No Retirement In The Lord’s Work

Our culture in the USA has taught us that you work hard until 65 or 70 and then it’s time to retire from everything, relax, and do whatever your heart desires or in other words, nothing at all, including spiritually.  That’s not what we read in the Bible.  Take the story of Caleb.  Caleb stands as an inspiring and encouraging example of having enormous spiritual energy at the age of 85.  He first appears as one of the 12 spies that Moses sent out to scout the land of Canaan.  Upon returning, all 12 men confirmed the land’s beautiful layout, but 10 of the scouts focused on the land’s fearless inhabitants (Num. 13:31-33).  Joshua and Caleb believed that God would find a way for Israel to conquer the Canaanites (Num. 14:6-9), telling the Israelites to immediately take the land (Num.13:30), but the people wanted to stone both Joshua and Caleb (Num. 14:1-4, 10).  God protected them and punished the people (Num. 14:11-38).  Later, God rewarded Caleb and Joshua for their faithfulness.  Among all those who left Egypt, Caleb and Joshua were the only ones to enter the Promised Land, flowing with milk and honey.

I’m sure that Caleb witnessed many people die over the 45 year period of wandering in the wilderness, but his faith did not diminish in that time (Josh. 14:6-15).  In (Josh. 14:10-11), Caleb states, “ today, I am 85 years old.  I am as strong now as I was when Moses sent me on that journey, and I can still travel and fight as well as I could then.”  (NLT version)

WOW, 85 years old and Caleb still had the spunk of a 40 year old.  I’m sure that Caleb helped preach over several funerals too, over that 45 year period in the wilderness, and he still had a great attitude and faith in his creator.  I’m also impressed with the fact that since Joshua was in the spotlight after the death of Moses, Caleb was not jealous, but faithful in serving God in whatever situation he was in, to the fullest, and didn’t lose his spiritual energy or zeal for serving God.  He never made an excuse because of his age either.  His testimony reveals his character and rock solid faith in God and his promises.

We need to overcome the obstacles, including the doubts and fears in our lives, as Caleb did, and accept the reliable promises of God with staunch faith and courage even in our golden years.  It’s very encouraging to see older men like Ward Hogland, preaching Christ at 87, as strong as he did in his 40’s, with the courage and conviction to preach the truth.  When I see men like Bill Cavender, who preached the gospel up until a few months before his death, whose faith never wavered, and he looked so forward to being with God, even though he’d miss his earthly family here; that is encouraging and teaches us what Biblical faith is all about.  As we approach our later years and are rounding 3rd base, let’s serve God with unabated vigor, serving God faithfully and believing in his promises, trusting his grace, until our last breath, just like Caleb did.

– Phil Barnes

 

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The Weightier Matters of the Law

The Law of God is vital to our walk with Him. It’s establishment reveals to us God’s standard of righteousness. Through it we know whether we are fulfilling His divine pleasure or if we’re “missing the mark” (cp. Rom. 7:7). When God gives us His word we cannot minimize one passage while esteeming another for “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16, NKJV). Knowing such to be true, how can there be “weightier matters of the law” (Matt. 23:23)?

As Jesus was finishing His years of teaching the arrival of God’s Kingdom, many religious leaders by this point were filled with rage against Him. They believed Him to be a destroyer of the Law of Moses (cp. Matt. 5:18). They believed Him a blasphemer (cp. Matt. 9:1-3). They wanted Him killed!

Jesus had enough. He was done teaching them in parables for the hardness of their hearts. Instead, He was going to set them straight and tell them what they so needed to hear but were too dull to heed; what they so needed to understand but were too blind to see. Instead of talking to them He warned the multitudes—who could discern for themselves—about themin front of them (Matt. 23:1), before condemning these leaders face-to-face for their hypocrisy (v. 13ff). The True Judge—with Righteousness in His breath—pronounced His seven woes (v. 14 was added to later manuscripts) against these “lawyerly” hypocrites.You see, these men placed great burdens upon others—in essence, “shut up the kingdom of heaven” (v. 13)—who wished to enter. In fact, while they zealously sought for people to be added to God’s kingdom, they would “make him twice as much the son of hell” (v. 15)!

So, what was their guilt of hypocrisy? They taught, but did not practice what they taught (Matt. 23:1). Further, they were “minoring in majors and majoring in minors”. In other words, they were meticulous enough to “pay tithe in mint and anise and cumin” yet neglected “the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith.

In a nutshell, Jesus lived and taught the need to keep whole law (Matt. 5:17). He understood, however, where the greater “weight” of the law resided: in justice, mercy, and faith(fulness). Justice would be exercised (v. 14; Mk. 12:40), rather than devouring the very ones in need. Mercy would be extended to “the guiltless” (Matt. 12:1-8). Living faithfully would demonstrate consistency between the demands upon others to keep the law of God, while practicing the very same thing.

Now, consider your walk with the Lord as a Christian and be careful that you keep all of God’s word (law), but be especially mindful of the weightier matters of the law.

– Mitch

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Wanna Get Involved? Just Do It

Ever heard or said any of the following well intended statements (just finish the statement to make it sound ‘well intended’)? “I would love to evangelize God’s word, but…” Or, “I sure would enjoy getting together with other Christians, having Bible studies, or encouraging others, but…”

Like many Christians I’ve been guilty of saying the same things from time to time. For many, these words haunt us when looking back at missed opportunities to serve, evangelize, or encourage the lost, our brethren, neighbors, co-workers, etc.

Instead of looking back, let’s look forward to the opportunities that are before us regarding the work here in Franklin, TN.

Consider the fact that next Saturday (1:00 pm at the building) we have the honor of sharing God’s word with a community in desperate need to hear the words of salvation. Or, the many brethren that could use phone calls, visits, letters, and other means of encouragement.

Rather than “I’d like to, but…” we can simply get involved—no excuses (NOTE: aren’t they so easy to make to excuse ourselves from the greatest work any Christian can be involved?).

So, instead of looking back at the “reasons” or justifications we used not to do something—especially when they don’t seem as convincing or worthy compared to the valuable task at hand—why don’t we just do it.

Mitch

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Hope, Because Jesus Is Risen

Last week we discussed God’s purpose for the suffering we endure in this world. Suffering, in its grand scheme, helps us to look beyond ourselves and see an All-knowing and wise Creator who cares for and comforts those who place their trust in Him for eternal comfort from this sinful world. While this knowledge consoles many, such experiences were never meant to give us a genuine hope. No, it was our risen Savior, who suffered at the hands of this sinful world through whom we enjoy a genuine hope for eternal comfort.

The apostle Paul knew this both from a conviction he long held before coming to know Jesus as the Christ (Acts 23:8), but also because as a hostile enemy of the Lord’s church, witnessed with his own eyes the resurrected Jesus (Acts 9:1-9; Acts 8:3). Because of this he said to the church at Corinth.

Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time. For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. Therefore, whether it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed. Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up—if in fact the dead do not rise. For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable. ” (1 Corinthians 15:1–19, NKJV)”.

The fact and reality is that Jesus died, then rose from the dead according to prophetic scripture and is the reason why we have such a hope that we declare the glorious gospel to the lost. It is through our risen Savior we can trust God to get us through this suffering world, on to a better home. A place where there is no more sorrow and shed tears. Amen.

Mitch

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Sharing in the Sacrifice

What an amazing and wonderful picture the totality of the sacrificial offering was. Read more

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Our Teaching Goal: That We May Present Everyone Mature in Christ

Sometimes it is easy to get sidetracked and miss the real point behind what we are supposed to be doing and teaching. Because we hear so much error in the religious world these days, we can easily get caught up in simply trying to correct common errors. Then it may readily seem the purpose for our teaching and action is to fix some particular error.

Paul explains a different goal for our teaching and toil in Colossians 1:28—“Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ Jesus.”

Please notice what it does not say: “Baptism we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone baptized into Christ Jesus.”

Because the mainstream religious world believes in Jesus but usually misuses, abuses, and misunderstands baptism, we have spent a great deal of our teaching trying to correct their error. Certainly, part of presenting everyone mature in Christ Jesus will include baptism. After all, we cannot present anyone in Christ Jesus except through baptism. Galatians 3:27 says, “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” Also, Romans 6:3 says, “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?”

However, this is simply part of being mature in Christ. It is not equivalent to being mature in Christ. We are not done simply because someone has been baptized. Our job is not simply to present them in Christ, but present them mature in Christ. When someone is baptized, we must continue pursuing our purpose.

Further, because of the many errors we have fought over the years we might think that maturity in Christ equals having the right take on the hot button issues over the past years, i.e. institutionalism, instrumental music, speaking in tongues, divorce and remarriage, etc. Certainly, Bible knowledge is part of maturity in Christ. Peter says we must add knowledge to our faith in II Peter 1:5-8. However, our goal is not to make sure young Christians grow to answer all the questions about hot topics to our satisfaction as if they are a catechumen who must memorize our special catechism in order to be mature. Sadly, I’ve met some who can answer these questions correctly but are far from mature in Jesus. They are hotheaded, quarrelsome, arrogant, self-centered, Diotropheses who would have the pre-eminence in a congregation. That is not maturity in Jesus, no matter how doctrinally correct they are.

Would you like a picture of maturity in Christ Jesus? Would you like to see the goal we are striving for everyone to reach? Take a look at I Timothy 3:2-7 and Titus 1:6-9. Certainly, someone does not have to be a man to be mature in Christ. Nor do they have to have been married or raised children. However, in general, the picture of the shepherd is not some special qualification list. It is simply a picture of mature Christianity.

Mature Christians are above reproach, humble, peaceful, sober, content, hospitable, lovers of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, disciplined, respectable, able to teach, gentle, experienced, and well thought of even by non-Christians. Are we working to present everyone like this in Christ? Or are we simply satisfied with getting them baptized and letting them work out the rest on their own? Paul said he toiled to present folks not just in Christ, but mature in Christ. May we work on the same goal.

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Dressing from a Heart to Glorify God

Spring has arrived. The flowers are blooming. Birds are singing. Pollen is spreading. People are wearing fewer clothes. That can be a problem.

I certainly can’t provide a line based on a Bible verse that says your shorts need to be a certain length or your shirt needs to cover a certain amount of flesh. As much as I wish I could, I can’t find a verse that delineates exactly how loose certain clothes should be. However, as we work on having our hearts right with God, I’d like to remind us of a few passages. If we can get our hearts right, then our dress will follow.

First, while the two passages speak directly to women, I think the principles apply to all and we need to remember them. I Timothy 2:9-10 says, “Likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works.” Also I Peter 3:3-4 says, “Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear—but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit.” What people need to see most about us is our good works, our gentle and quiet spirit. Are we hiding our spirit by displaying our flesh?

Second, can we look at Romans 13:14 in a new light? Paul wrote: “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the lust of the flesh.” On the one hand, it is true that no matter how you dress, I need to work on my own lust so that I stay pure. However, based on this verse, if you dress in a way that triggers me, I need to learn to simply stay away from you. I need to learn that coming around you is going to be a problem for the lust of my flesh in the same way that watching a television show that has people dressed like you might do the same thing. Do you really want to do that to our relationship?

There is another aspect of this that we all need to consider. I once heard a person claim he had a problem with lusting and wanting to be lusted after. I had never thought about that second half. However, if I want to be lusted after and am dressing to promote that, I am providing for the desires of my flesh. I get a fleshly payoff from knowing others are lusting after me. Let’s make sure we are honest. When we are wearing skintight clothes, cleavage-revealing blouses, muscle-defining shirts, thigh-displaying skirts, what is our goal? Is there part of us that wants to be lusted after? If so, we need to reconsider our dress.

Third, Galatians 5:19 says sensuality (licentiousness, lasciviousness) is a work of the flesh. If we pursue a course of sensuality, the text says we will not inherit the kingdom of God. Sensuality refers to activity that promotes, indicates, arouses sexual desire. What does our dress say about sexual desire? Is our dress intended to promote sexual desire? We need to take care. Certainly, some are so given to their lusts that no matter what we wear, they will be provoked to sin. We are not charged with making sure everyone else keeps their lust under control. However, we must make sure we are being completely honest about the way we dress. Are we appealing to the senses? Perhaps a better question is not are we intending to arouse sexual desire, but are we intending not to arouse sexual desire.

Fourth, many think talking about this is simply prudish, Victorian, simple-minded. However, the Bible demonstrates that the body can be used to stimulate sexual arousal. God made us to be sexual beings. However, He also designed sex to be kept in the confines of marriage. We need to be careful not to present our bodies in ways that will promote sexual desire and arousal in anyone but our spouses. Consider passages in the Song of Solomon. In Song of Solomon 5:10-16 we see the woman expressing her physical desire based on the man’s hair, his eyes, his cheeks, his lips, his arms, his legs, his appearance. In Song of Solomon 4:1-11; 6:5-7:9 we see the man expressing his physical desire based on the woman’s breasts, eyes, hair, teeth, lips, mouth, cheeks, jewelry, perfume, navel, neck, thighs, perfume, and stature. I don’t think these passages mean we need to be covered from head to toe. However, I do think they stress how important it is that we arrange and cover our bodies properly and reserve the sexuality for marriage.

Finally, Mark 7:21-23 says what comes from within a person is what defiles them. Jesus included sensuality on that list. We need to get our heart right with God and then we need to dress from the heart. Perhaps some dress in a sexually suggestive way out of ignorance. Others may simply not realize how harmful what they are doing really is. Whatever the case, we need to be careful. We need to get sensuality, lust and the desire to be lusted after out of our hearts. Then we need to dress from a heart that is intent on glorifying God.

If we get our heart right, we’ll get our dress right.

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Falling from Grace by Keeping God’s Law? Is That Possible?

There is no doubt that the Bible teaches we can fall from God’s grace. That is, having received the gift of God by His grace, we can so live as to abandon that gift. In fact, the Bible is so plain about this that I’m amazed anyone disagrees. Galatians 5:4 says, “You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen from grace.”

However, have you ever noticed what these folks were doing for which they had fallen from grace? They weren’t living in sinfulness. They weren’t giving themselves over to immorality and idolatry. They weren’t abandoning their faith in God. Now don’t get me wrong, these would all be reasons for which someone would fall from God’s grace. We can see that in other passages like II Peter 2:20-22; Hebrews 6:4-6; et al. I’m simply pointing out that wasn’t the problem in Galatians 5:4.

What was the problem in Galatians 5:4? They were trying to be justified by law. They were trying to be justified by being righteous according to the Law. They were working hard to obey everything the Law said. Had they done well at that, they would have been pretty holy people. How can people who are working hard at living such holy lives fall from grace?

Is the issue here they were trying to be justified by the wrong law? Since Paul goes back and forth from talking about “the Law” and simply “law,” I believe he was using the Old Law to make a point about being justified by a system of law. The problem was that trying to be justified by the Law, or any law, meant trying to be justified by their own power and will. The Law was not intended to justify anyone according to Galatians 2:16. Why? Because people wouldn’t obey it. All have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23). Think about it. If our problem is we haven’t kept the Law, how would throwing more law at us help?

What concerns me is we might end up doing the exact same thing today and never even know it. Do we try sometimes to justify ourselves by law? Do we think if we “go to church” enough we’ll be justified? Do we think if we cut out enough sins we’ll be justified? Do we think if we do enough good works we’ll be justified? Do we think if we get enough things right we’ll be justified? Why do we think we are going to heaven? Is it because of how well we’ve kept God’s law? If so, aren’t we doing the exact same thing Paul condemned in Galatians 5:4? Can we fall from grace and all the while still be trying really hard to do God’s will? It appears that we can.

While we can fall from grace when we run headlong into sin (II Peter 2:20-22) and the sacrifice of Christ will do us no good if we simply go on sinning willfully (Hebrews 10:26-27), it appears we can also fall from grace by thinking we can justify ourselves through our strength and ability to keep God’s law. We need to remember that the entire purpose of the Old Law was to capture us under sin, to prove we are sinners in need of a Savior (Romans 3:20; Galatians 3:22). If righteousness could come by law, then that Old Law would have been able to do it (Galatians 3:21).

Here’s the rub, of course. Hearing this, some of us might think, “Great, it doesn’t matter if I go on sinning. In fact, that might be good because of God’s grace.” That is exactly the flaw Paul anticipated Christians following. In Romans 6:1-4, Paul demonstrated that we have died to sin. Jesus didn’t set us free so that our faith in Him would allow us to disregard God’s will. Rather, Jesus died so we could die to sin and be free to live in His righteousness. He died to set us apart for good works (Titus 2:14). We pursue those good works.

However, if we pursue those good works from a motivation to be justified for our ability to keep God’s law, Galatians 5:4 says we fall from grace and are severed from Christ. Instead, we pursue those good works because of our love for God. We pursue those good works because God deserves to be glorified. We let Him worry about justifying us through His grace. We focus on glorifying Him because we know how much He has done for us. Isn’t that the story we see from the sinful woman in Luke 7:36-50. We love much because we have been forgiven much.

Obviously, if we disregard God’s will and follow our own path, we’ll end up outside of God’s grace (cf. Proverbs 14:12). But if we think we can justify ourselves by keeping God’s law, we’ll just as equally fall from God’s grace. The problem is we may not realize it because we are convinced we are doing so good that He has to give us His grace. But grace doesn’t work that way.

Let’s not fall from God’s grace either by turning our back on God or by trying to justify ourselves and earn God’s grace. Let us stand in God’s grace, surrendering to Him, living by faith in Jesus, and relying on His grace for our salvation.

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Traditions and God’s Law

In Mark 7:1-13, the Pharisees questioned Jesus and His disciples about washing their hands before they ate. This was not simply a matter of hygiene for them. To the Pharisees, this was as good as Law. Of course, there was no law that said this. Certainly, the Law spoke of cleanliness and defilement. But there was no law that mandated the washing of hands, cups, pots, and vessels simply to make sure they hadn’t been defiled. The philosophy was apparently that any time they had been out in public, they needed to wash just in case they came in contact with someone or something unclean. By washing, they wouldn’t make their food unclean and wouldn’t internalize any uncleanness while eating.

That makes some sense to me. I can see how a logically minded person might take these steps, just to be on the safe side. After all, defilement is serious business. For the Pharisees it became extremely serious business. It was a test of spiritually. It was a test of fellowship. They were sure that through their logical deductions, it was part of God’s pattern for them.

Yet, Jesus turned that understanding on its head. This was a tradition they had built up around the Law. It was not God’s Law itself. Jesus accused the Pharisees of hypocrisy. They honored God with their mouths and not really with their hearts. They elevated the teachings of men to the level of God’s command.

Was it wrong to wash their hands before eating? No. Was it wrong to wash their hands if they feared defilement? No. What was wrong was to mandate this tradition as if it were equivalent with God’s law and treat others as if they were disobeying God when they didn’t follow the tradition.

If we are not careful, we can make the same mistake. I can and have heard some similar questions today. “Why don’t you have two assemblies on Sunday as is the tradition of other churches?” “Why don’t you have Gospel meetings that last an entire week or two weeks as is the tradition of other churches?” “Why don’t all of you wear a suit and tie or a dress to the assembly as is the tradition of the older generations?”

Is it lawful to have two assemblies on Sunday, Gospel meetings that last all week, and to dress up for our assemblies? Of course it is. Does God mandate it? No. Are we allowed to do these things? Certainly. Are we allowed to mandate these things for anyone else? No. Are others allowed to mandate these things for us? Absolutely not. Are we more spiritual for doing these things or for not doing them? Of course not.

However, Jesus didn’t stop with this. He continued His rebuke. The Pharisees had another problem. While they were willing to elevate their pet traditions to the level of God’s Law, they were equally willing to disregard the laws of God that they didn’t really like. God’s Law said they were to honor father and mother. Obviously, God saw caring for father and mother as they aged as a necessary part of honoring them. The Pharisees didn’t seem to like this Law or pattern. They dispensed with it by coming up with another seemingly great tradition. They declared the portion of their goods with which they would have supported their parents as Korban, or devoted to God. “Sorry, Mom, Dad, I would take care of you, but I can’t give you what is devoted to God.”

Today it is pretty to vogue to notice the side of this teaching that rebukes equating our traditions with God’s law and pattern. But we must not forget this other side. We cannot refuse to follow God’s pattern and Law by our traditions. Do you notice that nowhere does the Law specifically say that caring for elderly parents is part of honoring them. Rather, God expected right thinking people to realize caring for elderly parents was part of that pattern. They had to use their logic to realize this. But it was, nevertheless part of God’s pattern.

We certainly cannot mandate traditions like multiple assemblies, week-long Gospel meetings, or formal dress for assemblies. However, when the pattern says sing, we can tell folks they should sing and not add instruments. When the pattern says celebrate Jesus’ death through the Lord’s Supper, we can tell folks they should not add extra holy-days. When the pattern demonstrates using unleavened bread and fruit of the vine for the Lord’s Supper and taking it only on the first day of the week, we can rebuke others for violating it.

God expects us to use our common sense and our logic. But He also expects us to use it to understand what He has written, not mandate whatever we like and disregard whatever we don’t. We must not add our traditions to God’s laws. Neither must we allow our think-sos to disregard God’s laws.

We must forever recognize that God’s word provides us the pattern and authority for good works and continue to look to it as the guide for our behavior as Christians and work as congregations (II Timothy 3:16-17).

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Confessions of an Internet Junkie

Some time ago, I confessed a sad television habit that was taking up too much of my valuable time. As I said in that article, I deleted my DVR scheduling and quit watching too much Law and Order. Not long after that, we actually got rid of cable all together. I should be the most efficient time manager of all now that I got rid of my cable, right? Sadly, we learn once again that nature abhors a vacuum. In true Matthew 12:43-45 fashion, the evil television spirit has gotten seven other spirits to attack and the last state might well be worse than the first. However, these spirits are called The Internet. (Please know that I’m speaking tongue in cheek about the spirits.)

The Internet is great. I can keep up with old friends. I can communicate with new friends. I can chat with brethren from all over. I can conduct Bible studies across continents. I can answer most questions with a click of a button. Want to know who was the 16th President? If you don’t already know, the Internet will provide an answer. Bible study is cheap and easy on the Internet. Podcasts of the preaching of God’s word abounds. Blogs with great inspiration, deep education, and powerful instruction can be found in plenty. The Internet is a veritable treasure trove.

However, if we’re not careful the Internet can suck us in to the swirling black vortex of virtual non-reality. It can drain our days of precious time. Paul said we should look carefully how we walk. If not, we might end up walking like fools. Instead, we need to make the most of our time because the days are evil (Ephesians 5:15-16). I believe that is a reference back to Ecclesiastes 9:11-12, which claims we are all like the fish taken in an evil net or the bird trapped in a snare. Death and destruction come suddenly, therefore, we need to take this moment very seriously. Am I using it wisely?

When I get on the World Wide Web, I need to ask myself how I’m using my time. I am reminded that anything I do for 30 minutes every day equals more than a week of my year. Over a lifespan of 80 years, that will be more than a year and a half.

Don’t misunderstand, I’m not saying every second of every day must be spent in some all-wise, life-changing, earth-shattering pursuit. We are allowed entertainment and relaxation. However, I sometimes fear that I’m entertaining and relaxing my life away without realizing it. A 5-minute break to check Facebook, can easily become an hour long look at endless status updates, searching for new friends, writing updates, sending messages, and playing games. And that can be after already checking Facebook three times that day. Hopping online to search for a book price can easily become an hour surfing Amazon for different products, reading their reviews and profiles. They put those “other people also bought” links up for a reason. They want to tangle us in the Web. Making a brief point in a religious forum can easily turn into an obsession for the rest of the day seeing if anyone responded, did they agree? disagree? care? Even the most innocent and noble pursuits can become a labyrinth, trapping us and endangering us.

There are plenty of great things to be done on the Internet. As soon as I’m done typing this article, I’ll spend some time on the Internet posting it for people to read on the church’s blog. But, we need to remember that God wants us to do more than surf and read. We need to get out and go. We need to spend most of our time in the real world, talking to real people, accomplishing real acts of service, performing real good works (Titus 2:14; Ephesians 2:10).

I’m not saying we should get rid of the Internet completely. However, I think we should all, no matter what our job, take a look at our Internet time and hold it alongside Ephesians 5:15-17. Are we keeping our Internet time in its proper perspective or letting it get out of control?

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