A couple of weeks ago the head pastor of my church (my boss) sent me an email with some examples and ideas of how to improve the ministry here at REACH Philadelphia, specifically in regards to the importance and use of media. Deanne and I have been heavily immersed in media, computers and phones from grade school and I have often thought of it as just a distraction from real life. Spending countless hours watching cartoons after class, on with the wireless home phone talking to cute classmates, typing away in IM chat rooms, Myspace, Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, etc. waaay too much! I know I would be shocked if some angelic messenger were to reveal to me the record of how many hours I've spent with my eyes on screens and the influence it's had on me. I don't expect any such visit, especially because the Snell family has really been seeking to make major cuts in that area. What's surprising is the message God has been trying to convey to me in regards media…use it! Sure there is a lot of stuff out there that distracts to the detriment of a healthy life, BUT that is exactly why I should be sharing the new mercies God gives me day by day. The internet is just like a tool in the hands of a builder or an instrument played by a musician, the user's purpose determines their product.
Check out a couple of the videos Pastor Tara sent me and think of the implications they have for your life and impact on the world. Though this first video is short and sweet. The second is an hour, it really is worth your time...one of the most engaging presentations I've ever seen!
Initially after watching Dr. Martin's techy seminar I was uncomfortable with a few of the videos and subconsciously wondered if they were all worthy of the gospel, as the song about "skin-tight jeans" and "teenage fantasy" went around and around in my head for days. That's not the point. At first I missed his powerful point. He was simply sharing videos that were really popular for whatever reason and showing that the web is a great place where people share their lives. It is an opportunity for Christians to speedily spread the gospel of the kingdom, to exude Jesus' influence of life and love in a context where viewers are more receptive. The internet is where people are and thus it is where we should go.
At the beginning of this past Sunday I still hadn't gotten it, but Jesus helped me to get it as I was taking a mini spiritual retreat. I was just walking around in the Pennypack Park praying and reading Patriarchs and Prophets and the Bible. I read about Noah preaching God's message of repentance before the world was destroyed with a flood. That connected me with Paul's 2nd letter to Timothy about how people will be at the end of the world before Jesus' return to take His friends home and another Noah-esk earth cleansing (not with water but the brightness of Jesus glory).
"People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—having a form of godliness but denying its power…always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth." 2 Timothy 3:2-5,7 (NIV)
We see so much of this on the internet. People have an insatiable appetite for knowledge.
"But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." 2 Timothy 3:14-17 (NIV)
We are called to be different, to learn the truth from the Scriptures that sets men free.
"In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction." 2 Timothy 4:1-2 (NIV)
These passages led me to my main takeaways from my time with God. I'm called to be the opposite of the people listed in the first passage. I find that life in studying the Bible. Finally, I am charged to share that message with others.
I left the retreat with a head full of ideas of how to "Preach the Word," on the internet and started sharing them as soon as I got home. Now here I am, sharing my experience. I pray it's just one of many more to come.
As a young pastor I have longed to have more preaching appointments. The process of preparing a message and sharing it probably impacts me more than anyone who hears it. I think it helps me to "come to a knowledge of the truth." I don't need to long for those opportunities anymore. My eyes have been opened. With my computer in hand, I can share messages and have an audience at basically anytime. So can you. As Christians living in the presence of the only One whose judgments matter, we are all charged to share Jesus with whoever will listen to us. Those who listen to you may not listen to me and vice versa.
My wife and I have had this Snellections blog sitting around for a couple of years now and it has been fun to write from time to time. It's been interesting to see that people from around the world have read our posts. But it isn't about having a massive online audience in every country. We must share what we've been given with those who will listen. God has been repeatedly impressing this urge on our hearts recently. This is a step forward.
I pray that after hearing a bit of my process you will go on from this blog to disperse the blessings you receive in your daily life within your spheres of influence, and that the ripple effect will continue. There are people who will read, watch, and listen to what you put up simply because you are you and they care about you. My mom faithfully likes the pictures I put on Facebook of my daughter because she is my mom. If you have a child, I doubt my mom will be as faithful to look at your pictures as she is to look at mine regardless of how cute your kid is. There may be people you have relationships with who will follow you just because they care for you and are interested in you. Use that opportunity to point them to Jesus.
I pray that your posts will be a benefit to many, but I know for sure that it will be a blessing to you. If God calls you to it, He'll bless you through it.
This definitely doesn't replace sharing the gospel with people God brings your way in person. It is simply giving another part of our lives over to God's masterful control. I hope you find that in giving over this area of your life you are brought closer to giving Him the wholeness of it.
If you aren't up to writing and posting your personal thoughts online yet, at least pass along your findings online that you think could really make a difference for someone else. We are so quick to share the amusing. May we run to share the Amazing One.
Maybe you could see yourself doing what Vincent did in the video above. Whatever it is, I hope you'll respond to God's leading in your life, because He's the only one to get you and your loved ones where you want to go. Spread the Word.
P.S.If you don't see many more posts from me in the near future, pray for me and feel free write to me to remind me of this calling. Also, if you feel this is something God has in store for you, let me know…just for my curiosity and so I can potentially be part of your process.