Blog #2,062 Or Day 29 of Lent

I’ve loved my break from social media. I suddenly find I have all this free time and I’m actually engaging in the world around me.

Unfortunately, I also feel out of the loop on current events. I don’t know what’s going on in the lives of my friends.

When I’m Facebooking or Instagramming, I at least feel somewhat connected to what’s going on around me. I’m able to keep up with all my friends’ activities, what they’re eating, who they’re dating, who’s engaged, etc.

Now I have no clue.

Still, it’s a small price to pay for giving up social media. I highly recommend everyone who reads this to fast from social media (if you’re not one of those who already abstains from it). It’s extremely refreshing.

I always have Netflix to get me through. I’m up to season four of The Wonder Years (and loving every minute of it). I got to the part where Winnie cried when she broke up with Kevin. It almost made me cry.

Think of the time that The Wonder Years is set in. There was no social media, no cell phones, no computers (at least not personal ones), and only the basic channels on TV. Yet they somehow managed to survive.

There are days when I think society as a whole would be better off without so much reliance on social media and technology. Just don’t ask me to give it up for very long.

Also, I have my blogging outlet to get me through the absence of social media. I can still share what’s going on in my world. Sometimes, that can be very therapeutic.

Most of all, I am being reminded yet again that God is enough. He more than fills any absence of Facebook or Twitter or Instagram. He more than makes up for the lack of a wife or kids. He alone is sufficient for every day of the year, no matter what the season.

 

My Lent Plans for 2016

Here I am, typing this on my laptop in Starbucks and already thinking about Lent. If I’m not mistaken, Lent starts on Ash Wednesday, the day after Fat Tuesday, which occurs during Mardi Gras.

My plan as always is to fast from social media during this time. As much as I’d like to use the extra time to be all productive and stuff, my main goal during this season is to reboot my brain and get my head right again.

Not that I’m in a bad place. I just think that it’s easy to let social media affect how you perceive yourself and others, and stepping away from it all can be a good way to remind yourself that life is more than status updates, Instagram posts, and how many likes and/or comments you get.

I will still be writing these blogs, so fret not. They will still show up on all my social media outlets, as usual.

Ideally, I can spend way less time with my head buried in my phone. I can look up and see blue skies and sunsets and other people (most likely with their heads buried in their phones and tablets).

Life is what happens when you’re busy making plans. It’s also what happens when you’re checking your Facebook feed or updating your Twitter account. I doubt very seriously that you’ll get to the end of your life and regret all those hilarious memes you didn’t share or all the clever status updates you didn’t write.

You will regret not spending more actual real time with real people in face-to-face conversations about real-life situations.

You will regret not looking up from your social media to see all that life that’s passing you by.

So all that to say that starting Ash Wednesday, I will be (mostly) off the grid until after Easter Sunday. See you all then.

 

Politics, Schmolitics

“The anything-goes passiveness of the religious and political Left is matched by the preachy moralism of the religious and political Right. The person who uncritically embraces any party line is guilty of an idolatrous surrender of her core identity as Abba’s Child. Neither liberal fairy dust nor conservative hardball addresses our ragged human dignity” (Brennan Manning, Abba’s Child: The Cry of the Heart for Intimate Belonging).

“All religious and political systems, Right and Left alike, are the work of human beings.  Abba’s children will not sell their birthright for any mess of pottage, conservative or liberal.  They hold fast to their freedom in Christ to live the gospel-uncontaminated by cultural junk, political wreckage, and the complex hypocrisies of a bullying religion” (Brennan Manning).

Yep. That sums it up.

I normally don’t post anything political on any of my social media sites because anything that smacks of politics tends to generate reactions rather than well-thought-out responses. These days most people seem to fall into one of two camps– either those who blindly support the current President and think he’s nearly divine or those who hate him and everything he does and have labeled him as the Anti-Christ. At least that’s the way it seems to me.

It was the same 8 years ago with the last President. For some he could do no wrong. For others, he could do nothing write.

I love the song that says that my hope isn’t in a flag or a President or a country, but in a King and a Kingdom. That’s where my ultimate allegiance lies. That’s where my ONLY allegiance lies.

True, the Bible does say to respect, honor, and obey those in power, but that service is done as to God Himself.

So yeah, I take all these comments I see on Facebook and Twitter with a grain of salt. A very, very large grain of salt. Ultimately, my future hope isn’t in this President or the next. It isn’t in a political party. It’s in the Jesus who was Lord before George Washington took office and will be Lord after the last President leaves office.

That’s my soapbox blog for the year, people.

Lessons from Lent

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This may be old hat for you or not. I’m not sure. But stop me if you’ve heard some or all of this before: last year, I gave up only Facebook for Lent. This year, I decided to give up all social media. It turned out to be one of my best decisions ever. Although if I’m honest, I was being obedient to what I felt God was calling me to do. It really wasn’t my decision at all.

I don’t regret for one single second going without social media for those 46 days. I got in more prayer time, I read my Bible more, I read more books in general. Plus, I had a greater sense of peace from not being tied down to Facebook or Twitter.

I think sometimes in order to appreciate something more, you need to step away from it for a while. That was the case for me. I did sometimes feel out of the loop after missing all the news from Facebook. But I can always catch up on that.

Lent is more than just giving up. It’s replacing it with something better. It’s no good to give up social media if you’re going to fill up the time with television. Hopefully, you spend your extra free time in learning to hear God’s voice and hear His heartbeat and feel His love for you. Obviously, the best way to do that is through His Word.

I don’t claim that I was anywhere near perfect in that regard. I wasted too much of the time I had away from social media. But I’m not beating myself up about it. Instead I choose to focus on the fact that I was more discipline in regard to prayer and Bible reading than I’ve been in a long time.

I hope to be able to participate in Lent again next year. I hope that I can be free enough to walk away from anything that enslaves me and takes my eyes off Jesus, whether that be social media or TV or anything else.

Like I said before, it’s really not about giving up stuff or sacrificing what you love. More than that, it’s about prioritizing your life and making sure that Jesus and His Kingdom really and truly are first. Then everything else will line up and fall into proper place.

What I Gave Up for Lent This Year

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Last year, I gave up Facebook for Lent. I won’t lie. It was harder than I thought it would be. I found out how much of a hold Facebook had on me and how much of my time it consumed.

It was freeing to not feel tied down to Facebook, to not have to check to see who responded to my posts. Who liked them. I admit I didn’t always use the extra time toward seeking God. But it was a start.

This year, I’m giving up ALL forms of social media. For those of you new to the interweb, that means Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest. I checked E) All of the above.

This is my second day and the old tug is back. That tug that says that one glance won’t hurt. That one look won’t lead to an hour or more checking status updates of friends.

I covet your prayers. Specifically, I’m asking for you to pray that I’d use this time more intentionally to seek God in prayer and in His Word. That I’d be open to whatever He says, whether it’s something I want to hear or not, whether it’s easy or painful, even if it requires me to die a little more to the safe and comfortable and routine.

As you probably surmised, I haven’t given up WordPress. It’s funny how God can speak to me through my own writing, sometimes while I’m in the very midst of writing it. This and a sleepy cat in my lap are my forms of therapy.

I’ll keep you updated on what I’m learning and hearing from God during these 46 days of Lent. I’d love to spend this time praying for you specifically as well, so feel free to text me your prayer requests at (615) 556-5850 or email me at gmendel72@icloud.com. I am also available to meet with you in person (if you live close to the Nashville area). But please, no autographs. 😁

May this God that the grave couldn’t hold draw you ever closer to Him during this season of remembering and reflection and become the very desire of your heart. Amen.

Technology Rocks (Or Why I Love My iPad 3)

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Recently, I have made strides in my technological awareness and hipsterness. And by recently, I mean the last two years.

First came the Sony Vaio, which narrowly defeated the MacBook Pro as my choice of laptop. And I do mean narrowly. Ultimately, the Vaio was cheaper.

Then came the iPhone 5. I thought about other choices like droids and Windows phones, but for me it wasn’t much of a contest. Most people I know who have smart phones have iPhones and just about all the ones who have iPhones love them. Case closed.

The iPad 3 came into my hands unexpectedly. I wanted to downsize and simplify my life, so I went through and picked out LOTS of DVDs and CDs to trade in at McKays. I received enough credit to get the 64 GB iPad 3 they had on display.

Actually, I had enough total credit to get two iPads. The first one, an iPad 2, I ended up giving to mother dearest, and the second one I am typing this on.

I’ve decided that my next laptop will in no uncertain terms be a Mac. I think me and Windows have irreconcilable differences and it’s best that we part ways.

I do think that as great and wonderful as technology is, it can (and should) never replace face-to-face conversations. I think we are losing the ability to be in community and to have meaningful relationships due to our unhealthy obsession with all things social media and smart phones and tablets.

It’s not uncommon to ignore the person in front of you to chat with someone via text. Social media might not have killed common courtesy and manners, but it has paved the slippery slope toward that end.

You can have up to 5,000 friends on Facebook and almost as many followers on Twitter and Instagram. The result? We take people and relationships for granted and treat friendships casually and cavalierly.

We’ve even bought into the insidious lie that you can be friends with everyone. You can be friendly with everyone, but if you want actual relationships with even the tiniest bit of depth and meaning, you have to choose a handful of lives to invest in.

I’m glad when I needed help God didn’t send a text or a tweet. He didn’t post on my Facebook wall or poke me. He sent His real-life, flesh-and-blood, one-of-a-kind Son. He took on my skin and walked around in my shoes.

Yeah, I need to put down my devices more and be in the moment. To look people in the eye and smile and say hi. In an age where communication has never been more prevalent and available, people are more lonely than ever before.

But I still want my Mac.

The Love of God

“Take your human feelings, multiply them exponentially into infinity, and you will have a hint of the love of God revealed by and in Jesus Christ.” (Brennan Manning)

I love what I heard tonight from Kairos. True unconditional love, the kind of love that God has for us, transcends emotions and feelings. It is driven by devotion and commitment. It sacrifices everything for the sake of the beloved to bring out the best in him or her. The kind of love God has for me.

I may not ever have a million followers on twitter. I may never get 100 likes on a facebook post. I may never be known outside of a small circle of family and friends.

But the one thing that boggles my mind, the one thing too incredible to believe, yet still true, is this. The God over the entire universe knows my name. The Creator and Sustainer of all life knows who I am and where I am and what I’m going through. And he loves me.

My God loves me. My Abba Father is very fond of me. That alone gives me worth and meaning and validates my very existence. That alone is enough for me.

Imagine the purest love you have ever received in your life. Take that love and multiply it a thousand times. A million times. Multiply it exponentially. That begins to hint at how much God loves you.

Imagine that love that never wavers, never grows cold, never varies in the least, but remains constant all the time. A love that is 100% 24/7. That is the love of God for you. For me.

If I had one wish tonight, it would be that you know to the very core of your being this incredible love God has for you and that you receive it and believe it with everything in you. That you hang onto that great Love no matter what, knowing that this God works all things together for good to whose who love him and are called according to his purpose.