Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Love Your Internet Neighbor

“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” – John 13:35
The internet and social media has given this generation the greatest platform of communication the world has ever known. In seconds, anyone’s message can circle the globe and potentially reach millions of people. The potential is mind blowing. Potential for great good or great evil. A tweet can impact countless lives and have endless unintended consequences. While I love the freedom of this platform, I’ve become increasingly weary of how irresponsible and irreverent people can be with it. Especially among professing Christians. Apparently, there’s little thought about how the biblical principles of communication for saints applies to the public forum. If an unbeliever had to determine the validity of our profession of faith based on the way we talk to and about one another on the internet, would they know that we are Christ’s disciples by our love for one another. I’ve been very introspective about this recently and I’ve asked myself several questions.
  • 1.    Can I trust what I read on the internet? The amount of misinformation about me and others that I’ve heard in local ministry settings is of ridiculous proportions. How much more on platforms like the internet where accountability is at its lowest level. I’ve become much slower to believe anything I see online before I fact check it. Error is epidemic.
  • 2.    Just because I learn something on the internet, do I have the right to repeat it? I’ve squashed gossip when it’s come to me personally because it would be inappropriate or sinful to share it with others. Why am I so anxious to “share” it on Facebook or retweet it on Twitter?
  • 3.    Is the commandment to go to my brother and communicate offenses “between you and him alone” (Matt. 18:15) not binding on the internet? Why am I privy to so much information that should only be discussed between the parties involved? Christians should take great pause before airing private business for the world to see. Biblically, only the people appropriately involved in an issue should be included in discussing it.
  • 4.    Are we lacking knowledge in our zeal to “confront” or “expose” error or sin? The internet has become the place for great crusades against error. Everyone seems obliged to inform the world publicly of every error they learn about. Heresy and sin should be exposed, but only through biblical processes and I’m not usually part of that process.
  • 5.    If a scandal goes public, does that give me the right to insert myself into the conversation? What if the scandal had no business going public? As enticing as it is to add my two cents worth (probably less than that on the internet), it’s probably best for a wise man to hold his tongue or twitter finger.
  • 6.    If someone is famous or well known, are they open game or am I obligated to bypass the biblical process to go straight to the public lynching phase? It seems that the more well known someone is, the less restraint is given to my opinions, posts, replies, retweets, etc.
  • 7.    Does this passage apply to words posted or tweeted? “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” – Matthew 12:36-37. Hmm.

I’m learning to take pause before I participate. Will you?

Friday, February 2, 2018

Disciplined by Grace

“…train yourself for godliness;” – 1 Timothy 4:7 (ESV)

     I enjoy a great musician. Especially a guitarist. I envy the ability to play the guitar with the freedom and passion that great guitarists do. However, I am not a great guitarist. The reason is a lack of discipline. Playing the guitar will mean learning totally new hand and finger movements, almost like learning to walk. You will need to strengthen hand muscles that you didn't even know existed, and on top of that, you'll have to learn very precise, coordinated finger movements as well. The only way to learn these movements, improve your hand muscle memory, and really progress at playing the guitar, is to practice regularly. That takes discipline. With about 10,000 hours of practice you’ll be able to play like Rodrigo y Gabriela. That’s a lot of discipline, but what fun it must be to play with that kind of freedom.

     Many people long to be godly but lack the discipline to reach their desires. 1 Timothy 4:7 tells us to “train” ourselves to be godly. The word train means to exercise like an athlete trains himself to compete. God has given us certain disciplines that we must train ourselves in so that we can walk in godliness. Bible study, prayer, worship, fellowship, evangelism, service, giving, and learning are all things that we should discipline ourselves to do if we are going to grow in godliness. While it is true that God has given us the Holy Spirit to empower us for righteousness, it is the Spirit’s words that instruct us to train ourselves.  There is no automatic rout to godliness. You must start by disciplining yourself in the power of God’s Spirit to participate in the disciplines God has given us that lead to us being godly. Start today setting aside time to practice. Just like learning the guitar. Set aside an hour a day to spend in the Word and prayer. Out of that you can grow in the other disciplines until you walk in the freedom of godliness. No progress will be made without discipline.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Making Men Isn't For Wimps

I wake up each day with a tinge of regret. My devotional time inevitably includes a time of confession and repentance concerning my shortcomings as a man, especially as a father. My kids are grown and I have a good relationship with each of them, but I'm often reminded of the many things I could have done better as their father to prepare them for adulthood and God's calling for their life. However, God's grace is sufficient and His mercy endures forever. I see fatherhood as a life long calling and not just an 18 year duty. My role as father changes, but the responsibility to my kids doesn't go away. So I press on by God's grace, hoping to disciple my kids for the rest of their lives in the appropriate ways that come with each phase of our growth. Each phase comes with unique opportunities, struggles, and victories.

This past Christmas I bought my two sons Stephen Mansfield's Book of Manly Men and asked them to go through it with me. We share texts each week of things we're learning and being challenged by. I wish I had read this book years ago and would recommend to fathers that you take your sons through it. Actually, it would be a good book to go through every year with your sons. In a culture that is absolutely baffled over the roles and responsibilities that come with God's design for men and women, this book is a breath of fresh air. True manhood has been destroyed in our culture. If YOU don't answer the call to recover it with yourself and your sons, it will be lost for good by the next generation.

Martin Luther once said, "Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved, and to be steady on all the battlefield beside is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point." The battle is raging against manhood and you must come to the front. If you don't have Kindle Reader, get it today when you order this book. The battle is raging. Men, come to the front!

Please share in the reply any books on manhood that have influenced your life.