Social media is pretty great. Apparently a lot of people think so since literally billions of people use it. I love staying connected with long-distance friends and family, seeing what God is doing the world over, and laughing out loud over a hilarious meme. It’s wonderful being able to post a prayer request or read an encouraging status.
But social media can also be misused. Wasting time, ranting, sowing discord, getting involved in an ungodly relationship, or promoting self are a few examples of being a poor influence through our activities on social media. Chris Pirillo said, “Twitter is a great place to tell the world what you’re thinking before you’ve had a chance to think about it.” Jesus said, “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matt. 12:36-37). Which category will our posts and messages fall into? Justified or condemned?
The following list is from Romans 12. It seems perfect for making sure our social media activity stays good and Christlike!
Don’t be conformed to this world- v. 2
Don’t think of yourself more highly than you ought- v. 3
Show mercy with cheerfulness- v. 8
Be loving- v. 9
Avoid all evil and promote good- v. 9
Be devoted to one another in brotherly love- v. 10
Give preference to one another in honor- v. 10
Contribute to the needs of the saints- v. 13
Bless those who persecute you- v. 14
Rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep- v. 15
Don’t be haughty- v. 16
Associate with the lowly- v. 16
Don’t be wise in your own estimation- v. 16
Never pay back evil for evil- v. 17
Respect what is right in the sight of all men- v. 17
As much as possible, live at peace with all men- v. 18
Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good- v. 21
“Don’t use social media to impress people; use it to impact people” (Dave Willis).
Every now and then I get caught up in the what-if’s. This afternoon was just such an occasion. I was worrying about something to the point that Neal asked me what was wrong. I unloaded my fears. “What if this happens….what if this doesn’t happen…?” Neal listened and reminded me that God is in control. I said, “I know but what if…..?” And I proceeded to try to get him to understand all my reasons for being concerned. He finally said,
“Even if the very worst scenario happens, God will be by your side and I’ll be on your other side.”
Okay, that was powerful. How comforting to know that, no matter what, God will never leave me and neither will my husband. That truth helped me take a deep breath and let go of the useless worrying. I thank God for His promise to always be with me (Heb. 13:5). I thank God for Neal’s wisdom and his commitment to caring for me. I know that next time my “anxieties multiply within me” (Psa. 94:19), I will recall the peace-giving image of God and Neal flanking either side of me.
I wonder how many others need those words said to them? I can think of individuals I know who are hurting and could probably use the reminder that they’re not alone. May I never get so caught up in my own little world that I neglect to comfort those around me. That’s part of the purpose of the church, right (Heb. 10:24-25)? I love knowing that I could go to another Christian with my fears or failures and be reminded of God’s faithfulness and their love. May I ever strive to be that Christian for others, too. I may not be able to solve problems or make the pain go away, but I can certainly hug more, pray more, and remind more that “God will be by your side and I’ll be on your other side.”
Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another…1 Pet. 4:8.
HOME SWEET HOME. Those three simple words engage the senses. They conjure up images of loved ones, the home place, your childhood tree swing. Perhaps you associate it with the smell of apple pie, your favorite birthday meal, or your mother’s perfume. Or maybe you can close your eyes and hear your father whistling while he’s working on the car. We want to fill our own homes with that same sense of belonging and rightness, so we intentionally create good memories for our own families: laughter around the dinner table, nightly devotionals, loving touches, and sweet traditions. Home is synonymous with comfort and security. When we’re away from it, we long for it. Not every earthly home is ideal, but many would agree that “there’s no place like home.”
Thank God for the home He provides for His family! He must want us to enjoy that same sense of love and security because He gives us a home to enjoy now and one to look forward to in eternity. When I close my eyes and think of my church family, I can’t help but recall warm hugs, precious memories, dear songs, and loving support. No matter where we live, we have a home made up of Christian family. What a blessing! I can’t imagine trying to get through this life without it. Jesus promises a heavenly home with our Father (John 14:1-3). This one will be big enough to accommodate all of our loved ones. There will be no goodbyes or sad memories (Rev. 21:3-4). It will be the ultimate Home Sweet Home.
As dear as home is, some choose to walk away from it. Whatever the reason for it (indifference, rebellion, sin), the absence is keenly felt by the Father and family. I ran across a song recently called, “You Can Always Come Home.” It is based on the story of the prodigal son in Luke 15. In that passage, Jesus tells a parable of a young man who chose to leave home to experience the world. He lived wildly and recklessly. He cared not for his reputation or his family name. But his new lifestyle brought no satisfaction. The thrill was short-lived as he found himself broken and alone. That’s when he thought of home and his wayward heart longed to return. This passage never gets old for me. My breath catches every time I read of his father running to meet him. His father didn’t say, “You made your bed; now you have to lie in it.” He didn’t say, “What do you have to say for yourself?!” He most certainly didn’t say, “I don’t know you,” or “You’re no son of mine.” Instead, every action on his part said, “Welcome home, my son.”
I have loved ones who have wandered away. I pray they will long for home and make the journey back, regardless of time or distance. As the song pleads, “Remember, you can always come home.”
My own heart has struggled with seasons of waywardness. May I always be drawn to the real love and security offered by my Father. May HOME remain my favorite place to be.
Perhaps the choices you made over the past year were hard on your heart.
By Kathy Pollard
I know what a stony heart feels like, don’t you?
It’s when I am indifferent to the needs of others.
It’s when I am disengaged in worship week after week.
It’s when I’ve been involved in sin and my conscience is no longer pricked.
It’s when I withhold forgiveness.
It’s when I no longer hunger for the Word.
It’s when I stop thinking souls.
It’s when Calvary doesn’t move me.
It’s when my heart has become divided instead of devoted.
It is an unhappy thing when you know your heart has hardened in any of these areas but you lack the desire or discipline to do anything about it. Perhaps the choices you made over the past year were hard on your heart. Perhaps you can tell you’ve drifted away from God, or you’ve allowed your connection to your church family to grow cold. When that happens, it’s easy to become disheartened, discouraged with yourself, or indifferent in your spiritual walk. Have you ever looked in the mirror and asked, “What’s the matter with me? How did I get here?”
Listen to what God said to His people.
“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 36:26).
God gave this beautiful promise to people who had misrepresented His holy name. They weren’t acting like people who belonged to Him. Those who saw them acknowledged their hypocrisy. In modern terms they said, “They call themselves ‘Christians’ but they don’t act like it” (v. 20). Yet God still wanted their heart. He wanted to redeem them and give them His Spirit (v. 27).
This encourages me. There are times when my heart problem is obvious to others. But there are times when only I am aware of the hardening while I continue to go through the motions. Either way, I can know that God still desires to cleanse me and save me (v. 29, 33). God is willing to act on my behalf for my good (notice all the “I will” statements He makes in v. 23-38). This may not be pleasant at first. It may be in the form of exposed sin or an unhappy trial. But I can see how necessary it is to shake me out of my complacency. It reminds me of the song, “Break my heart, dear Lord.” I am thankful for the opportunities God gives me to soften my heart again.
According to an article published in Entrepreneur a couple of months ago, “most people complain once a minute during a typical conversation.” I’ll be paying more attention to my speech to make sure I don’t fall under the category of “most people,” but even if I don’t voice a complaint in my conversations I wonder if I think it? The article goes on to show the negative effects of complaining:
It rewires your brain to make future complaining more likely.
It becomes your default behavior, which changes how people perceive you.
It damages other areas of your brain.
It raises stress levels.
It lowers your immune system.
It’s contagious. Like second hand smoke, it negatively affects those around you.
The article states that the solution to complaining is “to cultivate an attitude of gratitude.” “When you feel like complaining, shift your attention to something you’re grateful for.” Gratitude:
Reduces stress levels
Improves mood, energy, and productivity
I imagine gratitude is also contagious and will positively affect those around you.
I find it interesting that this nonreligious article (based on scientific research) is simply confirming what God has been telling us all along. “Do all things without grumbling or complaining” (Phil. 2:14). Instead, “give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thess. 5:18; Col. 3:15,17; Eph. 5:20). It doesn’t surprise me that it’s been proven that complaining is bad for our health and gratitude is good for our health. As the saying goes, “When God says, ‘Thou shalt not,’ He’s really saying, ‘Do yourself a favor.'”
The article suggests that, over time, complaining or gratitude can become a way of life. This means my words may reveal more to others than I intended. They reveal my heart and all that I choose to focus on (Luke 6:45; Prov. 4:23). My words affect more than I intended. They affect my own health and even the health of those around me. Complaining or gratitude. This simple, daily choice has great impact.
“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
The most frequently asked question since our return home from Israel has been, “What was your favorite part?” That is nearly impossible to answer. There were too many wonderful experiences and highlights, each of them meaningful for different reasons.
I can say for certain that it was my “trip of a lifetime” and that it impacted me in multiple ways. I am most thankful for three of those ways:
It strengthened my faith in the Word.
No doubt about it, the places and people we read about in the Bible are REAL. Archaeologists continue to uncover locations, discover documents, and learn about practices that prove the truth of God’s Word.
For example, the Bible mentions a place called “Sha’arayim,” which means “two gates” (Josh. 15:36; 1 Sam. 17:52; 1 Chron. 4:31). Scoffers declared this unlikely as no Judaean city ever had more than one gate, according to archaeological discoveries. But in 2007, an entire fortified city was unearthed having, not one, but two major gates. It overlooks the Elah Valley, confirming the Bible’s mention of it in the account of David and Goliath.
I knew the Bible was accurate and reliable. But it is so faith-building to have that truth confirmed by walking through the MANY “proofs” that populate the land of Israel!
It enhanced my understanding.
David took refuge in “the stronghold” (1 Sam. 22:3,4). Masada (which means “stronghold”) was a city that sat atop a steep hill out in the middle of an arid wilderness, overlooking the Dead Sea. It’s location made it easy to see approaching enemies. It had a “snake path” up the side that could handle only two people wide at a time. It was impressive! Scholars believe that this was David’s stronghold. Now when I read about it, I will be able to see it.
In You, O Lord, I have taken refuge…Be to me a rock of strength, a stronghold to save me, for You are my rock and my fortress.
And when I read about David hiding in caves in Adullam (1 Sam. 22:1-4), I will be able to see it. I understand how easy it was to do that in a land dotted with large, hidden caves. Adullam means “refuge.”
When I read about Jesus praying at Gethsemane (Matt. 26), I will be able to picture Him among the twisted trunks of the olive trees. I can now see exactly where He pleaded with His Father.
There are so many accounts that have come alive in my mind! I can add extra senses (sight, sounds, smells, touch….) to my understanding.
It engaged my heart.
You don’t have to go to Israel to be touched by the love stories in the Word.
(How can you read about God’s call to Abraham to take his son and offer him, and then God’s deliverance and provision when He rewarded Abraham’s obedient faith without being moved?)
But I had the opportunity to go to Beersheba. It’s in the middle of the Negev desert. It’s where Abraham made a covenant with Abimelech and planted a tamarisk tree (Gen. 21), where he sent Hagar into the wilderness, and where he went to live after God said, “Because you have not withheld your son, your only son, I will greatly bless you….” (Gen. 22). I looked all around me and imagined the account playing out in front of my eyes.
I had the opportunity to visit the two proposed sites of the Garden Tomb. While at the first one, I read John’s gospel account of the empty tomb. I looked at the rock tomb in front of me and read of Mary standing there weeping, of Jesus approaching her and calling her by name, and of her declaration to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord!”
There were so many emotional moments as we walked through the land of Israel. I imagine part of that had to do with stepping away from the distractions of the world and immersing myself in the unfolding story of God’s redemption and love. My heart was revived.
I pray that I will remember that I don’t have to go to Israel to do that. I can still shut out the world’s distractions and immerse myself in the beautiful and powerful message of God’s love.
I wish I were better with words. I’m going to try to convey what’s filling my heart but I know the words will fall short.
For the past six days I have been in Israel with my husband and our dear friends, John and Carla Moore. The experience has far exceeded my expectations. I’ve visited Beersheba where Abraham lived and probably received the call to offer up his son. I’ve stood in the very valley in which David ran to meet Goliath (and even pulled five smooth stones from the same brook he did). I’ve explored the impressive sites of Masada and Megiddo. I’ve seen the wildernesses and the Shephelah. And so much more.
I knew I’d love it all. I can already tell that I will never read my Bible the same again. I knew I’d learn more about geography, archaeology, and history. What I wasn’t expecting was the soul-searching that would accompany it.
I’ve been impressed with the courage, bravery, faith, and trust of God’s people in harsh environments or overwhelming odds. Would I be brave in the same situation? Would I trust God when I couldn’t see my way through? It’s been good, so good, to hold my heart up for examination.
But today was something special. Today we went to the Sea. We hiked up a path to the top of Mount Arbel. There were sheer cliffs along the way. When we crested the top and took in the view of the Sea of Galilee and its northern shore, it was as if all the noises around me faded away and I could only hear my own breathing. My heartbeat slowed as it dawned on me what I was actually viewing.
Up to this point, we’ve visited places where great men and women of God have lived out their faith. Today we came to the place where the Son of God lived out His faith so He could walk with us through ours. I saw the towns where He taught in the synagogues. I saw the shoreline where He called His disciples and where He would later have breakfast with them. I stared at the waves on which He walked and imagined the storms that He calmed. Jesus taught the Sermon on the Mount here. He healed here.
As the four of us took it all in, John led us in a verse of “How Great Thou Art.” Then he prayed a beautiful, heartfelt prayer of praise. I couldn’t help but think that perhaps Jesus prayed in the very same spot when He would go up on the mount by Himself. Jesus. My Jesus. Today, and the next couple of days, I am walking where He walked.
So many things happened by the Sea on the Sea in the life of Christ. The same sea is surrounded by bustling and thriving towns today. The same sea is filled with boats.
I am walking where He walked and in awe of that fact. But what would He want me to see here? The Sea? As impressive as it all is–the cliffs, mountains, villages, and the blue, blue water–there are people all around the Sea who still need to see Jesus in their midst.
Only one place on earth is where Jesus walked but every place on earth is where He wants us to go and tell others about Him.