I’m an Extension Cord

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This post adapted from a workshop I gave as part of BJU’s Global Opportunities Week on Thursday, October 6, 2016.


I’m an extension cord.

Now, I admit – that’s not a terribly flattering thing to be compared to. I guess it depends on the extension cord, but most of the ones I know are some hideously ugly color (bright orange – really?) and are notoriously stubborn to untangle and finagle where you want them.

But I really do long to be an extension cord. In fact, it’s my life mission!

Extension cords are all about connection.

They connect something that needs power – say a lamp – to something that has all the power it needs – the electrical socket.

When you plug an extension cord into a lamp across the room and turn on the light, are you shocked that it works (pun intended)? Do you marvel at the power of the extension cord to transport all that power? Do you pat it on the back and congratulate it for being so awesome?

Not likely. Now, you may marvel at the beautiful Christmas lights that blink on when the extension cord is plugged in. But you never step back and marvel at that ugly orange cord running from the lights to the socket.

I am that ugly orange extension cord.

Christ is the electricity in the socket. He has all the power this world ever needs. He is the Sovereign Maker of the Universe – He is Omnipotent – He is God (oh and I’m not). What this world needs is more God and less me.

And so I want to be one way in which the world gets more of my awesome God.

There are many dark lamps in the world who cannot shine. They have no power and no way to get it. I want to come along and connect them to the power source that can transform them from “darkness to marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9).

Just like the extension cord, no credit will go to me because none of the power comes from me. I’m simply connected to the power. And I simply want to share it.

My life mission is to be so connected to Christ that all who connect with me are connected to Christ.

This includes what I do on digital media – the point of this blog. When people add me on Facebook, I want to be so connected to Christ that in a sense, they’ve just added Him to their news feed. I want to be so deep in His power that when people meet me, they immediately sense the power of Christ flowing from me.

All I want to be a connector. I may be an ugly color and a bit hard to work with at times. But by God’s grace, I want to connect as many dark lamps to Him as I can – and watch His power light them up in marvelous transformation!

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Facebook and Flamethrowers

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My Mom (bless her heart) used to always yell something up to me when I was a teenager, locked in my room for hours on end, spending the summer staring at the sacred screen.

“Matthew! Two letters – T.W.!!”

TW is my Mom’s hipster lingo for “Time-Waster.”

She meant things like Facebook, Twitter, news sites, random and pointless research on the inerrant Wikipedia, the occasional computer game, or any other digital media that I worshiped at the keyboard altar.

Technology is awesome. But technology can be killer. It can waste your life. It can rot your life.

Porn. Arranging hook-ups online. Viewing garbage on social media. Pumping ego on your post. Demonizing people with every tweet. Creating enemies or shallow relationships.

I love digital media. But its a beast to be tamed, though it often looks like a kitty-cat. And Satan can often use it as his mighty steed to blaze into our hearts and try to knock the King out.

How do we fight against him? How do we stop the digital rot?

Thank goodness, it’s not by moving to Amish country.

The way to conquer TWs is to focus on one other letter – F.

Filter

There’s no way around this. Let me be abundantly clear – a filter is a necessity in our modern world. If you desire to raise a godly family or be a godly person, you MUST have a filter on every computer and smart phone and tablet in your house or in your possession.

You may think your children would never have a problem with it, but why take the risk? You may think you’re strong enough, but we’re talking about your very soul in danger! You may think filters are inconvenient, but we’ve gotta remember that Christ has not called us to comfort. He called us to be willing to even cut off our hand to destroy sin.

It’s simply not worth the risk.

The two filters I’ve used are K9 Web Protection – which is free! – and Covenant Eyes, which is a little better, but costs. Either work well for stopping access to immorality. Or they can even be used to stop access to fine sites that you spend too much time on – you can take a Facebook fast by blocking it in your filter or take a break from negative news by blocking all news sites.

Friend

The Bible has a lot to say about accountability and transparency. “Confess your faults to one another,” says James. Each one of us should have a friend OUTSIDE our family that we can be accountable to. I’ve been blessed to have several of these in my life. I text them throughout the week, asking how they are doing. And they text me at random times, checking up on how I am doing. We can be honest with each other, because we’ve built a relationship of love, respect, and honesty.

There are few greater blessings in life than a friend that you can be honest with. Especially in your use of digital tech. Even better, you can put them as your accountability partner on your filter (Covenant Eyes does this well) and they’ll get an email from your filter if you view something inappropriate.

Use fire to fight fire. Use good technology to fight against bad uses of technology. Speaking of fire…

Flamethrower

I just had to have a third “f,” okay?

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Sometimes you just have to get rid of stuff!

Jesus says that if our eye offends us, pluck it out! Perhaps a modern adaption might say that if our iPad offends us – smash it! If our Facebook causes us to sin incessantly, DELETE IT with all the passion you can muster!

There will be casualties in our fight against sin – either you or the form of technology that causes you to sin. Choose to fight. Choose to war.

Choose to win.

Or choose to spend your time on TWs. Choose to rot your soul.

It’s up to you.

Lessons from Long-Distance Love

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I’m not going to lie – dating long-distance really stinks.

But huzzah! As of a few hours ago, I have now been freed from the shackles of long-distance love as my bride-to-be rode in on her mighty Volkswagen Passat to save me, the man in distress.

Now, she’s sitting behind me – and how good it feels to have feet, not hundreds of miles, in between us. Actually quite literally feet. For some reason she thinks I’m a footstool.

Fifteen Months on the Phone

We’ve learned a lot from these fifteen months of long-distance. We’ve learned to appreciate the moments we have together, to find our satisfaction in God and not the other person, and to cherish each little moment.

Most of those little moments happened on our daily phone conversations.

I feel very blessed to live in the Age of Technology where my fiance was only a phone call away at any moment (if she’d actually pick up!). We prioritized setting aside time each day for a twenty to forty minute conversation.

We had busy lives. She ruled the kingdom of K5 with an iron fist while I dwelled in the land of sorrowful studying (actually, I’m still there!). But we knew the importance of communication in relationships. And looking back, I can count on one hand the number of days we didn’t talk – besides the times I was out of the country.

I cannot stress enough the importance of this for a relationship. And the wonderful technology of an iPhone (or her dumb Droid) made all this possible. And for that I am truly grateful, Mr. Jobs.

A Blessing – Not the Best

Technology, however, can never replace face-to-face interaction.

I’m not a big fan of phone conversations. And actually, I’m not even that much of a texter. But I am a people-lover – most especially a Carissa-lover (I’m president of her fan club!). I like to be able to see the person I’m talking to.

And no matter how much it advances, technology can never replace that feeling.

Virtual hugs are just not the same. And even Skype can’t take the place of the joy I feel looking at her – in person.

So by all means, if you have to be long-distance, use technology to keep in contact. Relationships are built on communication, and media has made that easy. You have no excuse not to talk. It must be a priority – no matter how busy.

But don’t ever think that a text conversation can replace a coffee shop conversation. A phone call is not the same as taking a walk together.

You can survive long-distance – we did. And we are stronger for it! But we survived it by cherishing the time we spent face-to-face. And the time when that wasn’t possible, we cherished the phone conversations. Even when we didn’t feel like it. Even when we were tired and the day was long.

I picked up my iPhone and hit “Carijo” with the red heart each day not to replace seeing her in person. But to give me the little bit of Carissa I needed until that was possible.

Technology is a great supplement. But it makes a poor replacement.

-M@

The Age of Technology

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(Note: this post is adapted from a sermon I preached at Calvary Baptist Sunday night on 8/7/16. You can listen to it here.)

This is the Age of Technology. It’s everywhere. You can’t escape it – so don’t bother trying. Even in Amish country, there is technology – trust me, I talked to an Amish boy on the cell phone once (long story involving my crazy Nana, a bus full of senior saints, and the blaring ringtone of “Oh when the saints go marching in”).

The God of Technology

Even as technology has changed much here on earth, nothing much has actually changed in Heaven. We may say technology is everywhere, but in actuality, God is everywhere. He is not outflanked by the latest app. He is not caught off-guard by a breakthrough virtual reality headset.

He is God. End of story.

And that means He has the right to say what we do with all these new-fangled tech toys.

There is not a single thing in this world that His reign doesn’t extend over. He wants control of every area of our life. We can’t put Him in the Sunday box. Or even the morning devotions box. He wants all our days and all our gadgets. So we better to listen to Him when He speaks about technology!

But does He have anything to say? A search on your Bible app for “Facebook” will yield no results. But that means nothing – Biblical principles apply to everything. And here’s a very important one from 1 Peter 2:9:

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

The Bible’s To-Do List

This verse gives both our identity and our purpose. We are a different people who are called to proclaim a different God – an excellent, unimaginable God. That’s our life mission.

Throughout this incredible book, Peter goes on to describe just what it looks like to proclaim God. A couple verses later, he will call us to keep our conduct “honorable” in front of the unsaved so they will be drawn to the Savior by our “good works” (vs. 12). Let’s call this evangelization. A few verses down, he calls us to “love the brotherhood” (vs. 17). Let’s call that edification. Lastly, he calls us to “abstain from fleshly lusts” (vs. 11). This is the process of sanctification.

This is our to-do list – every day we wake up to accomplish these three things. What believer can I build up today? What unbeliever can I tell Jesus to? How can I engage in the process of sanctification in my own personal life?

These three things provide the framework for our entire lives – our work, our family time, our politics, and yes, even our technology.

So let’s put our tech gadgets into this framework – how will my digital technology help or hurt evangelization, edification, and sanctification in my life? Because it will always do both – there will always be a plus and a minus for every device.

Make a Chart

I encourage you to set this up like a chart. Put your tech devices or digital media – iPhone, Facebook, Instagram, video games, movies, etc. – down the left side. Put your categories on top – evangelization, edification, and sanctification. Then for each box, write the negatives and positives for accomplishing that mission with that piece of technology.

Let me demonstrate with my chart:

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So examine the plus and minus for each tech in each category and think: “Do the negatives outweigh the positives?”

For example, I determined the negatives overcame the positives with my use of Instagram – at least my personal account. It was too easy to get access to sin. So I deleted it – completely. With no plans to ever return!

But with Snapchat, I determined the positives were great enough, but it was too much of a waste of time at the moment. So I temporarily deleted the app (sorry to those who snap me!). Eventually, I’ll return.

Facebook has so many positives for me as I build relationships internationally for the Gospel and locally for edification. So I don’t think I’ll ever get rid of that. And it doesn’t really draw me to sin.

But maybe it does for you! That’s the thing – this is a person-by-person thing. My sin struggle is not yours. You decide for yourself – make your own chart.

Open Hands

The key is to hold everything – all technology – with an open hand. At one point, Instagram was fine for me. But down the road, it became a stumbling spot for me. I tried to rationalize it. Tried to make excuses. But I knew my heart and saw what I did with it. So eventually I had to release my grip on it – and let God pluck it out of my open hand.

Release your grip on your iPhone or controller or social media profile. Give it to God.

He’s God. He called us out of darkness – where we had no hope – to His jaw-dropping amazing light. Remember that. The God who did that deserves your life. The God who saved you out of darkness doesn’t want you to return to it. Especially through technology.

Perhaps a good thing to put on the background of all our devices is a little Latin phrase from the Reformation – and from 1 Peter 2:9.

Ex tenebras lux. 

Out of darkness, light.

-M@