Say what you will about social networking, but God is using these tools to remind me of His abundant grace. Each and every day we have access to incredible minds and hearts. Even with a limit of 140 characters, truths from God’s Word and God’s people are being delivered to me each and every day via Twitter. This is simply and utterly the grace of God and I’m thankful for it. So here’s some top picks from this week. Follow them, learn from them, retweet, share, etc.
A Bible And A Shovel
As you probably already know, a major snow storm hit the East Coast this past week which brought loads of snow and shut down roads and airports for a few days. Many people are still feeling the effects of the several feet of snow that left them stranded, like the people of Newark, New Jersey. But what you may not have heard about is Cory Booker, the mayor of Newark, and a man that appears to be leading his town by example.
I first heard about Mr. Booker when he and Conan O’Brien were “feuding” over YouTube. During his short-lived run on the Tonight show Conan made a joke about Newark that didn’t go over too well with the mayor. So Booker took to YouTube to settle the matter, thus placing Conan on the Newark, New Jersey’s “no fly list”. The feud went back and forth for a while via YouTube and Conan’s show but ended on a high note when Conan invited Booker to the show and donated $100,000 to a charity in Newark.
But this week, Cory Booker was at it again — this time he wasn’t battling Conan, but the snow. According to Twitter’s blog, Cory was out in the streets of Newark with his shovel and a team of people literally digging people out of the snow. He was using his Blackberry phone and his Twitter account to let people know that he could come to them and clear their driveways or sidewalks and get them to where they needed to be. Some people had to work, others had doctor’s appointments, and the mayor wanted to make sure his people could get their safely.
As I read over his Twitter timeline and saw all the tweets and people he was helping I actually started to cry. Really, this man is leading by example and being an inspiration to others to do the same. It’s people helping people and that’s something anyone can get behind, especially those who are Christians, like myself. This challenges my own heart to remember that we all need to take care of each other, not just in snow storms, but in the storms of life. Mayor Booker might be literally digging people out of the weight of snow, but what about the weight of trials and hardship in life? I heard a pastor say once in regards to helping each other “… that’s what Christians do right, we help each other out!” I think he was right. The Christian life is not meant to be lived alone, but in a community of people and at times that is going to include getting our shovels out and doing some hard work to dig each other out. Another pastor I know said this during a men’s retreat which I think is appropriate, “There two things a man needs to be successful in this life: a Bible and a shovel.” He needs a Bible so he can understand God’s Word and follow what it says, and he needs a shovel to work hard and provide for his family and serve the church. Well, Mayor Booker is an example of how to use a shovel, and I am reminded that I can’t just read my Bible and expect things to happen — I need to pick up my shovel once in a while.
This isn’t the first article I’ve read on this topic, and it certainly won’t be the last as more and more Christian leaders discuss this topic in order to guide the Church. But MacArthur has a great clarity about him that few have, and I recommend this article (to be read in it’s ENTIRETY, not skimmed) to you and hope we can think through these things together. Here’s a snippet near the end that I found relevant, but again, read the whole thing:
While scientists and social critics debate the effects of social media on how we think, one thing remains clear: Christians must guard themselves against becoming theological pancakes. Thanks to the market-driven methodologies of the seeker-sensitive movement, the dumbing down of doctrine has characterized American evangelicalism for decades. In many ways, sites like Twitter and Facebook only exacerbate that problem because they provide a venue in which reductionism and extreme brevity simultaneously coincide with information overload and infinite distraction.
But not every theological truth can be adequately summarized in just a phrase or two. And not every debate can be resolved in just one blog article. Many doctrines require extended time and thought to properly process. Mature believers reflect deeply on the things of God and the truths of His Word.
They are not a mile wide and an inch deep. Instead their lives are marked by rich devotion, focused study, prolonged prayer, and careful mediation. Cultivating those kinds of spiritual disciplines takes time and effort—traits that are rarely prized in the information age.
Social Media and Digital Discernment, John MacArthur
Social Media and Digital Discernment, John MacArthur - PDF Version (much cleaner layout)
Making the Library Cool Again
I mentioned over a year ago about how the Library of Congress (LOC) was putting some of their photo collection online via Flickr and that it was probably one of the coolest things the U.S. government had done in a while. Well I went exploring some more today and found that they haven’t stopped with Flickr. As of today, I found official LOC operated sites on Flickr, Twitter, and YouTube — not to mention their ridiculously cool blog. Below are some screen shots and links of a few notable items I found from our friends in Washington. Funny thing — I always thought librarians were supposed to be mean and “shhhh” you all the time, but it seems like the LOC is doing quite the opposite:
The Library of Congress Blog
The Library of Congress blog is updated quite regularly with news about current collections at the LOC as well as fun tidbits and insights about history. One post I came across was a link to a 55 minute Stevie Wonder concert that was held at the Library back in February. The full concert footage is available exclusively at their blog. That’s just one reason to make sure to add their blog to your RSS feed reader.
The LOC on Flickr
This was the LOC’s first major break-in to social media and it’s definitely been a good one. Starting with some 3,000 images they have now doubled that figure in about a year and the photos just keep getting better and better. Their photo sets make it easy to browse different parts of the collection and one of my favorites is the set “1930s-40s in Color” which has some great shots of the riveters, state fairs, and I even saw a blimp in there. Go see the world of the past at the LOC’s Flickr page.
The LOC on YouTube
If Flickr is where the LOC hosts their still frames, then YouTube is now their place for moving pictures. Easily one of the greatest things about the LOC’s new YouTube page is the 42 videos they have of The Edison Company’s early films. Some of the videos are a little strange, but the fact that we now have digital footage of video taken in the 1880’s kind of blows my mind.
The LOC on Twitter
Don’t have time to read a blog? Don’t feel like viewing photos or watching videos? Well, you can get your bite-size version of the Library of Congress now at their official Twitter page. Though many of their updates are just relinks to their blog, they do however seem to have a real human behind the keyboard because this girl was looking for some “foreign policies” from the Clinton era and the LOC was happy to oblige her with the answer.