How to make sure your blog is more social media than anti-social media

[Internet etiquette is always worth talking about, so here’s an archived post on what you can expect here at my place.]

In the movie School of Rock, Jack Black plays a rocker in between gigs who cons his way into a job teaching kids at an exclusive academy. Instead of math, science and history, he teaches them to rock. When he finds out one of them has written a song he immediately asks the kid to play a few bars. Then he tells everyone to grab their instruments.

“What are you doing?”

“We’re gonna learn your song.”

“But why ?”

“That’s what bands do, man.
Play each other’s songs.
You got lyrics? Hook me up.”

Today I’m hoping to say something as straight forward and constructive as that movie dialog:

posting and hostingAfter all, this blog has a purpose and that purpose is to glorify God and encourage people.

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. (John 13:34-35.)

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds … . (Hebrews 10:24.)

So please, if you wrote something related to a post here at my place feel free to link your post.

It’s a great way to spur one another on in God’s love.

It’s what we do.

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Slide text: If I publish a blog, tweet or Facebook post and you want to leave a comment with a link to a post you wrote on a related topic, please do. We need to be here for each other. That’s why it’s called social media and not anti-social media.

 

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I’m Positively Spectacular, And So Are You!

Being Spectacular

Seriously, now. What does someone else’s label mean anyway?

I trust in God, so why should I be afraid?
    What can mere mortals do to me? (Psalm 56:11.)

There is only one person who puts a label on you that counts. It’s the label Jesus put on you.

I have called you friends … . (John 15:15.)

You are a friend of God’s.

How’s that for a label? It’s spectacular.

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[Slide text: Any time someone tries to label me, I choose to take it in the most positive way possible. “A spectacular failure? Why yes, I am spectacular. Thank you!”]

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Sometimes Following the Bible Can Make You a Real Jerk

Not everything in the Bible is meant to be carried out. In fact, there are some things in the Bible you are definitely not supposed to do.

How can I say something like that? After all, you know I’ve read 2 Timothy 3:16-17 –

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

I believe every word of that passage. I also believe that doing some of the things the Bible says is not only stupid but foolish, and if I did them I’d be a real jerk. In fact, I have done them and I have been a real jerk.

Here’s one from the Book of Job, the words of Zophar.

My troubled thoughts prompt me to answer
    because I am greatly disturbed. (Job 20:2.)

Sounds good so far, doesn’t it? If something is troubling, talking it out can be the right thing to do. But then we get to the next verse.

I hear a rebuke that dishonors me,
    and my understanding inspires me to reply. (Job 20:3.)

Zophar sees injustice and must speak out, but who is the victim of this injustice? Zophar. And being a man of great understanding – understanding so great that it inspires his reply! – Zophar must speak in his own defense. As the rest of Job 20 shows, Zophar’s defense is an all-out attack on Job’s character.

What a jerk.

Stupidly Following Scripture

Taking Zophar’s words as an example of appropriate biblical behavior would be stupid. It’s not that we should write these words out of the Bible. There they are for all to read. But Zophar’s  words are not recorded as a guide.

Or are they?

They are a guide for what not to do. That’s part of what it means in 2 Timothy 3:16 – “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching.” Every word of the Bible is there for a reason. Understanding that reason takes discernment. So what is the reason for Zophar’s words?

Every word of the BibleOne tool for exercising discernment is studying all of Scripture, not allowing words to stand in isolation. Sometimes that takes effort, and sometimes it is as plain as day. Zophar’s words fall into both categories.

First the plain as day part – at the end of the Book of Job, God clearly rebukes Zophar in the clearest words possible.

I am angry with you … . (Job 42:7.)

If God is angry at Zophar, it’s plain we need to rethink anything Zophar has said to see where he went wrong. This is where it takes effort to see what other passages might apply. Here’s one –

If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. (Luke 6:29.)

Zophar felt the insult like a slap on the cheek, and in turn felt compelled to answer back. That doesn’t fit in with Jesus’ teaching.

Here’s another that’s on point –

Do not say, “I’ll pay you back for this wrong!”
    Wait for the Lord, and he will avenge you.(Proverbs 20:22.)

In light of these passages, it’s clear Zophar didn’t have as great an understanding as he thought. Sure his understanding might have inspired him to reply to the insult, but it’s actually a matter of not having enough understanding that drove his actions. That’s why this passage is in the Bible. That’s the lesson we are to learn from Zophar.

And that’s the lesson I still need to learn so I don’t end up being a real jerk.

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Why the internet is wearing me down, and what I’m doing about it

words about the Bible 2

Sarah Beals posted today an insightful reflection on the influence the internet has been having on her. It’s personal and yet I found myself nodding along in agreement. She closes with resources and tips for finding ways to be built up rather than worn down online, including some Bible study tools (hence her quote in that meme above, which is taken from her point about not allowing commentaries to become a substitute for Scripture itself).

Her post begins:

I have to be honest. This year, I’ve grown tired of the online world. I’m increasingly aware of the “rudiments of the world” that seem to stick into my heart and mind by what I see on Facebook, the news, and other social media and it’s wearing me down.

Read the rest at Why the internet is wearing me down, and what I’m doing about it and you’ll likely find yourself agreeing with just about every line.

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The Secret to Housework and Hospitality

housework-600x472The company I like to keep understands this completely.

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The Ungodly Burden of Paying It Forward

In That One Time I Didn’t Pay It Forward, Trillia Newbell faced a quandary:

I was in the drive-thru at a Starbucks and when I rolled up to the window, the barista informed me that the driver ahead of me had paid for my drink. … I paused, looked at her and admitted, “It’s so interesting. I never really know what to do in this situation.”

As Trillia explains in her post, whether to pass along the kindness by automatically paying for the next person in line for coffee is not as simple as you might think.

I … thought about the day before when I was faced with someone who was clearly in financial need and it hit me, if I can learn to steward my finances well and pray for these opportunities, perhaps I can serve those in need in greater ways.

Trillia gives wise counsel on how to be prepared to give to those in need. Praying for the opportunities means asking for God to make you ready to act on the opportunities he gives you. There’s no sense asking for God-given opportunities if you’re just going to let them pass you by.

The Ungracious Burdens of Pay-It-Forward

Pay-it-forward is not always a blessing. Like many opportunities of grace it can become a burden instead. Trillia found it in her own experience: does accepting the kindness of the person ahead of her in the coffee line mean she is now obligated to pay for the person behind her?

After all, that’s how pay-it-forward is supposed to work: you receive from one person and you help the next. But if that’s what’s required then the pay-it-forward philosophy becomes more burden than blessing, like the philosophies warned about here:

See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ. (Colossians 2:8.)

Is there anything more deceptive than being told you are receiving a gift only to find out there were strings attached?

“Someone just bought your coffee for you. They said it’s their gift to you.”

“Wow, that’s nice. Thanks!”

“Now they expect you to pay for someone else’s coffee.”

“Hm … tell me again how this is a ‘gift’?”

It’s not. It’s an empty gesture built on a deceptive philosophy..

Getting and Giving and the Goodness of God

Blessings of grace come without requirements. They are gifts given with no preconditions attached, not even the precondition that they be handed on to the next person.* Yet there are principles that guide us in giving and receiving. Jesus made it clear:

It is more blessed to give than to receive.(Acts 20:35.)

When Paul quoted Jesus in Acts 20, it was in the context of using material wealth to care for others:

I have not coveted anyone’s silver or gold or clothing. You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions. In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:33-35.)

Paul’s actions followed the command of Jesus to his original followers: “Freely you have received; freely give.” (Matthew 10:8.) And as a group of God’s people later learned, “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:7.)

You have freely received and you are to freely give, not under compulsion, not reluctantly, but cheerfully. No strings attached.

Freely Receive, Freely Give

So don’t let anyone force you to comply with a pay-it-forward philosophy, a philosophy that looks good on the surface but can turn a blessing into a burden. If someone unexpectedly buys you coffee, enjoy. And if your heart prompts you to buy the next person’s cup of coffee, enjoy the good cheer that comes from that.

Cheers.

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*You might be thinking of the parable Jesus told about the king’s servant who not only failed to give generously but also failed to receive graciously. (Matthew 18:21-35.) In this story the servant owed his king a debt he could never repay, the king forgave the entire debt, and then the servant went to another person and demanded repayment of a very small personal debt. The king heard about it and was so furious he reinstated the original debt, throwing the servant into prison. But that parable is about forgiveness among God’s people, not how we are to give generously of our possessions to those in need. Not that it has no application whatsoever, but it is not directly about the pay-it-forward problems noted in this post.

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Not good enough for God? Don’t get the wrong impression.

Good Enough for God***

Slide text: You’re not under the impression you’re not good enough to serve God, are you? God uses proud people and greedy people and hurt people and depressed people and all sorts of other people to build his kingdom. He can certainly use you.

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A Cautionary Tale on Decaf

decaf-caffeine

“Don’t be decaf in a world that needs caffeine.” Lisa K. Deam

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Top 5 Pick-Up Lines for Summer Romance – Results Guaranteed!

[From the archives.]

The warm weather is coming and many people are hoping for hot summer romance. I’ve got just the thing to make your dreams come true with these guaranteed* pick-up lines.

  1. “Baby, the only thing that could top your beautiful body is a toupee.”
  2. “Has anyone ever told you your breath smells delicious … like bacony-goodness delicious?”
  3. “If you tell me your measurements in inches I can convert them to the metric system in my head.”
  4. “My idea of fun is you, me and my parents at an all you can eat buffet. When can you pick us up?”
  5. “Are you a famous director, because I’d like to follow your directions to your house. No seriously, I need directions to your house. To pick you up for a date, of course. What do you mean, ‘What date?’ Come on, just give me the directions. OK, OK, no need to go into the women’s restroom. Hey, do you think your friend at the bar wants to go out with me?”

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Please share your pick-up lines in the comments. There are a lot of people needing your help with their plans for a summer romance!

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*The fine print: Any guarantees related to use of these guaranteed pick-up lines are nothing more than guarantees that nothing whatsoever is guaranteed.

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Three from G.K. Chesterton on Poets, Poetry and Imagination

[1] There are more poets than non-poets in the world, as is proved by the popular origin of … legends.

1200px-G._K._Chesterton_at_work

G.K. Chesterton (Wikipedia)

[2] It is the supreme proof of a man being prosaic that he always insists on poetry being poetical.

[3] Imaginative does not mean imaginary.

G.K. Chesterton
The Everlasting Man (1925)

Which do you like best? Why?

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