Posts Tagged ‘social media’

Did you ever see something that just infuriates you? Yeah, antisocial media has expanded that exponentially. There was one picture in particular of a guy holding a sign that said “If Jesus comes back, kill Him again.” I almost lost it. The audacity from this guy who probably thinks he is among the most tolerant people on the planet… I was losing it. I wanted to drop the hammer. I wanted to tear into this guy and shred him, verbally at least and then I had a weird thought. Jesus would show this guy grace. You know He would. He died for this guy, which probably takes dropping the hammer off the table.

I’d like to tell you, I instantly calmed down at the thought, but that would add lying to my list of sins. I realized I was being like Jonah. You remember him? Swallowed by fish for running away from God. Do you remember why he ran? Yeah he didn’t want preach to the Ninevites, because he knew God would forgive them and show grace, and he didn’t think they deserved grace. Here’s the thing. They didn’t deserve it and the guy in the photo, he doesn’t deserve it either, but here’s the rub… neither do I. See grace is always undeserved, otherwise it wouldn’t be grace. We who have received grace, must show grace regardless of anything else.

Think about it. The future is not bright for people who hate Jesus. We need to let that help us lead with love. We need to pray for the people who hate us and our Lord and by the way, we need to make sure that if they hate us, it’s not because we’re being jerks. 1 Peter 2:12 tells us Christians how we should live. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. This world is tough and there are a lot of things that are just plain not fair. None of that matters. We are still called to love. Instead of wanting to drop the hammer, we need to let the hammer fall from our hands and remember how the hammer fell on the head of a spike over and over again, driving those spikes through the hands and feet of our Lord.

On that day, the hammer was dropped far too many times. Drop the hammer and take up the cross.

I did it again. I let myself get offended. It was my own fault. I commented when I should have left my fool mouth (or in this case fingers) shut. The result was, well hurtful and a mischaracterization, but by now I should know better. Bottom line, I got offended.

Hear this, offense is a choice. This little incident took me off my game for two days in ways I can’t afford. The thing is, I have more important things to do and so do you. I failed to take into consideration what I’ve taught my children, which is “you don’t have to say everything you think.” Hitting delete on one little sentence, which was offered somewhat in humor, would have saved me some real stress and irritation.

Friends, it’s not up to us to “fix” other people’s ideas, politics, etc. We have too much to do. We have a message to get out that is more important than life and death. If we allow ourselves to get distracted in a whole bunch of things (issues, etc.), that make no mistake about it, are designed to distract, we’re to blame. Stay on mission. Make your art. Tell your story. Give God glory and keep moving forward. If you find yourself getting offended, pray and walk away. God’s glory is bigger and more important than our need to be right.

At the end of the day, here’s the choice we’re facing. Getting offended puts us on the defensive. We need to stay on offense. It’s not going to get any easier.

It happens on a fairly regular basis, and I’m not usually what one would consider a hot-head, but I read things and I hear things especially on social media and I just want to explode. Now to be clear, there’s a lot out there to be frustrated about, but that’s not the guy I want to be. There are times where I just think I want to bail on the whole thing, but then I remember all the wonderful stuff that can happen as I keep up with my friends from all over the world. The other issue is I try to deliberately live by a double standard. That is I hold one standard for unbeliever and another for believers. When I see someone who does not profess faith in Christ posting something objectionable, I can usually let it slide. We’re coming at things from a decidedly different world view, I remember when I had a decidedly different world view, and I try to show grace, okay I sometimes fail, but I try.

Believers though, well that’s a different story. We should know better. We have God’s Word and we express faith in God and so often I see people, believers, even church leaders, post things that make me want to say, “What Bible did you read that in, because that page must be missing in mine?” I have to admit I probably have far too little patience for this kind of behavior and sometimes I get a little hot under the collar, sometimes I even want to go a little thermonuclear on them. the thing is thermonuclear is not an option.

The truth is if I blow up, and I confess I have, what do I accomplish? Well first of all, the people I want to blow up on, will just dig in and become more entrenched in what they think. Secondly, all those people who I love who do not yet believe will see one more example of Christians fighting among themselves, something they want no part of. If I am part of something that keeps someone from coming to a faith I believe everyone desperately needs, I am no longer part of the solution. I am part of the problem. God forbid!

I loved the passage I read in my study for my next sermon this morning from R.T. Kendal’s book on The Sermon on the Mount. Kendal writes, “Do you want to know the will of God? Read the Bible! That is the best, most God-honoring way to know His will. It is caring enough about Him to read what He has said.” This is how I desperately want to live my life. I want to honor God by doing what He says in His Word. I believe it is among many other things a guidebook for how to live a God-honoring life. That being the case, it takes the thermonuclear option off the table. Instead I need to do thing like love my neighbor and even my enemies. Jesus tells us people will know we belong to Him by the way we love one another. This means all of us who claim the name of Jesus need to love each other because the world is watching. Is there still room for healthy debate? Yes, though I would argue, we have to be careful where and when and we get one of the best guidelines from Paul in Ephesians 4:15 “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.”

When it comes to disagreements, especially public ones, this much is clear.

“No Nukes.”

So every day when I go on social media (anti-social media of late) I see all these people posting all these passionate memes about causes that just seem to keep these people awake at night. I’m sure I’ve been guilty of this too at times, and the irony that I made this post in the form of a meme is not lost on me, but here’s the thing. Anyone with a computer, or other web enabled device, and it’s even easier to repost someone else’s meme, but what does that accomplish.

I’m increasingly aware of the fact that we live in a generation that lives under the mistaken impression that talking about something is the same as doing something. It’s NOT. Posting something is easy, and maybe it will generate a little awareness, but more than often it just adds to the ugliness, but what if we took our passion and actually did something that would help someone else? Wouldn’t that be better? I think it would.

You might be asking what I am doing? Well the answer is probably not enough (I always feel like I could do more) and yet I am doing some things. I am not going to list them here that would sound like boasting and that’s not what I’m supposed to be about. Suffice it to say I am putting feet to my faith in the ways that present themselves and you should too. Everybody talks about how someone should do something. I’ve been in this world long enough to realize that someone is usually me and you. Maybe we need a few less memes and a little more me… You know, like in “”Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

A little off topic today but this post deals with something that we will all face as we try to express our faith to a world that is often hostile to it. There are times, especially in the world of social media, when we will see something with which we will take issue. Sometimes those things really are an issue and we must take a stand, but then there are those other times…

You see something that you find upsetting, but rather than calming down and using your logic, you unleash the part of your brain that is best kept in check. The result is often catastrophic and it doesn’t need to be. There are a few questions you can ask yourself.

1. Do I have a relationship with this person? (a real one, not just Facebook acquaintances?) Here’s the thing, a person you don’t know, may not care at all what you think about an issue. They’re not invested in you, so there’s a better than even chance, they don’t care about your opinion. Weighing in on their conversation is probably going to do little more than instigate a flame war.
2. Is what the person says in line with their character?
Often, especially in a world of written communication, it’s hard to read a person’s intent. Without the benefit of hearing inflections and seeing body language, we have to assume how they mean what they say. How many times have you heard, “It’s not what you said, it’s the way you said it?” It’s really easy to read into a post more than is actually there.
3. Would I be better served posting something positive rather than entering into this discussion?
The best way to overcome negativity is rarely ever to enter into more negativity, but what if we went to positivity instead?
4. Am I speaking the truth in love?
It’s all about building up and growing into the likeness of Christ. That annoying person with their off the wall point of view is someone Jesus died to save. Will your comment bring them closer to that or further away. It is really tempting to verbally “pound” on people when they come against us, especially in matters of faith. It’s also really easy to see a lot of threats to the church and feel persecuted. The truth though is the biggest threat to the church is not external, it’s internal and it comes when people speak love without truth or truth without love. Love without truth is ignoring the Word of God to say whatever will make us more popular. The problem with this is God has not changed His mind. On the other hand, truth without love drives people from the truth that sets men free.
5. Will God be REALLY glorified by me entering into this discussion?
If the conversation will devolve into meanness and stupidity, the answer to this question is no.
6. Have I prayed for this person?
Your wit and wisdom will not be able to change this person and people are almost never fought into the faith. If you don’t believe me look at the crusades. Jesus changes people, so prayer is the first option.
7. Am I just adding to the noise?

Maybe this isn’t as off topic as I thought. We are all about communication here and that is the very heart of this issue. How will we put forth a message of love and hope that will shine in the midst of the billions of messages we see every day? All these questions are a good way to start. Scripture reminds us Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will. (2 Timothy 2:23-26)

This issue is bigger than we think and the opportunities and consequences are as well.

I have a love/hate relationship with social media. I love the way it allows me to connect with the world and while I know ultimately God empowers this ministry, social media has been a huge tool in its success. Yet nearly every time I go on social media, I read something someone posts that breaks my heart or, frankly, angers me. In these times I truly hate it. You see my dilemma right. I expect stupid, nasty, hurtful things to be said in the regular media. We live in a broken world, and while I am trying my best to love everyone, most of the people I see on TV, hear about on radio or see in print are not people with whom I have a relationship. Social media is different. The people who I am friends with/follow are people with whom I have at least some connection. I care about them and so the things that they post have at times really had an effect on me.

In the past, I felt the need to confront these things at times and at others I’ve just allowed them to depress me and, at times, ruin my day. I’ve had to change that to some degree. Here are a few things I have decided, maybe they will hep you too.

1. Some things I choose to ignore. If someone says something blatantly stupid or filled with hyperbole, well in the words of that Frozen song, sometimes you just have to “let it go, let it GO!”

2. Keep the focus where it belongs. My number one purpose in life is to honor God. So before I engage, I need to ask the question, “Will this honor God?” or am I entering into one of those useless quarrels the Bible warns us about.

3. Am I speaking the truth in love? Cause the Bible says I have to.

4. Is this the hill I want to die on? Sometimes it is worth it to engage and even confront, but you have to be selective. Will this matter in 20 years? Is it worth risking the friendship? Will this discussion alienate someone else? and again, Does it honor God?

5. Who else is going to see this? This really applies to all posts. I know I’m going to sound like a people pleaser here but in the context of my ministry, I do consider whether or not what I post is going to keep me from being invited to speak somewhere. You may think that is shallow or weak, so let me try to explain. It’s one thing to stand on the Word of truth and let the chips fall where they may and I think I have demonstrated I am willing to do that, but it’s another to needless disqualify myself from an opportunity to share the truth that sets people free because I am offended, hurt or irritated. Ask questions like, will this post deprive me of an opportunity to do good, get a job, etc.

6. Lastly, and slightly off topic, social media can be a huge time sucker. We who have goals and are living on mission need to realize that there are only so many hours in a day and limit our engagement accordingly. I have struggled in this area at times and am trying to do better. Maybe the best question of all is, “Is this interaction, the best use of my time or is it time to unplug and get something done?”

Social media is neither good nor bad, it’s a tool. How we use it determines it’s value.

Use it wisely.

thefamonvacaI’m baaack… I tried to make it seamless, but for the last seven days I was away. I spent a week in Fenwick Island, DE with my wife Dawn and my son Chris. It’s a great place to go to get away. close enough to the boardwalks of Ocean City MD, Bethany Beach, Dewey Beach and Rehoboth Beach, DE yet the place we stayed at was a little off the beaten path which made it nice and quiet, tranquil and peaceful when we needed that as well and to be honest, I kind of did.

I made a decision before we left to leave my laptop behind and just focus and live in the moment and I have to tell you the truth, being unplugged was wonderful. We left Saturday morning the 14th and other than thanking my oldest son Brandon for a Father’s Day Greeting on Facebook that I did with my cell, I was offline. I left my cell in my pocket except for once or twice when I got separated from Dawn and Chris and called to find them (Did you know you can use smart phone to call people? Imagine that!) When we went to the beach and the pool, I left it in the condo.

You know what I learned from being unplugged? I was happier and more able to focus. I was able to focus more on God when I prayed. I also didn’t do any work. I relaxed. Other than a few times when I saw places I’d like to speak and paint, I didn’t really allow myself to think about the earthly part of ministry either. I read about 800 pages in a book, played board games with my family, took some really nice prayer walks, had some great devotional times and we just spent time together. Of course, we also did the beach, the boardwalks, a little miniature golf (I won for the first time in my adult life and sunk the putt for the free game!) It was a wonderful week. Oh and here’s the other thing, I got a great new idea that I can’t wait to put into action, and it came in prayer when my mind was open and I was just listening.

Friends, we existed as a species for thousands of years without being connected to an electronic device every waking moment and while I love the way the net allows me to communicate with the world and keep up with my friends and loved ones, there are also times when I think we are over connected. It’s not illegal in most stated to use your hand held cell phone when driving, but does anyone remember that when they first came out, they were called “car phones” and there was a whole industry manufacturing antennas (antennae?) just so we could be available to everyone even when we were behind the wheel. I think we need to unplug at least some of the time.

I have a tendency to be a human doing rather than a human being, yet I kind of think sometimes God wants us to just be… I think our need to be connected all day every day has become a new addiction and if you have a problem with me saying that…

You may need to unplug.