD:
Note, however, that these additional libraries (although they are worthwhile) are NOT free: they are instead available for "purchase" for an appropriate "donation" ($39 each, except for vol. 1 of the Edwards Library). (I'm not sure how "purchase" and "donation" fit together -- to me they seem to be somewhat contradictory in meaning -- but the Ephesians Four Group is not the only non-profit organization I've seen to require a gift of a suggested amount!)
My advice is to try out the free CD, and perhaps to add a genuine donation of $5 or $10 to the $7.95 shipping charge to encourage Bob and Lisa Brown in their worthwhile project. For the free CD, the donation is explicitly "optional," so I included a $10 donation when I ordered my CD. (For some reason I'm happier about donating when I'm told that it is really "optional" <grin>.) You're free to donate more or donate less than I did: the decision is yours, and you are in fact not required to donate anything for the basic CD (although you are expected to pay shipping costs).
When I checked the Web site for The Banner of Truth, I found that they had a suggested retail price of $35.99 for R.M. M'Cheyne's Memoirs and Remains (essentially letters and sermons plus Bonar's life of M'Cheyne), and that is just one of the twenty free books included on the free CD from the Ephesians Four Group. So here is indeed a rare opportunity to add great titles (Christian classics) to your library by such authors as Richard Baxter, A.A. and Charles Hodge, John Owen, J.C. Ryle, and Charles Spurgeon. Enjoy! ________________________________________________________________
3. FAMILY-SAFE INTERNET: KEEPING KIDS SAFE WITH SURFMONKEY
In the previous issue of CATI, I mentioned the article "Keeping Kids Safe Online" by Sharon Nash, an article which appeared in the August 1999 issue of PC Magazine:
That article mentions not only the site GetNetWise (which I looked at in last week's CATI), but also the site Surf Monkey:
We'll take a look at Surf Monkey this week.
Here's what Nash had to say:
"If you...want to find a safe jumping off point for your kids to use the Internet, consider SurfMonkey.com. A kids' portal that offers a free filtering product, Surf Monkey promises to block inappropriate content for kids as well as inappropriate communication with strangers online."
Here's how Surf Monkey describes itself:
"The first-of-its kind, a FREE navigational tool that guides and protects kids during their Internet journeys. This protective cyber shield, which resides unobtrusively at the bottom of a browser, incorporates comprehensive safety features for ensured safe cyber travel. In addition, the animated Surf Monkey character is provided as the kids' guide and companion as they freely surf the Internet. The Bar can be turned on or off to allow maximum flexibility for parents."
Note: Unlike Cyber Patrol (mentioned in CATI 1/6), SurfMonkey is FREE. Some parents may prefer the increased flexibility and control of Cyber Patrol, but other parents may find SurfMonkey adequate for their purposes (and -- if it meets your needs -- you certainly can't complain about the price!)
Surf Monkey continues its description as follows:
"For optimum safety, the Bar uses SurfMonkey.com's proprietary in-page filtering for on-the-fly blocking of inappropriate language, both words and phrases, on Web sites, in email and during chat sessions. It also blocks communication with strangers and steers kids away from inappropriate Web pages. In addition, SurfWatch technology is integrated into the Bar to block more than hundreds of thousands of inappropriate Web sites and 5,000 news groups. Because the blocking and filtering technology utilized in the Bar is server based, updates to the approved and blocked lists are made automatically each time a child queries a Web site -- without requiring any intervention from parents or teachers."
In addition to protecting children from inappropriate sites, Surf Monkey directs them to sites considered appropriate:
"The Surf Monkey Bar guides kids to safe, fun and educational Web sites. For a complete online solution, kids can use the Bar to instantly link to the Surf Monkey Kids Channel for access to the best education, entertainment, community, and shopping content. While visiting the Kids Channel, children can take advantage of its features, such as private chat rooms, private message boards, and email - all from their parent-approved CyberFriends list - with the filtering and blocking technology from the Bar enforced."
A couple of comments here.... First, what is "kid-safe" may or may not be defined by SurfMonkey in the same way it may be defined by a Christian parent (see "Family-Safe Internet" item in CATI 1/7 for a discussion of this). Second, note that SurfMonkey Kids Channel provides "access to the best...shopping content." I may be wrong, but my guess is that one way that Surf Monkey can afford to provide this "free" software is that it includes ads that bring in money for the site. (I could be wrong about that, so I present it only as a guess.)
There is a serious limitation, however, related to Surf Monkey. It requires that you use Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.0.1 or higher and that you use Windows 95b or Windows 98. That is, Surf Monkey at the present time does NOT work with other Web browsers (such as Netscape) and does NOT work with Windows 95a or Windows NT or with Macintosh computers.
If you're running Windows 95 and you are not sure whether it is "95a" or "95b," Surf Monkey suggests that you check here "to find out which version of Windows 95 you are using":
Unfortunately, that page (like many others at Microsoft's site) isn't very helpful. Yes, it can help you find your "version" number of Windows 95, but "95a" and "95b" are not mentioned on the entire page <sigh>.
The software comes in three editions: Surf Monkey Bar only (380 Kb), Surf Monkey Bar and Character (1.8 Mb), and Surf Monkey browser (a whopping 13 Mb!):
The software requires that you have a Pentium (100 or 133 MHz) system or better, so that is another limitation to consider.
Even if you don't use the software, however, you may find the Surf Monkey Kids Channel "portal" (that is, doorway) to other sites to be useful. Here's where to find some "Cool Sites":
These are all sites which Surf Monkey considers to be safe for kids, and indeed some great sites for kids are included here (check it out!). A word of caution, however: parents must ultimately decide for themselves on the appropriateness of a particular site, especially if it involves coverage of certain controversial topics (such as creation vs. evolution or some contemporary social issues such as abortion or the gay/lesbian lifestyle).
Example: If you choose "Brainy," "Religion," and then "Christianity," you'll be given a list of sites including Mormon (LDS) and Jehovah's Witness sites! Evangelical Protestants would deny that such represent Christianity.
Having given that warning, let me say that such problem sites are in the minority and parents should still find many of Surf Monkey's "cool sites" to be excellent places for kids to visit while online.
Surf Monkey Kids Channel is one of the more important sites for kids on the Web. This site, in fact, was chosen by the February 4, 2000 issue of PC Magazine to be one of "the Top 100 Web sites." Here's where you can find the entire list:
"The Top 100 Web Sites," PC Magazine, February 4, 2000 http://www.zdnet.com/pcmag/special/web100/
And here's where you'll find PC Magazine's one-paragraph descriptions of their top five Web sites in the area of "Family / Education":
Family / Education http://www.zdnet.com/pcmag/stories/reviews/0,6755,2395151,00.html
(Note that Ask Jeeves for Kids is another family site that is recommended by PC Magazine. See my comments about Ask Jeeves for Kids at the end of my "Family-Safe Internet" item in CATI 1/7.)
Bottom Line: The Surf Monkey Kids Channel Web site can be a very useful resource for parents if used with an appropriate measure of common sense and discretion. In addition, if you are running Windows 98 (or a later version of Windows 95) you may want to give the free Surf Monkey software a try. (If it doesn't meet your needs, there are many other options open to parents, and we hope to continue to provide information on them in future issues of CATI.) ________________________________________________________________
4. SOME CHRISTIAN WEB SITES: UPDATES AND ADDITIONS
Last week's issue of CATI included a list of "Some Christian Web Sites" in which you may be interested. The Web is always changing, so there have been a few changes in that list.
These two addresses at the Mount Zion site did not seem to be working for a couple of days, but I'm happy to report that whatever problems existed have apparently been fixed:
AGAIN AVAILABLE: C.H. Spurgeon: An Audio Archive http://www.mountzion.org/spurgeon.html
AGAIN AVAILABLE: Pilgrim's Page: A John Bunyan Archive http://www.mountzion.org/bunyan.html
The address for the C.S. Lewis and the Inklings site was not working, but I was able to contact Dr. Bruce Edwards (who is now in Africa on a Fulbright scholarship) and he gave me a new working address:
NEW WEB ADDRESS: C.S. Lewis and the Inklings http://personal.bgsu.edu/~edwards/lewis.html
Here is another excellent C.S. Lewis site:
ADDITION: C.S. Lewis: 20th Century Christian Knight http://ic.net/~erasmus/RAZ26.HTM
And here are a few more Christian Web sites that may be of possible interest:
ADDITION: E4 Group (discussed elsewhere in this issue) http://www.e4.net/
ADDITION: Richard Baxter Homepage http://members.aol.com/augusteen/Baxter.html
ADDITION: The Shelter: A Francis A. Schaeffer Site http://www.rationalpi.com/theshelter/
Finally, there is a better address (sometimes called "URL" for "Universal Resource Locator," which is just a fancier way of saying "Web address") for this site:
BETTER URL: A Guide to Christian Literature on the Internet (Pointing the Way) http://www.iclnet.org/pub/resources/christian-books.html
BETTER URL: Pointing the Way: A Guide to Christian Literature on the Internet http://www.iclnet.org/pub/resources/christian-books.html
The address I gave in the previous issue works, but it takes you to a particular section of the Web page. THE URL was the same, except that it added "#books" to the end. If you see a "#" symbol near the end of a Web address, it is what is called a "bookmark" to a particular section on the Web page. Without the bookmark, you are taken to the top of the page, which is what I really had intended for this site. ________________________________________________________________
5. SUBSCRIPTION INFORMATION FOR THIS NEWSLETTER
This is the eighth issue of a free newsletter devoted to "Christians And The Internet" ("CATI," pronounced "Katy," but spelled with a "C" and an "I" for "Christians" and the "Internet"). If you are not yet a subscriber and would like to become one, send an appropriate note to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Past issues: you'll find archives of past issues of CATI available online at http://traver.org/cati/ . ("It's not a pretty site," but hopefully it may be a useful one.) ________________________________________________________________
Unless otherwise indicated, all material in this newsletter is Copyright (C) 2000 by Barry Traver, All Rights Reserved. For permission to reproduce material from this newsletter, contact Barry Traver at email@example.com. Permission is hereby granted, however, to pass along this issue to others, provided that (1) no changes are made and (2) it is passed along in its entirety. To subscribe, write to firstname.lastname@example.org, including "Subscribe to CATI" in the Subject line and including in the body your real name and the email address to which you wish CATI sent. (To be removed from the emailing list, also write to email@example.com, but include "Remove from CATI List" in the Subject line.)