Michael Boling – Time to Get Back to Reading

Books. Ever since I was a child, I have loved reading. With that said, there have been times when I have frankly been burnt out by reading. Perhaps it is due to changing reading interests, a busy schedule, or the pressure to keep up with the steady flow of review copies from publishers. I admit for what is likely a combination of those reasons, I took an extended break over the past few months from reading and doing book reviews. In fact, I cleaned out a good portion of my personal library. Much of what went bye-bye were titles I read once and knew I would not return to either as a resource or for a second go around. Some books while good and interesting are honestly only good for a once through read. Plus we needed the space in the basement for other things.

Lately, I have been feeling the reading bug biting once again. It is always a challenge when you have a backlog of books to read as to what to choose first. There is one non-theological title I have been slowly but surely reading on the subject of interracial baseball prior to the depression. One of my favorite baseball players, Bob Feller, is one of the subjects of this book. It has been quite the fascinating read thus far. This particular books seems like a good choice as any with which to pick up the pace with and complete here in the next week. If anything, that will afford some time to choose the next title. Maybe I will make it easy on myself and grab the next book in the stack o’ stuff. We shall see what happens. Once I decide on the next set of books, I will be sure to share what they are and why I selected those titles.

So back to reading I go and with it, likely a steady (or at least steadier) stream of book reviews and here is to hoping the reading bug turns into an infection, one I do not recover from for a bit.

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Michael Boling – The Wiles of the Devil: What is a Wile Anyway?

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“Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil,” (Eph. 6:11)

This is a rather familiar passage of Scripture as it begins the section of the Apostle Paul’s instructions on what it looks like to put on the full armor of God. Perhaps we often overlook what it is we are arming ourselves against. Clearly we are donning this armor to do battle, otherwise what would be the point of such an effort? We know who the enemy is as Paul states the one we do battle with is the devil. With that said, Paul notes something particular about how the devil wages war – the wiles of the devil.

Now this word wiles is one not typically used in everyday conversation. Those who used to watch the Looney Tunes cartoons might remember a character called Wile E. Coyote. He was famous for hatching a variety of ploys by which he would most assuredly capture the elusive roadrunner – courtesy of those fine folks at the Acme Corporation of course. Unfortunately for Wile E. Coyote, regardless of how elaborate his scheme was he could never seem to catch his prey.

We can learn a bit about what the term wiles means from the actions of Wile E. Coyote. First and foremost, this cartoon character used well planned albeit poorly executed trickery. His underlying plan was to try and catch the roadrunner unawares. This connotes the idea of a methodology which in fact is exactly what the Greek noun methodeia that is translated as wiles means. The term is defined as “cunning arts, deceit, craft, trickery.”

The devil is a bit more competent than Wile E. Coyote; however, the same approach taken to lure the roadrunner is what our enemy uses in his attempts to trick humanity. Mind you the devil will not use rocket powered roller skates nor will he paint a tunnel on the face of a cliff face. His wiles are far more thought out and cunning. Think back to the Garden of Eden and the encounter between the devil and Eve. There was no boulder perched on the top of a mountain ready to be unleashed on Eve as she walked below. What took place was quite simply and devastatingly for us all a carefully planned and executed rewording of God’s statement to Adam and Eve. That was all it was – a few words switched around and left out, the very definition of cunning, deceit, and trickery.

It seems we are often so focused on looking for the full frontal assault of the enemy that we are caught unawares by his true wiles. Those sneak attacks are the ones that arguably get us in the most trouble. The “did God really say that” approach is one of the enemies most well-honed attack strategies. It is the proverbial trip wire we stumble over. Rest assured the enemy will employ a frontal assault, but it seems such attacks are intended to make us forget about his attempt to sneakily direct his focus on our rear guard.

This is why Paul noted the necessity of constantly donning the full armor of God. Each piece of armor protects us from the enemy’s wiles so that we may be able to stand. Forget a piece of armor and those wiles will more often than not find their mark through deceit and trickery. However, a believer who is cognizant of the need to put on the whole armor of God is promised they will be able to not only stand against those wiles, but they will also be able to gain ground against the enemy through the power of God working in their life.

This is spiritual warfare 101, so vigilantly and diligently be on the lookout for all the devil’s subtle wiles and by all means don the full armor of God. Our enemy is clever, but God has made known to us the devil’s playbook. Those who root themselves in the Word of God will be able to identify the wiles of the devil and respond by wielding the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God.

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Michael Boling – The Yoke of Jesus

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“Come to me, all of you who are struggling and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

Taking the yoke of Jesus. This is a familiar verse that is most often referenced when someone is going through a struggle or life just seems to be dropping its immense weight on one’s shoulders. Its other popular use comes into play when the topic of the law is mentioned with some asserting that old crusty law of God was for days past and is a yoke of bondage while the yoke of Jesus is full of grace, with the two never needing to meet.

So just what is this yoke Jesus speaks of in the closing verses of Matthew 11? Is he speaking of laying our burdens on his shoulders? Or is Jesus speaking of complete freedom from God’s law with grace being the new paradigm? Or perhaps some of both or neither.

We know one thing and that is Jesus calls us to come to him and he will give us rest. This rest involves taking upon us a yoke, namely the yoke of Jesus and in doing so we will find rest for his yoke is easy and his burden is light. This means complete freedom from something is not a possibility as a yoke was a device that provided guidance and direction to the oxen. That guidance and direction was given by someone with the purpose of plowing a field or moving a cart. Without any guidance from the driver, the oxen would wander in anything but a straight line, going wherever they please.

Another interesting element of this command by Jesus is the fact that by taking on his yoke, we will be in a state of learning from him. This means this yoke, along with providing guidance, also provides instruction and by taking this yoke of guidance and instruction, we will find rest.

This certainly is an interesting word picture painted by Jesus. Something most would consider and constraining (a yoke) is presented as a source of rest. A heavy wooden device is stated to be easy and light. With all that said, what could be this yoke Jesus speaks about in this passage?

I would like to suggest that the yoke Jesus speaks of is both himself and the Word of God. We know the yoke is Jesus because we have his command to come to him. We also know from Scripture that in Jesus we find our rest, partially in this life and in fullness in eternity (Heb. 4:9-10). Efforts done outside the framework of the work of Christ on the cross are done in vain and are a heavy yoke. They are directionless and chaotic at best with the individual taking the reins of their life without God as their master. When Jesus takes the seat as our Lord and Master, we place ourselves in submission to his reins and leading. Instead of human effort driving the cart of our life, Jesus through the work of the Holy Spirit guides us.

What else in Scripture is presented as a guide for our lives, a source of instruction, a place of rest, and a light burden, at least for those willing to submit to it? Scripture fits all of those descriptions. Psalm 119:105 reminds us that God’s Word is a “lamp to our feet and a light to our path”. Hebrews 4 speaks repeatedly of entering into God’s rest with a closing argument about the penetrating power of Scripture and the priestly work of Jesus. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 declares that “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” I John 5:3 states “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.”

We can see that God’s Word fits all the descriptions noted by Jesus in Matthew 11:28-30. To present the yoke of Jesus as freedom from God’s Law is to misunderstand what God’s Law and the function of Scripture. When the Holy Spirit writes God’s Word (His Law) on our hearts and we demonstrate our love for God by keeping His commands, we are taking on the yoke of Jesus. Being obedient to God’s commands is not a burden. It is only a burden when we desire to take matters into our own hands and when we attempt to guide our own lives. When God leads and directs our lives and when we take the approach of loving God and keeping His commandments, we are truly finding a place of rest under the yoke of Jesus.

Unlike the yoke of bondage found in personal piety outside of God’s leading, the yoke of Jesus is easy. This word easy does not mean there is no effort involved and all of life is now a bowl of peaches and cream. The word easy means “something that is pleasant”. Proverbs speaks of the way of wisdom which of course is found in a life devoted to God and His commands. In fact, Proverbs 3:17 reminds us “Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace”, with her of course representing wisdom.

When we put all this together we find that taking on the yoke of Jesus is all about submitting to him with God’s Word being the reins that guide our life through the work of the Holy Spirit. God’s commands are not a burdensome yoke. They are presented as being quite the opposite, specifically they are a place of rest, comfort, instruction, and guidance. The yoke Jesus wants us to take is found only through him.

Today will you take off the burdensome yoke of self and put on the yoke of Jesus? Will you be willing to devote yourself to the reading of God’s Word and being obedient to God’s commands? Will you cease striving to find rest in any other place than Jesus and the Word of God? If you feel burdened, it because you have a yoke of self that is resting on your shoulders. Let Jesus take that yoke of fleshly bondage and replace it with his yoke. In doing so, you will have a desire to follow God’s Word and to allow those healing words of life to provide you with instruction, rest, and direction with God taking the reins to the yoke and to your life. Taking the yoke of Jesus is not freedom from God’s commands. Conversely, it is about finding freedom by obeying God’s commands not through our own vain efforts, but out of love for God who in His grace and mercy removes the yoke of self and gives us the yoke of His Son Jesus.

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Michael Boling – The Bride of Christ

Many believers have likely heard the term “bride of Christ’. However, grasping what that phrase means and how it relates to the corporate Body of believers to include what is required of individual believers who make up the corporate Body.  So with all that said, what is this being the bride of Christ really all about and why in the world does it matter to my everyday life as a Christian and how I relate to God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and fellow believers?  In order to understand what it means to be the bride of Christ, it is first helpful to see how Scripture describes the bride to first understand the characteristics that Scripture attributes to the bride. In this post, we will focus on the necessity for the bride to be holy and how that plays out again within the construct of the bride individual and the bride corporate.

Scripture declares the need for the bride to be holy. Ephesians 5:25-27 states “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.” Let’s focus on the characteristic of what it means to be without stain or wrinkle, often translated as without spot or blemish. Despite what some may think, being holy or without stain or wrinkle, spot or blemish is not speaking of perfection in this life. In reality, what the Apostle Paul is referring to, being the learned Hebrew scholar that he was is the Hebrew word tamiym. This is a word used over 90 times in the Old Testament and means complete, whole, entire, sound, or mature. In Genesis 6:9 states “This is the genealogy of Noah. Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God.” Now this does not mean Noah was perfect and without sin. The Hebrew word translated perfect is tamiym. In Genesis 17:1, God told Abraham “walk before Me and be blameless.” Once again, the word translated as blameless is tamiym. Even a cursory review of the life of Abraham will reveal he was not perfect. What God desired was maturity, a desire to become closer to Him. This is the essence of what it means to be tamiym. Through the process of sanctification and the power of the Holy Spirit, believers can become tamiym, without spot or blemish.

How does one become tamiym? Good works, hard work, luck of the draw, clean living? Let’s return to Ephesians 5:25-27. Paul speaks of Christ giving Himself up for His bride doing what exactly? Christ is making her holy (again a clear reference to tamiym) by “the washing with water through the word.” I Corinthians 6:11 states “But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” Ps. 19:7 states “The law of the Lord is perfect (tamiym), refreshing the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple.” It should be rather clear the Word of the Lord is tamiym, it washes us and thus there is something important about the word and the concept of tamiym in relation to what it means to be holy as the bride of Christ.

It is readily apparent God wants a bride that is tamiym, mature, without spot or wrinkle. How does one work towards becoming tamiym?

When Psalm 19:7 speaks of “converting the soul”, many have attributed that as the act of salvation. In reality, what this passage is speaking of is the impact that washing oneself in the water of the Word, which has been demonstrated to be tamiym (perfect), will have in the life of the believer. It will literally “convert” or change the soul, more appropriately translated as nephesh, the entirety of what constitutes an individual namely their mind, will, and emotions from being simple (Hebrew word pĕthiy – naïve, simple, foolish) to being tamiym. James 1:2 speaks of this process by stating “Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” The bride of Christ is called to be mature and complete. Part of how that is accomplished is by spending time in the Word of God, the source of wisdom.

Let us heed the words of Hebrews 6:1-3: “Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about cleansing rites, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And God permitting, we will do so.” Notice once again the call for maturity. It is through the Word of God that spiritual maturity can be found, the place where the bride of Christ can daily wash herself in the sanctifying and cleansing power of God’s word in order to convert our nephesh from being naïve to being wise in things of the Lord. This is a requirement and characteristic of the bride of Christ, that of seeking God’s paniyem (His face) by devouring the Word of God. Do we desire to be so close to God through the reading and study of His word that his taniym law is so written on our hearts that the glory of God shines through us in every word and deed we do to the extent we are truly a light on a lampstand or a city set on a hill that cannot be hidden? After all that is a characteristic of what it means to be the bride of Christ, a longing for a Word from our bridegroom!

This of course begs the question as to how maturity can be accomplished, specifically maturing in the things of God and His Word. Can that be accomplished solely through personal Bible study outside the fellowship of a local body of believers under the leadership of a godly pastor committed to teaching the things of God? If that were the case, one has to immediately answer why the early church did not approach Bible study in that way. We find in Acts 2:42 that the early believers “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” Was that devotion merely a personal time of Bible study or was it accomplished in a larger group of fellow believers?  It is clearly the latter.

Part of becoming tamiym is the essential element of coming together as the corporate bride to devote ourselves to being instructed in the life giving bread found in God’s Word. We have already noted that the Word of God is a vital aspect of the believer moving from a place of simplicity to that needed place of maturity. Throughout this series on the Church, we have discussed the increasingly popular lone-ranger approach to Church. Such a concept is completely foreign to the teaching of the entirety of Scripture. As the bride, we are called to koinonia (fellowship) whereby we can pray for one another, meet one another’s needs, and feast on the bread of God’s Word all for the explicit purpose of spurring one another towards love and good deeds in order to share the powerful message of the gospel to a lost and hurting world. We come together as individuals to make up the corporate bride, each presenting the gifts God has granted us with the goal of glorifying Him. Such an approach truly demonstrates a people who understand what it means to be the beloved Bride of Christ for glorifying Him is what loving God and loving others is all about according to Scripture.

Those who reject coming together as the corporate bride, reject the need for spiritual growth as an individual that feeds into the larger community of believers nor do they have a desire to build up the bride or to spur fellow believers towards love and good deeds. They also ignore the reality that coming together in koinonia is an act of courage as it crucifies self for the needs of fellow believers. They reject the reality that church history demonstrates the vital need for believers to be the bride of Christ in a corporate sense. Their selfish approach to community rejects the necessity to help others within the body, whether in the local setting of believers or those across the globe.

Those who truly understand that Scripture commands us to gather as well as the command to be tamiym and holy will grasp the beauty of what it means to be the Bride of Christ.

Is it too hard to ask of ourselves to gather together as His bride knowing that in doing so we show our love for the One who did so much for us? We really have a clear choice here. We either obey God or we disobey. As the bride, obedience leads to maturity while disobedience keeps us in that place of immaturity, self-centered and prideful. Loving Christ and others is best accomplished within the confines of a local community of believers, the Bride of Christ.

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Michael Boling – Husbands: Give Yourself to Your Wife

Eph. 5:25-33, “25 “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.[a] 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.”

Most are familiar with the words of the Apostle Paul found in Ephesians 5:25-33. For that matter, this passage of Scripture finds its way into many wedding ceremony sermons and marriage retreats and rightly so. The command for husbands to love their wives as Christ loves the church certainly presents an important rule of life. As I pondered this passage on the way to work the other day, one element really stood out to me, namely the aspect of just how husbands are to love their wives in connection to the example Christ set. That particular element is the concept of giving yourself up for her, a part that is intimately connected (no pun intended) to what it means to love your wife as Christ loves the church. It is this aspect of giving yourself for your wife that we will explore in this post.

As required for any examination and application of words found in Scripture, we will begin with defining terms; in this case the word “gave”. The Greek word Paul uses in Ephesians 5:25 is the verb paradidōmi which means to “give one’s self up for, give one’s self to death for, to undergo death for (the salvation of) one”. The first part of that definition seems innocuous enough as after all, to give of yourself for someone else seems like a reachable goal although the actual application of that in daily life seems to be rather difficult for many. It is the second and third aspects of the definition that seem to be where the real problem and lack of understanding resides. What does it mean to give of yourself to the extent that you would undergo death, in particular for the salvation of another? Let’s spend some time examining what that might look like.

Adam Clarke, in his commentary on Ephesians 5:25 rightly notes

“Here is a grand rule, according to which every husband is called to act: Love your wife as Christ loved the Church. But how did Christ love the Church? He gave himself for it – he laid down his life for it. So then husbands should, if necessary, lay down their lives for their wives: and there is more implied in the words than mere protection and support; for, as Christ gave himself for the Church to save it, so husbands should, by all means in their power, labor to promote the salvation of their wives, and their constant edification in righteousness. Thus we find that the authority of the man over the woman is founded on his love to her, and this love must be such as to lead him to risk his life for her.”[1]

Clarke hits the nail on the head in regards to what the Apostle Paul is getting across in Ephesians 5:25 this verse with the use of the word paradidōmi. What does it mean then in a practical sense to lay down your life for your spouse? While there is the possibility laying down your life might include the actual placing of your life in the place of another, meaning physically dying so another might live, what Paul seems to be implying in this passage is the crucifying of self for the glory of God in a demonstration of your passionate love for your wife. Since Christ is set forth as the example of what loving the Church and what paradidōmi looks like in action, we can surmise that a husband giving himself for his wife in the spirit of love demands the same action Christ did for the church on the cross. What did Christ do? He willingly gave up His life, meaning He was crucified for the sake of another.

The Apostle Paul reminds us in Galatians 5:24 what it means to crucify yourself in the manner which is described in Ephesians 5:25. Paul notes in the Galatians passage “And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” There are some connections that need to be made in this passage to the construct of a covenant spousal relationship. To belong to Christ Jesus is to be in a covenant marriage relationship. Since we are betrothed to Christ and He is our bridegroom and we are His bride, Christ expressed His profound and unending love for His bride by giving Himself for her on the Cross. Paul goes on to declare that since we belong to Christ Jesus in that covenant of marriage, we then must crucify the flesh with its resulting passions and desires for the purpose of giving our entire self in love, adoration, and obedience to the bridegroom Christ Jesus. Being in love with Christ is more than a feeling. Conversely, it necessitates action on our part through the work of the Holy Spirit as we transform and renew our minds, crucifying and mortifying sin in our lives all for the glory of God and love for Christ. This is how our relationship with the bridegroom is defined and how it should operate on a daily basis.

So how does our relationship with Christ flow down to and impact the relationship between husband and wife? According to the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 5:25, in the same manner as Christ loves the Church and gave Himself for her and in the same manner as we in turn show our love for Christ in that marital/betrothal relationship, the husband must also crucify the flesh with its passions and desires because we belong in a covenant marriage relationship with the wife.

This begs the question as to what constitutes passions and desires. Once again we need to examine some word definitions. The word translated as passions or in some translations as affections is the Greek noun pathēma. Thayer, in his Greek lexicon, defines this word in the context of Galatians 5:24 to mean “of an inward state.” Essentially, this refers to the things that impact our inward self that ultimately result in action, whether positive or negative action. The word lust used by Paul is the Greek noun epithymia which refers to “desire, craving, longing, desire for what is forbidden, lust.” When you put those two terms together, it results in the idea that what is to be crucified are those things which God forbids and that which negatively impact the relationship between husband and wife. Thus, we are commanded by God to crucify those things out of our love for our spouse in recognition of our love for Christ and His love for His bride.

To give of oneself for the sake of another requires continuous acts of selflessness. Selfish desires and lusts must be mortified through the power of the Holy Spirit. This is a constant battle that requires diligence and constant attention. This of course requires that the husband first commits himself to being dedicated to loving God and studying His Word. Since Paul provides a cascading example of relationships in Ephesians 5, we must be aware that when one part in the chain is broken, there will be problems. We certainly know that Christ’s love for His bride will never falter or fail. This leaves the potential for issues in the area of the husbands love for Christ as well as the husbands love for his spouse. Thankfully, we need only to look to the example set forth by Christ in His love for the Church to understand what true love and giving looks like. This involves studying how Christ loves His bride, what He did and continues to do for His bride, and how Scripture outlines such a relationship is to be implemented in all of life. We have covered many of those issues in this post already. I will add that a healthy relationship between the bridegroom and bride (Christ and His Church) rests on a love for God’s word and in turn, a healthy relationship between husband and wife also rests on a love for God’s word. A husband who is committed to loving and giving himself for his wife will be cognizant of the need to wash her daily in the Word. This is what Paul declares in Ephesians 5:26 that Christ does on our behalf through the work of the Holy Spirit. Since our relationship with our spouse should mirror our relationship with Christ, the fact that Christ washes us in His word requires that husbands wash their wives in the word.

Now that we have walked through Ephesians 5:25, noting what Paul is calling husbands to do for their wives, what does this look like in daily life? It is one thing to understand a doctrine theoretically and quite another to grasp a doctrine and then apply it to real life. It is that real life application that is often lacking in so many marriages. In the spirit of the Puritan authors, since the doctrine has been clearly stated, it is not time for the relevant application.

The best way I know how to share what loving your wife and giving yourself for her looks like on an everyday basis is to share my own struggles with this issue. My wife and I have been married for ten years and this past year, we adopted a twelve year old girl. Needless to say, our life has changed quite a bit from lots of time together to quite honestly, very little alone time, at least compared to the first nine years of marriage. Anyone with children knows this is just part of life. With that said, it elevates the need for loving and giving to an even greater level of importance. Let’s face it. Working husbands spend nine hours a day in the throes of work to come home to homework and the demands of family life. What is the greatest thing we as husbands desire more often than not? ALONE TIME! That precious time with the remote control when we can watch that favorite sports team compete, or possibly time alone reading that book we can never seem to finish, or having time for our own desires and pursuits whatever that may look like. In a practical sense, for most husbands, crucifying passions and desires involves dying to self in the area of plopping on the couch or wanting to escape. Does this mean that husbands can never pursue hobbies or watch football or have a little quite time all alone? The reality is there will be times when we need to recharge our batteries and that may involve some time alone with the demands and pressures of home set aside for a short and defined period. What it does not mean is escaping to those hobbies and pleasures because we do not want to crucify our wants and desires for the sake of our family’s needs.

For example, after working all day, there is nothing I dread more than sitting at the table helping my daughter with homework. I graduated high school and college for goodness sake. What do I care about word problems and finding the adverb in a sentence? (Be honest…you think the same thing.) The reality is I have to crucify my desires for the intellectual growth of my child. I have to shut my mouth and control my emotions for the benefit of another. It may also mean that I have to give my wife a break and help out around the house with family chores even when there a plethora of other things I want to do with my time. It means shutting up and listening when she speaks about her day at work and the challenges she faces. It requires coming alongside her and actually loving and showing compassion for her instead of the proverbial nodding of the head hoping the conversation will wrap up soon so I can watch television or zone out.

Is any of that easy? Absolutely not but it is worth it. Was it easy for Christ to die on the cross for His bride? Jesus wept tears of blood in the Garden of Gethsemane. His journey to the Cross was not easy, yet He died on that Cross out of His love for His bride. Husbands are you willing to take up your cross daily out of love for your bride? However that looks like in your marriage, it is a must. Love is again more than a mushy feeling you get in the pit of your stomach. Love is an action and in the case of marriage, it involves the constant act of crucifying self for the benefit of another, laying down your life, passions, and desires so another might live. Are you willing to do that for your wife? Christ set the example we are to follow. If we truly love Christ, we will and we must show our love for our wife by doing what He did for His people, dying to self and giving ourselves to the one we should love and adore.

References:
[1] http://www.studylight.org/com/acc/view.cgi?bk=48&ch=5

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Michael Boling – A Hunger For the Word

The other day someone on Facebook shared the picture that is included in this post. Typically, I don’t pay much attention to the pictures shared on Facebook; however, this particular one noted a rather important message, namely inquiring what would happen if people had the same focus on Scripture as they do with their smart phones or other electronic devices. While many will perhaps nod their head at the wisdom found in the questions posed in this picture, I submit the truth of these questions will not travel the necessary twelve inches from head to heart. So let’s engage for just a bit on why we need to be devoted to God’s Word and how such devotion impacts all of life.

Far too many believers view the word theology as the purview of only the pastor, the bible scholar or people with too much time on their hands and far too many books in their collection. Understanding or having a passion for the things of God, a passion and study firmly rooted in Scripture, is frankly a very neglected part of the Christian’s walk these days. You might find people still carrying their bibles to church, although many churches provide a pew bible or post scriptures on screens, making it “easier” for the parishioners to follow the sermon. Ultimately, most churchgoers’ interaction with Scripture is relegated to the hour or less they spend each week sitting in a pew listening to their pastor deliver the weekly sermon.

So why is that a big deal? After all, at least people are getting some exposure to Scripture and perhaps something may soak in along the way. Isn’t a once a week church experience enough theology for goodness sake? Why would I need to spend more time in the word, especially when time is such a precious commodity? Furthermore, since kids get a little bible lesson in Sunday School and perhaps have watched a few VeggieTale videos throughout the week, isn’t that enough? I mean do we really have to spend every waking moment worried about the bible? I have a job, bills to pay, dinner to cook, homework to work on with the kids, soccer practice, and the list goes on and on.

These are honest questions that many might pose when presented with the idea that theology and a love for God’s word must be a constant endeavor and concern for every believer. Thankfully, Scripture speaks to these questions and it is to Scripture that we will now turn to discover exactly how important God’s word is for His people.

In Romans 12:2, the Apostle Paul declares “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” What does it mean to renew your mind and what are we renewing our minds from seems to be a rather logical question. In order to answer that question, we have to journey back towards the beginning of Scripture to determine how God wants His people to approach His Word to include the how and why.

In Deuteronomy 6:6-8, God declares to Israel, “These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. “You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead.” What are the words God is speaking of in this passage? He is speaking of His word, which is defined as the instructions and guidelines provided throughout Scripture that speak regarding what it looks like to love God and love others. Notice the methodology by which God expects His people to engage His word and especially take notice of how parents are commanded by God to instruct their children in the Word of God. We are first told that God’s word must be on our heart. This idea of God’s word residing in your heart speaks to more than mere head knowledge. The Hebrew word for heart used in that verse is lebab, a word that is defined as the as seat of appetites, emotions and passions. For God’s word to be on your heart necessitates that it inculcates every aspect of your life. Everything you say, feel, or do must be guided by God’s Word.

Next we see God commanding parents to teach God’s Word diligently to their children on a constant, daily basis. What is interesting about the phrase “teach diligently” used in this verse is that the definition goes beyond simply talking about a passage of Scripture. To teach diligently is the Hebrew word shanan which means to sharpen, whet; to sharpen, teach (incisively). Why is this important to point out? The answer to that question is found in examining what is described in Scripture as being able to pierce. Hebrews 4:12 notes “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” It should immediately become clear why teaching goes beyond the mere reciting of sermon notes or a Sunday School lesson plan. Teaching involves the Word of God penetrating the heart, working its way through the very fiber of your being in such a way that it sharpens who you are as a believer, in turn whetting your appetite for more of God in your life.

The next command is for God’s Word to be taught from the moment we get up for the day to the time we go to bed. Basically that is an idiom for God’s Word being a constant part of our daily activities, 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. There is never a time when devotion to the truths found in God’s Word should be absent from anything we find ourselves involved. When trying to understand why God tells us to talk about Scripture with our children, this involves truly grasping the meaning of the word talk used in this verse. Certainly part of communication involves the vocalization of ideas. Learning by osmosis or hoping learning will take place by random chance is not what God is talking about in Deut. 6. What He is speaking to is the need to have a conversation, meaning a two way interaction of words, the exchange of ideas and the relating of concepts between individuals. This is far more than just saying something to your child followed by the half-hearted nodding of the child’s head in hopes the parent will stop talking so the video games can be turned back on. Talking and teaching diligently requires a desire to share information in such a way so the child understands the importance of God’s Word, which in turn develops a hunger for the Word in their life at an early age. It is the grounding of children in a foundation which they can rest their lives on. This type of approach takes time and cannot be rushed so you can watch the news or race to the next event on the daily calendar. God expects, rather He demands that parents teach their children diligently about His Word. A great way to go about this is establishing a time of family worship. For those who have no idea what family worship is or looks like, I highly recommend Joel Beeke’s video on family worship which can be found here.

The final element of Deut. 6:6-8 is the command to “bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead.” Now before anyone thinks that God is commanding us to actually tie little boxes with a passage of Scripture to our hands and foreheads, let’s take a look at how this command plays out in a practical way in our lives. To bind is the Hebrew verb qashar which connotes the idea of being bound to something. So to bind God’s word to your hands and forehead expresses the idea of Scripture defining how you act and think. Essentially, “The words of God were to be bound for a sign [a memorial or directory] upon thine hand, the instrument of acting, and to be as frontlets [fillets or bands] between thine eyes, the organs of direction in walking or moving, and so on the forehead, the chamber of thought and purpose.”[1]

This idea of God’s Word impacting our actions and thoughts brings us back to the words of the Apostle Paul in Romans 12:2 which again declares “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” Using Deut. 6:6-8 as a guide, we can begin to understand how the process of having our minds renewed takes place. It cannot happen through reading a self-help book, thinking happy thoughts, or believing beyond all doubt that every day is a Friday. Our minds can only be transformed through the piercing Word of God and the work of the Holy Spirit writing God’s Word continually on our hearts. Transformation requires the replacement of something with something else. In this case, it is the transformation from following man’s sinful ways to pursuing what God requires of us as outlined in His Word.

Nowhere in Scripture is God’s Word placed at a level of secondary importance for our lives. For those who are parents which includes myself, God commands us to diligently instruct and teach our children at all times about God and His Word so we might raise the next generation of Christ followers. This is not something we do only on Sunday or when we have a bit of free time. This involves every blip of a second we have during the day. It involves parents being a righteous example of what following God looks like in action. It means dedicated time set aside for family worship. It involves praying with and for your children. It honestly involves our entire self being dedicated to the glory of God.

Finally, being transformed by the renewing of our minds is not something that will happen instantaneously. It is a lifelong endeavor by the power of the Holy Spirit. With that said, a first step towards the renewal of your mind is diving into the word of God. Wash yourself daily in the power of God’s Word for it is the source of truth and it is the light in a world of darkness. Having a passion for the study of God and His Word (theology) is by no means only restricted to pastors, scholars or professors. As we have discussed in this post, God commands all of His people to be passionate about theology and this command is particularly laid at the feet of parents. As the people of God and as His bride, we should long to seek His face, study His instructions and guidance to us on how to love Him and others, and we should teach these things diligently to our children, raising up a new generation of believers who are passionate about the things of God and who have a desire to live righteously and to declare the message of the gospel with their mouths and with their actions.

As the picture suggest, what would happen if we became the people God wants us to be, a body of believers dedicated to God’s word in the same manner as we dedicate ourselves to the many other pursuits and passions we have in life? What would it look like to carry God’s Word around and to give it the same level of importance as we do our smart phones or tablets? What would our schools and homes look like if we as parents dedicated ourselves to raising our children in the fear and admonition of the Lord, teaching them what God has commanded? I have an inkling things would be a bit different in this world.

References:
[1] http://biblehub.com/commentaries/deuteronomy/6-8.htm

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Michael Boling – Avoiding Sound-bite Theology and Bible Study

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There is a recurring theme I notice when engaging in conversations with people on social media. This theme presents itself when a passage of Scripture is being discussed, more often than not, a verse or set of verses that is typically well known. Perhaps the issue resides in our familiarity with such passages. Have we read them so many times that our minds tend to gloss over the details and the underlying message being presented, let alone any connections to other similar passages with related themes found elsewhere in Scripture?

I often wonder if this is a result of our sound-bite approach to approaching God’s Word. We tend to think of passages of Scripture in short tweet like concepts, hoping to some degree to have a clever quip to provide someone on social media to win an argument or to demonstrate that we can pull a verse (or at least a portion of one often out of context) from the back of our minds to demonstrate our knowledge of Scripture.

The question we must ask ourselves is this a demonstration of a real commitment to studying the Bible? Are sound-bites the answer or is spending time digging deep into the pages of Scripture, analyzing the details while paying attention to how those details form the mosaic of the larger presentation what God expects from us? I submit it is the latter and here is why I make such a suggestion.

Recently I have been spending a great deal of time digging into the first four chapters of Genesis. Now these are chapters most believers would readily admit they are quite familiar with, especially since most valiantly begin their pursuit of reading through the Bible in a year with these chapters. Most have likely lost count of the number of times they have read the creation story, the account of the fall, or the murder of Abel at the hands of his brother Cain. These events (i.e. creation, fall, etc.) are familiar to us and we can recite from memory the “big ideas” if you will regarding what those events are all about. However, there are a plethora of important details that are often overlooked and questions that often go unasked and unanswered again likely due to our familiarity with these chapters. Questions such as “Why was Eve not surprised when a “Serpent” engaged her in conversation?” or “Why was it important that Adam and Eve saw they were naked and made fig leaf garments to cover themselves?” or “If God said when they ate of the fruit they would die, why did Adam and Eve not immediately die?”. These are just a few questions I have been asking of late and exploring. I will readily admit the study of these questions has resulted in some informative and important connections being made to key issues that flow throughout Scripture.

If taking the time to ask some simple yet probing questions about the text in the first four chapters of Genesis can lead to such depth in Bible study, just imagine what taking the time to engage the rest of Scripture on that level will lead you. Such an approach of course requires far more than sound-bite theology and Bible study, It requires time, patience, the honesty to rethink at times our positions, and a desire to follow the trail of truth wherever the Holy Spirit takes us through the course of our studies.

Here is an example of how this might work. The topic of the New Covenant often comes up in the course of discussion on many Facebook forums I belong to. The statement many make is that Old Covenant being labeled as old necessarily implies this Old Covenant has zero value or relevance for the New Testament believer. A response I typically provide to such a statement involves a series of probing questions designed to focus the conversation on investigation of the text or texts in question. I often ask “What is new about this covenant?”, “Who does Jeremiah 31 and Hebrews 10 state this new covenant is made with and why is that important?”, “Where is this new covenant being written and by whom”?, and “What are the terms of this covenant and why is it significant to understand it in terms of a marriage covenant?”. Given these questions interact with key statements in Jeremiah 31:31-33 and Hebrews 10:15-16, the purpose of asking these questions is rooted in focusing the discussion back on the text instead of what we often think the text is saying.

After these questions are addressed and some discussion takes place, the next step in the process is to start looking at what key words such as “new” and “covenant” mean. All this requires is taking a look at a quality Bible dictionary or perhaps an online tool such as www.blueletterbible.org where words meanings and other instances where that same word has been used elsewhere in Scripture can be analyzed. This also provides the opportunity for patterns and principles to be recognized and for the overall flow of thought in Scripture to impact our understanding. This may also require reanalyzing the answers to the questions that were initially asked. Do our answers still remain valid based on the further study of the passage in question and related passages.

This necessarily leads to a focus on application. Once again using the new covenant concept as an example, how does the understanding that has been gained impact how I love God and others? If this covenant is a marriage covenant, how am I being faithful to the terms of that covenant or am I? If the answer is I am not being faithful, what changes need to be made and what does Scripture have to say about that? What is the foundation upon which this marriage covenant is established and why is that important? This of course may certainly lead to another set of passages, another series of probing questions, another analysis of word meanings, and another set of questions regarding application.

This is the nonstop flow of what it means to study, understand, and apply the truth of Scripture to our lives. Does this take time and effort? Absolutely but this is after all what God commands of His people and if we truly love God, spending time in His Word should be a joy and not viewed as a chore. Digging into Scripture versus sound-bite/one-liner Twitter type study should be a no brainer. Spend time in God’s Word. There is a lifetime of treasures to be discovered. Sound-bite theology more often than not leads to half-truths and confused theology. It must be avoided.

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Michael Boling – Avoiding the Danger of “Googlegetics”

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Social media affords a great many people the opportunity to share their thoughts and opinions on basically anything and everything. From our perspective on the plain red cups being sold by Starbucks to our dismay at the latest political gaffe to cheering that our favorite sports team just won the World Series (I am guilty of that one of late), words fly around social media like there is no tomorrow.

This is not all necessarily bad. Having a place to air our voice on matters of great importance or to simply share a funny anecdote for our friends and family to enjoy is a good thing. It provides a sense of release and a sense of community, especially with those we love and our friends that we cannot regularly engage face to face.

There is a danger however with the freedom that exists with a platform such as social media and the internet as a whole. I have noticed this danger most frequently in Facebook forums, perhaps because I have spent an undue amount of time of late engaged in conversation with individuals in such forums. What is this danger you ask? I would like to label this danger as “Googlegetics”. What in this world is Googlegetics you might ask? Let me explain.

This phenomenon occurs each and every time someone resorts to the search function on their favorite web crawler in order to find the perfect quip or link to shut down another individual’s argument. If you have every spent more than five minutes looking through for example a Facebook forum where matters of theology are the focus, you will quickly notice the lack of real conversation. What has replaced discussion of Scripture is links to articles, videos, and things of that nature.

Now before this particular article appears to be a rant against videos and articles that discuss theology (because after all this article is one about theology), let me clarify there is nothing wrong with videos and articles, especially those which aptly and correctly seek to inform us on theological matters. There is quite a bit of quality information available on the internet and I often link to and encourage others to read a wide variety of information that can be found by way of a web search.

So what then is the issue? The problem resides when these videos and articles become our first source of information, our crutch if you will for the study of Scripture. We often declare our association with the Bereans yet fail to do the very thing they were noted for – searching the Scriptures to see if what they were being taught was correct. They clearly did not have the internet in order to fact check based on the writings of their favorite author or preacher or bible knowledge website. They went straight to the Scriptures.

This does not mean there is no value whatsoever in doing research. My friend Mike Leake recently wrote an excellent article addressing the problems with being what he rightly called a “Bible Only Man”. To be devoted to the study of the Scriptures does not mean we should never consult the writings of man for some insight. For instance, it is an absolute necessity in my humble opinion to have readily available a concordance and a bible dictionary when reading any passage of Scripture. If we are going to have any chance of properly declaring to the world the hope that is within us (which is the basis of apologetics), we have to grasp matters of context and the flow of thought in Scripture. A concordance will provide all the instances where a term is used in Scripture to allow you to see the variety of uses and to then hone in on how a word is being used in the particular passage you are studying. Add to that the usefulness of a bible dictionary in order to understand how the original languages intended a word to be understood and you are on the path to avoiding the danger of Googlegetics.

We run the risk of not properly analyzing and submitting to the authority of what God is telling us in Scripture when we immediately run to a web search to tell us what to think about a passage. God commands us to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. These terms note the importance of the entirety of our life being devoted to God. Our mind is included because God expects us to use it. Thus, not exercising our mental capabilities by allowing others to tell us what God has said rather than reading it, meditating upon it, and listening to the Holy Spirit as he writes God’s Word on our hearts, short circuits the utilization of our minds in the learning process. In taking that route, we are doing Googlegetics, apologetics by way of the web search instead of faithfully searching the biblical text.

I see this phenomenon far too often and admittedly, I have to say it has overtaken me on numerous occasions. The temptation is to find that perfect quote or that perfect YouTube video that will once and for all provide victory over your opponent’s line of argumentation. What should take place instead is time spent in the study of the text under discussion. Ask the correct questions of the biblical text – who, what, when, where, and why. Once you have answered those questions, look at similar texts and ask those same questions. Then look for other related texts and ask those same questions again. It is likely you will then begin to see distinct and important patterns and principles that you may have overlooked or simply have not noticed before. There is room in this process for consulting scholarly articles and other related pieces of information and yes that can include using a web search for information. I recommend doing that sparingly and only after you have conducted purposeful investigative theology. Let the text speak for itself and be willing to adjust your preconceived notions and opinions of the subject matter when the text demands. Doing so demonstrates growth and maturity in studying the Word.

Such an approach to doing apologetics and studying Scripture admittedly takes a lot of time and effort. It is much easier to do Googlegetics and to let a video or article do the talking and thinking for you. I implore you to take stock of how you are approaching conversations and debates with friends and family on matters of theology. Do you immediately resort to finding that clever one liner or that “Hulk Smash” article or video with the hopes of winning the day or do you open the pages of Scripture and do the hard work of walking together through what God is saying? The former approach is an attempt to win an argument with no real knowledge gained or seeds planted and the latter approach is the complete opposite – seeking to allow Scripture to speak, seeds to be planted, and God to be glorified in the process.

Avoid Googlegetics. Be willing to dive into Scripture. There is much to be learned, applied, and declared.

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Michael Boling – Ethical Position Paper on Homosexuality

INTRODUCTION
The issue of whether scripture denounces the practice of homosexuality or whether such prohibitions are merely the concoction of fundamentalist sympathizers is increasingly a central point of discussion in today’s society. The question of biblical doctrine and ethical behavior in relation to the permissiveness of homosexuality within the church is at a crossroads. Many denominations are increasingly allowing openly homosexual church members to attain positions of leadership with little or no condemnation. It is evident there is a dilemma on how to approach this divisive and controversial issue from both a theological and ethical perspective. This paper will examine the efforts by the homosexual community to reframe the discussion away from its traditional biblical and societal moorings while demonstrating the clear biblical design for proper sexual relationships found in both the Old and New Testaments. It will be clearly shown Scripture teaches homosexual behavior violates God’s original design for love and sexuality while bringing to the fore the biblical doctrine that sexual conduct should be confined strictly within the boundaries of a covenant marriage relationship between a man and woman.

OLD TESTAMENT ARGUMENTS PRESENTED IN FAVOR OF HOMOSEXUALITY
As noted by Professor Alex Montoya, “Much of the debate which has arisen over the issue of homosexuality comes from the approaches homosexual advocates have used in interpreting the Scriptures.” Supporters of the homosexual agenda, to include active homosexuals as well as clergy and increasingly denominational councils, have taken the position that homosexuality is not explicitly condemned in Scripture and thus should be tolerated. This attitude has resulted in not just the acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle but also the ordination of homosexuals to positions of leadership in the church. Numerous scriptures have been utilized in the Old Testament to challenge the traditional orthodox position that homosexuality is defined in Scripture as sexual perversion. While not exhaustive, the following discussion outlines the major passages in the Old Testament appealed to by homosexual advocates as indicative of either Scripture’s ambivalence towards homosexual behavior or at a minimum, the cultural limitations of any laws in Scripture that may be viewed as denouncing homosexuality. Continue reading “Michael Boling – Ethical Position Paper on Homosexuality”

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Michael Boling – The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Social Media

“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, Yahweh, my rock and my redeemer.” (Ps. 19:14)

I have been contemplating quite a bit of late this thing called social media, in particular the hold it has on society and on my own family in particular. The sheer amount of time vested in checking Facebook, updating blogs, looking at Pinterest, Tweeting, posting pictures on Instagram, watching YouTube videos is absolutely staggering. Add to that the mobility and access provided to the aforementioned social media outlets (and many, many more I might add), and we have a society every more connected and focused on what transpires digitally.

It seems to me social media can be described as a member of the good, the bad, and the ugly club. I am not one who views the idea of social media as entirely bad. Social media is a helpful medium for information and for staying connected with friends and family. Furthermore, the use of social media can be a great tool to share the truth of Scripture with a worldwide audience. I will also submit I often get a good and much needed chuckle from videos and pictures shared on social media. Those bits of humor can be a needed respite from the daily grind.

With that said, all is not puppy dogs and roses with social media. As with anything that can be used for good, social media can and does fall into the bad category. Let’s face it….social media is addictive and it was purposefully created to be that way. In an April 2017 American Marketing Association article, Hal Conick noted,

“Addictive qualities aside, social media could not thrive if it wasn’t so uniquely—for lack of a better word—social. Humans are social animals who ache for connection with others. Mauricio Delgado, associate professor of psychology at Rutgers University, explained to Marketing News in 2014 that social media activity—likes, retweets, comments—activates the brain’s reward center in the same way as a hug, smile or compliment. Social media interactions are positive reinforcement, he says, bringing favorable effects and drawing users back again and again.”[1]

In fact, the development of the FB like button and follow-in post emoji and Twitter’s heart, were purposeful creations by social media designers. Julian Morgans, in a fascinating article on this subject reveals all social media platforms “use something called intermittent variable rewards.

The easiest way to understand this term is by imagining a slot machine. You pull the lever to win a prize, which is an intermittent action linked to a variable reward. Variable meaning you might win, or you might not. In the same way, you refresh your Facebook updates to see if you’ve won. Or you swipe right on Tinder to see if you’ve won.

This is the most obvious way social feedback drives platform engagement, but others are harder to spot.

You know when you open Instagram or Twitter and it takes a few moments to load updates? That’s no accident. Again, the expectation is part of what makes intermittent variable rewards so addictive. This is because, without that three-second delay, Instagram wouldn’t feel variable. There’s no sense of will I win? because you’d know instantly. So the delay isn’t the app loading. It’s the cogs spinning on the slot machine.

Another piece of psychology hijacked by social platforms is that of social reciprocity; if someone pats your back, you’ll feel pressure to pat his or hers. Facebook exploits this by alerting you when someone has read your message, which encourages the receivers to respond—because they know you know they’ve read it. And at the same time, it encourages you to check back to read the inevitable response.

The same bits of your brain get a rush on Facebook as a set of wavy dots appear as someone writes a message. You might not exit if you think you’re getting a message, or at the very least you’re more likely to come back.”[2]

So the very design of social media platforms is to elicit an emotional and brain response meant to draw the user to the point where they are in essence addicted. It is no wonder that a quick scan of the local restaurant reveals a plethora of people with heads bowed, not in prayer over their meal, but rather over their choice of technology, posting and scrolling away vice having a conversation with those at the table.

The ugly side of social media rears its ugly head in a number of ways, starting with the addictive nature of social media. It becomes all-consuming with the basis for how one feels about themselves and others rooted in likes, re-tweets, hearts, and selfies.

Moreover, the very ugly side of social media can be found in how people interact with their fellow man. I recently wrote an article on avoiding lashon hara (evil tongue). The truths spoken of in that article feed into this issue as well. Based on my experience and observation with social media over the years, lashon hara takes place on social media largely due to the lack of personal interaction one has with the recipient of the conversation.

Prior to the submersion of society with all things technology and social media, if you wanted to speak with someone you wrote them a letter, called them, or visited them in person. This at least helped foster a more thoughtful conversation. This is not to say someone cannot be heated and engage in evil tongue through a letter, phone call, or in person. With that said, it is far easier to fire off a nasty tweet or FB post than perhaps it was to sit down and write a letter. There was something to be said for the effort of writing a letter or having that one on one conversation to include the potential for cooler heads to prevail in the process.

In a world inundated with social media, as children of God, we must always keep in mind scriptures such as Psalm 19:14. The words of our mouth, regardless of how our words are “spoken”, need to be found as acceptable in the eyes of the Father. If they are not and if you are finding your interaction and involvement with social media is not acceptable in the eyes of God, then a cease and desist order might need to be enacted. It might be time to step away from social media for a season if you find your priorities in this area of life are askew. If you find yourself constantly checking whether someone liked your FB post or gave a heart to your Tweet to the neglect of weightier matters of life, it is time, make that past time, for an honest evaluation of where your focus is in life.

I am finding on a personal note the need to step away from social media. This may seem like an odd statement given what I am sharing will be posted on a number of social media platforms. I would label an article such as this as being in the good category of social media provided I do not constantly find myself trying to check how many views, likes, and re-tweets it has garnered.

Social media can be good, bad, and ugly. I encourage you to assess where your social media participation lies. If changes need to be made, then make them soonest. Be mindful of the addictive nature of social media and the impact that addiction can have in your relationships. Most importantly, may all we do and say bring honor to God, to include our social media habits.

References:
[1] Hal Conick, “Marketing’s Ethical Line Between Social Media Habit and Addiction,” American Marketing Association, April 6, 2017, accessed July 18, 2017, https://www.ama.org/publications/marketingnews/pages/marketings-ethical-line-between-social-media-habit-addiction.aspx.
[2] Julian Morgans, “Your Addiction to Social Media Is No Accident,” Vice, May 19, 2017, accessed July 18, 2017, https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/vv5jkb/the-secret-ways-social-media-is-built-for-addiction.

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