Archive for August, 2010

A Christian’s Guide to the Twitterverse

Twitter is supposed to be an open and honest window into the daily lives of the people we know.  But sometimes, that transparency can be dangerous…especially for Christians.  Rick Warren got some heat from fellow Christians just a couple of weeks ago because of this very thing.  In the process of expressing the spiritual strength of his church, he stirred up the Christian twittersphere.  His comments were misunderstood.  That said, it almost seems like someone should put together a Christian guide to the twitterverse.

Well, in the absence of an official, agreed-upon, nominated, voted-for, ratified, all-inclusive, God-breathed Twitter handbook for Christians, Jon Acuff from Stuff Christians Like has put together a list of 32 helpful guidelines.  While Jon’s stuff is usually meant to be half-serious and humorous, I think he’s on to something here.  These are his thoughts:

Christian Twitter Guidelines

1. Beware “the boy who cried retweet.” If you retweet everyone, you might as well retweet no one.

2. A photo online is forever. Don’t tweet a picture unless you’re ready for it to exist forever online.

3. If their Twitter profile lists “tickle fights” and “wearing bikinis” as their hobbies, they’re not real.

4. Complaining that someone you follow “tweets too much,” is the peak of Twitter selfishness.

What you’re saying is, “I know you have 200 followers, but I feel like you should have checked with me on the number of tweets I tolerate a day. It’s 7. And you just tweeted your eighth time of the day.”

5. If you’re a pastor, you are contractually obligated to tweet how hott your wife is or that you married up or out of your league.

6. When you write a rude tweet to tell someone they were rude, you create such a forcefield of irony it makes Alanis Morissette’s teeth hurt

7. Worrying about someone hating you is like chasing down a car that gave you the middle finger on the highway. Let it go.

8. Don’t make grand claims you won’t fulfill. I once promised to tweet through a section of the Bible. I didn’t. Epic fail on me.

9. Always, always double check that you’re sending a private direct message not a public tweet. Switching the two is not so awesome.

10. If a tweet gets retweeted a bunch, avoid the temptation to write 47 versions of that tweet. Quit tweeting a dead horse.

11. “Do what you love and you will find someone who loves the same thing; don’t look for love. Don’t beg for love, or suffer for love.”

You know who write that positive message? Snooki from the Jersey Shore show on MTV. Everyone and their grandmother tweets affirmations. Be careful that your amount of positive messages don’t make other people feel negative. I’m not above writing the odd positive tweet myself, but when you rainbow it all day, it can feel fake.

12. Don’t tweet holier than you normally talk. Don’t get seminary mouth all of the sudden when you get on Twitter.

13. Asking for a retweet is a bad way to first introduce yourself to someone. Make friends, not favors on twitter.

14. A smiley face is twitter’s version of “bless her heart.” You can’t tweet a jerk statement and then think ending it with a :) erases it.

15. If you’re married, you have 2 options for your photo: you kissing your spouse or a photo from your wedding.

16. Keep your name short. Your email address might be “GodismykingIpraisehiminthemorning777” but that’s too long to retweet.

17. Twitter has a 2 to 1 sarcasm ratio. For every 2 people who get your sarcasm, 1 person will take you seriously and think you’re a jerk.

18. Sending a link is like sending a piece of your reputation, send it carefully.

19. Don’t be 2 different people on twitter. Tweet the way you live. If you wouldn’t say something flirty in “real life,” don’t on Twitter.

20. Twitter is tone deaf. Be hyper careful about trying to speak subtly on Twitter. Words can be misinterpreted very, very easily.

21. Don’t become a “Christian Provocateur.” That’s great your church is doing a sermon on sex. Just don’t create fake sexy tweets for “buzz”

22. Focus on tweeting something vital, not something viral.

23. Don’t “twudge,” which is just twitter’s version of judging someone’s entire soul based on a 140-character tweet.

24. Don’t create silly words using the tw prefix. That goes for me too, “twudge?” Good grief! It’s so tempting though or twempting.

25. Don’t mistake number of followers on twitter for success on twitter. Measure quality of interactions not quantity of interactions.

26. Twitter is just a medium. Don’t fall so deeply in love that you think it won’t disappear or evolve like every other medium.

27. Resist the temptation to “turn on a speaker” during a conference. Public tweets are great for compliments, but bad for criticism.

I’ve seen this happen with hashtags, the way people can collectively see tweets about a certain subject. As a speaker, I love feedback from people in the crowd about what I’m talking about. But I think you should email or direct message your criticism and publically tweet your compliments. The ability to sway a crowd into a negative space is pretty massive. And let’s be honest, if during the middle of a conference speech you verbally screamed out, “That last point was whack!” your friends would sit somewhere else.

28. There needs to be some international sign that means, “I’m tweeting lines from the sermon during church.”

Right now, people think you’re playing Angry Birds if you use your iPhone during church. Until we have that sign, just do what I do and yell, “I’m tweeting the sermon!”

29. Look at a whole web page before you send a link to one thing you like on it.

A number of times I’ll be about to use twitpic and realize there’s a half naked photo for American Apparel on the page that is hosting the photo. I use the direct link option on image shack. You can’t be held accountable for the whole web, but be careful.

30. Twitter time is different from real time. Responding to a tweet from last week is like referencing the 1840s. Stay current or stay quiet

31. Unfortunately, 140 characters will not allow you to use a Christian email signature like, “In his grip,” in each tweet.

32. Be careful about sending someone an automatic direct message when they follow you. I’ve never had a good experience with one of those.

Pretty good start at our handbook, huh?  So, what more should we add?

Connect to Your Computer…From Anywhere

Have you ever found yourself on vacation and in need of a file that’s on your home computer?  Or maybe, you’d just like to be able to access your multiple computers from multiple places.  Forget expensive services like GoToMyPC.  Instead, opt for a free alternative.  This service can really help you get more done.

For about a year now, I’ve been using a free (as in FREE) service from a company named LogMeIn.  And that’s pronouned Log…Me…In, by the way.  It’s not some new dish at the local Chinese takeout.

LogMeIn has a full suite of services, but two in particular are likely to offer the free functionality that you’ll find helpful.  Here’s a rundown on the two services.

LogMeIn Free
The first service allows you to securely connect to your PC through any web browser.  In essence, it will open up your desktop in a browser window.  What you see through the browser is what you’d see if you were sitting right in front of the PC in your home.

LogMeIn Hamachi2
The second service links your various PCs so that they appear to be in the same network group…meaning you can share files and use your remote desktop client.  They are linked as if they were all at the same site.

5 Reasons Your Should Use LogMeIn
So, let me sum up the top five reasons you should use one of the flavors of LogMeIn.

  1. It’s Free – You pay nothing for personal use of these services.
  2. It’s Secure – Your data is encrypted. It’s safe.
  3. It’s Simple – Although LogMeIn may sound geeky, anyone can use it!
  4. It’s Convenient – You will save time.  You can work on files from anywhere.  No more driving back to the house to get the files you need.
  5. It’s Cross-Compatible – The browser-based version can be used on PC & Mac.

So, check it out!  This could be just the thing you’ve been waiting for.  No complicated port forwarding or other advanced router stuff.  Just a great product that’s simple to use.

Here’s a video clip that shows how easy it is to set up LogMeIn Free.

God Is Already Working

Have you ever found yourself thinking that it’s been a while since God has done anything “cool” for you?  Or perhaps more spiritually, that you haven’t seen God move in a discernible way lately?

Well, the truth is that God is always working in the world, doing amazing and miraculous things.

Now perhaps, God is moving in our lives, but we are just too distracted by our own desires to see Him working.  But for today, we’ll suppose that God really hasn’t done a lot of visible things in your neck of the woods here lately (I say visible because He is undoubtedly doing things behind the scenes).

If that’s the case, here is my suggestion.  Consider praying this prayer…

God, I know that you are doing amazing things today.  Please put me in a place where I can see where You are already working so that when You are finished doing the miraculous I can rejoice, too.

This prayer will work.  I promise you.

But let’s be clear, I am not recommending that you ask God to bless you outright because He’s been “holding back” on you lately.  I’m encouraging you to ask God to guide you to a place where you can see and be a part of what He’s already doing.  He’s already working.  You’re just asking Him to let you be a part of it so that you can give Him glory when He’s done.

Missions Trip Lessons

So, this past month, I was out of the country on a missions trip in Belize.  We had an amazing time taking part in the ministry of missionary Dan Weaver and building an addition to the MANNA Feeding Center that our church supports there in the Valley of Peace.

While I was away, I learned four key factors that contribute to the experience of a successful trip.  While there are certainly other factors beyond the four that are mentioned here, these four are vital and are the responsibility of each individual team member.  Other factors involving the missionary to be visited and the resources that must be secured are important, but they go beyond the responsibility of the individual team members.  These four keys must be embodied by each team member in order to have the most successful trip possible.

Key #1: Prepare Spiritually
This shouldn’t surprise anyone. But, it deserves first priority here.  We should not expect God to bless when He has been excluded from the preparation for an event.  We must depart on missions having a proper relationship with God.  So, do the tough work

Key #2: Know Your Role
Every team member has an important role to fulfill.  Not everyone has the same role, but everyone has an important role.  You must find yours and embrace it.  Depending on the trip, the roles will vary, but in general you will need a team leader, a driver, a carpenter, a heavy lifter, a techie, a mom, an evangelist (not in the televangelist sense), a problem solver, an encourager, a server, and the list goes on.  God assembles teams with the needs of the team in mind.  Find your role and love it!

Key #3: Watch Your Attitude
Crazy things happen when you leave the country.  Things don’t happen overseas the way that they happen here.  And since you can’t always expect the unexpected, it is incredibly important that the team members watch their attitudes carefully.  Don’t be the person that loses it!  Be part of the solution. Encourage one another.  Have fun. Don’t let bad attitudes ruin the trip.  That’s exactly what the enemy wants. Don’t help the enemy…they’re doing just fine on their own.

Key #4: Remember That It’s About God…Not You!
The purpose of a missions trip is not to advance your agenda or your name and fame.  It’s not a vacation.  It’s not an opportunity for you to add to your “I’ve been there before” list.  It’s about God and advancing His kingdom.  It’s about spreading His name and fame.  That is your task.  Let nothing distract you!

2010 Missions Trip to Belize from Palmetto Avenue Baptist Church on Vimeo.