Archive for the tag “SoMe”

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.

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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