Social Media: Some Common Sense Guidelines

I am going to take a break from my typical subject matter of Bible study tips and devotions to share with you something that we’re going to implement at our church that I believe you may find helpful.

social mediaIn less than ten years, Facebook has grown from a small network of Harvard students wanting to stay connected to a worldwide phenomenon with nearly 1.5 billion subscribers. Twitter was launched just a few years ago by Jack Dorsey. Today there are over 300 million users and that number is growing by almost 1 million per month.  From December of 2014 to September of 2015, the number of Instagram accounts grew by a staggering 100 million, to a total of 400 million subscribers.

Social media has become part of our everyday lives. It’s radically changed the mode of communication in the 21st century. Some people love it. Others hate it. But, love it or hate it, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the growing number of other social media platforms are here to stay.

God will hold us accountable for the things we speak through social media.

Social media can be a valuable tool. It can be used to report up-to-the-minute news, promote a cause or just stay connected with old friends. But like anything else it can also be used for less-than-honorable purposes.  Social media, itself, is neither moral nor immoral.  It’s like a brick – a brick can be used to build a school or break a window. How it’s used depends on whether it’s in the hand of a builder or a thief! Whether social media has a good or bad impact depends upon the person using it.

Social media is a great tool in the church world. It’s used to connect with people, social mediapromote missions, offer encouragement and even share the Gospel. Unfortunately, it’s also used as a platform for gossip and criticism. It’s sad that marital infidelity oftentimes begins with inappropriate interaction on social media. But, just like we don’t outlaw bricks because some people use them to break windows, we can’t ignore the value of social media or boycott it just because some people misuse it.

As Christians, our activities on social media must be guided by scriptural principles.  The Bible is full of instructions dealing with the tongue, meaning our speech.  Don’t think that just because social media uses written words, it isn’t speech.  The same Godly principles that guide how we audibly speak to one another should guide how we communicate via social media.

Jesus said in Matthew 12:36:

But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.

God will hold us accountable for the things we speak through social media.  Life and death is in the power of the tongue (Proverbs 18:21), but that also includes social media: Life and Death is in the power of the written text!

Paul establishes a great concept in 1 Corinthians 14 concerning our interaction with one another.  He said everything should be done unto edifying.

1 Cor. 14:26 How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying.

What a great principle to guide our social media posts and comments: Does it edify?  At Faith Apostolic Church (www.faithapostolic.us) we are going to adopt the following guide to social media use. I trust you will find it useful:

Faith Apostolic Church Social Media Guide

Understanding that God’s Word places great emphasis on the words that come out of my mouth (or keyboard!), I commit to use the following guide to help me determine if my post or comment honors God and should be posted on social media: 

  1. Is the motivation for my post or comment to make Jesus look good or just to make me look good? If it’s about exalting self, don’t post it!
  2. Does this post or comment edify those who will read it, including my family, spouse, church, fellow Christians and unbelievers?  If not, don’t post it.
  3. Will this post strengthen or diminish the unity of the members of Faith Apostolic Church?  If it does not promote unity, don’t post it.
  4. Will this post be offensive, divisive, judgmental or hurtful to my brothers and sisters in the church, my family or the community at large?  If so, don’t post it.
  5. With this post or comment, am I trying to prove my point, get a dig in at someone else, silence my critics, or make someone else look bad? If so, don’t post it.
  6. Will this post or comment honor and please God?  If not, don’t post it.
  7. Will this post or comment be something that I ever be ashamed of or embarrassed to have anyone read or repeat? If that’s the case, don’t post it.
  8. Would I say what I’m posting or commenting to the person’s face?  If not, don’t post it.

Remember, As members of Faith Aposotlic Church, we do not use social media as the platform to judge, condemn, rebuke or correct.  Jesus gave us the instructions for handling such matters in Matthew 18, and it is not Biblical to use social media for such purposes.

Remember, let all things “be done unto edifying” and when it doubt, don’t!

Pastor Matthew Ball

Social media can be a useful tool of encouragement and connection.  Let us use it as such.

~Pastor Ball

Fridays in Philippians – Joy In Adversity

Thanks for joining me for our Fridays in Philippians Devotion.  Today we’re looking at Chapter 1 and verses 12-14:

12 But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel; 13 So that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places; 14 And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.

joyPhilippians is a book about joy. It gives us the secrets to finding joy. It shows us how to preserve joy – even through tribulation and adversity. This passage in Philippians teaches us that true joy is not affected by external circumstances.

Paul was in a very difficult situation, yet still possessed deep, inner joy. His adverse circumstances did not rob him of his joy or affect his positive outlook. He was in prison while writing the Book of Philippians. He had been falsely accused and mistreated. Even some, who claimed to be Christians, were mistreating Paul and taking advantage of his imprisonment. They saw Paul’s incarceration as an opportunity to advance their own personal agenda. But even in the middle of his troubles, look at what Paul said in verse 12:

“Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel.” (NIV)

What an incredible attitude! He says, “Listen, brothers, don’t pity me. Don’t feel sorry for me. All that has happened to me has served to advance the Gospel!” Paul had the opportunity to share the gospel with the soldiers that were guarding him.  Other Christians in the region were embolden by Paul’s situation and were proclaiming the Gospel with more fire than ever before.  Although Paul was being mistreated, abused and unjustly accused, he kept a positive attitude and didn’t let his difficult circumstances rob him of his joy!

It is often difficult to see the good when you’re in the middle of difficulty. When you are suffering, in pain or have experienced loss, tragedy or death – it is hard to keep a good attitude. It’s difficult to keep the right spirit when you are being unfairly treated or falsely accused. So many people under such circumstances fall into a state of self-pity or begin to posture themselves as a victim.

But Paul finds the good! In this terribly difficult time, he finds the silver lining. joy in adversityWhat a great attitude to have – to be able to find the good even in adverse circumstances. He says, I may be in prison, but as a result of my bonds, the Gospel is being preached – and that is good!

This is a key to joy! When you can find the good in the worst of circumstances, you have unlocked a key to joy. When you can look at your terrible situation and find the silver lining, you are on the path to possessing joy in the middle of your adversity.

Paul focuses on the ultimate goal (the gospel being advanced). He understands that the Gospel being preached is God’s ultimate purpose. In the darkness of his tribulation, he sees the bigger picture. That is a key to joy – seeing the good that is happening even in your darkest seasons of life.

Here’s another key to joy: Unselfishness. I can only imagine what some people would have written to the church if they had been in Paul’s situation:

“Oh, pray for me!”

“I’ve got it so rough.”

“I’m so mistreated.”

“God has forsaken me.”

“I’m in prison and these conditions are so terrible.”

“I don’t understand why God is letting this happen.”

“Woe is me.”

But Paul’s focus is on others. What an incredible attitude of unselfishness! He is writing to the Philippians to encourage them. He is speaking of the Gospel being advanced and how, as a result of his imprisonment, other believers are waxing bold. His focus is not on himself! This is a key to joy in adversity. Keep your focus on others. Keep your eyes on the bigger picture – upon the ultimate purpose of God. Paul says, it’s not about what I’m going through, it’s about the fact that God is being glorified and Gospel is being advance because of my imprisonment. It’s so easy to get self-centered when in a difficult situation – but Paul keeps his focus on others.

This is a key to joy in adversity. Keep your focus on others.

Are you currently facing adversity or hardship? Are you in a situation that is unfair or unjust? Look for the good in your situation. There is a silver lining somewhere. God will be glorified in your situation somehow. This is a key to you having joy in the midst of your suffering.   Keep your focus on others! Don’t fall into the trap of self-centeredness when in your trial – that is a sure-fire way to lose your joy. As you focus your attention upon the ultimate purpose of God and ministry to others, you will find a deep source of joy that will sustain you through your trial!

Next week, we’ll see that Paul had joy while in adversity because he focused on three elements of a bigger picture.  Until next week…

~Pastor Matthew Ball

Bible study: How to Develop Consistency

There’s no argument about whether it adds value to one’s life. There’s no Bible Studydissent about the crucial role it plays in spiritual growth. There’s no disagreement about how it brings joy and strength to those who participate. I’m referring, of course, to Bible study. We would all agree that studying our Bible each day is a good thing. Yet all of us fail at times to be consistent in our daily devotions.

The power and anointing upon the early church believers stemmed from their diligent observance of the disciplines of Acts 2:42, one of which was continuing steadfastly in the Word. If their commitment to being students of the Word brought them success, how can we, in these closing days of peril and challenge, expect to have personal victory within and effective ministry without unless we, too, are drawing strength from the deep well of daily Bible study?

When Hosea warned,

My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge,”

he wasn’t referring to knowledge of the secular sort. He was referring to the Law of God. Our commitment to consistent Bible study mustn’t wane nor wax cold. It is not only a matter of personal effectiveness; it is a matter of survival. Hosea spoke of those who would be destroyed because they had “forgotten the Law” of God.

The busyness of our lives, the exhausting demands of work, the bible studyinsubordination of our flesh and even spiritual opposition from the enemy all work against a lifestyle of meaningful, daily devotion. But we cannot give up the fight! We cannot succumb to the roadblocks before us. We must do whatever it takes to arrange our lives with God and His Word at the center.

The scriptures rarely speak of the importance of studying God’s Word without also conveying the importance of consistency.   Jesus, Himself, said in John 8:31:

“If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed…”

We must do whatever it takes to arrange our lives with God and His Word at the center.

We need to continue in the Word. That conveys the idea of consistency and diligence. The Lord’s Prayer includes the segment, “Give us this day our daily bread.” God provided manna to His people in the wilderness on a daily basis. Consistency in our study of God’s Word cannot be overstated. I would rather a person spend 20 minutes a day in the Word and be consistent, then go weeks without cracking open their Bible and then sporadically studying for hours at a time.

Let me give you some suggestions for developing more consistency in your study of God’s Word:

  1. Just Do it. We talk about Bible study. We read books about how to study. We listen to sermons on its importance. We attend seminars on how to be a better student of it. How about just doing it! Enough talk. It’s time to walk the walk. That sounds simplistic, but you have to start somewhere. Just do it. Just open your Bible today and start a habit of daily study. Don’t put it off. “One of these days” usually means “None of these days!” I recently tweeted from my account @BibleStudy_tips (https://twitter.com/BibleStudy_Tips) the following:

Here’s a Bible Study tip: Get off twitter and study your Bible!”

  1. Establish a Consistent Time and Place to Study. It helps to build consistency in your Bible Study devotions when you study at a particular time and place. Are you a morning person? Pick a time before work or school and stick to studying at that time each day. You’ll be amazed at how quickly a habit will work for you! Set aside a specific place to study. Pick a place where distractions are minimal. Again, returning to a familiar place each day will help establish a Bible study habit.
  1. Learn How to Effectively Study the Word of God. When people don’t know how to study the Word, it’s easy to get discouraged or frustrated. Being equipped with practical Bible study tools will make your study time more productive and enjoyable. That will lead to greater consistency.
  1. Join a Bible Study Group. When we commit to studying the Word of God with other people we become accountable to others. There’s just a little more motivation to stick with our Bible study when we know a study group will miss us if we don’t attend or we’ll feel awkward during group discussion when we haven’t done our assigned homework!
  1. Pray and Ask for God’s Help. The prayers, “Jesus, help me be more consistent in studying Your Word” or “Lord, give me a greater love for Bible study” are prayers God is thrilled to answer!

I hope these practical suggestions help you develop a consistent, daily practice of Studying God’s Word.

~ Matthew Ball

Leave a Comment!  What has helped you to be more consistent in your daily devotions?

Ministry Training Clips – 5 Reasons to Submit to Spiritual Authority

trainingThe following is an excerpt from our Saturday Ministry Training at Faith Apostolic Church.  Pastor Josh Wilson is teaching about “The Importance of Being Submitted to Spiritual Authority.”  In this segment he lists 5 reasons we should be submitted to spiritual authority.

Each month Faith Apostolic Church offers a Saturday morning training event designed to help men and women develop their leadership and ministry skills.  In addition to instruction by Pastor Matthew Ball and Pastor Josh Wilson, these training events routinely include guest instructors from a variety of ministry  backgrounds.  For information on upcoming training events visit www.faithapostolic.us or check out the Faith Apostolic Church FaceBook page: Faith Aposotlic Church Carmel/Sheridan