Do you have a Facebook page? You probably do. If you're "of a certain age" you probably signed up for it so you could keep up with your kids and grandkids. If you're like me, maybe you were also able to reconnect with some of your high school and college friends that you'd lost touch with over the years. You check in every few days and see the latest photos and status updates and maybe you play a game or two. But you really don't take Facebook too seriously. How about Twitter? Have you signed on to follow your favorite celebrities or sports stars? In this political season the "Twitterverse" is an active, ever-changing landscape of political news, reduced to 140 characters. It's a fun and mostly-harmless way to catch the latest news an occasionally put in your two-cents worth. You don't take Twitter too seriously.
But if you aren't valuing Facebook and Twitter, you might be missing out. Like it or not, social media is where much of our common societal discourse occurs. In many ways, social media like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and blogs have taken the place of the op-ed page of the newspaper. It's where we gather together in the digital age. Immediate and worldwide, it's where people connect, discuss, form opinions, challenge thoughts and pass on what's important to them. Like anything else, social media is a tool and how you use it and what you use it for determines its value. It's like learning to speak a new language. It takes practice, including knowing when to talk and when to listen. And social media can't be a substitute for personal, face-to-face relationships. But if you';re a Christian, I think you need to include social media in your evangelization.
I'm a Catholic writer and blogger with both Facebook and Twitter accounts. Most everything I post is about faith. But most of you reading this probably use social media for staying in touch with friends and family. What better place to share your faith than with the people in your life? Now before you say, "But I'm not a writer," or "I wouldn't know where to begin" ----let me offer you a starting place. This is an idea that's been around the net for a while, but I think it's a good starting point.
Tithe your posts and tweets. That's right, I said "tithe." As Christians, we already know the Biblical history of tithing our treasure to God. A tithe was a tenth of the animals and produce which the Israelites gave to the Lord's Temple. We're called to share a tenth of our gross income with the Church. Why not also dedicate a tenth of your postings and tweets to the Lord's work? Being a Christian means living and sharing our faith with others. What better place to share the Good News than where everyone is already gathering? You don't have to be a theologian or priest or Biblical scholar. Start out small. Share your favorite faith author or book. Post a link to the author or the book, but make sure it's a working link. Learn how to copy and paste URL addresses if you don't already know. Share a link to your favorite ministry or charity. You'll educate others about their work and the charity might benefit from a visitor's donation, too. Share Scripture quotes that are meaningful to you, but don't just post a verse. Tell your readers why this verse is important to you and how it's helped enrich your faith life. If you post verses without connecting them to your relationship with Christ, you'll miss out on making that person-to-person connection that's at the heart of ministry.
Wow. Did I just say "ministry"? Yep. Using social media to share the Gospel can be a ministry just like leading a prayer group or making sandwiches for a soup kitchen. Post a prayer need you might have. It can be something you want to share with others, or it can remain a private prayer intention. Be a witness to what Christ is doing in your life or in the greater life of your family or your parish. Don't be shy about sharing both the hills and the valleys of your faith journey. You're already sharing your vacations, family weddings, graduations and celebrations online---share your faith in Christ as well. And remember I suggested this was a tithing experience. Begin by sharing a tenth of your online presence to God. You'll be transformed when you invite Christ into your online life. You'll be a witness to the Gospel. You'll be enriched by the feedback you'll get from others. But be wary, too. Sharing your faith means you'll be challenged at times. You might even be ridiculed and mocked. Social media has a strong anti-faith presence. So be wary, but be fearless. Be like the Apostles and boldly share your love for Christ. Sow the seeds of the Good News in your corner of the internet and pray that the Holy Spirit will allow them to take root and bear good fruit. Working together for Him, we can help use the internet for His great purpose.
"In the world, you will have trouble. But have courage; I have conquered the world."---The Gospel of St. John 16:33
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Charlotte McGuffey, Salem Baptist Church
Rev. Mike Teague preached for us on Sunday morning. Several of our regular folks were away. Sunday night was to be our 5th Sunday sing with a concert by Dee Anna Witherow and celebrating of April birthdays afterward.
Jack Leigh and Charlie Bates are still in rehab. They both still need our prayers. We miss them so much.
At the time this column was written, Fae Ensley was very ill with pneumonia. Others on our prayer list are Tania Neal, Mary Eslinger, Holly Stockburger, Rev. Wayne Hamrick, Sherry Barbee, Brenda Callahan, Pat Bates, Janice Watkins, Stan McDowell and Jeanette Fleming.
The National Day of Prayer will be observed at the Ringgold Depot on May 3 from 12 to 1 p.m. There will be special music in addition to the speakers. Come join your neighbors and friends for this time of prayer.
Many people attended the ceremonies remembering the tornado of April 27, 2011 and all who suffered losses of lives, homes, health, livelihood.
I enjoyed attending the Ladies Tea at New Liberty Baptist Church with my mom, Barbara Ensley, on Saturday. Each table was beautifully decorated by its hostess. The men of the church served and did a great job. It was good to see Stan Dean and Rev. Glenn Cavin serving and having a great time. I enjoyed seeing Stella Cavin and daughter, Anita Peters, and other friends from through the years. I want to thank the hostess of our table, Brenda Branam, for her graciousness and hospitality. The speaker was Joy Martin and she did a great job.
Happy birthday to Leisa McDowell on May 1 and Frank Lunsford on May 9. Also, happy birthday to Pete Ware on May 1. He has caught up with me and we are the same age again!! Happy birthday to my mom, Barbara Ensley, on May 8.
In closing: To have a good friend is one of the highest delights of life; to be a good friend is one of the noblest and most difficult undertakings.
Margie Stringer, North Whitfield Baptist
We had a wonderful revival last week with Bro. Frankie Hunt form Grattis, Ohio. He had a death in his church after he left on his way down so he only preached through Thursday night and went on home. Bro. Mike Johnson preached on Friday night and closed out the revival.
We had visitors every night they all really did get blessed from the preaching. If you’ve never heard Bro. Frankie Hunt, I recommend you have him at your church.
Sunday was youth day and Bro. J.T. Sanders and Marty Bell preached Sunday morning and Bro. Tim Bryson preached Sunday night, it was a real blessing. Bro. Junior Bryson was his uncle and he’s following in his footsteps.
The Gordy reunion will be held Sunday at the Elsie Holmes Nature Park. Come out and be with them. William Gordy passed away and he was the last of the older generation.
Pray for Clyde and Glenda Painter. Glenda got a bad report last week and will find out this week about her treatments.
Last Saturday they had the Joplin Family singers reunion for Ma Joplin and each one that had ever sang or played with “Jop” were invited. Pray for “Ma” she is really getting feeble, she is 85.
My sister, Mildred, was 81 last Thursday. I went up Wednesday and spent about five hours and we both really enjoyed it. We talked ourselves to death then she fixed us a little lunch about 4 o’clock and then we talked till six. And we both had church Wednesday night so we had to cut it short.
We will have our ladies tea, Saturday at 4 p.m. Come out and be with us.
Pray for Polly Dilbeck, she is having some health problems. Pray for our sick folks. Norma Headrick is at home. There are some in the nursing homes, Allen and Vickie Dean are mostly shut in. Pray for L.D. and Linda Vaughn. Hubert Hawkins, Edna Allen.
Eddie is not feeling well at all. He has got to have gallstone surgery as soon as possible. Dale is not feeling too good either. Just pray for them.
Continue praying for Francis Kraus, she is having a real hard time these last few days. Kathy Ballew had to go to the E.R. Sunday evening, she’s had something wrong with her leg but it wasn’t a blood clot as we thought, but her blood pressure was sky high and they were really concerned about that.
Emma Jo Davis, Pleasant Valley Baptist Church
We were missing several in our services over the weekend. Collis and Joy Holcomb were away on vacation, also Dewayne and Wanda Hill were out of town on a business related trip. Alma Bryson was sick on Sunday, also Sarah Petty she was with her husband Kenny, who is very sick at this time. Lula Petty has not been well in several weeks and not able to be in church. We really did miss all of them in the service. Pray for the ones that are sick that they will be well soon and the ones on trips that they will get back home safely.
We were glad to see Dorothy Longwith in the service Sunday morning with her daughter, Ann. Remember them in your prayers as they try to adjust to life after the death of Arthur. I know it will be extra hard for Dorothy as she is not well. It was good to see Sue Walls in the service. They moved out of the area a few years ago but now they are back.
Sunday after the evening service will be the banquet celebrating the graduation with high honors of Heather Flood. Bring your finger foods and come be with us. This will be May 6th.
This Thursday, May 3 at noon at the Depot in Ringgold will be The National Day of Prayer. Hope to see a large number come out for this.
Wanda Hill will be having knee surgery one day this week, I think it is Thursday but not sure about that. Pray for her, that this will go well.
We send condolences to the Green family in the death of their loved one, Ronald Green.
We still need people to help in Vacation Bible school which will be July 16-20. We need to reach these kids while they are young and this is a good way to do it.
Norma Headrick is at home and seems to be doing good, at least better than she has been. Continue to pray for her and Thurman.
Others on our prayer list are: Dianne Hullender, Ellie Pitts, Lula Petty, Louise Clark, Faye Robinson, Carolyn Denton, Edna Allen, Elsie Disheroon, Jimmy and Joyce Blassingame, Bernice Orr, Benny Wilson, Kim Owens, Polly Wells, Holly Stockburger, Leon and Emma Lou Brown, our servicemen and women and our missionaries.
Thank the Lord for the good number that came to the benefit singing for Kim Owens on Friday night also for the money given to help with their medical needs.
Happy Anniversary to Harry and Dianne Hullender, May 3. Anthony and Nova Petty, May 6. Happy Birthday wishes to David Armour, May 4. Denise Pitts, May 5. Ashley Flood, May 7.