Shine Your Light – Online & Off

IMG_6230

My Dear Daughters,

It’s been a sad week – and really, a sad couple of months – for our nation and world.  Mass shootings, devastating hurricanes, terrorist attacks… the news – and my social media news feed – is a lot to take in.  And most days, I honestly have to limit how much I do take in.  The state of our surroundings, and even our own hearts sometimes, can point us toward feelings of despair.  But… praise God, we don’t have to stay there, for He has made a way for us to experience hope in the face of adversity.  The Lord’s love, faithfulness, and provision in difficult circumstances are repeated themes throughout the Bible.

Through trusting Jesus, even in our troubles (which should come as no shock, as He shared that we will have trouble in this world) we can step into His promise-command to “Take heart, for I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).  But Jesus didn’t tell us to live hopeful, contented lives while quietly keeping it all to ourselves.  In the sermon on the mount, he commands His disciples, and others in the crowd, to “let [their] light shine before others…” (Matthew 5):


13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.


I’ve been studying the sermon on the mount with some precious friends from small group.  We recently had such a good discussion about salt and light and how important of a function they play in our lives.  Can you imagine food without salt?  Even in sweets, salt enhances the flavor.  A little bit goes a long way.  And we take for granted the power of light until the power goes out on a stormy night… but remember it’s power when a tiny candle’s flame or flashlight’s glow helps us to see again.  Likewise, we hold great power – and great responsibility – as the “salt of the earth” and “light of the world” to fulfill our purpose to glorify God.

So, what does letting our light shine look like in this day and time of seemingly constant connection?  Obviously, we can shine Jesus’ love and hope through our daily words, actions, and interactions with the people physically around us.  But what about in our online presence?  How can we be intentional about shining our light there as well?

A good place to start is simply by focusing on love.  Love for our Lord, and love for one another – the greatest commandment.  You can’t go wrong by celebrating and sharing love – and the True Source of that love, Jesus.

What might that look like?  I don’t think there’s necessarily one “right” answer, and we should each pray about what we should do on a daily basis to step forward in obedience.  Here are a few ideas…

  • Search for the good in the world around you – what you dwell on, what you notice, you will find, whether good or bad!  Cultivate, and share, an attitude of gratitude.
  • Look for the helpersTake it from Mr. Rogers… “If you’ll look for the helpers, you’ll know that there’s hope.”  Seek out stories of those selflessly helping in a tragedy.  And figure out how you can come alongside them or add to the efforts to help in your own way.
  • Be an encourager – There are so many hurting hearts around you.  Look for needs and symptoms of hopelessness in others’ lives/posts, and as you can, be faithful to pray for, encourage, and point them back to the Truth and hope of the gospel.
  • Share the Word – What is the Lord teaching you through the Bible that could encourage someone else, or point them to the Truth?  The Lord promises us that when His Word goes out, it won’t return empty (Isaiah 55:10-12).  Of course, we should be careful to not take isolated Bible verses out of context.  But if you feel prompted to share something with someone, you should obediently do it!

There’s plenty of darkness and negativity to go around on social media, for sure, but that just means there’s all the more space for light.  I pray that, as you grow in grace and truth, you are continually able to see the good, be the good, and shine your light ever more brightly – online and off.

“Let us hold unswerwingly to the hope we profess, for He who has promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:23).

Love and Light,

Mama

technically(4)

 

 

A Heart Like His in a Constantly Connected World

A Heart Like Hisin a Constantly Connected World

Photo Credit:  Jeff Coleman (my talented husband)

We live in a world of constant connection.  The Internet and handheld tech tools have changed the way we do life in constant connection and information… arguably, for both the better and worse.  From the time we wake in the morning until the time we go to bed at night, we’re juggling between what sometimes feels like a never-ending stream of texts, calls, emails, Google searches, social media notifications, and to-do’s… not to mention our (over?)scheduled “leisure” activities of choice.  Busy has truly become the 21st century American condition.

But what if our quest for activity, community, and relaxation is actually handing us the opposite of their intended outcomes?  What if what we really need is more stillness… margin… rest?

Stillness is a repeated theme in Scripture.  The Lord calls us to “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).  But it’s hard to be still and sit in silence when our phone, laptop, Netflix, fill-in-the-blank is an arm’s reach away.  A decade ago, when you were waiting in line, what did you do?  Maybe talk to someone next to you, or just sit quietly and think?  Nowadays, my tolerance for stillness, for boredom seems a lot lower.  There’s always an email that needs attention or something to see, to read, to learn, to do.  I’m too often reminding myself to put my phone away and just be.

For the past couple of years, the Lord has been prompting me to examine my heart as it relates to how I focus my time and attention, to how my habits are cultivating stress or rest.  And, if I’m going to be effective in doing that, I must take a hard look at how I’m being intentional about connecting with – and disconnecting from – technology.  Activity isn’t bad, and technology isn’t bad… but anything in excess can distract and numb our hearts, and if we are honest with ourselves, even become idols.

Constant connection has a tendency to leave me feeling frazzled, overwhelmed, striving, even apathetic.  But, praise God, Jesus calls us to something better – to set aside our Martha ways and sit at His feet like Mary.   To be intentional about setting aside distractions and focus on the one thing that is needed (Luke 10:42). To soak up His goodness and enter into His peace, freedom, and rest – the only true, lasting rest for our souls.  To redirect our hearts and desires to become more like His – for our good and His glory.

Each day, you and I have a choice to be intentional about how we connect with Jesus and with people – both in-person and through our devices.  May we be granted grace and mercy to choose well, and to get back on track when we fall astray.

This morning during my walk/worship time, I was greatly encouraged by the words of a favorite song.  This is my prayer today for me, and for you:

Heart Like You by Love & The Outcome

“Burn bright
In my life
Burn away the things
I hold tight
Give me
Eyes to see
Your Kingdom
The way You want it
To be

What can be worth more than You
What do I have I wouldn’t lose
If it means You and I
Look more alike
That’s what I chose

I’d give up the world to find my soul
Pour out my life, give You control
I just want to be what You want me to be
I just want a heart that’s true
A heart like You
I just want a heart like You”

Oh, for grace to trust Him more!

technically(4)