Category Archives: Family

the NOT so SOCIAL side of social media… (part 2)

disadvantages-of-social-media (1)

 

The response to my first post about this topic has been overwhelming, indicating that I may have struck a nerve.  I have had multiple people communicate to me that they were struggling with this area of their life in deep, controlling ways and the blog was able to help them articulate their feelings.

The following is in response to the … NOW WHAT…specifically setting up Boundaries

Obviously, we live in a technological age and simply trying to remove it completely or ignore it is just about impossible.  For many of us social media is social but it also involves our work places, marketing, family members/ loved ones, and a way to keep the pulse of the world/ current events.

So, again…NOW WHAT

Below are list of helpful boundaries and warning signs I have personally adopted after praying, digging deep, and talking with others.  Maybe some of them will help you in mastering this potential monster.

 

1.)  Make first things first…

What comes first in your life?  What do you think on, dream about often?  What takes up most of your heart?  What do you find delight in?  These are important questions to ask, and even more so to answer…sincerely.

C.S. Lewis is famous for expounding upon this principle in one of his writings, providing timeless wisdom.

“. . . You can’t get second things by putting them first. You get second things only by putting first things first.”

“Put first things first and we get second things thrown in: put second things first and we lose both first and second things.”

For the believer in Christ, Gods order of priorities in life are: God, others, and self is last on the list.  But, maybe your not a believer…the principle still stands if you intend to have a relationally rewarding life.  Relationships require sacrifice, demand time and will only thrive in sincerity and authenticity…others still come first.

2.)  Accessibility all the time leads to separation…

You ever come across that person that is always accessible…maybe you are that person…or maybe you are frustrated at everyone else for not always being accessible.  A major convenience initially brought one by technology was the ease of accessibility…however, have things gone to far?  Have things gone to far when you can’t even walk in front of your TV without being accessed?  Have things gone to far when you can’t even go to the bathroom without being accessed?  I would say YES and NO.  This is where it gets tough, because the excuses are plentiful, often times being cloaked under:  It’s my job, I’m that important, it will only take a second, people need me, etc.

Here is the reality;  YOU control your accessibility.

Being accessible all the time is NOT HEALTHY.  

TURN it OFF!!!

Not being accessible is a time of regrouping, a time of recharging, a time of reflection, a time of peace.  In a very real sense I believe this is one of the elements God intended w/ the Sabbath.  That we would disconnect from the distractions of every day life by focusing on Him and RESTING.

All the time accessibility eventually leads to separation…especially with those that love  you most.  You see, if we are accessed all the time, then that means we are never accessed completely by those whom are closest to us.  There are always interruptions, always mood changers, always things that will take our minds away from the moment at hand.  Let me ask you, how many times have you been away, maybe vacation, and you or someone you are with reads a Facebook post, a tweet, an email, a text and the moment is ROBBED!  What one second is joyful, fun, loving is immediately side swiped.

Don’t let accessibility rob you of the present blessing God has given.

3.)  Sacred spaces…

This is simply just practical; Adopt and agree upon sacred spaces in your life.  What I mean by sacred (use what ever word you want) is there are no electronic devices allowed within this area…including, but not limited to: phones, tablets, computers, leapfrog, TV, etc.  If you have family members, loved ones, or friends that you live with communicate and agree upon them.  Hold true to them and enforce the guidelines of the space.  There will be great liberation if you do so.

My Spaces: (catchy I know)

–  the dinner table…  This can be one of the greatest places of connection w/ loved ones.  Take time, have long meaningful conversations, ask about others, speak words of encouragement towards one another, ENJOY the real company of those you love.

 the bed…  This one might take some of you by surprise, but let me explain.  The most important relationship I have, aside from Jesus, is with my wife.  When we are in this space it should be seen as a rewarding, restful, and meaningful space…both physically and symbolically.  She deserves my awakened full attention…of course until the ZzZzZzZz’s kick in.

–  dates…  The kind of thing that people do when they love each other, not marks on a calendar.  Dates are carved out places in our busy lives, often times costing money, that we set aside to focus on that whom we LOVE.  There are fewer things in this life that crumble love than being half-hearted.  Don’t share the time…love the one you are with.

 worship venues…  (yes, for all of you haters…I know our lives are worship)  I am talking about the place/ experience you go to.  The place we visit/ set aside for worship, should be just that…a time or space  you have for you and God to connect.  It is also a time for you to connect w/ other people…meaning real people…those that are actually in the building/house/ place.

 special moments w/ family…  You ever go to kids sporting events, to vacation spots, etc. and you notice that many are missing out on what they supposedly came to be a part of.  That’s just it…be a part of what is important.  Communicate to your family that they are worth your full undivided attention that refuses to be interrupted.

4.)  Time accountability…

I challenge you to log your usage (time/where) and your reason (motivation) for social media for a solid week.  The results might just startle and sicken you.  Here are couple quick questions to help gauge:

–  Did I spend more time with/on it then with what I say I love most?

–  Am I an adult, but still use a “pacifier”?  

Are you wasting your life, by letting the pacifier in your pocket suck it out of you?

–  Am I wiser or dumber for using it?  (that’s right…energy, mental capacity, and effort are used to interact…even with social media).  I found I actually became smarter (I know, debatable) when I used/ interacted w/ it less.

5.)  Listen to others…

This may sound too simple, but I believe it can be one of the most helpful on the list.  Simply put…LISTEN TO OTHERS.  I have found that w/ social media and other areas of my life, God has often times warned me about my overindulgence/ abuse by others speaking into my life.

Do others make comments to you like:  you sure are on that a lot, can you look at me, can you put that down, I’m talking to you, you’ve got an addiction, I never see your face, etc.

I believe these are all warning sign questions and should be alarms to us tech junkies that we have probably crossed the line of obsession/ addiction/ dependancy.  The hard part about this, is our rebellious hard hearts never want to listen to others that question what we so deeply covet.  In many ways, we will guard these sins and embrace them close to the chest, where few have access to.

LISTEN TO THOSE WHO LOVE YOU…THEY LOVE YOU.

In my next blog post I will try and help by offering ways in which we can use and enjoy social media in healthy ways.

Advertisements

the NOT so SOCIAL side of social media… (part 1)

disadvantages-of-social-media (1)

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”  Heb. 12:1-2

Just this past week I went on an overdue vacation with my family.  As with any time away it included packing the car, leaving town, a destination, crying kids, etc.  However, this trip was different…particularly for me as I decided to UNPLUG.

unplug |ˌənˈpləg|verb ( unplugs, unplugging , unplugged ) [ with obj. ]

                                           1 disconnect (an electrical device) by removing its plug from a socket: she unplugged the fridge.

2 sever the connection between a peripheral device and a computer

                       3 remove an obstacle or blockage from: a procedure to unplug blocked arteries

As indicated by the definition above, I choose to completely turn everything off (all social media, email) NOT for an hour, not a day, but an entire week…yea, I can hear the wailing and gnashing of teeth …BUT it only hurt for a moment.  What I learned was life changing, refreshing, and reminding…so I figured I would share, as this may also help you break free from the chains that cling so closely.

“Off the grid” hiatus:

1.)  communication does not equal connectivity…

What does it mean to be “connected”?  Is it simply swapping gestures, languages, phonetical signals back and  forth?  For most of us, we know that being connected is a deep rooted desire within us (God placed) and is much more than that which was just listed.  To list a few, connectivity includes love, focus, attention, desire, feeling, proximity, intimacy, etc.

A danger for many of us is that we mistake “social media” communication for connectivity.  We can communicate w/ the masses and connect with none.  Here lies the danger…those who are closes to us, that so desperately want to connect w/ us are sacrificed on the virtual alter.

My kids and my wife want my full attention…and they deserve it.  God has given me great treasures to connect with if I will see and embrace this reality.  Do you ever wonder why our kids and children in general want to do board games or activities that are so demanding on our time?  It is because they desire “us”.  They long for connectivity, not just merely being in our presence w/ the occasional grunt back and forth.  We can not give this to them if we are not willing to offer all of ourselves.

The struggler here lies that we, being finite beings, are limited in how much connectivity we can offer at one given time.  As I type these words I can think of people in my life that I love to be with, and guess what is in common w/ all of them…they offer all of themselves when I am with them.

2.)  the grass is plenty green where you are if you stop staring at others yards…

As noted in the verses from Hebrews, God has laid out a “race” (a path, a direction, a life) for each of us.  Social media has a tendency to remove our focus off of the reality of what God has placed us on/in.  This often leads to lusting/ coveting after someone else’s lane or race, which is sinful and destructive.

STOP COMPARING!!!

REALITY is where you are now, not where everyone else is.  If we are always gazing upon others reality (which is often NOT TRUE NOR ACCURATE), then we will neglect our very own.  If this is the case, we have failed to run the race and have been entangled by an illusion…a “virtual reality”.

“the grass is always greenest where you water and fertilize most” -unknown

3.)  the sinfulness of my virtual life…

Why do I post what I post…why do I read the post of others…only you can answer these questions.  If I am honest and transparent, here are just a few reasons I found often fueling the characters of my deceptive heart.

–  I want everyone to “look at ME”, “look at ME”…

–  I want MY life to be better, MORE exciting, MORE successful, MORE pleasurable than yours…

–  I want others to desire what I have…

–  I want what others have…

What just these four reason show me about myself is that I am sinful.  I look for “significance” via the praise of others and not the praise of the One that matters.  I am prideful and arrogant.  I am deceptive and desire for others to covet.  I covet myself and am discontent with what God has provided, cursing the hand and purpose of the one that is to be praised, Christ Jesus.

I am a broken, sinful man, in need of the grace of God…in need of a changed heart…in need of a HOPE other than myself.

4.)  where I am is “my race”…

As I stated above, reality is where you are.  Every moment I spend in virtual reality is a moment I lose and neglect in reality.  In order to run the race well that God has laid before me, I must be focused and diligent to remain within the lane that God has placed me.  This is my race that I should find joy in because I know the One that has laid it before me.  My joy does not come from the race, but the in the One who has set it in motion.  A runner runs for the finish…the prize…the goal.  A winner achieves this by focusing on it, while all other things fade into the background.

“…let us run with endurance the race that is set before us…who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross

I/we are not omnipresent.

God has called each of us to focus on one thing in this life, that being Himself found in Jesus.  When we do this, all other things work themselves out as God molds our heart to see and experience as He would.

God has created me to live this ONE life He has given me, in real time, w/ real people…NOT vicariously, not virtually…BUT in the realm where REAL people live…that have real feelings, real hearts, real consequences, real dreams, real souls… real FUTURES.

God sees the reality of our heart, not the virtual reality  we often times prop up.

GOD SEES RIGHT THROUGH THE FACADE

5.)   my children see the desire of my heart…

What we “do” so clearly communicates…especially to our children.  While being unplugged, my desire for my children and my wife grew stronger.  They were no longer interruptions to me, but once again became my delight.  I lived and loved with them in that current moment, refusing to share it with anyone else…especially a false reality.  Guess what… they noticed.  They clung to their dad, they laughed…and they even said, “you are smiling more”.  They knew that they had all of me, a “house not divided”.

As these liberating moments were occurring, it dawned on me…I am lighter…I am more free…I CAN SEE!!!  There was one moment that my kids were playing in an indoor play area (yea, I needed to catch my breath 🙂 ) that I glanced around at the countless adults surrounding me.  Something became strikingly clear…none of them were really there.  Yes, they were there physically, but not emotionally, not mentally, not lovingly.  This is not a stone throw, as I am guilty of being the one w/ the hauntingly illuminated face and frantic thumbs… but they all were somewhere else…which was communicated by their actions.  As their children paraded, laughed, ran, and jumped all of this was missed, sacrificed, and traded for an unquenchable lust…that sucked the life and joy of the real moment.

Our children will be us one day, often times amplified.  I pray that I teach my kids that those whom we love and are called to serve deserve our full, real attention.

So…where does that leave us…

Before you cry “hypocrite”…yes this is in a blog and yes I will continue to use social media.  Let me say that all of social media is not bad.  Much of it can be enjoyed and used for good, even kingdom good.  The question is who is the master and how to master it…but that my friends is for another post…stay tuned.


hospice church…DNR.

decaying church

Guessing the title of this blog may have caught your attention.  Being up front, this blog has nothing to do with churches at hospice sites…I know, sorry.  However, I do want to stimulate some thought about about what these terms represent and how they may apply to the church.

Over the past few years I have had some dear loved ones (grandparents specifically) pass away, but before they met Jesus they went to a place called “hospice”.  Hospice, if not familiar with it, is basically a service/ place offered for those who are dying that nothing more can really be done.  In essence, the individual is to weak, to sick, to old, etc. to sustain any type of cure.  The potential cure would kill the patient.  As a pastor, when you hear the words, “hospice has been contacted”, you know that there is nothing else to be done.

Another medical term usually combined with the above described condition is DNRDO NOT RESUSCITATE.  

DO NOT REVIVE or BRING BACK TO LIFE

This secondary label is given to patients not out of cruelty or lack of concern, but out of the understanding that nothing else can be done and by reviving, loved ones are only delaying the inevitable while dragging out suffering.

In a very sad, but very real sense, this describes the current state of many churches in North America.  Churches that at one time were alive, active, purposeful, loving…but through a turn of events, age, sickness, unhealthy lives… have entered into a “hospice” state.

Here is a stark truth…some churches need to die with a DNR being placed on them, as they are actually working against the reason why they exist.

BUT THERE IS HOPE…

Different than people (as we will all die as a result of the curse of sin)…

CHURCHES DON’T HAVE TO DIE!!!

If churches that find themselves with death knocking at the door will Repent, Be Faithful, Be Obedient, Be Prayerful and Be Lead by the Spirit there is hope for the future.

If there is one thing we know about God, it is His ability to take dead, lifeless people and bring them to life!  I believe He can do that with many churches as well.

Current Church Landscape…

As you may have seen by recent polls/ stats the established evangelical church (facilities) in North America is on the decline and has actually been doing so for quite sometime.  Even with current trends in church planting (new church starts),  the number of church closures is higher than that of starts.  (see following article for stats: http://www.churchleaders.com/pastors/pastor-articles/139575-7-startling-facts-an-up-close-look-at-church-attendance-in-america.html).  To some this is greatly discouraging, but to others there is a sense of opportunity to reach more w/ the gospel.

2013 resembles more of the spiritual landscape of the early CHURCH than ever before.

Here lies the bigger, more important question for churches that fall into this “hospice” category…

Will those churches (maybe your church) have REVIVE (revival) after it’s name OR will it have DNR?

How we understand what the church is and why it exists will determine the future.

BACK to the NUMBERS…

So what does all this mean?  Below are few questions/ thoughts I think we should ponder on.

1.)  What is the church?

The word church is highly misused and misunderstood in todays’ society from it’s original intent.  The church is made up of believers in Jesus Christ.  It is not an address, location, or building.  A church can consist of handful of believers to thousands that gather together.  However, the church is often represented by a building (church building) because that is where believers meet…no believers there, no church, just a building.  The church is a living, alive spiritual organism.  The church was established, is sustained, and is lead by Jesus (God Himself).  The church is referenced as the “bride” of Christ, indicating His deep interest and love for her.

2.)  Why does the church exist?

The church exist for the glory of God.  The church exist to worship God.  One of the primary ways in which the church accomplishes this purpose is by making disciples (followers of Jesus).  John Piper in his book, Let the Nations Be Glad, discusses how the church makes disciples through missions, however missions is not the purpose of church, WORSHIP is.

“Missions exists because worship doesn’t. Worship is ultimate, not missions, because God is ultimate, not man. When this age is over, and the countless millions of the redeemed fall on their faces before the throne of God, missions will be no more”

The church exist to worship and glorify God.

3.)  Why are we just now noticing the decline?

Osterich in the sand…

There are many different answers to this question, with fingers being pointed at many different sources/ people.  Here are a few that I think could be on that long, long list:

–  Leaders & members chose to see what we wanted

–  Admittance of decline is to admit something deeper is wrong

–  Pride/ Arrogance

–  Self sufficiency

–  Money is running out or already ran out

4.)  Is God’s plan failing?

You may struggle even asking this question and that is OK, but I know many that are wondering…

NO…I repeat, NO…God is NOT failing and neither is His plan.  God is self sustained and is self sufficient.  He does not need us to accomplish His plan, however He chooses to use us by the redemptive power of His Spirit.  That is the amazing, beautiful thing about the church!!!  I believe that God desires for His church to reach North America and the world at large with the gospel and to do so effectively.  God has not called us to a failing mission!!!  He is redeeming people every day, bring the dead to life!!!

So what if you are not seeing that happen in your life or in your church?  The answers to these few questions may give you some insight.  I constantly ask these questions to myself.:

–  Why do you exist?

–  Does how you live your life support your answer?

–  Why does your church exist?

–  Does how your church function (what it does, not what it says), support why it supposedly exists?

–  Are unbelievers being reached with the gospel through the efforts of your church? (in specific measurable ways)

–  Do I really on my strength and methods more than my obedience, humbleness, and admittance that I can do nothing apart from Christ?

–  Do I trust God to fulfill His plan?

5.)  Why are so many churches failing?

Wow…loaded question (can hear the ammo being loaded).  Short and sweet, churches often die because they elevate something above the glory of God and their primary function…to make disciples.  What churches choose to elevate, causing their demise is a long list, but here might be a few:

* members over those needing to be reached

* methods/ models.  (Andy Stanley explains this element well in his recent book, Deep and Wide, by saying that churches often value their “methods over the mission”.)  People like “how” they do church over “why”.

* control.  People like to control (or at least think so) that which is God’s

* people’s opinion over God’s guidance outlined in Scripture

6.)  The cons to churches closing…

Before I lay out a few thoughts here, let me preface this section by saying I understand some churches close because of uncontrollable circumstances (the main business leaves town, churches move to different facilities, etc), but for our discussions sake I am referencing those places that didn’t have to die.

When a church closes it’s doors it is a sad day.  A place once filled with worship, life change, intentionality ceases to exist.  Vacant churches are reminders and discouragement for many believers.  Rotting churches are fuel for those that are antagonistic towards Christianity and the gospel.  These empty shells are a harsh reminder of the reality that when God’s people waiver from Him and His heart they cease to be a light house in a community.  Closed churches were poor representations of Christ.

7.)  The pros to churches closing…

When unhealthy churches close vacant real estate is opened for healthy churches to start at that location.  Also, when a church closes it’s doors an incorrect representation of what the church should be is removed, actually being better for a community.  That’s right, you read correctly…a church that does not function as Jesus intended it to can actually be more a detriment/ harm to it’s surrounding neighbors than a help.  In addition, when a church closes an opportunity for “church mergers” exist.  A church merger is when a healthy purposeful church absorbs a dying church under it’s structure and leadership…the one ceases to exist while the other expands it’s ministries/ reach.

Wrap it up…

Some of what I have said, may sound harsh, hard to swallow, and even mean…but it’s reality.  Churches through out the ages have come and gone, many of which disappearing because they forgot why they existed and ultimately because they left their “first love” (Revelation, Ephesus).

What we have to answer by our visions, our models, our systems and our actions is whether we will be churches that have titles/ labels after our names saying:

HOSPICE CHURCH, DNR

OR

REVIVED CHURCH, FOR THE GLORY OF GOD.


my 7 year olds God questions…

DSC_5252-WM

The other day I was enjoying morning breakfast w/ my family, but especially w/ my son Gabriel.  My son and I speak often of God, Jesus, church, the world around us, and of course all the stuff in between.  If there is one thing I love about my son, it is how his mind works and that he is always thinking about something…even if it appears by his crazy behavior there is nothing going on upstairs.

I have always encouraged my kids to be questioners, to ask “why”, to look for answers.  This is not always easy as a parent because of course they ask, probe, and question you ultimately…of course always done so with respect (…yea right…)

Before I move on and talk about his question I think there is a good point to be made here about faith.  Some live under a fear that it is wrong or unacceptable for us to question God…not so much His authority, but more so to ask “why” things are a certain way or happen the way they do.  Some would have us believe that if we question it indicates doubt. However, I disagree.  I believe that God has created us in His image and because of that we are naturally inclined to be questioners and seekers of the truth.  Some of the deepest areas of my faith development stem from asking questions.  By doing so, and many times no one having the answers, it propelled me to dig deeper, and deeper…and you guessed it deeper.

Back to breakfast.

So, here were my sons question(s) for the morning:

Why did God create Lucifer when He knew he would rebel?

Why did God create Adam and Eve when He knew they would sin?

(It’s ok for us to admit we have the same questions…)

Of course, it was fairly early and I was still waiting for the coffee to kick in…so I can say my response was slow at best. However, I think there are a few things to point out as a parent and as people in general, that we can all be reminded off, which were my answers to my son.

Here we go:

1.)  We are not God…

God has the ability to understand, foresee, plan, love, etc. in ways that are beyond us.

God is infinite, I am finite.

God is sovereign, I am subject.

God is for the glory of Himself, I am created for His glory

2.)  God loves us…

Because of God’s choice to love, show mercy & grace, & provide faith to believe in Him we escape the consequence of sin.  In an amazing way God can conquer and overcome our rebellion by providing resolution/ rescue  by offering Himself in our place.

3.)  Angels are not humans…

God created angels as heavenly host servant beings.  He did not create them like man.  Man was created in the image of God, being God’s most prized/ elevated creation.  Man can repent and experience restoration, angels can not.  Also, angels do not become humans and mankind does not become angels (even though popular modern day spiritual thinking would like to think so)

4.)  Evil existed pre-mankind…

The rebellion of Lucifer (and his followers) occurred before the fall/ sin of Adam and Eve.  There is debate of wether or not evil and sin can be equated as the same, especially dealing w/ angelic beings vs. the human race.  What we know is that the evil of angels was not what contaminated the human race.  Adam and Eve’s choice to disobey God is what set sin into motion.  Obviously, the  evil and rebelliousness of Satan is what offered the temptation to Eve in the Garden of Eden, but evil/ temptation in itself does not equate to sin.  Evil temptation acted upon is what is ungodly.

5.) (possibly the most important)  I don’t know…but I TRUST…

That’s right, you read correctly…”I don’t know” was one of my answers to my son.  It’s ok for him to realize and understand that even his father (me) is not Jesus, has sin, and yes…is limited.  After giving all of the above partial answers, ultimately I had to tell him the truth, that is I don’t completely understand all the ways, ins and outs, complete mind of God.  I hope to ask God many questions when I meet Him face to face, however I am guessing a lot of my questions may not matter then, we shall see.

It is important for our kids to know that we can trust what do not fully understand.

You may find the urge to argue with that truth, however if you will pause and be humble for a moment, much of the natural/ scientific/ engineering realm you do not understand.  No man understands to the fullest every subject matter.  If I can admit this about the created order then I can most definitely do so with the heavenly order.

I want my son to know and see that his dad trust Jesus, because He has never failed Him and never fail.  I do not want him to believe in Jesus/ God because he can answer all the questions.

We run a grave danger of missing our creator when our limitedness trumps His limitless…and mystery.

Until his next question, we will love Jesus, talk often about Him, follow Him and trust that He is in control even when we can’t understand.


%d bloggers like this: