Social Media

27Sep

Proverbs and Politics

Lately, it seems like we’ve bought into a lie that our words don’t matter, or at least that’s the only way I can explain how some of my friends, as well as myself, are acting on social media. Election season puts all of us in a bit of a frenzy but it seems like we’re furiously typing things on social media we would never have the courage to say/scream at someone’s face.

Below are 23 verses from Proverbs – a book all about wisdom in practical life. They’re broken up into 5 general categories – don’t miss the last one. It’s the most prevalent and possibly the most dangerous. 

See: How to Read Proverbs

I’m committing to read through all 23 verses before I post something on Facebook, Twitter, etc. Would you join me? Our words matter. Jesus says that what we saw reveals what’s in our heart. Remember, our first allegiance as Christians is to King Jesus. See: God Doesn’t Need America

 

On Putting Trust in Politics, a Party, and/or a Politician

“Such are the ways of everyone who is greedy for unjust gain; it takes away the life of its possessors.” – Prv. 1:19

“but whoever listens to me will dwell secure and will be at ease, without dread of disaster.” – Prv. 1:33

“Many seek the face of a ruler, but it is from the Lord that a man gets justice.” – Prv. 29:26

 

On Engaging Political Opponents

“Whoever corrects a scoffer gets himself abuse, and he who reproves a wicked man incurs injury. Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you; reprove a wise man, and he will love you.” – Prv. 9:7-8

“Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses.” – Prv. 10:12

“Leave the presence of a fool, for there you do not meet words of knowledge.” – Prv. 14:7

“A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention.” – Prv. 15:18

“A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.: – Prv. 18:2

“Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles.” – Prv. 24:17

 

On Thinking/Knowing You’re Right and Humility

“Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.” – Prv. 3:7

“Toward the scorners he is scornful, but to the humble he gives favor.” – Prv. 3:34

“There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.” – Prv. 14:12

“Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the heart.” – Prv. 21:2

 

On the Power of Words

“When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.” – Prv. 10:19

“Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.” – Prv. 13:3

“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” – Prv. 15:1

“Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.” – Prv. 17:28

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.” – Prv. 18:21

“Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.” – Prv. 27:6

“Do you see a man who is hasty in his words?

There is more hope for a fool than for him.” – Prv. 29:20

 

On Lying 

This is by far the most pernicious. Think about it – every time you share an article that you’re not sure is really true but you like because it furthers your own opinion while pushing down your opponent, you’re lying. The Bible often calls that “bearing false witness” and it’s the 9th commandment.

See: Stop Breaking the Ninth Commandment on Facebook

“There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.” – Prv. 6:16-19

“Hear, for I will speak noble things, and from my lips will come what is right” – Prv. 8:6

“A false witness will not go unpunished, and he who breathes out lies will perish.” – Prv. 19:9

 

What verse(s) would you add to this list?

1Dec

How to Connect With a Younger Generation

It’s one of the biggest paradoxes in my world: often the most qualified adult volunteers in student ministry feel like the least qualified because they think they’ll have trouble connecting with students. Additionally, the younger college students that are typically seen as the best youth volunteers may connect well with students on a relational level but have little maturity or experience to guide them once they do.  See: What the Next Generation Needs from the Church

Maybe it’s not teenagers you’d like to understand. Maybe it’s 20-somethings. Millennials. We might be the most talked about generation except so few of the people talking about millennials regularly spend time with millennials. See: 5 Reasons Your 20’s Matter

Maybe you’ve added someone new to your family and you’re trying to figure each other out. It doesn’t really matter who the person is.

So how do you connect? What does it take to build meaningful relationships with people decades younger than yourself?

Two simple things:

1.) Love

11059600_10153456077491001_6317721647227367480_oMy Grandpa is over 50 years older than me and our lives are very different. Outside of a general love for Jesus, sports, and family, we have very little in common yet I’ve never had trouble connecting with him because I’ve never wondered how he felt about me.

He has always made it abundantly clear that he loves me. He made a consistent effort when I was growing up to be a part of my life. He attended endless baseball games over my illustrious baseball career…and he hates baseball. When we moved 6 hours away almost three years ago he has made it a point to come visit on a regular basis.

He doesn’t need to know what the latest apps on my phone are or who Adele is to love me and connect with me.

2.) Authenticity

This is where older generations most often make mistakes in their efforts at connecting with a younger generation. They try too hard, which younger people see right through and it’s embarrassing for everyone.

One of the things I consistently try and thank my mom for is not being my friend when I was a teenager. She was constantly there for me, but always a parent first. I never confused who was in charge. It’s heart-breaking watching some parents try so desperately to win the approval of their kids or their kids’ friends that they start being a friend first and ditch their job as parents. My mom knew that being a parent was more important than connecting as a friend.

A few months ago, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was trying to connect with a younger generation. You could argue that Barack Obama’s success in doing so was one of the keys that propelled him to the White House. She sent a series of tweets specifically targeted at recent college graduates (early 20s) asking them to…get this…describe in 3 emojis or less how they feel about the national student crisis.

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Predictably, the move backfired.

She got thousands of tweets criticizing her woeful attempt at connecting with a younger generation. Several people even compared her to a mom trying to look cool in front of her daughter’s friends.

Here’s the big drawback to this approach: several members of her key target audience were offended they weren’t simply asked the question. Why the emojis? Are college graduates incapable of using words and forming full sentences? Hillary should have simply asked the question like she would have to any other demographic.

To connect with a younger generation, you need to do more than just care for them. You need to be YOU. Be authentic. Don’t try so hard.

Try hard at love. Try hard to be the version of you God made you to be. THAT will always work.

8Jul

How to See God’s Grace When it Seems to Disappear

My favorite annual tradition might be my wife’s least favorite, probably because she does all the work.

Every year, she creates a coffee-table photo-book of all of our adventures from the last year. I don’t know about your life but ours at times is somewhat uninteresting. We love to travel but some years we don’t get to do that as much as we would like.

These photo books help us remember good days that would be easy to forget.

One book has a full page dedicated to a day spent in the park with our dogs. Nothing super eventful happened that day but it was a day we celebrated the simple things in life and I remember that day now even though it was rather uneventful and almost five years ago.

Another book has several pages dedicated to a night at my first church where we took our entire youth group of 12 students over to an 80-year old woman’s house and played croquet and grilled hot dogs. A lot has happened ministry-wise in my life since that night but I remember it because it’s in the book. Dozens of other nights just like it happened but I can’t remember them, and they were not that long ago.

Life is busy! Things get hectic and while we remember big vacations and fun road trips, we can easily forget the simple days and good but uneventful nights.

The same is true with faith.

We can remember the big events.

  • A life-changing week at camp, free from normal distractions.
  • A mission trip spent serving someone else.
  • A baptism, a public declaration that we belong to Jesus.

But what about all the other good, but uneventful days?

  • When we needed a friend to reach out and they did.
  • When we didn’t feel like going to church but went anyway and had a real connection with a real, loving God?
  • When what we read from Scripture that day was somehow exactly what we needed to hear.

If we’re not careful, those good but uneventful days are easily forgotten like days in the park or nights playing croquet with a dozen teenagers and an 80 year-old woman.

So then what happens when the good but uneventful days are forgotten and bad days come?

Dark days move in, like a 35 year-old kid who won’t move out of Mom’s basement. They’re here to stay. In those days we find ourselves asking, “Where is God?”

The feeling of doubt must be universal.

If you’re a Christian, you know that God’s grace is present and active but sometimes it feels like it’s at best expired, if it even exists at all.

Like a questionable carton of milk sitting on the refrigerator shelf long past its “best if enjoyed by” date, in times of doubt God’s grace seems like an outdated form of comfort that seems good enough for some people but never quite sufficient enough for others, for those of us with questions.

Real questions. The kind of questions that keep you up at night, wrestling with God in deep thought.

  • Why did ____________ happen?
  • Why does the world have to be this way instead of that way?
  • Why is there so much suffering?

My generation has often been turned away from church and faith because they feel the faith of their childhood and the status of the Church today simply does not allow room for their doubts and questions. We have made an idol out of theological certainty which suffocates any attempts to wrestle with God.

But we do have to arrive at some level of certainty. How?

4 Ways to Remember God’s Grace When it Seems to Disappear

1. Timehop – an app that reminds you what you posted on various social media networks that same day 1, 2, 3, etc. years ago.

I love social media. Roughly 10% of my articles are focused directly on social media. I love how it makes the world small. I love how it connects me with people from church throughout the week. I love how it connects me and my wife to our families that both live out of state.

My favorite thing about social media is the platform it allows people to create to share a message, and I love when people genuinely talk about Jesus on that platform. A few days ago, my Timehop brought up dozens of tweets and Facebook posts from students that I had reposted on my various social media accounts. The posts they shared were from a mountaintop experience, literally, that is still one of the most powerful moments of my spiritual life. I woke up not thinking about that time, about God’s grace on display. Yet Timehop reminded me.

It doesn’t have to be a mountaintop experience. Maybe it’s a quote from a sermon or a verse that you read at just the right time. If you posted it, Timehop reminds you of it.

2. Journaling

I have never been much of a journaler. At times I felt like less of a Christian because of it but there have been seasons of my life where journaling has played a huge role in my walk with Christ. The great think about journaling, especially journaling when you may not feel like it, is that you slowly build this library of personal testimony to the faithfulness of God.

Whenever doubt creeps in, you get to kick it to the curb because you can go back and re-read some of your old journals. You’ll remember trials you had forgotten because God overcame them. You’ll remember triumphs you had forgotten because there’s too much goodness in God’s grace to record.

3. Get together with people.

Was there a time in your life where you know you were close to God? Who was with you then? Who shared those times and places with you? Find them. Call them. Eat with them. Remember with them.

4. Watch/listen.

Do you have some type of media that recorded a time you were close with God? Maybe it’s a baptism video. Watch it. For me, I can remember the cheesy, “contemporary” Christian song that was playing when I finally decided to obey God’s calling on my life to pursue ministry as my vocation.

While you are unable to recreate that experience or time, you can remember what it was like to be close to God. You can use those tools to remind yourself what is really true.

“And when the lies speak louder than the truth, remind me that I belong to you. And when I can’t see past the dark of night, remind me you’re always by my side.” – Bret Stanfill, “Sons and Daughters of God”

29Jun

I Went to Church Anyway

We live in a broken world groaning for redemption (Romans 8:22).

Even though this is always true, it is evident some weeks more than others.

Over the last week or so our country has been engaged in nationwide debate, from inside the walls of the Supreme Court to the virtual walls of Facebook users.

The two arenas of discussion, race and sexuality, are obvious tinder for a digital firestorm because of their universal nature. It makes sense that everyone has an opinion even if some of their opinions do not make much sense.

While I was more pleased with the conversations I had in person last week surrounding these issues, I firmly believe in the purpose and value of engaging in these topics on the mediums we have available. Those mediums have changed and will continue to do so over time but right now, the Internet in general and social media in particular have connected the world in unprecedented ways.

Christians who leverage that opportunity and those mediums to discuss current issues through the lens of a Christian worldview can be missionaries like the apostle Paul, who reasoned with people in the marketplace for days upon entrance into a new city.

While there is definitely wisdom in knowing when to speak and when to be silent (See: Just Stop Talking), Christians should not fear engaging others with their various social media platforms as long as they are focused on getting it right more than being right. It’s true, Sometimes You Need a Facebook Timeout but sometimes you need to speak up.

“Speak for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.” – Proverbs 31:8

But what about when Christians cause problems by engaging others in conversations about current issues on social media?

The easy answer is something like, “The diversity of the Christians faith points to a diversity of opinions on various current issues.”

I guess…

But if we’re honest, doesn’t it feel more personal than that?

I wrote about my personal opinions regarding the Confederate Flag last week. The article took off, relatively speaking, as things that are written at the right time around hot button issues do.

I spent most of the next day responding to people’s questions and opinions (both supportive and critical). I didn’t necessarily care much what people felt about my opinions but I did care that people at least listen to the real opinions I gathered from black, Christian friends who are equally proud to be Southerners yet generally had very different experiences than the people I seemed to hear most loudly.

What was most frustrating was not people unwilling to listen to me but people unwilling to listen to them.

Some of these people were not just Christians but Christians in my city, and not just Christians in my city, but Christians at my church.

Most of the conversations went very well, and I was reminded how great the opportunity I have to pastor where I do really is. But some conversations did not go so well…my church might have shrunk last week, and I am okay with that because I honestly believe in what I wrote.

However, like it often does, Saturday night rolled around and my brain switched over to Sunday prep mode. I started running through the morning in my head. Logistics, set list, sermon, volunteers. etc.

One of my favorite parts of Sunday prep is praying for specific people to show up. It gives me chills to see people far from the Church and ever farther from God walk through the doors of our church on a regular basis.

Yet this last week I found myself struggling to want to pray, struggling to want to see some people I sincerely love but who also disagree(d) with me. Honestly, I think I’m right and I think they’re wrong but they feel the same way.

So Sunday morning comes, and I head to church. It would have been an easy weekend for me to miss. I was not scheduled to preach. I could have had a “stomach bug.”

But I went to church anyway. It had nothing to do with my job and everything to do with Jesus.

As I started to pray, even though I didn’t feel like it, a funny thing happened; I started to feel like it. I remembered that, for all the things that can divide us, Jesus is what unites us.

So I went to church. I shook hands and gave hugs and had a tremendous day. I was sincerely glad to see everyone, especially the people who disagreed with me most loudly because I know the list of essentials we must believe to be known and loved by the same God is small:

Jesus came. Jesus died. Jesus rose again.

When I said those words from stage during our welcome time, I meant them with every fiber of my being. That’s what makes us sons and daughters of God. That’s what unites us.

We don’t need to agree on everything. As much as we all wish everyone thought just like us, we actually don’t need to agree on most things but we must agree on the Jesus things.

Everything else is secondary.

“In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.”

18Nov

Snapchat: Child Porn, & Sex Predators

I’ve been trying to get people to delete Snapchat for a long time now.

Snapchat’s time as a fun way for users to swap pictures has come and gone. I briefly had an account last year but it did not take long to see that the risks/danger far outweighed the benefits other, safer apps could just as easily provide.

The risk/danger side of that scale tipped even further in the wrong direction on Monday.

On Monday Snapchat announced a decision that will bust the door down between minors and sexual predators.

Snapchat is introducing Snapcash, a new feature that will allow its users to exchange money within the app.

Basically ever since it began, Snapchat’s people have been trying to mask what it really is, a safe sexting app targeted for teenagers minors. With this new feature Snapchat has moved even further from their feebly crafted image of a fun app to exchange pictures with friends.

Snapchat users have long bought into a lie but the truth is nothing is anonymous. The pics don’t disappear and have been leaked over and over and over again. However, the foolishness of Snapchat in general is not my issue.

Here’s what the new Snapchat changes might actually look like:

Old Snapchat Scenario:

  • Teenager receives snap from another teenager (you don’t have to be friends with someone to be able to send them snaps/pics unless you have your privacy settings changed from “everyone” to “friends” )
  • 1st teenager replies with a snap of their own, still not knowing who they’re sending pics to or why.
  • A mutual attraction develops and personal details begin to be exchanged.
  • Eventually the initiator convinces the other user to send some nude snaps.
  • Regardless of age, the initiator is now in possession of child pornography and has broken federal law(s). For more see: A Citizen’s Guide to U.S. Federal Law on Child Pornography via the U.S. Department of Justice.

This scenario is what has made Snapchat into a $10 billion company. If you don’t think authorities take this seriously, think again.

10 teenage boys (aged 13-15 years old) were arrested last year for producing and sharing child pornography. All they were doing was taking screenshots of nude snaps their girlfriends sent them and showing them around to other guys.

Make no mistake: this is precisely what Snapchat was created to do. But it gets worse…

New Snapchat Scenario:

  • Teenager receives snap from another Snapchat user (you don’t have to be friends with someone to be able to send them snaps unless you have your privacy settings changed from “everyone” to “friends”)
  • Teenager replies with a snap of their own, still not knowing who they’re sending pics to or why.
  • A mutual attraction develops and personal details begin to be exchanged.
  • Eventually the initiator asks the teenager to send some nude snaps.
  • 1st teenager protests.
  • Initiator offers to send the teenager money via Snapchat.
  • Teenager reluctantly agrees, sends nudes and receives money from a sexual predator for producing child pornography.  

I cannot stress to you how extremely likely this situation is. It has probably happened several thousand times even since the change on Monday. The Snapcash function is now live on both Android and iOS version and is ready to be used.

Teenagers, you’re setting yourself up for a type of abuse and exploitation you know nothing about. Delete Snapchat right now. There are plenty of other apps that can offer the same services as Snapchat with much more oversight and accountability I know those two words may not have much weight on your life now but if you live by them you will develop wisdom to live the best life possible in a very foolish world.

Parents, delete Snapchat from your child’s phone. Have a conversation about these new changes and explain the dangers that come with this new feature. Explain to your child how you want to trust them but you can in no way trust all the other 100 million Snapchat users. For more see: 9 Resources for Parents: Navigating the Digital Age.

Pastors/Church Leaders, delete Snapchat. Do not use Snapchat in ministry. As I stated earlier, the benefits are no longer worth the risks and dangers. You can communicate with students in countless other ways and even if you couldn’t , your holiness is infinitely more important than your relevancy. Stay far above reproach.

How do you feel about the new Snapchat?

28Feb

You Can’t #EndIt & Keep Porn

Today is Shine a Light on Slavery Day, a national campaign by the End It Movement. Their goal is stated simply:

“Join us and other Freedom Fighters from around the world as we SHINE A LIGHT ON SLAVERY. Draw a RED X on your hand. Tell your world that slavery still exists and YOU WON’T STAND FOR IT. Just use your influence any way you can to help us carry the message of FREEDOM.” – http://enditmovement.com/

I’m really thankful for the work of the men and women at the End It Movement. We live in a time when it seems more popular to criticize those who are working to bring about real change instead of actually doing something to create the necessary change. While one could easily point out the flaws of a campaign based almost solely on awareness, the End It Movement has educated thousands of people on the horrors of sex trafficking, especially young people.

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When teenagers, college students, and adults alike hear that there are 27 million men, women, and children trapped in modern-day slavery, something begins to stir within them to seek out change.   Many have tried to explain away sex-trafficking as a lesser problem but several United Nations-sanctioned studies and sociologists all over the world keep coming up with estimates around 27 million people. Last year alone, red X’s were drawn and tweeted out to the world by US Senators, NBA/NFL/NHL/MLB players, Grammy-winning musicians, and world-renown pastors.

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While the End It Movement is great, specifically because of its high impact on younger generations, it’s also foolish. It’s not intrinsically foolish, only functionally foolish, and it’s not their fault. Their failure to succeed is tragic because…

The connection between pornography and sex trafficking  has been explored in depth by many people smarter than me. All the findings are conclusive and align with a simple supply-demand formula.

There is an enormous demand for pornography, specifically in our country.

Porn Usage Facts:

  • Porn sites get more visitors every month than Netflix, Amazon, and Twitter…combined.
  • 93% of boys and 62% of girls are exposed to Internet pornography before the age of 18.
  • The average age of first exposure to Internet pornography is 11.
  • The 12-17 year-old age-group is the largest consumer of Internet pornography.

These stats clearly display that our nation is infatuated with porn. Demand has never been higher and porn (supply) has never been more accessible.

Pornography has become easier to produce and demand has risen to unheard of levels. The bad news – sex traffickers have gotten in on the action. They’ve realized that the more porn they produce, the more porn will be consumed and thus, the more money they make.

Sex traffickers are now targeting and exploiting young women for the explicit purpose of forcing them to produce pornography. So the next time you want to log on to that website or click on that seemingly harmless picture, remember that. Remember that that girl might not be enjoying what’s happening to her, and that what’s happening is nothing less than rape on tape, not consensual sex between two partners. One husband even sold his own wife into sex slavery where she was forced to produce pornographic videos.

The connection between porn usage and sex slavery is clear. Now, it’s time to really #EndIt.

You see, the two are far too closely intertwined. So, if you put a Red “X” on your hand today, I’m cheering you on! Now it’s time to be consistent. No more porn. End THAT too. It’s the only way to #EndIt at all.

Are you trapped in the cycle of porn? Are you a parent and need resources to talk to your kids about porn? If they’re 11, they’ve most likely already been exposed to porn but it’s never too late!Get started early! Check out the resources below and share this post with friends.

Related Articles:

  1. Even GQ Knows Porn is Bad
  2. Snapchat: Child Porn & Sex Predators
  3. 9 Resources for Parents: Navigating the Digital Age
  4. Who Has Better Sex?

Online Porn Resources

  • Covenant Eyes – A great website filtering system that monitors all aspects of Internet usage including mobile devices and emails a content report to an accountability partner every week.
  • XXX Church – A great website for porn recovery. It’s chock-full of resources and also offers a website-filtering/monitoring system that includes mobile devices as well.
  • Fight the New Drug Started on a college campus, Fight the New Drug is an organization of college students with absolutely zero political or religious allegiances. They present the proven, unbiased, scientific facts on how porn harms our brains, our relationships, and our society.
  • Free iPhone Porn Filter
  • A Parents’ Primer on Internet Pornography

 

Helpful Books

 

Ultimately, the Gospel is what sets porn addicts and all sinners, including you and me, free. For more on the power of the Gospel, watch the video below.

 

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