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 #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

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God’s Select Order for Revival

Leonard Ravenhill, whom I had the privilege of hearing in person and meeting with for questions and answers on several occasions stated it plainly, “The one main reason why there is no heaven sent revival in America today … is because WE ARE CONTENT TO LIVE WITHOUT IT!”

I wonder how much that is true … I wonder how often that is true in MY own life. Though I have carried a burden for revival for 35 years now, and seen it on numerous occasions … how often am I content to live without it! I am convinced that THE GREATEST NEED in America is REVIVAL. Some are even uncomfortable with the word – they would rather talk about restoration, or renewal, or refreshing … all good words, and all a PART of genuine revival … but they are by-products and not the ultimate need. Psa. 51 would make it clear that they are all needed, but it seems we don’t want to admit WE NEED REVIVAL. The other ideas “seem” a bit more positive, and we are more comfortable to say we need refreshment & renewal … but we need to admit we are in many ways dead! We need to LIVE AGAIN. That is what revival means – God breathing LIFE back into the souls of His children.

I am firmly convinced that 2000 years of church history reveals that THE GREATEST TIMES OF LOST, UNREGENERATED PEOPLE COMING INTO THE KINGDOM OF GOD, CAME, NOT AS A RESULT OF AN EVANGELISTIC EFFORT, BUT AS A RESULT OF REVIVAL. I spent 30 years of my life with Life Action Revival Ministries – where at that time (and as far as I know still) we stated our purpose for existence as a ministry was this – “To glorify God, through a revival among God’s people, resulting in a spiritual awakening among the lost.” I think there are several key things stated in that missions statement.

1) To glorify God – this is the ULTIMATE purpose for your life and mine while on this earth. It is not “soul winning” as vital as that is; it is not to build a large church building so people can come once a week for a couple of hours – then go out the rest of the week and “live for themselves”; or to be sure we have the best entertainment available in our community. Our purpose is, “whether therefore you eat or drink, or whatsoever you do, DO ALL TO THE GLORY OF GOD.” I Cor.10:31

2) Through a revival among God’s people – the very word revival means – to live again. I submit to you, that in order for something (someone) to live again, they must first of all to have possessed life. REVIVAL is for God’s people. Are you hungry for new life to be breathed into you? Into your value system, into your choices, into your words, your use of time, your use of the finances entrusted to you, your morals, your viewing habits, your priorities. Can you think of any of those areas in which you need God to “breathe new life into it?”

3) Resulting in a spiritual awakening among the lost – certainly in our country we need moral reformation, we need character restoration, we need political replacement, we need historical return to the Judeo – Christian foundation that this nation was, without a doubt, founded upon … but undergirding all of that … we need millions of people in America to come to God through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. Once they are truly regenerated – they will begin to understand the need morally, politically, spiritually, socially in our land. Think of this – the last great revival that SO impacted the world took place in Wales in a 14 month period in 1904 – 05. Think of this – what if God were to move in America in just the same approximate level that He moved in Wales during that time … we would witness over 30 million people getting saved in 14 months in our nation. Remember – He is able to do exceeding ABUNDANTLY ABOVE ALL (the name of this ministry) we can ask or think! How does He do that – through the power that works in us (believers) – what power – resurrection power. The same resurrection power that He demonstrated in raising Jesus Christ from the dead (Eph. 1:19) He longs to demonstrate through us (Eph. 3:20) in revival.

So what are those ingredients in chronological order (which is important, since God outlines it as He did) II Chronicles 7:14 – we must:

1) Humble ourselves

2) Pray

3) Seek God’s face

4) Turn from OUR wicked ways.

I will expand on those at a later time (though, if we are honest, we probably don’t need someone to expand because the Holy Spirit in every believer is able to clearly expose to us, if we are listening, the specific needs in our own life).

DEAR FRIENDS … we must humble ourselves. Shhh … go … get quiet … listen to the Lord … and let us agree with God, pray, seek His face and repent. Seek the Lord … till He comes and rains righteousness upon us!

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Pricetag for Revival

Revival – real revival is always costly. I think of Covington, Indiana. When we began the meetings, little did we know what God had in mind (of course, we never do). During the first days, the revivalist’ wife miscarried their next child. That was hard to go through.

When the meetings began, just a few days into the week, there came a huge snowstorm which so blanketed the area, that it became “against the law” to drive anywhere in the city (‘stay off the roads’ was the message). The blessing hidden in this was that the church happened to have a radio station broadcasting right out of their facilities – a Moody affiliate. When it became impossible to have the regular services – as we prayed, it was determined to take the meetings to the airwaves – so we did. There was a small room in the broadcast area, which we set up for services, we asked the people in town who could walk to the church to come on and we would hold services in that room – we had the team sing, and we continued our services of teaching Family Revival principles and Personal Revival principles, set up a Prayer Room and continued on, watching God work. Only now, it was not just for First Baptist Church, it was going out to the entire station coverage area! Once the snow was cleared, it was determined that we should continue the services on the radio, because so many people were listening in and obeying the Lord. When the services were moved back to the main sanctuary, there were many attending who did not even normally attend that church. The Spirit of God used this to impact within a 30 mile radius of the church, extending at least over into Danville, Il.

People began obeying the Lord – sin was confessed and repented of, marriages were being restored, one lawyer went ‘on the air’ saying he had been making a living off of peoples tragedy in divorce cases and under the conviction of God he would no longer take divorce cases – but would do all he could to salvage troubled marriages. A former chairman of the deacons testified that he had stood by during a tragic split which had occured in the church five years before and watched people leave ‘in mass,’ and his response had been ‘good riddance’ we are better off without them – he was convicted he had done nothing to stop the split – he had not been a ‘peacemaker’ – that is, one helping others make peace with God.

A man invited me one day to go with him to work out at the YMCA in Danville, when we finished our workout, as I was finishing up in the locker room, I noticed across the room a man looking curiously at me – he opened the conversation saying, ‘I don’t recognize you, are you new to the area?’ I explained I was part of a revival team holding services in Covington – 30 miles away. He had been listening to the services – when I mentioned that, he began to cry and said, “I thought so … I just knew it … I need your help!” Long story short – he was deeply under conviction about an adulterous relationship he had been involved in for 14 years! Not only that – he was a pastor! I walked through that process with him over the next few weeks as God put his marriage back together & gave he and his wife a new marriage. In the process of those weeks, he also came to realize he had never been saved – A Pastor! Trained in seminary, working in ministry … and lost. He was gloriously saved and God gave a new beginning to his life.

The strange thing in the meetings was that the more people testified of being freed up by God from their sin and bitterness and unforgiveness, etc., it seemed that the pastor of the church became more uneasy. Somehow, with all this ‘junk’ being confessed and repented of, he took it personal – as if it were a reflection of his ministry being ‘a failure’ – his pride was being confronted, and God was tryiing to bring him to the cross. The ‘free-er’ the people became – the more bound up he became. One Sunday afternoon, while at home, he called his Head deacon and said, “if the church is in this bad a shape, my ministry is a complete failure and I want to offer you my resignation!’ The deacon knew his pastor, just like all the rest of us, was struggling with “coming to the cross, humbling himself through brokeness and obedience, and acknowledging his own need.” The deacon merely responded – “pastor, if you believe that is what God wants, then I will meet you later at the church and accept your resignation.” This is not what the pastor expected – he fully expected the deacon to try to talk him out of it, and tell him what a great pastor he was, etc.. When the pastor got off the phone, by his own testimony later on, he went into a angry rage in the privacy of his own home – again, his pride being crushed and eventually, when he saw it, he fell on his face in his dining room, weeping like a baby under the weight of his own stubborn, prideful heart – crying out to God. His wife witnessing what had just happened, came into the room where he was laying on the floor, just fell right over his body, and began to pray for her husband – asking God to break him and reveal to him what was really going on in his heart and set him free! This happened and when that pastor stood before his people that evening in the service … he was a free man – his countenance was different – instead of reacting negatively to the ‘broken – new found freedom testimonies,’ he could finally enter in and rejoice in what God was doing in peoples lives.

On the third Sunday morning when the Chairman of the Deacons testified about his bitterness, he asked the people to forgive him and then stated that on Monday evening, he was going over to the new church (started by the split) and stand before those people and seek their forgiveness. (That church ‘just happened’ to have revival meetings of their own going on at the time!) We then asked if anyone else needed to join him on that venture – to our amazement over 80 people said they needed to be a part of that reconcilation meeting. What had been happening inside this church was now about to begin impacting the entire community! One deacon in this small town, after that reconciliation meeting confessed that “he had not driven on a particular street in that town for five years because Deacon ‘so & so’ lived on that street, and he had been one of the folks who had left the church during the split – so he would never drive again on that street because of the bitterness he felt in his heart toward that man.” When God set him free from that bitterness and his relationship with that man was restored, he said, “Yesterday I got in my car, and for three hours … all I did was drive up and down that street – rejoicing and praising God for freeing me up from my bitterness!”

Oh the joy of a people set free by God! There is nothing more powerful than God’s people walking on in obedience. God’s people walking in revival opens the door to share the gospel in a whole new way, with power and a clear conscience. Lost people in the community listen with ‘new ears’ because NO LONGER are the lives of professing believers standing in the way of their coming to Christ for salvation. The question then, which we all must ponder is … am I a catalyst for revival or a hindrance to it coming? Oh, may God’s power be unleashed in a free, broken, surrendered, holy people!

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Genuine Revival – Never Got Over It!

It started with a prayer meeting early Thursday morning, (that none of the students knew about). Then while the revival team was out of town (30 miles away) God’s presence invaded – a spirit of conviction began to spread into the classrooms at the Christian school. Students began asking teachers (who were teaching their normal subjects) if they could say something. “I do not mean to interrupt, but could you please pray for me … I need Jesus!” These pleadings spilled over into the schedule of the pastoral staff because students were lined up outside their offices and down the hallwaysdoing eternal business with God!
No one preached a sermon, no one told an emotional story, no one was presenting a Christian concert … God just began placing conviction on the hearts of the students; they were not prepared to meet God, and they could stand it no longer! It went from classroom to classroom; it was happening out on the athletic field, and even in the locker rooms in the gym.
(IT HAS BEEN SAID THAT PEOPLE WILL SHOW UP AT CHURCH FOR TWO THINGS … A FIGHT … OR A FIRE! THANK GOD … THIS WAS FOR A FIRE!)
By the time the evening service began, in a meeting where only 30% of the church had been involved (including students who were required to be there), now suddenly, in one day, that number had doubled! On this evening there were about 3,000 in the services! Word had begun to spread about town as to what God was doing in the Christian academy that day! That night as opportunity was given to testify about the work of God in the school, there seemed to be a lingering question in many hearts. In a crowd of 3,000 +, will any young people have the boldness to share? The aisles were flooded with volunteers! By the time the evening service was drawing to a close,over 50 teenagers had testified – and when the invitation was given, as hundreds found their way into the Prayer Rooms, over 90 adults had encountered God in genuine salvation!

When I returned to the dormitories that evening, I could not sleep! I just lay in bed rehearsing all that God had done the last 14 hours on campus. It was amazing! Since I obviously was not going to be able to sleep, somewhere around 2:30 a.m., I got dressed and went down to the lobby of the dorm (an old downtown hotel we had converted into a dorm), only to discover there were others who could not sleep either … 400 hundred of them! They were not partying … not just hanging out … they were all praying and crying out to God to “not let up!”

Later that morning our chapel service began around 10:00 a.m., like normal … but it was anything but normal! At 2:30 that afternoon, we were still going (we had continued right through all the lunch periods and no one seemed to notice or even care)! At that point, the president of the college stood to announce, “There will no classes the rest of the day … we are calling everything off in favor of God!” We knew without a doubt we were in the midst of something not contrived by man, but sent from heaven! It was a divine encounter that no one could deny!
What happened in the Christian school, college and church that first 48 hours began to spill over into the community and a one hour television program that went out live on hundreds of stations on Sunday morning. By the time those days of revival were completed, there had been almost 700 people (683 recorded) giving their lives to Christ in genuine salvation (many of them had believed they were already saved … until they witnessed the great power of God in conversion of multitudes around them) and then eventually, a book written (“Glory in the Church” by Dr. Ed Hindson [Thomas Nelson Publishers]) to record and testify the goodness of God in revival.
To this day, as I reflect back, as I ponder, as I dream … I find myself asking … why do we continue to settle for less? Why do we not as believers, once again, bombard heavens gates with our heart crys …“Oh God … do it again!” Will you join me in that passionate cry to heaven? Oh God, give us intercessors … God gives us a holy dissatisfaction for “business as usual” and an insatiable desire for Your holiness and glory to once again be known in the church which you purchased with your own blood! Lord, send a revival … a REAL revival … and, let it begin in me!