Where is Jesus in all this new social web technology? part 1


The other day I was present at a men’s breakfast meeting of one of our local churches.

The topic of this breakfast meeting:

 We’ll have plenty to eat and all your questions regarding Facebook, Twitter, the internet etc, etc will be answered!!

The questions were addressed at a panel of experts all involved in IT and internet in daily life. There were a lot of questions from a very basic level as to what are these social networking sites, how do I protect my children from them, to where is Jesus in Facebook, Twitter, Google+? ( I could not help wondering at times that not being “in the know”, distrust and a call for protection went hand in hand).

Christians and the social web: bipolarity appears to reign

The questions came a midst a seeming division of camps in the Christian world. Last year the Pope called out to Christians to embrace these networks as a way to proclaim the truth.

If technologies are used with wisdom, he explained, “they can contribute to the satisfaction of the desire for meaning, truth and unity which remain the most profound aspirations of each human being.”

The “Christian way” of being present in the digital world means being “honest and open, responsible and respectful of others,” he explained. It is a way of communicating that is consistent with the Gospel, supported by actions worthy of the same witness in one’s daily life.

“New and more complex intellectual and spiritual horizons (and) new forms of shared awareness” are opened up by new technologies and Christians are also called to proclaim their faith in God in these spaces, the Pope said.

“Believers who bear witness to their most profound convictions greatly help prevent the internet from becoming an instrument which depersonalizes people, attempts to manipulate them emotionally or allows those who are powerful to monopolize the opinions of others,” he said.

Christ’s truth is not a question of online popularity, the Pope added, rather, it is “the full and authentic response to that human desire for relationship, communion and meaning which is reflected in the immense popularity of social networks.”

While noting that “direct human relations” are always essential to sharing the faith, he invited Christians to”confidently and with an informed and responsible creativity, join the network of relationships which the digital era has made possible.”

Having a Christian presence online is based not only on a desire to be there, but “because this network is an integral part of human life”
Source: Catholic News Agency 

At the same time however

Chicago parish advises churchgoers to keep kids away from social media 365 days a year, the Chicago Tribune reports:

“[Facebook] is exactly the opposite of the Christian culture where people go into the secrecy and sacredness of the confessional to blot out their sins forever,” St. John Cantius parish leaders wrote in the church bulletin.

The warning was directed at families trying to raise their children in a wholesome environment. It indicted social networking sites for encouraging vanity and dishonesty by providing an outlet for children to create their own electronic version of reality. It also pointed out, for example, that acronyms such as PIR (parent in room), POS (parent over shoulder) and GYPO (get your pants off) can lead children far astray.

“God entrusted parents with the care of their children for one particular purpose, and that is to teach them the way ‘to know, love, and serve God in this life and save their souls hereafter.’ Everything leads us to think that Facebook fits poorly into this plan and was devised for a very different goal.”

In an interview with NPR,Presbyterian pastor Bruce Reyes-Chow suggested worshipers not give up Facebook or Twitter for Lent or any other reason:

If social media is addictive and it’s holding you back from connecting to God and your understanding of spirituality, then, yes, by all means, pull back. But I think that oftentimes social media is allowing people to be church in a way that is unprecedented in our culture today. In fact, we should figure out, how do folks use social media even more effectively to be church during this time is another way to look at it.

There appears to be a bi-polar perspective so typical almost of the Christian world at large. The very relevant question “WHERE IS JESUS IN ALL THIS NEW TECHNOLOGY”  remained rather unconvincingly answered during that particular breakfast meeting. Hence an urge to expand on this a bit more in this series of posts.

Without  a doubt I can agree with the panel of experts that the internet is a great resource, makes it possible to be uplifted listening to worship music while doing other things. I can relate to that, I thoroughly enjoy listening to worship music myself, but in all fairness that is no valid argument to be online, I can go ad buy an album or listen to a Christian radio station for that. I do believe that as a resource the internet has opened everyone up to incredibly good teachers, from a church organisation and preacher/teacher’s perspective it is fantastic that your teachings may be available well beyond the wall of your church. From a personal perspective, I have had tremendous benefits from some of the sites out there with amazing speakers and sermons available to watch, listen, read, to name a few:

And there are of course hundreds more. All great resources all great places to hang out. But that does not answer the question Where is Jesus in all this new social web technology? 

The Great Commission

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28: 18-20 NIV

Now the great commission applies to ALL followers of Christ, I think we can agree on that. I think we can also agree that as Christians we are “in Christ.” With that said, you could answer the question “Where is Jesus in all this new social web stuff” with the simple reality that it is in the participation of you and other followers of Christ.

Our participation, the sharing of our lives and thoughts, either publicly or using more private parts of the technology may well be part of that great commission. Sure enough I like facebook to stay in touch with friends, family and my home church Harmony, but over the past years, I have found it an invaluable tool to support others, ask questions, answer questions.

15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.

Just as in daily life, the way we live our lives and the way in which we live out our relationship with God will make a difference and the visibility thereof may well be a better way to  “make disciples of all nations”  may well be a better way to teach than trying to be the next ‘sermonizer’ on the net.

From a personal perspective, I think every life is worth sharing; it is not ours in the first place, and social networking sites like facebook are a great way to exemplify and or illustrate what it means to be “in the world but not off the world” (John17:14-15).  Does that mean I NEED TO BE ON FACEBOOK, GOOGLE+, TWITTER, HAVE A BLOG ETC? Not at all, but if I want to be the world than that is part of it, a part I choose to participate in, and I have found it to be the way to get to know others well beyond the boundaries of my own community.

As a father I will add, it is pretty simply the world our kids grow up in and understanding what is happening around them I see as part of my responsibility as a parent and teacher and last but not least I think it is fun, so why not?  And please be clear I do not see it as a replacement for real face to face relationships but as a complement to those relationships and a door to a wider network of interpersonal relationships.

Does this mean that as Christians we have to be on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, that we have to have a blog: I think the answer to that can be a short and sweet NO, but we can, and I did.

In summary

I think the question as to why participate in all this social media stuff: because you can, because your children and their friends will. As a parent I see it as my responsibility to keep up (as good as I can) so I can guide my children. Besides that because it is one way to be a light in the world and love God and others. It may not be your way but that is between you and God.  I agree with pastor Chow

But I think that oftentimes social media is allowing people to be church in a way that is unprecedented in our culture today.

Where Jesus is in all this social media? In the participation of each and every follower of Christ in this new technological stuff.

More in part 2, about the fear and perceived dangers expressed during the meeting.

 

Book Review: Destined to Reign


Destined to Reign: The Secret to Effortless Success, Wholeness, and Victorious LivingDestined to Reign: The Secret to Effortless Success, Wholeness, and Victorious Living by Joseph Prince

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When I became a follower of Christ it was after a long journey of exploration and discovery. In that time but more importantly after that time I could not help but reading the Bible and it seemed like the same book that I had been reading (the Bible that is) several times was completely new. Especially the New Testament, Paul’s letters were speaking to me in a way like never before. I saw this image of Christians being completely set free by the blood of Christ, a new covenant of grace similar as in the times prior to the time when Moses received the Law on Mount Sinai.

Yet as a fresh Christian there were still many questions to be answered and looking around me, what I understood to be great Christians, were seemingly not liberated at all. Arched backs walking under a heavy weight of judgment of self and others. But why? Did Jess not say on the cross “it is finished”? While it easy to understand that as the last thing one says before he or she dies, I understood it as the completion of the deal (covenant) between the Father and the Son. The latter would die for our sake so that we could be justified “for and and for all” and be reconciled with God the Father again.

It is pretty tough if, on the basis of what some may want us to believe, have lost your salvation, before you had a decent chance to enjoy it, so as to work your booty off to come under His grace again. It kept going through my mind over and over again? If Jesus came to set the captives free, what have we actually been set free off. Sure I knew in my mind that I understood it differently than let’s say may traditional religious Christian people I was speaking to and had been speaking in the past. But who was I to think that I knew better.

Joseph Prince, in destined to reign, outlines what it means to live under grace, very much the way I understood it initially. I remember so well how I once asked: if Christianity is really all about these works; what is the meaning of Christ death on the cross? Christ said “it is finished” and “”my yoke is light”, is this whole creeds and deeds mentality not a bit arrogant? Is it not implying or in effect saying that Christ’s death on the cross was insufficient, and therefore we need to add some of our own goodies to the mix, so as to really finish it? I remember the look of my conversation partner and we moved on to a different subject. I went back into the Bible to find out what I had misunderstood so much. And I could not find it no matter what I tried.

Joseph Prince’s book has been an incredible encouragement in getting an even better understanding of what it means to live under grace, to live in Christ, and along the way it has helped me strengthen my faith, my hope and much more. It restored so much of the initial joy I felt when becoming a follower of Christ. Moreover, I have so enjoyed the fresh perspectives on reading and understanding our Bible, New AND Old Testament. Thank you so much Joseph for producing a book that does not just affects the mind but changes the heart along in a lasting way by leading us straight back to and in Christ. And I see His unmerited favor showing up in my life again and again and again.

View all my reviews

Journal: thoughts on John 16


Last night I had the pleasure and honor to be present at the baptism of one of my star students. A joyful occasion indeed, bringing good memories of my own baptism (see above) at Harmony Church

Prior to the baptism the pastor spoke about what baptism meant and words such as giving your life to God, living for His purpose, according to His plan, guided by the Holy Spirit.

It is in these times amazing in itself to see young people make such commitments. Beautiful. I know I have been there and still am there, so I was also reminded as to how that sometimes poses serious challenges and it reminded me of the story found in John 16.

Jesus tells his disciples that he’ll be going back to his Father and all of them are said at his words, not because they did not allow him the joy of being reunited but because their own interests stood in the way… or so they thought.

Jesus however saw the bigger plan and understood not only that he would be going away but also that it was necessary even, so that “the Comforter, the Holy Spirit could come. Jesus understood that we would actually be better off with His departure.

It is so easy, despite the fact that you made a commitment to live your life His plan, for His purpose, to be blinded for the bigger picture, the picture that you may not be seeing (yet).  I guess the story teaches us that quick relief is not always the best option in the larger scheme of things and that we may sometimes not be fully aware of what the true value or blessing is that comes with certain less pleasurable events situations in our lives. But He knows! Perhaps it helps to ask before being grief stricken straight away.   Nowhere in the Bible does it say that a life in Christ is a guarantee for a challenge and trouble free existence. There may be a meaning of things that needs to be clarified before we put our own, worldly agenda first. All I can add is that I fail regularly, get better at it every day and that He has not let, me down so far.

The Book of Books, a history of the King James Bible


The Book of Books: The Radical Impact of the King James Bible 1611-2011The King James Bible has often been called the Book of Books both in itself and in what it stands for. Since its publication in 1611 it has been the best selling book in the world, and many believe, had the greatest impact. The King James Bible has spread the Protestant faith. It has also been the greatest influence on the enrichment of the English language and its literature. It has been the Bible of wars from the British Civil War in the seventeenth century to the American Civil War two centuries later and it has been carried into battle in innumerable conflicts since then. Its influence on social movements – particularly involving women in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries – and politics was profound. It was crucial to the growth of democracy. It was integral to the abolition of slavery and it defined attitudes to modern science, education and sex. As THE ADVENTURE OF ENGLISH explored the history of our language, so THE BOOK OF BOOKS reveals the extraordinary and still-felt impact of a work created 400 years ago.

Review

This is a book written by a novelist at heart that is pretty clear. It is great to read so eloquently separated the history and development of the King James Bible and the role of Christianity itself as well as its impact and influence on our Western culture and language.  I love it how this non-fiction historic account of the King James Bible grabs you, if only because of the way the story is told, as if you were reading a novel.

What an amazing job Melvin Bragg did.

The Book of Books: The Radical Impact of the King James Bible 1611-2011>>>

Bob Fitts is coming to Christchurch again


I am pleased to announce the return of Bob Fitts to Christchurch.

On Saturday 25 June 2011, Harmony Church will be hosting a seminar and worship concert in the Oaklands School Auditorium.

For those of you who are not familiar with the name here some more details.

BIO

Bob has been writing songs and leading people in worship since the early 1970s when many students on his Corona, California high school campus met daily at lunch to worship and pray together.

After high school, he attended Melodyland School of Theology in Anaheim, California and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Christian Ministry. At the same time, he was ordained as youth pastor and church worship leader in Riverside, California.

Bob and his wife Kathy met during high school and were married in 1976. In 1981, they moved to Kailua-Kona, Hawaii and served with Youth With A Mission at its teaching campus, The University of the Nations, until 1993. In 1990 they pioneered the School of Worship, which is now being conducted in many countries around the world.

His first recording, Take My Healing To The Nations, was released in 1985. In 1988 he was invited to be the worship leader on Integrity Music’s The Lord Reigns. Since that time, Bob has recorded numerous projects, both as a solo artist and the featured worship leader including:

  •  Take My Healing To The Nations – Solo Project 1988
  • The Lord Reigns – Integrity Music 1988
  • The Highest Place – Integrity Music 1990
  • Live Worship With Bob Fitts – Maranatha! Music 1990
  • Sacrifice – Solo Project 1991
  • Bethlehem’s Treasure – Integrity Music 1991
  • He Will Save You – Integrity Music 1993
  • Proclaim His Power 1993
  • Comfort My People – Solo Project 1994
  • A Taste of Heaven – New Creation Church 1995
  • Comfort My People 1995
  • He Will Save You – Integrity Music 1996
  • I Will Not Be Afraid – International House of Prayer 2001
  • I Will Bow To You – Integrity Music 2001
  • I Will Not Be Afraid – Live Worship Project 2001
  • Restore – Healing To The Nations Music 2008

Some of Bob’s best-known songs are Blessed Be The Lord God Almighty, Take My Healing To The Nations, He Is Lovely, He Will Come And Save You and Glory Glory Lord.

On a personal note, I am looking forward to be part of the band again, an amazing worship leader and a joy to play with. Hope to see you all there.

Celebrating 400 years King James Bible


In 1611 the first version of what we now know as the King James Version of the Bible was completed. To celebrate this event Thomas Nelson, one of thew oldest publishers in the world and one of the largest publishers of the King James Bible has set up a celebratory website to commemorate this event.

Celebrate 400 years of the King James Bible

I have to say what a great site with some wonderful resources and and beautiful gallery page leading us to the history of the bible and the King James version in particular.

A definite recommendation and thanks for this great site. Follow the banner or go here >>>

Harmony Church hosts SHANE WILLARD


Shane Willard will speak in Christchurch on Tue 10 and Wed 11 May.

Shane is an international speaker, teacher, and motivator. His passion is teaching the Word of God in a relevant way, with a particular interest in revealing Jesus’ life and ministry from a hebrew context. Shane was born and raised in Charleston, South Carolina and began preaching at age 15. He took his first pastoral position at 19 and served on staff for 7 years at two large churches. He speaks at pastor’s and leadership conferences as well as churches throughout the world.
http://www.shanewillard.org/

 

Meetings held each night at 7.30pm at Halswell Baptist Church, 6 Balcairn Street, Halswell

Offering will be taken.

Hosted by Harmony Church. More info Ph: 338 4253 or harmonychurch@ihug.zo.nz or www.harmony.org.nz

For the facebookers amongst us go here and RSVP and hopefully I will meet you there.

MINISTRY ENDORSEMENTS

“It is our honour and privilege to have this opportunity to recommend to you the ministry of Shane Willard. Shane has ministered in our church to great effect and his grasp of the Word and ability to communicate it is stunning. He has a deep knowledge of the historical context and original meaning that is fresh and revelatory and brings to life the most fundamental of the Christian doctrines. The demand for his book and CD series by our congregation is evidence of how much his ministry was appreciated. We look forward to Shane’s next visit and gladly recommend his ministry in building the local church.”

Pastor Merv and Ann Bassett
Annesbrook Church – Christ Church, New Zealand

“We recently had Pastor Shane Willard minister at the Invercargill Christian Centre over a ten day period. From the very first meeting it was evident that the ascension gift of the teacher was in operation among us. Secondary to this, but along side, was the manifest power of the Holy Spirit in re-enforcing truth, and demonstrating signs and wonders.

We have no hesitation in recommending Shane Willard to you. He has become a good friend and colleague in the Holy Spirit.”

Ian & Dayle Wright, Senior Pastors
Invercargill Christian Centre – Invercargill, New Zealand