Social Media and the Church

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching <sup class="crossreference" value="(BE)”>and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread <sup class="crossreference" value="(BF)”>and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles.  All the believers were together and had everything in common…..Acts 2:42-44

And each day they were actively involved in Facebook, Twitter, Skype, and joyfully embraced each new Social Media that came along and integrated it into the Church, and each day more believers were added to their number…….

An interesting question… would social media have affected the early church? I wonder how the use of social media has shaped the modern church today. I didn’t think about it much until I got swept up in the frenzy of it myself. I blame my IPhone. I heart my IPhone! I panic when I lose sight of it. It has almost become a part of me, after all, all my stuff is in there. Personal stuff.

I have now started doing a Facebook check in at church. Then I ask myself, am I doing this to be prideful? While others are out Facebooking at Starbucks or the golf course, do I feel secretly superior for “checking in” at church? It takes a little bit of self-evaluation. On the other hand, I see others check-ins at church and it makes me happy they are there. So maybe they are happy seeing mine as well.

My Mom has the personal opinion that the computer, (and the IPhone) are the Antichrist. She often says that if the computers shut down the whole world would stop. She might be right. I think when we become so dependent on anything that we couldn’t imagine life without it, it’s a problem.

As with everything we do, discretion and moderation is key.

I personally think the church can use technology to its advantage. The question I have to ask myself is, can  I be just as comfortable in the little brown church in the wildwood, as in a modern day church with the big screen and flashing lights and the YouTube videos? Do I need all that?

I think as long as the intent is to bring people closer to Jesus and to each other, it can be a good thing. And if I did go to the little brown church in the wildwood? I have to confess, I would most likely be tempted to whip out my IPhone, take a picture, do a check in and then check to see if they had a website I could “Like”

This morning, I just found out there is a Jesus Facebook page. It has 12,993,870 likes. I had no idea such a thing existed.

What’s your take on all this?

God’s Language is Love

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. Romans 8:26, 27
So many times I search for the right words….I falter. No words express what I am trying to say. It’s frustrating! But we need not ever search for the right words…..The Holy Spirit always knows the perfect words. It is as if He is laying out my heart before the Father, in the Father’s own language!
At one point in my Christian walk, I was almost obsessed with having a “prayer language.” I wanted to know everything I could about speaking in tongues. I read books, I talked to other Christians, I prayed for the gift. I wanted the “experience.” A pastor friend I know says he prayed for the gift and months later he was driving down the road and was so overcome with emotion he had to pull over. Then he spoke in tongues for the first time.
At one point, I went so far as going to a church meeting and having the pastor pray for me to “get it” right then and there. Nothing came forth…….not one utterance. He prayed…….I waited. And waited. Not one Holy peep. He told me, “Just praise God out loud.” I did, well, not really loud, in English.
Me and another lady were ushered off to the side where we were prayed for again, to no avail. She seemed somewhat upset. I mumbled something out loud and they thought they had success, “Glory to God!” I went and sat down just so they could stop praying.
Looking back, parts of this meeting now seem very humorous, although not in an irreverent way. It was an evening spent with people who loved God gathering together for one purpose, to praise Him. The motive in my heart was pure. That’s what God saw. My prayer may not have been answered the way I wanted it that night, but not because of what anyone did or didn’t do. Not the Pastor, not me, not anyone….certainly not God.
One day, many months after that night while I was vacuuming I started singing and praising God….in another language. It came quietly and unannounced, like a gentle dove. I didn’t lose control, I didn’t black out or fall to the floor. I was completely coherent and rational. And that is how its been every time since. It is my prayer language and only God hears it. It is His gift to me and it is precious.
And it came in His timing. And whatever you believe about this particular topic, the Holy Spirit is very much alive and working in the hearts of men and women today.
I know there are some denominations who teach that without this gift, you aren’t saved. I have never read that in the Bible. I also know some denominations that say it’s not for today, it only happened once on the day of Pentecost. All I know is it happened to me. Regardless, we never have to worry about either having a prayer language or not having one, God always hears the cry of our heart.
Not only do we have Jesus actively interceding before the Throne of the Father, we have the Holy Spirit interceding for us in our prayers! That unspoken request that is in your heart today? Be assured, it has already been communicated in the best language….God’s language! And His language is always

The blessing of fellowship

Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:25

Yesterday Elaine and I went to see a dear friend who Pastors a church. He was a friend even before he was a Pastor, but we used to meet at work for prayer and Bible study. It was so good to catch up. By the time we heard all his problems ours felt much smaller.

We sat there for 3 hours…..until he got a call to pick up his daughter at school. The time had flown so fast we scarcely noticed it.

What a blessing it is to have dear friends to fellowship with. Like iron sharpening iron, we are strengthened by each other. He told us of what pain he has suffered over his next to youngest daughter. The one he never expected it from. He also said that lessons he has learned from going through that has helped him deal with issues in the church.

The hardest lessons to learn……Letting go.

He had to learn to let his daughter go, and sometimes to grow a church, you have to let some people go. A very perplexing lesson when you are in a small church and you are trying to grow it.

Sometimes God uses those we love the most to teach us the hard lessons of letting go. Sometimes it makes no sense. Sometimes we feel that the most Godly thing we could do is to grab on tighter. But God’s ways are higher than ours, always.

And it makes sense when you think about it.

He used the One closest to Himself to change the world.

The Miracle of the Promise

A man can no more diminish God’s glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word, ‘darkness’ on the walls of his cell. C. S. Lewis

I was thinking this morning… it’s all a miracle. No matter what we have to go through, we are here. Someone had to think of us to bring us into existence. And maybe even if they didn’t God did. It is a miracle that I believe, that any of us believes. And not only believe, because even the demons believe, but put that belief into something that started with a decision.

If someone had never taken me to church or told me about God, I have never have known that there was even a decision to be made.

Or that there was a God……and that He wanted a relationship with me.

If someone in your life thought it was important that you go to church, you need to thank God for them today. That they took you.

Maybe it was a stumbling blinding path they were tripping on themselves, or maybe it was a rock solid firm foundation. Whatever it was, they got you ready and somewhere in their hearts they thought it was right…….when many others were doing other things you were swinging your feet on a bench where you heard “the old old story, about how Christ left His home in glory.”

and it planted a seed you could never quite forget.

I am thanking God today that no matter what I go through in this life, God cracked my heart open with the light of His love……and in all these years He has never stopped. Because I heard and answered the knock of a God who wanted to know me and live with me forever. And you.

“For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.” Acts 2:39

picture from google images

God Goes Where He’s Wanted

A modern day evangelist lamented, “Whenever the Apostle Paul visited a city, the residents started a riot; when I visit, they serve tea.”

The church in Thessalonica, like many of Paul’s churches, was born amid violent upheaval. An angry mob took offense at Paul’s work and chased him out of town, accusing him of causing “trouble all over the world.” (Acts 17:6) From my introduction to the book of Thessalonians, with notes by Tim Stafford and Philip Yancey.

The curious phenomenon of church growth during times of intense persecution is reflected in these quotes from Christians in different parts of the world.

From a believer in Malaysia:

“We are so blessed because in Indonesia they are killing Christians, but here we just have to put up with discrimination and restrictions on our activities.”

and from an Indonesian Christian….

“We’re very blessed because in Malaysia, they can’t freely publish the Gospel. Here we still can.”

Philip Yancey has an interesting observation from his travels and interviews around the world talking to believers in many different cultures and countries…….

As I travel and also read church history, I have observed a pattern, a strange phenomenon of God “moving” geographically from place to place: from the Middle East to Europe to North America to the developing world. My theory is this: God goes where He’s wanted.

Quotes and selections from the book, Finding God in Unexpected Places, I heartily recommend this book, what a blessing it was to read it.

I tend to agree with him.

But Jesus said, “A prophet is taken for granted in his hometown and his family.” He didn’t do many miracles there because of their hostile indifference. Matthew 13:58

Quotes and selections from the book, Finding God in Unexpected Places

Confessions of a Church Mutt, a repost……

I confess I have a speckled lineage when it comes to my church experience. Personally, I don’t believe God cares what denomination, if any, we attach ourselves to as long as it remains true to Biblical teaching. I think we can gather richness from each one, I know I have. However we dress it up or perform the ceremony what remains is God and His word. He alone knows the heart of a church.

I started out Baptist, then dabbled in the Episcopalian denomination for a short time, been a member of Assembly of God congregations, enjoyed many Methodist services with through my Grandfather, and Aunt. For the past ten or so years I’ve been part of a Non-denominational Christian church. Each one has added something to my Spiritual growth………From each one I carry memories that have enriched my faith. In each one I have experienced God’s grace. I have seen prayers answered, God’s love flowing through people. I have seen the Holy Spirit change lives and do things not humanly possible.

I remember….magical paper sacks that we received after every Christmas pageant. I remember quaking on stage, trying to remember my one line from the Bethlehem scene. I think one time I actually cried and ran off stage….but after, we received a paper sack that held the same things every year; peanuts in the shell, buried within a hershey bar, and a roll of five flavor lifesavers, and an orange. I was always scared they would run out before they got to me. A walk down the aisle to start my journey with Christ…..

I remember seeing my Pastor in rubber waders at my Baptism, warm water swirling around my white baptism clothes, giving the confession of faith; never to be the same again. Strong biblical teaching from a pastor who loved digging into meanings of Greek and Hebrew. So many joyful hours of choir practice, where my Aunt and I sang on the Alto end.

I remember ice-cream socials on summer evenings in the Methodist church yard, all cakes made from scratch, with a man dipping ice-cream at the end of the line. The beautiful marbled sanctuary…they knew how to make a church look like a church in those days.

I remember the beautiful liturgy at St. John’s Episcopal, learning when to sit and stand, knees creaking. The flip of the kneeler in the silence. People there who helped each other out after hours. I remember a spirit of love in the social hall after service when I saw Father Ray dancing a jig with a child one day. The tradition of the flowering of the cross at Easter, the Sacrifice giving way to the fragance of beauty and conquered death once and for all.

I remember prayer times, tears, laughter, and meeting wonderful people who loved God. Meeting God at the altar, prayers answered, hands lifted high, tears of communion. Learning about the gifts of the Spirit….(still have my notes) All of these precious times, a bit of Heaven on earth. A foretaste of glory to come….

Church; it’s not perfect because it is made up of people. But it’s God’s church and still a place where you can find grace, forgiveness, and love.

“One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I shall seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord and to meditate in His temple.” Psalm 27:4

Saturday Wonderings

If the Holy Spirit was withdrawn from the church today, 95 percent of what we do would go on and no one would know the difference. If the Holy Spirit had been withdrawn from the New Testament church, 95 percent of what they did would stop, and everybody would know the difference. A.W. Tozer

I sometimes wonder how much of what we do in the church today is just stuff. I think a lot of what goes on once we leave the building is church. The conversations we have or don’t have. They way we live within the walls of our own homes. At work. I guess you could say I am preaching a sermon to myself today.

Sometimes I ask myself why the person I see in my mind, the one I want to be,  is so much different than the living breathing version of me.

Sometimes I wonder what would happen if all the churches emptied out and went out into the streets on Sunday mornings like a big flash mob of love.

I wonder.

“The apostles performed many signs and wonders among the people. And all the believers used to meet together in Solomon’s Colonnade. No one else dared join them, even though they were highly regarded by the people. Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number. As a result, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by. Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by impure spirits, and all of them were healed.”