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Redeeming Social Media

By Jesse Jost

Please humour me with a thought experiment: If you replaced all your time on social media, with time meditating on God’s Word, what effect would that have on you?

Would you have more peace or less? More joy or less?

Would a deeper awareness of God’s majesty and power, replace a sense of frustration with human corruption?

Would there be a greater sense of personal conviction of where you need to repent instead of outrage for the stupidity of others?

What would the drawbacks be to this switch? Would you feel less informed about what is really going on in the world?

Do you think a person spending more time in the word and prayer and less on social media is more likely to be duped by propaganda or less?

I love Facebook and Twitter, I love engaging in the conversation of ideas, and seeing the pictures, adventures, and life updates from other people.

The problem is not that we use social media; the problem is in the balance. The poison is in the dose.

I did not ask the previous questions to get you to get off social media completely, but to consider the effects it is having on your mind.

We are commanded to set our minds on things above, where Jesus is, and not on things below. (Col 3:1-4) We are to keep our mind stayed on God. We need to be transformed by the renewing of our mind. (Rom 12:1-2)

We are changed by what is currently in our view. There is a psychological weakness we have because of our limited brain power: What you see in moment feels like that is all there is. Another way to state it is “Out of sight, out of mind.”

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You’re wrong! (So am I.) Now what?

By Jesse Jost

Have you ever stopped to think about how many wrong beliefs you might currently have?

 We can be wrong in our judgement of other people: Some have worse character than we assess, other people have more virtue than meets the eye.

We can be faulty in our memories of the past, and very wrong in our predictions of the future.

We can be in error in our views of God and our interpretations of the Bible.

We can have wrong beliefs about what will make us happy and what is truly meaningful.

We can be wrong in our interpretation of causation, with many theories about how the world works that may be way off.

We can be wrong in our understanding of health and nutrition and medicine.

The crazy thing is that while we can fully accept that other people have their heads full of wrong beliefs, it is almost impossible to accept that we are in error!

It Feels so Right!

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Is A Christian Called To Always Obey The Government?

This past year many North Americans have had a first taste of having civil rights, protected in our charters of freedoms, taken away. There is strong disagreement about whether the threat of disease justified the government removing these rights.

This has raised difficult questions for believers about when to obey our authorities and when to resist.

It’s easy to apply the commands in Romans 13 and 1 Peter 2 about obeying every ordinance of man when it comes to laws against stealing or murder.

But what do you do in the grey areas when the government mandates make it challenging to fulfill other biblical commands like hospitality or gathering for worship?

Obviously it is a complex issue, but what might the Bible suggest as a short answer to the question of when to obey and when might it be okay to disobey?

If you look at the context, the chapters before and after the biblical injunctions to obey earthly authorities, you see two prerequisites to these commands:

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4 Ways To Test If You Are Motivated by Hate Or Love

By Jesse Jost

The most insidious thing about hate is that while it’s relatively easy to spot in our enemy, from the inside, our own hate doesn’t feel like hate. It doesn’t feel evil. In fact it feels like a desire for justice, a passion for purity, and a desire to rid culture of immorality. It can even feel like a desire for God’s glory.

Hate hijacks noble desires, which make it a destructive force, and cause its carrier to become immune to the conviction of the conscience. It’s why people full of hate feel so righteous as they cause church splits, civil wars, abuse on minorities, and even genocide.

We all despise hate in other people, and obviously want to be motivated by love. But when hate feels so righteous, how can we test to see if we are truly being motivated by love and holiness, and not just hate and pride and self-will?

Here are four biblical tests:

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The Threat More Lethal Than A Virus

By Jesse Jost

How do you get people to plug their ears to the cries of a suffering people? How do you get young men to march children and grandparents to their deaths? You encourage a spirit of hate that dehumanizes the other.

The only way a human can cope with killing and torturing another human, is to refuse to look at the other’s humanity and see them instead as an animal, a social menace, or a threat to personal safety.

The apostle John wrote that he who hates his brother is a murderer. Jesus warned of the danger of anger and hate by comparing them to committing murder in the heart.

Hate reduces our view of other people to a label or a one-dimensional threat to the causes that are important to us.

When viewed through the lens of hate, other humans are no longer thinking, feeling individuals, with dreams and hurts and insecurities. They are instead problems that need to be fixed or dangers that need to be quarantined or eliminated.

None of us would ever let hate so infect our hearts that we would commit genocide… right?

Hate doesn’t start with murder. It starts with a subtle irritation toward those with differences in opinion.

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Remember The Good…

By Jesse Jost

There is such a fascinating aspect of our human condition that puzzles me:

 Why do we have such a tendency to focus on and remember the negative aspects of life?

Why do we first want to talk about the hard things we experienced in our life?

Why is it easier, when talking about other people, to discuss their flaws and irritating quirks than their character strengths?

Why, after a conversation, do we ruminate more on the hurtful things that were said or the points of disagreement, than the words of praise or agreement?

Why, when reading a post or email, do we zero in on the annoying and negative and forget the positive?

When talking about our country, community, or government, why is it so much easier to bring up the things that frustrate us, than the things our leaders are doing well?

When discussing our church, how much of the conversations are about the exciting things God is doing and how much is about how people are failing?

There are probably beneficial reasons for this human preoccupation with the negative. After all, what is going well doesn’t need our attention. It’s the problem areas that need fixing.

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Activism Burnout, Freedom from Fear, and His Healing Love

By Jesse Jost

This past year has been so difficult because we have been cut off, to varying degrees, from in person fellowship and human touch and real life community.

We are desperate for human contact. Without it, we turn to the substitute of social media.

It has been wonderful to see babies being born, and cute stories and embarrassing moments. These good things from social media have been a gift.

But among the positives, have been the way social media has stirred up so much fear and frustration.

People feel frustrated that they can’t make more of a difference in the real world right now, so they turn to social media activism. At least we can bring awareness to the problem, they feel.

Awareness is such a vital first step to solving problems and injustice. It used to be that you were blissfully living your life, and someone would show you a graphic image of a slave ship. You were shocked. You woke up to the problem. You wanted to make a difference. You could take real action.

The problem today is the non-stop bombardment of social media activism. As I scroll through my facebook and twitter feed, I see activism about global warming and the need to reduce emissions, I see activism warning me that global warming is a hoax and part of an agenda to reduce human population.

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The Monday to Saturday Church

By Jesse Jost

I want to be clear up front that the church needs to gather. We are commanded to not forsake the assembling of ourselves together. We desperately need fellowship and communion with other believers. We need their encouragement and exhortations. We need their example and listening ear.

However, I am concerned by the idea that we are only the faithful church when we are packing out a building on Sunday morning. Assembling can take many forms, and where even two or three are gathered in His name, Jesus blesses it.

There are places in the world where the church is unable to meet in large groups in public buildings. Have they stopped being the church? If there comes a time in North America when churches are not allowed to meet at all in public buildings, will the church cease to exist?

For years it has bothered me that for many in North America, “church” has been reduced to a building or a ritual we do once a week.

In the New Testament Church is the community of the Bride of Christ. The emphasis is on relationships in the body, and how the individual members serve each other during the week, and live out their Kingdom mandates.

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Counterfeit Freedom That Divides and Enslaves

By Jesse Jost

The tricky thing about freedom is that the exercise of one man’s freedom almost always entails limiting another’s freedom. My freedom to play my music loud in the room limits everyone’s else’s freedom to have quiet or to enjoy their music.

This creates dilemmas for society: which freedoms should be protected by law and which freedoms should be limited? Should women be free to abort their babies? Should we be free to smoke pot?

The New Testament, while instilling love for liberty, does not call us to unlimited freedom. In fact, believers are often called slaves of God. We are to pursue liberty, but our freedom is to be limited by love. Gal 5:15-17

We are commanded to have the mind of Christ, who though He had the ultimate freedom as God, unhindered by any other power, voluntarily limited his freedom and took on the form of a slave, one who had no rights and freedoms. Jesus limited his freedoms instead of fighting for his rights, so that he could make us free. Phil 2:5-9

To the question of which freedoms should be honoured and which freedoms should be limited, the biblical answer is: We should be free to love and obey God in all He commands us, and we should be free to love our fellowman and be able to meet their needs.

However, the Bible does not give us full freedom of conscience. The Bible takes a dim view of our conscience in that it can become seared and be deceitful, and acknowledges that we have a tendency to justify and rationalize just about anything.

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Three of God’s Most Potent Mental Health Boosters

By Jesse Jost

If God stepped into your room and offered you a pill that was guaranteed to boost your happiness level, would you take it?

God made our brains for joy and peace and pleasure. In His presence there is fullness of joy. (Psalm 16:11)

Jesus said that He came that we might have life more abundantly. (John 10:10) “That your joy may be full,” were some of His final words to his disciples (John 15:11). Paul urges us to “rejoice in the Lord always.” (Phil 4:4)

But on this broken planet, we rarely enjoy God’s presence. Our minds are weighted with anxiety, resentment, discontentment, and guilt.

How did we get stuck in misery and how do we get unstuck?

Happiness Booster #1: Replace Regrets of the Past with Gratitude

The past can be tormenting… mistakes, missed opportunities, and the criticisms and abuse heaped on us. Toxic reflections like these create a yearning to rewrite events gone by.

But the past can’t be changed. It can, however, be reframed or reinterpreted.

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