Archive for category Social Commentary

Rebellion

george-washington-inauguration

For most of human history, transitions of power from one tribal leader, chief, or king to another has been a bloody affair.  Even among God’s people, the transfer from king to another was a time of purging.  In 1 Kings Chapter 2 we see Solomon ridding any threat to his court by having Benaiah kill his brother, Adonijah, David’s captain of the guards, Joab, and a dissenter of David’s whose name was Shimei.  Likewise, Solomon banished the priest, Abiathar.  As civilized as most historians paint the Roman Republic, almost every transition from one Emperor to another was in no way peaceful or civilized.  The same has hailed true for centuries until the United States Constitution demonstrated a new way of transferring power through peaceful means.

Since the penning of that great document, we have been blessed with 45 such transitions.  Although there were great divides at times during those presidential inaugurations, none have resembled the Coup d’etat of other countries past or present.  We are truly blessed to have lived in such times.

We often forget the great blessings God has bestowed upon this land.  The blessings of freedom, tranquility, prosperity, general welfare, and hope just to name a few.  I know that there are some who may not share that sentiment and even at the time of this transition from one political force to another, will gripe, and bemoan America, the flag, the new president, the electoral college, and their fellow Americans.   I don’t agree at all with their rebellion, but I do understand that their rebellion is based on fear.  For when there is fear, there is a lack of faith.  And where there is a lack of faith there is murmuring, bickering, moaning, lamenting, crying, tantrums and general ingratitude.

                No matter what happens to this country, our faith in God should not waver.  To rebel in any matter is not righteous behavior and grieves God.  1Sam. 12:15 But if you will not obey the voice of the LORD, but rebel against the commandment of the LORD, then the hand of the LORD will be against you and your king. 

Truly the most destructive of sins is rebellion. Satan’s rebellion against God is at the heart of why we live in a world of sin and darkness.  Throughout the Old Testament, rebellion against God and His commandments has been the undoing of His people (Dt.13:5; Josh. 22;16-22; 1 Sam.15:23; 1 Kings 12:19; 2 Chron.12:19; Ezra 4:19; Jer.28:16; 29:32; 33:8).  In the New Testament we are told that before our Lord returns that the rebellion will come first.  This rebellion is accompanied by a lawless man, a man of destruction.  Notice that  the three go together; rebellion, lawlessness and destruction.  2Thess. 2:3  Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction.

                While I am writing this article, men, women and children are rebelling against the new President and Constitution of the United States.  Some are protesting peacefully, and that is their protected right under that Constitution. Some are rioting, bent on destroying property and people in their way.  Those that are throwing rocks, breaking windows and destroying property are like children who did not get their way, screaming, wailing and pitching a fit until they are pacified. Rebellion is an act of ingratitude, a demonstration of a lack of maturity. (you won’t see many people over 50 rioting).   When a person is discontent or unhappy, going to God in prayer, asking for help and resting on His blessings is the answer. Throwing a temper tantrum is not!

            Of course this country was founded on the principles of rebellion against a King.  Perhaps that is why most of the signers of the Declaration of Independence died poor and broken men.  I suppose there are times in which men will and must rise up against tyranny.  Perhaps God will allow this country to continue and will bless us many more years with peaceful transitions.  Whatever may come of this country, is in God’s hand.  Let us make sure we are not in rebellion of Him.

Pro 17:11  An evil man seeks only rebellion, and a cruel messenger will be sent against him

Darryl Fuller

Political Potluck

200187871-002Watching one too many debates these past few months has left a bitter taste in my mouth and a dull thud within my cranium.  The main course is nothing more than grandstanding served with a gravy of dishonorable bickering and a side dish of tattle-tailing. I’m starving for substantive dialogue and hoping that the dessert tray will at least have some kind of humble pie. In years past, opponents from different parties could conduct a respectful and honorable debate. They referred to one another as the “loyal opposition”. Now, they will kill one another within their own party before they can even begin the struggle with the opposition.  This of course, is not relegated just to the political arena, it is a reflection of America in general. Truth is, we’re fed up with one another, even our own slices out of the same loaf of bread.

What did we expect, when we are constantly in pursuit of the well-being of “Me”?  Look at the feast of “Me”!  We “tweet” about who I’m with, what I think, how I look, how sad I am, how happy I am, how lonely I am, how mad I am, etc.  We post on Facebook the accomplishments of my day, my awards, pictures of myself, my family, my friends, my job, my pets, my hobbies, my children, my cooking…. boring!  We go out to eat and no one is engaging in conversation…except with their phone. Conversation with another human being? No! That would mean that someone would have to listen.  It’s a world economy driven by the commodity of “Me”.  Marketers, advertisers, media, government all would rather I care about myself and no other.  It’s not a new phenomenon, but one that unfortunately arises when a society cares little if nothing for God.  God warned us about it exhaustively throughout scripture.

Exhibited in Christian lives should be the command from Paul in the Philippian letter.  Phil. 2:3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.  Imagine if all the candidates in this upcoming election displayed that tough, character. Well, the choice would be just as tough, but now, for a good reason.  Imagine if everyone displayed that character in their lives.  You would immediately solve health care issues, incarceration issues, bankruptcy, debt, child welfare, immigration, and race relations just to name a few.

One of our problems today is a lust for winning! No matter the cost. We are a highly competitive society. It begs this question: What’s more important winning or honor?  We expel much to “outdo” or “one-up” each other.  The Bible teaches otherwise.  Rom 12:10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.  In the Far east, especially Japan and China, bowing to one another is not just a courtesy, it is a way of showing honor and respect.  In our country and most of the western world, a hand-shake is the equivalent.  However, I find it to be more of a courtesy and less of a show of honor or respect.  Matter of fact, we’re somewhat competitive in this as well.  How often have you shaken someone’s hand and they turn your hand down so their hand is on top? They win!  Or they barely grab your hand at all. It’s as if you’re holding a dead fish or a wet rag.  Talk about disrespect!

Of course the worst idea in our world today is to be a servant.  The fact is, we are all servants in some form or fashion.  We serve ourselves pretty good, how come we can’t do the same for others? We serve our house, our car, our education, our vacation, our children our pets but don’t dare refer to me as a servant or slave.  “We’ve not been a slave to any man”, said the Jews to Jesus in John 8. In truth they’d been slaves to the Egyptians, the Philistines, the Midianites, the Arameans(Syrians), the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Greeks and were indeed slaves to the Romans as they uttered these words.  Jesus said it best;  Matt.20:26-28 It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave,  even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” 

No matter what the candidates and the world decide to do, let us begin by choosing to serve and honor our fellow man.

Darryl Fuller

The Root

roots2Let’s just get down to the root of the problem; shall we? Let’s not fool ourselves, anymore into believing we can fix the ills of this world and the world around us with money.  Let’s not be delusional, believing that if we just give more money to charities or governments that it will somehow fix the problem.  The problem is not with cash flow; it’s with hearts! The root of all of man’s woes, is his separation from God.  The fact that we were already removed far from God by our sinful nature is made worse when we turn and go in the opposite direction. Man’s ills are resolved only when man chooses to follow and learn what to do to please the Creator.  All other endeavors, even those that appear good but lack Godly authority, are futile. Ecc 12:13 The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. (See alsoEcc.5:7, Ecc.8:12; Gen.22:12; Deu.6:2, Deu.10:12; Psa.111:10, Psa.112:1, Psa.145:19, Psa.147:11; Pro.1:7, Pro.23:17; 1Pe.2:17; Rev.19:5)

                        My enemies in my yard are poison ivy, poison oak and sumac.  I’ve spent a great deal of time cutting them down from trees and spraying them with Roundup and for a time have prevailed in ridding them from those places.  Over time however, while I was living my life, these invasive creatures have slinked their way through the ground and found other trees and bushes to grow on.  So they will go, on and on in this cycle of me cutting and spraying, and the dreaded vines stealthily finding new vegetation to thrive on until I trace the vines through the ground, pulling up all the roots that have buried themselves deeply, for there is the heart of the poisonous vines, their roots.  Cutting the vines off the trees works for a while.  Pulling up the roots works for a lifetime.

                We get a lot of mail in the church mailbox, wanting us to donate money to this mission or that charity in order to house, feed or clothe people.  I observed one particular piece of mail from the Festival of Hope, conducted by Franklin Graham, the son of Billy Graham.  The front of the brochure read, “HOW ARE WE GOING TO CARE FOR THOSE WHO RESPOND TO THE GOSPEL?  The first thing that popped into my mind was this verse from Matt. 15:33 And the disciples said to him, “Where are we to get enough bread in such a desolate place to feed so great a crowd?” The disciples are concerned about the people’s stomachs; Jesus is concerned about their hearts. The root of the problem is not in addressing physical needs, rather it is in addressing spiritual needs. Feeding them may help temporarily, nourishing their souls will last eternally. When we attempt to address physical needs only, we are attacking the vine, rather than the root.

                By placing the emphasis on the salvation of the soul first, we aren’t disregarding basic needs.  Instead, we’re more in tune to see and attend to those needs by first addressing the greater needs of one’s eternal soul.  We are commanded to care for the needs of those around us, especially our brothers in Christ.Jas 2:15-16  If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food,  (16)  and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? The emphasis throughout God’s word is on providing spiritual food rather than physical.  Consider that when Jesus commanded Peter to feed His sheep three times, He wasn’t talking about fodder.  God knows our needs more than we, yet the children of this world think they know better. They clamor loudly that we must feed, clothe and house the poor. Mat 6:31-33 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’   For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.  But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

                We now have twenty six primary candidates running for the White House in 2016.  Each has voiced what he or she believes to be the underlying problems that face our nation from foreign terrorists, economic woes, education, taxes and immigration.  They’re all wanting to cut the vines to fix the problem.  Not one candidate has yet to address the root, that we are a nation moving further and further away from God.  Until we get at the root of fearing and obeying God, all our “problem fixing” is ultimately futile.  For our part, teaching and proclaiming the Good News to a lost and dying generation is where we should concentrate our energy.  Find the root!

Darryl Fuller

He hasn’t left. We have!

prayerWe’ve had it good for a long time now! Since the stock market crash of 1929, the ensuing depression and World War II, the lives of Americans have been, generous and plenty. We’ve been recipients of both national wealth and peace. Although we’ve had a few minor skirmishes, the loss of lives due to war since World War II have been less than 10% of the 600,000 killed in the Civil War, and most of those came from the conflict in Vietnam.  The GNP (Gross National Product) has, even despite recent out of control spending, grown steadily since the end of WW ll. Since that great conflict, the second and third generations of Americans have no idea what it is to be in want of food or deprived of a home because of war.  We live in what shall surely be described years from now as the age of the Pax Americana.

However, we have forgotten from whence come our blessings. There are scores of statistics that bear the truth of our infidelity from God and our lurid affair with the wicked world.  Sex is the tool to sell everything, including hamburgers.  Fornication flourishes in the name of tolerance and for fear of being labeled a bigot.  Legalization of illicit drugs expands instead of fighting the thugs and drug lords who enslave us. Citizens capitulate to misfits and criminals on our city streets, which slowly leads us on the road to anarchy.  Young women parade themselves as prostitutes, even taking pictures of themselves in little or no clothing, posting them to Facebook or Instagram. When they are violently raped on college campuses, we wonder how this could be. We make alliances with foreign nations, who shout “Death to America”, and burn our flag. Religious leaders reject truth in order to fill their pews. Yet every night, across America, bars are packed, internet porn sites are  visited, lurid shows of sex and violence are turned on and our nation grows further and further away from Him who blessed us with all that we have.

This phenomenon is not new, and as often as it has been visited upon other nations, you would think that a “civilized” and educated public such as ours, could and would get it!  One such example is that of the Israelites under the reign of King Asa.  Three short chapters in 2 Chronicles record  Asa did what was good and right in the eyes of the LORD his God.  He took away the foreign altars and the high places and broke down the pillars and cut down the Asherim   and commanded Judah to seek the LORD, the God of their fathers, and to keep the law and the commandment. Quickly, the history shows that Asa was good and he led the people in the way of goodness. With time opposition from the Ethiopians came against the children of Israel. They brought an invading force of 1,000,000 men and 300 chariots.  Asa prayed to God for deliverance, and God answered with a total annihilation of the Ethiopians. In chapter fifteen, God continues to tell us of Asa’s good reign and his renewed promises to God. 2Ch 15:12-13  And they entered into a covenant to seek the LORD, the God of their fathers, with all their heart and with all their soul.. And so it was36 years of peace and prosperity for the children of Israel. Then in the 36th year of King Asa’s reign, he did something foolish!  He relied on his power and that of a foreign power, Syria, to ally against his brothers of the Northern tribes. 2Ch 16:8-9  … Yet because you relied on the LORD, he gave them into your hand.   For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him…

                The last five years of Asa’s reign are sad and his reign ends with him dying from a malady of his feet. 2Ch 16:12  …Yet even in his disease he did not seek the LORD, but sought help from physicians.

            Before the calamity at  the end of Asa’s reign, God warned him in 2Ch 15:2  … “Hear me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin: The LORD is with you while you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will forsake you.

                We must prevail upon our neighbors to seek God!

Darryl Fuller

Evil Triumphs, When Good Men Do Nothing.

 

xZUz4V_webIt’s not been my modus operandi to comment or write in regard to domestic or foreign political posturing.  However, the stench that promotes themselves as holy warriors for Allah, the group which President Obama will not even say by name, ISIS, incites my pen. I can and must pray for their wretched souls, that they find in their hearts that which they are so quick to violently destroy. I realize that I have it easy when I sit at my desk 10,000 miles from where these demons butcher the innocent and proclaim with words how evil and barbaric they are.  I’m so grateful to God that we have men and women who are called upon, and are willing to risk their lives to protect the innocent.  May God be with them all as they endeavor to rid our world of such heinous actions.

The thuggery and malevolent horrors that we are witnessing are not new or more frightening than other events we have witnessed.     In recent years, these atrocities have been carried out on innocent children and women in many parts of Africa and Southeast Asia with little or no fanfare. Since the beginning of World War I, a hundred years ago, when Turks slaughtered 1.5 million Armenians, it has been the century of mass murders.  Over 100 million people have been eradicated, an average of 1 million per year, because of a few bullies.  These people are cowards, who hide their faces behind masks, flags and ideology striking fear into the hearts of men through terror. Hitler never even got his hands dirty! He simply attached himself to a group of street thugs called the Brown Shirts, using terror and intimidation to frighten the German people into submission.  He even scared the British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlin so much, that he gave Hitler Czechoslovakia in order to have peace. Some peace!

We may not be able to stand up to the bullies on the other side of the world, but we can certainly stand up to them in our own backyard.   Pro. 28:28 When the wicked rise, people hide themselves, but when they perish, the righteous increase.  You may recall an Andy Griffith episode where Opie is confronted with a bully every day on the way to school.  The bully has successfully intimidated Opie out of his milk money, but instead of incarcerating the punk, like Barney promotes, Andy wants Opie to stand up to the menace, to be brave and resolute.   He doesn’t want Opie to start a fight. He wants Opie to defend his right to walk down the street without being bullied.  Even though the confrontation is scary for Opie, the result is victory! Bullies are only bullies when they can intimidate.

 When we hide from confronting the wicked, as the Proverb writer proclaims, the wicked will increase.  I’m not advocating violence of any measure to use in dealing with thugs, but  I do encourage us to be bold with God’s holy words. He has equipped us with, the sword of truth (His Word!) to pierce the heart and soul of our adversaries.  We must be willing to stand up to those who use coarse and filthy language.  We must stand up to those who promote evil intentions such as fornication, idleness, drunkenness, pornography, illicit drugs, wanton disregard for children or humans in general.  If we continue to allow such behavior to go undeterred, we should not be shocked when gangs begin to show up in our neighborhoods, raping, burning and beheading the innocent.  (Read 1Pe 3:11-12 )

 

Darryl Fuller

May God Bless America

flagWhy do you force me to witness injustice?
Why do you put up with wrongdoing?
Destruction and violence confront   me;
conflict is present and one must endure strife.
For this reason the law lacks power, and justice is never carried out. Indeed,  the wicked intimidate  the innocent. 
For this reason justice is perverted.

Sounds like the prayer of many in our land today, doesn’t it? I believe many of us who strive to serve God and His righteousness, are often perplexed by the apparent unraveling of our society and the world in general.  You may have expressed these very sentiments; Why do You let the wicked people of the world run over the innocent? Why do You tarry with evil doers?  Why do You allow such lawlessness?  Why, God, would You allow ruthless men to rage with hatred and animosity towards those who seek to serve You?  Although the prayer above resonates with our world and our times, the words were penned some 2600 years ago by the prophet Habakkuk (Hab.1:3-4) during the reign of Jehoiakim (608-598 B.C.) of Judah.

The nature of Habakkuk’s complaint to God, in verses 3-4, can be better appreciated when one examines the four words he employs to describe his perception of Judean society. “Violence”, “iniquity”, “oppression”, and “destruction” are strong words that contain moral and spiritual overtones. In order, they depict a society that is characterized by malicious wickedness (Gen.6:11, 13; Ps.72:14), deceitful iniquity—both moral (Job 34:36; Isa.29:20) and spiritual (Isa.66:3), oppressive behavior toward others (Isa.10:1), and the general spiritual and ethical havoc that exists where such sin abounds (Isa.59:7)

I, like most Americans, am very proud of my country and its great and wonderful history.  As we celebrate its birthday this weekend, I am ever mindful of the sacrifice and bloodshed made on our behalf. I am grateful to God and those who came before us, paving the way for our comfort and freedom, creating a nation built on the Godly principles of liberty, justice, hope, freedom, and brotherly love.

                Now, take God out of the picture and within a generation liberty becomes tyranny, justice fades, brutality prevails. Hope and freedom are replaced with despair and subjugation. Brotherly love turns to mistrust and contempt, murder and strife.  That was exactly the recipe for disaster that the children of Israel faced during the prophecy of Habakkuk.  I don’t believe we are as far along as the children of Israel, yet!  Maybe we can look back to the days of Isaiah, some  hundred years before Habakkuk and learn valuable lessons about the reaction of the Israelites to the prophecies concerning their nations:

For these are rebellious people –
they are lying children,
children unwilling to obey the Lord’s law. 
 They  say to the visionaries,
“See no more visions!” and to the seers,
“Don’t relate messages to us about what is right!
Tell us nice things, relate deceptive messages. 
 Turn aside from the way, stray off the path. 
Remove from our presence the Holy One of Israel.”
Isaiah 30:9-11

The greatest thing we can do patriotically this 4th of July weekend is to remind our fellow citizens what great things we have in being blessed with such great freedom.  We should remind them how great it was when as a nation we first sought God instead of wanting Him out of the way.  We should demonstrate to them that being a citizen of His kingdom first, translates to a blessed kingdom here.  Let us welcome the message of God, love His words and teachings, and accept His divine will and judgments.  To deny His presence in our society will someday mean no more celebratory 4th of Julys.

 

Darryl Fuller

The Narrow Way

I warned a person one time, emphatically even, that they were about to marry someone that would bring them trouble and sorrow. It did not go well! I was young and not as experienced in this sort of counseling, but I knew the facts and knew that this person would regret their course. I was correct. The marriage was a travesty, heartache, pain and sorrow. The marriage only lasted a couple of years. I’m not proud that I was right, on the contrary, I feel remorseful that I didn’t do a better job of warning. The person I warned nearly slapped me. The verbal punches I took were far worse.sweetcakes

Sometimes the stances we take or the principles we uphold in proclaiming the gospel gather the same reaction from our fellow man. We are simply trying to demonstrate through our lives or our words a moral behavior that is, we pray, in keeping with our Savior. It is because of these narrow paths, (Mat 7:13 “Go in through the narrow gate, because the gate is wide and the road is spacious that leads to destruction, and many people are entering by it), that we will face persecution. When preaching to someone the wrongs and the rights, you can expect an angry reaction.

It appears that the day has come that a refusal to associate or trade with someone who is going down the broad path infers “hatred”.  The owners of “Sweet Cakes by Melissa” in a suburb of Portland, Oregon, refused to provide a cake because their Christian faith rejects homosexual practices. The lesbian couple who requested the cake then filed a discrimination complaint with the Oregon Commissioner of Labor. That investigation is pending. After the complaint was filed, homosexual activists began conducting demonstrations at the shop and targeting the bakery’s vendors.  Aaron Melissa said the opposition came from people who are simply intolerant of the Christian view of homosexuality, “They’ve been militant. The best way I can describe it is they’ve used Mafia tactics against the business,” he said. “In fact, I just found a social media site where a guy actually said that he’d like to find us and slap the expletive out of us. But, as far as the Mafia tactics, basically [they said] if you do business with Sweet Cakes we will shut you down.” Their business dropped by half within a short time, so they have shuttered the business and moved it into their home. The discrimination complaint is now being handled by the attorneys with no end in sight. An Oregon government official was criticized by pro-family groups last month after stating the goal of investigations into discrimination complaints, “Is never to shut down a business” but instead “to rehabilitate.”

Those who were demonstrating their right to run their business based on their religious convictions were accused of “hate crimes” by those who were actually exemplifying hatred! If I go into McDonald’s without shirt and shoes, you better believe (and rightly so), they’re not going to serve me. Does that mean McDonalds is a “bunch of haters”? Of course, not! The truth is, this isn’t about being refused a cake. It’s about having morals called into question and people who are acting immorally hate having their morals (immorals) called into question.

Paul told Timothy that to be a follower of Christ would mean hatred from the world 2Ti 3:12  Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.  Jesus proclaimed Mat 5:11-12  “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.  Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. He also said in Luke 21:17-19 You will be hated by all for my name’s sake.  But not a hair of your head will perish.  By your endurance you will gain your lives.  If we’re doing what we’re supposed to be doing, and that’s proclaiming the gospel, through our lives and our speech, we will suffer persecution. Rejoice! John 16:33  I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

One of the toughest jobs must be nursing. Nurses must put up with so much abuse for the sake of caring. They have to listen to moans and groans, back-talk and crying.  They have to do the dirty jobs of changing out beds and garments soiled with human waste. They must endure the risk of infectious diseases, bacteria and germs of every kind. Their hands and garments are stained with the blood and bodily fluid of others.  They must endure the heartache of young and old alike who are sick with pain or dying.  At times they have to quarantine and separate loved ones in order to save them.  Often they must instruct the sick on how to care for themselves, garnering hostility and resentment. They are caregivers and to some extent they suffer or are persecuted in order to give this care.  We must see ourselves as these caregivers, willing to endure the persecution that will come in proclaiming the rights and wrongs. Warning people that they’re heading down the wrong path may not garner you any thanks, but you may very well save souls!

Reinventing the Wheel

I’m not opposed to change, mind you, just wary of it. This past week I’ve succumbed to the inevitable by joining Facebook.  I feel like the last man on Earth who has resisted the dreaded bite of vampires or zombies, only now I’ve been overwhelmed and cannot resist the hordes at my doorstep. Okay, maybe I’m over dramatizing here a wee bit (I do not mean to imply that Facebook users are zombies or vampires) but some change in life is a bit, shall we say, frightening!  Now, to most of you out there who have been involved with this form of social media for some time, you’re probably thinking, “What is he so afraid of”? Pro 26:13  The sluggard says, “There is a lion in the road! There is a lion in the streets!”social_media_icons

Facebook is, as I’ve come to observe, a great way to communicate with friends and loved ones on a continual basis.  The exchange of ideas and events in one’s life to others no longer requires a correspondence through letters that may take a week or more turn around. People that were long ago friends or just mere acquaintances are, all of a sudden, my close friends.  I will, of course, use it to do my part in spreading and teaching the gospel. Perhaps, with God’s will, some friend of a friend or some associate will hear His voice through our exchanges and come to Him before it’s too late. In all such cases, Facebook should be a tool of letting our light shine, and strengthen one another through prayer requests and encouraging notes.  For this part of any social media, I say, “Amen!”

All of that being said, I will no longer seek to ridicule or lambast Facebook from the pulpit or the pen. However, I will, as it is my duty, seek to teach and encourage my friends and brethren to use this resource wisely and diligently, and understand its temptations and pitfalls.  Following are a few things to consider about the social media.

Social media enables the spread of unreliable and false information. 49.1% of people have heard false news via social media.1 On Sep. 5, 2012 false rumors of fires, shootouts, and caravans of gunmen in a Mexico City suburb spread via Twitter and Facebook, caused panic, flooded the local police department with over 3,000 phone calls, and temporarily closed schools.  Remember our Master’s words in John 8:44  You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. Whenever you post or read a post on Facebook, check your source of information carefully! Don’t be guilty of participating with Satan in spreading lies.

Students who are heavy social media users tend to have lower grades. Students who use social media had an average GPA of 3.06 while non-users had an average GPA of 3.82, and students who used social networking sites while studying scored 20% lower on tests.2 College students’ grades dropped 0.12 points for every 93 minutes above the average 106 minutes spent on Facebook per day.3 Two-thirds of teachers believe that social media does more to distract students than to help academically.4 Facebook may be a great way of helping your children stay in touch and communicate with other Christian children, but sacrificing their academics is not the goal. Pro 22:6  Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.

Social networking sites entice people to waste time. 40% of 8 to 18 year olds spend 54 minutes a day on social media sites.5 36% of people surveyed listed social networking as the “biggest waste of time,” above fantasy sports (25%), watching TV (23%), and shopping (9%).6  When alerted to a new social networking site activity, like a new Tweet or Facebook message, users take 20 to 25 minutes on average to return to the original task. In 30% of cases, it took two hours to fully return attention to the original task. We are supposed to demonstrate and practice good stewardship of the time God has blessed us with. These statistics bear truth to the fact that we are all pretty guilty of wasting our time socializing rather that evangelizing. Eph 5:15-16  Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise,  making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.

The use of social networking sites is correlated with personality and brain disorders, such as the inability to have in-person conversations, a need for instant gratification, ADHD, and self-centered personalities, as well as addictive behaviors.7 Pathological Internet Use (caused or exacerbated by social networking use) is associated with feelings of loneliness, depression, anxiety and general distress.8  The 2013 Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is evaluating “Internet Addiction Disorder,” for inclusion. A 2008 UCLA study revealed web users had fundamentally altered prefrontal cortexes9  due, in part, to the fast pace of social networking sites rewiring the brain with repeated exposure.10   This really shouldn’t come as a shock. The Bible clearly warns us that our mental state is to be guarded and filled with His goodness. Php 4:6-8  Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Social media causes people to spend less time interacting face-to-face. A Jan. 2012 Center for the Digital Future at the USC Annenberg School study found that the percentage of people reporting less face-to-face time with family in their homes rose from 8% in 2000 to 34% in 2011.11  32% of those surveyed were on social media or texting during meals (47% of 18-34 year olds)12 instead of talking with family or friends.  Our children are growing up in a world where personal, face to face, social interaction is being replaced by cyber-interaction. This in turn has profound effects on seeing other human beings as God-created, free moral agents with an eternal soul.  The urgency of sharing the Gospel wanes when all you’re dealing with is millions of pixels on a computer screen. Php 4:1  Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.

Social media posts cannot be completely deleted and all information posted can have unintended consequences. The Library of Congress has been archiving all public Tweets from Twitter’s Mar. 2006 inception forward.13 Facebook was named as a source of information in one-third of all divorces filed in 2011.

Criminals use social media to commit and promote crimes. Gangs use the sites to recruit younger members, coordinate violent crimes, and threaten other gangs. Offline crime, like home robberies, may result from posting personal information such as vacation plans or stalkers gaining information about a victim’s whereabouts from posts, photos, or location tagging services.

Social networking sites can lead to stress and offline relationship problems. A University of Edinburgh Business School study found the more Facebook friends a person has, the more stressful the person finds Facebook to use.14 According to a Feb. 9, 2012 Pew Internet report, 15% of adult social network users had an experience on a social networking site that caused a friendship to end, 12% of adult users had an experience online that resulted in a face-to-face argument, and 3% of adults reported a physical confrontation as the result of an experience on a social networking site. 15

Again, Social Medias such as Facebook can be used for good in helping us teach and preach the gospel to our friends and neighbors. As we go about using this great resource, let us do so mindful of the many dangers and pitfalls it presents for our families.  Become proactive in regulating its use with your children and yourself.  Remember always to let your light shine, for when others read your posts on Facebook; they’re reading from a servant of the Master.

Darryl Fuller

References

 

Pros and Cons.org

1 Kristin Marino, “Social Media: The New News Source,” www.schools.com, Apr. 16, 2012

2 Paul A. Kirschner and Aryn C. Karpinski, “Facebook and Academic Performance,” Computers in Human Behavior, Nov. 2010

3 Jimmy Daly, “How Is Facebook Affecting College Students’ Grades [Infographic],” www.edtechmagazine.com, July 2, 2012

4 Leslie Lanir, “Digital Information Overwhelms and Distracts Students,” www.decodedscience.com, Nov. 4, 2012

5 Victoria J. Rideout, Ulla G. Foehr, and Donald F. Roberts, “Generation M2L Media in the Lives of 8- to 18-Year-Olds,” www.kff.org, Jan. 2010

6 Mark Dolliver, “Social Networking: A Waste of Time?,” www.adweek.com, Oct. 7, 2010

7 ConsumerReports.org, “Facebook & Your Privacy: Who Sees the Data You Share on the Biggest Social Network,” Consumer Reports, June 2012

8 K. Wolfling, M. E. Beutel, and K. W. Muller, “Construction of a Standardized Clinical Interview to Assess Internet Addiction: First Findings Regarding the Usefulness of AICA-C,” Journal of Addiction Research & Therapy, 2012

9 Tony Dokoupil, “Is the Onslaught Making Us Crazy?,” Newsweek, July 16, 2012

10 David Derbyshire, “Social Websites Harm Children’s Brains: Chilling Warning to Parents from Top Neuroscientist,” Daily Mail, Feb. 24, 2009

11 USC Annenberg School Center for the Digital Future, “Special Report: America at the Digital Turning Point,” www.annenberg.usc.edu, Jan, 2012

12 Joann Pan, “Tweets at the Tables? More of Us Mix Social Media and Food,” www.mashable.com, Feb. 29, 2012

13Matt Raymond, “How Tweet It Is!: Library Acquires Entire Twitter Archive,” www.blogs.loc.gov, Apr. 14, 2010

14 David Gutierrez, “Facebook Is Making You Miserable, Scientists Find,” www.naturalnews.com, Nov. 29, 2012

15 Lee Rainie, Amanda Lenhart, and Aaron Smith, “The Tone of Life on Social Networking Sites,” www.pewinternet.org, Feb. 9, 2012

 

“The handwriting is on the wall”

Luke 21:13  This will be your opportunity to bear witness.

I’ve heard this expression a lot lately; “The handwriting is on the wall”. Folks all over are genuinely concerned about the things that are going on in our country and to some degree are a little scared. Unlike Belshazzar who couldn’t determine the signs of the time, we see the writing on the wall and grow a little fearful of what is happening in front of our eyes. Dan 5:5-6 Immediately the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of the wall of the king’s palace, opposite the lampstand. And the king saw the hand as it wrote.   Then the king’s color changed, and his thoughts alarmed him; his limbs gave way, and his knees knocked together. An even clearer picture of the  “handwriting” is evident by looking at the attitudes of our fellow countrymen towards God’s word.  Recently, a study and research polling facility in California called the Barna Group, conducted an exhaustive nationwide survey. On behalf of the American Bible Society, they interviewed 42,855 individuals across America to determine if they were “Bible minded”. They defined “Bible-minded” people as individuals who typically read the Bible each week and who strongly assert Scripture is accurate in the principles it teaches. What they found was disturbing: 91 out of 95 markets (cities), a whopping 95 percent, are not “Bible-minded.”

The study ranks the top markets for Bible-mindedness, and not surprisingly, the South, known for years as the Bible belt, is at the top of the list.

Knoxville, Tenn., Shreveport, La. and Chattanooga, Tenn., all have 52 percent of their respective populations being Bible-minded. They’re followed by Birmingham, Ala. (50 percent), Jackson, Miss. (50 percent), Springfield, Mo. (49 percent), Charlotte, N.C. (48 percent), Lynchburg, Va. (48 percent), Huntsville-Decatur, Ala. (48 percent) and Charleston, W.V. (47 percent).*

The least Bible-oriented markets tend to be from the Northeast, especially the New England area. The lowest score came from Providence, R.I. at just 9 percent. Ironically, the city’s name actually refers to God’s divine providence. Albany, N.Y., is next from the bottom at 10 percent.*

Putting this in perspective, the most Bible-minded markets are five times more likely to have residents who qualify as Bible-minded than is true in these two Northeastern cities.

The New England area is home to most of the markets in the bottom 10, including Burlington, Vt. (16 percent), Portland, Maine (16 percent), Hartford, Conn. (16 percent), Boston, Mass. (16 percent), Buffalo, N.Y. (18 percent) and New York City (18 percent). The remaining markets in the bottom 10 are primarily in the West and include San Francisco (16 percent), Phoenix, Ariz., (17 percent), and Las Vegas (18 percent).*

What is evident from these statistics is what we’ve really known for some time; that God and His word are not important or even relevant to a large portion of our nation. With this information  comes the inevitable conclusion that the “handwriting is on the wall” and therefore the end must be near. After all, the scriptures clearly state Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people. Pro 14:34  and  Therefore my people go into exile for lack of knowledge; their honored men go hungry, and their multitude is parched with thirst. Isa 5:13. However, let’s not jump to too big a conclusion, just yet.

It would be real interesting if we could have conducted a survey of 42,000 individuals across the Roman Empire say around 45 AD.  I dare say we wouldn’t find percentages as good as those mentioned above, because most of the world then, except for Jews, were pagans and knew nothing of the true and living God. The Apostles had the daunting task of preaching to a world that had no understanding of God or were to any extent, “Bible minded”.  For many at that time the “handwriting was on the wall”, and God’s judgment did fall on them. However, it was at this precise time that God also brought salvation into the world and the church grew exponentially. In other words it was a prime time to plant new seeds.

Maybe the “handwriting on the wall” is not “Look out, the end is near”, but rather, “Get up and teach someone the gospel before it is too late.”

Darryl Fuller

* Joe Kovacs – WND Faith, Jan.30, 2013