Saturday, December 28, 2013

What's Trending Now?

"Hast thou faith? have it to thyself before God.
Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth."
Romans 14:22
(KJV)


I've been noticing, along with everyone else who uses the internet,
that when I sign on to Yahoo to search for something,
there is a box on the right side that says, "Trending Now".
Below the title is a list of the top ten most popular search terms, at that moment,
based upon every hit Yahoo has had in a certain time period.

Usually, it is in keeping with some latest news flash,
and often it is the name of a celebrity or has to do with some kind of scandal,
or a current vehicle or product on the market that is being heavily promoted, etc.

If you want to join the "trending" bandwagon, you can jump on
with a single click on one of the ten topics listed,
and you will be instantly redirected.
Once you get there, you will find every current news flash about it,
along with photos, youtube videos, etc.

As a noun, the word "trend" means:
the general direction in which something tends to move,
a general tendency or inclination,
current style or vogue.

As a verb, "trend" means:
to extend, incline, or veer in a specified direction,
to show a general tendency; tend.

It occurred to me, as I glanced over the "trending now" topics today,
that just because something is "trendy",
just because everyone else is doing it,
just because it has had a million internet hits,
just because the media says its the latest, greatest thing,
that does not in any way, shape, or form mean that it is in my best interest to click on it and be carried away
for the next hour, give or take, reading all about it and indulging in the details.

I have never seen anything that is more crammed full of distractions than the internet,
have you?

I can open a browser with the sole intention of doing research for a devotional,
looking up a Bible verse,
or searching for one specific thing,
and all of a sudden, something catches my eye that is completely innocent in and of itself,
I have taken the bait...hook, line, and sinker....
and before I know it I have been reeled in,
and shamefully, I have wasted...yes, completely wasted....
an hour or more of the precious, limited time we all have coming to us.

I don't know of anything in the world that contains more time thieves
and fosters more of a time-wasting smorgasbord...than the internet.
Honestly.
You can just get drawn in to it to the degree that what started out so innocent in and of itself
has become not-so-innocent anymore simply because you have grossly over-indulged,
left needful things undone because of it,
and replaced what matters most with what doesn't really matter at all.

Has anyone else ever experienced this?

Sadly, there is zero spiritual edification in a big percentage of what is "trending".

I wonder....if we paused to ask ourselves a few, pointed questions
before we become so enthralled in joining the masses...
could we maybe save ourselves some regret?
Could we redeem some precious, valuable time...
right in the midst of the days being so overwhelmingly evil? (Ephesians 5:16)
I wonder if we would be so easily and willfully carried off-track?
The questions need to be asked before the first click of the mouse in the direction of the detour.
Once you click, once you change directions, once you start down that path,
it is more difficult to stop than if you never took the first bite of bait.

So, before we click, before we are caught up in what's trending...
just for the sake of it being popular and sought after,
maybe we should ask ourselves some questions along these lines.
Do I really have the "extra" time at the moment to indulge?
Are there other things I should be doing right now?
Is(are) my child(ren) awake and wishing for my attention?
Is my husband available for some quality bonding time?
Is it good for my soul?
Is it in the best interest of the edification of my relationship with God?
Will watching this and/or reading about it hinder or enhance my daily walk with Him?
Is pop culture a safe and reliable guide to determine 
how I spend my time?
Does it deliver a safe definition of what is spiritually beneficial?
Can it be trusted to guard and protect the part of us that will one day face God and live forever?

To whom should we look for guidance?
Those who follow politically-correctness
 or those who adhere to what is Biblically correct?
Does what is "trending" promote a closer walk with Christ?
Do I really need to sit and watch the vulgar and obscene antics of wayward celebrities...
just because everyone else in the world is caught up in indulging in it?

After all, aren't we supposed to be different from the world?  (I Peter 2:9)
Didn't Jesus say in the 17th chapter of John that we are in the world, but not of the world?
Aren't we a called out people, peculiar in our stand for righteousness? (I Peter 2:21)

Not saying that everything that "trends" is bad for you....
just saying we need to stop, look to the Lord, and listen to His voice
before we leap into anything and everything that is readily available and eye-catching.

Remember, once those images are stored in the human brain,
the hidden malware has been injected, leaving a damaging trail behind.
(Click here to read.)
Our eyes are the windows to our souls.
Once its viewed, it moves...from the eyes...to the mind...to the heart.

Is it really in the best interest of our overall spiritual health to just roll with the flow,
with what everyone else is doing,
and entrust it to anything just because "it's trending"?

There are just certain things we should refrain from participating in....
no matter who else is doing it.
Regardless if the whole world is chasing after it.
In spite of who approves of it and/or says it is okay.

Trends come and go.
Some are good and wholesome, some are not so much.
Trends are not safe to follow, without first applying careful, discerning inspection.

I know some who have strong convictions that it is a sin
to even allow the internet to reside and be available in the home.
Because of the evil that is available on it, and regardless of the good it provides,
they feel they must refrain from it entirely.
Then I know some who don't believe in having the internet in their home,
yet they will lay down their strong opinions and indulge when in another person's home.
Then there are some who believe it is okay to spend time on the internet only during their trips to the library,
since there are time restrictions, filters, etc.
Hey, if that's what they have to do, then by all means, they should do it.

At the same time, no one should ever inflict
what are strictly exclusive personal convictions upon others.
To do that is unfair.
On the flip side, those who allow certain things should not be harsh or judgmental toward those
who do not allow them, because truly we cannot read each other's hearts, right?
Only God can do that.
Haven't we all been on the receiving end of that kind of mean-spirited judgment?
Shouldn't we refrain from inflicting its sting on others?

If we are weak in a certain area, if that area has tripped us up repeatedly,
then we need to do what we must in order to avoid future failures.
We need to put the guard rails in place...based on what it takes for us to individually mind God.
(Click here to read more.)

I believe we can go overboard in any part of our lives and get way off-track...
both on the side of fanaticism and on the side of compromise.
Both sides can be equally damaging.
There is a completely happy medium...
a realm in which we can abide that is completely and entirely approved by God.
Only you and God know of what that is comprised....for you.

It kind of reminds me of the number lines Zachary has been studying in math.
One step to the left of zero heads you in a negative direction.
One step to the right starts you in a positive.
Both sides go on indefinitely...in opposite directions.
Zero is completely balanced.
Isn't that what we are all striving for?
Balance in our Christian life?
Maybe in order to maintain balance, we need to keep self where it belongs...
on zero.
Selfless, 100%, fully resigned and surrendered to what God deems best for us.
If the pendulum of our mindset begins to sway towards extreme on either side,
we become off-balanced and less apt to please God or be effective for Him.

Your areas of temptation may be worlds apart different than mine,
and vice verse.

Aren't you glad God is sovereign and it is He, and only He, that we are required to please?

The main point I am trying to make could never be worded more clearly
or more eloquently than through the words in today's verse.
"Hast thou faith? have it to thyself before God.
Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth."
Romans 14:22
For the sake of clarification and reinforcement of the force behind these words,
here are some other Bible version translations.

"The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God.
Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves."
NASB

"The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God.
Blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he approves."
ESV

"As for the faith you do have, have it as your own conviction before God.
How blessed is the person who has no reason to condemn himself because of what he approves!"
ISV
While this verse could be grossly misinterpreted as giving a person free rein to do anything 
and everything they want to do as long as their own personal convictions do not condemn it,
we need to, as in every passage of Scripture, 
rightly divide the Word of truth and keep it in its proper context.

We need to always make sure our personal convictions are God-given convictions.
If they are truly God-given, they will always be in line with God's definition of sin.

"Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth."

The things which we allow...
herein lies the key.
True happiness comes only in this form....
to indulge only in the things of which God approves.
The result is the joy of living life completely void of condemnation.

Allowing ourselves to walk into forbidden territory....
regardless of how popular and "trendy" the world has labeled it to be,
automatically brings a cloud of condemnation and guilt over our spiritual life.
No one can be truly happy when they are willfully partaking of
and making room for things over which they feel condemned by God.

I have found that there are certain things I simply cannot do and remain in relationship with the Lord.
I see others who can.
Not that I am judging them, but based on the sweet spirit they manifest and the spiritual fruit they bear,
I know, without a doubt that they are true Christians.
So, why can they do certain things that God has told me I cannot do
and still stay clear before Him?

It all goes back to 2 Corinthians 10:12,
"For we dare not make ourselves of the number,
or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves:
but they measuring themselves by themselves,
and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise."

Why?

Because the Christian walk is an individual matter,
between one's soul and God.
Because everyone has varying degrees of light and understanding.
Because you are only required to walk in the light you are capable of seeing,
and I am only required to walk in the light I can see.
Because our areas of temptation are as diverse as the extent of our spiritual comprehension.
Because Jesus said the precious Holy Spirit is the One Who
"will guide you into all truth: 
 for He shall not speak of Himself; 
but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak: 
and He will shew you things to come." (John 16:13)
Because only God can see into the human heart.

Because only He can accurately wield the Sword of His Word that

"is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, 

piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, 
and of the joints and marrow, 
and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
Hebrews 4:12
Because "the LORD is a God of knowledge, and by Him actions are weighed." I Samuel 2:3

To attempt to take the role of judge upon ourselves
and look down our noses upon our brothers and sisters because they
do not "measure up" to our personal standards of conviction is just plain wrong.
It is uglier than the very things 
of which we are so quick to pass judgment.

Philippians 2:12 tells us to
"work out your own salvation with fear and trembling."

I don't know about you, but I have a hard enough time working out my own salvation
and keeping myself straight. :)
I don't have the time or energy to go around trying to work out everyone else's
or attempting to make sure everyone else is living up to what I think is right.
Who am I anyway?
Who are these personal convictions for anyhow?
Isn't there a reason they are called "personal"?

I'll leave the judging to the Judge.
What a relief to know it isn't up to me, and I shoulder no responsibility for the actions of others.
How liberating!

What's trending now may or may not be
conducive to holy living and a closer walk with Jesus Christ.
If it is, by all means, pursue it with all your heart.
If it isn't, avoid it like the plague.
Being able to identify the difference requires heavy reliance upon the direction of the Holy Spirit,
staying close enough to God to make sure we can hear His still, small voice,
and being swift to obey and follow His lead.
And remember, just because it's trending now and the greatest thing since sliced bread....
in the opinions of others, at least....
does not in any way suggest that it is good for you....or me to allow in our lives.


Pleasing the Christ child Who came that first Christmas night, 
and Who grew into a man and paid the ultimate price 
to become the Captain of our salvation, 
is what brings true happiness and is what matters most.

2 comments:

  1. I totally agree with this! It's a little sad to see how the world views the top trends, huh? Glad we can stand together and focus our eyes on the real truth!

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    Replies
    1. Yes, it is very sad. So thankful for you and the dear blessing you are to me! God's peace be with you. Love, Cheryl

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