One Lone Voice

OneLoneVoice

One of my daughters decided to comment on someone’s outspoken support of Friday’s Supreme Court decision on one of her social media accounts. She was polite and kind and truthful, using God’s Word as her guide.

What she got was–

HATE.

Malicious, hostile, cruel hate.

I find it so extremely interesting that the cry is to love, love, love. But somehow that love does not extend to those who disagree. No matter how lovingly and gently you state your disagreement.

I want to unequivocally state here that I am not against people who support gay marriage. I know and care deeply about several people who live gay lifestyles. I do not have to agree with you to love you.

Somehow we have grown just a bit confused about what love really is.

Love and tolerance are the words of the day, but those two words that are thrown about by this group are not extended to Christians who simply want to practice their faith. In my mind, the vicious attacks made upon Jesus Christ and His followers are a great confirmation that we are on the right path. Few others are maligned the way we are these days.

The coming trials and persecution are going to give us many opportunities. We are going to be able to share Christ’s love and the Gospel with those who are confused and hurting. And we will be used by God in a mighty way if the Gospel is lived out in our lives like never before.

But are we brave enough for this daunting task before us?

Since the Bible Challenge began in January, I have been writing about what we are reading on Thursdays. But on Saturday I read something in my Bible reading that is so fitting— so pertinent— so applicable— to what we are going to face soon in this nation as true believers that I just had to write about it today.

In I Kings 22, we read of a man named Micaiah. As a little background, we read first of Ahab and Jehoshaphat discussing whether or not to join forces against the King of Syria. To confirm their decision, they decide to ask the prophets of the land. All 400 men– four hundred men who claim to be men of God– tell Ahab that he will experience victory. There is not even one voice of dissension.

But there is one man by the name of Micaiah, who has not been asked. Ahab even states that he hates to ask this man of God anything because he always gives him an answer he doesn’t like! (I Kings 22:8) But with Jehoshaphat’s encouragement, Micaiah is brought before the two kings.

Micaiah chooses to speak truth, rather than tickle the Kings’ ears, even though he is going against the message of the 400 men who call themselves men of God. The truth of the matter is that Ahab will not return home from that battle alive. Micaiah bravely shares this bad news with the King. He is the one lone voice of truth.

In reaction to this unpleasant news, the King throws Micaiah into prison.

A few days later, Ahab is killed in battle.

There is so much to learn from this biblical account, in light of what we are facing in America today. Here are a few of the lessons that came to mind–

1. We need to speak truth, no matter how many people disagree with us. Our truth does not come from visions and supernatural messages anymore but from the Word of God–the inspired and inerrant Book that God has protected throughout the ages. It doesn’t matter if the whole world disagrees with us– we still speak the truth as it is presented in the Bible.

2. We speak truth, knowing full well to do so could be at our own peril. Micaiah landed in prison because he chose to spoke the truth. Are we prepared to lose our freedoms, our reputations, our jobs, our comforts, our wealth, our friends, and our families? We are moving into a strange new land. It is not the land of our grandparents. And to follow Christ is going to mean sacrifice. Are we ready for this? Even as I write this, I realize that to do this will require the powerful work of the Holy Spirit in my life, giving me the courage and grace I need. Because when I think about this in my own strength, I tremble. Will I be strong enough to bear what’s coming?

3. We cannot alter our message to please the hearers. Micaiah could have tried to soften the blow and just hedged around, but he did not. While he wasn’t mean or unkind, he was forthright. If you recall, our ultimate example, Jesus, was very much the same way.

4. The majority does not represent God. The 400 men who told Ahab to expect victory were very obviously wrong. The majority can be– and often is– wrong! I am not sure what it is about peer pressure, but humans have this strange “herd” mentality where they just believe they need to follow the crowd. But the crowd is rarely right. Micaiah stood against the crowd. And so should we.

5. So-called revelations are not trust-worthy. These 400 prophets claimed to have special revelation from God. But they were lying. Just because someone says that God gave them a message doesn’t mean He did! These men were either lying to please the King or had been given a false message from demonic sources. Whatever it was, they were not trustworthy and we should take a lesson from this. With so many running around saying they have heard a special message from God–and particularly if it goes against God’s Word–we can know that they have not had a message from God. It may have come from their own selfish thoughts or from a demonic spirit but it certainly did not come from God.

6. The consequences of sin are real and Jesus is the only way, no matter what we choose to believe.  Ahab chose to believe that the majority was telling the truth but he was still dead by end of the day. Have you ever heard someone say that “whatever you believe is true for you?” I do not understand how a logical, thinking person could be brainwashed into believing such garbage, but most of our young people today do believe this. (This fact gives great proof to the brainwashings of our public education system and higher institutes of learning, in my opinion.) Truth is truth. It cannot be swayed or changed or twisted. And it certainly isn’t going to bow the knee to my whims and desires. Ahab was set to die and his choice to not believe Micaiah’s message would not change the outcome. And so we, too, are going to pay a very real price for our sin unless we come to the Savior. We can choose to believe this or choose not to believe this but, in the end, it doesn’t change the truth.

Fellow believers, we live in a frightening time. While many of our brothers and sisters in other lands have faced persecution and hard times for following Christ, we have lived in our comfortable homes, freely worshipping and sharing our faith. But the storm that was off in the distance for such a long time has now settled in upon us. Oh, it may not affect you directly…today. And you will be able to fool yourself for a few more months, or if we are fortunate, a few more years. But I encourage you to get in the Word of God and to grow your knowledge of His great strength and help in the time of trials. I encourage you to deepen your relationship with God and to grow a strong prayer life. Prepare to be the one lone voice in your churches, your families, your work places.

Because it’s coming.

It’s just a matter of time now.

 

Look at Me

indexThink about your last Facebook post. Or Tweet. Or Instagram Photo.

What was it about? Who was it about? What was the intention of the post?

Chances are, for 99%+ of us, it was about ourselves. Most likely, it was a post designed to make ourselves look good and impress everyone and to say, “Look at me!”

In fact, the word “selfie”, a relatively new concept, is now familiar to us all. We are that into ourselves.

Of course, there are a good many of us who simply want to share the happenings in our lives with our true friends and families. We may be excited about our new hair cut or a new job. Or we may just love  the cool shot we got while we stood with the flaming sunset in the background and want to share it.

So how do we know if someone is posting because they are self-centered?

That’s not the issue here. It doesn’t really matter if we know the difference about anyone else. That is between God and them.

It’s much more important that we examine our own online posts and behavior. Why are we posting what we are posting?

Is it for attention? Or praise? Or our own personal glory? Am I trying to make my life look better than it is?

And, with so many of us trying so hard to portray a perfect and enviable life, many of us inevitably feel the emotion of envy welling up inside us as we scan through newsfeeds of “perfect” families and vacations.

Naturally, people are sharing the best of their lives online. If someone’s perception of my life is based solely on my Facebook page, it looks pretty darn perfect. And, really, I have been blessed with a great family and have enjoyed some pretty wonderful events in my life. And I am excited to share them with the people who are really my friends (like in real life, as well as on Facebook). But if someone doesn’t really know me, they may think that I have the perfect life.

The thing is: I don’t.

And nobody else does, either. Sure, some of us have tougher lives than others at certain times. But life throws all of us curve balls. None of us are exempt.

We need to enjoy the fun photos of our family, friends, and classmates for what they are — a snapshot of the good in their lives. Let’s be happy for them– for they have struggles with their relationships and health and finances, just like you.

But I guess one of my saddest observations about the online world is that, while we are often saying “Look at me!” we are rarely saying “Look at God!”

So many of us claim to be Christians and yet so few of our posts and tweets have anything to do with God. He is supposedly our reason for living and, yet, we never talk about Him in the most public place available to us.

Why is that?

My guess is that many of us just don’t want to be labeled “one of those” in this day and age where spirituality is very cool but true Christianity is definitely not. Others of us just don’t want the hassle of the unkind or questioning comments from unsaved friends and family that are sure to follow any post about our faith. And some of us are just that self-centered we don’t even think of posting about anything –or anyone– other than ourselves.

It is such a constant battle to keep God number one in all areas of our lives– even our online world. For me, too. I’m not pointing my finger at any of you, because I am too busy thinking about my own life in this area.

I can’t help but wonder what the Facebook pages of former godly men and women would have looked like, if this online world had been available to them?

Would Apostle Paul have plastered shots of himself as he traveled?

Or would Jonathan Edwards have posted family pictures?

Would A.W. Tozer’s page been filled with sports trivia?

Or Susannah Wesley’s page covered with photos of her grandchildren?

Of course, none of these things are innately wrong to post in any way. My question is — if we are so willing to post about our travels and families and hobbies — why are we so unwilling to post about our God?

And, look, I’m not talking about hypocrisy here. That’s a whole other subject, is it not? If we are going to put quotes and Bible verses and Christian song lyrics on Facebook, it won’t sit very well with those who know us, if we aren’t living the matching lifestyle.

Ah, so much to think about in this online world– a world completely unknown to us not that long ago. It brings up all kinds of questions and dilemmas and quandaries. But it also provides us a wonderful opportunity to stay in touch with long-lost friends and far-flung family. This is a tremendous blessing former generations did not enjoy. But, as with all blessings, there are some pitfalls, too. In this world, as in all areas of our lives, let’s desire to live out the words of scripture–

I Corinthians 10:31 Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

 

 

 

Candy Crush Madness

ccsaga

It all started with an innocent question asked by a friend.

“Do you play Candy Crush?”

I don’t like to waste a lot of time playing iPad games, but I do enjoy a half hour in the evening to wind down and I was in need of something new and fresh. I thought I’d check into it.

At first, I sailed through the levels, enjoying the challenge of moving the little candies into rows of three. It reminded me of the original Bejeweled game, which I loved and no longer exists (to my knowledge). And so, about a week ago, Candy Crush became my game of choice.

As I moved up in levels, it became increasingly harder to pass. And if you failed so many times, a message would pop up, telling you that you would have to wait for so many minutes before playing again.

But, lo and behold, this could be avoided by paying for extra lives. Or extra treats to help beat the levels. Only $.99.

Now, I like to play games but I’ll be darned if I am paying anything to beat a level. That seems almost dumber than gambling. At least in gambling there is a slight chance to come away with more than what you put in. Apparently there are plenty of people who do pay, however. A website claims that Candy Crush makers rake in almost a million per day from people who pay to play.

So, if I wasn’t going to pay, how was I going to beat this thing? Well, at first I figured out that if I changed the date on my iPad, I could continue playing. It would fool the game into thinking that my “Life” stash was full again. Great. Now I could just play.

But, alas, I got to a very, very difficult  level. I just kept playing and playing the same board, all the while telling myself how utterly ridiculous I was to waste time on this. But, finally, I passed that level and then went onto the next level. I passed that one after only a few tries.

And then I got to one that truly appeared impossible.

I kept playing and playing and the screen, offering the little treats for only $.99 became more and more appealing. Just once wouldn’t hurt, right?

Failed again.

Surely, I can get this. I continued to waste time trying to beat a level that I am still not sure it was even possible to beat without paying anything.

And then I realized something.

I had been fully sucked in. And I decided to escape while I still could. (How in the world would I explain Candy Crush charges to my husband??)

And, so I exited the game, deleted it from my iPad, and chose to move on with a more productive use of my time.

But my time spent on that game showed me one thing.

It showed me just how we get sucked in to sinful habits.

You see, at first it doesn’t cost much. There is a great deal of satisfaction and no payment–

~One cocktail or beer relaxes us and helps with our conversation skills.

~A few minutes looking or listening or thinking about something ungodly doesn’t seem to hurt a thing and gratifies something fleshly inside of us.

~A few minutes at a gaming table is all great fun.

~An evening spent playing video games is a fun evening with friends.

~Eating a pastry that is loaded with calories just melts in your mouth.

That first taste doesn’t cost us anything and the rewards are great. But, if we aren’t careful–if we aren’t self-controlled–we can get caught up in the rewards and we need more and more to yield the same feelings of satisfaction. That is what addiction is and it can happen with almost anything.

I think it is clear that there isn’t any sin in having a drink or a delicious pastry. There is no sin in spending the evening playing video games (if it is a video game that is not dishonoring to God in any way). But if we become compelled to have more and more, we will get caught in a web that becomes almost  impossible to escape from.

Self-Control. A highly under-rated character trait that has almost disappeared from our world. I can tell you that it is one that I struggle with daily.

But if we don’t cultivate self-control in our lives–if we aren’t even aware of the battle– we will, at the very least, end up wasting our time on unimportant, trivial things, or, at the worst, end up destroying our family, our health, or our very lives.

And, so it is good-bye to Candy Crush for me. It is so not worth it. Glad I found out before I wasted too many of the few precious hours that make up my life.  Now…to apply that same philosophy to a few other areas of my life that need some work!

 

The Danger of the Internet

498072_28853113Did you think I was going to talk about pornography when you read the title? Pornography definitely is a growing and serious danger in this culture where absolutes barely exist in the mind of most and the internet make it very, very accessible. It has destroyed thousands–maybe tens of thousands–of marriages.

Or maybe you read the title and you thought I was going to talk about the danger of online buying and how now, at the press of a button, we can buy almost anything our heart desires, as long as we have a big enough credit line. This, too, is a danger and we need to be on guard to be good stewards of the material possessions God has put in our care.

But I think one of the biggest dangers and most deadly for many Christians is the temptation to compare. You see, when I was growing up, I didn’t know (or need to know) what was going on in anybody’s life outside my family and close circle of friends. Oh, I might have heard about someone’s exciting job promotion or dramatic weight loss through the grapevine, but it wasn’t part of my everyday existence.

But, alas, came the birth of Facebook and suddenly people are posting all that is good about themselves. We want to present our best side to the public and so most of us post about the good things we are doing and the exciting, positive happenings of our lives. And, of course, this is the natural thing to do, and I am not saying it is bad (please be sure to understand that).

Blogs and Pinterest are also danger zones in this temptation for comparison. We see the amazing, incredible creations of others or the business accomplishments they have had or the homestead they have created or the amazing interior decorating or even the huge amount of followers they have and we grow dissatisfied and envious.

It is very, very tempting to compare and become unhappy when we dwell on what we can’t do or don’t have. We have to be so careful to keep a proper perspective if we are investing our time in viewing these sites, because envying isn’t doing anyone any good (and it is also a sin! Exodus 20:17).

God has given each of us certain gifts and talents. He has given us each different body types. We have been blessed with different types of families. We have different tastes in style, food, and hobbies.

Some husbands are romantic. Others are not.

Some kids do fabulous things for Mother’s Day. Others do not.

Some people have the resources to take fantastic vacations. Others do not.

Some people are naturally thin. Others are not.

Some have kids who always win awards. Others do not.

Some have amazing, interesting jobs. Others do not.

Some are amazingly talented and crafty. Others are not.

I have occasionally found myself envying someone on the screen. I have to catch myself and make an intentional decision to be happy for them. This is not always easy for me (am I alone here?) as I try to tell myself that they certainly have their own struggles and that the grass is not always greener on the other side. And, as a Christian, it is my job to rejoice with them! But sometimes it is hard. Especially if it is an area I am struggling in. God continues to work in my heart in this area.

You see, it is a heart issue. We need to learn to be content in all circumstances (Philippians 4:11) and then, and only then, can we visit Facebook or Pinterest or any other site with an open heart to learn something or to rejoice with others, instead of being filled with that dreaded sense of envy and jealousy.

 

This is linked up here :)

What is your phone voice?

1353144_47874028 (1)Yesterday, I called a water park to ask a question before purchasing tickets online. When I finally got to a real person (don’t you just hate those recorded voices that make it take a zillion years to reach a human?) I was pleasantly surprised to hear a cheerful voice pick up the phone. I proceeded to ask my question and a couple of others, since she was so friendly, and then hung up, very pleasantly surprised at the conversation and given a great first impression of this park I had never been to.

 I compare this to a couple of local companies I work with for certain things. When I call to place an order, I always hope that I don’t get a certain person on the phone. I know that if they answer, they will make me feel like I am inconveniencing them by placing an order. I will get off the phone determined to find a new company from which to order. Thankfully, there is another person who works in each of these companies who makes up for the rudeness and keeps it bearable to work with them. I can say unequivocally, however, that if they would lose the one contact that I have that is friendly and kind, I would find another place to take my business.

We keep this in mind as we run our own landscaping office. Thankfully, we have two of the sweetest, kindest secretaries you will ever meet and if you talk to them on the phone you will immediately get the impression that they are so glad you called. Even when someone calls to berate or criticize, they manage to keep their cool. This is nothing we have done as bosses, but is a reflection of the Lord’s work in their lives.

So what does this have to do with you? I think sometimes we forget the importance of the first impression we give when we answer any phone. Whether it is our home phone, our cell phone, or the phone at our place of employment, we have a responsibility to be an extension of the love of Jesus.

We immediately have a positive start to any relationship when we answer the phone with grace and kindness. And we immediately have a negative beginning when we answer with annoyance or impatience. We can make someone feel like they are important or we can make them feel insignificant. It is our choice.

What is your phone voice like? When a stranger hangs up the phone after a conversation with you, what is their impression? In this world of technology I think we sometimes forget that our kindness and love must extend to our phone conversations, our texts, and our Facebook messages. Let’s show the love of Jesus Christ in all aspects of our lives.

 

My journey with CQTS

mobile

It all started over a year ago.  Maybe it even goes further back than that. When you find out you have a condition, it is hard to know when it really started.

I think it started when I purchased my iPhone and downloaded a dictionary.

Suddenly, my iPhone seemed a necessary study tool to have by me during quiet time.

And then my iPhone was joined by the very helpful iPad with all of its wonderful Bible Study tools.  How amazing to have maps and commentaries and Bible dictionaries at my finger tips all for a few dollars.

And, so, I settled into a nice little pattern of having these tools beside me.

Until one day I realized: I had a classic case of CQTS:

Compromised Quiet Time Syndrome

While these two little gadgets did help me with Bible study, the disadvantages were many. You see, each time I would hear a little ding that I had a text, I would click it…immediately. If I saw a little notification number, I would feel the need to check it…immediately. Until one day, I realized that these helpful little gadgets had become very large hindrances in my walk with God.

Basically, I was telling God to hold because I had something more important to do.

I had spent at least the last five years telling my kids not to text while studying –it’s too distracting. I knew the danger of having a phone nearby. And, yet, here I was, doing what I had told my kids not to do. But instead of studying science or math, I was studying God’s Word. How pathetic was that??

And so I knew I had to find the cure for this condition. And guess what? The cure is quite simple, really–

Leave my iPhone and iPad on silent and far away from me during quiet time.

That’s it.

And so my healing from this syndrome continues. Some days, I forget to put my phone on silent and I can’t resist checking it. And some days, it is more difficult than others not to compulsively check what’s going on in the rest of the world and I fail. But I am definitely moving the right direction.

I know there are many who can’t relate AT ALL to this, but I am quite certain there are at least a few out there who CAN. I have seen the phones that barely leave the hand or the pocket, even in forty-somethings. We have become a culture that has put our texting and internet life before face-to-face relationships. I had become a person who had put those things even before God.  I am quite ashamed to admit that.

But, thankfully, my God forgives me (over and over and over again) and I am healing. I am glad to say I am better today than I was a few months ago.

And I realize: iPhones and iPads can be wonderful tools–but they are tools, not gods. It’s time many of us stop idolizing our gadgets and start making our relationships with God and people our top priority.

 

Basic Principles for Digital & Social Media

Social Media Collage

Yes, I realize it’s Friday and not a normal posting day. However, I came upon this today and I just couldn’t wait until Wednesday to post it. This is good stuff! I found it in The Berean Call Newsletter. What a great reminder!

Basic Principles for Digital & Social Media

Excerpts from: Biblically Handling Technology and Social Media by Biblical Discipleship Ministries

 The speed at which technology has advanced in just the last decade is incredible! We are literally reeling with all the “new.” With so many innovations happening so quickly, it is easy to carelessly accept what is going on around us without mentally taking a step back and evaluating our Christian response to the times in which we live. In 1 Chronicles 12:32, the Bible talks about how the children of Issachar . . . were men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do. We should accept this challenge to understand the times in which we live and learn how we, as Christians, should respond to our culture in a way that reflects a biblical worldview….

 The danger in mindlessly copying the world’s ways or responses is that we can easily be led into carelessness, foolishness, and sinfulness, often even becoming enslaved. Where are you today? Have you become a slave of texting, Facebook, YouTube, a blog (or other people’s blogs; maybe you are a blogaholic!)? Or rather, have you learned how to make these cultural trends your servants–making sure that you remain their master? Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? (Rom. 6:16).

 All that God has provided, including these devices, can be tools for ministry. Tools usually have an intended use. As believers, our intended purpose is to be focused on doing all we do to further His kingdom. We are His ambassadors (2 Cor. 5:20); therefore, let us use whatever we have to serve Him well, giving no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed (2 Cor. 6:3)….

 Consider the following principles to help you better glorify God and thus be a good ambassador for Him.

Don’t Be Rude – Show Respect For Others

One way that you can be distinctively different from the world while using any kind of device is to think of others more highly than yourself (Phil. 2:3-4). When God’s people make the conscious effort to stop putting “me” first, they are less apt to be rude and more able to think of others’ needs and feelings above their own. We have to remember that it can become uncomfortable for a person to try to communicate with someone who is constantly checking a phone or texts, using an iPod or Bluetooth ear bud, or is unable to look away from her Facebook page for even a minute to look directly at the one who is speaking to her. Being inconsiderate (rude) with our devices and social media sources can be especially discouraging for those who are less involved with the newest electronic and digital trends (e.g., those who didn’t grow up in the technology generation–many elderly and even some middle-aged people). Don’t allow yourself to use anything in a way that could make others feel inferior….

 [The Scriptures say]: Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself (Mk. 12:31); andFinally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous (1 Pet. 3:8)….The Lord Jesus always treated people as important-more important than Himself. We need to be concerned about practicing the principles He has given us for loving others (see 1 Cor. 13:4-8). Specifically remember the principle that love is not self-seeking. We must train ourselves to die to our selfish desires as the Apostle Paul encourages in 1 Corinthians 15:31: I die daily….

Don’t Be Excessive

Remember the Fruit of the Spirit and exercise temperance (self-control) (Gal. 5:22-24)! Don’t forget to let all things be done decently and in order (1 Cor. 14:40). Take a minute to re-evaluate your life and consider how much time you are spending in the Word, witnessing, serving (within our families, churches, or communities), compared to the time spent on a phone, MacBook, iPad, MySpace, blogspot, video game, or any Internet activity.

Don’t Be Possessive Or Too Dependent

Remember these Biblical admonitions: Turn ye not unto idols, nor make to yourselves molten gods: I am the LORD your God (Lev. 19:4). Ye shall make you no idols (Lev. 26:1). Consider taking certain days to “fast” from your devices or media, replacing that time with a renewed focus on improving your relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ so that you do not allow idols into your life.

Don’t Be Secretive

If there is something about your text messages, voice messages, phone numbers on your call log, song selections on your iPod or Mp3, content of your social network or blog, YouTube selections, or your Internet browsing choices that would embarrass you if someone in an authority position (parent, grandparent, spouse, church leader, friend) in your life knew about it, or that you would become defensive concerning, it is a very good sign that it is something that would not honor the Lord (see Prov. 10:17)….

 Each day when you pick up your phone or portable media player or log into your social networking account, ask God to help you use them in ways that will please Him. Allowing a parent or spouse to have the password to your personal media or entertainment options will help keep you accountable. Applying scriptural principles to your use of technology-based systems and social media is a great way to guard yourself from being in bondage to them. But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage? (Gal. 4:9).

Communicate With A Purpose

Incorporating “yourself” into your social network or blog in a God-glorifying manner for example could be posting that you had specifically prayed for something and the Lord answered. Instead of talking about your achievements, talk about your latest ministry or witnessing adventure, mission trip, or family day. Share about the blessings and the challenges that the Lord gave you through those activities. Talk about the people you spend time with and the character qualities that you like in them. Use media options to glorify the Lord by having a true meaning to your posts. Ask the Lord to give you a redeeming purpose for your blog, Facebook, and YouTube posts, or personal websites. It is important to once again stress that we as Christians need to be distinctively (yes, even radically) different in the way that we use whatever the world promotes or the culture deems acceptable. The strength of the choice is in your hands. By God’s grace, you do not have to allow anything to have power over you (2 Cor. 12:9-10).