Giving up Facebook… for Lent?

Kristi Gustafson, social media strategist/staff writer for the Albany Times Union, recently asked me about a growing trend: giving up Facebook, Twitter, and other social media for Lent.  I was glad to hear that Kristi was very familiar with the practice of Lenten fasting in the 21st century.  Check out her article and my comments:

Chocolate, swearing, eating out. These are things Christians have given up for Lent for decades.

Now there’s something new to sacrifice.


The average Facebook user spends 4 hours and 35 minutes a month posting updates on their relationships, checking friends’ vacation photos and playing games like Farmville on the social networking site, according to a January report from Experian Hitwise, a New York City-based global research firm.

That’s more time than most of us spend doing anything other than sleeping, exercising or being at work.

In an age in which Facebook sees more monthly traffic than Google, some Lenten observers are leaving their “friends” behind as part of their commitment to the 40-day fasting.

“Giving up the same things year after year gets boring and you have to freshen it up,” says the Rev. Alan Rudnick with the First Baptist Church in Ballston Spa. “With the popularity of social media, people will say, ‘I like Facebook or Twitter just as much as I like chocolate.’ “

Burned Out? There's an app for that

Feeling stressed out? Burned out? Or just down?  Your iPhone can help you with that because… there’s an app for that.  You can now download the “Holy Roller” app that finds encouraging scripture. The app profile says, “The Holy Roller is the best way to find the Biblical guidance to your everyday ups and downs. Simply scroll the Holy Roller to find what you are feeling, hit next or shake your iPhone, and your scripture will appear.”

The United Methodist Report describes the app:

Users start by accessing one of two lists: “Burdens” such as frustration, worry or doubt, or “Blessings,” such as friendship, family or health.

By tapping on the topic, the user receives one or more relevant Bible verses. For example, if the burden is “Frustration,” Hebrews 10:36 pops up on the screen: “For you need endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.” Or, if you’re looking for the blessing of “Inner Peace,” a few taps on the screen will take the user to Psalm 23: “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”

Apparently, this $2 app is popular. Over 1,000 downloads already at the iTunes store.

REMEMBER: All this week you can enter to win two free books.

Free Book Giveaway

I’m giving away a free copy of Russell Rathbun’s book nuChristian (read my related posts here and review here) and two free copies of Henri Nouwen’s In the Name of Jesus.


There are two ways to win:

  1. Subscribe to my blog with the link to the right. Enter your email and click “subscribe” or if you are a WordPress user, click “subscribe” on the top of this page. (Subscribing allows an automatic email update to be sent to your email address. No spam, I promise.  New subscribers will only be entered in this giveaway.)
  2. Follow me on twitter:

The winners will be picked at random.  You can subscribe to On The Bema and follow me on Twitter, which gives you two chances to win.  You have till Monday, March 28 @ noon Good luck!

Shane Claiborne, author and activist comments on nuChristian:

“I am convinced that if we lose a generation in the church, that loss won’t be because we failed to entertain them, but because we failed to dare them — to take the words of Jesus seriously and to do something about the things that are wrong in the world. Russell Rathbun offers us that dare — to renew a Christianity that reminds the world of Jesus again.”

Crazy "God Girl" Japan Video Trolling the Internet

If someone sends you a link to a video of a girl talking to the camera about how happy she is about the Japanese earthquake don’t worry… it’s fake. A young women named “tamtampamela” has been trolling the internet with fake personal testimonies about her crazy religious views on parody websites.  “It’s so amazing to see how God can answer prayers like this,” she said. “I’m so overjoyed.” Somehow, people thought it was real.

If you are easily offended, don’t watch.

Here, she “explains” her fake videos:

[Read more…]

American Baptist Missionaries Safe in Japan

American Baptist Churches USA

Image via Wikipedia

With this horrible tsunami many are trying to get word about their loved ones.  Our American Baptist missionaries in Japan are safe.  International Ministries of the American Baptist Churches U.S.A. reports:

Stan Murray, Area Director for Southeast Asia and Japan has sent this report:

Roberta is safe! She had to evacuate with the students (up to 22,000) at Kanto Gakuin University and will not be able to return to her home until at least tomorrow. Japanese practice for these events all the time and are cooperative in carrying out the plan. The Hwangs should be fine if they were home. Soshin School, where Lee Ann teaches and where they live, is a very high point in Yokohama.

E-mails from John Armagost and Leslie Turley have come in and they are safe. Alisen Armagost was at a different location at a soccer game but she has now checked in with her parents and is safe. Armagosts are far from the affected area. Turleys are also safe and do not expect much of an issue when the wave reaches Okinawa. I have yet to hear from Roberta Stephens and the Hwangs. While they live closer to the shoreline in Yokohama, they are both on pretty high ground so should be fine. I have tried repeatedly to phone and e-mail them. No success yet. I will let you know when I do hear. [Read more…]

A Prayer for Ash Wednesday

The house of my soul is narrow;
enlarge it that you may enter in.
It is ruinous, O repair it!
It displeases Your sight.
I confess it, I know.
But who shall cleanse it,
to whom shall I cry but to you?
Cleanse me from my secret faults,
O Lord, and spare Your servant from strange sins.

St. Augustine of Hippo – (354-430 CE)

Christians all around the world celebrate Ash Wednesday today. Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent, a period of 40 days (really 46 including Sundays) before Easter. It is a time of reflection upon our need for salvation, forgiveness, and the fundamental priorities of the Gospel.

It is customary for Christians to give something up for Lent. This act remembers Christ giving himself up and remembers his suffering. Many give up sweets, soda, or some type of rich food.  While giving something up for Lent is a simple way to remember what Lent is all about, is it time we Christians try something other than deprivation? [Read more…]

What Satan Can Teach Us About Lent

Several years ago, I read a dramatic billboard sign that compelled the reader to think about Satan. The billboard read:

Do you believe in Satan? He believes in you.

A striking message, isn’t it? Many of us choose not to think too much about the forces of evil or how Satan plays a part in the Christian story. However, Satan is very much a part of the Christian story, but he is not an inspiring character. Since the beginning of the biblical record, Satan (in Hebrew hasatan means “accuser”) existed in various forms. The presence or mention of the demonic is documented in Genesis, Job, Psalms, Zechariah, the Gospels, and Revelation.

As a way to prepare for the celebration of Easter, Christians all around the world will prepare through the season of Lent. For 40 days (not including Sundays) Christians mark this time through study, prayer, fasting, reflection, worship, service, and meditation on God’s word. Lent provides a way for Christians to change the rhythm of their life by contemplating the less glamorous Christian imperatives such as forgiveness, morality, repentance, suffering, and penitence.

Believe it or not, Satan can teach us about Lent in the Christian life. How? Beginning in the book of Luke, Jesus departs for the wilderness in chapter 4 and confronts Satan, the Accuser: [Read more…]

Lets Freak out about Rob Bell!

Run for the hills! Rob Bell is heretical! Ahhhhh!!!

If you have not followed the story, famed pastor, speaker, author, and Nooma guru has a new book coming out entitled, Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived. A few chapters were released to a few bloggers and writers.

Those who have read the incomplete manuscript resolve that Rob Bell is a heretic  and his career is over. The claims have ranged from he is an Universalist or he is the devil.

Here is the video that is causing the stir

Let’s all freak out about Rob Bell!

Folks, Bell has always been on the edge of Christianity and that is a good thing.  More on that later. I have not read the book or seen the pre-released chapters, but let’s not jump to conclusions like some other big time Christian figures, authors, and pastors.  Check out their comments: [Read more…]

Justin Bieber Says, 'Just Pray'

As tween pop culture singer Justin Bieber just celebrated his 17th birthday, he makes it clear that he is serious about his faith in Jesus Christ. Bieber’s new 3-D concert film/documentary “Justin Bieber: Never Say Never,” features the singer praying, speaking about his beliefs and speaking about his commitment to Jesus Christ.

Millions of Bieber fans might not know but he received his start from singing Christian songs on YouTube. His current songs feature religious messages such as his single “Pray,”:  “I close my eyes and pray. I close my eyes and I can see a better day.” The music video concludes with the word, “God speaks in the silence of the heart. Listening is the beginning of prayer.”

Young pop stars sharing their faith is nothing new. The Jonas Brothers certainly made their beliefs known in very public ways. I was surprised to see an interview with Bieber’s mother, Pattie Mallette who talked about guarding her son from the music world’s pitfalls. [Read more…]

What Lent and Weddings Have in Common

One the ways weddings become such a momentous and exciting event is the fact that there is an engagement period.  A couple announces their intent to be wed and sets a date.  Over a period of months, planning becomes paramount.  Flowers, dresses, guest lists, food, location, and a million other little details go into planning a wedding.  Anticipation builds as the wedding comes closer.  The ceremony begins, vows are given, rings exchanged, and finally the pronouncement (and the kiss)!  Usually, there is a joyous reception that follows which signals the end of waiting and celebrates the joining of two people together in marriage.

Lent is fast approaching.  A time in the Christian Church where preparations are made in anticipation of Easter.  Lent is a period of forty days before Easter (not counting Sundays). The word “lent” comes from an Anglo-Saxon word meaning “spring” and refers to a season when the days become longer.

Many Christians question the usefulness of Lent.  “It’s Catholic.” or “It’s about punishment.” are typical responses to Lent.  Christians for hundreds of years have made Lent into a spiritual journey. However, many contemporary Christians ask, “Do I really need a structured way of preparing for Easter?” [Read more…]