Posted in discernment, Uncategorized

Tips and resources on using Social Media

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Photo Pixabay ,CC

Do you feel trapped by social media? Does it make you sad, or anxious? Do you waste time? Many people say yes to all of the above.

I like social media. I have an account at Pinterest, Twitter, 2 Facebook pages- (a theological page and a personal page), two blogs (one theological and one personal) and an Instagram. My personal blog is 11 years old, my theological blog is 9 years old. I have 4,325 essays at my theological blog.

I am also on GroupMe, a mass group text messaging service. LOL I obtained my very first cell phone last month, solely for the purposes of calling AAA when my car breaks down (and is always does) and to receive church messages. I have photo accounts at Flickr and Unsplash. My account at Flickr is 11 years old and I have 1,936 pictures there. Unsplash is newer. I joined when it began, three years ago.

So you can see that I enjoy social media, to say the least. But then again, I have a lot of time, being unmarried without children. I like to stay-at-home and use the internet for witnessing in discrete and selective quantities. (I also attend church, go to small groups, disciple, and witness in real life, to be clear.) I also use it for my entertainment, having no television.

I’m old enough to remember when the internet didn’t exist, and it was hard to get your message out. I mean in that era when I was unsaved, my message was my secular writing. It was hard to break the gates of publishing in the 80s and 90s. So when self-publishing on blogs and such came along in the 2000s, I was thrilled. No gatekeepers except my conscience.

Being unsaved for most of my early adult life, until age 43, I didn’t have a Jesus message to share. But now that there are so many venues to share about Him and learn about Him from others’ social media pages, I enjoy using it all for that purpose. I like being able to get the message itself out more widely. Therefore, I have a goal, to use social media as a platform to share the beauty and truth of Jesus Christ. I use it to encourage, exhort, teach, and edify. I use it to learn from others.

Even then, I still have to limit my use of it. Temptations abound! I think long and hard about who I am going to ‘Follow’ or ‘Friend’. I do not want excessively negative things passing before my eyes. I liked when FB implemented an option to mute friends, that is, not to unfollow them but to not see their posts. I don’t like to see continual political posts. I won’t look at abortion photos. I won’t follow someone rambunctious or rebellious. Constant ‘woe is me’ pity parties get a mute.

As for my ministries, I also work to get the me-centeredness out of my fingers typing, and stick with my goal and plans: focus on saying something scriptural, something positive about Jesus, and something encouraging to my friends and church members every day. If I don’t, what is the point of all these social media accounts?

Still with all that social media can be very depressing. Often, it displays the worst of man, unsaved and saved. Here are four essays that I hope will help bring perspective and encouragement regarding social media.

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Social media requires a different kind of brain work than does sitting for long periods with a book. Personally I think the two kinds of reading are at odds. I strive to maintain the ‘book reading’ skills I’d taken for granted most of my life. I do feel a negative impact in this area from social media use. So does Michael Harris:

I have forgotten how to read

For a long time Michael Harris convinced himself that a childhood spent immersed in old-fashioned books would insulate him from our new media climate – that he could keep on reading in the old way because his mind was formed in pre-internet days. He was wrong

Some people take long breaks from social media, or take the drastic step of abandoning it altogether. Here, Aaron Armstrong has some tips for using (or not using):

You don’t need social media (even if your brain tells you otherwise)

This weekend, my wife and I spent a great deal of time talking about social media—specifically how she responds to it. For a few years she was on Facebook, up until a particularly negative incident led her to abandon it.

In the old Bulletin Bard days (with 300 baud, remember that? lol) something called “flame wars” would erupt. That’s just internet lingo for people fighting online. Arguments are easier online because we forget there are actual people on the other side of the screen. Somewhere. Flame wars ignite on Twitter, Facebook…anywhere there are people. Here, Michael Coughlin reminds us at Things Above Us that

You Don’t Have To Enter Every Argument You’re Invited To

Everyone you meet is made in the image of God. Thus, each person you encounter has a level of dignity because of his or her Creator, and you are responsible to treat folks with respect as a consequence of this fact.

I was a journalist for almost 6 years. I hunted stories, dug up stores, investigated, published. Of course, a reporter is driven to get the story first. That drive still ignites me when a major even happens, but as a Christian, even a Christian ex-reporter/now-blogger needs to hold back and ‘consider these things’ first. And pray. When everyone is jumping on the bandwagon is takes maturity, patience, and wisdom to know when to speak and when not to speak. Not everyone needs to know my opinion. But then again, if we have some insight that might help a local body, then by all means publish. The wisdom is to know which to do when. Chris Martin has a few ideas for us.

3 Ways NOT to Use Social Media Immediately Following a Tragedy

I made a concerted effort to stay off of social media most of this past weekend because I was already a bit exhausted at a lot of the response I was seeing to the tragedy last Wednesday. … I should say before I continue, what follows are my opinions. These suggestions are not stone-cold social media sins. So, take them as you will. Here are three ways NOT to use social media immediately following a tragedy:

Posted in prophecy, Uncategorized

God’s grief over sin

While reading Psalm 14 in yesterday’s Bible Reading Plan, I was reminded of another set of verses. First, here is Psalm 14-

The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”
They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds;
there is none who does good.

2The LORD looks down from heaven on the children of man,
to see if there are any who understand,
who seek after God.

3They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt;
there is none who does good,
not even one.

4Have they no knowledge, all the evildoers
who eat up my people as they eat bread
and do not call upon the LORD?
(Psalm 14: 1-4).

We’re familiar with Paul’s reference to Psalm 14:3, in Romans 3:10. We are also familiar with the famous verse in Psalm 14, ‘the fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” ‘

But the tone of the Psalmist crying out to God because of peoples’ ungodliness, reminded me of the tragic verses in Genesis 6:5-6,

The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6And the LORD regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart.

It’s good to be reminded that as much as we grieve over sin, like the Psalmist, God grieves so much more. When your little one throws a tantrum, or steals his brother’s toy, or hits a kid at school, you’re angry and grieved because we know that behavior is not the best for your child. I wonder what God sees when He looks down upon His children on the earth. According to the Genesis verse, He grieves. We also know He is angry. (Romans 1:18).

Oh, how sweet it will be when all are reconciled in holiness to our Holy God, no more blot or stain to arouse His grief and anger. What a day that will be.

 

Posted in Uncategorized

Surprised by Leviticus

I’ve read most of the Bible. I’ve read through the New Testament all in one swoop, and then I’ve read different Books straight through several times.

I’ve read all of the Old Testament Prophets and loved them. I love Genesis especially. I’ve read Lamentations and Ecclesiastes and loved them too. I’m fascinated by Psalms and Proverbs, even the verses I don’t understand.

I’ve never read Leviticus and Numbers.

Until now.

Going through the Bible in a 90-days Reading Plan does have its upside. I came to Leviticus early on and since this particular plan suggests reading 12 pages a day, I got through Leviticus quickly. I have to say that drinking the Word through a fire hose and moving on while still wet is quite a different experience than sipping it like a hummingbird and then meditating and studying while it digests.

I loved Leviticus. Just as you put anything else off and then finally get to it and it turns out to be not only not bad, but easy and great, and you say “Why did I wait so long to do this?” That was my reaction to Leviticus. Even its repetition was purposeful. I came away with the following reactions:

A renewed appreciation for the blood. Christianity is a bloody religion. All religions are bloody. This one is bloody for a good reason. Christianity  requires sacrifices, blood, and incessant focus on the blood. The reason for this is explained in the short Overview of Leviticus below. Suffice to say, God’s institution of Old Testament ritual and purity laws had great meaning in the original cultural setting. But even today, they have great meaning for us, even though we no longer sacrifice animals. Christianity is ALL about the blood, and in my opinion, in no other book do we gain such an appreciation for this fact.

For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life. (Leviticus 17:11)

Secondly, I gained a renewed appreciation for the holiness of God. His purity, power, and holiness is displayed so magnificently in Leviticus. It is not as dramatic as His power in creating the world in Genesis, or when He parted the Red Sea in Exodus, but it is through His relationship with His people that we see His holiness and purity. It’s always great to learn, remember, and ponder His holiness in whatever form He chooses to reveal it, and for me, Leviticus did that.

Why wait? Perhaps you will have the same reaction to Leviticus as I did. It’s almost like, all scripture is profitable for… Wait, there’s a verse for that.

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, (2 Timothy 3:16).

The Bible Project’s Book of Leviticus Overview. Worth your time either before or after you read.

The Word of God is always wonderful. Always.