Today I will be covering the topic of usefulness of historical websites. This is an important issue as far too often people get to college, and they do not know what to do when it comes to conducting appropriate research to write papers. Some will go to the wrong websites and get a lot of bad information. Others will simply be doing this:

While today I will be covering only a few websites, I hope to give a few simple guidelines that can help ease this frustration.

To begin with, we will explore a Library of Congress website on the American Revolution, and the influence of religion thereof.. It is located at http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/religion/rel03.html. It is an excellent website with lots of links to various pages dealing with all angles of religion when it came to colonial America. This includes why people of various strands of Protestantism wanted to come to America, what religious life was like in America during the Revolutionary Era, how America came to define what it meant by separation of church and state, etc. It contains many visuals with captions detailing where the pictures came from. This is an example of a website that is very useful for anyone wanting to research the influence of religious beliefs in the American Revolution.

All of the content is verifiable and taken from trustworthy sources, cited beneath the pictures on the page. It is a government website to boot. So, the student reading any article from this website has a clear doorway to more primary sources from a trusted source: The U.S. Government itself! So, the data is going to be very reliable, and for any student researching the above topic, it will be very relevant and useful.

Now we will look at an example of the kind of websites to avoid if the facts are what is desired to be gathered. Politics today is one of the thorniest of thorny issues, and has been for as long as America has been in existence. Suppose today that a student were assigned a research paper on a current issue that has been in existence since the Bush years and continued into the Obama years. Well, googling anything about George W. Bush comes up with a number of hits that will tell you why Bush was a terrible President, not the least of which is found here: http://www.forwardprogressives.com/reminder-republicans-just-bad-things-george-w-bush/. Looking at the URL tells you exactly what kind of website you will find. It is an anti-Bush website, and the content makes clear not only that fact but also what political beliefs it wants you to reach. Naturally, the author wants you to be opposed to Bush and all Republicans for that matter, and in favor of Obama and all Democrats. Gathering facts from trusted webites, whether they support or oppose the Bush administration, would be much more honest research. It allows the student to form his/her own political beliefs without the hammering of a biased party, unlike the above website, which if left alone, would cause a student to necessarily become a liberal based on one website’s details. So, avoiding biased websites as primary sources of information is definitely a must when doing honest and thoughtful research. Websites like this only make for a person to research why he/she is a proponent of his/her political views, and frequently exaggerate the truth in order to support their own arguments (no matter which side of political debates one stands on).

Next we will observe a website dealing with basic facts of the Civil War, located at: http://www.civilwar.org/.

It is put together by a non-profit organization dedicated to saving historic Civil War battlefields. It provides a brief sketch of the Civil War and its history, including battles, length of years, etc. Unfortunately, it is not the best collection of facts. It serves more as a starting point to begin research on the Civil War. It can tell you some of the important battle sites of the Civil War, but it is not a huge source of information that could be useful in a paper due to lack of articles and more advanced material.

When evaluating the websites, it is going to be about, ultimately, who wrote the website and for what reason. The sites must use and be a credible source(s) that is/are as unbiased as possible. It must contain enough information to be really put to use for a paper. Some sites provide this, and others are simply a starting point with minimal information.

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So, I have a passion for church history, including the studying thereof, and since I haven’t the time to go back to college, I thought of channeling that in blogging at least for now.  But I want to say first and foremost that I am not writing this blog as a teacher.  Rather, I am doing it as a fellow-disciple of Christ.  I do not wish to dive into the endless and fruitless theological debates that prevail in modern Christianity.  Rather, I am going to be looking at church history from the standpoint of someone who is trying to learn from it what he can and sharing that with others.  If I am critical, I’m open to correction.  If I don’t know, then I have no problem saying I don’t know.  But I want to explore how God has moved in the history of His Church to bring His people to His end.

More importantly, I felt it necessary to begin with this blog with an introduction to where I am coming from.  Church history can only be understood if you start with the foundation of the Rock, Christ Jesus.

We know that “in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1), and he also created man, through whom He wanted to exercise His rule/dominion over the earth.  But, man stumbled and fell at the temptation of Satan and disobeyed Him, and was sent away from His presence.  But God, in all His mercy, did not give up seeking for what He wanted, which was for His creation to willingly submit to His rule.  So, He continued searching for someone to begin that process.  Eventually, He found Abraham, and promised him “descendants as numerous as the sand on the seashore” (Gen. 22:17), beginning with Isaac, then Jacob, then the nation of Israel.  Unfortunately, Israel as a nation never achieved God’s end, but once again, God didn’t quit, and promised them through the Law and the Prophets a Messiah (Christ) who would come and not only save them from their sins, but would also establish God’s kingdom (rule/dominion) over the earth, beginning with them.

God did this in His Son, Jesus Christ, who came to “destroy death, and the one who has the power of death, the devil” (Heb. 2:14).  He did this by going about all Judea and Galilee healing, raising the dead, cleansing the lepers, making the deaf hear, the blind see, and a host of other miracles to ruin Satan’s works upon God’s people.  He also taught them the Way of Righteousness, to show them the path to life.  But, Satan wasn’t giving up without a fight.  It is written that “the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45), and that God “was reconciling the world to Himself in the death of His Son, not counting their transgressions against them” (2 Cor. 5:19).  God had already made the decision to forgive humanity of the impossible debt that they had to pay because of sin, but Satan, who had rightful dominion, was not going to quit very easily.  Just as he stood against the first Adam and through Eve overcame him, so he was going to stand against the Second.  He demanded that Jesus give Himself over to death as a ransom for fallen humanity’s release.  Jesus agreed to do this, and Satan was given the opportunity to do his worst.  He stirred up the unbelieving Jews and the Roman government to have Jesus betrayed, arrested, tried illegally, lied against by His own people, scourged, and then executed by crucifixion.  Such a horrible way to die!  Satan likely thought for sure he had won, and with Jesus dead the obligation to fulfill his end of the deal would be over, but he was wrong.  Jesus went “for three days and three nights to the heart of the earth” (Matthew 12:40). During that time, He preached His message of the kingdom even to the people there who were dead (1 Peter 4:6).  Then, He rose from the dead victorious, having plundered the strong man’s house (Matthew 12:29), having “the keys of death and Hades, having overcome them” (Rev. 1:18).  Having died and risen, He not only has provided us the way to eternal life, away from the cancer of sin and free from it, but also shown us the way to life.  Having been set free from our sins through His blood, and being given His Holy Spirit through His resurrection, He now has shown us the path of life, and has promised the resurrection of the righteous to eternal life, and the unrighteous to eternal damnation, and it is through Him that God will judge the world.

So, what should we do?  We must believe Him (including what He has done and the message He taught), repent in view of the coming Kingdom, and be baptized in His name for the forgiveness of our sins (Acts 2:38).  God will thereby give us His Holy Spirit, and as we come to know our Lord more intimately, and learn Him and His ways, He will through His life in us recreate us in the image of God and make us fit vessels for eternal life.  Not only that, but He will also grant us every blessing we could possibly imagine in the coming age, and then some, so much more than we can possibly think of, blessing without measure.  But, there’s one catch.  You have to say yes to everything God wants for your life.  Don’t make a commitment to follow Him, and then turn from it later, because it would be better if you never knew Him than to do a thing like that (2 Pet. 2:21).  Jesus has loved you and me enough to redeem us from death and destruction even when we didn’t deserve anything less.  Will you follow Him to life, no matter what that means for you?

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