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Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Are Social Media Good? Four Ways to Make Sure They Are

I am okay with or without social media. I mean, when I go on vacation, I leave my computer at home. I don’t even own a smart phone. It’s a true vacation. I don’t need to answer anyone, and I don’t email or post anything. I lose touch with the world for a little while. I schedule some necessary posts ahead of time, and then I go away. I enjoy being with my husband and seeing new places with him. We have fun conversations, or we just slouch around watching the TV news at the end of a long walking day.

As you know, we live overseas. One of the ways I keep in touch with family, friends, and online friends with similar interests is through social media. It helps me reach out from my own living room. I can ask questions, get answers, check on the kids and grandkids, and send pictures almost in the blink of an eye.

I live a full life and am rarely lonely, but when I am, I reach out to others. “How are you?” is the question I ask most often. Then, we have a chat. It’s a wonderful thing!

But, social media can also produce nasty reactions, if you let them. Your online friendships can erode your contentment, eat away at your self-confidence, and make you feel like dirt. Just compare your collapsed cake with the Frozen-themed princess birthday party you saw on Pinterest. You don’t add up. Your kids will never forgive you for such a ratty party. This is what you think as you sit down in a funk.

Mr. and Mrs. So and So* must have a perfect marriage. After all, they get professional photos taken about every two months, and they’re playing together, hugging each other, and seem to be so in love. Your husband does not think you need to spend $150 for a photo session even once a year! So you start griping to yourself about Hubby, and you think what you’d like to do to him instead of loving him as he is—pictures or no pictures.

Letitia is always taking selfies. She is gorgeous, and you can’t blame her! Who wouldn’t take selfies, looking like that? You walk by the mirror and just about pass out from the shock. Your hair looks like a rooster walked across the top, and your make-up consists of … oh, that’s right, you didn’t put any on today. You begin to wonder if Letitia wakes up looking like her selfies or how many hours it takes to be that pretty. You become dissatisfied with your own looks. The extra pounds from your last baby, your crooked teeth—which you’re positive everyone is staring at—and your hair, which kind of has a mind of its own…. Oh, if you could only be like Letitia!

Sandra post-boasts about her latest purchase, a really cute purse. It was on sale for only $250—a real bargain! That would be your grocery money for the whole month. You start to grump about what Hubby brings home and how much isn’t left over after the necessary expenses are taken care of. Why can’t you rejoice about a $250 on-sale purse?

Mrs. Figbert shares photos of her home just about every week. White surfaces, no clutter, beautiful decorations, priceless art and antiques. It looks like no one ever cooks or sits down. You think of your five kids and two dogs and how long a white couch would stay white. You think of red spaghetti sauce and the gray and white rug under Mrs. Figbert’s dining room table. You compare your life—and your house—to hers, and you’re convinced you come up short. It’s another reason to grouse.

Lillie is at a specific restaurant with her girlfriends one night. Two days later, she posts photos of her husband with her and two other couples at a glamorous steak place. The next week, she’s out for fancy hamburgers at lunch with a co-worker. But, Lillie is nothing compared to Pam! Pam and her husband are always traveling. You count at least three exotic places in the past four months: Italy, the Bahamas for Christmas, and now, they’re in Tokyo, enjoying sushi.

You sit in your favorite chair, nurse your cup of cooling tea, and feel sorry for yourself. Social media has made you mad at your friends, husband—and kids, since they'd never keep a sofa white—and the dogs. You can't forget those lousy mutts! You’re disgusted with your face, hair, house, friends (or lack thereof), and financial status. You’re discontented, and you feel yucky.

How can social media be used for your good? Let me propose a few ideas:
  1. Don’t believe everything you see. A photo is only a photo. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things (Philippians 4:8).
  2. Join a social media group of fellow Christians with similar values to yours. You can encourage them, and they will encourage you. Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart: so doth the sweetness of a man's friend by hearty counsel. Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend (Proverbs 27:9, 17).
  3. Use social media like a prayer list—and actually pause and pray. Pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much (James 5:16b).
  4. Resist the temptation to compare yourself to others, and find contentment in your own circumstances and in the Lord. Other moms with five kids and two dogs don’t live in pristine white houses, either. Most children are quite okay with a collapsed cake, a few gifts, and lots of love on their birthdays. Moms with a bunch of kids usually don’t take a lot of selfies: they are busy investing in their family. Many other people live on budgets and do just fine. Be real. You don’t need to be someone else. You are you. Let your conversation (lifestyle) be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee (Hebrews 13:5).

* All of my illustrations are completely fictitious, though typical of situations found in social media.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

The New "Christian" Alcohol

Fermented cranberry sauce
Ginger “ale”
Lacto-fermented ketchup, fruit, etc.

All are considered good for your health.  The idea is to ingest live, good bacteria, which “boost your gut microbiome”1 and make you feel marvellous. Do they really help? Studies show an improvement in digestion. Studies also caution against using these for people with immune system deficiencies and children.

Just so we understand exactly what we’re talking about:
  • Kombucha is fermented tea.
  • Kefir is fermented milk (dairy or otherwise).
  • Kimchi and sourkraut are different ways to ferment cabbage.

Fermented food and drinks are all the rage. “Fermentation is the process by which yeast or bacteria convert sugar to alcohol, and it occurs when bread leavens or beer and wine are made.”2

And, Christian women everywhere are brewing in their kitchens.

I was curious to know if there’s a significant alcohol content in them. According to my research, this is what I found:
  • Kombucha’s alcohol content can be from .5% to 2.5%.1
  • Kefir’s alcohol content after 24-hours’ fermentation is from .08% to .1%.
  • Of course, fermented cabbage is much less.
If you compare kombucha to beer, it has about half the alcohol content or less. Kefir’s is less than half of kombucha’s.

So, is this problematic?

I really don’t know, although they say that drinking enough kombucha can give people a buzz. My sources didn’t specify an amount, but I would guess one would have to drink a lot.

The question for Christians is about consistency. If a Christian refuses to drink anything alcoholic, is brewing and drinking kombucha or ginger ale consistent with a non-alcohol stance? Could it possibly lead to developing a taste for beer and other alcoholic drinks?

I have no idea. I'm only asking questions.

Here are a couple of the Bible’s warnings:
  • Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise (Proverbs 20:1).
  • Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright (Proverbs 23:31).

One of the qualifications for pastors, deacons, and Christian women leaders is:
  • Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous (1 Timothy 3:3).
  • Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre (1 Timothy 3:8).
  • For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre (Titus 1:7)
  • The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things (Titus 2:3).

Here’s permission to use alcohol medicinally:
  • Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts (Proverbs 31:6).
  • Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach's sake and thine often infirmities (1 Timothy 5:23).

We know that biblical wines were “home brews” and not processed the same way beer, wines, and liquors are made today. Would leading Christians in Bible times have used naturally fermented drinks and foods? Would they have made kombucha, kefir, or ginger ale? (I think they would probably have enjoyed kimchi, if they lived in Korea, or sourkraut in Germany.)

I’d like to hear your thoughts on the subject of fermented foods and drinks. What do you think? Are they okay for Christians? I would love to have your input.

(Please keep the discussion kind. I respect your opinion, either way. Thank you.)