Christian Social Media Usage

Like much dialog on the internet, Christians discussants dive for the jugular far too often. Being in a discussion means you listen then talk — just like in the real world! Far too many people treat social networks as a place for monotonous monologue. That’s what blogs are for. Welcome to mine.

(cue monologue)

I love being involved in robust discussion and often encounter online bullies and those hurt by them. As a primary school chaplain by day, I can’t help pulling out my resilience flashcards when I get online. Treating each-other with kindness lets everyone have more fun on the playground! Social environments involve a personal commitment to caring for others not just yourself.

As a Christian it should be our personal mission to treat others as Jesus would treat them. Pull out all the grace stops! Let them have a full dose of God’s love and mercy. That should keep you constrained while sharing your views.

But, as we all know, there are many people who do not play by these rules online. They are mean spirited and unChristlike. Here are some tips to keep you resilient in the face of the verbal onslaught.

Don’t take the haters too seriously. Using mean or dismissive language is often a sign that a person is not as resilient as they could be and have reached their emotional limit (or theological limit, as the case may be) and are thus no longer able to take the argument further. To side step, they poo-poo the thought or belittle the opponent. My advice: See this as a weakness in their character, not yours.

Emotional: John Calvin loved the work of church father John Chrysostom, yet struggled mightily with some of what his namesake had to say. He wanted it to fit into current (at Calvin’s time!) theological thought development. In his struggles he occasionally decided to painfully discard the exegetical tradition of Chrysostom but held on to much of his practical teaching and application. That’s how a scholar works. A Scholar only butchers and bags another scholar when he has reached the end of his rope!

Theological: Scrawled in every poor preachers mental margin is this note: “Weak point — POUND PULPIT!!” One of the hardest things to say, for those of us who know everything, is: “I don’t know.” We’d rather yell our view and pound on the nearest flat surface than admit we have some thinking to do.

Resilience: This is where mature Christian emotion and theology take us when a topic exasperates or exceeds us. Resilience says, “I’m OK in who I am and who you are. I can change myself if needed and I don’t need to change you to feel safe.”

Resilience in myself: I know who I am in Christ. He saved me while I was a hopeless sinner. He loved me before I knew anything. Knowing Him and His view of me gives me strength.

Resilient view of others: I know every person I meet was created in the Image of God. As they fix their eyes on Him they become like Him. By beholding we are changed. Knowing that all of us are on the continuum between Self and God gives me grace enough for myself and others.

Be of good cheer, you are among friends! We are all growing.

Keep changing the world,

Dave

The Children of Kenya

On Christmas Day at 10pm I will be sitting aboard an Emirates flight on my way to Kenya. Africa has long been on my bucket list but never did I think it would be an adventure like this that would take me there.

I met Carole and Leon Platt years ago – at two different Adventist Camps. Carol and I had a chat in Queensland at the SQLD camp when I was up there telling stories to the Junior kids. Leon and I met briefly in South Australia when I was there telling stories to the Primary kids. Little did I know that years later our paths would cross again when our shared interest in God’s children collided. This time in Africa.

That is, the children are in Africa. Leon and Carole have fallen deeply in love with the children of Kenya. They have been back and forth many times and made dear friends with two Kenyan couples who look after children, many of whom are orphans.

In January 2016, due to the global village of FaceBook, Carole and I began chatting. First she wanted to know contact details for my Dad as he has long volunteered with International Children’s Care and she wanted to pick his brain. Then she told me about her interest in Kenya and her passion for the children there.

She began pouring stories into my heart through her keyboard. Story after story of children being looked after by Joseph and Nestor – two men looking after children – in different areas of Kenya. Joseph, a country man, lives in a Masai village. Nestor, a city man, lives in the centre of Eldoret. Both men have been called by God to rescue and care for children. It sounds like the beginning of a great story, doesn’t it?

“Once there were two men – a city man and a country man – who both loved God’s children very much…”

Carole told me stories of children rescued by Joseph and Nestor. Some from homelessness and drug-addiction on the garbage dump. Some from sex slavery. Some orphans and some with parents who were unable or unwilling to care for them. All in need of a safe place, education and love.

The number of children helped grows each year as these two deeply Christ-centred Adventist men search, rescue, feed, educate and love God’s Children in Kenya. All made possible by the belief and  support of Carole, Leon and their fundraising expertise.

After telling me she organises trips for volunteers to Kenya to see and help the children, Carole said, “You’d be great, David!”

“What would I do?” I asked. I’m not much good with my hands – except on a qwerty keyboard.

“Tell stories!” Carole said. “Most of these children have not heard about Jesus or the Bible. You could tell them stories. Do what you do so well!”

“But, English? I don’t speak their language.”

“Some speak english,” Carole said. “The rest are very comfortable listening to a  translator. We use them all the time.”

And that is where my upcoming adventure began – nearly 12 months ago. Just an idea and an invitation.

Now, we have a solid plan. I will tell Bible stories to the children in both places. And I will listen to their stories. I will learn the stories of Joseph and Nestor – the country man and the city man – and I will take copious notes.

While there, I will blog about it, pictures included! Then when I come home, I will write a book. A travel journal of sorts. A compendium of stories. A testimonial treasure trove. And, hopefully, people will hear the desperate cries of the children of Kenya.

To learn more and become involved:
http://educationcareprojects.com/

Our Reformation Roots

There's a lot of talk about the protestant reformation in Christian circles right now. And rightly so, we're just one year from the 500th anniversary of its beginning. That's fine and good, unless you are an Adventist claiming it as your heritage. 

The reformation was, as you can imagine, a slow ball to get rolling. As Protestantism formed, another group took shape in reaction to the direction it was heading.

This new group, forming less than five years into the reformation, stood apart from both Catholicism and Protestantism. This group believed in baptism by immersion. They believed in believers’ baptism not infant baptism. They believed in Jesus' return prior to the Millennium. They believed in a faith without creed which allowed a man to follow the Word as it pulled on his heart. They believed church and state should be separate. 

These people were neither Catholic nor Protestant but Anabaptist. And it is from the Anabaptist people we Adventists emerged, in time.

Learn More:

Here is a very insightful Christianity today article telling the story of the beginning of the Anabaptist movement.

You can learn more about our Anabaptist forbearers from this website as well as many others. Do some research and find yourself in history!

Dave Edgren ~ Story: Teller, Author, Trainer ~

BOOK DAVE NOW! Dave Edgren is passionate about creating a values-based storytelling culture. In his engaging and often hilarious way,...