This month: 189 - Freedom in Christ
Exploring the Heart of Restoration

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Dan Bouchelle

Dr. Dan Bouchelle is President of Missions Resource Network. Prior to his current ministry Dan was the senior minister for the Central Church of Christ, Amarillo, Texas, pulpit minister for the Alameda Church of Christ, Norman, Oklahoma from 1994 to 2001 and ministered with the Northwest Church of Christ, Abilene, Texas, from 1988 to 1994. Dan earned his Doctor of Ministry, Master of Divinity, and Master of Arts degrees from Abilene Christian University. He received his Bachelor's degree from the University of Houston - Clear Lake. Dan serves as a member of Christian Relief Fund's Board of Trustees. He is author of When God Seems Absent: Studies in Ruth and Esther, published by ACU Press, and The Gospel Unleashed and The Gospel Unhindered, published by College Press. Dan and his wife, Amy, have three children. Email:


flagsIn the old Sci-Fi movies and comic books of my youth, every time an alien stepped out of their spaceship, their first words (inexplicably in English) were, “Take me to your leader.” Since there’s never been alien actual landing of space aliens (my apologies to Roswell and X Files fans), we really don’t know what an alien would say.

The old Sci-Fi writers told us told us nothing about aliens, but the did tell us a lot about ourselves. The told us what we would ask if we landed on another planet. They reveal to us just how obsessed we are with power. We want to know who’s in charge. This is is our constant obsession.

“Who is in charge around here?” It’s the first question we ask when something happens we don’t like. It’s obvious on Reality TV. Just think of Survivor, which is still on by the way. As soon as people form groups they select a leader to resent and resist. We call it politics and it’s everywhere. It is the constant negotiation of who gets their way. We believe in power. We must have a leader, boss, president, or king.

This is a strange belief for people who know their Bibles and story of Israel. Israel’s experience should’ve taught us that no King or human government can save us. No ruler can make us secure or prosperous over time. By the time of 1 Samuel 8, Israel has existed as a nation over 300 years without a King. They escaped Egyptian slavery without a king. All they needed was a prophet who spoke for the heavenly King. They conquered the Promised Land without a king. All they needed was a simple man named Joshua through whom God could work for a brief time.

For 3 centuries, Israel lived in Palestine as the only nation without a king. At times, they lived in peace and prosperity. At times, invaders overran and oppressed them. The difference was never about their government structure but about whether people trusted God or not. When people cried out in faith to God he would raise up an Ehud, Gideon, or Samuel to turn people back to him and lead Israel against their enemies. But as soon as leader’s work was done, he faded into background. Things went along well until the people forgot God and stopped trusting him as their King.

After 3 centuries, Israel decided it was time to copy the other nations and get a hereditary monarchy. They grew tired of the roller coaster ride of good times, bad times, repeat. They thought things would go better if they had a better leadership model than God as King.

What they didn’t get and we often miss is that a good people produce good leaders more than good leaders produce a good people. The best leaders among evil people can do very little to turn things around. The worst leaders among good people can do a fairly decent job.

Remember, when Jesus came, Israel didn’t recognize him and rejected him. Bad cultures don’t develop, recognize, or accept good leaders. Good cultures create and support good leaders. It is the character of the nation that determines it’s fate, not it’s leadership model. That is why some sports teams stay near top while coaches and players change. Others can’t succeed with a bench full of imported all stars. The same thing is true in business also. Leaders never make as much difference as we think. Few leaders can take people where they don’t want to go. Most nations have the leadership they deserve – especially democracies.

But Israel doesn’t understand its own history and thinks the path to enduring prosperity, national security requires a human King like other nations. Samuel is offended, not because they’re rejecting him and his weak sons, but because the people think the critical issue is in government instead of faithfulness to God.

God goes along and lets the people have a king. Often God’s punishment is giving us what we want. But, the problem isn’t with a king, per se. God can work with a king. The problem is people who don’t trust God for security and life. God could forbid Israel a king, but that would fix nothing because the problem is not with the form of government. Even monarchy works well with a just king and righteous people of faith. But, before God let’s Israel have a King, he has Samuel warn them what Kings do. It is summarized by the word “take.” He will take your money, crops, children, fields, all you have to enrich and empower himself. Israel will be trading freedom and blessing for illusory security and prosperity. All governments take more than they give and waste much of what they get.

Of course Israel would not listen and got what Samuel described. When Israel listened to God and obeyed him, things went well with a King. Most of time, Kings just accelerated Israel’s slide into faithless greed and sin. Israel eventually was undone by the kings they just had to have for prosperity and security. The monarchy left Israel conquered and in exile. So much for security and prosperity.

We would laugh at Israel’s foolishness if we were any wiser, but are we? Perhaps it is hard for us to learn from Israel’s story because we live in a democracy and haven’t had a king for over 200 years. We’ve bought the propaganda of Western democracies and believe our form of government isn’t just best, it is the only acceptable form (though it is not mentioned in scripture). We have even believed it worthy dying and killing to bring our form of government to other nations, whether they wanted it or not.

Most of us lived through Cold War and threat of global communism. We have some reasons to believe in our form of government. It has worked relatively well for us at times and I don’t know of a better model. But, saying our government is as good as its gets in this world isn’t much a compliment and may not be true even if I can’t name a superior alternative.

Few of us want to go back to a monarchy. It’s just too easy to abuse power in that model. But, just because Americans have given up on kings doesn’t mean we’ve given up thinking government can save us. We still believe we can fix things if we just get the right people in power. If you doubt me, just listen to the campaign rhetoric in our current election. But what evidence do we have any government will deliver on our hopes? Samuel warns us that our future will not be determined as much by who is in the White house as who is in our houses.

Into a leader-obsessed world, Jesus came preaching about a new government. Jesus basic message was about who will rule Mark 1:14-15 After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” Jesus’ message is not about how to go to heaven, but how to live under God’s reign, which happens to be eternal. Jesus called people to new way of life in God, not a renewed country or human government.

Israel did not need to get rid of Rome, it needed to trust God. When the true King arrived, he did not challenge the government directly and try to take over. But, Jesus was not understood in his day and is rarely understood in ours. He was killed because both Jewish and Roman rulers thought he wanted to be a earthly king and saw him as a threat. They did not get him at all. He wasn’t trying to change the government. He was trying to change the people. If that happens, the government will follow.

What Jesus said was very political, just not in the way people expected. Jesus did not come to fix human government—a top down solution. He came to teach us how to live under God’s reign now—a bottom up solution. Accepting Jesus invitation means we stop seeking solutions in the old way. It’s called repentance. We may love our country, but we shouldn’t trust it. If people draw near to God, our country and leaders will have to change to survive. That doesn’t mean we ignore our world and refuse to participate in political process, but we do so differently than the rest of the world. We speak truth to power and work for justice and righteousness where we can, especially speaking for powerless.

Godly rulers are better than godless, but both are greatly limited. As followers of King Jesus we don’t live under illusion any human ruler or president can save us. They are just as broken and human as we are. Despite their best intentions, they will misuse their power to serve themselves and their buddies. They all eventually resort to the abuse of power to get things done. They always take more than they give and are owned by the forces who financed their rise to power.

That’s why Jesus did not come to establish a human nation, not even the USA. God has something bigger and better in mind. God wants to reign over all our countries as king of kings. If you want a truly blessed life, stop looking to get it from people who can’t deliver it. No human system or leader is up to the job. Hillary can’t save us. Trump can’t save us. The T-party can’t save us. The democrats do not have the answers and the republicans are no better. Neither democracy nor free market economics will save us. No party deserves our trust because all of them care about power more than justice.

There is no one (male or female, black, white, brown or green) we can put in office who will fundamentally change the world in which we live through politics. We can adjust a policy here or there or try fix the laws which is good and needed. But in a country where 1 in 99 people are in prison, we should know better than to think we can fix what’s wrong with laws and law enforcement. You can’t make people love each other by power. If you could God wouldn’t have sent Jesus to the cross. The USA is not hope of world and we are not God’s chosen nation like Israel in OT.

I love our country–dangerously so. I especially love it when I’ve been outside it, which I am with some regularity. I miss our big cars, big plates of food, big highways, big drinks, and air conditioning. But our country, constitution, and form of government will never save the world. A nation of laws with checks and balances is worthless if its citizens do not embody the virtues that inspired those laws. While I pray for a president that loves Jesus and listens to his voice, I won’t be calling on the White House, state house, or any house to save me, bless me, or grant me life.

While I wouldn’t trade our country’s government with that of any other nation, neither do I confuse the USA with the Kingdom of God. I am weary of Christian leaders who talk like the most important thing the church can do to save America is manipulate the political process. I may be naive, idealistic, or just plane wrong, but I believe what Paul said in Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. I don’t think Paul was just talking about how to go to heaven, but about how to experience abundant life anywhere, any time, on either side of eternity.

If you want to help save America, don’t put your hope in a party or a candidate. They’ll only let you down when they get in power and show foolishness, arrogance, and corruption over time like their predecessors.  Instead, pray for your nation, obey our God, and invite others to join you in a love relationship with the only true King. Speak truth to power, defend the vulnerable, and work for justice regardless of who get’s elected. But don’t ever buy the lie that we can win at the ballot box what we’ve lost on the street.

The only hope for any nation is Jesus, regardless of what continent we are on, what language we speak, or who our leaders are. Salvation comes from confessing Jesus as Lord of Lords, King of Kings, and bowing to him only. It is in living under God’s reign now and refusing to give ultimate allegiance to any other ruler, king, or nation.

Thousands of Christians who faithfully prayed for their Roman rulers and obeyed all other Roman laws, were put to death because they refused to worship Caesar as a god or divinize the empire. Rome is gone but God’s people endure. While we wait for Jesus to return and finalize his kingdom, we can live now under the reign of God and enjoy abundant life regardless of our political situation. For those who follow Jesus, we have only one King and he alone deserves our trust and our allegiance. I pledge allegiance to Jesus Christ and his one kingdom, under God, invisible but with grace and justice for all.

facesincrowd_thumb[1]Every morning after tending to the dogs and getting my coffee, I sit down for some time alone with God and the Bible. I’ve done this more years than I can count. However, I’m finding the room increasingly crowded as the years go by. It seems not to matter what part of the Bible I’m in, I run into old friends waiting on me there. There are my old Bible professors and preachers I’ve heard through the years. My parents and grandparents are lurking about in most books with their repeated admonitions in hand. The faces of people I’ve counseled with specific texts pop up at times. The stories of joys or tragedies and the names of the people to whom they happened are there also. Then there are the elders and co-workers in ministry who show up when I come across a passage we lived through or argued about in some past day. I see pews full of faces from the congregations where I’ve preached as I read again scriptures that were texts for sermons delivered to them. As I said, my Bible is crowded.

Even more people fill the room as I open my Bible, many I’ve never even met. There are the composers and musicians who turned scriptures into aural art that  got imbedded in me.  There are authors of devotional books, theological tomes, commentaries, and special studies I’ve read through the years. Of course, the authors of the Biblical books show up along with the people to whom they were writing. And there are the great church leaders who raise their hands and demand to be heard when I come across passages which formed the foundation for their struggle with the church.

All these people are joined by the faces of people I’ve met in Latin America, Asia, Africa, and Europe who see different things in my Bible. I want to ask them what they are hearing and I’m naïve enough to think I may hear them tell me.

Yes, my Bible is crowded, so crowded at times that I wonder if I can hear God’s voice in it at all. Is there any room for God to speak in this crowded room I meant to be just me and him? Do all of these people who join us and make so much racket that I can barely hear the text block out God’s voice completely? I wonder some times.

Most of all, looming above all these other voices and faces is the Nephilim  known as my wishes rooted in my American consumer culture and willful nature. I want the Bible to say certain things to me. I want it to be the affirmation and vindication of my values. Any unoccupied words tend to get filled with my pre-conceived convictions. This voice often claims to be the voice of God and sometimes I believe it, God help me.

My Bible is crowded and if I’ve learned anything through the years it is that I can never read the Bible alone. Even when I am alone, I read my Bible in community. My Bible was preserved by others, translated by others, printed by others, interpreted and taught to me by others, and incarnated in the lives of still others. The attempt to have an exclusive encounter with God’s words is more than naïve, it is downright arrogant. Can I still hear God in all these other voices? Yes I think I can. In fact, that may be the only, or at least the best, way to hear God. It is all these voices that help me distinguish the Nephilim from the Lord. If I can’t convince most of those voices to be at peace with a reading, I’m probably on shaky ground thinking it is from God. Where the voices chime in together with an “Amen” I am on fairly safe ground.

So, yes, my Bible is crowded, just as it should be. Lord thank you for all the people who join us when it is just you and me together in a room with the Bible.

This post originally appeared on Dan’s blog back in January

MRN-logo“This day will go down as one of the most significant days in this history of this church. This is the first time I can recall that we have ever had all the elders, ministers, and missions members together in the same room talking about the mission of God.” So said one of the elders from one of a larger churches of Christ in Tennessee a few years ago after going through a Renewing Your Mission’s Vision workshop. As they learned, the church is a single piece of cloth and clarifying our mission has implication not only for what we fund globally, but how we think about who we are and what we are called to do locally.

Another elder in another city said “I had no idea what all was involved in sending a missionary family to another country” at the end of a church equipping process. Their congregation was preparing to send one family on a team to serve as underground disciple-makers in a communist country. They knew this team would need more than money. They would need support of many kinds to work in the conditions they would face. As they learned what it meant to be more than funders and true partners in mission, they also learned many useful skills for working in their own city and how to support their local ministers. When the process began, the prospective missionaries were suspicious about trusting their supporting elders. When it was over, the missionaries said, “We can trust these people with anything.”

A missionary family had to be evacuated from a war zone and the couple’s marriage was about to come apart after the strain they had endured. The stress surfaced a series of issues they had previously swept under the rug. The husband and wife could not even travel together because of the strain. They were landing in DFW on different days and were going to be met by a couple of representatives from their supporting church. But those good men felt overwhelmed to deal with the issues that were landing in their lap. So, they called us and we sent a pair of professionals with years of experience to do the initial debrief and provide counsel to both the couple and the supporting church. Today that couple’s marriage has been salvaged and they are on a good path as their family continues to deal with the inevitable stress of re-entry.

A ministry with a drilling rig was set up to provide a water well per week in an area of Africa where water changes everything. Wherever they put a well, they also ended up with a church and a healthier community. But, how could they find the funding they needed? We knew of another ministry that had found a successful way to raise money for holistic water drilling ministry, but they couldn’t drill wells fast enough to keep up with their donations. Their donors were getting restless because of the backlog. We introduce the two and a beautiful marriage took place and pent up ministry resources blossomed into active mission.

We get all kinds of calls. The questions are diverse

“I think God may be calling me to be a missionary but how do I know? What do I do if he is?”

“We have some missionaries coming home after a couple of decades and we don’t know what they need or what is next for us. Can you help us end this ministry well and discern the right vision for what is next?”

“We aren’t sure the mission we are supporting is really doing what it should be. How do we evaluate it fairly?”

Those are just the questions that come from American churches. As global churches continues to grow much stronger and faster than the American church, we get regular requests for help from our international brothers and sisters to know how to partner well with Americans who tend to underestimate them and at times insult unknowingly. Americans often come across as cold and controlling despite having good, generous hearts.

Missions Resource Network was created to help autonomous congregations work well together and serve a mission that is bigger than any one church can do well alone. We don’t tell any church what to do. We are not the experts with all the answers. But, we do come along side churches and other missions ministries to provide the perspective they often need. We recommend resources, ask good questions, connect people of common interest, and facilitate wiser methods and better partnerships.

Forming in 1998 to help churches do missions better, MRN was established to do four things that were not being addressed adequately within our fellowship:

  1. Equip churches to be excellent sending and supporting congregations for global transformation.
  2. Train front-line workers who will advance the mission, help them form as teams, and get on the field.
  3. Provide missionary care resources for churches and missionaries before they are sent, as they serve, and when they return so that those who go are healthy, stay healthy, and come back healthy.
  4. Build networks and partnerships between congregations and ministries for greater strategic impact and less duplication.

We have trained missionary teams for every populated continent and work collaboratively with indigenously led churches around the world as well. In order to help churches, we have a staff of experienced missionaries and global church leaders. We have trained therapists with extensive global experience. We have directors of missions in Europe, Africa, and Asia who have lived on those continents for years and have trained and coached missionaries through the full life-cycle of their work. We have experienced church leaders who have worked international and domestically who can help churches understand the times, global trends, and the proper role for the American church today in a rapidly shifting global context.

The reality is that God’s mission is too big for us to do alone and too important not to do well. What God is doing in the Congo, Croatia, or Cambodia have great significance for what he wants to do on our continent as well. We can no longer assume that we know how to do church in America and just export our product to the rest of the world. Rather, we need to humble ourselves and learn from the global church and find our place with the universal church. American churches are filled with good people and many gifts and resources that the global church needs. But, the global church also has resources and gifts to share with us. Yet, without someone who is deeply connected to a global network, most churches will not be able to hear those voices or learn those lessons.

MRN is designed to stand in that gap. We are like a point guard in basketball. We don’t count our success by points scored but by assists given. We make it possible for others to work as a team by distributing the ball to the right players. We don’t call plays. That is the job of our coach Jesus. But, we do try to get the resources people need in their hands at the right time so they can succeed.

We are here to help churches. How can we help you?

If you would like to contact MRN for assistance with your congregation, mission work, or any other mission-related concerns you can contact them at this link – Contact MRN.

Way back in 1982 when the earth’s crust was still cooling and the T-Rex walked among us, Amy Grant recorded a song called “Fat Baby” on her epic Age to Age album. It was a playful rebuke of Christians who constantly take in spiritual food at church with a constant craving for more, but who never do anything with it. It portrayed some believers as perpetual spiritual infants who sit in high chairs to be spoon fed by clergy. Rather than the church being a people living out a mission, this song pictured the church as an overfed, underworked, developmentally-delayed infant by choice.

Well, that song may have been something of an exaggeration, but many of us who have served in congregational ministry have had similar thoughts. When church gatherings become a passive experience people attend for their own enjoyment (i.e. to “get fed”) instead of equipping events for living out mission, we should not be surprised when we end up with a lot of petulant, puffy, Peter Pans.

“Going to church” can feel like getting stuck in the 5th grade forever. How many times can we study Genesis or Romans before we move on to doing something? The missional move has been a needed corrective and we do need to get people out of the building in service. But, what is less often considered is that we need to change what we do when we gather as well. We still tend to over-teach our people and under-train them.

The typical highly involved church member gets lots of Bible study, but they tend to get it at a surface level. They get a lesson in Bible class, another in the sermon, and another at mid-week in a class or small group. Then they likely have a women’s or men’s group and often their own personal Bible reading. However, the typical church does not align their teaching or sequence it in any way. There is no developmental aspect or tying it together with a larger purpose. Even more rare is the church that provides any meaningful training to their teachers. It shows. We just assume more Bible will produce better believers. Yet, experience shows us that information rarely leads to transformation without some form of imitation. That means working it out deeply with others in reflection and practice.

What we need is less surface Bible study and more in-depth encounters that lead to practice. One way this can be done is to align the preaching, Bible classes, and small groups so that they cover the same material but in different aspects and take the church through an in-depth journey together. The preacher who is studying to prepare sermons can easily write curriculum for Bible classes that takes the study to a deeper level (with staff help). He uncovers far more material than he can fit meaningfully into a sermon anyway. That is why he typically preaches too long. If the classes are extensions, he can trust some of the background people need will be covered there and speak more about relevant application. Then small groups can process what people are doing during the week to obey what the church is learning together. It can be practical confession, reporting on progress, sharing of wisdom and experience, and community forming as it builds on the assumed learning happening on Sundays.

To make this workable, Preachers have to be released from preparing additional classes on other subjects. They have to be viewed not just a feeders or expert speakers but as trainers. We need to teach people to feed themselves and feed others. In this model, the preacher becomes an equipper of teachers and small group leaders who can lead training classes for Bible class and prepare the materials for people to process. Then instead of people learning 4 or 5 unrelated things each week, all of which are soon forgotten because there is no means of application, the church learns a few things well together and the door is opened wide to visible, obvious means of putting what they learn into practice in real and meaningful ways. Now we have something to come back and celebrate and that celebration feeds into the mindset that we learn in order to do rather than learn in order to learn (Ephesians 4:11-16)!

There are numerous challenges to making this switch. First, churches must accept that they need to do less and do it better. It means churches must study fewer topics but study them deeper. It means releasing the preaching minister and related staff from other duties to be an equipper and not just expert proclaimer to passive listeners. Finally, it means that we create the expectation that our teaching will lead to obedient action which we can then process together, pray over in small groups and celebrate as a congregation when God uses us to do His will in the world. When the teaching ministry is aligned in this way, we can get past the Fat Baby syndrome and better prepare our people to live out the gospel by deeper training.

One warning: Many churches have a value system that will scuttle any such move. Because we often value a traditional way of doing things, we carry that value out to the neglect of 99 other more important things. Or, because we value “sound doctrine” so much we don’t even give room to put our faith into action in meaningful ways. This is likely one of the reasons why so many young people leave the church…we have made little to no attempt to connect what we are talking about with what is going on in the real world or how they can be a part of something meaningful and self-less.

The key here is giving up on the old modern notion that insight is cure. It is not. One distinctive insight from the Gospel is that until truth assumes flesh and takes action in the world commensurate with that truth, nothing meaningful happens. We are embodied creatures who believe in resurrection. Our teaching needs to get out of our buildings and take form in the world. The way we do that teaching should be commensurate with that belief. That means, how much we know is less important than how much we do with what we know.

Shame. That is what I felt when I finally came out of my fog of denial and admitted to myself how deeply I had let the roots of social media to grow into my sense of self. Shame and revulsion. Something had to change. I had begun to chase the fix that came with every retweet, share, “like” or “favorite.” I found myself getting anxious if I posted something that didn’t generate much response. This dis-ease could be compounded exponentially when paired with the fluctuating traffic on my blog which I tried to drive through social media. I awoke one day to the fact that I had become a social media addict in need of an intervention and rehab. I was neglecting my family and ministry for artificial connections with cyber-ciphers who created the illusion of relationship without the demands of incarnational interaction.

How did it happen? Slowly. I was reluctant to get involved in the Facebook phenomena and even slower with Twitter. I saw it as dangerous and narcissistic at first and did not get on any social media until well into 2009. Even when I got on, I used it sparingly until I had a “legitimate” reason—serving God.

In 2010 I left congregational ministry for the para-church world. All of a sudden I was in a new world without a regular group of people showing up for stuff I planned to say and do each week. How could I get the word out about what we were doing at Missions Resource Network? How could we fulfill our mandate to equip churches to serve the mission of God if they didn’t know we were here or what we offered? How would prospective missionaries know we offered training or care if they never heard of us? Social media looked like the perfect platform: a readymade tool for promoting legitimate ministry.  And it was and is.

The marketing experts who train people like me who work for non-profits say you have to be in the social media. People don’t give to causes or organizations anymore. People give to people they trust who are advocating for values and causes they embrace.  To get their support, you have to establish yourself as a thought leader. How do you do that? Blogging, I was told. OK, I didn’t have time when I was preaching and couldn’t afford to waste the few ideas I had on a blog then, but now I had no other place to share what was bubbling up inside me and I was used to writing out thoughts every week.

Blogging was natural and easy. I was told the strategy was to get people to go from your blog to your organization’s website or to bring you in as a speaker. But how do you get people to your blog? Social media. And, you can’t just post your blog on social media, you have to be out there regularly and attract a following by being engaging, funny, and sharing useful stuff that isn’t always about your ministry. Got it. Create a social media presence with a following, move them to my blog (which must also be personal and vulnerable)), and then move readers to your website and your ministry. That will open up ministry opportunities and potential donors.

It made sense and it worked. I enjoyed it, a lot, too much in fact. What I didn’t take into consideration is what regular engagement on social media could do to me. It is addictive, especially to a praise junky like myself. I liked the attention without the demand that goes with congregational ministry. I found that being vulnerable and confessional was too close to narcissistic obsession for me to resist.  I learned that my addiction to attention cultivated as a preacher could become even unhealthier online. Next thing you know, social media and blogging began to pull me away from the people I loved and pulled me away from being the man I wanted to be.

So, what do I do about that reality that I need social media and blogging to advance my ministry in our current culture? I’m still working that out, but I’m more careful now.

  1. I had to stop blogging for a while. I took a hiatus of several months and stopped posting to my former blog which had generated something of a following. After several months away, I did start blogging but on a new site that is less personal and more ministry/missions focused. I want to be the guy holding the camera, not the guy on camera.
  2. I took Facebook and Twitter apps off my iPhone and iPad and stopped leaving them up on my desktop. I intentionally make myself go through several steps to get to them so it is a bother. In addition, I’ve set boundaries around my usage both in terms of frequency and content.
  3. I stopped carrying my iPhone around with me at home. When I walk in the door, it goes on a little desk in our kitchen by my wife’s. None of us have our phones on us at home. We restrict our 11 year old daughter’s use of hers to the weekend. I don’t check my phone unless I have a specific reason and then only rarely. No just browsing social media to see what’s going on. Even phone calls and texts can wait until my family is attended to appropriately.

I can testify that my family life is better now. I am a more fully present, loving husband and father who spends more time attending to others instead of wondering what people out there think about this or that. Prayer and peace are richer and more frequent.

I am thankful for social media and related internet outlets that make sharing, learning, and finding information easy. However, I found that my love of attention and capacity for self-deception require I be extremely cautious about how I use them. They are like alcohol. They may not be inherently immoral and may have some good uses, but they are profoundly dangerous and can cause you to make a fool of yourself and can even destroy your life through abuse quicker than you imagine. And, it is really hard to know when enough is enough. Good boundaries are essential if you are going to partake. So, use with caution.