Facebook Meets Wisdom

I?m on Facebook. You?re on Facebook. Your kids, mom, youth group, and dog hang out in Facebook world. The site can be a useful tool, allowing you to chat with friends, post pictures of your ?Anakin Skywalker? themed birthday party, and send little notes to your pals like, ?Haha, LOL, C U L8TR? (I?m being a bit sarcastic ? I do like the site).

But Facebook (or Myspace, Twitter, etc.) also poses unique temptations, and we must think biblically about how we and our children use the site. Each of us needs to answer the question: How do I use Facebook for the glory of God?

Here are three major categories to think through in evaluating your use of Facebook:

Relationship with God

Facebook is a source of everlasting entertainment. It?s so easy to bounce from page to page, game to game, photo to photo. It?s mindless, distracting, and somewhat fun. Without self-control, a quick dip into Facebook can turn into a two-hour Internet safari.

Is it wrong to spend two hours on Facebook? Not necessarily. But it has the potential to drain the vitality out of our relationship with the Lord. Can you relate?

Try these questions on for size:

-??? Does using Facebook result in me spending less time with the Lord?

-??? Does it result in me being more distracted in my devotional times?

Relationships with Others

We were made for real, person-to-person relationships. Superpoking, chatting, and throwing snowballs at each other doesn?t constitute biblical fellowship. God created us to ?bear one another?s burdens? (Gal. 6:2), ?meet together? (Heb. 10:25), ?rejoice with those who rejoice?, and ?weep with those who weep? (Rom. 12:15) This doesn?t usually happen in a meaningful way on Facebook.

So?

-??? Do I invest more time in Facebook relationships than face-to-face relationships?

-??? Does using Facebook take me away from my family, friends, church, etc.?

Temptation

Just like television, music, and movies, Facebook is a loaded gun when it comes to temptation. Flirting, sexually immoral applications, sensual sidebar ads, inappropriate pics uploaded by friends ? it?s all possible. Can it be avoided? Sure. But the fact that it exists should put us on guard every time we log in.

And so we ask?

-??? Is using Facebook causing me to be sexually tempted?

-??? Am I taking the appropriate, biblical measures to fight against these temptations?

I don?t have this all figured out. I wrestle through these issues on a regular basis, and I would encourage you to wrestle through them as well. Parents, talk to your kids about these things. As you learn to use Facebook for the glory of God, teach your children to do the same.

Should we abandon Facebook because of these temptations? I don?t think so. But we need to think carefully and biblically every time we logon.

Here are a few articles that I found to be particularly helpful:

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What The “F” Chord Taught Me

In February of ’64, watching the Beatles’ American debut on the Ed Sullivan show, I sat transfixed, as if I were seeing live footage of a newly-discovered mastodon.? I decided to learn guitar, perform to screaming throngs of teenage girls, and run through the streets of Liverpool trying to escape said girls.

With great excitement I began my lessons on a shiny new rented guitar.? The velvet lining inside the case smelled better than a new car. I was on my way to stardom.

But, surprise – learning guitar takes work!? Hours? practicing hand-contorting finger positions, learning scales and rhythms.? And the “F” chord – even when my spasmodic fingers reluctantly agreed to go where I wanted, I could only produce from the strings a dull plunk.

But slowly, tediously, discipline became delight. I eventually learned to play, formed a band, made lots of music in high school and college and to this day still enjoy playing. Never did run through the streets of Liverpool…

The principle applies to the Bible as well as guitar.

Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart… JE 15.16

First, discipline: We must “eat” God’s word – take it in, chew on it, seek to apply it to our lives.? Delight will eventually follow as we know God and experiencing his blessing.

“I believe that the one chief reason that I have been kept in happy useful service is that I have been a lover of Holy Scripture.? It has been my habit to read the Bible through four times a year; in a prayerful spirit, to apply it to my heart, and practice what I find there.? I have been for sixty-nine years a happy man; happy, happy, happy.” – George Mueller

We must seek God’s grace for discipline.? Delight will surely come.

photo by nemusns

The Humility of Lamar Odom

To my knowledge, Lamar Odom (power forward for the L.A. Lakers) is not a Christian. Yet he models a humility that should be the goal of every Christian athlete, and in reality, every Christian. Sports Illustrated recently ran an article about Odom which contained the following quotes:

The Los Angeles D-Fenders are the Lakers’ developmental-league affiliate; they practice in the same gym and play on the same court as the NBA players but reap few of the other benefits. “Most guys at that level [of Lamar Odom] don’t have time for us,” says guard Brandon Heath. “But L.O. is always telling us to come over to his house, offering to take us out to dinner.”

I love that humility! It reminds me of Romans 12:16: “Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly.”

The article continues:

Sharing has long been part of his game. Growing up, Odom’s idol was Magic, not Michael. He preferred to dish rather than dunk. “When we had college scouts come watch us, he wouldn’t shoot,” says Arbitello [a former teammate]. “He wanted to make everybody else look good.”

This attitude is the exact opposite of mine. I want to make myself look good. I want to be the high-flying, high-scoring, player of the game who impresses everyone. And not just in sports. In every other aspect of life as well. I want to be the guy that looks good, and I don’t get excited when someone else is praised. Philippians 2:3 says, “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”

Finally, Odom’s personal trainer says:

Lamar’s a pleaser. He wants to throw you an alley-oop and give you a pound on the way back down.

I want to be like Lamar. I want to celebrate and rejoice in the successes of others.

Husbands – This Book’s For You

My friend Larry McCall recently wrote Loving Your Wife As Christ Loves the Church, a thorough, doctrinal, and practical book for husbands.? Each chapter begins by focusing on how Christ loves his bride, the church, then teases out practical applications for imitating Jesus in loving our wives.

Great quotes from teachers like Alistair Begg, John Piper, and C.J. Mahaney pepper the pages, as well as real-life examples from Larry?s own marriage.? He teaches us how to encourage, equip and romance our wives and avoid such pitfalls as lust, flirting, and divorce.

Here?s a quick overview of a few chapters:

Chapter 1 ? The Perfect Husband.
Though many lack a role model of a godly husband, God provides his Son, who models sacrificial love for his bride for us to imitate.

Chapter 2 ? A Predetermined Love. God chose us in eternity knowing we?d always be utterly unworthy of his love.? So we too must love our wives unconditionally.

Chapter 4 – A Peerless Love.
Adultery begins in small ways in the heart. Larry explains how to repent if we?ve been hooked, how to resist temptation, and develop a ?good offense? by cultivating love for our wives and enjoying marital intimacy

Chapter 5 – A Practical Love. We should regularly say, ?I love you,? and show it as we serve, share the load at home, and actively listen to our wives. ?Our wives don’t want us to fix them. They want us to care?about them and how this issue might be affecting them.”

Chapter 9 – A Passionate Love.
Romance involves talking, time, touching, and thoughtful actions. Sex is a matter of giving, not just getting.

Chapter 12 ? A Pardoning love.
Christ is patient and forgiving. We too must forgive as Christ forgave us.

Every chapter ends with discussion questions and action steps for private devotional use or with a group. I just ordered it for our church book store.? You can get it at Amazon.com.

What Is A Successful Christian?

What makes a successful Christian? Who?s number one on God?s ?most impressive Christian? list? Is it:

  • The mega-church pastor who preaches six times on Sundays, writes chart-topping books, and has his own podcast with really cool rock music (probably U2) at the beginning? Maybe.
  • The children?s ministry volunteer who dispenses fifty-three pounds of goldfish crackers to sweaty three-year olds every Sunday? Maybe.
  • The homeschooling mom who deals with large volumes of laundry and baby poop on a daily basis? Maybe.

In Matthew 25:14-28 Jesus spells out a blueprint for success that?s very different from our standard definitions of success. You know the story. A master is preparing for a journey and starts dishing out the Benjamin?s to his servants.

The first servant gets five talents, the second gets two talents, and the third gets one talent.? Servants one and two immediately hit the streets, putting their talents to work in the cause of the master. Servant number three digs a hole and buries his talent. The master returns.

Servant number one stands before his master and presents him with ten talents, a return of 100%. Servant number two? One-hundred percent ROI. Servant number three presents the master with a big fat nothing. He simply returns the talent he was given.

The response of the master is incredible. To the first two servants he says:

Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.

No reference to the numbers. No talk of the bottom line. The master highlights the faithfulness of the servants. You have been faithful over a little. That?s it.

A successful Christian is someone who faithfully uses their talents and circumstances to further the cause of God. Numbers don?t equal success. God is impressed with faithfulness. The faithful pastor of 20 is just as pleasing as the faithful pastor of 2,000. The faithful small group leader is just as pleasing as the faithful mega-conference worship leader. God doesn?t ask for big results, he just asks for faithfulness.

So the question of the day/year/century/eternity is: are you faithful?

+photo by Xavier Fargas

Free Song for Twitter Peeps

Last week I was doing some songwriting and I came down with a bad case of writer’s block. I just couldn’t come up with the right words. So I asked for some help from all of you out there in cyberworld, and you came through with flying colors. I got something like 35 responses in an hour. It was great.

Now I’m giving some music back. Last year my dad and I worked with Sovereign Grace Music to put together an album called In A Little While. Today I’m giving away one of my favorite songs on the album, “Be Exalted O God”, written by my dad.

Here’s how this works. If you use Twitter:

  • Send a reply to @stephenaltrogge with the word “SONG” so I know you actually want the song.
  • I’ll send you a direct message with a link to download the song.

Sound good? Enjoy the song.

The Biggest Sinner In The House

Not only did Jesus knock Paul off his horse on the road to Damascus, he knocked the self-righteous stuffing out of him as well.? The proud Pharisee came to see himself as the worst sinner he knew.

The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost (1 TI 1.15).

Was Paul exaggerating for shock value?? Or was he some kind of self-loathing Eeyore who needed a big dose of self-esteem?

No. Paul realized that every sin is infinitely evil, because it is against an infinitely holy God, and requires the infinitely perfect blood of Christ to remove it.? He simply had a realistic view of his own sinfulness.

When I view myself as the foremost of sinners, it’s so much easier to forgive others, because no matter what they may do to me, I’ve done worse to God, yet he saved and forgave me.

I crucified Christ.

My sins ripped the flesh off his back, rammed the thorns into his head and hammered the spikes into his hands and feet.

I’m the biggest sinner in the house.

I’m the foremost sinner in my marriage: How can I not forgive my wife when God has forgiven me for slaughtering Jesus, the apple of his eye?

Foremost sinner in my family: How can I fume at my kids, when I?ve jilted God longer than they’ve been breathing, and still do despite all the years I’ve read the Bible, listened to sermons and received innumerable blessings?

Foremost sinner in my church:
How can I smolder against my brother’s sins, when my mountains of iniquity have been washed away by Christ’s blood?

Maybe people have hurt you deeply and you’ve suffered much.? Though it may be difficult, ask Jesus today for grace to see yourself as the foremost of sinners, and for grace to forgive, as he has forgiven you.

photo by pterantula