Social Media: When a Distraction Starts to Feel Like an Obligation

We all know some of the benefits of social media. Whether it is staying in touch with family and friends, keeping up on the latest news, or a little entertainment, social media can deliver. These are the reasons we started using it, but as I mentioned in another post, when it comes to social media, the benefits rarely outweigh the costs. The main reason is because we tend to misuse it. To get the advantages mentioned above, we rarely need to spend more than 20 minutes a week on these platforms; an hour, at the most, is usually enough.

I am not talking about people who have social media responsibilities in their job descriptions or use it as a form of income. For those people, the benefits increase dramatically, so they can better shoulder some of the burdens that come with it. I am talking about the general user. The last thing the architects of these platforms want you to do is to use it wisely. They make their money by getting you to spend as much time online as possible so they can collect a more extensive and more accurate marketing profile on you. That way, they can profit off of the information they have collected by selling it to advertisers who are looking for people like you, and you need to be online to see those ads.

To get you to spend more time online, they employ multiple tactics that I talked about in this post. All I want to do now is point out a quick test to see if you are experiencing mission drift with your social media usage. Mission drift is when you set out to accomplish one thing but unconsciously end up pursuing something else. In some cases, it can be positive; in other cases, it can be harmful.

If you started to use social media for the primary reasons already mentioned, one of the ways you can detect mission drift in your usage is to ask yourself how obligated you feel to check these sites continually. Remember, you started to use them to make them serve you, but if the feeling of obligation is strong, maybe you are beginning to serve them.

If you are unsure if you feel an obligation to social media, ask yourself this question. How would you feel if you were to step away from these platforms entirely for two weeks? For most of us, there is an instant internal spike of concern. We think we have too much at stake to do something like that. How would I know what is going on? What if someone commented on one of my old posts, and I would look bad if I did not respond? Would the people I interact with start to forget about me? I have worked hard to cultivate these followers; would I lose them? All these questions could be warning signs that something unhealthy is taking place.

These feelings of obligation are one of the main reasons why the majority of people who spend long periods on social media struggle with more anxiety and depression than those who do not. Social media has a way of making us feel like we have more on our plate than we do, and it gives us next to nothing in return. It can also give us a false sense of accomplishment because we think we somehow have met our social media obligation. The problem is, in the end, we have not accomplished anything that will last. Social media is some of the shallowest of all shallow work.

If you have been feeling a strong obligation to social media, maybe now is the perfect time to take a week off to see what life is like without always checking in. My guess is you will not miss it as much as you think you will. Likely, you will find your week off more fulfilling than the weeks you are active online. If that is the case, there are ways to adjust your usage going forward to gain the benefits without incurring as high a cost. In the end, it never hurts to take a closer look at our habits and reevaluate what we are doing because, as Socrates once said, “the unexamined life is not worth living.”

-D. Eaton

Recognizing the Glory of God

The heavens declare the glory of God. Psalm 19:1

When we look at the universe, we wonder at the magnificence. We stand in awe as the massive spheres move perfectly in their orbits. We stand amazed at the power of our sun and realize it pales in comparison to many other stars, let alone the vastness of it all.

There is, without a doubt, a glory announced by the universe that causes us all to marvel, but we must realize the glory that is declared is not the glory of the universe; it is the glory of God. The experience we have is true knowledge of the Lord Almighty. Now, we must not misunderstand this, the verse in the Psalm 19 does not say that the universe is God. In fact, it is clearly distinct from him in this passage, but the Glory that we are experiencing is our Father’s. “For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made (Romans 1: 20).”

This is where the natural man steps in and attempts to suppress that truth in unrighteousness (Romans 1:18). Many naturalists say it should be enough for us to marvel at this world and all its complexities without any appeal to God, and this is what we should expect them to say since the natural progression from trading the truth of God for a lie, is to begin worshiping the creation instead of the creator (Romans 1:25). This is exactly what they are doing when they ascribe the glory that belongs to God to creation itself.

As for believers, we have every reason to rejoice and praise our Father who made it all. All we need to do to get a glimpse of His splendor is slow down, look around, and with childlike wonder, recognize glory of God.

-D. Eaton

The Haunting Effects of Sin

David thought it was over. His sin had been exposed, he had sought the Lord’s forgiveness, and it had been granted. A right spirit had been renewed, and a clean heart had been created. Then came the news that his child was gravely ill. As David was thrown to the floor in anguish, thoughts of his sin filled his mind. Months had passed, but now his sin had come out from hiding to remind him of his treachery against the God of the universe.

Years later another son of his rebels, and once again David is reminded of the sword that has been driven into his family because of what he had done. Another brutal reminder that he, at one point, thought he knew better than Lord of all creation. In his sinfulness, he desired something that the Lord had forbidden, but David ignored the law because he thought it would be better if things were done his way. Oh, but how that sin has haunted him. How many times he thought he was done with it. He had repented, he had been forgiven, but regardless, it seemed to pursue him. Though it had no hold on his life, and there was no possibility that his sin could exact its wages from him, due to the redemptive plan and work of God, it was not going to let him forget.

It seemed to sit in silence for extended periods of time just to make David comfortable. Then as he would be going about his day, there would be those moments when something, whether it was something he saw or something he heard, gave his sin an opportunity to spring upon him and cloak his day with darkness by taunting him of his failures and reminding him of his foolishness.

You see, one or two moments of sin do not simply last for a season. Many times, they have a way of coming back in little reminders which sink your spirits every now and again, and the fact that it comes on when you least expect it is what makes it all the more difficult. After it happens a few times, it can cause you to begin to look over your shoulder in preparation for it to happen again, until you feel it trying to stifle you in your Christian walk. It can even cause a hesitancy to desire spiritual growth because of what it might do when you reach new territory.

As it did with David, sin has a way of robbing us of peace and joy. It can weaken, embarrass, and grieve us years after the indiscretion. On top of all that, as the enemies of God hear about it, they begin to rejoice, mocking the God we love because of what we have done. If you are toying with sin or considering spurning God’s loving standards to feed your flesh, you might want to think twice because what you do could linger for years to come.

Now if this warning comes a bit too late and you already know from experience that all of this is true, you must remember that the haunting cannot ultimately hurt you. Bear in mind that our sovereign God, who has taken your sin and bore its wages on the cross, has promised never to lose His child, and has promised that all things will work together for the good of those who love Him: even the haunting effects of sin. Though they can be troubling and painful, He is using all things to accomplish His purposes in your life. He will finish the work he has started in you, and with a little wrestling, He can change your name from Jacob, the heel-catcher, and deceiver, to Israel, the prince of God.

Ultimately, David never forgot his sin, but that did not stop God from calling him “a man after His own heart.” As king of Israel, the Lord has used his example to show the world His love and forgiveness, and that the Lord can use anyone in a powerful way, even those with serious failures in their past. Sin can haunt the repentant believer all it wants, but ultimately it cannot separate them from God’s love. Even though the enemy naively believes that he is going to stifle them by it, the sovereign God is using it to conform them to the image of His Son. Let us never forget that it was the haunting effects of sin that God used in David life, which caused him to draw up under the wing of his Lord, and through it birthed several of his Psalms which were inspired by the Holy Spirit and considered the very Words of God.

In an extraordinary way, the Lord uses the haunting effects of sin to bring his child to the point where we will no longer be able to be haunted by them. By using them to conform us to His image, not only will we avoid sin in the future, but when the accuser rears his head, we will understand that all his work is in vain, and the more he tries to afflict us, the more we will grow. Then, before long, Satan will be looking over his shoulder, because greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world.

-D. Eaton

Pastor Dies Shortly After Preaching These Words

Watch this servant of God fulfill 55 years of ministry. The preacher in the video is Earl “Buddy” Duggins, former pastor of Forest Home Baptist Church in Kilgore, TX. He is preaching on Easter morning, 2020, and two months earlier, he had lost his wife. What do you do when your rib is gone? You lean more firmly upon your Staff.

What you are about to watch is Pastor Duggins’ final few minutes of his last sermon. He would die unexpectedly within the next couple hours. What you are witnessing is a faithful pastor going the distance amidst grief.

In 2 Timothy 4:5, Paul uses some of his final words to address Archippus with this warning/encouragement, “As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” In the video, you saw every aspect of that verse on display.

First, pastor Duggins had been watchful. He knew his enemy was prowling around like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. His enemy was not only trying to destroy him but his flock also. There is only one message that can overcome those dangers, and that is Gospel. It is easy to wander off into all kinds of topics that tickle the ear, and entertainment is what many people desire to hear, but Pastor Duggins preached the word.

He was also sober-minded. He did not let the condition of his broken heart pull him away from his calling. To answer his pain, he did not resort to worldly stimulants; he went to his Savior, who fortified him with the strength he needed.

He endured the suffering. Even amid grief, he did not lose faith in his Heavenly Father, and he did the work of an Evangelist. Through constant and faithful teaching, He pointed them to Jesus Christ, the resurrection and the life.

In all of that, he fulfilled his ministry. The idea of the word “fulfill” carries with it two thoughts. The first and most common is never to give up; preach the scriptures until the day you die, and this is what Pastor Duggins has done. However, there is a second idea in the word as well, and that is the idea of proving. It is only by patiently enduring afflictions, continually preaching the word, and never drifting away that a ministry validated. All these characteristics show pastor Duggins to be a good and faithful minister in Christ.

There is now no question about his faithfulness. He has run his course; he has finished the race. Shortly after he preached these words, he kneeled before Jesus, who said, “Well done good and faithful servant, enter into joy today.”

What about us? We never know when a gospel presentation will be our last. There is so much in this world working to pull us away, and, internally, we are prone to wander. Whatever your profession, our Lord has called all believers to be fishers of men. Be watchful of your enemy, be sober and diligent, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, and fulfill your ministry. The only way this will happen is by staying close to our Savior. Jesus, keep us near the cross.

Pastor Duggins, who was kept by the power of God through faith, has now entered that great cloud of witnesses. Since they surround us, let us lay aside every weight, and sin which easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.

Well done Pastor Duggins. Your ministry continues to bear fruit even while you are present with the Lord. We cannot wait to join you and your beautiful wife and praise Jesus who accomplished it all, but for now, your example of faithfulness will encourage us all to stay the course and finish the race.

Well done good and faithful servant.

-D Eaton.

The Richest Jewel in Our Father’s Cabinet

Let it be considered, to what the Father gave His only begotten Son: even to death, and that of the cross; to be made a curse for us; to be the scorn and contempt of vile men; to the most unparalleled sufferings that were ever inflicted or borne by any!

It melts our affections, it breaks our heart, to behold our children striving in the pangs of death. But the Lord beheld His Son struggling under such incomparable agonies. He saw Him falling to the ground, groveling in the dust, sweating blood, and amidst those agonies turning Himself to His Father, and, with a heart-rending cry, beseeching Him, “Father, if You are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from Me (Luke 22:42)!

To wrath, to the wrath of an infinite God without mixture; to the very torments of Hell was Christ delivered, and that by the hand of His own Father! What kind of love is this, which made the Father of mercies deliver His only Son to such miseries for us! In giving Christ to die for poor sinners, God gave the richest jewel in His cabinet! This is a mercy of the greatest worth and most inestimable value.

Heaven itself is not so valuable and precious as Christ is! Ten thousand thousand worlds, as many worlds as angels can number, would not outweigh Christ’s love, excellency and sweetness! O what a lovely One! What an excellent, beautiful, ravishing One is Christ!

Put the beauty of ten thousand paradises, like the garden of Eden, into one; put all flowers, all pleasing fragrances, all colors, all delicious tastes, all joys, all sweetnesses, all lovelinesses into one; O what a lovely and excellent thing would that be! And yet it would be less compared to that loveliest and dearest well-beloved Christ than one drop of rain compared to all the seas, rivers, lakes, and fountains of ten thousand earths!

Now, for God to bestow this mercy of mercies, the most precious thing in Heaven or earth, upon poor sinners; and, as great, as lovely, as excellent as His Son was; what astonishing love is this!

-John Flavel

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. -John 3:16

CCM Backbeat: How Well Do You Know 80’s Christian Music?

This one is purely for fun. In 1985, in response to Band Aid and the gathering of secular artists around a cause, Steve Camp gathered upward to 90 Christian musicians to form the C.A.U.S.E (Christian Artists United to Save the Earth). They recorded the song, Do Something Now, and the accompanying video below. This video is essentially the who’s who of 80’s Christian music. Take a minute to watch the video and see how many you recognize.

Count how many you can name, and use the chart below to see how well you know 80’s Christian music. I will post the full list of everyone in the video at the bottom of this post.

Score Chart – How many could you name?

List of Artists

Soloists (In order of appearance):

  • Amy Grant
  • Larry Norman
  • Kathy Troccoli
  • Russ Taff
  • Evie Karlsson
  • Phil Keaggy
  • Scott Wesley Brown
  • Michelle Pillar
  • Steve Camp
  • Sandi Patti
  • Dana Key
  • Mylon LeFevre
  • Jessy Dixon
  • Steve Taylor
  • Matthew Ward
  • 2nd Chapter of Acts
  • Sheila Walsh

The Choir

  • Sandi Patti
  • Jessy Dixon
  • Angie Lewis
  • Kim Perry
  • Geoff Moore
  • Lanny Wolfe
  • Candy Hemphill 
  • Dana Key
  • Ed DeGarmo
  • DMB Band
  • Sue Dodge
  • Karen Kelly
  • Cam Floria
  • Pete Carlson
  • Billy Crockett
  • Chris Christian
  • Gary Chapman
  • Rob Frazier
  • Bobby Jones and Newlife
  • Tami Gunden
  • Larry Bryant
  • Flo Price 
  • 2nd Chapter of Acts 
  • Matthew Ward
  • Glad
  • Amy Grant
  • Russ Taff
  • John Fischer
  • Owen Brock
  • Jim Murray 
  • Mylon LeFevre
  • Shirley Caesar
  • David Meece
  • Sherman Andrus
  • Phil Keaggy
  • Lisa Whelchel
  • Robin Crow
  • Pam Mark Hall
  • Brown Bannister
  • Kathy Troccoli
  • Billy Sprague
  • Doug Oldham
  • Amy Fletcher
  • Larry Norman
  • Michael Card
  • Steven Green
  • Michelle Pillar
  • Scott Wesley Brown
  • Silverwind
  • Sheila Walsh
  • Connie Scott
  • Rick Cua
  • Steve Camp 
  • Glenn Kaiser 
  • Steve Taylor
  • Dennis Agajanian
  • Bob Farrell
  • Morgan Cryar
  • Bill and Gloria Gaither
  • Found Free
  • Rusty Goodman
  • Gary McSpadden
  • Evie Karlsson

Who were some of your favorite Christian artists of the 80’s? Let me know in the comments.

-D. Eaton

An Absurd Coronavirus Narrative

Some of the narratives surrounding Coronavirus are absurd. COVID-19 is a real threat, and many of the measures we are taking to slow the spread are necessary, but that does not rule out the fact that many arguments people are using to keep people in place are illogical. The tweet below, featuring a video by Governor Cuomo of New York, is a perfect example, and Cuomo is not the only one arguing this way. Take a minute to watch the video, and then we will look at how the logic falls apart.

Cuomo was asked about people who want to work because they are running out of money. His answer is, “economic hardship doesn’t equal death.” In essence, he is saying if you go back to work, you will kill other people, yourself, or both, and nothing is worse than death. He then ended the clip by saying, “You want to go back to work? Take a job as an essential worker?”

Here is the problem in reasoning

Premise 1: Nothing is worse than death, and going to work kills people.

Premise 2: Going back to work as an essential worker is okay.

The problem: If going to work kills people, then essential workers are killing people, and if nothing is worse than death, essential workers should not be going to work.

Cuomo has two options here. First, he can admit that he overstated the first premise, or he can acknowledge that essential workers are killing people, and he is okay with that. He could even justify it by agreeing that some things are worse than death. If he goes with the second option, he would need to admit that he is willing to have some of the people under his jurisdiction die to keep places like liquor stores and marijuana dispensaries open.

Since it is clear that essential workers are not killing people by doing their jobs, it is evident that the first premise is an overstatement. Once we understand this, the manipulation becomes obvious.

Here is what Cuomo is saying to you. “You cannot go back to work unless it is a job the government approves of, then you can work all you want. You will not kill people working approved jobs. The government will continue to decide which jobs are approved, which ones are not, and do not even think about worshiping together in small, socially distanced, groups.”

I realize there is significant danger involved with this pandemic. Still, if we are safely able to go to the grocery store with hundreds of other people by taking extensive precautions, such as masks and cleaning products, there are a thousands of other things we could do safely as well.

Let me end with this final thought because many people seem to think that since the pandemic is so bad, it is suitable for our politicians to violate the constitution and a person’s right to work and their freedom of religion. There is no situation where governmental authorities have the right to suspend the constitution because doing so would nullify the very thing that grants them power in the first place.

Do your part to combat coronavirus, and be on guard to make sure no one is attempting to undermine your liberties with absurd arguments.

-D. Eaton

When Your Rib is Gone, Lean More Firmly on Your Staff

Dear Sir,

Last Friday I received a note from Mr. Venn, which acquaints me with the loss of your wife, who, I find, expired suddenly after a long illness. When your rib is gone, you must lean firmer on your staff. (Psalm 23:4)

What a bubble is human honor, and what a toy is human joy! Happy is he, whose hope is the Lord, and whose heart cries out for the living God. Creature comforts may fail him, but the God of all consolation will be with him. When human cisterns yield no water, he may drink of the river that waters the throne of God.

Youth, without grace, wants every worldly embellishment. But a gracious heart and hoary hairs cries out for communion with God, and says: Nothing on earth can I desire in comparison with Him!

What a mercy that you need not fly to wordily amusements for relief or to find comfort! Not satisfied with this world’s husks, the prodigal’s food, God has bestowed a pearl on you which creates an appetite for spiritual nutriment, and brings His royal dainties into your bosom.

May this season of mourning be sweetened with a sense of the Lord’s presence, bringing many tokens of His fatherly love, and sanctifying the painful visitation by drawing your heart more vigorously unto Him and fixing it on Him!

May the Lord bring eternity nearer to our minds, and Jesus nearer to our hearts.

-John Berridge (1716-1793) – Letters

A Guilty Soul Restored

Dead. Black. Harmful. Guilty. 

These are not words that describe a mere principle that worked within me; they described me. Though life coursed through my veins, I was spiritually dead, and death was to be the only wage I would merit. Not simply physical death, but eternal death. Flesh was the only word that could describe me. As in death, my eyes were closed and lifeless; I allowed no light to enter because I loved the darkness. Blackness permeated everything I was. Though my physical eyes could see, in rebellion they would not look upon light and life. All my actions, though I boasted of virtue, were done in darkness, and because of this I was harmful. I dangerous to myself and those around me, and none of it was accidental. In all of it, I was culpable for I had gone astray.

Broken, Injured. Restless. Fearful. 

Of no merit of my own and entirely for His name’s sake, He called this wandering sheep and blotted out my iniquities with the blood of His sacrifice on the cross. I heard His voice, it gave me life, and light began to penetrate my soul. Though still somewhat harmful something had changed. Something old had passed away, and all things were becoming new. Yet, in it all, I was still broken. I had injured myself and those around me, and in restlessness and fear, I began to wonder if He would fulfill all He promised.

Guided. Nourished. Protected. Loved. 

From a distance, I followed His voice learning that He would only lead me to places that would be to my advantage. In His leading, He began to feed my wounded soul with nourishment that could not be found in any other source. In my ignorance, I would wander from time to time, but He never failed to fend off the enemies of my soul with His rod. If necessary, He would even use His staff to chasten me. When my foolish legs began to wander, He did not hesitate to wound them. Then in my weakness, He would gather me up into His arms and keep me close to protect me from myself and my enemies while I would mend. In those times, I began to know Him better, and as He spoke to me using a name that was all my own, I knew I was loved.

Peace. Comfort. Fearless. Endless. 

My Shepherd’s name is Jesus, and He restores my soul. I now lay down in peace wherever He leads me, and I shall not be in want. I am comforted by His rod and staff and long to be at my Shepherd’s side. No longer do I fear evil, for He is with me. His goodness and mercy will be with me all the days of my life, and my dwelling in the house of the Lord will be endless.

“He restores my soul.”– Psalm 23:3

-D. Eaton

The Temptation of Jesus

I am one of the teachers at our church where we are going through the Gospel Project. Since we are unable to meet for class, I have been uploading these videos so everyone can keep up with the curriculum. If you are interested in following along, you can do so below.

The temptation of Jesus is a pivotal moment in the gospels. To fully understand it, it is important to compare and contrast Jesus’ temptation with what Adam faced in the garden. We will also see relevance to our dealings with temptation as well.