Archive for the tag “Social Media”

Comparing Apples to Oranges

Ah social media.

Through social media I can post a prayer request and within seconds I have my family, extended family, friends, co-workers, acquaintances, and the random dude that friend requested me at the local convenience store say that they are praying for me.

I can also share photos with everyone. Pictures that show how awesome life is. All the cool places I get to go, all the awesome food I eat or cook, my beautiful wife, the happy kids, and anything else that people will look at and say, “I wish I was him.”

But then I log into Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Twitch, LinkedIn, Snapchat and several others and realize that someone else is posting photos of their happy kids, their beautiful wife, their awesome food, and their cool places and, all of a sudden, my life doesn’t seem so “blessed.”

Comparing ourselves is not something that is new since the inception of social media.

Cain compared himself to Abel. Joseph’s brothers compared themselves to him. Even the disciples were not immune to the comparison trap. Jesus even had to put His disciples in their place about it.

John 21:23 – Because of this, the rumor spread among the believers that this disciple would not die. But Jesus did not say that he would not die; he only said, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?”

Comparison is a sin plain and simple. It tells God that we are in control and not Him. First, it does this through making us feel better than others which is pride. In Luke 18:9-14 Jesus shares the story of the Pharisee and the tax collector.

Luke 18:9-14 – To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable:  “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

Next, comparison can make us feel worse than others, focusing on ourselves and what we are missing rather than what God has blessed us with.

It is easy even to compare God’s movement in our lives with how He moved in our lives previously. For example, if God blessed you with that promotion you might be thinking He is going to do it again. And why not? You tithe your 10%, you read your Bible regularly, you pray before every meal and bedtime, and you even shared AMEN when you saw that Facebook post. You are the perfect candidate for the promotion.

But then the promotion never comes.

God must not like something in your life since you didn’t get the promotion, right?

But what does God say about this?

Isaiah 55:8 – “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD.

Satan wants us to believe that we deserve everything in our own timing.

We feel entitled.

If we start to let Satan lead us down the path of discontentment, we find it harder and harder to ever find true contentment.

Remember David, the man after God’s own heart? When he needed to go fight Goliath God provided for him armor. Unfortunately, the armor was too large. Did David stop what he was doing until he could find armor that fit him? No. David trusted God.

If we have trust that God is always looking for our ultimate good, then even when things don’t make a lot of sense, we can take comfort in knowing that God is right there with us, helping us to get to a place of contentment. God wants to see us transformed, not temporarily happy.

What was it that Paul said?

Philippians 4:11 – I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.

Paul doesn’t say that we need to be thankful for the circumstances that we are going through. We are to be content. Paul was beaten, put into prison, stoned and even shipwrecked and yet he found contentment. He wasn’t content because of anything he did, but he was content because of everything God is.

So what should we do when we are stuck in the trap of comparing ourselves with others?

Praise God.

Not for what we have that others do not have. That would be acting like the Pharisee in Luke. But Praise God just like David did in the Psalms. Thank God for who HE is, not what we have. Far too often we praise God only when we feel like praising Him.

Praise isn’t a feeling. Praise is a sacrifice.

Rejoice in the Lord, always!

If we choose to rejoice in the Lord, then we won’t have time or desire to rejoice in what is going on with us. Paul was in chains when he told us to rejoice and be content. If anyone could have been comparing his strife with others, it was Paul. But he chose not to. He chose to be content in who Christ is.

The other day my wife, Mimi, and I had a huge argument. Both of us were not fulfilling our roles properly as stated in Ephesians 5 (husbands love your wife and wives respect your husband).

Did I give that moment to God?

Unfortunately, no.

I went upstairs, got on Facebook, and started looking at people I know who had posts about their relationships and how great they are. I started comparing my relationship with theirs and wishing for what they have.

Of course, in the back of my mind I knew that they were no better or worse off than Mimi and I, but that didn’t matter. I was listening to Satan. I was allowing myself to be oppressed by the father of lies.

After about an hour of that I realized that I was caught in sin.

I started praying and asking God to forgive me.

After our devotional, I told my wife and explained that it was a sin and the I wanted to repent of it.

To do so, I decided to do something drastic. Many of you know that I love social media. I love being on Facebook and Instagram.

I decided to deactivate both of my accounts.

I am not sure for how long they will be deactivated. The last time I did this it lasted 3 years. But for the time being, don’t look for me on Facebook or Instagram. I am going to take this time to get my heart focused more on Christ and being content in what He has provided me.

And I suggest that to many people who are on social media. Fasting from it is a good start. You could fast from social media for any length of time. Or, if you are someone that may want to come back to social media one day like myself, you can deactivate your account. The accounts are there for you to reactivate (log in with your user name and password), but you aren’t being active on them and it is more difficult to get into them. Or, if you are deciding to go cold turkey, you can delete your accounts. When you do that, however, you lose all access to anything you posted before, all media, and your user name.

So take your choice.

And maybe, in a few years, I will say to follow me back on Facebook or Instagram.

*Disclaimer* My Twitter and LinkedIn are still active for work use, so I am still on those.

End of Year Summary

Mark 16:15 – He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.

Every year I am amazed by the statistic of this blog. Thousands of people each year visit here and it makes its way into so many different countries. This year alone my blog has been to 72 different countries, over 36% of the world! Since I started writing this about 5 years ago, it has been read in over 107 countries, 55% of the world!

I am absolutely amazed that anyone would want to read this site.

Galatians 6:9 – And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.

When I started 5 years ago, I really thought that only a handful of people would want to read this, and for a while I was right. I had just started getting involved in social media and had a few people following across all social media sites.

Since then, I’ve learned from my beautiful wife, Mimi, how to manage my social media presence. I keep my Facebook more private at only 323 followers. Twitter has just shy of 2,000. With LinkedIn I am pushing 4,100.

Bottom line, I live in the public eye. And I like it. Just ask Mimi, she would say that I feed off of it.

I don’t bring this all up to show how great my numbers are. Am I proud of them? Of course. But I realize that they can go away just as quickly as they came.

I bring this up because it teaches me two very important things:

  • People are hungry to find the Word of God.

Next to those who subscribe to the site, the top way that people come to this blog is through online searches. Even after almost 5 years, my number one searched post is “Spiritual Farting.” Almost every day someone searches for that on Google or Yahoo and finds this site.

But regardless of how people are finding this site, it has become an important part in many peoples’ weekly reading.

Colossians 2:2-3 – My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

  • This has shows amazing opportunity for the church!

There are thousands of pastors who blog. Many of them post very rarely while others post frequently. I try to post weekly. The more a pastor posts, the more followers they will most likely have. With only 45 posts this year I have reached thousands of people.

Granted, not all pastors are good at writing. And many pastors simply don’t have the time to write one.  But I believe that if a church enlists one of their members or staff to write a blog for the church, it will help to build up that church.

As the church turns more and more away from bricks and mortar and into a clicks and engagement strategy, online posting will be very important.

Most churches use Facebook. Some utilize Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube. In the grand scheme of things, very few blog or post snippets of their sermons on any sites where people could read them.

I believe that if we started to incorporate more of a teaching mentality to our social media as the church, then we would start to see people get more involved in understanding the Christian faith.

Many churches use social media to put memes of platitudes, announcements of weddings or funerals, and the occasional prayer request.

But there is very little teaching going on.

If we could take this opportunity to teach rather than tickle the ears of people, we might see a lot more growth and discipleship going on.

So, tell me, what are YOU going to post about?

If you would like to guest post on this site, leave a comment with your email address and I will reach out to you and see if our beliefs would be compatible for doing a guest post.

I look forward to hearing from you all!

Philippians 4:8 – Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Into All the Digital Universe – Part 4: Blogging

Habakkuk 2:2 – The LORD answered me: Write down this vision; clearly inscribe it on tablets so one may easily read it.

So we have covered Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and the need for social media in the church today.  It is a very media-centric world.  God calls us to be in the world but not of it.  Today, being of the world means finding past lovers on Facebook, over-contextualizing the Gospel on Twitter, and risk losing the title of “above reproach” on Instagram.  But we are called to be in that world.  It is how souls will get won.  We need to meet Satan in the trenches on the frontline of the battle, and this is one of those fronts.

One more of those fronts is blogging.  There are many out there who say the blogging world is dead today.  The next generation of blogging is coming and that this is a thing of the past.  If that is the case, then why are there still so many readers of blogs around the world?  It is because there are blogs about every little thing out there.  You want a blog about applying makeup?  There are plenty.  You want a blog about improving your golf swing?  Yep, there are those.  You want a blog about how to eat a Maryland blue crab steamed and spiced with Old Bay?  You got it.  And if you want to find blogs about Biblical topics?  You can find more than you would ever be able to read in 10 lifetimes.

And guess what?

Not all those Biblical blogs are, well….biblical!

Romans 1:26 – For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature;

You can find someone somewhere blogging about things that they believe and fitting the Bible into their beliefs, not their beliefs into the Bible.  You see, THAT is the danger with blogging.  Once you post your views, they are on the world wide web for everyone to see.  When I started writing this blog series, my blog had been read in 58 countries worldwide.  As of today, that number has grown to 62.  That means that if I post something heretical, then it gets seen in as many as 62 different countries currently.  That is a lot of pressure to put any preacher or saint under!!!  I’m blessed to have a seminary degree under my belt.  But not everyone that has a blog that posts about Christ graduated seminary.  (lol, that can both be a good thing and a bad thing, by the way)  There are numerous blogs out there that preach not just incorrect information, but flat out rebellion to Scripture.  With the potential to reach billions of people, it is no wonder that there is danger in posting.

But with the majority of young adults getting their Biblical teaching from a blog that someone posts in a tweet or on a Facebook wall, the need is great for us to get deep-rooted Scriptural teaching in the hands of everyone.

This means that all pastors need to blog.

I understand the need for time.  It is a precious commodity.  Especially for pastors who not only need to spend 20 hours preparing a sermon, going to visit people in the hospital, performing weddings and funerals, running Bible studies, but also have to make sure all the toilets in the church are unclogged, the windows are cleaned, and all the bills are paid.  And this happens while they are growing their family who needs them as well.  As a matter of fact, I am writing this at almost 12:30 AM on a Monday right now.

While blogging can be both time-consuming and potentially dangerous if unbiblical views are posted, there are many reasons that pastors should blog.  First, blogging creates in the writer spiritual formation.  Many Christians do not study their Bibles.  Unfortunately, many pastors don’t study, or even preach from, the Bible.  When I blog, I find a single verse that I study before writing.  I will do a systematic theological study of that verse with other verses it is tied to in the Old and New Testaments.  I spend about an hour studying the Greek and/or Hebrew meanings of the words.  This is all forming in me a knowledge of the Bible.  It is creating a spiritual discipline in me.  Not only does this help me understand Scripture deeper, it will hopefully help others to research the verses I use in my blog.

Next, blogging develops my leadership skills.  While I am studying and writing about my topic, I have occasionally sent off previews of my blog to others around the world to get their thoughts before I post.  It opens up conversations with others around the world, from different denominations and even faiths, to hear their point of view.  It has also been used as a resource to others.  At least 4 times my blog has been cited in some seminary student’s research paper.

Finally, blogging provides outreach to billions of people worldwide.  There are communities in the world that have no access to a Christian missionary, but they may have a computer.  This gets the Word of God into their village.  This is a great tool for engaging others and shaping conversations internationally.

So pastors should blog.

All Bible-believing, Holy Spirit-led pastors should blog.

I pray this series has sparked some thought in you.  Thoughts that perhaps you can get online and increase your ministry reach.  In today’s world, it is so very important that we have a presence in it and not fall to the fringe of those who let technology stop the spreading of the faith.

Hebrews 4:12 – For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

Into All the Digital Universe – Part 1: The Need

Ephesians 4:29 – Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

It is not easy to look in the Bible and find discussions about social media.  The world during their time took days and weeks to go from place to place.  Today, a single click of a button and I’m in Africa or Japan or Australia.  And if this week is any indication, social media can significantly affect how we operate our lives.

This week my phone died.  In the “old days” (a mere 5 years ago) a phone was just a phone.  I could only talk on it.  Texting was a pain.  I had to press each key up to three times to get the letter of my choice.  Then I got my first smartphone.  And the world opened up to me!  Without my phone this past weekend and much of the week, I felt like I lost a friend, or 1,264 of them!!

I started a Facebook account several years ago and found myself having to check my phone and computer regularly.  Because of personal reasons, I removed myself from the Facebook world.  But since then many other options have come about and I believe that we as Christians need to be on social media.  And I don’t just mean once in a while.  I mean regularly, perhaps even daily. 

But we need to be careful when we engage in social media.  There are some big wins that can happen from using social media but there can be some significant problems that, if not understood, we could potentially lose our ministries, our families, and worse.  Ephesians 4:29 above, needs to be on our minds as we engage in social media.

Acts 17:17 – So he reasoned in the synagogue with both Jews and God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there.

The Pew Research Center put out data to show the importance of social media in the lives of people today.  72% of all people they surveyed used social media to some degree.  The largest ethnicity to use social media is Hispanic.  The age groups that most used social media were 18-29 (89%) followed by 30-49 (78%). 

The church is constantly looking for ways to reach young adults.  This is it.  And many populations, at least near where I live, are very high Hispanic populations, one of the fastest growing populations in America.  Social media could be a significant win for these aging churches looking to bring in the next generation!  If churches can mobilize the young, Hispanic population, then can you imagine the potential for the growth of the church in America?

Every church needs to be on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.  Facebook is a complete social site that can be very beneficial among the members and regular attenders of church.  It can help keep your church connected easily to events and messages you want put out there.  Facebook can be dangerous, and we will talk about that later.  To this day, I believe it was a big reason my marriage ended.

Twitter opens your church up to the rest of the world that Facebook does not.  Anyone can follow you at any time.  My personal Twitter account I had to laugh about.  When I started it, I expected to have maybe 10 or 20 people finding and following me.  But combining my blog with Twitter, I not only have grown to almost 1,300 followers, I regularly interact with people on Twitter (and I even met my girlfriend, Mimi, on Twitter!).  Twitter can be just as dangerous as Facebook on relationships, but it also holds a secondary danger, over-contextualizing Scripture.  Twitter only allows you to type in 140 characters at a time.  With that small of space, you need to choose what you will and will not say.  But there is no doubt that it can be a great tool to reach every nation in the world.  Just recently, my blog was retweeted by someone in Brazil, sharing with that person’s over 200 followers.

Instagram is a great tool, similar to Twitter, that can be seen by anyone at any time (unless you are set to private viewing only) that lets others see your pictures and videos.  This is a great opportunity to show off that great worship team or your community outreach events.

Matthew 5:16 – …let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven

Finally, every pastor should blog.  A blog allows you to expand on ideas.  I know people who blog daily.  Yea, that is not me.  I post weekly, usually on the weekends.  This is a great outlet to place a shortened version of your sermon.  It is also a great way to connect with your congregation.  But what is amazing is that your congregation now becomes the world!  Just today my blog was read by people in the USA, Australia, and Austria.  Since I started blogging, people in over 58 countries around the world (30% of all of the countries in the world!) have read my blog, it has been quoted in seminary papers of at least 4 seminary students (they probably failed after citing me!), and has been placed on links websites of Christian organizations.  The message that God is giving me to speak is getting out there.  Imagine if pastors did this regularly! 

1 Corinthians 10:31 – So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

That said, there are many definite reasons to get involved in social media.  There are also major problems that need to be addressed when dealing with social media.  In next week’s blog I will discuss the benefits and the problems that can come through social media.

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