The Facebook Idol

A few weeks ago, I did something I never should have done. I sent an email.

But it wasn’t just any email. Perhaps you’ve done it before. You receive an email, and before you have time to think or pray, the next thing you know you are writing an emotional response as a knee-jerk reaction. Sometimes you catch yourself and realize that perhaps you should take some extra time to think about it before you hit “send”, and when you come back to it hours or days later, you feel complete and utter relief that you didn’t send it. That’s what I should have done. But I didn’t.

I hit “send”.

The conviction didn’t come right away. I sent it and forgot about it, for the most part. But when, five days later, the response came back to my negative, prideful missive, suddenly the conviction hit me like a ton of bricks. The unsuspecting recipient of my impulsive email had actually responded in a fairly gracious manner, but in that moment, I knew exactly where I had gone wrong.

I blame Facebook.

Well, that’s not totally fair. I actually blame the fact that I had allowed Facebook to become an idol in my life. Let me explain. Over the last few years, I have been more determined than ever to have a disciplined time of meeting with the Lord each morning. It looks a little bit different every day, but usually involves me setting my alarm at a painful oh-dark-thirty in order to get that time in before having to wake my kids up for the early school bus. I developed this habit with more discipline than ever after my son Caleb was born, because I found that my days were so difficult caring my for my little boy with extreme global developmental delays and sensory issues that I absolutely depended on that time with the Lord to give me what I needed to make it through the day without going completely nuts. However, over the last few months, I’ve been letting that time slide. It started subtly – I would peruse Facebook on my phone while in the bathroom before starting my quiet time. (I realize this is more than you really wanted to know, but it’s essential to telling the true story.) Next thing you know, I had wasted so much time in the bathroom getting caught up with the fascinating world of Facebook that I had run out of time to spend with the Lord. How quickly those precious moments ran out, after which I had nothing of value to show for them. I started staying up later than I knew was good for me and deciding to sleep a “little” later the next morning – just to catch up on sleep, just this once.  But the tiny amount of time I had allotted for myself to spend with the Lord that morning got sucked up with – you guessed it – Facebook. Before I knew it, I was feeling extremely connected with everybody I cared about – and many that I didn’t – except for One. The Most Important One.

I was lying to myself and telling myself that I was getting up early for my quiet time – but then I would let technology and social networking steal that time away. As a result, I began to feel like a ship without a rudder. I started to feel out of touch with the daily promptings of the Holy Spirit. When decisions needed to be made, I struggled to discern the right path. When a difficult situation called for extra patience, I ran out – because my cup was being emptied each day and I was desperate for a refill. When a family member needed grace, they didn’t get it from me…because I wasn’t receiving it from my Source each day.

All of this hit me that day like a head-on collision with a brick wall. I realized that without checking in with God each morning and cultivating that sweet relationship with his Holy Spirit on a daily basis, I was sabotaging my own attempts to live a godly life that brought glory to God. Before I hit “send” on that email, I should have been utterly convinced that it was what God wanted me to do (particularly since I referred to what I thought God was telling me in the actual email). Instead, it was something that came from Courtney’s sinful impulses, not from the mind of God. The Lord reminded me about Romans 12:2: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” By allowing the “pattern” of Facebook to be ever-present in my consciousness, I was no longer being intentional about what I put into my mind, and in fact I was unintentionally conforming to the world. It’s no wonder that I sent an email full of pride, presumption, and negativity…I was not renewing my mind on a daily basis and being transformed by God’s word and Holy Spirit.

I once heard “idol” defined as anything that takes my allegiance, time, or worship away from God. Did I set out at the beginning to create an idol for myself that would take God’s place? Of course not. It happened slowly, bit by bit, choice by choice, as I began to let other things creep into my time that was reserved for God alone. Because, you see, not only did Facebook creep into those once-sacred early morning hours, but it slowly became an “escape” at all other hours of the day as well. God reminded me that only He should be my “escape”! The Psalms are full of verses about God being our refuge, our shelter, our deliverer. Psalm 46:1 says, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”  Can you imagine the hopelessness you would feel if that verse read, “Facebook is our refuge and strength.” What a faulty, disappointing refuge that would be!

You may feel that this is a lot of drama about one little email. But that one little email scared me. It was a window into what I would be like without regularly feasting on God’s word and checking in with the Holy Spirit. So, once the weight of conviction hit me, I went to my knees and humbled myself before the Lord. I asked his forgiveness and claimed it. But I wasn’t allowed to stop there. The Lord humbled me further by sending me to the two different people who had been affected by this email. I had to ask their forgiveness (amid many tears), admit that I’d been prideful and impulsive, and tell them that I wished I could take back what had been said. It was too late for that, but thankfully they both extended me grace and forgiveness. The Lord used this experience to discipline me and show me where I had fallen into a pattern of sin and conforming to the world.

Every minute of the day I have the choice about what I put in my mind: something that is life-giving, or something that is not.

I resolved that day to remove myself indefinitely from Facebook. What I’ve been putting into my mind and heart instead has been life-giving Bible reading, Spirit-led prayer, and refreshing worship music. The difference it’s made to be intentional about what I put in my mind is astounding. When situations come up that take me by surprise, somehow I’m better able to handle them in a Christ-like way because I’ve recently spent time plugged in to my Source of power, wisdom, discernment, and patience.

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him. – Psalm 34:8

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ – Matthew 22:37

The Power of a Praying Momma

When the horrific shooting took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, I was devastated. Like so many others, I was horrified at the way that evil seemed to triumph over so many of our most defenseless little ones. I thought about the fact that my own kids are growing up (very quickly) in a world where our battle is not against flesh and blood, and there are very real physical, spiritual and emotional consequences of evil. I knew I needed to get serious about praying for my kids and entering into spiritual battle on behalf of my children and their school. I wanted to pray with other moms, but I wasn’t sure how to go about it.

I am blessed with three children – Leila, age 8, Kinsley, age 6, and Caleb, age 4. Leila and Kinsley both attend Holcomb Elementary School in Oregon City, Oregon. My Caleb is at a special preschool for children with developmental delays, since he was born with many severe developmental delays, and he was recently diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy (in addition to sensory disorders). He is not crawling, walking, talking, or chewing. I am extremely busy taking him to therapies all week, and I realized that the only way I could find a prayer group that worked with my schedule would be if I led it myself in my own home. I spent some time in individual prayer about it and the Lord led me to research Moms in Prayer. Through a Facebook group for moms of kids at our elementary school, I sent out an invitation to a prayer group at my home with a link to the Moms in Prayer website. The first week, God sent me two moms. Each of them invited more and we are now at a total of five moms, with another soon to join us next week.

It’s been amazing to see all of the answers to prayer in just the short five months we’ve been meeting. It’s so wonderful to pray for all the children represented, and then to come back the following week and get updates on how God answered our prayers. I love the way that Moms in Prayer provides all the resources we need…the booklet, the prayer sheets, the format for our times of prayer (see this Four Steps of Prayer video to learn more). One of my favorite things is that each week, we focus on a different attribute of God and center our times of praise and intercession upon that attribute.

One week in late February or early March of this year, our prayer group focus was “God is our Helper”. I prayed the prayer from Isaiah 41:13 over my daughters, and then for my son: “May Caleb know that You are his God, who takes hold of his right hand and says to him, ‘Do not fear; I will help you.’ “ As I prayed this over my son, the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart and showed me that Caleb’s biggest problem was not his delays, or his cerebral palsy, or his brain function…it was fear. He has an extreme fear of falling, and a fear of failure, and this kept him paralyzed with fear much of the time. The Lord reminded me that fear does not come from Him! We began to pray against the spirit of fear in Caleb, and asked that the Lord would replace his fear with power, love, and a sound mind. Over the next couple of weeks, we continued to pray this way for our boy, and we watched Caleb begin to lose his fear. His confidence began to blossom! One day he actually asked to practice in his walker, which was unheard of before. Then came the day when, just few weeks later, I put him in the walker and turned away for just a moment, and when I turned back…he was WALKING by himself! Four years of lots and lots of prayer had come to a climax in that beautiful moment. I am so thankful that through our Moms in Prayer meeting, God showed me that my little boy was actually fighting a spiritual battle as well as a physical one, and he showed me just how to pray for my son! I’m also so very grateful to the other moms in my prayer group who joined the many other family members and church family members in interceding for my little boy. God heard our prayers and answered in a most amazing way. To Him be the glory!

If it were up to me, every young mom like myself would be in a Moms in Prayer group, covering her children and their schools in prayer. There is always a point in the meeting where I just sense God’s presence so strongly, and I can sense his pleasure in our prayers rising up to him. I also experience the peace that comes from knowing that when my little ones head out the door each day, they and their teachers and school are covered in prayer. And finally, it’s such an encouragement to gather and pray with other like-minded women. We have formed an amazing bond of sisterhood in a relatively short period of time, and I would not have even known these women otherwise. What a blessing to this mom!

He’s Better Than I Thought

God is real.

He’s good. Like, lavishly, abundant, better-than-I-thought, good.

He still heals today. Like, physical, miraculous healing.

He’s still in the business of setting people free. In every way possible.

 

“I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles, to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison, and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness. I am the Lord; that is my name! I will not yield my glory to another or my praise to idols. See, the former things have taken place, and new things I declare; before they spring into being I announce them to you.” – Isaiah 42:6-9

Isaiah 42:6-9