Social Media and the Word of the Lord

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Social Media and the Word of the Lord’

© January 6, 2019, by Steve Mickelson

blcf bulletin january 6, 2019

Based on a Message Shared at BLCF on October 2, 2016

blcf-bulletin-october-2-2016

Announcements & Call to Worship of Prayer; Prayer

Opening Hymn #392: Take Time to Be Holy

Tithing and Prayer Requests: Hymn #572: Praise God; Prayers                                                     

Responsive Reading #651 (The Holy Scriptures – 2 Peter 1, 2 Timothy 3, Hebrews 4, Romans 15, Psalm 119, Isaiah 40)

Message by Steve Mickelson: ‘Social Media and the Word of the Lord’

Let us pray…

Welcome to BLCF Church’s Sunday Worship and Praise Service. As today is the first Sunday of October, we will be observing Communion. There is no requirement that you must be a member of BLCF in order to receive the elements of Communion.

To receive Communion, participants must be a member of the body known as Christ’s Church. This membership means that Jesus is your Lord and Savior, having  confessed to Him that you are a sinner;  and that Jesus died on the cross to pay for our sins, was raised from the dead, ascended to heaven, sent God’s Holy Spirit as companion to all believers until the day He returns to judge all.

Our lesson today, entitled: Social Media and the Word of the Lord, we will examine some aspects of what we commonly refer to as social media. Social media today may include Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Snapchat, Instagram, any other media methodology that permits the user to communicate with others in real time.

Dennis Moles, author of the booklet: Being Jesus Online,  Biblical Wisdom for a Wired World, published as part of Our Daily Bread Ministries’ Discover Series, attempted to answer the rhetorical questions:

“What would Jesus tweet? Would He have social media accounts? And if He did, what would He say and share? How would He relate to his ‘friends’ and “followers” and to those who disagreed with Him?”

Mr. Moles seemed to apply the old standard questions Christians are encouraged to apply to their conversations with others: “What would Jesus Say?”  Or “What would Jesus do?” with respect to the content of what we express on social media conversations and postings. Moles basically indicated that we should conduct our social media conversations and postings under the same guidelines as how we would personally interact with other people, by asking whether what is posted demonstrated a love for God and a love for our neighbor, which is also known as Jesus’ Great Commandment, described in Matthew 22:36-40, where the Ten Commandments or Laws that God gave to Moses may be considered as expressions of love and honor to either God or your neighbor:

Matthew 22:36-40 (ESV):

 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

Dennis Moles indicated that anything we post on social media should be scrutinized to ensure that will not fail to demonstrate love to God and love to our neighbor. If it fails scrutiny, then it should not be posted.

With all due respect to Mr. Moles’ message, I chose to examine the questions,

“What would Jesus tweet? Would He have social media accounts? And if He did, what would He say and share? How would He relate to his ‘friends’ and “followers” and to those who disagreed with Him?” when applied to believers in the Resurrected Christ, sharing Jesus’s Great Commission of sharing the Lord’s Gospel unto the ends of the earth, as well as any other Scripture account.

My consideration is based more on the issues and limitations of the form of social media, than the content focus of Mr. Moles.

To examine an example of the form limitation, let us look at Twitter which has a size restriction on the Tweets or messages of a maximum of 140 characters.

In my recent Sunday lesson lesson, ‘David Over Goliath: A Victory of Faith’, I used the first 54 Verses from 1 Samuel 17 to present the argument that David’s victory over Goliath happened because of the shared faith by both Saul and David, that God would accompany David to provide the victory, in the same way, He enabled David to succeed against the bear and lion. Imagine trying to express this Scripture passage in 140 characters or less. For that matter, imagine trying to condense all the lessons of the Bible, each one restricted to the limitations of a Tweet and make it comprehensible.

If it were possible, God would have chosen to inspire the Scriptures as such short segments. This would be like considering a movie preview tells the same story of the entire film or that a brief snippet from a speech expresses everything spoken in a one-hour speech.

The dramatic editing of a movie or speech results in a tremendous loss of intended message. In the same manner, shortening God’s Word not only changes the Scriptures meaning, but it also dishonors God by not conveying the complete message that the Lord intended to be expressed.

To understand the importance of keeping God’s Word unchanged and not abbreviated, let us look at Isaiah 40:1-8 (ESV):

           Comfort for God’s People

40 Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and cry to her
that her warfare[
a] is ended,
that her iniquity is pardoned,
that she has received from the Lord’s hand
double for all her sins.

A voice cries:[b]
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord;
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be lifted up,
and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
and the rough places a plain.
And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
and all flesh shall see it together,
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

The Word of God Stands Forever

A voice says, “Cry!”
And I said,[
c] “What shall I cry?”
All flesh is grass,
and all its beauty[
d] is like the flower of the field.
The grass withers, the flower fades
when the breath of the Lord blows on it;
surely the people are grass.
The grass withers, the flower fades,
but the word of our God will stand forever.

Footnotes: a. Isaiah 40:2 Or hardship b. Isaiah 40:3 Or A voice of one crying  c. Isaiah 40:6 Revocalization based on Dead Sea Scroll, Septuagint, Vulgate; Masoretic TextAnd someone says d. Isaiah 40:6 Or all its constancy

Not only would a 280 let alone a 140 character Tweet fail to express this thought, but Twitter has also placed other restrictions on what we may Tweet.

If, for example, I decided to Tweet the same message: “Jesus Saves” to ten or more recipients, Twitter would intervene and warn that my Twitter messages, being worded the same, exhibit behavior that Twitter considers SPAM-like in nature. If I continued sending identical messages, I risk suspension or cancellation of my Twitter account.

If I chose to randomly send 140 character Tweets out from my account, there is little likelihood that it would be read at all. I could choose to Tweet out a message containing a link to a site containing a sermon or longer message, but with the same unlikelihood of successfully being read, just like a futile “voice in the wilderness.”

Speaking of voices in the wilderness, Twitters cannot completely convey the words, beliefs, and actions of either John the Baptist or Jesus, as described in John 1:19-34 (ESV):

 The Testimony of John the Baptist

 19 And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” 20 He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.” 21 And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” And he answered, “No.” 22 So they said to him, “Who are you? We need to give an answer to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” 23 He said, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight[a] the way of the Lord,’ as the prophet Isaiah said.”

24 (Now they had been sent from the Pharisees.) 25 They asked him, “Then why are you baptizing, if you are neither the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?” 26 John answered them, “I baptize with water, but among you stands one you do not know, 27 even he who comes after me, the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.” 28 These things took place in Bethany across the Jordan, where John was baptizing.

Behold, the Lamb of God

29 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.” 32 And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. 33 I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son[b] of God.”

Footnotes: a. John 1:23 Or crying out, ‘In the wilderness make straight b. John 1:34 Some manuscripts the Chosen One

Even Facebook viewers of the above Scripture passage would not be inclined to read the above passage, because it far exceeds the length of the average post. And if I randomly messaged strangers by Twitter or Facebook messages, the recipients could complain to the respective administrators about receiving unsolicited SPAM-like messages and result in having the respective Twitter and Facebook accounts closed down.

To unbelievers, my social media, messages of the Word of God is nothing more than folly and foolishness, as we see in 1 Corinthians 1:17-25 (ESV):

 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

Christ the Wisdom and Power of God

18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written,

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”

20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach[a] to save those who believe. 22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom,23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

Footnotes: a. 1 Corinthians 1:21 Or the folly of preaching

Social media fails by rules that limit the length, content, and content filters applied the messages. A personal one-on-one dialog would have a better chance of successfully sharing even the most simple of ideas found in the Bible.

Social media, such as Twitter or Facebook, is useful for “preaching to the choir” or sharing short messages or links to longer messages with other believers.

Now BLOGs, which are vehicles of larger more complex content, are more capable of sharing such content on the web.

I post my weekly sermons, along with illustrations and Scripture passages to a World-Wide readership averaging 30-50 readers each and every day. Because I can post key tag words and phrases, such topics, titles, characters, and Scripture verses, anyone using a search engine will hit upon those key-words and bring the searcher to the BLOG. You will note that a searcher may or may not be a believer. They only require an interest in finding out more about the word, phrase or topic they chose to “Google”.

On many occasions, we have had visitors to our BLOGs communicate questions or comments about a sermon posted online. Some of our readers and visitors have come by on a Sunday morning to participate in the service.

While social media may help introduce people to the Gospel and the Word of God, it is the personal conversation and interaction that allows them to perceive God’s Holy Spirit, the true power that convicts people to believe in the truth of God’s Word and the Gospel of Jesus, which leads to a Christian faith conversion.

Let us pray…

Communion Observance (Responsive reading #663 – 1 Corinthians 11)

Closing Hymn #265: I’ve a Message from the Lord

Benediction – (Colossians 3:16-17):

 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

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Brrr… Extreme Cold in the Heart of Toronto to Start 2019

Brrr… Extreme Cold in the Heart of Toronto

January 2019 marks the eleventh anniversary of BLCF hosting a community dinner, serving the homeless and marginalized in the heart of Toronto at the BLCF Cafe.

 

And with the advent of bitterly cold weather, Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship is asking for donations of socks, gloves, scarves, and toques for our homeless and marginalized guests in the heart of Toronto at the BLCF Cafe Community Dinner.

 

Donations may be brought to the BLCF Cafe Community Dinner, (Wednesdays between 6 and 8 PM). To arrange delivery at a different time, contact Sophie by email: blcfcafe@yahoo.ca or call BLCF at 416-535-9578.

 

Not a bread line, food bank or soup kitchen, BLCF Café has been serving wholesome dinners to upwards of 150 of Toronto’s homeless every Wednesday evening since January 2008. Individual and groups of volunteers are welcome.

 

BLCF Cafe/BLCF Church, 1307 Bloor Street West, one block west of Lansdowne Avenue. Help bring some warmth to those in need.

 

Jesus – The Anticipated and Unexpected Gift from God

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Jesus: The Anticipated and Unexpected Gift from God’

© December 30, 2018, by Steve Mickelson

blcf bulletin december 30, 2018

Announcements & Call to Worship; Prayer                                                           

Opening Hymn # 115: Go Tell It on the Mountain

Tithing and Prayer Requests: Hymn #572: Praise God; Prayers               

Responsive Reading #615: Adoration of the Magi (Matthew 2)

Message by Steve Mickelson: ‘Jesus: The Anticipated and Unexpected Gift from God’

 Let us pray…

Welcome to Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church’s Sunday Praise and Worship Service for the last Sunday of 2019. Next Sunday, we will herald in the new year 2010 and with it a new decade.

As often happens towards the end of a year, we reflect upon the past year and anticipate what the future year may bring us. Looking back over these events, it is not unusual to reflect on both the joys and challenges of the previous year but to contrast them with those of previous years.

Last week, believers in the Resurrected Christ, celebrated the birth of our Lord on what we might consider that first Christmas Day, some 2,000 years ago. Though the birth of Jesus was not marked by a mass per se, visitors did come to the Lord’s birthplace to worship the Christ Child, some bringing gifts to celebrate the newborn King of kings.

And annually, the birthday of Jesus is celebrated with worship, song, visitation and sharing gifts and fellowship with others. At BLCF, we celebrate Christmas both on Sunday and Wednesday.

Looking back on past Christmases, I recalled one particular Christmas that resonates with our lesson today, ‘Jesus: The Anticipated and Unexpected Gift from God.’

It was Christmas 1959. I was just eight years old. I remember for the Mickelson family living in San Antonio, Texas celebrating Christmas had its challenges. My younger sister, Rhona had suffered a traumatic spinal injury two years previously leaving her paralyzed from the waist down and confined to a wheelchair. Though dad had a job in the US Air Force, stationed at a local base, many of the medical treatments and medications for Rhona were neither covered nor available to military dependents. The costs to the family meant that there were not a lot of surplus funds in the family budget to pay for decorations or gifts at Christmas. Still, the family made due.

To help pay the bills, Dad took additional work after his daytime job, working as a public information officer with the Air Force during the day, he would work delivering newspapers and as a journalist by night. Somehow, dad managed to get by with little sleep or no sleep for six days of the week.

When Christmas Eve came around, our mom and dad would go to the local farmer’s market late in the evening, just as the stalls selling Christmas trees were closing on. Mom would negotiate the best price on a tree, which had little or no value as it would otherwise be destined to go to the dumpster at the closing time.

This is when it seemed like some Christmas magic would take place in the Mickelson home. My sisters and I would have gone to bed, and my parents would get to work decorating the tree with lights, ornaments, and popcorn on a string. Stocking would be hung, filled with mandarin oranges, apples, new socks, and some candy canes or chocolates.

Since we had financial constraints, mom initiated a Secret Santa gift exchange. Sometime in early December, family members would put their name on a piece of paper, which would be folded and placed in a bowl. We would each draw a name from the bowl, selecting whom we would buy a gift as a Secret Santa. Mom had saved up for the entire year to provide each of us with $5.00 to spend on a gift for the selected family member.

On that particular year, I had drawn my name from the bowl, which normally meant drawing another name and placing my name back in the bowl. However, I told my parents that since I had drawn my name I insisted that I should be allowed to buy a Christmas present for myself. I was surprised when they agreed to my request.

That Saturday we embarked to the Las Palmas plaza. I made a beeline to Neisner’s Store with a $5.00 bill in my wallet to purchase a gift for myself.  I ended up buying myself a Lone Ranger cap gun with holster. The set considered by many today as politically incorrect was at the time the rage among young boys at the time. When we arrived home, I wrapped my present, so it could be placed under the tree on Christmas Eve. But as Christmas Day approached, I was saddened by the fact that unlike the rest of the family, I knew what my Secret Santa gift was. There was no mystery or surprise in my gift which removed any joy of anticipation for me.

Christmas morning arrived and the family opened their only gift from a Secret Santa, with much excitement and anticipation, except for me, there was no mystery or Secret Santa as I already knew what was under the tree. That Christmas Day I learned some valuable lessons about the sharing of gifts on Christmas Day, particularly the joy of giving over receiving and excitement of anticipating the arrival of a Christmas gift given in a loving, selfless manner.

Our lesson today contains some parallels to my life lesson. While the Jews had anticipated the arrival of s Messiah sent by God, no one knew day or time the Christ would arrive. Even the mother of the Messiah was initially unaware that she was chosen by God to give birth to him, Luke 1:26-35 (ESV):

Birth of Jesus Foretold

 26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed[a] to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary.28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!”[b] 29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. 30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

34 And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”[c]

35 And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born[d] will be called holy—the Son of God.

Footnotes: a. Luke 1:27 That is, legally pledged to be married b.Luke 1:28 Some manuscripts add Blessed are you among women! C. Luke 1:34 Greek since I do not know a man e. Luke 1:35 Some manuscripts add of you

 Not only was Mary unaware of her selection to be the mother of the Christ, but she was also surprised that she would conceive her child as a virgin.

Joseph, to whom Mary was betrothed, had similar concerns to the news of her pregnancy, but his fears were allayed by the visit of an angel, Matthew 1:18-24 (ESV):

The Birth of Jesus Christ

18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ[a] took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed[b] to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:

23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
    and they shall call his name Immanuel”

(which means, God with us). 24 When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife,

Footnotes: a. Matthew 1:18 Some manuscripts of the Christ b. Matthew 1:18 That is, legally pledged to be married

While it seems that Mary and Joseph may have been aware of the arrival of a Christ or Messiah for the People of Israel, it appears that neither knew that God would choose a woman betrothed to a carpenter as parents to raise His Christ child. The lord had to send His angels them the important place they would have in fulfilling His plan.

We know that there were also Magi or Wise Men, though not Jews, they were aware that God had placed signs in the heavens, so they followed a star to Bethlehem, where the Christ was to be born, Matthew 2:1-15 (ESV):

 The Visit of the Wise Men

 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men[a] from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose[b] and have come to worship him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:

“‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel.’”

Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.”After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11 And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. 12 And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.

The Flight to Egypt

13 Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” 14 And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt 15 and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son.”

Footnotes: a. Matthew 2:1 Greek magi; also verses 716 b. Matthew 2:2 Or in the east; also verse 9

We see that the Wise Men, the chief priests, scribes, and King Herod were aware of the prophecy of God sending a Christ, the wise men sought him in the palace of the king in Jerusalem and Herod was uncertain as to where to find the Messiah.

The chief priests and scribes indicated that Scriptures indicated that Christ was to be born in Bethlehem.

King Herod plotted to kill the Christ child, asking the Wise Men to return to him with the location of the baby’s birth. But warned in a dream, the Wise Men returned to their homeland by another way, not telling Herod about the child.

Joseph was warned in a dream as well, by an angel of the Lord of Herod’s plan, and fled with Mary and Jesus to Egypt until receiving word of the king’s death.

As we read through the New Testament, we see that many of the Jews, including the disciples, had not anticipated the reason why God sent His only Son, Jesus nor in what manner Jesus would eventually redeem humanity for the sins that they had committed and was facing a judgment of death, John 3:16-17 (ESV):

For God So Loved the World

 16 “For God so loved the world,[a] that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

Footnotes: a. John 3:16 Or For this is how God loved the world

The first Christmas marks the arrival of a much anticipated Messiah, but the manner of how, when, and where God executed His plan and promise of salvation through His only Son, revealed events that were unexpected, filled with mystery, wonder, and joy. This is the message of Christmas being blessed with His most precious gift to all who have faith.

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #410: O What a Wonderful, Wonderful Day

Benediction – (2 Corinthians 13:14):                                                                        

 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.