ICYouth: With Social Media, the Problem Isn’t Our Filters (Grant)

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By Grant Everly

Throughout its duration, the Bible continually establishes the concept of Christ’s followers being image bearers to the world. This ideal is one that Christians have tirelessly strived for since Christ’s life on Earth, but it has become increasingly complicated with the addition of all things screen-related.

Social media quote ICyouth blog 2.19.15Technology complicates our relationships in that we are allowed to have an interaction, but we do so without many of the more tangible aspects of relationships. In typing behind a screen we’re at a huge disadvantage because people can’t hear the tone with which we say things, and furthermore, others are inhibited from seeing our true intentions behind what we say. In short, our images can become easily distorted, the last thing we want if we are to bear Christ’s image.

This past Sunday at iMPACT we looked at social media as it relates to Christians and asked the following question: what story do our social media accounts tell?

If we are to be a people truly transformed by Christ, our lives should be indicative of this change on all levels, in particular social media. But this becomes increasingly difficult because communication behind a screen is a completely different world than reality. We’re prone to say things we wouldn’t say in person, and, as I mentioned before, we take out important foundations of relationships, creating the potential for a whole lot of misunderstandings and misconceptions about individuals that will never be resolved without face to face communication. Being a Christian in a technological age is like walking on ice; we may not intend to break through and go crashing into freezing water, but the reality of a keyboard makes it all too easy to do so.

Being a Christian in a technological age is like walking on ice; we may not intend to break through and go crashing into freezing water, but the reality of a keyboard makes it all too easy to do so.

So how exactly does one go about making sure they’re truly bearing Christ’s image on social media? Well, the short and not entirely helpful answer is to be extremely careful. The fact that anything we say is being read through the lens of another person, over which we have no control, should cause us to be very judicious in what we post and how we say what we post. But, more importantly, I think the more we draw close to Christ on a personal level, the less prone we’ll be to have social media gaffes.

Tyler Boyce, the speaker from Sunday night, talked about this idea via an analogy: A lot of times we think it’s our verbal filter that needs fixing, but a filter doesn’t solve our problems. Filters collect the “gunk” of our words, but once the collection reaches a certain point, the filter becomes worthless, as it can no longer block bad stuff from getting through due to it reaching its full filtering capacity. What we need is to fix the “water” that comes through us at its source; when we draw close to Christ, He purifies our hearts, and when this occurs, our tendency to say things that we likely shouldn’t becomes less. Our problem isn’t our filter; its our purity at our source.

So what story do your screen-related interactions show? Is your Facebook, twitter, texting, indicative of a purified and renewed life?

Grant headshotGrant Everly is a senior at Warren Township High School and regularly attends church with his family and iMPACT on Sunday nights. He plays soccer, enjoys sports and has passion for learning more about Christ and growing in Him.

ICYouth: Struggling to Forgive? (Grant)

Thank you for your generosity to our one-fund, Accelerate. Because of your generosity, we are able to share stories of how God is changing lives! Every Friday, one of our student bloggers shares how God is working in his or her life. Leave some encouragement by commenting?

By Grant Everly

As Christians, there’s a lot of hard questions that we have to struggle through. Questions like, “how am I supposed to forgive people who have horribly wronged me?” “What does it look like to truly trust in God’s sovereignty?” “What does it mean to truly love my enemies?”

This past Sunday at iMPACT we talked about some ideas along these lines, specifically, how we’re supposed to control our reaction to hard and unfavorable things, especially in our relationships with our families. In doing so we worked through the story of Joseph.

Personally, I find Joseph’s story to be one of the best in the Bible largely because he models what it looks like to live by the standards of forgiveness and love that God gives us. Furthermore, Joseph rather remarkably trusts God throughout all the adversity that comes his way, which was a whole lot in his case; sold into slavery by his own brothers, who admittedly hated him, and wrongly accused of committing adultery with Potiphar’s wife, Joseph unwaveringly held to God’s promises. Joseph experienced no shortage of trials, and throughout all that he had to endure God’s sovereign hand can be seen as Joseph eventually ended up becoming in charge of Egypt.

Joseph had a lot he could’ve complained about, and there were plenty of times in which the events happening to him gave his life a very gloomy outlook; however, he never questioned God. Instead trusting Him with all that he had, Joseph continually put his best foot forward.

When tough things happen and it feels like God has deserted us, I can’t help but be reminded of Joseph’s story, which is truly the story of God using the most improbable of circumstances and most unlikely person to accomplish His will. When you think about it this is the story of you and me as well; we’re unlikely candidates to carry out God’s mission, but for whatever reason He chooses to let us come aboard.

Likewise, when struggling to forgive those who’ve wronged me Joseph’s story gives me a whole lot of motivation. Joseph had no reason to forgive and show love to his brothers, who had done something so atrocious to him as selling him into slavery; however, he looked past this and chose to act in a way honoring to God. So when trials and adversity come our way and we struggle with how to react in a God honoring manner, we need not look further than the story of Joseph.

Grant Everly is a senior at Warren Township High School and regularly attends church with his family and iMPACT on Sunday nights. He plays soccer, enjoys sports and has passion for learning more about Christ and growing in Him.

Extra Strength: Love Does: Follow Me {John}

We leave the church building inspired and filled with Truth and encouragement each Sunday … and somewhere along the course of the week, often we find ourselves in need of a little bit of something to help us through.

Welcome to Extra Strength: a mid-week pick-you-up for the soul. Be sure to scroll all the way to the bottom for extra encouragement and challenge. 

Extra Strength

 Listen to Love Does: Follow Me {Sunday, November 2, 2014}

By John Worth, Immanuel attendee and blogger

Counting the Cost

When I usually think about counting the cost my natural inclination is to fall back on my finance degree from college. I take a look at an opportunity, and in an analytical way I do some “cost” calculations in my head (and sometimes on a spreadsheet; I am pretty nerdy).

  1. I start with a cost benefit analysis — will the benefit outweigh the cost over the useful life of the thing that I’m spending money/effort/time on?
  2. Next, present value calculation — figuring out what is the price that something is worth today considering the benefit that it will provide over time.
  3. Finally, I look at the budget: time, money, effort, emotional expenditures — will I have room in the budget for this thing? Even great things can’t be done if it can’t fit in the budget.

Jim Elliot Love DoesAfter Jesus turns around and tells the crowds following Him, “If you want to be my disciple, you must hate everyone else by comparison” (Luke 14:26) and “carry your own cross and follow me,” He follows it with an equally a bold statement “But don’t begin until you count the cost”.

Here’s what struck me most about Jesus’s words: have I counted the cost in my own life? This is a much bigger question than doing analysis on the cost of say accepting a job offer or buying a house versus renting; it’s a matter of my whole life and, even harder, that of my family. My money, my time, my relationships are all a reflection of what I am giving my life to; they are payments to the cost of what I’m truly following.

Too often in my Christian life I haven’t counted the cost before jumping in and following Jesus and instead have sometimes been faced with the sudden reality that my current “budget” can’t fit what Jesus is asking me to spend. At those times I’ve had a choice; do I walk away like the builder who runs out of money in Luke 14:28-30, or am I so devoted to Christ that I make the hard choice and follow even if it costs me everything I hold dear? I believe that in order to follow Jesus in the way he wants we will ALWAYS have to make really hard choices. Choices between good and best, comfort and uncertainty, staying in the boat or walking on the water. If there aren’t hard choices I am probably missing something.

Currently I am faced with very real choices between doing what is easy and what I believe God has placed on my heart to do = hard. Am I crazy enough or enough of a “fanatic” as Pastor Joe put it to choose the path that will allow me to make the biggest impact on the world? For me the thing I wrote on the card that will cause me to step across the threshold on Sunday was caring for orphans. Specifically in this season of my life it’s looking like it will be in the form of an adoption from Eastern Europe of not just a 2.5 year old but a 13 year old as well.

So back to the original question I’ve been wrestling with: what’s the cost?

Thousands of dollars spent on lawyers, agencies and travel, many hours of paperwork, phone calls and late night discussion, close family relationships strained and feelings hurt, loss of vacation and other job difficulty from weeks of travel required, stomach churning court dates, social worker visits, lawyers, judges, uncertainty, tears, hurt, brokenness, loss….by the way these are only some of the costs we KNOW of that will happen during the next several months, not including the rest of our lives on account of this choice.

I can almost see Jesus turn around, look me in the eyes and ask me, do you want to be my disciple? Do you really want to be my disciple? You know what you will ultimately gain but have you truly counted the cost?

I believe he is asking you those same questions today.

My answer is yes.

What’s yours?

John Worth is director of Immanuel Accelerate, a lifelong attender of Immanuel and husband to Hyacynth. John’s two boys keep him and Hy on their toes most evenings. When he’s not nose deep in spreadsheets at work John enjoys helping others navigate the waters of life.


Be Challenged: 

  • Have you responded with a yes to what God has laid on your heart? Share your yes with family or friends and talk about your next steps.
  • Read the final week in the Love Does study guide and discuss it with your small group.

Go Deeper:

  • Take the next steps in living out your yes!
  • Tell us about it! Email HyacynthWorth{at}gmail{dot}com if you would be willing to share your story.

Extra Strength: Love Does: Audacious Love

We leave the church building inspired and filled with Truth and encouragement each Sunday … and somewhere along the course of the week, often we find ourselves in need of a little bit of something to help us through.

Welcome to Extra Strength: a mid-week pick-you-up for the soul. Be sure to scroll all the way to the bottom for extra encouragement and challenge. Miss the message? You can listen to Love Does: Audacious Love here!

ExtraStrengthEdit

 

I have heard the story of the woman at the well so many times and still each time it tugs at me. I can relate to not wanting to be seen as I tried to hide from my secrets.  I figured that if I pretended they didn’t exist, then no one would ever find out.  I tried to resist living a life that deep down inside I knew I wasn’t meant to live but it was all that I knew so I kept going back.  In addition to that, I had walked away from God so many times, and I didn’t know how or why He would take me back.

Then there is the story of Gomer, which I had never heard before, but was one I found myself relating to just as much.  A woman whose desires for the world kept her so trapped and in bondage that she couldn’t break free.  She found comfort in the arms of one man after another when comfort wasn’t what she really sought.  I believe deep down inside of her there was a need to be loved and wanted and accepted, a need I could relate to all to well as I reflected on days long ago.

You search and search hoping to find something or someone to fill that hole, that void that you have but the filling is only temporary.  While at the same time you feel the tugging from God to come home.  He loves you too much to let you stay the way you are and too much to control you and make you obey.  So He sits and waits and watches at a distance.  He makes sure no harm comes your way and that your needs are met.  He remains patient and waits for that window where He can come in and rescue you from yourself and all the damage you cause.  He doesn’t give up on you.

When the time is right, He approaches you gently and without condemnation in hand because you have already been condemning yourself for years.  Instead he offers you shelter and arms in which to rest.

I am so grateful that God never gave up on me in spite of all the running I did in the opposite direction.  He loved me more than I ever loved myself, and I never knew why.  I realized not too long ago that it was because He saw something in me that I didn’t see.  Unlike me He was and is able to look past my mistakes and my flaws.  He sees what I am becoming and not what I was.  He looks past my mess and can see beauty unfolding.  It reminds me of the process that butterflies go through.

Someone gave my boys a butterfly kit years ago — the kind where you buy the caterpillars and wait for them to become butterflies.  I didn’t jump at the chance to do it mainly out of laziness but eventually we did.  What stands out to me most from that experience was that it required patience and gentleness.  It was not something I could rush.  It happened in its own time.  From the time the caterpillars were placed into the habitat until the chrysalis was formed it had to be protected.  The chrysalis itself required gentle hands to move it to where it could develop over time into a butterfly.  Once the butterfly emerged, it had to open and close its wings over and over again in order for it to be strong enough to fly.  There was even a little blood in the habitat that came from the wings as they would gain strength.  It was a messy process, but once it was ready it could be released into the world.

In the midst of my mess God waited for me and protected me.  He didn’t rush me; He just observed from a distance and allowed each experience to develop me.  Now that I have gained my strength, He is able to release me to be all that He has created me to be.

 

Sheryll Belonga is wife to Jurrell and homeschooling mom to their three great boys. Her hearts desire is to glorify God in all she says and does in spite of life’s daily happenings.

 

 


 

Be Challenged:

  • How is God showing His love for you and the world today? Reflect and give thanks for His love!
  • Consider Psalm 89:15:”Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence, Lord.” Pause and receive God’s love several times during the course of the day and walk in the light of His presence.
  • Continue reading your Love Does study guide and processing through it with your small group.

Extra Strength: Love Does: Free to Fail {Gracie}

We leave the church building inspired and filled with Truth and encouragement each Sunday … and somewhere along the course of the week, often we find ourselves in need of a little bit of something to help us through.

Welcome to Extra Strength: a mid-week pick-you-up for the soul. Be sure to scroll all the way to the bottom for extra encouragement and challenge.

Extra Strength for Love Does: Free to Fail. (click to listen to the message)

Failure.

We have all been there.

For some of us, our failure is monumental. It stares us in the face. We can’t get it out of our heads because at that moment, it seems to be all that matters. I have definitely been there.

IMG_5614.JPGEven if we think our failure isn’t that big of a deal, no one likes to fail. But the wonderful thing about failure is that those feelings aren’t permanent!

God says we are not our failure. We are not our past. We cannot be defined by past mistakes because God does not value us based on our efforts and deeds.

God values us simply because He made us. I don’t know about you, but I think that’s such a beautiful truth. God gives us full opportunity to move on from whatever is keeping us behind.

Proverbs 24:16 says “Though the righteous fall seven times, they will rise again.”

If you fall, it’s okay. Pick yourself up, dust yourself of, and just keep moving.

Lean on God; He promises He’ll be there.


Be Challenged:

  • Consider intentionally failing something. And then keep your heart open toward God and receiving His love.
  • Turn your failure over to God and ask Him to redeem it. Consider what He’s already doing in your life in spite of the failure.
  • Work through your Love Does study guide.