1.9.2015

5 Things to Consider Before Posting Online

Has your mouth ever gotten you in a tangled-up mess?

Or have you ever been deeply wounded because of the words of others?

I’d have to say yes to both of these.

But thank goodness I’m not alone – my friend, Karen Ehman, just wrote a fantastic book that tackles the hard subjects of gossip, speaking the truth in love, and the power of our words from a biblical standpoint. She’s guest posting today to give us some tips on how to control our tongue (and fingertips) online and through social media. Take it away, Karen…

I still remember the day I got a Facebook page back in 2007. I am pretty much a foreigner in the land of all things techie, but my kids insisted one day that I just could not be a cool mom unless I had a Facebook page.

At first, Facebook was fun. But then one day as I walked past the den, I heard my daughter hollering at the computer screen. “What? Are you kidding me right now? That’s a lie!”

I popped my head into the room to inquire about what had upset my daughter so much. She invited me to look at her friend’s Facebook page. They were both members of a sports team, and a third girl, also a member, was on her friend’s page complaining about the team’s coach. The comments back and forth became sharper and more concerning. Pretty soon they were in an all-out Facebook fight. I couldn’t believe my eyes.

It just strikes me as strange that friends can argue online or complete strangers can engage in a hearty debate right there on my blinking screen for all the world to see.

Although the Bible was written long before the computer age, I am convinced the truths of Scripture that address how we use our words in speech applies equally to how we use our words online and on social media. In fact, sometimes it’s the online words that give us the most trouble. Unsolicited opinion-slinging. Snark. Or even worse.

There is just something empowering about saying what you really think while hiding behind a computer screen.

Maybe we feel courageous because the person we’re addressing isn’t physically present. Or perhaps going along with the crowd makes it easy to speak harshly. Whatever it is, I have witnessed many people say things in cyberspace I doubt they would ever say in person. Sometimes the keyboard really does bring out the horrible in us.

So, if we want to honor God with what we say in cyberspace, what are the guidelines we should follow? Here are 5 things to consider before posting online:

1. Pray Before You Post
If we spend time ingesting God’s Truth each day before we switch on the computer, we might not write things that are unkind or hurtful. At the very least, we should whisper a prayer before we post, asking the Holy Spirit to tap on our hearts if we are tempted to post anything online that would not glorify Him.

2. Imagine the Recipient Sitting Next to You
The Internet is so impersonal. But if a flesh-and-blood person were sitting next to us with eyes we could look into, perhaps we would be more careful. Before you post, ask yourself if you would say things differently if the person to whom you’re writing were actually sitting next to you.

3. Remember: When You’re Online, You’re Also on Stage
Unless we send a private message, our online words are available for others to see. If I say something in person to a friend and am later convicted I was wrong, I can go back to my friend and apologize. However, if I post something on social media or comment on a blog and later want to retract it, I have no way to chase down all of the people who might have seen the original comment. Just this fact alone should cause us to really weigh our words before we type them out.

4. Ask Yourself If You’ve Earned the Right to Address the Subject at Hand
If friends on Facebook are hashing through a hot-button issue of the day, do you have any expertise in the area, or are you only slinging an underinformed opinion? We can’t always be an expert on every topic at hand, so when we aren’t, we might do well to refrain from commenting at all.

5. When You Speak, Let Your Speech Be Laced with Grace
Our words must glorify God and not just exalt our own opinions. Here is a great guideline from Scripture: “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” (Colossians 4:5–6).

Jot down these questions on a sticky note and post it near the computer as a reminder to ask:

• Is this comment wise?
• Will writing this comment help me display God’s love to outsiders?
• Is this comment full of grace?
• Have I asked God if this is the best response?

If you’ve ever said, typed, texted, or posted words that were permanently painful because you were temporarily ticked off, I understand. That’s why I wrote my new book, Keep It Shut: What to Say, How to Say It, and When to Say Nothing At All. Click here to purchase your copy and get a 10-day devotional as a FREE gift!

Today I’m giving away 5 signed copies of Keep It Shut! To be entered to win, leave a comment below with one of the 5 rules that you’re going to implement this week as you post online.

1.5.2015

A customer service rep and my justified frustration bad reaction…

I was talking with a customer service agent from an online company I have enjoyed doing business with for years. I was in a hurry to check things off my growing to-do list and called thinking she could help me with a return. But when I explained I needed to return this certain item, our conversation started to head south.

She informed me that my item wasn’t on the returnable list. It was on the final sale list. I had no clue there was a returnable list and a final sale list. It wasn’t posted online or stated in their catalog.

I logically stated my case and felt sure she would see things my way. But she didn’t. No matter what I said or explained, she wouldn’t budge.

I knew the lady on the other end of the phone was just following procedure, but it made no sense. It wasn’t right, and I was frustrated!

And my tone of voice made it clear just how frustrated I was. Honestly, I didn’t have the time or patience to deal with this hiccup in my day.

Later that same day, I was in line at the grocery store behind a man who wanted to use an expired coupon. The check out gal calmly stated she couldn’t honor his coupon. Well, he didn’t like that one bit. And he made sure everyone around them knew how much he didn’t like this situation.

I stood back appalled at his actions.

Until… I started thinking about the fact that I’d acted almost the same way with the customer service agent who refused what I wanted. The conviction wove its way through my heart and made me feel so bad for the way I’d reacted toward that woman…

I’m sharing more on what I learned about having better reactions in dealing with daily frustrations over at (in)courage today. Click here to read the rest of my post.

1.2.2015

The Prayer That Changed My Life

For most of my life, I’ve struggled with my weight and committing to a healthy lifestyle. My soul was rubbed raw from years of trying and failing.

I wanted something to instantly fix my issues.
I wanted to stop calling myself awful names I’d never let another person call me.
I wanted to be naturally thin like my sister.
I wanted to stop crying when I walked into my closet to get dressed in the morning.

So when I lost 25 pounds a few years ago and kept it off for the first time in my life, it was a huge victory.

That year, the year I finally got my eating issues under control, I started with a very simple New Year’s prayer. I didn’t write a long list of resolutions as I had in previous years. After all, my list from one year to the next could have simply been a photocopy from the year before.

It was the same stuff, year after year. I started out with great gusto to eat less, move more, make this a healthy lifestyle, and live in victory. Yadda, yadda, yadda.

But each year around January 7, I’d get invited to a party where treats were plentiful and motivation scarce. My stomach would soon be overstuffed and my resolve worn quite thin.

Year after year.

But that year I just couldn’t bring myself to write the list again. So, I prayed this simple prayer: Unsettle me.

These are the words I wrote in my prayer journal…

Unsettle me. These are the two words rattling about in my brain today. I almost wish it were a more glamorous prayer. Surely more eloquent words could be found for what I’m feeling led to pursue during this New Year. But these are the words, this is the prayer.

The funny thing is, I’ve spent my whole existence trying to find a place to settle down, people to settle down with, and a spirit about me worthy of all this settled down-ness. All of this is good. A contented heart, thankful for its blessings, is a good way to settle.

But there are areas of my life that have also settled that mock my desires to be a godly woman — compromises, if you will. Attitudes that I’ve wrapped in the lie, “Well, that’s just how I am. And if that’s all the bad that’s in me, I’m doing pretty good.”

I dare you, dear soul of mine, to notice the stark evidence of a spirit that is tainted and a heart that must be placed under the microscope of God’s Word. Yes, indeed, unsettle me, Lord.

Unearth that remnant of justification. Shake loose that pull toward compromise. Reveal that broken shard of secrecy. Expose that tendency to give up. Unsettle me in the best kind of way. For when I allow Your touch to reach the deepest parts of me — dark and dingy and hidden away too long — suddenly, a fresh wind of life twists and twirls and dances through my soul.

I can delight in hope that this is my year to change. I can discover reasons to appreciate my body and find softer ways for my thoughts to land. I can recognize the beauty of discipline and crave the intimacy with God it unleashes. I can rest assured though the journey will be hard, I will be held.

Goodbye to my remnants, my justification, shards, and tendencies. This is not who I am — nor who I was created to be.

Goodbye to shallow efforts, self-focus, and suspicious fears that I’ll never find victory in this area of my life. I am an unsettled woman who no longer wishes to take part in distractions or destructions.

Welcome deeper love for God and the realization I am made for more than this constant battle. Welcome my unsettled heart.

Are you ready to be unsettled in a good way? Maybe you’re at the beginning of your journey and feel intimidated by the long road ahead. Or, maybe you are on the other end of the spectrum and need ongoing encouragement to stay healthy.

Whether you’re in those places or somewhere in the middle my book, Made to Crave: Satisfying Your Deepest Desire with God, Not Food can help. You’ll find a friend who understands, biblical teaching that is surprisingly motivational, and a victorious perspective in the pages of this book.

Get your copy here.

I’m giving away signed copies of Made to Crave today to 5 random commenters. To be entered to win, leave a comment below with your prayer for 2015.