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I love social media, if readitnothing else for its ability to communicate ideas rapidly and efficiently with a large populace of people. Social media is where the people are, and in this digital age Christians have an obligation to being present on social media. We look to the examples of Jesus and the Apostles; they went where people were present.

Too much of a good thing can become a bad thing, however. When we look at the life of Jesus and the Apostles, yes they were always present where people were gathered but they were also respectful and relational with those they came into contact with. In reading the New Testament one doesn’t really get the impression that these guys stood on street corners holding signs and shoving gospel tracts down your face. Facebook and other social media can become a similar experience if we aren’t careful. We need to use wisdom in thinking through how we represent ourselves online.

Here are a couple things I’ve thought through on this subject. I’d be interested to know your thoughts as well.

1. I’m Sorry for Blowing Up Your Facebook Wall

Really, I am. I know I can get excited and carried away – and I’m not the only one. Think about this: when people consistently only see you posting one kind of thing on social media, then they’re going to automatically assume its the only thing you think, talk and dream about. If you only post political comments and articles all day, then people will assume that is all you care to talk about. If you just post Gospel Coalition articles and theologian quotes all day, the same thing will happen.

Whether intentional or not, social media is a place where its very easy for us to get pigeon-holed. When non-Christian folks see their Christian friends only posting a bunch of Christian related material, you’re no longer a relatable human being. You’re just a guy whose hobby is reading Christian blogs.

Instead, I think we as Christians need to be intentional about seeing our presence on social media as an opportunity to open up a window into sharing our lives with others. This includes our family life, our church life, our work life and our hobbies. Why? Because Christianity isn’t just a bunch of blog articles and theological quotes, but its an entire worldview and way of life. When we offer people a window into the latter and not the former, we are now people who can relate with others from a distinctly different worldview. When we build relationships with people from this worldview, the doors are open for sharing the gospel.

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2. Less is More

One of my church’s leaders recently made a comment to me that really articulated what the Christian blog/social media machine feels like. He essentially said that often in the Evangelical (specifically Reformed) scene, we have far too many leaders, authors and bloggers all sharing and writing about the exact same thing. When a large Evangelical charity organization does something disappointing, do we really need 5 dozen blog posts about it? What kind of message does that send?

Carry this scenario downstream and what ends up happening every time something “big” happens in the church is that everyone starts posting a multitude of articles written by a host of different authors about the exact same thing. Now, most of these articles are really well written and communicate truths that I wholly agree with, but what does it look like when a large majority of Christians on Facebook start sharing the 5 dozen posts all over social media? Honestly, it makes us look mean, angry, and divided; like our only objective is ganging up on people until their reputation and livelihood are completely destroyed. Whats worse, I fear that many of these blog posts are written more for the sake of driving site traffic than genuinely edifying the church.

There aren’t any lines in the sand that can be drawn here, but we need to be wise about how much of and what we write about in this increasingly social and digital age. What would it look like instead for less articles to be written about these big issues and events because key pastors, leaders and authors were taking the time to meet, pray and talk through these things for the Church?

3. Be Careful About What You Post

The temptation in trying to share our lives with people online is that we can open the window a little too far. Men, be careful about what you post and make sure its respectful to your wives and families. Ladies, don’t post suggestive selfies. Remember, the point of opening a window into our lives on social media isn’t to look just like everyone else, but to show our lives from a distinctly different point of view.

Another note here: parents, be careful how much of your kids you post on Facebook. Many kids are growing up today with their entire life documented on the internet by the parents. Not only is this unnecessary, but its not safe for your kids. Please use caution.

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4. Enough With the Arguing

Because of its inability to communicate tone or intent, social media is a place where arguments never, ever go well. Its time for Christians to just stop engaging in arguments on social media, and the internet in general – especially in public places like twitter feeds and Facebook statuses. Not only do these arguments make us look dumb and stupid, but we aren’t loving on folks if we aren’t engaging them relationally and in a more personable manner. We can – and should – do better than that. J.I. Packer says that we need to “earn the right” to evangelize, and these kind of public internet debates don’t help that cause. After all, winning an argument on the internet is like arguing over third place in a pie eating contest – at the end of the day, you still look silly. Take the high road, and if you want to talk to someone about something important, do so privately.

What about you? Do you agree with these points? Do you have any others to add?

He bore my sin on Calvary’s tree
And Righteousness bestowed on me
That I might see his face.
God justified me, set me free,
And glorified I soon will be:
How marvelous this grace.
-James Montgomery Boice

—–

After two years as a committed Calvinist, I’m done. No longer will I wear the quotes of dead white dudes on my sleeves; no longer will I stand committed to cleverly articulated doctrines in the shape of a flower.

Well, at least, not formally.

It has long been my conviction that titles and labels in Christianity are helpful so long as they serve to point people to Christ and stir their affections for Him. Labels and distinctions are helpful to communicate what and why we believe to be true about Christ, the Church and his Word.

The problem is, the term “Calvinism” often draws more hatred than it does stir affections; it turns people away from Christ rather than drawing them to Him. I’ve noticed this happens for one of three reasons: either 1) people don’t understand “Calvinism” and so they draw caricatures or interact with a false depiction of it, writing it off as cruel or mean, 2) people mistakenly think “Calvinists” worship Calvin over Christ, or 3) they’ve only interacted with cocky, prideful people who mistakenly believe themselves to be “true Calvinists.”

Taking these three things into consideration, I’m giving up on “Calvinism” and the five points of TULIP. Where these terms have failed, it is now my purpose and intention to elevate the grandeur and grace of my King Jesus Christ. You see, my King is gracious and worthy to be worshiped beyond all comparison. There is no one more worthy of his praise. Even if he were not gracious and kind to us he would still be worthy of all my worship because that is just who he is.

Yet, he is gracious. He’s so loving and gracious to us that we can’t begin to fathom it. Without Christ, all of us are dead in a rebellious state against the creator (Romans 3:9-18, Ephesians 2:1). When the Bible says dead, it means dead. Corpse. Lifeless. Incompatible with life. But in his kindness to us, knowing the consequences of our sin is death (Romans 6:23), he predestined a plan for us in the fullness of time (Ephesians 1:10-11).

This plan is Christ our Savior. On the cross, Jesus died for his sheep (John 10:11). The definiteness of his death is what enables the Apostle to say that before the foundations of the world he knew us! This efficacious grace in our lives does not mean we are robots just waiting for God to make a move. To paraphrase one of my favorite Christian artists, it was while we were dead and a slave to sin that we were actually robots. True freedom of our will only come when Christ breaks into our reality and frees us from life in the machine.

When Christ graciously, lovingly, and rightfully makes himself King of our lives he holds us tight in his hands. We are not held tight in his hands only, but because Christ and the Father are one we are held tight in the Father’s hands as well(John 10:28-30). What assurance this is! So much grace is given to us that the grace of God does not only save us but keeps us. Those whom Christ proclaims as his are kept until the very end. This is not some trite saying of “once saved always saved.” No, those whom the father saves he restores, and those whom he restores he fuels to obedience and good works. Those who are redeemed will be known by their works, those who are not known by their works are not redeemed (James 2:18).

This life, this inheritance, this adoption as a son or daughter is grace. Sweet, loving, amazing grace. Who are we to argue about this love? Who are we to deny the grace and love of our Father in heaven and diminish it to some argument over labels and titles? I do not love “Calvinism” because I worship Calvin; I am grateful to the work of Calvin and saints of history past for their work that helps point me to Christ, increasing my love for Him. If we decline the hard work and labor from the history of the Church, we are cutting ourselves off from the richness revealed to our forebears by the Holy Spirit.

Abraham Kuyper once said, “The special trait of Calvinism [is its ability to place] the believer before the face of God, not only in His church, but also in his personal, family, social, and political life. The majesty of God, and the authority of God press upon the Calvinist in the whole of human existence.” The sad reality is that many people who claim “Calvinism” do not live the way Kuyper outlines, favoring instead cockiness, arrogance and pride. Brothers and sisters, this should not be so! How can a doctrine that is all about the necessary grace and love of a God far greater than we can imagine ever make us prideful!?

The only hallmark of true Calvinism should be that of a penitent spirit, someone who wakes up in the morning and cries out, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner” (Luke 18:13). This kind of posture of the heart can never take the form of pride or arrogance. B.B Warfield explains the “Calvinist” as “humble souls, who, in the quiet of retired lives, have caught a vision of God in His glory and are cherishing in their hearts that vital flame of complete dependence on Him.”

But as I said, I’m done with “Calvinism.” Seeing as how the name and fragrance of its tulips deter people from the grace of the King, from now on I will primarily and solely speak of His grace sans labels. See, I don’t want to convince anyone of “Calvinism.” Oh Lord would it not be so! No, I want to convince you of grace. If and when my “Calvinism” begins to get in the way of that more often than not, then I’m done with the title. My motivation is now to live my life in such a way that when you ask me why I live the way I do, I can confidently say “Grace.” Or, what was formerly known as “Calvinism.” No labels, no titles, no doctrines wrapped up in a pretty bow. Just grace.

SolaWednesdayFinal

Question 3.

Whence knowest thou thy misery?

Answer.

Out of the Law of God.

—–

Writing Checks to Mel Gibson

As you consider this new film, remember that we have been here before. Remember that there are a lot of people hoping to make a lot of money from this film. Remember that God promises to bless the preaching of his Word, not the display of that Word on the silver screen. Don’t expect a movie to do the Word’s work.

Escaping the Prison of the Self: C.S. Lewis on Masturbation

For me the real evil of masturbation would be that it takes an appetite which, in lawful use, leads the individual out of himself to complete (and correct) his own personality in that of another (and finally in children and even grandchildren) and turns it back: sends the man back into the prison of himself, there to keep a harem of imaginary brides. And this harem, once admitted, works against his ever getting out and really uniting with a real woman. For the harem is always accessible, always subservient, calls for no sacrifices or adjustments, and can be endowed with erotic and psychological attractions which no real woman can rival. Among those shadowy brides he is always adored, always the perfect lover: no demand is made on his unselfishness, no mortification ever imposed on his vanity. In the end, they become merely the medium through which he increasingly adores himself…. And it is not only the faculty of love which is thus sterilized, forced back on itself, but also the faculty of imagination.

A Break-up Letter to Matt Walsh

And I don’t think reading your blog is helping with that. Whether I agree with you or not, all you do is make me mad. And what’s worse is, you’re funny and charming while you do it. You make me like being mad. And I don’t want to like being mad.

So, I feel terrible for doing this. But I’m breaking it off, before we get too serious.

The Scottish Reformation

And while this stool is hurling through the air towards the minister, Jenny Geddes is said to have called out, “The devil cause you colic in the stomach, false thief! Dare you speak the Mass in my ear?” Well, like I said, this is one of my favorite stories in church history. Wouldn’t you love to meet Jenny Geddes? They say there is a sculpture of the stool that she would have sat on there in St Giles’ as a memorial to her.

You’re Not a Superhero

You see, when you admit your limits, you’re a humble and restful person. You’re humble enough to admit weakness, always open to learning. And you’re restful, because you know that control is in the hands of God – and not yours.

 

SolaWednesdayFinal

How to keep Your “I Do” In the Present Tense

Two more months passed and a fox named cancer tried to raid my home.

He is a wily one, he is.  We fought him when he called himself Non-hodgkins Lymphoma.  We fought him when he called himself Hodgkins Lymphoma.  We fought him when he called himself myelodysplastic syndrome and we fought him when he called himself Acute Secondary Leukemia.  And still we fight on.

Depression and the Pastor’s Wife: Suffering in Silence

Finally, let me encourage you that God knows your need. He knows where you are and He will be faithful to you in these moments. The work that Christ did on the cross provides forgiveness for our sins and our short comings and gives us the freedom to walk with God and not lose his favor. The work Christ did provides healing for our souls. You are not alone in your struggle, you are not alone in your darkness, and you are not alone in your pain. God is real and his people do care, and he will bring you through this struggle with a greater love and dependence on him.

Three Reasons to Get Some Sleep

Christian, life is short. You should get some sleep.

Bill Nye vs. Ken Ham: Are evolution and religion at odds?

A recent Pew Research survey finds that most Americans (60%) say that “humans and other living things have evolved over time.” But a third of U.S. adults (33%) reject that point of view, instead saying that humans have existed in their present form since the beginning of time.

Yes, I Happen to Think other People are Wrong and So Do You

Note, my belief that other people are wrong and I’m right in this situation isn’t really a moral issue. I’m not particularly arrogant for believing myself to be correct, nor am I implying that they’re particularly stupid for disagreeing with me. Nor does this imply that I am not open to correction on this belief. It just naturally follows from the fact that I hold something to be true. Actually, all it means in this case is that I happen to be closer to the window and have been able to see that the world really is a certain way that they don’t see yet. In fact, when I state the belief, ‘It is raining right now’, my focus is not on my correctness, but simply on the fact that it’s raining.

The Many Faces of Queen Latifah: Black Female Sexual Identity in a World that Needs Jackie Hill

The Black Church has often dropped the ball when addressing this most difficult of issues. We need to confess it when we do. But we need to keep leaning into this issue because the very notion of beauty and sexuality are being defined by a culture replete with Cover Girls portraying womanhood in confusing ways. All of our mothers, sisters and daughters are affected. They join us in our worship and they live in great need of the Lord’s grace. It’s the task of pastors, elders and the entire church family to see to it that they receive this grace in our congregations. We must preach the gospel in such a way that all people hear the free offer of salvation from our merciful God. We must preach the Bible’s vision of gender roles in a way that welcomes and celebrates feminine diversity. We must do the careful disciple-making work that helps young women through periods of sexual confusion, questioning and experimentation. And in the meantime, we Christians will have to learn how to be discerning about the images our favorite entertainers as we offer support and critique. I want the Queen Latifahs of the world to succeed and be saved. The church and the world actually need more Jackie Hills.

How I Beat Back the Darkness After Rape

A week later, the pastor showed up at my doorstep in the middle of the night, ostensibly to escape the incessant phone calls of one of the women. Before I knew it, he was in my apartment, behind me, on top of me. Immobilized, I wept.

Church Planting in a Trailor Park

I have learned that their struggles and sins are no different than any other ethnic group. Low-income whites want to have a better life for themselves and their children. Some of my closest friends within the community do not look like me, but the time spent with them and listening to their lives has secured a level of respect that allows me opportunities to speak the Word of life to them. I desire for the poor–regardless of their ethnicity–to see, hear, and experience the power of the Gospel across every aspect of their lives.

The Myself I Was Yesterday

He shall not cry. He shall not display weakness. He shall not need affection or gentleness or warmth. He shall comfort but not desire comforting. He shall be needed but not need. He shall touch but not be touched. He shall be steel not flesh. He shall be inviolate in his manhood. He shall stand alone.