How I Manage Myself on Social Media – Ephesians 5:15-17

I can handle it. I’m going to check my feed for five minutes because I need a break and I want to catch up on the news. And maybe see what’s going on with my friends . . .

photo by andre-mouton .unsplash

Yeah, you guessed it. I was still scrolling through photos and stories two hours later, proving I’m not in control as much as I thought.

My story isn’t new and neither are the excuses. You don’t need to hear all the details about my painful joints and the amount of time I spend lying down. I’ve learned to be productive, managing my daily tasks as I rest, and I’m delighted I can get so much done. But after work I check my feeds on Facebook and Twitter and too often there I go again, sliding into the void . . .

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

There are so many opinions on the dangers of social media, my little brain can’t process it all. What concerns me, though, is how easily I’m drawn in – and kept there – by the distractions. Dare I use a stronger word and say seductions?

A few days ago my husband and I watched interviews of former executives and designers of the most popular social media platforms. It was alarming. At the end we asked ourselves what they were going to do to fix the problems they helped create.

But what they do is not my business. Instead, I should be concerned about how I’m managing me.

Where to start? I acknowledge that I’m a sheep. I follow other sheep because that’s what sheep do. No matter how convinced I am that I’m choosing my own path, I have to admit that my default is to take the easiest way without thinking things through or asking God for guidance.

Sheep can be startled by a loud noise and take off running away from safety instead of towards it, all because it seems like a smart move at the time. Yup, that’s me.

All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Isaiah 53:6 ESV

Here’s what Jesus, who calls himself the good shepherd, said:

“. . . The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.”

John 10:3-5 ESV

How can I be sure it’s his voice I’m hearing in my head? For me, the answer lies in practicing. I start by asking for his help. I read the Bible to see how people in the past communicated with God and I talk to him like they did.

Immersing my mind in his words helps me detect faulty thinking that may crop up. I love those times when I recognize something seems off and I can say wait, that’s not right. God doesn’t talk like that.

Of course I make mistakes, that’s okay. He’s patient, and he knows I am a sheep. When I say or do something silly I shine my flashlight of faith on it and confess my error. And when I’m unsure of the direction I should take? That’s when I exercise my faith and say, “Correct me if I’m wrong, Lord. I really want to do your will.”

And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.

Isaiah 30:21 ESV

There’s a free 30-day Bible study course in progress now from Bible Gateway. It can help you get started on recognizing God’s voice. Though it started a couple weeks ago it’s not too late to join – I did and quickly caught up. I enjoyed the overview of the Bible its given me so far, and it covers a lot of ground in a short time.

After shopping around the internet for a photo to go along with this post, I darkened the screen, set my phone down, and pushed it out of my reach. I looked up and asked God how did I do? This time I was able to resist giving social media two hours of my attention. Instead I redirected my thoughts to the One I love most, and I trust that with practice I’ll do even better.

by Kathy Sheldon Davis

From Judgment to Grace – Changing a Family Story – Romans 14:4

I know we’re not supposed to judge, but I do it all the time. It’s so easy, especially when the person in mind is someone I’ve never met and who died in 1925. Years ago I heard things about him that made it clear his poor choices affected his family for generations after him. He was clearly guilty.

He was my great-grandfather, Robert Stowe, a married father of four who worked as an insurance salesman and music teacher in Elkhart, Indiana. His failing was that his addiction to alcohol ate up their resources and caused his family to live in poverty. His daughter remembered how the wind blew up through cracks in the floor. His wife took their children to church and taught them good values, but Robert’s was only a sad, depressing story.

That was the narrative I believed all my life, until a few months ago.

Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

Romans 14:4 ESV

My Robert Stowe story changed shortly before my mother died, when she gave me more details about his life. She told me about his love for his children, how he taught music at their school, singing with Beneta, my grandmother, in his rich tenor voice.

His wife was musical too, singing soprano and playing her guitar. In their poverty they enjoyed making music. I hadn’t known they shared good times together. Instead I based my opinion of him on a repeated story, that single story, which in my mind marked him for life.

I felt no affection for Robert Stowe, however, until Mom told me about how his church held the belief that when it came to drink you were doomed. Even if you believed in Jesus as your Savior, drinking was considered a moral failure. You were labeled “backslidden” and no longer welcome in God’s presence—or theirs.

Robert Stowe would repent and get sober, attend church with his family for a time, then backslide again. Can you imagine how hard it would be to face your friends again and again, and have them reject you because of your struggles? And how heartbreaking it would be for a little girl to think her daddy wouldn’t go to heaven?

Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God.

1 John 3:7-9 ESV

Robert Stowe practiced a righteous life, humbling himself to admit his struggle with staying sober. He failed miserably, but the 1 John 3 scripture doesn’t say there’s a limit to how many falls we can experience. It does mention practicing, though.

I have three photos of my great-grandfather. In all of them he appears stern. Maybe he was hard on himself, a perfectionist that could never measure up. I can’t find any clues about his childhood or what happened to him. What I do know is that my heart changed. I understand him a little better now, and I have compassion for him.

I also know the graciousness of God and the truth that we all need a Savior. None of us come to God with a perfect record. And none of us are better people, or worse sinners, than another. God’s grace is enough.

Now I can easily imagine my great-grandfather performing the most requested song by his daughter’s classmates, Nita Juanita, and singing it with her name, “Nita” Beneta. If they share the love of laughter and the sparkle I’ve seen in his daughter’s blue eyes, it’s not a reach to imagine them enjoying a playful moment in heaven—free not only from his addictions, but from others’ judgments as well.

I can’t wait to meet him.

Kathy Sheldon Davis

Making the Most of Hard Times – Philippians 4:11-13

Do you get cranky when temperatures rise? I’m enjoying our spring weather so far, but you might want to back off if I’m in the sun too long.

Photo from Stocksnap – pixabay.com

When I was a baby, my parents took me to Indiana to introduce me to our relatives at Anderson Camp Meeting. As the day wore on, the summer heat got to me. Soon my fussing made those around me equally miserable. My ever resourceful mother found a bucket, drew a little water, and sat me in it. Dad snapped a photo of the transformation, his whiny child now grinning and splashing in the water. All because they’d met my most pressing need.

Sitting in the bucket, I had no concerns about food or clothing, or where I would take my afternoon nap. All I needed that moment was a bucket of water and my loving parents.

Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

Philippians 4:11-13 ESV

In these difficult times with the virus and its effects on our lives, we can be content with what we have. We can face seasons of having much, as well as those of lack, through Jesus who strengthens us.


Helping others

My longtime friend, Laurie, a missionary in Uganda, is working to feed the hungry during the COVID-19 pandemic. Here’s what she wrote a couple days ago.

Today, Gerald is on his way to go and help another 6 families. One story that has really touched me this week: When Gerald was buying posho and beans for one family, a young woman came up to the vendor with a baby on her back and a young child in tow. She asked the vendor how much the very cheap (not milled well) rice was. They said shs3,000 (less than $1).
She said, “Oh, I thought it was only shs1,000.” (less than 30 cents). Then she walked away, not having enough to buy even the worst rice you can buy. Gerald said she looked hungry, but he had no extra money to get her anything. So, now when he goes to buy for the ones we know, I send him with extra so he can get something for those who have nothing–like this young mother.

Laurie Dickerson

I share Laurie’s story because I want to remember there are people suffering much more than I am from the effects of the virus. Having spent time in communities like hers, I’ll never forget the tremendous need.

She serves where most people go to work, receive their pay and buy their food the same day. Few have refrigeration or canned foods. If they don’t work, their family doesn’t eat that day. Many have lost their jobs and are going hungry. (If you’d like to help, contact me and I’ll get you connected.)


An app to try

No matter what state I’m in, I’m more aware of God’s presence when I read the Bible every day. Because of the convenience of having the scriptures via Biblegateway.com accessible on my cell phone, I’m happy to be a #BibleGatewayPartner and share this resource with you. I am not paid to share my opinion–my desire is to promote Bible reading.

I recently downloaded Bible Gateway’s free Bible Audio App and it’s great! When my hands are busy, like when driving or stretching, I can listen to Scripture. The only downside is that currently the English Standard Version, the version I prefer, isn’t an option. Hopefully, that will change.

This app is also a great tool to help with memorization. The verse text appears on your screen as you listen, and changes when the spoken verse changes. And you can swipe to navigate between verses or set it to repeat the verse or passage being read. I like that.

Remember, the Bible Gateway Bible Audio App is free.

by Kathy Sheldon Davis