Christianity 201

May 30, 2021

Social Media Detoxification

Rebecca Brand lives in Auckland, New Zealand, with her husband, Kieren, daughter, Sarai, and their rescue dog, Nala. She has blogged for years at RebeccaBrand.org, has spoken nationally and internationally and is the author of Life’s Greatest Battles. We have borrowed two articles from her on this subject, so readers, please reciprocate by clicking the headers which follow and reading this on her site.

Hello, From the Other Side

Over the last two months, I have embarked on a detox for my soul, and it has been life-changing.

You see, at first, it hadn’t dawned on me that I had stumbled into the rat race of social media…I had unintentionally wanted to start to find the “best time” to post (because that is when “my followers” are most “engaged”. I had also started to think about the social media “algorithms”, and how post-after-post on Instagram and Facebook would tell me why I wasn’t good enough, and that these other people had the key to “success” in getting more followers, more engagement, and ultimately, more “famous” (like, what does that even mean?).

I had realized that I had innocently become a consumer on what these social media giants wanted all along – my time, and ultimately, what they hoped for, was my money.

I was tired of waking up, and not spending as much time with God, in order to create “the post” (which ironically was about God) that would speak to “more people”.

For the last six years, blogging was like my “daily diary.” I’d spend time with God and then write what was on my heart. I loved the simplicity of whatever revelation the Holy Spirit had given me for that day – I’d write about.

But Holy Spirit had started to show me that I was spending more time on social media and less time with God, and so I stopped, with repentance in my heart, and a cry in my soul, to truly reconnect with my saviour.

One day, before I went on my soul detox, I stumbled across #fakefamous on Netflix. As I was watching, it was as if a veil of deceit had come off my eyes!

Friends, when something takes our eyes off Jesus – no matter how many times we tell ourselves, that this is our “ministry” – it’s a lie, and we need a heart check.

God never wants us to be more focused on anything other than Himself. We need to ask ourselves some hard truths about why we want more likes, shares and saves…because I know for myself, I wanted more followers, and I had unintentionally started comparing myself!

Let’s stop giving the enemy what He wants and restart to connect with our ultimate true love

“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else”

Matthew 6.33

Why Are We Still Striving?

I used to believe that I wasn’t striving, but over my two-month social media detox, God showed me that I, along with many others, still are

The catchphrase “actions speak louder than words” rang true in my ear because it was the first time that when God told me to take the break, I saw people start “unfollowing me” and (no offence), but I didn’t care

A few days ago, I wrote on when I watched a program called “Fake Famous”, and it opened my eyes to how fake social media can be. Honestly, it showed me that although we have people on our profiles who engage with our content, more often than not, the numbers that are represented aren’t an accurate representation

For the first time, and I continue to be, at peace in seeing my numbers decline because I am not interested in having fake accounts or bots follow me. This was never my intention in the first place, and yet, there I was, checking out, daily, my stats and wondering where I was going wrong?

Things have shifted in my life. I realized that I was striving to bring in large numbers as I believed that that would allow the messages God has placed on my heart to have a wider reach. Yet, Jesus changed the world with twelve faithful followers, all located right before His eyes, so why do we strive for anything less?

Kieren and I have been praying into our church – which launches end of June – but, again, we would rather have ten people “on fire” for God to change our city, our region, our nation, and beyond, than a church of ten-thousand that are “sleeping”

My absolute favourite song at the minute is “Jireh” by Elevation Worship, but a few lines within that song became true for the first time in years…

“I’ll never be more loved than I am right now”

“Wasn’t holding You up so there’s nothing I can do to let You down”

“God is enough”

Friends, when will we truly get the revelation that God loves us unconditionally, and so, He doesn’t need our ministries, but He has only ever wanted our hearts?

Let’s stop fooling ourselves. Let’s stop striving and be who God has called us each to be…

A child of God

“Give me your heart and let your eyes delight in my ways”

Proverbs 23:26

October 18, 2020

Living in a Time of Un-Civil War

Today we return again to The Serener Bright, and writer Ian Graham, pastor of the church Ecclesia, located in West Trenton, New Jersey. Click the title below to read this at source; it’s a most timely article.

Psalm 39: Passing Guests

Psalm 39 is a psalm for a digital age, the context that Alan Hirsch calls an “un-civil war.” For many of us, we’ve been knee-deep in the comments section or in a discussion on a social media thread and felt our face getting hot, our blood beginning to boil, and our fingers set the cursor into motion with words that (hopefully) would soon be deleted or filed in a drafts folder never to see the light of day. The Psalmist writes:

I will guard my ways that I may not sin with my tongue;
I will keep a muzzle on mouth as long as the wicked are in my presence.” I was silent and still; I held my peace to no avail; my distress grew worse, my heart became hot within me. When I mused, the fire burned; then I spoke with my tongue
:
(vv.1-3)

David is clearly in no emotional state to be responding to his neighbors. Any words that he offers are going to be from the dizzying frenzy of fight or flight and if his words are any indicator, flight is not on the menu. But notice, David doesn’t internalize all this strife and absurdity and then finally boil over, spewing hot lava on anyone who happens to be in the vicinity. Rather, David’s words are directed towards God:

Lord, let me know my end, and what is the measure of my days;
Let me know know how fleeting my life is.
You have made my days a few handbreadths, and my lifetime is nothing in your sight.
Surely everyone stands as a mere breath. Selah
Surely everyone goes about like a shadow. Surely for nothing they are in turmoil; they heap up, and do not know who will gather.
(vv. 4-6)

David’s frustrations, his agony, his anger are all due to the people he faces every day. Yet his words turn a different direction, looking past the veil of flesh and blood to the unseen world of the divine. David channels his angst into a plea not for vengeance or vindication, but an awareness of just how fleeting his life is. Ultimately, David knows that it is God with whom he must deal.

In the presence of real wickedness (v. 2) and real indignation, David is undone not by his own righteousness but by the weight of the hand of God pressing at the places of vitriol within his own heart.


“You chastise morals in punishment for sin, consuming like a month what is dear to them; surely everyone is a mere breath” (v. 11)

Somehow in the throes of this moment, David finds himself in the court but he is not simply the plaintiff, the victim, he is in the docket himself. The judge has reserved his questioning not for his opponents but for him. And David begs God to turn away his piercing gaze:

Hear my prayer, O Lord, and give ear to my cry; do not hold peace at my tears. For I am your passing guest, an alien, like all my forebears. Turn your gaze way from me, that I may smile again, before I depart and am no more.” (vv. `12-13)

It may seem strange. A psalm which begins with David confidently strolling into the courtroom ends with him pleading for just a moment’s reprieve of mercy. But this is often where God meets us in our anger, at the cutting edge of justified rage and the desire to belittle, to treat others with contempt, and—as Jesus will later make explicit—to kill. God is not blind to the the injustice that David endures but he is also not blinded to the reactions of David’s heart.

It’s often the moments where are most right that we are most vulnerable. God will not leave us to wallow in our vitriol, even towards the wicked, because our hearts are too valuable for him to ever look away from. Psalm 39 beckons us back to ultimate reality, it is God that we must face. Even in judgment, the Lord turning his face to us is a blessing of unrelenting commitment. He will not leave us as a passing guest but comes and makes his home with us. Selah.


Bonus links:

Today I want to share with you two videos which have been on my screen this week.

The first is John Walton speaking to students and faculty at Wheaton College on his reading of the Old Testament. 30 minutes. Click this link.

The second is also from Wheaton College’s YouTube page and contains a message from N.T. Wright on “The Good Life in Uncertain Times” followed by Q&A. 53 minutes. Click this link.