There are times when a photo can say more than many words.
When I post something on any social media site I have a tendency to frequently check whether my post has received any “likes”. I must admit I can get quite disappointed if there are no responses to my post! Whilst that might seem strange to some people, I’m sure there are many others who know exactly what I mean.
Last week I read an interesting article on the BBC website entitled “Social media apps are deliberately addictive to users”. The article contained the following quote:
Leah Pearlman, co-inventor of Facebook’s Like button, said she had become hooked on Facebook because she had begun basing her sense of self-worth on the number of “likes” she had.
“When I need validation – I go to check Facebook,” she said.
“I’m feeling lonely, ‘Let me check my phone.’ I’m feeling insecure, ‘Let me check my phone.’”
Ms Pearlman said she had tried to stop using Facebook after leaving the company.
“I noticed that I would post something that I used to post and the ‘like’ count would be way lower than it used to be.
“Suddenly, I thought I’m actually also kind of addicted to the feedback.”
I think it’s safe to say that Leah Pearlman is not the only person who has sought validation through Facebook. I would not be surprised if sadly many of us know exactly what she is talking about if we are being honest with ourselves.
For those of us who understand and identify with Leah Pearlman’s comments we might ask ourselves the following questions:
- Why do we look to social media for validation?
- Why do we base our self-worth on the number of “likes” our post has received?
- Why do we check our phones when we feel lonely?
I don’t believe that there is anything wrong as such with social media. It can be a useful tool for keeping in touch with friends and families. However we do need to exercise self-control in our use of social media. It really does not matter in the scheme of things if no-one “likes” your post. Don’t rely on “likes” to make you happy!
In Genesis 26: 7-11 there is the episode in Isaac’s life when he told everyone that his wife Rebekah was his sister. Why did he do this? Verse 7 tells us he was sacred that the men of the city would kill him as his wife was beautiful. Yet why was Isaac scared? God had told him to stay put and He would bless him. You would have thought that once he had received that promise then he would have been full of faith. However Isaac showed that he was a fallible person, just like us!
In fact if we look through the Bible we can see plenty of examples that God uses fallible people to achieve his purposes.
Interesting Isaac’s father, Abraham, had done exactly the same thing as Isaac but on two different occasions. This is the man who was commended for his faith yet still was not immune from getting things wrong.
Moses is remembered as the man who God used to leave his people out of Egypt. However he was also the same person who murdered a man and fled, hiding away for 40 years. Then when God called him he did his best to try to avoid God’s call on his life and requested that God send someone else instead (Exodus 4:14).
David is described as a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22). He was a man who bravely defeated Goliath in battle and someone who refused to take revenge on Saul when he was being hunted by him. Yet this same man also committed adultery with Bathsheba and murdered her husband Uriah too.
Elijah was used by God to defeat the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18) at Mount Carmel. Yet a short time later he was afraid and ran away and hid from Jezebel. You would have thought that after seeing the great victory at Mount Carmel he would have nothing to fear.
Jonah was the man who ran away from God to avoid his calling to preach in Nineveh. He then obeyed God’s call and preached to the people in that city. After the people repented and received God’s forgiveness, Jonah then complained and moaned at God for his generous love and graciousness. Not the best of attitudes!
Peter was the leader of the early church. He preached the gospel bodily to the crowds. Yet this was the same man who denied three times that he knew Jesus, despite saying he would never desert him.
All of the people mentioned above were fallible individuals yet God still used them. Doesn’t that sound like us? What hope that should give us. What an encouragement to us that God uses people like us despite the mess we make of things on occasions!
I remember a while ago watching an interesting TV programme on the World War II. This programme was being shown on a cable channel so eventually there was a commercial break.
One of the adverts was for a face cream and the person advertising the product said that this item would help create a new “you” i.e. it would change you and make you feel like a new person.
Another of the adverts said that to make you feel good on the outside you had to feel good on the inside and the way to do this would be to eat a particular type of yogurt. Once you had eaten this yoghurt your inside would be changed thus leading you to be changed on the outside.
Now I guess most of us realise that these are just marketing ploys to encourage people to buy these two products. However I wonder if sometimes we might act like we believe these adverts are actually true. Perhaps we think that some of the following might make us feel like a new person:
- New hair cut
- Changing jobs
- Moving house
- Having a new relationship
- Purchasing the latest phone or tablet
Now there is nothing wrong with any of the above, however none of them will actually change us and create the new “you” that the adverts would have us believe. They will not lead to a transformed life. Neither will they provide true satisfaction to the soul.
The second advert was more relevant as it hit upon the fact that change takes place on the inside and then that change is reflected on the outside. However there was one slight problem in so much that yogurt cannot change you!
There is only one person who can truly change us and satisfy the soul. This person died on a cross and took our sin upon Himself and He is the one we should seek.
You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:6-8)
You would hope that if there is one lesson in life we learn it is learning from past mistakes.
Many years ago I had a car accident when I was driving in some bad weather. It had been snowing and some of the roads were icy. I was driving to a friend’s house and took a short cut down a side road. Next thing I knew I had crashed into a tree.
The big mistake I made was to go down the side road, which unfortunately was icy. I should have kept on the main roads which were fine.
I learnt two important lessons that day which I have never forgotten. Firstly, that I should drive carefully when the road conditions are treacherous. Also secondly, I should keep to the main roads in icy conditions even if it makes the journey longer.
I have never forgotten those two lessons and have certainly learnt from my past mistake in this area.
Sadly there are other areas of my life in which I have not learnt from my past mistakes. One of which is thinking before I open my mouth.
If I could write a letter back to my younger self I would stress the importance of watching what I say. There have been a number of difficult situations I have got myself into over the years due to my mouth.
You might hope that eventually I will grasp this lesson: “Think before you speak!”
In Ezekiel 23 God gave a word to the prophet about Oholah (Samaria) and Oholibah (Jerusalem).
After watching Oholah prostitute herself to the Egyptians and Assyrians and seeing her humiliated we are told in v11
“Her sister Oholibah saw this, yet in her lust and prostitution she was more depraved than her sister.”
We are told in the remainder of the chapter about the full extent of Oholibah’s sin and the subsequent judgement that both sisters would encounter.
You might have thought that Oholibah would have learnt from the sin of Oholah. Surely she would not copy the bad example of her sister? Sadly though she did not learn and exceeded her sister’s wickedness.
There is a lesson for us here. It’s quite simple. Learn from past mistakes, both your own and others, and adjust your life accordingly.
I wonder how many of us have been asked the question “are we addicted to our smartphones?” If so what would our answer be? Would we have the courage to be honest with ourselves and say yes?
One of the things that frequently amazes me is watching groups of people sitting in a restaurant together ignoring each other and staring at their smartphones. Sometimes I see two people in a restaurant, who are obviously out on a date, and instead of talking to each other they are both engrossed in their smartphones.
Last week Apple at their Worldwide Developers Conference spoke about ways to make people use the iPhone less. They are going to introduce features that will show how long we spend doing various things on our phones. Google have also been talking publicly about this too.
Why are we obsessed with constantly looking at our smartphones? Why is there the constant need to keeping checking social media updates? Are we afraid of missing something? Will our lives be worse off it we are not looking at our smartphones?
I remember the BBC speaking to some school children about their use of social media. It was suggested to them that they switched off their smartphones for an evening. The feeling was if someone did this they would not know what everyone was talking about the next day at school, as they were usually discussing what was posted on social media the previous evening.
Six ways to break our addition to smartphones?
- Switch off notifications on your smartphone – it’s not compulsory to have notifications switched on! If we switched them off our phones would not constantly keep going off. We therefore would not have the urge to check what the latest notification was?
- Switch off your mobile data on your smartphone – again it’s not compulsory to have this switched on. If it’s not switched on then you will not be able to check what’s happening on-line. If anyone wants to contact you they still can by text or a phone call.
- Switch on aeroplane mode on your smartphone – this is my favourite! No-one can contact you if you switch this on. You can still take photos on your phone and you will save battery life too. I always use this when I go to bed so that I will not be disturbed!
- Have short breaks from using your smartphones – Richard Madeley wrote last Saturday in the Daily Express that “starting today (9 June) I’m switching my phone off at weekends.” If a weekend seems too much why not try an evening per week?
- Stop using your smartphone – Simon Cowell said last week he has not used his phone for 10 months and he felt the better for it. Maybe for most of us this is a bit extreme and not practical but it’s an interesting observation from him.
- Practice self-control – Ultimately it is all about self-control. Will you let your smartphone dominate your life? The apostle Paul when writing to the churches in Galatia listed self-control as one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:23). God has given us the means to beat this addiction (or any other one). We need to seek Him for the fruit of self-control in our lives.
I arrived at church and upon seeing me a member of our congregation hurried over and asked me if I knew how to copy a dvd over to another dvd. (He had a dvd containing some footage of someone who had recently died and he wanted to pass a copy of this onto the surviving spouse). I replied that I would email him some links to show him how to do this.
This is where I let you into a little secret. I didn’t actually know how to do this myself! However, I was confident that I could find out quite easily. So I did what I normally do in these situations and typed the question into Google “how do you copy a dvd to another dvd in Windows 10?”
Immediately a number of links came up including a You Tube tutorial on how this is done. I had a quick look at the various links and choose five that I thought were appropriate and emailed them across. I was not sure whether he would require further help so I awaited his reply to see how he got on.
Not long after I got a reply saying that he had downloaded the software required and had successfully copied the contents of the dvd to another dvd. He was very grateful for the links that I had sent him and expressed his thanks that I had assisted him.
I found this quite a strange scenario. I’m always happy to help people who ask for my assistance with computer problems they are experiencing. However in this situation all I did was type the question he asked me into Google. Whilst I didn’t actually know the answer to his question I knew how to find the answer. I wondered why he had not done that himself and concluded that perhaps the thought had not crossed his mind.
Just as my fellow Christian was seeking an answer to his technical question there are others who seek answers to the important questions of life. Why are we here? What is the point of life? What happens after we die? Why do people suffer?
You could certainly Google those questions if you wish however my answer to them would be to point you to a bible verse in Isaiah which was instrumental in Charles Spurgeon coming to faith in Christ:
“Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other. (Isaiah 45:22)
I’m not suggesting that you will never have any further questions if you turn to Christ. However as believers we can trust these words of Jesus:
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)