What Would Jesus Post?

What would Jesus Post? This is the question that David Robertson addresses in his book that endeavours to outline a biblical approach to online interaction.

The book contains 18 chapters which cover a range of topics including: Pray before posting, A covenant with the eyes, Stewards of a digital tongue, Always in the presence of God, Wisdom and discernment, A digital sabbath, Dealing with digital gossip and Engaging with community.

Each chapter introduces the theme and encourages the reader to engage with biblical themes which arise from this area. There are questions throughout each chapter which give an opportunity to look at how we might respond to the subject matter under discussion.

One of the key bible verses that the author feels is very important throughout the book is Romans 12:2 “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

The chapters are short with most of them no longer than 8 or 9 pages. However, there is so much to ponder and consider in each one. This is a book that is best read one chapter at a time rather straight through from cover to cover. Due to the many different areas being addressed it will also serve well as a reference book that the reader can return to.

I would highly recommend What would Jesus Post? Many of us spend a great deal of our time on the internet and this book will serve as a valuable resource to challenge, encourage and inspire us to post in a way that honours God. It is a welcome addition to my bookshelf!

A Digital Sabbath

A digital sabbath is the title of one of the chapter’s in David Robertson’s book: What Would Jesus Post?

For Christians the sabbath is a day of worship in which we specifically endeavour to focus on worshipping God. Some might describe it also as a day of rest from work. Although in our modern culture there are many who do have to work on that day.

David Robertson aims in this chapter to get the reader to focus on the idea of a digital sabbath. He asks us to consider how we might change our online behaviour on the sabbath to mark the day out as holy to God.

I expect that the idea of a digital sabbath is one that many of us have not previously considered. We naturally go online every day without thinking anything about it. This comes as naturally as breathing to us! Should we though try and make this day different and have a break from online activity?

One of the problems we face is that it’s very easy for us to start making up “thou shall not” rules to govern behaviour both offline and online on a day of rest. However, I don’t believe that this is the right way to approach this. Instead a better way is to ask the questions that the author ponders:

  • How should we use our time on this day?
  • How do we make this day different?
  • How do we use this day to reflect the nature of God?

The author challenges the reader with the thought that if our sabbath day is no different to any other day then we are being conformed to the world. Whereas we need to be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2).

He also asks how quickly do we expect replies to emails and postings we make on a Sunday? I must confess if I email someone or message them on a Sunday I do check regularly for a reply.

From a personal prospective I think it is good to consider having a break from the online world. There will of course be occasions when that is not possible for various reasons. For example: we may be awaiting an urgent message from someone or we might be using our phone as our sat-nav whilst on a car journey.

Last Sunday I decided to have a digital sabbath and apart from replying to a text I received the phone was left alone. I found it very liberating to be free from my phone and enjoyed the experience. I am hoping to do this on a regular basis as it’s so easy to be addicted to our smartphones. It’s nice to have a day that is different.

I think David Robertson has again raised some important questions in his book which would be wise for us to ponder and act upon. Hopefully more of us will consider now taking a regular digital sabbath.

Pray before Posting on Social Media

I’m currently reading an interesting book by David Robertson called: What Would Jesus Post? The second chapter is entitled pray before posting and it contains some wise advice which I thought I would share this week in relation to our social media use.

The author believes that there are no occasions where prayer is not appropriate. He reminds us that Paul told the church in Ephesus to “pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.” (Ephesians 6:18). He also mentions Paul’s encouragement in Philippians 4v6 “do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

With these verses in mind it’s only right for David Robertson to ask us the following questions:

  • When do you pray about your online life?
  • How much do you pray compared to how often you connect online?
  • What view does God have on what we are about to post?

It might seem a strange idea to pray about our online life. However, those two verses mentioned above remind us that we should pray “on all occasions” and “in every situation.” Therefore, it’s not just our offline life that requires prayer but also our online life too. These days we spend so much time online that if we don’t pray about this then that is a big part of our life that we are prayerfully neglecting.

In our church services do we pray for our churches website and social media pages? We believe that it’s important for churches to have a web presence but how often does this become the subject of corporate prayer?

The second question above is obviously very challenging to many of us! I think if we are being honest with ourselves we know that this is an area where there is room for improvement. When we awake in the morning do we connect online before we pray? Likewise, as we go to bed is the last thing we do pray or check our social media feeds? Jesus started each day off in prayer and that’s an example we can all aim to follow.

We have all seen posts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram that we feel should not have been posted. However, does it occur to us that God will have a view on what we are about to post? It is very important that we always pray before posting on social media. Is the thing we are about to post edifying? Will someone be blessed or encouraged by our post? Alternatively, will our post be making fun at someone or belittling them?

Of course, we can delete our postings on social media but unless we do this immediately someone will probably see it. It’s better to pray before posting to avoid regret and embarrassment.

When we look at our social media feeds we are encouraged to like and share the postings of our friends and followers. Do we just click on the like or share button without either thinking or praying about it first? No doubt if we are honest with ourselves we have probably all liked posts on those platforms that we should not have done. There have been occasions when I have liked a post and then a few minutes later cancelled the like as I realise that I have made a mistake!

In closing lets us remember the importance of praying before we post on social media and asking God for wisdom in what we share online.

God’s Priorities by J. John

God’s Priorities is a book written by J. John on the Lord’s Prayer. The full title of the book, which gives an indication of its theme is: “God’s Priorities – Living Life from the Lord’s Prayer.” Many of us know the Lord’s Prayer off by heart however J. John in this book sets out to challenge us to live this famous prayer.

In each chapter the book addresses a phrase of the Lord’s Prayer in both the old traditional wording (the King James version) and a modern translation of it (the New Living Translation).

However, before he moves into the subject matter, in the first chapter of the book “The Preliminaries of Prayer”, the author outlines who he believes can say the prayer. J. John states that the prayer can only be said by those who are members of God’s family. He then outlines the gospel message and how we can become a member of God’s family.

There then follows seven chapters which are called: Privilege, Praise, Purpose, Provision, Pardon, Protection and Perspective. At the end of each chapter there are questions for the reader to ponder.

God’s Priorities is a very practical book which will challenge the reader as they read each chapter. J. John will encourage you to see if you need to be involved in the answer to your prayers. For example: if you are praying for God’s name to be honoured then how can you honour God’s name in your life, work, home and community!

It will help us to get our priorities in the right order when we pray. Many of us I guess start off our daily prayers concentrating on our own needs and wants. This book as you might imagine will help the reader to change that habit.

In my church we pray the Lord’s Prayer each week in our service and it can be easy to repeat it parrot fashion without thinking about what we are saying. Therefore, for me it was good to read this book and to be challenged and inspired by the Lord’s Prayer.

New Year’s Resolutions

Many people make New Year’s resolutions. At the start of 2019 no doubt some of us will be planning to do one or more of the following:

    • more exercise
    • join a gym
    • start a diet
    • take up a new hobby
    • change jobs

The beginning of a new year is often the time when we look at our lives and consider what changes we would like to see in them. Unfortunately, New Year’s resolutions are often easy to make but harder to do!

During the last 12 months my church has been going through a challenging time. We are in the process of merging with one of our sister churches in our parish and appointing a new rector to lead both the new merged church and the parish. We were hoping to complete this in 2018 but it still has not happened yet.

I have found that it has been very easy to get distracted whilst awaiting the completion of the merger and new rector appointment. Endless speculation of what is going to happen and when is not ideal. Although I have prayed about the situation I have certainly lost focus myself.

Therefore, for me the most important New Year’s resolution is to get my priorities right and focused correctly. To that end I was pleased to hear that our parish will be starting a Christianity Explored course at the end of January. The leaflet that has been produced for the course contains the following wording:

“….. it is vital that we have an opportunity to focus our efforts and energies first and foremost into the rediscovery of what is referred to in the book of Revelation as our ‘first love’: that good news about Jesus which not only gave birth to us as Christian believers, but which we are called first and foremost to live out and proclaim to the world.”

Your situation might be very different to my one. However, I think for all of us it would beneficial to make our New Year’s resolution to rediscover our first love for Christ.

Reading through the Bible chronologically in 2019

Have you ever read through the whole Bible in a year? There are many different reading plans available to assist with this. If you visit your local Christian bookshop or type “bible readings plans” into your favourite search engine, you will see a variety of options that can be used. One of my favourite ways is reading through the Bible chronologically.

The advantage of reading the Bible chronologically is that it enhances our understanding of the historical context of the individual books of the Bible. We can see in the Old Testament how books like Ezra, Hosea, Amos and Micah fit into the history of God’s dealings with his people. Likewise, in the New Testament we can look at each of Paul’s letters and see at which stage of his missionary travels they were written.

I personally have used the “Cover to Cover Through the Bible As It Happened” reading plan which is produced by CWR. This is an edition of the Bible that is split into 365 different readings with various helpful notes that assist the reader.

The prospect of reading through the bible in a year though does appear a daunting task. Many might think that it is impossible or have tried in the past but given up after a couple of months. It might surprise you however to know that it only takes between 15 to 20 minutes per day to do this. If we consider the amount of time we spend on social media, watching You Tube videos or on Netflix’s then surely, we can spare that small amount of time reading the scriptures in 2019?

Although everyone is different I prefer to do my Bible readings in the morning. If you are a “morning person” why not set your alarm 15 minutes earlier and do the reading before you start the day. Others though prefer to read during the day or in the evenings. The most important thing is to find a time that works best for you and to set that time aside each day. If for any reason you miss a day don’t get discouraged or give up but keep going.

Why not make 2019 the year you read through the Bible chronologically?

 

a Christmas Carol Special Edition

Stephen Skelton’s book “a Christmas Carol Special Edition” is an interesting version of the famous Charles Dickens book. In addition to including the complete text of Christmas Carol, the author provides interesting insights into the biblical illusions and Christian themes that are found in the classic novel.

At the end of each chapter or rather “stave” as Dickens called them, there are discussion questions for the reader to ponder. These cover the following themes: Selfishness, Regret, Repentance, Salvation and Rebirth.

Each discussion section contains four types of questions under the headings: Telling the Story, Telling Your Story, Telling the Story of Christmas and Living the Story. There are then some bible verses provided for further study. The questions are designed for all ages but the author does suggest the first two types are more appropriate for younger readers.

Christmas Carol is a book that many people have enjoyed over the years and will no doubt continue to do in the future. I think this edition would be good to be used for an Advent study group. There are many Christian themes that run through this classic tale which are worthy of further study and discussion. It would also make a good book to study by yourself too.