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It may come to a surprise to some, and not to others, that I am a social media junkie. For many people who are shut in, social media can create an important sense of contact and engagement with the outside world. Certainly that was the case for myself, when on October 17th 2007 my world as I knew it came crashing down around my ears.On that day I collapsed at work, paralyzed on the right side, had a high temp around 40 degrees Celsius and was hospitalized for the next 52 days. There I was to learn to walk, talk and do things that I had normally taken for granted. My time in hospital and upon was a mixture of pain and joy.
I was to be later diagnosed three separate times as having Multiple Sclerosis and was three times later told that I didn’t. (The first time was in the morning 2 hours before I was to sit my major Greek exam) Needless to say I didn’t perform very well in that exam, having the doctors diagnosis echoing between my ears. Eventually they came up with the diagnosis that I suffered an acute form of viral encephalitis. When I was released from hospital, I needed to go shopping in a wheel chair. I needed a shower chair to shower in. And I was to go through a darker time of abuse, a time which you can read more about here.
However I digress. Social media in all its forms became an important part of my life. While I was housebound it allowed me to engage and have contact with the outside world. Not only was I able to be encouraged; I was also able to encourage others. Over the years I have made some very close friends from those I first met online. And I was later to meet the woman who was to become my wife through Face Book.
Social media become a ministry tool. One where I was to develop online friendships and friends with other students, scholars, pastors, and those interested in sharing their life. In many ways social media became a methodology of learning. One where a variety of scholars would blog their interests, current thoughts and teachings on a variety of subjects. On that note, I too was able to contribute by blogging my own thoughts, research, life experiences and ideas. But more importantly then the ideas that were imparted – it was the sense of getting to know people behind the cyberspace facade that was more important.
When others shared of their pain, I was able to encourage and pray. Social media become a platform to engage in life with others. To speak life into others. To hear the pain of others and to take those people to the throne room of heaven and lift them to the Lord. It become a frontier where I was able to share the grace of Christ, to talk about Christ and one that I can acknowledge the Lord used as a vessel to cause others to come and know him as their personal savior.
BUT. Social media also has its downside. I have an addictive personality. I can’t help myself. I am always scrolling through my feed wondering what will come next. I’m always happy to get involved in the conversation about climate change. Church. Global disasters. Wars, wars, and rumors of wars. And a plethora of other stuff that in and of itself maybe not bad; but, overall becomes consuming.
Those who know me well, know that I am a complex, yet simple person. I enjoy a joke. Indeed one wag recently told me I had a wicked sense of humor. There are times I like to play the devils advocate. There are times I like to stir the pot. There are times when I want to cry and be serious. But, overall, the cry of my heart is to be an encourager in the service of the Lord.
Recent times have seen me becoming more critical then I like. I’m becoming miffed at those I disagree with, even angry. The overload of images of war and terrorism has impacted my soul. The fear of terrorism on our soil and the confusion of working through the issues of moderate / radical Islam here in our own country has an impact. Both on myself, family and those I engage life with. I have seen images, watched videos which I wish I never laid eyes on. I hear on one hand the voices of moderate Muslims speaking out about their own understanding – yet watch videos of their preachers (Even here in Australia) saying and encouraging things which the moderates claim they don’t believe. Social media is echoing and reflecting the mess that the world is in. Then there is the stuff about climate change. The world is going to end, the alarmists tell us. The world is going to end the religious tell us. The world is going to end the war haters and mongerers tell us.
I’m seeing unprecedented conversations of racism, hatred, fear, extremism, pain, heartache and criticism which is interspersed with times of joy, happiness, encouragement, Godliness and prayer fullness. And I am tired. Bone weary, soul weary tired.
I am hearing the Lord whisper to my soul. “Craig, come to me, for my yoke is easy, my burden is light! Come to me, for you are overloaded with the cares and worries of the world – come and spend time with me.”
So for a period of time, I am deactivating my Facebook account. I am going to fast from cyberspace overload. During this time I will still be contactable via email, phone and face to face conversations. And during this time, I will still be praying for you all. Blessings. Craig B.
Its my wife’s birthday today. I wont share her age, because I am a gentleman, and that’s not something gentlemen do. She asked me yesterday if I would write a blessing for her, speak it over her and give it to her, so she could keep it in her Bible and refer to it often. Scripture talks a lot about blessing. Indeed one of the major activities of the priesthood in the OT was to stand above the people, reach out their hands, and speak what is known as the Aaronic blessing over them.
I am upfront about being Pentecostal in experience and practice. That is I believe that the gifts of the Spirit still exist today. And so not only did I prayerfully seek to write out a blessing for my wife, I also sought the Lord for a specific prophetic word for her. Now I want to be upfront, that I think much of the modern pentecostal approach to prophecy borders on the same wavelength as someone reading their stars regularly in the local newspaper. We find in the Scriptures all we need for life and faith. In saying this, the very same Scriptures which we find life and faith, also tell us not to scoff at the prophetic word, and that we are also to be eager to seek all gifts, especially that we may prophecy.
So, to be obedient to the direct command of Scripture, its something that I seek the Lord time to time to do. And after a time of seeking the Lord, I wrote down the word which came to me for my wife. Now, I am upfront in admitting that I wasn’t writing scripture. The canon is closed. But hey, lets admit, that not every prophecy of the early church was ever written down in Scripture either – so lets not pretend that we are equating modern prophecy to Scripture, after all the early church in the NT, never made that claim either.
I also did something different. I got out Jo’s scrap booking stuff and made her a card. I was truly out of my depth here and so I prayerfully asked God to help me. I’m glad to say, he answered my prayer and together we managed to put a nice card together, in which I pasted the word and blessing I had typed out.
This morning, I made a batch of my own secret recipe pancake mix, which contains oats, wholemeal flour, butter and milk and allowed it to rest. I believe in the power of symbolism. So I then went outside and made a staff.I took my knife and debarked a branch and smoothed it down; while Jo had herself a nice long hot bath and enjoyed a bath bomb. Some time later, she got out of the bath, prepared herself and stood in the middle of the lounge room, prayerfully expectant for her blessing.
I picked up my staff and raised it in the air. And while holding it up, I spoke over her the word which I believed the Lord was giving me for her. (And no, I wont share that with you here…that is Jo’s business.) I then finished speaking forth the prophecy and proceeded to speak the blessing over her. I gently laid the end of the staff on her shoulders and the top of her head and spoke forth the blessing I wrote for her. And when I finished, I handed her the card with the prophecy and blessing.
It was an incredible experience for us both. It was humbling and powerful. It was encouraging and a time of mutual strengthening. It was something that neither of us took lightly. And afterwards I was thinking about Paul’s exhortation to the Ephesians for husbands to wash their wives with the word. And I am left wondering, if indeed, this kind of activity is what the Apostle Paul was intending when he wrote to them.
There is a great little story in the Bible about a character called Jabez. Jabez means pain, or born in pain, and was a name his mother called him during his birth.
Scripture only gives us a few lines about him, saying that he was more honorable than his brothers, and cried out to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” And God granted his request.
Think about the power of this prayer. His life is one of pain. His experience of life is pain. His family called him a pain. And so he asks God to expand his experience of life so that its not one of pain. Keep me from harm so I will be free from harm so I will be free of pain.
He is asking God to bless him and deliver him from his painful experience of life. He is asking God to deliver him from himself.
Today, maybe your own experience of life is that of total pain. Perhaps, like Jabez, you can ask the Lord to bless you, and enlarge your own life experience so that you are delivered from the pain of self.
Jesus says, come to me all who are sick of living life their own way. Come, follow me, put my ways into practice, and I will give you a new way of living.
My phone packed it in. The socket where you put the charging cord in has broken. And it picked a great time to do so, on the eve of my going on a 3 day school camp with my youngest son. Nooooo. It was hard being away from the seduction of email, blogging and facebook. Even worse, it was harder not being able to contact my wife.But, I was able to send a message to my dearest via my son’s Ipod, while utilising free wifi at a museum on the Wednesday and retrieving her message back to me at Parliament House on the Friday afternoon.
Our contracts were up on our existing phones and sadly we were not able to match the previous deal – the contract had kinda and kinda not expired 18 months before, which was with Crazy Johns, and Vodafone who had taken the company over, was trying to get us to take on a new one. I can’t say I blame them.. we had two phones for $55 with a very generous calling, texting and data allowance. Vodafone finally sent us a letter saying that contract would expire in mid Sept. I could have fought them on this, as our contract with Crazy Johns was an open ended contract – where it says we could keep that deal going as long as we liked while using those phones.
But, we had decided to go with another carrier, as their service wasn’t up to par. Eg, we couldn’t receive calls in many parts of our home. And when we were away, we found we couldn’t use our phones most of the time we were away.
Anyways.. We sorted out our new carrier and I decided on a Galaxy S5. Now I’m re installing all my previous contacts..and this time, am going to make sure I keep a hard copy of them on my puter. Life would be so much easier if I had done the same for my previous phone.
A friend was put on the spot, when someone asked her to tell her life story in one sentence. She goes onto say that we can put our story to a song, or a book, but a sentence is extremely hard.
What about you, can you put your life story to a sentence. If you can, how about sharing it with us.
My sentence is, “I am a normal Aussie bloke, who has lived and experienced a not so normal life.”