the things they take in, pt 4: snapchat

As I have said in previous blog posts, technology and media keep changing. But despite this change and upgrade, the words of Solomon in Ecclesiastes still hold true,

What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun. Is there a thing of which it is said, “See, this is new”? It has been already in the ages before us. Ecclesiastes 1:9-10

There is nothing new under the sun. Which is hard for us to comprehend because the iPhone5s has to be different and better than the iPhone 5 … because it has a s stuck on to the end of it. But let’s be honest with ourselves. There is nothing new under the sun. Just better versions of the the same thing.

If you have never read the book of Ecclesiastes, I highly encourage it (1). To summarize it, Solomon was king of Jerusalem and he performed a social-science experiment where he took all of his resources (Forbes estimated his modern day worth to be $256 B.B.B.Billion) and said “I’m going to see where the meaning of life is found.” So, he throws huge festivals and parties, he eats good food and drinks the best drinks; he marries (hundreds of women), he has sex (with even more women), he has children, he builds houses, monuments, the temple,  he works hard as king and he comes to this conclusion that all is vanity and nothing is new under the sun.

It’s an amazing reality that Solomon comes to because he searches out life to find purpose and meaning and fulfillment in everything under the sun (this phrase is the cornerstone of the entire book) at a greater level than you and I could ever understand and says, “Eh… there is nothing new.”

So, time to get real. Most of you probably don’t have Snapchat nor know what it is. So, check out the minute video put out by the BBC

But I truly believe that it is the most perilous applications out there today. 

Here are some of the reasons why:

One) Snapchat is built on a few lies. The first is that a picture is only visible for a few seconds (between 1-10) Well, previously, you could take a screenshot of a picture and it would be saved on your phone, so a picture doesn’t have to vanish. It did notify the other person when the screenshot did happen, but now that feature is gone. Also, there is the option to “replay” the picture, which means any picture or video can be viewed a second time one a day. Not only that, but everything is saved on servers and can be found and used without your knowledge. Everything posted is public.

Two) Snapchat has an intended target. And you as a parent are not one of them. Recently, the software updated with features like filters and emoticons, making it feel a whole lot like instagram without the openness to it. Type in to google, click on images and you can clearly see the marketing of Snapchat is towards young females. Why you ask?

Three) Snapchat was created to sext. The creators of Snapchat (Stanford Graduates) are currently in court over who created Snapchat, and emails were shown between the creators that it was created as a way to sext. The lie says, “I can set a limit on who can see a picture of me and for how long … it can’t be that bad to be a little flirtatious and sexual.” You may use it innocently, but it was created and intended for sexting to be easy.

Four) You, as a parent, can’t really control it. If you give your son or daughter a smart phone with unlimited internet, they will be asked to download and use Snapchat. It isn’t downhill from there, but because it is so quick and simple, it makes it fun for them because there is a perception of freedom and independence. Even if you take their phone at night, you can’t see what they see. You don’t know what they sent out.

Five) Snapchat is perceived to be new and awesome. And I’m going to be honest with you: For some reason, even in my use of it, it is! I can take a picture and draw a beautiful “snapster piece” and send it out and it’s seems fun. But as Solomon said, there is nothing new under the sun.

Solomon was right. Even though Snapchat seems new and exciting, it isn’t. It is based off the same lies we find everywhere else in the world. Snapchat feels like it is safe, fun, and innocent, but those are the lies that mask the reality. It’s created to exploit, it’s intended to sext, and it’s not so private.

At Youth Group, we’ve been talking about culture and how we as Christians are called to live in culture but discern culture through grace. The Gospel says that in Christ we are free, but in our freedom, not all things are beneficial. So, by Grace, we are called to discern either to Receive, Reject, or Redeem things.

I think Snapchat is one of those things that can’t be Redeemed. I’ve been trying to use it for good, but I can’t do it anymore. I can’t be an advocate of Snapchat anymore.

So, I’m deleting my Snapchat account.

Parents, please. Talk to your teenagers about this. Lead them well. Build them up. Help them grow in understanding of the Gospel and of Grace.

(1) – But don’t just read it and be done with it. I am an advocate for reading through books of the Bible with aid or assistance. It is good to be reading through the Word of God by yourself, but it is helpful to also hear the Word (that you just read and studied) be taught and expounded well. Matt Chandler, Pastor of The Village Church in Texas, has a great sermon series on the book of Ecclesiastes . I encourage you to read through the book and listen to some of his sermons to help you better understand it. A lot of us commute to work. What would happen if instead of listening to music or sports talk radio, we listened to another sermon once a week to help us better understand the scripture? Where would we be in our faith because of this practice?

For more information about Snapchat, read this article.


the things they take in, pt 3: the internet

I don’t know if the internet will ever be replaced.

It has become so ingrained into our lives and culture that wireless internet is a must, we complain when we don’t have it.

The printed newspaper is a dying industry because of the internet. Media of all kinds is shifting towards a paperless/internet based platform. My Christmas gift this past year was a device that allows me to scroll throughout the internet, grab a book, or article, or newspaper, or blog (you name it), and download it for my consumption at any time. This used to be called a book store or library.

I love the internet. With the internet, I am 40% smarter than what I would actually be if i didn’t have the internet, but I’m probably 60% dumber because I don’t fully retain the information I just learned. Thanks to Wikipedia, I can discover if George Washington was really our first president (a youth group inside joke). Thanks to Youtube, I can watch hours of people falling down, getting hurt, failing at whatever they were trying to accomplish, or the like.

But thanks to the internet, I also have the ability to look up whatever my heart desires.

Like I told your students last night with Instagram, the internet is not the problem. Our sinful hearts are the problem.

So, what do we do with the internet in light of our sinful nature? How do we redeem the internet?

Matthew 6:22 says, “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light,”

Here are a few things that I think are good when we talk about redeeming the internet:

one) talk with your son/daughter – Gone are the days where one “talk” is enough. You, as a parent, should set the tone with how your son or daughter views their body, understands sex, imagines the perfect guy or girl they should (or shouldn’t) date. Raising your teens is a harder pursuit then when they were children but it involves you being active in conversation with them after the dinner table. Take your son or daughter to breakfast or to Carl’s or on a trip to the mall to talk about appropriate dress.

two) internet accountability and content filtering Covenant Eyes works on your computer, smart phone, or mobile device. Internet accountability and content filtering lets you know where your children are online to see what they are seeing. However, it is flawed because Covenant Eyes can’t sit your son down and talk about porn or talk to your daughter about the kind of man she should want.

three) parental controlsYoutube has them, Windows has them, Apple iOS has them, Google has them. Use them for your benefit. But again, the flaw is that these things aren’t enough.

If we are in Christ, we are new creations. We will still struggle with sin, however, our focus should be on our Savior, Jesus. In Him, we have redemption from our sin. Through Him, we have the Holy Spirit dwelling inside us, transforming and shaping us to be like Jesus. We have a Father who dishes out Unconditional Love not by our merit but by Jesus’.

The internet distracts us and pulls us away from our Savior. However, it can be redeemed. It can be used as a tool for discipleship and our spiritual growth (with websites like TheGospelCoalition, The Resurgence and The Verge Network to name a few). So, lets be wise with how we handle things on the world wide web. Realize that when a student is handed a smart phone or sits at a computer screen for hours on end, they are being taught life from other people. They have at their finger tips a device that has sent people into addiction.

Train them, urge them model for them the posture of being a Christian. Show them your passion for your Savior. Share with them what you learned from your devotions. Train them in the ways of the Lord. Be like Paul and become an imitator to them as you are in Christ. No longer seek your own good, but the good of your children. Not just their physical needs, but their greater need for a Savior.

Because the internet isn’t going anywhere. It just gets easier and easier for them to use it.