Fear of Missing Out

fear of missing out

Have you ever suffered from FOMO? Fear Of Missing Out. These days, FOMO is epidemic. Our culture constantly assaults us with a barrage of marketing messages that cultivate a fear of missing out. And nothing cultivates FOMO as effectively as social media.

Reading about the good times other people are having can foster a sense of envy in us. Learning about social events we weren’t invited to can cause us to feel isolated. Looking at all the beautiful pictures of beautiful people with their beautiful families can make us feel as if we’ve failed in our own family.

FOMO is real. And the more we give in to it, the more addicted we become to our social media accounts. We may find ourselves checking posts every few minutes for the latest news about local social activities.

FOMO is treacherous because it fosters a sense of discontentment. Dissatisfaction. Ungratefulness. Not that we’d ever admit it, but we feel cheated because someone else is having a better time. Travelling to more fun locations. Being more successful.

Black Friday sales are a prime example of FOMO. At least it used to start on the Friday after Thanksgiving. Now Black Friday sales begin on Thursday. We spend the afternoon celebrating gratitude. Then we leave family at the dinner table while we chase sales from store to store, worried that we’re missing a better bargain down the street.

It’s ironic that those who are not at all concerned about spiritual things are religious about keeping up with everyone else in every other area of life. Yet they aren’t at all concerned about missing out on the most important experience of all. This temporary life consumes them, while eternity isn’t even a blip on their radar.

But Christians can fall into a similar trap. When I get caught up on the fear of missing out, I’m so busy focusing on the temporary that I lose sight of the eternal. I can become consumed with trying to do it all in this life, without considering whether the things that mean so much to me now will be as significant five months from now. Or five years from now.

As I enter this holiday season, I commit to kick FOMO to the curb. Rather than fear what I might be missing out on, I will focus on doing the next right thing. Taking the next right step. Considering the next right decision.

Will you join me?


Friendships that Sharpen Me

FriendshipAccording to Facebook, I have more than a thousand friends. Some of them I’ve never met in person. Many are acquaintances. Some are closer friends.

Then there are the friendships that go deeper. These are the relationships that have stood the test of time. Friendships based on eternal priorities. Loving relationships that truly want the best for the other person…even when “the best” might be a little painful.

These are the friendships that fulfill Proverbs 27:17: “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another” (NIV).

What does this type of friendship look like?

They require good listening skills.

Good listeners take the time to listen. They’re not in a hurry and they allow me the space I need to process what I’m experiencing and confide in them when I’m ready. They listen between the lines of conversation—listening as much for what is not said as for what is said. These friends can look me in the eye and know when I’m holding back. This is a skill I need to continue to develop!

They are encouraging relationships.

These friends know when I need a phone call, a hug, or a card. They’re the ones who drop me an email to say, “This verse reminded me of you. How are you doing today?” Their encouragement is not flattery, but rather provides the fuel to keep on persevering when I’m weary. It’s difficult to encourage others if I’m self-focused.

They provide the opportunity to ask hard questions.

Small talk is nice. Surface questions are polite. But these friends have earned permission to ask questions such as, “What has the Lord taught you since we last met?” Or, “What has the Holy Spirit been convicting you of?” Still, how we ask those questions can make a huge difference. This is not an interrogation!

They offer the opportunity to give without expecting in return.

These friends give of their time for lunch or coffee or maybe just a phone call. They might send a card or a bookmark—something tangible to remind me of this precious relationship. Still, the relationship is not about the gifts. As the adage says, “It’s the thought that counts!”

They are relationships that include prayer.

Nothing beats the encouragement of being told someone is praying for me. To know that in their intimate time with the Lord, my name is being lifted before the throne of heaven is balm for my spirit. Praying for someone else communicates that this is a friend who is as concerned with spiritual and eternal matters as they are with temporal and physical ones.

This is not just the kind of friend I want to have. It’s the kind of friend I want to be.

How about you?


Refrigerator Magnet Theology

refrigerator magnet
How many magnets grace the front of your refrigerator? One? Five? Twelve?

Refrigerator magnets can be silly, serious, or snarky. They can be cute, corny, or classy.

Refrigerator magnets have also generated much theology that sounds good…but isn’t.

Consider these catchy quotes:

  • God never gives us more than we can handle.
  • Cleanliness is next to godliness.
  • God helps those who help themselves.
  • We’re all God’s children.

Phrases passed down from generation to generation. Easily remembered sound bites with a whisper of biblical wisdom and a hint of Christianity…and a bucketful of error.

Let’s look at these four examples:

God never gives us more than we can handle.

This probably originated with II Corinthians 10:13:

“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it” (NIV).

As you can see, the context of this verse is temptation. God always provides a way for us to stand against temptation. But what about other life experiences? Let’s face it, most of us have experienced situations way beyond what we can handle on our own. The key in that last sentence is the phrase “on our own.”

We live in a fallen, sin-sick world. Tragedy strikes. Suffering happens. Betrayal blindsides us. Most of the time, it is indeed more than we can handle on our own.

But Christians are never “on our own.” We have the presence of the Holy Spirit in us to strengthen, guide, and give wisdom. When God allows us to experience more than we can handle ourselves, it’s an invitation to run to the One who provides what we need when we depend on Him.

 

Cleanliness is next to godliness.

This phrase probably developed in response to all the Bible verses that reference being cleansed—verses such as:

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (I John 1:9 NASB).

and

“You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you” (John 15:3 NASB).

But once again, if we examine the context, we’ll see these verses are talking about being cleansed from sin, not from physical dirt. (Although my mother may disagree!)

 

God helps those who help themselves.

This phrase does not appear anywhere in Scripture.

One of the biggest traps we can fall into spiritually is thinking that we must help ourselves before God will help us. The difference between Christianity and every other religion is that we cannot help ourselves into heaven. God has accomplished all that we need for our salvation. Consider Romans 5:6:

“For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly” (NASB).

God helps the helpless!

 

We’re all God’s children.

This phrase is more wishful thinking than anything else, because John 1:12 tells us:

“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name” (NASB).

Becoming a child of God does not happen by physical birth, it happens when we receive the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. At that moment, we are adopted into God’s family. In case you think this verse is the only way that teaches this, consider Galatians 4:4-5:

But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons” (NASB).

We are all created by God for He is the One who gives physical life. Becoming a child of  God—being adopted into His family—comes through faith in Jesus Christ.

 

Let’s guard against believing a statement because it sounds good or because it has been passed down from generation to generation. A refrigerator magnet is not the best source for sound theology. Check it against God’s Word to know, beyond any doubt, what is truly true.


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