Why I am Leaving Instagram

I like Instagram. Of all the social media platforms, I feel that it is the only one of the big three (Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram) that has not been weaponized and has positive elements for connecting with friends and family; but I am still leaving. Why? Well first let me share with you a brief history of my social media journey up to this point.

I began my journey with social media in 2005 with a little platform called, MySpace. My best friend Scott and our wives were both at our adoptive family the Reeves for the holidays, and he showed me his MySpace page, I began to dig around his page and found that a friend of mine from Junior High back in California was living in Collegedale, TN. I thought, “how cool is this; I would have never found her without MySpace.” Immediately I created my own MySpace page and thus began more than 13 years of steady addiction. MySpace of course eventually phased out, and the new cool kid on the block was Facebook, I loved Facebook in those infant stages–before it became toxic. I then took notice of Twitter when Ashton Kutcher was battling CNN to become the first Twitter user to reach one million followers in 2009. By the way, Ashton Kutcher is not even in the top 100 of accounts followed in 2019 and his one million followers which seemed huge in 2009 is now a paltry sum to Katy Perry’s 107,000,000 followers. I signed-up then for Twitter but didn’t start utilizing Twitter ’till church politics began to get a little intense around 2010 or 2011. What I loved about Twitter even though I was following the rhetoric of church politics was the easy access to articles, blog posts, and real-time news stories shared on Twitter, but then it also became toxic. And finally just three or four years ago I became a part of the Instagram world. I didn’t get it at first, but then I began to love it. I have a lot fewer followers on Instagram than I did on Twitter and Facebook–so I feel like there are people there I want to connect with. Which is also nice because that means almost every picture I look at is of someone I care about, except for Candace Cameron Bure, Kristen Bell, and Kelly Slater whom I also follow. At one point I was on all three platforms, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Then…

Almost two years ago I left Facebook, I actually tried to leave in 2011 but quickly got pulled back in. It took a couple of weeks for me to adjust, but the two years without it, I’ve been better off. Then six months ago I left Twitter. I did so because I had just experienced two intense weeks in church politics and our world politics, filtering both through the lens of Twitter and all the anger out there was becoming my anger. I took one week off in the midst of some important church meetings, I still kept up with what was happening at those meetings, but did so without Twitter and you know what, something was clearer to me than the previous weeks–Jesus is still in control, and I didn’t feel that way because the meetings were awesome or went the way I wanted, it was just because I wasn’t letting the Twittersphere dictate my thoughts.

So now that brings me to Instagram. Why leave Instagram if I like it? Why leave it if it hasn’t become toxic as Facebook and Twitter did? Because all those case studies that set out the optimal client for the social media industry, addicted, click-happy–yeah, that’s me!? And three events opened my eyes to this:

  1. I was sitting in a one-on-one meeting at the office. I informed the individual I was speaking with that Christina (my wife) would be texting me some info about the kids, so forgive me for checking my phone. Well at one point she did text, I received the text, told the person it was my wife, they said no problem and kept on talking. I responded to Christina’s text and then without even thinking I immediately clicked over to Instagram and began scrolling. The person I was meeting with had no idea. They kept on talking. But I knew. As I said to Christina later, here I am the Senior Pastor in a meeting with a member and rather than giving that person the full attention I’m mindlessly scrolling through Instagram.
  2. Christina announced, “Sunday we are going to do a purge of our closets.” I had seen, through another friend’s Instagram, about this type of tidying up referred to as “Kondo.” So I googled “Kondo” and discovered that it is a reference to a Netflix show about an organizer named Marie Kondo. I browsed some of her videos on YouTube, got motivated and Sunday I purged, and also Kondo’d my drawers and closet (I can’t wait to do this with my books and office at work). But during the project, I had the intense urge to take a picture of what I had done and Instagram it out to everyone. And at that moment it dawned on me, every time I do something “good” I Instagram it out and then people “like” my post and I feel affirmed. Two things about this: First, as someone that struggles with ego already I don’t need to have it inflated and second, posting what I post puts a false picture of me out there. This was confirmed when I told my friend I was leaving Instagram and she said, “oh I’m going to miss seeing what a great dad you are.” Now, this friend has known me since I was eight years old and been a close friend since I was 13. She was a bit hyperbolic–she is well aware “great” is not the appropriate adjective for me; still, when she said it, it confirmed what I was afraid of, the real “me” is not being put out there on social media, and I’d rather have no “me” out there than a false “me.” I never post the pictures of my kids after I’ve yelled at them unnecessarily, or the side of my bed when I have five dishes that need to be picked up or of me after I’ve chosen not to go for a run.
  3. And now for event number three and the event that should have driven me away from Instagram weeks ago but I am dull and slow sometimes to hear God’s promptings. My middle son, Landon, is by far my biggest cuddler. He loves to cuddle his dad–I’ll never feel unloved with Lando around. One night a few weeks, maybe even a month ago I was “cuddling” Landon and scrolling through Instagram, he was asking me questions about the pictures, “who’s that?” “Do you have any animal pictures?” “Can we watch the people crash on the skateboards?” etc. After a ‘bit, I said, “Okay bud you go to sleep. I love you.” And Landon said, “Dad you haven’t cuddled me yet.” I said “Landon stop trying to stall. I’ve been cuddling you the last ten minutes.” His response, “You weren’t cuddling me. You were on Instagram.” It stung but not nearly as much as it should have. Now jump forward a few weeks, Landon as he was heading to bed asked, “Dad will you come to snuggle me.” “Yes, I’ll be up in a minute.” And then he called back, “Snuggles though Dad, no Instagram.” He remembered my focus on Instagram over loving on him, and it was seared into his brain.

Three events. Three reasons to quit Instagram. My mental health. My spiritual health. My relational health with my family (when I told Christina I was leaving Instagram she was happy, that says something to me also!)

So this was a long post to communicate such a simple act. But I do so for two reasons: First, it may help someone who is considering similar action to take that step (I do believe life would be better off if we all left social media completely). And my second reason is that when I went off Facebook, some were irritated that they could no longer talk with me through that avenue. Then when I deleted Twitter, some people were hurt with me thinking I had blocked them from my account, which was not the case, I just wasn’t there anymore. Now with Instagram I hope everyone out there will understand, I appreciate y’all, I will miss y’all. But I think for me, 13 years of social media is enough, and I am ready to break my addiction and just be what I think will be a better and more present version of me for my family and the church I serve.


President Donald Trump, The Media, & Twitter

To some of my readers I want to give a quick warning. There is not a Spiritual lesson I evoke out of this post. This is just some randomness I was pondering as I did my long run today. If you hate politics or political takes or opinions then just go ahead and click to a new page now. -Chad

Here we go…

Donald Trump tweets out that the media is the enemy of the people. The media responds by blasting that tweet all over their news coverage, while claiming that such a statement is dangerous for America. Donald Trump stands-up in one of his rallies and points to all the media and calls them “fake news” and tells the audience that “those people are losers” and or “harming America.” The media not only is broadcasting this live, they also then rerun it over and over again.

Donald Trump recently stated, “The media will ultimately support me.” The reason he believes this is because “I’m good for ratings.” I have a little news flash, the media already does support him and it is because he is making them money. And in my humble opinion no matter how much they claim to dislike President Trump they must like money more because they consistently throw fuel on his fire and encourage the very behavior they claim to hate.

There is a lesson the media needs to take from every parenting book ever written, “whatever you give attention to grows.” If you only pay attention to your child when he or she is misbehaving that behavior will increase! The media not only reports on what some feel is bad behavior (not everyone actually does agree that it is bad behavior), they go on and on and on about it.

If the media really believes the President is bad for the nation and our world then they should only report and then give ZERO commentary to anything he says, and in some cases don’t even report.

In the United States there are 232,000,000 MILLION eligible voters. Guess how many Twitter accounts there are in the United States? 68 million (and that number is down from 69 million last quarter). For those of you that are not Twitter users let me share with you a couple insights about that 68 million number. Many of those accounts are not even people. They are businesses, advertisements, news service accounts. There are also a number of accounts as we all know that use Twitter that were started by someone’s grandma to be cool and they’ve never looked at their account again. There are a multitude of fake celebrity accounts, and as we now are aware of following the 2016 election from there are a number of dangerous bot accounts!

You get my point. Of the 68 million Twitter accounts in The United States the actual individuals that those accounts represent is far less than 68 million.

That means of the 232,000,000 million eligible voters in The United States if someone didn’t tell them and inundate them with updates they would NEVER know what was said on Twitter by Katy Perry, Justin Bieber, Ellen DeGeneres, or, yep you guessed it, President Trump.

I have been following politics, sometimes to an unhealthy obsession, since I was 16 years old. I am now 40 years old. No politician in my lifetime has ever been covered like President Trump. Now someone could counter “well there is just so much more access now.” Yes but there are 100’s of other politicians and we don’t cover them like we do President Trump. And President Obama served in this world of access, but he wasn’t covered the way President Trump is being covered and no it is not because of “fake news.” Even Fox is covering President Trump MORE!

If the media really believes that President Trump’s tweets are ridiculous and even dangerous then don’t put them up and exponentially increase his reach! And don’t cover every rally and speech he gives and then act surprised that he attacked you (the media) while the cameras were live.

I have to say, I agree with President Trump on this point: He helps the media’s ratings (see this link or this one ). And for that reason the media will continue to scream and holler about how horrible President Trump is, but the more they scream the more he’ll keep doing what he’s doing, because “what gets the most attention grows.” And unfortunately it also grows them the most money.

Transient Treasures

Below is my sermon from this past Saturday. If you have 28 minutes and 30 seconds to watch it I hope it will be a blessing to you. And if it is a blessing would you be so kind as to share it through Facebook or some other means. (P.S. the backdrop is due to Vacation Bible School :))

Fireflies

As I walked my dog on this humid night, I watched as the trees, bushes, and grass were illuminated by fireflies. And in the quiet, as my eyes followed the flashing lights my mind took me back to a June night 24 years prior…

June 1994 a dark humid night, the radio playing quietly in the background. On that night I wasn’t walking though, I was in the passenger seat of a car. My mom was driving, my two sisters and my older sisters boyfriend, Jeremiah, were asleep and I was looking out the window as we made our way into the Midwest and then on into Ohio. Ohio our new home. A home I didn’t want to go. A home far away from our real home in California. Far away from my friends. Far away from my school. Far away from everything. Ohio a place I couldn’t even find on a map.

As we drove deeper into the humidity and closer to Ohio I watched as the bushes became illuminated by–I didn’t know at first–then my mom said, “Fireflies.” They were beautiful. It was about the only beauty I saw in this move…it wasn’t beautiful to take a 16 almost 17 year old away from all his friends in the middle of High-School. My older sister she was just coming to see our new home, she’d be going back to California with her boyfriend for college. My little sister. She was young. She could adjust. But me, my heart was broken.

I thought about that tonight as I saw the fireflies illuminating the night, and I said a prayer of thanks to The Lord for “breaking my heart” at 16 because it saved my life.

In Ohio, the home I didn’t want. I found the home I needed. A home I only lived at for three years, but it became the home I still claim. The home where I made my best friends. The home I named my eldest son after (Dayton). Most importantly the home I met Jesus.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding….” -Proverbs 3:5

Do Not Be Silent!

Prior to World War II. Prior to the annihilation of 6 million Jews at the hands of the Nazi Regime. Prior to all this there was a law that stated all Jews must register with the government and wear a visible gold star of David. If these Jewish individuals did not register or did not wear their Stars of David they were subject to monetary fines and or imprisonment.

“Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.” –Romans 13:1

In 1938 prior to World War II. Prior to the annihilation of 6 million Jews at the hands of the Nazi Regime. Joseph Goebbels the German Propaganda Minister orders the Storm Troopers (SA) and other Nazi party formations to destroy the homes, businesses, and houses of worship of Jews while fire fighters and police are ordered to stand by and let it happen, it is known as, “The Night of Broken Glass.”

“Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.” –Romans 13:1

Following the Night of Broken Glass, prior to World War II. Prior to the annihilation of 6 million Jews at the hands of the Nazi Regime—The Nazi state imposes a fine of one billion Reichsmarks ($400,000,000) on the Jewish community in Germany. Jews are ordered to clean up and make repairs after the pogrom. They are barred from collecting insurance for the damages. Instead, the state confiscates payments owed by insurers to Jewish property holders. In the aftermath of the pogrom, Jews are systematically excluded from all areas of public life in Germany.

“Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.” –Romans 13:1

Prior to World War II. Prior to the annihilation of 6 million Jews at the hands of the Nazi Regime—Jewish children are banned from entering museums, playgrounds, and public pools. They are also expelled from their schools.

“Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.” –Romans 13:1

If scripture was ever used to defend such cruelty would we stand by and be silent?

The United States of America, 2018—About 2,000 children have been separated from their families at the border of Mexico over a six-week period during a crackdown on illegal entries, according to U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

“I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13, to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained them for the purpose of order,” Attorney General of The United States of America, Jeff Sessions.

“Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.” –Romans 13:1

One day in the future my Adventist brothers and sisters—

“There will come a time when, because of our advocacy of Bible truth, we shall be treated as traitors.” –Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 6 p.394

“Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.” –Romans 13:1

Do not be silent!

Protest

Today 1000’s of young people participated in a #NationalStudentWalkout, including some from Spencerville Adventist Academy, the school of The Spencerville Adventist Church of which I am the Senior Pastor, and the school my three sons attend. I have heard some within our nation agitating for the inappropriateness of this walkout and also that the students should face some level of punishment from their respective schools. I would suspect that most, not all, but most of these appeals come from those that hold a position that is in opposition to the students that walked-out. I do not write this post to discuss my views for or against the issue, you can read some thoughts on that here or here. But I write to encourage everyone, no matter where you stand on the “gun debate” to support the proactive movement these young people are taking. Supporting a young persons passionate expression to the extent it is done in peace, and is not in opposition to a clear “thus saith The Lord” is a good thing. The reason I feel this way is because I experienced that support first hand as a child and have never forgotten it.

Here is my story:

When I was in 4th grade in Loma Linda, CA one of the required classes we were to take was Spanish, in 3rd grade we took German, in 4th grade Spanish. Shortly after the class began that year I began to have some run-ins with the teacher, to the extent that I felt she had begun to call me out unnecessarily and took joy in embarrassing me. I was good at losing my temper, by that point in my life I was already on a first name basis with the office administrators and the school principal. But this time I decided not to go my usual route, instead I decided to attempt something productive

I wrote a petition!

It was a petition of protest against my need to be in that class.

It was only about half a page long, but it clearly laid out my reasons for my belief that this teacher was causing undue harm to my psyche.

When I first took the petition to the office to submit it I learned two things: first a petition needed signatures and secondly a student could not submit a petition unless they had the support and signature of at least one teacher or faculty member.

With that information and without their support they sent me on their way, I would suspect thinking they had effectively squashed this 4th graders protest.

They were wrong!

I immediately began to get signatures…over 100 of them as I remember, mostly from my own grade, but a few of the 5th and 6th grade girls signed it as well as I explained my plight and batted my eyes.

But I still needed a teacher or a faculty member to sign.

Loma Linda was (is) a large for an Adventist school and in the 4th grade there were actually 4 different teachers. We had our primary room and then we would rotate a few subjects between the other three teachers. I can tell you I remember the names of two of those four teachers. Mrs. Sell, my main teacher and Mrs. Smith, I’ve been wracking my brain trying to remember the other two and I’m coming up completely blank. Could it be I remember those two teachers because out of the 4 they were the two that read my protest and agreed to sign my sheet so that I could turn it in?

Their support had a major impact on me and now 30+ years later I still remember their support and remain grateful.

Looking back on the entire incident from an adult perspective I doubt that they signed my paper out of agreement, but rather to affirm my initiative and willingness to express myself.

Also looking back I believe their support was part of my development as a leader. It was one of the first major “leadership” initiatives I accomplished.

So let us support our children even if we don’t agree on the issue. If The Lord hasn’t called for silence on this issue in His Word and the young people are being peaceful in their protest let us affirm their outcries!

We may just be helping to develop future leaders.

Oh, by the way, they let me drop the Spanish class…go figure a protest really can change things  😉

How Many Deaths Will It Take?

The answer is not in the Wind…but we ignore the answer…

One Tweet Too Far

There have been a lot of tweets that have raised my blood pressure over the last year, but there was one I read today that was one tweet too far and I could not hold my tongue any longer. But no it wasn’t from President Trump, rather it was a tweet about President Trump by a man who is the progeny of one of my Spiritual hero’s.

That a minister of the Gospel would lower the denominator of the Christian faith to a presidential speech because he publicly uses the name of Jesus and because he says, “Merry Christmas” rather than “Happy Holidays” is beyond repugnant.

Brothers and sisters let me share with you a statement by one of my favorite authors,

“The character is revealed, not by occasional good deeds and occasional misdeeds, but by the tendency of the habitual words and acts.” -Ellen G. White, Steps to Christ, p. 57

A few words in a speech here and there do not qualify as a strong outspoken stand of the Christian faith, it is the consistent actions of ones life. It is the “habitual words and acts.”

Any individual, that consistently refers to other individuals created in the image of God in a derogatory or demeaning manner is not standing strong for the Christian faith, they are undermining the Christian faith.

Any individual that consistently lies or attempts to deceive others is not taking a strong stand for the Christian faith they are undermining the Christian faith.

Any individual that does not see the importance of seeking forgiveness from God or others is not taking a strong stand for the Christian faith, they are undermining the Christian faith.

If Christians want to support President Trump as a politician that is their business between them and Jesus; but please do not try and justify this support by claiming that he is bulwark of the Christian faith. Such statements as the above by “Christian” leaders leave our collective faith looking foolish and our collective witness weakened.

I am not a minister with anywhere near the status of Franklin Graham but to those few non-Christians that read this blog please know there are many of us out there that do not deem what our President is doing as representing or even helping the cause of Christ. There are many of us that know the greatest testimony of Christianity is, “a kind and courteous Christian.” And many of us still desire to see those we hold up as Christian pillars, individuals that live by the scriptures which teach our “speech should always be gracious.” (Colossians 4:6).

What Is Your I.Q.?

Years ago I googled…actually I think this was before google…so I searched in AOL and found a free online IQ test. I started the test and within a few questions I quit, why because I could tell by those first few questions I didn’t want to know my IQ. I also rationalized, “I’ve made it this far without knowing my IQ I should be good for the rest of my life.”

I have a great family. Good friends. I love my job. I’ve achieved some success in school. I believe I was correct in the above assessment. But there is one IQ test out there I believe all of us should be aware of.

It is not your Intelligence Quotient it is your Invitation Quotient.

There is an old book I came across by Gary McIntosh & Glen Martin, and when I say old I mean it was written when I was in 7th grade; in my reading of this book I came across a test that helps us asses if we are being faithful individually in inviting people to Jesus.

I want to share this test with you and invite you to take it:

  1. Have you spoken to anyone in the last month to share with them what Jesus and His church mean to you?                                     YES     NO
  2. Did you speak to someone in the last month who has been absent from your church services to express your concern for them? YES     NO
  3. Have you invited a newcomer to your community to come with you to church any time in the past four months?                           YES     NO
  4. Have you encouraged or invited anyone who does not attend any other church to visit yours with you in the last month?             YES    NO
  5. Did you speak to someone last Sabbath you did not know personally who was in the church services to extend your personal word of greeting and welcome?                                                                                                                                                             YES    NO
  6. Have you taken time to greet the people who sit next to you in the pew before or after church services?                                          YES    NO
  7. Do you pray for opportunities to be abel to speak about Christ and His church to others?                                                                 YES    NO
  8. Do you pray that the Holy Spirit will burden you with the souls of the lost people around you?                                                           YES    NO

Now the purpose of this little I.Q. test is not so that I can know your score. In fact it is not important for me to know your score. What I am hoping is that if you are unable to answer “YES” to all 8 questions that you will ask God to help you begin to work on the areas where your invitation quotient is a “NO.”

There are people out there that YOU are the best opportunity God has to reach them. It is true. That is a big responsibility and one we cannot turn away from. So take the test and then begin living out the questions within the test.

I don’t care if my Intelligence Quotient is high. I do care if my invitation quotient is high.

“And you shall be my witnesses…to the ends of the earth.” Acts 2:8

The Best Argument for Women’s Ordination Without Using Words

Let me speak directly to those who stand firmly in the belief that women should be ordained. In the course of the last 5 years I believe one of our greatest weaknesses in our “struggle” to affirm the rightness of women’s ordination (WO) is the use of too many words!

As I studied Acts chapter 5, specifically verses 33-42 I realized the answer to proving the validity of our cause is not primarily in trying to fight policy with words or vote, or to try and convince others with words of the justice of our position. Our position would be greater served if we grew!

Gamaliel in verses 35-37 points out the many causes that had arisen over the years and how each of those causes had ultimately failed as they failed to grow and the followers of these movements were eventually scattered. He then makes the famous statement,

“So in the present case I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail; but if it is of God you will not be able to overthrow them, You might even be found opposing God!” -Acts 5:38, 39

I will confess I have read this text many times over the last 5 years and I’ve applied this text to Elder Wilson and others that seem so set against WO. This week as I read it my heart was reminded, “the easiest application of any text is to apply it to someone else.” So today I want to apply this text to me and my position.

If I read this story in Acts chapter 5 with me in mind I must then ask myself, “what would be the application of Gamaliel’s words to me. To the cause I stand for.” And the answer that convicts my heart: GROWTH!

Let us acknowledge one of the greatest reasons the territories that oppose WO have the upper hand is GROWTH! I don’t mean that they just have a larger voting bloc than we do, but they are growing and in the majority of territories where we affirm WO not only are we often times NOT GROWING, we are shrinking!

Imagine this, what if 5 years ago when Mid-America Union voted (and then rescinded) their position on WO, and then Columbia Union voted to ordain women and then Pacific Union voted to ordain women–we didn’t change any of our votes but rather than fighting a defensive battle trying to defend our position we simply committed in our hearts that we are not going to fight, we are not going to try and prove our just position (that has already been done in committee after committee since 1973), we are not going to get in the debate. We’ll keep voting our conscience, but we’ll expend our energies only on growing. And what if now 5 years later we could look back and see exponential growth in our territories and we could stand before the body and as they condemn the votes on WO we could say like the South American Division reported the other night,

“We have three state capitals where there is a church in every neighborhood.” “We have started 91 centers of influence in our major cities.” “We have planted 440 churches in our urban centers alone in 2016.”

Would that not be a better argument based on Acts 5:38, 39 for WO than an abundance of words to try and convince people we are right?

Now I know already some people have discredited what I just said because they would point out that places like Brazil and Africa are different cultures and “growth” is easier there. But before you get to comfortable in that position of defense, let me say that argument, which I have also used, is only valid if we never mention the growth of the Seventh-day Adventist movement in China as position of support for the cause of WO.

You see we in the core of our beings we understand GROWTH is powerful evidence for the cause of WO, which is why Spectrum, Adventist Today, etc. have made videos & written articles on the women pastors of China and the evidence of GROWTH in support of our cause; it is why so many of us have shared on Facebook and retweeted on Twitter so many of those videos and stories about women pastors in China. GROWTH is the greatest evidence in support of the cause of WO.

After Gamaliel made his speech the Bible tells us that the disciples were beaten and told to stand down, “they charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus.”  And what did the disciples do? Did they argue for another hearing? Did they try and convince the leaders to accept what they were doing? No they went out and GREW!

“And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ. Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number…” -Acts 5:42-6:1a

No matter what happens today (October 9th, 2017) or tomorrow or at Spring Meetings or at the next General Conference Session. Let us make a commitment to reserve our words for voting and requesting TIME and TIME and TIME again for WO to be on the agenda, but beyond those meetings let the argument of our cause be the GROWTH of each territory that stands for WO!

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