In today’s health-conscious culture we carefully monitor our diets. We count calories and cut carbs and buy organic, because as everyone knows, you are what you eat.
But how much attention do we give our online diet? Do we monitor our intake of information or consider its effect on our souls?
Some of us might have a regular online diet of breaking news, medical information, and stories of loss, tragedy, and heartbreak via social media. We gobble up a huge helping of unhealthy content each morning and snack on it throughout the day. And then we wonder why we are so fearful all the time.
Here’s what can happen to me: I check an online news source only to see a headline about a kidnapping, and I fear for the safety of my grandchildren. Another plane crash or terrorist plot and I worry about C.J.‘s flight home. The local police report indicates a rise in burglaries and I can’t sleep at night.
Whenever we read about something bad happening somewhere else, we may be tempted to imagine it happening to us. And information about bad things happening is everywhere on the Internet!
That’s why we would do well to remember Elisabeth Elliot’s statement of truth (and I can’t help but wonder what her thoughts might be about our online habits!): “There is no grace for our imagination.” Instead, God’s grace is found in the warning to flee these temptations: “Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil” (Ps. 37:8).
So if you find yourself tempted to fret, start by evaluating your online diet. Is it regularly feeding your fearful imagination? If so, then maybe you should choose not to click.
A while ago I told my husband that whenever I went to a particular online parenting forum, I came away feeling anxious about our children. He simply (and wisely) told me not to read it.
But sometimes the simplest advice is the hardest to take.
A few weeks ago, another update from this group appeared in my inbox and the headline caught my attention. I’m OK now, I can handle it, I thought. And besides, It’s important for me to be informed on this issue. So I clicked.
The post, by a woman I have never met, was about a crisis in her family. And my mind began racing, a mile a minute, wondering if we were on the verge of a similar disaster. Am I missing the warning signs? What if this happens to us?
My husband shook his head and smiled, as if to say “You could have avoided all this anxiety, if only you had taken my advice!” to which I offered no argument.He then explained why he did not think we were on the verge of a family crisis, and patiently led me back to the relevant truths from God’s Word.
The Internet age has conditioned us to think that because we can read everything, we should read everything. In fact, we think we have a kind of obligation to be “informed.” We must have “all the facts.”
But we must reexamine this “obligation to be informed” or this “right to know” from a biblical perspective. When the Corinthians tried to insist “All things are lawful for me” Paul rejoined “but not all things are helpful…I will not be dominated by anything” (1 Cor. 6:12).
So let’s hold this straight edge up against our online browsing habits:
It is “lawful” to read an online news source, but is it helpful for you?
It is “lawful” to visit online forums or chat rooms but does it build you up in the gospel? Does it build others up in the gospel?
It is “lawful” to follow certain Twitter or Facebook feeds, but is it always helpful?
In God’s kingdom, the prize doesn’t go to the “well-informed”, the one who knows everything about everything and everyone, but rather to the one who knows the God who knows everything: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom…but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me…declares the LORD.” (Jeremiah 9:23-24 ESV)
With that in mind, less time on the Internet and more time in God’s Word seems, in what must be a massive understatement, helpful.
I have read your posts about distractions on the Internet. You were talking about priorities. And we all know how important it is to set priorities in our lives. The gospel and God should come first, then your husband and then your children, you said. But as I am not married yet, how should my priorities list look like? Of course, God comes first, but then?
A couple of years ago we did an extended series called “Best Deals” based on Ephesians 5:15-16:
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. (Ephesians 5:15-17 ESV)
Sometimes, as a single it is easy to feel like your time is your own. No one is banging on your bathroom door and the laundry pile doesn’t explode overnight. So why does it matter if I waste a little time online? you may wonder. But when viewed in terms of God’s kingdom, how we use our time always matters.
God’s calling for you as a single woman without kids is no less urgent or strategic than for a woman with children. We are all to walk carefully and wisely, “making the best use of our time because the days are evil.”
Our series kicked off with a look at God’s plan for the different seasons of our lives (part one, two, three), taken from our book, Shopping for Time. Then we suggested seven “best deals” for single women, all to be lived out in the context of the local church:
There is no sin in making little mistakes of spelling or grammar. We all make them. But in case you wanted to know (you probably don’t), or in case you wanted to mention it gently to someone else (more likely), here are ten tiny things to keep in mind as you lead in worship, prepare the bulletin, or just converse about the church service.
1. There are 150 psalms in the Bible. This collection is called the Psalter or simply The Psalms. Each chapter in the book is an individual psalm. So even though we call the book “The Psalms” you’ll want to say “Psalm 23″ instead of “Psalms 23.” As much as we love that chapter, it still only counts for one psalm.
2. Speaking of extra S’s, the last book of the Bible is “Revelation”-in the singular. It may produce many revelations in us, but apparently it was all of a piece for John (Rev. 1:1).
3. A word to the selfless souls who input song lyrics for Sunday morning: “Oh” is not the same as “O.” The former is an exclamation, an emotional cry of anger, excitement, despair, or surprise. The latter is a vocative form of address usually followed by a name or title. If you lose your wallet and say “O God” you are probably praying to find it. If you say “Oh God” you are doing something else.
Read all ten of Kevin’s helpful tips, and enjoy your weekend!
If you live in the Louisville, KY area (or will be passing through at some point!) you’ll be happy to know that Janelle’s photography business, Summer Nell Photography, is setting up shop here in town. You can check out her new website to view her portfolio and get info on booking sessions for children, couples, and families (including a discount option for seminary students!).
Not only will Janelle provide you and your family with creative, high-quality pictures, but your kids might actually enjoy the photo shoot! And each package comes with complimentary “Milestone Art” for each of your children like we’ve been featuring on the blog these past two weeks.
Here are just a few examples of Janelle’s work from her site:
Hurry and book your session, ‘cause you’re gonna to have to compete with me for a time slot!
You can also visit Summer Nell Photography on Facebook.
If you identified with Peter in last week’s post, and find yourself tempted to sinful comparison—especially when using social media—then let me encourage you to watch (or re-watch!) Mom’s message on “The Snare of Compare” from the recent Gospel Coalition Women’s Conference. Even though I have heard this message many times now, I never tire of it. Maybe that’s because I so easily give into this temptation to compare myself to others, no matter what my season or situation in life. And so I am in constant need of our Savior’s gracious, perspective-restoring rebuke: “What is that to you? You follow me!”