Is Social Media Hurting the Church?

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Ah yes, it’s the notorious red Starbucks cup. You are probably groaning and tempted not to read this right now. You’re probably thinking this is yet another article on why we should boycott Starbucks for their “war on Christmas” or you may think this is about the “war on Christmas paranoia”. Either way, you’re probably sick of hearing about it. But don’t worry, this blog post is not about the plain red “holiday” cup.  It’s about the deeper problems the red cup uproar represents.

If you have a Facebook or pay attention to current events and trends, you’re probably very familiar with this cup, but in case you aren’t allow me to enlighten you. Starbucks recently announced that they are using plain red cups this year as more open minded approach to the Christmas season. This originally enraged many Christians, who feel they are trying to take the Christ out of Christmas. But then, after the initial wave of social media ranting, there came another tirade of annoyed Christians, but they’re anger was directed toward a surprising source. Other Christians. These Christians claimed that ranting about the red cup was just paranoia, and Christians just wanted to rave about something. Ironically, I saw a lot more of these post than the original holiday anger.

Honestly, I don’t have an opinion concerning the Starbucks cup. I don’t drink Starbucks for other reasons, so it doesn’t matter to me. I can see both sides of the argument. But after seeing several of these Facebook posts written by Christians about other Christians turn a little nasty and snarky, I realized that the infamous red cup symbolized a deeper problem. Christians are using social media to attack other Christians in a way they would never do face to face.

Now before I continue, I would just like to point out that I’m not referring to this one instance, only using it as an example. This is not the first time I have seen Christians go at other Christians on Facebook, but it is the first time I’ve seen it to this extreme, with well-known Christian leaders and celebrities chiming in as well.

This brings me to the point of this post: is social media hurting the Church?

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Don’t get me wrong, I love Facebook, YouTube, and Pinterest. I spend way more time than I probably should on these websites each day. Facebook is great for snooping on other people’s usually more interesting lives and finding out about fun events. YouTube is great for watching some of my favorite blogs and listening to music. And let’s not even get started on my Pinterest addiction. But the more time I spend on social media, Facebook specifically, the more I notice a disturbing trend. Christians using Facebook to vent their frustrations with other Christians, causing division in the Church.

I’d like to clarify that by the Church, I mean believers all over the world who love and serve God. I’m not referring to a specific church group. Believers are suppose to be encouraging and loving to one another.

1 Corinthians 12:25-26 says, “So that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.”

It’s as if Christians forget that the Bible still applies on the internet as much as it does in person. More so even, because not only are you disregarding someone’s opinion tactlessly, but you are doing it publicly.  Also, it’s much harder to judge someone’s tone over the internet than it is in person. And in the end what does it really solve? Reality is your not going to change anyone’s opinion by posting five different articles on why or why not Starbucks is declaring war on Christmas. So before you post that article on why Christians are wasting their time ranting about the red cup, or how they must not care about babies being aborted or homeless people because their concerned about a stupid cup, or called them paranoid in a condescending way, remember that they are all your brothers and sisters in Christ. Pray about what your about to say, and ask yourself, “Is this somewhat snippy comment really necessary? In the end, what’s it going to prove?”

The really ironic thing is I’ve seen more Christians rant about how other Christians are wasting their time ranting about the red cup, than Christians actually ranting about the red cup. Is it really that big of deal that’s worth causing conflict?

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“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful” ~Colossionas 3:15

 

~Allyson

Phobophobia

Everyone has they’re own inner battles. Some are more obvious than others, but when it gets down to it, everyone has something they really struggle with. One of my personal struggles is fear. Fear seems to have more power over us than just about any other emotion. When we’re afraid of something can’t think rationally and behave in ways we wouldn’t normally. Like insisting on sleeping with the light on or checking under our beds for monsters. Or almost ripping our shirt off in the middle of the living room, because we think there may be a tiny spider on it. (I did not do that!) Or running away from your Dad, screaming, because he told you he felt like he was going to vomit. (I have done that.)

That brings me to my fear. THE STOMACH FLU. Notice how that is in all caps, that’s kind of how I imagine those three words together, mixed with a high pitched squeak. Now, when I say I am afraid of the stomach flu, I mean I am really, really terrified. Or at least I used to be. Now I am very scared of the stomach flu, but not like I was. I used to be soooooooo frightened of the stomach flu that it was a physical reaction. My body would tremble, I would feel weak, and my heart would race. At times it was so bad, I could barely function. And this wasn’t just my reaction when my family started vomiting, this was my reaction when anyone I knew got sick with the awful virus.

Then one night, several years ago, my entire family got the stomach flu. Every single one, but me.

It was at that point, as I lay in bed crying, my heart pounding, that I realized I feared the fear as much as I feared the stomach flu. I also knew that I couldn’t live with this fear for the rest of my life. It was too controlling, it stopped me from doing things that I would normally have done, simply because I was afraid I might get the dreaded illness. That night I begged God to help me overcome my debilitating phobia. That night I opened my Bible and found Psalm 91. I know it’s a common passage, but I want to share it with you anyway.

 

Psalm 91

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say[a] to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,
    my God, in whom I trust.”

For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler
    and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his pinions,
    and under his wings you will find refuge;
    his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.
You will not fear the terror of the night,
    nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
    nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.

A thousand may fall at your side,
    ten thousand at your right hand,
    but it will not come near you.
You will only look with your eyes
    and see the recompense of the wicked.

Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place—
    the Most High, who is my refuge[b]
10 no evil shall be allowed to befall you,
    no plague come near your tent.

11 For he will command his angels concerning you
    to guard you in all your ways.
12 On their hands they will bear you up,
    lest you strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the adder;
    the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot.

14 “Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him;
    I will protect him, because he knows my name.
15 When he calls to me, I will answer him;
    I will be with him in trouble;
    I will rescue him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
    and show him my salvation.”

I know what you’re thinking, this is going to be one of those incredible stories, where my fear completely disappeared in one night. But it’s not. I still fight with my anxiety. Each time my fear sneaks back in, I have to choose to trust God. In fact, it wasn’t until recently that I notice the wording in verses 9-10.

Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place—
    the Most High, who is my refuge[b]
10 no evil shall be allowed to befall you,
    no plague come near your tent.

At the beginning of these two verses it says the word because. Because you have trusted God to protect you, because you have chosen him as your refuge he will be your shield. Wait a second. That means I have to be willing to give my dread to God? That’s really hard. Why? Because I want to feel like I am in control. But reality is, I’m not. And I never will be. It doesn’t matter how much hand sanitizer I put on, it’s up to God whether or not I get sick. Besides, the Good Lord made the germs for a reason, and he’s more capable than I am of getting rid of them. I might always be somewhat scared of the stomach flu, but God has given me wonderful resources to help my win my war with worry. There are four things that have really helped me.

1. God’s word

Every time I’m afraid, God gives me new verse to focus on. One of my favorites is Isaiah 41:13:

For I, the Lord your God,
    hold your right hand;
it is I who say to you, “Fear not,
    I am the one who helps you.”

I love that verse! Who doesn’t want God to hold their hand? You’ve got to admit that’s pretty cool and comforting!

2. Prayer (You would probably laugh if you could hear some of the imploring I’ve done with God over the years. Sometimes it sounds kind of like this: “Please, please, pleeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaaaase don’t let us catch the flu!!!!!!”)

As for prayer, I’m not generally feeling very creative when I’m scared, so it kind of comes out something like this: “Help!” or “Dear God, Please don’t let me get the stomach flu!” That’s generally the gist of my prayers. But you know what? They work! I have only had the stomach flu a couple of times ever! I can’t actually remember what it feels like to throw up. (Perhaps that’s part of the problem.) God really does hear our prayers when we ask him for something, even when his answer is NO.

3. Lavender Oil (I know you were expecting something profound, but lavender oil is especially helpful for anxiety.)

Now, let’s touch on the lavender oil thing for a minute. I don’t want to sound like I’m selling something, because I’m not, but this stuff truly is wonderful! The DoTerra brand smells heavenly and is great for anxiety. It helps relax your body and makes you a little bit tired. Plus, it’s completely natural! (I’m homeschooled, so obviously that is very important.) All you have to do is put a little bit under your nose and inhale.

4. Music

Alright, on to the music. One day, my Dad felt like he might be getting sick with the you-know-what. My parents had just had it not three weeks earlier, and I was thinking, No, no, no!!! Not again! I just did this, God! Is this some kind of cruel game? I turned on the CD I had in my CD player, and a song came on (imagine that.), it was “Hold Me Jesus”  by Rich Mullins.

Hold Me Jesus

Well, sometimes my life
Just don’t make sense at all
When the mountains look so big
And my faith just seems so small

CHORUS:
So hold me Jesus, ’cause I’m shaking like a leaf
You have been King of my glory
Won’t You be my Prince of Peace

And I wake up in the night and feel the dark
It’s so hot inside my soul
I swear there must be blisters on my heart

CHORUS

Surrender don’t come natural to me
I’d rather fight You for something
I don’t really want
Than to take what You give that I need
And I’ve beat my head against so many walls
Now I’m falling down, I’m falling on my knees

And this Salvation Army band
Is playing this hymn
And Your grace rings out so deep
It makes my resistance seem so thin

CHORUS

You have been King of my glory
Won’t You be my Prince of Peace?

It occurred to me in that moment, that I needed to stop fighting God, and let him be my Prince of Peace. I needed to let him take control of my life, and stop worrying about the future.

Honestly, I hate writing these sort of blog post. In some ways they seem too personal and open. I’m sharing a bit of myself with you, and am making my self somewhat vulnerable. That’s not easy. I guess it’s probably a pride thing. But either way I decided to share this with you today. I hope it didn’t make you feel like I was just sharing my problems with the world. I wanted to write this, because I wanted to make the point that in our many fears, we should trust God, but not to be discouraged when our problems don’t immediately disappear. Even if you’re like me and you have a bit of phobophobia (fear of fear), he’ll help you overcome that fear as well. You can’t let your fears control and keep you from doing all the amazing things God has for your life. In the words of John Wayne: “Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway.”

~Ally

Curried Cauliflower Holiday Recipe

Day 19

This is another traditional dish for my family to have on the holidays that I like to make:

Curried Cauliflower

Ingredients:

2 heads of cauliflower (broken into flowerettes)

1 1/2 cans of cream of chicken soup

1 1/2 cups grated cheese

1 tbsp powdered chicken bouillon

1 1/2 tsp curry powder

Optional:

1/4 cup melted butter

1/3 cup bread cups

 

Directions: Cook the cauliflower. Mix cream of chicken soup, cheese, bouillon, and curry powder well in a bowl. Add cauliflower to the mixture and put it into a 9 x 13 greased pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. You can top the cauliflower with butter and bread crumbs, but I personally like it without them.  Serve and enjoy!

 

– Savy

 

 

Cookie Decorating

Day 17

Christmas is coming and it is about time to make cookies for Santa. Here are some decorating ideas I found:

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For the little people who just want to blob the frosting on. Easy and so cute.

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Come on, who wouldn’t love Snoopy cookies?

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These have my name written all over them. I highly doubt I could frost them that perfectly though!

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They are completely different, but both are great!

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Santa might just give you extra presents if you leave these cookies out for him.  🙂

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I like that everyone can write their name at the top.

I hope that these have given you some neat ideas. Have fun decorating!

– Savy

The Christmas Night

Day 13

Here is a pretty poem about the night Jesus was born by Lucy Maud Montgomery.

The Christmas Night

Wrapped was the world in slumber deep,
By seaward valley and cedarn steep,
And bright and blest were the dreams of its sleep;
All the hours of that wonderful night-tide through
The stars outblossomed in fields of blue,
A heavenly chaplet, to diadem
The King in the manger of Bethlehem.

Out on the hills the shepherds lay,
Wakeful, that never a lamb might stray,
Humble and clean of heart were they;
Thus it was given them to hear
Marvellous harpings strange and clear,
Thus it was given them to see
The heralds of the nativity.

In the dim-lit stable the mother mild
Looked with holy eyes on her child,
Cradled him close to her heart and smiled;
Kingly purple nor crown had he,
Never a trapping of royalty;
But Mary saw that the baby’s head
With a slender nimbus was garlanded.

Speechless her joy as she watched him there,
Forgetful of pain and grief and care,
And every thought in her soul was a prayer;
While under the dome of the desert sky
The Kings of the East from afar drew nigh,
And the great white star that was guide to them
Kept ward o’er the manger of Bethlehem.

Lucy Maud Montgomery

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– Savy

Grinch Gruel

Day 11

Hello Everyone! Here is a super simple and delicious dish that is a tradition for my family to have on holidays. It is normally called Pear-Lime Jello, but that’s boring, so I am going to call it Grinch Gruel.

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I am going to be honest and say that I didn’t actually take this picture, but this is what it should end up looking like. Anyway, here is the recipe:

Grinch Gruel

Ingredients:

.1 package of lime jello

.4 ounces of cream cheese

.1 can of pears

Mix together 2 cups of boiling water and jello mix until dissolved. Then put the jello, pears and cream cheese in a blender and blend until smooth. Then put the mixture in a dish and refrigerate like directed on the jello package. Enjoy!

– Savy

Christmas Book Review!

Day 6!

“Somehow, in the weakness of a baby born in a lowly stable, the power of the almighty had come to earth. It was a mystery that would occupy my mind on many nights as I nursed God’s Son and kissed his tiny face.” That was quote from one of my favorite Christmas books, “A Bethlehem Christmas” by Charles Swindoll. I read this book every year, and would highly recommend to anyone looking for a good Christmas story to curl up with! The book tells the story of Jesus’s birth and the events that led up to the monumental moment when Christ entered the world as a human. “A Bethlehem Christmas” is divided into three parts, and is told from three different perspectives. The first part is the Christmas story told from Mary’s perspective. She tells us of the fear and joy she felt when the angel announced that she was going to be the mother of the long awaited Messiah. She describes her wonder at holding the savior of the world in her arms. The second part is the story told from Joseph’s viewpoint. His horror at discovering Mary’s pregnancy; his internal battle between justice and mercy. His joy over the angels visit, and his deep, unrelenting faith in God’s plan for mankind. The third part is Gabriel telling the story. This is perhaps the most interesting part of the story, as he describes his conversation with God, and his confusion over God’s unexpected plan. He marvels over God’s love and grace for a sinful world. This book is a wonderful book to read out loud as a family! It is clear the author gave the story careful thought. It is very biblically based, and while there are few added details, it does not change the Bible at all. It brings Jesus’s birth alive for the reader, and makes you feel as if you are there watching the events play out. I would suggest this book to anyone looking for a relaxing, but meaningful book! ~Ally