Monday, March 2, 2009

My Face

I know. I’m so creative and witty that I just blew your mind. Alas, I can’t take credit for this affectionate identification of social networking as “my face”. It was my dear friend, Debbie Peters, the wife of the man who actually also coincidentally can take credit for one of the slogans mentioned in the random list below (hint: it also mentions face). I surround myself with creative, funny people. It’s just what I do. Not that the combination of MySpace and Facebook into a single phrase was an insurmountable connection to make. Still it is brilliant.

I plunged into facebook, probably 50% unwillingly, in May 2008. Despite my hesitation and reluctance, it has been mostly a good experience. Perhaps you are reading this blog because you linked to it from my face, er, I mean my profile. That is reason alone that I am thankful for it. Yet, I acknowledge in my sinfulness that I have not been immune to its time-wasting power. So I have been very interested and encouraged to come across helpful words about how to use facebook, and social networking in general, biblically, and for the glory of God. It could take you up to 30 minutes to read through this post and these links. I bet that is less time than you’ll spend on facebook today. And there will be a surprise at the end if you do. What do you say? These first two lists come from Justin Buzzard.


1. Don’t use status updates to complain. For many, complaining has become a trend on Facebook. With their status updates, many people broadcast consistent grumbles, like: “Joe is bored,” “Joe can’t wait to leave his stupid job,” or “Joe is exhausted.” By all means, be real, be honest and authentic, but beware of the culture of complaint.

2. Don’t measure your worth/identity by the number of your Facebook friends and interactions. Facebook measurements are the opposite of gospel measurements. Facebook tells you that the more Facebook friends and interactions you have, the more important, loved, and accepted you are. The gospel tells sinners an opposite message: no matter how lonely, unpopular, or unnoticed you might feel, in Jesus you are more loved, accepted, and noticed than you can imagine.

3. Don’t value forming Facebook (virtual) friendships more than real world friendships.

4. Don’t diminish your face-to-face time with people to check what’s going on in your Facebook world. If you’ve ever been out to dinner with friends and found yourself anxious to pull away and check out what’s happening on Facebook, you know what I’m talking about.

5. Don’t be someone online you’d never be in person. Let Facebook reflect the real you, not some pseudo-personality that emerges when you’re alone with your computer.

6. Don’t hurt and exclude others (intentionally or unintentionally) through use of applications such as “Top Friends.” Likewise, don’t become jealous of others having conversations without you. Be patient and gracious with potential misunderstandings that inevitably happen in cyberspace. When you spot something on Facebook that causes feelings of hurt or jealousy, assume the best.

7. Don’t allow Facebook and online life in general to make you a more distracted person. If you’ve noticed that use of Facebook and online life—constant change, updates, movement, and hyperlinks—has made it more difficult for you to sit down and read a book for one hour, you’d benefit from stepping back and evaluating how this technology is affecting you.

8. Don’t allow Facebook to tempt you away from your calling and work. Don’t let Facebook’s little status updates (“Lisa is chewing gum”) and Wall writings take your focus off the great and big things that your heart should be engaged in, namely the work that God has put you on earth to do.

9. Don’t let Facebook cause you to think about yourself more than you already do. You were created to look outside yourself toward God, other people, and the wonder-filled world he has made for you to enjoy and cultivate.


1. Use Facebook to get back in touch with far-away friends, showing them how Jesus has changed you. As Facebook has reconnected me with friends from my past, a number have been struck by how much I’ve changed. High school friends from Sacramento regularly express shock at learning that I’m a pastor.

2. Use Facebook as an extension of face-to-face relationships and to enhance time with people. Get to know people and love and care for them better when you’re with them because, through Facebook, you know more about who they are and what’s going on in their lives.

3. Use Facebook to take the focus off of yourself. Facebook can actually help you get outside of yourself and your problems. Next time you login, use the time to focus on creatively listening to, loving, and encouraging others. Approach Facebook thinking about what you can give.

4. Use Facebook to sharpen and discipline what you do with your time. Facebook status updates can serve as a form of built-in accountability. Just knowing that my Facebook community can read my updates provides additional motivation to stay on task and actually do what I say I’m doing.

5. Use Facebook to quickly announce and facilitate great face-to-face gatherings. Instead of taking 45 minutes to call 10 people to come over for a spontaneous evening, use Facebook.

6. Use Facebook to influence other people for Jesus. Create a new culture with your status updates. Use them to love, encourage, teach, and challenge people.

Also, check out this series of posts by John Younts that cover topics entitled: Facebook and You, Post Only What is Helpful, It's Just Facebook, Facebook and Friends, and Facebook and Your Time. Very interesting and helpful stuff. Finally, don't ignore the perspective from one of the most steady guides in our culture today, Albert Mohler: Facebook Turns Five.

Now you can never complain again about not enough stuff to read. And just to reward your efforts, allow me to plunge into the chain that has become almost as widespread as the internet itself, and which everybody who is anybody on facebook has done:


1. I took piano lessons for 7 years when I was a kid and received a hand-me-down upright from my aunt for my living room, and it turns out the 7 years didn’t really pay off.

2. I am a macaroni-and-cheese connoisseur. Recently, I was greeted upon arriving late for dinner with a plate of lobster mac and cheese. I was so taken aback I almost passed up on the plate. Now, I expect and hope to be greeted that way whenever I am late to dinner.

3. My mood in the winter is almost directly related to the success of Indiana basketball and the amount of snow on the ground. The latter is manageable and the former is not. In other words, I’ll be more fun when this winter is over.

4. My sense of humor and comedic timing is all thanks to Jerry Seinfeld. Take it or leave it.

5. My biggest passion is seeing the Gospel of Jesus Christ become the most relevant message in our culture. If it doesn’t become this, I will still proclaim and demonstrate it anyway. I believe it already is the most true.

6. My second biggest passion is cutting foam. Not manufacturing, just cutting.

7. If I could quote myself (which is an awesome thing to do, especially as the opener to a speech or sermon – “I once said….) it would be this, in response to a vendor’s question to why I chose the foam industry: “My life is not characterized by what I do for a living.” I went on to explain that this means I could have done anything – but I just happened to like business and just happened to have a solid, unique family connection to cutting (not manufacturing, just cutting) foam. I love foam, but it is not what characterizes my life.

8. I love when my friends make a big deal (even sarcastically) about the fact that my family business is cutting (not manufacturing, just cutting) foam. I welcome slogan ideas. So far my favorites are: “You’re sitting on our face" and “The competition just doesn’t cut it.”

9. I have a lot of trouble deciding what to have for lunch everyday. It’s a big problem. Just make the decision for me. And make sure it’s something I like and more specifically, something I’m in the mood for that day. Subway is a bad guess.

10. I arrange much of my life around having the smallest amount of change as possible. I hate it. If my meal at Panera is $9.10 and I don’t have a dime, it’s not a pretty sight. Every resturant and store needs a ‘Feed the Hungry’ dish.

11. I really want to see a moose in the wild.

12. In my opinion, the best reality TV show is, without question, So You Think You Can Dance. I’m serious. Incidentally, my answer if that were a question is no.

13. I’m terrible at leaving phone messages. It would almost make you think I was scared of you. I'm not, for the record. Don’t be offended if I don’t leave one.

14. When I was less self-controlled with alcohol, I was known to fall asleep sitting up (with good posture), slur my speech, and overall be a “cute drunk”. From this, among other things, I’ve learned to lay down when I sleep (but still sit with good posture), enunciate and be articulate, and not be ashamed to be described as cute. And drink less. College was educational.

15. The ShamWow is the biggest scam in the history of consumer products. It has to be.

16. I’ve developed a very unexpected fascination with sun-dried tomatoes.

17. Ribeirao Preto, Brazil is the farthest south I’ve been, and Edinburgh, Scotland is the farthest north. I wish I could say I’ve been everywhere in between. My favorite places to consistently go are, in no particular order: Southern Florida, Northwestern Michigan, Atlanta, and Chicago. Bloomington is precious. I would go to New York again, all over California, and back to Brazil anytime you're free. Colorado, New Zealand, Africa, elsewhere in South America, and Western Europe are hopefully in my future. India and China are not out of the conversation. Norway I hear is underestimated. Every American should go to Alaska and Hawaii. Canada and Russia are not trips I would plan, but you let me know. I'll be in Indianapolis.

18. I believe the Bible is inerrant and authoritative, and that this truth is not just important, but very helpful.

19. I hate being interrupted in either business, church, or other moderately serious contexts. My contributions to these types of conversations are usually very thought-out and have a purpose, and sometimes require patience, some buildup, and maybe a punch line.

20. I ran the 800m in 2:38 in 7th grade. That’s pretty good. Since then, I choose not to run.

21. My wardrobe may or may not be the subject of much debate and some sarcasm. I did, however, recently purchase a pair of blue jeans from a fashionable department store that will remain nameless.

22. I have not come to grips at all with the fact that many of my best friends have children, though I act like I have.

23. I can not, and probably will not, play euchre. I’ve held out this long. In general, I dislike non-sport games and prefer conversation. There is nothing better than going out to eat with friends or family, in my book.

24. Things I was dragged kicking and screaming (figuratively) into: facebook, blu-ray discs, digital cable (almost), and Christianity. In hindsight, all of these things are pretty cool.

25. I’ve been to almost as many funerals for people younger than me as I have for those older. And while this is deeply tragic, the grace, superiority, and truth of Jesus Christ has not been absent from these situations, these people’s lives, or my growth throughout.

26. I think the four most important things in the world to know and respond to are the holiness of God, the sinfulness of man, the preeminence of the Bible, and the centrality of Calvary. I am prepared to die on the hill of the Bible being true and Jesus being everything. I do not know a more loving way to approach life and relationships than this.

27. I have been told I look like Reggie Miller and Tony Dungy. I’m not sure what to make of this, but it can’t be all bad. Also, whats his name from Toy Story. Whatever.

Twenty seven is the new twenty five. See you on myface.


Pam McKerring said...

Ok...your 25 err 27 cracked me up! Seriously! I didn't realize how little I knew you! We really should catch up sometime. Hope you are well. ~Pam

Ray said...

"When you spot something on Facebook that causes feelings of hurt or jealousy, assume the best."

Good advice for life in general.