Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.Jesus in John 14:21, ESV
I just thought I should let you know that I’m taking a new social media platform a spin. Parler was launched in response to Twitter’s growing draconian approach to dealing with speech it doesn’t like. You can follow me on Parler here.
One of Parler’s core values is bipartisan free speech and free expression.
This is not replacing Twitter for me (though it has for some), I’ll continue to use it, but I like giving new social media platforms a spin so I can familiarize myself with it. I also want to be sure I have a platform if any of these new contenders become big.
How to describe Parler. It’s like Twitter in that posts have character limits, but one can post up to 1000 characters rather than 280. People can comment, echo posts (similar to a retweet with a comment), and vote up (similar to liking tweets). One can share links, pictures, videos, gifs, and the mobile app has memes.
I honestly can’t tell you how active I’ll be on it. My track record isn’t that great on new platforms… my Gab account is inactive (I may try it out again, but when I signed on they didn’t have a mobile app and it was becoming an alt-right cess pool) and I’ve not been on MeWe for ages. I thought I created a Minds account, but apparently I never did.
I know, I know, I’m not really doing a good job talking you into following me. If you are interested please do because I’ll stick with it if I sense I can build a decent platform.
“When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul,” (Psalm 94:19, ESV).
I received some bad news yesterday. I lost my biggest client, a client I have worked with for almost ten years, due to the financial impact of COVID-19; in fact, they were, at that moment, my only client. It’s not the business model one strives for, and it certainly was not ideal. My business has ebbed and flowed with clients coming and going, and, unfortunately, the tide has been out to sea for quite some time. Now it seems like it may never return.
I have been here before. Almost eight years ago, while my son was battling cancer, I lost my job with the organization I served for ten years due to financial difficulty. (Ten years seems to be my shelf life in a particular role.) At the time, I worked with the client I just lost in a limited capacity as a side job. I had spent almost 20 years in youth ministry in a professional or volunteer role since college. That chapter of my life closed, it was time for a change, and I built a new social media and communications business with this particular client at the foundation.
The foundation cracked and, today, the cares of my heart are many. I am reminded now as I was reminded then that the consolations of God would cheer my soul.
I don’t know what is next, but what I do know is that God is my provider. He is my bountiful supplier. This change could open up a wonderful opportunity. I have hope.
I’m also thankful that my family is in relatively good health. Morgan is still cancer-free. My wife has a great full-time job. Most of all, I’m grateful for a wonderful Savior who saved a wretch like me so that I could have a relationship with Him. Jesus is my strength and my shield. He is my everything, and at a time of loss, I cling to that.
I would also like to appeal to my brothers and sisters in Christ. I covet your prayer. I also appreciate job and client leads, but mostly your prayers.
Also, Caffeinated Thoughts is literally the only income I have coming in starting next month, and it barely pays for itself (also, the client was one of my sponsors). So if you are a reader, please consider becoming a patron. That would be much appreciated.
Also, I have not given up on the idea I shared almost one-year ago. Perhaps this change will provide the push needed to pursue this opportunity, I don’t know. I covet your prayer about that as well.
I launched Caffeinated Thoughts intending to maintain it as a personal blog. The first two years shared a lot of personal and ministry news (I worked for an organization called Serve Our Youth Network at the time). It morphed into a multi-contributor (though I still do the bulk of the writing) place for news and commentary on politics, faith, culture, and current events.
Since I live in Iowa, I write a lot about Iowa politics. Because of the branding of that website (which I love by the way), it’s eclectic nature, how news is often mixed with opinion, and the limited amount of time I am able to put in it is not seen as the legitimate news site that it could be. (When I’m asked what news site I’m with I often get strange looks when I say “Caffeinated Thoughts” unless people know me.)
So I’m thinking out loud here – I’ve thought and prayed about a new news site. At first, I thought I would rebrand Caffeinated Thoughts, but I would hate to do that. It’s a known website. It fits a niche, and I don’t want to disrupt that. Instead of trying to generate news from that website it should focus on commentary. After all, it is in the name – “thoughts” – and generally everyone, besides me when I write straight news pieces, offers an opinion.
What I have in mind is a broader center-right website that would focus on Iowa political news and public policy.
- Federal news as it applies to Iowans.
- State political news from the executive branch, legislature, judicial branch, and political groups and parties, as well as, election news.
- Municipal news (with the addition of other contributors)
- Think pieces on public policy as it relates to Iowa
- Opinion – separate from the news
Creating a new, Iowa-focused news site is not an idea that I am ready to launch tomorrow, next week, or even next month (if at all). To do this well, it will take funding – something I lack. It will take sponsors and investors.
I would like to ask for prayer as I continue to explore this.
I would also appreciate feedback so please feel free to drop me a line – firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sorry for the long hiatus, I’ve been convicted about not posting here semi-regularly. There are things I want to write about that are not a good fit other places I write, and this particular topic is one of those items.
Ligon Duncan, the CEO/Chancellor of Reformed Theological Seminary, shared his social media strategy on Twitter earlier this month. I wanted to share the 10 rules he shared:
- Relentlessly encourage, edify & inform.
- Ignore trolls, mockers & slanderers into oblivion.
- Starve dissensionists, narcissists, &
erroristsof the attention they crave.
- Point people to sound people & resources.
- Exalt Christ. Bible. Grace. Truth. Gospel.
- Stay out of food fights. Don’t lob hand grenades into serious discussions. Bring people together.
- Be kind. Persuade (rather than
- Treat people on social media like I would treat them in person.
- Don’t be different on social media from what I am in my life, family, church
andministry. Be the same person online and offline.
- Don’t give inordinate attention to people whose only “platform” is social media & who elsewhere have little accountability, responsibility.
I think this is a pretty good list, a convicting list. Some days I do this better than others. However, I think that social media (Twitter especially) would be a much better place if more of us followed rules #8 and #9 in particular.
For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
– Romans 15:4, ESV
The Chicago Tribune published a lengthy exposé about sexual misconduct allegations that have been made against Bill Hybels, the founder and Senior Pastor of Willow Creek Community Church. I don’t want to repeat them here, but I encourage you to read the story and Willow Creek’s and Bill Hybels’ response.
I’m very familiar with this congregation. I had many friends and serve at the church in South Barrington, IL (a suburb northwest of Chicago) when I attended Trinity International University. I attended their youth ministry conference when I was a youth pastor. I’ve attended their services in the past.
I’m personally not a fan of the seeker-sensitive worship model and I don’t agree with all of Hybels’ or the church’s theology (doctrines of grace, women as elders and pastors, etc.). That said, I do appreciate their heart for the lost, I did come away with some great ideas through their training, and I have zero doubt that God has used that church in Chicago and beyond.
I am also concerned when any church encounters trouble like this. Churches with the impact and visibility that Willow Creek has is even more troubling because of the impact it can make throughout the global Church.
The news story also just makes me sad. It is disappointing if true, and I’m familiar with some of his accusers (Nancy Beach, John and Nancy Ortberg) so I can’t envision what motive they would have to lie. A number of the claims seem credible and at least one, not so much.
On the other hand, if this isn’t true, I would be equally disappointed in the accusers. I find it sad all around.
I think what is definitely clear in the article, whether or not anything inappropriate took place, was that he did not truly practice the “Billy Graham rule” like he encouraged others to do.
The “Billy Graham rule” comes from the late evangelist’s policy to not spend time alone with women he was not related or married to. It served him well.
If he had there would have been no side trip with Nancy Beach. There would not have been any one-on-one meetings with women that could have put him (and the women!) in potentially compromising situations. Following the “Billy Graham rule” would have guarded against false accusations and prevented potential sexual misconduct.
I wish that Hybels would admit to failing in this way or that Willow Creek would call him out on it.
While the church should not assume the allegations are true, they shouldn’t assume they are not as well.
The Bible says, “Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses,” (1 Timothy 5:19, ESV).
If the Chicago Tribune story is accurate (and I think they were fair in getting both sides of the story) we are well beyond that threshold.
It’s important that we don’t put leaders on a pedestal, so high that we think they can never fall. Because when they do fall it reverberates through the church.
The Apostle Paul added in his instruction to Timothy, “As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear,” (1 Timothy 5:20, ESV).
I do commend Willow Creek Community Church’s elders for investigating the allegations.
My prayer is that Willow Creek will reconsider whether the investigation they instigated was thorough enough. Three former board members of the Willow Creek Association, one of whom I know personally, resigned because they believed it was not.
I also pray that there will be transparency (they have not released the investigator’s report). Even if Hybels did not engage in sexual misconduct, it’s important to disclose whether or not he put himself in compromising situations. It’s also important for the church to know how thorough the investigation really was.
Also, let this be a lesson to all in leadership. Lead and live above reproach. The “Billy Graham rule” is a great policy to make your own.
“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty,” (Psalm 91:1, ESV).