Category Archives: What Social Media Should Be About

Social Media Should Be About My Brokeness

Image purchased from Fotolia.com

Image purchased from Fotolia.com

For some reason one day about every six weeks I wake up depressed. It’s a weird feeling but a cloud sort of hangs over my head all day.  Usually a combination of stress, and physical weariness.

The truth is we all have days when the drama or issues of life get us down, and of course it’s those days when everything goes wrong (at least it feels that way)

The real struggle on days like this is obeying God since I honestly don’t want to (there’s no motivation), and even if there was motivation I don’t have the strength to obey Him.

The bottom line is I’m drained physically, emotionally, and even spiritually. So of course the goal is to “fill myself back up.”

This is where social-media is dangerous since it allows me to fill up in very selfish ways.

  1. By phrasing a Facebook post about being depressed or discouraged so that people will like or comment on it, and I will feel better [1]
  2. By using one of my world-famous pity parties to gain the concern of others [2]
  3. Or by spending the afternoon communicating with others online about what a terrible day I was having

Let me just be honest and say there was a BIG temptation to go with option 1 since it would almost immediately take away the feeling of depression. But then I stopped and thought about something,

“what if this depression came from God?”

seriously,

What if God is the source of my bad days?

As a Christian I know God is in control of everything that happens in my life, so it’s not as if God turned his back for a moment and after turning back around said “oh no John’s having a bad day!”

Instead God uses bad days for His glory by reminding me I’m broken.

Ever since Genesis chapter three when Adam and Eve sinned we have all been born broken (unable to save ourselves) because of a sin nature, and unable to survive on our own strength. I forget that sometimes…so God in love has to break me [3].

The thing about my brokeness Is I usually want to hide it or take the pain away, but the Lord helped me use it for His Glory with a short video on Facebook Friday afternoon.

It wasn’t about my glory
Or self-pity
Or to make people love me
Instead of it was thankfulness that there was someone stronger than me.

Please understand I’m not saying everyone should upload videos to Facebook when they are having a bad day. Instead I’m encouraging you to embrace your brokenness.

Don’t run from the pain, medicate it [4], or act like it isn’t there.

Don’t immediately start looking for people whose love, acceptance, or pity make you feel better (which is what I usually do). Instead let the pain and suffering point your eyes to God.

I often spend all of my time on those days focusing on the problem or source of my stress, but don’t even think about the purpose that God may have for it (I’m too busy trying to take the pain away).

But it’s as I embrace my brokeness that the Lord helps me understand a deep truth. I can’t do it all alone…and that’s okay…because I don’t have to.

The thing is I’m not created to walk through life in my own strength, I’m created to walk in a relationship with God through Faith in Jesus Christ.

What does this mean?
In Christ I am not broken
In Christ I am whole

Yes there will still be suffering. But on those bad days instead of trying to take care of everything myself I can run to the arms of my loving Heavenly Father who will never be broken.


  1. You can find a post I wrote about this a few weeks ago at http://svg-missionary.org/social-media-isnt-about-my-love-tank/  ↩
  2. http://svg-missionary.org/social-media-isnt-about-my-love-tank/  ↩
  3. This may not seem very loving , but God can do a much better job of controlling things than I can.  ↩
  4. use anything to take it away, not just drugs  ↩

Social Media Should Be About My Beliefs

Purchased from fotilla.com

Purchased from fotilla.com

One of my favorite ministry opportunities in Australia was helping out with a conversational english group at the local library once a week. What made this so much fun (and frightening) is that group included Buddhists, Muslims, Catholics, and individuals who had little interest in God.

The first week they asked why I was there, and responded with looks of confusion when I told them I was a Baptist Minister because they had never met a Missionary before…almost immediately one of them asked “what does that mean?”

In that moment I wanted to share the whole Gospel but didn’t.  Not because I was ashamed of God’s Word, but because going through it all at once would be an overwhelming experience for those who don’t have a foundation of Biblical truth. So instead I took this opportunity and others God gave to clarify what the Gospel taught.

  1. There is only one God, and He created us
  2. We are broken, and unable to live a Holy life on our own
  3. God is Holy (and cannot tolerate sin) so our rebellion separates us from Him
  4. Because we are broken, God chose to send His son Jesus to die for our sins
  5. In Christ we are no longer broken, and can become Children of God

As I continued to clarify these and other truths they started coming to me with questions about God. Eventually some when bringing their friends would point at me and say “that’s John he is a Baptist Minister!” which for them meant “this guy will answer your questions about God!”

I’ll never forget the Tuesday when one of them asked me, “okay exactly what is the difference between what you believe, and what we believe.” That question was followed by a forty-five minute conversation about our need of a Savior, and the eternal punishment of sin.

I wish I could tell you they accepted Christ, but unfortunately that isn’t true. It’s my belief though that moment would have never taken place if they hadn’t understood clearly the foundational truths of Scripture.

Social-Media in my opinion can be referred to as a mission-field since countless people use it everyday to find their identity or purpose in life (I find myself doing this sometimes). But we must be careful in how this digital mission-field is approached

Yesterday I wrote a post about the danger of debating political or spiritual issues online [1]. While in most cases the Christian view is defended, our mind is focused on “proving the other person wrong or ourselves right” so we aren’t actually paying attention to what they are saying.

This can break down into the trading of verbal punches or attacks to the point where we aren’t even talking about the original subject matter anymore. The real problem with this is it’s ineffective…they aren’t going to change our mind, and we won’t change theirs (since we aren’t really listening anyways).

That’s why the Lord is helping me focus less on how broken (corrupt) the world is, and how incredible the Gospel is.

See I could have pointed out the brokeness of all those English students that first day, but instead chose to start clarifying exactly what the Gospel was.

Because deep down inside they knew that they were broken.

They knew that life shouldn’t work this way

They knew that there had to be something more

Today we are still living in a society that knows it’s broken (unable to save themselves), and spends almost every day trying to cover up that brokenness, or fill it with something that takes away their pain. So for me to yell and scream at that person “your broken!” isn’t going to make much of a difference.

They need to know the rest of the story…
God doesn’t want you to be broken…
His son died on a cross so you wouldn’t have to be…
You can be whole

Does this mean we refuse to the confront the sins of our culture?  Of course not!  But in the end it’s better to let the Holy Spirit use God’s Word to convict hearts instead of our own arguments.

Social Media Shouldn’t Be About My Arguments

Purchased from fotilla.com

Purchased from fotilla.com

There are a few things people (including myself) do on Facebook that annoy me [1] but only one truly makes me angry.  That’s getting involved in a debate about divisive issues online.

My problem isn’t with the people who do it because they are usually defending a Christian worldview (a good thing), the problem is it’s usually a huge waste of time.

I used to enjoy having a friendly debate (argument) with a Christian friend over coffee about politics. Invariably after forty-five minutes defending our positions, we would realize the other person was saying basically the same thing.  Eventually we decided to focus our time on something more productive than talking in circles for about an hour 🙂

In the same way debating issues online is in my opinion pointless since you’re not going to change the other persons mind.

Those conversations with my friend (while in good-natured fun) featured a very unhealthy form of communication since my mind wasn’t focused on what he was saying but instead proving him wrong.

Whenever he made a statement my mind would immediately start thinking “how can I prove that statements wrong?” and start compiling a list of reasons why I’m right.

So I wasn’t actually listening to him at all.

It’s clear since my focus was on proving him wrong instead of understanding his position (or clarifying mine), there was almost no possibility of the conversation ever being productive, or someones mind being changed.

Online debates using websites like Facebook are like those conversations but have the added aspect of anonymity. Oh I’m aware that your name and pictures are on the screen, but this isn’t a face to face conversation, and often there is little chance of meeting that person in real life.

The idea of never physically meeting the person gives us freedom to be arrogant, antagonistic, and sarcastic among other things. It shouldn’t be surprising then that these online debates become a trading of verbal attacks instead of talking about the issues.

The worst part of about these exchanges is we are too busy throwing verbal punches, to clearly understand WHY they believe that way.

See behind the arguments, statements, and attacks is a worldview (a foundational group of beliefs that the individual uses to live by [2]) and that’s what should be dealt with in a spirit of love.

So we must put our verbal grenades down and make sure we understand what they believe.

  1. I hear you saying ________ is that right?
  2. Can I ask why you believe that?
  3. Hmm that’s interesting, what proof do you have for that view?
  4. Now would this mean you believe?

Now let me go ahead and make clear asking questions like this DOES NOT mean we agree with their view.

Instead this ensures we are dealing with the real issue [3] and starts a CONVERSATION instead of a non-stop verbal attack. Of course the next part of this is defining or clarifying the Christian worldview (more about that tomorrow).

Please understand I’m not saying we shouldn’t contend for the Faith online. But it’s become clear that arguing religious or political issues online does very little for the cause of Christ.

So it’s time for us to step aside from the “how do I prove this person wrong?” mindset, and make sure that we are really listening to what they have to say.


  1. Facebook rants, sharing too much information, phrasing updates in a way that it’s obvious your just trying to get likes or comments  ↩
  2. it’s the foundation for their morality (right or wrong), evaluating truth, and decision-making  ↩
  3. how the define truth, what defines morality  ↩

Social-Media is About My Purpose

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One of the things that really scared me when I took some time in December to evaluate my use of social-media was just how random my communication was.  It had gotten to the point where I would share whatever thought popped into my head [1].

It wasn’t really the randomness that bothered me (we are all random sometimes) the true problem was how little online communication fit with my calling or purpose.

The Bible clearly teaches that God has a special purpose for each one of us that we were created specifically for. He also equips us to accomplish that purpose with a love for doing it, a burden (emotional connection with those we minister to), abilities that fit with that purpose, and determination to finish it.

This means our responsibility is

  1.  To discover our purpose
  2. Accomplish it with God’s help

My purpose for instance is to be a Missionary [2] to Melbourne Australia, but it’s actually more specific than that.

  1. I am called to share the Gospel with Australians through ministries that meet their physical or emotional needs instead of relying on a “Church based outreach” [3].
  2. In a deeper sense my calling is to share the Gospel with children who don’t know Christ [4] through mentoring or tutoring ministries
  3. Using these ministries I will explain the Gospel in everyday conversation so that they can see their need of Christ

Basically my purpose would look something like this: “Reaching children and their families with ministries that meet their needs while explaining the Gospel.

Before moving on just let me clarify my calling doesn’t make me more important than others who aren’t called to full-time Christian ministry. In fact I sometimes find myself envious of those who have a regular job or focus on caring for their children, since it allows them to spend more time with a specific group of individuals [5] and have a deeper influence in their life.

The thing that bothered me in December was nobody would think my purpose to life was “reaching children with the Gospel” by looking at my Facebook page.

Instead they would probably think my purpose was running, sports (NFL in particular), or just making people laugh.
Of course there’s nothing really wrong with these kinds of things, but they don’t fit in with the perfect plan of God for my life.

So I decided to become purposeful about my communication online…not because I’m better than everyone else, but because I want every part of my life to fit into the purpose of God.

More than anything else this means thinking about what I’m sharing online before posting it.

  1. Is this explaining a key truth of Scripture?
  2. Does this illustrate the challenges of a Missionaries life? [6]
  3. Am I sharing a blessing or prayer request that comes from my ministry with children?
  4. Will this challenge others to share the Gospel of Christ?
  5. Am I sharing this just to make myself feel better?

These and other questions help me have a purpose or theme to my online communication.

Oh there will still be random posts and the occasional funny cat video (okay more often than that) but it’s my prayer that when people look at my page they won’t see a runner/comedian/sports fanatic, but a Missionary called to teach children the Gospel.


  1. which is very scary considering how my brain works sometimes 🙂  ↩
  2. someone who takes the Gospel to foreign cultures  ↩
  3. I of course believe the local Church is absolutely necessary, but since many in todays culture don’t view it as important and won’t come to us (the church) its our responsibility to go to them  ↩
  4. I have a love for children, and ability to connect with them  ↩
  5. coworkers, family  ↩
  6. so that people can pray for my needs  ↩

Social Media Should Be About God’s Glory

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Last week I shared some reasons why the Lord led me to step away from social-media (Facebook in particular) because my communication online was totally self-centered.

  1. By focusing only on my own needs instead of others
  2. By entertaining others and making myself look awesome
  3. By using online communication to fill my love tank (need for approval)
  4. By gaining the pity of others when I was having a bad day

After reading these posts it’s easy to think I don’t think people should EVER post anything about themselves online, but that isn’t true.

I love the fact that social-media allows me to share my life experiences with others and believe it’s a good thing. The problem arises when it’s done for self-centered reasons [1].

So instead of using Facebook as a stage for the “John show”, God desires that my experiences be used to encourage and challenge others. And in a deeper sense point people towards Him.

 

Yesterday I was able to run a half-marathon at Wrightsville beach after training for about two months. My goal was to finish under two-hours by setting a new PR (personal record) [2] and knew this would be a good opportunity since the course was flat (not many hills).

While driving to Wrightsville Saturday I was praying about some ministry opportunities when something led me to pray about setting a new PR. While this seemed like a selfish request I stopped in that moment and said “Lord you know how hard I’ve trained for this race, help me achieve the goal of finishing below two-hours if it is your will.”

As the race started I ran with a group of training partners for about three miles to keep myself from going too fast at the beginning. A little bit after mile three some other partners went running past at a slightly faster pace and something in my head said “you need to follow them” so I did.

By the halfway point (6.5 miles) we were about a minute faster than the two-hour goal, and I began preparing myself to push (run faster) at mile ten. That changed at mile eight when a partner pointed out all our miles would have to be under nine minutes (about ten seconds faster than our current pace). So the push started two-miles earlier.

Pushing earlier than expected meant by mile eleven I was hurting pretty bad so I’m extremely grateful for a running mentor (training group leader) who just happened to be running by at that moment. His encouragement, and an opportunity to run with a friend gave me the strength needed to finish mile eleven under nine minutes.

The last mile of any race is always a mental game (going on even though it hurts) so chasing two training partners (allowing them to get in front of you, but not too far ahead) gave me the motivation needed to finish strong.

 

The end result? one hour-fifty nine minutes, smashing my old record by five minutes. And most importantly I FINALLY broke two-hours!

Taking a picture with a finishers medal in my hand it would be easy to tell everyone “I ran a PR!” but to be honest I didn’t have a whole lot to do with it.

  1. The Lord helped me keep a slower pace in the first three miles
  2. The Lord brought some training partners who helped run a faster pace after mile three
  3. He led me to start pushing at mile eight instead of mile ten
  4. He provided a mentor for encouragement in mile eleven
  5. And He allowed me to finish the half-marathon with friends

If any of those things hadn’t taken place I wouldn’t have been able to achieve my goal.

It’s easy to use the awesome experiences of life to fill our desire for acceptance with likes and comments. But if we set aside our own desires, those experiences can be opportunities to worship a God who graciously gives us what we need to accomplish our goals.


  1. make myself look awesome, gaining love or approval of others, take away sad feelings immediately  ↩
  2. my best was two hours-four minutes  ↩
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