Stop, Wait…Then Post: 3 Social Media Rules To Live By

stop think Post blogWe are the press. We can instantly write editorials on our blogs, comment on tragedies via twitter, and document triumphs on Instagram. With a smartphone and a few clicks, we can do in seconds what used to take newsroom hours to accomplish. We can communicate with the world more effectively than ever before.

In short, social media is amazing.  When used well, Christians can influence millions for the gospel with 124 characters and a picture. But the instantaneous nature of social media also brings great danger. What used to be limited to an ugly letter that never got sent can now become world news thanks to Facebook and Instagram. With few clicks, we can attack celebrities, businesses, and even our closest friends. In a matter of seconds, we can destroy relationships, compromise our faith, and divide our church.

But social media doesn’t have to be deadly. If we submit our social media life to the Scriptures we can find a better way forward. Admittedly, the Bible doesn’t say anything about social media. But, it says a lot about human speech and human interactions. In James 1:19-21, we read:

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.

3 Rules

1. Post slowly. While there is nothing wrong with using social media to inform our opinions, we must always be slow to speak. We must resist the impulse to comment on everything everywhere. Before we post, comment, and tweet let’s ask ourselves these questions: “Will my post offend my friends and coworkers; will my comments glorify God; will anyone be encouraged by my interaction?” If the answer is no, then we don’t post. And if you are posting simply to correct someone, don’t. No one asked you be their teacher. And a loving rebuke should always be delivered in person (Matt. 18). If you don’t have someone’s phone number, let it go. A couple of years ago, I tried to teach a former acquaintance how to be a better Christian via his Facebook wall. After a few days of arguments, he defriended me. We will not win a brother from a distance. Besides, God can mature people without our witty corrections. Let’s be slow to post.

2. Don’t post in anger. Remember that the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. If we are angry (even rightfully so – which doesn’t happen often), let’s take our cause to God. We often turn to social media because we don’t want to submit to God and to divine justice. We want instant gratification. Instead of making God our refuge, we find comfort in letting theman-791049_1920 world know that Bobby is a jerk. We find comfort in saying, “I don’t usually callout people, But…” And as the number of like’s goes up, we feel justified.  But we’ve not won Bobby. We’ve not helped him get right with God or even grown in our faith. Our anger has only made the relationship worse. Our gossip never produces their holiness. The next time we are angry, let’s put down our phones, let’s stay away from our laptops, and let’s turn off our tablets. Let’s ask God to show us the cause of our anger. Let’s spend time toppling our idols instead of murdering others on social media. And if we have been mistreated, let’s trust God to vindicate the righteous.

3. Speak the truth with love. Those who use social media well will direct people to others. Instead of filling our pages with ugly comments, lets praise others. Let’s post things that have encouraged our souls and that will encourage others. Let’s rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn. Let’s daily spend time in the word and let the Holy spirit inform what we tweet, video, and post instead of our emotions.

I mention the above rules not because you need them. I need them. My heart is wicked and can be persuaded to post all kinds of dumb and hurtful things in cyberspace. I still regularly have police my tweets with the above rules.  Although no one can perfectly master their social feed, (we can never perfectly master our hearts this side of heaven) we can become more like Christ each day. In turn, our use of social media presence can improve!

We All Need’m: Rules For the Good Kids

Good kids blog post“Have you met my kids? My 8 year-old is training for a marathon, my 5th grader just open their second lemonade franchise, and the baby has been driving the family four-wheelers since she was 3. (Just wait to you meet some of the homeschool families at our church.) You really don’t think my kids can be trusted to walk the twenty yards from their Sunday school class room to the sanctuary?”

Ok, so maybe the above is a little bit of a stretch, but parents with responsible kids legitimately wonder why their kids have to follow the rules their church adopted to keep those water balloon throwing hooligans under control. The answer is simple. We live in a fallen world. Below our three reasons all kids need to be protected

Good Kids Make Bad Choices

We have to need rules because even the most responsible kids sin. A few weeks ago, I mentioned that our churches need rules in-part to keep godly men and women from temptation. In the same manner, we create rules that prevent kids from being unnecessarily tempted. Now, I am not talking about getting rid of game time or of throwing away the crayons because kids fight. If anything those fights provide our adults leaders with an opportunity to preach the gospel. One kid’s sin does not necessitate we change our kids program. But, we should actively seek to curb temptations that place our kid’s lives in danger. And though only a few kids would ever think of secretly escaping to McDonalds after Sunday school, some do; even some of the “good” kids have these thoughts.

True story: several  years ago, a usually compliant 8 year-old gal with a kind disposition asked to go the restroom. As usual, she was granted permission to make to short walk from the gym to the lobby.  About 15 minutes later, she was caught happily waltzing back into church with a newly minted soda in hand. Turns out, she had skipped the restrooms all together. Instead, she walked past the tree line and into our local Walmart to purchase her caffeine fix for the day.

Ultimately, neither you nor I can fully know what’s in our kid’s hearts or what they are capable of doing (even while at church). And as I learned from the Walmart run, no kid is above making really bad choices. The church that loves kids establishes rules prevent kids from being reckless.

No Kid Is Out Of Evil’s Reach

Second, we need check-in and check-out guidelines because others are watching. Kidnappers can and do target churches. A kid can be swept up in an instant. Even the “responsible” kid who never varies from her parents’ directions could quickly be snatched away by someone with evil intent if left unattended. And if we let a kid wonder off by himself, we are inviting trouble upon trouble. He could be kidnapped (not to mention getting hit by a car) before we snap our fingers. Because we have no clue where said kid is, we will be slow to access and respond to the situation. By only allowing kids to leave a classroom with a parent, our churches greatly discourage predators (don’t forget ex-spouses) from gaining access to our kids. It’s very hard to snatch or hurt a child who is under constant observation. Churches establish rules not because of your kid, but because of those who could harm  your kid.

Favoritism Impedes The Gospel

Lastly, we want to avoid the appearance of playing favorites. If we allow certain kids to break the rules, we will give the appearance of playing favorites (And it’s quite possible that we are showing favoritism). In today’s racially and socially charged world, we don’t want to do anything that would cause a visitor to think we value wealth or certain races more than others. “Oh the white kid hoping into the BMW got to leave early, but you want me to so my ID card?”

But even more important than today’s social climate is the scriptural mandate to avoid favoritism.

Indeed, if you keep the royal law prescribed in the Scripture, Love your neighbor as yourself, you are doing well.  But if you show favoritism, you commit sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors (James 2:8-9).

As Christians, we must put forth every effort to love all equally. The pastors’ kids who know their church’s campus backwards and forwards should be held to the same standard as the most lost visitor. To be loving churches, we have to diligently protect every child without exception.

Airplanes, Lying Prophets, and the Hope of Christmas

Airplanes lying prophets and the hope of ChristmasIt was here! To my grade school psyche, the Sears Wish Book announced the commencement of the Christmas season like nothing else could. The catalogue’s glossy pages were filled with completely with toys. Quite naturally, the Wish Book deserved my full attention.

One year while I sat on my bottom bunk bed relishing the joy of the Wish Book, I saw it: the glorious P-40, G.I. JOE airplane 1/54 scale. At that moment, my little heart was smitten. I wanted that toy with every ounce of my body. But somehow as the scent of fresh baked cookies and cinnamon candles announced the rapid approach of Christmas, I neglected to let my parents know about the toy. Christmas came and went without any sign of the P-40. Slightly crushed, I determined not to let that mistake happen the next year.

The following November, I grabbed the Wish Book with marker in hand. I was going to highlight my toy of choice for all to j. i. joie p40see. But, I could not find the P-40! I scanned through every one of the pages. Then, I scanned them again. Still in shock, I flipped through the pages a third time. To my horror, the plane was gone! I looked in other catalogues, but it was nowhere to be found. Many more Christmas came and went without the P-40. But every year, I kept searching for the toy, trusting that one day I would find it!

In a much more meaningful manner, the story of Christmas is also about longing. As generations of Jews before him and after him, the prophet Zephaniah longed for the coming Messiah. Zephaniah looked at ancient Israel and saw evil succeeding. The rich took advantage of the poor. The prophets lied and cheated. And the priest openly defied God. Even pagan nations mocked the God of Israel. The world needed a savoir!

Many of us can empathize with Zephaniah. As we prepare for this wonderful Christmas season, we too see the effects of sin. We are rightfully saddened when we noticed empty chairs that were once filled with the pleasant smiles of loved ones who have passed away. We groan quietly under our breathe as we hear about crimes committed against innocent people. And, we all still have to deal with the ugly sins that plague our own lives, families, and communities.

navitiy setBut here is the exciting news: We have hope! Zephaniah encouraged those around him to, “Be Glad and rejoice will all your heart,” because the Savior is coming (3:14b). He will punish the wicked. More importantly he will save! “The king of Israel, the Lord is in your midst…..The Mighty One, who will save (3:15b,17b).” The prophet looked forward to the coming Messiah because he would remove the reproach of sin from those who believed on Jesus’ name. He would quiet people’s cries for help with his love. He would exalt the lame and the hurting, gathering them to himself. Lips that were once filled with moaning would be turned to joy!

At Christmas, we celebrate the arrival of this long awaited Messiah. We recognize that Christ offers eternal happiness and peace to every person who repents and trusts Jesus as his or her savior! Admittedly, not all sorrow has ended. Although Jesus initiated his kingdom at his birth, he has not fully established it. However, he promises to return and to fully reign. Today we look forward to the complete fulfillment of God’s kingdom when all of the promises that Zephaniah spoke of will be reality. This Christmas let us rejoice that Christ has come to save and that he comes again to reign!        

Joy to the world! The Lord is come
Let earth receive her King!
Let every heart prepare Him room
And heaven and nature sing
And heaven and nature sing
And heaven, and heaven and nature sing