The Pros and Cons of Social Media For a Teenager

With the rise of smartphones that are out there now and the advancement of technology, we are greeted with a plethora of apps to enhance the connectivity we have with one another. But with this rise of connectivity via a screen, in the long run, does it help or hurt the user? Recent data has surfaced that though we are more connected than ever before, we are actually more alone than ever before too.

My wife Alyssa and I do not have any teenagers yet but our daughter is approaching that age quickly. Today she even asked if she could create Youtube videos! I am excited about her creativity and ambition, but I am nervous too. What are the pros and cons of social media for a teenager? As a parent, we need to think about the use of social media and the effect it as on us before we are so quick to answer with a yes or no.

Pro #1- Connectivity

“The world is flat” as David Friedman declared in his book of the history of the 21st century. He was using this statement to show that we are more connected with the world than ever before. We can communicate instantaneously with others around the world. This is amazing instead of waiting for a letter which takes days, weeks, and even months; we wait seconds.

Teenagers today can communicate with family and friends who live in other states and even different countries. They can see pictures of those loved ones, comment on them, and share their own pictures with others.

Pro #2- Awareness

Not only can we connect with the world faster than ever we also receive news faster than ever before. The major news conglomerates now utilize social media as the main source of reporting news. The news is not only produced quickly but is rapidly being shared. We can know more of what is going on around the world than ever before, faster than ever before.

One can easily see a live car chase happening by just going on Facebook rather than turning on the T.V. and trying finding the right news channel covering it. We can hear the news to be more aware of what is going on and be more mindful of others because of this awareness.

Pro #3- God Glorifying

With all the technological advances that has happened throughout history such as the roads that Romans built, the printing press, and now the internet there is so much potential to share the Gospel with the world with whom we are connected with.

We can and should use technology for the sake of God’s glory. I have written in the past about how we can do this here. The believer uses the tools at his disposal to share the Gospel and point to God’s glory. A post can be used to share an encouraging Bible verse or share the Gospel.

These are a few of the pro’s but what about the con’s?

Con #1- False Reality

The danger with social media is the idea of what you see is the reality. The truth is most of social media is a partial reality or an enhanced reality. The user can manipulate what others see. I would suggest girls would struggle with this more than boys. The images that are being portrayed is not real but enhanced by filters.

When image is already a sensitive subject for teenagers, social media can pour gas on the fire of comparison. The danger of coveting comes into the heart. What you see is not what you get, but an enhanced version. One may be tempted to compare to that reality and then look at their own life in despair and discontentment.

Con #2- FOMO

FOMO (Fear of missing out) is a real thing that has been studied because of the rise of social media. I have written a little more extensively on FOMO.

Because of the connectivity and the awareness that social media offers there is also the fear of missing out on something. This can be when one was invited to something but unable to attend because of other obligations so they miss out. There is also the fear of missing out because one was just not invited. This is when you feel left out or not part of the group. You missed out!

There was still the fear of missing out before social media existed, it can not be used intentionally or unintentionally to celebrate what was one part of and bragged about what you missed out on. Social media has now magnified this as we can see the highlight reel of everyone’s life.

Con #3- Loneliness

Though we are more connected than ever before research has shown that we are also more lonely than ever before. Giles Slade shares in his book The Big Disconnect: The Story of Technology and Loneliness, that with the rise of different technological advances that make life easier, we have not moved away from personal connectivity. Talking in person is less and less while screen communication is expected more.

With the rise of social media there is an interesting link between the rise of depression among teenagers. Jean Twenge, author if iGen offers a correlation with the rise of social media there is a rise of depression and suicide. This rise has impacted boys but significantly girls. From 2011 is has grown rapidly where one out of every five girls reported symptoms of a major depressive episode.

Con #4- Danger

There is also the danger of pedophiles and cyberbullying. Teenagers who can be suspectible to these predators online. That is why it is important for parents need to be involved in their teenagers social media lives.

The rise of cyberbullying is a serious threat. The autonomy of being able to hide behind a screen and yet threaten someone without any regard is disturbing. These are realities that come with social media.

The Bigger Picture

Before we storm into the rooms of every teenager and delete their accounts it is important for parents to teach through this. There is a proper balance where we protect children from danger and malicious behavior but we also want to teach children how to handle these con’s to social media.

The best way to teach a teenager in response to all of this would be to remind them and show them that a believer’s identity is founded in Christ (Gal. 2:20; Eph. 2; 1 Peter 2:9). Remind them that a Christian’s worth and purpose is defined by Jesus and not by us or others. This reassures them that they do not need to compare nor worry about missing out. Yes, that happens but how do we respond when those moments occur? We run to the Lord!

A parent is a disciples their children. The best way to help our children who are growing up with screens as part of life is to teach them how to handle them safely, mindfully, and God glorifying. Again, be involved, have those conversations, have access to their accounts, be their friend on their account to monitor.

Lead With…

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A pastor is a leader. A pastor is a shepherd who is called to lead a group of people in growth with the Lord. He is to equip them for good works, and to live out the Gospel in their communities.

There are many great resources regarding Christian leadership. Pastor Craig Groeschel has a wonderful podcast on it. The President of Gateway Seminary, Jeff Iorg also has books and a podcast on leadership. Both I highly recommend. I do by no means have all the answers but wanted to share a new blog series called “Lead With.” I will describe important leadership convictions that I have learned through the years of pastoral ministry.

1)    Teach change to make change

I am convinced that the Biblical model of church which is shared in Acts 2 reflects this. The early church was faced with some insurmountable odds. The culture was against them, the Jewish religious leaders were against them. Despite the resistance, what mattered was the Word of God being taught.

When we worship the Lord through the corporate reading and teaching of God’s word something happens; there is unity of hearts and minds. We stir one another up for good works as we meet on the Lord’s Day (Hebrews 10:25). Teaching change leads to change. True and lasting change takes time. The Lord does a change in the heart when the “why” is biblically taught.

2)    The Gospel is attractive enough

We do not need to add more to this great truth! There is enough competing to get their attention of the people in your church. Pastor Dustin Benge tweeted recently, “Your people have been entertained to death this week. 27 hours of television, 24 hours of computer, 15 hours of cell phone, and 12 hours of radio.” The church has Jesus, the risen Savior who loves the church, died for the church, is for the church. We have that message to share with the community that Christ came to save sinners. This news out weighs, is greater than, and better than anything they will eve here. Jesus is enough!

Remember, what you win them with you win them to. This means you may get a crowd but you will constantly live in this cycle of having to outdo yourself each time to keep them. Yes, you may get people at the church but most events do not keep people at the church. What keeps them is the life-giving message of the Gospel taught and then shared through relationship. This fuels the flames of evangelism.

Jesus is and the one who builds His church (Matthew 16:13—26). Seek this great truth as you love one another and those in the community. As you live out the Gospel and are changed by the Gospel that is attractive to others (and can be offensive to some, Matthew 13:57).

4)    Trust takes time to build, can easily be lost, and shouldn’t be taken for granted

I have been placed in new situations with new people before and I know trust is not always given quickly. It must be earned and proven. Trust develops through relationships of honesty and transparency. The serious role of a pastor comes with great responsibilities that should not be taken lightly. The pastor is the under-shepherd to the Chief Shepherd, Jesus. The pastor is to steward of the flock that God has given him. I am reminded that I am held accountable to God for not only handling the word of God but with how I shepherd the flock God has given me. 

Trust is built and takes time; it can quickly be lost. Surround yourself with those who hold you accountable and encourage you to go forward. The message of the Gospel does not need to be given a black eye. The world is watching and we strive together for God’s glory through the relationship that the church has with one another. The bride of Christ is the church (Ephesians 5:32).  

What’s Your Resolution?

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It is a new year and with that comes a time of excitement for what lies ahead and thankful for what is behind you. At the beginning of every year I try to look at goals and resolutions that I may have. I reflect on the ones I made the year before and look at how well I kept or failed with those resolutions.

What is it with a new year and thinking of a new start? The most common resolutions are to lose weight, quit some kind of addiction/habit like smoking, and getting out of debt. These are not bad but I try to focus more even on the root of the problem such as idolatry and a misguided heart.

Jonathan Edwards, the famous New England pastor and Theologian of the eighteenth century would always write and add to his resolutions. He ended with 99 different resolutions that he lived his life by.

I have chosen a few of his resolutions to focus in on for this year. (The numbers represent the order they appeared on his list).

#19-Resolved, never to do anything that I should be afraid to do if I expected it would not be above an hour before I should hear the last trumpet.

Personally, I have never been physically close to death’s door but as a pastor, I have had my fair share of experiences of the death of others. At times it was expected because of their age or health. But, then there are the unexpected moments that an accident or unforeseen event took place. Either way, it is hard and when you are around death you can’t help but contemplate your life and purpose. Here Jonathan Edwards thought is not only about death but living in the moment of death. Would this be acceptable to God if I were to do this, talk this way, or think this way?

I want to live in such a way, every moment, where God will say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:23)!

#34 Resolved, never to speak evil of any, except if I have some particular good call for it. 

The Apostle Paul reminds us, “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:31-32). 

I never thought of slander as speaking ill of someone which comes from a bitter heart. I thought of it as making a false allegation about someone. But as Paul points out, it is speaking ill from a bitter heart. There are times that I complain about someone or something they did. That is slander. And, sometimes my complaint is not just to myself but to other people. At that moment I not only slandered but also gossiped when it wasn’t necessarily needed.

This doesn’t mean that I assume that everyone is good nor calling someone out is wrong. What it does mean is that I will need to choose what I say more carefully. And, most importantly look within about the motive of why I am saying what I am saying. Does what I am saying glorify God? Does it help that person? Does it bring that person closer to the Lord? Will the person hearing this news be brought to glorify God?

#28 Resolved, to study Scripture so steadily and constantly and frequently as that I may find, and plainly perceive myself to grow in the knowledge of the same. 

God’s word is Holy and inspired. It reveals to us the character of God and what He desires. The Bible shows us God’s heart for mankind. God’s word is a lamp unto my feet and light unto my path (Psa. 119:105).

Not only as a pastor but as a Christian I desire to know God more and the best way to do that is to study the Bible. As a Christian, I also desire to grow in understanding which comes by the Holy Spirit illuminating the Bible.

Do you spend time each day to read and study the Bible? I am thankful that this habit has been instilled in me early on in my Christian life.

#43 Resolved, never henceforward, till I die, to act as if I were on my own, but to act entirely and altogether God’s.

Our lives are in the hands of God. I can try to live independently of God but regardless of that, He is still in charge. As Jonathan Edwards wrote this resolution to live and act knowing that God is sovereign so should I. I am God’s child, His servant, and friend (Galatians 4:6; Mark 10:45; John 15:14).

Every breath I take is from God and he is aware of it. With every step I take, God knows. When we walk circumspectly as a Christian we are knowing that we are God’s and He has us in His hands.

These are just a few of the resolutions that I have written down for this year. I want to reflect on these often and then inwardly watch how I have followed or grown complacent in these areas.

The Gift That Keeps on Giving

Everyone probably has received one of those gifts that you either will never use or ever wear. The person who gave it may have had the best intentions yet they just don’t know you. The best gifts are not only the ones that you want but the ones that you can keep on using.

What would be a gift that keeps on giving? Maybe it would be a gym membership, or a monthly jam or jelly subscription (yes, they do exist). At our house we joke that when someone is sick, it is a gift that keeps on giving, as the sickness gets passed around from person to person.

The best gift that one can ever receive is Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul writes, “Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift” (2 Cor. 9:15)! Paul uses the word inexpressible because our vocabulary fails to give the proper meaning of the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. 

This gift is not a one time gift, but continuously is given to us through Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. This gift not only is presently given but it is for all eternity. How is Jesus the gift that keeps on giving? In the letter to the church in Galatia, Paul mentions the working of salvation or the gift of why Christ came?

He writes, But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God (Galatians 4:4-7 ESV).


Galatians, which very similar to the book of Romans, addresses that aspect of why Christ came and what does it all mean? Jesus came, born under the law to save those who are under the law (Gal. 4:4-5). We can see three aspects to what Christ has done in this passage.

First,  The Gift of the Work of the Son 

At the perfect time, Christ came onto the scene both historically and personally. He did not came late or early but when the “fullness of time” came, Jesus was born in Bethlehem. The same is true that the Gospel was presented to you and you believing and confessing Christ as Lord was part of God’s sovereign and perfect plan. 

The work that Jesus Christ, the Son gives us is adoption and redemption. Adoption in a Greco/Roman culture was significant. It usually happened when a wealthy man who didn’t have any children would then adopt one of his slaves. The slave then would become a child of the owner and receive the inheritance from the wealthy man. 

This is the picture of what God has done with us through Jesus Christ. We were the slaves to sin yet God in his grace and mercy through the work of Jesus Christ we have become not only free from sin but also adopted as God’s children. 

Second, The Gift of the Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit gives gifts to the believer to be able to glorify God, proclaim the Gospel, and edify the saints. Yet, Paul isn’t referring to those gifts in this passage. He is referring to the ability to call out to God, “Abba Father.”

This calling out is a passionate plea with God that we can draw near to Him because of the work of the Holy Spirit. “Abba Father” is equivalent to saying “Daddy” or “Papa”. Jesus had this relationship with the Father and because of the work of Jesus we can too (Mark 14:36). 

Third, The Gift of Sonship

Paul reiterates in this passage in Galatians about the importance of adoption into the family of God. In verse 7 hr writes, “So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.” The strength of knowing that you went from a slave to a son or daughter of God is huge. You didn’t just go from a slave to a free person. You were brought to the nearest positionally relationally to God than ever possible because of what Jesus has done for us.

Sinclair Ferguson mentions the importance of  Sonship for the Christian by saying, “The notion that we are children of God, His own sons and daughters … is the mainspring of Christian living … Our sonship to God is the apex of creation and the goal of redemption” Not only as sons and daughters but as co-heirs with Christ (Rom. 8:16-17). 

Thank God for his inexpressible gift, Jesus Christ who keeps on giving now and forever! 

How Should a Christian Respond to Civil Authority

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We just got done with our civil duties of voting. For us in California, it was a time to prayerfully vote for those who we would like to see in governing powers across our state. As many may know that California is a blue state. It would seem this election time it was more blatantly shown the democratic direction .

There are many opinions on the outcome of this election. Some who are excited to those who are wanting to leave the state as they seemed to have lost hope and are in despair for the future of the state of California. Does the Bible address these concerns? If so, what is said and how should a Christian respond?

In the book of Romans, Paul gives a glimpse of the direction and heart change of the believer. He gives examples of how the Gospel changes all of us, not just our eternal destination and our standing before God, the Gospel changes our day to day outlook (Romans 12-13). The Gospel changes us! Continue reading “How Should a Christian Respond to Civil Authority”

Can You Do Church the Wrong Way?

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Is there a right way or a wrong way to do church? The church has been defined as not a building but the assembly or gathering of believers. The location and building of a church do not matter as much as what goes on in the church. You can argue that just because a group of people gather together, does that make a church? No, it is the gathering of saints (faithful and holy, believers) who come together in the name of Jesus Christ to worship him and be unified together in faith.

I am not wanting to define what is the church as I am more so wanting to say the service and goal of the church can be done the wrong way. I do believe Scripture gives some guidelines in how a church should function (Acts 2:42-47). With that, we also have some flexibility within those guidelines as Scripture may not be specific. For example, the building, music style, and the frequency of the Lord’s Supper is not in specified in the Bible. The Bible does not tell one how to adjust to contemporary culture yet is relevant for one to live in context to ones culture. On the other side, there is a danger of being innovative while missing these guidelines that are presented to the bride of Christ, the church. Granted, I would be amiss to assume that my approach to church is the best way or right way.

I think there is a great responsibility for the pastor to study the Word of God, seeking to apply Biblically what Scripture gives as those guidelines with the desire to proclaim the whole counsel of God. Continue reading “Can You Do Church the Wrong Way?”

What Do Christians Have in Common?

What the Church Shares-2
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We have more in common with Chrisitans than we do have uncommon. I have written about this in the past which is a common thread found throughout the New Testament. You can read about how Christians share in weeping for one another here and how we share in rejoicing with others here.

Sometimes we neglect the aspect of unity among believers (I call it the togetherness of the Christian life). We read in the Bible that believers, the church, are called a body. Christ is the head of the body, but each member (believer) is part of this body. Just like each perspective part of your body has usefulness so does the body of Christ. The apostle Paul reminds us,

“For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. 1 Corinthians 12:12, 14-20 ESV).”

Continue reading “What Do Christians Have in Common?”

Dear Pastors

A Letter to Pastors
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Brothers, co-laborers in the Lord. News just hit that a fellow pastor who was somewhat local to us took his own life. My heart grieves for his family, the church, and how the world takes this information. I will be praying for them for God’s great comfort to come upon them (2 Corinthians 1:3). Earlier this year The Christian Post had an article about the isolation of pastors and how depression hits hard for them. They gave staggering statistics on how depression and other areas of mental health effects those in pastoral positions. It is a hard position.
The Christian life is called a race (Hebrews 12). This race is not a sprint but a marathon. The marathon is more just a long distance run, it is like combing that with a spartan race. The Christian life is also called a battle (Ephesians 6). We are told these things not to have us grow weary but to finish strong to endure! Continue reading “Dear Pastors”

Does this Offend You?

Does this Offend you?
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A little bit of controversy has come up from this poster from a local mall which promoted our church’s Southern California outreach . Harvest, my church has done this outreach for last twenty-nine years.
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Different news outlets have reported on this where you can read more here. We as a church were first asked to modify it due to different complaints and one “threat” which the church complied because of the Bible that Pastor Greg Laurie is holding (Even though it is a Bible, the poster depicts more of a black book).  Eventually, we were asked to remove the banners completely from the mall.
The Bible has been a staple in our American culture with families having one in their living rooms to finding a Gideon’s Bible in every hotel room. Times have changed! The Bible which points people to the freedom from sin found in Jesus Christ alone is not valued but considered offensive. We should not be surprised by this. Continue reading “Does this Offend You?”

How To Fight Envy

How To Fight Envy
We all deal with this thing called envy. Maybe we justify it by saying it’s just thinking “the grass is greener on the other side”. We can think everyone deals with it so it’s just a feeling or an emotion. Envy is more than longing for the better thing or wishing life was better for you. It is comparing what other people have or don’t have Pastor Scott Sauls gets to the truth of what envy is and defines it this way,

“Envy is the opposite of love because it does not rejoice with this who rejoice or mourn with those who mourn. Instead, envy, in its sick and sinister way, rejoices when others mourn and mourns when others rejoice.”

Based on that definition, I must ask myself how often have I rejoiced when others mourned or mourned as others rejoice? In Scott Saul’s book From Weakness to Strength, he shares the example of when King Saul had envy over David. The women would sing as Saul went through the streets, “Saul has killed his thousands and David has killed his tens of thousands (1 Samuel 18:7).” One doesn’t have to read much further to see how Saul responded to this, he tries to kill David. Continue reading “How To Fight Envy”