How social media and technology is transforming the way the bible is disseminated and received:
The ancient Roman roads spanned more than 250,000 miles. The Romans started building these continent-connecting arteries in 500 B.C., enabling both their empire to grow and the gospel to advance rapidly.
Today’s Roman roads are the Internet, the smartphone, the tablet, and social media, ready and waiting for innumerable journeys of faith and witness. While the ancient roads connected hundreds of towns and cities, the new ones connect millions of homes and individuals. New York Timescolumnist Tom Friedman recently wrote, “The world has gone from connected to hyperconnected.”
There are an estimated 400 million smartphones (iPhones, Androids, Blackberries, and so on) across the globe. Brown estimates that number will rise to 1 billion within a few years, because “more and more people are doing everything on their smartphones.” Last year, for the first time, sales of smartphones and tablets surpassed those of laptop and desktop computers. Daily time spent on apps now exceeds time spent online on laptops and desktops.
Four clarifying thoughts by Sam Luce (Children’s Pastor) on communicating and sharing the gospel with children. Having volunteered in Sunday School for the past few years, I can relate to the points he makes in his post. Specifically, I think Luce’s thoughts point to the temptation that volunteers/teachers/etc face in trying to do TOO much. Sometimes, I struggle with an overeager desire to see “progress” and “growth” in the kids I teach, a temptation that leads to cold moralism. I think this desire to see kids grow comes from a good place but, obviously, good intentions often get twisted into the very things they were meant to prevent. Most illuminating was Luce’s comments on the importance of letting kids know we are just as imperfect as they are. He doesn’t argue against us being examples, but rather, he argues against us presenting ourselves as perfect heroes to emulate:
1. Let the kids know that you need God’s help just as much as they do. For to long in the church those who have communicated the truth of God’s word in an effort to give a great example have either intentionally or unintentionally set themselves up as a hero to be admired. In the previous generation pastors were perfect examples of the truths they preached. To be a good pastor you had to be a perfect christian first. The beauty of the gospel is that it both frees you and humbles you. As a communicator do not be the perfect example of truth, be a living example of grace.
Though Dustin Neeley speaks as a Pastor, his thoughts apply to most fathers as he discusses the balance between leading your family and stewarding your professional obligations/calling. As he notes, there will often be a replacement for you wherever you work, but there is no replacement for you when it comes to being a husband and a father:
I was lying on the floor pushing Thomas the Tank Engine around his wooden track when I realized my young son had been speaking to me for the past 30 seconds, but I hadn’t listened to a word he had said. Instead, I was too preoccupied thinking about the church. Those precious moments were now gone—never to return. Sadly, I bet many other pastors can relate.
All of us know tragic stories of wives and children of pastors, church planters, and missionaries who grow up to hate the church. These stories could have been avoided, in many cases, if the leader in the home had not neglected his family.
I was 16 years old.
I was given a new name and then I was drugged. I didn’t like the IV. My dad held my hand but I started to get really fidgety. They upped my drug dosage and wheeled me away. I was so cold, so they gave me a blanket. I counted backwards from 100…99…98…
The end of my first baby’s life.
It was always weird for me when I was pregnant with my first born, because people would always ask, “is this your first?” I hated that question. I didn’t know how to answer.
“Um, no, I killed my first baby, this will be my second.” That wouldn’t work. “My first is in heaven.” That won’t work either, people will think I miscarried. I landed on, “This is my husband and I’s first.”
Stephen Altrogge on that awkward moment when you’re about to sing the line “Prone to wander, Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love”:
Yes we once were prone to wander. But Jesus’ death on the cross cured us of that tendency:
He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. (1 Peter 2:24-25).
Jesus’ death had a life-altering effect upon us – now we can die to sin and live to righteousness. And when Peter says “by his wounds you have been healed,” he doesn’t mean physically – he means we have been healed of our tendency to stray like sheep. Our proneness to wander.
The doctrine of sin has helped me immensely over the years. But we must put indwelling sin into perspective. It’s there, but it’s nothing in comparison with the power of the Holy Spirit who indwells us. We should not have an expectation to live defeated lives. Rather, we should expect to live victorious lives by the Spirit’s power.
Drew Dixon’s thoughts on a high school commencement speech I wish I would have had. Brilliant, honest and helpful, David McCullough Jr. tells graduating seniors the reality of life and what matters most. An excerpt from his address:
Contrary to what your soccer trophy suggests, your glowing seventh grade report card, despite every assurance of a certain corpulent purple dinosaur, that nice Mister Rogers and your batty Aunt Sylvia, no matter how often your maternal caped crusader has swooped in to save you… you’re nothing special.
Yes, you’ve been pampered, cosseted, doted upon, helmeted, bubble-wrapped. Yes, capable adults with other things to do have held you, kissed you, fed you, wiped your mouth, wiped your bottom, trained you, taught you, tutored you, coached you, listened to you, counseled you, encouraged you, consoled you and encouraged you again. . . .
But do not get the idea you’re anything special. Because you’re not.
Exercise free will and creative, independent thought not for the satisfactions they will bring you, but for the good they will do others, the rest of the 6.8 billion–and those who will follow them. And then you too will discover the great and curious truth of the human experience is that selflessness is the best thing you can do for yourself. The sweetest joys of life, then, come only with the recognition that you’re not special.
Because everyone is.
Congratulations. Good luck. Make for yourselves, please, for your sake and for ours, extraordinary lives.
Excerpt of Dixon’s thoughts:
There is a reason, however, that none of the many parents of the graduates at Wellesly High School complained to the school about McCullough’s speech–it recognizes something dangerous about the world we live in. Our culture of helicopter parents and constant praise has the potential to produce a generation of young people who think much more highly of themselves than they ought and refuse to attempt catching their dreams for fear of failure.