The “New” Front Porch

My husband’s first church was in a little town in central Arkansas (population 202).  It was a quaint little town, stuck in the 50’s.  We knew all of our neighbors.  People waved as they drove past.  Those walking down the street would stop and talk to you.  We went to Crime Watch and played softball at the park.  I did aerobics at the community center and my husband was on the volunteer fire department.  Everyone in the town knew you and you knew everyone in the town.  People didn’t need an invitation to stop by for a visit.  My family loved living there and living in a “glass house” didn’t bother us.  We wanted our church to know that we were the same in our home as well as outside in the community.  Everyone had a front porch and we would often find them sitting on it.  In fact, my first Ladies Bible study was held on a front porch.  One mid-morning Tuesday a dozen ladies gathered up for a luncheon, sweet tea, and the Word of God.    Living there was a good experience for us.

Today we live in a far different atmosphere.  I do not know my neighbors.  In fact, since we’ve lived in town, we have had a hard time meeting even our next door neighbors.  People are busy.  Garage doors stay closed.  Blinds stay shut.  No one sits on their front porch because no one has a front porch.  Sometimes we hear our neighbors in their backyard, but even that is seldom.  Several months ago we tried to meet our new neighbors who just moved in.  My husband took over a plate of homemade chocolate chip cookies to welcome them into our neighborhood.  As it turned out, it was the cleaning people.  They enjoyed the cookies, I’m sure.

It is though people do not want to be known.  “I have my own life.  Leave me alone.  Don’t bother me.”

That is until they get online……..

You see, it’s not that people don’t necessarily want to get to know people.  It’s just that they don’t want to get to know them face to face.  They don’t want to sit on their front porch and visit with a neighbor over a cup of coffee.  That takes too much time.  It’s too much of an investment.  There is a risk associated with it.  It involves real people.

But, the “new” front porch is a different story.  This front porch can be anywhere.  It can be in your bedroom, the car, at work, during church service, at the doctor’s office, or on the playground.  In fact, on those rare occasions when we are actually visiting with someone face to face, we can still be sitting on our own “front porch” interacting with someone entirely different.  This new front porch has many names.  You might recognize it at Facebook, Twitter, Skype, texting, or basically any type of social networking and virtual connections.  It really is a strange phenomenon.  There are people who will not take 3 seconds to look another person in the eyes when greeted.  Yet, these same people will tell the whole world all the happenings of their day.  We know what they ate for breakfast, where their spent their last dollar, what games they play online, what TV shows they are watching, the status of their ingrown toenail, and all their personal problems.  There are people who have 4,000 “friends” online, yet could not name 3 “real” friends who would be there if needed.  They will proudly announce to the world their private sins in the form of a status update, yet would never dream of confessing their faults to the church (James 5:16).

Indeed there is a façade associated with the “new” front porch, but is it more ominous than all of that?  My concern is toward the Christian community.  Has all of this online interaction become a surrogate church of sorts?  Let me explain.  Just today I was reading a post by a young mother who was pouring out her heart and begging for encouragement from others in this certain online group.  My heart immediately went out to her, but not necessarily because she was having family troubles.  I was sad for her because it appeared that she did not have anyone (other than an online Christian group) to talk to.  What a sad commentary for the local church.  Tell me, can someone typing ((hugs)) really replace a friends presence?

Like so much of technology there are pro’s and con’s associated it.  I like Facebook.  I love seeing pictures of my family and friends.  I like being able to seed messages and connect with those I know.  I enjoy being able to send a short text to someone.  It simplifies communicating.  Emails are great.  I would much rather type a letter to a friend than take the time to write one out on paper, it’s faster.  And Skype sure comes in handy when my husband and I travel.  We can still see the children, pray with them, and tell them goodnight “face to face.”  Technology should enhance communication; it should not replace it.

As with all of technology there is a fine line.  Do we embrace it or shut it off?  I think I will invited a friend over for a cup of coffee and sit outside on the deck to discuss it.  Some “real people” interaction sounds nice.  On second thought, I’m too busy for that today.  So, I think I’ll throw this up online.  If you want to sit on my “front porch” for a while leave a comment.

Blessings!

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FACE the BOOK

My husband is preaching revival this week at a church down the road from us. Tuesday night’s message was called “Redeeming the Time” taken from Ephesians 5. He preached on how we are to live and walk in this world because the days are evil. After the message and a moving invitation, several men spoke out. One man shared from his heart about how God’s Word had really touched him. One of the comments he made was that he needed to look at his own life, not those around him, and make sure that he was a “doer of the word” not a hearer only.

You know, it is very easy to point fingers at others and say what they should be doing. It is very easy to spot the sin in other’s lives and ignore the sin in our lives. It is very easy to compare ourselves to others and in pride be lifted up. It is very easy to use others as the standard in which we live. While it is easy to do, it is not wise. “For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise,” 2 Corinthians 10:12. In fact, it is rather foolish. But how many people do exactly this? How many times have I done this very thing?

 “At least I don’t do (fill in the blank)…..!”

“I’m just as good as that person….”

“I might live like this but at least I don’t live like so-and-so.”

“I’m at church much more than……”

And so on… If it is foolish to compare our lives to others, by what standard do we compare our lives? If we are children of God our standard is God’s Word. The Bible is a mirror. We hold it up and look in it. It reveals to us the truth. Sometimes we do not like what we see. Let me rephrase that statement. Many times we do not like what we see.

 Ladies, how many mornings have you woke up and looked into the bathroom mirror and been completely satisfied with how you look for the day? That probably does not happen very often. Most of the time we need to brush our teeth, wash our face, comb our hair, put on some makeup, etc. On those mornings when the mirror reveals that a change needs to take place do you find yourself getting made at the mirror? Have you ever said, “I can’t believe that the mirror makes me look so bad! I hate this mirror! I will never look into it again!” Probably not. Why then do we treat the mirror of God’s Word like this? Why do we get mad at the message? (Or the messenger?) Why don’t we just look at ourselves and make the changes that are necessary?

 When I hear God’s Word and it reveals to me my sinful condition I have two options. I can deceive myself and pretend like nothing is wrong. Or I can be a hearer and doer of the Word and be blessed by God. Listen to what James says,

“But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed,” James 1:22-25.

 It’s time God’s children FACE the BOOK. It’s time we take a good hard look at our lives through His Holy Word. Studies show that the past two generations are the most illiterate when it comes to knowing God’s Word. We have more Bibles, Bible studies, helps, and technology but each generation knows less and less of the Bible than the generation before. Why is that? Could it be that the reason we know less and less of the Bible is because we are reading it less and less? Could it be that our ears are stopped and we are hearing it less and less? Could it be that sin has blinded our eyes are we are seeing the Truth less and less? How many hours does the average Christian spend reading the paper or other books a week? How many hours does the average Christian spend on Facebook each week? How many hours will we do things that please our flesh this week? Let’s ask another question. Let’s answer it honestly. How many hours will we spend this week FACING the Book of life?

 The reason so many people do not read their Bible is because they do not like what it says and they don’t want to be accountable to it. But dear Christian, you are already accountable. It is your standard in which you will be judged. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad,” 2Corinthians 5:10. If our works are going to be judged by God’s Word, don’t you think we should read it, study it, know it, and apply it to our lives?

It’s time to FACE the BOOK.