Categories
America's Future Social Media

RISE UP O MEN (& WOMEN) OF GOD! NOT JUST IN HOUSTON … THIS IS ABOUT THE FUTURE OF AMERICA!

It seems to me, as I pray for the pastors in Houston this week, the verse that comes to mind is Eph. 4 – “speak the truth in love.” Of course, we know that Jesus was ALWAYS the perfect balance of these two. “When you speak, speak the truth … and always speak the truth in love.” But, as followers of Jesus Christ as our Lord … we cannot IGNORE this most recent outbreak of an abominable lifestyle and expect it to just go away. When you study SODOMY in history and more specifically in scripture, you find that these people DO NOT merely wish “to be left alone,” to live in their choices. No indeed, they, by nature become aggressive, militant, self-promoting, & “in your face” determined that you must accept & approve of their sinful habits, which of course, if we are to be true to the Bible and TRUTH … we cannot! They have twisted and perverted TRUTH to justify their sin & want you to tell them … “that’s okay!” You simply CANNOT DO THIS! As the scriptures state in a declaration of FINALITY, “Let God be true and every man a liar.” In other words, TRUTH MUST WIN OUT! And if anyone is going to change, it must be US as human beings … not God, doing the changing.

What have they,  the sodomites – (some call them “Gay,” there is nothing gay about their lifestyle) done with TRUTH? First the truth was SUPPRESSED (Rom.1:18), then it was DENIED (Rom.1:19-22), then they CHANGED it into a lie (Rom.1:25), then all along the way of course they DISOBEYED it (Rom.2:8). Paul gives us our answer as TRUE BELIEVERS how to respond to this: “the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be GENTLE unto all men, apt (ready) to teach, patient (forbearing), in meekness instructing those THAT OPPOSE THEMSELVES; IF God peradventure will give them REPENTANCE to the ACKNOWLEDGING OF THE TRUTH; and that they may RECOVER THEMSELVES out of the snare of the devil, who are TAKEN CAPTIVE by him AT HIS WILL.  (II Tim. 2:24-26)

This entire downward spiral begins with how an individual, then a community, then a country responds to God’s TRUTH! I don’t expect sodomites to understand what I’ve written here (which of course is just the Word of God in plain and simple words), but my great concern is for professing followers of Christ who are believing a lie & rejecting the truth about God’s view of this abominable act. We don’t need another “Panel Discussion” on this sin, we just need a clarion call from the pulpits of our land, and then a response of loving confrontation and sharing of the gospel (good news) of forgiveness & peace being available! REPENTANCE IS REQUIRED in order for this issue to CHANGE … (but somehow, I don’t see God being the one who has to change His mind on sodomy … that is NOT going to happen). God has spoken … mercy, grace & salvation are available to everyone who repents and believes the gospel … but the lifestyle MUST be stopped. You cannot “hold on to your sin” and receive salvation at the same time. As Jesus told the woman taken in adultery (Jn.8:11) … “GO … and SIN NO MORE.”

Blessings,
Tim

Categories
Social Media

“Christianity” on the Internet – Be Careful, Be Selective

I am SO burdened for the “typical” Christian in America these days. I remember in 2007 reading a report that said “by 2012, 72% of Christians would be getting their ‘spiritual nourishment’ on the internet.” (Do I need to remind you that this is 2013 … YIKES?) Dear friend, there are so many things WRONG about that perspective and “modus operandi.” Can I touch on just three of them?

FIRST: it bypasses the LOCAL CHURCH. We love to use the language of “the kingdom” today and operate in the realm of “kingdom living” etc., but friend Jesus established the local church to be a body of REAL people, interacting, DAILY, in each other’s presence (able to look “eye to eye”), centered around the preaching of His Written Word,“And they continued stedfastly in 1) the apostles’ doctrine and 2) fellowship, and 3) in breaking of bread, and 4)in prayers.” Friend, there are certain functions that need to happen TOGETHER. Do NOT give up on the local church! Find one that truly preaches the Bible (accurately … not just men’s opinion) and plug yourself IN! Become a servant, find out how and where you can help, discover and use the gifts God has given you to edify the body of Christ. (Eph.4:12-16)

SECONDLY: it has the potential to take you OUT of the WORD OF GOD. We are SO prone to give more credence to a “living voice” as in the opinions of other living, breathing human beings … but, oh my, what a dangerous road that can lead you down. You can take my opinion, add it to a couple of other opinions of people … put them all together with a dollar and get a cup of coffee! Well, some places (McDonalds) … probably not Starbucks! Sometimes we look too much for the “approval of man,” especially on FB and other Social Media outlets. A girl puts a picture of an outfit,, or new hair color or cut, and waits for people to express their opinion, then she acts on that “vote.” A guy asks opinion of his peers about a certain girl, should he pursue her or about a “music group” should he get that CD or whatever. Dear people, we MUST learn to get into the Word of God, and begin forming CONVICTIONS based on the principles God has already laid down in scripture. That is the ONLY WAY you can build your life on a secure foundation. Search the scriptures! (I Tim. 4:6,12-16)

THIRDLY: it has the potential to remove you from ACCOUNTABILITY to people who see you day in and day out and TRULY know you best. How much more convenient is it to get someone’s opinion, who only communicates with you online, and only gets your side of the story (dangerous) and who then gives you their counsel with only a portion of the information needed to make wise, deliberate, Biblically based decisions. Proverbs tells us, “he that answers a matter before he hears it, it is a FOLLY and a SHAME to him.” (18:13).  We need the protection of people, close by, who love us to tell us when we’ve got “a tear in the back of our coat” (in other words, we don’t see the real picture that others are seeing).

Without a doubt, there is much good that can be accomplished through this tool we call “the internet,” but that which is invented to be a BLESSING, can also be a CURSE, if misused! Living your life “on the internet” really puts you in a “Dream World” mentality and will cause destruction in your real life, day to day, relationships with those directly involved in your life. To borrow a phrase that really seems to fit here … GET A LIFE! Stay plugged in with reality. Invest yourself in those around you who TRULY need your best and your most. Don’t waste your life in “ESCAPISM!” So, now that you read this online … get off here quickly, look around and get involved in PEOPLE! … What are you waiting for? GO!

Blessings,

Tim

Categories
Social Media

10 Commandments for Social Media (Commandment # 4)

        Perhaps as we start to focus on this fourth commandment, we need to be reminded again that in the “Ten Commandments” given us in Exodus 20 and then repeated often in scripture, that the first four center around our view, relationship and worship of God (hence, our OBEDIENCE to Him), and the last six are the out-workings of our relationship with God, as it is demonstrated in our treatment of other human beings. Also to remind ourselves that Jesus Himself, when answering the lawyer who came to question Him, in quoting “the greatest command,” did not state it without tying it together with “the second,” which is “like unto the first … thou shalt love thy neighbor, as thyself.” Jesus completed the lesson saying, “On THESE TWO commandments HANG ALL THE LAW & THE PROPHETS.” Wow, did you catch that statement? On these two hang ALL the rest of scripture! You could sum up the entire purpose of God as revealed in scripture in these commands – loving God with all your heart, soul, mind & strength … and then demonstrating that in everyday life by caring for the needs of others, as you care for your own needs. That is a sermon in itself, isn’t it!

        Reading and obeying this fourth command is hard for us today, especially in America … in our “busy” society, our “rush, rush” lifestyle, our “multi-tasking” activity.  I think this command is VERY HARD … to STOP … and REST … but GOD did! We think we “always have to be doing something!”  Even in that mentality, I personally think a lot of us are just “running.” Running from choices we’ve made, running from consequences of those choices, running from relationships, running from responsibility, running from ourselves, & yes, even attempting to run from God.

        When you think about it, doesn’t that sound absurd? I mean if God is Who He says He is (and He is), can you imagine any created being trying to “run” from God! I’ve often said, ‘to me, one of the funniest passages in all of scripture is Jonah 1:3’ – “But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD.” Really Jonah … you are going to get away from the presence of Almighty God? So, Jonah … how’d that one work out for you? Maybe you should have read Ps. 139:7-12 before taking that adventure. “Where shall I go from Your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from Your presence?”… By the way folks, how many times can you think of where reading & grasping a better understanding of scripture (God’s Word for us) could have saved us a whole bunch of trouble?  

        We have become, at best, “Martha” Christians, when what we really need is to learn to be a “Mary” Christian. You do remember Mary & Martha don’t you, the sisters of Lazurus – the special friend of Jesus, the one He raised from the dead? Oh, to develop a “Mary heart.” Perhaps then we could rephrase with a different meaning a proverb, “A ‘Mary’ heart does good, like a medicine!” Believe it or not … there is a lot of truth in that statement! In all of Martha’s running & cooking & doing good things, thinking surely this will score me some “Brownie points” with Jesus … He instead spoke truth into her life,  “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” Lk. 10:41,42 What was that good portion that would not be taken from Mary? She “sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard His word.” Oh dear people … to REST like that! What would that “do” for you?  Here is our fourth commandment for Social Networking:

  4)               Remember to set aside a day each week specifically for reverence & honor to God. Set apart one day as God did, to rest. (This doesn’t negate the fact that every day is the Lord’s (Rom.14:5,6), it only emphasizes the fact that you are supremely dedicating in a unique way, 1/7th of your time to focus on your Lord & Savior, Jesus Christ.)

 Exo 20:8-11  Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

 

Wow … here are at least SOME of the key thoughts we should ponder:

1)     Remember that special day of each week …

2)     Keep it holy

3)     On the seventh day, you shall NOT do ANY work … instead, rest & reflect

4)     The Lord set the example in place during His week of Creation …

5)     He blessed & hallowed that day & set it apart … we are supposed to as well …

        Okay, let’s break this down a bit, take it out of the realm of theory and bring it into the world of practicality. Let’s put some “working clothes” on our Christianity! I will attempt to be brief, but give us a bit of a “handle” on each one … you can personalize it for you. Expand it, pray over it, ask God to make it real in your life. That’s the only way this Christian life becomes real … through personal obedience to God!

1)     Remember that special day of each week

        I am finding that each of these parts requires a personal discipline on my part. This one is the mental faculty at work. Mark it on your calendar if necessary to remind yourself. Remember, “the part of us that works the best is our forgetters!” Get the help of others (accountability) by sharing with them that on this day each week, you will not be doing any “non-emergency” communications on Facebook or any other social media “toys,” oh sorry, I meant to say “tools!” (Until you try this one, you can’t imagine how hard it is! Remember Paul’s words to us in I Cor.9:26,27 –  So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.)

        This will be hard … to keep your fingers off the keyboard, to not turn that music on, to not pick up the remote control, to not respond to that personal note on Facebook today. Remember, UNLESS it is an absolute emergency! If it is … then answer. Jesus said to “get the ox out of the ditch on the Sabbath,” He also healed on the Sabbath didn’t He? (Maybe, if it’s not an emergency, you could just give them a “heads up” that you’re taking a day of rest from the messages and will be back tomorrow. Trust me … in most cases, it will be okay. The world will not fall apart without our thoughts or feedback on most subjects!)

2)      Keep it holy

        Don’t be afraid of the word. Holy simply means in our context, something that is set apart, clean, dedicated or consecrated to, or sanctified. I look at it this way – “sanctification” means something that is set apart for God’s use alone. This one takes the mental and spiritual discipline of focusing ONLY on the things of God that bring glory to Him and will count for eternity.

        There are two aspects of making this work, much the same as a battery to start and run your car. There is a negative terminal and there is a positive terminal. BOTH must be connected to complete the cycle and accomplish its purpose. So it is with something “set apart” for God. There MUST be a separation from and a separation to in order for this to work. Or if you will, a “putting off” and a “putting on” as scripture reminds us in the New Testament (Eph.4:22-24 & Col.3:9,10).  This one obviously flows naturally into the next aspect, which should help put some “handles” on this for each of us.

3)     On the seventh day, you shall NOT do ANY work … instead, rest & reflect

        So, here’s how this works for me. On this day in particular I must not give myself or my time to those things which I might otherwise enjoy doing or working on. This might mean not turning the television on! Uh oh … did I just lose you? Did you just decide to stop reading this article? Did you just feel your hair rising on the back of your neck & “claws” coming out from under your fingernails? Are you ready now to fight for & defend your television? LOL! No need … I like television as much as the next guy. I’m just saying, if we are going to take this command seriously, it is going to “cost” us something. It may be your video games, your computer games, your crossword puzzles, your music, your YouTube … whatever. Let’s allow God to personalize that one for you … I expect (from what I know personally of the Holy Spirit) He’s already done that.

        Here’s what this means … there has to be the removal of the normal activity of this day, in order to give that time instead over to learning God’s way of thinking about my life choices. So, in the removing of daily habits of “time – use,” now that time is for “rest & reflection.” I now use that time to fill my mind & heart with scripture (not that I don’t do that every day, but now there is more time – quality & quantity, given over to His mind as revealed in  scripture). This is also time given to reflect back on this week’s activities – things I did, things I wrote on Facebook, etc.. Go back & review what you wrote, what you shared from other’s sites, etc.. As you look at them now, in retrospect … do they fit the categories listed by Paul, under the inspiration of God, in Phil.4:8 – “whatsoever things are true, honest, just, pure, lovely & of a good report?”

        Learn from this reflection. Maybe there are some things that need to be deleted (and if deleted, maybe an explanation in their place telling “why” you removed it – this is a way of keeping a clear conscience). Remember, if we are going to be involved in social media, it needs to be done in a way that it reflects well on the name and testimony of our God (refer back to Commandment #3). Use this, not only as a learning time personally but also as a teaching time for others that may follow your posts. This is part of our Christian duty with other believers “teach & admonish one another.” It may also be that this day of reflection & solitude to God will bring out some wonderful lessons to be shared with others in the coming week, even some things to be shared devotionally with your family or Core Group at church. Cultivate a lifestyle of proactive growth patterns in your life. Remove the rocks, dirt clods & weeds … work the soil … fertilize the good seed … water the field!

4)     The Lord set the example in place during His week of Creation

        You do remember don’t you that we have been created in His image and after His own likeness? There are specific ingredients God put in us as His finest creation that are not found in either material things created or in the creature world outside of man. Use this time to worship Him, to wonder at His majesty, to pay Him homage for making you after His own image. After all, He did personally pay the price for my redemption with His own Son and His perfect, pure  & precious blood (I Pet.1:18,19)! Reflect on His goodness in your life, after all “He daily loads us with benefits!” Thank Him! Praise Him! Remember Him! Look back on His blessings! Count your blessings … name them one by one … count your many blessings … see what God has done!

5)     He blessed & hallowed that day & set it apart,we are supposed to as well

        You know, there is a quality that comes into your life when you hallow that day to the Lord. There is a rest & peace … a “settled-ness.” When you think about it … a day of rest is very much like a day of fasting. You are doing without “natural things” to give yourself over to “supernatural” purposes. If you’ve ever taken a fast – whether it be from food, or from a favorite thing you like to do – maybe music, or t.v., or games, or sports of some kind, a personal pleasure … there are at least two things that become obvious.

        One is to discover how much “control” that particular delight had over you. The second is to discover a “gold mine” of other good things God has given to us – perhaps things eternal. Things that bring peace instead of turmoil. Answers instead of more questions (Jms. 1:5-8; 3:17,18). Spiritual “sowing” instead of “fleshly sowing” (Gal. 6:7-10). Health instead of disease (Pro. 17:22). Comfort instead of anxiety. Rest instead of hurry. Joy instead of “happiness.” Depth instead of shallowness. Maturity instead of childishness. Quiet instead of noise.

      Do these “gifts” (peace, answers, health, comfort, rest, joy, depth, maturity, quiet) sound inviting?

Put God to the test!

Go ahead … He’s up to the challenge!

He will bless & hallow your day!

In the words of Tevye in “Fiddler on the Roof” …

Good Sabbath!      Shalom!  

Categories
Social Media

10 Commandments for Social Media (Commandment #3)

 

            I must confess, I am excited to be able to “dive into” this one! Not merely because it is going to address “head on” the issue of language used by professing believers in our land, but because of the positive, pro-active opportunity it provides for us in our hearts to “honor Christ the Lord as Holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,” as Peter exhorts us to do in his first epistle (I Pet.3:15 ESV).  Wow, did you get that message? You & I have the opportunity to magnify the reputation of God in our conversation to others … both saved and lost alike!

            I thank God that He has given men the knowledge to be able to invent such social media tools as we have available to us today. Now granted, you & I both know how damaging and “relationship-breaking” these tools can, and have been used. But I do not believe the instrument “in and of itself” is the problem, but rather the avenue through which ungodly men (and also many “fleshly” believers) have chosen to display the lusts of their own hearts. After all, the corruption in this world came as a result of the lusts (evil desires) of men. (Eph.4:22;   II Pet.1:4; I Jn.2:15-17)

 in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as Holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,”

             So, if God gives men the ability to design tools of communication that make the world a smaller place (and that certainly is the case today), should not we as His ambassadors avail ourselves of those tools to spread the good news of the gospel? We can either ignore a world that is heading “full speed ahead” into eternity without Christ, or we can “step up to the plate,” learn how to use these tools properly and do ALL we can to fulfill the Great Commission of Mt.28:18-20, even on the internet! However, we must remember that “to whom MUCH is given, MUCH WILL BE REQUIRED.” (Lk.12:48) As much of a blessing as the social media CAN be if used correctly, it will equally be a curse if we as Christians exercise no better sense in its use than lost people do. I guarantee you … lost people ARE reading, they ARE watching, they ARE looking for answers … (even if they don’t know it)! So, let’s get to it!

 3)     Do not use God’s name & reputation in a flippant manner to “cover your own backside,” or to excuse a self-centered lifestyle.

Ex. 20:7 You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that takes His name in vain.

                John Gill in his commentary explains this commandment in this way: “You are not to ‘make use of the name Lord, God or any other name of The Divine Being, in a light or trifling way, i.e.- without a show of reverence & affection to Him; … the name of God ought never be mentioned except in a grave and serious manner, and with an awe of the greatness of His majesty upon the mind.” I must “confess” to you that I have a pet peeve … do you have any of those? Well this is mine … okay, one of mine!

            Have you noticed that one of the favorite terms people like to use these days is the word “awesome?” And they will use it for almost anything … a funny story they hear, a new idea someone came up with, a slam dunk on the basketball court, a new outfit some girl is wearing, an interception and touchdown in a football game, etc.. Well, could I suggest that the word “awesome” should be preserved & limited in its use, or it will quickly lose its true meaning. This word, I believe, should be preserved for God & His miraculous works – period! We should only really “stand in awe” of His greatness, His might deeds, His creation, His character and nature. So, if you want to use that word to describe a sunrise or sunset, the grandeur of the mountains, the beauty of fresh fallen snow, or the power of the crashing waves on the shore … then absolutely, go for it! Or if you are describing a fresh move of God on the hearts of His people, or the wonder of a child created in His image, or the joy of a brand new “baby” Christian who has just been born again … then I say, “Yes” absolutely … these things are indeed “awesome,” and worthy of our praise to our God! Stand in awe of Him … Him alone! Okay … I’m done with expressing that pet peeve … I think! My point is, let the word “awesome” be preserved for God and God alone – this would of course include His creative skills being displayed for His glory!

      The Jewish writers all agree: this command forbids all profane oaths; imprecations, and curses by the name of God.” They further caution, “swearing by the ‘name of the Lord’ ought not to be used but for the confirmation of a thing, and putting an end to strife.” The second part of the verse reminds us of serious consequences when taking His name in vain, “it is strictly forbidden, it is severely punished by the Lord,” … “for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that takes His name in vain” 

          It seems that in recent days in Youth Conferences for our modern, American “Christianity” as it might be called, that the “hip” or “cool” thing to do is to curse (yep, you heard me right) – cussing in the message to use the “shock” method & to be “relevant” and draw in lost people & “seekers.” As unbelievable as that may seem, I am told it is happening. I personally have never been in a conference or service where this has happened, but I can tell you without hesitation, if it ever does happen while I’m there – I am getting up right then and walking out (even if I might be on the platform as one of the speakers)! There is absolutely NO place for that in Christianity! I don’t know about you friend, but that is one of the first things Jesus took out of my life when I got saved … and for the most part, no one even had to tell me what were curse words. I knew … and so do these guys that are doing it! You should be ashamed if indeed you are a follower of Jesus … and you should stop immediately!

        I’ve even watched some interviews on YouTube in which the speakers attempt to justify doing this, with statements like … “we’ve got to show the world that we are real and authentic and that we struggle with things just like they do.” Are you kidding me? [I am also glad to report to you that some of the other younger speakers, who have a strong following have put out a plea to these speakers (also on You Tube and other Social Media avenues) to say to them, “we don’t think this is the right approach.”] I’m not sure that the Social Media avenue is the way we should be handling these issues … I know many see it and that may be good, but in reality, if we want to follow the scriptures, someone who knows these men and has a relationship with them, should be going to them privately and rebuking them and appealing to them to repent. [I also believe, according to the scriptures their repentance & confession should be public … their sin (and that is exactly what it IS) was public and made a mockery of the God they claim to love and follow, and therefore their repentance should be just as public.]

        When are we going to stop hiding behind our profession of “love for Jesus,” and our “freedom in grace” to talk that way?  And when are we going to stop hanging out at the bar and drinking with our lost buddies … all under the guise of saying “Jesus was accused of the same things?” “The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’”  Was Jesus a friend of tax collectors & sinners? Absolutely, and we should be too … but it doesn’t mean we have to live like they do! I agree that Jesus was accused of this, but there is not one shred of evidence that Jesus did what they said! After all, if he had been “a glutton,” would that not be a sin? And of course, we know Jesus NEVER sinned!  For such an High Priest became us, Who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens;          Heb. 7:26 

            The second thought interestingly is that the scholars warn us not to “use the name of the Lord as a cover-up” or as an excuse for our “own” interests. In other words, we should be careful of using the phrase, “God told me to!” Certainly we are very guilty in this age of expressing that “God led us” to do something. We seem to use this phrase as a means of silencing any and all questions from observers. I cannot tell you how many times in counseling, over 35 years, that I’ve had someone tell me “God led them” to do something, when what they did is in reality directly forbidden by scripture! Especially in this age of tolerance, where many say “there is no absolute truth” and “who are you to force your opinion on another believer?” People actually think you are being judgmental or self righteous to challenge them Biblically on something they’ve done, supposedly, “in the name of God.”

            This is not to say God does not lead us as His children, He most certainly does, but to use this phrase or similar, as a means of not having to give account of our actions, is nothing less than a “cop-out!” This statement “for the LORD will not hold him guiltless” is given more as a warning to remember that the reputation of God is more important than us positioning a situation to make ourselves look good. In other words, we must stop hiding behind the name of God to “cover our own backside.” Don’t “blame God” for your own thoughts or your own foolishness or impetuous behavior.

        John Wesley said, “It is the duty of Christians to give the world a right opinion of God.” To that thought, I give my own hearty “Amen!” This is our challenge in this commandment … to give a glorious reflection of God & His glory to those who are viewing our lives or reading our reactions on the social networks!

“It is the duty of Christians to give the world a right opinion of God.”       John Wesley

There is one thing that is “near & dear” to the heart of God – that is His own glory, His own reputation, His own “name’s sake.” He wants to “be known,” both by His people and by those who thus far have chosen to reject or resist Him.

Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but unto Thy name give glory, for Thy mercy, and for Thy truth’s sake. Psa 115:1

      Over and over again, we see in scripture that God moves and works for His own name & kingdom’s sake. Here are just a few examples taken from the Psalms … you can investigate this for yourself and see throughout the Bible, God moves for His glory:

  • Ps. 25:11  For Thy name’s sake, O LORD, pardon mine iniquity; for it is great.
  • Ps. 31:3  For Thou art my rock and my fortress; therefore for Thy name’s sake lead me, and guide me.
  • Ps. 79:9  Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of Thy name: and deliver us, and purge away our sins, for Thy name’s sake.
  • Ps. 109:21  But do thou for me, O GOD the Lord, for Thy name’s sake: because Thy mercy is good, deliver thou me.
  • Ps. 143:11  Quicken me, O LORD, for Thy name’s sake: for Thy righteousness’ sake bring my soul out of trouble.

             To follow up this line of thinking a bit further, God makes Himself known, so that people will find no room to doubt His reality, His power, His existence, and the fact that He is Sovereign & in control.

  • The Lord, for example, told Moses, I have hardened Pharaoh’s heart so that the Egyptians may know that I am the Lord.”
  • He commanded Joshua to set the stones from the riverbed of the Jordan River in Gilgal as a testimony so that all the people of the earth might know the hand of the Lord, that it is mighty.”
  • David told Goliath, This day will the LORD deliver you into mine hand; and I will smite you & … the Philistines this day … so that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel.”
  • Daniel told Nebuchadnezzar, Seven years will pass over you, till you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men.
  • God spoke to Cyrus, as the king (who did not know God) and explained to him, “I am the LORD, and there is no other, besides Me there is no God; I established you, though you do not know Me, that people may know, from the rising of the sun and from the west, that there is none besides Me; I am the LORD, and there is no other.”

Our God wants to be known in this world. It’s quite simple … He has left us here to be mouthpieces for His kingdom, His power & His glory!

       Does this not make you stop and wonder, “How much of my ‘venting’ on social media would be different if I only took the time first to think and consider the reputation of God displayed in my words?”We are told in I Corinthians 10:31 – “Whether therefore you eat, or drink, or WHATSOEVER you do, do all to the glory of God!” This is our purpose … that everything we do, should bring glory to God. So, here is the challenge of this command – before we write, or share, or vent, or whatever else you choose to call your social expressions … we must ask ourselves this question, “How will this reflect on our God, His name, His reputation, His glory!

Remember:

You are not your own. For you are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.  1Cor. 6:19, 20

Categories
Social Media

10 Commandments for Social Media (Commandment #2)

            Solomon tells us in his words of wisdom, “Death & life are in the power of the tongue”(Pro.18:21). This morning as I was reflecting on this whole issue, I could not get away from the warning James gives us concerning our words. James, as you may know, is considered by many to have written “the Proverbs of the New Testament” since his letter is filled with such practical wisdom for everyday life. I don’t think I’ve ever read chapter three in his epistle without coming away convicted in my heart about my own personal need. I want to review a few of those verses, let them soak in our spirit & see if God may use them in your heart as he does in mine. I’ve abbreviated them (taken out portions that you can of course read for yourself) in order to highlight the special warning to our hearts as we “speak” through social networking with others & for the Lord. Spend a few minutes, not just reading but meditating (chewing) on God’s Word:

 For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect (mature) man, able also to bridle his whole body … So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. The tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is … setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell … no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. (Jms.3:2-10 abbreviated from English Standard Version)

            You may remember that in this passage, James parallels control over the tongue to a bit in a horse’s mouth, a rudder on a ship & a fire that burns up the forest. All of those are preventable choices … we use the bit to turn the horse, the rudder to turn the ship and know better than to strike the match that sets the forest on fire! Have you ever been guilty of saying (writing) something in an e-mail, a comment line, a thread in Facebook, etc., sent it, and as soon as you did, know that it was too spontaneous … too “off the cuff,” too reactionary, without being thought or prayed through? I must confess … I surely have.  And then had to spend the next hours (or even days) trying to clean it up, clear my conscience and ask God to bring healing to my heart or others. I assure you … that is NOT fun! As you know, if you read my last blog, I am approaching this subject through the Ten Commandments which God gave us in Exodus 20 & often repeated throughout the Old & New Testament. So, the Lord willing we will discover together the importance of applying the principles taught in these 10 commandments to our use of the social media. If you’re ready, let’s tackle #2!

 1)     Guard your heart against idols – do not make, bow down to, or serve any “graven image” of ANYTHING God created.

 Exo 20:4-6  You shall not make unto you any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: You shall not bow down yourself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate Me; and showing mercy unto thousands of them that love Me, and keep my commandments.

            Wow! This is “a biggie” you might say, and we certainly won’t sufficiently cover this subject in one article. Perhaps we can at least tackle two parts of this commandment. One would be to perhaps define “what is an idol?” Then we will note the specific warnings given in this passage of “attraction to” an idol. Many times, revival came to God’s people when they tore down the “high places” and removed “the groves” … these were of course the places set up for idol worship. I do hope you realize however, that this is not just an Old Testament issue. As a matter of fact, I have often mused over the last warning that John gives us in his first epistle, “Little children, keep yourself from idols.” (I Jn.5:21) Wow John, I think you said “a mouthful” in that little closing!

            Let’s look at it in its context to see if we can understand why this man of God, so in love with Jesus, has a concern of idolatry for his listeners.

    We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him(self), and the evil one does not touch him. We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. Little children, keep yourselves from idols.   1Jn 5:18-21 

 

So, can we “bottom line” and capture a “take away” from John’s warning here:

1) We have an enemy – Satan

2) The whole world lies under his power (Here is what John Gill writes in his commentary about “the world” –  the men of the world, the greater part of the inhabitants of it, who are as they were when they came into it, not being born of God; these are addicted to sin and, wickedness; the bias of their minds is to it, they are set upon it, and give themselves up to it, are immersed in it, and are under the power of it: or “in the wicked one”; they are under Satan, the god of this world; his influence, and led according to his will, and they are governed by him, and are at his beck and command; and this is known, by sad experience, it is easy of observation)

3) We possess “truth” in the person of Truth Himself – Jesus Christ & His Word (Jn.17:17)

4) We must apply the truth of His Word to the temptations of the devil & his domination of the world 

5) We must refuse to surrender any part of our being to “the world, the flesh & the devil.”             (I Jn.2:15-17)

             [This is a subject for another time, so I will just mention it and move on, but do you realize that we ALL worship something? We were created to worship … it is our DNA & of course God’s purpose for creating us was that we might be wholly, entirely surrendered to worshipping Him! (Rev.4:11, Eph.1:3-14) So, as I said, that theme is for another time, but please understand … you are going to worship something or someone!]

            One thing we can quickly learn in studying about idols is that they may be an actual object, or they may be a figment of our imagination – something “set up” in our mind or heart. Idols are something that we give value, time & attention to. Someone simplified the definition by saying, “it is anything in life that you devote your money & time to more directly than you do your personal relationship with Jesus Christ.”  By using this simple definition, I must confess that there are things that immediately come on my radar screen that I have to reflect on & ask myself to be honest … is that an idol in my life? Certainly one of the greatest problems in the people of God today (beginning with that guy I shave in the mirror each morning) is to relegate truth merely to our minds, thinking that because I KNOW a truth, therefore I am LIVING that truth. And as the saying goes, (and as we know) “nothing could be further from the truth!” This study will do more harm than good, UNLESS we obey whatever God shows us personally.

            So, an idol could be an object – either something created by God, or something designed by man. Or it could be an idea or philosophy exalted in our lives or society. Wow … there’s a lot out there, isn’t there? We could “worship” a person (including ourselves or our own body), a pet, a statue, a T.V. program, a sport (or sports team), an artist (including Christian musical artists). There is a reason, you know, why they call the show American Idol! It could be even a performer or a comedian or a reality show that you just HAVE to see and follow every week, after all we ARE SO entertainment oriented in America today (even in the church). It could be an author (including Christian writers or theologians), or dare I say, even a “doctrine” can become idolatrous? (I know some Christians who are more in love with their “Calvinistic doctrines” than they are their Savior! I expect that will raise some eyebrows … but it is true, nonetheless. Many of us have witnessed the intellectual pride of contention over a doctrinal position cause factions & division within a body of believers. When Paul addressed it in Corinthians, he said that when they are followers of Paul, Peter, Apollos, etc.[add your own favorite teachers’ names in America] that they were carnal and acting like lost people.                   I Cor.1:12-13; 3:3-6,22-23;4:6)  

            Now, our second consideration is this, an idol according to the second commandment is something WE 1) make, 2) bow down to (worship) & 3) serve. If you are familiar even on a casual basis with the Old Testament – you remember the illustrations and the warnings about idolatry. [Exodus 34:12-17; Num.25:1-11; Deut.7:1-6,12:1-9; Isa.44:8-22; Psa.115:3-11; 135:15-18] Over and over again God’s people were told – do not take them unto yourself (remember Achan – Josh.6:18;7:1,10-13,20-26), because when you do, then you WILL bow down to them & serve them.

Here is where we must pray (again) the prayer of Psa.139:23,24 – “Search me, O God.” Caution, do not “search yourself” that is dangerous because our hearts are “deceitful & desperately wicked” & inevitably, we will leave things uncovered, unconfessed & therefore unchanged & still imbedded in our hearts. Again, perhaps we need to consider the subject matter of our media networking, our conversations, our postings of “our favorites” (movies, music, add-ons, likes & dislikes, maybe even our political leanings). If at this point, we find ourselves becoming defensive or reactionary, we need to ask ourselves “Why” are my emotions so heated or elevated? Is there something on your Facebook (or whatever other media avenues you use) that reflects negatively on the reputation of God and His followers? Have you chosen “a hill to die on” that you are unwilling for God to remove from its place of high influence in your life?

            Anything … anything that we are hesitant to surrender to the Lordship of Jesus Christ in our lives has undoubtedly become an idol in our lives. We do not want to hear God say of us, as He did of Ephraim in Hosea 4:17, “Ephraim is joined to idols, leave him alone.”

Please Lord, do not leave us to ourselves!

Little children (of God) … keep (guard) yourself from idols!

Categories
Social Media

10 Commandments for Social Media (Commandment #1)

In recent days I have become increasingly burdened over some of the uses (or should I say misuses) of the social media avenues available to us. I am a firm believer that we as Christians should use every tool placed in our hands to get the gospel out to the world, but I also believe that it should be done in a way that honors God and brings glory to His name. As Paul exhorted us in I Cor.10:31 – Whether therefore you eat or drink, or whatsoever you do, DO ALL TO THE GLORY OF GOD!  For that reason, as I was praying over this issue, I thought, why not approach this through the ten commandments which God has already given us … written with his own hand! I’m sure you’re probably already aware of the two headings of those commands. The fact that the first four are in conjunction with our relationship to God and the last six are in conjunction with our relationship to man. That’s why Jesus tied them together as the first commandment “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind & strength,” and the second which is“like unto the first, you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Would to God we could see clearly that the demonstration of obeying the first commandment is evidenced in obedience to the second!

So, the Lord willing we will discover together the importance of applying the principles taught in these 10 commandments to our use of the social medias. Let’s get started! 

1) Remember “you are not your own” – keep a single eye to God’s glory & His reputation alone. I am the LORD your God, Who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me.

ABOVE ALL ELSE is this – to recognize that all you do or say reflects on God. If you are His and claim His name as your own, then you are responsible to see to it that everything you do reflects His nature, His character, His reputation – goodness, righteousness & truth (Eph.5:9). We are told to “let our light so shine, that others may see (or in this case – read & observe, witness) our good works & thereby glorify God who is in heaven” (Mt.5:16). Is it not true that obedience to this one principle alone would wipe out at least half of what is displayed to the world on the profiles of professing Christians?! When will we learn, in reality, that “it is not about us?”

What Would Jesus Do? This phrase has become so commonplace on our lips or symbolized on a necklace, bracelet, a bumper sticker (or dare I even say tattoo) that it has lost its significance as proven by our actions. But in reality – this IS “what it all boils down to” as the saying goes. How much am I governed by His Lordship (ownership) over my life? If I go to church and close my eyes and raise my hands (as a picture of homage, worship & surrender) to Him, then should not someone expect to be able to see that reflected the rest of the week in my actions, my words, my value system? And, by the way, are they not right in looking for that evidence according to scripture … should not my walk match (or exceed) my talk? Are they asking too much? Are they being “unfair” or expecting more from me than that which God desires to see in my life? I think not. “Do you suppose, O man–you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself–that you will escape the judgment of God?” (Rom. 2:3) You then who teach others, do you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal? You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law. For, as it is written, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.” (Rom 2:21-24)

Doesn’t that last phrase place an incredible responsibility upon us as believers, as followers of Christ? If you are going to claim the name of Jesus, then live up to His reputation, His honor. Do not live a lifestyle (even in social networking) that reflects negatively on His glory! Does He not “lead us in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake?” (Ps.23:3) Do you remember Nathan’s words to David when facing him with his sin against God with Bathsheba? “By this deed you have given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme.” In other words your behavior gives ammunition to the enemies of God to bring ill repute on His name. So the question we must ask ourselves is this: As I let people into my “private life” through a social network, do they see a consistent, reputable testimony of God’s ownership over my life? How about my information page, my profile, my photos, my likes & dislikes … do these reflect and magnify in a positive way the name of my Redeemer, the one who led me out of captivity & bondage? I often tell teenagers, “I used to say, let me walk into your bedroom at home and look around for 10 minutes and I can tell you what you are “in love” with … the posters on your walls, the magazines, the music, the cleanliness (or lack thereof), & the clothes in your closet. All of these reveal where your value system really lies. But, I don’t have to visit your home anymore to discover this, do you know why … because you are my friend on Facebook, and I can now enter anytime, anywhere!”  It is usually at this point that things become very quiet & reflective in the room!

It’s true, our value system is revealed through the “windows” of our profile on Facebook. How does it reflect on the reputation of God, when we claim to be “sold out to Jesus Christ” and then write the junk we put on FB? Oh, the broken hearts … because “my boyfriend hurt me” … but then two hours later, when we’ve made up again, we have a mended heart and all in the world is well again! How silly, how 7th grade-ish (I know, I just made up a word)! But let me hasten to say, it’s not just junior high age that does this. I know some adults who are constantly telling to the world how their day is going … point by point, line by line, verse by verse. Really?! Do you really think the world needs to know that you’re having a sappy day or that you’ve got lots of laundry to do & don’t know if you’ll ever catch up! Really! I have a recommendation … get off of the computer and “git ‘er done” as they say! Come on, we have time to tell the world all our feelings today, but not enough time to get things accomplished (which will, by the way, in and of itself, many times, take care of those wimpy feelings).

I recommend a personal inventory. Go back, open up your info, your pictures, your likes & dislikes, your attachments, etc. and ask yourself, “Does this reflect well on the name of God?” Is this “what Jesus would do?” Do these pages allow others to “see your good works” and thereby “glorify your Father, who is in heaven?” Do people looking into the window of your life and testimony (through Facebook & other social media avenues) see a good, Godly, wholesome, convicting & challenging image of your Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ? Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time. Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.(Col 4:5,6) Does your speech through the social medias have “grace, seasoned with salt” to make others thirsty for what you have, or does it make them say, “If that’s Christianity, I want nothing to do with it?”

 A final question befitting the first commandment: Does my reputation (revealed voluntarily through social media) testify that I take seriously the first commandment – to have NO OTHER GODS before Jesus? Maybe in order to be objective in this search we should begin by doing two things: One – pray (& mean it) the prayer of Ps. 139:23,24 – Search me, Oh God … , and Two – ask others (Godly, wise advisors) their thoughts as they look on our profile (Pro.18:17; 12:15; 21:2). Do these two things seem a bit “scary” to you? If so, then I would say perhaps that is God’s way of letting you know already in your conscience that there are some things that need to be cleaned up or perhaps removed all together.

Oh, and let’s remember … this is only commandment #1. One down … nine to go!                Blessings,  Tim