Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The cautious return...

The day after I quit Facebook, Twitter and other social networks at God's command, I received notification from the library that a book I'd asked them to purchase had arrived. I went straight to 401 S. Jackson and picked up their freshly acquired copy of @stickyJesus. I laughed at the irony of it all. Here I was holding a copy of a book designed to help Jesus' followers serve him and live out their faith online and I had just left the world of status updates and tweets. Still, I thought it was an interesting topic, so I took it home.

Over the next several evenings and a Saturday, I read @stickyJesus from cover to cover. I was encouraged by the authors' call to missionary service in cyberspace. I was confronted by their warnings against pride and self-promotion. That was me. I wasn't online to show Jesus to the world. I was there to draw people to Mike Neifert (or openmikey, my most frequent username). I prayed a lot as I read. I confessed my sin to God.

I finished the book in a few short days. It's message sat there in my heart. I continued to pray. Then something unexpected happened. God released me to return to Facebook and Twitter. I was shocked and just a little suspicious. Was this "me" giving "me" permission or was it really God? I'm really good at rationalization. (We all are, aren't we?) I didn't rejoin the surfing throngs right away. I waited and developed a safety net. I did not want to return to my previous state of obsession. I did not want to become distracted from face-to-face relationships by their pixelated versions.

I went to Google and typed in: parental control software. I found a review of five products on ilovefreesoftware.com and chose Norton Online Family from the list. I set up my account, added a "child" named mikey, then called one of my accountability partners from Celebrate Recovery. I gave him the login information for my Norton account and asked him to monitor my internet usage.

Now, every time I log in, I am warned: "Norton Family is running on this computer and is currently supervising activity associated with this Windows account." Some of you might find that stifling. I have found it to be quite freeing. I have a "watchdog" in place to keep me away from trouble.

I am thankful to God for his leading in my life. His provision of a close friend is awesome. I am accountable to both. And now I'm accountable to you too. Feel free to ask me about my "online" life anytime you see me more frequently than it seems wise. If I'm posting frivolous stuff or self-promoting things, call me on it. I want to serve God and live righteously online. I want to show God-given self-control and wisdom.
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